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Reviews

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.

System: Switch
Release date: June 19, 2020
Developer: Criterion Games / Stellar Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts


Early on, Burnout Paradise Remastered tells you that this game will be “unlike any driving experience you’ve ever had.” Although many people already have experienced this exact same driving adventure in the years since its original release on last-gen consoles in 2008, it is nonetheless just as fun as ever. This remaster promises to bundle all of that version’s extra content and DLC into one polished package that features improved visuals and performance, and after releasing on other platforms a few years back, it’s finally made it to Switch. The release on Nintendo’s console might have a few drawbacks of its own, but it preserves all the simple joy of the original game with pristine performance in portable and docked play.

System: Switch
Release date: June 5, 2020
Developer: Obsidian / Virtuos
Publisher: Private Division


Almost eight months after its release on other platforms, The Outer Worlds finally makes its way to Switch, giving players the first real Fallout-esque experience on the hybrid console. The game provides a fantastic RPG experience that never feels too bloated and hits all the right notes with excellent pacing, but as for the new port, taking this ambitious game and bringing it to Nintendo’s console seemed like it may have been a bit much. We’ve seen some technical marvels appear on the platform, but there have been just as many letdowns from games that were just too poorly optimized to make for an ideal experience, even with the luxury of portable play. The Outer Worlds provides an galactic sci-fi epic that’s rich in content and immersion, and while it’s easily a game that should be a must-play for anyone with the slightest interest in RPGs, the Switch conversion is an odd bag that sits on the fine line between acceptable and sacrificial. Quite simply, The Outer Worlds on Switch is playable, but not optimal.

System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: May 28, 2020
Developer: Moonsprout Games
Publisher: Dangen Entertainment


When even Nintendo itself has abandoned the winning formula of classic Paper Mario games, it’s up to indie developers to carry on that beloved legacy. Bug Fables is just such a game. From its combat system to its graphics to its personality, Bug Fables is a cute little RPG that simply oozes Paper Mario. However, it nonetheless carries its own distinct identity. It tells an impactful and emotional story along with a streamlined gameplay flow that all work together to make it a truly distinctive and worthwhile RPG in its own right.

System: Switch
Release date: May 28, 2020
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: WayForward


It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost twenty years now since the half-genie hero, Shantae, was introduced to the gaming world way back on the Game Boy Color. The debut entry not only laid the foundation of what would become a long-running and incredible platforming franchise, but at the time pushed pixel art to the absolute limits of its associated hardware. The series laid dormant for quite some time before Risky’s Revenge popped back up in 2010, and since then has seen a ton of success with a healthy schedule of releases. Now Shantae is back on an all new adventure that fine-tunes the HD art from Half-Genie Hero, and brings another incredible Metroidvania that sees new and old faces alike joining in to save the day.

System: Switch
Release date: May 14, 2020
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA


The world’s favorite vocaloid superstar finally makes her long-awaited Switch debut with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix, bringing along a from-the-ground-up experience where you can attend and play through your own personal concerts at home and on the go. Other Crypton mascots Meiko, Kagamine Rin/Ren, Kaito and Megurine Luka are also included with over 100 songs and a myriad of outfits for you to choose from and customize. Long time fans of the series will recognize favorites like LOL -lots of laugh- and The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku as they go through a catered track list throughout her discography tapping into just about every genre imaginable, from rock ballads to pop, dance, jazz, and more. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix is a celebration of vocaloid culture and music, with tons of beautiful music videos accompanying the songs as button prompts fly from all sides of the screen, and the experience is only really hindered by long loading times and low resolution that degrades its otherwise stunning look.

System: Switch
Release date: April 24, 2020
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix


What started off as a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Adventure in 1991 would spawn a beloved yet niche series in Square Enix’s catalogue known as Mana. Nearly thirty years later, Trials of Mana gets the remake treatment, bringing its 1995 origins to the modern day with a stunning makeover and creative outlook that doesn’t just aim to recreate, but freshen and polish the game with a new outlook more suited for the JRPGs of today. The game certainly has elements of “a time that once was” with a sort of clichéd story and standard fantasy flare that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but that Mana charm still exudes through its gameplay.

System: Switch
Release date: April 30, 2020
Developer: Dotemu / Lizardcube / Guard Crush Games
Publisher: Dotemu


It’s been almost thirty years since the last original entry in the Streets of Rage franchise, but Streets of Rage 4 comes back larger than life with a fresh coat of paint alongside that addictive and incredibly satisfying beat-em-up gameplay that made it such a big hit for SEGA back in the 1990s, rivaling the likes of Double Dragon and Final Fight. Streets of Rage has been a household name still to this day despite the lack of a new entry thanks to myriad ports and being included in a wide array of collections, but finally having a new entry – and it having been done in the way it is – is such a great way to bring a beloved franchise to the modern day in a big bold way. With intuitive controls, gorgeous detailed stages, a soundtrack that mixes an 80’s electronic vibe with retro feels, a breathtaking art style, and fluid fun combat, Streets of Rage 4 says hello to 2020 in the best way possible, giving fans old and new alike plenty to enjoy in a package that doesn’t feel bloated or shallow but always wants you craving more.

System: Switch
Release date: April 7, 2020
Developer: Granzella
Publisher: NIS America


Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, the franchise’s first entry in the west in over a decade, puts players right down into a city that’s been struck by a 7.0+ magnitude earthquake that brings catastrophic damage over the area, injuring and trapping many people. Now with nowhere to go and everyone in hysterics, environmental awareness is key as you make your way to safety avoiding any other disasters that may come your way. Disaster Report 4 does well to set the tone and give players freedom of choice when it comes to helping others and doing what it takes to survive, but for everything it does well on the surface, it’s the performance that gets hit hardest, causing the Switch version to be a disaster of its own.