Lonely Mountains: Downhill

The idea of a mountain biking game might only appeal to an avid minority of outdoors enthusiasts, but don’t let that put you off. I haven’t sat on a bike in 20 years, yet Lonely Mountains: Downhill is one of my favourite games of the year so far.

Think of it as a mash-up of a Trials-style two wheeled technical exercise combined with an arcade rally game, as you tackle a selection of twisting, plunging mountain trails on your pedal bike. What’s really unexpected about Downhill is its frequent moments of serene bliss, as you coast through patches of nature with nothing but the whir of your tires and the chirp of birdsong as a soundtrack.

The Wonderful 101: Remastered

As one of those unfortunate exclusive games that fell victim to the Wii U’s lack of success, The Wonderful 101 was in more need of a remastering than most. It now gets a welcome re-release on Switch (and other consoles), allowing more people to experience this curious PlatinumGames concoction.

Melding fast-paced arcade action with Pikmin-style strategy, The Wonderful 101 has you corralling a small army of heroes and setting them to a number of tasks – which generally involves pounding on bad guys. There’s really nothing quite like this hyperactive tribute to the Japanese sci-fi serials of yesteryear.

Minecraft Dungeons

Imagine Diablo, only bright and bouncy and not half as self-serious. If, like me, that sounds like a rare action-RPG you could actually get on board with (see also Torchlight 2), then Minecraft Dungeons could be for you.

Yes, it’s that Minecraft – the very same craft-’em-up that seems to be catnip for kids. But whether you’re a fan of the IP or not, Minecraft Dungeons has enough intuitive knock-about charm to make it well worth a play. It’s very multiplayer friendly too (local and online), which should appeal during lockdown.

What The Golf?

Avid iOS gamers will know all about this one. What The Golf? landed as part of the delightful Apple Arcade service towards the end of 2019. It was one of the most memorable games then, and it’s lost none of its zany charm now that it’s made its way onto Switch – now with added multiplayer.

If you haven’t encountered it before, What The Golf? Is a golf game only in the loosest sense. It takes the basic premise of hitting a thing into a target and plays around with all the specifics. So, the ball gets swapped out for buildings, people, animals, and abstract concepts. It’s essentially a giant gag machine, but the hit rate is surprisingly high.

Void Bastards

This delightful roguelite FPS undercuts what could have been a thoroughly bleak sci-fi setting with a cheeky – and decidedly British – sense of humour and an overtly cartoony visual style. Its mixture of space grunts and regional accents is all rather Red Dwarf.

The game will have you tackling a bunch of procedurally generated spaceships, looting components, upgrading your gear, and mowing down freakish enemies. You’ll die repeatedly, of course, but each successive run will make you that little bit stronger, increasing your chances of progressing a tad further.

Ion Fury

Built using the same basic 2.5D FPS engine behind legendary ’90s shooter Duke Nukem, Ion Fury wears its retro heart on its sleeve. It’s the kind of brash, brainless, hyper-violent shooter that we used to see a lot of 25 years ago, but which almost seems novel in 2020.

It’s not a pure exercise in nostalgia, though, with massively souped up performance and ample concessions to modern game design standards. For all that, though, it’s still about unloading endless bullets into waves of stooges. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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