Cognition: An Erica Reed Story Episode 2: The Wise Monkey, the second in Phoenix Online Studios new adventure game series, improves upon the previous episode in nearly every way. Erica’s new case and the related mysteries make this go around extremely personal for our Psion detective. With a new psychic ability in Erica’s arsenal and great storytelling, the $9.99 The Wise Monkey is one to pick up.
Anarchy Reigns is a modern brawler that could be considered the spiritual successor to Capcom’s Power Stone. Platinum’s title drops 16 default characters (17 if you pre-ordered at Gamestop in order to get the Bayonetta DLC) in a post-apocalyptic warzone where they duke it out on multi-tiered levels; levels that contain poles, cars, barrels, guns, and other weapons that you can use to obliterate enemy combatants.
Have you ever become so immersed in an episode of CSI or Law & Order that you’ve fantasized about being in the detectives’ shoes? Well, stop here and buy the $9.99 Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode One. The point-and-click adventure-mystery game puts you in the shoes of the Boston FBI’s very own Erica Reed who’s tasked, along with her hacky doughnut-eating partner John, with tracking down a potential serial killer. But what sets this redhead Boston native apart from the other detectives is her ability to tap into a psychic ability she’s had for as long as she can remember. Her powers are not as childish as Matilda or as heinous as Carrie, however. Erica can sense certain objects and visualize their previous movements; an ability that grows stronger and evolves as the game progresses.
Of all the lofty ambitions possessed by game developers, trying to make a game that appeals to multiple age groups must be one of the toughest. Such a game has to capture the elusive “Mario” quality of being imminently accessible without being dumbed down – challenging, engaging, and meaningful for children and adults alike. It’s an incredibly precarious balancing act for any developer to attempt, much less one trying to make a puzzle game about vocabulary.
Yet when it comes to the Scribblenauts franchise, developer 5th Cell is clearly onto something. The series, now in its fourth installment, has gone from a famously problematic DS game to a major multi-platform release. True to its promise of family-wide appeal, Scribblenauts Unlimited has now found a home on the one platform most families own: the personal computer.
Persona 4 Golden for PS Vita raises the bar for re-releases and remakes so high it’s almost unfair. Atlus could have slapped this JRPG from 2008 on the Vita without new quests, characters or online features and called it a day. But this developer remade Persona 3 from the ground-up to fit on the PSP, so it knows its way around an update. This update, full passion, charm and intricate gameplay, also happens to stand above the rest of the Vita’s library as the best game available for the handheld thus far.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves (ported to the U.S. Dreamcast as Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves) is more than a decade old, but it remains one of the games I fire up to new-school doubters to prove the viability of 2D, sprite-based fighter. It’s an amazingly beautiful game with large, bright sprites, and sparkly special attacks that are animated with old school SNK’s loving care. But Garou: Mark of the Wolves isn’t mere eye-candy; it’s a deep, technical game that will keep fight fans returning for “just one more match.” It’s easily one of the best 2D fighting games ever crafted.
SNK Playmore’s The King of Fighters XIII is an apology letter to every fight fan that felt that sinking feeling shortly after booting up The King of Fighters XII. The Atlus-published 2D fighter remedies nearly every problem that plagued its predecessor; the roster now packs 33 combatants (two of which, Bily Kane and Saiki, are unlockable), more stages, more music tracks, and best of all, vastly improved netcode that lets you mix it up online with a bare minimum of hiccups. Simply stated, King of Fighters XIII returns the long-running series to the heights of quality that is its legacy.
Mark of the Ninja follows a modern-day ninja, whose clan is at war with a wealthy and powerful mercenary leader. Our nameless protagonist has inherited a powerful tattoo that grants him great strength at the cost of his sanity. Commanded by the clan head to infiltrate and destroy their enemy as his final mission, he is expected to kill himself when his mind is lost. This sets the stage for the events of the game.
The Shinobi titles that came before Shinobi III mattered little to me. Not due to a lack of quality, but because Shinobi III is such a departure from the series in every way imaginable. The first game was slow paced and extremely limited due to the clunky controls–something that was acceptable in the late ’80s, doesn’t hold up in the present day. Shinobi II’s Game Gear release did little to entice gamers with its dull graphics and terrible level design. Yet the instant you begin Shinobi III, Sega’s previous sins are quickly forgiven.
When I first learned that there would be a Halo 4, disbelief, shock, and other negative emotions came over me. Halo 3, Master Chief”s final hurrah, ended the trilogy. A new game sounded very much like a franchine being milked dry. To add to the figurative gut kick, I learned that Bungie would not return to helm the project. Instead 343 industries would take charge of the series.
I can safely say I over reacted. Halo 4 is masterpiece.