The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

With darkness in its soul, wider environments at its disposal, ability-granting masks in its pocket, and an engaging three-day cycle in its core, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is foreboding in how it frequently turns to the uncomfortable; thrilling in how it dares players to explore; flexible in how it gives them a great variety of tools to interact with the tense environments that surround them; and suffocating, yet fair, in how it is constantly counting down to the moment when the world will be consumed in the fire produced by the crashing of a possessed moon. The Legend of Zelda has never been stranger; gaming has rarely been better.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

It is utterly natural, given Nintendo’s stunning competence, that all 3-D The Legend of Zelda installments that followed it are superior in at least one major area. Majora’s Mask has a more distinctive vibe and stronger gameplay outside dungeons; The Wind Waker does a better job at implementing exploration and creating full-fledged sidequests; Twilight Princess feels like a grander and more thoroughly realized perspective on the Ocarina of Time structure; Skyward Sword tops it in inventiveness; Breath of the Wild operates in a level that is so different that comparisons become too one-sided; and the trend will continue as the saga advances. Yet, the steps those entries took were all solidly built over what Ocarina of Time laid down; they were only possible because the leap into 3-D was made so successfully and established so many vital mechanics.

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Stunt Race FX

Issues related to content and controls keep Stunt Race FX from being a very good effort. There is, for sure, a degree of value and excitement to be found in its races against the clock and in some of its wilder tracks; besides, its visuals – despite being undeniably aged – broadcast a handle on tridimensional design that is superior to the one that is seen in Star Fox. Still, when elements that are so central to a game experience are treated less than ideally, it is hard to throw too much praise at the product. And if even at the time of its release the gap that existed between it and other racing titles for the Super Nintendo was wide, the fact time has made the divide bigger ends up turning Stunt Race FX into a curiosity that is decent, but not worthy of anything more than a brief shot.

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Star Fox 2

It is hard to overlook elements that, in the past, were major technological victories but that, in a context where tridimensional gaming has reached full maturity, come off as awfully clunky and outdated. Nonetheless, it would be unfair to let Star Fox 2 be fully defined by them when it does such a great job in building its own identity. The game is very much a sequel to an equally flawed classic; after all, it borrows a universe of spaceships, dogfights, and a whole lot of shooting from it. At the same time, though, it barely feels like the second chapter of a saga, because the changes it operates in structure, leaning to a strategic vein, and in gameplay, betting on free-roaming combats, create gigantic separation between it and its predecessor. Therefore, even if Star Fox 2 cannot be fearlessly recommended due to its blatant wrinkles, it can at least be applauded and given some praise for an audacity that does generate some exciting fruits.

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Pokémon Sword and Shield

In spite of the massive pile of disappointments that they are bound to bring to those who are familiar with the saga, it is simply impossible not to recommend Pokémon Sword and Shield. The features they present, whether new or old, are flawed in multiple ways, and numerous of those problems are considerably aggravated by how – as the first versions built from scratch over the power of a home console – the games simply do not take advantage of the jump to either expand their ambitions or get rid of old vices that should have been eliminated a while ago. Notwithstanding those sometimes infuriating stumbles, Pokémon Sword and Shield stand both thanks to a formula whose capacity to hook has not been even slightly eroded and nice punctual evolutions that enhance the overall experience; yet, with so much retreading and standing still, one cannot help but worry which way the franchise is going if the trend is not reverted.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It is, ultimately, an extreme attention to detail that transforms The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt into a masterclass in world-building; and it is the value brought by all elements that contribute to that aspect of the game that makes it possible to overlook some of its flaws. The title prevails and goes down in history as an effort that is brutally focused in the construction of a universe; and in the midst of dark matters involving both humans and monsters, Wild Hunt is able to muster touches of sweetness, such as genuine romance, amusingly dry humor, strong friendships, and extravagant situations that border on the cartoonish. The fact of the matter is that The Witcher 3 is so big that it has got it all: adventure, horror, drama, misery, joy, shock, and ambiguous morality. It is a world that parallels the real one in various ways; not just because it often puts players in situations in which a completely happy outcome is just not possible, but also due to how it devotes so much energy to such numerous details that it feels alive and organic to a point that has only ever been met by few other games.

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Metroid: Other M

That, however, does not mean Metroid: Other M is bad. It is clear that the shifts in gameplay and plot that it brings into the franchise do not work entirely, as they sometimes frustrate and occasionally go against essential elements of the series. Nevertheless, its successful parts come together to forge a very distinctive Metroid experience. Its focus on action may generate an adventure that is shorter and simpler than those of its 3-D counterparts, but it brings a physical thrill to combats that did not exist before it. And its dedication to storytelling may at times veer towards the cheesy and incongruent, but it is responsible for a compelling tension-inducing mystery and an interesting – even if irregular in quality – glimpse into the past of Samus Aran. Therefore, although it does have many rough spots and holds a nature that is unlikely to satisfy everyone, it is an adventure that deserves either a try or at least a pat on the back for the different path it takes.

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Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch

In spite of how it is both the game’s visual presentation and the presence of Studio Ghibli that ought to attract many players towards Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, that audience is likely to quickly discover there is far more to the title than those two elements. Even if firmly grounded on some of the genre’s traditions, it is an RPG that puts considerable effort into not falling victim to them, and it succeeds in that regard via a charming battle system boosted by thousands of party-building possibilities, the character development it unearths in the interactions between its two worlds, and – most of all – in the fantastic synergy between the hearts of its plot and spirit, which gives support to an adventure that delicately merges fantasy with reality; humor with tragedy; despair with hope; and what is violent enough to bring devastation with that is pure enough to deliver restoration.

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Star Fox Adventures

Star Fox Adventures is, therefore, irregular. On many fronts, it is a game that boasts visible qualities and a perceivable level of polish; nevertheless, when placed under a scrutinizing light, almost none of them remain unscathed. As such, while in many ways one is able to see that the always gifted hand of Rare was behind the construction of the title, it is not hard to realize the project was not among the smoothest and carefully carried out efforts the company put together during their partnership with Nintendo. Due to that, the last note coming out of that association is somewhat out of tune, signaling that the closing of an era was indeed fast approaching. In the end, Star Fox Adventures fails to fully convince fans and outsiders alike not because it presents Fox and his crew out of their natural habitat, but because it amounts to little more than a good adventure game that stumbles a lot and never truly establishes its own character.

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Luigi’s Mansion 3

As it stands, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is bound to go down as turning point, for it feels like the precise moment when a franchise that was once seen as a secondary property showed it had the absolute right to exist alongside the biggest brands of the company responsible for its creation. In all regards, it leaves absolutely nothing to be desired when compared to its most popular and critically acclaimed peers. It has music and, especially, visuals that confirm it was a project in which a lot of money was invested; it has a scope that, locked within the confines of a hotel, is able to evoke values of grandeur that are usually reserved to adventures that are much more expansive; and it fills up its considerable size with quality gameplay that continuously surprises through the entirety of its length. It is, by all means, a gaming epic; one that, true to the nature of its protagonist, is built with unexpected tools like a vacuum cleaner, a doppelganger made of jelly, and tons of charmingly funny horror.

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