While I might have gone into Deluxe a virtual blank slate, it left me shocked at what a fun game it is. The stages feature clever (albeit relatively easy) challenges and set pieces that make each one a delight to explore. With the ability to pop in and out friends at will, it’s also simplicity itself to turn Deluxe into a proper multiplayer romp. If minigames are more your style, Merry Magoland takes the already solid selection from Return to Dream Land and spruces it up with new additions and a cohesive party experience. Rounded out with Magalor’s Epilogue and a bunch of other post-game unlockables, Deluxe lives up to its name and then some. This is a must for Kirby diehards and platformer fans in general.
It’s hard to imagine, but twice now Metroid Prime has proven itself to be a timeless work of art. First in 2009 when updated for Wii, and now in 2023 with Remastered on Switch. The storytelling, design work, and tight gameplay are as good as anything else produced in the last five years. This reworking is a glorious love letter to the original and the perfect way for contemporary and returning players to enjoy Metroid Prime. Now it’s just a question of whether or not Metroid Prime 4 can live up to this gem, and if we’ll eventually get Metroid Prime 2 and 3 Remastered. Go download this. Treat yourself. It is Valentine’s Day, after all. This is a game that’s easy to love.
Sonic Frontiers deserves credit for being a true departure from previous series installments. The open-zone structure is a great concept that frees the developers up to experiment with Sonic’s speed and abilities in new ways. Where the game comes up short is in its stale rehashing of classic stages, a control setup that could stand to be simplified, and performance woes that suck players out of the gameplay experience. With plenty of DLC and patches on the way, hopefully Frontiers can become a better version of what came out at launch. In the interim, it’s a buggy affair that entertains and frustrates in equal measures.
As a whole, Gunvolt 3 is a solid entry in the series. The gameplay is challenging but supported by precise controls that, when mastered, will see players flying across the screen clearing out whole waves of enemies. Striving to get top Kudos rankings in each stage can quickly become addicting. Although the bloated storyline can become tedious at times, and the lack of a properly playable Gunvolt at all times are disappointing, this is still a game that Gunvolt and action game fans won’t want to miss out on.
Is Sonic Origins the definitive version of Sonic’s earliest adventures? No. It’s missing a number of common features that modern retro compilations and rereleases have made standard. Knuckles in Sonic 3 lacks all of its original music. No Sonic & Knuckles as a standalone experience. Sure, SEGA might make some changes down the line via DLC, but as this collection exists now, it’s lacking in a number of ways. Despite these flaws, however, this quartet of software represents some of the best Sonic games ever made; indeed, some of the best platformers ever made. Fans new to the series will get the most from Sonic Origins, but even diehards will find plenty to love if they can get past the shortcomings. Here’s hoping SEGA eventually returns to Sonic Origins and makes it the proper celebration of the Blue Blur that it should have been.
Shredder’s Revenge is a triumphant return for the Ninja Turtles. For all the reinventions and expansions of this classic property, there’s nothing quite like the original. Seeing the spirit of both the cartoon and Konami’s classic games so faithfully reproduced here was wondrous to behold. At the same time, Tribute Games has also managed to one up the games that came before it with a sharper combat system that allows for all sorts of creative ways to take down foes. Boss fights lack some of the nuance to defeat that rank and file grunts provide, but the spectacle of these battles makes up for that
It’s not often that a classic like Windjammers is able to make a comeback such as this. Obscure software has a tendency to fade into the abyss over time, but Windjammers 2 has taken the fine work Dotemu did with the original game and expanded upon it both intelligently and exponentially. Windjammers 2 has bold, exceptional visuals and an expanded suite of moves and abilities that turn each match into legitimate thrill rides. Solo players won’t get quite as much from the gameplay here, but when played with others Windjammers 2 truly shines. This is the rare sequel that tops what came before it—definitely consider it the next time you head to the eShop.
Tetris Effect: Connected came out as an eShop exclusive. I downloaded it at midnight the night it launched and played until about six in the morning. It was so mesmerizing and fun that I couldn’t stop playing it until I’d seen and heard every stage it had to offer. That might make it sound like the game is on the short side, but assuming most players take their time with the campaign, I can see it stretching out to six or seven hours to complete. Throw in the various modes and multiplayer, and Tetris Effect: Connected will keep players coming back to it for a very long time. I can’t recommend it enough—it’s a must-have for Switch owners.
Also of great importance is that Dread seems to legitimately be pivoting Samus away from the Metroids and onto something new. What that is I can’t say, but there’s genuine cause to be excited wondering where the series goes next. Although we have yet to even see Prime 4, I have no trepidations saying that if the series sticks to 2D in the future, this is the mold—the perfect mix of classic and modern mechanics and pacing. You owe yourself the opportunity to play this game. Dread is a powerful reminder of the importance and quality of one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.
If you’re like me and playing Diablo II: Resurrected with fresh eyes and no pretext to speak of, I give it a strong recommendation. I expect that fans who fell in love with Diablo II the first time around are also going to get quite the thrill out of this advanced version of a genuine classic.
Although not a perfect remaster, seeing Sonic Colors get ported to contemporary hardware was a welcome surprise. The Sonic series continues to struggle with finding a way to incorporate gameplay hooks that don’t amount to shallow, pointless gimmicks, but in Colors SEGA discovered the perfect mix. With Ultimate, that balance has been restored for a new generation of players to experience. Hopefully, SEGA takes cues from Ultimate as it works on that mysterious upcoming 3D Sonic sequel. For those who played the original Colors, there’s plenty of reason for a double-dip with Ultimate, and for those who have yet to give it a try, this is the best 3D Sonic game there is. Give it a play.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles isn’t just a reminder of why the series as a whole is beloved, but also a reaffirmation that video games can be capable of so much more as an entertainment medium. Straddling the line somewhere between book and interactive movie, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes players through case after case packed with wonderful characters, stories, and clever brain teasers. Although adventure games/visual novels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, if you’ve been looking to try one for the first time or give them another shot, this is the game. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a blast.
With Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, Nintendo fans finally can experience the entire contemporary Ryu Hayabusa saga. The games themselves are each grueling challenges that deliver a unique sense of accomplishment after players learn to master Ryu’s move sets and become discerning combatants. In terms of performance, Master Collection is at its best docked, but Nintendo’s version of the compilation has unmistakably had the most sacrifices made to get it running.
For those like me whose teenage years were spent returning to Tony Hawk 1 and 2 repeatedly, it was a genuine thrill to come back to both. Odd as it sounds, I found myself choked up hearing the familiar music and remembering skating on these stages in their original, far more pixelated forms. For new players, however, the experience will be equally as special, and in 20 years they’ll likely be just as enthralled to slip back onto a skateboard for another go as I was.
Skyward Sword HD might lack the freewheeling nature of Breath of the Wild, and it might also be bereft of a seamless overworld, but it does so many things right with narrative, gameplay, and visuals to make up for its shortcomings. There is a ton to see and do here. I found myself transfixed on countless sights—the enormous waterfall outside the entrance of the Ancient Cistern, the fluctuations between sand and sea in Lanayru Desert, and the final battle’s eerie, surreal battleground remain burned into my mind’s eye. Skyward Sword HD is a brilliantly designed game, full of dungeons packed with clever puzzles, numerous plot elements that serve to enrich the franchise’s lore, and a control scheme that is as refreshing now as it was in 2010. This is a must-have for Switch owners on a very long list of must-have games—don’t let that stop you from rushing out to try Skyward Sword HD today.
Super Rush is no hole-in-one, but it hits for par at the very least and will only keep getting better as it’s expanded upon with DLC in the coming months.
So how does Thomas Was Alone hold up today? Well, it’s excellent, thank you for asking. I recommend it to anyone interested in trying out a bit of indie gaming history, any fan of the science fiction genre, anyone who enjoys platformers, for those who enjoy short, sweet stories, and to everyone looking to see how anyone could make a bunch of rectangles a memorable part of my adolescence.
There’s one other feature that is fun and worth mentioning, which is that it’s also possible to play the black and white versions of these games thanks to the color filter options. If you’ve yet to read our history of NeoGeo Pocket Color feature, SNK originally launched a colorless version of NeoGeo Pocket—only to be aghast to learn that Game Boy Color would debut soon after. Not wanting to be instantly outstripped by Nintendo’s latest handheld, SNK swiftly updated to NGPC soon thereafter, and the rest was history. SNK has been doing wonders keeping its back catalogue of games alive through retro hardware and compilations like NGPC Selection Vol. 1, and we sincerely hope that fans take the time to pick this one up for themselves.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury isn’t perfect, but it gets close. The gameplay is superb, the visuals are improved on Switch, and there is so much to do and see that players will be busy for hours. Switch has been a godsend for software that didn’t get the shot it deserved on Wii U, and 3D World is definitely a game that more people should play. Online multiplayer is a tad lacking, but if you’re out for an expertly crafted, stunning platformer, this is the premier Mario game on the console.
SNK vs. Capcom does so much right that the problems are far outweighed by everything else that is done so right.