Monthly Update: May 2015

These monthly updates are a collection of extremely brief thoughts on the latest video games that I’m currently playing or have played in the past month. Explanation of the game’s story/gameplay are foregone in favor of quick impressions – these entries assume you have some knowledge of what the game is about, and if you want more info you can follow the included wiki link. Games are usually fairly recent although I throw a few retro games into the mix. I’ll also occasionally throw in games that I’m still playing but which I didn’t start during the month in question – for example, games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. I’ll try to do that when something else new comes out for those games to maintain relevance.

These are meant to be quick general thoughts, and not a substitute for a review. I’ve started an “enjoyment meter” where I state how much I’m enjoying the game from 1 to 10 in intervals of 0.5 – again, this is not meant to be an indicator of game quality, but just how much I enjoyed it (which I ultimately feel is the most important part of any game). I also include the price that I paid (I often buy games on sale), for those who aren’t familiar with approximate prices for each title. Finally, I designate a “Game of the Month.”

Games covered this month:
Link’s Awakening DX (3ds)
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3ds)
Home: A Unique Horror Adventure (Vita)
South Park: Stick of Truth (Xbox 360)
Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)

Game of the Month: Ori and The Blind Forest (Xbox One)

Link’s Awakening DX ($5): 9

LINKI never owned a portable console until a few years ago, so I missed this gem back when it was released. Eshop to the rescue; I picked up the updated DX version of Link’s Awakening and am glad that I took the time to revisit this excellent game.

An interesting mix of the first Zelda on NES and A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening manages to blend the two classics with little sacrifice despite its smaller platform. The world isn’t as big as either of those two titles, but it’s full of life. Link meets a large variety of inventive characters as well as classics from…a mario bros game? Wait, why are there goombas in Zelda? And Chomp Chomps?? And Shy Guys??? At first it seems like lazy game design to just use characters from another franchise, but I have to say this took me on one heck of a trip so it was worth the ride.

Strange characters don’t end with portraying Mario characters; many of the people you interact with are, well, unusually to say the least. I won’t spoil any specifics but suffice to say that I found myself shaking my head on a regular basis.

Link’s Awakening is full of surprises, from the occasional deep conversation to side scrolling sequences, and it kept me smiling throughout most of the campaign. Though I must say that one of the trading sequences had me quite frustrated; sometimes I feel those drag on too long to remain entertaining, and instead fall into aggravating.

This game never fails to lose its sense of wonder and fun, and I highly recommend taking it for a spin.

Fire Emblem: Awakening ($35): 8.5

See my article about my experiences as a Fire Emblem virgin.

Home: A Unique Horror Adventure ($1): 5

HomeAt $1, I had to give this a try, and despite the disappointing rating I’ve given it, I’m glad I did. Home is a form of visual novel that has you walking through a small variety of environments searching for the solution to your current circumstances, about which are, well, unclear. It’s something that should be experienced rather than explained in writing.

Suffice to say that it’s an interesting variation of gameplay that I haven’t really experienced before, and it’s worth checking out just to experience that alone. The game only lasts an hour, and though there is some replayability here to try and get different endings, I can’t say that I touched it again after my first playthrough.

The ending left me confused and a bit angry, and that’s not the best way to end a gaming experience. Taking a look online, it appears that the game can end in a number of different ways, but none of them looked especially satisfying.

Home had promise, and peeked my interest for the first half of the campaign, but in the end it falls flat. Worth checking out, but I wouldn’t take more than a quick dabble.

South Park: Stick of Truth ($15): 8

South-Park“Beat up all of South Park’s homeless so that they all leave and we can restore our reputation as a compassionate community.”

So nostalgic. I had a huge smile form on my mouth almost immediately after firing up the game, one which returned frequently throughout the campaign.

I used to watch South Park. A lot. I think I watched all episodes from like the first 12 seasons or something like that. But at some point, it just wasn’t as funny anymore. Not to knock those of you who are still enjoying the show; I’m sure overall it’s still well-made and witty. But I just grew away from that form of humor.

When I heard that Stick of Truth was finally going to be released, I was conflicted. I loved the show for many years, and certainly have some nostalgia for it. But did I really want to play a game where one of the main attacks is…farting on your enemies? I finally saw the game for cheap, picked it up, and played it. Despite cringing at many sequences, I have to admit: This is a great game.

If you have even a slight love for the series, give this game a try. The level of tribute to the show is tremendous, and it really feels like you’re walking around in South Park. I’ve played all the Simpsons games at one time or another, and while they all had their perks, none felt quite as at home as this one. They just really nailed it; it’s like watching and participating in a 12-hour South Park episode, which is awesome.

Even if you weren’t a devout South Park fan, there’s enough in here to keep you interested. From the first introduction to Kupa Keep, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia for things I would do as a kid. It made me miss the times where you could be so openly creative without the burdens of work and relationships, but in a good way.

Stick of Truth is a very simple turn-based RPG at its core, and it’s incredibly accessible for the newcomer. An interesting story, solid mechanics, and an array of side quests reeking of fan service make this well worth the price of admission.

It chugged quite a bit on my 360, but installing it to the hard drive did help alleviate the strain on the system. Otherwise, besides making me occasionally feel uncomfortable due to the subject matter, this was a solid purchase and I highly recommend giving it a go.

Ori and the Blind Forest ($20): 9

See the full review.

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