Sonic Adventure

Sonic Adventure is exactly what it says it is: an adventure. Where in later Sonic games, including Adventure 2, would forsake the open-ended structure classic Sonic levels are known for in favor of high octane speed, Adventure revels in translating this less appreciated aspect in 3D. Whether you’re watching the sunrise as you scale the side of a skyscraper or are thrown on a snowboard mid-avalanche, Adventure’s good moments come like a rush of adrenaline. Unfortunately, the other campaigns feel half-baked, most only spanning a spare couple levels before fully exploring experimental gameplay elements. Nevertheless, Adventure captures Sonic’s liberatory joy.

Final Fantasy X

Can a game teach empathy? Final Fantasy X certainly teaches the power of manipulating empathy—the strength institutions have over otherwise good people and the space between them. Nowadays, we see violence doled against knowledge constantly. Truth is often threatened. Final Fantasy X suggests, in times of crisis, we should retreat into our communities, care for our neighbors, and resist what endangers a better tomorrow. The legacies we leave behind are nothing in a land leveled of its history. We wouldn’t want that. Context bubbles to the surface like a precious memory. Let travelers look at your works and rejoice.

Paper Mario: The Origami King

The Origami King is an exercise in expectations. The Paper Mario of Thousand-Year Door fame has been run through the shredder. Combat reads more puzzle mini-game than complex turn-based RPG. Some might peg it as a platforming adventure, but I see it as an elaborate dollhouse. Mario’s time with Olivia is precious but says little about the world they occupy other than functioning as a set piece for consistently hilarious gags. I wonder how it might perform if battles were scrapped entirely—if we just wandered the expanse of the Mushroom Kingdom admiring lovingly crumpled papercraft and chatting with neurotic toads.