Weekend Gaming Review – August 2021

Greetings! We’ve reached August already! It doesn’t seem like I should be looking at the calendar and noticing the autumn season in just a month or so away, but here we are. It’s also been a little while since I sat down and wrote a short update about what I’ve been up to lately(spoiler: video games). Let’s start with the most recent and exciting stuff first…

Quest Complete: PlayStation 5 Acquired

I did it. It’s been 9 months since Sony and Microsoft released their next-gen consoles in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Anyone who’s paid the smallest bit of attention to general gaming news knows how difficult it has been to grab either one. I was fortunate enough to notice an email from GameStop announcing they were set to receive another stock of PlayStation 5s this past week; I was even more fortunate making it through the checkout process and receiving a message saying the order of a PS5 bundle was confirmed…to my astonishment. Adding to my surprise, the package arrived at my door a mere 3 days later.

I spent the majority of my Friday evening getting the PS5 set up next to the living room tv before logging in with PSN accounts and beginning the not-entirely-straightforward process of transferring games and save data – something that didn’t affect previous PlayStation generations as they weren’t backwards compatible(well, the PS3…kind of was).

The first game I tried out on the new gaming hardware was Astro’s Playroom – a pre-installed game that essentially serves as a tech demo for the PS5 and the new DualSense controller. I found myself loving Astro’s Playroom and quickly played through the game, grabbing all the trophies along the way. I’m not going to say much more about the game right now, as I plan to write up a post about some of my thoughts on the game in the next week or so. I did also get the chance to play the first 90 minutes or so of Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart and have been pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. The PS5 and DualSense controller have already shown some of the interesting things their capable of; here’s hoping to see even more as we progress further.

Other gaming things I’ve been keeping busy with…

Monster Hunter: Rise

Over the past month, I’d be pretty confident in saying that the majority of my gaming time has been spent playing Monster Hunter: Rise. I’ve typically had some issues breaking through the at-times overwhelming combination of game mechanics, tutorials, and inventory, but I finally feel like I have a better grasp on the series after playing the most recent release on the Switch. A fair amount of my time was also spent trophy hunting in Final Fantasy XV as I’m slowly, but surely(?) progressing towards another platinum trophy. When not busy with Monster Hunter or Final Fantasy in my spare time, I’ve also been playing the usual, completely random assortment of games on Twitch a few times a week – wrapping up Bugsnax last Friday and beginning Paper Mario just this morning.

Upcoming Plans

With the summer steadily coming to a close, I’ve begun writing down some ideas for future blog/stream projects later this fall. Each October for the past two years, I’ve come up with a list of specific games I intend to play and write about throughout the month. I ended up using the term “Blogtober” to cover all the different spooky/scary games I would write about(and stream) leading up to Halloween – playing scary games in October…no one’s thought of that. Brilliant idea, right? I’ve started a couple of the games I have planned, as this *should* make it a little easier to have posts lined up ahead of time and not working on something the night before I plan to post it, finally hitting the publish button when I feel it’s as good as it’s gonna get.

This November will also mark the 20th anniversary since the release of the Nintendo GameCube, as well as Microsoft’s entry into the home console market with the original Xbox in 2001. Both consoles hold a special place for me and were responsible for many fond memories growing up, so I have a few ideas in place for something to commemorate their respective releases. Stay tuned to see how those half-baked ideas turn out…

That’s all for now. I’ve been itching to get back to some more Ratchet & Clank on that new PS5, so….the rest of my night is planned out.

Thanks for reading!

Weekend Pickups – May 2021

Welcome back for another round of “I don’t really have anything specific in mind, so here’s what games I’ve bought lately”. It was Memorial Day weekend, which is usually considered the kick-off to summer as the weather has finally begun to stay a consistently mild temperature. It’s only a matter of days before we enter a few months of complaining about the heat as a change of pace from complaining about the cold(Talking about the weather…the signs of reaching middle-age have begun). Anyways…I was able to check out the game store in town and picked up a pile handful of games. I found a few PS3 games that I’d wanted to check out for a while, along with a few GBA and a single PS2 game. PlayStation 3 games have remained pretty inexpensive the past couple years, save for the few weeks this spring of people panic buying games after hearing about the now-reversed decision by Sony to shut down the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita digital storefronts. I have also wanted to build up my library of Game Boy Advance games, something I never did years ago when it was the current Nintendo handheld system. I happened to come across a few Castlevania games, which depending on the game, don’t typically sell for egregious amounts of money, but still aren’t something you find everyday.

The Games

Final Fantasy XIII

It wasn’t until my late teens/early 20’s that I really began to appreciate, or “get” RPGs as a genre, particularly(Pokemon Red & Gold being an exception). I’ve begun making the joke that I end up bringing home another JRPG every time I visit the local game store…and this weekend was no different. I’ve played quite a few different Final Fantasy games by this point, but have never played FFXIII(or either of the sequels). I remember when the game was released and thought it looked cool, but (foolishly)thought I was going to play through the previous entries before I’d begin playing it. I always heard a lot of mixed things about the game, but intend to play the game myself and create my own opinions from there…once I finish up what must be a dozen or so other JRPGs first…

The Darkness

I remember reading about a game called “The Darkness” shortly after getting my PlayStation 3 back in December 2007(as the original “Spider-Man” lettering indicates). The premise sounded interesting – a dark, supernatural FPS in which you have an army of monsters, “Darklings” available to summon and attack enemies, alongside an array of conventional weapons. The first game I played on my PS3 was a military shooter called Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Ratchet & Clank: Future Tools of Destruction shortly after that, so it got sort of lost in the middle of “bigger” games. I had always heard interesting things about The Darkness(and its sequel), so it’s simply another example of a game I didn’t get around to playing until years later.

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West is a game that I don’t really remember hearing anything about back when it was released in 2010, but in recent years I’ve heard quite a few people mention the game and how underrated it is compared to other games of the era. A hack ‘n slash action-adventure game made by Ninja Theory/Namco starring Andy Serkis and written by Alex Garland. Pretty intrigued by this one…

Singularity

Singularity is another game that I remember hearing about back during the PS3 days but didn’t know all that much about. Similar to Enslaved: Odyssey To The West, I’ve heard more people mention the game in the last few years than I ever did following its release. I really enjoyed some of the older games developed by Raven Software like Star Wars Jedi Knight II, X-Men Legends, or Soldier of Fortune II. It’s a little disappointing that Raven has been relegated to little more than assisting Treyarch and Infinity Ward in making yearly Call of Duty releases since Call of Duty: Black Ops in 2010, which was released a matter of months after Singularity.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence

I remember first playing Castlevania: Lament of Innocence on a demo disk inside an issue of PlayStation Magazine and really liking it, so I ended up buying the game a couple months later. I ended up selling the game a few years back when I (regrettably)decided to downsize my game collection, but I’ve been keeping an eye out for a decent copy of the game the last year or so. I’ll admit the game didn’t do anything revolutionary with the series and may not reach the same heights of something like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but I still have something of a soft spot for the game. I had always known of the Castlevania games and had played Super Castlevania, as well as the NES original, but it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I started getting really into the series, which happened to be right as Lament of Innocence was to be released…

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge

For as much as I and many others love the Banjo-Kazooie games, it’s usually(and understandably) the console releases that are mentioned. There were two BK games released for the Game Boy Advance – Banjo Pilot and Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge; the former being a cart racer similar to Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing(Banjo’s first appearance, btw) while the latter is an adventure-platformer more along the lines of what one associates with the series. Throughout video game history, handheld releases very RAREly(well done, right?) receive the recognition of home consoles, it’s easy to be unaware BK games were even made for the GBA. You don’t come across either game very often, but I’m still looking for a copy of Banjo Pilot to go along with Grunty’s Revenge…

Speaking of sequels that went unnoticed because they were released on a handheld…

Gunstar Super Heroes

Gunstar Heroes is one of my absolute favorite Sega Genesis games and would likely be near the top of my all-time favorites as well. A sequel – Gunstar Super Heroes was released on the GBA in 2005, 12 years after the original. It was only within the last decade or so that I myself had even heard of the game and I don’t seem to be alone in that regard as I’ve come across many others who were surprised to hear there was a sequel released. Looking forward to this one…

Advance Wars

Advance Wars is a series that I’d always wanted to play, as I have heard next to nothing negative about the game from anyone or anywhere since its release back in 2001, but was a little intimidated by for the longest time as RTS-type games have always been my weakest genre of games. I came across a copy of Advance Wars for a decent price and decided to finally give it a shot. The GBA releases are revered by fans and seemingly destined to be ignored by Nintendo as Intelligent Systems has finally started to gain more recognition now the Fire Emblem games have begun to increase in popularity on this side of the Pacific.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

While I have played a few of the Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS, I have never really played any of the three GBA releases – Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow. Circle of the Moon was released as one of the launch titles for the Game Boy Advance on June 11, 2001. None of the Castlevania games on the GBA seem to be very easy to find in the past few years and the latter pair(the ones that didn’t essentially get erased from the overall Castlevania timeline by Koji Igarashi) have begun to skyrocket in price, so as soon as I saw Circle of the Moon the other day I knew I had grab it. It’s just 11 days short of the 20-year anniversary of the Game Boy Advance’s release in North America, so it’s a perfect time to kick back and play some Castlevania….maybe I’ll even get around to watching Season 3 of the Netflix series as well.

That’s all for now! I’m pretty satisfied with the games I was able to find over the holiday weekend. What games have you picked up recently? Let me know. Thanks for reading!