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Part of what makes Love Conquers All Games’ Get in the Car, Loser! great is that it’s packed with original ideas and unique combinations from other RPGs. While it isn’t completely unheard of to build an RPG around a road trip, no one has leaned into the concept quite as hard as this game. The four stars of the game have stolen the Sword of Fate and embarked on the highway on a quest to seal away the Machine Devil. Most of the game is appropriately spent in a car with the characters bantering back and forth like any group of friends would although this group has a more ominous destination than a typical summer getaway. The road trip also gets incorporated into world traversal as players navigate between three different lanes. Road signs highlight the upcoming encounters, giving players the choice whether to take on some tough baddies or pop out at the next gas station for refueling and rest.
The battle system takes inspiration from several RPGs but combines those elements in some fascinating ways. Each party member is mapped to a button on the controller and each action has a cool-down timer so characters aren’t constantly attacking the enemy, but players can also shift between three different action sets. Enemies can be staggered which slows their attacks and makes them more vulnerable to damage. It takes a while to acclimate to, but it makes for an engaging battle system. Oh, and of course perhaps the most original thing of all about the game is its price: free (with paid DLC available for those who want to offer financial support)!
NEO: The World Ends With You is a game in a tough position as a follow-up to a beloved and highly original game that fans have been waiting a long time for. That challenge is made tougher as its target platforms meant one of its predecessor’s main elements — touch-based combat — is not an option, requiring a complete rethink of its gameplay. Thankfully, NEO: The World Ends with You meets the challenge with an action battle system where players essentially control the whole party at the same time, using different buttons mapped to each party member’s attacks. In addition, exploring the city, the overall style, and tone of the game have been updated from the original to match the times. The result is a game with a bold style that evokes the original, but doesn’t feel outdated in the slightest. Although a sequel, NEO: The World Ends With You has its own wonderful style.
Roughly once a decade, CyberConnect2 manages to squeeze a game from its Little Tail Bronx series in between its work with other publishers. In 2021, it delivered Fuga: Melodies of Steel, which offers an interesting mechanic that will tax your emotions. Players help guide a giant tank manned by twelve different characters in a war-torn WWII-esque landscape. The unique aspect of this tank is the way it uses a story element in combat. When the tank is in critical condition, a weapon called the Soul Cannon becomes available. However, the decision to use it cannot be taken lightly, as though it can instantly win any fight, it comes at a big cost: one of the characters’ lives. The question then becomes whether players are willing to deem it a necessary sacrifice on the tougher fights, which get brutally hard later in the narrative. Making the decision tougher is a friendship system that encourages players raise the bonds between the twelve characters for better combat perks. The result is a game that will test what players are willing to do in order to win a war. Are you willing to sacrifice your friend to win that tough boss fight? This is all neglecting to mention that all twelve of these characters are the cutest little anthropomorphic dog and cat children to ever grace a game screen. Have fun questioning your morality!
by Joshua Carpenter, Mike Apps, and Kelley Ryan