The Minish Cap

My favorite video games series is The Legend of Zelda, but I do have a few blindspots, and they are mostly made up of portable releases (on home consoles, Skyward Sword is the only mainline Zelda game I’ve never played). Over the years I’ve heard a lot of good things about The Minish Cap — originally released on the Game Boy Advance — and it’s a wonder I never played it, since I did have that system. My friend Rekka was recently talking about playing it (while gushing about the aesthetics) and that inspired me to finally give it a shot — and since I’m currently on holiday break, it’s a perfect time to do so.

So far I’ve had a terrific time with it. I love the pixelized graphics, and the top-down gameplay is on the simple side but engrossing, as is the big-small mechanic. I haven’t played in the last few days because I picked up a few games on Switch that took over my attention (especially Night in the Woods, which I powered through and loved to death), but I definitely plan on continuing to play it to completion, playing short sessions here and there.

My only gripe is that I wish I could be playing this on Switch — in fact, I’d really love for all Zelda games to be available on Switch, so I could continue to address those blindspots I have (like the Oracle games).

Skyrim (Switch)

I’ve never been able to get into the Elder Scrolls series. My first try was with Oblivion, which I played for a while but far from completion. I then tried playing Skyrim when that originally came out on PS3, mostly caught up in the hype, and after about 7-8 hours I called it quits. On top of just not really being attracted to this drab world, I also very much disliked the combat. And so now it comes out on Switch, and I’m again hearing how good it is to play, and so I decided to give it another go (renting it from our studio’s game library). I play most of my Switch games on the TV — I don’t really bring out my Switch much — but for this, I decided to try playing it exclusively in handheld mode (figuring it wouldn’t really look great on the TV anyway), and I’m finding that I enjoy the intimacy it offers when played that way. I’ve only played about 2-3 hours, and I still think it’s a drab world to be in, and I’m still not crazy about the combat, but I’ve found myself enjoying the time I’ve spent with it so far. For the next week I’m going to be visiting my parents in my hometown, and I think this is going to be a fun thing to play on my Switch while I’m there.

Sonic Forces

I need to start by saying just how much I dislike the character designs in this game, and the overall messy story. Every character is just so damn ugly, and it’s painful to watch. So what’s good about this game? I will say that I enjoy playing through the 2D levels, just like I did in Sonic Generations, which is the last Sonic game I enjoyed playing. The regular 3D levels are a mixed bag, and can still be fun at times, but I just don’t generally like controlling Sonic in a 3D space, especially from behind. To me, what the series needs is to ditch all of the 3D stuff, and just stick to games that are entirely built on 2D/2.5D levels — while at the same time getting rid of all of the ancillary characters, and just sticking with Sonic (alright, and maybe Tails). I’m probably going to finish it (I’m almost there I think, since it’s not an especially long game) mostly because I want to play through the 2D levels, but this is definitely not a return-to-form for the series.

Super Mario Odyssey

I love this game so fucking much. I was so excited to play it that, like I did for Breath of the Wild, I took the day off from work on its day of release to play it. That day, I started playing at around 8am, and played until 2am (with a few breaks here and there) — I got to the end credits at around 8pm, and then discovered the joy of the extensive post-game content. Is it my new favorite Super Mario game? It very well could be — I’m pretty sure my favorite Super Mario game before that is Super Mario World, which I also happen to be playing again on my Super NES Classic Edition. After playing Odyssey for a few days I did take a break for a week to play through Assassin’s Creed Origins, but the other night I went back in, and was again immediately having a blast. It’s big, beautiful, a joy to play, and a ridiculously fun time. It’s pretty crazy to think that we got this and Breath of the Wild in the same year, within the first 6 months (just about) of the release of a new Nintendo console, and that they’re both arguably the best (or at least “stellar”) entries in each franchise.

Mario + Rabbids: Battle Kingdom

I’m having such a great time playing this. I was so excited when it first got announced at our Ubi presser during E3 — and was even more ecstatic to see Miyamoto join Yves on stage (and I even had a chance to tell Yves just that). So yeah, I’m super happy that Ubi has produced a Mario game, and I’m even happier (and relieved) that it’s a fantastic game. I’m not even that big into turn-based strategy games — I like them fine, but don’t seek them out — but I was easily sucked into Battle Kingdom as soon as I started playing (I played 4-5 straight hours the first time I popped it in). A few days later, I’m still having a blast playing it, and it makes me hope that we’ll see more great collaborations between Ubi and Nintendo in the future.

Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 is a blast. I liked the first one a lot, even though I stopped playing online after a while, but when this came out for Switch, I was ready to dive into this gameplay again, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I imagine I’ll eventually drop off from playing online as I did before — and I’m really disappointed that there’s no split-screen two-player mode, as I was quite looking forward to playing it at work with colleagues — but for now there’s a lot of stuff for me to still take in (the campaign, Salmon Run, etc.)

Arms

When it first got announced, I liked what I saw in terms of the general aesthetic of the game — the same thing I liked about Splatoon at first — but didn’t think it was a game I’d really want to play, as I just don’t tend to play fighting games a lot. But I kept liking what I saw, the fun character designs, and the graphics that surrounded everything. Then, when they did the first Testpunch, I decided to take it for a spin, and it just took 15 minutes for me to decide that I was going to buy it upon release. More than a fighting game, it immediately reminded of brawler-type games like Power Stone — and I guess the colorful character designs contribute to that comparison as well. But yeah, it’s fun to play, I don’t feel like I need to memorize a bunch of combos to be able to win fights, and I like the variety of modes, and the way the online party mode works. And it’s been a hit at work too, playing with friends on the Switch.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

For some reason it’s been months since I’ve added games played to my Debaser diary, so I’m going to start trying to play a bit of catch up. First up, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which I got on release, and which I still play quite regularly. It’s a testament to how much I love this game that I played it EXTENSIVELY on Wii U, and despite that, I got it again on Switch, and I still keep on playing. It’s been great to play it at work with colleagues the few times I brought my Switch over there, and I still have a lot of fun playing online a few nights a week — and I love being able to play it out on my balcony or in bed. The big addition were the battle stages, which I admittedly don’t really play much, but for me it’s still been a worthwhile purchase, and I’m still hoping that they’re going to continue to support it by releasing new tracks. As I’ve said before, more than a new F-Zero game, I’d be happy for them to just make more F-Zero-inspired tracks for MK8D. I have some friends who find the game to be overrated because it gets praised so much and doesn’t have much in terms of “things to do” (like an extensive career mode). But I think it says a lot that despite all that, I just keep loving playing races online, and playing it with friends when they come over — and that it’s a fairly easy game for people to have fun with, even if they’re playing it for the first time (try doing that with a Forza game).

Graceful Explosion Machine

When I first saw the screenshots and video of Graceful Explosion Machine, I was smitten, and was really excited to play it when it came out — I do love me shmups, and the art direction looked fantastic. Then the game came out a couple of weeks ago, and since I was still juggling a bunch of big games (Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, Nier: Automata) I figured I’d wait a bit. But I couldn’t wait anymore, and so I grabbed it the other day, and oh my this game is fun. As expected, it looks beautiful, and the action is very satisfying. And although it can get a bit tough, it’s the kind of game that you just can’t seem to quit, trying again and again until you manage to finish off a level. Definitely something to add to your Switch game collection.