Super Bullet Break is an easy-going, easy-playing thing, great for short bursts of play in-between the many bigger games we’re getting dropped on us at the moment. There’s a lot of value in that kind of experience, and when it’s backed up with some excellent fan service and highly replayable mechanics, it’s a game that you’re going to keep coming back to as a time filler over the long term.
There’s not much else to say about Coromon. However you slice it, you’re ultimately getting a slavish homage to the early-era Pokémon games, but one that can’t get anywhere near their quality. Coromon is let down by having even fewer monsters to collect than the very first Pokémon, and some amateurish production values and gameplay design that Game Freak, for all its faults with the presentation of its own games, would never let happen. It’s still fun, because it’s so akin to Pokémon that of course it’s fun, but Coromon’s immediate rival, Nexomon (also available on Switch), actually tries to subvert some of the expectations of the genre, and comes off as the most interesting work as a consequence.
Nonetheless, this is a profoundly effective game. Digimon has always pushed a little harder than Pokémon to actually spin a meaningful story around the property, and Digimon Survive is not the first time the series has flirted with darker material. Thanks to excellently-flawed characters, clean tactical combat, and an eclectic but interesting blend of genres, Digimon Survive stands out as one of the most different and creative JRPGs you’ll play this year. This, of course, is exactly what we like to see at DigitallyDownloaded.net.
There are things that you need to be critical of in Sword and Fairy: Together Forever. The game hasn’t been made to the same precision as the upper echelons of RPGs out of Japan and the West, and that is undeniable. But then Together Forever has the singular advantage of being one of the few Chinese RPGs that we get to play, and that makes it distinctive, different, and worthy on its own merits. Add in incredible art direction (oh how I love Yue), and a gorgeous combat system, and we’ve got perhaps the most interesting RPG of 2022 here. I really hope people don’t overlook it.
Dark Alliance II is an excellent way to spend some time and a game that, in its vinyl vintage years, continues to be entertaining for reasons beyond nostalgia. If you’re looking for a “Diablo-like” with some interesting level design, a streamlined and efficient approach to questing, and some great water effects (seriously), then you’ll get a good run out of this one.
Bright Memory: Infinite doesn’t waste time. It goes in, gives you a hell of a time, and then ducks out before it has the chance to overstay its welcome. I hope the developer isn’t done from here, as I’d love to see more of Bright Memory (and Shelia!) in the future. In the meantime, this big action, relentless energy and visually spectacular experience is a true rollercoaster thrill-ride, and is worth every cent on the admission ticket.
Taken by itself, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a spectacular example of an epic JRPG. Yes, the combat system is a little too overcooked for its own good, but the developer holds your hand nicely so that by the 40th hour the explosion of numbers, flashy attacks, and intertwined systems somehow makes sense. Aside from that, though, it’s a game that, for its size, is one of elegance and maturity. And that’s when you take it by itself. Philosophical, humorous, emotional, dramatic and always entertaining, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is going to be better remembered not for being its own entity, but rather like the third chapter in any great trilogy; as the perfect escalation of over a decade of storytelling to an enormously satisfying and appropriately epic conclusion.
The passage of time can sometimes be kind to classic games. Where Klonoa was once compared unfavourably to the far more “innovative” platformers that were doing the rounds, perhaps now it can be judged on its own merits instead, and while neither of the two Klonoa games are especially flashy or spectacular, the subtle and nuanced whimsy that sits at their core offers a particularly potent foil to the self-seriousness that far too many modern games – even platformers – express. Whether you’re replaying these for nostalgia or discovering them for the first time, Klonoa’s going to win you over with this collection.
I realise this is a pretty short review by my standards for the JRPG genre, but there really isn’t much else to say about Live A Live; this is a quirky and fundamentally experimental JRPG that in many ways remains out there on its own. The chapter-based approach to simple (but enjoyable) narratives that take place across time and space allows for an experience that is both varied and flexible. Throw in the most excellent application of HD-2D art for the remake, and the fact that this is the first time this game has had a formal release in the west, and Live A Live is an essential experimental title for the curious and those that enjoy playing things that are genuinely different.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with mobile games ported to console – I’ve played a number of good ones myself. However, Pascal’s Wager is the wrong kind of mobile port. In a genre that demands precision, responsiveness and a clarity of vision, this is a bungled mess of janky, unresponsive controls, shoddy presentation, and little meaningful thought put into why the game even exists. As such, it is the perfect example of every mistake to avoid when making these things.
I guess the big question here is whether Warriors Orochi 3’s appeal lies purely in nostalgia or if there’s something in there for people who have come to the franchise more recently. I think this is probably the best way to put it: if you’re a more recent starter to the Warriors formula, you’ll probably find Warriors Orochi 3 a little archaic, unrefined and mechanically simplistic. However, if you’re in any way curious about what the Warriors games used to be like, then this is the one to play. It’s an all-time classic within a series that has had something like 100 iterations over the years, and it’s good that the Ultimate Definitive Edition exist on PC, because Koei Tecmo’s effort on this one deserves to be accessible and remembered.
Then again, you’re not playing the pretty boys game for the leaderboard glory. You’re playing it for the pretty boys, and eastasiasoft has delivered to the same standard as the predecessor. I hope these games have been enough of a success for them to encourage more down the track, because the diversity in raw, unmitigated thirst is appreciated, and I would like to see the series break out of little casual puzzle games so they can fully run with that. Let’s talk about taking these great characters you’ve got and their potential for a visual novel, EAS. I’m up for it if you are.
I’m sure that there are people out there that have fond memories of Zero Tolerance and will appreciate having the collection available on modern consoles. Far be it for me to criticise the developer and publisher for preserving more niche art like this. However, beyond being a curiosity of the era and something worth experiencing, briefly, for people who are interested in the history of video games, there’s no modern entertainment value to Zero Tolerance. Once, it was probably impressive. Today, it’s impossible to have any tolerance for it whatsoever (yep, of course I wasn’t going to resist the temptation to make that pun).
These are indie developers and they have captured the basics of the “princess marker” hyper-niche genre. They just needed to focus a little more on presentation and storytelling technique (unless your Yoko Taro, you’re probably not in a position to be writing in abrupt and bad endings without giving players some inkling that one might be coming up), and Long Live The Queen could have been something truly great.
That being said, if Matchpoint Tennis had just thrown the occasional loss at me, or even let me fight back from behind at times, I would have spent so much more time playing the game. It’s unfortunate to think that here we have a tennis game that developers should be paying close attention to, because it gets so much right, and we know that won’t happen because one critical error means I have no choice but to score it the way I have. If, down the track, there’s a patch to improve the difficulty in an interesting way, then Matchpoint would be the best tennis game currently available, purely because the on-court gameplay actually gets it.
Gamedec isn’t quite a masterpiece, but it’s a clever and noble attempt to do a non-combat RPG. The cyberpunk and noir themes will never get old, and the complex decision trees invite multiple play-throughs and approaches to the mystery. It’s certainly a game that shouldn’t be overlooked.
There are multiple endings, but you’ll breeze through everything that Perfect Gold has to offer in around five hours. The game doesn’t have anything particularly profound to say, but the combination of coming-of-age and romance does come across as sweet and wholesome. This might not be a game that you exactly remember, but the earnestness of it is charming and you’ll have a big smile on your face as you play.
Much like the Street Fighter collection before it, Capcom Fighting Collection is a truly stand-out effort to preserve not only the games that were included in the collection, but the artistry and stories behind them. You don’t even need to be a fan of the fighting genre to appreciate just how valuable this approach is to retro compilations… and the unfortunate downside to this effort is that it makes every other retro compilation seem so pedestrian by comparison.
There’s not much else I can say about St. Dinfna Hotel. If you’ve played horror games then you know what you’ll be getting from this one. If you haven’t played many horror games in the past then the clumsiness of the combat, and the lack of assistance through the puzzles, makes this a poor entry point to the genre. Indeed, if you’re not familiar with the classic horror titles St. Dinfna is in homage to, the entire experience is almost pointless. I do think the developers have talent and passion for the genre, and I hope that this is successful so they can get a second run at it. If they do, all they need is to have their own voice and the confidence to add to the genre, rather than parrot it, and I do think they have it within them to create something special.