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God of War
checked out the ign walkthrough to see how far through this chore i was and almost started crying when i saw the video linked for "how to find the infinity gauntlet easter egg" guys i can't do it
this is literally stale white bread in video game form like i don't get it!! what do we all like so much about this?? i see the upgrade menu and the quest log and all the useless extra skills and my eyes glaze over instantly. i literally have not felt less of a drive to keep playing something since i trudged through bioshock infinite. this thing is 20 hours long apparently and even with my relatively generous amount of free time i absolutely cannot imagine getting through all of that
also the combat is barely functional and contextually boring as shit, i've been spoiled by other games that make an effort to characterise their enemies bc seriously - what is there to be engaged by while i'm fighting generic troll #8 or a fucking stone golem. at the worst of times there's absolutely nothing here
i'm gonna go retreat back to my cave. fallout 2 here we come babeyyyyy!!!
Forza Horizon 5
Armored Core 4
i'll save my "miyazaki peaked so early" judgement for after playing For Answer but this game plays so much better than any of the souls games to me. pretty incredible directorial debut. might be strange to describe this game as "comfy" seeing as how it's about being a mercenary in a planet-destroying war between imperial corporations who recuperate anti-establishment movements to sabotage each other but as lean as the storytelling is, the friendship between the raven and fiona is really quite what makes this whole thing work for me. the "i'm glad youre alright, let's go home" at the end of every mission is so fulfilling, it's a kind of reinforcement, of acknowledging your struggles and wishing you well, i wish games that ask more of your skills like this used more often rather than exclusively relying on 'personal accomplishment' i guess as the singular emotion to go for.
Dragon Age: Origins
ok so. like. here's the deal. a lot of rpgs make their mid/late/endgame grinds about minmaxing stats, optimizing builds, getting Sick Loot, unlocks, tiers of equipment, how many pluses on your sword, what color is your armor. this is not to say there is none of this here, i mean you get quite a bit of build variety and there's a decent amount of loot throughout, but the actual endgame is all about the wacky sexual adventures of your protagonist. your party witch can get impregnated by the idiot boy toy prince or the secondary villain; in so doing she can also cuck you; if you get cucked here, and you're an elven female, your boyfriend can also dump you for a queen and offer you a consolation concubine position; midgame strategies require that you recruit a would be twink elf assassin and a nun, and "harden" the nuns happy go lucky personality to something darker and more ruthless to negotiate a fourway in a brothel with a pirate; if you try to shoot your load with the witch to early she ices you out; if you were the one to knock her up with a dragon hellspawn baby, well, you gotta go on a wild goose chase in the dlc to get closure. there's sort of this bizarre erotic comedy angle to this game that it plays often pretty stone-faced, which sorta makes the whole game. obviously you might hate this kind of game; to me, more western rpgs need to aspire towards this uncapped bacchanalia.
Gossip Girl 2007 is not what I would describe as a particularly good looking show. Despite the CW’s current status as the titan of low budget basic cable tv, in the mid-2000s they were a much scrappier player in the low budget tv realm, the thin-stretched money a lot more apparent on the screen than it is in the flashy likes of Riverdale or Superman and Lois, shows that manage to look and sound respectable within their wheelhouses even as they are very clearly and unashamedly What The Are. That’s part of the appeal of most of the genre fare served up by the network that hasn’t changed since 2007; no airs, no prestige façade, just down and dirty, often goofy, completely unselfconscious pleasures. In a way, the extremely obvious cheapness of the productions was part of the charm, especially for a show like Gossip Girl, which purports to be about the flash and glamour of the elite of the elite of the elite of New York. So if we’re the richest people in the country, why does everyone look so TACKY all the time? Why does their hair look SO bad? Why is there no discernable difference between the rich kids and their token Poor Friend? Why do all the events they go to suck so much ass. Everything is so BORING and SHITTY and UGLY but it kind of feels like part of the joke? Part of this is definitely just that tastes change, for sure. It is a FACT that after a certain point most of the costumes for this show were custom designs by real New York high fashion designers. Somehow it doesn’t save it when the rest of the production is so…like that. But it doesn’t matter. We’re all having fun. It’s Gossip Girl.
Gossip Girl 21 could not possibly be more different in this regard. The money gulf between HBO and The CW couldn’t be wider and it shows from the first second of the first minute of the first episode. And it kind of had to be, right? Our cultural relationship with wealth and the wealthy is so vastly different today than it was in 2007 or even in 2012 when the original show ended, especially when it comes to teens and the way the world of social media influencers factors into those conversations. These teens can’t just be rich socialites going to fashion industry parties and WASPy summer get togethers; they have to, to some degree, be people who are believable celebrities in the never-turned-off, entirely fickle, desperately cutthroat world of Teen Instagram, where only the most perfect façade will even get you in the door. To that end it all has to be perfect – every set immaculate, every outfit and costume incredible (even with the switch from designers to fast fashion), on the pulse, every actor flawlessly attractive, no hair out of place. These elements can’t just be good; they have to be arch. I firmly believe that GG21 couldn’t be about anything it’s interested in being about without making these intense aesthetic changes.
Which is why, despite these things being present, it’s so disappointing that the show is so UGLY to look at. So BLAND. The same flat digital cinematography and hideous brownish color palette as every other “prestige” tv show from the last ten years, the same dim lighting to imitate atmosphere, the same problem so many other HBO shows have of substituting a lot of money for time and effort. Every cent of it is on the screen, lavishly, but it’s soulless, dull, boring. In a series so much about balancing that façade, it’s a shame that behind the scenes the people in charge failed to find that balance so spectacularly.
These are the colors and feelings I have on my mind when I boot up Kirby’s Adventure, which like its predecessor and eventual sequel, opens its first screen in stark black and white. Captions narrate the creation of our hero as their conception plays out on screen:
FIRST YOU DRAW A CIRCLE. THEN YOU DOT THE EYES. ADD A GREAT BIG SMILE. AND PRESTO, IT’S KIRBY!
And in that moment Kirby is struck violently with a paintbrush (it clearly hurts them it’s very funny) and splashes them with the vibrant pinks and reds they were born to wear. In the wake of the GG21 soup I’ve been staring into, the NES rendition of Dream Land is fuckin popping at all times, and across a wider swathe of levels and locales than would be seen for a long time in the series there are a lot of chances to show off. Even aside from the color palette, the game is a visual feast all around; this is a very late NES game and the Kirby team is totally flexing on the hardware, squeezing every drop of style and charm out of the little gray box. Kirby has so many gorgeous, characterful animations for so many specific and occasionally unique ways of interacting with level geometry. It’s wild. Levels are big and full of branching paths and secrets, the music rips (I know the Kirby series is most sonically famous for its 16 bit tunes but there’s great shit here), and there are good spins on bosses that would become more consistent and tired over time. I also realized about halfway through that this is not just a game that future games would draw on design-wise but in fact that my first ever Kirby game, the GBA’s Nightmare in Dreamland, is actually a direct remake of this one, which is why it all seemed so familiar lol. It makes sense! I’m very smart.
The game is good.
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