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!

Weekend Gaming Review – April 2021

Greetings! It’s been….<checks calendar> just over a month since my last blog post and I wanted to sit down and write up a simple update post on what I’ve been up to lately, along with what I’ve been playing, which is something I haven’t actually done since last fall sometime I believe…

Mini-hiatus

I hadn’t originally intended to put any WordPress stuff on hold, and certainly not for an entire month. It happened around the middle of last month that I had spent most of my time writing blog posts as more of a response to different prompts/tags and not necessarily out of feeling inspired to write down something. Over the course of the past few months, particularly the second half of March and into April, I had started to feel my own mental health beginning to wear down a bit. As my own attempt to combat this, I made the decision that I don’t need to sit down and force myself to write out anything just for the sake of having something to post every weekend(or so) and wanted to pull back just a little bit from some of the WordPress stuff I was beginning to stress myself over. I decided I wanted, well, needed to take some time and just focus on taking care of myself and spend more of my time “offline”. Over this time I also took a few days off from streaming on some of the Tuesday/Thursday mornings, something I had been doing pretty consistently since this past August, as well as spending minimal time on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. The weather had started to warm up outside, so it made for perfect weather to go outside for short walks around the neighborhood; I even managed to make it out to the driving range at our local golf course, something I hadn’t done in several years. It was also nice to go back and spend time sitting listening to a lot of different albums I haven’t played in a considerable time, or simply relaxing with a cup of coffee/tea and rewatching some old favorite tv shows and movies. Moving forward I still have every intention to pick up where I left off and resume blogging and streaming. In my little blogging break I was able to come away feeling slightly recharged and have begun taking notes and working on some post ideas all while staying mindful about not stressing myself over so many things…

Games Played

Despite the fact I’ve been attempting to set aside a bit more “offline” time the past several weeks I’ve still logged plenty of time playing video games. I mean….a single player game or something on a console released prior to 2006 is technically offline, right? Hell, I even managed to finish up a couple games; something I’ve set out to do a little more of this year.

Ghost of Tsushima – I dove back into Ghost of Tsushima after setting it aside this past summer as I started my trophy hunt in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and then starting up AC: Valhalla after it was released. While I enjoyed Ghost, I felt like I *should* like it more and it hadn’t really hooked me just yet. After I finished up the main game(and remaining trophies) in Valhalla, I wanted to give Ghost of Tsushima another shot. I can say now that I think I’ve finally turned a corner with the game and it finally “clicked” for me. I have a little better familiarity/understanding of the mechanics and controls, though I still think some of the button bindings are a bit strange compared to other games(R2 is your main interact button?). I still have a ways to go, but I’m enjoying the game a lot more now in the meantime…

Super Mario 3D World – I never picked up a Wii U, like so many others(obligatory joke), so I was eager to pick up a copy of Super Mario 3D World when it was released on the Switch this past February. I had known others that had played it to rave about the game and declare it one of the strongest 3D Mario entries. After playing through it, I can say I also feel it’s one of Mario’s better 3D outings. 3D World is a little more of a traditional platformer in the emphasis of the game is simply to clear the obstacles that lie ahead of you, finish the stage and move on to the next before attempting the next world; a little different than something like Super Mario Odyssey, in which you run around collecting power moons in any one of the worlds(Bowser’s Fury is similar to this). There’s three stars to collect in each level(well, most of them) along with a stamp of a different character or item. I think I finished the game with right around 240 stars, leaving an additional 140 to come back and clean up. I’d probably still have to lean towards Odyssey as my favorite Mario game on the Switch, but I’d be willing look at it as a 1A/1B scenario with 3D World.

Contra: Hard Corps – I’ve been playing Contra games for many years now, but I’d never been able to beat Contra: Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis. The overall series has been (in)famous for its difficulty as long as I’ve known of it, but for whatever reason Hard Corps always felt like it was just, ever so much easi….less difficult? I managed to make it all the way to the last boss, well, one of the game’s three final encounters as a kid but had never made it back. I was determined this time to sit down and make a few attempts every day until I was able to beat the game, so I guess the stubborness in my older age is finally paying off…

INSIDE – I had been meaning to play INSIDE for quite some time, but had always figured I’d play through Limbo – PlayDead’s previous game first. I finally decided to just jump in and play INSIDE on stream last week and I really, really liked the game, despite running out of time to finish up on stream and had to finish the game later – turns out I was only about another ten minutes from completing it…go figure. I do have an upcoming post of my thoughts on the game planned out, so, I’ll save anything else for a later time.

Resident Evil 8: Village(Demo) – The “Village” demo for Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil 8: Village was released just a couple nights ago. The previous demo, “Maiden” was a PlayStation 5 exclusive, so I wasn’t able to check that out(yet?) and I hadn’t watched really any of the game coverage from the two Capcom showcases, outside of the released trailer from the PS5 presentation last summer. Part of this is likely due to the fact that, while I enjoyed RE7 overall, I can’t honestly say I LOVED the game. I have come to accept the fact I generally prefer to play horror games in third-person rather than first-person; I usually end up frustrated/annoyed as much as I’m ever frightened while playing from a first-person perspective. I decided the worst that would happen with the RE8 demo is I don’t particularly care for it and decide to hold off on trying out the full game, so I downloaded it and tried out the demo on my PS4 the other night. After playing the demo, I am genuinely intrigued/excited to check out the full game. The idea of combating werewolves & vampires sounds interesting, and the European village/castle setting gives serious RE4 vibes, which I have mentioned(many times) how much I love that game. So….alright, Capcom. I’m in…

Coming Up…

After my little break from WordPress, I do actually have a few posts lined up that I’m currently working on. So….uh, stay tuned!

  • INSIDE – My thoughts on
  • Conformity in game controls
  • Gaming Omnivore Art Gallery – Ghost of Tsushima
  • The Legend of Zelda music post

Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things….thanks for reading!