In the strangest and most unrelatable way imaginable this game feels reminiscent of the stuffy record shops I frequented with my dad in East Atlanta in the early 00s. Walls lined with grotesque album covers like Sum 41's "Does This Look Infected?". A strange world I could not fathom, yet it was covered, no bursting with a slice of the essence of human art and expression. Mixed with a musty scent of old carpeting and cigarettes.
Post Void's chaotic dada-esque rebellion against sense is still so clearly a creation and manifestation of the human consciousness. Ultraviolent as a means of catharsis and escapism. It ensnares you in itself, only ending with a small creation of life as a freedom from the insanity.
Bawling my eyes out about the he/she/they shawties you don't get to bang after the hundred plus loops 😭
If we're being real though this one of the most expertly crafted and designed experiences I've seen out of the indie scene for a minute. Every step of the way you learn about a system of rules and characters, which in turn you are given the tools to perturb the system to move in your favor. At first it plays the hidden role gameplay straight so you can learn the roles and understand the AI. Over time though you learn how to predict the AI, and can move things in your favor easier and easier. The more you play the more you learn but it never gets repetitive because the whole system of AI is carefully balanced to create incredible variety loop to loop.
The challenges are simple until you hit about the mid game, where the goal is often not to win the individual rounds of Werewolf but to instead focus on smaller more unique objectives. Ensuring certain characters survive or trying to eliminate particular targets early, things that exist outside the typical win state/fail state mentality built up in the beginning. One of my favorites is when playing as the killer, you have to make sure the only people who survive are you and a specific crew mate. In order to do so you must eliminate everyone else, teammates included. All these challenges are met with small underlying changes that never make it unfair to get your desired outcome, yet can pull the most out of your understanding of the group and their behaviors.
In many ways a peak science game where using the scientific method will lead you to the fullest understanding of the game and allowing you to perform at ease. Legit I could probably write a grad paper on how this game uses cognitive behavioral theory so competently but they ain't paying me to do that.
On the other hand, the unfortunate part in all this is the narrative is little more than self agrandizing fluff. There's nothing here that uses the sci-fi setting well. You spend lots of time learning about characters but only as a service for useless trivia that only occasionally feeds back into the gameplay. Most of the story plays around different scenes where the extremely anti-social protagonist gets flirted with by people of all genders then treats these same people as nothing more than pieces in the game to win. The repeating patterns give such a dissociative feel to the narrative the scenes meant to evoke an emotional response feel empty. They definitely could've done something with this but in the end it focuses on romantic tragedies and pointless, unanswered questions. C'est la vie I guess.
Overall though the game is hella magnificent. From top to bottom cleanly designed with only a rare few rough patches. Plus you can live out your pansexual fantasy, and what other game gives you that?
Is catching Pokemon fun? This is sort of a Rorschach test of a question, but hear me out. The point of catching Pokemon is most aptly comparable to the act of adopting a pet in the real world (albeit very forcefully). What if you could just take any animal out of the wild and immediately domesticate them, then you use your bonds of friendship to grow stronger together? It's weird to compare Pokemon to real life since it is essentially more complicated dog fighting except positive(?), but it's important to see the basis of how we think about this mechanic anyhow. Still doesn't answer the question though:
Is catching Pokemon fun?
Well if I were a layman (I am), I would say that it is simply one aspect in the gameplay loop that Pokemon creates. One brick in the wall if you would. The benefit of catching Pokemon is that you get to choose your party members as opposed to a typical JRPG where the party members are handed to you as part of the story. In fact there isn't even much commitment to your party members as well, you could have 6 of the same character and have a potentially functional team. This allows for flexibility and allows for the battles, trading, and everything else within the game to function properly. Perhaps it is the flexible lifeblood that allows the series to stay engaging start to finish.
Still we haven't quite answered the question here, so let's re-word it a bit off of the layman's ideas:
Is catching Pokemon innately fun, or rather, Is catching Pokemon fun on its own, without the rest of the system?
Well anecdotally speaking I think it's clear why I came to such a system approaching the answer. Growing up until after I graduated college, I only considered playing Pokemon only one way: Decide the 6 Pokemon I want, catch only those mons when they become available, catch legendaries when they show up, beat the game using all the tools I can with only those 6 Pokemon. It's hard to say that this is the pattern that came naturally to me through the flow of the design or if it was something more socially ingrained into me. All of my friends (who were male of course, what do you think I wanted cooties?) would do the exact same method. Multiple best friends, my brother, even casual acquaintances in after school care all played the exact same way. We each treated the team of 6 as an expression of personality to compare ourselves with. It wasn't until Pokemon Go came out that I began to recognize other peoples methods of playing the series. My friend who I grew up with told me about one of the friends he made in college who in Let's Go Pikachu would just sit around the 3rd gym and catch pokemon. They never challenged the gym, just 100 hours of catching the same Pokemon over and over again.
Of course maybe it's my fault for considering them the same. Each one is a new member to the team and party so who's to say that all 20 Ekans aren't different entities. Does this specifically mean that catching Pokemon is innately fun? Have I been playing the game wrong? Is this person just a fool?
So let's talk about Legends Arceus. Does Gamefreak think catching Pokemon is innately fun? They basically made a whole open world TPS based off the idea so that must take some confidence in the idea right? Unfortunately as we are all aware by now, this is a
If you make a game where you lazily toss balls at different mons and watch numbers increase as your only means of engaging the player, you’re bugging.
The first thing to admit here is that Yo Kai Watch is not a good monster tamer. Yo Kai are essentially random drops that you have to hunt for and likely will not obtain on a consistent basis. Having to check under every single car in an area to find the one Yo Kai you are looking for only for it to die without joining you creates so much conflict between the player and the expectations of a monster tamer that friction is inevitable. Yo Kai Watch treats collecting monsters like it is a passive process, or perhaps like a mobile game where you have to keep spinning in order to obtain a desirable outcome. The iconography of the Gatcha machine is frequent in this world so it's not hard to see the connection.
Of course with that being said perhaps that is not the best way to criticize Yo Kai Watch. The game is very intent on being a passive experience, and the combat holds an enjoyable novelty because of that. You are given a very large amount of usable Yo Kai through the story anyhow, there's no expectation placed on the player to obtain specific Yo Kai in the wild. The only active element in obtaining new Yo Kai is through figuring out their favorite food and trying to manipulate the RnG to go in your favor with that knowledge. So where does that leave us?
Realistically Yo Kai Watch is at its best when it is a game about the lackadaisical carefree world of a child in the Summer. One where going to downtown Tokyo and stopping some spirits from causing people to forget where they put their keys is todays big adventure. The obvious attempt at merchandising that Level 5 did to treat this as a hallmark children's anime and merchandise line does give the game its own charm. The most true to the spirit game about living the childhood power fantasy that so many of those Slice of Life shows portray.
It's pleasant in that way, though likely to be held up as such since Boku no Yatsumi has never been translated out here in the West. I find the game to be... decent overall. The charms here are nice to talk about, but never really engaged me on any personal level. The friction that was often set in when I tried to acquire the Yo Kai I liked the designs of and was met with frequent, hours lasting failure. The direct sequel (which was released exactly 364 days after the first game) is more refined and palatable, but it's the same schtick pretty much.
A game that exists to attract sales through the mash up of two indie genre darlings. I won't say there's nothing here, the combat would certainly be admirable if it were in a better game. Though when the monsters you tame have such names as Blob, Rocky, or Monk it shows that the creators have little creativity and or passion for their work. In fact I dare say a kindergartener who has seen a single episode of Bakugan could envision far more worthwhile creatures then what is on offer here. When mixed in with such lackluster platforming that feels like what a game design student would make after their first week of lessons, it's hard to say that there's anything worthwhile to see here.
To be fair I expected such when I came in. Perhaps I expected more in at least the naming department of the monsters but at the end of the day this is a product of design recycling from far better and more inventive experiences.
You see I'm a cool and edgy guy. I like cool and edgy things, Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails, katanas, etc.
That's why I'm here to tell you about this new hidden gem I found called Kirbys Forgotten Hands or something like that.
You see there's the cool and edgy character, much like myself, called meta knight. Beyond the basic dark color scheme that completely matches my wardrobe :), he also has this calm and powerful demeanor!
Did I mention his sword? It's very edgy, like really edgy. I look at that sword and I'm like dang someone might get tetanus from that if you're not careful. Tetanus kills too! Getting cut by that sword might be dangerous, make sure you get your tetanus booster Ferby!
Anyhow, I give this game a 10/10. Meta Knight is now my spirit hunter and I look forward to running away from Canadian Mounties as I protect my meta Knight shrine from unwelcome intruders!
I feel hurt, betrayed. What once was a new found love quickly soured in ways unimaginable at the beginning.
I may have been foolish when I began this journey, but who could blame me when it was too good to be true. A cult classic with an amazing gameplay loop that rewards patience and understanding of its systems. Each dive into the Labyrinth tested me and the Big Bois guild to push us to the limit. We had to scrounge up every little dollar we could just stay at the inn every night. Getting beyond the first floor seem like an indomitable task. New armor was a pipe dream laid out by the capitalist pigs that incentivized our journey.
Of course, then everything changed. We broke through the ceiling, got through Fenrir on the 5th floor and began to attain the recognition we deserved, along with the wealth that came with it. Soon we no longer had to escape to the surface when we explored half a floor. We could push and push and only return when we had hit the limits of our loot carrying capacity. Money became meaningless, gear came with ease. We no longer had to do quests for the townsfolk to make ends meet, the Big Bois were the foremost guild in all of Etria.
At the end of the Azure Rainforest we ran into our hardest challenge yet. Corotangrul, a guardian of the forest folk who lived below, claiming a whole floor to himself. It's understandable why the forest folk sent him to attack us, they said we were intruders who did not understand the ramifications of our actions. We thought only of the glory of the surface above and not of the lives we would affect down below. Still, Corotangul was deafeted, and we marched forward with a new stone tablet holding hidden information from us. Perhaps now was the time to learn of these people and the nature of the Labyrinth itself.
We gave the tablet to the Radha government above for them to research, and with that we carried on our mission. We explored all of floor 16 to learn more of the forest folk who lived below. While not much information was gleaned, we found that the only way forward was to use the stone tablet we retrieved before. Returning to the hall they told us they would give it to us if we accepted one final mission from them, "Annihilate the Forest Folk".
I'm not your Christopher Colombus Atlus. I'm not playing your game to live out some sick persons fantasy of genociding a group native people. You may not let me progress without it but I will not progress with it. My time here has come to an end, our relationship soiled on the eve of our wedding. One day I wish for closure, until then I stay here sickened at the thought of any member of the Big Bois guild committing mass murder.
The interactive medium of video games have always struggled to gain a foothold of legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Being reliant on the TV never really let them shake the label of "casual entertainment", especially because their popularity came long before the Prestige Television boon that would occur in the 21st century. In trying to mimic real life games/sports they sought to have an in to the average homestead and prove their worth to the general public that games were a worthwhile pastime.
Of course I write this all to say that I can't believe they butchered the noble art of baseball with some shitty small ball simulator that lacks any of the charm of the sport itself. It's easy to call the game simple, or a proof of concept, but where does this leave us? To remove all intricacies of baseball and boil it down to hurl ball at different speeds and then hit said ball makes it an unimpressive toy. A game that won't let you steal bases, in the golden era of the stolen base?!? Ricky Henderson spits on your grave.
The Famicom was for all intents and purposes, a product. A toy for children that could hold their attention for a brief period of time while parents enjoyed a life independent of their chitlins. The fact that this became a medium of artistic expression seems almost impossible. Nintendo obviously started making more intricate and interesting games later, but there's still the idea of a world where nobody pushed the Famicom capabilities and it would be long forgotten toy of the 80s. A fad and nothing more.
Fuck this game, baseball is cool.
This game was made before the dawn of Steph Curry and it shows.
The design of how you translate a real life sport into a casual arcade style sports game is perhaps something only I care about. Still I lay here thinking about my experience with Mario Hoops 3 on 3 and feel like it just doesn't get it. If you're going to translate the sport of Basketball into an arcadey variant, making it slow and grindy with few defensive options isn't it. I get it's hard to communicate the athleticism that lies at the core enjoyment of basketball, but making dribbling one of the core verbs of design doesn't really do it. I wish sitting around while grinding up coins wasn't such a viable tactic, each one may just represent a fraction of a score but since there's no shot clock then it's better to grind than give the ball up to the opponent sooner. I hate how it makes it so you and your opponents start at half court immediately after a score. I hate special shots have no currency tied to them so they can be fired off whenever regardless of how slow they are. I really wish characters would have clear stats instead of being just grouped into abstract groups where there's no explanation what they do better (what does tricky mean??).
I know I'm spilling a lot vitriol, the game gets a solid bit of the fun of basketball. Dunks and 3-Pointers are very satisfying to pull off. Rebounds and blocking shots are wonderful if you can pull them off and I'm sure there's a level of entertainment to multiplayer, but I doubt I'll ever try to get a game set up for it anyhow.
2 minutes is all it takes for Ys Origin to drag you straight into a flow state. Its unclear how much time passes as you rush room to room, keeping massive chains going as each little drop of xp creates the sensational dopamine rush needed to forget that a world still exists around you. Every moment expertly paced with tricky boss fights and a relatively engaging narrative.
It all builds to a climax as you finish a final boss and beat a singular route, only to dive right back in again like an adrenaline junky.
It's an incredible game, one I will likely revisit over and over again throughout my life. Could not recommend it enough
To love Advance Wars is to embrace its jagged edges, to celebrate the insanity of imbalance and rubber banding in a game about "strategy" and "thinking". Intelligent systems realized this for Dual Strike, and broke every rule imaginable.
Switching between CO's in order to cancel out any resemblance of drawbacks they may have once had?
Giving characters skills so that the imbalance is extenuating beyond the point of no return?
It's a busted mess that turns the PvE section into a challenge to see how badly you can break every rule. Missions end with 50 units that you only payed for a quarter of that slowly cover the AIs screen til there's nowhere left for them to build.
I have not played PvP and for all I could know that may bend the rules too much into unfun territory, but as far as PvE goes its an orchestrated mess that leaves an impeccable impression.
The most refined distillation of what the JRPG genre can offer. A warm and cozy experience yes, but has several moments of emotional character drama that feels genuine rather than forced upon the player. I'd compare it to a long running shounen manga/anime though that'd be an insult since every story beat and location was considered more thoroughly than what would be expected in a pulpy medium. Really has a little bit of everything that makes an traditional JRPG endearing and playable to this day. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to any newcomer curious about the genre since there's a little bit of everything that makes it endearing here.