Preparing for the Upcoming Community Endurance Run... By Streaming A Whole Bunch

Hey!

If weren't already aware, the Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run is an event where a bunch of people from the GB community play games, stream them and raise money for charity! I've been a part of the previous two events (4 and 5) and with the date of GBCER6 slowly on the approach (April 14th - 17th, if I'm not mistaken) I've been looking back on my efforts for previous years and seeing where I could make some improvements.

GBCER4 was, from what I remember of it, an absolute blast. I didn't archive most of it but the moments I did still stand out as some of the most fun I've had in the past few years. It was a ton of fun but as far as raising money for charity goes I can't say for certain if I helped on that end. You can watch some of the stuff I archived as well as @thatpinguino's FFVIII speedrun and the Pathfinder game from that year in this playlist.

For GBCER5, I had plenty of time to plan things out. I had interviews lined up, prizes to give away and even played through 4 different games to completion over that weekend. I can even say with a bit of confidence that I got a few people to donate! But beyond the interviews I did, I didn't really have a great time doing it. I was mostly streaming by myself and part of what made the last event so fun for me was that I got to hang out with a bunch of duders and play some games. I don't mind streaming solo but I don't think much of what I streamed for GBCER5 is what I would consider to be watchable. I had a host of various technical problems (stream constantly dying, bad framerates, etc.) and I didn't talk very much. When I did, it always felt like I was talking towards the audience and not with them. The interviews are the only part of the event I archived (and could find on YouTube) and I've put them in this playlist if you want to watch them.

I was so down on GBCER5 that I wasn't even sure I was going to participate this year but after slowly fixing some of the technical problems I encountered last time I'm committed to putting on a good show this year. All that remains is to improve my hosting/presenting/speaking skills and I figured there's no way to do that other than just doing it!

So I've set out to stream at least once a day for the entire month of February. I had originally planned to finish Undertale once a day but I soon realized that's a bad idea that would get boring pretty fast. So instead, I've set out to challenge myself in a sense. I now aim to play, stream and finish 9 different games before the end of the month.

I'm limiting the games to those that I have either never or never finished. To keep things interesting! As of this writing I've finished two games: RONIN and Kero Blaster. I'm currently wandering around and getting lost in playing through Doom II, on Ultra-violence of course! I don't really know what I'll move onto once I finish Doom but I've got a little over 3 weeks left and 6 more games to go through. I'm sure I'll figure out something!

You can check out my twitch channel if you're interested in accompanying me for this silly little adventure and if not, you should definitely keep an eye on the forums for the official GBCER6 thread! The event will take place on April 14th - 17th (again, unless I'm mistaken) and I hope we as a community can get out there, raise some money and have an awesome time doing it!

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I Have Written (Way) Too Much About The 66 Games I Finished The Latter Half Of 2015

Hello!

In 2015 I had set a goal for myself to finish at least 100 games. I kept track of my progress using this list and by the time 2016 came around I ended with a grand total of 108 games finished!

Around July I thought it would be cool to write a little bit about the games I had been playing so far and I even wrote a post-mortem once I finished exactly 100 games but I still had a desire to write about the games I played in the back end of 2015. But between the post-mortem and writing way too many end-of-year lists (all those words are a different list!) I kinda got real tired of writing about video games.

So, over the past month I've been slowly jotting down my opinions in a notepad document and I've finally finished! I tried my hardest to say as much in as little words as possible but I guess when you're writing about 60+ games the end result is bound to be pretty lengthy!

I hope I managed to express my feelings about theses games adequately enough and I hope you enjoy reading them! I'd be happy to talk a bit more about any game if you mention it in a comment or something since I know I didn't touch on every single element of every game here. I also didn't thoroughly proofread a lot of this, so sorry if some if it seems to written a little strangely!

Oh! I didn't spoiler block anything either so there might be spoilers!

-

Pokemon Conquest

It's been a good long while since I played a Pokemon game of any sort. The last main entry game I played was Black on the DS and the last spin-off I played was probably the original Mystery Dungeon games. I don't own a 3DS and since I didn't want to start a brand new game on my copy of Black (It's got my starter from Emerald on it!) I had to turn somewhere else.

So I picked up Pokemon Conquest, which is a tactical RPG that is also a crossover with the Nobunaga's Ambition series. It's decent game but there are a few things about it that keep me from thinking this is a great game.

The first, I feel, may have just been an oversight but it remained a constant problem throughout my playthrough. Pokemon Conquest is a turn-based strategy game not unlike Disgaea. I'll admit that I haven't played many games like it, but those that I have played let you select which direction your unit faces when you end your turn to prevent your enemies from getting behind you and dealing extra damage. The "backstab" mechanic is in this game but you can barely control which direction you face, which leads to a lot of enemies taking advantage of this and just wiping the floor with you. I honestly have no idea why they would include the mechanic but not give the player a chance to use it to their advantage.

The traditional method of leveling up and evolving Pokemon has changed too. Most Pokemon evolve by getting one of their stats up past a threshold and finishing a battle with them. Pokemon are also attached to a warrior who has an affinity-type (like a Pokemon's type) which determines how strong their link is, which is measured in a percentage, with a Pokemon. You increase the link by fighting and doing meta-game stuff.

Hopefully this all makes sense so far because I'm about to explain the part of this that I think is junk.

When you recruit a warrior they come with a Pokemon; the creatures you usually play a Pokemon game to catch, train and evolve. With a few exceptions, the Pokemon's type doesn't match the warrior's affinity type. This means that the Pokemon probably be able to get it's stats high enough to evolve and it just won't be as strong as you might need it to be because their link maxes out at a lower percentage.

So in other words, it's basically useless and little deceptive too. Initially, you'll see a warrior with an Ekans and think "Oh man, let me recruit that person so I can evolve that Ekans into an Arbok!" or something like that. You'll then recruit the person and see that their affinity is with normal type Pokemon (Ekans is a poison type, just in case you forgot!) so in order to get the most out of this unit you'll have to take them out to capture one of the many awesome normal type pokemon in the game. Like Bidoof, for example.

While I'm on the topic of awesome Pokemon, there's quite a few that aren't in the game. It's a bit foolish to expect every pokemon to make it in the game, there were about 600+ when this game came out and there's only 199 in the game. Of those 199, it's apparent that the second generation (Gold/Silver/Crystal) got the short end of the stick. None of Johto's starter pokemon made the cut despite the fact that every other generation has at least one of it's starter's represented. It's unfortunate if that's your favorite era of creatures but at least you can get a Larvitar, so there's that.

Also, Beedril. You can get a Beedril, not a Weedle or Kakuna. Just Beedril.

With all that being said, I think it's a competent game despite my issues with it. It's probably a fine game if you don't play many of the genre and you like Pokemon and the out of combat unit management is pretty neat. I wanted to play a game with Pokemon in it and I totally did. I think I'm probably good for a while.

Legend of Fae

I already wrote about this game earlier this year, once for a review I wrote on this website and again for a Steam review.

I recommend checking them both out because they aren't just the same review in different places. The one on the site is longer though, so maybe peep the Steam version if you want something short and concise.

Alien: Isolation

This game is the only piece of the Alien franchise I have actively engaged with in any capacity. I haven't seen any of the movies or played any of the other games. There's probably some books and comics based on the series but I haven't read them either.

Despite all that, I think this is a pretty cool game on it's own. I imagine it's very faithful to the source material because that's the vibe I got by playing the game and exploring the environs. The best example of this might be the iconography that's all over the game. There's a bunch of small symbols across the various locations in the game that are both helpful hints and bits of fan service. I read a guide (after I was done with the game) that explained what these symbols were and how you could use them to find items or just get a general idea of what lies beyond the doors that follow them.

It's that and the "analog future" aesthetic that give this game a lot of personality and a bit of a lived-in quality to it. Just interacting with a lot of the seemingly decades old equipment is pretty cool but you do a lot of it. There's plenty of sequences that in another game would just be a cutscene but instead it's up to you to prime and plant the bomb step by step and that's just kind of cool to me.

The stealth stuff ain't so bad either. I'd characterize it as tense rather than scary but only because everything is so dangerous. There are some enemies that you can kill but it takes a lot of items and resources to do so and just isn't worth it unless you really need to get somewhere quickly. Saves aren't totally safe either and that adds a lot of tension to something that is usually a stress reliever in any other game. It kind of reminds me of the elevator change in the Dead Space. In the first Dead Space, elevators were always a short spot where you could take a breather but in Dead Space 2 you could get attacked in the elevators. Same with saving in Isolation, most of them are safe but when they aren't the game let's you know.

The game's pretty long but I think that's mainly because of how the encounters are designed. They're slow and methodical and trying to brute force them often ends with death. A 15+ hour stealth game might not be for everyone but I certainly had a good time with it.

Magic: Duels

I've played most of the Duels of Planeswalkers games since they put out that first one but I ended up skipping last year's entry and apparently that one wasn't very good. So I was psyched to get back into digital MtG and pretty pumped that it was free too.

The game was pretty busted on launch (servers didn't work most of the time) but when things finally worked I managed to get through all the single player content in Duels. It's fine but a bit shorter compared to the other MtG games. I didn't really stick with multiplayer because I figure most people who play Magic know how to play it well which is something I don't know how to do!

I got what I wanted out of it though, I'll probably check back in if they add more single player stuff with the expansions.

Final Fantasy XIII

I went into FFXIII knowing that it would be a long while before it "got good" and I was totally fine with that. The first 10 chapters are mostly used to deliver a lot of the story and the combat is basically all tutorial up until they let you loose in Chapter 11.

Looking back on it, I actually think it was kind of cool how the difficulty spikes the moment you're given free reign over all the characters. In the preceding chapters most of the battles (the bosses being the exceptions) could be won by just constantly attacking. I remember when I first got to Gran Pulse and fought some enemies. My first encounter was with the small wolf-like animals that are very obviously supposed to be low level fodder.

I almost died immediately.

It was the moment where I realized that I've got to actually figure out the ins and outs of the battle system and the game was a blast since then. The moment also makes sense in the context of the story too. Lightning and co. are strangers to Gran Pulse which has been alluded to being a dangerous world filled with monsters. Even Fang and Vanille who were born on Gran Pulse haven't set foot there in hundreds of years. It seems only natural that the team would stumble at first given how alien their surroundings must be to them.

The combat is definitely a large part of why I think XIII is good and it's a shame it takes so long until you're given full access to it. The high points of it are the lengthy fights that require constant class changes to manage buffs and debuffs while trying to quickly stagger the enemy (so you can deal more damage) and keeping your party alive. It's extremely tense because in typical JRPG fashion, once you screw up and die you've got to try again from the start. But it's also extremely rewarding once you pull through with a team you've assembled yourself using whatever strategies you found to be best.

It's been a while since I've thought about the story but I don't remember disliking it so it's probably alright! I mean, if I'm being honest, I probably cried at the end. I'm not sure whether to attribute it to being very tired (I finished the game at 3AM), extremely relieved or if seeing Lightning smile was enough to break me.

It might be mix of all three but it's probably that last one now that I think about it...

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

When I started playing MGS2 I did it side by side with the episodes of Metal Gear Scanlon 2 that were on the site. I'd watch an episode then fire up the game and play up to that point on my own. At some point, I stopped doing that because the story became harder to put down the more I played. I don't really remember when it happened (might have been sometime around the second Vamp fight) but I realized that because of how cinematic the game was I probably getting softening the experience by watching someone else's reactions to the story beats while I was seeing for the first time.

I'm really glad I decided to do play it myself before I got to the final moments of the game. I mean, I knew at some point that the Colonel says something about scissors. I knew about playing as Naked Raiden and Fission Mailed. But something about seeing that madness unfold before my very eyes was magical. The final 2 hours or so of this game are a surreal experience that I'm glad I got around to seeing this year.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Unlike MGS2, I went into Snake Eater with a slightly different approach. I would play until I decided to take a break and during my downtime I would watch Drew grenade his way through the game.

I wasn't about to make the same mistake again and I'm thankful that I went into Snake Eater totally blind. A lot of my favorite moments in this game are tied to some of the mechanics and exploring them without any knowledge of them was made them all more special.

As weird as it may sound, I really looked forward to saving the game because I knew every time I did Snake and Paramedic would have a nice conversation about movies. Same thing with hunting for food and to a lesser extent getting new equipment/visiting a new area. I would always call Para-medic, Sigint or EVA whenever I did these things just so I could hear Snake and his team talk about them.

It's not just the codec stuff that I was fond of either; using live animals as weapons, destroying food stockpiles to make the guards hungrier and a lot of the boss interactions are all still really cool and kind of impressive.

The entire fight with the Sorrow is without a doubt one of the coolest things I've seen in a game this year. I tried to play the game as non-lethally as I could to avoid any big firefights but I wasn't afraid to kill a guard if things got messy. But to see the game acknowledge how I'd been playing; to show me the people I'd killed and how I took them out by having them saunter down the river with their necks cut open or a single guy being harassed by a vulture that I had consumed early on.

And the codec calls during that sequence! And the solution to the whole boss fight! Writing about this is bringing back all sorts of fond memories of the good times that I had playing this game.

I feel like I need to end this one before I allow myself to gush about it any longer but I didn't mention the actual story yet so I'll do that! It's nowhere near the level of insanity that MGS2 was but I found it to be a solid story that does a good job of providing context for the entire series.

I'm not even ashamed to admit that I almost cried at the end!

Xeodrifter

Xeodrifter is a very lite Metroidvania game. The game is fairly short and the areas aren't connected like most games of it's type are. To move between areas you have to backtrack to the entry point, go back up to your spaceship and fly to another planet.

The fact that there's only one boss that you fight multiple times throughout the game is kind of a bummer too. I'm not totally down on the game though. I think the weapon upgrade system is neat and playing the game isn't an awful experience.

As I mentioned, it doesn't last too long but it was an enjoyable afternoon distraction.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

I've spent well over 200 hours across 2 different platforms between 3 different copies of the original Dark Souls. I think that game is pretty good. But for most of that game, I already knew what to do. I knew every secret, what every boss would do and where to go next. You could argue that it doesn't matter whether or not I knew what to do and that actually doing it is what matters. I might even agree with you.

I thought I went into Dark Souls II totally blind. But that's not entirely true. I played Dark Souls so I already knew how to play a game like this. I always hit chests before I opened them and I always walked with my shield raised. I had already jumped over the biggest hurdle when it comes to playing these games and that's figuring out how to play them. Dark Souls II didn't do much to play upon my preconceived ideas of what could possibly come my way. It never felt like it was trying to do anything different, it was just more of what I had already become accustomed to. I won't remember Dark Souls II as something exciting and as memorable as the first.

I'll probably just remember it as just more, and a slightly better version, of Dark Souls. And that's fine too!

Retro Game Crunch

I honestly don't remember too much about the games in Retro Game Crunch. They were all pretty short and at the very best they were /interesting/ experiences. Of the 5 games that I finished from it I'd say the highlights were Paradox Lost, Shuten and End of Line.

Paradox Lost is one of those Metroidvania things where you use a gun to control time. You can pause and send enemies, or even yourself, into different time periods by shooting them with a charged shot from the gun. Shuten is a vertical shooter where you attack by deflecting projectiles or by stealing shot types from enemies.

End of Line is maybe the weirdest game of the 3 that I mentioned. It's a puzzle game where you play as a robot (series of robots maybe?) and the object of each level is to kill yourself. Every stage has a number of robots that'll fix you if try to fix you if you die so before you kill yourself you have to kill everything else.

The other two games are Wub-Wub Wescue (a platformer where you play as a pug) and Super! Clew Land Complete (platformer where you 'evolve' as you play) and those are just ok.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!

I played through BL2 earlier this year and wasn't that into the main campaign, for various reasons. Having played through the Pre-Sequel I think that it makes quite a few meaningful steps, albeit small ones, in the right direction.

The Pre-Sequel goes to quite a few lengths to flesh out the Borderlands universe in a way that I can only describe as admirable. Most of the playable characters (and Handsome Jack) end up dead by the end of 2 but they've been fleshed out way more than any of their predecessors. They do have the advantage of already having shown up in non-playable roles but the thing that separates them from the rest of the bunch is that they actually interact with the story and NPCs in a meaningful way.

The characters from 2 never felt like anything more than a set of abilities that would occasionally spout one-liners. The characters were present but they had very little presence. In PS, your character speaks with the NPCs and is spoken to directly which adds a lot of neat little moments across different playthroughs and adds some good humor to the game as well.

Speaking of humor, it's mostly the same kind of humor found in 2 but noticeably less meme-y. It is also 100% more Australian which, I feel, makes it funnier as a result. I know that explaining jokes makes them funnier so allow me to relay some of the choice comedic moments of the Pre-Sequel.

There is an extremely vulgar, extremely Australian shotgun by the name of Boganella. I am aware of the other talking guns from 2 but it isn't Australian so they're not as good. If you are still not convinced of the amount of Australian that pumps through this game's blood then maybe you will change your tune once I tell you that they literally just put Don Bradman in this game.

I'm talking about Sir Don Bradman the godfather of cricket. He has a side quest where you have to find his lost cricket ball for him and as a reward you get what is arguably the freshest color palette in the game.

I found all of these and a quite a few other things to be, at the very least, pretty amusing. Which is more than I can say about anything from the main campaign of 2.

I neglected to mention the few mechanical improvements in PS, so I'm going to mention them now. I really appreciate the addition of the grinder. Before, I just sold anything that wasn't as good as my current equipment and even then the money is basically useless because anything that showed up in the shop just wasn't worth using. It gives me a real reason to pick up items that I don't intend to use and gives me a chance to turn it into something better.

The "slam" and the double jump add another element to the combat beyond the regular loop of shooting, switching weapons and occasionally using your active skill. It's not a substantial addition but it is a step in the right direction. There’s also another element, Cryo (ice!) and laser weapons. Those are alright too.

I know I've been super positive on this game but the one thing Borderlands 2 has over it is a larger amount of game. The Pre-Sequel is noticeably shorter and doesn't even come close to having enough substantial DLC as 2 and it seems like it never will.

But for what it is, I was certainly satisfied with it.

The Legend of Korra

There's not much I remember about Korra at this point. I'll just list off with the things that immediately come to mind when I think of this game.

  1. It's got a couple of levels where you ride some kind of large polar bear thing that remind me of those levels from Crash Bandicoot. Anything that reminds me of old Crash ain't so bad.

  2. I remember the game ending before I got a real grip on the mechanics and the timing for parries.

  3. There was some kind of sport mini-game, pro-bending I think it was called, that I didn't really like playing.

  4. After the credits there was a part where all the voice actors, who I assume are the same talents from the show, take turns saying "Thank you for playing!" and I thought that was really sweet.

Apotheon

I'm a bit hesitant to say that I like Apotheon because I think the combat is kind of bad. I feel it's style of combat doesn't quite work in two dimensions. Your attacks are very slow with very deliberate that have to be completed before they are executed and they drain stamina when you use them.

There are more similarities than those but it's very clearly trying to be like the Souls' games and it just wasn't clicking with me. I did enjoy it though, because whenever you would hit enemy with a particularly strong attack or a giant boulder, for example, they would just rocket across the screen in a very satisfying way. Some of the larger enemies can do the same to you but you don't take a ton of damage from it and it just felt very unwieldy in an unintentional way.

The artstyle is cool and there are some cool boss fights so as an entire product I think it's alright. Just not a real fan of the 2D Dark Souls thing.

Luckslinger

Before I got to the last boss in Luckslinger, I would've told you that I thought that the game was ok. After spending 3 hours too many on that last encounter I'll tell you that I think it's pretty bad.

To put it simply, I just got unlucky. Not unlucky in the game's terms either. In Luckslinger when you're unlucky you fight an extra enemy or a windmill falls towards or something. I got unlucky in multiple different ways. Unlucky in ways that the game's luck system could not even begin to correct but could also be easily patched to be fixed.

The last boss fight takes place in the town, the game's hub where you can talk to people and buy upgrades. I returned from the previous outing with just enough health to buy the last health upgrade. As much as I wanted to buy it during my final hours with this game, I couldn't .

You're forced into a fight with one last gunslinger before you can get a chance to spend your money one last time. There were many times where I wondered if I could've beaten this man if I had just one more heart container. Maybe. I got unlucky though.

The boss isn't even that hard either. He just walks towards you and shoots. You can't shoot him if he's off screen and his bullet patterns are kind of tricky to dodge at a close range. It's certainly doable but tricky. Sometimes though, the boss will roll if you shoot at him. Naturally, he can't be hit while he's rolling so it's wise to just back off when he does this so you can keep yourself at a safe distance. He also advances quite a bit when he rolls, faster than the Luckslinger is able to move.

This is not the part where I got unlucky.

Sometimes, if you're unlucky, the boss will roll to dodge your shots and immediately roll again. This allows him to advance on you very quickly since he moves faster when he rolls.

This is not the part where I got unlucky.

Sometimes, if you're really unlucky, the boss will roll to dodge, shoot, and roll again. The boss can close the distance between him and the Luckslinger all while being totally invincible and covered by a spray of bullets too.

Imagine this unlucky occurrence happening multiple times over the course of several hours and you've just relived my final moments of the Luckslinger. A series of unlucky events that even a game about luck couldn't quite salvage.

At least the soundtrack is decent.

Titan Souls

I feel like at this point, any game with a two word title that ends with 'Souls' is telegraphing that it might be kind of difficult. Titan Souls has the potential to be difficult but I just found it to be a little too easy.

It's a game about fighting bosses and a good number of them only have to be hit once before you defeat them. Your character is also rather frail and you only have one retrievable arrow at your disposal to get the job done.

Titan Souls is a game where the goal post is always in sight but most of the time there's very little obstacle on the way to it. I do like the artstyle and I really enjoyed walking across the world and exploring the environment.

The soundtrack is very nice too! It wouldn't sound totally out of place in the first town of a PS2-era JRPG.

Not a Hero

You'd think that in the same year I spent idly thinking about Pulse X and it's numerous derivatives that I'd be all over a game where some of the enemies call you a "wasteman" and one of the playable characters quotes a Skepta track.

But... I think Bunnylord is lame. Everything the comes out of his(?) mouth just feels like forced humor and it's just lame. It's a good thing that talking with them isn't a huge part of the game. The actual running and gunning is pretty fun though.

The soundtrack is pretty solid too. Some tracks sound like the kind of over-produced electro house that you might find in a royalty free music library but most of it is decent.

Actually, now that I think about it. Bredrin Park doesn't have any Grime tracks despite being based on that whole culture. A missed opportunity if you ask me!

Massive Chalice

I really enjoyed my time with Massive Chalice and I say this as someone who didn't play a lot of New-XCOM. So maybe it's because I haven't played what most people considered to be a better game of this type but the outside of combat aspect of Massive Chalice is the thing I really like about it.

In XCOM and, I assume, other games of the like when your units die it's either due to your own mistakes or the numbers probably weren't in your favor. The same thing can (and will) happen in Massive Chalice but your units will also die because they are humans and all humans die eventually.

Arranging marriages and managing the balance between raising good soldiers while also putting genetically strong/combat strong people in positions of power to keep a steady supply of competent warriors going is really cool!

Although, about over halfway through the game's 300 year timeline, I found there to be very little challenge left. There wasn't anything left for me to research that I actually wanted to use and I had pretty much figured out the combat. But even then, that was 12 hours into a 15 hour campaign. Maybe if some mods exist out there to make things a bit harder then I'd definitely consider jumping back into it.

Grim Fandango

I've heard a few people call Grim Fandango one of the greatest adventure games of all time or, at the very least, one of the better ones. After finishing it, I guess I could see why people would say that but I thought it was just alright.

Maybe I would have a different opinion of it if I had played more (bad?) point & click adventure games? There's plenty of things to like about Grim Fandango and it's definitely an enjoyable game but I just didn't come out of it thinking too highly of it.

Double Dragon Neon

You might notice a trend over the next few entries as they're all games developed by WayForward! I started with Neon because I really wanted to play a brawler and Double Dragon Neon is definitely one of those!

It's alright, I suppose. Nothing particularly noteworthy about it either. Totally inoffensive!

BloodRayne: Betrayal

I've never played a Bloodrayne game before so I'm not familiar with the lore of the franchise and Betrayal doesn't do much of anything to add to it or explain any of it.

There are small bits of story at the beginning and the end and they don't really make a ton of sense within the context of the game. It also didn't seem like anything a fan of the series would get a lot out of either or maybe you would!

I found the combat to be not so good. It's pretty simple since there's really only one button used for attacking but it just felt a little half baked. It felt like there should have been a deeper combo system but it just never got implemented. There's also a point near the end of the game where it becomes a difficult platformer for no reason? You are suddenly asked to jump on these really tiny enemies across a pit of lava while other enemies shoot at you. I thought that stuff was fun but it also felt like should have been in a different game or at the very least some kind of optional thing.

It's very weird, but you know what's not weird? Late title cards and this game has a pretty good one! Not good enough to make up for the not so good stuff though.

Mighty Switch Force!

The only reason I know what Might Switch Force is before I played it was the soundtrack, which is pretty cool (and free!) if you ask me. I saw the Hyper Drive edition pop up on Steam and I bought it immediately.

As it turns out, the game's pretty rad! It's a pretty simple game but it's fun! I think it looks very nice too. I only found out after I played it that they updated the art in the version I played but the original pixel art still looks good.

Also, Patricia Wagon is the best name for a police woman I've ever heard.

Mighty Switch Force! Hose It Down!

So, this game came to the PC about the same time the original did (or it might have been a little bit before) and I bought it along with that. You know Pipe Dream/the hacking mini-game from Bioshock?

This is basically that! It was also very obviously made for touch screen devices and playing it with a mouse isn't too great. It's a neat little game. Some of the puzzles later on get pretty devious though!

You can also spray the ladies you're supposed to rescue at the end each world with water if you want! A wholly unnecessary feature but still kind of cool.

Shantae: Risky's Revenge

There was also this one Let's Play I briefly saw, of this very game, where the person playing described Shantae as "so, so gorgeous" and that she had very pretty hair. I distinctly remember them coming off as very genuine about their love for Shantae in a believable, and not at all creepy, way.

For some reason, this is something that has been unable to escape my mind ever since I saw it.

Anyway, I've never actually seen much of these games and I'm not sure Risky's Revenge was the best place to start with this franchise. There was enough of a game to make me interested in playing another one of these but not quite enough to where I was satisfied with what was there.

This was originally a DS e-shop game so it sort of makes some sense. Oh yeah, and I think a lot of the UI looks kind of bad! It isn't stylized at all and it just looks a bit placeholder assets to me. Other than those things, it's a totally serviceable game!

Assault Android Cactus

I like this game a lot!

I first became aware of Assault Android Cactus when it first hit early access in 2014 and then I saw it on a guest GotY list on this site that same year. When the quick look for it went up it was kind of the tipping point for me.

I bought this immediately after I saw it, which is something that I don't usually do but I'm so glad I did! It's got a lot of things to it that I really enjoy; a sick logo build, a sound test, chibi character art in tutorials and cute robots!!

The game's also pretty fun and has some very smart design choices! The restart options are pretty good. After you get your first S+ rank (A perfect clear) you get an option so that the game will automatically restart after you lose the chance to get the S+.

It eliminates going into a menu and hitting restart whenever you mess up, it's a nice little option that makes shooting for high scores a lot easier. In a game that's about getting high scores on a leaderboard it's a vital feature that more games should definitely borrow.

There's also a good amount of variety to the characters. All sorts of neat weapons and different styles of play than you'd expect from a twin-stick shooter. The levels also take into account the different characters to a point where whenever I unlocked a new one I could recall a level I played previously where their weapons would come in handy.

I haven't played as much of the game that I'd have liked to but I could definitely see myself losing a lot more time to it! And I really want to, it's just that my hands really start to hurt after I play for about an hour...

Hylics

I like this game a whole bunch!

I feel like I've written a ton about this game on this very website but I have no idea if you've seen that stuff so I'll just rewrite it all again!

So first off, this is the craziest looking game I've ever seen. It's like someone saw that Dali painting with the melting clocks and decided that was the aesthetic for this game. And then to make it even more surreal they decided to actually make most of the assets out of figurines and clay. It's a very specific look that's pulled off pretty well. I haven't even mentioned the animated pixel art hands that show up whenever you fight stuff that also look way too good? If I could describe it one word it would probably be nightmare or dream-like. Ephemeral is another good word for it too!

The dialogue and writing also contribute to the dreamy feel of the game. Almost all of it is randomly generated and changes pretty often. It's something that I did not like at all when I saw it in Not a Hero but Hylics makes it work. When you talk to most NPCs they just kind of blurt out word garbage but there are a distinct few who actually say sensible things and they stick out. Even names of locations and descriptions of party members are generated so it comes across that you just don't know the specifics of it so you just guess the rest.

Like, you know the mountain you were on had a crazy long name but you can't quite remember what it was. Or that one of your party members was some kind of scientist or that the lady in your party was a queen of something. It's this vague sense of remembrance that

There's also the combat, which is pretty standard turn-based JRPG combat but it's surrounded by so much weirdness. Not even "random" weirdness either, a lot of the ways you improve your party are tied into exploring the world. There aren't any levels in Hylics so instead of gaining XP to get new abilities you have to find TVs that are placed throughout the world to learn new skills for battle. Every party member can learn every skill too. So whenever you get a new one you can go back and get them caught up to speed by finding and watching a TV.

You don't gain stats normally either. Stats are mostly governed by equipment, which isn't a new thing, but there is one party member (the queen I mentioned earlier) who can increase her strength by consuming(?) little bugs that are kind of all over the place. HP and MP are gained increased in a similar way. Your MP goes up every time you drink from one of the various water coolers that are just hanging around and HP... Well, to increase your HP you have to die.

Because there's no fail state in this game! Which is strange for a genre where death usually means you have to reload a save so you can grind and level up. In Hylics when you die you go to the afterlife where there's a meat grinder that you put meat into so you can increase your health, crystals that you can use for fast travel and a beach!

I'll say it again, like this game a whole bunch! So much so, that I might even say it's my favorite game that came out in 2015 or even my second favorite game that I played in 2015!

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love

Speaking of games that I like a whole bunch, Sakura Wars is definitely up there as one of my favorite games ever made. I wasn't expecting this to be much of anything when I picked it up with a bunch of other PS2 JRPGs but man...

Everything about this game: the look, the characters, the writing, the voice acting, it all feels like an anime. Every time you go into a combat encounter there's an animated video of your crew getting into their mechs. It also plays every single time before combat begins and before the final battle it plays the long version of the video instead of the truncated version it plays in the episodes prior.

Oh and there are previews for the next episode after you finish a chapter in the game! The only possible way this could be more anime is if had opening and ending songs at the edges of each episode or commercials between them. It doesn't even present this stuff in a tongue-in-cheek or jokey kinda way either. This game is so sincere and so genuine about it that it feels like a lovingly made video game adaption of some show I could have watched when I was a kid.

It's also a visual novel that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend if given the chance. Usually VNs are all about reading text and making choices and most people consider that stuff to be pretty boring.

Sakura Wars adds a little bit of adventure game elements and some proto-Telltale style persistence. There's also lot more interactivity to the visual novel portions beyond choosing dialogue options and making choices. Sometimes a gauge will pop up because you have to adjust the intensity of what you're saying or doing. Other times there will be a timer while you contemplate making a choice or a mini-game where you have to move the sticks. I probably sound like an idiot praising things like this but trust me when I say there are moments where this stuff is awesome.

It's also kind of impressive since the game originally came out in 2005!

Then there's the relationship stuff, which might be my favorite part of the game. You can build your relationship with your teammates during the downtime to make them a little bit more powerful during combat. It's the only kind of progression that gets added to the combat and it can sometimes trigger mid-battle conversations that are nice. They're nice! There's also a 'point of no return' where you get to pick your partner for the final mission and after you do that the final few hours of the game center around that character and builds upon their arc.

I'm not quite sure how to eloquently explain it but they really do right by the characters and it's really heartwarming!

I feel like I could (and probably should?) write an entire blog post about how much I like this game and there's so much more stuff I'd like to touch on but I should probably stop because this post is going to be long enough already!

The one thing I would like to explicitly state about my time with this game is that throughout playing it I had just about the biggest smile on my face. Even writing about it now I just can't help myself from smiling! This game just makes me really happy!

ALSO; I didn't finish the game with Rosita as my partner but I went back and saw a little bit of that stuff and I almost cried. Almost!

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

For so long have a I heard and used the phrase Metroidvania without ever truly seeing what the "vania" half of it was. After seeing this game praised so highly and put on the schedule for the various GDQs, I finally "get it".

The movement in this game is super satisfying and it feels really great to play, which is always a nice thing to experience in a fairly old game. There were multiple times where I found myself just idly thinking about backdashing.

An incredibly odd thought but it's a testament to how awesome it feels to control Alucard.

I kind of wish I had more to say about Symphony of the Night but I kind of only played it to satisfy a curiosity I had. It definitely seems like a good 'vania but it only took me a little under 3 hours to finish the game.

Probably because this isn't the first time I've played a really good game of this type and it's not as mind-blowing as it might have been if I played it back then? Or maybe it's because I never got around to finding that upside-down castle people always talk about...

GrimGrimoire

RTS' are one of those genres that I have very little experience with. Dota 2 is the only game I've played that's even remotely similar to an RTS but I recognized that it's an entirely different beast. I was curious to see if I could get into the genre. So I picked up, GrimGrimoire because it seemed like a good place to start. It also has a cute witch on the cover!

The micro is the part of RTS game that intimidates me, I always stayed away from micro heavy characters like Meepo and Chen in Dota because I feared I just wasn't dexterous enough to control them. I didn't run up against that problem during my time playing GG. Not that a PS2 controller is the best way to micro manage a bunch of units but I never felt overwhelmed because of an inability to move my units around.

I did feel overwhelmed later on in the game because I didn't really know what I was doing but I managed to beat the game with little frustration. It's a Vanillaware game so the art is as expected; stylish, fantastical and very well made. The story, which is about time travel, was pretty easy to follow up until I entered the third or fourth time loop. It was about then when I lost track of most of the character's motivations and things just got a little too crazy.

I'm definitely interested in picking up some other RTS games on the PC after spending some time with a bit of an 'easier' game. The problem I'm facing now is that I kind of don't know where to start!

If I could find another RTS with cute characters and art then I'd definitely give it a shot but no such luck. At least now I can say I have some experience with the genre now!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

I had been meaning to check out the Lords of Shadow games ever since I saw one Vincent Caravella show the original game off on those various UPFs so long ago.

Lords of Shadow is an enjoyable albeit flawed game. There's probably more flaws than I can remember at this point but I remember the combat being pretty lackluster. Not the act of fighting itself but more so the rules and limitations around what you can and cannot do during combat.

I distinctly remember not being able to dodge attacks while you were in the air which made any kind of aerial combat a pretty bad idea if I was fighting more than one enemy. It also took me a while to realize that the 'unblockable' attacks that enemies do also can't be dodged which made playing on hard a little bit frustrating. Other than those little things I enjoyed playing through the game.

The puzzles were a nice break from the combat that make use of the combat moves in a clever way and I didn't mind the Uncharted-style traversal stuff.

The lore and story seems to take on a bigger role than they ever appeared to in the other Castlevania games. The story told isn't amazing but it's definitely entertaining. The worldbuilding is mostly done through scrolls you find on the various dead bodies that are in the levels and as uninteresting as that may sound they make it work.

The lore justification for them existing is that the Brotherhood on the hunt for the Lords of Shadow carry these magic scrolls with that automatically transcribe their dying thoughts so that they might aid other Brotherhood members. So mixed into the occasional hints are the thoughts of these crusaders trying their hardest to maintain their composure in the face of death and I think it's super cool!

There's also an appreciable amount of heart put into this game and it shows. I mean, look at this cartoonish scene of a skeleton sneaking up on Gabriel Belmont! There's all sorts of little things like this that show the team working on the game had some fun with it, which is always nice to see!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

No matter which angle I try to look at it from I always arrive at the same conclusion; Mirror of Fate isn't a good game. It does not succeed as a Lords of Shadow game and it does not succeed as a Castlevania game.

The Lords of Shadow games, or I guess it was just "game" when this first came out, are cinematic character action games. Mirror of Fate tries to condense that kind of combat into the 2D plane and I just don't think it works.

The over-the-top combos should be fun but it just looks and feels so lame. The enemies are so benign that the combat ends up feeling like busywork instead of a challenge, even on hard mode.

I can't say I really understand the decision to spread the gameplay across 3 different characters either. They all play so similarly and the exploration suffers because of it. I'm usually the kind of person who goes crazy trying to collect everything but you barely spend any significant amount of time with each character. You never revisit any of the characters either so I never felt incentivized to seek out any collectibles or upgrades.

The story is maybe one of the only noteworthy aspects to the game but all the important story bits you'll get from Mirror of Fate are retold and explained over the course of Lords of Shadow 2.

Mirror of Fate is just plain uneccesary.

Downwell

Downwell is so fun!

You jump down a well, stomp and shoot enemies and string together kill chains. It's very rogue-lite and for a game about descent there's very little depth. Which is to say, the skill and knowledge ceiling isn't as high as it's counterparts but the game is so fun!

The only difference between a combo of 25 and 225 is that the latter is just a bigger number. Getting combos higher than 25 is actually to your detriment because you don't get rewarded afterwards.

But it's so satisfying! To continuously jump on and shoot enemies as you make a rapid descent from level to level... It's just so much fun!

Life Is Strange

I'm not as into Life is Strange as most people who champion this game are. In fact, as someone who really likes Remember Me (and knows there will probably never be a sequel) I'm a little bit dissapointed in it.

I do like the game quite a bit though and I'm not about to discount how important this game is. It's obviously a game that really resonates with some people and it's awesome that it does! I'm just not one of those people.

Although there's something to be said about a game that didn't really resonate with me that somehow managed to keep me going across one big 12+ play session. There was also a point, let's say around the time I started episode 3, where I stopped really thinking about consequences and just kinda flowed through the game. This is going to sound incredibly lame, hella lame even, but I'm going to write it anyway!

I stopped playing with my mind and started playing with my heart.

It's something I didn't truly realize I did until I watched all of the GB East Playdate. The guys discuss the morality and possible outcomes of the choices before they make them where as I just kind of went with what I felt was right. I even disregarded the fact that I could just see the outcome of a choice and rewind if I wasn't satisfied. Once it was all over I felt like I every choice I made was the right one.

Also, I saved Chloe because c'mon.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

As far as I'm concerned the only thing that needed to be added to Lords of Shadow 2 for me to like it was an air dash. I am delighted to tell you that in Castelvania: Lords of Shadow 2 that you can dash and dodge attacks in the air!

The entire combat system was revamped and reworked so instead of unlocking new combat abilities as the story progresses you gain XP as you defeat enemies and can unlock moves at your leisure! It's definitely an improvement over the system that was featured in the first game.

Unfortunately, because you can freely choose which combat moves you have the game can't rely on you having them for puzzles. So they took all those out and replaced them with stealth sequences. Because everybody loves stealth in non-stealth games!

I kid, but honestly there are way more missteps in this game than there are advancements. The stealth sequences, bland writing, weaker story and uninteresting use of a unique premise are all a huge bummer. I haven't even mentioned the biggest sin this game commits either; when you pick up a collectible and you die before you hit a checkpoint you have to pick it up again. This didn't happen in the first game so I honestly have no idea why this is even a thing?

Overall it's a worse game but there are a few things that I like about Lords of Shadow 2. The combat is better, as I mentioned, and I think the darker and edgier tone the game takes on is equal parts hilarious and kind of cool. Dracula vomits blood on a giant crystal within the first 30 minutes of the game and there's a scene where Satan himself just pulls someones face off. The monster designs also got way better in this sequel. They're a lot more grotesque and memorable than the safe designs of the creatures in the first game.

Even though it's a better playing game than the first it's a very disappointing sequel. The fact that it ends so abruptly and has been said to be the last game of the franchise makes it so much more disappointing.

Lots of squandered potential on this one.

Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold'em

When I bought this game I thought it would be pretty funny to write about it for this thing. And if you asked me what this game was when I bought it I probably would have guessed it was a poker game where you could ogle anime women in bikinis.

Surprisingly, Poker Pretty Girls Battle is just a poker game. Just a poker game. The entire 'pretty girls' part of the title is so thinly stretched over the top of this game that I'm actually surprised that it's even there at all.

I mean, there are anime ladies in this game and they have names. But they're not characters. You do not interact with them in any meaningful capacity or even see much of them beyond their image appearing next to a hand of poker being played at the table. You cannot talk to these ladies. You cannot hang out with them. You do not get to know them. You can't buy them presents like in Dead or Alive Extreme. You can't even "rub" them or whatever was going on in that one PS4 Mahjong game. It's just a poker game. Your chips aren't even worth anything. You don't get to unlock any pictures of these ladies. You don't get to unlock anything. There is no progression, only poker.

Your only reward for besting these women in a game of cards is the privilege to play more poker against a different set of women. It's just a poker game and I'm not even sure it's a good one of those. Because you could just set your bet to 'All In' and eventually you'll just win.

I'm upset there isn't any sort of lecherous angle to any part of this game. I'm upset there isn't anything else to this game other than poker.

200% Mixed Juice!

I don't really know what I was expecting with this one. 100% Orange Juice! is a really fun game that I haven't played nearly enough of but the fun lies is the gameplay and less in the characters.

200% Mixed Juice! is definitely more about the characters since it's an RPG and not a board game focused on dice rolls. Despite not being a big fan of the developer's games I did have fun with 200%. It's a fun little inter-dimensional romp with very basic combat and endearing characters.

I mean, I did go through the trouble of getting all the achievements and 100%-ing the game...

I just imagine that I would have had a better time with it if I had played any of Orange Juice's other games.

Kuru Kuru Kururin

Originally, I had planned to play Kuru Kuru Kururin and Roundabout back to back but I didn't actually own the latter by the time I started playing this game. It was on sale but I didn't buy it for whatever reason.

After finishing Kururin, I have very little desire to play another game where you pilot a constantly rotating vehicle. I fired this game back up while I was writing this and I can't even imagine how I managed to get through some of the later courses.

It gets real unforgiving later on. There aren't any checkpoints in the levels so you need to navigate the mazes with near perfect precision to finish. It's a good thing most of the levels aren't too long. The longer courses take about 3 minutes at most to finish if you're not trying to get a fast clear time.

It's definitely a challenging game but I think I've had enough of this particular brand of hellish maze game for a while.

Read Only Memories

Even now, several months after I've finished it, I can't quite find words that seem adequate enough to explain how much I appreciate Read Only Memories. But I'll try anyway!

Read Only Memories might be the only game that I can remember playing that has gone out of it's way to make me feel comfortable. To avoid any confusion, there's a point shortly after you start where Turing, a sapient machine who accompanies you throughout the game, ask how you'd like to be addressed. You can input your name as well as your preferred pronouns and as someone who has struggled trying to figure out my own self identity, it's maybe the first time I've ever felt confident answering any questions of the sort.

It was a very reassuring moment for me and it was something I didn't realize I needed.

Even without it, there's a good chance I would have probably left Read Only Memories with a positive opinion. It's an investigative adventure that isn't dissimilar to something like the Phoenix Wright and has a look that reminds a lot of certain PC-Engine games.

I've read about an update that is coming soon that's adds a little post-game stuff and I'm super excited to jump back into it and see everyone again!

SWR JST DX Selective Memory Erase Effect

The only thing that stands out about this otherwise straightforward game about an artificial human fighting through their own psyche in an effort to regain control of their body is the boss fights. Not because they're difficult or broken or amazing. It's the actual bosses themselves.

At first glance they look polygonal but upon closer inspection I discovered that all the bosses are FMV of puppets and plushies! It's not as noticeable on the first few bosses (giant furball, giant duck, giant squid) but it's painfully obvious on the last couple (dog playing drums, necromancer dog, giant plant thing?) and it's just the cutest thing I've ever seen.

The game is okay too! It's a very basic arcadey action-platformer with a premise that's the kind of thing you'd only expect to see in an old NES manual. The game also does a bit of storytelling between levels and has a couple of info dumps that are... less than good.

But it's pretty short and not too difficult either. It's the kind of game you could spend a nice few hours playing.

Malebolgia

Oh Malebolgia...

I adore this game's low poly character models, moody lighting and pairing it all with actual paintings results in a really cool aesthetic. The story is told in a very indirect manner and the very little info I've gleamed from it just by playing the game seems very cool.

The part where it loses me is the deliberately paced combat that just feels terrible. It's just so sluggish and unresponsive it's almost unbearable. It doesn't help that there's little to no animations either, it makes the game feel like a perpetual work in progress.

I love everything surrounding the gameplay but when it comes to actually playing Malebolgia it's like being forced to play a souls game with no armor, no shield and your least favorite weapon.

Kromaia

Flight and driving games are among the few kinds of games I tend to stay away from. I can't even drive a car in real life so a game where piloting any kind of virtual vehicle is the main focus just isn't interesting to me.

Luckily, Kromaia is on the arcadey side of flight games rather than the simulation side. So I found it to be a bit more approachable since I'm not at all used to flying in video games. As for the game itself, it's pretty rad! This game has an exhilarating sense of speed and the faux open world environments enable you to reach top speeds without any worry of crashing.

There is a big caveat that I think will turn off most people to this game. There are four levels, each with their own boss. After you beat the boss of that level you get access to a new ship and to beat the game you have to finish every level with every ship.

It kinda sucks but the game is supposed to have a system to make replaying the levels a lot less boring. A dynamic AI system that's supposed to adapt to how you play and serve you different types of enemies to keep you on your toes. I don't think I ended up seeing that in action but it sounds like a neat idea!

Again, this game looks super cool and has an awesome sense of speed. You can even unlock a grappling hook if you look hard enough. Bad games don't have grappling hooks in them!

bit Dungeon II

I played this game on PC and I didn't bother to actually look this up but as I was playing this game I had the nagging feeling that this was originally made for phones. It's a no-button game for starters. Well, that's not totally true. I could hold down 'A' and it would put up my shield/charge up some special move that I never got to work reliably.

You also attack enemies by running into them and since it's a real-time game and not tile-based or turn-based it just feels really bad. bit Dungeon II is also a loot game but the way you level up makes a lot of the loot totally useless. When you level up you gain stats that are determined by whatever weapon you're holding. Most weapons only have one stat attached to them but there are certain weapons that have two and I ended up using one of those.

It seemed like whenever I came across a better weapon that had way better base stats than what I had equipped whenever I picked it up I would do considerably less damage. So by continuing to use a single type of weapon I was effectively making every other weapon type less and less viable.

Oh, by the way, every boss and dungeon in the game is the same.

The dungeons all contain two keys and once you find them you fight the boss. To get the keys you have to step on (or push a block onto) a switch and once you do a key will show up somewhere. Rinse and repeat for every dungeon. The bosses are even more samey, they all just fire projectiles at you and that's about it.

I didn't find most of this game to be fun. The only thing I did enjoy about it was the fact that stuns are so overpowered in this game that they allow you to literally run through every enemy and boss without worry.

Devil's Dare

For whatever reason, I really want brawlers (or beat'em'ups if you prefer to call them that) to be better. I want there to be a game that comes out to just revolutionize the genre and turn it on it's head. I think Devil's Dare could've been that game to do it, if it handled some it's elements in a different way.

There's permadeath in this game. When you die and you don't have enough money to continue you have to delete your save. The game just sits on this "Continue?" screen and your options are continue and one that says delete your save. Every time I saw this screen, my only option was to delete my save because the first, and only times, I died I never got far enough to earn enough money to continue or get the item that nets you a free continue. So I hit "Delete Your Save" and then it gracefully kicks you back to the main menu where you're given the option to start the entire game over from the beginning.

It feels so antagonistic and it might be the worst feeling implementation of permadeath I've ever seen.

That's just one of the few problems though. The other big problem is that there's very little reason to play the game multiple times. Because games with permadeath are probably designed to be played more than once, right?

There's some of that in Devil's Dare. After you complete a level you can spend money on a single upgrade, item or forgo buying something altogether and save your money. As you continue throughout the game the levels get longer and you fight different bosses. Those all sound like good ideas but... in practice I just don't think it works.

The upgrades exist in two types; those that upgrade your character's special moves or just general character improvements (more health, more money for killing enemies, etc.). There are only 3 special move upgrades (one for each move) per character and the upgrades aren't that great. Same for the other upgrades. It just didn't feel like my character was getting stronger and that the game had very little to offer in terms of replayability. I think that might be all the things I don't like, so let's move on to the positives!

I think the act of playing the game, the part where you fight dudes is alright. You can cancel every action into every other action as long as you have the meter for it and I think that's pretty fun. But even this game isn't safe from the tried and true brawler strategy of getting enemies into the corner and just hitting them forever. At least it's kind of fun to do that in Devil's Dare.

Dusty Revenge

There's no kind way to put this but Dusty Revenge is a hot mess. It is functional but the ways in which it isn't make me question how anyone felt acceptable releasing it in this state. The game didn't recognize half my inputs, the placement of platforms wasn't at all representative of what was actually drawn for them and boss fights starting well before the intro cutscenes before them end.

Not to mention the various visual glitches (jittery character movement, enemies showing up as a broken mess of art in the shape of hitboxes) in an otherwise very pretty looking game.

Life of Pixel

When I first started up Life of Pixel I thought I was in for a semi-educational trip through the history of video game machines. Each set of 8 levels (it might be 6, I don't really remember) takes place in a different machine, starting with the ZX81 and goes as far as the Master System. Each set begins with a nice rundown of the technical capabilities of each machine and the levels contain, as far as I can tell, accurate visuals and music.

But that's about where the history lessons end, the gameplay is the same across every set of levels. You collect crystals and go to the exit. No changes, no variance. It's fine early on but as you advance through systems the levels get way too long and the game becomes very tedious. I would have liked, or at least appreciated, if the gameplay slowly advanced as you went from system. It would be cool to see someone try to depict how gameplay has changed since 70's.

Life of Pixel doesn't quite pull that off and just kind of feels like nothing more than a glorified nostalgia trip. Maybe I'd be singing a different tune if I actually grew up with these machines instead of just reading about them? Who knows!

I will give the devs credit though; they managed to do that weird color-blending thing that I always see in Spectrum games. So maybe this game ain't all bad...

TowerFall

TowerFall is only on this list because I finished all the single player content the game has to offer. It's not a very good single player experience but I don't doubt that it has the potential to be a fun time if you're playing it with someone else.

Hatred

I wrote a little something about Hatred when I first finished it but I didn't save it anywhere so it's lost out there somewhere in cyberspace.

The main thing the I took away from Hatred is that it's not a good game. I compared it to Metal Slug, which is maybe not the first game someone would associate with Hatred but gameplay goals are very similar.

You shoot dudes!

The difference is how it presents this and justifies the violence. Metal Slug is a depiction of war, not a particularly accurate one but a depiction nonetheless. The people are shooting are the enemy! Sometimes they're a man with a gun and other times it's Mars People, mummies or zombies. Hatred is a depiction of a killing spree; the people you shoot are either civilians or law enforcement trying to stop your senseless rampage. It's a rather touchy subject and I don't think the game tries to say anything worthwhile about it.

Not that it needs to, I wasn't even expecting it to anyway. The initial trailers that caused such an uproar seemed to promise a rather brutal game but I don't think they made that game either. The game I played is really cheesy and really, really lame.

There's a scene near the end of the game where the main character logs into a computer (the password is 666!!!!), arms a nuke, and then proceeds to blow up a town after being cornered by the military.

The objectives in the story mode are also very, very similar to each other. Most levels have you kill X number of civilians and then survive for X number of minutes against waves of police until you're allowed to leave the level. These levels all take place in levels that are relatively open, the game mentions in the tutorial that you should explore these spaces because you might find something interesting. I never found anything of actual interest. Just people aimlessly wandering around. There are a couple levels (literally 2) that are kind of different. They're linear levels where all you have to do is move to the other end of the map.

The weapons are also not fun to use at all. All the bullet weapons, even the default pistol, are all fairly inaccurate and somehow weapons like a flamethrower or a rocket launcher manage to be incredibly dull.

But you know what game has an awesome flamethrower/rocket launcher? Metal Slug.

Supercharged Robot VULKAISER

I don't know much about bullet hell games beyond a certain popular series but I have somehow acquired a good number of them in my Steam library. VULKAISER is one of them and I finished it so let me tell you a few things about it.

It's a shooter of the horizontal variety instead of the vertical oriented shooters I'm used to. It also uses a health system which is a lot easier to deal with instead of the one hit kills I'm used to.

It's also a pretty smart design choice because you cannot continue in this game! You have to finish every stage without losing all your health, or in other words you have to 'one credit clear' the game. I think this also the one of the few games I've ever 1CC'd.

The VULKAISER, which looks very similar to the various MAZINGER mechs to me, can also COMBINE with various other mechs (or is it mecha?) which change your shot type and bomb effect.

It's a neat game!

Don'Yoku

Another one of those shooting games. The hook Don'Yoku is that you have utilize your bombs, which are giant, buff men for whatever reason, to turn all the projectiles on screen into giant yen coins. Which, obviously, get you big points.

It took me a while to realize that this is what I was supposed to be doing and I got to final boss, which is actual bullet hell compared to the rest of the game, a few times before running out of continues. Can't say I was really feeling it but it's totally okay!

Fitz The Fox

So for the first, let's say, third of Fitz the Fox was just a standard platformer. It felt a bit floaty but it was just fine. But after you beat the first boss you change characters. Instead of playing as who I assume to be the titular fox, you take control of a pink fox with a gun.

You can use the gun to shoot enemies or propel yourself forward while you're in the air, almost like a rocket jump. The game starts making the levels a lot longer and packs them with a lot more enemies. Which would be fine is the checkpointing was good. But it isn't.

If you run out of lives you have to start the entire set of levels over again from the beginning. Which would be fine if the levels were short. But they aren't. Doing an entire set of 3 5-minute long levels over and over again because the games idea of a challenge is throwing spiky thwomp-like enemies at you from off screen is not fun!

The only reason I didn't stop playing out of frustration was because by the time I decided I was done I was also just so close to finishing the game.

Adventure in the Tower of Flight

Not much I can really say about this one as it looks and plays just about how you'd expect. Like one of those retro throwback sorts of things.

Belladonna

Belladonna is very obviously somebody's first attempt at making a game. It's a point n click adventure game and the puzzles are incredibly easy. The exposition is primarily done through journal entries that are just lying around the mansion the game takes place in.

It feels like supplementary material, a prequel to a much grander story. I suppose if you wanted to put a positive spin on it, you could say it's a pretty accessible game. It's an hour long and the puzzles aren't difficult, anybody could play it and possibly have a good time!

The story isn't particularly terrible; imagine Frankenstein but with lesbians. It's a reductive way of putting but that's how it was presented to me and it delivers on that premise. So if that sounds like something you'd be into then maybe give this a shot?

Discouraged Workers

If you've ever wanted to see how a translation can negatively impact a game then you should definitely play Discouraged Workers! This game was originally written in Korean and the English translation is readable but the writing is so sterile.

It reads more like an unbiased retelling of events than an actual story, if that makes any sense. Maybe I'm assigning too much blame to the translation, I can't read Korean so maybe the original script is as lifeless as what I read.

Regardless, the game lacks emotion and with a story is centered around the fairly emotional topics of unemployment, depression and suicide, emotion seems like a key component if you want people to empathize with the characters.

Nekopara Vol.1

When I bought this, I didn't look into it very much after I found out it was about catgirls that worked in some kind of cafe. I was pretty much sold at that point so I decided it was best to avoid any specifics until I got around to playing it.

For the first few hours or so, I was really liking Nekopara. It was lighthearted fun that was silly and a little heartwarming too. I wasn't expecting much beyond cute catgirls, of which there are many, so I was definitely having a good time with it. I didn't think there could possibly be anything that could happen in the story to stop the good times.

I was wrong.

Sometime around the middle of the game (around chapter 4 if I had to guess) one of the two leading catgirls, Chocola, basically goes into heat. The main character (whose name escapes me) eventually decides that the best solution to this problem is to have sex with her. Then the same thing happens to her twin sister, Vanilla, and then he has sex with her too. A threesome occurs shortly afterwards.

Normally, I'd be totally indifferent to something like this happening. I played (and enjoyed!) HuniePop and you can have relations with a catgirl in that game too. The problem I have with Nekopara is that the first three chapters are spent establishing a paternal relationship between the main character and his two catgirls.

He states that they're both like daughters to him and even utters the classic Dad line; "They grow up so fast!". Not to mention the multiple scenes that end with the punchline "Well they are still cats after all!".

It just feels totally unwarranted and kind of gross. Granted, the actual scenes aren't present in the Steam version (which might actually be worse?) but the lead up is there and the post-coital scenes are there.

I was expecting cute catgirls, and to be fair there are quite a few of them in Nekopara, but I also got a discomforting amount of heavily implied penetration and I'm not cool with that at all.

Divine Slice of Life

I played through the entirety of this game. I went through all the routes and I've seen all the endings (even the secret harem ending!) in both the censored and the uncensored versions of the game. So I think I've seen enough of this game to confidently say that it's bad.

I wouldn't say it's awful by any means, but I would totally understand if someone told me they thought it was. It's just kind of bad in nearly every aspect.

The premise has a bit of potential but nothing interesting is done with it. The setup is as follows; You are a literally faceless young adult male (he has a name but honestly it doesn't even matter) who is actually the reincarnation of Zeus, king of the gods! But before you can ascend to the heavens and regain your godly powers you must choose between two goddesses, Yui Aphrodite and Ryn Athena, and make one of them your wife. As you can see, there's room for all sorts of shenanigans to occur.

Unfortunately there's very little to the whole 'slice of life' part of the title. There's even a line that mentions there could be other goddesses who might try to seduce you in order to steal one of your female companions rightful spot along side you in the heavens. Nothing like that ever happens though making it just a throwaway line that hints at what could have been.

In fact, it feels like the premise only exists to highlight the fact that Zeus slept around a lot because you're mostly boning various ladies in this game. Which is fine but even all of that stuff is pretty lackluster.

Especially if you're playing the censored version because instead of changing the scenes to something else (not to say that would be a better solution), it just cuts out the explicit descriptions of the various sex acts. You don't even get a fade to black, just a hard cut from the lead-up to the aftermath. Everyone's also fully clothed and even I know that's not how sex happens.

There's also full voice acting for pretty much all the characters except for the protagonist (because he's supposed to be you, the player!), and that's awesome! I'm glad they managed to get some people to voice most of the dialog. Too bad most of it is devoid of any actual voice "acting". Most of the reads are pretty flat and it doesn't help that the voice recordings are poorly mixed. You actually have to turn the music down in-game if you want to hear any of it.

I do think the voice actress who plays Yui is the best of the bunch even though she sounds like she constantly has her 'sexy' voice on. And you know what? I think character art is alright. Just alright.

I don't think you should play this game at all but if you do, look into buying the version that isn't censored because that's clearly the game they wanted to make from the start.

HuniePop

HuniePop is way too good than it has any right to be. The match 3 part of it is, anyway. Most match 3 hybrids I've played (Legend of Fae and 10,000,000 are the first to come to mind) require quick reflexes. You need to keep matching or else you'll end up in a bad situation!

In HuniePop you might be able get away with that on the first few dates but eventually the game gets pretty hard. You can build a loadout - which is made up of perfumes, shoes, stuffed animals and similar things - to basically set up combo chains and manipulate the board in your favor.

It is incredibly satisfying, not to mention absolutely essential, to build a loadout, set up a combo chain and get to a point where you can look at the board and say "I'm going to win on my next move." and then actually pull it all off. It's weird to have so much control in a type of game where you often have little to none.

I realize it's very easy to look at all the stuff surrounding the match 3 game and write it off as garbage. To be honest I wouldn't blame anyone for doing so. Those things are all very hateable but I genuinely enjoy them!

The music is pleasant, the voice acting is perfect and the art is really nice too. The sprites aren't so great but every time you finish a date you'll get a picture from the lady you just dated and all of those are very nice! I also bought the digital artbook (sorry) and a lot of extras in it are way too good???

The only thing that I wish was better are the character interactions. All the ladies have likes and dislikes but you never learn about them in any meaningful way. There are bits of personality you can gleam from the brief conversations you can have with them but there just wasn't enough of it there for me.

Still, the conversations feed back in to the match 3 game in a very significant way so I understand why it is the way it is but I can't help but feel like it could've been so much better.

Nekopara Vol.0

So, I bought this along with Vol.1 and I figured if I suffered through I might as well suffer through another. Luckily, Vol.0 is exactly what I wanted out of the first volume. Cute catgirls doing mundane things! It's about a third of the length of the first game, which is a bummer, but it also has a crucial new feature.

At any moment, as long as there is a character sprite on screen, you can click on a little button located in the upper right which allows you to pet the character on screen. This adds an unprecedented amount of interactivity to the game since there aren't any branching paths. You can also pet them for as long as you want, never-ending joy at the click of a button!

There's also a scene where two of the catgirls are arguing and the voice acting for the scene is just two Japanese women angrily hissing and mewing at each other.

It's everything I wanted out of the first game and then some!

Amnesia: Memories

The problem I run into with a lot of the otome games that I've seen is that the few that look good cost a lot of money and the few that are withing my price range are kind of hard to look at. So when I saw this game on sale for the ridiculously low price of $3 on Steam I bought it without thinking twice. I was psyched! Then, I played the game and saw the premise and got even more psyched!

Your character wakes up in a space between universes with her memories gone. They've been replaced by a rather friendly spirit who offers to help you get them back. This is all the prologue mind you; the game doesn't truly begin until you are given the choice to essentially choose your route/guy you would like to date.

This all happens in this weird purgatory and the different routes are presented as alternate universes. The game even explicitly mentions that you will see the same characters but their motivations and relationships with each other could be wildly different from what you might have seen in another universe. I thought this would be super interesting since your character is an amnesiac, there would be no way of actually knowing who you could and couldn't trust. Again, the game explicitly says not to let any one trick you into think they're your boyfriend or not to fall victim to a pyramid scheme.

The reality is that everyone else plays a similar role in each route and the only thing that changes is your character's relationships with everyone else. It seems like a waste of an otherwise interesting premise but I haven't seen every route so maybe there is something interesting that I just haven't seen. But to see that the only difference between the two routes I chose was that the protagonist was romantically involved with someone else is kind of a bummer.

The routes I've seen also have some... questionable content in them. Maybe problematic is a better word to use? One of the routes has your character end up in a dog cage and part of the good ending is the guy who puts you in there justifying it by saying that "It was for your own good!". It's very strange.

A part of me does want to go back and finish out the rest of it just to see what's there. Hopefully I'll like it more than the stuff I've already seen. I mean, I'm not a relationship expert but you probably shouldn't let the person you love put you in a cage without your consent. Right??

Tembo the Badass Elephant

Tembo is a very straightforward game. You run, you jump, you attack bad guys. That's kind of all there is to it, really!

Valkyria Chronicles

I was extremely anxious in the moments before I finally started playing Valkyria Chronicles. I bought around the time it first got ported to PC but never got around to playing it until recently. After I finished Sakura Wars I did a little bit of reading and discovered that the team who worked on that game would eventually go on to make Valkyria Chronicles.

So I was expecting something similar to it and was only met with disappointment. Don't get me wrong, this is a fine game but it's not at all what I was hoping it would be. The only similarities it shares with Sakura Wars is the combat system. The battles are a lot more tense in Valkyria Chronicles but the battles were also my least favorite part of Sakura Wars.

Even the soldiers you recruit in this game ended up being pretty disappointing too. I was initially very excited to see that every soldier was unique, had a little backstory written for them and that you could even bring their friends onto the battlefield so you can boost their morale. None of that stuff, most likely due to my own incompetence, ever really payed off either.

I'm not even totally against playing another game in this series. I already own 2, so I'm probably going to play that eventually.

It's just that seeing that this was the follow up to Sakura Wars, which ended up being one of my favorite games I've ever played, and it has very little in common with the game that preceded it. But maybe it's my fault for expecting it to in the first place?

Evoland & Evoland 2

I'm lumping these two together because I played them back to back and they're part of the same series. My thoughts on Evoland can also be summed up in a few a few sentences.

To put it simply, Evoland feels a lot like a game jam game. It originally began it's life as one and it shows. There's very little originality and even though it manages to emulate a few specific games (The Legend of Zelda, various Final Fantasies, Diablo) it's never a /good/ version of those games.

Evoland 2 though? It is such a better product. The gimmick remains the same, you'll experience various visual styles and gameplay changes but it's tied to a narrative in a plausible way. The places it goes are also kind of nuts! It's still fairly telegraphed but I still got really excited whenever a big gameplay change happened.

I don't want to say any more because I don't really want to spoil the surprise for you if you think it sounds interesting. It's a lot of fun, especially if you're familiar and a fan of all different types of games. It's not quite the playable plunderphonics I had hoped it would be but it's pretty darn close!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

For what may be the last Metal Gear game made by Kojima, The Phantom Pain plays like a dream. I've played through a fair number of MGS games recently and there were always neat gameplay interactions in them. But most of them were secrets, little bonuses that show that when the developers really did think of everything. TPP, being an open world game, is designed in such a way that it makes finding that stuff a lot more accessible. There are less restrictions and if you want to do something your way the game rarely does anything to stop you. And it's awesome!

But it feels like there's a distinct lack of the other thing that makes the series so special, the characters and story. The Phantom Pain definitely has it's moments but there's a lot of filler that doesn't add much to the overall narrative.

I also don't like the cassette tapes as a replacement for the codec, but I say that as someone who really likes the codec. I figured if anything on those cassettes was of any importance they would actually go through the trouble of forcing me listen to it, right? Unsurprisingly, there is a key moment where the game forces you to listen to a tape. It does take place in a cutscene but you do get a copy of the tape afterwards, so I guess I was only half-right.

I feel like I should have walked away from this game with nothing but great things to say about it but it's the only Metal Gear game I played where I spent a large portion of time actively disliking it.

I wanted to see it through to the end so I had to tolerate playing it and I was met with very little payoff.

Final Fantasy XIII-2

So, I really like FFXIII and knowing the series' history with direct sequels I wasn't going into this expecting much. I don't like XIII-2 nearly as much as I would have hoped.

There are certainly things to like about it though; The game opens up a lot earlier than XIII did. There are side quests and places to explore! But the side quests I found were mostly uninteresting fetch quests and the areas are small and recycled pretty often.

The combat is mostly the same but my options felt a lot more limited in XIII-2. The party members in XIII could utilize all 6 of the combat roles but they each had 3 roles that they specialized in. Serah and Noel can also use all six roles but they never felt like they were good at anything beyond their starting roles. I suppose your third party member, one of the various tameable monsters you fight, is supposed to make up for this but the creature raising never really clicked with me. The "aha!" moment I had with the combat in XIII never happened in this game. I certainly didn't struggle with it but I never felt like I was getting the most out of all the systems available.

Oh and the story is just such a mess. Time travel stories are by their very nature complex but XIII-2 is just unnecessarily convoluted. Every event seems to be explained away with the excuse of "Well, this person is also a time traveler!". It's really, really dumb and not the good type of dumb.

I should also mention Lightning who, despite being the most important character in this game, is barely present. I have a rather... irrational fondness for Lightning. I got a little teary eyed when she finally makes her appearance near the end. But it still feels kind of deceptive to put her all over the marketing only to have have her sister and some John Drake looking dude go off and play time janitor for most of the game.

Like I said, there's plenty of cool stuff about this game; the CINEMATIC ACTIONS are fun and the Paradox Endings seem interesting even if I didn't find a lot of them. The soundtrack is also exceptional; please listen to this Nu-Metal version of the chocobo theme and tell me it's not the best/worst thing you've ever heard. As cool as those things may be it's just quite enough to overshadow the things I dislike about it. I haven't bought it yet but Lighting Returns seems like it'd be something I really enjoy, if only for the amount of Lightning and the ability to change outfits.

Metal Slug X

Someone on my Steam friends list bought and gifted me a copy of this game over the Holiday Sale and I think I played and finished it the very same day. The Metal Slug games are pretty cool! They always have been and it's nice to confirm that they continue to look awesome and play like you'd expect them to.

3 will always be my favorite but X (which I recently found out is just a slightly updated version of 2) is alright too!

Undertale

I spent the first 30 minutes of my time playing Undertale trying to erase my save file so I could rename my character because I immediately thought of a better name after I started playing.

I never managed to figure out how to change my name.

Undertale is alright.

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I Finished 100 Games This Year (So Far), Let Me Tell You About It!

Sometime near the start of 2015, which kind of feels like a year ago at this point, I made a self declaration to complete 100 video games this year after seeing that I finished a little more than 50 in 2014. I've been keeping progress using this list that I made and adding games (and wiki entries) to it as I completed them.

I'm slightly proud to say that as of yesterday, November 27th, that I totally did complete 100 video games this year! But this isn't gonna be a write-up like that one I did about 4 months ago. That's coming later, probably around the end of December if I had to put a date on it, and I haven't even begun to start writing any of it. Instead this blog'll be about what it's like to play so many games back to back, how I went about choosing what to play, games I had to give up and some of the games that didn't quite grab me.

So in other words, this is the post-mortem!

First off, I'd like to answer the question that I assume would spring into most people minds if I were to tell them that I've finished 100 games this year and that's: "How did you find the time to do so?" Well it's pretty simple, I'm unemployed and I'm not currently enrolled in any kind of post-high school education. So naturally I've got a ton of time on my hands to do just about anything I'd like (within reason). But! I've also got a couple of illnesses that make it hard to do a lot of things because I feel like actual garbage because of them. I also rarely leave my house (because of said illnesses) and don't do much else on the days where I don't feel totally terrible other than play video games.

As much as I'd like to say playing games all the time is a blast, I honestly can't because games can be exhausting. Long games, difficult games of any length, bad games and even good games are all kind of tiring to play for extended periods of time whether it be a few hours, entire afternoons or short concentrated bursts. But, even though I found it to be kind of tiring and a little pointless at times I still think I had a lot of fun doing it. I genuinely love the medium and I probably wouldn't have tried to do something like this if I wasn't that into playing games anyway. If I were to do anything like this again next year, I'd like to try and get out of my comfort zone as much as possible. Try some stuff that I know very little to nothing about and experience things I haven't before. There were maybe a few instances where I looked into stuff I had no prior knowledge in but it felt like baby steps. Gotta learn to walk before you can run.

As mentioned previously, I tried to experience new things but I didn't try to exclude anything that I wanted to play that wasn't "different enough" (I actually did exclude quite a few things but more about that later!). So in January I took inventory and organized all my physical games and made a list on Steam of games that were finish-able that stood out as games I'd like to play sooner rather than later. It didn't prove to be helpful when it came to deciding what to play because looking at a long list of digital games and drawers filled with various handheld and console games I often found myself paralyzed with options.

It's a very first-world problem to have but problems are still problems! With so many games to choose from I found it hard to just pick a place to start and even when I managed to finish a game I often asked myself afterwards "Well, now what do I play?" In the end, I didn't really end up playing many of my physical games and the Steam games I did play weren't off the list I made (Here's a pastebin link to the link as it stands right now. Check it out!) I worked around the problem by setting tiny objectives for myself like trying to play every game I owned made by a certain developer or playing some games in a certain genre. You might notice those trends if you take a look at my list since it's ordered chronologically. I also tried to draw some inspiration from what other people on my friends list were playing or trying out games that were mentioned on the site recently.

Watching Metal Gear Scanlon led me to finally cracking open the MGS HD collection and even Vinny casually mentioning Lords of Shadow 2 on the Beastcast got me to play all the games in that series as well as Symphony of the Night. Also worth noting that only 2 of the 100 games I finished this year were games I've finished previously (Lisa and Remember Me in case you were wondering). So I think it's safe to say that I've succeeded in trying out "new" but not necessarily "different" games.

On the matter of exclusions and deciding what not to play; as one might expect, most of the games that a person can "finish" are usually single player experiences. There are plenty of co-op games that you can complete but I've pretty much written most of them off. My reasoning being that any game that was designed for co-op that you can be played by yourself probably isn't a game I'd be interested in playing by myself. That and the fact that there aren't many people I'd feel comfortable asking to play co-op games with me, locally or online.

Co-op games aren't the only multiplayer games I actively avoided either. There's quite a few multiplayer only games that came out this year that I steered clear of, namely Rocket League and Overwatch, because those aren't games you "finish". You can be finished with them (as in fed up and done) but there's no end-game to them so I kind of just ignored them even though they seem like a ton of fun. But now that I've already reached the 100 game finish line I feel very little compulsion to actually play any multiplayer games now. I couldn't play Overwatch even if I wanted to (I don't think I've been invited to the beta) and Rocket League just seems less and less interesting to me as time goes on. Feels like I might have written off multiplayer games entirely, which is a bummer because playing games with other people can be really fun!

Multiplayer games aren't the only games I ignored though, I also had to avoid going back to a couple of games due to DLC and updates for the sake of making progress. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth came out recently and it seems like a pretty good addition to Rebirth, which I played feverishly for about 100 hours on the week of it's launch and then proceeded to not play since then. I knew I'd want to play it if I was aware of even the tiniest bits of details about it so I kinda had to tune out to any kind of coverage of it. Lisa: The Joyful also came out and I've been psyched to play that ever since I interviewed the developer about it in April. I bought it but it's still sitting in my Steam inventory waiting to be activated. I'm looking forward to seeing what it's all about, whenever that may be.

Before I touch on the games that I put time to and didn't finish I'd like to touch on the games I played that I knew I couldn't finish. You could consider these palate cleansers that I got hooked onto between the story-focused games I spent the year playing.

I... somehow put about 50+ hours into TERA. The number of MMO's I've played is close to nil. Probably because I'm turned off by the social aspect of it and I just can't afford to pay subscription prices that most MMOs are locked behind. I mostly played the game when I wanted to listen to a podcast and on the channel(server?) with the least amount of people on it so I could enjoy being a cute bunny girl with a big ol' sword all by my lonesome. I stopped playing it around the time I hit level 40 or so when hitting the next level took noticeably longer to get to. Which was about 90+ minutes at that point.

I also fired up Skullgirls every time they added new characters to it. I like Beowulf but once people wised up to his tricks it got a lot harder to win with him because a lot of the people that are still playing Skullgirls are really good at it. A lot better than me at least, but I feel like I really started to get a good grasp on the mechanics and eventually found my main when I started practicing Double. I switched over to Robo-Fortune once she got released and she's actually super fun to play but I eventually drifted away from the game because again, everyone that's still playing that game (on the PC anyway) is really, really good. I may have put about 100 hours into it this year which is a bit kind of unbelievable.

Similarly, I also put some hard time into Rising Thunder when that first came out and found it to be pretty fun. I played a lot of Vlad because he seemed pretty cool (and he is!). I didn't have trouble with most of the match-ups either except for Vlad mirrors because every other person that was playing Vlad actually practiced combos and knew how to do them. I also tried playing Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round but since I'm not too familiar with 3D fighting games I spent most of my time in the training modes trying to get a feel for it. I'm pretty sure it still haven't clicked with me yet but I'm hoping I understand it eventually. I do like doing combo throws though, that's real fun!

And finally here's the hall of shame, the games I put serious time to put didn't finish for various reasons. I tried my hardest to finish every game I seriously played ("seriously played" meaning putting about 3+ hours into it) this year but unfortunately that just didn't happen. Keep in mind, these are also the games that I actually remember not finishing. There's also a handful of games (mostly PS2 JRPGs) that I tried for about 30 minutes before deciding that I wasn't really interested in playing them at the moment. I'd disclose those games to anyone who wants to know what they are but it's a bit too long of a list to actually recall at the time.

Enough with the introduction, here's the games I feel kind of bad about not finishing!

IDOLM@STER SP: Perfect Sun

Early on in the year, let's say starting somewhere around February, I fell into a deep, deep idol filled hole. I got really into the 2 IM@S mobile games; Million Live! and Cinderella Girls. Not necessarily playing them (because they aren't available in English and I just don't want to deal with proxies to try and play them) but just looking at the art, listening to the music and following the in-game events and news. I was very much in the mood to actually get my hands on an IM@S game and play it and since I don't own a PS3 my closest options were the SHINY FESTA games and the SP games, both of which are on the PSP. It took a couple months but eventually got around to buying them (and a couple of figures too.) and once they got arrived I got right into playing them. I really like the SHINY FESTA games (I bought all 3 of them) they're rhythm games that are pretty similar to those Project Diva games and I also like what I played of Perfect Sun.

But the reason I'm talking about it here is because it's kind of... stressful. Maybe stressful isn't the right word to use. It's just a real bummer to fail in that game. Whether it's saying the wrong thing during conversation event or just screwing up one of the training mini-games failing always made me just feel real bad. I failed one of the later auditions and it kinda drained all the enthusiasm I had for playing it. I just couldn't deal with losing and decided to stop playing.

Odin Sphere

Of all the beat'em up's/brawlers I played this year Odin Sphere was probably the best of the bunch. It's more fully realized than any of the other games in the genre that I played this year and it also looks real nice. I stopped playing after I finished the Gwendolyn's story and took a break from it since and just haven't gotten around to playing it again. I think there's at least 3 more characters to play as until I've actually "finished" it but I felt like I was kinda done after playing just one of them. There's an HD remake coming out for it in January which is tempting me to get back into but I'm not certain if I will or not.

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed

I sorta put the nail in the coffin on this one after I replayed the first few hours of this for whatever reason. Steam says I've only put 8 hours into it but I certainly remember putting a lot more time into it than that. The silly premise seems totally up my alley and I don't remember disliking the gameplay so I'm not against giving this another shot sometime.

Mugen Souls

I bought the PC port for this when it first came out and I found the opening parts to be really, really boring. There's a lot of interesting mechanics in Mugen Souls but the combat was just a little too easy for me to get into it. The English voice acting and translation also seemed kind of bad too but not in an enjoyable way either. I just found it be kind of... poor.

I only got so far as the second world before I decided to stop playing.

Planetary Annihilation

I've never played a true RTS before, over 900 hours of Dota 2 but I realize they're hardly the same kind of beast. Planetary Annihilation seemed kind of cool, but at a certain point anytime I played a game that had more than 3 factions in it and one of the commanders died the game just locked up.

So I can't really go back to this one even if I wanted to. Maybe I'll try it again if/when I get a better computer but until then this one's a no-go.

Final Fantasy XIII-2

I started this immediately after I finished XIII and... I didn't really get into it. I probably would've powered through it but the performance on PC is less than ideal. It runs about 30-ish at the best of times and hits the low 20's when things get intense. Everywhere I've looked people seemed to be getting similar performance out of it so I'm guessing it's just a bad port and not my machine, which is a bummer.

But... Lightning Returns is coming to the PC soon and I kinda want to finish XIII-2 before that comes out. Oh and before I forget, the future-man who serves as you second party member kind of looks like John T. Drake to me and I found it be really distracting.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

I started this after I finished MGS3 and was actually really enjoying it. The TV I was using to play it on, however, decided to stop working around the time I was getting really into it. I tried to finish playing it on one of the many CRTs I've got around my house but I couldn't deal with looking at all the unreadable text.

Eventually, I gave in and just watched the Metal Gear Scanlon special on it instead.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This one hurts the most. Because it's such a fun game to play, I've put about 50 hours into it after all. I think the distance between what I felt like was big story stuff is what lead me to drift away from TPP. That, and the real-time deployment missions kind of provided an excuse for me to not actually play the game. I could just check back in a few days, collect my rewards and start some new deployments. I've fired it up a few times to do that but I haven't seriously played it since late September.

I definitely want to get through soon it since I'd rather not be spoiled when I listen to the GOTY deliberations that are coming up.

I'm almost certain that there's some aspect to this whole thing I forgot to mention and I don't mind answering a few questions about this little exercise if you read this far and have any. I'm not even close to finished playing games this year though. I'm determined to see some more routes/endings in Amnesia: Memories and there's a grip of visual novels I'd like to check out. There's still a few days left in November and the entirety of December left for me to play a good amount of stuff. Whether it's releases I missed (Undertale, Her Story and Cibele are some immediate standouts that spring to mind) or old stuff I just want to check in on.

2015 ain't over yet and I'm probably gonna keep playing games unless I decide to travel for the holidays. I've also got to get started on Game of the Year lists and that write-up I mentioned at the top of this. It's going to a little tough to balance writing stuff and playing but I'm looking forward to getting my thoughts written down and readable!

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I'm Trying To Finish 100 Games This Year (Here's How I'm Doing So Far)

At the start of this year I made 2 resolutions. Those resolutions were: Stop buying so many video games and Finish at least 100 games by the end of the year. Let's sweep that first one under the rug, because I still haven't learned how to spend my money wisely, and focus on the second. 100 games. That's a lot of games.

I was inspired by fellow duder @slag's attempt at doing the same last year as well as what appeared to be a worrisome trend of me buying a ton of games and then proceeding to not play them. I figured that since I have way more free time than I should at this point in my life that I could probably get it done.

It's the start of July and with 6 months, or 181 days, behind us I've currently finished 43 games. Most of which I've never played before but there are a couple of games that I've played, and in some cases finished, at least once before. The point of this thing isn't really to just finish 100 games I've played before but to experience some new stuff, which I've been pretty good about doing so far. In the event that I do end up replaying something, I'll only include it as part of the 100 if I finish it on a harder difficulty or 100% it.

Speaking of which, my general rules for what counts as "finishing a game" are: finish the story mode or finish all the levels. Basically anything that'll cause the credits to roll counts as finishing a game.

I've been keeping track of what games I've been finishing via this list on giantbomb.com, this blog post will pretty much be some expanded thoughts of the games I've played so far but sometimes I won't have anything else to say about a game other than "Yo it's pretty good". So if you don't feel like reading all the stuff I've written here then maybe you should just give that list a little look-over instead.

With all of that out of the way, let me tell you a thing or two about the 40-odd games I've played in the past six months!

January

Lisa

This was my game of the year for 2014 and I've played this game about... 5 times since 2015 started.

I'm not gonna say much else about this game because I've said so much already but you should totally watch this interview I did with the developer for GBCER5 (Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run, in case you didn't know). You should also get used to seeing that initialism because you're going to see it a few more time throughout this thing.

DmC Devil May Cry

I'm not too familiar with the other entries of the Devil May Cry series. Despite owning them all I can't really say I've actually played any of them.

I did find DmC to be pretty enjoyable though. I totally wouldn't mind if there was a sequel to this, especially if they manage to do more stuff similar to the nightclub level.

Shovel Knight

I'm sure everyone told you how awesome Shovel Knight was last year, well I'm here to also tell you that it's pretty good.

The era that it draws it's inspiration from is definitely before my time (the Nintendo console I look back on fondly is the Gamecube) but as someone who's definitely played a MegaMan game before I can tell you that yes, those games are kind of similar to Shovel Knight.

Fotonica

If you've felt like games don't let you move fast enough nowadays, then you should probably check out that Rise of the Triad remake. After you do that you should definitely check out Fotonica because man this game let's you get real fast!

Once you get the hang of timing your jumps correctly and you get some good speed going this game is an absolute blast. It's also extremely soul-crushing when you mess up a jump by a fraction of a second and end up smashing your head onto the next platform and fall into the abyss.

But yeah, real fun once you get the hang of things.

Super Time Force

I'll be honest, I don't remember much about this game. I do remember having a good time with it but I'm drawing a blank when it comes to the specifics.

Rayman Origins

I'm sure you've heard already but this game's pretty good. I'm looking forward to playing Legends even if it is more Origins, I gotta get my didgeridoo fix somehow.

Aces Wild: Manic Brawling Action!

Aces Wild is a brawler where most of the action takes place in mid-air because most of the enemies are there and you can pretty much fly in this game. Well, you're actually just chaining dashes, dodges and jumps into your combos so you can move about the screen more efficiently. It's key to do so because there tend to be a lot of enemies on the screen who also happen to shoot projectiles at you much like a bullet hell game.

It's also worth noting that you can cancel any move into any other move in Aces Wild. So once you figure out how to time your dodges correctly you can basically never get hit as you're gliding across the screen, dodging bullets and KO-ing enemies which then ricochet into other enemies provided you hit them hard enough.

So yeah, this game is pretty wild. I recommend you play it BUT if you do, you should definitely play as not-Terry Bogard because he wields a sword with some ridiculous reach on it.

//N.P.P.D. RUSH//- The milk of Ultraviolet

So, the thing about N.P.P.D. RUSH is that you can beat it in under 5 minutes. Which I've done about 20+ times because I got really into speedrunning this for a bit.

The game is a twin stick shooter with a crazy premise (you're a limbless cop piloting a super-bike rescuing drug junkies) that reminds me of the kind of stories that you'd see in early 80's arcade games. There's also a shop where you can buy a better gun, add more time to your timer and more health. Oh, and you can sell your organs (which causes you to take more damage periodically) for a bunch of money.

It's got a certain charm to it, it feels kind of dated but in a good way. I think it's a neat little thing.

Life Is Strange

I've been keeping my eye on this one since it was announced because I loved Remember Me and oh man I really like that game I hope if I buy all of DONTNOD's games they'll somehow be able to get a sequel greenlit C'MON WHAT'S A PERSON GOTTA DO TO TURN THEIR DREAM INTO A REALITY.

As it turns out, Life is Strange is pretty good, the atmosphere has a certain sense of comfiness to it that I don't think I've seen in a game before.

I've only played the first episode but if the remaining episodes get released on time then the first season should be completed by the end of the year. I'll probably get around to playing them then.

FEBRUARY

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I had no real knowledge of "Metal Gear" before playing this (I still don't) but if they're all as over-the-top like this then maybe I've got a series to get into. I mean, I do own 4 other Metal Gear games I could play and if they all allow me to do absurd things like fight a US president in a mariachi outfit then I'm all in.

Oh, and I should also mention that I did play this twice this year. Once for fun and again for GBCER5.

Strider

I always knew Strider as the ninja from MvC2 with the robot panther but after playing this remake (reboot?) he will always be known as the ninja from MvC2 with the robot EAGLE.

Seriously, that eagle was a life saver during boss fights.

Zeno Clash

Much like Mirror's Edge, Zeno Clash also features fun first-person combat. It also features guns but unlike Mirror's Edge, the guns are good in this game. TOO GOOD.

So good, in fact, that you're never given a reason not to use them instead of the melee which, I feel, is the focal point of the combat. You're actually kind of forced to use them because the enemies will pick up guns and shoot you, which gets real annoying when you're fighting big groups of guys.

I've heard the sequel does the melee combat a bit better, which is good, and has an even crazier story, which is also pretty good.

Freedom Planet

Hey guys, I'm a Sonic fan. Sonic Adventure 2 is my favorite Sonic game and I thought Sonic Generations was ok.

If you've got a hankering to play a game that wishes to recreate the Blue Blur's glory days then this is the game for you! I'm even gonna take it a bit further. if you've enjoyed ANY game that's been on a Sega console then Freedom Planet is for you!

Gunstar Heroes? Ristar? Dynamite Headdy? Cool Spot? Freedom Planet is SORT OF like all of those games AND it's good!

MARCH

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

Everywhere I've looked where someone was expressing an opinion on Hotline Miami 2 I saw either lukewarm acceptance or severe disappointment. I feel like I'm in the minority of people who like HM2 and think it's better than the first.

I suppose I only think so because the soundtrack is so good this time around and the story is presented in a way that I could understand it, if that was something I was interested in.

Another thing that I really appreciated is that it certainly feels like the levels were specifically designed to be played with the song that plays during said level. Either that or they did a really good job picking out the songs used for the game. It lead to several moments while I was playing where even though I was continuously failing and retrying a level, the extremely loud and pulsating music sort of kept me in an elevated state. I think it also helps that you only hear each song once in HM2 as opposed to hearing the same (good) songs multiple times over the course of the original.

Maybe my memory is muddled and the original is obviously superior and I just forgot, but as of right now Hotline 2 IS MY JAM.

Volgarr the Viking

Not much I'd care to say about Volgarr as it's a pretty straightforward game. I will say that I might have had a bit of an advantage having seen the Breaking Brad of this game so I've already seen what this game was going to throw at me.

Duke Nukem 3D

90's FPS's are a definite sore spot in my gaming repertoire, so I thought I'd try and fix that with good old Duke. The Megaton edition on Steam is a great version to play if you've never played a shooter of the era or if you're coming back to it as there are a ton of options.

You can enable vertical mouse look if you want and at some point I'm pretty sure I was playing with my 360 controller at some point. Game still holds up too, which is nice.

APRIL

Dyscourse

I had planned on playing through this game at least twice before I felt comfortable saying anything about how I felt about it. Unfortunately, I've only finished it once so I can't really say how good Dyscourse is when it comes to how varied one's experience might be.

I will say that I got my copy of this game from a box of Settlers of Catan and that was pretty rad.

Uriel's Chasm

If you didn't know, Uriel's Chasm is considered the worst game on Steam according to user reviews. The game isn't even that bad, people on the internet just tend to be a bit hyperbolic.

It's not a great game, but it's hardly the worst. If you would like to hear some more of my totally unbiased opinions on this game then you should watch this interview I did with the developer for GBCER5!

Remember Me

The first game on this list that I've put hear because I replayed it this year for GBCER5. I really, really like Remember Me. It does a lot of pretty cool things, some of which it does pretty well and some things it does not so well.

I'd like to see some of the mechanics expanded upon in perhaps a sequel or someone could just steal them and make them a bit better. That'd be pretty cool too.

Killer is Dead

If there's one developer I look to when I want a game with a ridiculous premise, it's Grasshopper Manufacture. Suda51's special brand of weirdness is right up my alley and KiD is up there when it comes some his studios best work.

The drawback, however, is that most of the time the average person would be better off simply watching the game's story unfold than play it themselves. I don't mind but there are definitely people out there who do.

The gameplay isn't terrible, but it doesn't do much to try and switch it up a bit. So if you're willing to play through it you'll probably get your money's worth. There's one part specifically that once I saw it I literally couldn't believe it was happening. I'm talking "put the controller down and go take a walk" kind of bewilderment.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

My first real foray into the Metal Gear series came in the form of Ground Zeroes, the prelude to The Phantom Pain. I'm unsure where hardcore Metal Gear fans (Gearheads, I think they're called) rate Ground Zeroes among the other entries but I sure thought it was pretty swell for what it is.

If The Phantom Pain really is just bigger Ground Zeroes then I'm all aboard the hype train.

Nuclear Throne

Maybe Nuclear Throne gets placed on this list on a technicality because a) it's still in Early Access and b) you can't really beat this game.

You see, much like real life, in Nuclear Throne death is the only way out. I count it as finished because I have looped (finished every level and reset the game) multiple times which is about as close as one gets to completing Nuclear Throne.

Shadows of the Damned

Another Suda game! If you've read this far then you already know how I feel about this game. I'm going to spoil it for you, I like it a lot and it's a pretty good game.

Borderlands 2

I think I've started playing, stopped playing and restarted Borderlands 3 or 4 times before I decided to not do that ever again and finish this game. I'd say this might be the only game on this list that I'm not totally positive about. The loot aspect of the game, as I've come to learn, is basically pointless at higher levels.

There's essentially a core group of guns that are essential for your character if you want to do anything post-game. It's kind of antithetical to the whole "we've got a bazillion guns!" marketing thing they boasted. I suppose that's not necessarily the fault of the developer's that the community "figured it out" so I won't blame them for that.

I will blame them for the writing and characters though but in the same breath I will also praise them for the Tiny Tina DLC, which is really good.

All that being said, I'm probably going to finish the rest of the DLC stuff I bought for this game. Why? Well, sometimes people just want to do something to take their minds off of something else and Borderlands fills that hole for me.

Peggle

I ain't got nothing to say about Peggle.

MAY

Bastion

A fantastic game, not much else I can really add to the conversation. Although...

Transistor

If you were to ask me which Supergiant Games game I enjoyed the most my answer would be Transistor.

Both are top-notch games but Transistor's setting and atmosphere are what make is stand out for me.

Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge is really cool.

Bejeweled 3

This classic match 3/time killer has a quest mode. It's not that good.

Crimsonland

The campaign isn't the mode you should be buying and playing this game for. It is a necessary evil that must be carried out if you want to unlock any perks and weapons for the survival mode. It's serviceable but nothing to write home about (the campaign, not the game).

Wizorb

I'm kinda torn on Wizorb. On one hand, it's Breakout with magic so you can just throw fireballs at bricks until you win. On the other hand, you're still playing Breakout so you're inevitably going to end up in a situation where the ball will literally cover every part of the screen except the area where THAT ONE BRICK is hiding.

Luckily the game has a system built-in to give you mana if you're stuck doing the Devil's Dance but by the time it kicks in I'm willing to bet that your block breaking groove has already run out.

JUNE

Iron Brigade

Ah, Brad Muir's Trenched! I mean, Iron Brigade! I've been entertaining the idea that if there should ever be a sequel to this it should be about planes with arms. Imagine a regular dog fighting game but you can also just punch your enemies if you got close enough. You know what? Might as well go full Road Rash and give those planes chains. Now that'd be a video game.

Oh, and for what it's worth I do think this is Double Fine's best game.

Shadow Warrior

I wasn't really sure what I was expecting when I started playing this but I really enjoyed my time with it by the end of the game. The swordplay is a lot of fun and some of the later guns are equally as fun especially when you upgrade.

I also found the story of demon familial drama that's presented in the motion comic sequences to be really cool. I'm not too keen on Lo Wang asking me if I wanted some wang though.

Other than that, it's a very solid game. I hope that sequel they're making is alright.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Hell Yeah! is a charming game with a couple of flaws. The WarioWare-esque micro games you play when you defeat the main enemies are cool when you first see them but they do repeat pretty often so that initial wow-factor does wear off.

There's also an underutilized mechanic where you can make your defeated enemies work for you and get you bonuses. You do have to access it by completely leaving the main game and selecting a different menu option AND it takes quite a while for you to actually get anything from it. I only managed to get one bonus from it over the course of the game despite checking on it every 30 minutes. So yeah, it's not without it's issues but it's still pretty good.

Doom

You probably knew this already, but Doom still holds up.

The game starts with moving forward and back bound to moving the mouse in the respective directions which is a really weird control scheme! I refuse to believe that anyone's ever decided to play Doom with that enabled and also had a good time playing it.

I guess the 90's were just a different time...

Rhythm Tengoku

I've played so, so much of this game but apparently I've never actually finished it up until recently. I was just casually playing it and I ended up unlocking the final remix (which I had never seen before) and finished the game?

Every single Rhythm Heaven game is great but this one is without a doubt my favorite.

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

After playing through the nonchalant absurdity that is D4, I can confidently say that it's one of my favorite games that I've played this year. It plays well using a mouse considering it was meant to be played with a Kinect. There were even a couple of times during when I wished I had one just to see what kind of weird gestures the game would have me do.

It's also really on point with the character interactions. It's the right mix of nonsense (which nobody ever seems to acknowledge) and idle chit-chat.

1001 Spikes

If a game wants you to die and retry as many times as possible every death should be the fault of the player and not the game. 1001 Spikes is like that for the most part with the exception of two levels where I ended up dying 300+ times compared to the 10-40 times I died on most of the levels.

When I did end up finishing those levels it felt like I got lucky instead of actually playing well well. It leaves you with the kind of relief where you're glad you got it done because you never want to do it again.

Still, that's only two levels out of the 30+ in the main game mode. 1001 Spikes is an expertly made game in every aspect but those low notes did stick with me.

Resident Evil: Revelations

I liked this game and I say that as someone who has never played a Resident Evil game before, so I could be totally wrong about my enjoyment of this game.

I have no idea how it ties in or compares to other entries but I had a good time playing it and the story wasn't too hard to understand.

The whole "episodic" structure is a bit odd but it makes sense when you consider that it was originally a handheld game (I played the HD version on PC). Raid mode is a lot of fun too.

Final Fantasy III

FFIII is my favorite in the series and it is also, coincidentally, my favorite dress up game. The job system is pretty much all this game's got going for it so it's a good thing it's a lot of fun to mess with.

Please, Don’t Touch Anything

This game's a fun little puzzle box with a neat presentation and some clever tricks. You can solve all of the puzzles (with the exception of one that requires some outside knowledge) by yourself and without a guide since most the clues are immediately visible once you start the game. It's nice little thing to sit down with for a couple of hours so you can try and figure it out.

Grow Home

It's been a while since I played a 3D platformer and Grow Home is a delightful little game that helped remind me why I enjoy the genre so much.

The climbing controls are very intuitive because once you get your hands on it climbing becomes second nature immediately. Making BUD walk though is another story...

You see, you don't tell BUD where to go in this game. You do not control BUD. You simply suggest what direction he should travel in. For the most part, he tends to go where you want him to, but if you want to traverse any sort of incline then you'd better get to climbing.

In the time it takes to read this sentence BUD has already tripped and is now falling towards the planet's surface. Now I'm not complaining, I think the wonky movement in Grow Home adds a bit more to it. I mean, I did laugh every time he wandered to close to an edge and just took a dive right off of it. It moments like those that make the game a little bit more memorable.

Dishonored

I think Dishonored is a great game, which isn't a controversial thing to say in the slightest. I do find it a bit funny though because the first time I tried playing it I didn't even get past the tutorial before I decided I wasn't into it and returned the game. I'm not sure why I felt that way at the time and I'm not sure what happened in the 2 year interim period to make me change my tune either.

I played through the game on Hard and managed to not kill a single person over the course of the game, which was very rewarding but also kind of strangely easy. I realize that they wanted to make every angle of approach viable but I felt like stealth and the non-lethal method of dispatching targets, because it was so highly incentivized, was what I was "supposed" to do.

I'll definitely go back to this at some point just to mess around with it (and finish the DLC) but I'm really glad I gave Dishonored a second chance.

---

So, what's next for me as far as staying on track with this whole "finish 100 games thing"? Well, I crunched some numbers and it looks like I'd have to finish 9.5 games each month to get to 100 by the end of the year. As for what I'll be playing, I did start Alien: Isolation a few days ago and I bought like 30 games in the recent Steam sale. There's also a few games that I've started but have yet to finish; Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed, Odin Sphere and Neverending Nightmares are a couple that immediately come to mind. I've also been buying almost every visual novel that's popped up on Steam (I thought it would be a fun goof) and I've yet to get into any of those.

I'm definitely going to do another one of these write ups at the end of the year though whether or not I reach my goal. Here's hoping I don't totally burn out by then!

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The December Rush Week 4 + 0.5

Week 4!(?) A little late, I suppose but can you blame me? The year is basically over at the time of me writing this and people have been busy, myself included! I made a GotY list and I played some video games in between my family's standard holiday celebrations. I managed to finish a whopping 2 games in the past week and a half! Bringing my grand total amount of games finished this month to 16! Remember when your elementary school teacher/parents said you could do anything if you set your mind to it?

This is exactly what they were talking about.

Game 15: Project Temporality

Time to completion: 5 hours

Project Temporality was described to me as Portal but with clones instead of portals.

I realize now after playing it that it was not a literal comparison but rather, a reductive way of describing a game with another game. In Project Temporality you have 2 somewhat (but not really) novel abilities. You can rewind time as much as you want and you can make up to 11 different timelines, including the one you currently occupy.

Creating a new timeline will make a clone of yourself that will perform the actions you did before you created the new timeline. For example, if you walk on a switch and rewind to create a new timeline and walk onto the switch while you are free to do something else.

Naturally, the first thing I did when given the opportunity was create a bunch of really blurry clones.
Naturally, the first thing I did when given the opportunity was create a bunch of really blurry clones.

Speaking of switches, there sure are a lot of them in this game! Most of the puzzles consist of making clones and having them stand on switches. There's also other puzzle elements including: lasers, moving platforms, holographic keys and... that's about it actually.

Game's pretty short, there are only 14 levels. It's also pretty easy, I've played at least 2 puzzle games this month and this one is without a doubt, the easiest one. Although, there are plenty of bugs in this game that despite it's easiness made this game pretty frustrating. For starters, your character tends to get caught on a lot of invisible walls when you walk too close to any object or a ledge. It's a minor annoyance but it kinda sucks when you're trying to jump across a gap and you just stop moving mid-air because you jumped a little too late. Also, 20% of the time the game just doesn't recognize when you or a clone is stepping onto a switch, when a majority of your gameplay revolves around you doing a thing it should probably work when you try to do that thing.

This game's not bad but at $15 it's hard to recommend because you can do so much better for the same price. If it's on sale or something, go nuts!

Game 16: The Fall

Time to completion: 2.5 hours

I managed to play The Fall maybe a day before Giant Bomb put out their deliberations podcasts where they talk up (and really spoil) this gem of a game. I was hesitant to play it at first because I heard it was the first in a trilogy and I prefer to play episodic games once every part is out (which is the only thing keeping me from buying Kentucky Route Zero) but man, this game ends on such a strong note that I could not be more excited to see how this story continues. I was too caught up in the game to take any screenshots during so maybe you should just check out this quick look instead:

But wait, there's more!

I'm not gonna leave you hanging with just 2 games to talk about! I have been playing some other things, games you can't quite finish per say, let me tell ya about 'em!

Ultra Street Fighter IV

I looooooove fighting games. Even though I'm not particularly well at any of them, I'll still happily play any kind without hesitation. Skullgirls has been my go-to since it came out on PC and I haven't touched an iteration of SFIV since Arcade Edition in 2012(?). As it turns out, I got a lot better! My hours of casual Skullgirls play and tourney spectating has somehow allowed me to absorb some knowledge about the more subtle mechanics that I didn't even think I knew about. I mean, I'm still not great but being able to get through most of the trials with no trouble seems like progress to me!

And through the magic of mods it let's me play as Bayonetta without a Wii U, so this game's alright by me!
And through the magic of mods it let's me play as Bayonetta without a Wii U, so this game's alright by me!

Lethal League

I played the web version/prototype of Lethal League whenever that came out (I think it predates Reptile's first commercial game Megabyte Punch, for reference's sake) and I thought that was pretty cool. When I heard they were making an enhanced version I was stoked but I had no idea.

It looks just like the original, but a bit sharper and with more characters and it doesn't seem to suffer from what Divekick did when it added all of it's meta-mechanics. There are no match-ups to worry about, each character has their quirks but the differences aren't vast enough for someone who doesn't know what they are to be concerned about.

Maybe I say that with a bit of bias as someone who's seen so much of this game for the past 5 or so months but I feel like Lethal League just excels in almost every category. It plays so well, it does online the best out of all the new wave of local-multiplayer indie things. It's absolutely not perfect and it's straight up broken sometimes but when it works it's almost like you aren't playing it online.

Did I mention the soundtrack? It's pretty great. You should really listen to the soundtrack you guys. Seriously.

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The December Rush: Week 3

Week 3! The holidays are drawing near and it's basically cram time for me. I've got to try hard to resist the siren call of the many digital sales going on right now and finish what I've already got on my plate!

With that out of the way here are the games!

Game 10: Trace Vector

Time to completion: 2 hours.

I'm not 100% sure what genre Trace Vector falls under but the closest thing it resembles is the endless runner. You never stop moving and you have to focus on changing lanes to collect fuel (so you can keep moving) and avoiding dead ends and obstacles all while going really, really fast.

There are two modes in this game, Adventure and Endless mode. Endless is all you really need in a game like this, but Adventure mode is pretty cool too. In Adventure mode, you play as a pilot named Jason along with the AI on his ship, named Aurora, hitchhiking across the galaxy in search of a way back to Earth. It gets pretty hard and it has some elements that aren't in the endless mode, like teleporters and adversarial pong paddles.

It's hard to capture this game in action, so check out this block breaker easter egg!
It's hard to capture this game in action, so check out this block breaker easter egg!

Endless mode is about what you'd expect, randomly generated paths that require you to think on your feet as the game gets increasingly faster and faster. It's pretty much perfect except there are no online leaderboards! The high score screen at the end of every run always ends up looking like you're playing this game in a deserted arcade.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the soundtrack in this game, most of which you can hear over the course of the story. It's seriously some of the best stuff of it's caliber I've ever heard in a video game.

Game 11: Card City Nights

Time to completion: 8 hours.

Card City Nights is a single player collectible card game made by Ludosity, the makers of fine video game products such as Ittle Dew, Space Hunk and many other smaller, lesser known titles. It takes place in the town your character just moved to where everyone and their pet Fishbun is playing some sort of card game. It's decided for your character that they're going to aim to get the 1 million coin prize that's awarded to the best card game player in town. Along the way you'll battle against a variety of characters from the surprisingly large catalgue of Ludosity games, also they've all got Persona 4 secondary character naming conventions such as; Excitable Student, Business Casual Man and Fiery Woman. The writing is also really well done and pretty funny too! Very charming, much like that other game they did.

Your rival throughout the game, Little Dude
Your rival throughout the game, Little Dude

The actual card game itself is actually pretty fun! Each turn, you and your opponent take turns placing cards on your 3x3 board. Each card has arrows on any of the 4 sides or corners and either an attack; defense, neutral or revive icon on it as well as an effect. You play cards in order to connect the arrows and match the icons on said cards. When you connect 3 icons of any type, the icons you matched the most of activate (so if you match 2 attack with 1 defense your combo will attack the enemy).

It sounds somewhat complicated on paper, but what card game doesn't? It's practically second nature once you play a game or two. There's tons of strategies available for you to use once you get some good cards, many of the opponents you face will use very specific methods in order to win such as constantly increasing their health and defense or extreme rushdown tactics. Personally, I made my way through the game using an all offense deck based around the HYPE SNAKE (which is kind of really broken). I could pretty much win against any of the AI without much hassle once I perfected it.

The deck that carried me throughout the game (on the right side).
The deck that carried me throughout the game (on the right side).

I have virtually no problems with this game except for the fact that it suffers some shortcomings because it was made for touch based platforms (the game at one points asks you to swipe something across the screen). Other than that, this game's pretty dope! I don't imagine many people have played it though, which is a shame!

Game 12: Princess Remedy

Time to completion: 40 minutes.

Princess Remedy is one of the 6 or so games to come out of the recent Games Against Ebola game jam. The other games haven't been released to the public but fortunately for you and I, the boys at Ludosity have released it for free!

The game puts you in the role of the titular Princess Remedy, who has been sent on a mission from her home planet of Saturn to heal all the sick people in Hurtland! The various peoples of Hurtland have many ailments, ranging from sick burns to an actual lack of a body. What I'm getting at is that it's a Ludosity game. It's got their trademark silly writing and some cameos from a couple of their other games too.

Off you go Princess!
Off you go Princess!

I don't know what this looks like to you, but I'm totally healing someone right now!
I don't know what this looks like to you, but I'm totally healing someone right now!

Despite being made in less than 4 days the game has some solid gameplay. When you heal people you go inside their bodies(?) and blast their troubles away with your Saturnian healing magic. You're constantly shooting, so you only need to focus on dodging enemies and their bullets. After you heal someone you get a heart, which increases your max health in healing mode and are also used to unlock doors to other areas. There are also other upgrades you can find in the overworld that increase your damage, the number of shots you shoot, health regen and the amount of flasks (bombs) you can carry.

Oh, and at the end of the game you are given the option to literally marry anyone you've healed over the course of the game. It comes straight out of left-field but it's still a neat addition since there are about 30+ characters to choose from. That's like 30 different endings! I kinda wish they would expand this game into something longer, I love everything about this game. I'm 1000% sure they probably won't but I can dream can't I?

Game 13: LISA

Time to completion: 12 hours (first playthrough), 6 hours (second playthrough).

Man, I don't even know where to start with this one. I was hoping to wrote a review for this at some point, and I probably will, but I forgot I was even doing this blog so I guess I'll tell you a thing or two about LISA.

There's a lot of weird stuff going on in LISA, including this art exhibit(?).
There's a lot of weird stuff going on in LISA, including this art exhibit(?).

I suppose I can start by saying that I pretty much love everything this game has going for it. Every single thing a great game should have; a compelling story, engaging gameplay, entertaining characters, interesting setting, LISA hits every single one of those things almost perfectly for me. It's the kind of game I would hope to one day make if I had the patience and talent required to make a video game by my lonesome.

In addition to that, it's also got some really cool gameplay ideas that I don't think I've ever seen in a game before. There are very few "safe" options in LISA, meaning there is almost always a chance for a negative consequence to whatever you do. Sometimes the game tells you straight out; choose between the life of one of your party members or give someone all of your money. Other times it forces these situations on you to prevent you from getting too comfortable. There are even times where bosses will straight up kill your party members. I'm not even talking about "Aw man, now I gotta revive him" I'm talking about Sephiroth stabbing Aerith through the torso kind of kill. When your party members die they are dead, it can even happen outside of battle too which make almost every interaction a matter of life or death.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things just end up in a bad place.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things just end up in a bad place.

Luckily, there are 30 party member in the game but a lot of them are missable or even almost not worth the trouble of risking yourself to get them. There's also nothing stopping you from save-scumming the hell out of the game (which I don't recommend, by the way) but man, playing through this for the first time when I barely understood anything was such a great experience even going through it again once I thought I figured everything out was still fun.

There's also so much more I'd like to say about this game but I'd end up making this blog longer than it has any right be. I don't know if I'm actually going to write a review, but I will be editing the wiki page for this game into something presentable.

Game 14: Dungeon of the Endless

Time to first win: 9 hours.

Technically, you don't every truly finish any rogue-like game until you 100% it. Dungeon of the Endless is exactly one of those games, it's so mechanics-heavy and with so many modes and characters to choose from it'll probably be a good long while before I end up "finishing" it. I did however end up winning a run recently and man, let me tell ya. This game is tough.

My first victory, and to think it only took me 3 hours!
My first victory, and to think it only took me 3 hours!

For starter's there a lot going on mechanically; DotE is basically a tower defense game with rogue-like elements and resource management. You control up to four characters who are essentially your towers. You can move them about the dungeon to fight enemies and find resources, items, shops and ultimately the elevator to the next floor. Your resources are food (used to heal your characters when they're fighting and level them up), industry (used to build structures that generate resources and defenses), dust (a finite resource that is used to light up rooms to stop enemies from spawning and power your structures) and science (used to research new and better structures).

To leave the floor you have to carry your crystal (your "base", the thing the enemies want to destroy in every tower defense game) to the elevator while fighting off the enemies that will endlessly spawn from any unlit rooms on the floor.

There's also a ton of stuff that would take way too long to explain (character relationships, skills, random events, equipable items). This game has a lot of meat to it and I can't wait to get really into it. I've been keeping an eye on this game ever since it entered Early Access a while back, I held of buying it until it was finished though. It's good to see it turned out great!

I leave you with this image of a pug with a hammer attacking dudes.
I leave you with this image of a pug with a hammer attacking dudes.

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The December Rush: Week 2

The second week of my endeavor to finish as many 2014 games as I possibly can has come to an end! Even though I did have an entire week to get some games I finished I come to you with only 4 games completed. But hey, progress is progress!

Here's a link to the first week, check it out!

Game 6: Lovely Planet

Time to completion: 3 hours.

Lovely Planet is a first person shooter that oozes good vibes with it's striking visuals, catchy music, gratuitous use of Japanese and deceptively simple gameplay. All you have to do is shoot every baddie and get to the end of the level, how hard can it be? As it turns out, not that hard actually. At least, for the first few worlds that is. The game gradually adds more enemies and obstacles that require frame perfect timing from your shots in order for you to move on. As someone who isn't the best at playing first-person shooters with a mouse and keyboard, the game doesn't immediately throw anything at you that a couple of retries can't resolve.

There's a lot of neat stuff hanging out in the background, including this strangely ominous sign.
There's a lot of neat stuff hanging out in the background, including this strangely ominous sign.

Although, the game does reach a point where it gets real hard, real quick. I'd say World 4, the one where you're literally fighting things you can't see, is where the difficulty cliff starts to rear it's head. I managed to get through it with a bit of practice but the final set of levels feels way to tough. I did manage to complete most of it and see the ending but man, it's one hell of a challenge.

I'm not about to hold that against this game though, Lovely Planet's got an infectious charm that's readily apparent from the moment you start playing and it's just a straight up good time. Sometimes you just wanna play a video game and not feel one, Lovely Planet is just the kind game for that.

Game 7: A Story About My Uncle

Time to completion: 2 hours.

There isn't much that I can say about this game that hasn't already been said by Patrick in the video essay he made for the game earlier this year.

I've still got a couple things to say though! I'm gonna start by saying that this game's actual mechanics, y'know the swingin', are actually pretty fun to play with. The grappling hook in the game functions similarly to the hook from Bionic Commando when you want to swing and the hook from Just Cause 2 when you want to get somewhere quickly. It's a bit tricky to get it to work at first but once you get used to it you'll be soaring between platforms like it's no one's business! You also get a sweet pair of rocket boots about halfway into the game that help you get a little extra out of your airtime.

The game mostly takes place inside some caves, so this outside section is a nice visual treat.
The game mostly takes place inside some caves, so this outside section is a nice visual treat.

Unfortunately, the game ends rather quickly and most of the levels (save for the last one) aren't very challenging or have enough substance to warrant a second playthrough of the game. It's a shame because successfully getting your swings down feels great but the game is severely limited by the length of the story. And I hate to say it but even though the game is called "A Story About My Uncle" the story feels like it just gets in the way for the most part.

If this game were just 'Yo, swing around with this sick grappling suit" I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. As it is, it's just a cool first person platformer that's been burdened by an uninteresting narrative and a lack of challenge.

Game 8: Spate

Time to completion: 80 minutes.

In Spate, you play as a detective investigating a disappearance on a series of islands known as the X Zone. Along the way, he struggles with his absinthe addiction and tries to come to terms with the loss of his young daughter. In Spate the story and the atmosphere are the focus, the gameplay is purely secondary. As far the story goes, it's... fine. I would probably enjoy it more if I could better relate to it, but it does a good enough job helping you empathize with the main character in the short amount of time you spend playing it.

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The atmosphere and the environments, I think, are this game's strongest assets. There's one moment that really stands out when I try to recall anything about this game. There's a sequence where you walk through a graveyard. You continue to walk forward as the main character recounts his last moments with his daughter. As the stories go on eventually the graveyard just turns into a series of giant skeletons and you start falling. You keep falling and the music becomes more and more somber and eventually you slip back into what seems to be reality. There aren't too many of them, but it's those moments and the surreal environments that make the slightly-less-than-competent platforming sections a bit more palatable.

You also run into a few giant, hallucinatory creatures in the X Zone.
You also run into a few giant, hallucinatory creatures in the X Zone.

Spate has been compared to both LIMBO and Gone Home, which are totally valid and justifiable but in comparison the game just doesn't hold a candle to those two. On it's own however, Spate is a short tale about loss and addiction loosely held together by some mediocre platforming that's probably worth checking out.

Game 9: Particulars

Time to completion: 7 hours.

Particulars is a puzzle game.

Asking someone to explain the gameplay mechanics of Particulars is like asking a particle physicist how particles interact. Luckily for you, as someone who has played this game for a short period of time I have become a legally certified(sic) amateur physicist and can adequately explain what the hell is going on in this game.

This game, as well as this image, works so much better when it's in motion.
This game, as well as this image, works so much better when it's in motion.

You start out as a down quark in subatomic space where you manipulate the mysterious power of magnetism between you and the other particles in order to complete objectives; which range from delivering particles to certain areas and feeding black holes other particles in order to increase it's mass. It's all good fun as the game's early stages walk you through the basic interactions as it gradually introduces more and more complex elements. There's a lot of information in this game based on real-life concepts, the game does a good job of explaining enough relevant information for you to complete your objective and even has an extensive encyclopedia for all the particles and other objects that explains their real life and in-game uses and properties.

Just a bit of the information available at your disposal in Particulars.
Just a bit of the information available at your disposal in Particulars.

The game does reach a point where you're going to need to take a look at some of that extra info because what's happening on the screen is practically undecipherable. I found that there was enough information present for me to get a very basic idea of what I should be doing or trying to do. When I couldn't figure stuff out there were often times where I would just stumble onto the correct solution. There's also a skip function for those levels that you just can't quite figure out, it's handy and probably something you're going to make use of later on in the game.

All in all, Particulars is a very fascinating game. It's very "fun" (maybe interesting is the right word?) to play some of the busier levels where particles are flying about and things are just constantly being annihilated because it just looks plain crazy. I kinda wish there was a free play mode so you could experiment to your heart's content and I think all the info in the game would probably benefit from a mode like that but hey, this game is still pretty dope and in playing it I feel like I learned a little somethin'!

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The December Rush: Week 1

The end of the year is steadily approaching! Pretty soon it'll be 2015 and it'll be one year closer for until I can think about this dumb video every single day without feeling a single shred of shame! Giant Bomb and it's community are also doing all sorts of neat stuff for Game of the Year and I'm going to join in as well! (I made a list, it's not done but you should take a look at it!). I buy a lot of games, the problem is that I rarely finish any of them! So for the entire month of December I'm going to try and finish as many games that came out this year that I possibly can. I have dubbed this "event" the DECEMBER RUSH.

These blogs will serve as mini-reviews as well as a little bit of writing practice for me. I'm probably going to head out of town for the holidays so I probably have about 2 or 3 weeks to get this done. As of right now I've got about 20 or so games left to play but I'm sure there's a couple I haven't accounted for. Also, I'm probably going to add some more screenshots or something for the next entries to avoid the huge walls of text that lie ahead.

Game 1: Always Sometimes Monsters

Time to completion: 8 hours.

It's hard to talk about this game without spoiling anything about it since it's basically all story. The basic premise is your character; who's race, gender and sexual orientation you choose at the beginning of the game, is an author who is down on their luck with no money to their name. You hear that your ex is getting married across the country and you're determined to get their by any means necessary.

There are tons of decisions to make and things to do in this game. I'm going to avoid talking about them because of spoilers but I will say that most of the major decisions are you deciding between the lesser of two evils. I tried my hardest to not absolutely screw everything up (except for one choice I made near the end that was obviously the bad one) but in the end, well, things didn't end up so well for my character. It's an interesting game that's for sure but it's one of those games that everyone should at least watch a playthrough of. I'd be willing to play it again just to see how different the game can get.

Game 2: OlliOlli

Time to completion: 4 hours.

This game's great. I finished all of the normal Career levels and some of Pro versions. I'm the type of person has to get things perfect (or close to it) or else I won't feel satisfied with my performance in games like this. I feel like the way I play these sorts of games makes me enjoy them less than the average person would but at least I recognize it, right? I still think this game is pretty good but I won't be going for 100% completion anytime soon. Also, this probably has the best licensed soundtrack this year and I pretty much know every artist on it too!

Game 3: Child of Light

Time to completion: 12 hours.

This game is pretty good. The only downside to this game I found is the combat. I played through most of the game on Hard as I heard the default difficulty is way too easy (which it is). At first, I liked how simple it was but the mechanic of delaying enemies attacks was basically essential to your success. I needed to carefully time my delays and attacks in order to take the least amount of damage possible, it was a lot of fun while still being somewhat of a challenge. It did however, get to the point where I felt underleveled and was faced with a boss that absolutely destroyed me no matter how well I thought I was doing against it. I switched over to Easy and combat was literallynot a problem.

Everything else about this game though? Outstanding! I really enjoyed the story, which is basically told like a fairy tale. It's very whimsical but it's not a completely sugar coated experience. All of the dialogue is recited in an extremely bizarre rhyme scheme (ABCB?? What is that nonsense?!) but it's really charming in a way. I kind of didn't really understand what anyone was saying for the first quarter of the game but I still enjoyed it. My favorite character is Rubella, who functions as your healer in battle, because every time she tries to rhyme she messes it up and someone else has to fix it for her! It's so freakin' good. That managed to get a smile out of me every time it happened so this game alright in my book!

Game 4: Cloudbuilt

Time to completion: 3 hours.

I've had this game for about half a year now and I'm starting to wonder why I waited so long to play it. It's a 3D platformer based around freerunning/parkour. Also you've got a gun and jets on your back. This game does so many things right, it's kind of hard to list them but I'm going to anyway.

This is a game where you're going to fail a lot, in Super Meat Boy when you died you respawned almost instantly. In Cloudbuilt the time from respawn to restart is actually zero (I'm exaggerating but it's really fast you guys). The levels are designed so well it's kind of unreal. The game doesn't direct you at all, your goal is to get to the red door in every level which is marked by a beam of light. The thing is though there's kind of no wrong way to go. As long as you're moving up and/or forward you're always going the right way. You can also place checkpoints wherever you want as long as you're standing still you probably won't be doing this since the levels are pretty short and the entire point of the game is to go fast but it's a nice addition for those that need it and it really helps on the harder stages.

This game also has a story, it's kind of secondary to all the gameplay stuff but the way it's told is kind of interesting. You play as a wounded veteran who is recovering from her injuries in a hospital. It's implied that all the actual gameplay takes place in your character's dream as a form of rehabilitation. There are three "paths" to take when completing levels and after completing each one you hear an inner monologue that is sort of related to the theme of the path you're on. For example the path I finished had a lot of combat in it and by the end the main character had concluded that these dreams were a way to prepare her for the battlefield once she has recovered. I'm not sure if I explained that pretty well but it's a cool way to tell a story, I think. I plan on revisiting this and finishing all the paths.

Game 5: Stranded

No Caption Provided

Time to completion: 40 minutes.

This game bills itself as a "minimalistic point & click adventure game", which it totally is. It also "forgoes dialogue and puzzle and focuses on atmosphere and mystery" which is perfectly fine with me. The only problem is there's simply not enough of it.

This game is gorgeous and the music (which isn't available anywhere to purchase, to my knowledge) does a good job in creating that "lonely astronaut" atmosphere this game is clearly going after but there are only around 16 or so different screens in this game, 32 if you want to count the night versions of the outside areas. This game attempts to build an atmosphere but there isn't quite enough areas to explore to actually make one worth experiencing.

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There is a small sense of mystery on the small planet this game takes place on but it vanishes faster than it even has a chance to build into something worthwhile. I do like what this game is trying to do, it just feels like more of a proof of concept or a game jam game than a complete product. I'm not upset, mostly just disappointed.

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