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Found 706 results

  1. Well this came out of nowhere didn't it? I'm actually still watching it right now! Press release:
  2. Update: Lawsuit officially filed. https://ninfora.com/forums/index.php?/topic/3325-switch-joy-con-drift-class-action-lawsuit... If you don't know about this whole deal with the Switch Joy-Con drift, watch the video in the spoiler bellow first. Luckily I haven't experienced this, yet. Though, I know there are a lot that have. I really hope this goes somewhere, because this is a major design flaw and Nintendo hasn't said a world. Joy-Con aren't cheap, ya' know ...Even for a single one. If you haven't experienced this yet, you will eventually. This really makes me wonder about the Switch Lite. Hopefully they didn't use the same control sicks as in the Joy-Con, because you'd be screwed if you start getting drift. You can't just buy new Joy-Con. I know you can just replace the sticks on the Joy-Con yourself, but most people are comfortable doing that and on the Lite, It would probably be more of a pain. In an all perfect world, Nintendo would fix this flaw and replace everyone's Joy-Con sticks for FREE.
  3. Step into the world of a pulp adventure novel with Curious Expedition from developer Maschinen-Mensch and publisher Thunderful Games, where you'll travel to distant lands, discover ancient ruins, hunt exotic game, and run afoul of mystic curses. With procedurally generated maps and a wide variety of characters to play as, there's nigh endless replay potential as you struggle to survive and make a name for yourself in dangerous climates. As with many roguelikes there's a punishing learning curve to overcome, but soon enough the call of adventure will keep you enthralled. According to the game's brief intro you are a member of the UK's Royal Society who is given the chance to immortalize themselves as the greatest explorer of the age. To win this honor you'll have to compete against four other explorers to build as much fame as possible across a series of expeditions. You can choose from a variety of historic figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and not just famed explorers but scientists like Marie Curie or whatever title you want to give Grigori Rasputin. Sadly the game's writing doesn't really change depending on which character you're playing as, and a lot of the dialogue in the game will start to seem pretty repetitive after a couple of playthroughs, but if nothing else the list of historic figures is a nice encouragement to read up on their real-life exploits. Curious Expedition is all about resource management as you cope with randomly generated environments and hazards. Every step you take while exploring costs you some sanity, and letting your sanity get too low can have adverse affects on you and your crew, potentially even triggering some dark scenarios where one crewmember goes missing and the rest are suddenly eating well on a supply of mysterious meat. You can recover sanity with various food items or by sleeping at rest points like healing springs, native villages, or missions. Reaching these safe havens is rarely a simple task though. You're in uncharted territory so you literally can't see what's ahead of you too far, which may cause you wander into some bad dead ends, or be attacked by predatory animals. Terrain can also affect your progress, since something like thick jungles can be more time-consuming to traverse (and more sanity-consuming). You'll also have to worry about injuries since you'll encounter plenty of hostile beasts, supernatural creatures, or even natives if you manage to annoy them too much. Combat in Curious Expedition is handled by a pretty interesting dice system. Each member of your expedition crew contributes dice that you roll during combat, and you can combine the results into unique attacks. For example, rolling a sword symbol on its own can be used for a basic attack, but combining it with a shield symbol will turn it into a more powerful combo that deals damage and gives you a shield for defense. Even though you have to cope with the randomness of the rolls, there's still a good amount of strategy involved in how you combine and use the results of your rolls. The whole combat system almost feels like an entire mini-game or side game system within the broader exploration adventure, and it's one that can be richly rewarding (though no less stressful when your luck turns). And just surviving is really only part of the game. The goal of each exploration is to discover the golden pyramid hidden in each map, and also to discover it before your rivals so that you can reap the most renown. Along the way you'll contend with plenty of other obstacles, hazards, and moral dilemmas—for example, raiding a native's temple for valuables my increase your renown when you make it back to London, but it will turn the locals hostile, potentially costing you trade and shelter. Like any good roguelike, Curious Expedition is all about maintaining a juggling act of all of these randomly generated challenges while coping with whatever resources you have on hand. And like a lot of roguelikes it'll be really difficult the first time you play, even on the easiest difficulty, but the joy of Curious Expedition is in dusting yourself off and starting the adventure all over again. There's tons of replay value here and it helps that one full playthrough is fairly short—earning that coveted statue at the Royal Society can take only a couple of hours, so failing doesn't feel like a waste of too much time and success just spurs you on to try again with a new character and a new strategy. Players that enjoy testing out all possible paths that a game can offer will love discovering every hidden item, character, and stratagem in Curious Expedition, and then pushing themselves to handle any possible combination. Not only is the premise of the game a throw back to late 19th century exploration and adventure, but the art style are just as much of a blast from the past. Okay not quite that old-fashioned, but the retro pixel art graphics does lend the game a bit of an 80s PC adventure game vibe, which really works for the atmosphere of the game even if it does feel maybe a little too simple at times. The music isn't half bad either, though the soundtrack mostly lays down some atmospheric beats—good for zoning out and exploring, but not particularly memorable either. Disappointingly though, the game can get somewhat laggy and choppy when there's a lot happening on screen, and the issue is only worse when playing in handheld mode. Thankfully it's not the type of game that requires quick reaction time so some frame rate jitters doesn't really affect the gameplay, but it's disappointing to see. Curious Expedition leverages its unique setting and style into a charming and addictive roguelike adventure. Dropping players into procedurally generated maps with random hazards under the guise of a 19th century explorer is, it turns out, a pretty solid combination, one that proves plenty engaging when survival is so precariously balanced around your forethought and strategy before the expedition begins and your on-the-spot decision-making while you're in the heart of the jungle. Roguelike fans will be satisfied by the variety of possibilities the game offers, and even players who aren't already fans of the genre may be drawn in by the game's curious trappings. Rating: 7 out of 10 Expeditions Review copy provided by publisher Curious Expedition will be available on the Switch eShop on April 2 for $14.99.
  4. It's a story we've seen a thousand times: you're chilling at home scrolling through your social media feed when some alien lady bursts through your wall and kidnaps your cat, which leaves you no other option but to fight your way through her robot army to rescue your precious pet. That old tale. Insane premise aside, Super Crush KO leverages all of the experience that developer Vertex Pop gathered from Graceful Explosion Machine to create another delightfully engaging score-chasing action game. There's not a lot of storytelling happening in Super Crush KO—my summary up above pretty much covers everything—but there's still a lot of style and flair packed into the game's brief cutscenes as our protagonist, Karen, pursues her cat, Chubbz, and the space-traveling cat-napper. The end of each level also treats you to a short bit of text that highlights what the characters are thinking, including Chubbz (spoiler alert: it's meowing). The game happily leans into its absurd premise to be utterly charming, cute, and, in the end, rather heartfelt. Super Crush KO is a stage-based side-scrolling action game: each level features a handful of combat scenes where you fight off waves of robots, and these scenes are connected by light platforming sequences and more robot butt-kickin'. The basic goal is to reach the end of the level, but the real heart of the game revolves around racking up a high score by stringing together combos and all of Karen's abilities. In addition to basic punches and a fancy space gun picked up from the alien cat-napper, Karen gradually unlocks a handful of special attacks that deal extra damage and smoothly combo into one another. After Graceful Explosion Machine, the developers seem to have this formula down pat, and the fluidity of Super Crush KO is an absolute blast. Rather than inundating players with dozens of special attacks, the game keeps things simple with just a few, but the effect is still the same: you'll feel like a one-woman robot-wrecking crew when you effortlessly flow from punching one robot, dodging another before uppercutting it, kicking the robot while in mid-air, then shooting a distant robot before it can fire at you. The combat system is immensely satisfying thanks to this snappy combo system that isn't too demanding but still rewards quick reflexes and careful monitoring of the stage as robots spawn in around you. Most importantly, Super Crush KO is about earning a high score, which means stringing together your attacks without taking damage yourself. This is, as you might expect, much more challenging, but it's also what makes the game so wonderfully addictive. The flow of combat is smooth and fairly easy to grasp, so perfecting it can become an obsession as you try your best to maintain a high combo streak from one fight to the next. You're able to share your high scores on an online leaderboard to see how you stack up to other players, which only further incentivizes you to perfect your skills. It's a good thing the game has this incentive too since just running through the game once is a very short experience. There are only twenty levels in the game (four of which are boss fights) and levels are rarely longer than a few minutes. The stage length itself actually feels great—long enough to be challenging to maintain a high score, but not tediously long—it's just a shame that there aren't more levels. The game's formula absolutely does not get old and I easily could have played through another two dozen levels, especially since the game continuously challenges you with new robot enemies with more dangerous attacks and bigger health bars. Bright and colorful with bold shapes but ultimately few details, the look and sound of Super Crush KO is an excellent match for the fast-paced arcade-style gameplay. You don't want any uncertainty about what type of robot you're fighting or whether an incoming attack can be interrupted or needs to be dodged, and the game's clean, bubbly, and relatively minimalist style ensures that you're never confused about what is happening on screen. It's also a really gorgeous color palette, one that gives the game a unique pastel vibe, which is oddly calming despite the action-packed nature of the gameplay. The music is excellent as well; its mellow, groovy style is almost at odds with the gameplay as well, but ultimately the synth sound, punctuated by Karen's punches and kicks, creates a great background for a robot beatdown. Super Crush KO does one thing and does it exceedingly well. The simple goal of score-chasing can be wonderfully engaging, and developer Vertex Pop has once again captured that simple joy, this time in a beautiful pastel package that encourages combos with fast, fluid gameplay. It's a shame the experience isn't longer, but when you take the time to perfect your skills and your score in every level, Super Crush KO is a delightful addition to the Switch library. Rating: 8 out of 10 Cats
  5. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 4– ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 4 is the latest evolution of PIRATE WARRIORS action! Choose from a range of popular characters and take on large numbers of enemies while fighting through the legendary world of ONE PIECE. Based on the concept of “experiencing a real ONE PIECE battlefield,” buildings will come crashing down during the action and attacks will throw up smoke and dust, placing you in the thick of the ONE PIECE world. By injecting fresh elements that couldn’t be achieved in previous entries, an even more thrilling brand of PIRATE WARRIORS action can now be experienced. ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 4 will be available on March 27. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition Arcade Archives IKARI III -THE RESCUE- Bohemian Killing Bubble Bobble 4 Friends – Available March 31 Card Game Bundle Vol. 1 CHAOS CODE -NEW SIGN OF CATASTROPHE- Chapeau – Available March 31 Children of Zodiarcs – Available March 27 CopperBell – Available March 27 Dogurai DreamGallery Duck Souls+ – Available March 27 Gigantosaurus The Game – Available March 27 Grand Guilds Indie Darling Bundle Vol 2 JigSaw Abundance Mekorama Miles & Kilo NecroWorm One Step From Eden Operencia: The Stolen Sun – Available March 31 Repressed – Available March 27 Sin Slayers: Enhanced Edition Slot Stones of the Revenant – Available March 31 The Complex – Available March 31 Totally Reliable Delivery Service – Available April 1 Trailer Trashers Wanba Warriors Wenjia What the Box? – Available March 30 Wurroom – Available April 1 Zombie Army Trilogy – Available March 31
  6. Who says work has to be the same ol' same ol' boring stuff every day? It helps to put a little pep and verve into the process, and for Felix the Reaper that means dancing and shimmying his way through the mortal realm, sowing death one person at a time. Part black comedy, part puzzle game, and part love story, Felix the Reaper is a curious collection of seemingly incongruous elements. If every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly it might have been a sleeper hit for the Switch, but the final product actually leaves much to be desired. Felix is a hard-working reaper with the Ministry of Death who is completely smitten by Betty the Maiden from the Ministry of Life. In the hopes of meeting her while on the job, Felix takes on field work to manipulate the mortal world and reap souls, all the while pining for his lady love. The game is unabashedly silly, and putting the grim reaper into a star-crossed lovers story is as odd and entertaining as you might expect. Felix the Reaper also doesn't shy away from dark humor—oftentimes your goal in each level is to manipulate events into an absurd Rube Goldberg machine of death. What's particularly impressive about the writing though is the amount of research that went into exploring the figure of Death in Western culture and art. On the main menu you can read some lengthy articles on the subject, and although it would have been better to frame this research into something a bit more easily digestible (especially for a video game), they're still interesting reads and a neat inclusion. Each puzzle involves navigating a grid-based map while keeping to the shadows (reapers, it seems, can't handle daylight). By moving barrels, crates, and other objects around, you're able to create a path for Felix to move about the map and place the correct object on the indicated square. You may need to move a deer into the path of a hunter's spear for example, or move a barrel of ale close to the same hunter to ensure he isn't too careful about what happens next. You're also able to adjust the position of the sun, so you need to consider where the shadows currently are and will be when the sun is moved in order to create paths. It's an engaging puzzle system that requires a lot of forethought as you plan out each move, and seeing a plan fall into place can be awfully satisfying. That said, not all of the puzzles in Felix the Reaper feel particularly inspired. The core gameplay formula doesn't change much over the short length of the game, which is a little disappointing. The difficulty of each puzzle can vary pretty significantly too. Sometimes there are so few options at your disposal that it's not difficult at all to figure out what to do, and other times there are so many possibilities (but only one correct path) that you can feel totally lost. Thankfully there's a built-in hint system in the game so if you do need a nudge in the right direction you can easily see what steps to take next. One feature that does feel like it's missing though is a quick "rewind" button to undo your most recent actions—at the very least it would save a lot of time when you realize your current plan is leading nowhere. In fact, the controls in general could use a bit of an overhaul. Clearly the game's controls are built for a PC's mouse and keyboard because instead of moving Felix directly you just aim a cursor and click on which square to send him. With a controller this can feel a bit clumsy, and it's only made more difficult by the somewhat slippery camera rotation system that doesn't quite let you pan the camera over the entire stage but instead just rotate around it. When you first start up the game you'll likely be quite thrown by these controls, and it takes several levels to get used to them. Even by the end of the game I'd occasionally find myself annoyed by the tiny white dot of a cursor or the rotation that doesn't quite let me see the angle I want. The awkward controls are only emphasized by the game's focus on speed. You can take however long you need to finish a puzzle, but to earn all three bonus skulls you'll need to finish as quickly as possible with as few actions as possible. It's nice to have something to stretch out the game's length a bit, but really all you're doing is memorizing the correct actions after one or two trial runs and then executing them as quickly as possible—not the most interesting use of your time in a puzzle game. There are also harder versions of each level which can add a lot of play time to Felix the Reaper since these levels can be incredibly tricky (and you don't even get any hints). They can be so difficult, in fact, that they'll probably only appeal to the most dedicated players, but the challenge is there if you want it. And on a more technical note, the game has a real problem with load times. Sure loading screens are simply a reality of modern gaming but they're a bit of a drag here, especially if you finish a puzzle in just a minute or two and then sit through twenty seconds of loading. If there's one thing you can say about Felix the Reaper, it's that it has character. Felix himself is an oddly lovable representation of death, trading a dark cloak and scythe for a tie and a pair of headphones, all on a rather adorably pudgy body. A body that, surprisingly, is capable of stylish dance moves as Felix flits from shadow to shadow. The humans you're reaping are similarly unusual and yet charming—their simple, somewhat grotesque faces can be surprisingly emotive. The soundtrack though, is a bit of a mixed bag. Considering dancing is a major aspect of Felix's character, it's surprising that a lot of the music leans toward light, atmospheric sounds rather than, say, a dance club vibe. It might be suited to solving puzzles but it doesn't seem to fit with Felix himself. However, the soundtrack is actually composed by several musicians and you're able to change songs at any time, so once you find one you like you can stick with it the whole game. Felix the Reaper promises a great deal with its quirky sense of style and humor, but ultimately the pieces don't quite come together for this macabre rom com. The puzzles are clever and certainly challenging at times, but they never quite manage to evolve into more complex or engaging formats. The controls leave a lot to be desired, which can easily wear on your patience during more difficult puzzles, and even the charm of the presentation and dark humor of the writing fail to liven up the atmosphere. In the end it's hard to love Felix's quest for romance. Rating: 6 out of 10 Deaths
  7. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing: New Horizons– Escape to a deserted island and create your own paradise as you explore, create and customize in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Your island getaway has a wealth of natural resources that can be used to craft everything from tools to creature comforts. You can hunt down insects at the crack of dawn, decorate your paradise throughout the day or enjoy sunset on the beach while fishing in the ocean. The time of day and season match real life, so each day on your island is a chance to check in and find new surprises all year round. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons game will be available on March 20. Exit the Gungeon – Exit the Gungeon is a bullet-hell dungeon climber immediately following the events of Enter the Gungeon. Armed with an ever-changing weapon, an insatiable need to loot and the trusty dodge roll, each of our heroes must ascend and escape via their own unique route of increasingly perilous elevators. Sky Racket – Flying over whimsical worlds filled with vivid colors, it’s just you, a stylish scarf, a laser tennis racket and a horde of fluffy enemies trying to blow you back to the ground. Mixing the classic genres of shoot-’em-ups and block breakers, Sky Racket is the world’s first “Shmup Breaker!” DOOM 64 – Celebrate DOOM’s 25th anniversary with DOOM 64, originally released on the Nintendo 64 system in 1997. Take the fight to Hell with DOOM 64 on the Nintendo Switch system, available on March 20. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: Arcade Archives FORMATION Z Beyond Enemy Lines: Essentials Breakfast Bar Tycoon – Available March 20 Bug Academy – Available March 23 Colorgrid – Available March 24 Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition – Available March 24 Dezatopia Diabolic – Available March 20 Epic Word Search Collection Factotum 90 Frosty Jump Ghost Sweeper Hyperspace Delivery Service – Available March 24 Indie Puzzle Bundle Vol 1 Ittle Dew 2+ Lust for Darkness: Dawn Edition – Available March 20 Mist Hunter – Available March 20 Nerdook Bundle Vol. 1 Pocket Mini Golf – Available March 20 Pooplers – Available March 20 Quell Memento – Available March 20 Red Death Rhythm of the Gods – Available March 23 SeaBed Silent World Tennis Open 2020 The Secret Order: Shadow Breach Thunder Paw – Available March 20 Travel Mosaics 2: Roman Holiday Ultimate Ski Jumping 2020 Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York – Available March 24
  8. At this point it feels like it'd be faster to count the number of Wii U games that haven't been ported to the Switch, though to be fair, few deserve a second chance in the spotlight as much as Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. This Encore performance adds a few new features—as well as including the DLC released for the original game—but just giving Switch owners a chance to experience the engaging RPG mechanics of the game is treat enough. TMS♯FE takes place in modern day Tokyo and the story revolves around the idol industry of teenagers becoming pop star singers and actors. However, the city is also beset by phantom creatures called Mirages who are attacking people to steal their performance energy. Our heroes, a scrappy group of mostly novice idols, teams up with friendly Mirages to fight back. It's probably not surprising that TMS♯FE leans heavily on anime tropes and such—each character almost feels like a walking cliché, which can make the game's story beats a little tedious. The main protagonist, Itsuki, is particularly disappointing since he's really just a blank slate character to facilitate other characters' development. Still, the characters can be charming at times as well, and if you just let yourself go along for the ride on a light-hearted, campy, save-the-world story, the writing's lack of substance won't matter much. Besides, TMS♯FE makes up for any storytelling faults with a wonderfully engaging battle system and inventive dungeon designs. Scattered throughout Tokyo you'll enter Idolaspheres (dungeons, essentially) in order to battle Mirages, and these Idolaspheres feature some clever and unusual designs. Exploring them is a lot more engaging that simply walking to the exit and battling creatures along the way. The battle system, however, is arguably the star of the show in TMS♯FE. The key feature here is activating Sessions by targeting an enemy's weakpoint with a combat skill, either an elemental weakness or weapon weakness. Each character has a limited selection of skills (Itsuki, for example, uses swords and lightning magic), so you'll need to select your party carefully to effectively deal with the Mirages in the current Idolasphere—don't worry though, you can also swap characters from your reserves to your active party mid-battle if you need to switch things up. Hitting an enemy with a skill they're vulnerable to activates a Session, where every available party member jumps in with their own attack, creating a satisfying chain of damage that can also leap to other enemies in battle as well. Eventually you'll also get the chance to further augment Sessions with special skills called ad-libs and duo attacks, which can lead to some satisfying damage combos. On one hand these massive Session chains can make normal battles a little too easy, but they're still awfully satisfying to pull off. Plus there are always boss fights for the truly challenging moments, and when enemies aren't killed by a single session you'll realize there's more to the battle system and it requires a typical RPG's strategy and planning to survive (and a little luck). Boss fights can be pretty challenging in fact, but thankfully you can save at any time in the game (outside of battle) so as long as you remember to save frequently, a defeat won't result in much lost progress. The other major aspect of TMS♯FE's gameplay revolves around learning skills, which comes from crafting new weapons and using them in battle. Weapons can be crafted from items dropped from Mirages, so it's a nicely cyclical system—fight some Mirages, gather resources, craft new weapons, repeat. The crafting system is rather tedious in TMS♯FE though because you have to leave the Idolasphere and return to your base of operations to craft, and you'll probably want to do this several times in just a single dungeon, so there's a lot of running back and forth that easily could have been streamlined. Speaking of streamlining though, the Encore edition of the game does speed up one aspect of the game. You're now able to speed through Sessions, which is a huge time saver. As mentioned you're going to be triggering Sessions in every battle, multiple times, and by the end of the game Sessions can get ridiculously long. As nice as the animations are, being able to speed through them is a welcome change. Beyond that though, the other new features for the Encore edition are kind of underwhelming. Some of the side characters are able to jump into battle during a Session, and the interface for the game's message system has changed (since you don't have the Wii U Gamepad in hand anymore), but the main new feature is the EX Story, a short dungeon focused on two of the characters. It's great to have a new area to explore but it's ultimately a simple, brief side story that doesn't add too much either story- or gameplay-wise. It's probably not enough to convince you to play through the entire game again if you're on the fence, but fans of the game might enjoy having a bit extra to do. Not that the game's length really needs extending anyway—this is a full-length RPG, so you can expect at least 40 hours or so to finish the game. There are also several side quests with each of the game's main characters, and even though these are technically optional you really shouldn't skip them as they'll give you valuable bonuses and combat abilities. There are still some optional side missions to tackle though, and if you can't get enough of TMS♯FE you can try out New Game+ to keep the performance going even longer. Focused as it is on the Japanese idol industry, the look and sound of TMS♯FE is distinctly poppy: bright, flashy, and arguably overdone at times, but there's still a certain appeal to it all. Each character has multiple costumes you can use (including some from the game's original DLC as well as new ones for this Encore edition) so you can always experiment to find the look you like. Music is, naturally, a big part of a game focused on pop music idols, and there are some catching songs (including entire music videos) but again your enjoyment will largely hinge on your interest in the Japanese idol industry. The game is also fully voiced but only in Japanese which is, to be fair, appropriate for the game's style and setting. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore isn't much of an overhaul or upgrade from the original Wii U title, but for anyone that missed its first performance this is a great opportunity to find new fans with a second showing. The core RPG elements remain wonderfully satisfying when you pull off long Session chains, and crafting weapons to unlock new skills is completely addictive, even if the crafting process is slower than it ought to be. Switch owners should be pleased to find yet another solid RPG port on Nintendo's hybrid system. Rating: 8 out of 10 Sessions
  9. Back when the original Crash Bandicoot game released in 1996 for the PlayStation, it was at a unique nexus point. The 90s were rife with platformers, but with the PlayStation/Nintendo 64 generation came the advent of 3D visuals and gameplay, and games like Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot represented the bridge between one of the classic gameplay genres and a new dimension of gaming. But while Super Mario 64 set the standard for a lot of 3D platforming mechanics and remains a pretty solid entry in the Mario series, time hasn't been quite so kind to the early Crash Bandicoot games. Although an iconic gaming mascot of the late 90s, Crash feels incredibly dated in 2018, even in the remastered Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Let's start with the first game which introduces us to Crash, a bandicoot that has been mutated by the evil Dr. Neo Cortex using his Evolvo-Ray. Although Cortex wanted to make Crash into a powerful animal soldier, Crash escapes the lab, only to start a quest across the Wumpa islands to rescue the other animal captives. Despite its sleek polygonal looks the original Crash Bandicoot was more of a combination of 2D platformer gameplay with 3D visuals. Some levels are viewed from the side like classic 2D platformers but many have Crash running into the foreground or background. Amidst all this there are boss fights and collectibles—all the basic building blocks of an adventure/platformer. Now I'll say here that I never played these games when they were first released, and while I'm sure this sort of gameplay twist was impressive at the time it is kind of a mess now. In fact, the original Crash Bandicoot feels like a crash course in bad 3D game design. You have very little depth perception in these fore-/background running levels, with only Crash's shadow to tell you where you'll land during a jump. And there are some insanely difficult jumps in some of these levels. Crash's movements are also incredibly stiff since, when the game was first released, the PlayStation didn't have analog sticks, so players used a D-pad to control Crash in these semi-3D levels, and Crash's movements remain awkward. And finally, your main attack is spinning into enemies, which requires getting up close and personal with enemies who can kill you just by touching you. All of this makes the original Crash Bandicoot obnoxiously difficult. Stiff controls with an awkward camera angle and unforgiving level design means it's easy to die pretty much constantly. Although there are some clever level designs it's hard to get past how frustratingly clunky and outdated the game feels today. To be fair, some of the clumsy gameplay might be due to this remastering which required rebuilding the gameplay from scratch, so some elements might not have translated well, but anyone that is first playing Crash Bandicoot in 2018 is most likely going to feel like this game is simply a relic that doesn't quite belong on a modern game system. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a marked improvement over the original game. Once again Crash is combating Dr. Cortex (though Cortex pretends to be asking Crash for help to collect powerful crystals) which leads Crash to a wide variety of different levels. There's much better stage variety in Crash 2, though Naughty Dog still loves the format of running into the foreground while something huge chases Crash. Still, Crash's movements are much smoother so it doesn't feel like you're fighting the controls throughout the whole game, and he also has a new attack: sliding. While playing these games back to back it's clear how much of an improvement it is to add even one new mechanic to Crash's repertoire. On the other hand Crash 2 also introduces some jetpack levels which, much like the entire first game, feel like an experiment in 3D game design that comes across as awkward and stiff today. But overall Crash 2 offers a more satisfying and diverse platformer adventure compared to the first game. The third game, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, is when Crash really hits his stride. The basic gameplay premise is the same as the first two (linear platformer levels that often have Crash running into the foreground or background) but the gameplay feels much more polished and, frankly, easier. But the lower difficulty is in part due to improvements to the game's mechanics. Crash moves more fluidly so it's easier to dodge obstacles. The level design is more varied and engaging, including race levels and flying levels. Over the course of the game Crash gains several new abilities, not all of which are always useful (and one of which, the gun, actually makes the game much, much easier) but the variety makes the gameplay feel more exciting from start to finish. There are fewer challenges that require super precise jumps and a lot more enemies that just stand around as obstacles rather than actively attack you, but even if the difficulty is toned down the gameplay is much more enjoyable. Each game contains around 25 levels, but to complete the games fully there's actually a lot of bonus material to cover. In each level of each game there are a number of crates you can break and, if you break all of the crates in a level, you'll be rewarded with a gem. You can also earn a gem from completing alternate paths within levels, which are unlocked by collecting gems in previous levels. In short, there's more replay value here than just blazing through each level once, and collecting every gem unlocks the true ending in each game—a fine reward for completionists. Gathering gems can be pretty tedious, especially in the first game, but it does give you more of a goal than just completing each game once. And finally there is a time trial mode to further pad out the games. There may only be a little over two dozen levels in each game but if you try to do everything you'll have plenty of Crash action here. Naturally this remastered trilogy comes with updated graphics and music, including cutscenes with voice actors from the more recent Crash games. Some of the level design still looks quite dated, which is more a product of the linear structure of each level, but overall the graphics look great on the Switch. The unique style of the Crash games is perfectly preserved while updating the artwork to something that feels more at home on a modern system. The updated music is well done as well, and has the right blend of atmospheric melodies and upbeat action. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a bit of a mixed bag. With the remaster of the first game, this trilogy proves that some games are better off left in the past, when repetitive level design and clunky controls might have been less noticeable thanks to the purely new appeal of 3D platformers. The other two games, however, are far less dated, and even if some of their mechanics still feel notably old-fashioned they're still enjoyable platformers today, particularly Warped. Nostalgic fans may love all three equally but new players might only enjoy the third game, making even the budget price on this trilogy a bit of a stretch. Rating: 7 out of 10 Wumpa Fruits
  10. There was a twelve year gap until we saw a sequel to the offbeat GameCube launch title that put Luigi in the hero's seat instead of his brother, and now it's only taken six years to get a third installment. Hopefully that means another entry will be released even faster, because Luigi's Mansion 3 is another charming adventure of ghost-bustin' and puzzle-solvin' with our favorite green-clad plumber. A few new features put a fresh spin on Luigi's frightful expedition, though some minor issues have a way of draining some of the life out of the adventure. As the game begins, Luigi and friends are traveling to an opulent hotel where they've been invited to stay as VIP guests. You'd think Luigi would be a little suspicious of this kind of invitation at this point, but no, he's happy to make the bus ride (with an arguably dangerously short Toad at the wheel). It's not long after they've checked into their rooms that the facade fades and the ghosts of The Last Resort make their nefarious intentions clear, trapping Mario, Peach, and three Toads inside paintings with only Luigi able to save them. The game really doesn't try to do anything fresh or surprising with its premise, but ultimately that's okay because there's still a ton of charm and personality to enjoy here. It's not a cutscene heavy game but just seeing the ghosts living their best afterlives in one silly room after another is pretty delightful. And it's the kind of spooky setting that is mostly just cute and fun rather than bone-chilling, which feels perfect for Luigi's scaredy-cat adventure. It doesn't take long for Luigi to equip himself with a new model of Poltergust (by the way, Professor E Gadd has been caught in this ghoulish trap as well), and from there the gameplay is classic Luigi's Mansion. The Poltergust allows Luigi to suck up ghosts—after stunning them with his flashlight—and clear a path for himself to explore every floor of the hotel. For better and for worse, the combat system is largely unchanged from past games as catching ghosts is once again a bit of an unwieldy rodeo match as you try to hold on to a ghost without it breaking free. The controls make this a little slippery but it's never too difficult to wrangle a wraith. However, Luigi's Mansion 3 introduces an invaluable new move: the slam. Once Luigi has a hold on a ghost he can slam it into the ground for a nice burst of damage, even damaging nearby ghosts as well. Slamming can deal so much damage that it almost seems to make the game too easy, but on the other hand, ghost-catching can be so tedious that having a quick way of draining ghosts' health is more than welcome. In fact, even with the powerful slam at your disposal, combat can feel mindless at times. There are only a handful of different types of ghosts—though there are also unique challenges when ghosts are carrying shields or avoiding your flashlight—and ultimately catching ghosts is kind of a drag. By the end of the game it just feels like busywork rather than an engaging challenge. The boss fights, however, deliver some fantastic battles that are oftentimes just as much about puzzle-solving as they are about dodging attacks and getting your own hits in. There is a wonderful amount of variety in the bosses—including in their designs—and they almost always deliver a fun and even occasionally challenging match. Though there is one boss roughly halfway through the game that is a huge pain, and that comes mostly down to the game's tricky, somewhat imprecise controls. This fight in particular could have benefited from more precise Poltergust movement to make it less of an awkward chore. The other half of the gameplay comes down to puzzle-solving and exploration. Exploring the hotel is naturally broken up by whichever floor you're on, and each floor features a unique theme (including, somehow, a pyramid in the middle of this hotel? Granted, not the strangest concept in a Nintendo game). Creeping through ominous rooms and sucking up all of the valuables you can find is pretty consistently satisfying, though there are undeniably some sections of the game that feel like padding, e.g. retreading old rooms or just long, drawn out floor plans. Some floors also feel somewhat shortchanged while others drag on—the pacing easily could have been tightened up in parts. Luigi's Mansion 3 also introduces a couple of important mechanics to help you explore. The Suction Cup allows you to shoot out a plunger to help you pull down or destroy objects in the scenery; it's a useful tool that creates some simple but satisfying puzzle scenarios and serves as a good reminder to examine your surroundings carefully. The other major addition to Luigi's adventure is another Luigi entirely—or rather, a Gooigi. Gooigi can be brought in for some co-op gameplay but he's also required to solve a variety of puzzles, such as slipping through bars or grating that Luigi can't squeeze through. You can only control one character a time, but by swapping between the two you'll be able to overcome some unique obstacles. Gooigi seems like a rather silly addition at first—just making another Luigi feels suspiciously low-effort, developers—but his puzzle-solving and occasional combat uses will win you over. Luigi's Mansion 3 isn't a particularly long game, even with the blatant padding in some areas, and racing through the game without focusing on collecting optional gems or hunting down errant Boos will only last about ten hours. Overall it feels like a good length though, and the optional content for completionists helps give the game a bit more meat. Additionally, there are two multiplayer modes: the competitive ScreamPark mini-games and the co-operative ScareScraper that can also be played online. Neither of these side modes are likely to keep you too busy, but teaming up with friends in ScareScraper with objectives like rescuing all Toads can be a nice change of pace from the main game. The first thing that might stand out about the presentation in Luigi's Mansion 3 is the classic, cartoony style of all Mario games, but when you pay attention to the details you'll see that the game is truly gorgeous. There's a lot of technical polish here to make the shadows and lighting effects feel natural and believable, and the animation throughout the game is lovely. It's a shame that there isn't more variety in the basic ghosts you normally fight but there's no denying that their animation is beautifully expressive and charmingly goofy. The soundtrack is solid as well, though the stand out songs are a bit far between, mostly because the typical background audio is subdued and spooky. Luigi's Mansion 3 is a worthy continuation of Luigi's ghost-fighting adventures. It has the right mix of familiar mechanics and fresh features to keep the charm of the previous games while adding some welcome new abilities. Some unfortunate padding and the natural division of exploring one floor after another drags down the pacing of the game a bit, but players will no doubt still love helping Luigi face his fears and rescue Mario for a change. Rating: 8 out of 10 Ghosts
  11. The 2D platformer genre is such a mainstay of the video game world that seeing one as poorly done as Ghost Parade is honestly kind of shocking. The game's intriguing art style and promise of dozens of unique specters initially drew my attention, but it didn't take long for the game's appealing facade to crumble into a series of misguided or outright sloppy design choices. You play as Suri, a young girl who, after she misses the bus home, decides to try a shortcut through the forest, where she finds not just woodland creatures but entire villages of ghosts, ghouls, and apparitions. The ghosts are drawn from Indonesian mythology and folklore which makes for a pretty great source of spooky stories—the main story doesn't get too deep into the dark origins of its spectral characters but you can find a bit more information in the game's journal. Once Suri is over her initial shock of meeting actual ghosts, she learns that they have been trying to scare away humans in order to preserve their home against deforestation and reckless human destruction. The environmentalism plotline is certainly admirable, but it's told with all the subtlety of an after-school special. The writing could definitely have benefited from a few revisions to make it less boring and mechanical. Boring and mechanical is an apt description of the gameplay either. Ghost Parade is a 2D action/platformer with some light Metroidvania elements. Suri can attack with a fairly basic melee strike and call upon her ghost allies for unique abilities, and of course there's plenty of jumping over obstacles, climbing up vines, and some backtracking involved as well. Unfortunately, Ghost Parade struggles to make even the most basic controls feel comfortable or enjoyable. Suri's movements are incredibly floaty which can make some of the platforming elements horrendous. Even with a double jump to help correct your movements it is shockingly awkward to just jump on a platform, much less jump on one while avoiding fireballs and enemy attacks. Thankfully there are frequent checkpoints but that's just a bandage over a wound—actually fixing the game would require overhauling the core movements and animation. That loose, floaty feeling bleeds over into the combat as well, making it all to easy to miss an attack or fail to avoid an enemy's. You can also easily get stunlocked by enemies which is always a pain to see—getting repeatedly juggled by fireballs because there are no invincibility frames and you can't break away with a dodge is beyond frustrating. Even when you're not pulling your hair out over enemies' juggling attacks, the combat in Ghost Parade just isn't fun. Suri's melee attacks are boringly simple while the ghost abilities add only a modest amount of variety. Bosses in particular are terribly tedious thanks to your limited attacks and the few opportunities bosses are even open to attacks. Some of the ghosts in this game must have died from boredom while trying to overcome the Sisyphean task of whittling away at these bosses. Ghost Parade is also plagued with minor design annoyances or other issues. Top of the list is the excessive load time—loading screens are not only long but frequent. Each region of the game is divided up into smaller screens which requires a loading screen, and every time you die (which will likely be quite a lot) you'll have to endure more loading. A not insignificant part of my playtime with Ghost Parade must have been devoted to staring at loading screens. Navigating the game's menus is also needlessly time-consuming, particularly opening the map which you'll probably be doing frequently since there's no mini-map in the game and you'll need to backtrack a few times to progress. For some reason the ghost menu, which allows you to change the ghosts in your current party, is not part of the main menu but is activated by pressing up on the D-pad—I know this sounds like a nitpicky complaint but it kind of exemplifies the odd design choices that make Ghost Parade feel unpolished and untested. The visuals are definitely a highlight of the game—at least at first. The strikingly colorful and unique designs of the ghosts are really beautiful and will certainly draw you in when you first start playing. But soon enough the repetitive environments and enemy designs, along with clumsy animation and an inconsistent frame rate, wears away the shine from Ghost Parade. You may end up cursing the ghosts' elaborate designs as well since they float around Suri and can be rather distracting when you're platforming. The soundtrack has a decently moody/atmospheric vibe for a mostly kid-friendly ghost story, but there's really not much notable about it either. Ghost Parade only takes seven or eight hours to finish but you'll feel every single minute of that playtime. If, for some reason, you do want to spend more time with the game, there are a few side quests and a few dozen ghosts that you can recruit, though experimenting with different ghosts in battle ultimately felt unrewarding thanks to the shallow combat mechanics. Ghost Parade feels like an earnest first draft that never should have been pushed to full release. The unique ghost designs drawn from Indonesian folklore is a great hook for a 2D adventure, but the game fails to deliver on even the most basic platforming mechanics which makes spending any amount of time with the game feel like a chore. Even fans of niche Switch titles will find little redeeming about this one. Rating: 3 out of 10 Ghosts
  12. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch LA-MULANA – Your destiny awaits in La-Mulana! Take control of archaeologist Lemeza Kosugi and navigate through puzzles, traps and deadly Guardians in order to claim the Secret Treasure of Life. You’ll need sharp wits, quick reflexes and, most importantly, all the courage you can muster. Will you succeed in unraveling the secrets of La-Mulana, or will you fall victim to the dangers that surround you? La-Mulana will be available on March 17. LA-MULANA 2 – Renowned archaeologist Lemeza Kosugi has gone missing, and only his daughter Lumisa can find him! Enter Eg-Lana, an upside-down version of the legendary ruins of La-Mulana. Think fast, act fast and whip hard in order to overcome dangerous traps and elaborate puzzles in your quest to uncover unfathomable secrets. What will you find at the end of your journey: triumph, or defeat? La-Mulana 2 will be available on March 17. Nintendo Mobile Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Island Excursion Invite Event – Fans can prepare for the release of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game for the Nintendo Switch system with the newly added Island Excursion Invite event in the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp game* for smartphone devices. From now until April 1 at 10:59 p.m. PT, players can get an early taste of that relaxing island lifestyle with special in-game events themed after Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Participate in Nook Inc.’s Fishing Tourney to earn in-game rewards for your campsite, catch some crawly critters featured in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and craft stylish island-themed wall and flooring décor, among many fun themed activities. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: A Street Cat’s Tale Alder’s Blood – Available March 13 Arcade Archives KIKI KAIKAI Brotherhood United DEAD OR SCHOOL – Available March 13 Deep Diving Adventures – Available March 16 Explosive Jake – Available March 18 Half Past Fate Hidden in Plain Sight Hidden Through Time inbento Jump, Step, Step – Available March 13 Knight Swap – Available March 17 MY HERO ONE’S JUSTICE 2 – Available March 13 Mystic Vale Neon City Riders NinNinDays OVERPASS – Available March 17 Poly Puzzle R.B.I. Baseball 20 – Available March 17 Rack N Ruin – Available March 13 Rainbows, toilets & unicorns – Available March 13 Roundguard – Available March 13 Stela – Available March 13 Super Bit Blaster XL – Available March 16 Super Destronaut: Land Wars – Available March 13 Syder Reloaded – Available March 13 Talisman: Digital Edition This Strange Realm Of Mine – Available March 16 Top Speed: Drag & Fast Racing – Available March 18 Trancelation – Available March 13 Video Poker @ Aces Casino YOGA MASTER – Available March 13 Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Wii U: CRYSTORLD
  13. What are your thoughts and feelings on Luigi's Mansion 3? I can't wait to play once I am off work. I enjoyed Dark Moon, but the first game was probably the fastest returned game ever.
  14. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX – What if you woke up one day and you were a Pokémon? You can meet and recruit over 400 Pokémon in a dungeon-crawling adventure within their world! Build a rescue team to take on mysterious, changing dungeons and strategically plan your moves as you venture forth to make the Pokémon world a safer place … and uncover your true purpose along the way. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX game will be available on March 6. Murder by Numbers – Honor Mizrahi was just an actress on a hit TV detective show. But when her boss ends up dead just minutes after he fires her, she finds herself starring in her own murder mystery. Teaming up with SCOUT, a reconnaissance robot thrown away after a mysterious incident, she sets out to clear her name – and a new detective duo is born. Solve Pixel Puzzles to find clues, then use the clues to interrogate witnesses. Work your way to the truth and uncover the mystery of Murder by Numbers! DLC: Conjure up More Multiplayer* Scares in Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Watch out, Luigi! A ghastly wave of new ghosts and content has arrived. The Luigi’s Mansion 3 Multiplayer Pack – Part 1 is now available, and this paid DLC** adds three new costumes that Luigi can don in the ScareScraper mode. It also adds matching themes in the ScareScraper mode that transform the appearance of the tower’s floors, as well as themed ghosts. Take a stroll over to the multiplayer ScreamPark mode too, where three new madcap mini-games await. The Luigi’s Mansion 3 Multiplayer Pack DLC includes both Part 1 and Part 2, and can be purchased together for $9.99 in Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo Switch system. Part 2 will launch by the end of July. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: Afterparty – Available March 6 Amoeba Battle – Microscopic RTS Action Arcade Archives P.O.W. -PRISONERS OF WAR- Bleed Complete Bundle Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut – Available March 6 Darts Dude, Stop Flight Sim 2019 ibb & obb Kairobotica Langrisser I & II – Available March 10 Lost Horizon Save Koch – Available March 6 Swordbreaker The Game – Available March 6 Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet Troubleshooter – Available March 6 Unlock The King Welcome to Primrose Lake – Available March 7 Wunderling
  15. After a brief and frankly ill-fated foray into the world of 3D platforming in Trine 3, the franchise is back to its 2.5D roots with Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince. The game once again reunites our three heroes for a beautifully designed and cleverly crafted bit of puzzle-platforming, alongside a few welcome minor improvements to the formula, resulting in yet another must-play side-scrolling adventure on the Switch. The game begins with a brief introduction to each character and their unique abilities as they've been summoned by the Astral Academy for help. Prince Selius has wreaked havoc at the academy thanks to his unchecked magical ability to bring nightmares to life, so now Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief are tasked with working together to find the prince before his shadow creations destroy the world. The story itself is rather simple, though not without its charms. The best part of the writing though is in the little moments of banter among the three heroes. It's nothing too elaborate but it's just fun to see these characters interact, especially given their wildly different personalities. Like the first two Trine games, Trine 4 is a 2.5D puzzle-platformer: your journey to the end of each stage is impeded by all manner of puzzles that require one or more of our heroes' abilities to progress. Each character has unique attributes that can be used to solve puzzles, hit switches, or cross gaps. Amadeus is able to conjure boxes to stand on or weigh down switches, Zoya has a bow and arrow as well as a grappling hook, and Pontius's sword and shield are ideal for breaking things or blocking hazards. The core interaction and combination of these three characters is largely unchanged from the original game, and with good reason: combining these three characters/playstyles provides for a seemingly endless offering of clever, engaging puzzles. The variety of approaches is really what gives the Trine series its addictive depth. To cross a gap you might just swing across with Zoya's grappling hook, or you might need to carefully place a box to give yourself just the right leg up to reach the ledge (Pontius is by far the least mobile character but he still has his moments to shine as well). It really is a blast to be able to put each character's abilities to use in unique and novel ways, and to discover those methods on your own. And Trine 4 continues to come up with clever puzzles and obstacles to challenge your puzzle-solving skills, because the solution to crossing a gap is rarely as simple as "swing over it on a grappling hook." The developers have done a fantastic job of coming up with new and exciting challenges for this game, largely drawn from the variety of additional skills each hero gradually unlocks over the course of the game. Zoya, for example, can imbue her arrows with fire or ice to trigger a heat-activated switch or freeze a moving platform in place, while Pontius gains the ability to gently glide down with his shield (I told you he gets his moments). Trine 4 never lets you rest on your successes because there'll always be a new, unique puzzle just up ahead that challenges you to think outside of the box and put each of the three characters' abilities to their full use, oftentimes in unexpected physics-based solutions. It's incredibly satisfying to cross one hurdle after another and ensures you're never bored or complacent while playing. Additionally, multiplayer has always been a key part of the Trine series, and Trine 4 introduces some welcome changes in that regard. For one thing, you can play in either classic mode or unlimited mode. In classic, three players take control of one character each, bu in unlimited, each player is able to freely swap among the three heroes (though technically there is still only one Amadeus, one Zoya, and one Pontius—the others are generic, nameless characters with the same abilities). It's a really nice quality of life change to allow all players to experience everything each character has to offer, plus it allows for even crazier puzzle-solving scenarios when you have three wizards all conjuring boxes. You might think that this would trivialize the difficulty, but the developers are one step ahead of you: the puzzles actually change whether you're playing solo or in multiplayer. Puzzles become more complicated and require teamwork when there are more players, which is a great way of ensuring all players have to work together (not to mention adding some nice replay value). Trine 4 also features both local and online co-op, though the best experience is arguably local co-op—it just feels more natural to work through puzzles with a friend sitting beside you rather than online. Either way though, the dynamic puzzle design makes replaying the game with others worthwhile. The one area where Trine 4 doesn't quite shine is in combat. Occasionally you'll need to fend off the nightmare beasts running loose in the world and these battle screens can get pretty repetitive pretty quickly. It certainly doesn't help that combat feels almost exclusively like a Pontius job. It's satisfying to shoot arrows as Zoya but the slow draw speed means its a bit impractical during hectic fights, and although Amadeus can technically drop boxes on monsters' heads it's an even slower and less practical combat solution. So oftentimes you'll just use Pontius, which makes combat a bit dull. It would have been great to see the same creativity that went into the puzzle design put toward combat as well. Trine's visual aesthetic hasn't changed much over the years, and it remains absolutely gorgeous. The ten years of difference between the first and fourth games means there's far more detail and technical polish in Trine 4, but the style is just as captivating with a beautiful use of color to make every map feel magical and ethereal. There's so much detail in the scenery that you won't even mind getting stumped by a puzzle when you get to have a moment to just drink in the graphics. The music also does a great job of giving the game a magical adventure vibe, though it's frankly a bit overshadowed by the visual design. The game is a good 10–12 hours long depending on your puzzle-solving skills as well as your interest in collectibles. Each stage is packed with pink gems that can be used to upgrade each characters' abilities, plus there are three collectibles in every stage as well. Collecting everything is no simple task since you'll have to carefully scour the scenery to find hidden nooks and crannies, but putting that extra effort in is a fun way of extending your time with Trine 4. Fans of the first two Trine games should be delighted to find that developer Frozenbyte hasn't lost a step when it comes to gorgeous and clever 2.5D puzzle-platforming. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is a delightful return to form, one that carries on the spirit of the franchise while making some small but valuable adjustments to the multiplayer experience. Even if you're new to the series, Trine 4 promises top-notch side-scrolling gameplay from start to finish. Rating: 8 out of 10 Puzzles
  16. From the minds behind Slain: Back from Hell comes another heavy-metal-inspired action game, this time mixing swords and guns in a space setting—though still with plenty of blood, skulls, and brutal combat. Some unique ideas help distinguish Valfaris from similar games, but the intense difficulty may reserve this adventure only for the hardest of the hardcore. The fortress of Valfaris mysteriously disappeared from galactic charts and then just as mysteriously reappeared orbiting a dead star, prompting our protagonist, Therion, to explore the fortress and find his father. The game has such a habit of introducing characters or story concepts so casually that I worried there was some lore-filled cutscene that I had somehow missed, but the reality is the story in Valfaris is merely window dressing to the action. It's nice to have some context as to why you're shooting this latest giant monster in the face, but you don't really need to know, and the short introduction to bosses and locations adds little to the experience. Like Slain before it, Valfaris draws inspiration from classic side-scrolling action games, including their punishing sense of difficulty. With both guns and a sword you'll fight your way through hordes of monsters and bosses, and thanks to a fairly small pool of health (and no way to heal yourself outside of hoping for random health drops from enemies), any little mistake on your part will be punished harshly. Enemy attacks and hazards are completely unforgiving, and often you'll have to die and retry before you even understand what you're supposed to do to progress. Since there is no dodge or dash ability it's frustratingly easy to simply get caught repeatedly in enemy attacks, especially particularly large melee swings. The brutal sense of difficulty can be exhausting, though hardcore fans might appreciate the no-nonsense challenge. However, Valfaris does feature frequent checkpoints that alleviate some of the frustration, though there's a unique twist here. In order to activate checkpoints you'll need to use a resurrection idol, which you'll find while playing at a pretty regular rate—typically one idol per checkpoint. The catch is that the more resurrection idols you're holding, the higher your max health and energy are, so there's a bit of a risk/reward in how you use your idols. Do you want to have a handy checkpoint in case you die up ahead? Or do you want to risk going back all the way to the last checkpoint, but with a bit more health to work with? Without knowing what lies ahead—but knowing that death comes easily in Valfaris—it can be a tricky bit of strategy and calculated risks to use your idols effectively. Therion comes equipped with guns, swords, and special heavy guns (which require energy to use), but there's a unique connection between his weapons beyond merely using guns for distance and swords for melee. Killing enemies with a sword strike generates energy which can then be used to fuel heavy guns or your shield, so to make the most of your weapons you have to be able to seamlessly transition between all of them, spending and regenerating energy efficiently. It's a little tricky at first but it's certainly satisfying to find a rhythm of using your different weapons without leaving yourself open to enemy attacks. Valfaris isn't a Metroidvania—it's entirely linear, more like classic Castlevania—but there are still quite a few secrets to uncover. A hidden area might reward you with an idol or you might find a new weapon entirely, or blood metal which is required to upgrade weapons. Even with frequent deaths and retries Valfaris is not a particularly long game, maybe six or seven hours, so trying out different weapons helps add some replay value. Heavy metal is once again the key artistic inspiration for the game. The art style feels ripped straight from a metal album cover, in good and bad ways. There's no denying there's a certain appeal to the crumbling, alien scenery dripping with blood and viscera, though it can also feel a bit overdone at times with too many busy elements competing for your eye when you just need to dodge enemy attacks. The headbanging soundtrack fuels your adventure through these hellish environments, and if nothing else will get your blood pumping for another attempt against the game's fiendish challenges and bosses. Valfaris shows some marked improvements over Slain by mixing up the gameplay with a satisfying blend of weapon styles that play off of one another. The lack of a dodge ability makes the already punishing difficulty even harder to stomach, but fans of extra-difficult action games may enjoy mastering the ins and outs of Valfaris's combat system. Rating: 6 out of 10
  17. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Bloodroots – In Bloodroots, the world is your weapon – improvise and adapt to an ever-changing battle ballet, in a vicious quest across the Weird West. Betrayed and left for dead, Mr. Wolf is determined to fight back – alone and vastly outnumbered. In a world overflowing with makeshift weapons that change the way you fight and how you get around, improvise fiendish combos and compete for fame on global leaderboards. Bloodroots will be available on Feb. 28. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: Animated Jigsaws Collection Arcade Archives VS. MAH-JONG AvoCuddle – Available March 2 Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly – Available March 4 BATTLESLOTHS BE-A Walker – Available Feb. 28 Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary Broken Lines Bucket Knight – Available Feb. 28 Depixtion – Available Feb. 28 Dual Brain Vol.3: Shapes Escape First Farmer Sim 2020 Frozen Friends – Available Feb. 28 Ganbare! Super Strikers – Available Feb. 28 Grizzland – Available Feb. 28 Heaven Dust Hero must die. again I am Ball – Available March 4 KATANA KAMI: A Way of the Samurai Story Kemono Heroes Kingdom Rush Frontiers LocO-SportS – Available Feb. 28 MADORIS R Metro 2033 Redux – Available Feb. 28 Metro: Last Light Redux – Available Feb. 28 MouseCraft MX Nitro: Unleashed No Time to Relax Portal Dogs Profane – Available Feb. 28 Puzzles for Toddlers & Kids: Animals, Cars and more SEGA AGES Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Served! Ski Sniper – Available Feb. 28 Skull Rogue – Available Feb. 28 Soul Axiom Rebooted Spartan Fist – Available Feb. 28 STAB STAB STAB! – Available Feb. 28 The Adventures of 00 Dilly The Story Goes On – Available March 2 Tower Inferno Underhero Voxelgram Wanderlust Travel Stories
  18. Despite a somewhat tumultuous publishing history, the Darksiders franchise is still going strong with the latest entry, Darksiders Genesis, now available on the Switch. Taking place before the events of the previous three games, Genesis features the fourth Horseman, Strife, teaming up with War to settle some unrest stirring in Hell. Like every other Darksiders game, Genesis takes clear inspiration from other video game franchises—in this case Diablo—but still manages to create a unique, addictive, and action-packed adventure. In sharp contrast to any of the other Horsemen, Strife is something of a wise-cracking jokester—though anyone paired up with War's dour demeanor probably can't help but come off as light-hearted. The duo makes for a classic odd-couple adventure, one that never reaches the dire seriousness of the previous Darksiders games but still reflects the personality and lore of the series. It's a delicate balance to maintain but the developers have done a great job of fleshing out Strife's personality (and a bit of War's as well) while keeping the overarching universe of Darksiders just as fascinating and engaging. The actual plot of Genesis mostly just sees Strife and War sent on a series of errands as they investigate demonic plots, which can get a little tiresome and at times a bit disjointed, but overall it's still a hell of a ride. The Diablo influence isn't hard to spot: Genesis is an action game played from a top-down camera perspective, and naturally both series are filled with demons to fight. Genesis is far from derivative, though, with more emphasis on combat and exploration than looting. You play as either Strife or War, each of whom has unique skills for fighting and puzzle-solving: you'll either blast monsters apart with Strife's guns or slash into them with War's sword, neither of which ever seems to get old. The combat system isn't too complicated but still manages to be satisfyingly visceral—you really get to feel like a super-powered demon killing machine. Both Horsemen earn new abilities through the game to keep combat feeling fresh, and having that potential for different approaches (such as using different bullets in Strife's guns) adds a nice degree of customization and experimentation. Perhaps most satisfying is the burst ability which will trigger after you take down several enemies at once, boosting your power for a limited time. There may not be that many different types of enemies in the game, but it's always entertaining to plow through them with powerful abilities. The game also rather cleverly justifies the grind of fighting the same types of enemies over and over with the Creature Core system. Defeated enemies will sometimes drop a Creature Core, which you can then equip to augment Strife and War's abilities (often these are flat bonuses such as increased health or attack power, but sometimes they grant unique bonuses like leaving a trail of fire when you dodge). Collecting multiple cores of the same creature will increase their power, and then you have to find room to equip them in your Creature Core menu in order to maximize their effectiveness. It feels a tiny bit nitty-gritty-RPG-detaily for an action-heavy game like Genesis, but the end result is an engaging bit of RNG-driven character grinding that rewards you for always taking the time to defeat every demon you can and customizing your bonuses to your preference. Strife and War also gain a variety of puzzle-solving abilities throughout the course of the game, which also allow you to reach new areas and suss out more secrets in the environment. There are only a handful of these puzzle-focused items and skills but they're put to good use; you won't find too many brain-stumpers when you're just trying to reach the end of the level, but if you want to be a completionist and collect all of the items and upgrades hidden in each level you'll need to be thorough and thoughtful to reach them all. The light puzzle-solving/platforming aspect of Genesis helps break up the gameplay and prevent the demon slaughter from feeling too exhausting. It's also worth noting that it's just great to see another solid co-op focused game. Whether you're playing locally or online, bringing a friend along can add a nice element of camaraderie that reflects Strife and War's unlikely bond. Of course the game can also be played solo and there's nothing lost by doing so—you can swap between the two Horsemen at any time to try a new combat approach or solve a puzzle—but the emphasis on co-op is great to see. Genesis does suffer from a few technical problems though, which are generally only exacerbated in co-op (and especially online co-op). For one thing, the load times are a bit too long. The environments in each level can be fairly big, granted, but the loading times still weigh on the game, especially if you ever have to go in and out of a building repeatedly. Secondly, the frame rate and resolution really aren't doing justice to the art style of the game. Semi-frequent FPS drops can be a real bummer to see, and they're only more common when there's a lot happening on screen—e.g., you're really letting loose on a whole horde of demons. Finally there are some unfortunate buggy moments in the game, ranging from getting stuck in a wall and having to reload the last checkpoint (which are thankfully pretty frequent at least) to, oddly, dialogue being repeated or seemingly shown out of order. Many of these problems could be touched up in future patches, but they're still obnoxious to see now. Although the format has changed a bit the aesthetic of Genesis is still undeniably Darksiders, meaning lots of intricate demon designs that are, in a word, badass. Unfortunately this game doesn't have as many opportunities to truly show off the stylized artwork—especially if the frame rate is dipping or the resolution starts looking a little muddy—so although the game still looks good it certainly doesn't have the same "wow" factor. The soundtrack at least lives up to Darksiders' history of dramatic, engaging background music, and the voice work is a lot of fun to hear, especially from returning characters. The game clocks in at a solid fifteen hours or so; you could probably rush through the game more quickly, but since part of the game's charm is exploring and figuring out how to reach distant collectibles/upgrades you'd really be doing a disservice to yourself. Genesis also has an arena mode that can be useful to practice your combat skills and earn extra money (which, in the world of Darksiders, means souls), plus there are multiple difficulty levels you could tackle, so there's a good amount of content available if you like being thorough. Darksiders Genesis does an excellent job of translating the franchise's love of hack-and-slash combat into a co-op, top-down action/adventure. Satisfying combat options and engaging exploration mechanics make for an addictive experience, one that is only enhanced by having a friend along for the ride. The game's unfortunate lack of technical polish brings the experience down a bit, but fans of the series will still love saddling up with the fourth Horseman and once again raining down carnage on demonic hordes. Rating: 7 out of 10 Demons
  19. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch One Finger Death Punch 2 – The world’s fastest brawler is back. Experience cinematic kung fu in the most epic stickman fighter ever made. Staying true to the original game, you play with only two buttons, using speed and precision to maintain control in a whirlwind of frenzied fighting. One Finger Death Punch 2 will be available on Feb. 26. Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection – The reploid in red’s stellar lineup of side-scrolling action games is now on the Nintendo Switch system! Mega Man Zero 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent, all appear in this collection, along with Casual Scenario Mode and a Save-Assist feature for those who would like to enjoy the story at their own pace. Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection will be available on Feb. 25. Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition – Set before the events of the original Devil May Cry game, this action classic sees Dante facing off against his twin brother, Vergil, who has designs on unlocking a gate to the demonic realm, to which Dante himself holds the key. This edition includes the ability to play as Vergil, and even includes extra bonus features exclusive to Nintendo Switch, such as local co-op for the game’s Bloody Palace mode, as well as on-the-fly combat style switching and weapon switching. Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online* Pop’n TwinBee – The sixth game in the TwinBee series, this vertically scrolling shooter takes place in a cute, poppy setting. TwinBee and WinBee hear that the great Dr. Murdock has lost his wits, so they set off to return him to his normal self. This game was originally released in Japan and Europe in 1993, but this will be its first release in the U.S. Pop’n TwinBee is available now. Smash Tennis – In Smash Tennis, the controls may be simple, but there’s plenty of room for skill! With strong shots, weak shots, lobs and eight different court types, you can develop all sorts of approaches, unlocking the deep strategies of tennis. This game was originally released in Japan in 1993 and Europe in 1994, but this will be its first release in the U.S. Smash Tennis is available now. Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online* Shadow of the Ninja – In the midst of disorder and oppression, two shadow warriors rise to the people’s cry for help. Choose to play as one of two ninja masters from the Iga clan as they infiltrate enemy front lines. Master tactics of stealth as you acquire additional weapons and power-ups in order to overthrow an evil emperor and destroy his wicked empire, solo or with a friend. Shadow of the Ninja is available now. Eliminator Boat Duel – In this powerboat racing game, get behind the wheel of one of the fastest machines on the water to earn boatloads of in-game cash. Drivers earn thousands of dollars for competing, and you’ll use your winnings to repair and upgrade your boat to push your competitive edge to its maximum. A little aggression goes a long way – just try not to get sunk yourself, or you’ll be swimming back to dry land. Eliminator Boat Duel is available now. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: A Sound Plan Arcade Archives SASUKE VS COMMANDER ARCADE FUZZ – Available Feb. 25 Blood Breed – Available Feb. 21 Blood will be Spilled Brief Battles – Available Feb. 21 Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator – Available Feb. 21 Corridor Z Dark Tower: RPG Dungeon Puzzle – Available Feb. 21 Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle Edgar – Bokbok in Boulzac – Available Feb. 26 Ego Protocol: Remastered – Available Feb. 21 Fishing Adventure – Available Feb. 21 Fred3ric Go All Out! Hayfever – Available Feb. 25 King Lucas – Available Feb. 21 Knightin’+ – Available Feb. 21 Last Encounter – Available Feb. 21 Lines XL MathLand – Available Feb. 24 Oddmar Otherworldly – Available Feb. 21 Project Starship Rune Factory 4 Special – Available Feb. 25 SAMURAI SHODOWN – Available Feb. 25 SEGA AGES Puyo Puyo 2 Speed Dating for Ghosts Sudoku Relax 4 Winter Snow The Unholy Society – Available Feb. 25 Tower of Babel – no mercy – Available Feb. 21 Two Point Hospital – Available Feb. 25 UBERMOSH:OMEGA – Available Feb. 21 Uncharted Tides: Port Royal Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] Vasilis – Available Feb. 26 Vitamin Connection Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Wii U: Space Hunted: The Lost Levels
  20. There's a massive sale going on, on the Switch/3DS eShop with over 400 games on sale! *WB games (sale until 2/17) | Capcom Games (sale until 2/17) | Blizzard games (sale until 2/18) | Activision games (sale until 2/21) | Ubisoft games (until 2/24) Check out the FULL List: https://www.nintendo.com/games/game-guide/#filter/:q=&dFR[generalFilters][0]=Deals Some games to point out (More: http://nintendo.com/deals/) <--- Includes 3DS games *Games are the Switch version, unless stated otherwise* Yooka-Laylee - $13.99 $39.99 Yooka Laylee and the Impossiable Layer - $20.09 $29.99 Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King - $7.49 $14.99 Dead Cells - $17.49 $24.99 Monster Boy and the Cursed kingdom - $19.99 $39.99 Diablo III: Eternal Collection - $39.99 $59.99 LEGO CITY Undercover - $11.99 $29.99 Spyro Reignited Trilogy - $19.99 $39.99 Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy - $19.99 $39.99 Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled - $23.99 $39.99 Mario + Rabbits Kingdom Battle - $14.99 $59.99 South Park: The Fractured But Whole - $19.99 $59.99 South Park: The Stick of Truth - $14.99 $29.99 Assassin's Creed games (including The Rebel Collection, III Remasters) $19.99 -$29.99 Mega Man games (including Legacy Collection, Legacy Collection 2, X Legacy Collection, X Legacy Collection 2) $9.99 each Resident Evil games (including RE 0, RE, RE 4, RE, 5, RE 6, Re Revelations, RE Revelations 2) $9.99 - $19.99 Super Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection $14.79 $39.99 Devil May Cry games (including DMC 1 and DMC 2) $14.99 $19.99 each 3DS Ace Attorney games (including Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, Spirit of Justice, Trilogy) $8.99 -$11.99 3DS Monster Hunter Games (including Ultimate 3, Ultimate 4, Generations) $5.99 -$15.99 Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate - $19.99 $39.99 Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - $19.99 $29.99 Overwatch Legendary Edition - $19.99 $39.99 OKAMI HD - $11.99 $19.99 Child of Light Ultimate Edition - $4.99 $19.99 Shakedown Hawaii - $14.99 $19.99
  21. Two years ago, developer Clockstone and publisher Headup Games brought Bridge Constructor Portal to the Switch, delivering a challenging and clever physics-based puzzle game infused with the wit of the Portal series. Now Switch owners have a chance to see where the franchise began with Bridge Constructor Ultimate Edition, the original game in the franchise that first released nearly a decade ago. Though simpler in scope compared to its Portal-partnered sequel, the original Bridge Constructor has weathered the test of time admirably. On the island nation of Camatuga, a devastating earthquake has destroyed every bridge on every island. Your job is to build new ones that can hold together and withstand vehicle traffic. You lay down individual parts of the bridge using clearly demarcated anchor points and reinforce them with real-world physics practices—an early-game hint lets you know that triangles make useful, sturdy structures. To pass a level you'll need to ensure two test cars can make it across, but to earn a higher score you can use heavier trucks for the test crossing, though obviously that means more stress on your bridge creation. To make things a little more complicated, you're given a limited budget and must manage your resources carefully—no needless construction spending on Camatuga. Building bridges that can remain standing under their own weight as well as the weight of test cars gets tricky pretty quickly, and that's where the real heart of Bridge Constructor's appeal lies: meticulously crafting and adjusting your bridges to ensure maximum strength for minimal cost. Bridge Constructor scratches the same itch as playing with LEGOs as a kid, with the added benefit of giving you a goal and score for each level. It's almost meditative; like most puzzle games it's easy to just while away an afternoon by zoning out with the game. And even though you'll be crossing your fingers every time you run a test across one of your slipshod constructions, part of the game's fun is in seeing the ridiculous mess that ensues when your bridge can't handle the strain. The game's physics engine teeters on a nicely balanced edge between realism and cartoonish exaggeration, so it's realistic when a poorly built bridge fails to stand, but the wild ragdoll physics when cars and pieces of bridge shatter adds a pretty funny visual reward even when you fail. As later levels get increasingly more complicated, there are even more opportunities to fail in chaotic, unexpected ways. And the level of difficulty definitely jumps at times, especially since there's little hand-holding as you figure out what kinds of best practices are necessary for longer bridges, but the game's low sense of punishment and relaxed tone makes it easy to simply dust yourself off and try again. What makes this the Ultimate Edition is the inclusion of both DLC expansions. In addition to the 40 levels in the main game—which can be finished fairly quickly if you're good at such physics puzzles, though there's always the opportunity to perfect your score by using as few materials as possible—this version also includes SlopeMania and the Trains DLC. As their names suggest these expansions put new twists on the Bridge Constructor formula. With slopes, you have entirely new consideration to keep in mind as angles and momentum might disrupt your carefully crafted blueprints. With trains, there's a greater weight and strain on the bridge and you can't just get by with a wish and a prayer. Both are excellent additions that offer fun new challenges to tear your hair out over. Bridge Constructor also features three seasonal themed expansions (based on Christmas, Easter, and Halloween) but these are only available during specific times of year, so you'll have to catch them at the right time to try them. For the Switch version of the game you have two options when it comes to the controls: a controller or the touch screen. A touch interface might seem like a natural fit for a construction/builder game, and it certainly makes some things faster such as menu navigation, but in the end I found it slower and more awkward than just using a controller. Your finger can't help but cover part of the screen if you're playing like this, and it makes little errors too easy to make. Using a controller actually works perfectly well, and since there aren't too many construction options (and obviously no pressing time limit while you're playing) nothing is lost with the controller. As the Ultimate Edition though it is perhaps only fair that both options are available at all times. What isn't quite ultimate is the game's presentation, as the graphics and audio seem to have survived largely unchanged from the original 2011 release, but then again Bridge Constructor is fundamentally a puzzle game, and elaborate visuals or music are probably unnecessary. Bridge Constructor Ultimate Edition is a charming addition to the Switch's library of chill puzzle games that you can relax to, even when your brain is working overtime to find a solution. It might be a little hard to go back to a more simple entry in the franchise if you've played the more recent titles in the series, but there's also a certain appeal to its straightforward approach. With both DLC expansions you also have plenty of challenges to enjoy, whether it's from the satisfaction of a job well done or the dark delight in watching a bridge implode on itself. Rating: 7 out of 10 Bridges Review copy provided by publisher Bridge Constructor Ultimate Edition is available now on the Switch eShop for $14.99.
  22. After missing the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Mario and Sonic are back, perhaps appropriately as the Olympics return to Japan. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 reunites all the familiar faces of both game franchises in another mini-game-packed competition. Like most Mario sports games or mini-game compilations, the crux of the gameplay experience is unchanged here: the local multiplayer options are going to make or break your enjoyment of the game. If, for some reason, you're looking to play Tokyo 2020 purely for the single-player experience, you might be pleased to learn there is an actual story mode. While Mario and Sonic are enjoying the Olympic games, Bowser and Eggman team up to meddle, which leads to all four of them (plus Toad) being trapped inside a video game based on the 1964 Olympic games, also held in Tokyo. Most people probably wouldn't expect much from the story mode of a mini-game compilation like this and…well, you'd be right, but the way the story weaves together the modern Olympic games and the 1964 ones is a fun concept. One of the most interesting aspects of the whole game ends up being the little bits of trivia you can uncover about the Olympics, like learning when Judo was introduced as an Olympic event. Tokyo 2020 also intertwines these fun facts with bits about the Mario and Sonic franchises, so it's a little awkward to go from learning about sports history to learning how many polka dots are on Toadette's head, but overall it's still a fun inclusion. Otherwise the story plays out pretty much as you'd expect, and in a rather disappointingly slow, plodding way (characters will often repeat something you just heard another character say, which really makes these dialogue scenes drag). The story only takes about five hours to get through and it still feels too long and slow. Still, having a story mode at all—and with Olympic trivia—is a nice addition. Tokyo 2020 features an impressive 34 events to partake in. That includes 21 3D events, 3 dream events (which aren't based on Olympic games and have more typical "video game" features like power-ups and obstacles) and 10 2D events that take place in the 1964 Tokyo games. Including a "retro" mode with Tokyo 1964 is a pretty cute concept: seeing 8-bit Mario competing alongside 16-bit Sonic is a mash-up I didn't realize I wanted. With 34 events total there's also a great variety available—some standard events are included like the 100m dash or hurdles, but then there are unique new additions like skateboarding or sport climbing. If you're playing with friends, it feels like there's enough variety that everyone will find an event to excel at (and gloat about). However, the downside to featuring so many events is the need to meticulously explain the controls for each and every one. Moreso than other mini-game compilations like Mario Party, it feels like the controls in Tokyo 2020 aren't particularly intuitive and are maybe a little too complex to grasp in the short amount of time an event typically lasts. The game is also downright bad at introducing and explaining the controls at times. When you first start an event you'll be given a quick rundown of how the basic controls work, but oftentimes there are important advanced controls that aren't explained unless you check the controls in each event. Obviously Tokyo 2020 is a game meant to be played over and over anyway so this is really just part of the learning curve, but it still would've been nice to have better introductions to events. Some of the complexity may even turn off new players in a multiplayer match. The issue with the controls only gets more complicated when you add in motion controls. First I should reassure anyone that dislikes motion controls that every event can be played with standard button controls. However many events also include motion control options with either a single or dual Joy-Cons. The result is mixed at best—there's definitely a novelty to using motion controls to pull back a bowstring or row a canoe, but button controls always felt more comfortable and more precise (not to mention less exhausting). As is often the case in a game like this, motion control is a novelty that you probably won't return to often. There's also the issue that the loading screens are just a little bit too long—not excessively so, but when events take only seconds to complete, a three second loading screen ends up feeling disproportionately long. And it definitely doesn't help that Tokyo 2020 doesn't include any kind of tournament mode to play through several events at once. Instead you simply pick one event, play, then repeat or go back to the selection screen. You end up wasting a lot of time on selection screens in the game, which doesn't foster a great "party game" atmosphere. Depending on your preferences, this next point might be a positive or negative: there's very little to unlock in Tokyo 2020. That means that pretty much everything the game has to offer is available right from the start, but players that enjoy that sense of progression won't have much to latch onto here. Aside from some bonus mini-games unlocked by playing the story, the only other things to unlock are bonus characters for specific events. Although the main roster can compete in any event, specific events might have a guest character available, such as Rosalina who is only able to compete in surfing. It's a little weird to restrict certain characters to certain events, but at least it gives them some opportunity to compete, even if it's a limited one. In addition to local multiplayer, Tokyo 2020 can also be played online. At the time of this writing though I'll say that the online community is pretty meager. You can play in either ranked or casual matches, but in both cases it was hard to find an opponent. The best option for playing online may just be to coordinate with a friend first. The presentation of Tokyo 2020 is typical Mario sports game quality: it's clean and colorful and not particularly exciting, but it all looks good. There simply isn't much opportunity for flashy visuals in a game about Olympic events—especially one that draws from realworld Tokyo locations for backgrounds—so the graphics never feel particularly noteworthy, aside from the aforementioned retro look for Tokyo 1964. The soundtrack is pretty decent as well but ultimately doesn't have many standout tracks either; the presentation in Tokyo 2020 is good but unexciting. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a fun return to the competition between these two titans of the video game world, though it's not without its issues. It's not a surprise that the game caters to the multiplayer experience, but some small annoying quirks can make casual game sessions a little more complicated than they need to be, while the online community is simply lacking. Still, the variety of events offers a little something for everyone, even if the game's staying power is questionable. Rating: 6 out of 10 Events
  23. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch SNACK WORLD: THE DUNGEON CRAWL – GOLD – Let the dungeon crawl begin! After your village is invaded, become a heroic adventurer and seek revenge against the villainous Sultan Vinegar. In this RPG, crawl through randomly generated dungeons in your search for rare treasure, and team up with up to three other players in local* or online** multiplayer to take down tenacious tyrants. SNACK WORLD: THE DUNGEON CRAWL – GOLD will be available on Feb. 14. Nintendo Mobile Show Off Your Maneuvers on the Streets of Vancouver – Take to the streets of Vancity! The limited-time event, Vancouver Tour, has begun in the Mario Kart Tour game***. During this two-week tour through the Great White North, you’ll get to vie for victory on the new track, Vancouver Velocity. For the first week, Rosalina currently shines in the spotlight with her Comet Tail kart and Luma Parafoil glider combo. Her Ice Flower is just the cool tool you’ll need to freeze your competition in their tracks. The included Tour gift this time is Morton Koopa Jr., the “star” of the seven siblings. Gold Pass subscribers who earn enough Grand Stars will also receive the Snow Skimmer kart as a Tour gift. The Vancouver Tour event runs until 9:59 p.m. PT on Feb. 25. Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Great deals this week! Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: 3000th Duel – Available Feb. 19 AO Tennis 2 Darksiders Genesis – Available Feb. 14 Florence Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions Goblin Sword Kitty Maestro – Available Feb. 14 Little Bit War Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo – Available Feb. 18 Reed Remastered – Available Feb. 14 Rise of Insanity Speedway Racing – Available Feb. 14 Super Loop Drive The Incredible Adventures of Super Panda – Available Feb. 14 Tilt Pack
  24. Nice to see that Nintendo/TPC's ninja's caught the leaker, though I can't get over the fact that the outlet is called FNintendo. ...FNINTENDO!!!
  25. Childhood adventure certainly isn't a new theme for game design, but it's not often you see it done so stylishly and sincerely. Knights and Bikes from developer Foam Sword and publisher Double Fine is a co-op adventure starring two young girls searching for treasure buried underneath an unassuming British island. The quest pits them against ancient curses and the disinterest of local residents, but charming co-op game design, stunning artwork, and a heartfelt story await brave adventurers on the Switch. Also there's a goose. Knights and Bikes opens by throwing you right into the action as our two protagonists, Demelza and Nessa, are careening down a hill on their bikes. The game then jumps back to a few days prior to show Nessa arriving on Penfurzy Island, where Demelza lives with her father. The two girls quickly strike up a friendship and join forces to uncover the mythical treasure of Penfurzy, said to be left there by medieval knights. The developers have cited The Goonies as a major inspiration for the game and it's not hard to see: Knights and Bikes has the same sense of childhood adventure, bound together by the sweet and heartfelt bond between the girls. Because while the adventure is cute and goofy in the way a child's idea of a treasure hunt is, the real heart of the game comes from the girls' friendship and their tumultuous adolescent emotions, which is everything you'd expect it to be: sweet, melancholy, and touching enough to stick with you long after finishing the game. What stands out immediately about Knights and Bikes is its striking, chaotic art style. It's 2D artwork in a 3D environment in the style of children's artwork—i.e. pastels, paints, and chalk—filled with bizarre shapes and angles that bursts with personality and imagination, sometimes literally when the characters' ideas are manifested in the world as scratchy child drawings. It creates beautiful screenshots of this charmingly odd little island, but the real icing on the cake is seeing the game in action. The animation of the girls is in constant motion—a perfect representation of the boundless energy of childhood as the pair eagerly sets off on their treasure hunting adventure. It's fantastic to see the art style and animation reinforce the personalities of the characters and their child's-eye view of the world so perfectly. The music also deserves major credit for developing this atmosphere of childhood adventure, and more specifically an 80s childhood adventure. In addition to an excellent opening song that encapsulates the young 80s punk spirit, the sound design throughout the game is subtle but impactful where it counts. Although there are plenty of local co-op games (arguably not enough, but that's a different discussion), many of them end up integrating the second player in a simple, supporting role, like an assistant to the main player. Knights and Bikes, however, is fully made for co-op adventuring. Each player can control one of the girls and there's a heavy emphasis on cooperation throughout the game. Demelza and Nessa have slightly different abilities—in the form of weapons/items—so to solve puzzles or overcome obstacles the two have to work together. For example, Demelza has boots that allow her to stomp on the ground, while Nessa has a flying disc to hit distant objects, and both might be needed to unlock a gate. It's a lot of fun to see this kind of co-op experience be so central to the game and reinforce the theme of friendship. Don't worry though if you don't have someone to play with: Knights and Bikes is also completely playable solo as the AI simply takes over for the other character. You're even able to swap between the two girls to explore everything the game has to offer. The AI is also pretty good at proactively approaching obstacles or enemies so thankfully it never feels like dead weight. The game is really meant to be played with two players though, so if possible it's worth setting up a game day with a friend and sharing the adventure with someone. The adventure itself also errs on the easy side. Puzzles are never too complex, and combat is basic but fairly undemanding. That's not necessarily a negative though. Knights and Bikes is more about the sense of childhood adventure and camaraderie than challenging the player with complicated traps and hazards. The puzzle design may be somewhat simple but the adventure itself is undeniably charming. And I have to point out that the girls heal themselves by high-fiving each other—it's distressingly rare for games to recognize the healing power of high fives, so I commend Knights and Bikes for making it an integral part of the game. After all, how many games have a dedicated high five button? Knights and Bikes lasts a comfortable eight hours or so—not too long, but not too short either. It's long enough for the game's themes to have a satisfying weight to them and for a good variety of puzzles that don't grow stale. There's not a ton of replay value, but each region of the game has a number of hidden treasure boxes for you to find. Boxes hold valuable trinkets such as half-broken figurines, bugs, or bread bag ties—the kinds of things kids would treasure—which can be used to buy cosmetics for your bikes. Treasure is also abundantly found everywhere in the game, including dropped from enemies, so hunting treasure boxes is really more of a pursuit for completionists. I will note that the game suffered from some minor technical problems while I was playing. At one point the frame rate stuttered and dropped noticeably, and in another instance the visuals on the screen became stuck no matter how I moved the characters. Thankfully Knights and Bikes uses an autosave system that refreshes pretty frequently, so these problems were easily fixed by reloading the last checkpoint and losing, at most, a minute of time. Knights and Bikes is a lovingly crafted ode to childhood adventure, and perhaps a good reminder that such adventures aren't just for kids. Wandering around quirky locations and imagining them as grand fantasy structures alongside your best friend makes for an utterly charming co-op game, one that beautifully blends its story, gameplay, and audio/visual design into a clever, imaginative, and heartfelt experience. The chance to play a solid co-op game should be reason enough to pick up Knights and Bikes, but the fact that it's so well crafted will keep you hooked and pedaling. Rating: 8 out of 10 Bikes Review copy provided by publisher Knights and Bikes is available now on the Switch eShop for $19.99.