'Child of Light'

From: Ubisoft

Rated: E

Who's it for: Those looking for an old-school, beautiful RPG at a bargain price

Console: PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC

Grade: A

When picking up a role-playing game, people seem to expect more than 100 hours of gameplay, stories that twist and turn about and enough side-quests to fill an extra couple of hundred pages in the strategy guide.

But there was a time when RPGs were treated more like works of art than blockbuster popcorn films. A time when artwork, character design, a compelling story and a tight battle system were more important than packing in an extra 50 hours of meandering about the bloated landscape.

"Child of Light" harks back to those days with its marvelously hand-painted environments, pixel-perfect characters and a battle system that somehow incorporates turn-based and real-time elements into a seamless experience.

The story follows Aurora, a noble girl from 1895 Austria. Aurora falls ill and, after an interminable sleep, awakens to find herself in Lemuria, a world whose celestial bodies have been stolen by the evil Queen of the Night.

To find her way back home, Aurora must recover the sun, moon and stars and restore Lemuria to its proper place in the universe.

Aurora and her allies — particularly Igniculus, who can be controlled either by the main player or a second player helping out — must work together to solve the mystery of the disappearance, leveling up and facing increasingly difficult foes along the way.

Aside from the beautiful artwork and character designs, it's the battle system that helps "Child of Light" stand apart.

Players must watch a scrolling bar across the bottom of the screen and react at the right time to defeat enemies who always seem to be ready. Knocking your foes off balance at the right time (and pushing their next move farther back along the timeline) is the key to success.

This system is easy to get the hang of while remaining challenging to master, a perfect combination for a game of this sort.

(Courtesy image)

While it won't break any records for length (12-15 hours), the game wastes no minute. Exploration always feels compelling and the side-quests never feel tacked on or superfluous. Every action, every moment of the game, in fact, feels necessary.

Ultimately, "Child of Light" is an amazing experience, worth much more than its $15 download price.

Sa-wing, and a-miss!

I once played on a softball team with other gaming editors. Watching my colleagues run around misjudging flyballs, groundballs, throws, pitches, etc. looked every bit a comedy video. I'm sure there are game reviewers who can play sports, but we are not among them.

It occurred to me then that we were used to playing sports on a TV screen and had no business outdoors trying to play a real one (with the exception of our pitcher, April — she was amazing).

When MLB.com announced it was bringing back the venerable "R.B.I." series — dormant since 1995 — I was cautiously optimistic. It turns out that, like my team of gaming editors, MLB.com should stick to what it knows best — the real sport of baseball.

"R.B.I. 2014" presents itself as a simple arcade-style game, with none of the pesky statistics that baseball fans hate so much.

'R.B.I. Baseball 14'

From: MLB.com, Behaviour Interactive

Rated: E

Who's it for: Nobody who enjoys video games

Console: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Grade: F

Though players are differentiated, you can't see their stats, so it's impossible to logically choose which players to put in.

Not that this matters. Pitching is weightless and unrealistic, hitting a simple matter of timing and fielding almost impossible.

Like my old team, the players in this game seem to take their cues from the Three Stooges. At least this would be funny if they all didn't move so slowly.

What we're left with is a gimmick of a game, one that does absolutely nothing to promote Major League Baseball (which was surely the point, right?).

If you do want to play a baseball video game, grab "MLB 14 The Show" for PlayStation 3 or PS4 and avoid this massive balk at all costs.