Summer Gaming Challenge #2 – A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of those titles I really wanted to delve into, but kept getting distracted.  At first, I just wanted to finish Etrian Odyssey IV (which is a big mistake; there’s a reason why it’s taken me over a year to get to the final Land), then I had to review games, then I became smitten with my Vita, and the list of excuses continues on.  Eventually, when the Summer Gaming Challenge came around and I asked my boyfriend for suggestions, this was one of the titles he recommended above all else.  So, seeing as I needed a few portable titles to play on the transit to school and work, I delved in and began Link’s new adventure near the beginning of my challenge.

And I just could not stop playing it.

I am one that needs to be in the “right mood” to enjoy a Zelda or adventure-y title:  If I’m not in the mood to explore and solve puzzles, I’ll quickly drop the game, like I have with 3D Dot Game Heroes and Phantom Hourglass.  When I started A Link Between Worlds, I wasn’t sure if I was in “the mood”.  I kept dying in Hera’s Tower, and had a general lack of interest in transversing Hyrule.

When I get to Lorule though… everything changed.  The joy of exploring the entirety of the land more or less unhindered completely sold me on the title.  It was actually a good while until I entered my first dungeon in the dark world; I spent a goodly amount of time just walking around the land, trying to find more cracks, more Maiamais, more save points so I could travel around on a whim.  Collecting rupees also was fun, as being able to afford and straight out buy Ravio’s items lends to a sense of accomplishment… and then you can go and get them upgraded on top of it!

The dungeons themselves were pretty easy overall, but then again it may have been simply because I’ve learned the tricks Zelda games expect my to catch over the years.  I still got stuck on a few things (the Dark Palace was a little annoying because of… well, it was dark), but other than wondering about whether a few items were in the game I never had to consult a guide.  I still died a lot, though.  I never said I was good at games.

The story was pretty nice, and pretty light.  I already knew about the big plot twist, but it was nice nevertheless.  Of course, being a Zelda game, and one inspired by older iterations at that, I didn’t expect an epic, sweeping plot to guide me through the world.

But yeah, A Link Between Worlds?  Fantastic game, definitely in my Top 3 Zelda titles (which is a list that’s never definitive, mind you), and another winner for my Challenge.  Looking at my list, this probably won’t be the end of the good times, either, so it’s going to be a fun summer.

Summer Gaming Challenge #1 – Journey

I’ve been lazy with writing these (I’ve already beaten my second game!), but no more.  The first game I’ve taken down for my Summer Gaming Challenge is Journey, a title I forgotten about but decided to switch in once I saw someone else put it on their list… and, well, I’m glad I did switch it in.

Journey really is a beautiful adventure.  The graphics are fantastic, and give an amazing atmosphere to the whole ordeal.  The spoon fed story is also great, and leaves a lot open for interpretation.  In terms of the gameplay, it’s simple and easy to progress without getting too stuck, and there’s a palpable reward for exploring the area (basically, it’s easier to move around).

When I went in, I expected to play the whole Journey by myself; it’s been a long time since the game was released, after all.  Most of the first half of the game ended up with me playing alone; it did not impact me negatively really, as I took my time exploring the areas and collecting extensions to my scarf.  At one point, though, I kept hearing chirps (the noises the characters make) and looked around to see, to my surprise, another player a few feet behind me.  From there, everything changed:  Playing with another player and working the puzzles with someone else gave Journey a whole new layer of enjoyment and underlying emotion that it brought the title to new heights.

See, together or alone, Journey is… well, a journey:  A path taken to find the truth, to find peace, to find… anything, really.  When there is someone beside you, it makes the journey that much easier, as you know there’s someone right there beside you, sharing your pain and triumphs alike.  As my partner and myself trekked up the snow-laden mountain, keeping close to each other to keep warm and able to use our dwindled powers (most of our scarves were ripped off when I caught the attention of an enemy), I felt an honest connection between the characters on the screen.  It was a joy to see the two working together, struggling to make it to the end of their trek, and that I was a part of it.

It made it all the more painful that I lost my partner about halfway through the climb up the mountain.  While the player likely disconnected or decided to quit (I was a bit slow, after all), I felt as if my companion had died, and that my avatar had to finish the quest on their own.  Why couldn’t he make it?  Was the cold too much?  Losing the companion at that point made the atmosphere feel all the more real; it made it feel as though I had to push on for my partner’s sake, lest it’ll all be for nothing.  It’s quite impressive that a simple thing that happens online all the time could provide this amount of pure emotional force behind it.  It just goes to show how much attention was put into the product that nothing breaks your immersion into the atmosphere of the game; in fact, in some cases little occurrences might even drive this point home further.

But really, Journey ended up being a beautiful title, and a great start to my challenge this year.  Here’s to hoping I’ll have a great run of classics to keep me rolling through the summer (spoiler alert: I do)!

Summer Gaming Challenge 2014

It’s that time of the year again… time for the Summer Gaming Challenge!  I’m going to be a little lazy and just cut and copy the information from a post I made elsewhere here.

The Summer Gaming Challenge is when you choose ten games to play over the summer that are considered ‘classics’ that you’ve not played for one reason or another.  Since Racketboy’s a retro community, they tend to stick to older games, but it really can be a game from any generation.  Most of my games tend to fall in the modern generations.

My time span will be from June 1 to around the end of August (haven’t decided if that’ll be the day my fall classes start or the end of the month).

Here’s my list for this year:

  • Shadow Hearts (PS2)
  • Luigi’s Mansion (GC)
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars (SNES, via Wii VC)
  • Radiant Historia (DS)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (PS2)
  • Suikoden (PS1, via PS1 Classics)
  • Ni No Kuni:Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
  • Shenmue II (Xbox)
  • Journey (PS3) [Post]

I actually have a nice representation of consoles this year… which I decided to do since last year’s method of only doing two consoles failed pretty hard.  I actually wanted to include a lot of retro games this year, but since the Retron 5 took forever and a half to come out, I suppose it’ll have to wait until next time.

There’s actually a few games on this list that I’ve already started (NNK, DDS, and Shadow Hearts) that I’ve never gotten around to finishing.  Mario RPG and ALBW I’ve really been wanting to play, but never found time.  I feel like I have an obligation to play Shenmue II, and the others were mainly chosen by Slayn Bacon, because I couldn’t decide anything (some of the others were games he picked too, but I had at least an idea that I wanted to put them on the list in the first place).

As usual, when I beat a game I’ll write up a quick post about it; and if I beat an RPG that’s not in RPGSite’s database, I’ll also write up a formal review there.

This year, I’m hoping to beat at least five of the games.  Of course, I’m gonna try to beat them all, but I also have to be a little realistic!