VIDEO GAME: Pokémon X (2013)

Pokémon X Year: 2013 Rating: E Time Played: 36.37 hours When I finally bought a 3DS, one of the games I had missed (that I quickly rectified) was Pokémon X. I appreciated all the legendary Pokémon given out as part of the 20th anniversary of the Generation 1 games. Still, I didn’t get around to playing through this game until after Pokémon Sun came out. For the first game in the series to be fully 3D, I certainly enjoyed the look and polish of it, even if the stereoscopic abilities of the 3DS weren’t used as much as they should have been. After all, with everything rendered with 3D visuals, I want the full game to use the ability of the hardware to display in 3D. After playing the much more difficult Generation 5 games, I did enjoy how much easier they made Pokémon X. Granted, they kind of overdid it with the sharp drop in difficulty. Still, I also think they were trying to...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Pokémon Sun (2016)

Pokémon SunYear: 2016Rating: ETime Played: 115.37 hours While I grew up with the original 1st Generation Pokémon games, I had lost interest in the series just after Gen. 3. This was around the time I headed off to college, so I didn’t have as much time for video games as I did while in high school. Fast forward to the 20th anniversary of Pokémon and the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon. There were plenty of legendary Pokémon being given out at the time, so I found it was as good a time as any to get back into the series. A lot had changed since I left, and Pokémon Sun carried over plenty of these changes. I appreciated a lot of these tweaks, including the removal of HMs and unlimited-use TMs. And while adjusting the “experience share” to give experience to all the Pokémon in my team made the game a little easier, it also reduced the amount of grind that...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Pokémon Sword (2019)

Pokémon Sword Year: 2019 Rating: E Time Played: 92.03 hours As with any new iteration of a long-running franchise, it’s equally interesting to see how the formula is changed to make things interesting while also cutting out some of the tedium present in previous installments. While Pokémon Sword has certainly improved some of the quality of life issues present in the franchise, some of the newer features still need a bit of work to be fully enjoyable. That being said, for the first time in many generations, I was able to (almost) completely fill my Pokédex (even with the DLC Pokémon, having not actually bought it) while playing entirely by myself. I still have a few evolutions I need another friend for, but they account for ~1% of the total. I was somewhat pleased with the introduction of the “Gigantamaxing” mechanic, even if it was essentially a combination of Mega Evolution and Z-Moves from Generations 6 and 7, respectively. The annoying thing about these special...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: What the Golf? (2019)

What the Golf?Year: 2019Rating: E10+Time Played: 5.27 hours It seems to me that modern indie games fall into two categories: art and humor. While games like Journey and Gris trend toward the art, games like Untitled Goose Game and What the Golf? are solidly in the humor category. Of course, the humor in What the Golf? is best appreciated by those who are familiar with a wide variety of video games. Just off the top of my head, this game references Super Mario Bros., Angry Birds, Superhot, Portal, Metal Gear Solid, and Super Meat Boy. Even without this referential humor, What the Golf? does have enough amusing moments for anyone to enjoy. The biggest problem I found with this game is its difficulty and replay value. Granted, I haven’t found someone to explore the co-op mode on the Switch version, but I completed the base game in just over five hours. Since I also took the time to collect some of the...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Animal Crossing – New Horizons (2020)

Animal Crossing: New HorizonsYear: 2020Rating: ETime Played: 195+ hours I’d never had any interest in the Animal Crossing series before New Horizons came out. I didn’t get the point of it. There didn’t seem to be any objective other than paying off a loan to a capitalist raccoon. That being said, when I saw the first trailer for New Horizons, my interest was immediately piqued. While the graphics were sharp and adorable, the crafting and terraforming mechanics seemed to give me the flexibility I’d want in such a simulation game. And while there is plenty to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, at a certain point, it becomes a repetitive chore. By now, this game is my most-played on my Switch. I’ve put in the time and effort to build a 5-star island and have long paid off my house (thanks to a fortunate week in the “stalk market”). I have orchards full of the different varieties of trees, flowerbeds on their...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World (2015)

Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World Year: 2015 Rating: E Time Played: 11.35 hours It’s weird to think that it has been 20 years since Yoshi split off into its own franchise. The sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island established the franchise’s game mechanics and the titular character’s movements back in 1995. Since then, there haven’t been too many entries in the core series. Yoshi’s Story rehashed some of the gameplay a little over a decade after Yoshi’s Island, just like Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World managed to do a decade after that. Part of the problem with this is that the visuals always get an update, but nothing else changes significantly with each iteration. Somewhat in the same universe as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Wooly World has a tactile and charming aesthetic that revolves around yarn and other fabric crafts. While Yoshi can launch balls of yarn—much in the same way that eggs were used in previous iterations of the franchise—one of the goals...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Mega Man Star Force – Pegasus (2007)

Mega Man Star Force: Pegasus Year: 2007 Rating: E Time Played: 17.30 hours I have fond memories of playing the Mega Man Battle Network games in high school. I liked the RPG/Action/Card mechanics of this series and always wanted more. When the pseudo-spin-off series, Mega Man Star Force, arrived on the Nintendo DS, it seemed like a good evolution of the formula. However, I resisted buying a DS for so long that eventually, I had to come back and play these games a decade after they came out. With this amount of hindsight, I don’t know if I was viewing a series I never played through nostalgia or the evolved gaming landscape of today. Since I had watched the anime based on these games, I was already familiar with the basic story and plot structure. Additionally, not much had changed since the Battle Network games, other than a slight perspective shift and some modifications to the chip system. Even with this familiarity, I found myself...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Mega Man ZX (2006)

Mega Man ZX Year: 2006 Rating: E Time Played: 5.32 hours Much like how Mega Man Star Force expounded upon the Mega Man Battle Network formula, Mega Man ZX evolved the platforming and action of the Mega Man Zero series. While this meant the visual style and difficulty carried over from the Zero series, ZX added just enough modification to the player character to make it more reminiscent of the original Mega Man series. Given how I’d developed some of my skills via the Zero games, I was easily able to jump right in and start playing ZX without too much difficulty. Part of the problem with this game was the slightly “open-world” style of the overworld. I’ve been so used to playing Mega Man games that immediately transport you to the level you want to play. I’m so used to this formula that having to navigate a labyrinthine home base just to get to the next area was frustrating at times—if only for the...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Shantae – Half-Genie Hero (2016)

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Year: 2016 Rating: T Time Played: 7 hours After playing through Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on my 3DS, I was looking forward to experiencing the next game in the series on the big screen. I picked up Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on sale from the eShop, and I believe I got what I paid for. While there seems to be a lot of extra content locked behind DLC barriers, it doesn’t look like any of it adds to the core experience of this game. As far as I can tell, Half-Genie Hero hearkens back to the original Shantae game, relying more on transformations instead of items to uncover the secrets contained in the handful of colorful levels. While the higher definition graphics were great on the Switch, I felt that Shantae handled worse than she did in Pirate’s Curse. Often, I’d find myself trying to perform some action, and the game wouldn’t let me do it (the flying fortress level is of...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (2014)

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Year: 2014 Rating: T Time Played: 562 minutes / 9.37 hours A couple of years ago, I started hearing about a cult classic Game Boy Color game known as Shantae. While this game released near the end of that handheld’s life cycle, there was plenty of buzz about how it was a solid platformer with plenty of potential. Fast forward eight years and the first sequel, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, made its appearance as a virtual game on the DSi. I happened to jump into this series with the 3DS virtual title, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and I certainly enjoyed the pseudo-Metroidvania approach that WayForward took with this franchise. While I would have liked to have found a cartridge version of this game, I eventually settled on buying it from the eShop. I’m glad I did, as it allowed me to play the game instead of just thinking about it. Overall, it’s a solid action platformer with plenty of upgrades...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

Super Mario OdysseyYear: 2017Rating: E10Time Played: 20+ hours As is the case with many Nintendo systems, Super Mario Odyssey marked the mustachioed plumber’s arrival on the Switch, much like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy did for the Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and Wii, respectively. Taking cues from all its predecessors, Super Mario Odyssey is a gorgeous platformer with plenty to do, almost to its detriment. It’s clear a lot of attention to detail went into this game, but it’s also evident that Odyssey is a celebration of Mario’s history as Nintendo’s de facto mascot. The fact that you can now play as many of Mario’s enemies is a fantastic mechanic that is as unique as it is timeless. Odyssey uses the improved graphics on the Switch to create stunning worlds that are just itching to be explored. The music as well is perhaps some of the best in the franchise, with the theme to the Wooded Kingdom being...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Mario Kart 7 (2011)

Mario Kart 7 Year: 2011 Rating: E Time Played: 2.35 hours One of the challenges of long-running series like Mario Kart is how to maintain the core gameplay mechanic while also continuing to innovate. Previous iterations in the franchise played with having two characters in a Kart (Double Dash on the Gamecube) before reverting to the traditional formula (Mario Kart Wii). Furthermore, with the limitations present in portable and handheld consoles, there’s a point where the experience isn’t quite the same as it would be on a television screen. Fortunately, Mario Kart 7 seems to have struck a good balance between new ideas and embracing nostalgia. Even if I didn’t use the online mode for racing against other individuals (one of the core attractions of the Mario Kart series), I did find that each race in Mario Kart 7 was just long enough for me to play through in a single sitting. If I had more time, the option to race through a series of...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Year: 2018 Rating: E10 Time Played: ~45 hours I grew up playing the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. I loved being able to play as a variety of characters across some well-known (and perhaps less well-known) Nintendo franchises. With each iteration of the series, I’ve enjoyed seeing new characters representing new and classic games join the roster. However, even if I can understand cutting some characters as the series moved forward, it was still a disappointment when I couldn’t play as my favorites in subsequent entries in the franchise. This is why I was hyped up for the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For the first time, I was able to play as a staggeringly large number of characters. The fact that (almost) everything from previous games made it into this one made it feel like this was a celebration of the history of video games and not just a party brawler. And while I didn’t bother...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Nintendo Labo – VR Starter Set (2019)

Nintendo Labo: VR Starter Set Year: 2019 Rating: E10 Time Played: ~5 hours With the increasing number and availability of virtual reality (VR) headsets, I figured it was only a matter of time before Nintendo jumped in on the craze. I always felt the Switch would be ideal for VR, as it has a gyroscopic screen with detachable controllers that have an equal amount of finesse in their movements. It is then no wonder that Nintendo decided to pursue the VR space with its line of experimental cardboard toys: Labo. While I didn’t have too much interest in the previous Labo sets, the fact that the VR Labo could also be used on other games for a VR effect is what pushed me to purchase the starter set. Putting together the cardboard for the VR goggles and blaster accessory took me a long evening to assemble. I appreciated the user interface for the instructions, as it made the whole process easy and basically idiot-proof. Of...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Shovel Knight (2014)

Shovel Knight Year: 2014 Rating: E Time Played: 27.33 hours I grew up in the era of retro video games. My favorite was the Mega Man series, but I appreciated what games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link were trying to accomplish. While Shovel Knight isn’t a spiritual successor to any one game, it lovingly paints the pixelated beauty of classic video games in vibrant homage. I played through this game and all three of its free DLC add-ons on the 3DS, and I found the stereoscopic effect to be just as mesmerizing as the stunning visuals it used to create the effect. Shovel Knight managed to create a world filled with lore and unique characters that far surpasses anything programmed on the NES. Granted, there was a bit of a cheat in not being wholly constrained to NES graphics or audio, but I’d rather have a great game that fudges some nostalgia than one that suffers because of...
Read More

VIDEO GAME: Let’s Go Pikachu (2018)

Pokémon: Let’s Go PikachuYear: 2018Rating: ETime Played: 23 hours I hesitated to pick up Let’s Go Pikachu for the sole reason that I already had bought this game decades ago in the form of Pokémon Yellow. I couldn’t justify spending $60 for a re-skin and decreased difficulty to align it with the Pokémon Go-style of catching. That being said, I was able to pick this title up for $20 as a part of Redbox’s video game sale, and I’m glad I did. Sure, the game is the same as before, but there are a few things I still enjoyed about it as I reveled in the nostalgia it brought to me. First off, the visuals are stunning. I think we often forget how limited the Game Boy’s graphics were, but seeing all these classic Pokémon in full HD on my big screen was an experience. I also appreciated how they removed HMs in favor of special techniques for Pikachu to use, which...
Read More