2018 is finally more than half-way over and so far it’s been a pretty good year for gaming. It maybe hasn’t been as good as 2017 or, 1999 or, 1992 but boy oh boy has 2018 been great so far and with E3 still fresh in our minds 2018 is set to be more or less the same unless you’re excited about Smash Bros in December. Everybody else gets to wait for January of 2019 for the big new games and we all get to wait for the next console generation for games like Starfield, Elder Scrolls VI and, Final Fantasy VII-R! Anyway, June is a tough month for me because the seasons are changing and summer depression is absolutely a phenomenon that can affect people so I’m going to blame this for all of the games I started this month but ended up quitting abruptly. Here’s the list of games I’ve played this month if the pic I put up ends up going corrupt at some point:
(Woo, Doodles and brain issues!)
Like with last month’s rundown, this list is the order in which I started playing games this month so I started out with that online demo of Mario Tennis Aces. I’m not too big on sports games but this one is arcade-like and when I sat down to start playing it, I found that there were a surprising number of fighting mechanics integrated into the game. The fact that you build up attack power and can use a special attack to physically knock your opponent out of a match is (from what I can tell) unique among other Tennis games, even the arcade ones. The reason I have no plan on buying this game though are thus: A, the forced tutorial at the beginning left me feeling very sour. Thing 2, this is absolutely a multiplayer focused game and my internet connectivity is an ever-present issue that keeps me from really enjoying multiplayer focused games. I didn’t hate this game I just wasn’t sold on it but I do know this game would have upset me if I shelled out for that demo that was sold as a full release on the Wii U, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is the best 8-bit Castlevania I have ever played and I’m not just saying that because I’ve only ever beaten the 16-bit Super Castlevania. I’ve only beaten this game once and it only gets more difficult after that when you realize just how vital each playable character is to getting through each level of the game. I want to tell this game off for being as short as it is but since it was definitely built from the ground up to be replayed a bunch and I’ve only beaten this game once I guess I should be reprimanding myself. I really want to see where the story goes but other games have since come into my library and I’ve made this statement before about various games over the past six months already and I don’t want this to become my catchphrase.
(This is quickly becoming my...like...fifth favorite NES game)
I debated about whether or not I should put Pokemon Go on my list this month because I have a lot of trouble classifying this as an actual game. Then I spent 10’s of hours playing this game over the course of the month so here we are! The catalyst that got me into Go was the reveal of the Switch remake of Pokemon Yellow which is based off of this game. I understand that only the Kanto Pokemon will be available in Let’s Go Eevachu but that didn’t stop me from catching 150 candies worth of Wailmer and Swablu. I don’t see myself evolving either of them any time soon but I didn’t expect to catch a Venusaur or Articuno, or evolve a Blastoise. It would be nice to catch a few more Pikachu since I love Raichu and if it wasn’t for the patch that enabled trading I wouldn’t have an Umbreon right now. This isn’t the first time I’ve played Pokemon Go but I have a sort of cycle with Pokemon Go whereby I’ll go for months without touching it then get very much into it for a couple of weeks. Once the hype for Let’s Go has passed me by I’ll likely just pop onto Go to spin some Pokestops and keep up with my closer friends on the game. I’d also like to take this moment to apologize to my Pokemon Go friends who send me gifts from beautiful places only to get a Starbucks out of me 50 times in a row.
(Please be my friend, I live by a lot of Pokestops)
Last month I played through Heavy Rain until I unlocked the Platinum trophy, a task which felt like work the exact moment I decided to go for the platinum. This month I played through David Cages other two games that you can play on a Playstation 4, starting with Beyond: Two Souls. Unlike Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, Beyond doesn’t feel like it even has a story until you start looking back on it and really thinking about the interconnectedness of the events that happen in the game. Even then, Beyond: Two Souls feels like an absolute mess with one good idea David Cage had after watching a handful of ghost movies and maybe Event Horizon. I don’t want to give too much of the story away so I’ll keep this brief and just reiterate a feeling that I had earlier this month when I had reached the end of this game: I want to send Ellen Page a handwritten letter of apology and maybe a muffin basket. David Cage wants to be judged based off of his work and this is absolutely a low point in the cavernous cistern that is his career.
I needed something light and fun to play after Ellen Page and the Ancient Native American Ghosts of Doom and something called Happy Birthdays caught my eye. After that, I read that Happy Birthdays played a lot like Viva Pinata so I immediately downloaded the demo and played through it three times. It’s hard to classify this as a game since it’s the kind of thing where you’re given a biome, are told how to change it and you get to see how those changes (be they subtle or massive) change the ecosystem therein. The object of the game is to change your biome enough to encourage modern day humans to evolve and take up residence there. For me, this game is 95% micromanagement and 5% photography with the main draw of the game being one’s desire to see microorganisms become dinosaurs. The mechanics are incredibly solid after all and if I was just a little bit more into management sims and if Happy Birthdays was just a lot less expensive I would have absolutely bought it by now.
(I feel like I need this game but $40 is a lot for me)
Remember when I mentioned seasonal depression several paragraphs up? Well one of the casualties of my mental oopsie-daisies is the sequel to a game that I did genuinely enjoy back when I used to play it on the PS3. Something in my brain just clicked the first three times I tried doing the tutorial mission but I was able to ignore it that last time and play the first real mission. About two turns into that mission I quit the game and deleted it. Once I’m in a better place mentally I’ll probably give it another chance since I did really like the first game and this one is apparently easy to to get a point where you’re just massively overpowered. Thank goodness this game was a freebie on PS+.
Detroit: Become Human is another game that I was lucky enough to have been gifted and since David Cage was behind it, I knew that I was walking into a hilarious mess of a narrative. I don’t want to give away too much of the narrative since this game is still very new and still very plot driven but everything you know about David Cage shines through with this title. If you want to see this done right, just watch Bicentennial Man, I, Robot, Artificial Intelligence and the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation The Measure of a Man. I can say that one of the elements that really broke my immersion with this game was how one of the playable characters, Markus, looks exactly like Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. It’s hard to feel for the plight of a people when you’re yelling at the screen, ‘USE FORCE LIGHTNING’!
(Look at these terra cotta warriors!)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game that I played for about three months from the launch date of the Nintendo Switch. I got back into it on a second profile because for whatever reason, Nintendo only lets you have one save file on this title but that’s one of the only issues I have with this game. I didn’t play to completion obviously but I did spent about 10 hours wandering around the Great Plateau and bits of central Hyrule. Over the past couple of months I played through Ocarina of Time and Link Between Worlds but even without going through the other dozen or 2 games in the series, I can say definitively that Breath of the Wild has the best opening of any Legend of Zelda and I will fight you in the street, in front of your mother and mine, if you disagree with me. Breath of the Wild is one of those games where during the early game, it is very easy to fall off of something high and die or get murdered in one hit but I am still excited to jump back into the action because that last death was my fault and dammit, I won’t let this game beat me. This is a game that I see myself putting on time and again just to wander around the fields and forests of Hyrule and unwind: I’ve beaten this game once before and I use this game to decompress.
(Hey, someone got their Miyazaki movie in my Legend of Zelda!)
Baobao’s Mausoleum is available on the Switch eShop and even after playing the demo it’s hard to say what exactly it is. It feels like a puzzle game that someone put onto a cassette tape but unlike Thimbleweed Park it feels like this game was developed during an Acid binge. The game starts out with a bizarre vignette but gameplay itself plays out in a top-down style. The puzzling, based off of the demo, seems like it’s mostly based around finding or obtaining items either from the overworld or from NPCs then using those items on the needy NPC’s who instigated the puzzle in the first place. The demo let me poison someone with gasoline and blow up an animal, both of which entertained me and I’ll probably buy the full game if I remember it in future, which I likely will considering how strange the presentation of this game is.
Remember when I mentioned E3 at the start of this thing? This past month was June after all and during Bethesda’s E3 showcase a Fallout port was announced for the Switch! Unfortunately, the new Fallout port on Switch is the mobile...thing, Fallout Shelter. Depressingly, Fallout Shelter works really well on the Switch, what with its touchscreen and portability. I played this game for about two hours before deleting it. During that time I easily saw how this game takes people in and gets its claws into those poor, poor whales. Modern Fallout has its problems but at least you aren’t given any quests related to waiting for a thing to happen so you can continue on with another quest. On a positive note, a very real Fallout game, Wasteland 2, will be launching on the Switch some time this Fall.
Being disappointed by Fallout Shelter was the catalyst that made me get back into Fallout 3. I’m playing it on the Playstation 3 so modding is out of the question but this is the game of the year edition and Broken Steel is really all I needed to make the game 110% worth playing again...from the point at which you leave Vault and make your way to Megaton. Like with Breath of the Wild, I wasn’t playing this game to beat it necessarily, I was just playing for the fun of playing Fallout 3. Even after a decade of playing this game, I found something new while playing this time (or more likely, something I had forgotten about). What I found was the Naughty Nightwear which I’m told to bring to a person in Girdershade but I’m refusing to do that because any piece of clothing that gives me a boost of luck and speech is a piece of clothing that I’m simply not giving away or selling. Unlike past playthroughs though I’m focusing less on stealth than usual. Since playing Fallout 3 involves playing with wires I see myself playing less of this than Breath of the Wild in the coming months.
Fortnite is a game that, on my Switch with my internet connection, runs at 25 frames every 10 seconds. I like the idea of Fortnite on the Switch but for me, for the moment, it’s unplayable.
Fallout Shelter, Fortnite on the Switch, and another game on this list were inspired by E3 and this next entry, Hollow Knight, is by far the best game I picked up during the E3 cycle. This was one of the games Nintendo launched on the Switch during E3 and it’s a game I’ve been going back to and putting a lot of time into ever since. I haven’t beaten it after 15 hours but a lot of the fun for me is just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere and subtle stories being told by each background and setting. I love the hand drawn art style, I love the music, I love how unsettling the whole atmosphere of the game is. I have a lot of fun with games like Curse of the Aria of the Symphony of Lament and Super Metroid Returns M and Hollow Knight takes the exploration and atmosphere of the one, the upgrades of the other and adds in an almost Darks Souls like combat and currency system. Unlike Dark Souls I’ve found that the more I explore the world of Hollow Knight, the more characters I meet and these are some of the most endearing townsfolk I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in recent games, with Cornifer and Bretta being notable townsfolk who I love meeting. Those above elements blend to form a really solid gameplay loop. I’m going to assume that all of the DLC has been free up to this point but I didn’t realize that until I’d already put several hours into this game. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; this is by far the most engaging game I’ve played that was talked about during this year’s E3 and likely the most engaging game I’ve played this month in general but please don’t expect any lore or plot analysis from me. If I end up spending hundreds of hours on this game I might feel confident enough to share my thoughts but at the moment I’m going through somewhat casually.
(Bretta is adorable and I love her)
The next game I played this month was announced during E3 as being free through PSN+ and is a Call of Duty game. I’ve played through Black Ops in its entirety and I thought it was really good at the time. I played about 2 hours of Black Ops 2 and for Black Ops 3, I played through the first level twice and had system issues that prevented me from making further progress. The game looks nice and you get to fight those weird mooing leg robots from the Metal Gear franchise apparently but I wasn’t engaged enough to redownload the game. Multiplayer doesn’t interest me at all and zombie mode has even less appeal to me so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by letting this game fade away in my memory.
During E3 a remake of Resident Evil 2 was announced, demoed and, given a release date of January 29th 2019 and this reveal was effective enough to make me want to replay an older, puzzle-and-management focused Resident Evil title. I do have a copy of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64 but my issue is that I don’t seem to have it with me in this state but luckily, my local Target had a couple of copies of the Resident Evil Origins pack for PS4 on clearance and priced at less than the cost of a lunch combo from BGR (I paid $12 for it if you prefer Smash Burger or Five Guys). The problem is, a combination of seasonal depression and the fact that the film Heredity freaked me out lead to me deleting this game after about 3 or 4 hours of gameplay. I’ve never played this before and I would definitely consider playing it again either on a lower difficulty setting or as Jill (or both) but I was feeling very overwhelmed by how the Dogs work and how relentless the crimson heads were. For the most part, I was able to effectively avoid many of the zombies but I was feeling enough pressure that I just wasn’t having fun with this game so like XCom 2, I had to leave this one behind after a relatively short time.
For the most part I spent June hopping between Falllout 3, Breath of the Wild and, Hollow Knight but I did check out a couple of other demos this month, the penultimate being Shining Resonance Refrain on the Switch. I’m wasn’t a Sega kid and I’m not Japanese (although I do have a friend who lives in Japan so like...I’ll call that 10%) so I don’t have any experience with Shining Resonance or why it’s in refrain. The demo reminded me a a couple of different things: the castle setting makes me think of the beginning of Final Fantasy XII. The goal is to help someone escape from a dungeon and I thought this was done via Kingdom XV or Final Hearts style ARPG action and I was mostly right to think that but each battle still has a strange initialization effect thing that you might remember if you played JRPGs on the Super Nintendo like Chrono Mario’s Evermore Adventure III. It feels kind of out of place but it doesn’t last too long and you don’t go to a designated fighting dimension like in those other games. The point at which this game went from having my attention to earning my interest is when I realized that this is a game about J-Idols controlling dragons by the power of J-Pop (and I assume Visual Kei, J-Rock and other such subgenres of Japanese music). This doesn’t really change the gameplay very much, at least not in a practical way, but it makes me very curious about where the story is going to go from here. The demo has definitely shown that anime tropes are going to be used here and I’m sure the full game will be chock full of the things but I liked the anime cliches that was present in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 so this might be a game I talk about again next month or the month after.
The last game I’m going to talk about, or rather the last demo I’m going to talk about, is the Octopath Traveler Prologue Demo launched a couple of days after Nintendo’s E3 direct. Unlike the Project Octopath demo that launched on switch last year, this one gives you the ability to play as any of the characters and go through their prologue quest. It also seems like saves can be transferred over to the full game which sounds totally radical to me. I played the previous demo so I already felt familiar enough with a couple of the characters that for this one, I chose to play as H’aanit, a huntress who is somehow the most competent person in her village despite being trained by Sean Connery. He leaves the village to hunt something called Redeye and while he’s gone, a hostile creature invades the local forest. This prologue seems very straight forward and I feel like a lot of other games just start out with these exact story beats.It isn’t as memorable or dark as Ophelia’s prologue if you remember that from the previous demo but it was still very engaging for me, and not just because H’aanit can beat up villagers whenever she feels like it. I’ve been feeling very warm and fuzzy about hand drawn art in games but the pixel art in Octopath Traveler is still gorgeous here and of the JRPGs launching for Switch between late June and mid July (this, Y’s VIII and, Shining Resonance Refrain), I feel most strongly about this one and I’ll likely talk about it again next month when I get the full version.
(Have I mentioned how much I love the pixel art here!?)
It’s well and truly summer now and as we can look forward to a heat wave until mid-November and even then we’ll still be told that temperatures are unseasonably high again. With E3 still fresh in my mind it feels like the wait to play games like Star Link, Fist of the North Star and, Jump Forces seems unbearable but there are a number of games launching this month to look forward to anyway. Octopath Traveler is finally out this month, as well as Nekopara on Switch. Switch sales have been surprisingly all-encompassing too which lead to me downloading a few games this past month that I haven’t yet booted up and I’m sure more games I have on my wishlist will seem very affordable in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, there are some games like the Switch ports of Wasteland 2 and Dark Souls that still don’t have a definite release date and I feel like the moment I put money down on Octopath or maybe Y’s VIII, that’s when Fromsoft will surprise us with a mid-July release date for Dark Souls. If you’re not ready to be blindsided by Dark Souls than you might must not have played much Dark Souls.