Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is very much its own thing, taking the best parts of the prior game and putting it in a new perspective. It evokes Privateer and Freelancer vibes, with the look of X-Wing spectacularly. It’s an accessible arcade game that has a lot of repetition in its loop, but that gameplay is really fun. There’s so many secrets to discover, and places to explore, that even dozens upon dozens of hours I haven’t seen it all. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is one of better games I’ve played this year.
Metal Wolf Chaos finds new life on PC, PS4, and Xbox One with Metal Wolf Chaos XD. And while it’s not a full remaster, it does more than enough to become accessible for the first time in its existence. The work done to bring this to modern systems and give people a chance to finally play it by removing the complications of obtaining the original Japanese game and hardware, is so appreciated. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is bonkers from start to finish, only getting crazier by game’s end. It very much feels like an unearthed time capsule, but Metal Wolf Chaos XD offers much in the way of replayability and absurdity that I couldn’t help but love its zaniness.
It's been a long time since Age of Wonders III was released back in 2014, and Age of Wonders: Planetfall reminds me what makes this series so great. This is a strategy game that feels like classic Age of Wonders in every respect, but thrust into the future with a renewed energy. There's essentially two games here that work in concert with one another, and Age of Wonders: Planetfall demonstrates how to do this flawlessly. The missions feel handcrafted, rather than "make your own fun"; the planets are colorful and vibrant, teeming with life, and the factions are unique, silly, and fascinating. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better strategy game than Age of Wonders: Planetfall this year, or in the past few years.
That’s about it for the game; it’s all a loop. The end goal for most is to buy your own vacant home and fix & furnish the way you like. But even that will begin to wear thin. With that said, there is something inherently relaxing about the whole ordeal. To me, something is soothing about doing menial tasks like cleaning. It must be something to do with there being a definitive start and endpoint. Add in the fact that they throw in a percentage meter letting me know when each room has been 100% cleaned, and it’s Viscera Cleanup Detail all over again for me. House Flipper is the perfect game to play when you need to distress from the day and one that is good to chill with. It may not be the most engaging game, but it sure is one that hit my inner needs.
While I complain about Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the issues I have with it center around the inclusion of RPG mechanics that don’t really find their place in this game, and hurt it in the long-run. Arkane’s influence to level design makes these places feeling more lived in, and more interesting than any of the locations in The New Blood, The Old Blood, or even The New Colossus despite the populace having been displaced due to the occupation. As a primer for the events of Wolfenstein III, it’s well worth the price of admission. You can still be a turbo killer as one of the Terror Twins, by murdering Nazis with reckless abandon with a shitload of heavy weaponry — and that’s more than enough for me.
After thousands and thousands of bugs killed, the infestation is seemingly never-ending. Rebooting the series with EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 is likely for the best, making it an excellent entry point, but also a familiar place to return to. It feels right out of a Syfy movie, but its lack of gravitas is what makes it all work. Sure it’s a little unbalanced, a little uneven, but it’s a whole lot of fun. Whether EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 is your first or fifth time with the series, you’re in for a great time.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is an excellent game in so many ways. It delivers on its promises and sets the stage for what I hope is more content to come in this new incarnation of Igarashi’s masterpiece formula. There has been a lot of outcry about the Switch version of the game, and it definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s playable for the most part. Would I recommend it over other platforms? Probably not, unless being able to play on the go is a priority for you. If Switch is your only system, then you should still absolutely play Bloodstained, but set your expectations accordingly. If anything, Bloodstained is a strong enough game that it is still worthwhile despite the technical issues it has on Switch, which is a testament to the highs it can achieve.
Depending what difficulty setting you select, Blazing Chrome can either be too easy or too hard, thankfully it is endlessly replayable alone or with a friend. Blazing Chrome is my favorite from JoyMasher yet, and it is on-par with the challenge of their other releases. This is a 16-bit game with an 8-bit challenge that makes for an instant classic. In turn, it stays authentic to the era in terms of difficulty, presentation, and feel. In Blazing Chrome's case, this is an exciting game that nails the era with an 80s and 90s feel that's perfectly complimented by its gameplay and even end-credits song.
F1 2019 has so many improvements, changes, and a overall fantastic feel. It doesn’t make you feel like anything was left out, and the extra DLC is just that – this is value-packed offering. Codemasters have blurred the lines between broadcast and gameplay, and it offers immersion on a whole new level. The interspersed drama heightens the stakes in all the right ways. F1 2019 is the spectacle it should be, just like its real-life counterpart. This is the best it’s ever been.
It’s hard to say much else about the game without giving away some fun story beats, but overall Mainlining is a fun game with great, consistent art direction and some very clever (and mostly faithful) old style hacking mechanics. While it almost certainly plays best elsewhere, the Switch version is impressively competent and it’s a great themed adventure that is both challenging and satisfying.
DeadToast Entertainment has made a game that builds on the systems and mechanics it introduces incrementally to the player. This is a game where you feel like John Wick, (or maybe Neo for a more accurate Keanu Reeves reference) by game’s end. The late game annoyances in platforming don’t sour what is otherwise and incredibly fun game where you’re in direct control of the action. The tagline is “Blood. Bullets. Bananas.” and that couldn’t be more accurate. Though, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again after experiencing the final level. My Friend Pedro is equal parts substance and style, with emphasis on the style.
There’s nothing cooler than seeing a Ferrari F40 re-imagined as a LEGO vehicle that you can not only drive but customize in Forza Horizon 4. In a lot of ways, this feels like a test for Playground Games to do a standalone LEGO racing game someday. As it stands, this is a great expansion for people of all ages, despite how displaced it seems from the rest of the game. LEGO Speed Champions doesn’t disappoint in its delivery, but it does feel like it’s taken a few missteps in the build process. Ultimately, this is a childhood fantasy come true.
Duck Game is out on multiple platforms, but with it being on the Switch now, you can take the Ducks on the road. So if you have extra joy cons or have friends that do, this is one of the perfect games to pick up and play at social gatherings. It’s a solid port for all your quacking needs.
MotoGP 19 has so much new going on that makes this a must-own for those following the franchise. The series still manages to lack a personality, but is now forming its identity with this release. The before and after TV-style presentation is really solid, but I wish there was more. Fans and historians of the sport will love the challenge mode, and everything it offers. If you've never played the series before, this is the year to get into MotoGP. MotoGP 19 has no shortage of simulation racing to be found in its multitude of well-rounded modes.
So should you spend your own hard earned coin on Blazing Beaks? Yeah, I do think it’s worth a home on your Switch. It’s a simple game to hop into for quick play sessions and if you got friends in the same room, why not give the co-op some loving. The game is polished, it’s entertaining, it’s got a quirky soundtrack, and controls well so why not let this bird out of its cage and into your Switch’s heart, or something bird pun related.
Shakedown: Hawaii is better than Retro City Rampage in just about every way, but they find a way to compliment each other. The game’s biggest strength is not relying on references, even though I miss them. The story is very guided by being very hand-holdy. I wish you were given more creative latitude, but that’s where the free roam and arcade modes come into play. With a styling akin to a Super Nintendo or Genesis console, Shakedown: Hawaii looks and plays amazing. It’s being ported to literally everything, and no matter where you play it: you absolutely should.
Overall, Rock of Ages 2 is a solid strategy game wrapped in a lighthearted package with a well-tuned sense of humor and some very well thought-out ideas. Whether you played the first game and are hungry for more, or are just getting into the series for the first time, Rock of Ages 2 will keep both your brain and your funny bone tickled.
Void Bastards is among the very best of the genre, and my favorite game of the year so far — it’s an instant classic. It’s as if you have infinite lives, and upon death you realize your save is 15 minutes old. Sure, you can’t pick up from where you left off, but it’s never anything to feel defeated about when you have to start anew. Blue Manchu has thought of everything when it comes to its systems and how they interact with each other. Centered around the story and progression, this is a wonderful experience. Without hesitation, Void Bastards is exceptional in every sense of the word.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is more of the same Earth Defense Force, and that’s great for fans. You will still spend your time battling giants, trying the save the Earth from certain doom. Even for how cheesy the acting can be, for how slow it feels, and for how janky the animation looked, I still had fun doing it.