Category Archives: Systems

Articles about the best, worst, most interesting, most overlooked and most underappreciated games for specific systems: titles that collectors will want in their library!

Switch Essentials: Super Mario Odyssey

A common criticism raised by people who have arbitrarily decided for one reason or another that they are “anti-Nintendo” is that the company relies too much on rehashing old ideas, particularly when it comes to its “big” franchises.

This is, of course, nonsense, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the company’s flagship Super Mario series. The portly plumber’s past few adventures have included a simple but enjoyable mobile game that eschews gacha nonsense in favour of accessible mechanics, a full-on construction kit with online functionality, a vast but highly accessible, level-based 3D platform adventure with the option to play in cooperative multiplayer and a challenging 2D platform adventure later expanded with an even more difficult set of levels. And this is to say nothing of how the series has continually reinvented itself over the years.

Super Mario Odyssey for Nintendo Switch continues Mario’s proud tradition of starring in an enormously varied series of games that cater to the tastes of both casual and hardcore gamers alike. And it’s one of his best games to date.

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Switch Essentials: SkyPeace

One of the core attractions of a handheld games system is the fact that you can take it anywhere.

While it’s awesome to be able to play deep experiences like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the go, an important aspect of a successful handheld’s library is a selection of simple “pick up and play” games that can while away a few minutes rather than a few hours. If you’re out and about, you don’t necessarily want to get stuck into a sprawling RPG, after all, so it’s good to have something on hand to fire up when you just want to play something.

This corner of the market has been dominated by smartphones and tablets for the past few years. But the Switch is showing it has plenty of solid offerings in this department, too — and best of all, many of these titles don’t have exploitative free-to-play mechanics attached.

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PSP Essentials: Dungeon Explorer

I enjoy beating games, particularly when they have a good story and especially when they have a dramatic finale.

But sometimes it’s nice to have a game on hand that you can just dip in and out of pretty much indefinitely. Arcade-style games fill this niche pretty nicely, but it’s also cool when you find something with a bit more in the way of “persistence” — something that you can continue playing over time and continue to discover new things about.

Recently, I fired up Dungeon Explorer by Hudson for the PSP, a spiritual successor (and, technically, prequel) to the company’s 1989 PC Engine/Turbografx classic of the same name. And… I think I’m going to be playing this game for a long time.

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PS2 Essentials: Under the Skin

One aspect of gaming we’ve lost sight of a bit over the course of the last couple of console generations is the idea of a game that is “nothing but fun”.

I’m talking about mechanics-centric games where the aim is to just have a good time and challenge yourself; games that aren’t trying to “say something”; games that aren’t trying to be artistic in a narrative sense.

This kind of game hasn’t died out completely, of course, but at the time of writing they remain primarily confined to the independently developed, digital-only sector. Capcom’s Under the Skin for PS2, meanwhile, reminds us of a time not so long ago (2004) when this type of experience would get a full retail release and no-one would bat an eyelid.

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N64 Essentials: Pilotwings 64

I grew up with flight simulators, primarily due to my father being both a proper propellerhead and a writer for a computing magazine — in other words, we got a lot of review copies of such games.

One thing that struck me about the genre was that it was rather rare to see games based around just flying; instead, prolific developers such as MicroProse tended to emphasise the military angle, simulating exciting aircraft such as the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, the F-15 “Strike Eagle” and the somewhat-less-exciting-but-appeared-in-a-movie A-6 Intruder.

There was Microsoft Flight Simulator, of course — or subLOGIC’s Flight Simulator as it was known in the early days — but that was slow-paced, rather complicated and, according to my father “not a game”. Clearly there was room for something in between the two extremes.

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Wii Essentials: Castlevania: The Adventure – ReBirth

Well, friends, it’s finally happening: as of the time of writing, you can no longer add credit to your Wii Shop Channel account, meaning that if you don’t already have some on there, you can’t buy anything.

With this in mind, I loaded up on points the day before the payment processing facility was shut down for good and downloaded a number of Wii-exclusive digital-only games that, come 2019, will no longer be available to buy at all.

One of those games was Konami’s Castlevania: The Adventure – ReBirth, a remake of Game Boy title Castlevania: The Adventure. So, was it worth the last-minute scramble for 1,000 Wii Points?

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Switch Essentials: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

It’s quite peculiar, when you think about it — an awful lot of what are now regarded as Nintendo’s best games initially appeared on what turned out to be one of its most commercially underperforming systems: the dear old Wii U.

Given that games like Mario Kart 8 were universally well-received on the Wii U, it’s not altogether surprising that Nintendo would want to take the time to port them to a platform like the Switch, which has already absolutely crushed its predecessor in terms of sales.

And while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t a radical reinvention of its source material, it provides enough improvements over the original experience to make it a worthwhile purchase. Not to mention the prospect of having rather more people to play against!

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