Super Mario Bros. Wonder is arguably the best 2D platformer from Nintendo. Its range in difficulty makes it a game everyone can enjoy, especially with invincible characters like Yoshi and Nabbit. The co-op makes for a hilarious and fun family game night. Completionists and challenge runners are also in for a treat, as Mario Wonder is bursting at the seams with content. Wonder feels like the start of a new generation of Super Mario. We are on the precipice looking out at the exciting Mario games on the horizon, and if Mario Wonder is the first step, we are in for quite the journey.
Moonstone Island is a refreshing blend of some of the most beloved cozy genres. It’s art style is gorgeous, the music is fantastic, and the world it’s set in is fascinating. With 100 islands to explore and a hefty amount of creative freedom, there never feels like a lack of things to do, which is great when I hardly feel like leaving my floating home. As precious as Moonstone Island is, it won’t be for everyone. But if you like Stardew Valley and want something a little more adventurous or challenging, I say give Moonstone Island a try. It’s well worth its price of admission, and it’s a game I can see myself coming back to when I feel that cozy itch.
I had plans going into Starfield. I thought I knew how I was going to play. But like a solar flare to a ship, Bethesda’s masterpiece of a space RPG knocked me into a black hole where hours feel like minutes, and any attempt to escape its intoxicating grasp is futile. I got lost in space, and it felt so good. Starfield is THE space game. There’s no reason to play any others, at least not any currently available. It’s an experience made even more enticing as the game will be available on Game Pass from day one and forever. With modders supposedly able to craft entire planets, it’s likely Starfield will dominate the space RPG genre for years and years to come.
Blasphemous 2 feels very satisfying to play, look at, and conquer. It’s a step up from the original title and offers quite the challenge for those brave enough to attempt it. That said, it’s a bit on the short side and suffers marginally from Soulslike tropes. The story, for one, is incomprehensible if you aren’t reading every line of dialogue, and if you miss something important, there’s no going back. I spent my playthrough disregarding the story cause I had gotten too deep, and none of it made sense to me. That said, it was still a super fun and exhilarating experience, even if I had no clue what I was fighting for.
If you love Pikmin, you’ll love Pikmin 4. It only improves on the franchise’s tried and true formula. All of your favorite Pikmin return and even a couple of new ones squeak their way in. It is undoubtedly the best entry in the franchise, albeit a bit too merry. While it can be a bit exposition heavy to start, you’re quickly handed the reigns to your own rescue adventure. If you’ve never played Pikmin, 4 is as good a place to start as any. And hopefully, if given a chance, the Switch will allow Pikmin 4 the spotlight it deserves.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t get into how amazing the game’s soundtrack is or how the Definitive Edition adds a noticeable layer of polish to nearly every aspect of the game, or how you don’t need fancy realistic game engines to tell incredibly profound and heart-wrenching stories.
Touhou: New World is fun at its core. If you ignore the overdone “universal devastation” storyline and are okay with sifting through waves of trash mobs, there are some challenging bits that rival boss fights from some of the highest-praised indie titles. These fights are fun and chaotic and often make me wish this game was just a boss rush.
For me, We Love Katamari defined a large portion of my childhood. Playing this wacky game for hours with a sibling, ignoring all of the grittier story beats, and laughing hysterically at the ridiculous pompadours. But as an adult almost 20 years later, We Love Katamari REROLL has allowed me to relive that part of my younger years through a much more mature lens.
Thymesia certainly isn't the worst indie Souls-like money can buy. Especially for its reasonable price point, players get a handful of really fun and challenging boss battles, but I wish the levels in between didn't come across as filler. Thymesia ends up feeling like Bloodborne's younger, less-gifted cousin -- he may not be all that great, but he still has some redeeming qualities.
Kao the Kangaroo offers a pretty solid platforming experience and its graphics and soundtrack offer a pleasant nostalgic experience. Its environmental design is so charming, and the characters are loveable despite their poor voice acting. However, this experience is stopped short by bugs, repetitive gameplay, and poor storytelling. With a number of fantastic 3D platformers released in recent history, it's hard to recommend Kao the Kangaroo. If Tate Interactive would have kept this game in its developmental pouch a little longer, a lot of its big issues could have easily been resolved. Heck, we already waited almost 20 years for this game, we could have waited a few more months.
Outside of some minor issues, it's hard to find fault with Hardspace: Shipbreaker. It's not a game for everyone, but it does a fantastic job at what it's attempting to be, and could be all-consuming for the right player. It's an engaging sandbox with a compelling narrative and addicting gameplay. They say if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. Players will easily fall in love with the blue-collar spaceship salvager lifestyle making every shift in the yard feel less like work and more like a dream come true.
Oddworld: Soulstorm's repetitive gameplay doesn’t make it a bad game, but it does limit the demographic of players that will thoroughly enjoy the game all the way through. Its story and visuals are very impressive and help carry a lot of the game's weight, but playing through hour-long levels with little story elements in between can make Oddworld: Soulstorm a very slow burn. Fans of the Oddworld franchise and 2D platforming games won't be disappointed, but Oddworld: Soulstorm won't keep everyone hooked for very long.
There's a lot of content in Balan Wonderworld, but the amount of backtracking and costume swapping makes returning to previous levels feel too demanding. Pairing Balan Wonderworld's small environments with its lackluster 3D platforming fails to provide the AAA entertainment players come to expect from similar modern titles. The main issue with the game isn't its outdated take on an already niche genre, but that its core gameplay isn't fun and its supporting elements aren't amusing. Balan Wonderworld is hard to recommend to anyone outside of diehard genre fans considering the quality of other 3D platformers on the market.