niflhe

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I'm Keeping Track of Every Game I Played in 2022

It's another year, time for some more games that I played for at least an hour.

(I write these over the course of the year, so any passages of time are denoted by dashes between paragraphs)

List items

  • The first case of Great Ace Attorney 2 has you play as a different character and it's phenomenal, I love this, game of the year.

  • Growing up, I played a lot of handheld games. The price point of consoles and their games meant that I only ever had a few to pick from unless I was renting from the local video shop or borrowing a game from a friend. Couple that with the commitment of turning on a TV, game console, and sitting down in front of a game for a dedicated period of time that I may or may not have always had and it's easy to see why I drifted to handhelds with their easy pop in and pop out nature. I still do this now, even with hundreds of games and dozens of consoles - I'll pick up my Switch or GBA before plunking down in front of the TV.

    Anyway, Aria of Sorrow was among one of my favorite games as a teenager and holds up just as well today. Beautiful to look at, a delight to listen to, and tons of customization and replayability. Soma is such a fun protagonist, a boy in the longest coat, who is completely out of his element and also able to absorb the souls of the enemies he beats while the adults around him scheme and try to one-up each other.

    I think I just love how many options are available. All kinds of weapons that each play slightly differently, tons of enemy abilities and spells to utilize, and a really fun second story mode where you play as a more traditional Castlevania protagonist. I just adore using all kinds of different abilities (though I tend to just look for the Lightning Doll and Force Lightning my way through the game). I absolutely love this game and consider it my favorite Casltevania.

    Look, there's a reason why Bloodstained is basically just Aria of Sorrow 2.0.

  • Living proof of "out of sight, out of mind" - I apparently played this for about a dozen hours in 2021 and it didn't show up in my Steam recently played so I completely forgot to talk about it!

    That's also because it's largely forgettable. Serving as a coda to the Trails in the Sky series, the Sky the 3rd takes all of the characters you know and love and throws them into a remix dungeon, while learning about the mysterious green-haired priest that appeared in Trails Second Chapter. At it's core, it's a fanservice game that lets you make parties of whatever characters you wish. More of the same, but the same is really, really good. I've heard this game sets up the overall plot beats of the Trails series going forward, but having played a future game in the series I have not tripped over that just yet.

  • Oh, Ys. Nihon Falcom's other long-running series (Dragon Slayer, technically), Ys has always been a favorite of mine for its incredible soundtracks and action slashing gameplay. Ys VIII maintains that same formula as previous games - Adol crash lands on an island and sets to explore - but keeps the party system from Ys Seven and the Oath in Felghana.

    And, look. Look. I get it Falcom. You want Adol to be a blank slate so that you don't have to write characterization beyond "red haired boy loves adventure and swords" but the party system is so bad! I hate having a bunch of randos with grating personalities that I have to use in order to actually beat some enemies. And it's never that interesting to use the rapier lady to stab a bird or the farting axe wielder to smash a crab because I usually just want to use Adol!

  • A very chill, slightly too horny for its own good, 3-star 'fans of the genre' JRPG.

    And sometimes that's what I need, especially in this, the neverending nightmare that is existence. Sometimes you want some extremely fun Grandia-style turn based combat mixed with low-key cutscenes of gal pals going on dates. I'm not going to sit here and say it's the most amazing game I've ever played in my life—the framerate is dodgy, non-boss encounters are laughably easy, sidequests are super boring—but I'm having a good time.

    One of your support partners can kick a can into a boss's face and, in that same turn, you can have another partner summon in a DRONE STRIKE. A land of contrasts, this one.

  • I've always appreciated the Monkey Ball series from afar, never quite being able to wrap my head around some of the harder stages in the series, but still managing to have a good time. Banana Mania is the first Monkey Ball game I get, at least in that I understand exactly how I'm fucking up and really considering getting a Gamecube Adapter so I can have consistent eight-way movement.

    When a game makes me want to buy things to get better at it? That's a good game, baby.

  • I discovered PC mods for this one and oh my.

  • God, I don't even know. On its surface, Astral Chain should be a ton of shit that I'm into. Platinum games developed fighting system mixed with cyberpunk aesthetics drenched in bisexual lighting. It sounds amazing, but it was such an actual chore to play that I had to force myself to finish it just so I could clear some space on my switch and stop staring at this icon glaring at me.

    While I haven't always loved Platinum's combat in the past (namely, I found NieR: Automata's combat painfully dull), here its really the saving grace. Moves are snappy and once I got my head wrapped around using the Legions, I genuinely had a good time. Shooting dudes from afar and plunking them off with the Arm Legion cannons, blocking attacks using the Axe Legion, just wrapping dudes up and wailing on them with Sword, all good.

    The problem is EVERYTHING ELSE. Where to even start. The first issue is the player character and their complete lack of personality. You pick a character and then your opposite gender twin becomes the mouthpiece. Your character does not talk, they just barely react, occasionally grit their teeth, and fight. The game really wants you to empathise with the plight of your twin and I just could not care less! Fuck that dude! He's a whiny little brat, let my cool lady talk or do literally anything, please, I'm begging you.

    And issues with the story aside, I hate the way Astral Chain wants you to do platforming using your Legions. Send one out with ZL, navigate it around with the right stick, hit ZR to zoom over to the Legion, realize you've misjudged because the platforming is garbage, fall into a pit and lose 20% of your health and then do it all again! And the game wants you to do this so many times, even during the final boss and it's bad every time!

    The biggest issue of all, though, is how the game scores you. Maybe this is my own fault, maybe I shouldn't have played on the first difficulty that actually judges how you do in combat, maybe I would've had more fun if I was just blasting through on Easy, but how the game awards their S+ and D ranks seems baffling random. It seems to prioritize using all of your abilities in one encounter, no matter how much you get your ass kicked. Use every single Legion, dodge an attack perfectly, do a back strike, get demolished and use a revive, scan the enemy, get an S+. Beat the enemy in less than a minute, but only use the Sword Legion to do it and take no damage? A rank. Even through the final encounters, when I had everything unlocked, I was still randomly getting Cs and Ds and I have no idea why.

    The whole purpose of judging systems in games is for the game to slowly nudge you to playing the way the developers intended, but if this is the way Astral Chain is supposed to be played, then I have no intention of ever doing that. It's just not fun to me.

  • I have never actually beaten Contra, but maybe I can train these old broken hands into blasting through the six stages of Alien baddies. So far, no, but hey, maybe.

  • It's Kirby but a Metroidvania and wow that map is bad! It's almost as bad as Shantae: Risky's Revenge. Not having immediate access to the map or a clear indication of where to pick up the map is one of my biggest pet peeves. It sucks! I hate this!

    Amazing Mirror is pretty fun though.

  • I finally swapped out my Rover and my Harbinger for a Dragoon and a Masurao and oh my god Etrian Odyssey V is a lot easier when you have someone that can block and someone else that can reliably stack damage. Sorry cute dog, sorry scythe lady, I need to be able to actually take a hit.

  • A surprise favorite! The PS4 performance is not what I would exactly call "stellar", but I love these characters and the whole story resonated with me. 2022's 2021 Game of the Year.