As you may have realized by now, I play a lot of video games, and though it’d be fun to do quick review of the games I finished over the past year. You’ll note that these reviews are all largely positive. That’s because I’m picky about the game I play, and if I don’t like a game, I don’t finish it 🙂
I’ve been playing Zelda games for twenty years and it’s hard for one to disappoint. That said, I loved the dark aesthetic of Twilight Princess (not to mention wolf Link!) and was disappointed they were going back to a more cartoony look. I got over it. Excellent game play, fun, inventive dungeons with great boss fights, and the first game to convince me the Wii-mote was more than a glorified controller – too bad it didn’t happen till the end of the Wii’s life-cycle. My only complaint was difficulty – I wished the puzzles had gotten harder in the last couple dungeons, but interestingly enough the only time I got really stuck was in the fourth dungeon.
I first heard of this game when I watched Indy Game: The movie. The game’s creator, Phil Fish, said without hyperbole he would kill himself if the game didn’t come out. Fortunately for us all, it did. Fez is wonderful, combining exploration with challenging, ambient puzzle-solving. Some of the harder puzzles are overly obscure, but no doubt there are fans for that type of thing and I’m glad there’s a game that caters to it. The ‘2d guy in a 3d world’ theme is carried out brilliantly. Amazing that a game developed by only a couple guys can achieve such a powerful sense of wonder.
Diablo 3 has taken a lot of heat online for numerous reasons. My only comment is I played for approximately 12 hours straight on release day on a stream with my friend Sean “Day” Plott, and wanted to play more when I was done. Note that my average gaming sessions is about an hour. The game isn’t perfect – the plot’s disappointingly shallow and looting wasn’t as interesting as Diablo 2 – but the sheer joy of killing monsters makes up for it all.
New Super Mario Bros 2
Formulaic to the point of frustration it might be, but it’s a 2D Mario game and it’s impossible for that not to be fun. Unlike the premiere games (Sunshine, Galaxy), the New Super Mario Bros series seems almost aggressively traditional. I’d like to see cooler power-ups, more varied level design, harder hidden coins, and better bosses. But here’s the truth – they could be doing the exact same thing twenty years from now, and I’ll still be playing them. It’s a fun game and worth the money and time.
This game didn’t appear on my radar till a month after it had come out. My boss at work kept talking about how good it was. I’d seen some screenshots and wasn’t sold – the graphical style didn’t seem to appeal to me. Boy was I glad to be wrong here; I picked it up on a whim and was blown away, not only by the graphics (which are simply lovely in motion), but by the game-play as well. This game is hard; some levels even reach Super Meat Boy levels of frustration. No platformer can get away with that without flawless controls, and Rayman Origins delivers. Also, there’s the music. (LINK).
Max Payne 3
Didn’t play the first two in the series; bought the third on the strength of reviews and that I wanted to shoot some bad guys. Game delivered and had a surprisingly enjoyable storyline to go with it. The ‘matrix’ style mechanics are fun and well-executed, as is the graphic-novel aesthetic.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
I’ll be honest; I really, really liked Final Fantasy XII. I liked the open zones and the combat. XIII decided to do away with that and go back to ‘hallway with a boss’. Worse, more than one zone was an actual hallway. The one open zone was well-enough received that the sequel, XIII-2, was built with at least some exploration possible. That along with some enhancements to the battle system and the addition of a Pokémon-like monster capture mechanic made this game a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it and would happily recommend it even to those who did not like the first one.
There was a deluge of great games this fall. Largely due to World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, I haven’t beaten most of them, but the good news is I’ll have plenty to do next year, not to mention I’ve got the Wii U pre-ordered solely for New Super Mario Bros U.
This week’s video is a very silly song by a capella group Da Vinci’s Notebook, in the style of classic folk song “The Fox”. It’s strangely addictive 😉