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Reviews

System: Switch
Release date: May 14, 2021
Developer: Mages / Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


Plenty of video games have elements of mystery in their narrative – that feeling of unraveling something ambiguous can be a highly effective means to motivate a player to see the end of a story – but it takes something special to truly evoke the feeling that you are a real detective. It’s a feeling that I hadn’t really experienced in a game since L.A. Noire released, but I’m thrilled to report that both Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and its prequel game The Girl Who Stands Behind, excel at being compelling, immaculately produced mystery stories that I didn’t want to put down.

System: Switch
Release date: May 25, 2021
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive


Perhaps no creature in the animal kingdom has as much of a publicity problem as the humble shark. Relatively docile toward humans in real life, sharks have become murderous monsters in public opinion thanks to sensational media and bloody shark thrillers. Tripwire Interactive’s open-world action game Maneater gleefully plays with this idea, letting players take control of an obscenely bloodthirsty creature on a gruesome rampage against every living creature nearby. Although its gameplay may feel as shallow as its freshwater levels at times, an emphasis on campy violence means there is still some brutal fun to be had in this Switch rendition of the game.

System: Switch
Release date: May 25, 2021
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus


Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster is an exhausting game. I don’t just mean exhausting in that it has a long name that I’m already tired of typing out, but rather, exhausting as an experience overall. Its world is bleak, barren and void of any semblance of hope for its inhabitants. Its gameplay, consisting almost entirely of archaic turn-based combat, can be unforgiving and occasionally opaque. And while the game has been given a small facelift for this 2021 rerelease, it largely embraces its PlayStation 2 origins and does little to modernize itself today’s audiences. Depending on what type of player you are, this may be enough to turn you off from the game entirely, but those who enjoy patiently unpacking a cryptic, challenging experience will likely find themselves deeply absorbed in Shin Megami Tensei III.

System: Switch
Release date: April 30, 2021
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Nintendo


It’s been two decades after the original release of Pokemon Snap on Nintendo 64, and since then fans have been both nostalgic and petitioning for a worthy successor. Despite its failure, when the Wii U was Nintendo’s current console on the market, many were certain that a new entry would materialize as the GamePad seemed like the perfect controller for a truly next generation Pokemon Snap experience. New Pokemon Snap now finally sees the long awaited and almost mythical release of a sequel on Switch, and brings a slew of new features, replayability, and stunning graphics that lets us look at Pokemon in a way we’ve never seen them before. It lets players get up close and personal with their trusty cameras once again to take wondrous shots, all in the comfort of their own home or on the go instead of a Blockbuster.

System: Switch
Release date: April 15, 2021
Developer: Chibig
Publisher: Chibig


Summer in Mara was one of the more recent games that took me by surprise in terms of how much I enjoyed it, as I really love the sense of serenity it offers with a small but playful map that gives just enough to keep things consistently fun – especially for the explorative types. Though Chibig is no stranger to game development, it was the first of their portfolio to hit consoles, and while the Switch version had a few quirks, it still retained what was most important without having to sacrifice much outside of some visual quality. Deiland may be new to some, but the game has technically been out since Chibig brought it to mobile in 2016. Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition on Switch now marks the third time it has been released, but as someone who’s played it briefly on mobile and then on PC just before the Switch version for the purposes of this review, this would also mark the third time Deiland has simply been… Deiland, with little between releases to feel like a sizeable update or enhancement from prior SKUs.

System: Switch
Release date: April 8, 2021
Publisher: Top Hat Studios


We’re always used to being adventurers – going out into the world to slay monsters, learn new spells, collect newer and better equipment, and keeping our party’s health up with items. After all, who doesn’t love a new adventure and fulfilling quests for rewards? But I have to stop and think sometimes: what is life like for all those supporting NPCs that you meet in every town? What’s it really like to be a blacksmith, an armorer, a magic instructor, or dare we ask – an alchemist? Well, luckily, Potion Party is here to answer that last question in the form of an alchemy simulator with cute pixel graphics with bright colors and fast-paced tasks.

System: Switch
Release date: March 30, 2021
Developer: Ghost Dog Films
Publisher: Wales Interactive


FMVs, much like visual novels, have always had that sort of stigma where those that weren’t open-minded enough wouldn’t really consider them to be true games, yet I guarantee every genre, regardless of what one’s feeling towards them are, has at least something for everyone that may surprise you – it’s just a matter of finding that right piece of media that’ll open the doors to help further spark an interest. While I haven’t played many FMVs, I can count quite a few that have all been fairly different from each other. Even if its live-action foundation may make it seem like a movie more than anything else, games like Erica, the controversial Phantasmagoria, and more set revolutionary ideas into place that made them much more than an interactive film. When it comes to the new Switch release I Saw Black Clouds, it finds itself in an odd in-between that goes from being mostly pure film to one with quite a few neat ideas that make it much more than a simple “choose an option” experience, and while I wouldn’t necessarily consider it fun in the traditional sense, as a film it can be immensely enjoyable.

System: Switch
Release date: March 26, 2021
Developer: Arzest / Balan Company
Publisher: Square Enix


When Square Enix revealed Balan Wonderworld to the world in 2020, I immediately felt that fans of 3D platformers would soon be experiencing something special. Not only did the game’s trailers exude a bold sense of style and charisma that felt genuinely endearing, but the game was also being helmed the creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog and Nights franchises. I was sold on the concept before I had even seen any gameplay – after all, with such an industry heavyweight leading the game’s development, what could possibly go wrong?

System: Switch
Release date: March 19, 2021
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Publisher: PQube


There aren’t many games out there that attempt to use the world of filmmaking and video production as a narrative backdrop. As someone who has spent his whole career working in said industry, I was excited to see Root Film – the latest visual novel from the up-and-coming Kadokawa Games, who also released Root Letter in 2016 – attempt to explore what I had hoped would be a unique spin on the murder-mystery genre. While the title attempts to craft an interesting narrative progression for this type of game, the game ultimately failed to hook me on its premise.

System: Switch
Release date: March 12, 2021
Developer: Artdink
Publisher: Artdink


The city simulator style of gameplay has been around since SimCity released on various platforms back in 1989. Since then, the formula has been used in a variety of ways to give players the chance to customize their own towns, homes, farms, and explore the concept of planning and managing bustling communities over the decades. Believe it or not though, A-Train’s series has been going on since before the Sim craze began, releasing its first game back in 1985 on the beloved NES among other platforms. Artdink’s long-running franchise has become a beloved staple of urban planning, and this release on Switch brings the storied history of the title to more people than ever before – but is will this management adventure become a tedious grind, or a relaxing past-time?