The original JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle dropped on the PlayStation 3 in 2013 at the tail end of CyberConnect2’s golden era. Released just a few months after Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, All-Star Battle benefited from the wealth of arena fighting game experience CC2 had accumulated throughout the 2000s. Now almost a decade later, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R retains all of its old-school charm and heaps of content while looking better than ever before.
While K-pop groups like Blackpink and BTS are credited with popularizing idols in the West, the concept of idols and idol culture originated in Japan and continues to thrive there. Idol Manager is all about creating the next big group to top the charts and sell out arenas while navigating the cutthroat Japanese idol scene. It’s a harsh but unrelenting look at all the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to make it to the world stage, and it’s an absolutely addicting (if not soul-crushing) experience.
The Kunio-Kun series (known as River City in the West) has been through every incarnation imaginable. From its humble beginnings on the NES chronicling the adventures of delinquent high school boys to the excellent River City Girls that gave Kyoko and Misako a chance to shine last generation, the River City series has been faithfully serving beat ‘em up fans for years. Now, that same series is tackling the famous Romance of the Three Kingdoms story and making it its own. What results is a cheesy but heartfelt beat ‘em up that stumbles just a bit in its execution.
When Nexon first announced that they would be collaborating with Arc System Works to develop a fighting game based on Dungeon Fighter Online, the response was a bit muted. Arc System Works is arguably the best fighting game studio in the industry right now, but working with an IP that has such a niche audience–no matter how huge that IP may be–didn’t set the fighting game community on fire. Fast forward a year and a half later, though, and there’s no doubt that DNF Duel earns its place as one of the more accessible and polished releases the studio has had thus far.
Iconoclasts is a game that you can't help but smile while playing. The meticulous attention to detail in every facet of the game save its storytelling (which is good, just not great) is remarkable. Failure to capitalize on the Switch's HD Rumble is a bit disappointing, but it's a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent experience.
SpiritSphere DX is a good game. Its colorful cast of characters and catchy, earworm soundtrack are all-around inviting and pleasant. The core gameplay (and, for my money, the addicting Squash Mode) is fun alone or with a friend. However, the general lack of single player content and a few disappointing design decisions keep it from being a must-have.
Sushi Striker wears its 3DS roots on its sleeve, but the core gameplay is addicting and the production values (minus the overworld) are top notch. Though it might appear like a high-end mobile game, this is the full-fledged real deal. If you don't mind dealing with a few pacing issues, this is easy to recommend to anyone who enjoys deep puzzle games.
The Banner Saga is a marvel as a personalized adventure game. The experience of leading a caravan and constantly making impactful choices that directly decide their fates is one that I'll never forget (and one that I look forward to continuing in Banner Saga 2). However, though its SRPG elements are generally good fun, they're not quite as polished (or balanced) as the rest of the package.
Death Road to Canada is an addictive and fresh take on the undeniably stale zombie genre. The game's sharp writing and ridiculous events filled with personality inspire multiple runs just out of want to experiment with the different outcomes. Though the game fails to utilize a couple key features of the Switch that would've truly enhanced the player experience, it's still great fun to be had here.
Sea of Thieves is a fun game that feels incomplete. It succeeds in delivering a vast and polished pirate sandbox to enjoy with your friends, but its appeal wears thin due to a lack of content. Without an overarching narrative or any kind of player progression beyond earning better quests that offer more gold for skins, there's little reason to come back to Sea of Thieves outside of having fun with a group of friends.
Chess Ultra is ultimately a triumph as an atmospheric, streamlined chess game that both newcomers and experts can enjoy. What the game lacks in environments and chess sets it makes up for with high production values and plenty of extra features. Cross-play with the Xbox One and PC versions is a welcome bonus.