Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review Round-Up - September 2020

With a brand-new epilogue and fresh improvements to the old game, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition definitely deserves its title as the "Definitive Edition" and SPC's Game of the Month.

SuperPhillip Central was quite busy this past September, bringing to the month (and to you, the reader) seven new reviews total. It's time for the Review Round-Up!

We began things with a return to the miasma-covered world of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles with the new and slightly improved Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition, securing a B- grade. Following the slow pace of dungeon crawling, we then kicked things into high gear with Hotshot Racing from Sumo Digital, drifting its way to a B.

One of the better games of this already amazing month of titles was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, nailing the landing of a remarkable remake and earning an A- for its trouble. What came after was one of the two beat-em-ups reviewed this past month with Horberg Productions' Super Punch Patrol, which punched and pummeled its way to a B- grade. 

Despite Tony Hawk's game delivering a robust return to skateboarding form well, it couldn't outshine our Game of the Month, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, a revamped and revised take on a classic Wii RPG. The return to the Bionis and Mechonis alike was a terrific adventure, getting an excellent A grade. 

The month continued with a second look at the both adorable and enjoyable 3D platformer New Super Lucky's Tale, but this time on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game got a B grade, an improvement over the Nintendo Switch original. Finally, we rounded out the month (and roundhouse-kicked the month, as it were) with the impressive retro revival of the Streets of Rage series with Streets of Rage 4, obtaining both high praise and a B grade for kicking so much butt so well. 

Before we completely close the Review Round-Up for September 2020, here are some excerpts from all seven reviews with convenient links to said reviews. Last but certainly not least, check out the SPC Review Archive for every review ever published on SuperPhillip Central. 

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition (NSW, PS4) - B-

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition is a better version of the 2004 GameCube original, though that didn't take TOO terribly much to accomplish. Multiplayer, while immensely imperfect (and perhaps that's putting it a bit nicely), is much easier to organize and find a party of four players to enjoy the game with. Even in solo play, there's a fine level of fun to be found. For action RPG veterans, the combat on display in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles will most likely be a bit too basic and boring, and for those new to the game, the structure might be too confusing to understand without some outside help. Still, for fans of the GameCube's only Final Fantasy game, there's a lot to like about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition. Just don't expect it to totally live up to your decade-old nostalgia.

Hotshot Racing (NSW) - B

Delivering thrills, chills, and arcade racing entertainment of yore (complete with some unwanted old school sensibilities like rubber-banding), Hotshot Racing succeeds at bringing a stellar arcade racing experience to the Nintendo Switch (and I assume other platforms, too, when it releases on those). The driving and drifting mechanics are structurally sound and more importantly, they feel wonderful when playing. Hotshot Racing crosses the finish line with a gorgeous low-poly art style and enough under the hood gameplay-wise to back it all up.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) - A-

Like Activision's past reworks like the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a marvelous remake that, like Tony Hawk with his infamous 900, nails the landing. Unlike the Birdman himself, however, it's not a perfect landing, as lengthy load times between levels and some odd physics in relation to some level geometry can and do occasionally annoy. Nevertheless, if you want a game that retains the feel of the classic THPS games that you know and love, or you want to experience what the hubbub regarding the Pro Skater series is all about and don't know where to start, then Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is an outstanding remake and the game for you.

Super Punch Patrol (NSW) - B-

As a pure beat-em-up, Super Punch Patrol does not pull any punches. It doesn't necessarily add anything to the genre, but for a genre so beloved as the beat-em-up, what is necessary to even add? Plus, it doesn't even matter when the gameplay and presentation have both been implemented so well. Beyond the one bug we encountered like a one-time scripting bug in two-player where the screen would not scroll after all of the enemies were eliminated, forcing my brother and I to wait out the clock to our dooms, Super Punch Patrol is terrific in its execution. And for five bucks, you'll get at least an hour per dollar here. 

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (NSW) - A

The "Definitive" part of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition isn't just there to make for a fancier game title. It's there because it's absolutely true. This is the best version you can play of Xenoblade Chronicles, one of the absolute greatest JRPGs on not just a Nintendo console, but any platform. The epic 70+ hour journey will delight, surprise and mystify you with its excellence, the exploration and sense of discovery will constantly reward you, the battle system will engage you from beginning to end, and the new QoL features will make you wonder how you ever enjoyed the Wii original. Even the epilogue in Future Connected delivers on more terrific goodness if the base game isn't enough for you. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition makes a great game from the Wii an even better game now on the Nintendo Switch.

New Super Lucky's Tale (PS4, XB1, PC) - B

New Super Lucky's Tale isn't the type of platformer that starts out with a breezy level of challenge and then gets ultra grueling by its end. Instead, the difficulty curve with regards to pure platforming is more of a modest one than something you'd need mountain climbing equipment to scale. That said, what is present for the brief adventure is both adorable and enjoyable, offering mostly clever ideas and well executed concepts from start to finish. 

Streets of Rage 4 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) - B

Streets of Rage 4 delivers on its promise of being an enhanced and updated beat-em-up that is drenched with nostalgia but also offers enough newness to be worth the price of admission. The game stands with the best in its series and the best in its genre. The new "risk versus reward" spin of special attacks and the combo system in general encourage experimentation with the game's combat mechanics while also providing great rewards for players who master them. All in all, if you enjoy a well executed beat-em-up, you'll very much enjoy taking it to these streets.

Tony Hawk's return to gaming was a stellar return to form with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.

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