Everything else about NEO is sublime, though. Once the introductory ten hours are pushed through and the game starts proper, it’s an efficient burst of energy and excitement, with one of the best soundtracks you’ll ever find in a game, one of the most explosive, dynamic combat systems you’ve played in a JRPG, and a colourful, energetic, and exciting celebration of Japanese youth culture and Shibuya itself. No doubt this will be the final roll of the dice for TWEWY as a franchise, and hopefully, it has done enough here to graduate from cult status.
You don't need to have played any other Phoenix Wright games to enjoy The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. It is related to the broader franchise (Ryūnosuke is the ancestor to Phoenix), but it's a completely separate adventure. The historical context makes Ryūnosuke's adventure particularly compelling, but even if you're just looking to let that wash over you and be entertained, there's enough humour and style to The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles that the only real problem with it is that it outstays its welcome by just a little too much.
You've got to hand it to eastasiasoft for finding and bringing these fun little fanservicey games to the Switch. Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire - I mean, Bishoujo Battle Majong Solitaire! - brings the fan service in spades, but it also plays a really good game of Mahjong Solitaire, and while the Switch has plenty of Mahjong Solitare titles already, none of the others have the pin-up aesthetic going for them. For just a couple of dollars, you can't go wrong here.
Samurai Warriors has been one of the most precious things to me for years now. Not only have I loved the games themselves, but they've led me to another passion in Japanese history, and given me ideas for things to do while travelling across Japan that I would never have had otherwise. As it turns out, travelling to old battleground sites and Sengoku-era castles really is a great tourism activity. Samurai Warriors 3 was the start of all that and, with Samurai Warriors 5, Koei Tecmo has produced its finest effort yet. I would be incredibly surprised if this doesn't inspire a lot of people to go out and learn more about one of the most fascinating periods of warfare, contested by some of the most fascinating individuals that the world has ever seen.
Bustafellows is part crime caper and part otome romance, and those are common enough things, but it's the quality of the writing and the strong thematic core that helps to set this one apart. It might be perhaps a little too long for its own good, and so some of the impact of it is softened via desensitisation, but even then, there's no real lull in the storytelling, and it's one of those rare lengthy games that isn't simply throwing content at players. The best crime fiction stories are page-turners, filled with excitement and drama. Bustafellows adds several proverbial tonnes of charm, humour and panache into the mix, and thanks to all of that, it is one of the most dynamic and exciting visual novels you can find.
Of course, Red White Yellow is a micro-scale project by a developer, being sold at a minimal price. It feels almost cruel to be critical of it, but this game does have flaws that undermine its very premise, and while it's a technically proficient little puzzler, there's already a much better-realised effort that pitches in this space, called Akihabara: Feel The Rhythm. That is, of course, if you're not going to simply buy Lumines.
As confusing as it is that this game happened at all, I loved having the chance to play it. Akiba's Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed might look like a game that should have stayed on the PSP, but the satire and humour is there, the grainy rendition of Akihabara is still enough to make this homesick otaku miss Japan, and the action remains on the right side of simple and entertaining that you can enjoy it while it lasts. Akiba's Trip isn't going to win GOTY awards, but I sure enjoyed collecting a big pile of skirts.
I really hope the other platforms that Cris Tales has been released on have better performance, because those loading times alone take something special, and unfortunately undermine it. This is one of those rare times to me where technical issue really do mess with the experience, disrupting the carefully-structured panic and pulling players away from the breathtaking art. There's still a lot to love about Cris Tales, and the vision is beautiful and evocative. But we are in 2021 and battles in an JRPG shouldn't require a loading screen. No matter how beautiful and heartfelt they are.
Risk System is something of a connoisseur’s shoot-em-up, with intelligently designed enemies and bosses that reward careful practice and precise movements. The demanding level of difficulty might cause some initial frustrations, but a determined attitude and a calculated approach to risk will help players emerge victoriously. After a few hours of playing, I was able to effortlessly take down bosses that I’d previously thought of as impossible, and that’s always a great feeling to have.