Welcome to The Geekend, where the staff at The G.A.M.E.S. Blog comes together once a week to share the games, anime, and manga we’re into right now. Read on to for recommendations, and share your own favorites in the comments!
Jimmy Stephenson — Staff Writer
This week, I played through the indie title Papo & Yo. For those unfamiliar with it, the game is a puzzle platformer that takes places in a Brazilian shanty town. Players control Quico, a young boy who escapes from his alcohol-abusing father and finds himself in this strange, magical world. This game is absolutely beautiful, with stacks of buildings and graffiti that shift and change as the players interact with the world. The exotic and unusual nature of the setting just heightens the sense of wonder. The music is also fantastic: a mix of pan flutes and guitars that is both playful and solemn. The real star of this game, though, is the theme. Vander Caballero, the man who wrote the story, based the game on his experiences with an abusive, alcoholic father. The ways that he brings these memories into the game are extremely effective and moving. For anyone who is looking for a unique setting and a emotional story, I would definitely recommend Papo & Yo. On the animated front, I watched two movies through Netflix recently. The first was 5 Centimeters Per Second, which focuses on the relationship between two high school students as one is forced to move away. The visuals in the movie are absolutely stunning; several night-time sky shots are particularly impressive. The English voicework was also surprisingly competent and doesn’t get in the way of the movie at all. I must say, though, that the story is extremely sad. To explain how would be spoiling, so just be ready for some feels with this one. The other movie was Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a CG film that gives backstory for one of the characters in the upcoming Dragon Age Inquisition. To be honest, I have less praise for this one. The movie uses a CG style, and while the animation is fluid, I found a lot of the characters and settings to be bland and boring. The voice acting isn’t much better, as characters range from passable to obnoxious. This isn’t really helped by the writing, which is surprisingly dumb for such an established franchise. Unless you’re a big fan of the series, I would say skip this one.
Michael Riel — Staff Writer
I’m going to start off by saying I’m still playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn religiously. I’ve been stuck on a certain Primal (Boss), Titan, for about a week now, and no party I’ve been a part of had been able to defeat him. We got close one time but then people started screwing up and we all ended up dead. Now on February 11th, Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII will finally hit stores, and I’m going to be getting my copy; I even took a day off of my day job to get it. This week, Square Enix released a demo for it. I played that demo, and, well, I have mixed feelings. The battle system worked well, and you can change and customize your different forms as Lightning, but I’m still unsure of how the time system is going to work in the long run. Just from the demo, you can see old characters who are making a return, and I can’t wait to see who else is going to be there. Also, this week I bought the newly released PS3 version of Minecraft. With Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy XIII, and now Minecraft to play, I don’t think I’m going to have much of a social life (not that I ever did).
Dan Furnas — Editor-in-Chief
I actually didn’t do much video gaming this week. Instead, I’ve been spending some time on tabletop games instead. This past weekend was a local comic convention where I tried my hand at a Munchkin tournament with little luck, as there was a logjam of several of us all at level 9. Jimmy also brought along a new (to us) game called The Resistance, which was really fun. The game is in the vein of Mafia (but simpler), where there are two sides working against each other. The Resistance (the good guys, as it were) must figure out who the spies are before they can sabotage too many missions. Of course, the difficulty of the game depends on the group, as some people are just better liars than others. I’ve also been looking at getting back into Magic: the Gathering, so I started building a standard deck, but I haven’t gotten to try it out yet. I’m looking forward to the new Born of the Gods set; the spoiler cards are really interesting!
Jennifer Griffith — Managing Editor
I’ve been working my way through a visual novel called Shikkoku no Sharnoth for a while, and I finally finished it this week. It takes place in a steampunk version of Victorian London, so it gets automatic bonus points there. Sharnoth follows a girl named Mary Clarissa Christie, who helps a mysterious man destroy monsters in another world in hopes that it will wake her friend from a coma. I love the art in this game, and the plot is actually really interesting, with tons of characters that reference both history and literature. The story moves forward too slowly, however, and so I don’t recommend it for the impatient. Otherwise, I did put some more time into Guild Wars 2 for the first time in a while, since there’s a big world event happening. The event centers around stopping giant steam-powered puppet (which looks like a naked woman in high heels) from destroying the world. None of the groups I’ve fought it with managed to win, which is annoying, and I’m not sure how many tries I have left in me. On the manga side of things, I recently read a great two-volume spinoff from Madoka Magica, called Puella Magi Oriko Magica. Honestly, describing much of anything about it would be spoilers for both this story and the original, so I’ll just say that if you liked Madoka, you’ll find Oriko to be a sidestory worthy of the series proper.