Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
This game was named handheld game of the year in my best of 2011 awards. It is none other than Super Mario 3D Land. Starting off, the game is deceptively easy, while also showing some intelligent level design. However, once you finish the first eight worlds, you are greeted with eight more much more fiendishly crafted worlds. Super Mario 3D Land is a near perfect combination of the traditional 2D Super Mario Bros. gameplay and the 3D movement of games like Super Mario 64 and Sunshine. It's so easy to come back to the game, finding missing Star Coins, doing levels with and without the Tanooki Suit, aiming for top times, reaching the top of each flagpole in each level, and mastering Mario and Luigi's move sets. I would love to see a sequel with ideas that were cut out from the game a la Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Rayman Origins (Multi)
I am currently in the middle of a cooperative play-through with my older brother. While I don't believe this total platforming package is better than New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Rayman Origins is still in the upper echelon of run and jump games. It's always fun to make daredevil dives for Lums and medallions, to dash through levels as fast as possible, to slap your co-op partner across the screen, and to assign tasks to a friend or family member for maximum efficiency. From the standard levels which are already challenging to the precision platforming-based chest-chasing levels, Rayman Origins has a lot of platforming peril that it throws in players' ways. On top of the gameplay glory is an art style that is picture perfect. Sure, it's off-putting to many people in an age where the broodier and bloodier the better, but for those who aren't so shallow, Rayman Origins makes for a thumping good time.
Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)
When I had my Xbox 360, one of my favorite downloadable titles on it was Banjo-Kazooie, a Nintendo 64 classic. It was great on the Nintendo 64, but it was made even better on Xbox Live Arcade. Not only was the game in glorious high-definition, but one of the annoying elements of the N64 version was remedied in the XBLA game. In the N64 game, you had to collect all 100 musical notes in a given level in one go, and if you died, you had to start from the beginning again. In the XBLA game, you can die as many times as you want, and your musical note total in a level will remain the same. No dying in the engine room of Rusty Bucket Bay and having to restart your note collection. I find Banjo-Kazooie to be a game that is mightily more marvelous than the game it was modeled after, Super Mario 64. There is a better arsenal of moves, I enjoy the presentation (music and aesthetics) more, I like the levels, and I just adore Banjo's first adventure more.
Perfect Dark (N64, XBLA)
I have a bit of a conundrum. I want to play Perfect Dark on Xbox Live Arcade, but my 360 got the dreaded Red Ring of Death (hey, y'know, things break). I don't want to buy a new one because of one game. Regardless, I still play the original Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64, despite knowing that the Xbox Live Arcade remake is Perfect Dark perfected with a steadier framerate and adding online play to an already-superior-to-most-games multiplayer mode. The game took the GoldenEye 007 approach to its missions with multiple objectives that needed to be completed. Failing an objective generally meant failing the mission. But by far the coolest part of Perfect Dark which I already mentioned is the Combat Simulator, offering bots (why most Halo games can't even do that is beyond me), loads of customization, large-scale and greatly designed maps, and much, much more. It is the perfect first-person shooter to me.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
While there is some slowdown in the PSP port of Final Fantasy Tactics, this game is my preferred means to play the classic PlayStation era turn-based RPG because of the added playable characters, portability, and ability to shut the game off and resume it at a later time with a flip of the PSP's On and Off switch. Final Fantasy Tactics is already a brilliant game, and the aforementioned features of The War of the Lions make for an even more brilliant title. I adore nearly everything about the game: the job system, the means to learn abilities, magic, and summons, the story, the plot twists, the music, the fierce battles, and so much more. Perhaps the only thing I don't like about the game is saving in the middle of two battles only to find out that you're severely underleveled for the second battle and are screwed since you already saved and can't go back to the world map. Curse you, Wiegraf!
Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)
Perhaps I'm returning to this game to celebrate the pink puffball's 20th anniversary, but Kirby's latest adventure, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, took place on the Nintendo Wii, and like Rayman Origins, it offered up to four players being able to join in with some platforming fun. The normal campaign is relatively easy to complete, sure, but once you reach the Extra campaign, things get much more challenging. Kirby and friends have less health to work with, alternate dimension areas scroll much faster, and bosses become difficult. Kirby's Return to Dream Land sports a colorful and whimsical art style, though it does not compare to that seen in Kirby's Epic Yarn. Despite this, Return to Dream Land is the better game, and honestly one of the better games in the entire series. Playing it alone or with a friend is quite the treat, and because of this, it is a reason I keep coming back to it.
Animal Crossing series (GCN, DS, Wii)
The above pictures came from my old Animal Crossing: City Folk data.
Animal Crossing is an odd franchise. Never before did doing ordinary things and chores seem so much fun. Collecting bugs, catching fish, planting and watering flowers, paying off a debt to a raccoon, upgrading a house, renovating the interior of said house with wallpaper, flooring, and furniture, making friends with the locals, and doing a whole bunch of other tasks might sound menial to the casual observer, but once you get hooked into the world of Animal Crossing, it can be hard to stop. City Folk was slammed by some by being too similar to Wild World. Well, Nintendo took that criticism to heart as their upcoming 3DS game is changing things greatly. As a big fan of Nintendo's life simulation game, I eagerly anticipate the newest entry in the Animal Crossing series.
There you have seven more games that despite having new games in my collection to review, I still occasionally come back to. If you missed a previous installment, check out one of these past three parts:
Classics I Can Return To - Part One
Classics I Can Return To - Part Two
Classics I Can Return To - Part Three