Never count Nintendo out. Every time it looks as though the Japanese video game company could be in trouble, the House of Mario manages to surprise everyone with a fantastic idea such as the Nintendo Switch.
The system is basically a modern console small enough to fit in the palms of players' hands. The machine is one of the hottest holiday gifts, but the Switch is nothing without great titles. There are the obvious gems such as "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," "Super Mario Odyssey" and "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle," but Nintendo's stellar year of games goes beyond those. It continues with several recent releases. Here are a few worth playing:
"Fire Emblem Warriors" -- "Dynasty Warriors" has come in as many iterations and permutations as the "Street Fighter" games. The hack and slash gameplay has been adapted to anime-themed efforts such as "One Piece" and "Fist of the North Star." There's even one based on "Zelda."
The latest entry is a fascinating combination of "Dynasty Warriors" and the "Fire Emblem." It follows royal twins Rowan and Lianna, who have to stop the resurrection of the Chaos Dragon with the help of the Fire Emblem artifact. Their adventure brings them together with heroes from previous entries in the strategy role-playing game series.
On the surface, the game appears to mirror the combat-heavy "Dynasty Warriors" gameplay. Players mash buttons, and their heroes wipe out hordes of foes. The unrelenting domination can get ridiculous at times, but as players progress, they'll discover the action runs deeper. It incorporates elements of the "Fire Emblem" series such as hero team-ups, relationship building and weapon strengths.
Those are nice touches, but the biggest contribution is the strategy elements. During each mission, players can order their heroes toward different objectives. This ability lets them handle attacks from multiple directions or aid allies while holding down a fort. The wrinkle makes this more than an average "Dynasty Warrior" spin-off.
"Doom" -- Although this shares the same name as the original, it isn't the first-person shooter your father grew up with. The reboot updates the classic game's formula while offering stellar visuals and a better story. The developer, Panic Button, did a great job porting over the id Software title to the Switch.
It's not pixel perfect, but this version of "Doom" captures the essence of the 2016 game. It's frenetic and ultra violent, as each player awakens as a lone space marine. Entombed in a sarcophagus, he's also known as the Doom Slayer and is essentially the boogeyman for hellspawn. He proceeds through a Martian space station killing all evil in his path.
The game includes the phenomenal single-player campaign, arcade mode and multiplayer experience. It looks great initially, but if players take a closer look they'll see some compromises were made to get the software to run on Switch. The textures are slightly blurry, and the animations slightly limited. Despite that, it's remarkable that players can take this game on the road with them.
"Rocket League" -- When first released in 2015, this indie phenomenon took the gaming world by storm. The blend of arcade driving and soccer was addictive fun, and the project was quickly elevated into an esport.
On the Switch, players can now take that gameplay wherever they go. "Rocket League" on the system plays exactly as it does on more powerful counterparts. It features all the modes that have been developed over the past few months, including Hoops, Rumble and Dropshot, but it was the online matches that made the game popular.
"Rocket League" plays well on the Joy-Cons, despite the tightness of the analog sticks. That's also an annoyance with "Doom." Still, the controls are serviceable. The bigger issue is the need for a solid Wi-Fi connection. It's mandatory if players are going to compete against others online and unlock the exclusive Mario, Luigi and Samus Aran skins. Spotty connections could quickly ruin a great game. ___
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