Those who read my "Rekindling the Videogame Flame" article may recall that I am sort of conducting an experiment regarding my game playing. I've placed one game in each of my main consoles and am committed to leaving it in their until I complete the game. Well, it's working. And not only am I starting to actually complete some of the games that have resided on my bookshelf for lengthy periods of time, but I'm actually having a lot of fun too. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that I'm having more fun as a gamer now than I have in quite a long time. Here's some thoughts on the games I've recently completed.
Trace Memory - Nintendo DS
This is an adventure game that actually has a pretty interesting story that kept me interested all the way to the end. I've described the gameplay to others as "Myst for kids" and for sure much of the game is relatively sanitized and simplistic in that Nintendo way we're all so familiar with. But, for sure, there are also a couple of tricky puzzles in the game that make use of the handheld's dual screens and clamshell design in the most innovative way I've seen. If the game has a critical flaw, however, it's the length. The game only takes 5 to 6 hours to complete and although it's definitely worth playing if you happen to own the system, it's hard to recommend at full price because you'll be unlikely to play through it twice.
Ratchet & Clank - PS2
I finally got around to playing the original Ratchet & Clank and have to say that I can't wait to play the sequels. I just need a little time to cleanse my mind of the final boss fight. This is an action-platformer that features a lot of fun, inventive weaponry that is not only a blast to use (pun intended), but many put a smile on my face too. There are a wealth of planets to explore, and each of them pretty sizeable. The game takes about 15 hours to complete and for the most part, the difficulty curve is perfect. Although the camera could occasionally be troubling, the only real trouble-spot in the game was the final boss. It took me over two hours to finally get lucky and best him and I've spoken to other gamers who had similar troubles. There is a good amount of reason to play through a second time, such as new and improved weaponry, but I think I'll just take a break and pop in the sequel. The first three games in the series are all part of Sony's "Greatest Hits" collection and can be had for $20 or less, a total value in my opinion.
Ribbit King - Gamecube
What do you mean you haven't heard of Frolf? Frolf is the new sport of sports and it's one that you have to give a try. Ribbit King is a golf game that tosses aside the ball and opts to use a frog instead. Each "hole" is actually a large landscape with all sorts of various obstacles to use in setting up your shot. You can bounce your frog off spider-webs, have it swim across rivers and lakes, have it slide across ice, be carried on conveyor belts, you name it! And best of all, your frog has a mind of its own. Sometimes it will leap up and eat a fly and start a whole new combo you didn't expect. For sure, there is a method to the madness and as you compete, you'll gain access to new frogs that can tolerate lava or are better swimmers and whatnot, and similarly, you'll gain access to a plethora of power-ups to help replenish your frog's energy or give him special abilities. The brief cutscenes that play before each matchup are actually funny and the game is also good fun multiplayer. As ridiculous as this sounds, Ribbit King is one of my favorite games for the Gamecube and a must-play for everyone.