My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’

My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time: ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’

If Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was the game that got me through my early college years, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was undoubtedly the game that got me through pretty much all of high school. Let me just start by saying that I don’t think Brawl is the best installment in the series, in fact I honestly believe that the games get better with each successive installment. But Brawl is the one that I have the most fond memories of.

As weird as this may sound, I’ve never personally owned a copy of the game. I rented it when it first came out back in 2008 (and many times after that), but I never saw the need to outright buy it because the majority of my other friends had the game, so I had pretty consistent access to it.

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I’ll never forget just how cool the opening to Brawl was. The epic song and all of the cool visuals were a nice little taste of the game’s Subspace Emissary. In a first for the series, The Subspace Emissary was a story mode that featured almost the entire cast of the game in a war to save their world. This lead to interesting pairings such as Mario and a new version of Pit from Kid Icarus, Pikachu and Samus, and even something as crazy as Captain Olimar and Captain Falcon from Pikmin and F-Zero respectively.

But besides being the easiest way to unlock all of the characters, The Subspace Emissary also features some amazing cg cutscenes. I don’t know if you’ve ever wanted to see Donkey Kong and Star Fox join forces to defeat a Rayquaza, but Brawl has that and many more moments for you to enjoy. The gameplay of Subspace Emissary may be a standard platformer/beat em’ up affair, but the cutscenes alone make the entire campaign worth it.

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Story aside, the obvious draw to this game is the mascot crossover action that the series is best known for. Brawl definitely has flaws, and if I’m playing a Smash Bros. game these days, it’s gonna be Smash 4. But I just have so many precious memories of playing match after match of this game. Between my friend group’s collective Wii consoles, we have well over 1000 hours of total gameplay.

When we weren’t having standard stock matches, we could often be found having 99 man brawls on Final Destination, playing with all random characters, or even playing on some of the janky custom stages that Brawl introduced. Most importantly, we would always jokingly disparage the one friend that always chose Big Blue when it was their turn to pick the stage.

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One thing that makes me really nostalgic for Brawl is the fact that I don’t really play video games with my friends anymore. We still play tons of board and deck-building games, but most of them are into competitive multiplayer games like League of Legends and Overwatch, things that I’m personally just not really into.

As such, Brawl reminds me of the times when we would all convene at one person’s house, order pizza, and just play until we fell asleep or our batteries died (we eventually decided that it would be a good idea to invest in rechargeable batteries). Unless I get into some type of competitive game, I don’t really see myself spending as much shared time on a game with my friends, as I did with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I utterly adore this game, and some of my most treasured memories are intimately linked with it. And it even has Sonic in it!

My Favorite Games Of 2016

My Favorite Games Of 2016

2016 was a very familiar year in gaming for me. In this context, familiar means that the majority of the games that I was excited for and ended up loving hailed from franchises that I already had a taste for. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. While I’m always up for new ideas and franchises, I would never want my favorite game series to go away for too long.

 
Before I get into my list of top games, I have to give a shout out to a handful of titles that didn’t quite make the rankings. I absolutely adore the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, and I was super excited for the chance to play Rise of the Tomb Raider on my PS4. While I didn’t feel as connected to the story this time around, I do think that Rise of the Tomb Raider improved on its predecessor in just about every other way.

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Pokemon Sun and Moon are excellent installments in the long running franchise, and easily the best since Black and White 2. The removal of Gyms in favor of a region spanning Island Trial, in conjunction with a cultured and colorful Hawaiian setting made Sun and Moon super refreshing to play as a lifelong Pokemon fan.

 
Shantae Half Genie Hero rounds out my honorable mentions. While I haven’t quite beaten the game, I’ve definitely played more than enough to fall in love with it. Shantae controls like a dream, and the gorgeous 2d art style makes traversing the levels super exciting. Plus, Half Genie Hero does a really good job at getting me addicted to its Metroidvania elements.

 
I now present to you, in order of release date, my favorite games of 2016!

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

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I’ve been a fan of the Ultimate Ninja games since the first one released on the PS2, and I was extremely excited about Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. It looked like it was going to have everything it needed to be the best Ultimate Ninja Storm game to date, and it mostly succeeded. While I’m not happy with certain things that were done in terms of story presentation, everything else in the game was phenomenal.

 
Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 showed that it had learned from everything that the previous games did wrong. The roster is perfect, as every character, major or minor, from the Naruto universe is included. Character switching and jutsu customization are the major new gameplay additions this time around, and they are welcome changes to the fast paced fighting of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series.

 
It may not have beaten Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 as my favorite Naruto game, but Storm 4 is still an awesome experience. It’s one of the few games I played this year that I was always thinking about when I wasn’t playing it. A great time for Naruto fans, or anybody that just wants to play a high action spectacle fighter.

Fire Emblem Fates

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Fire Emblem Awakening was my introduction to Intelligent System’s storied strategy series. The gameplay and characters had me glued to my 3DS for hours, and I can easily say the same for Fire Emblem Fates, the sequel to Awakening. Fates is split into three different stories: Birthright, Conquest and Revelations. At the time of this writing, I haven’t experienced Revelations, but I have played both Birthright and Conquest.

 
Fates was billed as a game that forces you to make a critical choice at a certain point in the story, and I’m not a fan of the fact that the choice was essentially tied to the purchase of a specific version. Having said that, I feel that the story that unfolds, particularly on the Conquest side, is more than enough to make me get over this sentiment. In addition, the tweaks and balances that were made to Awakening’s Pair system made for a much more challenging and rewarding experience.

Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

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The game based on the movie based on the game (this joke is already old isn’t it), Ratchet & Clank on the PS4 was a great source of gaming comfort food for me this year. I always know what to expect when playing a Ratchet & Clank game, and this one even managed to exceed my expectations. The presentation is absolutely stunning. Ratchet & Clank has always been credited as looking like a Pixar movie, and while the PS3 entries came close to meeting this statement, the PS4 iteration totally nails it.

 
Ratchet & Clank is shooting and platforming gameplay at it’s finest. While the weapon selection is slightly disappointing (the majority of them are lifted from previous entries), I have way too much fun mowing down enemies, collecting bolts and upgrading my weapons to really care about that. Ratchet & Clank for the PS4 is one of the best games on the console, and is definitely the breath of life that this franchise needed.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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Uncharted 4 stands shoulder to shoulder with Ratchet & Clank as, in my opinion, the two best games on the PS4 (pretty fitting considering the history between Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games). There’s not much I can say about the game that hasn’t been said already. The story is emotional, poignant and engaging, and I never get tired of seeing the lives of Nate, Elena and Sully.

 
Sam is a great addition to the cast, and adds an interesting family background for Nate. Uncharted 4 is much more somber than previous Uncharted games, but it never delves into The Last Of Us territory. It is still packed with tons of humor, as well as Nathan Drake’s familiar quips and one-liners. Easily the best story experience I had in 2016, and a fitting send off for our swashbuckling everyman.

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

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Estival Versus is probably the most pure fun I had with a game in 2016. It appeals to the arcade loving gamer in me, and by that I mean it’s all about high scores and combos. The game is super fluid on the PS4, with only a few occasional frame drops, and the girls feel really good to control. Playing around with all of the different shinobi and finding which of their fighting styles worked best for me lead to hours and hours of enjoyment.

 
You can’t talk about Senran Kagura without mentioning the fanservice (good ol’ life and hometown). It’s there, it’s shameless, and it’s basically an essential part of the experience (so much so that it is literally a gameplay mechanic). The fact that there is a dress up component of the game should speak volumes to this, but I had a lot of genuine fun dressing up the girls in different outfits, accessories and hairstyles. I’m all about Senran Kagura now, and I’m super excited for future games in this franchise.

7th Dragon III: Code VFD

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Last but not least, we have 7th Dragon III: Code VFD, a 3DS role playing game that literally came out of nowhere for me. I only discovered this game by seeing Sega promote it on Twitter leading up to its release. It ended up being not only one of my favorite games of 2016, but one of my favorite 3DS games in general. The story is nothing new or exciting, but as someone who is a sucker for cliche Shonen anime tropes, I was really engaged during my 30 some odd hours with 7th Dragon Code.

 
I’m all about player choice when it comes to role playing games, and 7th Dragon Code does this oh so well. Everything from class choices to skill progression is completely in the hands of the player. In the same way that you could dedicate one character to each class, you could also have an entire party of God Hands or Samurai. Even beyond that, two members of the same class at a similar level could have completely different movesets and specializations. If you’re looking for a fun 3DS role playing game, I implore you to pick up 7th Dragon Code.

 
And those are my favorite games of 2016. I’m really happy with this selection, and would recommend these games to just about anybody (though you should definitely play the first 3 Uncharted games before picking up A Thief’s End). 2016 was a really interesting year for gaming, and 2017 looks to be even better!

2017 Project: My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time

2017 Project: My 12 Favorite Games Of All Time

It’s no secret that I love gaming. I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember, and it’s easily one of my favorite hobbies of all time. Throughout the years and years that I’ve played video games, there are many games that have spoken to me in a very special way. The term “special”, in this case, can mean many things. It could be a game that I played as a child that holds a lot of nostalgic meaning to me, or could be a game that’s just a ton of fun to play.

In 2017, I want to use this blog to discuss the games that are the most important and most special to me. So every month during this year, I’ll be discussing one of my 12 favorite games of all time. In these posts, I’ll be talking at length about everything in the game. From gameplay and mechanics, to story and characters, everything is going to get it’s fair time of discussion.

The first game I’m going to be discussing is Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (fitting considering a certain other game that comes out this year). You  can expect this post to go up sometime in the next few weeks.

I Don’t Think I’m Cut Out For Writing Reviews

Concise reviews, at least.

Shortly following this post, my review of Sonic Rush review will go live, but it almost didn’t. It’s not that I don’t think it’s good or well written, it’s just really long. And that’s after I cut and revised certain parts to make it shorter.

As someone who is an aspiring writer, my biggest personal shortcoming is being too wordy. Prime example: at one point during my writing of the review, I was 886 words and 9 paragraphs deep before I had even touched on level design. And that’s a review for a 2D platformer, just imagine if I ever review an RPG like Kingdom Hearts or Persona. I’m also still pretty bad at formatting, though I am getting better. I just have a hard time deciding when to make breaks in thought for paragraphs.

My problem is that I always feel the need to be as descriptive as possible when writing reviews. In addition to giving my opinion on the game, I also have to provide an at least decent level of explanation for the game’s story and mechanics. Personally, I don’t really care how long a game review is as long as the review is informative and not boring to read.I mean after all, this is my blog. I can put whatever I very well please on here, and I’ll obviously continue to do so. It’s just that being long-winded is always something I’ve been super conscious of when it comes to my writing, and I really wanna improve on being more concise. I don’t wanna be that person that people just wish would get to the point already.

Also of note is the fact that these are written reviews, not video ones. I’ve noticed that people are way more likely to watch incredibly length analysis videos, as opposed to long-form written content, (my guess is because with videos, you can show and tell at the same time). I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve watched some really long gaming, animation and film analysis videos in my day. I’m confident that I’ve spent way more time watching than reading this type of content.

While I do enjoy writing reviews, I honestly enjoy writing opinion articles similar to my Sonic Unleashed and Kid Icarus Anime ones way more. I can spend as little or as much time describing and explaining things as I want during these pieces, because I’m not necessarily required to critique every element of the game, movie, etc. For example, I didn’t touch on the Werehog during my Sonic Unleashed piece but one time, and that was simply a passing mention. Were I to give an in-depth review of that game, I’d have to explain his mechanics, level objectives, playstyle, so on and so forth. That would be a real novel of a review.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be doing reviews in the future, at least not with this current format, but I will still be talking at length about various games, that’s a guarantee. Like I said, I love writing my opinion about various game design aspects, but only for the parts I actually want to talk about. Unless I look back at the Sonic Rush review and suddenly fall in love with the format, I think I’ll be leaning more towards general critique and discussion.

An example would be Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, which I promised a review for. Instead of producing a lengthy article analyzing every aspect of the game, I think it would be better  to write something that’s much more concise and compact, and focuses on a few key elements, such as the various improvements and flaws it has compared to its predecessor. The same things goes for other games I promised reviews for, such as Xenoverse 2.

I haven’t fully made a decision yet, but I’m doing my best to explore all my options. I really wanna take some time to look back on my Sonic Rush review, as well as some of my other opinion pieces. Rest assured that you guys will be the first to know when I do make a decision. Thank you guys for reading, and be sure to have an awesome day!

 

A Schedule Update

A schedule update after only one post? That’s gotta be some kind of record right? Anyway, yeah, I totally did not follow through on the promise of posts every Monday and Wednesday. Sorry about that. But I’m here to say that I am going to start posting consistently. While I don’t quite have a solid schedule, I’m just going to start making posts a few times a week until I can nail down a schedule! Thanks guys, hope you enjoy the content!