04th Jan2021

Top 5: Switch Games of 2020

by Phil Wheat

As is obligatory for the start of a new year, it’s time to look back at the sh*t-show that was last year and pick out our highlights of the year… First up, Phil’s Top 5 Nintendo Switch games of 2020.


Honestly, Let’s Sing 2021 isn’t much of a change from last years iteration but when that game was without a doubt THE best karaoke game ever made. RavensCourt and Voxler know what works and they’ve stuck to the winning formula… It seems that, at least for now, there’s no way to improve on perfection (which the last game was), merely the ability to tweak things slightly for a smoother experience. If you like these kinds of karaoke games (like I really, REALLY, do) you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of Let’s Sing 2021 now.


Debuting a little too close to the release of Streets of Rage 4, The Takeover seems to have been overshadowed by the bigger-named franchise in the mainstream popularity stakes. However this side-scrolling beat ’em-up is just as worthy of your time and money as the popular Sega sequel. It truly is. In fact if we didn’t get Streets of Rage 4, this would’ve been called the “spiritual successor” to that franchise. That’s how much this game looks, feels and plays like Streets of Rage; and for fans of this type of side-scrolling beat ’em-up that’s NOT a bad thing. Yet there is one thing that differentiates The Takeover from Streets of Rage 4 however… The Takeover is a damn sight harder. In fact I’d say playing The Takeover on easy is equivalent to playing Streets of Rage 4 on hard! With badass graphics – a combination of animated cut scenes and faux-3D graphics rather than pixel-perfect sprites (which is something I can appreciate) and a soundtrack that includes work by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro, The Takeover is a worthy companion, nay successor, to the Streets of Rage franchise.


Programmed by Digital Illusions (aka DICE) all the way back in 1994 for release on the Sega MegaDrive and Commodore Amiga, THE 16-bit giants in the UK, Ultracore was sadly cancelled by publisher Psygnosis who, it seems, feared the game would be outdated in a time when 32-bit gaming was very much on the horizon. Originally title Hardcore, the games code apparently sat languishing on the devs hard drive until it was rediscovered and revitalised for the current market last year; and only now getting ported to Switch, PS4 and Vita. Given its history it’s clear to see where Ultracore‘s inspiration lies. In a generation of games that gave us James Pond 2: Robocod, Flashback/Another World, Gods and – more importantly – Turrican, Ultracore would have fit in perfectly. The mix of puzzles (key collecting, tripping switches and finding secret pathways) and side-scrolling shoot ’em-up is a wonderful nod to games of old. But then if a game WAS from that era, ported to this… can we still say it has captured the feel of the 16-but generation to a tee? I think we can. Especially given that the devs of Ultracore could have easily tweaked the game to fit more modern gaming. But then why mess with perfection?


In terms of gameplay, Samurai Shodown feels – at least to someone whose played the series mainly on the PS2 ports rather than the original NeoGeo releases (I didn’t, and still don’t, have that kind of cash!) – perfect. There’s a real pick-up-and-play aspect to the game that will appeal to newcomers yet, like the SNK games of old, the ideas easy to understand but complex to master controls and balanced fighting mechanics are very much still a part of this game. You can wade in, fingers first if you will, mashing buttons in the hopes of defeating your enemies and that works… for a while. But then the game will throw someone at you that blocks all those moves, attacks you with powerful combos and – if you don’t know what you’re doing – defeats you easily. But for those that study your characters moveset, get used to their combos, blocks, and all the different types of attacks they can do, you’ll certainly be rewarded. There is real satisfaction in Samurai Shodown in learning how best to beat your opponents, besting them in the swiftest and easiest way possible. Something which has not always be prevalent in other entries in the franchise. With plenty of modes to get your teeth into: practice, story, online, versus, gauntlet, survival, time trial and more, you really do get your monies worth with Samurai Shodown. If you’re a fan of fighting games or an SNK fan-boy like me then this is a must-buy.


What do you get if you mix mini golf with the old Micro Machines videogames? House of Golf that’s what! An arcade style sports game with full 3D graphics, physics and easy pick-up and-play game mechanics, House of Golf sees players face fun and challenging holes across a variety of home based locations. Sounds simple right? Well it’s not, as you progress through the game, holes become more devious and challenging and getting par or under par becomes more and more unlikely. Made by Liverpool based indie studio Atomicom, exclusively for Nintendo Switch, House of Golf is very much an old-school game. As I said in the opening, it reminded me a lot of the classic Micro machine games – the house-setting capturing the same bright cheerful fun and providing a fantastic backdrop for what is – honestly – a dull sport. Come on, golf? It’s dull. Admit it. Yes, mini golf, adventure golf, etc., can provide a little more entertainment than traditional golfing but it’s still golf. And a golfing videogame? I’ve never seen the appeal. Not even back in the days of Mario Golf or in more modern fare such as Carnival Games: Mini Golf! However Atomicon have created something special here. You know how I know that? Because House of Golf makes a dull “sport” fun. A LOT of fun.


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