Is this desperation for new platforms to play on? Backlash to the mobile games I hate on my phone? Or was it just because Katy got a job? A little of each, I suspect, brought us to buy both the 3DS XL and the PlayStation Vita this quarter along with some other stuff. Here’s the gist of all the games I played in Q4:
The Nintendo 3DS XL
I’m still flying high on the free stuff, enjoying the daily shaking for Play Coins and StreetPassing with Katy. It’s a very Nintendo experience but one that’s got more tricks than just glasses-free 3D. I like the random surprise StreetPasses, the actual Friends list, the AR games and even the eShop. The damn Pokedex app is even drawing me towards my first Pok-experience.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy for 3DS
I love, love, love the art style and the gameplay/progression is fun but I had forgotten about the DLC situation. Fully experiencing the game would cost another $60 making the game I already paid for feel like a demo. It’s a bummer and makes me not even want to play.
Dishonored on Xbox 360
It’s been so many years since anything got this close to Thief that I’m willing to forgive Dishonored’s stealth shortcomings. Overall an enjoyable playground of situational exploitation with an alternate ending that’s well worth the trouble of replaying the game to see.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition for 3DS
I haven’t touched Tekken since Tekken 3 and with a brand new 3DS I happily jumped on this for the clearance price of $8. The 3D, CG movie is a hilarious bonus and though the game itself is missing the silly character endings there’s still loads of fighting to enjoy. Online multiplayer is a laggy mess but the Special Survival mode is perfect for bite-sized fits of pugilism.
Wreckateer for Kinect
It’s the Angry Birds for Kinect that you really wanted! The motion controls are surprisingly good here and the physics-driven destruction feels satisfying. Bonus points for nods to Giant Bomb in the dialog.
Intel Discovered for Kinect
This free FMV “game” is painful to watch and even more so to “play”.
The PlayStation Vita
A confluence of fortunate events led me to get an 8gb, 3G Vita for $180. It’s a shame there isn’t more support for the thing because it’s a pretty slick package of technology that almost magically interplays with the PS3.
Treasures of Montezuma Blitz free for PS Vita
It’s a clone of Bejeweled Blitz but it’s one of console gaming’s first free-to-play apps and damn fun regardless. It’s so captivating that I’m regularly seeing the colored jewels flipping back and forth in my sleep.
Reality Fighters for PS Vita
I got this on clearance and though it’s a pretty spammy, possibly unbalanced fighting game it packs plenty of neat AR tricks and fighting styles to be a good bit of fun.
Frobisher Says free for PS Vita
It’s WarioWare for the Vita and its wonderful Brithish-ness had me literally falling over with laughter. A great tech demo and a great game to play with a group.
Dynasty Warriors Next for PS Vita
Another clearance find, this streamlined DW makes for a fine handheld experience with short battles and touch screen/AR tomfoolery. Could be a good entry point into Dynasty Warriors as the console titles rarely show up cheap.
Pid on Xbox 360
Love the look (and especially the sound) but it’s a challenge to play and not just because it’s designed that way. Load times after every death add up and the control never feels suited to the precision the game requires to progress.
Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove for 3DS
I got this on sale (with a toy figurine) from Natsume and boy am I happy I waited for a discount. It’s terribly cute with its pastel halloween world and the animations are darling but there’s SO much talking and precious little rhythm gameplay. It’s slow going that I’ve only been able to handle in small doses.
Halo 4 on Xbox 360
A friend came to visit, took a nap and left me with a chance to play Halo 4. I haven’t touched the series since Halo 2 and I’m astonished by how little changed. The elaborately gargantuan production has boiled the personality out of the series leaving a shriveled, boring husk of sci-fi schlock.
Too Human on Xbox 360
I’m happy to own a piece of gaming history that Silicon Knights has been forced to erase. Controversy aside this game of techno-vikings could’ve been a fun loot-fest but the analog stick combat feels more like I’m pointing at enemies instead of deftly defeating them.
Hot Shots Golf World Invitational for PS Vita
A perfectly fun and competent game of golf. I only wish felt more like Mario Golf which is where I’ve spent most of my video golf time over the years. The Vita features are cute but inconsequential and thankfully don’t interfere with simply golfing and unlocking new clubs, balls, courses and play styles.
Quantum Conundrum on PlayStation 3
Back on PlayStation Plus as a birthday gift I was eager to jump into “that game by that one person who worked on Portal”. Sadly it’s just more test chambers only without the clever writing, atmosphere or likeable personality.
Sonic the Hedgehog on PlayStation 3
Another Plus freebie, I once again played Sonic’s debut adventure for trophies. As disruptive and hip as it may have been in its day the blue guy sure isn’t very fast looking back now. Most of the game is spent sussing out how not to die and slowly bypassing obstacles.
Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition on PlayStation 3
This is honestly the first Resident Evil game I’ve played since Code Veronica on Dreamcast. The series is still just as illogical and nonsensical. Usually I love bizarre Japanese design but since RE2 every entry has put me off. This one was no different.
Max Payne 3 on Xbox 360
A fantastic and fitting Max Payne game! Rockstar honors what Remedy created and takes it forward. Maybe a little too far forward as the game drags on to the point I could no longer believe in the reality the first half of the game establishes so well.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss for PS Vita
The game routinely impresses with visuals on par with its PS3 counterparts. It also has the not-quite-great combat of the other games too, made even harder by the Vita’s tiny thumbsticks and tinier heads to aim at. The Vita touches are novel and don’t pop up often enough to be annoying but I found the touch climbing to be super useful. The game does drag on for a while and the story/dialog is weaker than Naughty Dog’s but overall it was a fun and playable Uncharted on the go.
Spec Ops: The Line on Xbox 360
Mediocre shooter gameplay and some rough visuals are the only thing dogging this otherwise fantastic story of how far a man will go to justify his beliefs. Great writing, great performances and a twist I didn’t see coming that leads into several endings I didn’t expect either.
Hotline Miami on Steam
A fantastic, frantic and brutal top-down “puzzle slaying game” which I would love to play more of if it would ever load up on my PC again.
AKB1/149 Love Election Box: Powered by -Open Me- for PS Vita
I love the augmented reality puzzle boxes of ‘Open Me’ that I saw at E3. This isn’t nearly as clever but it does let you maneuver around a giant box covered in AKB members on a physical photo hunt. It was also free, don’t judge.
Spelunky on Xbox 360
The time finally came (thanks to Bing) to dive into the updated version of the PC classic I’d been playing throughout the year. I came around on the new art style and music and found the game even more addictive and hopelessly endless.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on PlayStation 3
After finishing Golden Abyss on Vita I wanted to finally play Uncharted 3 despite warnings from friends online. What a mess, it’s the National Treasure of video games. How did this happen to Uncharted!?
Don’t Starve on Steam
Another roguelike, this one mashing up the terrors of life in Minecraft with the constant resource gathering and farming of Harvest Moon. It has become terrifyingly compelling as the beta continues to evolve and looks as if Tim Burton had drawn children’s books.
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack for PS Vita
This pseudo sequel retains the charming 50’s aesthetic and the cheeky references but it also retains the focus on platforming mechanics which made the original game less than stellar. More Katamari “absorb everything” please, and less run-from-the-lasers precision jumping.
Bioshock 2 on PlayStation 3
I finally got into this one after Sony offered it up on PlayStation Plus. I wasn’t interested in a Big Daddy’s tale or a sequel to BioShock but the world of Rapture is still captivating and the exploration and combat satisfying. And that Sophia Lamb is one foxxy villain!
187 Ride or Die on Xbox
I made Katy play this “Mario Kart in tha Hood” and got hooked all over again. Poorly written early 2000’s gang slang accompanies moderately entertaining kart combat. It’s fun in small doses.
R-Type Command on PSP
I went back to my favorite hex-based strategy game late this year to archive it for the internet. Watch it here.
Kinect Party for Kinect
It’s another clever helping of Kinect tech demos but it’s largely lost the magic on the second go-round. About 2 minutes on each “game” and I was done. Eh, at least it was free.
Outlaw Golf: 9 (and More) Holes of X-Mas on Xbox
Another game I got back into after forcing Katy to play it for YouTube, this duo of Blockbuster exclusive holiday golf games are crass and not always clever but remain entertaining yuletide traditions. The second one is even supported on the 360!
Far Cry 3 on Xbox 360
A great early-game villain, a volatile tropical island and a strict adherence to the first-person perspective put Far Cry once again on its own level. I thought the story was fine, even daring in some spots but overall the experience has kinda dragged after the first 25 hours or so.
Retro City Rampage on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita
It truly is Grand Theft Auto for the NES and it’s chock full of smart 80’s cultural references. The cross-play on Vita is neat as well but after all these years of waiting the game just isn’t a whole lot of fun.
Art of Balance TOUCH! for 3DS
I like physics and I like balancing puzzles so when I finally got some 3DS gift cards I pushed past the crazy $7 price tag and jumped in. It’s another gorgeous Nintendo exclusive from Shin’en that’s fun and clever in small, portable doses.
Karaoke on Xbox 360
Happy to see Microsoft and iNiS keeping the Lips legacy alive, now in true pay-for-time karaoke booth fashion. The selection is much bigger than any karaoke experience before, it’s simple to use, SmartGlass works well, and it has an unlock path that could keep even me coming back to sing poorly again and again.