It’s still a sad fact of the video game industry that most games based on pre-existing licenses are terrible. For every Batman: Arkham Asylum or South Park: The Stick Of Truth, you get a Robocop or a Rambo. That’s because, usually, developers of these licensed games are not given enough time or money to actually make a quality video game. So what happens when you give a pre-existing license to Platinum Games, a developer that’s notorious for making good games even with a short deadline and a low budget? Well…
There are only two tailing missions in the new Assassin’s Creed.
There’s a moment very, very near the end of Enix’s 1992 action game Soul Blazer where a character asks you to make them a promise. You’re leaving, for one reason or another, and this person says that even though you may never return, she’ll feel better if you lied and said you would. She asks you one last time, and the normal bit of agency Soul Blazer lends you, a “Yes/No” response, is minimized for the only instance in the entire game to a single option: “Yes.” It’s a compelling and surprising moment that serves to encapsulate Soul Blazer as a whole, and its frequent ability to find moments of bizarre power in unexpected places.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the video game equivalent of buying a next-generation console the night it releases. It’s fun to be there on day one, to see the sights and poke at the systems. It’s less fun when you realize how thin everything is, and how many months you’ll have to wait for even a hint of substance.
There may be no television property more ripe for a video game adaptation than Adventure Time. A lot of its stories are, by the creator’s admission, structured like mini-Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. It’s easy to imagine throwing the huge list of characters and the shockingly well-defined world they inhabit into an RPG, getting the writers to cook up anywhere from 20-40 hours of endearing plot, and finding a developer who could design a satisfyingly simple combat mechanic. Paper Mario comes to mind.
Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! (henceforth referred to as Explore The Dungeon) is not that game.
Earlier this year developer Simogo released Year Walk, a narratively driven adventure game with a chilling atmosphere. Year Walk used iOS devices to great effect and created something genuinely unique for the platform, thoroughly engrossing players into a strange and terrifying world. Simogo recently released their newest game on iOS called Device 6 and people should most certainly play it.
Telltale struck gold with the critical and commercial success of The Walking Dead last year. Now they’ve decided to bring a different comic book series to the adventure game genre with The Wolf Among Us. The first episode covers a lot of ground very quickly. It acts like a pilot episode of a serialized television show, establishing a complex world and characters with around two hours of content. It’s messy, but that doesn’t hinder the impact of its narrative.
Pikmin hails from a time when Nintendo was, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m the first person to make this argument, more willing to take a risk. The GameCube was out, with its weirdly designed but still marginally industry-standard controller, and they took some gambles on new properties, like Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, and, yes, Pikmin. People who said Nintendo hadn’t been interesting since they defined 3D games on the N64 just weren’t looking hard enough. Pikmin has always impressed me, from its weirdness to its relative mechanical complexity and sharp visual style.
It deserves better.