Fighting games are living in a resurgent time so it is awesome to see this game get a second lease on life. Having never played it, it was a pleasant surprise that is packed with a ton of solo content to keep me interested. This is all without having any attachment to the anime or characters themselves. It made me interested in the universe and I had a blast playing the game on all fronts. If you enjoy fighting games and maybe are not as deep into the FGC or tournament scene, this game packs plenty of options for casual and experienced players alike.
Trails from Zero is a wonderful introduction to Crosbell and the charming members of the SSS, expertly ported to PC with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a modern release. It’s a great sign of things to come for the sequel and an easy recommendation to all RPG fans.
Expanding the amount of content available (including the incredibly smart decision to open the horde-mode like Salmon Run game mode up at all times) makes this game the best one yet and one of the most enjoyable multi-player shooters on the market. If you have been a fan of the series in the past, Splatoon 3 is a must purchase.
I would talk about the story but outside of simple details around the world when playing the levels, most of the story comes in right at the end of the game in what I felt was pretty sad for a game this happy. It has a happy ending though and I did like it. There’s a lot to be enjoyed by both kids and adults in Tinykin. It’s on Game Pass while I write this but I would absolutely buy this game again on Switch just to have it on the go so I could play it all again. I have not had this much fun with a 3D platformer since Super Mario Odyssey or Bowser’s Fury. I hope we see more of the Tinykin in the future because I think there’s a lot more we could see them do in a much longer, bigger experience.
Despite a few issues, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a remarkable achievement that evolves the series formula in exciting ways, all the while weaving an emotionally charged story that is sure to be remembered for a long time to come. It makes a strong case not just as one of the best games of the year but as one of the best of all time.
Soulstice is a solid outing that I wanted to love and recommend more. It borrows heavily from games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry without fully capturing what makes those titles so special. Still for a fairly new developer taking a stab at the genre it is filled with promise and in an era where games are supported I hope a patch can sort out of some the minor issues over time. I had fun with the game and hope they continue to improve on their craft. I am always down for character action games and if you are like me and miss the days when these were a dime a dozen, Soulstice is likely right up your alley.
NBA 2K23 is a fantastic package that is marred by a heavy reliance on microtransactions. Unless a player is going to spend hours and hours grinding out The City, the only way to find a modicum of success is to open your wallet and buy the virtual currency to boost your players and teams. The on-court gameplay is blast, and the tweaks to the AI have made playing against the computer more challenging and fun, the Jordan Challenge and the addition of the retro players and modes is a blast and I hope these features make the cut for next year. Speaking of next year, I can see it maybe being based on Kobe Bryant who we know wore the number 24 with the Lakers and tragically passed a few years ago. With it being the 2024 edition of the game, it would only make sense and be a nice honor for the ‘Black Mamba’, I just hope (I’m sure they won’t) that they stop the over reliance on this pay-to-win method that 2K has been doing the past few years, the game would be so much more enjoyable without them.
At the end of the day, Circus Electrique is still a fun time. The RPG blend of character maintenance, challenging battles, and circus management has a lot here and it can sometimes be overwhelming, but if players take their time and keep up the performers’ devotion, they can explore the mean streets of London by the skin of their teeth. It’s not an easy game, but much like Darkest Dungeon, it can be rather rewarding.
Soul Hackers 2 is a game that compares unfavorably to the recently released SMT V which I consider one of the series best. However, even when viewed on its own merits and nothing else, it falls far short of excellence due to its poor pacing, simplistic combat and endlessly dull dungeon crawling.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is no doubt a great fighting game. It offers a decent story mode and a few extra bells and whistles. On top of that, a top notch netcode and this is a solid fighting game experience. Is it beginner friendly? I’m not so sure. Is it a must purchase for Persona fans? Possibly, but keep in mind, this is a complex fighting game that will require hours of devotion to get into completely.
Disney’s Dreamlight Village is not going to be for everyone, in fact a lot of people who may not realize that the game is a F2P experience may be upset upon paying for the founder’s pack. Yes, the game will constantly give the players tasks, and almost any action just as simple as talking to a character will provide progress. But there is nothing in the way of an endgame, the experience is not going to change, the whole of this game is living your best life in the Valley, making friends and cooking with Mickey. Sure, there is a narrative, but it is very light and not necessary as the chill nature of the game is a pleasure in and of itself to play. The classic Disney music ranging from movie themes to the ole “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, MICKY MOUSE…” song that I know we all heard as a kid everything about the game just puts you in a good place. Being on Xbox gamepass is great but for anyone else unless you are a Disney/Animal Crossing superfan; I’d maybe hold off until the official Free to play release in 2023. As it stands, even with the cosmetic items; the Founders packs just all feel overpriced for what ultimately amounts to a gameplay experience of a constant list of fetch items with Disney polish.
SD Gundam: Battle Alliance is definitely a game that is created for the fans. From the roster of over 60 mobile suits (with more to be added via DLC) across the entirety of the series almost 50-year run its clear to see the passion and work that the team at Artddink poured into this game. The easier combat is complemented by the cutesy art style that the SD universe allows and even though I would prefer a more traditional Gundam experience; I must admit I had a really good time with this game. Even with the lack of an English dub and the easier combat SD Gundam: Battle Alliance may not win over any new fans to the series but for those fans who have been yearning for a new Gundam game this is one that is made for you.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a solid game that just doesn’t wow on any level. The concept feels from a different time and anyone who has nostalgia will likely enjoy the game for what it is. Still not entirely sure why this game was chosen for a remake as opposed to perhaps something like Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures from the 360 era. Those were much more competent platform games. Still it is a decent package with some frustrating older design.
I am extremely sad at this reboot of Saints Row, while I wasn’t a huge fan of the absolute bonkers nature of the 4th entry, even if I did love the 3rd. With this reboot I feel like Volition missed a huge opportunity evolve this series for a new generation, not just of consoles but for gamers. As it stands, this game comes off just feeling like its clinging to the tone and design choices from the 360; even the graphics in this reboot from 2022 feel dated and frankly Johnny Gat deserves better.
Not just for those that are curious though, even fans of Elden Ring and other Souls games will find a lot to love here in Steelrising. From a genuinely good alternative history story that takes some emotional turns, to the various mechanical enemies that litter the Parisian landscape there is a lot to like about Spider’s latest game. And while Steelrising has some of the trademark ‘jank’ that is in all Spider games, it is that very thing that makes this developer so special. All their games have something that just feels off (but in a good way), but all of their games I loved more than the next and true to form Steelrising is their best game to date.
While this year’s Madden will always feel somewhat bittersweet due to John’s passing, I think that it was beyond perfect that the best version of Madden football would be the one that was made to honor the legacy of its namesake. From the factoids that I learned about Coach, to the superb presentation and soundtrack throughout the entire game, to the fantastic on field play; this years Madden as far as I am concerned has finally broken free of the 2K series and has gone all the way!
The Last of Us Part 1 is a hard game to review. On one hand it is still an amazing achievement all these years later. The story is fantastic, and the characters are some of the best. I love the original game and this remake doesn’t change that. Still for $70 it is a lot to ask for a game that hasn’t exactly been out of the conversation since it released. The removal of multiplayer is also questionable, but I guess it makes sense as players could still play that in the PS4 remaster. There is a lot to appreciate here, and truly this is one of the best-looking games ever created.
For the nostalgic players looking to relive their time with the Dark Alliance series, I could see them picking this up and having a decent time with it. Players that are really big into ARPGs could have some fun, but will more than likely find themselves preferring a more streamlined and accessible title to jump into. It’s a hard sell for many, but there is some fun to be had here if you keep in mind that this game was released in 2004 and for the most part stayed in 2004.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is an overdose of nostalgia for me. I grew up with TMNT constantly on the brain. These games are a treat to revisit mostly because of the quality of life updates the developers have added. I just spent an entire day digging back into all of it. Playing through both arcade games, and of course watching the video of someone beating the dam level, because I cannot do that. This collection is outstanding and I cannot wait for their release of the 50th Anniversary of Atari later this year.
Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed is yet another solid remake of a franchise that somehow hit a downward spiral after the first couple outings. This remake is definitely a lot of fun even if it screams a product of its time. There are some things that have not aged well, but I had a lot of fun with what is here. I would love to finally see a new game now, do NOT remake Big Willy Unleashed…I beg you. As it stands this latest remake is great, I just wonder how well it will do being limited to only new consoles as well as PC.