The Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection could stand a few more extras. Customizable controls would be great, as would sound options, design documents, or artwork. When you think about everything the original All-Stars offered-three graphically upgraded Mario games, plus a "lost" game-3D All-Stars is a bit lacking. That said, the games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars still hold up today. I'm surprised how fun Super Mario 64 still is, and Super Mario Galaxy remains one of the heroic plumber's best outings. As for Super Mario Sunshine, well, that's still up to personal taste.
Beat by beat, you've seen elements of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim's plot elsewhere before, but you've probably never played anything quite like it. How 13 Sentinels strings its complex narrative together is nothing short of astonishing. It operates like a great melodramatic sci-fi TV show, only reworked and shuffled into an interactive format, and it takes full advantage of it. And for that, even with weak RTS battles complementing it all, it's an easy recommendation.
Spelunky 2 is an outstanding sequel. Derek Yu, BlitWorks, and the rest of the team behind it have assembled a game that adds to what made Spelunky great without trending toward bloat or changing too much of the essentials. In some minor ways, the level randomization and art style don't feel quite up-to-par, but the overall package is polished, compelling, and brimming with secrets. As ever, players will die over and over in pursuit of a successful run or even just an ounce of progress, which is the way it's meant to be. I'm excited to see what others uncover as they pick themselves up again and again to venture deeper into Spelunky 2's depths.
Tell Me Why has been Dontnod operating on a reduced scope, with less characters and less time, and they've pulled it off. Tyler and Alyson have successfully been allowed to grow and function as developed characters before tackling difficult subject matter, and that's really helped the pair flourish as relatable characters. Despite a somewhat rushed conclusion and a final choice that rendered my past actions a little meaningless, Tell Me Why has been one of Dontnod's more pleasant adventures to experience.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is the perfect remake. It doesn't just recapture what made the series so beloved, but helps us fall in love with mastering combos and finding secret areas all over again. The one major downfall of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a relatively slight one: its multiplayer options are slim at launch. Even being a grinding, rolling advertisement for the sorts of brands you'd find at Zumiez, all the brands's non-stop presence is something undeniably Tony Hawk-and hell, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a cart waiting to check out at Zumiez now. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is an excellent remake with a rare power: the power to make skaters of us all.
If Marvel's Avengers was just the single-player story campaign, it would be amazing. There, Crystal Dynamics sells you on its version of the Avengers and introduces the charming and endearing Ms. Marvel to players everywhere. Combat has depth to it, and each hero truly feels distinct. Unfortunately, the endgame is where our heroes falter, with broken matchmaking, rough options in terms of progression, and endlessly reused environments and enemies. Surely, Marvel's Avengers will see improvements, but here at launch, the endgame needs a good deal of work.
Paradise Killer drips with endearing style and charm, but can't quite make its finale match up to its opening hours. Discovering intrigue and mystery is compelling at the start, but the good gets lost in its collectible busywork. Paradise Killer is a good option for virtual detective fanatics in need of new mysteries, but it lacks the staying power of other modern mystery giants.
After a solid debut chapter, Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 doesn't keep the momentum going. There are pleasant individual character moments between twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan, who remain the undisputed highpoints of the game, but the rest of the cast suffers as a result. Tell Me Why wants to paint an emotional tale of struggle and growth, but Chapter 2's experience is stunted by overuse of the Bond mechanic and the decision-based icon sapping any tension.
Madden 21's gameplay takes some appreciable steps forward as the generation comes to a close, with The Yard providing some casual fun. The experience is marred by an abnormal number of bugs though, and the single-player modes remain a major sore point. Ultimately, it's able to pick up a few yards on the way to the next generation of consoles, but just a few.
Tell Me Why: Chapter One is certainly a promising start for Dontnod's new tale, as the developer looks for a slightly stunted but more mature take on difficult subject matters. Tyler Ronan is a surprisingly positive depiction of a transgender character, even if the bar is set incredibly low, and it's a relief that for once a Dontnod protagonist isn't put through drawn out, traumatic events as a rite of passage. I'm cautiously optimistic to see if Tell Me Why can build on this solid start.