An exercise in design excellence, Death’s Door recognizes and capitalizes on its strengths to deliver a smart, creative, and thoroughly engaging adventure, painted with wonderful visual strokes and peppered with witty, thoughtful commentary on life, death, and how we spend the hours in-between. Sporting polish beyond its budget and ambition beyond its scale, Death’s Door is one of the year’s best releases, and a must-play for adventure fans everywhere. Don’t fear the Reaper.
Cotton Reboot! is a very pretty and highly enjoyable remake of one of the shmup genre’s most pioneering cute ’em ups — as endearing today as it has ever been while featuring surprisingly deep mechanics for score attack fanatics. It’s a shame a threadbare package, a subjectively high price, and distracting visual issues frequently threaten to spoil the party. For dedicated shmup heads, however, Cotton Reboot is an enjoyable blast from the past that comfortably paves the way for the sweet series’ incoming revival.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a visually gorgeous upgrade to a very rose-tinted release. While the flaws of the original game remain laid bare, Jankenteam accentuates the positives, reimagining one of console gaming’s earliest universes with stunning artwork, great animation, and a sophisticated score. New players will struggle with dated and baffling design choices, but those who hold tight the carefree afternoons of the Sega Master System will find a delightful trip down memory lane awaits.
15 years on, Ultimate Showdown finds Virtua Fighter 5 just as engaging as it ever was, maintaining its long-held reputation as one of the genre’s classiest and most enduring fighters. Woeful single-player content and receding features prevent the package from achieving its full potential but, despite its flaws, Ultimate Showdown costs little, looks good, and plays great. A welcome return to one of gaming’s most distinguished rings.
Kaze and the Wild Masks is an unashamed blast from the past, for better or worse. PixelHive's love letter to 16-bit gaming surmounts budgetary and design shortcomings with a compelling challenge, luscious visuals, and an evocative soundtrack, all punctuated by a solid underdog spirit. Kaze's polished but formulaic gameplay will not be to everyone's taste, but for those who long for the halcyon days when the platformer was king, it's most definitely wabbit season.
Capcom Arcade Stadium is a nostalgic look at a time when stained space carpets and deafening cacophonies were all the rage, performing admirably in its role at offering classic thrills in portable form. The lack of online multiplayer is disappointing, and the package will never feel truly complete until certain titles break free from licensing limbo, but as a way to while away lazy afternoons or dull commutes, CAS is worth its weight in credits.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood proudly wears the reverence for White Wolf's lore on its furry sleeve, with a dark-but-interesting universe and a fierce pro-environment/anti-capitalist message. But behind its wild, bloody carnage and well-meant intentions lies a dated and sorely repetitive stealth adventure that, among its contemporaries, fails to stand out from the pack.
As dynamic, engaging, and challenging today as they ever were, Turrican Flashback offers an authentic compilation of games from the classic series, without a single dud among them. Unfortunately, wafer-thin presentation, missing titles, and a complete lack of side-features (in addition to a subjectively high price-tag) let down what could of - should of - been an encapsulating tribute to one of history's most influential and beloved shooter franchises.
Once players get over the shock of its mechanical departures, Super Meat Boy Forever offers a solid and relentless auto-running experience. But there's no denying that this long-awaited sequel doesn't deliver the impact nor addictive magnetism of its predecessor. Regardless, those willing to look past this initial disappointment will discover a satisfactory time-killer, strongly adhering to the great visuals, manic presentation, and twisted humor that is the franchise's trademark.
From its shadowy story campaign to its frantic multiplayer action, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War offers the thrilling and magnetic gameplay expected of the series, shined up with solid character models, impressive vistas, and sharp visual effects. While there's undeniably room for improvement regarding innovation, Black Ops Cold War gets Call of Duty's third generation off to a strong start.