Despite abandoning the series' all-too-iconic red-haired hero, Ys Origin is one of the most memorable and enjoyable entries in the franchise. With multiple characters, incredibly tight controls, and rewarding unlockables and bonus modes, it's a perfect entry into the series for newcomers as well as an absolute treat for veteran Ys players. The lack of a map and the simple combat can sometimes be a bit of a frustration, but they're ultimately minor annoyances in an otherwise incredible old-school action RPG.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a must-play for fans of Japanese sci-fi adventures. Mixing the strengths of Vanillaware's art with time-travel adventures is a recipe for huge success. A story ambitious enough to have thirteen different protagonists seems bound for failure, yet the game manages to make each story not only incredibly impactful on its own, but adds up to a bigger, brighter and utterly unforgettable narrative. The addictive tactical gameplay that strings these story scenes together, despite a strange artstyle, is just icing on the already massive and delicious cake.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time truly feels like a blast from the past. Instead of playing into modern action game trends, the game revisits the style and feel of old-school action games with great success. There are a few frustrating elements that come from that dated design style and hamper the experience, as well as an ultimately unnecessary weapon-durability system. Still, for fans of the original cartoon, this is a trip down memory lane well worth taking.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is the wild and hyper-stylised sports game I've been craving for over a decade. The gameplay is quick to pick up, but hard to master, and the over-the-top anime transitions and animations that are sprinkled throughout the action make it endlessly entertaining. Offline and online versus is sure to give you hours of entertainment if you're the competitive type, while the hefty amount of single-player story content can keep you just as equally entertained. Anyone who's been waiting for the next great arcade sports game need not look any further – it's here, and its name is Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions.
Kandagawa Jet Girls follows the unfortunate pattern that many of HONEY∞PARADE GAMES latest titles have fallen victim to. There's style and charm galore, with sharp character visuals, fun music, and a charming anime-as-hell story mode. The actual gameplay, though, is rough at every possible edge, presenting a half-baked version of a truly interesting idea that simply wasn't executed on well. There's a lot to love with this game, but unfortunately, there's plenty to dislike as well.
Spiritfarer has a soft, caring, bittersweet tone that I've rarely encountered in video games. For a game all about death and dying, I only ever felt calm and relaxed when playing it. The management gameplay is varied and engaging, and even though the scope if it leads to the game getting a bit too long in the tooth, it helps connect the incredibly emotional story beats together so well. Mix that up with its beautiful art style and enchanting music, and you've got one of the most emotional management games I've ever played.
Death End re;Quest 2 is the horror RPG I never knew I wanted. Its mysterious and grim story is reminiscent of some of the all-time great Japanese visual novel and indie adventure experiences, but the fact that it's tied up into an addictive and enjoyable RPG package is the icing on the cake. The fun begins to get soured a bit by the sudden difficulty spikes throughout the game, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this terrifying and jaw-dropping story from beginning to end.
It's clear that the developers of Banner of the Maid have a lot of love for the historical French period they've adapted in this game. Unfortunately, the gorgeous character art and intricate story is hampered by a rough localization and awkward gameplay systems. The intriguing characters are hard to follow thanks to awkwardly translated dialogue, while the upgrade and faction mechanics of the game only serve to bloat the experience. Banner of the Maid has plenty of solid ideas, but only a few of them truly shine through.
Fight Crab is weird, wild, and fun as hell. It's a game purely focused on delivering charming and silly moments, and that chaotic, no-rules atmosphere leads to hours of hilarious crustacean combat. The game could have easily been an unpredictable, button-mashing physics mess, but the fact that there are legitimate layers of executable strategy to the combat makes it a thrilling challenge to boot. Even if you don't like crabs, Fight Crab will easily convert you into a claw-believer.