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WELCOME TO SWITCH PLAYER April may have been a slightly quieter period for big-name Switch releases, but that doesn't mean we haven't had things to get excited about here at Switch Player. This is our fortieth issue, so we're ringing it in with a look at the 40 best games to have graced the Switch so far. We ended up with a huge range of genres and styles in our definitive list, and you can check out a preview of that coverage from page 8. Make sure to pick up the full issue to see what took the top spot! On a more personal note, this will be my last introduction for Switch Player; from next issue we'll be seeing some staff changes and I'll be
Rune Factory 4 Special Review
Top 40 Switch Games
moving to Features Editor in place of Shaun Hughes, who is moving on from the team after his tireless work handling our features. Oliver Roderick will be heading up our game and review coverage as Games Editor, and Paul Murphy will be resuming the role of Editor-in-Chief. Of course, we're all excited to keep bringing you the same great coverage we always have (and maybe some new surprises, tooâ€Ś). Thanks for your continued support, stay safe, and as always, enjoy the read! Renate Plehwe, Editor-in-Chief
Mario Kart Through Our Ages 6
RUNE FACTORY 4 SPECIAL Can you polish an old rune?
Reviewed by Chelsea Beardsmore
Originally released back in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS, Rune Factory 4 makes its way on the Nintendo Switch with Rune Factory 4 Special – it’s bigger and better with brand new game modes, new cutscenes, beautiful illustrations and even an updated opening sequence. Spoiler – this is special.
has their own personality with their own likes and dislikes. Learning these likes and dislikes can be vital to building upon those relationships and eventually getting married – unlocking the ability to play the brand new Newlyweds Mode. Newlyweds Mode unlocks a new scenario involving you and your chosen partner.
Rune Factory 4 Special begins with your Prince or Princess onboard a cargo ship en route to Selphia, the town famous for its God. You are on your way to deliver a gift to that God. We don’t know what that gift is, but we know it’s pretty important. As is the way with most JRPGs, nothing goes as planned and some pesky bandits board the ship, knocking us off of it (falling to our supposed death) and ultimately, sending the gift overboard with us. Luckily, we land safely in Selphia. Unluckily, we wake up with a pretty bad case of amnesia, forgetting who we are or what our purpose is.
There are a lot of things to be keeping busy within the game but many of these things can feel unnecessary – take farming for example. It’s a nice addition to the game, but if you don’t do it there is no real punishment. For something that Rune Factory 4 Special makes out to be a chore, there should be a downside for not doing it.
The opening is fairly long-winded with the game introducing you to all its characters and mechanics, seeing you experience very little gameplay and a lot of narrative during the first hour. After that though, you’re pretty free to roam and do as you please: completing requests, farming crops, cooking, looking after monsters, fishing, crafting equipment, rearranging your room, making friends – you name it, it’s here.
There are a lot of things to be keeping busy within the game. My favourite part about Rune Factory 4 Special was interacting with all the characters and building relationships with them. Each character
Combat in the game is simple but fun – there is one button for your attacks which makes combat pretty easy. It would’ve been nice to have some other attacks but it’s not too much of an issue. There are a lot of monsters to discover and numerous weapons to use adding some variety to the combat. What’s better is you can ‘friend’ monsters (if you offer them the right gift) and have them fight with you and travel with you. Sometimes I found more joy in friending the monsters than I did the people… For an added bonus you can even ride certain monsters around the map, which I loved. Rune Factory 4 Special’s soundtrack is wonderful and where the game shines the most. It’s packed full of both emotional and jolly tunes that will keep your head nodding throughout the majority of your playthrough. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the game’s graphics. They haven’t aged very well and look a lot older than they actually are. The new cutscenes look stunning and the character illustrations within the dialogue interludes are a pleasure to look at, I just wish the whole game had been given this revamp. SUMMARY: Rune Factory 4 Special seems to be a jack of all genres but a master of none. It’s a fun game with a lot of interesting features, I only wish that the beautiful illustrations of the characters would’ve been portrayed in the gameplay itself.
Dev: Marvelous; Pub: Marvelous; Date: 25 Feb 2020; Price: £32.99 €39.99; Size: 5.2GB Switch Player | 5
Written by Sam Davenport
Some traditions never change. The game my older brother and I bonded over on our Nintendo GameCube in Willow, Alaska, still brings us together 15 years later — despite living over 3,000 miles apart. Before my brother and I were battling it out on the 'Cube in the early 2000s, children — and fun adults — around the world had been tossing bananas and blue shells since 1992, when Super Mario Kart, the first iteration of the iconic series, was released on the SNES. James got his GameCube at a garage sale, already equipped with games from a fellow child with good taste. Super Smash Bros. Melee, Luigi’s Mansion, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Star Fox: Assault were just some of the games I remember watching him play, but what made me fight him for the controller was Mario Kart: Double Dash. We grew up in a small town of 2,000 people tops. It was a decent drive from a city with traffic lights and a grocery store, and in the wintertime, it was always at least 10 degrees colder than the surrounding areas. Many of our winter months were consumed with button-mashing and dropping fake items for the other to come across. We had played Mario Kart 64, the third installment of the series, with friends and family in the past, but had never had our own console — let alone our own games. Nintendo had taken their sweet time with Double Dash’s release, too — the seven-year gap between iterations made some fans angsty. But, it was worth the wait — Double Dash was second only to Super Smash Bros. Melee
6 | Feature
as the best-selling game on the GameCube of all time, with over 7 million copies sold worldwide. Double Dash was such an integral part of my childhood. It is still the only Mario Kart game where you could choose two characters — one drove while the other dropped items. Back then, there were only four cups you could choose from: Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special. Even though that number has since doubled, we didn’t mind considering it was our first console. If anything, we became masters on well-known tracks like Peach Beach, Waluigi Stadium and DK Mountain. Hours were played as a Yoshi-Birdo duo — or ToadToadette if you were my brother. Each character had their own special items, too. Yoshi and Birdo threw eggs, while Toad and Toadette had golden mushrooms. And while they weren't my go-to characters, Petey Piranha and King Boo deserve an honorable mention solely for their ability to use any other character’s items besides Luigi and Birdo’s. I must have been 10 or 11 years old when my grandparents gifted me a Nintendo Wii for my birthday. I had no clue what it was, but I remember James being particularly excited. With that, the tradition continued with a new console. In comparison to past iterations of the game, Mario Kart Wii had been elevated. It had the largest roster of any game in the collection until Mario Kart 8’s release in 2014, which was so enticing to me as a child. Having the option to pick Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy was the equivalent of two worlds colliding.
While I dabbled with other characters, I still stuck with my tried and true Yoshi while my brother continued on with Toad. We were better this time around than when we were playing on our iconic purple controllers. James was obsessed with getting every reboot and making fast runs, while I would strategically throw green shells before finishing the last lap. And don’t even get me started on the Wii Wheel, something that was a total game-changer. That piece of plastic brought the game to life with the ability to physically move a steering wheel for your animated car. Still, Nintendo maintained the perfect balance of futuristic and nostalgic with the option to use the GameCube controller. The bar was set so high with Mario Kart Wii — and for good reason. Not only does it hold the honour of being the best-selling Mario game on Wii, but it’s also the best-selling racing video game of all time with over 37 million copies sold worldwide as of last September. Mario Kart 8, relaced on the Wii U, felt like the most complete release yet in the series, but that was before Mario Kart 8 Deluxe arrived on Switch. The latter game brought back some of the Double Dash
mechanics including the double item box, as well as all the racers of the series so far. A new engine class had masters of the game racing at a superfast 200cc. With all that in mind, it's no wonder that, like other entries in the series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling game on Switch. Only time will tell where the series goes from this masterpiece - my brother and I would love to see virtual reality Mario Kart, or two-person karts return once again. A lot has changed since Double Dash was released. My brother and I both graduated high school and college; James now lives in Colorado while I’m in Anchorage — the biggest city in Alaska. But some things stay the same. On the weekends, James and I will FaceTime one another while racing for additional play-by-play smack talk. It’s a nice way to catch up while keeping that sibling rivalry alive, all the while transporting my 23-year-old self back to my brother’s room. While both of us maintained our competitive spirits over the years, playing Mario Kart has become bonding time more than anything. Winning doesn’t matter — it’s just about the journey to the finish line and the shells you dodge along the way.
Switch Player | 7
TOP SWITCH 40 GAMES
And just like that, the Switch was three. With more than 50 million consoles shifted and a potential software list comprised of more than 3500 titles, the Switch’s library could be a difficult environment to navigate. We should know – asking the team for their best experiences returned 306 different nominations! Because we’ve reached 40 issues now, we thought we would make another list for you and provide a definitive (according to us) list of the best 40 games you can buy on the Switch. After a new game? You are bound to enjoy these… Words by: Oliver Barsby, Chelsea Beardsmore, Lachlan Bruce, Ben Bulbeck, Victoria Ellis, Steven Green, Benjamin Hayhoe, Shaun Hughes, Ethan Hunt, Paul Murphy, Stevie Patmore, Aaron Potter, Renate Plehwe and James Sweeting
8 | Top 40
THE BINDING OF ISAAC: AFTERBIRTH+ The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is an expansion of an expansion of a remake of a cult classic. Not for the faint of heart (or stomach), it challenges you with its strict difficulty, unforgiving randomness, and adult themes aplenty. You'll struggle to find a rogue-lite with a wider variety of items, enemies and secrets than this . It may have barely scraped its way into our top 40, much like how we scrape our way through its myriad of possible encounters, but we highly recommend this for anyone that loves a challenge.
THE MESSENGER A fast-paced, nostalgic platformer inspired by golden era greats such as Castlevania, Super Metroid and, of course, Ninja Gaiden, The Messenger takes the components that make those games so great, and modernises them with new mechanics, resulting in moment-to-moment gameplay that is more satisfying and fluid than ever before. Shifting forwards and backwards in time on-the-fly between 8-bit and 16-bit aesthetics, there are plenty of inventive puzzles and platforming challenges that keep this one fresh and unique, despite its clear connections to the formative classics of yesteryear. If youâ€™re into 2D platformers, youâ€™ll almost certainly have fun with it.
A global gaming phenomenon that transcends platforms, it's no surprise that Fortnite grabs a spot on our list. The Battle Royale game mode is endlessly fun and easy to jump into - simple to learn yet difficult to master - and with Epic Games doing a great job with the optimisation, the performance doesn't suffer on Switch. After an initial hiccup with crossplay thanks to Sony not playing nicely, you can now play across all gaming systems, meaning you can squad up with your friends no matter how they prefer to play. Better still, it's absolutely free to jump in!
FORTNITE Switch Player | 9
DARK SOULS: REMASTERED Dark Souls is a series that has garnered more accolades than most have even dreamed of. With a hardcore fanbase and some of the deepest lore you can find in video games, it is no surprise to see the remaster of the original find its way onto this list. A masterful port job from the guys and gals of Virtuous has resulted in this title being possible on our favourite little hybrid where we can “git gud” and Prepare to Die on the go! Here’s to hoping the sequels eventually find their way to this Nintendo platform as well.
MY TIME AT PORTIA Riddled with problems at launch, My Time at Portia was a game full of promise that failed to deliver due to a variety of performance issues. Pathea Games and Team17 persevered, and what we have now is a delightful role-playing simulation game that sees you embark on a new life in Portia. It’s still not without fault, but it combines a number of ideas from many much-loved franchises and presents them in a way that is perfect for the Nintendo Switch. It may not be the complete package that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is, but there is a lot here to love, and love it we do.
THE GARDENS BETWEEN.
10 | Top 40
From Australian developers The Voxel Agents, The Gardens Between is a masterclass in visual storytelling. It’s one of those games that feels more at home on the Nintendo Switch than it would anywhere else, thanks in part to the cosy narrative which just feels more personal when you’re playing handheld. With its unique timemanipulation mechanic, memorable art direction, and atmospheric soundtrack, the experience feels fresh and original, standing tall among the Nintendo Switch’s indie offerings. It’s an excellent choice for a rainy, reflective afternoon, and the game is well-deserving of a place in the Switch Player top 40.
Despite what they tell you repeatedly in their eponymous song, there are better parties than an S Club one, and Super Mario Party certainly fits the bill. Arguably the best Mario Party game for years, this title (the 11th in the series) features minigames galore with more than 80 to play across multiple boards. With different modes, loads of unlockable content and tons of replayability, it’s hard not to have a good time here. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it’s a tremendous amount of fun, and that’s very much welcome.
SUPER MARIO PARTY
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games that has made its way to every console at this point, with the developers even making an Amazon Alexa version to continue that joke. Regardless, we were ecstatic to have it come to the Nintendo Switch in its launch year, as it began a partnership with Bethesda that has continued with releases of Wolfenstein, DOOM, and more coming down the pipeline with The Elder Scrolls: Blades scheduled for a 2020 release. As one of the most beloved RPGs of all time, it is no surprise that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim made our list.
SONIC MANIA The Sonic series has had its share of ups and downs, with more downs than ups in the last decade. One of the highest points for the series though is definitely Sonic Mania. It manages to capture all the magic of the original 2D games, and succeeds in playing like you remember the originals rather than emulating how they actually feel. Not only is Sonic Mania one of the best Sonic games of all time, it also has one of the best soundtracks of any game currently on the Switch. A must-have for any fan of 2D platforming.
Switch Player | 11
ISSUE #41 out 15.06.20
This FREE sample of Switch Player Magazine 40 features some the content from the full issue, including the beginning of our Top 40 countdown...
Published on May 15, 2020
This FREE sample of Switch Player Magazine 40 features some the content from the full issue, including the beginning of our Top 40 countdown...