Despite being the product of some obvious pre-existing parts—Dragon Ball’s anime flair, Marvel Vs. Capcom’s frantic tag-team melees, and the skeleton of previous Arc System Works games—it comes together into what’s easily the best Dragon Ball game made in the series’ 32 years of existence and a great fighting game that’s as thrilling to watch as it is to play.
With the way Gold brings 15 years of WarioWare together and slathers them in new layers of weird, manic energy, it serves as a much-needed salute to this underrated, often genius series. More than that, it’s a fitting testament to the last 15 years of daring ideas and handheld consoles from Nintendo, an era that’s possibly coming to a close.
Even without embracing that duality, Celeste would be an exceptionally well-made platformer worthy of sitting alongside its titanic peers, but by caring to find the right amount of warmth to balance its barbs, it ends up standing up and taking a step ahead.
This is the first time in years it’s felt like one of these unfathomably expensive blockbusters is putting its weight into moving that field in a different direction rather than riffing on one of its standardized formulas, and it’s every bit as jolting as that Hydra fight was 13 years ago.
When you get down to it, this is a game with a cast of 35 characters, including two bears, three robots, a vampire, history's buffest grandpa, a dude from another game series who's now been inexplicably written into Tekken lore, a lady who throws tigers, and whatever the hell Yoshimitsu is. It's a flashy, delirious mess whose love for all that messiness is tangibly honest and infectious.
Mafia III's biggest problem, then, is that the stuff you actually do as Lincoln is mind-numbingly repetitive. He and his associates have put together a rigid strategy for taking down their enemies. You drive from point to point killing mooks and destroying property, then go back to a place you've already been to kill a more powerful mook, and when you do that enough, you're rewarded with a mission to kill an even more powerful mook in a unique environment, like a dilapidated racist theme park. These set pieces are a merciful break in the monotony, but they're rare and all devolve into the same run-and-gun festivities.
At nearly 20 hours worth of quests to undertake and wildlands to explore, that same tedium threatens to kick in, but there’s enough pathos in its stories and weirdness in its sights—one of the first things I did was talk my way into the bed of an old-world Hollywood starlet who’d shoved her brain into a robot body that looked like a trashcan on tank treads—to easily sustain that runtime.