The 8 Ball 02.04.14: Top 8 Sick Day Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 02.04.2014
From Super Mario Bros. 3 and World of Warcraft to Mass Effect 2, Tony Hawk's Underground, and more, 411's Marc Morrison ranks his Top 8 Sick Day Games!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. With it being cold/flu season right now, Liana and I decided to try and pick some games that are best to play while sick. My own criteria were either short-burst games, games where you had the capacity for choices, or games that are just kind of easy to get into. Nothing too demanding, or that requires a lot of concentration, because most times you aren't playing with your full attention at the game. Let's begin:
8. Kagero: Deception 2
An odd choice on my list, but one I enjoyed playing. The Deception series is about the player being in a large mansion/castle and laying traps down to kill the unwitting humans that happen to venture forth. Kagero was different from the first Deception game, being third person, a better trap improvement system, and being able to link traps together to form combos to hurt the NPC's more. There is a pretty large amount of replayability, both in how you research/upgrade traps, and what choices you make (the game has multiple endings). You may be feeling sick when you play it, but at least you don't have a shock arrow in your back as a boulder crushes you on the head.
7. Mass Effect 2
At its core gameplay elements, Mass Effect 2 is actually kind of a simple game. Most of the time you just run from cover to cover, taking headshots at the various enemies, using powers as you please. I chose Mass Effect 2 because while Mass Effect 3 has slightly better gameplay, the overall characters are worse. While in Mass Effect 1, the general gameplay is there but there are a few oddities as to make it feel a bit archaic. ME2 strikes a good balance between the two by being accessible but feeling comfortable enough for most modern gamers. Plus, the general way Mass Effect 2 is structured, with the mission system, means you don't have to invest too long in it, if you start feeling worse. Except for the big story beat missions, most can be done in under a half hour or so, easy.
6. World of Warcraft
Given my own mixed-to-neutral thoughts on WoW at large these days, this may seem like a strange choice. I generally think WoW's best days are behind it, the cultural zeitgeist of the game has passed, and only the obsessed are still playing. However, with WoW's daily quests (something I normally hate), the game can become fun if you are stuck home. The daily quests offer a nice mix of slow progression with some repetitive game mechanics thrown in. The quests usually break down basically in variations of "Kill/Collect/Heal any of Enemies/Items/Allies", but there is something to be said for knowing exactly what you're getting yourself into. It's like wrapping yourself in a warm, serene, tedious blanket. This is doubly so on a PVE server where the threat of getting ganked is down to nil.
5. Tony Hawk's Underground
A lot of people have the belief that Tony Hawk 3 is the best one in the series. While it's a superb game, it still was constrained by the timer aspect, meaning you either had to have a damn good run getting all the goals, or replaying a level multiple times to do everything. Tony Hawk 4 did away with it, but the career mode had nothing big to keep you going. Tony Hawk Underground was the sweet spot to me as the pinnacle of the franchise. It had large levels, an actual story, and some good cinematic moments to keep you interested in what was going on. The getting off the board thing was awkward, but it did let you explore the levels a little better and do it at your own pace. The game was just good enough in letting you complete simple goals, but if you got good, then it would reward you in kind. It's a perfect game for when you're sick and can't skateboard on your own.
4. GTA: San Andreas
Don't get me wrong, GTA 5 is a fantastic game. At present, it's my third favorite GTA game, behind this one, and Vice City, but it's still no San Andreas. San Andreas has the tried & true elements of the prior GTA games, some innovative features (block warfare, some slightly deeper RPG mechanics than GTA 5), and a really wacky reality. While most of the game is actually played for straight, it's when "The Truth" is introduced then the game goes off the deep-end in some great ways. The first is with his "Are you going to San Fierro?" mission where you have to light pot fields on fire and escape in the Mothership. The second is during the "Green Goo" mission where you get the jetpack and the game really can open up. All the GTA games feature side missions, places to explore, or just simple fun as you cruise around the towns (especially when sick and nothing else to do), but San Andreas has the personality to match up with the gameplay in a perfect fusion.
3. Super Mario Bros. 3
I'll preface this by saying that damn near all Mario games are good "sick at home" games. Save for odd games like Mario Is Missing, or Mario's Time Machine, most of the main series Mario games fit this bill fine. I picked Mario 3 just because of the creativity in the suits and the ways you could tackle levels with them. There was great diversity in the levels also, from desert lands, to underwater areas, and levels that made the world giant, and Mario very small. Mario World is a better game, but I think that they took more risks with Mario 3, and it showed off by having zany stuff in it. Anytime where you can tool around in a big shoe as you're sick, the game gets a pass in my book.
2. Bejeweled 3
Sometimes you just want a game with no stress in it and that is where Bejeweled 3 comes in. With its Zen mode (a take on the Endless mode from B2), you can just play forever, never having the stress of the game ending because the board locks up. The reason I picked this over B2 is because it does have additional modes if you want to partake of them. The big one is the quest mode which gives you various variation of gameplay in order to complete different treasures. But the 4 "hidden" modes, Ice Storm, Poker, Butterflies, and Diamond Mine (especially) all give rise to you spending hours of playing the game if you're sick.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
This is my top pick solely because I can actually remember playing this game 20 years ago when I was home sick one day when I was 9 years old. I had already beaten the game by then, but I started a new game that day, and about 7 hours later, I beat it again. I didn't get every heart container, but I did get every item and tried for every upgrade I could remember. The later Zelda games tend to be very long, drawn-out epics, especially the protracted Twilight Princess, and can take a very long time in actually get going. LTTP takes all of 3 minutes, run out the door, run to the garden, fall in a hole, sword. It's not as quick as original Zelda's time of 15 seconds, but it gets you into the game at once. I try and go back to replaying LTTP every year or so just to brush up on it and get me to remember the time I sat at home sick playing it several years ago.
The Better Half with Liana K
Top 8 Sick Day Games
I was sick for almost a week, and Marc and I came up with this topic in the middle of that. The perfect sick day game should be engrossing without being too intense or frustrating, striking that happy medium between distracting you from feeling awful and not being so hard that it reminds you that you're not 100%. Here are some games that got me through various sicknesses, by being just the right kind of awesome.
The original Fable was cute, long, the combat was easy, and it had fart jokes on cue. When I'm not feeling well, this is perfect. It also had pretty, theme park-style music, which is easier on sinus headaches than the typical intense "bad guys are trying to kill you stupid!" tunes.
7: Gone Home
I finally played this during my recent cold from hell, and wow, what a lovely little game. It's short, relatively cheap, and isn't flashy, but it tells a good story set in the real world. It was also a great nineties nostalgia trip. It reminded me of those magic eye posters I never could get to work properly, and game cartridges! Oh game cartridges, symbols of a bygone era, where ten-dollar games were probably crappy, instead of just on sale on Steam. The comparisons that Gone Home has gotten are bizarre, because there's really very little else out there like it. No, it's not at all like Amnesia. WTF? I can see people's reactions being a love it or hate it thing, but it's funny to see how angry people get over the praise it's received. I don't understand how people can get so angry over an indie game. Guys, it's a game made by four people and their cats! It can't hurt you!
6: Tomb Raider
The latest Tomb Raider game is probably the most intense game on this list, but the combat is still pretty easy (think Bioshock) and the puzzles are far less difficult than previous games, even when sick. Admittedly, the insane sprays of bullets were overwhelming to my congested head at times. I also think I started hallucinating tentacles in some of the more torture-porny sequences. There were moments I thought I was in a final fantasy game due to the stellar graphics... and the tendency for Lara to make "oh isn't that fancinating!" faces like an FF character. The game isn't very long by open world standards, which was great for killing time over three days when I couldn't to anything but produce snot. Would I go back to Tomb Raider? Probably not, because the story was easily its weakness. But it was exactly what I needed at the time.
5: Caesar III
Plebs are needed! That's all I remember from this late nineties city-building game, because I was running a fever when I played it. But it was colorful and fun, and it let me zone out while building sprawling ancient Roman structures. ... PLEBS ARE NEEDED! (Seriously that's important in that game, okay?)
4: Fallout New Vegas
Fallout New Vegas was one of those games that sat around forever, unplayed. I bought it on a steam sale, but it was never a priority because I was so underwhelmed by Fallout 3. However, New Vegas recaptured that surreal quality I'd loved in the original Interplay games, and I could even pretend that my stomach flu was actually nausea from too many rads. The thing that makes Fallout games perfect for sick days is the VATS system: the game does the aiming for you, which is great when you're not at your physical best.
Apparently Bethesda makes good sick day games. The things I absolutely couldn't stand about Skyrim while healthy became godsends when I was under the weather. The lengthy travel times between locations became reasons to look at the pretty leaves and water. The repetitive combat didn't feel like a bad thing. Having to explore random places on the map let me discover, ironically enough, Peryite's shrine to pestilence, which leads to a pretty cool side quest. The low-budget voice acting sent me into giggles... followed by coughing fits. And the overpowered nature of my high-level character led to great amusement as I slayed dragons by whacking them in the ass with an axe while I cheered "what what! In the butt!" I was sick, okay?
2: Kingdom Hearts
I played Kingdom Hearts after I'd had my wisdom teeth removed, and wow, what a trip! I swore those giant monsters were coming out of the screen at me, and every time the dualshock went off, I almost dropped the controller. Disney characters mixed with monsters while on narcotic painkillers was a pretty hilarious experience even if, at the time, it was vaguely terrifying. I still can't tell you exactly what Kingdom Hearts is about, other than two closeted gay boys, Mickey, shadow people, some useless girl, and Final Fantasy characters operating under aliases... wait, maybe that IS what Kingdom Hearts is about! They do you think Mickey is hanging out with Alan Wake while they've both been trapped in The Dark Place for years?
1: Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed III was the game that got me through horrific complications after knee surgery, so I will irrationally love it forever. I'd started to play it previously, but got stuck on that tough Haytham eavesdrop quest about six hours in and I gave up on it. For some reason, however, I have more patience for games when I'm ill, so I toughed it out and became absolutely enamoured with its retelling of the American Revolution. I still think Sleepy Hollow is Assassin's Creed III: The TV Show. The one thing that killed me, though, was the hunting. Killing the beavers and raccoons made me feel so terrible, especially the beavers' little death cry that will haunt me forever with guilt! I'm sorry little beavers. You gave your lives for my achievements... isn't it telling that I don't give a damn about killing humans, but the beavers were a problem. Poor beavers.
I think my honorary 9th pick would be a game called "Divinity: Original Sin" upon Steam Early Access right now. I'm doing a preview on it now (and it will be up shortly) and find it incredibly deep but just fun on a surface level as well. Other games would be simple games like Sonic stuff, Disney Infinity/Skylanders, 10,000,000, Tetris, etc.
The General Roundup
Wow, there were a lot of comments again from last week, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them so bad that they were hilarious. I'll address a few now: To the "Linux Defender" (my nickname for you) who said that Linux powers server farms and televisions, you know what you forgot? GAMES! Let's take a quick look on Steam, shall we? Number of Steam games on Windows – 2,529. Number of Steam games on Mac – 665. Number of Steam games on Linux – 307. So 2,529 vs. 307. Yeah, I can clearly see that Linux isn't a joke when it comes to gaming. The other common refrain in the comments was how Nintendo is doing fine, or that the Wii U is somehow a success. I guess blowing sales estimates by 7 million consoles, having DLC plans stopped (Batman), and having the CEO/and game directors take a pay cut, is not a sign of worry? Yep, makes perfect sense to me now. I probably was a tad too negative in some of my predictions, in some parts. I am excited for some stuff this year, namely the Witcher 3, South Park, whatever Assassin's Creed game comes out, etc. But those are all fairly known quantities, and I wanted to give my overall thoughts on the gaming world. Also, Alienware did initially announce that their Steamboxes wouldn't be upgradeable, but then after some backlash announced they would be. It's telling though when the guy saying it says "f a customer is interested in modding and upgrading their rig on a regular basis, then we recommend the Alienware X51." Lastly, "Yes", that is a real picture of Liana.