Because I lack any humor I once had, I don’t want to do elaborate awards this year. Instead, I’ll give my thoughts on some games I explored or rediscovered this year. At the end, I comment about some things potentially coming in 2019.
The Alliance Alive
The little 3DS is so proud of its success, it can’t stop running victory laps. The Alliance Alive is a nice JRPG with some cool twists to the formula. For one, there’s no level-ups or experience points. Instead, you get an HP/SP boost after battles, so the character grows gradually and constantly. If a character dies in battle, their max HP is reduced, almost like a level-down. They also learn abilities while using different weapons, and abilities can improve by using those abilities. Abilities can even be disabled to make other moves more powerful, a nice recognition that some moves just become useless. There’s a progression tree thing for each character to customize them further, specific to each weapon they’re using. Overall, character growth is very interactive, and happens as the character fights. I didn’t need to do much grinding, though I did a lot of exploration in my partial playthrough. I’m pretty sure the game lets you take screenshots, so I might revisit (and finish!) for a full review.
Breath of the Wild
I’m reviewing this here so I don’t have to do a full one later. Since this game came with my Switch, I decided to play it to see what the fuss was about. I made an article a while ago about the Far Cry 3 Formula, throwing shade at games like The Phantom Pain and Breath of the Wild for using similar open world design. My suspicions were correct, using a very similar loop of aimless exploration, tiny rewards for tiny challenges, and braindead crafting mechanics. The game isn’t bad though, and implements the formula in the best way possible. There are some really cool moments and challenges in the game, and progression tries to keep you from being too overpowered. There is a lot of filler, though, and the map would benefit being a third of the size. That said, it’s a lot better at giving substantial rewards for things, even if sometimes that reward is 1/900 Korok seeds.
While we may have another Katamari remaster released this year (which is also good), Forever is more like a celebration of the series. All the levels are picked from other games, and redesigned for Forever. There’s a new jump mechanic, as well as powerups which mix up the gameplay. It’s fun revisiting old levels with new abilities, but sometimes the extra junk clutters the simplicity of the original games. Good thing they included a classic mode, which removes the new additions. There’s also a drive mode, which forces you to always move forward. Katamari Forever has so much content shoved in each corner of the game, it’s not hard to forget there’s barely any original content in the game itself.
I mentioned I got a Switch earlier, so I should talk about it a bit. While I may not go to roof parties, it’s nice just to have a quick multiplayer round of Smash or Mario Kart to mask my crippling social anxiety. But the multiplayer component is not nearly as attractive as the singleplayer games. Octopath Traveller is really fun, especially as a follow-up to the Bravely games on 3DS. I also have Bayonetta 1 and 2 on it to get my character action fix. I can’t be more excited for a new Animal Crossing, and the new Picross S series is fulfilling my addiction to the puzzle series. I’ve been burned too many times to be excited for Metroid Prime 4, but I’m still intrigued by its potential. There’s a series of Sega ports by the madmen at M2, with useful extra features (like an automap for Phantasy Star, or a spin/drop dash in Sonic 1). The online service Nintendo is offering is garbage and I hate needing to pay for it, and I’m disappointed they’ve abandoned virtual console for this subscription crap. “Oh well, at least it’s only $20/year” says every Switch owner.
EDF 5 came out in the West, but only on PS4. If Sandlot/D3 is reading this, please put it on PC, thanks.
Ace Combat 7 is extremely close and looks great, but its PC port uses Denuvo and I can’t justify buying that. I’m sorry Bamco won’t let me buy your game, Kono.
Devil May Cry V is coming out soon and looks really fun, though it also uses Denuvo and I may not get around to it until later. I’m sorry Crapcom won’t let me buy their game, Trio.
Game Freak is making a game called Town whose premise of a single town seems similar to Tsugunai: Atonement. If it’s not as handholdy as Pokémon S&M I might pick it up.
Suda51 said he’s only making No More Heroes 3 if Travis Strikes Again sells well. I really don’t like it when devs do that, it’s like they’re forcing me to buy a game I don’t want. TSA still looks kind of interesting, so I might get it on deep sale.
There’s probably going to be another Picross S game too! Super excited for that.
Watch out for a Christmas game review in March
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