Hollow Knight

Balanced against so much outstanding quality, though, it is easy to see how minimal – not to say completely negligible – those problems are. Hollow Knight blasts by them, and it constructs an adventure of all-time greatness. By giving its starring knight a set of skills that is absolutely common and presenting a progression that is not too different from that of other classic Metroidvania titles, it muscles its way towards excellence by achieving unforeseen performance in other areas. The size of its world is stunning; the level of freedom players have at any point in the game is mesmerizing; the tsunami of content, both mandatory and extra, it carries is flooring; the design of its levels – which have a fine-tuned balance between platforming, environmental puzzles, and exploration – is masterful; the optional challenges that protect its most valuable collectibles are as brutal as they are fun; and the way it completely puts all elements of its exploration into the hands of players (including figuring out where to go, opening shortcuts, and putting effort into mapping the terrain) is daring. All of those pieces come together to form, in the depths of the gorgeous haunting Hallownest, a quest that gloriously walks through the halls of gaming history that are reserved for the industry’s finest productions ever.

Full Post

Advertisements

Super Mario Kart

And, in a way, that statement nicely sums up playing Super Mario Kart from a modern perspective. It is clear the franchise has greatly and naturally advanced since its first installment: graphics have become better, songs and scenery have become more varied, races have included more competitors, tracks have grown to outstandingly insane levels of design, and the experience has become more polished. However, Super Mario Kart – as the game of the series that is truest to kart racing itself, thanks to its simplicity – packs an exciting challenge of a kind that cannot be found in any of the other installments. Surely, Super Mario Kart will not blow the minds of those who have gone through more recent entries of the series; yet, the game will likely be able to entertain and make one look rather fondly to the franchise’s very well-designed beginning.

Full Post

F-Zero

Yet, even when carrying such thin content, F-Zero is still greatly enjoyable. It is obvious that, thanks to 3-D gaming as well as consoles with increased power, the franchise has – since its inception – grown far beyond the completely flat tracks and fifteen-car races that its Super Nintendo version provides. Nonetheless, the title is worth a revisit for far more reasons than the fact it was the start of one of Nintendo’s greatest series. It is a fast, exciting, and challenging racing game that entertains with excellence while it lasts. Given there is not much to it, the time one will spend with F-Zero will strongly depend on how willing they are to take on the game’s highest difficulty settings; therefore, the decision of whether to acquire it or not heavily relies on that variable. Those who do decide to dive into the game, though, will quickly understand why F-Zero is mentioned as a major inspiration to all titles that involve high-speed futuristic races through circuits that defy the laws of gravity and star a level of brutality that challenges common sense.

Full Post

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

It is pretty obvious, from everything it does, that a spectacular amount of work, dedication, and creativity went into the making of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Its addition of collectibles and its focus on more intricate levels showed the Mario 2-D games had the capacity to be far more than a straightforward race to the finish, and its artistic prowess created a visual masterpiece that succeeded in topping even the graphics of games that took the hardware of the era to the edge of their technical limits. It is true it carries some easily avoidable design issues that end up being the cause of some frustration, and it is arguable some of its worlds could have benefited from more of a thematic cohesion between levels, as sometimes it feels like backgrounds are used randomly rather than to form a uniform term. Nonetheless, Yoshi’s Island is by all means a spectacular achievement that still plays as well as it did when it was released and that retains its capacity to amaze. And those are the biggest statements that can be made about the brilliancy of the content within.

Full Post

Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares, then, manages to be, simultaneously, absolutely engaging and infuriating. If, on one hand, it succeeds, like few games have, in constructing a grotesque world that is as irresistible as it is repulsive; on the other, it tends to fill it up with gameplay that is either merely decent or downright frustrating. The Maw is an absolutely stunning setting in which horror, immersion, and disturbing imagery are always present. And amidst that darkness the journey of Six, a character who – like the game she stars – speaks a lot without saying anything at all, is an incredibly compelling act to follow. It is, however, a disappointing shame that a masterful achievement on silent storytelling and atmospheric architecture is hampered by irregular game design. Nonetheless, the lack of a truly great gameplay facet is, in the end, overcome by artistic excellence. Little Nightmares may not be thoroughly enjoyable, but it is certainly a remarkable game.

Full Post

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

As a good representation of the South Park franchise, The Fractured But Whole does nothing to please an audience that is disgusted or unmoved by the show’s humor, as it obviously prefers to make use of its precious time to either ignore those folks or keep on making them sick. To everyone else, though, The Fractured But Whole is the ultimate South Park gaming experience, for it dresses up the kids they have grown to love in a fantastic theme, catapults the children onto bizarre situations that go out of their way to point the finger at or bother as many people as possible, and throws them into delightful battles against the madness of society, drunk parents, and satanic creatures alike. Nobody escapes a good beating, and absolutely no one is free from the alluring tastelessness of the South Park canon of offenses and criticisms.

Full Post

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Jungle Beat is, in the end, a forgotten gem of Nintendo’s rich lore. The fact it was created for a system that was not a widespread success and the general difficulty of playing it in its best state, which requires the acquisition of a pair of bongos that does not have any use outside a couple of other forgettable games, makes it easy to understand why it is rarely mentioned. Anyone who finds a way to play it, though, will be in for one of those unique and unexpected experiences that only a company like Nintendo can provide. Jungle Beat makes use of a control scheme that is, in theory, absolutely ludicrous for a platformer. However, when it is all said and done, it is able to use the nature of that accessory as a way to embed features and quirks of musical games into the fabric of a platformer; creating, as such, a sidescroller that is more about pulling off perfect combos by beating on a couple of drums with extreme precision than it is about beating the bad guy sitting at the end of the game.

Full Post