8 Best New Games of Last Month

September’s well over now, but we shouldn’t forget some of what September had to offer. It was a bang-up month in the video game world, with a large number of very well-received games landing on every platform. Here are the top eight games of September, as tallied by the gaming press and Metacritic.

8. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)

Metacritic score: 84

The Theatrhythm games celebrate one of the very best aspects of the Final Fantasy series: the music. Like the original, Curtain Call takes tunes from the series’ nearly 30-year history and assembles them into a (very enjoyable) music/rhythm game. But this is no Rock Band rehash, because you also earn experience points and gain levels for stylized versions of characters from all of the games. It’s packed full of content, offering dozens of hours of songs to tap along with and side quests to tackle.

Polygon summed it up nicely in its review: “Curtain Call turns what could be empty nostalgia into a meaningful challenge that I still can’t stop playing.”

7. Teslagrad (Wii U)

Metacritic score: 84

Teslagrad is an adorable side-scrolling platformer about a boy who uses unique tools to harness the power of magnetism. It might sound as dull as a science textbook, but the gameplay is solid and the graphics are full of personality. The general idea is that with each new magnetic ability you gain, you can reach areas of the environment that were previously inaccessible — much like Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

As Nintendo World Report puts it, “If you’re hungry for a moody, isolation-themed platformer on the Wii U, this is definitely the cream of the crop.”

6. Frozen Synapse Prime (PS Vita)

Metacritic score: 85

If you like strategy games and haven’t played Frozen Synapse yet, this Vita release offers the perfect opportunity to fix that problem. This is a war game, but the war is fought by tiny soldiers. Your job is to plot out what you want your soldiers to do during the next five second-long turn while your opponent does the same. Then you flip the switch and watch those moves play out simultaneously.

A ton of strategy is baked into this simple premise as you try to anticipate your opponent’s moves and react to them before they even happen. You can tackle the lengthy and varied single-player campaign, and then switch over to multiplayer to face off against real opponents online. IGN said, “Prime’s simultaneous turn structure makes for a tense experience that’s both intelligent and rewarding.”

5. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)

Metacritic score: 85

This game might not star any characters that appear in Tolkien’s novels, but it does something remarkable: It provides some of the best medieval action ever put in a game. Set between the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Shadow of Mordor follows one man’s quest for revenge against the orc armies of Sauron, who killed his family. They actually killed him, too, but he’s been resurrected thanks to an angry wraith. All of which culminates in you exploring the blighted world of Mordor, hacking orcs to pieces.

Of particular note is what the developers call the “Nemesis system,” which makes for fluid orc hierarchies that change depending on your interactions with them. Giant Bomb says the “system works so well that it makes you feel like you’re having a tailored game experience that’s unique to you and your actions.”

4. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3)

Metacritic score: 86

The original Persona 4 Arena is a fighting game starring characters from the classic role-playing games Persona 3 and 4. Ultimax is a sequel that introduces new fighters, new moves, and a whole story that begins right where the last one left off. Best of all, the game combines the one-on-one fisticuffs of a fighting game with a big dose of RPG inspiration. One mode lets you team up with another character to increase your social connection, just like in the core Persona games. Another lets you level up and feed points into a skill tree that gives you new moves and abilities.

GamesBeat sums it up pretty well: “Persona 4 Arena Ultimax does everything a good fighting game sequel should. It adds new characters, modes, and other changes that improve the experience. The story is a bit long, but it features plenty of fan-service for devoted followers of the series. If you enjoyed the original Arena, this is an easy recommendation.”

3. Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One)

Metacritic score: 86

Forza Horizon 2 is an open-world racing game set in northern Italy and southern France. It has a ton of real cars, a variety of race types, and semi-realistic handling that doesn’t punish you for the occasional slip up. Its goal — at which it largely succeeds — is to appeal to just about everyone. Racing newbies won’t have trouble picking up the game’s mechanics, but longtime fans of the genre will find plenty of advanced maneuvers to master.

US Gamer was particularly fond of the game, saying: “Forza Horizon 2 is a truly brilliant game. How much do I like it? Put it this way: if I didn’t already have an Xbox One, I’d be buying one just so I could play it.”

2. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition (Xbox One)

Metacritic score: 89

What’s left to say about Minecraft? It’s among the most popular games of all time, appearing on nearly every console, computer, and handheld device imaginable. Unsurprisingly, its debut on Xbox One is just as impressive as every other iteration of the game. It lets you handcraft a world all your own using blocks made of dozens of types of materials. You can build a wooden shack or recreate the map of Westeros, depending on how ambitious and creative you’re feeling.

IGN said of the title: “Reshaping a pristine landscape into new world using your own two hands while things try to kill you isn’t just an amazingly rewarding gaming experience, it’s a clever retelling of human history. In a way, this is what we’re all instinctively driven to do, and Minecraft captures it brilliantly on new-gen systems.”

1. Velocity 2X (PS Vita, PS4)

Metacritic score: 91

When you play Velocity 2X, you get the impression that the game turned out exactly as the developers intended. It’s a game of constant movement, tight controls, and nonstop, well, velocity. It’s amazing how integrated the whole thing feels, because it’s divided into two types of gameplay. One is a top-down space shooter that has you blast enemies and collect gems. The other is a side-scrolling action platformer that sees you sprinting through caves, dispatching enemies, and flipping switches. Each half of the game plays like a dream, yet somehow the sum is greater than the individual parts.

GameSpot says: “Velocity‘s influences are clear from the outset — Metroid, Mario, and countless classic shoot-em-ups. Molding such disparate genres together isn’t easy, but Velocity manages to create a tight, focused experience with a stunning level of finesse.”

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