Welcome to a post-Christmas edition of Our Week in Games. I hope everyone had a splendid time and ate and drank plenty while hopefully reading our Games of the Year roundup. Once you have caught up, why not hit the break to catch up with our shenanigans over the Christmas week.
As I am nearing the end of nine long years at Sainsbury’s (the past nine-months have been part-time) I had one last block of Christmas overtime to overcome which meant that pre-Christmas was a time of little gaming. I did manage to squeeze in some more time with Gran Turismo 6 which is a wonderful racer. The fact that I can play it on my DualShock 3 pad says a lot as I really find that controller ungainly, I’ll be hoping to be using a DualShock 4 by next Christmas.
I did manage to get half an hour of LEGO Marvel Heroes in on Christmas Day after I took my Xbox 360 to my mum’s. As with all of the LEGO games this look to be full of character and I am most certainly looking forward to playing more of it and delivering a Verdict in the New Year.
I was fortunate enough to get some gaming goodies from my girlfriend and family at Christmas. During the move into my flat in September, I had manage to break the battery case on my wireless 360 controller which meant it had to be connected all the time. Further rough and tumble had led to the connection on the USB cable being damaged causing issues with the controller response. Receiving a replacement control pad was a welcome surprise, as was the arrival of some Wii Motion Plus controllers to use with my Wii U. While I do like the Game Pad, I can’t use it with Super Mario Galaxy which I can still play thanks to the Wii U’s backwards compatibility. Microsoft and Sony would do well to pay attention to Nintendo’s machine in this respect.
To go with my new controllers I also received a Wii U copy of Rayman Legends and Pikmin 3. I’ve not had a chance to play the former, but I have squeezed in some time with Pikmin and I have to say it seems like a delightful little gem. I will be playing these more, that is for certain.
Christmas has always been a time for enjoying games at a different pace – my early Christmas Days involved plenty of sneaking away to the upstairs TV to play the latest Sonic game, but recent years have been all about sitting down with a new handheld title and getting as much out of it before university or work calls me back.
Things haven’t quite worked that way this year – I’ve got no job to go back to, and for the first time in forever, I didn’t get a new game. That’s actually a bit of a blessing – I have the same backlog problem as everyone else these days anyway, and new additions to my music and artbook collections are easily as welcome.
Not that I was entirely without gaming themed gifts. I was lucky enough to get The Art of Bioshock Infinite – I may not be a fan of the game as a complete product, but you can’t deny that it showcases some extraordinary visual design, and Dark Horse’s book does the game justice. Points of interest in what I’ve flicked through so far: earlier concepts for Columbia were a bit closer to Rapture in terms of dilapidation and mood; a lot of early ‘heavy hitter’ concepts looked a lot more ‘Big Daddy Mark II’; ‘Vigor Junkies’ were designed and probably would have helped the overall cohesiveness of the game world.
I’ve managed to get a little gaming in too, exclusively on my 3DS. I’ve been playing 3D Space Harrier for several weeks now with a self-imposed three credit limit – my best run has got me to level 15. Making those ten lives go a little further each time is a real thrill, and the 3D effect brings a freshness that must recapture some of what the original cabinet gave gamers back in 1985. Also on a retro theme, I couldn’t pass up the chance to get Super Mario Bros 3 at 20% off. I’ve never actually put all that much time into the 8-bit Marios, though I’ve played enough of this much loved installment to recognise its quality.
The third game in my current rotation is a late 2012 release – Yasumi Matsuno’s Crimson Shroud. There’s very little to dislike about this one: Matsuno is responsible for some of the greatest console roleplaying games of all time, and Crimson Shroud brings his usual mix of moody medieval fantasy along with roleplaying innovation. Here, the gameplay genius stroke is to return to the source of the video game RPG – tabletop gaming – to pilfer dice-rolling and dungeon-master style storytelling. A must for RPG loving 3DS owners, especially as it’s also on sale.
Following making Spelunky my GOTY, and more by accident than design, I spent a large portion of my Christmas gaming playing it in 2 player co-op with my (not so) little (29 y.o.) brother. He’d bought me a gamepad for my PC- I having solely relied on mouse and keyboard up until this point. Spelunky is a razor-edged reflex game of he highest order, not quite up there with Super Meat Boy, but quick reactions are certainly a boon. I hadn’t appreciated just how difficult I was making my life by playing it with a m+k, but now I have a pad for it I fear my love-affair with the title may grow to marriage-wrecking proportions…. I’m also infinitely better at it.
My brother and I played multiple sittings of the game just getting as far as we could (not very) while he schooled me on the intricacies of each level. Drop items here to trigger traps, jump here and here to get that, get to high ground after getting the idol… Quickly…. All invaluable tips and all things that would have taken me days of trial and error to figure out by myself. Far from spoiling the title or removing some of ‘joy of discovery’, it’s simply made me more determined to learn more of the game’s secrets.
It’s still a rarity for me to get out of the mines, but I love the game all the more for it.