My Top 5 Games of 2017

Ignore the date! It is NOT late March and therefore this article is NOT long overdue.

5. Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo logo

I’m actually surprised this is in my top 5, but looking back over all the games I played of 2017, this one I’ve kept coming back to. Puzzle games aren’t even a genre that I have much love for compared to others but Puyo Puyo Tetris is just so easy to love. Tetris is universal, I don’t need to explain that as anyone having an interest in gaming and reading this knows how Tetris works. Puyo Puyo is something I’d never played before and when I got the game I figured I would just play the Tetris modes and that’s it. Puyo Puyo is similar to popular Facebook and mobile phone games. You have colours, you line the colours up and score points and clear space. Setting off a chain reaction of disappearing Puyo’s will grant more points and space as well as obstacles for your opponents.

The game does a great job of explaining the gameplay mechanics of both modes and it’s Frankenstein of a mode where they merge the two. What follows is a simple concept but hard to master package that has a mode for everyone. The chaos that ensues when four people play against each is hilarious especially with modes like Swap, where each player has to play Tetris for a set time and then swap to their own Puyo Puyo game and the pattern continues until a victor remains. A great game with a lot of replay value and perfect game for a Nintendo Switch as the portability is a huge bonus.

4. Stardew Valley

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I own this on 3 platforms. I’ve put over 100 hours across all 3 and yet I still haven’t finished a single playthrough. It’s one of those games that I’m sure everyone has experienced. You start it, you play it for hours a day, you spend dozens of hours getting the result you want and rather than finish your current run, you decide to start again. Not due to boredom or unhappiness with your current run. But due to that simplicity and addictive nature of the beginning of the game. The thing that enraptured you in the first place.

Achieving an ideal farm and a peak routine that yield’s the most profit and productivity is fun. It’s great fun and very therapeutic. On the other hand, a simple basic farm has my pitiful mind brimming with potential. Do I focus on animals? How should I organise my crops? Do I want a cat or dog on my farm? How do I improve on what I did previously? There is so much choice in this game that I think I’ll be playing it for another 5 years before I finish a run. And I am completely okay with that.

For more on how I feel about Stardew Valley and a more in depth look at an average 20 minutes on the game, feel free to check out a feature I wrote a while back. Here is the shill….I mean, link! Shill

3. Mario Odyssey

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This is a fun game! It gives me a warm, happy feeling when I play it. I know that sounds all touchy and overly sentimental for a game but it’s the truth. Mario games in the main series have always held that power over me but Mario Odyssey might be one of the prime examples. Everyone and their gran knows what Mario is and how it plays so I’m not going to explain that.

Mario Odyssey has what makes a video game a classic. It’s beautifully colourful, has fluid gameplay, an amazing soundtrack and has many moments that planted the stupidest smile on my face. This game is a stand out in Mario’s long history. From the beginning to the end of this adventure, humour and nostalgia are injected into every corner of this game. Nintendo set out to make the most fun and Mario filled Mario game and I believe they done that spectacularly. Sheer fun on a cartridge.

2. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Breath of the Wild has spoilt me. Why can’t I climb all mountains in all other open world games? I’ll be the first to admit that I have an issue with open world games. There is usually too much to do and the world in question is a lot of the time, devoid of personality or enough personality to fill its scale. Breath of the Wild laughs at that problem. I loved exploring this world. There is so much to find and see that I never tired of climbing mountains. Not only is Hyrule a treat to traverse but the actual traversal mechanics are a delight to play.

This Zelda is a tricky one to place. It’s number 2 on my list and I believe it deserves that spot. Saying that though, it’s one of the weakest 3D Zelda games in my eyes. I always loved Zelda’s dungeons and bosses and this game lacks in that area severely. On the other hand though, it still deserves the number 2 spot and is still the best realised open world game I’ve played. I think this is an amazing game and an amazing series. Even when Zelda is at its weakest it is still head and shoulders above most of the video game industry. So even though I just said this is a weak entry in the series, I still recommend buying this game 100%. A superb game.

My game of the year is………..

1. Persona 5

Persona 5

For me this was the clear winner. I loved the others on this list and when I wrote down my preliminary top 10, Persona 5 was placed at number 1 and it stayed there. Others I swapped and ummed and ahhed about but not Persona 5. That speaks volume to me and hopefully to you about how I feel about this game. This was a stellar year in gaming but this quirky high school sim/JRPG/heist game takes the grand prize.

I’m not a stranger to the Persona series or even the Shin Megami Tensei series. I remember buying Persona 4 for £10 for my PS2 back when PS2 games were no longer the key market. The next gen had come along but I saw this strange game with these fantastic reviews and gave it a go. My mind was blown. It is still my high point for JRPG’s, a genre that I’m not the most proficient in besides the odd Final Fantasy game.The Persona series is like no other series I’ve played. It’s tone and weird nature are enveloped by solid characters, unique storyline’s and a combat system that I care for with a passion. It’s essentially Final Fantasy turn based combat with Pokemon chucked in. There are so many aspects of this game that I could write paragraphs about.

In the end though, it’s style that is all over this game that I love immensely and the reason it is my number 1 of 2017. The look, the music, the character and Persona design. Even the menu screen is a joy to view. It has pizzazz all over the place and it’s not a style over substance game. The world and the characters that fill the world are rich in detail and care. Every aspect of this game took time and consideration. If you haven’t played or seen footage of this masterpiece then please go on YouTube and have a look. Just at the menu screen or the end screen of a battle. To me the end screen of a generic battle is a classic. It’s up there with the Final Fantasy victory fanfare (the one that you just sang to yourself). That is only a small detail of this game but that flare and flourish is cascading through this game.

There is nothing else like it at the moment in my opinion besides other iterations. Persona 6 can’t come soon enough but I’ll gladly accept Shin Megami Tensei on the Switch till then.

Keeping Peach In HER Keep

Hi there! Are you tired of over grown lizards stealing your princess? Kicked down too many castle doors and told your princess is in another castle? You need to call us, the MKS (Mushroom Kingdom Security)! Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote the code ‘Princess’ to get 20% off our Protected Princess package. This package includes all the premium gear you’ll ever need to keep your damsel in distress, just a damsel. The following features will be provided and installed by yours truly:

  1. Warp Pipes: With these green beauties that pesky Bowser won’t get too far with your beloved. We install a hub room in the confines of your castle that is JAM-PACKED with warp pipes to across the land. Now when Bowser and your ravishing maiden are half way to his fiery castle, you just hop in a warp pipe for the end of World 7 and wait for the blundering fool to appear. Quick, efficient, and you and your highness will be back in the throne room before Luigi even notices.
  2. Power Up Pack x 10: You ever been up a creak without a frog suit before? Not any more! With our patented Power Up Pack’s that Super Mushroom is just tap away. In our PP package you don’t just get 1 of these, nor 5 but 10! You read that right, I said, 10! Before you set off for your rescue mission, slap one of these to your plumbers belt. Then, when that annoying red shell as taken away your power up, just slap the  PP pack and BOOM! An explosion of upgrades will burst forth in front of you. Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Super Star, Tanooki Suit, Penguin Suit, Cat Suit and more. We’ve got them all. Even the ones that weren’t in your World till now, we scoured the Mushroom Kingdom so you don’t have to.
  3. Chomps: The best offence is the best defence. And here at MKS we do offer the very best of both. Now tell me if this rings a bell. You go to rescue your silken haired beloved but before your very eyes, is a raging black ball of teeth that’d tear you up faster than a Wiggler unwrapping Christmas day’s 8 pair pack of socks, from Grandma Wiggler. The only thing keeping this untamed sphere of fury off your face is the chain that secures it. Now what if we flipped the script on that Godzilla wannabe and fight fire with even hotter fire. Buy our pack today and we’ll place a Chain Chomp in each of your strongholds rooms. But we don’t stop there. We place a Chain Chomp to cover every 10 metres of your buildings exterior. We supply you with the biggest deterrent of the Mushroom Kingdom for your own home. Now you may be thinking ‘MKS are you crazy!? Why would I want these vicious atrocities in every room of my stronghold?’. No need to fret, friend. We hand raise these Chain Chomp’s ourselves in a secure location in The Forest of Illusion. These boys don’t bite the hand that feeds them and you’ll be surprised at how loyal they can be. Heck, you can even get rid of the Chain and just have your own personally Chomp rolling around your room. Your own personal guard Chomp.
  4. Toad Camp: Now we’re being too kind. Do you ever wish you could have some help with protecting your Princess. That lanky brother of yours always crying about ghosts and cowering with fear when that repugnant, reptile face shows up. You wish those Toads would step up and stop telling you to go save the Princess. Wish they would do it themselves? Me too, friend. That’s why we offer to take your castle’s Toads for a vigorous, strenuous and absolutely stupendous 2 month training exercise. This 60 day course will push your Toads to the limit. Strength, speed and jumping will be improved like you wouldn’t believe. Turning your Toads from a bunch of Fun-guys to Toad-al beefcakes.
  5. Star Juice Vial x 15: Marioooooooooo! She shouts, as Bowser snatches her away in his ugly, dulled claws. With our PP pack this will be a thing of the past. And if that sneaky reptile does manage to grab your princess on a social outing somehow. Possibly when playing tennis or go-karting. Your royal leader will be fully prepared. Our Star Juice is 100% freshly squeezed and organic. We only use the brightest and shiniest Super Star’s. We condense that energy into a little vial that comes with a necklace that is personally tailored for your fair lady. When Bowser grabs the soon to be queen, she pops the vial from her necklace and drinks the Star Juice. The beat down that Bowser will receive will be like none before. He’ll think twice before trying to turn your princess into a helpless captive. Girl Power!

If this all sounds too good to be true then pinch yourself and see if you’re dreaming. I’ll let in you in on a little secret. You’re not. For just 999 coins this bargain can be yours. Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote ‘Princess’ for your exclusive saving. Put up and your feet and let us do the rest.

MKS- Securing the Mushroom Kingdom, so you don’t have to.


MKS isn’t liable for any damages to you, your princess or your castle if our packages are used inappropriately. It is not advised to release your Chain Chomps from their chains unless you individually, have received the full Chain Chomp release training provided by the MK Government. MKS is not liable to pay for any injuries sustained at the Toad Camp or Toad misplacement. All our products have been tested and approved by the MK Regulations Act of 1976. MKS is a Mushroom Kingdom sanctioned public trading company and is fully covered by the MK Trading Standard Act of 1984.    

Just A Quick Go: SNES Mini

As a 90’s child, I grew up with the Super Nintendo. One of my first ever memories is sat in front of our old CRT TV playing Donkey Kong Country. An ice level actually, I was struggling on this particular level and played it so much I can still remember the level’s song. When, the NES Mini was announced I didn’t buy one. Not because I didn’t think it was worth it, but because it wasn’t nostalgic for me. The SNES was my first console and possibly my favourite console to date. There may be some bias there as it is my first system but the staggeringly good line up speaks for itself. The SNES had an over-abundance of titles that to this day hold up and was the birth place of many of gaming’s greatest iterations. And so when they announced the SNES Mini, I had to get one.

I’ve only played it for about 4 hours and haven’t touched some of the games yet. This is just my take away from my brief re-introduction to some classics. The SNES Mini itself: cute as. I didn’t realise it is this small. The SNES controller itself is wider than the SNES. The dinky console comes with two controllers, the system, a USB cable and a HDMI cable. It’s deceptively small and comes with 21 games built into the system.  I think, the console looks the part, the resemblance is striking. It even has the fake controller entry points that the SNES had back in the day. Now with this new version, that is a plastic guard which you pull to reveal the real plug sockets. The controllers themselves feel lighter than I remember but that could just be an age thing. An issue I have at the minute are the length of the wires for the controllers. They’re short. Not as short as the NES Mini so I’ve read. But still, wires are dirt cheap these days. Nintendo could have shelled out for another 3 foot, no problem. There are remedies if this is an issue for you. I’ve bought some extensions which basically attach to the controllers wire length and increases that to a more comfortable length. The controllers now reach 10 feet which is couch length with some slack, which suits me more. A simple fix but a fix that shouldn’t need to exist.

On the subject of the controllers. An extra button or two would have gone a long way to increase enjoyment of the system. Nintendo has a newly added rewind feature on the system. A feature which is greatly appreciated. I’ve forgotten how hard and unforgiving some of these games are. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, I can’t even beat the first level any more. The rewind feature goes a long way to help alleviate frustration but the rewind button is on the console itself. There is no way to implement the rewind unless you go over to the console and hit the reset button. This then takes you to the main screen, with all the games to select and the option to use a save slot, to save your progress or rewind to seconds or minutes earlier, depending on the game. I know Nintendo are going for a true to classic look but an extra button on the SNES controller called ‘Rewind’ wouldn’t hurt. The controller isn’t cluttered, it has room for it. The rewind is a great feature that requires too much effort to use. And that might sound like I’m being lazy but I tend to play my games to unwind, so lying on the couch comfortably is my preferred style. I don’t want to have to be sat right next to the console or to get up every time I want to use the save state or rewind. Another issue I have and I might be stupid for not seeing why this couldn’t have happened. Is, I don’t understand why the SNES Mini can’t work on a computer or laptop screen. I tested it out on my laptop and nothing loads up. I’m not too tech savvy, but I’d imagine that would have been quite simple to implement.

And with that, my nit picking is done. I have issues with the system but it plays the games I want it to play and, it’s retro and nostalgic for me. The list of games are fantastic. A lot of these games I haven’t played yet either because I wasn’t aware of the series at the time, or just because I had limited money and had to make choices over other games. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Street Fighter 2, Star Fox and Super Mario Kart are the only games from the list that I actually owned. A few of the others I’ve touched over the years but never at length. I love the Zelda series but only got into Zelda when Ocarina of Time came out. Before that I wasn’t aware of the series and so to have A Link to the Past included is a real treat. Many call it the best Zelda game and I am so looking forward to finding out why people say that. Super Metroid is the same as Zelda, great praise but I never tried it. Fusion and Metroid Prime were my first introductions and I love both those. It comes with 4 RPG’s that I’ve never played more than 3 hours of. Earthbound I’ve never touched and so am excited to try that.

Contra 3 was the first game I played when I switched on the system. The Konami logo popped up and memories came flooding back to me. I rented this game when I was young and don’t think I got very far but definitely further than I got today. This game is tough! I’m amazed at how much persistence I had as a kid. You forget how merciless these games are. After losing all 5 lives on the first level I walked away dishevelled and feeling old. Are my reflexes slower these days? Or is it because when you’re younger, when you get a game, that is your game for ages. I would make games last because I had so few. Super Mario World I cleared several times, Star Road and all. When I loaded it up today, I was killed by the first enemy. I’m embarrassed by that but not ashamed to admit it. Trying to jump that Beach Koopa I completely forgot the physics and momentum of the game and landed right in front of it. And I’m happy about that. I can remember the sound effects, the layouts, the music but the actual feel of the game is rusty in my fingertips.  The thought of playing something loved, familiar but forgotten too is what I wanted when I ordered the SNES Mini. It’s as I remember it, nothings changed except me. Nothing highlights that for me more, than Donkey Kong Country.

Starting this game again after so long is a bit jarring. The intro doesn’t look as good as I remember it I’ll confess. Donkey Kong Country did have a different look to it than other games at the time. But hearing Cranky playing that song again and DK dropping that boom box for some ape free-styling, brought back the 90’s for me. The soundtrack to this game still holds up too. I was humming away during the first water level, that tranquil song as relaxing as ever. All was going well playing this game. I got acclimatised to the rolling then mid air jumping again. Which is needed for later levels as some collectables are way below the land you’re standing on. Then I got to the first mine cart level. Wow, the pressure. My heart was racing. I went from 20 lives to 8 in just a few minutes. The thrill of those sections is still in this game after all these years. After completing that section I had to save and switch off the SNES Mini.

I had great fun with my short time on the SNES Mini and am eagerly looking forward to sinking my teeth into its catalogue of classics.

A Day In The Life: Stardew Valley

I’ve been playing Stardew Valley A LOT lately.  Currently clocked in at just over 55 hours on the PS4 version. My fiancée is around 25 hours on Steam. We’ve spent many nights lately swapping farming knowledge and advice whilst both on the same couch watching different screens. It’s a great game. Recently I passed the 1 year mark and so I thought I’d just assess how far I’ve come since arriving on my abandoned farm all those hours ago.

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Well that flew by

For anyone reading who doesn’t know what Stardew Valley is, it’s a farming game essentially. Your character acquires a farm from a relative, you quit your job and get on a bus to your new home. When, you arrive the town mayor shows you to the farm that you now own. It is littered with weeds, overgrown grass, trees and rocks everywhere. You get given some money, some seeds, gardening tools and that’s it. You get advised to go into town and talk to the townsfolk and visit the local shop but what you do next it up to you. Farming is the core component but fishing, mining, exploring, foraging, socialising with the locals and doing up an old town hall through item gathering are all available at your leisure.  It’s an easy to grasp but loads to find out and learn along the way type game. As you progress and do more things, your character will upgrade and improve in areas as well as be able to build new features for your farm. Each year in the game is split up into 4 months which represent the 4 seasons. When you arrive on your farm, it’s the 1st of Spring. A month consists of 28 days and each month has certain produce that can only grow in that month, seasonal fish to catch and a bunch of other season only events.  There is tremendous depth to this game which I’m sure I’ll cover in a review in the future but right now I’m nowhere near done with this game. So for now, here’s an average day for farmer Rudiger on Kraken farm.

Journal Entry: Saturday 13th, Summer, My 2nd Year

I woke up nice and early this morning at 6am. I usually do that anyway but I’ve got a bumper of crops I need to pluck from the soil today. Been waiting for my melons to grow and now they should be perfectly ripe and plump. I get out of bed and say hello to my baby girl Sarah, who’s up already and crawling across the bedroom floor happily.  Must be nice to not have a care in the world at that age. I see my beloved wife Abigail by the cooker and we chat about the time we beat a level on Journey to the Prairie King. A video game Abigail was struggling on last year. It was one of the first times we spent time alone together and it was also a moment of connection for us both. Looking back at it, that might be the moment I knew I cared for her that way. She was always endearing. The way she’d eat flowers that I gave to her as a gift, I always found that peculiar but intriguing. That and the fact she’s a gaming girl sealed the deal and we got married.  Happy to this day I might add.

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I’ve got a lovely bunch melons! Here they are just growing in a row!

I kiss her goodbye and head into the cellar. I recently stocked up some casks with goat cheese and cow dairy cheese. None of them have matured enough yet to sell so I’ll come back again tomorrow. As I leave my house I can hear the distinct sound of rain as I exit my sleepy haze. The door opens and I am immediately hit by that earthy smell of wet soil. I should trust the weather forecasts more, I could have got an extra hour in bed. The crops are watered by nature today. That saves me a job this morning. Scanning my field I see that my melons are glistening in the rain. Ripe, beautiful colour and ready for harvesting. I pluck them from the moist earth and examine their quality. 5 are immaculate. I’ll use these for making melon wine once my kegs are free. I promised Penny if I grew any melons I’d bring her one as they’re her favourite fruit. So I keep 1 aside, plus the 5 perfect melons and I put the rest in the shipping bin. Those will be collected in the night and I’ll wake up to find my wallet has grown fatter. Easy-peasy. I venture over to my coop and check up on my little guys. Not a bad haul, 4 eggs and a loose duck feather. Feathers fetch a pretty penny so I’ll sell this along with my 2 dinosaur eggs and then I’ll make mayonnaise out of the remaining eggs. I pop over to my barn and say hello to my gang of misfits. My goats aren’t producing milk today but my 2 cows: Meryl and Mary are prime for milking. I’ll use this milk to make some fine cheese later. Nearly done for the morning, the greenhouse is the last to do on my land. I enter the greenhouse and my flowers have started blooming. A radiant blue colour. I take them from the soil and collect the rest of the crops. A lot of coffee beans were picked today, those will sell well tonight. I head back to my house and use my mayonnaise and cheese press machines. Those’ll be ready by the time I get back.

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I’m sure you’re dying to know, so my animal names: Chickens- Chilly, Chuckles, Clucky/ Ducks- Quackers,Bill (GET IT!?)/ Rabbit- Thumper / Dinosaurs- Lizzie, Scales/ Cows- Meryl, Mary     Sheep- Baaaabara/ Goats- Kicky, Lulu, Berty

I jump aboard my loyal steed Clip-Clop and we head into town! When we get there I check the local calendar for events. It’s Alex’s birthday today! I’ll pop in to his and give him a present. Before I can even get through the door, the delicious aroma of baked goods come flooding up my nostrils. As if in a daze, I go to the kitchen like a zombie. I find Evelyn there. She tells me she’s happy to see me and that she’s just baked a fresh batch of her famous cookies. Try one, she says. Oh my god! They’re the best things since sliced bread. Crumbly but with gooey chocolate. Evelyn also gave me the recipe to make them myself. I was a bit taken back by this. In the beginning, when I first arrived to town, she told me that maybe 1 day she’d tell me her secret recipe. I guess she trusts me to have it now. Savouring that treat, I headed to Alex’s room.

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I’m selling this recipe on eBay, Granny

I should knock before entering rooms. He was lifting weights. Shirtless. He didn’t seem awkward about it but I felt wrong for just barging in. But he apologised to me. I wasn’t expecting that. He explained that he spoke a bit harshly to me about his American football dreams in the past and that he regretted it. That he just gets defensive about what he cares about. He had no need to apologise to me but I’m honoured that he did. Before I go I wish him happy birthday and give him one of the flowers I plucked earlier. He smiles and thanks me and I go to leave. Walking past the kitchen I give Evelyn one of the flowers too. She’s delighted by it. They’re a nice family, even George, though he can be a bit cranky at times but I think that’s a façade. I look at the time and see that it’s later than I thought.

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I could take mine off if that’d make you feel better. Want tickets to the gun show?

I jump aboard Clip-Clop and we head to Clint’s Blacksmiths.  I was in the mines yesterday and found a large stash of geodes. I ask Clint to crack them open for me. I pay him his usual rate and he gives me the hidden treasures. Not a bad deal. I got some precious minerals to keep for later. I got 2 things that I’ll donate to Gunther at the museum and I got some precious Iridium. This rare ore is what I’ve been searching for lately. Difficult to find and guarded by monsters but at least I’ve got enough now to smelt a bar out of it. I drop off my 2 rare finds to Gunther at the museum, which he thanks me for and away I go to the beach. When, I get to the beach I go to the shoreline to investigate my crab pots. Not lucky today. Mostly rubbish and soggy newspaper. Still, worth a go though so I put some bait in the pots and I’ll see what I catch tomorrow.

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I see that I have 1 flower left and so I decide to see how Jodi and the kids are doing.  Sam and Vincent are playing games and watching TV, I hand  the kids some coral I found at the beach. Boys love that kind of stuff! Their mum is doing dishes in the kitchen and I hand her the flower. Her face lights up and she thanks me for it. I check the time and see I’m behind schedule. I bid farewell and quickly dash for the door.

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It’s nice to be nice in this game. Comes with perks too, like recipes and gifts

I race to the bus depot to catch the last departure but I’m too late. I see Pam walking by me, no doubt on her way to the Saloon for a refreshing drink. Well that’s me not going to the Skull Cavern today. I was hoping to find more of that Iridium but maybe tomorrow instead. I decide to head back home and tie up any loose ends for the night. My darling Abigail has made me some soup which I’ll save for tomorrows expedition. My cheeses are ready from this morning and smelling good. I take them down to my cellar and stick them in a cask to age for a week or 2. My mayonnaise is ready too so I stick that in my shipping box along with the mussels I found at the beach.

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The clock is ticking but the night is still young. I can’t go on the bus but I can go to the local mine instead. I’m running low on bait for my crab pots and the bugs in the mines make excellent bait for fish. So I jump on Clip-Clop and we head to the dark and gloomy mines. Along the way I find some juicy grapes and realise I’ve not seen Linus for a while. He lives in a tent on the outskirts of town and I hardly come this way anymore. It’d be nice to see him to I poke my head into his tent and there he is. We have a brief talk and I give him the grapes. He’s kind as always and likes the grapes. He lives the foraging lifestyle anyway so I’m sure he appreciates the gesture and visit, especially given how isolated he is up here. We say our goodbyes and I venture into the mines.

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Not too deep as the bugs tend to hand around the early floors. I’m not at it long when I realise it’s past 10pm.  I’ve got to be up at 6am tomorrow so time to call it a night, leave the mines and head back home.

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Precious bug meat!

Once home I use the bug meat I found and use it to create some bait. That should do me a while now. I also see that some of my kegs are ready, so I take the wine from them and put my melons from this morning into them. I’m looking forward to trying some of that melon wine but for now, I’ll leave it to soak and ferment. Didn’t accomplish all that I wanted to today but it was nice having time to see people and to hear about their day. Tomorrow will be a busy day and I definitely need to get to the Skull Cavern at some point soon. But for now that is all. I’m going to go put all my stuff away for the day and get into bed. Until next time, Diary.

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I hope you enjoyed this look into what Stardew Valley has to offer and it’s different gameplay elements. This is just my playthrough too. You could specialize in crops, in fishing, you could have loads of barns full of cows and be a dairy farmer. I did a stint where I was producing tons of coffee and riding into town handing out fried eggs. There is so much to do and it’s interesting to see the growth over time. You may see another day in Year 3 at some point. But for now, take care.

 

5 Protagonists That Changed in Their Sequels for Better Or Worse

Lately I’ve been playing Zelda: Breathe of the Wild and even though Link doesn’t talk in this game, he still expresses himself more than he has in other games. Many people clamour for Link to speak whilst others believe he should remain silent. There are both pros and cons to each outcome but I believe I’ll save that for another day.  Today I want to talk about other characters in gaming who underwent a significant change in behaviour.  Wearing new sunglasses or getting the latest trendy haircut doesn’t count. It needs to be a change that either impacts the gameplay or makes a stark contrast to previous iterations. So here are a few examples and if they worked or not.

Isaac Clark (Dead Space 2)

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The original Dead Space was a dark, tense and isolated game where you controlled ship engineer Isaac Clark, as he explores the derelict Ishimura spaceship. The Ishimra was a planet cracker on a mission, but something went horribly wrong and they released a distress signal. Isaac’s partner Nicole is aboard the Ishimura as part of the crew and so Isaac is eager to get aboard and rescue his beloved. Throughout this game Isaac doesn’t speak. He makes grunting noises when hit or when stomping corpses, as he loves to do. But there is no dialogue for him. Not only that but we barely see Isaac’s face at all. This is very reminiscent of Link in the Zelda games. Miyamoto wanted Link to be a connection to the player (Link, being wordplay on this idea) to the world of Hyrule.  He was made silent as a way for players to personify with him more with themselves. Similar to how Isaac if portrayed here.

In Dead Space 2, not only do we see Isaac without his helmet on. A lot, I might add. He also is a bit of a chatter box this time around. Full on conversations with other characters and in his visions too. Isaac goes from a silent protagonist to a regular engineer. The kind you get round your house to install a new phone line. They’re always up for a good gab so at least Isaac is more believable now. These changes I feel benefit Dead Space 2. (Spoilers for Dead Space 1 incoming) In the original Dead Space, Isaac is mostly alone, wandering through dark corridors of and unravelling the ill fate of its crew.  The only real dialogue is from his partner Nicole, when he finds her and helps her through the Ishimura. We later find out,  she has been dead this entire time.

So it makes sense for Isaac not to talk to her. He knows she’s dead, he’s in a state of denial but also deep down knows she can’t be. This combined with the fact that there is not really much character interactions with Isaac makes the mute decision a good one in my eyes. Sure the odd ‘What the hell?!’ as a necromorph lunges for him for the first time would be more realistic but for story purposes, a voice wasn’t needed. Dead Space 2 on the other hand starts with Isaac chatting with a psychologist. This theme that Isaac knows the danger, is trying to spread the word and stop the same fate the Ishimura had, works well. Nearly everyone Isaac meets, he informs of the dangers and horrors that are going to be unleashed unless he finds the Marker.  Dead Space 2 also doesn’t take place on an abandoned ship in space, it happens on The Sprawl which is basically like a complex in space. Full of apartments, shops and weird cults. Therefore, there are people to interact with. It would be frustrating for the player; as Isaac, to meet a new friend and poor, old Isaac to be silent and not warning the person to flee, get off The Sprawl. That is why I’m in favour of motormouth Isaac. It suits the context well.

Prince of Persia (Prince of Persia: Warrior Within)

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In Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Prince is a young descendant of royalty. He is cocky, brash and stubborn. His life has been handed to him on a platter. He and his father attack a local palace under the guidance of The Vizier of that palace. The Vizier tells of their pick of treasures housed within the palace. During this attack The Prince finds a dagger. Unbeknown to him at the beginning but this dagger holds the power to rewind time or to slow it down. Within the palace there lies an hourglass that stores the sands of time. It is then revealed that The Vizier is evil all along (surprise, surprise) and uses the sands to turn all inhabitants beside himself, The Prince and the Princess Farah to be turned into monsters. Shenanigans ensue and the Prince and Farah have to team up to take down The Vizier and fix the wrought they helped bring.

In this first game The Prince is arrogant. He believes he knows the world and what he says, goes.  This causes clashes between him and Farah who isn’t willing to follow orders just because he calls himself a prince. He doesn’t act like a representative for his people as royalty should. Throughout the game The Prince matures and understands more of the world around him. By the end of the game he has to make difficult decisions and does so in a respectable manner. He truly evolves as the game goes on and concludes. Then Warrior Within happens.

The Prince is now a bit older. About 7 years have passed since the last game. The Prince is now sporting a death metal look. Black flowing hair, dual wielding swords and has been to a belt sale and raided his wallet. The Prince is now a bitter, worn out man. Since the events of The Sands of Time, a great being has begun after our hero. The Dahaka is essentially a time guardian. It knows that The Prince cheated death and is here to amend that. And while I understand that The Prince has been getting less sleep and is fed up with his life and so that’s why he looks a bit moody. I don’t get the belts at all. If you’re having a nap and suddenly the Dahaka comes storming through your door, those belts aren’t quick to put on. Or does he just wear them constantly? Imagine the smell! Actually, don’t.

I don’t believe this change was needed. The game is gorier, has metal music playing during fights and is overall more mature. But not in a good way. It’s trying too hard to be edgy and the aesthetic of the game suffers. It’s hard to follow his characters arc since The Sands of Time to this. I just don’t buy it. Still a good game but I would have preferred a more mature Prince than this try hard. He’s the kid in school who turned up one day with black nails, eye-liner and wouldn’t shut up mentioning how he likes Linkin Park. But he only knows their top hits and nothing beyond that.

Jak (Jak 2)

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The Jak and Daxter series started as a fun romp of a game. An action/platformer that sees the player controlling Jak in a fictional, colour filled world, accompanied by his pal Daxter. At the start of the game Daxter falls into a pool of Dark Eco, Eco being a kind of energy resource and the dark variety being particularly hazardous. Daxter comes out of the pool unscathed but turned into an Ottsel. A weasel and otter combo for the ages. Together with Daxter, his motor mouth, and the silent Jak, our dynamic duo take off for hours of adventure exploring their world and trying to return Daxter to his former glory. Spoiler alert, he remains an ottsel for a lot of these games.

Jak 2 not only drops the ‘And Daxter’ line from its title. It also changes locale to a city structure world rather than the free range, natural world from the previous. The game takes place 500 years in the future in a city ruled by an evil Baron. When we first see Jak, he is tied to a table and being subjected to experiments with the dangerous dark eco. As a teenager when I played this game, the concept of the playable character being tortured wasn’t even a possibility to me. Especially not a sequel to a light-hearted, funny platformer. This combined with the new city hub, cars, guards with guns and Jak’s new ability to turn into Dark Jak: an enhanced, monster like version of himself, makes for a drastic tonal shift. One that works in my eyes.

Samus (Metroid: Other M)

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Samus is a silent, bold, strong willed bounty hunter. She scours the universe taking down foes, rivals, monsters with tact and precision. Government organisations know of her talents and even recruit her in their time of need. She is a professional through and through and one of gamings greatest heroes. Then Other M was made.

In Other M, Samus becomes meek somehow. Not in gameplay.  In gameplay she’s stylish and ruthless. But in the confines of cutscenes and the story, she turns into a scared rookie. When aliens appear she is seen to cower or run from a fight. There are times where she will not enable a function of her suit because her commanding officer hasn’t given her permission. Even, if her life is in danger. She refers to an alien Metroid that helps her in the opening of the game as ‘The Baby’. The Metroid’s are as race of aliens that are as detriment to the universe. Besides this singular Metroid helping Samus, they have constantly been a danger to her. The fact that she gets maternal about a former enemy is baffling. Not only that but the fact that she won’t perform actions unless her superior says so is a confusing character trait. Samus is turned from stoic warrior to a reluctant fighter who needs to be told what to do. An embarrassing portrayal of a classic hero that hopefully will never be repeated.

Ethan Thomas (Condemned 2: Bloodshot)

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Sharp detective Ethan Thomas is on the case! Crazy homeless and serial killers watch out! With his trusty flash light and board with nail or rusty pipe, those dark alley ways and warehouses have something to fear. In the first Condemned Ethan was a run of the mill detective. After investigating the latest in a string gruesome murders, Ethan finds himself framed for the murder of his comrades and must track down Serial Killer X to prove his innocence. What follows is a harrowing journey through dingy locations and encounters that test Ethan’s sanity.

In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Ethan is a drunken mess of a man. After the events of the first game and being cleared of murder charges, Ethan retires as a detective and slinks into a life or drinking, pills and loneliness. He goes from a clean, well kept gent, to a red cheeked and messy looking loser. Ethan’s sanity is also so in disrepair as he frequently experiences hallucinations and sleepless nights. His character is more unhinged this time around and more brute than calculated detective.  And while I don’t think his look is an improvement over the original, I like the fact that he has baggage to him now. The weight of his actions and the knowledge he gained from the previous game has embedded within him and driven to slum city. After all he went through, I can believe his downfall and that for me is what makes this character change a good decision. Maybe not aesthetically but story and motive wise, I support the vision.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it and let me know what you think of the choices and if you have any to recommend.

 

 

No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again Thoughts

Recently at Nintendo’s Nindies Summer Showcase, a trailer for a new No More Heroes game was released. In the trailer, a character called Bad Dad, father to Bad Girl from the original No More Heroes, tracks down Travis and the two begin duelling. Before the chaos, Travis was playing on a video game system with the game Hotline Miami. As the two become entangled in fisticuffs the console appears to suck them both into a virtual world and the trailer then ends.

There wasn’t much to go on besides that except that the game runs on Unreal Engine 4. At the time, the speculation was that the game would be a collaboration piece with indie developers and would involve Travis and Bad Dad venturing through several worlds based around popular indie games. But since then, Suda 51, the director of the original No More Heroes and creator of the series, shed some light on the upcoming game. As previously revealed, there will be input from indie game developers but not to the extent of exploring worlds of their design. So far Suda has stated that the content will be more of the cosmetic nature. The protagonist of the series, Travis Touchdown will be able to don clothing and attire based around Hotline Miami and other indie games involved. This has been a feature in previous No More Heroes games but with fictional logos and brands. Travis the Otaku could wear shirts of his favourite anime. Wear visors that made him look like a Cyclops reject and other strange apparel.

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Whoooo, lookin cool Jok…..I mean Travis!

This revelation has led to some disappointment online. Some people were looking forward to seeing Travis’s reactions and 4th wall nods to each world. To watch Travis as a sprite in Hotline Miami venturing through sleazy bars and drug dens. And even though I would like to see that too, I wouldn’t want a game around that. As Suda has stated, this is a spin-off game. A way for Suda to test the waters and see if a full blown No More Heroes 3 has an audience. Yes, seeing worlds of indie games we love would be great but I personally prefer No More Heroes to be its own thing. The world of No More Heroes is Suda’s creation and he built a vibrant city in Santa Destroy, the city the series takes place in. He filled that city with all kinds of weird and wonderful characters and it’s this creativity that gives No More Heroes its identity. If we are to ever see No More Heroes 3, it’ll be because people want to see more of what Travis Strikes Again has to offer. I don’t particularly want the style and substance filled in by indie titles. I would love to see Travis go through a Hotline Miami style level or The Binding of Isaac gross basement but not if it reins in Suda. The man is best when he lets his vision come to life. Playing by others rules is a good way to restrain that creativeness. The news that each world will NOT be certain indie game world makes me happy. It means whatever worlds Travis and Bad Man venture through will be Sudas work. And considering that both No More Heroes have taken place in Santa Destroy, it’ll be interesting to see Travis in a new space. And not just any space. Video game space! A place where Suda can do some real daft stuff.

Santa Destroy was filled with bizarre characters but it was still a city based on similar cities in our reality. It was full of buildings, mostly grey and people went about their lives whilst the crazy hijinks of Travis went on in the background. I love the idea of Travis being in crazy, extreme worlds and there’s a very good possibility that will happen in this new game. Suda has always pushed the envelope of strangeness and with the storyline he’s chosen for this upcoming game, it opens up all kinds of freedom for him. For example, in No More Heroes 2 an entire boss fight takes place in the confines of a dream. And the boss in question is that of a small anime girl. The fact it was a dream level gave Suda the excuse to do something dumb and different. I welcome more of that and hopefully that’ll happen. So, for me I’m not disappointed with the news, in fact I’m more excited now. 6 or more video game themed worlds by Suda. Sign me up!

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The stuff of nightmares.

I do hope he does more with the real indie games though. Clothing is great and it was always fun to customize Travis, but to just have clothing would seem like a wasted potential. In No More Heroes 2 there were old Super Nintendo style mini games that you could play or as side missions. One was a 2D side scroller where Travis would knock trees and catch the falling coconuts. Another minigame was to increase Travis’s maximum health and would have him punching away dumbbells thrown towards him. I hope that Suda does something like this with the indie game collaborations. Bonus stages within the new game or even optional bonuses in a hub world. Visual or auditory references or gags to the indie games would be a nice tough too. There is a lot of options and I believe we will something of that nature. And if not, I’ll take a Hotline Miami chicken mask for Travis instead. All I’m happy about is a new No More Heroes game and I hope this sells well so we can see a full sequel someday.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on the new No More Heroes game. I’m really excited about it, as Travis is one of my favourite characters of the past decade. And I can’t believe I had to say decade but yep I just Googled it and No More Heroes 1 came out in 2007.  Now I feel old after that news. Oh well. DOWNWARD DOG!

Thank you for reading my ramblings and all the best.

Gaming and Your Partner

If you’re reading this, you more than likely have an affinity for video games. With something that you enjoy, there’s always the desire to share it with you SO. But in the situation where your partner hasn’t had much experience in gaming, then finding the right games can be tricky. In this article I want to talk about co-op games and just games that offer a more basic approach. So first person shooters are out of the question. Maybe you’ve had better luck. But usually when I give a new gamer the controller to an FPS or over the shoulder perspective, they continually run into walls or run sideways into gunfire. The games I’ve selected are games that tend to not involve camera control. As novices seems to have issues with connecting the left stick to movement and the right stick to viewpoint. Lets delve in.

Overcooked (PS4, Xbox ONE, Switch and PC)

Make sure to play this only if your relationship is sturdy and ready for conflict. You have been warned. In Overcooked you and your partner take control of chefs in a kitchen. Orders come through and it’s up to you and your partner to prepare, cook and serve each order hastily. If a customer doesn’t receive their order in a set time, they’re out the door and you’re down a tip. Sounds simple enough so far but as you progress the kitchen place becomes more and more ludicrous. These kitchens range from the basic setup of a standard kitchen to a more challenging fare. Ice levels ensure a slippery time whilst lava levels spew magma which if touched, eliminates that chef for several seconds. You won’t know fury till you’re about to serve a meal and a stray fireball destroys you and your plate. It starts out as chop lettuce, chop tomatoes, BAM, salad done. Next order! The game ups the ante continuously by introducing new meals and new gimmicks. One challenge can see 3 different meals needing to be served, requiring intense co-ordination and communication to receive top marks. Another level might have the prep station on one moving lorry, while the hobs are on another lorry. The basic controls and isometric view means that the control scheme is simple and easy to learn. The game is easy to learn too, just hard to master. While some games like Mario Party can cause angry glares from your adjacent couch seat, Overcooked could potentially lead to some fiery words when someone (not naming who) burns the kitchen down. But the sense of accomplishment you and your partner will have when you 3 star a space mission, after the 8th try. You will definitely release a sigh of relief and a smile on both your faces.

Overcooked
As an added bonus. This game can be played with up to four players. Making it an ideal double date night game.

WarioWare Smooth Moves (WII)

The Nintendo Wii was an immense success. Everyone and their cat had one. And while nowadays the Wii is looked back on as more of a gimmick console. It still had some stand out games. Nintendo really knew how to market it and get the ‘console for the whole family’ brought to reality. WarioWare Smooth Moves shows this to the fullest. With Wii remote in hand and a visual prompt card on the screen, what follows is an absurd mini game which needs to be completed within seconds with the action shown on the prompt card. If completed successfully, a new prompt card is shown and a new weird mini game lined up. As you complete each mini game they get more difficult and faster until you complete them all or fail. Usually because you chugged the water too quick and drenched your characters face. It always gets me that mini game. With a multitude of modes such as Survival where each person is an angel soaring through the air. You take turns at the random mini games and if you fail one, you descend lower and lower each time until you’re out the match. Or All Mixed Up where all mini games are up for play and you see how long you can go before you lose all 4 lives. This mode in particular is a great; pass the controller party game. I can’t recommend this enough for your SO or even a house party. The simple motion controls and absurdity on screen make for lots and lots of laughter. Here’s a video to show its uniqueness and it speaks for itself.

The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

The Binding Of Isaac Rebirth, Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ are all fantastic versions. I’ve just listed Afterbirth as that’s the one I’m currently playing on PS4. They’re all great and so if you fancy getting it just get whichever version is available on your preferred platform. Afterbirth+ is the latest and has more content than the others so that’d probably be the best version to get. This game is primarily a single player game. It does have a couch co-op option but it’s more of a help option than a 2 player mode. This game is quite dark, has lots of gore and religious themes and so you yourself will have to gauge if this is an appropriate game for your situation. Isaac is a twin stick shooter. Left stick moves and right stick shoots. There are a few other buttons such as ‘use item’ and ‘use a bomb’ but you’ll figure that out when you play. The basics are you pick a character, start a run and are dropped into a randomly generated floor. You then control your character as you battle rooms of monsters and puzzles until you get to the boss of each floor. Defeat the boss, go down another floor and repeat until you either die or you succeed. Along your travels you will find money, keys, bombs to help you on your descent. You will also find items that not only offer new gameplay styles but also visually change your character. Sometimes into a grotesque, demonic child. As I said, the game is randomly generated. Each run is different but pertains to the same structure. And there lies the fun of The Binding Of Isaac. Every time you play is a different experience and although at the start it can be very difficult and confusing. With practice and time you learn the game mechanics and enemy patters. You learn which items to take and which to leave. This is why I recommend this game. To novices Isaac can be very daunting. There are over 300 items in the game and so many mysterious things that even after dozens of hours of playing you won’t have seen them all. Which is why this is the perfect back seat gaming game. Set you SO on a run and provide help. Tell her/him to save that key for the shop. Tell them that Isaac’s Heart is one of the worst items in the game and don’t pick it up.  Let them know the secrets to completing a run that you yourself have learned or are currently figuring out. It’s a great game and topic for discussion. Walking in from work and being told ‘I had a great run as The Lost today. Got to Hush and picked up Bob’s Brain by accident’, that means nothing to you if you haven’t played it. But to me that warrants a ‘Oh. Unlucky. Next time though’. It’s like talking in a secret code and it’s great. Highly recommend as long as it’s themes don’t cause offence.

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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is an isometric, action RPG. You and your partner will pick a class, name your character and begin your quest. With 6 classes to choose from (7 if you get the DLC) you get a myriad of roles to play. Do you be a wizard and attack enemies from afar. Or go the barbarian route and get up close and personal to your foes. With this, a story mode, rare loot drops, randomised rifts to explore and a great online experience. Diablo 3 can keep you engaged for a long, long time. When you’ve levelled up your character as much as you want and got all the gear you’ve hunted for. You can start as a new class. See how that class’s style differs. When you level your characters you unlock access to new skills. What skills you choose is up to you. Communicate with your partner and choose skills that compliment her/his style. As a wizard I would slow enemies down while my partner rushed them as the barbarian. It’s this versatility and range that makes Diablo 3 a great couch co-op game. With tons of difficulties too, which the higher the better as it yields rarer loot. There is even the terrifying (to me anyway) hardcore mode. Which means that if your character dies, then that’s your character gone. Deleted from the system. If you and your partner wish to try this mode then you’re braver than we are. Diablo 3 also has a story which in of itself isn’t anything special. But it’s nice to be able to play a game with your SO that isn’t just mini games or a funny game. This is a fully fleshed game and with its easy to grasp controls and camera view, it makes for many hours of fun co op dungeon crawling.

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This game can be played with up to 4 players. Couch co-op, online or a mixture of the 2.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (PS4, 3DS, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, PlayStation Vita, Switch)

Tetris! Released in 1984, this series has retained it’s addictive quality and basic concept. Shapes fall from the sky and you have to rotate, move and line them up to form rows so that they can disappear and you can rinse and repeat. The game gets speedier and you go until you can’t go anymore. This latest edition combines Puyo Puyo with the chaos for an even more frantic mayhem. Add in competitive multiplayer between friends/SO’s/AI and you have a great party game. Prior to this game I never played Puyo Puyo before but understood its concept. Connect 4 or more Puyos of the same color in a row, vertically or a combination of the 2, to make them disappear. Basically like Tetris except, in Tetris if you clear a line, nothing else happens to your playing field. Puyos on the other hand fall if the ones below them vanish. Which leads to strategies and forward thinking to win.  If you create chain reactions and cause multiple Puyo colors to disappear this sends obstacles to your opponents. Ruining their lavish design that would have rained hell on you, if they got that particular color they needed. With an ample choice of modes you can’t go wrong with this game. Simple controls and mechanics, but a lot to master. Not only do you have Tetris and Puyo Puyo modes but you also have the new Fusion mode. Which combines to the 2 elements for a confusing at first, but addictive mode, if you can grasp the concept. If you aren’t a competitive couple, then you can always team up and take on the computer. Or take turns in seeing who can last the longest in a certain mode. If you like puzzle games then I really recommend checking this game out.

Puyo Puyo

I think that’ll about do it for this post. I have other games in mind but will save them for possibly a sequel to this feature. Thank you for reading and if you wish to suggest any games ideal for discussion then feel free to leave a comment.