Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2020

~ Game Over ~

KIDS (PC) – Art (non-)game. Weirdly satisfying, except when it becomes tedious. You can only appreciate milking people through a digestive tract so many times. But it’s only like 20 minutes long, so.

LOVE (PC) – Retro platformer built for speedruns. Tense and occasionally frustrating, but not quite masocore. Interesting in that it allows you to plop down a respawn point just about anywhere. Very fun, but super short and of limited value if you’re not planning to learn and master it.

A Hat in Time (Switch) – Achieved 100% by clearing the DLC chapters. Seal the Deal was fun and super cute, but tragically short. I was less enthused by Nyakuza Metro’s massive, confusing, maze of a world. Didn’t play past the first two Death Wish challenges because ehhhhh I only have so much time, and I don’t really want harder remixes of all the things I’ve already done.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2020

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: January 2020

Remember back in the day when I used to write a little blurb for each of these? I don’t think it’s going to be a regular thing again, but… Man, I played a large variety of video games in January. Considering that AGDQ sapped up a lot of my free time and school is eating away the rest of it… You start to realize that most of these games are either very short, or carried over from last month.

~ Game Over ~

Mega Man X (SNES) – The opening video game of the year, as per usual. Short writeup here.

Mega Man Legends (PS1) – I really do adore this game. Sadly, every time I go back to replay it, the… unfortunate control scheme gets harder and harder to re-acclimatize to. And the stupid racing game is impossible but I want the Shining Laser. Wah wah wah gamer tears.

Army Men Air Attack (PS1) – I kind of wish I’d played this back when it was new, as I think I would have really enjoyed it then. Looking at it now, it’s an amusing little curio almost certainly lost to time. What I found most odd about it is that there’s a massive difficulty spike right in the middle of the game. If you can tough it through missions six to nine, it’s smooth sailing to the end. Also the co-pilot voice clips are super repetitive and annoying.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: January 2020

Ryan’s Big Weekend Adventure!

You know what I didn’t do over last weekend? Study enough.

“Well duh” you all say.

What I did do, however, was all sorts of other things. I want to write about them briefly.

Saturday I got a haircut. There’s a story there, but it’s probably fairly embarrassing for a party who is not me, which makes me feel like I ought not to tell it. So I won’t. Sorry for the tease.

After breakfast I did some coursework for a while. Good old responsible me. I took a break after a couple hours to go visit with my grandparents. They gave me several tins of baking and couple jars of soup. Nice! There’s another mildly embarrassing story here that I don’t think I’m entitled to tell to the internet at large. Aren’t you upset that I’ve gotten so considerate in my old age?

I went back home to do some more book learning, which lasted about an hour. All in all, I made it through about a quarter of the homework questions assigned in a cumulative three hours. That’s not great. I hate school and cannot wait for it to be done forever.

Over the course of the weekend, I “snuck in” just enough video games time to finish playing the Squaresoft PS1 classic, Threads of Fate. You’ve probably never heard of this game, because Squaresoft put out like a billion RPGs on the PS1, so a few of them had to fall through the cracks.

Threads of Fate is an alright game. It’s a dual-protagonist game, and the plot isn’t the most creative, but it’s fun. One character has you working towards world domination, while the other is searching for a way to revive his friend. The characters are mostly archetypes, but they have big personalities and a really good script, so I ended up liking most of them quite a lot. Also the soundtrack is darn good, and the graphics are top-tier for a 3D game on the original Playstation.

However! The gameplay is… questionable. The controls, physics, and hit detection are all just a little bit off. This makes any precision-platforming sections much harder (and frustrating) than they ought to be. Combat is mostly a non-issue, but several bosses are stupidly hard until you figure out the right rhythm to beating them. Overall, it’s not a game that needs a remaster so much as a tune-up.

I also frittered away a whole three hours on Pokémon GO on Sunday, as it was January’s Community Day. Got a whole stable full of shiny Piplups, and that’s really about all. While I was out, I also got to try all of the fancy new “dream donuts” that Tim Horton’s is currently selling. I’ll type up a full thing about them (probably), but the TLDR is that they were not so good that I was able to justify having eaten three donuts in a single sitting. Oink oink.

After all that, I ended Sunday evening the same way I always do: playing an hour of Rocksmith, then watching TV while I do my laundry. This week was devoted catching up on some AGDQ runs, while at the same time trying to fill out a little bit of my Pokédex in Pokémon Shield. I’m at 387 of 400. Almost there!

And that was my weekend. If you think I sound like an incredibly boring individual… you’re right! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

Let’s Talk About Pixel Puzzles

And by pixel puzzles, I mean off-brand Picross, of course. Because I guess Ninendo has copyrighted the Picross name? I’d never really given it any consideration before now. I always kind of assumed the puzzle style was called picross, rather than it being the brand name for Nintendo’s “nonogram” games specifically. Now I’ve done the research and know better.

Right, so my point of focus today is, strangely enough, a mobile app. At some point in the distant past (last year?), Konami released a nonogram game for smartphones called Pixel Puzzle Collection. As you may assume from the title, it’s a collection of nonogram puzzles that, when solved, form images of sprites and whatnot from classic Konami games. You’ve got elements from huge franchises like Gradius, Castlevania, Bomberman, and Tokimeki Memorial, as well as many others. It’s a real nostalgia trip, and I appreciate the theme. I always like it when these games have a binding theme, or at least themed sets of puzzles.

Something very important to note here, is that this is one of the least greasy mobile games I’ve ever played. It’s completely free-to-play and never once will ask you for money. That’s great! The catch is that after every puzzle, they show you an ad. But it’s just an image, and you can dismiss it right away, none of this unskippable 15-second video crap that other apps love to use. The ads in Pixel Puzzle Collection are all for other Konami apps anyway, so they even sort of make sense in the context of the game. It’s the least intrusive in-app advertising I’ve ever experienced.

There are two classifications of puzzles in Pixel Puzzle Collection. The regular puzzles range from 5×5 to 15×15 grids, and are generally pretty easy to complete. They mostly reveal sprites ripped directly from Konami’s classic games, and some are parts of bigger images made of 4 panels. The other kind of puzzle is the “boss” puzzle. These are always 15×15 grids, and are typically require a little more thought. The other thing about these ones is that they’re where the free-to-play timer comes in: there’s a three-hour cooldown timer to sit through after each one you complete. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise here, as it kept me from just burning through the entire game in a week. It really made it -and excuse my crudeness- the perfect pooping game.

You’d be hard-pressed to actually finish this game in a week though, as there are a whopping 500 puzzles to solve. I don’t know what percentage of that is stuck behind the Boss Timer, but it’s probably at least 25%. It took me months to finally work my way to 100% completion. And then… it turns out that was just normal mode. WHAAAA?

Yeah, once you finish all the puzzles, you get to play in Expert mode, where you aren’t allowed to use Xs to cross off squares that definitely aren’t supposed to be filled in. (Aside: I’m just going to keep assuming you know how picross is played.) It’s not the worst problem, as there’s a feature that auto-Xs all empty squares in a row or column when you meet the number requirements on the side. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you filled them in correctly, but it’s still super helpful to have, as completing a 15×15 puzzle with no Xs would be a pain. I initially toyed around with the idea of not bothering with Expert mode, but it turns out that there are a handful of new puzzles exclusive to Expert, so off I went on my quest to 200%! It’s not like I could just cherry-pick the new ones either, because puzzles are handed out in a completely random order.

Oh and also the Boss puzzles are all free in Expert mode. No waiting three hours between them any more!

To touch on the one thing I strongly dislike about Pixel Puzzle Collection, which applies to literally every smartphone-based nonogram game: I hate playing picross on a touchscreen. The 5×5 and 10×10 puzzles aren’t so bad because they have nice, big squares to accommodate my sausage fingers. when you get to those 15x15s though, the squares are tiny and I would have gotten intensely frustrated if there hadn’t been a life-saving undo button.

At the end of the day, I really liked everything about Pixel Puzzle Collection besides its choice of platform. Finger-style touch controls just don’t work well for me, and honestly I don’t even like playing Nintendo’s Picross games with stylus touch controls. My point being that I would happily pay money to play this again if Konami released it on Switch or whatever. Touch control aside, it’s an excellent nonogram game, easily one of the best I’ve played. The fact that it’s 100% free and is also a mobile app that isn’t engineered to soak as much money as possible out of players is just the cherry on top. This one definitely put my respect for Konami up a few notches.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: September 2019

~ Game Over ~

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster (PS4) – I’ve never really played FFX before, and I have to say… This is an excellent game! The story was fun and surprisingly emotional, and the battle system is really something else. Definitely a top tier FF. At least if you’re playing casually or maybe even speedrunning. The most important thing I took away from it is that going for 100% or really any of the post-game is a fool’s errand and nobody should ever bother trying. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time grinding in any other single video game. Post-game content is not fun here.

Bastion (Switch) – This is another game that has a very good reputation but I’d never played it until now. I am less excited about this one. Not that it isn’t good… I just think I would have got more out of it back in 2011 before indie games got real big. I liked the unique storytelling, though the gameplay felt a little hollow and I can’t really articulate why.

Spyro the Dragon (PS4) – I guess September is like “discover beloved older games month” for me. And I’ve listed them here in descending order of how much I like them. Honestly I don’t really get why people dig Spyro so much. It’s fine, I guess. But really you mostly just walk forward and gather gems and dragons. It’s like if Super Mario 64’s power stars were just sitting out for you to collect at your leisure. Also the bosses are all really terrible. I really grew to enjoy the flight levels, at least. And it’s a spectacularly pretty remake.

~ Progress Notes ~

Pixel Puzzle Collection (iOS) – 90.2%

Super Kirby Clash (Switch) – Levelled to 59

Astral Chain (Switch) – Currently on File 07

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (Switch) – Up to the Acidic Glavenus quest

Yoshi’s Island (SNES) – World 2-8

Pic-A-Pix Pieces (Switch) – 14/20 panels complete

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (PS4) – About halfway done, as the gems fly.

Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch) – Cleared Level 8

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2019

~ Game Over ~

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch) – I have now technically finished the multiplayer component, having defeated the final boss and removed my HR limit. But of course there are still tons of quests left to complete, and even a handful of monsters I haven’t fought yet. How much more will I actually play? Probably at least once a week or so until the current season of The Bachelorette wraps up, at least, since that’s the night when my brother and I get together to play.

Detroit: Become Human (PS4) – While I didn’t really like the previous QuanticDream games (Heavy Rain was legit bad and Beyond: Two Souls just felt like work), Detroit was a lot more enjoyable for me. I’m still not into the QTE gameplay style and the plot was just a mountain of tropes, but the characters were interesting and I enjoyed their stories. Also, it achieved that rare feat of making me feel like my decisions actually meant something. It may just be because there are flowcharts of all the possible story branches for each chapter, but I’ll give Detroit the point for it all the same.

Detroit: Become Human (PS4) – A second run was conducted… for science!! That is to say, I played again and made a lot of really bad decisions in an effort to make life terrible (or end) for as many characters as possible. And it was BRUTAL.

Picross S3 (Switch) – I completed all of Mega Picross mode. Which makes it the first Picross S title that I’ve actually finished to 100%. Neat! I’d feel more compelled to do these Mega puzzles if they were unique, instead of being slightly harder tweaks of the regular puzzles.

Kid Tripp (Switch) – Picked it up on sale for 80 cents, on a recommendation from Talk Nintendo Podcast. Even for less than a dollar, it didn’t really jive with me. It’s a side-scrolling runner, which is fine, but it’s also quite hard and has limited lives for some reason.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Switch) – I was really getting into this, and then about an hour away from beating it, I got Dragon Quest Builders 2, and all that momentum vanished. But then I picked it back up just before the end of the month and powered through. It’s a very good game! Though also very rough around the edges. I’d love to play it through again and try out some different powers (I found some I liked and just stuck with them), but I just can’t see myself being able to make time for it anytime soon.

~ Progress Notes ~

Pixel Puzzle Collection (iOS) – 59.6% completion rate

Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch) – Cleared Skelkatraz

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch) – About 50% castle built in story mode

Secret of Mana (Switch) – Next destination: Pandora Ruins.

Fishing Star! World Tour (Switch) – At the boss of “world 3”

Pic-A-Pix Pieces (Switch) – About halfway done? I think?

Dr. Mario World (iOS) – Haven’t even finished the tutorial, tbh

Pokémon GO (iOS) – Shoutouts to the new Team GO Rocket mechanic.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) – Solved a Jesus-based light puzzle

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: April 2019

~ Game Over ~

Pokémon Ultra Sun (3DS) – I took to playing this on the very long bus rides home from school, and finally finished up the main story. Let me tell you: limiting your team to poison-types makes the game much harder than it needs to be. There’s a bunch of post-game content to play, but I may just put a bow on it here, as I wasn’t even really feeling the main game to begin with.

Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch) – While it seems like everyone I listen to on the internet thinks this is the best Yoshi game since the original Yoshi’s Island, I still like Woolly World more. You can’t have Yoshi wear a Mega Man costume in Crafted World. But Crafted World is great! I played it far longer than necessary, breaking my rule of not attempting to go for a 100% clear in a Yoshi game. It’s just so much more possible than ever before.

Mega Man 2 (NES) – Played through during a retro gaming get-together evening. My reputation was tarnished by requiring three continues, but I did make it past the disappearing blocks in Heat Man’s stage without Item-2 for the first time in… forever? Also I had no idea that using a continue takes away any E-Tanks you’ve collected, which is super lame. Just another argument for why Mega Man 3 is a better game.

Universal Paperclips (iOS) – I was looking for recommendations on good idle/clicker games, and this is the first one I went for. Bad news first: it will not serve as a good way to while away a few minutes here and there, as I finished it in a day. Good news: It is in fact a very cool clicker/idle game. It changes up a lot as you play, and makes you think about managing your resources in different ways all throughout. I also like that it does have a definitive ending, it just came a little too soon (that’s what she said).

Labo VR (Switch) – I purchased the basic kit, which comes with the VR Goggles and Blaster. There’s only one real game there, and then a couple dozen neat little toys. The Blaster game is a fun rail shooter and it takes some applied effort to score all the gold medals. The real draw of Labo VR, however, was using it to play Breath of the Wild in VR (which is really just 3D mode).

~Progress Notes~

Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch) – Cleared Vah Rudania.

METAGAL (Switch) – Cleared the 4 initial stages.

Final Fantasy IX (PS1) – Up to the start of Disc 3.

Mechstermination Force (Switch) – 7 mechs down out of ???

Resident Evil 4 (PS4) – Up to Chapter 2.

Picross S3 (Switch) – I’ve done maybe half the puzzles?

BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! (Switch) – Completed the first 5 worlds.

TE’s Top Ten Video Games of 2018

The unthinkable has happened: I’m changing the format of my Game of the Year feature.

In previous years, I’ve always used the caveat “best games I beat in 20XX” as a way to extend my list beyond games released that calendar year. But in 2018, I actually played enough Very Good Video Games released in 2018 that I could make up a top ten (and more!) without extending beyond that time frame. This is a very poor paragraph, I think.

The point is, there were a lot of great games released in 2018, and it took me for-gosh-darned-ever to come up with this list. In fact, I had so much trouble even picking a top ten that I’ve decided not to number them. They’re all spectacular in one way or another, and it may be important to notice that six of them are 2D platformers. Just saying.

HOWEVER! I have maintained the rule that I must have beaten the game for it to qualify. Rest assured that Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI would absolutely be included if I were to relax that particular rule.

That said, I now present to you, in no particular order, TE’s Top Ten Video Games of 2018!

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Torna: The Golden Country

I didn’t include Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on my 2017 GOTY list because I didn’t finish it in that year. I figured it would be a shoe-in for a spot on the 2018 list. But then I changed the format, and you’ll never know how much I enjoyed playing that game (Spoiler: LOTS).

Its expansion, however, did come out in 2018, and boy howdy did I ever play the heck out of it! Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country is a prequel to the main game, set 500 (500?) years prior. This is a stand-alone adventure that takes everything that was great about XC2 and somehow makes it even better. The story is a little more grounded and personal, finishing with a spectacular finale and the longest ending of anything ever. The combat has been tweaked to be a little more engaging and streamlined. The sidequest log has been reimagined as a fun “fan club” of sorts for your party, to make doing those (requisite) sidequests feel more important. Most importantly, it’s a JRPG that takes only about 25 hours to finish, and that’s if you wring every little bit of gameplay out of it like I did. Fantastic game, and I’d love to see Monolith Soft do another smaller game like this.

The Messenger

What more can I say about The Messenger that I haven’t already? I typed up a massive review right after finishing it because I was smitten, and all those feelings are still applicable.

For the TLDR crowd, The Messenger is a retraux 2D platformer that takes inspiration from a plethora of classic games and mashes them all together in a neat, little package. While it starts out as a linear, level-based game where you play a ninja on a world-saving mission, eventually it opens up and allows you to freely explore the entire game world. I greatly enjoy the formula here, but what really makes it click is how tight the controls are. I can’t get over just how perfect it feels to play, and how you eventually get to feel like you’re actually a ninja – bouncing, grappling, and gliding across stages with style and ease. The Messenger is perfectly catered to my tastes in video games, and has earned a solid place as one of my favourite games of all time. Also the soundtrack is mmmmmmmmmm good.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Part of my rationale for not numbering my list this year is because no matter what else happened, Super Smash Bros Ultimate would land at number one. And even though it was largely because of my personal bias, I felt that was unfair to all the other excellent games.

What do you want me to say? It’s Smash! And it’s better than it has ever been! Ultimate addresses pretty much all of my complaints with Smash 4: Classic Mode is (mostly) great again! There’s a huge, wonderful Adventure Mode! Snake and Wolf are back! …That was about it, actually. Ultimate has a lot of content to keep me playing Smash without the need for friends, and that’s what I wanted most. Quite frankly, it’s just nice to finally have a Smash on Switch. It was annoying to have to go back to Wii U when I needed a fix. Plus, being able to take it on the go is nice. Playing with a single Joy-Con actually isn’t all that bad a trade-off for always being able to get in some two-player action.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

Again, this is a game that resonated so well with me that I wrote a full review immediately after finishing it. You can go ahead and follow this link to read that if you so desire, or you can just go with the paragraph below to get the gist of it

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is another retraux throwback game, but this one is a direct homage to Castlevania III specifically, rather than classic games as a whole. The gameplay is basically exactly the same as an NES ‘Vania, and you have a party of four characters that are recruited along the way, each of which has different abilities and can be swapped in at any time. I know it makes me sound like a wuss, but one of the things I like most about this game is that it isn’t excruciatingly difficult. It’s not easy by any stretch, but I was able to beat it without liberal use of cheats or savestates. So that’s something. Oh, and of course I had a great time along the way. It’s a fun, colourful action game that really emphasizes all the best things about the classic Castlevania games.

Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11 is plagued by one of those things that really makes me angry at nerds. People who call it bad because “it’s not the same as the NES games” need a firm kick in the teeth. MM11 is a solid game, and shouldn’t be condemned for having its own identity.

But that’s enough bad vibes from me. This is supposed to be an overwhelmingly positive listicle! And wouldn’t you know it, I wrote a full review for this game as well! Only… I haven’t actually gotten around to proofreading and posting it yet. Coming soon! To start rattling off some of the key points, Mega Man 11 does a great job of making the series feel a little more modern. It has a wonderful, cartoony visual style (but less cartoony than Mega Man Powered Up!), the controls are rock solid, and the new cast of robot masters are some of the best and most charismatic in the series. The new “double gear” system adds an interesting new wrinkle to otherwise familiar gameplay, and Rush’s coil and jet modes are mapped to their own buttons! Horray! It’s not the best Mega Man game of all time or anything, but I had a darn good time playing it, and look forward to the inevitable release of MM12.


Spider-Man has always been my favourite super hero. There’s never been any competiton. Despite that, I’ve skipped pretty much every Spider-Man video game since… Spider-Man 2 on GameCube, I guess? Seems like they’ve all been varying levels of Bad since then.

That all changed in 2018. The newest Spider-Man game, simply titled Spider-Man, was pretty much spot-on as far as what you need to do to make a good game featuring everyone’s favourite wall-crawler. You’ve probably heard people raving about how much fun it is to simply swing around New York, and they’re right! It’s great! That sense of freedom is nearly intoxicating, and 100% of the reason I never used the game’s fast-travel system. The combat is just about as good; while it can be mercilessly difficult, once you really get a handle on it, it flows so very nicely. It seems like many reviewers knocked the forced stealth missions where you have to play as Mary-Jane or Miles, but to be fair, they add some needed variety to the swing-fight-swing-fight formula. It’s also relatively brief for an open-world game; I think I clocked around 20 hours to get my platinum trophy. Excelsior!


While I can appreciate “art” games from a distance, it’s not all that often that one actually clicks with me. There has to be something very special about it, and telling a story without words or taking the player on an emotional rollercoaster are not enough.

This is where GRIS comes in. GRIS does both of those things, and it does them well. It also does some platforming, though to a much higher degree than most art games. You have vanishing platforms, a swimming level (that’s actually really good), a level where you invert gravity… all the platformer mainstays, and some other stuff too. It’s pretty fun, and there are even extra collectibles hidden behind the more intense sections. But what GRIS does best is look good. GRIS is so friggin’ pretty, and looks like no other game I’ve seen. Perhaps at a glance, it might resemble other art games, but when you truly look at the watercolor style and the way that it moves, and how fluidly the main character is animated, you lose yourself in it. I don’t know that I’ll actually play GRIS again, but I saved a bunch of screenshots on my Switch, and I often find myself looking at them just to admire how beautiful this game is.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

One of the greatest tragedies of human history is that I couldn’t include Monster Hunter World on this list of video games I really like. While it makes Monster Hunter better by adding roughly a million cool quality-of-life improvements, the overall feel didn’t quite gel with me.

And that’s why I have a Switch port of a 2016 3DS game on the list. To be honest, when I started playing Monster Hunter Generation Ultimate, I longed for all the little things that MHW did better, but as I got back into the groove, I realized that this is what I truly wanted. It’s a little more than a port though, as it adds several truckloads worth of new content to the original Monster Hunter Generations, including Valstrax, which is one of the coolest and most deadly creatures in the series. A silver dragon with jet engines on its wings. So cool! Plus, it adds the much-needed feature of playing on the TV to a previously portable-only game. MHW is excellent and I played it a ton, but I’d estimate that I put at least three times as many hours into MHGU, a game that I had technically already played for over 200 hours. …I don’t have a problem…

Kirby Star Allies

There are sometimes things in life that really don’t make sense, things that defy all logic and end up being the exact opposite of what anyone would expect them to be. But that’s a somewhat pessimistic way of looking at Kirby Star Allies.

The newest Kirby game is, by all intents and purposes, the same as the last three main series Kirby games. Oh, sure, it has a neat little helper system reminiscent of the best Kirby game of them all, but on the surface, it’s a stock-standard sequel. But there are also a ton of cool little things that make it unique. I wrote a massive article about some of them. And then you take a closer look and realize that very few games are made with such pure love for their franchise. While it’s not tagged as a special “Xtieth Anniversary” release, Kirby Star Allies is a loving celebration of Kirby’s long and prolific history. It’s a beautiful, creative game that spares no expense in being the best that it can be. Also, you get to play as Marx for the first time ever, which basically makes it my favourite game of all time.


These days, the indie games scene basically works in two genres: roguelikes, which I can’t stand, and Metroidvanias, which I have gotten a bit sick of. Not for the sake of there being too many, but rather because I find it very hard to find any that click with me like their namesakes.

And that’s where Chasm comes in. Chasm, to put it bluntly, strives to emulate the basic feel of the exploration-based Castlevania games. And I think it does a splendid job of that! Playing it often brought back fond memories of playing through the GBA ‘Vanias. But it also does more! Like how the maps are partially randomly-generated to keep replays interesting. Or the very satisfying subquest of having to save all the town’s residents to re-open their shops or get helpful rewards. I’ve already played through it twice, and think that’s saying a lot in a world where it seems like the time that I spend playing video games is continually dwindling.

Hororable Mention:

Metal Gear Solid V

Alright, so, I have to make an exception. Because Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is probably one of my favourite games of all time. It deserves a blurb. Yes, it’s very obviously unfinished and can be very rough around the edges, but I don’t think I’ve ever played something that satisfies me so completely. You are constantly unlocking new toys to play with, there are billions of options for how to handle any given situation, a grinding loop that’s weirdly addictive, and an asynchronous multiplayer mode that simultaneously drives me batty and makes me want to excel at it. Easily one of the best games that I’ve played this year, and (probably) the best game that I didn’t play in 2015.

And a bunch of runners-up :

They can’t all be winners, so here’s the list of video games that were up for consideration, but didn’t quite make the cut. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, but didn’t quite go head-over-heels for them. While they may not have been the cream of my crop, they all have something unique and special to offer, and are fully deserving of at least a little attention. Please give them a hand!

  • Into the Breach
  • Pokemon Let’s Go
  • Part Time UFO
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – Pirate Queen’s Quest
  • Wario Ware Gold
  • Agatha Knife
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Picross S2
  • Iconoclasts
  • The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories

And that’s it, the article is done! There’ll be another one next year!

Faded but not gone

Remember a couple years ago when Pokémon GO came out and the world went absolutely bonkers over it for like two months and then you never heard about it again?

Would you believe me if I told you that there are still tons of people playing it?

Yeah, maybe it’s not in the news any more, but Pokémon GO has definitely still got a very respectable player base. I’ve been back into it over the last couple months, and have even participated in the two most recent Community Day events, which is where I learned that people are still playing this weird little phone game.

Community Day is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really Community Three Hours, and the event is always based around a different Pokémon. During the event period, this Pokémon appears very frequently, has a higher chance of being shiny (a very rare palette swap), and probably gets a special move for battles. Going out on Community Days was an eye-opener, as while visiting popular spots around the city, I was shocked to see droves of people walking around poking at their phones like crazy. Some were wearing team colours, many had cords attached their phones that disappeared into their jackets or pants, and some just looked like normal people (like me). But they were all there to get their Pokémon on.

The greatest thing about these Community Days and all the people they bring is that I’ve finally been able to play in a few legendary raids. I mean, you can do them on your own, but you will never win, so it’s really a waste to even try. I’m not going to start associating with these people online through Discord groups or anything, but if they show up for four minutes and help me catch a rare thing, then sure, I’ll play nice for a bit.

Anyhow, that’s my two cents for the day. If I were more social, I’d be even more excited about all this, but that’s not me. It’s just fun to see other people enjoying a dumb thing that I also like.