Like a dashing Chocobo, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth continues the momentum started by Final Fantasy VII Remake by improving on its predecessor in every way. As a sequel, it doesn’t quite have that revolutionary sense of newness that Remake initially wowed audiences with. But what it has is an even more fleshed-out experience with tons of exploration, oodles of extra content and an even more polished combat system. Add a compelling narrative that honors and adds to the original story and you have a game that hits all the right spots for longtime fans while also reintroducing the Final Fantasy VII story to a new generation of players.
Like Akihiko Sanada, fans who have been waiting for this remake will be happy to know that Persona 3 Reload definitely does the original game justice while also adding improvements for a new generation of JRPG fans. P3 Reload rebuilds the game completely from the ground up, emulating the modern look of the last two franchise entries while also improving the turn-based combat. Admittedly, the repetitive Tartarus dungeons don’t quite stack up to Persona 5’s palaces and the game is also missing some content like the epilogue from P3 FES and the female protagonist from P3 Portable. Overall, however, Persona 3 Reload is another worthy addition to the franchise.
Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless is a much welcome addition to the long-running franchise, polishing up some of the new but at times shaky concepts from its predecessor while also paying homage to some of the classic stuff that made the series great. The 3D models, while still a work in progress, have gotten better and the soundtrack is among the best in the series. If you love tactical RPGs and the anime-inspired art style, Disgaea 7 is a great addition to your gaming library.
Crymachina is a game with a cool concept and engaging story that starts out quite promising. Its interesting narrative and solid combat, however, is ultimately tempered by its linear dungeon design and repetitive gameplay. It’s not a bad game, though, and is actually quite fun when it’s hitting on all cylinders. In fact, some might find it worth playing for its world building alone.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio delivers another winner in its long-running Yakuza franchise with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The characters that anchor the story remain compelling and the turn-based combat is one of the best modern implementations of the classic system. Admittedly, the switch from the series’ traditional brawling can be polarizing. The decision to lock New Game+ behind the game’s special additions is also concerning. Overall, however, Infinite Wealth is a worthy addition to the series’ rich history.
The King of Iron Fist Tournament makes a triumphant return in Tekken 8 with its familiar bone-crunching gameplay combined with some tweaks to help make it feel fresh. The story about the not-so-well-adjusted Mishima family continues to convey some high drama although the individual character episodes can be a bit hit or miss. The addition of Arcade Quest and Simple Style controls also makes the game much more accessible to newcomers and more casual players. All in all, Tekken 8 is one of the best games to come out from the franchise to date.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is a tale of two games. The storytelling remains a strong point and is what keeps you playing. The combat, however, is a bit vanilla and the exploration drags the overall experience down. Fans of the series will still want to play it for the story, characters and world building. Newcomers, however, might feel differently.
The Resident Evil 4 remake brings new life to a classic for series veterans while introducing what’s arguably the best Resident Evil game to a new generation of players. It takes an already great game and makes it even better with plenty of polish and quality-of-life improvements. Some might decry that extra polish and feel it sanitizes some of the tension from the original experience. It also doesn’t have the same groundbreaking feel that the original had for its time. For people who want a modern take on a great classic, however, Resident Evil 4 is a remake done right.
Star Ocean: The Second Story R takes a beloved classic and makes it even better with visual, audio and gameplay improvements while still keeping the spirit of the original. Some of the quality of life changes can take away the sense of discovery from the original and also make it easier to break the game. Overall, though, the changes make an already great game even better while bringing it back and remaking it for a new generation. It’s the definitive version of Star Ocean: The Second Story for sure.
Everybody 1-2 Switch! is a party game with promise that’s ultimately brought down by uneven execution. It has some fun games such as Hip Bump but falls short otherwise due to the bulk of its games being centered around mundane tasks. It can still be fun as a family game played with little kids. For teens and adults, however, the gameplay likely isn’t compelling enough to hold their attention for an extended amount of time.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is Exhibit A of Nintendo at its best. From its flashy new features to its attention to the little details, the game is an example of the kind of well-crafted and polished game that we’ve come to expect from the company over the years. Does it supplant Super Mario World as the best Mario 2D game ever? That’s a tough question to answer but I will say that it certainly comes pretty close. It’s definitely the best 2.5D Mario game to date and is a no-brainer not just for Mario lovers but video game lovers in general.
Super Mario RPG for Switch is an excellent remake of the SNES original that reimagines the classic for today’s audiences. It does a great job of modernizing the game and adding new features to freshen things up for fans while keeping the feel and spirit of the original game. Parts of the Super Mario RPG remake can feel dated and it can also be short and linear like its source material. Overall, though, this is a wonderful homage to the original game that should please JRPG fans.
Armored Core VI is the perfect example of tough love. I’ve lost track of how many times I thought a boss or stage was impossible before ultimately figuring things out, whether it be via a new build or simply learning boss patterns. I understand that Armored Core VI can feel too hard and unfair at times. But if you stick with it, you just might be surprised with what you’re capable of.
For a game with many flaws, Exoprimal has no business being this fun. From seesawing PVP encounters to large boss raids toward endgame, Exoprimal serves up plenty of dino-blasting fun once the game’s full experience opens up. The question is whether players make it that far. Thanks to an underwhelming early game that has you playing the same repetitive scenarios for hours, I wouldn’t be surprised if many folks quit early. If you do play it, do try to stick till the end. You just might be pleasantly surprised.
Final Fantasy XVI represents a major change in the Final Fantasy formula, thanks to a switch to full-bore action as well as the focus on a single playable character. It’s a switch that can be polarizing for sure but it also opens up all sorts of new possibilities for the franchise. Admittedly, the narrative, while compelling, can lose focus at times. The action, though, is quite good and the music remains top notch Final Fantasy. If you’ve never tried a Final Fantasy game before, Final Fantasy XVI is arguably the most accessible Final Fantasy game to date for newcomers.
With a “yuge” playable cast and homages aplenty to past games, Trails Into Reverie represents a love letter to fans of the Trails series. Admittedly, the large cast can be a bit challenging to manage and the decision to split the story into three playable parts also makes the game feel less cohesive. It also isn’t the most newcomer friendly game and is better enjoyed by those who have played the previous games. The combat, however, remains a great example of classic turn-based battling and the production values are also quite improved. It’s a nice bookend to the Crossbell and Erebonia arcs overall.
R-Type Final 3 Evolved is a solid take on the classic, side-scrolling shmup formula popularized by games such as Gradius and the old R-Type games. Admittedly, the naming is a bit confusing as this is essentially an expanded version of R-Type Final 2 as opposed to a new sequel. This makes it great for folks who don’t own the previous game but a bit of a pricey proposition for players who already paid for R-Type Final 2. It would have been nice to give such players the option to just get the seven new stages via DLC instead of having to re-buy a whole new version of the game again.
Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord is a spinoff that’s a bit of an odd duck in the Fairy Fencer F series. It tries to do some things differently by opting for a completely different battle system. At the same time, it doesn’t continue the story of the previous games and essentially does a creative retelling of the already existing narrative instead. The result is a game that will likely confuse series fans and newcomers alike. It’s a shame as Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force already did a great job in retelling the first game. For fans looking for a true sequel, however, they’ll just have to wait for now.
Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook is a game with a brilliant recipe that falls a bit short due to a lack of ingredients. The idea of a roguelike tactical RPG based on cooking is certainly an intriguing one, especially the concept of being able to devour friend and foe alike. Unfortunately, the absence of a compelling story as well as the game’s repetitive levels and foes leave Monster Menu tasting somewhat undercooked. It’s not bad but it isn’t a dish that will be suitable for everyone either.
Dom Toretto famously said “I don't have friends, I have family” in the Fast and Furious movies. Apparently, Toretto has never played Dokapon Kingdom: Connect with family members. Cutthroat trolling returns in this remaster of the classic party game from 2007 as you sabotage former friends and family members on your way to the top. Dokapon Kingdom: Connect extends the party from your couch to online as well with new online play. Solo play remains a bit boring and the visuals are admittedly looking a bit dated. Get several folks together, however, and you’ll be set for hours of plotting, conniving and backstabbing. Machiavelli would be proud.