Utterly addictive and packed to the brim with what is currently months' worth of content - with years' more of it guaranteed in regular updates - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn absolutely deserves taking that leap for both MMO and Final Fantasy fans alike. Just be prepared for something very different if not coming from an MMO background, and to say goodbye to whatever free time there once was.
Taking the smooth and free-flowing gameplay of Muramasa and Dragon's Crown, Vanillaware has reinvigorated one of the PS2's late and great RPG-brawlers into something even more spectacular for modern systems. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is more than just a pretty picture; it has some of the finest, fluid and rewarding beat 'em up gameplay of any game, spread amongst five delightfully varying characters that tell a thoroughly engaging story. The challenge has definitely been lowered, but the unlockable difficulties and new Boss Rush mode are punishing and more than make up for it. With the original version included, this is the best of both worlds of Odin Sphere, and is absolutely worth the asking price.
Over 25 years of history is crammed into Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, and it is a marked improvement over the first game. Owners of the original won't find too much different, but online versus mode in itself, plus the substantial increase in the number of songs and characters is enough to dip on this sequel. Bursting at the seams with nostalgia, Curtain Call is a game no one Final Fantasy fan can afford to pass on.
No touch or motion controls that don't always do what is asked of them; no microphone gimmicks to blow hundreds of times into incredibly infuriating wind instruments; no involuntary hand-holding that removes the need to explore and continuously breaks up the flow of the game—A Link Between Worlds is the very definition of what classic top-down Legend of Zelda games should always be about. It is clear that 2D Zelda thrives and is at its ultimate best when it sticks to its roots, and A Link Between Worlds does exactly that, and more. This is the return to form that long-time fans have been wishing for in the classic 2D format for the Zelda franchise for many years; it is the greatest entry in a very long time.
Factoring both packs into the overall package that makes up Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone, there is very little to fault in this true arcade rhythm experience. Clocking in at 224 songs strong, the sheer number of tracks is incredible, and the fact so many of them are fantastically addictive is icing on the cake.
If you have ever been turned off Metroidvanias for their tendency to prove too confusing or challenging, or pined for a larger focus on plot, Iconoclasts is the answer. By relegating the heavy exploration side of the popular genre in favour of driving a captivating narrative and characters to the forefront, Joakim Sandberg has crafted a 2D adventure that comes out as one of the most entertaining of the year, and certainly in the genre as a whole. Don't sleep on this.
Both games still hold up well today, and, at the very least, Final Fantasy X alone can make this compilation worth the purchase, especially now it is portable on Nintendo Switch. Although this edition of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster isn't as graphically impressive as other ports and is missing the PC boosters, it remains a highlight of the franchise and shouldn't go missed. Unskippable cut-scenes in this day and age is a huge negative, though!
It is often the case that a great little game will spring up out of nowhere, and that's definitely the situation here with Red Phantom Games' Minutes. Simple to play but very addictive, and challenging but rarely frustrating, Minutes delivers quick-burst, hectic puzzle-action gameplay with enough to come back to on a daily basis. It is well worth the money, and it will be good to see just what else the studio comes out with in the future after this great first independent project.