Miscellany: Last Minute Holiday Gifts, Part 3 - PC and Video Games
(It's Christmas Eve, of course, but thanks to the magic of on-demand downloads, there's still time to give the gamer in your life a great title from 2014)
Bravely Default, Square Enix, Nintendo 3DS - The last few Final Fantasy games have deviated pretty severely from the formula that won so many fans in the 1990s and early 2000s - put together a ragtag group of colorful characters and save the world - but "Bravely Default" is a welcome return to form. If you're hankering for the classic "jobs" system, big honking nonlinear areas to explore, and sidequests galore, you'll find them in this game.
WHO IS IT FOR? Any JRPG fan who felt burned when they started releasing MMO games under the FF brand.
Luftrausers, Vlambeer, PS3/Vita and PC - Some games are hard to explain, but Luftrausers is not one of them. This is basically a Germanic Geometry Wars, done up in a pixelated retro style that recalls the Atari era. Much like the classic game "Time Pilot," you fly an airplane around an infinitely scrolling battlefield, blowing up as many enemy planes, boats, and dirigibles as possible before you die. The controls remind me a lot of the NES game Solar Jetman; you rotate your ship with the analog stick, and your direction matters when using your weapons and your throttle.
WHO IS IT FOR? Anyone who's ever entered their initials with pride on an arcade machine.
South Park: The Stick of Truth, Obsidian Entertainment, PS3/Xbox 360 and Windows - "Stick of Truth" is one of those mascot-based RPGs - sort of a raunchier version of something like Super Mario RPG. Like its kin, how much you'll enjoy it depends on your affinity for the source material. In this case, the game looks, sounds, and feels exactly like a South Park episode (no mean feat), so much so that a casual observer wouldn't even notice it's a game. The actual role-playing portion of the game is pretty standard (your party size is limited to two, and there aren't a ton of items or skills to worry about) but it's just engrossing enough to provide a good framework for South Park zaniness.
WHO IS IT FOR? People who find fart noises funny.