Every month you can watch reviews and read our thoughts on the games we've been playing, old and new. This month we have two video reviews and a lot of little bits and pieces for you to read.
Captain Toad Review
Captain Toad is back on the Switch in a series of wee puzzly platforming challenges where the wee guy has to dodge baddies and grab stars without being able to jump. I wonder if it’s because of his big back pack or if he’s just a lazy wee bugger...
Captain Toad on Switch is delightful; a package of wonderful loveliness wrapped up in the solid professional finish Nintendo is famous for. It looks great too, with some properly gorgeous visuals, especially when the bosses come along to fill the screen.
Mostly though, it’s just fun to play; each charming, bite-size level tests out new gameplay ideas that never outstay their welcome before the next one comes along and does something different.
It’s one of those games where every time I play it, what starts off as a quick five minute shot ends up being an hours-long session where I’ve stayed up past my bedtime because I just had to play one more level.
Each level is a tiny platform game microcosm/puzzlebox. You rotate the camera to expose wee nooks and crannies, and try to work out how to get Captain Toad to the star at the end, picking up coins and diamonds along the way.
There are switches and gimmicks in every level to keep things fresh, and some classic mario power-ups return too; the highlight is probably using the double cherry and trying to keep multiple Toads alive.
Why is it so "un-put-downable?" Here’s the secret.
Actually, the secret is lots of little secrets.
Every level has a star and three diamonds to find, but there’s also a secret second objective to do; sometimes it’s finding a secret goodie, or it might be a challenge to finish the level without touching any baddies, or maybe you have to kill all the baddies. You never know until you finish a level for the first time. And then after that there’s also a hidden bit of graffiti to find, if you want to.
And then after that there are random coin challenges that give you short bursts of intense ten-second bouts of coin-collecting madness.
There’s just a sheer variety to the challenges on offer too. Tricky platforming makes way to pachinko machines, sliding block puzzles and even full-on Metal Gear Solid style stealth levels that make me wish for a crossover game where Snake has to sneak past a bunch of shy guys in Shadow Moses.
There is a slight problem though: I just don’t see myself going back to Captain Toad now that it’s done. It’s not like a sprawling Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild, where just existing and running around in the world is fun in its own right. It’s not like a racing game or a shmup, where going back and improving your skills is half the fun. It’s stuffed with things to find, yes, but once you’ve found them, it’s kind of done.
Also, as a Wii U re-release, it’s pretty obvious that the Switch isn’t the ideal platform for Captain Toad. Instead of touch screen controls for interacting with moving blocks and other gimmicks, there’s an awkward pointer on the screen at all times, at least when you play on the TV.
A solution to both these problems is in two player mode, where you each take a joy con and tackle levels together. One of you goes the cap, and the other rotates the camera and focuses solely on the pointer. It works very well and after playing for twenty minutes with my younger cousin, he then told me that “Captain Toad is the best”
So there you go. Captain Toad is the best.
There’s nothing else I need to say.
The Lion's Song Review
When was the last time you couldn’t put a game down? Like, you just had to play it all the way through in one sitting, devouring it like a hungry dog eating a delicious Scotch egg. It’s not an experience I’ve often encountered, but The Lion’s Song is worthy of your time and all of your attention.
Split across four episodes, The Lion’s Song is about the creative process and the struggle people have trying to realise their potential. That’s all I’m going to say about the stories in the episodes though, because I want you to discover it all for yourself.
What I will say, is that each story revels in discovery and the hunt for inspiration.
The setting, pre-World War 1 Vienna, and the attention to detail are both touching and absorbing.
The game itself plays like a classic point-and-click adventure. Although the setting of the first episode feels very different to the following episodes, don’t worry if that part feels a little restrictive. When the game opens up, you get a charming little map of Vienna, with a few beautiful and pleasant locations that feature across different parts of the episodes.
The sepia tones perfectly match the setting as well and honestly, I really can’t help but gush over every aspect of the game.
Did I mention that the music is so emotive and stirring that while playing I had to occasionally pause the game to have a big look outside? Well, I did.
It’s a precious thing, to encounter a series of stories that resonate so much, so avoid reading too much about the game, if you can. Once you complete each episode, you can review your major decisions and go back in and change the story, remixing and composing whole new scenarios.
I’m going to keep this short, because every minute you’re not playing The Lion’s Song is a waste. I mean that, I sincerely do. You owe it to yourself; make the time, free up an afternoon and experience something wonderful.
Yeah yeah. I wrote about Tekken 7 back in Issue One, but this weekend Scott and I had a mammoth Tekken 7 session with our best pals and, let me tell you, it was amazing. Those slo-mo knife-edge finishes are almost enough to dethrone Dead or Alive 5 as our goto fighting game.
Hitman Sniper Assassin
A wee downloadable treat before the main event, Hitman Season 2, graces our consoles. It's a lovely wee arcade style challenge where you have a few targets to kill as efficiently as possible. Wasted shots alarm your targets and make them scarper, failing the mission instantly. But why do we have to sign terms and conditions before being allowed to play it?
Ace Combat 4
I cannae wait for Ace Combat 7, but a recent twitter hashtag reminded me of the amazing soundtrack in Ace Combat 4, so I had to crack out the PS2 and have a shot. That first level is just breathtaking, and it's still a gorgeous looking game. Favourite thing to do: fly as low as possible and skim along the surface of the sea.