SkateBIRD is a creative addition to a genre lacking in variety, and its fun concept has clearly been realised with a lot of love. However, despite its potential, the best parts of the concept are underused, with neither the miniature skaters nor the addition of wings bringing much to excite. While the core gameplay is functional, the play feel is not fluid and the level design and laborious structure are always working against the fun. To top it off, the rudimentary graphics are needlessly hazy. More of a turkey than a pretty boy, then, unfortunately.
The customer is always right, so the saying goes, and as customers of this game, players can have some legitimate complaints about the service. The platforming is not fun: sadistic design choices are realised with lacklustre materials. But BloodRayne doesn't care. The combat, when you're allowed to play it, is unique and raucous and deliciously convoluted, with a skill ceiling as high as a gothic cathedral. BloodRayne isn't here to take your order; it's here to suck your blood.
The concept of Super Animal Royale is very now – it draws on all the familiarities of modern mainstream gaming. In a way, then, you could say it's cutting-edge. In another way, though, it's all just very familiar, to the point that it's strangely unremarkable. No individual aspect of it stands out, but it does form an endearing whole. It feels cool to play (when there's no grievous lag), the map is compelling and the battle royale formula is as much of a buzz as ever. The monetisation model is not in-your-face and the player base is certainly there. It's free, it's under a gigabyte, it's fast, and it's a good laugh. Why not download it?
Oskar Stålberg has made a charming and compelling toy for imaginative play. Anyone willing to project themselves into its worlds and tell stories to themselves as they build will have a great time (although young kids might need assistance with the controls). Raw Fury claim to care about “experiences and emotions” not “genres or mechanics”. If that’s where your priorities lie, too, then give Townscaper a shot.
Young players still green to the simple story ideas and to platforming fundamentals will find absolute magic in Hoa. The orchestral score and hand-painted backdrops have the power to whisk imaginations away like nothing else. The tried-and-true design of a modern platform game, while unsurprising to seasoned players, will delight budding gamers getting to know the genre. Apart from its closing stage, Hoa is a paint-by-numbers platformer – and the painting is exceptional, even if everything stays carefully inside the lines.
Islanders is an elucidation of how games build meaning from abstract systems. However, more than that elucidation, Islanders gave us the time to ponder. It’s a repetitive, extended, calming experience that uses just enough power of just narrow enough a collection of faculties to induce a half-aware presence in reality. Which is when you think up all the dumbest questions: could it be that contemplating the meaning of life is the meaning of life? Woah.
It's hard to express how well a niche game fares with a numerical score. If train business minutiae are your niche, your heart will be all a-flutter; if not, you'll be all a-bored. Setting the content on one side, there are significant balance, interface and performance issues – but they don't derail the game entirely. While there are other options for management sims on Switch that are much more light-hearted and accessible, A-Train is something different that educated us and broadened our horizons in the genre. Fans, then, will be stoked to play the series on a new platform; for others with plenty of patience A-Train could be a sleeper hit. (We're really, really sorry about all the puns. Honest.)
As a birthday gift from Blizzard to itself, Blizzard Arcade Collection has been put together with some care. Sometimes good things come in smaller packages, though, and a lot of the content here is superfluous. Two of the Definitive Edition games are worse than the SNES titles also included, while Rock 'n Roll Racing's is so successful that including the SNES and Mega Drive versions has only really added clutter. The result is a need to start every version of every game a few times to work out which one is actually worth playing, which somewhat spoils the party. But, for all those imperfections, there's a lot to love: it may not be exactly what we've always wanted, but it's the thought that counts.
The single-player Arcade mode is good, and the Missions have a lot of difficulty headroom, but it will sting a little to pay full price if you don’t have an opportunity for multiplayer. Mighty Fight Federation nevertheless remains a very interesting proposition for fighter fanatics craving a new set of mechanics to explore. Assuming the Switch online community grows, or if you have players ready for local fisticuffs, it will scratch an itch other fighters can’t reach.