Jeff deSolla

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It’s always been a bit crazy how Japan has managed to remain so different when it comes to video games. Senran Kagura is probably one of the biggest examples of this: a game based on Japanese myth, mixed with more modern themes, but not one that simply takes game mechanics from something already popular. While Shinovi Versus continues where Burst left off, the series really doesn’t feel like any game before it. Shinovi Versus builds on the earlier games, but adds quite a bit to it thanks in part to the increased power and control available on Vita. READ MORE

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When I first heard the concept behind Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord, I was skeptical. I was expecting yet another game in which a male main character goes through a reference-filled plot that only exists to tie battles together, with a bunch of women swooning over him the whole way. Given the series’ roots in mature visual novels, I figured that was only natural, but I am happy to have my assumptions proven wrong.

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As with the previous game, Forza Horizon 2 takes the driving from Forza Motorsport and brings it to a more open, laid-back setting. The sequel leaves the original’s Colorado-based setting in favor of the surroundings of southern France, but the Horizon Festival remains, bringing with it the race events and championships for which it’s known. New locale aside, Horizon 2 once again centers around its open-world driving, both separating it from the Motorsport series and appealing to fans of games like Burnout Paradise. READ MORE

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Vertical shooters these days are largely something we see as part of the past, or as super-difficult PC games from Japan. Velocity 2X is neither of those things. The original Velocity was a typical vertical shooter that started as a PlayStation Mini, designed for the PSP, though it eventually received a PS Vita and PSP port called Velocity Ultra. In addition to taking the series to the television, Velocity 2X adds varied level types and increased accessibility. READ MORE

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At this point, getting a handheld Disgaea remake is nothing new. The first game was ported to both PSP and DS, and the second made it to PSP. Then Disgaea 3 was released on Vita two years ago, and here we are with the fourth game receiving the same treatment (and uniting the core series on one device). So how does it compare to both its ported peers and the PS3 original? READ MORE

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The Oddworld series has returned to its roots with New ‘n’ Tasty. Original 1997 classic Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee has been fully remade for new platforms, and returns to Abe’s original adventure as he frees his fellow workers. Abe is a janitor at RuptureFarms, a meat processing plant that is responsible for driving the creatures providing the meat for its products into extinction. Having run out of animals to harvest, the company’s newest scheme is to turn Abe’s species into its next product. Abe overhears those plans, and realizes he must escape from RuptureFarms as the game begins. READ MORE

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Influences from the NES era are nothing new. This has been an ongoing trend in indie games, often to draw on the nostalgia factor and also cut the costs of developing in HD. Some might even say the trend is getting a bit overdone, and I might have agreed with them until now. Shovel Knight has proven that combining old art styles and mechanics, and mashing together old genres, can still be done well. READ MORE

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Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection puts the characters of Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise into the roles of pop idols, competing for “shares” of the popularity in the world of Gamindustri. This spinoff places the series into the long-running Japanese genre of idol-raising simulators, in which players guide the lives and careers of pop stars on their way to success. It also manages to be the first such game to see Western release, meaning it stands without the context and general appreciation of its general concepts. READ MORE

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As the first release using the new Unreal Engine 4, Daylight is an anomaly, in that it’s a horror game and not the usual first-person shooter. You are trapped in an abandoned hospital that is infested with ghosts called Shadows. You must find a way out with the help of another character, who you only communicate with over audio channels. The world is procedurally generated, which means that no two playthroughs follow the same layout. As a result, this limits how much narration the player can receive, to avoid having it repeat too much. The narration is ominous and fits the feel of the game, even when it is largely working as a tutorial. READ MORE

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Blizzard has always been able to create great expansion packs, going all the way back to the days when added content for a game was released on discs in stores. Reaper of Souls is no different. Blizzard has done a lot to turn around the flaws of the original, bringing back a lot of the gameplay that made Diablo II and its expansion so well-loved. READ MORE