Not Finishing: Forza, Hitman, and TMNT

I’m still taking advantage of Game Pass here and there, playing bits and bobs of various titles when the mood strikes.

No, seriously, I’ve started and stopped a whole bunch of different games. And it feels …. great?

It’s been happening a lot to me over the last year or so. I’ve gotten so much better at putting down a game once I’m no longer enjoying it, or when I feel like I’ve seen enough.

It’s not necessarily something I do consciously. Sometimes I stop playing a game for a week or so, and rather than add it to the mental checklist of “games you need to go back to and finish,” I eventually realize that I’m just done with it, and proceed to uninstall. This is very much a good thing – that mental checklist used to cause me more stress than I care to admit, and that’s just not something I need anymore. →  Read the rest

Tux and Fanny – A Review

Listen. You think you’re cool enough to be into Tux and Fanny? You’re probably not. Me neither.

But I will tell you all about it. This shit is wacky af. It starts with a soft spot for me, these two pixelated bamas want to kick around a soccer ball in their front yard.

Where do they think they are? PG County? I love it.

I easily (and purposely) get distracted by a million other side quests. Just to give you a spoiler alert, I loved this game. It made little sense, but rarely disappointed.

To set the scene, you are a weird Gumbo-like ?alien? living in a house with your bestie/alien brethren.

Sweet side note of this game, you can alternate between playing Tux OR Fanny, I know! Mind blown!, or a random punkass cat or meddlesome flea. →  Read the rest

Nier Automata is No Nier Gestalt

Folks, I tried to play Nier: Automata. I really did. But I don’t think I have it in me to finish it.

As someone who counts the original Nier as one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time, I’m as disappointed as anyone that the sequel to that experience fell short, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Here now are some of the problems I had with the game:

The Intro is BS

The introduction to the game can take up to 40 minutes to get through. At no point during those 40 minutes are you allowed to save the game. If you die, you start all over again.

The saving grace is that you can adjust the difficulty at any time, so there’s nothing stopping you from dropping to easy mode just to breeze through it all (easy mode lets you “auto battle,” where the game will automatically dodge and pick the best attacks for you). →  Read the rest

Some Game Reviews

Around a year ago, I joined a fortnight-ly game club after picking up the Palestinian Aid Bundle.  The club leader would post a (semi-curated) random game, and everyone would play through it.

The large bundles are perfect for buying entirely more games (and sprites, and rulebooks, and engines) than you need, while feeling like you’re helping to make the world a less terrible place.  It’s the perfect way to build up a crushing, overwhelming backlog and get some unusual games without a large investment.

Here’s a sampling of the games I played and enjoyed from the bundle:

Closed Hands 

This is an interesting visual novel about a terrorist attack in the UK and political/social reactions to it, told from five different perspectives.  The timeline varies by perspective, and each perspective is (typically) linear in one direction or the other, so you have a fair amount of freedom about whether you want to go forward or backwards in time.  →  Read the rest

Thoughts on Wasteland 3 from Quarantine

As I sit here in the few hours of peace I will have today, and maybe this week, I must consider how best to populate this site with content. Some goober in my kids’ day care was diagnosed with COVID last week, and in what I would consider an abundance of caution (and I am generally for more money spent, more masking, more testing, more boosters, more lockdowns, and more bleach drinking) the school has closed for the week. So we have 10 days without day care despite the kids not being sick (after copious testing, at least). Anyway, life sucks at the moment but here are some thoughts on Wasteland 3.


I really like this genre. Why do I play other games between finishing every good PC RPG? I don’t know, good question. →  Read the rest

Triangle Strategy is Better than Fire Emblem: Three Houses

For no apparent reason, I have pitted (often unrelated) things against each other since I was a child. Well, probably for deeply disturbing psychological reasons. Sega had to be universally better than Nintendo, chocolate better than vanilla, coffee better than tea, and orange juice with pulp truer to nature than that pulp-free orange water drink. No Country for Old Men is a better movie than There Will Be Blood, and Shenmue is just superior to Yakuza. In a weird variant of this psychosis, I once told a friend that Meshuggah should be a melodic metal band like the other bands from Sweden and not whatever rhythm based, incorrect metal they were. Lines must be drawn and sides must be taken, damn it.

It is in this spirit I bring you a comparison between Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Triangle Strategy. →  Read the rest

Review – Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a “companion game” to the core game Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which is still in development. Hundred Heroes is a Kickstarter headlined by Yoshitaka Murayama (story) and Junko Kawano (art), veterans of the original Suikoden. The Kickstarter is clearly designed to invoke the feel of the Suikoden series. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising serves as a kind of teaser for the game world as well as a standalone, relatively casual, action RPG. As a teaser for a future game, it works reasonably well. Isolated from that context, I’m not sure it’s a great action RPG, although I did enjoy it.

As Jay observed in a comment on a prior post, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is similar to Ys III (not just because many of the environments line up – that’s just a happy coincidence). →  Read the rest

Review of Samus Returns for the 3DS

Samus Returns is a game that wants to be something, but can’t. After all, it is a remake of an existing game, Metroid 2: Return of Samus. On top of that, not only is the original game a beloved classic, but it’s also very old, and runs on a piece of hardware that was outdated even when it was brand new.

All of these factors work to dictate what a game like Samus Returns can and cannot do. By the rules of Modern Videogame Design, the following elements of 1991’s Return of Samus are unacceptable:

  • Its stark, mostly-black backgrounds.
  • It’s creepy chiptune music, despite the fact that it helps to create a certain mood that is absolutely perfect for the game’s setting.
  • The fact that the planet is mysteriously drained of deadly acid as you kill Metroids.
 →  Read the rest

Review – Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

So I just beat Ys IX. It was… better than I was expecting, but not as good as it could be. It takes nearly every feature and system from Ys VIII – features and systems, mind you, that were new and specifically built to work in that game’s very particular setting – and brings them whole hog into this new game, with a very different setting. Suffice to say that it doesn’t really work.

For example, in Ys VIII it made sense to earn rewards for mapping out the island, since it was literally uncharted. But it seems insane to be rewarded for mapping out a centuries old city (under the guise of “finding the places that tourists would be most interested in”).

Similarly, it made sense to have a crafting system on an island with no shops, and a bartering system that allows you to refine low grade crafting materials by essentially trading for them. →  Read the rest

Deep Thoughts on the Hotline Miami Series

I played both Hotline Miami games sometime within the last year and a half (my memory’s a bit fuzzy on the specific date, and honestly, it doesn’t matter).

Before I begin, I want to make one thing clear. These games are even more violent and depraved than I ever imagined, even after reading lots of reviews and seeing lots of screenshots. Much like with the show Squid Game, there’s a general sense among Extremely Online People that you simply must partake in these experiences that go out of their way to traumatize their audience.

I think that’s a load of crap. If you look at a game like this and think “that’s not for me,” I think it is absolutely valid, understandable, acceptable, and in no way worthy of judgment. Indeed, I wouldn’t be mad if you, dear reader, feel that reading this post isn’t your cup of tea. →  Read the rest

Playing a Classic Game for the First Time: Heroes of Might & Magic 3 in 2022

I had a classic game on my shelf for literal years, unplayed. It’s not the only one – although it’s one of the more prominent ones. It’s simultaneously a symbol of the dying physical game release and the lost excess free time of my youth. It’s the Heroes of Might & Magic III collection – the base game, plus two expansions, on one DVD. I bought it at a used book store for $10.

Might & Magic started as a first-person RPG series. King’s Bounty was a spin-off of that series, where you play a hero leading an army on a quest for magical artifacts. Heroes of Might & Magic then took the strategic combat of King’s Bounty and made it into a turn-based strategy game – you take command of a nation, with heroes serving as your generals. →  Read the rest

Shin Megami Tensei V, from the perspective of an SMT “fan”

I’ll start all this off with a long caveat. Shin Megami Tensei 4 on the 3DS was the first real SMT game I finished. But since Persona 1 came out on PS1, I’ve played pretty much every SMT spinoff. The core series has such an iconic identity among RPG fans – “The Dark Souls of JRPGs,” (because Souls and SMT are both accessible, you just have to put up with a lot of deaths).

Except that last part is also ironic, because the first two SMTs are (legally) inaccessible in English unless you installed them on an early Apple device years ago before they got pulled. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m the kind of person a true SMT fan hates, while anyone who’s not a true SMT fan thinks is an SMT fan. →  Read the rest

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.

You could make a gorgeous 2d game on the Playstation (or Saturn) hardware with huge levels and interesting mechanics, and there would be a significant contingent of players who would simply refuse to play it. →  Read the rest

Night in the Woods – Gregg Rulz OK

Let’s do crimes!

Night in the Woods is the first video game I’ve played since being given a Nintendo Switch.  Before that my experience was based in the Tomb Raider, Civilization, Prince-of-Persia-on-floppy-disk computer game days.  Little did I know this gift was really an elaborate trap by my brother-in-law to have me write for this blog he was relaunching. Bribe accepted, so here we are.

I enjoyed this game so much. And was shocked when I finished it in less than 48 hours, and yes, I did go to work both of those days. The storytelling felt relatable and fresh, decidedly millennial but in a good way. The game begins with your character Mae (a moody college cat) arriving back home to Possum Springs, where vibes are off.  Your parents forgot which day you were arriving so you must traverse some spooky woods to get home.  →  Read the rest

SaGa Collection: A Review of the Games that Matter

In an era where I find online, free-to-play mobile games gross and yet play them anyway, an RPG experience that is small, complete, and playable in short sessions is a great palate cleanser.  I finally picked up the Collection of SaGa AKA the Final Fantasy Legends remasters when they came out on mobile. As our thousands of readers might recall, I’m unreasonably nostalgic about these weird games – at one point I wrote an FAQ on one of them.

COLLECTION of SaGa FINAL FANTASY LEGEND for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game  Details

The Collection itself is about what you would expect. I got the Android version, and the real lure for me was the ability to play in portrait orientation and rearrange the buttons for comfort. The price tag might seem a little high for what it offers – but the fast-forward feature is a godsend (particularly for the second game, and I imagine I will appreciate it on the third also). →  Read the rest

Review — Suikoden Tactics

Disclaimer: Not really a “glorious revival” of videolamer, but I’ve written this stuff on my own site and by gum this site deserves some activity.  Don’t worry, I’ll probably only update once or twice before the site goes back into hibernation.

Recently, I finally beat Suikoden Tactics, the Strategy RPG semi-sequel to Suikoden IV.  As a long-time fan of the series, I had intended to beat the game for some time, held off by two things.  First, Suikoden IV wasn’t very good and the story never resonated with me.  Second, Suikoden Tactics has the much-maligned feature of permanent death for non-story characters.  When combined with the grid elemental system and a massive set of things enemies can do, it’s extremely difficult at times to predict whether a character will die in any given situation. →  Read the rest

Review – Async Corp.

Async Corp is the latest, and probably last release from indie developer house Powerhead Games.  There are many reasons to mourn Powerhead’s departure, the biggest of which is that Async Corp. is a marked improvement over Glow Artisan, its award winning predecessor.  While Glow was a wonderful concept, Async demonstrates some of the fundamental qualities of the all time classic puzzle games.

In Async Corp, players are given two wells filled with squares of three different colors. Players select one square on each side to swap with each other in order to form a packet.  Packets are generated whenever some number of same-colored squares are arranged in the shape of a rectangle (squares being rectangles too, of course).  The rules of the game state that a swap can only occur if it will create at least one packet, and packets themselves can be cleared off the screen by touching them (clearing packets becomes, ultimately, the point of the game). →  Read the rest

Review – Kayne and Lynch

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was, for lack of a better pun, dead on arrival in the minds of Internet savvy gamers, all thanks to the fiasco surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s scathing review for, and Eidos Interactive’s possible manipulation of the site.  That being said, if the controversy never occurred, I don’t imagine the game would have fared any better.  The signs of a troubled development process are all over the place, and the final product is a constant stream of highs and lows.

Where to start?  Visually, the background objects are gorgeous, but the foreground environments are criminally ugly.  The game often tries to hide this by placing levels in the dark, or by filling setpieces with several layers of tear gas smoke. It doesn’t always work, and when I got the chance to stare at some of the more atrocious urban environments, I wondered if I was looking at an Xbox 1 game. →  Read the rest

Review – The Last Remnant

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about The Last Remnant. On the one hand, its Akitoshi Kawazu pedigree shines through, with an incredibly nuanced battle system that never fully makes up for its terrible plot. On the other hand, that battle system is really very good and worth playing the game for on its own, it’s just that the plot was made even worse – seemingly deliberately – to balance things out.

Kawazu has a long history of working on the SaGa games, and it is entirely reasonable to call TLR a stealth entry in the series, since it has many of the hallmarks. Aside from standard battle system/plot dichotomy, there’s a wonderfully imaginative world that very little is actually done with, entertaining side characters that never really break into the third dimension, incredibly good music that has only bits and pieces of substance to go with, and enough sidequests to deliberately avoid the main story for hour on end. →  Read the rest

Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: etc, etc, etc

In a sentence, imagine Street Fighter II with slightly nicer graphics and hyper combos.

In more than a sentence, why is it that Capcom’s fighting games are allowed to be so lazy and yet get relatively good reviews? Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs Capcom 3 and the 1.1 versions of both of those. Shallow and lazy. Particularly the versus series. Great potential for some kind of interesting story mode reduced to a handful of cool cutscenes.

So. What do you get in Tats vs Caps? Not a lot. Punch people in the head on seven stages in Arcade Mode. Punch people in the ahead against the clock in survival mode and punch as many people in the head before your life runs out in Survival Mode. Even for a Capcom game there is a paucity of unlockables. →  Read the rest