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What we've been playing

A few of the games that have us hooked at the moment.

17th February 2023

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: arms, tabletop RPGs, and intergalactic bounty hunters.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.

Arms - Switch

It's my last day at Eurogamer, so I can't let it slide without bringing up my beloved Arms. I've had a fine run over what's coming up to 12 years, with plenty of highlights but of course I've a few regrets - like not giving an Essential to this outrageous take on the fighting genre that graced the Switch's launch year.

Cover image for YouTube videothe arms lore iceberg (nintendo)
Here's a funky Arms trailer I just dug out of the internet. I - Bertie - had no idea about the lore until now.

Okay it's a game with its shortcomings - it's light on content, and presents a fairly light approach to a style of game that's often dense with complexity, but the strength of execution and character are where you'll see the Nintendo difference. It was a product of one of my favourite eras of Nintendo, too, with the company clearly humbled by the failure of the Wii U as it was handing the reins over to a new generation of designers and developers - the same movement that gave us the brilliant Splatoon a couple of years previously.

Arms didn't have legs, ultimately, and while Splatoon has gone on to enjoy phenomenal success and a brace of excellent sequels as the years go on it seems clear that this was a one-shot effort with the team behind it surely having moved on to figuring out the future of the Mario Kart series. And that makes me love it all the more, really - it's a self-contained thing, a brilliant flash of colour and a fighting game that has the capability to lift your spirits within seconds. So yeah, five years on and I can say that it's pretty much essential.

-Martin

Quest RPG - pen and paper

I've been quite disciplined recently. I've been making sure that a few hours each weekend have gone into creating a campaign for the tabletop role-playing game Quest. I said earlier in the year I was determined to run a game of it, and I'm sticking to my goals!

I'm nearly there. I've got my set-up now: you live in a world that no longer wants magic, no longer trusts it, so of course, you're someone who has it. So you're taken, as a child, to a secret encampment to hide and grow up away from suspicious eyes. And there, you meet the other players, also children, and grow up together.

Time will pass quickly at first because I want to get the players up to young adult age for the end of the first act. So each session or two, a few years will pass. And as time jumps, you'll learn things from teachers, and play out vignettes of memory, and you'll see the camp grow as more seek sanctuary. The world beyond, it seems, is getting more oppressive.

With newcomers, though, will come suspicion. And with newcomers will come other children, who will form gangs of their own. Adults will consider your rivalry kids stuff, but these rivals will be a mechanic or feature I want to follow you throughout the game - long past the culmination of this first act.

Cover image for YouTube videoQuest tabletop RPG review - the definitive roleplaying game for beginners?
Here's Johnny, as they say, reviewing Quest. It is lighter on rules than other TTRPGs. The emphasis is on getting a collaborative story up and running as quickly as possible, and drawing people's imaginations into that - and keeping them there.

The act will end with an attack on the camp, at which point you'll be forced to go somewhere you've been told not to - and then everything is going to get very strange indeed.

That's it in theory, anyway, and without all the confusing detail that's been swirling around my head. What I need now are the areas you'll explore and the people you'll talk to - and the things you'll confront - while doing so.

Quest doesn't have pre-built campaigns in the way D&D does, hence all the work I've been putting in, but it does offer help in the form of a character book and a treasure book, each of which are filled with examples of both.

Moreover, characters - and some treasures - are sometimes intertwined in connected stories, meaning you can pull in whole secondary storylines from these books. They're much more than indexes for NPCs, in other words.

It's fascinating! Tricky, but an enjoyable puzzle to try and solve.

(Incidentally, the base digital gamebook for Quest is now free if you fancy a look.)

-Bertie

Metroid Prime Remastered - Switch

I don't think any other first-person game has been as immersive as Metroid Prime. I remember the fan uproar back when the game released on the GameCube, that players would be taken inside the visor of Samus Aran. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Cover image for YouTube videoMetroid Prime Remastered - DF Tech Review - An Essential Buy For Nintendo Switch
Digital Foundry is also a bag fan of the remake, in case you hadn't noticed.

Retro Studios really took that concept to heart. Using the different visors to scan every detail of the world and spot enemies in the dark is awesome, but better yet are the environmental effects: smoke, steam, and alien goo all smatter across your field of view. Seeing Samus's reflection on the inside of her visor at the flash of an explosion never gets old. And if you've ever wondered what the inside of a Metroid looks like, now's your chance.

And now the game - and those immersive effects - look better than ever in Metroid Prime Remastered. One of the GameCube - nay, Nintendo's - best ever games just got better, with a stunning world and level design that still holds up today. But where it really thrives is the atmosphere: Samus is utterly isolated on an alien planet where everything is out to kill her. The rain falls, the electronic score throbs, and I'm enchanted all over again. Getting lost has never felt so good.

Oh and that bit in the dark with the thermal visor? Still just as terrifying as ever.

-Ed