The Switch version of “Skyward Sword” is visually enhanced and features vital quality of life improvements. Loading times, menus, and mandatory conversations are quicker, speeding up the overall pace. As with all Nintendo Switch games, “Skyward Sword HD” is also optimized for portable play, and it no longer requires motion controls.
As a Wii exclusive, the original “Skyward Sword” made unique use of the console’s motion controls and required an additional device called the Wiimote Plus. These design choices polarized fans who preferred the series’ classic control scheme, but “Skyward Sword HD” gives players the option to choose between motion controls or a new button-only layout.
‘Skyward Sword’ is the beginning of the ‘Legend of Zelda’ storyline
“Skyward Sword” is the first game in “The Legend of Zelda” chronology, giving players background on key story elements that continue to recur throughout the franchise.
Players control Link, a knight in training on a floating island called Skyloft. There, Link and his friend Zelda discover they’ve been chosen to fulfill an ancient legend to save the world. Link journeys back and forth from Skyloft to the world below, exploring new areas of the surface and clearing dungeons to find key items for his quest.
‘Skyward Sword’ mixes classic Zelda dungeon crawling with features that inspired ‘Breath of the Wild’
Like other Zelda games, “Skyward Sword HD” offers a mix of adventure and puzzle solving with a gentle learning curve. “Skyward Sword” separates itself from other games in the series with its incorporation of motion controls, which are optional on the Nintendo Switch.
Players control the direction of Link’s sword slashes by swinging the right Joy-Con controller, or by using the right analog stick. Other weapons like the slingshot and bow can be aimed using motion controls too, and solving certain puzzles requires specific player movements.
Fans of “The Legend of Zelda” will recognize gameplay elements that inspired “Breath of the Wild,” the critically acclaimed title that launched alongside the Switch in 2017. “Skyward Sword” was the first “Zelda” game to feature a stamina meter and a crafting system for improving items. However, some of the mechanics used for platforming and motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” still feel rough around the edges.
A new button-only option makes ‘Skyward Sword’ more accessible, but the motion controls are surprisingly accurate
Adding a button-only controller option to “Skyward Sword HD” makes it work on the portable Switch, but much of the game was designed with motion controls in mind. Puzzles and fights require precise movements, regardless of whether you’re using the controller’s analog stick or waving your arm with a Switch Joy-Con in hand.
Personally, I prefer using button-only controls due to my familiarity with past Zelda games, but I still find myself frustrated at times when trying to control the camera. The motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” are surprisingly accurate but you’ll spend a lot of energy swinging and aiming during the more than 30 hours of gameplay.
“Skyward Sword HD” also gives players the option to mix button-only and motion controls, so you can aim or move the camera by pointing at the screen, but still use the right analog stick for controlling weapons and other actions.
The visuals of ‘Skyward Sword HD’ still look great thanks to unique art design
As the title implies, “Skyward Sword HD” improves the game’s visuals from 480p standard definition to a full 1080p high definition image. The frame rate has also been increased to 60 frames per second to offer smoother animations than the original release.
While some animations look a bit stiff 12 years later, the game’s art style and presentation still hold up well after all these years. Nintendo also improved the pace of “Skyward Sword” by adding an auto-save feature, automatically skipping over repetitive text, and making mandatory conversations quicker than before.
“Skyward Sword” doesn’t offer the full open-world exploration that made “Breath of the Wild” a modern masterpiece, but it does have one of the largest Zelda worlds to date. Te dungeon designs are also notably more complex than the shrine puzzles in “Breath of the Wild.”
‘Skyward Sword HD’ revives a great game for a new generation, but it’s not the best Zelda on Switch
“Skyward Sword HD” is an excellent update to a classic action-adventure game, though it shows its age at times. We recommend it for any Nintendo Switch owner, and it’s one of the best Switch exclusives of 2021.
Fans of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” should feel right at home and players who skipped out on the mandatory motion controls of the original “Skyward Sword” will be able to experience the game without issue.
However, the controls can still be a bit cumbersome, so newcomers to the “Zelda” franchise might want to try “Breath of the Wild” or “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” a redesigned version of a series classic on the Switch.
You can find ‘Skyward Sword’ in stores now, along with these other Zelda collectibles from Nintendo
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” is available now for the Nintendo Switch. The games carries a list price of $60, but we’ve already seen some physical copies go on sale for $10 off. A digital version is also available to download directly onto your Switch from Nintendo’s eshop.
I’ve been obsessed with fantasy and have played Dungeons & Dragons since childhood. After college I moved to New York City in 1995 to pursue acting. Over the years, I worked in restaurants, played in a couple of bands, and started a few theater companies.
Fast-forward many years, I got married and continued working in restaurants and taking whatever acting jobs I could.
One day in 2013, I was talking with a coworker about fantasy novels and mentioned Dungeons & Dragons.
My coworker said he’d always wanted to play, and within five minutes, I had my first adult D&D table – aka group of players – cobbled together. It was a wild success, and a version of that table still exists every Monday night.
Dungeons & Dragons is a game of shared, improvisational storytelling where major decisions can be made by dice.
You start as a nobody and gain experience points by performing quests, like killing creatures, which earn you more powers. You don’t ever win the game. You just keep living in its world, and you need your friends along the journey to complement each other’s strengths.
Most importantly for me and my livelihood, all games have to be led by one player, called the dungeon master.
In 2016, I started working with a local teaching artist company for kids.
We’d go into NYC schools and do social and emotional training through theater exercises.
In 2018, at an after-school program in Brooklyn, I noticed that some of the kids were discussing D&D. One day, the other teacher I worked with didn’t show up, so I said, “OK guys, today we’re going to do D&D,” and started a game right there.
The kids were so enthusiastic about the game that for the rest of the year, we just played D&D. In fall 2019, I decided to stop working with the teaching company and the school offered to let me run my own after-school D&D program instead. I’ve been there ever since.
Through word of mouth, I had enough interested students to begin 10 regular kids’ games online, with players from NYC as well as New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, and California. These students’ parents pay me in advance either monthly or weekly.
I don’t take money for running that game I started with my restaurant coworkers; that’s my unpaid labor of love. But any other adult games I do are paid, as are one-off games and birthday parties.
I charge between $75 and $125 an hour, depending on the amount of prep work.
For a one-off game, I’ll charge more. For a campaign where we’re playing long-term (usually weekly), I charge less, because it guarantees a more regular income.
For a prepublished D&D adventure (aka “module”) that I’ve already read and know the material, I charge $75 an hour. If clients want to pay a little more, I’ll create a specific story based on where they want their characters to be – it’s almost like being a low-key novelist. If someone wants me to home-brew a whole new scenario for their game every week, that takes hours, so my rate would be about $125 an hour.
I work with some adults, but I find kids’ games to be much more hilarious.
Kids are more murderous and much likelier to stab each other in the back. Kids also get more into acting like powerful and magical characters. They want to get the most treasure out of anybody in the group, whereas adults are more likely to problem-solve together. The other difference about adult games is that the comedy will be looser and, inevitably, raunchiness comes up.
My longest-running paid games are three years old at this point, and I’ve never had anybody leave a game, except one student who had to leave the game because he went to boarding school. I keep on top of what people want from the game so they don’t get bored, and regularly ask what I can improve or change. Overall, the feedback I get is overwhelmingly positive.
To be a D&D dungeon master, you need to have patience and flexibility.
I’ve never had to kick anybody from a table, but I’ve come close because people will try to push you. The No.1 rule of D&D is that ultimately, it’s the dungeon master who decides. So all rules fall below that in priority.
Roblox stock leapt Tuesday, with toymaker Hasbro reaching a deal to launch some digital products with the online games platform.
The deal will feature a range of Roblox-inspired Nerf blasters and a Roblox version of the classic board game Monopoly. No financial terms of the agreement were released in a joint statement.
Roblox shares bounced up as much as 8.9% to an intraday high of $81.70 then pared the gain to 7.8%. The stock began trading last month on the New York Stock Exchange and spiked up during its trading debut.
A platform popular with kids, Roblox allows players to jump from games created by other people or to build games themselves. Hasbro shares on Tuesday were up 2%.
The Nerf blasters will include a redeemable code for players to use a virtual blaster on their avatars and each Monopoly: Roblox 2022 edition game will include a redeemable code for a virtual item.
The products will add to Roblox’s lineup of titles which includes “Adopt Me,” in which players care for virtual pets. Tuesday’s statement said NERF later this year will launch its own branded experience on Roblox, with detail set for release later this spring.
There are dozens of ways you could put together a list of the best video games ever made.
You could look to classics, like “Super Mario Bros.” You could look at impact on the medium, or highest sales. You could write down your personal favorites on pieces of paper, then throw them into the air. Where the pieces land? That’s your list!
But what we’ve got here is something slightly more scientific. Reviews aggregation site Metacritic compiles all reviews of games, then it averages those scores into an overall average. What you’ll find below is the top 50 highest-rated games of all time, based on the averages obtained by Metacritic.
One quick disclaimer!
We made one small change: Since there are a handful of duplicates on the list (multiple versions of the same game, released on multiple platforms), we’re using the highest-ranked version of the game to make room for a handful of games that wouldn’t have otherwise made the list.
Without further ado, these are the 50 best video games of all time:
50. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”
Critic score: 94/100
User score: 6.4/10
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “‘Modern Warfare 2’ continues the gripping and heart-racing action as players face off against a new threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. An entirely new gameplay mode which supports 2-player co-operative play online that is unique from the single player story campaign. Special Ops pits players into a gauntlet of time-trial and objective-based missions. Rank-up as players unlock new Special Ops missions, each more difficult. Missions include highlights from the single player campaign, fan favorites from ‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’ and all new, exclusive missions. Setting a new bar for online multiplayer, ‘Modern Warfare 2’ multiplayer delivers new capabilities, customization, game states and modes, including: Create-a-Class Evolved. Secondary Weapons – Machine Pistols, Shotguns, Handguns, Launchers. Riot Shields. Equipment – Throwing Knives, Blast Shield, Tactical Insertion. Perk Upgrades. Bling (Dual Attachments). Customizable Killstreaks – AC130, Sentry Gun, Predator Missile, Counter-UAV, Care Package. Accolades (Post match reports).”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “The last ‘Final Fantasy’ for the PlayStation, ‘Final Fantasy IX’ returns to the pure fantasy roots that spawned the series. This latest installment features highly detailed characters, vehicles, and environments, and breathtaking cinema-graphics. The addition of brand new features such as the story-enhancing Active Time Event system and the return of mini-games that grant additional gameplay make ‘Final Fantasy IX’ not only a memorable gaming experience, but also a significant step forward in the series.”
Platforms: PlayStation, iOS, Android, PC, PlayStation 4
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Once conceived as a floating symbol of American ideals at a time when the United States was emerging as a world power, Columbia has been dispatched to distant shores with great fanfare by a captivated public. What begins as a brand new endeavor of hope turns drastically wrong as the city soon disappears into the clouds to whereabouts unknown. The player assumes the role of former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, sent to the lost city to rescue Elizabeth, a young woman imprisoned there since childhood. He develops a relationship with Elizabeth, augmenting his abilities with hers so the pair may escape from a city that is literally falling from the sky. DeWitt must learn to fight foes in high-speed Sky-Line battles, engage in combat both indoors and amongst the clouds, and engage the power of dozens of new weapons and abilities.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “‘World of Goo’ is a physics based puzzle / construction game. The millions of Goo Balls that live in the beautiful ‘World of Goo’ don’t know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious.”
Platforms: Wii, PC, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Nintendo Switch
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Following the prologue Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain concludes the Metal Gear Solid V experience by following the story of the protagonist of the series, Big Boss (a.k.a. Snake). The Metal Gear Solid V experience is Creator and Director Hideo Kojima’s first time incorporating open world gameplay to the groundbreaking Metal Gear franchise.”
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “‘Portal 2’ is the sequel to the title named “Game of the Year” 2007 by over 30 publications around the world. ‘Portal 2’ promises to break new ground in next generation gaming by expanding the award-winning recipe of innovative gameplay, immersive story, and creative inclusion of music while also introducing multiplayer co-op game modes.”
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Prepare for an all-new RPG experience in Persona 5 Royal based in the universe of the award-winning series, Persona! Don the mask of Joker and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Break free from the chains of modern society and stage grand heists to infiltrate the minds of the corrupt and make them change their ways! Persona 5 Royal is packed with new characters, confidants, story depth, new locations to explore, and a new grappling hook mechanic for stealthy access to new areas. With a new semester at Shujin Academy, get ready to strengthen your abilities in the metaverse and in your daily life. Persona 5 Royal presents a unique visual style and award nominated composer Shoji Meguro returns with an all-new soundtrack. Explore Tokyo, unlock new Personas, customize your own personal Thieves Den, discover a never-before-seen story arc, cutscenes, alternate endings, and more! Even for the most seasoned Phantom Thieves among us, Persona 5 Royal is a new challenge to defy conventions, discover the power within, and fight for justice. Wear the mask. Reveal your truth.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Take Your Game Online: Access an online community where you can meet, chat, and play head-to-head against other gamers. Audio Dream Team: Dynamic play-by-play and analysis by Madden and Michaels. All-New Mini-camp: Hop on John Madden’s Cruiser Tour Bus and travel to all NFL cities to complete skilled tasks. Create-A-Playbook: Customize receiver routes, player formations, and your team’s entire playbook. Deepest Franchise Mode Ever: Play 30 years of Franchise mode and draft players each season with tips from your scouts.”
Platforms: Game Boy Advance, PC, GameCube, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Twenty years after a pandemic radically transformed known civilization, infected humans run amok and survivors kill one another for sustenance and weapons – literally whatever they can get their hands on. Joel, a salty survivor, is hired to smuggle a fourteen-year-old girl, Ellie, out of a rough military quarantine, but what begins as a simple job quickly turns into a brutal journey across the country.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Thrown into a parallel world by the mischievous actions of a possessed Skull Kid, Link finds a land in grave danger. The dark power of a relic called Majora’s Mask has wreaked havoc on the citizens of Termina, but their most urgent problem is a suicidal moon crashing toward the world. Link has only 72 hours to find a way to stop its descent.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “The Covenant alien race threatens to destroy all humankind, and the only thing standing in its way is Master Chief, a genetically enhanced supersoldier. Master Chief returns in ‘Halo 2,’ which features new vehicles, weapons, environments, and more. This time, you can interact with your environment, wield two weapons at the same time, board opponents’ vehicles, and even switch sides to play the role of a Covenant Elite. ‘Halo 2’ also supports broadband multiplayer action via Xbox Live.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “With the addition of two new courses (a downtown Tokyo circuit and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix course), an impressive range of cars (from Vipers to Cooper Minis), and a soundtrack featuring everything from Lenny Kravitz to Jimi Hendrix, this highly anticipated title is finally ready to be driven.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Developed by Rockstar San Diego, as a follow up to the 2004 hit game ‘Red Dead Revolver,’ ‘Red Dead Redemption’ is a Western epic, set at the turn of the 20th century when the lawless and chaotic badlands began to give way to the expanding reach of government and the spread of the Industrial Age. The story of former outlaw, John Marston, ‘Red Dead Redemption’ takes players on a great adventure across the American frontier. Utilizing Rockstar’s proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), ‘Red Dead Redemption’ features an open-world environment for players to explore, including frontier towns, rolling prairies teeming with wildlife, and perilous mountain passes – each packed with an endless flow of varied distractions. Along the way, players experience the heat of gunfights and battles, meet a host of unique characters, struggle against the harshness of one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses, and ultimately pick their own precarious path through an epic story about the death of the Wild West and the gunslingers that inhabited it.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Receive four complete classic Zelda games all on one disc when you buy the Zelda GameCube Bundle: ‘The Legend of Zelda,’ ‘Zelda II – The Adventure of Link,’ ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,’ ‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.'”
Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System, Virtual Console (various platforms)
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “In ‘LittleBigPlanet,’ players meet on a blue and green planet scattered with individual plots – and use their character’s amazing abilities to play, create and share what they build with other gamers throughout the world via the PlayStation Network. The ‘LittleBigPlanet’ experience starts with players learning about their character’s powers to interact physically with the environment. There are places to explore, creative resources to collect and puzzles to solve – all requiring a combination of brains and collaborative teamwork. As soon as players begin their creative skills will grow and they will soon be ready to start creating and modifying their surroundings – the first step to sharing them with the whole community. Characters have the power to move anything in this glued and stitched-together 3D landscape; they have the power to design, shape and build both objects and entire locations for others to view and play. There’s no complicated level editor; all of these skills can be learned by simply playing the game. Creativity is part of the gameplay experience and playing is part of the creative experience. Players can make their world as open or as secretive to explore as they like. When it’s ready, they can invite anyone within the LittleBigPlanet community to come and explore their patch – or can go and explore everybody else’s.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Welcome to Vice City. Welcome to the 1980s. Having just made it back onto the streets of Liberty City after a long stretch in maximum security, Tommy Vercetti is sent to Vice City by his old boss, Sonny Forelli. They were understandably nervous about his re-appearance in Liberty City, so a trip down south seemed like a good idea. But all does not go smoothly upon his arrival in the glamorous, hedonistic metropolis of Vice City. He’s set up and is left with no money and no merchandise. Sonny wants his money back, but the biker gangs, Cuban gangsters, and corrupt politicians stand in his way. Most of Vice City seems to want Tommy dead. His only answer is to fight back and take over the city himself. Vice City offers vehicular pleasures to suit every taste. For the speed enthusiast, there’s high-performance cars and motorbikes. For the sportsman, a powerboat or a golf buggy lets you enjoy the great outdoors. For those that need that sense of freedom and escape, why not charter a helicopter and see the beauty of Vice City from the air.”
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Fire OS
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas… a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where film stars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers. Now, it’s the early 90s. Carl’s got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster. On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets.”
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Mac, PlayStation 3, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Fire OS
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “An epic continuation of the story that began in ‘Baldur’s Gate,’ this RPG is set along the southern portion of the Sword Coast, a detailed and rich area of the Forgotten Realms called Amn. It features 300 spells and 130-plus monster types compared to only 130 spells and 60 monster types in ‘Baldur’s Gate.'”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Since the incident on Shadow Moses Island, Metal Gear’s top-secret technology has been leaked into the black market through the machinations of Revolver Ocelot. As a result, countless variations of Metal Gears have sprung up in every corner of the globe, making the weapon an increasingly common component of the armed forces of nuclear powers. In the midst of all of this, Solid Snake, now a member of the anti-Metal Gear group ‘Philanthropy,’ has learned that a new prototype Metal Gear has been developed by the U.S. Marines and is being transported in secret to an unknown destination. To learn more about this new machine, Snake must infiltrate the transport, disguised as a tanker, as it makes its way down the Hudson River. Just as Snake is about to begin his mission, however, the ship is seized by a mysterious and well-armed group bent on stealing the new Metal Gear for their own, nefarious purposes
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Vita
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Welcome to the most advanced racing game ever created! Encounter exhilarating high-speed racing in 11 stunning environments. Feel handling agility and throttle response so convincing, the car seems to be an extension of yourself. Experience the extraordinary world of ‘Gran Turismo’!”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “In this ninth entry in the ‘Legend of Zelda’ series, Link debuts on GameCube with a fun new cel-shaded look, but the game stays true to the respected heritage of the series. The classic mix of sword-swinging action, perplexing puzzles and stirring story lines remains intact, but the stunning cel-shaded graphics give the people and places of Link’s watery world a wildly artistic new look. And for the very first time, Link sails freely on the high seas. Join Link on his most epic and scenic adventure yet. Face unimaginable monsters, explore puzzling dungeons, and meet a cast of unforgettable characters as he searches for his kidnapped sister, Aryll.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “‘Half-Life’ combines great storytelling in the tradition of Stephen King with intense action and advanced technology to create a frighteningly realistic world where players need to think smart to survive. ‘Half-Life’ has won more than 50 Game of the Year awards from publications around the world, and was named ‘Best PC Game Ever’ in PC Gamer’s November 1999 issue.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “The next chapter in the ‘Elder Scrolls’ saga arrives from the Bethesda Game Studios. Skyrim reimagines the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose. Play any type of character you can imagine, and do whatever you want; the legendary freedom of choice, storytelling, and adventure of ‘The Elder Scrolls’ is realized like never before. Skyrim’s new game engine brings to life a complete virtual world with rolling clouds, rugged mountains, bustling cities, lush fields, and ancient dungeons. Choose from hundreds of weapons, spells, and abilities. The new character system allows you to play any way you want and define yourself through your actions. Battle ancient dragons like you’ve never seen. As Dragonborn, learn their secrets and harness their power for yourself.”
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “In the next chapter in the ‘Legend of Zelda’ series, Link can transform into a wolf to scour the darkened land of Hyrule. With the help of Midna, a mysterious being, you must guide Link through hordes of foul creatures and challenging bosses using new moves and a new horseback combat system. Many puzzles stand between Link and the fulfillment of his quest, so you must sharpen your wits as you hunt for weapons and items.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “The ‘Mass Effect’ trilogy is a science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life forms and mysterious uncharted planets. In this dark second chapter, Saren’s evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, who are still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with an even greater peril.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “An ancient evil force has reawakened, attacking in secret and feeding on the souls of mighty warriors. To lure it out of hiding will take the greatest fighting contest the world has ever seen…Tekken 3. Some are fighting for revenge, some for honor. Ultimately, all are fighting for their lives and the fate of all mankind.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Developed by Rocksteady Studios, ‘Batman: Arkham City’ builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum,’ sending players soaring into Arkham City, the new maximum security ‘home’ for all of Gotham City’s thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.”
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac, Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Games included in The Orange Box compilation: The original Half-Life 2 – The player again picks up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people – people he cares about – are counting on him. ‘Half-Life 2: Episode One’ – The player reprises his role of Dr. Freeman, who must immediately face the repercussions of his actions in City 17 and the Citadel. Freeman reconnects with Alyx Vance and her robot, Dog, as they continue their support of the resistance’s battle against the Combine forces. ‘Half-Life 2: Episode Two’ — the second installment in Valve’s episodic trilogy advances the award-winning story, leading the player to new locations outside of City 17. ‘Portal’ – a pioneering type of single player action game that rewrites the rules for how players approach and manipulate their environment – much like how Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun reinvented the way gamers interact with objects in the game. ‘Team Fortress 2’ – an all-new version of the legendary title that spawned team based multiplayer action games. The game’s daring new art style features the most advanced graphics of any Source-based game released to date.”
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Linux, Mac
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “In ‘Resident Evil 4’ players are reacquainted with Leon S. Kennedy, Raccoon City Police Department’s idealistic rookie cop from ‘Resident Evil 2.’ It has been six years since the destruction of Raccoon City and in that time, the U.S. government has been able to destroy the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. Fast forward to 2004 and players rejoin Leon, who is now a U.S. agent with a top-secret mission. He has been tasked to look into the abduction of the President’s daughter and his investigation has led him to a mysterious location in Europe. As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.”
Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Wii, Zeebo, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Fortune hunter Nathan Drake returns in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a third-person action-adventure/shooter created by award-winning developer Naughty Dog. Down on his luck, Drake is lured back into the treacherous world of thieves and mercenary treasure-seekers he had sought to leave behind. When a mysterious artifact propels Drake on an expedition to find the legendary Himalayan valley of Shambhala, he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse against a fugitive war criminal who’s after more than just the fabled riches of the lost city. Caught in a web of deception and plunged into an increasingly deadly pursuit that tests the limits of his endurance, Drake will be forced to risk everything – but has his luck finally run out?”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “You are Bond. James Bond. You are assigned covert operations connected with the GoldenEye weapons satellite. M will brief you on your mission and objectives from London. Q Branch will support your efforts with a plentiful supply of weapons and gadgets. Moneypenny offers you light-hearted best wishes and you’re off! Your mission begins in the heavily guarded chemical warfare facility at the Byelomorye Dam in the USSR. Look and shoot in any direction as you navigate 12 interactive 3-D environments. Use stealth and force as you see fit in matters of international security. Consider the military personnel expendable. You are licensed to kill!”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Going beyond ‘run and gun corridors,’ ‘monster-closet AIs’ and static worlds, BioShock creates a living, unique and unpredictable FPS experience. After your plane crashes into icy uncharted waters, you discover a rusted bathysphere and descend into Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. Constructed as an idealistic society for a hand picked group of scientists, artists and industrialists, the idealism is no more. Now the city is littered with corpses, wildly powerful guardians roam the corridors as little girls loot the dead, and genetically mutated citizens ambush you at every turn. Take control of your world by hacking mechanical devices, commandeering security turrets and crafting unique items critical to your very survival. Upgrade your weapons with ionic gels, explosives and toxins to customize them to the enemy and environment. Genetically modify your body through dozens of Plasmid Stations scattered throughout the city, empowering you with fantastic and often grotesque abilities. Explore a living world powered by Ecological A.I., where the inhabitants have interesting and consequential relationships with one another that impact your gameplay experience. Experience truly next generation graphics that vividly illustrate the forlorn art deco city, highlighted by the most detailed and realistic water effects ever developed in a video game. Make meaningful choices and mature decisions, ultimately culminating in the grand question: do you exploit the innocent survivors of Rapture…or save them?”
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, iOS
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, ‘Half-Life 2’ opens the door to a world where the player’s presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors — even the emotions — of both friends and enemies. The player again picks up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people — people he cares about — are counting on him.”
Platforms: PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac, Linux, Android
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Enter the mysterious world of Halo, an alien planet shaped like a ring. As mankind’s super soldier Master Chief, you must uncover the secrets of Halo and fend off the attacking Covenant. During your missions, you’ll battle on foot, in vehicles, inside, and outside with alien and human weaponry. Your objectives include attacking enemy outposts, raiding underground labs for advanced technology, rescuing fallen comrades, and sniping enemy forces. ‘Halo’ also lets you battle three other players via intense split screen combat or fight cooperatively with a friend through the single-player missions.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Mario embarks on a new journey through unknown worlds, running and jumping through huge 3D worlds in the first sandbox-style Mario game since ‘Super Mario 64’ and ‘Super Mario Sunshine.’ Set sail between expansive worlds aboard an airship, and perform all-new actions, such as throwing Mario’s cap.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Players are put at the heart of their very own gangster movie, and let loose in a fully-realized 3 dimensional city with a cast of hundreds, 50 plus vehicles, ranging from sports cars to ice cream trucks and from boats to buses, 3 hours of music, including opera, reggae, house, drum and bass, pop and disco, and a huge array of street ready weapons.”
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, Mac, Android, iOS, Fire OS
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Samus returns in a new mission to unravel the mystery behind the ruined walls scattered across Tallon IV. In Metroid Prime, you’ll play the role of this bounty hunter and view the world through her visor, which displays information ranging from current energy levels to ammunition. Equipped with a Power Beam and Gravity Suit, you must shoot locked switches, solve puzzles, and eliminate enemies. It’s up to you to explore the world and recover more power-ups and weapons, which gradually open more gameplay areas.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Step into the Dark… As Carrington Institute’s most promising new Agent, Joanna Dark must uncover the truth behind the dataDyne Corporation’s recent technological breakthroughs – breakthroughs which could have serious consequences for mankind.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games. Step into a world of discovery, exploration and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a boundary-breaking new game in the acclaimed series. Travel across fields, through forests and to mountain peaks as you discover what has become of the ruined kingdom of Hyrule in this open-air adventure. Explore the wilds of Hyrule any way you like.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Los Santos: a sprawling sun-soaked metropolis full of self-help gurus, starlets and fading celebrities, once the envy of the Western world, now struggling to stay alive in a time of economic uncertainty and cheap reality TV. Amidst the turmoil, three very unique criminals plot their own chances of survival and success: Franklin, a street hustler looking for tangible opportunities and serious money; Michael, a professional ex-con whose retirement is less rosy than he figured it would be; and Trevor, a violent dude driven by the opportunity for a cheap high and his next big score. With options at a premium, the crew risks it all in a myriad of daring and dangerous heists that could set them up for life.”
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC
Plot summary (from Metacritic): ” Developed by the creators of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ and ‘Red Dead Redemption,’ ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world also provides the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience. America, 1899. The end of the Wild West era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang has to rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal fissures threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang that raised him.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Super Mario Galaxy 2, the sequel to the galaxy-hopping original game, includes the gravity-defying, physics-based exploration from the first game, but is loaded with entirely new galaxies and features to challenge players. On some stages, Mario can pair up with his dinosaur buddy Yoshi and use his tongue to grab items and spit them back at enemies. Players can also have fun with new items such as a drill that lets our hero tunnel through solid rock.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “The ultimate Nintendo hero is taking the ultimate step … out into space. Join Mario as he ushers in a new era of video games, defying gravity across all the planets in the galaxy. When some creature escapes into space with Princess Peach, Mario gives chase, exploring bizarre planets all across the galaxy. Mario, Peach and enemies new and old are here. Players run, jump and battle enemies as they explore all the planets in the galaxy. Since this game makes full use of all the features of the Wii Remote, players have to do all kinds of things to succeed: pressing buttons, swinging the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, and even pointing at and dragging things with the pointer. Since he’s in space, Mario can perform mind-bending jumps unlike anything he’s done before. He’ll also have a wealth of new moves that are all based around tilting, pointing and shaking the Wii Remote. Shake, tilt and point! Mario takes advantage of all the unique aspects of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller, unleashing new moves as players shake the controller and even point at and drag items with the pointer.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “This is a tale of souls and swords, transcending the world and all its history, told for all eternity… The greatest weapons-based fighter returns, this time on Sega Dreamcast. Soul Calibur unleashes incredible graphics, fantastic fighters, and combos so amazing they’ll make your head spin!”
Platforms: Dreamcast, iOS, Arcade, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “What does the American Dream mean today? For Niko Belic, fresh off the boat from Europe. It’s the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity. As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by a series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them an a living nightmare for those who don’t.”
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “Hawk’s back – with new technology, new pros and new tricks! ‘THPS2,’ the legend rides on! Skate as legendary Tony Hawk or any one of 12 other pro skaters. Create your own custom skaters. Multiple play modes including 1-Player, Career and Free Skate modes, as well as 2-player modes such as Trick Attack, Graffiti Tag and Horse. Build your own custom skate parks with the real-time 3D park editor”
Platforms: PlayStation, PC, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Mac, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, iOS, Xbox
Plot summary (from Metacritic): “As a young boy, Link is tricked by Ganondorf, the King of the Gerudo Thieves. The evil human uses Link to gain access to the Sacred Realm, where he places his tainted hands on Triforce and transforms the beautiful Hyrulean landscape into a barren wasteland. Link is determined to fix the problems he helped to create, so with the help of Rauru he travels through time gathering the powers of the Seven Sages.”
Platforms: Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, Virtual Console (various platforms)
In the days since opening, visitors have been immersing themselves in the park’s many attractions while wearing red Mario hats and other Nintendo-themed outfits, CNN reported. The pent-up excitement of visitors was the latest sign of people itching to get back to normality and enjoy fun days out, as mass vaccine rollouts continue around the world.
Visits will not be a totally carefree experience, though, as there are many safety protocols in place at the park. These include mandatory masks, temperature checks, social-distancing measures, signs requesting riders to refrain from shrieking, and readily available hand sanitizer.
Read on for five things you can do at Super Nintendo World
1.Compete in a Mario Kart race
Racing around a Mario Kart circuit is probably one of the most high-profile activities. Using AR headsets, visitors can experience a five-minute race. They can also see projections of other characters and collect virtual coins.
2. Ride Yoshi
Visitors can hop onto a Yoshi-themed ride as they search for Captain Toad during a treasure hunt. Its leisurely pace is good for children and families looking to kick back and enjoy the weird and wonderful scenery.
3. Purchase a Power-Up Band
Power-Up Bands are wristbands that tally scores, coins, and digital stamps. The devices can also be synced with a smartphone device.
4. Punch giant question blocks
The recreation of question and note blocks from the Mario franchise is likely to satisfy diehard fans. Visitors can jump and punch the blocks until their heart’s content.
5. Chow down on gaming-based snacks
Among the quirky eateries are Kinopio’s Cafe, Pit Stop Popcorn, and Yoshi’s Snack Island. The food items are just as zany as you might imagine, and include such delicacies as mushroom-flavoured popcorn, tiramisu question blocks, and koopa shell-shaped calzones.
The launch of the park comes after a slump in the theme park industry. Though Super Nintendo World is only open to those living in Japan, Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Mario franchise, said he hopes the whole world will come and visit it when the pandemic is over, The New York Times reported.
Faccio and McConnell first cited data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found vehicular fatality crashes in the US started increasing in 2011 after a steady 25-year decline. Circumstantially, the two reasoned, this was due to the increase in smartphone apps.
And while some people struggle not to text and drive, Pokémon Go has a particularly alluring premise while moving: It’s a geo-location-based augmented reality game where, using their phone cameras and the game’s geo-location features, players can hunt for virtual Pokémon in real time in their area. It’s wildly popular.
“The game was introduced on July 6, 2016,” Faccio and McConnell wrote. “Within one month, worldwide, the game was downloaded more than 100 million times.
“For our purposes, the virtue of this app is that the stockpile of a user’s ‘weapons’ used to play the game can be replenished in the vicinity of specific well-identified ‘PokéStops,’ many of which are located near public thoroughfares.”
The two reasoned that if players were driving while playing, then the probability of crashes near PokéStops would go up since the game’s introduction.
After examining about 12,000 police accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, between March 1, 2015 to November 30, 2016, the study found a “disproportionate increase in crashes near PokéStops from before to after July 6, 2016. In the aggregate, these crashes are associated with increases in the dollar amount of vehicular damage, the number of personal injuries, and the number of fatalities.”
“Specifically, a difference-in-differences analysis indicates that 134 incremental crashes that occurred at locations in the proximity of PokéStops over the 148 days following the introduction of the game can be attributed to the introduction of Pokémon Go,” the study went on.
“This incremental increase in crashes accounts for 47% of the increase in the total number of county-wide crashes. Based on the assessments of damage in the police reports, this increase in crashes in the vicinity of PokéStops results in $498,567 of incremental vehicular damage, or 22% of the increase in the total dollar amount of vehicular damage experienced county-wide over the 148 days following the introduction of the game.”
Those 134 incremental crashes resulted in 31 incremental personal injuries near the PokéStops, according to the study.
Based on those findings, Faccio and McConnell concluded that users playing Pokémon Go near the PokéStops and getting into collisions incurred county-wide costs of at least $5.2 million, with the “great majority” of that total accounting for lives lost. Nationwide, the two estimated the cost to range from between $2 billion to $7.3 billion.
“Indeed, even ignoring the value of lives lost, the incremental cost associated with users playing the game while driving implies a 3.34% increase in auto insurance premiums for the 148 days following the introduction of the game,” Faccio and McConnell said.
Niantic, which created Pokémon Go, implemented speed limits on the game in an effort to prevent users from playing while driving, but Jalopnik notes this hasn’t completely prevented that from happening.
Insider has reached out to Niantic for comment but has not yet heard back at the time of publishing.
Apparently, it needs to be said: Don’t play Pokémon Go while you’re driving! Your safety (and that of others) is a little more important than some game on your phone, we promise.
Staying connected to those you love, but cannot physically be with, is a lofty task. It’s often difficult to replicate the joy experienced through quality time with friends and family, and while technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch, nothing beats giving someone you love a hug.
As the novel coronavirus continues to progress, more and more people find themselves practicing social distancing, self-isolating, or in quarantine as they recover. These precautions, though absolutely necessary, can add an unexpected layer of strain to the holiday season: many cannot safely travel to see loved ones or are feeling especially lonely during this time of year. It’s a rightfully overwhelming and isolating time, but I’ve found hope in the small ways I’ve been able to connect with those I care about.
My time spent in service journalism has encouraged me to get creative in the ways that I express my care, and I’ve found that small and unexpected surprises can go a long way.
While many of these products and services are entirely hands-free, some require opening a door, touching a delivered package, or interacting with the person who makes the delivery. It’s important to note that those who are in quarantine should not be opening the door to receive deliveries, and we encourage you to stick to the entirely digital options in this case.
27 gift ideas for anyone struggling with quarantine or social isolation:
We love Greetabl because of how customizable it is — everything from the box to the treat that’s inside of it can be perfectly catered to the recipient. From tasty treats like Sugarfina to cozy socks, Greetabl is an adorable and tailor-made way to put a smile on their face.
Flowers or plants to brighten their room and their day
Flowers are always a classic route to take when trying to make someone’s day, but houseplants make for an awesome surprise as well. Many of us are finding ourselves craving the outdoors more than ever, and a flower or plant delivery can help them stay connected to nature while also staying inside.
If you’re anything like me, you connect with others over snacks more than pretty much anything else. If you’re missing your cheeseboard buddy or favorite friend with a sweet tooth, these snack box delivery services can have you and those you care about snacking together (over a video call) in no time.
Perfect for the kid you love who loves to learn, KiwiCo builds age-appropriate educational kits for the mini-scientist, engineer, or creative genius. Crates can be sent every month, every three months, every six months, or annually.
For many, sporting events being canceled and Disney parks being closed feels a little too dystopian. Thankfully, Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu can be purchased together in a bundle. If they’re not too fond of ads, this bundle can also be purchased with the ad-free version of Hulu.
Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace can be used anytime, anywhere, to practice mindfulness and decrease anxiety. Both apps have tailored meditations for specific circumstances, whether it’s getting better sleep, starting your day, or meditations solely focused on exercise. While your loved ones can download Headspace or Calm for free, we’d recommend sending them the cost of the subscription on Venmo.
This is a completely hands-free option.
A free month of their favorite music streaming service
Concerts and shows may be canceled, but shower performances are very much condoned. A great playlist serves as an equally great mood booster, so a free month of their favorite music streaming service can keep them dancing until their favorite artist is back on tour. For the Spotify gift card, be sure to select the “Digital” option for a completely hands-free experience.
If they’re missing catching up with you at your go-to restaurant, bring the socially distanced equivalent to them with Goldbelly. The food delivery service ships meal kits from popular restaurants in major cities nationwide, so whether or not they’ve been spending the pandemic in their favorite city, they can still enjoy their favorite meal.
Mapiful allows for custom creation of map posters and frames, so they can feel connected to a city that’s meaningful to them regardless of where they physically are. Mapiful’s prints range from the classic map poster to custom zodiac prints, and you can even send them a print with their favorite photo.
I’ve had this set of postcards for three years now, and it’s my go-to for birthdays, sending support, or simply saying hi. These personalized, witty postcards read with the same quirky yet humorous tone that my friends and I speak in, and something about snail mail feels a bit more special than the usual “checking in” text message.
Nothing brings me more joy than writing, and with many guided writing journals out there, this is the one I turn back to every time. The prompts are the perfect balance between intellectually stimulating and just plain fun, and I often find my responses to be the coping mechanism I didn’t know I needed. I’m confident any writer will welcome this distraction from the inundation of screen time that’s encompassed recent days.
Embroidery is an excellent stress reliever, and this beginner kit provides all the tools they’d need to get started. There are five designs to choose from, and you can either send them materials for a single design or a pack of three.
A streaming service for the theater nerd in all of us
Broadway has gone dark for the time being, but thankfully, BroadwayHD is chock full of shows old and new. BroadwayHD categorizes its musicals and plays in a way that’s easily decipherable, making “Must See” and “Family Friendly” shows readily available.
It’s always a good time to be a bookworm, but with more time to read than ever, a Kindle Unlimited subscription can certainly be put to use. Thanks to the Kindle app, they can read on any iOS device, Android, Mac, or PC, so there’s no need to open the door for a physical Kindle.
A framed memory is a sentimental reminder of your friendship on its own, but this frame adds an additional special feature: Touch your frame when you’re missing your loved one, and their frame will light up, too — reminding them that they’re on your mind.
There’s nothing more gratifying than mastering a new skill, and it’s an even better experience when you get to share it with someone you love. There’s no shortage of online learning courses, so whether they want to learn to bake or brush up on their photography skills, there are plenty of applicable courses.
There are few greater feelings than putting the final pieces of a puzzle together. You can order the same puzzle and complete it over a video call, race to see who finishes first, or frame the puzzle once completed as a reminder of each other.
If they seek creative expression through art — or want to learn to do so — this kit is a great place to start. Packed with 215 materials ranging from crayons to watercolor paints, this art kit is appropriate for any age, and the organization is almost as pleasing to the eye as their upcoming creations will be.
For those in quarantine, a typically simple task like getting groceries can be made substantially more difficult. With FreshDirect, their selection of groceries can be delivered right to their door. FreshDirect’s gift cards can be sent via email, so it’s an excellent way to show that you’re thinking of those who can’t make it to a grocery store.
An Amazon Prime membership can be used for pretty much anything, be it stocking up on cleaning supplies or the aforementioned books and puzzles. The benefits of an Amazon Prime membership stray far beyond their notable two-day shipping, and there’s also a $119 annual membership option if they’d like to remain a member year-round.
Coloring Books are not only an incredible stress reliever, but they’re appropriate for nearly any age — even if you’ve learned to color inside the lines long ago. From animals to Disney princesses, the array of coloring books is arguably just as expressive as those who’ll be coloring them in.
If those close to you are practicing social distancing with family or roommates, board games are a classic way to keep everyone entertained. My personal favorites to play with friends are Rummikub and Bananagrams, but there are plenty of games to choose from, including games specifically made for kids.
Barefoot Dreams is known for its irresistibly soft products, and this throw is no different. A match made in heaven for any couch, this throw is a great way to help them feel as comfortable as possible.
From actors to professional athletes, Cameo is stacked with a selection of celebrities who will create custom videos for someone you care about. This unique concept is a fun and personalized way to check in on a friend, and it’s sure to be a day maker.
This hand-poured candle comes in an elegant tin that’s complete with an expression of love right on the cover. With scents like mango papaya and peach nectar, they’ll be dreaming of your next getaway together.
Whether oatmeal is their go-to work-from-home breakfast, they crave soup on a rainy day, or simply enjoy a morning cup of coffee, this bowl is quarantine-ready. The handle is intentionally crafted with space to slip their hand underneath it, and there’s even a notch meant for resting utensils.