3DS

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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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Tomodachi Life is a weird game to describe. Think of it as a mix of TamagotchiThe Sims and Animal Crossing. As the island’s proprietor, you create Miis, move them into an apartment complex and ultimately become their problem-solver. They live their daily lives, meeting fellow residents on the island that you make at your discretion, become friends, fall in love, get married and, if you’re lucky, have kids as well. READ MORE

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With the release of The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave, developer Genius Sonority hit upon a formula that was both compelling and a showcase of the 3DS’ particular strengths and quirks. Since then, the focus has been on augmenting and fleshing out that experience, building upon what was largely a proof-of-concept title and giving you more reasons to stay in the world and let yourself get lost in it. The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll seems like the culmination of these efforts, a game so full of bells and whistles that we’re not sure there’s room for any more. READ MORE

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In the past, the Mario Golf series has been defined by two separate, equally-viable tracks: the console one, focusing on party play and maintaining a low barrier to entry, and the handheld one, crafting a more personal experience with progression and customization. We live in a different world than we did when the series last appeared on the Game Boy Advance and GameCube, though, and now a handheld game has the potential to be both of these things at once.
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The JRPG is going through an oddly fruitful point in its life right now. On one hand, it is undeniable that the genre lacks the cachet that it had during the 32-bit era, and it is doubtful it will ever reclaim that. However, publishers like Atlus, Nippon Ichi and XSEED  long regarded as some of the biggest risk-takers in publishing have taken it upon themselves to ensure that many of the more offbeat titles in the genre actually make it outside of Japan. That has never happened on this scale before, and it is the only way that a game like Conception II would have ever seen the light of day in English-speaking territories. READ MORE

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At the risk of repeating myself, if you’re a fan of the Professor Layton franchise, you don’t really need to be reading this review. You know what you’re going to find here, and you probably don’t need my recommendation to pick up the sixth and final(?) chapter in the Professor’s puzzling adventures.

If you’re choosing now, of all times, to just get into the series? You might just be picking up the best iteration yet at the worst possible time. READ MORE

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The pace of the Yoshi’s Island franchise has always served as its trademark: its timer-free approach makes it a contemplative, measured sort of game… until you get hit or reach a special section, at which point it becomes one of the most stressful games you’ve ever played. It embraces the idea of being a good caretaker for baby Mario, and encourages players to focus on completing levels by whatever pace-slowing means necessary. The new release, Yoshi’s New Island, magnifies these elements: it’s all about taking the time to think before you flutter-jump. READ MORE

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The world of the Japanese RPG is home to tons of tropes and elements ripe for parody, and putting a game in this setting without playing the role of the traditional hero is a space that’s been increasingly explored. The Atelier series has been joined by Recettear and Hometown Story in running in-game item shops, but Weapon Shop de Omasse is the first to build a game on the experience of being the trusty blacksmith. The result is something that feels totally different from RPGs themselves, but still hinges its appeal on long-time fandom of the genre. READ MORE

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Level-5′s Inazuma Eleven series has enjoyed a long, fruitful life in Japan, and in recent years has also gained a foothold in Europe. This 3DS eShop release marks the first American appearance of the series, possibly because of the relative popularity of soccer in the region. Its appeal isn’t limited to footy fans, though: Inazuma Eleven may have a sports theme, but it’s really a deep, involved party-building RPG with an innovative battle system. READ MORE

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Bravely Default is often a contradiction. Obscure though its terminology may be, the game’s title indicates a bold step backward, and the gameplay itself follows just that philosophy. That said, the moments when it bucks tradition and even crushes it are what define the experience, for better or worse. (Usually better.) READ MORE