Though we’re fast approaching the pre-E3 lull of springtime, my family’s Nintendo Switch consoles are still seeing plenty of use. Thanks in no small part to a slate of irresistible downloadables, we’re currently building, battling, and otherwise bounding our way through
allergy season this season of rebirth.
Here’s a breakdown of what new hotness we’re currently enjoying.
BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!
This kids and I became enamored with the puzzling adventures of Qbby way back in his 2015 3DS debut, and his arrival on the Nintendo Switch was thus greeted with much rejoicing around our house. If you’re already familiar with the understated BOXBOY! style of platforming, you won’t be disappointed, but fear not newbies; BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is the picture of (deceptive) simplicity.
Like the preceding titles, gameplay in BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! involves creating boxes that can be used as bridges, thrown onto switches, employed as shields, or even used like a hook and chain to climb to high platforms. You’ll be confronted by these and many other novel environmental puzzle types as you make your way through each multi-level world. Successfully navigate all the stages in each world, and more magical numbered doors will open, expanding the size, scope, and complexity of this platforming puzzler.
Each level restricts the player to a particular number of available boxes at one time, and there’s the additional challenge of keeping your overall box total below the level’s threshold. There is also one or more crowns hidden—typically in plain sight—throughout each level, which can also be collected for a boost in your reward once you cross the proverbial finish line. This will earn a higher payout of the game’s Reward Medal currency system, with a shop available that sells both cosmetic items and helpful buffs like higher jumps, faster movement, and additional boxes to use in the particularly challenging puzzles.
Featuring more than 270 stages, BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is the biggest offering yet, and this chapter makes some fun additions. The most major of these is a two-player offering, the cooperative “A Tale for Two” mode featuring Qbby and his better half Qucy, and a third adventure featuring the rectangular Qudy.
Dressing up your blocky avatars, unlocking cute comics and fun musical selections, and even purchasing new levels in the game’s “Balloon Challenge” make for a fun diversion, but BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is really about besting tricky levels (and surpassing your own top scores) thanks to a clever blend of personal ingenuity and economy of movement.
As both a puzzle game for folks who don’t strictly like puzzle games and an inspired minimalist platformer, BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! succeeds without question. It may not be the flashiest, most colorful, or most hyped game on the eShop, but it’s easily another must-own title from the team at HAL Laboratory.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions
On the one hand, I have long been wary of falling into the sinister clutches of Games Workshop. On the other, the Warhammer license—in all its myriad forms—is just so fantastically appealing. Add to this GeekDad Robin‘s spectacular coverage of the Age of Sigmar line, and I’ve been having a harder time than usual resisting its siren song.
Lucky for me, the free-to-play digital card game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions recently made its way to the Nintendo Switch. As Robin has already helpfully pointed out whilst covering the physical iteration, Champions is a head-to-head CCG with all the regular trappings of the genre, relying heavily on the blind booster model.
To help you get a proper taste of the Warhammer universe, Age of Sigmar: Champions allows you to access free starter decks themed around the game’s four factions—Order, Destruction, Death, and Chaos—in its early single-player trainer scenarios. You’ll also quickly unlock multiple booster packs, which will help power up your decks as you take on more challenging foes and dip your toe into the title’s robust online multiplayer offerings.
Competing players deploy the titular Champions to four opposing lanes. Blue-bordered Wizard cards perform powerful spells, while red-bordered Warrior units employ martial attacks, both represented by color-coded Ability cards that can be played on corresponding units.
Each round, players take turns placing Ability cards on their Champions. You’re only allowed two actions per round, which can be used to play cards from your hand, draw additional cards from your deck, or even use Powers, additional specialty cards unlocked through gameplay. At the end of each player’s round, damage or other effects are applied, with the ultimate goal being to reduce your opponent’s health to zero, thus winning the game.
Sounds simple enough, right? But there’s a (literal) twist!
Rather than turning or “tapping” an Ability card once to use its written effect, these cards have multiple values in their four corners. As play progresses, they’re rotated each round, delivering the corresponding damage, until removed from play by rotating the full 360-degrees—unless otherwise sapped by an opponent first.
Not only does this digital version of the game let you know exactly what cards can be played on what Champions, it also auto-rotates deployed Abilities, simplifying gameplay and streamlining what could otherwise be a pretty fierce learning curve. It even accounts for the turning of Champions as they complete Quests.
Think of Quests as four mini-missions (again, represented in the four corners of each Champion card) that unlock special attacks called Blessings. Quests can be as simple as dealing damage or deploying a unit, but once all four have been completed and a Blessing is at the ready, it can really help to turn the tide of battle.
Obviously, there’s a lot to Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions, but it feels right at home on the Switch. The touchscreen real estate is uncluttered and intuitive, and just as important, it’s a lot of fun to play.
Since this is a free-to-start title, you can try the game without immediately having to spend your hard-earned dollars, but the longer you play, the more the game steers you toward in-app purchases. Such is the nature of the beast. Of course, if you’re already involved in the physical game, you can scan those cards in to unlock their digital versions—which is a nice bone to throw to already heavily invested players.
Available: April 15, 2019
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Challenger Pack 1
When it arrived last week alongside the game’s 3.0 update, demand for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s Challenger Pack 1 DLC was so high that the eShop servers could scarcely stand the strain. Thankfully, fans’ patience was well rewarded.
With SSBU 3.0 arrived a new Video Editor for showcasing your greatest hits (pun fully intended), as well as a Stage Builder for flexing those arena design skills. These can be showcased using the new Shared Content system, allowing gamers the world over to see your latest creations.
Those who paid for the Challenger Pack 1 DLC were greeted with an expanded player roster featuring the long-awaited arrival of high school vigilante Joker from Persona 5. Also included was a new Persona-themed stage called “Mementos” and a number of new Mii Fighter costume options.
I’d encourage all diehard fans of Smash to invest in this new installment of the game’s paid DLC, but given how long it took me to download it, I’m assuming y’all already have!
Review codes were provided for all of the above titles.