Heads up, a list is approaching! While it may be the bane of more professional writers, I figured a list detailing my favourite handheld games might help you and I get closer. Consider it some first date ice breaking, us learning a little more about each other.
Today I’ll cover #10-6, with #5-1 popping up tomorrow.
My reasoning behind doing this list now is that I think there’s going to be some big shakeups in the coming months (Link Between Worlds, Pokemon X/Y, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, Treasurenauts, etc.), and I want to make sure the titles that may get bumped get their due.
10. Guacamelee (DrinkBox Studios, Vita)
Despite how frequently the genre is name dropped, crafting a Metroid-styled game isn’t easy. It is an easy way to get people interested in your work, but more often than not the game does nothing more than gate off portions of a stage.
Guacamelee gets it right, managing to understand what it is that makes the Metroid series so unique. The folks at DrinkBox Studios crafted a world that begs to be explored, and in that lies the secret. You are naturally scoping out every nook, investigating the crannies in between.
Blended together with humour and a terrific aesthetic, Guacamelee is a game that doesn’t bait you with comparisons Metroid, but instead lives up to those expectations and carves out its own identity.
9. Stealth Inc. (Curve Studios, Vita)
‘Indie Puzzle Platformer’ has become a bit of a joke over the past few years, becoming a genre unto itself. While that train has certainly slowed down (likely due to a flood of titles missing the mark), the stench remains. Happily, as independent and puzzle-y a platformer Stealth Inc. is, it manages to escape up turned up noses, impressing with mechanics that constantly evolve, a simple interface, and hilarious writing. The fact that its puzzles don’t have any sort of fail state is genius, and makes the game even better. Check out my interview with the developer if you need further convincing.
8. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (Level 5/Millennium Kitchen, 3DS)
I’m a mega sucker for stories with heart. It’s certainly a vague descriptor, one that is impossible to concretely define. However, ‘heart’ is the best way to describe Attack of the Friday Monsters!, as it tells the story of a young boy in a new town. If you can’t relate to a tale of displacement, you’re pretty lucky, but I’ve struggled with a big move once before. It felt good to relieve those feelings, playing the role of a child far more outspoken than I ever was. Things only become more fantastical as the story continues, obviously separating itself from any real life events I went through, but it still resonated with me. It’s more game-y aspects took away from the narrative, but it was nothing too damaging. Simply put, it’s a nice game.
7. Soul Sacrifice (Comcept, Vita)
While some may dismiss it as a Monster Hunter Clone, I really feel this game is perfect for anyone put off by that series. It’s fast, dark, and provides a more immediate feeling of satisfaction.
While I’m not a fan of its tone and aesthetics, the action beneath it all is what compels me. Soul Sacrifice is incredibly fast, and the damage you shell out feels perfect. As difficult as it can be, you’re given so much feedback that you’re always happy with your performance. And with its ongoing stream of feel DLC, I keep coming back.
6. Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo, 3DS)
I really didn’t expect to give a damn about Fire Emblem: Awakening. At one point, I damned it as one of Nintendo’s least interesting franchises. It’s not its SRPG trappings either, I’ve rather enjoyed titles like Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor and Advance Wars. It’s the fantasy, the high fantasy. It’s just never spoke to me, prompting me to skip over this Lord of the Rings so many enjoyed.
But how wrong I was. Not sure you’ll remember, but a weird snafu caused some Canadian retailers to sell the game nearly a week early. What you also may not now is that I’m a weak, weak man.
I’ll give credit to 8-4 Ltd. and their terrific localization for making this type of fiction bearable. While wizards and dragons aren’t my cup of tea, those that don’t take them too seriously certainly have my attention.