Mollie L Patterson
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is a solid new entry in Bandai Namco's rhythm game franchise, offering a roster of fresh music to enjoy, some creative new game modes, and more unlockables to have fun collecting. The game doesn't offer as many multiplayer options as its predecessor did, but does feature more to keep solo players occupied. Rhythm Festival also offers what is arguably the biggest addition the franchise has ever seen, the Taiko Music Pass-a new music subscription service that can greatly expand the life of the game while also bringing with it some additional concerns over our subscription-laiden future.
Steelrising is a new Souls-like twist on the French Revolution that unfortunately doesn't see all of its lofty ambitions grow into accomplishments. While its gameplay is enjoyable once you get far enough to earn some unlocks and get main character Aegis more decked out, it tries to mimic elements of FromSoftware's action RPG classics without always understanding what made said elements work. When Spiders leans less on taking inspiration from other games and more on presenting its own ideas, however, we get an intriguing-and surprisingly deep-alternate take on an important moment in France's history.
With this third of Tengo Project's revivals of classic 16-bit Natsume releases, the team has certainly saved the best for last. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined takes what was already a fantastic run 'n gun experience, and expands, enhances, and improves pretty much all of the original Pocky & Rocky's components to masterful degrees. From its stunning graphics, to its rich gameplay, to its fleshed out cast of interesting characters, Reshrined makes its predecessor proud while also introducing an all new generation of players to a core game that's still just as worth playing today as it was 30 years ago.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge looks to bring back the glory days of Konami's side-scrolling arcade beat 'em ups and home hits based on everyone's favorite young green ninjas. In its visuals and gameplay, Dotemu and Tribute Games have not only matched those retro classics that they're paying homage to here, but perhaps even surpassed them. Sadly, this trip through time is somewhat marred by inconsistent audio and an Arcade mode that feels more like a slog than a thrill.
Ghostwire: Tokyo offered Japanese developer Tango Gameworks a chance to mix things up after the first two The Evil Within games, and the result is an open-world action adventure that definitely has its moments. Unfortunately, those moments come together with some missed potential and a lack of truly fleshing out all of the ideas presented. In the end, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a good game-but one that could have been something more.
From its humble beginnings as a weird, brutally difficult new project that even its publisher had little faith in, the Souls series has grown into a vessel through which FromSoftware has helped change how we look at, and play, video games. And now, Elden Ring does the same for the Souls series itself. Years of gameplay refinements and revisions blend together with major franchise shifts such as the move to an open world and giving players far more freedom in how they set about saving said world. The result is a title that goes beyond anything Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team have given us before, both as a game and as an experience.
The true test for The King of Fighters XV is going to come in the days ahead, as the game gets into the hands of the general public and we see how everything fares both online and in far larger pools of player-vs.-player matches. For now, I’m excited for KOF XV. Its gameplay feels solid, its roster is satisfying, and its overall visual design once again does the series justice. I just hope all of those things hold up once the real fight begins.
Atari's Recharged series has produced some fantastic remakes of classic arcade hits, but that series' latest entry, Breakout Recharged, is definitely its weakest so far. That's less the fault of the dev teams or the work they've put into these releases, and more the core game itself, as the original Breakout could only receive so much modernization before becoming a totally different game. The result is that Breakout Recharged will satisfy a specific segment of players who can enjoy its more simplistic gameplay, while leaving most everyone else wishing there'd be more to see and break here.
About An Elf is a game about an elf who wants to bring about the elftopia. It's about Princess Dam, who may or may not be a psychopath, and it's about a cat who wants to have half-cat, half-elf babies, and about another elf who pays Dam gummy bears to tell her stupid stories. It's about going on an adventure to fantastical places and facing off against monstrous foes, and it's about figuring out at times overly obscure video puzzles in order to beat those foes. It's a story about love, and loss, and hope. And, in the end, About An Elf is about five to six hours long.
Danganronpa Decadence finally brings Spike Chunsoft's amazing murder mystery series to the Nintendo Switch, accompanied by an all-new bonus game, Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp. While the latter is fun on a shallower level, the Danganronpa games remain engrossing and engaging experiences that are just as good today as they were back when they originally saw release on the Vita. Well, almost as good, as the ports we get here see reduced visuals or performance at times due to (seemingly) being based on the previous mobile releases.
At its basics, Date Night Bowling provides some decent bowling gameplay mixed in with the twist of trying to win over a date before the end of the 10th frame. As a concept, however, the game totally fails to capitalize on the thrill of trying to get strikes on the lane while not striking out romantically. There's so much more that could and should have been done with the game at every level, leaving an experience that'll keep you entertained in short bursts but wanting more in the long run.
Blue Reflection: Second Light is a perfect example of judging a game on what it tried to be, and not what it isn't. While it pales in comparison to other blockbuster Japanese role-playing games, and remains constrained by the long-standing limitations of its developer, it is an enjoyable and engrossing adventure when taken for what it is: a mid-tier RPG that brings together a group of fleshed-out characters who are trying to improve both their lives and their world. Coming off the original Blue Reflection, Second Light genuinely advances the franchise both in terms of storytelling and gameplay, offering an even better experience to those looking for this sort of game.
Shin Megami Tensei V is the Japanese RPG equivalent of mid-century modern design, as the classic style and attitude of the series gets enhanced by—but never replaced with—simpler and sleeker refinements and modernizations. In a moment when Atlus could have given Persona’s sibling series a more market-friendly makeover, the company has instead given us a game that’s as weird, punishing, and mysterious as any previous SMT release that came before. As a longtime fan who wasn’t sure if the team at Atlus still had games like this in them, Shin Megami Tensei V is shockingly satisfying—well, as long as you don’t ask too much of its characters or story.
Metroid Dread is a superb mix of action and exploration that brings Nintendo's classic series into the modern era in a way that feels like a new beginning even as it positions itself as an end to a 35-year saga. Samus, her abilities, and the challenges she faces have changed and expanded over time, but the excitement and satisfaction her adventures provide continue to this day.
Bandai Namco promised that "now is the time for change," and Tales of Arise legitimately feels like a game that's trying to bring change to Japanese RPGs. It's strong characters, epic story, engrossing battle system, and lush visuals are only marred by a disappointing final act, and those areas of the game where the team refused to let go of outdated ideas and conventions. If the Tales team can find it in themselves to push things just a little further, then this might truly be the spark that sets off a revolution in a genre that's needed a regime change for so long now.
Space Invaders Invincible Collection certainly isn't the collection it could have been, and definitely isn't a collection for everyone, but it is still a great look back at the Space Invaders franchise for those interested in such a thing.
I don’t think I’m being unfair at all to Microsoft Flight Simulator to say that suggesting a purchase for those outside of the flight sim fanatic crowd is complicated. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, however, this is one of the easiest recommendations I can make, even if I’m still a ways out from being able to formulate any sort of final opinion. This is an exciting and enthralling video game experience the likes of which rarely come around, and if you’re already paying Microsoft a subscription fee, there should be nothing stopping you from giving it a try.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving Game Builder Garage a score or full evaluation until I’ve made a game of my own that I consider to be complete and finished, but I’m still far from having any clue what that actually means. One of my personal goals is to make a multiplayer party game that my friends will legitimately enjoy, but I still need to come up with a concept and plan out its design, let alone start building it to see if it’ll all come together. How do I put a timeframe on that, when the very first step is reliant on creativity and inspiration? And then, how much time will I need for coding, testing, bug fixing, focus testing, and so on?
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster brings back one of the most celebrated and beloved entries from the Megami Tensei franchise nearly 20 years after its original debut. The original Nocturne was a heck of a JRPG in its time, and Atlus has now upgraded it with higher-resolution widescreen visuals, richer vocal tracks, and some much-appreciated quality of life upgrades. Unfortunately, it also misses some areas of the game that equally needed touching up (such as the controls and camera), and it's hard not to feel like the game deserved a full remake rather than just a remaster.
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir is a captivating window not only into Nintendo's past, but also into the past of adventure games as a whole. While it retains some of the gameplay frustrations that plagued the genre back in its earlier days, The Missing Heir offers a gripping murder mystery at its core, wrapped in video and audio upgrades that freshen up the experience for a whole new generation of would-be detectives.