Connect with us
Best Nintendo Switch Games Best Nintendo Switch Games

Games

The 60 Best Nintendo Switch Games

The Nintendo Switch turns one year old today and we decided to compile a list of the best games released over the past twelve months.

Published

on

Best Nintendo Switch Games Tetris 99

25. Tetris 99

One of the biggest surprises of 2019 was the reveal and launch of Tetris 99, which combines the tried-and-true puzzle gameplay with his own particular blend of mayhem. The game, which is free to download (provided you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber), is perhaps the least expected take on the battle royale genre — but some would argue it’s the best. Developed by Arika, known for Tetris: The Grand Master series, Tetris 99 pits you against 98 other players simultaneously, and the last surviving player wins. It’s ridiculous and mesmerizing — not to mention mind-blowing when you stop and admire how Tetris 99 demonstrates the true adaptability of the original Tetris.

It’s hard to believe that three decades on, Tetris is still a worldwide phenomenon. It’s also hard to believe that Tetris 99 was a joke someone apparently made on Twitter before Akira made it a reality. Even harder to believe, Tetris 99 is able to stand side by side on a stage with behemoths such as Fortnite and APEX Legends. I won’t dare say Tetris 99 is the best battle royale game on the market, but it sure is a fan favourite. (Ricky D)

SonicMania

24. Sonic Mania

The existence of Sonic Mania can be referred to as nothing short of a miracle, but the use of the word ‘miracle’ would be doing a disservice to the fans/developers who made it happen. Sonic Mania comes from the dedication of old-school underground Sonic fangame-creating and ROM-hacking fanbases, almost teeming with the ether of communities like Sonic Retro, that have been pining for a true sequel to Sonic & Knuckles since its release in 1994.

In fact, Mania is a result of the hard work put in by long-time classic Sonic fan/game dev, Christian Whitehead (a.k.a Taxman), whose work on ports of classic 2D Sonic games to mobile devices and modern gaming consoles, made in conjunction with Headcannon, served as the pitch for the entire project. While today the Sonic series is mostly known for its laughably bad modern 3D titles, with the pinnacle being 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Mania broke that (fungicidal) mold by bringing the Blue Blur back to exactly where he left off 24 years ago.

Mania’s gameplay is painstakingly put-together to be as true to the classics as possible, while introducing new gameplay elements, making it closer to an official sequel than any other Sonic game since the mid-90s, especially over something like, say, Sonic 4. The beautiful — and immediately nostalgic — soundtrack and visual designs add to this package as well. Above all, Sonic Mania is a unique success story, a triumphant moment that we don’t get to see often in an increasingly calculated world of big-name gaming. (Maxwell N)

golf-story-1

23. Golf Story

All throughout the Switch’s banner first year on the market, there was one genre that felt severely underrepresented: Role-Playing Games. For a long time, it seemed like RPG fans on Switch would only have I Am Setsuna at launch to sink their teeth into until Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hit in December. Enter Golf Story, an indie release from the relatively mysterious two-man team, Sidebar Games. Billed as a spiritual successor to the stellar Camelot Mario Golf titles, Golf Story surprised many with its charm, wit, and inventive game design.

From its opening scenes, two things are obvious: Golf Story is all about the characters, and it never takes itself too seriously. Sharp writing with Australian sensibilities abound (“Sucked in!”) and keep players grinning throughout the classic underdog story. Golf Story leans into the typical sports narrative tropes to create a truly lovable cast of characters, as well as some of the most hilarious moments in a game I’ve seen in a long time. The mark of any great RPG is its storytelling, and Golf Story uses a combination of unique set pieces and creative dialogue box animation to drive its ridiculous story arcs home.

Though certainly not the focus, the actual golf gameplay is also quite satisfying during both side quests and full-scale matches. Though the elevation of the ground is a bit difficult to determine due to the 16-bit style, the game does an otherwise great job of providing a solid golf experience, with a full range of clubs, courses, hazards, and gimmicks. Optional side quests will test the mettle of the best players, while the main story does a good enough job of steadily introducing new strategies and concepts. If you’re in the mood for a silly adventure that might just trump the Mario Golf classics of old, you owe it to yourself to play Golf Story. (Brent Middleton)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Inside Playdead Studios

22. Inside

What makes Inside a technical masterpiece — and one of the most polished video games ever made — is how it manages to do so much with so little. It’s simply amazing how much mileage Playdead gets out of a two-hour game with no real script, no dialogue, no boss fights, no real cinematic cutscenes, and no central hook. Inside is a masterclass in minimalism and restraint, and a prime example of how sometimes less is more.

It’s also a game that masterfully finds a double meaning in its metaphor, thanks to a secret ending that sees the boy unplugging the power to the facility. After doing so, he collapses into the same position as the zombified citizens under the government’s control. Here, Inside is perhaps breaking the fourth wall by implying that this ending is unplugging us, the players, from the game. When you turn off the switch, you are effectively relinquishing control of the boy, therefore ending the journey — perhaps underlining our own unhealthy obsession with video games and technology in general? Whatever the intent, be it a simple meta-commentary or something more, Inside left me with a lot to think about — something very few games do (Ricky D)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Super Meat Boy

21. Super Meat Boy

For the unfamiliar, Super Meat Boy is a 2D sidescrolling platformer, and the objective of the game is to transport the protagonist, Meat Boy himself, to Bandage Girl, his beloved damsel in distress, who is usually located on the other side of the level. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, here’s the catch. Super Meat Boy is as far from simple as anything could possibly be. The game is extremely fast-paced and incredibly unforgiving. The controls are smooth and responsive, but the overwhelming difficulty of the game manages to water down the beautifully executed mechanics. As you progress through the levels, you’re faced with wave after wave of various obstacles that will stop at nothing in their quest to stop you in your tracks. And in most cases, they succeed.

This is where the heart of Super Meat Boys success comes into play – Super Meat Boy is executed in such a manner that makes you want to keep on playing without it getting tiresome. No matter how many times you turn into a goopy pool of meat on the ground, you will be tempted to try again. It’s hard to determine which aspect of the game is causing this – it could be the speedy, smooth controls that allow the player to make use of a wide range of acrobatics. It could also be the lively retro-styled graphics that urges the player into returning to the game just one more time and/or the innovative level design, that is flawlessly executed without it ever becoming too repetitive for one’s taste.

No matter what it is, Super Meat Boy is indeed infused with a formula that makes it appealing to everyone from the most casual of gamers, to those who are always up for a challenge. One could say that the game is the personification of frustration, coated with an appealing layer of sheer fun that attracts all sorts of gamers. (Johnny Pederson)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Steamworld Digg 2

20. Steamworld Dig 2

This sequel takes everything that was refreshing about the first tunnel-digging adventure and offers improvements at nearly every turn. In a sea of twisting Metroidvanias, the self-made labyrinths of Steamworld Dig 2 stand a pickaxe above the rest. It’s a fantastic example that there are still new places to go underground, and inventive gameplay that can take players there. Set some time after a simple robot 49er named Rusty uncovered some bad stuff happening below the surface of his ore-filled claim, this latest entry follows that rickety droid’s niece, a spry piece of machinery named Dorothy who goes in search of her now-missing kin. Armed with her similarly pointy tool (and eventually a few new ones), Dorothy uncovers even more sinister deeds simmering below — just like the first game, however, it’s up to her to carve out a path to get there.

Steamworld Dig 2 gives players more freedom than almost any other Metroidvania in how they choose to explore the world. With almost every surface able to be ground up into bits, chopping away makes tunnels that lead to precious ore scattered about, which in turn can be sold in town for supplies and enhancements that make mining easier, more efficient. This game is all about the pleasant rhythm of digging to get rich, but thanks to razor-sharp controls, awesome new abilities that allow for more creative traversal of the ever-growing mazes, and a more-focused map that relies more on carefully-crafted obstacles than the previous entry, the whole experience feels more polished. Cap that with great mining/robot humor and a hilariously cynical sidekick, and Steamworld Dig 2 is akin to striking the Metroidvania mother lode. (Patrick Murphy)

Xenoblade-Chronicles-2 Best Nintendo Switch Games

19. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The popularity of grandiose role-playing games is prevalent among gamers, hence the hype surrounding Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the latest installment in the long-running Xeno series. There are faults to be found in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but far more noticeable are its instances of success.

A combat system  that builds upon the mechanics of its predecessors means that crafting a cacophony of combos (complete with cinematic camera coolness) in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a walk in the park for Rex and his pals. Refinements to many aspects of its design — from the user interface to the management of side quests — assist in bolstering overall quality. The sheer variety of expansive environments throughout its colossal open world, a story that grabs one’s attention despite its inherent silliness, and a big ol’ bundle of secrets to unearth all result in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 being a splendid iteration of both its genre and series.

The cherry on top is the effortlessness in which it absorbs players, inviting them to sink countless hours into its ocean of eclectic activities with the utmost of ease. (Harry Morris)

Best Switch Games New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

18. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

The Nintendo Switch has seen some pretty great platformers within the past two years. Just to name a few, Switch owners have had the great pleasure of playing games like Super Mario Odyssey, Celeste, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, and Kirby Star Allies. Most recently, the Switch got an excellent port of one of the Wii U’s greatest offerings in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.

One of the biggest standouts on Nintendo’s successful hybrid device, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe tends not offer much new in terms of core gameplay compared to its last-generation counterpart, but that is by no means a bad thing. However, in the game’s port to Switch it does add a familiar character with Toadette, who can turn into Peachette (who looks identical to Princess Peach) via a power-up. Moreover, to make the Switch package come of even better value, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe comes packed with New Super Luigi U, which was a fantastic add-on for its day (during the Year of Luigi), and remains so today.

The fifth game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, Deluxe now stands as the pinnacle of the series. Simply put, it has refined the classic formula to a tee with its release on Switch.

Above all, much like the rest of Nintendo’s first-party library, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a highly polished product. New content may not be at the top of its list of priorities, but it more than makes up for it with solid gameplay mechanics. Nintendo knows its way around a good platformer at this point, and they are especially familiar with those of the side-scrolling sub-genre, as demonstrated by New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Switch owners would be remiss to not add this game to their Switch library. It strongly — and intelligently — adheres to the classic Nintendo game concept: feel-good, pure entertainment. (Brandon McIntyre)

Skyrim

17. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Those feeling a bit lost at sea upon finally fully exploring the massive world that Breath of the Wild immersed them in need have no fear; thanks to Bethesda and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you don’t have to go back to the real world quite yet. With its massive play space, stunningly beautiful visuals, and absurdly abundant list of quests, side quests, and side quests to the side quests, players won’t need much convincing to stay in this province of Tamriel for a spell. Whether you’re up for some dungeon looting, sword-and-sorcery combat, or for some reason really like crafting stuff, there’s something for everyone here. Join guilds, go on adventures, read lots of fake books, slay dragons, and eavesdrop on the staggering amount of conversations taking place in a world that almost seems to be a living, breathing thing — if enemies would quit getting stuck in doors, or you couldn’t fall through the ground.

Already played Skyrim? Play it again as a cat monster guy! Or maybe try your hand at being a vampire this time! The Switch version comes with all the previously released DLC, making an enormous game even more overwhelming. And now, thanks to the portability of the Switch, the Dragonborn can infiltrate all parts of your life — not just the couch-sitting ones. These many years later, Skyrim still impresses. Though it may feel like a slight step backwards to not be able to climb every visible surface like a nimble elf man, the inability to clear small fences shouldn’t dissuade anyone looking for an epic journey to pick up a sword here — either once again, or for the very first time. (Patrick Murphy)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Dead Cells

16. Dead Cells

Dead Cells doesn’t necessarily evolve the rogue-like genre, but what it does expertly refines it. Sporting buttery-smooth gameplay with an addictive and rewarding one-more-run structure, Dead Cells is as exhilarating as it is brutally difficult. Each run through its procedurally generated levels is filled to the brim with pixel-perfect combat, relentless enemies, loot and upgrades aplenty, and — most importantly — a substantial level of variety that helps make each run feel distinct. This is very much a good thing — a mandatory thing, even — because repeating levels is what you’ll be doing as you die again and again, all in the name of mostly minuscule progress. Whenever you do get through a run and finally beat a boss or unlock some incredibly badass weapon for a future attempt, the satisfaction is all the sweeter for it.

Rogue-likes have nailed formulas like this in the past, and standing out in an arguably oversaturated genre is tough these days. Dead Cells couldn’t make a splash as just a hard game, and so its visuals are even more of a significant USP, seeming to be the pioneer for pushing indie developers’ updated nostalgia graphics from 8-bit to 16-bit. The game has that familiar Symphony of the Night look to it, and this focus not only comes off great, but also helps the game run beautifully. Put simply, the intuitive combat that Dead Cells hangs its hat on just wouldn’t feel the same in another visual style, and the combination of the two is so good that the game rightly sits right at the top of its genre. (Alex Aldridge)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Undertale

15. Undertale

Undertale is an independent RPG created by Toby Fox that relies on some traditional RPG tropes, and then marvelously subverts them. It tells an endearing story of a child who has fallen into a land of monsters, where the child must choose to either fight or spare their potential foes. The resulting battle-system is intriguing and rewarding, and ties smartly into the story itself. Often breaking down the fourth wall between game and gamer, Undertale plays with convention and manages to wrap together fun and intriguing gameplay as well as a compelling story. (Marty Allen)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Hollow Knight

14. Hollow Knight

Blasphemy be damned; Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania easily on par with — and possibly surpassing — the two hallowed titles the genre is named after. Hauntingly atmospheric, impeccably polished, and packed with an absurd amount of content that rarely feels less than organic, this indie gem has brought magic back to traditional platforming-based exploration that had been missing in so many of its kin.

Doling out its story through breadcrumbs of lore, Hollow Knight follows an empty wanderer as he descends into a mysterious bug kingdom whose protected stasis is being threatened by the creeping infection of an outside force. Making his way through the vast, decaying underground lands leads to the discovery of new allies, enemies, and powers, all of which contribute to a rich story, as well as help guide this warrior on his way toward discovering and fulfilling his ultimate destiny. Players who embark on this difficult journey will be rewarded with wonderfully lush environments, satisfyingly empowering upgrades, and a captivating vibe that manages to be both playful and ominous at the same time.

These elements alone are crafted to standards that would make some AAA developers jealous, but what makes Hollow Knight excel above its peers is superbly responsive gameplay merged with meticulous level design. Combat is composed of simple actions, but enemy patterns vary widely, leading to numerous viable strategies — especially when approaching any one of the game’s many brutal bosses. These massive encounters are memorable highlights, increasingly tough tests that require patience and mastery of the game’s various systems, including an array of charms that provide various buffs and additional skills. The game’s maps also exploit the deep system for movement, subtly pushing inexperienced players in one direction, while still providing a surprising degree of openness for the more adventurous to carve out their own unique paths via shortcuts and movement exploits.

The wealth of options and attention to detail in Hollow Knight is simply staggering when compared to others in the genre. Thanks to precision controls and endless secrets to discover, there is no doubt that players will continue returning to Hallownest again and again. Team Cherry has created a stirring world of myth and monsters that rivals the best Metroidvanias of all time. (Patrick Murphy)

Stardew Valley Best Nintendo Switch Games

13. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley overall is an incredible game on PC, but being released on the Switch allowed the indie darling to create even more new experiences for players. In Stardew Valley, your character quits their day job to go take care of their grandfather’s farm, which he gifted to them when he passed away. Your days are mainly filled with farming, petting your animals, and getting to know the town and all of the neighbor’s quirks. It is the perfect game to relax with, as no task is too daunting, and it’s just so damn cute.

In the original PC release, Stardew had a more limiting and rigid structure, where you as the player can be tied to your PC for the day cycle — which in real lifetime is about fifteen minutes per in-game day. With the Switch, you’re now allowed to pick up and play the game in smaller increments as you see fit. Also being on the Switch allows Stardew the capacity to be more mobile, so you can take it with you wherever you need to go, even if that’s moving from your couch to your bed. Stardew is about filling your days with whatever pleases you, and in a way, that’s what the Switch as a system is about too. The two combined has a way of creating happiness, whether you’re watering your crops while on your lunch break, or fishing for that rare fish while curled up on the couch. (Katrina Lind)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Splatoon 2

12. Splatoon 2

Creating a sequel to a beloved shooter is difficult. If the game is too similar to the original, new players will compare it to any number of the typical annual shooting entries. On the other hand, existing fans of the series need to be catered to with familiar mechanics and game design decisions. Splatoon 2 manages to tread this line incredibly well and ends up feeling like a new game while retaining the tight, addictive Splatoon gameplay that made the original one of the best games of the surprisingly strong Wii U library.

It’s clear that the dev team listened to fan feedback from the first game, and made tons of small quality of life tweaks. There is now a difference between team ranks and single-player ranks. Players can finally change their loadouts between matches without leaving the lobby. The addition of pants and hair options allows for more character customization than ever in a game that’s very much about style.

At the same time, Splatoon 2 also succeeds with its major additions, like an inventive new story mode, a completely new horde mode that works online as well as locally, and the new ranked mode, Clam Blitz. These all offer incredibly fun and inventive takes on the shooting genre as a whole.

Coupled with noticeable visual upgrades and continued support promised for at least 2 years after launch, Splatoon 2 is an undeniable must-own for anyone with a Switch. (Brent Middleton)

11. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario has been relying on his feet for decades, and the precision gameplay behind the high-jumping, goomba-stomping action rarely disappoints. However, for the Switch Ubisoft had a different idea (so different that it was initially met with a chorus of internet boos), and instead decided to give Mario’s dogs a rest while putting the power in his hands — and players’ minds. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle might go against the grain a bit for those who never imagined concocting a strategy for anything outside of tricky platforming, or that their favorite former plumber would wield a firearm, but somehow it came together and worked beautifully. The X-COM gameplay translates amazingly well to the Mushroom Kingdom’s core characters, where Mario, Luigi, Peach must team with Rabbid lookalikes and a talking Roomba named Beep-O in order to stop a maniac bunny that can’t control his VR goggles. Or something. Like with the best Mario games, plot doesn’t matter that much; gameplay is where it counts, and Mario + Rabbids does not disappoint.

Once the oddity of not directly controlling Mario wears off, players are treated to a surprisingly deep and engaging level of turn-based strategy, as well as a variety of maps and enemies that constantly challenge one to rethink tactics from battle to battle. Those new to the genre might feel a bit intimidated at first, but like a typical Nintendo game, the difficulty is paced to perfection, never suffering from intense rises or falls, all the way through to the end. In fact, Ubisoft has done an incredible impersonation of Mario’s makers, nailing the colorful look and feel of the franchise so well that those unaware of the game’s actual developers could easily be fooled. A lot of love was put into Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and the results amount to one of the best “Nintendo” games not made by Nintendo — ever. (Patrick Murphy)

Rocket League Best Nintendo Switch Games

10. Rocket League

What is there left to say about Rocket League? Nearly three years after its initial release, the game landed on the Nintendo Switch with additional updates, features, and new platforms (including the newly Nintendo-themed cars), that make this unorthodox sports game a must have on Nintendo’s hybrid system. Psyonix’s insane formula of rocket-powered cars playing soccer has only gotten better with age, and the added bonus of playing it on the go via local split-screen only adds to the game’s appeal.

Whether it’s online casual or ranked matches, friendly exhibitions, local co-op, or a challenging season mode, Rocket League never gets old. Switch players can even engage in cross-network play with Rocket League’s Xbox One and PC community, and to our surprise, this system works without a hitch. As someone who spent well over 200 hours with Rocket League on PS4, I see myself putting in way more hours on the Switch. Much like Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, or even Super Mario Odyssey, Rocket League is well worth your money if you consider how much time you’ll spend playing the game. A must-have for any Switch owner. (Ricky D)

Best Switch Games Octopath Traveller

9. Octopath Traveler

What sort of group dynamic drama happens when you posse up a grizzled warrior, a pure-as-snow cleric, a feisty merchant, an idealistic apothecary, a vengeful dancer, a pompous academic, a wise huntress, and a dumbass thief? You’ll have to play a different game to find out, as Octopath Traveler has no interest in telling that sort of macro story, instead keeping its focus on the eight individuals that populate its fantasy world. This approach may irk fans of intricate JRPG plotting, but creates an opportunity for role-players to take on more of a part than just mere button pushing, allowing them to fill in the relationship blanks by using an ancient weapon once known as ‘imagination.’

It’s a bold move, but Octopath helps jumpstart that inner creativity with lush visuals inspired by the 16-bit era, a hybrid mix of pixel art and polygons that results in gorgeous pop-up book quality. From shimmering desert sands to soft ripples of idyllic ponds, the many landscapes are stunning, themselves almost incentive enough to continue the eight quests. Luckily, Octopath‘s turn-based gameplay is just as engaging, mixing Boosts and Breaks with a variety of attacks and defenses to provide an accessible level of depth and complexity that should encourage players to try out new characters and strategies. It’s a throwback that captures the feeling of older JRPGs while simultaneously feeling fresh and exciting, making for one of the best games on the Switch. (Patrick Murphy)

shovel-knight best nintendo switch games

8. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

Sometimes an axe is too heavy or a sword is out of reach, and so you’re left to fight like a peasant with a shovel. Occasionally, the ridiculous can be an utter genius, and Shovel Knight blurs the boundaries of ingenuity. Shovel Knight is equally humble in its celebration of retro gaming, as well as innovative in its fresh approach to game design. Your shovel is a versatile piece of equipment that isn’t just used to defeat foes; much like in real life, its capability to dig provides opportunities to find treasure which upgrades your equipment. This furthers your valiant mission to defeat the Enchantress and save the Order of No Quarter from themselves. An Indie game published by Yacht Club Games, it began as a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign and has since created a legacy of its own. (James Baker)

Celeste Best Nintendo Switch Games

7. Celeste

At first glance, Celeste may seem like a typical 16-bit adventure, but as the game progresses it quickly becomes clear that Matt Thorson and his small team of collaborators have created something truly special. For a game originally created as a prototype in four days during a game jam (and later expanded into a full release), Celeste looks great and features one of the most memorable soundtracks in recent memory (courtesy of composer Lena Raine). It’s also blessed with tight controls, intricately designed levels, and loads of secrets to discover — and despite its difficulty, Celeste has received nothing but high praise from critics since its release. In fact, what makes Celeste stand above its peers is how it indistinguishably ties its difficulty to its message. In the end, the mountain at the center of the game isn’t just an obvious metaphor for Madeline’s struggles, but for our own. Each time you die can no doubt be frustrating, but the game encourages the player to never give up. Not once does it mock you, and instead, it places you back to where you died, allowing you to try again, hoping this time you will succeed.

Celeste is without a doubt the best indie game available on the Switch, both an excellent platformer and an engaging meditation on the perils and methods of tackling depression and anxiety. It is not pretty, but it is sometimes very beautiful. (Ricky D)

MarioKart8Deluxe

6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

This one was just too damn good to leave in exile on the Wii U. While the attach rate on that console was staggeringly high, there were still plenty of fans who never got to experience one of the slickest, deepest, most gorgeous games in the genre. Nintendo clearly needed to fill a spot in their launch window with a big franchise, and few franchises are bigger than Mario Kart; in the end, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was a no-brainer. For those who didn’t get to experience it the first time, this latest entry boasts all the same great tracks (a mix of new and remastered favorites) and all the same great characters, including the amazing DLC cups, only everything is available right off the bat — no need to unlock.

As an extra treat, Nintendo also made several improvements, including a revamped battle mode, which is now actually worth playing. This time around they include arenas specifically designed for chasing your friends like a maniac globophobe, eradicating the world of enemy balloons. There are also additional modes that see karts attacking each other with piranha plants, or playing capture the flag with a Shine Sprite. In other words, there’s loads of stuff to do in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe besides the incredibly entertaining racing. With the ability to take the shell-throwing, banana peel-dropping, mushroom-boosting action anywhere, this really is the best version of the best game in the franchise. (Patrick Murphy)

5. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze

Good things do come in big packages. The trick for any game developer is to find the small game within the big one, which is exactly what Retro Studios did with Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. Tropical Freeze is the fifth Donkey Kong Country sidescroller, the second made by Nintendo’s Austin, Texas-based studio, and some would argue the best of the bunch. The game doesn’t deviate much from the established formula, but Retro Studios has done more with this latest DKC than a simple change of scenery. The most striking improvement is that Donkey Kong is in HD for the very first time, and he looks great. But don’t be fooled by its beauty; Tropical Freeze is a tough platformer, seemingly designed to frustrate even the most gifted gamers. Here is a game made with wit and excitement, boasting plenty of moments of visionary beauty, but also a game that will drive you mad. I lost count keeping track of the number of times I died while playing, but it was all worth it.

Tropical Freeze‘s six islands contain some tense challenges, as well as lots of unique level ideas. Each level delivers a sense of scale that feels bigger than most two-dimensional games, and the constant switches and level variety keep it fresh and interesting throughout. Tropical Freeze is full of astonishment, thrills, chills, spills, kills, and ills. The lengthy boss fights and the multitude of well-placed secrets and collectibles stand out as some of the best parts of the game, and like many Wii U titles, Freeze also features a couch multiplayer mode where a second player can choose between Diddy, Dixie Kong, and Cranky Kong. Meanwhile, original series composer David Wise returned to create one of the best video game soundtracks of this generation. Brawling, magnificent, heroic: that’s Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. (Ricky D)

Bayonetta 2 Best Nintendo Switch Games

4. Bayonetta 2

Had Bayonetta’s second adventure been as watered down as many expected it to be due to Nintendo’s family-friendly stance, it wouldn’t have been a true sequel. Luckily, not only did Nintendo allow Platinum Games to make Bayonetta 2 the way they wanted to, but they actively encouraged them to go wild. As a result, Bayonetta returns as her crude, violent, highly sexual self, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bayonetta 2 takes everything the original set up and improves it greatly. Comboing split-second dodges and consecutive attacks feels even more satisfying than in the original, and the Switch allows the visuals to shine, making the original look inferior in comparison. Nintendo-based costumes also add an extra visual flare, allowing you to pummel demons with Bowser’s limbs, or slice angels with the Master Sword.

But above all, the greatest part of Bayonetta 2 is its protagonist. Bayonetta is honestly one of my favourite characters of all time. Her unrestrained enjoyment of battle definitely rubs off on the player, encouraging you to utterly destroy and humiliate your opponents. The story itself isn’t breaking any new ground, but Bayonetta’s lovable personality and interactions with other characters never stops being entertaining, and only enhances your enjoyment of the game. We can all thank Nintendo for providing not only the creative freedom but the funding necessary to bring us this absolute gift of a game. (Ade Adeoye)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Super Smash Bros Ultimate

3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

There are very few game franchises where every release is a major cultural event for the medium. Leading with the tagline “Everyone is here,” Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is absolutely jam-packed with more characters, stages, music, and game modes than ever before. The sheer value it offers is ridiculous (especially when compared to other major fighting games).

The truth, however, is that this latest iteration has delivered far more than just a massive volume of content. Ultimate is a fast-paced, addictive romp of a fighting game so well-balanced that nearly any of the 70+ fighters are viable given enough practice. Impressively, it also lends itself well to being a perfect pick-up-and-play game that gamers of all skill levels can jump into and enjoy. This perfect balance of depth and accessibility has almost always been the hallmark of the series, and it’s back in full effect here.

There really is something for everyone in Ultimate. The new smattering of multiplayer modes (the fan-favorite Smashdown is especially fun) and specially customized Classic Mode battles offer significantly new ways to play for series veterans. Meanwhile, the new single-player mode — called World of Light — is a fresh way for newcomers to gradually become acquainted with different characters and matchups. And the rock-solid core fighting mechanics? They tie everything together. The result is a must-own Switch title right up there with Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. (Brent Middleton)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Super Mario Odyssey

2. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is arguably the most important Super Mario game since Super Mario 64 launched on the N64. I personally may not like it more than the incredible 3D World released on the Wii U, but Odyssey reinvents the series for a whole new generation.

What makes Odyssey special is that it isn’t so much a sandbox game as it is a toy box game. Instead of making a vast open world, the creators decided to make the levels in Odyssey smaller, but packed them with as many characters, puzzles, hidden secrets, call-backs, and various obstacles as could possibly fit. The whole game is basically structured like a giant playground, and the more time you spend messing around, the more likely you’ll be rewarded for it. Not since Super Mario 64 has a Mario platformer placed such a heavy emphasis on exploration, and boy is it ever fun running around these breathtakingly gorgeous, intricately designed levels that are oozing with style. Odyssey encourages players to explore every nook and cranny, and it helps that Mario now has Cappy to use as a standard throw attack. That possession power, embodied by Mario’s new sidekick, is what makes Odyssey stand out from every other entry in the series. It’s a brilliant idea that allows for dozens of additional playable characters, all with different powers, abilities, and ways of getting around. Professionally, Mario has always worn many hats, but in this game, he’s anything and everything he wants to be.

For every new idea Odyssey throws at you, this is also a game filled with nostalgia, and it’s worth noting just how many amazing references there are — both big and small — to the series’ past. You’ll encounter familiar characters, challenges, music cues, and more from past games, and there are even moments when Mario even transforms back into his 8-bit self! These 2D segments where Mario enters a warp pipe and is transported to a world that precisely recreates the 8-bit Super Mario Bros‘ mechanics and visual style may be the game’s biggest surprise, and sometimes it offers the hardest challenges. And for those of you who have finished the game, I’m sure you’ll agree that the New Donk City music festival, which recreates the stages from the original Donkey Kong, might be the biggest gaming highlight of the year.

The finale is a brilliantly executed sequence as well, letting Mario hop inside Bowser’s mind and body to rampage through a dying moon. That particular turn of events feels poetic and is an ingenious way to celebrate one of the longest running franchises in gaming. It’s also a testament to the sheer creativity underlying Odyssey that even after watching the credits roll, there’s so much left to discover. They say it’s all about the journey and not about the ending, but with Odyssey, the journey continues on. (Ricky D)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design, a true watershed moment in gaming history. The result is nothing less than magical. It artfully blends the best bits of the franchise’s thirty-plus year history and produces a sandbox so full of mystery and so full of adventure that it could take you well over 200 hours to uncover most of its secrets. What we have here is the most ambitious title in the history of the franchise, an epic journey that quivers with anticipation, wonder, surprise, and excitement. It never gets old. It never gets tiring. There’s not a minute that goes by in which you’ll want to put down the controller, because Breath of the Wild keeps players constantly curious and fascinated by the world around them. There’s truly something unusually haunting and engrossing about the game, and whatever your opinion on the Nintendo Switch, Breath of the Wild is arguably one of the greatest games ever made.

Since its arrival in 1986, the Zelda series has always pushed the technical boundaries of whatever console it has graced, and Breath of the Wild continues this tradition (times two). Epic, mythic, and simply terrific, Breath of the Wild brings a new kind of experience to fans across the globe. In return, it demands your attention. It’s a landmark in video games such that labeling it a masterpiece almost seems inevitable. In the end, however, most of what makes Breath of the Wild so beloved is Nintendo’s determination to constantly challenge themselves while crafting an unforgettable experience that also doubles as a commentary on the freedom of playing on the Switch. That a game of this magnitude can be playable anywhere you go is a remarkable feat. (Ricky D)

PART 1  | PART 2  | PART 3

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Games

Microsoft Might be Ready to Dominate the Next Generation

Published

on

Microsoft Next Gen

Playing Catch-Up

As the current generation of consoles winds down in preparation for the transition to new hardware in 2020, it’s safe to say that Sony has come out on top through the past six years. While we don’t have Xbox sales numbers since Microsoft stopped releasing them earlier this generation, right from the console reveals the going has been rough for Xbox, and while the Xbox One family is by no means a failure it certainly isn’t on par with the PS4 in terms of success.

But the winds may be changing. Sony hasn’t made any major missteps à la Xbox’s showing at E3 2013, but Microsoft has been taking recent steps to make the choice between the two console manufacturers more and more difficult. Without further ado, let’s look at what might give Xbox the edge in 2020 and beyond.

Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud

Arguably the most enticing reason to own an Xbox today, particularly if you don’t own a gaming PC, is Xbox Game Pass. The subscription service gives users access to a catalogue of over 200 titles with games ranging from the first Xbox to the One with more being added regularly. Microsoft has even stated that every one of their first-party releases going forward will be available on Game Pass on release day, with the upcoming Gear 5 even releasing 3 days early for subscribers. At E3, Microsoft released Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, bundling together Game Pass for Xbox, Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold, and with it, there’s no question that it is the best-value games subscription service available today.

With such a large library of titles available for download, the subscription service completely outclasses Sony’s own, PS Now. Sony’s service touts streaming as its way to play (though recently has started allowing its PS4 games to be downloaded). But in case of streaming catches the mainstream quicker than expected, Microsoft is prepping their own streaming service, the mysterious Project xCloud. For now, much of the world (in particular, its bandwidth) isn’t quite up to the task to make streaming games, but Microsoft isn’t taking any chances on keeping up for the next generation.

Games with Gold reaches parity with PS Plus

For years, Sony’s PlayStation Plus appeared to consistently beat out Microsoft’s Games with Gold month-to-month, especially considering PS Plus offered more titles every month. Since the launch of the PS4, Sony’s online service had included not only two free PS4 games every month, but also PS3 and PS Vita titles. But last March, Sony announced a sizeable shake-up to the service by way of axing the monthly PS3 and Vita offerings, and this March they followed through, with only two PS4 titles now available each month.

Many had hoped Sony would quickly up the number of PS4 games given monthly, or that the reduction in the number of games would mean a large increase in the quality of the two PS4 games each month. Sadly, neither of these seem to have come to pass. Games with Gold, on the other hand, still releases two Xbox One games and an Xbox 360 title every month.

The release of the next consoles will likely see some changes to the makeup of the monthly PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold lineups, but for now, Microsoft holds at least a slight advantage after PS Plus having the edge for most of the generation.

Recent Studio Acquisitions

In this day and age, it shouldn’t be controversial to say that the PS4 has better exclusives than the Xbox One. Unless you’re a diehard Halo or Gears fan, it’s difficult to resist brilliant Sony exclusives like Uncharted, God of War, Spider-Man, and Bloodborne, to name just a few.

Microsoft seems to have recognized this and have been reacting by purchasing some major studios. Double Fine, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, and more have been acquired by Microsoft over the past few years. Sony still appears to have more and better-announced exclusives for the near future (The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, etc.), but in the next year or two, we should expect a pretty massive explosion of announcements and releases from Microsoft as their new studios kick into gear.

PC Compatibility

The Xbox Play Anywhere program launched in 2016, allowing players to purchase participating games for either Xbox One or Window 10 and to receive copies for both platforms. Play Anywhere titles share progress and achievements and often support cross-play. The program is part of Microsoft’s hope to more closely integrate Xbox with PC, and could reasonably result in PC players to purchase an Xbox by easing them in with a preexisting library of their own games.

Also in their bid for more PC players, Microsoft has begun moving away from the oft-maligned Microsoft Store. Rather than attempting to salvage the store and turn it into something more welcoming for gamers, they launched a totally new Xbox app at E3 2019 alongside Xbox Game Pass PC. The app lets players access their games library, Game Pass, and a store for games, thankfully cutting out the need for the unwieldy Microsoft Store when it comes to buying and playing.

Just because Sony is on top right now, doesn’t mean they will continue to be in the era of the PS5 and Project Scarlett. We’ve seen the big dog fall before, with the Xbox 360 holding the upper hand over the PS3 throughout last gen. And Microsoft has been doing a number of things right over the past few years, to the point where it looks as if they really could have a shot at being the dominant player in the next generation of consoles.

Continue Reading

Games

10 Years Later: ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’ Is Still The Apex of Comic Book Video Games

Batman: Arkham Asylum was the twenty-first-century masterpiece that revolutionized the video game adaptation genre through its phenomenal voice cast, character diversity, challenging detective work, and gothic setpieces.

Published

on

“Ah, it’s always nice to return to my sweet little ha-ha-hacienda.”

When diving through the deep rabbit hole that is comic book video game adaptations, finding something above decent can be quite troublesome. The Batman license has been used to create video games based off of its various forms of entertainment media since the early days of the Amstrad Colour Personal Computer, however, the caped crusader could never exactly crack the case on how to make the perfect video game adaptation- then again, neither could any other superhero. It was not until Eidos Interactive obtained the license to the Batman franchise in 2007, where the pinnacle point of comic book video games would be created under the roof of British developer Rocksteady Studios. 

Batman: Arkham Asylum was the twenty-first-century masterpiece that revolutionized the video game adaptation genre through its phenomenal voice cast, character diversity, challenging detective work, and gothic setpieces that shined as if they were oozing out of the pages of a fresh official DC Comics graphic novel. Although it has been ten years since its original release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC, Arkham Asylum still stands the test of time as not only one of the best comic book video games to date but as one of the best video games ever created.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

The story begins as Batman rushes to Gotham’s insane asylum in the batmobile while an uninjured, hand-cuffed, cackling Joker rides shotgun. Shortly after our hero meets up with Commissioner James Gordon and Warden Quincy Sharp, the Joker begins the first phase of his big homecoming trap by escaping custody through the help of Harley Quinn. Throughout the game, players are tasked with re-establishing order over the out of control island by infiltrating its various districts, saving allies, and taking down a top tier rogue that resides inside each building one by one.

While the plot may seem like your ordinary comicbook one-shot, the writing of Arkham Asylum is a storytelling work of art. Characters constantly bicker and banter to each other through words penned by none other than legendary Batman writer Paul Dini; creator of the critically acclaimed Batman The Animated Series and comics such as Dark Night: A True Batman Story and Batman: Harley Quinn. Every character talks and acts as if they were pulled directly from the source material — just as they should due to Dini’s impeccable recurring work on the franchise. 

To further emphasize creating an authentic recreation of Batman’s world, Rocksteady worked tirelessly to bring back fan-favorite recognizable voice actors for the majority of the characters who had been previously featured in Dini’s work such as Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. The combination of both Dini and the outstanding voice cast culminate into what is often viewed today as the definitive interpretation of the world’s greatest detective. 

Batman: Arkham Asylum

The characters are what became the defining aspect of Arkham Asylum and the most notable talking point by critics at the time of its release. As the game consistently jumps from villain to villain through its more than stellar pacing, nothing ever seems to grow stale. While the main heroes such as Batman, Gordon, and Oracle are always a pleasure to listen to, the rogues are the true stars of the show. Characters like the Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy never disappoint. Each villain brings surprising throw downs to the table, leaving players to truly test their skill-sets against Gotham’s finest. It was always — and still is — a thrilling experience to see who you will have to go toe to toe with next, as you experiment with different mechanics to defeat each boss.

Whereas all Batman games before Arkham Asylum had a strong emphasis on fighting, Rocksteady decided to shift its gameplay focus on a variety of playstyles to both accommodate for the detective’s vast set of expertise while also remaining true to the character originally depicted in print. Calculated quick-stealth action combat with added forensic science work used to solve puzzles became the groundwork for Batman: Arkham Asylum and the future of the series on top of its already compact control scheme. 

Every gameplay feature did not come with one singular purpose; the core mechanics were built on a multi-functional philosophy that would constantly test players to improve their skills, while also finding various ways to utilize their arsenal. Combat and puzzle-solving became intertwined, leaving players with more than one route on how they choose to approach any given situation.

For example, the new ‘detective mode’ feature allowed Batman: Arkham Asylum to open a floodgate of strategic play-styles and genre variations through the eyes of Batman. A simple game mechanic that changed the view of your surroundings to a wireframed breakdown would serve three main purposes; planning well thought out infiltrations, solving mysteries, and providing an in-game hinting system that could guide players through the asylum. The same can be said for gadgets — such as the Batarang and explosive gel — as they are given to the player for puzzles, but those who experimented while fighting found these tools had multiple purposes.

For those looking to explore deeper into Batman lore, the Riddler provided hundreds of different easter eggs for players to find through his cryptic enigma challenges. Longtime comic fans may be able to solve these puzzles with ease, but for casual audiences, these challenges can often be teeth grinding without background knowledge of what you may need to look out for. The mere text print bios, patient interview tapes, and art cards awarded through finding Riddler trophies and scanning objects associated with riddles made the game’s world seem enormous, as the majority of the characters referenced in these rewards are never present in the flesh. Batman’s world kept growing the deeper a player investigated into the growing crevasse that was Riddler’s optional story arc.

While the game blew away expectations with its extensive gameplay and faithful characters, the most important piece of any Batman media is the look; that mesmerizing gritty atmosphere only Batman comics can present. The character’s world has always been attached to a stylized look that resembles the art-deco years blended with dark noir and realism. It is a recognizable feature that makes the character’s world design stand apart from anyone else in the business. Arkham Asylum flawlessly recreated the look of the modern Batman comics through its heavily inspired gothic imagery with contrasting colors that instinctively pop leaving characters and environments looking prominent from one another. Typically, games that take a more ‘realistic’ approach do not age well, but the entire Arkham series still holds up due to its timeless art style, one that is incomparable to any other game to this day.

Batman: Arkham Asylum will forever stand as one of the most impactful games of its century for redefining what it meant to be an adaptation. It was thanks to the outstanding work Rocksteady Studios put into a faithful recreation of the dark knight that allowed developers to pave the way for a future of video games featuring comic book characters on par with the quality of major triple-A title releases. Batman has always redefined entertainment media in various aspects, but he may never have had an impact quite as unappreciated as Arkham Asylum on the industry. The caped crusader once again revived the feeling of hope, but this time for a medium of gaming that seemingly was going nowhere at the time. The dark knight led the charge to the era of the golden age of comic book games. “Long Live The Bat.”

Continue Reading

Games

25 Years Later: ‘EarthBound’ Continues to Bring Smiles and Tears

Published

on

“I Miss You.”

Nearly unrecognized by a company, almost canceled multiple times, saved by an industry icon, a soundtrack present in children’s textbooks, a passionate fanbase, fan-translations for the unreleased entries in the west, a Super Smash Bros. presence, and a three-sixty of a legacy. EarthBound– or rather the Mother series in Japan- has by far one of the strangest yet most fascinating histories out of all of Nintendo’s most known series.

EarthBound went on to become a cult classic in Nintendo’s history and one of the most renowned games of the fourth console generation for Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Through its troubled history in both production and early reception, it still has withstood the test of time to go on as one of Nintendo’s underdog franchises created by the mastermind Japanese copywriter, director, game designer, and actor Shigesato Itoi.

What better time to look back on the games strikingly different legacies across the globe than on the day of its initial Japanese release 25 years ago today. Despite EarthBound being looked upon as one of the greatest role-playing-games today, you would be surprised over how different the game was viewed back in 1994.

Itoi’s Saving Grace

After the completion of Mother in 1989- known to players as EarthBound Beginnings outside of Japan today- Shigesato Itoi began working on a direct sequel to the surprise phenomenon for the next generation of Nintendo hardware. Rather than working with the same development team, however, Itoi decided to allow Ape Incorporated to solely work on the project; a decision that would later lead to an unforeseeable disaster spanning over the course of five years.

Itoi was under significant pressure from Nintendo in 1993 due to time constraints and funding for Earthbound falling through on multiple occasions over the last four years. EarthBound escaped cancellation by the skin of its teeth several times throughout development. Out of fear of a final cancellation, Itoi knew he needed help from an outside source who can help save the project. In the last resort ditch, he took a trip to HAL Laboratory seeking out the starman of the industry; a close friend, young breakthrough coder, and President of the company, Satoru Iwata.

Shigesato Itoi, Satoru Iwata, and Shigeru Miyamoto- December 2011.

Satoru Iwata meticulously analyzed the coding of the game and gave the team at Ape Inc. two options; take what they had and finish development in two years or start from scratch and finish in six months- the ladder was the only plausible option for Itoi to choose. Iwata and his colleagues at HAL mustered up tools that Ape Inc. could use to finish the game in his predicted time frame; to which they did and less than one year later, EarthBound was ready to hit store shelves and became the first entry in the Mother series to make land outside of its home turf.

A Different Past

During its initial release, EarthBound was met with mixed to favorable reception outside of Japan and did not make sales expectations with the higher-ups at Nintendo. Although certainly not a flop, the game was deemed unsuccessful by the publisher everywhere but Japan. Critics in the west often compared the game to several other RPGs released at the time- specifically Square’s acclaimed Final Fantasy III– citing that the game felt dated compared to what the hardware was capable of. Back on its home turf, the game went on to receive a mostly positive reception. EarthBound and Mother 2 were practically two separate entities in the east and west.

Even in its marketing, EarthBound was a whole different kind of weird depending on territory. Nintendo of America gave the franchise its bizarre and infamously known marketing campaign in the United States, however, in its home territory, the Mother series was advertised as a family-friendly game that was for everyone. The line “this game stinks” was heavily used in Nintendo Power Magazine along with several attached repulsive-smelling scratch and sniff cards. Meanwhile, in Japan, phrases such as “for adults, children, and even young women” were often used in live-action advertisements along with friendlier simplistic informational posters such as the one below.

Going Contemporary

Unlike the majority of other RPGs at the time that focused on the common fantasy and medieval settings, EarthBound took a major curveball and placed itself in a relatable modern American themed country called Eagleland where rather than characters wielding blades or firearms, weapons consist of baseball bats, slingshots, PSI, bottle rockets, and frying pans. Convenience stores and hospitals are used rather than your typical wandering merchants or magic users. Enemies could range to anything from cars, speed limit signs, and clocks, to vomit, tents, and robots. Even a genre staple such as the battle system remains consistently different from any other RPG. The game uses a ‘slot machine’ health and psychic points mechanic where your numbers roll down slowly as you attempt to counterattack, revive, and defend with quick thinking moves before the digits can hit zero.

The contemporary inspired atmosphere blended with fantasy elements is a setting that no other game has tried to exactly replicate. It is still one of EarthBound’s most unique aspects, however, what makes the game so memorable are the characters placed in the deranged setting. Every single entity you come across on your adventure has unique dialogue that can range from poetically charming to outrageously ridiculous. A fan favorite species that has gone on to become what can be considered the series mascots are the iconic Mr. Saturns; notably for being the face of much of the available merchandise through Itoi’s personal company in Japan, having a unique in-game text font, and appearing as an item in Super Smash Bros. series (starting with Melee on the Nintendo GameCube).

A Change In Legacy

Today EarthBound is a Nintendo cult classic. Did it fail to become part of the big leagues at the time of its release because of the puzzling advertisement campaign? Was it to out of the norm for the general public and mainstream media? We may never know the definitive answer, but today EarthBound is regarded as one of the greatest RPGs of all time and a must-play game for the Super Nintendo. In its 25 years since it first released, it certainly has managed to draw in a captivating legacy that has continually become more loved over time.

The Mother series- whether it will ever receive a new entry or not- lives on through its dedicated fans, spiritual successors, and digital re-releases. No matter where you scatter for EarthBound related content on the internet, you are bound to find some dedicated fans or even entire websites such as the widely known Starmen.net that are packed to the brim with fan content.

If you have never played EarthBound, it is currently available for purchase on the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles and it is also one of the twenty-two pack-in games included on the Super Nintendo Classic Mini console.

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Life is Strange 2’ Episode 4 Review – “Faith”: A Journey Through Trump’s America

Life is Strange 2 continues its strong trajectory from the previous episode, weaving a complex and troubling tale of faith gone mad.

Published

on

Life is Strange 2 has returned for its penultimate episode, a dense and troubling exploration of faith, prejudice and family in a time and place that has never been more divided: modern America. Following the events of Life is Strange 2‘s stellar third entryEpisode 4: “Faith” sees Sean attempting to pick up the pieces of his shattered life after Daniel’s violent outburst at Merrill’s farm.

Though the story of Faith” begins in a hospital, with Sean working to recover from his injuries, the trajectory of the tale explores more settings and environments than any previous episode of the series. From wandering the highways of Nevada, to exploring a dusty motel, to sneaking into a remote church, Life is Strange 2‘s 4th entry never lacks for something new to see, or someone new to interact with.

Life is Strange 2
However, the cynical bent of the story is the new centerpiece of Episode 4. Though Life is Strange 2 has never sidestepped the controversy and division of Trump’s America, Faith” leans into these ideas with renewed fervor. Violence is committed more than once against our Mexican protagonist, and his skin color often sees him at odds with the more conservative denizens of the highways he journeys down. In a particularly telling exchange, Sean even finds himself beaten and placed on the other side of a closed compound, with a gun-toting guard glaring at him from the other side. Metaphors don’t really get much clearer than that.

This will, no doubt, lead to more calls of keeping politics out of games and other entertainment by the president’s more ardent supporters, but as other writers have pointed out, gaming has never been apolitical. Further, it would be categorically irresponsible to tell a story like this without addressing the elephant in the room. With these elements in mind, the politics of Life is Strange 2 have never been clearer than in Episode 4: “Faith”, and they account for some of the strongest storytelling fuel the series has found yet.

Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4: Faith
Politics aside, Life is Strange 2 also puts Sean at a variety of other disadvantages. His starting injuries include a lost eye that must be tended to medically throughout the episode, and the various beatings he takes throughout Episode 4 more than leave their mark. This leaves Faith as the typical darkest, and most troubling, episode of this second series, where we find our protagonist at his absolute lowest point, and must continue on with him in hopes of finding a better future. It’s a common enough trope, but one that is used to great effect here.

There are many returns of characters from previous episodes, some through letters and other communications, and others through surprising reveals and revelations. A particularly shocking character joins the story with zero preamble, and emerges as one of Life is Strange 2‘s finest editions yet. To spoil who, or how, would be criminal, but rest assured that Episode 4 is more full of surprises than any of the previous entries.

Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4: Faith
Though the main conflict that eventually reveals itself, that of Daniel being used as a messianic figure for an isolated Nevada church, feels contrived initially, the layers that are eventually revealed, and Daniel’s reason for joining the church, make a lot of sense in the overall scheme of things. Due to this strength of narrative, it really feels like all bets are off during the climax of Life is Strange 2: Episode 4, and that’s a good thing for a game so centered around the notion of interactive storytelling.

Fresh, prescient, and altogether rewarding, Life is Strange 2: Episode 4 — “Faith”, is a welcome piece of fiction in a society that has become so increasingly fragmented. It illustrates the horrors of the modern American landscape, but always remembers to remind us that there are good people out there, even when hope has never seemed so far away.

Strongly Recommended

Continue Reading

Games

I Still Don’t Understand ‘Death Stranding’ (and That’s a Good Thing)

Death Stranding could create an experience unlike any game before it, and while I can’t claim to understand it, I’m certainly excited for it.

Published

on

It may only be a few months until launch, but Death Stranding remains shrouded in mystery. This first independent project from gaming auteur Hideo Kojima has been an enigma ever since it was first announced. When the world first saw Norman Reedus standing on a foggy shoreline with a weeping fetus in his arms, many questions naturally arose. Why is a celebrity actor cradling an unborn child on a beach? What kind of gameplay could we expect from this? And what does “Death Stranding” even mean, anyway?

Years may have passed since that initial reveal, but in my view at least, these questions still haven’t been fully answered. I simply do not understand Death Stranding. It’s confounded me like few games before it have – and yet, that may be the very best thing about it. There’s something enticing about that mystery. Death Stranding could create an experience unlike any game before it, and while I can’t claim to understand it, I’m certainly excited for it.

Between trailers, interviews, and a fairly hefty amount of gameplay footage, there’s been an increasingly constant stream of information about Death Stranding for over a year now. This is especially true at Gamescom 2019, where the game has had an extensive presence with two full trailers and a live gameplay demonstration. For most games, this extensive amount of coverage should eliminate all the biggest questions, presenting a relatively clear idea of what the final product should be. But consider the content of Death Stranding’s most recent trailers: one consists entirely of an exposition dump about the power and proper maintenance of jarred fetuses, while another opens with Norman Reedus urinating in a field to create a giant mushroom before dropping off a package for Geoff Keighley. Previous trailers show ruined cities overflowing with tar, gold-masked lion monsters, and levitating shadow creatures. If you can make heads or tails of all that, then you’re certainly cleverer than I.

With every new piece of information, I find it more difficult to wrap my head around the game. Even with the few concrete details known about it, Death Stranding continues to defy simple categorization. Although it features stealth elements, it certainly doesn’t seem like another Metal Gear; while it will have a massive open world, it doesn’t look like it will follow in the footsteps of signature modern open worlds like Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild; and though it tells a story about reconnecting the broken cities of a post-apocalyptic United States, its mixture of stealth, politics, and the supernatural make it distinct from most other narrative-focused games out there. Each trailer introduces another wrinkle to the perplexing web of Kojima’s latest vision.

It is this very ambiguity that makes Death Stranding so enticing. With most games, it’s easy to understand them based on a quick glance at their trailer alone. This will reveal their genre, their personality, any unique gimmicks – all the usual culprits. But with Death Stranding, the more we learn about it, the more the mystery grows. At this point, it’s even difficult to pin the game into a single genre. Only the most ambitious games manage to create genres of their own, but from what we’ve seen so far, Death Stranding looks like it could be one of them. It could simply be little more than excellent marketing, but knowing that Kojima’s unbridled imagination is behind it, my hopes are high.

Death Stranding

It would make sense for Death Stranding to be so inventive given the circumstances behind its creation. For years, Kojima’s corporate overlords at Konami had stifled his creativity as they moved the company’s focus away from Kojima’s traditional titles like Metal Gear and Silent Hill towards more immediately lucrative pursuits such as mobile platforms and pachinko machines. Now that Kojima has freed himself from those restrictions and formed an independent studio of his own, his vision can run more freely than ever before. It’s to be expected that, finally presented with the opportunity to fully express his vision, he’d do so by creating something truly daring, something never seen before.

Of course, as attractive as the intrigue around Death Stranding may be, it doesn’t change that it’s difficult to really judge a game without knowing much about it at all. With so many important details remaining unspecified, there’s no telling whether Death Stranding will actually achieve its clear ambitions. If I were to view things pessimistically, I’d posit that the game’s ambiguity could be nothing more than an elaborate marketing scheme meant to mask the lackluster game beneath it. While I’m certainly much more optimistic about the game than that, I can’t deny the very real possibility that it could be the case.

But at the end of the day, I simply cannot resist the romantic allure of a game so surrounded by mystery. The core of Death Stranding may be wrapped in an inscrutable fog, but Kojima uses this layer of secrecy to invite players to experience a game that is truly new, an all-too-rare commodity in games today. Kojima hasn’t been free to express his vision so fully for years now, but at long last he has his chance. I cannot comprehend Death Stranding, and that’s exactly why I’m so excited for it.

Continue Reading
Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

Advertisement

Trending

Share
Tweet
Reddit
Pin