Sonic Mania was a true return to form for the mascot, in his 2D 'Classic' guise at least, and celebrated the glory days of the original games while also enhancing their qualities and taking on new ideas. From new areas, imaginative second acts and some delightful boss encounters, the development team poured a lot of passion and talent into the project. Sonic Mania Plus takes that solid foundation and - in all honestly - doesn't do a great deal to mess with it. The new characters and modes are welcome, and there are some neat tweaks which iron out some of the kinks present in the original release, but on the whole this is an enhanced edition of the game rather than a feature-rich update. If you've still not sampled the delights of Sonic Mania then this is clearly the version to get, but if you're an existing owner then the low asking price of the DLC update make this well worth a look; we'll take any excuse to dive back into one of the best 2D platformers of recent memory.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Switch won't disappoint series fans, especially those that love the Wii original (or even experienced it on New 3DS). It's a new cast and world, with some fresh mechanics and ideas, but much is still familiar. The story has high points, the world and its varied Titan lands is intriguing, and it draws you in for many dozens of hours.It's Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series. It's ultimately an important part of an incredible launch year for the Switch - a reminder that while system concepts change some things are constant. This is another Xenoblade gem, and a must-have for the most dedicated of adventurers.
Snipperclips was a lovely launch game perfectly suited to puzzle-solving multiplayer, and in its Plus guise you get more content to enjoy. This is still not particularly suitable for solo play - though it's possible - but it's a game that is clear about its status as a multiplayer experience. When playing with friends and family it's still charming, humorous and also challenging, and the extra price for the DLC content is well worth the investment. As a definitive version of a high quality game this is worthy of any Switch collection.
Chess Ultra is a welcome arrival on the Nintendo Switch; it's a visual treat, while also soothing you with pleasant music as you engage in a tough match. There are plenty of options and variety for online and offline matches, with the former being particularly enjoyable if you're able to get into a real-time contest. With Tournament play and some well constructed Challenges on board, along with Tutorials for newcomers, it ticks most boxes. It's another checkmate for the Switch eShop.
Super Mario Odyssey represents a shift in direction for Mario. For about a decade we had exceptional but tightly structured 3D series entries, but this new arrival's building blocks go back to Super Mario 64. It's a very modern take on ‘sandbox Mario', however - Cappy and his abilities are key additions that freshen up the formula, and we have a sizeable and diverse set of lands to explore.Odyssey will, inevitably, now enter the discussions about the ‘best' Mario games. In the second half and post-credits - in particular - it takes on a life of its own, showcasing incredible design and development flair. It's also a wonderful showcase for the Switch, and could introduce a whole new audience to the wonders of Mario in three dimensions. For the veterans among us, meanwhile, it's yet another special release to remind us of why Mario is still gaming's number one.
Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's Conspiracy feels rather comforting, the video game equivalent of a warm blanket.
For fans of SteamWorld Dig we suspect the recommendation isn't needed as they'll buy this anyway. For those that skipped the first game, however, Dig 2 is a must-have - its charming aesthetic and cast set the scene for a tightly designed and clever exploration game. Now the wait begins for SteamWorld Dig 3.
Sine Mora is an intriguing, stylish shooter that's well worth a punt at a budget price. Sine Mora EX, however, is a trickier sell; the underlying quality is still there and it can be a memorable experience, but the additions are sloppy and add little, making it tough to justify at its full price. On Switch it has portability going for it, with the game looking handsome on the handheld or TV - it's understandably sharper and easier to play than in the previous Vita version, for portable fans. It's a fascinating game, and may draw you back for plenty of repeat plays or even score-chasing runs to climb online leaderboards. Its flaws, however, mean it's not currently among the best of its genre.
This is the third time we've reviewed this game, on each occasion a more feature-packed and improved iteration. Despite its 2010 roots - and pop culture references to match that time - it stands up extremely well, as pixels this stylish and action this chaotic don't lose their edge. Retro City Rampage DX is still an anarchic, almost overloaded game that bombards the senses while, at the same time, maintaining impressive polish in its gameplay. Whether you're playing it for the crazy story, excessive retro-styled violence or a mix of both, it still has the goods.
Piczle Lines DX is relatively pricey (at launch) for a download puzzle game, but it offers 300+ sizeable and quality picture conundrums to solve; it'll take most players a long time to solve every image. It's a fun mechanic that feels like a clever combination of other puzzle styles, and the option to detach the Joy-Con and use the touchscreen alone also makes it an appealing game for a bit of quiet downtime slouched in a comfortable chair. Its smartphone legacy lets it down a little in presentation, and beyond solving lots of puzzles it's lacking any smart variations in modes or even multiplayer. Nevertheless, in terms of serving up plenty of challenging content it does the job rather well.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a must have for Switch-owning fans of turn-based tactical games. More importantly, such is the style and depth on offer that it's also ideal for those that haven't played much of the genre, for whom 'X-COM' sounds like a silly acronym from a war movie. It introduces the concept in the best possible way, and then utilises its own ideas for what becomes a smart and - at times - deliciously challenging experience.It's perfectly acceptable to be surprised by Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, as many have been since its E3 reveal. The end result delivers on all of the potential that we could suddenly see back in June; even if you don't actually like the Rabbids, this game - and its familiar Mario cast and setting - is so good that Ubisoft's mascots are likeable. Well, almost.
Sonic Mania is a true return to form for the mascot, in his 2D 'Classic' guise at least. It celebrates the glory days of the original games while also enhancing their qualities and taking on new ideas. From new areas, imaginative second acts and some delightful boss encounters, the development team has poured a lot of passion and talent into the project. The occasional bug and a couple of brief and cheap areas deprive it of Sonic-style perfection, but it's pretty darn close.Is it the best Sonic game ever? It's in the conversation, though the classics it's honouring may stake a claim for slightly greater 'flow' in the campaigns. Frankly, it's better just to call it a dead heat and skip the argument - Sonic Mania belongs in the company of the games to which it pays tribute - the Blue Blur is back.
Infinite Minigolf is another solid arrival on the Switch eShop, and most importantly adds to the steadily growing variety of genres and themes on the store. It does a very nice job of delivering over-the-top, entertaining minigolf, with plenty of official and user-created content to keep players busy. The downsides are slightly baffling systems and a crowded user interface, and the fact that some less experienced gamers may find the required precision for shots a little too demanding. Overall, however, this one is definitely under par - in a good way.
For fans of the series Hey! Pikmin will undoubtedly be tempting, and it also serves as a cute and accommodating introduction to the franchise for 3DS owners. Despite its strong points, though, it has that feel of a 'second-tier' Nintendo release, not helped by the limitations that 2D play places on the core concept. It's solid but a tad uninspiring, fun but unsurprising, accessible but lacking in witty design. The best Nintendo games achieve the high points with no sacrifices, but it's here that Hey! Pikmin falls slightly short.Ultimately it's a decent game, and younger gamers in particular - or those that want a gentle introduction to Pikmin - will likely get the most pleasure and mileage out of it. For everyone else it's worth going in with sensible expectations.
Cars 3: Driven to Win falls for some of the pitfalls that are expected of a game released to coincide with a movie's arrival in theatres. Rather rushed, rough around the edges and with minor but persistent annoyances, older players will certainly recognise the symptoms.That said, it hits top gear in some respects. Its gameplay mechanics are rather fun once grasped, there are a variety of modes and tracks to master, and despite its sidenote of a narrative it goes big on the film series' charms. Young gamers and fans of the films will likely get beyond its flaws and rather enjoy what it does well, and it comes across as a game that was pushed out the door early but, nevertheless, was developed with some pride. It's a bit of a 'banger' in car terms, but it has a good lick of paint and a good engine - one to pick up on a whim or at a discount, perhaps.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is an ambitious title that does some things rather well, finding a way to endear itself to players. It has a few problems, some from design choices and others from its mobile legacy that should have been adjusted for console, but what it doesn't lack is heart. The desire of the developers to pay homage to classic adventure series, but in their own way, shines through. It's a flawed title, but if you're willing to overlook those issues you may find it to be an enjoyable experience on the Switch eShop.
Disgaea 5 Complete is a tough game to judge. On the positive side it offers an extraordinary volume of content, its own quirky approach to storytelling and a complex set of systems that complement each other well. Unlike some other major strategy RPG IPs, however, it struggles to present its complexity in a cohesive way, with a user interface that groans under the weight of its goals. Fans of the game and series likely adore this hardcore approach, but some more familiar with strategy games that are more focused and precise in their execution may find it hard to fall in love with all of those layers of detail. There are so many terrific parts to the game, but they get somewhat jumbled together.For Disgaea fans this game is worth a purchase, especially as it includes all DLC from the original and plays beautifully on the go. For strategy RPG fans we still give it a hearty recommendation, but with the proviso that it's more demanding and tougher to master than many of its genre contemporaries. If you're up for the challenge and time investment, and can tolerate its zany characters and settings, then it's well worth adding to your Nintendo Switch collection.
Thumper is a fantastic video game, an extravagant rhythm experience that's also a brutal assault on the senses. It's extremely difficult, painfully so at times, yet we feel the need to persevere, retrying tough stages over and over again. Even when that's done the drive for better ranks remains, simply because the game compels us to play on.The level of challenge, though, shouldn't be underestimated - even for strong players short sessions may become necessary in the latter third of the game, in particular. The only real flaw of Thumper, in actual fact, is that it offers so little respite and no 'easy' mode for players. Some may scoff at that, saying it's a game designed to be tough, but the downside is that without that optional concession the game will be inaccessible and impenetrable for some players.That's a pity, as for those up for the challenge it's a wonderful - albeit gruelling - gaming experience.