Eldest aims to replicate the Soulsborne experience in its own stripped down way. Don’t mistake “stripped down” to mean it’s light or superficial, though, as Fallen Flag Studio have crafted something all their own through a gush of blood and gorgeous pixels.
My highest praise goes to the overall aesthetic. Fantastic Night Dreams is at once vibrant and somewhat gothic in its presentation, with the colorful sprites and characters flying freely through starlit nights and haunted caverns. These already looked nice in the original Cotton, helping it stand out even among other cute ‘em ups, but are even more pronounced in the arranged version. Paired with the excellent soundtrack for stages (which has also gotten completely rearranged, with the originals still available) the whole of a playthrough is a trick-or-treat for the eyes and ears.
What it never stops being, though, is interesting. A blend of unapologetic and bittersweet were the lasting flavors, and even if I didn’t savor every moment that brought me to the end it was a refreshingly unique break from reality.
Pac-Man 99, as a fun and free download, manages to live up to its predecessors while standing as one of the better Pac-Man releases of recent memory. It’s addictive and perfect for quick sessions, though it’s easy to see all it has to offer just as fast.
I’d sooner point you to the ACA NeoGeo offerings from the series, that’d be like writing off Link’s Awakening completely just because A Link to the Past exists. That analogy can be applied to the whole collection, in fact, particularly since SNK has made so much of its backlog available. You may be able to pick up a bigger, prettier game but don’t let that deter you from celebrating this unique handheld and its library.
For a certain type of player, Monster Hunter Rise is a Switch essential. If you’re both patient and attentive, and can handle massive opposition in the face of dedication, you will thrive. Though it can feel like taking on an iceberg with a butter knife at times, those behemoths are whittled down eventually and those moments can feel utterly glorious.
3D World might be the more complete package here, but it’s Bowser’s Fury that’s setting a new bar for this type of Mario game and potentially games as a whole when it comes to structure. Nintendo’s sure to pull from this experimental standalone going forward, and seeing the series evolve in real time reiterates just how storied and necessary Super Mario is. Put less broadly, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a game you need to get your paws on.