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Reviews

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.

Risen review

System: Switch
Release date: January 24, 2023
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: THQ Nordic


Risen is a peculiar beast. This action RPG originally graced our consoles back in 2009, where it served as something of an amalgamation of various different western franchises. It featured moral conundrums akin to Mass Effect, a lush open world reminiscent of Fable, and systems that wouldn’t seem out of place in an Elder Scrolls title. The game has garnered a bit of a cult following across the community since its original release (and the release of its two sequels). With Risen’s arrival on Switch – along with the measured benefit of hindsight – have THQ Nordic and Piranha Bytes graced us with a hidden RPG gem? Or has age diminished the game’s quirky, ethereal appeal?

System: Switch
Release Date: February 2, 2023
Developer: ISVR
Publisher: Astrolabe Games


Active DBG: Brave’s Rage is a little misleading. With cute characters and popping colors, what I expected to be a walk in the park pocket RPG is actually a grueling system that takes time and significant effort to master. Fast-paced fights coupled with roguelite mechanics makes for a bit of a steep learning curve, but the tutorial’s combat and defensive basics are drilled early – and there’s a reason you’re forced to play the tutorial when first starting the game: you need to learn these mechanics. You need to know all of the tools in your arsenal to make it through and come out victorious. The “perfect block” is especially useful in aiding survivability, but is that alone enough to get your champion(s) through with their lives?

SpongeBob SquarePants Cosmic Shake review

System: Switch
Release date: January 31, 2023
Developer: Purple Lamp
Publisher: THQ Nordic


Of all the platforming juggernauts that come to mind when I recall the early 2000s, SpongeBob SquarePants is not among them. In 2020, THQ released a remake of Battle for Bikini Bottom – a 2003 game in every sense of the word. After selling over two million copies, it landed us with an all new spiritual sequel to that game in the form of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. The main hurdle this sequel has to overcome is being unshackled from the weapons-grade nostalgia that propelled its predecessor to success. To be fair to The Cosmic Shake, this is a difficult act to follow. How exactly do you craft a follow-up to a remake of a twenty year old game? Developer Purple Lamp has two decades of platformers to draw inspiration from, and the one it chooses to wear on its sleeve is unfortunately the remake that preceded it.

Persona 4 Golden review Switch

System: Switch
Release Date: January 19, 2023
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus


Releasing originally on the PlayStation 2 in 2008, Persona 4’s small town of Inaba is not unlike my own home town. A small, sleepy community with one grocery store, one gas station, and if you drive by it and blink, you might miss the town altogether. Small communities are generally safe, right? Moving there, one might feel secure leaving their doors unlocked, with no real worries about what could happen while you run to the convenience store. Inaba, though, has a murderer on the loose – one that seems to kill through very non-traditional means. First, a local TV personality, and next a teenage student… Is anyone safe anymore in Inaba? How does one catch a killer that leaves no trace of their crime? Why do the victims show up beforehand on the eerie Midnight Channel when it rains? Why are students being targeted in the first place? Persona 4 Golden’s murder mystery has many layers, and by taking control of our Protagonist and his friends can we really solve this situation and save the lives of those targeted?

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion review

System: Switch
Release Date: December 13, 2022
Developer: Square Enix / Tose
Publisher: Square Enix


In the 25 years since Final Fantasy VII originally graced PlayStations around the world, this monumental RPG has amassed a legacy that few other games have, and has fittingly been rereleased on a wide range of platforms; it is still, even today, the best-selling entry in the Final Fantasy series of all time. The same can’t quite be said for its many spin-offs, which have typically been trapped on their original systems, but that changes with the launch of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion. Once a PSP-exclusive, this action-combat title serves as a comprehensive prequel to the events of the original game, and its remastered version attempts to bring the visuals closer to the style of the recent Final Fantasy VII Remake. But how does this enhanced version of a 15-year-old game hold up on Switch?

Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet review

System: Switch
Release Date: November 18, 2022
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo


After impressively selling over ten million copies in just three days, trainers around the world have been exploring Generation 9’s new Paldea region in Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet. With a completely different open-world and open-choice approach to the longstanding and rather traditional series formula, the new games aren’t afraid to break the mold. How does this completely different take on Pokemon work out for the modern player, not to mention series veterans that have been around since before Pokemon GO took the world by storm? Diving into our own journey across Paldea, what will we find? As always, a world where dreams, adventure, and friendships await, of course.

Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom review

System: Switch
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Developer: Marvelous
Publisher: Bandai Namco


Over the last few years, life and farm sims have been steadily growing in popularity and, with critically acclaimed titles such as Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons also on Switch, standing out amongst the crowd is a difficult thing to do. If there is any franchise equipped to do this in modern times, however, it would be Story of Seasons – one of the oldest and largest farm sim series that has been around since the SNES, and has seen several installments as well as spin-offs such as Rune Factory over its lifetime. Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is another such offshoot, taking the traditional Story of Seasons gameplay and blending it with the world of Doraemon, which is an extremely iconic franchise in Japan. But is this a match made in heaven?

Sonic Frontiers review

System: Switch
Release Date: November 8, 2022
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: SEGA


How can a game that is so messy, so bloated, and so technically inadequate be so much fun? That is the question that I’ve been wrestling with throughout my playthrough of Sonic Frontiers, SEGA’s latest attempt (of which there have been many) to try and revitalize the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and introduce the Blue Blur to both new and lapsed fans. It’s Sonic’s first true open world (or open zone) game, and with that comes a lot of interesting ideas to attempt to reinvent the structure of what a Sonic game can be. But while Frontiers can be a blast at times, it also constantly gets in its own way at almost every turn, hindered by poor visual performance, bloated mechanics and bland world design that lacks a unique identity.

Bayonetta 3 review

System: Switch
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Developer: PlatinumGames
Publisher: Nintendo


The wait for Bayonetta 3 has been a long one as fans have been waiting since the reveal of its logo at The Game Awards in 2017. Though we’ve had the previous entries ported over to Switch to play, the latest addition to the series is finally here in what feels like a fever dream. Bayonetta has had long gaps in between each game, but each entry of gaming’s most powerful witch has been well worth the wait, with Bayonetta 3 being no different. The excellence in storytelling, gameplay, theatrics, and PlatinumGames’ signature hack-and-slash mastery improves with each, and while Bayonetta 3 is just under what Bayonetta 2 achieved in 2014, it’s still is a masterful title in a league of its own, held back only by the aging hardware it finds itself restricted to.


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