Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bit by Bit: February 2015

February usually marks the beginning of the first quarter game rush.  Despite not being as jam-packed with titles as past years, this February has been a good month for games.  Nintendo launched the New Nintendo 3DS XL in North America with two highly anticipated portable games, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and some big AAA titles like Evolve and The Order: 1886 dropped.  It's easy to say February was quite an eventful month.  As midterms and major projects will soon be a constant part of life, best to utilize the little free time I have to deliver another exciting edition of Bit by Bit.

Game of the Month
As much as I love the core Pokemon RPGs, I can honestly say Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire didn't excite me that much before their release.  Nintendo and GameFreak have been releasing Pokemon RPGs every year since Pokemon Platinum released for DS in 2009 and I was starting to get sick of the yearly releases.  Although I planned on buying one of the remakes no matter what (sorry, I'm a sucker for Pokemon), I seriously thought Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were going to be as disappointing as Black and White 2.  Much like past entries, differences between the two versions are relegated to minor story alterations and Pokemon exclusive to one version over the other.  While I only played Omega Ruby, my opinions on the game can be applied to Alpha Sapphire as well.

It may have taken a few hours of play, but oh was I ever so wrong about these games.  Applying the 3D graphics of Pokemon X and Y to the third gen Pokemon games may be the most noticeable addition to these remakes, but it isn't the biggest.  First, story has become a bigger part of recent Pokemon games and Omega Ruby makes huge advances in this area.  The story is far more engaging than any Pokemon game before it especially the Delta Episode.  Unlocked after beating the Elite Four, the Delta Episode links capturing Rayquaza into a Hoenn-wide adventure that has major implications on the series as a whole.  Instead of skipping through story moments, I felt compelled to read through all the lines of dialogue for once.  The other big additions change the means of exploring the world and capturing Pokemon.  The DexNav app of the PokeNav makes finding and capturing Pokemon in each route a lot more approachable as it tells what Pokemon are in the immediate vicinity and helps in finding rarer Pokemon.  Also the Soar ability adds a new dimension to exploring as you get to see Hoenn from the skies.  Soaring makes the act of flying far more engaging than the fast-travel of regular flying and allows trainers to go off the beaten path to find Mirage Spots, special locations that offer the chance to catch rare and legendary Pokemon.  After experiencing the wonders of soaring, I hope that it replaces Fly as the prime form for aerial travel in future Pokemon games.

Despite my early skepticism, Pokemon Omega Ruby turned out to be a great game that I gladly sunk my precious time into.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed the game, enough to pick it for Game of the Month over The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, I still feel I am at my wits end with these yearly releases.  I love Pokemon, but Nintendo and GameFreak please give us a year off!

Most Anticipated Game of the Month
It seems Intelligent Systems is dominating my Most Anticipated Game of the Month section this year.  Last month, I gushed over the announcement of a new Fire Emblem for the 3DS.  This month, I am eagerly anticipating Intelligent Systems' new intellectual property, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.  First announced at last year's E3, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. along with Splatoon represent the first new properties for the Big N since the early years of the Wii.  Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s interesting look and the pedigree of Intelligent Systems sold me on the game initially then the demo came out and everything changed for the better.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is one of those games that you can't capture the quality in screenshots or trailers—you need to get your hands on it.  The demo takes players through the first few missions of the game, which slowly teach you the core mechanics of the game.  Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. takes aspects from both Valkyria Chronicles and the newest X-Com and blend them into an extremely engaging turn-based strategy game with turns that play like a third-person shooter.

After getting hands-on with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., I have a feeling this will be one of those great titles that gets lost in the shuffle because its a new IP and doesn't have much marketing from Nintendo.  I highly recommend 3DS owners download the demo and give Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. a chance.  It is well worth it

Video of the Month
There are times when a trailer comes around that just sells you on a game.  It may only be a few minutes long, but everything contained in that video just leaves you in awe and wonder.  That happened this past month with the newest trailer for Persona 5.

In all honesty, I am still fairly new to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise as I have only played the fourth entry in the main series.  Despite my current unfamiliarity with the franchise, the trailer caught my full attention with its stylish UI, jazz soundtrack and unique gameplay mechanics.  Seriously, traversing through the world like an action-platformer or sneaking up on enemies using cover in a JRPG is freaking awesome!

Thanks to this trailer I want to dive headfirst into the world of Persona.  Be it Persona 3, 4, Q or Arena, I am really excited to get into this series when I have the time.  Also I will definitely be there day one to buy the newest entry when it releases later this year.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015: The Year and Games Ahead

Although we are already a month into 2015, the year is still young.  As each day passes, we move one step closer to the next big game release or product launch.  After how disappointing 2014 was, the video game industry will be trying to bounce back in 2015 with grander spectacles, shocking surprises and innovative concepts.  While we may not know everything that is coming in the next 11 months, I want to share, in no particular order, the games and other products I am looking forward to in the coming year.
Yes, I know it's not socially acceptable for a 23 year-old adult male to be collecting little "children's" toys, but I honestly don't care.  Nintendo and their games have and always will be a significant part of my life and the ability to get physical statues of the characters I love without spending an entire paycheck is incredible.  I want to own them all, but things haven't been going to plan considering the low supply and the insanely high demand.  With their cool designs and extra functionality, I am excited to buy future waves of Amiibos, but I am not going to let these toys consume my life like they have for many others.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
If it wasn't for the additional delay, it would only be weeks between me and Geralt of Rivia instead of months.  The delay may be for the best considering all my responsibilities with school and work at the moment.  No matter when The Witcher 3 drops, I know it consume a gigantic portion of my time.  The scope and scale of The Witcher 3 is just mesmerizing as you can literally go anywhere and do anything you want in its open fantasy world.  Every new piece of information, be it a trailer or news story, gets my blood pumping to play this game.  On May 19th, the rampage of the Wild Hunt begins.
Mighty No. 9
Everybody and their mother has been clamouring for a new Mega Man game for years now.  No matter how loud and boisterous people get about the severe lack of the Blue Bomber, Capcom just doesn't want to give their mascot any love outside the occasional cameo or guest appearance.  While Capcom may not be listening to their fans, Keiji Inafune, father of Mega Man, took the opportunity to capitalize on the high demand with Mega Man's spiritual successor, Mighty No. 9.  Launched via Kickstarter back in 2013, Mighty No. 9 easily demolished its goal and has gone onto entice millions to donate money even after the initial funding campaign.  What Inafune and his studio Comcept have shown off of Mighty No. 9 through trailers, closed betas and previews has looked outstanding.  The game has similar elements to past Mega Man games, but combines them with some unique mechanics, such as dashing as the main way of dispatching enemies, that sets protagonist Beck out of his older brother's shadow. With Mighty No. 9 coming to every system on the market today, there's no way you should miss out on the biggest platforming games of the year.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Back in 2012, Xenoblade Chronicles impressed with its humongous vistas and superb adaptation of MMORPG gameplay into a single-player experience and on the Wii no less.  Sadly due to a limited production run, many people were unable to experience one of the best JRPGs of the last generation.  For those who purchase the New Nintendo 3DS, a port of the original Xenoblade Chronicles is coming in early April, but, in my opinion, the smaller screen of the 3DS will not do the magnificence of Xenoblade's incredible scope justice.  Fortunately, Monolith Soft and Nintendo are joining forces once again to deliver a sequel for the Wii U later this year.  Xenoblade Chronicles X looks to have even larger environments to explore, more refined RPG mechanics and the addition of mechs!  As much as I love giant robots, the added mechs makes the scope of the combat feel as awe-inspiring as the environments.  If you aren't convinced, take some time to watch the 24-minute gameplay trailer Nintendo released a few weeks back and see for yourself.
The Legend of Zelda
The release of a brand new Zelda is always a highly anticipated event.  This time around, the anticipation is at a fever pitch.  Nintendo has shown only two short trailers for the game yet they have been enough to send gamers into a frenzy of speculation.  The reason for this frenzy comes from the significant changes to the formula in the way of progression, combat and exploration.  The most significant change being the creation of a fully realized open-world Hyrule where you can complete dungeons however you choose.  Since Nintendo is aiming to have this new Zelda out by the end of 2015, there is still plenty of information to be revealed in the months ahead.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bit by Bit: January 2015

With Silver Bit's Year in Review 2014 ending last week, it is time to look forward to everything coming out in the next 12 months.  Aside from a few games, most being re-releases, this January has been slow on the games front.  On the news front, there has been a steady flow of new information on upcoming games already known or recently revealed.  An onslaught of news came from Nintendo as their January Nintendo Direct revealed their entire winter line-up from the launch of the New 3DS to Mario Party 10.  Keep reading for more on the latest Direct.  Also keep reading as I have lots to cover in the first Bit by Bit of 2015.

Game of the Month
When I write The Games I Missed article of the Year in Review, it takes me a while to actually start playing any of them.  Thanks to the Steam Holiday Sale and a greater desire to play games on my computer, things were different this year as I jumped into playing a couple games on the list.  Playing one game, in particular, would go on to influence my decisions for the Game of the Month.  The Game of the Month was about to go to Pokemon Omega Ruby before I got into The Wolf Among Us.  While I spent a shorter amount of time with The Wolf Among Us compared to Omega Ruby, it left quite a impact on me.  

The Wolf Among Us is Telltale's Game first game after the incredible The Walking Dead Season One.  Coming after such a lauded game by both gamers and critics alike, Wolf Among Us had high expectations to live up to.  After beating the game, it is safe to say that Wolf Among Us demolishes those expectations.  Although it has some beautiful character moments that bring to light the intricacies of Bigby, Snow White and other fables, the game is a lot more plot-driven than The Walking Dead.  Speaking of the plot, The Wolf Among Us delivers some mind-blowing twists that had my mind racing in speculation for hours on end.  While story takes centre stage, the conversation-based gameplay and quick-time action sequences brings the entire experience together.  Despite needing to complete school readings, each episode had me eager to sit down and play more, the one thing all episodic games should do.  

Most Anticipated Game of the Month
Last week, Nintendo delivered their first Nintendo Direct of 2015.  The 45-minute presentation was great as the Big N announced their entire line-up for the first quarter of the year including release dates (something they usually withhold until the very last minute).  While the New Nintendo 3DS's reveal for North America headlined the show, I am not as enamored with the update as the vast majority.  Personally, I am not spending upwards of 200 dollars to get new features which can be added to my 3DS through peripherals.  It is a wise choice for those with the original 3DS, but not for those with an XL.  I can continue with this tangent, but it is time to get down to business.

My favourite piece of news from the Direct was the announcement of the new Fire Emblem for 3DS.  From the trailer, the new Fire Emblem looks to be very similar in gameplay and art style to Awakening, which isn't a bad thing considering Awakening is, in my opinion, the best 3DS game released to date.  Also the rumours about Fire Emblem's potential release in 2015 has spiked my anticipation for the game tenfold.  More Fire Emblem is always a good thing in my books.  Now, if we can only get an update on Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem from Nintendo.

Video of the Month
Usually when a Nintendo Direct is released, I am hard pressed to include a video of or from the event as the Video of the Month.  This time around that precedence isn't the case as there is a video even better.  Funny enough, my video of choice is Nintendo related as well.  It comes from a great Youtube show called Game Theory, a show which seeks to use video games as a tool for education.  The episode dives into the tragic hidden lore of the Super Smash Bros. series.  It is quite fascinating especially when MatPat looks at the lore's connections to creator Masahiro Sakurai and the possible inner dilemma the famed creator faces with Smash Bros.  If you enjoy this video, I highly encourage watching past episodes of Game Theory.  You might learn some interesting connections between academic theories and video games such as applying multiverse theory to Pokemon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Year in Review 2014: Game of the Year

Every year, all roads lead to one placethe Game of the Year.  The title gets thrown around a lot throughout a year as gamers and critics voice their pleasure with select games.  But what truly makes a game worthy of being called Game of the Year?  Is it the most unique experience on the market?  Is it the game with the highest aggregate rating on Metacritic?  Is it the title that sold the most units?  Or is it the most popular game released in the last 12 months?  The criteria for what determines someone's Game of the Year differs with the person.  Personally, I determine Game of the Year with a mix of my highest rated games of the year and the strong feelings I experienced while playing each game.  In a cheesy way, my Game of the Year usually elicits a sense of childlike glee from the bowels of my soul.  The one game to do just that in 2014 was Shovel Knight.
Full disclosure, I backed Shovel Knight when developer Yacht Club Games pitched the game on Kickstarter in early 2013.  At the time, it looked like a cool mash-up of classic NES games like DuckTales, Castlevania and Mega Man that I found very appealing.  Also with the game set for release on Wii U, I jumped at the chance to support a game for the then struggling console.  Shovel Knight made its goal and backers waited almost a year and a half before the game was released.  While I was very excited for this throwback to NES games of the past, nothing could have prepared me for the final product.

Despite Shovel Knight borrowing its mechanics and aesthetics from NES era games, it makes these elements feel distinctly its own through a great amount of polish and refinement.  Everything is so finely tuned that with practice and perseverance anybody can learn to play the game with any sort of mastery.  Some of the incredible feats one can perform in escaping death or reaching a hidden area will make any jaw drop.  In addition to Shovel Knight's gameplay and aesthetics, the game packs a great amount of items to collect, feats to accomplish and tons of cheats to experiment with.  For just 15 dollars, Shovel Knight gives enough content to rival games four times its price with even more on the way through free updates.

Although I find no fault with Shovel Knight, that reason alone is not why I chose it for Game of the Year.  It is hard to describe what exactly makes Shovel Knight so special because one aspect of the game doesn't make it stand out.  It is the combination of perfectly tuned mechanics, beautiful retro-inspired graphics, wonderful chiptune soundtrack and respectful reverence for a bygone era which makes Shovel Knight stand above any game released in 2014.  Don't let the cheaper price tag and downloadable distribution method fool you, sometimes the best games come in smallest packages.  In Shovel Knight's case, the Game of the Year came a small affordable package.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Year in Review 2014: The Games

2014 was a strange year for video games.  Originally predicted to be an overwhelmingly successful year for the industry coming off of the excellent launch of the next generation, 2014 slowly morphed into a year of disappointment, polarization and the unexpected.  Many of the games people were clamouring for got pushed to 2015 and beyond, huge AAA titles like Assassin's Creed Unity, The Elder Scrolls Online and Watch Dogs fell far short of their tremendous hype and to top it all off, the best games of the year came from the most unexpected places.

Some of the best experiences of 2014 came from independent developers, free-to-play games and Nintendo's Wii U.  In fact, three quarters of the games I played during 2014 were on either Wii U or 3DS and it definitely shows in this list.  While I personally like to play a diversity of games throughout the year, nothing really sunk its claws into me like the offerings on Nintendo's systems during the last calendar year.  Before we dive into the games I consider the best of 2014, there are some great games that just missed the cut: Azure Striker Gunvolt, Bravely Default, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and Infamous: Second Son.

While the games on this list are the best games I played in 2014, there is still on more article in this Year in Review—the Game of the Year.  Stay tuned for that article in the coming week and enjoy my favourite games of 2014.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The initial response to the reveal of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was not favourable.  During a dire time for Nintendo and the Wii U, fans were hoping for Retro Studios to reveal an epic new title like a new Metroid or whole new IP to turn around the bad situation.  Despite their pedigree, nobody wanted Retro to make another Donkey Kong and resentment towards Tropical Freeze ensued.  Nintendo and Retro would make the haters eat their words upon the game's release this past February.

Much like Donkey Kong Country Returns, Tropical Freeze brings back pixel perfect 2.5D platforming to the fore front.  It is one of the most difficult games available on the Wii U as each level will test the limits of one's reflexes.  In being difficult, Tropical Freeze isn't cheap or punishing.  With each death, you learn about the intricacies of the gameplay and controls which will help in overcoming the obstacles ahead.  In addition to the platforming and difficult, Tropical Freeze adds more Kongs outside of Diddy to accompany DK on his adventure.  Each Kong, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky, has their own moves and special abilities to help DK avoid death, collect items and reach secret areas.  The option of which Kong to use adds for more experimentation and replayability to Tropical Freeze over its predecessors.

After the slew of great releases for the Wii U in 2014, do not lose Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in the shuffle.  It may have come out very early in 2014, but Tropical Freeze is worth it no matter what.
Mario Golf: World Tour
After such a strong 2013, the 3DS had nowhere to go but plateau in 2014.  There were a good number of great titles released for the system during the past year, but nothing could compete with the frequency of the releases in 2013.  Despite a lighter year for the 3DS, Nintendo and Camelot produced one of the finest titles in the system's history and the Mario sports game period.

Mario Golf: World Tour perfectly blends the superbly tuned gameplay and mechanics from console Mario Golfs with the popular RPG systems of the portable entries in the series.  Speaking of the gameplay, World Tour has made the controls more approachable than in past installments.  I was adding top spin and back spin to shots with ease, something I found unnecessarily difficult in previous games.  In blending styles, World Tour brings the single and multiplayer modes closer than ever before.  Everything you do in the single player Castle Club mode prepares your Mii avatar for competition in local and online multiplayer.  In particular, the online multiplayer is where World Tour truly shines the brightest as the connection is incredibly smooth and allows players to post scores at their own pace.

Everything in Mario Golf: World Tour comes together to create a cartridge that will stay in your 3DS for months on end.
Mario Kart 8
As great of a game Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was, it didn't turn around the Wii U's struggling sales.  That honour goes to Mario's return to kart racing.  Mario Kart 8's huge sales were not the result of name alone as the newest Mario Kart is easily the best entry since Mario Kart DS less than a decade ago.

Mario Kart 8 quite literally flipped Nintendo's kart racing franchise on its head with the addition of anti-gravity sections pulled from F-Zero.  The use of anti-gravity injects new life into Mario Kart's track design as they twist and turn in intricate ways, contain a plethora of shortcuts and offer plenty of opportunities to gain race-changing speed boosts.  Another addition to the Mario Kart formula comes in the form of new items, which improve the game's balance especially the Super Horn.  Using the Super Horn to stop a Blue Shell at the last minute is one of the most exhilarating experiences in video games this past year.  As great of a game Mario Kart 8 is, the lacking Battle Mode and inclusion of too many clone characters hold it back from being the best Mario Kart ever.

Despite Mario Kart 8's shortcomings, Mario Kart 8 is a ball to play.  Along with being loads of fun. the game is the first step in Mario Kart's next major evolution.
Bayonetta 2
Insanity is the best word to use in describing Bayonetta 2.  Everything from the story to the characters to the combat will have you laughing hysterically due to the game's over-the-top nature.

With Bayonetta 2, Platinum Games improves on every facet of the original title.  The controls are streamlined, combat feels smoother, combos are easier to pull off, levels are better paced, action sequences are more varied and quick-time events are better utilized.  On top of all the improvements, Platinum has included a plethora of Nintendo costumes which actually change aspects of the game—even adding an Arwing from Star Fox to one of the vehicle sections—and an online multiplayer mode to tackle waves of enemies with others.

All in all, Bayonetta 2 is one of the finest action games on the market today and a major reason to own a Wii U.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS
You can't include one of the new Smash Bros. games without the other. While the 3DS and Wii U versions of the game share certain modes, features and the character roster, both offer different experiences.

The 3DS version is naturally focused on shorter, fast-paced sessions of play.  In turn, all the modes in the game are balanced for the shorter sessions as rounds of Classic, All Star and the new Smash Run modes can each be completed within 10 minutes.  Speaking of Smash Run, this 3DS exclusive mode is just incredible.  Smash Run mixes the best parts of the Subspace Emissary and Adventure modes from past Smash game with the core of this series—the fighting.  You have five minutes to collect as many power-ups, trophies and other secrets strewn across a ginormous map populated with grunts from different Nintendo franchises.  When the five minutes are up, you and your three opponents compete in a Smash Battle or Race to the Finish with enhanced stats.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Wii U version is made for longer play sessions as it is packed to the brim with content.  In addition to including all the modes in the 3DS version except Smash Run, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has 8-Player Smash, Event Mode, Master and Crazy Orders, Stage Builder, Amiibo support, Gamecube controller support and Masterpieces.  While Smash for 3DS is the appetizer, Smash for Wii U is the full course.

I can go on for hours about all the finer details of these two titles, but we don't have the time or space.  Both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS are among the top tier for their respective systems.  Due to both games offering different experiences, I encourage everybody to pick them both up.  If you can only choose one, you're getting a stellar game either way.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review 2014: Games I Missed

Compared to previous years, the video game industry seemed much more concerned with the future than the present in 2014.  There were a lot of games released over the course of the past twelve months, but not to the extent of being overwhelming like past years.  2014 was suppose to be the coming out party for the next generation of consoles.  With an onslaught of delays, re-releases, unfulfilled hype and buggy launches, 2014 felt more like a transitional year for developers to ramp up production for their true next gen titles.

Although there were less games released in 2014, no one person can play through them all.  There were quite a few games that I personally wanted to make time for, but never got around to with my constantly busy schedule.  Hopefully, a new year will bring plenty of chances to play these missed titles.
The Wolf Among Us
Some may debate the position of The Wolf Among Us on this list due to the first episode releasing late 2013.  Considering the majority of the game released during this past calendar year, I believe it is safe to say The Wolf Among Us is a 2014 release.  Ever since I saw the preview for it in an issue of Game Informer, The Wolf Among Us has ranked high among the games I want to play especially after experiencing Telltale's exceptional work on The Walking Dead.  I almost got the chance to put some time into Wolf Among Us when I purchased the game during the Steam Summer Sale and installed it on my Mac.  Funny enough, the fall semester of university came, I got a brand new laptop and completely forgot about The Wolf Among Us.  It has been in the back of my mind for months now, but I never made the time.  A lot of good things have been said about the game's take on the Fables universe and highly interactive action scenes that I look forward to making time for The Wolf Among Us in the near future.
Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War
2014 hasn't been the best year for Ubisoft.  Most of their major titles, including Assassin's Creed Unity, The Crew and Watch Dogs, suffered from being over hyped, extremely buggy and rushed to market.  While these titles hurt the French publisher, there were two downloadable games that brought some much needed good faith Ubisoft's way.  I'm speaking of Child of Light and Valiant Hearts.  As the first two games to use the incredible UbiArt engine outside of the recent Rayman titles, they both show how flexible the engine is in crafting games of different genres.  While the presentation of each game is second-to-none, both feature compelling and creative gameplay to complement the beautiful art.  Due to their unique premises and gameplay, both games are deserving of being on anyone's must play lists.
Everybody seems to have an opinion about Bungie's newest title, except me.  While I have seen tons of coverage for the game and watched my brothers play it multiple times, I never had the motivation to sit down and play Destiny since the beta.  Considering Destiny is such a massive game that one can lose hours in, it doesn't work well with my extremely hectic schedule during the school year.  It is no fault of the game; I just prefer playing in smaller chucks during the term.  Despite the polarizing opinions people have on Destiny, I really want to play the game for myself to form my own opinion instead of being swayed by the masses.  While I am a little afraid of being outclassed by those playing since launch, it will be exciting to see how Destiny has changed since the beta.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bit by Bit: December 2014

The funny thing about plans is that they get thrown out the window at a moment's notice.  Coming off of school, I had a lot of ideas swirling around my head in which I was so eager to write about.  During this time, life has been a lot more eventful than I anticipated it to be and plans changed to cover these new developments like The Game Awards, Amiibogeddon and the Uncharted 4 demo.  In all honesty, I was hoping to produce a lot more content than I actually did, but I am really happy with the quality of articles posted in the last month.

As 2014 comes to a close, Silver Bit starts its annual Year in Review series.  Check back in the coming weeks to see the great games I missed out on, my favourite games of the year and the illustrious Game of the Year.  Starting with this new edition of Bit by Bit, Silver Bit is going to bring in 2015 in style.

Game of the Month
With Silver Bit's Year in Review just around the corner, I am going to be highlighting a lot of great games.  Sadly, I am going to be cutting back on the number of games I highlight in The Games portion of the Year in Review.  I am making this decision due to how little games I played this year compared to previous years.  Since I am cutting back, some great games are not going to make the cut.  Most of these titles have already been highlighted in past editions of Bit by Bit or through reviews and previews.  With that in mind, I want to shine the spotlight on one more title that deserves some love despite not making the cut.  Without any further ado, December's Game of the Month is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Wii U.

Many people fondly remember the Captain Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World for their change in pace and unorthodox gameplay.  Mario games are known for their pixel perfect platforming and these levels stripped that away.  Since Captain Toad couldn't jump, players needed to maneuver the camera in order to reveal the optimal path for Toad to take.  While there were only a handful of Captain Toad levels in 3D World, they left quite the impression on players.  In fact, these levels left such a great impression that Nintendo elaborated on the gameplay and puzzles to create an entire game revolving around the whimsical captain.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker features over 70 levels to complete on Toad and Toadette's quest to collect treasure and defeat the psychedelic bird Wingo.  The levels in Treasure Tracker grow to be four to five times larger than the ones found in 3D World.  This expansion in level size creates new challenges for players to overcome as the puzzles involve multiple levels and more enemies stand in the way.  Adding to this challenge are the special objectives, such as collecting three gems, completing a level without taking damage or finding the Gold Mushroom, offered for every level.  All-in-all, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a charmingly fun puzzle platformer that deserves more than getting lost in the hustle and bustle of larger titles this holiday season.

Most Anticipated Toys of the Month
Nintendo's line of Amiibo figures have gotten tons of attention since they released alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U this past November.  This attention stems from the ensuing craze started from these figures selling out across the globe.  I have been fortunate enough to get every Amiibo released in the first two waves.  Now, my sights are set on collecting the third wave releasing this coming February.  So far, I have pre-ordered every figure available through EB Games including the exclusive Shulk figure and am impatiently waiting to pre-order the other exclusive figures as soon as they are available.  To say these figures are my most anticipated things of the month may be an understatement as collecting these toys are becoming a job unto itself.

Video of the Month 
There was nothing better at The Game Awards than the world premiere gameplay for the new Legend of Zelda for Wii U.  Way back at E3, Nintendo gave us a thin little snippet of a trailer to show the initial vision of the game.  While only four minutes in length, this video gave gamers a ton more information to chew on.  No piece of information made my jaw drop than the sheer size of Hyrule in the new Zelda.  From the few seconds focused on the map, Hyrule looks to be as expansive as the largest open worlds from the past generation.  Some cool moments came from showcasing the horseback combat especially the slow motion vaulting bow attack.  Altogether, the gameplay video for the new Legend of Zelda is something to behold.  Take four minutes out of your busy schedule to take in the awesomeness of the next evolution in this legendary franchise.