I am particularly proud of my horrible puntastic editorial title this week, fellow LusiButts. I hope everybody is groaning just as loud as I am giggling. Onward!
Mario Kart 8
While I do not have it at the moment, I got to play this over the (Canadian) long weekend, and despite having constant plans, my girlfriend and I still managed to play the crap out of it. Where do I start? I suppose ultimately, Mario Kart 8 is – while far from being the savior of Mario Kart – the playable, non-broken version of Mario Kart 7. The racing feels far more similar to the 3DS failure than any other entry, but that is not a bad thing because the racing was the best part of 7 when it was not being sabotaged. Gone in Mario Kart 8 – like 7 – is the option to choose automatic or manual racing, forcing players to master drifting. And the coins to boost max speed also make a return which I am also a fan of. It is also nice to see the classic tracks have more significant updates to them, making the fact that only half the tracks are new a bit easier to swallow.
At first, the racing seems more stripped down, there is no more wheelie for the motorcycle, and racers can no longer store a backup item while holding a defensive item behind them. While this seems superficially like nothing but steps backwards – and it will definitely take some getting used to for veterans – it starts to make sense slowly as it all fits into Mario Kart 8’s sense of balance, a sense that favours smart, skilled racing.
Of course, this leads to the obvious question of item balance. It is still a major point of frustration in Grand Prix mode – which can now be thankfully played multiplayer – although it admittedly is not the broken mess that 7 was. This is due to a few factors: First, the blue shell returns to a form most similar to Mario Kart 64 in which more than just the leader can be affected by its terrible invincibility. Oh, also it is no longer entirely invincible. The new horn item – transparently borrowed from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – can blast away players and any incoming item, including the blue shell. It is possible to receive the item while in first place, but it is not super-common. However, there is one balance change that I consider to be, by far, the most welcome. Excepting the relatively rare lightning bolt, precious little can make a racer lose his item, including falling off course. Get hit with a red shell? Boy that sucks, but at least the chance to rise back up the ranks is easier with that trusty mushroom boost still safe in the arsenal. In fact, this boon took so long to get used to that for most of my races, I would release my item by mistake because I had assumed that I had already lost it.
After unlearning my habits from the older games, the game became immensely satisfying, and while being in the middle of the pack and getting hit with three items in a row is still a thing, in 150cc at least, catching up is a common skill-based possibility. Plus, playing in Versus Mode allows for some Mario Kart Wii-esque item options.
Other than that, it is a grab bag of impressions for me. The new track design is largely excellent and focused on driving lines, the game visually looks fantastic, the soundtrack is horrible, Rosalina sounds like Peach now, different kart and bike parts are fun to get familiar with but are a nightmare to select, and the replays are more fun than I expected. Also I have not tried the online yet. Finally, when I go to Michigan in June, I will let everybody know the results of the ultimate showdown between Lusipurr and me.
Mass Effect 3
I beat it again, but I do not want to talk much more about it. I actually do not mind the intention of the ending, but the series certainly did not earn it. The first one – in spite of all its glitchiness – is easily the best.
This game is great! I am not surprised, but it was not until it was made free for PlayStation Plus members that I tried it out. It was always on my list but I have to admit that free made it shoot to the top. The visual style is excellent and well-executed and the writing is done in a style that could have greatly benefited Child of Light. I am only on Act 2, but if the game lives up to its potential, expect me to be talking about it much more in the future.
I forget exactly when the conversation came up, but I was talking about Suikoden with the readers in the comments and it reminded me of Tierkreis. Now, I am a Suikoden newbie and I am well aware that fans of the series do not count it as a worthy entry and I do not have the authority to disagree, but as a standalone RPG, I actually like it quite a bit. It feels expansive and well-paced and while the encounter rate is way too high and the battle system way too easy, it is hitting the spot as an RPG that I do not have to think too hard about. I will not be singing its praises, but it is the only game I have felt like playing the past few days.
Wow, I did not even talk about Transistor! But I do not feel like I have played enough of it yet anyway. It has been a packed fortnight for gaming and it does not look to be letting up. E3 approaches, I have a media-exclusive Mario Kart 8 tournament approaching, and I have WATCH_DOGS to not give a shit about. Let us talk in the comments below of these things and more, dear reader!