Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mini-reviews of the 19 games I finished in 2019, part two

My last post featured mini-reviews of 10 of the 19 games I finished this year. Here are some similarly succinct write-ups for the remaining nine titles I completed in 2019.

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS)--I first played and finished Hotel Dusk: Room 215 back in 2015. I wish I could give you a good reason as to why it took me until 2019 to play and finish this follow-up, which released in 2010. The best I can come up with is I wanted to savor the experience and felt like I couldn't do so until this year. At any rate, I loved Last Window--much like I loved Hotel Dusk. Although these two point-and-click murder-mystery titles are strikingly similar, they're just different enough to be equally enthralling. There's no question in my mind that I'll replay both--many times over--in the coming years.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)--Given my love of the GameBoy, it probably seems strange that I didn't play Link’s Awakening back when the original version released in 1993. I did download the GameBoy Color DX version from the 3DS eShop a few years ago, but I only put a couple of hours into it before walking away for some reason I can't remember. So, what did I think of this Switch remake? I liked it. I wouldn't say I loved it, though. That's mainly because I regularly had to refer to a guide to figure out what to do or where to go next. I also found the game a bit disjointed. All in all, it was far from a turd, but it also didn't live up to my expectations--or to my previous, more positive experiences with the series' first release, A Link to the Past, or even A Link Between Worlds.

The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince (Switch)--I did more than finish this Nippon Ichi Software-made game once; I finished it twice. That's how much I enjoyed The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. What was it about it this darkly cute puzzler-platformer that prompted such adoration? Its touching, fairy-tale-esque story was the chief culprit, though its unique gameplay, soothing tunes, and eye-catching art style played key roles, too. By the way, I'm far from done with this title, which also can be played on the PS4 and Vita (though the latter was a Japan-only release). In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if I beat it a couple more times in 2020.

Luigi's Mansion 3 (Switch)--I developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with the 3DS port of the original Luigi's Mansion when I played through it last year. Did the same thing happen when I played through Luigi's Mansion 3 this year? I'm sad to say it sort of did. On the love side, there are the Pixar-worthy graphics, the beautifully varied floor themes, and the surprisingly creative puzzles. On the hate side, there are the frustrating controls and the occasional lack of direction. In the end, I'm glad I bought, played, and finished Luigi's Mansion 3, but I'm not sure I'll ever return to it.

Mother 3 (GameBoy Advance)--Those of you who've known me for at least a little while should be well aware of the fact that I'm a late bloomer when it comes to Nintendo's  deservedly ballyhooed Mother series. I didn't play through its second entry, called EarthBound in my neck of the woods, until 2014. And I waited all the way until 2017 to do the same with the original Mother. I adored both titles, so I approached Mother 3 with the highest of expectations. Although I can't say it disappointed me, I can say I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. The chapter structure kind of turned me off, plus I thought it felt a tad padded. That said, I have every intention of replaying it at some point down the road--after I've replayed the first two Mother games, of course.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Switch)--I hate to admit this, but sometimes the hype surrounding a game turns me off to the point that I stubbornly ignore it. That's what kept me from playing classics like EarthBound and Undertale for so long, and it's what kept me from diving into the Ace Attorney series, too. As was the case with those aforementioned titles, I'm now hitting myself for my stupidity. I can honestly say I loved nearly every minute of the 20-ish hours I put into the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Switch port this spring. If I had known its characters, soundtrack, and writing were so brilliant, I would've raced through it when the DS port made it way stateside back in 2005.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (DS)--I avoided this DS port of Nippon Ichi's PlayStation RPG from 2000 for ages because the word on the street was that it was filled with game-killing glitches and bugs. I finally threw caution to the wind and picked up a copy this summer, though--in part because my curiosity got the best of me, and in part because I desperately wanted to play a short game for a change. Well, guess what? The risk paid off. I had a blast with Rhapsody. Its colorful cast of characters--the fiendish Etoile, in particular--was the highlight for me, but I also got a kick out of its puppet-focused battles and its Easter-egg aesthetic.

Touch Detective (DS)--Despite my years-long fascination with developer BeeWorks' Funghi mascot, I didn't play the game that birthed it until early 2019. My thoughts after putting over seven hours into said DS title (which was just enough to reach its end credits)? Touch Detective is the definition of "mixed bag," though for me its positives outweighed its negatives. As for its bright spots: those would be its marvelously weird aesthetic, characters, and mysteries. Admittedly, that last component confounded me more than I'd usually like, but it didn't annoy me here as it often does in similar situations.

Unou no Tatsujin: Soukai! Machigai Museum (DS)--This game was renamed QuickSpot when Namco released it in North America. I bought a copy of the Japanese version--hey, it's got the better cover illustration--after some folks on Twitter recommended it. A few bucks and about a week later, I was done with it. Don't take that as complaint. I was done with it because I'd gone through all of its spot-the-difference stages (or whatever you call such things). Yes, this is a digital, dual-screened photo-hunt game. Sounds like I real snooze, I know, but it's actually quite nice--thanks in large part to all the lovely art packed inside it.

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