Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fantastic get for Switch owners. It’s one of my favorites from Arc System Works’ library thanks to its roster and sprite work, and has Atlus’ dedication to these characters and their stories’ just as much a part of the full experience. This isn’t the best way to meet Yu Narukami, but I’d encourage anyone that already reached out to the truth not to miss out on P4AU during this comeback.
With this, remakes like Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, gateways ala the Let’s Go! titles, and the core experience of Sword and Shield; the Switch has become the finest home Pokémon ever had. And dare I say, Legends is the new crown jewel of that collective. It has room to grow and doesn’t always impress in terms of performance, but in tightening the focus on research and catching Pokémon rather than battle after battle it’s honed in on the appeal spirit that Professor Oak taught us two and a half decades ago.
Though pieces of its are familiar and taken from long standing genres, in uniting them with the series’ panache and pixels we get something unique to pick up and play again and again. Though I might be content to set it aside for now, that fine tuned gameplay and infectious soundtrack have made sure I won’t be gone for long.
Even with those shortcomings for the new addition, I’d still recommend Danganronpa Decadence just on the strength of the series itself. If you’ve ever been curious and passed on their PS Vita debuts outside of Japan, I’d encourage grabbing at least one of the main entries to see what makes them so beloved by their fans. Hopefully whenever the next school year begins, the Switch will remain another home for all this delightful despair.
Really, that’s the question at the core of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s identity. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a necessary game, as it doesn’t change things up in a meaningful way. With Legends on the horizon, it might be tempting to skip it all together. What it is is a very familiar and self contained game. With all the interconnectedness of Pokémon GO, Sword and Shield, and Pokémon Home; it’s nice to have something that feels removed and “complete” on its own. That might take a little cognitive adjustment on what “complete” means when it comes to Pokémon, but for me personally I never felt like BDSP was missing anything essential.
While it does a solid job recapturing the magic, that does come with some of the same shortcomings that have lingered within the series for decades. Within this context, though, I’m more willing to accept them. After all, this retro reunion stated pretty clearly what its goal was, and it absolutely hits that mark. No rolling the dice on this one, Mario Party Superstars is a sure thing.
It takes a stroke of genius to make a game as codified in the collective unconsciousness as Tetris unique again, and yet here we are. It doesn’t reinvent the squares nor does it rest comfortably within the expected. Instead, it becomes something that’s more suited to modern expectations and sensory enjoyment. I urge you to approach Tetris Effect: Connected not with an open mind but instead an empty one, letting it take the lead and trusting we’re all in its good hands together.
For my money, WarioWare: Get It Together! works as a continuation of the series but doesn’t push it forward in a truly meaningful way. Some of the faults of the previous release are still present, leading me to think they might be here to stay with the current direction. Still, after years of experimentation and a fresher style since Gold, it’s nice to see the team’s still got it where it counts – the microgames, and the weird wonderfulness that Wario and his team can bring.
If you’re new to this rainbow-blood-soaked world you’ll be missing some context on certain characters (even Travis Strikes Again is essential for full comprehension), but this also manages to be one of the best examples of a creator putting themself into their work despite some frustrations along the way. When that creator is Suda51, you can’t afford to miss it.
Spelunky 2 may not make the kinds of waves that its predecessor did, likely as a consequence of the growth of indies and roguelikes in general. Don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s any less addictive and enjoyable. If you ever think you’ll just play for a bit you’re sure to lose yourself in these lunar caverns, driven by the seemingly infinite possibilities and risk of death. Even if you may never see everything it has to offer, you’ll never feel like you’re missing out with this nearly perfect sequel.
NEO: The World Ends with You manages to hit its streets running by maintaining everything interesting, unique, and enjoyable about the first game. The changes in hardware and playable characters have tweaked things slightly, but it feels like positive growth that improves the series or at least puts a fresh, wicked twist on it. Following up on a cult favorite game over a decade later is no easy feat, but Square Enix have done it as well as I could imagine.
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.