The holidays slow down the pace of new releases.
As we all had our eggnog, opened presents, rang in the new year, etc. etc., the Switch eShop was still humming, just at a reduced rate. Check out the new releases for the last week of December and this first week of January.
SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition (Released December 28; $19.99)
It would be easy to simply overlook a game that first came out in 2015 and has been ported several times, but to do so would be to deprive yourself of a truly special experience. Image & Form has done a masterful job of creating a unique 2D tactical RPG set in the SteamWorld universe. As a ragtag group of space pirates, you’ll control a team of steambots that infiltrate and pillage procedurally generated ships that house both loot and enemies. The combat system is similar to Mario + Rabbids: turn-based movement with the ability to either use your main gun or a number of different power ups that are earned through a leveling progression. The biggest difference between the two titles is that in Heist you aim your own weapon. Aiming varies from weapon to weapon. A pistol with a laser sight provides some direction but most guns require some good eye-balling and some luck. Add in some environmental advantages like barrels that provide shelter and bullet ricochet which all adds up to a fun and very replayable experience. David Lloyd (Check out the full review)
Sparkle Unleashed (Released December 28; $7.99 )
If you’re down for some casual ball-matching but either have exhausted Sparkle 2 already or prefer Luxor’s left/right shooter movement to Zuma’s pivoting shooter you’re in luck. For the most part it appears 10 Tons has taken the format and engine that worked well for Sparkle 2 and made some tweaks to change things up a bit. Just as before, you’ll have a ton of levels to conquer, some very useful specials to help you clear your lanes, and another whimsical and somewhat Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack. While it is playable in docked mode, handheld is still the most ideal. New this time, aside from the style of play, is the ability to choose what powers to unlock and some new varieties of balls including ones with chains that require a pair of matches to clear. Light and fun for either people who enjoy playing something casual while they watch TV or for non-gamer parents to enjoy when they confiscate the Switch for bad behavior. Justin Nation
Stikbold: A Dodgeball Adventure Deluxe (Released January 4; $15.99)
Stikbold sees you pursuing dodgeball fights, both in single- and multiplayer modes. A story mode takes you through it all in a quirky way, playable by yourself or with a co-op buddy. This mode has adorable cut scenes with text, funny grunts and even grander expressions. Sure, it isn’t anything mind blowing, but I had a good time watching it all unfold. The greater pleasure comes when hopping into the local multiplayer component. You can duke it out with up to six players across different locales, rules, and more. Four different mini-games also change up the rules quite significantly. Not sure what to play from all of that? In the Wheel of Rumpus mode, all the modes get mixed in a game show environment that raises the madness by just a couple of notches. While Stikbold has a lot to like, I do wish that there were a couple of extra locations, but it didn’t stop me from having fun. With its simple controls and pick up attitude, it has more than enough to keep my interest. - Daan Koopman
Pic-A-Pix Deluxe (Released January 4; $7.99)
I usually have doubts of knockoff Picross games. The crew at Jupiter and their Picross e games on 3DS and their lone Picross S game on Switch do very good work. I’m 40 puzzle sinto Lightwood Games’ Pic-A-Pix Deluxe and it’s near the top tier of video game Picross-likes. The best thing that it does is add a novel touch to puzzle solving. Instead of just black-and-white, color comes into play. That addition adds a new complexity, removing recognizable tells such as a gap needing to be in between each number. Now, different colors can be right next to each other. I welcome the twist, even if the UI is a tiny bit clunky. The cavalcade of colors can occasionally make it hard to navigate clues, but the good far outweighs the bad here. DLC down the line could make this a game I return to over and over. - Neal Ronaghan