Friday, October 31, 2014

Five Nights At Freddy's is Overrated

It's Halloween, which means it's time for the obligatory horror game review. Tonight's game is Five Nights at Freddy's, the latest indie sensation to wet the pants of YouTube "let's players" proclaiming it to be the scariest game they've ever played. Hold it there, chief, you're telling me a game about friendly animatronic animals at a children's pizzeria/playground/arcade is supposed to be scary? What's that? They come to life and roam the building's halls at night attempting to murder anyone they find so they can stuff the human remains into an empty animatronic suit? Well, that's a start, I guess.

In Five Nights at Freddy's, you play a security guard tasked with spending the night at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza to keep an eye on the robotic band members, who're set to "free roam mode" every night because they (supposedly) need the exercise to keep their servos from locking up. Except, really, they're trying to murder you. You have to survive six hours each night (roughly eight minutes in real time) by flipping through camera feeds to keep track of where each animatronic character is so that you can close the doors to your office when they get close. What's stopping you from keeping the doors closed all night, I hear you ask -- a limited power supply. Using the cameras, turning the lights on, and locking the doors all consume power.

Therein lies the game -- a simple matter of clicking through camera feeds, watching the screen, and closing a door at the right moment without using too much power -- but can such a simple game succeed at eliciting genuine horror, or are the masses simply overreacting? The answer is a little bit of both, but more of one than the other. How much you'll be scared by Five Nights at Freddy's depends heavily on how much of a wuss you are, and on how much you can suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in the security office's confines.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Impressions of Super Smash Bros 3DS

The Super Smash Bros series has been a longtime staple in my party gaming lineup, ever since the original was released for the Nintendo 64 back in 1999. Super Smash Bros: Melee was the one reason I absolutely had to buy a Nintendo GameCube; my friends and I enjoyed that game so much that we played it nearly every weekend over the span of three years. When Super Smash Bros: Brawl came out in 2008, I found myself underwhelmed by its slow movement and clunky physics, yet friends and I have continued to play it on occasion to this very day.

By now, my enthusiasm for new Super Smash Bros games has waned to near non-existence, since each new game has been the same as the last but with more characters, new stages, and new tacked-on game modes. After 15 years of playing essentially the same game, it feels like I've been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt, but I simply could not resist the allure of the appropriately-yet-unimaginatively-named Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS. After all, it's a timeless formula that I can now play when I'm away from home, on a platform I already own. What's not to enjoy about that combination of features?

I've had my copy of Smash 3DS for a couple weeks now, having unlocked all of the characters and stages and having tried each and every game mode, and I feel pretty confident in saying I like Smash 3DS a lot more than Brawl, and perhaps almost as much as Melee. It feels faster and more responsive than Brawl, and the controls feel right at home on the 3DS. The new characters are all really fun to play, and the plethora of unlockable content is enough to ensure a long lifetime of playability. And yet, after about nine hours of playtime, I've basically lost interest.