As we get out of the cold months of winter and enter the new dawn that spring represents (even if 2021 currently feels like a continuation of the existential nightmare that was 2020), some of you may be wondering what games are coming out over the next weeks to keep you occupied during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
The next few months are home to a packed schedule of games, with everything from beloved JRPG classics to unique experiences, to the grand return of NieR Replicant on modern consoles. Provided you aren’t already addicted to Monster Hunter: Rise, there are many games to choose from that coming out over the next few months, so let’s waste no time and introduce the biggest upcoming Japanese gaming releases of this coming Spring 2021 season.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
Kicking off April and the start of Spring 2021 for gaming is the release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV.
But wait, didn’t Trails of Cold Steel IV already release in English? To which you would be right. We won’t discuss the game too much here as we already previewed the title back in our Fall 2020 preview when the game was released in English on PS4 back in October. But for fans of Falcom’s cult JRPG franchise, the game will release on Nintendo Switch, PC and Stadia on 9 April.
What about games that aren’t already available in English? Nippon Ichi Software’s latest game, developed by the team behind Penny-Punching Princess and The Princess Guide, is an action RPG known as Poison Control.
In Poison Control, a mysterious phenomenon causes spirits to be trapped within poisonous manifestations of their despair, with Poisonette and her Soul Mate being the only ones able to purify them. Gameplay takes the form of a menu-based free-moving third-person shooter where you face off against enemies in arenas in battle while traversing the dungeons, all in order to purify the souls of those whose Belles’ Hells you enter. The bright pink aesthetic helps the game stand out as one of the more intriguing titles to come from the studio in recent times.
Poison Control hits Nintendo Switch and PS4 on 13 April in North America and 16 April in Europe.
SaGa Frontier Remastered
The first of several titles in a busy Spring 2021 for Square Enix, the SaGa franchise is making its grand return with the release of SaGa Frontier Remastered.
As the name suggests, this game is a remaster of the 1998 PS1 classic, with a few new enhancements to the original experience. One of the things that made SaGa Frontier so unique was a free scenario system, where each of the eight main protagonists had their own unique story that impacted the ending, and this has been expanded with a new playable main character in Fuse. New cutscenes have been introduced to Asellus’ scenario, backgrounds and graphics have both been remastered, the UI has been updated, new features like double-speed have been introduced… it’s a major remaster filled with quality-of-life improvements and new features.
SaGa Frontier Remastered is coming to iOS, Android, Steam, Nintendo Switch and PS4 on 15 April, making this classic JRPG accessible to a new generation.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack
Looking towards more modern JRPGs, Spring 2021 is filled with more recent JRPG gaming classics, such as an upcoming collection of recent titles in the Atelier series that brings the Mysterious Trilogy into a single release.
The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy will bring together definitive editions of Atelier Firis, Atelier Sophie, and Atelier Lydia and Suelle into a single release for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Steam. Each title in the trilogy comes with new content that fits the DX title given to each game with this release, as Atelier Sophie includes a new costume, Atelier Firis includes new vehicles, exploration items and quests, while Atelier Lydia and Suelle features a new painting world. This is on top of a photo mode, battle speed settings, a digital artbook, all DLC made for previous releases and more, on top of the base games themselves.
Although the collection will only be sold digitally, you can buy the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy on 22 April.
As the Yakuza franchise continues to grow more and more popular outside of Japan, a new chance is being given for a spin-off set within the same universe by the RGG Studios developers to shine on next-generation consoles during the Spring 2021 gaming quarter: Judgement receives a next-generation remaster.
This new release of the Yakuza spinoff will include several new features, such as refined visuals, 60fps, improved load times, and all previously released DLC content. The game itself follows detective Takayuki Yagami as he investigates serial murders occurring in the district of Kamurocho, with different gameplay systems that include investigation and tailing systems as you uncover the mystery.
Unfortunately, for those wanting to upgrade their PS4 copy to PS5, no free upgrade is being offered, while this is the first time the game has been made available on the Xbox platform, joining the rest of the franchise now available on the platform and, aside from Yakuza: Like a Dragon, on Game Pass. Still, if you want to spend the money or haven’t played the game before, Judgement will release on PS5, Xbox Series platforms and, bizarrely, Stadia, on 23 April. No standard PC release has been announced at this time.
NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…
Arguably the biggest Japanese gaming release of Spring 2021, Square Enix are set to bring out a remake of NieR Replicant on modern consoles, under the bizarre subtitle of ver. 1.22474487139….
While the sequel, NieR Automata, became a surprise hit and has since sold over 5 million copies worldwide, the original game was critically marred at the time of its release on Xbox 360 and PS3 for its clunky controls and rough visuals. Personally, I loved the game, even if I can understand the issues people had at the time, but a lack of accessibility to Yoko Taro’s original NieR game as it remained trapped on older consoles as a new generation of players became interested in the game left the door open for a remaster. Now, with new gameplay mixing the original controls with improvements introduced in NieR Automata with new visuals, a remaster of the Japan-only Replicant version of NieR has been produced.
Alongside NieR: Re[in]carnation, the NieR franchise is enjoying a deserved moment in the spotlight that this remaster is taking full advantage of. NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… will release exclusively on PS4 on 23 April.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
From the most anticipated gaming release of Spring 2021 to the most bizarre, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron will make a return exclusively on PC for a new audience of players.
El Shaddai was a bizarre but unique experience when it was released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011, with development led by Okami and Devil May Cry artist and character designer Sawaki Takeyasu. This third-person action game is based on the apocryphal Book of Enoch and puts players in control of Enoch, a scribe seeking seven fallen angels to prevent a flood from destroying mankind. It’s fair to say no game released at the time or since has looked or played quite like it, and though rough, it deserves a modern re-examination.
Although no console release is planned at this time, the game will see a release on PC before the end of April.
New Pokémon Snap
Who would have thought a new Pokémon Snap game would ever be made? Well, the gaming industry is a strange beast sometimes, and this Spring 2021 will see such a game release just before April comes to an end.
Lots of people hold the original Nintendo 64 Pokémon Snap game close to their hearts, so the new game will not alter too much of the underlying gameplay formula and update it with new features only possible on more modern consoles. The game continues to be an on-rails photography simulator where you, the player, take photographs of Pokémon you see while building up a Photodex of the Lental region, but now photos taken can be edited and shared freely online with other players. The photos taken are also now graded depended on angle and activity, adding further incentive to replay levels.
New Pokémon Snap will release exclusively on Nintendo Switch just before the end of the month on 30 April.
Resident Evil Village
Entering May, Capcom are bringing out their biggest gaming release of Spring 2021 as Resident Evil Village hits store shelves.
While you may be aware of Resident Evil Village’s upcoming release thanks to the lustful desire shared by many for the tall vampire Lady Dimitrescu, there is a game behind her very large hat and body. This eighth major entry into the Resident Evil franchise is set a few years after Resident Evil 7 and follows an all-new storyline centered on the character of Ethan Winters, the protagonist of the last game, now living in a remote village. The first-person viewpoint and many of the new mechanics once again make a return with this new entry, with an additional online-only multiplayer mode titled Re:Verse being included for free with copies of the game.
Resident Evil Village releases on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One and Steam on 7 May. Re:Verse is a separate download included with all copies of the game, but is not available on PS5 and Xbox Series, with these users being asked to download PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game in order to enjoy it.
Famicom Detective Club
Who would have thought we’d see the day when Famicom Detective Club would be made available in English? Soon, both games in the series previously only available in Japan will be released worldwide in a brand new remake for Nintendo Switch developed by Mages and published by Nintendo.
These murder mystery adventure titles set in the Japanese countryside were part of a trend of similar titles released on the Famicom and Super Famicom in Japan, and were rarely made available internationally. In the original games, players would pick commands from a menu to interact with a scene to find clues, talk to people, and explore the settings of these games to uncover the truth behind the murders featured in both games.
The games will receive a digital-only release outside of Japan either individually or as a bundle featuring both The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind storylines. Both games will release worldwide exclusively on Nintendo Switch on 14 May.
Another Nintendo title being released in May as part of the company’s busy Spring 2021 gaming schedule is a Nintendo 3DS port in the form of Miitopia.
Miitopia was a whimsical RPG for Nintendo 3DS that allowed players to use their Miis to take part in a fantasy adventure that sent them on a quest to take down the face-stealing Dark Lord. You can assign these various Miis roles and personality traits for this adventure and pair up on your quest, taking part in traditional turn-based battles against the enemies that stand in your path. You can even get to know your Miis a little better on your journey and possibly forge a deep relationship.
The whole game is a little tongue-in-cheek, but that’s part of the charm. Miitopia will release one week after Famicom Detective Club and, unlike that title, will also receive a physical release when it hits store shelves on 21 April.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster
Having released at the end of last year in Japan, Spring 2021 will bring a JRPG gaming classic back to modern platforms as Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne returns on new consoles.
Regarded by some as the best mainline Shin Megami Tensei game, this dark JRPG adventure is set in a post-apocalyptic version of modern-day Tokyo when an event known as the Conception is triggered by a cult to set about the world’s rebirth, and transforms a high-school student into a Demi-fiend after being endowed with a Magatama. Players explore various dungeons in this post-apocalyptic Tokyo as various enemies and old friends in this new world try to carve out their visions for what the universe should look like.
The game will be available in both a standard and deluxe version, with the deluxe version including additional content such as the Maniax Pack (also available separately) that adds Dante from the Devil May Cry series into the experience. The game will be released on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Steam on 25 May.
World’s End Club
If you want a more in-depth preview of what to expect from World’s End Club, why not check out our review of the game upon its initial release on Apple Arcade last year. This game that brings the vision of Kotaro Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka will soon be brought to a larger audience when the game hits Nintendo Switch.
This isn’t the same game as the one that first hit Apple Arcade last year. The story of the Go-Getters Club who find themselves challenged to a Game of Fate in an abandoned theme park was left incomplete upon its release on Apple’s subscription gaming service, with a later update promising to finish the story after being left on a cliffhanger. This planned Switch release will finish the story and include the planned Apple Arcade that will also hit sometime before the game’s upcoming console release.
You can play World’s End Club now on Apple Arcade, or you can wait for the game’s release on Nintendo Switch on 28 May.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
While we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the story of Final Fantasy VII Remake continue in the next installment of the game’s modern re-imagining, PS5 owners will soon have the chance to experience the game with additional content with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.
This new version of the first entry into the Remake series will enhance the original game with improved visuals, lighting, alongside an improved framerate. On top of that, the game will feature some new content added to the experience in the form of a new story told from the perspective of Yuffie as she infiltrates Midgar and conspires with Avalanche HQ in an adorable Moogle cloak.
Those who own Final Fantasy VII Remake on PS4 are entitled to a free next-gen upgrade for the game but will need to pay separately for the new Yuffie content, included free for those who buy the PS5 version outright. Both the update and the individual release of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade will hit store shelves on 10 June.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection
If Spring 2021 wasn’t busy enough for Japanese gaming releases, why not go back in time and experience some classic games as well?
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection brings together the modern 3D action reimagining from the classic Koei Tecmo series into a single release. Although some have taken issue with how the first two titles in the trilogy are based on the Ninja Gaiden Sigma releases for PS3 as opposed to the original releases for Xbox platforms that some players prefer, this is a chance for players to experience three classic Team Ninja action titles on modern platforms with new enhancements. This new release captures the high-pace action of the original games with all DLC included.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will hit PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam on 10 June.
Guilty Gear Strive
If you want some fighting game action as Spring 2021 turns into Summer, your gaming fix may be best served by the upcoming release of Guilty Gear Strive from Arc System Works.
This latest entry into the Guilty Gear franchise has impressed us not just with its gameplay but its visuals, with a gorgeous 2D art style for the game making it stand out in the genre and is a step above previous entries in the franchise. Alongside a large roster of new and returning content, the game promises a huge breath of single-player content, including an in-depth story mode, on top of robust online play. New players can also test out new characters or dust up on their skills in a training mode that simulates real matches and showcases the game’s controls.
For fighting game fans, this new entry into the franchise could be the game for you, regardless of your familiarity with the franchise in the past. Guilty Gear Strive hits PS4 and PS5 systems on 11 June, unlocking three days early for those who purchase the Deluxe Edition.
Legend of Mana
For the first time for players in Europe and making a grand return for players elsewhere, another classic Square Enix RPG is making a return to modern platforms with the remastered release of Legend of Mana.
Stepping into the shoes of the protagonist, players will embark on a journey to find the mystical Mana Tree seen in a dream, but their map is empty. The game’s unique selling point is the Land Creation system that fills this map and allows players to make their way through the game’s story. The new release of the game not only remasters the visuals of the game, but offers a rearranged soundtrack and the first English-language release of the Ring Ring Land mini-game.
Legend of Mana hits Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC on 24 June.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Mario Golf is back, with a new title in the series coming out just before the end of Spring 2021 as it positions itself to be the ultimate gaming release to get you through the long summer months.
Camelot are once again the developer of this latest entry in the Mario sub-series as Mushroom Kingdom characters are unleashed on a variety of inspired golf courses where the aim is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of shots. Alongside an RPG-style story mode, players now can freely roam the golf course in a new Speed Golf mode where, as opposed to standard gold where players take in turns, all players tee off together and run straight after their ball, with the aim instead being to finish the course in the shortest time, not the fewest number of shots. Even your Mii can get in on the action!
Mario Golf: Super Rush hits Nintendo Switch on 25 June.
Bandai Namco are banking on Scarlet Nexus’ success in a big way. Before the game has even released, the company has announced an anime based on the upcoming internally developed JRPG. As for the game itself, it will finally hit store shelves at the end of June.
In the distant future, a hormone granting extra-sensory powers was discovered and changed the world as we know it, as mutants known as Others began to descend from the sky with a hunger for human brains. Resistant to conventional attacks, only using these powers could hold back this threat to humanity. The game tells a dual story that follows Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall as you fight against these enemies in fast-paced action RPG gameplay as you try to hold back these forces and learn the truth about the mysteries of this world caught between technology and psychic abilities.
Scarlet Nexus will hit Xbox Series, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC on 25 June.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Last up for Spring 2021 when it comes to gaming releases, NIS America are set to release the latest mainline entry in the Disgaea franchise in English with the release of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny.
The first new entry in the Disgaea franchise in six years finally moves on from 2D sprites to stylized polygonal visuals, but the strategy RPG gameplay of the series remains the same as ever. You play as Zed, a zombie that has risen above all except the strongest God of Destruction as you try and rise above your status to challenge this God. Along the way, players will meet unique characters and explore strange new worlds, all while taking part in typically over-the-top tactical battles. Oh, and did we mention the game has a Hololive VTuber collaboration?
Although Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny was released on PS4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan, the game will only release on Nintendo Switch when it hits English-speaking markets on 29 June.