Knights and Bikes isn't perfect, but it makes up for its hiccups with charming visuals, two adorable protagonists and a moving story that reminds us of some of our deepest, strongest fears and insecurities as kids. At the same time, it also reminds us of a time when we were filled with youthful optimism and were positively certain that we would make a difference in the world around us, no matter how tough things get. After putting in time in the game, one thought comes to mind. I wanna ride my bike.
Death is never a comfortable topic. Oninaki, however, doesn't just address it but wholeheartedly runs with it. It doesn't always succeed but it does make you think about the meaning of mortality — perhaps a bit too much as people die left and right. The combat also could be a bit tighter and the story overstays its welcome a bit. Beautiful visuals compared with a haunting score, however, make the game a treat to behold. Here's hoping Tokyo RPG Factory further builds on this for their next new JRPG IP.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses marks another stellar entry in a beloved series that continues to find ways to keep the experience fresh even after three decades. From its improved presentation and solid voice acting to its deep combat system and compelling narrative, Three Houses serves up a lot of meat that fans of the long-running franchise will gobble up. The main character admittedly can feel wooden at times and the school life part peters out a bit toward the end. Nearly 30 years after its humble beginnings, however, Three Houses is proof that Fire Emblem's flame continues to burn brightly.
Monster Hunter World Iceborne builds on its excellent predecessor with a plethora of new and returning monsters as well as some fun new mechanics to boot. The Clutch Claw is an especially fun addition to the game while Guiding Lands helps flesh out the endgame for folks who felt World didn't do quite as good a job in that department. Admittedly, certain endgame aspects can be a bit too grindy and some of the side stuff like Lynian picture taking can be wonky at times. Overall, however, Iceborne proves to be a better Monster Hunter World for fans of the series.
Super Mario Maker 2 is like a side-scrolling trip down memory lane for Mario fans minus the kids yelling "are we there yet" in the back seat. The sequel not only tickles your creative fancies but also adds a bevy of fun features not present in the first game, such as a new story mode, even more tools and the Super Mario 3D World style. Admittedly, the 3D World portion is a bit limited and isn't quite as feature-complete as the other styles. If you love designing levels or want to check out the Super Mario Maker 2 community's crazy concoctions, however, this game will have you exclaiming "Mama Mia."
Super Neptunia RPG features great music, wonderful visuals and that kooky Neptunia storytelling and dialogue that fans of the series know and love. Unfortunately, the overall experience is taken down several notches by the gameplay, which features pretty basic platforming, a multitude of fetch quests and combat that could be more fleshed out. Newcomers will probably not want to nep to this particular beat but hardcore fans will still enjoy its very Neptunia-ish writing and dialogue
Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes the original’s solid formula and turns it into an even more enjoyable building exercise, thanks to new additions such as farming and combat sidekick Malroth. Existing elements from the previous game also get a lot of polish, with NPCs being more plentiful and more entertaining as well. Add a greatly improved narrative and DQB2 is an example of a sequel done, er, built right. If you loved the original or are pining for a Minecraft-style game with more action and storytelling, you’ll absolutely adore this one.
Like reincarnated divinity, SolSeraph tries to rekindle the flames of cult classic ActRaiser by merging side-scrolling action with town building. The result is an homage that recaptures some of the old magic, even if it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of its original predecessor. Some spots are admittedly rough and could use extra depth or polish. SolSeraph’s high points, however, remind you why the first game was so beloved among its fans and the Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack sounds heavenly. As such, I’d love to see Ace Team take another stab at the formula now that they’ve got this under their belt.
Citizens of Space is a fun old-school-style RPG with a nice recipe that improves on Citizens of Earth, but could’ve used a bit more time in the oven. The Paper Mario-style combat is a strong point, especially with the plethora of strategies you can use to mix things up. The alien and enemy designs are also interesting and look great visually. The game’s reliance on fetch quests and RNG encounters, however, can get taxing and its attempts at humor also can be hit or miss. Add some issues with glitches and you have a game that’s solid overall but doesn't quite reach its full potential.
Cadence of Hyrule is a unique take on a beloved franchise that combines old school Legend of Zelda with an indie vibe. The base action can be a bit too simple and exploration could be more fleshed out. Its unique rhythm mechanics, however, combined with its Zelda inspired look and sound just might make skeptics sing a different tune once they try it out. It could very well be music to your ears.