Digital | ON: GAMES

Nintendo's new game changers

by Brian Ashcraft

‘Pokemon’ gets a boxy new look

“Pokemon Quest” looks unlike any previous “Pokemon” game. The blocky voxel graphics illicit comparisons to “Minecraft,” perhaps the most famous voxel-style game to date. But “Minecraft” didn’t actually invent the art style, so it’s interesting to see The Pokemon Company put a new spin on its classic pocket monsters.

Set on Tumblecube Island, “Pokemon Quest” is a free-to-play game that debuted on the Nintendo Switch late last month. Gameplay encompasses a variety of elements: collect Pokemon, send them to fight enemies, level them up, collect loot and cook to attract new Pokemon to join your group. The emphasis is less on combat and more on managing the different Pokemon, which makes the game seem better suited to mobile, and it’s no surprise to hear that it is coming to smart phones.

For a long time, you had to have Nintendo hardware to play “Pokemon” games. In the past few years, however, the Pokemon Company has been venturing into the mobile industry, bringing the phenomenon to an even wider range of players. Traditional fans may find this new game puzzling, as it’s such a departure both gameplay-wise and stylistically. But that’s the point — it’s a new look for a new experience.

“Pokemon Quest” is available for Nintendo Switch and will be out on Android and iOS later this month. It is free, but there are also in-app purchases available.,


Throwing plates at tradition

In a world where sushi has been outlawed, with the word itself even banned, it’s up to the Sushi Liberation Front to free the dish from the shackles of oppression. Welcome to “Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido.”

You play as Musashi, who lost his parents in the Sushi Struggles, as he battles Empire foot soldiers in a puzzle-stacking action game. During fights, players match plates of sushi on the conveyer belt and stack the empty plates to be used in attacks against opponents. The game isn’t just about the puzzle-action, it also features an entertaining story told through on-screen dialogue and anime cutscenes.

Nintendo developed “Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido” with Tokyo-based game studio Indieszero, which has made unusual games such as “Electroplankton,” “Retro Game Challenge” and “Theatrhythm Final Fantasy” with Square Enix. “Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido,” available for ¥5,378 for Nintendo Switch and 3DS is another addition to that oeuvre of offbeat games.,


Tennis game serves up sweet aces

Mario and his pals latest sporty endeavor is “Mario Tennis Aces” (or “Mario Tennis Ace” in Japan).

With 15 playable characters, “Mario Tennis Aces” features two-on-two play, online multiplayer and new in-game moves like trick shots. For those who want a Wii Sports-like casual experience, it also has a Swing Mode that lets players swing the Nintendo Switch Joy Con as a motion controller.

This is the latest entry in the long-running “Mario Tennis” series. The first, “Mario’s Tennis,” came out in 1995 on the ill-fated Virtual Boy. It was the second, “Mario Tennis,” that cemented the franchise hallmarks of power-ups, multiplayer and tight gameplay.

Camelot Software Planning, which started as an RPG developer, made “Mario Tennis,” as well as the games that followed, including “Aces.” The studio also develops the “Mario Golf” games and has carved out a niche as makers of excellent sports games for Nintendo characters — all of which have held up impressively well over the years. “Mario Tennis Aces,” will be released on Nintendo Switch for ¥6,458 on June 22 and serves the same frantic fun that all the Camelot sports games are known for.,