326 Reviews liked by lihanEAD
Hotel for Dogs
This game taught me what stress is.
A decent enough collection of the first 6 Mega Man games. It doesn't run great all of the time but it offers additional challenges in a cheap package.
It's amazing that there was a time where Nintendo really leaned hard on the whole "Mario is a blue-collar worker living paycheck to paycheck in the inner city" thing. While the Mario of modern times hangs out on golf courses and tennis courts, the Mario of the 80's smashes concrete walls and scrambles to finish a building demolition project before his foreman comes and steals his wages in the bonus rounds. Fame has changed Mario. He no longer remembers the city that raised him.
For the cost of zero dollars you can not only experience the least optimized menus this industry has to offer, but also you can queue into random matches and bully children for overextending into your healing zones.
Papa's Freezeria provides the experience of a retail wage slave job from the comfort of you own home, minus the mental abuse you'd suffer from the customers and your coworkers alike. You'll spend the first hour or two learning the ropes, you'll get a few hours out of chasing stickers, and then you'll slowly realize the gameplay loop (7 customers a day! closers on a set loop! one amigo orders the special! [two with the board]) hasn't changed from maybe the third in game week so you largely go through the motions until you get full completion or quit. As someone who's currently unemployed, it was a fun enough time waster that scratched an itch and now I'm done with it probably forever.
This actually sucks eggs but I like it for some reason
Has a totally unbearable physicality, which is well suited to the format of the return trip 'home'. Resident Evil 7 draws on Tobe Hooper's monstrous families, tempering the blunt force trauma of Texas Chain Saw Massacre with the camp theatrics of its sequel (as well as Eaten Alive, Funhouse). Jack as patriarch welcomes us to the family as his 'son' and for as long as Jack's around, playing dad, we're returned to a kind of infantile paranoia. Things knock upstairs, others rattle against the windows or roof, and to open the door is to build the courage to peer down and look for the monster under the bed. Jack stomps and rages and throws tantrums so we can always see or hear him, but the very presence of Jack turns the Baker house into the site of one's haunted childhood. Then finally, stepping out from his shadow, we burst from the house, and turning around reality sets in. It was trees and creaky floorboards all along. From here it's an action game. A good action game, but these four stars are all for that first act.
Why am i getting robbed on my trashcan house
This isn’t even remotely as morbid a failure as it’s being made out to be (imo this is far from being the worst platformer of the year, let alone of all time), and they clearly responded to what criticism about the demo they could in the small window of time they had, but this is still a very disappointing release from someone of Yuji Naka’s pedigree. There are some real easily corrected choices here that totally perplex me: why do you need a key to unlock the costume pickups when these keys are, without fail, placed directly next to the box pickups and mindlessly accessible? Why are Balan’s Bouts dreary, maliciously unforgiving QTE sequences instead of cute little rhythm games that would enhance the game’s theatrical motifs? Why do you have to “stock” costumes instead of just being able to swap to them once encountered? Like almost everybody, I have LOTS of problems with the game, but it feels a little cruel and incurious to see people hammer so hard on BW for not being this conventionally engaging mechanically tight platformer (none of Yuji Naka’s games really are lol) when to me it seems like Balan’s priorities… clearly aren’t to be that? I agree that the game fails on its potential in a myriad of frustrating ways, but I’d much rather discuss those briefly glimmering unique elements that could have been pushed further rather than rail on it for feeling “dated” while simultaneously condemning it for not being kinesthetically identical to a legacy platformer series that’s pushing 40.
I think, ideally, the game’s one-button input philosophy and limited level design are intended to create a hyper-accessible fanciful spree of cutesy quick changing aesthetics and encouragement--a sugary character randomizer musically shifting between different flavors of low-stakes whimsy--and thats a vibe outline I can definitely see merit in. Sometimes this almost kind of works: a lot of the costumes are goofy and adorable! It’s genuinely kind of fun to get a new suit and wonder what it can do! There are a few rare moments where the level design and powers are in great harmony and the whacko dancing npcs appear and seem to be cheering just 4 u--u go girl!!! Unfortunately, the levels and costumes rarely feel as exuberant and symbiotic as they should to make something like this work, and the game REALLY underestimated just how meaningful any ability that overwrites your jump function needs to be in order to not feel completely disempowering. It can feel patronizing and dull, but it’s absolutely not some utter atrocity of design; The game is internally consistent and it functions coherently within its own parameters, despite them being pretty mystifying and insipid at times--it’s not some Sonic 06 level technical failure in any regard. I was let down by the mechanics, sure, but my real problem is that the game is rarely as bold and engaging an aesthetic experience as something like Nights or Chu Chu Rocket. However, there are still some bits of genuinely quirky individuality I really enjoyed.
The musical theater aesthetic is a totally bonkers camp delight. Some of the scenarios leading to these redemptive dance numbers are hysterical and charming (I particularly love “girl and her dolphin friend had a falling out (???) and need to reconcile”) Seeing the motion-captured choreo kind of poorly translated onto all these wonky deviantart original character costumes has a synthetic but silly sort of jankiness that fully circled back into an earnest and endearing place for me. The cutscenes are genuinely lovely, and the craftworld sort of cgi stuff they do is great. I kind of love the enigmatic stupidity of the Tower O’ Tims and its ever-expanding marshmallow peep Rube Goldberg device that appears to do nothing but exist for its own sake--I couldnt help but laugh when I spent 10 minutes watching the dumb little critters revolve around in their weird merry go round in order to unlock a third “tim trampoline” i literally never saw any of them use. The soundtrack is unequivocally pretty excellent, although it definitely feels a bit slight on tracks.
I have to wonder what a kid playing this would feel like, someone with a looser outlook about what the genre should do, someone with a less claustrophobic understanding of competence/quality than me--someone who can play games and not even compartmentalize them into genre expectations at all! I’m not even sure those kids exist or would care about this game, but the kind of frustrating letdown experience of Balan was still memorable to me despite itself, and playing it had me thinking about my own processing and approaches to design when playing games. And hey, my partner and I have been swinging our little terrier around and belting the game’s wannabe Idina Menzel gibberish anthems to her for the past week so that’s gotta be worth something right!!!
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