Earth Defense Force: World Brothers offers enough zany action to shine through any flaws presented during the hectic missions. The story keeps itself in the absurdity of Tokusatsu that sells the overall experience. Still, the combat system can be frustrating, which shows up more given the enormous amount of playable missions, but it’s undeniable this content will keep you playing for hours to come.
Sunblaze will push your platforming skills to the limit. Still, as the challenge rises, so does the knowledge that everything in this game can be overcome with a few well-timed jumps and dashes. The charming design is contrasted by the bloody obstacles that await each level, creating a fun challenge that won’t leave you with too many broken controllers.
Wicce can be really rough in places, but you can find a short and sweet gem that shows love for the platforming and action genres in it. Still, some issues hinder the charm of this experience with needed quality-of-life improvements and additional playtesting. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind seeing going on more Wicce adventures in the future.
Astalon: Tears of the Earth is an unexpected masterpiece of retro designs blended so delicately with modern roguelite elements. Death doesn’t punish the player as much as it sets them up with improved ways to approach situations. There’s a sense of discovery in every area, but this does limit direction causing some confusion when trying to figure out where to go. Further, bosses can be underwhelming compared to normal enemies, which creates an awkward balance of challenge. Regardless, this is the must-play game of the summer.
The LiEat trilogy presents a lite visual novel esque adventure with a charming duo of protagonists and through a whimsical narrative. While the questionable implementation of combat is puzzling, and the collectively 3-hour play-time for the entire trilogy can be understandable turn-offs, I find the characterizations and soundtrack more than enough to give these games a try.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown appears to be a test to see if a revival would be feasible for this series to modern consoles. There seems to be a push to get this game in as many hands as possible to gauge interest and show that Virtua Fighter can still put up a fight. Thankfully, the updated systems, balances, and visuals make this a worthy fighter, but a lot rides on the competitive modes.
Stonefly provides an intriguing premise that lends itself to strange and fantastical gameplay. With an emphasis on aerial piloting, the combat and exploration give ample control while not feeling too fast for the laid-back spirit. While it can be confusing to shuffle through the various materials, power-up formulas can be brute-forced when necessary. Stonefly smartly lets the player control its tempo without lingering for too long, which appeals to all kinds of gamers.
Sumire is built on more narrative than adventure. Replayability comes with multiply play-throughs that add more insight to the situation and alter the conclusion. Through its childish design, Sumire covers exceptionally complicated topics that are both enchanting and thought-provoking. While the slow pacing and overall gameplay loop might hinder progression for some, I believe this to be a gem of a game.
World’s End Club is a product of some of the greatest minds in adventure storytelling. The story of the Go-Getters Club will emotionally move you in many ways through the narrative, only to be held back by unresponsive and limited platforming gameplay segments. It acts as a way for this team to step outside of their comfort zone while still being influenced by their strengths to create an unforgettable story of friendship and hope. Sadly, it requires players to look past quite a bit to fully enjoy.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World stands out as a pleasant journey packed with congenial level design, delightful visuals, and an uncomplicated but effective gameplay loop. While the combat is relatively mindless in execution, the incorporation of movement and attacking is so excellently done that this fault rarely muddled the exuberance I felt. If anything, though, I ultimately feel like there is a well of untapped potential, especially regarding the enemy design being as simplistically elementary as it was.