I had checked out Fortnite when it was first released on Switch in order to see what all the hype was about, and that was during Season 4. At the time I just tried the various modes and got a couple of the free tier rewards, but I got sucked into a full season around February and March when Epic Games let players earn a free battle pass for Season 8 by completing the Season 7 overtime challenges.

Season 8 had a pirate theme, and I don't know enough about the game to know how die-hard fans rank that particular season. Some of the main additions to the map were a volcano, some Aztec-like temples, and a lagoon with a pirate ship. The season also added pirate forts that featured cannons you could shoot yourself out of, or use to shoot cannonballs. The latter turned out to be a huge pain, and I got stuck on all the missions requiring you to deal damage to other players with cannons. They were just way too slow to be able to hit any moving target, and I can't imagine many people had an easier time with those missions that I did.

As for the Battle Pass itself, the onslaught of timed missions definitely gave the game more urgency and forced me to give the game a closer look to learn its ins and outs, but it also added a lot of stress to the game. Working my way through missions felt like a full-time job most of the time. Since I didn't know anyone who was playing the game I had to add a lot of random friends and hope that I could join enough matches with them to complete those missions. I had to endure many foul-mouthed random players in order to complete other missions, and more than once I found myself wondering why I had gotten suckered into completing such pointless tasks as destroying cactus after cactus while completely ignoring the actual objective of the game. Most of the rewards (all of which are cosmetic) were pretty worthless, but I did enjoy some of the unlockable characters and dance moves. I realized pretty quickly that I was never going to get to the highest tier, 100, and even if you do there are even more missions to complete on top of that. You definitely need to have a lot of time or very deep pockets in order to unlock everything in a season, let alone multiple seasons.

I have to admit that I grew to like Fortnite more than I had from the first few hours I had played it. The rotating Limited Time Modes were pretty fun, and included some unique modes like piloting biplane fighters with a partner and also a special Avengers vs. Thanos event to coincide with the release of the final Avengers movie. My first impression of Fortnite was that you spend most of a match wandering on your own bored and then after a few seconds in a firefight it's all over, but after playing for a while I realized you don't actually need to spend that much time gathering materials from the start and can hunt other players pretty soon after you land.

I really can't see myself wanting to revisit Fortnite again, let alone committing myself to a whole season, but as I said in my previous post, if I had a group of friends who were really into it I would consider it. I never even got close to mastering crafting (i.e. throwing up walls and ramps) in the heat of battle, and I never really enjoyed the squad or solo modes, but the casual modes (e.g. 50v50 with unlimited respawns) were pretty fun in general. The game's season structure discourages casual players like me from jumping in for just one or two matches at a time, but I had a decent time with the one season overall, and now I definitely know the game better and have a better sense of its appeal.

Has it really been four years since I've written about a Tetris game? Every new video game system needs a new Tetris game, and for Nintendo Switch that niche was filled by launch title Puyo Puyo Tetris, a fun game that I'll be writing about more in the unspecified future.

Tetris 99 was an out-of-left-field surprise announcement that was part of Nintendo's Nintendo Direct announcements from this past February. The base game is free for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, and since its initial release the game has received one round of paid DLC that adds new modes, with further DLC planned for the future.

The main "battle royale" mode of Tetris 99 is an entertaining twist on the formula. The classic tried-and-true Tetris gameplay is front and center, but you're also given options for choosing your attack strategy (random, those attacking you, etc.). I can't be bothered to multi-task and strategize my attacks, so I usually just pick random, but NintendoLife posted a guide with tips for anyone looking to play more seriously than I.

That game mode is fun, but a little more stressful than your average Tetris game and not one that I would necessarily want to pick up regularly. What has kept me coming back to the game is the "Maximus Cup" events, which started off rewarding the highest scoring players with eShop points, but which now have you play to earn points in order to unlock a theme to use in the game. So far the events have featured the original Game Boy Tetris as a theme, a Splatoon crossover theme, and most recently a Fire Emblem: Three Houses. All the themes are a lot of fun to use and were well worth earning.

Tetris 99 is a worthwhile entry in a long and ongoing series, and although it doesn't look like the paid DLC adds much, it's a very nice freebie otherwise. As a completist I'll probably pick up the retail release (which comes with a 12 Month Nintendo Switch Online Membership at some point (it releases next week), but this does remind me that there are plenty of older releases that I should be going back to as well. Eventually!

One more Dance Dance Revolution game to get out of the way before steering the blog back to more "serious" topics. The DDR gameplay is so solid that it can withstand any type of music, whether it be remixes of classical music as in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix or versions of classic Disney tunes as in Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Mix. I've never watched any of the tween Disney Channel TV shows, so I didn't have any particular interest in Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Channel Edition (released on PS2 in January of 2008) aside from the fact that it was another DDR game to try out and cross off my list.

The game features some songs from High School Musical, a super bland and cheesy made-for-TV movie that became a mega hit for Disney and made its male lead, Zac Efron, a star. The music from that movie isn't half bad, assuming you like cheesy pop like I do. A large part of the game's tracklist is in a similar "squeaky clean" pop vein as well, and I particularly enjoyed the songs from Hannah Montana, which shouldn't be surprising since many of the songs were written by the same folks who worked on High School Musical. The rest of the tracklist is balanced out by a number of more R&B type tracks, which are a welcome change. None of the songs became great favorites of mine, but I enjoyed them more than I expected.

As you'd expect, the game's difficulty is pretty low. There's a basic mission mode where you go through songs at low difficulties to unlock an alternate outfit for every character (Disney Channel characters, of course). However, at the higher difficulties the songs get to be challenging as any other DDR game. There are also a handful of classic DDR songs to unlock. Overall this turned out to be an enjoyable, albeit pretty cheesy, iteration of the long-running franchise, and adds a nice bit of variety to the series as a whole.

It would be fascinating to take a peek inside of Edmund McMillen's mind, as the quirkiness of his first co-developed hit, Super Meat Boy, doesn't completely foreshadow the extreme (and somewhat glorious) infantile silliness of The Binding of Isaac, his second big hit (also co-developed). The game references Christianity in a very loose way that is sacrilegious to be sure, but so far removed from the source material that it's fairly inoffensive. Similarly, the game is also full of satanic references and scatological humor and fairly gory violence, but it's all so cartoony that it's entertaining rather than really disturbing.

The game is a roguelike that plays a lot like the 2D dungeons in the original Zelda games with the twin-stick shooting mechanics of games like Smash TV (in this game, the eponymous Isaac's tears serve as bullets). It's evolved from its humble Flash beginnings in 2011 and has been released in its "Rebirth" incarnation on all modern platforms. I played the Switch version, which includes all of the original's DLC, and apparently for Nintendo fans there are also 3DS and Wii U versions. The game is chock-full of items, although it's annoying that the game doesn't give you much information about how they work (although there are plenty of resources such as wikis to help you out online). Its level of difficulty is "old school" hard, but you can replay the same "seed" over and over again until you beat it rather than generating a different configuration every time. As with all roguelikes, because of the random generation some seeds are definitely going to be harder than others, and even the easier ones will take a fair amount of effort to beat. A large part of the game is learning enemies' behaviors and bosses' patterns, so your acccrued experience with the game does benefit you over time.

The game's extras take the form of daily challenges, unlockable characters with different abilities or handicaps, and extra floors with even harder bosses to challenge once you defeat "Mom", the first main boss. I started off not really liking the game much at first, but I got to like it much more as I got used to the mechanics and its unique aesthetics. It's kind of annoying having to look up the effects of everything, and a lot of them seem overly situational (i.e. not useful at all for a particular seed), but there's much more variety with the items than I had first expected. Because of the huge catalogue of items, there is a good amount of variety with the random generation, and a lot of replayability. I was happy to play a few seeds and move on, but I can see why fans return to the game over and over again. In the end I did have to tip my hat to the game and add it to my "greatest games of all time" for its unique personality, solid gameplay, and at times overwhelming number and variety of items. Not sure when I'll pick it up again, but it was definitely a memorable experience.

It should come as no surprise that even though I haven't been blogging, I've still been continuing to play Dance Dance Revolution games. I've been skipping around, so even though the last DDR game I blogged about was Dance Dance Revolution X, released on PlayStation 2 in 2008, I went back to where it all began, the original Dance Dance Revolution for PlayStation, which was the series' first North American home console release. I'd already played Konamix, the second PlayStation DDR game, and that one is based on the fourth arcade game's engine, whereas this one is based on the second arcade game's engine.

With that out of the way, there's actually not a whole more to say about this entry, even though it's the first North American home console release. The games in the DDR series are reliably consistent in terms of the gameplay (which, to be honest, doesn't change that much), and this game has some of the usual annoyances from these games. In particular, it's really annoying that you have to set the difficulty and scroll through all the songs every time you go into the main mode in order to get to the one you want, even if you just want to keep playing the same song continuously. Anyway, the difficulty can get pretty high (as in all the games), but the training mode is pretty much the same as always (i.e. pretty robust), so that definitely helps. Otherwise this is a solid DDR experience with a varied tracklisting and smooth gameplay, and you can't go wrong with even the first North American home console entry of a winning formula that has shown remarkable longevity. It's perhaps notable that this is the eleventh DDR game that I've blogged about, and that I'm looking forward to playing even more of them.

Dance more with these original Dance Dance Revolution links:
- GameFAQs has a nice (albeit not comprehensive) run-down of the DDR series.
- YouTube video with a nice preview of all the tracks in the game
- FAQs at GameFAQs