Category Archives: other peoples’ stuff

Game review: Magic: The Gathering: Arena (beta for PC)

I actually planned to do a different review this week for Wizard of Legend, but despite feeling like I’ve played it for ages, Steam swears I’ve only been at it 13 hours. So I figure I’ll give it a bit more time before breaking out the gas and matches to burn it to the ground. On the other hand, only being ten hours into the free to play Magic: The Gathering: Arena (A name with way too many colons for my liking), I already know enough to tell you what you need to know about this game. Really, it’s Magic, but in a digital form. If you’ve played Magic anytime in its entire history, you already know what this means, and have already decided if you’re going to go in on this or not. This, then, is the review for the people who somehow missed out on the game for the last 20-some-odd years.

Before I get into it, I should cover some history explaining why I was originally hesitant to play this and explain why I was kind of right to be wary. I got into Magic: The Gathering at the ground floor with the first generation of cards thanks to my roommate Andy. Andy gave me the “first free hit” that pushed me to start buying booster packs, and after a few weeks of trying to make monster decks of ridiculous sizes, I began to instead create smaller 40 card decks comprised of one or two mana colors and with lots of land and low cost spells and creatures. While most of my friends used mega-decks with high cost cards, I could pull up an army while they were still laying out land to pay for their first summons, and I destroyed them most of the time unless I just had a really bad shuffle.

But I reached the point where I was spending all my free money on booster decks. No, I reached the point where food and bills got shuffled to the side to pay for more cards, and recognizing I had an obsession bordering on addiction, I quit the game and gave away all my cards. Five years later, a random co-worker asked if I played Magic, and I said I used to, but couldn’t afford it. So he gave me a deck to play with, and before you can say obsessive compulsive disorder, I was looking at dwindling finances and a binder full of duplicate cards again. So yeah, even in a digital form, I worried that this game might once again bring out the worst in me. To a smaller extent, I can already feel that tug to spend some real cash to get crystals so I can buy booster packs faster. In this way, Magic can be dangerous even if it’s loads of fun. Continue reading

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Game review: Mark of the Ninja Remastered for PS4

Mark of the Ninja dropped a newly remastered edition along with their debut on the Nintendo Switch, (a device I lusted after, but feel less attracted to now that the paid online features have been implemented) and I had vague memories of not liking it. But, my reason then for not liking it was the sales pitch that you could do a fully pacifist run and even get rewarded for it. But in reality, it’s only possible to do said pacifist run in New Game+, and so much of my review on that older version was griping about what I saw as a bait and switch ad. So I thought, “I know I have to kill everything on the first run anyway, so why not buy it again and see it through to the end?”

How does that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’m a complete dumbass who got what I deserved. Because of that, I shall temper my temper and avoid my usual rage filled f-bombing. I did it to myself, knowing what would happen. But I suffered through this, for you. In the words of Courage the Cowardly Dog: “The things I do for love!”

For those of you interested in only the hot take, that’s all folks! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time. Continue reading


Game review: Dead Cells for PC

You probably expected this review to come out sooner, and to be honest, I did too. I’d purchased Dead Cells when it was still in early access. If you know me on Twitter, you know from my rants that I hate early access and refuse to pay to beta test for most companies. But after watching multiple Let’s Play videos and seeing how smooth the game play was, I decided to take a risk and pick the game up early. Before I even get to the proper review, I would like to offer kudos to the developer for releasing an early access product that was fantastically stable. In the thirty hours I played before moving to the full release, I never once had a crash or any kind of glitch. You can’t even see that in many triple A games after their obligatory day one patch.

Once the game went gold, I got a notification in-game that I should start a new game to experience “the full story,” and I did so with much trepidation for reasons I will explain later. From that point forward, I put another seventy-seven hours into the game, for a grand total of 107. So, know this review is coming after much kicking of the virtual tires, and that despite what I’m going to say, I will continue playing the game for a long time after this is published.

So….Dead Cells is a game I’d really like to hate. I can’t because it’s stable, it’s got gorgeous graphics, and fantastic music and sound effects. But I want to hate it because of the controls and because of the absolute pain it was to gather the main tools of movement within the game, runes. I want to hate it because much like Binding of Isaac, success or failure often comes down to the tools randomly doled out to me in the course of a run. I want to hate it because much like Binding of Isaac, so much of my time is spent groaning over bullshit created by RNGesus that it dilutes the times where I am actually enjoying the game.

Don’t get me wrong, on a good run with fun weapons and skills, this is mostly a joy to play. But a bad run will often be followed by another, and another, and given that a run to the last boss takes me around an hour and thirty minutes, those bad runs can often make me feel like I’ve wasted my time for nothing. (Y’all speed runners are probably snickering over my run time, and y’all can bite me.) Continue reading


It’s time to talk about Dark Souls Remastered (On PC)

All right, first let me apologize for the lack of content in forever. I’ve started and given up on three books, two of which were sequels from first books that I loved. We’re still flat broke, so aside from a few indie games that I’m not ready to review yet, I’ve only been playing old games over and over. But as you can probably guess from the title, one of those old games is technically new again.

When Dark Souls Remastered was announced, I restarted the Prepare to Die edition because I was certain a lot of older players would be dusting off their copies to get back in for some practice. I totally called that, for the first time being able to play with a world full of invasions and summon signs. I also got to see once again the WORST parts of the PC port, even with DSFix installed. For me, the single biggest problem was the game hanging in certain places like Quelaag’s Domain. There, I might have the screen freeze for up to five seconds. But the absolute worst place for hanging is the Firesage Demon boss fight, where if I don’t move to the far end of the arena, the game will hang for five to six seconds at a time every ten seconds or so. There are other examples I could give, but these were the most extreme.

I want to address the controversy around the price versus what you get in the remaster, and I want to start by saying that with me already owning the PC port, I got the remaster for half price. To me, all the new version had to do was fix those extreme moments of hang ups and it would be worth twenty euros. Part of this is because I got the PtD version on sale for ten euros. So with the two versions combined, I’m still not up to the forty euro asking price for newcomers or folks converting from a console version. But if you’re among the folks who looked at the new features and fixes and said “This is just DSFix and some minor graphics upgrades for an insane asking price,” I want to say…you’re not wrong. In fact I’ll go so far as to say your anger is justified. This is a lazy, lazy port, so lazy that FromSoftware couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. Continue reading


Game review: Gems of War for Android

Long time no see, right? The move from Milan to Pavia took a lot out of me, and my method of recovery was mostly lounging on the couch playing Bloodborne because it was free with PS Plus, and I figured why not give it another try? And by the way, the new internet connection is so slow that downloading Bloodborne took FOUR DAYS. Obviously, streaming games is going to be out of the question, and that means no PS4 games at all unless I can sort out how to record and upload them. As it is, recording and uploading PC games will have to be limited to around half hour sessions because that tiny ass file will take all day to upload to YouTube and Twitch. *Le Sigh*

(A side note: I apologize to anyone waiting on the remaining episodes of me playing Dark Souls II. I go to upload one, walk away to do other stuff, and come back a few hours later to see Twitch has once again fucked up the upload, so I have to start over…and have it fuck up again. My internet woes are truly terrible right now, let me tell ya.)

My opinion of Bloodborne hasn’t changed with additional runs, by the way. It’s got good bosses and the chalice dungeons are fun, but the vast majority of the game is boring to the point that I can fall asleep while playing it. Of all the FromSoftware games I’ve played, it’s the one I like the least. But hey, I played through all the chalice dungeons with a bloodtinge build, and while it took forever to build up a gun to the point of being actually useful, the end result was a dungeon run that was a literal blast to play. So it’s the same as my review, yeah? A decent time, if you can stomach the grind.

But so…where was I? Right, the review. Before we moved, I got a Kindle Fire tablet to use as a second screen while streaming…and another side note: the Twitch App for android is bjorked and won’t show viewer’s comments or the current stream, so I had to download Firefox for Android to get to the Twitch site. That in itself required a whole other series of workarounds because Amazon tried to lock me out of the Google Play store, and despite Firefox being the defacto browser for most folks on PC, they don’t have it in their store. Can you say oy vey? Because I sure can.

So, Gems of War. I’d heard good stuff about this spiritual successor to Puzzle Quest, and I of course had many good times with Puzzle Quest and Puzzle Quest 2. This would seem like a perfect fit for me, and in small, short doses, it’s not all that bad. But…I don’t like it. I mean, I don’t hate it, either, but the free to play mechanics make any session over an hour into a kind of slow torture, like getting teeth cleaned. At first, it doesn’t seem so bad, but the longer it drags on, the more irritating it becomes. Continue reading


Game review: Dragonball Xenoverse 2 for PC

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but we’re in the process of moving to another town, Pavia, and we also got a new dog. (Well, newish, as he’s four years old.) (Side note to self: I’m gonna have to update all my bios to reflect the change of location and the addition of a new furbaby.) Anyway, it’s high time that I post a new review, and while I haven’t quite finished everything Dragonball Xenoverse 2 has to offer, I’ve seen the end of the story and played all the stages of the newest addition, Hero Colosseum. I’ve played enough to issue a verdict, and also talk about why the end game content is kind of a let down for me. But most of the rest of the review is positive fluffy fluffiness…most of it.

I wanted to get both Xenoverse and Xenoverse 2 earlier, but most reviews that I saw were pretty unkind to them. Steam had a sale on Xenoverse 2, and I figured “Hey, reviews have often failed to take my quirky tastes into account.” So I downloaded it and started with an Earthling who I named Retasu in the spirit of the show’s naming conventions. I also opted to go with a build consisting mostly of melee supers because all the builds I saw on YouTube seemed to go all in on ki blast supers, and I wanted to be different. I’m a rebel, yo. The character creator won’t quite let you get totally crazy, but if you want to make a thic tall chica with purple skin and red eyes, you can do that. It’s certainly got more options than some recent role play games that shall go unnamed.

Depending on your chosen race (earthling, saiyan, majin, namekian, or freiza) you will start the game with a slightly different cut scene, and there are certain quest lines made for your race to unlock their ultimate forms. (Spoiler: earthlings and majin both kinda get fucked on the ultimate form, and of course the saiyans have the bestest forms evah. The frieza golden transformation is pretty good, but I prefer “potential unleashed,” an ultimate transformation open to all races by completing advancement classes with a Z rank.) Within most story or parallel quests, you will even hear dialogue acknowledging your race, which is a nice touch.

But most of the plot is the same regardless of who you fight with. Evil demon scientist Towa has resurrected her ultimate champion Mira, and she’s once again plotting to corrupt the whole history of the Dragonball multiverse. In each era, she’s changed a key fight with a villain, leading to a win for the villain. This somehow releases a bunch of extra energy that Towa collects with the intention of merging the demon dimension with the normal multiverse. (I’m not entirely sure how the collection process works, but given how much energy is spent on the average Dragonball fight, I can get behind the premise that someone wants to harness the leftovers for Eeeeeeeevil.) Continue reading


Bandai Namco, aka: Shut up and take my money!

So, this post has been going around my head for a few weeks now because I’ve been playing Dragonball Xenoverse 2 a lot, and while it isn’t perfect, it certainly has been enjoyable enough for me to consider it well worth the money I paid for it. I started thinking about how many games I’ve bought this year that start with the Bandai Namco logo; there’s God Eater 2: Rage Burst, a trio of 80s arcade ports for my PS4, and I bought all of Dark Souls AGAIN so I could have them on my PC whenever I felt the urge to try a new run in any of them. Today, I saw the teaser trailer for Dark Souls Remastered, and I know that this means I will again be buying another copy for my PS4, even though I’ve already bought the game twice before.

Add in to this the upcoming Code Vein, Dragonball FighterZ, God Eater 3, and another potential new release from FromSoftware and it becomes clear that Bandai Namco is going to be getting the bulk of my gaming budget for the foreseeable future. I really want to talk about this, about why I like so many of their games and like supporting their releases sight unseen where with most other publishers I have to be convinced by reviews and Lets Play videos before I will consider opening my wallet.

First of all, I think a lot of this has to do with my experiences playing games and memorizing who published what. Publishing a game is not the same thing as making it. For instance, Bandai Namco did not make the Dark Souls series. That honor goes to FromSoftware, but Bandai Namco has such an amazing plethora of game companies working with them, and each time I see that logo at the start of a game, it give me a positive impression that I’m going to be playing something good. It might be a fighting game, or an arcade port, or a hack and slash “RPG.” (I still dislike calling these games RPGs because my decisions don’t really alter the story, and I rarely have any sense of agency with my characters. The only role play in them is choosing where to spend my skill points, and while that affects how I fight in the game, it does not change the story or the outcome.) No matter what style of game it is, seeing that logo tells me “This is gonna be something good.” Continue reading