Harvard looks back at the highlights that he played in 2023

This is one eclectic list!

7 mins read
DigitallyDownloaded.net reviews Theatrhythm Final Bar Line on Nintendo Switch

Next up from the DDNet team in looking back at the year that was, and looking forward to games in 2023 is Harvard!

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Vampire Survivors

This is a 2022 release that went massively viral, but I didn’t get the chance to try it until its Switch port in 2023. In the space of two hours, I went from “I wonder what the big deal is” to “I will never derive satisfaction from anything else again”. It’s a simple concept – a top down roguelite with automated attacks, randomly dropped upgrades and massive clumps of enemies. All the player can even do is move around and select what upgrades they want. But, as a game which delivers the dopamine from watching big numbers get bigger, Vampire Survivors is unparalleled. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a game where the end goal is having a character so overpowered that the game plays itself, and yet, the full experience is just so satisfying.

Warioware: Move It!

A screenshot from WarioWare: Move It!

Does anyone remember that their right Joy-Con has an infra-red camera on the back? Warioware remembers. Aside from the bizarre 1-2 Switch and some designs from Nintendo Labo, I can’t think of any other game that has pushed the physical Joy-Con functionalities as much as Warioware: Move It. Nintendo’s consoles have always included a slew of features that feel somewhat randomly tacked on, but it’s perfectly suited for Warioware which serves up microgames that thrive on variety, unpredictability and chaos. The design is pretty much unchanged from Warioware Smooth Moves on the Wii, but now the designers can plan around each player always having two separate controllers, leading to some of the most creative microgames in the series. Throw in a minigame where players can earn an extra life by doing a silly pose, and you have a game perfect for parties with your most shameless group of friends.

Kuru Kuru Kururin

Kuru Kuru Kururin

This is an amazing game which, if not for the Nintendo Switch Online Virtual Console, I might never have been discovered or talked about. Kuru Kuru Kururin is an action-puzzle game developed by Eighting and published by Nintendo, released as a launch title for the Game Boy Advance. The gameplay is simply navigating an always-rotating bar (actually a very impractical spaceship) through a maze of obstacles in a race against the clock. Back in the day, the Game Boy Advance had plenty of launch titles and soon took off in popularity, leaving a niche game like this lost amongst the more exciting offerings at the physical game store. Times were different back then, people only bought one game every couple of months, for a game like Kuru Kuru Kururin which didn’t even have a character on the box art, it was too big a risk to choose over something more notable like the latest Pokemon. It takes the Switch Online service to reveal the brilliance behind this one – the well crafted and generous helping of levels, the constant desire to eke out a better score – and something perfectly suited to short play sessions too? So many times this year I wasn’t sure what to play, but I kept coming back to Kuru Kuru Kururin.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Review 2

Now for a really neat, genuinely good game which doesn’t derive its enjoyment from trolling the player, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is exactly what it says on the tin. Push buttons synced to Final Fantasy songs. It was great on the 3DS, the sequel, also on the 3DS was also great, and it’s great on the Switch. Not only does the Final Fantasy series have so much incredible music, but it’s one of the only long running franchises that consistently ties its narrative and emotional weight to the specific composition of its songs. Playing Theatrhythm is a perfect nostalgia trip through the Final Fantasy series, without the tedium of level grinding, dungeoneering or lightning-bolt-dodging.

Yeah! You Want “Those Games,” Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let’s See You Clear Them!

Oh, you thought I was going to start talking about normal games now? No! Developed by Monkeycraft Co. Ltd, Yeah! You Want “Those Games,” Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let’s See You Clear Them! is a parody of those terrible ads for fake mobile games that show a player just barely missing out on succeeding an easy puzzle. “You can do better, right?” the ad asks, knowing you can, and then linking you to an exploitative mess of a “game” that’s nothing like what the ad promises. Yeah! You Want “Those Games,” Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let’s See You Clear Them! actually delivers the games that bait players in the first instance. To no one’s surprise, “Those Games” absolutely suck. But after cumulative hours of watching “Those Games” get failed by painfully incompetent players, having Monkeycraft Co. Ltd pat me on the head for every success is just what I needed in the difficult year that was 2023.

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