I hope Nexomon continues to perform well and grow from here. The developers really do have an opportunity to take what they've done across the first two titles and build it into "the alternative Pokémon", especially considering that both Yokai Watch and Dragon Quest Monsters seem to be on the wane. Nexomon isn't quite the game that its (console) predecessor is, but it's still a warm, comfortable, and amusing experience, and while it can be frustrating at times to try and catch all 300+ monsters on offer, they're so ultra-cute that you'll do it - and love it - anyway.
If you exclusively follow the main narrative then you’ll find that in Lost Judgment, Ryu Ga Gatoku Studio has delivered something every bit as compelling and interesting as anything Raymond Chandler ever wrote. The central crime story is a riveting and often uncomfortably poignant reflection on society (and also Japan’s legal system). If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in more Yakuza-style zany side-styles and a deep collection of highly playable mini-games, the Lost Judgment has you covered there, too. I can’t see how anyone could fail to love this game.
Elsewhere on DigitallyDownloaded.net, I'm doing a series on games that I'm still playing ten years later. In that series, I highlight games that I don't necessarily think are the greatest works of art of all time, but I'm still coming back to them for having a rare quality that makes them endure. BloodRayne Betrayal is in some ways the opposite. While it was never one of the greatest games of all time, back when it was new it was a standout example of what would become the future; the ability for mid-tier and independent video games to flourish, free of the absolute reliance on the retail system. Ten years on, however, the game is no longer a standout, and while it is still absolutely beautiful, there are now dozens of games vying for the same headspace as BloodRayne, and it's not going to win over anyone. There's still a game in there that can delight, but it is a lot of work to align yourself with the vision now.
Monster Train does indeed deserve to be noticed; it's the epitome of something that is better than it looks. Underneath that blandly homogenised aesthetic and equally bland promise of yet more roguelike lies a game that offers players some deep, invigorating, challenging and rewarding turn-based strategy. You may well find this one very difficult to put down.
The developers have done everything they can with HIX, and what they've done is fine. This is a perfectly adequate, competent, enjoyable puzzler that, like the best of the genre, takes a simple concept and gets you thinking as you play. Not thinking too hard, since this is meant to be relaxing and calming, but thinking just enough to feel smart at figuring out the solutions. The execution is a little bland and 101, though, and that means, just like the $2 puzzle book, you're not going to remember having ever played it a year from now. As to whether that's worth the price of admission when there are so many other high-quality games being released on the Switch... well, that one depends on how much you enjoy time-wasting puzzle books, really.
I don't have much else to say about Moonshades. You know if you're the target market for it or not just by looking at it. If you are, then aside from some cumbersome controls and a generally generic approach to the genre, Moonshades is a perfectly decent effort that will scratch an itch. If you're a more peripheral fan of the 'crawler, or new to it all, I'd recommend something like Operencia or Hyakki Castle first. Both of those titles are far more vivid and creative efforts. Without a long history in 'crawlers yourself, unfortunately, Moonshades will likely be befuddling.
The inconsistency of these two underground classics might make the compilation facade seem like a wasted opportunity, but being realistic here, both of the two titles in the Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 1 would not have got a release without being bundled together in this gimmick. Whether you have fond memories of having played either, or simply never had the chance to previously, you'll find quickly that both games represent a creative energy that we rarely see these days, and in both cases the experimentation largely works. You're not likely to see anything like these two again, so don't miss the opportunity.
For a homage to a game from the 80's, faithfully recreating a gameplay system that was invented 40 years ago, Pretty Girls Panic! feels like a modern, funky game. The anime aesthetic is gorgeous and current, although the developers really should have done something about the quality of the sprites, and the fussy outlines from the relatively low resolution of those sprites are unforgivable given that they are the entire hook behind the game. There are also not that many stages, but with that said Pretty Girls Panic! also has plenty of replay value and an excellent leaderboard system for such a minimal price. Most compelling of all, though, is the fact that the game is an uncomplicated and well-done take on Qix. Qix is the kind of game that doesn't need developers to mess around with it, and to the great credit of Pretty Girls Panic!'s developer, they've let the base game stand for itself.
Kitaria Fables is a warm, genuine delight. It’s not trying to tell you something deep about the world. Nor is it looking to spark debates over hard modes or subversion. It’s not aiming to challenge, belittle, insult or offend. The game’s just there to give people of all ages a chance to go on fun little quests together, as adorable little animals, with a garden of veggie delights to look forward to coming back to. It might just be the sweetest and most innocent Rune Factory or Harvest Moon I’ve come across, and that’s really saying something, since this entire "genre", such as it is, is entirely built up around wholesomeness.