The beginning of spring means baseball, flowers, food, wine and beer festivals and unfortunately, just not a whole lot of new games being released.

April is certainly quiet this year for game releases, featuring only one true AAA-quality standout arriving on shelves and a variety of re-issues of old games making their debuts on new platforms.

Notable games like Dark Souls II and Grand Theft Auto are making their way to next-generation consoles and PC after tallying awards and recognition for their initial release.

Fighting game fans have the most to look forward to this month as the most violent and one of the most storied, successful franchises returns, set to reach new standards in the genre and bolster the quality offerings on current-generation consoles.

Here are April’s game releases worth some of the incoming tax refund money arriving in people’s pockets this season.

To correct last month’s column, Metal Gear Solid V was pushed back to September 15, around the time reports of a rift between the game’s publisher, Konami, and its creator, Hideo Kojima, released detailing his expectancy to leave the company after the game’s release, according to reports by leading game news organizations IGN and GameSpot.

Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin (PC on April 1, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) – April 7

            Dark Souls II is one of the hardest games ever released on Xbox 360, PS3 and the PC, unforgiving to players of any skill or age that challenged the horrifyingly brutal beasts and enemies that infested the massive medieval map of Drangleic.

The Souls franchise is critically acclaimed for its unabashed difficulty and sparse guidance, following in the old-school fashion of games like Metroid and original Legend Of Zeldas, where players were left on their own to upgrade and scavenge equipment, finding their way through dungeons and deceiving puzzles.

Scholar Of The First Sin is a compilation package including the original game and three additional campaigns that were released as downloadable content. Also, developer From Software took the time to bolster some of the already stunning graphics and environments, enhance online matchmaking, build better item descriptions and add additional story characters to assist players during the game.

When Dark Souls II first released in March 2014, it arrived at a time where current-generation consoles were establishing themselves, putting out strong games, causing some fans to jump to a new console and miss out on an incredibly challenging, but rewarding action-RPG experience.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (New Nintendo 3DS) – April 10

            As one of the greatest Japanese open-world RPGs ever to grace a Nintendo Wii system, Xenoblade Chronicles captivated audiences with an expansive sandbox, customization, deep storytelling and character development.

Now, handheld gamers get to experience and explore a truly expansive game in a miniature package, but unfortunately owners of old hardware will need to upgrade to the New Nintendo 3DS to play this exclusive title, a device which has increased processing power and additional buttons.

Whereas the original game debuted on the Wii, a system that featured an unconventional controller, this new Xenoblades Chronicles 3D should lend itself well to the button mapping of a handheld system and provide players a smooth experience.

With an epic storyline following protagonist Shulk as he learns the power of his legendary sword the Monado and his quest to save the world, in typical JRPG fashion, players slash and summon their way through a variety of exotic environments using a battle system similar to the real-time, automated-party attack system seen in Final Fantasy XII.

Anyone that enjoys a good RPG and the latest handheld hardware should definitely pick up this historically heralded Nintendo release to launch the company’s new platform.

Mortal Kombat X (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – April 14

            It has been four years since Mortal Kombat reinvigorated the versus-fighting genre with just the right amount of gore and gruesome fatalities the franchise is known for. During a time where fighting games have lost their grit, it seems fitting for Mortal Kombat X mastermind Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios to refresh fans with a taste of brutality.

            Since 2011’s Kombat release, there have been a number of other brawlers released, from Dead Or Alives to Tekkens and Street Fighters, each with their own niche fans and unique blend of martial arts and visual style, never quite amounting to the sheer over-the-top carnage and extremely fluid gameplay that MK delivers with every entry.

            Mortal Kombat X features a brand-new storyline for its single-player campaign-style mode, brand new characters mixed in with a roster chock full of favorites spanning the lifespan of the franchise. The introduction of “Quitality” is welcomed in the upcoming title, reserved to instantly kill players who quit from online matches.

            As a creative and intriguing addition, the game also releases with an available character pack included in its season pass for purchase that highlights Predator from the famed entertainment franchise and Jason Voorhees from the Friday The 13th films.

            Mortal Kombats gameplay is extremely accessible and responsive for a fighting game, yet harbors a wide depth of strategy and versatility for genre veterans, harnessing the ability to choose from characters and their multiple different fighting styles in an eccentrically violent arena that excites, but can also perturb players with its sheer graphical carnage.

            Ultimately, Mortal Kombat X is expected to be another surefire hit in the franchise’s critically acclaimed series, and should be on any versus-fighter fan’s list of must-haves.

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