The Sandbox: April 20th 2013


It’s time for another edition of The Sandbox, the weekly feature in which the GamerNode team members reveal what we’ve been playing over the past few days and what we’ve got on our plates for the weekend. This week we channeled our inner luchadores, took part in some epic comic book battles, and tried not to starve, among other things.


Dan Crabtree

The Vita library has been a slow burn of titles mostly available on PS3 anyway, but I’ve found that some games just feel right on a handheld. Guacamelee is one of those titles. The last great Metroidvania game I played on a handheld was, well, Metroid Fusion, so it’s great to see the genre revive with cajones on the Vita. And because it’s a Drinkbox Studios game (see Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack), it’s cheeky as cheek can cheek, and just bursting with gaming and internet culture references. If that weren’t enough, the game also pushes the player’s skill (mostly learning the combos, speed, reaction time) in a way that fits neatly within the narrative and pushes into old-school challenge territory. Love it.

Rayman Jungle Run

Mike Deas

I’m still chugging through Mass Effect 3. This morning I decided to upload the code to the geth, which had some consequences I should have expected, but still surprised me. Aside from that, I’ve been dabbling in the new Rayman Jungle Run levels and finishing a Vita playthrough of Plants vs. Zombies. It’s my third time playing through the game, but now I’m gunning for trophies… which seem to be extremely extensive.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Jason Fanelli

Holy hell in a hand basket Batman, Injustice: Gods Among Us is excellent. The story more is fantastic, akin to the quality of Mortal Kombat‘s story more. I never quite know what or who is coming next, and watching the story unfold is quite awesome. I’m also playing on Wii U, so I can take the GamePad to bed and continue playing if I so choose. Wii U was definitely the way to go.

I think I may also boot up Ni No Kuni again for some adventurin’, assuming I have any time this weekend. Oh, and I always have my 3DS XL with me, preloaded with Star Fox 64 3D and Fire Emblem: Awakening to keep me gaming on the go.

Don't Starve

Anthony LaBella

Earlier this week I finished Guacamelee, a fantastic metroidvania-style action-platformer that gave me a good excuse to boot up the Vita again. The humor and vibrant art style lends the game a certain charm, but the awesome melee combat and numerous collectibles are what really kept me playing. The most surprising thing about the game is the fact that Drinkbox Studios developed it. The company’s Tales From Space games are solid, but Guacamelee is the kind of game I can really get behind.

The rest of the week was spent at my computer trying out Don’t Starve and Starseed Pilgrim. The former isn’t quite out yet (I believed it will be officially released this upcoming week), but I spent a couple of hours with the beta and found myself very interested. Things started off slow with the gathering phase, but then I became aware of the different crafting systems and the game’s world (complete with killer boars, evil flowers, and wormholes) – at that point I was hooked. I plan to play some more this weekend.

As for Starseed Pilgrim, half of me really enjoys it and the other half can’t help but become frustrated with each play session. Everyone seems to think that explaining the game spoils the fun, and they’re kind of right. With that being the case I won’t go into mechanical specifics, but there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from learning Starseed Pilgrim‘s rules with absolutely no assistance from the game itself. Now that I understand it more, I can marvel at how often I screw up the game’s many puzzles.

Oh, and I think I’ll try the free beta for Papers, Please this weekend. Saw some footage on Giant Bomb yesterday and the game looks pretty awesome. I suggest readers check it out.

Battleblock Theater

Aled Morgan

After wondering a little more about BioShock Infinite’s ending, and beginning, and middle bits, I thought I’d play it again on 1999 mode. If BioShock Infinite was ever a shooter for the tacitly minded, 1999 mode exemplifies it. I’m being far more choosy about how I spend my silver eagles and limited salt, and I’m having to severely restrain how often I beeline across the battlefield to ruin someone’s day with a Skyhook melee. My main source of health is no longer a quick trip to the vending machine, but munching down handfuls of cake from Columbia’s bins and office drawers. It’s almost like role-playing as one of the Columbia’s homeless, complete with the city’s heir throwing coins at me as though I were a dancing, crow-summoning performer.

At the opposite end of the gaming spectrum was The Behemoth’s BattleBlock Theater, which I reviewed last week. Promotion for the game has been in criminally short supply, so know that it’s a dexterous little platformer, with trademark Behemoth style and humor, and with brilliant ‘screw your friends over’ co-op. I’ve spent most of the week inviting friends into the titular theater, just so I can shove them into a pit of spikes and use their body to cross safely to the other side. Don’t judge me, because you’d surely do the same.

After unlocking a third of the prisoners, I’ve grown an eerie attachment to the prisoner that looks a bit like a surprised Lee Everett from Telltale’s The Walking Dead games, though I’ve also heard compelling arguments for ‘dude with eyeball for head.’


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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