The older I get the more specific my tastes become. I can hang with the big deal action times and the never-changing war games and the grunting men with guns, but when the day is almost done and I have an hour to play a game just for myself I pretty much reach for something that’s either nostalgic or adorable or both. Part of that is on the industry, though: I’d rather play a game fit for all ages than one that’s rated M but has the mentality of a 13-year-old boy. Hence the five games you see on this list today, the five games I’m most excited about for the month of September.
Now there should be a regular caveat with this monthly feature: it’s not unusual for smaller games to officially announce a release date very shortly before launch. It’s possible there is a game or three that I am hotly anticipating that will be coming out this September, but that just hasn’t publically released that information yet. And any one of these games could wind up to be awful (well, except the ones I’ve already played and can vouch for…) and wouldn’t necessarily make it on the “let’s look back at the best games of last month” lists that I won’t be starting up any time soon. And since Metal Gear Solid fans will be wondering, that game came out so early in September that I didn’t even consider it. Like September wasn’t even a day old when that thing came out. It couldn’t wait barely a day to come out in September, but it expects us to wait through hour long cutscenes. Somebody needs to have a talk with Metal Gear Solid.
Release Date: 9/9
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Something so adorable shouldn’t feel so stressful. With its cutesy astronaut blobs and neon spacescapes Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime looks like some hip new cartoon for all kinds of ages, but the tension can be overbearing. You and a friend (or an AI partner) have to keep tabs on multiple stations within your space ship, blasting or evading threats that approach from all angles. It’s a glorious dive into videogame frustration, but you’ll have a friend to share the burden and an amazing aesthetic to make everything go down easy.
Release Date: 9/27
Platform: Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
If you think Disney Infinity cornered the market on your nostalgia with its Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters, Lego Dimensions is here to remind you of every other thing you loved as a kid. The toys-to-life game includes worlds based on DC Comics, The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings and many more. Yeah, you’ll have to buy a lot of different packs and add-ons to play everything, but the thought of those consistently fun Lego videogames branching out to engulf almost the entirety of pop culture is pretty exciting.
Release Date: 9/22
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Linux
I admire and appreciate the goals and aesthetic that Frictional Games strives for, even if I have almost no interest in horror as a videogame genre. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a beautiful, perverse, unforgettable game, even if it’s not the kind of thing I like to hang out with my spare time. Soma at least promises an interesting premise, as the player is stranded in a deep ocean research center that’s starting to bridge the gap between machinery and humanity. Plus Frictional’s been working on Soma for five years, so it should be about as fastidiously assembled and detailed as games get. I look forward to seeing if Soma can transcend the tired shocks and grotesqueries associated with the genre.
Release Date: 9/11
Platform: Wii U
So you already know what we think about Super Mario Maker. It lets us break down and rebuild some of our earliest gaming memories, and opens up every inch of the Mushroom Kingdom for us to explore and rearrange. Level editors and build-your-own games usually aren’t my bag, but Super Mario Maker joins Disney Infinity as maybe the only games where I have as much fun creating as playing. And even if the vast majority of levels available for free download on the current pre-release, press-only server aren’t exactly good, it’s still amazing that I now have almost infinite new Super Mario levels to play through.
Release Date: 9/25
I don’t think anybody is ready for another fully-formed Animal Crossing game. I still feel guilty over the latest town that I abandoned just a couple of years ago. Happy Home Designer focuses on one aspect of Animal Crossing, home decoration, letting you serve as an interior designer to your adorable animal friends. It expands what you’re able to do with those homes, giving you more interior options and letting you design the exteriors, as well. Home design has never been my favorite part of Animal Crossing, but greater options and a more elaborate system might be enough to get me hooked. Well, I’ll already be hooked by just how cute everything is (cuteness is often crucial to any great game), but maybe I’ll finally warm all the way up to home design if there’s more to it than normally found in Animal Crossing.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections.