PlayStation – 1999
Grandia is a JRPG with an interesting battle mechanic. You character moves in to position for an attack automatically. Using strategy, you can cancel enemy attacks or group them together to hit them with area spells. The game has two different forms of leveling up – the traditional experience system and an experience system that levels up weapons/ spells depending on your use. This creates an interesting set-up as you’ll need to level up different spells and weapons to unlock late game ones. Certain abilities and spells also require a combination of weapon experience or magic experience, so you’re encouraged to mix it up. The story has take control of Justin as he sets out on his adventure. You’ll meet a lovable cast of characters along the way and be drawn in to an intriguing story. You can’t back track after you’ve completed an area, so make sure you explore everywhere. Sadly, like most PlayStation games the voice acting isn’t great.
Mystic Quest Legend
Super Nintendo – 1992
The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the name doesn’t match up with the box art on the right. Well, there are two reasons for this. First, the game was called Mystic Quest Legend here and second, I couldn’t find the Mystic Quest Legend box in English so I used the US one. So with that laziness out of the way, let’s talk about this 16-bit JRPG. It’s very basic, and I mean basic. The World map has been replaced with a simple grid that you move around before entering a town or dungeon. You ever have two party members and your guest is often leveled above your main character when they join. The weapon choice is significantly reduced from what you’d expect in a JRPG but they do have unique abilities to help you explore more areas. Overall, the game is enjoyable and very welcoming to new JRPG players but if you want a bit more, you’re better off with Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Nintendo Switch – 2019
A terrifyingly good game (I’m absolutely useless at this, aren’t I) that is a must have for any Switch owner. The hotel setting is great, with each floor having it’s own unique theme. The controls are also vastly improved as the dual analogue sticks of the Switch make catching ghosts a lot easier. Visually, the game looks crisp and clean. There are plenty of secrets to uncover and with the open-world back, these no longer feel like a chore. Capturing Boos requires you to back track as they only appear when you’ve cleared a floor but as you’ll be doing this anyway when you upgrade your vacuum, it shouldn’t be too much of a chore. The addition of Gooigi is an strange one but he allows you to explore unreachable areas and solve puzzles. Also, it has a dog, so that’s always a bonus in Rocky’s eyes.
Luigi’s Mansion 2
Nintendo 3DS – 2013
Luigi’s Mansion 2 replaces the open exploration with a chapter system. It also makes use of the 3DS motion sensor for exploring the levels and capturing ghosts. The controls feel a lot better this time around and the issues with the camera have been fixed. The levels look charming, each with their own unique setting, and the music is delightfully charming. You’re vacuum can again be upgraded, encouraging yo to replay older stages. I’m not a fan of the chapter select system as it gets tedious replaying levels, especially if you’ve missed an item as these can often be level specific.
GameCube – 2001
Luigi’s first proper stand alone game (we don’t count the others!). It’s an interesting concept that involves you catching ghosts and finding money. The game is set in a mansion (well, duh) that gradually opens up as you move forward in the story. There are a variety of ghosts to capture, with the boss ghosts requiring some puzzle to activate them. There’s also a range to Boo ghosts to hunt. These can move between rooms which can be a little tedious at times. Your vacuum can also be upgraded, enabling you to explore further. You can also backtrack with these upgrades to uncover secrets you couldn’t get to earlier. The camera and controls are decent for the most part but there are moments when they get in the way, most notably against the final boss.
Sega Saturn – 1994
From the brilliant mind of Hideo Kojima comes Lethal Weapon in Space. Set on Beyond Coast, a space colony, you take control of Jonathan Ingram as he uncovers an organ trafficking conspiracy. Game-play wise, it’s a point and click adventure with some action sequences thrown in but the plot is what really carries it. There are some shooting sections which you can use a light-gun for, which is a nice touch. Visually, the game has held up well and the version I played was an excellent fan translation. Unfortunately it was never officially released in the English but you can get your hands on an English ROM.
Nintendo Entertainment System – 1993
Kirby’s Adventure is the console debut of Nintendo’s beloved pink marshmallow (?). Swallow enemies to copy their abilities and use these to find new ways to beat each level. Like most Kirby games, it’s on the easy side but it does have some challenging moments, especially the last boss. The graphics are colourful and charming, with each area having its own theme. The music is cutesy and fits each area well. The game is on the short side, so you’ll probably beat it in one sitting, but there are a few secrets to uncover that can give you extra lives or abilities so there is some replayability.
Mario Kart 8
Nintendo Wii U – 2014
Introducing anti-gravity racing means the game can create unique tracks and put a new spin on old ones (get it, because you spin when you..never mind). The game has a wide range of characters to choose from, as well as the Koopalings. Game-play wise, its what we’ve come to expect from Mario Kart – easy to pick up and rewarding to master. Karts, bikes and accessories are unlocked through obtaining coins, similar to 7. Classic tracks return and there are four DLC cups as well. The multiplayer battle modes are the weakest in the series as instead of playing in unique battle arenas, you fight on the regular tracks. If you want to experience this one, its bets to grab Deluxe for the Switch. It has all the DLC plus extra characters and dedicated arenas for multiplayer combat.
Mario Kart 7
Nintendo 3DS – 2011
Take to the skies (or the seas!) with Nintendo’s third handheld entry in the Mario Kart series. It’s fun, fast and frantic. Karts are unlocked by collecting coins and playing online with friends is enjoyable (and satisfying if you’re better than them!). The game has a large selection of tracks to pick from, with both new and old favourites returning. Due to the new hang-glider and under water mechanics, these old tracks have a new spin on them. The roster is smaller than Mario Kart Wii but it does see the return of a lot of classic racers, as well as some newbies. The on track controls are solid, as you’d expect, and the new air and water controls are surprisingly easy to grasp.
Mario Kart Wii
Nintendo Wii – 2008
I love Mario Kart but I wasn’t a fan of motion controls at the time so I missed out on this when it was first released (boo, hiss). However, going back to it with a classic control made me realise how enjoyable this game really is. It has a wide variety of drivers and karts to pick from, as well as introducing bikes. With 32 tracks, it definitely has some depth to it. Now you can race against 11 other drivers, which can sometimes cause it to descend it absolute carnage. My only disappointment was that traditional GP is not available in multiplayer.