AA Roundtable: Games We Always Go Back To

January is often a quiet month when it comes to video game releases. Sure, independent games are released all year round, but the big AAA publishers often give January a miss. This means gamers can find themselves finished with the big holiday releases, and longing for something else to play.

With that in mind, to kick off a year of AA Roundtables, the Analog Addiction editors have gathered to tell us what games they tend to go back to when there’s nothing new to play.

Jamie Briggs – Rocket League
Rocket League may have only released last year on PlayStation 4 and PC platforms, but it’s easily become the game I go to when there is nothing new to play. What makes Rocket League a perfect stop-gap experience is the constant excitement I have during each match, which offers a unique and challenging experience every time I start a new match. But most of all, it’s constantly full of fun, crazy and insane moments.

Rocket League developer Psyonix has also made the game feel fresh, which is a strong reason why I find myself continuously going back for more. From the array of free content on offer, crazy game modes (like an ice hockey variation) and the promise of more out of this world maps going forward, there is always something new to do. The constant stream of additional free and paid content keeps me coming back, and makes every new gaming session feel new once again.

Rocket League is an excellent game in its own right, but it’s also one that will stay on my PlayStation 4 for years to come, keeping me entertained when nothing new is available to play.

Devon McCarty – Mario Kart

In the spirit of not echoing our fearless leader, I’ll swap Rocket League for Mario Kart 8

I would argue that 90% of us grew up playing Mario Kart in one form or another. When Mario Kart 8 was announced for the Wii U, I didn’t question buying the console because I knew it would be a game I would go back to on a regular basis. In the midst of all these fancy pants AAA titles, I keep doing just that.

Mario Kart 8 is the game that never lets you feel comfortable. You could know the courses like the back of your hand, but that doesn’t keep you safe from either a blue shell or a bolt of lightning.

While I love The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and several other games in my collection, Mario Kart 8 is a great way to wrap up the evening before going to sleep. Especially now since my Wii U is up in my room, and the tablet is wireless and can literally be played while I lay in bed and my wife grumbles at me cursing the tablet every time bob-omb ruins my life.

Hope Hornsby – Dragon Age Minecraft

I hope you’re all ready for me to say Dragon Age. Aren’t you? Well it’s not. It’s Minecraft.

As a latecomer to the video game scene, the early alpha versions of Minecraft is where my love of gaming started. A friend bought me the game back when it was only $15 a copy, and it’s been a staple of my system ever since.

Most of the games I like playing are deep and involved story RPGs. Sometimes after work or before bed, I’m not up for a mountain of fetch quests and dialogue I’ll forget by morning, so I load up Minecraft.

It may turn out that I’ll sit for an hour finding a new resource pack to play with, or I may log on to a friend’s server and help with whatever maniacal red stone scheme they’re working on at the time, but punching trees is always on the agenda.

XB1 Version

Eric Pepper – NHL

Being Canadian, I’m legally obligated to use the NHL games as my answer.

Whether you simply want to play a quick game with a friend, practice your shootout technique, progress in your created player’s career, manage a team as a GM would, or play an online game, the NHL titles provide all of that. The control scheme is intuitive enough that when you return to the titles, you remember precisely how to play, and you can tweak all of the rules and settings to give yourself precisely the kind of game you want to enjoy.

You can get lost in the games for minutes or hours, and no two games will be identical. The NHL titles don’t provide any immersive stories or branching skill trees, but they certainly provide entertainment and memorable moments.

Rebeccah Bassell – SSX 3

Surprisingly enough, I am not going to say Psychonauts! I take pride in being a bit more expansive in my tastes than that – I think all of us here at AA have “that obvious choice we go back to”, but, like my fellow AAers have said, we’re all less predictable than you’d think. Tongue emoticon

One of the first games I remember playing back in my PS2 glory days was the SSX series, particularly SSX 3, as that was my first introduction to the series (Tricky is great too – please put down your pitchforks, invisible Internet audience…). As such, my go to when there’s nothing new to play would definitely be SSX 3.

There are so many separate things I enjoy about this game. For one, the simple joys of customizing your rider, pulling off impossible, showy stunts, and punching Mac in the face whenever he says something douchey to you (re: whenever he opens his mouth) never get old. I can always pull out my trusty PS2 and know that I’m in for a great time (and will be treated to a fantastic early 2000’s soundtrack on Radio Big – shout out to DJ Atomika for introducing me to Basement Jaxx and Placebo).

I’m also a very social gamer – I enjoy playing against my friends and shouting various obscenities as a friendly afternoon hang out quickly turns into a test of friendship. One thing that’s particularly great about SSX 3 is that it’s very newbie friendly – friends who’ve picked up a controller maybe a handful of times in their lives can quickly get into the action and fun of SSX 3, and it makes it even that much more fun for me, a gaming vet, to see them get excited about playing a game.

Robbie Key – The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time

While there are many games I venture back into and during dry release times in gaming, I’m going to cheat a little here and pick one game and a series: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and any Super Smash Bros. title.

I have easily beaten Ocarina five or six times, and that doesn’t include the two times I’ve played through Master Quest – once on the Wind Waker pre-order Gamecube disc, the other time on 3D. Nostalgia is not what brings me back to this game 18 years after its release (disclaimer: that’s part of it). It’s simply an enthralling adventure that holds up well in numerous aspects among today’s industry, a feat thousands of other games can’t achieve. I love everything Ocarina offers, including the dreaded Water Temple, which is oddly easier in the Master Quest version.

… and Super Smash Bros.

Whether it’s with friends or battling solo against multiple computers, each Smash Bros. has its own unique feel, and they each hold up incredibly well – though I won’t argue against the original’s descent into showing its age. Whether it’s the best in the series – Melee – or the 3DS and Wii U versions, the latter being my personal favorite, Smash Bros. is a series that can be booted up and allow anyone to jump in on and have fun, or have serious one-on-one bouts. I always enjoy trying to complete any unaccomplished challenges, attempting to beat old records and battling tough computer opponents, even more so with the merciless amiibo bots.

Nathan Manning – Halo multiplayer

I always find myself going back to the multiplayer mode in the Halo games when I’ve got nothing else to play. Usually it’s the most current in the series, so I’ll be saying Halo 5: Guardians at the moment. I think Halo 5 is my favourite multiplayer experience of the Halo games. The new movement options have improved the Halo gameplay so much. There feels like there is much more flexibility in fire fights because the new movement options give players plenty of different choices when attacking or fleeing. It makes the game more interesting. In an age where shooters are trying to copy Call of Duty’s success, Halo has managed to carve itself out a slice of the genre, and with Halo 5 343 realised that it had to stick to what makes Halo unique. In Halo, everyone starts off equal. Everyone has the same weapons and abilities, and the only way to get an edge over your opponent is to control the weapons around the map and have more skill with the tools at your disposal. It’s this tug of war and constant battle over key map areas that draws me to Halo multiplayer over and over again. The new monthly ranking system, which can also be seen in games like Hearthstone, is also a big draw card as I can strive to reach something higher each time I come back.

I’m a big fan of multiplayer gaming, and I absolutely love the Halo multiplayer experience, so it’s a no-brainer that Halo 5 is my fall back game.

So those are our games we always find ourselves playing in down times. But the conversation doesn’t end there. We want to know what you play when you’ve got nothing else to play. Leave a comment below, or on the post on Facebook or Twitter, and you could be featured in next month’s AA Roundtable.