Monday, November 30, 2015

[REVIEW] The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Played on: Playstation 4
Genre: Action RPG 
Developer / Publisher: CD Projekt

I think it's fair to say that the Western open-world genre has become quite formulaic over the years. Yet, with The Witcher 3, developer CD Projekt Red proves that it's still possible to have a seriously amazing experience without necessarily innovating the genre's tried-and-true foundations.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

[REVIEW] The Last of Us Remastered (PS4)

The Last of Us Remastered
Played on: Playstation 4
Genre: Action-adventure, survival horror
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

There are often times when I can't, for the life of me, understand why everyone in the western part of our world drools over a particular game. I believe there's no better example for this than The Last of Us, a title that got tens all around and was praised for its supposedly incredible storyline. Even though I had experienced several sections of the game on a friend's PS3, the PS4 was my first chance to try it for real, and I walked away sorely unimpressed.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

[REVIEW] Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)

Grand Theft Auto V
Played on: Playstation 4
Genre: Open-world action-adventure
Developer / Publisher: Rockstar

Friday, October 16, 2015

[REVIEW] Year Walk

Year Walk
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Adventure, Horror
Developer: Simogo / Dakko Dakko
Publisher: Simogo

[REVIEW] Legend of Kay: Anniversary

Legend of Kay: Anniversary
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Action-adventure, 3D Platformer
Developer: Neon Studios
Publisher: Nordic Games

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

[REVIEW] Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Level editor, 2D Platformer
Developer / Publisher: Nintendo

That Friday, I went to work knowing it was gonna be tough to get through the day. Whatever day job tasks I had in front of me, I could only focus on one thing: the Mega Man-themed level I was going to make when I got out of work, bought my shiny new copy of Super Mario Maker, and scurried home. That's the kind of thing Super Mario Maker does to you: the very idea of such a game-slash-development-tool, a first in the Mario franchise, and quite likely the defining Wii U gamepad-centric title, is enough to inspire obsession.

Monday, September 14, 2015

[REVIEW] Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines
Platform: PC
Genre: City simulation
Developer: Colossal Order
Publisher: Paradox Entertainment

Back in 1996, a cousin introduced me to the first SimCity, and it just blew my mind. I was accustomed to games being fairly linear affairs, giving the player a lot of tightly orchestrated fun but very little control. In time I moved my strategy PC gaming from city simulation to stuff like Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic, in no small part because, after SimCity 2000, most games in the genre failed to really entice me in a big way. Cities Skylines, however, managed to rekindle the proverbial spark, especially because developer Colossal Order seems hellbent on undoing all the damage done by EA's immensely disappointing SimCity reboot a few years back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[REVIEW] Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle

Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle
Played on: 3DS
Genre: Strategy RPG
Developer: Rideon, Inc
Publisher: CIRCLE

3DS-owning fans of strategy RPGs have a cool new way to scratch that waiting-for-Fire-Emblem-Fates itch: Mercenaries Saga 2, a well-designed little package that's as addictive as one would hope for an entry in the genre. Better yet, it's a title that's as large in gameplay time as it is cheap to get.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

[REVIEW] Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Open-world action-adventure
Developer / Publisher: Ubisoft

Nintendo has a well known modus operandi, choosing to pave its own way rather than follow industry trends. For the most part, this is precisely what has kept me so interested in the brand over the years, although there is a particular trend I wish they'd show more interest in: open-world gameplay. Sadly, Wii U has seen only a few such games, meaning the existence of Watch Dogs, which is supposed to be Ubisoft very last non-casual offering on the platform, is welcome.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[REVIEW] Splatoon

Played on: Wii U
Genre: Third-person shooter, 3D platformer
Developer / Publisher: Nintendo

I have something to confess: I'm not big on online multiplayer. The lack of face-to-face interaction generally means I simply don't have as much fun as when I gather friends on my living room to play, for example, extended sessions of Super Smash Bros. What I am big on, however, is great gameplay, and in that regard Splatoon made me a believer. Thirty-five hours in, I'm utterly enthralled by its endless stream of addictive three-minute ink-shooting matches, and I'm convinced this new franchise is going to be a massive player in the Nintendo IP roster going forward.

Monday, June 8, 2015

[REVIEW] Don't Starve: Giant Edition

Don't Starve: Giant Edition
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Action-adventure, sandbox, survival
Developer: Klei Entertainment

Originally released for PC two years ago (and, subsequently, for the Playstation 4 and Vita), Don't Starve is a gem of a game that stands as one of the most unique titles in the Wii U e-Shop. From the get-go, it drops the player into a Tim Burton-esque fantasy wilderness filled with resources, animals, monsters, and what seems like an endless string of open-ended gameplay possibilities. Your goal is to find a way survive, one day at a time, and perhaps some day build your very own one-man empire to rule these lands. Before that, though you'll die. A lot.

Friday, June 5, 2015

[REVIEW] The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Played on: 3DS 
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer: Grezzo / Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

If you ask any seasoned Zelda veteran to name the most unique entry in the series, Majora's Mask is likely to be their choice. The original Nintendo 64 version followed in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time, which was a pioneer of 3D exploration and is to this day considered one of the most important games of all time. This makes Nintendo's decision to go fresh here even bolder, and the resulting title will, at many times, make you wish more developers followed this philosophy more often.

Monday, May 11, 2015

[REVIEW] Donkey Kong 64

Donkey Kong 64
Played on: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Originally available on: Nintendo 64
Genre: 3D platformer, collect-a-thon
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo

The epic adventures of the Kong family were Nintendo's last trump card for the 16-bit generation. As such, it was pretty obvious they would eventually get a 64-bit outing. Rather than rest on its laurels, though, developer Rare decided to take the series into a bold new direction, and the result is probably the most hardcore 3D collect-a-thon game there ever was. Given that collecting stuff in video games is a passion first instilled in me by the Donkey Kong Country series on the SNES, the prospect of an open-world, 3D, fully explorable DK Isle with collectibles galore sounds like heaven. A few significant flaws aside, that's exactly what it felt like throughout my adventure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[REVIEW] Elliot Quest

Elliot Quest
Played on: Wii U (e-Shop)
Genre: 2D platformer, open-world adventure
Developer: Ansimuz Games
Publisher: PlayEveryWare

Recently, I decided to give another try to Zelda II: Adventure of Link, the NES game which took the beloved series in an interesting new direction. Sadly, I realized there was a small detail I had forgotten since I played it as a kid: the game is frustratingly, unfairly difficult, even with the advent of save states. I still love its structure, however, so I was quite pleased by the announcement of Elliot Quest, a game directly inspired by Link's second 8-bit outing. After playing it for much longer than I anticipated (over 20 hours), I was left pleasantly surprised by the sheer quality of its design.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[REVIEW] Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble

 Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble
Played on: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Originally available on: SNES
Genre: 2D platformer
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo   

The third Donkey Kong Country game for the SNES is truly the end of an era. This is because it's not only the final entry in this beloved series up until Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, but also the last major first-party release for the SNES, in an era when Nintendo's (and Rare's) attention was finally shifting to the N64. It follows in the footsteps of its predecessors when it comes to pleasant and challenging platforming, but also introduces neat new ideas to the formula.

Friday, March 6, 2015

[REVIEW] Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Played on: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Originally available on: SNES
Genre: 2D platformer
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo   

So, what do you do when you release a game that turns out to be one of the defining killer apps for an entire console generation? For good old Rare of the nineties, you immediately start working on a sequel to improve every single aspect of the original. This is pretty much Donkey Kong Country 2 in a nutshell: a bolder, prettier and significantly better-designed follow-up that is breathtaking in its restlessness to set the standard of unforgettable 2D platforming.

Monday, March 2, 2015

[REVIEW] Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country
Played on: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Originally available on: SNES
Genre: 2D platformer
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo 

As impossible as it may have seemed a year ago, the original SNES Donkey Kong Country trilogy was finally released on the Wii U Virtual Console. This should be great news for fans of platforming, as the series is certainly one of the most memorable the genre has ever produced. It all started with this title, which was a very big deal when it was released back in the latter half of the SNES's lifetime, helping that console to establish its ultimate leadership over the Mega Drive (a.k.a. Sega Genesis) in the console wars of the time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

[REVIEW] Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Played on: Wii U
Genre: 3D puzzle platformer
Developer: Nintendo / 1-Up Studio 
Publisher: Nintendo

One of Nintendo's surprise reveals during E3 2014, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes the adorable character (along with the even more adorable Toadette) through dozens of diorama-like stages in search of coins, golden mushrooms and golden stars. It's easy to think the game is merely more of the same puzzle action seen on the special stages in Super Mario 3D World, but if you do, you'll have another thing coming.

It's on like... you know how it goes.

It seems Nintendo of America has finally wised up and is releasing the original SNES Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Wii U Virtual Console. This is awesome for a number of reasons: first, because it's one of my favorite gaming trilogies of all time (a tradition that continues to this day, given that I just elected Tropical Freeze as my favorite game of 2014), and it placed highly on my Virtual Console wishlist last year. Secondly, because it just dawned on me that I'll get to review them here, and the prospect of putting my love for the franchise in words fills me with joy. And finally, for a less selfish reason: I love that people who weren't gaming back then will be able to experience these games for the first time.

And yeah, now my afternoon at work is going to be that much harder to bear. Long live, DK.

Monday, February 23, 2015

[REVIEW] Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

 Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Metroidvania platformer, puzzle platformer
Developer / Publisher: Curve Digital

You're supposed to be a mindless clone inside a huge, mysterious facility. But, as luck would have it, you ended up defective in a crucial way: yearning for your freedom. This is the rather intriguing premise for Stealth Inc. 2, a sprawling Wii U-exclusive platformer that mixes metroidvania exploration with focused, self-contained (and sometimes super-hard) puzzle levels.

Friday, February 20, 2015

[REVIEW] Gunman Clive 2

Gunman Clive 2
Played on: 3DS
Genre: 2D platformer
Developer / Publisher: Höberg Productions

The first Gunman Clive was a pleasant surprise on the 3DS e-Shop, with its peculiar aesthetics, tight platforming, and budget price point. This sequel is everything a fan of the original could hope for, keeping what worked and bringing about some excellent new features.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

[REVIEW] Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Played on: Wii U (e-Shop)
Also available on: 3DS
Genre: Metroidvania platformer
Developer: WayForward / IntiCreates
Publisher: WayForward

WayForward’s Shantae is one of those series I’ve heard a lot of good things about over the years, but never actually got to play until now. Luckily for me, it seems Pirate’s Curse is the most ambitious game in the franchise so far, with a vast archipelago of quasi-seamless, differently-themed islands to explore. It’s one of those games that manage to strike the elusive balance between tight platforming, exciting exploration, and a very fair difficulty curve.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Game of the Year: My Five Favorites of 2014

I've been meaning to write this one for a while now, but there were still a few games I wanted to try beforehand. Now that I've gone through most of them (reviews forthcoming, too), I feel much better about committing to a top 5.

So, here they are: my favorite games initially released in 2014.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

[REVIEW] Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Platform: Wii U (e-Shop)
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Sora Ltd. / Bandai Namco
Publisher: Nintendo

So here we are: over fifteen years after its debut on the Nintendo 64, Super Smash Bros. went from interesting oddity to one of gaming's premier franchises. As expected, this Wii U version is a collection of superlatives: Smash never looked better, never featured so many characters, never offered so many gameplay modes, and (perhaps most importantly) was never quite as crazy as it is here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

[REVIEW] Game of Thrones Episode One: Iron From Ice

Game of Thrones Episode One: Iron From Ice
Platform: PC
Genre: Point-and-click adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games

Based on George R. R. Martin’s seminal A Song of Ice and Fire book series, HBO’s Game of Thrones has been one of the main players in the pop culture of this decade. As any gaming fanatic would realize, Martin’s expansive world, with richly detailed lore and intricate plot lines, would be a perfect setting for a Skyrim-like type of open-world video game. We’ve yet to get something like that, but in the meantime Telltale Games is giving the series its already traditional choose-your-own-adventure treatment. The result should be pleasant for fans of the show, even if there are pitfalls along the way.