As a more complex genre that also relies on narrative, the improvements to Fire Emblem titles are multiplicative. Things like UI elements, a more streamlined inventory system, customizable skills, support conversations, and even the Weapon Triangle are all absent. Turning back the clock strips away not just iconic gameplay ideas, but gradually gathered quality of life improvements. This leaves a bare framework in their place. This is Fire Emblem through and through, make no mistake. It’s just the absolute minimum of what a Fire Emblem should be.
It’s streets ahead of the existing post-game, and thanks to the better realization of the Wild Area concept, I feel comfortable calling it an improvement on Sword and Shield’s biggest feature. It may not be a game changer, but the Isle of Armor still manages to be both an enjoyable slice of Pokémon and a satisfying taste of more to come.
How much you get out of Cindered Shadows will depend largely on what you enjoyed about Three Houses. If you want further exploration of Garreg Mach and Fodlan’s histories, a few new playable characters and classes, new facilities for your main save, and a concentrated dose of Fire Emblem; it does its part and then some. However if you were taken in by the multi-faceted narrative and freer customization of Three Houses, or expecting more on its cast, then you may walk away from Abyss disappointed.
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.
I’d sooner point you to the ACA NeoGeo offerings from the series, that’d be like writing off Link’s Awakening completely just because A Link to the Past exists. That analogy can be applied to the whole collection, in fact, particularly since SNK has made so much of its backlog available. You may be able to pick up a bigger, prettier game but don’t let that deter you from celebrating this unique handheld and its library.
No matter what, just be prepared for repetition by design. If not for the hardware limitations, based on content and gameplay I’d go so far as to call Legends the definitive edition of Hyrule Warriors. As it stands, it’s a fine handheld Warriors game for Zelda devotees, all at once a remake, alternative, and companion to its console predecessor.
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.
Pac-Man 99, as a fun and free download, manages to live up to its predecessors while standing as one of the better Pac-Man releases of recent memory. It’s addictive and perfect for quick sessions, though it’s easy to see all it has to offer just as fast.
There may be some faults with its modes and options, but that doesn’t make the meter-based tennis any less fun for local and online matches. It’s the perfect step forward for the series, even if it doesn’t manage to overtake all of its predecessors.
With its gorgeous visual aesthetic and downtempo pace, it’s the kind of game you want to play wrapped up in your blankets with the lights low. This bedtime story doesn’t shy away from darker subjects and star-crossed developments — it wears them proudly, making the game stand out amongst its contemporaries.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix makes for one of the most unique Switch experiences by its very nature. Best played in handheld with touch inputs, it shows the versatility of the system and brings back a fan favorite franchise with a fresh layer of HD paint.