Busy! Over the last few weeks I have installed games, uninstalled games, finished games, and written about games. Most of them were excellent. Here are some words about them.
Finished and Written
What an amazing surprise this was. I knew nothing of Void Bastards' existence until a recent Beastcast, and thanks to its availability on Game Pass I was able to easily give it a shot. I'm very glad I did, because this game is just great. I was immediately struck by its phenomenal art style, and eventually hooked by its satisfying progression that made it so that dying and losing my character didn't feel totally defeating. Everyone should give this a shot.
Doesn't exactly meet the Finished qualification but I wrote about it regardless. Call of Duty 4 is probably my favorite game of all time (I really ought to just drop the "probably" from that.) That I was able to get sucked back into its multiplayer over a decade later proves that if I had to pick a forever-game, it would probably be this one. No, definitely.
Finished, but Unwritten
I haven't decided yet if I've missed my window of motivation to write about this game, but you should know that it's excellent and worth a look. It's a narrative driven stealth game set in 14th century France that has been overrun by an Inquisition and millions of rats that devour everyone. Gameplay revolves around using light and fire to create paths through rat swarms, stealth killing or evading Inquisition guards, and just generally running around an annihilated French countryside. Its characters are great, the performances are great (played with French VO), the graphics are amazing. Definitely one of my favorites this year.
My only experience with anything Crash related was a PS1 demo disc that had CTR on it. I remember liking it quite a bit, but I never got the full game. Playing this remaster (remake?) has been mostly fine, save for some frustrations. The powerslide mechanic is difficult to get a hang of, though I think I'm finally starting to get it. Some of the track design is also suspect. There's one that features a big jump onto a portion of track that you can't see, and when you land you immediately drive into a wall because it's a 90 degree turn. That doesn't feel great.
I'm a bad Switch owner. I've had the console since 2017, but for whatever reason there's a ton of games that I just haven't bothered to pick up yet. CTR inspired me to check out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and boy do I enjoy this game way more than CTR. The tracks, the powerslide mechanic, and the general look and feel of this thing just gel with me so much more. CTR still kinda looks like a PS1 game, with a strange, grungy art style and lots of dark browns and orange. It's fun, but it just can't compete with flying Inkling Girl through space aboard an ATV. This game rocks.
Oh, and listen. This game has a couple courses from F-Zero X, one of my favorite games. It's probably (there's that word again) a top 10 game of all time for me. Playing those tracks, and hearing remixed versions of the soundtrack, brought me back hard to the N64 days. But now I'm mostly just upset that we aren't getting F-Zero games anymore. The concept is flawless: here's a bunch of futuristic race cars racing along tubes and wall-less tracks floating in the air at unbelievable speeds. Occasionally you get boost power and it's awesome. Where's my F-Zero Switch game? Let's go.
Super Mario Odyssey was the first Mario game I had ever played more than a few minutes of, so it's no surprise that I am truly terrible at 2D Mario games. Despite my lack of history with the franchise--the N64 was the only Nintendo console before the Switch that I owned, and I never owned a Mario game for it--I knew I had to get this thing after Giant Bomb's brilliant coverage of the first game. Seeing the courses people create and trying to put together my own has been a serious delight. The story mode is a great inclusion, but I wish there was a bit more to it. In fact, here's a general wish list for the game.
- Building in Story Mode: Seeing the levels Nintendo has made with the in-game tools has been inspiring. It might've taken things a step further if the mode had puzzles that required you to build a solution, serving as way to introduce new players such as myself to the building tools. Something like, Get Mario from Point A to Point B using Tools X, Y, and Z. That would be neat.
- Courses made by friends: Why does the Switch have a friends list if it's not even guaranteed that a Mario game will use it? It's wild that I can't just view a list of courses my friends have made. It has to be in here somewhere. Right?
- Create multiple levels that string together: It feels like the next iteration of Super Mario Maker has to be the one to pull this off. I'd love to see what people can create when they're able to put multiple courses in one package.
I published my first course a couple days ago, code 9RJ-4P2-DMG. It's an objective course. I really like making those and dealing with the challenge of designing individual, self-contained puzzles that flow together and that are fun enough that if someone dies at the very end, they aren't frustrated with having to redo them to complete the objective. Also, it's a narrative journey through the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. Mhmm.
I don't like Outer Wilds, but you should absolutely play it. It has so much going for it: an incredible soundtrack, a wonderful sense of discovery, terrific diversity of environments, and inspired, curious puzzles. I wish I had the patience to wrestle with the ship controls, but truthfully I wasn't sure I was even going to finish the game to begin with. It's a little too obscure for me, and I wasn't sold on following a walkthrough to get through it. There's already been a lot of people declaring this to be an all-time favorite game of theirs, and I'm sure a lot more will be saying the same thing over the years to come.