Laser-focused and brimming with charm, Donut County is one of the year's best experiences. While brief, its laugh-out-loud sense of humor and laid-back, tactile gameplay combine precisely to create a game like no other. You'll come for its physics based puzzle-solving, but you'll stay for its quirky cast of characters and world. This is not a game to be missed.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is outrageous. The game is uncompromisingly zany: full of smart design, fluid combat, and laugh out loud personality front to back. While some may be turned off by its low budget feel and disjointed design, those who can look past these rough edges will find a hack-and-slash so quirky that it'll be tough not to fall in love. This title stands as a shining beacon of bold creativity and anyone who values risk-taking in games owes it to themself to give Travis Strikes Again a shot.
Super Mario Maker 2 is a game that transcends its flaws. While the game can improve in several key areas, these shortcomings are triumphantly eclipsed by the strengths of the game. From its robust and accessible suite of level creation tools to its myriad ways to play, the sheer potential for fun, subversive Mario experiences outshines any problem the game may have. Super Mario Maker 2 is more than a game, it's a community—one I plan on spending a lot of time in.
WarioWare Gold is an off-the-wall title bursting with content and creativity. The 300+ microgames and myriad side modes will keep you coming back to this game time and time again, even with its lacking multiplayer and padded unlockables. WarioWare Gold is easily the best game Nintendo has released in 2018 so far, and a great addition to any 3DS owner's library.
Yoshi's Crafted World is a refreshing, modern 2D platformer from Nintendo that, for once, truly feels new. From its gorgeous aesthetic to its myriad creative level motifs and gameplay ideas, Crafted World embodies the spirit of fun. While the game's soundtrack is decidedly lackluster and its co-op feels underbaked, this is undeniably the most ambitious and fun 2D platformer from Nintendo in a long, long time.
The Banner Saga 2 is a stunningly animated game that sets a new standard for both presentation and narrative outside of the AAA sphere. The game does stumble with a poorly designed combat UI, and a claustrophobic battle system that doesn't offer much breathing room for different strategies. While monotonous, combat is serviceable, and doesn't greatly detract from what is otherwise a defining narrative tale.
Overall, Octo Expansion is an absolute steal. At $20, you're getting a very creative and engaging campaign that expands the world of Splatoon 2 with diverse gameplay, although a small portion of these levels feels like monotonous filler. Luckily, the ability to skip them mitigates this issue, but does little to assuage the fact that the majority of the bosses are rehashes. If you were hesitant to jump in due to the price tag, don't be: Squidkids will find plenty of enjoyment on the Deepsea Metro.
Pokémon Let's Go is a curious game which bucks the established trends of mainline Pokémon titles. The series' signature, turn-based combat takes a backseat to the experience of simply existing in the world of Pokémon, capturing Kanto's ‘mons with brand-new, well-executed capturing mechanics. This game lacks many of the “hardcore” features that scores of fans, myself included, have come to expect from a new title. However, in the wake of these features is a Pokémon experience that engaged me in a manner unlike any title in the series' past.
Developed with genuine Sega Genesis tools, Tanglewood is the epitome of retro throwbacks. Outside of that novelty, Tanglewood succeeds through its intuitive puzzle design, constant drip of new mechanics, and varied locations. While the general lack of music and slow introduction do detract from the game, the sum of its parts is a genuinely great 2D platformer worthy of your time.