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Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 preview

2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed was a huge surprise for fans of arcade racers and the die-cast toys alike; I had a great time with it when I reviewed it, even if I felt the game could have benefitted from tweaked vehicle handling and more variety overall. Now, two years later, developer Milestone is gearing up for the release of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged on October 19, and I had an opportunity to check out an early build of the game at Summer Game Fest. While some of my critiques of the first game – like environmental variety – look like they may not be resolved at launch, I enjoyed some of the new mechanics and modes the team is adding this time around.

Fae Farm preview

It’s becoming more difficult for games in the increasingly crowded farming/life-sim genre to stand out from the pack. Fae Farm – the next release from Phoenix Labs, who previously released Dauntless – is trying to carve its own niche by embracing a magical setting and promising exciting features like drop-in-drop-out online multiplayer and combat-focused dungeons. The game has had some prominent marketing, but it would be unfair not to mention that several thematically-similar indies have also been announced recently, including Garden Witch Life, WItchbrook, and Fields of Mistria. After getting hands on with Fae Farm, though, I was surprised at just how massive this game’s scope appears to be – it seems poised to be one of the densest, most mechanically rich attempts at this type of game that we’ve seen in a while.

Disney Illusion Island preview

Disney Illusion Island feels like the type of game that Disney hasn’t made in ages. It’s not only the first original Mickey Mouse platformer that we’ve seen in about a decade, but it’s combining some of the best gameplay elements of many of its inspirations with gorgeous character animation, and a rhythm that’s especially tuned for local multiplayer. While perhaps not seeking to innovate the genre, Disney Illusion Island feels like it’s built with incredible care and respect for its IP; while I’m sure fans of Mickey and friends will appreciate this game the most, there’s a lot to love here for fans of platformers in general, and I think its exploration and puzzle elements will resonate with many.

My demo with Thirsty Suitors had me battling an ex-boyfriend by slinging insults, racking up combos at an abandoned skatepark, and cooking food to win my parents’ approval. Credit where credit is due: I don’t think any other game has tried to do those three specific things at once! It feels like exactly the type of game you’d expect to see Annapurna publishing these days – a little surreal, very experimental, and handcrafted to surprise you at almost every turn. While I’m a little unsure about how Thirsty Suitors will manage to tie all its ideas together into a cohesive package, I’ve enjoyed the rollercoaster ride that I’ve experienced so far.

Mortal Kombat 1 is perhaps the most jaw-dropping fighting game I’ve ever had the privilege of playing. And not just in a figurative sense, because there’s literally an X-Ray attack in which Sub-Zero skewers his opponent’s brain through their mouth with a shard of ice, rendered in a shocking amount of detail. Between the new Kameo mechanic, an increased focus on aerial play, and some of the most stunning visuals I’ve ever seen in a fighting game, this is a game that feels next-gen from edge to edge. That’s a polite way of saying: I have no idea how they are going to get this running on Switch.

Oxenfree II preview Summer Game Fest

It’s easy to forget, looking back, just how innovative Oxenfree felt when it launched in 2016. Plenty of games up to that point had experimented with branching narratives and dialogue, but few had managed to weave conversations together in such an organic, convincing way. What started as a slow-burn teen drama quickly evolved into a tense supernatural thriller, and the choices the player makes for protagonist Alex could have a dramatic impact on the ending of the game. After getting hands-on with Oxenfree II: Lost Signals at Summer Game Fest, I’m confident that Night School Studio knows exactly what the fans are looking for from this sequel, and I can’t wait to play more of it.

Sonic Superstars preview

It feels like there’s a lot riding on Sonic Superstars. While it’s (only?) been six years since the highly acclaimed Sonic Mania brought the franchise back to its roots, that game was developed by a team of indie developers; it’s been far longer since Sonic Team itself has attempted to bring the blue blur back to the side-scrolling realm [update: Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka is involved, but has since confirmed Arzest is leading development]. After recently playing a demo of Sonic Superstars at Summer Game Fest Play Days, I’m optimistic the game will manage to recapture a lot of what people love about old-school Sonic, while leaving the door open for some exciting new mechanics to shine.

DC's Justice League Cosmic Chaos preview

Outright Games has a long history of creating games suitable for all ages that all derive from a beloved property. From Paw Patrol to Transformers, Fast & Furious to Zoids, and Trollhunters to the Dragons franchise of films, chances are the company’s name has worked with and been attached to a popular IP that even you, the reader, are a fan of. As a huge fan of superheroes and DC myself, it was an absolute privilege for Nintendo Everything to be invited to an early look at a new DC-focused game to add to the OG catalog – following up from DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace last summer – in the form of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe preview

Nintendo recently held a short media preview demo for Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe ahead of its upcoming release on Switch. The original Wii game is an all-time Kirby classic, so having it on the hybrid platform at all is compelling. Set to release on February 24, 2023, the title is soon to hit store shelves without us knowing a ton about what’s new.

In this video preview, Sam and I have an in-depth discussion about some of the game’s new features, visuals, and gameplay. We’ve included further bulleted highlights below.

Fae Farm preview

Phoenix Labs recently hosted a preview event for their upcoming Switch-exclusive Fae Farm. As only the second game from the developer, it takes a drastically different approach than the team’s first hack-and-slash monster slayer Dauntless. Coming from frantic combat and vicious creatures, Phoenix Labs instead chose a more relaxing and winding experience. Aiming for “cozy,” the mark has been hit fairly well, as upon joining the event I saw the players simply wandering their farm and watching butterflies meander along the fields.

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