There is a lot to love in the Super Mario RPG remake. An adorable art style, deceptively deep combat, an excellent updated soundtrack, and genuinely funny skits and writing all make this game as much of a joy to play as the SNES original. If you can look past the simplicity of the game overall, and the occasionally frustrating experience that is the jumping puzzles, this is a stellar addition to the Switch's already stacked library.
Detective Pikachu Returns falls flat, feeling like a hollow experience with under-baked and sparse bolts of brilliance. Wide and mostly empty areas, a difficulty level smaller than a Cutiefly, slightly more gameplay than your standard visual novel, short run time and limited usage of its one truly unique and fun mechanic. Forgive the cliche, but most of Detective Pikachu Returns' moves just weren't very effective.
The Baten Kaitos Collection is a duology remaster that's full of contrasts, demonstrating perfectly the highs and lows that come with bringing decades old games to new consoles. The two games are great little JRPGs from yesteryear, however given the weird nature of the first and the generic nature of the second, it's difficult to recommend to any but those wanting the nostalgia trip or die-hard fans of the genre.
Smooth combat, seamless exploration and a set of well-executed mechanics makes Lies of P an excellent Soulslike. When you add in the gorgeous visuals, desolate world design, stark sound design and engrossing story, it raises the experience above a lot of its contemporaries. All in all, although Lies of P is essentially Bloodborne featuring Timothée Chalamet, it does more than enough to mark itself out as a unique title worth your time – and I'm not lying.
There's a lot to love with FUGA 2, and the game is incredibly rewarding if you commit to the experience. It's an improvement in every possible way on the original and provides an impactful and heart wrenching story with engaging gameplay throughout. If you played and loved the original game, this is an absolutely essential purchase, and even if you didn't, this is turn-based strategy done very right. Just don't you dare let Boron get loaded into the Soul Cannon, you monster.
If you can look past (or appreciate) the brazen clichés and huge levels of fan service, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a phenomenal murder mystery visual novel. The gorgeous world, wonderful characters and genuinely well-constructed mysteries combine into a thoroughly enjoyable if bizarre experience. If other similar games like Danganronpa or Ace Attorney are your bag, this is definitely worth investigating.
Octopath Traveler II manages to improve on almost every aspect of its predecessor, whether they needed it or not. The exploration is deeper with more nooks and crannies to nose your way through. The combat is far more intricate, giving greater options to build your party and skillset, and a large degree of player choice. The visuals are absolutely beautiful, and the sound design is phenomenal once again. Honestly, Octopath Traveler II has basically negated the need to play the first title, and I cannot think of higher praise.
Disney Dreamlight Valley is already proving itself to be a feature-rich and engaging game, with a really addictive "one more quest" feel to it. Once the issues are fixed, and with some more characters added to the game, this could become the best Disney game in years. Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to continue plugging hours into the game until I get Stitch in my valley as they're teased in the loading screens and I want to befriend them.
Live A Live is hands down one of the most interesting games I've experienced in a while. A neat little package made up of completely disparate elements, it shouldn't work but it does. Add in some truly clever gameplay mechanics, the gorgeous HD-2D visuals and phenomenal soundtrack, and you have a game I would urge any JRPG fan to play.
Once you're past the horrendously long queues to actually get into the game, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker was an almost flawless experience. This conclusion to a decade-long tale is told with a visual, musical and narrative artistry that isn't often seen in any medium. Endwalker doesn't quite reach the heights of earlier parts of the series, but it sure as hell ends the current arc with a bang and everyone involved with this game should feel damn proud of themselves.
Life Is Strange: True Colors is an incredible new addition to the series. It brings perhaps the most likeable protagonist yet, the absolutely gorgeous Haven Springs, and an excellent supporting cast together for an intensely emotional but hopeful tale. With enough gorgeous sweeping cinematic shots to put an indie film to shame, and some absolutely incredible writing, Alex's journey is something you must experience.
Dodgeball Academia provides a huge amount of fun with it's easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay, and Saturday morning cartoon vibes. Throwing together a roster of excellent characters with fourth wall-breaking writing and some great story beats, Dodgeball Academia honestly shines far brighter than we ever expected. This is the best thing to happen to dodgeball since that Ben Stiller movie, although how much of a compliment this is is up for debate.
Balancing excellent strategic gameplay with great writing and a tank-full of heart, Fuga: Melodies of Steel continues the excellent track record of the Little Tail Bronx series. A set of great characters, beautiful visuals and excellent music precede an emotional journey through a war-torn world through the eyes of a group entirely unprepared for the choices they will have to make. This won't be for everyone by any means, but what is here was clearly made with a lot of care.
For a small and reasonably-priced DLC, Mr. X Nightmare brings a lot to the table. Not only does it add a new mode with a decent amount of depth, but three new characters and a lot of other small changes. Streets of Rage 4 was already an incredible game and a worthy successor to the iconic franchise, but Mr. X Nightmare has made so many refinements and tweaks that it has raised it to the level where it has surpassed them. All it took was adding one key factor - replayability.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has all the hallmarks of the Ace Attorney series, with excellent characters and brilliant writing through the remastered duology's ten cases, but there's some clever flourishes that make the story and gameplay far more interesting and enjoyable. The only objection we have is that it took far too long for these excellent Victorian adventures to reach the West!
Cris Tales is an absolutely incredible homage to classic JRPGs, whilst taking care to modernise their core mechanics for modern audiences. The gorgeous visual style, superb voice acting, clever mechanics and emotive story-telling all combine together here to make an incredible title. Then, with the addition of comprehensive and innovative uses of time in all parts of the game, it becomes a near perfect experience. Cris Tales has arguably surpassed its JRPG inspirations and absolutely deserves your time (pun entirely intended).
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance fails to live up to both the potential of its placement in the D&D canon and the legacy of the Dark Alliance name. As a mediocre-to-good game, depending on whether you're alone or with friends, the whole experience is sluggish and dull in execution, and sails close to the average tabletop D&D session where you play for four hours and somehow only walk down a single corridor, but without the enjoyment that comes with that experience.
A formerly excellent game brought down significantly by a poor remaster with barely any upgrades to sell it to a new audience, at a price that's a little too high for what the game is. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance still has a great, classic DnD story and setting, with an excellent musical score, but the experience is marred by technical issues that range from disappearing sound effects and frame rate drops to frequent crashes.
Balan Wonderworld is a passable platformer marred by a string of increasingly baffling design decisions. It has charm by the bucketload and off-the-wall concepts that land well in spite of themselves, but the experience is inconsistent at best and frustrating at worst. There is a good game in here somewhere, and it is great fun at points, but waiting for those points isn't really worth it.
What Bravely Default II has retained from previous games has been polished to a high standard and delivers the perfect slice of turn-based JRPG nonsense you're craving. However, be warned as the areas that have changed aren't as solidly executed and can have frustrating results. Bravely Default II is definitely worth the look for JRPG fans or fans of the series, but be prepared for an experience that's a tad rough at times.