Costume Quest, the 2010 Halloween-themed RPG from Double Fine Productions, is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s more than just the obvious reason (me being a Halloween obsessive). It’s funny, it’s clever, the combat is surprisingly nuanced for a turn-based RPG, and the game just looks great. The transformation from cutesy recycled costumes out of cardboard boxes and fishing line to action/anime style fighters with elaborate killing moves is stunning. The monsters are challenging and creepy without being super threatening and the dialogue from the NPCs is entertaining enough to justify meeting every person you can.
The story is pretty simple. Twin siblings Reynold and Wren are told they have to go trick or treating together. You chose one to control and the other gets kidnapped after he is mistaken for candy by monsters. The monsters are collecting candy to bring a giant baddie to life on Halloween in a plot by a sorceress to take over the world. Reynold/Wren has to find his/her twin with the help of trick or treaters, a lot of candy, and cool costumes made from material around town.
This is a game changer, people. The newest entry in Nintendo’s Mario Kart series lets you upload game-generated highlights reels (or complete races, for that matter) to YouTube.
That way, I can point out things like this: the new Mario Kart lets you ride a carousel horse cart with big wooden wheels. It’s…not an advantage at all except for looking super kawaii. I feel like Kyary while losing every online race I enter. Mii + Carousel Car = Winning.
I finally finished proctoring AP Exams today, so I can cement the content schedule for next week when I’m in Florida through Friday and then immediately jumping into PressManMode at Book Expo America.
Just a quick post while I’m thinking about these things. I have a thing where I obsessively play games for months and months, sometimes because they last that long and more often because I fall in love and just keep beating/exploring them. These are the ones I can’t stop playing in May.
Child of Light (Wii U)
I reviewed a new eShop game for the Wii U over at Gizorama. I loved everything about it except the user interface and the lack of any directions at all for an action/platformer game.
No horror game series ever grabbed my interest and scared me quite as much as Fatal Frame. Sure, I prefer Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and even Illbleed, but neither of those continued after a first entry.
Fatal Frame is all about the camera obscura. Essentially, developer Tecmo created a mythology around existing technology. An actual camera obscura is an early projection device, the kind of thing used for entertainment in a parlor or by a travelling show to convince people ghosts are real.
In Fatal Frame, there is no trick of the imagination; the ghosts are real and the camera obscura is your only defense.
We covered the best games of the year yesterday. Now we dig deeper. With a year this rich in video game media, it’s a disservice to not look at the great work that goes into video games.
Finally, a ranked list for The Sketchys. There are ranked and unranked categories depending on what makes sense to me. Ranking games makes sense; ranking comics this year didn’t.
2013 was a fantastic year for gaming. It really was. A few noteworthy titles that fall short of my list for various reasons include The Last of Us (great if your eyes are capable of seeing where to go in darkened FPS-level design), Long Live the Queen (frustrating but engaging interactive micromanaging visual novel), Luigi’s Mansion (like the GameCube version, only prettier), Rogue Legacy (best played with a controller even though it was programmed for PC), and Antichamber (the mind-bending maze game with less replay value from 2013).
I’m going to make a preemptive strike on my game awards this year. I like to experience something different in gaming. It’s how Super Hexagon, Dear Esther, Journey, and even browser games like Dys4ia and Orange Roulette made my Best of 2012 list. It comes down to how well the game is made and how strong the concept is.
I’m not going to lie. My 2013 list is going to be even stranger. I’ve become a Steam bundle addict in the past year so I play a lot of tiny little games that exist just to challenge the form and function of video games. For every Tomb Raider I rave about, there’s an Accelerator that does one thing so well and so different from other similar games that I go gaga over it. Which is better? Which will actually make my list? I don’t know.
What I do know is the new episode of Extra Credits tackles “What Is a Game?” with a resounding “Who cares?” They boil it down to interactivity with choice. I like that. It covers everything from 9.03 and Gone Home to BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us. There is no way that every game made will appeal to every gamer, but not liking a game does not make it any less of a game.
So keep that in mind when things like Long Live the Queen, Paranormal, and Papers, Please might wind up going toe to toe with Ni No Kuni, Metro: Last Light, and Arkham Origins. I still have a lot of games to play through but some really wild experiments are catching my interests more than some of the big console and PC titles this year.