As the heat index seems to constantly read in the triple digits — thank you, Mother Nature, for reminding us what a desert feels like — now is the time to sit back, relax, blast the AC and play some video games. July is a bit lighter on the titles, but the games coming out are ones to be excited for. For the first time I can remember, most of the heavy hitters are actually on a handheld: the 3DS! Way to go, Nintendo, it looks like that nifty little console of yours is really hitting the mark. Now let us do battle by hitting the beat to Sephiroth’s theme!
What? Isn’t that how you do battle?
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (3DS)
It’s not a prequel. It’s not an in-between stories-quel. It’s an actual sequel! Um… sort of? Taking place after “Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded” — which technically takes place after “Kingdom Hearts 2” — the game features Sora and Riku as they take part in a test to improve their skills with the keyblade. If you’ve played “Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep” you’ll recognize the Mark of Mastery test, it’s the same test that Terra and Aqua participated in. Now we all know how happy the story of “Birth By Sleep” was — this is sarcasm, of course — so who knows what’s going to happen to Sora and Riku. Hopefully, we don’t lose Riku again, we just got the boy back in… 2006 with “Kingdom Hearts 2?” Has it really been that long since these two have been together?!
New worlds, new characters — like the crew from “The World Ends With You” — and adorable Pokemon-esque creatures called Dream Eaters, this game will definitely keep KH fans happy until they finally, finally announce “Kingdom Hearts 3,” where Sora will be a thirty-something year old man who still wears ridiculous baggy shorts, uses keys as weapons, and whose got too many people inside of his heart to function properly.
Oh, and Riku will probably be missing, again!
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)
What’s cuter than a chibi Cloud? How about a chibi Cloud who battles enemies by hitting beats in time to catchy “Final Fantasy” music? Now take his cuteness and spread it out to all of the protagonists of the “Final Fantasy” franchise along with their villains. If you’re not saying aaaaaawwwwww to that overload of adorableness, then you truly have no soul. I’m kidding, of course, you just have a fraction of a soul and you might enjoy tormenting puppies by pretending to throw the ball when, in reality, you hide it behind your back.
In the same vain as games like “Elite Beat Agents,” “Theatrhythm Final Fantasy” is a catchy little title that’s pure addiction. Surprisingly, there actually is a plot for the game, but let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s all about the music and the screen tapping beats (the plot — if you really are curious — is about a space that exists between Chaos and Cosmos called Rhythm, which gives birth to a crystal that Chaos disrupts and… yeah, it’s like caring about the plot for a “Katamari” game).
The Last Story (Wii)
Hopefully you haven’t traded in your Wii just yet. If you remember “Xenoblade Chronicles,” that beautiful and cool jrpg that came out in Japan in 2010 but just hit the U.S. in 2012, you probably already know what “The Last Story” is. A gorgeous jrpg with a little bit of RTS, a little bit of third-person shooter, a large world to explore, and an online co-up and competitive modes — yes, on the Wii, I know right?! This game had been given high praises back when it came out in Japan in 2011. Unfortunately, gamers in the U.S. had to miss out…
While it’s great that the game is finally coming out, and even better that I can make use of my Wii again, one has to wonder once again what took so long to bring these great games here as the Wii begins to go through its final days. Besides the Kirby compilation and maybe “Lego: Lord of the Rings,” there’s not much left to be excited for. Though I suppose with the Wii U being backwards compatible, owning “The Last Story” won’t be a waste.
Heroes of Ruin (3DS)
Rpgs seem to be the name of the game for the month of July. It’s as if developers knew that it would be hotter than the late afternoons of hell and that we’d all want to stay inside for hours and hours. It’s going to get more and more difficult for an action rpg to stand out amongst the rest. Fortunately “Heroes of Ruin” already has a plan. On top of having multiplayer modes, the game will also use StreetPass and SpotPass technology. StreetPass allows players to trade items with one another, while SpotPass will offer daily challenges for an entire year after the game’s release. You can either travel alone, or create an alliance with other mercenaries who are out to find a cure for your dying ruler, Ataraxis. Just be sure to have your 3DS with you at all times, you never know who’s out there on a grand quest… at least… after the weather gets below the hundreds.
Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure (3DS)
Unlike “Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy,” this game has more of a plot that you can sink your teeth into. Part mystery, part rhythm, you take control of a boy named Raphael who, when he’s not being the stylish art thief Phantom R, is busy trying to find his father who disappeared years ago. He finds a bracelet that bares the same symbol of his father’s old coin. As if that weren’t strange enough, he meets a girl named Marie who possesses a violin with the same symbol. What do the symbols mean? And most important, where is Ralph’s father?
As you progress through the game you’ll talk to NPCs, search for clues, gather information, solve puzzles, and do your best to keep up your groove gauge up in the middle of epic battles of musical proportions. Up to two players can play together wirelessly, or you can use StreetPass technology to challenge others for a high score of catchy beats and slick moves.
Risen 2: Dark Waters (PS3/360)
What can make an RPG better? PIRATES! Using the same nameless hero from the first “Risen,” this game is a sequel full of pirate themed environments. The original game was only available on PC and the 360, but for this action-packed sequel PS3 owners can live the life of a pirate. Instead of having classes to choose from, your hero gains glory points while fighting monsters and going on quests. You can use those points to level up your hero, gaining new skills and using a wide variety of weapons — including guns, for the first time. The world itself is what is intriguing to me. Adventures on the high-seas where monsters, voodoo, and even gods exist to give you a run for your booty — see what I did there? Booty? It’s a pirate pun, matey! All right I know it wasn’t funny, o.k.?
The Secret World (PC)
Remember when your mother told you not to watch scary movies because it would give you nightmares? But you watched the scary movie anyway and went to bed thinking that vampires and other terrifying creatures existed? Then your mother would come into your room and reassure you that they weren’t real? In “The Secret World,” your mother is full of crap. Vampires and other supernatural creatures absolutely exist. In this modern day MMORPG, your hero is in the middle of a secret war between good and evil where demons, monsters, and even zombies are one-hundred percent real. You’ll travel to different worlds, both real — London, New York — and mythological — Agartha, the legendary city within Hollow Earth — as you try and stop the evils of “The Secret World” from leaking into the normal world. The last thing your mother wants is to tell her children that there are, indeed, monsters in the closet — unless if they’re those loveable Pixar ones.
Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time (PSP)
I swear it’s like the PSP and Wii are having a race to see who dies first. However, I think the PSP will be the first to say farewell. After “Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time” — unless if something really random gets announced soon — all that’s left are sports games before the PSP is put to rest. For now, it’s time to enjoy one last tactics rpg. This is one of those games where angels are the bad guys. They’re out to oppress humanity and it’s up to a young man named Crevaniel to stop them. With unique dungeons, over forty endings, fast-paced combat, magic rings that transform into a variety of weapons, and some good ol’ fashion dating sim elements “Growslanser: Wayfarer of Time” will give you a reason to turn your PSP on again. And if you don’t have a PSP, steal a friend’s, they probably won’t miss it for a long while.
NCAA Football 2013 (multi)
Are you ready for some football? College football? Before you hit the pros in August you have to run your paces through the stadiums filled with alumni, mascots, and that grand marching band. Summer marks the beginning of sports game fever — though “Tiger Woods” seems to launch earlier and earlier each year. Football is the sport of choice in July and, later, August. With new gameplay features and better graphics, this will keep any sports gamer satisfied… at least until Madden, then Fifa, then NBA… need I go on?
“Myst” is being ported over to the 3DS this month. When the game had first been announced it was said to have all of the features of the original, only with 3D support. However, after doing some digging, it looks like a lot of the game is played on the bottom screen which… doesn’t do 3D. So… will there be 3D support still or not? With the game already existing on the original DS, what are the perks of having the 3DS version? “Prototype 2” is finally making its way onto the PC while “Sims 3 Diesel Stuff” is yet another expansion to the popular franchise. And finally, as if mocking our heat wave, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” is coming out in all of its glamorous, frozen, cold glory. Thanks a lot, jackasses.