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Reviews

System: Switch
Release date: August 28, 2020
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Bandai Namco


Having initially released in 2019 on other platforms, Jump Force would have been one of Bandai Namco’s last games that I figured would get ported to the Switch. Given its massive and almost realistic approach to anime characters that had conflicting art styles, when it was announced one had to wonder how a game with the graphics, intensity, and speed would even be able to properly run. Jump Force also initially felt like a step back from the previous celebration of iconic anime franchises in J-Stars Victory VS, as Jump Force not only had a smaller roster at launch, but from fewer franchises represented. Despite this, however, over a year and a half later, Jump Force Deluxe Edition on Switch brings with it the entire character roster including plenty of DLC for one unified package.

System: Switch
Release date: September 8, 2020
Developer: Kadokawa
Publisher: NIS America


When RPG Maker Fes came out on 3DS years ago and I had the pleasure of reviewing it, I spent countless hours creating short titles as I learned the basics of game development in an intuitive fashion. Being able to not only create, but share your work with others while having a seemingly endless supply of content made it a consistently great time for those that wanted to play simple experiences on-the-go. Even better, despite its name, RPG Maker lends itself nicely other sorts of genres as well. RPG Maker MV on Switch now sees the application migrate to Nintendo’s newest platform. Despite having one less screen, the system lends itself well as a creative canvas to see video game ideas come to life with a retro aesthetic.

System: Switch
Release date: August 25, 2020
Developer: Metronomik
Publisher: Sold Out


No Straight Roads is a prime example of a game that is more than the sum of its parts. Its gameplay may be decent at best for the most part, but its constant explosion of beautiful art, vibrant colors, and glorious music make it an overall unforgettable experience that needs to be played firsthand to be fully appreciated. This makes it all the more unfortunate that its aesthetics are heavily compromised in its Switch version, sullying its single greatest selling point.

System: Switch
Release date: August 25, 2020
Developer: Atelier Mimina
Publisher: NIS America


With how things are in 2020, video games have become more popular than ever, and even more so the ones that can help us escape and relax, be free from trouble, and still illicit exploration filled with joy and wonder. These kinds of titles have become somewhat of a safe haven for me. Games like Animal Crossing can personally help cope with all that’s been happening as of late, and now Giraffe and Annika adds itself to the list of releases made for escapism in the purest sense.

System: Switch
Release date: August 4, 2020
Developer: Finish Line Games
Publisher: Modus Games


Skully is a 3D platformer that struggles to get the ball rolling on Switch. It might remind Nintendo fans of early N64 platformers that experimented with what the genre could be. Skully keeps things simple but introduces a few new ideas that make it stand out from the platforming crowd. Unfortunately for Switch players, it looks like it belongs on the N64, too. Skully is a perfectly enjoyable little game with appealing art direction and some inventive mechanics, but it’s let down by an extremely lackluster Switch port.

System: Switch
Release date: July 14, 2020
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America


void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium can feel as overwhelming as its full name. It is a touching narrative of hope and perseverance, about the power of human connections amid uncertainty. Yet at the same time, it is a blisteringly difficult and infuriatingly random roguelike, one that revels in placing insurmountable roadblocks in front of you at every step throughout its procedurally generated labyrinths. It is an inherently divisive game that is bound to hit home for some players, while alienating many others. Void Terrarium offers a beautiful and emotional experience for those who see its journey through to its conclusion, but getting there is a question of how much you’re willing to endure.

System: Switch
Release date: May 29, 2020
Developer: Monolith Soft
Publisher: Nintendo


It’s about time Xenoblade Chronicles got its definitive edition. Its original release at the tail end of the Wii’s life, exacerbated by the game’s staggered international releases, was far from ideal. Even if you got the chance to play the original, one couldn’t help but feel that Monolith Soft was pushing the Wii beyond what it should reasonably be doing. It was an open world JRPG that was a generation ahead of its time on hardware that was a generation behind the times. If you’re anything like me, you revel in watching developers push the technical boundaries of outdated hardware – but I could hardly blame anyone who struggled to embrace Xenoblade’s obvious visual compromises. Years later, the game was ported to New 3DS. Needless to say, while that version is its own kind of low-tech marvel, an even lower resolution screen with even further cut back visuals was far from the ideal way to experience the grand scope of Xenoblade’s world, where life flourishes on the standing corpses of two gods, with people and animal life existing on an almost unimaginably small bacterial scale. Finally, on a system at the height of its life, with revamped graphics – albeit visuals that are still a little soupy as has been characteristic of Monolith Soft’s Switch engine – Xenoblade is poised for success beyond its niche and scattered Wii evangelists.

System: Switch
Release date: July 7, 2020
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus


Atlus is one of the most consistent developers and publishers when it comes to providing unique and quality content thanks to its RPGs that have some of the best storytelling in gaming. Interestingly, even though the company is well-known within the industry and avid RPG fans, it still has a fair share of niche titles that always felt like they deserved more attention such as Trauma Center, Growlanser, and Etrian Odyssey – just to name a few. Even though it’s been re-released before, there’s a surprising amount of people I’ve spoken to that have never heard of or played the game, but now Catherine: Full Body on Switch gives the game another spot in the limelight. Fortunately, Catherine looks and feels better than ever before on Nintendo’s console in a way that feels like a perfect fit.

System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: June 25, 2020
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco


Mr. Driller DrillLand is a relic of a lost time. Initially released in 2002 on the GameCube in Japan, this classic entry in the Mr. Driller series is finally arriving in the rest of the world for the first time through this remastered release on Switch. It feels like a swansong to the classic arcade puzzle game formula – it has all the simplicity, penny-pinching difficulty, and endless addictive qualities that have made arcade games so memorable for decades, all polished up to perfection thanks to its immaculate audio-visual presentation and excellent gameplay variety. And with new HD visuals and a few modern adjustments in the Switch version, there’s never been a better time to dig in.

System: Switch
Release date: June 23, 2020
Developer: Purple Lamp
Publisher: THQ Nordic


SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom would seem like an unlikely candidate for a remastering (or a rehydration) considering that – to the credit of the original – it’s merely an above average licensed 3D platformer of the GameCube generation. These games have almost completely vanished, but for its time these games were everywhere. I have an especially vague sense of nostalgia with this game: I actually can’t remember if I played Battle for Bikini Bottom specifically or if it was any of the other countless similar SpongeBob games that were released in the half decade following it. To further complicate this nostalgia, Battle for Bikini Bottom doesn’t just evoke the other SpongeBob games of its generation, but games like the now-forgotten Tak and the Power of Juju (which, as an aside, one might say was a trailblazer in the modern video-game-to-failed-TV-series pipeline.) Put aside the modern visual overhaul of Rehydrated in the Unreal Engine, which is competent but less than optimal on the Switch, and the game seems frozen in time. Rehydrated still feels like a game from 2003, but with the relative rarity of its kind in 2020, it’s hardly worse for it.


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