February didn’t just come and go in a flash, it was a month where I started planning my first PC build. That’s the subject for another post entirely and I’ll bring up why, exactly I’m going to take a more series look at PC gaming later on in this post. For now though, I’m going to talk about the games that I’ve played during this past month. My list is a little bit deceptive this month; I feel like there’s a lot there that I didn’t really play for one reason or another. My game time in February was really dominated by a couple of games despite everything else I’ve listed. So here’s the list:
(Vivi can take on Metal Gear, no problem)
Now that the hype cycle is well and truly over, I can confidently say that I am a casual Smash player. I don’t see myself picking up any of the DLC characters because of how little time I spend playing Smash overall. I’m ready to stop calling Smash 3DS my favorite entry in the series, Ultimate is definitely my favorite but, there’s just not enough here that makes me want to keep going in and playing. I have tried the online finally but my connection is so hit-and-miss (especially in docked mode) that I couldn’t get into it even if I was more engaged by it. There are still a lot of characters who I need to finish Classic mode as but out of them, I’m only really interested in playing through as one or two more. I still like the Spirits mode but only in short bursts since it’s starting to feel repetitive without much in the way of a reward for completion. Smash Ultimate is still in my Switch but it won’t be for much longer. I have an incomplete Pyromancer run waiting for me in Dark Souls and another recent Switch release has me far more captivated than Ultimate.
I’ve been playing a lot of Dark Souls III this past month and unlike my first impressions from my last monthly blog, I definitely feel stronger hints of Demon’s Souls now even if I can’t quite put my finger on why or how. Since last month I’ve found that Iudex Gundir was something of an outlier when it comes to overall boss difficulty. I was killed a handful of times by bosses like The Abyss Watchers, the Crystal Sage and, the Curse-Rotted Greatwood but the only other boss to have given me as much trouble as Gundir has been the Dancer of the Boriel Valley, whom I still haven’t been able to defeat after over 15 attempts. As for Lothric itself, I have enjoyed the way each area is large and open despite being somewhat confused on where to go next. Not that being lost in Lothric is a terrible thing: the world of Dark Souls III is gorgeous but unfortunately, since I’m playing on a base PS4, I’ve noticed a lot of pop-in and instances where elements of the environment are being culled when they really shouldn’t be; resulting in me getting a good look at out-of-bounds spaces from time to time. I’m definitely going to play this game through to the end but in a way, this is the game that made me resolve to build a gaming PC. Once my refund hits and I actually build my first gaming PC, I’ll be double-dipping and annoying everybody with the results.
(Stop me if you've seen this one before...)
Don’t Shit Your Pants and Devil May Cry 5 are games that I spent very, very little time with this past month. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Don’t Shit Your Pants is a text-based puzzle game that’s free to play on Newgrounds.com.
You’ll need to enable flash to play the game and I strongly recommend everybody play it. It’s a quick game, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to fully complete and you might even find it as funny as I did. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play it because it didn’t register when I would hit either of my ‘enter’ keys. As for Devil May Cry 5, I downloaded the demo and played about 10 minutes of it before I shut it off and deleted it. I’m probably the only one who feels like this but Dante moved slowly, the combat felt slow and unsatisfying and, I was just absolutely bored by it. I might have missed it on the menus but I couldn’t find the dodge command which annoyed me since I recall dodging in the original DMC. I also recall playing the original DMC for about an hour before I stopped playing due to acute boredom.
I was so bored by the slow, monotonous, pace of Devil May Cry 5 and I had such a strong desire to play something on PC that I booted up Brutal Doom. This is a game that I’ve had on my PC for a couple of years and a game that I go back to every so often when I want something quick and dumb to play for fun. At its core, Doom is a game that I have a lot of fun with but the addition of secondary fire options, new weapons, new graphics and effects makes Brutal Doom the only version I play if I play Doom at all. If you’ve checked my profile page recently, you may have noticed that I have my current PC specs listed. What I have now is good enough to play Brutal Doom adequately but not optimally. There were times when my frame rate dropped to the level of a slide-show and it wasn’t just during instances where I filled a screen with particle effects, blood and, giblets. The slowdown isn’t a deal breaker for me, at least it isn’t yet, but this is another game that I’m probably going to gush about much, much more often in a few weeks.
There was finally a Nintendo Direct this past month and an hour after the show, Nintendo launched some software which I couldn’t download quickly enough. Before the February Direct, there was speculation that one of the previously announced Final Fantasy titles might be launched during or shortly after the live video began. Most people agreed that Final Fantasy VII would launch first, an estimate that seemed likely considering footage of Final Fantasy VII running on Switch was used in a recent Nintendo Switch commercial. Luckily for me, the best Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IX, was launched one hour after the February Direct. When I’m not playing Dark Souls III, I’m playing FInal Fantasy IX. At the moment, I’ve accessed the Blue Narciss and am making my way back to the Black Mage Village to see what their deal is with Kuja. That’s what I should be doing but what I’m actually doing is catching up on Chocobo Hot and Cold, my favorite mini-game/side quest in the Final Fantasy franchise. I’ve played through Final Fantasy IX numerous times and so far I’m enjoying this port of it although I’m disappointed to report that it’s soft-locked on me three times so far, requiring me to reboot the software. I also dislike how easy it is to enable cheats through the start menu but I understand that some people might like to use them to expedite their journey through the narrative. I foresee myself using cheats during a future playthrough to obtain the Excalibur II, an item that I consider to be unobtainable otherwise.
(Also, there are weird graphical hiccups)
Tetris 99 was another game launched shortly after the February Nintendo Direct. Unfortunately, thanks to my shoddy internet connection, I haven’t been able to play it too many times. At my best, I’ve finished as a rank 5 but I usually get knocked out quickly either by more talented players or by unreliable internet waves. I enjoy Tetris and the idea of a puzzle-based Battle Royal is pretty incredible but I don’t see myself playing too much more of 99.
The other two bits of software I downloaded promptly after the Nintendo Direct were both demos: One for Daemon X Machina and one for Pokemon Let’s Go! The Daemon X Machina demo features four missions, with the first two feeling like simple tutorials. You’re also given the opportunity to create your mech pilot before beginning the game. During missions, you can find new components that can be applied to your mech and after completing each mission you’re given some cash that can be used to buff up the pilot. Like with G Gundam, it seems like buffing the pilot buffs the mech. The final mission in the demo is against a massive boss and while it looks good, I don’t feel like there’s enough feedback while fighting the larger enemies. An HP bar would help but the screen already feels cluttered by your HUD. Another aspect of Daemon X Machina that I’m confused by is the combat itself, since it seems like your automatically attack once you’re locked onto a target but you can also attack manually. I’m curious to see what Daemon Ex Machina becomes in the coming months and ended my time with the demo feeling optimistic and positive. As for the Pokemon Let’s Go demo, I utterly despised it. What I hate about Nintendo is how adamant they are about players playing games the way they, Nintendo, want and no other way. Catching Pokemon with motion controls just doesn’t work for me: Carefully aiming at a Pokemon and flicking my Joycon directly at it causes my Pokemon to fly to the left of the screen. Aiming to the right of my screen and trying again causes the Pokemon to fly even further to the left somehow. Admittedly, I didn’t try Let’s Go in handheld mode but I was already feeling sour towards the game after my first wild Pokemon encounter. I engaged in one trainer battle and that was fine but the core of the game seems to be catching Pokemon and I just can’t make that work for me. Hopefully Sword and Shield keep motion controls out of its gameplay but if it doesn’t, I’m hoping they give players the option to turn it off.
(I make my own Waifu)
I can’t tell you what was launched on the Famicom and NES App this month without checking the app. I remember playing an engaging Sumo game on the Famicom app and Kirby’s Adventure on the NES app but this made up less than a half-hour of my game time this past month. I’m going to break my list order to talk about the other two demos I played this month: Yoshi’s Crafted World is perhaps the most adorable game I’ve ever played. The creative type in me is compelled to try to recreate the demo level using old milk and cookie cartons and other craft things since it seems much more doable than recreating the Yarn Yoshi or Kirby levels. I was incredibly charmed by Crafted World but I had to remind myself that adorable graphics wasn’t enough to get me through Wooly World on the Wii U. Then again, I don’t remember being as engaged by Wooly World back when that game was new. The final demo I played this month was for Langrisser I and II which I downloaded from the Japanese eShop. If you’ve never heard of it, Langrisser seems to be a lot like Fire Emblem but with more of an emphasis on building up and controlling squads of warriors. I think: this game is entirely in Japanese strangely enough so I really couldn’t play this game at all.
When Nintendo started rolling out cheaper reprints of their best selling 3DS games, I thought it would only be a matter of time before Star Fox 64-3D would be reissued. It only took Nintendo 7 years but I can finally buy Star Fox 64 on the 3DS for less than $35. Star Fox 64 is a game that I feel very nostalgic and warm towards so it’s great that I can play through it again. It’s a quick game to play through and as easy as it is to pick up and play, it’s not a game that I can say I’ve ever mastered. Then again, when I do play it, I never really feel too compelled to go for flatout mastery: I just run through the campaign naturally, feel satisfied and, go on to a different game for a while. The 3DS version offers a 3DS mode and an N64 mode but I couldn’t really see much difference in either mode. There is a gyroscope-based aiming feature in Star Fox 64 3D but I couldn’t turn that thing off quickly enough. I played with the 3D slider on and I thought the effect works really nicely in this game but adding motion controls on top of that just seems like a horrible idea to me and that’s even if I COULD use motion controls. Star Fox on the Super Nintendo was great and Star Fox 64 is also great: The 3DS version definitely feels like the definitive version of the game and it makes me feel a little bit more bitter at Zero innovating controls instead of forwarding the overall plot or characters in a way that Assault did over a decade ago.
February always seems to slip by quickly and this year was no different. I enjoyed my time with a lot of what I played this month and next month I’m going to continue talking about Final Fantasy and Dark Souls. I also fully expect to bore and annoy all of you with how great PC games are next month if I’m not already annoying you with how great I assume they are. Other than that I think I can play the first chapter of Deltarune this month, I’m very excited about Ape Out, I’m hoping Untitled Goose Game wasn’t delayed by too many additional weeks and, I could just replay Final Fantasy VII on Steam rather than getting it on Switch.