It takes a stroke of genius to make a game as codified in the collective unconsciousness as Tetris unique again, and yet here we are. It doesn’t reinvent the squares nor does it rest comfortably within the expected. Instead, it becomes something that’s more suited to modern expectations and sensory enjoyment. I urge you to approach Tetris Effect: Connected not with an open mind but instead an empty one, letting it take the lead and trusting we’re all in its good hands together.
For my money, WarioWare: Get It Together! works as a continuation of the series but doesn’t push it forward in a truly meaningful way. Some of the faults of the previous release are still present, leading me to think they might be here to stay with the current direction. Still, after years of experimentation and a fresher style since Gold, it’s nice to see the team’s still got it where it counts – the microgames, and the weird wonderfulness that Wario and his team can bring.
If you’re new to this rainbow-blood-soaked world you’ll be missing some context on certain characters (even Travis Strikes Again is essential for full comprehension), but this also manages to be one of the best examples of a creator putting themself into their work despite some frustrations along the way. When that creator is Suda51, you can’t afford to miss it.
Spelunky 2 may not make the kinds of waves that its predecessor did, likely as a consequence of the growth of indies and roguelikes in general. Don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s any less addictive and enjoyable. If you ever think you’ll just play for a bit you’re sure to lose yourself in these lunar caverns, driven by the seemingly infinite possibilities and risk of death. Even if you may never see everything it has to offer, you’ll never feel like you’re missing out with this nearly perfect sequel.
NEO: The World Ends with You manages to hit its streets running by maintaining everything interesting, unique, and enjoyable about the first game. The changes in hardware and playable characters have tweaked things slightly, but it feels like positive growth that improves the series or at least puts a fresh, wicked twist on it. Following up on a cult favorite game over a decade later is no easy feat, but Square Enix have done it as well as I could imagine.
Eldest aims to replicate the Soulsborne experience in its own stripped down way. Don’t mistake “stripped down” to mean it’s light or superficial, though, as Fallen Flag Studio have crafted something all their own through a gush of blood and gorgeous pixels.
My highest praise goes to the overall aesthetic. Fantastic Night Dreams is at once vibrant and somewhat gothic in its presentation, with the colorful sprites and characters flying freely through starlit nights and haunted caverns. These already looked nice in the original Cotton, helping it stand out even among other cute ‘em ups, but are even more pronounced in the arranged version. Paired with the excellent soundtrack for stages (which has also gotten completely rearranged, with the originals still available) the whole of a playthrough is a trick-or-treat for the eyes and ears.
What it never stops being, though, is interesting. A blend of unapologetic and bittersweet were the lasting flavors, and even if I didn’t savor every moment that brought me to the end it was a refreshingly unique break from reality.