And, so, we arrive at our last award, the 2021 Console Game of the Year. If you thought our other two choices (really just one choice) were farcical, this one will really blow your mind. Before we reveal the choice and get on with the Year in Review and Look Ahead articles, some background first. We promise to make it worth your time.
If you thought we might take the easy way out and pick some Atari 2600 or other retro themed game, you’re not right. But, you’re not wrong, either. If I remembered to set up my emulator earlier in the vacation, I might have been persuaded to cheekily choose “Frostbite” or “Pitfall” or even “E.T.” or whichever of the games I became addicted to over the last week. Alas, I only just hooked up the games yesterday and spent a half an hour or so this morning playing “Circus Convoy.”
We pick a game that I only recently played a couple of times with my family. Aiden discovered the games through his friends. I found it through a Twitch stream one night and it was a lot of fun to play Humble Bundle ran a deal for several of the games. Then, my laptop, as they tend to do, died on me. Also, our desktop memory fried. So, I downloaded the most recent version on the XBox in order to play. Our 2021 Console Game of the Year is The JackBox Party Pack 8.
2021 Console Game of the Year: The Jackbox Party Pack 8
In any other year, I played ridiculous amounts of Minecraft. Somehow, the XBox ended up in Aiden’s room again, so I never thought to load the game this year. I played some on my laptop, but solo Minecraft is boring. I suppose, then, that Minecraft is still a contender. But, having not played the new update, I wouldn’t do it justice.
Likewise, I haven’t played any Minecraft Dungeons in spite of the fact that Quinn and I planned to a few times. Mortal Kombat 11 died last year after I played through Kombat Pack 2. I received Hades for Christmas, so too late to give it any attention. Though, I asked for Hades for Christmas because Chris played and enjoyed it so much. Perhaps next year, we can have more variety in our game playing.
We played this twice as a family. The first time, we played “Job Job” by Liam’s request. Then we played “Wheel of Enormous Proportions”. Both got the family laughing and having fun. Then, I think I mentioned that we tried to play at Christmas, but a mishap with controllers prevented that. Finally, we played the other day. We played “Drawful” and “Weapons Drawn”. We actually played “Drawful” twice. We haven’t played “Roll Mine” yet. Christine didn’t like the “Weapons Drawn” game, but the others have all been a hit. If you want a party game that’s quick and a lot of fun, this fits that bill.
How weird is it that our console game of the year 2020 actually came out in March 2019? I mean, if you’re at all familiar with our page, it isn’t that weird at all. We are nothing if not unabashedly retro in our sensibilities. Something about this year dragged me kicking and screaming into a more modern gamer. Chris, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to retro gaming and I love him for it.
True to gaming in 2020, MK11 reached its “final form” over a year and a half after being released. In April, Aftermath came out to continue the story, gave us friendships and new stage fatalities, and added three new characters. More recently, Kombat Pack 2 gave us 3 more new characters. So, you could absolutely argue Mortal Kombat was better to us this year than last.
It feels like I just wrote the article in that last paragraph. Well, I have a couple of days to rework this article and get it published.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Humble Beginnings
If you told me last year that I’d pick Mortal Kombat 11 for this article, I’d not have believed you. I received the game as a gift from a friend. In a true dink move, I didn’t touch it for the first few months I owned it. Actually, it wasn’t a dink move. Not consciously at least. The XBox was upstairs in the game room that became Aiden’s room. I was busy with school, too.
Finally, after those few months of gentle reminders by said friend, I logged into the game. Not entirely understanding how the game might be different from the previous few iterations, I played a few games. Yep, this is Mortal Kombat all right. For good and for bad. Little did I know how much this game would come to dominate my life over the next two years.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Familiarity Breeds Contempt?
Not at all in this case. My friend gave me the version that came with Kombat Pack 1 already included. All the fighters were there for me. Sure, in some cases, I had to download them. Also, Shao Khan and Frost both cost and extra 5 dollars. Now that I think about it, the Frost thing had to be a classic Ed Boon MK troll because you unlocked her simply by playing through the story mode. Everyone was there, though. All the classics like Johnny, Sub Zero, Scorp, and my favorite Liu Kang. Throw in some Newbies like Kitana and Jax. Finish with a sprinkling of the next generation, Cassie and Jacqui. It’s all wheat and no chaff.
Getting back to that story mode. Eventually, it hooked me on the game. I don’t remember how or why, but I moved the XBox into our bedroom and started playing the story mode. I wrote a review for the story. That’s how impressive I thought it was. Once the game got me hooked, my friend mentioned that you could “AI” the towers. Once I discovered that, I played the game daily to get those sweet, sweet cosmetics.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Aftermath
As happens with any game, I grew tired of beating the same towers over and over again simply to rise in the ranks and get a single new skin for being in the top 5%. I rediscovered Diablo 3. Quinn and I started an epic world in Minecraft. MTGA grabbed more and more of my attention. Because of Covid, I spent more time obsessing over online learning.
I simply had no time for Mortal Kombat 11. Then, Aftermath released. I did two videos (two of three or four this year, so more than recent years!) reacting to the trailer and friendships. The new characters got me playing towers again to get new skins. A weekly Kronika quest kept me logging in on a regular basis.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Summer Lull and Kombat Pack 2
Eventually, I tired even of the regular loot from Kronika and the towers started to repeat again at a nauseating rate. I played more Pokemon Go and went for 2 hours walks to kill the time. Don’t forget Diablo 3 and MTGA. There’s only so much Mortal Kombat one person can take. My limit is apparently a couple of months before I start to stray again.
Clearly, Ed Boon realized that and released Kombat Pack 2. I reviewed this last month. Ever since the release, I’ve played daily again to get the last month of skins on the Towers of Time. Except for yesterday, I’ve been grabbing the Kronika vaults again. It just completely slipped my mind. Damn, I’m sad now. Oh well, maybe there will be another way to get the items. Or, maybe I just won’t sweat it too much. Okay, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, it seems like every time I get bored with the game, something new comes along. It’s similar to the CCG treadmill. They can’t keep this going forever on MK11. And, it seems like this last Kombat Pack might be the last unless there is a surprise announcement early next year. However, it just feels like they’ve milked this cash cow dry.
Mortal Kombat 11 has some new strategies to it. I’m not capable of executing many of them. Hell, I’m still stuck on the Raiden combo in the tutorial. But, watching more and more streams lately, I can see that they’ve included a deep and rich fighting engine. It’s no Tekken or Virtua Fighter. But, it’s better than bully your opponent into the corner and juggle cheese.
The inclusion of new guest stars have kept the game fresh. Plus, I still have to play through the Aftermath story. There’s enough to keep me going in Mortal Kombat 11 until at least the spring when the weather starts to get nice or I buy a PlayStation 5. Even though I played much more Hearthstone, Mortal Kombat 11 is, by far, the most fun I’ve had with a game in the last year.
In our last article, we reviewed our 2020 in console and PC gaming. You probably noticed one big omission from our list. That’s by design. Every week, we’ve done a look back, a look ahead, and then crowned the game of the year for mobile, tabletop, and now console and PC gaming. This article will take a console look ahead 2020. Luckily, both Sony and Microsoft released new consoles recently.
That’s right. The long (?) awaited XBox Series X and PS5 hit the market last month. Before I go on, allow me some time to vent. Following up on my question in the image, “Why does Microsoft insist on such difficult naming convention for their consoles?” If they wanted to be different and pretentious, there are always Roman numerals. I wonder how many kids are going to get the wrong console because it’s the XBox Series X, but there is also an XBox One Series X. I found this out as I was researching this article. Okay, rant over.
Honestly, at this point, there’s no point in reviewing specs for the two. As my 13 year old has already discovered, both consoles are essentially the same in that regard. “Dad, why do people fight about Sony and XBox?” I’m not sure, Buddy, other than people just need to fight about things. I say, “Life’s too short. Enjoy all the things.” What, then, will I discuss? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never been this close to actually buying a “next gen” console this close to launch date. Discover with me what this console look ahead 2020 is going to be.
Sony PlayStation 5
For the 5th generation of Sony’s famous PlayStation (I know that because it’s called the PlayStation 5), they’ve gone with a sleeker design than previous generations. I honestly have no idea why. Every other PlayStation has been a brick and we’ve liked it!
If I’m being honest here, I find the design off putting. I’m not usually much of a traditional American. However, when it comes to my consoles, I like them like I like my women. Thick and beefy like bull. Uh, I may have revealed too much with that comment. Forget it was ever said.
Moving on, Chris mentioned in one of our conversations that he prefers PlayStation to XBox. Because Sony is primarily a Japanese company, they give access to obscure Japanese fighting and RPG titles that he likes. I’m not as familiar with those types of games. However, there are some exclusive titles like Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank, and especially Spider-Man that I find intriguing.
Microsoft XBox Series X or S or SX or SSX Tricky (another timely reference)
I mean, seriously. Again, I’m not usually one to criticize a name (unless it is stupid, outdated, and racist). But, what the hell is that name? It makes it sound like there have been 10 of these things. Given all the redesigns and such, maybe there have been. Also, what is the S? Small? Who the hell knows?
That reminds me. I haven’t even discussed that aspect of the consoles. In addition to the “main” release, both companies have designed a digital only version of their consoles. Chris and I planned to get together to talk about this in the latest attempt at getting the podcast up and running. But, and check off this bingo square again, life got in the way. This time it is much more serious than anything in the past, but I do hope we get a chance to talk at each other more about this soon.
Regarding the Series X, look at that monster. It’s like Microsoft finally just shrugged and said, “F**k it. If we’re going to build a PC, here’s your PC, ingrates.” That thing is a monster. It will be the only thing left in your house with the cockroaches after the nuclear fallout or the supervolcano under Yellowstone finally blows. The Series S is much more dainty like the PS5.
Now, about those exclusives. It does feel weird having a console war about exclusive software. But, honestly, what other differences are there at this point? I bought an XBox one simply because at the time it had Minecraft because Microsoft had just acquired Mojang. They can no longer say that. I think you can play Minecraft on your toaster at this point.
That’s not to say that they don’t have exclusives. There’s Halo (shameful Noob admission here, I’ve never played it), Gears of War (which Chris and I love for couch coop), and Forza. I looked up Forza a few weeks ago when someone reminded me of Gran Turismo (my all time favorite racing game besides the one Chris showed me where you could pimp your car and street race). Honestly, though, that PS lineup looks stronger.
The Verdict (Console Look Ahead 2020 ended up just being a discussion of games)
Time to wrap up this console look ahead 2020. Technically, I guess it is for 2021 since the consoles came out for the Christmas holiday and, if I get one at all this close to launch it won’t be until February or March at the earliest, but we’re not much for technicalities around here. We are for run on sentences though and that one was a doozy. Sorry, focus, we’re almost done here.
Like I said, it feels weird to Bloods/Crips over software, but here we are. I do like Gears of War for couch coop like I said. I’m not a Halo guy and I tried Forza but it didn’t grab me. Sony has Ratchet and Clank, which Liam said he’d play. Last of Us is my FOMO game of the last two years. Plus, Spider-Man. Need I say more? I will. I just learned that Gran Turismo 7 is scheduled for next year. Sony it is. But, all of this conversation is moot because we all know Nintendo has the best exclusives by far.
In this “final” week of 2020 here at 2 Guys Gaming, we’re starting with a familiar refrain. Similar to mobile two weeks ago and tabletop last week, I’m going to do a console look back 2020. I put final in quotes because I currently don’t have anything planned for next week. That may change depending on how motivated I feel after the holidays. However, I’ve been really good about updating this page for this year and especially the last few months.
Besides, I have to get ready for the re-relaunch of the podcast and the re-re-re(?)-relaunch of the YouTube Channel. Also, who else can stream myself playing terrible games while making equally terrible dad jokes? I know that some can do either, but I’m confident that I’m the only one who can do both. Be on the lookout. 2021 is going to be 2 Guys Gaming’s year. Oh crap, we weren’t supposed to say that. Never mind.
Ah, who am I kidding? I will get some ridiculous idea or another to fill next week and we’ll all be here to do it all again. Perhaps I’ll review some of the new games we get for Christmas (even though that is tentatively on the schedule for January). Maybe I will convince the family to try Dungeons and Dragons again (if I can ever find my adventure I wrote). Oh, actually, I’ve got it. But, now, you just have to wait in suspense to find out what it is. For now, let’s dive into the console look back 2020. Note: I’m going to include PC in this as well, but the titles are already getting too long for my SEO optimizer.
Long time readers of th epage know that I have a love/love relationship with Torchlight 2. It is even the topic of a now lost (thankfully in retrospect) episode 2 of the original podcast. I played Torchlight 2 far more than any of the Diablo games. Until Diablo 3. I think I bought it after Chris and I did some couch co-op at his place.
At first, it took some time to get used to the XBox controls. I also played the Marvel ARPG, Marvel Heroes, a ton on the PC. The controls on the PC for these types of games are just so intuitive. Easily and fully customizable, too. You can customize your build on the XBox, but the controls are not. They take some getting used to. I nearly stopped playing the game altogether because of the controls.
I kept playing. The story hooked me and we all know I’m a sucker for good story. The loot impressed me. I’m not usually one for loot, but Blizzard does a good job with their loot and cosmetics. I kept playing. Then, one day, something clicked. I enjoyed the game. The controls no longer kept me from doing mega damage with my rotation. I still have to finish the game, but that’s only a matter of time.
Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons
These are two very different games. Minecraft is what it has always been. As I heard it described by some boomer reporter years ago, “You mine. And you craft.” As simple as it is, that’s literally all the game involves. How can it possibly be so popular then?
I can’t speak for anyone else. However, in my experience, the game is fun because it is one of the few modern games I can play with my kids. We have all spent countless hours on survival worlds mining entire mountains and crafting more than one nether portal. Sure, not that impressive to the Minecraft pros out there, but always an achievement when we finally get the experience of dying on another plane.
Quinn and I started a new world recently. Well, he started it and I joined it one day. Within the first hour of playing I had already fished up an epic fishing rod and several strong bows. We’ve both died in the nether and lost more than one of those epic rods in the weeks since. He built a villager farm that one day vanished. All in all, we are in it for the long haul on this one. In fact, he just ran another plan by me earlier this evening.
We haven’t played Minecraft Dungeons recently. For a few weeks over the summer, it hooked us both. I liked the Diablo like gameplay. He enjoyed the Minecraft setting. I logged in a couple of weeks ago to see they updated the game in many ways. We will be sure to play this one over break.
What would a PC/console article be without me swearing about our favorite CCG that we all love to hate. Yes, it’s true that more often than not, the love/hate relationship is cemented firmly in hate. That is not the case this time. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t partially include Hearthstone on the console look back 2020 list just to make the mad nerds mad.
You might have heard about the kerfuffle surrounding the release of a “battle pass” for the game about a month ago. I, personally, didn’t see what the problem was. The mad nerds, though, attacked Blizzard, streamers, and even each other for not being mad enough nerds about it.
In spite of that, I come not to bury Heartstone, but to praise it. I genuinely like the latest expansion, Battlegrounds is a fun time waster of a mode, and I will even play a game of Duels now and then. Someone wrote an article that Hearthstone is the healthiest it’s ever been. Like Magic, you can argue if you want. But, I agree. The game is so much fun.
The console look back 2020 shows that this aspect of our gaming wasn’t as varied as mobile, certainly, but also tabletop. Nevertheless, the games I played were fun. Quinn and I have to continue that world we started. I need to finish Diablo 3. Hearthstone will continue to occupy my time until I finish the reward track. What about the new consoles? I’m glad you asked. Join me on Wednesday for that discusssion.
I watched “High Score” Episode 1 yesterday while I was working out. It was suggested to me by Netflix when I logged into the account to watch another docuseries I had been watching, “Champions”. Well, not one to pass up history of video games, I switched for the next week or so. Look, I realize that this isn’t at all related to Nintendo or Pokemon, as promised earlier in the week. However, TLDR, it was good enough to inspire me to write this review.
Space Invaders – “Grandpa”
There’s a reason that I went gender specific with the subtitle and it isn’t strictly personal bias. They mention in the episode that women felt left out of the realm of video games. I think the exact quote was, “There are no games for women.” That’s not a surprise. For much of the history of math and related subjects, women have been a footnote of that history. Unless, they are seen as consumers to be exploited. But, more on that in the next section.
My favorite part of the Space Invaders story is that a woman became the first Space Invaders world champion. And so, once again, a woman ignored the restrictions placed on her by society and proved herself as the “best man for the job”. Congrats, Rebecca Heineman, your story was inspiring and I genuinely smiled at the conclusion.
Before we move on, a couple of notable factoids. The game was so popular that arcades were often called “Invader houses”. Also, Japan suffered a 100-yen coin shortage because of that popularity. Crazy.
Pac-Man – “A little somethin somethin for the ladies”
I will give the compsci nerds credit. When they realized that women weren’t playing video games, they tried to do something about it. Generally speaking, that segment of the population (be it women or men like me) aren’t attracted to games that are simply shooting at things. Enter Pac-Man.
The creator of the game insists that the iconic shape is, in fact, inspired by a pizza with one slice missing. No idea if that’s actually true, but it does validate years of speculation. During the segment, they talk to two teenage girls from the time that seem to uphold the theory that Pac-Man brought girls into video games. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve always preferred Pac-Man from that generation of video games.
I hadn’t planned on ending each section with a random factoid, but I have one for our round yellow friend. His name was originally Puck Man, which makes more sense. However, as Puck very easily becomes a well know obscenity, they changed it.
Father of the Cartridge – Jerry Lawson
They interviewed his kids in High Score episode 1. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. However, when his son said his name, I paused briefly and said, “Hey, I know that name.” It’s no wonder why. For a generation of gamers my age, he revolutionized the way we played. No longer were consoles restricted to one game any more.
With cartridges, as his son says, your library increased exponentially. Alas, other than video game historian nerds like me, his name has been relegated to an afterthought. Once Atari got into the cartridge business, nobody else stood a chance. More on that 900-lb gorilla in the next section.
Random Factoid: When I was younger, I split my head open and had to get 14 stitches. My parents, so impressed by my handling of the situation, let me get a gift. I chose Jungle Hunt because I played the game in the arcade and enjoyed it so much. Incidentally, when we got the Atari 7800, I bought the game again, making it the first game I purchased more than once.
Atari – “Big Bad”
Like most people at the time, I loved Atari. Even after they crashed and burned with ET (see next section), I still loved the company and support them even today. I haven’t ordered their new console, yet. However, one of the first things I do when I get a new computer is download Stella and a few of my favorite games.
I probably should have, but I had no idea that they were such bullies in the industry. It started innocently enough as a bunch of guys making video games. Then, the company sold to Warner and its a tale as old as time. The suits tried to squeeze every last penny out of the company. They sued a bunch of college kids for making improvements to their games. They bullied Midway into allowing them to release a version of Pac-Man using pretty much the same technology that they attempted to end with the lawsuit. And then, their come uppance.
Random Factoid: I promised a conversation about ET in the next section. Before that, I did want to speak on the process. Apparently, the programmer had 5 weeks to program the game. At the time, it took anywhere from 6-8 months to develop a game. Also, when meeting with Steven Spielberg (after only 36 hours to develop a pitch), the programmer said that Spielberg wanted the game to be more like Pac-Man. See, it could have been worse.
ET – What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Apparently, you can’t have a video game documentary without mentioning ET. Hell, they made a whole movie about that single game. As is often the case, the story is a bit more complicated than just ET killed Atari.
But, for the sake of this article, I’m choosing to be poetic about it. Karma can be swift and furious vengeance. Atari paid for their hubris when they made the “worst game ever.
Random Factoid: I know I’ve told this story before, but here goes. I liked the ET game. Yes, the controls are frustrating. Sure, given more time, they could have polished it a bit more. But, I played the hell out of it and beat the game. Hell, it is one of the games that I download first after configuring Stella. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s gotten. Alas, that’s how myths grow.
The Verdict – High Score episode 1 makes me want to watch the rest of the series
If you read the TLDR at the beginning of the article and you are still here, it bears repeating. High Score episode 1 is entertaining and engaging. I’m looking forward to watching the other five episodes. If you like human interest stories or video games, then I think you’ll like this series. Come watch with me!
Welcome to our Minecraft Review: Nether Update. I feel like Quinn has been talking about this update for a while now. Some of the YouTubers he watches must have gotten early or beta access and were showing it off. Every couple of days when we loaded up the game, he would remark, “I wonder when we’re ever going to get the Nether Update.” Well, we finally have.
However, I have to admit that we haven’t been able to explore the nether as much as we hoped. We actually tried the other day and it ended quite poorly. First Quinn died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Then, I went to help him and I died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Rinse and repeat a few times.
So, we did discover one thing. Mobs in the Nether now spawn much faster than before. I don’t think that they are any tougher necessarily, but there are so many of them that you can become overrun very quickly. So, a word of warning there. However, bear in mind that our experience was in a Nether Fortress. Outside of the fortress, all we encountered were zombie pigmen and I think Quinn called them striders.
So, apologies that I haven’t been able to do my due diligence on this update just yet. File in under “U” for “unsurprising”. In the meantime, I will work on some recon and also the videos of worlds promised a few weeks ago. And stay tuned for an actual Minecraft Review: Nether Update soon.
Thanks for reading Minecraft Dungeons First Look! I was going to call this a review and, technically speaking, it qualifies. However, I’ve only played through about an hour and a half with Quinn, so it is by no means comprehensive. So, to finish out another Minecraft week, let’s talk about Minecraft Dungeons.
I’m not sure how I learned about the game. I think it came up as a suggestion in the store perhaps. That’s probably it. That’s not entirely relevant other than I learned about the game late as usual. When I told Quinn about it, he said something about a YouTuber he watches talking about the game.
The game was advertised as a classic dungeon crawler in the Minecraft style. For some reason, I couldn’t envision that. Even watching video, I was confused. What do they mean, dungeon crawler. Then, I played the game and it clicked. Oh, this is just Minecraft Diablo. I’ve just always put Diablo in the ARPG category. So, labels are dumb, Folks. Now that I’ve played it, let’s take a first look.
Fun! – The game is a ton of fun. I mean, at least to me, that’s the only qualifier for a game to be good. Sure, story and graphics are nice little cherries on top. But, there’s only one thing that I ultimately care about. Is the game fun. This game is. I had fun. Quinn kept saying during our play time, “This game is so fun!” A friend just texted me last night to say, “Minecraft Dugeons is so damn addicting.”
Familiar – This game isn’t Minecraft. But, it’s not meant to be. With that being said, it’s familiar enough that you will find yourself doing a double take when you aren’t able to mine that cobblestone over there or you take damage from a runaway minecart.
Helpful – We all know Minecraft is a kid’s game, right? Nevermind all those streamers on Twitch. By and large, the audience of Minecraft is kids and maybe their parents. Mojang hasn’t forgotten those roots and includes helpful hints and tips as you play. There’s even an icon that points you in the right direction in case you get lost. Very nice touch.
Tough? – Don’t mistake the game as a kid’s game for one that isn’t challenging. Sometimes, games remove the challenge. That’s incredibly frustrating for me. Thankfully, the Lego games don’t. Mojang seems to have taken a page from their book. The game is tough. Quinn and I wiped multiple times against a particular boss, even with the two of us.
Limited – I don’t know if this is true, but the game does feel limited. As Quinn and I were playing, there aren’t a ton of different types of drops from what I can see. The map feels small. And, like any of these games, there isn’t much to combat. X,X,X,X,A,X,X,X,X,A,B,X,X,X. There are two expansions already planned and maybe more will come if the game is popular. Until then, expect to be a bit frustrated by how little there is. Even Quinn said, “Wow, I haven’t played this game much and I think I might already be close to beating it.”
Lego Failure – Mojang took a page from Lego’s book and made the game challenging. They appear to not have learned from the mistakes that Lego once made. Way back when, Lego games forced both characters to be in the same area on screen. This was incredibly frustrating for a young father of young kids. I think it was one of the Batman games. I’m not sure. But, eventually, they allowed for a split screen so that each person could explore individually. That was a huge QoL improvement that isn’t in Minecraft Dungeons. Not a huge deal, but as an explorer, it’s not ideal.
After a Minecraft Dungeons first look, I can confidently say that it is a game that will see quite a bit of play from us here at 2 Generations Gaming. I would, obviously, like to beat the game with Quinn and maybe Aiden if he chooses to play. Then, I’d like to do what I usually do with these types of games and replay it to explore. I was so bummed when they shut down the Torchlight 2 servers. I put so much time into that game. D3 has been a bit slower, but I have times that I’m very much interested in that one. Minecraft Dungeons will join that group for sure.
Every year in December and January, I come out of hibernation long enough to get inspired to work on the web page.A� Usually, that only lasts until February when I start back to school and everything falls into a state of disrepair for a few months.A� I am not the type to do resolutions, but this year I hope to power though those months of inactivity and instead make the page what I always hoped it would be.
As part of that plan, I’m going to start playing Skyrim and Fallout 3 again.A� That, too, is tradition.A� However, this year definitely feels different.A� I have, so far, avoided the post holiday “blues”.A� In the past, that is one of the things that has kept me from contributing to the page on a regular basis.A� If I can just keep that momentum going, things will be good around here.
I started my trip back into Bethesda fantasy RPG this time with Skyrim.A� At first, my XBox 360 door did not cooperate and I was afraid that this plan might be dead in the water.A� However, through persistence (and a little bit of muscle, a steak knife, and a lot of swearing), I got the game up and running.A� What better way to start this adventure that with a quest!
Once I loaded the game and continued from my last save state, I texted Kevin to laugh that starting back with these games after months off was always an experience (pun not intended).A� He replied that it always took him about a half an hour to get acquainted again with the story, his character, items, etc.A� That’s about how long it took me.
It didn’t help that apparently I saved the game in the sewers and the color scheme was nearly monochromatic.A� That alone made me almost quit the game and restart.A� On top of that, the reason I was in the sewer was that I was on the Thieves Guild quests.A� I had to collect three debts from people.A� It took me at least 3 failed tries of killing the first person and being put in jail before I considered restarting again.
I didn’t restart.A� I got smart.A� A�In all honesty, I stumbled on quest completion by accident.A� Instead of pulling out my mace and bludgeoning her to death and then having to beat the rest of the town to death, too, before either dying or ending up in jail, I simply punched her until she submitted.A� Not necessarily good, but at least it finally advanced the story.
What are the chances that I continue playing to beat that story?A� That’s been my goal for the six years that I’ve owned the game.A� I can honestly say that after this latest play session, I don’t know.A� That’s unusual for me.A� I’m usually a big fan of the D&D style fantasy.
We slept in the living room last night as a family and we plan on it again tonight, so I played some Hearthstone and Minecraft on the computer.A� Therefore, I didn’t get a chance to play last night to see if I could find that hook.A� That’s the main problem.A� I’m just not that interested in the main story.A� When I played the other day, I completed the quest to be inducted into the Thieves Guild and I was so excited that I completely zoned out on the conversation that led into the follow up quest.
That’s not an isolated incident.A� When I first got the game, I played it for 50 hours over two weeks.A� I was unemployed and had a young child who napped daily back then.A� How did I play 50 hours and only make it to the Thieves Guild quests?A� A majority of that time was not spent questing.A� Mainly, I roamed the countryside looking for butterfly wings and flowers to increase my alchemy skill.
I took stock of what my life had become and didn’t like it one bit.A� So, I put the game to the side for the first time.A� As I wrote, I’ve since given it a few more chances.A� Here I am giving it one more.A� One last?
What keeps me coming back?A� Obviously, I don’t have to like the game.A� Sure, it is almost universally considered to be one of the best games, both in the series and overall.A� It’s not like I’m ever shy about going against conventional wisdom.A� It’s clearly not a “keeping up with the Joneses”.
I think that it just goes back to what I wrote earlier.A� I’m usually a fan of any type of fantasy setting and I’m a fan of RPGs.A� I suppose that I just have to face facts and realize that if I’m going to beat this game, I may just have to power through the story that I don’t like very much.A� It’s either that or hope that some aspect (besides chasing butterflies) of the story finally hooks and speaks to me.A� As it stands right now, I’d much rather play the apocalyptic future version of the game in Fallout 3.A� Maybe I will just do that and try again with this game once I’ve finished Fallout.
(Editor’s Note: A�We did several of these last year with Mario. A�However, while we dedicated an entire month to Mario, we’re only giving Zelda a single article.)
Only one article for Zelda, perhaps one of the most iconic video game franchises ever? A�Look, this isn’t meant to insult Link and company. A�I simply don’t have as extensive a history with Zelda. A�Unlike Mario, which has gameplay simple enough that they made it into a mobile game, Zelda requires much more of a time commitment. A�I’m no longer at a point in my life when I can devote weeks of my life playing a game for hours a day.
I remember certain things vividly from childhood. A�While that probably isn’t abnormal, some of my formative memories are strange. A�For instance, I remember one Christmas trip to my maternal grandmother’s house. A�Well, who wouldn’t want to remember holidays with family? A�It’s not that. A�Keep reading. A�Overall, these trips weren’t terribly memorable. A�Most of them, along with similar trips to visit my father’s family, are part of that amalgam of “holiday” memories that occupy space and occasionally bubble up into my consciousness. A�Not this memory, though.
So, what’s so special about this Christmas trip and what does it have to do with Zelda? A�Stick with me just a bit more. A�I promise a pay off soon. A�This isn’t just therapy time with Noob. A�During this visit, I did what I often do during a big get together. A�I searched for a quiet place to recharge. A�That search led me to a room with a Nintendo (original NES) and I think a projector and pull down movie screen. A�I may be making up that last part. A�Either way, the game being played was the original Legend of Zelda.
This nerd shame stems from the fact that, unlike Mario, I never actually played the NES Zelda game. A�The first one that I played was the SNES classic “A Link to the Past”. A�That’s when my actual “lifelong” obsession with The Legend of Zelda began. A�The graphics are the SNES sprite based of my childhood. A�The story rivaled that of Final Fantasy III, one of my favorites from that system. A�I was hooked.
While I loved that game, it isn’t my favorite in the series. A�That honor goes to Ocarina of Time. A�I know that many people say that its sister N64 title, Majora’s Mask, is the superior title. A�However, I’ve never played that one. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�How can you have a comprehensive history without one of the best games? A�Well, first I never promised the complete history. A�Just my history.
Similar to the Mario title for the N64, it took everything great about the game and added a third dimension. A�You had to worry about depth and height when fighting against bosses. A�Dungeons, a multilayered affair in previous games, now gave the developer free reign and they took full advantage. A�Also considered one of the most frustrating levels, the water temple is one of the most unique and innovative designs ever.
By not only giving your character the ability to swim, but also making it integral to the level design, Ocarina of Time achieved full 3D motion and showcased what the big deal was about 3D gaming. A�I think I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating. A�Even though 3D is the obvious current standard in video games now, there was a time when people argued against it. A�One of their main arguments was that the camera angle and controls would go wonky every now and then. A�Unfortunately, they usually had a point with N64 games.
I’m pretty sure that I never beat that game. A�I can’t say for certain because it was a while ago, but that was during a time in my life when I worked a ton, so it probably never got finished. A�As an aside, now that I think about it, there’s not been a time in my life since I started working that I haven’t worked a bunch. A�Okay, not exactly relevant. A�Just had to get that off my chest.
The fact that I didn’t finish the game is not that big of a tragedy, either. A�With the power of computers now at the level to allow for reliable N64 emulation, I can play the game any time that I want. A�And, now, just writing about it, I actually want to play the game again. A�Heck, I even have my USB N64 controllers! A�Okay, I know what I’m doing over the next few days.
My last stop on the Zelda train was Wind Waker. A�No, I didn’t hate the game so much that I stopped playing them. A�I know that the graphics were a huge controversy at the time, but I loved them. A�I enjoy that Nintendo sometimes takes big risks with the title because familiarity can breed contempt. A�I’m also glad that they didn’t make those graphics the standard because I’m enjoying the more realistic graphics of Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild as their systems get more powerful. A�However for Wind Waker, the graphics fit in with the theme of the game perfectly.
Even though I never played Twilight Princess or Breath of the Wild, I’ve been keeping up with the series through those games. A�Being a Nintenerd, I really want the Switch, but couldn’t justify the price tag right now. A�However, they have announced a new 2D Street Fighter game for it. A�Along with Breath of the Wild, a new Mario game, and the possibility of a new Metroid game, I suppose it is only a matter of time before I end up getting one.
(Editor’s Note: A�Remember when I said that the tutorial for Pokemon Sun and Moon was long? A�Well, it turns out that it was even longer than that! A�In fact, almost a month later, I’m still learning how ride that darn bike!)
Okay, so the last part of that note is included for humorous effect. A�These games don’t even have a bike as far as I know, but you can ride a Tauros and that’s way cooler! A�But, the tutorial of the game goes on forever. A�Thankfully, it integrates seamlessly into gameplay, so it isn’t nearly as tedious as many games make their tutorials. A�Granted, I’m an old man gamer who doesn’t even think that there should be a tutorial mode or, at the very least, it should be voluntary. A�You dang whipper snappers should read the instructions. A�Either that, or man mode the game. A�If you die because you didn’t know about a certain mechanic, you die. A�Learn from your mistakes or suffer the consequences.
But, we live in a time when tutorials are a mandatory part of the game. A�So, in true old guy gamer fashion, I’m going to complain about the younger generation not being able to adapt to changing circumstances while I exhibit the same tendency myself. A�When I was your age, we didn’t need tutorials to introduce us to the mechanics of games. A�Sure, you might argue that when I was your age, we only had a single joystick and button configuration, so it wasn’t like games offered that much in the way of mechanics. A�Hell, Grandpa, you could say, Pac-Man didn’t even use the button or any diagonal motion in its moves set.
Okay, now that I’m done arguing with myself, I can continue my review of Poemon Sun. A�Admittedly, I haven’t had as much time to play it recently because Quinn discovered it. A�Similar to his older brother, he stole it from me and played through a significant portion. A�However, that happened after I was able to play through the first two trials. A�He got me pretty far into the island with the volcano trial. A�In fact, he got me so far that I was disoriented when I picked up the game and started playing again.
Let’s be honest, though. A�It’s not like Pokemon gameplay is that involved, either. A�Once the initial shock of waking up miles from where you fell asleep wears off, you go back to walking in such a way that yo avoid any contact with other people because your social anxiety extends even into fiction worlds. A�Oh, is that just me?
When Quinn wasn’t playing and doing whatever it is that five year old boys do…okay, and let’s unpack that statement a little bit before I continue. A�We converted what might have been attic space into a playroom for the kids. A�We carpeted it, painted it twice (once because Aiden wanted to use it as a bedroom), and bought an absurd amount of packing crates and shelving units to ensure that things remained in their place. A�All noble endeavors, right?
Well, the carpet is covered with all manner of dried paint and Playdoh, the paint job is chipped right down to the primer in several places, and the crates and shelves remain empty even as Lego pieces, Pokemon cards, Minecraft mini figures, and my various loot items from all sorts of loot crate type subscription boxes litter the floor and make travel through the room dangerous at best and quite often nearly fatal. A�So, what exactly is it that 5 year olds do? A�I’m not entirely sure. A�But, it would seem that everything that they do results in chaos and misery for everyone else involved.
Luckily, Quinn’s adventures in my Sun game weren’t quite so destructive. A�Unlike real life, he understands and appreciates just how important Pokemon can be to a person, so I don’t think he wanted to upset the apple cart too much. A�A�In fact, he actually helped quite a bit and got me several new Pokemon, advanced the story almost to the point where I can attempt the next trial, and generally treated my digital life with the utmost respect.
When I finally got the game back from him and was able to play more than he was, I got back into the groove of the game. A�At the risk of sounding like a broken record or a shill, or a shill that was recorded on a broken record, I really enjoy the game. A�I mean, this shouldn’t come as a shock because I’ve been a fan of the Pokemon series since the beginning, but I haven’t played a Pokemon game seriously since Diamond. A�I’ve wanted to pick up a few that Liam got, but I didn’t want to delete his only save file.
So, I honestly couldn’t say going in that I was going to enjoy the game. A�I can now definitively say that Pokemon is still a fun game series even if you’re 40 years old. A�I got a taste of that when Pokemon Go released, but like many mobile games these days, they knew that they could release an unfinished product and get millions of free beta testers as they worked on things behind the scenes. A�I’m not sure who to blame ultimately for this development, but I know that Blizzard has done this sort of thing for years and took it to a new level with Hearthstone. A�I honestly don’t think they do any in house testing on that game.
However, while Pokemon Go was undeniably unfinished at release, Nintendo and Game Freak have had a 2 decade track record with the Pokemon franchise on their mobile consoles. A�It shows. A�While the basic gameplay hasn’t changed, they have done some quality of life improvements that aren’t big, but they add to the game and keep you coming back for more. A�Also, the story and setting are different enough and engaging enough that you want to keep playing to advance that aspect of the game. A�Overall, I’ve been enjoying the game. A�It has accomplished several goals of getting me back into the Pokemon world and even considering buying some of the Sun and Moon cards to see what the game adds to that aspect of the world.
Articles, podcasts, videos, and more about games and occasionally pop culture