Looks like it's been about a year and a half since I've blogged about a Just Dance game, but I realized that I'd forgotten to blog about playing through the spin-off games Dance on Broadway and Just Dance Kids. There isn't actually a lot to say about either of those two games other than Dance on Broadway ups the cheesiness quotient and Just Dance Kids, while not dumbing down the gameplay too much, is definitely geared towards a younger audience and does away with recording high scores altogether.

Anyway, that brings us to the next mainline entry, Just Dance 4. At this point I was faced with a bit of a conundrum about which system to play the game on since it was released for both of Wii and Wii U (among other systems), but I went with the Wii U version since it added a couple of new features. First, though, in general the game is the same old Just Dance gameplay that we know and love, and by now the aesthetics and inherent cheesiness have become nostalgic to me and I've pretty much completely embraced them. The tracklist of this particular title has a good amount of variety, and vets will have an easier time picking up the choreography since the choregoraphy tends to fall into somewhat predictable patterns. Along with the core game mode featuring songs with stars you can earn based on your score and a basic achievements system (five possible for each song), Just Dance 4 includes many songs with unlockable alternate choreographies, some of which are fun mashups of previous choreographies as in the previous game, and some with completely different, much more difficult choreographies. Duet and four-person choreographies also make a return and seem to make up a bigger part of the song list than before, and new songs and choreographies are unlocked at a pretty regular clip.

In terms of Wii U specific features, the game does make use of the GamePad in a special "Puppet Master" mode where an observer can pick particular moves to drop in and also select which dancer executed a move the best. I can imagine in certain setting this could be a fun little extra, but otherwise outside of improved visuals it seems like the Wii U and the Wii versions are pretty much the same.

As with many long-running series, Ubisoft doesn't try to reinvent the wheel with Just Dance 4, but the new slate of songs and choreographies is worthwhile. Apparently this was the entry where they changed the scoring so that you don't have to worry about maintaining a continuous streak of perfect movements to maximize your score, which I definitely approve of. I'd probably rank Just Dance 3 a little higher than this entry since that game added more new tweaks to the core gameplay, but this is another solid entry in the ongoing series. It looks like the next entry, Just Dance 2014, is where the series switches over to titling the games after the year, which makes sense since the releases are getting churned out annually. There are three of those on Wii U, so it looks like I'll still have a good reason to keep that system hooked up for a good long while.

After getting through pretty much all the Fire Emblem Awakening DLC not too long ago, I thought it was high time to finally get through the third route of Fire Emblem Fates on 3DS. I'd played through both Birthright and Conquest soon after the games first released, but even though I've been chipping away at it I hadn't quite finished Revelation. Aside from filling in some gaps of the story which weren't really all that interesting to be honest, Revelation isn't much different from the other two games. It's designed to be sort of midway between the two in terms of the difficulty level, and the main difference in terms of the mechanics is that a lot of stages have platforms and such that move on certain turns, which means you have to time your movements accordingly, or waste turns waiting for them to get back into the right position.

Otherwise this route is what I expected, which is Fates' polished game mechanics, but with a huge cast, as it combines the entire casts of both Birthright and Conquest. I always get a kick out of seeing crossovers and the like, and it was fun seeing characters interact who wouldn't be on the same side otherwise, and I focused almost exclusively on Hoshido / Nohr pairs that wouldn't be possible in either of the other two routes. I hadn't really used the eight royal siblings (four from each country) in either of the other two routes before, so that was fun especially since they're generally much stronger than the other characters, even though the only characters they can romance from the other route are the other two royals of the opposite gender. I was able to use a good number of characters I hadn't used in my previous two playthroughs, and it was fun getting to play with them and getting to find out about their kids (most of whom I'd already gotten to know from Fire Emblem Heroes). There is one character who is exclusive to Revelation, Fuga, and I used him a lot, so much so that he was only second to his wife Corrin in terms of being the MVP (number of wins in battle).

All in all a nice finale to the first two parts, although not really all that different from them. I'd forgotten that Fates had its own set of DLC on top of Revelation, so I suppose I should tackle that before starting my next playthrough of the entire trio of routes. Once again there wasn't much opportunity for the children characters to shine in my playthrough of Revelation, let alone get married themselves, so it'll be nice to have a chance to use them more when playing through the DLC. I kind of barreled through this route in order to get through the story, so next time I'll also stop to enjoy the maps more. Whenever that is! ;)

This is going to be a quick review. Although I enjoyed the smartphone release Dr. Mario World when it released last year, I've really gotten to like the game and I've been meaning to write an update on it since my rating of it has improved a lot. Playing that game has reminded me that I've been slowly working my way through all the Dr. Mario games, so I skipped past the SNES release and instead picked up my copy of Dr. Mario 64 in the hopes that it would be a little more interesting and gave it a quick play through.

Dr. Mario 64 serves as a reminder that until Dr. Mario World the series really didn't evolve much at all. The biggest updates to this iteration were the addition of a 4-player versus mode and a story mode that let you pick two between two routes, Dr. Mario's or Wario's. I remember from before that the story in this game is based on Wario Land 3, a game released on Game Boy Color about a year earlier. I'd really enjoyed Wario Land 3 when I played it way back when, and although it's a nice tie-in, the story mode is about as minimal as you'd expect and I'd forgotten nearly all of the enemies from Wario Land 3 anyway. It's nice to have Wario in a starring role, although sadly Luigi wouldn't get the call to join in until quite a bit later.

Despite not really offering much new, the game is still enjoyable. I'm still not really a fan of Dr. Mario's clunky combo system, but you don't actually have to focus on that at all to beat the story mode or when going head to head against the CPU in the regular versus mode. Unlimited continues in the story mode definitely takes the pressure off, and rotating capsules and matching colors as quickly as you can is still a good time. Overall the story mode and 4-player options make this one of the more memorable entries in the series, although at its core it's still not all that different from the NES original.

I'd been interested in checking out Overwatch for a while because it was so popular, and eventually I did buy it for my aging laptop. I dipped into it a bit, but a couple months later it was announced that it would be coming to Switch, so even though I hate double dipping, I made an exception and bought it again in the form of the Overwatch: Legendary Edition. I've avoided most team-based shooters for a good while now, but Splatoon and, I suppose, Fortnite to some extent have gotten me accustomed to a lot of the tropes. It's also interesting to see how Arms' character design and presentation have been influenced by Overwatch.

Anyway, I got into Overwatch around the same time that some people I knew were playing it a lot, so we ended up having a good time playing online together. As with a lot of these games, it's fun to just play casually and experiment with different characters. The game does a great job of providing distinct movesets and personalities for all the characters, and it's a lot of fun to try them out, but I didn't get to try out many of the attacker characters since I didn't want to wait in the queue for those spots. Instead I just focused on playing as tanks and healers, and found that I preferred healers so I could hold back and suport my teammates rather than have the pressure of trying to rack up kills myself. I ended up using Lucio the most, and Zarya was my most used tank, but when I was playing more casually I would also jump around between other characters, including D.Va and Baptiste. It's a little odd that in the regular 6v6 mode you're thrown into different modes (attack, defend, etc.) and don't get to pick, but I guess that forces you to get better at all of them. I also took part in and enjoyed some of the limited time events with their limited modes, such as the anniversary event.

All in all I definitely see the appeal of the game and enjoyed my time with it. I'm still not a huge fan of team-based shooters, but the colorful characters and the range of ways to play make the game fun even when you lose. I don't really feel much motivation to play it with a complete team of random strangers, so if I ever had another group of semi-regular friends to play with I would probably pick it up again. For now I'm happy to set this one aside (until the next seasonal event rolls around at least, haha), and I'm looking forward to the upcoming sequel which will presumably have a single-player campaign and a lot more lore integrated into the game itself rather than relegated to animated shorts, comics, and other media.

Donut County is an indie game that was on my radar, I think because it was regarded as a quirky title, along the lines of Untitled Goose Story, although Donut County preceded Untitled Goose Story by a year, and then someone I know recommended it to me highly so I gave it a go. Anyway, the two games share a similar aesthetic, and a similar sense of light-hearted naughtiness. In this game you take on the role of BK, a raccoon who supposedly works for a doughnut shop, but when people order doughnuts what he actually does is uses his app to place a hole that the player can move around to swallow up objects. Like a sort of inverted Katamari Damacy, as you swallow up objects the hole gets bigger and bigger.

It's a pretty simple premise, and the first few levels are pretty fun: wreaking havoc on an area by swallowing up everything in sight is oddly satisfying. Unfortunately, there's really not much else to the game. There's an overarching story where all the townspeople are trapped at the bottom of a hole and one by one they recount how BK ruined everything with his app, which sets up each level as you play through the experience they describe. But the story is pretty thin, and the game mechanics don't really develop at all. There are occasional times where you'll have to combine objects that you put into the hole (for example, putting water in the hole first in order to move another object), but the puzzle aspect of the game is extremely basic. There are also some frustrating moments that crop up here and there where it's not clear if your logic is off or if you're just not moving an object to exactly the right position.

The construction paper-like aesthetic and the gentle background music make the game fairly relaxing, and there's some nicely humorous flavor text that comes in the form of the "Trashopedia", which lists every item you've swallowed up and updates after every stage you complete. This is a very short game and although everything is a little better than average, this is definitely a case where the game is quite a bit less than the sum of its parts. A little more puzzles and gameply mechanics and a little more in the way of a compelling story would have gone a long way. It's surprising to me that the game got so much acclaim, apparently including Apple's app store "iPhone game of the year" for 2018, but this was a game I had to play one or two levels at a time because it was so mind numbingly repetitive. As a debut game this is a pretty impressive game, but not one that I can recommend to anyone except for young children or other novice gamers.