Weekend Gaming Review – Black Friday Haul

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend has come and gone already! It was a nice long holiday weekend to relax at home with plenty of food and games. It’s also been a little while since my last post talking about what games I’ve been playing so I thought it would be a nice way to pick back up after the long weekend, along with going over my recent additions from Black Friday to already massive backlog of games.

I recently finished up my playthrough of Death Stranding and wrote up a few thoughts on the game, which I can say is probably the most unique experience I’ve had from a video game in 2019. I’ve been playing Pokemon Sword and working on finishing Luigi’s Mansion 3(another personal GOTY candidate). There’s also Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which I have been playing a fair amount of multiplayer, but haven’t started on the single player campaign just yet. I’ve been trying to sample as many different games released this year as I can, with the intent of doing a more in-depth look at my picks of 2019 a bit later.

In what has become a bit of a tradition since my childhood years, I went out after Thanksgiving dinner to pick up some cheap games marked down for all the Black Friday sales. I did have to feel a bit smarter this year as I put in a store pickup order at Best Buy in order to avoid the standing in the checkout line for what seems like hours. I also picked up a couple games at both Target and GameStop. The majority of games I played this year were purchased digitally, primarily due to space, but I was able to accumulate a smile pile of games over the weekend. Looking back, most of the games I bought over the earlier part of the year were Switch games as Nintendo had an amazing run of successful games in 2019(Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3 AND Pokemon Sword/Shield) so I used the Black Friday sales to catch up a bit on some PS4 titles that I didn’t have yet.

The games

  • Control
  • Borderlands 3
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Devil May Cry V
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Days Gone
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider(not a 2019 game, but still picked up)
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
  • Dual Shock 4 Controller – Electric Purple( Very Nice!)
  • Undertale – Steam

Best Deal – Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

I picked up a copy of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair for the Switch at my local GameStop for a mere $10, which is 75% off of a game that I had been eyeing in the Nintendo eShop since it came out. I had heard some pretty good things about the game and was really curious after seeing the game is set primarily as a 2D side-scrolling platformer in the same vein as Donkey Kong Country, which makes sense, as some of the former developers at Rare are currently with Playtonic. I have only played the game for a half hour or so, but the game looks wonderful and the controls are nice and tight, just as you want in a platformer like this.

Most Excited To Play – The Outer Worlds

I have been excited to play The Outer Worlds for a while now, so I took advantage of it being on sale for $35 at Target. I’ve heard non-stop positive things about Obsidian’s newest release in how perfectly it scratches that Fallout “itch” after many were….rather disappointed with last year’s release of Fallout 76. I have spent about five or so hours playing the game and I love it so far, it plays like an amalgam of Fallout and Destiny. For me, playing The Outer Worlds feels similar to when I played through Dragon Age, not so much in gameplay but rather in the satisfaction of getting lost in an in engrossing story set in a far away world(s); I can already tell this game is something special.

Most Disappointing

Nearly all of the games I bought were for the Playstation 4, but that’s not to say there still aren’t games for the Switch I would like to pick up. I was mildly disappointed, but not entirely surprised that Switch titles like Astral Chain, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, or Daemon X Machina were not discounted over the weekend. The Switch games that were doorbuster or weekend sales were the mega-hits such as Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey. I still have yet to play aforementioned games and intend to do so eventually, I was really hoping Dragon Age XI S for the Switch would have been on sale, but alas, that was not to be.

Also…

The overwhelming majority of my Thanksgiving weekend was spent playing my PS4 as I would play one game for an hour or two, before popping another disc in. I did however take a peek at the Black Friday sale on Steam and just so happened to pick up Undertale, a game that I mentioned just a week or two ago in a post about games I was embarrassed to admit I’d never played. I got the game AND soundtrack for a paltry $7, so I’m pretty excited to finally make my way through and cross off another game from my list.

As for the rest of the year, I have been recently tagged in the Real Neat Blog Award as well as the Sunshine Blogger Award so I will be getting those out shortly. I also have a few ideas discussing the past decade in gaming which I’m excited to keep working on. That’s all for my show and tell for today, did you pick anything up over the weekend? What are you looking forward to playing? Thanks for reading!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – First Impressions

The long wait is over and Luigi’s Mansion 3 has finally arrived! Fans of the oft-forgotten Mario brother(aren’t we all?) will join in celebrating the release of Nintendo’s premier ghost-busting title. I’ve been playing the game since it released a couple days ago and was excited to share some of my initial impressions of the game.

Our hero Luigi and ghostly best boy Polterpup

Luigi’s Mansion 3 begins with the entire gang of Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad(s) traveling by bus to the Last Resort – a towering hotel complex nestled amid an idyllic green mountain valley, evoking images of the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining(which was inspired by the Stanley Hotel in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado). After arriving and being overwhelmed by the magnificent hotel and amenities(except our skeptical protagonist Luigi) and retires to their rooms for the evening. Before attempt to settle in for a luxurious night’s sleep we see Luigi’s room appearing to have almost a gold encrusted sheen from light beaming in from outside(the opening title reflects also reflects this ruse). Shortly thereafter, a loud crash awakens Luigi as he springs from his bed and not so bravely decides to investigate. Luigi finds the entirety of the hotel shrouded in darkness and fog, beginning his trek across the Last Resort to uncover the whereabouts of his friends, facing all matter of ghostly foes along the way.

m-m-Mario?

I’m just under five hours into the game, but already I can tell this is going to be an enjoyable experience. I’ve sorted my early thought of the game into three categories that have impressed my the most so far….

Visuals – The very first thing that stood out to me about Luigi’s Mansion 3 was the absolutely beautiful visuals! Everything has a silky smooth polish to it, while still being able to detect various textures within the game, such as a wooden wardrobe or the fabric of Luigi’s hat. I was very impressed with the game animations right from the very beginning as the transitions from cutscene to gameplay are nearly seamless. The visuals quality looks strikingly similar to that of Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me and Minions movies…the very same studio who IS currently working on a Mario movie. The lighting effects within the game may just be the best I’ve seen in a game this year. The light emitted from Luigi’s flashlight or the glowing of a solitary desk lamp provide the lone source of illumination in a seemingly empty room, suddenly accompanied by the colorful glow of ghostly foes.

Controls – The controls for the game feel excellent and offer an evolution from the first Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube in 2001 and an improvement from Dark Moon on the 3DS. Having the second joystick to assist in your directional movement and aim was sorely missed in the 3DS sequel, which only added to what I felt was a slightly disappointing second outing. Another thing that impressed me while playing is the wonderful physics at play within the game as you notice the subtle swaying of curtains in a breeze or a dress hanging in the closest reacting to nearby movement. There’s also chairs being casually knocked on their side or the stretching of cobwebs as you devour them with your Poltergust G-00. There’s something weirdly satisfying in this game about being able to suck up bedsheets and couch cushions or a dozen or so golf balls randomly strewn across a vacant room…unless it’s just me?

Gameplay – Luigi’s Mansion 3 features the same central mechanics as the previous games as our scaredy-cat hero ventures throughout the haunted hotel in search of the elevator buttons to allow access to the corresponding floor. This time around Luigi and Professor E. Gadd have a few new additions to the repertoire; the slam attack lets Luigi fling a trapped ghost against the floor as if cracking a whip which deals greater damage to the ghost. This makes catching ghosts a bit easier than in previous games where you would simply have to hang on to the ghost as it tries to flee, the act of catching a ghost feels now like another skill at your disposal rather than seeming like the result of winning a mini-game. Another new weapon in your arsenal is the suction shot which fires a suction cup at nearby items and enemies allowing you to then grab hold with the Poltergust. The suction shot grants you access to areas and items you wouldn’t otherwise; for example, a large suitcase blocking access to a ventilation shaft can be hit by the suction shot as Luigi then grabs it with his trusty Poltergust and cast it in the opposite direction. This has already proven quite helpful if one wishes to accrue as much treasure as possible or collect every one of the many gems located on each floor. One early ghost encounter finds the specter of a housekeeping maid swallowing Professor E. Gadd’s briefcase which you were tasked to recover. The ghost then has a flat bulge protruding from its midsection making for a prime target for Luigi to attach a suction cup and crack the pilfering fiend upon the floor before being captured by the Poltergust and relinquishing the briefcase. Of course, I am unable to go without mentioning the newest star of the game series, the wonderful(coffee-flavored?) abomination of science known simply as Gooigi. A gelatinous doppelganger created by Professor E. Gadd stored in a reserve slime tank of your Poltergust. By clicking the right joystick Luigi expels this gooey ally from the Poltergust allowing you to control him in order to slip through barred doors and vents unaccessible to Luigi. You can also click the right joystick again to switch back and forth between controlling Luigi and Gooigi as some puzzles with require an extra set of hands to complete. Though Gooigi may represent another skill at your disposal, keep in mind that even the slightest drops of water will render him back to a liquid state.

In the limited hours I have spent playing the game, the variety of enemies as well as puzzles has been most enjoyable. A highlight early on in the game has been an encounter with several ghosts in the buffet area of the hotel in which the ensuing battle results to something closer to a Three Stooges-style food fight in a hurricane of baguettes, puddings, and cheese wedges. Another humorous moment of the game comes as Professor E. Gadd introduces you to his most recent communication device – the Virtual Boo. Luigi has been in contact with the professor in previous entries by using the Game Boy Horror or the Dual Scream(DS). Professor E. Gadd also comments how this newest invention will be a huge success, a self-deprecating joke about Nintendo’s biggest failure the Virtual Boy.

So far I am really loving my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3. I was rather puzzled for the longest time what exactly it was about Dark Moon that made me feel like I should enjoy the game more than I did. It may have been the fact it seemed less of one big cohesive experience as the game was broken up into different locations to investigate and each one having multiple missions to be completed or the simple fact that I’ve never been as much of a fan of playing on handheld versus home consoles where I can hold a traditional controller(as I seldom venture outside 😉 ). I already have no doubt the game will end the year as one of my favorite games of 2019. The gameplay and presentation(up to this point) have been top-notch, with the tone and humor of the game being what we’ve come to expect from a core Nintendo franchise, but the spooky ghosts and haunted house setting of Luigi’s Mansion 3 it plays along the lines of an Abbot & Costello movie, which I am more than fine with…

Have you played any Luigi’s Mansion games? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Memories of Super Mario Odyssey

Exactly two years ago today, Nintendo released Super Mario Odyssey, the first next-gen Mario title on the Switch. The release also punctuated what may be any console’s best one-two punch in releasing a brand new Mario game only eight months after a new Zelda title – Breath of the Wild; this is further impressive considering it was within the very first year of the Nintendo Switch(spoiling us all…). I have mentioned numerous times in the past how much I absolutely love Super Mario Odyssey, so it seemed like a perfect excuse opportunity to talk about some of my favorite memories of the game and what made it so special to me. <Mario voice> Here we go!!

Gameplay – The most important element of any Mario game is how well it plays and Mario Odyssey is quite possibly the smoothest playing, most well-constructed 3D Mario title. The game takes the foundation of prior entries like Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. The controls are nearly flawless, with the camera being a huge improvement over the aforementioned titles. I have also mentioned frequently how a remaster of Mario Sunshine with the improved camera and controls of Odyssey would be a dream come true(please, Nintendo…). The core gameplay mechanic of throwing your wearable sidekick Cappy at items and enemies also works much better than I had anticipated after first seeing the E3 trailer back in 2017. I have since seen others who have dismissed Odyssey in same way that Sunshine was back in 2003 by stating it’s just simply a gimmick and doesn’t provide “an actual game”. Every 3D Mario game since Mario 64 has involved some sort of “gimmick” to facilitate the central gameplay, combat or even attempting to further any in-game narrative outside of Mario rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser.

Another game design of Odyssey that I loved was the fact that it was laid out as a more open-world, sandbox-type game. I love the fact that you aren’t simply sent back to the beginning of a level after collecting a Power Moon, like in previous games like Sunshine or Mario 64 after collecting a star or Shine Sprite. This also makes it easier for someone like me, who has such ADD(as any blog post would indicate…) when playing most games that in the past I would often get quite sidetracked on one objective only to end up completing another in passing before ever getting where I was intending. Playing through Mario Odyssey reminded me in multiple ways of the older N64-era collect-a-thon games like Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie. The overwhelming number of Power Moons(999 to be precise) available to collect in the game didn’t annoy me as much as others; I simply loved playing the game that much I gladly spent 90+ hours doing everything within the game. The fact the game encouraged you to search every nook and cranny of the game and turn every stone was a fun experience that I enjoyed, yet certainly understand it may not be as enjoyable for everyone. The game also provided a number of puzzle stages similar to Mario Sunshine or Galaxy that would really test your patience and platforming skills, especially to collect the additional moons unlocked upon completing the relatively short main storyline.

Worlds – The level design of Mario Odyssey was another memorable part of my hours upon hours of playing; I would rank the playable worlds in Odyssey second only to the Mario Galaxy games. From the foggy Halloween Town look of Cap Kingdom to the arid expanse of Sand Kingdom to finally reaching the low-gravity Moon Kingdom and everything in between provided a different and unique experience. My personal favorite worlds were the Seaside Kingdom – a scenic beachfront level complete with giant soda-water tower offering many Power Moons to be obtained above or under the sea(ha! it’s stuck in YOUR head now too!). My other favorite and probably most memorable location in Mario Odyssey would have to be the Metro Kingdom – the bustling city of New Donk City where Mayor Pauline is in need of assistance to defend the city from Bowser and then preparing for the annual festival, a true highlight of the game in which you will replay the first stage of Mario’s first foray into video games(though he was known at the time as Jumpman).

The playable 2D section during the New Donk City festival

Nostalgia – I would not be able to write a post about Mario Odyssey without mentioning the numerous nods and references to our favorite plumber’s long and prosperous history. The sheer number of acknowledgements to the many games in which Mario has starred is impressive and could almost be viewed as a Mario History course of sorts. Whether it be little references within the worlds themselves or the crazy amount of old throwback caps and costumes to unlock for Mario throughout the game, the game showcases recent as well as more obscure titles. If the name New Donk City wasn’t conspicuous enough, the fact Nintendo brought back Pauline as the current mayor of the city was a great dash of nostalgia – bringing everything back to the beginning. There’s also unlockable costumes to remind you of previous games such as: Mario’s red white and blue overalls as first seen on NES Open to the medical attire worn in Dr. Mario to other outfits like the construction worker from Mario Maker or the cowboy costume from Mario Part 2. Another nostalgic gameplay element was the ability to travel into the 2D pipes which would then display Mario as a pixelated character as you would make your way through a short 2D platforming section similar to that used in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Possibly the sweetest bit of nostalgia comes from immediately after completing the main story by confronting Bowser in a wedding chapel on the moon(yup…), you are able to travel to the Mushroom Kingdom in a wonderful recreation(kind of…) of the overworld outside of Princess Peach’s castle in Mario 64. You are able to enter the castle, though only to speak with Toad rather than jump through any paintings to enter a level, though there are paintings around the castle depicted the various world you have visited on your odyssey(pun!). Once in the Mushroom Kingdom you even come across Yoshi who is playable in only small section of the world, sadly. Nintendo has since stated they wanted Odyssey to appeal to their longtime Mario fans and casual fans alike; as someone who has spent thirty years of their life playing Mario games, I absolutely loved and thank them for it.

Even the Power Moons in the Mushroom Kingdom changed to look like the stars from Mario 64

Memories – Mario Odyssey has provided some memorable gaming moments in its time since release; some of my most memorable moments of the game would be: coming across a T-Rex for the first time and throwing Cappy at it and transforming into a giant Mario T-Rex and destroying nearly everything in my path on the Cascade Kingdom or the first time you reach New Donk City in the Metro Kingdom where you must defeat the giant electrical…caterpillar to restore power to the city after which the gloomy storm clouds clear and give way to a nice sunny day. I can still vividly recall(only two years ago…) much of my time as I would sit in the living room playing as I had my computer sitting next to me auto-playing endless YouTube videos; I think I watched just about every Angry Video Game Nerd episode while hunting down all 999 Power Moons. Since first completing Mario Odyssey I have come back to the game many times as what I usually refer to as one of my “comfort food games”; a game that I have already played for endless hours but still find myself sitting down to play during times of stress, sickness, or simply feeling kind of burned out by other games. Mario Odyssey is currently my favorite Nintendo Switch game, and I still absolutely love playing it two years after its release. I’ve included below a little collection of some of my in-game memories 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Link’s Awakening – My First Impression

The Link’s Awakening remake has been out for nearly a day and a half and I felt compelled to write out some of my thoughts on the game so far, it being far easier to express as a blog post than a rambling series of tweets. I have only played for a few hours and through a couple dungeons, but I can already tell this remake is something special.

Taking BowWow for a walk!

Ever since Nintendo announced they were remaking The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening during the February Direct I knew I was going to play this game(bold proclamation, I know). I was cautiously optimistic after seeing the announcement video showing a shipwrecked Link on the shores of Koholint Island; the animation style they decided to use which shows the environments and character models as glossy, cartoony, and look as though they are made from plastic. After watching more gameplay coverage as we approached release date I went from thinking, “I’m sure I’ll play it” to “I’m gonna buy it IMMEDIATELY” as I became more and more hyped for what could be dismissed as simply a remake of a 26-year old Game Boy game. In the meantime I played through the original Game Boy version of the game in anticipation as I had never played through the game before and wrote a blog post of my thoughts after completing if you care to read. I found myself really enjoying the original Game Boy version so much it made me even more excited to see what Nintendo would do in the remake.

I am thoroughly impressed with the work by Nintendo’s team and especially with that of developer Grezzo, who has helped in developing the solid 3D remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. The game is pretty faithful to the original version, but added in some modern conveniences such as no longer spending much of your time going between actually playing the game and pressing the Start button to manage your inventory(as you could only carry two items at the same time) or the seemingly complicated way of saving your progress( pressing B, A, Start, and Select at the SAME TIME), whereas now you simply open up your inventory screen and select Save, nearly identical to Breath of the Wild.

If you’ve read anything about Link’s Awakening in the past few months, I’m sure a significant portion of it is about the visual style of the game, whether the animation style or the interesting camera angle being used in the game. You have also been inundated by descriptions of the game using the words ADORABLE, CHARM, or DIORAMA, and while the game is all of those things(it’s soooo cute!) I will simply say that this game looks, really, really good! Everything from the texture of the grass and trees to the shimmery sparkle of the water on Koholint Island is great. I walked past a tree that had three apples hanging from it and didn’t even realize I tried to shake the tree to pick up the apples as if it was an Animal Crossing game, there’s my assessment of the game I guess – “Zelda meets Animal Crossing!” Another interesting feature of the game is how it appears as if it’s being viewed through a camera lens with the focus always on Link and around the outer edges of the screen it appears to be a slightly blurred out-of-focus effect. This certainly adds to the unique charm(damn! I said it) and almost gives the perspective of the game being viewed through a set of nostalgia goggles, which I find ironic and clever, given the game series and company behind it 😉

Where am I??

The music of the game perfectly compliments the visual style and overall mood of the game, the music is taken directly from the original game but the updated orchestral overtures greatly enhance the whimsical feeling of the game. While playing, the music provides both a sense of adventure as well as feeling of calmness and relaxation that really reminds me of old Nick Jr. shows like Little Bear or Max and Ruby – I’m surely not the ONLY one to remember those old cartoons, right?

The game mechanics are as fluid and responsive as ever and improved by having dedicated sword and shield buttons. I picked up Roc’s Feather already and excited to try it out in combination with the Pegasus Boots so I can jump over distances that had previously shown just a bit too far, there’s still Bomb Arrows and a Hookshot to have fun with too! I feel obligated to mention probably my favorite mini-game in Zelda games(or most others) – fishing. The fishing was super enjoyable in the original and is looking to be just as relaxing. One of the biggest surprises after bringing home Link’s Awakening was the fact that I was able to pop the nasty tasting little cartridge into my Switch and I was able to play the game IMMEDIATELY without any sort of patch or update first….cuz’ back in my day(angrily shakes cane)….

Gone fishin’

I know many have had issues with the frame rate dropping a little bit when progressing between screens, but I haven’t had anything happen yet, or just not noticeable enough. I guess maybe it could be that I haven’t come across the Pegasus Boots yet, so when attempting to move a bit quicker it can start to affect the frame rate(?). I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Another issue I’ve seen a few bring up on Twitter is the fact that Nintendo is charging a full $60 for a remake, and of probably the shortest Zelda title at that. That seems to be the only real drawbacks to the game I’m aware of for anyone still on the fence about buying the game. I do very highly recommend it as the definitive version of the game to play if you have the chance. I’m really really enjoying the Link’s Awakening remake so far and may end up as one of the favorite games of 2019. That’s about all for now, what are your thoughts on Link’s Awakening from what you’ve seen or played so far? Let me know in the comments below. I’m gonna go do some fishing and….”acquire” myself a bow and arrows from the shopkeeper’s store 😉

Keep on playing…

Thoughts on 9/4 Nintendo Direct

Earlier this evening at 5pm(CST) Nintendo broadcast another of its Direct presentations. Speculation about a September Nintendo Direct had been circling around social media for a few weeks before it was announced that a 40-minute Direct presentation was indeed happening, this brought upon a wave of speculation(with a dash of skepticism). It had been announced that we would be receiving more footage and information about upcoming Switch releases like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokemon Sword/Shield, as well as word on the release date of Banjo & Kazooie as the newest characters in the Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass. Any time a Nintendo Direct is announced, gamer’s imaginations run wild fantasizing about what was in store, everything from earlier than expected release dates for the Breath of the Wild sequel or Animal Crossing: New Horizons to remasters of older titles to sequel announcements(Spoiler: No Pikmin 4 😦 ). While most what Nintendo showed may not have been a huge surprise, here’s a few things that I’m excited to see or find interesting…

More Switch Ports – I’m not going to get too excited simply about more games being ported to the Switch, but Overwatch being released on October 15 on the Switch is still pretty cool. Overwatch is still my favorite multiplayer game of the current console generation(Lucio main and proud!) and Blizzard taking advantage of the enormous user base on the Switch makes sense. My only concern is….the game is several years old already, I feel like I got into the game a little late and that was a couple years ago so I’m curious to see how that plays out. I’m also excited to get another chance to play Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast when upon it’s release for the Switch. I only played the game for a very short time when it was first released, so I’ll gladly take any chance to play more Star Wars games on the Switch. I also think that if EA were to change their mind and realize the units they could sell if they released something like the Battlefront OR The Sims games on the Switch, but alas, they don’t think their player base has any interest in the Switch(I guess EA is suddenly against making that extra cent?). Another Switch port that isn’t much of a surprise – Doom 64. A listing for the game was found on an Australian ratings board a couple weeks ago so the game being formally announced wasn’t entirely surprising, but still welcome. I bought a copy of Doom 64 from a local retro game store a while back and had a bit of difficulty seeing anything in the few moments I spent playing the game, the brief shots of the upcoming Switch release appear to have fixed what I had always heard was the biggest problem facing the game “I can’t see a damn thing!”. Doom 64 will be released on November 22 and hopefully won’t have the Bethesda.net login issues that infuriated everyone after original Doom, 2, and 3 were re-released digitally.

Switch Cross Play/Cloud Saves – This ties in a bit with a few of the newly announced Switch ports, namely games like Divinity Original Sin 2 and Dauntless. Both were announced during the Direct, with Divinity Original Sin 2 being available immediately. I think the most interesting aspect of this is Nintendo’s willingness to embrace the idea of cross-play between consoles. Titles like Overwatch, Divinity, and Dauntless having the ability to play across platforms will be a huge feature, they’ve already found a large audience across PC/PS4/Xbox One but will now add the enormous Switch user base. I’m still a little wary about playing a game on my Switch against someone playing on their PC, especially with the Switch being WiFi only. I mean, playing Overwatch at my local Starbuck’s SOUNDS COOL…but isn’t really the way I prefer to play online multiplayer games, especially FPS games. During the announcement of Divinity Original Sin 2 being available today on the Switch, it was announced that you will be able to use your cloud saves between both Switch AND Steam; this is an incredibly user-friendly aspect that I’m really glad Nintendo is open to embracing. Nintendo’s past hasn’t always reflected an attitude of embracing change within the gaming community as technology advances. I myself haven’t played Divinity Original Sin 2(yet…) but have heard many people praise the game since its release and being able to access my profile between Steam and Switch is a step in the right direction for integrating user bases.

Switch Online SNES – Ever since Nintendo launched their Switch Online service offering the ability to play a select library of NES games, many have anxiously awaited for when Nintendo would inevitably expand that library to include other past consoles like the Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64. A few months ago a patent for a wireless SNES controller was spotted which further amped up anticipation, this along with the fact Nintendo was releasing NES titles for its online service much too seldom, and many games were seen as questionable choice as they were fairly obscure. During the Nintendo Direct it was announced that gamers would finally be able to play SNES games as the Nintendo Switch Online service will now include SNES titles beginning tomorrow. The list of games includes essentials like Super Mario World 1&2, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid, along with more obscure titles like Demon’s Crest or Stunt Race FX. The two games I’m most excited to check out right away will be Breath of Fire and Kirby’s Dream Land 3 – a game that gets quite expensive in used game stores. Nintendo also unveiled a wireless version of the iconic SNES controller to be used alongside the retro games; the retail price for the SNES controller will be $29.99 – exactly HALF of what the wireless NES controllers cost. Of course, you need to be currently subscribed to the Switch Online service to be able to purchase either controller. I was still hoping for ANYTHING Metroid-related to be announced during the Direct, so I guess another place to play Super Metroid will have to do for now 🙂

Banjo in Smash Bros! – Banjo & Kazooie were unveiled as the 4th DLC character in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter’s Pass during Nintendo’s E3 Treehouse event to the elation of all those behind the #BanjoForSmash hashtag and today, we were finally given the release date for our beloved bear and bird. Shortly after the Nintendo Direct, Banjo & Kazooie will be available to use in Smash Bros. Ultimate, with a short segment after the Direct being hosted by Masahiro Sakurai himself showing the new in-game moves and soundtracks. I also love how Sakurai stated how Banjo & Kazooie were first introduced in Diddy Kong Racing on N64 in 1997 but are now currently owned by Microsoft and even though this was part of a Nintendo Direct, he encouraged gamers to check out all three games(Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie/Nuts N’ Bolts) on Xbox. Hearing a Nintendo executive telling people to go play a game on a Microsoft console is pretty funny and shows just how far along the relationship between the two Redmond, WA neighbors has come.

Here’s a link to the past entire Nintendo Direct if you’d like to check it out yourself as there’s too much to go over right now…I didn’t even mention anything about the Dungeon Builder in Link’s Awakening or Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition either did I? Either way, I’m going to kick back with my Switch and play some Smash…Guh-HUH!

Weekend Gaming Review – August

The summer is coming to a close and the excitement is building as we near the autumn season and with that comes the primetime game releases through the rest of the year. With this year looking to be another great one, I usually find myself trying to hurry and finish up many of the games I’m currently working on knowing all too well what happens as we get into October and November. This year the gaming scramble begins a bit sooner as the remake of Link’s Awakening and Borderlands 3 release on the very same day. I’m also looking forward to picking up and playing a couple RPGs on my Switch that I haven’t gotten around to playing yet – Dragon Quest XI and Ni No Kuni. Because I’m the best there is at starting RPGs…and then never finishing them 🙂

In the meantime, I have been playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses and I absolutely love the game! I had been planning on picking it up for a while as I kept hearing about how impressive this game was going to be. I have stated in the past that while I’ve played started playing many Fire Emblem games, for one reason or another, I never end up completing them. This trend becomes especially true when it involves any game involved turn-based strategy elements; the genre of game I’m usually terrible at. Three Houses however, has been a blast to play and I fully intend to see this one through to the end. I love the combat elements within the game as the battles have become my favorite part of the game. I love the choice of picking one of the three houses at the Garreg Mach monastery – Blue Lions, Golden Deer, or Black Eagles. I decided on the Dimitri and the Blue Lions as my typical choice of combat in most games is close quarters combat with swords and axes over bows or magic. I love the soundtrack in the game and how it adds drama during the battles and cutscenes. I’ve played about 28 hours of the game, so I’m roughly half-way through, I think?

All the cats…

This weekend was another Tetris 99 Maximus Cup in which you earn a Fire Emblem theme to use in game. I’m STILL playing Tetris 99 fairly regularly and have collected the Splatoon 2 theme as well as the retro anniversary theme. I feel like I’ve played an excessively amount of Tetris as my Switch profile says I’ve put 55 hours into the game, but then I notice others after the round has finished who are 30 levels past me at 80+.

Over the weekend, I began the demo for Dragon Quest XI that was released a few days ago. Dragon Quest is another game franchise that I have been interested to play for some time as it’s loved and revered by many gamers out there but I’ve sadly never played any of the games. I remember seeing the box for the first Dragon Quest game on NES(listed as Dragon Warrior in North America) and have known of the games, but sadly just that it was another JRPG series similar to the Final Fantasy games. I have only played the Dragon Quest XI demo for a couple hours, but I really really like what I’ve played so far. The fact that I can keep any progress I make on the demo and play from there when I get the full game when it releases on September 27. That blue slime Switch-exclusive controller looks pretty cool as well, I’m a sucker for weird controllers…

I also began a play through of Twilight Princess on my Wii with hopes that I can finish that before Link’s Awakening comes out in a matter of weeks, I usually try not to have more than one Zelda game that I’m working on at any given time. I brought my Wii console out into the living room a couple days ago, and woke up this morning feeling like I wanted to play a Zelda game…so I sat swinging my Wii-mote and nunchuck around for about 4 hours today.

I haven’t been playing as many different games as I normally may be, but the ones I have been playing are the kind of games that you need to devote a certain level of time to. Fire Emblem has been consuming most of my time playing games and I can’t say enough positive things about it. What games have you been playing recently? Or what’s a game that you’ve been meaning to play for a while, whether first time or a replay? Let me know in the comments below. I’ve been keeping up with the Geek Out Challenge questions on a semi-daily basis and didn’t have much lined up for a weekend post, so I thought it would be fun to do a recap of what I’ve been playing recently.

Keep on playing…

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!

In Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! we get a pretty accurate summary of what to expect from the title of the game; an amorphous alien blob lands on Earth(from Space!) and begins to consume everything in front of it. While it may sound like a pretty simple premise, it works well within its b-movie setting and most importantly, is really fun to play. Mutant Blobs Attack! is a sequel to Drinkbox Studio’s Tales From Space: About a Blob and was initially released back in 2012, and more recently on the Nintendo Switch in May 2019. It is a platform/puzzler set to a 60’s sci-fi b-movie backdrop that made for a delightful game experience. I downloaded the game a few weeks ago while looking on the eShop on my Switch and thought it sounded fun to play. I had a great time playing Guacamelee(finally!) so I was willing to check out what else Drinkbox Studios had to offer. I began playing it several weeks ago as an indie title I could play in small, bite-size chunks to counter the endless hours hunting Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild.

Once you reach the last level, you’ve reached a large enough size to consume buildings and an entire city

As the title suggests, you control a small alien blob making your way through the 6 levels, with each containing four stages. The first level takes place on a college campus, before progressing through the nearby town, a detour to the moon, back to the Badlands, an Army base, and finally a large metropolis. The levels for the most part consist of standard side-scrolling where you navigate the levels while consuming anything smaller than yourself, slowly building in size until you can progress to the next section. This aspect of the Mutant Blobs Attack! is essentially Katamari Damacy as a side-scroller; there’s also numerous puzzles blocking your path that you must overcome by drawing yourself to or pushing away from corresponding objects, as a magnet would be attracted or repelled from another magnet. The “magnetic” objects are colored purple, usually pipes or spinning blades. For example, you press ZL to draw yourself towards an object and you can push yourself away from the same object by pressing ZR. In other levels you will be able to use your ability to propel yourself through the air using…gas(I think?) similar to how a jellyfish will move underwater. There is also several stages that will use a top-down camera as you roll yourself around using gyroscopic controls – like one of those old wooden maze toys where you try to roll the small metal ball to the end. Other puzzles will require you to your psionic ability to move and arrange beams and platforms around to provide access or block taking any damage from red laser beams that will result in your demise should you touch them. This is accomplished by using a standard controller or by utilizing a touch screen if you are playing on Switch or Playstation Vita. There is a message at the beginning of the game that states handheld mode is the recommended way to play the game. I played just about the entire game in handheld mode.

The gameplay and physics work really well, although at one point I was noticing that my movements seemed to be just a split second after I moved the joystick as if there was some screen lag, worse yet, there were a few instances of my character moving slightly BEFORE I had even moved the joystick. However, this seemed to be fixed upon attaching my other set of Joy-Cons to the Switch…only now I’m fearing I may be starting to see some of the infamous “Joy-Con drift” that has been a bit of a concern for Switch owners in the past few months. Nonetheless, the actual controls within the game work really well and the in-game physics seem spot-on.

Earth is doomed!!

The visuals and music in Mutant Blobs Attack! really add to the gameplay experience, the animation style is similar to that of Guacamelee, with the backgrounds and level design that ooze 60’s sci-fi b-movie vibes. I really enjoyed the music as well, an upbeat blend of reverb-drenched surf music sounding like it was recording in the 60’s. The game does a great job of conveying the sights and sounds, along with the goofy charm that seems to exist within Drinkbox games. The ending of the game was also enjoyable as the alien blob has grown such enormous size that it devours the Earth and then entire solar system, this is prompt the in-game achievement – Galaxicide.

Complaints I have for Mutant Blobs Attack! begin with the game’s length, you could easily finish the entire game in one sitting as the levels can be completed in anywhere from two to five minutes. The game does encourage you to go back to previous levels to best your previous score as well as find and rescue two of your companion blobs in each level, so the length isn’t a huge detriment to the game, particularly for the price. As stated earlier, the game is perfect to play when you just want to spend a small amount of time playing and don’t want to start up something you will not gain anything from by playing less than a couple hours. My other complaint is probably more to due with playing it on the Switch, some of the puzzles will require you to use the touch controls to move objects to obscure laser beams or to bridge gaps, but this can be tricky to do while having to press buttons and move the joystick in rather quick succession. You can play the game in docked mode, but this requires you to position yourself close enough to the object you need to move that it is more difficult this way. I imagine the smaller size of the Vita would make for the easiest way to complete these challenges.

The puzzles encourage you to use the touch screen to move the platforms, it’s a little trickier with a controller…

Minor complaints aside, Mutant Blobs Attack! is great fun and is certainly worthy of your time. The setting is interesting and the music adds to the 60’s vibe, I can wholeheartedly recommend this game. Drinkbox Studios has shown to be capable of producing unique indie titles that don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. I will definitely be playing Guacamelee 2 in the near future too!

That’s it for now, I’ve been enjoying playing through an assortment of indie games and writing up a summary about it. The next indie title will most likely be Layers of Fear, another game I’ve been meaning to play for a while. Have you played any games from Drinkbox Studios? Do you have any suggestions for indie games to play? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep on playing…