In broad terms, I can understand why Mario Kart 8 might be hard to justify for some players. It's a re-release of a game Nintendo put out three years ago, and that Nintendo fans (who make up a large portion of the Switch audience) probably already played. That said, this is a fantastic addition to the Switch library, not just as a great game but as one that benefits from the system's core features. It adds the requisite new content and fixes the one large oversight of the original. Mario Kart 8 was already one of the best in the series. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is even better.
The Disney Afternoon Collection may not have the consistency of Capcom's previous work with the Eclipse Engine, thanks to its library varying in quality. But it is just as reverent and breezy, and the addition of the Rewind feature helps ease the journey into the past. If you were a fan of even a few of these games, you owe it to yourself to see them presented so respectfully for a modern audience.
Halo Wars didn't rewrite the RTS playbook, and Halo Wars 2 is unlikely to bring on many converts who weren't convinced by the first attempt. In many ways this is an iterative sequel, with new units and balance, and a handful of additions. The campaign is well-made and the multiplayer shines thanks largely to Blitz Mode. It's a streamlined take on a genre that has faded even more in recent years, but in its own way, Halo Wars 2 is still carrying the flame.
When I began Horizon: Zero Dawn, I was anxious it wouldn't be able to maintain itself for thirty-plus hours. I'm thrilled that fear was unfounded. The play was constantly rich and rewarding, and the mysteries constantly unfolding. I'm left not just feeling satisfied the entire time, but wanting more. This one is something special.
It's fitting, somehow, that a game series so lovingly modeled after a famous B-movie would itself result in a B-tier game. Dead Rising 4 is uneven and less polished than many other games this fall. It's the kind of light, airy game I would have expected earlier in the year, when it wouldn't risk being swallowed up by the holiday season. At its core it's a pulp adventure, with winking witticisms and bloody messes strewn throughout. That makes it, if not entirely memorable, at least a bloody good time that understands the ephemeral nature of camp.
Maybe as a result of the sheer growing mass of Skylanders games, though, the level design here is particularly uninspired. Most maps are simple A-to-B affairs, with some simplistic puzzles dotting the landscape. It carries some legacy issues, like the frustratingly slow block-pushing puzzles, and the inability to easily read ahead when characters are slowly delivering their dialogue points. Plus the central hub, called M.A.P.S., is a bit more confusing than most of the past hub worlds, since it consists of several floating islands without obvious paths between them.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is the kind of simple, lightly enjoyable experience that I might have willingly gotten lost in at one point in my life. It's mostly inoffensive, usually charming, and a visual treat. The battle system is a drag, but it's emblematic of a larger problem that is also reflected in the quests: it simply doesn't respect the player's time. With more aggressive story editing and less desire to reinvent the wheel, this may have been something truly special. Instead it's merely fine.