Hot Games of the Week Reviewed: January 26th

Gravity Rush Remastered

We’re well into year three of the PS4/Xbox One console generation, and the re-releases of last-gen games show no sign of slowing down. This week’s example is Gravity Rush Remastered, a PS4 remake of a 2012 Vita game. There are a couple other exciting new releases. We’ve also got the scavenging-based puzzler This War of Mine: The Little Ones and Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam. And Nintendo fanatics who can’t get enough of Skylanders: Superchargers can get their hands on some new Bowser and Donkey Kong figures.

Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush Remastered

(PS4, $30, Teen)

One of the best games on the all-but-forgotten Sony handheld gets an extra life on the PS4. The puzzle-action hybrid has you manipulating gravity to leap across bridges such as building facades, crumbling bridges and street surfaces to make it through levels. Playing as Kat, an amnesiac trying to make sense of the powers granted to her, to get a grip on her surroundings and prevent the world from being ripped apart. The developers buffed up the visuals tremendously, bringing the look up to par with most of Sony’s other PS4 games.

Gravity Rush was conceived with the Vita’s motion effects in mind, and those translate well to the PS4 controller, aided by the sticks, which helps with fine-tuning. Playing the game puts you in a sort of hypnotic flow matched by few other experiences, in which you’re twisting your arms and perspective at the same time until they line up. The design hasn’t changed from the Vita version, with levels segmented into brief snippets meant for on-the-go play, and the price is high for a port of a four-year-old title. Drawbacks like that make it a tough sell, but the fun the game provides justifies the cost.

Order Gravity Rush Remastered here.


 

Paper Jam

Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam

(3DS, $40, Everyone)

Of the countless Mario spinoffs, the Mario and Luigi series is among the most consistent. Every time out, you know you’ll get a witty, long pseudo-RPG, with compelling turn-based combat that integrates timed button presses into the action. You know you’re in for a light, breezy challenge free of irritating backtracking or grinding. Paper Jam delivers all the goods expected, and disappoints only in that it doesn’t go an extra step further to provide more than what past games in the series have made you come to expect. Fun with clones is the theme this time around. Multiple copies of several characters in the Marioverse make appearances, leading to all kinds of awkwardness. Megalomaniacal Bowser finds his biggest rival — and admirer — in his alternate self, and Princess Peach feels less special when there’s another version of her hopping about.

The writers, as usual, have a good time playing off the concept of the characters being walking, talking two-dimensional objects with the heft and consistency of paper. You can team up for attacks, which start as simply as traditional head-hopping and stretch to supernatural endeavors such as summoning meteor showers. You can augment your attacks with Battle Cards, some of which are unlockable with Amiibo figures. The linear nature of the story puts it more in line with a platformer than an RPG, but that’s par for the Mario and Luigi course.

Order Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam here.


 

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Skylanders Superchargers Nintendo Figures

(Wii U, 3DS, Wii, $25)

Bowser, Donkey Kong and their accompanying vehicles roll in to Skylanders Superchargers several months after release. Both are rendered in exquisite, borderline intimidating detail, making them far more striking than Nintendo’s own Amiibo characters. Sweetening the deal, the characters are among the most powerful the game has to offer. Teeth-baring Donkey Kong tosses barrels at enemies and Bowser pounds  them with a spiked mallet.

The Nintendo-specific figures work only in the Wii U, Wii and 3Ds versions of the game. Donkey Kong rides in his tanklike Barrel Blaster vehicle, while Bowser comes with the glider-shaped Clown Cruiser. Previously the figures only came with starter packs, but now they are available on their own to collect and/or use in the game. The characters also double as Amiibos, registering as Smash Bros. characters.

Order the Skylanders Nintendo figures here.


The Little Ones

This War of Mine: The Little Ones

(Xbox One, PS4, $30, Mature)

A bizarre indie that has been raking in awards since debuting on PC in 2014, This War of Mine gets a console release. Unlike most war games, it’s not on you to grab a gun and unleash holy hell on your enemies. The main goal here is to struggle and do just enough to survive. Moving around a single-screen, 2D plane, you scamper around abandoned buildings, busting through crumbling walls to scavenge resources from cupboards, tables and corpses. Juggling several party members, you forge relationships, share food and supplies and risk your neck to make life palatable for newfound friends.

As grisly and dark an experience as you’re likely to find in gaming, The Little Ones forces you to struggle through harsh choices, making difficult sacrifices. At times you’ll be forced to decide who lives, dies or starves. What time you don’t spend collecting and crafting items you spend working with others and, often, deciding their fates without them realizing.The game is broken up into days and nights, opening up and closing off opportunities to forage, while also exposing different dangers. Randomized levels and items make each playthrough staggeringly different — that is, if you have the stomach to keep coming back for more of the brutality the game serves up. If you are up for an experience that taxes your brain and heart, This War of Mine: The Little Ones is worth your time and attention.

Order This War of Mine: The Little Ones here.

Did Michael Jackson Write The Sonic 3 Soundtrack? Yes. Probably.
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