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The Pathless is still a beautiful, well-designed game on the Switch. If this is the only platform you have available to play it on, it’s still well worth your time and an easy recommendation. Players who have other options may want to consider them as performance is an occasional issue here, and the DualSense implementation on the PS5 is some of the best on the system, but I still enjoyed revisiting The Pathless.
Nitro Kid offers that slice of synthwave cyberpunk heaven in the form of a turn-based deckbuilding roguelike. It has a solid mechanic and balanced gameplay that proves addicting when you throw the amazing soundtrack into the fray. Although I wish there had been a little more in terms of a storyline — or even just backstory — that’s not a dealbreaker for an otherwise great game. If you’re looking for a fight with plenty of synthwave flair, Nitro Kid is ready to deal you in.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake lays the Spongebob charm on thick, the Bikini Bottomites and their worlds ripped right out of one of the many, many, many episodes we’ve come to know and love over the years. Although it has a lot of great ideas pulled from the vast Spongebob universe, there’s something just a little sticky about the way it all came together in the end. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is good, clean F.U.N., and as long as you don’t expect too much out of it, you’ll have a totally coral time.
Fire Emblem Engage is a clear step backward for a great series. While the strategy gameplay at the core of it is perhaps the series’ best, everything else here feels weaker. I still enjoyed my time with the game, ultimately thanks to its gameplay which is some of the best in the genre, but after how great Three Houses with, it’s hard not to come away from Engage disappointed.
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow doesn’t do anything new for the adventure game genre, but its outstanding atmosphere and well-executed gameplay should interest any fan of the genre who doesn’t mind a story that isn’t afraid to go to some rather horrifying places. Make sure to check it out.
Rhythm Sprout is a seriously fresh serving of beats. It’s definitely recommended, on the understanding that you know what you’re in for. The music doesn’t stop often to rest, meaning neither will you, and while the gameplay seems barebones, it knows how to make itself just as involved as a more complex rhythm game. There’s absolutely something to simpler rhythm games as a fun romp for a couple minutes here and there, and I think that’s a precedent that was pushed well with Rhythm Sprout.
As Luminous Productions’ first project after being formed from the developers of Final Fantasy XV, Forspoken is a remarkable yet flawed experience. There’s so much potential here, with an outstanding magic parkour system and a beautiful open world. However, it’s clear that the ambition was a little too high for this studio, as there are just too many incomplete (but great) ideas at work here that just don’t come to fruition.
I know I’ve said a lot of negative things about Burrow of the Fallen Bear, and I want to make it clear it’s not because of the content. I previously reviewed a furry visual novel and actually loved it, and I have zero problem with adult content. It’s just that none of these things were done well in this game. Burrow of the Fallen Bear has potential, too: there are some heavy topics, like racism, genocide, religion and cults, and grappling with one’s dark past. The experience could have been so much richer if even just one of these topics had been given some real time. Unfortunately, Burrow of the Fallen Bear is just not a good game, bogged down by a poor translation, an uninspired story, flat characters, and clunky sex scenes. If you’re needing a furry and/or explicit visual novel to scratch any particular itch, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
A Space for the Unbound is Mojiken and Toge Productions at their best. If you weren’t paying attention to this powerhouse team yet, correct this mistake now with the literal masterpiece that is A Space for the Unbound. It proudly stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of To the Moon and Rakuen with its impeccably unique flair, ready to laugh with players during the high moments and cry with them in its lows. If you have a fondness for emotional narrative-driven games and have been even remotely curious about A Space for the Unbound, don’t wait a moment longer and get this game (and some tissues).
While Mahokenshi definitely reminds me of Castle Morihisa, its pacing and balance is a bit better than that unfortunate adventure. Keep in mind this is very much still a challenging and sometimes brutal game, and you’ll have to grind quite a bit to get through every mission. That said, it’s a game with a creative premise, attractive artwork, and many ways to strategize. If you’re at all a fan of deckbuilders and don’t mind some occasional difficulty spikes, I’d definitely check Mahokenshi out.
Though I was hoping to start the new year on a high note, Wings of Bluestar just wasn’t up to snuff. It’s not a horrible game, but it’s incredibly mediocre, with bland design, poor writing, and generic boss battles. While it’s relatively affordable, it’s nevertheless very hard to recommend to hardcore Shmup fans.
I came into Monster Hunter Rise with a little bit of hesitation, as I was never really into this series of games. The learning curve is high, and the controls felt unintuitive when I tried out World back in the day. Fortunately, Capcom has made Rise the most accessible entry to date, with in-depth tutorials and a well-paced ramp up of mechanics. All the while, it retains an extensive experience for veteran players to dive deep into and enjoy for countless hours. With fast loading times, an impressive 120 fps mode, and added immersive features, Monster Hunter Rise on PlayStation 5 is a must-play for any fans of the franchise and newcomers looking to get into the hobby of hunting monsters.
Even as it nears its fifteenth anniversary, Persona 4 Golden is still one of the best RPGs ever made and an absolute must-play for fans of the genre or really anyone who has spent all of these years wondering what the big deal is. This isn’t a case of having to choose style or substance. Persona 4 Golden has more of both than you can fit in a hollow bear suit. Don’t let it pass you by.
The years of Persona 3 Portable being in its prime at this point have long since passed. However, that doesn’t mean that the game is any less enjoyable or worthwhile than it was in its heyday. Carefully straddling the line between modern and classic Persona titles, Persona 3 Portable is a phenomenal title sporting an enchanting style all of its own and double the content of the original Persona 3. The argument between whether Persona 3 Portable or Persona 3 FES stands as the “ultimate Persona 3 title” is still something that goes on to this day, but Persona 3 Portable will always be the winner in my book.
I may have only spent 6ish hours with Trombone Champ’s main game, but those few hours were spent giggling and guffawing at how silly my mistakes sounded. Given enough time, my mistakes were few and far between, and I truly did become the ultimate Trombone Champ of yore. Trombone Champ may present itself as a novelty title — a joke not meant to be taken seriously — but those who give it a chance will find a surprising amount of polish and sophistication. I never could have predicted that Trombone Champ would become my favorite rhythm/music game of 2022, and if you’re even remotely interested in the title, I’m confident it will be yours too.
Most of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth holds up exceptionally well, in fact. Even 23 years after its initial release, this is still an excellent game. Sure, there are some minor issues, like awkward platforming, that wouldn’t have been good 23 years ago either, but for the most part, they’re minor issues that don’t take away from a game with fascinating mechanics that are still unique after all these years. If you’re a fan of RPGs and haven’t played Valkyrie Profile, don’t wait 23 years as I did. Make sure to check it out.
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator is hands down one of the cleverest games on a mechanics level. Players will truly feel like they are crafting brews while connecting to the magical whimsy of the medieval era. Although I wish I was able to get more involved in the world of Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator, either through story or exploration, the mechanics alone kept me entertained for 40 hours so I can’t complain too much. Even if the rest of the game is a bit shallow, Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator’s gameplay is something to write home about. Here’s to hoping the dev team can concoct more content in future updates!
From its stunning sprite work to its masterful level designs that make full use of your ninja abilities, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider will keep you glued to your controller until the end credits roll. My only real complaint aside from the relatively easy bosses is that it’s such a short burn. With just eight levels available, skilled players will make their way through the game in just a couple of hours. Still, completionists should be able to squeeze out a few more by unlocking all of the hidden upgrades in each map. When all is said and done, if you’re a fan of games like Shinobi, Hagane: The Final Conflict, or Ninja Gaiden, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a must-play love letter to the ninja action games of the ’90s.
I had really high hopes for Lone Ruin. And while it’s not a horrible game by any stretch, I felt it was really underwhelming. Not only does it lack any replay value, but the core loop features nearly identical stage layouts and a frustrating lack of clear audio cues for enemy attacks. While some may find something to enjoy in the survival mode, I think fans of the rogue genre will be left wanting much more.
Breakers Collection is bare bones because there’s not a lot to the Breakers games. They’re mostly fine-fighting games with some balance issues, which stood out on the Neo Geo in the 90s but struggle to do so in 2023 on modern platforms. The new content helps but isn’t enough to make a collection which is barely a collection appealing. I’m glad to see them get a home release because I’m for keeping all games accessible, but they’re not titles I expect to return to regularly, and I expect most fighting game fans will feel the same.