Yvonne van Geloven
Pixel Cafe is a challenging time-management strategy game. The farther I got in, the more difficult the levels were, having to do them repeatedly. I felt the controls on the Switch weren’t always logical, and I just couldn’t manage the right sequence in time to keep the customers happy. The storyline is nice, the soundtrack is good, and if you don’t mind the challenge, then this is a very good management game. Not for every moment of the day, though, as you need to feel fresh and energetic to beat the levels!
Doodle Harmony is a nice idea, executed well simply and cleanly. Match 100 doodles with their outlines and try to better your own time of completion. Or take it easy and just enjoy the little display of coloured confetti and happy sounds when you match them. It’s a nice, wholesome game for a very pleasant price.
Train Traffic Manager offers a lot of content and hours of gaming fun, alone or with friends. You have to keep your head in the game. It’s not a puzzle game that you can play while multitasking. But if you want to exercise your brain and planning capability, Train Traffic Manager is a good one to pick.
If you are looking to manage a store, if you want a storyline or deep gameplay, you shouldn’t go for Fashion Dreamer. Instead, this is a lighthearted game, bringing fun and distraction. It’s easy to pick up for short gameplay sessions, and it’s extra fun when you can share it with people you “know” across the globe. I use the term “know” loosely, though; let’s say people you’ve met on social media or in other games. Even though I recognize that Fashion Dreamer could use more beef to the bone, I’m still having a great time playing it. Let’s hope the promised updates for December 2023 and January 2024 bring us more elements. When that happens, my verdict might just go up a notch.
It will come as no surprise that I love Logic Town. It runs smoothly, the puzzles are great, and the variety keeps it fresh. Being busy with restoring the town, venue after venue, adds a nice touch and a goal to strive for. If you like your logic puzzles, I believe you can’t get any better than this!
Spirit of the Island looks lovely and detailed and has a lot of content. There is so much to craft; there is so much there to make your homestead exactly the way you want it. Explore new islands, slay monsters and find new ingredients for your crafting. Get those tourists in to visit your attractions, like the museum, and buy your items. I did get the feeling that the developers wanted to put so much content and different gameplay elements in there and sacrificed things in the process. The user interface and all the restrictions in storage can hinder the flow of gameplay. The lack of speed in walking and the need for sleep are a bit annoying. Not storing the tutorials all in one place is a missed chance. Overall, though, I do feel the developers have put a lot of ideas and work into Spirit of the Island. There is certainly a management part in the game that kept me playing and will keep me returning for more.
Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade is a great game for young and old. Those of you who are very deft in your reaction skills might think me silly, but for me, it presented a very nice challenge. The K-pop song list added hugely to the fun, and the colourful and cute world was much to my liking. If you don’t like Hello Kitty and the sugar sweetness, this might not be the game for you, but for me? Playing Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade left me happy and sometimes frustrated, but all the while tapping my feet to the rhythm!
Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries is a good point-and-click adventure with very interesting scenes to puzzle through. The solutions to move things along and reach the next chapter aren’t always logical. But judging by the slide shows in between the chapters, logic wasn’t what the developers were going for. These scenes felt jarring for me, as the things I saw and the texts didn’t fit the world I had just perused intensively. This makes it a game I wouldn’t let younger children play alone. Just in case you are curious: Varenje is a whole-fruit preserve popular across Eastern Europe. Hence the reference to the raspberries. According to the info about the game, Grandmother’s raspberry jam is a remedy for all ills, and it’s certainly the solution to right everything in the end. If only it was…
Are you looking for something sweet, short and innovative? Then, this little hidden object adventure is for you, offering great gameplay. Shy Cats Hidden Orchestra stands out in its genre because of the novel way music is used. Finding all the cats, but also finding which Tired of peering at the screen? No problem, just move on to the next landscape, and no need to get frustrated by having to find them all. You might find, however, that you can’t resist taking one more good look. Do you feel the game should be longer? Well, next year, the Shy Dog Hidden Orchestra will start performing, too!
At first, being stuck in the first hours of The Winds of Anthos because I had trouble finding silver, I was a bit disappointed. However, the game took off after solving that, giving me so much to do that I didn’t have enough hours in the gaming day. The quality of life shortcuts, the searching mechanism and setting markers really add to the fun of gaming. All the elements of a farming simulation are there, but the game doesn’t go about it in the traditional way. Basic things like finding seeds to sow and Doc Jr.’s inventions make this a farming game that is different from the others. Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos has made a big leap since their last game, One World. And if you play past a slightly unbalanced start of the game, you will find many, many hours of enjoyable farming and exploring in an innovative way
Although the base game is 14 years old, Rune Factory 3 Special still holds up well to what we expect from current-day gaming. And maybe even more, as farming really is harder than farming in newer farming sims. A summer storm can just as easily obliterate all your crops and leave you broke. Some quality-of-life additions are missing, but the visuals look great, and the interaction with the villagers is great. You’ll have many hours of lovely gameplay ahead, especially after unlocking the Newlywed Modes. If you are a fan of Farming/Crafting RPGs, this is a must to complete your collection on the Switch. The storyline is great, and the magic adds depth to the battles and gameplay. After all, who doesn’t want a big pumpkin fighting alongside you or have an Elefun to water the crops?
If reading what I’ve described above gives you a headache just by reading it, then I’d say this game is not for you. But if you like brain teasers like this or are studying to learn logic gates, this is a game for you. I really liked being challenged this way, fiddling as long as needed until it all fit. A no-frills game, Pure Logic offers you more than 200 unique puzzles. In my opinion, it would be even better at home on a mobile device!
Fluffy Milo is a no-frills sokoban-type puzzle game that has been on Steam for over a year and has now made the jump to consoles. I must say I’m no ace at puzzle games, but the levels don’t seem super challenging to me. This means, however, that it’s casual gaming, and nice to pick up and play during a coffee break.
Nowadays, we are used to the grand adventures of Ryza and company, and you can’t escape the fact that Atelier Marie is a more basic game. It focuses less on battles and exploration, and there might come a point in those five years of gameplay when you really miss new things to explore or items to make. What makes this game worth playing? Managing time and money, setting your Fairies to work as efficiently as possible and working with friends. It’s the events that add colour to the storyline and will keep you engaged to meet as many of the criteria as you can. Gust did a great job bringing us the Atelier Marie Remake. It gives new life to a 26-year-old title, bringing a new kind of gameplay to the table for gamers used to the later Atelier games.
Everdream Valley is not flawless. There are some bugs, as is usual in this large game, where every little detail counts. But developer Mooneater is showing their commitment to the project by picking up the reported bugs and remedying them. That’s not to say that the bugs (aside from the ones that belong in the game) are plentiful; the only major one I encountered is that on Switch, you can’t move structures (yet). What I love far outweighs these things; I’m enjoying my time on my farm immensely. Plenty of different crops, fruit, animals and things to explore. The addition of the night visions, when you inhabit an animal’s mind, may seem like a strange thing to add, but it works. It gives Everdream Valley just a little extra!
Marvelous did a great job on the remake, STORY of SEASONS: A Wonderful Life is a good game, even 20 years after its origins. You should be aware that STORY of SEASONS: A Wonderful Life tells the story of a farmer’s life. At first, there isn’t a huge variety of crops, fish and things to dig up. Still, your focus should be on trying to make the farm profitable and socializing with the people in the valley. The first chapter is only the intro. New things are introduced in the other chapters as well. And while your family expands, the other people in the valley get older, too and have their own stories. The management part of the game is deep, maybe even deeper than later Story of Seasons games. Soil quality is important, for example, and sometimes crops just wilt without any indication. The quality of milk is important and not constant over the seasons, and you can influence it by breeding your cow after a certain time. Overall, I think the fans of Story of Seasons will be pleased!
Grow on the Go is a good addition to the gardening games out there. It focuses on managing your shop, growing plants in several different regions of the world and finding new varieties like shiny plants and out-of-the-ordinary colours. Some small bugs need ironing out, but for the price, this is a lovely gardening game. Look at the world from your storefront window, and make your customers happy while surrounded by your green cute friends.
Playing Loop8: Summer of Gods, I debated about which rating to give. Often I know even from the start which way my verdict will go, but not so this time. At first, the town felt so barren, and I often felt like I was just clicking away. Suggesting as much as I could towards everyone I met. Eventually, I began to see how I should play the game, paying more attention to relationships and whose friendship I wanted the most. Plus, I did my best to max my stats with activities. I liked the battles; I would have loved more of them, not just on the days that the gate to the underworld was open. But what made me keep on doubting my verdict was the feeling of being an outsider. Sure, I tried to get closer to my classmates by making the right suggestions, but I would have loved more real background stories and feeling. When I suggest “Get to know better”, I really want to know the person! I am going for I Like It, as I feel Loop8: Summer of Gods has more potential. To get the A Lot added to the I Like It, I would have needed more fleshed-out characters to relate to, making forming an emotional bond less a matter of clicking away and more of really wanting to know them more!
To be honest, I had a hard time coming to a conclusion for Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord. I liked the battles, loved the music and disliked the banter between the characters. I mean, I really don’t want to read all about Harley wanting to do a body check to research the Fairies, about Eryn losing her panties during the night and if Fang found them and so on. It might be comedy to some, but not my kind of humour and I even found it off-putting. The story was interesting, however, and the battles made up for it. I liked the turn-based strategic battles and all the special stat-raising possibilities there are to make the battles as interesting as possible. The glittering colours on the battlefield from Aria’s songs weren’t to my liking; I found it hard to discern the characters and where to place their attack. But the idea of adding music as a tactic is nice.
You get 100 math puzzles to exercise your brain for a small price. The Answer is 42 is a minimalist game where you focus on the puzzle at hand. No timer, no scores to beat, just you and your goal to make coloured pathways that always accumulate to 42. Is 42 the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything? I don’t know, but I do know this is a good math puzzle with no frills.