The Zelda series returns to its roots on 3DS, but uses the opportunity to introduce some fascinating new ideas. Classic gameplay, infused with fresh concepts and graced with stellar graphics and sound, make A Link Between Worlds one of the best games in the Zelda series and a must-own title this holiday.
Super Mario 3D World takes the excellent gameplay from its 3DS predecessor and expands upon it with 4-player co-op, new gameplay and even more creative levels. Mario's first 3D, HD adventure is bar none the best game on Wii U right now and the console's undisputed killer app. Whether played solo or with friends, it is a master class of platformer design and more importantly, one hell of a good time.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a master class in the art form of 2D platformers, but it's way too difficult for its own good and this makes the inherent flaws and limitations of the genre all the more obvious. Tropical Freeze is probably the best side-scrolling platformer we'll ever see from a technical standpoint. Now it's time for Nintendo to stop making them for a while and actually do something new.
Resident Evil 4 is still one of the best games ever made, but less-than-ideal mouse and keyboard controls and a barely noticeable texture upgrade keep this PC port from being the ultimate version of this masterpiece that it could have been.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 adds too many half-baked ideas to the original game's elegant framework. The result is a game that is half good, half frustrating, and all tedious. Just about every good idea in this game is held back by something that isn't quite finished or just plain doesn't work. Here's hoping Beenox gets more time to develop the inevitable Amazing Spider-Man 3, because there are good ideas here that just need some time and polish.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark tries to coast on the goodwill established by the previous two games, but mishandles their gameplay concepts with a badly rushed execution. Boring level design, an awful framerate and a confusing story make this game a slog from start to finish.
You wouldn't think it, but the Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright series complement each other very well. This game is fanservice at its best: gameplay styles that work beautifully together, two iconic characters teaming up to use their deductive skills, and thankfully a lack of cameos and franchise clutter. While not as challenging or involved as the best games from either series, this is still a crossover fans of both Wright and Layton don't want to pass up.
Hyrule Warriors is a different kind of Zelda game. That doesn't mean it's any less fun. Amazing production values, addictive gameplay, a rich story and an overall sense of extreme quality, polish and confidence make Hyrule Warriors much more than a mere spinoff.
Smash Bros for 3DS is a solid polish of everything that made Brawl great, but faster, tighter and with even more content. The new fighters and levels are excellent, the online play is smoother and more stable, and best of all, you can take the experience anywhere. Get ready to start the addiction all over again, because now you can carry it around in your pocket.