Mario vs. Donkey Kong has been remade nearly perfectly, and it's certainly great for any forgotten title to get an update and a facelift. The platforming is still tight, but the simple truth is that puzzle games as a genre have moved on in the twenty years since the original. That means nothing about it really stands out, either as a puzzle game or a Mario game. Still, that doesn't mean you won't have fun with it as you wait for Nintendo's next main-line Mario.
Remaking an older series that never got much limelight is always a good thing, and Another Code: Recollection has gone above and beyond updating its look and feel for the modern day. The problem is that those updates have removed everything that made the original games unique, and have re-invented the story in a way that is not to its benefit. It might still be a nice time if you're in the mood for something simple and slow-paced, but it's certainly no replacement for the originals.
It's great to see a game about a culture that often doesn't see a lot of focus. A Highland Song has a lot of great concepts, but they just don't all come together cohesively. Even so, it has a story worth telling and some pretty fantastic music to boot.
Slay the Princess is an entertainingly dark and subversive visual novel with hidden depths that makes for a great few hours. For developer Black Tabby Games' second title, it's a very encouraging success indeed, and proves that its horror-telling chops in Scarlet Hollow wasn't just a fluke. I will be keenly looking forward to its next title.
Coral Island takes cues from the best games in the business to create a mix of farming and lifestyle gameplay, and so it gets most things right. It's lacking in a bit of unique flavour and the first few seasons play a bit like a Stardew Valley clone, but it comes into its own soon enough. I wish the more interesting ocean gameplay hadn't been relegated to the 2024 roadmap, but what's here is just as addicting as any great farming sim. It's only going to get better, and it's an easy recommendation for genre fans.
There wasn't much to improve about the original, but Croteam has succeeded in creating an incredible sequel in The Talos Principle 2. The puzzles are better, the world is larger, and the narrative is even more thought-provoking. Top it off with a breathtaking environment and a moving soundtrack, and this just might be the puzzle game of the year.
With or without friends, WarioWare: Move it! will have you smiling at every turn. Featuring hundreds of new and quirky micro-games, Move it! gets you on your feet and moving once more by striking silly poses with the Joy-Cons, which feels (mostly) natural and accurate. It's not the kind of game you can play for hours, but it will be one to return to any time you need a pick-me-up. Its sense of humor and goofy mechanics will stay fresh for years to come. Finally, this is the successor to Smooth Moves we've been waiting for.
Sonic Superstars is packed with classic sonic charm, gorgeous visuals, and fun, fast-paced levels that we love from all 2D Sonic games. But the two big ticket selling points, the chaos emerald abilities and battle mode, are sadly its weakest links. The story mode is still largely enjoyable, and some better implementations of the new abilities but make a sequel to this game legitimately great. If you're a fan of classic Sonic, you'll likely still enjoy this title.
Assassin's Creed Mirage might be a smaller experience than the mammoths that have preceded it, but that doesn't make it lesser. Clocking in at a decent 20-30 hours of streamlined gameplay and story, it's a great return to form to the stealth-focused days of Altair and Ezio. While the main missions could have used more variety, it's encouraging to see that Ubisoft hasn't forgotten the franchise's roots.
As a bachelor project, [I] Doesn't Exist certainly demonstrates the technical competency of its developers, but as a game in its own right, it doesn't particularly offer anything unique or worthwhile. Using parser controls to tell an unconventional narrative is an interesting concept, but the actual conversations to be had are vague, unhelpful, and don't tell a decipherable narrative. Check it out if you're jonesing for a hit of retro parser gameplay, but there's otherwise not much here that makes it stand out.
Baldur's Gate 3 breaks through the recent dirth of huge narrative RPGs to deliver something incredible. It's an outstanding achievement that will stand the test of time even as we move into the next generation of gaming. It's a masterpiece in both design and implementation, with only some pervasive performance issues and gameplay bugs to sometimes drag the experience down. Still, the narrative, graphic design, voice performances, and tactical gameplay do a lot to bring the experience back up to amazing.
Despite the promising combination of dating sim and resource management mechanics, Lakeburg Legacies doesn't lean hard enough in either direction, resulting in a wishy-washy game that's charming in looks but lacking in substance. The bones of a good game are here, but it just doesn't come together into something memorable.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is an easy recommendation for fans of the Danganronpa series. It's got the same dark humor and an unapologetically weird premise, and it features a slightly different take on the contradiction-smashing gameplay that made the former series stand out. There's some room for improvement in what's been added, but if you can stand some stale anime tropes and imperfect graphics, Rain Code is a crazy enjoyable ride full of twists and turns.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox takes a unique concept but doesn't quite manage to assemble something memorable out of the sum of its parts. A combination of unsatisfying combat and clunky controls makes for a poor metroidvania, and its narrative and puzzle elements are not enough to make up for it. There is some fun to be had here though, and its graphical style certainly makes it easy on the eyes.
Murderous Muses is a bite-sized mystery with an entertaining gimmick and a lush background of lore, and it's a taste of what might be the next frontier for FMV; puzzle exploration. The overarching mystery is enough to keep players engaged for the 10-15 hours it takes to unlock everything, though the simplicity of its puzzles otherwise limits its replayability. The video performances are a bit hit-and-miss, but the camp vibe of the entire experience makes it all part of the show.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is a quirky little diversion from the main series. Replacing swift combat with slow-paced exploration and puzzles, it's quite a different attraction. I love the storybook illustrations and narration, and exploring the atmospheric Avalon Forest with Cheshire's various abilities was great fun. Issues with the forest's discouraging mazelike map and the simplistic combat are easily trumped by the oodles of character and charm offered by this whimsical spin-off.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe only improves on the original. It's great to be able to play as Magolor in the new epilogue, which changes up the platforming gameplay simply but effectively. There's even more fun to be had playing subgames in Merry Magoland with your friends. If you're playing solo, there might not be as much to keep your attention, but it will still be a short and sweet adventure.
Fire Emblem Engage is an okay addition to the Fire Emblem series, with fun and varied maps and enough changes to the tactical mechanics to make it probably worth playing for any FE fan, though not all of its changes are winners. Its spectacular graphics are something to behold; it's just a shame that it is accompanied by a story that falls completely flat and emblem heroes that are shadows of their former selves. It's just sadly underwhelming in the face of what its predecessor, Three Houses, achieved better.
Floodland has a lot of great ideas and an addicting gameplay loop, but its Clan mechanics quickly suck any fun out of a game as soon it rears its ugly head. With only one scenario to play and no customisation options for these clans, it's all too easy to suffer a slow decline for reasons that don't feel like your fault. With such a major mechanic feeling so flawed, it's hard not to feel like Floodland has taken a wrong turn at the last minute. For such a solid base, it's a real shame.
Do you want more of Bayonetta 1 and 2? That's Bayonetta 3! It keeps the heart and soul of the first two games in every sense, but adds even more fun ways to pound your enemies into the dirt with style. Its chock-full of action set pieces, each more ridiculous than the last - it stays at 100% almost the whole time. Our favourite witch is back in black!