A new console generation doesn’t truly start until there are Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games to play on them, and the PS4/Xbox One era takes a major step toward increased cultural reference this week, now that the stunning Mortal Kombat X has dropped. Rounding up favorite characters from the past while tossing in some new blood, as well as movie psychos including Jason Voorhees and Predator, the series is reborn in its strongest iteration yet.
There are a couple other intriguing rehashes out, including Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 for Xbox One and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo’s New 3DS.
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2
(Xbox One, $15, Everyone)
Kinect-exclusive games are almost always terrible, but simple, mobile-style ports like the Fruit Ninja series somehow have found a sweet spot that keeps them from becoming maddening chores like most of the others. It’s a lot of fun to stand in front of your TV and karate-chop tumbling fruits on your TV screen, and an added bonus that you burn a few calories in the process. With a bunch of new modes and levels to tackle, there is plenty of game here to sink your sword into.
The only drawback is a significant one — the price. Fruit Ninja games are available as free-to-play or less than $1 on mobile devices, so it’s tough to justify paying $15 for pretty much the same thing. The multiplayer, party-game aspect may make it worth a look, particularly for those who always have a lot of people over or are looking for something to play with their kids, but otherwise you may want to hang tight and wait for the price to get sliced like a ninja-attacked watermelon.
Mortal Kombat X
(Xbox One, PS4, $60, Mature)
Four years after the last franchise reboot came out, the arcade staple is reborn once more on new-gen consoles. A quantum leap above the previous iteration in visuals, move sets and online integration, the new Mortal Kombat retains the gratuitously gory feel and rock-solid balance and mechanics, updating them with finer points from rival fighters and advancing the genre with new flourishes. Gruesome fatalities, over-the-top mid-round set pieces and tons of entertaining extras and side-challenges round out an excellent fighter.
The biggest new addition is a faction system, which calls on gamers to commit to groups that wage a persistent war against each other. Every accomplishment you achieve, in single-player or online, contributes to your faction’s progress. That’s only the beginning of the new online additions, with a slew of new modes there to test your mettle against the cutthroat community. There’s a rock-paper-scissors gamesmanship aspect that goes into the setup, with players selecting a fighting style, each of which come with its own attacks and specials. Customization is king throughout the game, with a strong mix of characters, costumes and stages that pays tribute to the franchise’s past while pushing it hard into new horizons. The bar is set high for Street Fighter, SoulCalibur and Tekken to throw down in the new-gen fighter ring.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
(New 3DS, $40, Teen)
One of the Wii U’s best role-playing games gets shrink-wrapped and remastered for Nintendo’s new handheld. Confusingly, the game won’t work on the regular 3DS, and was made exclusively for the latest iteration of the handheld, which boosts processing speed, adds shoulder buttons and a nub that acts as a second control stick. With sweeping vistas that serve as the backdrop for massive battles, the game works as an excellent showpiece to show off what the system is capable of. Although the looks can’t quite replicate the splendor of the Wii, they surpass anything that’s been on the 3DS before.
The game plays just as it did in 2012 on the Wii, losing little in translation by doing away with the controller in favor of the handheld button setup. Some archaic JRPG gameplay aspects — such as grinding, unskippable scenes and dialogue-heavy portions that go nowhere — rear their head, which is to be expected given the game originally came out in Japan in 2010. But this is still one of the best-executed specimens in the genre, and the best-looking 3DS game on the market. While it may not be a system-seller that sparks gamers to upgrade to the new system, it’s a hefty bonus for those who have made the switch.