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Off Topic Nintendo


Ashez
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What I've Been Playing 

I've not had an update this late in a while but it was a month where I just wanted to play games more than talk about them, unfortunately the main game stealing my attention won't be mentioned much in this update but we've still alot to cover. 

This was meant to be a separate update but I forgot to post it so here is a list of all the games I played in 2021

Games Played 2021

Spoiler

Max The Curse Of Brotherhood

Red Faction Guerrilla

Yoku's Island Express

Xenoblade Chronicles

Mario Galaxy HD

Need For Speed Hot Pursuit

Lego DC Super Villains

Bioshock

Bioshock 2

Metroid Zero Misson GBA

Shovel Knight

Pokémon Fire Red GBA

Assassin's Creed 4 Black Flag

Pokémon Unite 

Hard West

TLOZ Skyward Sword

Metroid Dread

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Undertale

Bioshock Infinite

Pokémon Shining Pearl

Buffy The Vampire Slayer GBC

Legend Of Kay Anniversary

FMM 22 Mobile 

What a fantastic list of games, my biggest surprise was how I went the entire year without playing a single DS or 3DS game! That's something I had to fix early on in 2022 as they're systems I love, I'm not sure how I went a year without them! The lack of Wii/GameCube games doesn't surprise me however as my brother had my Wii system for most the year but I have it back now so I'll have to get back into that backlog as well in the coming months.  

As for the games themselves it was an incredible year as the BioShock series, Xenoblade, Black Flag, Skyward Sword and Metroid Dread were all incredible! Now let's jump into 2022 as I can only hope this year is as awesome as the last one!! 

January 2022

Switch

Ori And The Blind Forest - I've been really excited about Ori and the Blind Forest since I heard about it many years ago, the first game in the Ori series by Moon Studios and published by Microsoft has always been highly regarded as a shining light in the Indie Metroidvania scene which is some claim considering the genre has basically been carried by indie developers for years now. While I'd played the Switch demo a few months back I was immediately taken by surprise by the difficulty of this game (I played on normal) as I found it fairly frustrating throughout thanks to its many one hit kill elements, however once I got my head around these issues and accepted them I really started to get into the game, I think the visuals especially tricked me into thinking this would be a fairly casual experience so once it started kicking my arse I got frustrated but I soon got over that. Ori and the Blind Forest leans in the hardcore platformer direction more than in a combat/exploration direction as there aren't really any boss battles but there is plenty of almost twitch platforming and challenging platforming sections which leave little margin for error, while finishing them was rewarding I did find the reliance on one hit kill spikes or one chance jumps and the like annoying, but that's the case in most games as it's a game play element I just don't like. One aspect I had a real love hate relationship with was how the game handles save points, as you have a few set points scattered around the environment but they're few and far between, however you can use part of your magic meter to set your own save point. While this is cool as it means you can save after a section that gave you trouble your magic is somewhat limited so it can be nerve wracking to know if you should save or not, once or twice I did basically save myself into a terrible position where I had to essentially grind myself passed the section with repeated tries due to being low on health or the areas general difficulty etc, it's a really cool idea being able to set your own save but not knowing what's around the next corner could mean you wasted a save or created more issues for yourself, thankfully however by the end game you should have found enough magic gauge containers that the experience becomes less stressful. Finding upgrades is basically the bread and butter of any Metroidvania and Ori does handle this well as the game gives you plenty of things to look for like health/magic upgrades and the typical exploration based abilities like a double jump and a dash which are used to explore new areas. Thankfully in exploration is where Ori truely shines as this game is absolutely stunning, it's one of the best looking games I've played in a long time as each screen of the game could be a canvas, the amount of times I just stopped to appreciate the beauty on the screen was higher than it should have been, the environments just delivered completely and really brought the game to life, if anything they might have been too distracting. The visuals were complimented by a wonderful soundtrack also as the tension, calm and beauty of what was going on on the screen was enhanced with a high energy yet relaxing score that was a joy throughout, I've actually listened to a few songs away from the game as they're just fantastic, it's likely the best soundtrack I've heard since Xenoblade Chronicles last year and it's one that'll stay with me I'm sure. The final negative I want to mention has to be the combat as I think this is where my disappointment comes from as in short the combat is horrendous, it's easily one of the worst combat systems I've ever used in a game of this style as it's just boring. You basically auto aim/attack with a projectile with the press of the attack button so it becomes very button mashy and unrewarding as your projectiles attack the nearest enemy, at times the attack felt over powered yet at other times it felt useless as the enemies also mostly used ranged attacks and it always felt like they had a bigger range so there was plenty of edging and spacing to have to contend with, it just did absolutely nothing for me and I'm delighted to see the sequel has massively changed the combat system (and added autosaves). Now we get to the second biggest positive after the visuals and that's the story as damn does this game deliver on the story! After my playthrough of the demo I compared what I experienced there to a Pixar film and after playing the game I think that's a more than fair comparison as this story goes in hard! The openings starts with themes of family and loss that pulls on the heartstrings early doors, once the villain is revealed and the journey heats up you're dealt another emotional blow as you discover the motivations of the main villain, with an ending that completes the arc superbly which could easily bring a tear to the eye! There isn't much dialogue, exposition or cutscenes in this game but the ones that are there hit perfectly and made this a game I'll remember, I want to say more but I might have already said too much! All in all I really enjoyed Ori and the Blind Forest but not for the reasons I expected, alot of the gameplay I was somewhat iffy on but the story, music and visuals did so much heavy lifting I can't say this isn't a top experience and a game worth playing. For people who don't get frustrated with the combat or reliance on cheap deaths I can see why this game is so highly regarded, it's not a 8 or 9 out of 10 for me personally as I'd have it more around the 7 mark but I can see how it gets there for other people. I'm actually really excited to jump into the sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps as Moon Studios responded to criticism of the first title and made alot of changes which I hope will improve the experience, as most are changes I'd want and I'm eager to see how they follow up on this story. I do think my views on this title would have been different if I played it before Metroid Dread though, as I did spend alot of my playthrough comparing it to Dread and thinking how that did things better. 

Pokémon Legends Arceus - I'll save this for the next update but I can say now I'd be surprised if this wasn't my game of the year! Yeah it's an early shout saying it in January but unless BOTW2 releases this year I can't see what could top it! Too be honest it is everything I feared it would be yet it's completely hooked me and I've been addicted to it, but we'll talk about it in the February update as I should have finished it by then. 

DS 

Biker Mice From Mars - Not many shows pull on my nostalgia as hard as the original Biker Mice From Mars as it's something I adored in my childhood, it might be a TNMT rip off but it's a show I used to love. Anyway I ended up on a trip down memory lane discussing the show with a friend and it reminded me I picked up this game months ago on the Nintendo DS and I'd yet to play it, conveniently I was also in the mood to return to one of my favourite systems of all time so I popped it in my 3DS. Upon starting the game I was welcomed into a bland story in a world I didn't know much about at all, which makes sense as I realised this game is connected to the rebooted animated series which was way after my time, thankfully however the playable characters were still Moda, Throttle and Vinnie so that nostalgic itch was still being scratched. The story was easy to ignore as there wasn't much to it which brings us to the gameplay which is equally as forgettable. The main game focuses on two gameplay styles being a side scrolling beat em up and a time attack style bike racing mini game. The bike racing aspect of the game is easily the worst part as the controls are floaty and just awful in general with somewhat tight restrictions but you can gain speed boosts and extra time by picking up pick ups or shooting down enemies on the track, these sections were short thankfully but I'd really hoped for more from them. As for the beat em up sections they don't really get much better as it's all by the numbers as you have a punch and a kick and you defeat waves of enemies on the screen to progress through the level, in some aspects the game does throw a curve ball at you like there are a couple power ups available and a few turret and vehicle sections but they're equally as poor. Unfortunately it's just not a very good game in general but it did its job of giving me a Biker Mice From Mars injection and kept me busy while I waited for Pokémon Legends to release. 

Game Of The Year

Spoiler

New Releases

1. Pokémon Legends Arceus 

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

First Time Played This Year

1. Ori and The Blind Forest

2. Biker Mice From Mars 

3. 

4. 

5. 

Recent Pick Ups 

Van Helsing - PS2 - £1.50 - I don't pick up none Nintendo items often but Van Helsing caught my eye recently while browsing the shelves so for £1.50 I thought I may as well take it home with me. Unfortunately the title isn't on an Nintendo system and since it's a game in the Devil May Cry style based on a movie that's one of my guiltiest of pleasures I've always wanted to try it at least. Unfortunately my PS2 is currently at my brother's and he's had it for years so I don't know if I'll ever get to try this but at least now I have the option. 

Spyborgs - Wii - £2 - One thing I do from time to time is go on the Cex website and browse by local stores looking at what inventory they have across the systems I collect for, mainly because the store experience is shit and if I ever go there I want to have a couple of titles I know I'm going in for at the least. The beauty of doing this is you come across games you aren't familiar with and usually I'll create a YouTube playlist full of reviews for such games and have it on in the background while doing other things. During one instant of doing this process I discovered a game I'd never heard of before called Spyborgs which was a new IP created by Capcom, unfortunately it doesn't look like it completely sticks the landing as reviews are average but at one point at least it looks like they were going all out as you easily could have envisioned this type of game creating a franchise as it got the "this could be a kids TV show feel". As for the game itself it's a 3D co-op (with AI or a friend) beat em up with three playable characters and very impressive production values judging on the footage I saw for the Wii at least, it just looked super interesting so I had to have it. 

Radio Helicopter - Wii - £1 - Radio Helicopter was an impulse buy and it seems to be a Pilot Wings type puzzle/challenge game where you have objectives to do with a remote control toy helicopter, I dunno it looked neat enough for 100 pennies. 

Trauma Center New Blood - Wii - £1 - I've never played the Trauma Center series of games but I do have the Wii remake of the original DS game already in the collection, New Blood is the sequel so now I have both titles which are the only games for the series released in Europe. The game is a visual novel/puzzle/surgery simulator which seems well liked while also making good use of the Wii system. 

Pokémon Legends Arceus - Switch - £43 - I had plenty of fears going into Arceus as I was terrified of it being one big fetch quest which is a gameplay loop I don't typically like, I was especially worried as Nintendo didn't show much of what the actual gameplay was before hand. The fact the visuals of the game were also horrendous had me very worried about the title but curiosity got the better of me as I pre-ordered it a few days before release...... As I revealed above it was a decision I ended up being delighted with. 

Edited by Ashez
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What I've Been Playing 

February 2022

Another very late update this time, partly because I've been busy but also because I wanted to have some time to assess my thoughts on a certain game. The actual March update shouldn't be too far behind though as unfortunately that's not going to be a very meaty update.  

Switch

Pokémon Legends Arceus - Pokémon Legends Arceus is a big game and one I feel is worth the "breakdown review" so let's explore this new take for Pokémon in some depth! 

Graphics & Visuals - Let's get the elephant out the room and start the discussion talking about the graphics as it has to be said Pokémon Legends isn't an attractive game! Many have commented on how it looks like a HD Wii or even GameCube game which isn't exactly untrue as the game is very rough around the edges, at times it can look pretty decent in certain areas but most of the time it is fairly unappealing. However while it won't win any awards for its beauty I have to say the average visuals of the game never really hindered my experience as the game was that enjoyable I was able to look past the poor textures. Thankfully most of the characters models and Pokémon look fine which is what I care about in this type of game, obviously I'd love it to look better but Pokémon has an annoying fixation on being a yearly series now so games aren't getting enough time in the oven. It's worth noting the game does have a few performance issues but again I never found them that annoying as I loved the entire experience so much. 

Gameplay - In Pokémon Legends you enter a point in history where Pokémon haven't been befriended as yet and are seen as something wild and to be feared, early on you're welcomed into the local town and given a job as a researcher. Which in gameplay terms means it's your job to survey the area and record data on the various Pokémon found in the region's close to the base camp. When it comes to catching Pokémon in Legends the game has taken inspiration from Pokémon Go and Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee as all Pokémon are now visable in the environments and you have the option to throw a Pokémon, an item or a Pokémon of your own to start a battle and boy this is so bloody cool. Each Pokémon has its own characteristics and personality with some being skittish and others aggressive so you have to work out if stealth or aggression is the best way to approach these Pokémon to catch them and I found this feature fun throughout. Honestly it was like my childhood dreams of playing Pokémon Red/Blue were bought to life as now I was in the wild facing off against these monsters. The aggressive Pokémon especially were awesome as they'd actually attack you as a trainer and if you take enough damage they will cause you to faint, thankfully you have a dodge and your own Pokémon to use as protection but it made every encounter exciting. Essentially the main aspect of the game is exploring areas and catching Pokémon then reporting back to the professor to record your data, this isn't a journey about gym badges and the Elite Four but an adventure focused on the "Got to catch them all" catchphrase of the series and I found it a very fresh take! The game features only a handful of traditional Pokémon battles and while I did miss some of the more traditional aspects of Pokémon I loved this fresh take, yet I'll admit what excited me throughout was the thought of this and the traditional games mixing to create something even greater which looks to be happening as Generation 9 of Pokémon was announced recently to release this year and it certainly looks to be taking inspiration from Legends. Legends seems to have taken inspiration from games like Xenoblade, Monster Hunter and previous Pokémon games to create a wonderful mix, I'll admit it might not be for everyone but I absolutely loved it. Admittedly I don't think I'd want another game like this without changes as I do think it would get stale fast but if they continue with this type of game while working on some of the Pokédex stuff I think Pokémon might finally be evolving and becoming something I've always wanted it to be. 

Boss Battles - Pokemon Legends seems to have taken inspiration from Xenoblade here as the environments are filled with over levelled Pokémon and "alpha's" which function as over world mini bosses, you'd be foolish to take them on too early but if you manage to capture one your team would reap the rewards. One part I really loved was in the early game a high level Snorlax is blocking the path, however if you manage to sneak by him you'll find basically another massive section of the map filled with more obtainable Pokémon! Many might have abandoned the route due to the Snorlax but you are rewarded for trying your luck! The game also has more traditional third person style boss fights linked to the story as throughout the game you have to fight enraged Lord Pokémon in a 3D space. In these battles you have balms you must throw at the boss while dodging their attacks with your roll ability. Having such a feature in a Pokémon game is fascinating but unfortunately I do feel these are the worst part of the game as they just feel extremely janky, you can tell third person action games aren't in Game Freaks wheelhouse. They serve a purpose and they offer something different and new but I never really liked them, I will say though the final post game battle is absolutely insane! 

Open World - The Monster Hunter inspiration is clearly felt in the way the world of Pokémon Legends is put together as it's not open world in the traditional sense, instead it's more of an open area game. For example one area is a swamp location and another is basically fieldlands and you can't go from one to the other without returning to the base town. The game features five main areas to explore covering the environments you'd come to expect and I think each area is big and varied enough to serve the game. However I do think the design of the areas is alittle safe and underwhelming, the environments all feel like they were thrown together and not built with much thought too them, I can't really put my finger on it but the game just didn't feel as natural as other open world games I've played. I also think the game missed a few amazing opportunities though for example one area has a volcano and I was really excited to explore it only to discover it's basically a boss fight location and your adventure there would be over within minutes, it was just disappointing as I built up the area as somewhere potentially really cool and interesting and it just didn't deliver. The game also only features two caves which annoyed me as it's a feature I really associate with Pokémon as who doesn't have memories of being lost in the various caves across the Pokémon franchise, I'm not sure why caves are something Game Freak have shyed away from in recent games as they were basically absent from Sword and Shield as well. 

Pokédex - The main gameplay gimmick of Legends is you acting as a Pokemon researcher as you build the first ever Pokédex for the region. Seeing a Pokémon for the first time is only the first step of this journey however as each Pokémon has various tasks you can complete which will raise the rank of that Pokemon's entry. To be honest perfecting a Pokémon's entry is a ridiculous undertaking but it's not something you need to do, however you are expected to complete it by registering every Pokémon (the reward is worth it), while you can "10 rank" a Pokémon which gives it a complete ranking instead of a perfect ranking. Getting the 10 rank means you need to achieve 10 points on its research goal list, with some examples being catching so many of said Pokémon, evolving said Pokémon so many times or seeing the Pokémon use a specific move. The process is alittle long winded and grindy but it's one I really enjoyed! 

Story - Personally I found the story a mixed bag as most of it I just clicked through but at times it grabbed my attention like I really enjoyed the Coastlands arc. As I've previously stated the game starts with you joining a village and discovering you have a knack with Pokémon which leads to you becoming a researcher. The story will then take you across the 5 areas and beyond as you try to settle an angered Lord Pokémon with many characters and side objectives thrown in. Once you've solved all the issues with the Lord's a bigger more traditional Pokémon plot around legendary Pokémon sees you through to the credits. I think the story was serviceable and fun but it was in line with most other Pokémon games, it got the job done but it's hardly a top RPG adventure. In fairness I did so much of the extra content I played the story massively spread out across my play through, I've seen reports a straight lined play through is in the 15 hour ball park and I put over 70 hours into the game by the time I beat it. Yet again though I find myself wishing Pokémon games had voice acting as it's none inclusion is really making the series feel outdated, I've often said Dragon Quest is where I feel Pokémon could be in terms of story but it always falls way short. 

Post Game - The Post game mostly focuses on a number of quests which see you collect a number of legendary and mythical Pokémon, it's not too long but it was a nice way to round out the story. To achieve the final boss you must complete the Dex and I think the experience was rewarding enough to warrant the investment. 

Side Quests - The game is filled with various side quests which were mostly fetchquests of finding certain items or Pokémon and just your typical RPG stuff, if I remember correctly the number was around 100 so there was plenty to keep you busy. Some tied into progression of the town's shops, some tied into Pokédex research and a couple led to unique Pokémon captures as well as the usual item rewards so they had plenty to offer. 

Free DLC - During the Pokémon Day celebrations some more content was added in a free DLC update. Unfortunately I've not returned to check it out as I have little need as I've finished the Pokédex. I was sure we'd get some proper DLC but now Gen 9 has been announced we might not, but if we do get a substantial DLC update I think I would return. 

Shiny Pokémon - One aspect that blew up social media about Pokémon Legends was the amount of shiny Pokémon! The game has decent odds anyway and with Pokémon spottable without random encounters they were easier to find but by completing or perfecting a Pokemon's Dex entry your odds improved again, especially once you unlocked/earned the shiny charm and took advantage of mass outbreak spawns which increased the odds again. I ended the game with 7 or 8 shines without really going out my way for them so averaging a shiny every 10 hours isn't bad going! I get it lowers shinies rarity and excitement but I still loved the chance that one could pop up at any time. 

Conclusion - Pokémon Legends Arceus was the perfect game for me at the perfect time, I've often said Pokémon is my comfort food game and to get a 70 hour experience like this after the last few years was awesome. Annoyingly it released at a time when life got a little hectic so having this distraction was ideal and that's likely why I decided to 100% it. I 10 ranked the Dex, completed the Dex and did every side and main quest and I had a blast! It's not a perfect 10/10 game or the "Breath Of The Wild" of Pokémon but it's a game that in my opinion has reignited the Pokémon formula and now the game is in my past I'm extremely excited and the series future! I didn't hate Sword and Shield like most of the fanbase but it was flawed, as is Legends but I can't help but find the future exciting as if they get the mix right Pokémon might finally be reaching the heights I've always wanted it to. Admittedly I don't want another Pokédex focused game as this did become tedious and I wouldn't want to go through it again, but if they take the catching and wild Pokémon ideas and merge them with an open world Pokémon game with older mechanics like breeding, battling, abilities, gyms and everything else that makes Pokémon Pokémon the series will have a bright future! 

Game Of The Year

Spoiler

New Releases

1. Pokémon Legends Arceus 

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

First Time Played This Year

1. Ori and The Blind Forest

2. Biker Mice From Mars 

3. 

4. 

5. 

Recent Pick Ups

A slow and busy February saw me pick up no new titles, I was too busy with Legends and work to even shop haha. I've been spending ever since though 👀

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What I've Been Playing 

March 2022

Switch

Slay The Spire - I've said before I'm a massive fan of card games as for some reason they really appeal to me, for that reason Slay The Spire which is a rogue like deck builder always held my intrigue. Admittedly learning a new card game can be rather intimidating so it's taken me awhile to get around to it but now I have I have to say it's a brilliant game! It's not exactly what I expected but I do really like what it is. Like I've previously mentioned I knew going in Slay The Spire was a deck building Roguelike so I expected you'd gradually build and improve your deck over time, however that isn't the case as with each new run you start off with the same base deck of cards and you'll have the option of adding new randomised cards to your deck throughout the run via battles and other events. As you take your base deck into the run and plan a route that will take you through shops, random encounters, boss battles and storied events that will allow you to edit your deck, regardless if you're successful or your run ends in defeat you start the next run with the same base deck. One area the game does keep this concept fresh is the game features multiple playable characters which have their own style and base deck, for example the Ironclade is more of a heavy hitter while the Silent is more of a damage over time type of deck, however all the playable characters can be played in different ways, it all depends on your playing style and the types of cards you can add to your deck throughout the run, basically you never really know what you have as you need to plan on the fly. Learning all this as I went was very enjoyable but it was a somewhat steep learning curve but by trial and error I managed to work out how I could use each of the characters in a play style that suited me. When you start the game you only have access to the Ironclade and when you finish a run with him you unlock the next character and so on with a total of four playable characters in the game. I managed to finish a couple runs with the first two characters but as yet I've not managed to win a run with the third character, although I have lost to the final boss multiple times with him. The actual gameplay sees you climb the Spire as your selected character and in random battles you'll draw from your deck of cards. The cards range from defensive ones, attacks and other effects and you have an energy limit which limits how many actions you can take each turn, with the aim being to survive and take out the enemies. Your health continues on for the rest of the floor but it can be replenished via certain events, potions, moving to the next floor and rest stops which you'll have to keep in mind while planning your route. Another randomised aspect of the game is you can find and unlock relics which are little boosts which can really help shape not only your run but your deck as learning which relics to take and how they work is one of the biggest aspects of the game, especially as it's pretty much risk verses reward as relics are most commonly obtained by beating bosses so you can't avoid them as you'll be underpowered quickly. Planning your route to include as many boss battles as you think you can handle while having shops and rest stops available if needed is just as strategic as building the deck to he honest. Basically Slay The Spire is a very good and strategic card game and I'd likely fail is trying to describe its inner workings in a simple post like this. Like I said I've managed to see the credits with the first two characters and I'd guess it took around 10 hours with each to feel like I had a handle on them, my current play time is in the 25 hour ball park and I've yet to finish a run with the third playable character, I've got close a few times but the third character is alot more complicated than the previous two. I didn't intend to stop playing when I did but I got distracted by Mario Kart and by the time I got back to playing other games I decided I wanted to move on but I intended to keep the game around the Switch as it's one I'll chip at in the future when I'm in those "I've not enough time to start something before a new release" periods like how I've previously used The Binding Of Isaac and Dead Cells. That's the thing with Roguelikes as it's up to you to decide when to move on, while I've not finished the game yet I've easily got my money's worth and enjoyment from the title so I'm happy for it to go on the back burner for now, I'm actually still thinking about the game alot so it's clearly got some staying power. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Pack 1 - The day the DLC released I made an event out of the occasion as I invited the brother and his kids around for a night of Mario Kart and a Chinese, and it was a complete blast! My niece (3) got involved for the first time and while her interest was limited seeing some joy from her made the purchase worthwhile instantly. My nephew on the other hand (5) really got into the new tracks and with the accessibility features of the game he managed to hold his own against his dad and myself in some "half hearted" multiplayer where we basically tried to help him win. He actually managed to 3 star one of the new cups for me by himself which was ace to see. As for the new cups I think they're fantastic additions to the game, admittedly they've gone for a different art style for these cups which stands out compared to the rest of the game but in isolation I think they look fine. What surprised me the most was the Paris and Ninja hideout tracks based on the mobile Mario Kart game (Tour) are absolutely brilliant and easily the pick of the bunch, I've not tried the game yet but after seeing the creativity of the courses the game has I might be tempted in the future, I'm just not a mobile gamer tbh. I 3 starred both of the new cups on 50cc, 100cc, 150cc and mirror mode but I don't typically bother with 200cc as that's a time sink I'm not committed enough for as yet, I've done a fair few of the base game cups but I've been stuck on one for ages and it's something I'll have a few tries at whenever we have a Mario Kart session. This DLC pushed me to over 60 hours in MK8D which is around how much I played it on the WiiU and with multiple cups still to come I see myself and my family enjoying Mario Kart for many hours to come. 

Astral Chain - I'll save this for the April update as I'm only a couple hours in at this point. 

Game Of The Year

Spoiler

New Releases

1. Pokémon Legends Arceus 

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

First Time Played This Year

1. Slay The Spire 

2. Ori and The Blind Forest

3. Biker Mice From Mars

4. 

5. 

Recent Pick Ups 

Darksiders 2 - Switch - £11 - I grabbed this on a whim due to the price being ridiculous! I have Darksiders 1 in the backlog so for £11 I decided to grab the sequel just in case I enjoy the first game. The sequel changes up the formula of the first game from what I remember when I looked into the series and it seems most people usually really like one or the other. But £11 for a game that's in a similar ball park to Zelda and Devil May Cry I'll give it a whirl. 

Stardew Valley - Switch - £15 - I've always wanted to try Stardew Valley yet I've always been terrified of the idea as I know what time sinks this type of game can be. I've almost bought it digitally a number of times as originally it didn't get a European physical release and the original Asian release was like gold dust, however it did indeed get a European physical release eventually. It's pretty much stayed at the £25-30 price point since it released but Amazon dropped it to £15 and at that price I had to grab it, for what it's worth the box art is absolutely gorgeous! 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC Pass - £20 - Like I wasn't picking this up! It's something I've wanted since MK8D released on the Switch as while I love the base game I also played it to death on the WiiU. The promise of 48 more tracks over the next couple of years is extremely exciting and a bargain at around £25 or free with the expanded online pass. Unfortunately I don't have either online pass so I decided to buy the DLC separately but I had enough gold coins on my account to drop the price to a nice round £20. Buying it out right also means I'll always have access to the content which is worth it in my opinion. 

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What I've Been Playing

April 2022

April turned out to be an absolutely insane month as I went to Comic Con, caught Covid again (not related I don't think), cleared a number of titles out of the backlog and went on a buying spree! Let's see what went down shall we! Make sure you check out the end of this update as something extremely cool also happened at Comic Con as I met two industry legends!! 

Switch

Astral Chain - Astral Chain was a game that looked so cool when it was announced, the style and atmosphere of the game looked absolutely incredible and action packed like most Platinum games. However while I thought it looked awesome I was never convinced the game would gel with me so it was a title I held out for a price drop on which unfortunately never came, however you might remember I picked it up cheap off eBay the other month so I thought it was finally time to sink my teeth into the game. The first thing that stands out about the title has to be the art style as the game is stunning and so stylish even on the Switch and it runs well enough to be able to enjoy the game, seriously the visuals were my favourite part of the game! As for the gameplay Astral Chain is split into two sections, an action beat em up section and a police detective section and unfortunately I found both somewhat underwhelming and underdeveloped. With the action combat you control two characters, one being your avatar and the other being a alien/mech type creature called a Legion. Controlling both characters takes some getting used to but as they're chained together it works surprisingly well once you get the hang of it, unfortunately however the resulting combat just wasn't that enjoyable to me as it felt incredibly repetitive and button mashy, I'm sure on harder difficulties the combat could have some strategy but on the default difficulty it was almost mindless and not in the good way, especially as combat took up alot of the game as you'd often end up in gated combat areas and the like. When it comes to the detective aspects of the game they're mostly just talking to people and being given clues which you have to remember and select in the right order, but this aspect of the game basically disappears towards the later chapters and honestly I'm happy about that as I didn't enjoy them at all. While exploring the environments for people to question was interesting due to the location designs the actually gameplay was just tedious and almost felt like padding. What really didn't help the game in my opinion was the silent protagonist as it removed so much potential personality from the game, especially as alot of the other characters in the story were likeable and interesting so I think this was a missed opportunity, although i think it's handled in this way as your twin is also a major part of the story and does alot of the speaking for you, unfortunately however she was one of the few characters I really didn't like. As for the story itself you play as a cop with your Legion as you investigate reports of other evil legions coming from a different dimension as they try to take over earth, it's somewhat cliche and predictable at parts but it does the job, especially as it does have some more emotional beats based around the playable character and their family. Astral Chain is in the 15 hour ball park and I'll be honest and say even at that length I found it a chore, the game is incredibly cool but it just never landed with me at all, it's definitely a game that's more style than substance in my book and one I've ended up not really fussed on. Unfortunately I've ended up feeling this way about most of Platinum games as I'm not that fussed on Madworld or Bayonetta and it's sequel, they're all cool games but it's all style and no substance for me. 

New Super Lucky's Tale - I'll start off strong and say New Super Lucky's Tale is already one of my favourite Nintendo Switch games and I'd even say it's the best 3D platformer I've played on the system since Mario Odyssey which is some praise! The game just comes together excellently as it cherry picks ideas from games from yester years to create its own thing as you can see the clear inspiration from greats like the Mario series, Donkey Kong and Banjo Kazooie! The game might not do too much new or genre changing but the way it brings everything together seriously worked for me! Super Lucky's Tale originally released as a Xbox exclusive but it was reworked and almost remade into the New Super Lucky's Tale version which saw a release on every system I believe. Story wise you play as an adorable fox called Lucky who's out to save his sister and the book of ages where he meets the bad guy group of Cats who go by the name "The Kitty Litter". You go through each world collecting pages for the book of ages while facing off against many enermies with each world having a boss battle against one of the Kitty Litter. The story is what you come to expect from this type of game but the few cut scenes the title have are awesome and very well animated, and even pretty dark, especially the first one! Each world consists of multiple levels as you travel the typical world's of platformers as you'll enter a ghost area and a beach area just to mention a couple, what makes it all unique however is how this game includes all aspects of platforming! Not only do you have your traditional 3D platform A-Z levels but you also have collectathon type levels, 2D side scrollers and even auto run levels which adds so much to the game as it's repeatedly kept fresh by the new level concepts! Each level has the completion page to collect as well as one for collecting a certain amount of coins and one for collecting the letters to spell Lucky, all typical fair but it gives you something to do in these levels and it works wonderfully. Challenge wise I'd say this game is very approachable as I didn't notice any noticeable difficulty spikes as I breezed through the game, I will say however the final boss can be a tad irritating due to the camera being a tad iffy during that encounter, but otherwise I think the camera and the rest of the game works brilliantly! When it comes to Lucky's moveset he can jump and double jump while he also has the ability to burrow underground which is used for traversal, puzzles and fighting enemies and it's an incredible move to link together to create interesting movement cycles, unfortunately it's not as creative as Cappy from Mario Odyssey but it does invoke similar feelings of linking movement together. All in all I absolutely adored New Super Lucky's Tale as it's one of the most fun and charming experiences I've had on the Switch, I actually ended up 100%ing the story, but I did skip some of the post game challenges as the game also features two mini game type activities of switch puzzles which I enjoyed but also a Monkey Ball gyro ball puzzle which I hated and the challenges for those in the post game were infuriating, I was happy to do them in the story to require bonus pages but I didn't have the paitences for them in the post game, I did however do the platforming challenges and the boss rushes. Seriously if you're a fan of 3D platformers I couldn't recommend this enough, admittedly it is somewhat short as I did 100% it it under 10 hours but the game is pretty cheap and it was a wonderful experience, oh shoot there is also a demo available so for the love of God at least check that out!! 

Kunai - Kunai is an ace little Metroidvania I picked up after playing the demo on the Eshop a little while ago. I said then it's basically a game where you play as an iPad like robot that uses duo Kunai's to swing around the environment like Spiderman and it's a concept that stays cool and satisfying throughout its run time. Like all Metroidvania inspired games you explore the map looking for upgrades to unlock the next area and Kunai handles this really well as I never got lost which made the pace of the game feel very brisk. Upgrades are your usual stuff like various weapons, a dash and a double jump which all improve your options in exploration as even the weapons have some neat traversal implementation for example you can upgrade your machine guns to allow you to shoot downwards and hover briefly. As Indie games in this genre go I really enjoyed Kuani but I did have a couple issues with it, mainly how the game basically changes in the end game as when you get access to the rocket launcher and the movement dash you basically have no need to use the Kuani's much which I did find disappointing, especially as you don't have to use them at all in the final boss battle. Talking of the final boss battle I have to say it's one hell of a difficulty spike as it took me bloody ages to finally get it done, I'm not sure if it was just stupidly difficult or because it took me a while to work out the Kuani's were basically useless in the fight but I found it a somewhat frustrating ending as the spike felt out of place as the rest of the game had a good challenge, especially the other bosses as while a couple were challenging they didn't require a stupid amount of attempts once you learnt the patterns, but the final boss was just a chore! The movement, graphics and general charm of the game though made it one I really enjoyed, there is a story about the end of the world but it doesn't take centre stage really as the focus is on the gameplay which I really appreciated! I think Kuani is an excellent hidden gem in the genre that I've not heard many talk about, I have to admit I enjoyed it alot more than say Ori And The Blind Forest which is one most people usually recommend. 

No Straight Roads - I remember a little bit of hype around No Straight Roads when it released but it's fair to say it didn't review well, in the following months however it seemed to gain somewhat of a cult following as it earned the label of hidden gem. These are the types of games that usually catch my eye as I think there is something special about an ambitious game that doesn't stick the landing compared to a safe game that does everything well, for that reason I do tend to enjoy a lot of games with reviews in the 6-7/10 ranking as I think it's just a more interesting area of gaming compared to the 9-10/10 "perfect games". So where do I end up? Is No Straight Roads a hidden gem or is it just a bad game? Unfortunately I do fall somewhere in the middle as personally I don't think the game is good at all as the gameplay is trash, however the game is held up by an incredible art style, character and charm that almost made it infectious! I really didn't enjoy the gameplay yet I did want to keep playing just to experience everything else the game had on offer, granted this was massively aided by the fact I knew it was a short game. I suppose I best actually get into what the game is about, so in No Straight Roads you can play as either MayDay (heavy attacks) or Zuke (light/combo attacker) who are two up and coming musicians competing in a battle of the bands type competition, basically the City is run on power created by music so the duo perform as the band Bunkbed Junction hoping to be signed to the energy production label. Unfortunately however Bunkbed Junction are a Rock band which is out of favour with the powers that be as they believe EDM is the future so they're unsuccessful in their audition which leads to Mayday causing a scene, resulting in rock music being outlawed in the city and the pair going on to create a revolution due to other story events, basically the game has a weird political undertone but it's interesting enough. As for gameplay your aim is to take over the 5 districts which have their own leading artist and style, for example the first one is a DJ while a later one has more of a pop star persona. The gameplay loop is you play a rhythm based beat em up platforming level up until you reach the boss then you'll have a boss battle and this is repeated until the end game. Personally like I said before the gameplay is where I have issues with the title as the levels before the bosses are clunky, boring, repetitive and just not that enjoyable, and unfortunately I didn't find the boss battles that much better as in most I wasn't entirely sure what was even happening! The game is just so busy and colourful at times I did struggle to keep track of it all, one thing that didn't help however is my own issue as the game is meant to have somewhat of a rhythm base and as someone with no rhythm at all I did struggle with the concept, especially as the game pulls no punches! Honestly if the game didn't let you brute force it with continues/respawns at the sacrifice of your final score I doubt I'd have been able to beat the first level! Usually I'd just accept the issue here is more me than the game as I accept my skills weren't suited to it but many reviews also mentioned similar issues with the rhythm based systems and the games difficulty. I picked the game up for £5 off Amazon and I got 5 odd hours of decent fun out of it but I can't say it's a game I'd recommend, yet while writing this the thought of the stuff I enjoyed like the characters and the style gives me a warm feeling! I'd love to return to this world in a more of a 3D Platformer type game if they could do it right as I do think magic is here somewhere, even if I don't like the final product delivered. 

Slay The Spire - I returned as I hoped I would and had a fair few unsuccessful runs with the third character, however after another 5 or so hours of gameplay I was finally successful in beating a run! That means I've now unlocked the final character who I've yet to mess around with, but I'm not entirely sure I will at this point. I do really like the game but it's basically taken me 10 hours with each character at this point so I'm not sure if I want to invest another 10 hours to learn this new unlock, especially as she seems even more advanced based on some footage I've seen. I've also since learned there is a hidden fourth room with an extra final boss which is unlocked after your first win with each character, while cool the amount of luck I think I'd need to not only match the criteria to unlock the hidden path but to actually beat the final boss just isn't appealing. I will however keep the game close for now as like I said last time it's a fantastic option for something to kick back with when I'm in between games. 

Game Of The Year

Spoiler

New Releases

1. Pokémon Legends Arceus 

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

First Time Played This Year

1. New Super Lucky's Tale

2. Slay The Spire

3. Kunai 

4. Ori and The Blind Forest

5. Astral Chain 

We've finally got a top five for the first time this year and not surprisingly Biker Mice From Mars drops from the list entirely while No Straight Roads doesn't make the cut. Honestly depending on what I play this year I see only Lucky's Tale and possibly Slay The Spire making the cut come the end of the year.

Recent Pick Ups 

Comic Con Buys - As I approached the video game booth I didn't know what to expect, the one title I was half looking for was A Link To The Past on the SNES which they had, however I turned down that opportunity as they also had a big tub full of GBA/Gameboy/GBC games which I had to comb through, especially as they didn't have many for these systems last time! I spent ages going through this bin of games and these are the ones I picked out. The bloke gave me a deal as I paid £30 for the 8 games which was a steal considering the Batman game by itself was priced at £15! I never come across GBA games in the wild anymore so for around £4 a pop it would be rude not to grab them, and I easily and likely should have grabbed more. 

Gameboy/Colour/Advance Haul

The Hobbit - GBA - I'm a big fan of Middle-Earth and this is one of the last Nintendo Tolkien games I've been after, with the GameCube version of The Hobbit being one of the others. I've watched a few speedruns of the game purely due to a streamer I occasionally watch doing practice runs but I actually know very little about the game when being played in a traditional way. It's some sort of top down adventure game I look forward to playing. 

The Land Before Time Into The Mysterious Beyond - GBA - When I saw this in the bin of games I remember seeing footage of it and thinking it looked a decent enough 2D platformer. I can't say I have much attachment to the source material as I mainly grabbed it as it was cheap. 

Dinotopia The Timestone Pirates - GBA - I don't remember why but this game was on my list of GBA games I was after, I think I watched a stream on it at some point many years ago but I'm not entirely sure. To be on my list though it must of had something about it so I'll check it out soon and find out! 

Crash Bandicoot 2 N Tranced - GBA - A few years ago I played the first game in this GBA series and I really enjoyed it (more than the HD 3D collection), it's essentially just a Crash Bandicoot 2D platformer and the sequel is a title I've wanted since beating the first game. 

Lucky Luke Wanted! - GBA - One of my favourite childhood games is Lucky Luke on the GBC, I remember my mother getting it me for Easter one year and it's a game I played to death, it really is one of those games I've extreme nostalgia for. As a kid I never knew Lucky Luke was a pretty big character in many parts of Europe as I always thought he was just a character in a run and gun shooter I loved as a kid. I know very little about any other games based on the character apart from an old PlayStation game I vaguely remember, so when I saw this I HAD to have it. 

Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire - GBA - It was the cheapest of the lot and once upon a time Disney games were usually of an okay at least quality so I added it to the pile. I've never seen the film and I know nothing about the game, I'm sure I'll try it out eventually. 

Golf - Gameboy - The original Golf on the Gameboy is a title the missus insisted I picked up, personally I have no interest in actually playing the game but as Mario is on the cartridge art the missus said I needed it and at these prices it wasn't worth disagreeing about. 

Batman Chaos In Gotham - GBC - I've not spoke about it for a while but one of my collecting goals is to have every Batman/DC Nintendo game so I'm always on the look out for such titles. When I started rummaging through the bins of games it was Batman games I was hoping to find and thankfully they didn't disappoint as I found Chaos in Gotham. It appears to be another 2D side scrolling beat em up with the designs from the Animated series so I'm hyped to have it in the collection. 

That's not all as I also splurged on a couple of Switch games, I went to pick up something in particular but I spotted two games on clearance so I had to take them home with me 

The Persistence - Switch - £7 - I'd looked at this a few weeks prior before the clearance price as I remember looking at this and the game below and thinking I don't really want two first person shooters with rogue like elements in my backlog, however for the price of basically a MacDonald's it would be foolish to not take it home. The Persistence is more in the survival horror shooter genre from the brief research I did and it seemed to review decently well so I'm sure I'll get to it at some point, I think the game below will be played first though however. 

Void Bastards - Switch - £10 - When Void Bastards was revealed the title alone caught my eye which led to me watching the trailer to discover a very unique looking game. Void Bastards is a rogue like first person shooter with an awesome comic book art style that really catches the eye with some influences from Bioshock if I recall correctly. The game just looked really unique and interesting so it's been on my watch list for a while but I wasn't sure I'd ever pick it up, even if first person shooters is a genre I think the Switch is lacking in. However seeing it for £10 made it a no brainer as it was half price and when games get that cheap they typically disappear from stores then start climbing in value again. 

Guacamelee One-Two Punch Collection - Switch - £15 - The title I actually went to Game to pick up was the Guacamelee collection as it's one I've noticed starting to disappear as it's not been available for a while on any sites I use. I knew my local store had a few copies left so when I saw it was put on sale for £20 I decided to make the trip, especially as I had a £5 voucher I used for an added discount from when I purchased Hades. As for the games I've played the first in the series before on the WiiU and I really enjoyed it even if it's pretty challenging, it's basically Metroidvania with a big focus on beat em up combat with a wrestling focus, it's just a neat game. I've never played the sequel so when a physical collection was released it was on my radar but admittedly a low priority buy, but once I noticed it was getting harder to find I decided to strike while I could.  

Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition - Switch - £27 - I was so hyped for the GTA collection featuring GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas when it was announced but unfortunately it hit issue after issue! The first issue was while it's a physical release it requires a 9GB+ download which enrages me! Then to top it off the game released in a shocking state and was panned by reviewers and fans alike, those reviews actually led to me cancelling my original preorder, it's the first preorder I've cancelled in years! To say I was disappointed was an understatement but I've been following the patches and it appears the game "might" be in a decent enough state now according to some newer reviews. Obviously in such a situation I'm not going to be picking this game up at retail price but TheGameCollection discounted it to £30 and I had £3 in vouches to use so for £27 I'm rolling the dice. I'm extremely nostalgic for Vice City and San Andreas but I've never played GTA 3 so this collection is something I really wanted to experience, I just hope the patches have indeed brought it to an unacceptable level. I asked two people I know who have it on Switch and one recommend it and one said it wasn't worth it, even at the discount but we'll see what happens. £27 for three games is something I can live with, especially as that's already a saving of £13 and £17 on my original preorder. 

007 From Russia With Love - GameCube - £15 - The list keeps growing as I also pick up a title I've been after for years!! You wouldn't think a Bond game would be hard to track down but this is the first time I've came across it in the wild. I've had a saved search on eBay for as long as I can remember and it's one I kept an eye on somewhat regularly and a copy never tempted me, so when I saw this on the shelf I knew I had to have it. I'll admit I wasn't happy paying £15 but I've looked again on eBay and it seems to be going for anywhere between £15-25 now a days so it's not a bad price at all, this is also partly why I don't use eBay or online too much as there is nothing better than the thrill of a find in the wild! I actually could have bought alot more as it looks like someone traded in a decent GameCube collection as the store was stocked with multiple desirable titles which I've never seen in my local store! Starfox Adventures and Metroid Prime 1+2 were really tempting but that would have been another £60 I wasn't prepared to pay today, especially as I run into Metroid Prime somewhat frequently and rumours of a Switch port don't go away. As for the game itself I've only ever played the PSP version but I've always wanted to play the console version, especially as another of my collecting goals is to pick up the James Bond Nintendo games which I'm getting close to doing now, for consoles at least as I only need a couple now. 

What an insane haul this month! I accidentally also completed a set of sellers as I bought from TheGameCollection, Game, Cex and I purchased something (Amiibo) from the Nintendo UK Store! I think it's safe to say I won't be buying anything next month! 

Meeting Legends At Comic Con - Getting Signed Items

I went to comic con for two big reasons this year and that's because my two childhood icons were in attendance! Kevin Conroy (Batman The Animated Series - Bruce/Batman) and Charles Martinet (Super Mario & family) were there and I can't express enough how much these two voices mean to me! I grew up with these versions of Mario and Batman and it's safe to say neither series has ever left me as I'm still a massive fan of both! Weeks later I still get stupidly excited thinking not only was I in the same room as these two but I actually met them! They both also did panels which were awesome to be in on, ahh I'm giddy just thinking about it! 

Charles Martinet - All I can say is what a character, Charles Martinet completely turned me into a little kid again as he did the whole meet in character, I was a giggling mess as he went through the voices of Mario, Luigi, Wario and everyone else, it was a magical experience! I had goosebumps, it was a short but emotional and very surreal moment even the missus enjoyed. I got him to sign my copy of the Super Mario 3D All Stars collection on Switch and it's now a cherished part of my collection. It's not cheap to get to meet these people and get stuff signed but weeks later every time I speak about it I smile ear to ear, I met two of my hero's and it was worth every penny. 

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Kevin Conroy - Conroy was alot busier and this meet was more brief but the second he put on the Batman voice omg I was weak at the knees, it was so fucking cool! Conroy has voiced Batman in so many TV episodes, games and movies I've seen he is the voice of Batman to me and hearing that voice in person with my own ears was incredible! I've literally stood next to, spoke to and interacted with the voice of my childhood and adulthood, and it was amazing! He signed my Blu-ray for the Animated Series and again it's now so incredibly special to me. Ideally I want the Batman Arkham games on Switch as I'd love to get those signed to add to my signed Switch collection but that game doesn't exist yet, if it ever does and the opportunity arrises again I think I would pay to meet him once more. 

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Wow what a mammoth update!! Comic con did some heavy lifting this month but a week of isolation also gave me the perfect opportunity to work through the backlog as what else is there to do! Unfortunately I won't be able to go to this comic con next year as I have other commitments that weekend but going this year and meeting those two will stay with me forever!! 

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What I've Been Playing

May 2022

May wasn't the most exciting month as nothing was added to the collection, and due to work and life being busy I didn't get too much game time in.

Switch

Grand Theft Auto 3 HD - I've never experienced GTA 3 before which was one of the main reasons why I wanted the Trilogy when it was announced, I have history with Vice City and San Andreas but GTA3 is a title I've never played before and one of the ways I justified the purchase was I had to play this one right away. Unfortunately I think it's safe to say by not playing it I hadn't really missed out as I found the game fairly bland, mainly due to experiences with later games in the series. The game starts with a bank heist that goes wrong with you being done dirty by your partner in crime, the rest of the game is about climbing up the criminal ladder again to get revenge. While the story is pretty basic it does its job but the silent protagonist and the fact the rival that wronged you hardly features made the game feel fairly bland. I didn't think this was helped by the level design as the game just felt like one giant fetch quest where you were just an errand boy for various criminal organisations. I can see why this game was so popular on its release but I don't think it's aged particularly well as later games in the franchise take this formula and run with it. Thankfully the world of GTA while improved upon still stands out even in this first attempt at the 3D sandbox but I have to admit I found the shooting absolutely awful, and at first I had real issues with the driving controls but after a while I did settle into them, it just felt like every road was ice! The cars also couldn't take much damage which could be pretty frustrating. One thing I absolutely loved about this remaster and a change that pushed me through the title and removed grievances I remember from my youth in later games is the ability to immediately retry a level, this meant if you failed a mission due to death/arrest/failure you had an option to immediately restart it at the save point before you started it, this meant you got to keep your weapons so you didn't have to regear yourself to try again or travel to the mission from the hospital/police station. It's a small change but I do have negative memories of Vice City and San Andreas of always using cheat codes instead of wanting to rearm myself to retry levels, so I hope this feature is in the other two games in this collection. I'm glad I played it for historical reasons but I think it's a game of its time that's not aged that well, especially in comparison to the next two games in the series (I hope). Obviously that's to be expected and I do think it's usually difficult to go back to dated titles in a series if you have later experiences. It was cool seeing the start of all the features I know I'll enjoy in later titles though. All in all I beat the main story doing little of the side content within 12-15 hours and it was enjoyable enough, it just wasn't a must play experience and it's a game I doubt I'll remember playing in a few years time. While I remember I have to say I think the title ran fine throughout this playthrough as I ran into no issues worth mentioning so I'm hoping the last patch got all three games into a similar position as this is a very playable experience at this point.

Paper Mario Origami King - Another series I have no experience with is Paper Mario so I can't say I'll offer the same hot takes as the rest of the internet in regards to how it compares to "The Thousand Year Door". I've said previously in my youth I was never a fan of RPGs and it's a genre I've grown to like in adulthood but even then I'm still fairly picky about what I'll try and what I avoid. Due to this I actually own two of the older Paper Mario games and a couple of the Mario and Luigi titles which are also RPG based, but this will be my first experience of an RPG set in the Mushroom Kingdom. The story begins with Olly who is made of origami creating origami soldiers out of the inhabitants of Toad Town who are usually made of flat pieces of paper as is everyone else in the kingdom. Princess Peach and even Bowser get converted to origami as the castle is covered in streamers of various colours so it's up to Mario and Olly's origami sister Olivia to team up and save the day. One thing you'll notice instantly about this experience is the amount of dialogue is massive compared to any other Mario title I've played, this game loves to talk and thankfully it has an interesting voice as the dialogue is full of humour and personality. You'll soon discover that the end of each streamer is located in the distance so you'll travel across sea, desert and forest to find the end of the streamers to free their grip on the castle. To reach the streamer reels you'll typically encounter two dungeons filled with puzzles and boss battles and run into many problems even on the way to those destinations, one aspect of this game I did find especially frustrating is how often getting somewhere leads to something else before you can do why you were originally there. For example you'll find a dungeon so you'll need a key, you find the key then you need something else to use it, then you'll need to do something else and then finally you'll be able to return to use the key to enter the dungeon, the game loves this sort of design! While it frustrated me massively as I think it kills the pacing of the game I have to admit I did actually really enjoy most of the "filler content" in-between these sections, just the realisation of having to go do something else each time sucked, but once I started doing the something else I did enjoy it. I'm currently about half way through the game now (world 3 of 6 according to the worp pipes) but it's taking me a while to make progress as I know making any progress takes a certain amount of time so it's not something I can dip into here and there as I'm only really playing it when I know I've a couple of hours spare so I can really sink my time into it, this is helped as I think time does get away from you in this game as a couple of times I've played it longer than I expected. One aspect I've enjoyed more than I expected about this title has to be the characterisation of the NPCs as the game actually really made me care about random Toads and Bob-ombs while also adding so much to fan favourite badies like Kamak, Bowser and Bowser Junior! It was just cool seeing alot more from these characters than what you'd get out of your standard platformer as some of these characters have real depth, story archs and emotions that really help push the game forward. Unfortunately Mario doesn't have much character but that's mainly due to Olivia functioning as the guide and spirit of the game and I did find her enjoyable, even if the game is very linear with these instructions usually vocalised by her character (there is no voice acting). She's always there to tell you where to go, making sure you save and offering any hints for the puzzles which can be frustrating as at times you want her to shut up so you can figure out stuff yourself but it can be useful. To be honest I'm really not sure what age range this title is aiming for as it requires alot of reading and I did find the battle system and some of the puzzle head scratching at times yet the game gives so many options to reduce the puzzles difficulty after a couple of fails. Talking of the battle system that's one area I do agree with the internet discourse as it is an annoying feature of the game. Instead of typical RPG turn based combat in the Origami King battles take place on a circular grid where you can move the panels, enemies spawn on these panels and it's up to you to solve the puzzle to line them up in a straight line (so you can jump on them) or in a two by two formation so you can hit them with your hammer. At first I really enjoyed this tactical system but by the end of the title I really started to dislike it as it's slow, repetitive and somewhat complex which isn't helped by battles having time limits. It got to the point where I'd try to avoid as many battles as possible which fortunately is possible as the battles actually add very little to the game as you don't earn any experience points with most upgrades coming via the story, this meant most random battles were simply for coins which you get swamped with so they soon became basically pointless. However I have to say the boss battles are absolutely awesome as they flip the script and have Mario on the outside of the battle circle with the boss in the centre, you then have to manipulate a route to the centre by moving the panels which have various attacks and arrows on them which Mario will do upon contact, I found these battles challenging and exciting! The bosses themselves are all excellent characters as well, they might make brief appearances but fighting a box of crayons and a hole punch make very interesting opponents. Which brings us onto the graphics of the game and as the title reveals Paper Mario is based on arts and crafts but has a different take on it than for example the recent Yoshi titles. Alot of the environments are crafted from paper, cardboard and similar items and it just pops, the vibrant colours and atmosphere of the game are excellent and I dunno why but seeing the corrugated cardboard edges on items always gave me a kick, just the attention to detail in creating a believable paper world I guess. Controlling a 2D Mario in 3D environments did run into a few perspective issues now and then but that's me nitpicking to be honest, all in all I had no issues with the way the game ran/controlled and I enjoyed the paper asthenic alot. The game so far at least has continued to surprise me with its gameplay variety too as not only does it contain exploration and RPG combat as you'd expect but it's also got some vehicle sections, mini games, challenges and so on which help distracted from the irritating combat to keep the game fresh. The one thing I'll take away from this game however has to be the wacky humour and how basically anything can happen, for example I recently played a part where essentially you're collecting Toads to go to a disco, complete with a dance number as this game loves a good dance number as well as taking part in a theatre production! The game is just constantly keeping you on your toes, you may think "oh the desert area is a typical desert area" then bang out of nowhere it's doing something you'd never expect. All in all I'm having a blast with this game and I hope it sticks the landing, the combat is annoying and the pacing is iffy but I'm still having alot of fun with it.

Game Of The Year

Spoiler

New Releases

1. Pokémon Legends Arceus
2.
3.
4.
5.

First Time Played This Year

1. New Super Lucky's Tale
2. Slay The Spire
3. Kunai
4. Ori and The Blind Forest
5. Astral Chain

It's a toss up between Astral Chain and Grand Theft Auto 3 but I think Astral Chain just edges it, either way neither will be there come the end of the year so it makes little difference.

Recent Pick Ups

I kept to my word and added nothing to the collection this month after the massive haul in the previous month. Admittedly it wasn't due to lack of effort just nothing caught my eye this month, there are a couple of releases in June however which have my attention.

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