SteamWorld Build is a beautifully crafted game that seamlessly blends genres and ideas into a polished and premium package. There's not another management sim like it, but despite it running surprisingly well on Nintendo's system, it does leave us wanting for more reason to return to it. You're all but guaranteed to adore your first time through, but subsequent playthroughs may not carry the same magic. Still, with all that being said, this is undeniably a triumph of mechanical marvellousness.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 has the potential to be a strong platform fighter, but on Switch it's wrapped up in a frankly incredible amount of poor performance and presentation. Fighters feel weightier, and the new campaign adds context and charm to the package, but it'll take a miracle patch to save it from being a choppy, blurry, flat-looking barrel of disappointment on Nintendo's console.
One thing that is sorely missing, however, is gyro aiming. I don’t think we can stress enough what a match made in heaven gyro would be in a game like this, but it’s made doubly disappointing by the stiffness that the standard dual analogue setup. It’s not a dealbreaker, and there’s still a roaring good time to be had here, but oh how we ached to wave our controller around and have it actually do something in-game.
Splatoon 3 is more of the same, but refined to borderline mechanical perfection. It's the most fun we've had with an online shooter in years, and for series veterans it makes Splatoon 2 feel entirely redundant for all but its unique single-player content. It feels like the development team has solved every problem the Splatoon community was bleating on about, and then fixed some more that we didn't even realise were problems until they were fixed. There's nothing revolutionary about it compared to its predecessors, and it's perhaps missing a Big New Idea™ that you might expect after five years, but Splatoon 3 is the pinnacle of the series, and the pinnacle of shooters on Switch.
Two Point Campus is a masterclass management sim game bursting with creative new ideas and a wholly original approach to success. Its wholesome 'invest in students and they'll invest in you' strategy is a beautiful way to put a positive spin on an otherwise NPC-exploitative genre. Dampened only by some technical issues, it still manages to be a standout amongst its peers and shine brightly at the top of the class.
Mario Strikers: Battle League is a masterclass in competitive game design. What it lacks in options is more than made up by just how much fun the game is, and it's absolutely gorgeous to boot. As it stands it already feels like a complete product, but the promise of future updates down the line gives us even more to get excited about. If arcade sport action isn't your bag, it'll likely do nothing to sway your opinion, but if you have even a passing interest in this kind of caper, Mario Strikers: Battle League is the best sports game on Switch right now.
We're hoping that as soon as the online functionality is live Nintendo Switch Sports will make a lot more sense, but as a purely local game there's a lot to be desired to make this a worthwhile purchase. If you're keen on simply playing some motion-controlled Wii Sports-like games on your Switch then Nintendo Switch Sports might bring you a good bit of enjoyment, but if you're looking for something a little deeper and with a bit more variety than the game you first played on Wii, you'll probably be left somewhat disappointed.
"NINE OUT OF TEN," Alex bellowed as he wrote. "A thoroughly enjoyable expansion of an already classic game treated with love, care, and most importantly a meta awareness that pays tribute to everything that made The Stanley Parable so beloved. It may leave a small few questioning more than they'd like, but we wouldn't want it any other way."Alex wondered if this small sound bite could be considered a complete review, but he was certain that if he needed to, he could find a way to pad things out.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a fun little romp which doesn't have ideas above its station and presents its brain-teasers in a more lighthearted, rowdier manner than Dr. Kawashima's friendly but sterile style. This isn't the kind of marriage between gameplay and (for lack of a better term) 'work' that you'll find in Ring Fit Adventure, but it's a greatly enjoyable and budget-friendly way to keep up the little pitter-patter of grey matter for all ages.
Mario Party Superstars is a love letter to the parties you remember attending 20 years ago. A disappointingly slim selection of boards takes the shine off things somewhat, but it's hard to argue that this is the best Mario Party has been in over a decade. No new ideas absolutely feels like a missed opportunity, but by the same token we'd much prefer to have all these classic ideas intact rather than potentially tainting them with unwanted and unnecessary inclusions only added for the sake of being new. Grab a can of Tango and a fistful of 10p Freddos - you're going to party like it's 1999.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a solid platform fighter with an awful lot of hidden depth, and also an unfortunate lack of polish outside the fighting. If hardcore gameplay is the number one concern you'll have a wealth to sink your teeth into here, but expect to be underwhelmed by various elements that surround it. There's a grand old time to be had, but it's no Super Smash Bros. (damn it yet again).
All in all Colors Live is a useful art application with some strange limitations. The Sonar Pen and layers are absolutely welcome in our eyes, but the lack of a bucket tool, restricted brush styles, and many other staples left us a bit wanting. Having said that people have already been creating tremendous artwork showing that any medium is only as powerful as the artist's skillset. We'd have liked to see a more complete digital art package, but for someone who already owns a Switch and wants to try doodling on a screen with something more than their finger, Colors Live provides a simple and easy entry point.
Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition is a title that doesn't do the game justice. This isn't a stripped-back Nokia N-Gage version of a grand game, this is the real deal, and it's blinkin' marvellous. Farming Slimes, exploring the world, getting frustrated at the price of Crystal Plorts never going up, it's a dense and wondrous experience. Having to travel so much on foot stops it from achieving extreme greatness, but it's not enough to stop us giving this a hearty recommendation.
Haven Park is a lovely game that suffers a bit from strange movement choices and a partially underbaked camp construction system. These cons aren't dealbreakers by any stretch, but they do somewhat sour what could've been a truly stand-out example of a bite-sized, wholesome little game. We're still glad to recommend it, but don't expect the same level of polish as other bird-based island exploration jaunts you can find on Switch.Oh, and if you press 'A' with nothing to interact with in front of you, Flint says 'Pew'.
Game Builder Garage is a frighteningly powerful game creation tool dragged down by a few limiting factors. The lack of an object creation tool (and pyramids) means that most games are going to look like they were made in a game creation suite, but the sheer scope of what's possible helps to take the sting out of the tail. This will actually teach you how to make games, the tutorials that lead you through are by-and-large excellent, and the inclusion of USB mouse support is a godsend. We're probably unable to even conceive of half of what Switch owners will be able to create using this software, but we're certain this is going to help propagate the next generation of game developers.
Miitopia is a weird old game, that's for sure. If from what you've read you think you'd enjoy seeing King King Dedede (sic) encouraging our very own Zion Grassl to marry his daughter Kazooie over Jon Cartwright, then you're bound to have a good time with this. It's very much the type of game in which you get out as much as you put in; if you're not into injecting a copy of Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash into the role of a genie then you might want to think twice, or at least give the free demo a whirl. Whimsy and madcap situations a-plenty, this is a crossover that could rival Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, provided you're willing to put the effort in.
FEZ is a fun, challenging puzzle platformer fit to burst with original ideas and unique gameplay wrinkles. Its puzzles bend reality and even leech into our own world on occasion, but aside from a few select mega-challenges never stray into the category of too obtuse or unfair. A few visual and mechanical quirks stop this from being a perfectly polished experience, but these are outweighed by its charm and other wonderful qualities ninefold. It's another one of those 'games you have to play' on Switch, and it couldn't be more at home.
In short, The Crown Tundra is another fine addition to Pokémon Sword & Shield, but it emphasises many of both the highlights and shortcomings of the base games. The highs are excellent, white hot flashes of wonderment, but they're a little spoiled by a foundation of ageing game design. We would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Isle of Armor, but considering if you've paid for that you've already paid for this, it's hard to argue otherwise. The Crown Tundra offers a glimpse of a possible future, and what it does well, it does seriously well, but the series as a whole deserves to be completely dug out of the nearly 25 year-old design philosophies that made the originals great. The world has moved on since Pokémon first arrived, and it's time for the series to catch up.
The Isle of Armor is a lovely addition to the base Pokémon Sword & Shield games, bringing in far more new features to tickle hardcore fans than we initially expected. On the downside, it's a little shy on narrative-driven content and is really all about the isle and its Pokémon inhabitants. Still, while we would certainly have liked to have seen more story-based gameplay, what's on offer is still excellent, and offers dedicated fans of the series an awful lot to explore and do. If you loved the Wild Area in Sword and Shield and want more of that, we can safely say you'll get a real kick out of this.