After the Game of the Year worthy months that were February and March, it makes sense that April would be just a tad slower. While there was a noticeable lack of AAA releases, there were some fine indie releases and JRPGs that grabbed even the most pessimistic gamer’s attention. After all, how could you hate a luchador with Donkey Kong references, brah? There was also some Schatz! Schatz! Schatz! Schatz-Schatz! in action and a certain square headed character with an evil hat and cat guards at his disposal.
Guacamelee! is Metroid plus brawler starring a luchador who pile-drives skeletons, and therefore not just a game of the month, but forever. Juan’s move set is as useful for putting the hurt on the hordes of baddies as it is for exploring the sprawling world and ferreting out its secrets. The colorful, vibrant 2D art style makes the lively environments pop, and there are gaming in-jokes decorating the backgrounds wherever you go. Guacamelee! is a raucous adventure packed with clever platforming, epic battles, and a good amount of humor, all wrapped up with a unique visual flair. This is why we have video games.
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine has been in development for quite some time, but it was time well spent. While it’s incredible enjoyable to play Monaco solo, it’s when you jump online that the magic starts to happen. Of course that means utter madness and chaos, but there’s something charming about running around like madmen, robbing everyone blind. It’s a stealth game at heart but doesn’t focus on penalizing the player when found; instead, the emphasis is more on time and speed of getting in and out with a bag full of cash. Add in the fantastic soundtrack and unique blueprint camera perspective and you have an experience that lives up to the hype.
This month was a big one for RPGs on Nintendo consoles. Up first is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers for 3DS. As a game that is well over a decade old, Soul Hackers somehow manages to outshine most games recently developed. It has a strong central storyline, a great troupe of characters and deep gameplay mechanics that reward the most patient, tactical players. With its gotta-catch-em-all minion system, and the ability to fuse monsters together to create wholly new ones, Soul Hackers is a game that can go the distance. In truth, though, any title this old that doesn’t feel the slightest bit antiquated should be considered a success. And that’s what Soul Hackers is: a definitive, irrefutable success on so many levels.
There’s no question that Pandora’s Tower is the weakest of the three Operation Rainfall Wii JRPG games. Then again, being considered the weakest of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story automatically makes it better than most other roleplaying games on the market. Though, this isn’t just any old RPG, it’s an action-RPG. Meaning to say, Pandora’s Tower’s gameplay is fast and furious, visceral and exhilarating. With Shadow of the Colossus inspired boss battles, and a haunting setting to explore, Pandora’s Tower feels utterly unique in every facet of its being. The absolutely delightful plot and cast only help cement this as one of the darkest RPGs to grace a Nintendo console, and one of the best JRPGs of this generation. Developer Ganbarion should be proud of themselves. Here’s hoping we get more like this from them.
Battleblock Theater has a few rough edges, but winds up being an amazing game in spite of them. It’s a single-player puzzle/platformer with a zany sense of humor that features the same basic gameplay, but completely different level design when played with someone else. You can choose to help your friend, or hurt him if you want, and even when things get chaotic, it’s impossible not to have a fun time. Beyond the main game, there are about a dozen mini-game battle modes to take part in with either another real person, or an AI bit. Battleblock Theater offers up some of the best value on XBLA and will make you laugh with its writing and narration while you’re having a blast platforming and collecting jewels, while being killed by cats and rescuing prisoners in the process.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites:
- Steve: BattleBlock Theater
- Beck: Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
- Jeremy: BattleBlock Theater
- James: Guacamelee!
- Bradly: Pandora’s Tower
- Nikola: Surgeon Simulator 2013
- Tony: Sorcery!