After getting burnt out and completely disappointed with Bravely Default II, I decided to switch gears completely and play something totally different. And what's more different from a slow, systems heavy JRPG than Mortal fudging Kombat? Nothing!
It's hard to believe, but we haven't gotten a Mortal Kombat game on a Nintendo system in quite some time. The last one would have been Armageddon on Wii going way back to 2006. Though we did receive Injustice: Gods Among Us on Wii U, which kind of counts, given the DCU crossover stuff. But it's a bummer that Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2 didn't find their way to Wii U or Switch. And given such a long lull, it was actually quite the surprise when Mortal Kombat 11 was announced for Switch.
Now I'm far from the biggest Mortal Kombat fan, but then again, looking at the list of games, I did play ALL of the games since Armageddon on other platforms... Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe and "9" on PS3, X on PC, and Injustice 2 on Xbox One. So maybe I am at least more than the casual fan that I thought I was. But I am selective. The original game is impressive for the time, but also pretty janky. Really it's Mortal Kombat II that would be my favorite of the early games. And for newer titles, I really enjoyed X and Injustice 2.
At any rate, Mortal Kombat 11 seems like a quality release. The fighting is sound, assuming you like MK games. Truth be told, I tend to lean way more towards Smash and Street Fighter these days. And even the Injustice series is a bit more endearing to me than MK given the DC characters. But, I can't help but have some nostalgia for this silly mess of a series.
There's a wealth of content here. I started with the tutorial mode, and didn't play through all of it, but found it a good starting point for someone who's been out of the MK mix for a while.
Currently I'm playing through the story mode, which I really like. I have to say that when I was younger and super into fighting games, I would have ignored a story mode and jumped right into playing online with friends. Nowadays, I really appreciate the single player content. And the story is ridiculous in an awesome way. It's like, y'know how there's so much 90' s nostalgia happening in pop culture now? Well, they've figured a way to merge the 90's with now, and the juxtaposition is solid. (Spoiler: it's time travel).
So far, my favorite characters to use in story mode have been Cassie Cage, Scorpion, and Kung Lao.
I was pretty excited about the announcement of Bravely Default II. The first game in the (loose) series would technically be Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light on DS, which was a spin-off thing that served as a sort of spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy V. In a time when modern FF games were going off the rails with emo haircuts and flashy 3D visuals and action elements, The 4 Heroes Of Light was a conscious throwback to the SNES days of turn based gameplay and DEEP systems meant to be broken.
Following that was Bravely Default, and then Bravely Second - both on 3DS which furthered this experience. And then there was Octopath Traveler, which doesn't seem to really be part of this series at all. But if you've played it, and you've witnessed the battle system, then you know it could have easily been released as Bravely Octopath.
In my mind, the Bravely series is kind of up there with the Xenoblade series. They're modern RPG's with a very old school mindset. They're meant for people who want to dive deeply into the mechanics; for people who are okay with playing an RPG for dozens of hours before they really even understand how things fully work.
I ended up pre-ordering Bravely II, because frankly I thought my daughter (under 2 yrs old) would like to play with the free coasters. I was right. She's already chewed one of them up pretty good.
I'm about 4-5 hours into the game now, and to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it.
On the one hand, it's exactly what I'd expect from the previous Bravely (proper) games. The systems are DEEP and fun to play with. Take the job system for example. I've only unlocked like five or six jobs to choose from so far, and they're a blast to play with and mix and match. The battle system where you can Brave (advance turns) or Default (defer turns) remains just as compelling as ever. The system where you can send out a boat to "adventure" for you (IE: earn you free loot) while you're not playing is a fine addition.
There are cons. Chief among them is the story, which I just can't seem to care about. I mean let's be real, the Bravely games are inherently old school, which general means cliches. Right out the gate, The 4 Heroes Of Light was in itself sort of a cliche based on the original Final Fantasy. And that's fine. But the last JRPG I got heavily sucked into was Dragon Quest XI over the winter, and going from a game that has some of the finest writing and story beats I've ever played to this is kind of jarring.
But whatever. I can skip whatever dialogue I want, so that's no biggie. The problem I'm really having is the intense unbalance of difficulty. The developers HAVE made it pretty transparent when you've grinded "enough" given that enemies will run away from you when you're overpowered. But that said, I'll find myself cruising along a dungeon only to find that the end-boss is WAY above my level and can crush me in just a few turns. It doesn't feel organic to me as you're never REALLY sure when you're ready to go for it.
The boss I'm at now is one that plays all these musical spells to buff his minions and he's just completely wrecking me and I have no idea how to counter most of it. It's to a point where it feels like the game halted to a stop and said "okay, time to stop being fun." Which is a bummer.
There's a lot to like about this game, but I feel like these curveballs are pretty damning. Take Octopath Traveler as a comparison. That game had some of the same issues, but somehow felt a little more balanced. Probably because the game did kind of scale with you, as you were free to tackle things in a different order and with different characters.
I don't know that I want to call it quits here yet, though. I mean I really did have high hopes for this one. High high hopes. That and there's two things I've heard about that I've yet to see...
1. There's apparently a card game you can unlock, and it sounds fun to me.
2. There's a Gambler job class that sounds to me like it could completely break the game in interesting ways, much like the "dances" is Octopath did.
... so we'll see. I'd really like to mess with both of those things, so hopefully I can pull it together long enough and see if this game can really redeem itself for me. Maybe it's just that this early patch of the game has bosses more difficult than they need to be.
I went ahead and grinded around that same dungeon for about an hour. I still wasn't sure I was ready to take on Orpheus, but I figured it was now or never, Bravely II. I WAS able to beat him, and... no real fan-fare. Just, alright, now the game can continue.
The amount of time I needed to spend grinding to get through this section has definitely turned me off a bit. And I had kind of sworn to myself that if I didn't beat Orpheus last night, then that was it - I was done. So I guess the game is getting the pass, and I'll continue on.
It's a very weird feeling I get playing this one. Let me use two completely different examples... Back when Shining Resonance came out on Switch, there were very few new JRPG's to choose from, so I was pretty excited to get that one. I ended up playing it for quite a while, but it was a pretty BAD game. It wasn't especially fun or interesting. I knew this, but I played on because I really wanted to be playing a new JRPG on my new Switch. Jump ahead, and when I think of playing Dragon Quest XI, by this point there were tons of JRPG's to choose from. But, my goodness, it was one of the GREATEST I'd played in a long, long time. I was thrilled to play. I looked forward to jumping back in whenever I had spare time all through my winter vacation.
Bravely II falls firmly between these two extremes. All of its systems make for a very compelling experience. However, the story is blah and the actual momentum of the game is poorly executed. After six hours I'm still in the first chapter of the game - and this is all while avoiding most side quests. Apparently there are six chapters, so I'm still very early in the game after six hours. I think that the two things that really interested me here (the card game, and the Gambler job) are both HOURS away from me still. It's tough for me to know that I may well need to play another 10-20 hours before even seeing the stuff I want to mess with.
We will see how this goes, but as of right now, Bravely II is pretty steadily losing my favor. That's always a bummer when you've been looking forward to a game for a year.
Being a Nintendo fan is both awesome and frustrating. Whenever they announce something it might be super exciting, or it might be totally baffling. And sometimes it's both. Such is the case with Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade Of Light, which you might also know as "the first Fire Emblem game."
Of course, back when Fire Emblem dropped on GBA in 2003 we westerners all assumed it was the first game in a new series. Or at least I did. But truth be told, it was the SEVENTH game - it was just the first to be localized.
Over the years, lots of Fire Emblem games have come to the States, both in the forms of new entries and remakes of old games. It became a cult-classic series, and then thanks to the inclusion of Marth (and a bunch of other characters) in Smash, pretty much a classic series proper. Truth be told, it's easily one of my favorite Nintendo exclusive series. Maybe my favorite.
So when it was announced at the end of 2020 that the original Famicom game would get an English localization and be brought to the eShop for a limited time, I was excited... but also baffled.
1. Why is a digital game being offered for a limited time?
2. Why does the super expensive and super pretty limited edition physical release NOT include an actual physical cartridge?
3. Why is a game that's free on the Japanese Switch Online service now $6 for those of us who live in America?
4. Why on Earth is Nintendo putting resources into localizing a game that's already been remade on the DS?
There's just so much head-scratching going on here. But at the end of the day, I could try to find the DS remake for a pretty penny on the aftermarket, or I could get the DS remake on the Wii U Virtual Console for $10, or I could just grab this new version for $6 and stop the nagging FOMO in my brain due to the limited release. So here we are.
Having said all that, I'm like four hours into Shadow Dragon and having a pretty good time. So I guess I've already gotten my money's worth, really. I mean, I spent the same on Among Us and was pretty let down by that new hotness. Meanwhile, this rusty old Famicom game is kind of a treat.
Look, there's no denying how rough around the edges this game is. But in fairness, it pretty much sparked a console genre. (Well, maybe that's unfair given that Famicom Wars was released two years prior). But still, I used to look at Shining Force as sort of the beginning of these kinds of strategy RPG's. But man, look at Shadow Dragon and it's clear where Shining Force took its inspiration from!
There's lots of little complaints I could make, but they seem unfair. I'm so used to the QOL improvements that the series has gotten as it's refined, but I have to stay in the mindset that this was the beginning and it is what it is. Yes, I'd love to instantly see how far my troops can move without just trying. Yes, there's a lot of info hidden away within menus. But what can you do?
Overlooking the roughness, I'm having a really good time going back to these antiquated roots of the series. I'm not making use of much of the new features. No rewinding or anything. I'm laying in the bed I've made with each turn. So we'll see how far I can make it.
I'll be turning 40 much sooner than I expected. So maybe an existential crisis is due? I don't know. But I feel like since the holidays I've been struggling to really enjoy a lot of the games I've been playing. I didn't feel like I had the time nor focus to dive into Mass Effect 3; I felt like Among Us was a game for younger folks, and the imposter was me - the old dude; Catherine felt way cooler when I was 29 than when I was 39; Pokemon Sword was just MORE Pokemon, and I've honestly played a lot of Pokemon in the past few years, and so on. Beyond that, the urge to collect new games has started to feel like a chore lately. It's like, how do I know what to buy if I don't even know what I'm in the mood to play?
I know Marie Kondo is kind of a buzz-word at this point, but the last time I read her book several years back, I was able to happily apply a lot of the logic to my own video game collection. So my wife re-borrowed the book for me to thumb through again. But all of this is sort of a side-rant.
The funny thing is that while I've been going through this whole WHAT GAME WILL BRING ME JOY kind of breakdown, I've been slowly chipping away at Shadow Dragon. This is an old game that I was apprehensive about handing over $6 for. Truth be told, a lot of the old NES games I've played lately have only kept my attention for a night or two. But I don't know. In a weird - really weird - way, this game has been an odd remedy.
1. It's a tried and true formula for me. I love Fire Emblem games.
2. It's simple. The game mechanics are pretty easy to grasp right away, given you've played Fire Emblem games before. The full map is laid out for you at the beginning of each chapter, thus setting up your new 'chessboard.'
3. It's challenging. I'm not coasting through, but rather having a good time devoting the hour or so before bed to clearing a chapter or two.
Honestly, when I downloaded this game it was more out of wanting to have that little piece of Fire Emblem history. I wanted to make sure I had this game before it disappeared from the eShop next month. And I figured it'd be something I'd mess with for an hour and then say "okay, I now have some first hand experience with the start of the Fire Emblem series." But strangely, I like this game way more than I expected.
I almost wanted to give up on Fire Emblem the other night. I had gotten stuck on Chapter 5, and had my party wiped out twice. Marth had a broken sword. There was some wizard enemy with strong thunder magic that was destroying us. I felt like I was up against a wall.
I took a break with some rounds of Overwatch and then came back to FE with a fresh brain. I created a screen for Marth so he could head towards an item shop. Meanwhile, my squad wiped out a bunch of grunts leaving only that wizard. Guess what? Turns out that wizard ran over to Marth and joined our team! So now I have a super deadly wizard dude in the lineup. Marth bought a new sword, so we crossed a bridge, headed west, met up with some more recruits and wiped out the remainder of the enemies. Chapter 5 is done, and I feel rejuvenated.
There is an alternate reality out there where Shadow Dragon was released on the NES in America. In that reality, I would have played this before X-COM: Terror From The Deep, and it would be my introduction to the genre. In this reality, Fire Emblem would be my long running favorite strategy RPG series; it wouldn't' have taken me until Awakening to get into the series.
As I keep saying, yeah, this game is rough around the edges. But it's also brilliant.
I've had a very busy week with work and shoveling snow and stuff around the house and all that. Plus we watched that Britney Spears documentary. So I haven't had a ton of time for gaming this week, unfortunately.
But, I was listening to a Game Informer podcast episode about the upcoming Mass Effect remaster, and it reminded me that I've had a copy of Mass Effect 3 for Wii U sitting on my shelf for ages that I've never popped into the console.
Let me remind for a moment.
Quite a few years back, I was heavily into PC gaming. Somebody gifted me a copy of Dragon Age Origins, which I enjoyed immensely. After I finished that one, I decided I should play Mass Effect because in mind, it would be like Dragon Age In Space, and sci-fi is cooler than fantasy. So I played Mass Effect for a while, and liked it, and then got distracted by other games. A year or so later, I did the same exact thing with Mass Effect 2: started it; enjoyed it more than the first; got distracted by something else.
Now that we're a strictly Nintendo household, I only have access to ME3, but that's okay because I've at least spent time with the first two in the past, and really, I was most interested to get to that third game.
To my utter enjoyment, the Wii U edition begins with something called Genesis 2, which is a pretty lengthy comic book (published by Dark Horse!) that retells the events of the first two games, but has you make important decisions. It's basically like playing an abridged choose-your-own-adventure version of the first two games to catch you up on the story, and allow your decisions to carry over in lieu of playing the first two games in full. This... is kind of brilliant.
Anyway, I've only had a couple of hours to actually play so far, but I'm enjoying it a lot. Jane Shepard is awesome. And I forgot that Freddie Prinze Jr is the voice of James here (shout-outs to FPJ's cookbook!). My squad is currently exploring Mars, so I'm very, very early in the game, but looking forward to spending some more time with it.
Among Us has been one of this big buzz games that all the kids are playing. There's memes and streamers love it. Ostensibly, it's got a semi neat idea because it sort of reminds me of John Carpenter's The Thing, except with silly looking visuals.
Anyway, it was $5 on the eShop and I have $3.50 in credit, so I figured why not give it a try? It was snowing pretty hard, and I wanted to kill some time but wasn't really ready to dive into a big time-sink game.
So I squeezed a couple of hours of Among Us into my weekend. And... it's fine?
I had more fun playing as a crewmate than as an imposter, personally. Doing the tasks, avoiding getting killed, keeping an eye out for strange behavior was all fun enough. But ultimately, I don't really see the hype here. It feels like a fun little party game, but not something that would hold my attention long term.
The rounds end quick. Even with 10 players it seemed like a game would play out in minutes. Sure there were some moments of suspense - like when I killed someone and had to try to hide to not get caught. And there were some funny moments.
But overall, it felt kind of trendy to me. Maybe I'm wrong, and future updates will bring enough new maps and content to make it more everlasting. But right now, it feels like a kind of silly fun game that's also a bit shallow and lacks replayability for my own interest.
When I was a teen, I got a promotional copy of X-COM: Terror From The Deep for our PC somehow. I think it was because my step-father worked at Circuit City at the time? I'm a little fuzzy on this memory. Anyway, the game combined an ocean setting and aliens - two things that are awesome. See Also: The Abyss. The game was also brutally difficult to make sense of if you didn't have a manual. But it set up my future love and intrigue for turn based strategy games which would continue on in my life through Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and so on.
The original reboot of XCOM (which dropped the dash and added the "Enemy Unknown" subtitle) blew me away. Between Xbox 360 and PC I put in like 200 hours on Enemy Unknown and its expansion, Enemy Within. But nothing could prepare me for the followup, XCOM 2, which somehow upped everything that I already thought was perfection.
Yes, when XCOM 2 launched my wife said "I'll see you in a few months," only half-jokingly. Of course we didn't have a child at the time, so I could easily plug away at the game via late (LATE) nights. And I did. I played through the main campaign and its expansion, War Of The Chosen - again, I think between PC and Xbox One this time.
When War Of The Chosen was originally released, I remember thinking that I really wished it was on my new Switch. I felt like XCOM would be perfect for playing on a portable. But alas, I instead had to settle for Mario + Rabbids there. At least for a while.
But XCOM 2 was finally brought to Switch in 2020. I admit, I was a little bummed that Enemy Unknown wasn't included in the package as 2K's other compilations released at the same time (Bioshock and Borderlands) included three games each. But what can you do? Truth be told, XCOM 2 is a way better game, so I can't really be that upset. Though I would still re-buy Enemy Unknown yet again if it came to Switch.
Anyway, for my - I don't know - fourth (?) replay of XCOM 2, I'm enabling all the extra stuff. It really makes it a whole new game. You've got "The Lost," which is a swarm of alien zombie things. You've got The Chosen, who are unique "boss" enemies. You've got new rebel allies. It's just a crazy game with all these bells and whistles enabled.
I'll admit, the framerate chugs at times on Switch. I mean, Xbox One had trouble keeping up with the horde of Lost at times, too. But I don't care. I'll take what I can get if it means portable XCOM. I am having a total blast here. This is one of my favorite games EVER. And I'm thrilled to jump back in again.
Oh the agony and drama of XCOM!
I was cruising along, making good progress. We went on a mission to collect some info on The Chosen. Now, I hadn't unlocked the perk to bring a fifth soldier on the mission, and so I should have probably slowed down. But I got cocky. This wasn't my first rodeo.
So we attempt to do the mission with four soldiers and things are going well enough. We're reaching the goal of the level, and I'm being pretty strategic. I set up two soldiers - one on each side of a closed door, and then marched the other two in another door into the building. I figured I'd have the first two outside, and out of sight ready to ambush.
That's one when one of those big Robocop-style ED-209 things shows up and fires a barrage of missiles at the closed door, bringing down the whole wall and letting Elena - my best solders! - bleed out. Ugh.
Things moved from bad to worse pretty rapidly from there. Two alien soldiers accompanied the 209, and THEN another two soldiers and a mind-crolling alien showed up behind us. We were outnumbered, and taking a beaten. Which means this would be the PERFECT time for The Chosen to show up and wreak even more havoc.
It was a suicide mission. I lost all four of my squad, and failed the mission. Things are not looking good for the XCOM project at the moment, but I need to march forward. There's no save-scumming, friends. You take the hand you're dealt and hope you can somehow learn from your mistakes.
I lied. I ended up restarting a new campaign after a few more major losses. I just wasn't feeling this playthrough and needed to start fresh. But that's the thing about XCOM, even if I sink multiple hours in, I don't mind restarting. That's very different from how I feel about most games. But XCOM... XCOM is special.
Imagine if you will a chess game but with lots of aliens. That's sort of the simple version, but it's ultimately what I love so much about these games. And yes, I'm a big fan of turn based strategy games in general. I've played tons of them including dumb ones like Falling Skies. And while the Fire Emblem series comes really close - XCOM is most definitely my favorite. So I don't care that I lost hours and then started all over again. I don't care that I've already seen XCOM 2 through the end multiple times now. This game always feels fresh and exciting to me.
I was too cocky. I felt like I've played enough XCOM that I could just blow right through this campaign - hitting up all the required missions. But after failing the Advent Blacksite mission TWICE, I decided to slow things down.
I've been focusing on building facilities, recruiting soldiers, sending rookies out on covert ops to gain some experience and rewards, and just generally managing the XCOM project instead of just going in too fast. Having now regrouped a bit, I feel like I have more control over what's going on and can get back to the story missions.
I love XCOM 2. I do. But it's always the ones you love that can hurt you the most. And hours in to my 2nd attempted campaign, I'm feeling completely beat down. The Avatar Project is only a couple of clicks away from complete domination. My ranks are whittled down. I keep failing at major missions.
I don't actually remember XCOM being this hard. But then again, I haven't played these games in nearly three years now. I guess I'm rusty.
I think diving straight back into the War Of The Chosen expansion was my mistake. I just felt so sure of myself. But wow, The Chosen are jerks. They show up at the worst times and they just wreak total havoc on an already heavy situation.
It pains me to say, but I think I'm going to have to start a new third campaign - this time just plain ol' vanilla XCOM 2 so I can get my sea legs back. But I might have to take a break and switch to something else to refresh my brain in the meantime. I've been hitting XCOM 2 for nearly two weeks now.
Back in 2011, I was mostly a retro gamer. Sure, I had a Wii and a DS, and there was good stuff on there. But most of gaming was done on my Gamecube and GBA. I remember hearing about this new Street Fighter IV game and looking at screenshots and being unimpressed. It looked too "new." Where were the sprites? It doesn't even look 2D!
Then one day my wife and I went to do some shopping at the mall (remember malls?) and I stumbled upon a kiosk where you could freely play video games. Can you even imagine such a thing? That sounds so quaint doesn't it? I mean, I'm writing this from within a pandemic right now. The thought of going to the mall and playing video games on a Saturday afternoon sure sounds like a whole other world. Wow.
Anyway, they had Street Fighter IV hooked up to an Xbox 360. I played it. And then I told my wife to go browse for clothes, I'd be just fine at this kiosk for as long as she needed.
I was hooked! Instantly hooked!
It wasn't long after that that I got myself a PS3 and a fight stick and a copy of Street Fighter IV. (And it wasn't long after THAT that I promptly flip-flopped and traded my PS3 for an Xbox 360, but that's a different story). I became obsessed with SF4 for a while. I had strategy guides, and each new installment (Super Street Fighter IV and Arcade Edition and maybe there was another one? I don't remember now).
Anyway, I had friends back then who were equally as into SF4 and we hooked up weekly fight nights online. It was awesome. Really, a cool and unique time in my gaming life. But those times are long in the past. You get older. You lose touch. You have less time.
Feeling a bit nostalgic lately, I picked up a copy of Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition for the 3DS. It's been a long time, and my muscle memory ain't what it used to be. But y'know what? This game still rocks.
Now I'm just playing the arcade mode, but I'm having fun. I'm going through my list of favorite characters and aiming for a 1CC. First up was Chun-Li - my favorite since Street Fighter II. But no avail. I'm too rusty. Then Blanka - who my friends would say was my best. Still no good. Then Vega - who's alright - and I got up to the last boss, and whittled him down to a sliver of health before he finished me off.
Obviously playing a technical fighting game on the semi-cramped New 2DS XL isn't ideal. I really wish that this game was on Switch. But it's still a really solid experience. I must admit that the ability to tap the screen for specials is a helpful touch. Not something I'd care for if I was playing online with friends or whatever. But for casual rounds? Sure. It saves my fingers some pain on this small handheld.
Anyway, I'm definitely pleased to find that this game still holds up. It holds a special place in my heart and gaming history. Let's see if I can get that 1CC again - like I said, I'm rusty.
When I was a young lad of just 30 years old, I was so looking forward to the game Catherine that I had even - gasp - preordered it. Something I rarely did at the time. But man, I really wanted that bonus soundtrack. There was something so totally interesting about the game. It was kinda sorta maybe a spin-off the Persona series (which was definitely a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series). And yet, instead of demons and darkness, the marketing was full of cheesecake.
Certainly sex sells, but this game isn't exactly sexy. It's more or less something that takes cues from Eraserhead, in that it's more so a game about fear of commitment. Except that fear is displayed as pure morbid nightmare. Literal nightmares. Ones that can kill you.
What's maybe most jarring is the juxtaposition of the two play styles. During the day, you play as our "hero" Vincent, and the game is basically a kind of dating sim visual novel. You watch the anime story unfold as Vincent cheats on his longtime girlfriend, Katherine with a girl he just met named Catherine. You make decisions in dialogue trees, and send and receive text messages. Okay.
But THEN Vincent falls asleep and the nightmares happen in which you must ascend gigantic towers of crumbling blocks, pushing them around to make it to the top. Boss battles add in horrible dismembered body parts and buckets of blood. The two halves of this game couldn't be more different. And yet, it totally works.
Catherine (the game) was re-released on Switch in 2020, and I felt like yeah, I should go back and replay this thing. And I'm glad I am. Everything is as awesome as I remember. The presentation, in which a TV host in a bar tells the story of the game as if it were a Twilight Zone sort of show, is so cool. The music is fantastic. The story is funny and keeps you interested.
This new "Full Body" edition is also like a director's cut, which adds in a new character (who I haven't met yet) and a whole bunch of extras. I'm having a really good time revisiting this one.
Moving along, I really think this re-release is worth owning. Even if you've played through this game before, the additions feel really welcome in making this a more substantial game. Like, the flashback to Vincent and Katherine meeting in school shines some light on them as a young couple. I don't recall this being in the original game.
The new third character is Rin, which is apparently short for... Qatherine. Seriously. So far her bits have been kind of minimal. She plays piano. She has a bunch of junk in her apartment. She has amnesia. I don't know.
Within the story - when you actually have control of your choices, I try to always do the 'right' thing. I want Vincent to be a good guy, even when the game kind of forces him to not be.
But the real GAME part of the game - IE, the puzzle sections - still rule hard. I love the nightmare levels. They're so fun and get continually more challenging. Solid stuff.
Okay, I love crazy stuff like this. So back in the XBLA days, there was a game called Pac-Man Championship Edition, which was an HD version of Pac-Man that completely changed the rules so that the maze kept changing every time you cleared half of it. The game was an XBLA hit, and went on to spawn a revision and a sequel in the years that followed.
But I'm not talking about the XBLA game. Nope. I'm talking about the "Famicom" game. You see in 2020 Namcot released a collection of their Famicom games on Switch, and went ahead and demade Pac-Man CE for Famicom. Except, of course there's no way this could have actually run on the Famicom. At least I don't think it could, with the procederally generated mazes and all. But still - it's cool to see the mock artwork for the cartridge, and imagine that THIS IS a new Famicom game in 2020 released by a major publisher.
Maybe the biggest surprise (to me) is that it's SUPER FUN. I did a bunch of runs, and started to get the hang of some strategy. The goal is to last for a full five minutes, and within that five minutes it's all about going for a high score. So you're balancing out the risk/reward of multiple things. Eating all the dots on one half of the maze causes a fruit to spawn on the other side; eating that fruit will create a new other half of the maze. So you need to think about eating dots, eating fruit, eating ghosts and living long enough to see the timer tick down. Do you just stay in the center maze? Do you venture off into the unknown? Do you avoid the ghosts or go after them? Which of these things do you focus on?
There's tons of strategy and depth here, and it's all played out in five minute bursts. Really really fun stuff that makes this Namcot collection - as slight as it may be - worth owning.
Okay, wait, I'm WRONG. Apparently this WAS actually a homebrew game from 2008 that originally did run on Famicom hardware. Wow. That makes it even more impressive. And I love when homebrew stuff is given a legit release - even if it took twelve years. The story makes it akin to how Ms. Pac-Man started off as a hack that was originally licensed as a legit product. So cool.
Anyway, this game is really cool. My top score is 201,000 so far.
Sometimes I'm easily distracted. What can I say? I was flipping through a recent issue of Nintendo Force and reminded that I never did start that copy of Pokemon Sword I got months ago. It actually came bundled with my wife's Switch Lite, but she's not interested in Pokemon games, so it landed on my shelf instead.
I'd say I'm more than a casual Pokemon fan, but not entirely fanatical. In fact, I think why I didn't play Sword when I got it is because I had just recently played Sun and I wasn't all that into that one. It just felt kind of cheesy to me overall. Maybe it was the surfing? Maybe I was just a little burnt out at the time.
But one thing I love about the Switch killing the 3DS is that there's really no "handheld" games anymore. There's console games that we can take portably. Thus, series that used to be relegated solely to 3DS are now legit console games. Pokemon is a great example of this trend. While Yellow had long been my favorite, the Let's Go remake pretty much blew my little mind. So there's definitely something exciting about a brand new Pokemon game built with consoles in mind.
I'm maybe 90 minutes into Sword, so I don't have a ton to say yet. It's really good, at least so far. I love that the Switch in my character's room had the same Splatoon colored Joycons attached that I was using at the time. I love that you can SKIP all the explanation stuff if you're already familiar with these games. I love that I could connect to the internet, and somehow receive a free level 21 Pikachu (that I can't even use yet).
For the record, I chose Sorbble as my starter because he's super cute and a water elemental. I've just been exploring the opening area, and now I'm off to the first gym, having just hit the wildlands for the first time. Good stuff.
Hop's enthusiasm is sometimes annoying. Just saying.
But this game is solid. I completed the first gym, and am now able to swap Pikachu into my party. Sorry Sorbble, even though you've evolved you're still going to be relegated to the second spot in my party now.
This is such a lovely game, and a further reminder to me just how much Nintendo has knocked it out of the park this generation. Just thinking about evergreen franchises, they've delivered some huge fan favorite entries in the Smash, Zelda, Fire Emblem, and so on series. Sure, I got tired of the new Animal Crossing fairly quickly, but it's hard to argue with its appeal. And honestly, between Sword/Shield and Let's Go, the Pokemon games have found an amazing transformation into true blue console titles.