Thursday, January 23, 2014

Double Dragon, Lucifer Ring, and the Toukiden Demo  


Games: @MonkeyPawGames have been bringing some interesting things stateside for a while now. Although they don't translate everything they offer (a huge bummer) it's still great that they're doing what they're doing, and their titles are usually quite affordable -- if nothing else, I appreciate the fascinating peeks into past generations and previously-unavailable titles. 

Right now they're doing a "Retro Rush" promotion featuring six titles to be released on PSN, one a week. The first two are already out, and my impressions are below. 


Double Dragon (PS One, 1995)

When I started Double Dragon, I was a bit confused… I wasn't sure what entry in the series it was, but the mystery was soon solved. It's apparently a companion piece to the live-action movie that I forgot ever existed. The opening intro made up of film clips is mind-blowing in its awfulness (Alyssa Milano! Is that you?!?) and the game isn't much better.

Essentially, it's a cheapie Street Fighter clone starring characters I don't recognize. They don't exactly look like the characters from the movie, and they don't look like the other entries in the series, so… Yeah.

It's not the worst fighter I've ever played, but it certainly feels it's age and the AI is brutal. Since the menus are in Japanese, I wasn't able to figure out which settings to change. I had to play on the normal difficulty and I got my clock cleaned repeatedly. Granted, I'm no pro when it comes to fighting games, but I can usually hold my own. Not this time, though.

I didn't stick with Double Dragon long. Between the janky controls, steep difficulty, long loadtimes and questionable inspiration, there wasn't much to keep me playing.


Lucifer Ring (PS One, 1998)

Now this one was a pleasant little surprise. It's a third-person action game which uses the old-school beat-'em-up system of locking you in a small zone until you defeat the enemies that run in, but there are little twists and little sparks of ideas happening as the game progresses.

The main hero, Nash, looks like a Dragon Ball Z descendant, but there are no super Saiyan moments, nor any kamehamehas. As he goes through the five levels of the game, he fights various monsters with a sword. Thematically, it feels like Castlevania a bit, really. The interpretations of some famous mythological beasts such as the centaur are neat, and one battle seems like an ancient (way easier) rendition of Ornstein and Smough from Dark Souls. Each level has good variety and there are neat little elemental sword pickups along the way.

The graphics are super blocky, but the aesthetics are heading in the right direction, and the whole game has a great feel to it… It really seems like the devs were trying hard and doing the best with what they had technology-wise at the time. Despite its simplicity and crudeness, I got sucked in immediately and didn't move from my seat until I finished it. I frown heavily on the 3D platforming that happens in a couple of sections because the technology to effectively portray depth was not up to snuff at the time, but those sections are small in number, and there are continues which start the player at the exact area where they died, so the frustration factor is low.

It's old, it's rough, and it's only starting to foreshadow the kind of games we would be treated to in later generations, but the spark of something cool is going on in Lucifer Ring, and players interested in old software would be smart to pick this one up and give it a spin. As a bonus, the menus are in English and there is a key configure menu, which I greatly appreciated. Play on Easy and absorb some history.


Toukiden (Vita demo, 2014)

Tecmo Koei is getting into the Monster Hunter business, and the free demo for their attempt is now up on the Vita store. 

From what I saw, it's infused with a heavily traditional Japanese flavor -- the characters look like samurai, and the enemies are Oni. The core of it is unmistakaby MH  though. It has a town, a little mission area with a girl at a desk, different weapon varieties… The similarities are obvious, but I guess that's alright since Capcom currently has no plans to bring out another MH and I'm jonesing pretty hard.

Out of all the MH clones I played so far, this one seems to be the best based on the demo slice. The graphics are nice, the weapons seem interesting, and the general structure is familiar, which isn't a bad thing. Of course, the jury is still out until I can check out the full version, but it didn't immediately turn me off, which is more than I can say for some of the other clones I've dipped into. 

We'll see. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

A little of this, a little of that...  


Games: Had a lot of things on my plate this weekend, so just a quick check in tonight…  here are some brief impressions on what I've been playing lately.

Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder - 3DS

I was absolutely stoked to see another Chibi-Robo title pop up out of nowhere. I had no idea it was coming, but I absolutely adore this little robot and another installment is more than welcome. His original title was hands-down one of the best things on the GameCube, and I've always thought that Nintendo should have done more with him.

I haven't put a lot of time into it (about 2 hours so far) but it seems solidly scaled-down. Chibi still goes around doing small household tasks to help people, but this time he's also trying to build a museum by taking photos of things.

This photo slant is kind of a cool idea because it uses the 3DS camera to insert Chibi into the photos for sort of an 'augmented reality' effect. The problem is that the camera is incredibly finicky, and it's quite difficult to use in certain situations. In rooms that are even slightly dark it often fails, and the game has templates of objects that you need to take pictures of, so finding something that is the exact correct size and shape to fit a template is really hard. for example, one template is obviously a t-shirt, but I did not own one that fit the dimensions perfectly. The game granted me a "it's close enough, 60% match" pass, but still...

I'm going to jump back into it tonight. It seems like a win so far, but I am definitely a fan of this series, and I'm really hoping that the camera function won't be too much of a problem.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - PS2

I've had a copy of Shattered Memories in my backlog for a long, long time and I only just now got around to it after being nudged by several friends, Matt Kaplan and Scott Nichols primary among them.

I have to say, although I thought the idea of the game was pretty cool (it's kind of a re-imagining of the original Silent Hill, my favorite in the series) it has a lot of problems and I got bored with it a little past the halfway point. Although I liked the removal of combat, that game was clearly designed for the Wii (its original platform) and as such, it really lacks a lot of depth since it's obvious the developers were working with the Wii remote interface in mind.

The structure consists mostly of running a lot and using a virtual cursor to manipulate objects in the environment (which I'm sure was absolutely riveting with a wiimote...) It's not very juicy. Worse, the story just didn't catch my attention. I never felt immersed or interested in what was going on, and it felt too long for what it was, even with a relatively short running time. I bailed maybe two thirds of the way through because it felt like a waste of time. After YouTubing the ending, I'm glad I didn't stick around.

Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD - 360

Speaking of boredom, I ponied up for a copy of AssCreed: LibHD against my better judgment. I'm claiming temporary insanity. 

Honestly, I'm not a fan of the series at all, but I was intrigued by the idea of the main character being a mixed-race woman in slavery times, and how that would play into the story. Sadly,  I should have punched myself in the face rather than spending a dime on it. The story was scattered and felt like an afterthought, and the action was the same old AssCreed stuff that bored me three games ago. 

I knew there was no hope when the main character was told to go buy a house. I thought property ownership would be an interesting story moment given her racial/gender status, but it was nothing more than walking up to a door and pushing 'B'. I don't know why I thought the developers would actually do something with that, but I did… Shame on me.   

Anyway, I think I got halfway through the second chapter and just couldn't take it anymore. AssCreed has a few good ideas buried in it, but it's mostly garbage and I'm just done with it.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger - 360

To end things on a high note, I dipped into my virtual backlog and started playing call CoJ: Gunslinger. I've heard it come strongly recommended from people I respect, and they weren't wrong. 

Although the other Juarez games have been shaky at best and terrible at worst, the developers have really nailed this one. It's essentially a corridor-y arcade-y shooter at heart, but it looks sharp, the action is fast, and it has a lot of charm thanks to the narrator who has no problems changing his version of events at the drop of a hat. When he does, the level you're in will change accordingly. 

In one instance he says he went into a mine through one shortcut, and the shortcut appears out of thin air. Once that proves to be a dead end, he says "No, that's not what happened" and the level shifts another way. It's a clever gimmick, the project is focused, and it doesn't try to be more than it is. I've been playing a couple levels at a time and having a lot of fun, but I'm glad it's a small project and not something that goes on for 20 hours. 


GungHo Online Entertainment America announced its PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system puzzle-platform hybrid game, Dokuro, is now available at a reduced price of $2.99 across North America, and will soon be €2.99 in Europe.

Having received accolades and "Best of 2012" awards, Dokuro is a one-of-a-kind action-puzzle game that utilizes the PlayStation Vita's front Touchscreen and Rear Touch Pad to enable players to manipulate the environment, and transform the game's diminutive protagonist between two forms - a nimble skeleton and a dashing prince - in order to solve a variety of puzzles in his quest to help an innocent princess escape the Dark Lord's fortress. 

Dokuro is also available for $2.99 on iOS devices through the App Store and Android devices through Google Play in North America. Featuring no in-app purchases, the smartphone/tablet edition of Dokuro adds virtual controls that deliver an intuitive and optimized experience while keeping the console-style ease of play. For devices running iOS 7 or later, Dokuro is also compatible with mobile game controllers (sold separately), offering even more direct control of the action onscreen. While boasting all the content of the original PS Vita version, the smartphone edition's difficulty and level structure have been newly tuned for touchscreens, resulting in an even more intuitive game.

Developed in Japan by GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc, Dokuro is published in North America by GungHo Online Entertainment America. For more information, Fans can also follow on Facebook  and Twitter.


The latest trailer for Daylight, the first person psychological horror game from indie developer Zombie Studios, is testament to the isolated feeling that permeates the derelict Mid Island Hospital and beyond.

Powered by Unreal Engine 4, Daylight's procedurally generated levels ensure that no door, hallway, life-saving flare or clue to the main character's past are ever in the same place twice. Oh, and just as the trailer warns, sometimes it's best not to look behind you.

Daylight will release in early 2014 for a global audience on both PC and as a console exclusive for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system.

View the new Daylight trailer here:


The start to the New Year signals bright horizons. For MonkeyPaw Games, Inc. the start to 2014 will bring six new Japanese import titles to the PlayStation®Network Store. This rapid-fire release campaign, dubbed “Retro Rush” will deliver some hidden gems along with the much-anticipated sequel to Tomba, Tomba! 2.

Starting January 14, 2014, MonkeyPaw Games will be releasing one PSone® import game a week, for six weeks. The Retro Rush titles are some of the most exciting games MonkeyPaw has uncovered to date and run the gamut of genres including Fighting, Action, Platforming and Fire Fighting RPG.

The Retro Rush culminates in the release of one of the most requested, most anticipated, and most pink-haired of PSone® classics - Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return.

For the full schedule of Retro Rush events, check out the release list below:

● Jan. 14 - Double Dragon

● Jan. 21 - Lucifer Ring

● Jan. 28 - The Firemen 2: Pete and Danny

● Feb. 4 - Hyper Crazy Climber

● Feb 11 - Wolf Fang

● Feb 18 - Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return

More information about each individual game will arrive weekly and all of the Retro Rush titles will appear via the PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®3, PSP® and PlayStation®Vita. All titles will retail for $5.99, except Tomba! 2, retailing for $9.99.

Stay tuned for more information from MonkeyPaw Games in 2014. 


Stoic, an independent game development company and Versus Evil, an independent game publisher, today announced the release of the highly anticipated Strategy RPG The Banner Saga on PC and Mac.  The game, a huge funding success on Kickstarter, was recently announced as an Independent Games Festival (IGF) finalist for Excellence in Visual Arts, with honorable mentions for Excellence in Audio and Design. To mark the occasion, a launch trailer has also been released on the official YouTube channel:

The Banner Saga is a single-player driven Viking saga, where a player’s choice in travel, conversation and combat determines the outcome of their own personal story as well as the survival of an entire civilization. The game also features stunning 2D animation and art, a unique tactical combat system, and a cast of unforgettable characters that drive this epic journey forward. Players will also enjoy a beautiful and haunting original score by Grammy nominated, and two-time BAFTA winner, composer Austin Wintory conducting The Dallas Winds orchestra, as well as a powerhouse trio of acclaimed YouTube sensations: Peter Hollens, Malukah and Taylor Davis.

The Banner Saga is available now for $24.99 through Steam, Uplay, GameFly, GameStop and GamersGate for PC and Mac. A digital Deluxe Edition is also available through select retailers for $29.99 and includes the game and complete soundtrack.

Renren Games, a subsidiary of Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN), has unveiled NBA Rush, the first NBA endless runner mobile game.  The new game, available free to download on iOS, features NBA players competing against alien invaders.

In NBA Rush, gamers assemble their own all-star team by choosing select NBA players from 30 NBA teams.  To win, NBA players must weave through city streets, parks, tunnels, buses, cars and alien ships, while throwing down massive dunks on aliens.

NBA Rush incorporates all of the fun gameplay elements that define the endless runner genre with a basketball spin.  To change directions, NBA players execute crossover, behind-the-back and through-the-legs dribble moves.  When juking left and right doesn’t get a player through the alien defense, the NBA players’ hops will save the day. 

NBA Rush will be free to download on the Apple App Store and will have in-game purchases to enhance gameplay.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Marvel Puzzle Quest - Round Two!!  


Games: The response to my original interview with Albert Reed on Marvel Puzzle Quest was great, and between that post and my random comments about the game on Twitter, I've gotten a lot of comments and questions. In response, I hit Albert up with your follow-up queries. His answers are immediately below. 

I also figured it might be useful to share a few tips for people who are just starting, or are considering taking the plunge. Scroll down past the questions for those.

BG: With the update that recently went up, what other changes besides the new daily rewards system and shield function went into effect? 

AR: About a bazillion bug fixes and tweaks to the UI - for example, we show how many Iso-8 and Hero Points you have in the map now. Most of our development effort is going into new characters and events! We'll be rolling out a new character in the next week!

[Note: that character is now up, and was revealed to be Ares.]

The newest addition to the game.

In regard to daily rewards, what happens when a player can't complete a mission or has no uncompleted missions left to do? Do they stop getting rewards? 

Honestly, we haven't even considered that! If you've run out of missions to play, we've done something horribly wrong. :-) There should always be a plethora of stuff to do - Versus, Events and re-playing prologue missions.

What do you have in the pipe for the seasoned players - people who have maxed-out characters and still want more to do?

We hope the steady stream of versus and single-player content we roll out each week can keep our players engaged for a long, long time. 

When can we expect the next story campaign? 

We're going to have an improved version of a previous event starting up very soon and right after that, we'll have our brand-new fourth episode going live.

[Note: the improved event that returned was “The Hunt”]

You can find Devil Dinosaur at the end of The Hunt! Just a cameo, though.  = (

How did you select the characters for the game? Clearly the Avengers are hot right now, but what about others like Invisible Woman, Dr. Doom and so on... How did they make the cut? 

We listen to what players request, and suggestions from Marvel. 

Will there ever be the option to challenge friends, or somehow get friend visibility in-game?

It's on the short list, for sure! We are constantly handing our phones to each other to look at one-anothers' teams. There's got to be a better way!

Have there been characters in previous events who might have been missed by newcomers to the game? If so, who, and will they be available again later?

After a short period of time, the newly-released characters get worked into the standard cover packs and rewards for other events.

Gotta work hard to nail that top slot.

Will there ever be a way to get the super-rare characters (Invisible Woman, X-Force Wolverine) other than coming in first in a contest? (Because it's HARD.)

You can get them from the cover packs as well. Part of our super-long-term gameplay is leveling up those characters. 

Will there be any respec options for people who want to tweak their characters?

We have lots of highly requested changes, and this is one of them.


Thanks again to the super-fabulous Albert Reed for taking the time to answer all these questions! Now, tips for beginners down below…

Replay these starting missions until you earn all the rewards!

>The game is incredibly generous when giving out free stuff, as long as you know how to get it. By replaying the campaign missions and collecting all available awards, you can pick up plenty of Covers (for unlocking new characters and upgrading ones you already have) and ISO crystals for upgrading.  Additionally, by entering all of the weekly events, the rewards start rolling in after just a few victories. You don't need to take the top honors by any means -- even placing in the top 1000 or top 500 will get you a bonus, not to mention all of the rewards you collect from matches along the way.

This is a well-balanced team! Use 'em!

>The beginning team of Hawkeye, Black Widow (Modern) and Iron Man 35 is very strong, so if the game is feeling tough, stick with the starters until you find your legs. Once you decide to get away from the starting team, try to pick characters who complement each other -- characters that represent a good spread of colors so that every match counts towards feeding a superpower. Choosing three characters who all rely on green and red means that making matches with yellow, blue, black, or purple are lost opportunities to get ahead.

>Another team tip - if you can, try to use characters who have healing, such as Black Widow (Original) or Spider-Man. If you can use their healing powers during battle (right before you win, ideally) you’ll cut down on the necessity for health packs and be able to play more matches before your characters get worn out. If you haven't gotten a healer yet, you can replay the Prologue missions "Tall, Dark and Nasty" or "Kidnapping" (in the Venom section) to make use of the loaner Spider-Man there.

Click on the green plus sign to add a roster slot.

>When beginning the game, don't spend any real money until you need to expand a roster because it’s important to hang onto new team members -- they may not be strong enough to use right away, but you're sure to accumulate Covers for them as you play. If you don’t have enough coins to unlock more team slots and keep them, roster expansion is the wisest investment for real dollars.

>It takes quite a bit of time and effort to complete the Prologue campaign mode. Don't try to plow through it before trying the other options. It's a better idea to go back and forth between the Prologue mode and the rotating Events. Doing so will rack up more rewards, you’ll level up faster, and you’ll be in a better position to clear missions in both sections.

>When in the tournament Events, use the Skip function liberally. It doesn't benefit you to go up against a team that's vastly overpowered and get stomped, so don't be afraid to skip people until you find someone who is an appropriate match. Pick and choose your opponents, and you’ll go a lot further in each session.

This Spider-Man hits hardest with yellow gems! 

>When in a match, tap on your characters’ portraits and learn which colors hit the hardest for each of them. Along the same lines, know your enemy. Tap on enemy portraits to see what attacks they do and how much they hit for. Try to make matches that feed your own superpowers, or conversely, try to make matches that prevent your enemy from feeding their own powers.

>Choose your target. If you tap enemy characters in the middle or rear positions, you can rotate them to the front.  If Storm is in the back and she keeps doing tons of damage, rotate her to the front and take her out first. By removing the biggest threat first, ‘impossible’ missions become much more manageable.

>I never thought I’d ever say this, but connect your game to Facebook. You’ll be able to back up your save, and when you have other friends playing the game, you can also send rewards to each other as you play. Nothing wrong with getting random gifts of 500 ISO or a Cover token here and there.


That’s it for now… Hopefully these tips swill get you on the right path, and smooth out any initial starting difficulty. Big thanks to @RowanKaiser and @TheShums for chipping in to this writeup! They're great guys!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Interview with: Albert Reed, Demiurge CEO on Marvel Puzzle Quest  


Yes it's about matching gems, yes it's free-to-play, yes it's even got in-app purchases, but Marvel Puzzle Quest is a fabulous little title available on PC, Android and iOS, and I just can't get enough. Seriously, I have no idea how many hours I've sunk into it already, but... it's a lot. In an effort to spread the word (and the addiction) I've tweeted, podcasted and blogged about it,  but I haven't done an interview on it... Until now. 

CEO of Demiurge Studios, Albert Reed, took a few minutes to answer my questions about collecting covers, recruiting heroes and shooting repulsor beams, and here's what he had to say.


BG: Hi Albert, thanks so much for taking the time. To start with, although it seems like your studio has been around for a while, it's not a very well-known house. Can you tell us what you've worked on, and who's on the team?

AR: We’ve been around since 2002 actually! We've been working behind-the-scenes on AAA games for ten years before starting on Marvel Puzzle Quest. We've contributed to Brothers in Arms, Mass Effect and even made a couple of Rock Band games along the way.

Although the original Puzzle Quest was absolutely fantastic, the following sequels were nowhere as good, and it seemed as though the franchise died a quiet death. How did resurrecting Puzzle Quest come about, and how did it get connected with the Marvel license?

D3Publisher, the original publisher of Puzzle Quest came up with the original idea and made a huge effort to make it happen. They played matchmaker bringing us, Marvel and Steve Faulkner, the original developer together.

Free-to-play is something of a double-edged sword, and many developers trip up when trying to implement it without killing the fun of their games, or worse, they come off as outright evil. In my view, MPQ is one of the rare titles that lands on the right side of the FTP line. How much testing and revision did you have to do to find the current balance? How happy are you with it now?

Thanks! I'm glad you're happy and clearly lots of other players are as well. The entirety of Marvel Puzzle Quest's development has revolved around user testing. Starting about one month from when the project began, we brought players in off the street and videoed their play. We had a short soft-launch period and as you're aware we still consider the current game a "preview"!

We're really happy with the balance of the game right now, but also not satisfied. Every week we adjust the balance of a character or two in response to player feedback and our observations. One of the biggest challenges of F2P is creating live content that's relevant for everyone new and old players, people who spend 30 minutes a day and people who spend hours a day. That's probably our biggest current challenge with game balance.

As you mentioned above, when the game loads up, the words "Preview Edition" are clear to see. Can you tell me exactly what that means? Is that another term for “beta”, and if so, what does that mean for players who’ve invested time and money?

It means there remain big system changes that we intend to make. We want to be upfront with players that characters might still be rebalanced and that there are important new features coming. "Beta" implies the product isn't fully tested but this one is. What remains is listening to our players and responding to their feedback. As I said, we're very close!

If I read it correctly, when I connected my long-unused Facebook account to the game, it mentioned that I would be able to recover any lost progress by reconnecting to Facebook. Is that the only way for players can restore lost progress if their device becomes lost or damaged?

Yup! We use Facebook to effectively "log in" to the game. Once you've done that your save will be synced across devices.

After participating in a number of the rotating contests, it seems as though some of the times of day they end at are a little unusual and random. How do you set those times?

That's another ongoing challenge. All Marvel Puzzle Quest players are on the same servers but our players live around the world. We're still fine-tuning when we want our events to start and end.

Is there any correlation between the characters a player uses, and what covers will crop up more often when redeeming cover tokens? It may be my imagination, but it seemed like once I started using particular characters, their covers started showing up more often. On the other hand, I almost never see covers for characters I don't use.

It's just your imagination. :-)

Aha. Well, keeping with the theme of imagination… After winning a series of matches, it sometimes seems as though the AI goes completely apesh*t and demolishes me. It's happened even with teams below my level, who should've been pushovers. Of course, there's always the element of luck, but some of the incredible combo chains that annihilate me strain the limits of credulity at times. Is there some sort of AI spike that occurs after a player has been winning for too long?

Also your imagination. :-) Previous Puzzle Quest games got a lot of flak for AI that seemed to cheat so we took great care to make sure the AI plays the same game you do.

How many new "stories" similar to the recently-completed Hulk arc are planned, and can you tell us anything about them? Similarly, what characters do you have planned for the future? Personally, I would love to see Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and Devil Dinosaur, though friends at higher levels tell me he’s in there somewhere…

We have a story arc that covers 25 "episodes" and we've launched three of them. Lots more to come. Right now, we release a character and a major new piece of content about once a month. All of the characters you list are on our radar, but my lips are sealed as to who's coming next. 

We also continue to add new features that fans request. One of our most-requested features is the ability to shield your team from attacks so that you can take a break - that will be in our next update. 
Also, your friends speak the truth - Devil Dino made a cameo in The Hunt!

[*note: the shield feature is now live, see above picture.]

Open mic. What do you want to tell people who haven’t given Marvel Puzzle Quest a try? What one thing would you want to say to try and convince them?

There are still many people who are skeptical that free-to-play can be done right. To them, I'd point out that every single thing in MPQ can be earned without spending a cent -- we don't have an impossible-to-get currency like most "free" games. We aim to make it so that players who spend money are buying great entertainment. We think you'll play MPQ as much as your favorite console games and we want to give you the same value for your dollar - whether it's buying more playtime (like quarters in an arcade machine!) or adding another character to play to your roster.

Thanks for the opportunity to share!


Infinite thanks to Albert Reed for taking the time to chat with me, and congratulations to Demiurge for creating such an impossible-to-put-down title. As stated above, it's now available on Steam, Android and iOS, and is indeed free-to-play. 

Also, Ragnarok is one cheap-ass punk. What a jerk.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tons Of Top Tens, Terraria on Vita, so-so 3D World, Danganronpa Rocks  


Games: You know, I see a lot of people moaning about the top ten lists that appear at the end of every year, but you know what? I love ranked lists. 


I really enjoy seeing what games hit the mark for people (even if they didn’t for me) and I usually discover a couple of things that weren’t already on my radar. You can’t discover hidden gems if you ain’t looking, know what I mean?

So, in spite of all the “OMG how can you make LISTS because LISTS don’t make sense” sentiments floating around, I decided to run in the other direction and I actually gathered top ten lists!

If you can’t stand lists, then skip ahead to the game talk section of tonight’s post. On the other hand, if you’re like me and love numerically ranked groupings, below are a bunch from people I know on Twitter.

Here they are, in the order I received them. If you dig ‘em, give ‘em a follow!

@giansaldana  (and because he’s an overachiever, this one too.)  

...And finally, here's a mega-breakdown from a wide variety of really sharp writers gathered by my fellow GC'er @SparkyClarkson. It's his Year Of The Games


Aside from collecting all those lists, I've been scratching the surface with Terraria. It runs great on the Vita and it looks nice enough for what it is, but since the game (from what I can tell so far, anyway) is essentially Minecraft played from a side-view perspective, I'm not sure I'm willing to dive into that.

Absolutely nothing wrong with it so far, but I spent quite a bit of time in Minecraft when it hit XBLA, and I don't really feel the need to repeat that experience anytime soon. I mean, doing a bit of freestyle building with the kids every now and again is one thing, but starting from scratch and grinding through a campaign mode? Maybe not. Looks super solid if you’re not burned out on digging for minerals, though.


In other game news, I’m about halfway through Super Mario 3D World. I've been seeing it pop up on a lot of the lists above (among others) and I've been enjoying it. It's a solid game, but it doesn't instill me with as much wonder as Super Mario Galaxy did, and although I still have about half left to see, it doesn't strike me as exciting or as interesting as Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS did.

Also, I've been playing the entirety of it in two-player co-op, and I don't feel that it adds much to the experience. Sure, it's fun to have a buddy along to play, but the mechanics don't seem designed to add anything beneficial… What usually happens is one of us accidentally picks up the other, or one of us accidentally bounces off the head of the other, and effs up whatever jump we’re trying to make. Besides that, in tight situations one of us will inevitably drag the other one down, and I'm not getting much that I wouldn't get from simply having someone sit beside me as I played in solo mode. 

It's a fine game and I like it, but it hasn't knocked my socks off the way it has for some. I’ll finish it for sure, but it’s just... okay.


Finally, I was sent a pre-release copy of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the Vita, and it has been quite a pleasant surprise. I didn't know boo about it before playing, but if I had to sum it up, I would say that it takes the social aspects of Persona, mixes in the premise of Battle Royale, the courtroom battles of Phoenix Wright, and it couches the whole thing in a visual novel structure.

Basically, a totally average teenager is picked to go to school full of super-achieving special students. Upon arriving, the entire class is whisked away to some bizarre location and sealed inside a building. They’re told that the only way any of them can leave is if they murder each other, and then the intrigue begins…  

Some recent visual novels I've played have felt very static and dry, with not much happening on-screen. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with reading, but when working in a videogame format, there are tons of places where little touches and niceties can be added to spice everything up. Danganronpa takes advantage of this, and has a strong style full of bright colors, interesting effects and a lot of visual energy.

I've only begun to start playing, but it hooked me immediately and I'm quite eager to see where the story goes. Put it on your radar.