Shovel Knight : Specter of Torment

Date Completed : March 6th, 2017

Nintendo Switch launch day happened to be my day off and the local Fred Meyer is often overlooked by console hunters on launch day.  I wanted one really badly but my wife suggested I call and ask if they had any in stock.  The sales guy coyly said they did have a few left in stock and after that I pretty much had to get one.  It turned out that Fred Meyer had a giant pile of about 30 consoles and we had our pick.  I had taken my daughter with me and I let her pick the color.  I got the console home but I hadn’t purchased any games so it was a pretty expensive paper weight.  I poked around the eshop looking for a cheap game but the only cheap title I could find was Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment for about $10.  It turned out to be a great purchase!  Specter Knight has a really satisfying ‘dash slash’ ability that I found particularly enjoyable to use.  I had a lot of fun with this game and I’d consider looking into other Shovel Knight games in the future.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~5 hours
  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Platform

 

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Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Date Completed: February 19, 2017

I had this one sitting on the shelf for a long, long time.  I really enjoyed ‘Donkey Kong Country Returns’ and I was still hoping the Wii U would catch on when this game was announced so I was excited.  It too me a long time to get around to it and I ended up disappointed.  The level design didn’t really click with me like the previous game.  It’s not a bad game but it’s not great.  I was ready to move on when I was done.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  ~12 hours
  • System: Nintendo Wii U
  • Genre: Action / Platform

Never Alone

Date Completed: February 7th, 2017

According to my current count I’m about 11 games and 10 months behind in my blogging. After some self reflection I’ve decided that the biggest issue preventing me from being more timely with producing these little blurbs is that I feel like I should try and do a good job.  Unfortunately this has resulted in dedicating additional time that I do not have hunting down screenshots, collecting my thoughts, reading and re-reading what I’ve written to see if it makes sense and eventually giving up and publishing when I realize I have no talent for writing. Well, no more of that! I’m going to change my format up to be shorter and try and get these things out within a few days of finishing the game.

Never Alone was on my radar before it was made one of the free games of the month on PlayStation Plus. I would have paid actual money for the game but once again Sony proved to me that only chumps pay for games anymore. Wait long enough and sooner or later you’ll get every game for free.

I installed the game on my PS4 but I didn’t get around to playing it until February this year when the city was covered in ice and snow and the entire family got sick. My wife had both bronchitis and pneumonia at the same time and all three kids cycled through various infections and treatments of antibiotics. I stayed home from work to help out but between feedings everyone mostly slept so I had some time to sneak away and get some gaming done.

Never Alone is based on Native Alaskan folklore and follows a young girl and her Arctic fox companion as they attempt to save her village. The game involves you solving simple ‘puzzles’ by switching between controlling the girl and the fox. The ‘puzzles’ are easily solved and don’t require any serious thought. There is really very little about the gameplay that is particularly interesting. Sometimes you run from a Polar Bear, sometimes you jump over a pit. The in-game physics are frustrating and the game isn’t particularly fun to play.

Surprisingly that doesn’t ruin the game. The characters in the game have a certain charm to them that transcends crappy game play. The story was interesting enough to keep me playing and the game includes ‘Cultural Insights’ that discuss the Native Alaskan people (and that you get trophies for watching).  The game is short enough that I didn’t get too frustrated with the game play.  Overall I’d say the experience was worth it!

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Platform

The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess

81c9da0f-07e4-45fd-a7b2-e7a98b77c1a1_1-e14cbcb4ecd1f43c9b74f04410c4d2c6Date Completed : October 24, 2016

I had been thinking about re-playing Twilight Princess and then BOOM! HD remake!  What wonderful timing!  I think Nintendo has implanted some sort of eavesdropping device in my brain so they can always provide me with what I want, when I want it.  Either that or they’re really good at marketing.

 

The original Twilight Princess came out in 2006 with the launch of the Wii console.  My girlfriend at the time (soon to be wife) tried to buy me a copy of the game and the gentleman at Toys R Us said “We’re all sold out”.  “WHAT?” I said.  “Software never sells out.  Hardware is hard to come by but pressing discs is easy!  How can you run out?”  In the end it didn’t matter, as Nintendo isn’t the kind of company to leave money on the table.  They printed more discs, I got a copy.  The world carried on.

My first play through of Twilight Princess was right after I was married but before we had kids.  I have fond memories of that time.  Many fond memories of sleeping in past 5:30.  Not wiping jelly off my game controllers.  Having time to play.  Perhaps that’s why I look back on this game so fondly.

Twilight Princess is kind of an odd duck.  It has all of the qualities that you’d expect to be present (more realistic graphics, mature story) in the greatest Zelda game of all time, yet somehow it fails to live up to the standard set by Ocarina of Time.  I suppose this game is the proof that we don’t always want what we ask for.  Not that it’s a bad game.  Even an average Zelda game is generally far better than anything else available.  Just in the grand scheme of ranking Zelda games Twilight Princess isn’t in my top 5.

My two boys love Zelda games ( I have taught them well ) so I wanted to make sure to play the game when they could watch.  This policy made it hard to find time to play.  I ended up moving the Wii U to the family room from the bonus room upstairs because I thought it would be more convenient.  It took a lot longer than my first time through the game but I finally finished up in time for the holidays.

So we have come full circle.  My marriage began with Twilight Princess, and now it has brought us closer together as a family.  Even my two-year-old daughter got to enjoy the game this time around (She especially enjoyed Link riding Epona and helping me tap Amiibo figures ).  I’d say that’s money well spent.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~40 hours
  • System: Nintendo Wii U
  • Genre: Action / Adventure

Hyrule Warriors Legends

250px-hyrule_warriors_legends_na_box_coverDate Completed : 8/14/2016

Not much to say about this game that wasn’t already said in my review for Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U.  The game is essentially unchanged, however there are a few new features that make it much more compelling.

There is a new storyline relating to ‘Linkle’, also known as girl link.  Linkle’s story is told with a series of new missions that appear mixed in with the original missions.  Linkle comes across as a little scatter brained but I found that I preferred her to Link in battle.  She has some crowd control attacks that are very satisfying.

Hyrule Warriors Legends contains a number of other changes but the best, in my opinion, is that you can now control the other characters in battle.  Rather then controlling a single individual you can now use the touch screen to tell the other characters what to do or switch over and control them entirely.  This helps immensely as you don’t have to spend the entire mission running back and forth putting out fires whilst the other characters are lollygagging around.

I found the mobile form of  Hyrule Warriors to be much more convenient for play.  I played much further into the game than I did on the Wii U version and I still have the game cartridge in my ‘active games’ box.

I consider this to be superior to the original in all categories with exception of graphics.  If you have both a Wii U and a 3DS I’d recommend the 3DS version, unless you’re goofy like me and you get them both.

Is it fun: Yes

Score: 6/10
Length:  ~20 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action

Triforce Heroes

91zvmp3i6l-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: December 8th, 2016

Zelda games have never let me down.  Even the bad ones are usually pretty good so there was a pretty good chance that I’d eventually be buying a copy of The Legend of Zelda : TriForce Heroes.  I probably would have pre-ordered the game and had it for launch except for the fact that I saw the story trailer on YouTube.  After seeing that…I suspected that the Nintendo devs had lost their minds and I wasn’t sure I wanted to have anything to do with it.

The story of the game follows a princess who (I kid you not) has been cursed to wear an unattractive unitard.  It is your goal to steal articles of clothing from a witch so that you can dress up in drag and un-curse the princess.  The main game mechanic involves you changing your clothes to gain new powers.  I have no idea why they chose to green-light this mechanic.  I can only imagine in horror any ideas that didn’t make the cut.

Goofy premise aside the game is pretty fun.  It can be played single player but it is meant to be multi-player.  In a somewhat unusual twist it can only be played by exactly one or three players.  This game is download play enabled so you only need a single cartridge to start a multiplayer game.  I started the game on my own but ended up playing most of it with my two sons (who both received 2DS consoles in the last year).

The first several missions were easy and I was able to carry my sons on to victory.  Later missions require some teamwork that my younger son ( who was 5 at the time ) wasn’t ready for.  My older boy would get frustrated and yell at his brother, which led to much crying and shouting.  I sure love family bonding time.

My older son got really into the game and purchased his own copy of the game with his saved up allowance money.  He played the game almost constantly, often while crying with frustration because some part of the game was too hard.  He’d beg me to help him but I always refused instead informing him that he’d never get any better if someone else played the game for him.  Tough love seems to have worked.  He has now surpassed my level of completion with the game, has beaten all of the bonus levels and is only missing one outfit.

Due to the crying, whining and fighting my wife was less than thrilled with me for bringing this game into the household.  We had to confiscate 2DS’s multiple times because the kids were getting frustrated or refusing to sleep.  All in all I think this is a pretty strong endorsement for the game.  It’s a little inconvenient that it requires three consoles to play multiplayer but if you have the equipment it’s worth the price of entry (That’s what she said?)

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  ~10 hours
  • System: Nintendo 2DS / 3DS
  • Genre: Action / Adventure

 

StarFox Zero

star_fox_zero_naDate Completed : June 16th, 2016

I never played the original StarFox but I did play the ever-loving-snot out of StarFox 64 back in my college days.  It ranked with Goldeneye, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. for most played game cartridge.  Unfortunately every StarFox game since StarFox 64 (with the exception of Starfox 64 3D which was a remake and doesn’t count) has been in the range of mediocre to awful.  I wasn’t setting my hopes too high for StarFox Zero and when Nintendo bundled a second game (StarFox Guard) in for no additional cost I began to suspect that once again we would have a dud on our hands.

I thought StarFox Zero was a new game in the StarFox series but I had heard rumors that it was a remake of StarFox 64.  It turns out that it’s both new AND a remake.  It’s a reboot of the StarFox Universe with some new mixed in.  The first mission on planet Corneria  will be extremely familiar to anyone who has played StarFox 64 although halfway through the mission it switches into new content.  It’s a bit lazy storytelling-wis but I can appreciate that the world these anthropomorphized animals live in doesn’t lend itself to many story options.  Rabbits, Foxes, Birds and Frogs living together in harmony in a world where there is nothing to fear except giant floating Gorilla heads?  This stuff doesn’t exactly write itself.

So, how is the gameplay then?  Early on Nintendo marketed StarFox Zero as a game that would use the Wii U Gamepad to great effect.  The only effect however is that it makes it incredible difficult to play.  The motion controls do not improve the experience whatsoever and switching between the TV and second screen is incredibly disorienting.  I’d often be piloting myself into walls or buildings with my kids yelling at me that I was near death.  I attribute all of my failures on this game to poorly implemented controls, and not any lack of skill on my part.  It has been said that there is a difference between ‘challenging’ and ‘being hard to play’.  StarFox Zero is the latter.

The only parts of this game that I really enjoyed were the parts where I wasn’t piloting any of the new vehicles, or looking at the gamepad (Essentially only the parts that played like StarFox 64).  It’s a shame because this game really presents itself well, and my kids really enjoyed watching me play it.  If you are not the one stuck fighting the control scheme StarFox is a lot of fun to watch.  If Nintendo released a patch that fixed the problems with the controls I would recommend this game.  In it’s current state I suggest you pass on it.

It’s worth noting that the game also came bundled with StarFox Guard for no additional cost.  I haven’t tried Guard yet and I’m not even sure what it’s about.  It may add a little more value to the whole purchase if you’re on the fence about it, but after playing the main game it’s hard to get too excited about anything else that came in the same box.

Is it fun: Meh
Score: 5/10
Length:  5 hours
System: Wii U
Genre: Action / Rail Shooter