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The 60 Best Nintendo Switch Games

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50 Best Nintendo Switch Games

It isn’t easy choosing the Best Nintendo Switch Games.

It seems only yesterday that the Nintendo Switch was released. The excitement of opening up a new box and unwrapping a new console complete with a new adventure in the Legend of Zelda saga is now a distant memory. The Nintendo Switch has conveyed a multitude of emotions in its first year, from the adrenaline of ARMS to the easy-going nature of Super Mario Odyssey, from the expanse of Hyrule to the closed confines of Mario + Rabbids, there hasn’t been a reason not to take your Nintendo Switch on every journey with you.

To celebrate the Nintendo Switch’s first two years, the Goomba Stomp staff have updated the list of our favorite games we’ve played so far on the Switch. Let’s hope for many more joyous moments ahead!

The Best Nintendo Switch Games (Top 60)

ARMS

60. ARMS

Nintendo is no stranger to dabbling in party-style games with a competitive edge, such as the long-running Super Smash Bros. series, the burst in recent years with Splatoon and, to a degree, even Mario Kart.

But, while it might be easy to put 2017’s ARMS next to these aforementioned titles in Nintendo’s resumé (and it might fair to say it probably does belong at the end of the day),the title does things a bit differently.

The gameplay of ARMS is a bit unusual when compared to other types of fighting games, as it gives players control over characters from a third-person point of view, with a strong emphasis on agility and reflexes alone, and without much — if anything — in the way of moves or combos. In essence, it’s a modern amalgamation of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” mixed with a bit of Nintendo’s own Punch-Out!! series.

In ARMS, you take control of a number of different characters with specific abilities and movement speeds that set them apart, and each character controls differently enough for there to be a good variety in playstyles. However, the game isn’t exactly obvious or easy to understand and get the hang of, mostly because it’s unlike anything you’ve probably played before.

Fortunately, the game isn’t bound to just motion controls, which might have been miscommunicated to a lot of people when it was first announced. In fact, I’ve hardly ever played the game with motion controls (though apparently some of the top players of the game prefer it!).

Regardless, ARMS is a lot more straight-forward as a fighting game, without much flair or variety beyond its core, focused gameplay. This isn’t a negative, as ARMS’ focus on what it does well works for those who give the game enough of a commitment to understanding its mechanics.

ARMS shines the most as an online experience, and is not much of a local “party” game. This makes it a lot more niche than other competitive games under Nintendo’s banner, and perhaps has been a detriment to lack of broader success. But, for those who do enjoy it, ARMS is an addictive, unique (especially for Nintendo) competitive experience that I hope we see more of going in the future. (Maxwell N)

snipperclips Best Nintendo Switch Games59. Snipperclips

Nintendo’s puzzle games usually sidle into the room without much fanfare, aiming to be nice little distractions from major releases, unburdened by the pressure to perform. That wasn’t the case with Snipperclips, however, which was immediately thrust into the spotlight as one of the Switch’s launch titles. This family-friendly cut-up was tasked with showing the new console’s appeal in the portable co-op arena, and thanks to some clever conundrums, inventive gameplay, and a quirky vibe, it largely succeeded. Snipperclips sees players working together to solve puzzles by slicing away at each other to create useful shapes. Need to get a ball into a hoop? Make a scoop out of your partner’s body. Want to pop that annoying balloon? Carve a sharp point by chopping away at their head. There are no limits to how you can scissor away at the creepy/adorable heroes (Snip and Clip), and so solutions are often limited only by your collective imagination.

Of course, that can easily lead to scissor fights that result in chaotic slashing for the fun of it, but what Snipperclips does so well is actually emphasized teamwork. While the game is playable by one person, a big part of the enjoyment is participating in all the goofy shenanigans gaming buddies will get into by experimenting. Simple controls mean anyone can play, and with two joy-cons included with every Switch, this game is ready for multiplayer right out of the box. It’s the kind of concept that fits perfectly with Nintendo’s sales pitch, a wonderful demonstration of the console’s ability to deliver entertainment anywhere. While it might not have quite the replay value or length as some other puzzlers (though DLC has fixed that somewhat), Snipperclips offers a fun-filled co-op experience that shines while it lasts. (Patrick Murphy)

Wulverblade

58. Wulverblade

The side-scrolling brawler seemed lost in time, just a memory of the 90s. Games like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon are timeless classics for those that grew up in that era, as is one of the best games on the Sega Megadrive, Golden Axe, that Wulverblade is so inspired by. Wulverblade is unashamedly trapped in the vortex of the arcade era, motivated by the nostalgic memories of many childhoods, creating a beautifully animated, modernized side-scroller for the 21st century.

Set in 120 AD, during the Roman occupation of Britain, Wulverblade gives you the sword of what closely resembles a Pict (although described as a Northern Briton) resisting the legions of the Roman Empire, which is no small feat. The treachery of the Britons that ally with the Romans antagonizes the main hero, Caradoc, to take the fight to the Romans. He is joined by the brute Brennus, as well as the menacing Merida-inspired Guinevere to return Britannia to the Brits.

Wulverblade’s lack of hand-holding is perhaps one of its strongest elements. Side-scrolling brawlers are supposed to be relentless and unforgiving, and Wulverblade doesn’t say sorry to anyone. It never questions itself, and instead only answers with more intense brute intense force, punishing hesitancy with a swift blow. For the seasoned gamer looking for a challenge, Wulverblade is a must(James Baker)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Iconoclasts

57. Iconoclasts

If there’s one thing that Iconoclasts delivers on in droves, it’s personality. From the start of the deceptively somber title screen, developer Joakim Sandberg makes it clear that his game is anything but cookie-cutter. Instead, players experience a lovingly handcrafted puzzle-platformer that screams passion, design chops, and years behind the controller.

Iconoclasts’ story has grand ambitions. Players assume the role of Robin, a young mechanic wanted by the government for following in her father’s footsteps and helping those in need. The tale takes some interesting turns and provides plenty of lore between a healthy amount of dialogue with NPCs and little notes/documents contextually scattered throughout the world.

However, the overarching narrative isn’t the reason to play Iconoclasts. That honor belongs to the game’s masterful level design, imaginative puzzles, and top-notch production values. Though players start out quite outclassed with a simple stun gun and eventually a giant wrench, both of these receive upgrades throughout the course of the 12-15-hour campaign that completely changes how players can interact with the environment. This is to say nothing of the combat, which itself contains puzzle elements when figuring out how to approach different enemy types (especially when it comes to boss battles). All of this is brought to life via some of the best sprite-based animations I’ve ever seen in a video game.

Iconoclasts ended up being one of the best-feeling games I played on the Switch. It controls like a dream, and the occasional weapon upgrades are meaningful and fully fleshed out. The supporting characters are all well-written (even generic lackeys) and genuinely fun to watch interact with each other. Iconoclasts‘ story isn’t anything to write home about, but its world-building, character dialogue, tight gameplay mechanics and gorgeous pixel work more than make up for it. (Brent Middleton)

Disgaea-5-Complete-Review-1

56. Disgaea 5 Complete

Some of the best Strategy-RPGs aren’t necessarily known for their story as much as their characters (i.e. Fire Emblem), and Disgaea 5 Complete is no exception. Main protagonist Killia is a serious, stoic demon, constantly keeping the player guessing about his mysterious past as he’s pulled into working with Princess Seraphina to overthrow a tyrant attempting to rule over all of Hell. The rest of the party is full of quirky and lovable characters led by over-the-top Seraphina, meathead Red Magnus, and sweetheart Usalia. Despite lacking traditional cutscenes, all the characters are all brilliantly brought to life through rock-solid VO, expressive character sprites, and fully voice-acted static story sequences featuring beautiful high-definition 2D character portraits. The campaign is full of campy, lighthearted humor that refuses to stop until it has you cracking a smile.

Outside of its memorable characters, Disgaea 5 is all about its classic strategic gameplay. Players move up to 10 party members around a massive variety of grid-based levels and battle it out using loads of different attacks and abilities. The name of the game is carefully positioning team members to execute chain attacks in an attempt to wipe out the enemy while clinching the stage’s “top bonus” reward. Disgaea 5 features almost 50 classes of fighters to choose from, each with their own special attacks and evilities. The gameplay is routinely kept fresh by way of varying battlefield elevations, environmental effects, and status effect changes via Geo Symbols.

Disgaea 5 Complete is truly the hardcore tactical RPG that the Switch needed in lieu of Fire Emblem last year. The main campaign is lengthy, the battle system is deep, there’s a surprisingly robust amount of player and hub customization, and with the ability to level up each individual piece of gear, the game never truly ends. If you love silly yet fleshed-out characters, top-notch tactical gameplay, and a seemingly infinite amount of stats to keep track of, Disgaea 5 Complete is a total must-buy. (Brent Middleton)

Mulaka

55. Mulaka

Mulaka will be a first for many, a slice of Mexico’s rich history that gamers haven’t often savored, a taste of the past that will inspire our own curiosity. Based on the ancient Tarahumara tribe in Northern Mexico, players embark on a journey as a Tarahumara Shaman — known as a Sukurúame — while seeking the power of the demigods to conquer the environment and defeat the soul-eating creatures from Tarahumara lore.

The Legend of Zelda inspiration can be seen throughout Mulaka, from its angular Nintendo 64 graphics similar to Ocarina of Time to its bumbling NPCs that have a variety of personalities and customs. The artwork is clean and simple, and yet beautiful at the same time, allowing the player to easily immerse themselves in unfamiliar territory.

The beauty of Mulaka is its unique setting, familiar gameplay, and the joy it unleashes through every pixel. Mulaka has opened up a whole new world, delivering a game that you feel like you’ve played before but able to maintain a mystery. This is the beginning of great things for the developers, Lienzo, and there will already be huge anticipation as to how they push the series forward and continue our journey across Mexico.  (James Baker)

Best Switch Games Mr Shifty

54. Mr. Shifty

Entertainment media has a long history of borrowing and reworking existing ideas. The indie games sphere has most certainly adopted this as its de facto mantra, and we are frequently the benefactors of genre refinement. This can be detrimental to genres that are oversaturated (looking at you, Metroidvania), but when a genre is as niche as the one that seemingly contains only Hotline Miami, tinkering with that formula certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Enter Mr. Shifty — the version of Hotline Miami with gore turned down, and phase-shifting turned right up.

Much like its obvious influence, Mr. Shifty is played from a top-down perspective, as players are tasked with moving from room to room and taking out large numbers of enemies along the way. You don’t use any guns in Shifty, but thanks to the eponymous hero’s shift ability, you won’t miss them. At the press of a button, he can shift through walls, bullets, and even enemies, allowing for breathless movement around a combat area, flanking enemies and dodging bullets like a demigod. Taking out enemies also fills a meter that, when full, grants a slow-mo ability that automatically activates when Shifty next gets shot at, and sees him flying through the level like Fry on 100 cups of coffee.

This isn’t to say the game is easy. Shifty might have superpowers, but he ain’t no bullet sponge, and a single hit from an enemy will bring the proceedings to an abrupt end. As is to be expected, it’ll take a fair amount of trial and error to complete a stage, but this all adds to the fun of trying to figure out the most effective and/or stylish way to reach the goal. It straddles that line of repetition and addictiveness really well, especially when bolstered by the Switch’s handheld capabilities. I still don’t know what this Hotline Miami/Superhot genre is called, but Mr. Shifty is a very able addition to it. (Alex Aldridge)

Best Switch Games Dandara

53. Dandara

For as many twists and turns as they take, the stale caverns of the Metroidvania genre rarely alter course from formula, the tried-and-true gameplay rarely strays from the established path, so when something like Dandara comes along, its minor deviations can feel like a breath of fresh air. Instead of the usual running and gunning, the titular protagonist here must plot her course through the various rooms by employing a multi-directional dash that allows her to reach to certain areas on the floor, ceiling, and walls to which she can stick (think Spider-Man crossed with Nightcrawler). This unique method of movement makes every room and battle almost its own puzzle, adding a layer of strategy even to traversal, and ensures that players pay close attention to their surroundings — which is perfect for finding secrets.

Add to that a curious visual design that is at the same time incongruous yet clear in its visions, and there’s a funky vibe going on here. One minute Dandara is fighting giant bugs in a pixelated pine tree forest, and the next she’s shooting cat soldiers amidst rundown urban streets, all while a cosmic backdrop frames the action. Yet, it all makes sense, and Dandara conveys its story with focused melancholy and a tinge of hope. The action can get clunky during the few bullet hell sections, but mastering the movement leads to the thrilling satisfaction of ricocheting through the world at ease — and points the genre toward the discovery of new ways to explore. (Patrick Murphy)

52. Nintendo Labo

Just when you thought Nintendo couldn’t get any more ‘Nintendo,’ they made up Labo. Labo is less a singular game and more of a catch-all for various software and related peripherals that are cardboard cut-out kits for the Switch. Thus far, there has been a variety kit, a robot kit, a vehicle kit, and a forthcoming VR kit. While most of the software has been well-executed, it has also been a little shallow, and there has yet to be a single game that has captured the hearts and minds of cardboard enthusiasts. Instead, it is the unique experience that is building a cardboard fishing rod or robot that makes Labo something special. And that experience is infused with Nintendo quality and charm. While perhaps more aimed at kids and quirky adults, Labo is unlike anything out there, and is definitely a special addition to the Switch. (Marty Allen)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Kirby Star Allies 

51. Kirby Star Allies

Kirby Star Allies feels strange when compared to the rest of the Switch’s lineup. It doesn’t change around its franchise’s formula as dramatically as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or innovate on series traditions as well as Super Mario Odyssey. It’s not as expansive as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or as polarizing as Pokémon Let’s Go. It feels like the same Kirby game that Nintendo fans have been playing since Kirby’s Adventure released on the NES in 1993, a factor that might explain why the pink puffball’s latest adventure didn’t exactly light up Metacritic upon release.

But, sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with more of the same.

Coming from the American South, Kirby Star Allies reminds me of old-fashioned, Southern comfort food. Both have been around for what feels like forever, they rarely change, and they aren’t exactly the trendiest items in their respective categories. However, they’re both satisfying, filling, and spirit-lifting after a long day at work. Certainly, Star Allies could have done more; it lacks a sense of spunk and creativity that every Nintendo franchise has found in the past few years, and its technical performance leaves much to be desired. But, like one doesn’t scowl at the calorie count of a twelve-inch dinner plate piled with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits, one also shouldn’t scowl at one of Nintendo’s most conservative franchises for refusing to innovate.

Sure, Kirby Star Allies is more of the same easy-going platforming that fans have seen for the past twenty-five plus years, but with Nintendo innovating on nearly every one of their franchises and introducing new elements that aren’t always popular with longtime fans, more of the same lovable Kirby we’ve grown to love over the years isn’t exactly a bad thing. (Izsak Barnette)

50. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

As far as Kickstarter stretch goals go, this is a Cristiano Ronaldo bicycle kick. Koji Igarashi and Inti Creates promised an 8-bit spin-off from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and drive a stake through my heart if they didn’t deliver. Curse of the Moon looks, sounds, and feels just like the 8-bit Castlevania titles on NES. Players can swap between four different characters (a la Castlevania III) on the fly as they progress through a handful of beautifully crafted levels — each of which culminates with a challenging boss fight.

It strikes a real chord for the talent Igarashi possesses when it comes to effortlessly crafting titles within the genre he helped to define. What could be dismissed as a throwaway, token effort to appease the backers of the main event ends up as a very sufficient starter to the main course. It’s got everything a game of this type should have: the moody castles, the pulsating chiptune soundtrack, restrictive jumping, whips, candles to be destroyed — it’s all here, and it functions on a much higher level than a simple box-ticking exercise. Thanks to the decades of experience gained in the aftermath of the titles it apes, Curse of the Moon feels respectful and refined in equal measure.

The game might not necessarily be very long, but levels have multiple routes, and there are three difficulty levels, which is more than enough for the incredibly meager asking price. What’s more, this is the exact type of game speed-runners love, and I’m sure it’ll appear to be destroyed at a GDQ in no time. Until then, we mere mortals can enjoy one of the more satisfying retro throwbacks of the year. (Alex Aldridge)

FooorKids

49. Floor Kids

Over the last 30 years, the combination of hip-hop and video games has had decidedly mixed results often failing to translate across the gaming medium, thanks to many cheap cash-ins by artists and video game companies looking to make a quick buck. That’s not the case with Floor Kids, a labour of love from Montreal-based duo JonJon and Kid Koala. This indie breakdancing game from Merj Media, released on the Nintendo Switch in late December, is one of the best games you’ll find on the console to date, mixing likable personalities and wall-to-wall toe-tapping music to paint a picture of a subculture that promotes diversity among its audience. It happens to be one of the freshest gaming experiences for quite a while, and you don’t need to be a hip-hop fan to appreciate it. Even as it pays earnest homage to turntablists and beat jugglers, Floor Kids is great fun, stitched together with energy, intelligence, and verve, and enhanced by a surplus of breakbeats that will make you want to get up and dance.

Floor Kids is a welcome addition to the Switch library. On the surface, it’s a fun rhythm game that’s easy to grasp, but if you dig deeper, Floor Kids does a superb job showing the form’s incredible complexity and technical diversity, and makes a persuasive case for breakdancing as both an art form and a form of self-expression. All in all, Floor Kids is one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve come across in gaming as a whole. Those gamers who would automatically bypass a hip-hop rhythm game should give Floor Kids a second look. (Ricky D)

48. Slime-san

Slime-san is a deceiving game at face value. Browsing the myriad of indies on the Switch eShop, one might mistake it for just another retro-style game without any real identity. With today’s focus on high fidelity graphics, it can be easy to forget that strong gameplay is what separates a decent game from a stellar one. That one elusive factor is what made Slime-san hands-down the best indie platformer on the eShop before Celeste rewrote the script earlier this year.

Everything in Slime-San‘s design has a purpose. The game’s striking three-color art style isn’t just unique — it’s also ingrained into the game’s mechanics. White surfaces are neutral, green surfaces can be phased through, and red surfaces mean instant death. Over the course of 400 rooms (or 800 for those brave enough to weather New Game+) Slime-San consistently finds ways to twist those mechanics in ways that keep players on their toes. Just like any great platformer, Slime-san manages to masterfully tread the line between tough and unfair; if you find yourself repeatedly dying at a certain jump or obstacle, you always know it’s your fault.

Remember earlier when I mentioned retro-style games without a strong identity? Slime-san manages to set itself apart with endearing little characters and a vibrant, seedy world. The majority of the game consists of platforming your way back up through a giant worm that’s swallowed Slime-san and his bird pal whole, but those looking for more context can find it. Developer Fabraz took the time to create fully realized, explorable environments both inside and outside of the worm, each complete with a colorful cast of characters, as well as a few extra areas that go a long way in adding personality to an otherwise straightforward collection of platforming challenges. It’s the entirely unnecessary yet wholly welcome additions like these that make Slime-san feel like a true labor of love. If you like challenging, innovative platformers that have personality in spades, you can’t go wrong with this one. (Brent Middleton)

Best Switch Games Wandersong

47. Wandersong

The power of song will save us all.

Among the prodigious heap of wonderful Switch titles, a simple little indie called Wandersong tells a heartfelt story, and sings a tune all its own. The game begins with players trying to pick up a sacred sword to slay an intimidating beast. You’re terrible with that sword, really just no good at all. The thing is, you’re a bard. Your voice is your tool, your weapon, and your heart, and you sing your way through the problems of the land. Mean ghosts? Troublesome demons? Unruly pirates? Sing a song.

At one point, your grumpy friend (who is a witch) insists on using magic to take down a nasty beast. You insist on trying to talk to the monster. It works. Throughout the game, you sail the seas, start a band, meet some mermaids, fly through the air on a broomstick, fail a lot, make many friends, and keep picking yourself back up while singing again and again. It plays wonderfully and looks great, with a cutout style reminiscent of Paper Mario and Steven Universe, but with an identity all its own.

The mechanics are simple but effective — an 8-pointed color wheel controls pitch and tone. But the folks who created this title — Greg Labanov and friends — manage to keep the simple idea fun with gameplay twists. As the story progresses, they turn tropes of the hero’s journey on their head in order to craft an engaging and beautiful tale about the power of hope and friendship. It all could come across as too sugary, but the developers are self-aware, keeping the heart of the game front and center. The result is a fun and meaningful game that dares to embrace a message of love and non-violence, a notion that is always welcome. You can keep your rugged cowboys — I’ll be singing over here.  (Marty Allen)

Best Switch Games Gris

46. GRIS

GRIS follows the emotional journey of a young girl through an ethereal watercolor world, beginning with the main character losing her voice, while all color in the world around her is also removed. As you progress through the game, individual colors are added back in at certain points as the landscape slowly begins to spring back to life.

At its core, GRIS is a platforming adventure with light puzzle elements. As you navigate the serene environments, you will encounter scenarios that require you to use any abilities you’ve gathered along the way in order to progress. Certain areas aren’t accessible when first approached, only to open up later when players gain the correct ability. The game is also designed in such a way that encourages exploration, as it does not tell you where your next ability or objective lies. Much of the narrative is open to interpretation, which gives the experience an even more unique, art-like approach.

The music in GRIS accompanies the visuals perfectly, with each area creating a different auditory experience. Some areas are filled with a full string orchestra, while others may include the delicate notes of a single piano as you journey through the world.

GRIS is a beautiful experience that plays similarly to games like Journey, ABZÛ and Flower. There are limited action sequences, with the majority of the game filled with moments that tie visuals and sound together in a way that words simply don’t do justice. (Matthew Adler)

Ape Out Review

45.  Ape Out

In Ape Out, Gabe Cuzzillo and his small team have crafted something unique that comes highly recommended. This game is equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, exhilarating, and fun. The sum of its parts is a creation that is all-too-rare in games — something fresh and unlike anything else. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t playing it, and unable to put the controller down in order to give each board ‘just one more try.’ To have that gameplay experience put together with so much artistic flair makes for the kind of experience that is worth killing for. Again and again and again.

Ape Out is a rhythmic pulse of thrust-push-kill fun. Ape Out is the kick drum rolling right into to the snare and a crash just as you crush that guard a hair before he pulls the trigger. Ape Out is blood trailing behind you when you can’t take another shot, then crossing through the green door of freedom and into the jungle beyond at the last moment. (Marty Allen)

44. Wargroove

Wargroove is an epic, beautiful love letter to the lost (but not forgotten) classic strategy series, Advance Wars. Following the same formula of Nintendo’s collaboration with Intelligent Systems, Wargroove tells the story of the trials and tribulations of Princess Marcia as she leads her kingdom in the wake of her father’s assassination. Players will recruit troops, capture towns, fight the undead, and — if you play as well I do — get stuck on the same missions for hours.

Wargroove is not an easy game, and sometimes it’s not even a fair one. Objectives may change in the middle of a battle, making a difficult fight almost impossible — until you replay it, knowing what’s coming, and beat it without a modicum of effort. Some units never seem to be worth their excessive cost, and map design often doesn’t allow for the interesting positioning tactics that the game otherwise tries to encourage. The story — while better than anything put forward by Advance Wars — is nothing to write home about, either.

However, objectives are mixed up at a decent rate between missions, stopping the game from getting too repetitive during overly long, socially-unacceptable binge sessions. New units are introduced at a healthy rate, and the game is absolutely loaded with content. There are three separate single-player modes (including the brilliant “Puzzle Mode,” in which the player has one turn to win a battle from a predefined position), and each requires a significant time investment to complete. On top of that, there is online and local multiplayer for up to 4 players, and it’s possible to craft not only your own maps, but your own entire campaigns.

Above all else, Wargroove is a wonderfully produced game with tense battles, gorgeous sprite work, a generous amount of content, and absolutely tons of heart. It hearkens back to an era when games were simpler, but no less wonderful affairs. It’s an expression of pure joy, and while there will be some debate as to whether it manages to live up to the legacy of its obvious inspiration, Wargroove is a worthy investment for any fan of classic turn-based strategy. (Rowan Ryder)

Mega Man 11 Review

43. Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11 proved two things: that the nonsensical numbering system of Mega Man games means absolutely nothing at this stage, and that Capcom has finally figured out a way to make a really good Mega Man game without having to resort to a NES engine.

Mega Man 11 won’t look instantly familiar to veteran players. Its visual style caused more consternation that the game could potentially share more similarities to the terrible Mighty Number 9. Luckily, despite its neon-tinged HD visuals, the game feels just like home for Mega Man fans. A home filled with misery, frustration, and death. So, a funeral home I guess?

Effortlessly recounting the physics and feel of the NES classics, Mega Man 11 is how the game should have been modernized a generation ago. Capcom wasn’t satisfied with just a faithful graduation to a jazzed-up graphical style, and made several changes to add fresh mechanics and subvert expectations. Unlocked weapons now completely alter Mega Man’s appearance (rather than a simple color palette swap) and feel more significant than ever before. The Double Gear System, allowing Mega Man to power up his weapons or slow down time for a finite period, was a brilliant way to make the game both more interesting and more welcoming to newcomers.

Of course, it’s not that welcoming, as Mega Man 11 is just as difficult as we’ve all come to expect. Some bosses now have several forms; the as giant, hulking mechs filling the screen are a far cry from Sheep Man. Thankfully (and in direct opposition to an absolutely dreadful save system), Dr. Light’s shop can be accessed after any game over to stock up on helpful powers and extra lives to ensure the mere mortal can actually complete the game. It’s not how the hardcore players do it, but some of us have other things to do with our lives, right? (Alex Aldridge)

42. Yoku’s Island Express

Yoku’s Island Express is a tiny, bite-sized game of incredibly good original content. Originally released for the Nintendo Switch in late May of 2018, this adorable game is a total mash between a Metroidvania and pinball. Upon hearing that, it doesn’t sound like it would work as a concept, especially because the game is utterly cute, but it absolutely does, like mixing together something salty with something sweet. You play as Yoku, a dung beetle who washes up on a small island and is immediately put in charge of the local postal service. The laid-back lifestyle Yoku was hoping for is quickly diminished as the “God Eater” begins killing the island deities. Yoku must find the leaders of three religious factions and bring them together for a ceremony of healing.

The mechanics operate like an open-world exploration mixed with pinball, then mixed with platforming. I personally binged this game in one day after I picked up; it was nothing less than addicting, and as soon as I put my Switch down to take a break, I’d be reaching for it minutes later and play for another handful of hours. This quick indie game is a must-have for any switch library, and can even help brighten your life in a tiny way. (Katrina Lind)

Night In The Woods

41. Night In The Woods

Defining what a game is can be a tricky thing. Indies have been at the forefront of experimenting with exactly what that definition can be. Night in the Woods is ostensibly a narrative adventure game in the same vein as Oxenfree and Life is Strange. While it tells a heartfelt story, it does so in a way that only a video game could.
The story follows Mae, a lackadaisical college dropout utterly intent on avoiding responsibility. She returns home to Possum Springs, a dying town strangling the life out of its inhabitants. Here she whiles away the hours, coming to terms with her past, present, and future. Along the way, she sees old friends and faces, confronting unpleasant facts whether she wants to or not.

The game offers a fairly tactile experience, especially for a narrative title. At random points in the story, simple game mechanics pop up. Sometimes it’s swinging a bat at flying fluorescent lights, other times it’s reaching out a gangly paw for a slice of pizza.

The art style for Night in the Woods is somewhere between Richard Scarry and Wes Anderson. It lives in a stylized reality where humanoid cats walk on electric lines and hang out at the local Snack Falcon. Dreamy synth and offbeat folk punk paint a picture of life going by at a snail’s pace.

While comparisons may be drawn to Oxenfree and Life is Strange, I’d argue that Night in the Woods does what they do, but better. It tells a wholly unremarkable story about wholly unremarkable people in a wholly unremarkable town. But therein lie the most interesting bits. Where Oxenfree and Life is Strange frame their narratives around extraordinary circumstances, Night in the Woods wallows in banality.

Night in the Woods, while undoubtedly a game, also captures an experience. It makes you invested in its characters, but it does so by reaching for something unabashedly boring and human. Unlike other narrative games about millennials, Night in the Woods doesn’t come up with a magical solution that solves all your problems. Rather, it shows you how you can cope with them. (Kyle Rogacion)

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‘Oracle of Seasons’: A Game Boy Color Classic

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Oracle of Seasons

“It is an endless cycle of life… the changing seasons!”

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons are very much two halves of the same grand adventure, but they’re both worth examining on their own merits. Seasons in particular brings with it quite an interesting history. The game that would eventually become Oracle of Seasons began life as a remake of the original Legend of Zelda. This remake would be accompanied by five other games– a remake of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and four original titles– all developed for the Game Boy Color. These games would not be developed by Nintendo themselves, but by Flagship– a subsidiary of Capcom that was also funded in part by Nintendo and Sega.

These six games would eventually be trimmed into a trilogy slated to release in the summer, autumn, & winter of 2000, before settling as a duology that would launch simultaneously in 2001. Where Oracle of Ages was the sole survivor of the four original games, Oracle of Seasons was a brand new game morphed out of the Zelda 1 remake. Considering director Hidemaro Fujibayashi’s own reflection on Flagship’s Zelda proposal, much of what would define Seasons was always present;

 “The core of the game was pretty much decided. That is to say, the fact that it would be on the Game Boy Color, the use of the four seasons, and the decision to retain the feel of the 2D Zelda games. It was also decided that it would be a series.”

Not only was this remake never intended to be a standalone entry, it would kick start its own sub-series while featuring seasons at the forefront of the gameplay. Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto likewise asked Fujibayashi to pen a new story for the original Legend of Zelda, suggesting a fairly comprehensive remake as the end goal. With so many inherent changes, however, The Hyrule Fantasy ended up leaving the region altogether. 

“I believe the Zelda series really only started to have scenarios after the hardware specifications improved. The original Zelda was a pure action-RPG and didn’t have much of a story to begin with. I wanted to combine both those aspects (action-RPG and an actual scenario) this time around. At first, we’d only planned on creating a game one-tenth the size of the final version. But it just kept growing as development progressed and gradually turned into an original game.” 
– Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Director/Planner/Scenario Writer

Oracle of Seasons takes after Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask by setting itself away from Hyrule– the kingdom only ever shown during the opening cinematic. Holodrum has one of the densest worlds in a 2D Zelda game, if not the densest after A Link to the Past & A Link Between Worlds. A kingdom geographically similar to Hyrule as seen in the original Legend of Zelda, Holodrum has its own northern mountainside, a final dungeon in the northwest corner, and dozens of old men hidden amongst the land. This all makes sense since Seasons is rooted in a remake of the first game, but it isn’t as if Holodrum is without its novelties. 

Holodrum is distinct from Hyrule where it counts. The kingdom itself is quite large, sprawling when compared directly to Koholint Island. Progression often feels like a puzzle, especially when working around roadblocks early on. Holodrum’s four seasons are out of order, with the weather changing on the fly between regions. Link has to work around snow banks, overgrown trees, flooded fields, and petrified flora to overcome Holodrum’s chaos. As easy as it is to get side tracked in the vast kingdom, it’s only because there always tends to be something around the corner. Getting lost isn’t a problem when the overworld is so secret heavy. 

Old men are frequently found hiding under trees, actually giving players a reason to burn them on sight now, but new systems are in place to make exploration even more rewarding. Link will come across patches of soft soil throughout Holodrum where he can plant Gasha Seeds. Owing their name to gashapon– Japanese capsule toys not too dissimilar to blind bag toys– Gasha Seeds grow into Gasha Trees which bear Gasha Nuts after Link has defeated 40 enemies. Gasha Nut contents are randomized, but they incentivize players to return to previously explored areas. 

Not everything a Gasha Nut drops is worth the effort of chopping down 40 enemies– the worst being five regular hearts and a sole fairy– but the best rewards make it all worthwhile. While the Heart Piece tied to the Nut is probably the best overall get, Gasha Seeds naturally feed into the Ring system. Rings add an inherent RPG layer to the Oracle duology’s gameplay, offering the earliest instance of genuine player customization in the Zelda franchise. Rings, like Gasha Nuts, are completely random. Link will find many in his travels, but he needs to appraise them at Vasu’s ring shop in Horon Village before they can be used. Except in a few rare instances, Vasu’s appraisals are randomized.

There are 64 rings altogether between Seasons and Ages, all with varying effects. Which rings Link obtains can influence how players go about their game. RNG also ensures that each new playthrough is unique from the last. While this poses an obvious frustration for any completionists, it’s a fantastic way of adding another layer of replay value to an already fairly replayable experience. The Expert’s Ring allows Link to punch enemies if he unequips his weapons, the Charge Ring speeds up the Spin Attack, and the Protection Ring makes it so Link always takes one Heart of damage when attacked.

With so many rings to choose from, the gameplay is kept in balance by Link’s Ring Box. Once appraised, Link can equip his rings into his box. While he can only equip one initially, players can find a Box upgrade on Goron Mountain. With RNG already influencing which rings Link has access to, it’s unlikely two players will have the exact same experience in Oracle of Seasons– rings offering more personalization than is still usual for Zelda. Besides Gasha Nuts, Rings can be found in the overworld and dropped by Maple, a young witch who makes further use of RNG. 

Maple is Syrup’s apprentice, the recurring witch who runs the potion shop in A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening. Riding in on her broomstick, Maple will appear after Link has killed 30 enemies. Should players bump into her, both Link & Maple will drop their treasures, prompting Maple to race the player for them. It’s almost always worthwhile to focus on what Maple’s dropped rather than what Link lost. Not only does Maple drop her own unique set of rings, she’s a convenient way of getting potions early on and will eventually drop a Heart Piece. Maple also gets progressively faster, upgrading her flying broomstick to a vacuum after enough altercations.

So much RNG can be off-putting, but Holodrum is such an extensive overworld that randomness isn’t much of an issue. Gasha Seeds drive exploration and Maple’s appearances reward it. These systems also encourage players to fight enemies head-on rather than avoid them when it’s convenient. If gameplay ever feels more involved in Oracle of Seasons than the average Zelda game, that’s because it is. This goes double when taking the very seasons into account. 

The four seasons influence overworld progression significantly and most non-dungeon puzzles center on Link using the Rod of Seasons to restore seasonal order to whatever region he’s in. Most of these puzzles solve themselves since seasons can only be changed on stumps, but concessions need to be made when an overworld features four unique versions of every region. Incredible use of the Game Boy Color’s hardware helps in this regard as well. The handheld was designed with making in-game colors pop and Oracle of Seasons– as an extremely late-life GBC game– stands out as one of the most vibrant titles in the system’s library. 

Each season has its own defining color palette– blue for winter, red for summer, green for spring, yellow for autumn– but there is always a wide range of colors on-screen. Winter matches its light blue with shades of white & gray; spring features an almost pastel color tone where gold & pink flowers bloom against soft shades of green; summer deepens most colors for a bolder effect; and autumn offsets its yellow with orange, red, and in some instances purple. Oracle of Seasons might very well have the best atmosphere on the Game Boy Color, each season stylized & recognizable with their own distinct tones. It’s a phenomenal presentation that outdoes OoS’ contemporaries. Seasons outright has better art direction than most early GBA games. 

The fact Oracle of Seasons commits to its premise in such a large overworld as strictly as it does is praiseworthy, but it’s even more impressive that there’s another world lurking underneath Holodrum. Subrosia is a bizarre underworld, easily the most eclectic setting in the franchise other than Termina (and in many respects more so.) Subrosians are culturally impolite, bathe in lava, and deal in Ore instead of Rupees. The Subrosian Market undersells a Heart Piece, volcanic eruptions are a welcome norm, and Link will be moving between Holodrum & Subrosia multiple times over the course of his journey. Players can even go on a date with a Subrosian girl, Rosa, that’s a clear play on his date with Marin from Link’s Awakening. Subrosia is so alien that it’s hard not to love every moment beneath Holodrum.

Beyond the four seasons and the dichotomy between Holodrum & Subrosia, what differentiates Oracle of Seasons most from Oracle of Ages is its focus on action. Seasons is a puzzle heavy game, but it lets combat drive the gameplay more often than not with a very action-centric tool kit. The Slingshot makes its 2D debut, replacing the Bow in the process, but its 250 seed capacity outdoes any of Link’s quivers. Its upgraded version, the Hyper Slingshot, even fires in three directions at once. The Roc’s Feather returns from Link’s Awakening to once again make jumping an important part of Link’s mobility. Not only is platforming far more frequent this time around– with the Ancient Ruins featuring quite a bit of jumping for a 2D dungeon– it upgrades into the Roc’s Cape which allows Link to glide.

The Boomerang now upgrades into a guided Magical Boomerang which players can control themselves; the Magnetic Gloves are ostensibly a better version of the Hookshot which can pull Link to & from magnetic sources, along with magnetizing certain baddies; and most enemies are designed with a combination of the sword & shield in mind. Oracle of Ages has its fair share of action as well, but not with quite the same focus as Oracle of Seasons.

In general, Seasons is a focused video game in the best ways possible. OoS always gives players a general direction to go in, but otherwise leaves Link to his own devices. There are little to no interruptions, and the gameplay loop emphasizes freedom in spite of the game’s linearity. There’s always something to do and you’re always making progress, whether that be narratively or checking in on some Gasha Nuts. The pace is perfectly suited for handheld gaming and quick burst play sessions. Only have a few minutes to play? Kill some enemies to trigger Maple. Got some time? Scope out the next dungeon and work towards saving Holodrum. 

There are also a number of side quests to round off gameplay. The main trading sequence ends with Link finding the Noble Sword in Holodrum’s Lost Woods; players can forge an Iron Shield in Subrosia by smelting red and blue ore together & bringing the refined ore to the Subrosian smithy; and Golden Beasts roam Holodrum, each appearing during a different season & in a set region. Once all four are defeated, Link can find an old man north of Horon Village who will give him the Red Ring– a ring which doubles the Sword’s attack at no expense to the player. 

All these side quests are worthwhile, especially since Oracle of Seasons is a bit on the tougher side when it comes to difficulty. Dungeons are very fast-paced, full of puzzles that are often deceptively simple. Dungeon items are used in increasingly clever ways, from traversing over bottomless pits with strategic use of the Magnetic Gloves to using the Hyper Slingshot to activate three statues at once. Notably, most bosses in Seasons are actually remixes of boss fights from the first Legend of Zelda

Aquamentus, Dodongo, Gohma, Digdogger, Manhandla, and Gleeok all return with a vengeance. Gleeok in particular puts up a serious fight, forcing Link on the offensive. Not only do players need to be quick enough to slice off Gleeok’s two heads before they can attack themselves back on, the dragon will persist as a skeleton for round 2. Explorer’s Crypt is a difficult enough dungeon where getting to the boss room with full health isn’t a guarantee, so Gleeok offers a surprising but welcome challenge as a result. 

Oracle of Seasons deserves a bit of credit for having one of the harder final bosses in the series, as well. Onox doesn’t have much in the way of personality, but he’s a tough boss to put down. His second form requires Link to use the Spin Attack to deal damage while making sure he doesn’t hit Din in the process, and Onox’s dragon form is a gauntlet of dodging, jumping, & surviving long enough to finally kill the General of Darkness. Players are bound to die once or twice, but the final dungeon is short enough where getting back to Onox takes no time at all. 

If Oracle of Seasons has one glaring flaw, however, it’s the story. The script reads like a massive step back coming off the heels of Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and especially Majora’s Mask. Link is summoned to aid the Oracle Din, already a seasoned hero and implied to be the same Link from A Link to the Past, but very little time is spent fleshing out Din as a character & giving players a reason to care about her. Her role is more akin to Zelda in A Link to the Past than Marin in Link’s Awakening. Similarly, Onox is an undercooked villain who shows up to kidnap Din and does nothing for the rest of the story. Of course, this light story stems from Seasons’ origin as a remake of The Legend of Zelda

Early press of the game– when it was still going by the name Acorn of the Tree of Mystery– indicates that the story was originally set in Hyrule and the seasons went out of order when Ganon kidnapped Princess Zelda, the guardian of both the Triforce of Power & the four seasons. Hyrule was changed to Holodrum, Ganon became Onox, Zelda turned to Din, and the eight fragments of the Triforce presumably became the eight Essences of Nature. While underwhelming, the plot’s structure if nothing else makes sense. 

It’s worth pointing out that Oracle of Seasons seems to recognize that story is its weakness and lets the gameplay drive the experience. Unlike Oracle of Ages which takes its plot seriously and has a clear thematic arc, Seasons really is just a remix of Zelda 1’s plot. Which is perfect for the kind of game OoS ultimately is: a fast-paced, action-packed adventure through an ever-changing world. When played as a precursor to Ages instead of its ending, Seasons’ story comes off comparatively better. The stakes aren’t that high or defined, but that’s more than okay for the first half of an adventure that spans two full-length games. 

In a departure for the franchise, Oracle of Seasons actually features a proper post-game, marking the first time any Zelda acknowledges that the main threat is over. NPCs will comment on how they haven’t seen Link in a while, the weather has stabilized as spring has set in Holodrum, and you’re free to wrap up any side quests left unfinished. This is especially noteworthy because players can link their progress from Seasons over into Ages and transfer any rings they have on hand. 

An epilogue makes for a charming send-off to one of the most charming games on the Game Boy Color. Oracle of Seasons underwent a strange development, intended to be little more than a suped-up remake of the original Legend of Zelda. Instead, Flagship ended up developing one of the finest games on the GBC– a vibrant adventure filled with personality and some of the best action on the handheld. Oracle of Seasons isn’t just one half of a greater game; it’s a classic Zelda in its own right.

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Games

PAX Online: ’30XX’ and ‘Cris Tales’

Our coverage of PAX Online continues with a Mega Man-inspired roguelike and a charming, time-hopping RPG adventure.

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30XX and Cris Tales

Our coverage of PAX Online continues with a Mega Man-inspired roguelike and a charming, time-hopping RPG adventure.

30XX

30XX

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam
Release: TBA

I’ve already given some of my thoughts on 30XX back when I took it for a spin at PAX East. To catch those who didn’t see that report up to speed, 30XX is a 2D side-scrolling roguelike with a hi-bit art style and gameplay reminiscent of many Mega Man games. It’s generally more forgiving than Mega Man in the sense that there’s a distinct lack of instant-death spikes and pits, but the tradeoff is that when you do die that’s the end and you have to start the whole game over from the start. Classic roguelike rules for ya.

This PAX Online demo was very similar to the one I played at East. I chose between the blaster Nina or swordsman Ace then I went on my merry way throughout the two levels. One key difference is that I did not start out with any specials this time around and my maximum health was much lower. This is probably in-line with what it would be like to start a new game completely fresh as opposed to some upgrades as the East demo had. As a result, I actually failed my first attempt at this demo.

That’s where the first additional aspect of this build came into play, though, in the form of global character progression. Beating bosses in 30XX not only grants you a new weapon ability but also a currency called Memoria. Memoria can be spent at a shop in-between playthroughs to obtain permanent upgrades for Nina and Ace for every subsequent attempt. The pickings were rather slim for the demo, such as increased health and energy, but a wider variety is promised for the full release, and if anything it’s exceptionally clear how useful they’ll be to fully clear the game’s ten planned stages in one go. I also await the inevitable “no upgrade” runs that will assuredly come out of this, though.

30XX

The other neat addition to this demo is Entropy conditions, which are essentially modifiers. You can make it to where shop items cost more Nut currency to purchase per run, impose a time limit, and/or increase the amount of HP enemies have. Enabling these options also increases rewards gained from runs, adding a nice risk vs. reward factor that will probably keep things engaging even after you master the game’s earlier stages. More Entropy conditions are promised to be added into the full game that will allow you to fine-tune your experience even further.

The one concern I have for 30XX at this point is the number of dead ends I encountered with no reward to show for it. This is probably a result of the procedurally generated nature of the game, but the number of times I thought I was so clever for platforming up to a hard-to-reach area only to be greeted by a wall was more than I cared for. This is the “30XX Very Pre-Alpha Demo”, though, so it’s a flaw that can still be fixed in future development and with everything else that is being done right so far — the tight platforming, varied progression, and delightful aesthetics — it’s not hard to be hopeful for 30XX‘s future.

Cris Tales

Cris Tales

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Steam, and Stadia
Release: Nov 17th, 2020

I went into the Cris Tales demo after hearing nothing but its name in passing here and there. After finishing the demo, I’d recommend you do the same. If you’re a fan of turn-based RPG’s just download the demo and see it for yourself.

Cris Tales managed to constantly surprise and delight me throughout the entirety of its 45-minute long demo, firstly being the visuals. Playing through the game is like watching stained-glass art come to life with its hyper-stylized character designs that emphasize general shapes rather than specific details and environments chock-full of geometrical sharp edges. I was in awe from the word “Go”.

The story follows Crisbell, a chipper young orphan girl who spends her time happily doing chores for the orphanage and her dearest Mother Superior. After chasing a dapper young frog to a church, Crisbell inadvertently awakens the powers of Time Crystals hosed there and gains the power to see both the past and future at the same time. This manifests as the screen fractures into thirds with the left side showing the past, the middle the present, and the right the future at all times.

It was a trick that took a minute or two to register with me, but once it did I immediately set about traipsing all about the town I had just chased the frog through in order to see how it has and will change. It was a positively fascinating experience that put a big stupid grin on my face the entire time.

Crisbell can use this knowledge of that past and future to make decisions in the present such as locating a missing potion label or creating a concoction that will prevent wood from rotting and leading to dilapidated houses. Choosing which house to restore is also an irreversible choice that will lead to different outcomes depending.

Cris Tales

Time manipulation also plays a major part in Cris Tales‘ turn-based combat in extremely novel and creative ways. Enemies attack Crisbell and co from both the left and the right, and you can attack them with your standard RPG basic attacks and skills. Enemies on the left side, however, can be forcibly sent to the past while enemies on the right to the future by expending Crystal Points. This means reverting a big brawny goblin into a harmless little child or aging it into an elder that can barely move.

That’s not all, though. Douse an armored enemy in water then send them to the future to cause it to rust and shatter their defense. Poison an enemy that has already been sent to the past then brings them back to the present to force them to take all that poison damage at once. Plant a damaging mandragora that would normally take a few turns to sprout then send it to the future to cause it to sprout instantly. These are the examples demonstrated in the demo but it’s abundantly clear that this is only the tip of the creative iceberg. It’s genuinely thrilling to imagine all the possibilities such a system is capable of. The best part is that we won’t have to wait long to find out as Cris Tales launches on all major platforms in just two months.

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Game Reviews

‘AVICII Invector Encore Edition’ Review: Rhythm and Melancholy

‘AVICII Invector: Encore Edition’ is a music and rhythm game perfect for newcomers and fans of the genre.

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AVICII Invector Encore Edition Review

Developer: Hello There Games | Publisher: Wired Productions | Genre:  Rhythm | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch


In terms of a pure adrenaline rush, nothing tops a well-designed rhythm game. Good rhythm games let players feel a euphoric sense of flow and even excitement. But the best the genre has to offer taps into the heart of music itself. AVICII Invector Encore Edition is a rhythm game perfect for newcomers to the genre but also works as a moving tribute.

I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

Whether it’s tapping buttons in time with the beat, smashing feet on a dance pad, or moving an entire body in front of an IR camera, rhythm and music games have always been popular. AVICII Invector Encore Edition takes inspiration from music games that came before it but stands firmly on its own. It’s wonderfully accessible, truly a music game for anyone. From diehard fans of the rhythm game genre to people who are simply AVICII fans who also have a console, Invector checks a lot of boxes.

Levels across AVICII Invector play largely the same. The player picks a track and a difficulty level, and is off to the races. They control a slick spaceship moving forward along a track, and must tap or hold buttons as the ship passes over them. This “falling jewel” style has been popular from the Guitar Hero franchise and beyond, but Invector finds ways to make it feel unique. The art direction is breathtakingly stellar, taking players on far-out trips through cyberpunk-esque cities and crumbling pathways. There are even portions of each level where the player can steer their spaceship Star Fox-style through rings and around pillars to keep their point multiplier up.

Invector feels like it’s trying to affect as many sensory inputs as it can. Though Encore Edition is fully playable on handheld mode on Switch, Invector shines brightest on a big screen with a thumping sound system. The neighbors might get annoyed, but who would hear them complaining?

Tracks are divided up by worlds, with four to five tracks each. Worlds must be cleared sequentially, by scoring at least seventy-five percent on each level in that world. While this may sound initially restrictive, Encore Edition gives players access to two extra worlds with five tracks each right out of the gate, so players have plenty to play with at the start.

There are three difficulties available, and each mode offers a different experience. For players who just want to experience AVICII’s music in a low-stress way while enjoying amazing visuals and ambiance, Easy mode is the way to play. Anything above that amps the difficulty up significantly, with Hard mode escalating the required precision to an unbelievable degree. Building up a competitive high score can only be achieved by hitting multipliers and keeping a streak going. At higher difficulties, Invector feels challenging but exhilarating. Scoring above ninety percent on any difficulty mode above Easy feels extremely good, and the online leaderboards are the perfect place to boast about that achievement. During high level play, earning a high score feels transcendent.

Worlds and levels are strung together with brief, lightly-animated cutscenes. It’s a slim justification for a rhythm game, but they’re better than nothing and provide just enough context to keep things interesting. AVICII Invector is both visually and aurally pleasing, but even if the player isn’t a diehard fan of EDM or House music, there is plenty to love.

This world can seem cold and grey
But you and I are here today
And we won’t fade into darkness

AVICII Invector is a truly fantastic rhythm game. But it’s also more than that. It is impossible to play Invector and not feel a twinge of melancholy. The game is a tribute to a hard-working perfectionist, but the man behind the music had his demons. Though the visuals are enticing and the gameplay electric, it is difficult not to feel sad from the opening credits. It is to Invector‘s credit that all throughout, the game feels like a joyful celebration of Tim Bergling’s music. It is a worthy tribute to a man who revitalized and reinvigorated the EDM and House music scene.

At the end of the day, almost every aspect of AVICII Invector reflects a desire to connect. For players connected to the internet, global leaderboards are a great opportunity to share high scores. Invector is much more forgiving than Thumper or Rez or even anything in the Hatsune Miku catalog. Players can cruise through this game on Easy mode if they want, and they won’t be punished. The Encore Edition even includes a split-screen multiplayer, which is fantastically fun.

In his music, Bergling worked across genres to expand what pop music could look like. With Invector, music lovers and players of nearly any skill level can have a pleasing experience. In video games, that’s rare, and it should be celebrated.

According to publisher Wired Productions’ website, all music royalties from AVICII Invector Encore Edition will support suicide awareness through the Tim Bergling Foundation.

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