Even if it's on the brief and simple side, Star Allies demonstrates the polish and personality you've come to expect from the series. It's a kid-friendly romp through the franchise's most memorable moments, and the asymmetric gameplay and lively spirit of Kirby's latest journey make it a great way to introduce a new generation of fans to the series.
With Chronology, Atlus has finally made good on the promise inherent in the original Historia. Then, the company threw in several hours of new material for good measure. The fact that Chronology's bonus additions divide out into one about story and one about combat reinforces the remake team's understanding of the game's underlying duality.
Iconoclasts' combination of clever Metroid-inspired design and lush art offers more than enough incentive to stick with it, even when the ambitious plot doesn't always connect. This is a strange, complex game that – refreshingly – doesn't play quite like any other work in the genre. Iconoclasts offers a welcome reminder that they don't all have to play the same way.
Even if it falls short of becoming a worthy successor to the likes of Chrono Trigger, Lost Sphear really does capture the essence of classic role-playing games in a lot of ways. When it's not bogging itself down in overwrought mechanics, this RPG really can spark a sense of nostalgia. Its writing, environments, battle system, and music all evoke the best moments of bygone days. And even if it doesn't quite hit the heights it aspires to, it does a fine job of rekindling some fond memories.
Sonic Forces creators' good intentions and interesting ideas don't amount to much in a game so clumsy and limited in design. It certainly doesn't help that Forces follows right on the heels of Sonic Mania, a game that not only demonstrated a more focused design sensibility but also did a far better job of realizing its creators' ambitions. Forces may have had a larger budget than Mania, but it feels like the poorer creation all around. Unless your dearest dream has always been to play a Sonic game as your own original fan art character, Sonic Forces doesn't have much to offer.
While Etrian Odyssey 5 may not be well-suited for genre novices or people who shy away from the combat side of RPGs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a stronger example of this particular slice of the genre. It offers enormous customization; fresh challenges both inside and out of combat; a setting rich with things to do besides simply fight; and best of all, that addictive mapping feature. Here's a game destined to appeal to the lizard brain of Type-A personalities, to people who love to line up details and see everything slowly take shape. With each line you draw on the in-game map, you bring a tiny bit more order to chaos and transform the unknown into the familiar. Etrian Odyssey 5 isn't simply the best game in its own franchise, it's easily the richest and most satisfying dungeon crawler to appear in the past decade.
While the core game has changed very little since its original appearance on Wii U a little more than a year ago, Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World giveth, and it taketh away. If you don't mind the visual downgrade and the loss of cooperative play, you'll probably enjoy the new additions on tap here (most of which, unsurprisingly, revolve around Yoshi's canine companion Poochy). At its heart, this is the best follow-up to Yoshi's Island to date, so it's absolutely worth your time if you missed it on Wii U.
There's a lot to love about Yakuza 0, but it's going to take me a while to work my way to the story's finale. The endless brawling turns the whole thing into a real chore, I'm afraid. But I will say that as tired as I've already become of the constant beatdowns, the story and general self-confidence of the game makes me want to power through.
Playing The Last Guardian reminds me a lot of playing Half-Life games: The actual moment-to-moment of working my way through the game involves an enormous amount of frustration and annoyance... but when I look back at it, all I see are the happy memories of the experience. That's due in large part to the incredible design of Trico, and also to the spectacular emotive ending. Make no mistake, though, you will want to tear your hair out throughout your journey with Trico... but patient players will find the payoff justifies the suffering.
Super Mario Maker for 3DS comes pretty close to being a perfect portable adaptation of an incredible Wii U game. It certainly works a lot better than previous ports had led me to expect! That said, the absence of one of the original game's most important elements truly diminishes this conversion. The new format and new pre-baked content go a long way toward making up for the loss... but while this version is worth owning for the 100 (!) new levels alone, it's still not the definitive Super Mario Maker.
Pokémon Sun and Moon's trek through Alola is the most engaging campaign the series has offered in a long time. Not everything on Sun and Moon's plate is perfect – Z-Moves feel underwhelming, and you're still going to commit the overwhelming majority of the Pokémon you catch to PC Box Hell – but this is one tropical getaway that's worth every penny.
Make no mistake: Some of Color Splash is best-in-class material. But some of it is just awful. As much as I'd like to be able to give it an unqualified endorsement, I really can't. The excellent visuals, music, structure, and writing sit at odds with the toilsome combat system and the addition of far too many gimmicks and gotchas. The game is as irritating as it is inspiring — and while there's much to love here, be aware that finding it requires slogging through some truly rocky moments.
Striking an almost perfect balance between RPG and construction game, Dragon Quest: Builders manages to hold fast to the best parts of the series whose name it bears while creating a guided, structured format for the Minecraft concept. The end result works brilliantly, with top-notch visuals, music, and writing that help drive home the appeal. There's room for improvement here... but not much.
Though more of an expansion than a standalone release in spirit, Apocalypse's narrative superfluity is made up for by the considerable refinements it contains over its direct predecessor. Whether or not you'll enjoy its plot and its emphasis on partner characters comes down to personal taste, but on the whole it's an engrossing and addictive role-playing experience... even if it can feel a little familiar at times.
Does beauty alone justify a game? Can the novelty of swimming through majestic oceans teeming with life overcome an otherwise fairly by-the-numbers experience that never quite achieves the creative heights it so earnestly aspires to? I suppose that's down to the player, but as much as I wanted to love Abzû, the end result fell just short of brilliance. It's worth playing for the incredible presentation, but don't expect something profoundly new here.
This may be an entry in a highly specialized and generally unfriendly genre, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a better example of the type. Heartless, demanding, infuriating, yet seemingly boundless in the depth of its content and mechanics, the latest Shiren the Wanderer adventure wraps taxing game design in just-one-more replay appeal. Think of it as the Wolverine of console roguelikes: It's the best there is at what it does, and what it does isn't very nice.