Things got pretty hot and heavy in February and March, but now that spring is here and the weather's getting nice, the release schedule is taking a bit of a breather for April. It's not like the month is light on notable releases we've got Xenoblade Chronicles, Prototype 2, and The Witcher 2 in the bunch, for starters but the weeks hold fewer overall options, with some systems only offering one or two releases in the span. But you may find something very intriguing in the mix; and if not, the past couple months no doubt have wonders left to be mined!
April 3 - Kinect Star Wars
Much like the film series it's based on, Kinect Star Wars has already elicited extreme bouts of joy and anguish in turns, from the happiness of the initial E3 teaser to the crushing agony of finding out about the dancing game held within. But during our last demo of the game, we came away much happier than anticipated thanks to charming Kinect-enabled diversions like Rancor Rampage, in which you tear up Mos Eisley as the titular creature, as well as the solid pod racing game we've seen in the past. We're hoping the full package offers many more hits than misses overall, but at least that super stunning Limited Edition Xbox 360 console is a total winner regardless.
April 3 - Devil May Cry HD Collection
With Ninja Theory's DmC reboot off on the horizon and the current craze of last-gen compendiums still at a fever pitch Capcom saw it fit to start off the month with the Devil May Cry HD Collection, which brings together the original PlayStation 2 trilogy with enhanced visuals and Achievements/Trophies. In the set, you'll get the famed debut, the oddly disappointing sequel (Devil May Cry 2), and the triumphant trilogy capper, Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. All three are found together for $40 on either platform, making it a reasonably priced way to start catching up before things start down a fresh path.
April 3 - Tropico 4: Modern Times
Tropico's long held the lock on island-based nation-building, starring the charismatic fictional El Presidente, but the leader's grasp on his people faces a new challenge this month in the Modern Times expansion for Tropico 4. Kicking things forward into a more current setting, you'll have to deal with things like terrorism, space travel, and the Internet (gasp!), and how each affects your citizens. Across a dozen scenario missions, you'll work to replace old buildings to keep your city thriving, as well as keep your citizens happy by controlling information and rights. Good luck with that.
April 3 - Funky Barn 3D
We stumbled upon Ubisoft's Funky Barn 3D while assembling the list for this month's piece, and the official pitch we read called it the "first farm simulation for Nintendo 3DS." We'd like to point to last year's Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Cities and respectfully disagree, but maybe there's something about the experience that makes it stand apart from Natsume's long-running sim series. Funky Barn 3D seems to take a more comical route, with the use of gadgets like the Flying FruitBox-Haybale-Copter, plus the animals appear to have odd interactions with each other. It might not be the first, as advertised, but we'll find out soon if it's a unique alternative.
April 3 - Titanic Mystery
Purveyors of immense wisdom that we are, we'd think it's probably a terrible idea to name a new ocean liner the "Titanic II" in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the original's horrifying failure. But that's exactly what's happened in Titanic Mystery, a budget Wii and Nintendo DS game in which you play a passenger aboard the thankfully fictional new ship, attempting to find out who has hidden a bomb inside the vessel. From what we've seen, Titanic Mystery seems to put a heavy emphasis on hidden-image puzzles, along with those of the sliding-image variety.
April 6 - Xenoblade Chronicles
Remember when it seemed like Xenoblade Chronicles would never be released in North America? It's hard to know whether to credit the fan campaigns for starting a furor on the matter, or if Nintendo was just dragging its heels but regardless, this celebrated Japanese role-playing experience is just days away, and there's strong reason to put this late Wii release on your agenda. For whatever reason, it's exclusive to GameStop on this side of the world, but it seems worth braving your local mega-retailer branch to snag what's been hailed in numerous glowing reviews as one of the defining JRPGs of this generation.
April 10 - Phantom Breaker
If you're of the mindset that you really can't ever have enough Japanese fighting games starring cute, anime-inspired combatants, then perhaps Phantom Breaker should be on your agenda. Created by 5pb, the studio behind Corpse Party and a shocking number of games that weren't localized outside of Japan, Phantom Breaker spotlights a fighting tournament in which the winner will get his or her wish granted; so naturally, the participants include a maid, a swordsman, and a handful of really, really young-looking girls. The hand-drawn animations look slick, though, plus the game includes online play and a separate story for each fighter.
April 12 - Tribes: Ascend
It's been quiet for some time, but the Tribes name still generates glowing praise from longtime PC shooter fans, and has since inspired titles like PlanetSide and Section 8. But the original series is back this month in the form of Tribes: Ascend, a free-to-play take on the franchise that exits beta on April 12. As hinted in the title, the latest Tribes again maintains the verticality of the past shooters, thanks to jetpacks, plus the game includes a skiing-esque ability within the kinds of large, open maps that made it such a one-of-a-kind experience. We praised the game in our last preview, saying it felt like "Tribes 2 HD" a very positive note for series fans.
April 13 - Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
We're still a bit bummed that Nintendo opted not to localize the well-reviewed Fatal Frame 4 for Wii, but its attitude towards the franchise apparently doesn't hold true for spin-off Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, which they're publishing on Nintendo 3DS this month. Merging Japanese-style horror with a photography mechanic, Spirit Camera uses augmented reality to make you physically move your 3DS system to find enemy ghosts in the world, then snap their pictures to weaken them. We really warmed up to this spooky portable spin-off during our last hands-on, so we're hoping the sensation holds up across the full campaign experience.
April 17 - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Sorry, PC gamers: One of your absolute best lingering exclusives is about to hit Xbox 360, and it's none other than The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The expansive role-playing experience, developed by Polish developer CD Projekt RED, earned an incredible 10/10 from us last year on PC, as the game wowed us with its adult narrative, staggering visual quality, and remarkable character customization. For 360 players wrapping up the likes of Skyrim and Mass Effect 3, The Witcher 2 seems like the perfect follow-up. And don't fret, PC fans the free Enhanced Edition update drops on the same date with new missions and characters.
April 17 - Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
April is an incredibly quiet month for new PlayStation Vita releases, so if you're seeking something to really sink your teeth into, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention might do the trick. Essentially an updated port of 2008's Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice on PlayStation 3, the Vita version brings the anime-stylized tactical role-playing experience on the go, and it's sure to look fantastic on that crisp screen. Absence of Detention adds features like new scenarios and characters, plus enhanced presentation, so if you missed it the first time or a refresher sounds about right it's just a couple weeks away, Vita owners.
April 17 - Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat
Much as the two downloadable Deadliest Warrior games try to be the modern-day heir apparent to Bushido Blade, most of the entertainment we yield from these hokey entries is unintentional hilarity. Pitting historical fighters against each other in ultraviolent, potential one-hit-kill contests is admittedly amusing, though there isn't a whole lot of meat to the action. Ancient Combat brings together both entries and their respective DLC packs on one budget-priced disc, which also adds in a half-dozen episodes of the TV series they're based on. Check out our review of Deadliest Warrior: Legends for a deeper dive on what to expect from the bloody brawler.
April 17 - The House of the Dead 4
Despite launching seven years ago in arcades, The House of the Dead 4 is the only core series entry not to be released on a home console, curiously enough. But like its recently released immediate predecessor, a downloadable PlayStation 3 version of the game is coming soon to PlayStation Network, offering a cheap way to take in the zombie-zapper. It supports PlayStation Move, as expected, and also offers local multiplayer and Trophy support, along with bonus levels from a special edition of the game. And $9.99 seems totally reasonable for a simple light gun-style shooter in this day and age.
April 18 - Trials Evolution
Trials HD might not have created the leaderboard chase, but it still feels like one of the absolute best examples of it, as the side-scrolling motorbike game caught fire with fans trying to one-up their pals' best scores and times. Thankfully, sequel Trials Evolution is right around the corner and kicking off Microsoft's Arcade Next promo with a bevy of enhancements and additions. Huge outdoor courses and a sleek visual upgrade are most apparent, but the game also offers online multiplayer, races against pals' ghosts, nighttime stages, and a remarkable track editor that lets you create and share mini-masterpieces. Clear your schedule: Evolution's nearly here.
April 19 - MacGuffin's Curse
Australian studio Brawsome isn't quite a household name just yet, but we called the Jolly Rover maker one of our indie game developers you need to follow last year and now the dev is winding up to release its next original adventure, titled MacGuffin's Curse. Described as a "werewolf comedy adventure game," the title follows the titular hero, who finds himself transformed into the fuzzy creature after stealing an amulet from a museum. Now he must find his way out of a clamped-down city, and he'll do so by transforming from human to wolf and using the abilities of each as needed. Plus, it will launch at a bite-sized, App Store-ready price.
April 24 - Prototype 2
Prototype 2 marks a fresh start for Activision and Radical Entertainment's super-powered, open-world affair, thanks to a brand new lead one James Heller, a former Army sergeant on a quest to take down original hero Alex Mercer for causing the deaths of his family. Injected with the virus, Heller becomes every bit the insanely aggressive warrior he's trying to kill, with the ability to spawn blade claws from his limbs, toss dumpsters with ease, and glide around the city. He's just like a superhero, albeit without the colorful spandex. Our last hands-on showed Heller to be a bit hypocritical in his aims, but considering the immense amount of mayhem you can cause in New York Zero, that may not really matter a whole lot in the end.
April 24 - Shifting World
Maybe this is a dumb question, but how will a fully monochromatic game look with the 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS? We're eager to find out later this month with Shifting World, which comes to us from Aksys Games and seems to merge elements from titles like Crush 3D and indie darling And Yet it Moves. In the game, you'll traverse environments by shifting the world up, down, left, and right by activating icons, but you can also swap the black and white parts of levels to get around. It's sure to be a brain-teasing affair, and while simple, the stark aesthetic has us curious to see what this little puzzler is all about.
April 25 - Bloodforge
Microsoft's Arcade Next promotion might be bookended with big-name fare like Trials Evolution, Fable Heroes, and Minecraft, but there's one other game in there that you may not have heard much about: Bloodforge. Developed by Climax, Bloodforge is an ultra-violent, hack-and-slash adventure in which you can cut foes to bits, with its storyline and enemies loosely based on Celtic mythology; and whether wielding a sword, massive hammer, or ultra-sharp claw gloves, you'll spritz blood liberally around the screen with each swipe. It looks like a big retail-esque action game, so we'll be interested to see how it all comes together later this month.