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.
I can’t recommend Metroid Dread enough, whether to longtime fans or newbies to the franchise. Not only does it deliver on the promise of a fifth 2D Metroid game nearly two decades in the making, it does so while updating the time-tested formula to reduce tedium and bring new players into the fold. Nintendo knocked it out of the park, and while I wish the game were a little longer and the presentation a tad more polished, I can’t find any other faults in this very welcome new addition to the canon.
The Delicious Last Course feels like a completion of the ideas introduced in Cuphead rather than an evolution of the run-and-gun platforming gameplay, which will definitely delight and satisfy hardcore fans of the original classic title.
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.
While it’s not without its faults, I enjoyed nearly every moment of my 50+ hours spent on the frantic battlefields of Hyrule playing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. With a strong story, copious amounts of fan-service, and a wealth of unique and balanced musou gameplay, it succeeds wildly both as a worthy sequel to Hyrule Warriors, and a semi-prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While your mileage will vary depending on how much you enjoy musou games and how willing you are to tolerate performance issues (and, to a certain extent, repetition), I give this one a very strong recommendation.
Given the scale of the experience, the intensely satisfying gameplay that rewards experimentation, entertaining cut-scenes, excellent music, overall fun factor, and replayability, I’m impressed that Platinum Games has managed to cram so much into Bayonetta 3. Despite a general lack of polish, Bayonetta 3 delivers a breadth of content, provides a worthy conclusion to the epic saga, and leaves me hopeful for the future of the company.
I’m very happy that I gave Little Witch Nobeta a chance. This is a third-person action title with a nimble mage that focuses on precision movements and timing, as well as using your wits to not get trapped by hard-hitting foes. It accomplishes its goal with aplomb.
Unfortunately, despite all it has going for it, Team Sonic Racing doesn't achieve its full potential. The track selection is far and away inferior to previous offerings. There are some standouts, but it feels like for each great track, there are two half-baked ones filled with recycled ideas that go on for far too long.
I’m happy to report that New Pokémon Snap improves upon the original game in nearly every respect. It’s filled with well-animated interactions between Pokemon, a wide variety of evolving environments, and over 200 Pokémon to add to your Photodex. Despite all of its quality-of-life improvements, its relaxing vibe, and decent presentation, however, it’s more of an evolution of the concept than a revolution, and soundly geared to younger audiences. I imagine that because of its simple gameplay, it’s not going to satisfy everyone.
For better or worse, Mario Party Superstars delivers on its promise of bringing the best elements of the classic era of Mario Party to vivid life on the Switch, though even with a variety of gameplay styles and customization options, the formula is showing its age, and the loose combination of RNG and skill-based gameplay won’t be for everyone.