Over the last two decades, as the generation that came of age with console games grew up and graphics became more realistic, many developers shifted their focus to rated M-for-mature subject matter. The folks who once brought us Crash Bandicoot, for example, eventually abandoned marsupials in favour of The Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic shooter series about cannibals. But now, in 2019, hyper-realistic violence has started to feel a bit…played out. Hence one of this summer’s unexpected best-sellers: a remake of 1999’s Crash Team Racing. Meanwhile, Nintendo recently unveiled its best handheld since the Game Boy Advance, and Apple’s new subscription gaming service has introduced us to a slew of wonderfully colourful mobile gems. Granted, the year’s breakout computer game does invite you to play as the embodiment of pure evil…but in the form of a villainous British goose. In other words, it’s never been easier to recapture the joys of innocence. Here’s your guide to gaming’s new playing field.
[START] the Fire
If you thought terrorizing Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto was fun, wait until you try wreaking havoc on a sleepy British village…as a goose? The art direction gives each level of Untitled Goose Game the look of a quaint story book illustration, but don’t mistake the game’s star for Mother Goose — it’s out to steal keys, tip over garbage cans, and lock unsuspecting citizens in phone booths. Officially, your new favourite way to decompress after the workday.
We’ve come a long way since Snake. Apple Arcade grants access to more than 100 games that all skew far weirder and more wonderful than anything we’ve ever played on a phone (Or iPad. Or Apple TV.). Sayonara Wild Hearts is essentially a mashup of a racing game and a synth-pop music video narrated by Queen Latifah, while Hot Lava tasks you with jumping over molten rock. Both are perfect for dipping your toe back into the waters — but not the lava — of modern gaming.
For the [A] to [B] Commute
The new Nintendo Switch Lite streamlines the gaming giant’s hit hybrid console into a more compact form factor designed purely for portable play. Essentially, it’s a Game Boy for 2019 — with throwback-filled games that include the first fully 3-D Pokémon adventure, a remake of 1993’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Luigi’s Mansion 3 starring our favourite Mario brother. Childhood nostalgia plus cutting-edge tech: a winning combo.