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Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move

Another game I grabbed with my Club Nintendo points (after Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D) was Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move for the 3DS. I was always curious about these “Minis” games but for some reason never got around to playing any of them, and so decided to finally take the jump, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun little platform/puzzler, and although I’m still early in it – still just playing the basic Mario stages – I do like how it gradually ramps up, adding new elements at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm you. I imagine I’ll then want to play the new one that is coming out this month, cross-platform on Wii U and 3DS.

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Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

I picked this up tonight as one of my Club Nintendo free downloads, and I’m sure glad I did. I haven’t played a Donkey Kong Country game since the original one on the Super Nintendo, and wow, I just totally got sucked into the gameplay. Loving the platforming, and the visuals are really fantastic, with great 3D effects. I have a feeling I’m really going to love this game, and I imagine it won’t take long before I’ll want to pick up Tropical Freeze on the Wii U.

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Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

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I played through the demo that was just released on the eShop, and man, have I gotten addicted to this game. Strategy is not a genre I tend to gravitate towards, but I will have fun with a strategy game if done right, and boy was I having fun with this. There’s something great about switching between characters as you try to come up with the best battle plan to effectively get through the enemies, and I like the “steam” mechanic – moving and using weapons uses up your allotted amount per turn, but it can also be a good strategy to keep some in reserve, as you can then fire on enemies that move into your sight. I also dig the comic book-like presentation – especially in the cut scenes, that look much better in motion than in screenshots. Can’t wait to get the full game.

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Pushmo

I’ve been late to the Pushmo series, with my first taste coming from Pushmo World on Wii U – which I loved. The original Pushmo for 3DS has been on sale since last week, and so I picked it up and have been having just as much fun with it as I did with World. I’m not usually that into puzzle games, but with the colorful and fun aesthetics, and that sweet little music, I just get this great big smile on my face as I’m playing. It’s only on sale for another couple of days, so definitely grab it if you can.

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

I got my hands on the demo of the upcoming 3DS version of this game, and was really excited to take it out for a spin. On the latest Nintendo Direct there was a mention of how the demo was set to help newbies to the series (like me) get started. It does indeed start off with a bunch of tutorials to get you going, although I do wish I would have learned more about who I am, why I’m doing this, and what these companions who follow me are all about – but I imagine these are things that are addressed in the full game. Did I like playing it? It is an interesting thing, and I could see this being pretty fun if I’m going out on hunts with friends. I did find the camera control to be awkward, using a button on the bottom screen, but I’m sure playing this on a New 3DS would rectify that (or with that analog button add-on). I still was not clear on everything though – for example, on the first hunt, when the monster I was hunting disappeared in a hole, I didn’t realize he had surfaced somewhere else, and so for a while I was just trying to get in the hole, or waiting it out by defeating nearby small creatures (I later realized I should go elsewhere). But yeah, if I know that a bunch of friends are buying it too, I think I’d like to play more of this.

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Fantasy Life

I’ve been pretty lucky with my gaming experiences of late, and Fantasy Life is another game I’ve been having so much fun playing. At first, I got so caught up just exploring the different “lives” (or jobs) of my character that I played close to 10 hours before I realized that I should also make the story advance – which has now been my focus. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, it’s just an enjoyable world to be in, with addictive systems that vary for each of the different “lives” that you want to level up (as an archer, tailor, blacksmith, etc.) The writing in the game is quite good too, with some pretty funny lines peppered throughout. For me, as much as I’ve enjoyed playing Animal Crossing, I prefer something like this because of the structure, and the goals that I’m constantly chasing down.

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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

I’d been wanting to play this for such a long time, and last week’s eShop sale gave me the perfect excuse to do so. This game is just so much fun, and I’m constantly wowed by the entire presentation, particularly the sound design – it’s an absolute joy to hear Luigi hum the soundtrack, as it’s playing. The only criticism I would have is that even though the “levels” aren’t particularly long – around 20 minutes or so – if you do die near the end, it can be a bummer to have to redo the whole thing (but it does go a lot faster when you know exactly where you need to go). This is easily one of the best 3DS experiences out there, and I would rank it as my 3rd favorite game on the system (following The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D Land).

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Super Smash Bros. 3DS

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of fighting games – the only one I remember really loving a lot was Power Stone – and although I know that the Smash games have a reputation for being more friendly (in terms of the controls), I still have never really played them much (I think the one I’ve played the most was Melee on GameCube, and even that wasn’t much). But I’ve been feeling the hype all year, and was getting really excited to finally dig into the series with the 3DS version. Guess what? I love it. I’ve played hours so far, unlocking most of the achievements, playing all of the modes – and there are lots – and just plain smashing my way through the roster. Currents faves are a mix of Wario, Link, Toon Link, Zelda, Ness, and Mario. I like it because I don’t feel like the controls are overwhelming, and it’s just plain fun to be battling it out with all these characters, and in these wacky arenas. This is just getting me that much more excited for the Wii U version, to have friends over for a night of fighting.

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Azure Striker Gunvolt

Having so many friends excited for this game – when it was released earlier this month in Japan – got me excited for it too, and I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s a 2D Mega Man-like action platformer, and yes, it’s fun to play, and it also has a cool cyberpunk setting – you’re facing off against a big corporation. I’m still quite early in the game – I’ve only defeated 2 bosses – but I like that I can change up my abilities and equipment, and the dialogue has been fun too. It’s also great that you also get a free download of an 8-bit-like nod to the upcoming Mighty No. 9, called Mighty Gunvolt.

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Shovel Knight

Imagine an NES game, but done if the NES had kept evolving a few more years. I’m having a blast playing this, and I’m doing so mostly playing it on the Wii U controller – there’s also a 3DS version, but since I play even my 3DS games at home, I figured the Wii U version was the way to go, since it gives the option to play on the big screen as well. I’ve only played a couple of hours so far, and I have a feeling it’s going to get challenging – especially the boss battles – but there’s just so much to love here in terms of presentation, music, and gameplay that I think I’m going to have a lot more fun playing this. Oh, and you gotta love the fact that it constantly taunts you with the life of the next boss you’ll be facing in the upper right hand corner of the screen.