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.