Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Year of Gaming (2012) - Part 2

Just get here? Part one is this way.

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) - It's no Mario Galaxy, but it's dang good. The levels range from easy to challenging, even for an experienced player. Even though beating everything as both Mario and Luigi and getting the top of the flag on every level to unlock the very last level is a bit of a cheap way to add replay value, it's fun enough that you probably won't mind. I also appreciated the addition of a record of your fastest time in each level.

Mario Kart 7 (3DS) - The tracks and racing are as fun as always but this game was clearly rushed. Single player consists exclusively of Grand Prix and Time Trials and doesn't offer much incentive to even do those. Playing online is a step above Mario Kart DS and offers more options than usual, but obvious and simple omissions of certain improvements are a bit frustrating. It's still fun, but I was disappointed at how the game seemed willing to settle for being average.

Kirby Air Ride (GCN) - I keep coming back to this game every couple years because it is just so darn fun. It's got three modes, and though they aren't exactly bursting with content, the achievement checklist gives you a lot to try for. The core gameplay is so addicting and enjoyable that I'm sure it's a game I'll keep coming back to in the future as well. Check out my full review of it here.

Mario Party 4, 5 (GCN) - For a couple weeks my friends and I got back into Mario Party and had some pretty epic games. When I was younger, I thought Mario Party was all about the minigames, but now I know that the most interesting things go down on the board itself. If I had to choose between Mario Party 4 and 5, I think I'd have to go with 4, only because the capsules in 5 can make things a bit too chaotic and even more random than usual.
Phoenix Wright: Justice for All (DS) -  I just finished this game and it's a lot like the first Phoenix Wright game, which is to say that it's awesome. Finding contradictions and presenting evidence is super satisfying and like no game I've ever played. I don't think the stories or puzzles are quite as good as those in the first one, but it's still pretty great.

Itadaki Street 2: Neon Sign wa Bara Iro ni (SNES) - This game was so unexpectedly fun that my friends and I played it for seven hours straight the first time we played. Basically, it's Monopoly with a stock market and more strategy. But it's more fun than that sounds. Check out the full review here.

Pokemon Black Version 2 (DS) - Pokemon just keeps getting better. Black 2 is loaded with content and the same great Pokemon battle system. Anyone who says that anything past the first generation sucks is just plain wrong. Black 2 and White 2 still aren't perfect, but they're getting pretty close.

Super Street Fighter IV (PS3) - I want to be good at this game, and it is pretty fun even without being good, but I can't think of any reason why the traditional fighting game controls which hinder me so should still be ok in modern gaming. There's nothing intuitive about rotating the control stick to attack and then using completely different controls for different characters. Even though it controls better than most fighting games, I still suck at it.

Kirby's Dream Collection (Wii) - Thanks to the Kirby cupcakes my girlfriend made me and the Kirby hat she got me for my birthday, I was able to win the Kirby's Biggest Fan contest on Facebook and get this collection for free. I already owned most of the games on it, but they're all good and the new challenge stages are especially fun. I was also impressed that it included episodes from the anime series and other Kirby related videos as well. This is a compilation disk done right.

Air Fortress (NES) - This old HAL Laboratory game consists of space shooter segments and on foot segments that are pretty unique. To summarize it succinctly, you have to kill Sauron with bacon. Check out the full review and let's play videos here.

Crash Team Racing (PS1) - The same friend who bought Twisted Metal to play on my PS3 also bought CTR to play on my PS2 this year. It was still as fun as we remembered and it made me realize how much room for improvement Mario Kart 7 had in the way of things to do single player. I'd really appreciate seeing the additional challenges that each track has in CTR in modern Mario Kart games. Oh, and then we made a video.

Fortune Street (Wii) - After having played Itadaki Street and loving it, I was eager to play the first English game in the series. The core game has hardly changed since the Famicom version, which is probably good, but I was a little disappointed that other, more obvious features weren't present after so many years of sequels. Things like saving mid-game in multiplayer (which was in the SNES version), only being able to share one controller or have one per person rather than sharing two or three between four people, and no compatibility with controllers besides Wii remotes, were all frustrating little things that kept this game from being the perfect sequel that it should've been. Still, as the only English version of the game, I recommend trying it out with some friends. My friends and I have certainly had a blast this year with it.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3) - It's like an Indiana Jones movie in the form of a game. The gameplay consists of ducking behind cover and shooting, climbing on ruins, and sometimes driving vehicles (mostly jetskis). If you're into that sort of thing, you'll probably like it. The graphics are really nice too. In reality, the gameplay gets a little repetitive, but it's just short enough that you probably won't notice or mind until close to the end. Check out the full review here.

WipEout HD + Fury (PS3) - Among all the games I got for free after the PSN got hacked, I've played this the most by far. It isn't quite the same, but it's a good substitute for a modern F-Zero, especially if you add F-Zero music as your custom soundtrack. It has records for everything, lots of challenges, unlockable skins, and fun online multiplayer. WipEout HD is one of my favorite PS3 games, even after considering retail games. For fans of racing games, I highly recommend it.

Castle Crashers (PC) - I had been wanting to get this for PS3 for a while but was pleasantly surprised when a friend gifted it to me on Steam. I've yet to play it with friends, which I think would make it a whole lot more fun, but even alone it's a really enjoyable beat 'em up. The enemies and other characters are often hilarious and original, there are a fair number of moves, weapons, and characters to unlock, and being able to distribute your stats and have a helper creature are all sweet things that make this game special. If played with a group of friends, I'm sure Castle Crashers would be even more of a blast.

The Binding of Isaac (PC) - The themes and art direction of this game are either extremely sacrilegious or an extremely realistic depiction of what it'd look like if the depths of hell resided in one's basement. With that aside, I can't get enough of randomly generated dungeon crawlers so I'm loving this one. It's always interesting to see what things you'll find on the next playthrough and to figure out how to use them effectively. I haven't actually beaten the game yet, but it always feels like I could on the next attempt and that's what makes it so addicting. It even has multiple characters and challenge modes in addition to all the hidden items, so I'm amazed that at full price it's still only $5.

Playstation All-stars: Battle Royale (PS3) - The beta was too much fun; I had to request this as a Christmas present. Luckily, the full game is even more fun and has a decent amount of things to do for completionists (but don't expect to get a trophy for anything but the easiest of it). The only thing PlayStation All-Stars has in common with Super Smash Bros. is that it has characters from a variety of games and that the controls are similar. I stand by my opinion that the Smash Bros. engine is better designed and has more depth overall, but that doesn't mean that I think PlayStation All-Stars isn't fun. It's one of the most fun games I've played in a while and I think I'll be playing it for a long time.

There are also a couple games that didn't fall in any particular point in the year because I play them regularly throughout the year, every year. Those games are:

Audiosurf (PC) - Whenever I get new music, I like to play it in Audiosurf. It's more of a puzzle game than a rhythm game and it generates the falling tiles and track based on the song you play. There are a variety of vehicles that change the gameplay a little, so if you don't like the puzzle-style gameplay you can opt for simply dodging everything instead. Perhaps my favorite thing about Audiosurf though is that every song has an online high score list for each difficulty, so you can always feel like you're a winner by playing obscure songs that only a few others have played before you. Even without going for high scores, it's fun just to ride your music.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (with Brawl+) (Wii) - The Super Smash Bros. series is probably my favorite series in gaming history. While none of the games are what I'd describe as the perfect game, they remain fun to play even years after their releases. In the case of Brawl, many were disappointed by the changes that made it more floaty, defense-oriented, and of course, the addition of tripping. I honestly still thought it was an improvement over Melee in spite of all that, but now there's a way to make it even better: hacks. Lately Project M has gotten relatively famous, but there are a few other sets of hacks that also aim to balance and tweak Brawl. The one I usually play is Brawl+, which speeds up the game and balances characters while still staying true to the original Brawl for the most part. I have no doubt that I'll continue to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl up until the sequel for Wii U comes out and perhaps even after.

Well, that's all for this year! Thanks for reading What They Call Games through the end of its first calendar year. I look forward to playing and writing about plenty of new games throughout 2013.

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