Sick of never-bloody-ending iso? We feel your pain, so why not combat your woes with a few new video games like Ghost of Tsushima, Command & Conquer or even some Super Mario-inspired LEGO? Let’s tuck-in!
Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch)
The Paper Mario games have always been intelligent, light-hearted and humours spin-offs and Origami King is no exception – a wonderful distraction if Animal Crossing has finally loosened its powerfully addictive grasp. This time Bowser has been sidelined by King Olly – the titular villain, who has turned your worst cheese dream into reality by littering the land with ‘folded soldiers’ and transformed Princess peach into origami.
The resulting papercraft blended adventure is consistently pretty and charming as ever, but the battle system – which focuses on turn-based battles within a ring-based grid – while always incredibly tense, lacks continued evolution. Still, with that said, this is still a very worthy addition to your Switch library.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)
If you’re coming fresh off the back off The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima is going to be a strange transition. At least it was for us, meaning that, for the first few hours with Sucker Punch’s Samurai-centric open world epic, we didn’t quite know how to feel. Then, like a sudden change in the wind, it all started to click and we saw the error of our ways.
Taking control of Jin Sakai in his quest to save his uncle and protect his people is a mammoth task in an equally mammoth environment. This recreation of 13th century Japan is brimming with locations to explore, haikus to write (seriously) and invading Mongols to fight, and there’s a good chance you’ll want to do it all. We’re talking a 40+ hour adventure on offer here.
That’s largely due to the drop-dead gorgeous world that is constantly redirecting your attention to the next stunning locale. In essence, much of the game plays like the Assassin’s Creed game fans of that series have long been asking for, but the themes of honour, betrayal and revenge make for a much more satisfying yarn. Outside of the absolutely infuriating lack of a lock-on feature during combat, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Make no doubt about it, Ghost of Tsushima is a stellar swansong for the PS4.
Hands-on with LEGO Super Mario
For Nintendo fans, it’s been a long, patient wait to have their beloved moustachioed plumber immortalised in Danish blocks – relegated to shoddy eBay knockoffs and terrifying replicas. But here we are and LEGO Super Mario is pretty, ahem, super. It was a shitty pun too obvious to resist.
The basic concept is devilishly simple – take core Super Mario elements like Bowser, Piranha Plants, Goombas, coin blocks, etc and combine them into your own LEGO-fied level. The kicker here is that the big guy himself packs LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly, as well as colour sensors that detect what colour block he’s on and various RFID tags atop of some other characters and blocks. Bowser Jr, for example, takes multiple hits to fell, while moving Mario onto a blue LEGO piece will trigger underwater noises to indicate that he’s gone for a bit of a paddle.
See the LEGO in action
It’s wonderfully impressive tech that adapts to each element surprisingly quickly and even though we occasionally felt a bit silly during our playtime, kids will surely lose their collective minds at the range of possibilities.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need an app for the build, which is slightly less joyous than working your way through your old-school manual, but that’s almost certainly our nostalgia for the good old days talking, and it does allow you to spin the example model around in case you’re confused with any step, which is bound to help out in a pinch.
If you’re a LEGO fiend you’ll definitely want to add this collection to the list, but you best start saving now if you want it all. The starter course will set you back $89.99 but there’s already another 10 expansion sets on the way ranging from $29.99 to $149.99. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t eyeing off more than a few…
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection (PC)
It may be an indication of how old we’re getting but we remember a time when Command & Conquer was the video game of choice. That may not be the case anymore but this excellent remaster certainly tugs at the nostalgic heartstrings.
This collection includes both the original game and Red Alert, both lovingly given a coat of 4K paint and it really shows. Flicking between the old and new visuals with a simple press of the spacebar is a thing of beauty, and even better is that you can swap around at any time. Even the FMV cinematics look extra glossy.
What we’re trying to say is that if you’re an RTS fan or Command and Conquer veteran, this is an absolute must-buy.
Iron Man VR (PSVR)
With Spider-Man already a part of the Sony family, now Iron Man has joined in on the action, although his debut entry lacks the same effective punch. That’s not to say Iron Man VR is a bad game – far from it actually. Utilising virtual reality for this beloved Avenger is a mark of genius, because once you throw on the headset you instantly feel like a badass in the superhero’s suit.
Likewise, the intelligent controls help sell the whole trip, which is good considering how much of the action is set in the skies battling evil drones up to no good. A few technical hiccups do hold things back slightly – namely some painfully long load times and the odd framerate issue here and there, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from giving this a shot if you have the headset at home.
Carrion (Switch, PC)
Carrion’s elevator pitch is a damn good one: play a virtual monster movie where you play the monster. You’re not the poor sap running scared – you get to do the chasing. As a result, the almost power fantasy of this special indie title packs plenty of thrills for much of its runtime, as you stalk about a facility and gradually grow in strength and size causing bloody, blood-spattered chaos in your wake.
It’s a shame that some of that fun is brought down a touch of repetition in the puzzle process and an occasionally confusing map, but at the end of the day though, it’s a bloody good time that must be applauded for its originality.
Catherine: Full Body (Switch)
Another stellar Switch port, Catherine Full Body takes the great quasi-remake released last year and squeezes it into a handheld experience. The same bonkers puzzle gameplay and equally ridiculous tale of protagonist Vincent who finds himself in the middle of a troublesome affair remains, meaning it won’t take long to work out why this game became a cult classic back in 2011. Thankfully aside from a minor visual downgrade this one of the best ways to play – even if some of its themes and content haven’t aged particularly well.
Burnout Paradise Remastered (Switch)
We know we say this a lot with the Switch, but what an absolute feat it is that Burnout Paradise runs as well as does. We should no longer be shocked at the black magic the compact console is capable of, but considering how much content Burnout Paradise Remastered packs in, the whole thing runs a beaut’. The good news is that the core game itself holds up well too, with plenty to see and carnage to create in the open world of Paradise City. If anything, it only makes us ask again – what the bloody hell happened to the Burnout series? One bit of advice – play this one in the dock if you can, because you’re going to need to see as much as you can.
Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PS4, Switch)
Originally released in 1999 this podracing-centric game was probably the best thing to come out of the prequel trilogy (unless you agree with this list, of course). Now 20 years later you might be surprised to discover it’s still actually pretty bloody enjoyable. Podracing itself is fast, frantic fun that provides plenty of shortcuts to find and upgrades to purchase – when you’re not busy repairing your ride from a few cheeky ‘competitive nudges’.
It’s worth pointing out that this is a pretty barebones remaster – with a marginal visual upscale and widescreen orientation, but for less than $25 the price of admission is relatively low and has not even a whiff of stupid midichlorians.