Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is the type of sequel that will make you smile, improving every aspect over its predecessor. The racing feels smoother, picking your kart components and crew is fun, and there is much more variety in terms of the intellectual properties used this time around. There are plenty of single-player additions, such as time trials and challenges to complete after beating the Slime Grand Prix cups, online multiplayer for up to eight players, and four-player local split-screen multiplayer. Sadly, the racers are again silent, which is such a missed opportunity to record new voice-overs or use samples from the shows. Considering the title's budget price point, it is hard to dwell on it too much but would have elevated the entire experience.
Projection: First Light is a charming tale of a little girl learning perspective and self-enlightenment through various cultures worldwide. The gameplay loop is continually changing as you move through areas, adding new elements such as swinging platforms, fire breathing dragon statues, spikes, massive boulders, and more. There are even a few boss encounters, although the final boss sequence (I won't give too much away) quickly becomes frustrating due to finicky precision controls during a chase scene.
The new team in charge of Tennis World Tour 2 has thankfully made enhancements to a series that badly needed a do-over. It puts it in a better position for the future by expanding the roster and making key gameplay improvements. Although animations have been doubled, characters still appear to be quite stiff at times and even slide into animations awkwardly. The courts are nicely rendered, and when playing exhibition matches, you can freely alter the surface type on non-licensed venues. I think the timing of strokes needs to be adjusted, especially when playing on an easier difficulty.
Hotshot Racing's retro-inspired high-adrenaline arcade racing is simply a joy to experience. The courses themselves are varied, colorful, charming, and full of personality, albeit slightly on the simplistic side in terms of the track designs. Yes, the AI rubber-banding is a relic of the past, but does help deliver tense racing moments. Cranking up the difficulty is similar to moving from 50cc to 150cc in Mario Kart; everything feels faster. The local and online multiplayer should give the game legs, especially considering how fun I found the additional game modes. Now excuse me, I need to live my life drifting through the jungle, avoiding dinosaurs, and trying not to explode.
The complicated issues and themes hinted at in The Suicide of Rachel Foster present a haunting tale of digging up the past based on one's perspective. The start of the game hammers home Nicole's father as the leading cause of the death of teenager Rachel Foster, but when you first reach the hotel, the game's narrative focuses on her survival. Slowly day after day, things unwind, as memories come flooding back. A few plot twists are sprinkled throughout, but nothing should feel like a surprise once they happen if you are paying attention.
Shing! delivers a unique approach to the stagnant brawler genre, but still has room for improvements. When a lot of yōkai are on-screen, I found myself wagging the right analog stick like a mad man, attempting to handle so many foes at once. The whole point of advancing the genre is to avoid having to "mash buttons" or, in this case, "waggle." The additional challenges provide added value, and through great voice acting and funny dialogue, I cared about the characters by the time I finished the game.
Fight Crab's goofy premise, and at times cumbersome controls are all part of the charm. The game puts over 20 types of delicious crabs in front of you, battling to the death with oversized zany weapons. I couldn't help but chuckle the first time I faced off against a crab dual-wielding shotguns. The added online and local versus multiplayer and online co-op is a treat, especially considering how well the online mode works on Nintendo Switch.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is the definitive experience of playing through two of the greatest games of all time. The modernization and enhancements across both means both games play similar (although purists have the option of reliving the control schemes from either THPS1 or THPS2), and that's not a bad thing considering the advancements the series has made. This bundle is precisely what THPS fans have been waiting for, ensuring once again The Birdman has the stamina for another run.
Darius Cozmic Collection Console features a robust selection of the various Darius ports; however, there are some odd decisions. The amazing port of Darius included in the Sega Genesis Mini, which was based on a build that was initially canceled, is absent. I understand it didn't have a home release back in the day, but it is still one of the best ports of the original. I thought the inclusion of games from three different regions was smart, especially considering how popular the Sega Master System remained in Europe well into the life of the Mega Drive. It certainly must have been quite a task to convert/port the arcade games to home consoles over twenty years ago.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - Anniversary Edition is the best way to experience Daedalic Entertainment’s first game. Playing on Nintendo Switch, I was floored with the new visuals (although you can play with the original graphics at any point). The new control scheme and UI work well, but I would have liked to see touch mechanics when playing the Switch in handheld mode. It’s a quirky adventure, with plenty of laughs, especially seeing Edna’s disturbed and dark mind interacting with everyone else who may or may not belong in the mental institution.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated proves that a great game is a great game regardless of age. The remaster of the campaign is phenomenal, with impressive improvements to the character models, textures, and environments. Some may be turned off by the overly saturated visuals, but it does match with the show's current look. Aside from Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man, all of the original cast reprised their role in the initial release. The optional multiplayer horde mode disappoints, but it can easily be ignored and left untouched.
Beyond Blue's educational approach to studying sea life and learning about the various effects humanity has on life is outstanding. While marine biologists look to tag and consider these precious creatures' habits, learning about their behavior, family development, health, diseases, etc., some seem to disrupt and cause harm. The experience is relatively short; however, I genuinely enjoyed learning and scanning all of the inhabitants.