Mass Effect, VR Star Trek and Zelda spearhead March's best new games
If January and February were the tutorial levels for 2017, March is kicking things off with the first boss fight. The Nintendo Switch is so close our fingers are getting twitchy, and while the launch lineup is the smallest we can remember for a console, there are a couple of gems in there that could justify a day one purchase. That said, Mass Effect: Andromeda could tear you away from it for 30-odd hours of bad guy-blasting and crew-romancing.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Platform: Switch, Wii U
Due: March 3
After years of delays, it's finally here, and from our brief hands-on session, it seems like the wait will have been worth it. Simultaneously the last big hurrah for the Wii U and the first for the Switch, Link's latest outing drops the player into the biggest and most free-roamable version of Hyrule yet, and lets them tackle the dungeons in any order.
Due: March 3
The Switch's answer to Wii Sports, 1-2-Switch feels like a playful tech demo of the new hardware – particularly the surprisingly-powerful haptics system. The five mini-games we played back in January were fun enough, but we're not sure their appeal will last too long, and considering it's not a pack-in title but a full-price purchase, it felt like a big ask. But what we didn't know at the time was that 1-2-Switch features not five, but 28 mini-games, which goes a long way towards making that price tag a bit easier to swallow.
Super Bomberman R
Due: March 3
Nothing too complicated here, just basic Bomberman gameplay exactly as you remember it. Up to eight players blast their way through mazes, picking up new abilities and bombs and fighting to be the last one standing. There's a story mode for one or two players as well, but that's not the main draw: that hectic multiplayer combat is perfect for the Switch, and the simple controls mean each player only needs a single Joy-Con to jump in.
Due: March 3
Before our hands-on time with the Switch, we knew nothing about this game, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the scant lineup. Snipperclips is a simple puzzle game for two players, where, as paper characters, you work together to snip and clip each other into the shapes needed to get through each stage. The release date was a bit murky for a while, but Nintendo has just confirmed that it'll be ready on the console's launch day.
Platform: PS4, PC
Due: March 7
It's a pretty niche JRPG that a lot of people might not look twice at, but the original Nier earned itself a cult following that's pretty excited about a follow-up. And with Platinum Games at the helm, the melee combat looks decidedly Bayonetta-flavored, which is definitely a good thing. PC players will have to wait a little longer though: March 7 is the PS4 release date, but the developers are yet to announce when it'll come to other platforms.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Platform: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR
Due: March 14
VR is in dire need of some killer apps, and one where you and three other players sit in on the bridge of a starship sounds pretty killer to us. (Though whether that makes it a killer app/game remains to be seen.) Taking the roles of either the captain, helm officer, engineer or tactical officer, each player has their own control panel and set duties, and you'll need to bark orders and info at each other to keep the ship intact while finding a new homeworld for the Vulcans.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Due: March 21
For those who aren't jumping on the Switch bandwagon, this month's big release is the fourth entry in the Mass Effect franchise. Players take the role of Ryder, a Pathfinder aboard a huge Ark ship sent from the Milky Way to the neighboring Andromeda galaxy who is tasked with finding a new home for the human race. With a more open-world approach to level design, Bioware has bragged that each planet you'll visit during the main story is bigger than the entirety of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Dialogue is said to be more nuanced now, blurring the morality lines. Instead of the clear "good guy/bad guy" options of the original trilogy, you choose whether you agree or disagree with another character, and do so in emotional, rational, professional or casual tones. Combat, which was always the dullest part of the series, has also had a tune-up, and now looks like it'll hold its own, with a wider range of weapons and abilities at your disposal.
PaRappa the Rapper Remastered
Due: March 28
One of the original PlayStation's weirdest games, PaRappa the Rapper apparently has enough of a cult following to deserve an HD remaster. The titular rap-happy dog was ahead of the curve for rhythm games, with the sickness of his beats determined by how well you press a given button in time. It might be a fun dose of 90s nostalgia, but it mostly feels like an appetizer for another PS1-era reboot – a certain bandicoot's comeback is due in June.
The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
This dark, twisted twin-stick shooter is one of our all-time favorite indie games, and the full package with both expansions is coming to the Switch sometime in March. Chased into the basement by his mother, whose religious psychosis tells her to sacrifice him to her God, Isaac fights through rooms full of mutants and monsters with a unique weapon: his own tears. With levels randomly generated every time you play, there are so many items to find and secrets to unlock that it can take literally hundreds of hours to "finish" the game – with suits the Switch's portability to a tee.
Is the Switch worth a day one purchase? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.