February: Wrap Up

zelda

At the beginning of the month I made it a goal to only actively play games that were available to me on handheld gaming platforms. With tomorrow being the start of March, I can say that I managed to get through the month without playing a single title on any of my consoles. I made a slight exception for the Wii U demo of Monster Hunter 3G Ultimate, since it is a cross-platform title with the 3DS. I wanted to try out both demos and see how they felt. They each featured the same content, but other than that, the only use my game consoles got has been for video streaming. As it turns out, it’s not so difficult for me to cut out the majority of my console gaming. My 3DS has seen a lot of love this month, as I’ve been developing a new love for the Zelda series after a long cooling off period. The last time I put any real work into a Zelda title was replaying Link’s Awakening at some point last year, and loving every minute of it. Earlier this month, I tore through my 3DS Ambassador copy of Legend of Zelda in a single sitting, something I hadn’t really done since I was a teenager. It was an eye-opening experience as I remembered how much I used to love that game. Upon finishing it, I decided to get through a couple other games in the series, and I set my sights on playing Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. I never played it during the GBA era, but now that I had access to it, I figured I should probably give it a chance.

I’ve been mulling it over since finishing the game, but I think I liked it. It was way too easy at certain points, but I managed to find a lot of love in the way it presented itself. I loved the Capcom interpretations of classic Zelda enemies like the octoroks and moblins. The cartoon art style worked out in its favor, and the only bad thing I can say about the game’s presentation is in regards to its music. The Game Boy Advance sounded like shit. There’s no use denying it, it had an awful sound chip, and horrible little speakers. Most GBA games had pretty bland sounding music, since the music data took up considerable space on the cartridge. Minish Cap suffers the most when you’re hearing grainy renditions of tunes from older titles. Having finished it, I really liked it. It was a game I’m glad I played, and that’s about all I really know how to say about it.

After that, I determined it was time to return to a quest I had abandoned over a year ago: it was time to return to Ocarina of Time. I had gotten myself stuck in the Water Temple, something that happens to everyone at least once. I grabbed a walkthrough and worked my way back through it to determine where I had missed a key. I took care of that, and was on my way. At this moment I’m ready to tackle Ganon’s castle and finish the game. I’ve been critical of Ocarina of Time for many years, but after going back to it, I’m having to ease up on some of these complaints I’ve had. The game isn’t perfect, but it succeeds more often than it fails. The 3DS remake of the game is mostly the same as it was in 1998, but the cleaner presentation does a lot to help it hold up. I haven’t decided which Zelda title I’m going to tackle next, but as of tomorrow I can go back to console games, so that widens my options considerably. While an HD remake of Wind Waker is coming later this year, I’m really considering a journey through it. It’s either going to be that, or the GameCube version of Twilight Princess.

Beyond the Zelda marathons, I’ve put a few hours into Fire Emblem: Awakening, which is great. In addition, I’ve been trying to go back to finishing Pushmo so I can pick up its sequel. Portable gaming still works out very well for me, it’s just a shame that the Western gaming market seems ashamed by it, or at least doesn’t know how to approach it since they can’t use all of their extensive middleware options to develop titles. Animal Crossing comes out in June, and Pokemon X&Y will be released this fall, two titles I’m very excited to spend a lot of time with. I should be set on games for the rest of the year. Console gaming is a whole different argument that I don’t have the energy to jump into today.

February: A Month for Portables

As my life becomes more and more complicated, and I have less time available to devote to dedicated gaming hardware, I’ve decided to run a little experiment over the course of the month: Can my gaming habits be satisfied by only playing games on portable consoles? For me, this includes 3DS, PS Vita, and if it comes to it, iOS games. After looking at the release lists for the next month or so, the titles I’m actually very excited about are almost entirely 3DS bound. I just picked up Fire Emblem: Awakening today, and near the end of the month I have Etrian Odyssey IV to look forward to. In the meantime I’ve been tinkering with the earlier Etrian Odyssey games, along with trying to go back and finish Kid Icarus Uprising. I also picked up Ikachan on the 3DS eshop over the weekend. While I do very much want to play Ni no Kuni, I also just don’t have the time to dedicate to sitting in front of a TV for a lengthy JRPG right now. Being able to play Persona 4 Golden on a portable was the only reason I was able to finish it, let alone put nearly 80 hours into it, so a move like this isn’t as scary to me as it may seem. Western third parties mostly ignore portable platforms, while Japanese developers tend to thrive on them. The DS has many amazing (albeit very niche-focused) titles coming out over the course of the spring.

Dedicating a month to portable games is likely going to be easier than I may make it out to be, since the way I play games, I rarely get to the biggest and newest titles until months after they come out, mostly out of not wanting to pay $60 for a game. I bought and played through DmC: Devil May Cry, but the only reason I bought it when I did is because I was able to get it for less than $40 on PC. I do worry about games becoming more expensive, but when games like Dead Space 3 are being released with a lot of convenience oriented micro-transaction content, it leaves me with little desire to pay that much for a game at launch, much less at all.

I’m currently sitting on a stack of Etrian Odyssey games, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Kid Icarus Uprising, and a handful of other crazy time-sink games that I’ll have no problems dedicating countless hours to. My love of video games has always been more Japan-centric, even if I didn’t know it, and with these type of games being released, that doesn’t look likely to change.

Even beyond February, I’m realizing that a lot of the games I’m even excited for this year are 3DS games. Monster Hunter 3G is released in March, while Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers comes out in April. I have Pokemon to look forward to in the fall, and I’m assuming that Animal Crossing: New Leaf will be released sometime this summer.

If this somehow becomes a problem over the course of the next few weeks, I can at least be thankful that February is a short month.