Take gaming action to go with popular titles for Nintendo, PlayStation devices

Posted Monday, Jul. 28, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Summer brings with it a lot of down time, whether you’re standing in line for the Titan at Six Flags, riding in the back seat of the family SUV or sitting in the outfield at Globe Life Park, waiting for the Rangers game to start.

During these breaks in the action, why not throttle a few aliens, hit some homeruns or explore an enchanted realm? All you need is a portable video game system and a handful of the hottest, most recent titles, such as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for Sony’s PlayStation Vita or Kirby: Triple Deluxe or Yoshi’s New Island for the Nintendo 3DS.

Here are 10 of the most popular current titles for the gamer on the go.

Borderlands 2

Platform: PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Sony

ESRB rating: Mature

Price: $39.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop

For the PlayStation Vita version of Borderlands 2, developmental duties were transferred from Plano-based Gearbox Software to Iron Galaxy Studios. And, despite certain concessions to the more limited format (slower frame rate during combat and the lack of a four-player co-op mode, for example), the company did a fantastic job. The sprawling, first-person-shooter action is largely intact, as are the role-playing elements.

Wielding a huge variety of guns, grenades and other weapons, players traipse across planet Pandora, accumulating cash while blowing away robots, giant insects, flamethrower-wielding troops and other enemies. If you own the PlayStation 3 version, you can cross-save your file, meaning you can transfer your game-in-progress to the Vita (and vice versa).

Bravely Default

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Square Enix

ESRB rating: Teen

Price: $39.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop

Billed as a “spiritual successor” to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Bravely Default puts players in control of Tiz Arrior and his three companions as they wander the landscape and explore the dungeons of the fantasy world of Luxendarc, engaging in turn-based battles along the way. When you encounter an enemy, you can select Default, which helps shield your character and builds up your Brave Points, or Brave, which spends Brave Points on performing multiple attacks at once.

As in many RPGs, characters earn new skills and level-up their abilities by winning battles. Animated cutscenes, watercolor backgrounds, 24 job classes (thief, pirate, mage, etc.) and the ability to recruit citizens (online) to rebuild Tiz’s destroyed village add to the fun.

Color Zen

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Cypronia

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $3.99

Downloadable via: www.nintendo.com

Circles, squares, triangles and other geometric shapes fill the screen in Color Zen, a challenging yet relaxing puzzler. The objective of each of the game’s 100-plus levels is to connect objects of the same color to make the entire screen turn a specific color. To complicate matters, there are white shapes that can turn any color, black shapes that eliminate other colors and dotted lines that shield shapes from turning another color.

The hypnotic action is backed by a new-age electronica soundtrack that the creators of the game refer to as “16 ‘reverby downtempo’ headphone jams suitable for meditation.”

Disney Magical World

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $29.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop, Wal-Mart

A charming game the whole family can enjoy, Disney Magical World is essentially Animal Crossing for Disney devotees. After creating and customizing your avatar, you’ll begin a journey in which you can interact with more than 60 Disney characters (including Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy) while exploring four worlds: Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Aladdin and Winnie the Pooh.

The activities are virtually endless, from piecing together outfits, to building furniture for the cafe you manage, to battling ghosts in dungeons, to planting and harvesting crops. By collecting Happy Stickers, you can access new areas, including Chip and Dale’s Workshop. This game will keep you busy for weeks.

God of War Collection

Platform: PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Sony

ESRB rating: Mature

Price: $29.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop

God of War Collection brings the PlayStation 2 classics God of War and God of War II to the Vita. Gamers guide a musclebound, tattooed, ashen-white anti-hero named Kratos as he slays his way through a Greek mythology-type world. Wielding such weapons as Apollo’s flame, a barbarian hammer, the blade of Olympus and various magical attacks, Kratos battles Medusas, cyclopean beasts, minotaurs and other tough enemies, including the God of War himself, Ares. There are puzzles to solve as well.

The running, jumping, hack-and-slash action is third-person 3-D at its finest, but the game is a brutally intense bloodbath, featuring over-the-top violence, a protagonist with ambiguous morals, and gore and nudity to spare. Clearly, this one’s not for the kids.

The LEGO Movie Videogame

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Price: $19.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Wal-Mart

When The LEGO Movie hit theaters in February, critics and audiences alike were pleasantly surprised that the film was much more than a simple toy tie-in — it actually had heart and soul. Less surprising was The LEGO Movie Videogame, which plays a lot like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, released last year.

Despite (or because of) the familiarity, kids (and many of their parents) will enjoy the game, in which players control Emmet, an average Joe who was mistaken for The Special, a Master Builder who must save the world. While journeying through 15 levels, plus various side missions, Emmet battles villains, collects LEGO studs, builds helpful items and encounters such playable pop-culture heroes as Batman and Gandalf.

MLB 14 The Show

Platform: PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Sony

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $39.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop, Target

If the basement-dwelling Texas Rangers are too depressing to watch, start your own baseball season with MLB 14 The Show, the ninth game in the popular series. In addition to updated rosters, the game features a new Online Franchise mode, in-game currency (for purchasing training points and the like) and year-to-year saves, the latter of which lets you carry your progress over to future versions of The Show.

In the revamped Road to the Show mode, players can create a player and advance from the minors to the majors. For those who find the sport a tad on the slow side, you can enable Quick Counts, in which each at-bat begins deep into the count.

OlliOlli

Platform: PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Roll7

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $12.99

Downloadable via: store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com

Dating back to 720 Degrees (1986) in the arcades, Skate or Die (1988) for the NES and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999) for the original PlayStation, skateboarding video games have a rich and enjoyable history. One of the most recent entries in the genre is OlliOlli, a fun side-scroller with retro visuals and fast gameplay. Controls are simple (if nuanced), as the X button handles speed, the analog stick lets you pull off more than 120 tricks (flips, spins, grinds, etc.) and the shoulder buttons alter said tricks with twists and turns.

A special Daily Grind mode gives you worldwide access to the same level each day for 24 hours, challenging you to top the online leaderboard.

Shovel Knight

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Yacht Club Games

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $14.99

Downloadable via: www.nintendo.com

If you have a lot of Facebook friends who are heavily into gaming, you’ve likely seen praise for Shovel Knight, a retro-style, side-scrolling platformer that borrows from such classic Nintendo NES titles as Castlevania, DuckTales, Mega Man and Zelda II. Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, the game puts the player, as the title suggests, in control of a shovel-wielding knight, battling enemies and digging up treasure.

Shovel Knight, a high-jumping hero, works his way through an impressive variety of colorful areas, including plains, a village, a stranded ship and a clockwork tower. Spot-on controls, tough (but fair) challenges, charming old-school graphics and a certain sense of familiarity combined with new gameplay elements make this one a winner.

Tomodachi Life

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB rating: Everyone

Price: $34.99

Available at: Best Buy, GameStop, Target

If you enjoy such open-ended life-development simulations as Animal Crossing and The Sims, you should get a kick out of Tomodachi Life, a game that is as quirky as its Japanese title. Players create a bunch of Mii characters — family, friends, teachers, celebrities or anyone else — and watch and interact with them as they eat, go shopping, argue, play music and games, try on outfits, develop friendships, fall in love, and much more.

As you facilitate the action and problem-solve, Miis often behave in humorous and surprising ways. Earning experience points lets you add more items and characters, increasing the whimsical, unpredictable nature of the game.

Brett Weiss is the author of the “Classic Home Video Games” book series and of the forthcoming “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987.”

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