Enlarge /. At the time, like most of the world, we had a love-hate relationship with Tom Nook.
While it's hard to see a lot of upside potential in our current COVID-19 pandemic, there is at least one group that quarantine life may not be that bad for – gamers. Maybe you finally have the time (and nothing else to do) to work your way through a more than 100-hour campaign or retrieve every star in Mario 64. Or as someone with a partner / roommate / child, you may suddenly never get a chance to play yourself and use the joys of co-op and multiplayer more than you ever imagined. (Alternatively, you may stick to the handheld isolation that you can find instead under such circumstances.) Perhaps you are just so bored that you have decided to finally plague your way through the initial learning curve of the Dwarven Fortress.
Regardless of how you slice it, video games have been one of the most reliable forms of home entertainment in both the best and worst times. Although on-site housing has undoubtedly changed many aspects of life in a negative way, we encountered some silver gaming strips around Ars in the past month. Here's what kept our fingers crossed in those quartan times, when the work keyboards retired for that day.
Srsly, how can you say no?
Return transportation until 1994
My name is Nathan, I am one of the fools who waffled when they bought a switch and now have no modern gaming equipment in quarantine. I've always been a console player and over the years, as consoles gained connectivity, they have become one of the easiest ways to connect with my younger siblings on a regular basis. But here we are. I think we have to … talk? Scattergories works at least via video chat.
Fortunately, I'm not entirely without console access. The first game system I ever had was the SNES, a 1992 Christmas present that my parents are still talking about due to the new heights my seven-year vocal pitch reached with excitement. For my birthday, my sister sent the modern incarnation, the Super NES Classic, last year.
Life at the moment was undoubtedly tough and I'm not a masochist – Super Ghouls n & # 39; Ghosts and Contra 3 remain untouched. I am also not a game historian (sorry, Star Fox 2) and will never understand why Secret of Mana (a third role-playing game behind Earthbound and Super Mario RPG) had to be recorded via a large, popular port in the mid-90s such as NBA Jam or NBA Jam Mortal Kombat or even Dr. Mario.
Instead, I spent my limited time on solo television playing a familiar side-scroller that was fun and just a bit of a challenge: the original Donkey Kong Country.
The positive aspects here may not even need to be named after more than 25 years, but now it starts: The soundtrack remains full of sneaky hits. In contrast to the Milquetoast Mario, the game shows the DK (and its expanded universe), which is repeatedly underestimated. The game's animal mechanics felt revolutionary at the time and remains downright charming today (try hitting a few gophers as a rhino and see if you feel better, I'll wait). And the whole game has exactly the mixture of lightness and challenge that I am looking for – maybe I can blow through the first eight levels without drinking my coffee, but then "Mine Cart Carnage" hits and suddenly my accumulated extra lives are swaying single-digit numbers and my right thumb hurts because I tried to jump over abandoned mine cars over time (I'm not the only one who can't easily master this level as an adult, thanks Kotaku). If the Switch Lite (I want this and not the docked version, right?) Is back in stock, you can be sure that this Wii player, who has never owned one, will freeze worries tropical soon after.
– Nathan Mattise, feature editor
A kind of video game that everyone can enjoy
Zoom game hour
I keep up to date with the latest and greatest games, indie to AAA, to make a living. But since orders for home rentals have separated me from friends and family, I've found that the various Jackbox Party Packs are the perfect way to stay connected. These collections of casual party games range from trivia to word games and secret information research to straightforward popularity contests, all with the somewhat unusual humor you can expect from the team behind You Don & # 39; t Know Jack.
The Jackbox Party Packs meet all the requirements for a successful online multiplayer experience with just about any group:
* The instructions are simple enough to quickly explain to newbies.
* It is not reflex based, so don't worry about internet delays that affect player performance.
* It works on pretty much any platform; All you need is a video conference that can "share your screen" and a smartphone web browser for each player.
* It promotes creativity and laughter in a mostly non-confrontational way.
We started with a weekly jackbox meeting on Friday evening with a group of college friends, but since then we've just expanded to post-seder games with the extended family just as easily. Even my five-year-old came on stage and laughed shortly before bedtime through a family-friendly edition of the Pictionary-like Drawful.
D tend to become self-aware when I just look at my reflection during video conferencing, and I think the idea of drinking alone at a zoom happy hour sounds unbearable. But a jackbox game offers the perfect focus and excuse to meet distant friends and family members and have fun together.
– Kyle Orland, gaming editor
Some classics remain wonderful, whether in earlier times or in quartan times.
Final Fantasy VII, a surprisingly nice remake.
In Fallout 76, this seems to be a good place to quarantine (and set up every valuable possession we have).
Dino crisis, dino mite
Leisure is now play time
Two weeks before the block began, my wife and I moved from LA to Chicago to be closer to friends and family. Unfortunately, this means that we are now even more socially isolated than in LA.
Or are we? Games have made us more social than in previous years. Our friends who didn't have much time to play online now are suddenly all-in. We started a Discord server with everyone and played Minecraft, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Animal Crossing: New Horizons several nights a week. It was a great time.
I am alone in the final chapters of the Final Fantasy VII remake. I didn't expect it to please me, but I was surprised and excited.
I've been a Fallout 76 player since launch and between the new people who came in with the free Wastelanders expansion just launched and old 76 friends who play more because they now have more time at home, the most positive gaming community, I've ever had was part of hopping like never before. Haters can hate anything they want, but Fallout 76 has its fans and we have a great time.
I also collect PlayStation games – all generations with more than 1,000 games – and casually looked around in some classics that I had never played before. For example: Dino Crisis turns out to be a good time when you're dealing with all the tropics and traps of kitschy survival horror games from the late 90s – which I am absolutely.
I also participated in the Kusogrande Speed Running Bad Game Competition on Twitch and made good progress on a text-based game development project I worked on last year.
All of this means that I've spent most of my free time playing games since the order of placement has decreased. Everyone has their own way of staying healthy with all of this, and that's mine. It works fine for me.
– Samuel Axon, Senior Reviews Editor
Jeff, the most interesting new character in Half-Life: Alyx, can't see you. But he can hear you. And he can touch you. Both things are bad.
The Nemesis creature from the Resident Evil series. Exactly what we need in these dark times.
Depending on the screen you're viewing, you may be confusing Valorant with a counter-strike clone. In fact, Riot's new shooter borrows a lot of ideas from CS.
When playing for work is …
I've been lucky enough to write about some very large, time-consuming video games for you, dear reader, in the past few months. Some of the resulting reviews have already been published by Ars Technica: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Resident Evil III Remake, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Half-Life: Alyx and Valorant. If that's not enough, I have a few other game reports in the coming week.
So that changes the conversation at my end. What do I play to relax when I am not playing games for work? Not really. Animal Crossing is a brainless exception when I participate in the variety of legal drugs in my state. But mostly I watch other people play during my downtime.
Flickering currents are my sweet relief. In these feeds from popular games, conversations between streamers and their chat rooms remain beautiful, shiny, and crystallized, as if they were frozen in resin before the rest of the world joined their party "Stay at home in front of a screen". Because these people were really prepared. They've already set up immaculate green screen rigs, paid for high-quality microphones and webcams, and built secondary and tertiary monitors to monitor chat rooms and manage their friend lists, for example.
Twitching is an easy place for me. I go there when I want to hear people talking about something other than … * mild gestures *. (If you're wondering about my favorites, these include NiceWigg's Apex Legends battles, GrandPooBear's Super Mario Maker 2 explorations, Maximilian_DOOD fighting game ruminants, and Viking_Blonde's caffeinated raises.)
– Sam Machkovech, culture editor