While it could use more enemy variety and some areas that are more open, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a highly engaging action RPG featuring a love story I wanted to see through to its haunting conclusion. There are a lot of RPGs releasing in the first couple of months of this year, and with many of them being higher profile, it would be easy to overlook Banishers, but I hope players don’t do so. This is the exact sort of title we need studios to invest in more often.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is, in many ways, a new direction for this series, but there’s enough pulled from the past that it very much still feels like a Prince of Persia game. With excellent combat, some of the best platforming you’ll find in any Metroidvania, a fantastic world to explore, and a series of incredible powers to unlock, The Lost Crown keeps getting more interesting as you make your way through it. Fans of the series, the genre, or simply great games will want to check out Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.
Those are minor missteps, though, in an otherwise fantastic release. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is easily the most interesting a 2D Mario title has been since the 90s, and any fan of platformers absolutely needs to play this game. The Switch has had a fantastic year for first-party releases, but Super Mario Bros. Wonder stands alongside the very best of them.
In some ways Front Mission 2: Remake is an improvement on the first game’s remake. It looks better, and the gameplay has a bit more depth and complexity, even if it isn’t a significant upgrade. In the end, though, I actually had more fun with that original title, thanks to a more compelling story and far better localization. It’s nice that Front Mission 2 is finally officially available in English, but this is still much more a remaster than a remake.
That’s a real shame because I love so much of the game Galvanic Games have created, but I don’t particularly enjoy the feel of actually playing it. There are enough cool moments and interesting paths that I still had a fairly good time overall, but the actual feel of the game is a crucial element that simply never clicked. However, players who this core gameplay resonates with will absolutely love Wizard With a Gun.
While Wargroove 2 doesn’t reinvent so much as it refines, my experience with it was far more positive than with the original. Perhaps it was just removing the weight of expectations. The game’s refined stages, absurd variety, and improved story all help. In the end, though, whatever the reasons, I had a blast returning to the world of Wargroove, and I think anyone who enjoys strategy games will find plenty of reasons to spend an awful lot of hours exploring it.
Wild Card Football is the most fun I’ve had with a football game in the last decade. That says more about the poor state of sports games than it does about the game itself, but fans of the sport will find a fun pick-up-and-play arcade experience here, which is great for casual play, even if the available modes are lacking and the wild card system isn’t as successful as I’d like. Wild Card Football won’t provide a ton of depth or reward careful planning, but if you need something fun to play with casual friends at halftime, you should absolutely give it a look.
The closest to a negative thing I can say about COCOON is that I wish there were more of it. I wish I could forget everything I know about it so that I could experience it again for the first time. That those moments of jaw-dropping awe could hit as hard as they did my first time through. While I can’t have those moments back, though, you can still experience them. If you haven’t played COCOON yet, they’re still waiting for you to find them.
Ten years ago, I’d have been eager to play a game like Hauma – A Detective Noir Story. With few new options to explore a genre I loved, I was eager for anything that even had a scrap of quality, and while its story and characters aren’t particularly strong and its gameplay has issues, a great art style, and solid voice acting keep things relatively enjoyable. There’s nothing truly wrong with any major aspect of Hauma. The issue is that most aspects of the game don’t do much that’s all that right either. Genre fans will find a game that is perfectly playable but which most will forget as soon as they’re done with it. Hauma – A Detective Noir Story is a prime example of why not every mystery needs to be solved.
I’m not sure I’ve ever played a racing game that feels better than Forza Motorsport. Whether you’re controlling the fastest car in the game or the slowest, it’s compelling to push each vehicle to its limits and keep finding ways to improve your ride. I wish the experience around this core gameplay found more ways to create a compelling journey, but fans of the genre are mainly coming for the racing itself, and they’ll find everything they need in Forza Motorsport.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is a fun action RPG whose portable origins shine through for better and worse. While definitely fun, its story and gameplay can feel a tad slight at times, especially as the game goes on. Still, fans of Falcom’s other titles will find a lot of what they love about the developer’s work here and should absolutely give The Legend of Nayuta a shot.
Chants of Sennaar is beautifully designed from the ground up. With a fantastic look, beautiful music, and unique gameplay almost entirely focused on translating various languages, there’s nothing like it on the market. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, you’re almost certainly right that it will be. If you’re like me, though, and barely managed to squeak through foreign language classes in school by memorizing what you needed for the next test, Chants of Sennaar likely isn’t for you.
Taito Milestones 2 doesn’t do a lot to justify its existence. I usually don’t overly factor price into my thoughts on a game, but when you can purchase almost every game in the collection separately with the exact same features, it’s hard not to. This collection gives you ten Arcade Archives games for the price of five. That’s a good deal if you want all of these titles, but it’s hard to see most players wanting all ten of these games. There are five I would particularly recommend, and one of those has another version in a different collection, which is a better fit for the Switch. When two of the three exclusives to this collection aren’t very good, it gets even harder to recommend. Ultimately, those who do pick up Taito Milestones 2 will find some fun games included, but the best of these titles deserve more than such a barebones release.
There’s still a lot of good basketball in NBA 2K24 but it mostly feels buried in modes the developers are trying hard to keep new players from discovering. The series’ formerly rock-solid gameplay foundation feels like it’s slowly slipping away as well. Minor improvements around the edges don’t offset this slippage and the series’ continued descent into being nearly unplayable without spending a fortune on microtransactions. If you’re a series veteran who is willing to spend the vast amounts of money needed to compete online, you already know you’re buying this. The same is true of long-time series veterans who know where to find the best parts of the game even when they’re hidden away. With all its issues, though, it’s hard to recommend NBA 2K24 to anyone else.
Gunbrella offers tight and thrilling action, a moving story of revenge, and a fascinating world well worth exploring. I’m not sure what more I could ask for in an action platformer. While it’s a relatively short journey, lasting me only about six hours, I had a blast during my time with Gunbrella and I think most players will as well.
It’s A Wrap! is a clever puzzle game that will tie your mind in knots as you figure out just what is needed to pull off each stunt. While the third set of levels here doesn’t work as well for me as the first two, I still had a fun time going on this journey with Johnny, his director, and the rest of their crew. If you’re looking for a fun new take on the puzzle genre It’s A Wrap! is well worth a look.
Still, The Making of Karateka is perhaps the most impressive rerelease of a retro game I’ve ever played. It’s a collection but one dedicated to a single release. This is the sort of release that movie fans get when they buy a Criterion Collection release only for a video game. The new versions of Deathbounce and Karateka alone are worth the price of admission, but with everything else included, this is an easy purchase for anyone remotely interested in classic games. I can’t wait to see what Digital Eclipse and their Gold Master Series have coming next.
There are times Hammerwatch II can be a lot of fun. Exploring massive dungeons and taking down hordes of enemies is usually a good time, and Hammerwatch II captures that, at least if you pick one of the right classes. I can see a group of friends with a well-balanced party having an excellent time with it, and that’s really who these games are for, first and foremost. Ultimately though, Hammerwatch II makes too many poor design choices for me to recommend it to most players. There’s a good game in here somewhere, but it’s buried under too many flaws.
Red Dead Redemption on Switch is a mostly fine port of a great game. If you’ve been dying to replay it or haven’t checked it out before, you should absolutely do so, but those who have already fully explored the old west won’t find anything new here or much reason to buy it again outside of the handheld factor. For some, though, that will be all the incentive they need.
While only one of the games in Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is a classic, Rhapsody II alone is reason enough to check this collection out. For those who enjoy the first two games in the series, Rhapsody III serves as a nice enough conclusion to the saga, but it’s really only for the truly hardcore fans of the series. Anyone who enjoys RPGs of its era, though, will find something to like in Rhapsody II which is a true classic that’s now available to a wider audience.