Following its debut back in 2019 on Nintendo Switch and PC, Baba Is You has slowly become one of my favourite puzzle games of all time alongside The Witness. Many indie games debut on PC and sometimes consoles before they come to mobile and I gave up on Baba Is You ever hitting mobile considering I didn’t really see any discussion of more ports and figured we would see PS4 and Xbox versions before anything on mobile. After last week’s surprise release, Baba Is You ($6.99) from Hempuli is now on iOS and Android in addition to PC and Nintendo Switch platforms and this new port is just about everything I hoped for in a mobile conversion but it is lacking in one key area.
I discovered Taiko no Tatsujin through an import release on PS Vita because of how colourful the gameplay looked and how varied the song selection was. Prior to that, there had been some Taiko games on mobile but they were all region locked or had something putting me off trying them. The PS Vita having a lot of rhythm games I enjoyed definitely got me trying more in the genre on the platform. Taiko no Tatsujin V Version featured loads of music from games, anime, and even some pop songs like Gimme Chocolate! from Babymetal. I played a ton of it but was completely obsessed with the franchise from the PS4 and Nintendo Switch releases for which I even bought the drum controller bundle for Nintendo Switch.
Look, I don’t make the rules. If inkle releases a new game, I’m there. The folks at inkle have a fantastic knack for making narrative adventures that feel so much bigger than the confines of their designs, and Overboard! ($5.99) is no exception. It’s the classic murder mystery set-up: a passenger ship is making its way across the ocean on the way to New York. The night before the ship is set to arrive in port, one of the people on board is killed. Will the murderer be caught, or will they get away with their hideous crime? That’s up to you, but not in the way you might think.
Given how great Apple’s support for older devices is, I usually hold on to my iPhone and iPad for a few years at least before looking to upgrade as long as they work fine. While I definitely regret buying the iPad 3rd generation with how underpowered it ended up being, the iPad Air 2 was a fantastic device not just for gaming but also for work. It slowly started to become sluggish with newer games and some games I wanted to play on touch didn’t support it. Upgrading to the iPad Pro 2020 has been great with how well almost everything I play runs on it but one specific game announcement pushed me more towards upgrading. That was the original WWDC reveal for Divinity: Original Sin 2 ($24.99) from Larian Studios.
I don’t know what has been in the water at Square Enix the last few years, but I’m happy for it. The 8-bit and 16-bit Final Fantasy games can only be re-released and/or remade so many times, I suppose. We’ve received localizations of classic games I never thought we would see like Romancing SaGa 2 and Romancing SaGa 3. We’ve seen the latest SaGa, SaGa Scarlet Grace, get a release on new platforms and in new regions. Even the classic Game Boy games that kicked off the SaGa series (unbeknownst to those of us in the West at the time) got reissued on the Nintendo Switch. And now things come full circle, after a fashion. SaGa Frontier Remastered ($24.99) sees the very first game in the series that was localized under its original title make a return, hopefully to a warmer reception than last time.
Some games are good. Really good, even, and you know you’ll play them for hours and hours. Other games maybe need a bit of work, a bit of spit & polish, and they could be good. Then there are some games I really want to love and enjoy and recommend but, for one reason or another, I just… can’t. Dungeon of the Endless ($7.99) is one of those. Not because it’s bad, but because it just… doesn’t capture my attention, can’t keep me coming back for run after run, even after months of not playing. It’s not immediately obvious why, either—the art is gorgeous, the soundtrack is good, and the minute to minute gameplay is quite enjoyable too. So what is it? Why, despite owning the game on three different platforms and trying to get into it dozens of times, does it consistently fail to draw me in, push me to really dig in to strategies, and finally beat the game? The answer, I’ve come to find, is simple: The post-run reward loop that gets you to come back for one more floor, to experiment with that thing you just unlocked, or to see if tweaking your strategy just so makes the difference, just… isn’t there.
Following this pattern, it would seem logical to think that Final Fantasy 8 would arrive in 2016. Well, we did get a Final Fantasy game that year, but it was the rather impressive port of Final Fantasy 9. Unlike the previous game, this felt like it was rebuilt for the hardware. Perhaps that was the hold-up with Final Fantasy 8? At the time, I thought we’d see the eighth game arrive in 2017. Instead, we got the original title Final Fantasy Dimensions 2. Hm, maybe in 2018? No, that ended up being Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition. Oh, I see! 2019 is the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy 8! Square Enix, you sly dogs. But no, no such luck on mobile that year. It did come to other platforms. Perhaps it was just a bit behind on mobile?
Dracula. A classic book of desire, and triumph over a great evil. It is not, however, the focus of this review. No, it is merely the inspiration for a board game, one of mystery and deduction, predator and prey. A game that will, without doubt, find its audience with a digital port. What game, you wonder? Why, dear reader mine, none but the Fury of Dracula ($4.99).
Image & Form’s SteamWorld franchise began back with SteamWorld Tower Defense which was a DSiware title. The franchise finally had a breakthrough hit with SteamWorld Dig that was released on Nintendo 3DS before seeing multiple ports following. Since then, the Swedish studio released two of my favourite indie games of all time with SteamWorld Dig 2 and SteamWorld Heist so I had high expectations when I played SteamWorld Quest on Nintendo Switch.
Fortunately, the talent behind a game is generally more important than any branding. Igarashi wanted to make another Metroidvania, and fans enthusiastically obliged when he went to Kickstarter to find the funding for it. A lot of stories like that have disappointing or even terrible endings, but Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ($9.99) seems to have largely gone as everyone hoped. A few bumps on the road, to be sure. It was originally set for a 2017 release but ended up coming in 2019 instead. A few of the planned versions were canceled thanks to the platforms being on their way out. The Switch version launched in a rather miserable state. A few planned features had to be changed.