Though the story takes a while to get going, it does have the same charm I've come to expect from the franchise. It's more of the same, but it's a lot more and fans of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games should appreciate most of the new gameplay tweaks and a colossal range of dungeons to dive into.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are still good games, even if Hoenn isn't as much fun to explore as later regions in the series. The unique elements like secret bases, the PokeNav and the ability to dress Pikachu up as a luchador are worthwhile additions that make this excursion different enough to the one from back in 2003.
There are few things quite as satisfying as the feeling of returning alive from an epic battle with a massive monster, of triumphing over a difficult foe and turning their talons into sweet armour. This sense of mastery, combined with the strong presentation, diverse and complex weapons and the endearing but unobtrusive story make Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate come together into one wonderful package.
Where Hero and Daughter really stands out is the gameplay, with a number of legitimately innovative systems. Though the portrayal of its female cast leaves something to be desired, each of the characters have a range of interesting skills to make use of in attempting to break the game in interesting ways.
Trillion executes its themes of family and sacrifice very well thanks to a cast of endearing characters, but as you might expect from a game based around a single boss fight, there's a lot of repetition. Those who don't want to spend hours staring at menus and tweaking characters' stats to even stand a chance in battle should stay away, but Trillion has plenty of challenge for those who do and the permadeath gives it much higher stakes.
The shallow combat and short stages just don't gel with the the overwhelming customisation and myriad of menus - especially not when it falls back on grinding to drag the experience out. Hardcore Nep-heads might dig seeing the cast in a different setting, but even they'll get an unfortunate sense of deja vu over all the rehashed content.
Birthright is at its best when it's expanding on the ideas presented in Fire Emblem Awakening, not simply rehashing them. The strategy segments are some of the strongest in the series thanks to some welcome mechanical changes and do an decent job of compensating for the game's weak plot.
If you embrace the cheesiness of the whole thing you'll find that this wonderful idol trash makes for an excellent original JRPG. Like its cast of wannabe singers and actors, Tokyo Mirage Sessions never aspires to do anything more than entertain, but it does that very well.
The Vita already has a large selection of games in the lucrative "dungeon crawler but with breasts" subgenre, most of which are far more worthy of your time than MeiQ. The game is light-hearted but low rent; it's sorely lacking in challenge, originality and pants.
The open-ended structure is interesting, but the boring missions and lack of interaction between the extended cast make it an experiment that doesn't quite work out, especially when the inclusion of the Sega Hard Girls themselves feels like wasted potential. For as brainless as it is, the battle system is fun and the game flows well. It's forgettable, but at least you'll get some laughs out of it.
There are some annoying omissions, but Pokémon Sun & Moon are so charming that it's easy to forgive their shortcomings. The island setting of Alola is bursting with detail and this is the best the series has ever been as far as the story and characters go.
The dungeon design is very strong and the structure makes the game light on backtracking. Unless you run out of keys, you'll always be pushing through new areas, uncovering new loot, fighting challenging new foes and gradually growing stronger. Xanadu Next isn't a perfect experience, but those willing to master the controls will find a satisfying title that's absolutely worth playing through.
Final Fantasy XV is a flawed experiment that still has its charms. Though it's a shame to see a series that was once on the forefront of storytelling in RPGs completely lose the plot it absolutely nails the road trip feel and the relationships between the core cast of characters.
Though the stats are simple and each turn is very brief, the huge range of units to fight and build a team around means there is a virtually limitless number of ways to approach each challenge. This flexibility is hampered slightly by the restrictive gem system and the fact that you can only battle AI players, but Moekuri succeeds at what it sets out to do: it's a solid strategy RPG with plenty of inventive ideas and more than enough moe.
The selling point of Disgaea is its uniqueness, so it loses out on a lot the second time around. It’s still fun to build up a team to ridiculous levels, set up crazy combo attacks and discover rare loot, but there’s not much to Disgaea 2 PC that really builds on the original. Although Disgaea fans will appreciate how much more postgame content is in store, some of the changes like the felony system and the weaker story and cast make the game worse. Make no mistake, Disgaea 2 PC is still a good game, but Nippon Ichi were so prolific during this time that there are far stronger games in their back catalogue to spend 50+ hours on
The plot is largely uninteresting and the characters are annoying, especially on the only route that most people will play through. The game pokes fun at RPG conventions, but it also plays them completely straight. The sole innovation lies in the fairy and fury systems, which work well together, but it isn't enough to keep the battles from blurring into an unmemorable mess.
Yoko Taro's wild ideas and Platinum's workmanlike approach to action game design are a match made in heaven. NieR Automata manages to be shocking and moving in ways that very few games are, beautifully presenting philosophical concepts that will take a long time to unpack. This is a game that people will still be talking about twenty years down the line.
The strange structure and difficulty curve means that newcomers to this style of RPG might not make it much further than the tutorials. While there’s some fun Touhou flavour for the items and gear (I was pleasantly surprised when a status effect temporarily turned everything into creepy “yukkuri” heads), it never really elevates the game from being more than another Mystery Dungeon clone.