Instead of evolving, Yo-kai Watch 2 plays it safe by fusing new content – some good, some trivial, and some bad – onto a recycled frame, and the result is what we refer to as a sophomore slump. There's still a lot here to like, but we can't help but feel that this is an entry only diehard Yo-kai fans will be comfortable purchasing at full price. Some players will love it despite its issues, while others will feel cheated by the flagrant and numerous similarities to its predecessor, as well as become frustrated by its traversal-related blunders. Whichever is the case, it's obvious that this sequel could have been so much more. Now we wait and hope that Yo-kai Watch 3, which is already out in Japan and looks to feature drastic changes, gets localized and steers this incredibly promising series back on track.
You could refer to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan as the best TMNT game in years, but that really doesn't mean much. While there's a moderately entertaining co-op experience underneath the lazy level design, short game length, bland missions, occasional bugs, and minor kinks in the combat system, the quality and value most certainly aren't in line with what we expect from a $50 game. Sure, it could be worse (look at the last three TMNT games, for example), but it's especially heartbreaking considering Platinum's history of delivering fantastic action games. This is not Bayonetta. It's not even Transformers: Devastation. Don't shell out your hard-earned cash when you could spend it on delicious pizza instead.
Dark Souls III improves on its predecessors in nearly every way, making for the most masterfully-crafted, tautly-paced entry in the series. The combat is faster and more flexible, the world design is complex but never bloated, and the atmospheric presentation makes you feel like you're completely engulfed in the unsettling sights and sounds of this volatile fantasy world. Should this truly be the last time we seek respite in the warm glow of a bonfire, we can rest easy knowing Dark Souls III is a deserving and satisfying end to a phenomenal series.
Quantum Break's commitment to delivering a rich, layered narrative isn't always conducive to gameplay, but that doesn't diminish how engrossing this is an entertainment experience. The combination of intense time-bending action, gripping story, and cutting-edge presentation make this the kind of game that sucks you in and doesn't let go until the credits roll. While it's not quite as inventive as it thinks it is, Quantum Break is fresh, ambitious, and a heck of a lot of fun.
Definitive Edition clearly exists to ensure the best possible version of Ori and the Blind Forest is on the market, and Moon Studios has undoubtedly succeeded in that regard. If you haven't made the time for this magical Metroidvania yet, this is the way to go. If you already own a copy of the original game and are itching for another playthrough, readmission is worth the $5 upgrade. The new additions don't extend the length of the game by much, but they do freshen things up and breathe some new life into an already wonderful experience.
The Division doesn't have many ideas of its own, but the way it unites traditional open-world design with online multiplayer makes it an addictive social shooter. The repetition does wear thin after a while, and the end-game content isn't as robust as it needs to be, so there's a legitimate concern as to whether the game will remain engrossing in the long run. Still, Ubisoft has erected a solid foundation, one that can easily be bettered by impending content updates and expansions.
Fighting back against nature and surviving utterly dire circumstances makes The Flame in the Flood a gripping experience... for a while. It's the unambitious campaign, the repetitious rogue-lite structure, and a number of bugs and technical issues that get in the way and keep the game from reaching its full potential. But even though The Flame in the Flood is somewhat of a disappointment, that doesn't mean there's not enough tinder to sustain the flame for at least a weekend outing. You just have to decide whether or not you want to risk dealing with the pesky bugs hiding in the foundation.
Puzzle platformers are a dime a dozen in the modern era of gaming, but there's nothing that feels quite like A Boy and His Blob. Taking advantage of blob's shape-shifting abilities to solve environmental puzzles, while seeking hidden treasures that unlock challenge stages, is mentally stimulating and very rewarding. Even though a handful of issues do frequently nag at you throughout the course of the adventure, they don't weigh the game down enough to keep it from a recommendation.
While it doesn't quite reach its full potential, Star Wars: Battlefront harnesses the power of the Force to make for a multiplayer experience that's more concerned with fun and authenticity than deep mechanics and impeccable balance. DICE has absolutely knocked the presentation out of the park, making you feel like you're smack dab in the middle of your favorite action scenes from the classic Star Wars film trilogy. For many Star Wars enthusiasts, that's going to be more than enough to justify the price of admission. For everyone else, however, a limited amount of content and a few missteps will potentially diminish long-term appeal. This is a strong return for the Battlefront moniker, but there's much room for improvement.
Yo-Kai Watch is almost a great game. In fact, in many ways it eclipses the effort GameFreak has put into Pokémon over the years, both in production and creativity. That alone should be commended. Unfortunately, there are a few oversights and missteps that ultimately detract from enjoying the many, many things Yo-Kai Watch does so well. The groundwork is here for a franchise that could thrive for a long while to come, but Level-5 needs to rethink a few design decisions and put more focus into plot before Yo-Kai Watch reaches its full potential. This is definitely a game that you should play if you're attracted to the concept, but there are caveats to bear in mind before hunting down spirits on your 3DS.
While the multiplayer components are the best since Halo 3, the campaign disappoints in a few key areas. It's still enjoyable and exciting on the whole, but it lacks the narrative concentration and the memorable gameplay scenarios to stand neck and neck with the best entries in the series. Halo 5: Guardians still gets a massive recommendation from us for many reasons, though there's certainly room for 343 Industries to improve and evolve the campaign formula next time around.
While Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations doesn't commit any felonies, a series of misdemeanors suggest you should approach with some caution. Exploring the Land of Ooo, seeing familiar locations in three dimensions, and interacting with the whimsical cast of characters will delight the most-invested fans of the series. Sadly, the effort that went into ensuring the license was handled with care wasn't applied to the entirety of the game, and the result is an experience that's often enjoyable but ultimately a bit flat.
While the combat is undoubtedly satisfying and rewarding, the sense of repetition, the last-gen visuals, and the brevity of the adventure feel more matched for a budget price. We suggest waiting for a sale and a nostalgic craving for Saturday morning cartoons. That's when you have our full permission to transform and roll out!
Penarium is one of the best arcade-style games we've played this console generation. The campaign doesn't last all that long, and more multiplayer options would've been appreciated, but all in all, there's a healthy amount of content for the price. If fast-paced gameplay and high-score chasing are your thing, we suggest planning a trip to this sadistic carnival. Just don't be surprised if you end up imprisoned, losing hours upon hours of your life to the addictive chaos.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is anything but a lazy remaster. With a bunch of new content, a massive visual overhaul, mechanical improvements, and other subtle modernizations, Ultimate Edition has earned the right to be referred to as the definitive version of Gears of War.
Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings is a fitting way to round out the baseball season and a great excuse to invite friends over for some local multiplayer action. While another mode and online functionality would've made this package an absolute grand slam, the core gameplay is so addictive and well-executed that it's hard to think of it as anything less than a home run.
There are certain control and formatting options that we would've liked to see included, but there's so much engrossing entertainment here that it feels wrong to whine about what are, in most cases, negligible details. Even though it costs actual money, Rare Replay feels like a heartfelt gift from Rare to its fans, and it deserves your time, money, and appreciation.