The Legend of Zelda has long been favorable series for me, and I've especially been fond of the handheld titles. Actually, the very first Zelda game I ever completed was Links Awakening DX for the Gameboy Color, and if that game didn't set the bar high for expectations then I don't know what would. So how exactly is A Link Between Worlds fairing for me so far? Read along and you'll find out!
A couple things you should know about my Zelda background. I absolutely loved Link's Awakening. I also enjoyed Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, which my buddy and I swapped back in the day so that we could complete the whole story (very cool experience btw). That being said, this game serves as 'sequel' (in some ways) to A Link to the Past, which I have never beaten. I'm very familiar with the game itself, including music and the general storyline. That being said, this game oozes with nostalgia and charisma from the old Snes classic, and fuses in elements of more modern Zelda titles to help create a very fun, engrossing and overall enjoyable experience even for newcomers to the series. The game can very much be played by it's own merits, and I really admire that Nintendo has made that possible.
From the very start, you're immersed into a scenario very similar to A Link to the Past, where Link is lazily sleeping in (as has been the case in many games). From there on, you're out and about, and the plot immediately dives into action. I'm going to try my best NOT to give out any big spoilers here, but just know that if you are familiar with A Link to the Past at all, then you'll be familiar with your surroundings immediately. One thing I can definitely say about A Link Between Worlds is that it is visually impressive. The game looks stunning, and at 60fps plays as smooth as a hot knife through butter. There is a fine balance between 3D visuals and the traditional downward view that gives this game a fine aesthetic presentation. It can really only be justified by seeing it for yourself in action, so don't pass judgement based on blown up images online.
See this guy ^ he's a dick. Not only that, but he's a bit of a pushover. Again, I don't want to give any spoilers, but you'll quickly learn to dislike him. His name is Yuga, and he will serve as one of the leading antagonist in this story. His theme music is strangely likable though - I actually grew to enjoy my encounters with the creepy clown just to hear it. Those of you who are familiar with Ganondorf will notice that he has somewhat of a similar resemblance, but of course there are reasons for that. One big premise of this game is that there are two different worlds with characters of similar, yet different backgrounds. Hyrule is of course the land we all know and love, however you'll come to discover Lorule (little cliche, but oh well), which is Hyrule's virtual opposite in many ways. I've enjoyed exploring both worlds in their own merits, and I think that the balance between exploration in both worlds is divided up very well. Did I mention that the remix music for Lorules domain is also very catchy? If you enjoyed your trips to the Dark World in A Link to the Past, then you'll enjoy Lorule just as much.
This game actually carries resemblance to Ocarina of Time as well. The 7 sages play a large role in this story, and I think that most fans of the series will enjoy seeing how their roles affect the overall game. I can appreciate that there are many ideas 'borrowed' from previous titles to help sculpt this game, and while it might come across to some gamers as 'lazy' it has all been crafted and intertwined into an all new story so well that it really doesn't bother me in the least bit.
Ah Ravio....the peddling rabbit man. Ravio is the merchant character in this game that will rent/sell you ALL of your necessary equipment right away, isn't that nifty? Bombs, Staffs, Bows, Boomerangs, you name it, he has it! You can rent all of your equipment, and keep it so long as you can stay alive. Want to keep it for good? It will cost you a pretty penny, but you may purchase all of these items from him is you so choose. I've yet to beat the game, so I myself am not aware of what all secrets this character has in store for us, but I know it will be interesting to see just how he intertwines with the plot. For now, all you need to know is that he basically steals your house and turns it into his shop, seems like the right neighborly thing to do, right? **minor spoiler alert** it should go on the record that I'm VERY curious as to why Majora's Mask lays creepishly on your wall from the moment the game starts. For some reason, I have the gut feeling telling me that Ravio may have something to do with it later on. RANDOM hunch.
So far, I'm VERY pleased with this handheld Zelda game. This is the kind of handheld title Zelda fans have been waiting for, and I've yet to feel disappointment in the slightest bit! I've still much work left ahead of me before I beat this title, but I'm as hooked on a Zelda game as I've been in a very, VERY long time. Chris and Jim may not have exactly 'loved' this title, but I honestly think any other fan of the series would. Forget about how frustrating Phantom Hour Glass or Spirit Tracks were, A Link Between Worlds seems to be exactly what the medicine witch ordered (get it? No? Well damn).
One of the things that I find hilariously obnoxious is the fact that gamers, well...human beings, are impatient. I've read countless post from D-toid, to IGN, to Kotaku to even The Escapist (hi Jimmy!) having users riddle them with raw hatred for the next gen consoles because they don't have good launch lineups! A real travesty, right?
Except....they're wrong. I'll never understand at what point we've become so preconceit with games that unless a website gives it a perfect 10 out of 10, there's no way we can bring it into our homes. I understand that money is tight, and that gaming isn't a cheap pastime, however I've said it before and I'll say it again that reviews aren't everything, and that one should never judge a book by it's cover. In this little blog, I'm going to give some insight on some launch title games across the PS4 AND Xbox One (no hatin' in hurr) that ARE perfect for a launch lineup and WILL keep you satisfied and entertained for a long time.
Let's look at your multi-platforms!
Call of Duty: Ghosts/Battlefield 4 - Two very different games, but I put them side by side because they generally serve the same purposes. They are both well designed fps titles that tend to have a large fanbase and solid mechanics, making them strangely addictive (I don't know how, but they do). Both of these titles look very, VERY good on the PS4 and Xbox One, better than on either systems older siblings. If you're a gamer who has already divulged in them before the launch of next gen consoles, then you might want to pass up on them due to the fact that you are going to receive an almost identical experience, however if you're looking for a sharper image and just really want to put that new system to work, you won't be disappointed with either game. The multiplayer in both titles will keep your average gamer busy for hours on hours.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag - Many critics have praised Assassin's Creed 4 for giving the gamers everything they wanted from Assassin's Creed 3, and then building a more fun loving atmosphere for them to enjoy. Assassin's Creed games are also very addictive in their stealthy style of gameplay, and one can spend many hours just exploring the open world atmosphere. I've yet to play the game myself, but as a HUGE fan of ACIII, you can bet that this game is going to be on my Christmas list this year. Again, this game is multi-platform and has a 360/PS3 release as well, but looks absolutely gorgeous on the Xbox One and PS4.
Madden 25/NBA 2K14 - Obviously not EVERY gamer on the market is into sports games, however those that are will be kept pretty busy with these two titles. Madden 25 and NBA 2K14 both feature stunning visuals on the Xbox One and PS4, and give fans of the NFL and NBA a chance to make their favorite franchises a winner (yes, even the Chiefs....wait, they have 9 wins???). As a gamer of all genres, I've put many, many, many hours into building a franchise with my favorite teams, and while the gameplay is repetitive, it always keeps me coming back for more.
Killzone: Shadow Fall - Possibly the MOST standout game on the PS4 in terms of it's graphical capabilities. Did I mention I'd really like to own this game? While Battlefield and Call of Duty are both very solid fps titles, Killzone (Sony's flagship fps title) stands to offer PS4 owners something unique. Fans of the series won't be disappointed with this installment, and should be kept busy playing through the campaign and multiplayer features. This one will likely be the IP launch title that will be remembered for years.
Knack - Knack is a simple and innovative title that seems perfect for a launch lineup. Every open minded gamer should own a platformer or two, and Knack serves that purpose well by all means. Critics have hampered Knack for not being the mind blowing experience that games like Rayman or Super Mario have been, but that doesn't mean you should simply blow it off. There is a certain charm to the game that I personally find very appealing. Knack is the kind of game that was made to catch on with younger audiences, as well as gamers who still have that fun loving innocent side in them, and hey, why shouldn't your girlfriend/wife have a fun game to share on the PS4 as well?
Warframe - This game is actually a multi-platform as well between PC and PS4, but I figured it was DEFINITELY worth mentioning. I have probably put more time into this PS4 title than any other game so far, and best of all - IT'S FREE TO PLAY! Warframe looks gorgeous on the PS4, and as a mission based 3rd person shooter, I find it incredibly fun and addictive. The gameplay leans heavily on cooperative teamwork, which I like about it a lot. More of a lone wolf? That's fine too, as there is a solo setting allowing for users to go into missions on their own (though by the time you get to a survival or defense mission, you'll regret it). You can customize your 'tenno' in terms of weapon sets, mods, accessories and colors. If you're into parkour, guns and slicing things with swords, you'll find yourself getting hooked to this game as well.
Xbox One Exclusives?
Dead Rising 3 - Zombies. Zombies everywhere. You can smash them, crash them, throw them, shoot them, bop them, zap them, fry them.....I mean they're frickin' zombies! Dead Rising 3 is a vast open world zombie masher. Like it's previous two titles, one can spend hours on hours just letting loose their inner rage on the undead. Did I mention it looks gorgeous? If this game is any indication of what the Xbox One is capable of, then I'm sure fans can look forward to a long eventful future.
Ryse: Son of Rome - Another title that has been hampered by critics, however there is much more to Ryse than meets the eye. Visually, the game looks stunning and features very fun battle mechanics and scenarios. Ever wanted to fight in the front lines of the Roman Empire? Here's your chance. The game does have some sequential patterns (Hit X....Hit A.....Hit B), however these normally transfer into some gruesome battle scenes that many gamers will find entertaining. Ryse should keep the casual and hardcore gamer alike entertained for all it's worth.
Killer Instinct - One thing the Xbox One definitely has over the PS4 is Killer Instinct, a great online fighter game that is even free to play....that is until you get bored with Jago. Even that set back aside, it's an incredibly fun game that carries much of the nostalgic charisma that the Super Nintendo predecessor carried. If gamers choose to purchase them, there is a wide variety of unique characters to choose from, each with their own unique moves and advantages. Fighter titles like this don't exactly come around every year, and Xbox One fans are lucky to have it right at their fingertips exclusively. All Xbox One owners should at least give it a download.
So guys, stop the whining and complaining about how there's 'no games to play' on the new consoles....because quite frankly that's a flat out lie. There is PLENTY of fun to keep gamers occupied into next year, and then some....unless you're one of those gamers that HAS to have something new every other week, in which all I can say is share the wealth man.
As some of you know, I'm a small school music teacher/avid gamer. Today was another fine rehearsal for the band, and I had released everyone to go to lunch but my 10th-12th grade students who eat lunch during an earlier shift. During our downtime, I brought up the fact that I had recently purchased a PS4, and that I was thoroughly enjoying the system (you'd be surprised how well video games can help you build a relationship with your students). That's when my one lone senior said the saddest thing I had heard all day. "I asked my parents if they'd consider buying me a PS4 for Christmas, but they say that since I'm turning 18 I'm too old for video games".
18 years old. Too old for video games. Pardon my language everyone, but I call bullshit.
I too have contemplated this notion before, especially as a teacher. I've asked myself the question "Am I getting too old for video games?" "Does it make me look immature to be playing video games at the age of 24?" etc. The well rounded conclusion I've come up with is obviously, NO.
I've been a video game enthusiast since I was just a kid. I've ALWAYS loved video games, from the early Sega Master System (my first ever console), to the Nes, Genesis, Snes, N64, PS1, Dreamcast, Xbox, 360, and now PS4. I still have a hidden infatuation with Sonic The Hedgehog (The official poster from Sonic 2 currently hangs proudly in my office), and I've marched the Mario Bros. through every adventure to date. I grew up playing video games for fun, but I've found that my experience playing video games has also helped me to mature as I have aged. Games like Final Fantasy tore at my heart, Madden, NCAA Football/Basketball and MLB The Show further helped me understand the sports that I've long adored. Grand Theft Auto taught me what NOT to do as I got older. Guitar Hero further expanded my love and passion for music to a whole new level. In many ways, video games helped me to grow up every bit as much as my family and social experiences.
So where does it end? When should one draw the line that says "I'm too old" for video games? I say never. Gaming is a hobby, it is a cultural phenomenon. It sparks magic in the eyes of children, and invokes thought and emotion in older audience members. I feel like as technology and video games evolve, we can further promote gaming and fun experiences across all age groups. Should I feel bad for playing Pokemon X and having a blast, or shouting out in excitement and joy as I hold up my brand new PS4?
Video games make me happy. They remind me of my youth, in a positive way. They help me to remember a time of innocence and pure bliss through the magic of a controller and tv screen. That feeling doesn't have to die, and I certainly hope that most people realize this. I sure hope that that student of mine doesn't get the impression that he's "getting too old for gaming", because to me, that excuse is nothing more than a sad reason to save money, or a crude way of killing off any creativity or innocence left in that boys mind.
And when I have my own child, I will be damn proud when the time comes to put a controller in his/her hands and share the same passion and excitement that I have long embraced throughout my life (starting with the Snes, of course).
Hey hey hey, how's your PS4 today? Don't have one yet? That's fine, don't be in a huge rush.
I'm one of the lucky ones who has been able to collect my PS4 early, and I will say I'm quite pleased with the investment. From the earliest moments of installation, it becomes obvious the PS4 works fast. You'll quickly breeze through your setup, and be able to navigate the menus and PS Store. Of course there will be updates ready and waiting for you, however it won't take long for them to load either. I was pleased with how quickly I was able to download Netflix (it literally took seconds). My next big move was to download Warframe (I'd highly recommend other users take this action, it's free to play and quite frankly, the early launch library can use all the help it can get).
The user interface is pretty easy and straight forward. You can join party conversations with friends, or you may simply resort to messaging friends via chat or text (nothing too new). The Dualshock 4 however makes this even easier with it's very clear built in microphone. I must say, the Dualshock 4 has modified the Dualshock 3, almost improving it in every way. I will say that the controller is spaced out a bit farther than the Dualshock 3, which took me some getting use to. The analog sticks are comfortable though, and the left and right trigger buttons (L2 and R2) are every bit as comfortable as an Xbox controller. If you are use to playing fps games with the Dualshock 3, you'll have to re-train yourself to use the controller more like a 360/One controller. Other then that, I'm quite pleased with the Dualshock 4's sleek design and all around handling.
The share and option buttons still function quite similarly to the select and start buttons of old. Actually, the share button is very unique, and very convenient. The PS4 is constantly recording your gameplay, and the share button allows you to share videos and screen shots at any given time. You may even sync up to your facebook account and post these videos and images directly to facebook. It sounds kinda silly now, but I can see it becoming very big in the future. It brings the concept of gaming and social media one step closer.
The PS4 itself is a pretty unique little design, very different from it's older sibling PS3. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the design honestly - it is attractive and still very compact, yet the rhombus shaping still catches me a little off guard. It is a sturdy brick though, easy to set up and easy to place (either flat or vertically). The system itself is a little noisy, but not too bad. The fans are pretty audible, but honestly they've got their work cut out for them cooling such a powerful computer. The glowing controller/system lights are also a neat little feature, they tell you how well your controller or system is functioning (watching The Hunger Games right now on Netflix, it's got a nice white strip across the front).
For gaming comparison, I will be using the example of CoD Ghosts for the PS3/PS4. I recently beat Ghosts on the PS3, and rather enjoyed myself. I decided to kick the difficulty up a notch (for funsies) and just observe the unique differences between the visuals of the two consoles. Drum roll please.......no?...alright. There isn't much difference to be seen between the two. The PS4 definitely has crisper textures, and the lighting seems a bit more efficient, but you're not going to be dropping your jaw. Honestly, a casual gamer will hardly be able to tell the difference at all. The truth is, your experience will be just as good on the current gen as this 'next' gen, so don't sweat the details.
That being said, the PS4 has soooo much potential. Much like many of the reviews you may (or may not) have read, this system is all about potential. Killzone Shadow Fall might be your thing if you've played through the series, however other launch titles will likely leave you wondering why you upgraded so soon in the first place. However, if you are still into CoD, Assassin's Creed, or maybe even want to dive into Knack for a platformer, there is enough content here to keep you satisfied (as the gaming is every bit as tight as it is on the PS3/360).
Ultimately, I'm very excited and feeling quite optimistic about the PS4. It will be fun to see how it and the Xbox One grow and develop over the next generation!
With all the hype about the next gen around the corner (literally less than a week away for PS4 enthusiast), it becomes easy for those of us who still own a 360 or PS3 to become discouraged. Many gamers have already resorted to trading in their old consoles, or selling them off while they still retain some cash value. It's a well known fact that most gamers are attracted to 'new' things - it's simply the nature of the beast. Whenever something bigger and better comes along, many gamers are ready to jump on board and leave the past behind us. Some of us aren't quite ready to move on though; whether it be for financial reasons, fear of change, or just appreciation for all the wonderful things that this generation has served us, you just can't let it go. One might even make the argument that this is the best time to jump in on the current generation of consoles, with a wide library of games established, and many being priced far more affordable then when they were first released. No matter what your decision is, there are many awesome opportunities that await us as gamers. This blog serves to shed some light on them, so don't be too hasty about setting aside that PS3 or 360 just yet!
I must admit, this all comes from a somewhat biased perspective - yes, I just recently purchased a PS3 for the first time. I was able to obtain a newer super-slim model with a 250gb hard drive and 3 games for $160. Those games are Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2. All of which are fantastic games that really impressed me, and were very easy on my wallet. I'm so thrilled about the vast library that the PS3 has, and I can feel good as a consumer knowing that I won't have to spend $60 for every single game I'd like to play. All that being said, I still like the feeling of grabbing a brand new game, and neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 are done delivering the goods.
Are you as excited about Destiny as I am? I certainly hope so. Ever since watching the E3 demonstration of the game in action, I've been nothing but excited to try it myself. I think it's fair to say that Bungie and and Halo were a big part of why the Xbox has become as successful as it has. Now that Bungie has been out on it's own, the potential for this game is mind blowing. Bungie has been given the freedom to develop a shooter from the ground up, unrestricted from a franchise label and first party demands. I've got my fingers crossed that this game will raise the bar to a whole new level for first person shooters, just as Halo did so many years ago. Keep your eyes and ears out for it when it's released in 2014.
I've been a Metal Gear Solid fan ever since....well, the original came out on the PSX. This is one of the few franchises in gaming that continues to get even better with every installment, and I have no doubt that Ground Zeroes will execute in a similar manner. Metal Gear Solid 4 literally left me speechless, it was such a powerful game that left me hanging on the edge of my seat to the very end. 5 years after it's release, it's just as brilliant as it's ever been, and I know that Kojima will have many new twists and turns for us with Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. Better yet? These games are being released on the PS3 and 360 as well. Better better yet? They can be downloaded digitally for $10 less than the leading retail, and the PS4 and Xbox One versions. If that's not a pretty neat little deal, then I don't really know what to tell you. The game is looking really nice, and I should remind you all that most of the actual gameplay footage we have seen to this point is of the game running on current gen restrictions. This means two things - 1) It's going to look really good on the PS3/360 and 2) It's going to look REALLY good on the PS4 and Xbox One. Like Destiny, we'll see this bad boy poke it's head around in 2014.
Okay, I think it's safe to say that not EVERYBODY is happy with the latest direction that Castlevania has been going with it's franchise. However, statistics will show you that Lords of Shadow has been the highest selling Castlevania game yet, meaning that there are plenty who do enjoy it. Personally, I loved Lords of Shadow and Mirror of Fate for the 3DS as well. Konami has done a pretty good job of mixing the traditional storyline up and creating an all new dramatic tale, as well as delivering a pretty entertaining gameplay experience similar to God of War. Based on early impressions, it's looking like Lords of Shadow 2 will not only be a visually impressive game, but (fingers crossed) may even be a more engrossing title than the first. Here's a little tidbit you'll want to know if you are as excited for this title as I am - this game is being released on the PS3, 360 and PC, however there is no announcement to this point of it being released on the PS4 or Xbox One. Another good reason to enjoy that current gen console a little bit longer. We'll be seeing Lords of Shadow 2 early on in 2014.
Dark Souls has developed a pretty strong cult fanbase since it's initial release. I've yet to dive into the first game, but it's on my wishlist for holiday/birthday pickups. Dark Souls is the kind of action oriented rpg that gamers will either love or they will hate - it's a game that challenges gamers and forces them to push their levels of patience and persistence to the max. The first game was praised for it's gorgeous graphics, as well as play-stye and challenging level of difficulty (though faulted in the same manner). Dark Souls II looks really good, and I think that we'll be seeing more of the same, and then some. Like Lords of Shadow 2, this game is currently being developed for current gen consoles only (not even a PC port as of now). Keep your eyes open for it early in 2014.
I've only begun to list some of the fun and exciting games that have yet to come to our current gen of consoles. There is still much fun to be had for all with the current going generation, and I don't foresee either Microsoft of Sony abandoning their older siblings so long as the sales are good and the developers are willing to continue working with the tech. Getting a brand new PS4 or Xbox One will be a great experience for everyone, and when the time comes I'm sure there will be even more fun to be had. The bottom line is that whether you're not quite ready to let go, or your anxious to jump onto the newmobile, things couldn't possibly look better for gaming enthusiast. Show your console some love and be excited - good times are comin'!
1989 - A fine year indeed. Why do you ask? Well for one it was the year that I was born. Secondly, it is the year that we were blessed with the fun Disney platformer DuckTales. Some of you are thinking "Why in the world would I want to play some silly platformer based on a washed up child's cartoon?". Well for those of you who are unfortunate enough not to have played this game before, look up some gameplay and audio samples from the original title and it will soon become obvious why this is not only one of the most underrated NES classics that put Capcom on the map, but also to this day still a perfect example of the platforming genre at it's best.
DuckTales has it all. From funny and elaborate characters, to simple yet engaging gameplay, to beautifully designed environments and sprites, and of course a stellar soundtrack. While the Remastered version of the game does a great job of emphasizing many of these high end qualities, the fact remains that even the original title of 1989 still holds its own and embellishes all of these values in it's own subtle ways. DuckTales has had a fairly strong cult following for many years, and even those who were not so fond of the TV show can still recite the darn title by heart (Life is like a hurricane, here in, Duckburg). There's something about the game that just oozes with charisma, and draws out the inner child in even the most veteran gamers.
While Capcom has had it's fair share of blunders over the past decade, nobody can take away it's sheer success with the platforming genre in it's earlier titles. Mega Man is still admired and loved by gamers everywhere. Ghost N' Ghouls (Goblins) made many gamers break their controllers in rage...only to go buy a new controller and try again. Capcom really had something special going for them, and no title really shows off that magic quite as well as DuckTales. This wasn't only a smart move on their behalf to revive this classic title, but it was also a move that many gamers have been NEEDING. Much like the impact of Rayman Origins, DuckTales reminds us that games of the current and upcoming generations do not need to rely on pixel perfect graphics and gunplay. As a matter of fact, all that extra effort is often times wasted and ultimately goes unappreciated unless the game is genuinely perceived as fun, engaging and ultimately addicting. AAA games have taken many a hard knock this generation, and I believe that many companies need to actually take a step back and look at all the fundamentals and foundations that help to make for a fun game in the first place. Michael Bay is living proof that having a bigger budget does not amount to creating a timeless classic.
I encourage all gamers to pop in a classic title (nostalgia or not) and find within yourselves what made that title so darn good? How did it make you feel? What is it about that particular game that no matter how old it gets, it will still be so very special to you? DuckTales reminds me that there are still games out there that can bring out those feelings for me. Games that can really make you appreciate a gaming genre and take you back to a simpler time. Go on, get to it! Me? I've got some treasures to find!