Category Archives: Digital Playground

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February 2023 Battlegrounds Update

Introduction

I wrote an article about Battlegrounds at the beginning of the Lich King set release. I came away from that update severely underwhelmed. They gave us nothing in Battlegrounds aside from a new hero. I honestly don’t know why they waited to release the update because it certainly wasn’t to properly balance. They turned nerfs and buffs around so quickly, we can cover them in this February 2023 Battlegrounds Update.

Improvement #1: New Hero

Granted, they gave us Enhanc-o-mechano with the set release. And, I played him a couple of times and enjoyed every time. But, I expected an undead theme in Battlegrounds and, with it, a new undead hero. That never happened until this update. But, boy oh boy, did they give us a hero.

Because I play in 4-8k plebeian territory, the cries of “OP! Plz nerf” went right over my head. I tried playing the new Putricide and failed miserably both times. But, he utilizes my favorite mechanic in the game, Discover, and I think I can have some fun with him eventually.

Improvement #2: Rewards Track

I wrote in that December update that one of my biggest problems with the release of the new expansion was that nothing reset. I knew a new season of standard loomed on the horizon. No such luck with Battlegrounds. As far as I knew, they killed the mode without telling anyone.

There is precedent for such a thing after all.

Without a new season and no Battlegrounds specific quests, only weekly quests kept me playing the game. I got so bored, I even tried Mercenaries. Actually, pretty fun, and I worked it into my daily rotation. Who knows how long that lasts.

Thankfully, Blizzard released the new Battlegrounds season and, with it, a new rewards track. I get to earn new strikes, hero skins, and other cosmetics that make the game worth playing.

Improvement #3: New Tribe, New Minions

Last, but certainly not least, they gave us the new minion type I hoped for back in December. Yes, undead crashed the party big time. Many of the nerfs involved undead and I swear to god, somehow lobbies for a couple of weeks showed 7/8 playing undead. I admit that I tried playing undead a few times, but also farmed them a little bit with elementals, mechs, and the occasional pirate build. Some players, as they do, pissed and moaned about the monotony. In spite of the repetitive gameplay, I found the games mostly fun. While, I don’t have a problem with the balances, it made no difference to me.

A final bonus in the whole ordeal surprised me but, at the same time, I saw it coming. You might even argue that I inspired them to make this change. Blizzard introduced dual type minions! Actually, they created one dual type minion a while ago and I extrapolated then that more were on their way. Well, they’re here. There’s dragon murlocs, undead mechs, and an elemental murloc that warms my heart.

The Verdict

Overall, I like the update to Battlegrounds. As I said, some people cried until Blizzard rolled out the nerfs, but I found the game fun in spite of the fact that every game looked the same. We know the new tribe always ends up overrepresented in the beginning. But, yeah, it was pretty damn ridiculous with undead this time. I hope you enjoyed my February 2023 Battlegrounds update and I’ll be back with more Hearthstone content around the release of the new standard season.

Fire Emblem GBA: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

You probably remember that I said that this article would be about the new Fire Emblem game for the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, my current gaming budget prevents me from purchasing that right now. But, fear not, faithful followers! I searched for “best Fire Emblem” games. That led me to this page and the game that I most wanted to try on the list was Fire Emblem GBA.

I remember my time with the Game Boy Advance fondly. I purchased no less than three separate consoles including a retro style Super Nintendo motif. I loved the Super Nintendo. It remains my favorite console of all time by leaps and bounds. When Nintendo gave us the opportunity to put all of those game into our pockets, I welcomed that opportunity.

A (Very) Short History with Fire Emblem

In spite of all of that, I never played any of the Fire Emblem games. When I texted Chris after learning about the new Switch game, he admitted to never playing them either. He owned one of them at least. And, the reason he never played it is that it requires a console that he doesn’t own. But, as Chris said, all of the Fire Emblem games come highly rated. So, it surprises me even more that, not even during my emulation phase, I never played a single game. I wanted to remedy that with Fire Emblem Engage. Because, watching a TFT stream earlier, someone mentioned the game. So, maybe the game could finally get me some juice on the page. Alas, we wait at least one more pay cycle for the new one.

I mean, the game looks like the type of games I enjoy. So, for now, let’s enjoy it.

The Decent – Graphics and Combat

Graphics – Look, I understand the age and limitations of the Game Boy Advance. Even with those caveats, this game looks primitive. The color palette ignores about 32,760 of the available colors. The sprites need help, too. It looks almost like a late cycle NES game. Granted, it came early in the GBA life, so I guess that makes sense. Still, the look of the game surprised me from what I remember about the SNES/GBA.

Turn-Based Combat – I’m used to games with more freedom to their movement like Zelda or Final Fantasy. Therefore, I found the limitations of the movement in this game annoying. A minor complaint, especially when you consider that combat works much the same as those games. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that.

The Good – Short Prologue and Other Graphics

Short Prologue – When I heard them talking about the new Fire Emblem game, they said something about still being in the part of the game where it tells you sword beats axe, etc. While probably true here as well, the story so far (more on that in a minute) makes it bearable.

Other Graphics – Outside of the main world, the graphics become more detailed. The battles animate each attack satisfyingly. But, the graphics engine shines in the cut scenes. Fully colored and well drawn characters interact to push the story forward in a satisfying way.

Hey, you. You’re finally awake.

The Great – Something New and The Story

Something New – Even though I mentioned Zelda and Final Fantasy earlier, I like Fire Emblem GBA because it represents something new and different from those games. I think I needed that change of pace because now I want to play through this one and as many of the others as I can find. I definitely need the new one now.

The Story: I made fun of the introduction dialogue in that caption up there. But, I kid because I love. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do if I played an RPG at this point that didn’t start with me waking up. It’s just such a huge part of the genre right now.

The Verdict

I only played through the prologue and Chapter 1 so far. But, I enjoyed what I saw and played. I promised Fire Emblem Engage and delivered Fire Emblem GBA. Other than graphics, I honestly can’t see that there’s much of a difference between the two. But, join me after I get Engage and we can see together what the differences actually are.

Red Dead Redemption II: Cowboy Up!

Introduction

I never played any Grand Theft Auto. Imagine my surprise then when GTA 3 released. I searched and found the first two games were top down racers. Then it made sense why I never played them. But, I played the heck out of 3 and then Vice City. I stopped playing during the San Andreas days. I actually forgot about Rockstar Games until the first Red Dead Redemption. Then, over Christmas break, I remembered that I owned Red Dead Redemption II.

I know the game doesn’t technically fit into the New Year, New Games theme of the month. Liam watched me play briefly and said, “This game looks really good. Makes me even madder that Pokemon is so buggy.” I replied, “Yeah, and it’s a four year old game.” But, I only recently discovered and started playing it. Plus, I needed another digital playground article for the month. And, so, Red Dead Redemption II gets included. Besides, it’s my page. I can do what I want.

Humble Beginnings

I thought I might not even get a chance to write this article. As I played through the tutorial and introduction, I got increasingly irritated and more bored. Then, during the chase quest, after I failed, I restarted the entire quest. Christine remarked when I said how much I liked the game, “Oh yeah, it sounded like it as you swore at it this morning.” But, once I figured out how to start the specific quest and not the whole chain, it got better.

Plus, I got to play with the lasso a bit more in that quest, so no harm, no foul.

I only finished a few more quests. I got to the part where the snow finally starts to melt before Aiden took the XBox back upstairs. As a result, I probably won’t play much more Red Dead Redemption II until Febrary break. Quinn and Aiden both have commitments (soccer for Aiden and swim and scouts for Quinn), so we won’t travel during that break. We planned on going to Niagara Falls for April, but nothing in February. I can come back then to update on my progress.

The Verdict

Initially, I joked that Red Dead Redemption was just GTA with horses. After playing it, I enjoyed it so much more than I ever liked GTA. Other than GTA 3, I never beat any of those games. I played the original RDR until I beat it and then I played after to finish up some other Easter eggs in the game. I probably bought RDR II shortly after that. But, with the XBox in Aiden’s room most of the time, I never played it until this past Christmas. I plan to bring the XBox back downstairs during February break and you better believe that I’m going to play cowboy during that week off.

Teamfight Tactics Update 2023

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote about possible mobile games to add to my daily rotation. For those wondering, Marvel Snap made the cut. I even paid for the “deluxe’ battle pass or whatever that includes 10 levels. It gives me exactly what I want. An IP I’ve been following my entire life since becomign a teenager. A quest chase that takes no more than 15-20 minutes. Just enough strategery that makes every match interesting and unique. What other game can give me that? As today’s Teamfight Tactics Update 2023 shows, certainly not the topic of today’s article.

So, why take the time to write an entire article about the game? Well, just because TFT lacks the qualities of Marvel Snap doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the game. In fact, I took quite quickly back to playing it and played it nonstop over the weekend, both in anticipation of writing the article and because I genuinely enjoyed the game.

So, Why TFT?

My enjoyment of “autobattlers” goes back to one of the originals. I kept hearing about Dota Auto Chess a few years ago. I played some Dota and League of Legends, but stink on ice at both games. My favorite story is when I famously played 5 games of LoL and only won one single game and that’s because one of the players was friendly and helpful enough to just carry the rest of us on his back.

And, I’ll bet you do, too.

But, I figured, “I like chess.” Why not check out this game that has the word in it’s title. It instantly hooked me and before long, I actually chased some fame and status in ranked. Then, something happened. I think they updated the game and started inundating me with paid content. As with most of you, once a game does that, I lose interest quickly. Sure enough, I played less and less.

Through some research, I found Dota 2 Underlords and TFT. I liked TFT more. The graphic style and colorful characters kept my interest far better than the grimy surroundings of Underlords. Quinn hung out with me during my gaming time often then, too, and he preferred TFT as well. Then, something happened. This time I think my gaming PC crapped the bed (again). Either the mobile app didn’t exist or I didn’t own something capable of playing it. To be honest, I still don’t My phone screen is way too small for my old eyes and the app taxes my poor tablet.

After exploring my options, I tried both Underlords and TFT. This time, I actually preferred Underlords. I quickly discovered that Valve more or less killed it. I downloaded Autochess to check that one out. But, I haven’t been patient enough to let it download the data to get started. And, so, TFT became my main autobattler again.

What About Battlegrounds?

Okay, I play Battlegrounds way more than I ever play TFT. But, for the time begin until the patch hits, I load up TFT for a few games every night. It helps that I dropped the 13 bucks or whatever for their battle pass. So, cart before the horse, that gives me motivation to keep playing.

I started with Hyper Roll. According to my research, the games went faster and you farmed battle pass XP faster as a result. Personal experience shows that isn’t entirely true. Playing normal often pits you against only 3 or 4 actual humans and either bots or AFK players in the other slots. As a result, getting a victory there becomes much easier since you basically just have to have a functioning brain to get top 4 or above.

I enjoyed Hyper Roll, especially when I got a top 2 and thought I might finally have gotten the hang of it. The game quickly disabused me of that notion and I fell back to my usual 5 or 6 spot. That’s when I looked up to see if completing quests gives me credit in normal. It does, so I main normal now.

The Verdict

It took me longer than usual to accept TFT into my normal rotation. I suspect that without the battle pass and my discovery of normal, it might end up rotting or getting deleted after writing the article. As it stands, writing the article inspired me to fire the game up to check on my quests. My Teamfight Tactics update 2023 finds the game healthy and firmly in my rotation at least until I evaluate the next version of the battle pass.

2023 Console Look Ahead

Introduction

After the disappointment of the PC Gaming article, I dreaded researching this one a little bit. In fact, I even considered finishing the week with a bang because I enjoyed writing the tabletop one so much more than I expected. Then, I actually searched for the games being released this year. I came up with a solid half dozen that excite me. Even so, I’ll spice this article up by treating it like an awards show. Join me, then, for 2 Guys Gaming’s 2023 Console Look Ahead Awards!

Note: I used the following list for information on these games. If some of them end up being postponed or cancelled, I blame Games Radar. I’m sure they have a much higher budget than we do and can absorb the scorn.

The “I Just Texted Chris….” Award

Earlier in the week, I realized that I wrote notes in my schedule for several tabletop games to write about for “New Year, New Games” and exactly zero video games. I searched for new games coming out and this one caught my eye.

Then, earlier today, I just texted Chris to see if he played any of them. “No,” he replied, “I own one but never played it.” He mentioned that they often get good reviews, so this game will be the first one featured on the page this year. It is also the first new release game featured, maybe ever.

The “I Miss Gran Turismo” Award

Back in the old days, I played way too much Gran Turismo. I convinced myself that I needed to get all of the gold trophies or whatever achievements they offered at the time. Then, I got stuck on one of the cornering challenges and quickly gave up that dream.

I never got over the crush that I hold for that game. Other than Out Run (yes, I am that old), it remains the only racing game I played extensively. Just looking at that screen of Forza up there gives me chills and makes me pine for those days of thunder.

The “Why Is This Only Listed for PC?” Award

I play the first one on the Switch. Why is this one only listed for PC? Also, why was this one not listed in the PC gaming article that I used for research? Come on, people! Websites run by a single individual rely on you to do the heavy lifting so we can appear more professional with less effort.

Okay, back to the original question. Where is the Switch version? Of course, I know where it is. It is in 2025 or whenever the developer finally gets around to writing the port for the Switch. Thankfully, Nintendo made it easier to program for the Switch than past consoles, but the poor Switch doesn’t get these titles until well past their prime.

The “Just Update the Main Title Already” Award

When Microsoft acquired Mojang and Minecraft, gamers lost their collective shit. Because, that’s what gamers do. They also lost their shit when Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast and Activision acquired Blizzard. What makes me laugh about that one is that I forever remember Activision as an indy developer for the Atari 2600 and not the behemoth that they are today.

I reserved judgement. Because, that’s what I do. While not a fan of multinational conglomerates on any level, I like it when companies get an influx of cash and know what to do with it. Blizzard made Hearthstone the best digital card game by far and Wizards expanded all of their properties far beyond mortal comprehension. Hell, I read that MtG alone is a billion dollar valuation. How does that relate back to Minecraft? Well, I’m losing my shit now. Microsoft, stop with these side projects and just update Minecraft again already.

The “Zelda is the Princess” Award

I both saved this one for the penultimate because I love Zelda (finish with a flourish, right?) and because I tried to come up with the perfect version of the old Zelda joke. I failed spectacularly on the latter. We all agree on that, right?

Also, the sad truth of it all is that I haven’t played a Zelda game since Wind Waker, I think. Yikes. So, my claim to love the Zelda games even perches precariously on a cliff, ready at any moment to fall and expose me as a fraud and a poseur. Let’s move on, shall we?

The “Most Likely to Get Me to Buy a PS5” Award

I think I said the same about the original Spider-Man and PS3. Maybe even the Miles Morales version and PS4. Maybe I have my timelines mixed up, but I always wanted to play all of the Spider-Man games. To date, I played exactly zero of them.

I bought a PS3 for Christmas one year because someone sold it used at a very good price and included a bunch of games. I never bought a PS4 because I went with the XBox One instead. So, like my Zelda claims, this one seems dubious at best. But, stay tuned. Things might change.

The Verdict

I expected little out of this 2023 console look ahead. Then, those last two sections landed with a bit of a thud. Nevertheless, I remain committed to the excitement that I found in these six games and tried to convey with the cheekiness of the 2023 Console Look Ahead awards conceit. Thanks for joining us for our annual looks ahead and stay tuned for the content for the rest of the year.

2023 PC Gaming Look Ahead

Introduction

I altered the format of the title slightly. I think it gives a little something more. A je ne sais quis, if you will. I haven’t decided yet to go back and change the other titles in the series right now. It requires a bit more tweaking in the background than I’m willing to do right now. Maybe over the weekend when I have no other articles to write. So, what’s in store for this 2023 PC gaming look ahead?

To be honest, not much. While committed to finding my roots as a gamer once again through the page and maybe some other content, I’ve never been much of a PC gamer. Discovering Steam and the masterpiece that is Portal 2 helped, but mostly I prefer consoles and, especially recently, mobile games. But, I saw a couple of titles that I want to highlight.

Three PC Games That Caught My Eye

As I’ve done with the other articles, I started with a Google search for “2023 PC games”. That took me to this page. I scrolled…and scrolled…and scrolled. As the heading of this section says, I found only three that I consider to be worth my time to discuss here. Let’s take them in order of excitement level.

Hogwarts Legacy (Excitement Level: Slightly Above Meh)

Once I finally got around to reading them, I liked the Harry Potter books. I also enjoyed most of the movies. It bothered me that they split book seven into two movies and then made quite possibly the most boring fantasy movie I’ve ever seen with Part 1. No lie. I fell asleep the first two times I watched that one. That has nothing to do with my reaction to this game. I actually wanted to illustrate how much I like Harry Potter and that I should be more excited about this one. I’m sure once I get to play it, I’ll have fun. I know that I liked the original games and this one gives me more of a chance to be the wizard I want to be instead of one of the main characters from the story.

Street Fighter 6 (Excitement Level: Hadoken!)

Wow, didn’t realize just how light that logo was. They framed it on a dark background, so it showed up much better on the actual page. Oh well, too lazy right now to go and fix it up in GIMP, so it is what it is. Speaking of the page, I only scrolled through and read some of the basic information there, so I have little to no information about this game. Even so, as long as I can throw fireballs and dragon punches, I’m in.

Diablo IV (Excitement Level: Send Me to Hell!)

It took me forever to play Diablo III. Like many, I heard the negative feedback from the launch and never fully recovered from that. In fact, I played Torchlight II until my fingers bled and never even considered Diablo II as an option. Then, I think Chris might have picked it up. Or, we played it to compare to Torchlight for the podcast. Either way, once I finally played it, I loved it. I am again in a bit of a hiatus from the game, but once I get back into it, I’ll be ready for the fourth one.

The Verdict

All of these games will be available on consoles and that’s probably where I will play them. Nevertheless, I might end up splurging again on a gaming PC to get that experience from Diablo and Hogwarts Legacy. I mean, honestly, Street Fighter is meant to be played on a console sitting next to your best friend on the couch. Honestly, three games is more than I thought I’d be able to find for a 2023 PC gaming look ahead, so consider that a win.

2023 Mobile Game Preview

Introduction

2022 ended with a bit of a whimper around here. Other priorities caused me to evaluate the page and I came the closest I ever have to shutting it all down. In the grand scheme of things, definitely not the worst thing to happen to me last year, but this page represents almost a decade of my growth as a person and a gamer. Even if I only use it as that personal record, it’s worth the effort to keep alive. So, let’s get 2023 started with our 2023 Mobile Game Preview.

While I spend most of my time playing games on my phone, I don’t often play new games. I stick to the same rotation of about half a dozen games. Occasionally, I go back to an older game to see updates. Once in a while, I try a new game and enjoy it. Both happened recently. I picked up Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest. I also got big into Marvel SNAP. With all of that being said, I make a resolution to branch out more into mobile gaming this year.

2023 Mobile Game Preview: The Old Rotation

As long as they keep releasing expansions, I continue to play and complete quests in MtG:A and Hearthstone. The same looks to be true for Marvel SNAP. SimCity Buildit provides a low key break from the stress of those two games. I invested way too much into Candy Crush Saga to quit anytime soon. MTG: PQ became a log in once to get the daily gift and I think it might reach that status again very soon. The game play is just far too frustrating at times to make it as enjoyable as the other match three games that I played. Fallout Shelter will be put back onto the virtual shelves now that the holiday season is over.

Older Games That Might Break Into the Rotation

Bored and reminded of their existence on Google Play, I downloaded Teamfight Tactics and Dota Underlords. I played both on the computer back when I owned a computer capable of running them. Yes, sad. My phone is now more powerful than any computer in the house. Nevertheless, once I have time to play and strategize in them, one or both can easily fit into my daily gaming routine. One day when frustrated by Hearthstone, I played the other Riot game, Legends of Runeterra. I enjoyed the game play and don’t remember why I stopped.

New Games I Might Play

Note: I searched several times and read a couple of articles before finally realizing the correct search term I needed to find new releases for this year. I used that list and limited information to put together the lists for the games I might play and the ones I will definitely play.

Mighty Doom

I told the story more than once that as a teenager, I often joked about every piece of electronics, “Can you play DOOM on this?” As I get older, that joke becomes true about more and more things. The latest I saw was a Lego block running a modded Raspberry Pi. Crazy. So, if and when this releases, I might try it for old time’s sake.

I never enjoyed the RPGs in the Mortal Kombat series. A friend played the Sub Zero Mythologies game and recommended it. I tried the game and found it limited. Also, I played the mobile version of the actual fighting game. While fun, it quickly grew stale. So, I might try this one, but I don’t expect much from it.

Always a sucker for old school D&D RPGs, I considered putting this one on the definitely list. After all, I played some Pools of Radiance a few years ago to get that fix. The only thing keeping it from that list is that I never liked Forgotten Realms all that much. I played Dragonlance and, after that, Dark Sun.

I always wanted to play Warhammer or Hordes. I collected miniatures, bought novels, subscribed to their now defunct magazine, and even purchased the games on Steam. I never played any of it. Now that it’s coming to phones, maybe I will finally give myself a chance to play.

New Games I Will Definitely Play

I started playing the Grand Theft Auto series with GTA III. I stopped playing regularly with GTA: SA. I reached the peak of my enjoyment with GTA: VC. I played some of IV and bought V but never played it. Give me the opportunity to relive the “glory days” of jumping the canal on my motorcycle and stealing some kid’s bike any day.

I thought this was a release of the original Final Fantasy VII game. Behind VI (III) in America, VII is my second favorite game in the series. Granted, it is also the last one I ever played on a regular basis. The original game already exists on mobile. This one is a compilation of spin offs. So, maybe swap this one with Baldur’s Gate.

I wish I had more self respect when it involved Warcraft games. All they do lately is take a popular formula, reduce it to its core elements, slap on the Warcraft/Hearthstone aesthetic and call it a day. And, every single time, I fall for it. This will be no different.

The Verdict

Looking over the list I found, I came away underwhelmed by the offerings this year. I came into this 2023 Mobile Game Preview article excited for the possibilities. I left with a list of retread has beens and what seems like a bunch of never will bes. I know as the year goes, I will find more and more games to try and enjoy, but for now it looks like the same old games. Also, I found this article while searching and I liked many more games on that list, so be on the lookout for them on the page this year.

2022 PC GOTY: Yeah, About That…

Introduction

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote 2022 PC GOTY in my calendar for this week. I knew that I’d be home the whole week and able to write every day. Definitely, I wanted to fill the week with posts. Surely, I had an idea for this when I put the plan together, right?

Right now, goodness only knows what that plan was. While I have a laptop and recently accessed my Steam account again, I played little to no games on the PC. I loaded up 1 Screen Platformer a month ago to write an article and keep the page active. But, to call it the game of the year is a stretch.

No Time to Game?

When I set up the two computers in the basement to work on my IT stuff, I played some Magic the Gathering Arena and Hearthstone. Mostly, this year, I messed around on CodeWars and W3Resource to practice my coding because I thought I might go back to school for computer science focusing on data analysis.

More recently, I wrote a few programs for Raspberry Pi Pico W.

That still may happen. However, I found a new job that so far I enjoy much more than my previous teaching job. So, I postponed my enrollment in the Master’s program until next year. I will revisit it again over the summer depending on how the rest of the school year goes. Right now, though, things look positive.

I suppose I could take the cheap way out and name Magic the Gathering Arena or Hearthstone as the 2022 PC GOTY. Actually, now that I say that, I think my plan was to give the award to Hearthstone. So, let’s go with that one.

Congratulations? Hearthstone

Now this just feels weird. I mean, technically, Hearthstone is available on the PC and I played it on the PC. I probably played it the most of any other PC game this year. But, I played it mostly on the phone and consider it a mobile game at this point. Okay. Let’s make this work.

So, what’s the big deal with Hearthstone this year? Well, they are getting almost as bad as Magic the Gathering with the expansion releases. I count three major set releases plus 2 mini set releases in the calendar year. For some reason, I don’t feel the same fatigue, though. I think it might be for a couple of reasons, actually.

First, Hearthstone has varied game modes. The one that I play the most is Battlegrounds, but I also messed around with Mercenaries some this year. I never play Arena, Tavern Brawl, or Duels anymore, but they still exist. Also, since Hearthstone is only digital, I just have to buy the set digitally, where in MTG I buy online and in real life. That’s exhausting.

The Verdict

So, while Hearthstone brings me the same amount of joy and, more accurately, stress and anger as Magic the Gathering, I follow in the footsteps of the previous article and give this infuriating game an award for 2022. What this tells me is that I need to play more games on my computer next year.

2022 Mobile GOTY: Marvel SNAP

Introduction

We debuted Game of the Year articles two years ago. I only wrote Console/PC, Tabletop, and Mobile articles last year and the year before. This year, I plan to add two new categories; card and a separate articles for console and PC. To be honest, I played less on consoles and especially PC than any other format, but I know what to do when I get to those categories later in the week. Today, I celebrate our 2022 mobile GOTY: Marvel SNAP.

As often happens lately, Chris texted me about the game to say that he tried it. I saw advertisements for it, but heard little about the game. So, he got a chance to play it before me. He told me a little about the game and said he mostly enjoyed it. That’s when I downloaded and gave it a try.

Marvel SNAP Humble Beginnings

Chris explained the game as “War” with additional features. Okay, I thought, how does that work? Exactly as I should have known. You build a deck of 10 cards with Marvel heroes and there are three “locations” in the middle of the board that sometimes have special abilities like modifying your cards or moving them to other spots on the board.

See? War with additional features.

I still only played part of the tutorial. The game seemed a bit too basic for me. What can this game offer in the face of other card games like Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone? As usual, I looked at it the wrong way. It wasn’t until a couple of students in my first block class at Conant mentioned the game again that I gave it another chance. I started playing it again shortly after that. I earned some new cards, tried some of them in new decks, and the game finally worked its way into my regular rotation.

Missions, Rewards Track, and All That

After playing through the introduction rewards, I opened the actual rewards track. I searched for the price a couple of times before realizing that I needed to unlock it and then pay. $9.99 seemed a bit high, but mostly worth it for daily play, so I paid the amount and regularly check the game to see if my missions refreshed (it happens about every 8 hours instead of daily, which is nice) in between other games.

The game still seems basic and almost too easy. I don’t have any actual statistical analysis, but it feels like I win 9 out of 10 matches. Until today, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually lost a match. I mean, as I play, I see strategy and misplays by my opponents, so maybe it is just in that weird space where everyone is learning the game and how to play. Maybe my opponents just don’t care all that much about winning. Honestly, the game offers little in the way of incentive to win. Most of the rewards simply come from playing the game.

The Verdict

In spite of that minor drawback, I enjoy the game and look forward to seeing the new upgrades to cards that I unlock periodically. Several of the cards made me say, “Oh wow!” But, we saw with the most recent Hearthstone set that isn’t always an indication that cards are memorable.

Is SNAP my favorite mobile game? No. Did I play it the most often during 2022? Not even close. I only started actually playing a month ago. Plus, seeing as how my play sessions are only about 5-10 minutes each, I don’t even anticipate playing it the most next year. Still, I like the game and have no problem naming it our 2022 Mobile GOTY. If you want to learn more about the game and give it a try, click the link.

Hades is a Gift

Introduction

Merry Christmas!

Welcome and Merry Christmas! Last year, my son bought me Hades for the Nintendo Switch on the recommendation of Chris. Therefore, truly Hades is a gift. I played the game some during the week of break. After that, I needed to concentrate on not losing my job, so I had little time for such frivolity. Then, I misplaced the game. Finally, I completely forgot about it until I realized break neared again.

I bought the game digitally in anticipation. Then, while putting my clothes away, I found the cartridge. So, if anyone wants a digital copy of Hades, I might be able to gift it to you. Send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

What is Hades?

I never reviewed the game last year. I thought I did, but maybe I just included it in one of my Game of the Year articles at the end of the year. Hades follows your character, the son of Hades, through the land of the gods as he hacks and slashes his way to more power.

It resembles Diablo in game play. That alone gave me reason to try. I enjoyed all of the Diablo clones I played. Torchlight II became my favorite game for several months about 5 or 6 years ago. It was the subject of the lost episode 2 of the original run of the podcast.

Why is Hades a Gift?

Hades sweetens the deal with unique gameplay that follows the lore of the pantheon. One of the ways that you advance in the game is by dying. You come back and increase your abilities before plunging again into the dungeon of the Underworld. I like that wrinkle to the game. It takes a frustrating part of other games (dying and having to start over) and removes that frustration. Further, it almost makes dying an incentive. You die to take a breather from the dungeon crawling.

The game also has a unique, cartoon graphics engine that works seamlessly with the cut scenes to build a living, breathing world. The characters add to that with their own personalities based also on the lore of the gods if available. Some characters are specific to the game, but they still made me laugh more than once with their antics.

The Verdict

I played Hades again some last week. I managed to pull the Switch away from Quinn and Liam (they’ve been playing the new Pokemon game) to get a couple of games in. I still enjoyed playing even though it took me some time to get used to the controls again. In between games of Mario Party, Mario Kart, and them playing Pokemon, I hope to play more during this break. I also bought new controllers for the XBox, so I’m sure Quinn, Aiden, and I will get some Minecraft in, too. Be prepared for reports on all of it.