- Final Fantasy VII
- Resident Evil
- Metal Gear Solid
It’s hard not to go into a title published by Ratalaika Games without a bit of scepticism. Don’t get me wrong, they’re rarely outright bad games. And hey, achievement or trophy hunters certainly get a buzz from the easy selection each title offers. Their games just rarely do much to engross the player and instead feature gameplay mechanics that have typically been done much better elsewhere.
Another day, another new release from the console porting experts over at Ratalaika Games (though eastasiasoft are publishing). This time around it’s for Mina & Michi, the top-down 2D puzzler that launched on PC late last year. The game does add a twist to its puzzling antics – players have to control both characters at the same time as they lead them on their little adventure. It’s kinda like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in a way… just nowhere near as good.
Ratchet and Clank are PlayStation icons, with their futuristic escapades giving 3D-adventuring masterclasses ever since the PlayStation 2 days. I remember playing and loving the original game, whilst every entry since has been top class too. They have been welcome faces on the platform since 2002, with their adventures certainly standing the test of time.
“You cannot change the past, but you can always change your perspective”. It’s a quote that feels fitting for Maquette, both with its gameplay and its narrative. The puzzler from developer Graceful Decay doesn’t just give players a myriad of challenging enigmas to solve that requires them to use different perspectives to alter the objects around them, but it also tells a love story that’s somewhat bittersweet. That’s not a spoiler, by the way, but something that’s addressed in the intro.
I’ve played plenty of point-and-click adventures of varying qualities over the years. Some will stick with me forever (I’m looking at you, Monkey Island) but others aren’t so memorable. Sumatra: Fate of Yandi falls into the latter category. Whilst it isn’t bad, it did nothing exciting to help it stand out in what is already a crowded genre.
The first Layers of Fear was a really, REALLY, horrifying game… in the best way possible, of course. With its ever-changing environments and haunting narrative, it really gave me the chills when I first played it. Naturally then, I was expecting to be spooked out by its sequel Layers of Fear 2. I mean, more of the same eerie thrills but on a boat? Count me in.
2018’s revival of the Leisure Suit Larry series was a little bit surprising. Whilst the original titles certainly weren’t bad (I’ll admit that I’m actually a fan), it was hardly a point-and-click series that was remembered as fondly as the likes of Monkey Island, King’s Quest, and so on. Plus, it features a perverted and misogynistic protagonist – it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t sit so well with modern audiences.
I’ve got very fond memories of the Micro Machines series, so Tinker Racers REALLY caught my eye. Table-top racing in tracks made up of household goods? Check. Survival-based mechanics where you’ve got to stay ahead of the pack to score? Check. Addictive gameplay that’ll keep you hooked in? Double-check. Tinker Racers really ticks all of the boxes that fans of the series would expect, even IF the production values and lack of content do fall a bit short.
Inter-dimensional puzzling isn’t new to video games, but there’s something about World Splitter’s take on it that just feels so satisfying. Having a screen split into two different worlds with the player able to constantly change up the split-ratio to traverse each challenge they offer? It just works.
Balan Wonderworld will be divisive, but I actually had a pretty fun time exploring its whimsical levels and using the creative costumes to overcome its platforming challenges. The level design itself is on point too, whilst the wonderful soundtrack and addictive nature of grabbing all of the collectibles kept me coming back for more. Of course, there’s no doubting that it’s VERY simple in design, whilst a lot of elements of the gameplay and its visuals are pretty dated too. There was nothing on show across the game that you wouldn’t have seen done before by plenty of other 3D platformers over the years, with Balan Wonderworld falling very short of the evolution of the genre some gamers might be hoping for in 2021. Still, there’s no doubting that there’s still a good time to be had in the game, especially for younger gamers or those who appreciate the genre. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but Balan Wonderworld still offers a wacky yet wonderful escapade that might pleasantly surprise those who give it a try.
We Were Here Too offers another enjoyable co-op puzzle-filled escapade, but it did have a few more technical issues when compared to the first game. Those communication bugs were particularly frustrating for example, whilst the disappearing items just seemed a little weird. Fortunately, they were issues that could be fixed by simply re-loading the game, so they don’t make We Were Here Too feel unplayable. It’s definitely a lot grander in scope and featured more variety and puzzles than its predecessor too, so it’s clear that the developer have taken the series in a positive direction. Still, it’s hard to ignore some of the issues we faced, even if We Were Here Too did trump the first game in lots of elements of its design. If you’re a fan of the original then you’ll definitely want to play it, but maybe it’d be a good idea to have a party chat set up outside of the game before starting…
It’s a little rough around the edges, but We Were Here still offers a genuinely enjoyable co-op puzzling experience that’s very clever in design. Don’t get me wrong, most of the puzzles are simple enough to solve with a bit of team-work and it is guilty of being a little bit short, but We Were Here did more than enough to keep a big smile on mine and my co-op partner’s faces as we unravelled all of its conundrums. It certainly has us excited to see what else the series would bring in its subsequent releases…
I’m a fan of silly little games that utilise chaotic physics systems and ridiculous gameplay mechanics. They offer an experience that’s a little bit different to the norm. I’ve spent a ton of hours with Goat Simulator and it still gets plenty of laughs out of me. I also have fond memories with the likes of Surgeon Simulator and Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Sure, they may not be the most polished of gameplay experiences, but that was part of the charm.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a must-own package for Switch owners, with each of the games included offering fantastic platforming experiences that players simply won’t want to miss out on. I absolutely adored playing through Super Mario 3D World, whilst Bowser’s Fury brings something unique to the fray that sees Mario face a whole new type of challenge… a Kaiju-like (and very, very angry) Bowser. There’s a ton of variety to be found across both games too, whilst the brilliant multiplayer of Super Mario 3D World will always keep players coming back for more even after they’ve found every collectible. It’s THAT good. There are some imperfections here and there, especially with the performance of Bowser’s Fury when playing handheld, but they don’t stop Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury from being another stand-out release in the Nintendo Switch library.
Kill it with Fire is as absurd as it is fun, with the over-the-top methods of taking out the spiders making for a really enjoyable time. Sure, it can get a little repetitive in places, but it’s hard to complain too much when the game allows you to use the likes of flame throwers, RPGs, or even a lawn strimmer to annihilate the eight-legged creepy-crawlies (and maybe even destroy the room they inhabit in the process).
Whilst it has its fair share of frustrating moments, it didn’t take me long to find myself addicted to Summer Catchers’ charming endless-runner style gameplay. There was enough variety to be found across its quests and mini-games to ensure that the overall gameplay never grew stale, whilst the delightful world and its characters were always a treat to encounter. Sure, it has its share of flaws and the random nature of the gameplay (and dependence on luck) could cause some irritating moments here and there, but the addictive nature of Summer Catchers kept me coming back for more each time. It won’t be for everyone, but those looking for a quick and satisfying title to enjoy on their Nintendo Switch in short bursts really ought to give it a try.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising – A New God offers an enjoyable way to continue Fenyx’s adventure thanks to its clever puzzle design and charming new world. It’ll really test both your puzzling and platforming skills too, with the challenges here easily surpassing those found in the main game as far as difficulty is concerned. Thankfully, none are ever frustrating in design, with the innovative ideas each one brings offering a satisfying sense of triumph upon completion. It’s worth noting that puzzle-solving and platforming is very much at the forefront here though, so those hoping for some challenging combat or deep exploration might be disappointed. There were a few niggles here and there with the physics during some puzzles too, whilst the fact that unlockables don’t carry over to the main game felt like a bit of a missed opportunity. Still, there’s a heck of a lot of content to enjoy in Immortals: Fenyx Rising – A New God and its puzzling-focused romp will certainly be an entertaining one for player to dive into. It might not always hit the satisfying highs of the main game, but it’s still a worthy addition to the world of Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
Wildfire’s clever use of elemental powers and intuitive level design come together nicely to make for a satisfying stealth-escapade that emphasises player creativity. I loved tinkering around with my abilities and seeing how they could be best utilised to evade my foes, whilst the fact that you genuinely have to think your actions through carefully and strategize adds a satisfying sense of tension to each scenario you face. It’s just a whole lot of fun. It is guilty of seeing the frame rate stutter in busier sections which could be annoying, whilst fans of the genre might argue that the stealth mechanics could be a little bit simple in places too. If you can look past those flaws though, you’ll quickly find that Wildfire offers a genuinely enthralling adventure that certainly adds a unique (and often destructive) sense of flair to sneaking around.
Destruction AllStars’ chaotic vehicular-based combat makes for an exhilarating (and surprisingly strategic) experience that I’ve had a blast playing – I just hope that it gets enough post-launch content and support to keep players coming back for more. As it stands though, it’s certainly a heck of a lot of fun to play. Sure, there’s some inconsistencies in its scoring here and there and the arenas themselves lack imaginative flair, but between its colourful cast, it’s satisfyingly destructive driving, and its slick visuals, there really is a whole lot to like about Destruction AllStars frantic showdowns.
NUTS offers a unique and memorable experience that kept me completely hooked in from the get-go – who would have thought that tracking squirrels would be so fun? Whilst I have no doubt that its peculiar gameplay premise and slow pace probably won’t be for everyone, those who like to play something a little DIFFERENT really ought to give it a try. With its intriguing story, impressive visuals, and cute squirrel-tracking antics, it’s clear that NUTS is a special little game.