The arrival of Pokémon Sword and Shield was a turbulent journey, and it’s clear more than ever that Game Freak is itching to change the formula as it transitions to new hardware. Although a lot of its efforts went land well, the good points feel too shallow while there are glaring issues with the game that make it hard to stand on its own two feet as a complete entry in the Pokémon series. Ongoing updates may be able to sustain the player base past the initial release, but Pokémon Sword and Shield wasn’t ready to leave its mark for the franchise’s first home console outing.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers on what it promises to the player: a complete package of all things Smash past and present. A lengthy and engaging single player campaign, reasonable gacha mechanics, and a refined multiplayer experience all come together to create the ultimate experience. Although it's not certain if the series will continue or if Sakurai will be back at its helm, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers more than enough to satisfy any gamer's appetite.
Putting all the bugs aside, Fallout 76 feels uninspired and soulless. It takes a step backward in the areas that Bethesda was an expert at, and at the same time, tries its hand at too many others. Clashing ideas and features create an identity crisis for the game: Is it an RPG or an FPS? A social or narrative-driven game? The online component only adds to the complexity, leaving the game as a barebones, jumbled mess. Although future mod support from the community may salvage the game from its initial disastrous state, Fallout 76 has already done enough damage to tarnish the reputation of a 20-year-old franchise.
The rebooted series' story and overall advancement of the games draw an interesting parallel to one another as the curtain falls on the trilogy. Lara grows from a frightened survivor to a ruthless hunter, while the games go from trying to find its footings to being at the forefront of the genre. Although Shadow of the Tomb Raider is not without its jagged edges and rough spots, it still aims to push the boundaries of what it can do without falling flat on its face. On its own, it's an amazingly fun game that feels a bit bloated with features at times. As part of a series, it polishes what the previous entries have done well and sets it up for any ambitious journeys ahead. Although the future of the series remains uncertain at present, I would gladly welcome another outing with Lara Croft.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker accomplishes what it set out to do by providing a delightful and straightforward puzzle experience. The worlds are breathtaking to look at, and the puzzles are perfect for bite-sized sessions wherever you may be. Although there are a couple of issues that could be ironed out, this remaster is a great pick up for any Switch owner.
Despite a five year wait, Runner3 feels more like an add-on than a fully fledged sequel. Yes; it's fun, looks fantastic, and the new features and abundance of collectibles are welcomed. But the lack of content and lower quality retro levels leave me wishing for more. Although the core of the series remains joyful and functional, Runner3 struggles in launching Commander Video to the next level.
Shadow of the Colossus remains faithful to the 2005 release, down to its problems. It masterfully utilizes the new hardware to amplify its immersion, yet remembers to maintain the importance of the original ideas and message. Even with its flaws, it's a game that everyone should experience.