Garden of Eden
PixelJunk: Eden was a game unlike any other. Developed by Kyoto’s Q-Games and released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3, it was a synergistic combination of sight, sound and relaxing gameplay. Q-Games continues to make some of the most interesting and innovative games in Japan, and the 12 years it’s taken the audio-visual experience to get an enchanting sequel on the Nintendo Switch was worth the wait.
The gameplay in PixelJunk: Eden 2 is similar to its prequel. Players control a small critter known as a “Grimp” as it jumps and swings through an avant-garde garden, collecting pollen and trying to get seeds to sprout. Both Eden games feature the pulsing, synthetic sounds of Kyoto-based creator Baiyon, who is also Q-Games’ creative director. Besides single player, PixelJunk: Eden 2 also offers a local cooperative mode — a perfect way for you and a buddy to chill.
Priced at ¥1,500, PixelJunk: Eden 2 was released on Dec. 10, 2020.
Picking up the pieces
Two of the best puzzle games ever, Tetris and Puyo Puyo, are joining forces to challenge players once again. In Tetris, of course, players manipulate the pieces, called tetrominoes, to clear a row of blocks. In Puyo Puyo, players must group four of the same colored slime-like Puyos to clear the board.
Sega’s first Puyo Puyo Tetris, developed by the team that makes the Sonic games, was originally released in 2014. What made it so interesting was how it mixed and matched the most compelling aspects of both puzzlers.
In Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, there are classic Puyo Puyo and Tetris modes as well as a traditional Versus mode. But that’s not where things get really interesting. In Fusion mode, for example, players use both Puyo Puyo pieces and Tetris tetrominoes, while in Swap Mode players face off in two separate games of Puyo Puyo and Tetris simultaneously, switching between both gamers at set intervals. There is also a new Skill Battle mode, which is a story-driven, role-playing game, complete with anime-style characters trying to figure out why Tetris has come to the world of Puyo Puyo.
Priced at ¥5,489, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 was released on Dec. 10 on the Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Save the Earth
The Earth Defense Force games feature troops with guns, running around shooting giant insects that are threatening the planet. The games are a hoot! But its latest entry, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, is a far more charming take on the long-running series.
Unlike the mainline Earth Defense Force games, which feature realistic graphics, this World Brothers spinoff has cute, pixelated graphics like something out of Minecraft. There are still giant bugs attacking cities and troops with machine guns and jet packs, but shooting the insects causes them to explode into blocks, rather than something gory.
The next main entry in the series, Earth Defense Force 6, won’t be released until late 2021. That game will be a return to realistic graphics, but until then Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is a welcome diversion.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers was released on the Switch and PS4 on Dec. 24. It was priced at ¥8,228 for the physical version and ¥7,480 for download only.
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