Some Favorite, Disappointing, and Interesting Games from 2017-2021

Resident Evil VII

There is so much to love about this game. I love that it is an unashamed homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and to a lesser extent The Blair Witch Project and other “found footage” films. I love the RE Engine, which looks gorgeous while running well on all modernish hardware.

I love how it feels both new and old at once. The first person perspective and overall tone are different, yet it repurposes classic Resident Evil gimmicks (ie. the villain who stalks you throughout the game), and it is still plenty goofy when it needs to be.

RE VII was a sharp way to revive the series, pushing it in a slightly different direction that doesn’t abandon the series’ roots.… Final Fantasy Mystic Post

Timely Thoughts on Mega Man 8

This is one of two mainline Mega Man games that got away from me (the other being MM10). This is the first time I’ve ever played Mega Man 8 in any capacity. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not all that good.

This game is very much a product of its time. The 32-bit console era was a period of great transition, as the industry not-so-gradually pushed into 3d gaming. When it came to old, existing franchises from the 2d era, this led to a bit of a crisis. As in animation, gaming had to deal with the fact that a lot of its audience quickly came to the conclusion that 3d graphics were better than 2d as a matter of course.… Silent Post 2

Final Thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII

In Part 3 of this 3 Part series about Final Fantasy VIII (that I never intended to be a 3 Part series about Final Fantasy VIII – Part 1 here and Part 2 here), I want to go into a bit more detail about my personal history with this game. I fully admit that this is more for me than anyone else, a sort of final bit of therapy to help me put it in the past and move on.

Final Fantasy VIII is a game I first played at launch back in 1999. I didn’t get very far.

I tried playing it again a few years later. This time I was serious about beating it.… You fool. Don’t you understand? No one wishes to read on…

Gran Turismo 7 is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I don’t play Gran Turismo, but if you spend even a little time reading video game news, you’ve probably seen something about the game’s many post-launch issues. Things like the in-game economy making it difficult to purchase vehicles without ponying up real world cash, the online requirement even for single player, and the fact that in-game car prices are partially linked to and based on real world prices, at a time where all car prices are insane (meaning prices for cars that are old, rare, and fast are even worse).

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about these developments. The game is clearly trying to position itself as a Live Service (even if Sony doesn’t want to admit it), and they clearly want even the Single Player audience to pony up for some good old “Recurrent User Spending.”… Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Many More Thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII

I felt compelled to write a little bit more about Final Fantasy VIII. This is a collection of additional observations about its design, and some remarks on things I did like about it. I don’t have much of an overarching point for this piece, other than to perhaps reinforce my previous points.

How to get Magic

Let’s talk a little more about how to obtain stocks of your magic spells. As previously stated, there are four main ways to do it:

  • Drawing from enemies
  • Refining crappy magic into better magic
  • Modding Triple Triad cards (or items) into spells
  • Using Draw Points

Drawing from enemies is the most obvious way, but it’s a pain.… Sonic the Readhog

Final Fantasy VIII is a Weird Game

There are countless examples of games that were trashed at release, only to have their reputations rehabilitated years later upon being (re)discovered by retro game enthusiasts. Usually this is because the game in question was misunderstood or otherwise ahead of its time, both revelations which are only revealed with the hindsight and context provided by the future.

On the flip side, there are games that were beloved at release, only to be trashed years later as retro gamers discover that it didn’t age well, or that launch-day opinions were misinformed, or whatever the case may be.

But there’s a third option as well, one in which the initial impression of Game X was accurate, and remains accurate once it hits retro status.… Read Dead Redemption

Games As Work

One thing that’s not so much changed in the last ten years but has certainly been amplified is the popularity of games that, for lack of a better phrase, “feel like work.” Games that focus on things like:

  • Getting loot
  • Playing through the same content to get said loot
  • Being at the mercy of some random number generator
  • Aren’t really about skill, strategy, creative thinking, teamwork, etc. and but rather repetition and memorization
  • Require the player to spend lots of time (on the order of hours or days) doing these repetitive tasks in order to get a reward of questionable utility (due to the RNG)

There used to be a time where this kind of style was almost exclusively the realm of Blizzard games like World of Warcraft.… We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we play.

Are Old Games Killing New Games – Parallels Between Gaming and Music

I recently came across this piece from musician/writer/historian Ted Gioia. The last time I read something by Gioia was his 2017 essay Music Criticism has Degenerated into Lifestyle Reporting, which I found to be both entertaining and painfully accurate (and which set off an entertaining firestorm of backlash from all the poptimist critics whom the piece targeted).

But this new post is a lot less inflammatory, and is arguably much more useful. The title says it all – “Old Music is Killing New Music.” The author makes several key points about the music industry, and what I find interesting is how every single one of them can also be applied to gaming.… Monster Reader 4

Competitive Mentalities in Gaming

It’s been about ten years since I last wrote something for this site. A lot has changed in that time.

For instance, it seems to me that the entire gaming landscape has become a lot more competitive.

Gamer Unsupervised: Ideas and Lessons Your Gamer May be Learning While  Nobody's Watching | PT 1: Rage — Ukatsu

I’m not just talking about eSports. In fact, the rise of professional competitive gaming is one thing that doesn’t surprise me. It was already a thing back in 2012, albeit much smaller, and even then I had a feeling it would grow.

I’m also not talking about the popularity of traditional, non-professional competitive gaming. That’s been consistently popular for about as long as gaming has existed. I’m more interested in the other, subtle-but-not-always-subtle ways in which a competitive mindset has permeated the hobby.… Did I do that?

Soft Boiled Software

When it comes to repairing CD’s and DVD’s, there are a number of practices and household products which people swear can make a disc good as new. I tried several of the most well known methods in my youth, and found that none of them did a damn thing. Brasso, for instance, never managed to make a scratched disc run any better. Same with toothpaste. I even tried boiling a used copy of Devil May Cry. I ended up “fixing” it by buying another copy.

Ever since these failed experiments, I wondered whether any of these methods really, truly could work.  I can report that under certain circumstances, you can fix a game by boiling it.… Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.