While so many gamers are still rocking the ’80s electro synth in the neon-colored neo-apocalypse of last week’s ‘FarCry 3: Blood Dragon‘, the flow of new videogames ebbs this week. Fortunately, pinball goes all ‘Star Wars’ on PCs, while mini Mario and Donkey Kong get moving.
Pinball FX2 (XBLA, PSN, iOS, Android, PC)
Zen Studios has finally brought its latest videogame pinball platform to Steam. Granted, the series is already available on just about every other platform from consoles to smartphones, but this week, the ‘Zen Classics’ and ‘Pinball FX2 Core Collection’ will be available, along with multiple Marvel licensed packs (including an Iron Man table) and the very recent ‘Star Wars Pinball’ pack. That’s right, the Empire can strike back, Windows pinball-style.
Using that ‘Episode V’ table as an example, the game has a slick base with four flippers and an isosceles loop, along with a nice dose of videogame additions like the light saber-delivered ball return. The license touches are great and the spinning Cloud City is easily one of the best features. Global leader boards also really help to merge the classic pinball experience with modern accessibility.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (PSN)
Hot off the heels of the ‘Fatal Frame’ PS2 Classic re-release comes ‘Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly’, which for most is the series’ zenith. This is the original version, no more, no less. Players are still dependent on a mystical camera, but compared to the first game, the sequel’s plot is a lot more fascinating. As this version (at least for me) replaces the need for a physical disc, it also calls into to question both the original Xbox version (which added content) and the more recent, international-only Wii remake. Sometimes, the extra content and changes are worthwhile, but in this case, the original contains the best of the game, including the new Game Plus mode. Both old and new fans of the title will be sorely tempted to indulge new Game+ replays.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS eShop)
As many of you are doubtlessly aware, there are many different games staring Nintendo’s iconic plumber, but few manage the eclectic mix of ‘Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move’. Ten years ago, Nintendo announced that the original antagonistic relationship between Mario and Donkey Kong would be revisited with ‘Mario vs. Donkey’. Unfortunately, what might have been an otherwise decent ‘Lemmings’-style game really didn’t live up to that promise. Still, Nintendo has kept the series through the DS, to the point where we now get a 3DS version, and all pretense of “versus” has been dropped. The title’s mini-games really benefit from the full control of a D-pad and buttons, and the stylus is also a nice touch. Nevertheless, the downloadable title seems like just the kind of game that Nintendo could easily push on smartphones and tablets in an alternate reailty.
Helicopter Simulator: Search and Rescue (PC)
Walking a fine line between fun and educationally serious is ‘Helicopter Simulator: Search and Rescue‘. On the one hand, the nuances of eight different model helicopters (with real life counterparts) will be lost on most players, but the search and rescue missions should be nearly as fun as ever. In fact, the game really channels the classic ‘SimCopter’, just (likely) without the racy ending. The game’s missions will, for the most part, follow a formula of “Go to this trouble spot, pick up people, then take them to a safe drop off.” But the straightforward nature belies just how much fun it is to play a helicopter game in that fashion. Of course, the controls are not arcade style, so patience and an appreciation of computer flight simulator games is a must.