Sequels can often find themselves in invidious positions; to follow on from what was already successful, while making enough changes to justify its existence, is a tricky balancing act in any form of media. If the necessary criteria are to be bigger, better, and more ambitious, while retaining the original's heart and soul, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope accomplishes that with flying colours.
This is an extraordinary effort to preserve and cherish Atari's legacy and the history of early electronic game development in general. Despite some clunkers and a few omissions, this collection is required playing for any serious student of video games, or anyone ever moved by the magic of Atari.
It doesn't thoroughly unpack its good ideas, and relies too heavily on repetitive combat scenarios and fetch quests. Still, the game's focus on character swapping and backtracking exploration delivers decent results and the quirky characters of the RWBY franchise go a long way. Ultimately, Arrowfell is neither a good licensed game nor a bad one; it sits squarely in the middle of the pack.
I'm left walking away with a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth for what was one of my most anticipated games coming into 2022, even if I still largely enjoyed most of my time with it. Bayonetta 3 ultimately feels like a solid action game, but not one that was worth waiting eight years for.
On a technical level, it represents one of the better 1v1 fighters on the market, due to its approachable controls, tactical action, and balanced system of offensive and defensive maneuvers. Regrettably, the single player content and character roster that surround that strong mechanical core are lacking.
It suffers from clichéd situations, recycled environments, and overly-guided gameplay. That said, it's a fairly good DLC that wraps up some loose ends, provides closure, and introduces some interesting mechanics and monsters.
Shovel Knight Dig isn't the best game in the ever-expanding indie series, but it's a solid addition nonetheless. It delivers a remarkable rogue-lite experience with tight controls, enjoyable bite-sized stages, enticing risk-versus-reward gameplay, and lovely graphics and sound. Only a short running time and an unsatisfactory sense of progression hold it back.
It’s more fun, more refined, and more accessible in every way, while somehow managing to surpass the previous games in style and presentation. Evolution, not revolution, is the catch of the day, and that’s fine by me if it’s served up as exquisitely as Splatoon 3.