Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Half-hour Hitbox: December 2013

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Some inside baseball: I put this post together piecemeal across the whole month. That means that when I play a game and find myself not interested in writing a large post about it–or suspect that I won’t down the line–I add it here, find a picture, and write a quick sentence or two about it. Alas, sometimes I don’t do that last part though, as I’m just not in the mood at that exact moment, and so I’ll have to come back to it, which can be hard, especially for smaller experiences, such as Isaac’s Odyssey, a game I am finding it hard to remember what happened, save for the atrocious grammar I had to read.

Truthfully, I’d rather put this all together in one go, to keep the writing thematic and consistent, but that seems like an impossible task. I get exhausted just searching for Google for decent screenshots. And then there’s too much to juggle in terms of what each game is and does, and I’d be super worried I’d forget something. I want to be able to give everything its due, y’know.

Maybe I will rethink how The Half-hour Hitbox looks for 2014, but for now, let’s end the last month of the year as we have with all the months that came before it since this feature began. To the games!

Oíche Mhaith

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What a horrifying experience. I’m not even sure how it qualifies as a game because all you basically do, as a young girl, is walk around your house, get berated by everyone, watch your father go on a murdering spree, and then play with some strange device that allows you to swap personalities between your father, mother, and dog in hopes of making everything right. We’ve already seen the darker side of Terry Cavanagh’s mind in Hero’s Adventure, but this goes nineteen levels deeper, and I’m very put off. You might get more out of this than I did, but if you do, well…I’m now concerned for your state of being.

Annie Android: Automated Affection

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Evidently, one of the first little games Ben Chandler ever made, and it certainly is little. I mean, like a resolution size of 320X200. I had to tinker with my computer to make it larger so I could actually read the text and find items, but it still looked good to me. It’s about an android called Annie and the love she wants, which is a fella called Mailbot. Unfortunately, RoboHQ has assigned her someone else as a partner, and off she goes, to control her destiny. It’s pretty fun with some silly characters, like the robot pretending to walk the dog in the park, and the puzzles aren’t too tough, though one required precise timing, and sometimes my clicks missed the mark. An 80s-esque soundtrack full of bumps and thumps plays in the background, and there’s even vocals for the title screen song. You can download the game right now.

Gears of War

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Well, I played the first Gears of War game, and I hunkered down and ran through it on the easiest of difficulty settings. Whatever, don’t judge me. Or you totally can. I don’t care, because I don’t really care about Gears of Wars. It’s macho shoot alien monsters in the face tough guy stuff, and all the dialogue is trite and predictable, and every male character is this unshapely mass of muscle and armor. Same goes for the Locust. In fact, on a few occasions, I mixed up one of my allies with an enemy because they look almost identical, and it’s hard to keep track of everyone when they are so drab looking and moving around an even drabber scene of ruined rubble. I was able to play a single online match–surprisingly, not many people are still playing this game despite it being a freebie for December for Gold members–and that was simply okay. Just like with Battlefield 3 over the summer, I can now confidently say that this is not my thing.

Samsara Room

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A strange, otherworldly point-and-click game that sees you traveling from one dimension to another all while still being stuck in the same room. The puzzles are intuitive enough to keep you at it, and I enjoyed how the perspective changed each time. Samsara Room‘s ending is abrupt and completely unsatisfying, but getting there is intriguing enough for me to make up my own conclusion. Plus, music by Kevin MacLeod, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite indie game composers. It’s just so relaxing.

Isaac’s Odyssey

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You are a guy trying to escape your dorm room to go to a late-night Comic-Con party. Maybe there’s some Game of Thrones actors boozing it up there or something. Isaac’s Odyssey consists of only two screens and a lot of tiny objects to find and use. It’s not bad in the gameplay department–if a bit old-school–but the writing is simply unbearable. Every sentence either contains a spelling error or strange turn of phrase, and eventually all this overtook my like for clicking on items and using them to solve puzzles. I did eventually escape the dorm room, but that’s the end of the game. Yup, you don’t even get to go to the fancy party. What a dud.

Calm Time

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Chances are, if I had known what Calm Time was ultimately going to be about before I clicked “play,” I probably would’ve skipped it. Instead, I watched in horror as a party went to shambles, and I was the driving force behind the chaos. There’s some direct storytelling here, as well as a basement full of indirect–and all of it is creepy. There’s minimal music throughout save for a creepy piano tingle and some jarring TV-like static, but less is more here, and I can honestly say that the whole experience gave me the shivers. The uncomfortable, I’m-a-monster shivers. Whether that makes Calm Time a good game or a bad game, I really don’t know.

Shoot Many Robots

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I think the name Shoot Many Robots is awesome and does a fun job of explaining exactly what you do in this wee downloadable freebie for the Xbox 360. Some levels have you going left to right, and other levels are a single room where you have to survive wave after wave of attacking robots. In short, you shoot robots. Sometimes you punch bullets, too. There’s two main weapons and different kind of backpacks to equip for your dude, which grant various bonuses, and it’s all well and good, but there isn’t much else to do otherwise. I do however enjoy the cartoony graphics and honky-tonk slash metal soundtrack.

Hero in the Ocean

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A really cute puzzler set underwater. You control a tiny, yellow submarine in search of stars–three per level–and a helpless sea-diver. Each level adds a new puzzle element, such as lasers and unlockable doors, but it’s never overwhelming. By the end, you’ll be a pro at each thing, able to swim swiftly past all the dangers and pick up those shiny trinkets. I found all 45 stars and saved everybody, so go me. Alas, there’s some clunky writing like “you found secret area,” but that can be overlooked for a solid little game that never becomes too much to handle. Plus, the single music track that keeps looping is awesome, starting off slow and somber and building into something bigger than that. In fact, I’ve been listening to it on repeat as I put this paragraph together. I also hope this isn’t taken as an insult to those that made it, but Hero in the Ocean would make a perfect mobile game, too.

Temple Run 2

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Speaking of mobile games…this kind of came out of nowhere. The day before Christmas–or was it actually on Christmas day?–Temple Run 2 was released for free on the Windows 8 phone. Mmm. I love free games, especially ones with relatively easy Achievements. And that’s what Temple Run 2 is–a fun, easy-to-pick-up endless runner with a handful of poppable Achievements and enough challenge to keep you going and try for one more run. I played this a lot during my Christmas vacation, mostly because my sister was squeezing the most out of her time with my Nintendo 3DS. It’s pretty good, though I probably couldn’t tell you the differences between this one and the original. I’ll probably end up removing both from my phone soon enough, once I’ve had my fill of running, jumping, sliding, and tilting.

The Walking Dead, Episode 1 – “All That Remains” (season 2)

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I just finished this up on Sunday and haven’t even gotten around to writing a haiku for it, but I will soon and will probably write a bigger post about the newest season and how brutal it has already started, but for recording’s sake, it’s here. I also bought the The Walking Dead‘s season 2 pass and am excited for more, if that gives you an early indication of my impressions.

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.

Most of us have Gears of War we never use

gears of war Xbox 360 final thoughts

Let me be blunt and say this: I can’t believe that Gears of War became a series, and a popular one at that. Well, according to Wikipedia, which probably needs some updating, the game has since sold over 5 million copies as of September 2008–meaning it’s probably much higher–and currently stands as the fifth best-selling Xbox 360 game. Yowza. Really? Really? Y’all on crazy pills.

Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, but it might as well be Earth. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) is a minor political party there, and its soldiers are called gears, despite the obvious coggers sounds a whole lot cooler. The Locust, an alien race, suddenly attacks humanity, a day infamously known as E-Day, and the COG gears do what they can to ensure the survival of human civilization. Flash-forward fourteen years, and the COG is the only human government left on the planet. Former COG soldier Marcus Fenix is reinstated into the military after spending some years in prison for abandoning his military post for…personal reasons. His friend Dominic “Dom” Santiago successfully extracts Fenix from prison, reuniting him with the rest of the Delta Squad in hopes of finding a special device that will help eradicate the Locust’s underground caverns.

So…more or less, the film version of Starship Troopers. Which should not be a problem for me, as I actively enjoy both the film and Robert A. Heinlein’s futuristic military YA romp where soldiers with guns shoot opposing alien bugs. Yes, even the chapters devoted to simply describing powered armor. Alas, Gears of War, despite that grandiose plot summary, is devoid of life, character, characters, and details to make everything greatly interesting.

Right. Let’s do this. I played through Gears of War over the course of several sittings and on the lowest difficulty setting of Casual. It’s highly linear despite the occasional choice of going left or going right, and you, as Fenix, move forward, hide behind shattered walls and car husks, and peek out to shoot at alien monsters also doing the same thing. Once all the shooting is done, you’ll get some story beats, with either a cutscene or Fenix listening to someone tell him what to do via an earpiece. Basically, it’s all about moving forward, finding other members of the Delta Squad–who are constantly getting split up so that it can be just you and one other dude for co-op reasons–eventually leading to Fenix returning to his father’s house to find something a potent anti-Locust weapon. Somewhere in the middle of all that there’s a single vehicle mission, which has you driving and shooting light via a turret at Kryll, highly aggressive flying carnivores that thrive in the darkness. Throw in a couple of boss fights, a few of which don’t actually have you fighting something directly, and that’s the game in a nutshell, replete with a tease for more to come.

Ugh, I don’t know. I just found the entire campaign to be a hollow experience. Fenix and his fellow men are simply big shoulders and massive arm muscles that occasionally grunt and ask a question or make an action movie-like one-liner, but never strive to be real. Fenix, especially. I couldn’t care one bit about him because he just comes across as a brooding mass that refuses to say anything. This was especially apparent when we get to the part where he returns to his family’s home, which is being destroyed by the Locust, and there isn’t a single comment from him. Like, come on. Emote. Be a human being. But no, this is machoism all over again and shares the same problems I saw in Vanquish.

Here, have some positive talk. My favorite thing about Gears of War is the active reload. When you reload your weapon, you have a split-hair second chance to hit the button again and have your gun immediately back in action with a full clip. If you fail this, your gun jams and it takes longer to fix. Each weapon has a different active reload bar, and it made the firefights much more exciting than they actually were, even if it was just a little mini-game between Fenix and his weaponry. I found the sniper rifle to be the trickiest to reload speedily, and that was my key to victory at the end of Act 5.

Strangely, I’m curious about Gears of War‘s higher difficulty settings–Hardcore and Insanity–though I have to imagine it results in just Fenix taking more damage faster and enemies being bigger bullet sponges. I might at least try to play Act 1 again on a higher challenge, to see what that’s all about, as Casual was very much that–an easy walk with the occasional death, mostly because I lingered too long in the open or didn’t run through the Kryll-infested darkness fast enough. I don’t expect to do very well though, but I at least want to try because immediately after that I will be uninstalling the game from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive and moving on to greener pastures. Yes, there’s the multiplayer element to consider, but I was only able to get into one match after many, many attempts, and that’s because I don’t have certain DLC that others do and man, that’s stupid. Borderlands 2 really spoiled me with those compatibility patches.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #62 – Gears of War

2013 games completed gears of war

Big, burly bro-men
Out to stop the Locust Horde
Take cover, fire

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2013

2013 top 10 games didn't play Sad-Puppy

Well, I’m not gonna deny it–this year went fast. Except for June through July, but that always seems to drag by due to non-gaming reasons I won’t get into, but otherwise, the months really did seem to slip by. This was extremely noticeable once I began to actually work at my “five games I want to beat in 2013” checklist, and it seems like I was only able to polish off three out of five: Chrono Cross, Silent Hill 2, and Primal. I’m pretty proud of that, but I probably should have started much earlier than the summer. However, I did complete a good number of games over the past three hundred and sixty-five days, and one might consider some of them big AAA titles that are probably going to be on everyone’s final praise list, such as BioShock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V, though they absolutely won’t make mine. Sorry, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is my game of the year; just deal with it.

Once more, here’s what I didn’t get to play last year, the year before that, and the year before that:

Also, do not worry: I have plenty of sad puppy photos to do this kind of post for many more years, so long as videogames keep coming out and I keep not playing ’em. That sounded more threatening than I originally wanted. But enough behind-the-scenes talk. Let’s get into the meat of this yearly post, shall we? The meaty meat, I mean.

10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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Sounds like this is a return to form, though the last Assassin’s Creed game I played was Brotherhood, so hopefully people are meaning that game. I’ve kept my distance from the franchise since then for good reasoning, as the later games have seemed repetitive, clunky, and sub-par, but I do enjoy pirates and the ship-based combat looks kind of neat. I wonder if the multiplayer is still there, as that is surprisingly an enjoyable slice of cat-and-mouse. This could be a really perfect summer time-sink for 2014, though I still also have an untouched copy of Assassin’s Creed II in my backlog to get to as well. Hmm.

9. Saints Row IV

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Originally, the Saints Row series was just another take on Grand Theft Auto, if a bit more ambitious and zany. I never got into it until Saints Row: The Third, and that was only after hearing the Giant Bomb staff praise and praise and praise it. I’m glad I finally listened to them, as I absolutely loved my role as the leader of the purple-clad gang on the rise, but I haven’t made the jump to Saints Row IV yet, as this year I gave my time and money to Grand Theft Auto V instead. I probably choose poorly. In this one, you can literally jump up to rooftops, thanks to alien superpowers. However, the console versions don’t sound up to par to the PC, but I don’t have a great gaming computer so I might just let this one slip by entirely.

8. Tomb Raider

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Here’s a little known fact about me: I’ve only played the original Tomb Raider. That’s right. Just the first one, and I remember it fondly, despite it probably aging terribly. My copy sits proudly next to Suikoden and Suikoden II. The sense of exploration was fully realized–for the time–and I loved how the game slowly revealed its supernatural hand with each level. Like Indiana Jones, a perfect mix of serious and silly. This 2013 reboot looks gritty and grimy and throws Lara in one terrible situation after the next, but sounds well done. Plus, she can use a bow for stealth kills. Mmm. Stealthy. Rhianna Pratchett wrote the script, which gives me hope that Lara, as a person, is more fleshed out here as well.

7. Rogue Legacy

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I enjoy rogue-likes because, for me, they don’t ask for much. You can do a run, and if things end terribly, then that’s it. Try again. Conversely, if you’re on a hot streak, every action, jump, and sword swing becomes stressfully vital. This is why I continue to poke at The Binding of Isaac, in hopes of hitting a lucky note and making it to Mom easily, brimming with powers and extra hearts. Alas, that’s not happened yet–but it totally could one day. Rogue Legacy seems to share a lot of that, with the neat mechanic of playing as the children of whatever character you just got killed. These kids acquire different traits–such as colorblindness and vertigo–which affects how you move through the main castle. It’ll probably end up in a Humble Bundle some time in 2014.

6. The Last of Us

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Look, I barely got through Silent Hill 2 this year. Horror-themed games are very difficult for me to keep my cool in, and it sounds like the majority of the combat scenarios have you creeping around enemies, trying not to make a sound. That sounds fine to me, actually, but the monster designs and sounds they make are very unnerving, and I just don’t think I could ever get through The Last of Us, which is a dang shame, as it certainly sounds like an amazing–if depressing–experience.

5. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

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The last Mario-based RPG I played, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, and so I remained skeptic when a new one came out, even though it lives in an entirely different franchise. However, according to some reviews, it sounded like this one was maybe too hand-holdy, which is funny because Sticker Star couldn’t lift a finger to help you out. When I bought Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, I also grabbed a used copy of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story on the Nintendo DS for free. I suspect I’ll give that one a go and if I love the mechanics and all that jazz will move on to the newer iteration.

4. Super Mario 3D World

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Super Mario 3D Land is one of the rare 3DS titles that I continue to pop back into the handheld and fart around in for a few minutes, always with the hope of earning a couple more stars. See, I’m in the post-completion content, but only halfway through it, so there’s still plenty more to see. And it sounds like Super Mario 3D World is all that and more…and on a console, which is where I’d truly rather be playing my plumber-based platformers. Throw in a silly cat theme, and I’m salivating from the mouth. Alas, no Wii U in this house, and still no interest in getting one any time soon unless there’s a big price drop or more interesting games in the pipeline. Sorry, I have no interest in the Smashing Bros.

3. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

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Love me my LEGO videogames, and I haven’t played one since LEGO Lord of the Rings, which means Tara and I are severely overdue for some co-op funtimes. Any will do, really, but I’d rather side with Iron Man and Wolverine over Batman and Superman. That’s right. I’ve always been a Marvel fan before a DC one. The formula doesn’t look to have changed one block–hub world, individual levels, a billion things to collect and unlock–but that’s okay, because at least I know what I’m getting here.

2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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The subject matter of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, two siblings on a mission to save their deathly ill father, hits a little too close to home for me, and so I doubt I’ll ever get around to playing it. It’s not a direct parallel to my life, but there are enough elements present to put more weight on my shoulders, push me closer to the ground. Yes, I suffer from depression and would rather avoid mediums that enhance my feelings of hopelessness. I do love the idea of controlling two separate players with both analog sticks, but ibb and obb showed me just how difficult this could be for my brain to wrap its mind around. Also, Ni no Kuni did it first. I suspect the Giant Bomb podcasts will end up spoiling the story’s key moments and ending.

1. Gone Home

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Sigh. My gaming laptop is really great for playing indie Flash games or point-and-click adventure games that don’t require too much in terms of software. In the past, I’ve been able to play bigger productions, like Red Faction: Armageddon, but only if I turned down every setting, and even then it’s a bit rubbish. Same goes for Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim; there is no draw distance because I can only see a few inches in front of my character. All of that is to say that I don’t think I can run Gone Home at the required settings to do it justice. Evidently, the game is loaded with high resolution posters, pictures, notes, and so on, and a big part is exploring the house and looking at stuff up close. I have no other way to play Gone Home, so hopefully it’ll come to consoles at some point, but I kind of doubt it.

Well, there you go. Or rather, there I go, not playing all these games. Of course, there’s more that didn’t make the list, such as Papers, Please and The Stanley Parable, but I had to draw a line somewhere. Given that I still haven’t played a few games from the previous lists yet–hello, Portal 2!–I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting to see me get to all of these next year. Maybe one or two. Plus a ton of older games. Can’t forget about the PS1 and PS2.

Anyways, what games did you miss out on this year? Shout ’em out in despair in the comments section below.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #61 – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

2013 games completed sly cooper thieves in time

The Cooper fam book
In peril, time-hop to fix
Collect those bottles

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

My five favorite games in 2013

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Well, it’s here. The end of the year. That special time when one sits and thinks about all the months that came before, and the interactive media that helped pass the hours, enjoyably or not. This post is about the stars, the winners, the smile-makers–not the clunkers, many of which I managed to avoid thanks to keen eyes and a tightened wallet.

As Grinding Down readers are most likely to know already, I’m not always able to play a lot of the big AAA titles that come out in over the swoosh of the past three hundred and sixty-five days, though I try now and then to at least sample a few of them. Click this very sentence for the full list of games I went through in 2013. For instance, this year, I did experience both BioShock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V, but the truth of the matter is that those two titles are, unfortunately, pretty mediocre–to me. Remember, this is my list, my favorite games that I have greatly enjoyed playing and am still playing, and I’d completely understand if you’d want to fight me tooth and nail in defense of why the combat in Infinite is more than just a means to pad out the story or why Los Santos is the most sandboxy sandbox that ever sandboxed, but your cries fall upon deaf ears. I like what I like, and there’s nothing you can do to make me swing the other way.

Fine. Let’s not dress this up any more than necessary. Without further wandering, these are my five favorite games from 2013.

Doritos Crash Course 2

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I bet you’re scratching your collective heads over this one. Number five on my list is a sponsored free-to-play sequel with microtransactions to a sponsored free-to-play side-scrolling platformer that was solid fun, but limited in variety, and you probably think that sounds absolutely terrible. Maybe in writing it does, but I can’t get over how fun running, jumping, sliding, and climbing to the end of every obstacle course is in Doritos Crash Course 2. I continue to play it and earn stars, always striving for a better time on some levels or that occasionally elusive gold medal. The game is also constantly comparing your score with those on your friends list, giving you extra incentive to do better.

Thankfully, the microtransactions are completely ignorable, though earning more stars to unlock new levels or alternate paths might feel like a grind to some, but I enjoy both racing through a course to be first and going back a second time to slowly find all the collectibles. The level designs are pretty imaginative–there’s a tropical jungle and ancient Egypt and so on–and the music that plays when you cross the finish line is catchy and forever burned in my brain. If you have an Xbox 360, this is the free game to download and devote yourself to, not Happy Wars or Ascend: Hand of Kul.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

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So far, I’ve only played Fire Emblem: Awakening once, and I suspect I will never go back to it, since I played the game with permadeath on and those that fell in battle truly fell in battle for me. That’s how my story went. Just like how I play Telltale’s The Walking Dead. In fact, I documented every death that happened–21 in total, I believe was the final count–and you can read about each sad story by sifting through this tag. I can understand why many chose not to play with permadeath on or would constantly reload a previous save if things went awry, because I ended up missing out on a lot of content by losing a good number of men and women. Mostly marriage and future kid stuff, but that element of the game is fascinating and fun, thanks to really quirky, fantastic writing. I’d have loved to see more pairings.

Strategy RPGs are very hit or miss with me, but something about the rock, paper, scissors nature of the battle system was easy to grasp, even if it could lethally bite you in the ass if you moved a flier too close to an archer. Leveling up and selecting new roles added just the perfect amount of customization that I’m always looking for, and Fire Emblem: Awakening‘s presentation, cutscenes, sound, and voice acting was beyond amazing. Really superb stuff. Just ignore the fact that nobody has feet.

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale

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Like playing a Hayao Miyazaki film. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is a small, quiet game, which ironically tells the story of giant monsters that eventually fight each other just above a rather quaint village. It’s a love letter to a childhood I imagine I had, even if I didn’t because I grew up in South Jersey, not rural Japan. There’s not a lot of game here save for collecting sparkly glims and battling friends in a card-based minigame, but, as Sohta, you’ll come to know the town and its streets rather intimately, as well as the relaxing drone of cicadas. Exploration, learning, and being a kid are the key themes here, and even when things get weird, they remain charming as heck. Absolutely the standout when it comes to Level-5’s Guild series, even if the digital dice-rolling in Crimson Shroud is freakishly satisfying. It’s not a long gaming experience, but rather a lasting one.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

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I just finished this up over the weekend, and I’m not even mad that it ends with a clunky, finger-tiring QTE. I’m not even mad, bro. Thieves in Time will stand the test of time as another great entry in the Sly Cooper series, and that’s saying a lot since it was not developed by the original creators at Sucker Punch Productions.

Sanzaru Games clearly saw what were the best elements from the original trilogy–open world, a variety of missions, fun-to-get collectibles–and added their own fancy ingredients, like ancestors with unique powers, to make a solid, time-hopping adventure. The cutesy, goofy characters and Saturday morning cartoon vibe is retained, as are Sly’s ability to climb up nearly everything and make a swift trip from rooftop to rooftop. Love it so very much. I have to still go back for some hidden treasures, but I’m kind of waiting for Giant Bomb‘s 2013 GOTY podcasts to go up, as I can do that while I listen to them argue with each other. This came out early in 2013 at a budget price, with cross-buy too for the PS Vita. However, it was unfortunately easy to miss. Glad I got to it this year.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

animal crossing new leaf woo GOTY

Hmm. Where do I begin? I guess at the beginning. I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf every day–or just about every day–since it came out. Sometimes it is only for ten minutes, which is just enough time to find fossils, hit the money rock, say hi to my favorite resident Sylvia, and visit the shop, and other times it can be around 45 minutes to an hour, where I’ll spend more time fishing or maybe visiting the summer island or just goofing off with Tara. There’s both always things to do and emergent gameplay to be found. My house is barely paid off, as I have enjoyed expanding Arni more with public projects, like building the police station, the cafe, and, most recently, the Dream Suite.

The improvements over Wild World are both extremely noticeable and great. You can now stack fruit in your inventory, select multiple fossils for Blathers to assess in one gulp, switch between tools with the d-pad, and so on. Plus, you can take screenshots and share them online on all the usual social media hotspots, which I love doing, even if they probably drive my 3DS-less sister mad with jealousy. There’s just something so amazing about a game that is more interested in constantly rewarding you for your hard work than berating you to constantly do better. With holiday events, visiting guests, and fishing/bug collecting tournaments, you’re never without something to look forward to. In fact, every Saturday night, I turn on Animal Crossing: New Leaf and go watch K.K. Slider perform to earn a new song for my astro CD player to blast out. This game is very much part of my life again, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

And there’s my list. I’m pretty pleased with it, though I do wish I had gotten to a couple other big name games–or big name indie games, if that’s a thing–in 2013. Stay tuned for that list maybe later this week. Anyways, that’s my five. What were some of your favorite games this year?

2013 Game Review Haiku, #60 – Calm Time

2013 games completed calm time

A spacious manor
Perfect for killer party
Where you’re the killer

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.