Remember the PSP? There’s a new game out for Sony’s spunky little system that wilted in the shadow of Nintendo’s DS. Compatible with the PlayStation Vita, Brandish: The Dark Revenant brings its Deadly Towers-Dragon Quest-like stylings to the forgotten handheld, managing to become one of the best games released on that system.
Speaking of best-evers, the fondly remembered Resident Evil has clawed its way out of the ground like any respectable spawn of the undead should, powering its way onto current-gen consoles in its most attractive and smoothly-playing edition yet. Sticking with the throwback theme, the Xbox One-exclusive sports game #IDARB brings back memories of Double Dribble and Super Soccer.
Brandish: The Dark Revenant
(PSP, $20, Teen)
RPGs don’t come more basic or pure than Brandish: The Dark Revenant. Bizarrely made for the PSP, which hasn’t had a new game on the mainstream market for years, the swords-and-chain-mail dungeon crawler has you seeking out treasure by moving one space at a time along a grid-like layout, collecting weapons and items and upgrading your attributes as you grind along. After just a few minutes you’ll be able to tell whether the intentionally creaky design charms or repels you. Expect plenty of grinding, frustrating encounters with overpowered enemies and obtuse maps that will make you tear your hair out along the way to escape.
If you find yourself in the former camp, you’ll find your dedication and intensity well rewarded. The game is steeped in adoring references to the best of its predecessors, and its clunky movement and inventory system become an acquired taste. There’s a highly-recommended tutorial mode that helps familiarize you with the grating madness that you’re in for, and it does a solid job of hooking you into the main game. Stubborn and unforgiving, Brandish makes you sweat for every inch of progress, which makes it all the more lovable.
Resident Evil HD Remaster
(Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, $20, Mature)
Capcom has remade its pioneering 1996 survival horror escapade countless times since 1996, so it figures that all that practice is getting the publisher and its developers pretty adept at tweaking, optimizing and building upon the foundation. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the latest remake is the hands-down best version of the game to date. Smoothed out controls, stunning visuals and numerous gameplay tweaks make this not only the best version of Resident Evil, but arguably the best in the entire series.
The tight, restrictive mansion-set locale puts the emphasis on steady exploration and close-quarters combat and evasion. The game still has the ability to shock you and fill you with dread, even if you’ve played through it countless times. The puzzles and save system remain charmingly antiquated, but are more fun to tackle than ever thanks to the removal of choppy animations and tank-style controls. If you miss some of those maddening aspects of the original game, you can revert back to them in the main menu. Old-school classics rarely stand up to your memories of them, but Capcom has seen to it that Resident Evil has improved with age.
(Xbox One, $10, Everyone)
Oozing with 1980s-style charm, the annoyingly titled #IDARB takes its hashtag and runs, making for a sports/platforming hybrid that plays like a made-up-on-the-fly sport you played at third grade recess. The mixture of basketball and hockey makes for addictive multiplayer. The adorable 8-bit visuals make it seem as though you are playing some sort of newly-rediscovered classic from the past — something you and your brother used to punch each other in the arm over.
Customization is king. You can draw your own players, use your oddball creations to form distinctive teams, and even compose your own fight songs. Offline and online multiplayer are there to let you compare your skills with all comers. As fun as the game may be, there is no reason to spend good money on it. As long as you are an Xbox Live Gold member, you’ll be able to download it for free next month. Since a Gold membership is replied to play online anyway, those who pay full price won’t get much out of the madness #IDARB provides.