A lot has happened in our world since the time PAX East ended back in March. In times of social distancing and quarantine, now more than ever we look for ways to entertain ourselves at home. If you’re like me, you’re here visiting The Koalition because you love video games. It’s a great time to explore new games and expand your library.
Throughout all four days at PAX, I was privileged to demo an assortment of games (including a few private demos), and I’d love to share my experiences with you all with some quick thoughts on each game. Please note that these are not all the games I played, but just the games that I enjoyed most. For full disclosure, I own both an Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, and the Switch is my console of choice. But I was more than happy to play games that weren’t featured on those platforms as well. Without further ado, let’s get right to it!
*In alphabetical order
The Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe
Developed by FreakZone Games
Published by Screenwave Media
Coming to Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
The first two installments of AVGN series are available individually on Steam, but the deluxe bundle is still in development. I was able to demo this and it’s got the absurd charm I’ve come to expect from the popular video game reviewer. It was quite challenging as well, to the point that I dropped more than a few expletives during gameplay.
Beach Buggy Racing 2
Developed and published by Vector Unit
Available now for Steam and mobile, coming late 2020 for Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
A quirky family arcade racer that reminded me of Mario Kart. I got off to a slow start in my race which led to me finishing last in my demo, but it was still a fun experience once I got a handle of the controls. You can play with up to 8 players for split-screen insanity.
Developed by Mechanical Head Studios
Published by Yacht Club Games
Coming this fall to Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
A recurring theme you’ll discover with these reviews is that some of these games invoke fond memories of games past. Ninja Gaiden was a frustrating game that I nevertheless enjoyed, and Cyber Shadow brings much of that spirit to its offering. I really enjoyed the sounds and visuals.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Developed by Mediatonic
Published by Devolver Digital
Coming in 2020 for Steam and PS4
The line to play this game was very long. Take the online element of a game like Tetris 99 and the wackiness of the classic Japanese gameshow Takeshi’s Castle, and you get Fall Guys. My good friend and Koalition colleague Richard Bailey, Jr. had a joint demonstration of this vibrant and highly entertaining party game. So many laughs to be had while playing or even watching.
Granblue Fantasy Versus
Developed by Arc System Works
Published by Xseed Games
Available now for Steam and PS4
During my appointment, the Xseed Games representative I spoke with mentioned that this fighting game was made as a vehicle to increase the popularity of the Granblue Fantasy RPG series in North America. Time will tell if their strategy succeeds, but the game itself looked promising. Then again, I generally love ArcSys’s offerings (see: Dragon Ball FighterZ).
Developed by Ivan Suvorov
Published by Screenwave Media
Coming to Steam
Oh, man. “This is Contra!”, I kept saying with a big stupid smile on my face as I was playing it. Iron Meat is a modern take on the run and gun classic. Pardon the pun but I had a blast playing this. As of this writing, Iron Meat is wish-list only on Steam, and according to the developer’s website, there’s some hope of porting it to consoles as well. I’ll be rooting for this game’s eventual release.
Developed and published by Retrosoft Studios
Coming this July to Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
The nostalgic hits keep coming! Those of us in The Koalition’s WrestleCast team are excited about the development of this particular game. RetroMania Wrestling is the official sequel to Technos’s classic arcade hit WrestleFest. I was able to play as Road Warrior Hawk, one of many familiar faces wrestling fans will find on this game’s ever-expanding roster. I enjoyed this a lot more than THQ’s shoddy mobile remake.
River City Girls
Developed by WayForward
Published by WayForward and Arc System Works
Available now on Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
One of the two WayForward titles I played at their booth. River City Girls was released last year but this was my first time sampling it. I’m familiar with the River City Ransom game from the NES days, and this modern take on it definitely does justice. As you defeat other girls in the game, you can get them to join you as playable characters. It’s a beat ‘em up that’s piqued my interest.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens
Developed and published by WayForward
Available now on Steam, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Apple Arcade
And this is the other WayForward title, and my most anticipated. Ever since the fifth installment of the Shantae series was announced early last year, I eagerly awaited a chance to play the game on Switch. PAX East gave me the first opportunity to do that, and I was delighted to see a return to Pirate’s Curse form while keeping the cleaner look of Half-Genie Hero intact. The demo was for one stage and it left me craving for more. I hope to write more about Seven Sirens once I’ve had a chance to play it in full.
Streets of Rage 4
Developed by Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games
Published by Dotemu
Available now on Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One
The highly anticipated sequel to the classic Streets of Rage series is finally out and is drawing rave reviews, including by our own Adam Vale which you can read here.
My experience playing the demo was brief but exciting. I jumped into the middle of a game that the previous player abandoned, and was joined by another random gamer. This was another one that kept me smiling throughout. I was glad to relive the Sega Genesis days of playing Streets of Rage on a modern system.
Trials of Mana
Developed by Xeen
Published by Square Enix
Available now for Steam, Switch, and PS4
This action RPG is a modernized version of the original game that came out in Japan almost 25 years ago on Nintendo’s Super Famicom. Richard had a private appointment with Square Enix and I joined him so we could play it on different consoles. He played the PS4 version while I played the Switch. The difference between the graphics didn’t bother me, and I rather enjoyed following along the story arcs of my characters. This game is available in both English and Japanese languages, and you can even use the original game’s soundtrack if you prefer it over the new one.
Developed by Andrew Shouldice
Published by Finji
Coming to Xbox One, Windows, and Mac
Possibly the most visually gorgeous game I played all weekend. Tunic definitely draws its inspiration from the Legend of Zelda series. It took me a while to navigate through the different stages, but that’s all part of the challenge. Apparently, the world in the game uses its own unique language (pictured in the gallery at the end of this article), which the demo obviously wasn’t enough to decipher. It’s a cute and ambitious looking game that I hope we’ll all get to play soon.
Developed by 1P2P Studio
Published by The Arcade Crew
Coming to Windows
Another visually pleasing experience. I played it at its booth while standing around for some downtime, and this game really was like a hidden gem. It’s part hack-and-slash, part RPG as you can customize the type of armor, magic, and skills that your character uses to combat enemies. I’m intrigued by it and hope it will be released on consoles eventually, particularly the Nintendo Switch.
Before I close this out, I want to give an honorable mention to a couple of games I didn’t get to play but still enjoyed watching others play:
Developed by Beyond Fun Studio
Publisher Beyond Fun Studio
Coming in June to Steam and Switch
There was a whole group of people playing a soccer match in this Aeolis Tournament game and it looked like a lot of mischievous fun. Definitely a charming looking party game worth another look.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos
Developed by Artefacts Studio
Published by Dear Villagers
Coming this summer to Steam
This was another appointment that I sat in along with Richard. The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk was made popular in France, originally an audio-only series that evolved into books and comics, and this is its first venture into video gaming. The game is a turn-based tactical RPG, which admittingly is not my preference of genre. It took a while to beat the first level but it was time well spent as it was a very entertaining demonstration of the tactics and the character interactions.
Thanks, everyone for reading, and I hope this was helpful in finding new additions to your video game collection. Stay safe and happy gaming!