Despite not being as big a fan of sports games like I used to be, EA’s NHL series is the one I still have a soft spot for among the ongoing crop of sports titles. I just like its balance of fun gameplay and how it doesn’t shamelessly abuse microtransactions like other more popular sports games out there. For NHL 21, the series brings in a more fleshed out Be A Pro mode as well as more intuitive movement on the ice. The minimal improvements to franchise mode, however, combined with the lack of key fan-requested features such as shared rosters make NHL 21 feel incomplete. All in all, it’s still one of the better, more consumer-friendly sports games out there. At the same time, I also feel that it could still be much better.
Kirby Fighters 2 is a family-friendly game that serves as a great introduction to the genre, especially for younger children. Content is a bit on the sparse side, however, and will leave you wanting more. And for folks who want more technical combat from their fighting games, the simple mechanics of Kirby Fighters 2 likely won’t hold their attention for long. If you’re a big Kirby fan or want a cute and accessible game to play with your family, however, Kirby Fighters 2 is still worth biting into, especially given its affordable price.
Death end re;Quest 2 serves up an experience that can be described as bloody interesting — literally. The game doesn’t shy away from disturbing imagery as well as portraying uncomfortable topics such as abuse, bullying and violence. The combat system, meanwhile, combines classic turned-based RPG battling with pinball physics, resulting in a unique experience. The game can admittedly be rough around the edges and it won’t be for everyone. If you like Idea Factory’s offbeat titles, however, Death end re;Quest 2 is another solid addition.
Just when you think you know the answers, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim changes the questions as you’re left guessing with how its sci-fi mystery unfolds. Admittedly, the game’s non-traditional narrative approach can be confusing and its reliance on popular science fiction themes can also make it feel derivative at first. Stick with it, however, and you just might find an unexpected treat. Add some fun giant robot tactical combat to the mix and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim actually lets you have your peach tart and eat it, too.
As someone who remembers playing the original Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, I’m surprised about how well the game holds up after more than a decade and a half. Admittedly, some aspects of its visuals and mechanics feel dated and schlepping around on bucket duty can be a pain. Overall, however, the game remains fun to play, especially when doing so with other people thanks to its new online features and crossplay. Pick up the free "Lite" edition if you want to try it out first.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris boasts one of the most fun combat systems I’ve seen in a SAO game to date, replete with a nice selection of weapon types and playstyles to boot. It’s just unfortunate how that fun combat is gated behind an unevenly paced narrative that tends to overstay its welcome at times — and I’m a proponent for more storytelling in games. The game won’t be for everyone. Folks who are willing to break through its wall of text, however, will find some great action hidden behind all that exposition.
Robots! Robots everywhere! Like a Las Vegas buffet, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. MaxiBoost ON features an impressive roster that’s sure to whet your appetite for Gundam mechs. Admittedly, the Extreme Vs. series’ age is starting to show and the lack of a worthy campaign mode reduces players’ options. That being said, fun arena combat combined with the inclusion of oft-ignored mechs alongside the franchise’s more popular units make this a delight for Gundam fans of all generations who take the time to master its mechanics.
Trail of Cold Steel III brings its classic JRPG hijinks to the portable confines of the Switch for folks who like to have their cake and eat it on the go, too. Visuals on the TV are not as crisp as the PS4 version and performance also has some occasional hiccups at times. If the thought of getting your Cold Steel fix anytime and anywhere sounds appealing, however, then this is the version for you.
Origami King — even with its imperfections — is a bold attempt at reimagining the franchise. Fans who pine for the series classic RPG mechanics will likely be disappointed in the game’s combat system. A colorful and imaginative open world, however, combined with witty dialogue and poignant storytelling, make Origami King a welcome addition to the Paper Mario fold.
SpongeBob Square Pants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is akin to a time capsule, not just of the golden age of the SpongeBob cartoon but the 3D action genre that was popular two console generations ago. When it works, you can’t help but have a stupid smile on your face. When it gets bogged down, the mechanics can feel dated and the pacing a bit too long. For fans of the original, however, it’s worth a return trip for the nostalgia alone.