Hidden Gems – Perfect Angle (PS4)

Platform:  Playstation 4
Genre: Puzzle

It’s been a long time since I’ve added anything to this blog.  Life has been throwing curve balls at me since the flood and I’ve struggled to get back on my feet.  It took a game like Perfect Angle on the Playstation 4 (PS4) to get me excited enough to write again.

Perfect Angle is a zen puzzle game – unlimited hints, no timers and the mechanics are almost too simple.  The premise is this – you are given seemingly random shapes on the screen and you manipulate the play area around it until you find the shape hidden within.  Sometimes, it’s a shadow on a wall.  Other times, you have to remove a couple of pieces to find it.  I am now on level 53 and it’s never been so hard that I’ve wanted to rage quit.  As a puzzle game, I give it a solid A.

However, this is more than a puzzle game.  This game doesn’t want you to play it.  It wants you to experience its story.  You are taken on a mysterious journey with an aging man and you are helping to put his memories back together.  It really fits with the theme of the game itself and in the industry in which I work, which is senior living, it feels painfully relevant.  If this game ends up the way I think it will, this one may just bump something off of my top 25 game list.

If you own a PS4, play this game.  And play it through.  You will not regret it.

Hidden Gems – Puzzles and Dragons

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo 3DS

Puzzle games are by far my favorite genre.  I hate to brag, but I’m pretty darn good at them.  I think the reason that I’m so good at them is because I’ve played them all for so long that patterns start to emerge and the games start to feel similar.  That being said, I am not good at this game, and I love it!

Puzzles and Dragons Z/Puzzles and Dragons Super Mario Edition is a wonderful game for the 3DS.  The touch screen is perfect for this game.  It may look like your standard match-3 game, which is how I tried to play it for the first two hours, but it is certainly not that.  You can play it that way, but you will be terrible at this game.  Instead of taking one piece and lining it up with two or more of the same kind, you take it and move it anywhere you want on the board, but it shuffles the other pieces around as you do so.  This means that, with some careful strategy, you can get huge combo moves.  This is so different from normal puzzles games that my brain has had trouble adapting to the concept.  I love the new mental challenge, though!

While you play your way through the game, you have to select which “cards” you want to play with as well.  I have only played the Mario Edition so far, but I’m assuming it’s the same with the Z side as well.  As you play these cards, which are essentially characters, you can level them up.  You will constantly be switching cards around, though, because they definitely have advantages and disadvantages toward certain enemies.  You can also build up power to play occasional power moves, which you’re going to need.

As I mentioned, there are two different games on this cartridge.  One is the traditional Puzzles and Dragons Z (this is the latest in a long series of these games) and the other is a Super Mario Edition.  I’ve read that the Z side is actually a bit easier, but I like Mario and I started there first.

puzzles-n-dragons-play-2

If you like puzzle games and you’re tired of being good at them all, pick this one up!  It will definitely challenge your noggin.

Hidden Gems – Harry Potter + Order of the Phoenix for XBox 360

Genre:  Action-Adventure
Platform:  XBox 360

I am a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies.  I wasn’t too sure about playing the games, though, because video games based on movies are notoriously bad.  I picked this one up, anyway.  It was the first Harry Potter game that I had tried.  I was pleasantly surprised and this makes it a hidden gem.

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, you will really enjoy this game.  It follows the story of the movie very well, but it lets you set the pace of the story.  You could finish this game in about 8 hours if you wanted.  However, as a bit of a completionist, I did every side quest, played every mini-game and collected every achievement (except for the one that is bugged).  There are a lot of really fun mini-games and things to collect in this game.  My favorite was marbles.  It could be difficult at times, but was a lot of fun.  It also let you have full run of Hogwarts, which felt like a very large and comprehensive environment.  The colors in the game are a bit drab, but I believe it was intentional.  The graphics are also a bit dated at this point, but it’s still quite playable.

Along your way through the story, you have your fellow Hogwarts crew to help you out.  You will do tasks for them and they will return the favor.  In the end, you will fight “He Who Shall Not Be Named” and hopefully come out victorious.

If you’ve not played this, I would recommend you try it out!  Beware, however, that other platform versions of this game are not the same.  For example, the DS version of the game seems to only have the story portion of this game, which makes it a lot less fun.

Hidden Gems – Mario Golf World Tour

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  3DS

I don’t really like golf.  But I do seem to like golf video games for some reason.  You probably can’t really call any game with Mario in the title “hidden”, but this one was off my radar for a while.  I popped it in my 3DS one day before a several-hour flight and played for several hours.

The golf game itself is solid.  It’s not too challenging and is easy to learn.  There are subtleties which will make you a better player overall, but it’s not completely necessary to play the game well.  The act of driving the ball is fun and you get rewarding graphics and sounds when you make a solid hit.  Putting is a little tricky at first, but once you figure it out, you’re on your way to birdie after birdie.  You will have to contend with environmental factors such as wind and your typical golf hazards.

While Mario is on the cover (as usual), you can play with any of the major Nintendo characters.  I typically pick Luigi as he is always in Mario’s shadow and is a bit goofier than his famous brother.  And I like green.  (Have you ever noticed that it’s the Mario brothers, indicating Mario is their last name?  So are they Mario Mario and Luigi Mario?)  There are many different courses to play on and they increase in difficulty.

As you play through, you earn coins which you can spend in the pro-shop for better items such as clubs.  Mario golf has been around since the NES days with a game simply titled “Golf”.  He’s come a long way and has improved dramatically.  If you like golf games, check this one out.

Hidden Gems – Kinect Sports Gems

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  XBox 360

The Kinect is a highly under-appreciated device on the XBox 360 and XBone.  It’s a very innovative device and allows for voice commands and movement tracking.  It works really well, too, even on the first-gen 360s.

Kinect Sports Gems is a suite of games available from the XBox 360 arcade.  They are purchased separately, so you don’t have to get the games you don’t want.  I believe they are $2 each and are very much worth the money.  These games got me off the couch and made me work up a sweat!

I have completed 10-Frame Bowling and Field Goal Challenge.  In each game, there are 10 ranks.  You rank up by completing specific tasks in each game.  For example, in 10-Frame Bowling, there was a task to alternate hands every throw in the game.  You gain stars for each task, and get more stars for the more difficult tasks.  I also have Prize-Driver Golf, Three Point Challenge, Ping Pong, Reaction Ralley, Penalty Saver and Darts vs Zombies.

I have enjoyed each game so far.  They are quick games and are a lot of fun.  Field Goal Challenge has been my favorite and it made me feel like I  was the star of the stadium.  It’s amazing how into these games you’ll get.  Before you know it, you’ll be waving to the crowd and posing for the camera.

Game play is fun and the Kinect is very responsive to your movements.  It had a little bit of trouble with my ceiling fan when trying to navigate through the menus, but it didn’t affect game play at all.  My dog’s constantly-wagging tail did, however, and that made for some interesting game play.  Also make sure that your play area is clear.  I kicked a cat more than once during Field Goal Challenge and gave my poor dog an uppercut while bowling.

If you’ve played the Kinect sports full games, these are very similar to some of the mini games there.  For $2 each, though, I would still strongly recommend picking them up in the arcade, too.

Hidden Gems – Alice: The Madness Returns

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  XBox 360

This game probably can’t be considered “hidden” anymore, but I happened to stumble upon it by accident on Gamefly.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was quite pleasantly surprised as to the quality of this one.

You play as Alice as she returns to Wonderland.  However, this isn’t your mother’s Wonderland.  Things have taken a dystopian turn for the worse.  There’s a lot of blood and gore here, so it’s definitely not for the kiddos.  This game is a platformer, so you’re making your way through the world trying to get to the next point to update the story.  I did find the story engaging as well.  I have to admit that I didn’t end up finishing it, though.  It’s on my Amazon wish list as I would like to get it and finish it out.

The levels are original and fun.  It has many of the typical platforming elements – bouncy things, moving platforms and targets, minions abound, secret things to find, boss battles and so much more.  The graphics are decent, but maybe not as crisp as they could be.  The soundtrack added to the game and gave it a creepy vibe.  Many of your favorite Wonderland characters are here as well, but certainly not as you might remember them.

This game reminded me a bit of American McGee’s Alice, which was a popular PC game in the 2000’s.  It was a bit of a cult hit and was also very dystopian.  I would recommend playing that one, too, although the graphics are very outdated at this point.

Anyway, if you haven’t played this one and it sounds like something you would like, check it out!  You’re probably looking at 20 hours to play through tops.

Hidden Gems – Puzzler World

Genre:  Puzzle/Word
Platform:  Nintendo DS

This game was close to making my top 25, but I felt I had enough puzzle games there.  This entry on the Nintendo DS is a collection of many different types of puzzles including hangman, picture puzzles, crosswords, word searches, sudoku and many more!  There were actually four games in this series, and they may not be done.  Any one of them is great and they each add or remove something from a previous game.  There was one released for the Nintendo DS, two for the 3DS and one downloadable for the 3DS.

It all started on the DS, however, so that’s where I’ll start, too.  I have spent many, many hours on this game.  It’s great for quick bursts of puzzling fun.  The later levels will start to take longer to solve.  Toward the end, it was taking me 20+ minutes for some of the more detailed puzzles.  The stylus, as usual, is perfect for puzzle games like this.  The crosswords are handled well as you can write the letters on the screen and it is able to detect them.  It may take a bit of tweaking in the settings for it to recognize certain letters, but once it’s dialed in, it’s near-perfect.

The variety of games is nice and will keep your brain occupied.  They are a great mix of logic puzzles and word games.  You don’t have to play any that you don’t want to, which is nice.  Many games only unlock games as you play, but this one lets you have full reign.  There are also challenge modes in some versions, where the puzzles are a bit harder.  My favorite are the word searches (I’m just a sucker for them) and the link-a-pix, which is the ambulance picture above.

You may not have heard of the series, but it’s a must if you like puzzle games as much as I do!