Mortal Kombat X
There’s no other way to say it: Mortal Kombat X is the best in the series, by far. And it’s funny, because I almost expected the potential of 2011’s reboot to be squandered. The inner pessimist in me remembers the PS2 era of MK games as an incredibly dark time in the series.
But now it’s grown up both aesthetically and mechanically, and can hold its own among its fighting game rank and file. It won’t replace Street Fighter, Tekken, or Marvel vs Capcom, but if you’re looking for a fourth place to flex, might I suggest the home that Scorpion built?
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Dungeon crawling has never been so hilariously groovy like it is in Crypt of the NecroDancer. The rhythm mechanic is super clever and really adds a layer of replayability on top of the ones roguelikes tend to tout, especially when you begin to add your own tracks to the levels. It’s been in Early Access forever and now that it’s finally released, I can properly recommend it to everyone.
Mario Kart 8: Pack 2 DLC
All I have to say are two words: Big. Blue.
This second pack seems like the culmination of all Mario Kart-ness, resulting in the masterwork of a level that is Big Blue. With the inclusion of Double Dash classic: Baby Park, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the best addition to Mario Kart 8 since its initial release. The Zelda-themed DLC was excellent, and added some F-Zero action to Nintendo’s other popular racer, but this second pack just ups the ante in all regards.
The music, the new original levels, the Baby Park and of course Big Blue, pretty much every piece to this second DLC pack is excellent, top to bottom. Seriously, Big Blue is the best Mario Kart level. Ever. Period. Playing with friends split screen or online, this has been a blast. For $12, with 16 new tracks total, these two packs, especially the eight tracks added here, are the best Mario Kart experience one could ask for. Plus with 200cc mode out now, we can just hope for some kind of F-Zero with this kind of genius level design.
Broken Age Act 2
My relationship with Broken Age goes all the way back to March of 2012, when the Kickstarter for the Double Fine Adventure first launched. Havings played point-and-click classics like Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones: Journey to Atlantis with my brother Brady, this was territory I was definitely emotionally invested in. Back then, I didn’t hesitate to back what would become Broken Age, and I have no regrets.
I will dance around here to avoid spoiling anything, but the first half of Broken Age left me clawing at my computer screen for more. As a backer, I’d seen these characters from the concept art stage to final product. I evolved with the concept of the game itself, saw the first gameplay prototype, and what the basis for every area in the game was. I was and am attached to it.
Would I recommend it to adventure game fans? Absolutely. This one is clearly in the style of the classics, tricky and word puzzles and all. It is a bit friendly and the SCUM engine is a thing of the past, so playing it is much easier, so as far as entry-level point and clicks go, this is a great start. Broken Age tells a gorgeous story about growing up and making your own way, and honestly is a must play for any adventure fan.
Finding Teddy 2
Why is nobody talking about this game?! I don’t understand. To me, Finding Teddy 2 represents everything that I love about indie games, in a very weird way. It recreates a nostalgic experience for me, but does it a bit better (in this case it’s Zelda 2 and a little bit of Metroid). It has a strong female lead but doesn’t flaunt it because it doesn’t have to. It’s got color and character and charm in spades, but past that the gameplay is tight and excellent.
Finding Teddy 2 has you control a little girl going on an adventure to save a friend. Mixed in there are sound-based puzzles that harken back to the confusing language of Fez (this time more streamlined) and a musical instrument that serves as a pseudo-ocarina. It strikes that balance between homage and innovation, similar to March’s Ori and the Blind Forest, though not quite to that extent.
It’s an indie gem that no one seems to have noticed yet, so get out there and find Teddy.