After a stunning first year and an enjoyable second for the Nintendo Switch, it was entirely possible the third wouldn’t live up to the greats the previous two gave.
In fact, it is looking like this third year will be the one that pales the most when stacked against even the fourth year and the major bombshell that will be opening it within the month of March (and the smaller but no less important one), despite the fact I bought more in this year than the previous two.
There were games that I was looking forward to in this year, and a few of them did deliver. Better yet were a few surprises coming from some of the indie games I’d bought.
But with the highs also come the lows, with a few games I had been hoping to be great experiences instead being somewhat forgettable. Were there enough great experiences to match those of previous years, though?
At first, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid wasn’t really hooking me. I’ve said this plenty of times before, it feels, but fighters just don’t do it for me. But it is Power Rangers, and it is a great game.
I was able to see that much when starting with it back in March, but it soon was dropped from my playlists until recently when I returned and found that I was starting to get into it more.
The tag-team dynamic of the fights kept things fast-paced without feeling too unfair, and it allowed me to play as three of my favourites without the need to switch them around all the time.
My Time At Portia was bought on a whim. It offered something similar to Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons, but with a new twist. Instead of farming, you were constructing, but everything else still remained the same.
There was a life to the town with the villagers having their own daily lives, with the ability to build relationships with the townsfolk and even share some romance. There was a story here, even if not deep, of you working to build the town back to its once great importance.
This kept me entertained and hooked. Not as much as a certain other simulation game, but it lasted quite a while.
One of the two racing games from this third year, Team Sonic Racing had some solid mechanics but failed to keep interest. There just didn’t feel as much greatness to it as previous games, and that also goes for the other Sonic-related release of the year.
The team-based gameplay was fun, with the new locations for the series offering up some great tracks to race through.
Despite the great music and gameplay, this one ended up much like Battle for the Grid. I’m only now appreciating it after returning once the thoughts of what I expected it to be like had faded.
Super Mario Maker 2 added new things to use in building levels, and as ever I wanted to create. Unfortunately, I ran into a block despite having plenty of ideas.
I was concerned that my style was bringing a lot of repetition, with the same sections appearing across numerous levels. The game offers a great selection of choice when making the levels, and the story mode also offers some ideas for those that need them.
Playing the levels of others was more fun, but even that couldn’t keep me around after the next two releases came around.
Dragon Quest Builders 1 had proved to be a great experience that closed off the first year with the Switch nicely, and the second game introduced some better mechanics that made the building part of the name easier.
There was also an island for players to make their own, with everything from the other islands able to be used. The gameplay was fun, allowing me to explore and take things at my own pace, while also making sure I progressed the story to unlock extra building materials.
And that story had me hooked through the characters I encountered. Massively enjoyable start to finish.
Then came Forager, a game that is literally a grind. That is the whole aim of it.
You start off small, having to collect items and selling them off to build up money to expand the islands you can get to, building up experience to increase the number of things you can build, and eventually managing to build up an automated process of collection and enemy destruction.
It might not seem like much, but it’s a very self-goal-oriented game, where you decide exactly how to expand and the focus you want to go for in earning that experience and money.
What didn’t keep me gripped was Daemon X Machina. I’ve already talked about this one in What I’m Waiting For, but there wasn’t much that kept me playing.
Character interaction barely felt there, with little in the way of personality to the characters, and while the main hook of battling robots within a mech suit was fun, it still wasn’t hooking me in with any sort of worthwhile experience.
People are always talking of how the Jedi Knight games are some of the best Star Wars games available, but I just have never seen that. Combat in Jedi Academy when I bought it on Steam didn’t feel as fluid or fun as in Force Unleashed, and the game felt very loose in terms of control.
I was willing to give the series another chance, so when Jedi Outcast hit the Switch, I bought it to try it out. Same feeling, except things are worse since there’s no lightsaber combat in the first third of the game. Even regular enemies are bullet sponges, and that’s even if the bullets hit them.
But there was something that kept me playing. Probably the sheer challenge of trying to get through it. Eventually, I gave up, but I will return to it.
I don’t think I need to say anything about this next one. This is the hook that no other recent release has been able to get into me, and this isn’t even a recent release.
Farming Simulator Switch Edition released in 2017, but I hadn’t even seen the series yet. The story of how I first got into it has already been told, and the farming fever still shows no sign of dying down even with the start of the new year.
I might be playing less, but I’m still as invested in conquest of the farming community within this map. At least until Animal Crossing arrives, probably.
I’m not a massive fan of Super Monkey Ball, but I like the arcade challenge it offers. Banana Blitz HD was an impulse purchase, having seen how good it looked and how many said it was the best of the rest (that aren’t the Gamecube games).
I chanced it and loved it, and every so often return to try one of the worlds it holds. The only thing that stops it being such a great experience is the boss battles, which is something the series just cannot handle in the way they’ve been executed here.
The only one I enjoyed was in World 4 as that at least felt built with the mechanics of the game in mind.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is that other Sonic-related game I mentioned, and the problem here is it doesn’t do enough to earn that Mario and Sonic name.
There’s little fanfare or recognition of this being a crossover project, and if you’ve seen my first impressions, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Very little in the way of music celebrating the two franchises present, with barely any other representation present either.
It just feels like a reskin of the proper Olympics video game, aside from the few Dream Events that are included – and even these feel less zany and series-specific than in previous games.
Pokémon Shield should have felt like the best game of the main series games, but there feels little here. No real grand spectacle to speak of.
Sure, the Wild Area opens up the game despite there being little to do. It’s a playground that allows you to project experiences to, and the DLC areas – built upon the same concept – should allow that to shine greater than ever.
But out of the Wild Area, everything’s back to linear pathways, not helped by a region that feels linear and unconnected. It manages to shine at being a journey with the creatures you befriend and encounter, but that is the basic concept behind the main series, so I’d be worried if it had failed at that.
Rush Rally 3 was a surprising game when I’d read the review on Nintendo Life, as it looked as though it had as much content as a larger game might. As said within my experiences post, there is indeed a lot here, with circuit racing in the form of Rallycross, the regular rally stages across six countries, and extras in the form of skill events.
I’ve been playing a lot, working through events to earn enough cash to get one of the more expensive cars. The rally events have proven to be good, and recently completed the last Rallycross stage with that new and expensive car.
The AI have proven to be a good challenge, though in Rallycross events they occasionally decide to just give up. It’s quite fun to see one of your opponents forget they have brakes and slam into the barriers. Even more so when they’re in first place and shake such a thing off like it was nothing.
From one type of vehicle sport to another, but this time with a more fantasy type of setting. Members of GRcade repurposed the multiplayer sessions held as Multiplayer Monday, bringing in the likes of Mario Kart and Smash Ultimate for a bit of friendly competitive fun.
Among that number was Rocket League, a game released originally released around five years ago, and getting ported to the Switch at the end of 2017. I’d heard of it but hadn’t played it, but with the GRcade multiplayer sessions starting back up, I felt it would be fun to try it out.
I loved it, to put it simply. I had to swap out from the ball follow camera, but I enjoyed blasting around the arenas trying to help my team score their way to victory. I felt I wouldn’t have ever been much good at it, but that was proven wrong within the first hour of test play, then further during the GRcade multiplayer session (which still remained on its original slot of Tuesday).
The last addition was also one I hadn’t expected to buy, though this one was new. Last year, I was craving some tower defence action, and so what should show up on the eShop that week but one Swamp Defence 2. It proved fun, but with a critical flaw I talked about in the Second Year of Switch article.
While I might not have been craving tower defence action to the same degree, Kingdom Rush Frontiers showed itself to be a much better offering than Swamp Defence ever was. There’s a greater sense of challenge here, and a lot more to keep you engaged, such as a hero on the battlefield.
Such is the challenge that getting three stars of these can prove difficult, as I found when struggling against the first boss level. Working out the strategy bit by bit was fun, giving a great sense of achievement once I figured it fully and survived the last wave to be greeted with all three stars.
Animal Crossing was delayed into this year, which is why the third year pales. As well as that, there’s the remake of the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon in a few days’ time, with the expansions for Sword and Shield releasing at the end of Q2 and either Q3 or Q4.
While nearly everything else remains a mystery at the minute in terms of Nintendo releases,