It’s-a me! Yes, the moustachioed, high-jumping plumber is back again in a superb new version of a classic game – plus Batman, Robin Hood and other heroes
By Simon Ward, Content Director
We’re into the season finale of the gaming year. But like Mario after chomping on a power-up, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Although whether Mario ingests the power-ups or absorbs them through his skin is a question for another day.
The reason these questions are on our mind is because everyone’s favourite plumber is back in Super Mario RPG, a lovingly restored version of the 1996 SNES classic. In fact, there’s a bit of a 90s theme this month, with the arrival of the sequel to 1992’s Flashback, wildly regarded as one of the greatest games ever made. Will Flashback 2 make the same impact this time around?
Rocksteady’s Arkham games are certainly regarded as modern classics, and the entire Batman: Arkham Trilogy drops on Switch – quite the technological achievement for a series that has straddled the last two generations of Xbox and PlayStation.
If Switch is gaming’s present (it’s currently the third best-selling games console of all time), then is VR its future? Assassin’s Creed: Nexus VR is the newest title to try to persuade you to don the headset.
Capping off the month is the latest attempt to turn the magnificent world of Pandora into a video game that does justice to the greatest use of CGI in a film to date. Judge for yourself in December whether Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora has succeeded.
Don’t forget, if you want to download any of these games, with a Virgin Media Broadband package for gamers, you’ll be set up to dominate the competition with a fast, stable connection. Find out more here.
Here’s all you need to know about this month’s crop of new releases...
Available on PS5 and XBO from Wednesday 15 November
PC gamers have been loving voxel-based destruction game Teardown for some time. But now it’s finally coming to consoles. You’ll have to plan the perfect heist using creative problem solving, brute force and everything you can lay your hands on. It’s a beautifully realised world with a bricky aesthetic that blends so well against more life-like visuals. It would be too trite to call it “Minecraft for adults”, especially as there’s more smashing into things than building towers and feeding sheep. But we bet at least one review calls it that.
Assassin’s Creed: Nexus VR
Available on Quest 2 and Quest 3 from Wednesday 15 November
The VR market is still looking for that killer title, a truly must-play game that sells the hardware to the mass market. Think Breath Of The Wild for Switch. If they’re looking for a Hidden Blade, might Assassin’s Creed from a first-person perspective be the one that finally breaks through? Featuring all the gameplay the series has become known for, including climbing, parkour and the dazzling Leap of Faith, you’ll sneak, traverse and fight your way through open maps in this all-new story that’s built for VR.
Available on PC, PS4/5, XSX, XBO and Switch from Thursday 16 November
The real crime here is they didn’t call this sequel to the pioneering 1992 sci-fi platform shooter: Flashback: Déjà 2. Joking aside, the original game became legendary, thanks to superb character animations and a rich and engaging story. Now series protagonist Conrad is back 30 years later. Travel through five large levels in different graphic worlds to again take on the Morphs, who threaten all civilisation and want to enslave all life in the solar system. And no, we don’t mean the Tony Hart character made of Plasticine, who would be easier to fight.
Jagged Alliance 3
Available on PS4/5, XSX and XBO from Thursday 16 November
They don’t make ’em like they used to. Except they do. Right now. Yes indeedy, hold on to your bucket hats, gamers of yore, because Jagged Alliance has finally returned – a mere 24 years later! Played from an isometric perspective, this turn-based strategy is everything fans have been waiting for. Create a squad from a roster of 40 characters, each with a detailed backstory, before entering the fray across a series of dynamic campaign maps. It arrived on PC back in July, so we’re delighted it’s finally landing on consoles.
Persona 5 Tactica
Available on PC, XSX and XBO from Friday 17 November
It would take much more than a paragraph to explain what is going on in Persona 5 Tactica, this all-new strategy RPG adventure with the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. It’s a truly wild story of dimension hopping and freedom fighters that will only truly become apparent by watching the above trailer. Assemble a team of heroes to fight oppressive armies in turn-based combat where you’ll try to overthrow your foes with an assortment of weapons to wipe them out with style. The “chibi” art style in this Persona series spin-off is gorgeous.
Super Mario RPG
Available on Switch from Friday 17 November
The year 1996 was notable for many things: “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, the movie Independence Day… and Super Mario RPG. This tactical turn-based adventure game has long been on the Nintendo fans’ wish list of games they’d like to see given the next-gen treatment. But this is more than a graphical spit and polish (although it’s a seriously impressive visual update). It also features gameplay tweaks: you can play as Mario, Mallow, Geno, Bowser and Peach as you face off against the many minions of the weapon-like Smith Gang.
Gothic II Complete Classic
Available on Switch from Wednesday 29 November
Take up the sword of the Nameless Hero once again as the sequel to the hugely successful RPG comes to Nintendo Switch. The prisoners of Mine Valley may have been liberated but now bandits are threatening the city of Khorinis, and the local defence forces are hopelessly outmatched – so it’s up to you to step in. With more than 500 individual characters, 200 weapons and spells and 100 missions, this is a richly realised world that you can spend countless enjoyable hours exploring.
Gangs Of Sherwood
Available on PC, PS5 and XSX from Thursday 30 November
We’ve played plenty of games where collecting treasure, booty, valuable materials and general wealth is part of the mission. Just sometimes, we wonder: is there someone who needs this stuff more than us? Join the Gangs Of Sherwood, where you can play as Little John, Marian, Friar Tuck or Robin Hood himself, using each character’s unique skills to fight the magically enhanced armies of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in a reimagined medieval England. By saving lives and giving your loot to the needy, you improve your own reputation and unlock upgrades. The definition of a win-win.
Available on PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO and Switch from Friday 1 December
This is the latest in a string of popular titles featuring steam-powered robots in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Having fought off invading humans, mined for precious resources and looted spaceships in previous instalments, now the task is to build a town for the Steambots. You’re required to meet all the robots’ needs through infrastructure and careful planning – you won’t like them when they’re cranky! Once your settlement is happy, healthy and running smoothly, you can get to work underground to search for ancient technology that’ll help you escape the dying planet.
Batman: Arkham Trilogy
Available on Switch from Friday 1 December
Hard to believe that a trilogy of some of the most acclaimed games in video game history can squeeze onto the humble Nintendo Switch. But this trio of Rocksteady’s Arkham games – Asylum, City and Knight – come packaged together in this special collection. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get all the post-launch content as well. The last title in the series may have been released back in 2015 (and heck, the first was 2009), but this is still gaming at its God Tier.
Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora
Available on PC, PS5 and XSX from Thursday 7 December
How do you turn a film series that already looks like a stunning video game into a video game? Although the first Avatar film landed back in 2009, it’s a question that hasn’t really been answered. Avatar: The Game arrived the same year as that movie, but despite good sales, it garnered very average reviews, typical of a film tie-in. But this is a different kettle of fish. Firstly, it’s an open-world game. Secondly, it’s made by Ubisoft, the master of open-world games. And thirdly, this generation of consoles might finally be powerful enough to match James Cameron’s sumptuous world. This could be very special indeed.