We're back with Issue 7 of Now Playing at SUPERJUMP! We've asked our global team of writers and editors to chime in with what they're currently playing, obsessing over, thinking about, and looking forward to in the coming weeks. Click each author's name to see their entire portfolio, and the links in the text will let you find out even more about them. So enjoy, and we'll see you back here each week for more recommendations and odes to the games our team loves!
I bought Baldur's Gate 3 finally. It's one of the last major 2023 games I intend to play, and I played a lot this year. I'm not far enough to have a real opinion, about 17 hours or so (considering the game's size), but I'll say it is a very well-made game, but with how high my expectations are I'm not really grabbed or even really enjoying myself yet. But, plenty more to go.
I also figured that since BG3 is so big I should break it up with smaller games, and I finished the original Devil May Cry yesterday (via the HD Collection). Great game! I don't think I'll play it again because of the inherent jankiness of the era, but it's a good game nonetheless.
This week I finished my playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077 and Phantom Liberty. I took my time with the game this time and discovered all sorts of details I missed on the first run. It's definitely one of the best cyberpunk games ever made. I've also been dabbling in a couple of excellent tactical shooters - Ground Branch and Ready or Not, harkening back to the late 90s glory days of Rainbow Six and SWAT 3 respectively.
I got a review code of Small Saga and I'm absolutely in love with it. It's an RPG by way of Secret of Nimh and Redwall, with killer writing and gorgeous sprite work. I'm excited to write about it.
No games for this week, but on a hardware note, I'm in the process of soft-modding and upgrading a fat PSP. I've realized that I actually kind of miss sitting under a lamp and playing old platformers, and with a few bucks and some existing hardware, I can make those memories real again. And I can even still use it as a Final Fantasy Tactics machine just like I did back in the day.
I just finished my first playthroughs of the Dead Space remake and Super Mario Odyssey this week. Unable to put either of them away so soon, I think I'll play through DS's New Game Plus at a higher difficulty and make a pass at 100-percenting Odyssey's collectibles in the post-game.
I can't talk about one of the games I'll be playing because of the embargo, but soon I'm going to start In Stars and Time, which looks like a neat RPG about looping in search of a better future and the consequences of time shenanigans for the people who use them.
Also, there's this random visual novel called Mamiya which just got a major update with a finale. It's one of my favorite experiences in the format, exploring a really somber take on the fragile psyche of vulnerable youth and the dread they feel in their life conditions. And going back to it, they updated the game so much with extra dialogue and a few scene changes that I'm going through it all again from the start and screaming at details I now understand much better.
Mamiya has always been this layered narrative where replaying adds extra nuance to the experience and it just shakes me to the core to go through it all again. It's really poignant and special, and, at least so far, the experience is even better than I remembered.
I've been diving into a whole range of Atari 2600 carts. The great thing about them is that a nice bath in rubbing alcohol (or hand sanitizer) can bring any old cart back to life. Space Invaders and Frogger have been getting plenty of repeated plays this week. Both are honestly the best versions of the classics, it's a shame Taito actively disowns the 2600 version of their groundbreaking shooter.
I've been working my way through the original Alan Wake over the last week or so in hopes of catching up for the sequel! It's not a game I thought I would pick up but I can certainly see where the cult following emerged from. The campy horror elements alongside a genuinely interesting mystery have had me up late into the night thinking about what it could all mean. I appreciate what this title is trying to do and I look forward to seeing where it goes in both this game and the sequel!
The gameplay itself is a bit clunky and certainly reminiscent of an era where this type of game was still finding its feet, yet it holds up remarkably well. Despite my issues with some general clunkiness, the unique spin on action shooter gameplay with the use of the torch and light is a welcome change of pace. Alan is a delightfully strange character who really fits in this strange town. I look forward to seeing where this all ends up going!
I made some really good progress on Cyberpunk 2077, I can feel the ending coming up and it’s really good; I’m eating up every twist and turn. It’s only taking me so much time because often the storylines are a little too serious for my usual taste so I have to take breaks to play something light-hearted. But the fact that I’m still sticking it out should be a testimony to how fantastic the acting and writing are if I’m willing to go out of my comfort zone to see this to its end.
I was also able to play in a few Magic: The Gathering Commander pods this week and played a Golgari mill deck at both; it’s turning into my favorite type of deck to play at Magic night even though it’s not winning me too many in the state that those decks are at. In a surprising turn of events, we ventured into board games that were NOT Magic (gasp). We finally tried Red Rising which I instantly fell in love with and we got into some social deduction games (Coup and Hand to Hand Wombat) which were both crazy fun to argue over at the table.
This past week, I have been diving deep into Super Mario Bros Wonder. It is easily one of the most delightful and charming games that I have played this year.
I love the platforming in this game as it brings me back memories of some of my favorite 2D Mario games like Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS and New Super Mario Bros on the DS. I enjoy the new abilities that you get to use like the elephant form which makes the gameplay that much more engaging.
I didn’t know that I would like the online features that much, but I do appreciate the ghosts of other players that you see in each stage that can help you out by placing you back into the game. This is great especially since there is no timer to worry about as you complete each level. I do like that aspect as I only have to worry about my platforming skills as some stages are challenging on their own.
Overall, I would say that Super Mario Bros Wonder is easily one of the best platforming Mario games that I have played in a long time. The stages are wonderful, the variety of stages is excellent, ranging from simple to challenging, and the wonder effects really change the level design in fun and creative ways.
That's a wrap for this week's Now Playing at SUPERJUMP!
Thank you for checking out the veritable treasure trove of games our team is playing right now, and be sure to check back next week when we're back with more.
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