To Play or Not to Play Diablo 2

I have played a lot of Diablo 2 but for unknown reasons, I can’t stop thinking about the rerelease. In an effort to convince myself not to get it I have outlined a list of arguments and then, in completely self-defeating fashion, counter arguments, aka reasons why I should just get the damn game.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: It’s old

Diablo 3 is a better game and makes its predecessor feel dated and less awesome.

Why that argument doesn’t hold up: I didn’t like 3

Pretending for a minute I don’t routinely enjoy older games, I can entertain this position specifically aimed at Diablo style click-heavy ARPGs. OK, I am done entertaining. I played Diablo 3 close to launch and did not have a great time. Some of my negative feelings stemmed from the digital key reader my friend needed in order to even play the game, some were based on tired old arguments about aesthetics, and the rest comes from a legitimate feeling that the game simply wasn’t up to snuff. →  Read the rest

Please Finish Your Games Before Dying

Due to one part being bad with money and one part psychosis, I have over 100 Switch games. Many are smaller (and were thankfully cheaper) indie games that are probably shorter than a dozen hours, but the catalog still adds up to a huge time investment. At the rate I play, maybe a decade’s worth of games. Perhaps I should stop playing, “browse the eShop deals section and buy random shit,” and focus on something with better game mechanics, like this Live-A-Live demo with huge sections of nothing but listening to people speak at me.

If games stopped coming out, would you have enough to last the rest of your life? There are a few factors at play – how old you currently are, how long you’ll live, your ability to get your hands on old games, and your willingness to play old stuff. →  Read the rest

“Revived” Franchises and Kickstarters

It’s no secret that I like Suikoden a lot.  Even the bad ones.  The series’ spiritual successor the Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes got yet another trailer recently.  The creators are mostly saying the right things, indicating they’re focusing on things that Suikoden did differently from most games – having a large cast, involving that cast in the story (appropriately), and a relatively realistic and political scenario.

I’m a little worried, though, because past crowdfunded games that focused too much on recapturing an existing series’ magic lost sight of being their own thing, and end up being known as inferior copies.  Mighty No. 9 is probably the most notorious, but it’s definitely not alone in this.  Been there, got the t-shirt, still wear it ironically (probably), but honestly haven’t played the game.  →  Read the rest

The Future of Games I Care About: A Brief Overview of Crowdfunding

In early 2012, Double Fine launched a Kickstarter campaign for a then unnamed point and click adventure game meant to be reminiscent of studio founder Tim Schafer’s work on LucasArts classics Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango.  Kickstarter had been used to fund video game projects before the Double Fine Adventure campaign, but they were mostly smaller projects offered by developers with less of a reputation.  

In the intervening decade the template of high profile Kickstarter campaigns from well known developers has become familiar to onlookers.  Often a team or individual who built a reputation making games in a specific genre that has trouble getting funded by publishers in the current market (point and click adventure, shmup, isometric RPG) revisits that genre by turning to Kickstarter for initial funding and potentially to prove to deeper pocketed publishers that there is sufficient enthusiasm among fans to make the concept viable.  →  Read the rest

Waiting for Arc the Lad – PlayStation RPG Memories

In the early months of 1995 my friends and I poured over every drop of PlayStation information we came across, whether it be a magazine ad with Polygon Man telling us the system was more powerful than god, Sony suggesting we were UR NOT E, or the giant cardboard cutout of whip wielding Sofia at the local Palmer Video that still managed to be half an hour away. The older consoles were looking less appealing by the day (thanks, Vectorman), especially when compared to generation-defining beauty such as the widely advertised Battle Arena Toshinden (Sofia wore leather, you see, which really pops when rendered in cardboard).

By the midpoint of the 90s my friends and I were all 13 and desired a higher caliber of digital entertainment regardless of platform – the RPG. →  Read the rest

What to Do with my Apple II

I have an old Apple II. I got it years ago at an antique store, for much less than the seller could have asked. The only problem is that it was just the Apple II, without any disk drives, and no software. That means I could do absolutely nothing with it.

Eventually, some family members got me a (single) disk drive and a copy of Apple DOS for Christmas. I eagerly plugged it all up, only to have it go up in smoke. Turns out that when the power supply gets old enough, it can’t really handle the extra power draw from the floppy drive(s). I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of blue smoke (or the smell of it) coming from inside the box.

So now I have a broken Apple II. →  Read the rest

My XCloud XPerience

As part of my recent foray in Game Pass Ultimate, I was able to test out Microsoft’s XCloud streaming tech.

To be honest, I didn’t even know it was available on PC. I don’t think MS did a great job with messaging about XCloud. Based on my (admittedly limited) perspective, I think it was originally only available on a handful of mobile devices, and then went into limited beta testing for PCs. I’m honestly not sure when it became generally available, but whatever. It’s here now, so let’s check it out.

But First, Stadia

I have some previous experience with Google’s streaming service, Stadia. I played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as part of their initial beta test, and I also played Destiny 2 for a few nights back when they had a free trial period in the height of COVID. →  Read the rest

Thoughts on GamePass Games like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and More

Microsoft must really want people to buy Game Pass subscriptions. Not only do they keep putting it on sale (sign up for 30 days for only $1, even if you already previously subbed!), but they keep allowing for all sorts of hacks that allow you to extend a Game Pass sub for less than face value.

In fact, they’re not just allowing it, but enabling it. If you buy three months of Xbox Live Gold, you can convert it into 50 days of Game Pass Ultimate. So when I found a place selling 3-month codes for Gold for only five bucks, I managed to land myself a little more than half a year’s worth of Game Pass Ultimate for less than the cost of a single month.

Sounds like a dream come true, except it’s not. →  Read the rest

The Future of (my) Video Games

Hoping for the best, planning for not the worst

I spend a lot of my time thinking about retiring in my 50s. I spend the rest of my time planning for the breakdown of society. The incompatible ideas constantly vying for my conscious attention will occasionally drown each other out and allow general concepts of family, work, and video games to briefly occupy my brain. These short moments of distraction are usually then reframed in my mind so as to view them through one of the primary thought patterns – where will I live in relation to my children after I stop working, or does a year’s worth of water for an infant equal a year’s worth of water for an adult?

Sometimes I think of my physical game collection through these lenses of retirement or environmental destruction. →  Read the rest

White Flag – Giving up on Saga Scarlet Grace and Monster Train

I recently came to the conclusion that only chumps play every game until completion. And so here is the first entry in what will likely be a long, if not entertaining, series of posts on games I gave up on. I got lucky in that both are very good games that just couldn’t hold my attention until the credits rolled.

Saga Scarlet Grace: Ambitions

Scarlet Grace is the best Saga game I have played, which is similar to being the smartest Qanon believer. The series has managed to improve in stature amongst people who care about long running JRPGs, no doubt assisted by Jeremy Parish’s constant Kawazu fawning. I am happy the games exist because having something weird and different is preferable to not having it, but the games do not really come together from what I have experienced. →  Read the rest

On the Rejection of Writing Formal Game Reviews

Being a magnanimous business owner (of videolamer Corporate Consolidated Holdings LLC), I allowed Editor in Chief Pat to take a week off for vacation with his family on the condition he return with a Panzer Dragoon Saga write-up. This means that there is no one here to make my writing less bad or to talk me out of posting short, pointless, half-formed thoughts. So enjoy this one while you can.

In this site’s first run from 2005-2011ish I reviewed some games. Being in my 20s, I didn’t put much thought into my qualifications – I had a keyboard, a poorly reasoned and loud opinion, and an internet. All the pieces were there for insightful critique, as far as I could tell. The game industry was also smaller in those days and it was possible for a single person to comprehend huge chunks of context, history, game design lineage, developer and studio formation and attrition, and so on. →  Read the rest

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. But I didn’t.

I tried again a few years after that. And again a few years after that. →  Read the rest

Who was brave enough to pioneer unique console names?

The first video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey. The follow up to that system was a series of consoles that appended a number after the word Odyssey. This was just good business sense. Why confuse customers by changing the name of your product? Atari saw the wisdom in maintaining a name and followed the 2600 with the 5200, publicly declaring it twice as good. There are other generational products beyond consoles but my mind jumps to the automobile as a template for how to treat new models. It would be bizarre to rebrand the Honda Accord next year with a new name (the Honda Discord, obviously) and then continue to do so with each significant rehaul. It would just be bad business.

Unique console names ended when giant corporations Sony and Microsoft moved into the video game space, but where did they start? →  Read the rest

Away Games: Recommendations for Places That May No Longer Exist

In the long years without videolamer updates, I passed time staring at walls, counting the seconds until death would release me from my meaningless existence, and watching TV. I also did a little bit of traveling. Whenever possible, I coerced, tricked, or bamboozled my girlfriend/fiance/wife/ex-wife into doing something at least video game adjacent on these trips. And so I present you with my research and recommendations for places to visit that were likely closed years ago due to the pernicious whims of capitalism. With pictures!

Galloping Ghost Arcade: Illinois

A family vacation to South Bend put me within (multiple hour) striking distance of this arcade I had read good things about. Knowing fellow videolamer contributor and all-round site admin Chris was from this region of Earth, I asked if he would like to meet and play some games. →  Read the rest

Nintendo Switch Successor Hardware Power Rumors

Many gamers were sad to see the recently released Switch OLED was not a hardware update that came with a spec boost. Those gamers should take solace, though, as rumors from Japan suggest the Switch follow up will be something of a beast. It will reportedly be so powerful it will run the eShop smoothly and rarely even fail to load while browsing the deals section of the store.


An anonymous source from Kyoto says, “The original Switch model had trouble loading the eShop due to an internal decision to focus resources on the second, highly complex “black” theme that came built-in on all consoles.” Sources also say shopping technology that would enable users to add games to a cart without losing their current place on the storefront is unlikely to be possible on a portable device. →  Read the rest

Triangle Strategy Demo Thoughts Likely to be Invalidated by the Full Release

Triangle Strategy employs a design technique I named “branching linearity” when I was pretending I was a game designer in the halcyon days of college. Instead of many choices with usually subtle or no effects on game flow, this design focuses on fewer but more dramatic choices that can significantly and (hopefully) irrevocably change the path the player takes.

It is true that Triangle Strategy also tries to weave subtler effects into its design, asking you to choose between the three virtues of thriftiness, relaxation, and stick-to-it-ivness, but the larger choices put you on distinct tracks; for example, early on in the game (and playable in the demo), you choose to visit country A or B. You cannot then go visit the other country – your choice is binary and it affects the plot and characters you may recruit. →  Read the rest

Early to the End of the Party – videolamer NFTs

To celebrate the return of videolamer we will be offering site relevant NFTs to our diehard readers and general fans. Images such as our logo, logo with inverted colors, old logo, and the old “lamer” character made in 2 minutes using MS Paint will be available on a first come first served basis.

Because I don’t understand NFTs, I will be emailing the relevant gif or jpg to the address you provide for the price of $1,000 per file. I ask our readers to not save any of our proprietary, definitely copyrighted images in the meantime. We have a large team of high powered lawyers standing beside our GoDaddy server listening closely to the site for right clicks.

All of us at videolamer are excited to pull up our sleeves, strike while the iron is hot, and get in on the ground floor of what will inevitably prove to be the new foundation of the video game industry, the NFT. →  Read the rest

Oh Joy, an old video game site

Step aside Web 2.0, here comes videolamer 2.lame. Or lame.0. Whichever is stupider. We have returned to offer articles, reviews, complaints, and jokes about video games to the new generation. A lot has changed since we stopped regularly updating the site nearly a dozen years ago. Back then we didn’t even call them video games, but moving interactables. Also, we could pretend we had enough time left to do something about climate change.

2011’s best looking game.

To fill new readers in, this is a site where each contributor can write mostly whatever they want, though we generally share a passion for older and Japanese games. What we lose in unity and coherence, we gain in distinct perspectives. And what perspectives! We are all straight, white men, but one of us doesn’t even live in America. →  Read the rest

We’re back… kind of

We’ve managed to bring the site back with https support, removed some older shared content (what even is gamegrep?) and cleaned other things up a bit.

If you happen to actually read this… let us know if anything seems to be broken!

Quantum Link Remembered

Hey reader(s),
None of us at videolamer (that I could get a hold of) recalls the Quantum Link service, although many of you no doubt remember its successor America On-Line with no small amount of fondness. This is a pretty darn cool article about the Quantum Link worthy of attention:

We’re not really in a state to reincarnate at the moment, but we do fondly recall the times we would write several articles a week, some of which were worth reading. We’ll keep them online as long as we can.

Keep on keeping on.