I could never have predicted it but 2014 was perfectly bookended by two big 3DS bummers. Bright and early in January I was excited about Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder because I love the little plug-in pal and his disturbing world of characters. But this 3DS game — ergh! The photo mechanic is neat but the 3DS camera outputs the worst garbage and all the minigames you play in between are either immensely infuriating or just boring. The final blow is Chibi-Robo’s battery mechanic which requires you to plug in and recharge after every little thing you do. I can’t believe how big of disappointment this game turned out to be.
I cannot actively recall playing Strider 2014 so I’ll just copy and paste this summation from my Done Playing post: A few thousand button presses and a minimum of concentration is all it takes to blaze through in 4 or 5 hours. It’s all flashes, explosions and wonky mechanics and while that is Strider in a nutshell, this 2014 edition isn’t as memorable as either a Strider game or a Metroidvania game.
So excited was I for a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon that I denied all claims that Crimson Dragon was terrible until I finally played it myself. Thankfully it was a “free” Xbox Game with Gold but even still it wanted more money from me. Littered with time-limited boosts and daily energy meters — oh god, they made it a full price free-to-play monstrosity! All that aside it requires a lot of grinding on past levels and it just wasn’t much fun to play.
Maybe I can come around on The Sun at Night down the road. Its alternate history world that stars the augmented Russian space dog, Laika, is the kind of weird I get into. It’s also an interesting and sprawling Metroidvania style game with quests and loads of upgrades. But that first night with it, wrangling its peculiar controls, getting past the lengthy text introductions and then having it all reset when I died was a terrible shock. I couldn’t put my hands on it again for the rest of the year… but maybe in 2015?
Come December and we’re back where we started with another downloadable 3DS game I was excited for. Yumi’s Odd Odyssey (otherwise known as Umihara Kawase) has been flirting with a Western release for years and it finally happened. I put it off until it was on sale for $10 but, ya know, maybe even that’s a little steep. The game is tough and requires an expert understanding of its rope physics to fling your character around perilous and abstract 2D levels. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was faster to reload and reset but it moves at the plodding pace of the Super Famicom original. We’re talking Super Meat Boy levels of start-to-death time with 10+ seconds of waiting to give it another go. I came back and made some progress but the first boss fight is more than enough for me. I’m done.