Nintendo Life's Reviews
Balatro is a roguelike for gamers who don't like roguelikes... and then everybody else on top of that. It utterly nails what it sets out to do, providing an instantly accessible, satisfying, and addictive gameplay loop that anybody can grasp. It's an immensely enjoyable experience from the start, but as you get deeper in, there's really nothing else quite like it. We suspect we'll be hearing a lot about Balatro when conversations steer towards Game of the Year, because this is a clear and obvious frontrunner. Utterly sublime.
Penny's Big Breakaway is a tremendous achievement by Evening Star, expertly combining tight controls, excellent level design, and a raft of creative ideas, all while throwing in a hefty dose of pure speed. Though the Switch version can feel a little rough around the edges at times, this is still an easy recommendation to make to anyone who considers themselves a fan of Sonic, 3D platformers, or both. Penny's inaugural adventure has got it where it counts, and if you're looking for a challenging, yet approachable new 3D platformer to add to your library, it doesn't get much better than this.
If you're a fan of '90s action platform games, there's something mildly magical about this. Ufouria 2's sunny world of papercraft and textile-built apparatus is endearing and fun. Its playfulness and zanier elements more recall the era of the Super Nintendo than the NES, and its laid-back approach to linear Metroid-style adventuring is plainly fun. It doesn't ask much from you except to enjoy a little exploration, a very moderate amount of backtracking through very short zones, and an undemanding task of coin collecting as you go. But its reward cycle has an addictive quality, if little else. It's not going to fulfil everyone's desires, and its ease might feel underwhelming to some, but those looking for a new adventure in a very 16-bit fashion will feel well served.
Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster is another resounding success for Nightdive, bringing a curious, nostalgia-laced FPS into the modern age with bells and whistles to boot. With enhanced gameplay, revamped visuals, and a wealth of accessibility options, this is easily the best way to experience Dark Forces and revisit an oft-forgotten era of Star Wars. Minor frame rate hiccups aside, this is an absolute must-play for fans of far-away galactic conflict.
It may have taken over ten years to finally come out, but Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island is a new high-water mark for the storied roguelike franchise. Its masterful blend of uncompromising difficulty with a wealth of content to overcome makes for a game that'll easily keep you satisfied for dozens of hours as you learn its tricks. Combine that with some cool online features and a charming art style, and you've got a game that's an easy recommendation for any roguelike fans out there. This is a tough nut to crack, but the experience is well worth it.
Pentiment is a fantastic adventure RPG that revels in a studious approach to history and immaculate recreations of the styles and traditions of 16th-century Bavaria. There's a super smart, funny, and engaging murder mystery to investigate here, but it's how that mystery is so fully rooted in the world that's been lovingly crafted around it that really elevates this experience. It's one of the best games of the past decade, hands down, and to have that experience running and performing perfectly on Switch is a joyous thing - it feels like it was made for Nintendo's console. This is about as essential as games get.
Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! does not come to Switch with a swathe of bells and whistles or make a host of changes to Game Freak's weirdest mash-up. It's a simple port of the Apple Arcade version - which, in itself, made very few changes to the 3DS original - but with a game this great, that's no bad thing. Sure, not much has changed since 2016 (even less since 2023), but this charming hybrid card-racer is absolutely worth taking for a ride wherever you can. Giddyap.
Splatoon 3: Side Order is an excellent addition to Splatoon 3, and helps to give it a stronger identity over its predecessors. Whilst we'd like to have seen more variety in the stages and objectives, the overwhelming number of options on your weaponry and how you upgrade them makes sure that things don't get too repetitive. We found ourselves repeatedly coming back to try just one more run which turned into five, so that should speak for itself. Splatoon fans rejoice, it's another goodie.
Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons may not be the greatest nonogram puzzler available on the Switch, but this is certainly another worthwhile and enjoyable entry in the genre-especially for fans who also love a good farm sim. This is ultimately little more than a nonogram puzzle pack themed after Story of Seasons, but really it doesn't need to be anything else, even if it would be interesting to see how farm sim gameplay elements could be more directly integrated into the gameplay. As long as you're not too bothered by a game experience that feels a little less polished than the Picross series, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons is an easy recommendation to any puzzle enthusiasts out there.
Blast Corps is a game that probably would have never stood a chance in today's world of shooters and plot-led borefests, so it brings us a great deal of comfort knowing that such a project got the high-quality Rare treatment back in the day. This is a game that is still immensely fun to play all these years later; the concept is simple and novel, it's highly playable, has great lasting value, and can easily be enjoyed in short bursts. The mixture of puzzle-based and time-limited gameplay provides a unique challenge that even the most veteran gamers will find incredibly testing at times. The end result is absolutely smashing; if you're an N64 enthusiast, there's no excuse for not having this brilliant game in your collection.
Bandle Tale is a solid crafting RPG with some really interesting ideas, although it doesn't always execute these ideas as well as it feels like it could have. An expansive crafting system, stunning art style, and hilarious writing all work in Bandle Tale's favor, but the gameplay can sometimes come off as overly frustrating and tedious. As the (unintentionally) final entry in the Riot Forge project, Bandle Tale serves as a decent capstone to a really great idea, and we'd recommend it to anyone out there looking for a chill and immersive new life sim to add to their collection.
Like the Great Elevator which takes you from beach to garden to mountain, Promenade unites several game elements you know and love in a way that still feels fluid. All this opens up a world that we were itching to explore. The collectathon gameplay is addictive, and the routes and puzzles are rewarding to complete. It might not elevate the genre, and it's not without faults or difficulty spikes, but that's okay with us because most of what it does stacks up.
qomp 2 is an excellent and worthy reimaging of Pong that honours the classic arcade game's legacy while providing a unique experience for folks with no nostalgia for Atari's seminal masterpiece. It offers a consistently interesting and engaging means of traversal with a great variety of obstacles and puzzles to overcome throughout the 30 stages. We would have liked a few more levels in the end, but this is really just an indication of the quality on display here. If you're into quirky action-focused puzzlers with a unique hook, then qomp 2 is definitely worth your attention.
Are there better, more complicated tactical strategy games out there for the Switch? Absolutely, but few of them are quite as entertaining as Inkulinati. In fact, none of them let you use a creature's butt quite as frequently or as effectively. The absurd humour doesn't stop the game from offering some unique tactical options, even if it errs on the easy side for our liking.
PlateUp! successfully differentiates itself from the cooking sim next door. While its roguelite elements encourage repeat attempts and reward your failures, fiddly controls, and awkward UI hinder its appeal as an undocked co-op experience. Fortunately, on a big screen, it's great fun.
Mario vs Donkey Kong serves up a slick return to the 2004 GBA adventure that finds fresh fun in cooperative play. Yep, the new co-op mode really is the star of the show this time out and, alongside two new worlds, 'Plus' versions of each level, a Time Attack mode, and fancy new looks and sounds, there's plenty to dig into and enjoy with a core puzzle/platforming setup that has aged quite well. Just be aware that, if you're a more seasoned player looking for platforming challenges, this game finds its strengths as an experience for younger gamers or as a co-op title to enjoy with your kids. Taken as such, it absolutely earns a recommendation.
Arzette does a great job of aping the look and feel of the CD-i Zelda games, but it relies on the player being familiar with them. Without that knowledge, what remains is a perfectly serviceable platformer but one that isn't revolutionary in any way. If you're in on the joke, though, it's just about worth sticking around.
Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is one of Aspyr's most accomplished projects to date, successfully giving three of gaming's most iconic titles a much-needed lick of paint while upgrading the controls to give newcomers a welcome leg-up. Some of the lighting is a bit off with the new visuals, and the need to manually save your game is a big no-no in 2024, but if you're curious as to how Lara Croft got her start in gaming, then this is easily the best way to experience the original trilogy.
Eastward: Octopia may not bring many new ideas to a crowded genre, but this is an impressively well-executed expansion that nicely ticks all the boxes for a satisfying and relaxing farm sim. Although it has some rougher edges, the decent gameplay variety, interesting story, gorgeous visuals, and surprising amount of content all come together to make this one an easy recommendation to any fans of the original Eastward. Even for those of you who fell off your playthrough of the original for one reason or another, we'd encourage you to consider coming back for Octopia-this is a much better-paced game and, some performance issues aside, it's lost none of the charm that made the original so popular.
Alisa Developer's Cut is an excellent homage to classic survival horror that can easily stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark. From the tank controls to the cheesy voiceover work, it nails almost every aspect, providing an experience that feels like it was ripped straight from the '90s. Its overall appeal will likely be limited to those who are intimately familiar with survival horror, but if that's you, then strap yourself in for one of the best examples of the genre to date.