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Editorial

Nintendo Games for the Single Players in August

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Nintendo, the century-old behemoth of the games industry, is known for slick production, cartoon visuals, and traditional adventures. In an increasingly bloated market, gamers also turn to Nintendo for simpler, straightforward storytelling and mechanics-focused design. Even the Switch has taken off thanks to its simplicity and appealing configuration, and third-party developers are slowly returning to Nintendo to take advantage of that popularity.

With that in mind, here are the most interesting titles hitting the Nintendo Switch in August.

SONIC MANIA

Writing anything new about gaming’s oft-ridiculed but perplexingly popular Sonic the Hedgehog series seems near impossible. Love it? Hate it? Used to like it, hate what it became? Just dislike it? Warmed up to it? No matter the perspective one takes, there will be a thousand reasons to take another, and thousands more who wish you felt more like they do. Actually, that makes Sonic a rather accurate microcosm of the Internet…

In any case, Sonic Mania is a 2017 title that resembles, in many key ways, the original Sonic trilogy released in the early 1990s. The game’s sprites are nostalgically similar to Sonic 2 and 3, several of its levels are remakes of classics, and even the playable characters are stripped back to the three from the original games. Developers Headcannon, PagodaWest, and lead programmer Christian Whitehead are all committed to making a tribute to the best of 2D Sonic, while still making a game for modern audiences. The animation is more detailed, the music is more expansive, and the level designs flow much better than the games they are inspired by.

Will Sonic Mania‘s mix of modern techniques and nostalgia attract the audience SEGA hopes for? Or will the allure fizzle out fast, and please only the most devoted fans, the way plenty of other Sonic games have? In just two weeks, fans of Sonic and mascot-platformers will find out for themselves.

Sonic Mania runs onto the Nintendo Switch, as well as Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on August 15.

MARIO+RABBIDS KINGDOM BATTLE

No one would have believed but for the evidence of their own eyes, before this year’s E3, that Ubisoft was working on a tactical-RPG crossover between its and Nintendo’s biggest franchises. The good ship Mario+Rabbids was leaky as anything, but even with the pieces plain to see, gamers were surprised when the title was eventually revealed.

The Rabbids, although an enormous property for Ubisoft, is not particularly popular in the English-speaking world—let alone with hardcore gamers. Still, something about the E3 presentation just worked. Having Shigeru Miyamoto show up on stage certainly helped, but once the feed switched to actual play, having the creator of Mario on board was entirely justified. From the best graphics on the Nintendo Switch so far (with apologies to Super Mario Odyssey) to crunchy turn-based battles, heavily inspired by XCOM and Fire Emblem, Mario+Rabbids became the surprise hit of the show.

The game boasts almost too many positives to count: the soundtrack by Rare alumnus Grant Kirkhope, a Disgaea-like system that allows characters to jump on one another to extend their movement, a beautifully rendered Mushroom Kingdom that has been twisted by the arrival of the meddlesome Rabbids, and even light exploration and puzzles outside of battle. Ubisoft has also included smaller touches that enhance the ‘Nintendoness’ of the title, such as a subtle tilt-shift effect that makes the world appear like a playable diorama.

No one would have believed in the possibility of the project, yet Mario+Rabbids is coming in just a few weeks. Single-player gamers of all stripes will want to keep an eye out, but for Nintendo Switch owners eager to play the next big RPG, the game is a must-buy.

Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle comes to Nintendo Switch on August 29.

AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT and AXIOM VERGE

How can a game possibly follow a brand new, triple-A Nintendo crossover like Mario+Rabbids? By serving an entirely different need in fans’ hearts: a retro platformer. Both the Azure Striker Gunvolt series and Axiom Verge are heading to Nintendo Switch in August, making for three excellent games in total.

Switch owners might already know of Gunvolt, thanks to the smaller and even more retro-styled release of Mighty Gunvolt Burst earlier in the year. But where Burst is flat-out Mega Man, Azure Striker Gunvolt and its sequel are closer to the Mega Man X sub-series, only with their serial numbers filed off. These titles are not simply fan games, either: developer IntiCreates was formed by ex-Capcom staff, who previously worked on many Mega Man titles throughout the 2000s, making Gunvolt the most official continuation extant.

Compared with their little brother Burst, the Azure Striker Gunvolt games are more big-screen friendly, with high-bit graphics and impressive special effects. Whether or not prospective buyers have a history with the genre, the flashy, high-octane action makes the Gunvolt games well worth playing for those who have not already caught them on other consoles or PC.

https://youtu.be/QHa_ERwJni4

At the opposite end of the platformer spectrum, Axiom Verge is a Metroid-like. (Note the lack of ‘-vania’: it really is that much like Metroid). Here, “like Metroid” means slow, lonely exploration; advanced weaponry; backtracking through item gates; a cadre of unsettling enemies; and an electro synth soundtrack that goes from moody or nearly silent, to heart-pumping when it needs to be.

Fans of Epic’s Shadow Complex or Ori and the Blind Forest will find plenty to enjoy in Axiom Verge‘s tight grasp of the fundamentals of the genre, while nostalgic Nintendo fans will love the graphical style that sits somewhere between 8 and 16-bit, but always seems familiar.

Azure Striker Gunvolt and its sequel come to Nintendo Switch on August 31, and Axiom Verge: Multiverse Edition is scheduled for release at an unspecified date in August.


Not many other games are currently scheduled for Nintendo Switch in August, but this is likely to change as smaller titles are revealed week-by-week. Why not comment below and share which of the other big releases this month you hope to see coming to the Nintendo Switch soon? See you again for the single-player Nintendo games of September!

Mitchell is a writer from Currawang, Australia, where his metaphorical sword-pen cleaves fiction from reality daily. When he's not writing, he plays video games and watches movies. While thinking about writing.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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