If there was ever any doubt that Super Mario Odyssey would be anything less than the gold star of Nintendo’s recent gaming Renaissance, then let me lay those fears to rest, because I consider this to be one of the most joyous, polished, and inventive games in the entire Super Mario series. Even with literally hundreds of Moons, Super Mario Odyssey is so full of unique ideas and challenges, it rarely repeats itself. I found myself addicted to the sense of anticipation and excitement I’d feel every time I entered a warp pipe or hat-door.
This game’s critical success should be a wake-up call for Sega to rethink their approach to Sonic in general. Although I can’t speak from the perspective of someone who didn’t grow up on Sonic, I truly believe this game boasts cross-generational appeal. Anyone who appreciates challenging, well-designed 2D platforming should find a lot to love here.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a Super Smash Bros. game, you surely won’t go wrong with Ultimate. It’s one of the most ambitious fighting games of all time, and certainly among the top mascot crossover games in any genre. Ultimate is one for the ages.
Astral Chain definitely falls within the higher tiers of Platinum Games’ offerings. It boasts a wholly unique and fully-realized gameplay mechanic, above-average world-building and characters straight out of animé, a memorable soundtrack, and more than enough replay value, all glistened with a coat of polish that will have you itching for more, even once you’ve completed its twenty-odd-hour campaign.
Tetris Effect expands the appeal of the puzzle genre and introduces cool new mechanics, all without sacrificing or compromising the core gameplay of one of the best and most iconic games of all time. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve ever been bitten by the Tetris bug in the past, or have enjoyed Mizuguchi’s past experiments in synesthesia, you can’t go wrong with Tetris Effect.
Because it is rather obtuse at times, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, but if you’re anything like me and you love carefully-constructed, paradoxical art that is enlightening and entertaining, haunting and hopeful, melancholy and magical, perceptive and pointed, you might really fall in love with the existential irreverence of Kentucky Route Zero.
With a few caveats, Nidhogg 2 is the kind of sequel I had hoped developer Mark Essen and Messhoff Games would make. It’s an evolution of what made the original great that keeps most of its best elements, and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It takes the series into more of a 16-bit style. It also mixes up the formula a little bit, with a host of lush new environments, new weapons, and silly-looking, customizable characters.
Despite its occasional quirks and missed opportunities, Racer delivers on a consistent, mostly-bug-free performance that made me pine for both LucasArts’ heyday, and the golden age of high-speed futuristic racers, which have all but disappeared as a sub-genre.