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.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack brings the best of the franchise to a brand new console. Atelier Sophie is an iconic piece of the series with a brand new lease on life, Atelier Firis has unique exploration gameplay that hasn't been attempted in any other entry, and the new story content in Atelier Lyde & Suelle is a delight for longtime fans. These games have never looked better, and are a must-play for anyone interested in the Atelier series.
Poison Control has some of my favourite art and character designs from any game this year, but that isn't anywhere near enough to carry the entire experience. The dual-character combat system is a fresh and stylish idea, but it isn't executed very well. Clunky movement and repetitive combat end up holding back this otherwise stylish and unique new game from Nippon Ichi Software.
The Ancient Gods Part 2 is an insanely fun ending to the saga of the Doom Slayer. While the narrative aspect of the DLC is a little underwhelming, what really matters is that I got to fight two high-speed buffed Marauders at once. Doom Eternal rocks.
Neptunia Virtual Stars is a great new direction for the series. It's weird and unexpected, but it's a breath of fresh-air compared to the familiar territory the last few games have been treading. There's a massive amount of love for vtuber culture in this game and it helps lift up the fun and refreshing story. It's a shame that the combat couldn't reach the same highs as the rest of the game, but while it's a major wrinkle, it doesn't ruin the entire experience. Any hardcore vtuber fan needs to play this game, and some clunky combat won't change that.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the most ambitious Ys game to date, delivering a larger focus on narrative and a much more involved and organic world to explore. The game stumbles under its ambitions a bit, with a slow opening chapter and a consistently struggling framerate. Despite those issues, though, this is easily one of the best entries in the long-running franchise, and while veteran fans will get a lot out of the callbacks sprinkled throughout the game, newcomers are still in for one of the best action RPGs of the year.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a significant shift for the series, being the first-ever direct sequel with a returning protagonist in all of Atelier. While this isn't a perfect entry point for newcomers, Atelier Ryza 2 builds on every aspect of the previous game flawlessly. Even with some minor hiccups, the immersive exploration systems and addictive combat are top-notch. The gorgeous visuals and comfy music are just as much of a delight, but the best piece of the puzzle is the relatable narrative about growth and friendship that I won't soon forget. A highlight of the Atelier series, and an absolute must-play.