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game review

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City

It's the final piece of DLC for the final Dark Souls game - but does Dave Riley have any energy or spirit left for Dark Souls? The Ringed City puts him to the test. ― The Ringed City opens on a vertiginous sight: a sheer cliffside overlooking a bristling conglomeration of towers and mountain peaks spiraling down as far as the eye can see. Shattered chapels jut horizontally from ruined ground and terr...
game review

Review: Persona 5

Can this highly anticipated JRPG live up to the legacy of its predecessors? Dave Riley explores what new innovations Persona 5 brings to the table. ― Even though it's five hours before the game slips the tutorial reins and lets you loose in a full-on dungeon, Persona 5's opening grips you immediately and doesn't let go. In contrast to the milquetoast player-inserts of games past, this player-characte...
game review

Review: NieR: Automata

Androids battle alien machines for control of Earth in a boldly strange action game that loves to mess with your head. Todd Ciolek has the details. ― It's important to know that NieR: Automata does not hate you, the player. NieR: Automata very easily could, after all. Yoko Taro's Drakengard titles are vicious creations, and Drakengard 3 remains a fascinatingly savage mockery of violent games and play...
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Review: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Berserk: Band of the Hawk lets you slaughter your way through Guts' most traumatic adventures in classic Musou style - but it isn't without its problems. ― By now, the formula for Omega Force's increasingly prolific line of Musou anime adaptions has proven to be a mostly winning one. Take the basic Dynasty Warriors gameplay, replace Chinese historical figures with an array of fan-favorite characters,...
game review

Review: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

It's Resident Evil as "true horror", returning to the concepts that spawned the franchise in the first place. But is it Resident Evil, or a "me too" take on modern horror? ― It's easy to imagine a world where Resident Evil 7 was just called Biohazard, marketed as a spiritual successor to the venerable zombie-killing franchise. It leaves behind the complicated series lore with its intense network of c...
game review

Review: Tales of Berseria

The latest Tales game goes darker than ever before, but does that make it better? Todd Ciolek cracks into the first big RPG of 2017! ― Tales games are struggles, and they're not just between a world-saving cadre of misfits and some ruthless villain or eldritch power. They're clashes of quality. On one side, you'll find entertaining characters and hectic, enjoyable battle systems. On the other, you'll...
game review

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS

Can the portable version of this addictive nostalgia-bomb live up to the success of its predecessor? That might depend on what kind of Mario Maker you're looking for. ― Every once in a while, there's a game that comes along that makes me say “who wanted this?” Well, sure, I bet there were plenty of folks out there who said “Yeah, I love Super Mario Maker, but it'd be really cool to have a portable ve...
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Review: Final Fantasy XV

After a decade in development, the latest entry in the Final Fantasy franchise is finally here! Dustin Bailey has the lowdown on this bishounen-packed road trip. ― Every time you boot up Final Fantasy XV, it presents you with a message, calling itself a “Final Fantasy for fans and first timers.” The series' disconnected chronology has always favored reinvention, but this one takes that that further t...
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Review: Dragon Ball Fusions

This 3DS game is a goofy mashup of characters, places, and memorable flourishes from every corner of Dragon Ball. Todd Ciolek takes a look. ― Dragon Ball Fusions says a lot in its title. It's ostensibly about the art of fusion, which in Dragon Ball canon finds two or more character blending themselves into a more powerful being. Yet it could refer to the game just as easily, as this 3DS game is a goo...
game review

Review: NES Classic Edition

This little console full of Nintendo nostalgia might be the most sought-after gadget of the holiday season! Todd Ciolek breaks down the NES Classic Edition and all 30 games available in its library. ― The Nintendo Entertainment System wasn't just a gray-and-black box that played video games. It was a paragon of late 1980s pastimes. Seizing an industry left vacant after a widespread collapse, Nintendo...
game review

Dark Souls 3: The Ashes of Ariandel

The latest DLC for Dark Souls III sends Dave Riley to the Painted World of Ariandel, where he can't shake the feeling that he should be having a lot more fun with all this. ― Calling the Souls expansions “DLC” does them a disservice. Not at all similar to the micro transaction character skins and map addons the term calls to mind, Dark Souls' Artorias of the Abyss and Bloodborne's The Old Hunters are...
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Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky

Departed souls are forced to duke it out in the afterlife in this unusual JRPG adventure. Todd Ciolek explores Exist Archive. ― If nothing else, Exist Archive: the other Side of the Sky poses a creative vision of the afterlife. Never mind those angel-heaped clouds, surging hellfires, or even the Norse realms that developer tri-Ace adapted into their Valkyrie Profile series. According to Exist Archive...
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Review: World of Final Fantasy (Playstation 4)

Just in time for the series' 30th anniversary, World of Final Fantasy brings together characters new and old for a lighthearted role-playing adventure that builds on three decades of legacy while crafting its own identity. ― It's been nearly 30 years since the four Warriors of Light crossed the bridge out of Cornelia and into our collective hearts, launching one of the biggest—if not the biggest—RPG ...
game review

Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness

In this visual novel adventure, you take on the role of Investigator or Enforcer to help the heroes of Psycho-Pass solve gruesome cases. Can this game live up to the legacy of its franchise? ― In the future, superpowered AI monitor human psychological states, measuring their likelihood of committing criminal acts and meting out proactive justice to prevent those crimes from happening. Enforcers, dire...
game review

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice

In Phoenix's sixth adventure, he travels abroad to take on cases in a country where defense attorneys have been outlawed! Todd Ciolek puts his own lawyer skills to the test. ― Phoenix Wright needs a vacation, a transfer, or to use apt terminology, a change of venue. Throughout five major Ace Attorney games and several spin-offs, Capcom's presented Wright with fiendishly complex murders, help in the f...
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Review: Zero Time Dilemma

The latest installment in Kotaro Uchikoshi's ambitious story-driven series is a riveting sci-fi tale that takes no prisoners. ― Zero Time Dilemma is a game that almost didn't happen. Development was put on hiatus in 2012, citing poor sales of the Zero Escape series in Japan as the cause. The previous game, Virtue's Last Reward, ended on a tremendous cliffhanger that looked like it could be forever un...
game review

Review: Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III is a splendid rendition of the form, but familiarity often breeds contempt. Though it's a great refinement of everything that's come before, this new iteration adds little to the formula. ― It's tough to describe Dark Souls 3 without becoming mired in references, it leans so hard into what's come before that its own character feels somewhat slight. Here's the poison swamp, here's the c...
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Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc PC

The smash cult visual novel finally comes to Steam! Jacob Hope Chapman puts the latest port of this shocking and wildly entertaining mystery to the test. ― Outside of a few mainstream-friendly darlings like the Phoenix Wright series, Western gamers don't get many official releases from Japan's massive bevy of murder-mystery-driven visual novels. Given how hard it can be to get these games brought ove...
game review

Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster

One of Dave Riley's fondest videogame friends and a cult favorite entry in the Resident Evil series comes back with a facelift and a new suite of features, but can Dave go home again? ― Resident Evil Zero, a prequel featuring Resident Evil 1's ultra-wimp, Rebecca Chambers, places the eighteen-year-old rookie medic in her own grueling, eight-to-ten hour, zombie-shotgunning adventure. Backing her up is...
game review

Review: Yakuza 5

The flaws and foibles of Yakuza 5's presentation aren't hurdles to jump, they're an inextricable part of what makes this game special. ― Yakuza is a hectic blend of the absurd, the melodramatic, and the mundane. In this bizarre world where even the loan sharks have a heart of gold--Sky Finance offers the best no-collateral, no-interest loan you'll get this side of Tom Nook--mafiosos spend as much tim...
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Rodea the Sky Soldier

Simple but reflexively fun, Rodea the Sky Soldier emerges as the last good Wii game. Unfortunately, it's also on the Wii U and 3DS. ― Second chances come often in Rodea the Sky Soldier. The original game emerged as a Wii creation from Yuji Naka and his Prope studio in 2011. The Wii was on the verge of retirement at the time, but if the man responsible for NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, Ivy the Kiwi!, and s...
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Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden

Arc System Works put together a competent fighter with some enjoyable side attractions, but Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden can't escape the fans-only landing zone that awaits merely adequate anime-inspired games. ― The modern fighting game barely existed back when Dragon Ball Z first appeared as an anime series and an extension of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga. Yet the two worlds were fated to m...
game review

Fatal Frame 5: Maiden of Black Water

Fatal Frame returns as a somewhat modernized horror game experience just in time for Halloween, but the results are decidedly less than spooktacular. ― Featuring more spooky dolls than you can shake a camera at and a cast comprised primarily of breathily voiced young women in incredibly intricate attire, Fatal Frame's fifth installment, Maiden of Black Water, certainly nails the look and feel. The ic...
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Review: Yoshi's Woolly World

After two decades of mediocrity, Yoshi finally delivers a worthy follow-up to his most beloved classic. ― A personal litmus test for what makes a truly superb action/platform game is how memorable individual levels are. After all, when you're zipping through stage after stage, bouncing across dangling lifts and bopping bunches of enemies, things can start to blend together after a while. The best pla...
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Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

The new Animal Crossing game strips out most of what people associate with the franchise to focus almost entirely on interior design. It's so crazy it just might work! ― There are some game ideas that sound great on paper but are executed horribly. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is the exact opposite: it sounds like an absolutely terrible idea on paper. Take a game known for its numerous life-s...
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Game Review: Afro Samurai 2: Kuma's Revenge

Afro Samurai gets resurrected as a video game, this time an episodic sequel to the 2009 Xbox 360 game. Dave Riley thinks maybe they should've left this one in the oven a little longer, though. ― Afro Samurai has always been a curious case, a rare piece of major Japanese media that reciprocates American hip hop's pointed interest in Asian pop culture. A self-funded manga from an indie Japanese creator...
game review

Super Mario Maker

The good news: Mario Maker is a great tool that lets anyone design Mario levels. The bad news: Mario Maker is a great tool that lets anyone design Mario levels. ― It's pointless to try and review Super Mario Maker like most other games, because it's not as much of a game as it is a tool. Sure, there are a handful of pre-made levels on the disc to mess around with, but ultimately most of the fun from ...
game review

Mega Man Legacy Collection

The Legacy Collection ably captures Mega Man's first great heights as well as his slide into mediocrity, and even that mediocrity is enjoyable. ― Mega Man wasn't meant to survive. As longtime series producer Keiji Inafune relayed, Capcom's heads initially didn't want to make a sequel to the original 1987 Mega Man. They were content to leave it an impressive but not particularly profitable stand-alone...
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Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The Phantom Pain takes Metal Gear Solid into the open world, but loses some of the series' essential personality in the process. Also: there's a dog. ― Snake (aka "Big Boss") wakes up from a nine-year coma in 1984 with blurry vision and the lo-fi crackle of David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World blaring from a nearby boombox. The beginning of The Phantom Pain burdens this weakened Snake, and his pl...
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Review: Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

Ultra Despair Girls takes Danganronpa into the third person shooter genre, with decidedly mixed results. Some of the things you love about Danganronpa are still here, but there's something amiss... ― Taking place between the first and second Danganronpa games, Ultra Despair Girls is a sidequel starring ultra-generic series lead Makoto Naegi's ultra-generic sister Komaru Naegi. Komaru, kept as a hosta...
game review

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

Dave Riley straps himself in for a trip through Swery65's crime-solving, episodic murder mystery, now on PC. ― A giant man in a surgical mask and crisp white suit steps out of the airplane bathroom, scraping his cutlery while the sounds of a smoky saxophone tootle through the air, and you can't help but think, "we're still doing the David Lynch thing, huh?" Swery65's crime-solving, episodic murder my...
game review

Review: Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains

Attack on Titan comes to the Nintendo 3DS, and Dave Riley straps on his 3D maneuver gear to take down some titans. Whether or not he's still having fun after the first one is up for debate, though. ― Trapped behind giant stone walls of their own making, the final remnants of humanity huddle in fear of the unexplained threat of giant, gleefully stupid titans who saunter in every now and then to chow d...
game review

Review: Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart

The latest entry in Idea Factory's consoles-turned-moe-girls series takes the form of a PS Vita strategy game. Heidi Kemps puts it through the paces. ― My experience with the Neptunia franchise hasn't been the greatest: I played the first and second games in their original releases on the PS3 and would choose to describe them as “aggressively mediocre.” Even as someone who nerds out over all manner o...
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Review: Bloodborne

Dave Riley eagerly gnaws on From Software's latest grim and visceral action RPG for the PS4, but does it live up to the legacy established by the Dark Souls series? ― Some hours into Bloodborne you'll find your first shield, a rotten wooden board, whose item description comments on its poor construction and immediately insults you for considering using it. "Shields are nice, but not if they engender ...
game review

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Capcom's horror sequel attempts to bring Resident Evil into the episodic age. Dave Riley, superfan of the original Revelations, investigates. ― For fans, Revelations 2 justifies its existence through its protagonists alone, Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, neither of whom have had more than a minigame cameo or light gun spinoff in a decade. Trapped on an abandoned island, Claire and Barry are paired...
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Review: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Dave Riley is on a mission to determine if the latest entry in Capcom's monster-slaying portable juggernaut is any more penetrable than the last. ― Monster Hunter's body language is the best in the business. Few games model the stages between an enemy being alive (and shooting) or dead (and in chunks), so saying that feels like half a compliment. But, amid the common complaints about how this series ...
game review

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-

Xrd is not just a next-generation fighting game, it's also a complete package in every department. Could it be the pinnacle of modern fighting games? ― The last fighting game release in the Guilty Gear series was (putting aside several patches) GGXX Accent Core in 2006: rights issues put another GG fighting game out of the question. After the strange, brilliant, and largely ignored Guilty Gear 2-- a ...
game review

Resident Evil HD Remaster

The remake of the survival horror classic an entire generation grew up with arrives once again, this time remastered for modern consoles and PC. ― The 2002 Resident Evil's strict adherence to its Playstation source material immediately drew you in. Walking into that two story entrance hall, players saw the same staircase, pillars, marble floor, and ornate rugs that defined many people's first 32-bit ...
game review

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

These three Ace Attorney games show little wear, proving just as witty and endearing as they were many years ago. Hiccups and silliness aside, Phoenix Wright’s cases are hard to set down once you’re in deep. ― The game-playing multitudes often worry over writing quality. Many of us want game stories to be the serious, respected stuff of collegiate literary analysis, and we get downright bitter when t...
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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Fresh from the bonus stages of Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad's treasure tracking adventures are fun, whimsical, and easy on the senses. ― Treasure Tracker is a simple game, built on the ultra-fun playhouses that Super Mario 3D World used for variety between its standard platforming levels. Captain Toad and Toadette trundle through bite-sized dioramas floating in space, grabbing up 1-ups and fist...
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Game Review: Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax

Your favorite (and not-so-favorite) light novel anime characters come together to pound the tar out of one another in this import-only fighting game. ― This is a funny situation for French Bread. As one of the stars of the late 90s-early 00's doujinshi game era, they used to make games like this all the time. The formula is pretty simple: you slap whatever character's popular right now into a fightin...
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Game Review: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

A fanservice-heavy, dungeon-crawling, number-crunching marriage between Etrian Odyssey and Personas 3 and 4. What could possibly go wrong? ― Thrown together across time, the casts of Persona 3 and 4 navigate a very Etrian Odyssey labyrinth with a very Persona set of abilities. Though the series seem at odds with each other--Etrian Odyssey's barely-there story clashes with Persona's sappy melodrama an...
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Bayonetta 2

Not much here is completely new, but the first game was essentially the pinnacle of the genre so who could complain about ten more hours of new looks, new locations, and new armaments? ― More happens in the beginning of Bayonetta 2 than in most other game's whole run. It's almost a cliche, people have been saying that since the first one came around, but there's no more succinct way to put it when th...
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The Evil Within

It's hard to blame Shinji Mikami for going back to the well, especially when everything else, from Gears of War to The Last of Us, has spent the past ten years stripping Resident Evil 4 to its bones. ― The Evil Within introduces its first enemy in a perfect recreation of Resident Evil's iconic zombie reveal, as if it wants to be certain you know it is a Shinji Mikami game. This is a game with a lot o...
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Planetarian

Key's heartstring-tugging postapocalyptic kinetic novel finally comes to the US thanks to Sekai Project, and it just might make you cry. ― Yumemi is possibly the best employee anyone could ask for. She's cute, polite, and cares deeply for each and every customer that sets foot in the planetarium at the top of the giant Flowercrest department store. She's also exceptionally knowledgeable about the dis...
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Hatoful Boyfriend

For something so pointedly aware of its camp, for something predicated on silliness, Hatoful Boyfriend is remarkable in its sincerity. ― Since this game's absurd premise has seemingly been spread around and bird-punned to death there's no sense belaboring the description: Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim where your potential suitors are pigeons. As the only homo sapiens in the game, Hiyoko, your mis...
game review

Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Goodbye Despair, the second Dangan Ronpa, is exactly what you'd expect from the sequel to Trigger Happy Havoc. ― Goodbye Despair, the second Dangan Ronpa, is exactly what you'd expect from the sequel to Trigger Happy Havoc, a madcap series of murder mysteries constructed with the same pastel-spattered palette of goofy anime caricatures that belie its dark tone. A fresh crop of super geniuses arrives ...
game review

Muramasa: Rebirth / Genroku Legends

The main game doesn't have anything new to offer fans of the original, but veterans willing to double dip will get the best Muramasa's ever been. ― Muramasa always felt like a weekend sort of game: a 2D brawler with some light RPG bits, short and simple, and fun enough for a couple days. Compared to Vanillaware's previous game, Odin Sphere, everything in Muramasa is quick and fluid. Fighting is high ...
game review

Review: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

Under Night is an elegantly designed game by people who have been at fighting games for a long time, and who deeply understand what's truly important about them. ― Between the convoluted modern-fantasy setting, a magic-powered cast, and its quite amazing interpretation of the English language, one could not be blamed for mistaking Under Night In-Birth for some kind of Type-Moon knockoff. The truth is...
game review

Kamen Rider Battride War II

There is probably a good videogame waiting to burst forth out of Kamen Rider Battride War II. ― Of all the Japanese characters that have been used to make a Dynasty Warriors/Musou game (or just a ripoff of one, as this game is), the long-lived Kamen Rider superhero series is among the most appropriate. You see, beating up hordes of identical henchmen before finishing off their boss with a fancy move ...
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Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn

Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn does little more than its assigned duty as a playground for battle-mecha carnage. It's enjoyable in quick little brawls, never outright terrible but always a bit tedious. ― Gundam is often at war with itself. At its most meaningful, it's a revolving mythos of savage conflicts amid orbital colonies. It's a space-robot melodrama proving that technology and exploration do ...
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Mobile Suit Gundam Side Stories

For the duration of the time I played this game, I was thinking about other, better Gundam things I'd have rather been enjoying. ― To start with, this has been marketed as a collection of HD remakes of old games, which is a brazenly false statement As I write this, the game's Amazon.jp page is ravaged by justifiably angry one-star reviews, in part due to this. Rather than remaking six fairly differen...
game review

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight's phenomenal passion for the old mixes perfectly with its drive to create something new. ― Shovel Knight is a retro-style platformer, mostly Mega Man in feel, about a knight who digs dirt and bashes bad guys with a shovel. Despite the silliness of the concept, his weapon being a shovel isn't an excuse to wink at the camera. This game plays it straight. Each level begins with a stoic phr...
game review

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Murdered: Soul Suspect turns out something "good enough" just because games like it are so thin on the ground we'll take anything that doesn't fall flat on its face. ― Based on its concept, and its Japanese/American co-pro heritage, Murdered: Soul Suspect conjures hopes of Ghost Trick-meets-La Noire-meets Phoenix Wright. Like in Phoenix Wright, much of the game is pixel hunting for hidden clues, but ...
game review

Transistor

It's hard to fault passion like this, even when it blinds creators to the flaws of their work ― Transistor's style is bursting at the seams, its Art Deco influence apparent in its geometric landscape and the Transistor's rigid circuitry, its Art Nouveau leanings in the organic, snaking curlicues at the corners of Red's promo posters. Red is a recently-mute singer, who along with her gabby greatsword,...
game review

Drakengard 3

Drakengard 3 is a sick joke. It might not even be a good one. But it's one that sticks with you, one that makes you rethink your entire sense of humor, and one that you'll repeat to other people despite yourself. ― Drakengard 3 is a sick joke. But that's what everyone expected. The original Drakengard made a mockery of itself, heaping unspeakable horrors upon its characters until the whole thing beca...
game review

Child of Light

Child of Light is about overcoming, and growing, and having things taken from you, but also about recognizing that you have something to give, even when it feels like you have nothing left. ― Child of Light is the story of Aurora, a fairytale girl with all the things the average fairytale girl needs: an evil stepmother, a wicked queen, a plucky sidekick, and a cursed sleep. At first, this is every bi...
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Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV won't satisfying the craving for a mainline game, but it does have all the trappings of some really good fanservice. ― The Final Fantasy XIV that debuted in 2010 was so tragically bad Square Enix felt compelled to waive the subscription fee for over a year as an apology. The game relaunched as A Realm Reborn almost three years later and was praised by fans and critics alike for bein...
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The 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Hell Chapter

If you can deal with a language barrier (or you can read Japanese), you're into SRPGs, and you've got a month or so free, this is a major and rewarding undertaking. ― Super Robot Wars-- best to assume you don't know-- is a gigantic strategy RPG that teams up heroes from 20-30 different robot anime series, ranging from mainstays like Gundam, Macross and Go Nagai's creations to recent hits like Code Ge...
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Yoshi's New Island

While it's not a truly bad game, Yoshi's New Island just really isn't much fun to actually play. In trying to make Yoshi's Island again, Arzest has made a game that can't hold a candle to the nearly two-decade-old original visually or creatively. ― There are a lot of folks out there who accuse Nintendo of cashing in on nostalgia. Of course, it's pretty easy to trot out examples to prove these people ...
game review

Mercenary Kings

Mercenary Kings is a tangled mess of a game most of the time, but a fun one almost as often. ― On its face Mercenary Kings is a Metal Slug clone, a 2D game of neon bullets and cartoon decapitation. Under the hood it's a slew of anything that would fit: Monster Hunter's big prey, rare items, cooking buffs, and time limits, Dead Space 3's gun crafting, and an active reload snatched from Gears of War. M...
game review

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Ground Zeroes is close enough to Metal Gear to fake it, but it's off where it counts. ― In 1975 Big Boss (still known here by his codename, Snake) infiltrates an American holding camp in Cuba under rainfall and dark of night to rescue his captured comrades. Ground Zeroes is titled Metal Gear Solid V, but really it serves as prologue to the full, coming-who-knows-when Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom P...
game review

Dark Souls II

Familiarity isn't necessarily a bad word, especially when describing something made with such craft. ― Dark Souls 2 has limited ways to catch us off guard. It's not that the series has run out of new tricks, but it's conditioned us to fear and avoid surprises. We've learned to look behind us before we pick up the treasure and we've learned to stand still until we're absolutely certain we aren't walki...
game review

Earth Defense Force 2025

Earth Defense Force is again what it once was. It is large, it is pointless, and it is good, dumb fun. ― "In seven years they have evolved, and grown stronger." Have they? This is the game you remember, the game you and a friend killed a weekend with, shooting ants over pizza and beer. It's not just familiar, it's practically identical. Same assault rifle, same rocket launcher; same distressingly und...
game review

Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns

Every time we notice something Lightning Returns does wrong, we're immediately reminded of all the things it does right. ― Lightning Returns is a scattershot of a game. It's a Final Fantasy (arguably, certainly technically) with a time limit like Majora's Mask, with a battle system that superficially resembles Final Fantasy XIII, but is paced far more like Ninja Gaiden, and with a series of menial ta...
game review

Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder

Photo Finder is a menial labor simulator whose characters have heart, but whose gameplay is completely devoid of soul. ― Chibi-Robo, the house-cleaning robot, is currently in the employ of the Nostaljunk museum, a place that displays (and speculates on the purpose of) a variety of average, unexciting household items such as buttons, power outlets, and soda cans. Based on this startling lack of knowle...
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Knack

There are worse games than Knack, but in many ways a dull game is worse than a bad one. ― Knack seems like a game designed to show off new hardware. Its titular character is a robot-like being comprised of dozens, or at times hundreds, of cubes, triangles, and spheres (ancient relics) brought into a humanoid shape. It presumably takes a lot of programming work to make hundreds of cubes, triangles, an...
game review

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Link Between Worlds is the best Zelda in recent memory. ― It's been more than two decades, so it might be hard to remember how Zelda games used to throw you into a nearly open world. Link to the Past -- like the original Legend of Zelda and its contemporary, Metroid -- was about a sprawling map waiting to be explored, where the pegs that needed hammering and the rivers that needed fording cut off sin...
game review

Aquapazza

Aquapazza is complex and approachable, offering a good deal for the competitive enthusiast. Yet it comes up empty at heart, devoid of impressive style or interesting characters or any of the other supposedly trifling details that make good fighting games into great ones. ― Aquapazza inspires low expectations. It looted its cast from the Aquaplus and Leaf catalog of visual novels, RPGs, and dating sim...
game review

Resogun

It may not sell you a $400 system, but Resogun is worth every ounce of its purchase price, and it's the best thing the PS4 launch has going for it. ― Resogun marries the bumping beats, shooter stylings, and lady-bot announcer of its spiritual predecessor, Super Stardust HD, to a neon post-future aesthetic built out of voxels, 3D pixels that enjoyed some minor popularity before polygons definitively s...
game review

Super Mario 3D World

Fun, imaginative, and filled with little surprises and delights; the game tosses you into a gloriously colorful playland and says "have a good time!" ― Seeing Super Mario 3D World announced at this year's E3 was rather worrisome. Super Mario 3D Land was an utter delight, filled with challenge, imagination, and a joyful attitude that made it one of the best games in the 3DS's library. Yet here was Sup...
game review

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

For all of its gadgetry and missteps, Dual Destinies remains a Phoenix Wright game done well. It's unlike anything else in its blend of cartoon melodrama and high-stakes legal squabbling. ― Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies has a lot to prove. Disbarred for seven years, Wright himself must prove he's still the spiky-haired, finger-pointing defender of the innocent we knew in Capcom's first...
game review

Rune Factory 4

There are bigger, prettier, and more refined experiences to be found elsewhere, but few games this year have the consistent rewards of Rune Factory 4. ― There are dangers all around the town of Selphia. A forest maze teems with goblins. Half-flooded ruins house fierce manticores and devil-steeds. There's even a haunted house, complete with ghosts and grim reapers. All of these places hide secrets tha...
game review

rain

Rain is not aggressive, and it is certainly not intrusive, the TV screen like a window onto a rain-swept street, something we observe, but only barely interact with. ― Rain is a game about a boy and a girl who have slipped into dreams and lost their forms, who now travel about a sleepy city in search of their bodies, invisible, but for the vague shape of their outline, drawn by the constant rainfall....
game review

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl

There's an easy case for why they've released two EO games this year: they're both excellent. ― It seems brazen, putting out two Etrian Odyssey games barely six months apart. The dungeon crawler is not a format with particularly widespread appeal, and Etrian Odyssey Untold has not only its predecessor to contend with, but also Shin Megami Tensei IV, released in July, and Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hack...
game review

The Wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101 is the best we've seen out of the action genre since Bayonetta, and a hell of an argument for the WiiU all by itself. ― Far from an ordinary hero squad, the Wonderful 100 protects the Earth en-masse by combining (bodily) into all manner of weaponry. Wonder Red and his Unite Hand, a giant, flaming fist; Wonder Blue and his Unite Sword, an enormous, laser-reflecting blade; Wonder Gree...
game review

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2

Eventually killing fifteen hundred or two thousand enemies per level stops being novel and starts feeling mundane, and it's hard to imagine anyone using that word to describe One Piece. ― You can't shake the feeling that these games would be better if they'd just make fewer of them. When last we left One Piece: Pirate Warriors it was kind of a mess, trying to differentiate itself from the usual Dynas...
game review

Killer is Dead

Grasshopper's motto is "punk's not dead," but Killer is Dead forces the question "which parts are punk and which parts are pandering?" ― What makes a Suda game a Suda game? His name is on just about everything Grasshopper Manufacture puts out, but his most recent director credit is for the excellent-but-microscopic Liberation Maiden. His last fully-fledged game? Fatal Frame IV, whose limp-wristed run...
game review

Tales of Xillia

Xillia attempts to cut out the tedium and the small annoyances we've come to associate with Tales, but it's left nothing in their place. ― Tales games trade heavily in the familiar. Their stories are about youths learning about friendship or justice or personal responsibility against the backdrop of a world where technology and nature are on an inevitable collision course. Characters are the old guy,...
game review

Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown suffers from a stubborn refusal to hold anything back, yet it's worth a look beneath its controversial surface. There's an uncommonly well-crafted brawler lurking there. ― Dragon's Crown is a game of fierce appetites. Fantasy realms unfurl as wide and detailed as oil paintings. Towering, snarling creatures of legend fill the screen. Savage battles blur into chaos. Pneumatic amazons and...
game review

Time and Eternity

Time and Eternity's attempt at playing anime falls to ruin at every point. Hoping to fuse games and animation into a revolutionary RPG, it instead picks terrible ingredients from both worlds. ― Time and Eternity clearly, desperately wants to be anime. It shows in the game's very first scene, where a naive princess named Toki and her fiancé discuss their impending nuptials. They and their meddlesome c...
game review

Project X Zone

Project X Zone is a bit too comfortable in its fantasy fulfillment. A hectic battle system builds up, but the energy fades well before the game's over. All that stays are the geek pleasures of seeing dozens of previously unacquainted characters bounce off one another. ― Project X Zone is not the best strategy-RPG for customizing and cultivating a small army of followers. That'd be Final Fantasy Tacti...
game review

Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV's incrementally improved (and substantially kinder) mechanics may make it worth playing for lapsed fans who are burned out on the series, but anyone looking for the next Persona will come away disappointed. ― When we think of Japanese RPGs we think of effete protagonists and battling ancient dragons. Shin Megami Tensei IV has both, but in doses so small they almost feel like res...

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