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KOEI TECMO GAMES / Team NINJA, Nintendo
"Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order" will feature appearances from the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-Men.

SALT LAKE CITY — 2018 proved to be a notable year for video games, and featured new, impressive releases like “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Marvel’s Spider-Man” and “Monster Hunter World.” Gamers of all ages can look forward to another promising year for game releases.

Here are nine video games — ranging from early January hits to more mysterious titles coming in the fall — to keep an eye on this year. Each preview includes the price, release date and platforms as well as impressions and information for each title. For information on some of last year’s best games, check out the Deseret News’ 2018 holiday game guide.

'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

Nintendo
From left: Nabbit, Toad, Mario and Peachette jump across platforms using inflatable baby Yoshis in a level from "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe."

Price: $59.99

Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)

Release date: Jan. 11

ESRB rRating: E for comic mischief

Note: A copy of "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" was provided by Nintendo.

“New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” is the latest port from Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, with a few extra bells and whistles added in. The core game and its DLC — the fast-paced, challenging Super Luigi U — are both included alongside two new playable characters.

Toadette is less slippery than Mario and Luigi and can transform into Peachette, which lets players bounce out of bottomless pits and glide over obstacles. Nabbit, a masked thief character, can withstand multiple attacks, but can’t use any power-ups. Instead, collected items can be turned in for extra lives at the end of each level. The entire game can be played solo or with up to four players, which works well despite occasional moments of chaos.

The game’s specialty lies in its level design, which lives up to the high pedigree set by past Mario platformers. Each level in the game offers new ideas, like a level based on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” or a haunted house that rocks back and forth. However, the art style, which is shared by five other games in the New Super Mario Bros. series as well as “Super Mario Run” for smartphones, feels a little too clean and shiny compared to “Super Mario Odyssey,” which experimented with multiple art styles.

Another important consideration is that “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” doesn’t offer much more content than its original Wii U release. Wii U owners who already have the game can safely skip the Nintendo Switch version unless they want the portability the upgraded version affords. But for new players or Nintendo fans, “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” is a great game for kicking off 2019.

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'Resident Evil 2'

Capcom
Claire Redfield explores a dark hallway as she's pursued by the invulnerable Mr. X in "Resident Evil 2."

Price: $59.99 (standard), $69.99 (deluxe edition)

Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Release date: Jan. 25

ESRB rating: M for blood and gore, intense violence and strong language

Note: A copy of "Resident Evil 2" was provided by Capcom.

“Resident Evil 2” is an example of how to properly remake a classic game, as well as the best game of 2019 so far, with a 91 score on Metacritic and more than 60 positive reviews. The game follows in the footsteps of the original PlayStation game, which revolutionized both horror and action genres back in 1998. Now, 20 years later, the game lives up to its potential as an atmospheric, terrifying experience.

The game follows rookie police officer Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they fight their way through Raccoon City, the epicenter of a zombie outbreak in 1998. Both characters are playable, which gives players the opportunity to witness two perspectives of the same events.

Most of the game’s action takes place in and around the Raccoon City Police Department, which is crawling with zombies and other monsters. The game’s sense of place is impressive and helps establish a tense, quiet atmosphere — until you’re forced into an encounter with the undead. Players can fight the zombies using a variety of firearms, but the monsters’ resilience encourages tactical retreats in most cases to preserve ammunition and other resources for much tougher enemies.

While the story still leans toward campiness at points, its take on the zombie apocalypse is grounded and nuanced. Minor characters from the original game are given more to do and provide a more poignant look into the human cost of catastrophe. Other characters, like the unstoppable Mr. X, are genuinely terrifying as they haunt the player.

Overall, “Resident Evil 2” is a thrilling, mature ride that can be genuinely scary at times. While some of the game's acting can be unconvincing and Mr. X’s presence can become annoying, the game is genuinely worth exploring over and over again.

What parents should know: “Resident Evil 2” is a survival horror game focusing on a zombie outbreak. The game’s near-photorealistic graphics play into this aspect, giving each undead monster a terrifying, bloody appearance. Gunshots leave a visible impact on each enemy, which influences the game’s mature rating the most.

While violence isn’t encouraged or common, some of the game’s most intense moments involve plenty of blood and viscera. The game also includes infrequent uses of strong language, including the f- and s-words. Overall, the game is most appropriate for older teens and adults. Younger players would be better suited getting their horror fix from “Luigi’s Mansion,” another recent horror remake for the Nintendo 3DS.

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'Kingdom Hearts III'

Square Enix
Sora, Donald and Goofy meet Olaf from Frozen in "Kingdom Hearts III."

Price: $59.99 (standard), $79.99 (deluxe)

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Release date: Jan. 25

ESRB rating: E10+ for alcohol reference and fantasy violence

“Kingdom Hearts III” is the long-awaited conclusion to a trilogy that began in 2002 on the PlayStation 2. Since then the series has grown to 11 games over several platforms, each featuring various combinations of Disney and Final Fantasy characters — a hallmark of the series.

According to Polygon, Kingdom Hearts will feature characters and worlds from "Tangled," "Frozen," "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc.," "Big Hero 6," "Hercules" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." Characters like Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph and Simba are also featured in some capacity.

Players will take control of Sora, a teenage keyblade wielder tasked with warding off darkness controlled by the shadowy Organization XIII. To do so, he travels to Disney-themed worlds with Donald and Goofy to thwart his opponents’ plans, which have traditionally involved stealing the light from each location.

Each game in the series leading up to “Kingdom Hearts III” can also be played on PS4. “Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far” includes HD versions of each game in the series as well as “Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue,” the most recent game released in the series. Unfortunately, Xbox One owners won’t have the chance to catch up on their platform before release, since there are no current plans to release the collection for Microsoft’s console, according to series director Tetsuya Nomura.

It’s also important to note that Square Enix will be holding the game’s epilogue until after release to help avoid spoilers. According to IGN, two patches containing the epilogue and a secret ending will be released on Jan. 30 and 31, respectively. Nomura has also confirmed that he would like to release downloadable content at some point in the future.

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'Anthem'

Bioware, Electronic Arts
A group of Freelancers fly in formation using their javelin exoskeletons in this screenshot from "Anthem."

Price: $59.99

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Release date: Feb. 22

ESRB rating: RP

“Anthem” is the latest RPG from Bioware, the creators behind "Mass Effect," "Dragon Age" and "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic." According to the game’s website, players, or Freelancers, work together to save the world from an ancient enemy.

“Anthem” takes place in a world ravaged by the Anthem, a powerful energy source. Players will have to avoid catastrophes and mutant creatures as they protect Fort Tarsis from the Dominion. To do this, players can customize their javelins — exoskeletons similar to Iron Man’s suit — and form relationships with characters throughout the world.

The game also offers visual and statistical upgrades for javelins, which fall into four archetypes: the Colossus, which fills a tank role; the elemental, agile Storm; the fast, evasive Interceptor; and the Ranger, which is a jack-of-all-trades build. Players can also uncover loot of varying rarity by completing missions, which can be tackled alone or in multiplayer.

A series of demos will also be available ahead of the game’s release, according to publisher EA. Those who preorder the game or subscribe to EA/Origin Access will have early access to the VIP demo from Jan. 25-27. Demo access will then open up to everybody else on Feb. 1-3.

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'Yoshi’s Crafted World'

Good-Feel, Nintendo
Yoshi journeys through a handicraft level inhabited by Shy Guys in "Yoshi's Crafted World."

Price: $59.99

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Release date: March 29

ESRB rating: E for mild cartoon violence

“Yoshi’s Crafted World” is the spiritual sequel to “Yoshi’s Wooly World,” a yarn-themed take on “Super Mario World 2” for the Super Nintendo. This time around, developer Good-Feel seems to have taken inspiration from papercraft art. The game is a 2.5D puzzle platformer that plays with the depth in each level. Players can also flip certain areas in each stage to uncover secrets and solve puzzles.

The core story involves Yoshi and his friends tracking down the gem-set stone, a wish-granting relic. Series baddies Kamek and Baby Bowser are also after the artifact, adding a bit of tension to the otherwise light, breezy atmosphere.

The game also features cooperative play using single Joy-Con controllers alongside Mellow Mode. According to Nintendo, this easier difficulty setting gives Yoshi a set of wings to help find various sets of collectibles. Yoshi can also be dressed up in various handicraft costumes that can add protective benefits.

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'Team Sonic Racing'

Sumo Digital, SEGA
Sonic the Hedgehog and his rival Shadow race against each other in "Team Sonic Racing."

Price: $59.99

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Release date: May 21

ESRB rating: E for mild cartoon violence

“Team Sonic Racing” is the third kart racer featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and friends. Unlike “Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed,” which featured characters from other SEGA franchises, this iteration only includes Sonic, and 14 of his friends and adversaries as playable racers.

The gameplay also focuses on cooperative, team-based mechanics like sharing power-ups and speed boosts, according to the game’s website. Players can also customize their vehicles to match their racing style, which can provide an advantage in the various Grand Prix, Time Trial and Adventure modes.

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'Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order'

KOEI TECMO GAMES / Team NINJA, Nintendo
"Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order" will feature appearances from the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-Men.

Price: $59.99

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Release date: 2019

ESRB rating: RP

“Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3” was announced as a Nintendo Switch exclusive at the Game Awards on Dec. 6. Team Ninja, the creators of the "Ninja Gaiden" and "Dead or Alive" series, is in charge of developing the superhero action RPG.

While full details are sparse at the moment, the game’s website confirms the game will feature characters from "The Avengers," "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "X-Men." The plot loosely follows that of "Avengers: Infinity War," and follows the heroes’ attempts to stop Thanos and his army, The Black Order, from collecting the Infinity Stones.

The game can be played alone or with up to four other players. Aside from utilizing the series’ traditional overhead camera perspective, a new Heroic Camera function places the players’ point of view directly behind their hero of choice.

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'Ori and the Will of the Wisps'

Moon Studios, Microsoft
Ori, right, stands next to a powerful boss creature in "Ori and the Will of the Wisps."

Price: TBA

Platform: Xbox One, PC

Release date: 2019

ESRB rating: RP

Like its predecessor, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” is a 2D, hand-drawn Metroidvania starring Ori, a furry forest spirit. While details are a little sparse, the game will feature upgraded combat mechanics and a revamped upgrade system, according to Thomas Mahler, the CEO and game director at Moon Studios.

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'Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order'

Screenshot, Electronic Arts
Little information is available, but publisher Electronic Arts confirms via their website that "Star Wars: Fallen Jedi" will feature a Jedi Padawan following the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Price: $59.99

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Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Release date: 2019

ESRB rating: RP

Little is known about EA’s next "Star Wars" action adventure game beyond the fact that it takes place shortly after the events of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and stars a Padawan survivor of the Jedi purge, according to the game’s website. Vince Zampella, the co-founder of developer Respawn Entertainment, confirmed at an EA Play event on Jun. 9 that the game is planned for a holiday 2019 release.