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Video game preview: ‘Cities: Skylines II’ and ‘Bluey: The Videogame’ offer sandbox fun this fall

(Lucy Chang/Daily Bruin)

By Sanjana Chadive, Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon, Paco Bacalski, and Nicolas Greamo

Oct. 6, 2023 2:50 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 15 at 7:46 p.m.

As the temperatures cool and the days grow shorter, gamers can expect a harvest of exciting releases. From swinging with superheroes to adventuring alongside a cartoon dog, these immersive escapades will make this season extra memorable.
Pour a warm cup of apple cider and read on for the Daily Bruin’s fall video game recommendations.

Miles Morales (left) and Peter Parker (right) look ahead. The latest “Spider-Man” game reunites the two web-slinging superheroes once again. (Courtesy of Insomniac Games)

“Marvel’s Spider-Man 2” (Insomniac Games)

The sixth video game that bears the title “Spider-Man 2” will be the first with two actual Spider-Men.

With a PlayStation 5-exclusive release Friday, “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2” carries on from Insomniac Games’ two previous video game adaptations of the comic book web-slinger. The game reunites Miles Morales and Peter Parker as the two protagonists of a dual-perspective, single-player experience. Set nine months after “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” the plot follows Morales and Parker as they face a set of classic Spider-Man villains, including Kraven the Hunter, the Lizard and the Venom symbiote, which ultimately infects Parker.

The game also presents several mechanical innovations over its predecessors, an expanded New York City map to explore and new superpower abilities, notably those tied to the Venom symbiote. B​​ut the new release maintains the open world exploration, “Batman: Arkham” style combat system and emotional experience of swinging from building to building above the Big Apple’s many thoroughfares that drew players to Insomniac’s previous Spider-Man games.

The “Spider-Man 2” canon’s newest entry is set to deliver a compelling narrative experience for all those crawling up the walls in anticipation of its release.

– Nicolas Greamo

Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad get ready for another adventure. “Super Mario Bros. Wonder” is the newest installment of the popular Nintendo franchise. (Courtesy of Nintendo)

“Super Mario Bros. Wonder” (Nintendo)

With its shimmering iridescence, the Wonder Flower has unleashed the potent power of imagination.

Releasing Friday for the Nintendo Switch, “Super Mario Bros. Wonder” joins the “Super Mario Bros.” line as Nintendo’s latest family-friendly platformer. Building upon its decade-spanning, multi-stage formula, each distinctive level is bubbling with multicolored buoyancy stemming from the newly-introduced Wonder Flower. While the game is mostly in 2D, it incorporates elements from sister titles such as the open-area course selection from “Super Mario 3D World” and the dual coin system in “Super Mario Odyssey.”

From rich jewel tones to airy pastels, the vibrant color palette of “Super Mario Bros. Wonder” feels straight out of a dreamscape. With lively gradients and subtle turns of light, the zestful, polychromatic textures of the Flower Kingdom encapsulate the sugary sweetness of dazed daydreaming. The platformer also boasts a slew of new features that revitalize and reward cooperative play. Heart points describe how helpful a player is and can be earned by interacting with global players to gift items or revive them during simultaneous play.

With the essence of wonder, the “Super Mario Bros.” franchise is given a new breath of life.

– Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon

A cityscape is pictured. Fans of the original “Cities: Skylines” game now have five times as much space to construct their city. (Courtesy of Paradox Interactive)

“Cities: Skylines II” (Paradox Interactive)

The sky’s the limit in Paradox Interactive’s latest release.

“Cities: Skylines II,” which is set to release Oct. 24 for Windows and this upcoming spring for PS5 and Xbox, will allow players to build the simulated city of their dreams. Gamers are given the opportunity to expand an undeveloped tract of land into a booming, prosperous metropolis by placing roads, buildings, utilities and much more. From the city’s education and economy to its public transportation and public health systems, nothing is off-limits for the aspiring urban planner.

The game is a sequel to Paradox’s 2015 release “Cities: Skylines” that promises to improve upon the original title in a multitude of ways. Players now have five times as much space in which they can construct their city, allowing them to make full use of the game’s more advanced systems of zoning, city services and more. Additionally, the game offers a wide array of brand new features, such as complex climates and parking lots, for a more fully realized city-building experience.

With advanced mechanics and improvements over its predecessor, “Cities: Skylines II” is sure to shine bright like city lights.

– Paco Bacalski

Bluey and her family sit by the steps outside her home. “Bluey: The Videogame” features voice acting from the original cast members of the show. (Courtesy of Disney Plus Press)

“Bluey: The Videogame” (Outright Games)

This autumnal game release will have animation enthusiasts asking if it’s “for real life.”

Based on the Australian children’s television series of the same name, “Bluey: The Videogame” is coming to Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC on Nov. 17. The game is an interactive sandbox experience, meaning players can explore the world with little to no restrictions. Fans of the show can also engage in some of Bluey’s and her friends’ favorite activities, including “Keepy Uppy” and “Magic Xylophone,” within an overarching four-part storyline.

In addition to voice acting features from the TV cast, “Bluey: The Videogame” incorporates music scored by original composer, Joff Bush. The kaleidoscopic adventure is equally accessible to players across ages, as it includes a UI on/off toggle and straightforward on-screen directions. Moreover, up to four people can simultaneously play the game – allowing multiple members of the family to wander alongside the cartoon dog.

It’s safe to say that “Bluey: The Videogame” will be far from “cheese and crackers.”

– Sanjana Chadive

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Sanjana Chadive | Lifestyle editor
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
Nicolas Greamo | Assistant Opinion editor
Nicolas Greamo is a 2023-2024 assistant Opinion editor. He was previously a 2022-2023 assistant Opinion editor and a Photo contributor. He is also a third-year history student from Washington, D.C.
Nicolas Greamo is a 2023-2024 assistant Opinion editor. He was previously a 2022-2023 assistant Opinion editor and a Photo contributor. He is also a third-year history student from Washington, D.C.
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