Remember: NES Remix only pretends to be a simple game. Nintendo understand the deadly allure of both nostalgia and perfection: they introduce new players to The Way Things Were; they also challenge long-time players to prove their skills. Make no false move in any given level and be granted three "rainbow stars," an award for mastery and masochism in equal measure. I've lost hours to repeated attempts at meaningless three star scores.
In this way, Mario Party 10 is the purest embodiment of an actual board game yet seen in the series. The effort may be lost on long-time fans who play a videogame version for a reason. But there is something to playing on a screen while still feeling the weight of a toy between your fingers. Maybe this is why my poor Monopoly Iron failed to move the hearts of many: It was lighter than all the rest. With computers the size of business cards and a world's information floating in something called the cloud, we crave tangible objects. Or maybe, taken over by the spirit of competitive bloodlust, it's just more fun to hurl Luigi across the room at your buddy for stealing all of your coins. Either way: Choose carefully. Mario Party just got real.
[T]hese enemies aren't simple stock obstacles, they are characters, and each has personality inscribed on its very design. There is no dialogue, no developing relationships, no other holding cell for these creatures' beings other than the way they look, move, and react. And yet each feels whole, even as it serves its sole function: to be jumped upon, avoided, or hit by a barrel.
I love the idea of games like Serial Cleaner, before this, I’d only ever seen Viscera Cleanup Detail. Where VCD followed in the footsteps of a hero, Serial Cleaner reminds me as though someone was following in the footsteps of all the carnage in games like Postal, Hotline Miami or Party Hard to bury the evidence. Unfortunately, that charm wears off quickly.
No, The Crow’s Eye didn’t turn out how I expected, and in that way I’m disappointed. As a huge fan of horror games, I was let down by The Crow’s Eye failing to live up to the horror that the teasers seemed to promise. But, I can appreciate a good puzzle game and that’s exactly what this is, and having a decent narrative is icing on the cake.
More than anything, I'd say Portal Knights felt mostly pleasant to me. A relaxing push forward, the visual asthetic along with the relatively unthreatening enemies (barring a few surprises) it seems like despite the push forward, the game is more encouraging of players willing to stop and smell the roses; and then build a huge castle on top of them.
Pushmo World is more of a great thing, and that's hard to complain about. But as the Wii U increasingly looks like a poor child captured in some mysterious restraints, I fear shiny versions from the past won't unlock these unfair shackles. Let's hope Nintendo does their best sumo-cat impression and gets to puzzle-solving like we know they can.
Scram Kitty is a game that shrugs off modern-day descriptors. It's not a throwback. It's not an open world. It's not a roguelike. There are no QTEs. No pixellated faux-8-bit art. Everything's slick and beautiful in some weird, Neo-Hanna Barbara future world of space cats and perpetual sunsets.
In an industry that so often asks you to destroy your surroundings, a game requiring you to build them up is like a glass of cool water on a hot day. But Ever Oasis is the videogame equivalent of bottled water whose label shows mountain springs even though, in truth, it's filled with local municipal tap. It's not as fancy or original as it would like you to think. But it quenches just the same.
Reminders such as “The Story So Far” descriptions are available for the forgetful among us, and the next direction to venture will often be highlighted by talkative villagers, as is the custom. Ice-covered landmasses and lava-spewing volcanoes await. Dragon Quest VII may not rewrite the history books, but if you’re in the mood to sink into a thousand page tome, and could stand to be charmed by a smiling dollop of sentient goo, you’re in the right place.
But it turns what could have been just another fantasy storyline into something closer to a puppet show. We, rapt by these figures on sticks, know it's all malarkey but can't wait to see what happens next. Even if—especially because?—we know they're all just cardboard and glue.
While the world often feels lifeless, and the combat runs on the routine side, the cast of loveable (and hateable) characters is sure to keep you locked to the screen a few hours at a time wondering where everything will lead. The game could’ve passed with the title Atelier Firis: The Mysterious Journey, because that’s exactly what it is. When I’m wrapped up with Atelier Firis, I’m likely to go back and check out the rest of the series as well and see just how we got to this point.
I’d love to have seen a more radical take on each title’s conventions in order to play a mash-up that’s truly different. As an advertisement for each legacy franchise, though, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright is a solid showcase for what both do better than any other game, if only by default.
If you’ve messed about on the Wii U game and simply need to make 2D Mario Levels on the bus or in your bathroom, the 3DS version fits the bill. Otherwise, you’ve seen most of this circus before. If, however, you have never participated in the glory that is mucking about in an interactive toolkit for one of gaming’s most revered franchises, Super Mario Maker on 3DS becomes something like an essential backpack, or deserted island, companion. Long may you run.