NEO: The World Ends with You is way too cool, way too fun, and way too good. For fans of the series, this is a sequel that goes above and beyond 14 years of hopes and expectations. For newcomers who have never even heard of the Reaper's Game, this is one of the most genuine, polished, and stylish games I've ever played. Personality and style ooze out of it constantly, and in a post-Persona 5 world where society is starting to clamour for more immersive and all-encompassing JRPG masterpieces, this might just be the next big thing.
Cotton Reboot! isn't just a new way to play a stellar old-school shoot 'em up; it's also essentially a modern sequel to this dormant shooter series thanks to the gorgeous new Arrange mode. Classic Cotton is cute and easy to pick up, but Arrange is a fast and wild experience that is definitely hard to master. There's some on-screen messiness in Arrange mode and the lack of gallery-style bonuses is a bummer, but this is still a must-play shoot 'em up for any fans of the genre.
Boomerang X is the 2AM food truck run of arena shooters. You're in and out before you know it, but holy shit is it amazing. The boomerang abilities that form the core of the gameplay are unique and insanely addicting, but there's always new foes and features constantly revealing themselves as the game progresses. It's a brief experience, maybe too brief, but it's still an unforgettable one.
Mushihimesama was ahead of the pack when it came out two decades ago, and that hasn't changed at all in 2021. This is still a remarkable shmup and a must-play for hardcore fans, but thanks to the wealth of difficulty options it provides, it's the perfect way for newcomers to dip their feet into the genre too.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin breathes new life into the world of Monster Hunter. The shift to a turn-based RPG is handled so well, with an addictive and fast-paced combat system that's just as rewarding as traditional Monster Hunter. Complementing that is a genuinely engaging story full of wonderful characters, all rendered in an incredibly beautiful art style. Whether you're a newcomer or a series veteran, this is a must-play RPG.
Watch Dogs Legion: Bloodline tries to be a love letter to fans of the series by bringing back two iconic characters as the protagonists, but in doing so, it removes the one gameplay mechanic that made Watch Dogs: Legion so memorable. Without characters to study, befriend, and recruit, Bloodline is a more watered-down open-world experience than the base game it's tied to. Worse is the fact that it doesn't expand on the base game at all. With no new regions to explore, activities to engage in, or gear to unlock, it's a pretty barebones package overall.
Super Magbot is a highlight in the puzzle platformer genre. It sports unique gameplay that I haven't seen anywhere else, and it's definitely the most fun I've had with magnets in years. The rest of the package isn't as groundbreaking as the gameplay, but it's still totally solid. Some bland writing and so-so music aside, this is a killer addition to any sidescrolling platforming fans collection.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown's one goal was to update this old-school and finely aged fighter for a modern platform. In that, it excels. This is a classic fighting game that holds up to this day. Despite that, though, it's a shame that so many single player offerings had to be cut in order to achieve this vision. Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is a perfect competitive fighter for the modern world, but for someone looking to mess around with it offline, your options are disappointingly limited compared to previous versions of the game.
Guilty Gear -Strive- excels in all the areas you'd expect it to – the music is sick, the characters look crazy, the fighting is fun, and May players deserve nothing. It's an old dog that's been taught new tricks, and all of those tricks are rad as hell. At the same time, it feels like it can be so much more. The story mode is clunky and the Online Mode can use some work, but I'm sure as post-launch support ramps up we'll see stellar improvements to both those fronts.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is an incredible, silly, and addictive action game. It makes smart and satisfying changes to the core formula of the series that make it one of the most enjoyable entries in the EDF franchise to date, and it has the potential to be one of the most exciting co-op games you've ever played. It's only downside, though, is incredibly major -- the Nintendo Switch version is plagued with graphical issues that significantly impact the quality and fun factor of an otherwise amazing game.