Be sure to give it a look, though. SaGa Frontier is a frivolous and irreverent little JRPG that eschews grand narratives and philosophies to instead focus on a charming sequence of absurd juxtapositions, genuine humour, and playfulness. It's a well-made game, and the effective, challenging and entertaining combat system stands as proof of that. It's just that it's also nothing like most other Square Enix JRPGs, because the developers clearly wanted to deliver something that defied the expectations of the JRPG genre. SaGa Frontier was such a resounding success at that that it has become a "cult classic" and while this will never appeal to the mainstream, hopefully it will find itself a new audience through this remaster.
Even more than Monopoly, The Game of Life is a board game from a bygone era. Once upon a time, the nice, meandering journey through suburban life and expectations thereof that the game depicted was considered a representation of a happy, wholesome life experience, but in 2021 lionising that seems incredibly passe. Sticking a "2" next to the title while not doing much to address this dissonance doesn't paper over the fact that very few people actually want to play The Game of Life these days.
Clea 2 is a confident step forward for a developer that has an original, interesting idea and set about turning it into something playable. It might lack the intensity of some of the horror games that it resembles, but its quiet moodiness and subtle challenges make it an interesting curiosity for those with a few hours to spare.
You've got to hand it to eastasiasoft for finding and bringing these fun little fanservicey games to the Switch. Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire brings the fan service in spades, but it also plays a really good game of Mahjong Solitaire, and while the Switch has plenty of Mahjong Solitare titles already, none of the others have the pin-up aesthetic going for them. For just a couple of dollars, you can't go wrong here.
I genuinely love Balan Wonderworld because it caught me at just the right moment to indulge its whimsy. I don't for a second think it's a great game or platformer, but then I also just don't care. It offers something much more viscerally engaging; raw creative energy, and I would rather a hundred games fall flat like this one has and at least give me something different than play yet another highly refined copy of something I've already played a hundred times. Sometimes, just sometimes, raw creativity is enough in itself.
When Evil Genius 2 gets it right, it gets it spectacularly right, and if you’re the type that can bury your brain into resource management while laughing at the deliberately cliched and over-the-top style of the game, you’ll have plenty of moments of fun taking over the world, one carved-out-of-mountain-rock room at at time. However, there’s still some rough edges here, and some game balancing that could have made it even more engaging, both for those who adore resource management and those who might just like the challenge of taking over the world with the help of a few shiny new doomsday devices.
MazM: The Phantom of the Opera is what I would like to see more of in video games; it's a genuine effort to engage with a more meaningful side of art. It's less pop culture, easy content as it is an adaptation of a masterpiece of the gothic literature genre. The developer succeeded in capturing the aesthetics and generally representing the story, but there have been some big compromises made to hammer this nail into place, and the gamey elements and technical proficiency are just not there. Not for the Switch version, at any rate. As a Phantom of the Opera fan, I do highly recommend like-minded fans check this out, as it is a curiosity, but if you're going into this looking for a game... you'd be better off picking up a copy of the film adaptation of the musical.
Black Legend is not completely without merit, but it's a game that had better ideas than execution. The big, unique gameplay mechanic that dominates its combat system is also responsible for making each battle far too long, and while the game's atmosphere is excellent, the art direction is uninteresting and there isn't nearly enough of a narrative to actually make something of the setting. There are a lot of excellent tactics games being produced these days, and I fear that the developers of Black Legend won't even be able to use patches to bring it up to the standard of the least of their competitors. The flaws are simply too ingrained into the core experience.
I'm legitimately upset that I didn't enjoy I Saw Black Clouds more. It seemed to have so much promise. There were glimmers of hope – I really enjoyed the classic ghost story until that was yanked into another direction, one that I still don't think makes a whole lot of sense. Unfortunately, the entire story seems too far-fetched, minus the supernatural aspect of all things. As far as I can tell, there's only one general direction it ever takes in the end, although I remain hopeful for those other endings. The biggest problem with the game is that choices are literally the entirety of gameplay but they don't seem to matter half the time anyway, so the entire thing feels like an exercise in futility. And all that nonsense and non-decisions really dragged it down.
Spacebase Startopia is not completely without merit, but it does lack in charm and depth, and simulators need one or the other (and preferably both) else they're in big trouble. With that being said there is a very specific audience for this game; it works as a competitive simulator where you learn the perfect order for doing things and then execute on that to cruise through to easy victories. In almost any other context, however, Spacebase Startopia lacks the creative whimsy and data-driven depth that we usually expect from a great simulator.