A retro platformer that sets itself apart with the protagonist's transformation from a single pixel into 8- and 16-bit incarnations. Tic Toc Games' impressive pedigree at WayForward is on full display in Adventures of Pip—one of the only problems is that it's not quite as feature-rich as you'd like.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is far more than a fantasy role-playing game. It's an amazingly fleshed-out world that rewards careful, thoughtful exploration. CD Projekt RED didn't just deliver on their promise to craft an open world worthy of author Andrzej Sapkowski's lore—they greatly exceeded it.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon provides a refreshing change of pace for Etrian Odyssey fans by infusing the dungeon-crawler with challenging elements from Spike Chunsoft's venerable Mystery Dungeon franchise. Unfortunately, some clunky controls and curious design decisions prevent this roguelike from reaching the greatest heights of the genre.
The passion behind Citizens of Earth is undeniable. The execution, unfortunately, lags behind other indie titles that take inspiration from essential gaming classics. There's so much potential in this intriguing fusion of EarthBound and Suikoden, and the basics of a competent RPG are all here. The storytelling, world-building, and other elements necessary to craft a truly standout role-playing experience, however, are MIA in Citizens of Earth.
The (perhaps foolishly) brave fungal explorer makes a welcome return in a full-fledged game inspired by his six bite-sized adventures in Super Mario 3D World. While Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker certainly succeeds brilliantly in most of its puzzle-platforming endeavors, it does feel slightly short in the end, and a fussy camera can sabotage sequences that require quick actions and quick decisions. It's clear the concept has a ton of potential even after this, though, so let's hope this isn't a one-off adventure for our diminutive mushroom hero.
After six years of pleading, North American players finally get Tales of Hearts—previously a Japan-only gem in Bandai Namco’s flagship RPG series. The wait was undeniably worth it, since this entry features some of the best storytelling, characterization, and pacing in the franchise—though the combat doesn’t make the smoothest of transitions from the DS version. Those who never played the original Japanese release won’t know what they’re missing, of course, but it’s frustrating that this undeniably excellent game isn’t quite all it could’ve been on the PS Vita.
NBA Live has had a tough time escaping the shadow of NBA 2K—and that trend continues with NBA Live 15, which doesn't deliver believable player movement, shooting, or gameplay flow. The "Big Moments" mode shows the potential that the series might be able to execute in the coming years, but right now, it's like a .500 team trying to compete with a playoff juggernaut.
NBA 2K15 delivers a solid core basketball experience, particularly with MyCareer mode, which features real-life NBA player voices. But the game ties too much of the experience to its shoddy online component, which sabotages the experience—and even makes the game literally unplayable at times.
While its refreshing combat offers a different kind of strategy-RPG challenge, some ridiculously punitive design decisions sabotage a good deal of the potential fun in Natural Doctrine. Considering the experienced pedigree of the developers involved—they count Patapon among their previous works—that's simply inexcusable.
The landscapes and exploration elements might not be on the level of some of its open-world brethren, but Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor delivers one of the best games to feature the intricate lore of J.R.R. Tolkien—and its innovative, addictive Nemesis system could redefine the way developers design enemy encounters in the future.
Sims fans have been worried about all the cuts of longtime features in The Sims 4, and while some critical elements are indeed missing, the core addiction remains. Plus, with the addition of the online Gallery and the ability to share and download creations, it's easier than ever to liven up your little virtual world.
Hohokum's intriguing collection of free-form worlds begs exploration, but the game's questionable structure stifles the ability to play it on your own terms. It's an aural and visual spectacle, but it's also a lot more frustrating than it ever needed to be.
The Show was clearly on its last legs on the PS3, and the revamped, more true-to-life ballparks infuse some much-needed atmosphere in the series' PS4 debut. Meanwhile, Road to the Show includes several tweaks that help you create a more dominating prospect. Unfortunately, the player models don't receive the same level of care, and the game's online components aren't on the level of most other sports franchises—issues that absolutely must be addressed going forward.
Mario Kart 8 looks spectacular, sounds impressive, and delivers solid racing action worthy of the series. But it's also that rare Nintendo game that manages to be less than the sum of its impressive parts thanks to some ill-advised design choices, half-baked ideas, and gimped Battle Mode.
Bravely Default is a reminder that classic Final Fantasy themes and gameplay elements are timeless in the right hands. Unfortunately, its later segments are some of the worst examples of unnecessary padding in RPG history. All told, it’s a flawed masterpiece that shows more potential than any other current Square Enix RPG property.
For any Mario fans worried their favorite paesano plumber wasn't about innovation anymore, Super Mario 3D World shows the franchise that created the platforming standard continues to set the bar. The new Super Bell and Double Cherry power-ups augment the Mario experience in a brilliant, meaningful way, and the Wii U's HD capabilities deliver the prettiest-looking game in series history.