Review #1 - 2023
Peter Gabriel, the artist, the activist, the appreciator of music from around the world. This CD-ROM experience brings you all 3 of these notions into his interactive point-and-click "secret world", where you'll discover not just his music, but music from around the globe, as it showcases several many artists from his label, Real World Studios, a recording label that provides a means for artists all over the world to record and share their music on a global scale. Not only that, you'll discover WOMAD, yet another opportunity started by Gabriel, that showcases these artists from around the world, live and on stage in a festival weekend setting. Real World and WOMAD are still going on to this day, so it's cool seeing it's early beginnings!
Given his love for world music, you'll learn about different cultures, and the instruments they wield. It's actually an idea I've had for a long time to create a game where you explore a globe, and learn about music and how culture spreads. This game has that going on in a smaller scale, and I absolutely adore what it's trying to achieve.
There's all kinds of oddities to find in this game, so definitely explore your options, and keep an eye out for Easter eggs along the way for you to click on! I will however warn you, that there is a section that brings awareness to the horrible human rights violations that were going on at the time, and really, still going on today. It's a video about his WITNESS organization, a project that aims to bring cameras to people all over the world, so they can film and bring to light the injustices happening on the daily. Just know, the video has some horrifying and graphic footage.
Xplora is a testament to Gabriel's care for the world. It goes beyond the music and culture. He aims to help us get a little bit closer to a world where a culture and its peoples aren't held back by the cruel injustices we see time and time again. The fact that Real World, WOMAD, and WITNESS is still around today, proves that his outreach is doing something good. We should all aim to do something bigger than ourselves to make the world a better place, and I find music to be an incredible tool to do just that.

Review #7 - 2022
This is a game I hold dearly to my heart. I remember it fondly, but never had a means to relive it, until I discovered the wonderful world of Virtual Machines. Indeed, I did what I needed to do, installed the game into my virtual XP, and voilà, that ear worm of an intro starts playing, and I was transported back into that elementary school computer lab. Things were about to get wacky!
And it's exactly as I remembered! Wacky brushes and pens and stamps galore. Many different ways to manipulate your paintings with the whisk tool, as well as all kinds of textures to make your digital paintings pop! There's backgrounds and sounds to go with your image to bring them to life, a stick of dynamite to start fresh, and of course, the unforgettable undo button. I click it, and I get an autotuned "Now wait a minute!" to fix my mistake. Gosh I missed this game.
Kid Pix began as a way to make digital painting fun, and it certainly succeeded, inspiring many children like myself back in the day, to create and let their imaginations soar as they did so. It's still much fun to mess with as an adult, and I'm certain that if you share this with the next generation, they'll enjoy it too!

Review #6 - 2022
This is the peak Resident Evil experience when it comes to the main series (at least pre-RE7). It has an engaging, action-packed story that takes a now tenured Leon S. Kennedy far from Racoon City, and into a remote location in Spain, where the virus that's plaguing the world by storm is continuing to be innovated on by more power hungry zealots.
This is the PC version I'm writing on of course, so I'll save my thoughts on the game as a whole for another day. More specifically though, I played the RE4 HD Project, which mods the not so great PC port, and makes it much better. It even plays great on my Ultra Wide screen, but I did notice screen tearing while in water locations (the boat segment for example). All and all, it's a pretty decent upgrade, and makes my favorite game even more immersive. I just can't get enough of the action, the horror, and that sweet, sweet treasure hunting too. It's nice to be able to revisit this game with ease on my PC!

Dev Mailbag Review #3 - 2022
This JRPG inspired title has you playing as a daring adventurer aching to see the world, only to find himself embarking on a treacherous journey that will lead him and his friends toward a destiny bigger than themselves. It plays the way you'd expect using classic JRPG mechanics, but also uses a clever QTE system to make the turn-based combat more interactive. It's fully voice acted, and features a beautiful soundtrack to go along with this epic tale. Don't be fooled by the look of this game either, for this is a fully developed story that provides you with 8-10 hours of gameplay. Definitely give this game a shot.

Dev Mailbag Review #2 - 2022
Bluejay's Dev Mailbag
A "pick-up-and-play" arcade space shooter that has you saving little alien fellas in order to progress to each section. There's nothing much else to it than that, but it's addictive, and easy to get lost in trying to get farther along.

Review #4 - 2021
Never have I ever played a game that made me tremble with fear upon first booting it up. Even with the company of friends, I was extremely unsettled the entire time. The sound design is so fine tuned to your surroundings, that every little noise you hear feels as if it were happening in the very room you're sitting in. Playing with headphones is a MUST, unless of course you have a fantastic surround sound system, which works just as well if not better (can confirm).
It's best played with friends, for working together to figure out what ghost you're dealing with is such a fun thing to experience. Sometimes you have to "split up gang" which can lead to some funny, and terrifying results. My first session ended with me all by myself, with no one to talk to. I was MORTIFYED. The fear never wore off even after the 2 or so hours we played. It was a real blast, and a highly immersive one at that.
It's janky looking in a lot of places, but it's the tension this game builds, and the thrill of being chased by feral haunts that makes this game worth the while. If you're a scaredy cat like me and love getting spooked, you're going to have a good time (playing by yourself in the dark is something I highly recommend). If you don't get scared easily, you'll probably get tired of the gameplay loop very quickly. I for one, had an unforgettable time, and look forward to getting the gang together again for more haunts.

Review #5 - 2022
Played this on a whim with a friend of mine, for this was one of his favorite games to play as a kid. This was my first time playing this game, and it was cool seeing a game further down the console's line of releases as I trek through the PlayStation's history of US releases chronologically. Jumping from 1995 to 1999 shows much stride in terms of improvements through how they looked, played, and felt. Something I noticed from the get go, was the game's physics and particle engines (if those are the things at play here of course). The way the environment reacts to your sled as you bob and weave through the snow is satisfying to watch. Every movement you make feels heavy, yet smooth, which is what I imagine driving a sled feels like.
As for the gameplay itself, it's very simple. You have a course, you race other racers, and you do simple tricks on the way for points. We didn't dive into the different modes, but from the half hour we played, I got the gist of it. It's a pick up and play arcade racer, that's fun for a bit. I eventually got burnt out from seeing nothing but snow after awhile, and so, we moved on to something else.

Review #4 - 2022
This one isn't a puzzle game. You don't use previous guesses to help aid your quest to find the solution. This one relies solely on your listening habits, and your ability to remember songs. It's a neat little guessing game that's enjoyable if you love trying to figure out what a song is, and that's about it. You have 6 tries to guess the song with the 16 second clip that's provided. Each try unveils more of the 16 seconds, but after 6 tries, the rest of the song is revealed, and you're left either going "hey, to be fair, I've never heard this before", or "I hate myself, how could I have forgotten this song". I like to play this live with my Twitch audience every other day as chat loses their minds waiting for me to guess a song they already know, or lose their minds at me guessing in one try. Sometimes you discover something you haven't heard before which is a plus for me after taking an L. It's a neat little trivia game that you can play on the daily.

Review #3 - 2022
This is one of those games that's incredible it even happened. The Beatles are extremely strict when it comes to how their music is handled, and the fact they managed to muster up the trust to let Harmonix create a plastic instrument game with their music, is such a lightning in a bottle moment in time. I'm not sure who approached who, but however it went down, I'm glad it did. Given that a major day was coming up known as Beatles Day 9/9/09 (perhaps this date was picked due to this little bluesy romp), where they'd release new remasters of all 12 of their albums, I imagine it just made sense to get this game together for such an awesome day, which would also be its release date.
I played this game with friends the moment it dropped. A friend of mine picked up the full band set, which consisted of replicas based on real Beatles instruments: Paul's Höfner bass and Ringo's Black Oyster Pearl drumkit (John's Rickenbacker 325 and George's Gretsch Duo Jet were sold separately). It also included a mic of course, as well as a Beatles logo drum head which attached to your drum kit. It was a well put together set, that I managed to finally get my hands on through eBay just a few years ago. Also, I'll never forget watching that incredible opening animation for the first time. I had goosebumps for days.
This would be my first real exposure to the Beatles' music, having only heard their early to mid 60s hits that were often played on oldies radio. I had never heard their experimental/abstract works, so this game opened that door for me, and as a 10th grader dying to take in something mind blowing and new, I was absolutely captivated.
It wasn't until my adulthood, that I'd finally get to take in all this game had to offer. As mentioned previously, I purchased the full band set on eBay, and made up for lost time, since we couldn't afford to buy such a thing back when I was in high school. I got to share this game with my wife, for she too is a big Beatles fan (being Beatles fans is how we first met funny enough). We played through the game's story mode, which takes you through each iconic year of the Beatles' career, starting from the days when they'd play in the Cavern Club as young lads, all the way to their breathtaking rooftop concert in 1969, which led up to their disbandment. You experience their touring years at the peak of their popularity, and get to hang out in Abbey Road studios, as they began to wind down from the Beatlemania, in order to create experimental works of psychedelic rock. As you progress, depending on how well you did score wise, you can unlock photographs that each come with a brief biography detailing that particular moment the photo was taken. It also features rare videos and performances, each too with their own set of biographical documentation. It's like a museum of you can play in, and I adore the amount of love and detail this game was given.
The setlist is incredible, and if you were able to get ahold of the DLC which were 3 full albums (Sgt. Pepper, Rubber Soul, and Abbey Road), then you'd have plenty to play along with. There were some misses though, like "Hey Jude" for example, but there's enough hits and deep cuts on here that you'd almost forget what's missing. There were 45 songs on disc, and with the DLC, a combined total of 73 (74 if you had the Xbox 360 exclusive "All You Need Is Love), and that's a lot of Beatles to enjoy. Each song has its own beautiful back drops depending on the era the song takes place in. If you're playing "Can't Buy Me Love", you're playing at the Ed Sullivan Theater in 1964. If you're playing "And Your Bird Can Sing", you're playing at the Budokan in 1966. Now, if you're playing their songs from their studio years, the devs came up with "dreamscapes" to take you to higher places, with each scape animated differently to fit the music and lyrics of each individual song. Some assets get reused, like the rolling hills with the trees, but are given different colors based on the tone of the song. "Here Comes the Sun" is bright and cheerful, full of lovely yellows, blues and greens, but then you get to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", which dampens those colors, and brings out more darker tones, such as browns, dusty yellows and greens.
So much detail, so much art, and I almost forgot the most important aspect. It's fun. So so flippin fun. Fun to play solo to get gud with the scores, and so flippin fun with family and friends. This is a game I play often with my siblings, for we love to pick an instrument, set a mic in front of us, and play our role as well as sing 3 part harmonies, as the game was intended. We perform for our Mom, as we let her drop requests since she grew up with these classic tunes. And with an amazing project ran by talented modders, there's even MORE music for you to enjoy, which keeps this game alive, and full of potential.
I totally understand and get it when people tell me The Beatles are overrated. It's not fun to be told that, but I totally get it, and I wouldn't take that notion away from them even if I could. Maybe to many, this is just another band. For me, they were a band I discovered through my parents, and through this game, discovered so much more. They fueled my own desire to make music, to collaborate, and to spread love with my art. I began to look into their music as individuals, and got excited for what I could do with my own music. They got a whole generation of kids to reject the bullshit around them, and come together on a mission of love, and peace. They also introduced the west to sounds and ideas from India, which opened the hearts and minds of many to try new things, and discover that there is so much more in this world than the nation they lived in. I just think that's the coolest thing, and something people STILL should learn.
The game's story mode ends with a beautiful animated scene that shows them playing "The End" on a rooftop overlooking London during Golden Hour. It leaves us with my favorite Beatles lyric: "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make". It moves me every time, and leaves my heart full and ready to make something that will impact the world, just like The Beatles impacted me. This game introduced me to all that, and is an astonishing love letter that captivates, inspires, and tells the story of 4 young lads, who innovated the way rock music is played, and perceived, just by coming together, and doing what they loved.

Dev Mailbag Review #1 - 2022
"Dexter Stardust: Adventures in Outer Space"
Bluejay's Dev Mailbag
There is a trend in point-and-click adventures that build off of the past in terms of nostalgia. Some do it in a way that isn't distracting, while others spend too much time remembering the good ol days. That's really the downside of "Dexter Stardust", a point-and-click adventure that tells the story of Dexter, an ordinary guy working for a space delivery service, that gets caught up in a conflict that just so happens to be tied to his past.
The gameplay is fine, for it does what a point-and-click should do, and sticks to that. You find key items that'll help you progress through the area, and discover the story along the way. It has some moments that I found to be entertaining in terms of its sense of humor, but sometimes, it would drag those gags on a bit too long, which left me tired. It didn't help that it would spend a long time on exposition and drawn out dialogue that definitely could have used some trimming down. I was interested in going through the chapter, but these issues I just mentioned certainly left me feeling quite sleepy. It also spends a lot of time trying to feed you "memberberries", making jokes and references based around classic point-and-click adventure game moments, which were a bit distracting after awhile.
The story of Dexter and the unfolding of his past around the game's conflict is certainly curious, but the forced humor, drawn out dialogue that goes nowhere, and nostalgic references certainly get in the way. Tonally, it's trying to tell a somewhat dark story, but also wants to be whimsical and goofy, and so it feels disjointed. The gameplay itself is well made, and the item puzzles are clever, so I wouldn't give it too much of a bad rep. It's just tough for me to enjoy with those things I mentioned. Just makes me sleepy.

Review #2 - 2022
I've never forgotten the first time I discovered this game. It was the mid 2000s, and I had borrowed a copy of "Command & Conquer: Red Alert" from 1996. In it, was a trailer that showed off the high fantasy world of "Lands of Lore", full of scary and mysterious imagery that made my childhood imagination run wild. I was particularly enamored by the synthesized orchestral music that started off with brooding tribal beats, and quickly became heightened with intense strings and fast paced drums, like something out of a thriller. It showed off a gameplay experience that I immediately wanted to try for myself, and after a little over 10 years now, I finally gave it a try, thanks to the selection of classics provided by EA's Origin online store.
It was everything I was hoping it would be. Beautiful, mysterious, adventurous, wonderful. It's full of sharp color and marvelous graphics that at the time, would have blew my mind. Even in this day and age, I am captivated by the look of this title. I'm a sucker for prerendered graphics. They just have this look about them that I can't describe. It's incredibly charming. They even combine live action elements as many games did at the time, and I just can't get enough of that cheesy goodness.
I had never played a first person title from this era before, so the control scheme was quite jarring, but I quickly figured it out, and was impressed by how they managed to make this work. Moving forward and backward and looking left and right all with the arrow keys. The mouse is freed up for pointing and clicking, though you can also use the mouse to move around in the same way. I'm thankful we've found a better standard for first person controlled games, but it's cool experiencing a game controlled in this way.
I haven't gotten super deep into the game, for I only did one stream just to give it a shot, but I would love to give it a full playthrough in the future. I loved what I got to experience, from the witty characters, to the intricate world that Westwood designed. The music is also incredible, giving off those medieval fantasy vibes through that classic 90s soundfont that I adore so much. There's a fantastic story here that makes me feel like I should experience the first one before I go deeper into this. Indeed, there is a trilogy of these games, and thanks to Origin, you can find them all there.

Review #1 - 2022
The game that took the world by storm. "Wordle" is a daily word puzzler that has you guessing a 5 letter word in 6 tries, and that's the game! This was a great routine for me, for it gave me something to look forward to each morning before work. I kept up with it on a consistent basis, that was until the New York Times bought up the game. I enjoyed the challenge of the niche words they'd provide, but they never really balanced those words out. Each day was a new toughie, and after several fails, I got burnt out from playing it. I guess that speaks more on my ability to guess the words than it does on the game itself, but maybe others relate.
Ultimately, it's a brilliant idea of a game, since the whole world is working to solve the same word as you are, which made it perfect for social media. I enjoyed seeing people share their attempts to compare. It reminded me of "Pokémon GO" back when it first dropped, and how it brought the whole world together for a moment in time. The craze has died off as things do, but I still see people talking about their daily Wordle, which is nice to see. Maybe I'll get back into it sometime, and give it another go. Despite my burn out, I still find it to be a lovely thing, and I'm glad it exists.

Dev Mailbag Review #1 - 2021
I haven't played a point-and-click adventure game since I was a child, so being sent this title by the publisher was a real treat. You play as Lone McLonegan, the titular character trying to reclaim his place as the most notorious bad guy of the west. It's your standard point-and-click faire, having you interact with various objects and characters in search for key items in order to progress. What makes this game stand out, is its fantastic sense of humor. The gags remind me of the kind you'd see in a show like "Futurama", where the jokes catch you off guard with unusual "out of left field" punchlines, either through visual bits or dialogue driven ones. It breaks the 4th wall, and often parodies its point-and-click ancestors. I enjoyed visiting each area in order to see what silly antics would be up next. Fun characters, great setting, and offers a good challenge. Just good, cheesy fun!

Review #3 - 2021
Have yet to experience the campaign which I imagine is quite great. All I can speak for is the multiplayer stuff, which really, is just fine, as many have found. I played it every now and again with friends, but we ultimately found ourselves jumping back to the Master Chief Collection when we wanted a good Halo session, and that's pretty much where we have remained. I can't really explain what makes Infinite's multiplayer just okay. I'll leave that up to those who understand all those ins and outs. All I know, is that it left me feeling like it could be so much more somehow.

Review #2 - 2021
One of the most memorable edutainment experiences I ever had. I can't really explain why. Something about the pre-rendered environments, the ambient music, and witty characters, make for a wonderful time. Unlike previous Jump Start entries, this one has you embarking on an adventure, hence the title. This isn't just "Jump Start 3rd Grade", this is "Jump Start ADVENTURES 3rd Grade", which has you ordering around Botley, a robot who's trying to stop the Professor's daughter, Polly, from rearranging history in order to pass her history test. It's a goofy premise, that has you exploring the Professor's magnificent castle, filled to the brim with areas all inspired by different subjects, ranging from math, science, art, and more. Each area has its own set of minigames to educate and test your knowledge of said subjects. You are rewarded items for playing those games, that will help you on your quest to save history as we know it, which is quite a clever way to make learning fun. It helped me a lot as a kid, and I hope there are programs out there just like this for the children of today. Knowledge Adventure's "Jump Start" franchise really was a masterclass on how to do edutainment right.