It’s already February, which means I should probably start playing games that aren’t Picross again. Fortunately it’s a good month for that: after a slow January, there’s a fair share of exciting and enticing games coming out over the last four weeks. No matter what system you own, you should be able to find something worth playing this month. Here are the five games that we here at Paste are most looking forward to this February.
1. Super Mario 3d World + Bowser’s Fury
Release Date: Feb. 12
It’s no secret that we like Super Mario 3D World around here; it came in sixth on our list of the best games of 2013. So obviously we’re excited for its return on the Switch. We probably wouldn’t put a new port of a seven-year-old game on a list like this, though, if it didn’t also come with a brand new Mario single-player game. Bowser’s Fury is a new standalone campaign in the traditional 3D Mario style—meaning it’s more like Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario Galaxy than Super Mario 3D World. It still has the cat power-up from the older game it’s bundled with, though, and also introduces a new version of Bowser that looks like a cross between a Japanese demon and a heavy metal album cover. Nintendo rarely misses when it comes to its major franchises, and so Bowser’s Fury could be one of the gaming highlights of 2021.
2. Little Nightmares II
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Release Date: Feb. 11
It is time, once again, to explore the cute and spooky. Little Nightmares II revives the cult 2017 puzzler, preserving its charming artstyle and tense pacing, and that sly, subtle contrast between the whimsical and the macabre that made the original so memorable. There aren’t a lot of games as proudly, persistently ominous as the first Little Nightmares, and this new sequel is set to fill us with even more dread.
3. Persona 5 Strikers
Platform: Switch, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: Feb. 23
Those Dynasty Warriors get around. Just a few months after dipping back into Hyrule with Age of Calamity, Omega Force, the studio that basically invented the musou game with Dynasty Warriors 2 a couple of decades ago, will be headed back to Japan with Persona 5 Strikers. Expect to see Joker and friends but with the kind of fast-paced hack ‘n’ slash action Omega Force is known for. Musou games aren’t subtle—mobs of enemies constantly swarm you, and you will routinely slaughter dozens of them with a single attack—but they have a grisly, single-minded charm, and it’s been fascinating to see how Omega Force entwines that core with the aesthetics and tone of other series.
4. Bravely Default II
Release Date: Feb. 26
Bravely Default II—the third game in the Bravely Default series, because Square Enix is always gonna Square Enix—looks and feels a bit like a throwback to the role-playing games of the ‘90s. Instead of the increasingly complex, increasingly photorealistic Final Fantasy—which will always and forever be Square Enix’s main course—the Bravely series has a more cartoonish style, a cleaner focus on the fantasy genre, and turn-based combat that will feel warmly familiar to anybody who grew up playing the classics of the genre. The first two Bravely games did what they did fairly well, and the new one promises another new take on nostalgic conventions.
5. RetroMania Wrestling
Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Feb. 26
The name doesn’t lie: RetroMania Wrestling is an explicit homage to WWF’s late ‘80s / early ‘90s arcade games WWF Superstars and WWE WrestleFest. In fact, Retrosoft Studios bills it as an “official sequel” to WrestleFest, 30 years after the fact, and without the WWE license that game had. If you pay attention to the world of pro wrestling today, you probably realize a WWE license is more of a hindrance to a wrestling game than a benefit these days. RetroMania has vintage early ‘90s arcade graphics and mechanics similar to WrestleFest’s, and a roster full of top independent wrestlers and classic veterans alike. The Road Warriors are pitched as the big stars, and for good reason: very few wrestling attractions were bigger in the ‘80s, and they were a key part of WrestleFest. This is probably the only wrestling game where you can have a match featuring Impact star Chris Bey, New Japan’s Zack Sabre Jr., indie star Warhorse, and ‘80s legend Nikita Koloff, without having to resort to create-a-wrestlers. If you watched the great NWA Powerrr show that sputtered out due to the pandemic, you’ve probably seen dozens of ads for this game, featuring NWA champ (and RetroMania roster member) Nick Aldis.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, music, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.