My coworkers were little help. Lottie, who started every single day telling me to do my best, became my personal kitten poster. Hang in there! Another had set up an Amiibo phone, to call Amiibos, you see. What if you want to call anyone else? Too bad, he said. This is an Amiibo phone. I used the Amiibo phone once, using an included Amiibo card. The client, a pink otter named Pascal, told me to design him a house, and gave me no criteria. What little structure the game had somehow became even less so.
Mario Party: Island Tour never seems a natural fit on the 3DS. It feels more like the game has been hammered into shape to fit as well as it can on the platform. Yet, with no online support and inconsistent mini-game quality, those concessions just aren't enough to warrant the franchise's move to handheld.
All of this took a promising franchise introduction and just left a bad taste in my mouth. I genuinely enjoyed a lot of aspects of ReCore--the world, the nail-biting platforming challenges, the smart and fast-paced combat. But it comes with so many issues and reservations that it becomes hard to recommend. I liked ReCore enough to hope we'll see an improved sequel, but if we do, I'll recommend players skip to that one.
In its day, Mega Man went from a pioneering force in action game perfection to the poster child for redundant, cookie cutter sequels that failed to push the genre forward. Mighty No 9 does present a few concepts that feel like they could have been the next iterative step. Even if it had avoided its many pitfalls and baffling design choices, though, it's likely a few decades too late for such minor improvements.
Combat also comes into play occasionally. It's a secondary trait to the puzzle-solving play, accented by how long it takes to get a traditional weapon for your tiny submarine. Until then, you simply have to make-do with a grappling claw. Upgrades are available that add qualities like extra damage or special attributes to your shots, though it seems as if a few unmarked upgrades would be necessary to handle some of the more difficult combat scenarios.
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.
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.
Mario Tennis' transition to the Wii U feels like one step forward and two steps back. The addition of Mega Mushrooms is clever enough, but the game doesn't commit to the idea of power-ups enough to sustain it. Meanwhile the no-frills package feels so anemic that I was burned out on the experience after only a few hours. If you want a great Mario Tennis game, stick with the better, cheaper, and more complete 3DS version.
All of that makes Battleborn feel light, airy, and inconsequential. It's enjoyable in its best moments and especially in one of its multiplayer modes, but the problem comes with its lack of longevity. It's clearly a game built to be enjoyed in the long-term, like the MOBAs that inspired it, but it doesn't have the legs to run that far. This is a game built to be played repeatedly over the course of months, but I felt tired of it after a week.
Though Star Fox Guard is presented separately, it is packed in with Star Fox Zero and essentially serves as a mini-game. This repurposed tech demo, once called Project Guard, showed potential when it was first shown off, and that's been realized fairly well here. The tower defense structure does make good use of the dual cameras, forcing you to pay attention and swap on the fly to take out enemies. I did often wish there was a more reliable way to swap camera views, since my thumb was too imprecise but holding the stylus while shooting isn't comfortable. It's a shallow experience on the whole, and not meant for long stretches. While it does offer some longevity, due to the variety of stages, it definitely isn't a reason to pick up the Star Fox Zero package in itself. It will be sold separately for $14.99 on the Nintendo eShop.
At one point, Paul Serene emphatically states that the timeline is set, and that the advent of time fracturing and collapsing on itself can't be avoided. There is only one reality, he argues. If Quantum Break is a game fractured between two worlds, the one reality set for us as players is the one in which it's a shooter that often isn't a shooter, and a story that doesn't fully explore its narrative potential. It has intriguing ideas regarding both, but in this case, two halves don't really make a whole.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a usually fun, too-often frustrating, and always beautiful game. Being the first HD entry sets it apart somewhat, but if Nintendo intends to keep iterating on this series, it needs to fix some legacy issues and study which stages work to make the entire experience more pleasantly consistent.