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Star Wars Battlefront Classic Collection review

System: Switch
Release date: March 14, 2024
Developer: Aspyr
Publisher: Aspyr

Back in the early to mid 2000s, Star Wars games were everywhere. Opening your bedroom window was enough to illicit an invading swarm of new software set in a galaxy far far away. Despite the influx of combat adventure games, kart racers (Super Bombad Racing, anyone?) and film adaptations, it was Pandemic Software’s Battlefront series that rose above the rest for nostalgic old sods like myself. The opportunity to freely explore movie-accurate locations and do lots of shooting in them was novel, and the original two games in the series were evidently made with a whole lot of love. While Pandemic themselves (and the Battlefront series) may be a distant memory for most, Aspyr has packaged those original two titles into a single collection for Switch known as the Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection – and the resulting experience is a bit of a mixed bag.

Penny's Big Breakaway review

System: Switch
Release date: February 21, 2024
Developer: Evening Star
Publisher: Private Division

When the initial reveal trailer for Penny’s Big Breakaway debuted last year, it felt like the stars were aligning. Here was a small development team of die-hard platformer fans delivering a wholly original IP, fresh off the back of crafting Sonic Mania for SEGA. Killer looks along with subtle, stylish nods to their prior work enamored a clamoring and captious demographic. Even as a relatively new team, developer Evening Star has prestige streaming from their ears, and an expectant fan base to go along with it. Now the game has finally dropped, and the resulting experience might not be all we had held our breath for.

WarioWare Move It review

System: Switch
Release date: November 3, 2023
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo

One of the most encouraging things about WarioWare as a franchise, is that it’s always just been like that. Seriously – go back and play 2003’s original entry (which you can enjoy via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass), and you’ll see every bit of the quirky and offbeat charm that the series still exudes today, fully formed at its point of origin. Multiple entries across every Nintendo platform since the GBA haven’t dulled the appeal of playing rapid-fire five-second microgames in quick succession. Now we get a traditional WarioWare outing in the form of Warioware: Move It on Switch. A direct continuation of the motion-based waggle-fest that was WarioWare: Smooth Moves on the Wii, this one sees Wario and co. whisked away to an island resort to, let’s face it, just play a bunch of minigames.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged review

System: Switch
Release date: October 19, 2023
Developer: Milestone
Publisher: Milestone

Developer Milestone knows racing games. You may not be familiar with their name, but you’ve definitely at least seen one of their titles before. From the SBK Superbike series of the 00s, through to the thoroughly enjoyable Ride games of the 2010s, Milestone are as synonymous with tires on asphalt as they are with hot dinners. Despite this, 2019’s Hot Wheels Unleashed ultimately ended up a slightly messy affair – plenty of content, but the core experience was lacking in refinement. Fast forward to 2023, and Milestone is back with Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged – an unwieldy name, but is it an equally unwieldy sequel?

MythForce review

System: Switch
Release date: September 12, 2023
Developer: Beamdog
Publisher: Aspyr

Booting up MythForce on Switch, and the first thing you’re met with is an uncomfortably long loading screen. After that, you’re treated to an animated intro that aims to mimic Saturday morning cartoons of the 80s – think “Thundercats” and “He-Man, Masters of the Universe”. It’s cute enough to induce a smile the first time around, but if you look past the nearly 40-year old stylistic veneer and the cheesy theme tune, you’re left with a game that sadly doesn’t know what to do with itself. It’s as though developer Beamdog started with the concept of a cartoon co-op rogue-lite, and then carried it through to its most saccharine, predictable conclusion.

System: Switch
Release date: August 29, 2023
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA

Look, I don’t want to seem ungrateful – but out of all of the franchises SEGA could have thawed from cryo-sleep in 2023, Samba de Amigo was not the one I would have expected. The fan-favorite rhythm action celebration of Latin American music and culture last graced our consoles a whopping 15 years ago, and even that was just a Wii port of an even older title. Nevertheless, SEGA has seen fit to resurrect the franchise with a brand new entry exclusive to Switch, and they’ve even attached series creator Shun Nakamura as the game’s director and producer. You would hope that this pedigree coupled with the the console’s maraca-adjacent control method would result in a pleasantly breezy party-game smash – the reality however, is anything but with Samba de Amigo: Party Central.

We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie review

System: Switch
Release date: June 2, 2023
Developer: Bandai Namco / Monkey Craft
Publisher: Bandai Namco

Sometimes, the biggest challenge we face as reviewers is in describing simple concepts – take Katamari, for instance. You play as a tiny green man called the Prince, and you’re tasked with rolling around a comically large and sticky ball. You navigate contained levels with the aim of rolling stuff up into that ball, and growing larger as a result. It sounds closer to a cheese-dream than a compelling gameplay loop, doesn’t it? Despite the outlandish premise, Bandai Namco’s Katamari series has garnered a sizable fanbase over the last two decades. While us super-fans collectively pine for a brand new entry in the series, a re-release of the franchise’s phenomenal second outing We Love Katamari has found its way into our lives courtesy of developer Monkey Craft. Out of all of the base expectations you can have for a remake or a remaster, matching or exceeding the original title in every metric is paramount. When it comes to We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie, we get a couple of hits, and a whole bunch of misses.

Historically speaking, I’m someone who has long turned my nose up at the industry practice of repackaging something old and passing it off as new. In my mind, the best games have always been transformative experiences that focus on innovating – whether via a new IP in a familiar genre, or an established franchise being taken in an unexpected direction (or, heaven forbid, something new entirely). Even before remakes became the game industry’s golden goose, the deluge of seen-it-before sequels and risk averse, rinse and repeat game design had me reasonably fatigued with the state of things. When I consider the games I have enjoyed the most over the last few months then, I’m scratching my head – because they’re all remakes.

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Session: Skate Sim review

System: Switch
Release date: March 9, 2023
Developer: Crea-ture Studios
Publisher: Nacon

For a lapsed real-world skateboarder like myself, Session: Skate Sim is a sobering reality check. Back in 2020, Activision’s Tony Hawk’s remake momentarily convinced me that I had the skills to recommit to the sport – that within a few weeks I’d be busting out Tre Flips with the best of them. If only I had been given access to Session: Skate Sim back then, so that I could be brought back down to earth and reminded of just how achingly difficult skateboarding really is. Upon casting your eye over Session for the first time, you may be fooled into thinking that it follows in the footsteps of EA’s Skate franchise. In reality this game is to Skate what actually going outside and skateboarding is to sitting on the couch and thinking about it. It’s incredibly hard. Session: Skate Sim comes to us Switch owners at the end of a long Early Access run on other platforms. Following years of iterative patches and improvements, the game has now reached its version 1.0 milestone. Unfortunately, the game we’ve been landed with feels anything but finished.

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PowerWash Simulator review

System: Switch
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Developer: FuturLab
Publisher: Square Enix

At various points during my time with FutureLab and Square Enix’s PowerWash Simulator, I was struck by a sort of banal existential dilemma. During these episodes of clairvoyance, I’d become blisteringly aware of the fact that in the only physical lifetime I will ever have – in my one and single corporeal opportunity – I was opting to blast a digital stream of H2O across a fictional individual’s RV/bungalow/penny farthing. Did these sudden jolts of awareness drive me to get up and do something “worthwhile” with my time instead? No, no they didn’t. PowerWash Simulator has its hooks in me now, and I’m shackled to these blue overalls by a mix of catharsis and compulsion – but boy does it feel so good. Truth be told, this isn’t even a new development. I’ve been a slave to the machinations of the game’s grubby world since it originally launched into Steam’s Early Access model. Valve’s digital storefront seemingly recognized how dull of an individual I am, and algorithmically shoved the game in my face on the day of its release – so that was my original date of incarceration. With the game now arriving triumphantly on Switch, it feels like PowerWash Simulator has reached its final form. It’s ready to engulf your attention in ways we haven’t seen since paid actors sat slack-jawed in front of SNES’s during 90s video game commercials.

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