Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy more-or-less does what the sequel should be. We're on another adventure in the Ryza universe with refinements, returning with Ryza herself and the crew, no less. I can see how certain features being streamlined, such as synthesizing, may be seen as toned down for long-time players, but it just feels better. Atelier is probably too wholesome for its own good, as often the obvious and expected are just that, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Ryza 2 provides some new mechanics that leaves one wondering about future improvements and is enough to enjoy embarking on a new adventure. (Even though Fi was largely annoying for most of the game).
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is just one of those games from the era where you either have a good time with it or you just don't have a good time at all. For recurring players of the original who knows what they're getting into, they will likely enjoy it. However, they very well may end up disappointed as there is no offline multiplayer and online multiplayer seems convoluted and archaic probably not worth the hassle. Even if we had all the offline and online modes created as wonderfully smooth experiences, the core gameplay didn't get the quality of life improvements it very much needed to have. Check out what others have to say about it, maybe get some friends who are on board with playing, and it could provide a decent time worth the number of hassles.
Nihon Falcom are the best at what they do; creating the finest JRPGs. If you've dreamed of recapturing the feeling of JRPGs from the golden days, don't overlook this game. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is everything you want in a JRPG, yet gives you more with great attention to detail. The characters, writing, story, gameplay, and music are all high notes. Even if you must start with this one, then do it. There's no JRPG like Trails of Cold Steel 3. It's a masterclass of its own.
https://youtu.be/1y23ER6bY74 Langrisser I & II is an important collection to have and be reminded of the finesse that tactical rpg's can have. It's nowhere near as popular as some games already mentioned in this review, but in ways outclassed them for when it released during its time. If you're looking straight up goodness and want plenty of hours to sink your teeth into a meaty strategy rpg experience, Langrisser I & II has been remastered and deserves the attention. It's not going to be seen as groundbreaking in 2020, but it holds up in 2020 and certainly helped pave the way to where we are today.
If you're looking for an RPG with robust customization and a deep battle system, Heroland won't offer that. Without it, Heroland is still fun. If you are looking for sharp writing and charming characters, then Heroland will offer that plenty. Hilarity ensues. This game is all about taking on something a little lighter in scope and still wanting to be entertained throughout your 20 hour journey. You can see the passion and fun that went into creating it. Heroland's creators is an ensemble with credible pedigree and it is a success.
EarthNight is superb audio-visual experience that has its own style. It just simply looks awesome. The rather short gameplay with no incentive to keep playing is one issue, but can be overlooked if you just like the gameplay for what it is. The convoluted way of padding for upgrades and the procedurally-generated elements that can't commit to one unique playstyle that is player-dependent is what hurts it overall.
Children of Morta is has multiple beautiful pieces that fit together. The Diablo-esque style gameplay is satisfying. The emphasis on family and bonds is told & shown throughout the game in a wholesome way. The pixel graphics and animation are very high quality and is simply gorgeous. There's oomph and impact you can feel. The procedurally-generated dungeon runs and grind might not be for everyone, but Dead Mage Studio shows exactly how it can be done properly.
One indie gem that I thoroughly enjoyed was 2018's Moonlighter. Sparklite is the "outdoor" version of that game, but doesn't succeed as well as it. This is a 2D Zelda roguelike that implements so much for its own good that it turned out a bit underwhelming in the end. The pixel graphics hit the spot, the music is soothing and evokes previous eras of gaming, and the controls are responsive. There's so much here, however, that no one particular element feels exceptional to another or as a whole, leaving many features of Sparklite feeling like they can be ignored. Red Blue Games is talented and sparked something good, but one should take the "lite" for its word.
New Super Lucky's Tale is the most refined version of the game to date. There's so many tweaks, additions and improvements to the game that it's perfect that it got the treatment it deserves when hopefully more people get their hands-on time with it. It's Conker's Good Fur Day. Any one who enjoys 3D platformers such as the typical Super Mario or Banjo-Kazooie should give this a look. The only downside is that it's easier, but that still doesn't mean it can't be fun with the tight controls and gameplay variety it has to back that up. New Super Lucky's Tale has been part of the resurgence of 3D platformers and I just hope it's enough to get a true sequel.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout not only turns a new leaf for the series, but is the perfect entry for newcomers as well. The revamped synthesis mechanics are just that much better. I personally feel that the new turn-based/realtime battle system is an improvement by being fast and feeling fresh, but may not be for all. It just takes a while to unlock all its best features. The cast of characters and the new visual upgrade really amplify the cozy slice-of-life nature the series is known for. The plot stays steady, but it's the slow burn of the main cast and people of Kurken Island that make it worth it if the slice-of-life genre is your jam. It's wholesome, jolly vibes all around.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch hits all the high notes. It's a great JRPG, but it also transports you into an interactive Studio Ghibli world. The art and sound is directly that of Studio Ghibli. Careful production and planning went into this and it shows. It's easily one of the best out there. The Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming the one-stop RPG machine and this is one of the top recommendations. Many games in the genre can keep your attention, but seldom do you get one to entertain you like this one. It has that magic. Studio Ghibli: The RPG, developed by veteran Level-5.
The Sinking City might be worth looking into for anyone who enjoys using their noggin to solve investigations. It may be even more intriguing if you enjoy getting sucked into Lovecraft atmosphere. You might even say we can never have too much of either of these and that's probably true. This game shouldn't be overlooked at all, but what lies here is potential drowned in a sea of mishaps. If only the optimization and performance on Nintendo Switch was a little better and the controls didn't feel like it was borrowed from a previous console generation, it could've been smooth sailing to a full recommendation.
You're either in for it or you're not. Gun Gun Pixies has the right concept and mixture of things to satisfy. It has platforming, shooting and takes the ecchi genre full-on with babes and more babes. The most frustrating aspect of the game are its controls. Platforming and movement is super clunky. Shooting sensitivity is one speed and not dynamic. The gameplay suffers as a result. That isn't to say being miniature running around rooms without being detected and shooting larger than life girls doesn't have its appeal. If one can deal with the controls, there's certainly entertainment to be had. If only the gameplay was as great as the visual novel aspect, it would be a well-rounded experience overall.
I didn't know how interested I was in Creature in the Well until I've first seen it. I didn't know how much I wanted it until I first played it. Creature in the Well is a mashup of some stellar genres and it serves up a fresh dish of well-balanced gameplay. There's more skill needed here than a simple hack & slash, but the challenge is enough that it feels satisfying at any level. Though some puzzles are rather simple, others challenge you in all the right ways and reward you for it. It's a unique game that remained fun for its entirety and one that begs for more content and/or a sequel. Another indie highlight for the books.
If winter never came for you, then it's here now. Vambrace: Cold Soul does a fine job in its atmosphere and has the lore built around it that's believable and easy to get into. It's a harsh world and death could come easily. It's even more enjoyable thanks to the fantastic artwork and dozens of outfits to unlock. The turn-based battles aren't groundbreaking, but they're enough to present a challenge at the very least. What's impressive about Vambrace is its world. Every character has something new to say after every event and so much of it can be missed. Depending on your choices, you will get one of three different endings. The people you meet along the way play a huge role in what's to be seen. Even with its flaws, Vambrace: Cold Soul is a chilling ride that many players could warm up to.
6 Eyes Studio is a 2-person developer who had a vision to make a great rpg experience and they've succeeded in every regard. Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is a joy to play. Turn-based Strategy purists should give this one a run as the customization and gameplay are easily the core highlights to that type of experience. The fantastic art and music only make the experience grander. If you've been missing a Final Fantasy Tactics-like game, then look no further.
The Forbidden Arts is charming, colorful, and has its heart in the right place. The 2D portions make up the bulk of the experience resulting in fun exploration and boss fights. The 3D portions are bland and empty making it not the focus if that was one's assumption. That leaves everything else riding on the 2D levels which are fine as they are, being varied and full of enemies, hazards and platforming challenges. It's the poor implementation of the mechanics and design that hinders the experience. What you think should work and doesn't only causes frustration. Toss in a few glitches and you only wish this had more time in the oven. Still, it's a solid effort that's likable. If you can get past the hurdles, you'll be left satisfied with a side of disappointment for dessert.
Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is a fine platformer. The quality in its graphics, controls and gameplay mechanics make the challenge worth going through. It's also nice that the humor will keep things light when going through the darkness of death. You may die a lot, and you should, but that's the journey. The occasional frustration of some levels are due to the challenge itself and not by bad design. There's some interesting things to see here. For players who want a little more finesse to their platforming, there's plenty of fun here.
Etherborn defies gravity in a very elegant way and in-turn becomes relaxing especially when being accompanied by a pleasant score is placed into the mix. The story feels like one version of plenty that's been done before, pertaining to creation, but it's not necessarily bad. It's just not that engaging. The way Etherborn makes each environment one large puzzle to solve by walking on each of its so-called sides and call for your wits is done nicely. Etherborn is an artistic, environmental puzzle-solving showcase that has class and Altered Matter has expressed their creative talent.
SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball is not to be overlooked when looking at it from a gameplay perspective. The core mechanics are fun and use interesting ideas that add more flare to a plain table experience and will have you coming back for another round to top your last score. Fans of the series now have their sexy shinobi as the centerpiece of the pinball table, which also serves as a gameplay element. The detail on each table with its objects and gimmicks, the visual effects and sound only better the experience. HD rumble feels great. Plenty to unlock and customize. There's a lot going for it in regards to both the pinball aspect and the ladies involved. Sometimes the story is cute, but it's really the only downside to Peach Ball as it's mostly slow and re-purposed for each girl's set of story missions which makes it an overall drag; if you care about a story for an addicting pinball game involving provocative, busty females.