Video Game Reviews

Bravely Default
Square Enix/Nintendo of America
Reviewed on: 3DS (Exclusive)
Street: 02.07

Bravely Default brought back some memories of playing that first Final Fantasy game for me—except I wasn’t frustrated from not being able to find the next town. Bravely Default is almost idiot-proof in that regard, by leading you around the world with exclamation points. You can still explore at your leisure; the towns look like you’re wandering through a painting—it’s a really beautiful visual. JRPGs always come with character stereotypes, and there’s always a womanizer in the bunch. Sometimes they’re charming and actually get a laugh—not here. I was thoroughly annoyed by the one in my party—Ringabel—and especially hated the stupid old man who showed up. The battle system is turn-based with a bit of a twist. You can choose “Brave” and attack multiple times and then rest for a few turns, or you can choose “default,” where you’ll take less damage and save up for those brave attacks. It’s literally the name of the game here, and it’s the core of your strategy throughout. It’s a great new take on the old combat system—making this a fresh, fun Final Fantasy look-alike. –Ashley Lippert

Crimson Dragon
Grounding Inc/ Microsoft Studios
Reviewed on: Xbox One (Exclusive)
Street: 11.22.13

Lost amongst the major releases on that late November weekend that the Xbox One came out was this gem of a Rail Shooter (think the Star Fox games)—a spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon games. The game places you in the shoes of a rookie dragon pilot who is thrust into a fight for the survival of humanity. Crimson Dragon is simple but enjoyable, all while having a decent levelling system and an almost overwhelming amount of upgrades available. This is one that you can just kick back on the couch with for an hour or two, without having to pay much attention. The controls can be frustrating sometimes, and the missions will feel repetitive if you play too long, but overall this little arcade title (priced at 20 bucks at the time of me writing this) was a lot more fun than I was expecting. —Blake Leszczynski

Disco Zoo
Milkbag Games/ Nimblebit
Reviewed on: iPhone – Also on: Android
Street: 02.27

“Tiny Animals, Big Fun” is the tagline for this game, but unfortunately, it’s not entirely true. The object is to fill your zoo with all sorts of animals—including unicorns, gryphons and phoenixes—but those animals only make you money when they’re awake. They try to put a little shine on this mechanic by giving you the option to have a disco party to wake up your animals for a certain amount of time. It doesn’t help the game, and it looks like they gave the animals crack through the tiny 8-bit animals jumping around on the screen actually did make me smile. The other main mechanic is the rescuing of animals (you start with a 25 block grid and you get ten tries to find the animal in the grid). Each animal has a distinct pattern that makes it a bit of a bore after a while. The amount it costs to go out on the expeditions increases every time you go out, and once you run out of money, there isn’t anything else to do. Once you set it down, you’re likely to forget to pick it back up unless you’re a fan of collecting animals. —Ashley Lippert