What I experienced instead was a not-infrequent fury that a game could so thoroughly botch precision controls, while trolling you with a presentation designed to lull you into a meditative state, then punishing you for not being able to focus on precise tasks, over and over and over again.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! does a great job of managing and working with the story, characters, and feel of the franchise, but unfortunately doesn't have the gameplay to match, especially at a $40 retail price.
I had a good time with Star Fox Zero, but it feels like a game whose design is built on contradictions; the desire to have the new targeting control, but with the classic Arwing gameplay keeps both from being entirely functional. It prizes arcade-style progression, but lacks modern concessions for console titles, like adequate checkpoints or multiple difficulty levels. It's at its best when it diverges from traditional gameplay, but does so only fleetingly, as if its scared to commit to different experiences. This mix of playing it safe, relying too heavily on old-school conventions, while also pushing a control scheme that doesn't quite match, makes the points where it works glorious, but only fleetingly fun.
Bound By Flame is a frustrating game to write about as it is frustrating to play. It's not a terrible game, though, but an uneven one that could have used a lot of extra development time. It prizes the idea that you can play your own way, but it is heavily biased toward one style.
LittleBigPlanet 3 is a great creative experience packaged with an unfortunate single-player experience as its forward-facing section and buggy co-op play, both which significantly hamper what is otherwise an excellent creative experience and game-design as play.
While this allows for an interesting look at a cross section of Japanese gaming culture, and its creators' views on gender and gaming demographics (with which there may be a problematic relationship for more progressive Western gamers), it doesn't necessarily make for the best game. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is fantastic if your interest is learning what happened to some of the characters between Danganronpa 1 and 2, but as a third-person shooter it's only generally passable but not particularly engaging. Though fans of the series will find a lot to love in the story, it has a particular niche appeal (and I really adored it), but as a complete gameplay experience, it isn't for everyone.
Currently available at $8.99 on the 3DS e-store, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure felt a little light to me at first, as there aren't nearly as many Miracle Cure advanced puzzle levels as I'd like to flesh it out. However, Virus Buster is the surprising highlight of the game (but doesn't include any of the Miracle Cure capsules) and offers a new gameplay take on the classic puzzler that allows for experimentation and improvisation. It's also certainly worth a buy if you're into Dr. Mario multiplayer, where it can be played locally or online with a ranking system.
In that sense, as a stand-alone title Fire Emblem: Fates: Birthright is not a particularly good game, though it's not a bad one either. It's an above-average tactical RPG with excellent production value and moderately good gameplay scenarios, but it feels surprisingly one-note and dissatisfying if taken on its own merits as a self-contained game.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is an odd game, a semi-successful title that achieves a lot of success in its different elements but fails to come together as a cohesive title. Where gameplay is good, it's got subtle strengths and intense engagement. Where it's bad it borders on game-breaking design, likesome of those Toad-capturing sections, and RPG-lite mediocrity. Hopefully, the game is representative of growing pains for the series.
Warframe, which has been out for PC since March, is free-to-play on the PS4, and in spite of its bugs, is worth the no-cost price. Playstation Plus members get a free starter pack, but beware that it will get you used to how seductive the ease of purchases with platinum can be.
Contrast is best when the story and the puzzles complement each other, like the platforming sections of the Lighthouse later in the game. Though short, Contrast can be replayed to get all the collectibles and is worth a look for the way the story and gameplay integrate, even if at times it's a little rough around the edges.
For its price, Strider has great value, especially if you can switch gears towards being more exploratory at the end. Otherwise, it's frustrating as heck to have the difficulty curve go from playing tag with some school chums, to enemies darting for your throat with the gnashing of werewolf-like fangs for your body's fleshy sustenance. Ninjas are lean meat, after all.
What this all makes for is a much tighter and more precisely balanced game than Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, where decisions matter, even in Casual mode. The story in Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is stronger, but still feels somewhat like filler meant to set up the true narrative to be revealed in Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation. While this feels like a vastly superior game, it also feels very much like part-two of three, in a three-part title. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is an excellent, challenging SRPG that requires a great deal of forethought and precision, rewarding the player for hard choices, and keeping your characters in play. While the story is stronger with more engaging characters, it still feels like another "bad ending" setting up the player to have to purchase the third campaign when it releases in March.
The first episode of Hitman is a solid starting point for the full game content, which is Contract-driven, with each environment focusing on a single mission with multiple objectives. This is a solid structure for the franchise, even if it's a little jarring to finish the first mission and realize you have to wait for the rest of what would have been released as a complete title.