Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: 6 Games With Feel-Good Vibes

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A puppet, Halo ring, and Sweet Tooth are aranged in a composite image.

Summer weekends mean fresh air, sunny beaches, barbeque—oh, who am I kidding? This is “I’m locked inside all day bathed in air conditioning and glued to a video game” weather, and this weekend we’ve got some more games for you to consider adhering to. Our guide this week features some more retro delights, a neat way to possibly improve your sleep habits, some playable video game history, and more.

A gargoyle leaps across the screen.

Current goal: See if you can get more than 99 vials
Play it on: NES

By now many people know that Capcom’s Demon’s Crest (SNES) is one of the best action-adventures of the 16-bit era, an exquisitely crafted gem. This past week I finally decided to try its less heralded predecessor, late-era NES game Gargoyle’s Quest II, and what do you know? It’s pretty snazzy itself, a typically tight 8-bit Capcom platformer of the sort we used to take for granted.

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Gargoyle’s Quest II is the middle chapter of the unusual trilogy, which has you taking on the role of one of the most vexing enemies ever to befoul a platformer: the red devil from 1986’s landmark arcade hit Ghosts ‘n Goblins. His name is Firebrand, and now that you’re the bad guy, you have to venture across the Ghoul Realm to right some wrongs, or maybe wrong some rights. But in any case you no longer feel quite as intimidating as in the arcade game, so you have to build Firebrand’s abilities over time to become the gargoyle antihero that Hell deserves.

Super-tight platforming is the main event. Every level is a precision obstacle course testing your ability to leverage Firebrand’s wall hanging and very limited flight abilities to maneuver around spikes and NES-era monsters employing typically rude respawn routines.

I’m a little past the halfway point, and not yet breaking a sweat. But it’s fun to exercise these muscles again and be reminded of just how technical an 8-bit platformer can get. I have a bit of a bias against late-release NES games (this one’s 1992), but that sure proved silly here. Gargoyle’s Quest II makes for a nice companion piece to its all-time classic sequel. — Alexandra Hall

A character threatens to rip out another character's throat.

Current Goal: Chain combo some vampires into pulp
Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, Windows

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The fighting game community is rightfully addicted to Street Fighter 6 right now, especially as we get closer to Rashid’s release. However, sometimes you gotta change it up and mix in a different fighting game or two between your SF6 sessions. Lucky for you, 2019’s Melty Blood: Type Lumina just hit PS Plus and is well worth your time.

I’m not gonna try to understand the Melty Blood story, nor am I ever gonna read the Tsukihime visual novel that the game is based on. However, I can tell you that I fully understand how to cross-up protection break with Dead Apostle Noel, and I’m pretty sure that’s all that matters.

I always wished Melty Blood: Type Lumina got some more love from the fighting game community, especially in the west. Dragon Ball FighterZ released the same year, pretty much burying MBTL and preventing it from gaining any traction. It doesn’t have the biggest roster, nor is it that diverse, but it’s still a pretty tightly made fighter that gets really technical once you start learning mix-up options. It’s pretty easy to pick up, and you really don’t need to know anything about the story. It also has a Fate crossover, if you’re into that.—Jeb Biggart

A puppet leaps to the screen to kill the player.

Current goal: Finish that creepy puppet game
Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows

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This weekend I’m going to try and find some time to play some more My Friendly Neighborhood. From what I’ve read online, I’m getting close to the end of this new horror game featuring creepy puppets and I’d like to cross it off my list. I’ve really enjoyed the hours I’ve spent with it and I think it’s going to be one of those games I recommend to folks looking for something short, fun and spooky. A perfect Halloween game! I mean, any game with a Resident Evil 4-like inventory system is going to be a winner in my book. I just wish the puppets were not so talkative.

Read More: Fantastic New Horror Game Mixes Sesame Street With Resident Evil

However, as much as I want to finish MFN, it’s very likely that I’ll just end up putting more hours into Diablo IV as I desperately try to finish that game’s campaign. Or maybe I’ll be able to balance my time and play both? Unlikely, but I can dream. — Zack Zwiezen

Current goal: Try out all the weapons in the “Crash Site” mod
Play it on: Xbox, Xbox Series X/S, Windows

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection really is the best Halo experience right now. Not only does it contain the series’ best entries, with fully intact multiplayer, but the collection has received updates that’ve both preserved the old games and improved them. Recently, a combined digital archaeological effort between modders and 343 Industries is unearthing some beautiful Halo artifacts, offering up previously unplayable material from the series’ history for the first time.

The most recent result of these endeavors is “Crash Site,” a playable version of the 1999 Macworld demo from when Halo was originally slated to be a Mac exclusive. Bet ya never thought you’d get to play this!

You’ll need the Steam version and a gaming PC (and maybe a black turtleneck and a pair of blue jeans) to get access. Download the mod from Digsite’s workshop page, fire up the The Master Chief Collection with anti-cheat turned off, select Crash Site from the Halo CE campaign menu and get ready to jump into the boots of some prototype Spartan armor and wield weapons you’ve likely never seen before.

As you may know, Halo was originally slated to be an RTS, but the drivable Warthog gave then-developer Bungie the idea to turn the game into a shooter. While the “Crash Site” mod doesn’t feature the third-person gameplay that Halo was originally supposed to have, you’ll be able to get a first-person view of an assault rifle variant with a rocket launcher, a different sniper rifle model, the space Luger, and more. There’s also a really cool original soundtrack from Neo Te Aika.

The mod is a brief trip through an open-world level that sees skirmishes with Covenant forces and Sentinels, leading up to a conclusion very reminiscent of scenes from Combat Evolved’s “Assault on the Control Room” level. It’s a nice little chapter of gaming history, the kind that the public rarely if ever gets access to — Claire Jackson

A Snorlax falls asleep.

Current goal: Cure my insomnia
Play it on: iOS, Android

Reader, I’m not gonna be here next week. I’m going on my first vacation since I got to Kotaku, and part of that means I’m not gonna play too many games while I decompress. But you know what I am going to do? Sleep. I’m gonna be as snug as a bug in a rug. I’m gonna count sheep. I’m gonna astral project to the dream world so I don’t have to be in this one. Trouble is, I’ve been dealing with terrible insomnia for, I don’t know, seven years, maybe? If I’m ever gonna get to the bottom of this, I’ve gotta use every tool available to me. That includes gamifying being unconscious with Pokémon Sleep. As of this writing, I’ve only used it once, and I’m not sure what it’s going to do for me besides give me information about how bad my sleep is (as if I didn’t already know). But it’s got Pikachu in it, and slapping the little yellow guy on something otherwise mundane is the quickest way to make it the most important thing in my life. Ken’s honk-shoo era begins this weekend, baby. — Kenneth Shepard

Current goal: Win the tournament and have my wish granted
Play it on: The PlayStation Plus Classics catalog

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This past week, Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2 came to the PlayStation Plus Classics catalog. The timing is curiously convenient, considering a Peacock TV series based on the long-dormant vehicular combat franchise is about to debut. I think that series looks terrible and I have less than no interest in watching it. However, I also think that Twisted Metal 2 is one of the best games of all time, so if corporate cross-promotional synergy is what it takes to once again have this explosive, gleefully chaotic game be readily available to me on a console, well, I’ll take it.

It’s been well over 20 years since I really played the game, so I’m looking forward to refamiliarizing myself with its memorable and varied cast of drivers, its cacophonous soundscape, and its blistering action. I’m also eager to once again experience the outrageous destruction you can wreak on its stages. (I don’t remember how to destroy the Eiffel Tower in the Paris stage, but I remember that you can.) I’ll probably play through the entire thing with a few different characters to see a few endings play out. See, in these games, the tournament is run by a mysterious figure named Calypso, who promises to grant the winner a single wish. When he does so, however, there’s always something a little (you guessed it!) twisted about it, and it’s darkly funny seeing how things play out for each driver. I bet the writing for those endings is more clever than anything we’ll see in the Peacock series.

Wait a second! What if I wished so hard for Twisted Metal 2 to come back that Calypso granted my wish but deemed that it could only happen if we also got a horrible live-action series? Oh god, no! What have I done?!—Carolyn Petit


And that’s it for the latest edition of Kotaku’s weekend guide. What are you playing this weekend?

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