The Alliance Alive HD Remastered brings back the 3DS JRPG to home consoles with improved graphics. It’s a bit on the short side for an RPG and doesn’t really add much for folks who have played it before. At the same time, its nice story, likable cast of characters and classic gameplay make this a great title for JRPG lovers, especially those who never got a chance to play the original.
Doraemon and farming? Sign me up! Doraemon: Story of Seasons adds a fresh take on the farming series with the addition of characters from the popular Japanese manga and anime. The introductory tutorial is a bit of a slog and the game admittedly has a slow deliberate pace as do most farming games. Nevertheless, it has lots of stuff for you to do while oozing plenty of charm. Give it a shot if you love Doraemon and farming games to boot.
After punting on a campaign mode in BLOPS4, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare represents a welcome return to form for a franchise that appeared to be on a downward trend. The more deliberate pace for multiplayer, especially for Ground War mode, might feel clunky to folks who prefer more fast-paced action. This one, however, feels more like a complete game than its predecessor. It still might not be the best COD ever for a lot of folks. But it’s certainly the best COD in quite some time, especially if you’ve been disappointed by games such as Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 represents a positive step forward for the franchise. The more fleshed-out story mode makes it feel more like a complete game and the retro events add an extra dose of fun and whimsy to the title. Admittedly, events can be hit-or-miss and the campaign can feel a bit fetchy at times. Overall, however, Mario & Sonic 2020 feels like a breath of fresh air for a franchise that was feeling a bit stale in recent years. It’s arguably the best game in the family-friendly Olympics series to date.
Astral Chain is everything that’s right about Platinum, reflecting the fresh, quirky, gunslinging mentality that the studio displays in its best works. Part Bayonetta and part Pokemon with a heavy sprinkling of police sci-fi in between, Astral Chain is a breath of fresh air in an industry typically dominated by sequels and familiar formulas. Free time sections could be a bit more dialed down and the Legion combat can be a handful at times. Overall, though, Astral Chain marks a promising start to what will hopefully be a new franchise.
Contra is one of my favorite video game series of all time. Which makes giving Contra: Rogue Corps a low score extra painful for me. I really wanted this game to do well. But while it has some good ideas, they’re pretty much buried in an avalanche of poor gameplay decisions. From overheating guns to poor camera angles, playing Rogue Corps feels like you’re fighting the game a lot of times instead of the aliens inside it. I just hope it doesn’t spell the death knell for a franchise I love so much.
Daemon X Machina is a solid game that boasts a great foundation but could use just a bit more polish in some areas. While I appreciate that it at least tries to craft an intriguing narrative instead of just putting in a throwaway story, the dialogue is admittedly a bit rough around the edges. The game could also be grindy, particularly if you want to get the best gear. Even with its issues, however, the excellent core combat makes this game worth a look, especially if you’re a mech fan. Hopefully, it does well enough to warrant a sequel as I’d be interested in seeing what this team can do a second time with the solid foundation it has set.
Calling Code Vein a Dark Souls clone is a bit unfair as it certainly adds its own unique spin to the genre. It doesn’t quite nail the purposeful gameplay that’s perfected by Dark Souls and Bloodborne. At the same time, its anime-style visuals combined with its more free-form class swapping makes it a fresh alternative for folks hungry for more Soulsborne-style games. All in all, Code Vein is a solid first effort that establishes a promising franchise.
Nintendo could’ve just taken the easy way out with Link’s Awakening. Instead, it brought back a gaming classic by remaking it from the ground up while keeping all the wonderful things that made games such as the original a bonafide treat. The new look won’t be for everyone and the Switch struggles at times when there’s too much going on. But those are minor quibbles for a game that reminds us why the top-down Zelda games were so beloved in the first place. Link’s Awakening is a charming remake done oh-so right. One last tip: don’t steal anything. Seriously.