Video Game Reviews – March 2012

Will somebody think of the children?!

Final Fantasy XIII-2
Square Enix
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also on: Xbox 360
Street: 01.31
I’ve never liked sequels. Or, maybe a better way to say it would be, ‘I appreciate when a story knows when to end.’ That’s something that the Final Fantasy series has gotten right for the most part—almost every one of their games takes place in a different universe. Unfortunately, the universes seem to be losing more and more physics as they go on. But, whatever, I guess flying people with transforming cars is the new thing. This game starts three years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII, and there are some returning characters from the previous game, but mostly you’re playing the previous main character’s less interesting sister, Serah, and Noel, an eighteen-year-old from the future. As this is a direct sequel to FF-XIII, I expected the gameplay to be pretty similar to its predecessor, but it was a tainted, bastardized copy. At every turn, this game was vandalizing the few good thoughts I had of the first game, ruining precious memories like a pernicious uncle, proclaiming to the world there has never been a Santa Claus. This game offers hundreds of different ways to optimize battles, a diverse job level system, plenty of equipment, upgrades, and you can collect every monster in the game and use them as a third party member––but none of these things matter. You can beat every battle in the game without strategy, by simply pressing the same button over and over (this was on the harder setting, by the way). Don’t get me wrong, XIII-2 makes continually pressing the same button for hours very entertaining, but so does Lego Star Wars—it’s not why I play RPGs. What I’m trying to say is that this game felt like really bad masturbation—and I would know. –Jason Young

Intelligent Systems/ Nintendo
Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS
Street: 12.08.11
There is no reason for a $6.99 downloadable title to bring as much joy as Pushmo does. Nintendo and Intelligent Designs’ stroke of genius knocked this one out of the park. My life has been consumed with pulling tessellated pieces out in layers to create colorful staircases to frightened children, and surfing the Internet looking for QR codes to build up my block-shuffling prowess. Over one hundred puzzles later, I’m still enthralled in Pushmo’s joyous and colorful world. You’d think a short, block-pushing character named Mallo and his Mario-esque universe wouldn’t captivate a large, bearded individual such as myself, and normally I’d agree, but, in this case, you would be wrong. The challenges in depth perception and mental fortitude provided by Papa Blox range from tennis shoes to dinosaurs and anything in between. The giddy and bubbly soundtrack does a great job keeping you on task without detracting from work laid before you. The simplistic control scheme lets you drive with the D-pad or analog stick, grab blocks with B and jump with A. Utilizing your simple tools, the task is to pull your blocks out no farther than three spaces and build a staircase to the top where a frightened child is awaiting rescue. Stuck on a puzzle? Have no fear! You can simply skip to the next level to give another challenge the old college try. Be warned, though: They tally how many kids you’ve saved after each world. It’s hard to do this fun game justice. Rob a bank, donate plasma or input your debit card info into Nintendo’s eShop, and enjoy this beautiful title. –Thomas Winkley