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Messages - John Rairdin

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TalkBack / Panzer Dragoon II Zwei Remake Coming Later This Year
« on: February 26, 2021, 02:01:15 PM »


In a somewhat odd move, Forever Entertainment's official Panzer Dragoon twitter account seems to have confirmed a release window for Panzer Dragoon II Zwei Remake in the replies of another tweet. The reply confirms that the game is aiming for a release sometime this year.

The original Panzer Dragoon Remake released as a timed exclusive on Nintendo Switch last year, and has since come to other platforms. No platforms have currently been confirmed for the sequel. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei was originally released for the Sega Saturn and featured more diverse gameplay and significantly improved performance over the original game.

TalkBack / No More Heroes III Gets Long Awaited Release Date
« on: February 17, 2021, 01:13:00 PM »

And it's not too far away!

Switch owners will be able to check out the long awaited No More Heroes III later this year. Today's Nintendo Direct revealed that No More Heroes III will release on August 27th.


Don't worry, you don't have to use motion controls while riding the bus... but you could.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is on its way to Switch via The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. Beyond being upped to high defenition, Skyward Sword HD also features new control options. Two Joy Cons can be used to emulated the original Wii motion controls. A new motion free control setup is also available. In this mode the player can use the right stick to manipulate Link's sword and other motion based items.

In addition to the game itself are a set of Skyward Sword Joy Cons designed to match the Master Sword and Link's wooden shield in Skyward Sword. These will launch alongside the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is set to released July 16th.

TalkBack / Halloween Forever (Switch) Review
« on: February 16, 2021, 08:26:41 AM »

Forever includes February.

After releasing on PC way back in 2016, Halloween Forever arrives on Switch just in time for the spookiest holiday of the year, Valentines Day. Halloween Forever is a retro-inspired, 2D platformer that seems to take strong influence from the likes of Ghosts n’ Goblins. But it isn’t just the theme that alludes to NES classics, but its difficulty as well.

In Halloween Forever you play as the aptly named Pumpkin Man on a quest to defeat an evil sorcerer. Pumpkin Man can shoot (vomit?) candy corn from his mouth to attack enemies and that’s it. He’ll need to run, jump, and spew his way through five very challenging level and in classic style he’ll do this all in three lives. Movement feels very tight and as a platformer Halloween Forever handles very well. I did notice a few moments of questionable collision with platforms but never in any crucial areas. Boss fights likewise are all unique and challenging. I did find that the difficulty curve on bosses seemed a bit off, with some mid game bosses being incredibly easy compared to those before or after. However all were interesting and fun to fight, not to mention they feature the best sprite work of anything in the game. The area in which Halloween Forever struggles is in its camera placement relative to danger. Thwomp-like enemies constantly drop from off screen and jumps often involve blind leaps to surfaces mostly covered in spikes that instantly kill our pumpkin headed hero. Combined with the harsh checkpoint and limited lives these elements can quickly move from challenging to downright unfair. That being said, there are ways to mitigate the issue thanks to Halloween Forever’s difficulty options.

Halloween Forever’s approach to difficulty is interesting in that it defaults to a very authentic NES style experience. Pumpkin Man has three lives and checkpoints are extremely sparse. However, tucked away in the options menu are toggles for both more lives, 99 to be exact, and more regular checkpoints. While some will certainly see it as cheating, given the aforementioned reliance on trial and error, these options do make the game significantly more player friendly without actually affecting the difficulty of the level design. That being said, trial and error gameplay is entirely accurate to much of the game design being emulated here, so for some that more authentic presentation may be desired. It is also worth noting that Halloween forever doesn’t have a save system. It is only five stages long but those stages are not short.

While Halloween Forever doesn’t have the lavish pixel art of something like Shovel Knight, its simple art accomplishes its goal quite well. I especially appreciated that spots on characters that ought to be black are left blank meaning that in an instance of passing over a non-black section of the background you can see right through the sprite. Its an accurate and often-ignored quirk of the era. The color pallet used is appropriately garish with lots of oranges and bright greens. The color pallet actually brought to mind the strange visuals present in ZX spectrum games and I found it quite endearing. Music struggles a bit more than the visuals. While the compositions themselves are all fine, some of the sounds used are extremely grating. The music in the first level in particular grew quickly to feel like an insult for getting a game over.

Halloween Forever is a fun retro platformer that struggles a bit with some unfair difficulty spikes due to level layout in combination with the in-game camera. That being said multiple options are available for those who aren’t eager to return to the brutality of 80’s gaming. Boss fights are a highlight, and Pumpkin Man handles excellently. Some rough music doesn’t take away too much from the overall presentation which is otherwise very strong. Halloween Forever is a solid retro platformer for those looking for some authentic NES style challenge is running, jumping, and barfing.

TalkBack / Redout: Space Assault (Switch) Review
« on: January 29, 2021, 04:19:48 AM »

The strangest genre swap since we realized F-Zero was a prequel to Star Fox.

When a PR email hit my inbox about a Redout prequel, I opened it expecting to see a futuristic racing game. Instead I was greeted with Redout: Space Assault, a rail line shooter that seemed to bear little resemblance to the 2016 racer. After releasing on Apple Arcade in 2019, Redout: Space Assault now lands on Nintendo Switch. So how does this Space Harrier and Star Fox style, arcade adventure fare outside the realm of mobile gaming?

Redout: Space Assault takes place during a period of political upheaval. The governments of Earth, in a bid to maintain limited resources, have begun forcibly relocating citizens to the Moon. The plot deals with some interesting concepts and makes an honest attempt to be compelling. Unfortunately the moment to moment dialogue isn’t always enough to convey what’s going on or how much time is passing between missions. There are moments when the story is genuinely interesting, but more often I found myself zoning out.

In terms of gameplay, Redout: Space Assault places a heavy focus on locking multiple missiles on enemies rather than a traditional point-and-click fire mode. By default, your standard laser weapon fires automatically when your crosshair passes over an enemy. Initially I switched this over to manual, figuring it was a leftover from the title’s days on Apple Arcade. However, as I played it became clear that I was intended to let my standard weapons operate on their own while I managed missile locks. As you progress, you’ll unlock additional weapons to equip on your ship, and even the ability to have multiple attachments at the same time. This makes it even more practical to let the autofire do its thing.

Among Nintendo fans, Redout: Space Assault seems an easy comparison to Star Fox. And while, yes, they both occupy the same genre, Redout: Space Assault bears more in common with Sega’s sprite-scaling games like Space Harrier and Galaxy Force. It employs the same cylindrical play space and player movement that those games feature, rather than the conical structure of the Star Fox series. In other words, your ship always faces the same direction and aims down a tube rather than being able to turn slightly to hit targets on the far edges of the screen. This means that you can’t always hit enemies as soon as they come on screen or as they’re leaving. While it's clearly an intentional choice, it has always struck me as frustrating to see enemies, and occasionally power-ups, drift by outside my range of movement.

Added to rail line missions are a few free flight segments. Here, you’ll have full range of movement and generally be tasked with exploring space around you to find specific mission objectives. These segments are rare but they break up the gameplay nicely. My only issue with them is that objectives were sometimes unclear, causing me to wander the vastness of space, until I stumbled into the right spot. Certain boss fights also use an interesting orbiting mechanic. Here, your movement controls will cause you to orbit a target, challenging you to take shots at it while dodging incoming fire. It can be a little awkward at times as your ship will occasionally quickly flip between multiple targets, but overall it made for a nice addition to the traditional formula that I hadn’t really seen elsewhere.

Redout: Space Assault features over 40 missions and is very substantial in terms of content. Each mission has a primary and two secondary objectives. Additional objectives can be completed to earn extra credits to spend on upgrading your hull, shields, weapons, and missiles. This is where my only real complaint about Redout: Space Assault comes into play. As missions progress, enemies become more and more effective bullet sponges, forcing you to upgrade your ship in order to proceed. This results in having to return to old levels to pick up missed objectives or simply grind out credits. It breaks the story to have to continuously rewind to previous sections before you can proceed. It’s artificial padding and makes the game more about grinding out upgrades rather than your skill as a pilot, which somewhat goes against the arcade style Redout: Space Assault otherwise proudly flaunts.

Visually Redout: Space Assault looks quite nice on Switch, especially in handheld mode where it looks to run at or very near the Switch’s native 1280x720. It looks especially good when compared to the previous Redout game on Switch, which suffers from a very low resolution and visual downgrade compared to other platforms. Likely due to its Apple Arcade roots, Redout: Space Assault makes the transition quite gracefully.

Redout: Space Assault, while a generally fun game, seems to miss out on a few of the concepts that make the genre work. Arcade style games like this should be based on skill, with missions that continually pit the player against more complex piloting and shooting challenges. While this almost gets there, it falls back on artificial padding based on grinding out upgrades for your ship. That being said, when it does hit its stride, Redout: Space Assault has some truly thrilling moments. Racing pirates through the canyons of asteroids, or getting a multi-lock on a huge swarm of enemies as you dodge incoming fire is just as exciting as it should be. Redout: Space Assault gets very close to being something truly special. I would say I look forward to seeing them nail it with the next entry, but based on the series thus far, Redout 3 is likely to be a puzzle game or maybe a first-person shooter.

TalkBack / Bowser's Fury Blends Odyssey and Sunshine in a Bold New Way
« on: January 27, 2021, 04:11:09 AM »

Bowser may be furious but we certainly aren’t.

I wasn’t expecting much from Bowser’s Fury going in. While I certainly enjoy Super Mario 3D World as I do all the other 3D Marios, it is without a doubt on the lower end of my 3D Mario list. With that in mind, I questioned how much a bonus spin off could really offer me and how far it could deviate from the base game. The answer I found was that Bowser’s Fury is not only good, it might just be a glimpse at the future of 3D Mario. It takes some key mechanics of 3D World, much of the design philosophy of Odyssey, and a few core elements of Mario Sunshine, and what results is, in a word, fantastic.

The basic premise of Bowser’s Fury is that as Mario you need to collect Cat Shines, which will eventually allow you to power up and face down a giant kaiju Bowser, who’s been corrupted by some very familiar looking black sludge. To do this you’ll traverse a giant lake full of stages, each housing a few shines. On paper, it seems not too different from the classic 3D Mario structure started with Mario 64; however, Bowser’s Fury does something no previous 3D Mario has done: it presents an entirely unified world. There is no menu or hub world separating each stage; they’re simply laid out across a large map. And at the center, is the looming threat of Bowser, occasionally rising to wreak havoc across the entire map.

What results is a game that feels a bit like a giant map in Mario Odyssey but with individual, bespoke micro-levels rather than a constant smattering of moons. It solves my few complaints with Mario Odyssey without overloading every inch with macguffins. Each shine feels like it matters, and part of that ultimately feeds back into the way Bowser’s Fury presents its goal.

As previously mentioned, your goal is to defeat a giant kaiju-ed up Bowser. However unlike other 3D Marios where Bowser is presumably waiting at the end of a set level or beyond the collection of a specific number of Stars, Shines, or Moons, in Bowser’s Fury he is always present. He is a looming threat. He can become active at any time and drastically alter how you proceed. He may randomly strike during a platforming challenge and as a result make things infinitely more difficult, but his destructive nature may also inadvertently clear you a path. Even when he’s inactive, the constant presence of Bowser in the stage helps convey a feeling of purpose. Every shine you acquire is progress towards dealing with a very real threat that at any time is lingering in the background.

As I explored, I was for some reason reminded of Mario Sunshine, and it wasn’t just the aquatic theming of the game, or the presence of Baby Bowser’s paint brush. Finally it clicked that Bowser’s Fury is the realization of a concept that had first been explored in that game. In Mario Sunshine, a darkness covers Isle Delfino. Collecting shines fights back that darkness and allows you to clear up goop to access new areas, exactly how progress functions in Bowser’s Fury. But on a deeper level Sunshine was the first instance of the sense of place in relation to your goal that Bowser’s Fury executes on so well. Sunshine was unique in that rather than traveling from a hub world to arbitrary environments, you were traveling to other areas of the same island. In most cases, this meant that you could always look back and see a giant shine above Delfino Plaza, and the looming threat of Corona Mountain. Like Bowser’s Fury, your goal was constantly visible and that gives the player a sense of purpose. It's an element that no other Mario game has explored until now. In Mario 64, you vaguely knew that you needed to get to Bowser at the top of the castle; in the Galaxy Games and Odyssey, you were on a quest to reach Bowser who was somewhere far away. But in Sunshine and Bowser’s Fury, you know exactly where Bowser is at all times, and that provides worthwhile motivation to the player.

Bowser’s Fury may just be a bonus mode for Super Mario 3D World, but at the same time it may very well represent the future of the series. Bowser’s Fury implements classic 3D Mario ideas in bold new ways and in some respects is a more interesting evolution of these mechanics than even Mario Odyssey. Of course we can’t say too much just yet, but we’ll be exploring more of what Bowser’s Fury could mean for the future of the series in another feature once we’re clear of embargoes and able to explore the entirety of Bowser’s Fury. We’ll have a full review of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury soon, so keep an eye out for more as we draw closer to release.

TalkBack / Vote on the NWR 2021 Hype Meter
« on: December 29, 2020, 09:57:43 AM »

We want to know what your most anticipated games of 2021 are!

The NWR Hype Meter is back!

For those who may have missed it in the past, the feature is called the the NWR Hype Meter. It's meant to bring back those feelings many of us used to get when looking over Nintendo Power's most wanted games list. Like Nintendo Power, we need your help in figuring out what Nintendo games are the most wanted. This edition of the Hype Meter will also help serve as a preview for what's to come (hopefully) in 2021.

So what do you need to do? Fill out this form with your most wanted Nintendo things. This can include both first and third party games. You can also include games, such as indie titles, that haven't officially been announced for Switch but are likely to come to the platform. The list should be between five and ten titles in length with your most hyped game being ranked one, and the least hyped at ten.

You will have until January 7th to send in your list.

TalkBack / Doom Eternal (Switch) Review
« on: December 14, 2020, 02:05:24 PM »

"Nothing's impossible, Mario. Improbable, Unlikely, but never impossible." - Luigi on Doom ports

After an extended delay that led many to question its existence, Doom Eternal has arrived on Switch. For the gaming community as a whole, Doom Eternal was up against tough competition as the sequel to one of the best shooters of all time in Doom 2016. For Switch owners in particular though, Doom Eternal carries with it extra significance. It is not just a follow up to Doom 2016 but to the original impossible Switch port. Panic Button’s Doom 2016 port catapulted the studio to instant recognition among Nintendo fans, and opened the way for more seemingly impossible ports. However, Doom Eternal is an entirely new beast, featuring a new engine built with next generation hardware in mind, the Switch is up against stiffer competition than ever before. And of course beyond all of that, how does Doom Eternal stand against the pantheon of legendary games that is the Doom franchise?

Doom Eternal picks up where the last game left off. Demons let loose by the occult UAC organization on Mars have spread to Earth and made very short work of taking it over. You, the Doom Slayer, arrive in your flying space church to save your people from Hell’s onslaught and impart some double-barreled justice on an assortment of mortally challenged individuals. That’s about as much of the story as you need to know, but there’s a lot more dense lore in Doom Eternal than in the previous entry. In fact, the story as a whole is a much stronger focus and an area in which it struggles. I, and many others, praised Doom 2016’s very intentional disregard for long cutscenes and deep storytelling. Plenty of lore was there if you wanted to dig, but it was entirely optional to understand the plot. Doom Eternal places a greater focus on cutscenes, particularly in an effort to flesh out the Doom Slayer himself. However, just watching those cutscenes left me very confused as to what exactly was going on. I found that I needed to dig into codex entries and read up on characters to understand their relevance as the cutscenes never really tell you. It is as if Doom Eternal is caught in a struggle between wanting to tell a more compelling story while also understanding that the simplicity of its story is part of what made the previous game so endearing. All that being said, if you take the time to delve deep, there is a very cool story being told. However, if all you do is watch the cutscenes as they’re presented, you’ll find yourself more than a little lost at multiple points. Then again if you’re just here for the ripping and tearing, there is a handy skip button for those cutscenes.

The bread and butter of Doom Eternal’s gameplay is largely the same as Doom 2016. You move fast, you never reload, and you need to get in close to regain health. No hiding behind cover waiting for health to recharge. It is just as brilliant now as it was back in 2016. It forces an aggressive gameplay style out of the most timid player and forcibly aligns your actions with the mentality of the Doom Slayer. Rarely has a game’s design manipulated the psyche of the player with this degree of success, and it is what makes the modern Doom titles stand out from other shooters. New to Doom Eternal is a grapple system that allows the Slayer to swing, dash, and climb around the environment. It is a more freeform style of gameplay that works excellently in combat. It heightens the verticality of combat encounters providing both a means of escape when things go south, and a fresh avenue of attack on unsuspecting demons. These mechanics also come into play in general world exploration. Because of this, Doom Eternal features a heavier focus on platforming challenges than the previous entry or most first-person shooters in general. Overall, this works quite well, though I did find that movement when climbing is very stiff, and spotting the various grappling points when playing in handheld can be a little difficult due to the resolution.

Between each level, you return to the USS Spooky Church in orbit around earth. Here you can spend power cells hidden throughout levels to unlock more and more of the ship. The rooms unlocked generally lead to weapon or armor upgrades or even cosmetic changes for your armor. For myself, I set aside all other cosmetics once I saw the room containing the armor from the very first Doom. You can also unlock the first two Doom games from here which run hilariously poorly compared to the ports already available on Switch. Somebody tell the Doom Slayer to get an Nintendo 64. Overall, it is an implementation similar to what we saw in Wolfenstein 2. However its presence in Doom Eternal largely serves to slow down pacing with little of significance taking place. It often just felt like an extra loading screen to get through and I wished I could simply opt to skip it in favor of moving on with the game.

While I disagree with certain changes made to the single-player experience, the end result remains a fantastic game. For every change that flies in the face of the original game design, there is another that heightens it. While the net shift in quality is minor, it is already working from a place of excellence, meaning Doom Eternal’s game design is different but still incredible.

Multiplayer doesn’t fare quite as well. Gone are the multiple game modes of the original which brought a Quake-like experience to the franchise. Instead, a single game mode is present, in which two players take control of demons that can spawn additional demons to try and take down another player who controls the Doom Slayer. It is asymmetric for the sake of being asymmetric and ultimately serves as a sad replacement for the original’s excellent multiplayer. The mode itself makes for a fine distraction, but I can’t see myself putting the same amount of time into it that I did into Doom 2016’s multiplayer.

But of course the moment of truth for all of this comes down to the port itself. Doom Eternal is a much more expansive, visually impressive, and technically demanding game than the prior entry. Environments are more varied, more open, and traveled faster than anything in the original. Remarkably, to my eyes the Doom Eternal port on Switch actually runs better than the original despite this, and certainly well beyond Wolfenstein 2. Our old friend variable resolution is here of course, but performance is remarkably steady. I never noticed the more significant slow down that was visible in the original. I also never felt like the handheld resolution dropped as low as Wolfenstein 2, which was at times debilitating. Yes, the resolution is lower, and yes the framerate is capped at 30 frames per second, but what results might just be Panic Button’s finest work to date. It also includes gyro controls at launch unlike the original which did not receive them until later. This is without a doubt the way to play and works great in both handheld and portable modes. It is unfortunate that this release is relegated to being digital only as I believe it is truly the most impressive port I’ve ever played from Panic Button.

As a solo experience, Doom Eternal is simultaneously better and worse than its predecessor. It makes a lot of small changes that generally work, but also speak to a misunderstanding of the original. While changes to movement via the grapple system are largely excellent and improve the already fantastic combat system, changes to progression and story presentation just slow down what had previously been an incredibly fast-paced thrill ride. When Doom Eternal gets past its secondary elements and just allows itself to be Doom, it outdoes Doom 2016 without question. Multiplayer is, however, a significant disappointment for anyone like me who greatly enjoyed the original’s implementation. All that being said, from a port perspective, Doom Eternal is a downright miracle. It somehow presents a much more complex game even better than it presented the original.

TalkBack / Chronos: Before the Ashes (Switch) Review
« on: December 08, 2020, 08:06:00 AM »

A souls-like for those afraid of souls-likes?

I was interested in Chronos: Before the Ashes for two reasons. Firstly, it is an award winning VR game turned more traditional third-person adventure game. Secondly, it was developed by Gunfire Games, a studio consisting of many of the old Darksiders developers and who developed Darksiders III. That being said, I had no idea what to expect going in. I knew of Chronos and its sequel Remnant: From the Ashes but had not played either. While it took a moment to get its claws in, once they were, I stayed hooked.

Chronos tells the story of a young hero who makes use of an object called a World Stone. This mysterious crystal-like object allows them to leave their post apocalyptic home and travel into a world of medieval fantasy. Their ultimate goal is to hunt down a legendary dragon responsible for the desolation of their home. The juxtaposition is a little jarring at first. The ragged though still recognizably modern clothing of the hero stands out somewhat against their more traditional sword and shield. I quickly became accustomed, however, and while Chronos: Before the Ashes isn’t the most visually impressive game on Switch, the solid chunky art design that Gunfire is known for gives the game their distinctive flavor.

Chronos: Before the Ashes is in simplest terms, a Souls-like: A roguelite that takes heavy influence from the work of From Software’s Souls series. This isn’t in itself surprising as Gunfire’s own Darksiders III also takes on this format. What makes Chronos special is the way it takes arguably the most famously daunting genre in gaming and makes it accessible. This is not to say Chronos is easy, but the way in which it focuses its difficulty creates a much more tuned experience than I’ve previously had in this genre. Adding to this is a unique aging mechanic that turns death itself into a tangible though somewhat ominous sense of progress.

As you weave your way through the labyrinthian, interconnected world, you’ll encounter a wide variety of monsters and characters across its different realms. Every so often, you’ll come across new World Stones that serve as both checkpoints and fast travel points once activated. If you fall in battle, you’ll be returned to the last World Stone you passed. Unlike in many other games of this type, you cannot rest at a checkpoint to regain health in exchange for all enemies respawning. Healing items are also limited to a set amount per life, and while you can find opportunities to expand the number of them you carry, you cannot refill them in any way other than dying. Outside of leveling up or using one of these finite healing items, your health cannot be replenished. This means that you are always working your way slowly towards death and will eventually run out of ways to stave it off. When you respawn you’ll not only return to the last checkpoint, but your character will have aged one year. As they age their attributes will slowly change. The agility of youth will gradually make way for a knowledge of arcane magic gained over the years. Leveling up by defeating enemies will also grant you skill points that can be put into different categories. Some of these will become unavailable once you get beyond a certain age while others will open up. It is in this way that dying represents a unique form of progress.

As mentioned prior, Chronos: Before the Ashes is a more focused experience than many of its type. It accomplishes this by cutting down significantly on the loot and armor systems one would usually expect to find. Rather than picking up individual weapons, armor, and items, enemies instead will occasionally drop shards used to upgrade your weapons. Weapons are only found in specific locations or by completing certain quests; there are no random drops. While at first this may sound like a simplification of the formula, I found myself very quickly drawn in by it. So often in similar games I arrive at a boss only to find that they’re not weak to the specific way I’ve built up my character, or I’ve missed out on a weapon because I didn’t get that random loot drop. In Chronos, I could focus on my weapons and that’s it. Each weapon feels different, and any of them can be upgraded to continue to be viable weapons even into the late game. Chronos: Before the Ashes also has a stronger focus on puzzle solving than most games of this type. Throughout the journey you’ll pick up key items and come across clues to solve varied and interesting puzzles. In fact this is the first game of its ilk where I can remember getting stuck on a puzzle more often than a tough enemy.

All of this is great, and I thoroughly enjoyed most of my time with Chronos, but unfortunately, performance and some underlying bugginess dull what ought to be quite a solid experience. Docked mode holds up quite well, actually. Once again this isn’t the most visually impressive game on any platform so the Switch version is passable. Handheld mode, conversely, runs into very real framerate issues even when only fighting a single enemy. Given how much combat relies on careful timing this can become a serious problem. It is also incredibly dark when playing portably, regardless of environmental conditions. That being said if you plan to play on the TV, these issues shouldn’t affect you as much. What will, though, is some occasionally strange collision detection between your character and the environment and a rough camera. At multiple points, I found my character stuck on what appeared to be an ornamental detail on the floor. It was clear that this wasn’t supposed to stop my character from moving, but for some reason it was reading as a collision. Pair this with a camera that too easily loses its lock on an enemy or gets trapped in scene geometry and specific encounters can get frustrating. Given that the original presentation of Chronos was as a VR game with a camera placed in fixed position, it makes sense that the dynamic camera may still have some issues to work out.  

I’ve been tempted to describe Chronos: Before the Ashes as “baby’s first souls-like” but that would imply an easiness that isn’t there. Combat is brutal, and the puzzles demand you fully explore the world around you. However, it does all this in a way that is much more player friendly than one might expect. Its simplification of the loot and character customization systems does wonders for approachability. Add to this a genuinely unique aging mechanic and Chronos: Before the Ashes manages to stand out from the crowd in a genre that seems bent on enraging its player base. While I wish the Switch version, particularly handheld mode, was more robust, I still greatly enjoyed my time with it. There is a very satisfying adventure here, but on Switch you may need to dig a little deeper to find it.

TalkBack / The History of Wing Commander and Nintendo
« on: November 02, 2020, 05:21:01 AM »

Ambitious ports and a lost game.

Wing Commander and Nintendo aren't exactly synonymous but the two do share a fascinating history. From ambitious ports spanning two systems and a finished game that was never released, join us to explore the history of this relationship.

TalkBack / Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm (Switch) Review
« on: October 28, 2020, 08:00:00 AM »

An RPG for Zelda fans or a Zelda game for RPG fans?

Fresh off its exclusivity to Apple Arcade, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, has arrived on Nintendo Switch. It is equal parts classic JRPG and The Legend of Zelda, landing not too far off from something like the Mana series. But can this expansive indie adventure live up to the titles it has been compared to?

While I don’t usually start my reviews with graphics and technical performance, I myself was caught off guard by them so immediately, they need to be given a moment here at the beginning. Oceanhorn 2, whether playing docked or handheld, is incredibly good looking. In fact I’d feel perfectly comfortable calling it one of the best looking games I’ve played on Switch all year. Add to that its very short loading times and you have a game that is set to stun right from the get go.

Oceanhorn 2 sees you playing as a nameless hero. After retrieving a mysterious lockbox and completing your training as a knight, you quickly find yourself on an epic quest against a mysterious evil force. Along the way you’ll pick up a tropey though charming cast of party members including a princess who refuses to act like a princess and wants to fight, along with a robot who seems technologically more advanced than the world around him. This is where we immediately see a contrast between the clearly Zelda influenced progression and more JRPG inspired elements. This is essentially a 3D Zelda game that you play with a party. This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for dungeons and puzzle solving. Depending on a party member's weapons they’ll have different uses throughout the adventure. For example a ranged party member may be able to flip a distant, unreachable switch. But more realistically you’ll be using them to do the jobs of heavy rocks and hold down buttons. They also serve to smooth over one of Oceanhorn 2’s greater failings, the combat.

Combat in Oceanhorn 2 fluctuates between, “I can live with this,” and “why oh Lord hast thou forsaken me?” On the surface it looks to operate much like modern 3D Zelda. You have an attack button, a dodge roll, and a shield. Hitting the shield at the right time will even parry and knock the enemy off balance. The problem is there is no targeting system unless you are actively blocking, which prevents you from using other abilities. On top of this there is a degree of input latency between pressing the block and when your character actually performs the action, making nailing the timing of blocks very difficult. As you build up your party they’ll help take some of the pressure off you which makes things a bit more manageable. New abilities and items you find along the way also help to give you options that work a bit better. Regardless, combat is easily the weakest part of Oceanhorn 2.

The rest of the experience fares much better. The world itself is a joy to explore. While not entirely open right away, the world opens up in stages. The progression of the story is quite linear but you’re regularly given opportunities to stray from the primary storyline and explore optional areas. I even found instances where I was able to get a key item a little earlier than it was required. I appreciated that despite some minor sequence breaking it didn’t seem to trip up the game design. In fact I was able to immediately interact with things I was likely intended to have returned for later. When you dive into a cave expecting some extra cash and come out with a grappling hook, you know you’re in for a good day. I did find that some of the secondary uses of various items were a little vague and unexplained. For example, an electricity spell can be used to bridge electrical connections between various points. I was able to find some text that told me I could do that but nothing to tell me how. Frustratingly, charges on these spells have to be built up by gathering materials in the environment, so every time I’d try and fail I’d have to gather resources before I could try again. For the record I had to hold down the aim button, fire the spell, continue to hold down the aim button, and remain looking at the target until the spell had hit. Then while still holding down the aim button I could look around to drag the electric current to another point. Look away too soon or pull your hand off the aim button and the charge will dissipate. Maybe I simply missed a tutorial somewhere but it was a lot to figure out through trial and error. This was however the greatest offender, and other abilities were much clearer. I appreciated that each could be used both in puzzles and in combat.

As you progress you’ll gain experience points that will strengthen your character. You’ll also find shards that can be slotted into any of your items to enhance them. It is up to you what you upgrade and when. You can also remove upgrades at any point allowing for some experimentation. Overall I enjoyed the simplicity of Oceanhorn 2’s RPG elements. They open the door for greater customization of the player character than one would expect to find in a Zelda like, without being overwhelming. As a result I can’t help but think that Oceanhorn 2 could make a great gateway RPG for Zelda fans whose experience with the genre is minimal.

Oceanhorn 2 has one or two glaring weaknesses. I certainly had moments of real frustration, but upon overcoming them I’d once again be presented with a world I couldn’t help but explore. The story is fun, if a little predictable. Dungeons and puzzles in the world are varied and just the right degree of challenging. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that it is a gorgeous game that holds its own as one of the prettier on Switch. The genre blending mechanics that Oceanhorn 2 brings to the table help to elevate it above the failings it has. Some bumps along the way can’t prevent this from being a journey worth taking.

TalkBack / Supraland (Switch) Review
« on: October 25, 2020, 11:27:29 AM »

A gorgeous world to stumble through.

Supraland is built from a lot of pieces I enjoy. It is a sandbox, both figuratively and literally. It allows you to play in a real world environment on a micro scale. It gives the player freedom and is constantly evolving. On top of that it looks great too. Unfortunately Supraland too often trips on its own ambition, and the result is oftentimes confusing games.

Supraland’s story set up is quite simple. Your village of little red guys has been attacked by the village of little blue guys, and you’re on a quest to find out why. Oh, and the entire thing takes place in a child’s sandbox. Gameplay takes place across an ever growing open world. Areas of the world are separated by gates and challenges. Exploring an area yields abilities and upgrades that will allow you to explore more areas, get more upgrades, and so on. This would all be well and good as this is essentially 3D Metroid, unfortunately the world is frustrating to explore. There is no map in Supraland, which becomes more and more of a problem as the often samey looking environment opens up more and more. It can also be unclear exactly where you are and aren’t supposed to go. You can regularly cheese your way up cliff faces and reach areas early. Alternatively I’d find myself struggling to climb to a spot I was sure must be important, only to come to the realization that the designers had never intended for me to reach it in the first place. I spent an incredible amount of my time with Supraland wandering aimlessly hoping I wandered into the right corner of the map to find the ability I needed to push the story forward. Occasionally everything would click. I’d get that classic metroidvania surge of excitement as I realized an ability could open an area I’d passed earlier. But these moments were rare and ultimately decayed back into the same old monotony.

Supraland controls reasonably well. This is good as puzzles often require adept first-person platforming. Combat early on is entirely melee based and relatively easy. You can essentially spam the attack button as quickly as possible and become an unstoppable death machine. A little later on you’ll get a gun. It opens up a lot of nice possibilities for puzzle solving and exploration, but the aim isn’t quite fine enough to make it particularly effective in combat.  

If nothing else Supraland carries with it a fair amount of charm. Visually it looks quite impressive, and character dialogue is often quite funny. I especially enjoyed the religious zealots who are convinced you’re living in a sandbox, much to the confusion of everyone around them. I’ve long been a fan of exploring the world on a small scale. Supraland pulls this off very well with most of the environment being made of recognizable objects that appear huge to your tiny hero. The characters themselves don’t quite pull this off as well. The red and blue people look more like gummy restroom signs than any recognizable toys. Likewise the enemies just seem like cartoony fantasy enemies rather than something one might find in a sandbox.

Supraland is an eye-catching game with some great ideas behind it. Unfortunately its world design flounders so incredibly that it manages to drag everything else down with it. If you’re patient enough, there are fun moments to be had here. But they’re constantly bookended by confused wandering through what ought to be a much more interesting world.

TalkBack / What's Next for Star Fox
« on: October 23, 2020, 09:38:03 AM »

TalkBack / Pumpkin Jack (Switch) Review
« on: October 23, 2020, 09:35:00 AM »

A fun spook for any season.

Holiday themed games don’t exactly have an illustrious history in terms of quality. More often than not they’re a quick cash grab to lure in those looking for some cheap seasonally appropriate entertainment to blow through then throw away. I assumed such would be the case with Pumpkin Jack, releasing just in time for Halloween. But the trailer left me wondering if maybe there might be a little more here than expected.

Pumpkin Jack is an action platformer. You play as the titular Jack who is summoned by the Devil himself to help defeat mankind’s hero, the wizard. Unfortunately, the armies of Hell aren’t particularly bright and will wind up getting in your way just as often as the desperate humans. Jack isn’t too discerning either however and you’ll find yourself simply mowing down whatever gets in your way.

Levels play out mostly linearly, featuring a combination of fast hack and slash combat, platforming, and the occasional haunted horse ride or runaway minecart. Combat is simple. Jack only has one attack button but he also has a crow friend who can attack enemies at range. At the end of each stage you fight a large boss. Each one is built on a similar concept of a circular arena and a clear attack pattern, but individual fights still vary greatly. After these fights Jack will pick up a new weapon which has new moves. While you can always Switch weapons whenever you want, it is generally the case that each weapon is better than the last. They each handle differently and add some nice variety, but there is rarely a reason to revisit an old weapon once you’ve got a new one. Combat feels a little loose but it’s also never too punishing. The same cannot be said of the platforming.

Platforming in Pumpkin Jack can be very demanding, especially when seeking out any of the collectable crow skulls hidden throughout each stage. These can be used to purchase alternate outfits for Jack but can also be a real challenge to get to. Jack has a bit of an odd sense of momentum to him that takes some real getting used to. It is consistent so get used to it you will, but oftentimes a failed jump leads to a death pit. Reloading from death takes around twenty seconds. It is not an obscenely long time but it is long enough that platforming mistakes quickly become unduly punishing. However, once you get a feel for the platforming it is a very satisfying challenge.

What truly elevates Pumpkin Jack is its variety. While yes the core of the game is running, jumping, and slashing, each level also has its own unique mechanics. One will see you riding a Donkey Kong style minecart as you lean from side to side to stay on the track and jump obstacles. Another sees you racing in a cart atop the battlements of a castle, taking out human soldiers on your way. Still another sees you dragged by the head by a gargoyle as you desperately weave through graves. At times Jack may remove his head entirely to enter more puzzle focused environments. These rarely repeat as well and offer just as much variety as the rest of the game. I did have some brief technical issues in some of these stages in which Jack's head would become lodged beneath the scene geometry. In most instances I was able to simply jump and regain my footing (heading?), however at one point I wound up having to reload after Jack’s head fell straight through into the void.

Pumpkin Jack’s whole presentation is just delightful. It strives for and achieves its Halloween theme in every conceivable way. And I don’t just mean they put pumpkins everywhere and made it dark. Each level has its own look while fitting into the overall aesthetic. It does definitely look better docked than it does in handheld. While docked it looks sharp despite its sub 1080 resolution, handheld mode tends to look somewhat muddy. It isn’t bad, but it doesn’t do the art design justice. Even the soundtrack is downright perfect. I could easily enjoy this soundtrack entirely independent of the game itself. The whole thing feels a bit like if late 90’s Rareware had taken a spin at Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s something a little nostalgic about it despite it feeling entirely its own. You will notice some slowdown, especially in areas with lots of effects and enemies floating around the screen. For me it never got too bad at the wrong time, but it would be easy for the perfect storm of slowdown to hit during a platforming challenge and cause some real frustration.

Pumpkin Jack is only a few hours long, but it feels very complete. It lasts exactly as long as it should without ever really getting repetitive. Combat can start to feel a little ridiculous towards the end as it throws huge amounts of enemies at you in a desperate attempt to provide a challenge against your evermore powerful weapons. But platforming and other gameplay elements keep things from getting stale. Pumpkin Jack is a surprisingly charming package that is worth playing through in this or any season.

TalkBack / Mario Kart Live Can Be Played Docked And On Carpet
« on: October 06, 2020, 02:28:00 PM »

Not quite all terrain but more than one.

We've confirmed with Nintendo today that as was briefly glimpsed in a recent trailer, you can indeed play Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit while the Switch is docked. Marketing for the augmented reality kart racer has focused almost exclusively on a handheld experience. However a brief glimpse in a recent trailer lead us to question Nintendo directly, who confirmed for us that it can be played on a television as well.

In addition to this, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit can also be played on carpet, though the height of the carpet will no doubt have an impact. Nintendo assures us however that it will run just fine on low pile carpet or on a rug. Rest assured we'll be testing out the full versatility of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit when it releases on October 16th.

TalkBack / Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (Switch) Review
« on: September 28, 2020, 06:06:59 AM »

An incredible modern take on classic space sims.

I first encountered Rebel Galaxy Outlaw while browsing Twitter for space games years ago. What I saw was a game that clearly took inspiration from one of my favorite series growing up. Following the game’s development and seeing posts from its developers confirmed this initial suspicion. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a modern take on Wing Commander, in particular the more open ended Wing Commander Privateer spinoffs. It exudes the rustic charm of those 90’s classics while feeling totally its own in its modernization of these mechanics. That being said the history of Wing Commander and Nintendo was always more ambitious than it was successful, with the systems never quite being able to hold up to the scope of those games. So how will Rebel Galaxy Outlaw convert its complex space-sim gameplay, onto Nintendo’s latest system?

In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw you play as Juno Markev, a woman on a quest to hunt down her husband's killer. At the start of the game your ship has been destroyed and you find yourself flying what is essentially a space dump truck. It is pretty bare bones at first, but by taking on jobs and exploring the vastness of space, you’ll slowly earn credits to upgrade it. The story unfolds slowly, as you’ll likely spend much of your time doing side quests. The difficulty of the primary quest line increases very quickly, and it won’t take long before you’re completely outclassed by the objectives thrown at you. It took me a moment to realize just how much side questing I needed to be doing. Luckily there is plenty of variety, but it's important to go into Rebel Galaxy Outlaw understanding that it is much more interested in being a space-sim than it is in telling a story. But if you’re the type like me who enjoys slowly upgrading and eventually swapping out ships as you take on harder and harder challenges, there is a lot to like here.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is completely open almost from the start. You’ll need to save up to buy a jump drive, but once you do space is open to you. The map is broken up into systems connected by jump gates. Each system will have a combination of stations, planets, and outposts, each with their own alliance. While on stations or planets you can buy weapons, defenses, and other gear for your ship, trade out your ship entirely, trade goods, or just go to the bar and play pool. In fact, the pool minigame is remarkably full featured and incredibly distracting. Once you pull yourself away from the tables you can also accept missions. The types of missions you take on will affect how you’re perceived in regards to lawfulness. This perception affects how NPCs react to your presence. A lawful player who avoids hauling stolen goods will be able to move freely through jump gates and stations but won’t have access to pirate controlled stations and jump gates. It isn’t just quests either, how you react to distress signals and other events you encounter will factor into this as well. In general, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw offers the player a lot of freedom. You can join merchant or mercenary guilds to get higher paying jobs of specific types. Want to go after bounties and play this as a straight up shooter, go for it. Prefer to be a space trucker hauling goods across the sector, have at it.

Like any good space-sim, your ship controls are robust. The challenge for any console port is getting a keyboard’s worth of controls onto a traditional controller. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw manages this quite well. Most actions are mapped to a single button with only a few more advanced techniques requiring button combos to pull off. Much of this is thanks to a radial menu that can be brought up to manage several non-flight related functionalities. Here you’ll find basic things like maps and a scanner, along with power distribution. At any time you can divert power between shields, engines, and weapons to prioritize recharges to specific systems. Whenever using any function from the radial menu or your coms, the game slows down to a crawl allowing you to navigate the menus even during intense combat.

The Switch holds up surprisingly well under some substantial demands. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a beautiful game with bright contrasting colors and stylized explosions. I was surprised to see just how visually complete the Switch version was. Yes the resolution is lower, though not to a disabling degree, and some textures are a little blurry, but it is still gorgeous. I did notice some slowdown when I wound up engaged in combat in heavily populated areas such as the space around planets and near stations. It was never debilitating however, and cleared up quickly. Early on I worried that loading times seemed a bit lengthy, but they cleared up as I preceded. I’m not sure if this was simply more of an issue in early areas, or if perhaps elements were being cached in some way to speed up future loading. Either way it ultimately seemed to have resolved itself after my first half hour or so of gameplay. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is undoubtedly one of the prettier games of this type on the system. Likewise the soundtrack is excellent featuring a combination of original music which skews towards southern rock and country, along with a huge library of licensed music. The licensed music is spread across several radio stations, each with their own genre. Stations also have DJs and commercials. Juno will even comment if you change the station as soon as a commercial comes on. It is an incredibly complete package and I’ve even found myself making note of some of the bands featured to go listen to later.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a game that knows its audience very well. It is unapologetic in its targeting of a specific and abandoned fanbase. If the idea of hitting the autopilot button and watching your ship fly past the camera dramatically, or opening up a com to tell your wingmates to break and attack sounds nostalgic, congratulations you’re it. Surprisingly this doesn’t make it unapproachable to the inexperienced. Despite its complexity its systems are laid out clearly. Its controls, while deep, are easy to manage. This is a sprawling space-sim RPG that builds excellently on the path tread by its predecessors. The Switch version, while not without some hiccups, is highly impressive. While yes the sharp uptick in difficulty found in the primary questline is a bit jarring, so long as you’re willing to put in the time it can be overcome.

TalkBack / Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity Gets a New Trailer and Gameplay
« on: September 26, 2020, 07:15:00 AM »

A closer look at each of our champions

As part of their TGS Presentation this morning, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo showed off a new trailer and gameplay for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The trailer gives us a quick look at each of the four champions and shows off a bit more of the world. The trailer can be found below. Beyond this Nintendo also confirmed that Impa will be a playable character. This makes her the first character beyond Link, Zelda, and the Champions, to be confirmed as playable.

At the beginning of the trailer we also see Akkala Citadel in flames, an event referenced in dialogue during Breath of the Wild but never seen. This was something we predicted after watching the original trailers for Age of Calamity. The full original trailer analysis can be found below.

TalkBack / Embracelet (Switch) Review
« on: September 23, 2020, 05:28:38 AM »

Brace yourself for the feels.

Arguably the best part of reviewing games is stumbling into something magical when you weren’t expecting it. Such is the case with Embracelet, a game that’s low poly art style first caught my eye when it was initially revealed. But what started as an affinity for simplistic 3D graphics resulted in playing through Embracelet in a single sitting, experiencing a range of emotions, and coming to the realization that I had just played one of the best narrative-driven games of my life.

Embracelet tells a coming of age story of Jesper, a 17-year-old boy looking to find out more about his grandfather. Jesper was given a magical bracelet by his grandfather that allows him to manipulate the world around him. A series of events early on lead Jesper to travel alone to a small island called Slepp, where his grandfather grew up. Slepp is in a state of economic decline as local fishermen have been outdone by larger companies. Few people remain on the island, and there is a pervasive tone of sadness and loneliness as you wander across it.

Jesper’s week on the island is spent exploring, helping the residents, and befriending the only other two kids living there. Dialogue options allow the story to deviate somewhat in how Jesper relates to these characters, and all of these relationships are incredibly well written. It is hard to convey just how engrossing the world of Embracelet is without digging into spoilers. The characters, especially Jesper and his two friends, Karoline and Hermod, are excellently written. Your relationship with these characters can deepen as much or as little as the player desires, and their interactions are genuinely charming.

There is very little in the way of traditional gameplay in Embracelet. This is a game about experiencing the relationships and world that Jesper is exploring. Most of Embracelet’s gameplay comes in the form of wandering around the island, talking to its residents, and solving some light puzzles. Jesper’s bracelet allows him to move objects in the environment and ultimately feeds into a much more complex underlying plot that I won’t get into for spoiler reasons. Suffice it to say that Embracelet carries with it a strong sense of mystery that plays out behind the otherwise slice-of-life style adventure. Using the bracelet brings up two rings that move towards each other. You have to push a button as they overlap to successfully use the bracelet. However, there is no punishment for failing other than having to try again. You can even go into the options and slow the rings down if you want it to be easier. You can’t die, and while the journey can ultimately take different forms, there isn’t really a bad ending. All that being said, the absence of traditional gameplay challenges was not missed here. For as simple as Embracelet is, I couldn’t stop playing.

The visuals, which once again were what initially peaked my interest, are sublime, as is the music. Both visually and auditorily one could describe Embracelet as quiet. This is not to say the visuals are without beauty or that music is absent, but that both are present in a calm, peaceful way. I could listen to the soundtrack all day, and very likely will. Take a screenshot of any moment and you’re left more with a work of wonderful low-poly art than a still of a game. Embracelet is in every way beautiful.

Reviewing a game like Embracelet is difficult. It can be hard to convey the allure of something so simple, or the emotional impact of such a calm, quiet game. I think the only way to truly explain it is to describe the moment of watching the credits roll by. I felt honest joy for the characters. After four hours, I cared about them. I felt a deep sense of sadness that my time with them was over. I wanted to stay in this world. Not because there was some grand adventure to be had, but because I wanted to keep spending time with these characters. I wanted to see where their lives would take them. Embracelet is a brief glimpse into a beautiful world, and while I’m sad it's over, I’m glad I was able to be part of it while I could.

TalkBack / Super Punch Patrol (Switch) Review
« on: September 17, 2020, 05:05:42 AM »

There sure is a lot of rage on these streets.

Super Punch Patrol is simultaneously a bold new genre for Gunman Clive and Mechstermination Force creator, Bertil Horberg, as well as exactly what you’d expect from one of his games. Super Punch Patrol knows exactly what it wants to be, a 16-bit era beat-’em-up, and executes on that goal perfectly. While it brings with it some of the dated elements of its inspiration, it is hard to ignore just how perfectly it encapsulates its source.

As one would expect from a brawler that could grace the Super Nintendo or the Sega Genesis, Super Punch Patrol follows three police officers in a town run by crime. Jorts, leather, suspenders, and skateboards permeate the character designs in a delightfully accurate satire of games like Streets of Rage. Even the playable characters themselves follow the traditional beat-’em-up trinity: the middle of the road dude, the fast acrobatic lady, and the giant strong guy. Outside of its use of polygonal graphics, everything about Super Punch Patrol feels like it was ripped straight from the classics. The best part is it isn’t just impersonating them; it nails the mechanics perfectly. It honestly might feel more like Streets of Rage than the recent Streets of Rage 4 does.

Levels are multi-phased, with the player passing through a couple environments before reaching a boss, and levels are extremely varied. One early stage had me skateboarding across a bridge, fighting other guys on skateboards, and knocking yet more guys off of motorcycles. I had to pause to laugh when the stage started as it was so ridiculous but so perfect. I did occasionally find that the time limits placed on the levels were sometimes very harsh, and that I needed to rush to get through them in time. One level in particular forced me to brute force the boss rather than waiting through his pattern in order to clear the level. Fortunately multiple difficulties are available as the base difficulty is also very accurate to the classics. You have limited lives and continues, with no saves. While I appreciate the “get good” attitude, a slightly more modern friendly mode might have made for a nice addition. You can play the entire game with a friend, which helps a bit with difficulty, but it’s still no walk in the park.

Super Punch Patrol sports what I suppose I would call Horberg’s signature art style. Everything looks like a living sketchbook. It looked great in Gunman Clive, but Super Punch Patrol absolutely takes it to the next level. Every stage, character, and item is beautifully rendered, and the game looks fantastic in docked or handheld. The music and sound are likewise excellent. In particular, the death cries of enemies are heavily bit-crunched, making them sound just like something I’d expect to come out of my Sega Genesis.

Super Punch Patrol is very clearly a painstakingly accurate love letter to classic beat-’em-ups. What's fascinating is it manages to invoke this without the need for a throwback art style. It draws on its inspiration in gameplay rather than presentation, which is very refreshing. Of course the difficulty will scare some off, but fans of the genre will absolutely want to give Super Punch Patrol a shot. Grab a friend, and fight your way through these crime filled streets as you punch your way to justice.

"The Perfectly Subtle Remaster..."

It's not a remaster. It's literally just an N64 rom running in a Switch emulator. That's been confirmed in pre-release coverage. The emulator may be applying some filters to make it look nicer, but Nintendo didn't do **** when it came to remastering the game

... That's not how filters work. The manner of getting a game to run is less important than the final results. If we throw out anything that emulates old code I have horrible news about a lot of remasters.

TalkBack / The Perfectly Subtle Remaster of Super Mario 64 in 3D All-Stars
« on: September 16, 2020, 09:00:22 AM »

It may not be a full on remake, but Super Mario 3D All-Stars version of Mario 64 is hiding quite a few upgrades

TalkBack / Super Mario Bros. 35 Brings Battle Royal Action to Classic Mario
« on: September 03, 2020, 05:45:15 AM »

Player 35 has entered the game.

Super Mario Bros. 35 is coming to Switch as an exclusive for Nintendo Switch Online Subscribers. It is essentially a battle royal set in the original Super Mario Bros. Thirty-five players compete to be the last one standing. Defeating enemies will send them to the screens of your enemies. It will release on October 1, 2020 and according to the Direct it will be available to play until March 31, 2021.

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