Mario vs. Donkey Kong was directly inspired by Donkey Kong ’94 and features many of its mechanics, including the lock-and-key system and the Super Mario Bros. 2-style treatment of enemies. It’s a very solid puzzler, but it’s just not as inspired in its design as the older game. Until Nintendo decides to give its actual puzzle-platforming masterpiece an equally considered remake, though — or at least deigns to add it to the Game Boy collection on Switch Online — Mario vs. Donkey Kong will have to do.
Forza Motorsport is serious business. Put the time in, Turn 10 is saying; do your laps, shave off the seconds, make that one small tweak, grind out that win. I respect its focus, and its refusal to pander to fun-addled Horizon players, instead offering them a clearly articulated invitation to join its more austere church. This is a game about going round in circles, a little bit faster every time, and it’s quite unapologetic about it.
There’s genius and sincerity at work here. Get deep enough into Tactics Ogre and the entreaty of its subtitle, Let Us Cling Together, starts to sound a lot less goofy and a lot more urgent and sad. How deep you will get into the game depends on your appetite for micromanagement and your patience with gameplay systems that, 27 years later, are starting to creak, despite all the judicious tinkering that’s been done to them. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a welcome, polished, and thoughtful update to a game that defined a genre — a genre that has now left it behind.
This is all welcome, and it makes Dorfromantik a more complete and rewarding experience. But really, this is one of those games for which early-access status was a bit of a misnomer, not because it had no room to improve or features to add, but because its premise was so fully, perfectly realized from the start. Add too much to it, or do anything that might disturb its delicate balance between friction and flow, between logic and naturalism, and it would have been ruined. But the Toukana team knows better than that. They are at peace, strolling through the countryside of the mind.