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.
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.
Though the game has nice visuals and is the continuation of a creative series, Two Realms failed to maintain the magic Drawn to Life had on DS. Unfortunately, my disinterest in the story kept me unmotivated to wait through cut scenes to get to the next levels. Levels could be fun, but they could also be terribly too easy or frustratingly hard. The best moments in the game are dispersed too far apart and they don’t feel worth the hassle to get to.
Fans of strategy and deck building games are likely to enjoy DungeonTop. Its appealing visuals and huge customization potential gives it a lot of replay value. However, replay may happen sooner than you think due to the game’s base difficulty or bugs that force you to restart.
Short but sweet, Alwa’s Legacy is a must for both retro fans and fans of quality, exciting Metroidvanias. The visuals tout some of the best pixel art on Switch and are joined with a killer soundtrack and sound design. With clever dungeons to explore and an intricate overworld to travel, Alwa’s Legacy will have players ensnared from the beginning to end. Having played Alwa’s Awakening adds some extra nuance to the adventure, but starting fresh with Alwa’s Legacy won’t leave players in a lurch, as it does plenty to solidify this as its own distinct game. Don’t sleep on this one; Elden Pixels has created a 2D platformer for the ages.