Whereas Birthright was the ‘beginner’ version of Fire Emblem Fates, Conquest is meant to be for the veteran FE fans. Maps are more difficult, you can’t grind, and in general, it’s just harder to complete. This makes the gameplay a lot better than Birthright, and less experienced fans can still choose Casual and Easy mode for a less challenging time. The final boss is just flat-out cheap though. Rather unfortunately, where Birthright’s story is just boring, Conquest’s is downright terrible. In the end, Conquest is better than Birthright and Revelations, but that’s not a hard bar to clear.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has almost too many characters. I tend to forget fighters like Pac-Man and Ridley are in that 70+ fighter count. The story mode is long and boring, and I only found it tolerable when controller passing the stages. Collecting spirits is equal parts fun and overwhelming, and spectating reminds me how terrible I am at Ultimate. But damn is the game just a blast to play… and when we’re talking about fighting games, gameplay is king. There’s a bunch of content for those that need it, but for me, I’m just in it for the multiplayer.
The Pokémon Trading Card game for the GBC was a lot better than people probably think it was. The game debuted early in the TCG’s lifetime, so it includes only the first generation of cards, but the core gameplay intact in the GBC title. Playing a duel and organizing your cards is surprisingly intuitive on the system, as well. The card graphics mimic the art of the original cards and look fantastic, and the music is upbeat and memorable. Really, Pokémon TCG is a very solid game, stifled only by a bit of grinding for cards you may need.
Pokémon GO is simply an international phenomenon. It doesn’t matter if GO is good or not, with 11 million users playing the game years after release. GO encourages people to go outside, catch Pokémon, and be active. The mobile game had an extremely rocky and somewhat barren start, but new Pokémon content has been added over the years, enticing players to come back again. It can be hard to build up a good team without grinding, and if you’re far away from Pokéstops getting Pokéballs can be a drag, but Pokémon GO brings consistently in new players regardless.
Pokémon Sun is great, but Pokémon Ultra Moon magnifies the problems of the Gen 7 games. Ultra Moon is an expanded version of Moon, meaning it’s largely the same game, but with additional cutscenes… that you can’t skip. After playing Sun once, the cutscenes become very tiresome, and the new scenes don’t add much. All of the post-game content is really great, but it comes with the caveat of getting through the main game first. If you didn’t play S/M, Ultra S/M is the definitive version, but it’s a hard recommendation if you’ve already played Sun or Moon.
Drop some Pokémon into an arena, and what do you get (besides, well, normal Pokémon)? Pokkén Tournament is the series’ fighting genre spin-off, using mechanics from Tekken to make a Poké-fighter. The gameplay mechanics are more beginner-friendly than Tekken, which is great for those intimidated by the main fighting series. Phase Shifting keeps battles interesting, though eventually, I started using the same combos with Pikachu Libre to trounce the computer opponents. Pokkén’s story mode is also bland and tedious, which is unfortunate but understandable. Pokkén is a solid fighter for beginners, and Pikachu Libre is adorable so we all win.
Pokémon Black does something none of the other games do. Black restricts what Pokémon you can catch, only having Unova region Pokémon available in the main game. Getting to only catch new Pokémon tickled a sense of nostalgia for me — playing through the game blind at launch felt like playing Pokémon Red all over again. Black also has a decent plot, with N being a far more interesting rival than anyone before or since. Black also takes the first steps to speed up battles and experience gain, cutting down on grinding. Pokémon Black is definitely one of the series’ high points.
It’s Pokémon, and it’s Picross. How could you mess that up? By making it free-to-play and adding in premium currencies and stamina bars. Technically you could complete Pokémon Picross without spending money, but if you don’t spend thirty dollars to get enough Picrites to unlock everything you need, you’ll be stuck in an endless grinding loop. Even with the money investment, you can still get stuck without the Pokémon you need to progress. Why can’t this be a simple Picross title with Pokémon themed puzzles to figure out? People would have paid for that without the F2P nonsense.
Minit is a game with speedrunners in mind, but the core mechanics are done well enough that most can enjoy it. You simply live for one minute, then die. Most progress is saved between runs, so the best thing to do is get as much done as possible each minute, and respawn with fewer obstacles in the way so you can move forward. This makes for an interesting and puzzle-like gameplay loop, though sometimes figuring out how to progress can be difficult. Minit is a short game and worth the playthrough, just to see how its unique mechanics come together.