I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing through Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s smooth to play, easy to pick up and put down while also offering a degree of challenge to those who might be a little rusty in the platformer department. While I don’t think it necessarily does a whole lot in terms of taking the genre to the next level or revolutionising it in any way, what it does do is actively showcase the solid foundations of its predecessors while also making small quality of life improvements to the gameplay. At this stage of the franchise’s development, I think that’s a reasonable place for it to be. I’m also curious to see where the series progresses from here on out, and what future improvements will look like to an already well-rounded bundle of dinosaur shenanigans.
One Piece: World Seeker is an encouraging step in the right direction for licensed anime games. It’s not outstanding in any way, and it doesn’t push any boundaries, but the open world design feels refreshing, the gameplay is fun enough, and, in this particular case, the pull of the One Piece franchise is enough to warrant attention from the gaming mainstream. There are still many teething and performance issues that will need to be fixed if World Seeker is going to be considered a design template for future titles. However, for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about what the future holds for titles like this, and that’s a far better feeling than I’ve had about anime video games in a long time.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a game that still holds up today, so it’s no surprise it’s just as great on the 3DS with the release of Extra Epic Yarn. Much like with Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey earlier in the year, I’m excited that Nintendo is still offering us the opportunity to play these older games we may have missed. With the coming release of Yoshi’s Crafted World, as well, there’s no time like now than to revisit the title that ushered in this fresh approach to platformers by Nintendo. The new features might not add much to the overall experience, but if you haven’t played it before, do yourself a favour and boot up the ol’ girl for one last good old fashioned adventure.
While Kingdom Hearts 3 is definitely a game that represents the apex of its many iterations and one I’d recommend to longtime fans without hesitation, to me it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. There are indeed elements about the game you could fairly criticise, but in a journey that has spanned close to the length of two decades, it’s hard to quantify something that makes you feel so strongly, an intangible essence that is immeasurable in scope and depth. At the very foundation of the series lies a message and courage that I hope never becomes lost, and is something I want to strive to hold in mind every day. It’s unapologetically optimistic and rewinds the clock back to the age of innocence, and in these times I feel like that’s something we could all use in our lives.
You know when you purchase your favourite packet of chips from the shops, take them home, and upon opening them, find they’re half filled with air? Well, that’s kind of how My Hero One’s Justice feels. It’s slick as all hell, looks great, and has the elements to be a winner because it has a great foundation backed with solid gameplay. However, it’s also just a bit empty and leaves you with the feeling of wanting more. With some minor tweaks, My Hero One’s Justice could have fallen the other way into a “must have” sort of game. Unfortunately for now, though, you’re going to have to satiate yourself with a couple of tasty handfuls and nibble at the crumbs that dropped onto your shirt.
I immediately wanted to invite some friends around so I had an excuse to bring out Playgrounds 2. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also difficult to sustain lengthy sessions of play by yourself when there’s not much more than three different modes to cycle through. It’s a decent game that ultimately suffers from a lack of content, and for that, the game stumbles before the finish line, unfortunately. While I’d recommend giving it a look, especially if you loved NBA Jam back in the day, it’s also something you could sleep on for a while before giving it a shot.
The re-release of Luigi’s Mansion provides the perfect platform for fans who’re looking to re-engage with the series before the tentatively titled “Luigi’s Mansion 3” releases on the Nintendo Switch next year. It was also a fantastic throwback to the early 2000s for a 30-year-old kid who made the error of straying from the path of N, and I relished every second playing this GameCube classic and will continue to cherish the series as a Luigi diehard. All I can say is put your money where your mouth is, and back the guy in green!
While some things still need to be worked on to return WWE games to the golden age of the PS1/2 era, this is the best wrestling game that has been turned out over the last 5 years. 2K seems to have finally listened to the calls of fans and critics alike and have managed to make a successful overhaul of their series work in just a year. In closing my review of WWE 2K18 last year, I vowed I wouldn’t be trying another WWE game for a few years, but I just couldn’t help myself. And I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to renege on my promise because I got to witness what could be the rebirth of top-tier WWE gaming.
While I just want to outright say that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an excellent game, it’s honestly not the final message I took away from this series. The most striking take away for me has been the evolution of the character of Lara Croft, developing from a video game sex symbol in the ’90s to a legitimate heroine in the 2010s. While Lara is still sexy, it’s not her looks that define her character in a singular dimension. Her intelligence, strength and tenacity are all equal and make up the sum of her parts far more. I’m sad to say goodbye to Lara for now, but I’m also thankful for the experiences I’ve had playing these games. Lara has defined a generation of aspirational women, and I’m excited to see what awaits her in the future.
The biggest question mark on NBA 2K19 is if the game can be separated from its economy? And the answer is no, definitely not. Your character can’t both look cool with baller swag and be good at the game unless you’re willing to put in hundreds of hours or spend a significant amount of money. However, can the game be enjoyed despite its economy? Absolutely. Despite the dire circumstances of 2K going all-in on VC, NBA 2K19 has seen a return to form for MyCareer mode as well as a solid showing across every single game mode. But when 50% of your game is heavily reliant upon a “pay-to-win” system, there is something fundamentally flawed about the product and message that you’re putting out to your players and potential audiences. I understand the need for video games to make money, but there are more ethical ways of doing so without ruining the experience along the way. Please buy NBA 2K19 because it’s a great game, but don’t give in to the pressure of the non-existent shiny gold coins – they’re just not worth it.
Available for free, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a straight up must-play. Whether you’ve played any of the previous Life is Strange games, or are a newcomer to the series, Captain Spirit caters for all audiences regardless of exposure. More importantly, however, is the manner in which Captain Spirit tackles challenging issues while also being able to maintain a spirit of innocence at the same time. In all honesty, it manages to do this with a grace and style that very few other mediums, let alone video games, have been able to achieve with artistic integrity. Thank you sincerely Dontnod, for making me remember both the difficulty and innocence that comes with being a child.
While instituting a host of unique and exciting ideas, the problem is that Vampyr doesn’t offer you much more than that at its foundation. Performance issues instituted repetition, and minor mistakes make for a game that smacks of potential but never manages to stick the landing properly. A problem that seems endemic to the gaming industry are games that promise too much and often fall short of our expectations, and this is the case here. Vampyr is okay, and some will find enjoyment in playing it, but it’s far from the great game it could’ve been.
Shadow of the Colossus is the gold standard of video game remakes for this generation, period. Bluepoint Games deserves all the credit for offering a remake worthy of the praise placed upon the original, and as such have given an entirely new audience license to experience one of video games most exceptional titles. Forget the cynical rhetoric around "cash grabs" and easy franchise milking with texture update "HD remasters." Instead, I hope this game becomes enshrined as a new sort of video game remake renaissance in which new and old audiences alike can experience classic titles as if they were brand new again. However you need to do it, make sure to get your hands on a copy of Shadow of the Colossus on PS4.