Happy New Year everybody! December is always a busy, busy month for me; not only is there all of the last minute shopping that needs to be done, and people who need to be visited. Not only am I stuck in retail Hell, but I also like to go back and play games that I’ve played during previous months of the year! I had an opportunity to actually play games that launched this year in an attempt to really give myself a chance to formulate a top-10 list for 2019. Unlike last year though, most of what I’ve played this month has been new to me instead of December being a recap-month. Some of what I played this month has been a throw-back sure, but there’s a lot of stuff in here that was new to me. Anyway, here’s my December list:
(It's not the best choice, it's Spacer's Padoru...er, choice)
So who’s heard of Tamashii? It launched on Steam back in March and I picked it up for cheap during one of the Steam sales that recently happened. It’s a 2D platformer where you play as an unnamed soul with a large head, who’s being manipulated by their creator and the witch who they’ve been tasked to bring down. In order to defeat the witch and please your creator, you need to navigate a twisted cathedral, solve platforming puzzles, endure jump scares, and disturbing imagery. The platforming in Tamashii is fairly challenging, with certain standard puzzles being challenging enough that I had to step away from the game a few times and take a break before trying again. As you get to the end of each of stage, there’s usually a boss encounter. Sometimes you’re made to create clones of yourself to fight back, sometimes the boss is an instant-death wall chasing you through a tough platforming challenge, and there’s even a bullet-hell style boss fight. Tamashii also has more than one ending which changes depending on what you collect. Tamashii is normally $5 on Steam, it took me about 4 hours to get to the ending (one of the better endings if not the true ending), and I would absolutely recommend it if you’re into challenging platformers.
I was curious about Wounded and put it on my wishlist around Halloween-time. What really piqued my interest was the negative steam reviews that specifically said Wounded isn’t Outlast, therefore bad. I’ve never played Outlast, but based on what I’ve seen, it’s built around jumpscares. Wounded looks like it’s built more around atmosphere and as I played it this month, it definitely tries to build an oppressive atmosphere. Unfortunately, I only played Wounded for about 45 minutes because it just didn’t do anything for me. You start off in your home, where you interact with some things, go outside, have a nap, go inside and marvel as your home floods. I recall there being a shipwreck, a short beach trip, then being in a motel. There’s some fairly easy puzzling to restore power to the motel and thus, gain access to its interior. While you’re inside the motel, you find the combination to a lock that opens up a room and fuses to restore power to specific rooms. It’s around this time that your first enemy encounter happens. What made me stop playing is how non-threatening the skinless monster was: It seems to see me even while I’m hidden, and it runs directly towards me at speed. The NPC isn’t solid though, I run right through it and into another section of the Motel where it should be able to follow me but doesn’t for whatever reason. Wounded isn’t Outlast, but it isn’t Amnesia: The Dark Descent either, so I don’t see myself giving it another chance any time soon. It looks great, and it’s usually less than $10 on Steam, but it just didn’t scare or satisfy me.
Blood: Fresh Supply is the remaster of the classic first-person shooter from the 90’s of the same name. I never played this as a kid because I didn’t know it existed, but it’s definitely something I would have enjoyed. I loved playing Duke Nukem 3D and Blood seems to have been made on the same engine. Unlike Duke Nukem 3D though, Blood has more of a horror theme: You play as an undead, and you’re fighting against other undead. I played Blood for only about half an hour this month, so there’s a lot that I’m still not sure about with this game. There’s no mighty boot, but the first weapon you find is a pitchfork which acts as your melee attack. You pick up dynamite, which function as the pipe bomb. The first gun you get is a flare gun, and the first standard gun you find is a shotgun. I like how most weapons have two ways of attacking, but I didn’t spend too much time playing Blood this month because other games took my attention. Like with Duke 3D, Blood is the kind of game that I could put on and play for a few minutes, then be satisfied for however long. It’s not something that I can play for long stretches of time, but it’s something that I can always happily play for a little bit of time. I wish I played this as a kid instead of Redneck Rampage...
Star Wars: Dark Forces is exactly the same as Blood: I can play Dark Forces in short bursts and be happy about it. Indeed, Dark Forces is another game that I’ve been playing on and off since I was a child. I originally played it on the Playstation, but the version I’m playing now is the Steam release. The second stage is a pain in the ass because of narrow platforms, but I know that the actual skill wall is ahead. I’ve never actually made it past the IG-88 fight, but I think my odds are going to be better when I get to it this time. It may not be canon anymore, but I’ve been enjoying the story of Kyle Katarn and how he helped during the war against the Empire. This is another game that’s really affordable on Steam, and another game that I would highly recommend. There was a moment this month where I was bored and looking up lore surrounding this game. The plot of Dark Forces centers around Kyle Katarn trying to stop The Empire from mass producing Dark Troopers. Looking at the Dark Trooper designs made me think of another PC game and surprisingly, Dark Forces launched first. Fallout, the punchline is Fallout: Phase 2 Dark Troopers look just like T-51b Power Armor, but colored differently, and phase 3 Dark Troopers look like Brotherhood X-01 Power Armor.
(::DEATH IS PREFERABLE TO REBELLION::)
JUMP! Force is the third entry in a series of Smash-lite fighting games which used to reside on the Nintendo DS. This is the first entry to launch in the United States, the first to be in 3D, the first on a home console, and the first that disappointed me. I wouldn’t call JUMP! Force a bad game, it’s just not what I was expecting. When you first boot the game up, you’re prompted to make a character and launched into the story mode, where you learn that malevolent cubes are turning familiar characters of Shonen JUMP Magazine into planet-destroying menaces to society. On the one hand, I like the idea that I can create a personalized avatar who can throw Kamehameha-Waves and also use Hokuto Shinken. On the other hand, the main reason I wanted to play JUMP! Force was because I wanted to beat the snot out of Boruto using Kenshiro, Yugi Moto, and Yusuke Yurameshi. It took me about a half hour to get to that point, and I was happy to see that I could also play as Deku, Ryu Saeba, and Pegasus Knight without having to unlock them specifically from the story mode. The story itself didn’t really engage me: I preferred JUMP! Ultimate’s presentation more since the premise of that game is that you’re just putting together a Doujinshi. JUMP! Force creates villains who I just don’t care about, and a story that I also didn’t care about. Another minor, subjective criticism I have is how a lot of the characters just look...off. Goku for example has massive hands and I think his arms are disproportionately long. What made me stop playing the story mode was a mission where I was made to fight the Elder Toguro. After I beat him, I was made to fight him a second time, this time his power level was higher and I won by the skin of my teeth. There was a third fight again him, a fight that I should have lost. The fourth fight against him was the one where I lost, but by then I had access to the characters I wanted to play as anyway.
What made me stop playing JUMP! Force in general though was the realization that this game is essentially just Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 but with a wider cast of characters. As you fight with certain characters, they gain experience points and level up, thus making them more powerful. Various challenges and missions have level recommendations, so if you try taking on a high level mission, you’re likely going to lose by virtue of having significantly lower numbers than your competition. The controls are also very similar: light attack, powerful attack, hold a trigger to power up, hold a trigger and use a face-button to use a special ability...It got fairly tedious sooner than I expected. I haven't gone back to the story mode, and I don't see myself going back to it any time soon. I got what I wanted out of JUMP! Force, and it’s definitely a game that I would pick up again before Dissidia NT or Xenoverse 2, but it’s not a game I’m going to be picking up again for a while.
Halo: Reach originally launched on the Xbox 360 nine years ago, and this past month it launched on Steam for PC! Unlike Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, this version of Reach doesn’t offer a complete graphical overhaul, but the frame rate was increased compared to its original release. The presentation is fantastic, but I remember really liking the presentation nearly 10 years ago before I was tainted by my decent PC and felt the touch of frame rate snobbery. I’ve played through the Reach campaign multiple times, but when I’m not doing that I’ve spent a lot of time playing SWAT. I can’t wait for more of the Master Chief Collection to launch on Steam, but for the time being Reach has been a massive time sink for me this month. I’m hoping to unlock the EOD helmet before the end of the month; I want to look like a Stormtrooper when I go on my Legendary run.
(This is what I was looking for, now to stumble my way through Legendary!)
Devolver Bootleg is a collection of popular indie games under the Devolver Digital banner. It launched during E3 and the base price is $5, but I still waited for a price drop before I picked up a copy of my own. I see it as a rough demo for games that I don’t have, but also as a rough retelling of games I’ve already played through. Luftrausers is here, and that’s a game that I played a lot of back when I owned a PC that was essentially made of cheese. Bootleg Luftrauser (titled Luftrouser 3) offers the same 2D gameplay, but with speed and movement restrictions, not to mention the visuals which look as though they come from much older hardware. The Hotline Miami bootleg (titled, Hotline Milwaukee) looks and plays similar to the original, but again at a slower pace and with far more conservative graphics. The Ape Out bootleg (titled Ape Out Jr.) is completely different, playing more like Donkey Kong Jr. on the NES rather than the very Hotline Miami-like original. Devolver Bootleg definitely feels like a joke game first and foremost, and this is highlighted by the number of achievements that task players with doing mundane things an extreme number of times (like opening the main menu a thousand times). I think I have a better idea of what Enter the Gungeon and Downwell are now that I’ve played their bootleg versions (Enter the Gun Dungeon, and Shootyboots respectively), but for the most part paying for Devolver Bootleg feels like I paid to be openly laughed at by Devolver Digital themselves.
Speaking of being laughed at by Devolver Digital, I bought and put about half an hour into Pathologic this month. The main reason I didn’t put too much time into it is because I knew from early on that I would need to dedicate a lot of time into it if I wanted to get the most out of it. I didn’t trust myself to dedicate the time needed into it though, so I only played enough to familiarize myself with the controls, look at some impossible architecture, and get told to go to several different homes so I could get entry to the one that I actually needed to get to. What made me buy this game, and what made me interested to begin with, were video essays by HBomberguy and Chris Davis on Youtube. The former released a 2 hour video on Pathologic, the later, an hour long video on Pathologic 2, but they were enough to convince me to give the franchise a shot. I like how weird the world is, and the atmosphere is definitely oppressive I just don’t have the time or focus to give Pathologic the time it deserves right now. Furthermore, the video essays I listened to completely spoiled the story for me.
I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild on and off since it launched. This month, I would go back to it and wander around Hyrule for short bursts of time when I needed to wind-down. I hate how you only get one save per profile, but it’s an easy enough thing to work around that I would consider it a minor complaint. I haven’t done anything too serious during my play sessions; the most significant thing I’ve done is solving the puzzle that unlocks the shrine at the base of the tower near the desert (I understand how vague that sounds, and I understand that I could be talking about one of several shrines. I’m bad at names, I’m sorry). I’ve said a lot about Breath of the Wild months, if not years ago, now at this point: It’s probably my favorite Switch exclusive and it’s a title that I’m always going to return to from time to time. I already know what awaits me in the basement of Hyrule castle, but I'm still surprised by how much I find by just taking a stroll around the fields.
Pokemon Moon is another older game that I’ve gone back too, and a game that I talked about last month. Not a lot has changed though since I’m playing it at a really slow pace. My Goomy is still a Goomy (though it’s closing in on the big four, oh), my Metang is still a Metang, and I’m still considering Glaceon as my main partner. If I didn’t mention it last month, I want to make it clear that I hate Sophocles and I hate his Pokemon Plaza thing. I had also forgotten about Wicke, which is unusual for me since I generally keep R34 characters in mind and she is definitely R34-friendly. Anyway, I’ve got nothing else...I briefly considered swapping out my Vikavolt for an Elekid, but it’s easier for me to just stick with what I’ve got. I spent most of December 26th watching my girlfriend play Pokemon Shield, and that was enough to get me interested in buying into that generation. Not immediately, but maybe for my birthday or if I get a tax refund.
(Still one of my favorite Pokemon)
I won a copy of Azure Reflections a month or so ago, but I didn’t play it. I tried to play it, but I made the mistake of remapping some keys to the point that I made this Bullet-Hell game a literal Hell for me to play. I’m hoping an uninstall/reinstall fixes the issue, but I’m also very much distracted by other games.
The Outer Worlds was probably my most anticipated game of 2019, and it’s one of the best examples of keeping your expectations low so you can either be right or pleasantly surprised. There’s a terrible video by youtuber Neverknowsbest which talks about how mediocre the game is, and a much better video by Chris Davis that says a lot of the same things but without the official Video Essayist Voice™. I have a lot of negative things to say about The Outer Worlds too. Enemy variety is lackluster for example. There aren’t many differences between the beasts and people you fight. They’re mostly quadrupedal, they either stay back and spit acid at you (or throw rocks, or shoot), or they rush and attack you with teeth and claws. Marauders seem to come from nowhere and lack any context or origin. The optimization on the base PS4 is terrible, with very long load times, graphical pop-in, that weird effect where, if you move too fast you can see a vague after image of assets like door frames, or your own gun model, and even an instance where the game paused to load in an area I had run through, as I was running through it (maybe these issues don’t exist on the PS4Pro, or PCs). Despite those issues though, I kept going back to The Outer Worlds because I really enjoyed the writing, the way you build your playable character seems to matter when it comes to dialog options and game progression, and the general world building has really interested and engaged me. Combat is also satisfying to play through; you may be in space, in the future, but none of the weapons pew-pew, instead they boom and the enemies seem to take a massive impact when they’re hit. I’ve really enjoyed helping my engineer Parvati prepare for a date. I’ve really enjoyed walking in on my modified cleaning robot and my ship AI...fraternizing. I like how nobody seems to be straight-up evil too. Every time I meet a new character, I love just talking to them and getting their opinion on The Board, the town they live in, and even the food. By the end of The Outer Worlds, I knew I did some horrible things but I was never called ‘evil’. I was shown my impact on the world in more ways than I expected, and I seem to have gotten one of the most positive endings I could have. The Outer Worlds feels a lot like the original Assassins Creed to me though, in that this first entry of the franchise is definitely rough, but the next one will improve upon it in every way. Maybe The Outer Worlds 2 will make Tossball cards worth something, or provide more than just a handful of Science weapons. Maybe the next game in the series, or the upcoming DLC, will introduce better companion characters. With the groundwork set we hopefully won’t have to wait too long for The Outer Worlds 2.
("You would never ask if you knew what it was like in here.")
I beat Opus Magnum this month. No, I did not complete the Journal puzzles, although I did figure out four of them. No, I did not complete the post-story chapter of the main game, but I did see the end credits. No, I did not create my own puzzles to post up on the Steam Workshop, nor did I try any player created ones. I wanted to finish the story mode, and I threw myself at those challenges in a huge way this month. I wish I was able to compare my solutions with people who I know, but the friends I have on Steam aren’t as massive nerds as I am. Based on the score card once you finish a puzzle though, my solutions from about chapter 4 onward were definitely poorly optimized, large, and expensive, but they worked dammit. I will always recommend people give Opus Magnum a try, it’s usually $20 but it took me about 35 hours to finish the main portion of the game. It’s definitely challenging, but the open-endedness of the challenges make this an incredibly replayable title, and a competitive one at that if you have friends to compare yourself to.
During the Destructoid Secret Santa event, I was gifted the Collection of Mana! The cartridge collects Final Fantasy Adventure (or Mystic Quest if you’re a European, or Seiken Densetsu if you’re a Japanese), Sword of Mana (or Seiken Densetsu II if you’re the Japanese), and Trials of Mana (or, What the Hell is this? If you’re not a Nipponjin). Final Fantasy Adventure was one of my favorite game boy games before Pokemon launched, and I like to play it from time to time for a booster shot of nostalgia, but for the most part I’ve been playing Trials of Mana. I know very little of this game, so I’ve consulted a guide a couple of times before choosing to make things difficult for myself and making my party with the black mage, the thief, and the amazonian dragoon. Getting around in Trials of Mana is fairly straight-forward, but I can’t help but feel like there’s either input lag or just general lag while playing. Pausing the game and moving around the in-game menu screens takes a long time, and attacking enemies isn’t as quick as I would have expected. It definitely injects some challenge into the experience though, which I appreciate, but if this is actually an optimization issue that would just be baffling to me. Speaking of difficulty, Trials of Mana does not mess around; The first boss is a giant enemy crab, and it kicked my ass a few times before I leveled up enough to take it down. Once I did that though, and found my third party member, and learned a magic spell, the difficulty finally began to decrease a little bit. In fact, the difference in difficulty between the first boss and the second (a pair of armored things) is so vast that I was a bit surprised that the second boss encounter was a boss fight at all. I’m not very far beyond that second boss fight, but I’m excited to see where the game goes from here: I like how the day/night cycle is used in the plot and I’m wondering what other aspects of the game and its world may intertwine.
During the Game Awards, a number of upcoming games were made available to play but I only indulged in two of the demos available and funnily enough, the Skatebird demo felt more like a pre-alpha than the actual pre-alpha that I played afterward. Skatebird is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a game about skateboarding but you play as a little bird and seemingly everything is to scale. The ramps and half-pipe is made up of magazines, and the demo seems to take place on a coffee table. I only played for about 15 minutes though because the demo was so rough I accidentally broke it. If you’ve ever played a Tony Hawk game (like the Pro Skater series or the Underground games) than Skatebird is going to feel very familiar: hit the bottom face button (X, A, etc) to jump, hit the top face button to grind on rails, kick-flip to combo, get big score. It’s a very familiar kind of gameplay, but it’s still rewarding to pull off a successful trick combo and amass all of the points in the world. I look forward to playing Skatebird again in the future when the physics and collision detection work.
The upcoming remake of the first System Shock was the other demo I played during the Game Awards demo weekend extravaganza, and despite calling itself a pre-alpha it definitely felt like it was more firmly constructed than the Skatebird demo. I didn’t fall through any of the floors or walls so that’s a good start, there was no noticeable input lag, which is also great, and I was murdered by The Borg. That was unfortunate but I’m not going to knock points off of the demo for that since Picard was also defeated by The Borg once, and nobody blames him for that (except Sisko I guess, but I’m still in season 1 of that series). I’ve never played the original System Shock, but I understand that it’s a role playing game, despite its first person presentation. The demo for the remake definitely feels more action oriented than what I would expect for an RPG, but given the context of the situation it makes sense. I’m just not sure how my player character is going to develop as the plot unfolds and what kind of options will be available to me. I recall System Shock 2 opening with your character going to an academy before the game properly begins. I’m hoping that as this remake develops more HUD elements are introduced, because I had no idea that the gun I picked up had finite ammo until after I ran out of it. I look forward to see how System Shock R develops over the next few months. I really enjoyed the demo, though maybe not so much that I’m willing to try running through the original release.
I remember the original release of Resident Evil 2 as one of the biggest events in gaming at the time. I didn’t actually play it until it launched on the Nintendo 64, but it was definitely a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, as time went on, I lost touch with the Resident Evil franchise. I didn’t care enough about Resident Evil VII to buy into it, the remake of Resident Evil didn’t do much for me, and when I saw that Resident Evil 2 was being remade I was curious, but I wouldn’t say I was anticipating it. I played the Raccoon Police Station demo earlier this month on PC, and I was blown away by the fact that a demo well and truly sold me on a game. RE2 looks fantastic on PC, and I love how connected the police station feels now that I don’t have to go through a loading screen every time I open a door. At first I was annoyed when I capped a zombie in the face and it kept coming at me, but that kind of thing amps up the tension and this is supposed to be a horror game after all. I also appreciate the subversive touches added into this version meant to throw off people like me who played the original: like that one memorable window where I expected to see something sinister slink by, but instead there was nothing. The Steam Sale is still going on, so I went and bought the full version. I started a run as Leon and against all odds, I survived the gas station and made it into the Police Station. I’m currently cowering in the photo lab safe room, considering what I’ll be doing next. The zombies in the full version of the game are taking a lot more damage than I was expecting, and I’ve already run out of ammunition once; it was while I was exploring the gas station.
Ori and the Blind Forest made me cry when I played the Switch demo last month and it made me cry again when I played the full version, because I still can’t take any emotional weight of any kind. I also wasn’t expecting to die nearly as often as Ori has killed me. For the most part, I’ve been killed by environmental hazards rather than through combat. I’m not completely sure how far or high Ori is able to jump, and even with the double-jump unlocked I have trouble getting through tight corridors. I’ve only just given the water orb to the Ginso Tree and escaped watery death (after about 4 failed runs). I also feel like Ori is hiding things from me: In the skill tree, I unlocked the ability to air-dash, but I wasn’t given any instruction on how to do it. I was also hoping Ori would have been a little more open-ended than it’s been so far, but I wouldn’t call it linear. Blasphemous and Hollow Knight come to mind: I like that I have options in those games, but with Ori my path seems to be set. I’m fairly certain I’m still in the early game, so maybe things open up a little bit after I deliver more elemental orbs to the Ginso Tree. I have a good idea where the plot is going to go eventually, and I’m enjoying the ride so far.
I’ve been meaning to give Wasteland 2 a try for a while, especially after I played through the original Fallout however long ago that was. Unlike Fallout, which starts out by asking you to make your Vault Dweller, Wasteland 2 begins by having you create four characters (or chose four pre-made characters). I wanted to ease myself into the experience, so I only made one character and chose the other three from the list. Thus began the adventures of Shoggiffer and the Desert Rangers. The first task given to my group was to travel to a broadcast tower and find a Ranger who’s gone missing. Like in the original Fallout, the world map is presented as more of a gameboard than an actual place where you can explore or a menu. While travelling from hub to hub, it’s possible to get engaged in a random encounter. One such random encounter murdered me because I wasn’t prepared to face down a dozen venomous newts. Once I made it to the radio tower, I was able to talk my way past some thugs where I soon found a ranger's corpse and components belonging to the robot who killed him. I felt like I was making great progress when I got the Ranger Radio Tower up and running again! I confidently took on my next task, heading directly south to answer a distress call only to become severely irradiated. One quick-load later, and I chose to go south-west instead, away from the radiation and to the second of the two distress signals. Things were going swimmingly once I got there too! I was nibbled on by wildlife, but not enough to completely deplete my first aid supplies. What I didn’t realize however, was that my ammunition was basically gone and I still had a few more mobs to get through. I’ve taken a short break from Wasteland 2; I’m enjoying it, but this is another one where I know I’m going to need to give it all of my attention to get the most out of it. I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of this world, and after finding that cat shrine I’m eager to see just how weird things are going to get.
One of my favorite games of all time was Super Castlevania: Aria of the Symphony of the Curse of Darkness’ Sorrow. I haven’t made it very far in Bloodstained yet, but it absolutely feels like that one specific game I just mentioned. I’m curious to see if I’m taking the narrative too seriously, or if having too many souls will actually cause a bad ending to happen or not. I like how there are NPC quests, since they further incentivize murdering monsters outside of the twin goals of EXP and soul grinding. Seeing headgear appear on Miriam’s character model is pretty cool, but then I thought about it and started wondering why armor isn’t also appearing on her character model as I equip it: Maybe special outfits will show up on her if they appear in-game. Since Bloodstained was developed within the past few years, there is a crafting system which further incentivizes monster farming, a cooking system (which is just crafting but in a different menu), low-poly play coins which are difficult to find but which unlock rare and powerful weapons, and I’m sure there’s a lot of other things I haven’t come across yet since I’m only just exploring the town outside of Castle Similar-To-But-Legally-Distinct-From Vania©™. I’ve noticed that the Dullahan has a weak spot which makes me assume other standard enemies will also have weak spots. I’ve noticed that different weapons use different types of damage and some can even use special abilities depending on what inputs you use, which makes me excited to see how deep that feature runs. I’ve played a lot of Metroidvania style games this year, but this one has left the most positive impression on me from early on. It isn’t beating me over the head with difficulty, it isn’t making me feel feelings, but I’m sure it’ll get to at least one of those points as I explore further. I'm kind of embarassed to admit this, but I forgot about Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon until I fought a familiar boss inside of the castle.
Oh Geeze, Dudes, I got a TV for Christmas. I’ve already tried some Breath of the Wild on it and I recently finishing my first run of The Outer Worlds on it, but holy macaroni! It’s going to be great playing console games at their full potential and at a size that’ll allow me to read smaller text fonts! Expect my January Journal to be a retread (in part or in whole) of console games such as Dark Souls 3, Super Mario Odyssey, Spider-Man, Death Stranding, and a new acquisition for me, Horizon: Zero Dawn. Well, I may not play all of those but I definitely plan on checking out how Bloodbourne and Dark Souls 3 look on my new setup. If you’re looking for a top and bottom list for the games I’ve played in 2019 (or just for 2019 games in general), I’m planning on doing a series of blogs, one per month for a majority of the year, talking about my favorite games of the recently-past decade. Sometime in mid-January, I'll be posting my Games of 2010 blog, so toon in at some point in October of 2020 for my Games of 2019 blog! Here’s hoping the next decade is a good one, and if nothing else, I hope you all had a fantastic New Year.