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Video Game Of The Month January 2023

game of the month super smash bros

Welcome to another issue of the greatest blogging series on the planet. No personal bias there, just sweet, sweet facts.

As usual, I have scoured the deepest recesses and the darkest depths to bring you a small collection of games that I think you should check out for one reason or another. And by that I of course mean I annoyed, bribed and coerced my fellow bloggers into sending me contributions for this feature. It is always worth it though, seeing what games others are spending their time on and what they think of them is one of the most interesting parts of my month. So, let’s dive in!

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Paul Blyth

Yeah I know, I’m very late to the party on this one. But that could be said about many, many games on the Switch. The Nintendo Switch had already been knocking about for three years before I finally got one. So, the last couple of years have been a delicate balancing act of playing new games, while catching up on ones I missed.

Admittedly Super Smash Bros Ultimate fell by the wayside as I’m not the biggest fan of beat ‘em ups. I love Mortal Kombat, but mainly for the fatalities and the story. Tekken hasn’t held my interest since Tekken 3 (which I absolutely adore to this day) and Street Fighter hasn’t been the same since the Super Street Fighter and Street Fighter Alpha days.

I can’t quite put my finger on why fighting games fell out of my favour, but it probably has something to do with each games’ roster being chopped up and sold as DLC. Super Smash Bros Ultimate doesn’t have this problem. Yes, there are two DLC packs, each containing 5 new fighters each and, together, they cost as much as the main game, which is insane. But where Smash Bros differs from other fighting games is its main game roster is huge, and I mean huge. A grand total of 72 fighters are available, 64 of which are unlocked through good old fashioned game progression. All of the classic Nintendo faces are here as well as familiar faces from other popular franchises to keep things fresh.

Me and my eldest are 200 matches in and still haven’t got the full roster, so longevity is also not a problem here. There are several game modes and challenges to undertake, most of which I still haven’t got round to playing as the standard “Smash” mode is so addictive and enjoyable for up to 8 players (local or online) that the other modes haven’t had a look in.

It’s not just the roster that dips into Nintendo’s history, there are several arenas each with a unique gimmick that makes each one a joy to battle on. Not to mention the huge number of power-ups that rain down on the combatants. Perhaps you’ll grab an invincibility star from Super Mario or a hammer from the original 8-bit Donkey Kong to send your opponent flying. Or maybe you’ll pick up a Pokeball containing one of 30 Pokemon to help you in battle. Every fight is non-stop chaos, but it never becomes overwhelming or too distracting and keeping track of your character while everything around you explodes is fairly easy.

So, if you’re looking for a fun fighting game with a mind-boggling number of modes, fighters and arenas, then put Super Smash Bros Ultimate on your wishlist, you won’t be disappointed. It’s also a fantastic addition to any party.

Mass Effect Legendary EditionSophie Jones

The Mass Effect Trilogy is my favourite gaming series to date. I have played each one more than once because clearly, I have too much time on my hands. With 2023 underway, I decided it was time to jump back into Commander Shepherds boots and do it all over again. This time I’m equipped with Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

For those unfamiliar with Mass Effect, it is a game where players take on the role of Commander Shepherd. Set in space this adventure will have you exploring the galaxy, fighting an unknown threat, and shooting most things on sight. It’s a storytelling masterpiece and great for those who love roleplaying games. But Mass Effect was first released in 2007, which didn’t make it the nicest to look at or play.

The Legendary Edition has upscaled Mass Effect 1 and brought it into the modern age. It’s a dream to play and the clunky controls of this classic are much better to handle. The edition doesn’t just include a revamped Mass Effect 1 but also Mass Effect 2 and 3! This means you can have all your Mass Effect games in one place. Something I am far too excited about.

It’s worth noting, this isn’t just your usual remaster. The developers haven’t just upped the resolution. This game allows new players to access Mass Effect for the first time and enjoy it without battling old systems. For super fans, like me, it’s a perfect way to relive the trilogy all over again.

As a PC player I wasn’t sure if Mass Effect Legendary Edition would deliver the same impact on PlayStation. Especially as I use a PS4. But this game still looks beautiful on this system and runs great.

Right, there is a galaxy out there for me to save, so I best get back to it.

death standing

High On Life – Nick Welford

After much pestering from my son, I finally watched Rick and Morty. I found the series quite entertaining so it was with interest that I approached High on Life, a game from some of the people involved in Rick and Morty. If you have ever watched Rick and Morty you will know what to expect.

That is a lot of humour both of the low and higher brow variety. In fact, I was surprised just how rude High on Life got in places. There is lots of low hanging fruit, aliens with various protrusions that look more like human bits that are normally covered up. A metric ton of swearing and profanity and aliens and humans discussing their sex lives in incredible detail.

The gameplay is entertaining but not amazing. There are five guns which have a couple of functions each, but one of those you only get to use once. Aiming down sights is only a thing on one of the guns as that button is used for the alt functions often. On the other hand, you also get to wield a psychotic knife. Controls are a little odd and weirdly the crouch button is on the down d-pad. Which feels odd, but then is rarely used so I guess it doesn’t matter.

What sets High on Life apart and made it a game I saw through to the end, was taking part in a Rick and Morty adventure. That’s really what the game feels like. Blasting through levels of aliens with little thought and crazy reasons. The gameplay is more than enough to make this feel fun. If I were reviewing the game I would probably be a little harsher. Yet the I returned to High on Life time and time again until I’d seen it through to the end.

God Of War RagnarökLauren Skinner

When you look at Kratos, Greek God of War, what do you see? A battle-hardened, brutal man with immense strength—certainly. A serious man with a dark past—that’s clear. Scars, armour, and weapons aplenty—you got it.

What about a devoted father?

You are Kratos, surviving in the frostbitten forests of Midgard as it succumbs to Fimbulwinter. Wishing to avoid Ragnarök and hide from their enemies, Kratos is training his son Atreus…until Thor and Odin arrive inviting Atreus to Asgard. Protecting Atreus will be harder than ever.

What made God of War 2018 so special was how it evolved the archetypal powerful fighter character into a person with complex emotions and relationships. The sequel is an equally moving game, progressing from a tale of a father struggling to connect with his young son to…well, a father struggling to connect with his son as he becomes a man.

Usually, stoic Kratos is hard on Atreus, but his love for the boy shines through with every interaction. Atreus knows it, but destiny pulls, threatening to split the two in a touching and devastating tale. Can Atreus change what is to come, or is the future doomed to happen as it is written?

The old characters are back in delightful force. Mimir the dismembered head is the wisecracking conscience on Kratos’ hip; Freya is as merciless and magnificent as ever; the two dwarves, Brok and Sindri, are delightful. New faces, like Angrboda and Týr, are fully realised and complicated. Characters like these are standout examples of why players fall deeply in love with story-led video games.

The unique combat is what made me fall in love with the revitalised series’ gameplay in the first place. Kratos’ axe and blades have individual strategies and combos and are used creatively to solve puzzles throughout the realms. The companion system is useful and easy to pick up, even though it’s a bit of a context shift whenever you need to play as bow-centric Atreus. The graphics are just as stunning as ever, and the Nine Realms are spectacular with distinct environments, struggles, and enemies.

It’s a love story between father and son. It just also happens to be about gods, war, vengeance, prophesy, and the end of the world. You know, standard family stuff.

And if you can play this game without yelling “BOY!” in your deepest growl every time your partner wanders out of the room, you’re stronger than I.

Death StrandingDan Hilton

My recommendation this month is a game that I never expected I would ever write about. Or even enjoy. I was part of the initial crowd that got very excited with all the initial teaser trailers for Death Stranding. And also, part of the crowd that was let down by the gameplay trailers when they finally came out. How could such an amazing looking story be wrapped around what is essentially a postman simulator? I avoided this game like the plague on its initial release. And I shouldn’t have.

I must admit, the first few hours of the game were slow going for me. But that changed very quickly. As soon as I started unlocking new equipment that I could fabricate at any waystation; as soon as I started unlocking new means of transportation; and as soon as I started unlocking new ways of protecting myself: I became oddly addicted. Addicted to a game that I had originally actively ran in the opposite direction of.

If you know me, then you know that I am a sucker for narrative in games. And Death Stranding delivers (postman pun unintended). In the main story at least. It is just such a strange and bizarre story that I am constantly wondering what kind of mad medication Hideo Kojima was taking when producing the concept for this game. I am about halfway through the game (I think) and I still don’t really know what is going on. Something about death no longer being death. Something about a beach which acts as some sort of limbo. For some people, but not everyone. There are weird ghosts everywhere that can turn into slop monsters. They only appear in the rain, which also speeds up the time of the objects it lands on. And there is some random guy who keeps asking me to deliver pizza to him. And you do all this with a baby strapped to your chest who shares its memories with you. What the hell is this game? I have no idea. And I love it!

I was also surprised to see that Death Stranding 2 is available for pre-order so soon after its release trailer. I am definitely tempted!

Credit Roll

So, there you have it. Another 5 games that we think are worth checking out. I was initially sent the High on Life submission with an advisory about the current developments of Justin Roiland. I think it is similar to the whole situation happening at the moment with people trying to boycott Hogwarts Legacy due to how J.K Rowling presents her beliefs and opinions. Usually I end these articles with a positive message, but this time it will end in some advice I feel like many need to hear.

Do not dismiss the hard work of entire companies and teams because of the actions of one person. It is easy to target certain people and dismiss products that are associated with them. But these people are not the ones spending their working lives to create these games for you to enjoy. Making video games is hard. It takes hundreds of people working tirelessly in dozens of different departments over thousands of hours with the one goal of making something for you to enjoy. To write that off over one person is just, well, its just a real shame.

With that out of the way, I hope you have a great month of gaming, and I will see you in the next feature!