Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds is a perfectly good, functional flashback to an earlier time in JRPGs. Aesthetically it is really pleasing, the combat is a nice mix of turn-based while requiring you to stay engaged with it instead of just mashing through menu items and while early on the narrative looked like it was going to travel some well-worn, overly familiar tropes, the characters and world are more interesting than they might initially appear.
Despite some stiff gameplay mechanics and fairly simple combat, Killer7 manages to hold up very well even more than a decade after its initial release. The narrative is truly interesting, and there is no question that SUDA51 was well ahead of his time with both the visuals and some of the twists he threw into his story along the way. Killer7 is an example of a game that took chances, and those risks helped Goichi Suda establish his well-deserved following.
There are a handful of oddities around the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection, from the strange purchasing structure to how the stories in these newer games actually feel like a step back from another in the series from a few years ago. That being said, the core gameplay is both intuitive and addictive, the visuals are fun and the music is fantastic. That there are some other things to do that add an additional sense of progression is just the icing on the cake and I found it very hard to put these games down.
I really, really enjoyed Tetris Effect. The modes are engaging, the presentation has a life of its own and is certainly the best the series has ever looked and sounded and the variety of modes and options while coupled with the new Zone mechanic offer some new wrinkles with plenty of replay value.
All in all, Road Redemption is a solid enough experience that is pretty fun in small doses. The combat is the highlight here, but I also appreciate it when games drop in some light RPG elements to give some sense of progression along the way. Road Redemption is not going to blow anyone away with its technical presentation, but there is some good, fun arcade action that bubbles right to the surface and helps - at least for a time - to hide its relatively shallow story, modes and number of tracks.
The actual gameplay of GRIP: Combat Racing is pretty entertaining. That it supports local multiplayer makes it an ideal game to play with some friends, and the easy-to-pick-up nature of the game is almost begging for some party play. That being said, the actual career mode is mostly cosmetic in progression and the number of tracks is a bit light, with even fewer really good tracks out of that collection. Some nice twists on race modes help to provide some variety to those same repeating tracks, but that sameness when mixed with somewhat shallow modes and options and an average presentation kept GRIP from being so compelling that I have to play it often or over very long stretches of time. It is a fun experience, if a somewhat shallow one.
With a story that has not changed and a layer of optional VR added to the original game, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is not perhaps a compelling buy for everyone. It is a good excuse to put on a virtual reality headset, and there are some notable quality of life improvements that when coupled with improved visuals make this a worthwhile play - especially if you missed Megadimension Neptunia VII the first time around. Megadimension Neptunia VIIR likely will not bring new people to the series, but returning fans of the Neptunia titles will likely enjoy the presentation, characters and numerous systems of progression.
The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a really good one right now that promises to only get better in the near future as the catalog expands. It would have been easy to just emulate the titles and tuck them in behind a menu to select your game of choice and be done with it, but there are some quality features baked in and around the different games that show that the development team took their task to heart and wanted to provide a great experience to SNK fans. The end result is a very enjoyable collection of NES and arcade classics.
There is a lot of stylish hijinks flowing throughout Strange Brigade, which is really what makes the title work. It certainly plays better with friends, but it can be tackled solo as well. Decent weapon variety coupled with varied environments from one level to the next help to offset what is generally repetitive shooting gameplay broken up by puzzles that do help change the pace without ever really taxing my brain. Basically it is good at multiple things while seldom great at any of them. The end result is a rollicking adventure that occasionally frustrates but entertains more often than not.
A flawed protagonist and generally good voice acting compliment an interesting story and solid overall production values to create an interesting RPG-adventure hybrid in Call of Cthulhu. There are some rough edges to be had that might be a bit hard for some people to swallow at its AAA-ish price tag. Lovecraft / horror fans such as myself will likely find Call of Cthulhu to be time well-spent, but there are some rough edges that certainly do detract from the overall experience.
While SoulCalibur VI probably will not be a top title in the eSports fighting scene, it has a solid enough online presence that should provide plenty of competitive gameplay. That being said, too often the fighting genre relies too heavily on online competition to give their games longevity. Kudos to the development team here for creating an incredibly robust single player experience that is worth coming back to time and again. This makes SoulCalibur VI my vote for best fighting game of 2019.
Disgaea 1 Complete has a great history, and it is great fun revisiting this classic title with its new paint job and additional bells and whistles. There is something of a missed opportunity to add content to the core story or gameplay that does not occur here, but for an RPG / strategy fan such as myself, there is a lot of quality gameplay mixed with nostalgia that reminded me that even at fifteen years later, Disgaea does it better than most.
There have been some pretty big-named RPGs of late between games like Valkyria Chronicles 4, Dragon Warrior and even the re-release of Disgaea 1 this fall, which unfortunately overshadows METAL MAX Xeno quite a bit. That being said, there is something incredibly charming about this underdog title, with its complex progression systems, dystopian setting and colorful characters that should appeal to JRPG fans looking for something a bit different.
In many ways, Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle is a pretty traditional dungeon crawler with its grid-based movement, first person perspective and numbers-heavy combat on the back end. Where it breaks the mold a bit is in how it allows you to split your party up for its real-time combat and Japanese-infused aesthetic. This is a genre that sometimes can get a little stodgy, and does not generally bring a lot of innovation to the table, so despite some annoying difficulty spikes and some lackluster overall presentation values, Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle still makes for an interesting addition to the genre.
So Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is my second dungeon crawling title in as many weeks, and while both were good I have to give the nod to Nippon Ichi and NIS America here for crafting one that manages to feel like both a traditional part of the genre while still taking some chances that generally work more often than not. The combat and sound effects can be a little repetitive and there is a bit of menu overload to be had here, but the massive, custom parties plus wall-breaking mechanics combine to compliment an enjoyably presented game with a darker, more interesting story than we usually see out of dungeon crawlers.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has some really great franchises to draw from (I have been playing various SNK fighting games for years, and immediately felt familiarity with the cast of characters), and it has arguably the most accessible fighting mechanics of any game to date, but the fanservice and modes really only go so far. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has a nice, fast combat system in place that makes local play with friends zany and entertaining, but the modes themselves and modest number of characters probably are not meaty enough to encourage me to spend a ton of the time with the title either. I've gone through and beaten the story mode several times just so I can see the various interactions and endings, but outside of trying to unlock a few more items, I am not sure the hook here is going to be enough to keep me coming back on a regular basis unless I have a few people over looking to play a quick, accessible fighting game.
If you are a fan of retro-styled JRPG titles, Cosmic Star Heroine provides a nice dose of nostalgic science fiction to enjoy. The visuals are better than the sound, but the overall presentation is comfortable and enjoyable, ably assisted by a deeper-than-expected combat system. There is not a ton of content here nor replay value in the roughly dozen hours it takes to see Alyssa's adventure through to the end, but it is definitely a worthwhile adventure while it lasts.
Shining Resonance Refrain is a title that should appease Shining and general JRPG fans, as it does a lot of things found in other games, and does them pretty well. The art style is cute, if the overall environments are a bit lacking visually, but couple with a solid audio presentation to create an enjoyable overall package. There is a lot to do here, though those turned off by grinding might not find the various systems interesting enough to spend oodles of time roaming and killing random critters encountered along the way. Personally I hope this is a sign of things to come, and we might see more Shining titles in the future - perhaps another strategy game please?