Looking at Windjammers 2 surprisingly isn't as easy as I expected. Sure, you can beat the arcade mode within a few minutes on easy settings, but is that the game?
Windjammers has a history and DotEmu, from my point of view, did a faithful job in creating a sequel that does look more like a modernized port, actually. When I finally played it, preferred on Nintendo Switch and therefore having been waiting for a half-price key, there was just one thing missing: An online community.
Maybe there was one at release, just like there had been a few hundred players on PC in the beginning and now dropped to almost none. I don't know. Maybe it even was a mistake to include Windjammers 2 in the Game Pass, because it's easier to pass on a game you didn't pay. It seems not only to be the lack of cross play though.
Windjammers, a fast paced Frisbee basterd of Pong/Airhockey and a one on one fighting game, had always been kind of a sleeper. The original release on the Neo Geo system wasn't too catchy on first sight, but since it was part of a competitive video game TV show back in the day, it got my attention.
Windjammers turned out to be an instant classic, easy to learn but hard to master, once we rented it for SNK's bulky home console in the 90ies or played it on other adaptions. It's something you have to experience rather than watch it on video. It seems it also spawned a small but hardcore competitive scene helping the game to stay in circulation.
Even though it hasn't been forgotten and there was also a Switch port, my calculation was to better wait for the sequel and a growing online community there. Why not? DotEmu did a great job creating Streets of Rage 4, updating look and gameplay while staying true enough to the original.
Honestly, there wasn't much to change on an almost perfect program. Keep it fast but make it look fresher, that's basically what they did. Windjammers 2 is a classic arcade game, not Elden Ring. But expectations seem to be different these days. Do people know playing against the computer is more like a training session?
It's even supposed to be fun to play for a few minutes in-between. You can play it for hours as a die hard, sure, but then the virus already got you and you're probably playing Windjammers against humans. That's when it really shines and that's when it really gets competitive.
I see that you might want to at least chat via Discord to swear at each other, preferably with future ex friends, if you can't meet at someone's home like in the good old days. But you also only get better having somebody challenge you.
What's to expect in times when opponents quit on you at the moment of their first K.O. in a match of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, to escape the few seconds of shame? If you need your reward center targeted constantly, wouldn't you be better off with a mobile game?
Windjammers 2, just like its predecessor, plays like the epitome of arcade competition and I'd really love to get my ass beaten multiple times on my way to master the game. There's no additional mini games needed or whatever people ask for. Just commitment. It requires blood, sweat and tears and the ability to lose until you're good enough to win.
Hopefully there's going to be a sale in the future to draw more people in and finally have some regulars stick. I'm not saying this type of gaming has to be your box of juice, but it can't be that hard to reckon the obvious qualities, can it?

With Little Misfortune Killmonday Games rather created a spin off than an actual sequel to the brilliant Fran Bow. It's also good I didn't know about any connection before, because my expectations might have disturbed my reception.
If you played the predecessor, you will eventually recognize the obscure pagan mythology, although it's less obvious within the design of child book illustrations, receiving occasional sparkle from the young female protagonist named Misfortune Ramirez Hernandez.
The eight year old has a heartwarming naive temperament, formed by a background of domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse as we soon learn next to the information Misfortune is going to die on the present day. That's not a spoiler, it's something the invisible narrator tells us early on whilst Misfortune, who communicates with him as Mr. Voice, can't hear him for a minute.
The two are about to play a game that we seemingly can have an influence on by making decisions for the protagonist, who has an obsession for unicorns, glitter and the fox Benjamin she saw in the garden.
Sure, Fran Bow was sort of linear, too. But it played like a point'n'click adventure unlike Little Misfortune, that is better described as an interactive story book. It's much simpler picking path A or B on multiple obvious occasions rather than solving puzzles to proceed.
A few simple minigames to break the pattern are not really a challenge. If you play via mouse like me though, you might want to switch to keyboard for those events. It felt more natural.
That's actually the only real problem I have with Little Misfortune. It's just about two hours of watching a story with quite a few dilemmas if you care about the figure. But it's neither actual gameplay, nor is it very rewarding on a second playthrough.
There have been a couple of decisions I wanted to revisit and they usually somehow have an effect, but only few of them really make a difference to the action, yet they still seem to make the ending more or less unavoidable.
Other than that, well, Fran Bow was somberly twisted, you know, but even though a lot brighter on the surface, Little Misfortune is morbidly sinister in its own right. You might have to take my word for it as I don't want to reveal too much that is happening on this nondescript stroll.
You shouldn't be triggered by themes like described above, as a lot of the phrases leaving Misfortune's mouth so innocently actually reveal quite downbeat origins. The protagonist also has a tendency to throw up on occasion.
The strength of this program lies in emotions. It's very easy to care for Misfortune, who seems to be protected from her environment by playful resilience built from all the foxy imagination a cute little girl could come up with.
But how far is that going to take her? How much can we help and save her? It's probably as cynical as it sounds and so to perceive a layer of dark humor requires a specific mind set.
Following and interacting with the story might do something to you and I'm not even sure if there's a bigger effect depending on which side of town you grew up yourself. It doesn't matter what background Misfortune has and how unlucky she feels, she's not just junk.
She's a good kid inside, making the best of her situation that includes her mom would have aborted her if it had been legal. We're not used to fairytales being that depressing since Disney took over, but the storytelling is a quite true modernisation of the pristine tales once collected by brothers Grimm.

I'm usually not an early bird gamer, but for me, the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass was a no-brainer that I just had to preorder and play instantly the second of its release. Judging from about a minute of struggling to contact the server for activation I'd say I wasn't alone.
After the official release announcement by Nintendo, I've read the average mixed opinions online and that is something I'd like to address here, being neither fanboy nor hater, rather observing from my very own subjective perspective, which in this case includes an affinity towards Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, that actually pulled me back in the franchise after I thought it had lost its course.
So, you've got to have in mind I haven't played most of the reused tracks too often, but would on the other hand fancy my good old flat SNES Mario Circuit or Ghost Valley. But exactly because we all have favourite designs we'd like to play in Mario Kart 8 is another good reason for Nintendo to include all of them.
There have always been remakes in new Mario Kart games and the design elements are part of the identity. There's always a good chance they'd be criticized just the same for too much innovation. Even if I try to stay open minded, the impact the original Super Mario Kart had on me makes me a bit conservative on this topic as well.
But I've also read people bragging about expecting a Mario Kart 9 and I must admit, I don't see why this would have been customer friendly.
Sure, I'd be happy to play another great Mario Kart, especially after trying some underwhelming Mario Kart Tour to research for this review. But the Booster Course Pass in general was also a statement by Nintendo to expand the lifetime of the Switch at least to the end of 2023.
Considering the situation of the pandemic world not only short on electronic parts, but now also on the edge to a global war, I think that's the best way to handle. I wouldn't pay the scalping prices, that get asked for the rare new Playstation or Xbox machines these days. And why would anyone want those, if there's not enough specific software anyway?
Why shouldn't there be a Mario Kart 9 on the Switch then? Well, Nintendo's console hybrid isn't famous for its computing power. Strength of the small machine is portability whilst being usable on the big screen as well. And of course, aside from opening up to the indie market and having the exclusive franchises, it's older generation games receiving a second chance on the Switch.
I understand if you bought both Mario Kart 8 and the DLC for WiiU, that it felt weird to start off new in pretty much the same game. Maybe some of you did never go that route, still hold a grudge and would now have to buy the Deluxe version just to get access to the Booster Course Pass.
But in my opinion, in 2022, that's the least possible collateral damage, taking WiiU sales and age of the release into account. It's rather a good way from preventing the same happening during the transition to a new Nintendo console generation, supposedly announced in 2023 and maybe released in 2024 (my speculation after Nintendo Direct 2022).
It's probably my personal problem that I did not like Mario Kart 8 on WiiU and could first start to familiarize myself once it was out on the Switch. For me, that was a transition in itself, from being almost exclusively old-school to opening up to a new era of gaming. So I can't say it was the game, it could have been me.
But as far as I understand the game works a little better on the Switch on one hand and on the other it's a bestseller for years now, the question is, can they really create a Mario Kart 9 that is technically superior? I certainly hope so, but if they do, wouldn't the effort be better invested in the starting grid of a next generation rather than a console with a remaining lifespan of maybe two additional years?
It's not that they didn't try something new. There was Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit with the technically interesting concept of augmented reality and the chance to sell peripherals. I couldn't care less though for exactly that reason.
And then, there was Mario Kart Tour targeting a completely new generation of mobile gamers. Did they like it? I don't know. I prefer a racing game that I have in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe already and all I need are more courses.
I've read that selling new tracks as a season pass is not family friendly. Really? What they could have done, of course, is sell us each cup for 2,99€+ individually instead of 2,09€ retail (ca. 1,66€ via keyseller) with the pass.
Or even sell basically the same game as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe minus connection to an existing online community with just the 48 new tracks at 59,99€. How would that be better?
Nintendo is observing the market. They're into micro transactions already, targeting the mobile gaming section, a business a lot more lucrative than all consoles together. If they gave away new courses for free, as some seem to think would be reasonable, they would try to get your money another way.
And don't you think if they wanted to, they could've duplicated FIFA sale strategies? That means the same game with tiny adjustment every year full price just to buy new booster packs on top?
In a world where this seems to be widely accepted and enough whales are backing those systems, isn't Nintendo giving up a lot of dough by doubling the tracks for an admission of a third of the initial retail price?
Aren't they even redirecting players from their potential moneymaker by including Mario Kart Tour courses? To me that sounds like to Nintendo, the Switch is the main business model (and I hope they're not luring players in to have them accepting future micro transactions on the console). To me that sounds like maxing out one of my favorite games for a reasonable price, so shut up, Nintendo take my money, right?
But now towards the tracks. A couple of days in, what do I think of the two new cups in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass? Usually, I wouldn't write a review on an unfinished game, but usually I also don't buy season passes, at least not before season is over. So if everything goes as planned, I will expand the review wave by wave and add a final conclusion.
When the Booster Course Pass was activated, we played for about half an hour online to enjoy our first impressions together. Those initially were, despite surprises like directional change on Paris Promenade, that both Golden Dash and Lucky Cat Cup are entertaining but fairly easy, except for Ninja Hideaway maybe.
Then I went on and beat all Golden Dash Cup classes with three stars on the first try, except the reversed one that required a second attempt. This isn't supposed to be boasting. I think of myself as a motivated average player and I'm used to getting my arse kicked online, because I need to really work on my defense.
Once I was feeling dizzy, release was at midnight, I at least had beaten a few staff ghosts at Time Trial and got gold for the 150ccm Lucky Cat Cup. At that point I had loosely played for about five hours and wasted most of it for Time Trial, which I usually finish before starting 150ccm.
At first, I felt underwhelmed, but after a few hours of sleep in this event I had planned for, I picked up the Switch controller again to perceive I wasn't playing an advanced add-on to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
There's a reason they divided Booster Course Cups as a similar structured roster from the original ones. If these two cups are equivalent to Mushroom and Flower Cup, it all falls into place.
And actually it is Time Trial where I can spot a difference. As easy it seems at first to finish gold in Grand Prix mode, finding the ideal line appears to be more challenging or at least the Nintendo staff ghosts make it feel like it.
Doing so however led to a significant advantage against other experienced players who did not spend as much time with it yet.
There is a racing potential in those tracks, that will unfold with training and that way probably will resonate best with the less arcadey, not so casual players.
I appreciate that a lot as a reward for spending time with a game. Slingshooting lazy gamers forward at all cost is something I despise. A game is balanced, when you win after doing homework. You lose, you analyze, you work on it.
At this point, I don't regret a Cent spend on the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass. But it is hard to mess up the delivery of 48 tracks for just about 52 Cents a course (or even less if you bought a key elsewhere) to an already great game, innit?
Though I share an empty feeling, missing the opportunity to play all new tracks at once, I think Nintendo made a wise decision for the online community they did not sacrifice for the sake of releasing a new game.
Imagine the split if it were two different programs! Instead, you get access via DLC Season Pass or as a Nintendo Switch Online + Expension Pack member, if that's your preference. And if you can't or won't invest into any of them, you're still able to enter any online competition and ride the new courses if an opponent has the access. How isn't that inclusive and user friendly?
As exceptional it is to have a game sell that well and have players return to compete online for years, releasing new tracks will increase the number of competitors and naturally will decrease with freshness fading, independent from the number of courses released. So by dropping six waves over two years, the online community can only benefit, whilst 8 tracks in two cups is enough to keep you occupied a while until perfection of you racing them.
Wave 1
Golden Dash Cup
Paris Promenade
This course confronts the player with two things. I've not played Mario Kart Tour until a few days ago, but I cannot deny it was awkward enough to shy away from a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remake. Another issue could be trademarks. I don't even know if they ever touched real places other than augmented in Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.
Not caring for the authenticity of the city design and rather happy about a new course to play though I enjoyed the long drift passage and surprise element, when route changes in third lap, so that possibly some players still drive opposite your direction.
It's really an incorporation of elements taken from multiple Mario Kart Tour Paris Passage tracks, one of them acting as a short cut, if I understand correctly. Some use of pipes and a piranha plant or the glider passages help to not forget it's a Mario Kart game. It's fun. And of course it plays a lot better with a pro controller than swiping your mobile screen.
Toad Circuit
It's maybe odd to include a course to the second slot, that was clearly designed to be the opener of Mario Kart 7, very much in the tradition of the first Mario Circuit. However, as I love the plain perfection of the SNES inspiration, I'm totally up for pure racing on this course.
Here, it's simple enough that items of course play a role, but the driving requires more than avoiding traps and shots to win while staying on track. If you don't find the ideal line and don't make use of cuts, you must be very lucky to win against advanced players here. That's probably why they decided against the addition of more laps to this rather short course.
It's the first track where a difference in textures really caught my attention. There's enough happening on Paris Promenade and you could observe the greenery there as an individual art style, but even though they've blown up and reworked graphics since the Nintendo Direct trailer, the grass on Toad Circuit for instance is just plain green.
On the other hand, I've seen critique that the tires had the same problem, and I just can't remember if I really saw the same on release day. I know they felt odd. But when I checked specifically after that review, the tires had profile textures and a shade, missing in that critique's footage. Was there a patch?
Yes, that's the beauty of technology, they could update those graphics easily, if it was just because they've been in a rush. But even if they didn't and the Booster Course Pass will act more as an exploitation of leftovers, do you really have your eyes on the green while driving? That's for the backseat.
It would be interesting though, if there's a pattern of courses from Mario Kart Tour to find the way to the Booster Course Pass roster, as Toad Circuit is one of them as well.
Choco Mountain
Another one of those Tour ports is Choco Mountain, first appearing in Mario Kart 64. I must have played the first incarnation a ton as despite I never really liked Mario Kart 64 for several reasons, we played it just as often at a friend's place as we did Super Mario Kart.
I don't recall much though, because that was totally last century, a millennium ago. I'm not even sure if I had more problems with the boulder dropping passage than on the Booster Course version.
I also had to read up that there's a curve now having a banister present all the time, whilst the N64 version only had it on 50ccm and Time Trial and Mario Kart DS omitted the banister completely.
Maybe for that reason Choco Mountain doesn't feel very challenging in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
In this case though, having had it in Mario Kart Tour before, where a cave passage with bats was added, might actually be an enrichment.
Choco Mountain plays alright and it has just enough variation including good drifting passages and few jumps to keep you busy in tournaments. But other than cutting a corner via an acceleration item, I didn't find any twist to make the track stand out a lot.
Even though the original music hurts, I'm not sure if the remake is better. But I would prefer an off switch anyway, so I can listen to the latest Mostrich Mixtape. Until then, I think any soundtrack from the Pass is quite alright.
Coconut Mall
Originating from Mario Kart Wii, Coconut Mall back in the day was one of those examples of overcomplicating course designs, one of the reasons I turned away from the franchise.
However, despite still having mixed feelings about design choices, I got more used to lavish layouts and can accept them better with the positive gameplay evolution in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Being the first track not having an appearance in Mario Kart Tour, Coconut Mall seems to also have the purpose to compensate for the lack of height difference so far in the Golden Dash Cup.
You start with stairs and escalators to a race on different levels of a shopping mall offering multiple opportunities for tricks and shortcuts. Once you've oriented, you will find your preferred path including acceleration through a shop.
It is challenging to combine tricks with entering drift passages, forcing you to brake if not in line perfectly, either. It's also one of the few courses in this wave that don't get just even better on 200ccm.
Again though, the true potential isn't found in Grand Prix mode as the computer isn't very hard to beat.
I appreciate in this mostly cosmetically remade adaption there's no additional confusion like trains hitting randomly in Super Bell Subway for instance, one of my lesser favourite tracks. for me it's probably helpful the cars near the finish line don't move like on Mario Kart Wii. That way, Coconut Mall isn't my preferred choice, but something I can practice enough swiftly to be on par.
Looking back at the Wii version though I understand the critique on the visuals here. How can the palm trees look better in the original? And those escalators! They've been gorgeous! But I'm also grateful I can see which direction they're going now. Flooring? Couldn't care less, but If you played it for ages it maybe is essential to you.
I can say Coconut Mall plays good on the Switch from my perspective, but yes, a cosmetic makeover would be a nice gesture towards customers who actually bought the pass and don't just use it as a bonus to the online upgrade.
Lucky Cat Cup
Tokyo Blur
The Lucky Cat Cup starts with just another one of those urban Mario Kart Tour courses. If I looked it up correctly, each of the three laps is modeled after one of the first three Tokyo Blur tracks in Tour, though like on Paris Promenade the biggest noticable change happens in third lap when you pass a gate to a very long mostly driftable passage with coins and item boxes.
Just like the rest of this course, if it wasn't for some Thwomps and a lot of the coins placed oddly off what I consider an ideal line, Tokyo Blur could be purely high speed.
The first two laps even feature a ramp you can easily use on 200ccm without sacrificing a mushroom. I think this is a good development for gameplay, though. Looking back, many courses in Mario Kart 8 were clearly not made with 200ccm in mind, at least if smooth driving was intended.
Tokyo Blur however isn't as entertaining as its city counterpart in the Golden Dash Cup to me, but of course offers another advantage to those who work on mastering the layout.
And even though the last player has now realized there's not a single anti-gravity or underwater section in this wave, I can only appreciate the focus on actual driving skill independent from surviving hazards and dodging items.
I don't know why exactly Nintendo withhold on placing landmarks more prominent on Tokyo Blur, just like they did with the Arc de Triomphe, Eifeltower or Café for instance. You can spot quite some characteristic elements in the background if not driving yourself, but at the wheel, despite maybe for that shrine like section, the track could be almost anything.
Perhaps it's because a japanese company doesn't look at their place like tourists, maybe they have more respect for the environment. From a western perspective, how great would it have been to pass some distinct landmarks, especially an otaku district of course, more directly?
Like going down the escalator to a train station and there pass shops and vending machines. Take it to the extreme and enter a maid café, where you enter the sewers via a giant japanese toilet in the restroom. You exit towards a view of Fuji-san just to find a Kaiju Bowser attacking Tokyo as a Gojira substitute when you return to the city.
I get you, that doesn't sound like me as a player, but from a design point of view, something like that would make the course more characteristic and memorable.
Shroom Ridge
Surprisingly, quite a few players seem to hate the concept of this Mario Kart DS course, which is a bit of a bastard child of Toad's Turnpike and Yoshi Circuit, looking at it from a Mario Kart 8 perspective. So cut away the fancy wall driving, jumps or piranha plants and place racing amongst public traffic on a narrow mountain ridge with sharp and often blind turns. How isn't that exciting?
It's not so much learning the patterns of traffic, it's about controlling your drifts, so you can slide wherever the flow takes you.
However, already more difficult on 150ccm, Shroom Ridge will require you to work heavily on your breaking technique on 200ccm. But that's something Mario Kart 8 Deluxe should have confronted you with earlier.
I would love to be able to compare this second course not imported from Mario Kart Tour with its original incarnation on the DS, actually playing and not just watching a video.
I would love to know how much of a difference it makes to have one lane of cars actually moving towards you instead of both lanes going your direction. Imagine someone who can't stay on track with the Switch version, what level of rage would be reached with the original then?
After the mixed reactions I understand why they chose to exclude this feature even though it's in the same wave, on Paris Promenade, where you can crash directly into your opponents, possibly causing a massive twist to the results.
They even seem to have been adding guardrails to some of the Shroom Ridge turns, just as if the kids 17 years ago had been hardcore driving dinosaurs. But seriously, I appreciate the challenge as much as balancing the course a bit for 200ccm.
Reusing cars from Toad's Turnpike is fine by me. Why not use something existing if it's more appropriate visually, especially if it's an element not already overstrained.
I did not have the time yet to familiarize with the shortcuts yet, I must admit. In this case I'd say it only speaks for their placement a lot less prominent as usual.
Give Shroom Ridge a chance, it's not at all that bad.
Sky Garden
If you've read my raving review of Mario Kart: Super Circuit, you might expect me to rant about how different this Booster Course Pass version is from the original. But if I wanted to play exactly the same game, I would wheel out my trusty GBA or ask for an emulated version to be released on Nintendo's Switch.
Well, maybe it's because I don't have that strong connection to the original course or the remake is more like a new undulating interpretation of the theme related to Cloudtop Cruise, that I totally feel at home on Sky Garden. I like the smooth drifts and small break ups via jumps like on a mushroom trampoline. Usually I avoid the leaves though, it might be a shortcut, but too big a chance of falling.
Speaking of shortcuts, they removed quite some for the remake due to design, but just like the donut from Sweet Sweet Canyon, you can also cut through a beanstalk here.
Again released for Mario Kart Tour before, in this case it was as far as I know included in the mobile game between the Nintendo Direct announcement of the Booster Course Pass and the release of Wave 1, so it's relatively fresh in both formats.
I think it's a good balance between concentration on racing and not getting into the zone too quickly. It is one of those tracks however I can play for eternities on Time Trial and just forget the world until I finally hit another record.
Ninja Hideaway
As a grande finale Nintendo decides to unwrap another original course from Mario Kart Tour, although this time they forgot to mark it in the select screen. So without better knowledge I actually thought we got an exclusive track with the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass.
But let's focus on what we actually have. Besides the Asian flavor of a chinese themed Dragon Driftway and a more modern yet less characteristic Tokyo Blur, we now finally have a more historically inspired japanese course around a ninja dojo, that clearly shines with its alternate routes.
There are several sharp corners to master in this mansion, but as much as I hated getting stuck from the first lap on, it matches the design and acts as an actual challenge, rarely seen in Booster Course Pass so far. On 200ccm Grand Prix I could only finish first yet, when I fell back to second place on a course before. As much as it bothers if you're about to rush through the wave, a challenge like this is actually needed, so it requires you to try more often until you ace the cup on three stars entirely.
Possibly the placed iconography is as random as some people think. I'm not familiar enough with the current lore to distinguish how much this is accurately a Wario course or not. I don't care much though, because compared to most other tracks in this wave there's quite a lot happening to keep me occupied with finding my way through the labyrinth.
It's a bit like a wooden Bowser Castle with its turns, spikes and jumps. You can take a lower route or decide to drive up a ladder to pass girders and an elevator before you fly over to the rooftops. It's a wild ride, especially compared to the remaining lineup of this Wave and yet I don't think it is unfair. It's got to be mastered.
I'd like refer to letshugbro's review on Backloggd here with the idea this Season could be a testing phase where to go with Mario Kart in the future. Now, we all hope it will be at least as good as now, but what I'm not convinced of yet is his idea of Mario Kart Mayhem.
I don't know, if, where I go, I won't be lost without roads. It is true that Ninja Hideaway doesn't exactly have a defined course, but somehow it does. On one hand it's not much more than the alternate routes in early Bowser Castles, innit? I wouldn't call a number of options within an imperative connection between point a and b open world yet, on the other hand I'm not sure expanding any further than Ninja Hideaway would be my thing. I'm still acclimatizing to this much.
Around the millennium I had my phase of Formula 1 games for a reason. Just as much as I preferred T.O.C.A. 2 about Ridge Racer or Grand Turismo. The games I liked were a lot more realistic and in that sense unforgiving.
You might take from my review so far, that I'm a big fan of the simple courses and the original Super Mario Kart, so contradictory to me saying the Booster Course Pass was mostly too easy, I actually enjoy the majority of the added tracks and will be fine if it stays with designs like that, except that I feel a break in continuity visually with the new art style, if it's really on purpose.
But on the other hand, I did love the game Driver back in the day and I'm still thinking about catching up on Burnout Paradise, which is already offering multiple choices of how to ride. I don't know, what would you think would be an appropriate continuation of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?
It sure isn't a mobile game, though I think the Mario Kart Tour courses aren't bad per se. But would it be interesting to expand the world and options? Maybe in an MMO rally format? Something taking place in an individual career alongside everybody else and rather concentrated on how you work on set obstacles than race cups?
If it's going to be less casual then, I probably would enjoy real racing weekends much more. Training, qualifiers and then about 64 laps of racing on one course with legendary sections like the Miyamoto Switchback everybody hates when it's raining.
But that's neither the anything can happen I take from Ninja Hideaway nor any of the other Booster Course Pass tracks so far. I rather see a continuation of non-similar laps in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, just as we got with courses like Mount Wario or Merry Mountain from Mario Kart Tour, that I could imagine being ported for a Christmas wave.
If there's one conclusion so far, I'd say we can expect more Mario Kart Tour and as much as we like to play something new, we're not too keen on change, but might have to get used to a new art style which is just cosmetic, as the courses play great.
We'll see if Nintendo is going to cave in and submit a patch based on textures and shades already existing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It's not going to have an effect on the overall racing experience though. Toad Circuit is just going to look more in line with Mario Circuit for instance. It will look more refined and therefore more satisfying.
But don't let those details hold you back.
Don't hide away, come out and play!

You've probably skipped The Innsmouth Case a couple of times on sale, just like me. But, if not convinced already, maybe you should check it out, not only if you're interested in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, because it is also a hilarious not so hard boiled detective story.
It's been a while since I've read his stories as a foundation for a series of essays on lovecraftian movies for a handful of print and online publications, amongst them Dagon and Cthulhu, both inspired by The Shadows Over Innsmouth, a story you should at least know, if you want to understand the interconnection with the lovecraftian world.
The Innsmouth Case however is neither retelling nor precisely recapturing the literature, so if you wanted to get into the game just for fun, you can. It's just that as always with referential storytelling you might not understand the humorous facets as much. I also don't think an adventure like this is going to prepare you for the books, though it does one thing better than many Lovecraft adaptions.
Those usually struggle to capture the unspeakable horror between the lines of what was told by the author rediscovered in pop culture during recent years. A guy like Cthulhu, for instance, isn't the tentacle faced baby Yoda of demonology depictions like Funko Pops make you want to believe.
In the eighties, a short story by H.P. Lovecraft usually was good for delivering a basic idea for a picture to be garnished with practical effects extravaganza. Which is awesome, by the way, in cases like From Beyond even more thought through than it appears at first sight. But as much gore galore can be entertaining, it's not the feeling of desperation like I get from the originals.
There's a reason Lovecraft works better as audio plays or maybe even audiobooks told by a single narrator. Even though in cosmic scale the stories create a rather intimate atmosphere depending on your individual interpretation. Using a format to be described more as interactive than a visual novel, using spare but beautifully sombre illustrations, appears to be comprehensible.
I'd call The Innsmouth Case a text adventure if it wasn't too easy to be confused with games relying heavily on keyboard input, which isn't the case. You've got your 27 endings reached via interconnecting plot fragments and plenty decisions to make, so you can discover completely new areas or meet the same people in the same situation, but heavily influenced by if you made friends with them earlier or not.
From my first hardly five minutes, where I've managed to drop the case and go home to watch TV, I was hooked until I finally saw the last possibility about 20 hours later. It might have helped the atmospheric score was not so essential I couldn't listen to the newest Mostrich Mixtape instead, but once I found out anything can happen in this story, I was highly motivated to explore what's called achievements on Nintendo Switch.
It doesn't matter if you seek help at an early stage or look for a walkthrough to puzzle last pieces that you basically have seen, but not in the correct order to log in the last two endings - like me - but confusingly as often platforms like Steam or Xbox seem to have their own additional achievement system to keep track on how often you've been talking about veganism in a playthrough for example.
Whilst that's ok to check what you could have missed along the way, I couldn't care less about this type of scoring, even though I could not hold back counting myself how many occasions of sexual intercourse can be put into a single playthrough, because there's a diverse variety of creatures at your service in The Innsmouth Case. My focus though is what made it to the Switch, keeping track what's left to explore.
If there's one thing to criticize in this game it's that due to interactivity (and maybe confusion with previous decisions in cache) you will find mismatching text pages once you dig deep enough. That can be an ending speaking of a reward you did not collect for instance, but at that point you will have skipped plenty of pages anyway and will make enough sense of it. It's just not as perfect as it could be.
Additionally, I would have preferred a more direct connection to the decision tree, so it's possible to instantly go back and see what would happen if chosen differently. There are chapters you can address to go back and take it again from there, but you will skip quite some text and action sometimes to get to a specific moment again.
The Innsmouth Case however makes that up with the weird tale of a private detective at the bottom of existence. Once you're on a case of a missing girl in Innsmouth, you will have to save expenses and decide to go by bus or hitchhike, to give you a hint of the situation (a bit like the original protagonist waiting for the bus, because he can't afford a train ticket, if I remember correctly).
It's up to the player now if you can bring the girl back home and the level of molestation it takes, well, if it doesn't end in death anyway. Chances are significantly high.
Could be it's because The Innsmouth Case speaks to my bitter generation grown old on not growing up, but I like the incorporated dark humor referencing b-movies and games from the eighties, first person shooters from the nineties, experience of the second Star Wars trilogy but also confrontation with mobile app addiction and gender diversity along the rituals of Dagon with the possibility to travel dimensions.
It falls into place more naturally than a movie like Cthulhu, which made an interesting take on homosexuality within the cult but felt a bit constructed. It's more like "What the heck, sleep with me creature of unknown ancestry, I'm on vacation here!"
And The Innsmouth Case sure is more refreshing than the latest survival horror.
I know there are plenty of lovecraftian games, from very outdated point'n'click adventures like Call Of Cthulhu: Shadow Of The Comet to a more recent Gibbous - A Cthulhu Adventure that despite the lovely artstyle I still have in backlog. And there's even another text based game called Omen Exitio: Plague, that on first sight appeared as a more serious take on old game books and also more complicated, keeping track with a stat sheet, map and everything.
I will dive deeper into that sometime, but let me tell you this: Even looking to expand my adventure addiction from point'n'click to visual novels, I'm not sure I knew I was looking for something like The Innsmouth Case, but it turns out I was!
It's perfect for me, as I too often skip my reading for a game and I like to listen to music when reading and I can do this here as well. It's an entertaining take on lovecraftian horror by using noir tropes in a sarcastic if not cynical way, so two things I love matching with the dark humour of mine. I don't regret a second spent on The Innsmouth Case, I'm just sad it's over.
I really want more like this, but meanwhile, check it out yourself. You get it on sale often and who knows, maybe you too didn't know it's exactly what you wanted?
Even if it's just for the reason it permits you to finally decide for the things other games won't, because the format allows to paraphrase the effect, rather than having to manifest it in pixels - which makes connecting it to H.P. Lovecraft an utterly brilliant move, if you ask me.

If you're a fan of 2D point'n'click adventures, especially when you grew up on Lucas Arts games like Day of the Tentacle and the Monkey Island series, The Wardrobe most certainly should be of interest to you.
I know, right? The title sucks big time. Who in his/her right mind would call a program after furniture, even though it makes sense after all? Maybe you've skipped it on sale like me because of that, maybe because some reviews are written from the perspective of players not familiar with the game mechanics of the glory days. Don't worry, The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition does a good job recapturing some of the old school flavour, without hurting too much, if you ask me, having played it on Nintendo Switch.
Also, judging from colourful screenshots, I wasn't too sure if The Wardrobe could be too friendly and bright for my taste. With the skeleton protagonist and overall Halloween theme, this adventure might have as well been the Grim Fandango us old school fans deserved but never got. The Wardrobe is neither of that precisely.
It is true though, that the incorporated tropes are as manifold as the popcultural references. Sarcastic humor and breaking of the fourth wall make The Wardrobe almost appear like the Deadpool of point'n'click adventures.
The Wardrobe delightfully challenges you to spot all the hidden quotes and objects ranging from games of course over movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Matrix or Donnie Darko to shows like How I Met Your Mother, Game of Thrones or Stranger Things, to name some. They did not forget The Bride of Frankenstein and Stan & Ollie for us oldies though, included paintings like the poker playing dogs and it seems the dudes also like heavier tunes (Korn, Slipknot).
The respectable effort put into showing off the creators' cultural interest does not completely reflect in The Wardrobe's storytelling though. There's a short origin on how you became a skeleton and next moment you get out of your casket (wardrobe) to witness your friend's belongings being moved to another place.
There's a hint of haunting in here, based on friendship. The plum buddy Roland fed Skinny, the guy to become the skeleton, caused an allergic shock by accident. Struggle is now the move divides the two friends before Skinny can forgive Roland. And once we made it on the truck, we're far away from joining.
That's enough to visit a map full of places to meet an entertaining variety of unique characters and solve puzzles not without crossing the line of moon logic. I really appreciate CINIC Games have chosen to not make The Wardrobe too simple for the sake of pleasing the other half of players hating to walk back and forth checking for possible interactions to solve a puzzle.
In case of The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition on Nintendo Switch I can say they transferred the old routines in a more, but not most comfortable way - meaning it helps you can highlight all hotspots (by pressing R) and the interface is very usable but I felt lost twice, so I consulted a walkthrough as no hints are included directly. It plays alright via touchscreen, though as often I prefer my pro controller.
The included straightforward tutorial is actually funny. It is very easy being dropped into a dialogue situation first and then being forced to try the icons popping up by holding the A-button on a hotspot. There's the usual look, pick up, use or talk and sometimes only an action trigger. Left stick moves the cursor in a most convenient way and you really only need B additionally for menu, inventory and map. The Wardrobe may be one of the best controllable point'n'click ports to the Switch.
The start is actually so welcoming it was easy to forgive minor flaws and some matters of taste. One btw. was on my german Switch I could only change language from the main menu, so when I discovered there's only a mostly pleasant english dub in The Wardrobe, I was stuck with German subs, that I could turn off for translations, but still was facing german dialogue options which felt weird to me, as the texts of course still triggered Skinny talking english. So adjust that to your preference from the beginning and you'll be fine.
Having been growing up in Germany is also a crucial factor in my reception of The Wardrobe though, I think, being so heavily intertwined with the experience of popular culture. As much as I am interested and involved in consuming mostly the same works, my perspective and especially the environmental influence is different to those of the creators', whilst I've almost been growing up in the same neighborhood (and probably having traded similar Amiga games in school) as Jan "Poki" Müller-Michaelis, creator of games such as Edna & Harvey or Deponia.
So it's probably natural, as much as I think being able to progress what CINIC Games are trying to express, them being based in Italy could mean a totally different relation to possibly localized games that I'm missing out on. It's maybe for that reason I would always prefer a Poki game, also drawing a lot from the same influences like Lucas Arts, over an also entertaining The Wardrobe.
Even though CINIC Games try to lead players a little in subtext of interactions (implying you could combine items under other circumstances) the game doesn't encourage interactions as much as Edna & Harvey does for instance, to the point I missed trying combinations in the above mentioned cases of feeling lost. And that's in an adventure I found it easier to achieve results through actions within different time zones.
When Edna & Harvey rewards you by entertaining unique reactions to pretty much anything and is able to imperceptibly guide you through the game at the same time, The Wardrobe asks you to stop your impractical input or just doesn't react to some of the phone numbers you can call for instance, relying on relentlessness to find out a twist before the ending a few reviewers might have been skipping.
With those examples I'd like to point out the two different attempts of basically an escape scenario by Edna & Harvey enriching the genre by refining what I liked and polishing off struggles and The Wardrobe taking the, in my opinion, lesser sophisticated route of mostly throwing references at you while trying to please with what you already know and like. If that kind of gaming wasn't yours before though, there's nothing to make you change your mind.
Please get me right, I really like both games, but there's a reason I prefer one over the other. It's almost like judging on graphics for example. Both are hand drawn visuals executed well, in this case maybe Edna & Harvey could be described as pragmatic dilletantism and The Wardrobe as more refined comic art, but it depends on your personal reception what you like better.
Having said all that, The Wardrobe does never require you to save other than to pick up later, or at least I didn't find a way to mess up so badly I had to go back and try again. The game even usually erases inventory items once they fulfilled their purpose. It was maybe a 50/50 mix of puzzles that fell into place naturally and trial and error. You have to be prepared to revisit locations and then finally make sense of objects you spotted earlier, keeping you occupied enough for a game more or less at a sweet spot between too short and too long.
Had it been shorter, I wouldn't have felt like I got my money's worth. Any longer and there would have had to be a more captivating plot. Not that any old point'n'click adventure had that, but The Wardrobe that way is a bit like the Halloween party we visit in the game.
It's dressing up inspired by all those great franchises and meet in a house where fun things happen in all corners. Some of them you can miss if you don't look for them. You can only play with the props people brought, but there's no protocol other than enter the party and get along well enough to find a way back home in the end. It's a good night amongst old friends, nice chat as well, but nobody is available for a deep talk in the kitchen. You still like to show up to these occasions, but you know other parties are fresher and better organized.
That's what you should take The Wardrobe as, I guess, and being an indie game it does very well in capturing previous ideas and mix them at a high standard addressed to fans. There's nothing wrong with that, for that one playthrough you probably keep it at. And if you expect no more than that, you won't be disappointed. So good job, CINIC Games, I'd like to play another one, but also wouldn't mind you taking that experience to the next level.

Wow, that was short. The Little Acre seems to be the only noticable game by irish Pewter Games Studios and so I don't want to be too harsh with them, as they took a rather original shot at one of my favourite genres, point'n'click adventures, which we can't have enough of.
Produced with the help of legendary game designer Charles Cecil, who created titles such as Broken Sword - one of my personal favourites since its release - it might have been my high expectations that got in the way. In my imagination though with The Little Acre I was also going to play a game with a slight medieval and/or steam punk flair, which wasn't exactly the case.
The setting nonetheless has potential in combination with the charming cartoon style. I can't remember having played any game set in 1950s Ireland. Sadly that is not very obvious. Actually waking up in that countryside house at first reminded me of the exposition in The Whispered World. Later a microwave oven comes to use, an apparatus available at the time, but with no precise reference The Little Acre could happen in any rural western environment roughly second half of the twentieth century.
As many point'n'click adventures on the Nintendo Switch, The Little Acre reveals being a port due to controls that would have been more comfortable using a mouse or at least a touchscreen option omitted in this game.
As often movement seems to originally have been designed for using mouseclicks, as the allowed areas were placed rather crudely.
Though they did a good job implementing a mix of hot spots targeted with a cursor once you combine with items from the inventory and triggered via button control whilst you move your character around with the same analogue stick also used for said cursor, it can get in the way the moment timing is required.
In general The Little Acre plays very well on the Switch though, except for that one time I managed to crash the game when I removed the glove from the machine followed by clicking on the screen on the wall. Somehow it didn't like that, so Lily kept shaking like an epileptic. I could reboot an auto save to solve this.
I liked how the story unfolds from two perspectives. At first, you play the unemployed Aidan, searching for his father who left plenty of strange inventions to deal with. The Little Acre shines once his daughter Lily wakes up having to look for her father as well. It's this cute infantile troublemaker angle of a brat with a british (irish?) accent that defines the game for me.
Neither are the typical escape room puzzles very challenging nor is The Little Acre blessed with a very innovative plot. Possibly this was a matter of time and money, as especially the ending appeared very rushed. There's a lack in character development once you left the house, primarily on supporting roles such as grandfather's colleague or the wannabe nemesis, both appearing very randomly.
However, never packed with a large inventory and accompanied by animal helpers, The Little Acre could be a good introduction to the genre for children. I don't think those still are used to the cartoon style from TV, but as long they understand the English dub (there are only subs for others like Germans), that is alright except sometimes varying in volume, it might be a bit more challenging for them whilst the humor is mildly enough to show them, yet not precisely educational.
Having said that, The Little Acre wasn't really bad, there was just huge room for improvement left, a collection of chances missed in an otherwise nice construct. With those absent challenges and ideas it somehow was better keeping it at a possible length of one and a half hours straight, or if you're an obsessive explorer like me, even with achievements omitted on the Nintendo Switch, rather two and a half hours.
I would really like to see if Pewter Games can build upon this and create a more refined follow up.

Clubhouse Games is kind of a mixed bag, especially when you've got other versions of Uno and Ludo, but there should be enough casual games to wheel this out every other session with your friends. I call it shelved at the moment, because I won't start playing the Mahjong type games and have played my share of most the interesting ones. If it's back in the cartridge slot, it will probably stay a while again.
This compilation worked like trying some games in the beginning and stick with the most fun. We actually like Darts more than Bowling, but prefer to pick Pool most of the time, as it's not having the physical requirements. Motion control worked better for Bowling on Wii, in my opinion, but I could figure out throwing 180's in darts swiftly. That sadly made it less a challenge and I wasn't hooked for that reason, too. Pool is stripped to the essentials like most games on here, but it works well enough to entertain some chatty rounds. I did not miss much, except it's not the real table.
We quite often played Ludo online, it's great for being just the game without any glitter and the virtual dice make it go much faster than the physical board game.
We also had a phase playing Othello which I learned to like from the Game Boy game back in the day. Checkers works, but was too simple. I couldn't find one amongst my friends to play chess with and it's too complicated from my wife's view, so based on my old Battle Chess skills from until around 1990, the computer was too hard as an opponent to start again. However, whilst the AI in Othello is challenging, I could manage to beat it and after some training the wife could also beat me once or twice, so she keeps going.
We also like to throw in a few rounds of Air Hockey, Connect Four, Mini Curling or Golf every once in a while, all fun little games to waste your time on for a few minutes more. It really adds up all together and soon two hours have passed. I guess that's somehow the concept of this compilation.
I don't like Blackjack and I spent years playing Hold em on Pokerstars, multiple tables at a time actually, so there's another section I didn't touch yet.
There's some games I didn't play as much as I thought. The falling object puzzle is ok, but it's made for just the few minutes. I've been playing Mastermind for ages back in the day and had a board game revival with my brother a few years back, before I downloaded an app version on my mobile more recently. But the game is there and it's a good chance I'll stick to it later.
That's how much the Clubhouse Games compilation has to offer. Like, I really never played much Solitaire, but one day I clicked on Klondike Solitaire and kept returning almost any day for a month straight. Sometimes 15 minutes at once, sometimes hours while listening Mostrich Mixtapes on Spotify. And that's already a lot more than I played all the backlogged sale items and freebies I never touched, just for one of the included 51 games!
That's the deal here, you get 51 games, most of them on their own maybe worth a buck or two on the eShop. Some of them you'll like, some of them you don't. But in this bundle, at least if you got it for a good price, you'll probably save money on the ones you like in that calculation and get all the other games on top. And if the Ubisoft servers crash too bad again, you also have a backup to play Uno with your friends. So what's to argue about?
This is not a system seller, but it's one of the casual must haves for any Switch collection. Despite you only need one cartridge to connect with your friends locally, who only need the demo, sales might have profited from Covid, as playing online, that requires the full version on all ends, is a most welcome option these days, when developers like the ones from Boomerang Fu sadly still miss out.
One thing I miss here is a good Pinball machine, one thing I still need for my Switch. And just like Clubhouse Games introduced me to Klondike Solitaire, it also raised the question if there's more Golf or Pool games to check out. Seems like it wasn't just plenty wasted hours, but as stripped the games might appear, actually fun and more to come with this compilation and maybe other games I wouldn't have looked for.
Clubhouse Games that way isn't that one AAA blockbuster ruling your life for a couple of days or weeks, but it's a compilation of some little fun games and some the pristine epitome of play, that will probably end up being booted every once in a while as long as I will have my Switch.

So I had neither played a visual novel before, nor did the term pop up despite my interest in story driven point'n'click. But I had the spare 99 points for the game being on sale at the Nintendo eStore and One Night Stand somehow caught my attention. A sex game on family friendly Nintendo?! Not quite.
According to Wikipedia Lucy Blundell got the idea for her game debut One Night Stand while watching a miserable looking man on public transportation. She then rotoscoped footage shot of herself via mobile and used a free visual novel software called Ren'Py. The rather visual short story turns out as a chamber play assuming the protagonist woke up hungover next to a naked woman. The being dizzy feels real.
So One Night Stand let's the player try to find out how he ended up in the situation as well as offering plenty of interactions to influence the outcome, i.e. how much of a walk of shame it's going to be. The interesting aspect here is no matter how cool you both try to handle it, it's at least a little awkward.
I was surprised One Night Stand was first released on Windows PC rather than a mobile device as your first intuitive playthrough will last a few minutes, but for me, there was a huge motivation to find out what would happen if I didn't try to act as myself.
So One Night Stand appeared to be the ideal game to return to every once in a while to try and see all the twelve ways to complete. On the other hand, I was curious enough to master that within two sessions. That could also have something to do with the game mechanics being close to what I know as point'n'click, something you can't take for granted in a visual novel as Our Worlds Is Ended just taught me more recently.
The Switch version of One Night Stand not only offers to actually play it on a portable device. You can also pick if you'd like to control it via touchscreen, pro controller or with motion control support using joy cons. As much as I like my pro controller, using touchscreen turned out to be most convenient to me, even though I prefer not having to clean the screen from my prints all the time.
From my perspective One Night Stand was a great introduction to the format that way, as interaction still felt something like a puzzle whilst it was actually a maze of morality to a rather elaborate story told from a mid to end twenties point of view. Though that still is quite young to me, grown out of the demand for party nights let alone sexual adventures on that level, it's on the other hand a lot less juvenile than games I'm aware of to handle sexually related topics.
That still doesn't exclude the opportunity to put on her panties and try to get away with it, but details like this are rather a refreshing humorous turn of events to expand the variety of behaving like a jerk than an actual puberty joke.
I liked that about One Night Stand a lot. There are certain limits of exploration when it comes to details like the woman's dissimilar id's, but it doesn't seem to be the point to find out the exact story why she might have or use these. Most of us can imagine that and an ellipsis in these cases is probably more exciting than the plain explanation. It's more about how good of an idea it is to search her wallet while she's in the bathroom in the first place.
I guess if you didn't bring up the empathy before you played One Night Stand, there's an actual chance for you to learn your date is a human being with emotions, too. And that's quite reasonable as legitimation for whatever you're bold enough to try in this game.
So you ended up in bed together after having too many drinks. Shit happens. People of all genders do that. Doesn't matter. Is that a reason to take a snap of her sleeping naked to show your friend? You'll eventually find out. And then you hopefully learn through communication that this woman is actually nice and you don't really want to do anything like walking out while she's throwing up in the toilet.
One Night Stand is a beautifully realistic take on virtue and temptation of quite regular people, who got into a situation they can't even remember. It's up to the player to decide what's best to handle while having the freedom to experiment. I think though most of us wish in the end to have met under other circumstances. At least I was able to get to know an interesting person I would like to spend more time with if I was the protagonist.
That's quite an achievement for a program some people see as just a short game. In fact, I even saw it as a goal to try and make it last as long as I could, depending on behaviour. I'd say One Night Stand is one of those indies to profit from not having to match any standards, being good at being what they are and eventually finding their audience. If there's more like this, I'd love to play it.

Looking forward to a rather short puzzle plattformer like the first game I just finished last December, Creepy Tale 2 was actually a little surprise. Though I already had expectations that led me to buy the game early and discounted to 7,99€, still a lot as I had bought plenty on sale anyway that I could have played instead, this sequel changed game mechanics to an almost point'n'click adventure, adding depth to a simple left and right scenario.
No longer do you jump or randomly click to check for interactivity, as now there are hotspots allowing specific actions. And there is more than a vague story to Creepy Tale 2, actually even voice acted in English, with an eastern-european accent more or less. It does blend in however, because it is a sinister narration like fairytales before Disney added their formula just like it happened to Marvel and Star Wars more recently. It feels like at the adequate dark medieval place for a deceased mother and a little sister lost to evil forces.
When you start playing the boy Lars at his home, just like in Creepy Tale, there will be an expository, slight guidance at first, introducing the world and controls, but soon you're on your own, away from the house, looking for the remaining family. In case of Creepy Tale 2 though, due to the new hotspot system, I felt a lot less lost in what I was expected to do.
Good thing is, although you could play Creepy Tale 2 as a standalone title, it also delivers kind of an origin story to the build up mysteries from the first game without actually pushing it. It's up to your interpretation on the details found in both games, I guess, as I've read reviews telling there's no interconnection at all. Well, see for yourself.
Occuring in quite similar realms, it's no surprise puzzle design is rather familiar. It's basically a more polished surface with improved artworks reminding of old fantasy cartoons mixed with a beastiary and characters close to Creepy Tale. In the sequel, you find detail elements like glowing butterflies or dreamcatchers included just as puzzles will require a lot of trial and error, frustration and relief after learning patterns to hide from cannibal witches or opening locks.
Sadly the two options for an ending aren't too rewarding. In general I felt that from a gaming perspective it was actually anticlimactic due to the linear design and final decision happening way after quite some dialogue passed the screen. That's probably a matter of taste though, I just had a quite similar experience with The Whispered World. I would have preferred maybe just another little scene added before the credits roll in. It may contribute to the impression that the Switch version of Creepy Tale 2 omits the achievement system.
Technically, there's really just minor flaws to report from the game. I've heard the PC version had some bad freezing glitches that I didn't experience on the Switch. I had about five moments where it felt like the figure is stuck for a few seconds. There was no need for a reboot though. And then there was one puzzle that required me to learn I don't just move a switch back and forth horizontally, I can actually push and pull it vertically as well. That design didn't feel self explanatory enough.
If you don't want to play Creepy Tale 2 in English, you might want to check first, because when I left the default settings on German, the texts read like directly from Google Translate without having a native speaker related to the game looking over it. I could live with few sentences making no sense at all as I was listening to the English dub anyway, but when you read a diary a certain logic is mandatory.
In this case, and I switched to English text then, the month "March" for example was translated to "Marsch" from "the march" like in "marching soldiers" rather than the word "März" required here.
Creepy Tale 2 in a way still is a mixed bag, that you play as a fan of the atmosphere and story rather than looking for intelligent puzzles. Maybe I'm too used to moon logic here, but for instance I'd prefer finding actual solutions to clicking on a lock until it works. I also like to think forward, so stopping me from picking up an already highlighted item, that I will have to actually get, when I found out about it a few steps later does not work best with my way of playing.
I've read critique some walking back and forth is required due to clues being put on walls and other immobile objects, but as much as I understand a journal would help, as an old school gamer, I just rely on the secret technique of taking notes here. In fact, the old fart I am, just having a smartphone since about 15 month, I already moved on to creating a Google Docs file or even take a screenshot with the camera. I know, I could also screenshot with the Switch directly, but neither is the picture as easy to access during play, nor did they make transfer to my mobile device comfortable.
It's also a great addition for Creepy Tale 2 to offer more exploration through interaction, but that plus on the other hand also leads to that you might have to repeat the same combination a second time, so you've proven definitely, to find out you need to do it a third time, just for the sake of it. And then, when it's clear you want to jump on that item you just placed to cross water, you have to click that thrice as well, without anything to disturb you passing. It's nitpicking, but that really could be designed more convenient if there isn't supposed to be a challenge anyway.
But then you're just drawn into nightmarish conditions even forcing the young protagonist to kill sometimes. Creepy Tale 2 has a more than adequate score, I must add. In combination of sound design via headphones and the vibration of my pro controller some scenes literally felt creepy and in those rare moments when it's not only timing but time pressure the adrenaline level rises.
I guess after the blend of different situations in an eerie environment still created an interesting enough game with Creepy Tale, you can count the narrative development of Creepy Tale 2 as an improvement, whilst it's still stuck in the same kind of puzzle design. If that core would have evolved with the sequel, I would have called it a better game.
This way, I sure needed little more than three times the two hours it took me to complete the first game, but a lot of it went for narration I had no influence on other than to click it away, if I wanted to rush. I also wasted some time on puzzles that I possibly just was to lazy to find a clue for, but as they just required me going through a manageable amount of combinations I kept soldiering on.
Having paid a rather high price for me being a cheapskate, the effort put in to tell an actual story was required to balance the difference between the 2,99€ Creepy Tale cost me and the 7,99€ I spent on the sequel. Otherwise the lack of creativity in puzzle design would have felt close to the edge of what I'd be willing to waste on another random indie game, though in case of a then still quite new Creepy Tale 2 it really was the art and ambience I was after and I got that served well.

It must be weird to go back to Super Circuit coming from an all 3D era of Mario Kart for the kids. I had a hard time reckoning what it could be like for my 12 year old nephew when he felt lost facing the original Mario Kart on SNES Mini a few years back or a 21 year old a few weeks ago, when we changed from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to the original on the Switch.
To me, the whole story is entirely different. I grew up playing racing games looking way worse than Mario Kart, so when F-Zero and the plumber's grand prix were released on the SNES, those games were a revolutionary blast. Looking back, I understand graphics appear a little mushy maybe, but that's what made the games so incredibly fast.
Especially the original Mario Kart with its competitive features was our go to racer for years and what Mario Kart 64 had to offer just wasn't as perfect. It didn't look as good, the N64 controllers were crap and the gameplay itself... well, we still played the shite out of it at a friend's place, but it was no adequate substitute.
Introducing Mario Kart: Super Circuit I bought the GBA for, actually. That was promising. Back from those weird inferior 3D experiments to a style we knew and loved on SNES, except graphics looked a little more polished. It supported link cable, even with just one cartridge in use, just that the opponent could only choose Joshi. Real friends owned their private copy anyway.
I still feel, that Super Circuits, despite the new tracks we rarely used after unlocking the old ones, just feels almost as pure and perfect as the original Mario Kart on SNES, though it has a place in my heart ever since. Any Mario Kart I tried after Super Circuit couldn't capture what I liked about a game that requires skill instead of helping you slingshot after you messed up. Actually, I still have been playing almost daily on my trusty GBA until the SNES Mini came out and I kind of changed back to the emulated original for a while.
Even though I learned to love my Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I still think it's too much of item overkill and the way it rewards skill is too much based on, well, cheating, like the extensive use of shortcuts, to be truthfully honest. But Mario Kart 8 manages to balance between skilled driving and arcade mechanics enough to be fun. You can accidentally win sometimes and you loose way to often to crappy driver's just because they get spoiled with items, but in the end, you can dominate if you did your homework.
Still, Mario Kart: Super Circuit to me is the better balanced game between an already perfect original and modernity. I might have to be called purist, after rambling subjectively so much at the least, without even getting into detail about the program itself. But hey, it's Mario Kart, what do you expect? Everybody knows Mario Kart.
What I want to say is, there's some special charme about those two titles, the SNES and GBA version, that just can't be challenged and I'm a bit worried this is getting lost within later generations. But just as I had the patience to keep up with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, maybe it's possible for others to give those old games a chance like the above mentioned young folks did. After some getting used to and hard learning we actually had fun together. And after all, it's the history all your other favourite Mario Karts are based on.
Probably I'd recommend starting with the SNES game to understand what Mario Kart: Super Circuit was offering me after a disappointment with Mario Kart 64. The major flaw of Super Circuit could actually be, that we did not play it amongst friends as much as we did the SNES game. Maybe, had it not been requiring to link up consoles and had the screens been lit from the start, Super Circuit with its new additional tracks would have been completely on par with the SNES version.
I really was hungry for a true sequel and you can't believe how much I would appreciate a new one returning to what I feel was the main emphasis of Mario Kart. Just with modernized 2,5D graphics and some new tracks of course plus the online functions I enjoy so much in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Until then, I might wheel out the GBA every other month and see if I can beat myself in time trial anymore.

There's an evolution of racing games that spawned some revolutionary milestones. However, realistic simulations to me weren't a thing until Formula 1 or TOCA on the PlayStation. Until then, I had enjoyed playing titles like Super Cars 2 on the Amiga, RC Pro Am on the Gameboy and finally almost perfect fun racers Super Mario Kart and Rock'n'Roll Racing on the SNES.
There had been attempts on simulating before of course on almost any machine and Pole Position for the Atari VCS 2600 was my first contact, that I actually had to stick with for plenty of years. It feels like an old man, reporting of how hard times were back in the day, but this joke of a game really is all we had.
I had the chance to play the Pole Position arcade cockpit as well and even though it is simple and comparable to technical limitations of a Master System or NES game, maybe, except for offering more realistic steering peripherals, it is definitely something for early 80s. It's probably enjoyable for a quarter or two even today, if you're into checking out history and Virtua Racing is occupied.
On VCS, like almost any arcade port since Pac-Man, it suffers heavily from technical possibilities. There's really just a lump of pixels representing your car, though at least the tires have different colour than the body. The opponents don't. Those are just a yellow mess. The Sound is a good equivalent to the fart app I once downloaded to my cell phone.
My nostalgia for Pole Position relies mostly on how we used to play with it. Whilst it hardly does any more than those backlit Tomy racing playsets some of us owned in the 80s, it also works quite similar incorporating your imagination. Just like we've role played being fighter pilots playing Top Gun or being Luke Skywalker while playing Solaris, Pole Position was our chance being Niki Lauda or any other preferred driver.
That on one hand is something magical I miss in most recent games, on the other a game like Pole Position has so many blanks to fill in, that I really don't know how to sell it to anyone today. It is one thing if there's nothing else available, but if there's so much more on offer, why would you pick a game that doesn't at least have some kick ass mechanics to draw you in?
Let's face it, what we spend (well earned?) pocket money on ages ago probably wasn't even a bang for a buck back in the day. We just had to make the best of it speeding up, steering left and right like an idiot and turn the volume down to a minimum. And concerning imagination, once we had access to Hang-On for Master System or Test Drive for Amiga, Pole Position was swiftly forgotten.
There are good games on Atari's VCS 2600, but it just wasn't the time for racing in home environment. For instance, I played more hours of Pac-Kong, which is a horrible platformer, than I ever did of Pole Position.
I like the artwork of my copy though and with the memories of how we played as kids, often with the box and manual as the only blueprint to what those blocks could possibly represent, it might stay in the collection forever.

2017

Uno is a card game, that sneaked its way into my late childhood, but never could replace the quite similar game Mau Mau, played with a regular card deck. So it's that simple, you got your numbers and instead of pictures, you have some more obvious special cards that make it a little easier to define what cards let you pick a colour or draw additional cards for instance. In any incarnation, Mau Mau or Uno and its counterfeits, it's fun and challenges friendships.
I've always been open to play games based on golf or pool on electronic devices since I had my first Atari VCS, but board or card games? I have Monopoly on Sega's Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis, but that came later and wouldn't have been a substitute to the board and card game affine household I grew up in. I was lucky I had two parents, a brother and friends visited to play as well. I had plenty of games and if we didn't borrow additional at the library, the friends brought some along as well.
Then, I didn't have an idea of advantages an electronic version like Uno could have and those Monopoly examples I tried later appeared too complicated to play with humans if you own the boardgame plus the computer wasn't the most pleasant opponent. Maybe on a rainy and very lonely day it would have been an option.
But since things have changed, having online options that turned me towards Texas Hold'em for a couple of years more recently and now, having to shelter against COVID-19, a game like Uno appears quite convenient.
A while ago, we tried free copycat versions on Android. Sure, the basic game was there, but neither were house rules nor a good way to find additional human players if needed.
Same goes for the variant on the Clubhouse Games collection for Nintendo Switch. There, Uno is just a game of 51 and you can't expect it to be really refined, I suppose. We often play as two humans and so filling in with two dumb computers doesn't make it great fun.
So, when Uno was on sale for 3,99€ in Nintendo's eShop, we went ahead and grabbed it for our Switches.
There's a tutorial if you didn't know how to win Uno by playing all cards from your hand before anyone else does. Judging from how some novice players act online it should be mandatory anyway to learn what buttons to use in specific situations.
On one Switch, you can play solo or tag team with one compagnon offline against the computer. You could also connect up to 4 Switch devices locally, but then you could also use a physical card deck.
Another good reason to pick an online game is XP you don't collect from playing locally. There's also achievements in online Uno to make it a little more interesting and to impress opponents with a badge next to your Mii avatar, I guess.
You can randomly join a game or lobby as it comes up or create your own lobby with your favourite house rules and DLC theme to invite friends to or have random players join once you make it public. There's also a tag team mode to play online, if you like to.
Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Well, it depends. Actually the house rules cover anything I wish for in Uno. There are also daily rule settings if you can't decide on your own. You can also choose between just one round or points to win a set. The maximum length of 500 points may sound short, but can expand to more than an hour of grueling battles.
I got a winter themed DLC for free, but for the usual, Ubisoft themed (like Rabbits or Rayman) DLC, you'll be asked an admission. The latter will come with a set of extra action cards able to twist and turn your game massively if played at the right moment.
As for now, I don't really like them, especially because the alternative card design is rather confusing. I didn't have to buy any though, as you automatically play those Uno themes when joining another online game with that setting.
However, the achievement system encourages you to use them, as well as it will lead to players seem to make stupid decisions sometimes to fulfill the tasks. Often that will help you though, so nothing to worry about.
What is a bummer, drumroll, is that Ubisofts servers are lagging big time. That's not so much the problem, when it's hard to join a game or you don't find a stranger to play Uno from your lobby within 30 minutes, so if you have friends to play then it will be fine. Mostly. The game will freeze if you let others join or if they lose connection. It also crashes completely every now and then, probably at times people actually want to play.
I must admit though, there was a patch lately and things might have been a tad better since then, but far from flawless.
You can sense from that report I still like to play Uno online, especially as a side activity to listening music for example (the in game music isn't worth mentioning) and of course together with friends to shout at via Discord.
For side activity it would be better if you could start a game from your own lobby without opponents, so you can always play with the Uno rules and theme you like. You can't and so have to lurk around for someone to join far too long most of the time. Once started, if that one guy you needed to start leaves, you will play against three AIs anyway.
Instead, you're forced to rejoin the same game over and over, bothering others who like another set of rules by freezing their Uno game until you found another round more of your taste.
(I don't like to be that guy, so I often sit through a round I don't prefer until I hop on. Others don't.)
Gee, if the Robbins family didn't adapt older rule ideas into such a great card game back in 1969, I probably wouldn't still be playing Uno on the Switch. But it is that excellent foundation, even just half decently turned into an application, that can't be destroyed by poor performance. After all, you've got to be resilient to play Uno anyway, don't you?
I won't go as far as calling it a feature though, no, and I really want you to know what you're getting into unless Ubisoft is able to fix this, but still, Uno is a fun game and who knows when we'll not have to worry about health issues anymore. So I rather have a server crash than my immune system.
But, dear Ubisoft, I've done everything to improve my internet connection so I can play without disturbance and I know, sometimes, there can be technical difficulties, but of course I would prefer to play a game how it was intended, expecting you not to have planned to have those lags and crashes in Uno.
Did I buy discount? Of course, but that doesn't mean support should be cut down. It just means if I had paid more, damn would I be angry anytime I boot an otherwise entertaining program. Rating would be at least 4 stars without the technical problems.

2010

Limbo, at the time of its Windows release around 2012, was one of those titles I had no idea existed, until I played it at a friend's place on PC. Main reason for that was that I really wasn't interested in new games.
My latest device was a GBA for ages and I still managed to find games on old machines to complete, whilst my imagination of modern games was mostly 3D design and overwhelming input with complicated controls and the need to invest loads of time and concentration. And Wii games usually too casual on the other hand.
Though I'm really into old and b/w movies, so having no aversion like many of the younger folks do, the simple but beautiful grey scale design inspired by German Expressionism wasn't what caught my attention in the first place. Actually, because of the title, I had expected a dancing game.
My love with Limbo began, when I was forced to take the pad in hand to play.
It just feels so natural exploring the eerie landscape and dive deeper into physics of a sombre, unknown territory. It's kind of a modern take on the old days, when you put in Pitfall or Jungle Hunt. That have been really crude graphics, but enough to trigger your imagination adding up to adventures larger than life.
The moment you gruesomely die and don't want the nightmare to end is when you realize you're hooked. I guess it must have been when I had to find out how to get past a huge spider that literally pierced me over and over again.
I never finished Limbo that day though and here is where the Nintendo Switch version comes into play. I got introduced to the Switch at the same friend's house, but never got one myself until the OLED version was unleashed. Now looking for games and Limbo being on discount was the ideal moment.
I know things have happened since Limbo's release, like danish programmers Playdead released their follow up Inside. But a great game has to stay at least a good game no matter how much time has passed.
Now, I always liked puzzles and platforming. I guess if you liked to play something as Kwirk or Plok like me, you can understand where Limbo clicks into connection here.
It's not breathless action until maybe the final sections, so what I like is I can usually slow down between tasks and think what I want to do. And even if not, it's very pleasant you can run into it until you pass. The save points are very convenient, so there's usually little to memorize, compared to back in the day, when Jump'n'Runs expected you to learn complete level designs, having you fall back to the start for any lethal mistake.
Old platformers are sometimes awfully short if you look back at them, but with that system it took a while to master them.
But Limbo's being comfortable makes it also appear not too complex. Sure, you've got to take your time to internalize the mechanics, like how to move with a friggin maggot stuck into your head, having an influence on control, but that's part of the learning curve. Next obstacle with a maggot, you have another task to worry about.
Actually, I had to look up information to find out the game is supposed to draw interpretations from the sentence „Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo“. I just checked and it doesn't show up in the game. However, whilst Limbo itself doesn't suffer in quality depending on that knowledge, it would have helped to understand what the ending was about. Not that it really is any more specific than the bestiary and people, live or dead, you meet while manipulating objects or even physics along the way.
Though the ending felt a little underwhelming as a reward, it's the overall experience distinguishing Limbo as the brilliant adventure it is.
Having in mind it started out with just Arnt Jensen and some sketched out ideas in 2004 until he met Dino Patti via internet campaign to then establish Playdead and finance the project, Limbo is a very refined and thought through debut plenty of publishers wish they could offer.
I'm still about to play Inside, but judging from the reviews, Playdead managed to build upon that success.
Even if it will be hard to reverse engineer that initial experience when you already played newer games inspired by Limbo, I'd still highly suggest picking it up anyway.
Compared to titles like Dream Alone whose traps seem just to be designed to piss you off, Limbo has that almost flawless quality to really put you into the zone.
As mentioned above, Limbo really helped me to rebuild trust in the gaming industry. I don't know if it really had that much of an impact, but it was a door opener to find more gems hidden under what appeared to me as a surface of uninteresting next gen titles. Call me an old fart, who doesn't even use added save options, if the original didn't have one, but I've got certain schematics of what I like, represented by Tomb Raider putting an end to platforming games finally back then. I mainly played racing games after that, though GBA was enough of a throwback to pull me in.
I'm actually very happy that I could find entertainment in new titles and mechanics. In the end, there are games like Limbo out there that also got me to enjoy some of the comforts established over the years. So much, that for instance in Point'n'Click adventures, I start to avoid old games with mechanics way too complicated, after games like Strangeland showed me it doesn't have to be that way.
As the revelation Limbo was to me, I should probably give it five stars for the conversion it started.

Raging Justice is another proof there seems to be a niche market recently, big enough to spawn at least two handful of sidescrolling beat'em ups from a more innovative Double Dragon Neon to a more traditional Streets of Rage 4, yet I get the impression not everybody can truly appreciate the simple arcade mechanics of a button smashing brawler.
I suspect it's not even due to the misinterpreted fact a straight forward, genre defining Final Fight was once supposed to interconnect with the Street Fighter series, which is remembered as the more complex fighting game it became, as critics of beat'em up tropes often seem to not even remember how arcade machines used to work. What players call unfair these days was once supposed to steal your quarters - the challenge on the other hand if you can beat swarming enemy waves anyway.
But maybe that's just a discrepancy of generations, just like I'm still having a hard time figuring out the strategic depth of Super Smash Bros. Actually, my nephew still is trying to get me hooked on that, while I'm trying to get him into old school beat'em ups and we're gaining some quality time out of it. It's a bummer though COVID is hindering the full use of Raging Justice's three player couch co-op, whilst at least on Nintendo Switch there seems to be no option for an online team up.
Raging Justice is not very far from what you'd expect from a classic brawler like Final Fight or Streets of Rage, which is a good thing, albeit I've read above mentioned criticism. Of course it looks rather contemporary retro with its glossy esthetics combined with an inconspicuous score, but that is fine by me, as long change doesn't make things significantly worse.
In case of Raging Justice I really welcome the approach to offer obstacles and an online highscore system next to three playable characters and several difficulty levels, inducing the player's return even after the game was beat.
Sadly, that's rather well-meant than well planned, so the extra kick of motivation will rather give reason to those who like to squeeze anything out of those games anyway than the casual player happy to complete Raging Justice at all.
In my opinion mastering the controls is what divides between those casual gamers and aficionados interested enough to return for a second playthrough and begin to enjoy the possibilities a six button design like this offers. Six buttons easily are double the amount usually busy in classic sidescrolling beat'em ups and still, Raging Justice has multiple actions on some.
If you want to survive it's best to get used to roll left and right via the shoulder buttons first. This will help you out of many delicate situations and actually works better than the traditional double tap to the left or right, that's also available.
B is jump, Y is punch, X is kick, but if you pick up a knife for instance with A, you can use it with Y or throw it with X. Also Y and X together is a special attack.
What starts to get confusing in battle frenzy is that A can additionally be clinging an opponent as well as cuffing when he or she is stunned.
Depending on how advanced you are, you probably will master coordination sooner or later before your first completion. But I didn't enjoy Raging Justice as much before my second attempt from the start. So I'd highly suggest to not just see it as repetitive in enemy design with some use of weapons and vehicles for a good hour of simple entertainment. Raging Justice is already superior to quite some old arcade machines at that point. But being able to think about set goals like collected money or number of arrest with your developed skills from the beginning is where score and fun starts.
Of course, it's still an arcade style game that's not making full use of possible career type roleplay options or the creation of a revolutionary open world brawler, but for what it is, I think Raging Justice is a nice addition to any sidescrolling beat'em up collection, considering it's possibly available on discount every now and then. To me, it has enough replay value even though I'm still ignoring the extra brawl mode to reach highscores in individual scenes.
If I'd have to address something, it's the environment and characters being very obvious for the genre. MakinGames are playing it safe by repeating the classic genre design elements everybody is reusing these days. Sure, arrests are not going to work in sword & sorcery, but would have with cops like in the Lethal Weapon movies for instance.
A nice modernisation could be getting rid of the textboxes that slow down the action if you don't intuitively click them away. A better use of integrated cut scenes and voice acting could be a more pleasant experience if they wanted to establish a story.
Maybe using the experience of creating a stable brawler that's rather confusing your eyes than becoming jerky with average to massive waves of opponent attacks is what lies in the future for Raging Justice's programmers. At least I'm willing to spend well earned money for another more creative take on the genre than they already did and I admit, I am hungry for another Golden Axe or Knights of the Round a lot more than for just another street fighting beat'em up.
On the other hand, Raging Justice is a fresh yet old school enough take on the genre to me right now, so if you're up for that, why not giving it a chance, too? I'm just booting it on my Nintendo Switch for another round at this instant.

If you played the shite out of it or didn't, if you belong to the Game Boy generation, Tetris is probably your OG definition of puzzle games. Back then, it was packaged with the device, so everybody had it and often it was the only mandatory double available to use the link cable, good old times. Also the best marketing campaign for the best Soviet game (programmed by Alexei Paschitnow in 1984) known to me.
Tetris has a vivid history well documented, so I suggest watching a video or read up the reasons for the game's many versions of different quality. Though usually playing Tetris in other environments like Tetris 99 or Puyo Puyo Tetris today, I have lots of nostalgia for the Game Boy Version I remember to be superior to any other, especially the NES one that was available to me at a friend's place back then.
Now, you can add colour to it, pretty pictures and a story, but just like other puzzle games (Columns, that I sadly couldn't appreciate back in the day, Puyo Puyo, Dr. Mario or Panel de Pon) it's the very core game that has to be working so smoothly you'll be returning to beat a highscore for weeks, months or even years every other day.
A few simple shapes, seven different tetrominos, and the task to clear rows before you build up to the top is what get's your pulse rate rising in Tetris and it's really not more that I need to have fun for ages. Despite enjoying the game in competitive situations with other human players my classic mode is the marathon, having the opportunity to drift away into the zone on the wings of a brilliant score nicked from classical/folkloresque phrases.
Compared to especially the clones, Tetris in its Game Boy incarnation has some very precise controls only contributing to Tetrismania of its day. Heck, even my mum played it over and over, so it's probably legit calling Tetris the mother of casual games. It might at least have had the same kind of success the Wii had. After it went viral, Tetris alone sold the platform like Wii Sports and you could spot hipster managers playing on almost any train.
Please keep in mind the Game Boy was technically inferior to the Game Gear or Lynx, though its battery lifetime, measurements and gameplay lead to its success as one of the most sold consoles. Yet, when you look at the games, there's just few having the same flawless quality that Tetris has. That's what I call impact.