From when Plucky, Axel, and I first arrived on this island escorted by the Nooklings, and Tom Nook outlined his plans to turn this into a habitable paradise, I admit to thinking that things would be slow going. That it would just be the three of us and the Nooks for quite some time.
I’m happy to be proven wrong, and development of this island is really starting to show. A museum has come to the island, as has a tailor shop, with the Nooklings also opening up their own store. Even the Resident Services tent has now become a building, where the speakers play some relaxing and energetic music every hour that changes depending on the time.
More villagers have come to stay, and our goal of making Halesowen a popular tourist destination – and popular place to live – is soon to be reaching its final stages. These ten days have been a wild and exciting journey of new developments and meeting new people, and I guess the story continues from where I left off with the new arrivals.
From the first day this experience was teased, I knew I wanted to go. That September, where we got another contender within the Super Smash Bros. fighting league, was one of the happiest. I knew I would lose myself whatever happened. I dreamt of what the experience could be, and knew that when it was finally revealed in full I wouldn’t be able to hold my excitement in check.
Then the Island Getaway Package was unveiled at the largest gaming event of the world, and I was beyond happy with what I was seeing. We might not have seen much, but the island felt larger than any previous town – despite their being very little within it.
Over the months since that reveal, more has been revealed about the overall Package that has proven the people building it have been focused upon an evolution of the place we’ll be going, with plenty to keep anyone occupied.
Now, with the date having come and gone, I’ve been here a few days and can say exactly what I think of this new experience. And it started before I even got on the sea plane to head to the island.
When Mario Kart 8 first launched in 2014 on the Wii U, the battle mode within it was considered… not the best. It chose to stick with standard Balloon Battle rules, but replaced arenas for the racetracks to give a mode that was just confused in what it attempted.
Racers were scattered across the track, with the ability to do quick turns and drive the other way. Because of this, only certain few tracks were allowed to be within this mode, but such starting positions and rules didn’t give the mode a real reason for existing. There was no lasting appeal. It felt too bland in action.
However, there was a simple way to have fixed that, and such a thing was to treat it as a race but with special rules. Everyone starts at the line, beginning at the same time. Each has three balloons, that they need to protect as they race to complete the three laps. However, you can’t just stay at the back out of the action, as the aim is still to win the race.
Back during the build-up for the original release of LEGO Harry Potter, I was massively excited for it. I’d already played and enjoyed Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and the trailers for Harry Potter were doing their job in getting me excited for it. When I played it, there was a certain magic to it – and I’m not just saying that because of the setting of the series.
There was a lot to love with it, and once Years 5-7 released a year later, both The Clone Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean had released, both of which I’d also enjoyed. But that did lessen the enjoyment of the second Harry Potter game – despite there being several new elements to it.
It wasn’t the fact I was getting burnt out from LEGO games, but that playing the other two between the two of Harry Potter raised a highlight of the games I hadn’t much recognised while playing the first. And this is the thing I call the Harry Potter syndrome.
When it comes to mystery dungeon games, there’s only been one series that I’ve ever looked at, and that was back during the third generation of Pokémon. With Red Rescue Team on the GBA, I played through the story, enjoying a different take on the mechanics for the franchise. It might have been the usual turn-based affair, but this time positioning was critical for battles.
I played it through to the end, with the interactions between characters and the ever-unravelling mystery of why you got turned into a Pokémon and the natural disasters that were ripping through the world keeping me with it. It might have been standard RPG fare, but the writing was good enough for it to not matter.
When new games in the series released, I wasn’t much interested, with the only other being Gates to Infinity – which only saw around 14 hours of play when I bought it in 2015. So with the remake of the original announced in January, would it manage to hold me enough to keep me going until the end?
After a stunning first year and an enjoyable second for the Nintendo Switch, it was entirely possible the third wouldn’t live up to the greats the previous two gave.
In fact, it is looking like this third year will be the one that pales the most when stacked against even the fourth year and the major bombshell that will be opening it within the month of March (and the smaller but no less important one), despite the fact I bought more in this year than the previous two.
There were games that I was looking forward to in this year, and a few of them did deliver. Better yet were a few surprises coming from some of the indie games I’d bought.
But with the highs also come the lows, with a few games I had been hoping to be great experiences instead being somewhat forgettable. Were there enough great experiences to match those of previous years, though?
That information drive about Animal Crossing New Horizons was everything I could have hoped for and more. We’ve got a lot more information than we had previously, some interesting new additions, and some quality of life improvements.
The Direct started out with a look around the island in all four seasons, and you’d be forgiven for thinking there wasn’t much coming out of this. However, it did reveal we can place where our villagers live at the start, which led the way to placing where all villagers will live.
It seemed like a build up of freedom in customisability, with that leading to custom designs able to be used on furniture, the path creation tool we already knew of, and then the reveal that we can alter the entire look of the town.
With the recent news that Criterion are back onto Need For Speed, I’m hyped. The team might have seen some change since Burnout Paradise, but they are a great studio. That concept they had for the extreme sports game never got off the ground, but there was promise within it.
And you’ll note that I said back to Need For Speed. Once finished with Burnout Paradise, the Criterion team were put onto EA’s other long-standing racing series to make Hot Pursuit. After the success of that game, they followed up with my personal favourite of the series in Most Wanted .
While they did help with Rivals, their time on the series looked as though it was done, with Ghost Games [now EA Gothenburg] being the main developer of Rivals and taking on the series since that time.
Last month I offered up some ideas for games within the Pokémon franchise, with the three fitting roughly into the labels of main game, side game, and spin-off. This month I am doing the same for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
Now, it would be easy to say for a main game Adventure 3 – specifically Chao Theory (that old concept of mine from back in 2013), but I’m not. What I want to see from a main series game these days is something that Lost World failed to execute beyond basic implementation.
In the last few years I’ve started to branch out some more with games, rather than sticking with the few series that I know. Most of that has been with the Switch, but I have been hunting for things in other places, too.
Steam would be a good place to go, with sales and cheaper prices overall than what you’d find on a console store, and it was something of a surprise when I pretty much stumbled upon one of the two I’ll be talking about here right away.
The other one I had seen before and had got interest in, but had fallen off my radar pretty quickly. The day after buying that first game, however, I found it again.