Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The Game

Since the mid 90’s, Nintendo hasn’t always had the strongest support of third-party publishers and developers as the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube both suffered from vastly limited catalogs of titles to choose from in comparison to competitors like Sony and Microsoft. Things seemed to turn around a bit with the success of the Wii, but only weakened once again with Nintendo releasing the Wii’s follow up – the Wii U. One of the few publishers to remain relatively faithful to Nintendo and continue to support their consoles is Ubisoft. The level of goodwill between the companies became apparent when a crossover title was announced featuring Nintendo mascot Mario and Ubisoft’s mischievous Rabbids, first introduced as part of the long-running Rayman franchise.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was officially announced at E3 2017 and was released later that summer on August 29. The game is a crossover of Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot with the Rabbids as Mario and company battle their way across Mushroom Kingdom in a turn-based strategy setting. I was cautiously intrigued, Mario has appeared in many different genres of games ranging from traditional platformers to sports games, even a few RPGs, but a turn-based strategy? The game sounded just weird enough to work, and it absolutely works! Many have since compared the combat to the sci-fi, and more serious XCOM games.

Story

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle’s story begins with the Rabbids crashing their Time Washing Machine(yes that’s right, a time machine built into a laundry appliance…not a hot tub) into the studio of an unnamed Mario fan and their robotic companion Beep-0(who looks simply like a Roomba). The Mario fan has been working the SupaMerge, a VR visor with the ability to merge two objects or creatures into one. As they run amok in the studio, a lone Rabbid uses the contraption to fuse two separate Rabbids with drawings of Mario and Princess Peach, creating Rabbid Mario and Rabbid Peach.

The Time Washing Machine soon malfunctions and sucks the Rabbids into a vortex and transporting them to the Mushroom Kingdom where we come across Mario and the gang. Further chaos ensues as the Rabbid with the visor fused to his head, now dubbed Spawny, runs away frantically as the visor causes further disruptions across the land. The Rabbid is soon discovered by Bowser Jr. who abducts Spawny, sending Mario and the Rabbid doppelgangers off to rescue him.

The game takes Mario and friends through Mushroom Kingdom, consisting of four worlds – Ancient Gardens, Sherbet Desert, Spooky Trails, and Lava Pit. Each world contains 9 battles, which vary from simply defeating the enemies within it, to others such as escorting Toad across the stage or boss battle. Between each battle you will traverse the world with some light puzzles in blocking your path, others off the beaten path will reward you with additional weapons or concept artwork. There are plenty of things to come back and discover as some obstacles are unable to be completed until you acquire the skill later in the game.

After emerging victorious in battle or simply defeating enemies you are rewarded with coins that can be used to purchase weapon upgrades with improved perks such as Honey, which renders an enemy unable to move from its current position, or Burn, causing additional burn damage along with causing an enemy to come out from behind cover as they frantically run around to extinguish the fire. You also acquire skill points to upgrade the stats and abilities of you and your teammates.

Each character essentially corresponds to a traditional “class” in other strategy or role-playing games; Mario is an all-around offensive character, scaredy-cat Luigi is the long-range expert best kept out of the fray, and Peach(and Rabbid Peach) are traditional healer-types with the ability to raise shields and generate additional HP lost in battle.

Visuals

The game’s visuals are vibrant and colorful, nicely complimenting any game containing either Mario or Rabbids. The character animations during AND outside cutscenes have a special humor and charm to them, familiar to anyone who has played any of Ubisoft’s prior Rabbids games(Raving Rabbids TV Party being one of my favorites). There’s an abundance of sight gags involving the Rabbids as you make your way through the Mushroom Kingdom like Rabbids playing with a rubber duck in a giant toilet or a Banzai Bill suspended in midair, trapped by a pair of giant underwear; at this point Beep-0 will add anything from witty remark to full-on “dad joke”.

Sound

One of the highlights of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the soundtrack and effects within the game. The soundtrack is conducted by former Rare composer Grant Kirkhope and compliments the feeling of the game perfectly. The quirky, yet spirited score will instantly sound familiar to anyone who grew up playing the catalog of great Rare games on Nintendo 64. The sound effects used in the game generally lean more towards those found in other Rabbids games than what we’ve come to expect from any game starring Mario. You can expect lots of “Bwaaah!”s as you make your way through battle areas.

Controls

I found the controls to work near flawlessly and just as intuitive to use, particularly for someone who usually points to strategy-type games as my biggest weakness. The blue grid that appears on screen during movement and understanding the advantages of switching between movement, attacks, and abilities within any given turn proved to be very easy to pick up and play. I also like the fact the movement and overall controls in Mario + Rabbids aren’t more difficult or less responsive depending on whether I’m playing my Switch in handheld mode or docked.

It’s Super Effective!

There’s lots to love about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: the gameplay works flawlessly and there’s an interesting variety of enemies to overcome in this colorful strategy mash-up. The Grant Kirkhope sountrack is wonderful and only makes the game seem in ways like a callback to some of Nintendo’s colorful, cartoony creations of previous generations. I have stated previously that I’d like to think I’m adept enough at nearly any genre of games, but would have to point out strategy games as being my weakest genre to play. Mario + Rabbids is a wonderful way to be introduced to the genre; playing through this along with later completing Fire Emblem: Three Houses has provided me more experience, and dare I say confidence, to seek out other strategy games(Into the Breach is another I’d like to try).

Interestingly enough, I found myself wanting to return to the Rabbid-ridden Mushroom Kingdom to retry battles or solve puzzles not long after finishing the main story. After completing, Mario + Rabbids provides plenty of battles to replay or puzzles to solve, there’s also a number of specific challenges to be completed, with many more released as later DLC.

I loved all the characters in the game, but selfie-taking diva Rabbid Peach is probably my favorite character in the game, along the explosive-enthusiast Rabbid Yoshi. The furry gargantuan Rabbid Kong was humorously entertaining and easily my favorite enemy…along with the malevolent duo of Bwario and Bwahluigi.

It’s Not Very Effective…

My biggest complaints about Kingdom Battle is that around two-thirds of the way through the main story the difficulty level seems to spike significantly, with it only taking a couple turns before a group of enemies can wipe out your entire group. Some of the enemies you face, especially in later worlds like Spooky Hills and the Lava Pit, have some devastating(and kinda cheap) attacks. I’m willing to chalk up some of this to not being the most experienced at strategy games, but even after coming back to the some of the stages after playing through Fire Emblem: Three Houses and some of the worlds pose enough of a challenge. You do have the option before beginning a battle to press the Y button and receive an additional 50% health boost to get your through to the end. I used this a few times and still barely made it to the end of the battle.

My other negative feeling about the game is it perhaps, could have been shortened by an area or two. The game only contains four main worlds, but each world comprises of up to 9 separate battles, along with other puzzles or obstacles in your way. The main story took me 30-35 hours to complete and while that’s still not a LONG game by today’s standards, it felt like a bit of a slog once you finally make it to the latter battles of Spooky Hills. I feel the game could have been condensed down just a bit, especially when combined with the difficulty spike mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a very solid crossover, that despite a few drawbacks provides a very enjoyable and unique experience. I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone, fans of Mario or strategy games alike. I feel my critiques of the game are the kind of issues that can be easily ironed out should Ubisoft decide to make a sequel to the game. Ubisoft has supported the game since its release with a Season Pass that includes additional challenges to complete as well an expansion – Donkey Kong Adventure. I began by noting what seems to be a good working relationship between Ubisoft and Nintendo as they showed enough trust to lend their iconic character to another studio to create an experience rather unique in Mario history. Also worth noting, is the fact Nintendo granted Ubisoft permission to add the Star Fox characters and missions into Starlink: Battle For Atlas. I still hold out hope for another return to form adventure for Star Fox, maybe Ubisoft is the studio to accomplish this?

Thanks for reading!

Gaming Omnivore Art Gallery

One of my goals for 2020 was to keep pushing forward and continuing to progress in not only my writing ability(hey, it could happen…) and also to experiment with new ideas and formats on my blog site. For today’s post I wanted to highlight some of the captivating visuals found in games I’ve played over this past console generation.

The quality and complexity of game visuals is light years from the simple pixelated images produced in the early days of gaming, like the Atari 2600 or even the NES a handful of years later. Video games have also grown more complex and capable of not only providing an interesting gameplay experience, they can tell stories on par with any Hollywood film and can instantly transport players anywhere from real-world locations, distant planets, or places we could only otherwise see in our own imaginations. Video games have in more recent years finally become accepted and recognized, Roger Ebert notwithstanding, as an artistic medium similar to music or movies, with many games featuring the same level of production as many films. Games are more than able to convey ideas and emotions to match other mediums and today I’m going to showcase some of wonderful visuals found within them.

One of the options featured in a vast number of games this past console generation is Photo Mode which allows you to briefly suspend play and not only take a snapshot of everything on screen, but also giving some rudimentary camera controls or filter options to further color the mood of your digital playground. This comes as a nod of recognition to the painstaking level of detail and effort put in to create such impressive world. It’s become almost an afterthought in most open-world games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Assassin’s Creed(nearly every Ubisoft game, actually) and is frequently the reason I feel I’m not progressing through many areas of the game as I find myself stopping every so often to jump into Photo Mode and save a quick picture. Here’s a guided tour of five pieces that I love, along with the feeling that comes to mind when viewing them. Please remember to stay behind the velvet rope…

Control

Mystique – The feeling of being inexplicably drawn to somewhere or something and the determination to discover the secrets behind it. We see Jesse as she cautiously ventures down an ever-changing corridor towards a carousel horse that serves as an Item of Power. I also love how the shot brings to mind the film Blade Runner as you can see the carousel horse in the background bears a striking similarity to a unicorn.

Gris

Hardship – Her voice taken away as a result of a traumatic experience, our heroine makes her way across a broken world, devoid of color. We also see the progress of her healing journey through the implementation of colors and as a metaphor for the challenges one may face in life. I love the use of beautiful watercolors in this piece.

Layers of Fear

Obsession – Here we observe an example of the sometimes too fine line between genius and insanity. Our artist has found themselves caught in-between the vision of the mind and the ability of the hands and the ensuing struggle to create. This can also be a manifestation of the artist’s internal struggles as well.

Death Stranding

Death – Sam nears the end of his destination, his journey has been on a personal as well as physical level as he courageously faces death itself trapped between the plane of the living and dead. The ominous BT whale in this sublime, otherworldly shot serves as the Grim Reaper; awaiting us all at the end of our lives.

Far Cry 5

Serenity – Seeing this shot leaves me with a peaceful, calming feeling as I can just about smell the mountain air or the warmth of the sunlight reflecting off the water below the falls. This can represent the tranquility for some in simplicity of life and being in touch with nature as we gaze upon its majestic beauty.

This concludes the tour for now! I kind of like the idea of showincasing different shots and a short description of the feelings accompanying it. This is more or less what I’ve used my Instagram account for as I primarily post screenshots of random games I’ve played. There’s many more screenshots I’ve taken in games that are better than anything I’ve ever photographed in real life. What are some games that feature worlds that you can completely lose yourself in? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Weekend Gaming Review – Delays & DLC

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about recent happenings and general news within the gaming world, but there’s been no shortage of things to follow(or try to ignore) on social media. I figured I would throw in my two cents from the luxury of my own WordPress soapbox rather than within the 280 character confines of Twitter.

Delayed Expectations

Remember how crowded the release schedule for this spring was looking, with what seemed to be highly-anticipated games getting released nearly every week? Well…the months of March and April aren’t quite as crowded as they once were.

It first started with both Animal Crossing New Horizons and Doom Eternal being delayed from a Fall 2019 releases to both games ironically announcing a March 20 2020 release date. I’m having a hard time explaining precisely why I love the thought of buying a new Animal Crossing game at the same time as a new Doom game…I dunno. The release date of mega-hyped The Last of Us Part 2 was given a release date of February 21 2020 during Sony’s State of Play presentation this past September, but only a few weeks later the game was delayed and slated for a May 29 release.

In the past couple weeks another barrage of delays were announced by Square Enix with the Final Fantasy 7 remake being delayed from March 3 to April 10 and also Marvel’s Avengers was pushed from its planned release of May 15 to September 4. The FF7 remake wasn’t much of a suprise to me, as the development of the game has been ongoing for years with speculation for a long time about whether not the project would see light of day. The Avengers game also isn’t suprising, considering how little anyone knows about the game other than the cast portraying Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and that the game has been hinted as being a living, open-world game. Coincidentally enough, the Iron Man VR game for PS4 has also been delayed from February until May 15.

And finally, another game delay that, while not as much SURPRISING as disappointing was the CD Projekt Red’s announcement that Cyberpunk 2077, their follow-up to The Witcher 3 has been delayed from its intended release of April 16 to September 17. Cyberpunk is one of the games I’m most anxious to play so I’m a little bummed to hear of a delay, but coming from CD Projekt Red, delays are never all that surprising.

I’m completely fine with the recent delays, most people have expressed a similar feeling and mentioned the words of Shigeru Miyamoto himself as he stated “A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever”. Another common reaction to the news was that of being disappointed to hear a game is delayed, if it means the dev team isn’t put under as many crunch hours. This is where I applaude publishers and developers for agreeing to delay a release and mention nice things like employee work-life balance, but what I fear is this becoming something said solely to maintain goodwill as we’ve become more aware of the strain of crunch hours on developers and testers. The delay of Cyberpunk 2077 was quickly followed CD Projekt Red confirming that it will still be requiring extra crunch-time hours from its dev team. Maybe I’m just being too cynical? Progress has been made in bringing awareness of crunch and its effects on those creating the games we love to instantly consume, but there’s still more to be improved upon. I’ve linked an article articulating this far better than I can.

https://kotaku.com/game-delays-cause-more-crunch-1841065204

Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC Announced

Over the past few years Nintendo has been on a wildly successful streak starting with the release of the Nintendo Switch in February 2017 and continued all the way through 2019. As we entered 2020, much specualation had begun as to when Nintendo would announce another Direct presentation to announce new games, features, or even a rumored Switch Pro. Within the past couple weeks Nintendo has indeed hosted two Direct broadcasts, the first being Pokemon-related and the second announcing the fifth and final DLC fighter for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass(more on that in a minute).

The first Nintendo Direct was held on January 9 and was specifically Pokemon-centered(…get it?). During the presentation a paid DLC bundle for Pokemon Sword & Shield was announced; each containing a brand new area to explore with new Legendary Pokemon as well as over 200 others returning from previous generations. The first pack – Isle of Armor will release in June, with the second – Crown Tundra to be released later this Fall. The announcement was met with a generally(?) positive reaction as those who already enjoy the game will be simply offered more of it, but also noticed others who still felt that Game Freak had betrayed their loyalty. Some felt add-on DLC with more Pokemon is simply a way to squeeze extra money out of gamers when CLEARLY Sword/Shield should have contained every one of the 800+ Pokemon. Those who were felt they were being railroaded into buying the same game AGAIN to “catch em’ all”. I find being upset about DLC coming to Sword/Shield a little humorous as if you REALLY want to scrutinize, you could come to the conclusion that we’ve been buying 3 versions of essentially the same game since 1998. I think adding DLC to Sword/Shield is perfectly fine and in a broader way shows Nintendo and Game Freak are slowly, but surely entering the modern era of gaming in regards to post-release content.

Smash Bros. 5th DLC Fighter Announced

Another Nintendo Direct presentation was announced for January 16 2020 to cover the fifth and final DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At any given time there’s a consistent swirl of rumors and speculation as to just who Mr. Sakurai will announce as the newest addition to what is already the greatest-selling fighting game in history. Being the final fighter in the Fighters Pass, there was an even bigger frenzy of guesses, wishes, or demands, so Smash fans were more than eager to see who would receive the latest invitation. Many fans wanted to see a character representing other games like Sora from Kingdom Hearts or Dante from Devil May Cry, there were even those rumors of Master Chief or the Demon Slayer from Doom. The possibilities seemed endless as the Smash community had been treated, to the point of being spoiled by some outrageously awesome additions like Joker(Persona 5), Hero(Dragon Quest), Banjo(Banjo-Kazooie), and Terry Bogard(Fatal Fury/King of Fighters). So when Sakurai announced Fire Emblem: Three Houses main protagonist Byleth as the next fighter, many fans felt disappointed and frustrated and quickly voiced their opinions via social media, as trending hashtags on Twitter indicated.

I completely understand being disappointed with the newest Smash character announcement, but when it turns into the inevitable bickering and fighting is when I’m unable to empathize. It’s only a couple months since we went through the EXACT SAME thing when Terry was announced and a large portion of the fanbase went “who’s Terry?”. Many fans look at Byleth’s inclusion to the Smash Bros gigantic roster as completely uneccessary, “There’s too many Fire Emblem characters!!” or less deserving than others ” ANOTHER anime sword-fighter??”. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was one of the best of Nintendo’s many great 2019 releases and I have no issue with Byleth being part of the already incredible roster of characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate. For those complaining about the over-representation of Fire Emblem characters(8) in SSBU; if there was a game that warranted an abuncance of FE characters it would be Smash Bros. How many of us may not have ever been inroduced to the Fire Emblem games if not for Roy and Marth’s inclusion to Smash Bros Melee back on the Gamecube. Also, how awesome does that Cuphead Mii Gunner outfit look?

Smash fans: No more sword-fighters
Also Smash fans: We want Dante!

In addition to Byleth joining the Smash roster, Sakurai announced a second Fighters Pass which contains 6 DLC fighters that will be introduced throughout the year and completing in January 2021. So for all the fun we’ve had with the first 5 fighters, we can look forward to 6 more….along with another year of the…healthy discourse within the Smash community.

I think that’s all for now, what do you think of Nintendo’s recent DLC Directs? Are you disappointed with the recent game delays? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Resident Evil 4 – 15 Years Later

The Game

Resident Evil 4 was the end result of a lengthy development process that began in 1999 and with the intention of being a direct sequel to Resident Evil 2, released the prior year for the Playstation. The development team at Capcom included Resident Evil 2 director Hideki Kamiya as well as series creator Shinji Mikami. Resident Evil 4 underwent many changes in concept and gameplay over the course of its development; one of the earliest versions of the game Hideki Kamiya had for the project would emphasize stylized action over the established horror elements of previous RE games. He envisioned a “cool” main character with superhuman intelligence and abilities in a game with a unique style and attitude. Shinji Mikami felt this strayed too far from the established nature of RE games and persuaded Capcom to set it aside as a new IP on the Playstation 2. While Mikami took over as director of the Resident Evil project for the upcoming Playstation 2, Kamiya took on the task of directing another project that began as a gaiden or “side story” to Resident Evil 2. The result of this was what we know today as Resident Evil 3(the highly-anticipated remake releases April 3, 2020). Kamiya also went on to see his original concept for Resident Evil “3” come to fruition on the Playstation 2 in 2001 with his cool protagonist – Dante, starring in the first of the successful(and very stylish) Devil May Cry series.

Meanwhile Shinji Mikami worked through mulitple versions of what would now be billed as Resident Evil 4. The development team felt a change was in order for the series and the project suffered numerous changes in setting and gameplay with Mikami admitting in an interview that they were occurring nearly every day. The team wanted to expand on the story of Leon S. Kennedy, the protagonist of Resident Evil 2 and went through mulitple settings in which he would make his way through fighting anything from traditional zombies to spirits and otherworldly monsters. Perhaps the biggest change to the upcoming RE title would be a change in camera perspective from the fixed camera angles of the first entries to an “over the shoulder” camera, this allowed players a greater range of movement than the traditional infamous “tank controls” and would make for greater action sequences within the game. The setting was also moved to an unnamed village in Spain where Leon has traveled in search of the President of the United States’ daughter Ashley and would encounter villagers infected not by the T-Virus but by a parasite known as Las Plagas.

In late 2002 Capcom announced five separate titles that would be released as exclusives for the Nintendo Gamecube. These games came to be known as the “Capcom Five” and included Killer7, P.N.03, Dead Phoenix, Viewtiful Joe, and Resident Evil 4. Shinji Mikami had previously stated his intention of creating exclusive titles for the Gamecube previously as the remake of the first Resident Evil game was released for the Nintendo’s diminuitive console and as the series prequel Resident Evil 0 released as an exclusive in November 2002. The 3rd person shoot ’em up Dead Phoenix would eventually be scrapped and all other games would be ported to other consoles, with the exception of P.N.03. Despite the fact two of the Gamecube (then)exclusives – Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4 garnered rave critical reviews, but still could not Nintendo strengthen its third-party support among publishers; a problem going back to Nintendo’s release of the Nintendo 64 and it’s reluctance to embrace disc-based software and choosing to stick with cartridge format for its games.

Resident Evil 4 was released after many changes and delays for the Gamecube on January 11 2005. It received rave reviews from gaming outlets, praising the updated camera angles and controls as well as its sleek combination of action and horror. RE4 was held up as “the reason to own a Gamecube”, but despite its critical success as a Nintendo exclusive, it was subsequently released on the far more successful Playstation 2 in October 2005 and went on to sell more copies as a PS2 title than Gamecube.

Memories

My first knowledge of the game came through various gaming magazines like EGM or Nintendo Power, I was instantly intrigued at the amount of buzz the upcoming Resident Evil game was getting. I had known of the series since its early days on the Playstation and had played a little bit of Resident Evil 2 at a neighbor’s place, but it wasn’t until the Gamecube remake of the first Resident Evil that I was completely engrossed in the acclaimed zombie series. I played the REmake and a few months later played Resident Evil 0 and loved the setting and atmosphere within the eerie confines of the Spencer Mansion and Umbrella Research Facility; I was very eager to see how Capcom could possibly follow these up.

I had just turned 19 and was working at a local Kmart store when Resident Evil 4 first released in January 2005. I was still living at home at the time, but with even a part-time job I had a bit of extra income to pick up the ocassional game here and there. RE4 was initially slated for a Q4 2004 release but was delayed until the following January, this worked out well enough for me as the final months of 2004 were jam-packed($$$) with great games like Metroid Prime 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas AND the world-stopping event that was Halo 2. I remember working back in the electronics department the day that RE4 was set to release, but my shift ended before any new product was brought up from the store room in back. I arrived at work the next day and saw it had been placed behind the sliding plexiglass doors with all the other games. I then anxiously made it through my shift before hurrying back to the game case to grab my copy of RE4 and hurry on home to pop the tiny Disc 1 of 2 into my platinum silver Gamecube. I spent the next few weeks glued to my tv, completely blown away by what I was playing. I had never played a game that was able to fuse together the adrenaline rush of an action-shooter with the Resident Evil brand of terror I’d come to know. The over the shoulder camera really did allow for a greater sense of your surroundings and mobility, and did you ever need it.

It was evident playing through Resident Evil 4 that the series had ventured more into action-game territory than traditional survival-horror, though the locations and boss battles made for some genuinely scary moments. The first time you attempt to cross the lake before realizing that you’re directly over the gigantic monster known as Del Lago(you’re gonna need a bigger boat) is as terrifying as it is memorable. There’s also the first sequence of the game where Leon finds himself being swarmed by villagers, so he quickly barracades himself inside a nearby house before hearing the upstairs windows crash as the ganados have started raising ladders all around the building. An already tense moment was made even more horrifying(and instantly memorable) the second you hear a chainsaw revving and have to fight off this Jason Voorhees wannabe wearing a burlap sack over his face alongside the horde of villagers with an instant death(and gruesome death animation) awaiting you if you let Chainsaw Man get too close; this has since become the most vivid memory of Resident Evil 4 for many players. One of my favorite things to do in the game is quickly shooting a stick of dynamite while still in an enemy’s hand, taking them out, along with anyone nearby…that never gets old.

Legacy

Since first playing Resident Evil 4 back in 2005, it has been one of my all-time favorites and a game that I’ve been countless times on…many different consoles; I can start it up anytime and still be completely lost in the game. RE4 went on to win many Game of the Year awards and is regarded among the greatest games of all time, becoming as recognized as the original Playstation game.

For as many fans like me that absolutely love the game, there are those who have grown to resent RE4 for representing such a shift in tone and gameplay as the Resident Evil series would soon grow further and further from the atmospheric survival horror in which the series began. The game proved almost TOO successful for Capcom as its sequels inevitably became more and more action-oriented to the point of being near unrecognizable to longtime fans, save for a few consistent names – Chris, Leon, Wesker, Umbrella. Capcom did successfully shift the series back to its horror roots with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in 2017. Another element of Resident Evil 4 that was fresh and innovative at the time, but quickly became a tired gimmick was the use of Quick Time Events which consisted of sudden button commands to coincide with specific cutscene sequences. A memorable moment in RE4 is the knife duel cutscene between Leon and Krauser which players would have to quickly press the A or B buttons at particular moments as to assist in Leon’s movement and keep just out of harm’s way. This was a gameplay element only otherwise seen in Sega’s Shenmue games, but due to the copycat nature of successful series, quickly became just another tired gimmick.

Resident Evil 4’s influence cannot be overstated however, when it comes to modern gaming. Take a look at any third-person action game released since 2005 and it will undoubtedly utilize the very same over the shoulder camera angle that made RE4 so fresh at the time. 2018’s immaculate God of War utilized a similar camera setup and added a dash of exploration to the mix, the result was a breath of fresh air to the popular franchise that mirrors RE4 in many ways. Director Cory Barlog has stated as much that the game served as a huge inspiration and the 2018 Game of the Year winner wouldn’t exist without it.

Resident Evil 4 was released as a “system-seller” exclusive for the Gamecube, but has since been ported onto nearly every console since then with perhaps only Skyrim rivaling it for the most ported game of the past few console generations. I, myself am guilty of purchasing this game numerous times and play it at least once every year. The game after 15 years has started to show its age in places, but the game at its core still showcases greatness. If only I had bought one of those chainsaw controllers….

Twenty-Four Seven

A new challenger approaches! I’ve been tagged by the fine folks over at Normal Happenings for the Daily Inklings #7 topic – Twenty-Four Seven in which the daily topic is twenty-four talking points you would have in conversation with yourself from seven years ago or teaching yourself something you have learned since then. Of course, a #realgamer like myself is never one to turn down a challenge so let’s do this! I have decided to deviate slightly from listing the main talking points of the hypothetical conversation and my final offering is a rundown of what an interaction of my past and present selves would probably be like….I’m sorry in advance.

2020 Me: <burst through doorway> Dude, we gotta talk….

2013 Me: Who the hell are you? I’m trying to play PS3 here!

2020: Who does it look like? I’m YOU from the year 2020. I’ve come back in time to give you some pearls of advice for a blog post I’m working on.

2013: Wait, what?!? <laughs> a blog site? But you…erm…I…we suck at writing.

2020: Spoiler – you STILL suck at writing, I’m just here to impart some knowledge I’ve gathered along the w-

2013: Yeah, yeah….hang on….I’m trying to save my game quick. Stupid internet…is service any better in seven years?

2020: Meh, it’s about the same…anyways about my advice. You’ve made it this far and have learned a few things that I wish I would have practiced a little earlier in life, the fir-

2013: <interrupting> why didn’t you go back further than seven years then?

2020: …the first advice: Try to keep track of your spending and manage money a little better, you and I…WE both know balancing a bank account isn’t exacly our strength.

2013: <nods> never heard THAT one before but, sure

2020: Just a few minor steps can go a long way in keeping on top of bills and with some better money management you’ll see there’s even MORE money left for buying games $$$

2013: <nods> I can pre-order GTA 5, it looks like it’s going to be awesome…

2020: It’s gonna be huge!

2013: k…

2020: Number 2 – Drink More Water.

2013: <rolls eyes>

2020: Number 3 – Try to eat better. You will find out just how easy it is to lose a significant amount of weight just by cutting out all those bottles of Coke and by not eating out at fast food places all the ti-

2013: I DON’T EAT FAST FOOD ALL THE TIME!

2020: The Wendy’s drive-thru guy knows your name!

2013: …….

2020: Yeah. Number 4 – Make the effort to stay more active during the day. Combine this with eating better is gonna go a LONG way in improving how good you feel during the day

2013: But I…YOU’RE still fat…how did you you travel back in time anyway? Did you show up in a DeLorean?<laughs>

2020: No, it’s actually a CyberTruck

2013: <looking out window> it’s weird looking…

2020: It’s a Tesla, Elon Musk’s company

2013: Who’s that??

2020: That’s right….you haven’t seen him in that Simpsons yet. He launched a car into space and now mostly posts memes on Twitter.

2013: So….he’s like Grumpy Cat?

2020: Sure…..

2013: Can I go back to Borderlands now?

2020: One more thing…don’t do what comes naturally to you and get complacent with things. You’re 27 and have a comfortable online customer service job, but don’t think nothing can happen and screw it up!

2013: pffft….I won’t! They just bought Twitch, how does that work out?

2020: Freaking huge! It’s one of the biggest platforms on the internet; there was over a million people watching the last Game Awards and the Fortnite World Cup.

2013: What’s Fortnite?

2020: …..gotta run!

Resolutions and Goals for 2020

With 2019 firmly in the rearview mirror and 2020 in front of us, we are presented with a renewed opportunity to contemplate and evaluate our ambitions for the year ahead. For today’s post I’ve created a list of things that I would like to focus on or improve as it pertains to blogging and also a few other things I would like to accomplish this year.

Blog

Keep going! – I’ve been writing on my blog site for just under a year now and I’ve become much more comfortable with posting my assortment of video game ramblings and feel like I’ve improved since taking the first steps(maybe a little bit?). I aim to keep pressing forward throughout the year, sharing my boundless enthusiasm of video games while hopefully leveling up any writing skills I possess along the way.

Stay focused! – As much a personal goal as writing, I want to continue to improve in various ways in 2020. One of the most prominent things would be to stay on track and focused on whatever I have in front of me at the time. In regards to blog posts, I want to work on sticking to a main point or purpose to a given blog post rather than excitedly(incoherently) going on and on without really saying anything.

Games

Final Fantasy VII – Another goal in 2020 is to FINALLY complete some games that I’ve either been slowly working on for a while or games that I’ve started a few times but have always failed to get very far into them, Final Fantasy VII is one of those games. The first game of 2020 I began playing was FFVII and I have a greater sense of determination to finally see this one through.

The Witcher 3 – I finally started playing The Witcher 3 for the first time just this past year, with many hours of adventures still ahead. Giant, sprawling RPGs like The Witcher 3 tend to come off as daunting tasks, so I’d always set that aside for when I was ready to devote the countless hours to one single game. I’m going to give the game a serious effort in 2020.

Try not to spend as impulsively Chrono Trigger – My next goal was to try and curb some of my impulsive game-buying habits in part to concentrate on my already enormous backlog of games, and also due to the fact there is going to be a landslide of big releases starting in March with the Final Fantasy VII remake so saving my precious pennies is a smart idea…..that didn’t get very far. I just happened to check out my local used game store and they quickly informed me they are currently having a Buy 2 Used Games Get 1 Free sale. In short, I…uh…..added a few hundred more hours of JRPGs on top of my backlog, but I DID finally get ahold of Chrono Trigger(again), the one game above all others I regretfully had never played. Three days into the new year and I failed one quest but took on another, so, there’s my silver lining…

Other

Build a PC – I grew up primarily a console gamer, as I generally didn’t have either 1) a powerful enough pc or 2) adequate internet to play many online games, so the idea of building my own pc has always been an intriguing idea. I’ve always found a greater understanding and appreciation of things through being able to build/assemble it myself, so I have been doing lots of reading and research as to the best way to go about assembling what I’ve read many refer to as “putting together an expensive Lego set”. The nearly endless game options are definitely appealing and I’m hoping to get the project completed sometime this year.

Try streaming gameplay– This kind of coincides with building a pc and itsn’t something I intend to simply jump headfirst into, but I think it would be fun to try something along the lines of streaming on Twitch/YouTube or just recording some gameplay-related videos that I can upload to my site. This is maybe a more long-term goal than just finishing off some of my backlog games. In the same way I nudged myself out of my comfort zone and started my own blog site I think it would be fun to dabble in and serve as another outlet for my love of video games.

Those are my primary objectives for this year! There’s many more things I would love to take on, but decided to keep a shorter list of manageable things rather than create an enormous list that winds up being more discouraging than helpful. Now that we are through the holiday season and beginning a brand new year I plan on getting back to posting about specific games after the last several weeks of creating lists. What’s something you want to accomplish this year? Or how about some of the games you plan on crossing off your list? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

2019 Gaming In Review

With the year winding down and my games of the year list completed, I wanted to finish in stride with a review(kinda) in my gaming experiences of 2019. The past year was quite productive in the number of games attempted and completed as well as endeavors such as taking the first steps in starting my own gaming blog. I recently began keeping a list of some of the gaming-related memories that stood out the most over 2019, beginning with the completion of Red Dead Redemption 2 in January just before the anticipated release of the Resident Evil 2 remake. Other memorable moments would be my quest to complete everything in Breath of the Wild or the stress-inducing first encounter with BTs in Death Stranding. I’ve also included all the games I played for the first time in 2019, complete with info from my year-end Nintendo newsletter. A more competent blogger may provide a comprehensive breakdown of statistics at the end of the year, I’m gonna show all the games I played this year…enjoy!

2019 Gaming Memories

  • Being emotionally wrecked by the end of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Leon’s terrifying first run-in with Mr. X in the Resident Evil 2 remake
  • Battle Royale victories in both Apex Legends and Tetris 99
My highest achievement in gaming…
  • Starting a gaming blog on WordPress
  • Nintendo’s 2019 dominance – Smash characters, 2 Zelda announcements, new Switch model
  • Playing through Cuphead on Nintendo Switch
  • Collecting every Korok seed and completing every shrine in Breath of the Wild
I did EVERYTHING in Hyrule and all I got was this lousy tunic…
  • Participating in A Geeky Gal’s 30 Day Geek Out Challenge
  • The early morning run to my local Target to pick up the Link’s Awakening remake & Amiibo
  • Counting down to the Halloween release of Luigi’s Mansion 3 with spooky-themed Blogtober posts
  • My first encounter with BTs in Death Stranding
  • Hiding from the Great Serpent in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Nope.

Games I played in 2019


Nintendo Switch

Ape Out
Back in 1995
Blazing Chrome
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Captain Commando
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Castlevania Adventure
Celeste
Coffee Crisis
Cuphead
Dauntless
Final Fantasy IX
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Gato Roboto
Gris
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
King of Dragons
Kirby's Dream Land 3
Layers of Fear
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening(2019)
Luigi's Mansion 3
My Friend Pedro
Pokemon Sword
Rolling Thunder
Slain: Back from Hell
Splatterhouse
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Party
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!
Tetris 99
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
Playstation 4
Apex Legends
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
Assassin's Creed: Origins
Blasphemous
Borderlands 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare(2019)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Control
Death Stranding
Destiny 2
Devil May Cry V
The Division 2
Far Cry: New Dawn
Far Cry: Primal
Guacamelee 2
Hotline: Miami
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix
Mass Effect: Andromeda
MLB The Show 19
Mortal Kombat XL
The Outer Worlds
Persona 5
Rainbow Six: Siege
Resident Evil 2(2019)
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sonic Mania
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Wolfentstein: The New Order
Nintendo 3DS

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance
Vampire: Master of Darkness

Game Boy Color

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

Sega Genesis

World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

PC

System Shock 2

I don’t really have anything else to add for my year-end review, I’m looking forward to 2020 and an utterly STACKED lineup of game releases this spring before the release of a couple new consoles later in the year. I intend to write up a post of things(resolutions) that I aim to accomplish this year(The Witcher 3) which should be coming up within the next weekend or two. Lastly, I want to give a big thank you for reading these posts and taking even a passing interest in my weekly ramblings. Well…I’m off for some snacks, Simpsons episodes and a few video games. Happy New Year!