Week: End Game: On 06.23.2012

The staff explains this week’s gaming endeavors!

By Dustin Grissom. Posted 06/24/2012 11:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Now that the tide of excitement has finally began to reach its end from E3 and the recent (arguably more exciting) Nintendo Direct, it’s time to accept the fact that you’ve still got those old games you’ve yet to finish.  So, what have we, the staff, been using to occupy our time between now and the eventual wallet-killing load of new games coming soon? Check it out below, and, after you’re done reading what we’ve got to say, tell us what you have been playing this week and plan on playing this weekend! Game on!

Dustin Grissom

I don’t have much time to write this, because in a couple of hours, I’ll be on my way to a week of vacation (yahoo!). This shall limit my gaming time, but it shall also bring me and my 3DS (which now seems oddly tiny) closer together than ever before! I plan on finally making some progress on Ocarina of Time, maybe I’ll finally beat Kid Icarus, and I may get through the rest of the special levels on Super Mario 3D Land after playing through some late night Mario Power Tennis matches (or I’ll probably never play my 3DS, which seems more than likely…). Also, since I’ll be going to New York, I expect tons of awesome street passing action!

Katharine Byrne

I’ll be finishing off Muramasa: The Demon Blade this weekend. I started it on Friday and have really enjoyed it so far. It’s just such a beautiful game. The controls are sublime, the music’s like a modernised Ōkami soundtrack, and its story delves deep into Japanese mythology. It’s such a shame, then, that you spend so much time running round through empty rooms! For those of you who bypassed this Wii gem, Muramasa is a kind of 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up set in late seventeenth century Japan (that’s the Genroku Era for the history buffs out there).

Much like Ōkami, its painterly art style is what really drew me in at first, but now that the game’s drawing to a close, I think it’s the game’s slick combat system that’s made the most lasting impression (all puns intended). I’ve been playing a lot of action games recently that simply require the player to button-mash when it comes to fighting, perhaps throwing in the odd “strong attack” button as well to liven things up, but I’ve found these approaches to combat both a little empty and disappointing. I think my biggest gripe is that it never really involves much skill– you simply hammer away and everything’s obliterated. But while Muramasa does involve a lot of A button mashing, I’ve found that its use of the analogue stick actually makes it much more akin to Super Smash Bros. than anything else (and we all know how much we love Super Smash Bros.’ fighting system!). Throw in some beautifully smooth animation, and you can’t help but smile gleefully as you slice ninjas and tengus in two.

Muramasa‘s insanely over-the-top boss battles have also been incredibly fun. So far I’ve fought giant centipedes, a huge oni demon and the thunder god, Raijin, to name just a few, and they all sport about five health bars as well! I’ve even managed to beat some in the harder “Shura” difficulty mode where the game forbids you to use anything other than the healing items you have in your shortcuts (so once you run out of healing items, that’s it!). Most of the time it’s a little overwhelming though, so I opt for the easier “Muso” difficulty level, but even “Muso” presents its own brand of challenge.

The only problems I have with the game are the painfully empty (and recycled) rooms that plague most of your playtime and the amount of backtracking involved. Momohime’s story isn’t so bad when it comes to backtracking, but Kisuke’s sees you travel almost the entire length of the very horizontal map three times! It’s not so bad when the scenery’s easy on the eye and you’ve got hordes of enemies to take down, but some rooms are completely empty with exactly the same backgrounds recycled one after the other. It just gets a little repetitive after a while, begging the question why the developers didn’t just make the rooms longer with more equally spaced enemy encounters, but nevertheless it’s been a really fun game so far, and I’d definitely recommend tracking it down if you’re a fan of beat ’em up games.

Kyle England

I have been jumping around a whole lot in my gaming. The summer is when I try to play all the games I can, but I invariably end up sleeping or staying on the computer instead.

Lately I have been replaying New Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo DS when I am out and about. It’s the first time I have played the game since I first cleared it way back in 2006. The game holds up just as well as ever, and it’s getting me warmed up for New Super Mario Bros. 2 in a couple months. I think it’s a shame that we have not seen a revival of the blue Koopa shell power-up since NSMB. It’s way more fun than the silly penguin suit that is only useful on ice levels.

New Super Mario Bros. Artwork

Outside of the Nintendo-sphere, I have been playing Sonic Generations on PlayStation 3. Finally, it’s a truly good Sonic game! Everything in it is quite awesome, from the levels to the music to the nostalgia. I can’t help but wonder what a Mario game with the premise of Sonic Generations would be like. Imagine Mario playing through high definition recreations of the best levels from every game in the series set to a remastered orchestral soundtrack. Oh, the thought makes me swoon. But of course, Mario always celebrates his history in every game while bringing new levels and ideas to the table.

Bradly Hale

Well this weekend hasn’t seen a whole lot of gaming thus far, however, the little bit that I’ve been able to get in has revolved around trying to navigate the Phantasy Star Online 2 Japanese open beta. PSO has a very special spot in my heart, as it was the first game I ever played online, so to say that I’ve enjoyed my time with this second installment would be selling my excitement short.

Aside from that, though, I’m going to try and fit in some of The Secret World beta, and then perhaps top it off with a little Mario Tennis Open. I’m still terrible at that game – and think I’ve almost broken my 3DS in a fit of rage over the frustrating multiplayer more than a few times – but I keep coming back like the true masochist I am.

In truth, I’m simply biding my time until The Last Story. July can’t come soon enough.

Now it’s your turn, what are you playing this weekend? Let us know in the comments’ section below!

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