The Messenger was one of the flat-out best games of last year on any platform, so you can bet I’m excited to say it’s now received its first major expansion: The Messenger: Picnic Panic. It’s a free download available now over on the Nintendo eShop, and it offers all-new levels and ultra-challenging bosses.

The Messenger, for those who haven’t yet given it a go, is a hard-as-nails retro-enthused platformer where you play as a nimble ninja-type. After his village is besieged by an all-powerful demon, the young ninja heads out on a grand quest through a cursed world to deliver a mysterious scroll that could well be paramount to his clan’s continued survival.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a fairly straightforward homage to the likes of Ninja Gaiden, but, in reality, it offers an ever-expanding time-travelling adventure through a world of oddball characters and hellish bosses. The combat and platforming couldn’t possibly be any tighter, with the dynamic and acrobatic movement being an absolute joy to master.

As you progress, you’ll continue to unlock new abilities and upgrades that keep things fresh and exciting, and it all looks great to boot, with meticulously detailed 8-bit and 16-bit backgrounds, sprites, and animations. The soundtrack is also totally in keeping with the retro aesthetic, coming from acclaimed chiptune master Rainbowdragoneyes, who's composed 13 new tracks for Picnic Panic’s Voodkin Vacation playlist.

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The expansion brings the original game’s beloved characters together to explore three all-new levels – each culminating in its own hyper-challenging boss fight. I honestly can’t recommend The Messenger enough, and this new – free – DLC just makes it even more of a must-buy.

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