By now, most regular readers know I spend my vacations behind a controller.
This past week was no exception, but there was a lot more to it than that. My wife and I spent a lovely weekend in Moline, Illinois, taking in a live WWE wrestling show that got us out of the house for the weekend.
But I’m guessing my readers are more interested in the video games I played rather than the wrestlers I saw. I’m still working on a lot of them for upcoming reviews, and I figure now is as good a time as any for a sneak peek of my gaming vacation — game by game.
Most of them are new releases, but I can never resist playing a few old games on vacation. And I played far more than what’s listed here.
“Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” available exclusively for PlayStation 4
When an expansion of a previously released game grows so large that it has to be put on its own disc, I can’t help but grin. Not only do I enjoy meaty expansions, but that means I can rent it instead of paying for the online version.
This spin-off to “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” is everything I could have wanted in a swan song for the series. It came in the mail just a few days before my vacation started, and a couple of days later, I had already finished it.
I didn’t think I was ready for a treasure hunting trip in the jungle again, but even the most overworked premise can thrive with the proper execution.
“Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” available exclusively for Switch
This is one of the reasons I took vacation. This intriguing mix of turn-based combat (ala “XCOM”) came out out a week before Labor Day, and has kept me glued to my Switch ever since. Who wouldn’t want a board game-esque strategy title that features the colorful Mario universe?
Plus, Mario has a gun. Sure, it’s an adorable hand cannon that occasionally shoots honey, but it’s still a gun. Only the zany humor of Mario and his pals make the violence seem less … violent.
I’m just sad that I’m getting close to finishing it.
“Yakuza Kiwami” available exclusively for PlayStation 4
This is the other reason I took vacation. In fact, it came out the same day as “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.”
I’ve written at length about how the January release of “Yakuza 0” sparked my passion for the “Yakuza” series, forcing me to purchase another PlayStation 3 just so I could play the older games in the series.
That makes this my fifth “Yakuka” title this year, and I’m still not tired of it. My attachment to Japanese culture certainly makes me biased (I studied Japanese for two years, and never got good at it), but who wouldn’t want to walk around Tokyo and get into random fights with hooligans?
“Yakuza Kiwami” is actually a remake of the original title released for PlayStation 2 in 2006 (2005 in Japan), filling in gaping story threads that stretch through every game in the franchise. I’ve got about 20 hours in right now, and I’m just getting started.
“The Evil Within” available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. Released in 2014.
I have a tendency to indulge in a bit of online shopping during my vacations. When I saw this horror title from Shinji Mikami (the creator of “Resident Evil”) on sale for $5, I couldn’t pass it up. I’m certainly not a horror game fanatic, but with Halloween around the corner, I’ve been in a particularly spooky mood.
I gave “The Evil Within” a quick rental when it was released three years ago, but never got hooked. I admired much of it, but this is game that demands to be played in darkness — preferably with some decent headphones.
Despite a few graphical and difficulty hang-ups, the game does a marvelous job of taking the survival-horror genre back to its roots. That means far less ammo than there are enemies, and a frail main character who can die in just a few hits.
In other words, I’m loving it. All I had to do was turn out the lights.
“Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy” available on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. First released in 2001
Yet another deal I found online. I completely missed the lovable “Jak and Daxter” platforming series when it hit the PlayStation 2 back in 2001, and was able to find all three bundled together in an online edition for the PlayStation 4.
Since the games are so old, it cost me a grand total of $2.50.
Developed by Naughty Dog — the studio behind “Crash Bandicoot” and “Uncharted” — “Jak and Daxter” feels like a transition between the two big franchises. The sunny, island atmosphere and platforming owes a lot to “Crash Bandicoot,” while the combat and epic story telling reek of “Uncharted.”
I’ll be honest. As much as I enjoyed the history lesson, I only played the first “Jak and Daxter” for a few minutes. The camera control is a bit clunky, and I got lost nearly as soon as I started.
While not as treasured as the competing (and admittedly superior) “Ratchet and Clank” platforming series, “Jak 2″ and “Jak 3” are supposed to be better than the original. You can pick up a re-skin of the original on the PlayStation 4 store, but it will cost you $15.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” available for Switch and Wii U
I’ve been playing this game since reviewing it in April, and I’m still playing it. Odds are, I’ll be playing it during my next vacation in December. It never ends.