The game most comparable to LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (the 3DS prequel to the Wii U’s LEGO City Undercover) is probably Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP. Both offer portable takes on their more fully featured console brother. Both offer open-world experiences that had, up until that point, been unattempted on their respective handhelds. Both offer an approximation of the full experience that check all the boxes. You know, like the Guitar Hero game on the DS. It’s just like playing a fun game.
Technically, on paper, both The Chase Begins and Liberty City Stories should be perfect handheld versions of these huge, expansive, incredible console games. But both fall short, and miss out on the “magic” that made the home versions so memorable. Simply, if you had only played the 3DS version of LEGO City Undercover, I don’t think you’d really “get” what makes the Wii U game one of my favorite games of all time. And even though they’re technically different games (in the most literal sense of the word) and follow undercover cop Chase McCain through an earlier part of his police career, they’re set in the same world and you’ll do many (read: all) of the same things. But it’s just… not quite as fun. And that’s without even mentioning up the pop-in, the fog, or the lack of a turbo button and things to discover on bridges. Continue reading
My first Super Mario World experience was in second grade, when I was about seven years old. My family had moved into a small two bedroom apartment in Layton, Utah, while we waited for a space in military housing to open up. It’s weird, the things our minds choose to remember from that age.
I remember playing checkers with the Hispanic mother that lived below us. Her kids were too young to play with me, and other games were too complicated for me to understand. I remember an older guy, Ron, that lived in the next block of apartments over. He worked with my dad and had some medical condition I never noticed or understood. He also had a dartboard and a car so small that I could move it just by leaning on it while it sat in its parking space. I put more than a few holes in his wall. Sorry about your security deposit, Ron. That’s what happens when you let second graders play darts in your apartment. Continue reading
Batman: Arkham City is a game that I finally got around to playing and – a few days after starting – beating. I kinda loved it. There was a ton to do even outside the main storyline, the Rogue Gallery was out in full force, and you got to play around with all those funky bat-gadgets. Sure, there were some control niggles and just figuring out how to get out of the sewers took me over half an hour, but overall… would recommend. A-.
There’s one thing I can’t get over, though. Batman, the hero/protagonist/good guy of our tale, is the GRUMPIEST cat this side of Grumpy Cat (who actually appears quite happy when still shots aren’t taken out of context). The one time he tells a joke (after being saved by Catwoman) was something like, “Thanks. I think I broke a nail back there,” and it was delivered with more acid than many of the harshest insults I’ve ever heard. Luckily, Catwoman quickly shuts that down: “Leave the one-liners to me.” So maybe it’s not that Batman doesn’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that his sidekicks won’t let him have a sense of humor…? Continue reading
While reading a pile of BioShock Infinite reviews so I, in turn, could review them, I realized something: once you get past the intro, so many reviews devolve into saying the same thing about a particular game in a slightly different way. It’s the introductions where the writing shines most clearly, because – underneath it all – aren’t we game writers just trying to hook you, to get you to keep reading, to make you come back and read more again soon? I know I am. I should probably update more than twice a month. That might help.
To make it up to you, here’s something unique: a LEGO City Undercover review in the form of three different review intros, all taking a different approach to telling you that you should go buy this game immediately. Maybe I just couldn’t figure out a middle or an end and just kept coming up with beginnings. You’ll never know. Enjoy. Continue reading
After spending a solid 20 minutes on one battle Draw-ing 100 Blind spells for each of three characters in Final Fantasy VIII on my PSP last night, I realized something. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it sooner, like when I spent a solid summer playing nothing but Animal Crossing: Wild World - even then, the playtime was largely on the toilet until my legs fell asleep – or that time I had to teach Ultima to everyone in the Game Boy Advance port of Final Fantasy VI, one Cactuar at a time, to prepare for the final battle. I don’t play handheld games for the riveting story, or “meaning,” or immersion (although finding those things is great). I use handheld systems, including my smartphone, as a time suck. I play them to waste time, or kill time, or do any number of other unspeakable acts to time because – to me – they are merely a stopgap until I can get back to my “real” games on my home consoles.
And that’s okay. Continue reading
Since my first NFL Shuffle post way back on February 6, I have continued to play this silly little game every single day (an hour-long commute gives you plenty of handheld gaming time). Despite there being seemingly no maximum level, I think I can safely say I’ve reached the endgame content, where the actual progression of the game becomes minimal and I play merely because it’s now part of my daily routine. My team contains some of the strongest players in the game, the only guys that can beat me have probably spent $100 on in-app purchases (IAP), and the single-player mode has reached a point where the opponents are so difficult that… only the handful of people that spent $100 on IAP even have a chance. And even then, the opponents’ weakest characters are as tough as your strongest.
The most interesting thing about spending so long on one game, however, is really getting to know it, to understand it, to appreciate it in ways that many of us with busy adult lives have no time or inclination to do with most titles. There’s a lot of games released every month, after all, and we can only play one at a time. (Why I spent something like 100 commutes on NFL Shuffle… that’s a whole ‘nother post, probably in a psychology case study magazine somewhere.)
With NFL Shuffle, it’s interesting seeing how it has evolved before my eyes, from a game where – in the beginning – each new player was a quantum leap improvement over your old team, to what I now play daily: a game based on luck, exploiting weakness, and nigh-unbeatable adversaries. Continue reading
I tried to like Monster Hunter, I really did. I put a solid two weeks into the PSP’s Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and didn’t even get past the dozens upon dozens of tutorials. Protip for developers: I can learn more than one thing per introductory mission – it’s not against the law.
Then when the 3DS and Wii U Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate demos came out recently, I put a lot of time into them, as well. (It didn’t take long to realize that they’re exactly the same – a fact I was not aware of before trying both.) I keep giving the series a chance, however, because it’s a brand new Wii U exclusive coming out this week, and I would love nothing more than a never-ending world to explore with my underused Wii U.
Imagine: one game that can absorb your life for months… Sigh. I feel I am doomed to wait until Dark Souls 2 before I can find another game that will sink its barbs into me and never let go like I wish one would.
Each game in the Monster Hunter series is pretty much the same, and I think I’ve finally figured out why it doesn’t push the buttons I need, and why it probably never will. See, I grew up with RPGs, and Monster Hunter is definitely one of those. But it’s the wrong kind. Continue reading