At a certain point you have to step back and judge a game for what it is rather than what it isn’t. After all, if you want the female protagonist there’s Portable, and if you want the epilogue there’s FES. But as a stand-alone thing – as a convenient, modern, and attractive way to experience a truly great RPG classic – Persona 3 Reload is a wonderful offering.
Your mileage with WarioWare: Move It will inevitably vary. What do you want from this game? If you want the classic microgames experience, it isn’t really here. If you want a killer multiplayer game to play with the family over the holiday season (assuming everyone is able-bodied), it’ll be ideal. I can’t wait to play this more with friends. But I don’t see any reason to boot it on my own again any time soon.
In its core mission, Sonic Superstars is successful. It recreates the foundation of 2D Sonic – some of the finest platformers ever made – well. Unfortunately, the new elements layered atop that are rather hit-or-miss. I personally don’t think this is anywhere near as good as Mania. But it’s good. In fact, it’s good enough that I expect fan debate about which game is superior to be fairly heated – which is a sure-fire sign that Sega is on the right track.
That mood is one that brings together both established and new ideas to create a Pikmin that is, I think, absolutely the most well-rounded title in the series. It takes a series that for its second and third entries I appreciated but didn’t love - and brings back that adoration. It’s a revitalizing sequel - though also exactly the sort of entry that’ll be difficult to follow.
But it’s not that simple. It never is. In FF16, Clive, Cid, and the others ultimately derive their power from the same mysterious origins as the crystals themselves. To complete their objective, they need the very thing they seek to destroy. And so too does FF16 need that history, those traditions, leveraging some even as it drives a dagger through others. That is the duality of the game. A dichotomy at the heart of its structure, its triumphs, and its failures alike. It’s a fascinating piece of work, a wholly imperfect but nevertheless enthralling experience.
All that matters at the time of writing is the launch experience, though. Minecraft Legends is gorgeous-looking, and is thrilling in how it presents the Minecraft world from another angle. It also has a solid backbone for a captivating RTS. It just doesn’t go far enough, however - and the final result is a game that struggled to hold my attention the deeper in I got. It’ll be decent Game Pass fodder - but I can’t help but feel like this should’ve been so much more. It certainly won’t be for everyone, though I expect Minecraft-obsessed kids to have a blast regardless.
Octopath Traveler 2 is on balance still superior to its predecessor in more or less every way. It has a denser world with more to do, is the best-looking HD-2D game to date, and smartly addresses a number of complaints from the original. By the same token, however, it’s a shame that other problems from that game remain an issue here - and hold this back from greatness. I wish it’d been a little braver and gone a little further - but a safe sequel to a good game is - surprise - also very good.
As a fan of older Fire Emblem and strategy games in general, I was thrilled to see the depth of combat and the level to which you can make battling your absolute focus. That’s still true even if Engage doesn’t quite get the balance in its execution right in a way that might put a small subset of Three Houses lovers off.
Repackaged into one of the sharpest Remaster releases I’ve ever seen, it’s a relatively irresistible package - warts and all. The blemishes upon its carefully airbrushed visage are, in many ways, part of the charm. This is a joyous little time capsule of 2000s Square - and perhaps a curious aperitif before Remake part 2. It’s easy to recommend.
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet is more than the sum of its parts. Those parts include the woeful performance and optimization problems, which are a real drag – but much of the rest of the title soars so high that it does go a long way to make one ignore them, after a fashion.
Lego Bricktales is a breath of fresh air, and a tremendous surprise. It’s not the longest experience in the world – but I loved every minute of it, and still feel compelled to go back and improve some of my less satisfying builds. Tricky controls be damned – it’s a low-key game of the year contender.
Where Octopath was fairly heavily promoted by Nintendo, however, it does feel like Diofield has been tossed into the ocean of the market to sink or swim. It’s the sort of game that probably doesn’t float very easily, either. It’s the sort of product that requires some marketing-shaped buoyancy aids. It was never going to cruise to success - and now I fear it never will. But it’s worth a look – and hopefully its ideas will go forward in other future projects. They’re certainly worth revisiting.