I am certainly not immune to the charms of 80s and 90s game design, but the NES version of Double Dragon wasn’t a great example for Double Dragon 4 to follow. It’s not just that this simplistic beat-em-up formula didn’t age well graphically or mechanically, it’s that it simply isn’t very fun or engaging to play in 2017.
You could likely beat Shantae: Half-Genie Hero in a couple of sittings, but the platforming action is so varied, and the levels so explorable, it’s worth playing well beyond that. While it's neither innovative nor high-concept, its hand-drawn look and toe-tapping music successfully channel a joy and enthusiasm that has become far too rare in modern video games.
When I'm riding chocobos across the beach at dusk with my three friends and hunting iconic Final Fantasy monsters in a huge, picturesque open world, Final Fantasy XV feels like nearly everything I could want from a modern Final Fantasy. But when it funnels me into linear scenarios and drab, constricted spaces that plunge the simplistic combat into chaos, my blood boils a bit. There is so much good here, so much heart - especially in the relationships between Noctis and his sworn brothers. It just comes with some changes and compromises that were, at times, difficult for this long-time Final Fantasy fan to come to grips with.
A lot of effort was clearly put into Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, because almost every aspect of its gameplay has an underlying set of properties and nuances to come to grips with. While I usually love that kind of complexity, here it rarely felt meaningful or even coherent. Paired with a story that lacks the stakes and urgency of the source material, it leaves Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization feeling pretty tepid aside from its enjoyable combat.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’s ambition is admirable, and though it’s riddled with a lot of silly little inconveniences, it mostly succeeds in giving DBZ fans an authentic-feeling world to dive into for the long haul. Though no individual element of its roleplaying or brawling gameplay is overly complex, taken as a whole there’s a surprising amount to consider while progressing your character, and enough to do to keep it from getting stale to soon.
WWE 2K17 doesn’t make any big, drastic changes, but its smart gameplay tweaks have revitalized match types I’d ignored the past few years. I really miss 2K Showcase, and 2K17 is still weak in areas that I feel should have been shored up by now, but its excellent combat, and generous amounts of customization help it retain its title.
Wayward Sky is a good example of how well suited VR is for point-and-click style adventures. It uses perspective and gesture-based gameplay to immerse you in a world that is, on its own, a well made and inviting one. Though I’ll most likely forget forget much of its gameplay sooner than later, Wayward Sky’s setting and ambiance will stay with me long after.
I didn't expect ReCore to be quite as big as it is, and from the looks of things it's possible its developers didn't either. Its world, while interesting to explore for a good while, is ultimately too big with too little happening in it to be a totally serviceable housing for the strong combat and platforming gameplay within. It feels like a great, arcadey action platformer spread across too big a canvas, and it asks you to draw back over the same lines a few too many times