In only a few days, Christmas will be upon us! Whether you are someone who lives in a more temperate climate where you find yourself wanting to crowd around the television with the air-conditioning set to max or a colder climate where going outdoors for long periods of time isn’t practical or even possible – the idea of ending the year with some gaming is appealing. While there is no shortage of advertising around the latest and hottest games on the market from major publishers, I would like to take the time and showcase a handful of lesser known video game series, alternate options for those who enjoy niche – or otherwise at least less mainstream – gaming options.
1Princess Maker Series
GAINAX’s Princess Maker series has a rather unusual history in the English speaking market. Many players were introduced to it via a leaked copy of a failed translation project by SoftEgg many years back. Fortunately, if you fast-forward two decades later, publisher CFK began rolling out English-localised ‘Refine’ editions for four out of the five mainline games. While its concept may not appeal to everyone, there is a lot to love about Princess Maker for those who enjoy simulation games.
Each game is based on the same premise. For one reason or another, you find yourself adopting a young girl into your care, who has unlimited potential for the future. Whether in modern-day Japan or a fantasy-world, you craft her schedule per-week or per-month, make decisions on her actions and ultimately help prepare her path towards becoming an adult. Depending on your choices, she could end up in a relationship with someone, a demonic entity or a highly successful society member.
In terms of options, you can choose to purchase Princess Maker 1, Princess Maker 2, Princess Maker ~Faery Tales Come True~ (3) or Princess Maker 5. As the number incrementally increase, you get a more refined experience in terms of gameplay and visuals, but all games have their distinct charm.
Developed by GAINAX, the Princess Maker is now available on the PC via Steam. A small selection of games in the series can also be purchased via the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo Switch.
2Kandagawa Jet Girls
Games involving Jet Ski races are not particularly common nowadays. Still, I remember spending dozens of hours playing Wave Race 64 on the Nintendo 64 back in my youth, and the idea of getting to experience another similar game was exciting. Developed by Honey∞Parade Games and published internationally by XSEED Games (US) and Marvelous Europe (PAL) earlier this year, Kandagawa Jet Girls adapts the 2019 TV anime into a racing experience.
It is neither a revolutionary game or a traditional racing experience some might be looking for. But, it leaves a positive impression with an adequate, fanservice-laden narrative, easy to approach gameplay mechanics seeing players take on the role of two characters jet racing together, and a good amount of character customisation.
Plus, I do like that they didn’t try to go with a traditional racing game given the functionality and lore of the sport involves two players on a jet at once. As others have someone appropriately referred to it as… this could be considered the Mario Kart: Double Dash of wave racing.
Kandagawa Jet Girls is available digitally on the Windows PC (via Steam) and the PlayStation 4.
3Puyo Puyo Tetris 2
While puzzle games might not be the most graphically intensive or innovative games on the market, they can be a great way of passing the time… whether fifteen minutes or three hours. From SEGA comes Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Merging the gameplay style of Japan’s puzzle series Puyo Puyo and the iconic Tetris mechanics, players can tackle a variety of challenges using either one of the two styles or a fusion of both to deliver quite the memorable experience. In terms of core gameplay there aren’t many surprises, but they do throw in a wide range of single-player and multiplayer-modes, including a fully-fledged story mode, an online battle mode and challenge modes to test your skills. Plus there is a lot of adorable anime-style art, featuring a wide range of characters with their own unique skills.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is easy to approach, offers a good range of challenge, and compared against other games on new-generation hardware, is much more affordable than most. A perfect time-killer if you are a fan of the puzzle genre!
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is now available digitally on the Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store and Nintendo eShop – as well as physically on all platforms.