While Super Arcade Football puts you into the action instantly, it would have been nice if it would have shown me the ropes before expecting me to win my first match. The retro look and simple controls make picking up and playing with friends who haven't played before easy and welcoming. For a short, fun party game without much on the line, you can't go wrong. But for the single-player experience, while not terrible by any means, it wears out its welcome long before you actually finish it.
Moonshades drops you into its world and expects you to know what's going on, which is fine. Dungeon crawling is fun, combat can be as well. But Moonshades is being held back due to its controls and use of screen space, an unfortunate product of its mobile phone origins. Controls are confusing, and half the screen is taken up by spells and menu buttons. If you can work through the issues there is a fun dungeon crawler to play. Moonshades doesn't shine bright-it's more like a low glow from a campfire left unattended.
While the combat system of the Bravely Default 2 is unique and offers a high risk, high reward style of gameplay not seen elsewhere, the overall experience plays out in classic JRPG fashion. Luckily it does an excellent job of being a classic JRPG. I had fun grinding out XP for the jobs I wanted, with it never feeling like a chore, the true sign of a well made JRPG. The lack of mouse support for the PC version though is next to unacceptable with all the menus you work in. Classic JRPG style, not necessarily a modern day classic. No true innovations keep it from perfection.
Monster Harvest is retro in how it looks, which is great, but also in how it plays, which isn't as great. The gameplay doesn't feel addictive enough for a farming simulator, and the monster battle portion feels tacked on. I had fun with the game, but I never felt drawn into the world.
Bus Simulator 21 is for everyone. Being able to cater to your playstyle from the most basic of set ups to as realistic as they can make it, the game gets its hooks in you after a few hours. I always wanted to run one more route before getting up from a play session. The vehicle AI leaves something to be desired, but we can all think of a few drivers that give us road rage.
Garden Story is not the apple of my eye, nor is it rotten. I enjoyed my time helping Concord clear the rot, especially with the boss fights, but by the third town (out of four) I felt I had picked more apples than I could eat in a week. Dungeons were exciting, but the other mechanics left a sour taste as they were introduced too late to matter and became another mechanic I could easily ignore. Garden Story simply was not my jam.
Fort Triumph might not be the biggest victory for the genre, but there is plenty of fun combat to be had. While not genre defining, it's easy to get wrapped up in combat, and suddenly have a couple of hours fly by. The UI is hard to read at times, in both docked and handheld mode, but that was about my only complaint. I enjoyed Fort Triumph, but didn't fall in love.
Tribes of Midgard struggles with an outside force it has no control over that prevents it from being near perfect; it requires friends to play with. Alone, or with strangers who don't work together there is just too much going on at once, making the game feel like an endless assault of chores that need done right away. But if you can get a regular group, taking down the seasonal boss is totally worth the effort.
The developers of Cris Tales set out to make a love letter to the genre. When writing a love letter it's easy to cloud your judgement at times. You're after all so head over heels into it. Do you really care what others think? The load times, basic story, and unsatisfying ending are easy to overlook when you're in love with the genre. Cris Tales is too pretty to pass up if you want a taste of a nostalgic JRPG.
Good, not great. Fun yet frustrating. Scratching the itch while giving me athlete's foot. The new modes feel rushed and not completely thought out to be much more than a stunt. The game feels balanced when choosing which character to play, and the adventure mode will easily fill in the void of playing by yourself, just don't go looking for a gripping story. Mario Golf: Super Rush tees it off, but has the ball landing in the rough.