True to my word, I’ve stepped my up efforts to play more games before the end of the year. Some are for review, some are for fun, but I thought it’d be interesting to give some quick takes on everything I have my eyes on. Ironically, I began writing this because I was knee deep playing Death Stranding and wanted a moment to reflect, but I beat it before I could finish editing. By the time this goes up, I’ll be in the middle of writing my review, so giving my preview thoughts no longer makes sense.

There’s still plenty to play and talk about though, including some stuff that I probably should have covered a long, long time ago. So please enjoy until the Death Stranding review is ready:

Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz
Originally released in May, this awkwardly-worded title is the latest Jake Hunter game. Unlike past entries, it’s published by Arc System Works both in Japan and North America and features a translation that adheres much closer to the Japanese script, including calling Jake by his original name, Saburo Jinguji. I’ve beaten the first two cases as of now and I appreciate how it sticks to its visual novel roots by focusing on the story, while making the investigation gameplay more streamlined. Since this is a prequel to the rest of the series, it acts as a great introduction to who Saburo is. But, since he’s been written differently in every game that makes it out of Japan, it’s hard to relate his characterization here to other interpretations of the character. So far, Jake Hunter Detective Chronicles: Ghost of the Dusk beats this out in terms of scope and emotional impact, but I’m excited to see where it goes next.

Etrian Odyssey Nexus
This is the last big 2019 3DS title I need to review, Etrian Odyssey Nexus originally released in February. Like the Persona Q games, this is an RPG about exploring dungeons and mapping them out floor by floor. Except, unlike PQEtrian Odyssey is heavily rooted in old school role-playing, down to having a narrator act as a sort of DM. I’m forty-five hours in and about halfway through. While I enjoy exploring the dungeons, it’s a difficult game that requires a lot of patience and a willingness to commit that could frustrate a lot of people. It’s also not very story heavy. What’s there is mostly an excuse to keep funneling the player back into dungeon after dungeon so they can move on to the next challenge. I plan to see it through to the end, but it’s a little dry for my tastes.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD
FromSoftware’s Metal Wolf Chaos certainly feels like a 2004 Xbox game, but so far that’s not a horrible thing. Part why I wanted to play this was rooted in the novelty of seeing this game in English, but between the hammy dialogue and lengthy mission objectives, it’s still one of the more accessible mech games I’ve come across. At its best, it reminds me of a Dreamcast title that’s super earnest and committed to its ideas. At its worst, it’s a forgettable arcade shooter. In a way, I can’t help but appreciate it. I’m not super far and I don’t know if I’ll end up writing a review, but I’ll say I’m glad to own it.

After cycling out the original Titanfall as my default chill game, I picked up this Disney-published racer pretty much at random. It makes me feel super old to say, but I remember when people talked about this when it came out in 2010. After a few hours, I can confirm it’s definitely a racing game of its time, and it holds up well thanks to its sense of speed and focus on destruction and mayhem at every possible opportunity. With a light Death Race-esque reality TV presentation, the conceit is that you’re setting off explosions to turn your opponents into fiery wrecks to get better ratings. In practice though, it feels like a more aggressive Mario Kart, where the objective isn’t simply to reach first, but to pull every dirty trick along the way. That’s all I need to keep going, and it’s been a blast so far.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate
I hopped back into Smash with the Terry Bogard character DLC, and it’s been on my mind ever since. It was one of my favorite games last year, and the steady stream of updates has continued to make it better. I’m currently chipping away at the World of Light mode, and it’s become this really cool trip down the back alleys of Nintendo’s obscure titles. I also get the sense the developers thought carefully about how to make each and every DLC character fun while breaking the mold of what you’d expect from Smash. I’ve picked up and put down this game so many times this year, the best thing to do would be to commit and finally finish everything. You know, be done with it. But there’s still more DLC coming, so being “done” isn’t going to mean anything any time soon. If Sakurai and his team built this game out for years and declared it the last Super Smash Bros, I’d be totally happy. It’s the best in the series.

And After That…
With a month and a half left in the year, there’s not a lot of time left to get more games in. This list of five might be all I get to, but if that’s not the case, I have a lot of ideas about what I want to play next. First and foremost is Luigi’s Mansion 3, because I’ve eagerly awaited that game since I covered the other Luigi’s Mansion games last year. Also on the docket, if I finish Etrian Odyssey in time, is getting to Shovel Knight on 3DS so I can do a retrospective/review of all the campaigns. December doesn’t have a lot going on, but I definitely have my eyes set on the last episode of Life is Strange 2 as well. Expect a review of that. I might also check out Arise: A Simple Story if I have time.

As far as games that I want to play in my free time, I recently finished up Assassin’s Creed III, so naturally Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag‘s been calling my name. I don’t know when I’ll get to that, but it’s frustrating to be so behind on a series I love. There’s a ton of games in the series I look forward to playing, but it sucks because that means it’ll be a long time before I’m finally caught up. If I decide I want to play something shorter for a breather, well, I might just check out the first Code: Realize instead.

Thanks for reading. If you like what you’ve read, be sure to leave a comment below. I’m also available on Twitter, and by email, too: dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios(dot)com. Why not drop a message and talk about what you’re playing?