Bayonetta 3 from wildcard creator Hideki Kamiya and developer Platinum Games is a complete mess. After more than half a decade of development, the third entry in the Bayonetta series is not just a major downgrade from its well-received successors–it is also a far cry from everything that made the prior games beloved and absurd extravaganzas. It may not be an unplayable disaster, but between its interrupting cutscenes, stale gimmicks, embarrassing level design, kaiju-styled set-pieces that fail to be fun, and dreadful narrative, the game is bouncing all over the place in terms of quality and consistency.
Back in 2017, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle surprised Nintendo and turn-based tactics fans with a ludicrous and charming concept. The world-famous plumber teaming up with Ubisoft’s gang of goofballs, while wielding blaster cannons and bazookas? Mario and the Rabbids had each already ventured into many different genres, but Kingdom Battle had a distinct identity; it was seemingly as crazy as the two could get. When a sequel was announced last year, there was no doubt that the wholesome and emotional creative director Davide Soliani and his team at Ubisoft would deliver on continuing to expand their wildcard vision–and for the most part, they have succeeded.
Apparently, it’s a great year to be the third entry in a Nintendo series. After five years since the mega-successful sequel to Splatoon began taking turf on the Nintendo Switch’s modest catalog of shooters and online multiplayer games, the funky fresh post-apocalyptic marine life is back to cover more ground across the world. Splatoon 3 adds more than just another coat of graphical paint to its beloved formula as Inklings and Octolings come together for yet another wonderfully competitive and creative outing of fast-footed ink wars.
As I watched a melancholy hero play a beautiful melody to clean a war-torn battlefield of its fallen soldiers, I found it evident what Xenoblade Chronicles 3 would be. This is Monolith Soft’s final symphony for their acclaimed trilogy of loosely connected stories and a curtain call for the developer’s history up until this very point in time. After 15 years of creating entries in this franchise and 22 years of forging some of the industry’s finest RPGs, Monolith Soft brings their first grand era of gods and titans to a close by culminating all of their lessons thus far. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is yet another work of art from Nintendo’s all-star developer, deserving of its high praise.
Following up this past May’s Pac-Man Museum+, Now Production is back for a second rerelease this year in Bandai Namco’s ever-expanding franchise. As the developer jumps from their arcade onslaught to a focus on the PlayStation’s 3D roots, Pac-Man World Re-Pac is yet another remaster from the yellow icon’s trove of experimental adventures fans shouldn’t miss out on even if it suffers from several issues. Like Namco’s recent Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Collection, Pac-Man World Re-Pac stands in the same line of fire as the publisher’s other remasters, as a decent-enough update does little to fix its actual content.
The Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS have been no strangers to Kirby spin-off games. Since Kirby: Triple Deluxe, HAL Laboratory has been releasing small digital supplements shortly after each major release in the franchise. Kirby’s Dream Buffet continues to roll with Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s inventive new direction for the series as Dream Land’s beloved mascot succeeds at throwing a multiplayer competition sizable enough for his insatiable appetite.
Since 1996, Pokémon has been a franchise whose success no other developer can replicate. The monster-catching phenomenon’s mainline games may stir up quite a bit of discourse nowadays due to some of Game Freak’s design decisions, but there is no denying that Pokémon’s earliest generations are timeless. In a year where more monster-tamers than ever before are trying to take a crack at the top spot, it is unsurprising that Coromon would shine amongst its competitors as it attempts to imitate the unbeatable champion by targeting its classic roots.
While we may hold plenty of fond memories from the days of fifth-generation console gaming, it is undeniable that the first era of fully realized 3D titles has not aged particularly well. Frogun does not elegantly leap onto today’s lilypad of modernized throwback platformers, but at the very least, Molegato’s title does bring a sense of adventure.
Based on its initial trailers, Bright Memory: Infinite seemed like it could be the next big game of its genre; it’s a first-person shooter with insanely detailed graphics, an engaging combat system involving swordplay, grand setpieces, and exciting supernatural elements blended with futuristic warfare. Zeng “FYQD” Xiancheng’s efforts to create a next-generation first-person shooter as a lone developer is aspiring, but anyone who has played video games for long enough will know that the expression “looks aren’t everything” should always be taken into consideration. Bright Memory: Infinite echoes that sentiment as its occasional eye-candy visuals can never hold its poor technicalities and nonsense story together.
In the case of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, Bandai Namco is certainly not treating their dream traveler the same way as their other, yellower gaming mascot. Even in the face of two great games, the latest Klonoa remastered collection falls on the whimpering end of a celebratory spectrum. Phantasy Reverie Series hampers a big dream for what should be a triumphant icon
Developer Next Level Games is able to outmatch most sports titles on Nintendo Switch, but that is only because of Battle League’s deep gameplay mechanics and stunning visuals. Battle League is a ridiculously fun entry in the Mario Strikers series that is also plagued by an overwhelming lack of content and competitive options.
Since its announcement, Donut County creator Ben Esposito has been claiming that if Neon White “is for you, it’s your favorite game.” While that may sound like typical self-promoting high praise from a game creator, his sentiment does not fall short of its intentions. Neon White is a glorious gift from Esposito and his new developer team, Angel Matrix. Once a player steps into heaven and pulls their first trigger, they will be locked tightly into Neon White’s premise of exterminating every demon in its stylistic bloodbath.
Kao the Kangaroo shows the basis for something glorious, but this reboot never packs the necessary punch to be a competent and worthwhile 3D platformer. If anything, Kao the Kangaroo is strong evidence that Tate Multimedia has not learned anything from their previous releases. The newest iteration of their character stumbles through a glitchy and eye-rolly world that only comes off as a could-be cookie-cutter for a better game.
Fragrant Story may not end the 3DS’ run of physical and digital games with that final whiff of beauty the system has long deserved since the Switch launched, but it does provide a serviceable tactical role-playing game. Those who keep their expectations in check and want more from everyone’s favorite glasses-free handheld will find some form of gameplay or social value in this release.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe really does live up to the high pedestal it has always shined upon. There is no better time to play or revisit this relevant social commentary of games, media, and decision-making now, more than ever before. With Ultra Deluxe, Crows Crows Crows and the masterminds behind The Stanley Parable’s original release have only added more to appreciate about the harsh reality of the titular employee’s mind-bending debacle.
Bugsnax on Nintendo Switch was always bound to lack the smooth framerate and cleaner visuals of its competing consoles, yet the grumpus adventure is still worth salivating over with its hybrid release. The Nintendo Switch iteration of Bugsnax is a competent port of a zany and heart-wrenching journey, albeit one with a few noticeable (and once again expected) technical shortcomings.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for Nintendo Switch is a perfectly fine rerelease of an already great game. However, there is no doubt that the title’s strange legacy will cause this iteration to come with some unfortunate discourse. Understanding why the Nintendo Switch version of The Force Unleashed is the way it is will be important to any Star Wars fan interested in picking up the game.
After so many iterations in the two-dimensional space, it was only a matter of time before HAL Laboratory’s mainline Kirby series jumped onto the next axis and finally revitalized the pink puff’s platforming style. Since the early Nintendo DS era, Kirby games have seen their mediums and highs as HAL Laboratory attempted to take the franchise to greater heights with more versatile locations and atmospheres. While every Kirby game features something distinct, the restrictions presented by a 2D format have kept the developers stuck in a noticeable repetition. At its core, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is your average Kirby game developed in a 3D space–and while that may not sound as profound as it should, the game masterfully utilizes every one of its new elements to create one of the friend-shaped hero’s most immersive experiences yet.
Like a calm ocean wave on a foggy day, A Memoir Blue is a tranquil experience clouded by a mundane narrative. Treading a fine line between being an interactive point-and-click game and an animated short film, Cloisters Interactive has created a title that is short, sweet, and will only leave those expecting more sour.