Games Rebels Play – November 2013
Still playing Animal Crossing with my son. Activity log says we are at over 300 hours now. Crazy. Other than that, I played a tiny bit of Killzone Shadow Fall which is pretty fun, as well as Contrast, on PS4. On Wii U, I had been playing Wind Waker HD while waiting for Super Mario 3D World, which I have been playing like crazy. Possibly my favorite 3D Mario game.
I had also been counting the days until getting Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It is even better than I hoped. It’s just fantastic.
After I finish Mario and Zelda, I’ll be going back to WWHD on Wii U, and finally starting Shin Megami Tensei IV on 3DS. I just want to say how awesome it is that we got a new Mario World and a new LTTP this year.
I’ve been playing a lot of PC games as usual this month. I have put some quality time into Gunpoint and Spelunky. I also tried out Skull Girls as part of a free-play weekend on Steam. It’s an alright fighting game and is surprisingly accessible, but I ended up not purchasing it. With Street Fighter IV Ultra incoming It is hard to justify a fighting game purchase.
What I’ve spent the most time with this month is easily A Link Between Worlds. I have always loved Legend of Zelda games and picked up a 3DS XL system almost entirely to play this game. A Link to the Past is one of my absolute favorite Zelda games and A Link Between Worlds really takes that iteration of the Hero of Time mythos and runs with it. Mechanically it’s also one of the richest Zelda games I’ve ever played. The way that this game blends item usage right from the start instead of doling it out piecemeal is really impressive. The game takes for granted that you understand the mechanics of the different items and ultimately ends up feeling like a far more grown up version of Zelda than any previous title. Usually I scoff at game of the year banter, but A Link Between Worlds is so far beyond anything else I’ve played recently that it’s hard to think of it as anything but the single most important release this year.
For me, early November saw me playing Regular Show on 3DS, a short but sweet game that mixes and matches 3 different game styles into one crazy package. Even though the game is indeed short, I ended up having fun with the crazy duo and their retro adventure, and nowadays I tend to favor shorter games anyway, so it wasn’t a problem.
Next up was The Guided Fate Paradox, a rogue-like from NIS America that has you playing as a young 17 year old male who wins the lottery at the mall and ends up winning the grand prize: becoming God! Thanks to a quirky story (Chapter 1 has you helping Cinderella escape her faith, while Chapter 2 has a wimpy zombie that wants the help of God so he can eat some brains) and the voice acting which properly sells the premise, this is a game that was a welcome addition to my collection.
I then dove into Batman: Arkham Origins on PS3, the latest game in the Arkham series which takes us through the early days of the Batman, right before he came face to face with the Joker for the first time. The game is not a perfect game, nor is it the best Arkham game (that one still goes to Batman: Arkham Asylum), but the combat is fun and the new crime scenes are a nice step in the right direction.
The next game for me was Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on Vita, the companion release on 3DS and Vita that is a direct sequel to Batman: Arkham Origins on consoles. When I learned that this game would be a 2.5D Metroid-style game, I knew I definitely wanted to play it. It took me about 10 hours to finish the game, and once I was done I was ready for more. Hopefully the formula is polished for the eventual portable sequel since there were some bugs here and there that had me restart from a previous checkpoint.
I had been waiting for a sequel to Jett Rocket since I 100% that game, so I was happy to learn about Jett Rocket II on 3DS. This time around levels are presented in 3 different styles (sidescroller, 3D platforming with a fixed camera angle, and full 3D exploration) to keep things fresh, and the game looks great on Nintendo’s portable. Shin’en really knows how to push Nintendo hardware to its limits, and Jett Rocket II features a flawless 60 frames per second even with 3D turned on.
Even though I had already played Castlestorm for a long time for my review, I kept going back to it to 5 star every level while preparing for the two DLC packs with extra levels that would be released by late November, and I actually just 100% From Outcast to Savior, the first DLC pack for the game.
Super Motherload was the first PS4 game I played, and it’s also the first PS4 game I’ve reviewed over at PS4blog.net. Super Motherload is a very addictive game, with gameplay that is easy to learn, but there is more depth to the game than the simple “dig for minerals, sell them, repeat” description you might see around the internet. Those of you who have played SteamWorld Dig are going to LOVE Super Motherload.
EDGE is part of Two Tribes range of HD classic games on Wii U. This time around we get a 1080p 60fps port of EDGE on the Wii U, featuring Off-TV gameplay, 100+ levels and all the DLC for EDGE rolled up into a single download. The minimalist art style, chiptune music and fast paced action make this a must own on Wii U, and the fact that it’s only $2 for a limited time makes it an easy purchase.
Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds need no introduction since they are THE must have 2013 games for their respective system. We’ll be fighting each other during the next couple of weeks to see who gets to write about these two in our end of the year editorial.
I played through Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney in preparation for Dual Destinies. I really enjoyed it. It’s got the same issues inherent to the game play formula but I enjoyed the story and liked how all the episodes came together into one big reveal at the end. I also started Ghost Trick and am really enjoying it.
On the non-portable front I picked up Rocksmith: 2014 and it’s unbelievably amazing. For the second version the developer abandoned all pretense of being a game, and made it into a teaching tool, and a really good one. The note recognition for learning songs is great, and you can repeat parts of songs having the program automatically increase the difficulty of the phrase every time you play it correctly. There’s even a “session mode” where you can jam with AI bands to learn/improve on your improvising. Last, my wife and I played more Diablo 3. Still lots of fun, though the only end game content we’ve found so far is incredibly hard to unlock.
I spent most of November saving my pennies and waiting for Zelda and Mario to drop. Once they both finally came out, I ended up downloading A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World from the eShop the same day, but I decided not to start 3D World until after I had beaten Link Between Worlds.
It took me around 20 hours to get to the end of Zelda. It was definitely a very good game, but I find the extremely warm reception it’s getting on the internet a little odd. Sure, it was good, but was it really better than Phantom Hourglass or Skyward Sword? As of right now, it’s a little too soon to say, but I feel like early reviews are being overly inflated by artificial things like the short time to first dungeon. Still, if you have a 3DS you owe it to yourself to try it and see where it lands in your own personal Zelda rankings.
The other non-gaming gaming console news for me is that I bought an HDTV and now my wife is using the Wii U constantly—to watch Amazon Prime Instant Video. Take that Xbone!
I have been playing tons of game this past month, especially on my Wii U mainly because it was the focus of a 4-parts special Things X 5 but also there’s been a string of great releases and downloads for the console. More importantly, there was Super Mario 3D World. The game is fantastic, beautiful and, even though the isometric view can play tricks on you at first, it’s been a blast to play so far. As I’m now tackling the game’s most challenging levels I’ve come to appreciate the versatility of having 4 different characters at your disposal. I never ever want to play 3D Mario game without Peach again.
I also got Need For Speed Most Wanted U on the cheap and the racing game really got off guard; it’s one of the best arcade racers I’ve ever played. It’s a game about fast cars going fast and that’s all. The open-world, big toy box approach makes you feel like you’re playing with Hot Wheels, changing cars at your leisure, crashing into obstacles at an impossible speed and modifying your environment like trafic and night/day cycles with a single tap of your finger, for an optimal race result. It’s a fantastic racer. As much as we like to portray Electronic Arts as an evil corporation, I cannot help but feel sorry they won’t bring anymore of their games on the Wii U as this port has been made with great care with nice features specially tailored for the GamePad.
Finally, I’ve managed to give proper time to Fragile Dreams: Farewell to the Moon, a Wii game I’ve been eager to play for such a long time. I think I’ll wait until I have beaten this lovely game before sharing my final thoughts but you can already catch my feeling toward the title in one of my recent x5.
On the portable side, before jumping into the new Zelda, I’ve decided to beat Mario & Luigi Dream Team. I have mixed feelings about the fourth entry. On one hand, the presentation is excellent (especially the music), the battles, based on reflexes, rhythm and observation, are as good as ever if not better this time around and the game uses almost every 3DS’s knick-knacks like touch controls, gyro controls and even makes great use of stereoscopic display. But, on the other hand, the game is way too long for its own good, with portions of the game dragging for no apparent reason other than adding to the longevity of the title and it didn’t help the story was way less interesting and funny than the previous entries. It took me almost 40 hours to get through it, ignoring some side quests and collectibles, but I would have had the same satisfaction with half of the time spent with the game.
I played through Gone Home in a single sitting. I had no idea what to expect, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s a story-based exploration game talking about themes rarely touched on in video games. That might sound pretentious, but the game isn’t at all. I grabbed it for $5 during the Steam Thanksgiving sale. If the normal $20 price is too much for you, at least give it a try when it inevitably goes on sale again around Christmas.
I also completed The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the first time by playing its HD remaster on Wii U. The game is excellent and could easily pass as a new game released in 2013. It hasn’t aged at all: the visual is still gorgeous (while some people complained about the reworked lighting, I loved it) and the gameplay doesn’t feel dated a bit. I would probably not count it among my favorite Zelda games as there’s too much filler for my taste, but I still think it’s an exceptional game. The Wii U extras make it even better, especially the map on the controller that makes it way more convenient to navigate and discover sunken treasures quickly.
Finally, I played the Metal Gear Rising DLCs (meh, way too much recycled content and the new characters aren’t that fun to control) as they were free, The Walking Dead: 400 Days (good appetizer for the new season starting this month!), quite a lot of Nintendo Land and Game & Wario in multiplayer (fun!), and I started The Last of Us (more on that next month!).
And you, what have you been playing?