Video Game Reviews – January 2012

Creeper at 9 O’Clock!!!

Dance Central 2
Reviewed on: Xbox 360 (exclusive)
Street: 10.25.11
In the same way the Rock Band franchise has given gamers the courage to hit up karaoke bars and belt Radiohead’s “Creep” without fear since they received a perfect score at home, Harmonix’s choreographed sensation offers sunlight-deprived basement dwellers the bravery to bust out moves like the “Secret Agent,” the “Beach Party” and the “Talk to the Hand” whenever Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” or Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” blasts in clubs. They say that sequels are never as good as the original, but such is not the case when it comes to the follow-up to last year’s shuffling showcase. With the new ability to simultaneously dance with your friends side-by-side in multiplayer mode and a new soundtrack of over 40 songs, the game opens the doors for an elevated experience of be-boppin’ and scattin’, and an even greater risk of crushing your companion’s phalanges! –Jimmy Martin

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Reviewed on: Nintendo Wii
Street: 11.20.11
Skyward Sword is the latest main-console release in the Legend of Zelda series, and is the sixteenth installment in the franchise. Every article I’ve read about this game seems to focus on the motion controls, as if they make the game, but they’re missing the point. I will say this about Skyward Sword’s controls, however: unless you are really lazy, they are really good. I was a little disappointed by the game’s graphics and art. I didn’t expect much, but it seems like they just blended the styles from previous installments into something generic. This isn’t a bad analogy for the entire game—it stuck to the formula. I don’t think that it has the best dungeons, the best characters, or the best items, but more importantly, it doesn’t mess any of these things up. Skyward Sword was hyper-aware of its roots; it recognized what didn’t work in previous games, and it ironed out all of those wrinkles, making this game the most approachable in the entire series—which is one of the best compliments I can give to a video game. Rarely do I find myself replaying Zelda games. Usually I get through them once, I feel pretty good about it, and then I don’t think about them again for a year or two. With Skyward Sword I finished and jumped right back into playing. It gives you everything you could ask for: rescuing Zelda, searching for the Triforce, by far the coolest boss battle in the series, tons of side-quests and mini-games, and a Hero Mode, which is kind of like the Master Quests of old, but rather than making the dungeon’s puzzles more difficult, they make the enemies do more damage. So while Skyward Sword might have seemed a little generic, it boiled the Zelda formula down to its essence. More than any of the other games, this one is the heart of the series. –Jason Young