Back when I wrote my Quarantine Quickies column two months ago regarding some manga I was reading, I was expecting our recent pandemic to be lessening. Alas, it seems that we’re still getting holed in for the time being, Switch in hand (among other consoles and handhelds). That said, it’s the perfect time to pick up some games and just chill out while we all ride out this virus. I’ve chosen four titles that I’ve been playing for a while in the past few weeks, and recommend them all wholeheartedly!
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
Nintendo’s been killing it with their first-party titles since March. From the juggernaut that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons to Xenoblade Chronicles Remastered to even the free minigame Jump Rope Challenge, there was something for everyone. However, I think the Switch game I enjoyed most during this quarantine was Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics.
A sequel of the original DS title, 51 Worldwide Classics (though it actually has an extra piano) includes a host of simple yet addictive card and board games from all around the world. Sure, you have titles like Chess and Uno… erm, Last Card, but you’ve also got ancient masterpieces like Mancala and Hanafuda to pick up. In addition, there’s a ton of Wii Sports/Wii Play minigames that work well with the Joy-Con’s gyro sensors, and playing something like Bowling or Darts is pretty intuitive.
I love how simple and charming the whole game is. It’s got a toy box aesthetic with its graphics and introductory videos to pick-up-and-play rule set for most titles. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics eases new players and veterans alike into this experience. Thanks to the beauty of online play, I can just call up my friends and have a fun time playing Ludo or Dominoes thanks to the effortless netcode here.
It’s a very relaxing experience that can get competitive at times, and its slightly cheaper MSRP at $39.99 makes it an easy choice for gamers who don’t want to break the bank. As an added bonus, those that just want to use local play (though you can play most games on the same console) can download a demo on the eShop that acts as a way to connect to a full version AND play four games to try out a piece of the action. How’s that for a great value?
One Step from Eden
If you’re like me, you miss the Mega Man Battle Network series of games. A mix of deck-building card battling mixed with ball-busting difficulty and some slick combos, this series really hasn’t been the same since the GBA days. Luckily, the Humble Bundle-published One Step from Eden is a wonderful return to form, as it mixes the Battle Network series with a roguelike in one of the most creative games this year.
In One Step from Eden, your goal is to get to the titular destination with a mix of spells and your character’s starting attack. You can cast spells using mana and will need to dodge enemies on a battlefield grid. What makes this interesting is the plethora of spells that you’ll obtain; you get at least one per completed battle, which will grant you techniques like summoning a gatling gun, raining down a huge one-time explosion (complete with Konosuba reference!), and using a kinetic sword to slice up your competition. You’ll also get artifacts when you level up, which can give you some pretty substantial powerups (or disadvantages) depending on what you take.
I appreciate the time and effort made into the art style, but you won’t get to appreciate it much because of how much and how quick everything flies around. If you thought this was going to be a cakewalk, One Step from Eden is going to pulverize you in a heartbeat.
Due to the game being a roguelike, death is permanent, and if you die you’ll have to start over from the beginning. You should prepare to have this happen a lot, but thankfully you’ll be able to unlock more powerful spells and artifacts (passive effects) to assist you in your next run. I love the challenging and engaging gameplay of this game, and it’s a great time; just get prepared for the fight of your life if you choose to take this heavenly journey.
Pokémon Café Mix
Yeah, it’s a free to play game that’s on Switch and mobile, and yes it looks like a Candy Crush Saga clone, but you know what? It’s fun! I’ve played this in short bursts (mainly for daily login bonuses), but this game always puts a smile on my face. In Pokémon Café Mix, you’re tasked with running a café that’s built especially for Pokémon; by inviting characters like Squirtle, Charmander, Togepi, and more, you’ll be able to clear different levels (here known as orders) by matching up the same Pokémon heads using the touchscreen.
While this is more action-oriented than most puzzle games, I liken it to Pokémon Trozei rather than something like the aforementioned Candy Crush Saga due to how you chain combos by dragging the Pokémon heads together, It’s an intuitive system that works well with touchscreens, and hence perfect for on the go playtime on a Switch or smartphone. The whole game looks so darn adorable too, with everything decorated in a soft, crayon-like style. It’s so lush and cute, and I need to protect every Pokémon here with my life.
I would say the only thing that’s really a bummer is the fact that its free to play elements can get a bit aggressive once you hit order 60, but luckily the game doles out some free premium in-game currency and special helper items that you can acquire daily. Once you get to the later levels, it becomes less “play through the game in an entire sitting” and more “try this out for ten minutes at a time”. It’s the perfect game to relax with when you need a break from bigger titles.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Also known as “The one where Luigi finally gets some attention”, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is the fourth game in the RPG series, and the first one on the 3DS. I still need to play Bowser’s Inside Story (a sealed copy of the remake sits on my desk as I write this), but for now this game is one that I regret not playing nearly a decade ago.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has the Mario brothers on a vacation in Pi’illo Island, where due to some shenanigans, they have to fight the devious nightmare villain Antasma. Near the beginning of the game, Mario has to go into Luigi’s dreams as he tries to save Pi’illos, who have been imprisoned by the bad guy. This also puts Luigi in the center as you manipulate his dreams in order to traverse the dreamscape. It’s a fun mix of platforming that adds variety to the whole game.
Throughout the Dream Team, you’ll utilize the duo’s signature abilities as well as new techniques called Luiginary Attacks, which are enhanced Bros. attacks that utilize Luigi in some unexpected ways using the 3DS. I actually enjoy how this whole game takes advantage of the handheld’s quirkier bits of tech (the 3D usage here is appropriate and quite nice). While it’s hotly debated how this game stacks up to the others in the series, the music is definitely a high point in Dream Team: I could listen to the main battle and boss themes for hours and not get bored one bit!
While we’re hopefully staying safe indoors or trekking outside to our jobs, it’s also important to kick back for a bit and enjoy the little things in life. Let us know in the comments what you’re playing, and stay tuned for more things anime, manga, and video games here on Miso!