Emerald Monthly Update – June 2017

Yeah, it’s a day late, I know. Let’s talk about two games from 2001, and one more modern-ish game. Final Fantasy X, Don’t Starve Together, and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon are on the chopping block today, so let’s get to it!


Final Fantasy X for Playstation 2

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Let’s strike while the iron is 16 years cold, shall we?

Final Fantasy X is, if you can believe it, the 10th installment in the Final Fantasy mainline series from Square Enix, released in 2001.

For those who don’t know, Final Fantasy is a long, old series of games dating back to December of 1987. They are Japanese Role Playing Games. Um…they are turn-based. So…so you have a party, right, of three to four people, and it’s like…you take turns hurting the enemy until you win. Final Fantasy is usually characterized by certain repeating mechanics and creatures, such as:

Chocobos, which are like giant ride-able golden chickens; the appearance of an airship you can control in the mid-to-late game; the spell naming conventions in order of power going ___, ___ra, and ___ga (ex: Fire, Fira and Firaga; Thunder, Thundara, and Thundaga); certain reoccurring enemies like the legendary dragon Bahamut; being resurrected by Phoenix Downs, and so on.

I’m having trouble finding out where to start with this. Final Fantasy games tend to be quite story and character driven. I usually critique games based primarily on their gameplay, because my philosophy is if the gameplay isn’t at least serviceable to mediocre, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your game is. And with Final Fantasy, the gameplay is often the same all the way through – either simple, turn based systems, or turn based systems on somewhat of a timer. One tends to know what they’re getting into gameplay-wise if they’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game once before, save for anything past 11.

So…I’m going to have to go for things besides the gameplay, huh?

Well, you start off as a sort of sports star who ends up in a different world and essentially plays the “fish out of water” archetype. He’s kind of whiny at times, but isn’t a bad person by any means. He discovers many things, including a new religion, many wild beasts, skills…

…I’m kind of at a loss. See, I grew up with this game, and it’s kind of been a permanent part of my psyche since 2001. So, screw it, let’s talk about the funny shit in this game.

Yo, so, the game gets a lot of guff for its shoddy and stilted voice acting, but has anyone ever taken a minute to appreciate the totally bizarre “cinematography” during cutscenes? There are so many intense zoom-ins that have a weird visual effect, so many awkward fade-ins and fade-outs, so many just…bizarre cuts between not even just shot-reverse shot, but sometimes they forget to reverse it entirely!

And you know, this is the game that birthed the Tidus Laugh meme, but there are honestly so many other stilted voice acting examples that weren’t intended that I’m surprised they don’t get as much attention. Weird vocal inflections fester all through this game, people are oddly intense sounding in rather mundane situations, and blatantly not-intense when they clearly should be. Yuna in particular is an offender of the latter, especially in a “the reason you suck” speech late in the game which CALLED for an intense, strong display of willpower and determination which somehow sounded softer than a Tempur-Pedic mattress.

…I can’t really hate on this game.

On the one hand, I’ll be honest, there might be some childhood nostalgia bias, considering I was still in my single-digits when I played this game. However, I feel there’s still a certain charm to this game regardless. It’s kind of amazing how far we’ve come in terms of voice acting and camera direction since 2001, and I feel like Final Fantasy X is an awkward teenager trying as many different new things as it can to make people like it, while ultimately coming off as endearingly awkward.

Awwwww, remember way back when, when video games thought zoom-ins with intense fade effect layered over them were cool?

The story itself is surprisingly solid for Final Fantasy, considering the franchise has a bit of a reputation for shitting the bed at around the third act. The twist, while doesn’t make complete sense, does have satisfying outcomes and consequences for the characters at the end, and it doesn’t get to the insane levels of potential non-sense-making armageddon that previous Final Fantasies have (see: 8 and 9). It’s even got a bit of political commentary in it that would still be applicable to this day – a moral that says to not necessarily blindly accept everything you’re told as a culture, lest one be manipulated into falsehood.

Final Fantasy is an odd franchise to talk about. It tends to be received in one of three ways:
A. You love it
B. You hate it
C. You only like one or two games from it and think the rest are trash.

It’s one of those things that I think one would have to play for themselves to find out if they like it or not. But, at the very least I can relay what to expect from this game for those who want to try it out. You can expect…

Weird, bizarre cinematography from an awkward era of gaming
Odd, sometimes unintentionally hilarious vocal performances
Turn based role playing, complete with Hit Points, Magic Points, and super moves that build up over time until you can use them
A pretty solid story, but if you ever replay it, beware that you cannot skip cutscenes because games hadn’t figured out that was a thing they should do yet.
A 40+ hour play time
One character being clearly useless in battle compared to the rest of the cast (you’ll know the one after a while)
A leveling system that is aesthetically pleasing, yet bears only the illusion of choice when really it’s pretty much a frayed, but straight line.
An interesting history lesson on how early Playstation 2 games were trying to utilize the new hardware in different ways
Arguably the coolest party member in all of Final Fantasy (again, you’ll know)

If that sort of thing doesn’t seem like your bag, maybe move along to something else. If it does, then give it a shot!


Don’t Starve Together for PC

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Come to think of it, I’ve never talked about Don’t Starve here, have I?

So, yeah! Don’t Starve is a game from back in 2013 produced by Klei Entertainment, also producers of the engine of N+, as well as notable games Invisible Inc. and Oxygen Not Included.

It’s a crafting survival game, and yes, I know, those are a dime a dozen nowadays after the monolithic Minecraft popularized the genre, but this one differs itself in having a style I would describe as two cups of Tim Burton with a very small dash of Lovecraft. Your goal is right in the title – don’t starve – as well as don’t get killed by giant eyeballs on legs, mysterious swamp tentacles or a Christmas reindeer on enough steroids to make Mark McGuire blush. And if you can do some science, alchemy and magic along the way, well, that’s just a bonus. In the singleplayer, there’s an added goal of finding out the backstory of the man who trapped you in this unpleasent place to begin with, but lately I’ve been playing the multiplayer with a group of friends who won’t starve along with me.

The dynamic of multiplayer can be…interesting, to say the least. One person in the group dying causes everyone else to lose sanity faster and faster, causing them to start hallucinating and even being attacked by shadow creatures at extreme cases, so there’s certainly incentive to keep everyone alive. If one player attempts to strike out on their own, often times they’ll get punished hard for it and everyone else will have to pay for their mistakes until they can get the means to revive themselves.

Despite getting acclaim off of its original title, I feel this game was absolutely made for multiplayer. I’ve survived longer with friends than I ever had by myself, and seen things I’ve never honestly seen before. Customization options for the worlds you spawn in are quite user friendly, effective and just in-depth enough to make each world unique. And, of course, mods are aplenty and very fun to play around with, even if some of them make multiplayer unstable.

Overall, I’d say it’s a damn good multiplayer survival game packed with atmosphere and fun times. I’m…aware this is a rather short section, but I’m honestly not sure what else to say about it.


Castlevania: Circle of the Moon for Game Boy Advance

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Let’s talk about Castlevania. Again. For the third time in the run of these reviews. Can you tell I kind of have a thing for this franchise?

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was released in 2001 on the Game Boy Advance, developed and produced by Konami. You play as Nathan Belmont, who promptly gets wrecked by Dracula along with his brother, resulting in a long free-fall into a tunnel system. Your brother runs ahead on his own and you’re left with nothing but your whip and your wits to navigate through Dracula’s castle once again in some 2D whipping action against skeletons, ghouls, flying swords, demons, and all other manner of monster.

You know, after looking at the review for this game, I realize I’m not gonna make any friends for this.

This game kinda suuuuucks…

My biggest grievances lie in design choices rather than game mechanics. I heard a few people had a problem with the DSS Card System, which struck some as not dark fantasy-ish enough, but as a mechanic I think it’s fine. I take issue, however, if I’m spotting rooms that are blatantly copy-pasted from each other, where the only difference is one monster placement.

Outright copying its own design aside, I feel like Circle of the Moon’s room designs seem rather samey. I found myself constantly forgetting what I had and hadn’t explored, constantly checking the map twice or three times per room, certainly not helped by my character’s molasses pace. A slower pace made more sense in the older Castlevania games where enemy placements were deliberate and specific because the levels were built in so they didn’t have to account for backtracking, but Circle of the Moon absolutely revels in its backtracking, and as such, enemy placements become clumsy to the point where some enemies are just totally cheap and unfair, but more to the point, unmotivated. It feels like a designer just threw monsters in each room that vaguely increased in power over progression, not thinking about how a player might strategically outfox them.

Save points seem less plentiful than usual as well, although that feeling might be due to my character’s default walk being slower than me on a Sunday. And yes, I know you get a sprint option, but constantly having to mash forward twice doesn’t feel good at all, especially when you have to re-mash forward twice to change direction. I would have loved an option to run by default, but truth be told, the run itself has the opposite problem of being too fast at times. Running into a room has multiple times resulted in taking hits, or being thrown into a pit that sends me all the way back to the beginning of the game like some demented game of Chutes and Ladders.

Can’t it just have been a default run right in the middle of those two? You know, like Symphony of the Night? Can’t this game have memorable, non-samey rooms that I get mixed up all the time like Symphony of the Night? I feel like this game was trying to meet Symphony of the Night and Super Castlevania 4 midway, but when you get down to it, they’re just different games with different design philosophies that don’t jive with each other at all.

And then there are monsters who have attacks that are just…infuriating, and rooms that are just…awful. The worst offenders are the Flame Demons, whose inverted fireball attack is nigh unavoidable and causes fairly high damage, which adds up when you have so few save points around, and the Bloody Swords, small red floating swords that dart around the screen, through walls to attack you and are extremely hard to hit.

One room in particular paired four or five Bloody Swords with another type of monster that, once touched by them, you can’t use any of your weapons for a time. This is the room that turned me from saying ‘Eeh, it’s kinda not great’ to ‘No, screw this game.’ Something is wrong when someone designs a level where your only hope to get through the room with more than half your health remaining is to use an invincibility powerup you may or may not have had drop earlier.

Scaling vertical rooms once you get the wall jump feels like work, feels clunky and isn’t fun. Discovering breakable walls is way too easy and hardly ever surprising. The music is unmemorable, aside from the admittedly good track from the first zone. The level design overall is samey and questionable, and the rooms themselves have nothing memorable, nothing that sticks out in the memory, they’re all so damn samey and I get turned around so often because of it! There’s no room like the chapel room with the multi-sword enemy, or long staircase with a skeleton head strapped to a spiky ball at the top, or a room with unlimited spawning fishmen, or…

…*sigh*. Am I being too hard on this game? Am I unfairly expecting Playstation 1 quality from a Game Boy Advance game?

I guess I’m just so disappointed. I started out actually really liking the game, but the further and further I got into it, the more and more it wore on me, it’s just stopped being fun. Whenever I died, I dreaded the hard trek all the way back through eerily similar looking rooms and through bullshit enemies to where I was before, only to not find a save point nearby and die yet again. The only thing I like about this game is the card powerup mechanics, and even then, the fact that they’re cards don’t really fit into the universe well. Something like, oh, I dunno, spirits being absorbed might have jived better, and you wouldn’t even have to change the mechanic itself.

I don’t like this game, and I don’t want to play it anymore.

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Emerald Monthly Update – May 2017

Oh man, I’m really slipping up. I’m two hours late in publishing this. That’s okay, I’ve got some variety for you folks today – and best of all, I don’t have to deal with school being a thorn in my side! On the docket today is Princess Maker 2, ICEY, Final Fantasy 1 for the PSP, and a revisit of God Eater: Resurrection from back in March!


Princess Maker 2 for DOS

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I was hanging out with a couple of good friends of mine when they joked about playing some game called “Princess Maker”. Initially, I dismissed it as some silly joke that he was making. Princess Maker? There’s really a game out there called that? Yeah, right, I thought to myself, it’s probably some trash my friend dug up to laugh at from the darker, crap corner of Steam or some obscure browser game that was just virtual dress-up. Slightly inebriated and extremely exhausted from an afternoon of sparring with foam swords, my sentiments were essentially, “Screw it, let’s pop in this Princess Maker thing and laugh at it for a while.” My friends both seemed pretty ecstatic at my suggestion, which intrigued me.

Then the title screen appeared after booting it on DOS, stating it was made by Gainax. The Gainax, like, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, FLCL, Panty and Stocking – THAT Gainax. In 1993, of all years – pre-Evangelion. What the hell had I gotten into?

And then, what I had once dismissed as some shovelware-level laughable title of a game, instead became a surprisingly in-depth middle-ages-asteroid-kid-raising simulator.

Princess Maker 2’s plot is pretty simple in the beginning – you play as a mighty wandering middle-ages warrior who happened to wander into a war between a nation and an army of demons from hell, and as explained in the prologue, you’re so badass that you basically drove all the hordes back and saved the kingdom single-handedly. You’re hailed as a hero, and pretty much have it easy until one of twelve space gods fastballs a ten-year old girl into your neck of the woods, and tasks you to raise her. From there, gameplay is choosing what you want her to do, listening to her, putting her through school and/or work and/or adventuring, and making sure she doesn’t die or hate you too much by the time she’s 18 years old.

Each line of work and school changes her stats by a certain amount, and replay value becomes a larger factor when hidden personality values are incorporated into each separate kid you raise per playthrough, and that’s not even mentioning the 74 different endings holy frijoli that’s a lot of endings whoa.

I wouldn’t call it a perfect game, however (then again, I’m not sure I’d call any game perfect). See, after a few playthroughs, I began to realize that despite hidden values, I could pretty much steer my kid wherever I wanted with a little effort. The biggest variable factor seemed to be how well she handled stress, affecting how many times in a row I could put her through work and school. And, unfortunately, you need to put her through work so she can earn money to go to school and raise her stats accordingly, possibly so that she’s better at a different kind of work. It has a tendency to fall into a bit of a cycle that tends to get repetitive after a while – get work to earn money to go to school to get stats to get better at work to get more money to go to school – and so on.

Hey, you’re a big hero, dad. Why don’t you go out and do some work at the farm? Why are you making your preteen kid go do such hard work? And for that matter, why is the king only giving you 500 bucks a year after you fended off an entire hell horde and saved the kingdom by yourself? This girl should be getting prime treatment and schooling by default.

This confirmed, the king is a stingy bastard.

Also, once you realize it’s not that easy to get your kid killed, tension dips a fair amount. Getting KOed while adventuring doesn’t result in death, or any hard consequence other than losing a few days really, and getting wrecked in the combat tournament doesn’t yield any hard negative effects either. No assassination attempts are made, no poisoned chocolate, no other nations deciding to wage war on you, nothing like that. It’s all pretty safe, especially compared to Long Live The Queen, a game that I now realize clearly took a lot of inspiration from Princess Maker. Really, it seems like the only way for your kid to get killed is illness, and as long as you let her rest well, she’ll pretty much get over it 100% of the time in my experience.

By the end, the stats you have built up with whatever you decided to focus on with your kid, combined with the events, actions and scenes she participated in and people she talked to most, will give you one of a mind-boggling 74 different endings. There’s also other characters, like a fussy butler that won’t stop trying to parent for you sometimes and it gets very annoying when he changes something without your say-so, and some characters that you probably won’t even encounter in your first couple of playthroughs, like a perverted old dragon that gives you money for…pretty much your mere presence. Or the devil himself, which I still haven’t managed to encounter in my four playthroughs.

I found my first playthrough to be extremely engrossing, and I found myself personally invested in my kid, trying to prepare my kid for the hard life out there as well as I could, toughening her up while also trying (and failing a lot) to remember to chat with her when I could. My emotional responses were surprisingly potent my first way through – I genuinely wanted my daughter to live her love life herself and my policy was that if they wanted to get with her, they’d have to get her approval, not mine. It’s her life, after all. I also got real pissy when a cooking rival showed up and was totally rude to my daughter out of nowhere, and we proceeded to stomp the ever-loving spices out of her in the cooking contest time and time again just to rub it in her face. And when some guy challenged her to a duel out of nowhere and beat her up, we worked together to prepare herself for that sort of situation (she mentioned being self-conscious about how physically weak she felt, too, so I figured I’d help), and when the time arose again, she absolutely clobbered him mercilessly.

Look, I hate kids. I don’t ever want to have kids. I’ve never, ever wanted to have kids. I think they’re the most annoying, vicious things in the world, completely devoid of empathy and utterly inept at holding an interesting conversation. But let me make one thing perfectly clear – if you mess with my daughter, I’m not going to come for you. Instead, I’ll give her the tools and abilities, train her up, and she’ll come for you. And trust me, by the end of it, you’ll probably be so humiliated that you’ll wish I’d have come for you instead. 

I make it a point to avoid using hard expletives often in these in these updates – just a personal preference, I like to be able to be okay with it if my mom or other family members happens to wander over here and start reading, but I’ll make a deliberate exception here to say this:

Do. Not. Fuck. With. My. Daughter.

…well, figuratively, anyways. Literally, she can be with whoever she wants as far as I’m concerned, as long as she’s at least somewhat safe about it at least.

Yeah, I like this game a lot. Really good for its time too, very in depth for a game made in 1993 for DOS. I remember my friend commenting that, despite the widespread knowledge of my loathing of being around children, I ironically was “Acting like such a dad,” as I played.

Hell, any game that can illicit that sort of genuine feeling and reaction from me gets a recommendation.


ICEY for PC

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I’d heard about ICEY from a a video one of my favorite Let’s Play channels did, and was immediately intrigued. A sidescrolling action game that had more under the surface than it first seemed? A narrator that could be messed with à la The Stanley Parable? Interesting, seems worth investigating, especially since it seems to be the only game by a Chinese developer with the unwieldy name Shanghai FantaBlade Network Technology Co., Ltd.

I’ve had a good few run-ins with meta-game concepts and fourth-wall-breaking games that at this point, the most interesting thing to do for me is to do exactly what the game wants me to do first, resisting the multiple temptations to try and go my own way to get a rise out of a narrator figure. And, surprisingly, on its own, as an action game I quite enjoyed ICEY’s combat. It looks nice and fluid, with a sort of easy-to-learn, moderately-difficult-to-master speedy-dodgy playstyle, and impacts are nice and…impactful. I probably would have enjoyed this game just fine if it happened to be a simple, sincere, short slice of swordplay action, and once you get the powerup of five rechargeable dashes that can be directed in any of the eight main directions, things start to get pretty crazy and awesome. Half the time I felt like a low-tier DragonBall character.

Then, after my first run, which only took a maximum of an hour and a half, it was time to start really dinking around, taking alternate routes that the narrator clearly didn’t want me to go to, messing with him because I had powerups I wasn’t supposed to have so early on, and just experimenting and having fun. Each ending, however, revealed a little bit about the larger story, giving what were once mindless bosses a bit more character, hinting at a larger force at work known as the Yellow King, and what was once simply getting on my narrator’s nerves for fun soon became a collect-all-the-endings-to-get-the-true-ending affair.

In the midst of collecting endings, the meta narrative goes deeper and deeper, exploring the personal life and psyche of a narrator that seems to unhinge little by little as time and exploration goes on, not helped by your own rule-breaking actions. Interestingly, this is the first time that I can think of where netting the “true” ending involves getting all the achievements, and encourages using those achievements as hints on how to get them in the game itself. While I won’t spoil any of the endings, including the ending-ending, I’ll say that I managed to obtain all of them in five hours, consequently netting all the achievements in the game as a side benefit rather than having to go out and get them for the sole sake of achievement hunting.

Honestly, I wish more games would incorporate achievements as hints to complete the game proper. It’s a nice idea that strays away from the monotony of 100% completion of a game for the sake of 100% completion. I also really like the idea of completing a game when you’ve…well, completed the game, rather than completing a game when you’ve done X amount of tasks Y times that hold little relevance to the game itself.

It’s a nice, fresh motivator, is all I’m saying. The industry could use more games like this that use achievements in more interesting ways.

The DLC is disappointing though. Don’t bother, it’s just basically horde mode. I hear it adds a little more to the story eventually, but I couldn’t be bothered to find out because it just got so monotonous, and more story didn’t really seem necessary after all that happened.

As a final point, while it’s your call, I found the English dub of the narrator to…not quite capture the tone of the original Chinese dub. It wasn’t awful, however – give both a shot and see what you like more, but I think the Chinese dub sounded a little more believable.

I quite enjoyed this game. Honestly, more so than Pony Island, which is a fine game in its own right, and probably the most direct comparison I can think of.


Final Fantasy I for PlayStation Portable

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Final Fantasy I is among my very first gaming experiences in my entire life. Back when I was…damn, 4 or 5, maybe younger, my Nana had an original NES complete with a slew of games, ranging from Super Mario Bros 1 and 3 (2 was missing, peculiarly), Castlevania, Metroid, Battletoads, and of course among them was the real, original, first turn-based JRPG I ever played, Final Fantasy, made by Square as a hailmary move for their company who, at the time in 1987, was in dire financial straits.

As a kid, I remember the original Final Fantasy being very hard to follow, often times getting lost and having no idea how to proceed. I also remember that about midway through the game there was a massive difficulty spike that required a fair amount of grinding to get through even for adults around me, and the first real big-boy dungeon, the Marsh Cave, being a definitive game-ender for pre-10-year-old me.

Well, now I’m grown up. And so has Final Fantasy. I’m an aduuuullllllt. And now, it’s time to see how well the remake for the PSP back in 2007 translated such an old and venerated title to a more modern era.

First off, the graphics are updated, and they look quite nice while staying relatively faithful to its source material. That’s…really all I have to say about that, pretty straightfoward. The same could be said for the music, now fully composed with proper instrumentation and executed very well. Magic has been changed – instead of going by the original’s limited charges per magic level, now it’s just a more modern Magic Point system. Back in the old one, if you killed an enemy that you also set another one of your party to target, that next party member would swing at nothing and waste their turn, and, well, they’ve done away with that in the remake, instead letting party members hit the next guy on the list automatically. Also, I only knew about this from ProJared’s recent video, but it turns out this fixes a lot of bugs from the original game I didn’t even know existed in the first place, so that’s a major plus. There have been new dungeons added with bonus bosses from other, later entries in the series too!

The dancer in the first town now helpfully reminds you of what to do next if you’re stuck…that is, until she just…stops doing that about 1/4th of the way through the game, for some reason.

Yeah, that bothered me a little. Especially since I really could have used her help halfway through. Once I got access to the airship, I was having to look at guides left and right to find out where I was supposed to go. I even had to rely on guides to get the airship in the first place. In my attempts to find out what to do next by wandering around by myself and talking to people, I found myself shockingly overleveled, and truth be told, I’ve been mopping the floor with this game’s bosses with a mere three or four hits.

It’s like they thought to themselves, “Well, the old one was too hard and grindy, so let’s overcorrect twice as hard and make this game’s battles for babies, but let’s keep the player guessing as to where to go next still, and have encounters every five steps or so anyways.”

If it wasn’t obvious, I don’t like the encounter rate in this game. This poses a particular problem in dungeons, which can be difficult to navigate while not having a map and simultaneously being attacked by the 17th friggin cockatrice in this multi-layered, meandering, long-ass dungeon, and sometimes after an encounter I get turned around and have to find my way again only to be hit by another encounter merely ten seconds later and losing my place all over again.

It really feels to me like lowering the encounter rate would have helped a lot, not only to make the game more balanced and less easy to overlevel one’s self and gather stupid amounts of money, but also for the benefit of dungeon navigation which is already difficult to begin with in this particular game. Not to mention it’d help me to remember what I’m supposed to be doing next in the long run as well.

If there’s one takeaway from this particular writeup, I want it to be that – lowering the encounter rate would have seriously helped.

Aaaaah, but I can’t help it. I still think this game is fine enough. There’s no shame on relying on a guide here, especially with dungeon maps and especially-especially halfway through the game where you have to do some pretty obtuse stuff to proceed, so as long as you’re okay with that, and you’re patient with the encounter rate, I feel like there’s a lot of good stuff to be had here, particularly the ability to set up your party classes from the get-go however you want, for a unique sort of replay value not seen in any subsequent Final Fantasy mainline entries. Want to build a party with four white mages? You can!

Well…I mean, you can, but…good luck if you do. Just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should.


God Eater: Resurrection for PC (Revisit)

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So, in the almost year and a half of writing this series, only once have I ever had to revisit a game in a later entry, and that was because I found a different, superior version to the one I was previously playing. This is the first time I’ve ever revisited a game solely because of a change in opinion over time. Granted, these aren’t full fledged reviews, they’re just updates, so many times I’ve written a piece on them here without having played the game all the way through, and I’ve always kept the possibility of going back and revisiting a game open if necessary, it’s just that I’ve never felt the need to. All the opinions I’ve written in these main pieces have either held up or just gone further in the same direction.

Time to do something unprecedented for this series, then.

A few more months of playing this game has revealed certain flaws I’m not okay with. I beat the campaign, rolled the credits, and everything seemed fine until…the game just…kept going afterwards anyways. Why did you roll the credits if there was still an entire half of the game to be played? It’d be one thing if you pulled a clever thing like Symphony of the Night and added lots of variety while turning certain conventions in the game on its head, or like Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal where there’s a whole host of new places to go to, but God Eater didn’t really do anything like that. It just…kind of lied about being over. There was no good reason to put the credits in there at all when there’s still half the game left.

The game continues, a few new characters are introduced, and now you’re put in a position similar to one of the previous characters as a sort of mentor figure to newbies. The main newbie in particular just…has a voice that grates on me. It really contrasts with the rest of the cast, who are fairly believably acted, or at the very least, don’t sound like a robot Mokuba Kaiba. There might be a reason for that, but I’m probably not going to get to see that reason becaaaaaaause…

…the game’s just getting too boring and repetitive now.

It’s not fun anymore. I’m finding myself fighting mostly powered up colorswaps of the same monsters, the fights are dragging on for longer now because of it, there are more fights in general to do, and it’s almost required now to do the side missions or else get wrecked by the story because I don’t have good enough equipment, which means getting to the story bits is becoming far too long a process for me to care about anyone anymore.

Especially since the plot faux-resolved itself like three chapters ago, and probably should have ended there.

I mentioned I couldn’t really get into Monster Hunter when I tried it, and the more time that goes on, the more I feel like this is having the same main issue as Monster hunter. Too long of battles, too repetitive, and not enough story expedience to keep me interested. It’s become more of a grinding game now than ever, and it seems to be going further in that trajectory the more missions I play and the further I get into it.

I might come back to it to try and beat it – looking it up, I seem to only be two or three chapters from the actual end, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’ll give a final summation later if I do decide to go back to it.

That said, I also tried the multiplayer with my girlfriend, and that proved to be pretty fun, I’ll admit.


Other Quick Updates

Dark Souls III for PC

It’s finally happened, a sale cutting DSIII to half price happened and I snatched it up as fast as I could! I’m currently playing it alongside a friend and making it a point to not go ahead by myself, so it’ll probably be a hot minute before I get around to giving this the monthly update treatment. That said, this process is also allowing me to more thoroughly go back and explore areas we already went through, finding little things here and there that help and grinding some to get giant. I never mind grinding in Dark Souls, it’s kinda relaxing really, and each encounter is engaging.

Final Fantasy X (International) for PS2

Why is Blitzball so disappointing, yet still so addicting? Also, I have no goddamn idea what I’m doing with the Expert Sphere Grid. I think I’m failing hard with it.

Emerald Monthly Update – April 2017

This week looks like it’s gonna be all PC! Up to bat this month is Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Floating Point, and 100ft Robot Golf!

What an interesting set of…names.


Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien for PC

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This may come as a surprise, but I never did play the first Bit.Trip Runner game. I don’t honestly remember how I got this, although I’ve been somewhat interested after the main character Commander Video made an early cameo in Super Meat Boy some time ago. It doesn’t really strike me as the kind of game you absolutely need to be caught up on the plot to enjoy, though, so I picked this one up regardless because I had it and not the first for some reason.

Developed by Gaijin Games and released back in 2013, Runner2 is a 2D side scrolling game with rhythm game elements. The game actually has your character run at a constant speed on its own – your only job is to jump or duck or deflect or kick through obstacles on his way there. Each obstacle cleared will coincide with a note in the backing soundtrack for a nice little sense of serendipity.

While easy starting out, it does ramp up the challenge later on, mostly by throwing more things into the mix. At first it’s just jumping and ducking but later on you’ll be bouncing off of trampolines and making snap decisions on whether to go low or high ground, deflecting projectiles and flying-kicking away boards like a perpetual Jet Li machine.

I started off liking this game quite a lot, with its charming, cheery pastel colors and quirky aesthetic narrated by a non-Mario speaking Charles Martinet for once – the experience was nice, to be sure.

Then some little annoyances I had began to surface. And they evolved into large annoyances the more I played.

The first level of annoyances I’d say have to be the difficulty. I only barely made it through the first world by the skin of my teeth near the end there, and I feel like ‘gitting gud’ can only go so far when I can see only a fraction of what’s about to happen to me to begin with. Eventually I found the experience far more stressful than it was worth, coming to a point where I was simultaniously frustrated and entranced at the same time. I found myself mixing buttons up after a certain point of skill seeing diminishing returns over time, and I would have to stop at these points altogether.

The other, massive issue I have is the soundtrack – it’s not diverse enough. 18 levels of what amounted to basically the same music being played in the same world over and over and over with only slight variations wore me down very quickly, and when I finally got to the second world, ecstatic for variety, what I found awaiting me was little more than a remix of the same song, only with more Caribbean instrumentation.

That’s pretty much when I put the game down. I’m sorry, but I need more variety deeper than that to keep me going in any game that puts so much stock in its soundtrack. I mean, it’s supposed to be Future Legend of “Rhythm” Alien, but really what you’re dodging to isn’t even the rhythm, it’s the melody. It’s a bit of a misnomer, really.

Look, I realize I’m in the minority for not liking this game. If you enjoy it, that’s totally fine. I admit it’s a very accessible game – most everyone, gamer or no, could probably have fun with it for some amount of time on some level. Aesthetics are great, but there were just a couple things that kept gnawing on me until I couldn’t really play it anymore.

Maybe I’ll try a different Bit.Trip game sometime. Overall, for me personally, this didn’t have enough soundtrack variety, and got a little too frustrating over time without being that satisfying.


Floating Point for PC

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Is there such a thing as a “relax-em-up”? A “chill-em-up”?

I discovered Floating Point through doing research on the developers of Gunpoint (previous Emerald Monthly Update inclusion and very good 2D stealth game while being a send-up of the film noir genre), and discovering that Suspicious Developments had a couple other games under their belt. Ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with this free game that had come out in 2014.

The premise is simply. You’re a dot that can grapple onto blocks with a grapple hook string thing and swing around them. The more momentum you gain, the more these blocks protrude…red rectangles. You collect these red rectangles to beat the level and go to the next one. There are two halves of the stage, which if you fall into one, gravity reverses so you fall naturally into the other, so there’s no such thing as falling into pits of death or anything like that. No game overs, just peaceful swingin’ around.

That’s it, that’s the game. Also did I mention it’s free?

It’s calm, relaxing, there’s no end, that’s the only real goal, I think there’s ambient music? And much of the game is even customizable, from the speed of the grappling hook retracting, to level width, to density, and a fair bit more.

No joking around here, this game, since I discovered it, has helped me fall asleep at night. I love this little, simple, free game, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to relax via swinging around freely.


 

100 Foot Robot Golf for PC

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The game, developed by No Goblin, entitled “One Hundred Foot Robot Golf” exists as of March 16th, 2017.

What a time to be alive.

So, golf games, right? I honestly really enjoy myself some golf and mini-golf games whenever I pass them by. I never actively seek them out, but I do remember Fuji Golf being a big favorite of mine back on my grandmothers’ old Windows 95, and I played the hell out of the mini-golf minigame in both Thrillville games, and holy shit I just found out Thrillville: Off The Rails has been on Steam since ’07, and for 10 bucks!? I am immediately buying this!

Ahem. Sorry. Got a little sidetracked.

100ft Robot Golf is a pretty nice golfing game, if you’re willing to put up with some janky stuff. References to various mecha anime and movies are in there, you can use a mech piloted by five corgis, or just a straight up spooky scary skeleton that shoots lasers out its eye sockets, and a good few more to choose from too. Each one has its own little minigame to wind up the swing with, and while I feel some of them do repeat (the skeleton and the Evangelion references have pretty much the exact same game) they’re all pretty fun. There’s also super ball power-ups – sometimes you’ll get very temporary control over your ball, and sometimes your ball turns into a party ball and blasts party music.

The party ball is fun the first few times. It’s not fun after that.

All of this is set in a colorful implied dystopia, behind a relaxing lounge kind of music and two commentators who have nice, calm voices while also being able to sling biting insults, witty banter and good sarcasm the player’s way too. I did, however, end up lamenting that the commentators after a while began repeating their witty one-liners, making them less and less witty and more and more annoying as time went on.

You can knock down buildings that are in the way, as well as put buildings in the way for opponents intentionally in certain modes, and while I will admit that almost everything about the physics is absolutely jank, there’s a certain charm to it all.

This game is nowhere near perfect, in fact, parts of the time it operates as a broken, janky, clunky hot mess, but it’s got so much heart to it that I can’t help but like it regardless of its jank. It’s a game that you pull out with some friends who either haven’t played it for a while or haven’t played it at all, go ‘hey, check out this dumb thing isn’t it great?’ and all have a laugh for a few hours before it starts to get too grating and repetitive.

It’s a bit of a novelty game, and I’d say a pretty good example of style far, far overpowering substance. But boy, does that style go a long way in short doses. I’m not sure I’d recommend it at 20 bucks, maybe wait for a sale, but if you have the disposable income and want to just kind of smile at something dumb and awesome for a few hours, definitely give this one a go.


Other Quick Updates

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin for PC

THEY FIXED THE SALTFORT BONFIRE. HALLELUJAH.

Also, there’s a couple enemies I don’t recognize. Scary, I dunno how to deal with them. I’m having fun with power stancing a couple of scimitars, but it’s hard as hell.

Also AAAAHHH PURSUER.

Overwatch for PC

For the most part I’ve been focusing on getting better as Mccree, and I thought to myself “Hmm, I wonder if this aiming practice translates to Widowmaker.”

It did. I have tasted true power, and I don’t know that I could ever go back. The dark side calls, and the dark side has a very nice butt and is very French.

God Eater: Resurrection for PC

I…feel like I may have included this one in my Monthly Update a little prematurely. More time with the game has exposed some flaws I didn’t see before, some unexpected hiccups that hinder the game (mostly its repetitiveness and its sudden inclusion of characters that…I do not care for the dubbing of. Also the fact that it’s still going despite having rolled credits ages ago, when does this game actually end?)


Hopefully since it’s summer vacation soon, I’ll be able to get more games into these monthly lineups. 

Emerald Monthly Update – March 2017

You would think that my birth month would have served as an overall nice month for me. But alas, while it did have some of the highest highs of the years so far, it also served some of my lowest lows. I didn’t get around to a lot, admittedly, so this one will only be a double feature. Call it an apology for last time where my article was massive even for my own standards. Let’s do this.


VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action for PC

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VA-11 Hall-A, developed by a small indie team based in Venezuela known as Sukeban Games, can be categorized as  a visual novel first and foremost. The game takes place in the year 207X, and certainly delivers on the promise of cyberpunk, and you play as surly smartass bartender Jill Stingray working at the titular bar VA-11 Hall-A in what seems to be halfway between cyberpunk dystopia and cyberpunk suburbia, what with living in an apartment alone with a cat and still going to work every day. This world hasn’t gone completely to hell yet, but it sure seems to be heading that way.

While a visual novel need not require gameplay, Va-11 Hall-A (christ, that’s unnatural to type), this game has some in the form of mixing drinks for customers that come in from a set pool of five ingredients. A little basic for bartending, but it’ll do. Sometimes the way you mix them will give you a little leverage to have fun and spike someone’s drink with more alcohol than usual at no penalty, and they very well may respond differently (see: drunkenly) in response. This in large part is the game’s way of providing multiple, very subtle ways to play and influence characters you interact with from behind the bar table, which can lead up to big differences nearer the end. It can be your choice to cut someone off, or give a customer something non-alcoholic if you think they’ve had enough. Relationships are developed, bonds are formed and broken, and your goal is to keep customers happy with accurate drinks in order to earn your pay and take care of your rent (or not, if you wish).

I’ve been…attempting to be neutral this whole time, describing what the game is rather than what I think of it up ’till now, but I’m just going to show my hand right here. I love this game. I love this game so damn much. Maybe I’m a fool, but there’s a small part of me that really thinks society could be somewhere close to how it’s depicted by 2070something.

First off, the characters. All of them are memorable, and when they become regulars, many like Sei develop further down the line, for better or for worse. Jill’s own story is revealed to the player about midway through, and by the end, while there is a lot of goofy anime-ish stuff, all of it comes off as very…human. 

That’s the operative word there, I can’t remember the last time I ever played a game that depicted situations and people as so human. I feel genuinely like I’ve known people just like many of the people in this game, good and bad alike. And yeah, obviously there’s very little chance of human-talking dogs anytime in the next 70 years, but there’s definitely a line between the goofy comedy relief and the actually emotionally engaging and relatable situations these characters get into – again, especially with Jill, your player character.

The soundtrack (which you have to load your jukebox with when you begin your work day) compliments the tone very nicely, and while it’s not Undertale levels of amazing memorable tracks, I find it light techno-trance-y enough to fit well with the rest of the game.

And hey, life has a lot of goofy stuff in it too. Maybe not talking-corgi level goofy, but still.


God Eater: Resurrection for PC

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God Eater was a game that originated on the PSP in Japan only back in 2010. A mere eight months later, developer Shift and publishers Bandai Namco decided to rerelease it under Gods Eater Burst and bring it overseas with a couple of added doodads for the PSP in 2011. About five years later, in 2016, they remade and rereleased it yet for PS4, Vita and PC under the name God Eater: Resurrection.

God Eater: Resurrection is a fast-paced action RPG with an emphasis on very large monsters, very large weaponry, and very large anime artstyle. Exploiting particular body parts for weaknesses in combination with elemental and weapon type advantages is key in this game, and most often you’ll have a team of up to three other NPCs that do fairly good work slaying monsters with you as long as they aren’t getting in your way with their pesky bullets, which may or may not happen a lot. Stamina and ammo management are key factors to keep in mind, and you may be wondering, “Hmm, doesn’t this sound familiar…?”

Yes, God Eater takes a lot from the popular Monster Hunter series, except it’s faster, more fluid, and has an actual story and characters worth caring about unlike the Monster Hunter game I played on the Nintendo 3DS.

Okay, I admit I’m a bit biased. I never could get into Monster Hunter, mostly because it lacked everything I just listed. But I’m very into God Eater here. The story so far of a future dystopia just trying to survive against the monsters takes multiple dark turns, and has quite a bit of intrigue and mystery building up. Full disclosure, I haven’t beaten the game as of yet, but I’m still enjoying myself greatly. The characters themselves, even in the time I’ve played, have gone through a lot, revealed, changed and developed, to the point that what they speak on the field shows distinct change over time in tone and words.

The voice acting, in my opinion, is very noteworthy. Most of the time, even if it’s just mediocre, I tend to switch the voices to the country of origin rather than English (in my case, mostly Japanese). However, especially in the character Alisa’s case, the voice acting is downright stellar despite clashing a little with the subpar facial movements. Oddly, in cutscenes, your own character is mute, despite speaking lines during operations, so you have a semi-silent protagonist. Maybe he’s got weird reverse anxiety and can only speak in high pressure situations.

You’ve certainly got your choice of weaponry, In addition to being able to switch between gun and melee near seamlessly, you’ve got six varying category choices of massive melee and four of massive guns, all varying in range, power, speed, damage type and special attacks, so you’re sure to find something you like with that kind of variety.

Music is kinda eh. Lots of horns, occasionally it’s trying a little too hard to be Cowboy Beebop to my ears, and for whatever reason only the support conversations’ music are insanely unbalanced. But you can’t win ’em all. I still enjoy the hell out of this game.


College feels like it’s kicking me while I’m already down, but I’ll try to get more gaming in next time to make a bit of a more robust update. Sorry for it only being a double-feature, we’ll be back to your regularly scheduled three games next month (hopefully!)

Emerald Monthly Update – February 2017

As the hours wind down on this dreary month, I found myself relying more and more on comfort games. Games that I could pick up and binge, lose myself in for hours and hours, and while I kept telling myself ‘Ohhh, I really should try playing Mass Effect one of these days’, these games just kept calling me back over and over. I think a theme through all of these is the fact that I keep playing them even though I’m uncertain whether or not the payoff will ever be worth it. It’s the reason I dropped MMOs and MOBAs almost entirely – the fact that there will never be an end point, or one being more than hundreds of hours away, is a huge turn-off for me recently.

And yet, it’s nice to be able to just bury my head in the sand and sink myself into them every so often, even if I should be going out and having new gaming experiences. I know what I’m doing isn’t good for me, but hey, may as well do what makes me happy in the short time I have to live.


Fire Emblem Heroes for Android

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What better way to illustrate the point of never having an end and being inevitably unsatisfying than to start off with a free-to-play microtransaction-infested mobile game by Intelligent Systems, revered creators of Tennis for the NES.

Oh, right, and the majority of the Fire Emblem games.

The gameplay of Fire Emblem Heroes is essentially a condensed version of other past Fire Emblem games. There don’t seem to be any maps larger than one phone screen’s worth of real estate, it’s all grid-based and turn-based strategy. The weaknesses and strengths against each weapon time is your typical rock-paper-scissors affair, spiced up with some abilities and traits unique to certain characters you have.

Ah, yes, the characters. See, this is basically a huge intra-franchise crossover ordeal, similar to your Dissidia: Final Fantasy or  Castlevania: Judgement or Super Smash Bros. (although the latter is more inter franchise than intra). And with that, you’ve got a whole slew of main characters and supporting casts from nearly every single Fire Emblem game to date. So, wow, you can have anyone from any Fire Emblem ever!?

Nnnnope! That’s where the microtransactions come into play! You start out with around three or four characters that everyone else starts out with, but after that, if you want more characters, you have to collect orbs. These orbs are then used to summon a random character from a predetermined set of possible characters, each one being assigned a rarity. The rarer the character, the more abilities they have from the get-go, and the more powerful they tend to be as a result.

Combine a Fire Emblem video game with a Gachapon machine. That’s this game.

Except, for me, it’s far more alluring than any Gachapon machine could ever hope to be. For one, I just like the gameplay of your average modern Fire Emblem game on a base level. Two, it makes me want to go out and discover the older games because of seeing interesting designs spanning from games before Awakening that I haven’t given proper time to. Now, I want to know who this Fae character is from that I happened to get a five-star version of, or who this Catria character is from because I find her very attractive (yes, I can be that shallow, I admit it.) Three, for the ones I have played, many of these characters here are those I’ve invested time and effort into via their respective games that they come from, and would be thrilled to have the ability to say I now have them on my team.

This is a diplomatic way of saying I want to get all of my Fire Emblem waifus on my team. That’s all I care about. I already have a five star Camilla, dammit, now I just need Cordelia and I’ll be satisfied, but the game won’t give me Cordelia because it knows, no matter how many orbs I throw at the machine and no matter how many times I pick the spear class she never comes up god dammit I want Cordelia so badly everyone else has her I’ve resisted just buying orbs with money this long why can’t I have her-

…uh…eherm…

Something I do truly appreciate in this game is that it doesn’t seem to be unfair about dispersing orbs without having you pay for them directly. Sure, the daily login bonus doesn’t seem permanent, but there are certain quests and objectives you can go for that award you with not only orbs, but badges to level up your characters without grinding so hard. There seem to be quests that replace themselves every month or so, to keep things fresh and interesting. There’s the training area where you can grind to your heart’s content until you run out of Stamina, which recharges for one point per five minutes real time.

Yeah, the stamina thing isn’t something I’m big on, wish it recharged a little faster.

Overall, as scummy as I still find blatant microtransactions to be, I haven’t hit a point in Fire Emblem Heroes yet where it’s hampered my fun overall. The only thing that has ruined my fun is that when I want to level up my units, if they die, that experience they earned for that round doesn’t apply. Many, many times this has resulted in me getting a unit a level, or even two in one battle, then having them die on me, I clear the rest of the level with no issue but it was basically for nothing. If there was one thing I could change, it’s that bullcrap right there.

Honestly, I think this is my favorite mobile game of all time so far.


Demon’s Souls for Playstation 3

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So uh…yeah, still don’t own Dark Souls III. Stiiiiill 60 bucks. Still can’t really justify that in the position I’m in.

I did get my hands on Demon’s Souls for a third of that price, though.

Demon’s Souls is the first in the ‘Souls’ series that includes itself, Dark Souls 1, 2, and 3, and debatable Bloodborne as well. This one’s the one that started it all in the Souls series.

To give a recap, Demon’s Souls, and the Souls series in general, is a third-person dark fantasy action role playing game, with emphasis on stamina management, timing, dodging and blocking. It has a fixation on throwing everything at a new player that will get them annihilated until they learn to play by the game’s implied rules, such as dropping your shield to recover stamina, learning your opponent’s moves, and finding out how to essentially out-bullshit your opponents.

Okay, so…I’ve played Dark Souls 1. A lot. I’m nearing 450 hours on it according to Steam. And I’ve played Dark Souls 2. A lot. That one’s around 250 hours. I’d like to consider myself as no slouch when it comes to Souls games.

Why in the hell am I having this insane amount of trouble with Demon’s Souls? I’m finding myself being tossed aside like nobody’s business in this game, harder than my first times of the other games.

See, this game does something fundamentally different from the other two, in that it has a central circular hub almost like Crash Bandicoot: Warped where you can decide which area you want to go to directly, rather than Dark Souls having everything interconnected and Dark Souls 2 branching out in forty different walking paths. And because of this, I assumed the proper way to do things was to finish the first hub area I was set in, then go onto the next one, finish everything there, then onto the next, and so on until all the areas are completed in order.

That…doesn’t appear to be the case. As evidenced by going to the second stage of the first area (referred to by the community as ‘1-2’ old school Mario style) I just got annhiallated by the dragon that showed up there over and over and over. After looking it up, I found that a common thing to do was to go allllll the way to ‘4-1’ instead and grind there, then come back after you’ve done some grinding. And I was supposed to know this how?

It’s easy for someone to just say ‘git gud’ but when I feel like it’s the blatantly wrong path for me to be taking, it’d be nice to know that it was my fault for taking that path and not the game implicitly telling me to go down that path because it seems to clearly be the next in order. I blame myself for going down into that skeleton pit area at the beginning of Dark Souls 1, and I properly learned from it. I blame Demon’s Souls for designating that this is clearly the continuation of a place I was previously supposed to go, and then punishing me for going there because I apparently wasn’t supposed to go there for some arbitrary reason. I blame Demon’s Souls for communicating to me that, in nearly every other area I tried, I was clearly not ready there either. The only way I could continue is to grind at 4-1 (again, how was I to know to go three areas past my starting area?) and the only way I even knew how to do that properly was because I discovered later on that the enemies there were weak against blunt weapons.

Jolly good times.

And yet, I can’t hate this game still. I haven’t beaten it, I don’t even think I’m halfway through, but I’ve already sunk a solid 30 or 40 hours into it and I still enjoy the gameplay a hell of a lot, janky as it may be. The boss designs I’ve come across are really interesting, and the gimmicks are too. I’m still having fun, what with the game standing on me with a sharpened high heeled boot firmly on my sternum, constantly mocking me and telling me how I’m not as good as I think I am, teasing me with the thought of getting closer to beating the area when truth be told I’m nowhere near getting past it.

Here’s to another hundred hours of misery and torture. Well, what can I say? I always have been submissive.


Stardew Valley for PC

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Stardew Valley, developed by one Eric Barone, is, at its very basest form, a stylized, cartoonized top-down farming simulator. You get up, plant and/or collect crops, forage, cut down and/or plant trees, fish, mine, and send those goods into a box in exchange for money at the end of the day, all for it to repeat again the next day.

And yet, there is so, so very much more to it. There are sections where you have to fight through the mines in a very much Link To The Past battle system. There are relations with the characters you can discover through random events. There are celebrations and holidays where the small town gets together and has a party. Each character is clearly distinct in their own way (except for the effeminate long-orange-haired guy, who I keep mistaking for the two long-orange-haired girls). You get to level up in the game depending on the things you do the most (I’m partial to fishing, personally. You don’t even really have to do any farming if you don’t want, there are plenty of other ways to get income.) There are these mysterious tiny blob people hiding in an old house and you need to gather items for them and they give you gifts and work on the town as a whole, repairing minecarts or clearing boulders.

As time progresses, the game rewards your interests with new and better things geared towards those interests. The more you fish, the more your fishing mentor might give you tips or even a new rod. The more you mine, the more materials you’ll get to make mining easier.

I want to give a huge shout-out to the sound design. This is some Umineko levels of  audio atmosphere achieved here. I genuinely thought it was raining outside when I had the game in the background while doing other things. Each clink of a mined rock is thudding and meaty, just so satisfying! The more cartoony sound-effects like the popping of harvesting a crop is very welcome as well, and the music at the beginning of each sunny day has actually legitimately affected my mood in a slightly positive way regardless of how I felt coming into that session.

The issue is that the few times I’ve glanced online to look up basics like where to mine Iron, I’ve glanced at certain words, phrases and places and thought to myself, nearly 20 hours in mind you, “What on earth is that thing this guide is talking about? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that! How far away is this stuff?” So, there is a part of me that feels a little unqualified to feature this on this particular section, considering I feel I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s to come and there’s a ridiculous amount more to explore. But I feel it’s impacted me prominently enough that it deserves a full card spot here.

I do have a few gripes with it. I don’t really like how the hard time limit to staying out is 2am, even if I have the energy bar to keep going. It feels like it might make more sense if, say, I got a fraction of energy for everything I eat after midnight? And then maybe a fraction of that after 3 or 4, and more fractions from there? It makes sense to need sleep at some point, but the hard limit of 2am isn’t great. Hell, I usually stay up past 2am on an average day.

I don’t really much care for the only time being able to save is at the end of a day, too. I realize this is probably to get me coming back for more, but more often than not I’m having to quit out and lose my progress because I have to get up and do stuff for my actual real life day. It makes the game less accessible as a pick-up-and-play put-down-whenever ordeal, which is what I would personally much prefer.

Other than that, I quite enjoy the game so far. If there are any major developments or opinion changes the further I go in, I’ll list them next time under my Other Quick Updates.


Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy for Playstation Portable (ENDING SPOILERS ABOUND (SORT OF))

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On Christmas of 2009, at the spry age of 14, I had saved up enough money so that, if I sacrificed my Gamecube and the one game I had on it (Super Smash Bros. Melee), I could get my very own new Playstation Portable, complete with a copy of Daxter, a UMD of four episodes of Family Guy, and a copy of  Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. At the time, it was an amazing purchase. I remember getting so much use out of it – it was the one MP3 player that never, ever crapped out on me, I played and beat Crisis Core, I managed to find shady sites that would convert .mp4 files into a format the PSP could play so I could watch my Naruto (as I didn’t have my own computer at the time), and later in January, I was able to swing the real reason I wanted this system – Dissidia: Final Fantasy. This was essentially all I played for four months straight.

On April of 2010, after leaving it behind in the inside pocket of my coat to go on a field trip with the rest of the class, I returned to find my Playstation Portable was stolen, along with the copy of Dissidia: Final Fantasy inside of it.

Along with learning a lesson to never leave valuables anywhere outside of my house or my person, I have since then never owned a PSP. And I really missed that sucker, it was faithful to me until the bitter end.

Until now, where I procured a PSP Go for 50 dollars, used, in good condition, charger and all. Finally, in February of 2017, I took back my PSP, I took back my Dissidia, and I went forward to play its sequel, which is what we’ll be talking about here today. Except it’s…kind of…a prequel…and a remake…sort of…

Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy, developed by Square Enix, and Dissidia as a whole, is a fighting game. I think? It’s weird. But at its base level, two people are going head to head to duke it out in an action-y style, so in that sense it’s a fighting game. Instead of just hitting the person and doing damage like your average fighting game, however, you now have two distinct forms of attack – Bravery attacks and HP attacks. Basically, one builds the other. Bravery attacks makes a number go up on your side, and HP attacks use that number to inflict that number’s amount of damage to your opponent’s HP, after which your number resets to its default. Special moves are simply based on what direction you’re pointing towards and what button you press, reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. No complicated pretzel motions or full circles here, just point one way and hit the button! You can dodge, you can block, you can level up throughout the campaign which is…well, um.

About the campaign.

Honestly, it’s really interesting to see the protagonists and antagonists of one of my favorite game franchises all interact with each other, although this game takes a focus on a lot of the side characters of past games as well as Lightning since she didn’t get to be in the first one.

Some of the interactions are genuinely funny and charming when the voice acting isn’t being really stiff sounding, which is the case about half the time. Laguna getting nervous around one of the scantily clad final bosses of one of the games is actually pretty funny, and overall, I really enjoy Laguna’s portrayal especially. I have to admit, as well, despite not really caring for Final Fantasy XIII, I enjoyed Lightning as a character here, being a hard ass that contrasted and clashed a lot with the likes of Laguna and Vaan.

As I went through the main campaign, I have to admit, I got a little worn down on the fights. I dunno, it got a bit too repetitive for me eventually. The easy ones were stupidly easy, the hard ones were unfairly hard, and there wasn’t often a middle ground. The story itself is kind of weirdly simple – there are two deities, your goddess of harmony Cosmos and god of discord Chaos (a little on the nose there, mates?). Cosmos summons Final Fantasy protags, Chaos summons Final Fantasy antags, and they duke it out for the balance of the multiverse. Eventually beings known as manikins appear that are essentially infinite copies of all the characters, and they’re all on Chaos’ side, so really it’s a grand total of five or six people versus unlimited hordes.

Especially nearing the end, there was a lot of talk about how the situation these characters were in was getting hopeless. It felt like every single fight near the climax, at the end of it one character would reiterate in their own way that it’s hopeless, and that their hope is faltering, and that it’s hopeless, and that even if they can try to stop the manikins they’re probably going to die anyways, and that it’s hopeless, and that they’ll never see their friends again, and that it’s hopeless, and–

It got a bit repetitive. Everyone understands it’s hopeless. No need to reiterate five times over for every character.

Another thing that kind of bothered me, and this could just be a preferential thing here, but every single time a boss fight ended and I cleared an area, it was like the boss just retorted “You didn’t win!” and disappeared totally unscathed. Son, I just constantly and consistently owned you all the way from Spira and back for the third time this campaign, and then the cutscene just comes in like “Ahhh, nah they’re fine even though you’ve beaten them to a pulp multiple times, that wasn’t real.”

What I’m trying to say is that my battles feel like they have zero agency. The opponent should at least be winded or panting or scuffed or SOMETHING after multiple battles of having their arse kicked.

Then again, maybe that’s just another way that they try to drive the point home that it’s hopeless.

Finally, at the end of the campaign, as it turns out, all of our warriors fall. A bit of text scrolls saying the cycle begins anew due to some deus ex “dragon” I’ve never heard of until now, and I’m left here wondering what I even did all of that for. What an oddly existential ending.

…oh? There’s a new section called The Final Battle? And it’s just one stage with the Warrior of Light from the first Final Fantasy game? Oh…that wasn’t very long, and didn’t seem like much of a final battle at all. Well that was really anticli-

And then, bam, it happened. Ten new routes suddenly appeared, all with each of the main protagonists of each Final Fantasy game.

Oh. Whoa. Uh.

And then I put the game down to start writing this update.

I have to admit, not knowing this going in, it’s a slightly similar feeling to when you beat all the main gyms in Pokemon Silver, and then you come away all satisfied and done when bam, guess what, you get to go back to your old places in the last game and challenge the gym leaders there after years have passed in the game! Not quite as potent or amazing as that, because upon research I realized that this game was indeed a prequel to the original Dissidia, as well as a remake of it proper.

So, what I just played? All of that was prequel stuff. And now the remade full Dissidia experience is unlocked for me. It’d be more like if you played Pokemon Silver, beat it, and then just got the privilege to just play Pokemon Red or Blue again but including full color, Dark and Steel types now.

I’m left a little perplexed about this game. I feel like it’s a solid fighting game, if a little janky at times. The story is…well, I could go on dissecting what I’ve seen of the story for a while now. The interactions are pretty neat as far as myself, being a Final Fantasy fan goes, but I wonder if it would have any water outside of such a fanbase? In the end, I think I’m satisfied?

Whatever, I got my games back. I feel vindicated now for that incident seven years ago.

…christ, 2010 was seven years ago.


Other Quick Updates

Dark Souls for PC

Yeah, I’ve been playing Dark Souls again. It’s like a drug, swear to god. I’ve been using a Dragon Greatsword/Havel’s Greatshield build lately, super fun to just stomp bosses with it and not even give a damn.

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action for PC

Expect a full card placement on March’s update for this game. I want to wait until I beat it to give it a full spot. So far, I’m absolutely adoring this game. Also, I see you there playing off of Metal Gear Solid’s subtitle ‘Tactical Espionage Action’. Don’t think I didn’t notice, you silly game you. I will say though, as cool as the name is, it kind of is a little false advertising, as there’s not much ‘action’ involved at all.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix for PS3

My current girlfriend mentioned that one of the only Kingdom Hearts games she hadn’t played was Birth By Sleep, and I basically jammed my game box for 2.5 directly into her cleavage like “OI, I GOTS THAT, I’M DOWN WITH THAT, WANNA PLAY MATE?” It’s been pretty fun so far I’d say, although goddamn the voice actors for Terra and Aqua are flat as hell. I feel like it’s a really big disservice to the characters themselves, especially Aqua, who as a character on paper is amazing and probably one of my favorites in all of Kingdom Hearts, but the delivery of two utterly inexperienced voice actors just kind of makes them fall flat. Regardless, good times are being had.

Super Meat Boy for PC

The last time I played Super Meat Boy was for the one and only time I ever did a full Let’s Play a few years ago, and I just did the base main story, no Dark World or other stuff like that. I found myself going back to it after inviting a friend to play it, so that I could collect some more of the bandages and unlock more of the characters. Unlocked a headcrab from Half Life the other day, made me chuckle.

Overwatch for PC

Just assume from now on that Overwatch will have been played each month by default. Currently I’m enjoying D.Va as a safe pick, practicing Mcree and a little bit of Zenyatta, and it’s always fun to get wasted and go Junkrat for my patented Drunkrat runs. Apparently I do well as Drunkrat I’ve been told?

Borderlands for PC

I usually wouldn’t have any reason to go back to this one, but three other friends have formed a team and we now play as a full four-person group. It’s pretty fun that way, if for no other reason than the interactions. Picked Berserker this time around, even though that’s really not my modus operandi, and I don’t regret a second of it. Wild cackling and laughter as everything is crushed under my fist has produced some of the highest amount of slightly uncomfortable laughs in the voice chat I’ve partaken in.


Christ, I think this is the longest entry I’ve ever made. Nearly 4200 words? I’ve gotta remember how to be more concise. But yeah, the reigning theme for this month seems to be ‘time sinks’. 

Emerald Monthly Update – January 2017

Welcome to the start of a brand new year! How’ve you been? Me? Oh, between walking feeling like I’m wading through oatmeal and having about the same amount of energy as a tranquilized sloth, I’ve been just dandy. 

Yeah, not a promising start of the new year. Physically, anyways. A lot of it I spent in bed, and most of this month’s list will reflect that. I went out on a limb and got a lot of mobile games, and the one real game I played took a grand total of about four hours to beat going slow.


Gunpoint for PC

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Let’s get the real game out of the way right quick, stupid real games stinking up our Android master race. What’s Gunpoint by Suspicious Developments got? Retro 2D graphics? Stealth? Building hacking puzzles? Platforming with Tigger-channeling jeans? All wrapped up in a somewhat self-aware film noir detective story? Pfff, whatever, it’s not on phone so it’s automatically trash.

Real talk though, this game’s actually really good.

In Gunpoint, you play as detective Richard Conway, a name I can’t believe I remembered on the first go of writing this, as you try on your spectacular new Tigger-pants and proceed to bounce clear out of your window , hit the building next door and crash into a ceiling window below. Unfortunately, you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time and see something you weren’t supposed to see, and now look what you’ve done, tangling yourself into this web of conspiracy, mystery, backstabbing and intrigue.

Maybe I’m dumb, but I lost the story around the fifth or sixth mission. I really did feel like it started to get too convoluted, and following the money got too hard, too fast, so I just decided to not really care about a lot of the story and stick to the gameplay which I loved. Where the game shines is in its stealth, Tigger-bouncing and hacking. Not only do you have Tigger-pants, you also inexplicably have Spider-man wall crawling abilities, and I’ve gotten frankly silly amounts of giddy satisfaction from quickly leaping from one upper corner of a wall to another with precision timing so the guard coming in wouldn’t notice me directly above him. Maxing out your pants  (a phrase I never thought I’d type) grants you the ability to damn near bound over entire buildings which…man, that’s just fun.

The hacking is pretty neat too. A few missions in the game they require you to get your hacking device from the shop, and with a simple flick of the scroll wheel you can enter an entirely new mode of sight, rewiring power conduits and switches from a distance. There’s a lot of neat tricks to do, such as wiring a security camera to open doors upon seeing you instead of setting off an alarm. It made me think but didn’t make me feel stupid (until the last level, that is) so most of the hacking puzzles felt really satisfying to me when I managed to figure them out.

My two criticisms of the game are as follows: one, I felt the plot to be a little too convoluted to follow all the way through, and eventually I forgot what role or purpose I served, as well as most other characters in the game (that could be chalked up to my poor memory, admittedly), and two, I never really understood why the game made me buy essential items instead of just giving them to me flat out if they were that essential. Admittedly small annoyances for an otherwise great game.

One last thing, despite the spring-loaded pants and high-tech remote hacking, they really do nail the film noir aesthetic, particularly in the music department.  The more I played, the more I found myself wanting to don a tan trenchcoat and light up a cigar of my own as I kept going.

I don’t even have any desire to smoke.


Little Alchemy for Android

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Alright, enough of that baby stuff, it’s time for some REAL games. And boy, am I striking the hottest of irons today. Little Alchemy, made by Recloak back in 2010, is a…game? I’m not entirely sure it’s a game, truth be told, it’s more like an electronic toy.

Let me try to describe the game. You start out with your main four elements: Wind, Earth, Fire and Water. You can combine them to make new things, for example, Earth and Air makes Dust, Fire and Water makes Steam, and so on. You can then combine these things to make new things – Earth and Fire makes Lava, Earth and Lava then makes a Volcano.

It’s less a game and more a timekiller, really. Speaking of which, time is one of the things you can eventually make and work with. There are a total of 560 combinations, including your first four elements.

That’s…that’s it. That’s the game.

I’m at a bit of a loss for what to say. The gameplay is dragging one element to another and seeing if it works, going by deduction. Honestly, it’s fun for the first half an hour, but you’ll probably get bored of it after an hour or so.


Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Link for Android

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I was the founder of my high school’s Yu-Gi-Oh club.

That’s not a joke. I’m absolutely serious.

To some, this may be one of the most embarassing blights in their life history. Personally, I’m pretty okay with it. Great times were had back in the club, and in its prime it was actually one of the more popular clubs around. I met most of the friends I made through the club, and they’re still pretty good to me to this very day. Lately, I’ve craved the back and forth of the duel once again, but few have been able to sate my craving.

The thing is, I don’t really like dueling apps and games that grant me all the cards at once, like YGOpro. Having access to all the cards at once kind of makes me feel like I’ve enabled cheats. I prefer working with a limited pool, and being able to open packs. Something about that feeling is really nice.

I must admit, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Link does deliver pretty well in that department. It simulates the booster pack sort of thing that I find very nice in this sort of card game. It’s a sort of challenge I enjoy, making something out of nothing. It felt nice and organic, sort of combining the whole Yu-Gi-Oh booster pack thing with the feeling of opening a loot box in Overwatch.

I do have complaints, however. For one, it’s really babies’ first Yu-Gi-Oh. They halve the total life points from 8000 to 4000, and you can only have three Monster and Spell/Traps as opposed to the five in the real game. For two, it’s really hard to get orbs to get new packs, which may be intentional, but I also suspect that it’s to do with that good ol’ friend MICROTRANSACTIONNNNNNNNNS! Bleh, it skeeves me out.

Why does it skeeve me out on a phone, when in reality, booster packs are nothing but microtransactions?

It scratched that itch for card games just fine, but I prefer the real thing. Something about it seems more honest. It could totally be irrational, admittedly.


Orbit for Android

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Okay, I’ll be honest, I don’t even like mobile games. I was just desperate for something to play while I was bedridden and had no energy for real games.

Here’s the game for Orbit by HIGHKEY games. You shoot balls into black holes and make them orbit around the black holes for about a second before the required fufillment is fufilled and bam, next level. Make sure your balls don’t collide or else you’ll have to start all over.

That’s it, that’s the game. It’s fun for about an hour but after that hour you’ll probably never want to pick it up again.


Tunnel Rush for Android

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Oh my god screw these mobile games. Okay, last one, right?

Tunnel Rush, by developers Deer Cat. See, you’re in a tunnel, right? And then you’re dodging things while cool music plays. And then…then, right, guess what? You go out of the tunnel and on top of the tunnel! And you’re dodging things again! Move left or right to dodge sonny boy, it goes faster and faster over time.

That’s it. That’s the effing game. The music is great but man I dunno, it’s samey and after an hour you’ll probably get bored of it. Sound familiar? 


That’s it, that’s the list. It’s got terrible repetitive gimmicks and after an hour you’ll probably tire of reading it. Here’s to another year, hopefully I can get to some actual games next time.

Emerald Monthly Update Year-End Finale! Top Ten Games I Played In 2016! – December 2016

What a year. So many ups. So many, many more downs. Honestly this year was pretty traumatizing for me. But you know what, I played a lot of awesome games this year over the course of doing these monthly updates! So, as a celebration, I’ve decided to round off 2016 with a list of the top ten games I featured in my monthly updates~!

The main two rules I’m going by for this list is as follows:

  1. The games have to have been featured in my Emerald Monthly Updates over the course of this year. The ‘Other Quick Updates’ section doesn’t count.
  2. The games have to have been games I hadn’t played before 2016. So, yeah, no Castlevania: Symphony of the Night here, that’d be too easy.

Also, something to keep in mind, the games don’t necessarily have to have released in the year of 2016, all that’s required is that I just have to have played it in 2016. So, without further ado, my very first top ten list.

TOP TEN GAMES I PLAYED IN 2016!


Number 10: Fallout 4

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I have this weird…thing that happens to me nowadays. Whenever I sit down to try and play Fallout 3 or New Vegas, I find that I can’t go back to them so easily anymore now that Fallout 4 has been released. As much as Fallout 4 has its flaws, and as much as I had far more fun with New Vegas than I ever did 4, I feel it’s rendered most of the previous Fallout games a bit redundant. Maybe I’m the only one that feels such, but dammit Fallout 4 was a solid game and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Number 9: Recettear – An Item Shop’s Tale

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Recettear is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. One third shop management simulator, one third Link to the Past-style dungeon crawler, and one third visual novel, but all the elements tend to feed into each other and intertwine into this cute tale of constantly being frustrated with that one cheapo pigtailed girl that sometimes won’t even take a 30 percent discount and be happy with it you’re just a shitty kid you don’t know anything about fantasy economics dammit get outta here and go get your mom.


Number 8: Dark Souls II

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As much as fans love to dump on Dark Souls II, and as much as I understand that dumpage when put in comparison to the other Souls games, I still have to give it up for Dark Souls II for sapping hundreds of hours from me and still providing me with an awesome, ball bustingly fun experience. The higher framerate stability and convenience features (especially in the menu) are dearly welcome, and by god the way this game wows you when you come into a new area, and for that moment when you walk into the sunlight of Majula out of the dank caverns you traversed, or feast your eyes on the Aerie for the first time, or even the first melancholic steps towards Drangleic Castle…this game probably had the most amount of breathtaking moments I played in all of 2016.


Number 7: Nights Into Dreams

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This game…gets me. This game understands how I flow. It’s like how I would imagine controlling an ebbing rollercoaster to feel if you could choose to move anywhere you wished in a moment’s notice. It’s swimming through air, and I love swimming. I don’t need much more than this, the simple act of picking up the controller and playing half an hour of this game immediately sends me into a good mood. The bosses aren’t good for the most part, unfortunately, otherwise this would be higher on the list, but with that exception, it’s the type of game that honestly makes me feel like a kid again, a game from a simpler time that feels familiar despite not having played it before this year. Nights Into Dreams gives me the same sort of feeling that Yoshi’s Island gives me, just this unending, inexplicable happiness from start to finish.


Number 6: Fire Emblem: Awakening

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Ah, my very first Fire Emblem game. I absolutely ate this up when I got my hands on it, and after beating it for the first time, I was determined to fill out My Unit’s support logs with multiple playthroughs. Not since Pokemon Y have I dumped such egregious amounts of time into my handheld, and history is repeating itself as I type this in Conquest as well. I love all the characters, I love how quick it can be, I love the strategics (although I will admit, Awakening was very easy after figuring out what was going on), and I love the unlimited ships I can make with my units, most all of which are just the most adorable things.

For the record, my Awakening waifu is Cordelia, if for no other reason than the interactions she had with Donnel.


Number 5: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix

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Playing Birth By Sleep was like playing the spawn of a Kingdom Hearts game and a Dark Souls game. I love this game mostly for its challenging gameplay, with exchanges and timing being key. While the story itself was fine, I couldn’t really get over the dry voice acting (particularly with Aqua and Terra, good lord, it’s like the voice director wanted no convincing emotions there) which is particularly bad because I could tell that, Aqua especially, if voiced properly, would have absolutely bought me in. But yeah, the gameplay is awesome.


Number 4: Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt

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If you’ve been in Idaho for the past half a year now, you may have seen a man in a green scarf wielding a megaphone and shouting “EVERYONE GO PLAY PRINCESS REMEDY! IT’S FREE AND ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS LONG! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO NOT PLAY THIS GAME!!!”

That was me.

Hyperbolic fictional anecdotes aside, even if Princess Remedy costed 5 dollars and was 4 hours long, I still would have probably loved this game. It reminds me a lot of Undertale in its quirky lovable dialogue, humor, and throwback-ness, and it’s simple enough that I’m convinced even my grandmother could totally play this and have a good time. You’re a princess that goes around healing people and beating away whatever ails them. Simple! And yet it’s so charming. It’s literally for free on Steam, you could probably run it on a Windows 98, and at maximum one normal run through will take the length of the theatrical version of a Lord of the Rings film.

Not even the extended editions!

Please, everyone give this a chance and play it if you have a couple of hours to spare.


Number 3: Nuclear Throne

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Nuclear Throne is my favorite roguelike of all time.

And maybe that’s not saying a lot coming from me, because I don’t tend to enjoy roguelikes particularly. I get really butthurt when I lose everything after investing so much time and effort on a run in a roguelike, and I’ll never want to play that game again because I’m a salty fish.

I’ve never felt that way truly in Nuclear Throne. It’s too fast. It doesn’t let me feel salty because as soon as I die, I have about three seconds where I go “Aaaaughghg dammit!”, and then I hit the retry button – one second later, I’m already back in, running and gunning in some of the most fun, adrenaline-fueled gameplay I’ve ever experienced in a roguelike, or in any game in general. It also doesn’t require nearly the amount of investment that a full run of, say, FTL: Faster Than Light takes, or Crypt of the NecroDancer takes, or Darkest Dungeon takes – I can pop in Nuclear Throne at any time I have a spare 5~20 minutes and be satisfied with my fix. Those others? An hour at least, on a good run. A few if you’re unlucky.

It’s just fun. It’s fast. It’s like Hotline Miami, except a roguelike, and everyone can take a couple more hits. And to boot, everyone I’ve introduced it to loves it. So, yeah, highly highly HIGHLY recommend.


Number 2: INSIDE

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Ah yes, the obvious one. You can consider this my number one pick in the nonexistent Top 10 Games of 2016 I have because I’m too poor to afford all the latest games and systems, so I can’t really justify a real Top 10 of 2016 list since I haven’t played games like Doom or Dishonored 2 or a lot of others.

But this game…hooo boy, this game.

What do I like about INSIDE? I like how it doesn’t spell everything out (or anything out) about its story. I like how it’s speculative and very intentionally leaves interpretation open-ended. I loved the ending sequence, where my jaw had dropped despite people hyping it up beforehand.

I like its dreary atmosphere, actually, the atmosphere reminds me a lot of Silent Hill 2, this sort of feeling of multiple steamy moist towels piled onto me over time as I lay motionless, an almost suffocatingly dark feeling that becomes more and more mysterious as the game goes on.

I like how its puzzles made me think, but didn’t bust my mind so hard that it ruined the pacing and flow. I like how I can show this game to my friends and watch them experience the same things I experienced, and the catharsis that comes with it. INSIDE truly is a relationship-building experience, and that’s not not a line I ever expected myself to say. I like how simple it is controls-wise, to the point where, again, I feel confident that my grandmother could play this game. You could play this game with an NES controller, and I’m coming to realize I really appreciate minimalist control schemes.

I love this game.

But there’s one game I played for the first time this year that got me more, that was a bit more…personally important to me. It’s an obvious one. You probably already know what it is. Let’s let it rock.


Number 1: Undertale

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Chances are that if you’re reading my content, you’re already familiar with the absolute massive phenomenon Undertale was early this year and late last year. Chances are, you already know all there is to know, and you know why this is number one for me.

Instead of doing my usual thing where I tell you why I like this game so much…I’m going to tell you a little personal story.

I had heard inklings about Undertale last last year, but I wrote it off as what looked to be a bit of an Earthbound clone and nothing more. Except I didn’t actually think that, I was being a manipulative little shit because I thought my girlfriend at the time didn’t like anything I liked for the sole reason that I liked it. The attitude I had was petty and pathetic, but whether by coincidence or by truth, she actually got into it first before me and after I had told her I wrote it off. And she loved it, and she told me I should play it.

Of course I wanted to play it, I was hyped, I just didn’t tell her that because I was afraid she wouldn’t give it a chance if I said I wanted to. I was very, very petty back then, and I’m not proud of how I operated back then.

I streamed my gameplay through Skype while my girlfriend watched, and we had a pretty good time, but at a certain point that I won’t spoil, I got stuck, kept dying, and ragequit. It was near the end, too, but I wanted nothing to do with it between the mocking I was receiving from her, and the hard time I was having. And I realize now that it was in jest, but at the time I had a rather thin skin.

Not a week into the new year of 2016, two rather trying events occurred in my life one after the other. One of which was that my girlfriend, of two and a half years at the time, and I, split up. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to go through, and for a while I had no idea where to even go from there.

Around mid to late January, I picked Undertale back up and restarted it from the beginning, determined to complete a pacifist run. I got through the part I was stuck in, went through the game, and…one part in particular really got me. For those who don’t want to be spoiled because it’s near the end of the game, don’t click this link. For those who have played, well…click the link, and you know exactly what part I’m talking about.

I’ll try to dance around it for those who haven’t seen it and wish to experience it for themselves. But suffice it to say, at that point in my life, I felt extremely alone. I felt awful about myself, about the world around me, and I sunk into a hard depression and worthlessness. And…something about the solidarity, something about…having people that backed me up, that encouraged me, a group to come out one after the other after the other to urge me forward with such a powerful positivity…and the comeback music to back it up…that was the start of the waterworks for me, personally. It’s everything I needed, everything I so desperately wanted at that time in my life. As much as I loved the game up until now, that was the moment where I latched on. Hard. And the rest of it played out in a way I could so violently relate to, the crying continued throughout, and I latched on even harder. I felt so much for everyone involved. I felt so much for him. Because I got it. It hit so close to home for me.

That’s why this is My Favorite Game I Played In 2016. It’s not necessarily that it’s the best game, although there probably is an argument to be made there. It’s not necessarily that it’s got the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a video game in a long, long time. It’s purely because I’ve never been so emotionally attached to a video game, ever. And for that to be achieved, the game must have been doing something correctly.

It may be an obvious pick, but Undertale is my number one.


The closer I get to 2017, the more I realize how trying this year was on me personally. But I’m glad I decided to do this review thing for the full year I have. It’s been a consistent thing I’ve been able to work on, something to ground me and keep me fresh in my writings.

I think I’d be happy to do this again next year.

Well, everyone? Happy New Year, let’s see what 2017 has in store.

And for me and those around you, stay determined.