Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Vampyr (Image: Dontnod Entertainment), Mario Tennis Aces (Image: Nintendo), and Jurassic World Evolution (Image: Frontier Developments). Graphic: Allison Corr.

Mario Tennis, a Jurassic Park builder, and more games to play in June

Vampyr (Image: Dontnod Entertainment), Mario Tennis Aces (Image: Nintendo), and Jurassic World Evolution (Image: Frontier Developments). Graphic: Allison Corr.

With new games of all sizes filling real and digital shelves every week, it can be near impossible for anyone to keep up. So during the first week of every month, we’ll be here to help with a curated selection of new, notable games we think should be on everyone’s radar for the month ahead.

June 5—PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

The marketing for Dontnod Entertainment’s unlikely follow-up to its celebrated Life Is Strange has been so gritty as to get stuck in your (fanged) teeth, focusing on third-person combat, the anguish of undead protagonist Jonathan Reid, and blood, blood, blood. Still, there are hints of something smarter lurking behind Vampyr’s grim, dark posturing—a story about a man trying to hold on to his humanity in the face of hunger, tragedy, and disease. [William Hughes]

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
June 5—PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows

After starting the year with the spectacular Dragon Ball FighterZ, Japanese fighting-game studio Arc System Works is going for seconds with another fast-paced, anime-inspired, tag-team battler. This time, it’s a crossover featuring characters from Arc’s own BlazBlue series colliding with combatants from Persona 4: Arena (another Arc game), Under Night In-Birth (a cult fighter from the creators of Melty Blood), and RWBY, an anime-styled webseries from the folks at Rooster Teeth. [Matt Gerardi]

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn
June 5—PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One

Will A Legend Reborn, a nostalgia-chasing novelty sequel to one of the worst games of the ’90s, be any good? Probably not. But the fact that this exists at all certainly makes it fit the definition of “new” and “notable.” It’s not like it could be any worse than the original, a miserably clunky one-on-one fighting game where the famous baller gets sucked into another dimension and is forced to fight all manner of demons and ethnic stereotypes. This revival moves away from that tricky genre, at least, making Shaq the star of a classically styled beat-’em-up. (It definitely looks like those orientalist clichés made it to 2018 intact, though.) [Matt Gerardi]

Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido
June 8—3DS, Switch

We’ve all played a million puzzle games about matching different colors together, but Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido raises the stakes with a dark and dramatic story about a hero who lives in a world where sushi is illegal and his parents were killed in a sushi war. Now he must solve sushi-matching puzzles to battle assassins and fight for freedom. All right, it does seem very silly, but the game’s anime story trailer revels in how absurd the whole concept is. Plus, thanks to online multiplayer, the game will have some legs beyond its wacky story. [Sam Barsanti]

Jurassic World Evolution
June 12—PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

There has never been a good Jurassic Park video game. In point of fact, some of the worst games ever made bear the name. Jurassic World Evolution looks to change that by focusing not on wild, first-person action but on nitty-gritty bureaucracy. You play an InGen administrator, running multiple islands and dig sites from a high level. It’s being made by the team behind similar corporate-management sims like Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon, promising robust and well-polished systems that you’ll get to watch bend and then break like so many electrified fences. Bonus points for the fact that much of the story is pushed along by Jeff Goldblum himself, reprising his role as Ian Malcolm. All expository dialogue should be so lucky. [Clayton Purdom]

Lego: The Incredibles
June 15—PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One

The Lego superhero games have a well-established formula by now, but they rarely get to work with such bright and colorful characters as Bob and Helen Parr (a.k.a., Pixar’s Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl). This latest installment of lighthearted comic book fun looks to be a mix of the first and upcoming second Incredibles movie, pitting family and friends against villains like Bomb Voyage, the Underminer, and, of course, good (bad) old Syndrome himself. [William Hughes]

Mario Tennis Aces
June 22—Switch

Anyone whose Wii gradually turned into a permanent tennis machine knows that Nintendo does some of its best work in the field of sport. Mario’s tennis games can be lighter fare—the last, 2015’s Ultra Smash for the Wii U, was barely there—but the Switch plays nicely with this, emphasizing immediacy, multiplayer, and even Wii-like motion controls thanks to the system’s Joy-Cons. These games are never less than enjoyable, and internal developer Camelot Software Planning has shown a willingness to experiment with the form in their Mario Golf games. Here’s hoping for a mix of the familiar and the new in Aces. [Clayton Purdom]

The Crew 2
June 29—PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

Ubisoft’s The Crew 2 is a sequel to a racing game that few people remember and even fewer people liked, so how does it prove that it’s worthy of your valuable video game time? By breaking the rules of time and space in the name of fun. A traditional driving game will stick you in a car and that’s it, but The Crew 2 allows you to switch from car to boat to airplane at the touch of a button—no matter what you happen to be doing when you switch. It’s like Grand Theft Auto but with even fewer gestures toward realism. [Sam Barsanti]

Remasters, Remakes, and Rereleases

Lumines Remastered
June 26—PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One

When Nintendo introduced the Game Boy, it trotted Tetris out alongside it to prove just how perfect handheld gaming could be. When Sony debuted on the scene with the PSP, it pulled the same trick with Lumines, a hypnotic, stylish rhythm-driven puzzle game from the creator of Rez. It was the crown jewel of the ill-fated portable’s library for years, eventually escaping onto the Xbox 360 and getting sequels on the PlayStation 3 and Vita. Now, the superlative original is coming to current consoles, including the Switch, where it’s a natural fit. [Matt Gerardi]

Far Cry 3 Classic Edition
June 26—PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Six years and fourish games later (depending on how you look at Primal and Blood Dragon), Far Cry 3 is still a strong contender for the best game in the series that isn’t the brilliantly subversive, dismal Far Cry 2. It ran with the open-world ideas of its radical forebear and flipped its treatise on the spiraling chaos of war into the twisted power trip the series has been iterating on ever since. Now it’s coming to modern consoles and might be worth revisiting. [Matt Gerardi]

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of Dana
June 26—Switch

Ys VIII—the latest, more action-oriented entry in the long-lived, under-appreciated JRPG series—was one of 2017’s sleepiest sleeper hits, praised by critics far and wide (including our buddy Anthony John Agnello) as a speedy, modern take on classic action RPGs. Now that it’s on the Switch, a console that’s perfect for these kinds of lengthy adventures, maybe it’ll find a bigger audience. [Matt Gerardi]

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
June 29—Switch

And speaking of recent games that deserved bigger audiences and are making their way to Switch, last year’s manic, Nazi-stomping romp Wolfenstein II is following in Doom’s footsteps and making its debut on Nintendo’s console. The Switch is nowhere near the most ideal way to play Doom, but it worked just fine, and that in and of itself is a technological feat. Wolfenstein isn’t as relentlessly frantic as its demonic counterpart, which will help it run on the pint-sized console, but more mind-blowing is the idea of seeing this imagery coming out of a Nintendo system. If this were 1988, B.J. Blazkowicz would be disintegrating the Badds and watching Master D piss in a bucket. How far we’ve come. [Matt Gerardi]

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
June 29—Switch, Windows, Xbox One

Last year, Activision added a surprising chart-topper to its small roster of multi-million-selling games: a modernized remake of the first three Crash Bandicoot titles. Even though the N. Sane Trilogy launched only on the PlayStation 4, nostalgia for the goofy orange mascot turned it into a surprisingly huge hit. One year later, and with Sony’s exclusivity deal expiring, the collection is making its way to other consoles. [Matt Gerardi]

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