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System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: March 3, 2017
Developer: SFB Games
Publisher Nintendo


In most cases I find it exhausting when reviews for launch games go on and on about the new piece of hardware it’s on. With that said, it’s unavoidable to mention how well suited Snipperclips is to the modularity and modes of the Switch and its Joy-Con. On top of being an excellent puzzle game on its own, Snipperclips is the Switch’s premier local multiplayer showcase.

System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: February 16, 2017
Developer: Vitei / Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo


Tank Troopers is strong in many of the same ways Steel Diver was good, so it wasn’t surprising to see that Vitei (the developer that assisted development on that title) made this. Comparing a game’s strengths to the infamously barebones 3DS launch title isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, and for as many strengths it shares, those weaknesses are also present – even if to a lesser extent. There’s just not a lot of stuff to do, even if it does have some of the dichotomy of cutesy war charm of the World War I dogfighting game Snoopy Flying Ace.

System: Wii U (reviewed) / 3DS eShops
Release date: February 9, 2017
Developer: Ratalaika Games / VaragtP
Publisher Ratalaika Games


Have you ever played Cookie Clicker or one of its hundreds of clones? Planetra is one of those idle games, now on your Wii U and 3DS. You harvest fruit, berries, eggs, manure – the whole gambit of things that come out of a farm, for gold. More gold means investing more resources into the farm. More resources yields larger quantities of produce to sell for yet more gold. Watching numbers tick up at a growing pace then releases dopamine in your brain.

System: Wii U
Release date: December 20, 2016
Developer: WayForward
Publisher WayForward


I’ve never been the biggest fan of Shantae games. In terms of presentation, they’ve always been top notch. With level design, I’ve always found them to be a little bit basic at best and a trudge of back-and-forth at worst. With Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, WayForward has done an impressive job remedying my faults with past entries. It definitely has its share of fetch-quest trade-sequence padding, but thanks to a revised game structure, this didn’t bother me as much as it might have on paper.

System: Wii U / New 3DS eShops (reviewed)
Release date: October 20, 2016
Developer: dadako
Publisher 13AM Games


If you’ve ever played Pang, you will understand the basics of Pirate Pop Plus. In an enclosed box you run around on a 2D plane launching an anchor chain and popping bouncing bubbles in an arcade style score attack manner. The biggest differentiator in this spin of the formula is the anti gravity mechanic. As gravity shifts, so does the physics and it provides a surprising opportunity for extra depth and strategy.

System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: October 13, 2016
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher Aksys Games


As the brief opening movie explains, a cold case is when the trail of evidence in a crime investigation has gone cold. Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~, aside from having a mouthful of a title, is a visual novel following two detectives working in the Tokyo Police Department. The setup is that the case of a five year old murder deemed an accident is reopened after an anonymous phone call to the Cold Case Unit.

System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: September 22, 2016
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Publisher DrinkBox Studios


Severed is a really interesting experiment in nabbing some popular mobile game mechanics and fleshing them out into a unique dungeon-crawling RPG with combat that plays out more rhythmically than statistically. Really, Severed takes a bunch of concepts and fuses them together in a very fun way. It’s hard to compare it to any one game in particular, but easy to see the little bits and pieces of inspiration it grabbed from here and there.

System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: September 8, 2016
Developer: Capcom
Publisher Capcom


I won’t dance around saying that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is kind of a mess, albeit a lovable one. If you think too hard about the overall plot, setting aside a few genuinely good and surprising twists, it’s full of laughably bad inconsistencies and weak writing choices. However, if you shut that part of your brain off – the one that checks for internal consistency – and focus on the moment-to-moment mystery plot and absurdity of what unfolds in these courtrooms, then it’s a much better experience. In other words, Spirit of Justice is yet another Ace Attorney game made in the absence of series creator Shu Takumi.

System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: September 1, 2016
Developer: Thomas Happ
Publisher Thomas Happ


When I think of the first Metroid on the NES, images of disorienting palette swapped vertical shafts with ascending and interlocking platforms connected into a webwork by horizontally scrolling rooms with enemies waiting in ambush from underground lava pools comes to mind. The imagery is distinct, but without a map it’s all very disorienting. Admittedly, I have never really played more than a few hours of Metroid. It was way before my time, and having first played Super Metroid with all of its advancements, there’s no reason for most people to go back to it beyond nostalgia and historical significance. Even with my relatively limited experience, I can tell that Axiom Verge was made out of a love and understanding of the original Metroid. However, it does more than just pay homage and instead creates mechanics and surprises with its clear admiration and understanding of Metroid as a jumping off point.

System: 3DS
Release date: June 28, 2016
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher Aksys Games


To start our review, if you’re already a fan of the Zero Escape series, then I recommend that you stop reading beyond this paragraph. Zero Time Dilemma is very much a new Zero Escape game, despite some alterations to the formula. I won’t spoil anything in the review, but I do recommend going in knowing as little as possible if you can help it. If you enjoyed Zero Time Dilemma’s predecessors, then you’ll feel right at home here, even with the slightly revised formula.