Now Playing in February ‘14

February may be a short month, but I had more free time than usual, so I still got a lot of game playing in. I didn’t beat near as many games as last month, but that was mostly because I was bogged down in a handful of RPGs. Good RPGs, but those things take some time. I am going to do something new this month with this post. I am going to name one game my , whichever game I like best that I do not plan on writing about on its own.

Beaten:

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time:
GOTM Even though I am calling A Crack in Time my game of the month, I was actually slightly disappointed in it. It isn’t a bad game by any means, it just isn’t quite up to the mark set by most of its predecessors. It is only slightly better than Deadlocked, which I did not care overmuch for. It has the same big problem as Deadlocked: Ratchet and Clank are separated for most of the game. They work best as a duo. Sure, solo sections as Clank are fine and all, they featured prominently in Up Your Arsenal, my personal favorite game in the series, but Ratchet without Clank on his back just feels wrong. This is partly because it changes his moveset somewhat. Ratchet loses his long jump and high jump. Suddenly, places that are normally within reach are instead just beyond it. This is a minor complaint, a small attempt to change things up in a long running series without upsetting the applecart that doesn’t quite work. The other problem is the weapon selection. I really liked the new modable weapons. It gives the normal weapons a little more kick and is definitely more interesting than hunting for raritanium like in Tools of Destruction. But the other weapons didn’t do much for me. I may have had the same complaint about ToD, I don’t remember, but I guess there is only so far that unusual weaponry can get a game.

I did like the story in A Crack in Time, though. While I wasn’t exactly demanding answers to Ratchet or Clank’s origins, I like what they came up with. The Great Clock is about as cool a place as I’ve seen in a game in a long time. The way the two stories intertwined worked out well, as did Ratchet’s decision when confronted by Clank. That is just how that should have played out. Of course, Insomniac also provide just the right amount of Dr. Nefarious and Captain Quark. I do wish other characters that play a big role on some games would return, but I’m fine with the small cast of regulars this series has. It isn’t exactly a game one plays for the stories, but they have often hit that perfect spot of being genuinely all-ages games instead of for kids.

This series has long been a favorite of mine, and it feels like it is nearing the end. Maybe last years Into the Nexus is not going to be the last Ratchet and Clank game, but I wouldn’t mind if they took some time between now and the next installment. I think the secret to Nintendo’s success with series like Mario and Zelda is that rarely do more than one or two entries in each series appear on any one console. The time between games keeps things feeling fresh and new. I think R&C could do with a similar rest. That is not going to stop me, however, from playing each game. At least as long as they maintain the level of quality they have so far.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze: thoughts posted here.

Bit.Trip Runner 2 The Future Legend of Rhythm Alien: I played a little bit of the first Runner and for some reason developed an unnatural hatred for it. My dislike was so great that I almost didn’t even download this despite it being free with Playstation Plus. Fortunately, I heard enough good things about it to convince me to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, I nearly missed a great little game. Runner 2 is not overly complex, but it is charming and challenging.

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: This finished strong. Even some of the humor started to work for me near the end. I did keep a guide handy as I played it, but I used it less than I expected. I really liked the characters, but the romance didn’t seem to have a strong enough foundation. There really wasn’t a transition from partners to partners. It was a logical route for the story to take, but while central plot was well written, that little part seemed tacked on. It seemed like it ended that was because that was how it was supposed to end, not because it was actually set up. I don’t know why I’m writing about a small nitpick I had with the game when I enjoyed it so much though. Broken Sword is just a well written adventure game, only a small step down from Monkey Island.

Cross Me: This is a Picross style puzzle game I have on my Kindle. I have actually only beaten up through the advanced puzzles, but I’m done with it. It is maddening, brain busting and addictive. I am glad to be done with it and glad to have played it.

Ongoing:

Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams: I’ve played through the first world. It is reasonably fun so far, but the levels are already way too long. I hope it gets better about that, not worse.

Xenoblade Chronicles: More trickles of progress. I am still playing this, but it takes a lot of time to get things done. I will beat it by the end of the year.

Bravely Default: This is Final Fantasy in all but name. Specifically, Final Fantasy III. Many people think if it as like FFV, but the job system in this game is definitely more like FFIII. I am liking it quite a bit, though the difficulty is uneven. It is so good in so many ways, but the spikes in difficulty really needed to be smoothed out. I’ve just finished Chapter 4 and things are really picking up.

Final Fantasy VI: Another RPG I’ve spent a lot of time with. I expect to be writing about this again soon. I used to play it almost yearly, but I haven’t actually played it since the GBA version came out a handful of years ago. This is even better than I remembered. It is just so fast. Too many games take too long to get going, FFVI isn’t one of those.

Final Fantasy Dimensions: This phone fantasy isn’t bad, but I would much rather play it with a controller. It also drains my phone’s battery something fierce. So I can only play it in really short bursts. It goes through the motions of being a classic RPG, but it comes off as an inferior facsimile. It fares badly when compared to Bravely Default, but that has as much to do with platform as anything else.

Valkyria Chronicles: I’ve only just started this, but I think I’m in love. It feels like coming home. I had played about half of the PSP sequel, but it felt limited. So far, its big brother fixes all of the problems I had with that game.

SMT Devil Survivor 2: I played one day of this before Bravely Default arrived. This series has a tendency to be difficult. It takes some dedication to really make progress in. I just didn’t have that this month. Maybe once I finish with Bravely Default.

Upcoming:

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy: This will be coming from Amazon tomorrow. I have loved this series since the first game. I am sad to see it go but eager to play one more Layton.

Batman Arkham City: I started this around Christmas, but got distracted by other things. Now I am ready to put some real time into it.

Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons: I am determined to finish this up soon.

Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask: As soon as I finish Oracle of Seasons I am hopping right on this.

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