River City Saga: Three Kingdoms offers solid brawler gameplay and an open world that you can get around conveniently. Combat feels impactful, and the story even has its moments. Unnecessary complexity, slippery platforming, and a tone that never quite hits make this a game primarily for the series’ faithful and big-time brawler fans who have played most of the genre’s more successful recent releases.
The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 2 may not be filled with classics, but there are no truly weak maps here, and there are several that sit comfortably among the upper echelon of the game’s track list. Waluigi Pinball alone would make this a worthy set of levels, but Mushroom Gorge, Kalamari Desert, and Sydney Sprint will all be maps I’ll frequently vote to race on in the future. I’m glad to see these releases getting stronger and can’t wait to see what Nintendo has in store for Wave 3.
It’s hard for me to fault Live A Live too harshly for its ending, though. I’d have been perfectly satisfied if it had simply been seven separate stories, and each of these is well worth playing through even after all these years. There’s so much creativity and joy present that anyone interested in class RPGs owes it to themselves to give it a try.
Anyone who has played a Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon game will feel right at home with Pioneers of Olive Town. It doesn’t break any new ground for the series, and is perhaps a bit too slow paced for its own good, but it proves that the series’ core loop is still engaging and addicting even after so many years. If you have an itch for a charming game that will take you back to a simpler time, it’s definitely worth your time.
Despite this, Stray has charm to spare and a wonderful world well worth exploring. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in your objectives and to have to spend a bit more time actually thinking about what to do, but it’s never less than fun to play.
With 32 games included, most players are going to be able to find a few titles to fall in love with in Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium. With more duds in the lineup this time around, though, combined with a higher percentage of the collection being featured in recent collections you may already own, the value proposition is a lot harder to judge. Thankfully, this time around, Capcom are letting you buy just the individual games you want from the start. Most players with a love of classic arcade games will want to grab at least a few titles from this collection, even if the collection as a whole isn’t quite the no-brainer some of Capcom’s recent classic offerings have been.
I really enjoyed my time with Yurukill. It brings together two very different genres and presents a satisfying version of each. If those two sides elevated each other, we could have been looking at a terrific game. Instead, however, those sides mostly just sit alongside each other, feeling like a strange marriage that doesn’t entirely make sense. Fans of both visual novels and SHMUPs should certainly check Yurukill out, but if you’re only into one side of this equation, it may not entirely satisfy.
Most of Rune Factory 5 is fine. There are minor issues with everything from the story to the graphics to the gameplay, but only a few of these issues will negatively impact the experience in a meaningful way. The bigger problem is simply that so little about Rune Factory 5 stands out. So many of the minor issues present here could have been overlooked if the core experience was exceptional and really moved the series forward, but instead, the development team spent nine years making a new Rune Factory, only to put out a game that feels like a minor step forward at best and in some ways feels like a step back. If you’re a massive fan of the series and need more of it, you’ll have a fun enough time with Rune Factory 5, but everyone else should proceed with caution.
While the story never fully grabbed me, Neon White is an absolute joy to play, keeping me hooked and repeatedly making me ask myself if I had one more run in me. Even if you’re not the sort of player who usually gets into chasing high scores and leaderboards, Neon White might surprise you.
There are some cool ideas in Eternal Threads and a series of characters that I mostly liked spending time with. The mechanics work well, even If I’d have liked to see a little more puzzle-solving and interaction. When your whole game is built around its narrative, though, it’s an issue when so little of it comes together and leaves you with a satisfying conclusion. I wish I could recommend Eternal Threads as the actual process of playing through it is mostly entertaining enough, but, in the end, I was left wanting so much more.
Despite some strange design choices, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined captures the charm of the original game and still feels great to play all these years later. Added variety makes this the best version of Pocky & Rocky and makes me long for this dynamic duo to be given a truly original title now that they’ve fought their way out of obscurity.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative isn’t a perfect game, but it offers one of the best mysteries I’ve ever seen in a game. Combine that with a wonderful cast and somnium sequences that blow away the original game, and you have a visual novel that is a must-play for anyone interested in the genre. AI: The Somnium Files was minor Uchikosi, but nirvanA Initiative stands among his best work.
Capcom Fighting Collection is a must-own for Darkstalkers fans, but even those who aren’t in love with the series should consider it. There’s enough variety in titles, interesting games which could use more exposure, beloved classics which hold up, to keep players busy for a long time. Add in excellent supplemental materials and killer online play and it stands among the best fighting game collections ever released.
Biomotor Unitron is a competent dungeon crawler and mech-building RPG. Little about it is bad, but little is interesting, and it’s very much a game of its time. The biggest issue with recommending it today is that the Switch in 2022 is not the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999. That system desperately needed a competent RPG, and Biomotor Unitron was able to fill that hole. The Switch doesn’t need that, though. Between classic releases and new titles, it has one of the strongest RPG lineups any system has ever seen. In that context, it’s hard to recommend it to many players today.
The Caligula Effect 2 is far from unique. It wears its influences front and center and isn’t quite on the same level as any of the modern Persona titles. There are only a few of those, though, and if you’ve played them and want something more, then The Caligula Effect 2 is absolutely worth checking out. With an interesting battle system, appealing characters, and a killer soundtrack, I consistently had a good time until the credits rolled.
Despite not being drawn in by the hunt for high scores, the interesting twists TOKOYO puts on action platforming did grab my attention. Movement feels great, and having to approach situations with combat as a last resort instead of my main plan required me to think my way up the Tower of Perpetuity. If that sounds like it’s for you, then definitely check this one out.
For long-time fans of Miku, those who just want to dive into their favorite songs and challenge themselves, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ is a dream. The pure variety of songs available and the series’ trademark gameplay will keep them busy for a long time, and that’s not even accounting for the options that the series being available on PC will provide to the community. While new players may find the lack of gameplay modes a bit off-putting, smart choices like challenge time should help them ease their way into the series’ style if they stick with it.
It’s a fun time, and it’s great to see Cotton back after so long. Trying to shove so many different gameplay styles for all of these guest characters was definitely ambitious and I applaud the developers for trying, but next time around I’d much rather they focus on moving this series forward and making the best Cotton game they can.
Rogue Legacy 2 offers so many options when it comes to classes, upgrades, and ways to play it that anyone remotely open to the roguelite genre should check it out. I might have asked for a bit more direction in how to approach certain upgrade paths since the volume of choices can be borderline overwhelming, but it’s a minor quibble when everything else about the game is so fantastic. Rogue Legacy 2’s memorable world and overflowing personality will keep you invested until the very end.
You can have a lot of fun with Nintendo Switch Sports, whether online or in person with friends. If you’re playing alone, though, its severe lack of content won’t keep you busy for long. Of course, that would be forgivable if it were a pack-in like the game that spawned this series, but as a game you have to actually purchase, players should expect more.