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Monster Hunter Freedom unite3In a previous post, I talked about how hard it was for me to try to enjoy Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite. I tried and tried to feel like all the times I died or was screwed up by some system that I didn’t know about yet were somehow worth it in order to say that I was good at the game. Ultimately, I gave up on it.

Thankfully, my brother and I later had a conversation about how he was breezing through Monster Hunter 3 and that encouraged me to try to understand the way the game worked before finally deleting it for the extra memory on my Vita. With that little extra effort I put in (along with what was probably a competitive drive, seeing as how my brother is six years younger than me), the game finally opened up to me.

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LexI rarely download word-based mobile games any more. Honestly, they’re usually such a disappointment that I just figure why bother buying yet another Scrabble or Boggle clone? Do I REALLY need to play some new version of what’s already been done to death? Turns out, yes, I really do.

Lex isn’t really the same as Scrabble or word-finds or crosswords, even though I’m sure it’s a copy of some game or other that’s out there (see my article on 2048 vs Threes). Instead of giving you the chance to mull over your words like Scrabble does, it forces you to play before each letter’s individual timer runs out. Instead of giving you a set of letters to choose from like Boggle does, it constantly replaces the letters that you make words out of, showing only nine letters in an unchangeable order at one time.

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RELEASED
Dec 21 2013

PLATFORMS
iOS
Android

DEVELOPER
Magma Fortress

PUBLISHER
Magma Fortress

Simple but surprisingly challenging, Hoplite delivers an incredibly replayable experience while managing to stay fresh every time. 

Hoplite is a great example of how unassuming packaging backed up by solid mechanics and rewarding gameplay can all combine to make a simple game into something I can’t stop myself from coming back to over and over again. The game does everything right, from balanced AI to achievements that actually reward you with something tangible.

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Patapon 2 Logo

RELEASED
NA: May 5 2009
EU: March 6 2009

PLATFORMS
PSP

PSV

DEVELOPER
Pyramid
Japan Studios

PUBLISHER
Sony

This strange little rhythm game has a lot to offer, refusing to limit itself to a simple “match the beat to win” sidescroller.

I won’t lie: when I first played Patapon 2, I really hated it. Not only did it throw me off with how precise your button presses needed to be, it seemed like you needed to bring just the right loadout to even make it halfway through the game. As I got more and more familiar with it though, things started to open up.

The game has a fairly simple premise and delivers on it well. You have to press buttons that correspond with songs you’ve learned to make your army of Patapons move, attack, defend, or summon the gods. You move on a flat plane from left to right so it is a sidescroller but it’s definitely not a platformer. Instead, it delivers a really engaging–if sometimes frustrating–strategic experience. continue reading…

Monster Hunter Freedom uniteI got Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite a while ago on my Vita, played about five minutes of it, got totally overwhelmed, and gave up. The game is HUGE. Whether it’s crafting stuff, figuring out the best armour combinations (which can grant you skills, I think), or just picking a weapon that works for you, the game has tons of content and I’ve seen people say that they’ve sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into it.

My first instinct when I come across a game like this is “I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it.” That’s a shitty attitude, I agree, but it’s hard imagining myself dedicating that much time to one game when a) there are so many other awesome games out there and b) I do not, in any way, have that much free time on my hands. Still, I’m now trying to get into it again and there’s one thing I’m starting to notice, something that hasn’t really shown up in a lot of other games I’ve played recently: Monster Hunter is weirdly satisfying in an incredibly elitist way.

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Blek

I recently ran across a mobile game called Blek. It’s a paid app so I avoided it stupidly until I saw it show up on a few “Top 10” lists across the internet. So I paid my 99 cents and jumped in.

The game didn’t really seem like much: the opening screen was just a black circle and a smaller blue circle with a hand drawing a half-circle shape. Weird. No instructions, no menus, no flashy splash logo. So I touched the circles, but still nothing.

Finally, after “clicking” around the screen, I swiped my finger and the game opened up. The sketchy black line I had drawn multiplied over and over again, bouncing off the wall and, fortunately, colliding with the blue circle. That was it, tutorial over.

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Eliss InfinityAnyone who has owned or played a Nintendo 64 knows what it’s like to question how exactly you should be holding your controller. Is it left and right? Middle and right? How do I use the Z button if I need the D-pad?

Obviously, things have changed over time, although the same basic principles have prevailed since the arcade era: push buttons and tilt sticks to move and act. Of course, the ubiquity of the touch screen nowadays makes things a little more free-range, although many games stick to the idea of buttons and a single cursor (which is basically the modern equivalent of a joystick). That is, until you run up against games like Eliss Infinity.

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woman1Meeting a woman who plays video games is no longer a cause for surprise; instead, it’s gone through a weird variety of reactions from “you’re obviously a poser” to “man, I wish I could wife that!” Both are equally generalizing, obviously, but the concept of women in the field of video games seems to fascinate people.

For anyone who’s perused my author page, you’ll know that I have a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature but what it doesn’t say is that my specialization was in feminist and gender studies literature. I’m not an activist, I’m not even an outspoken person, but I am interested in watching out gender dynamics play out in everyday life and more and more lately, the video game world has become my everyday life.

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DestinyI haven’t actually played Destiny yet, although I have a feeling that, for the first time in a very long time, I might be willing to engage with a game that is made to be played as a multiplayer experience. The game will be “always online” which basically just means they want you to be online so they didn’t waste their money implementing tons of multiplayer stuff. I’m not certain if the game stops you from playing without an internet connection, but if it does, I’m sure it won’t for long.

Everything I’ve heard about the multiplayer experience in this game makes me reconsider my long-standing hatred of playing online in general. While playing COD or Halo against others online wasn’t fun for me just because those types of games don’t appeal strongly to me, playing games like Borderlands 2 online was still pretty disappointing in some respects, something that Bungie seems to be directly addressing in Destiny.

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Wolfenstein New OrderA lot of first-person shooters claim that they offer two ways to complete every mission: stealthily or with a full frontal assault. Unfortunately, a lot of games fall flat in that regard, or if they DO manage to have some sort of noticeable ability to assassinate or avoid enemies, the reward is the same as when you just unload on them (i.e. enemies are now dead or you got to the goal).

That’s why playing Wolfenstein: The New Order was so refreshing for me: the reward for spending the time avoiding enemies and sneakily stabbing them in the neck was actually a gift and not just “okay, now you can say you did it with stealth but we’ll reward you and the fighty guy in the same way.”

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