4-3 Pokémon Sword and Shield: Yay or Nay?

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the eighth generation of the Pokémon video game series, developed for the Nintendo Switch. When I saw that the gameplay leaned a bit more towards the gameplay style of Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! I held of on my purchase.

Don’t get me wrong, the game looks gorgeous and I am interested in the new region (the new Galar region which is based on the United Kingdom). But something about the game just feels and looks off. Maybe I’ve just outgrown the series.

And yet, I’m still considering picking it up. I think I’ll continue to hold off for now, maybe if I find a used copy that is discounted, I might take that plunge. But all of the reviews I’ve read lean towards the perspective that it’s good but not great and that it lands a bit flat.

4-1 The Story of Donkey Kong in Manga Form

A brilliant retelling of the 1981 and 1994 Donkey Kong story.

This is a lovely video, a narrated translation of a manga, The Story of Donkey Kong featuring all of our favorite Nintendo pals: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Pauline and of course Donkey Kong. A lovely distraction during these trying times.

3-5 What Are You Playing?: Everyone’s A Gamer Now

It seems like everyone is gaming these days. Just try and find a Nintendo Switch, good luck. I get it though, we have all this time on our hands and gaming is a great way to socialize with each other. Even if you’re not playing an online multiplayer game, there’s a sense of community because you’re playing a game that others have played. There are resources out there for you to seek out, videos to watch to learn tips & tricks, livestreams of people speeed-running the game. You’re not alone in playing a game. There’s a whole industry and community of people behind those buttons you’re clicking. And there’s a comfort in that.

I’m not super into online gaming. It’s not a thing I’ve really been about. I’m a solo gamer who likes to do my own thing. There are a bunch of reasons for this, but the main one is that I’m very idiosyncratic with my gameplay and I’ll play something for 3 minutes and decide I’m not in that mood and move on to something else. I don’t want to have to deal with another person and possibly hurting their feelings because my brain is weird and operates in its own distinct way.

I hope all of you are staying safe and surviving the quarantine. Be sure to practice safe social distancing. It does work, it does matter, and we are seeing progress.

Here’s what I’ve been playing:

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Hitman 2
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Divinity Original Sin 2
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

A hodge-podge of RPGs and crafting simulators. That’s just been the mood. Happy Gaming.

3-3 Self Quarantine: We’re All Gaming Now

I’m sorry this blog has been so silent as of late. The months of January & February are pretty rough for my mental health and I retreat into myself. I find myself just going through the motions and playing games to not think about all the things that feel so heavy.

And now because of the Novel Coronavirus, we’re all trying to cope and distract ourselves from thinking too many doomsday despair-like thoughts.

The only good thing about this entire ordeal is that there has never been a better time to go through your backlog and play the games you’ve been wanting to play. We also live in a golden-era of gaming, there’s SOOO much available to us on so many different platforms. Whether you’re a mobile gamer, PC gamer, console warrior, or into table top boardgames, you have a world of games to choose from.

Here’s a list of games I’m currently dabbling with:

  • Nioh 2
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Hollow Knight
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Borderlands 3
  • Sniper Elite 4
  • Code Vein
  • Binding of Isaac

Stay safe, practice good hygiene (social distancing and the cleaning of hands with soap & water). And remember to be kind, we’re all in this together, we’re all on the same rock, trying to figure this out and stay alive.

2-12 List Part II: A More Thorough Explanation of My Favorite Games of 2019

Just a week and a half ago I shared my favorite games of 2019. You can scroll down a little bit to see the full list. For those who are too lazy to click/scroll, I’ll re-share here:

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Tetris 99
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Death Stranding
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • River City Girls
  • Slay the Spire
  • Void Bastards
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

I loved every single one of these games. That being said, I didn’t really venture into the why or the what of it all. So I’m expanding a bit more on this list and breaking down these games into some more specific categories. I’m also touching on some more games that I left off of the list because I had to make a cut-off at some point. Anywho, here goes.

Games I Wish I had Played More of This Year

Outer Wilds, 2019

It’s not on my list but my first impressions of the game were quite strong (I left if off because it felt unfair to list this game without having played more than a few hours), and that game is Outer Wilds, not to be confused with The Outer Worlds. I need to give myself some time to venture back into this game, it deserves more of my time and attention.

Void Bastards, 2019

Another game I wish I had spent more time with this year is Void Bastards. That did make my list but I need to circle back because it’s a game that I was really enjoying and then set aside because I’m like a small child or puppy that is always distracted by the next thing in front of my nose. I also just want to note that Void Bastards has the most unique visual art style, done like an illustration/comic.

Games That Are Legitimately the Best Games of the Year for Me

Slay the Spire is one of the most amazing rogue-like card based games. It has a very seductive and dangerous game-play loop that will absolutely eat up hours of your life. I should admit, I have a problem (addiction?) to rogue-like/lite games. Don’t even get me started on how many hours The Binding of Isaac has taken from me.

But back to Slay the Spire. Just buy it and play it. If I could recommend a single game to a person that I know nothing about, it’s this game. It’s the type of game that pulls people into gaming even if they’re uninterested in gaming. It’s just that engaging. It’s also very approachable, the mechanics of the game are simple and easy to understand.

The other game that I would consider best game of the year is Super Mario Maker 2. This game is a delight to play whether you are someone who wants to create your own levels, or whether you want to just play an infinite number of levels created by strangers from around the world. If you’re into speedrunning or kaizo-mario (intentionally difficult masochistic levels), SMM2 has hours and hours of game-play to enjoy. There’s just so much variety and so much to consume, you’ll never be bored and there’s always something new being created.

Games I Should Have Added to My List from a Week Ago

Control, 2019

Control. Control should be on my list and if I’m being honest, it belongs in the Top 5. I’ll leave my list unedited but I really wish I had put this in my list because it’s such a weird and lovely game to be inside of. It’s like an episode of Fringe & X-Files with a dash of Twin Peaks, combine that with game-play that feels reminiscent of Prey & the Dishonored series, you have a recipe for one of the greatest games of 2019.

Blasphemous, 2019

How did I forget about Blasphemous. This is a gothic metroidvania side-scrolling “souls-like” platformer. It has this beautifully dark aesthetic and the combat feels good. It should also have been in my Top 5 but it somehow slipped my mind when I was making that list up a week ago. If you can find a way to play this game, do so, it’s time well spent and you will not regret the purchase.

It’s been a great year for gaming in 2019 and 2020 looks to be even better with Cyberpunk 2049, The Last of Us II, Final Fantasy VII, & Ghosts of Tsushima. Too many games, too little time, so much $$. Happy Gaming & Happy New Years!

2-11 List: You’re the Best Around Decade Edition

Last week I shared my 2019 list of games that I feel are worthy of your attention and play-time. I wanted to look back a bit further and review the best games of the decade.

I’m reflecting on games that have fundamentally changed the gaming industry, culture, & community.

Also, this list may include games that I myself have not played or are fond of, yet still recognize are important and worthy of noting.

  • Dark Souls (2011)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (2011)
  • The Last of Us (2013)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
  • The Witness (2016)
  • Pokemon Go (2016)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
  • Fornite (2017)
  • God of War (2018)
  • Death Stranding (2019)

I’m sure I’ve missed some and this list is far from comprehensive, I could easily expand it, but looking back at the decade in gaming, I think this list is pretty reflective of the state of gaming/play as we move into the next decade.

2-10 List: Best of the Best of the Best 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year where everyone shares their favorite games. Here is a list of games released in 2019 that I’ve enjoyed playing and think are worth your time.

Note: I am avoiding using a numbered system because these games are all worthy of attention and also, ranking is bullshit. My preference in this moment will change in a few days because my moods are fickle and things change. Good gaming ya’ll.

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Tetris 99
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Death Stranding
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • River City Girls
  • Slay the Spire
  • Void Bastards
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

2-4 Unlocking the D6: It Only Took Me 9 Months and 223 Attempts

So I apologize but this next post is going to be a deep in the weeds, very “you need to understand the meta of the game” kind of post. And if you’re not a fan of the roguelike game Binding of Isaac, well then what I’m about to say isn’t going to mean much. Though maybe you can at least appreciate the dedication and the sense of accomplishment for what I’ve just done in this game.

Binding of Isaac, Unlocking the D6 Item

I finally unlocked the D6 by defeating Isaac in the Cathedral using ???. This is not easy. I’ve been trying to do this for months and months and I’ve failed again and again and again. The reason being that unlike most other dungeon runs, you have a very limited number of hits that you can take and the ability to replenish your life is also at a premium.

The Binding of Isaac is my “forever game”. There’s something about htis game that has just taken root inside of my soul and it’s the game I keep on going back to. I may pick up other games but I always return to this one.

I should also note that this is a game that keeps on giving, there have been at least 3 major expansions DLCs, one of which will be released later this Winter. And I’ve only scratched the surface. I still have some characters to unlock and a number of secret endings that I’ve yet to see. It will be a sad day indeed when I’ve unlocked everything this game has to offer.

Thank you Edmund McMillen.