Most Anticipated: Monster Hunter Rise | $60 | Amazon
After an unsurprisingly quiet January for new games, February picked up the pace and brought us stellar titles like Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and Persona 5 Strikers. March 2021 has a few bigger launches up its sleeve as well, although the most notable new releases are all coming right near the end of the month. Brand new games like Monster Hunter Rise and It Takes Two have our interest piqued, while the long-awaited PC release of the Kingdom Hearts saga and a few next-gen upgrades for recent hits are also worth paying attention to. Here’s a look at the biggest games releasing in March, along with links to drop in a pre-order on any of ‘em.
It Takes Two (PS5, Xbox, PS4, PC)
Release Date: March 26
Hey look, it’s a fun game about divorce and a tattered relationship with a young child in the middle! It Takes Two is not a very conventional game in premise, and it’s unconventional in gameplay as well. EA’s latest sees a fractured couple transformed into dolls, and now they must work together through various challenges—as instigated by a talking, anthropomorphic book about romance—to try and rekindle the spark.
It’s weird. That’s weird, right? While I have some questions about It Takes Two’s capacity for nuance with such heady subjects, the trailers do make the game look pretty entertaining. Developer Hazelight made the very good A Way Out and director Joef Fares helmed the brilliant Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons before that, and both are games built entirely around cooperative gameplay and storytelling. Plus, you can buy one copy and play with a friend on the same platform, even if they don’t own the game.
Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)
Release Date: March 26
The Switch didn’t get the last main entry, 2018’s smash Monster Hunter: World, but it will be the only home (at least thus far) for March’s Monster Hunter Rise. Capcom’s series has always been huge in Japan and finally made it big elsewhere with the more accessible World, and now Switch owners get a fresh opportunity to enjoy this creature-bashing sensation.
From the looks of it, Monster Hunter Rise ought to be one of the most attractive games on Switch, and the heart of the experience looks pretty familiar compared to previous titles. It’s all about strategic combat as you utilize an array of weapons to pummel giant monsters, and it’s significantly more entertaining with friends in tow. There is a new grappling hook-esque tool to help you zip around through the air, however. A limited-time eShop demo was well-received while available—a good sign for the full game ahead.
Balan Wonderworld (PS5, Xbox, Switch, PS4, PC)
Release Date: March 26
Hailing from Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog and Nights Into Dreams, Balan Wonderworld looks like a whimsical delight—at least thematically. It focuses on a musical theatre that sends players into a diverse array of worlds populated by dozens of different costumes that give you varying abilities.
Gameplay-wise, it looks like a mix of platforming elements from various games over the years, and potentially a bit clunky overall. Here’s hoping it’s less of a rigid homage and more of an inventive, fresh-feeling experience. There’s a playable demo available on all platforms if you want to give it a shot for yourself and see how it resonates.
Kotaku’s Mike Fahey tried it and… well, he didn’t really know what was happening. But in a good way. Maybe.
“I can’t honestly say I have a firm grasp of what exactly is going on in Balan Wonderworld from playing the demo. Much of my play time was spent pointing at the screen and asking my spouse what the hell was going on. Why are they dancing? Why is this fan here? Why is that giant boy floating there? Our characters seem to be a couple of well-meaning children wandering about solving people’s problems, which is good. We also might be hallucinating, which can be fun. I’m looking forward to getting to the bottom of this trippy mystery when the full game comes out on March 26.”
Release Date: March 30
It’s finally happening: 19 long years after the original game was released on PlayStation 2, the entire Kingdom Hearts odyssey is releasing on PC exclusively via the Epic Games Store. While 2019’s release of Kingdom Hearts III might make you think it’s a simple trilogy… uh, nope. Square Enix released so many spinoffs of the Disney/Final Fantasy role-playing hybrid over the years, and they’re (pretty much) all coming along for the ride.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX ($50) bundles together four full games along with remastered cinematics from two additional games, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue ($60) includes a full game along with a bonus episode and a movie, and Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind ($60) is a full game plus an add-on mini-campaign.
Granted, that’s $170 total for a bundle you can get on PlayStation 4 for as low as $30, but it’s also potentially hundreds of hours of whimsical adventure. If you’re a PC player who has been waiting ages to play Kingdom Hearts, now’s the time. Also, the recently-released rhythm game spinoff Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory ($60) will hit PC the very same day.
Some of the bigger games released during the holiday season on last-gen consoles will see next-gen upgrades and ports in March, which means a fresh opportunity to loop back on those games if you missed ‘em the first time around.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time will release on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on March 12, with free upgrades for PS4 and Xbox One owners, plus it’s launching on Switch the same day. Marvel’s Avengers will follow with PS5 and Xbox Series X/S-enhanced versions on March 18 with a free upgrade for last-gen buyers, plus it’s getting a free update with new character Clint Barton (Hawkeye) on the same day.
Also, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 releases on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on March 26 … but you’ll have to pay $10 for the upgrade if you bought the last-gen edition. At least with Crash 4 and Marvel’s Avengers, both of those games have already been massively discounted since the original release, so you might be able to snag a copy at a bargain and then savor the free upgrade.