The Roundup: Teaching Zelda During Tears Of The Kingdom Week, Scholarship Winners, Benedict Fox, Armored Core VI, Manas, NYU Games Showcase, More!

By Ronald Gordon 

Hello and welcome back to the Roundup, where the Critic Circle compiles stories from friendly faces both in NYC and beyond to give them the spotlight. Aside from my recent review of 9 Years of Shadows, which is a lovely Metroidvania Platformer that stands out amongst the others, I’ve also played the Resident Evil 4 Remake, which made me feel awesome until I realized I no longer had bullets to fire. And I even got to talk about Apple Arcade’s new game announcements. But enough about my reviews, this week we’ve got a heartfelt Essay about Minecraft and friendships, a peek at Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, a review of Horizon: Forbidden West’s DLC, the Best PC Games for 2023, and so much more!

Before we start I’d also like to mention the obvious: the new Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game is set to come out this week. It’s exciting news for fans old and young, and in during our new Brooklyn course, we’ve been using the Legend of Zelda to teach tweens how to write reviews from the lead to the middle to the kicker. As we get another moment to be Link once again and save Hyrule from whatever threat may be coming, these students have been made ready for Tears of the Kingdom come Friday. They’re thrilled! While there may be some discourse over leaks of the game coming out, I don’t personally see a problem with them. It’s unfortunate that some people will want to slather parts of the game all over everywhere, spoiling some content that others might have wanted to experience for themselves. But I’ve never minded spoilers that much in the past. I think the lesson here should be to take everything with a bit of skepticism, and if you truly think something you’ve seen might be a spoiler, push it to the back of your mind until the moment you’re ready for it. Ignore everything else that’s related to the release until you can indulge in your own experiences. Don’t let the one bad apple spoil your slice of the pie. 

Many of our Mott Hall III students.

While it may come as no surprise to those that follow, the Critics Circle’s been making a lot more moves as of recently. The most important  is the recent Scholarship winners from the Mott Hall Class. Before our current class at Hudde, Mott Hall III had passionate young minds bolstered by the expert teachings of Ryan O’ Callaghan. As much as we loved to teach the class about Gaming Journalism, only three lucky students could walk away as winners of the Scholarship opportunity. During a showing of the Microsoft Experience Center, Harold Goldberg announced that Khloe Wilkerson won first place, Serenity Cruz won second place, and Theresa Afful won third. Congrats once again to these talented young writers. 

William Baker III, Hunter College High School student and our newest Intern, wrote an essay about Minecraft and its impact on his life: “When I was nine, I was obsessed with Minecraft. Sorry, I guess I should rephrase. Since I was nine, I’ve been obsessed with Minecraft. I still am. Just recently I got a lamp in the shape of a Minecraft beehive. The cord even has a little bee at the end. But regardless, the age of nine was probably my peak interest in the game,” William writes in his opening paragraphs. Being the individual that he is, William understands his personality and how it affects him in his day to day, and it’s because of this understanding of himself that he’s able to tell a story about how Minecraft gave him a wake-up call. It’s an thoughtful story about how you should learn to let go of a grudge you may have against someone, as someday you could look back and regret it. I highly suggest reading. 

Kimari Rennis was physically prepared for Horizon’s Burning Shores DLC; she had played through the game on a challenging difficulty and was ready for anything. But when it came down to how the game made her feel, and the emotional connection she watched Aloy create with a potential new love interest, she realized she wasn’t prepared emotionally. “I’m not terminally online, or homophobic, or friendless unlike some of the gamers on the internet dumb enough to call Horizon a ‘woke’ game because two women happen to like each other. In fact, I don’t have a problem with it at all,” writes Rennis, indicating she enjoyed the content without having to label it. It’s great to see that Horizon: Forbidden West’s DLC gives Aloy more than just another adventure to go on. There’s a relationship for her to build and a new side of her character that players get to see, a side that Kimari seems to have enjoyed. 

As a secret fan of all things Mecha and Machine, I was plenty excited to read Alyssa Mercante’s article about when to expect Armored Core VI. Having personally bought the last game somewhere in the later half of 2014, seeing the release date and the jaw dropping gameplay in the most recent trailer for Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is simply invigorating. “The three-minute-long trailer that dropped is the first glimpse of what to expect from its the third-person mecha gameplay, from fast-paced firefights full of missiles and explosions to the surprisingly lithe movements of the massive mech you’ll be piloting.” Alyssa’s words do wonders to encapsulate the classic adrenaline fueling gameplay of the Armored Core franchise, which seems to be coming back in full force thanks to what’s shown in the trailers. Writes Alyssa, “Expect extensive customization and boss fights worth of a FromSoftware game, as well, if the giant Dune-looking mecha sandworm and the huge spider-like robot are any indication.” 

Harold Goldberg wrote about The Last Case of Benedict Fox for The Observer. While it is one of the most beautiful Metroidvania offerings Harold has seen, the tension within its mystery story doesn’t always lend itself to the difficult puzzles within. You really want the story to move forward, but you’re hampered when you get lost and can’t figure something out. Harold thinks it’s a worthy, occasionally very impressive, first offering from a new, Polish developer, however. Goldberg chimed in regarding the Redfall controversy for our site. It will very likely get better soon, says Harold.

Jordan Minor comes to the aid of those who are looking for good games to play with his Roundup of the Best Games of 2023 so far. “You’re faced with many purchasing options upon booting Epic Games Store, Steam, Xbox, or any of the other digital marketplaces for PC Games,” says Jordan. The writer begins his article with a comforting statement that no one is ever alone in facing the sheer amount of games to play: “Don’t get frozen by choice, though; use this guide to help you make a swift and wise purchasing decision.” From tips on picking the Best PC games, to playing games on the Steam Deck, Jordan’s article covers a lot of ground in the gaming world, so there’s no need to worry as there’s enough information for anyone stymied by searching. 

Tony Polanco talks about Street Fighter 6 and its impact on fighting games. With the new game having come out and many new characters having been introduced, it’s no wonder that a lot of fans both old and new are jumping with joy over Street Fighter 6. Tony writes, “Street Fighter 6 is about to shake up the classic fighting game franchise in a big way. With new modes, characters and gameplay mechanics, this has the chance to be the biggest entry yet — and potentially the best fighting game of 2023.”. Even I, who’s not the most avid fan of fighting games, can admit that SF6 looks like a phenomenal new entry. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the types of matchups that come to fruition, and I wish everyone who seeks to play and compete the best luck they can have. 

Beyond the Circle 

Moving onto news from outside the Circle, there’s the creation of a game called Manas, young Computer Science student Omar Uraimov helped people feel in touch with his Central Asian culture. In this article on USC Viterbi, writer Caitlin Dawson has this to say, “He was born in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia, where his family had lived for generations. But at the age of 5, Omar and his parents moved to the bustling city of Houston, Texas, to pursue the great American dream.” Mentioning Omar’s upbringing shows that he was well connected with his home even if he wound up leaving: “He was proud of his heritage, but as he grew older, he started to feel like he was losing touch with his roots. He saw little representation of his culture in his new home. He longed to share his stories, but he didn’t know how to do it.” The tale of Manas has the player become the hero of Kyrgyz, reenacting a tale from a Kyrgyzstan legend called the Epic of Manas. It sounds like an impactful game with plenty of references that pay homage to Omar’s home and the rich culture it has to share. 

Finally, the NYU Game Center Showcase of 2023 is set to be happening soon! For those that are curious to see what sort of games students from NYU Game Center have been hard at work creating, the official dates for both the Twitch livestream and in person showcase have been announced. The Twitch Livestream is set to happen on the 15th at 5pm, meanwhile the in-person showcase is happening on the 18th from 6 pm -10 pm. Be sure to RSVP now to get more information straight from NYU itself and show lots of love to the fledgling developers that could eventually become big names in the industry! 

Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle Senior Intern & Mentor. He was the first of our writers – or any intern anywhere – to complete an internship at Rockstar Games.

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