The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds could have been better. Given the size of its action role-playing peers, its quest and world could be a little bigger. Moreover, wishing for improvements in enemy variety and punctual technical details would not be too much. Nevertheless, with it, Obsidian successfully birthed an alluring universe for some thrilling sci-fi adventures. It is a realm that has room for moral ambiguity, dark humor, social commentary, enticing drama, colorful alien worlds, as well as various factions fighting for power. And in it, gamers will not only engage in some fun shootouts, but also be forced to make choices that can be surprisingly hard. For those reasons, The Outer Worlds is a must-play for anyone who has a love for grand adventures that take place in a rich world full of dialogues, stories, and missions. After all, even if it jumps on the bandwagon of a genre that has produced some of the most epic adventures the gaming industry has ever produced, the title successfully squeezes in to find a place for itself, using its mixture of action-packed gameplay and solid world-building to pull players into the grip of its complex and dynamic corporate future.

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Metroid Dread

There are points that could have been improved, but Metroid Dread is a rare combination of Nintendo’s usual nearly untouchable level of polish and design cleverness with old-school gaming staples like brutally challenging bosses and the absence of any sort of handholding. In other words, it is precisely what devoted fans of the property had been waiting for. Meanwhile, to those outside that tight circle, the quest works to prove that even if the genre the franchise originated is now overpopulated by efforts that used its basics as a trampoline to various creative ideas, the presence of this pioneering saga remains essential. After all, although its offspring have done quite well in carrying the torch, the truth is no other game delivers the type of experience found in Metroid. And for that reason, it is absolutely delightful to have it return in such a spectacular shape. All players can do now is hope that, this time around, Samus has come back with the intention of sticking around for good.

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Eastward

In the end, it is this meticulous nature that drives Eastward over the top. The game is not perfect. Truthfully, it could actually be a lot better if it were clearer in its plot and if it found better pacing in a few specific segments, be it by cutting down on the talking, by focusing more on answering some of its biggest mysteries, or by achieving a better overall balance between gameplay and script. However, the careful way in which most aspects of its world were put together makes falling victim to its charm nearly inevitable, because it is simply hard to find an adventure – whether it is indie or not – with as much care oozing out of its visuals, music, and characters, and with as much ambition to develop all of that into such a large scope. Because of that, even if Eastward does not quite qualify as the best independent game ever, it certainly goes beyond many of the usual limitations of the scene, daring future indie efforts to look past those boundaries so that more than matching big companies in terms of the quality of their output, like they already do, the best independent studios can start competing in production values and scope as well.

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Justice for All

Fairly, some may complain Justice For All is too similar to the first Ace Attorney game, since it features the same exact visual presentation and even goes as far as using twists that recall those of its prequel. But, in the end, the truth is that what it provides is pretty much what fans of the saga expected at the time; that is, an extra batch of cases starring the gaming world’s most famous defense attorney and the greatly beloved cast of secondary characters that surround him. Yes, this sequel could have used some extra time for new ideas to flourish more naturally and for fresh gameplay mechanics to be evaluated. But as far as fulfilling fans’ desire for more courtroom action goes, Justice For All is a success, since it packs more thrill in its trials than most action games out there contain in all of their missions.

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Metroid Prime Hunters

Much of the incredible success of the Metroid Prime franchise can be attributed to its decision to embrace a first-person perspective while keeping true to the saga’s roots, therefore ignoring the shooting tendencies that dominated the market at the time. As a game that jumps on that initially undesirable action bandwagon, it is easy to look down on Metroid Prime Hunters like a quest that abandons the series’ idiosyncrasies in favor of more straightforward gameplay. Making that judgment too quickly, though, could be a mistake, because although it is undeniable the title presents that transition, it does not shun the Metroid aura completely. Certainly, it has much more blasting foes than exploring and backtracking; it can be too formulaic; and it has key flaws that most of the top shooting games would not have. However, the thrill it produces cannot be overlooked, and by creating a Metroid experience that obviously favors shooting but that does not forget the value of eventually making players question where they need to go to, Metroid Prime Hunters is a smart detour with respectable quality. It could not possibly compete with its console peers, so it chose to build a niche of its own. And even though the operation is not perfect, it is good enough not to be dismissed.

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Super Princess Peach

The bottom line is that people looking for accessible and enjoyable sidescrollers made by Nintendo are likely to first venture into the Super Mario series, which is perfectly understandable given the strength of its name and the quality of its design. On most fronts, Super Princess Peach cannot compare, making it – therefore – an option only for those seeking something slightly different. Yet, there is plenty of value to be found here. Experienced gamers will probably think the adventure is too easy, but Peach’s first solo quest can please anyone with a love for leisurely platformers. It may never be brilliant, but it is very competent, stunningly charming, as well as finely produced. And thanks to the unique abilities of its protagonist, the existence of Super Princess Peach is more than justified, even if it might be overshadowed by its more acclaimed peers.

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Playing Miyamoto – Part IV

After a long while without creating any new levels in Super Mario Maker 2, I was suddenly struck with ideas for more stages. In fact, that creative streak was so considerable I ended up making enough courses to fill up an entire Super World. In this post, I share the codes to some of these levels as well as some comments about each of them.

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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

Inserted in a tradition inaugurated by the trilogy starring Phoenix Wright, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles carries the expected characteristics that have always made the franchise a thrill to play: gripping cases, unforgettable characters, quality humor, cartoonish production values, and text-based puzzles that bring creative gameplay to trials and investigations alike. However, two factors in particular play an essential role in making the title feel like a peak for the property: the fact its ten episodes gravitate around a greater mystery, creating an epic of nigh unimaginable scope; and the quality of its gameplay additions, which make the action in and out of the courtroom more engaging than ever. Because of that, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is not just a great new chapter in the saga; it is also, so far, its brightest moment.

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Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Some may claim Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is excessively similar to Aria of Sorrow, and that is quite fair. In fact, the only truly new idea that Konami produces for this installment – the Magic Seals – ends up being nothing but a considerable design blunder. Yet, the base upon which the game is built is just too strong to crack. A gauntlet of monsters and labyrinthine halls, Dracula’s Castle remains a joy to be explored, and each of its areas plays like a challenging series of combats and navigation challenges. Moreover, the fact the protagonist can permanently acquire the powers of the foes he defeats leads his moveset to be incredibly customizable, adding a strategic degree to both regular combats and boss battles that makes the saga’s traditionally cool encounters against wicked creatures even more alluring. And with these weapons in place, Dawn of Sorrow could never have really failed. Because, yes, it may be a mere continuation of what was achieved in Aria of Sorrow, but that does not mean the greatness in design that tends to permeate the Castlevania series is absent.

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Advance Wars: Dual Strike

As part of the sole Nintendo property that offers a take on the strategy genre at its purest state, Advance Wars: Dual Strike is proof that it is possible to work within traditions while also expanding boundaries, even if ever so slightly. The difficulty eventually reached by its main campaign might prove excessive to some, but anyone who walks into it is bound to notice the company’s usual suspects: the charming visuals; the excellent level design; and the creativity that is necessary to keep on coming up with new ideas inside such a limited scope. Thanks to the capabilities of the Nintendo DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike finds not just a control scheme that is ideal for the type of experience it provides, but also the opportunity to exhibit battles in two fronts that interact with one another. And thanks to the incredible talent of the Intelligent Systems team behind it, it finds enough polished war scenarios to keep fans going for dozens of hours.

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