Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Vacation Isle

Your ship sank, your crew is missing, and you’ve washed up on a mysterious island, completely alone. So many questions flood your mind. Where am I? Where’s the rest of the crew, did they make it? This couldn’t be the mysterious Isle of Seiren, could it? Am I stranded? The existential anxiety fades as you begin to look around in awe. This place is beautiful.

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Ask Iwata – Leading With Your Heart

It’s been six years now and I still remember the day he passed away. I was living by myself in a lonely rural town and stumbled on the news in a tweet when I got home. We’d heard that Iwata was sick but the severity of it was not clear until now. It was a massive shock. It felt like I’d lost a family member, except unlike my real parents, Iwata was actually a good person. He had something that I had rarely seen in adults and certainly not leaders. That missing thing was empathy. Empathy for his peers, empathy for his employees, empathy for gamers, and empathy for people who didn’t game. Empathy is one of the most important parts of being human, our species simply wouldn’t survive without it. Yet, it is barely taught or understood.

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – The Power of Technology

What would you do if you heard a great calamity was on the way? Nothing, probably. Where’s the evidence, a time traveling mini robot? Pfftt, you just want my data. Nobody would believe it. Thankfully this is a videogame free of narcissism with a cast of heroes, royals, and eccentric warriors who are keen for adventure. Enter the Age of Calamity.

(Zelda is visibly shaken by the watermark that Koei Tecmo decided to put on all of their Switch screenshots. So many scenes ruined. Nevertheless, all screenshots were taken on my Switch in docked mode.)

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Super Mario 64 – Still Wallkicking

Good afternoon, Lakitu. It’s good to know that whether the year is 1996 or 2021, he’s still reporting live. Indeed times have changed, but this game really does still inspire a sense of wonder in its own little time capsule. I’ve started a new playthrough for the first time in years (in 3D All-Stars) and the experience has been so valuable I had to write about it. So many things about Super Mario 64 are still great, and its flaws make me thankful for where gaming is now.

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Project Triangle Strategy – Field Report

The last Nintendo Direct initiated a surprise attack. While Square-Enix is running Octopath Traveler into the ground with a low-budget mobile outsourced exclusive prequel cash-grab, the developers of the original game have moved onto a brand new project in what they call the “2D-HD” series. Project Triangle Strategy has a similar rich pixel art style to Octopath but the genre has shifted to strategy. Even though it’s not releasing until 2022, they dropped a juicy demo to give us a taste of war.

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Project Warlock – Shooty Newman McRetro

I’m here to play games and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of retro-themed non-linear FPS games. Oh wait, just found one. Hold the bubblegum! I’ve got some GAMING to do.

Project Warlock immediately impresses with a crunchy badass guitar riff, with tons of options on the main menu to make you feel like you’re about to order an explosive meal at the Mayhem Diner. The gameplay feels right at home with other 90s FPS games like Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, but the graphics take some getting used to. Unlike other FPS that imitate this style in actual retro engines (like Ion Fury in Build), this game is made in the more modern engine Unity. It has a cel-shaded outline with more of a Minecraft or Dragon Quest feel. It took me a while to get used to, but it runs well and allows for some impressive lighting effects and colours that really pop like candy. Candy popcorn. Bubblegum you can swallow.

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Daylife in Japan – Lo-Fi Jigsaw Jams

This title stuck out to me while I was browsing the eShop in a daydream state. Daylife in Japan… yeah that’s somewhere I want to be. Oh, it’s a jigsaw puzzle game? I almost lost interest but after watching the trailer I was sold. It had a comfy animated pixel art street vibe and the music was relaxing and thoughtful. Perfect. It’s not often I would buy a game on the aesthetic presentation alone, but for $1.50 why not?

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Timespinner – ChronoTriggerVania

What if you could travel back in time and warn humanity about global warming, pandemics, toxic waste and growing oppressive capitalism? That’s right… nobody would listen and you’d be thrown in a mental ward with bad conditions. But what if you also had platforming skills and magic?! Heck yeah, you could just solve the problem yourself! In Timespinner we’re about to do exactly that.

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Ion Fury – Cyberpunk 2095

The year is 2095 and Betamax Tapes are back in fashion. Cyber punks have gone rogue on the streets, somehow overthrowing the police, military, the CIA and all the world’s power structures by strafing left and right and looking intimidating. What else is back in fashion? Old school build-engine FPS games. Ion Fury takes all the nostalgia and design structure that make classic FPS so great, and unchains them with modern console technology. This allows for massive levels, more defined gunplay, accurate hitboxes, and significantly more objects on screen at once. Does all of this make the game more fun, however?

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Whipseey and the Lost Atlas – Good Enough

Whoopsee, the word you say when you’ve just bought a one dollar eShop game and the existential guilt washes over you. Oh sorry, I meant to say Whipseey. Everything is fine here. We’re jumping right into the depths of the Nintendo Switch library now. I love platformers so I took the plunge on this when it was on sale for a dollar. Aesthetically it looks like a Kirby clone but the feel is more like a Game Boy Mario game if he had a whip. This game has 5 worlds so I’m going to make this review 5 paragraphs.

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GRID 2019 – Cherry Blossom Burst DX

GRID is back! But what is this? A remake of the first game? Nope, this is a brand new entry in the series that they didn’t bother to name. Prince of Persia (2008), Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Doom (2016) didn’t annoy people enough it seems. You can’t always judge a game by its cover, but the identity crisis runs deep in this one. With less content than previous GRID games, just why should you pick this up? I’m going to solve this problem right now and give you a reason. I am renaming this game to GRID Seasons: Cherry Blossom Burst DX. You’re welcome, Codemasters.

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Super Metroid – Highway to Hell

I’m losing health every second but I’ve never felt so alive and focused. Here I am facing my greatest challenge with no suit, no credentials, just a handful of missiles and my wits. The only way I can get through this is with consistent movement and execution. Any mistakes I make will cost time and energy to get to the next health refill. I can’t look back, only forward. It’s all or nothing, and I’m all out of nothing.

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The Crown Tundra – Lost in the Land of Snom

We’re almost there Bolty, there’s gotta be a town nearby… it says right here on the map “Freezington”. Or was it just freezing a ton? This map is a bit worn… and not even filled in properly. That tree looks a bit like a rude object. The person at the train station said it wasn’t far though. It’s getting colder but when we find shelter I’ll make you some nice soup, Bolty. Oops, bumped into a trainer, sorry mate. I swear sometimes it’s like they teleport out of nowhere. Nah, just the thick snow. Can you tell me how to get to Freezington? They didn’t answer but gave me a packet of hot sauce and ran away. Okay, bye. Hmmm, maybe English isn’t the native language? I gave Boltund the sauce and we kept going. We were on our last legs when finally…

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Resident Evil Zero – The Story Journalists Wouldn’t Cover

How do you explore the origins of a pandemic? Play a survival horror videogame from 2002 of course! Resident Evil Zero was once contained to a small proprietary GameCube disc, but now the whole world can learn the truth. The last pure traditional Resident Evil game has now been re-released on every modern console in HD widescreen.

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Visions of an Apocalypse

I began writing this post, a review of two (now three) games that dealt with the end of the world about a year ago. In what remains of the draft, I had the line; “it’s the end of the decade, we don’t have time for details.” Eerily prophetic because in the time since the world really is ending and it’s doing so as T. S. Elliot suggested, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

As a species, we have been contemplating the end times since the beginning times. Poems, films, video games, even whole religions are based around imagining what it will be like when there no coming back, when progress reverses and we enter terminal decline. Something I’ve been thinking about, during our very real unfolding apocalypse, is that I need to finish things I start because at some point, this is all going to come to an end. So here’s three short reviews of three short games and their take on the end of the world.

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