Ys: Memories of Celceta does it's best to put the spotlight on the series narrative, but the adventures of amnesiac Adol barely hold a candle to the fast and frenetic combat of the game. What seems like a mindless hack-and-slash on the surface quickly becomes a palm-drenching test of patience through its punishing and satisfying boss battles. Even if you come to Ys: Memories of Celceta looking for a trip through the lore of the franchise, you'll likely end up staying for that classic, addictive Ys combat.
With fluid gameplay, gorgeous visuals, and an incredibly inventive story mode, there's a lot to love in this unique fighting game. The limited roster may prove to be the biggest challenge this game faces in maintaining a strong community, but with so many positive changes since it's 2018 Early Access launch and the spotlight of an Evo Online tournament, there's nowhere to go but up for Them's Fightin' Herds.
Ultimately, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition takes a Wii RPG that was years ahead of its time and gives it new life and the visuals it deserved a decade ago. This is a must-play JRPG full of iconic characters, immersive environments, and addictive combat. There may be some minor technical and visual issues with this re-release, but they're outweighed by the brilliance of the new content and the inarguable timelessness of Xenoblade Chronicles.
Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen is yet another port of Utawarerumono for Japanese fans, but it's the first time in nearly 20 years that the first chapter of this iconic hybrid visual novel trilogy is playable in English. A unique world and unforgettable characters are at the heart of this game, but they're complemented by gorgeous artwork, addictive battles, and incredible music. It drags in the middle act, but once that final act ends and the credits roll, you'll barely remember the rough edges of this otherwise fantastic experience.
Touhou Mechanical Scrollery is a mess of a game. It's obvious that there's high ambition and plenty of love for the source material, but the final product is riddled with poor controls, rough visuals, and forgettable combat mechanics that make it an absolute chore to get through.
Relic Hunters Zero: Remix takes the standard roguelike experience and shifts it into overdrive, delivering a faster and more consistently rewarding experience. I always felt like I was making progress and never felt like a run was wasted. Some technical issues and a lack of environment variety keep the game from sticking the landing, though. With more environment variety and remappable controls, Relic Hunters Zero: Remix could easily go from good to great.
Sakura Wars may be a crisp, fully 3D modern release, but every inch of the story, characters, and sound feels like it's straight out of the 90s. This soft-reboot may not revolutionise gaming as the original game did, but it still manages to deliver an expertly crafted love letter to those old-school stories and characters that will put a smile on anyone's face. The combat scenes may lack the same depth and intrigue as the story beats of the game, but they're a minor part of an otherwise unforgettable anime adventure.