The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was a technical marvel when it first arrived on the scene back in 1993. Easily one of the great Game Boy releases, it was a first bash at a handheld Zelda that took the formula as perfected by A Link to the Past, jammed it all onto a tiny portable console and, somehow, managed to make it all work while adding a host of new features and concepts to the mix. This beautiful Switch remake rebuilds all of this from the ground up in fine style. It adds modern conveniences, a dungeon creator, amiibo support and lots of little quality of life improvements whilst infusing every single square inch of Koholint – every secret passage, Piranha, Pokey and Pig Warrior – with a level of detail and depth that reinvigorates both its timeless story and classic Zelda gameplay for a whole new generation of gamers.
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Luigi’s Mansion 3 is not only a graphical powerhouse and showcase for Next Level Games’ unrivalled mastery of video game animation, it’s also an immense helping of spooky fun as well. The amount of care and consideration poured into every facet of the game is abundantly clear, and it all results in one of the most enjoyable and attractive Switch titles of the year. It's also the undisputed high point of a franchise that deserves love and attention from Nintendo fandom, and the gaming community as a whole.
Nintendo's latest entry in the fitness games genre succeeds in properly gamifying exercise where Wii Fit never quite hit the mark. If you're a gym addict you probably shouldn't throw out your membership card just yet, but for everyone else looking to get fitter, Ring Fit Adventure is a fantastic way to do it that won't bore you senseless. Play it properly and you'll definitely feel it the next morning – a sure sign that it's at least doing you some good – while the compelling adventure mode with its RPG elements ensures that you'll keep coming back for more.
Pokémon Sword and Shield succeed in bringing some new ideas to the table, although there are areas where it could be pushed further. It's an experience full of highs and lows, from the unadulterated wonder and joy of seeing a brand-new Pokémon in a stadium full of cheering crowds, to the monotonous and dragged-out dialogue we just wanted to skip. The wonders of exploring the Wild Area feel like the true evolution of the series — and hinted at the type of freedom that would later arrive in Pokémon Legends: Arceus (more of which later). On the whole, Pokémon Sword and Shield were a very solid start to the HD generation of Pokémon games.
Mario Tennis Aces is the latest entry in the sports franchise that marks a glorious return of the single-player campaign. This time around it's more of an adventure though, with minigames and boss battles splitting up the matches. There's also plenty of room for multiplayer – both local and online – and you can even play with the Joy-Con's gyroscope just like in the Wii Sports days.
Good Job! was a wonderful surprise that everyone should try out. Thanks to its hilarious physics, seemingly menial tasks have the potential to descend into utter carnage – whether intentional or not – and its grading system means there are plenty of opportunities to replay. Slight technical hiccups aside, Good Job! is absolutely guaranteed to have you in fits of laughter.
Paper Mario: The Origami King tries to do something different with its combat system and, to be honest, we weren't feeling it. That doesn't mean the rest of the game isn't thoroughly entertaining, however, and while the puzzle-based battles aren't quite what a new Paper Mario game needed, they aren't so awful that everything else shouldn't be experienced as a result. It still isn't the new Thousand-Year Door fans will have been hoping for, but it's still one of the funniest games in the series and it's got a truly likeable companion character, and while the combat is far from ideal the fact that we still thoroughly recommend the game regardless speaks volumes about every other aspect of it.
Exclusives? Okay, we're stretching the definition a tad here seeing as this is a compilation release of three games that have appeared elsewhere before, but this compilation is definitely exclusive. These Mario classics have never looked better or been more convenient to play on official hardware than on Switch, either, although there's a complication: this triple pack was only available on Switch until 31st March 2021, so you'll have to rely on the secondhand market if you want to get hold of a copy now.
We had an absolute blast playing through these three gems all over again, especially now they look sharper than ever. It’s a shame that the presentation is practically barebones with no bonus content beyond the soundtracks, but there can still be no denying the quality of the games on offer here. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is The Beatles’ Greatest Hits of the video game world, and is an absolute treat whether you’re reliving it in HD or discovering it for the first time.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a startlingly authentic "mixed reality" recreation of Nintendo's most popular racing series which encourages you to be inventive with your course designs and does an excellent job of combining your real-world surroundings with the fantasy environments of the Mushroom Kingdom; add in a second player (or three, or four) and it becomes even more compelling. The tech side of things is undeniably impressive and it's impossible to not raise a smile the first time you play; the question is how long that magic will last, especially if your home limits your track designs and you've only got the budget to cover the cost of a single car.
Approached with the knowledge that this is a full-featured side-dish, you'll have a very good time hacking and slashing your way through Calamity Ganon's minions in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; just remember that despite its sparkling presentation, it is still not a Zelda game. What it is is a brilliant Zelda-infused Musou experience filled with varied and satisfying combat and Breath of the Wild additions that work beautifully within the boundaries of the Warriors template. The care and attention given to detail here is hugely impressive. We found performance to be adequate and, crucially, it didn't affect our enjoyment throughout — just be prepared for a slideshow once the pyrotechnics start in two-player co-op. Regardless of framerate, though, there's definite catharsis in grabbing the Master Sword, sprinting out there and giving all the prowling nasties a sound thrashing.