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Reviews

System: Switch
Release date: April 24, 2020
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix


What started off as a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Adventure in 1991 would spawn a beloved yet niche series in Square Enix’s catalogue known as Mana. Nearly thirty years later, Trials of Mana gets the remake treatment, bringing its 1995 origins to the modern day with a stunning makeover and creative outlook that doesn’t just aim to recreate, but freshen and polish the game with a new outlook more suited for the JRPGs of today. The game certainly has elements of “a time that once was” with a sort of clichéd story and standard fantasy flare that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but that Mana charm still exudes through its gameplay.

System: Switch
Release date: April 30, 2020
Developer: Dotemu / Lizardcube / Guard Crush Games
Publisher: Dotemu


It’s been almost thirty years since the last original entry in the Streets of Rage franchise, but Streets of Rage 4 comes back larger than life with a fresh coat of paint alongside that addictive and incredibly satisfying beat-em-up gameplay that made it such a big hit for SEGA back in the 1990s, rivaling the likes of Double Dragon and Final Fight. Streets of Rage has been a household name still to this day despite the lack of a new entry thanks to myriad ports and being included in a wide array of collections, but finally having a new entry – and it having been done in the way it is – is such a great way to bring a beloved franchise to the modern day in a big bold way. With intuitive controls, gorgeous detailed stages, a soundtrack that mixes an 80’s electronic vibe with retro feels, a breathtaking art style, and fluid fun combat, Streets of Rage 4 says hello to 2020 in the best way possible, giving fans old and new alike plenty to enjoy in a package that doesn’t feel bloated or shallow but always wants you craving more.

System: Switch
Release date: April 7, 2020
Developer: Granzella
Publisher: NIS America


Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, the franchise’s first entry in the west in over a decade, puts players right down into a city that’s been struck by a 7.0+ magnitude earthquake that brings catastrophic damage over the area, injuring and trapping many people. Now with nowhere to go and everyone in hysterics, environmental awareness is key as you make your way to safety avoiding any other disasters that may come your way. Disaster Report 4 does well to set the tone and give players freedom of choice when it comes to helping others and doing what it takes to survive, but for everything it does well on the surface, it’s the performance that gets hit hardest, causing the Switch version to be a disaster of its own.

System: Switch
Release date: March 17, 2020
Developer: Nigoro / Playism
Publisher: NIS America


It seems like every other game released lately is a retro throwback to the golden gaming days of the past, just with all the rough edges smoothed out. La-Mulana 1 and 2 are a bit different. This infamous pair of puzzle games is designed in the vein of classic PC adventure and puzzle games on the MSX – rough edges included. Whereas most throwbacks tend to tone down the retro difficulty of their inspirations, La Mulana thrives on it. Make no mistake: La-Mulana 1 and 2 are perhaps two of the most challenging puzzle games ever created. While this will likely prove overwhelming for many players, those who long for the incredible payoff that come with overcoming the absurd challenges of La-Mulana’s puzzles will be more than satisfied.

System: Switch
Release date: March 10, 2020
Developer: Chara-ani
Publisher: NIS America


Langrisser has always been a name familiar with the cultured strategy RPG player, but not one that may be globally known despite what it did for the genre way back in the 90s. When Langrisser debuted in 1991 as ‘Warsong’, it quickly became a juggernaut that gave the likes of Tactics Ogre and Fire Emblem serious competition, but with a lack of official localizations, it became an afterthought to those that didn’t seek out the series further. After the franchise was dormant for nearly two decades – and having not received a release outside of Japan longer than that – Langrisser I & II sees the series officially make its return after the ill-received Re:Incarnation -TENSEI- in 2015. The complete package of Langrisser I & II is an absolute treat with a fresh makeover that both honors and respects the game’s origins and tactile gameplay, providing fans and newcomers alike a reason to get familiar with Langrisser and why it should be on everyone’s radar.

System: Switch
Release date: February 25, 2020
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK


Two samurai silently face one another in a desolate field in feudal Japan. After a few seconds of tension, one of them suddenly draws his katana and strikes – yet his opponent blocks the attack just in time. As one samurai recoils, the other counters with a quick jab followed by a massive slash, slicing their enemy in half and concluding the battle in just a few strikes. This encounter is typical of Samurai Shodown, a gorgeous and gruesome fighting game set in feudal Japan that focuses heavily on strategy, timing, and making the most of every attack. After reviving its once-great fighting series on other platforms last year, SNK has finally brought this reboot of Samurai Shodown to Switch. So the question remains: can Samurai Shodown truly show up on Nintendo’s console?

System: Switch
Release date: February 25, 2020
Developer: Marvelous
Publisher: XSEED Games


It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Rune Factory made its debut as a more action RPG-focused spin-off of Harvest Moon, but the series has been dormant for quite some time. While we wait for Rune Factory 5, Rune Factory 4 Special brings the beloved franchise to Switch to ease people in. It’s every bit of great as you remember it to be on the 3DS, and in fact, outside of having one less screen available, it essentially carries with it the same content and style from 2012. This keeps things nostalgic and familiar, but also shows off its age.

System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: February 20, 2020
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom


You wouldn’t be blamed for being dissatisfied with much of Capcom’s output on Switch. Many of the company’s releases are mere ports of older games that often offer little to no improvements upon their previous editions, all while being overpriced compared to other platforms. The recent ports of the first two Devil May Cry games are solid examples of that. With the third DMC port on Switch, however, Capcom has taken a different approach. This new release of Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition is more than a simple port. Rather, it features a few simple additions that completely shake up the way the game is played. For series veterans and newcomers alike, the Switch version of DMC 3 is perhaps one of the best ways to experience this action game classic.

System: Switch
Release date: December 10, 2019
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Techland


When it comes to first-person shooters, it’s fair to say that the market has taken a very distinct direction over the last decade or so. Multiplayer, map packs, and monetization are frequently touted as the core ingredients of a fun and successful modern shooter, but if you cast your mind back to the days before Call of Duty ruled the roost, you’ll quickly find that games of the genre weren’t always marketplaces or live services – they were once self contained experiences with creative flair and value. My time with Call of Juarez: Gunslinger has served as a realization that thankfully, this can still be the case today.

System: Switch
Release date: December 6, 2019
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft


Back in May, Ubisoft pulled a rather curious move by releasing Assassin’s Creed III – and its counterpart, Liberation – for the Switch. The port was widely criticized for being poorly optimized and somewhat irrelevant, especially considering the leaps and bounds that the franchise had made in scope and polish since the game’s original release. Many reviewers (myself included) longed to see the series’ fourth entry, Black Flag, released for the Switch instead – albeit without the low frame rate and ropey audio present in Assassin’s Creed III. Fast forward to today, and Ubisoft has only gone and done, well, exactly that.