The most overwhelming year in recent memory has been kind of an underwhelming one in gaming with an abundance of good games (Ghost of Tsushima, Streets of Rage 4), plenty of masterful remakes/remasters that deal in nostalgia over establishing something revolutionary (Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Final Fantasy VII Remake), and a few big shots that just missed out on greatness (sobbing uncontrollably in the general direction of The Last of Us: Part II). While this is to be expected as game companies seem more focused on kicking off the next-gen due in November than making the final year of the current-gen's dominance all that memorable, it's still a tad disappointing. Thankfully, the team of superstars at Super Giant games decided to change all that by releasing the first truly remarkable gaming experience of 2020 with their clinic on how to make roguelikes accessible and fun for all known as Hades. In lesser hands, Hades might have just been a slick indie that gets people excited for a week or two and moves out of the collective memory, but under the careful toiling of the creators of two of my personal favorites, Bastion and Pyre, it manages to crack the roguelike code by making death the best part of the game.
Over the past couple of years, one of the most unexpected yet welcome additions to video games has been a rise in game developers utilizing pinball mechanics in non-traditional ways for exciting new takes on well established genres. Starting with the sublime marriage of pinball and Metroidvanias in 2018's Yoku's Island Express and further expanded in last year's dungeon crawler, Creature in the Well, the love poems to pinball may have reached their peak with the brilliant and addictive Peggle meets Slay the Spire magic of Roundguard.
If the past few years of having this blog have taught me anything about my gaming habits, it's that I tend to blast through games as quickly as possible just to get to the next in an ever-expanding backlog of titles I've convinced myself I absolutely must play. Without such a "gaming ethic", I never would have been able to get through the 70+ titles I have each of the past two years. As a result, everything feels a little rushed, and I never truly appreciate the marvelous works unfolding before me.
Just when I thought it wasn't possible to be any more charmed by a Zelda game following the incredible rhythm adventure of Cadence of Hyrule, along came the utterly delightful and adorable remake of the 1993 Game Boy classic Link's Awakening. Despite having never played the original and lacking any semblance of nostalgia, I was immediately in love with this iteration of Hyrule's greatest hero. With each swing of my sword and lovable hop, I was somehow still transported to feeling like the 8 year old I was when the original was released.
Untitled Goose Game is perhaps the greatest gaming achievement of the year. Sure, it's not the most technically advanced game or even the most fun one, but its surreal rise from a joke amongst a team of just 4 game devs to the top of the Nintendo eShop and the national consciousness is nothing short of remarkable. The biggest game on Nintendo Switch right now isn't the adorably recreated, big budget Link's Awakening; it's a prank game about being an asshole goose. The devs could have easily phoned it in and relied purely on the ridiculous premise to move units and provide them with success, but you can tell they truly poured their hearts into this absurd operation as evidenced by each hilarious puffing up of the goose's wings, every annoyed resident's reaction to a honk, and all the poor, damaged property left in the mischievous goose's wake. They didn't just create a meme-machine, they truly delivered on the promise of being an asshole goose. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time as our bird anti-hero from the start, the true glory of the world's favorite goose's low stakes carnage creating prowess fully crystalized for me in the game's fantastic third area, The Back Gardens.
Ever since the original The Legend of Zelda let you name your save file, I've been trying to live out some world saving fantasies by making myself in video games. I've prevented the utter destruction of humanity countless times in the Final Fantasy series. I've braved the barren nuclear wasteland of Fallout. Even the virtual sports world has been utterly dominated by the 5'4" wunderkind known as Terry Kennair - fearless, boring-ass, tiny, bearded white dude.
Thursday, July 25th was the first time I freaked out about becoming a dad. This was a most curious development coming at essentially the halfway mark of our pregnancy given that my MO as an adult has been swimming in a vast ocean of anxiety. Somehow for four and a half months, I had managed … Continue reading Learning Important Life Lessons From Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has no right to be as addicting and sleep depriving-ly fun as it is. At its heart, it's very much a mid-2000's game in the same vein as the previous entry in the series that released 13 long years ago with all its button-mashing glory. Thanks to a ton of charm and the ability to pair up the most popular heroes in the world like never before, the grind transforms from a chore into a pure delight. You'll find yourself spending countless hours running through Inifinity Trials to power up your favorite heroes, so you can unleash them on Thanos and the Black Order. It's all the best parts of those RPG character collecting mobile games like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes combined with the robust action of a Diablo taken to an unholy new level of corporate super hero synergy.
Now, to help you figure out where you should be pooling those hours of character progression, here is my handy list of the Most Fun Characters in the game.
I swear I'm not an asshole, but the levels I keep coming up with in Super Mario Maker 2 seem to be conspiring to prove the opposite point about me. Given my propensity for trying to build my own video games and love of the greatest bros in the history of the world, Mario and Luigi, pre-ordering the latest Mario level builder was the easiest decision I've ever had to make. Immediately after getting home the Friday night that it released, I tore into the Story Mode hoping to learn all about the intricacies of what makes a truly great Mario course. Two days later, with the Story Mode complete, I was primed and ready to start creating my first world. That's when I started to notice something odd about my level building. That's when it started to dawn on me that I might just be an asshole.
Cadence of Hyrule, the new Zelda-spinoff rhythm game, is basically 1000 smiles distilled into their purest form and injected directly into your brain. It is the most charming, utterly pleasant, and breathtakingly unique game I have played in quite some time. Without further adieu, let's count down the Top 10 things that make this gem basically a puppy party in game form.