Top Nin­tendo Switch ti­tles of the sea­son

The Mercury News Weekend - - A+E - Con­tact Gieson Ca­cho at 925-943-8313.

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 more 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 “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” spinoff.

“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 ul­tra­vi­o­lent, 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.

BETHESDA SOFTWORKS

Visu­ally, “Doom” is one of the more im­pres­sive games on the Nin­tendo Switch.

Gieson Ca­cho Game on

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