An endearing combination of influences from art and science makes The Bridge a valuable addition to the Nintendo Switch library, especially if you've never played it before. Sometimes bogged down by showing off its aesthetic strengths at the sacrifice of fully exploring the puzzle ideas and mechanics, The Bridge does suffer slightly due to slow controls and a story/ character that deserves a little more nuance to back up its ambitious and academic influences. What it does do, however, is reward players' patience, calculation and observation with moments that rival some of the best in the genre. A genuinely interesting and challenging experience that, despite a few small flaws, will stretch mental as well as physical muscles.
A deceptively simple idea that can become laboured and bewildering as well as oddly compelling, Kingdom: New Lands is certainly a curious take on the strategy genre. Its ambiguous, incredibly minimalistic nature will initially intrigue and could easily frustrate in equal measure. Fans of roguelikes or tower defence-style games may prefer more complexity, as the simple mechanics give you control over choices rather than actions and rely on astute observation and perseverance, rather than on skill or improvisation. There is a balance to learn and a set of rules to be discovered, but even with the admittedly gorgeous aesthetic - and progressing beyond the initial stages to where the dilemma of ambition over security ramps up - it may still not be enough of a pay off to reward your time. Definitely one to consider, albeit carefully.
The overall presentation is a futuristic pixel art masterpiece, while the synth techno soundtrack is varied, tense, moody and constantly thrilling. Failing however regularly never becomes dull and whether roguelikes, lites or procedurally generated games float your proverbial boat, NeuroVoider has charm, addictive and explosive gameplay with a vibrant cyborg chic aesthetic. Despite ticking a lot of popular genre boxes, it manages to dig its mechanical feet in on its own merits due to frantic action, satisfyingly tight controls and a wide range of customisation through parts and weapons.While the idea of a roguelike RPG shooter might sound like a bit of a mish mash, NeuroVoider is an immensely enjoyable experience if you want to invest time in the customisation or just go in arcade style, all plasma cannons and laser beams blazing.
To the uninitiated, it may kill an adequate amount of time due to its familiarity and the Nintendo Switch's local multiplayer-focused hardware, but any redemption 2048 has over its predecessor in terms of actual fun is eradicated due to the general production values and quality of its presentation. While the derivative tile puzzle gameplay is solid if unspectacular, dragging and dropping all of the avatars, skins and menus across from SPEED gives a good idea of the quality on offer in presentation. The merits of the Switch hardware with this format also can't rectify the lack of modes, slapdash interface or general lack of imagination on display - a disappointing title all around.
Despite the requirement to have an Internet connection to experience 4 of the 5 games, The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is just as strong as its prequel. The same zany presentation and innovative use of smart devices, it's another ideal party starter. Which set you choose (if you only choose one) will likely come down to whether you prefer trivia, improvisation or cooperative-based games, but overall this second pack is a solid set that will provide a lot of laughs and collective fun.
PAN-PAN is a lovely little game to get sucked into - oozing with charm and a handful of quirky characters to meet along the way. There's admittedly little replay value other than to re-explore the lush planet and solve the puzzles in a quicker, smoother manner, and while the environmental puzzles might range from frustratingly obtuse to organically wonderful, the planet rewards your time and exploration. Once the credits roll and after everything you've achieved, it will be almost impossible not to reflect positively on your short but sweet journey.
Even if you're not a 2D 'shmup' veteran, or are looking for something a little off the beaten, sidescrolling track, there is plenty to enjoy here - we have tight controls, plenty of unique monstrous bosses to defeat and exploration of a broken but beautiful submerged world. While it lacks a few options, has occasional boss fight difficulty spikes and is not the relentless action that some genre fans prefer, Earth Atlantis has enough old school shoot 'em up substance to back up its glorious and organic style.
If you need a 2D platforming fix you can't go far wrong with Pankapu. While the polished, crisp, beautiful presentation and gameplay are engaging enough, it is nevertheless slightly let down by a few elements that affect the beat by beat and overall flow of the game. The charming characters and parallel narrative are intriguing, and while the resonant themes, fantastical atmosphere and wonderful locales enchant and are especially vibrant on a big screen, the controls aren't quite tight or precise enough considering the challenging level design an enemy combat. An enjoyable game, if not quite as strong as it could have been.
When all is said and done, when the glow of the stylish aesthetic and the intrigue of the Cyberpunk Orwellian narrative have fizzled out, Neon Chrome emerges as an average, sometimes fun but more often than not generic twin-stick rogue-like with a Sci-Fi coat of paint; it rarely lives up to its explosive promise or explores its thematic potential in any meaningful way. It could be argued that the genre is solely about the mechanics, but with a neglected back story failing to compliment the reasonable if hardly revolutionary gameplay, it's difficult not to feel a little flat about the experience on offer.
However you end up playing Ninja Shodown, it's unlikely that it will hold attention for more than a handful of rounds. The core mechanics are solid, the action is relatively fast and fun - especially in four player mode on a big screen - and it can be rather entertaining. However, the difficulty spikes and lack of depth in single player, coupled with the lack of modes, no online and minimal options in multiplayer, ultimately make the game little more than a brief but fun time filler. It's becoming more and more apparent that party games like this need more meat on the proverbial bone to stand out, and in this respect Ninja Shodown struggles to make its mark.