Review: Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games offers fun time, downtime in equal measure

After taking a bit of time off, the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series is back in time for Tokyo, and for a Japanese game, representing itself well for the host country is clearly important. It’s not a good time to phone it in, so it makes sense that this release could draw your eye. How does it manage, given increased expectations? Let’s get into it.

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Atelier Ryza’s item synthesis system is incredibly intuitive

Gust is always changing how alchemy works in Atelier games. The synthesis system is in flux, with different means of piecing things together appearing almost every time. Sometimes, you’ll have more puzzling moments. The Mysterious series has entries with grids and ingredients having different colors and shapes to fill boxes. The Arland trilogy tended to have you picking items from lists. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout changes up everything in the best sort of way, and the result is an entry where it is easier to become an invested alchemist.

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Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD tries to reshape a Wii launch game’s legacy

By any given measure, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a reclamation project of sorts. Banana Blitz wasn’t a particularly well-received entry at the time, and the intervening years have not seen a late fandom grow around it. So why is it, of all the Super Monkey Ball games, getting a remaster? One potential reason is that decision-makers at Sega thought it had an undiscovered appeal buried under its early motion controls and lack of development focus.

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Review: Atelier Ryza shows the series is growing up

Most of Gust’s Atelier games feel alike. A young woman decides she wants to become an alchemist and goes about honing her skills, proving herself and solving some major problem along the way. Every entry seems to have a priority, be it the exploration elements, item creation, relationships or story, but none of the installments released since Atelier Rorona feel like a step forward. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is a great big jump in almost every way.

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Appreciating distinctive Monster Hunter-likes

Thanks to Monster Hunter World, the series has exploded in popularity. People might experience it, go through its Iceborne expansion, then wonder what’s next. While moving on to another entry in that series is a possibility, it isn’t the only option. The series is so popular, it has inspired a whole collection of contemporaries who do similar things. Best of all, some of them explore the space to try and improve on areas Monster Hunter doesn’t touch.

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Review: The unlikely Sega Ages Ichidant-R is a welcome surprise

In most instances, a retro re-release project is about capitalizing on nostalgia. It’s about letting players revisit old favorites on new platforms, and the comfort of the known being preserved for future play. And Sega’s no stranger to that, both with this Sega Ages series and its compilation efforts in general. At least for those of us in the West, though, Sega Ages Ichidant-R is different. It’s an unknown artifact delivered to an audience to let them learn more, and it’s exactly the sort of effort that fans of Japanese games should applaud.

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Review: Sega Ages: Columns II keeps the pressure on players

Each console has its own sort of puzzle series connected to them. When someone thinks of a Nintendo system, Picross or Tetris could come to mind. After all, both have made their home there for years. With Sega, another sort was its identifying IP: Columns. Until the Nintendo Switch came along, the worldwide library has been rather incomplete. Columns II never appeared outside of Japan. With Sega Ages: Columns II, people’s library is finally complete.

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