Soldam is a lovely little blast from puzzle gaming's past. It comfortably earns its place among top-tier Switch puzzlers like Puyo Puyo Tetris and Magical Drop II, but it's also different enough to those two that it doesn't feel redundant to have all three on the same system. Even better, Soldam's various modes — the quick-paced endless survival, the slow and deliberate Challenge stages, and the streamlined battle mode — play so differently from one another that it almost feels like a puzzle game collection in its own right. Add in the online play and thoughtful quality of life improvements in this localized version, and Soldam on Switch is a complete puzzle package.
Flyhigh Works' second Switch symphony hits all the same highs as the first; Deemo is a fantastic rhythm game, with an incredible soundtrack, fun mechanics, and a surprisingly touching tale to tell. Its lovely art and piano focus give it a unique feel — without at all restricting its musical horizons — and excellent pacing and difficulty options make it accessible and fun for a wide range of skill levels. Music fans shouldn't miss this — Deemo is a hit.
Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters isn't just the best Yo-Kai game currently available outside of Japan, it's also a fantastic title in its own right. Though its opening hours retrace the first Yo-Kai Watch a bit too faithfully, the rest of the experience is absolutely worth it; this is an endlessly charming RPG that captures the fun and wonder of childhood adventure, with the added excitement of a few hundred paranormal pals. This Psychic Specters edition perfects the formula, and if you've never played any version of Yo-Kai Watch 2, this is the one to get — though even if you've already pledged allegiance to the Bony Spirits or Fleshy Souls, there's plenty here to draw you back in, and a save-import function means you won't have to start from scratch. A highly recommended haunting.
Not much has changed since its Wii U and 3DS days, but Unlimited World Red is still a swashbuckling good time for anime action aficionados. The handful of extra quests and costumes included in this ‘Deluxe Edition' probably won't be enough to tempt anyone into double (or triple) dipping, but excellent visuals and drop-in co-op with single Joy Con controls make the Switch version a great place to jump in. It's a shame that there isn't more of an effort to introduce Oda's incredible world to players unfamiliar with the manga source material, but if you're already a Straw Hat supporter this is an easy recommendation.
Monster Hunter Stories is an excellent adventure that channels the colourful world of Capcom's storied series into a joyous JRPG. It suffers from performance issues on non-New 3DS hardware, but it's still full of personality, beautifully presented and fun to play, with combat that's easy to grasp but engaging throughout. Longtime MonHun fans will appreciate Stories as a thoughtfully-made spin-off, but the gameplay template and tone are so different that you don't need to be familiar with — or even enjoy! — mainline Monster Hunter to have a great time here. Regardless of whether you've been hunting Hornetaurs since the beginning or couldn't tell a Felyne from a Fatalis, Stories is yet another charming 3DS RPG that's well worth your time.
Miitopia is a special game, marrying the quirky style and interactions of Tomodachi Life with fun, addictive RPG-style gameplay and progression. It's a fitting celebration of the Mii concept, perfect for short bursts of play, and an absolute riot with the right group of Miis — if you've ever wanted to take your friends on a grand adventure, complete with silly cosplay and relationship drama, this is a perfect way to do it. Its streamlined take on the genre won't be for everyone, but for players willing to relinquish some control and trust in their Miis, Miitopia is a wonderful ride.
A real treat for anime-action fans, Fate/EXTELLA is a lovably frantic hack-and-slash with a feeling all its own. Appealing characters and an irresistible sense of style draw you into its world, and addictive, satisfying gameplay and excellent writing keep things exciting throughout. It suffers from some common ails of the musou genre, like minimal enemy variety and subpar AI, and it's far from a technical showcase for the system, but if you're looking for a fun, fast-paced slash-‘em-up on Switch — or to seriously complicate your relationship with one of Rome's most infamous sons — Fate is a perfect choice.
Ever Oasis isn't just a brilliant adventure, it's also one that's come at the right place and the right time. For 3DS RPG fans, who've had an unthinkably rich array of JRPG greats to choose from over the system's lifespan, Ever Oasis is a nice reminder that there's still plenty of room for innovation on the six-year-old handheld. Its addictive main gameplay loop, fun combat, amazing (and truly different) sense of style, and kindhearted nature make it feel like nothing else; though it reminds us of Rune Factory 4, Animal Crossing, Tri Force Heroes, and Final Fantasy Explorers in turn, this really is its own experience, and one we'd recommend to any action-RPG aficionado.
As the last Fire Emblem chapter on Nintendo's heroic handheld, Echoes delivers a perfect swan song for the series' 3DS days. This is a satisfying, deeply strategic adventure with an engaging, personal story and beautiful presentation, full of appealing art and lovely details that come alive as you play. But more than that, it's also just delightfully different from its predecessors, in ways that only broaden its appeal.
Stunningly stylish and with an irresistibly kinetic sense of motion, Kamiko is a true gem. It's a quick ride, to be sure, but gorgeous pixel-art visuals, a lush soundtrack and three very different characters with plenty of speedrunning potential make it well worth coming back to. A uniquely appealing, action-packed package for less than the price of a prayer plaque, this is an easy recommendation for any Switch owner.
Blue Collar Astronaut has its heart in the right place. It's a game that makes the most of its theme, with a beautifully cynical, anti-capitalist conceit that's sure to crack a few smiles. Sadly, the actual game underneath is competent but not really worth clocking in for — it's a simple, thruster-based delivery challenge that's decently fun, but doesn't hold up well to either repeat or extended play; its pleasant touches are balanced out by presentation problems in equal measure. You can sense the developers' passion for their project — which is worth a lot — but as a package, it comes up a day late and a dollar short.
World of Goo is a true classic, and it's revered for good reason. It's instantly accessible but with plenty of depth; it's paced out perfectly, with a steady stream of new tricks and techniques to learn; and its puzzles can be solved with forward-thinking, quick reflexes or a mixture of both. Wrapped up in a unique, pleasantly apocalyptic presentation, with co-op support and a harder 'OCD' mode for added replay value, this is a complete puzzle package. If you've played it previously, the Switch incarnation might be worth a second go for its portable pointer controls and on-the-go co-op, but if it's your first time into the World of Goo it's absolutely a must-play, and this is — in our minds — the definitive version.
New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers is a real surprise in the Switch's launch lineup: a focused town-building sim with an addictive gameplay loop that looks decent, sounds great and plays well. A lack of variety and an unambitious presentation are notable drawbacks, and will keep it from being a long-term investment for many, but what's here is enjoyable enough, and certainly worth a shot for sim buffs looking for something simple and fun.
Legna Tactica is a thoroughly middle-of-the-road experience; a serviceable clone of classics that fails to impress or distinguish itself beyond its influences. The SRPG gameplay at its heart is engaging and decently diverting, but bland characters, subpar writing, and a modest (perhaps slightly disappointing) presentation make it a tough recommendation in light of its company — if you're looking for a Final Fantasy Tactics clone, Mercenaries Saga 2 and 3 both fulfill the same role with more polish and a lower price tag. Otherwise, spend the extra gold for Stella Glow, Fire Emblem Fates, or Devil Survivor 2 — three of many tactical options with considerably more charm.If you've played through all of those alternatives, though, this is a diversion to keep you busy.
Mercenaries Saga 3 stands out; not for any particularly compelling features, radical design decisions or memorable characters, but rather for the simple fact that it's a commendably competent strategy RPG that comes cheap as chips. It doesn't do much to distance itself from its predecessor — Mercenaries Saga 2 — so veterans from that campaign may find a bit of fatigue here, but if you're fresh to the battle there's plenty to enjoy: satisfying gameplay, quick pacing, and an appealing art style make a lack of overall originality and smaller presentational hiccups more forgivable.
Dragon Quest VIII is something special. It tells a lovely story with memorable characters in a captivatingly colourful style, features fun combat and a beautiful world to explore, and — most importantly — sparks a true sense of adventure and wonder throughout. This isn't just one of the best RPGs on the 3DS, it's one of the best RPGs full stop — and one of the best Dragon Quests to dive into for the uninitiated. Perfectly paced, well written and superbly scored, it's a trip worth taking for any RPG fan, and the updates in this 3DS remake — from faster battles and on-field enemies to a fantastic photography mode — make it a worthwhile return journey for veterans. A true classic.
The Unlucky Mage lives up to its name in some ways — especially in its generic, subpar presentation — but it has a few tricks up its sleeve as well, with quality writing and a distinctly appealing cast of characters. In-between those extremes sits a gameplay template that delivers on exactly what it promises without really excelling: this is a no-frills, turn-based RPG in the 32-bit vein from start to finish, and how much you'll enjoy the experience hinges on how much that describes what you want to play. On a system like the 3DS, there's no shortage of top-shelf RPGs to choose from, but if you've played the best and are looking for a solid mid-tier effort, you might just be in luck.
All in all, Ambition of the Slimes is a lovable little game. It takes a classic concept — the grid-based strategy-RPG — and infuses it with a fun new conceit, by placing characters in the role of the lowly Slimes that would be experience-point fodder in any other RPG. Even better, it runs with that idea to deliver fun twists on the gameplay — like the 'Claim' command that lets you take over your enemies — that make the most of the theme. Add in a fun old-school presentation and a heap of personality, and Slimes is an easy recommendation for SRPG fans looking for quick, quirky fun.
As an RPG sequel, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is just about perfect. It lets players revisit a familiar world from a new perspective, keeps what made the original so special, and adds in several small but significant mechanical improvements that make for a smoother, better game throughout. We recommend playing through SMTIV first if possible, both to get the most out of Apocalypse and to experience one of the 3DS' finest JRPGs, but however you arrive at it, this is a game that begs to be played. It's a delightfully dark adventure that's dripping with dystopian charm, and between the personable demons, deeply satisfying combat and killer aesthetic, we couldn't get enough — the end times have never been so good.
An island-hopping adventure spanning space and time, Dragon Quest VII is a JRPG masterpiece. If you played the PlayStation version back in the day, this is as perfect a remake as you could ask for, with beautiful 3D graphics, a smartly streamlined opening, and lots of welcome quality-of-life updates. And if this is your first time in Estard, you're in for a wonderful surprise — great writing, a fun class system, lovely animations and a stellar soundtrack make for a fully engrossing adventure throughout. It's a massive game, but don't let that scare you off; with short story-style pacing and a huge variety of settings, speech patterns, and scenarios, it feels less like an epic tome and more like a shelfful of storybooks stuffed into a 3DS cart. This is an absolute pleasure, and a must-play for RPG fans.