Sunshine Blogger Award From Kelly Of Why We Play Games + Red Metal Of Extra Life

Hello everyone! A bit over a month ago I got nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award by Kelly and Red Metal. I was thrilled to be nominated the first time but the second time threw me off a bit. Perhaps I’m too insecure about my writing but whenever a get tagged in peoples posts or mentioned it does mean a big deal for me and so for 2 Sunshine Blogger mentions in quick succession, well it was a very big deal for me. Double the love but double the questions. Hence the big delay in writing this and so I would just like to say apologies to the two of you who nominated me. Didn’t mean to respond this late but life happened and I was also experiencing a bit of a writers lull. With all that said, I’m ready to answer your questions!

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If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out both Why We Play Games and Extra Life. They’re both great and offer fantastic reads. Recently Red Metal did a Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review which was a really interesting read for me. I personally rank Galaxy 2 as one of my favourite Mario Games and maybe higher than Galaxy 1. Red Metal gives a great analysis to the game, opinions of its features but also facts that I wasn’t even aware of. It’s a brilliant read and one I suggest checking out. Kelly uploaded The Simpsons: Hit & Run Review 2 days ago which brought back a flood of memories for me. I loved this game and what I really enjoyed about Kelly’s writing is the injection of her personality through her words. ‘I was a ruthless child’ demonstrates that but I also find it hard to believe, Kelly :). That post was a nostalgia trip for me and if you’ve played that game or love The Simpsons I recommend checking it out.

Now onto the Sunshine Blogger questions and rules:

Rules

The rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions they ask you
  • Nominate 11 blogs and write them 11 question
  • List the rules and display the logo in your post and/or on your blog

I’m going to be answering Kelly’s questions first as she nominated me first.

Questions

1. What is your favourite video game series?

The Legend of Zelda. I tend to not watch game trailers or follow every news about upcoming games as I like to be surprised and it’s always more enjoyable to get hyped for a game a few weeks before release than months or years ahead. The passage of time just slows to a crawl with anticipation then. The Legend Of Zelda series, specifically the main 3D ones, are games that I can’t ignore. Even just rumours of the next game make every Nintendo Direct a tense affair for me. That and Mario games just revert me to a child like state, in waiting for the game and playing it.

2. What video game or video game series have you always wanted to try?

Kingdom Hearts. The combination of Final Fantasy and Disney got my attention but this was years after 1 and 2 came out. Whenever I looked Kingdom Hearts I always liked the premise but I had issues with what I saw. As I had missed played 1 and 2 when they came out, I think I missed the window for me. The dialogue in cutscenes I find quite difficult to listen too. In JRPG’s it’s the world and characters that need to hook me. I love the evil villains in Kingdom Hearts as it’s hilarious to me to see Maleficent talking to Pete from Goofy but the Sora dialogue and darkness chatter just puts me off. I’m also quite fussy with JRPG’s. I like turn based combat and find real time battles to be not very fun for the most part. I loved FFX but couldn’t finish FFXII for this reason. It felt like I was running around the battlefield and tapping a button now and then but having very little control of the battle. It’s why the Persona series will be my JRPG champion unless they go real time combat too. I wish I played Kingdom Hearts when it came out. It was my age range, great mix of two franchises but I missed the window of opportunity for me. Maybe one day I’ll give it a try.

3. What was your favourite childhood video game?

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This is my number 1 game and it’s going to take a lot to top it. The world, characters, the scope, music, combat, just all of it is either perfection or close enough. It’s the first game that I can recall playing that had depth to it and was telling a complex story. I know there were games before it like Final Fantasy that told a broader more in depth story but this was the first one that I personally played. The twists, the turns, the gravity of the situation, this was a changing point in gaming for me. A tone had been set, games could tell bold tales and create worlds to be engrossed in. That is in no way a dis to the games I played before it just merely that Ocarina set a standard in storytelling for me.

4.What is your favourite part about playing video games?

Good question! That honestly depends on my mood. I’m playing Sekiro currently and it’s itching that challenge itch but when I get in from work and I’m tired, I don’t dare put it on. Games are my unwind time and so I suppose that is my favourite aspect of them. And depending on how wound I am, changes which game or genre I play. When I play games that is to zone out and enjoy my time before work/chores/responsibilities etc. I get to jump into worlds for a brief time and be a samurai, a cowboy, mage, a turtle stomping plumber and many other characters. I don’t know what word best describes it but my favourite part about playing video games is that. Immersion is probably the best word. Let me know if you think of a better one for what I’m describing.

5. What is your favourite video game console?

Ahhh this is tough but I’m going with the Super Nintendo or SNES. This console is my childhood. Yes I probably spent more time with the N64 I later got but the Super Nintendo has one of the best catalogue of games hands down. And a large portion of my earliest memories are sat on the floor in front of the TV screen playing Donkey Kong Country or any of the SNES game I had. I played and played these games over and over again as I didn’t grow up in a well off household. And so a game would have to last me till my birthday or Christmas. I would also get £1 a week in spending money and I would save up for a video game. £1 a week for a £40-£50 game is a long, long, so very long time for a 6 year old. And so that would mean that the games I had, I replayed over and over again. Due to that, a large chunk of my gaming knowledge and memories are SNES games, levels, sound effects and soundtracks. The SNES gives me a lot of comforting memories and I just think in general it had some fantastic games.

6. Do you prefer single-player or multiplayer games?

Single-player without question. I honestly barely play multiplayer games any more. I want a game with a story and a fleshed out world. The main thing you get out of multiplayer games is the satisfaction of beating another player or laughter with friends. And while I don’t mind that and I will jump on Apex or Overwatch every few days, now that I’m older and have less time, I want to experience the best that gaming has to offer and for me single-player games is more focused on the experiences that I want.

7. What is one of your favourite video game sidequests?

Tricky one. I’m sure you’re sick of reading about Zelda but Majora’s Mask has a side quest where you have to protect a barn full of cows from aliens creeping across a farm. In a weird and surreal game this quest stands out as being surreal. And that says something. You have to go to the farm at 2:30am and wait until the aliens show up. They are these ball like creatures with beams of light coming out of their eyes. You have to run around the farm and shoot any alien with an arrow. You can’t let them get to close to the barn otherwise you fail. At dawn I believe, the aliens disappear and the cows are safe. It’s a fun mission but it’s the idea of an alien abduction taking place in a Zelda world, that thought just makes me smile.

8.What is your favourite video game boss?

Gaius the 3rd colossus in Shadow of the Colossus. The first two bosses are great introductions to the colossi and how to beat them but Gaius is for me, the first real fight. You can’t just jump on him like the first colossi and the 2nd one is a bit too easy to take down. This one has a puzzle element to it as you have to make Gaius hit the right spot before you can attack him. Not only that but you can’t just climb up his legs, you need to use his body against him. When you realise that you have to run up his rock-lance arm, you realise that you’re about to do some action film nonsense! You dodge his arm smash, he gets his arm stuck in the ground and then you run up the lance and as he’s pulling his arm out of the ground you make a desperate leap to the body. The figuring out of the puzzle, the act of scaling this beast and the beautiful music makes this boss for me.

9.What was the hardest video game boss you have fought?

Zelda time again! Anyone who’s played Zelda games is probably thinking ‘A Zelda boss that’s hard?’, well hard for my own stupid reasons. I told this story on a previous post here (shill shill), but Ganondorf from Ocarina of Time is my hardest boss. To cut a long story short, I was 9/10 when playing Ocarina and when I got to the Forest Temple, I got scared of the ambience but most importantly, the Wallmasters. The hand monsters that fall from the shadows on the ceiling. After lots of failed attempts to grow a pair I asked my older brother to finish the dungeon for me. Which he did, no problem at all. The problem is, is that in that temple, the final boss is a Phantom version of Ganondorf and is a precursor to the final showdown with him. In the Forest Temple battle, Navi, Link’s helper, tells Link to hit Ganondorf’s electric balls back at him. But in the final battle, she gives no clues. You were meant to take what you learnt from that fight and use it to defeat Ganondorf at the end. Well, I tried everything didn’t I except slashing back his energy balls. I banged my head against if for days and then kept coming back to it every week to see if I’d figure it out. Months went by and no joy until my brother walked in on the fight, asked me if he could have a go and because he did it in the previous boss, he effortlessly swiped the ball back at Ganondorf. And so that embarrassment is my hardest boss fight.

10. What is your favourite video game character?

Hmm, a lot to choose from but today I’m feeling in a Travis Touchdown mood. I have a thing for questionable heroes or relatable villains and Travis is by no accounts a good person. He has moments of kindness but he is generally an ego powered, reckless, dweeb with a light beam sword that he bought on eBay, who enters dozens of fights to the death just so he can be proclaimed the number 1 assassin. He’s not a good guy but he is the protagonist. Sometimes it’s nice to play a game where your character isn’t a virtuous saint or a depressed individual in a bleak world. Maybe sometimes I want to play a character similar to The Joker rather than Batman. Travis is there for when I want to do that.

11. What video game animal would you like to have as a pet? (Ex: moogle)

Oooh this is a hard choice. I’m going to go with the cats known as Felyne’s in Monster Hunter World, specifically the head chef cat. Have you seen some of the food it makes?! Imagine coming home to that every day after work. Yes please! You’d have to roll me out the front door after a few months. Not only that but I’m more of a cat person than dog and so Felyne’s are just higher intelligence cats. They’re capable of understanding me, have opposable thumbs which is very handy (ba dum tss) and have all the benefits of being a cat.

Round 1 done!

Go get yourself a cup of tea or something and let’s begin Red Metals question time:

1. In which cases would you deem the manga superior to the anime on which it’s based?

To be honest, I don’t read a lot of manga. I’ve done a few one off Junji Ito stories but I don’t think the ones I’ve read have been turned into manga form. So my answer is Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, simply because I love Jojo and the manga is great to read while I’m waiting for new episodes.

2.Which game do you feel has the best soundtrack?

Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo is my answer. I played this game so much and I genuinely think it has one of the best soundtracks around. Especially considering it was on the SNES and those things are limited with how much they can do with the sound chip. But if you were to sit me in front of DKC and put me on a random level, within a few seconds of hearing that level’s music it would all come flooding back and I’d be merrily humming along. Gangplank Galleon and Aquatic Ambiance are two standouts if anyone wants to see what I mean.

3. If you could revive a dead video games series, which one would you choose?

Ironic I’m choosing this for a dead franchise but Dead Space. I loved 1 and 2 and I didn’t really care for 3. It’s only 6 years since the last game so I don’t know if this is classed as dead or not but since EA said it under-performed and the shutdown of Visceral Games, it looks bleak for a future return of Isaac Clarke. Especially with EA doing more multiplayer focused endeavours. Dead Space the series died because EA forgot what made Dead Space in the first place. You don’t have many games with sheer horror and isolation, especially ones in space. For 3 EA added cover shooting making it more generic but also more devastating was the addition of co-op. I love co-op in games especially couch co-op but I’m never going to feel isolated when I’m playing with someone else. You can chuck as many Necromorph’s at me as you want but if I see my teammate deck a Necromorph in the face then proceed to tea bag it, I’m not going to need a change of underwear, I’m just going to be un-scared in a ‘scary’ game. Dead Space needs a return to form. Hopefully EA see RE2’s success and understands that they essentially can do the same thing quite easily with the Dead Space brand.

4. What game/film/album/book did you have a particularly difficult time adding to your collection?

I don’t have a good answer for this if I’m honest. The best I can say is the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s my favourite book and I found it hard to add to my collection because I kept giving away my copies! I was infatuated with the book and so for a few weeks after reading it I kept asking people I knew if they had read the book before. They would say no and I couldn’t handle that and so I’d give them my copy. Then I’d buy a new copy and rinse and repeat. And so it took me a while to make it a definitive addition to my bookcase.

5. Do you prefer to see a film at home or in the theatres?

Definitely at home. I barely go to the pictures unless it’s a film I’m really excited about, or a film that I don’t want to be spoiled on. I’ve had great experiences with cinemas (seeing Guardians of the Galaxy in a full screening with everyone way into it or an empty screening except me and my partner for Kubo) and awful ones (It with some teenagers in the corner of my eye going on their phones with little screen dim). For the majority though and maybe I’m unlucky but I tend to get bad experiences with loud or rude people and so I prefer home.

6. In what cases did you find yourself siding with critics over fans about a work’s quality?

When Batman V Superman came out there was a mix response from fans but most reviews said the film was sub par. I chose to listen to reviews and wait until the film came out. I wanted to believe the fans praising it but I couldn’t even finish the film. I fell asleep about an hour in which is unusual for me and since then I haven’t gone back to it.

7. In what cases did you find yourself siding with fans over critics about a work’s quality?

Avengers: Age of Ultron got generally favourable reviews when it first released. Not as high as the first Avengers but lots of praise. I didn’t go and see it in the cinema but I did try to avoid any discussions about it online. When I got around to watching it, I was really let down. The film was quip-city and any weight that any scene had was immediately ruined by a bad one liner. I know these films aren’t meant to be super serious but when the Ultron trailer was first released with the ‘No strings on me’ rendition I was super excited to have a sinister, haunting villain. That and with the phrase ‘It’s like The Empire Strikes Back for Marvel films’ had my interest piqued. But I now know to ignore that phrase whenever I see it and when I checked online after watching the film, I saw that a lot of viewers felt the same way about Age of Ultron. That was a 1 and done film for me.

8. What is the most difficult game you’ve completed?

That’s a tough one and I’m going to say two games as they both immediately came to mind. Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls. Super Meat Boy is a fantastic game but some of those later levels with the homing swathes of bones were run killers for me. With its precise platforming it took me dozens of tries on certain levels. Dark Souls because of the gameplay style change you need to implement to do well in that series. I had played Demon’s Souls and found that challenging but not in the same way that Dark Souls was for me. Dark Souls has isolated moments that set me back a good hour or two. The Capra Demon boss fight was a big brick wall for me and the infamous Anor Londo archers were a big ‘Oh we’re playing unfair now, are we?! Fine by me’ section that I still look back on with fondness and a chest full of heart palpitations.

9. Which game series have you been following for the longest amount of time?

Probably the same for a lot of people but Mario. Super Mario Bros is the first game I remember playing and since then I’ve played each main 3D Mario and most of the 2D games. Not only that but if you want to count all the tennis, kart racing, football and parties that I’ve attended then that’s a lot of Mario.

10. In what ways do you feel video game critics to be ahead of their film-loving counterparts?

Hmm, some of these questions are really making me think. I suppose the evolution of iterations. Sure films have progressed through silent films, black and white with sound, colour and so on but there are substantial gaps of time between each cinematic breakthrough and it being the norm. Every 5-8 years we have a new console generation with updated graphics, system potential and with each of these comes the potential for series to rise to the occasion or miss the mark. The transition from Super Mario World, a fully 2D game to Super Mario 64 on the next generation of consoles is a huge deal to me. That was only 6 years apart! Super Mario World is a 2D high mark for me but Super Mario 64 was a basis for how a lot of 2D games became 3D games. Then you have series like Sonic who couldn’t make that transition well. In just little over a decade (less than if you count SMB Japan release date) Super Mario Bros was released, Super Mario World came a few years after and then at the end came Super Mario 3D. There are games in between that but these 3 are the major players in that time frame. There is huge difference between each of them and to be a reviewer and to see these changes in such a short span of time, to me, is different to seeing films by the same director over time. Maybe I’m chatting nonsense but that’s how I feel. I get immersed in films but not to the same extent as games and so this plays a big factor in my perspective and my views I just stated.

11. How does hype factor into how you ultimately feel about a work?

I mentioned in Kelly’s answers but I tend to not watch trailers for games or films. For a film I’m interested in I usually check out the first trailer but I will always look at the comments, usually on Reddit, to see if it has major spoilers or just flat out gives away the whole film in condensed form. If people complain that it’s spoils a lot then I don’t watch it and I’ll start checking out magazine covers or interviews closer to the time of release. The same goes for games really and game trailers. I’ll skip most of video footage besides the initial announcement and will check in on info online and GIF’s closer to the time. I like to be in the dark about projects until closer to the time. Then if I get hyped, it makes the waiting period a lot quicker and more impactful when I do play the game or see the film.

That’s a lot of writing. Right, onto my questions:

Questions

  1. You can learn one skill from a video game character, it can be any action/talent they can perform in a game. What skill and from which character do you learn?
  2. You’ve learnt the skill but uh oh your capacity for skills is now maxed ala Pokemon moves. You have to delete a skill/talent that you have to make room for the new one. What skill/talent of yours do you discard?
  3. If you could fight one video game enemy/boss, which one would it be? You won’t feel pain or discomfort but if the enemy kills you, you just awaken as if none of it happened. If you kill the enemy, you return back to normal life too. It’s a one go fight just to experience the thrill of it.
  4. In this battle you can have one teammate from video games. These can be there for fighting support or just to hear them shouting your name from the sidelines. Who would it be?
  5. Hypothetically, let’s say you defeat this enemy. As is tradition, the enemy disappears and left there is a food item for recovery. What food from a video game/comic/cartoon has looked the most appealing to you and that you’d want to appear?
  6. You’re about to be transported into the last video game you played. You hear a voice declaring this and that you only have 1 minute to gather resources. Look around the room you’re in, what items do you grab and what game world are you visiting?
  7. If you could spend 1 evening with a video game character player a couch co-op game, which character would it be and which game?
  8. Batman appears in your room late one night and says that he needs the night off and you’re the only person he trusts. He gives you a snugly fitting batsuit and a utility belt. Then passes out on your bed. He hasn’t provided any gadgets but the utility belt has 6 pouches. What 6 things do you stuff into these pouches for Batman/Home Alone style take-downs? These have to be things you have access to and that fit in the pouches, so pocket fitting gear. It can be several of each item as long as they fit.
  9. As you’re being Batman on a rooftop, you hear screaming from below as a classic robbery takes place. A man in a striped prison outfit carrying a giant bag with a dollar sign on it is running down the street in your direction. Using your utility belt, how do you stop the criminal?
  10. You save the day! Nobody is looking, do you take a cheeky $10 and treat yourself to some ice cream? Nobody will know and Batman isn’t paying you for risking your life.
  11. You return home and Batman thanks for your work and says that he’ll have the suit back. But before he goes he asks if you want to prank phone call a hero/villain with him. He’s got a Batman mobile and so it connects to any DC or MCU hero or villain. Who do you prank and why?

I’m very excited to read the responses to these questions! As I got double nominated, I’m going combine the nomination amount. More fun that way and it lets me feel like Oprah with ‘You get a nomination! And you get a nomination!’. And so here are the chosen:

And that’s all from me so I hope you enjoyed reading my answers. Thanks again for the nominations Why We Play Games and Extra Life. I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone’s answers. Have fun!

Mother’s Day: A Look At Mums/Carers Of Video Games

Today is Mother’s day in the UK or Mum’s day as I prefer, the word mother doesn’t sound right to me, sounds very formal. To celebrate I thought I’d list a few video game characters who stood out to me as great mums in video games or filled the mum/carer role well. It was originally going to be all mums but I thought of some who deserved a mention over certain mums and so this list is a bit all over but I believe they deserve a mention. And so here are some of my favourite ‘mum’ roles in games.

Link’s Grandma (TLOZ: The Wind Waker)

This small dear breaks my heart every time I play Wind Waker. She’s so lovely and she doesn’t deserve what she goes through! Not only does she have her granddaughter kidnapped by a scary giant bird and taken away from the island, but she also has to see her grandson leave for the dangerous world to go and save her. Within 24 hours her whole life is in shambles. She has no idea if she’ll ever see her grand-kids again and all she can do on the island is wait. Wait and wait. Link and his sister, Aryll, could return in a day, a month, a year or even never. In fact, when you do return to the island, the island residents tell you that you grandma has barely been out of the house and she’s worried sick. When you go and see her she is weary and restless in her sleep. She’s not even aware you’re in the room she is so exhausted. And what she mumbles really tugs on my heartstrings:

grandma

That isn’t fair Grandma! You told me to go, don’t guilt trip me now. Thankfully though if you use a fairy in a bottle it helps give Grandma a bit of vitality and seeing Link safe reassures her that he can save Aryll and that he’ll be fine. After helping Grandma she’ll have a big batch of soup ready for whenever you return, which you can store with your empty bottles. Not only that! But Grandma will send a letter to you with all the rupees she has. She gives everything to her Grandkids and she deserves some in this post. Hell, I think she deserves to go on the next adventure with Link! Her, Link, King of Red Lions and the open seas. What wacky adventures they’ll get up to!

Mom (Pokemon Red/Blue Specifically)

‘Mum, I’m 10 years old now and that scientist round the corner just gave me this gadget and told me to go look at all these strange creatures for him. He said there’s a lot of these pocket monsters that he wants to study but for some reason he expects me to do it for him. Then he gave me a lizard with fire leaking out of its tail, it’s pretty cool. He also asked what gender I am.

‘Is this like a school expedition with a group of you or are you getting paid at least?’

‘No, just me and he hasn’t mentioned anything about paying me. I’ve got this wicked flame salamander so I figured I’d just beat up other peoples monsters and take some of their money.’

‘OK then, well I’ll phone your school and let them know you won’t be back for a while. Take care and make sure you feed that iguana.’

I know the Pokemon world is very different to ours, unfortunately. But if I tried to leave for an adventure like that, it would at least 6 hours of negotiations! How far I’m allowed to travel, which people I can and can’t talk to, promises to call home every other day etc and at least a suitcase full of clothing. The Mum in Pokemon Red/Blue basically just says that she thought this day might come and she can’t stop you from leaving. No guilt trip or tears. She knows adventure is out there and there are hundreds of goofy looking critters to cram into balls! I respect that level of not getting in the way of her son/daughter’s dreams.

Pokemon mum
Wow, don’t sound too upset mum, jeez! Can’t wait to rent out my bedroom or turn it into your arts and crafts studio.

Sarah Sisulart (Lost Odyssey)

This list is turning into Grandma’s Day but I can’t justify taking Sarah off the list. She is the carer for Cooke and Mack, her grandkids who she never met until this game. She’s an immortal being who lost her husband and upon finding out her daughter had passed, entered into a depression state, completely isolating herself from the world. On your travels as Kaim, along with Cooke, Mack and others, you end up reuniting with Sarah and upon discovering her grandkids, Sarah realises she has a new goal in life and joins the crew on their quest to save the world from evil and to look after her grandkids along the way.

Sarah.Sisulart

I spoke about Lost Odyssey in my blog post about the lack of marriage in gaming and a big reason why Sarah is here is just because the idea of going off on magical adventures with your mum, grandmum or carer is a wonderful idea to me. It sounds like great fun and a brilliant bonding experience. Sure it’s dangerous but if you’re going on a dangerous quest anyway, why not with family, as long as they are capable. Sarah is also just such a caring person to Cooke and Mack. She had never met them before, had spent the past few decades in isolation in a deep depressive state and had lost her memories like the other immortals had in Lost Odyssey. And yet, she was straight there when she realised who these children were. Fully accepting and embracing them as her grandkids, Sarah’s compassion was a much needed component in their lives and she delivers that in spades.

Isaac’s Mom (The Binding of Isaac)

Ahahahahahahah! No, she is an awful mum and an awful character in general. She deserves a mention though as a warning to not to be like her. I won’t get into it much but she basically hears voices telling her to kill her son, Isaac, and she tried to do that very thing. Kind and endearing, she is not.

Isaac mom

The Boss (Metal Gear Solid 3)

The Boss is one of those characters I don’t particularly like to discuss much. Not because I don’t think she’s a great character, as I think she is one of the greatest video game characters ever created. The problem is that she has a very important role in Metal Gear Solid 3 which when talked about, is major spoilers. I know Metal Gear Solid 3 is over a decade old but for those who haven’t played it, I highly recommend you do that or even just look up on Youtube what makes The Boss so amazing. My words won’t do it justice as Metal Gear Solid 3 is a high point to me in storytelling in gaming. The Metal Gear Solid series is over the top and cheesy at times but I think the overall theme, settings and plot of Metal Gear Solid 3 is nothing short of premium quality. For those who have played it, you probably understand why I’ve put her on this list.

the-boss-mgs3

For those that don’t know about The Boss’s significance to MGS3, I’ll just speak about her relationship with the main character, Naked Snake. The Boss is Naked Snake’s mentor. She is described as the greatest soldier. At the very start of Metal Gear Solid 3, she defects and joins the enemy side. After that, you don’t really see The Boss but The Boss is mentioned constantly in conversation with Naked Snake’s support team. Not only that, but the times when Naked Snake does see her, even if they don’t speak, you can see Snake’s adoration for her. This could be misconstrued as a lovers look but I don’t believe that is the case. He respects and admires her, Snake is who he is because of her and her teachings. I’m going to end it there because I do think it’s hard to convey the dynamic between them in a few paragraphs. MGS3 is hours long and a lot of that is exposition, cutscenes and radio chatter. I would only do it an injustice to boil it down here.

Yoshi (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island)

Okay, hear me out on this one. Yes……it’s a dinosaur. I’m aware of that. But a dinosaur deserves recognition too. There’s no Dinosaur Day! I mean there is, according to Google it’s June 1st but we don’t celebrate it. Nearly every day seems to have some random holiday or celebration assigned to it. Now, we could discuss the Yoshi species gender habits or if the Yoshi in this game is THE Yoshi as this game is a prequel to the Mario timeline we all know. But for all intents and purposes we’re going to say that this is THE Yoshi and is generally regarded as a ‘he’ although this is still up for some debate according to some websites.

At the start of the game, Yoshi’s Island, Kamek attacks a stork carrying 2 babies to their parents. Kamek swipes one but the other baby plummets to the ocean below. Luckily the baby lands on an island. More specifically, it lands on Yoshi’s back on his home island. Now, we’re talking about a dinosaur here. A friendly dinosaur but a dinosaur nevertheless. We’ve seen and controlled Yoshi and used his majestically long tongue to devour all matters of flora and fauna. There was no other creature around to see the baby land on Yoshi. No witnesses. Not only that, this baby nearly broke the poor dino’s back!

Yoshi
Walking along, minding his own business and then WHAM! Terminal velocity baby to the hump.

So rather than wolfing down this innocent child, Yoshi decides to check the blanket that the baby was wrapped up in and inside he finds a map. After going back to his base to show the other Yoshi’s his meal, I mean…..new friend, the Yoshi’s discover that Baby Mario can sense his kidnapped brother, Baby Luigi. With that knowledge, the Yoshi’s decide to reunite the two and set off on an adventure across the island. How beautifully innocent and kind is Yoshi! This is his home but even he knows the dangers that lurk across the land and yet, his sole goal becomes to care for Baby Mario, save Baby Luigi and reunite them with their parents. He has no obligation to do so but Yoshi becomes the carer and protector of Baby Mario. Whenever Baby Mario gets knocked off Yoshi and starts to bawl his eyes out, Yoshi always grabs him and secures him to the safety of his back. And instantly, Baby Mario stops crying because he feels safe and loved by this wonderful creature.

Again, the Yoshi in this game is probably THE Yoshi and male but to me he is a guardian to Baby Mario, and even to Baby Luigi if only for a brief period. He is a dinosaur and so is an ‘it’ but an ‘it’ deserving to be praised for what it did. But let me know your thoughts on these choices and if you can think of any stand outs then let me know in the comments. Looking back on my 2 decades of gaming I honestly couldn’t think of many mums in video games so I’m intrigued to hear ones I’ve missed or forgotten. Thank you for reading and to any mum’s who read this on Mother’s day, I hope you have a great day and get spoilt.

Devil May Cry V Review

DMC V is the latest instalment in the long running action series from Capcom. A return to its original version instead of the 2013 reboot. A return for the better, I believe. Don’t get me wrong, I never hated the 2013 Dante or Donte as some like to call him, but I also never really cared for him or the world around him. The characters of OG Dante and Nero were always characters that I enjoyed watching in over the top cutscenes and felt good to play as in game.  It’s over 10 years since we last played as OG Dante and Nero and so how does their return fare? I can happily say that after 10 years, they haven’t lost their touch.

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My main man Nero! This is how you do a Metal Gear Solid 2 Raiden situation. He’s different to Dante but in his unique way and honestly I think I prefer him too.

DMC V takes place in Red Grave City, a London-esque fictional location. A tentacle like flower has erupted through the ground and Dante, Nero and the new character V are on a mission to stop the evil behind this occurrence. This is shown in mission one and we as the player, are jumping into a story already in motion. The very first mission takes place during established conflicts and as you progress in the game you’ll discover character motives and what led up to this point. It works well for this flashy series. There is very little downtime in DMC V and this opening perfectly encapsulates this. The game is broken up into 20 missions with certain missions taking place around the same time but with a different character. This leads to cool moments where you can see V in the background of Nero’s mission, fighting a bunch of demons or upon entering a room, being able to join a fight already in motion. This ties in with the Cameo System but I’ll touch on that later. As you progress through the game you’ll play character specific missions as well as missions that have character choice. As you progress you’ll unlock specific character weapons and earn red orbs which allow you to level up your characters and unlock new moves or buy health or Devil Trigger increases. It’s a simple structure but it suits this style of game. Having the missions broken up into 20-30 minute missions means that you won’t tire of the same character or location if they’re not to your preference.

DMC V isn’t a revolution in storytelling but I had an immensely fun time with it nevertheless. This game is telling a more serious tale, more akin to the original DMC but with a healthy injection of cheese now and then. There is also a healthy amount of past game references which if you’re a fan of past iterations, you’ll enjoy. The Devil May Cry series is known for its bombastic and over the top cutscenes, cringey dialogue and all. DMC V is more retrained in that regard. It’s still stupid and charming but it feels more restrained than 3 or the antics of Dante and the second half of DMC 4. Is this for better or for worse? It depends on what you like. Personally I love the flamboyant and outrageous in these kind of games. It’s why Bayonetta is one of my favourite characters of recent years and why I love the anime/manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The ridiculous has its place in media and the DMC franchise was one of the pioneers of that in gaming. There are still moments but this is a game where the stakes feel substantial and the physics more grounded, it suits what DMC V is going for, without pulling into Spoiler Town.

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Stylish cutscene with slow-mo and an amazing tune? Check

Most people don’t play Devil May Cry for the story they play it for the stylish gameplay and DMC V has that in spades. If you’re at all familiar with Dante or Nero then you’ll feel right at home with them in V. Nero plays very similar to 4 but with his new Devil Breaker functionality. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new mechanical arms for Nero. Each arm offers a unique functionality with some specialising in crowd control, evasion or dealing large amounts of damage to a single enemy. Nero can only equip one arm at a time and can only hold onto a certain amount. If you get hit when using a Devil Breaker, the arm breaks. Each arm has basic functionality and a one time use function. You could go through an entire mission using the electric palm blast of Overture or you could use its one use feature to latch a high damaging sticky bomb to an enemy. Combine this with Nero’s ability to yank enemies towards himself and you’ve got a fun and unique character. Dante is a more varied combatant. Dante has 4 fighting styles that you can switch between with a touch of the D-Pad. He has his fast moving Trickster, the added melee abilities of Swordmaster, the extra ranged oomph of Gunslinger or the risky but rewarding counter style of Royalguard. Each of these styles can be upgraded to higher levels which unlock extra features for each style. As you progress in the game, you’ll also unlock new weapons which will in part will mesh with your upgraded styles too. These weapons range from a simple rocket launcher or set of gauntlets to the crazy weapon that is a motorcycle and cowboy hat. As you can see, Dante hasn’t lost his panache. Dante also has his Devil Trigger ability which lets him enter into his demonic state and inflict greater damage to enemies as well as gradually recover health. Overall, a character with a lot to learn but a fun character to play as.

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Sure, why not!

Then there is newcomer V. V is a great addition to the cast of characters. He fits in well, even though he is a mysterious individual. In cutscenes and in his overall aesthetic, I must say that I am a fan of him. Gameplay wise though, I waver a bit. I think the idea behind his gimmick is really interesting and for the most part it works surprisingly well. V doesn’t fight like Dante and Nero, instead he utilises the help of Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare, 3 demons that he conjures to support him.  Griffon is a bird which acts as his ranged attack, launching projectiles and electric based attacks at enemies. Shadow is a panther-like creature which acts as V’s up close and personal attacks. Then there is the huge lumbering Nightmare who uses V’s Devil Trigger meter to appear. Often falling from the skies like a meteor or bursting through a wall (often revealing hidden secrets), Nightmare is the big bruiser of the gang and one that you don’t need to control. Just summon him and let him go to town on foes. The only thing you need to do with V is evade and finish enemies off with a killing blow. You can also make V read his book which will generate a steady amount of Devil Trigger. Griffon and Shadow you control with your range and melee attack buttons. Both companions have a health gauge though and if they take too much damage, they’ll retreat into a dormant state, represented by an orb on the ground, while replenishing their health. By placing V next to his inactive friends, they’ll regenerate their health faster. All this together creates a character where you are essentially hanging back from the fight and making your minions do your bidding. It’s a fantastic idea and suits V’s personality but when you add complex systems like this, complexities tend to arise too.

For starters, being so far back away from the action at times often leads to mistimed melee hits as your perspective is off. In a lot of games that wouldn’t be a major issue but the DMC series utilises a ranking system and the aim of the ranking system is to keep combat going so that you can raise your ranking. Then there is the fact that Shadow isn’t always where you want it to be. Often times I’ll click the melee button only for Shadow to have spawned next to me a split second before I hit the button. Making his close range attack completely whiff. I wondered if this was to my own lack of skill and to an extent I believe it is but I also saw a lot of people having a similar issue online. Shadow is difficult to orientate at times and in a game where calculated actions and precision yield better results, the experience suffers because of it. Not by a lot, but some. As I mentioned, there is a ranking system for individual battles and for each mission. Your individual battles and other factors will round up to your overall ranking for that level. With Nero and Dante I felt in control of my rankings but with V, I was less confident I deserved that D or even that S ranking. At times with V I was getting SSS’s for what I thought was pretty basic gameplay and then other times I was getting C’s because I couldn’t hit with Shadow. It felt like you ranked up quicker with V and the reason for that is because the developers realised they needed to add that because of his margin of error. Again, I do think I was playing him wrong at times but I tried different tactics with Shadow and I just couldn’t get consistent results. Not a major issue but on harder difficulties where you have to be deliberate, I can see V being a frustration at times. Other than the inconsistent Shadow though, I think he’s a great addition to the franchise.

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Bad kitty! Do I need to buy a leash? Attack the enemy not the air in front of it.

Another part of the rankings I want to mention is the taunting in this game. During combat you can hit a button to taunt. Not only are these taunts flashy or funny, they also can up your style meter and also act as a way to prolong your style from decreasing. These taunts range from V coughing, Nero playing eenie meenie minee mo with enemies and even scaring them away, to Nero putting his hoodie up or V using his cane to conduct an imaginary symphony to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries. Each taunt gives you a glimpse of their personalities and the fact that certain taunts only activate if you have a specific style ranking is a nice touch. It adds incentive to do well in battle and to vary up your moves as you will get less style points if you use the same move repeatedly.  The style system is a fantastic choice in design and I can fully believe the idea that each character is ranking themselves in their heads. It fits the tone perfectly. As does the soundtrack to the game. Each character has a battle theme that really helps to amp up the fights. Nero’s punk/metal Devil Trigger will never get dull to me and V’s goth style look perfectly lines up with his Crimson Cloud song. You get to listen to these great tracks while you pummel the ever increasing array of demons and let me tell you, there is an ample variety on display in this game. Most of the missions in DMC V introduce at least one new enemy and does so in remarkably stylish enemy intros. I never got bored with the cannon fodder in front of me and the end of mission bosses that lay ahead. While I enjoyed the majority of the boss fights, I am struggling to remember them all as I type. There are fantastic fights like the time manipulating knight and horse but a few forgettable entries compared to the likes of DMC 3, where even over 10 years later I still remember Jester, Nevan and most of the other bosses. This is understandable though as I believe there is a boss fight for nearly every mission. You definitely get your money’s worth regarding boss fights.

I almost forgot to mention the Cameo System which is probably because it feels like a bit of an after thought. It’s not a bad system but I felt that I barely saw it in motion during my game. Basically, similar to how in Dark Souls you can see players ghosts run past now and then, in DMC V sometimes you will have other players in your game or their ghost data anyway. I believe it is a live player most of the time but there is a belief that a lot of it is ghost data. For the majority of the missions you will have other people playing as a different character in your game. Most of the time you won’t interact with them. A lot of the time you won’t even see them unless you shift the camera around or go looking for them. You’ll hear the sounds of battle and you might see them in the distance. Certain mission will have your paths merge and you’ll have the opportunity to fight alongside the other player. But you have to be at the right place at the right time. It makes this feature quite lacklustre as I always felt that I was missing out on potential co-op action. Most of the time I’d get to an area to see my fellow player finishing off the enemies before I could even get there and then racing to the next zone. I like to take my time and look for secret missions or collectables in these games and so I wasn’t interested in rushing through the levels. I kept getting people who were doing that though which is understandable but it just meant I had fewer enemies to fight and therefore less of an experience. It’s a gameplay element that I’m sure when it works well, it works really well. I’ve started playing a higher difficulty and so I’m excited to go back through again and hopefully meet another player who is open to having a more co-op experience than racing to the end goal. But that’s a personal hope and maybe I was just unlucky with my experiences.

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*Sighs* Wish I could be that cool.

All in all I really enjoyed my time with DMC V. It had some of the best player-action gameplay I’ve had in a long time and features super satisfying gameplay systems. Not only that but the sound design on the weapons is great and the locations and graphics look amazing. And even though I would have appreciated a bit more cheese in cutscenes and dialogue, what was on offer was very pleasing to my eyes and ears. And that about does it for my review on DMC V. Feel free to let me know what you thought of this game in the comments. Thanks for reading.