Luigi has strangely found his niche in the Mario universe as the ghostbusting, mansion tip-toeing brother. Why Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto decided to make a GameCube tech demo out of a ghostly mansion and then have it star Luigi may be a question for the ages, but 12 years later we are here with its sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS.
It’s been a decade since I played the original Luigi’s Mansion, but I remember it being a charming, if repetitive experience highlighted by Charles Martinet’s incredible voicing of a freaked out Luigi. With the Wii U in seemingly more need of quality software than the 3DS, I’m surprised some tablet-utilizing version of Dark Moon didn’t show up on the console, but the likelihood of me playing the portable version is much higher, so I personally appreciate the 3DS release. Let’s play.
It’s been a few... months since the last first hour review, but that’s okay, I’m happy with everything else I’ve been doing with my extra time, and you’re probably happy because you’re reading this and not the comment section of my Persona 3: FES review.
So while I have your attention, let’s talk quickly about Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny. Rune Factory is a shoot-off series of Harvest Moon, and I’ve talked about both sets of games quite a bit here. I’ve never really enjoyed console Harvest Moon games since the Nintendo 64, and never played the previous console Rune Factory game, so I decided to take a chance and try out Tides of Destiny for the PlayStation 3 (also available on the Wii). Honestly, part of me just wanted a game I could play in front of the kids since Uncharted 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4 don’t go over very well.
This will be an incredibly informal first hour, as I didn’t even bother to take notes, but I suppose if you’re looking for a formal first hour review you would have gone somewhere else a long time ago.
I've been distracted by life's other bits the last couple of weeks, but there's pretty much always time to play games on my phone. I’ll spend a minute writing about each game, hopefully summarizing my thoughts as quickly as if I were telling you about a mobile game in person.
I covered Super Hexagon last go around, and have since played it on the PC, and I have to say the experience is a lot better on the big screen. It's definitely fun on the go, but I managed to reach 60 seconds on Hard on my second attempt using my keyboard.
I used to write reviews on nearly every Android or IOS game I spent more than an hour on, but I’ve fallen behind lately, so here's my first round at some reviews. I’ll spend a minute writing about each game, hopefully summarizing my thoughts as quickly as if I were telling you about a mobile game in person.
I’ve had my PlayStation 3 over a year now, and during that time I’ve enjoyed Heavy Rain, Infamous, and Uncharted, but the game that I’ve had the best time with is Valkyria Chronicles. I hadn’t even heard of the game until a friend shoved it in my hands, and it ended up being my First Hour of the Year and now my favorite game on the platform.
Valkyria Chronicles is nearly a perfect execution of all aspects of a video game. The gameplay is a fun and addicting mix of strategy and action, the graphics have a lovely anime-style to them, the presentation is flawless, the story is an interesting riff on World War I, the voice acting is actually great most of the time, and the soundtrack has a grand bluster to it that makes everything else better. And to top it all off, Valkyria Chronicles was developed by Sega. Sega!
I will admit, the game took me quite a long time to beat, over six months with about 40 hours of actual gaming (I’ve put more time than that into Xenoblade Chronicles in the last month). It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the game, but because Valkyria Chronicles seemed to require a certain amount of minimum playtime to really get into it. Even one hour free didn’t feel like enough for one sitting. Weird how that is for some types of games.
I loved Borderlands 1, but was always little cool on its downloadable content. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was a tedious addition with boring enemies, and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot was just an endless barrage of arena battles, better tuned for testing weapons out than actually having fun. So while I also loved Borderlands 2, I was very leery about its additional content available for purchase.
But Nate treated me to the season pass, and a few weekends ago Steve and I took down the first DLC released, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty (there’s a pun in there somewhere). Turns out this release is a much more traditional release featuring a half dozen new zones, a bunch of new enemies, over 20 new missions, a new vehicle, and at least one raid boss (okay, there’s two, but we couldn’t beat the first one).
There’s honestly a ton of content here for a DLC, it probably took us about five hours to reach the first raid boss and lose to him a couple of times, so you’ll certainly feel like you got your money’s worth. But at the same time, it’s kind of a slog. All the new missions are self contained in the new Oasis zones so there’s a ton of backtracking and retreading ground. The central hub is also kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and if it wasn’t for the new skiff, would be exceedingly obnoxious to get to. This is one of those cases where there just might be too much.
So many video game movies are such serious affairs. Not so much serious as in humorless conversions (though those certainly exist), but serious as in serious business: the producer stands by checking off things that will make a successful video game a successful video game movie. Hitman, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Doom, the list goes on. And generally these fall flat, they don’t ring true to the built-in gamer audience and they certainly don’t draw in regular movie-goers.
I recently rewatched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which isn’t really a video game movie, but thanks to a snappy script filled with gaming references and action scenes that pay homage to the 8-bit classics of our youth, it bucks the system. Instead of a video game based in reality, Scott Pilgrim is reality based in a video game. This idea inspired me to find at least one other entry in this genre, and I discovered Video Game High School.
You get what you expect in Video Game High School: a high school about video games. Set in a world where e-sports make headline news and its players are superstars and celebrities, VGHS imagines a Hogwarts-like school where potential prodigies are invited to learn about music games and try out for FPS Varsity. While not as sharply written or acted as Scott Pilgrim, it still manages to be a really fun two hours.
My writing pace has slowed to a halt the last month. I might have burned myself out a bit at the end of 2012, and the new year has allowed me to erase any kind of guidelines or deadlines I was imposing on myself. With Nate and the other writers’ help, I always tried to publish three times a week, but I’ll be honest and say it’s just not in me like it used to be. Maybe it’s temporary, it probably is, but for now, I don’t mind taking it a bit easier. This is my hobby after all.
And most of that time not spent writing has gone into video games! Yeah, those! (Also reading, a lot of reading.) Maybe I’ll declare 2013 the year of the catch up, even though 80% of the games I beat last year weren’t released last year as it is. But my backlog is huge and the only game I’m really interested in on the near horizon is Bioshock Infinite, so now’s as good as time as any.
As for Deus Ex: Human Revolution? It was a good game, problematic at times, but an experience worth putting at least a few hours into, and at about 24 hours long, probably worth finishing. I’m not sure how much I have to say about it that hasn’t already been said by our own Paul Abbamondi, let alone everyone else, so I’ll keep this short and to the point... starting now.
I guess 2012 was the year of catching up. I only beat six games released last year, but nearly 20 from an earlier time. Here's my rankings for all the games I beat last year, the good news is that I at least liked almost every single one.
You can also check out last's year list.
Predictions are back! After this exhausting 2012 Game of the Year week, let's settle into something a little more fun. 2013 could be a huge year for the gaming industry: a new PlayStation and Xbox are likely, the Wii U is just getting off the ground, and the fabled Steam Box could become a reality. Bask in our probably terrible predictions on release dates, exclusive games, and even price of new systems!
There's no science to any of this, and if you have your own predictions feel free to post them in the comments. Depending on how right or wrong we are we may revisit our foresights at the end of 2013, it could be entertaining.