By: Stephen Duetzmann
We are a few months late to the party, but we would be remiss if we didn’t take the opportunity to highlight our favorite family friendly video games of last year. There were a LOT of games that came out in 2013, but two of them rose above the rest as absolute must purchase games.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – 3DS
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released on the SNES and is regarded by many as one of the best games in the franchise. A Link Between Worlds is a 3DS sequel that is so similar to the original that it feels like putting on a good pair of running shoes. Link even swings his sword with the same sweeping arc. This game just “feels” good.
LBW isn’t just a great source of nostalgia though. It is just short of a work of art. The animation is beautiful despite its simplicity and the score is top notch. I have a tendency to play a lot of 3DS games with the sound turned all the way down. This is simply not an option here. The orchestral soundtrack is one to be enjoyed and stands up to some of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. Trust me parents when I say that you will NOT grow tired of this music like you might think you will. It is just that good.
I may be a sucker for bringing my favorite games into the modern era, but Nintendo made a number of adjustments to LBW to help make it more accessible to a newer audience. They accomplished this through removing most of the rigidity found in other Zelda titles. They abandon the standard dungeon formula that players had grown used to over the last few decades. Instead, players are allowed to tackle dungeons in virtually any order that they choose. This is aided by the ability to rent all of the different items and weapons early on. This is a brilliant change that encourages experimentation and exploration early on in the experience
If you and your family don’t own any systems in the 3DS family, then this game alone makes the purchase worthwhile.
Super Mario 3D World is pure multiplayer perfection. Mario games have included 4player game play for years, but they have always been more about spreading chaos and dissension than about fun. Those days are over. Super Mario 3D World gives up to four players the chance to step into Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad’s shoes without stepping on each other’s feet. The switch to a 3d plane helps here. The levels are all large enough for everyone to do their own thing without impeding each other; this is all but impossible in side scrolling levels in more traditional 2d Mario games. This is excellent for allowing players of varied skill levels to participate in their own way. I have spent a lot of time playing with both of my boys and we have been enjoying ourselves immensely.
It also needs to be noted that 3D World is likely the most gorgeous Mario game I have ever played. Simply put, anyone who said that Mario wouldn’t benefit from sharper and more colorful visuals is proven wrong here.
The WiiU has struggled to find a foothold in the world market and has thus far failed to move the kind of units that its predecessor, the Wii, did. Super Mario 3D World may not be ‘the solution’ to that problem, but the only thing Nintendo can do is improve the quality of its WiiU library as quickly as they can. Super Mario 3D World certainly helps with that and is a must own for anyone with a WiiU.