Monday, December 17, 2012

My Month In Games: November 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw - PS3

Earlier this year, when I reviewed Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked for PS2, I mentioned that I might need to reevaluate my opinion on game designer Suda 51.  In fact, I even teased a forthcoming article in which I intended to play most (if not ALL) of his games so that I might chronicle said reevaluation.  Well, after playing this I have reevaluated my desire to reevaluate Suda 51 and I'm back to thinking he's a hack.  With Lollipop Chainsaw he has once again shown me that his philosophy of game design is high style, little substance.  The game follows the adventures of Juliet, a ditzy blonde zombie hunting cheerleader, as she uses her trademark chainsaw to rip through scads of undead freaks.  Like all of Suda 51's games this one is visually striking, juxtaposing rotting zombies with hearts and rainbows, but that's where the enjoyment ended for me.  Bad camera, generic hack-n-slash gameplay, copious amounts of unnecessary profanity...this game was clearly designed for 15 year-old kids and the type of people who think that schlocky horror films are the height of cinema.  Meh.  Meh, I say!!

Grade: C-

Quantum Conundrum - PS3

 A first-person puzzler in the vein of Portal, Quantum Conundrum changes things up by giving your character the power to change dimensions.  Take the "fluffy" dimension for example.  In this dimension, normal objects take on a fluffy, pillow-like appearance, and become much lighter.  A room might have a floor switch and an ultra heavy safe in it and the solution would be to enter the fluffy dimension, pick up the safe, drop it on the floor switch, and then switch back to the "normal" dimension so that the regular weight of the safe can depress the switch.  It's a lot of fun, and solving the puzzles gave me the same sense of satisfaction that I felt when making progress in Portal.  Not surprising, since it was designed by one of the lead designers of that game.  I will say that Quantum Conundrum lacks the same kind of "personality" that infested Portal.  It tries to capture a more whimsical tone, but in the end the game feels a bit sterile to me.  While that vibe may have worked for the "test chambers" of Portal, it seems a bit out of place in this game.  Still, it's a fun game that will get you thinking, and I have to give the developers credit for tapping John de Lancie (AKA Star Trek's Q) to play the narrator.  Recommended!

Grade: B

Pushmo - 3DS

I dig me some Pushmo!  This downloadable title from Nintendo is a great little puzzler that actually shares a lot of gameplay similarities with Catherine, another stand-out title that I reviewed earlier this year.  Players mush push and pull at a wall of blocks in order to climb to the top and clear the stage.  Unlike Catherine, there is no way to die or lose while playing a stage, so there's less pressure to solve the puzzles quickly.  Instead, players can take their time trying different things, even resetting the stage if things get completely FUBAR.  Its simple, charming presentation draws you in, and its bite sized levels make it perfect for playing on-the-go.  I'm still working my way through the game's 250-plus stages, but I enjoyed this game immensely, and I'm looking forward to playing its recently released sequel, Crashmo.

Grade: B+

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy - 3DS

 It's a music/rhythm game that uses tunes from the entire Final Fantasy series.  Does that sound remotely interesting to you?  If so then you'll probably get some enjoyment out of this game.  Fans of Final Fantasy know that the music from that series is top-notch and Theatrhythm takes many of its iconic tunes and plants them in a fun "tap and swipe" style rhythm game.  I dug it.  You get three songs from each numbered game in the series and you can purchase even more songs online.  Yeah right.  This game is fun, it even throws some light RPG elements into the mix, but the gameplay gets old after a few hours and I can't imagine paying $.99 a pop for more songs.  It's a solid little rental title, but no great shakes.

Grade: B-



 That crazy NEO GEO handheld that I've been talking about was finally released, and it looks pretty cool!  It even comes with an arcade stick controller and a charging station that resembles the original NEO GEO system.  That AND 20 games...all for $200.  I'm seriously considering getting one.  Old school, baby!


Yep, it's out.  I'm smelling another Gamecube.  The controller seems cool though...

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