Top 10 Games to Help Fight the Winter Blues
5. Blue Dragon
Featuring the artistic design of Akira Toriyama, the creator of notable landmark titles Dragonquest and Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon may be said to be the last (or hopefully just the most recent) of the great JRPGs. As is standard fare, turn-based combat features a group of young children out to defend their village and overcome a great evil facing the world. Empowered by “shadows” representative of their individual spirits, they trek across many strange lands, driven by a sense of duty and inexplicable optimism which is frankly contagious. The lively combat, colorful graphic design, and masterful storyline that remains within the expected constraints of the genre is just the thing to brighten flagging spirits.
4. Dance Dance Revolution
I’ve never been much for gimmick games, I’ll admit, but anything to get your body moving and heart rate up, right? And there have been an apparently unending number of DDR titles released, giving you more options in terms of what songs you’d like to dance to. It’s four buttons, a cavalcade of combinations, lights, music, and a score to give that all-important sense of accomplishment with each title. Even if you have to jump around frenetically in your room so no one knows your dirty little secret, it’s worth it.
3. Guitar Hero
More socially acceptable (for guys) than DDR, Guitar Hero has actually inspired many people to take up music as a hobby. A real guitar is infinitely more difficult to master than a plastic one with five buttons (I could never get that fifth button down), but the combination of movements with both hands and focus on proper timing is enough to help prime the prospective guitar player so that their coordination is actually improved over that of people who pick up guitars without first having played the game. And, even if you never pick up a real guitar, playing a piece of music flawlessly to a cheering crowd (albeit a digital crowd) can have a marked effect on one’s morale and immediate outlook on life.
2. Eternal Sonata
It’s rare to find a title that floats across the player’s senses like the wisps of intangible dream fog left over from sleep. Eternal Sonata succeeds in transporting the player to a world couched in the music to which the Polish romantic pianist and composer Frederic Francois Chopin devoted himself. That world is one into which Chopin disappeared in the final few fevered hours of his life, in RPG form for the sake of the player, with a clear tip of the hat to the works of Lewis Carroll in the process. And during a time of the year where death abounds, it’s a strong and peaceful reminder that there may indeed be something beyond.
1. Viva Pinata
What better way to overcome the suffocating winter than with eternal spring? Tend your garden in Viva Pinata; stamp out weeds and nurture flowers. Build homes and decorations. Make things beautiful, and watch as exotic pinatas arrive from all quarters to congratulate you and bask in the tiny little world you’ve built for them. No purpose here. No pressure. Just the joy of being master of your own little fiefdom for as long as you could want. Or need.