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Endless Ocean Luminous review

System: Switch
Release date: May 2, 2024
Developer: Akira
Publisher: Nintendo

As thoroughly as humanity has managed to explore the surface of our planet up through the present day, it’s a well-known fact that the vast majority of Earth’s oceans remain unexplored. And while plenty of games have sought to make tangible the feeling of exploring an underwater realm, Nintendo’s Endless Ocean series remains one of only a handful that focuses on our planet’s biology first and foremost. It’s been over a decade since the last game in the series, Endless Ocean: Blue World, released on the Wii; that game has held a special place in my heart ever since, so I was excited to see Endless Ocean Luminous announced for the Switch. In some ways, it manages to bring the series forward in exactly the ways I had hoped – its expanded focus on multiplayer helps the sprawling seas feel a little more lively and dynamic, and enhanced controls and visuals make the act of exploring more pleasant than ever. Unfortunately, as an overall experience, Endless Ocean Luminous is a significant step backward from its predecessor in many ways, resulting in a package that feels significantly shallower than I had hoped.

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs review

System: Switch
Release date: May 9, 2024
Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Pac-Man has quite an extensive library of games available on Switch, and Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs is the latest entry in the series. Much like Pac-Man 99 that came before it, Chomp Champs is a battle royale-style elimination game where you go up against a large group of other players. Mega Tunnel Battle actually got its start on Google Stadia back in 2020, and Chomp Champs is an updated version of the game with cross-platform play included for the first time ever. The Deluxe version includes exclusive skins that you can use to customize your Pac-Man avatar – and even without the Deluxe version, you can still earn in-game currency that lets you unlock additional costumes and customization options.

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU review

System: Switch
Release date: April 23, 2024
Developer: Surgent Studios
Publisher: EA

As the latest title to be published under the EA Originals label, Tales of Kenzera: ZAU joins an interesting, eclectic collection of games of varying genres and quality. As the debut title of Surgent Studios it stands out as being particularly ambitious, jockeying for position in a genre already oversaturated with memorable and high quality titles, and it takes clear inspiration from some of the best out there and delivers its own unique spin on them. Unfortunately, these are the things that stop it from becoming all that it could be, and ultimately make it a game that is tough to recommend as a result.

Princess Peach Showtime review

System: Switch
Release date: March 22, 2024
Developer: Good Feel
Publisher: Nintendo

I’m not sure if Princess Peach has a rivalry with Kirby or something, but she’s picked up a shocking amount of skills in the nineteen years since her last solo game. In short order, Princess Peach: Showtime tasks the Mushroom Kingdom’s longstanding ruler with displaying all sorts of feats of talent, from figure skating to baking to lasso-wrangling – well, either that or she’s apparently a really good actress. Peach’s second-ever starring role is an approachable, varied, fast-paced adventure with plenty of memorable moments, and while it didn’t exactly leave me hoping for an encore, it’s refreshing playing a modern Mario-verse game that shines the spotlight on someone other than the plumber himself.

Pepper Grinder review

System: Switch
Release date: March 28, 2024
Developer: Ahr Ech
Publisher: Devolver Digital

Cute girls and giant drills are like the ultimate combination of adventure, cuteness, and the ability to get through just about anything. Pepper and Grinder are an incredible duo: a young pirate, Pepper has a dream to amass mountains of treasure. Her side arm and companion, Grinder, is just the one that can help her get it all done – able to blast right through the earth and find gold and gems galore. Together they make a pretty tough pair, but is their adventure worth all that sand?

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.

[Review] Unicorn Overlord

Posted on 3 months ago by in Reviews, Switch | 0 comments

Unicorn Overlord review

System: Switch
Release date: March 8, 2024
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus

It’s not very often you find a developer that is so truly passionate about their game that they will fund it out of their own pocket when the budget runs out, so determined are they to realize their creative vision that money ceases to be a factor. But this is par for the course for Vanillaware, who have delivered consistently excellent titles for over twenty years now. With Unicorn Overlord, a game ten years in the making, the company has crafted one of the most intricate, engaging, and mechanically dense tactical RPGs I’ve played in years.

Llamasoft The Jeff Minter Story review

System: Switch
Release date: March 13, 2024
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Digital Eclipse

There have been some outstanding documentaries about video games released over the past few years, chronicling the development of major games like Psychonauts 2 and The Last of Us at a level of transparency that is quite rare in the secretive modern industry landscape. And while I adore these types of projects, what better way is there to experience a slice of gaming history than by playing through it? Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story is the latest attempt at an interactive history lesson from developer Digital Eclipse, and this project focuses on telling the story of the rise of the studio behind classic score-chasers like Gridrunner and Tempest 2000. This package compiles over 40 of Jeff Minter’s programs – not all of them are games, interestingly – alongside a swath of video interviews and documents to pore over. While I didn’t find every piece of the package inherently interesting, overall this a great glimpse into the mind of one of gaming’s earliest avant-garde developers, and there’s plenty of fun to be had along the way.

Death of a Wish

System: Switch
Release date: March 11, 2024
Developer: melessthanthree
Publisher: melessthanthree

As I journeyed across the nightmarish, apocalyptic world of Death of a Wish, slaughtering through the countless waves of monstrosities that crossed protagonist Christian’s path, my journey to help him hunt down the forces that had decimated this place became a substantially more mysterious one than I had expected initially. This may be a combat-action game through and through, but beyond its narrow and polished gameplay focus lies a narrative web of opposing forces that’s just as compelling to untangle, even when the power of its relentlessly brooding atmosphere begins to fade. Death of a Wish is tightly-designed, fiendish action experience that rewards players who fully engage with its mechanics and world building, and despite some missed opportunities here and there, I enjoyed the time I spent with it.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley review

System: Switch
Release date: March 7, 2024
Developer: Hyper Games
Publisher: Raw Fury

Finding out that The Moomins is not only still an active franchise but is in fact still doing quite well for itself is one of the more surprising things that has happened to me this year thus far. As a child of the 90s I have fond memories of The Moomins (both the novels and the 1990s TV series) and I was eager to revisit that world in Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley, which appeared to capture the essence of Tove Jansson’s original works perfectly through its beautiful hand-drawn art style and relaxed, adventure-focused gameplay with a melodic twist that complemented the titular Snufkin. The “cozy gaming” space is packed with top quality titles at this point, and although I couldn’t necessarily recommend Snufkin over some others to those without that sense of nostalgia that drew me to it on the basis of its gameplay, it is nonetheless a title I find difficult to fault and would urge people to pick up as few are as immersive or charming as this one.

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