It's actually pretty disappointing that Thea 2: The Shattering shoots itself in the foot on Switch. The world is unique and mysterious to me. There's a ton of things to tinker with in the overworld sections, and the combat is engaging enough to mix things up. But this game proved to me what I didn't want to hear - to me the inherent sluggishness of Thea 2 was enough to sink it.
The Great American Circus' strengths lie first and foremost in its family friendly premise and presentation. That smart lure roped me in to a well fleshed out card match game with a leveling system that doesn't quite grab me. If that and an uphill climb for making a comeback in a performance doesn't deter you, then there's a lot of fun to be had in this upcoming attraction.
There needs to be a clear logic to the puzzles throughout that acts as a foundation for each sequential one to build off of. What elevates it even further is world building and music design that sews it up into a tight, cohesive experience. A Monster's Expedition's quick hits of small puzzles passes all of those criteria with flying colors, and you owe it to yourself to give it a look.
In essence, Arietta of Spirits plays out like a pleasant introduction and first chapter of a larger story yet untold. It has a protagonist who is easy to root for and the framework for development into a larger scope story, broader cast of characters, and a larger variety of combat tools that this game currently lacks. Arietta of Spirits keeps those issues from becoming more glaring thanks to a brisk game length, but I hope her next adventure is a tad more, well, adventurous.
Despite its hair-pulling moments, Induction really is a stellar example of taking a simple concept, building upon it incrementally through each level, and pumping your fist in the air or jumping for joy with each tall hurdle you're able to leap over. Coupled with that minimalist style, you'll find that the juice is worth the squeeze. If you are a fan of puzzle games and have patience, Induction has plenty to offer.
Boomerang X is a textbook example of short and sweet. It's a bite-sized experience that rewards persistence with a vague, mysterious narrative, dynamic combat, challenging enemies, and so much satisfaction when you squeeze out a victory in the last wave. I had to test my mettle and tolerate a bit of slowdown, but Boomerang X is one of the best indies I've played this year.
The world is vibrant and colorful, and the characters have distinct personalities and relationships that feel genuine. Dipping up and down to close those weave gaps is one of the most meditative experiences I've had this year, and it's only one small piece of the gameplay pie that's chock full of delicious combat filling. Weaving Tides is a treat, one to share with friends and make room for seconds.
The core battle system is too thin, and the activities and charming character interactions aren't enough to paper over that problem. This is the most robust mii maker, but it's all at a price that's downright terrible. I wanted to like Miitopia more than I did, but it's more like a Mii-nopia.
None of that could dull my enthusiasm though. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a beautiful application of a roguelike system with a 2D dungeon crawler format married perfectly to a town-building system and overworld that invites exploration and grinding gems to uncover more things to do outside of combat. This is a no-brainer for classic Zelda fans or anyone looking for co-op fun, and it's absolutely been the best gaming experience so far for me in 2021.
A decent sense of speed with maniacal track design and near flawless drivers. Visually inconsistent style that just highlights the problem areas. Music that is in the right genre but is somewhere between lacking and outright horrifying. I had high hopes for Future Aero Racing S Ultra, but instead i'll be playing more Fast RMX.