What I've Been Playing
July turned out to be a mammoth month! I've played a few games in my backlog and gone on a licenced game buying spree! All in all July was an ace month but it's been busy hence the delay.
Yooka-Laylee & The Impossible Lair - Before I begin I best start off saying I was lukewarm going into Yooka-Laylee, I'll admit the trailers and gameplay footage did little for me, however I love platformers and the general hype around the game at launch led me to believe it would win me over. Unfortunately long story short the game didn't, while I wouldn't say it's a bad game it's just not really my cup of tea, it turns out my gut impression was the one I should have trusted, however I don't regret my purchase as I did have some fun with the title. In my opinion Yooka-Laylee just brings little new to the table as it cherry picks ideas and concepts from other titles like the DKC style and the Yoshi/baby Mario hit system and in most cases makes previously good systems worse. For example in a Donkey Kong game you'd have to earn Diddy as the power up, however in Yooka-Laylee you start with Laylee and it feels like the game is designed around having both characters, this meant I often found myself committing suicide just to respawn with both, and while respawns at checkpoints are quick and snappy it's just not enjoyable. The same goes with the baby Mario type live system as in this game with both characters you can take two hits, however upon taking the first hit you have a few seconds to grab Laylee to keep the "hit," yet the levels don't feel designed with this in mind as most the time she's very difficult to recapture and you'll die trying. You also have a tonic system which are equipable items which act as modifiers which can impact difficulty among other things, however if you lessen the difficulty you'll be hit with a penalty on the collectable currency, which you actually need to buy progress at certain sections, so if you use tonics you'll likely end up having to grind at some point, the first instance I had of this meant I ignored tonics completely. However that's not the only paywall as each level has 5 Twit coins just like Mario games and these coins need to be spent to open progress as well, thankfully I didn't need to grind for these as I collected enough as I went but it's just another potential time delaying hindrance. Anyway the game features 20 levels which are okay, personally I found them a tad long winded as I often started to lose interest, they're also fairly busy which at times I did find distracting. The one redeeming and awesome part of the game however is the over world as it's absolutely fantastic! The over world sees you exploring a 3D space with puzzles and characters to interact with, most of it is pretty simple (think block puzzles) but the magic part is you can use the over world to interact with the levels. Like I said the game has 20 stages, however you play them twice as the second time around you will manipulate the level via the over world, for example for one level you pour honey onto the stage so when you enter it the level is now covered in honey, this type of stuff is just brilliant. Although I did find the level design in general just a little generic and dull, while they all look fantastic graphically I just didn't find that many interesting or unique, they just ended up blending together. All in all I beat all 40 stages and I had a decent time (10+ hours), I wasn't hating it or being blown away but it was fun enough, however I then entered the stage this game is named after "The Impossible Lair". You see with each level you beat you earn a bee, this bee functions as a shield or as one hit during The Impossible Lair, so after the levels and a few secret ones you have 48 bees/hits for the final gauntlet. All I'll say is it lives up to its name as it's bloody brutal and a massive difficulty spike from the main game and unfortunately I didn't bother beating it. When I heard about this gimmick my first thought was Jesus how cheap and bullshitty must that level be to require 48 hits to beat it? Well it turns out extremely as it's just an infuriating level! If I was willing to invest the time into it and commit the level to muscle memory I'm sure I could beat it but I'm just not interested, that type of shit is Mario Maker at it's worst, I just don't have the time or patience for that and I know I'll end up hating the game and myself if I try and force it, I'd rather move on knowing I had an okay time. All I'll say is to me this game didn't justify the hype, it's okay but it's just not the type of platformer I enjoy, I've since looked up lower scored views and that's essentially where I see myself at with this title, if it wasn't made by former Rare staff I don't think it would have got half the attention it did, so for me it's a 6/10.
Pokemon Shield & Home - I decided against getting the new DLC for now as it didn't really look worth it so I'll wait until the whole package is released in the holiday season. I have however managed to get the two new legendary Pokemon already for my living dex from Pokemon Home, so at this point I only need the first part of the DLC for the new Slowbro and the three hour story, hence why I'm in no rush at all.
Victor Vran Overkill Edition - I knew going into Victor Vran that I loved the art style and atmosphere of the game but I was unsure if the game play would be for me as I've never really played a game in this style before. You play as a hunter called Victor who's out for redemption due to past sins, at first you're looking for a missing friend but the story soon develops into saving a town from a demon curse and learning of why this curse took place. My favourite aspect of the story is the game features a narrator who speaks to Vran throughout the adventure and trying to work out who and what this voice is are one of the many mysteries to solve, I have to admit the story was enjoyable but it was lifted massively by a solid voice cast and a fantastic steam punk art style, I got strong Van Helsing vibes throughout which is one of my favourite guilty pleasure films. Gameplay wise you explore dungeon to dungeon which can range from towns, buildings, hell and various other typical game dungeon areas with each area having an objective and a series of side challenges. The objectives are usually find the exit or beat the boss but the side missions or challenges are more varied like beating a certain amount of a specific enemy in a time limit or with a specific weapon. Combat features various weapons which you can change on the fly ranging from swords to guns to spells and each has three attacks, your main attack usually has no cool down but two of the three can't be over used as they have a cool down of a few seconds, however once I found a combination I was happy with I only really changed it up to comply with the side missions if needed. You also have a meter you fill to unleash a selectable demon attack which was pretty bad ass tbf. Admittedly I found the combat soon got pretty one note and repetitive but the enemies offered decent variations to keep combat somewhat fresh, but at the beginning I found the game a little underwhelming but once I unlocked more abilities and weapon types the game did grow on me. I have to say the bosses were really cool and unique though, considering the simple combat of the game the developers really managed to create some impressive and fun boss battles, however I did find the final boss a little on the bullshit side as he really was a slog. All in all I found Victor Vran a decent if unremarkable 10 hour adventure, I enjoyed myself but I don't see this game staying in the memory for long. I could squeeze out a couple more hours with the game as it came with some DLC but in truth I found the base game's play time satisfying and the perfect length, I was worried it would out stay it's welcome but it finished in that sweet spot for me, £14 for 10 hours is something I can live with for sure.
51 Worldwide Games - I'm roughly 9 hours into this tittle as finding time to play it has been tough, as I've previously stated I was only interested in this game if the missus was and as I work 4-5 nights a week trying to find a free evening isn't easy. However what I can say is I've absolutely loved the time I've had with the game so far, although I don't feel like I've played enough of it as yet to really have an opinion, especially as i think this game lives and dies on its lasting appeal. Personally the best thing about this game is how accessable it makes the included games as we've been having thrilling and intense matches in various activities even though it's the first time we've played most of the games, it's just a very charming and informative product which is alot less skill dependant compared to the likes of Mario Kart and Mario Party, granted a lot of this is likely from the fact neither of us have played many of the included games so we're learning together. Anyway I intend to do a bigger write up on this game once I've gotten through all the games included so look out for more on this game in the coming months, so far at least I think it'll see decent play though.
Jump rope Challenge - I played it for around 30 seconds to show the missus what it was, like I said in last month's update it's reason for existing is more interesting than the actual game/app.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution - In short Yu-Gi-Oh Legacy Of The Duelist is a battle simulator for the card game, due to that I'm not going to go into depth about how the card game is played but in essence that is how this title plays. The game includes story arcs for all the main anime and oh my god this game has so much bloody content! I've played the title for over 20 hours and I've only beaten the story mode for the original anime, I'm yet to touch the animes which happened after the original (6 story modes in total!). In short you play story based battles using a deck close to what the anime character used, you can then replay the duel but using the opponent's deck or even decks of your own creation, that means the first story mode is 32 duels which is doubled via the opposition version to 64! Completing the first story mode 100% is only 16.6% of the whole story mode! The presentation is decent with the story playing out in the cut out portrait style but the lack of voice acting really hinders the experience, however as a fan of the original Yu-Gi-Oh series I did get a big kick of nostalgia from these cut scenes and battles. It's for that reason I've decided to stop playing now however as I don't want to ruin later story arcs for myself as I actually want to get back into the anime. Yu-Gi-Oh has always been a game I repeatedly return to be it on the GBA, DS or even Duel Links on mobile so I know I will have the Yu-Gi-Oh bug again and I will return. The thing I love about this story mode outside of nostalgia is it forces you to learn and adapt to new decks constantly and most are decks I've never used before, I just found the constant rush of having to adapt on the fly and coming up with strategies fascinating. Obviously the game is somewhat luck based as it all depends on the luck of the draw and at times it can feel like you're drawing trash while the AI draws the nuts, however there is no better feeling than popping off from an opening hand or stalling to find a win condition then pulling it off. I love this game because I love the source material but the game has evolved a lot since I was a kid so I know the later story modes will include features I'm not familiar with like Link Summoning and I'm excited to reach them and learn how they work, however I am in that crossroads as like I said I don't want to ruin the anime story arcs for myself. With each battle you earn in game currency which can be used to buy card packs and the included cards can be used to build custom decks for the story mode, the challenge mode or online play and the included database is just massive, like I said the amount of content this game has is insane but so is the grind. I won't lie this game was a massive mistake as it's got me obsessed with Yu-Gi-Oh again which I knew could happen, I've even found myself buying cards IRL lol. Yu-Gi-Oh is just one of those things I can obsess over. All in all I'd highly recommend this title to any fans of the source material or anyone wanting to dip their toes into the card game, as this game is a lot cheaper than buying cards......Trust me I know that haha. However I do have to mention the game does crash now and again, especially during longer "chains", I likely had 5 or 6 crashes during my play time. It's frustrating but I never really found it a deal breaker.
Game Of The Year
1. Animal Crossing New Horizons
2. 51 Worldwide Games
51 Worldwide Games is the second addition to this list.
First Time Played This Year
1. Dragon Quest XIs
2. Mutant Year Zero Road To Eden
3. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution
4. Steamworld Quest Hand of Gilgamech
5. Poi! Explorers Edition
Sphinx drops off my top five with Yu-Gi-Oh jumping into the third place spot. I'd be amazed if that top three changes at this point as I love those games. Yu-Gi-Oh would have been second but MYZ was so fresh and new I can't drop it down a place.
Recent Pick Ups
51 Worldwide Games - Switch - £33 Missus purchase - I said I was waiting for a spontaneous purchase from the missus which took place a few days into the month, we didn't know how to spend the weekend of the pubs opening but we decided to stay in with some beers/wine and play this. As I've explained above it was a blast! Coincidentally this is my 51st physical Switch game!
Eragon - GBA - £1.64 - I've never watched the film or read the books connected to this licenced game, and I'm not entirely sure why it was on my GBA want list but I think PeteDorr recommended it on one of his streams. Anyway i saw it dirt cheap so I bought it and then looked into it again to find out it's a turn based RPG with an interesting looking battle system. For a licensed game and the price it actually looks pretty interesting so I look forward to trying it out.
King Kong - GBA - £2.75 - The second licenced purchase of the month is the King Kong movie tie in, you might remember I replayed the console version a few months back and as I loved it I decided to look into the handheld version. To my surprise I discovered it was a "Zelda like" which caught my attention immediately so I bought the first cheap copy on eBay. However the reviews for it aren't the best so we'll see how I get on with it.
Treasure Plant - GBA - £2.40 - Again I've never seen the film but Treasure Planet looks a nice little puzzle platformer with surprisingly good music from the clips I've seen.
Danny Phantom The Ultimate Enemy and Danny Phantom Urban Jungle - GBA - £2.50 for both - That's right another two licensed games join my Gameboy Advance collection! Similarly to Eragon and Treasure Planet I have no idea about the property these two games are tired too but I saw Urban Jungle on a "hidden gems" list and when I looked for a copy I found this auction for both games available for pennies. Urban Jungle is a side scrolling shooter while the other game is a standard platformer. Tbh they look like kids games which makes sense considering they're Nickelodeon cartoons but for £1.25 each I'll give them a whirl.
I've also placed a number of preorders for things I should get in August and a couple bits for September. I don't typically preorder anymore but these were things I needed!!
Flashback - Switch - £0.88/Free - You may remember last year I think it was I gushed about a game called "The Way Remastered". It was a game I found very unique and just loved experiencing so to cut a long story short Flashback actually inspired it, due to that this has been on my want list since then. I intended to grab the physical release as the standard and limited edition box set are reasonably priced but I'd not got around to it as yet, so when I saw this for pennies I decided to spend some gold coins and try before I buy, if I like it I'll grab the standard release, if I love it I'll grab the limited edition set and if I hate it I've lost nothing but time so win win.
Yoshi Face Mask - £1.50 - Obviously the need to wear a face mask has became a thing in recent weeks so I placed an ordered with a work colleague who was making custom ones. Obviously I was always going to go somewhat geeky and in the end I decided to go for everyone's favourite green dinosaur Yoshi! Not going to lie I love how it turned out!
That brings this update to a close, the main reason for delaying it was because I wanted to finish the Yu-Gi-Oh story mode I was on so I can go into August's update on a clean slate. I dunno what I'll be playing this month but having options is always exciting. Then again my overtime is once again exploding this month so I doubt I'll be clearing much of the backlog, at least nothing new is coming out I'm interested in any time soon so times on my side.