Logan Frederick highlights quality titles for those hectically trying to take gaming on the go during their busy lives.
As 2008 wore on, memories of last year's Halo 3 release faded as I found myself bogged down by increasing responsibilities such as work and school. I'm sure I'm not alone in this time conundrum; how does one fulfill the obligations of life and fit in some fun at the same time?
Personally, I took the portable route, packing my white DS and iPod Touch to entertain me on the road. And when I reached my destination? I continued to keep it brief with games that could be fully enjoyed in bite sized chunks of time.
5) Mega Man 9 (Wii Virtual Console, Playstation Store, Xbox Live Arcade)- As one of the best revivals of an old school franchise I've played in recent years, Mega Man 9 reminded me of what made the NES era of gaming so special and why it was lost at the same time. Aside from the occasional Ninja Gaiden or Contra update, no other title has whipped my casual gaming-trained ass like the unforgiving platforming from the days of old. This download was purely for nostalgia and I came away with a renewed respect for trial-and-error gameplay and 2D sprites.
4) Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (Nintendo DS)- I miss having the time to settle at the computer for a two hour Age of Empires marathon of mind games. The Advance Wars series provides increasingly serious storylines, strategic turn-based combat, productive use of both DS screens, and a save system at every step of the game, allowing for easy pickup-and-playability. Level and mission structures in this fourth AW game are lengthy enough to host epic wars while remaining brief enough for players to make significant progress during a car ride. Days of Ruin is the game for thinkers on the go.
3) Wii Fit (Wii)- This title didn't make my list for any of my personal experiences with it. If I want digital exercise I'll do Dance Dance Revolution in the basement. But when my mom called me asking if she could move the family Wii into the living room so she could practice virtual yoga, Nintendo again proved to me that its family-friendly marketing works wonders on mainstream consumers. Not to mention that any game that encourages hot hula-hoop action and exercise simultaneously should be a household item.
2) Cube Runner (iPod Touch, iPhone)- Like any good woman, Cube Runner is fast, free, easy and let's me listen to my own playlist while I fool around with her. Released with the opening of Apple's Application Store on iTunes, this simple arcade game would've looked at home on the Vectrex and played as addictively in the 70s as it does in the new millennium. Apple promoted the game on the iTunes homepage when the store opened to demonstrate to the masses the potential of the iPhone's built-in accelerometer. Navigating a geometric ship through an asteroid field of multicolored cubes becomes alluring in an offbeat manner somewhere between Rez and Pac-Man. Any iPhone owner will shame his friends playing Zuma on their older handsets with his portable gaming prowess.
1) Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)- Yahtzee's verbose Brawl bashing be damned; the Super Smash series is still awesome. I don't mind if some of the characters come locked from play. Unlike our Australian friend, my friends and I don't mind having to play this party title for multiple days to unlock Sonic when the underlying gameplay is so simple to learn and deep for the dedicated. Much like its predecessor Melee, what began as a party starter in the Spring soon became a competitive divider between former friends. Depending on your preference, familiar gamers will be disappointed by Brawl's nerfing of much of Melee's roster, but the more even playing field encourages a fun, item-filled, superpower abusing, neon-colored night of mayhem unlike any fighting game since the original Mortal Kombat.