Mario Tennis Aces
Mario's skill with a racquet has long been known, but Mario Tennis Aces is the best edition of the long-running sports series to date. Aces again drops the Mushroom Kingdom's brightest swinging stars into colourful courts, but this version adds some welcome twists on the theme.
The new special shots add a strategic edge to the action, letting you launch a shot that is powerful enough to break your opponent's racquet – but can also be blocked, resulting in you wasting your precious energy meter. It's a risk-reward element that helps the matches feel livelier than ever.
Mario Tennis Aces even has a fun single-player campaign mode this time around, although the multiplayer matches (online or off) are the biggest draw. Shame that the online mode lacks crucial elements like tournaments and leaderboards as of this writing.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong is a legend in the same way that most people regard Stan Lee and Paul McCartney. There’s no doubting he changed popular culture in a massive way, but that doesn’t mean you’re all that bothered about his new stuff. With the arrival of Tropical Freeze on Switch from its original home of the ill-fated Wii U, you should make an exception.
Rather than reinvent the platforming formula a la Super Mario Odyssey, this outing from Nintendo’s most famous simian polishes its frenetic 2D combination of jumping and climbing to a dazzling sheen.
What it lacks in originality is made up for in variety and charm, so that each of this game’s 60-odd levels bristle with an irresistible joi de vivre. So long as you’re OK with falling down potholes, being crushed by giant boulders and generally dying a whole lot. Tropical Freeze is not a game that you could describe as ‘easy’.
A game about a headless body that is reanimated by a bunch of cells, then goes on to slay scads of demons in frenetic, Dark Souls-esque combat? Yeah, that sounds pretty hardcore.
That's Dead Cells for you. This indie smash takes some combat cues from Dark Souls, but does it in the form of a 2D Metroid/Castlevania-like adventure, albeit with rogue-like elements. That means that you'll start over every time you die, but with gradual improvement and progression, Dead Cells proves to be rewarding more than just punishing.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Everyone mocks Luigi for being underappreciated over at Nintendo HQ, but he's been treated like royalty compared to the mushroom-headed Toad, who – despite being a prominent character in Mario's friendship circle for yonks – had to wait until 2014 to secure a starring role in a video game. Fortunately, the wait was totally worth it, as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an absolute delight on the Wii U.
A simplistic puzzler at first glance, Captain Toad is chock-a-block with fresh ideas, giving you free control to spin, rotate and flip the perspective of each bite-size level to uncover hidden coins and stars. Even better, with the Switch edition there's a goldmine of new content, including stages inspired by Mario Odyssey's New Donk City.
It may still be ridiculously easy to the extent that it may turn off those looking for a head-scrather, but Captain Toad's super-sweet charm and unique flavour are more than enough to entertain those looking for a chilled-out venture.