Saturday, December 31, 2011

Five additional games I'm looking forward to playing in 2012

If you failed to see yesterday's post--which covered the first five (of 10) games that I'm looking forward to playing in 2012--check it out here.

For those of you who read (if not thoroughly enjoyed) that post, here are the final five games I'm hoping to get my grubby little hands on at some point in the next 12 months:

Mario Tennis (3DS)--I've mentioned before that I'm a tennis nut, right? If not, now you know. I'm also a huge fan of Nintendo's Mario Tennis games--especially its portable ones. The 3DS iteration looks to be the best of both worlds: It's got the great graphics of the console versions and the take-it-anywhere fun of the handheld versions. Will it have an RPG mode, too? My fingers and toes are crossed in the hopes that it will.

Ni no Kuni (PS3)--The Japanese version of this Level-5 RPG--made in partnership with the folks at Studio Ghibli--bombed and reviews of it weren't much better, but you know what? I'll probably buy the North American version regardless shortly after I finally obtain a PS3 (hopefully sometime in 2012). It simply looks too good to pass up, even if it ends up being a bit of a bore.

Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)--In all honesty, this may be the game I'm most looking forward to playing in 2012. Why? I enjoyed the hell out of its predecessors--the import-only original, made for the GameBoy Advance, and its DS-based sequel, released in 2009--and I'm fully expecting to love the hell out of this one, too, especially since it takes the series back to its roots and uses buttons only (as opposed to waggle).

Sugar Shooter 2 (Mac/PC)--I've never had as much fun shooting the clothes off of a muscle-bound baddies as I did while playing the original Sugar Shooter last year. As such, I'm chomping at the bit to do more of the same as soon as this sequel--which will be made available to Mac as well as PC owners this time around--hits the streets (or at least the Internet) sometime next year.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)--Can you believe this open-world RPG will be coming to North America in 2012? I can't. I'm glad it is, though, as I desperately want to play it. Don't tell anyone, but this will be my first Monolith Soft-developed game. Yep, that means I've never played any of the Baten Kaitos (GameCube) or Xenosaga (PS2) titles. Just proves there's a first time for everything, eh?

Now that I've rambled on (and on and on) about the games I'm itching to play in 2012, which ones are all of you looking forward to experiencing in the coming year?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Five games I'm looking forward to playing in 2012

If you run a gaming blog, every year has to end with a post about your favorite games of the past year and another post about the games you're most looking forward to playing in the coming one, right? Well, I checked that first box yesterday with this post, so today I might as well check the second box with the post you're currently reading.

This post originally contained 10 games, by the way, but it seemed a bit long so I broke it in two. As such, expect to see a similarly titled post published tomorrow that will include five more games that I'm looking forward to playing in 2012.

Bravely Default (3DS)--This Square Enix RPG looks like it's going to be a spiritual successor to 2010's Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. I consider that Final Fantasy side story to be one of my favorite DS games, so you can bet I'll be all over this one like white on rice--assuming it makes its way to North America.

Dragon Quest X (Wii)--I know a lot of long-time Dragon Quest fans were disappointed to hear that the series' latest installment would focus on an online-multiplayer experience, but I'm not one of them. In fact, I'm downright excited for this entry thanks in part because of its online focus and in part because it will feature more of the crazy customization that was present in its DS-based predecessor.

Final Fantasy Type-0 (PSP)--The word on the street is that this game--and, yes, it's another Final Fantasy offshoot--will be released in North America sometime this year. Here's hoping that's true and that the game will be released on PSP UMD (as opposed to PlayStation Vita card) and will feature the same fabulous cover art that appeared on Japanese copies of the title.

Inazuma Eleven (DS)--I have next to no interest in the game of soccer (or football, for those of you who live outside of North America), yet I want this game. Why? Because I've heard great things about it on the Internet--things like, "It's like a soccer-themed Pokemon game." I like the sound of that, so I'm planning to buy the first game in this series from the UK sometime next year. Who knows, I may buy the second one, too, which is scheduled to hit the streets throughout Europe in early 2012.

Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS)--Is it weird that the game that spurred me to ask for a 3DS for Christmas was this one? Well, it's true regardless. Oh, sure, I was keen on Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land, too, but not as keen as I am on Luigi's Mansion 2, which looks to take the basics presented in the GameCube-based original and run with them. The only downer at the moment? The folks at Nintendo of America have yet to give it a release date. (Please be sooner rather than later, please be sooner rather than later, please be sooner rather than later...)

What other games am I looking forward to playing in 2012? Come back tomorrow to find out!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My five favorite games of 2011

While reading through the following list, please keep in mind that I've yet to play a number of games that are sure to take up space on similar lists that appear on other blogs and sites--games like Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Mario Kart 7 and Uncharted 3.

Really, though, my lack of experience with the aforementioned games shouldn't matter much to those looking to add a few interesting, exciting or fun titles to their collections, since I'm not presenting the games below as "the best of 2011." Rather, I'm presenting them as the ones that provided me with the most enjoyment this past year.

1. Cladun x2 (PSP)--I know I have yet to write about this game as much as I wrote about its predecessor, but don't take that to mean I liked it less. On the contrary, I prefer Cladun x2 to the original Cladun in pretty much every way--and that's saying something, because I really enjoyed the first one. My favorite aspects of this sequel, though, are its insane customization options and its wider variety of, well, everything--characters, enemies, locales and weapons. If you own a PSP and you're at all into dungeon crawlers or roguelikes, this game is for you.

2. Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)--A blogger pal of mine recently said via Twitter that this game "is everything that is right about video games." I was skeptical of that comment until I actually obtained and played the game myself. Now I see why he said that, as Kirby's Return to Dream Land is pure joy from start to finish. Yes, it's fairly easy--just like nearly every other Kirby game that came before it--but that's not really the point. What is the point is that everything about it is fun--from the music to the graphics to the gameplay. I especially love obtaining and using Kirby's super abilities, which, in general, allow the little pink puff to wreak havoc on an entire screen's worth of enemies at once.

3. LaserCat (Xbox 360)--I've been sitting on a half-finished "somewhat gay review" of this XBLIG title ever since I beat it earlier in the year. That's a crying shame because I absolutely adored every minute I spent playing it. As for why that is: Well, it kind of reminds me of Metroid without any enemies and with a collect-a-bunch-of-keys-to-save-your-friend element thrown in for good measure. That's a rather simplistic description of this deliciously Day-Glo game, of course, but what else can you expect from a write-up that's just 100 words in length?

4. Sugar Shooter (PC)-- Admittedly, this came out in 2010, but it was at the very end of 2010 (Dec. 20, to be exact). Also, I only got my hands on it a few months ago. So, I'm including it here. What else can I say about this download-only, Windows-based game (unless you decide to spring for the boxed Japanese version) that I haven't said in previous posts? Not much, other than if you like shoot 'em ups and you aren't squeamish about seeing a bunch of manga-styled bears stripping and, er, sexin' it up, you're sure to get your money's worth out of Sugar Shooter.

5. Wizorb (Mac, PC, Xbox 360)--I spent a long time looking forward to playing this Tribute Games release and you know what? It was well worth the wait--especially given its $3 price tag. So much goodness is packed into this Breakout-meets-Zelda game that I feel bad that the guys at Tribute earned so little for all their effort. Really, I would have paid $40 for this had it been released for the Genesis back in the day. (Actually, I'd pay that now if it were released on cartridge and came with a full-color manual and box.) You don't have to love brick-breakers to find this appealing, by the way--all you have to do is love having fun.

Honorable mention: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (PS3, Xbox 360). Why didn't this downloadable game make the cut? As much as I love all of the options that were added to the original Pac-Man CE, I much prefer the first release's gameplay to that found in this buffed-up sequel.

See also: Past 'favorite games of the year' posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #49: Super Mario Bros. (Famicom)

Game: Super Mario Bros.
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Famicom
Release date: 1985

My question to anyone who owns a Famicom (or an NES) but doesn't own a copy of this game: What on earth is wrong with you? I know a large number of "must own" titles were released for Nintendo's first world-conquering console, but this one is the granddaddy of them all, and no Famicom/NES collection is complete without it. There are countless good reasons for that, of course, with the main one being that the game is supremely playable (and enjoyable) thanks to Shigeru Miyamoto and company's masterful programming--which makes all of the running and jumping and everything else in Super Mario Bros. feel so sublime--and level design. (Anna Anthropy, aka auntie pixelante, expertly expounds on the latter abilities in this blog post, by the way.) There's more behind the game's must-own status than that, though, or at least there is for me. I believe that another reason so many people have been enamored by Mario's first console outing over the years is how surreal it is. I mean, it's a bit like playing a dream, isn't it? A bizarre dream, admittedly, but a dream nonetheless. How else would you describe a game in which a mustachioed plumber battles walking mushrooms and flying turtles and once in a while plucks a flower from the ground that allows him to shoot bouncing balls of fire on his way to rescuing a princess named Peach?

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A few thoughts on the 3DS

Now that I've spent a bit of quality time with my 3DS, I thought I'd share a few early impressions of the system and its built-in software:

1. I love how shiny and vibrant system is--Honestly, my "flame red" 3DS looks like a jewel ... or (as I've said before) like a giant cherry Jolly Rancher that plays games. Unfortunately, the system's propensity for being smudged probably is going to drive me nuts.

2. I'm not crazy about the system's design--I've never much cared for the 3DS' ice-cream-sandwich-with-an-overbite construction, especially when compared to the original DS and the oh-so-slick DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL. That said, I don't plan on sitting and staring at my 3DS all that often, so who really cares if its design is kind of wonky?

3. The 3D effect is surprisingly cool--As well as a bit disorienting, at least at first. After spending a few days with it, though, it's much easier to take. Now, I can't seem to get enough of it. I especially like how it's put to use in Super Mario 3D Land.

4. The included software is awesome--I'm especially fond of Find Mii at the moment, although the AR games, Face Raiders, Swapnote and Pokedex 3D are cool, too. I can already tell, though, that I'll be obsessed with Find Mii (and Find Mii II) for a while.

5. The slide pad is better than I expected it to be--I've read lots of complaints about it on line, so I expected to dislike it, too. Thus far, though, it has yet to disappoint me. In fact, I don't even think about it while I'm using it--which signifies to me that it's pretty well made.

So, those are my initial thoughts on Nintendo's latest handheld system. What do all of you think of it so far?

1,500 (or so) posts!

Here's a bit of random news for all of you: This blog crossed the 1,500-post threshold back on Dec. 13. Woo hoo!

I intended to mention this achievement shortly after it happened, but I lost track of it due to the impending holidays and our similarly impending trip back to my hometown of McFarland, Wisconsin.

I think I'll celebrate tonight by having an extra glass (or maybe two) of wine for dinner. Or maybe I'll celebrate by buying a game I've been lusting after for a while. Or maybe I'll do both of those things.

Anyway, thank you all for visiting and commenting on this blog. Without you, I likely would have given up on it long ago!

Monday, December 26, 2011

What gaming-related gifts did you get?

With Christmas and the rest of the season's gift-giving holidays now behind us (or nearly behind us, since Kwanzaa just started) what gaming-related presents did all of you get?

I received just two gaming-related gifts this year, but one of them was a doozy: A "flame red" 3DS. (The other was a copy of Super Mario 3D Land. Read about it and the 3DS in yesterday's final "12 Games of Christmas" post.) You can bet I'll be spending some quality time with both of them today as the hubs and I fly back to Seattle.

I'll share all of my 3DS details--mainly my friend code, or whatever Nintendo's calling it this time around--shortly after we get home.

In the meantime, tell me in the comments section below what gaming-related gifts, if any, you received from your loved ones!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For the twelfth game of Christmas, the UPS man brought to me ...

... the brand-spanking-new copy of Nintendo's Super Mario 3D Land seen in the photo below.

Oh, and a "flame red" 3DS system to play it on.

I know I went on and on in previous posts about wanting a coral/misty/pearl pink 3DS, but I have to say I'm more than happy with the shiny red 3DS I got instead. It looks like a giant cherry Jolly Rancher that plays games! How could I not be pleased with such a device?

Anyway, I've yet to pop Super Mario 3D Land into my system, so I can't say anything about it at the moment. I plan on playing it tomorrow, though, so look for a post about it on Tuesday (or sometime later in the week).

I'll also share some thoughts on the 3DS itself later this week, in case anyone cares.

In the meantime, I hope all of you have enjoyed this seasonal series of posts. If not, at least it's over today, right?

See also: Previous '12 Games of Christmas' posts