Review: PixelJunk Monsters 2 demands perfection in defense of its tiki tower title

While the PixelJunk franchise’s PS3 heyday has long passed, many of its concepts are well worth another look. None were ever quite as popular as PixelJunk Monsters, so developer Q-Games’ return to it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, but a lot’s changed in the world of tower defense in the past decade and what the team kept, and scrapped, is interesting to explore.

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Review: Sakura Momoko no Ukiuki Carnival

Sometimes, first-party Nintendo games do not manage to get a worldwide release. Sakura Momoko no Ukiuki Carnival is one of those games. An adventure game with input from Sakura Momoko, the mangaka behind Chibi Maruko-chan, Shigeru Miyamoto, Indieszero and Nintendo, it tasked people with throwing a carnival using the power of the internet. It was unquestionably charming and odd, offering an aesthetic not often seen in the medium. It is also to the rest of the world’s detriment that it never appeared outside of Japan.

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Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is an experience you can’t re-fuse

Atlus has a great track record of revisiting its portable gems and giving them a new coat of paint. Just on the 3DS, it’s remastered both Devil Survivor games, the first two Etrian Odyssey releases, Radiant Historia and even the long-dead Soul Hackers. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux follows this well-established formula, retaining the original Strange Journey‘s gameplay while refining the visuals just a bit and adding new veins of gameplay to explore.

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Review: Dragon’s Crown Pro brings the original’s gameplay to new resolutions

When I reviewed the initial release of Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown in 2013, I called it a bundle of contradictions: brilliantly elegant when it’s not mind-numbingly frustrating and gorgeous and lush when it’s not making you intensely uncomfortable. Five years later, we have Dragon’s Crown Pro, and it’s even more mercurial in this new incarnation. It’s the same game in the ways you want, but it also skips an opportunity to make small changes that could really improve the overall experience.

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Review: The Charming Empire’s an intriguing otome

Most otome games tend to be rather straightforward affairs. You have a heroine, someone who is often devoid of personality so the player can better envision themselves in the role, and an excuse for her to be exposed to multiple men she could plausibly romance. It is rare for other story elements to appear around this and be explored, but it does happen from time to time. The Charming Empire is one of those games that offers a little extra exposition. Yes, the heroine is suddenly exposed to five men who all happen to be single, but players also get to deal with the troubles that can come from being thrust into a royal life.

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Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 sends a puppet down a lonely road

Nippon Ichi Software has a talent for making people care about undesirable characters. It made a name for itself with series like Disgaea, where the heroes are always these villainous overlords from hellish places and the gameplay consists of complex, strategic endeavors where intensive grinding is a fact of life. The Witch and the Hundred Knight series has always been an attempt to repeat that concept, only within a loot-heavy, action-RPG sphere. One of the original game’s problems was that the characters were too horrifying and villainous. While some of the gameplay elements are tightened up in The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2, it unfortunately repeats the first game’s mistake of not giving us leads worth loving.

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Review: Atelier Lydie & Suelle ties up a trilogy

Gust’s Atelier series releases in groups of trilogies as of late. For example, Atelier Rorona, Totori and Meruru are part of the Arland trilogy, while Atelier Ayesha, Escha & Logy and Shallie make up the Dusk line. We are now at the end of another group. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a game pulling double duty. It is expected to provide people an opportunity to help a pair of twins develop the best atelier in their town, while also wrapping up all of the Mysterious series’ storylines. While this particular trilogy has not been the most enthralling in Atelier history, this installment tries to make up for its predecessors’ story shortcomings while quickly tying up loose ends.

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Review: The Alliance Alive binds many RPG mainstays together

False starts happen. People can attempt to create or do things with the best of intentions, with the end result ranging from passable to a miserable failure. FuRyu found itself in that exact situation with The Legend of Legacy a few years ago. It wanted to create a SaGa-style JRPG, but ended up with a drawn-out, tedious affair. Now, The Alliance Alive has come along to not only rectify every failing of its predecessor, but deliver the sort of experience FuRyu likely intended and Nintendo 3DS RPG fans deserve.

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Review: Ni no Kuni II builds a nation of imagination

The return of a property mashing up all-stars, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom aims to step out of its predecessor’s shadow. It uses animation work from those with Studio Ghibli experience, but no longer has a connection to the studio itself. It comes from the team behind many core Dragon Quest titles, but moves further away from some of that series’ tropes while retaining what works in a more divergent context. It tells a tale of idealized innocence, without for a second apologizing for it. And it never lets up on the charm.

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