Crash Team Racing Nitro-FueledXbox One
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is at once a joyful and joyless recreation of a stone-cold classic. Packed to the gills with content, this drive down memory lane still contains a sense of the original’s magic, and artfully decorates your favorite tracks and drivers with an impeccable attention to detail. But it’s not immune to the modern era, and the looming threat of live-service DLC and nostalgia-grabbing looms heavy over the entire game.
Super Mario Maker 2Switch
Super Mario Maker 2 will please both dedicated level-builders and newcomers. Story Mode gives players a nice pu-pu platter of professionally made Mario levels, and the inclusion of 3D World’s suite of tools and moves offer even the most seasoned veterans more with which to experiment. But in terms of pure scope and ambition, Super Mario Maker 2 more closely resembles the “Deluxe” Wii U rereleases that have become staples of the Switch’s library. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the formula is so exhaustive already. Just don’t go in expecting a true evolution of the series—and get that Switch Online subscription ready.
My Friend PedroSwitch
My Friend Pedro is an enthusiastic, stylish take on the shoot ‘em up genre that’s elevated by its complex level designs and clever puzzles. It combines so many mechanics from so many games that you might lose track, but these elements all come together to create a unified, singular experience. If you ever wondered what you’d get by crossing Hard Boiled and Super Mario Bros., it would look a lot like My Friend Pedro.
Making a spin-off to a beloved niche series that then drops its most popular character seemed like a crazy idea at first, but Judgment is a success beyond what I could have expected. Though it never quite escapes the shadow of its older siblings, this tale of a fallen lawyer and his refusal to let go of the truth provides an experience that has a lot to offer both Yakuza fans and newcomers alike.
Void BastardsXbox One
Between its compelling art direction, surprisingly complex strategic decisions, and inventive weaponry, there’s a lot much to love in Void Bastards. Unfortunately, its overall structure and narrative will leave you feeling empty by the end. That’s not to say you shouldn’t let yourself enjoy all that this charming, stressful game has to offer. Just don’t expect to feel totally satisfied once you escape to the right nebula.
A Plague Tale: InnocenceXbox One
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a perfect example of why I’m such a cheerleader for mid-tier games. Bigger in scope and production than most indie titles, but more daring and free to explore new ideas than costly triple-A projects, games such as these are where we see some of the most unique and compelling offers on the market. Even with my personal biases against two core parts of its gameplay, A Plague Tale completely won me over—and while it’s certainly not perfect, it’s pretty darn good.
RAGE 2Xbox One
Even after 8 years, the Rage series is still having an identity crisis. It has all the signifiers of an open-world game, but it lacks the overall narrative that makes the world compelling, and its best bits—that is, its gunfights—take places in either small, complexly designed arenas or in hallways, like a linear shooter. The greatest irony about Rage 2 is that it might have been an even better, more interesting game if it was more like the first game with a fresh coat of (pink) paint.
World War ZXbox One
While it’s an unabashed Left 4 Dead clone that never extends beyond the conservative concepts and budgets that obviously constrained its development, World War Z offers up an enjoyable adventure that at times does a lot with the little it attempts. No matter whether playing the co-op campaign or competitive multiplayer, there’s enough good to the game to make the bad not feel as bad.
Derivative and beset by astounding technical problems, Days Gone is a rare misfire among Sony’s first-party efforts. While the core fantasy of surviving in a world overrun with infected occasionally shines through, Bend Studio doesn’t deliver nearly enough compelling moments to justify the long slog it takes to see this mediocre story through to its end.
SEKIRO: Shadows Die TwicePS4
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will try your patience. As you might expect given its developer, it’s a devastatingly difficult game that will require your skill and concentration. It’s beautifully designed, with a clever new combat system and some of the most cinematic action ever in a From game, and it will kill you over and over again. All told, it’s the best game I’ve ever hated, and I never want to play it again.
Devil May Cry 5PS4
The world has long waited for a proper new chapter of the groundbreaking Devil May Cry series, and in Devil May Cry 5, Capcom has given us an experience that was very much worth that wait. While the game requires players to really invest in its concepts before its depth truly shines through, that investment will definitely pay off for those who put in the time and energy to master DMC5’s three diverse heroes.
Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn3DS
The strong gameplay design from Kirby’s Epic Yarn still shines a decade later, and the carefully-crafted additions in Extra make the original feel threadbare in comparison. While some of the new features may feel a bit “extra,” that is the name of the game. A couple of addicting new minigames and added higher-difficulty game modes for more advanced players make Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn a game anyone could enjoy.
DEAD OR ALIVE 6PS4
Dead or Alive 6 is a solid new chapter in Team Ninja’s long-running fighting game series that has rarely been satisfied with just being “solid.” All of the groundwork that needed to be built here was built, but upon it was placed a mostly by-the-numbers experience that is too often just as frustrating as it is fun.
Anthem is a beautiful car that is an absolute joy to drive, but so far, it only has enough gas to get you a couple miles. Also, the wheels will periodically fall off. Sold as a live-service game, fans of Anthem’s exhilarating gameplay have to hold out hope that things will improve, but there’s no denying the initial expedition was rough.
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the GrooveSwitch
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a literal return-to-form for the series, and longtime fans should be happy about that. While it might not be a hardcore roguelike or fully integrate its more modern design choices, it does exactly what it sets out to do: give players a true sequel to the original Genesis classic. It’s hard to say how far this formula could have come in 28 years if the series hadn’t taken detours into other genres, but for now I’m just happy that it’s gone back to its roots.
Jump Force is the kind of game that would usually just come and go due to how unimpressive and flawed of an effort it is, and it’s more than likely that that’s exactly what it is going to do. And yet, buried beneath all of the bad is some honest amount of good. It’s almost a shame that Jump Force wasn’t more of a mess in everything other than its 3-vs-3 fights, because the game would be a whole lot more enjoyable if we were able to laugh at its terribleness more often.
Crackdown 3Xbox One
Crackdown 3 is just more Crackdown. For some players, that will be enough. But compared to what Crackdown 3 initially promised, what we ended up with seems lacking in depth and destruction. When it’s good, like with its boss fights, there’s nothing like it. Unfortunately, there’s just too much filler, and with its most exciting feature demoted to a fairly minor multiplayer mode, Crackdown 3 just isn’t the step forward that it could have been.
Far Cry New DawnPS4
Fire may have rained from the skies and wiped out entire nations, but the action in Far Cry New Dawn is pretty much the same as it ever was, only less so. A few interesting new tweaks to the series’ formula are overshadowed by a cut-rate campaign, a story that gets colossally dumb in the third act, and a resource system that feels both unbalanced and pointless.
The journey of Metro Exodus is more rollercoaster than train ride, with peaks and troughs rather than a steady level of quality throughout. Its technical issues make the product feel rushed, but these are worth suffering for a series that’s ultimately heading down the right track.
The Liar Princess and the Blind PrinceSwitch
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince continues Nippon Ichi Software’s tradition of visually compelling games that sadly feel a little lacking in the gameplay department. This adventure of a wolf in human form leading a delicate prince through a dangerous forest could have benefitted from a deep level of puzzles and polish—and yet, in the end, it may still win you over due to its style and sentiment.
Kingdom Hearts IIIPS4
Can any game live up to a decade of hype? Kingdom Hearts III tries, and its meticulously-recreated Disney worlds, jam-packed combat system, and wealth of minigames offer a ton for players to explore. However, the game’s bizarre pacing, an abundance of cutscenes, and an unrewarding story may leave players more bewildered than satisfied by the end.
Wargroove might be the least original game I’ve played in a long time, but it offers fans of the Advance Wars series something we’ve been lacking for a while. Thankfully, Wargroove does add enough subtle variations on Advance Wars’ formula to create its own niche, and multiplayer is much easier than convincing your other friend with a Game Boy Advance to buy their own copy. Even if you’re playing alone, there’s plenty to see and do, as long as you’re willing to learn some hard lessons along the way.
Resident Evil 2PS4
A continuation of Bandai Namco’s long-running flight simulation series, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown offers fans an invigorating, polished and beautifully-rendered action game that sometimes becomes obscured by a silly story, vague objectives and a steep learning curve. Those familiar with the series will likely be able to see past the muck and enjoy the fast-paced action for what it is, as excellent controls and gorgeous graphics certainly help.
Ace Combat 7: Skies UnknownPS4
Those familiar with the series will likely be able to see past the muck and enjoy the fast-paced action for what it is, as excellent controls and gorgeous graphics certainly help. Those, looking for more, however, may be disappointed. Still, this type of game is fairly rare these days, and if you’re looking for one, just know what you’re in for going in, and have fun.
Travis Strikes Again: No More HeroesSwitch
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes might not exactly be the game that fans of the series were hoping for, but if you want to catch up with your favorite assassin and are willing to accept changes made to the gameplay, you should find plenty to like here. This is a surprisingly complex game and seriously goofy sequel-ish thing, made with obvious passion and an undying love for the gaming experience.