Player’s Page: The Winter Blues

BY James Page

htolniqThe first quarter of the year has always been a slow time for the video game industry. The holiday rush is subsiding and the industry is taking a small break before ramping up for the E3 Expo. Every now and then a company will release a little bit of information to build up buzz for an upcoming title.

Recently Bethesda has tried to generate some buzz by announcing a large press conference for the 2015 E3 Expo and by dropping some hints about “Fallout 4.” Apart from a few instances like the Bethesda announcement the industry tends to be as dormant as the grass; eagerly waiting for the coming spring.

More often than not, the winter brings with it disappointment for video game fans. Those who are eagerly awaiting the release date of a game will often see the date consistently pushed back from December 31 to February, then to March, and in some cases to the upcoming fall.

The PlayStation 4 title “The Order: 1886” is a perfect example of this trend. It was originally supposed to launch with the system, but then it was pushed back to February of 2014 and now it is set to release on February 20, 2015. However, despite this trend, some companies release numerous titles during this time of year, but they tend to be smaller games with a devoted fan base.

NIS America is one of these companies and it usually releases multiple games during the winter, and in 2015 some of the titles include “Criminal Girls: Invite Only,” “htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary,” and “The Awakened Fate Ultimatum.”

super_smash_brosWinter may seem like a depressing time to be a fan of video games, but despite the slow release schedule, the winter is the perfect time to catch up on some games that may have been languishing in one’s collection. These games may be relatively recent additions or they could be old gems, but all of them are games, which for one reason or another have fallen to the wayside in favor of different games.

These games can help one feel comfortable with the solitude of winter or they can bring people together to help pass the time. They do not need to represent large investments of time and energy, but the only requirement is that they are fun and suited to whatever mood one finds themselves in.

The long running Nintendo series “Super Smash Bros.” released two titles for the holiday season. The games were made available for the Nintendo 3DS and WiiU and featured similar game play, characters, and stages. However, the WiiU version featured more characters, more stages, and the ability for more players to join in the mayhem.

The WiiU version introduces the “amiibo” figures which can act as both a collectible figurine and an interactive game piece. The figure is able to interface with the WiiU controller and creates an in-game character which can be leveled up and used as an ally, an opponent, or battled against someone else’s amiibo.

Both games featured the new Smash Run mode which is divided into two parts. The first part of the battle puts the player character into a large area filled with numerous enemies, and the goal to obtain power-ups by destroying as many enemies as possible. At the start of the second part the player’s power-ups are applied to their stats and then all characters are pitted against each other in a battle or a race. The Smash Run mode along with traditional battles and Tour modes combine to offer the player and friends numerous ways to spend fun filled hours.

CelcetaIf winter conjures to mind ideas of solitude then Falcom’s “Y’s Memories of Celceta” is the perfect way to pass the time. Set in the frontier province of Celceta, the game puts the player into the shoes of Adol Christin who is tasked with mapping the Great Forest.

Adol’s first journey into the forest robbed him of all of his memories and now he must venture back into the foreboding woods to complete his task and regain his memories. The game features simple hack-and-slash game play set to an upbeat soundtrack which may be repetitive but makes for an enjoyable experience. The mobility of the PlayStation Vita helps enhance the game play experience by allowing for the player to experience the game anywhere.

Winter can be a frustrating time for fans of video games. The lack of big-name releases and the delayed release of other games can make this time of year seem unbearable. However, these difficult times are perfectly remedied by playing one of a multitude of older games. If older games do not seem like they will chase away the winter blues, one always has the option of playing mobile games, just be mindful of micro-transactions. I for one have spent many hours playing Sudoku, but whatever game one chooses to play it will be a fun way to spend the cold days of winter.

Remember, like all games if you play them just to have fun there will never be a bad game.

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