Perhaps the best example of what a western RPG can be. Mass Effect 2 sees commander Shepard, burned by the Citadel bureaucracy in Mass Effect 1, shacking up with a less savory organization to achieve their common goals. Rather than the plot-heavy focus of ME1, Mass Effect 2 switches things up by tailoring the gameplay around the character- a majority of the missions in the game are either to find/recruit a new teammate, or to win over their loyalty as you prepare to embark on a potential suicide mission. It rocks, it expands on the universe of ME1 wonderfully, and I haven’t even mentioned how much freedom the game gives you by loading up on renegade and paragon actions to really let your own personality shine (I went as an asshole this second time around). A decade later, it still holds up, and I’m excited to replay 3 soon.

Oh yeah my one knock that keeps it at a 4.5- I like to read dialog and press X to skip to the next line in the conversation before the character finishes speaking, but doing this too much locks you out of taking some non-neutral actions in your conversations. That was a little annoying.

I love a good narrative-heavy game, so I was excited about Kentucky Route Zero, but it just didn’t sit right with me at all after the first chapter. I was bored to tears. Might be the highest ratio of time spent checking my phone to playing a game I’ve ever had, I’m not going to waste my time with the rest of this.

Cool idea for a game, pulled off about as well as I can imagine- you’re reinvestigating a years-old murder by studying some long-forgotten witness testimony tapes, but the catch is you can only view them by plugging in the right keyword based on what you’ve watched so far. Maybe you watch a video that mentions a new name, or location, well you can check that and see what other information is available; there’s hundreds of clips, so it’s satisfying investigating and unlocking more and more clips. Personally I pulled out my notepad app and had a stack of topics that grew to 40 or 50 long as I tried to put the whole story together. What’s even more impressive is that even though all of the clips in the game could conceivably be viewed in near-infinite different number of orders, Her Story still manages to weave a plot together, with twists and a strong sense of pacing. Cool stuff! I’ve heard nothing but bad things about follow-up Telling Lies, so I guess I’ll skip it.

Mixed feelings on this one. Trek to Yomi is a short ode to samurai movies that has striking visuals, with a grayscale palette and fixed camera angles, scratchy audio and faux-film irregularities- it really does look like an old movie sometimes, and that’s just great. The world here is fun to explore around, as I loved how most of the little nooks and crannies were hidden into the environment. But combat, the meat of the whole game, always felt sluggish- maybe I’m just not patient enough to be a true samurai? I found it odd that on normal difficulty I rarely had much difficulty with boss fights, but random encounters would frequently kick my ass. Also frustrating was how often the game would force my character into scenarios where he couldn’t turn back- often I would notice two paths forward, take a guess at which one was the true path forward and which was the side quest, and if I guessed wrong then those collectibles were just sealed off. How is that fun?

Overall a cool idea, but even with its short length I’d only recommend playing the first chapter or two of Trek to Yomi.

Just completed my 50-hour nostalgia trip after not playing a first-gen Pokémon in any capacity since the 90s. Some parts don’t hold up, but this remake smooths out a lot of rough edges while not losing the charm of the original. Will probably stick with this for a few more days to try to fill out as much of the Pokédex as I can.

Why did I play these games out of order like ten years ago? Now that I have replayed them the right way on the 3DS rerelease, Trials and Tribulations is an obvious masterpiece capped off with a glorious final trial that wraps up everything in the whole trilogy, in a way that clearly has been planned since the beginning (or at least part 2). The missteps of Justice for All have been corrected. Now how will the second trilogy hold up?

Bumping the score on this one up slightly- the story is better than I remembered it, and it lays a great foundation for the rest of the series to build on. The choose-your-own-adventure aspects work great. Dull combat, driving sections and planet exploration weigh Mass Effect down though, and the character animations certainly haven’t aged well. Still, I’m looking forward to replaying ME2 which I remember liking a lot more.

This review contains spoilers

Perhaps the slowest 2 hour game I have ever played. Dialog crawls along in no hurry. The cursor moves like it’s scrolling through molasses. “Puzzles” don’t seem to exist, gameplay consists mostly of shambling around and making pixel-perfect clicks on objects until the scene unceremoniously ends. There’s multiple endings available to piece together a mystery, but I feel no need to keep going. I like the idea of a horror/adventure game hybrid, but the execution here was terrible. Maybe Clock Tower 2 will be better?

I’ve heard the first two Persona games are not nearly as beloved as the next three, so I’m not ready to give up on this series yet. But playing Persona 2 on PSP might be my least favorite rpg experience I’ve ever had. Boring corridors filled with generic enemies, inscrutable gameplay, some kind of overwrought card system. I actually liked the characters and was interested to see where the story was going, at least compared to the first game, but it’s unlikely I ever come back to see how it turns out. An early dungeon where you’re wandering lost in the basement of a school features some of my least favorite game design of all time, and I didn’t make it much further before I had to call it quits.

Wish I liked this more, as I was a big fan of Super Mario Land 2 when I was a kid, but I never got around to playing the sequel. Wario Land is another 2D sidescroller where you collect coins, but the differences here, especially with controls, are stark. Where Mario is speedy and agile, Wario is a slow bruiser more focused on combat than platforming. Levels here just kind of end after a while, with little interesting build to the design. I personally don't find it nearly as fun, but I'm hoping this laid the foundation for better games to come in the Wario Land series.

An obvious step down from the first Phoenix Wright, with low points including the consensus worst case of the series as well as the extremely creepy portrayal of a new character during her channeling, which I honestly can’t believe was left in for all the remakes and rereleases. On the other hand, introducing psych-locks is a great way to make the investigation portions more interesting, by making them more like trials.

The first game I really really loved, played for the first time in ~30 years. It holds up! Shorter than I remember, and missing some of the bells and whistles of Mario’s home console games of the time, but a major step up over Super Mario Land and Mario controls just as well as ever.

Maybe I just needed less of a challenge, but man did this feel way better than the first GBA Fire Emblem.

Played this for a few hours to see what the big deal is, and yeah Forza Horizon 4 is pretty great. But car racing has just never been my thing, so I feel no need to finish this.

There's plenty of issues here- unmemorable characters in a non-existent story, a card system that never really clicked with me, some very unintuitive menus, long loading times- but I had plenty of fun playing through this with my friends over the course of a month anyway. Co-op zombie killing is back, baby!