Journey to the West meets Rayman in this reimagining of the classic Chinese tale. Unruly Heroes features gorgeous, fluid visuals and creative character designs that impress. Some of the tougher sections can feel a bit cheap and the lack of online co-op is a bummer. If you’re pining for a classic platformer with modern touches, however, this journey just might scratch that itch.
Dragon Star Varnir isn’t perfect. The narrative starts out pretty rough and the environs can also look dated at times. Despite those shortcomings, the storytelling also has powerful moments and forces you to mull over some tough choices. The witch designs are also neat and its dragon-devouring mechanic also has a bit of a Pokemon vibe to it that will make you want to catch ‘em all. Dragon Star Varnir may not provide the best of first impressions. Give it some time, however, and you might find a game that pleasantly surprises you in the end.
Class VII’s overachievers return for a different kind of lesson in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. The game hews closely to its predecessor’s style so it won’t feel as fresh but also should delight fans of the first game eager to see more of Class VII adventures and story. It’s also unapologetically old school whether it be its visual style or adherence to turn-based combat. At a time when more and more JRPGs are walking away from older conventions, it continues to be refreshing to see a well-done entry in the genre that celebrates them instead.
Persona meets Etrian Odyssey once again in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth. Boasting a cast that spans Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5, Q2 does a great job in creating a crossover that doesn’t feel like a bad reunion tour. Admittedly, the large dungeons combined with RNG encounters can feel like a slog at times. Its entertaining storytelling and fun turn-based combat, however, make it a great pickup for Persona fans. Even if I saw this one coming, I’m still quite glad that it’s here.
Adorable chibi characters stacked on top of each other like Japanese dango? Fast-paced, old-school 2D action with buttery animation and colorful visuals? Sign me up! Lapis x Labyrinth is a charming dungeon crawler that combines loot-based action with modern hand-drawn visuals that old-school gamers will appreciate. While the story feels tacked on and the grind can wear you down if the RNG gods decide not to smile upon you, Lapis x Labyrinth still checks off a lot of boxes that fans of hectic side-scrolling action appreciate. Check it out if you’re itching for some 2D looting action.
God's Trigger is a fast-paced, twin-stick action game that knows it is campy and kitschy and does not apologize for it. It's also unapologetically unforgiving, so you're likely going to die. A lot. At least you will as you try to learn the game's various nuances while facing enemy hordes. The gameplay could use some extra polish and the solo experience feels a tad lacking compared to multiplayer. If you're a fan of Hotline Miami, however, then this is the kind of angel or devil's food cake you'll want to get and eat, too.
Hold it! The original Ace Attorney hits the big(ger) screen as the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy arrives on consoles and PC. The writing continues to hold up well even after all these years and the ability to play the original games on the TV is a treat. It would have been nice if more new features were added aside from the upgraded visuals. For those new to the series or Ace Attorney veterans who haven't played the games in years, however, I have no objections in recommending this particular trilogy.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain introduces some big changes to to the B movie-style shooting franchise, including universal weapon use among classes, streamlined gear acquisition and improved visuals. Some of the changes might not necessarily please some series veterans, especially when it comes to the lower enemy counts. It does make the game more accessible to newcomers, though, so this can be a good time to try the franchise out if you've never played EDF before.
Mortal Kombat 11 boasts what is arguably the best core fighting game experience in the series with a roster that spans the franchise's history. Its excellent fighting mechanics, top-notch visuals and exhaustive narrative, however, are stabbed in the back by the unforgiving grind for its unlockables — a grind that not only eats your time but also seemingly at your soul. It's quite unfortunate as this could have been the best Mortal Kombat game in my opinion. Its base foundation is that good. But the merciless grind can make you forget about that goodness after it constantly beats you down.
With more than 1,000 cards to unlock, a campaign mode and online battling, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission can be a hoot for fans itching to play a Dragon Ball-themed card game. At the same time, its more streamlined battle system combined with its use of arcade mechanics in a card game also makes its fun levels drop to less than 9,000 for folks looking for a more traditional TCG experience a laYu-Gi-Oh or Magic the Gathering.
Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn brings back the unique, stringy platforming of the Wii original and then some, adding new mini-games and a harder difficulty mode to boot. Unfortunately, it also takes out the original's excellent co-op mode, which will be a bummer for folks who are hoping to play the game with friends and family once more. It's not a deal breaker, especially for folks who don't have interest in multiplayer. For people like me who had a blast with co-op in the Wii version, however, it just makes this rendition feel a little bit less epic.
The Division 2 might not walk like a traditional Tom Clancy game or quack like a traditional Tom Clancy game. But it's still a fun title that exemplifies a loot shooter done right. The story could admittedly be better fleshed out and it suffers from some bugs and hiccups here and there. At a time when some highly-anticipated game launches over-promise and under-deliver, however, it's nice to see a game that feels complete right off the bat.
Wait, is that boss' weak point a MacGyvered Band-Aid on its butt? Why, yes. Yes, it is! That's the exact kind of kookiness to expect when playing Yoshi's Crafted World for the Nintendo Switch. Admittedly, the platforming leans toward the easy side and the mechanics don't add anything revolutionary to the Yoshi formula. What Yoshi's Crafted World has, however, is a wonderfully creative world, plenty of charm, lots of polish and family-friendly fun for co-op lovers. It's an egg-cellent addition to the Yoshi franchise.
Die twice, my butt. You'll definitely die more than a couple of times in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Despite its pedigree and punishing difficulty, this ain't Dark Souls either — and thinking it is can be a recipe for frustration if you try playing it with old habits from that game. It doesn't have the class and weapon diversity of Dark Souls and forces you to play a certain way, which some might not like. If you like the old Tenchu games, swift and agile movement, and challenging parry-based combat set in a hauntingly beautiful Japanese world, however, you'll want to sink your fangs into this one-armed wolf.
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is a wonderfully crafted love letter to folks such as myself who pine for the golden age of old-school JRPGs. It starts out slow and its faithfulness to the classic formula might be a turn-off for gamers who desire something more contemporary. But its nicely fleshed-out — and generously voiced — narrative, attention to detail, and fun turn-based combat mechanics hits all the right spots for lovers of 1990s-style JRPGs. It's a worthy, modern iteration of the classic JRPG formula.
The Princess Guide is a loot-based action RPG with a twist that involves teaching four princesses about the ways of life. While the concept is intriguing, the game's unique teaching mechanic isn't used as much as I'd like and the campaign could also use some extra world-building to make you care more about what's actually going on within it. On the plus side, the actual dungeon crawling can be fun and even addicting once you get the right loadout going. The game just needs a little bit extra to get it over the hump.
One Piece: World Seeker marks an interesting foray into the open-world genre for Luffy, borrowing familiar sandbox mechanics from games like Spider-Man and the Arkham series. It's not as polished as those games and can be guilty of incorporating some of the more annoying and overused mechanics of the genre. The original story, however, is very much One Piece and its fun boss fights are pure, over-the-top mayhem. It's not quite Pirate King yet but has potential to be a promising series with some extra polish.
Far Cry: New Dawn is basically more Far Cry 5, along with all the good and the bad that such a prospect entails. If you're feeling a bit burnt out by today's established open-world formula and expect more from the genre, the game will end up feeling like more of the same as opposed to something truly new. If you absolutely enjoyed its predecessor, though, then New Dawn is more of what you loved with some needed narrative closure to boot.
Jump Force features a nice mix of characters from Shonen Jump's storied history of franchises for manga fans. The visuals feel a bit off for manga crossover and elements of the game feel quite rough around the edges. Gameplay is also a bit too simple but does make for some fast-paced action. Manga fans intrigued by dream matches between their favorite characters might still want to give this one a shot as this type of game doesn't come around often. Unlike many of the protagonists that show up in this game, however, Jump Force doesn't quite break its limits to realize its full potential.