It's been more than three years since the New Play Control version of Pikmin 2 for Wii was released in Japan, Europe, and Australia – roughly everywhere but North America, where we did receive the first game's refresh. We assumed the updated sequel was lost to the ages, but with a new Pikmin game set to debut at E3 next week on the Wii U, Nintendo seems intent on drumming up interest in the series via this belated release, which is priced at just $19.99. If you missed it on GameCube back in 2004, Pikmin 2 proved a big enhancement over the original, and notched a 9/10 review from us way back when.
Platform: PlayStation Vita
EU: June 15
Every great PlayStation Vita release up 'til now has been a sequel, port, or spinoff, and those seeking something truly fresh, original, and out-there just haven't had a lot of excellent options on the handheld just yet. Gravity Rush changes that. Just check out our glowing review for the game, which awards it a 9/10 and calls it "the best reason to own – or consider buying – a Vita." What makes Sony's new property so darn alluring? It starts with fantastically gorgeous art design, but extends into a masterful gravity-commanding mechanic and a mix of touch and gyroscope controls that we actually enjoy. Ignore the generic moniker: Gravity Rush is a true standout.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Curiously pushed back at the last minute in the States from its intended late May release, DiRT Showdown charts a different kind of path forward for the off-road racing franchise, serving up arcade-centric events like destruction derbies and crash-prone figure-eight races. Our recent review of the game praised the wide variety of play modes, which spans races and combat-centric skirmishes alike, as well as the intensity of the action – but dinged the game for being a bit lightweight overall and the lack of impact felt following what should be a big crash. But we still found it plenty fun, especially for casual racing fans, and it's definitely a twist on the series formula.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
EU: June 15
It's unclear whether Lollipop Chainsaw will claim to be "a Suda51 trip" like last year's Shadows of the Damned did, but the auteur developer's fingerprints are all over this oddball action game about a zombie-slaying high school cheerleader. Expectedly, the game seems to be as gory as it is brash and risqué, with the undead-slicing combat paired up with bizarre humor and plenty of innuendo a spanks-flashing Juliet hacks and slashes through her place of learning. What's been shown is already quite strange, but if past Grasshopper Manufacture releases are any indication, we probably haven't seen half of the head-scratching shenanigans held within just yet.
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
Platform: PlayStation Vita
EU: June 29
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection made the rounds on consoles last fall, serving up a trio of series favorites – Metal Gear Solid 2, MGS3: Snake Eater, and MGS: Peace Walker – with bumped-up visuals and an attractive price point. Now the Vita version is set for release, though it packs a lighter load; and we're not just talking about arriving on a tiny memory stick. Peace Walker is sadly excised from the Vita release, leaving you with only two of the absolute best action games of the last decade-or-so. No need to be grumpy, though: both titles should look fantastic on the handheld, and they've also been updated with front and back touch controls.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
EU: June 15
The PC version of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier continues the persistent trend of console-first titles shipping weeks (or months) later on PC, but it was only recently that such a version wasn't supposed to be. Ghost Recon Online, the free-to-play title, was set to take its place, but Ubisoft apparently saw the benefit in bringing this glossy, tech-heavy take on the long-running franchise to the platform that spawned the series in the first place. Unlike many past PC versions of multiplatform Ghost Recon titles, we're expecting Future Soldier to be very similar to the console release, which nabbed a stellar 8/10 from us just last month.
It's rare to see a PSP exclusive hit the stores these days, let alone any game ship for Sony's last-gen handheld – but Gungnir (say it three times fast) is just the latest in a recent wave of niche titles that have used the system's sparse release schedule to their advantage. So what exactly is Gungnir? The Atlus-published strategy RPG actually has a somewhat long heritage, hailing from the same overarching series that spawned past favorites like Riviera: The Promised Land and Knights in the Nightmare, with some stellar-looking pixel art and tactical combat in store. If you're a SRPG maven, don't pack up that PSP just yet!
Platform: Xbox 360
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.