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I took my time with Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s latest entry in the long-running Yakuza franchise. The turned-based combat has greatly improved, the myriad of activities feel endless and entertaining, and the overall story left me teary-eyed and wanting more. I’m now more invested in the series than I ever was thanks to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth with Kasuga leading the charge.
Tekken 8 launches with a complete package for both the casual and competitive. It felt like nothing was neglected here as everything you’d wish or expect from a high-quality fighting game is added, with new additions that don’t feel like a step down, but a leap forward. I can’t see how Bandai Namco Studios and Arika could have done this any better, as Tekken 8 hit the ground running as the definitive fighting game experience.
If you’re a fan of the Metroidvania genre, or action platforming games in general, I couldn’t recommend Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown more. The Lost Crown nimbly juggles combat, character progression, platforming, exploration, environmental puzzle-solving, boss encounters, and storytelling, all without neglecting one element to the detriment of another.
There’s just not enough meat to justify the use of the term “remastered” in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered. Visually, the improvements here are minimal, and even without it, the original The Last of Us Part 2 can still go toe-to-toe with the biggest games released today. The real highlight is No Return and the option to play at true 4K resolution as everything else feels like padding.
I loved every minute spent in the cozy, quirky world of Super Mario RPG, bopping to the remastered music, smiling at its humor and hijinks, timing battle actions, and enjoying my time spent with its memorable characters. I may have been left wanting a little more, but kudos to Nintendo for bringing back this updated classic, warming the hearts of fans worldwide, and bringing generations together to experience the charm and wonder of Super Mario RPG.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora features a familiar open-world formula that is a perfect match for this adventure, as this is a planet with so much care and thought put in that despite its flaws, I found myself itching to explore what’s beyond all those floating rocks. But if you’re not on board with how Ubisoft does open-world games, then you’ll be struggling with half of the game’s core pillars right off the bat.
It’s tough to recommend Final Fantasy XVI’s first DLC called Echoes of the Fallen as it doesn’t deliver much to the core experience, or even something completely different. At the current price point, I was expecting a bit more to stand out, maybe focus on one aspect of the game we haven’t seen before, but sadly this isn’t the case. You’re not missing much here as it would be best to wait for the second DLC called Rising Tide coming next year.
If I’m comparing Persona 5 Tactica against the original game and the other spin-off, it’s my least favorite of the bunch, but the effort didn’t feel like an afterthought, as the story, character designs, and level designs make it an entertaining strategy game for those already well-versed in the Persona 5 world.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name isn’t Ryu Ga Gotoku's best work, as combat feels bland and we’ve seen these side activities before, but this is a nice distraction for hardcore fans and a more touching and satisfying sendoff to Kazuma Kiryu as the leading man.
This is how you bring back a classic to the spotlight with a remake treatment that respects the original team’s vision, improves the game where it's needed, and understands the key points as to why The Second Story is still embedded in people’s minds as one of the greatest JRPGS they’ve played years ago. Hopefully, Square Enix will use this as a blueprint for future projects similar to The Second Story R as they nailed it.
I yearn for a meatier, more challenging Super Mario Bros. Wonder with difficult boss battles, but I can recognize that kids like my young nieces will fall head-over-heels in love with Wonder, because it truly is full of entrancing visual wonder and its simplicity is unlikely to cause household tensions between ambitious older siblings and confused younger ones.
If you’re a masochist or enjoy glitch-fests, you might find something salvageable about in the Switch version of Mortal Kombat 1, but I strongly implore you to reconsider, and to warn your friends. Buy a new console if you must, but do not spend your hard-earned money on this travesty.
You can’t go wrong with Spider-Man 2 if you were sold on the original game - it’s a fantastic use of the source material, and I think the studio has found its new specialty as they’ve delivered a superhero video game that might not only make one a fan of Spider-Man but a fan of Insomniac Games as a studio.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is proof that the original, stealthy approach to the series’ formula still works just fine in 2023; Ubisoft’s commitment and focus on a single concept is a testament to its core strengths. Mirage lacks ambition, but it’s welcome a correction from recent bloated series entries.
Starfield isn’t as groundbreaking as one would expect it to be, but the developers held true in delivering the game fans have come to expect from Bethesda Game Studios, and in that regard, they succeeded, as this game has the potential to be relevant to players years after it was released, similar to what The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim is to this day.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is a hell of a mic drop. While it’s no reinvention of the wheel, it’s definitely a more compelling and accessible take on the formula that has a lot to recommend it, both for fans of those titles and younger gamers in search of something new.
FromSoftware did not disappoint at revitalizing the Armored Core series with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, a title that superbly balances the parts and loadout of a fantastic Armored Core game while injecting the studio’s now-well-known specialty.
Tears of the Kingdom accomplishes its lofty goals, improving upon the masterful Breath of the Wild in nearly every key aspect; Tears may not be my favorite Zelda, but for millions of fans, it might be one of the greatest gaming experiences of their lives.
I was worried about the series shedding more of its JRPG roots when this title was first introduced, as recent entries have been straying away from more traditional forms for years. But my fears faded in the first five chapters of FFXIV; the essence of what makes Final Fantasy so great shines brightly here, and as such, this is one of my favorite high fantasy adventures this generation.