30-day VGC: Game with the best graphics or art style

I can easily give the award in this category to Yoshi’s Wooly World. Screenshots actually don’t do this game justice. It’s such a treat to see this game in motion while playing it. Everything is cute and the fluffy yarn world just feels great to play in. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this is also a solid platformer as well. Bring a friend, too, as the co-op play and figuring out puzzles together is a lot of fun.

©2015 Nintendo

30-day VGC: A game sequel that disappointed me

Honestly I’ve had a pretty good time with most sequels that I’ve played, so this was a tough one for me. While not truly a sequel, I’m going to choose Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire as a follow-up game that disappointed me. I’m a big fan of the entire series of Pokémon games, and the 6th generation Pokémon X & Y was definitely my favorite before the latest installment, Sun & Moon. It was the first game that featured fully 3D environments and Pokémon, and they made a lot of quality of life improvements that made the game a lot more accessible and a lot less grindy than previous entries in the franchise.

Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, on the other hand, feels a bit regressive. There are some really cool additions like the DexNav, but overall the design lacks the cohesion that was present in X & Y. It’s easy to get lost when you’re trying to remember where to go for the next plot point, and you end up seeing a lot of the same pokémon repeated over and over. I think in some cases they just tried too hard to stay true to the original Ruby & Sapphire, and that meant throwing out some of the evolution of the series in the intervening decade.

Whereas I have almost a thousand hours on my X & Y game and over a hundred on my new Sun & Moon cartridge, I barely managed to force myself to get through a single playthrough of Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, so I think that definitely qualifies as a relative disappointment.

30-day VGC: Game with the best story

I’ve played so many really good games over the years, especially RPGs, so it’s hard to pick one stand out story that’s better than the rest. If I had to choose just one, though, I’m going to go with Dragon Age: Inquisition. The main story is pretty cool in its own right and wraps up loose ends from the DLC from Dragon Age II, but I especially love getting involved in all the individual stories of your companion characters. In particular, I enjoyed getting to know Sera, because when you first meet her she seems like a completely random nutcase, but the more you peel back the onion of her story, you realize that she’s a very complicated person. Blackwall’s story comes in a very close second.

©2014 EA/BioWare

30-day VGC: My favorite genre

I’ve been gaming for a number of years now, and over the course of time my tastes have changed. Ever since I first experienced Final Fantasy on the NES, my favorite genre was RPGs. I loved the 8- and 16-bit JRPGs, and when I started gaming more on PCs I found a long list of great RPGs, especially from EA/BioWare. Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect are all full of great gaming memories for me.

Dragon Warrior, one of the earlier JRPGs I played. ©1986 Enix.

Interestingly, as I’ve gotten older I’ve actually started to appreciate more action-oriented titles. I’m not as into the slow-paced, turn-based mechanics of earlier RPGs and would rather play a good action-RPG. I think games like Borderlands and Destiny really turned me on to the idea of pasting RPG-like mechanics on to other genres, and I really enjoy the hybrid approaches now.

Gaige is my favorite Borderlands character. ©2012 Gearbox Software/2K Games.