Joe kicked things off with his compilation of mini-reviews and thoughts concerning the games he played (and tried to play) to tick them off his backlog this February, then Connor followed that up with a backlog of his own. Now it’s my turn. I’ve got an Xbox 360 fan-favorite, an SNES cult hit on the Wii U, one of the first actual, quality 3DS titles, and an insanity-filled better-than-GTA madhouse. Let’s get to it, shall we?
I’ve got to be honest. Gears of War didn’t exactly turn my cogs. I got into it a bit late into the month, after the other three. Perhaps that contributed to my overall apathy toward it, but I have to imagine I’d be enjoying it more if the style and gameplay were my cup of tea. Shooters in general are always very hit or miss in my book, and I’ve put off trying Gears for years because it was never able to interest me enough from videos and watching friends play. But hey, I gave it a shot. And I’m still working my way through it with my wife, because she’s a fan of the series and it’s much more fun to co-op than go alone. Plus, the dynamic between the main characters is surprisingly fun. I honestly don’t care right now (two and a half missions in) what happens in the story, but the group of guys is growing on me.
I admit the gameplay is more fun once you get used to it; I’m just an old man who’s afraid of change and learning new things. The weapon reload bonus is a fun micro-game in the thick of battle, and actually entertains me much more than it should. Overall though I usually play first-person shooters much more than third-person, as the perspective throws me off. And when I get into a shooter I often find the most fun with them to be the online multiplayer. But since Gears’ multiplayer is basically wave battles, I didn’t stick around there long. Those are definitely not what I call fun. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. I’ll still enjoy co-opping with the missus and bleep-blooping those achievements, and hearing Cole make every possible reference to a train he possibly can.
I’ve been hearing amazing things about EarthBound since it came out in the mid-90’s. The fanbase has always been incredibly vocal, and I always promised myself that if it ever made its way to the Western world, I would give it the solid chance it deserved. So when it was announced to be releasing on the Wii U Virtual Console last year, I was all over it. I made sure there was money in me eShop account and bought it the first day it was available. Aaaaand then I put it down after a single hour and didn’t touch it again until Four For February came up. Whoops.
I am so glad I decided to pick it back up though. Being a full RPG, this ate up close to 90% of my gaming time throughout the entire month, and that was totally okay by me. It meant only being able to complete two of my four games, but the fact that one of them was EarthBound made it worthwhile. Now I’ve got a few bones to pick with the game here and there, but I’ll save those for a full-on review to come soon. All I’ll say here is that the game somehow managed to live up to the hype and keep me constantly entertained almost the entire time. The characters are likeable and varied, the enemies range from badass to hilarious, and the graphics look perfectly decent and charming even by today’s impossible standards. Oh, and dat soundtrack. Yeah, EarthBound hit pretty much all the right marks.
It’s rare for me to buy a game I’m unfamiliar with from the bargain bin, let alone at launch for full price. This was the case with Kid Icarus Uprising. It looked pretty fun, and upon its release nearly two years ago I snatched it up and dove right in. About ten levels in I started to get bored and put it down for a while. Well, bored isn’t the right word. More like the story was taking much longer to tell than it needed to. Okay, yeah, I got bored. Then sometime last year I picked it up again, the story got more intense and intriguing, and I was sucked back in for another seven or eight levels before the same feeling set in.
Fast forward to February, where I picked it up once more in an effort to finally finish this drawn-out epic. Indeed, I was successful in completing it at last, and I was immensely satisfied in doing so. Sure, I may have kicked the difficulty down a bit (read: a lot) in order to just wrap things up, but I actually found myself invested in the story again after all that time. It may have taken three times too long to get there, but that really just allowed you to become more attached to the side characters like Viridi, Pittoo and even Medusa. Uprising feels at times like a huge Nintendo pat-on-the-back, as it calls back to and references many popular franchises like Metroid, Nintendogs, Brain Age, Donkey Kong, and so many others. Pit and Palutena frequently make jokes about their lives actually being a video game, and it all works so well with the humour of the entire game.
So even though it took too long to get to the end, the game is definitely a fun ride. But man, if there’s one game that made me wish I had an XL 3DS instead of the standard, it’s this. OH, THE HAND CRAMPING I ENDURED.
Saints Row the Third, much like Gears of War, is one of those games I just keep hearing good things about from people whose opinions I trust and respect. But for whatever reason (like being compared to GTA games, when I’ve never been able to really get into a GTA game, or my aforementioned distaste for third-person shooters), I could never bring myself to give it a try. Even when I downloaded the game for free from PlayStation Plus last year, it still took me until February to actually launch the game. But boy, oh boy, am I glad I did.
Saints Row truly is the happy-go-lucky partner to the rough and tough grit that is Grand Theft Auto. It takes all the right cues from those games and puts the best spin on them. You’ve got shoot-em-up mini games where you must kill company mascots and people running around in the maze, but avoid hitting pandas because that’s unethical and you’ll lose points. You’ve got side quests where the sole purpose is to dish out as much damage and destruction as you possibly can in a set time limit. And yes, you’ve got the most talked about melee weapon in the game, a meter-long purple dildo that actually does a satisfying amount of damage. This is a game you can pick up for ten minutes or four hours and have just as much fun in either amount of time. You can press on with the story or just play increasing difficulties of the mini-games you’ve already completed once. Or you can just strip your character naked and streak around town until so many people are offended and outraged that you’ve got helicopters and waves of baddies trying to take down your birthday suit-clad avatar.
It’s outrageous, it’s ridiculous, it’s insane(ly fun). I did not finish the game, but I fully intend to. And then I’ll grab Saints Row IV when it inevitably comes onto PS+ later this as well, and love the hell out of it too.
So there you have it. Two games done and dusted, with two still in the works. Could have been better, but could have been worse. I’m just glad I enjoyed each game I played, at least in some respect. Now I’m lucky in that I’ve only got a few games that I’m REALLY looking forward to this year, so I should be able to nickel and dime my way through more of my backlog in 2014. I mean in February alone while focusing on these four games I purchased Soul Caliber II HD, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, State of Decay, Limbo, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, DmC, AND the 2.0.0 update on Diablo III, which I hear has made it SO much better than it used to be.
So, you know, playing four games from my backlog in February definitely helped lighten my load. A bit. I think.