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Seasonal Gaming: Josh’s Picks for Spring [Game On]

After months and months of steel gray skies here in Columbus I just can’t fathom another day of the biting flat-land wind gusts. However, it occurred to me that the games I play tend to synchronize with the seasons in either theme or presentation.  With spring (thank God) rapidly approaching, it got me thinking about what types of games I’ll likely be re-visiting and also which ones I’m excited about.  So, between shooting The Packrat Show and contributing here on FaN, what will I be popping in for Mr. Sunshine’s return?  Read on for a couple of my old favorites and then a quick look at two titles I’m really excited for this spring.

Viva Piñata

Incestuous undertones aside, Viva Piñata was a surprise favorite for me.  The sickeningly bright color scheme and undeniable cuteness of raising baby piñatas in a beautiful garden you can customize however you’d like was immediately appealing to me. Its dream-like orchestral score combined with fun mechanics that blend a little bit of Sim City with a little bit of Pokemon made for an experience that would satisfy even the most ambitious achievement whores. It’s also a great way to unwind after a rough day, admiring the serenity of the zen-like oasis you’ve crafted for your piñatas.

I crushed the original Viva Piñata a while back (which, I guess describing it that way lets you know what kind of gamer I am) and am very much looking forward to finally digging into the sequel, Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise.  But, I won’t indulge until the weather goes back up to the 70s because playing a game this adorable indoors just doesn’t feel right in the dead of winter.

Eternal Sonata

Released in 2007 from Namco Bandai, Eternal Sonata is set within the dreams of the dying Frederic Chopin, world renowned pianist and composer who died of Tuberculosis at 39.  It’s a really beautiful story that intrigued me particularly because of its departure from what I felt was a very formulaic trend in JRPGs.  I’m sure a lot of Japanese fans would murder me for this heresy, but I had gotten so bored with tales of a lone orphan boy/girl who unlocks an ancient power within them and then with the assistance of archetypal allies that waiver between annoying or outright painful defeat a world-threatening foe.

That’s an oversimplification I realize, but the story of Eternal Sonata was that touching to me- since all of the action, characters, and indeed the world itself are taking place within the mind of a dying man the entire experience had a bittersweet charm to it.  Also adding to the experience was a Chopin-centered soundtrack whose themes were also woven into the character design.

All of these elements were delivered in a divinely crips presentation with cel-shaded styling so damned beautiful it looked like candy.  This surreal spin on the traditional action-rpg left me thirsting for more at every conceivable turn in the plot and is perfect for a breezy spring day before you have to start cranking up the AC.

Ok, we’ve looked at 2 of my old favorites, now, for your consideration I give you two titles I can’t wait to play this Spring.

Borderlands 2

When the original made its debut back in 2009 it ended up being a nigh-perfect blend of everything I look for in a game.  Gorgeous graphics, thousands upon thousands of unique gun combinations, well constructed multiplayer, gorgeous cel-shaded graphics that didn’t sacrifice gore for style, and to top it all off a fantastic sense of humor that actually remained entertaining throughout.  The only real complaint I had was that the story was a bit meh in places and the ending was a bit of a let down.  But, that shouldn’t dissuade you from giving this series a look with its memorable characters and frenetic, highly addictive shooter/rpg action.  Look at the following trailer and you’ll see what I mean-

Mass Effect 3

If you remember a while back when I made my gamer’s resolutions for 2012, the completion of Mass Effect 2 was on my list.  Sadly I’ve not made much forward progress toward completing it, but the recent cinematic trailer that made its debut has inspired me to hurry up and get on it lest I miss out on the chance to again step into the boots of Commander Shepherd.

Normally space-centric games pique my interest in the wintertime (cold, vastness of space and all that) but this time the battle’s coming to earth, ostensibly to deprive us of the freedom so characterized by our Spring days.  Alright, that’s reaching, but dammit I really want to play Mass Effect 3!

What about you?  What games are you looking forward to as the weather takes a more positive turn?

featured image credit: raiinnile