My Top Ten Games of 2015: #5

The surprisingly awesome 3DS monster battler Yo-Kai Watch comes in at #5 on my Game of the Year list.

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My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

#5 Yo-Kai Watch

yo-kai watch

Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.

On the surface Yo-Kai Watch is another monster-collecting Pokémon clone aimed at kids. It has already become a massive franchise hit in Japan in the last few years, from toys and comics to movies and anime.

The Nintendo 3DS game really stands out thanks to some unique gameplay that owes more to Dragon Quest Monsters than Pokémon. The semi-open world, modern urban setting is a huge breath of fresh air in a stale JRPG genre. I also really respected the theme of helping people with their various problems rather than just trying to be the best, like no one ever was.

Pokémon Y made #3 on my 2013 list, and I’ve been playing and enjoying those games for well over a decade. I jumped into Yo-Kai Watch with all the skepticism and eye scrutiny, and came away with one of my favorite games of the year.  Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #5”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #6

My #6 Game of the Year is a must-play if you’ve ever enjoyed a 2D Mario game – Super Mario Maker!

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

super-mario-maker

Super Mario Maker is such an obvious winning formula it’s amazing we’re only just now playing it in 2015. Super Mario Maker lets Mario fans craft their own original levels using most of the props and objects from multiple generations and decades of classic Mario games.

Nintendo has always been the king of accessibility. Their Mario level editing software is a brilliant mix of freedom of tools with a structured interface. Built-in sharing tools and a ranking system help players find and share an infinite amount of content.

A campaign mode of sorts lets you shuffle a random selection of levels together, creating a gameplay experience that can be just as fun as building new levels. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #6”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #7

Beautiful and challenging action-platformer Ori and the Blind Forest is #7 on my Top Ten Games of 2015.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori-and-the-Blind-Forest banner

Read my Final Thoughts on Ori and the Blind Forest

When you first see screenshots or videos of Ori and the Blind Forest your initial reaction is probably, “ohh, pretty.” Your second reaction might be, “oh, another indie metroidvania.” Stylistic action-platformers have become all the rage in the indie gaming scene, and Ori isn’t even technically an indie game, having been published by Microsoft Studios.

I dismissed it at first but readily admit to my terrible mistake. Ori and the Blind Forest is indeed beautifully drawn and emotionally engaging. Cute characters in peril tear at your heart strings. But the hidden depth and challenging difficulty are what really make Ori stand out as one of the shining examples of the genre. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #7”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #8

My #8 Game of the Year is Tales from the Borderlands, a brilliantly written episodic adventure in one of my favorite gaming worlds.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

tales-from-the-borderlands-banner

I, along with everyone else in the gaming world got utterly sucked into 2012’s The Walking Dead video game by Telltale Games. This narrative-focused adventure game centered more on making important choices and leveraging relationships rather than traditional inventory puzzles. It was also harrowing and dramatic. It came in at #6 on My Top Ten Games of 2012 list.

Since then Telltale has exploded in popularity, snatching up several licenses to create more episodic adventure games along the same vein as The Walking Dead.

I’ve mostly stayed away. I watched a friend play the first two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2, and I tried the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, but neither really grabbed me. I’ve also heard worryingly bad things about their Game of Thrones adventure, which also just recently wrapped up.

With Tales from the Borderlands, however, it was nothing but excitement and praise, even from folks who didn’t care about Gearbox’s quirky, goofy shooter world. I happen to be a big fan of the Borderlands games: Borderlands 2 was #2 on that 2012 list, while I gave Best Cooperative Game to the Pre-Sequel last year.

Tales from the Borderlands expertly weaves an action-packed tale among thieves and con artists on the zany world of Pandora. Dual protagonists Fiona and Rhys let the story split up and rejoin at key moments, while an expanding cast of excellent, well-written characters makes even the slowest dialogue moments a joy to play out. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #8”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus

Loki teams up with Dr. Doom when the Asgardians move to Latveria, requiring Thor to save the day.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Thor Volume 3Writers: J. Michael Straczynski (Vol. 3), Kieron Gillen (Latverian Prometheus)

Artists: Marko Djurdjevic (Vol. 3), Billy Tan (Latverian Prometheus)

Issues: Thor (2007) #601-606, Giant-Size Finale

 

I’ve realized a common theme in my enjoyment of Marvel comics – if Dr. Doom shows up, everything gets better. Every Marvel writer has a great concept of Dr. Doom as a megalomaniac narcissist, and he makes every damn series or story he’s involved in that much more enjoyable and fun.

Thor is no different. We left off last volume with Balder becoming king of Asgard while Thor has been banished for having to put down his grandfather Bor (whom was monstrously resurrected by Loki, naturally).

Loki brokers a deal with Dr. Doom to allow sanctuary for the restless Asgardians, currently still housed in a floating, remade Asgard in Oklahoma. Things go predictably bad and Thor has to return to save the day, but the action at the end is a lot of fun, and Doom’s unyielding confidence is just the best. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap

After capturing renegade wizard Glasstaff from a Hobgoblin camp, the party infiltrates the goblin tribe hideout at Cragmaw Castle.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

 

Damn that Sleep spell!

For the 2nd week in a row a single spell renders a combat encounter completely moot. The fact that my poor NPCs get no Saving Throw is very irksome. Especially since the wizard can scale up its power by expending a higher spell slot. Sleeping a group of foes has become my players’ de facto strategy, and it’s annoyingly effective.

Anyway, this week the party finally traveled to Cragmaw Castle. First, however, I wanted to insert a dangling thread from earlier in the adventure. The Redbrand leader, Glasstaff, AKA Iarno Albrek, had escaped their clutches, and had been on the run ever since.

The published adventure “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” doesn’t explain what happens if Glasstaff escapes the Redbrand Hideout, so I came up with a fun scenario. He found himself in the clutches of Targor Bloodsword, Hobgoblin war band leader, and was trying to seek an audience with King Grol of the Cragmaws. The PCs saw the camp outside of Cragmaw Castle, and formulated a plan of attack. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #9

The final installment in the Starcraft II trilogy comes in at #9 on my Game of the Year list.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

 

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

SC2 Legacy of the Void

There’s a poem titled “Ode to the RTS” rattling around in my brain somewhere. If you grew up playing PC games in the 90s it was pretty tough not to become a fan of the real time strategy genre. Blizzard and Westwood competed for our love with their growing mega-franchises, while numerous knock-offs flooded the market. It was a magical time.

These days you have Starcraft II, and that’s about damn it. When Blizzard announced the sequel I was ecstatic; Starcraft was (and still is I guess) one of my all time favorite games.

Then they announced that SC2 would be split up between three games, with the three races’ campaigns as their own standalone games. Because it’s Blizzard, these games took years to come out. Five years after Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, we finally get the third and final Starcraft II experience in Legacy of the Void.

That’s a lot of exposition to explain what is very nearly a Lifetime Achievement award that I’m bestowing on Starcraft II by including it on my Game of the Year list. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #9”