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Found 691 results

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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!!!
  6. 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.
  7. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales – Enter a world on the verge of chaos in a single-player RPG that combines narrative-driven exploration with unique puzzles and card battle mechanics, crafted by the developers responsible for some of the most iconic moments in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Experience a truly regal tale of Meve, a war veteran and queen of two Northern Realms – Lyria and Rivia. Facing an imminent Nilfgaardian invasion, Meve is forced to once again enter the warpath and set out on a dark journey of destruction and revenge. Knights and Bikes – Saddle up for a bike-riding, friendship-building, frisbee-throwing, goose-petting, treasure-hunting adventure for one or two players. You’ll play as Nessa and Demelza as they explore an ancient island with their pet goose, Captain Honkers, riding and upgrading their bikes on a quest for answers. 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: Akuarium Arcade Archives SAINT DRAGON Bridge Builder Adventure – Available Feb. 7 Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Cosmonauta – Available Feb. 11 Crash Drive 2 – Available Feb. 7 ELEA: Paradigm Shift – Available Feb. 8 EQQO – Available Feb. 7 Hair Mower 3D Help Me Doctor – Available Feb. 10 Just a Phrase by POWGI Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker – Available Feb. 7 KUNAI Marooners – Available Feb. 7 Nerved Rolling Sky 2 Rune Lord – Available Feb. 7 SEN: Seven Eight Nine Shiny Ski Resort Super Korotama – Available Feb. 7 The Man With The Ivory Cane The Town of Light: Deluxe Edition – Available Feb. 7 The Turing Test – Available Feb. 7 Thief Town – Available Feb. 11 Voxel Pirates Zero Zero Zero Zero – Available Feb. 7 夕鬼 零 Yuoni: Rises Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS: Quarters, Please! Vol. 2 Tank Onslaught
  8. 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.
  9. Released in 2018, arguably past the point where toys-to-life games were popular, Starlink: Battle for Atlas had an uphill battle from the start. Needing to separately purchase ships, weapons, and pilots is a big sell, even if manually swapping out your ship's weapons has a unique charm to it. But what Starlink did have on its side—for the Switch version—was a Star Fox tie-in that incorporated Nintendo's familiar space-faring heroes into the game's original story. Even if it's not technically a Star Fox game, Nintendo fans will likely appreciate seeing Fox, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy explore planets and dogfight in space. The story takes place in the Atlas system where your interstellar ship, the Equinox, is attacked by the Forgotten Legion. The Legion and their leader, Grax, are obsessed with the ancient technology left behind by the extinct species known as the Wardens, and are trying to use the long dormant technology for their own nefarious purposes. It's up to you to stop them by traveling to all seven planets in the Atlas system and rallying the residents to fight back. In the Switch version, the Star Fox team also gets involved when they're pursuit of Wolf leads them to the Atlas system. The main plot is a decent space-adventure story, though it feels a little derivative of other well known sci-fi games. Putting aside such comparisons though, the story is a cute if forgettable yarn about good and evil battling it out. The Star Fox side story will be more interesting to Nintendo fans, and although it really is only a small string of side quests in Starlink it's a lot of fun to see Fox square off against Wolf again. Let's address the elephant in the room right now: Starlink was created around the idea that players could buy a variety of toys in order to swap out different ships, pilots, and weapons at will. Although you can purchase these items digitally instead of physically, you do need to buy them to use in-game as there's no way to unlock them just by playing. Purchasing all of these add-ons (plus the main game) represents a significant investment. It's kind of a lame business model—for the player at least—but thankfully it is entirely possible to beat the game with just the basic starter kit. You won't have access to all of the different weapon types, but the game is still playable and enjoyable with only the basics (though having extra ships essentially serves as extra lives if you're ever shot down, so there's a definite benefit to having several). Personally I found myself occasionally wishing I could try different ships to benefit from different tactics or abilities, but I was never compelled to actually buy them. Now on to the actual gameplay. Starlink is a third-person action-adventure game where you pick a pilot, a ship, and two weapons to battle Legion forces either in space or on the surface of planets. Flying into or out of a planet's atmosphere is pretty seamless and really nails the thrill of a space adventure like few other games. Between land-based battles and space dogfights, Starlink offers an intense but ultimately forgiving sense of combat difficulty. Your weapons have a cool down if they're fired too rapidly and there's no lock-on targeting, so you have to adeptly maneuver while keeping an eye on your weapons' energy gauges. The lack of lock-on targeting can make space dogfights a bit disorienting since enemy ships seem to move awfully fast, but these battles feel more natural the longer you play. On the other hand, your ship regenerates health outside of combat, so if you're ever too overwhelmed you can simply retreat, recharge, and try again. The game ends up feeling pretty well balanced and satisfying, making it nicely accessible to any level of player. Though if you do want more of a challenge there are different difficulty levels to try and, since there are light RPG elements in terms of pilot experience level, you can try to keep yourself underleveled to keep things challenging. Outside of combat, the real focus of Starlink is open-world game design. Each planet in the Atlas system is packed with locations and small objectives to conquer, all of which reward you with currency or ship modifications that can bolster your attack or defense. Ubisoft's trademark game design is on full display here: every time you enter a new area (or in this case, a new planet), your map will be filled with minor tasks you can tackle to tick your way to 100% completion. It's great that there's so much to do on each planet but Starlink rather despearately lacks variety. There are only four or five variations of side missions repeated hundreds of times throughout the game, and trying to complete them all seems more exhausting than entertaining. These are, of course, almost entirely optional objectives—you do need to complete a small percentage of them to progress the story—but still, it would have been nice to have side content that felt like more than padding. Starlink also features local drop-in/drop-out co-op (while in docked mode). Not that the game's difficulty ever really requires it, but having a wingman while flying around a dreadnought's defensive cannons in space or clearing out robotic enemies from a satellite array is a nice perk. Despite the split-screen the second player can never get too far away from the main player, but there's enough wiggle room that you don't feel completely tethered to one another. Whether in the depths of space or on the colorful surfaces of Atlas's worlds, the visuals are charmingly colorful while still making these alien environments unique and interesting. Granted, Starlink's art style is distinctly cartoony—its pilot designs and the flora/fauna of the planets feels suited to a summer kids film—but it works for the game. The soundtrack also plays it safe, though in this case a bit too much. The music ends up feeling somewhat generic throughout—not necessarily bad, but not memorable either. The Star Fox music that pops up during their missions however is a real treat for fans of the series. It's a shame that Starlink: Battle for Atlas was tied to the toys-to-life game banner, because even without all of the bells and whistles of multiple ships and weapons, there's an enjoyable space adventure here. Flying down to the surface of different planets and exploring is exciting, though the cookie-cutter approach to side quests and even the main story quests can make progress in the game feel more like a checklist than a journey of discovery. But for the Switch version at least, the presence of familiar Star Fox faces helps add value, and any excuse to jump back into the cockpit of an Arwing is a welcome one. Rating: 8 out of 10 Toy Ships
  10. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics – Lead a fledgling resistance of Gelfling against their oppressive overlords, the Skeksis, across more than 50 unique, turn-based tactics RPG battles. Along the way, you will recruit and customize new allies by assigning them jobs, modifying their abilities and outfitting them with equipment to ensure victory. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics will be available on Feb. 4. Skellboy – Life was peaceful in the Cubold Kingdom until the king’s evil court magician got dumped by the princess. With his heart broken and his rage fueled, he called upon the evil spirits to resurrect the dead and the kingdom’s long-forgotten monstrosities. This action-RPG will truly test your skill as you explore the interconnected world of Cubold to a soundtrack of rocking chiptune songs. DLC: Byleth Joins the Fight in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Teach your opponents a lesson in discipline! Byleth, the skilled mercenary and tactician from the Fire Emblem series, enters battle as the newest playable character in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game. Byleth’s unique ranged play style enables a new host of combat strategies in the game. The purchase of Byleth’s Challenger Pack* for $5.99 also includes the Garreg Mach Monastery stage and 11 newly added music tracks from the Fire Emblem series. Six New Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Available for Pre-Purchase – The ultimate celebration of legendary video game characters keeps growing! Fighters Pass Vol. 2*, which will include six more Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighters currently under development, is now available for pre-purchase for only $29.99. Players will get access to six more yet-to-be-announced Challenger Packs as they release, which will each include one new fighter, one stage and multiple music tracks. Those who purchase Fighters Pass Vol. 2 will also receive an exclusive costume for Mii Swordfighter, the Ancient Soldier Gear from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game, available for use in-game 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: 7th Sector – Available Feb. 5 Arc of Alchemist Arcade Archives TECMO BOWL Ascendant Hearts Ash of Gods: Redemption – Available Jan. 31 Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition Battleground Bookbound Brigade Bridge Constructor Ultimate Edition – Available Jan. 31 Eclipse: Edge of Light HYPERCHARGE Unboxed – Available Jan. 31 Indie Gems Bundle – JRPG Edition – Available Jan. 31 Milo’s Quest – Available Jan. 31 Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3 – Available Feb. 4 Never Again Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition – Available Jan. 31 Orbitblazers – Available Jan. 31 PHAR LAP – Horse Racing Challenge Please The Gods – Available Feb. 3 Prison Princess Reknum – Available Jan. 31 Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire Sparkle 4 Tales Speaking Simulator Super Battle Cards – Available Jan. 31 Touchdown Pinball – Available Jan. 31 UORiS DX Wide Ocean Big Jacket – Available Feb. 4 Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge – Available Jan. 31
  11. From developer Double Dutch Games and publisher tinyBuild Games comes SpeedRunners, a fast-paced racing game that combines platformer elements with the chaos of multiplayer for one wild competition. Easy to pick up after a practice race or two, SpeedRunners is a charmingly frantic take on racing games, one that seems tailor made for a friendly (or competitive) party atmosphere. SpeedRunners is clearly a game built around multiplayer, but there is a short story mode that can help you practice leaving the competition in the dust. You play as Speed Runner, a sort of super hero, though his somewhat careless antics while saving the day seems to draw the ire of other costumed heroes, prompting them to challenge you to a variety of races. As far as storytelling is concerned this is incredibly short and basic, though the comic book presentation of backstories (unlocked after finishing each section of the story mode) does add some charm. The gameplay seems to pull inspiration from a number of directions, and the end result is surprisingly original and engaging. Up to four players race each other around a 2D side-scrolling arena where some precision is required to slip through narrow paths or leap over hazards, but more importantly you have to maintain your momentum and keep moving. Rather than simply racing to cross the finish line first, the goal is to continuously outpace your opponents as the screen's focus follows the player at the front of the pack and anyone lagging behind is in danger of getting knocked out. The stage continues to loop seamlessly until only one racer remains, at which point the eliminated players are brought back and the race begins again right from where it left off, which helps give SpeedRunners a feeling of always being in motion. To further put the pressure on (and ensure races don't last ridiculously long), the size of the screen will start to shrink as players are eliminated, pushing the players behind to move a little faster but also reducing visibility for the racer in the front. It's a clever way of ensuring the competition remains intense without unfairly punishing the players lagging behind, which also ensures there's always a chance for an upset win. Races are fairly short and snappy, which makes SpeedRunners a perfect party game. The controls are relatively easy to pick up—though fully mastering them can be a bit more of a challenge than it initially seems—and the quick, chaotic nature of the game makes it easy for everyone on the couch to get in on the action. Though if you do want to play more competitively, there's also enough depth to the gameplay to make serious races satisfying. SpeedRunners is really all about maintaining your momentum, even when you have to change direction rapidly, and mastering this takes some serious skill if the "unfair" difficulty setting is anything to go by. Aside from merely jumping or sliding to avoid obstacles, you'll need to master swinging on a grappling hook to maintain speed, which can be tricky in narrow spaces. There's also a speed burst ability that can be charged by passing over boosters in the stage, and saving these bursts of speed for strategically valuable moments takes some forethought. So although SpeedRunners functions excellently as a slightly wacky party game, serious racing game fans will find some depth to enjoy as well. And speaking of wacky party game elements, SpeedRunners also features items which, as all Mario Kart fans know, bring with them a delightful (and sometimes not so delightful) element of chaos. The items in this game feel pretty well balanced though—the hazards that other players will throw at you can all be dodged with careful timing, so it feels less like a random penalty and more like a punishment for not keeping an eye on the competition. Each item blends well with SpeedRunners' focus on momentum and precision, and of course they also make for some satisfying upsets even when the lead player is far ahead. The wild races of Speed Runner and his competitors take them through a variety of colorful locations, though ultimately the presentation of SpeedRunners is decidedly minimalist. The scenery has some detail but for the walls and floors are always jet black, which allows the characters and hazards to stand out nicely. It's ultimately a case of function over form, and although more detailed visuals might have been nice, there's no denying that the graphics help keep the gameplay clear and readable even at the most hectic of times. The soundtrack also errs on the side of simplicity—there are some good songs but a stark lack of variety which makes the background music a little disappointingly repetitive. As mentioned the story mode is pretty short, so naturally the game's real value comes from multiplayer. SpeedRunners features both offline and online multiplayer so you can enjoy the frantic action even if you don't have anyone close by to play with. The online connection works well, though the game is still so new that you might not find opponents quickly. Besides, the charm of the game works better with friends gathered around the couch. There are also several DLC items available for purchase on the eShop, but these represent only cosmetic additions, not changes to the gameplay. It's a bit disappointing that these add-ons are still being sold separately instead of bundled with the main game considering the game originally launched on other systems several years ago, but of course the DLC is entirely optional and you'll be at no disadvantage while playing if you don't want to pay for more character costumes. What SpeedRunners lacks in depth it makes up for in sheer replay value. The game's simplicity ends up being one of its most charming and defining features, making the game comfortably accessible to new players and ideal for a quick party setting. There's enough depth to keep things interesting after the initial honeymoon period as well, which makes SpeedRunners ideal for racing game fans that love perfecting their skills with handling the chaos of items and competitors. Rating: 8 out of 10 Runners Review copy provided by publisher SpeedRunners is available now on the Switch eShop for $14.99.
  12. It took its time, but finally, just a few months ago, the 3D-collectathon-platformer-inspired game A Hat in Time released on a Nintendo system. Originally Kickstarted back in 2013, the game released on other systems in 2017, though sadly did not launch on the Switch at that time and, quite understandably, skipped over the Wii U entirely. But now Nintendo fans have a chance to play a game that so clearly wears its Banjo-Kazooie/Donkey Kong 64/Super Mario 64 inspiration on its sleeve—or hat, as it were. Sadly, Switch owners will have to settle for an undeniably worse version of the game. You play as Hat Kid, a space-traveling girl who uses Time Pieces to fuel her spaceship. When the hull is breached and the precious Time Pieces are scattered across a nearby planet, she sets out to recover them before their time-manipulating power is abused by any ne'er-do-wells. The game ups the stakes a bit when you meet one such ne'er-do-well and have to race to collect the Time Pieces first, but the story is still light in A Hat in Time. It pretty much just sets up your motivation and then lets you loose in the game. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the environments and side characters have plenty of goofy, cartoony charm (edging on obnoxious at times, granted) but it does mean that the final battle of the game has fairly low stakes. Anyone that grew up playing 3D platformers on the N64 will no doubt be instantly transported to that time after starting up this game. You've got multiple worlds to explore, each with a number of Time Pieces to collect, and in order to unlock new worlds you need to meet a certain threshold of Time Pieces. Some worlds allow you to freely roam and uncover secrets on your own while others are more linear or stage-based, but the feel of a classic 3D platformer is perfectly preserved, albeit on a much smaller scale since A Hat in Time only has forty Time Pieces to collect instead of the hundreds of stars, moons, or other MacGuffins littering other games. The result is a shorter but more satisfyingly contained experience, one that still lasts several hours but never drags. And completionists will be pleased to know there are optional collectibles as well if you just can't get enough of uncovering secrets. The game also maintains a brisk pace thanks to Hat Kid's quick, fluid movements. There aren't too many moves to learn here but the ones you have make traversing these elaborate 3D environments pretty simple, and it's relatively easy to correct mistakes thanks to the double jump. Hat Kid is also able to craft and equip different hats to gain new abilities, such as sprinting or lobbing an explosive concoction. In order to make a hat you'll need to collect yarn, including yarn of the hat's specific type, but thankfully yarn is pretty plentiful as you explore. You can also equip badges to further augment your abilities. Most of these are merely optional, helpful boosts, but they're great for customizing your playstyle a bit, or adding some challenge with the one-hit-point-only badge. And although the game is relatively short for its genre, there are a lot of great 3D platforming challenges here and a lot of variety in level design. In only the second world things start to get unique with a rivalry plot that puts you in smaller, enclosed levels that test precision more than pure exploration. That said, A Hat in Time is still quite easy overall, partly just thanks to the lack of a lives/continues system. Recovery orbs are plentiful and if you do die you'll find that checkpoints are pretty plentiful too. The only thing that really makes the game difficult is dealing with a finnicky camera system. It's been decades since those N64 platformers were released, and yet the camera in A Hat in Time is distressingly reminiscent of those problematic times, zooming in too close to you so you can't clearly see around you or locking into obnoxious angles that make jumps more difficult than they need to be, especially when you're jumping to a narrow wire or rope and can barely see Hat Kid's shadow below you. Tight corridors can be extremely annoying to navigate as the camera zooms in and obstructs your view. The game overall is still pretty easy, but missing jumps thanks to an uncooperative camera is frustrating. As I hinted to earlier, A Hat in Time has some technical troubles on the Switch. Loading times are noticeably long, which is annoying but not a huge issue by itself since many games suffer from the same problem. What's disappointing is that even with those long load times the game is terribly optimized for the Switch with occasional frame rate dips in well-populated stages, lots of pop-in visuals, jaggy visuals, and frequent textures that don't fully load or even worse are just plain low-res. The images accompanying this review are not at all indicative of my experience with the game as the visuals were never this clear or smooth. It's a real shame since clearly A Hat in Time has some fun, cute visual design, even if it can be somewhat repetitive, but on the Switch you'll barely be able to enjoy the graphics in the first place. The soundtrack is at least pretty well preserved in this version of the game, and there are a lot of good songs that could go toe to toe with some of the greats of the platformer music world. A Hat in Time is a charming take on the 3D collectathon platformer genre, perhaps all the more impressive for being made by an indie studio, but it's hard to ignore the rampant technical issues that the game suffers on the Switch. You really can't help but feel like you're playing an inferior version of the game when the textures are so muddy and the environments so jaggy. If you're willing to overlook these faults though, A Hat in Time offers a short and cute adventure into charming 3D environments begging to be explored. Rating: 6 out of 10 Hats
  13. It seems Nintendo was toying around with this idea during the development of Super Mario Maker 2, but for what ever reason just decided to just give people a standard stylus as a pre-order bonus for the game (while excluding NA) and then released an official standard stylus with Brain Age on Switch (still waiting for a NA announcement). Who knows if they will actually end up releasing this with a new Art Academy, Mario Paint, or something, or just sell the stylus from Brain Age separately (seem they already are in EUR and JPN)...? I know this is literally just a stylus nub attached to one of the Joy-Con straps that come with the Switch, but this is a pretty clever way to easily and cheaply get the features of high-end modern-day styli on Switch. IDK if I'd actually want to use a Joy-Con as a stylus (I'd rather have the one from Brain Age), but like I said, this is a pretty clever way to go about this.
  14. Dell just showed off this new ALIENWARE device at CES today... Hands-On: We've seen companies in the past show of their new "Switch inspired" devices, but is Dell going a bit too fare here with their new ALIENWARE hybrid device? It pretty much does everything that makes the Switch a Switch (A tablet that docks to a TV, has detachable controllers that can attach to a grip, table top mode, etc.). If this thing goes into full on production, could we see a lawsuit on here? So, what classifies as patent infringement and what classifies as product competition? Where do we draw the line? With the Switch, did Nintendo create a new type of portable gaming device (the 'hybrid' device) with other companies creating their own (Ex: Like how Apple created the modern day smartphone with the iPhone), or did Dell just want a bit too much of that Switch pie with their ALIENWARE Concept UFO? I'm not sure where you'd draw the line here, but to me, it seems Dell went a bit too far here, since the ALIENWARE Concept UFO pretty much does everything that makes the Switch a Switch. It's going to be interesting to see how things play out if this gets released (especially if they can git it around the Switch's price range), because this thing is straight up a Switch but for PC games. It has some of the same games as the Switch, plus games that have yet to come to Switch, which are also on PS4 & XBOne. Other "Switch inspired" devices we've seen in the past, were from mobile device manufactures. These devices ran mobile OSs and where mainly for mobile games, which Nintendo doesn't see as competition. Now, with the ALIENWARE Concept UFO, I feel like like Nintendo might see this as competition and issue a lawsuit (possibly beforehand, so it doesn't get released), because as far as I'm aware, PC gaming is a direct competitor to console gaming.
  15. Developer Playtonic's follow up to their throwback to 3D collectathons takes a step even further back, this time to side-scrolling platformers. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair draws clear inspiration from the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES, but like the first Yooka-Laylee the game never feels derivative. A unique final level mechanic and two sides to every level gives The Impossible Lair enough character to stand out in the crowd of side-scrolling platformers on the Switch. In this game Yooka and Laylee are once again fighting against the nefarious Capital B, who has captured Queen Phoebee's Royal Beettalion Guard in order to control the Royal Stingdom. You'll need to rescue Beettalion Guards in each level in order to help you tackle the fiendishly difficult Impossible Lair where Capital B is hiding. Like the first game there is a clear love of puns at work here, which gives The Impossible Lair a classic sense of cartoony charm. The gameplay has a classic appeal as well thanks to traditional side-scrolling platformer mechanics. Yooka serves as the main character while Laylee provides support abilities—Yooka can run, jump, and roll into enemies to defeat them, and with Laylee's help Yooka can also twirl in the air for a little extra distance or ground pound through weak obstacles in the floor. The rolling mechanic in particular has a familiar Donkey Kong Country feel to it, especially when you're rolling off of a ledge to gain a bit more momentum so you can reach a distant cannon. What makes The Impossible Lair unique comes down to how hit points work. If you're hit while Yooka and Laylee are teamed up, Laylee will fly off of Yooka's head and flutter about in a panic, not unlike Baby Mario floating away when hit in Yoshi's Island. If you're able to grab Laylee before she flies off for good, you'll essentially "recover" your HP and, more importantly, retain the aforementioned abilities that Laylee provides—Yooka on his own feels comparatively weak. Trying to catch Laylee when she's flapping about is somewhat obnoxious but if you're good at it you basically have an unending ability to take damage and recover immediately (there are also Laylee bells scattered through each level that allow you to recover your bat friend). It certainly helps keep the action of the gameplay moving more than hunting down a mushroom or a handful of rings, and it doesn't make the game too easy since there are still plenty of ways to die and fall back to the last checkpoint. The main levels of the game are admittedly on the easy side of things though, which is what makes the titular final level, the Impossible Lair, so confounding. The bulk of the game is a pretty forgiving take on platformers with plenty of checkpoints and opportunities to skip levels if you're having trouble, but the final level is an unforgiving gauntlet of precise platforming challenges that quickly grows discouraging. The Impossible Lair throws you into various fast-paced platforming sequences as well as several boss fights against Capital B, all of which has to be completed in one run (dying sends you back to the very beginning). To mitigate the challenge somewhat you need to collect the Beettalion Guards from each level, each of whom acts as a hit point inside the Impossible Lair—instead of losing Laylee when hit you lose a guard, and you'll even lose a guard when falling into a pit instead of dying completely. So to be as well equipped as possible to handle the Impossible Lair, you'll want to rescue all 48 Beettalion Guards, though even with a full roster the final level can be maddeningly difficult. It's surprising to see such a jump in difficulty, especially one that can be so tedious since you'll need to trek through the early parts of the level again and again if you die near the end of the lair. Finally, the overworld actually plays a significant part in The Impossible Lair. Instead of merely a map to connect various levels, the overworld is kind of a level unto itself with various puzzles and challenges that you'll need to overcome in order to fully explore the map. Additionally, each level of the game actually has two paths, and to unlock the second path you'll need to solve some kind of puzzle in the overworld, such as flooding an area to turn a normal level into a water level, or literally turning the level upside down. The changes within the levels are significant, and figuring out how to trigger them in the overworld is a fun challenge that gives a lot more depth to the overworld than a typical platformer hub. Your play time with The Impossible Lair could vary wildly depending on how you play. Like Breath of the Wild you're actually able to jump straight to the final level immediately. It is, like the title suggests, a nearly impossible task to complete without the benefit of the Beettalion Guards, but the challenge is there if you want to test your skills. More likely you'll spend 10 to 12 hours completing every level to collect all Beettalions, and truly dedicated players will take the extra time to collect all coins and tonics in the game. Coins are needed to unlock gates in the overworld so you'll have to grab a percentage of them, but tonics are strictly for the benefit of augmenting the experience with buffs or new challenges. The inclusion of tonics is novel but the limited use of a vast majority of them makes collecting them a fairly underwhelming pursuit. Yooka-Laylee's colorful and cartoony art style translates well to the 2.5D setting of The Impossible Lair. There aren't many truly interesting visual designs in the game, but nor is there anything lackluster about them. Plus the game runs at a nice smooth frame rate, though the trade off seems to be some tediously long load times, especially when you first boot up the game. Still, a bit of waiting is far preferable to choppy graphics. The soundtrack meanwhile is undoubtedly a highlight of the game—not surprising with the likes of David Wise and Grant Kirkhope involved—and certainly does most of the heavy lifting to give The Impossible Lair a charming sense of personality. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair puts a unique hook on classic side-scrolling platformer gameplay, and even though that hook can be a little tedious thanks to a surprising spike in difficulty, the overall experience still captures the fun and charm of old-school platforming. A small set of abilities for Yooka and Laylee provides a wide variety of platformer challenges, all of which is buoyed by the addictive nature of exploring an in-depth overworld full of secrets to uncover. Even though it's such a change of pace from the first game, The Impossible Lair is a strong continuation of the Yooka-Laylee series. Rating: 7 out of 10 Beettalion Guards
  16. The latest installment of the Fire Emblem series launches for the Nintendo Switch today! Are you planning on picking it up? Which house are you going to join? Who are you going to marry? Please tag spoilers.
  17. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – The worlds of the Fire Emblem series and ATLUS games have crossed paths again. An interdimensional evil has invaded modern-day Tokyo, resulting in this fantastical barrage of music, style and danger. So, fight back! Battle through dungeons to pump up your strategy and creatively decimate your foes…before all hope fades to black. This updated edition includes paid DLC from the Wii U version of the game, plus new dungeons to explore, a new EX Story and a new music video featuring the song, “She is…” Nintendo eShop sales: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U New Year Sale – Ring in the New Year with great savings on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS games! You can save on a large variety of must-have titles, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition. The sale runs until tonight (Jan. 16) at 11:59 p.m. PT, so make sure to check out the full list of deals available at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: Adventure Pinball Bundle – Available Jan. 17 Anime Studio Story Arcade Archives EXERION Caveman Chuck – Available Jan. 21 Curious Cases Doggie Ninja The Burning Strikers Dreamwalker: Never Fall Asleep Dungeon Shooting Ember – Available Jan. 21 Extreme Trucks Simulator Jurassic Excite Lydia – Available Jan. 17 Maitetsu:Pure Station Planetary Defense Force Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha – Available Jan. 21 Red Bow – Available Jan. 17 Robots under attack! Sea King Hunter Seek Hearts SELF So Many Me: Extended Edition – Available Jan. 17 Soccer, Tactics & Glory – Available Jan. 22 Sorry, James Spider Solitaire – Available Jan. 17 Super Crush KO To the Moon The Station Witch & Hero 2 Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on New Nintendo 3DS: Small World Z Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Wii U: Regina & Mac
  18. This is an old topic I made before Christmas last year about the holiday sales going on. Since all of those ended and more popped up as a New Years sale, just decided to keep this one up for now. I'll probably use this topic until the end of the month and then just let it die. As far as I know, these all end on the 16th-17th depending on your timezone. These are all North American sales! I won't include DLC this time around since this takes me forever to cover. I'll update the rest later. These lists are too long and I started this an hour ago. Nintendo & Select Titles Sega/Atlus Capcom XSEED Inti Creates 2K Games Devolver Digital WB Games Ubisoft Bandai Namco
  19. Both 2D adventure games and roguelikes are a dime a dozen, so maybe the best way to stand out from the crowd is to combine the two into one experience, complete with pixel art and a charming soundtrack. Sparklite draws solid ideas from both genres, but the final result could have used a more unique spin to keep things engaging. In the land of Geodia, everything is powered by Sparklite, a glowing blue ore that serves as the lifeblood of the planet. But an evil overlord named the Baron has been hoarding Sparklite to power his war machines, and the pollution is causing plants and animals to mutate into dangerous monsters. Our hero Ada crash lands in Geodia and quickly sets off on an adventure to stop the Baron before his plans destroy the planet itself. It's a classic hero adventure, complete with a silent protagonist with a helpful assistant (in this case, a robot, not a fairy). The story is pretty bare-boned but there's a lot of charm in the side characters you meet, not least of which is a musician that asks you to help her rescue small birds that have gone missing in Geodia. Sparklite's writing may not stand out but what little there is is endearing. The gameplay feels like a mid-point between a traditional adventure game and a roguelike. The map is procedurally generated every time you leave your base of operations, but you don't lose equipment or story progress when you die (aside from minor consumable items which are usually easily replaced). This makes Sparklite much less punishing than a typical roguelike; even though you have to explore the map again every time you set out, the map is conveniently divided into five sections and each area isn't too large. It's also worth taking the time to explore since you'll be able to collect Sparklite which is the game's currency for everything, including valuable upgrades. Even if you reach a boss and die, the Sparklite you collected on the way will stay with you, helping you fuel future attempts. The downside is that the cost of upgrades is pretty high, and a typical journey to the surface of Geodia will probably only yield enough Sparklite for one or two upgrades. This is where the game's exploration gameplay loop comes into play, but it can't help but feel like padding out the game's short length. Exploration is fun the first few times, but when you need to do it over and over just to be able to afford to increase your health it feels like busywork. It doesn't help that the procedurally generated map drains some of the character from the environment—you can't have unique set pieces when everything needs to be able to fit together randomly. The combat in Sparklite also leaves something to be desired. Ada can use her wrench to smack enemies, and that's basically all there is to it. Attack, dodge away when the enemy winds up their own attack, repeat. There's little depth or excitement to the battle system, though you can unlock items like a crossbow or floating bombs to change things up a little. The only problem is that these items are so slow to use that they aren't very effective in the heat of combat. And with recovery items being surprisingly rare, it's usually not worth taking the risk to whip out a fancy item or gadget. Boss fights unfortunately aren't much better. They're certainly flashier but they're even more beholden to the basic pattern of attack and dodge, just with larger and more predictable attacks from the enemy. The game is at its best when it leans a little more toward a traditional adventure game. Scattered throughout the map you'll find vaults that are filled with simple puzzles and reward you with a new item (though you have to spend Sparklite to actually unlock it) and you'll occasionally find monster lairs filled with enemies or other challenges. Once again the randomly generated design of the game hurts the overall experience—these vaults and lairs are fun but feel disappointingly basic. Perhaps if the game wasn't randomly generated there would have been more opportunity to better flesh these out. One area where the game does not disappoint though is the presentation. There is some beautiful pixel artwork here, notably when it comes to the charming side characters you meet or the massive, imposing boss battles. The retro look may be old hat by now but it still looks fantastic. The music is also excellent with a lot of fun, lively songs that match the sense of adventure. Even if retreading randomly generated maps gets old, the soundtrack never does. Sparklite finds a comfortable niche between traditional 2D adventure games and roguelikes, but the end result might be less than the sum of its parts. The randomly generated elements of the game ultimately feel like padding while the classic sense of exploration and combat feels too basic. There's still an enjoyable adventure to be had in Geodia, but it doesn't quite live up to its potential. Rating: 7 out of 10 Sparks
  20. This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content: Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore (Pre-Purchase) – Explore a hyper-stylish Tokyo bursting with music, pop idols and danger when the Fire Emblem series and ATLUS games collide on the Nintendo Switch system. The Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore game launches Jan. 17, with additional character stories, more battle elements and a new song. For those who want to slay rogue spirits as soon as the game launches, pre-purchase is now available. 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: 140 Aborigenus – Available Jan. 10 Arcade Archives Penguin-Kun Wars Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX – Available Jan. 14 Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack – Available Jan. 14 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX – Available Jan. 14 Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX – Available Jan. 14 Cooking Tycoons – 3 in 1 Bundle Demolish & Build 2018 – Available Jan. 15 Drunk-Fu: Wasted Masters – Available Jan. 10 Invisible Fist Jump Gunners – Available Jan. 13 Nicky – The Home Alone Golf Ball Sir Eatsalot Squidlit – Available Jan. 14 Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo – Available Jan. 14 Technosphere – Available Jan. 10 THOTH Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on New Nintendo 3DS: Silver Falls – 3 Down Stars
  21. How much of an action-adventure game can you finish in sixty seconds? As it turns out, a whole lot! Minit takes classic 2D adventure gameplay and puts a unique time limit on the player: every sixty seconds, you'll die and have to restart from the last safe house. Simplicity and speed is the name of the game here, and rather than feel like a restriction, it proves to be a wonderfully inventive way of framing an adventure. The story begins with your character (some sort of duck, maybe?) waking up in his house and wandering down to the nearby beach where he picks up a cursed sword that causes the sixty second time restriction. From there your goal is to find a way to break the curse while also helping out any townsfolk you encounter. Minit is not a story rich game, and in fact the sixty-second restriction can be a real hindrance to story-telling since it limits your ability to really soak in the plot or lore of the environment. Regardless, Minit doesn't offer much plot anyway, and instead has plenty of personality and charm from your brief interactions with other characters, most of which offer short, goofy bits of dialogue as well as helpful hints. Minit's sixty-second lifespan might sound a lot more confounding than it actually is. The truth is, you can get quite a lot done in sixty seconds when you don't dawdle, and obviously the game is built around the limitation as well, so there's very little fluff to waste your time. You might end up wandering a bit as you look for your next objective, but that's really the core appeal of Minit: see how much you can get done before you're pulled back to the last safe house and have to start over. You're given only vague directions on what to do next, so exploration is the real core of the game Plus, there are several safe houses over the extremely short length of the game, so you're never too far from your last checkpoint. It's also important to note that anything you accomplish is saved when you're revived—you don't need to grab key items again, they'll stay with you. The exceptions are monsters or breakable/moveable objects, such as cutting down bushes, but that's no different from a normal adventure game anyway. And as mentioned, Minit is designed to let you make the most of your minute, with the only truly tricky, multi-part puzzle being the final approach to the end boss. The developers clearly know their adventure game formulas—there's something familiar about the kinds of tasks you accomplish in Minit, but the time limit lets you see them in a fresh, challenging light. The result is a uniquely addictive adventure: every time you restart you'll want to make the most of the brief time you have. It's no surprise that Minit would employ a fairly minimal, simple visual style as well. The black and white visuals are striking, and also serve a valuable gameplay purpose—everything on screen is so clearly laid out that your eyes never have to hunt for what to interact with or focus on in any given area. It's another clever way of cutting out the fluff of game design to let the player focus on the most crucial elements. And on top of all that, Minit still manages to have a cute, quirky art style thanks to the odd little creatures that inhabit this world. The music is excellent as well. Thankfully it's not quite as minimalist as the visual design, and the handful of songs found in the game are delightfully catchy. The one area Minit might be lacking is in sheer amount of content. Sure it makes sense that the overall length of the adventure would be fairly short given the sixty-second time restriction, but it's still shocking just how quickly you can finish Minit—easily under two hours. However, the game is filled with little secrets to uncover, and you'll likely finish the game the first time with well under 100% completion, so players that enjoy seeing everything a game has to offer will still get plenty of replay value out of Minit. There's also a second quest mode that adds even harder restrictions—including just forty seconds per life instead of sixty—so there's at least a modest amount of replay value to enjoy. Minit cleverly distills the adventure formula down to its most essential parts, and puts pressure on the player to make the most of his or her time. The result is an extremely addictive experience—like any game where dying/retrying is common, you'll be eager to try again every time the clock restarts in order to explore a little further, see what else you can find under the time limit, and progress just that much farther into the adventure. Perhaps by its very nature the game is disappointingly brief, but that short time spent with the game is awfully unique and clever. Rating: 8 out of 10 Minutes
  22. It's that time of year again folks. Time for me to wrap up the year with a look back on my favorite Nintendo games with the 3rd annual Ninfora Game Awards. The Switch's third year may not have seen the addition of explosively popular titles like Breath of the Wild or Smash Ultimate, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a ton of great games to choose from in 2019. And what a year for getting RPG ports—not all of them are listed below but there have been some huge RPG titles added to the Switch library this year, enough to keep this RPG fan entirely too busy. Add on the big name Nintendo-developed games and a healthy amount of third-party support and you've got a pretty great year for Switch owners. Best Classic RPG: Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age You have to respect Dragon Quest for finding a formula and sticking with it. Sure there are important quality of life improvements over the years, but at its heart Dragon Quest XI S feels like a classic RPG, and that's probably why it's so easy to lose yourself in the game for a hundred hours. It also certainly helps that this game is really made for the fans that have stuck by the series for decades—the whole concept of revisiting past games for side quests is just a fantastic love letter to the entire franchise. Even though there have been several classic RPGs re-released on the Switch this year, there's no one better than Dragon Quest for that familiar charm. The "End of an Era" Award: Shovel Knight: King of Cards Over six years ago, an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign promised a meticulously crafted side-scrolling pixel art adventure with not one, not two, but three DLC expansions, all free for backers and early adopters. Just a few weeks ago that promise has finally been fulfilled with the release of King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown, the 4-player battle mode. I'm sure no one thought it would take this long to see the Kickstarter's stretch goals fulfilled—least of all the developers—but if anything can be said about the four Shovel Knight campaigns, it's that every single one of them has been worth the wait. King of Cards once again delightfully redefines the Shovel Knight world with far more than a simple sprite-swap, and Showdown's chaotic charm relies heavily on the community's love for these knightly characters. It's incredible to think that Yacht Club Games has been working on the original game and its expansions for over half a decade, but it's clear that their skills as game developers have only gotten better and better, and whatever they move on to next will be a game worth waiting for. Best Genre Mash-Up: Creature in the Well There are actually a few notable genre mash-ups on this list, but I have to give credit to Creature in the Well for being the most inventive one. A hack 'n' slash dungeon exploration with pinball mechanics is undeniably original, and best of all it's a blast to play as well. The game combines the simple satisfaction of a pinball game with the addictive drive of a dungeon crawler, keeping you well invested in exploring every corner of the game's world. It's great to see that developers are still able to come up with such surprising and fun gameplay mechanics as Creature in the Well. The Biggest Pikachu Award: Pokémon Sword & Shield Pokémon's leap to a home console system might not have been the game-changer that fans were hoping for, but it did have some big additions. Puns aside, Pokémon Sword & Shield does add some fun new features, most notably the Wild Area which is about as close to an open-world Pokémon experience as we've seen yet and makes the Pokémon catching process feel a little more natural and free. Of course, there are also areas where Sword & Shield feel like a step back for the franchise, but there's no denying the excitement of Dynamaxing a Pokémon in the middle of a packed stadium full of cheering fans. Best Advance Wars Game: Wargroove Even though I love the Fire Emblem series and its newfound success in recent years, I can't deny that I'm sorely disappointed that developer Intelligent Systems seems to have entirely abandoned the Advance Wars franchise. Over ten years without a new game is certainly not a good sign, at any rate. So I was particularly delighted to see the similar grid-based strategy gameplay and sprite graphics of Chucklefish's Wargroove, a game that unabashedly wears its AW influence on its sleeve. That's not to say that Wargroove is merely a derivative game, though. There are plenty of unique mechanics to enjoy here, and the strategy gameplay is as wonderfully satisfying and engaging as the best that AW has to offer. Maybe we don't need a new AW title as long as Wargroove is keeping the spirit of the franchise alive. Cutest Game: Yoshi's Crafted World From Woolly to Crafted, Yoshi games can't help but be absolutely adorable. It should be little surprise, considering the franchise started with the unique crayon aesthetic of Yoshi's Island, but Yoshi's Crafted World ups the ante with an entire craft store's worth of materials to build the scenery of this adventure. The visuals are totally charming, and even if the core gameplay hasn't changed much over the years, it's still an engaging—if easy—platformer. And it makes Yoshi's adventure particularly suited to young gamers, even for a company known for making family-friendly titles. Best Card Game: SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech I couldn't have been more excited to see developer Image & Form was finally tackling a SteamWorld RPG, and the fact that combat was card-based only further piqued my imagination. After all, if there's one developer that knows how to make unusual gameplay concepts work, it's Image & Form. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. The card-based battles are wonderfully engaging and offer a wealth of strategies without being overwhelming, which makes every battle action-packed and addictive. Add in a rich RPG story—one with far more depth than any previous Image & Form title—and SteamWorld Quest becomes an absolutely unmissable Switch title for 2019. Most Stylish Game: Astral Chain If there's one thing you can say about Platinum Games titles, it's that they have style. Of course, they also have wonderfully rich combat systems that put all those stylish graphics and attacks to great use, and Astral Chain takes things one step further with its unique dual-character combat. Like so many Platinum games, the real joy of the experience is not just defeating enemies but doing it with panache, and chaining attacks between your human character and his or her Legion is wonderfully satisfying. Even if the story in Astral Chain feels a little underused, there's no denying the addictive depth of the combat system. Best Use of Music: Ape Out Note that this award isn't for best music (although the game does have a fantastic soundtrack) but specifically for use of music, because Ape Out features a brilliant "reactive music system" that essentially allows you to create your own improvised jazz number through your actions in the game. Every time you grab an enemy and throw them into a wall you're treated to a satisfying cymbal crash. As your panicked dash through the laboratory speeds up, so does the soundtrack's tempo. It's an awfully clever way of integrating the music into the gameplay, and combined with Ape Out's stylish graphics and addictive gameplay, makes the game a true standout for the year. Best Mario Luigi Game: Luigi's Mansion 3 It’s always a treat to see Luigi take center stage over his brother. Even after having an entire year dedicated to him a while ago, Luigi still manages to get stuck on balloon duty while Mario is on a globe trotting adventure. But with Luigi’s Mansion 3, the mean green machine is back in the player one seat, and this time he’s even brought along another Luigi to help him. This latest ghost-busting adventure finds a nice balance of new and old for a fun-filled adventure that is more silly than spooky—a perfect continuation of Luigi’s solo adventures. Catching ghosts and collecting cash remains as charming a game formula as ever, and this hopefully won’t be the last we see of the Poltergust. Most Delightful Crossover Game: Cadence of Hyrule I can't imagine there are many things more exciting, as a game developer, than getting the chance to work on one of Nintendo's biggest franchises. And not just work on it, but to put your own unique style and spin on it, and have the resulting combination work so beautifully. Cadence of Hyrule meshes the world and charm of Zelda with the addictive, rhythmic gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer in a way that feels totally natural and yet delightfully unique as well. The fact that the soundtracks of both franchises are brilliantly combined and remixed by composer Danny Baranowsky is just icing on the cake. It's a real treat to see a Zelda adventure through the lens of another gameplay style, and hopefully Cadence of Hyrule leads to other unique Nintendo crossovers in the future. Best Digital Toy Box: Super Mario Maker 2 How do you improve upon a creative toy box of user-generated content? Add cat suits. Super Mario Maker 2 does a fantastic job of building upon the course creation insanity of the first game with the addition of plenty of new features, including a Super Mario 3D World theme (and hopefully more themes in the future…?). It's also a real testament to how fun the essential building blocks of a Mario game are that literally anyone can come up with fun, inventive levels to play. Nintendo easily could have slapped a bit of new paint on Super Mario Maker and released it on the Switch to widespread success, so it's great to see how much effort went into making Super Mario Maker 2 feel like a worthy sequel with a wide selection of creative content. Most Satisfyingly Difficult Game: Cuphead Forget the dark and horrific scenery and monsters of games like Dark Souls—the best setting for an incredibly difficult game is clearly 1930s animation. The rest of the world may have been enjoying (and tearing their hair out about) Cuphead for a couple of years now, but Switch fans have only recently had a chance to die hundreds of times in an attempt to fight an overgrown flower. What Cuphead does so well though is keeping the experience fun and engaging even when it is so challenging. The gorgeous animation and audio is a big part of that, but regardless, Cuphead makes super-difficult boss fights incredibly fun—and, of course, incredibly satisfying once you finally beat them. Best Surprise: Collection of Mana Seiken Densetsu 3: one of the white whales of gaming localization, an SNES RPG that never made it outside of Japan, despite, seemingly, the strong success of its predecessor, Secret of Mana. Well, it may have taken over twenty years, but fans finally got the chance to experience the game (now called Trials of Mana) as part of the Collection of Mana, a must-have Switch game for fans of classic action-RPGs. To finally get the chance to play Trials of Mana in a properly localized English version was easily a highlight of this year's E3. And who knows, maybe we'll soon finally see a localization for another popular third entry in a classic RPG franchise… Most Immersive Game: Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Horror games only really work when you allow yourself to be immersed in the setting. You can't just be a passive participant, otherwise the scares and atmosphere won't have any impact. You have to put yourself into the mind of the main character, and never has that been more appropriate than with Senua, whose head is already filled with other presences. When you fully immerse yourself into the setting and story of Hellblade, the effect is a truly unique gaming experience thanks to the incredible care and detail that the developers put into building an adventure around someone suffering from psychosis. It's an unparalleled experience. Best Psychedelic Rhythm Game: Sayonara Wild Hearts It's so much easier to get drawn in by a rhythm game that uses songs you already know since the game can use the emotional investment you already have to keep you engaged with the gameplay. So it's particularly impressive that Sayonara Wild Hearts, with its original soundtrack, can create such a deeply mesmerizing experience that keeps the songs in your head for days. That's not even to mention the fact that the game is so short, and yet still manages to pack so much energy and soul into its delightfully surreal visuals and infectious music. It's easily one of the most unique games of the year, not just in terms of its style and aesthetic but in the way it connects to the player through an interactive emotional journey, and that easily makes it a must-play title for the Switch. Best Goose Game: Untitled Goose Game Maybe the more appropriate award for this one would be "Most Meme-able Game," since it seems like half of Untitled Goose Game's appeal is in its widespread internet popularity. But even without the incredible amount of memes and jokes surrounding the goose, this is a ridiculously charming and charmingly ridiculous take on stealth gameplay, one that has you mildly annoying and inconveniencing people instead of murdering rooms full of guards. It's also a perfect example of the fact that you don't need exhaustive gameplay mechanics if you've got personality. Honk. The "Punk's Not Dead" Award: Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Travis Strikes Again probably wasn't what people really expected in a new No More Heroes game, but there's no denying that it has Suda51's distinct sense of style. Off-kilter characters, 4th wall breaking meta humor, and one incredibly bizarre premise for a story ensure Travis Strikes Again has all the flavor of a No More Heroes title, even if the gameplay has traded third-person action for top-down hack'n'slash combat. Perhaps more importantly for some fans though, this game ensures that the No More Heroes series isn't dead yet, and we can look forward to another adventure through the garden of madness next year. Best Remake: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening This version of Link's Awakening definitely gives Yoshi's Crafted World a run for its money on the Cutest Game award, but the best aspect is probably just that this is a fantastic remake of a classic game. The core experience is perfectly preserved, but there's enough new content to make the adventure still feel fresh. Plus there are some invaluable adjustments like making certain items always equipped that just makes the flow of the game smoother. The game's strikingly cute visual style may be the first thing to jump out at players when starting up Link's Awakening, but it's the classic Zelda gameplay and quietly heartfelt story that leave the real impact. Most Confounding Puzzle Game: Baba Is You You know that feeling when you've been stumped by a particularly tricky puzzle, and then eventually something clicks in your mind, the pieces fall into place, and you're left with an eminently satisfying sense of accomplishment? That's basically every level of Baba Is You, an almost maddeningly complex puzzle game that has you rewriting the rules of the game in order to reach the goal. Pushing words around allows you to make walls no obstacle at all, or turn deadly lava into a harmless splotch of color. Baba Is You is incredibly clever, so clever that you'll often be tearing your hair out trying to find a solution. But when you do, that's when Baba is best. Game of the Year 2019: Fire Emblem: Three Houses I know, I know, I'm a big Fire Emblem fan so it's not much of a surprise that this would be my pick for Game of the Year. But Three Houses isn't skating by simply on its name. This is a massive game, and one that proves to be wonderfully addictive from the first minute to the last. The huge emphasis on interacting with characters outside of battle is something of a logical progression for the series, even if it does seem a little strange at first to spend so much time not actually fighting. But the huge cast of likeable characters quickly alleviates that feeling, and you'll find yourself invested in these characters' backstories and interactions, from the comical to the dramatic. The core combat system features only minor changes, but there's no need to fix what isn't broken, and instead Three Houses simply refines the addictive combat mechanics that make Fire Emblem so engaging playthrough after playthrough (particularly appropriate here, with three different paths available). Strategy RPGs may not be for everyone, but when they're this good everyone should at least give Three Houses a try—you might end up addicted to a 100+ hour game like me.
  23. After hitting the ground running with a stellar first year, the Swtich seems to have become port central, with tons of games originally released on other platforms getting a fresh start on Nintendo's hybrid system. A lot of these ports are high-profile titles, but every now and then a surprising little game will slip in as well—though in this case, the game also had the benefit of extensive screen time on Nintendo's E3 Treehouse stream! New Super Lucky's Tale from developer Playful Studios draws clear inspiration from the classic 3D platformers of yesteryear with colorful critter characters, tons of collectibles, and plenty of platforming challenges. It's a gameplay style that still feels timeless, though Lucky may not be bringing many new ideas to the table. You play as Lucky, a brave young fox who is assisting his older sister protect the Book of Ages, a powerful magical artifact. When a nefarious cat named Jinx attempts to steal the book, Lucky is pulled into the universe of the book and must traverse various worlds to collect missing pages before Jinx's gang, the Kitty Litter, is able to get their hands on them. It's a classic good guy/bad guy adventure, and even if it feels a bit cliché it should be perfect for the kid-friendly audience that the game is clearly geared toward—kids will certainly love the simple, silly puns and humor as much as we all did in games like Donkey Kong 64 or Banjo-Kazooie. As already mentioned, Lucky's Tale is structured in pretty much classic 3D platformer fashion—across multiple worlds you'll jump into individual levels with the main goal of reaching the end, plus three side goals which will earn you additional pages. There's some great level variety at work here: some levels are fully 3D and let you explore at your pace, some are side-scrolling, and a few operate under unique control schemes, including bonus levels where you might need to solve sliding block puzzles or navigate a maze by tilting the scenery. What Lucky's Tale definitely does well is keeping things compact. There's a lot to see in each world but it never feels overwhelming or drawn out—the levels are just long enough to keep things engaging and varied without overdoing it. There are also some fun challenges created around Lucky's limited moveset, which notably includes burrowing through the ground to uncover hidden objects or slip under fences. The mix of 3D and side-scrolling levels also helps to keep each level feeling fresh, even if the core gameplay is still clearly built around the typical tropes and challenges of 3D platforming. This is also a fairly short game, or at the very least it's not the same kind of experience as huge collect-a-thon platformers. There are just five worlds (plus a bonus post-game world) and you don't even need to complete every level in a world in order to unlock the boss fight and progress. If you wanted to zip right through the adventure, it's only a few hours long. Of course, this type of game is made for 100% completion players, so you can expect a decent six or eight hours to collect everything the game offers. That still feels a little on the short side but the trade-off is few levels of fluff or padding. That said, Lucky's Tale also has a few problematic quirks. Camera angles can be a little funky at times, notably during boss fights when it's even more important to ensure you have a clear perspective on where you're moving and jumping to avoid attacks. Lucky's moves in the side-scrolling levels can be a little tricky as well. These stages generally require a bit more precision than their 3D cousins, but Lucky's double jump and particularly his burrowing movement can feel a little imprecise. Thankfully extra lives are pretty plentiful in Lucky's Tale so you're unlikely to run out completely. In fact, even with these small control quirks the game is quite easy—again, clearly aiming at a younger crowd—so a few awkward deaths thanks to the controls isn't terrible, but it is annoying. Lucky's Tale also has some slight performance issues on the Switch. For one thing, load times are just a bit too long for comfort, particularly on the short puzzle levels that can be completed in under 30 seconds but then you have to sit through a lengthy load screen before and after. The game's frame rate is also not quite as smooth as it should be. Frame rate dips aren't too common though, and thankfully never interfered with the gameplay, but they were noticeable. Even if the game has some technical hiccups, the actual art style of the game is delightful. In the same way that the gameplay doesn't necessarily push the medium of 3D platformers forward, the visuals don't seem to be doing anything particularly new or unique. That's okay though, 'cause Lucky and his friends are still pretty adorable, as is the Kitty Litter gang. And although there are few stand out moments or scenes, the background design for each stage is still pretty fun. The music isn't half bad either, and definitely captures the vibe of late 90s/early 00s 3D platformers, though, again, there aren't likely any tracks you'll keep humming after the game is over. New Super Lucky's Tale relies upon some tried and true platforming mechanics to deliver a charming, pleasant little adventure. The game clearly skews toward a young audience which means there are few truly engaging challenges and it may not have the same depth as similar 3D platformers, but that doesn't make Lucky's adventure any less enjoyable. Anyone looking for a quick, light, cute platformer should be well satisfied with New Super Lucky's Tale. Rating: 7 out of 10 Tales
  24. 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
  25. Nintendo eShop sales: Save on Indies – For a limited time, get up to 40% off select digital indie games in Nintendo eShop. Check out the full list of deals available this week at https://www.nintendo.com/games/sales-and-deals. From heart-warming stories to action-packed adventures, there’s something for everyone this holiday. Click here to check out the best-selling indie games that came out during 2019 on Nintendo Switch. Also new this week in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch: 2048 CAT Akuto: Showdown Arcade Archives VS. BALLOON FIGHT – Available Dec. 27 Demon Pit Deponia Doomsday Goodbye Deponia Gunma’s Ambition -You and me are Gunma- Pulstario Roll’d Roombo: First Blood Sheep Patrol
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