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Fitness

Nintendo Stats – 2022 Edition

I’ve grown to really enjoy how Nintendo compiles your play history and presents it in statistical data for the year. And apparently Steam did it this year, too!

Alas, Nintendo’s offering for 2022 was weak, with much less data than the last couple of years. What I got was a list of the 21 Switch games I played the most this year, and how many hours of each. No graphs, no in-depth breakdowns, nothing else. So, here are the top three…

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes the cake for sure, and I still have a ton of game left to play there. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s definitely going to rank high on my 2022 GOTY list. Monster Hunter Rise got second billing because the Sunbreak expansion came out this year and I spent a lot of time grinding away at that with my brother. Lastly, and just squeaking in there at the end of the year, is Pokémon Scarlet, which is even a few hours richer than what it says above, because I’ve played it a bunch since these stats were delivered. Also, the assertion that I only played Pokémon on 10 separate days cannot be right. It just can’t!

Continue reading Nintendo Stats – 2022 Edition

Desire: A Follow-up

You know that meme, “how it started/how it’s going”? I’m doing that today, but in text form!

Basically, I just want to take a quick look back at my “24 Days of Desire” feature and see how many of them have been fulfilled. It’s been almost a year now, I should have been able to get everything I wanted, right? Let’s see!

Day 1: Television – This was about me wanting to have cable, and if I recall correctly, it was specifically so I could watch the Chucky series. Well, I never got cable, because that would be stupid, and I still haven’t watched Chucky, because I don’t pirate TV shows or movies any more. Chucky is also on Paramount+, which has other things I want to watch, so I’m thinking about a subscription to that… But probably won’t bother.

Day 2: A better GPU – Ain’t got this. I’ve heard that prices are going down, but I haven’t bothered to look in many months. Besides, I only wanted it to beef up my Quest 2, so it’s right down at the bottom of my priority ladder.

Day 3: Star Wars sequels box set – I haven’t looked to see if this exists, and I don’t actually care enough to check. This was a filler episode, for sure.

Continue reading Desire: A Follow-up

Nintendo Direct 9.13.2022

Yep, it’s that time again. Time to read my knee-jerk reactions to all the games that appear in Nintendo’s newest hype commercial. Let’s-a go!

Fire Emblem Engage – I like the trailer, and it looks amazing, but I just don’t really care about Fire Emblem that much. However, there’s only room for Square-Enix TRPGs in my life.

It Takes Two – Released on every other platform last year, it was a big hit, but I just can’t be bothered. It’s a co-op game, after all, and I have no co with whom to op.

Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse: One day, I’ll get into the Fatal Frame series. I’ve always been very interested, but never made the time. Probably won’t happen in 2022, though. Fun Fact: My ex-wife who wasn’t really into video games had played more Fatal Frames than I have.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC – A new Hero character, challenge battle mode, and… swimsuits… of course. Dammit, Japan. *smh*

Continue reading Nintendo Direct 9.13.2022

24 Days of Desire (10): Abs

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today’s topic is abs. As in “visibly tight abdominal muscles that women want to rub their faces up against.” Nobody ever said that this list was going to be exclusively for material objects what must be purchased.

Okay, to be fair, I don’t really want abs so much as I want for the abs-sence of my gut. It’s not even really that much of a gut, but it has re-inflated a little bit over the last year. I’ve been trying in vain to get it back down to 2020 levels, but I’ve developed some fairly bad eating habits this year that have been proving difficult to undo.

Continue reading 24 Days of Desire (10): Abs

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: December 2020

~ Game Over ~

Paratopic (Switch) – I honestly have no idea what happened here. It’s roughly an hour of what I imagine a really low-key drug trip must be like. That said… I liked it. I played it a second time to see if there were different story paths, and you can diverge a bit to find some neat stuff, but it’s a really slow game, which made the replay very tedious.

Spec Ops: The Line (PC) – Pew-pew shootmans game wherein I recorded my playthrough. You can watch it here. (tldw: Game is v good, my recording framerate was v bad.)

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch) – I think that this is an overall better game than the original Hyrule Warriors, though it just didn’t quite click with me in the same way. I liked it, I really did, but mostly it just made me want to play Breath of the Wild again.

A Knight’s Quest (Switch) – An adventure that was clearly inspired by Zelda, but also had a little Mario thrown in for flavour. Buggy as all heck, but still playable and mostly fun. Combat made a hard transition from mindless button mashing to intensely frustrating near the end, and between that and one atrocious boss fight, I just about gave up on the game. The soundtrack is way better than it has any right to be.

The Final Fantasy Legend (GB) – Retro RPG where nothing works the way you expect it to. It’s that way by design, though, because this is a spiritual successor to FF2 and the first game in the SaGa series, known mostly for its obtuse mechanics and punishing difficulty. Still fun, once you figure out how all the systems work. Little bit too grindy, though.

~ Progress Notes ~

DOOM Eternal (PS4) – On stage 6.

Fitness Boxing 2 (Switch) – Achievement collection at 26%.

Witch Hunt (PC) – Defeated the second “boss”.

Picross S4 (Switch) – Mostly done with the regular puzzles.

Robo Recall: Unplugged (Oculus) – Half-done Chapter 2.

SINoALICE (iOS) – Mostly grinding the Xmas event.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 17: Exercise!

You know, it’s getting to that time of year when you just want to stay inside as much as possible, and holiday gatherings abound with way too much food. Well, maybe not so much the gatherings this year, but you get what I mean.

The point is, make sure that you take the time to get some exercise in, whatever shape that may take in the Year of the Lockdown. Exercising regularly is important for keeping your bod in good shape, but it’s also good for your state of mind. You might be going a little stir-crazy, stuck alone at home all the time, and stressed out by the frigid weather. Working out can definitely help to put you in a better head space and kill some of that “down time” that I’ve been hearing so much about.

Of course, you’ve probably guessed that I’m writing about exercise specifically to give myself an outlet to talk about Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise. And to that, I say, you’re absolutely correct.

Continue reading 24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 17: Exercise!

How Can One Be Bored?

Over the last month and change, people all over the world have been self-isolating and/or forced to stay in their homes to stem the tide of the coronavirus. Along with that came torrents of social media post proclaiming how bored people were now that they were confined to their homes.

To that I say… how?

I genuinely don’t understand. Last week I was on vacation, and like most, I spent almost all of that free time at home. However, I had so much going on to keep me busy that I didn’t even make time to write up any blog posts. There are dozens of other things on my to-do list that remain undone, because even when you aren’t losing a third of your day to work, there just isn’t enough time.

Continue reading How Can One Be Bored?

Top 10 Video Games of 2019

Here’s a fun piece of trivia for you: I played 99 different video games throughout 2019. If you averaged it out, that would mean I spent 3.69 days playing each one. That’s obviously inaccurate and meaningless, but it was a way to introduce the real topic: The Top 10 Video Games of 2019.

Like last year, I’m using more traditional criteria again: for a game to be given nominee status, I have to have beaten it, and it must have been released in the calendar year 2019. The fact that I have to have beaten a game to count it is harsher than most critics, but really, if I couldn’t be bothered to finish a game, would I have counted it anyway?

After whittling down the list of 99, I came out with a rather surprising 26 nominees. That’s actually a lot more than I expected. Mostly because I felt like I left a lot of big 2019 games unfinished. That said, TOP TEN, GO!

~ Honorable Mention ~
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Here’s the thing: as much as I enjoyed Iceborne, I don’t think it qualifies. It’s a 2019 release, and I beat it, but… it’s just a DLC expansion. I know that I make the rules, but I don’t know if I can allow this. I can certainly allow it an honorable mention, though!

All that aside, I think that Iceborne is really great. It adds a ton of value to Monster Hunter World, though it also has a price tag to match. There’s a whole new campaign, with tons of new monsters, and just as many new features. I already wrote a whole article about this one, so you can go and check it out. Iceborne is a little more difficult than I would like in my old age (it is called Master Rank, after all), but it was a lot of fun to dive back into MHW for a while.

~ 10 ~
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

You know it’s a weird year when a Zelda game shows up on the bottom of my top ten list. There’s a reason for that, though. This Link’s Awakening is more or less a carbon copy of the Game Boy original. Yes, it looks and sounds different, but it’s almost exactly the same otherwise. And that’s fine, because the original is my personal favourite Zelda of all time, but I still would have liked to see a little more new/changed content.

Let’s put that behind us and talk about why I like this game. Link’s Awakening is my favourite Zelda for a reason: It’s got one of my favourite worlds ever. For my money, Koholint has more personality per square inch than any other Zelda. No part of the island seems sparse or boring, everything has a place and a purpose. The dungeons are probably my favourite set in the series as well; they’re all complex but very rarely tedious. Plus, it’s just completely weird, and I love that. Oh, and I guess the remade graphics and music are pretty astounding, too.

~ 9 ~
Pokémon Shield

True story: Pokémon Shield was under contention to get on this list for a long time. It was actually going to be number ten, and might have been ousted by Iceborne if I hadn’t relegated that to an honorable mention. But then I remembered that Max Raid Battles exist and suddenly it became a lot easier to place those last few titles.

Pokémon Shield (and Sword) are… They’re very standard Pokémon games. While they’re the first HD games in the series, they still feel a lot like handheld games. There’s the Wild Area, which is completely open and cool (and super laggy when you’re online), but the rest of the game is very constrained and limited. However, the new Pokémon introduced for generation VIII are generally really great, and the previously mentioned Max Raid Battles are super fun. Pokémon’s campaigns are usually very easy, and I’m not hardcore enough to stand a chance in mulitplayer battles, but Max Raid Battles split the difference by letting you and three other trainers (CPU or human) fight it out against a single super-powered Pokémon. It’s literally the only time in any Pokémon game that I go into a battle not knowing whether I will win or lose and I am so thankful for that. Sadly, I’m sure it’s a one-time feature and will go away next generation, so I’m going to really enjoy it while I can!

~ 8 ~
Yoshi’s Crafted World

There has been some contention online regarding where Yoshi’s Crafted World places in the ranks of Yoshi games. Lots of people seem to think it’s better than Yoshi’s Woolly World. I think those people are absolutely nuts because everything about Woolly World is excellent. But Crafted World is still a very good Yoshi adventure.

In a very general sense, Yoshi’s Crafted World is exactly what you’d expect from Yoshi: walk around, eat up enemies, chuck eggs at things, and find secrets. Only this game has a really creative and well-executed theme of being made entirely of crafts. Everything looks like it was assembled out of household objects and stationery. Not only is the aesthetic unique and enjoyable, but it also allowed for the designers to come up with all sorts of fun new stage gimmicks. Even the boss battles are all designed around what kind of material each boss is made out of. There are a few things that hold this game back from excellence (bad soundtrack, tedious collectibles), but I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent with it.

~ 7 ~
Dragon Quest Builders 2

When I played the first Dragon Quest Builders, I didn’t really feel it right away, and let it sit for like two years before picking it up again and beating it. When I played Dragon Quest Builders 2, I basically did nothing else with my free time between the start and end of it.

DQB2 is an incredible game. If you need a quick primer, it’s a Dragon Quest game that plays sort of like Minecraft instead of your typical JRPG. The first game is great as well, but DQB2 improves on it in basically every way and stands as a shining beacon of pure delight. What I really appreciated about it is that it does something that few games do: it makes NPCs feel important. For one, DQB2 gives you an AI partner who will help you collect materials and slay monsters. More importantly, building up the towns on the game’s islands will increase their populations. The people who move in will then have needs and wants of their own, but many of them will also contribute to the town by cooking, crafting, or fighting off invading monsters. Each town also has a major construction project central to the plot, and ultimately all the townspeople will rally together to help build it under your guidance. It’s really satisfying and provides a unique sense of community that you don’t typically get from single-player games. Oh and also it’s just really fun to be able to explore a Dragon Quest world in a more adventurey style. More, please.

~ 6 ~
Luigi’s Mansion 3

At their core, the Luigi’s Mansion games are very simple. Go here, suck up ghosts, go to next place, suck up ghosts, repeat until win. But what really makes them shine are all the little details in between those basic steps. And Luigi’s Mansion 3 absolutley nails those moments.

The first thing you’ll see when booting up Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a surprisingly long cutscene of Lugi, Polterpup, and all the rest going to a grand fancy hotel. Please note that the visuals are incredible; it is significantly better looking than any video game in the Mario franchise has a right to be. It’s also important to note that the characters are absolutely bursting with personality, everyone has these fun little character quirks and they’re all so entertainingly cartoony. There is a constant stream of gags that are consistently funny. All of these things persist for the duration of the game, and make it probably the single most charming video game I’ve played all year. That’s not to discount the gameplay by any means. While the ghost-to-ghost suck-’em-up business is repetitive and does get a little tiresome after a while, the boss ghosts were refreshingly unique, and I was constantly engaged by all the little environmental puzzles scattered throughout. Spoiler: the real reward for finding all the collectibles is the sense of satisfaction you get for figuring out how to collect them all.

~ 5 ~
Blaster Master Zero 2

Blaster Master Zero was one of my favourite early Switch games, a classic 80’s title that was thoroughly refined to make it more dynamic and playable. So when I heard that IntiCreates was making a sequel, I almost literally jumped out of my chair in joy.

You have to wonder, what could they do to make Blaster Master Zero better? Well, this sequel is really more of an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” kind of thing. The game is generally the same as before: a side-scrolling exploration platformer with top-down shooter levels mixed in for flavour. The one major refinement is the world map: now you don’t have to truck through every single area when you need to backtrack; you just choose a planet from a menu and you’re off! And that’s the other thing that really stood out to me: around each world are tiny little plantetoids that each host their own challenge stage. They’re all quite short, but tend to be tougher than anything on the main path, and it’s a lot of fun to figure out and conquer them all. Otherwise, BMZ2 is basically more of the same, and in that case, that’s a very good thing. Except for the waifu robot and plant woman with literal giant melons. Could’ve done without those.

~ 4 ~
Tetris 99

Everything on the list up until this point has been pretty well on-brand for me. They’ve literally all been sequels (and a remake) in long-running franchises that I’ve been crazy about forever. So here’s something a little different. A little.

Sure, you could call Tetris 99 a sequel. But that’s not the point. The point is that someone (Nintendo) finally made a Tetris game that has truly made me excited about Tetris. And how did they do it? By turning it into a battle royale game, where 99 players square off to see who will be the last one standing. It’s unexpectedly brilliant, and while I don’t put aside nearly enough time for it, I always have an absolute blast when I do sit down with it for a while. It’s got that insidious “just one more round” thing going on, where I always want to play another match because maybe this will be the time where I finally win. Did I mention it’s free to play? Sure, you can pay some money for a couple extra modes, but all the important content is free (though you do need a Switch Online subscription), so there’s really no reason not to play. All that is to say, while Tetris 99 is the game I’ve spent the least time with on this list, it’s made an absolutely huge impression on me and I’ll definitely keep going back to it until the servers die.

~ 3 ~
Fitness Boxing

If Tetris 99 is the game I spent the least time with, maybe I ought to talk a little about the game I spent the most time with in 2019. Well… is it really even a game? Certainly it has some game-like elements, but really it’s more of an exercise app. And yet here is, at Number 3.

There’s no doubt that this is the real wildcard entry on this list. It is in fact an exercise program of sorts, and more often than not I dreaded having to boot it up. But hear me out, there’s one thing about it that really makes it stand out from the rest: it worked for me. Fitness Boxing has been out for over a year now, and I am still using it regularly. Less now than I did through most of 2019 because reasons, but it still gets loaded up once or twice a week. Maybe it has more to do with my mindset for exercise being better than ever before, but I’m giving the software at least partial credit here. I still hate exercising, but I’ve found that (shadow)boxing is really my thing. It’s the exercise I hate least, and I find it engaging enough to keep me coming back consistently. I may not always be having fun while using the software, but Fitness Boxing has definitely helped me become happier on the whole by playing a huge role in improving my physical fitness level. Though it could really use a DLC pack to help freshen it up a bit.

~ 2 ~
Shovel Knight: King of Cards

Looking back, I am completely puzzled by the fact that I didn’t include Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on my Top 7 list for 2017. It is, to this day, my favourite chapter in the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove. Perhaps I should have made that a Top 8 list?

So that was a weird tangent. I’m talking about the Shovel Knight campaign that came out in 2019, here. King of Cards! It’s really good! In fact, it’s excellent! While it doesn’t quite satisfy the same way that Specter of Torment did, it’s definitely my second-favourite, which I suppose makes it perfect to be slotted in at spot #2 on this list. To justify this placement: let’s talk gameplay. King of Cards is a 2D platformer like all the other Shovel Knights, but he’s got a unique tackle-and-bounce move that makes it feel appreciably different. It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around a first, but once you get going, it’s makes for silky-smooth gameplay that I’m sure would be an amazing speedrun to watch (spoiler: it is). Couple that with dozens of micro-stages, each with their own gimmick to test King Knight’s abilities, and you’ve got an absolute master class in game design. To top it all off, this is by a wide margin the most entertaining story in the Shovel Knight oeuvre. It’s legitimately funny, and I couldn’t help being totally charmed by King Knight, despite the fact that he is an insufferable dick.

~ 1 ~
Resident Evil 2 (2019)

And so, on this list that is almost entirely made up of sequels and remakes… Of course we have a remake of a sequel at the tip-top.

I know that you’re not going to believe it, but the honest truth is that I just don’t get especially excited about very many video game releases any more. But RE2 Remake was an exception. A huge exception. I was so very eager to get my hands on this game, and I was so very relieved when it turned out to be pretty much all I could have wanted. This is more a re-imagining than a straight-up remake, changing a few story beats here and there, messing with the locations of items and the way you progress. The gameplay also changed dramatically, going from static camera angles to the over-the-shoulder view that RE4 pioneered. Despite that, it doesn’t feel like it’s morphed into an action game, as the zombies are still generally slow and most players are going to find that ammo isn’t quite plentiful enough. I like just about every change made to this game, which is an amazing feat since the original RE2 is my sentimental favourite in the series. Capcom did a fantastic job reconstructing a classic video game, and I really hope that the magic works just as well when the RE3 remake releases this spring.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: December 2019

~ Game Over ~

Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon (PS4) – So, it’s really weird that the final boss battle (and then the real final boss) had absolutely no fnafare at all. You just walk in the door and then the fight begins. No cutscene, no dialogue, nothing. Very jarring considering how much “story” the rest of the game had. Also, now that the trilogy is over, I think I’m happily done with all things Spyro for the rest of my life. 85% of my enjoyment with these games was watching the scoreboards fill up with 100%s.

Trover Saves the Universe (Switch) – I think I would have liked this more if I had played it in VR, because then it would look really good next to all the shallow mini-games. Like when you find that exceedingly rare mobile game that’s legitimately good. But compared to the other games on my Switch? It’s merely fine. But it’s a great barometer for measuring how long you can stand an unfiltered Justin Roiland. I can go for a little over an hour and a half.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards (Switch) – What an excellent way to close out the Shovel Knight series. King Knight takes a little while to get used to, but once you figure out how he works, it’s so much fun. Couple that with some of the best and most varied stage design in the series, and you’ve got an absolute treasure. It’s just too bad that the Joustus card game is no fun at all.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: December 2019

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: October 2019

~ Game Over ~

Link’s Awakening (Switch) – A wonderful shot-for-shot remake of my favourite Zelda game. Honestly, I think I would have liked to see a little more changed/added to it, to really justify the choice to remake it. The new presentation and quality-of-life tweaks were great though, so I really shouldn’t complain. Excellent game. Had a strong urge to dive right into a replay after finishing it, but there’s so much else to do!

Transistor (Switch) – Transistor is clearly the follow-up to Bastion, and it was better than Bastion in nearly every way. The story was more complex and interesting, the characters were more than mechanical puppets, the gameplay was deeper but never overwhelming. I wasn’t a huge fan of the more sterile visual style, but I suppose that was kind of the point.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: October 2019