What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Illustration for article titled What Are You Playing This Weekend?
Screenshot: EA Sports

The weekend is for realizing that holy shit, the summer is almost over, the new Madden is out, nothing feels like it’s really happening anymore. Hooray.

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It’s that time of year again, somehow. The time when I set down a wonderful little puzzle platformer like Hello Games’ The Last Campfire, trading it for the sport I stopped playing in high school because it made me miss the Transformers cartoon. It’ll be a weekend of me setting the opposing team’s difficulty far too low. A weekend of scores never seen before in a real football game. I will play Madden 21 passionately for approximately two days, and then I will stop playing until the Super Bowl, at which point I will do another weekend while eating chips and guac. I know myself.

What are you playing? Yes, you, with the skin.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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DISCUSSION

tillmandesign
Randy Randerson

I’ve been revisiting some Gamecube classics lately, and this week it was Mario Sunshine and Twilight Princess. I have a lot of fond memories of Mario Sunshine from my teenage years, especially for the insane acrobatics you could pull off with the FLUDD, but I’m surprised to be having a very different experience now. The game feels incredibly unpolished for a Mario game, which makes sense as its development was rushed in order to get a Mario game on the ailing console, but you can really feel it. The level design is fairly weak across the board and worst of all, unintuitive in many places. Like in Mario 64, each shine sprite creates a modified instance of a level with things rearranged slightly for that particular challenge, but the level design is often so convoluted that they have to blatantly highlight the path with a series of arrow signs. It feels like the levels needed another round of design critiques and QA, which is never something I’ve felt with a Mario game. Worse, there have been quite a few challenges that have been a real struggle to complete due to unclear directions, and a handful I’ve just quit out of frustration. Doesn’t help that the camera is downright bad, and somehow feels worse than Mario 64's. It’s too bad, since I was as excited as anyone else for the chance to replay this if it gets ported to Switch, but now I see that if that’s the case Nintendo should make some gameplay tweaks to at least get it to a solid level of quality. Really it just made me want to replay Mario Odyssey.

On the other hand, Twilight Princess has been surprisingly enjoyable. While I have loved the Zelda series my whole life and played most of them as they released, in the past few years I’ve really struggled to go back to the traditional 3d Zelda playstyle, as it feels increasingly stale and rigid compared to modern games (BotW mostly resolved these issues in my mind, but also made it even harder to go back to older games). I was surprised that I was quickly bouncing off the ports of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess on the Wii U at the time. But something’s really working for me this time. The somber tone and stark visuals work well to set the game apart, and it feels like it inherited a lot of the strangeness and darkness from Majora’s Mask. And while its legacy seems to be that people think it leans too heavily on Ocarina as an imitation, I’d argue it’s actually surpassing Ocarina in most ways - the dungeons are intricate and wildly creative, the combat and weapons are well-implemented, the world feels large and wild, etc. The game even does a better job of investigating the personal burden of being a chosen hero, whereas Ocarina only ever implied how much it really takes from Link. So it’s great, I’m really enjoying it.