A couple of really big releases this month with Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Yakuza 0. The best game this month is Two Point Hospital however so don’t let it pass you by.
Final Fantasy XV
While I own a few Final Fantasy games and have been meaning to buy more, I have not played a Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy VII. Which was eight Final Fantasies ago (not counting spinoffs) and twenty-three years ago.
Oh dear God I am old. In all fairness, Final Fantasy VII (along with Parasite Eve) sparked an interest in video games for me. Not till The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion did I play a video game that so changed the paradigm in my mind of what video games could do.
Final Fantasy XV will change no one’s mind about video games. It may change a few minds about Final Fantasy games though. With a real time combat a large and colorful open world and a K-pop band as your main characters, this isn’t your father’s Final Fantasy game. And that is a good thing.
What do I think? It is purty. I am not yet sold on spending forty hours with these lads, however. I watched the companion movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV which I enjoyed but again it really didn’t make me want to immediately pick up a controller and continue the story. Obvious bad guys doing bad guy things and Sean Bean dying are not exactly plot twists that will set the world on fire.
Being on Xbox Game Pass is just the tonic however for me to at least give it a spin for a couple of hours and that might be all it takes for it to get its hooks in me. It better have a snowboarding mini game though.
I included two videos here because opinions on this game are quite mixed. Some feel it is the worst thing from Bethesda since Fallout 76. Others think it is even worse than Fallout 76. I have never been a fan of forced cooperative gameplay so this one is a no go for me. My takeaway is to ignore the blurb on the box as the single player here is nigh unplayable.
Multiplayer puzzle high jinks that are Portal lite. You have seen these types of puzzles before. It looks well made so if you are looking for a puzzle games to play with friends this might be up your alley.
Ninja Gaiden II
Ninja Gaiden 2 is an interesting game as a walk down memory lane with the two review videos below will attest. By all accounts it was the last of a dying breed. The hardcore game. What neither reviewer could know is that in a scant few years Demon’s Souls and Super Meat Boy would revitalize the hard as nails game genre.
While comments on how Ninja Gaiden 2 was the last of a dying breed were universal so was complaints about a terrible camera, cheap deaths, no online play and systems that were old in 2008. With plenty of great hardcore games to play nowadays, I wonder whether modern players will overlook the same sins people were complaining about twelve years ago.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a big one this month a bit of a strange pick. Previous Kingdom hearts games have historically not been available on Xbox systems. Unlike Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts games are all related to each other and tell a story that everyone agrees is incomprehensible unless you have played all the games and are a superfan.
Does this matter? I don’t know. Kingdom Hearts 3 is colorful and takes place in a dozen or so well realised Disney worlds everything from Tangled and Frozen to Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Hero 6. It’s an action role-playing game with a pantless Donald Duck and honestly how could you not like that.
As Mystery Science Theater 3000 says
If you’re wondering how he eats & breathes,
And other science facts…(la! la! la!)
Then repeat to yourself it’s just a game,
I should really just relax..
Two Point Hospital
Two Point Hospital is getting superb reviews. It has a great sense of humor, a Wallace and Gromit art style, and a deep simulation gameplay. Honestly, it sounds perfect. Every level is a sandbox level perfect balance between accessibility and depth and more than one reviewer has called it the best game they have played so far this year. Add on the fact I love management sim games (even on console) and you have a winner.
Wasteland Remastered is not a remaster like Wasteland 2. It is actually the original game with a new coat of paint and a very few quality of life changes. Wasteland is a very, very old game. Now I played CRPGs in the late eighties (Bard’s Tale trilogy on the Commodore 64) and have great memories of them. That was thirty-five years ago however and if my time with Intellivision Lives! is any sign my memory definitely clouds over the actual experience.
Heck, I don’t even have to go back to the mid-eighties. Just play the original Tomb Raider from 1996. Both the graphics and gameplay seem almost alien today. (I remember thinking at the time it looked just like a movie.) And while I hated Tomb Raider: Anniversary for ruining the T-Rex fight with quick time events, I have no real interest in playing the original again. Some games are best kept as good memories.
Wasteland Remastered is an old school game with slightly better graphics. It doesn’t have the depth (or depravity) of a Fallout 2 to entice you to power through the issues. (In all fairness, Fallout 2 came out ten years later). It is one of those games where you assume that the reason your rolled character can’t shoot a gun is a game breaking bug when in reality you have an 8 dexterity and the rat has too high an armor rating. Yeah, that kind of game.
Yakuza 0 is the perfect starting point for the Yakuza series. In fact, the biggest problem with starting with Yakuza 0 is that some subsequent Yakuza games may seem less polished.
Is Yakuza basically just a Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto? Not perfectly (Yakuza stories all link to each other directly) but the sheer collection of polished side activities combined with the great sense of place makes it an overseas cousin if not a sibling.
While the city (1988 Tokyo) and side activities are the star of Yakuza, the fighting is a solid supporting player. You have many choices in brawling, but you will find a favorite and stick with it (I like the smash person with bicycle move). The boss fights (in more ways than one) can be surprisingly challenging; however, street mooks that seem to appear with alarming regularity are a relative breeze. It can be a pain however when you simply want to go to an event and there are groups of suited mooks looking to waste your time.
The story is interesting and has tons of drama. But let’s get real any game with a cabaret club management simulator, Sega arcade games, and full-fledged bowling will be worth playing. Come for the crime stay for the mini-games.
Jackbox Party Pack 3
Jackbox Party Pack 3 is a nice thing to have available if you have friends over for a party. Having it only one quick download on Xbox Game Pass seems nice. Outside of a party, however, there really isn’t a reason to download the game.