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System: Switch
Release date: October 29, 2019
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA


The Super Monkey Ball franchise naturally yields many questions. For instance: why are these monkeys locked in see-through balls? Why do they roll around at hundreds of miles per hour? Why do they live in hellscapes made up of floating physics-based obstacle courses? And perhaps most importantly, why would SEGA decide to remaster Banana Blitz, one of the series’ less popular entries, instead of the much more beloved titles on GameCube? Yet SEGA has indeed brought Banana Blitz back onto modern platforms with this new HD re-release after its first appearance more than a decade ago on the Wii. So now that everyone’s favorite primate-rolling franchise has finally debuted on current-gen hardware, the most pertinent question remains to be answered: does this new edition address the issues that plagued Banana Blitz’ first release, or does it merely monkey around?

System: Switch
Release date: October 16, 2019
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Game Freak


Little Town Hero is the most deceptive game I’ve ever reviewed. On the surface, it doesn’t look all that intimidating – this original RPG from Game Freak features a lighthearted story and cartoonish visuals, even claiming to be built with “the busy gamer in mind.” All that considered, it makes itself out to be a charming little experience. Yet beneath this welcoming veneer lies an extremely strategic combat system whose depth and complexity will likely prove overwhelming for all but the most seasoned roleplaying veterans. It’s vastly rewarding for those willing to dive deep into its dense mechanics, but for anyone looking for the lighter experience that the game makes itself out to be, then they might be let down.

System: Switch
Release date: September 24, 2019
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami


Contra: Rogue Corps is a fever dream. It’s an unexpected revival of a long-dormant franchise in a new genre, one in which an cybernetic panda can tear through an alien horde while a shirtless soldier declares that “You know I had to do it to ’em” as he rides a rocket into said crowd of fiends. On top of this absurdity, it is also one of the blandest, ugliest, and most disappointing games I’ve yet had the pleasure of reviewing. But how did Rogue Corps go so wrong? Let’s review aggressively and find out.

System: Switch
Release date: July 26, 2019
Developer: Aplus Games
Publisher: Arc System Works / PQube


Not many anime are as equally popular and controversial as Kill la Kill. Since its debut back in 2013, the show has been lauded for its unparalleled sense of style, humor, and intense action. On the other hand, it has also been criticized for its depiction of female characters and its inconsistent storytelling. Such factors should make adapting it into a video game an intimidating process. Yet famed publisher Arc System Works has stepped up to the plate, collaborating with developer Aplus to bring the anime to life in a new fighting game, entitled Kill la Kill: IF. Better yet, the show’s original creators, Studio Trigger, have overseen the game’s creation. Now the question remains: with such pedigree behind its creation, can the game keep from losing its way?

System: Switch
Release date: June 25, 2019
Developer: Artisan Studios / Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory


Have you ever wanted Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and SEGA to be personified as anime girls? If for some bizarre reason you answer “yes,” then the Neptunia franchise should be right up your alley. Since the release of the first Neptunia game in 2010, this Japanese RPG series has presented fanciful takes on the age-old console wars. With Super Neptunia RPG, the franchise finally makes its debut on a Nintendo system, as well as its first foray into 2D game design. While this latest entry features all the charm and fast-paced gameplay that make the series so endearing, the larger package feels so rough around the edges that it can be hard to recommend.

System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: June 20, 2019
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital


Let me begin with a full disclosure: I have never used hallucinogenic drugs in my life, and after playing My Friend Pedro, I don’t think I’ll ever need to. It’s a game where you can take commands from a talking banana, explore the inner psyche of said banana, and slow down time to gun down your enemies with all the grace of a ballet dancer. This latest release from darling indie publisher Devolver Digital is unabashedly weird, violent, and, in its own strange way, beautiful. The experience may be over far too soon, but this potassium-packed shoot’em up still manages to create a truly appealing experience.

System: Switch
Release date: June 11, 2019
Developer: King Art
Publisher: THQ Nordic


Nintendo has always stood apart in the games industry for its dedication to creating games that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. Brilliant titles like Super Mario Odyssey can spark joy in players regardless of whether they’re five or fifty-five years old. However, there are also developers who adopt a contrasting mentality. Their games aren’t designed for everyone – instead, they’re created for very specific audiences with very specific preferences. Battle Worlds: Kronos is a prime example of this. This turn-based strategy game is designed explicitly for longtime fans of its genre, featuring hardcore difficulty and massive scale. Its sprawling complexity is sure to please its audience, but it doesn’t do much to appeal to anybody outside this demographic.

System: Switch
Release date: May 21, 2019
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: SEGA


By its very nature, a Sonic racing game is a strange prospect. If Sonic can run around at the speed of sound, why would he even need to use a racecar to go fast in the first place? However, this discrepancy hasn’t stopped SEGA from pumping out Sonic-themed racing games over the years, from Sonic R all the way back on the ill-fated Sega Saturn to 2012’s acclaimed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Team Sonic Racing is the series’ latest motorsports effort, and while it certainly won’t challenge Mario Kart’s status as the supreme kart racer on the market, it still provides plenty of racing thrills for everyone to enjoy, as well as some special nods for longtime fans.

System: Switch
Release date: May 28, 2019
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America


Games are often praised for the depth and variety of their content. Nintendo fans will surely remember how Breath of the Wild was widely praised for shaking up the Zelda series by providing incredible amounts of different things to do and experience. But not every game has to provide such diversity; some can thrive by doing a single thing and doing it well. Lapis x Labyrinth, the latest anime action RPG from Nippon Ichi Software, aims to be an example of the strength of streamlined game design with its single-minded emphasis on loot grinding combat and character-stacking party formations. Unfortunately, while there is a solid core gameplay loop to be found here, it’s let down by the game’s incredibly repetitive structure and boring level design, leading to an experience that frequently feels more frustrating than focused.

System: Switch
Release date: April 30, 2019
Developer: Square Enix / Virtuos
Publisher: Square Enix


If you’ve ever watched the Star Wars prequel trilogy and thought “Man, this would be so much better if it were a Japanese role playing game,” then Final Fantasy XII is the game for you. With its fusion of medieval and sci-fi ideas in its setting and its heavy political overtones, it easily draws plenty of comparisons to George Lucas’s iconic space operas – it even comes complete with an evil Senate-led Empire and a plucky young orphan destined to take it down. Also like the prequel trilogy, Final Fantasy XII has been a point of contention for its series’ fans ever since its first release on the PS2 in 2006. Its unconventional real-time combat was a far cry from the classic turn-based battles that had defined the franchise up to that point, and the entire core structure of its politically charged storytelling and combat management felt like a dramatic change from traditional Final Fantasy experiences.