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In theory, I understand the appeal. There's something cathartic about organizing your clothes and your books and your liquor cabinet, and a game that consists solely of unpacking boxes and decorating rooms in increasingly large and fancy apartments and houses is probably meant to tap right into that joy-sparking feeling of tidying up. But this has to be just the dullest and most monotonous game I've played in years. I have two kids. All I do anymore is take things out of boxes and tidy up by throwing a bunch of shit in a semi-neat pile. There is no joy for me - none! - in doing a simulated version of that with an Xbox controller. You click a box. Out comes a pair of underwear. You move it to the open drawer in the closet. You put it there. You go back to the box. It's another pair of undies. Back to the drawer. Place.Back to the box. Pick up. Back to the drawer. Replace. And so on and so on. Twenty fucking pairs of panties. Six pairs of jeans. Thirty hangers. Thirty things that go on those hangers. One hundred books. Click, move, click, move. Now the kitchen. Now the bathroom! And now it's time to unpack all that same crap all over again in the next apartment. Good lord, the bore this was! But it was short and it looked pretty enough and there's the vaguest hint of a happy story subliminally told, so, not a total waste of my time!


At least as good as Fusion and a thrill from start to finish. Just wish this were a little bit longer and meatier. 2D Metroid never is, I know, and that frenetic and addicting pace is paid for with brevity. Still, I can't help but feel like this needed just ten percent more story or world or power-ups on the back end. It just stops so quickly!


This game low-key sucks, not gonna lie. It was cool for five or ten minutes to play as some Belmont or other (you know, from Smash) and seeing where all their moves came from, but what kind of Castelvania game is level-based? Just a monotnonous side-scroller, no different from a dozen I've played and forgotten about on Sega Genesis. Big fat boo, stinky.


Plenty of people taking this to the cleaners for the... revelations, let's say, and justifiably so. But my bigger issue by far was just that the pointing-and-clicking - the entirety of the gameplay - was just so repetetive and dull by the thirtieth minute or so. I still love what Annapurna Interactive is doing with the medium, but when their games drag, they drag awfully hard.


One of my all time faves. Beat the hell out of this thing five, six, seven times way back when, and haven't touched it in close to twenty years. Finally played the War of the Lions version for the first time - not logging it separately, sorry - and it's thankfully just "more" all around. That's good, because if this game leaves you wanting anything, it's "more." You spend thirty or forty hours training an intricately assembled party but by the end of the game you're overpowered enough to fly right through the story's conclusion. The only reward for manaing to find, poach, or steal the rarest and best items in the game is the items themselves. I've done a handful of self-imposed challenges and this time opted for a "no duplicate equipment" run. Gotta keep things fresh and interesting, you know? The difficulty is still way too unbalanced with three or four insanely hard battles and a shitload of creampuffs, and the learning curve is laughably steep in 2021 - mostly because of how opaque the game is about everything - but man do I love this game and its characters and engine and story. Always have, always will.


Oof. Here's the first big departure from the rest of the Annapurna Interactive Ultimate PS4 Collection for me, the previous four games being one-or-two-sitting experiences, this one more of a ten-hour slog. It's an interactive novel - no less, no more - that feels like a Murakami take on Gothic Americana. Magical realism with a heavy dose of mountain ghost towns and midnight bluegrass. And it started out so strong! An old antique delivery man and his dog are looking to make one last drop-off, but can't find the address. A blind gas station attendant points him toward a TV repairwoman, and one accidental trip down an abandoned mineshaft later, a wormhole of sorts opens up - the titular Kentucky Route Zero - and baby we are off to the races. If only the ensuing chapters could match the opener! For my money, each of the five acts was inferior to its predecessor, to the point where I spent the fourth and fifth just angrily mashing my way through endless streams of text, lamenting what a waste of time it all was. Your mileage may vary, and plenty of people seem to love this thing, but I have to wonder if some of those people just haven't yet discovered, well, books.


This was quick and mostly enjoyable. Would love to see more Nintendo IP spin-offs like this today except this is exactly the kind of video game they could never make today because if they did it'd be a $5.99 smartphone app. Decent little physics puzzle game, really, and thank God for save states because the original design punts your ass all the way back to the first tee if you bogie a couple times. That said, those same save states make the whole thing a 3-hour play at most and expose just how thin and small you used to be able to make a console game if you made it hard enough. C'est la vie!


Another planned abandonment as I kinda play but mostly watch my way through the Devil May Cry series. This one's reputation as an all time disappointment precedes it, and I totally get it. There are two or three small things this does better than the first game but just so many big steps backward. The story's empty and nonsensible (even relative to the first one) and the characterization is nealy absent. Gone as well are all the castle backtracking vibes that gave the first game just a hint of Metroidvania flavor. Can't complain too much - I actually prefer the combat here relative to the original Devil May Cry - but it's definitely a big old bucket of "but why?"


Perfect example of a game I'm just not gonna finish here in 2021. Spent an hour and change getting four missions deep into this and just didn't have it in me to go five or ten more, even on easy mode, so I watched a three-hour Let's Play instead and called it a day. There's a lot to love about this, even if the execution feels a bit rough twenty unfair years later. It's not terrible but the fixed camera and a couple platforming segments make this almost unplayable by modern standards. Still gotta respect the overall vibes of what's so clearly a hack-and-slash Resident Evil inspired by Vincent Valentine, and I appreciate what this was, but I mostly think what it was a precursor to much better partial copycats.


Very tempting to call this "the prettiest SNES game you never got to play on SNES" or something similar but, get real, nothing on the SNES ran this crisp and smooth. Still, what a beautiful and beautifully retro-vibed game this was, often challenging, rarely frustrating, and impeccably designed throughout. The split personality subtext and mountain-as-depression metaphor could have been more subtle, but who cares? With a game this charming and snazzy, a properly told story is just icing on the cake.


Liked this a great deal more than Resident Evil 4, which is (or at least at one point was) the consensus high point of the series. Good mishmash of genres here - all first-person, but a mix of jump scare horror, classic stealth survival, and escape room puzzle solving. The sum of the parts feel greater than the whole to me, and I'll remember so many moments in this game while probably forgetting all about the story, which took a few unsatisfying turns I saw coming and a few I did not.


Haven't played a new release sports game in fifteen years or so, and when this longtime Sony exclusive was made available on Xbox, on Game Pass, on day one, I knew I'd take the plunge. The gameplay is more or less what it's always been, and the things I loved and hated came down to the menus and game modes. Huge fan of the idea of a "diamond dynasty" in which you essentially build up a fantasy team of the best possible players from years past and present. Give this old-ass millennial Frank Thomas, Alfonso Soriano, and Pedro Martinez any day. The flagship "Road to the Show" feature felt like a total slog though, just tons of time spent simulating games and churning through mundane menu text. Huge bummer that you can only have three pitches with a create-a-pitcher, and if they've fixed that via patch by now, who cares? Too little, too late. Another huge issue: the servers constantly crashing. A minor annoyance when you want to start playing a game, but an enormous pain in the ass when you've just spent an hour on a crucial win of some sort and the network shits its pants and bails, erasing your hard-earned W. Need to tear myself away from this one because the dopamine hits associated with unlocking so many players and perks and cards are enough to addict a man, but the time spent here ultimately just isn't worth it with so many other games on the table.


Here's a long overdue update to one of the strangest and most memorable oddities of the N64 era. It's a rail shooter through and through with the crucial subtle tweak where instead of bullets you're shooting digital photos. I don't think this set-up works for any other franchise than Pokémon, and yet it works wonders with Pokémon. This is probably four or five times as big and long and full as the old game, but that also means it began to wear out its welcome just a little, little bit by the end of it all. Would love to revisit this over the years and keep fleshing out the Photodex, but we all know how rare a revisit is in this day and age. Hey, even if I never touch this again, I enjoyed this all the same.


2020

Really enjoyed this in a way I've never loved a roguelike before. The art, the characters, the setting, and the variety of gameplay styles and strategies kept this from growing old and stale as I kept on failing and starting over again and again and again. My big regret here is not enabling God mode sooner, an adaptive difficulty setting that increases your defensive stats by 2% each time you fail. Why did I stubbornly waste 50 escape attempts before turning this feature on? You can always turn it off later if you want the additional challenge! I could easily see myself returning to this well again and again, if only there were so many more hours in the day. Alas...


Four years later and I've taken the dive. Tried this out for an hour or two a few years back and it left me as cold as a Zelda game could. This frustrated and half-apologetic Albert Burneko review sums up how I felt exactly (https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/god-help-me-i-dont-like-the-new-legend-of-zelda-game-1793718635). I'll co-sign on everything he said without repeating much of it, but I'll add that it was neither the limited inventory nor the extremely breakable weapons that sapped my spirits as much as it was the combination of the two. At any rate, that was four years ago and just earlier tonight I dealt the final blow to Calamity Ganon somewhere around the 60-hour mark after logging some heavy hours on this game in the past month or two. I already break it down in memory into three distinct 20-hour sections, each with a different vibe and experience. First came the flustered and overwhelmed and underjoyed component that I've previously described and linked to above. Everything kills you, you can barely climb halfway up a tree, the entire map is black and empty - honestly it just kind of sucks! And then bit by bit you fill out the map and increase your heart count and stamina bar and fill in some map locations, and kind of suddenly you're in the middle chunk of the game, much more confident and capable and empowered to explore. You fill out the map, you're tracking eight side quests at once, you've got multiple story threads unfolding in parallel while you bang out shrine after shrine. And then there's the final third of the game, when the shrines have started drying up and every hour you spend tramping around the vast-but-shrinking Hyrule is yielding diminishing returns on both your power-ups and your enjoyment, so, sure, let's just wrap the whole thing up in short order now. There's a fourth section of the game, an overtime third of the game if you will (that I will not be playing) which would give you a chance to clean up loose ends and track down every shrine in the game. I got to 85 and opted to skip at least half a dozen more that I knew would take fifteen minutes apiece to unlock and finish. Look, at the end of the day I liked this. I almost liked it an awful lot, and it got better and more enjoyable as I went along, and even by fifteen or twenty hours in it was very easy to forget all the headaches and heartbreaks associated with the game early on. But I mean, consider what that means. It means that for fifteen or twenty hours this game is exhausting and tedious and frustrating, and that just kind of sucks. The shrines themselves, and the hunts to find them in some cases, were a true delight and easily the game's highlight. And I thought the divine beasts were fun too - mega shrines, kind of - even if I'd prefered full blown temples. I appreciated more of this game than I disliked, really! But I would much rather play a Twilight Princess or a Wind Waker, let alone an Ocarina of Time, than this big and empty open-world adventure marathon any day. Credit to Nintendo for trying something new here when they could have gone fully derivative. But fuck all that climb-preventing rain, that was dumb as hell!