Nintendo Direct 6.18.2024

Honestly, I kinda lost interest in doing these Nintendo Direct play-by-plays a while ago, but this is very likely the last one where the Switch will be the main focus. In that case, I figured why not? Let’s a go!

Mario & Luigi: Brothership – Sweet! I know some people were predicting a remake, and I certainly wasn’t expecting an entirely new game! It seems to have a pretty wide variety of original characters and enemies, which is great! And the series’ art style looks wonderful in true 3D!

Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition – I’m just really not into this. It’s interesting, yes, but I’d honestly rather just play the actual games instead of the parceled-out challenges.

Fairy Tail 2 – Anime nonsense that I don’t care about.

Continue reading Nintendo Direct 6.18.2024

History of TE: 2004

Did you know that June 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Mega Man Battle Network 4? Well I did. Or at least, I had a hunch, since for whatever reason my brain has been laser-focused on memories of playing that particular game – despite the fact that I didn’t really like it.

But I’m not here to type a retrospective about MMBN4. No, sir. I already did that almost a decade ago, and haven’t revisited the game since.

Today I want to just rattle off a few interesting points about 2004. It was a big year for me! Lots happened! Firstly, there was the MMBN4 release. That was big, but not for the reason you think! See, I played the Japanese ROM for a while before the NA version came out (there was a six-month delay), and because it’s an RPG, the fact that I couldn’t read Japanese was kind of a big deal. So I started trying to tech myself katakana. It obviously didn’t really take, but I was able to learn enough to read some text in the game, and I still remember a handful of the characters to this day! I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that the best part of MMBN4 is that it made me engage in self-improvement, in some tiny way.

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Tunic Rocks, Give it a Chance!

Probably the only thing that I universally dislike about Dark Souls and the plethora of copycats that followed in its tracks is the difficulty level. And I don’t even dislike that they’re (generally) hard games, rather I have a problem with why they’re hard games. I don’t have great reaction speed, which is a problem because the combat in these games almost always revolves around nailing split-second timing to dodge enemy attacks. It gets even worse when enemies have several attacks with similar tells-most of which are only several frames long-and you have to guess which one it’s going to be and respond in kind.

It’s frustrating! I don’t like it and wish that action RPG developers would come up with a way to make the same combat system a little more player-friendly..

Oh, wait, that already exists, and it’s called The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (Or Tears of the Kingdom, if you’d prefer.)

Anyway, a very long blog post about this exact thing is why I ignored Tunic for a very long time. But then my youngest brother played it and could not stop praising it, which made me wonder if maybe I’d made the wrong call. And then Tunic was offered up as one of PS+’s free games for May 2024, so I decided to give it a spin. Nothing to lose when something’s free, right?

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Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: May 2024

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Bloody Ink (PC) – The latest from my favourite indie horror dev, Doesn’t Matter Games. It’s pretty much exactly what I was expecting, and then some! I don’t think the story really stuck the landing, but I enjoyed the ride no less.

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments (PS4) – I guess you’d say that this is a modern expression of a 1990s point-and-click adventure. Which is a good thing! Classic Holmes-style mysteries with a ton of puzzles and mini-games. Fun game, and I look forward to playing more of the series.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (PC) – Finished off a run that I started last year. Great game. Honestly not sure why it didn’t click with Teen Ryan.

Another Crab’s Treasure (PS5) – A stellar video game in all aspects.

Continue reading Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: May 2024

Crab Rave

So, I finished Another Crab’s Treasure, and it has changed my life.

When I wrote about it last week, I thought that I was nearing the end of the game. I was wrong. I was only about 2/3 of the way done, and that last third went hard. Remember how I kept bangin’ on about how Another Crab’s Treasure is such a silly, funny game? Yeah, that kinda goes away once you hit a certain event. In retrospect, there is a serious tone lurking under the surface from the very outset of the game, so it’s not complete tonal whiplash, but there’s definitely a major shift in tone for the last couple areas of the game.

Now, normally I would be slightly perturbed by a funny thing dramatically shifting into a serious thing. But what sets Another Crab’s Treasure apart is that it started to evoke feelings that I know (too) well, and I think it kind of goes without saying that that emotional resonance made it really work for me. Being able to relate to all the complex feelings that Kril has to sort through along his journey was sobering, to some degree. I’ve been to those dark places. Some of them I still see on a semi-regular basis. And while I’m sure that a wealth of fictitious characters have been written with similar arcs, this one hit me particularly hard.

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Feeling Crabby

2024 has been a good year for video games. Probably. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve kind of stopped paying attention to the scene and have just been playing games that interest me. And one of the things that interests me very much is crabs. You may not know this about me, but crabs are my second-favourite animal, right after turtles. I guess I have a thing about shells?

Anyway, I’ve been playing Another Crab’s Treasure very enthusiastically over the last couple of weeks. It’s an indie action/adventure game from developer Aggro Crab that plays a lot like Dark Souls and looks a lot like Spongebob Squarepants. In text, it might sound like there’s a pretty gnarly disconnect there, but it actually works out very well. To put the horse before the cart, I’ve got a very good feeling that Another Crab’s Treasure will be one of my favourite games of 2024.

It all starts with a short, fake documentary clip about how resilient and resourceful the creatures of the sea are, which then segues into the beginning of the game proper. It’s a great way to make sure that players know they’re about to be hit with very heavy-handed environmentalism themes. Not that I have any issue with that. While Another Crab’s Treasure takes every opportunity to suggest that humans dumping all their trash in the ocean is a bad thing, it’s never patronizing or condescending about it. In fact, it’s usually very good about using humour to help make its point.

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Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: April 2024

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Princess Peach: Showtime! (Switch) – Cleared the game, enjoyed it. I can’t see it landing on anyone’s GOTY list, but it was cute and fun, and I certainly don’t regret putting in the time and effort to hit the 100% clear (though the post-game content is another story entirely).

Final Fantasy XVI (PS5) – Booted it up for the last(?) time to play The Rising Tide DLC. It was good! More substantial than Fallen Echoes, but the boss fight wasn’t quite as awesome. I like the new challenge mode too, though I’m not nearly good enough at the game to earn a leaderboard-worthy score.

There’s Something in the Ice (PC) – Indie horror. Vibe is a little like a cross between The Thing and Amnesia: The Bunker, but the gameplay is very much a basic walking simulator. Sound design and atmosphere were really good, but it doesn’t really stand out in its genre otherwise.

Continue reading Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: April 2024