As I mention in my review of the new indie title Hohokum, I prefer games with structure versus those that tend to let you roam free, learning as you go. Hohokum’s aimless approach was both its greatest strength and weakness, yet it made me realize I appreciate similar titles and their approach to that design. It’s not the best example of this approach to game design, but it had me thinking about those design philosophies and how important they are to gaming as a whole.
Everyone does Top 10 Games lists. The problem with those? Usually, they’re full of games that earn a place because of nostalgia or industry significance. Here at Snackbar Games, we like being a little more practical: if you’re looking to just have fun, what games should you pick up and play today? This time, we grab the indigo box by the handle and take a look at the GameCube.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The original Paper Mario came out very late in the N64’s life cycle, and as a result, many missed out on this still-beautiful gem of a game. With Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Intelligent Systems strove to improve the formula for a new generation of hardware and completely succeeded. This 2004 sequel has Mario journeying through the land of Rogueport while trying to rescue Princess Peach (again), meeting quirky new friends like Goombella and Professor Frankly and collecting crystal stars to open the titular Thousand-Year Door. The 2D sprites against the 3D background look fantastic, the buddies are a treat and the scenarios (particularly the coliseum section) worked well to set the pace. It’s a joy to play, and a respectable continuation of the Mario RPG series. - Henry Skey
The Sega Genesis, which just celebrated the 25th anniversary of its American release, was notoriously a bit of a mess in the multiplayer department. Instead of a unified first-party effort, there were three competing schemes for allowing up to four players at once, and compatibility is… well, it’s a headache. But there are ways to get around that, and there are games worth that effort! READ MORE
I moan about a lot of things, like how the traffic lights don’t sync up on Cook Street between Johnson and Yates. Or how much sunscreen I have to use during the summer, or even how the seagulls near my apartment seem to be practicing for the Sam Kinison choir, starting at 4 a.m. I’m sure we all have our little irks about life we want to change, and some are empowered enough to do so. If I were smarter, I would take a different route home from work, wear a hat when I’m outdoors and move away from mating birds.
Some grievances are beyond my help, or at least I can only do so little. The Snackbar staff are well aware that I’m a positive person, but when it comes to a lack of sequels for my favorite game series, I can turn from Mr. Rogers to Oscar the Grouch at the drop of a trash can lid. Lately, I can’t get Suikoden out of my head and how a Suikoden VI could knock it out of the park. READ MORE
Everyone does Top 10 Games lists. The problem with those? Usually, they’re full of games that earn a place because of nostalgia or industry significance. Here at Snackbar Games, we like being a little more practical: if you’re looking to just have fun, what games should you pick up and play today? This time, we return to the system that dominated the early-2000s: the PlayStation 2.
Final Fantasy XII
Despite the juggernaut brand name, Final Fantasy XII was more of a risk than many think. It had been five years since Final Fantasy X and, since then, Square Enix had released X-2 and Final Fantasy XI, both to mixed reception. It also made a rare design choice; setting the game in Ivalice, a world the franchise had used before. All turned out to be well, for the most part. The graphics and environments are grand, the music is pleasant (if unmemorable) and the amount of side content certainly takes influence from Final Fantasy XI’s MMO style of gameplay. The game has aged quite well, retains a ton of replay value and spawned a (less memorable) sequel for the DS, Revenant Wings. - Henry Skey
Last year I talked about Dragon Whisperer, a fine if unremarkable trick-taking game with some beautiful art design but no substance to match it. Playing Dragon Whisperer left me wanting more from the intersection of Hearts-style game play and fantasy adventure. Amazingly, a few months later I stumbled upon the Kickstarter campaign for Tricked-Out Hero from Prolific Games, which appeared to offer just that and decided to give it some support. READ MORE
Spoilers for Transistor ahead! Don’t read on if you haven’t finished the game and want to keep those last moments a complete surprise.
Let’s talk about Transistor. It’s a game I love, but not entirely for the reasons I expected to. At first, I found myself put off by its combat and story that seemed to constantly keep you far enough away to learn anything. Slowly but surely the pieces began to fall into place, revealing a late game section that began to change things dramatically. But this isn’t about those moments. This is about two characters and most importantly how Supergiant managed to turn an unorthodox relationship into the game’s greatest strength.
As with Bastion before it, there are plenty of worthwhile moments prior to its ultimate conclusion, but its conclusion is, ultimately, what matters most. READ MORE
Everyone does Top 10 Games lists. The problem with those? Usually, they’re full of games that earn a place because of nostalgia or industry significance. Here at Snackbar Games, we like being a little more practical: if you’re looking to just have fun, what games should you pick up and play today? This time, we profile Microsoft’s first console effort: the Xbox.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
While many consider Namco’s Ace Combat series to be the king of the flight combat games around this time, the Xbox version of Crimson Skies is a force to be reckoned with. Ported over from the PC and simplified with console controls in mind, this “dumbing down” of the arcade-style flight game actually made it more fun as a result, creating one of the most fast-paced flight games on a system without many other options. - Andrew Passafiume
In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. In this final installment, Andrew Passafiume and Jeff deSolla discuss the evolution of the RPG legend, Dragon Quest.
We’ve covered many iconic franchises in From Pixels to Polygons, but few share the same legacy as Dragon Quest. Originally introduced to the West as Dragon Warrior, the DQ series helped craft Japanese-style RPGs, becoming the poster child for the genre long before Final Fantasy took the spotlight. Its evolution over time is steady, but significant, as it consistently remains aligned with its roots while still providing small, meaningful steps towards the future.
The longer I write this column, the more often I hear one specific bit of feedback: “Graham, this stuff sounds cool and all, but I like actually knowing what’s going on when I play games.” Fair enough! The language barrier can be overcome, but it’s never without sacrificing some degree of comfort and comprehension. But I can help you too, dear skeptical reader. We’re just going to have to turn our gaze across the other ocean. READ MORE