The other game I played while I was on paternity leave was Crystal Crisis - a game I had been looking forward to for at least a year now. The super short version is that Crystal Crisis is an indie version of Super Puzzle Fighter. I mean really. Other than the fact that it's got Nicalis characters instead of Capcom ones, this is totally just Puzzle Fighter. Which is good! That's exactly what I wanted. Well, I mean, I wanted Puzzle Fighter. But if this is what I can get my hands on, then I'm still happy. It's a fine substitute.
I first discovered Puzzle Fighter about a decade ago when I picked up the GBA port on a whim. It soon turned into one of my absolute favorite GBA carts and over the years, I played (I think?) every port of the game. Which is not to say that I'm great at the game, but just that I've played a lot of it over the years.
I've been on a real puzzle kick lately. And the Switch is a fantastic platform for puzzle games. Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris 99, and Lumines have all gotten plenty of play on Nintendo's killer console in my house. And especially now with a newborn in the house, short pick-up-and-play style games just make a lot of sense for me right now.
Puzzle Fighter/Crystal Crisis, if you aren't aware is a game where duos of gems drop down and the goal is to cluster them up by color to make bigger gems out of them until eventually dropping down an exploding gem of the same color to drop garbage blocks on the opponent's board. It's simple, but there's so much room for strategy. This ranges from how big you make your gems before unleashing them, to how each character drops different patterns of garbage. And in the case of Crystal Crisis there's added dept due to each character having an Attack and Defense special that can be executed when a bar is filled up from bursting enough gems.
Crystal Crisis does FEEL like an indie version of its role model, though. It's not as slick, even with the HD visuals. Loading times are a bit annoying as well. I did find that changing the view of the game board from a more modern 3D look to a classic 2D appearance made a huge difference in how well I played, though. So definitely look into the options menu.
There is plenty of content here which is appreciated. For instance there's a full story mode with branching paths. And of course there's a basic arcade mode and online modes (which I haven't jumped into yet). The more you play, the more you unlock - including characters naturally. Right now I'm into using Solange from Code Of Princess. And it's cool to see such a neat crossover roster. There's Astro Boy and Isaac and Note (Cave Story) and some other anime stuff and even Johnny Turbo who you might remember from Turbografx ads in the 90's. I don't know what Akuji The Demon is, but the characters and backgrounds make it look like some kind of Castlevania knockoff?
Anyway, I love puzzle games and while it might be tough for any new puzzle game to dethrone Tetris 99 for me in the foreseeable future, I'm super happy to have another new (and good) puzzler on Switch. And if Capcom can't get off their butts to give us a proper Puzzle Fighter, at least this has turned out to be a fun replacement. I definitely applaud Nicalis for the interesting stuff that they've been publishing on Switch since it launched.
I didn't actually play Wind Waker until 2007. This was five years after its release, but it still felt like a new game to me then. I had taken a bit of a hiatus from gaming while I was in college. But in 2007 I got back into gaming - hard - and haven't looked back since. Anyway, for my birthday that year my wife got me a Gamecube (which had been my console of choice before the hiatus) along with a stack of new games. But Wind Waker took precedence to everything else. I was obsessed with this beautiful new cell shaded Zelda adventure.
I've played and replayed the game many times over the years since. It's become one of my absolute Zelda games of all time. I'm not really sure about ranking, but let's just say that this, Breath Of The Wild and A Link To The Past would constitute my Top 3.
So when I finally got around to picking up a Wii U, the HD port of Wind Waker was the first game I bought for it. There was just no question of which game I'd want to test out this new (to me) console. Incidentally, it's a great time to be a Wii U collector right now. I don't think anybody's caught on yet, but you can get the good stuff for cheap. I grabbed Wind Waker (reminder: one of the best games ever made) for like fifteen bucks.
Anyway, it's been sitting on my shelf for months now. It was comforting to know it was there, ready to be played when I needed it.
Which brings us to now. My wife gave birth a couple of weeks ago and accordingly, our lives have changed completely. Gone are the nightly gaming binges. Which is fine. I had my years of staying up too late for Zelda. Now I'm staying up too late for my baby.
I took a couple of weeks off of work to spend time with my wife and our new addition. And in those two weeks I found very little time to even think about playing games. Instead, any lulls seemed like a good time for sleeping.
But one afternoon while my girls both napped, I found a quiet couple hours to play SOMETHING. And it dawned on me: what better game than Wind Waker? Those soft cell shaded visuals. The calming sea. An innocent child take on Link. The comfort of a game I've played so many times before. It was perfect.
And so I played through that same little island opening that I have so many times before. I hopped on a pirate ship and snuck around a fortress inside a barrel. I got a boat and bought a sail and went off on an adventure. Wind Waker never lets me down. It's just such a charming game.
I played through the first major dungeon - the one with all the lava and the big centipede boss at the end. To be honest, this is all like riding a bike. It's familiar in the most comforting sense. Given how limited my gaming time will be in the near future, it could take me months to actually finish this game. But that's fine. I'm in no rush. I don't even know if I'll stick with it right now. Really, all I needed was those few hours.