When you consider how many titles Konami is packing into its Anniversary Collection packages – and that their retail price is almost half what Square Enix is demanding for the three games included here – it's impossible to not question the value of Collection of Mana.
There’s no denying that it is rough in parts and really could have done with a full remaster rather than a straight re-release, but Dragon’s Dogma nonetheless remains a fantastically gripping role-playing experience that manages to straddle the divide between exhilarating real-time action and stat-based adventuring.
It seems almost customary to include the phrase 'Not for everyone' in any review of a niche genre game, and while that certainly applies to Devil Engine, it has at least been designed in a way that encourages even the weakest players to keep trying and learn from their mistakes. The drip-feed of content is an effective incentive to pick yourself up and have just one more go, and although it is at times brutally difficult – even when compared to other tricky 2D shooters – it has the depth and variety to maintain your interest, and when you're at a competent level it's a heck of a lot of fun. The lack of online leaderboards goes against it, but if you're a fan of this style of game – and you're crying out for a title in the Thunder Force vein – then Devil Engine is well worth a look.
SEGA's had more than one stab at creating a comprehensive collection of its best Mega Drive titles and, as a result, SEGA Mega Drive Classics does lose some of its impact due to sheer familiarity; for example, we already have an immaculately-ported version of Sonic on the Switch eShop right now. Even so, it's hard to argue with the 50-odd games that ship with this new compendium, and only a fool would contest the fact that it showcases some of the best games of the 16-bit era. The modern-day enhancements are welcome too, and while this isn't the first time many of these games have gone portable (SEGA Mega Drive Collection on the Sony PSP did that over a decade ago, and let's not forget the amazing SEGA 3D Classics range on 3DS, which overlaps with some entries in this selection), it's a real boon to be able to play the likes of Phantasy Star IV or Story of Thor on the bus. When you take into account how much quality there is on offer here, SEGA Mega Drive Classics becomes an easy recommendation.
The visuals are detailed and eye-catching, while the vertical scrolling still looks impressive by modern standards. It's a shame that more new content couldn't have been added, but if you're looking for the ultimate way to relive this classic blaster, then this is your best option – even better than the original cartridge, thanks to the inclusion of that surprisingly addictive online ranking mode.
Familiarity does breed contempt, but Sonic's first game remains a classic despite the number of times we've played it. Sure, the sequel may be the better outing and both Sonic Mania and Sonic CD are arguably superior releases, but there's a pureness to this title that makes it worth a look, even in 2018. The only complaint that can be raised against the Switch version is that, like a great many of the upcoming Sega Ages Mega Drive titles, it could end up being surplus to requirements when the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection arrives; a slightly lower price might have made this easier to wholeheartedly recommend, but we know this very minor complaint will fall on deaf ears if you're a diehard Sega fan.
The third Labo kit is perhaps the best one yet; it offers a solid building experience and a genuinely entertaining way to control three distinct modes of transport, as well as a fleshed-out gameworld which is not only packed with things to do, but is augmented by a range of mini-game modes which will provide many hours of enjoyment – although the multi-player ones require you to have a second Vehicle Kit to hand, which might not be feasible for everyone.
Galak-Z: Variant S is a more focused and tighter experience than its forerunner, but one that offers surprising depth thanks to the often staggering upgrade opportunities on offer. By taking the freemium route developer 17-Bit Studios has been forced to introduce timers which can be overridden by spending actual cash, but these are thoughtfully deployed and even if you do decide to dig deep in your pocket, you'll still need considerable shooting skills to overcome the increasingly stern - if somewhat repetitive - challenge.
While some of the games included in this compendium are rendered somewhat superfluous by the fact that far superior sequels and updates exist alongside them, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection remains an utterly essential purchase for any self-respecting fighting game fan. Because of Street Fighter's importance to the genre, this is like a history lesson in how the one-on-one fighter has evolved over time; from its rather bumbled inception with the original Street Fighter to its break-out moment with the sequel and its slow and steady refinement with the Super, Alpha and Street Fighter III sub-series. Granted, you'll end up wanting more – it would have been nice to see some of the spin-off titles like X-Men Vs. Street Fighter make the cut, if only as bonus items – but it's not the fault of the game that we're inherently greedy by nature. The only other point to make is that the experience really benefits from using the right controller; while the Joy-Con are perfectly acceptable when you're hosting impromptu local multiplayer challenges and the Pro Controller's D-Pad is passable, we found the 8bitdo SN30 and SN30 Pro pads to be much better options, and if you have an arcade stick that's compatible with Switch, now is the ideal time to dig it out – this is fighting game nirvana, pure and simple.
Raging Justice isn't going to win any awards for originality or narrative depth, but it succeeds in picking up the often neglected scrolling fighter, dusting it off and sending it out with a fresh pair of clothes and some new ideas. The extra buttons are put to good use, giving you a wide array of offensive options when you're in the thick of things, and the ability to arrest enemies adds a layer of strategy to the otherwise mindless action. When played solo the game is perhaps a little too unforgiving to recommend to everyone, but when you rope in a second player it becomes one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences on Switch; working together to clean up the streets is fun, but you won't be able to resist occasionally stabbing your ally in the back, just for old time's sake.
The main mode is undeniably fun and gives a sense of immersion that is impressive for something fashioned out of cardboard. On the downside, it takes an age to assemble and the core 'game' isn't robust enough to keep you playing for long; you then have to decide if you're going to store that bulky backpack away somewhere or spend a considerable amount of time taking it carefully apart, knowing full well that another four-odd hours of construction time is required to make it again – if the parts are in good enough condition to do so, of course.
While it lacks any storyline and the randomised nature of the missions may strike some as lazy, Sky Rogue has plenty of gameplay where it counts. The dogfighting action is superb, aided by excellent controls, a wide range of weapons and plenty of stuff to unlock. The 12-stage campaign mode will keep you coming back for quite some time – thanks largely to the unique roguelike approach where death means losing everything, but the experience gained means a better chance of success next time around – and the ability to rope in a friend in co-op adds even more longevity. Granted, when you do eventually complete the game there's not a great deal to bring you back, but it will take quite some time and effort to reach that point – and you'll have had such a blast you won't feel short-changed anyway.
Castle of Heart looks great and offers a stern challenge to those who don't mind repeatedly playing the same level over and over before finally beating it and moving on. There's definitely some fun to be had finding the best route through each stage and delicately picking off enemies, but the constantly-depleting health bar and frustrating combat will have many players giving up and moving onto games which are less harmful to their general well being.
Ace Of Seafood is proof that even bad games can offer some entertainment value, and if you don't find the idea of massive, laser-shooting fish battling ghost battleships amusing, then you probably need to check your pulse. Beyond its utterly bonkers premise, it offers some surprisingly deep gameplay, with every battle presenting a different challenge and the need to constantly manage your resources adding a neat wrinkle to the arcade action. This fine balance between all-out blasting and tactical play makes this fishy game an intriguing prospect, but its myriad problems – which include poor production values, terrible interface design and awful music – suck some of the fun away. While we can't possibly recommend Ace of Seafood wholeheartedly, we also can't state categorically that you should avoid it; despite our frustrations we still had a surprisingly good time trying to rule its post-apocalyptic waters, and chances are you will, too.
The biggest problem is that Zero Gunner 2 lacks longevity, even when you take the two-player mode, multiple difficulty levels and (offline) high score table into account. With that said, it's still an essential download for shooter fans and is creative enough to be recommended to those who have a passing interest in the genre but want something a little different.