Cheapest Black Friday Video Game Deals

Tomorrow marks a day for food, family, and an onslaught of deals on video games. Even if you plan on staying home, you can score online deals from Best Buy, Amazon, and a few other major websites.

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-Assassin’s Creed IV:
$35 Microsoft, Best Buy, Walmart (guaranteed in-stock 6-7 Thursday)
$40 Gamestop-Batman: Arkham Origins
$30 Best Buy
$35 Target, Walmart (guaranteed in-stock Thursday 6-7)-Battlefield 4:
$25 gamestop (Friday only), Walmart
$35 Best Buy, Target
$38.99 Microsoft

-Beyond: Two Souls:
$25 Walmart
$35 Best Buy
$40 Gamestop (Friday Only)

-Call of Duty: Black Ops II:
$25 Target, Walmart (Walmart says Game of the Year edition)
$29.99 Best Buy

-Call of Duty: Ghosts:
$39.96 Microsoft, Walmart (guaranteed in-stock Thursday 6-7)
$44.99 Best Buy, Gamestop

-Deadpool
$20 Gamestop (Friday Only)

-Diablo III
$40 Frys.com

-Dragon Crown (PS3)
$25 Frys.com (Vita too)
$30 Gamestop

-Dishonored (GOTY)
$25 Gamestop

-Far Cry 3
$15 Best Buy, Walmart

-Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS3)
$20 Gamestop

-FIFA 14:
$25 Microsoft, Walmart
$35 Best Buy, Target
$40 Gamestop

-GTA V:
$34 Microsoft, Walmart (guaranteed in-stock Thursday 6-7)
$33.99 at Amazon as of 11/27

-Just Dance 3
$10 Walmart

-Just Dance 2014
$15 GameStop

-Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
$20 Gamestop

-The Last of Us (PS3)
$25 Walmart
$35 Best Buy

-The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
$30 K-Mart
-The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
$40 K-Mart
 
-LEGO: Lord of the Rings
$10 Walmart (if you miss Amazon’s deal)
-Madden 25:
$25 Microsoft, Walmart
$35 Best Buy, Target
$40 Gamestop-LEGO: Marvel
$25 Walmart-NBA 2K14
$40 Frys.com

-NCAA 14:
$25 Walmart
$40 Gamestop

-NHL 14:
$40 Gamestop

-Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale (PS3/Vita combo)
$10 Gamestop (Friday only)

-Rayman Legends:
$25 GameStop

-Saints Row IV:
$25 Walmart
$30 Best Buy, GameStop

-Shin Megami Tensei IV
$25 Frys.com

-Skylanders: Swapforce (Black Edition)
$80 Gamestop
-Skyrim:
$15 Best Buy, Walmart

-Skyrim Legendary Edition (all DLC):
$30 Gamestop

-Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time (ps3/vita combo)
$10 Walmart

-Splinter Cell Blacklist:
$25 Gamestop, Target, Walmart
$30 Best Buy

-Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
$50 K-Mart
-Tales of Xillia
$20 Gamestop-Twisted Metal ps3
$10 Walmart-The Bureau XCOM Declassified
$30 Frys.com

-WWE 2K14
$40 Frys.com

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Top 5 Tuesday: Zelda Gimmicks

I’m going to spontaneously combust if I don’t play A Link Between Worlds soon. Seriously. My hair’s melting off my scalp and my skin won’t stop turning to ash. And all because the K-Mart pre-Black Friday deal that I hyped didn’t include videogames. Yep. I’m the one who jinxed it. Please send all hate mail to my About page. I’ll see to your death threats soon as I get a some free time.

Anyway, in honor of Link’s newest ability to transform into a cave painting, I’m rocking out a Zelda-themed list of my favorite gimmicks in the series. “Gimmick” may not be the best word, but it’s the best catch-all I can think of for things such as…

5. The Four Swordsmen (Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures)

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Two guys putting their lives on the line and another two doing absolutely nothing? Sounds like Four Swords to me!

The latest Wii U Mario game is getting a ton of praise for it’s four-player scrambling and puzzle-solving, but it’s been done before. Over a decade ago, actually. If you and your buddies owned a GBA copy of Zelda: A Link to the Past (and those cumbersome link cables), you had your ticket to the world of four-player puzzle-solving. You also had a lot of yelling and leadership struggles, but where’s the fun in contentment?

4. Time Travel (Ocarina of Time)

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Back so soon? He’s got a well to drain.

It may seem straightforward compared to the three-day time cycle in Majora’s Mask, but Ocarina’s back-and-forth time travel opened up a world of story and gameplay wrinkles from the moment Link yanked the Master Sword from it’s pedestal. Who could forget their first steps into the ruined, ReDead-infested Hyrule Market as an adult? And just when you thought the trip to the future was a one-way deal, the Well and Spirit Temple beckoned for Link in his youth.

3. Sword Motion Controls (Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword)

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The Lightsaber duel of your dreams. Sort of.

I don’t care how limited the sword controls were in Twilight Princess–they were a dream come true. Indisputable magic if you’re a Zelda fan. And then Skyward Sword took it to a more comprehensive level with Wii Motion Plus Controls. Not only did this make for a fuller range of slashes, but it made for a few unforgettable sword duels with Ghirahim. Fake high, slice low.

2. Mask Collecting/Transformation (Majora’s Mask)

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Who’s saying no to that face?

Arguably the greatest sidequest in all of gaming, the mask collecting in Majora’s Mask was punctuated by the three transformation masks that catalyzed a Zelda gameplay experience like no other. It was enthralling enough to roll around as a Goron and swim at stingray pace as a Zora, but utilizing Link’s transformations for the sake of puzzle-solving took it to a higher echelon.

1. Dawn of the First Day: 72 Hours Remain (Majora’s Mask)

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That’s not the face of a moon who’s second-guessing Armageddon.

A lot of games involve ticking clocks and time travel. A lot of games involve living worlds full of NPCs with daily plans and paths. But no game quite combines the two like Majora’s Mask, where you have to be somewhere at some time… all of time. And even if you blew off the sidequests in favor of the main game, you still had that angry-ass moon to worry about. Three days is all you’re getting, but let’s not forget this is Link we’re dealing with. Slow down time, jump ahead, and reboot the whole thing when Armageddon approaches.

Afterthoughts: Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia is a wonder. It’s like and unlike every JRPG from the SNES/PS1 eras, and just when you think the story and gameplay are growing trite, the game’s dual-universe concept takes over. That’s the only way to describe it: taking over. The game erupts once you realize how you can jump between standard and alternate history, pushing through the main story and chasing sidequests. Whereas this may have been a so-so RPG with a fresh battle system, Radiant Historia will go down as memorable in my mind for the dual-history concept and all the engrossment that arises from it.

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Time forks right from the start, but the split history concept really takes off at about the midway point of game.

When I said RH was familiar, I meant it. From a story standpoint, it’s like every other RPG from the 90s: War, magic, good kings, evil queens, world domination, romantic tension that goes nowhere… you’ve been here before. But where you likely haven’t been is jumping between one version of time and another. Friends in Standard history may not even cross your path in Alternate History; powerful enemies in one timeline may be lackeys in the other; and saving an ally’s life may depend on going back in time or learning a technique in another timeline. It’s both fun and thought-provoking, and there’s also a little philosophical meat to it in terms of fatalism.

If all the time-jumping complicated, it shouldn’t. RH makes temporal travel smooth by giving you a map with two dotted lines for Standard and Alternate history. Click any blue point–past or present–and you’re there. Then you can tweak history, save lives, foil plots, and reclaim lost items. It’s engrossing. It’s compelling. It’s simple. Most of all, it’s what distinguishes RH as one of the better handheld RPGs out there.

The odd thing about Radiant Historia is that even though it immediately introduces the two alternate timelines in the game’s opening scene, the concept doesn’t exactly take off until about 15 hours in. It’s kind of like the Wedding of Cana–you know, the Bible story where the reception runs out of cheap wine, then Jesus miraculously provides an abundance of better booze. With Radiant Historia, just when I thought I’d had my fill, the second half of the game went down like a cold slurp of rejuvenation.

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You start fighting Thaumachines near the end of the game. The trick to beating them? Plant an electric mine and knock the metal titan into it.

Along with the story and quests, the battle system also jacks up the intensity around the midway point of the game. As I discussed in my First Impressions post, RH’s battle system challenges players to knock enemies around a 3-by-3 grid, setting up two-birds-with-one-stone style attacks. In the forty hours I spent with RH, the battle system never went stale, although it was too easy for the longest time. A welcome jump in difficulty comes around the midway point, with tougher baddies and a couple new wrinkles, like shields and power strips. Much as I loved the battle system for it’s freshness, I’d have loved to see it evolve more over the course of the game.

I’m not sure if I’ll have time to write a review of Radiant Historia, so this might be the closest thing to it. If you want a score, how’s 8/10 sound? Great game, brilliant concept… I just would’ve liked to see a more comprehensive battle system and a deeper supporting cast. Other than those gripes, it’s mostly praise for the ages. Both of them.

K-Mart Black Friday deals start this Sunday at 1AM EST (Zelda 3DS for $30 and more)

If you haven’t already picked up Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, then 1AM on Sunday is the time to do it. K-Mart is kicking off Black Friday five days early, and they’re offering some solid prices and free shipping on a few dozen games (listed below). Zelda won’t dip below $30 this holiday season–believe me, I’ve checked–so if you’re itching for it or any other gaming deal, here’s what to do:

  1. Sign up for K-Mart’s membership program (don’t worry, it’s FREE)
  2. Get your cheap ass over to K-Mart.com at 1AM Eastern Standard Time
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Who’s saying no to a brand new Zelda at $30?

That’s all you need to do to have early access to K-Marts Black Friday deals. As for what else is on sale, check below. Note that $25 is the cheapest I’ve seen Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate (3DS).

 

Consoles

:wiiu: Mario and Luigi Bundle – $299.99 (plus $20 in points for members)

:ps3: 250GB Holiday Bundle w/ The Last of Us and Batman: Arkham Origins – $199.99

:3ds: 2DS Electric Blue or Crimson Red – $119.99

 

Games

:3ds: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – $24.99

:3ds: Animal Crossing: New Leaf – $29.99

:3ds: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D – $29.99

:3ds: Pokemon X – $34.99

:3ds: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – $34.99

:3ds: Mario Kart 7 – $34.99

:3ds: New Super Mario Bros. 2 – $34.99

:3ds: Batman: Blackgate – $24.99

:wiiu: Nintendo Land – $19.99

:wiiu: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD – $39.99

:wiiu: Just Dance Kids 2014 – $39.99

:wiiu: New Super Mario Bros. U – $44.99

:wiiu: Super Mario 3D Land – $49.99

:wiiu: Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack – $49.99

:wiiu: Disney Infinity Starter Pack – $59.99

:ps3: Ratchet and Clank Nexus – $19.99

:ps3: Beyond: Two Souls – $39.99

:ps3: Dead Space 3 – $39.99

:ps3: Disney Infinity Starter Pack – $59.99

:360: Just Dance Kids 2014 (Kinect) – $19.99

:360: Dead Space 3 – $39.99

:360: Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack – $49.99

:360: Disney Infinity Starter Pack – $59.99

:wii: Just Dance Kids 2014 – $19.99

:wii: Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack – $49.99

:wii: Disney Infinity Starter Pack – $59.99

Sakurai not aiming for complete balance in new Smash Bros.

Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai is slugging through twelve-hour shifts and taking up residence within walking distance from Super Smash Bros. 4’s development studio. He’s playing four-player matches on his lunch and inputting damage rates and hit boxes all by his lonesome. If the latest Smash installment disappoints, it won’t be for lack of effort on its creator’s part.

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Sakurai is personally ensuring that all these hits, slashes, and headbutts register.

Polygon covered Sakurai’s most recent interview with Famitsu, in which Sakurai described everything from his daily schedule to the finer points of tweaking character motions. It’s a great read if you have time; if you don’t, consider this one nugget that stuck out:

[…] we have to work to keep things dynamic and not over-fine-tune the balance. If we aim for complete fairness, there won’t be any personality to it.

It’s an interesting take, as fighting game fans everywhere often lust over the idea of a perfectly balanced game. Back in Melee’s glory years, my friends and I itched for a Smash Bros. game where smack-dummies like Bowser could hang with Fox, Marth, and Sheik. Now it seems that not only is perfect balance unattainable, but the series creator himself wants nothing to do with it.

And you know what? I’m a-okay with it.

ssb

How’s another five years of ass-kickings sound, Bowser?

Isn’t the whole point of fighting games to weed through the roster and find the three or four characters you’re most comfortable with? If those particular character happen to be technically better than others, so be it.

Now, Smash Bros. complicates the situation with dozens of gaming icons. And when you have icons, you have fans who get riled when their favorite character(s) end up on the low-tier. But there’s a huge difference between an unbalanced game and a broken one.

Sign of a coming trend? Square Enix porting Tomb Raider to next-gen consoles

Brace yourself… the next-gen ports are coming. Square Enix is kicking off the madness with a PS4/XBONE port of their critically acclaimed Tomb Raider reboot. The game sold over 4 million copies across PS3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms, yet Square Enix has been notoriously displeased with the game’s sales totals. Their solution? Give next-gen console owners one more opportunity to buy it.

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Tomb Raider already looks great. Why does it need to look better, Square?

Details are scarce, but Amazon Italy listed a “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition” that was recently taken down from the site. Just how definitive this upcoming is remains to be seen. If it’s all right with you, I’ll go ahead and forecast upgraded visuals, new bonus content, and possibly some free DLC. You okay with that? No? You want improved multiplayer? Don’t we all…

Much as I loved Tomb Raider, I don’t want to see barrel-loads of PS3 and Xbox 360 ports next year. I’ve beyond had it with HD remakes of games I played ten years ago. Now we’re talking next-gen makeovers of nine-month-old games? Please, somebody cut my thumbs off.

Top 5 Tuesday: Launch Games

PS4 has already taken off to the tune of over a million shipped units, and we’re just days away from the latest in ESPN entertainme–er, Xbox One. While we’re caught between console launches, it’s worth reflecting on the greatest launch games I’ve ever played. I’ll be honest with you: this is dangerously close to being a Top 5 Mario list, and heavy hitters like Halo and Soul Calibur are absent. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Wii Sports, and NFL 2K missed the cut as well. So what made my list?

Well, since you asked…

5. Sonic Adventure (DC)

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If you were man enough to endure the Amy and Big segments, SA1 gave one hell of a finale.

Why not kick things off with something controversial? The original Sonic Adventure may be the most polarizing game in the series, possibly even in the entire Dreamcast library. You either love the intense speed of Sonic and Tails’ levels, or your hate the impossible-to-wrangle camera. You either welcome Knuckles and Gamma’s levels as fresh breaks in the formula, or you knock the game for Amy and Big the Cat’s dreadful quests. You either play proud parent to your Chao or cast off the minigame like a black sheep. As for me, I side with the former parts of those three statements. Give me Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Gamma, and Chao Gardens. And let’s pretend Big’s fishing levels never happened, cool?

4. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

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Nothing owned my childhood soul like Lakitu in World 8-2.

I’m not even going to mention the game’s greater impact. I love the original Super Mario Bros. for what it is: a simple-yet-rich platformer with enough secrets to drown in. World 8 is still one of the high points in the series, and to this day I still shiver at the sight of the Hammer Bros. sprites. The game welcome multiple playthroughs and speed runs, and if that weren’t enough, mess around in the Minus World or try beating every Bowser with fireballs (a bonus requirement in the Gameboy Color re-release).

3. Super Mario World (SNES)

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Nothing beats swallowing a blue shell.

Though many consider Super Mario Bros. 3 the apex of 2D platforming, I don’t even consider it the best 2D Mario. World does everything Mario 3 does, then scales it up for the hefty gentleman: bigger levels, bigger secrets, bigger green dinosaur companions. Sure, you lose out on a few zany power-ups, but in their place you get Yoshi and all his gameplay wrinkles–the extra layer of protection, three different special forms, and those daring hop-off jumps. And let’s not forget that the madness that is the Special World. Mondo? Tubular? Groovy? Right on, dude.

2. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

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Though some argue that the sword controls felt tacked-on, I was too damn happy to care.

If you were an early Wii adopter, you either owned Twilight Princess or had nothing great to play for roughly a year. For a series filled with magic moments, Zelda never felt more incredible to me than the first time I swung a sword with my Wii remote. Waving the controller back and forth for slices and slashes was my first and favorite taste of motion-sensing immersion. Then came aiming arrows, shaking the nunchuck for spin attacks, thrusting the nunchuck for shield bashes–and those are just the controls. Once you nail them down, throw on your green tunic and embark on one of the meatiest, grittiest Zelda quests, complete with nine dungeons, six or seven of which are superb.

1. Super Mario 64 (N64)

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The Michael Jordan of Platformers

Forget for a second what Super Mario 64 means to gaming and 3D gaming in particular. All impact aside, this is still the best 3D platformer on earth. From circling to the top of King Bob-omb’s mountain to grabbing Bowser by the tail and chucking him into the final spiked ball, you won’t find a better run and jump experience in the realm of 3D. Each level was a game in itself, and the straightforward platforming of the Bowser stages kept things fresh. Then you have the time-shaving slide levels (Why couldn’t there be a dozen of these?), the Koopa races, the frantic Rainbow Ride, the tweakable Tick-Tock Clock, the lava surfing, the wildly creative enemies, the Wing Cap, the damned monkey, the endless stairs… the list never ends.