Sunday, January 18, 2015

2015 in Gaming - My Top 3

I rarely pay full, day one price for video games anymore. It's mostly a budget and interest issue. In collecting older games sometimes I pay $50+ for a game due to rarity. But these days so many of the good games can and likely will get cheaper over time. So paying $60 on day one seems silly, but also I could be paying a ton of money or a game that may not feel worth that amount, especially if I could wait a year and get it at half the price with DLC included.
Over the last 5+ years I've bought day one only a handful of times. Thankfully those have all been fulfilling experiences. But with the great outlook of 2015 gaming there are three games I am highly considering, and likely will, buy on day one as a matter of excitement, support, and I know it will feel worth my time.
Why three? Because there's not enough out there to excite me for day one purchases. And the fact there's three is a little surprising as is. So here they are in alphabetical order...

Grim Fandango: Remastered (Playstation Vita)
In the history of gaming there's been a very short list of games that didn't sell well during their initial release, became a cult classic, and got re-released eventually. Unlike film where re-releasing is easy because of the nature of the medium. But for games many times your old favorites may only work on an old computer with specific settings, or futzing with your current computer. That was the case for Grim Fandango.
This game was first released for Windows computers in 1998. It was a smash critical success but was a commercial failure. Still for many years people sang of it's praise, and now, a little over fifteen years later, fans of the game are treated to a remaster on modern computers, Playstation 4, and my little buddy the Playstation Vita.
I never played the game in it's entirety when it came out in the 90's but I saw what it could be. At the time I wasn't into adventure games. Which makes my interest in this game odd considering I wasn't used to that kind of game, hardly even aware of the genre to be honest. I had interests in PC gaming but never had the cash to play the games because it was the 90's and I was 11 when Grim first came out.
When I found out about this surprising re-release I was through the roof. I could finally play through it to see what the whole experience was about in this adventure, playing as the grim reaper in a film noir-esque story through the Land of the Dead. This could only happen now in the days of digital and the internet and I am thankful for it.
Thing I'm most thankful for? This will probably be a good $15 on day one. No worries having to pay $40-$60 here.

Mario Maker (Wii-U)
I've legitimately tried getting into level editors in games many times before. Most recently was LittleBigPlanet. A game with a great level editor full of possibilities... but I don't know. It really hasn't been my sort of thing. Going even further I've tried games like RPG Maker... on the PS1. I've tried so many times with so many of these things and I just never got into it despite my creative mind and desires.
So what makes Mario Maker different? Why is this the one that has me saying "YES! DAY ONE FOR ME!" Some may say nostalgia, which has a factor. Like many others my age Super Mario Brothers was one of the first games I ever played. What really does it for me are two things... simplicity and the tablet.
The simplicity of Mario Brothers is very appealing to those who haven't done this a lot or at all. It has a very simple set of pieces that can build a world of possibilities. Goombas, pipes, blocks, etc, but the original game, when you think about it, was essentially the same assets used over and over that made a world that felt huge! You can also make levels in the style of the "New" Mario Brothers games, which is nice, I'm just more interested in the older style.
The other is the tablet. The editing tools I've already mentioned were console controller based. Something that requires a lot of time and patience because of the nature of the control. I'm sure the PC dweebs could give me shit, saying to use mouse and keyboard, but even something like that isn't terribly appealing to me. I like to use my hands and using the tablet is the closest thing to an art project, placing cutouts on a sheet to make a level.
Give me the stylis, the tablet, free flowing moment that's better than a mouse, and I can get into it with the Mario Paint style tools.

Persona 5 (Playstation 3)
This one is the creme de la creme for me this year. If you saw my review of Persona 4 Golden or my top 10 games list you'd know I have a burning passion in my heart for this franchise. I'm yet to get through the other games before it, but have at least tried and enjoyed what I've seen so far. But Persona 4 was such a perfect storm of so many things I love about RPGs and gaming, and things I didn't know I liked or wanted. And while the previous games in the franchise haven't hit me on a personal level like Persona 4 did I am still very excited for what Persona 5 can offer.
This franchise has had a consistent increase in quality over all the games. The first was a unique experiment in many ways not just in setting but in mechanics. I haven't played the second game but from what I can tell it took what made Persona so great but even better. Then 3 came along on a new generation and excelled it to a whole new level of greatness. Then Persona 4 was even BETTER! So with Persona 5 coming out on yet another new console generation it gives a lot of possibility to what will come next.
Will it be as good as Persona 4? Objectively it could be. I know it won't hit me as hard on a personal level. But if this franchise has proved anything to me it's that it always provides an excellent and engaging gaming experience that can last me over one hundred hours because I let it. One of the best parts about this game right now is how little we know. It means whatever comes next will be exciting and surprising because not too much was hyped or spoiled before release.
Even though I have a heck of a lot of games in my backlog for multiple consoles I plan on letting this game take over when released. I rarely get this excited for a new game so I plan to embrace that excitement by supporting Atlus and paying full price on day one to get this beauty.
I look forward to our time together Persona 5.

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