What I’m Listening To, part 11


The way these posts work is, I’m going to post the lyrics with my thoughts in between the lines like this.


Haddaway – Another Day Without You

There are moments in our lives
When everything goes right
And we’re making love
Endless love
And then we have all these days
Where we go separate ways
A heart full of pain
And no one’s to blame
It’s just another day
Without you
Without you
It’s just another day
Without you
Without you
Many times we throw away
What we regret the next day
And we say Good-Bye
Forever Good-Bye!!
And I don’t know what it is
Just a game of hit and miss?
I wonder how long
We can go on?


For everyone that I’ve ever lost in my life:  momma, daddy, granny, aunt Jewel, Mr. & Mrs. Crawley, Tyler, Max, Jeffery, Ivey and Candice.  It’s just another day without you, but I’ll be fine. 


 

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Game of the Year 2017

This year feels like it has been very, very long in terms of gaming and other personal life events.  It’s definitely going to go down in my books as the year that games gave me lots of feels: anger, happiness, anxiety and disgust to name a few.  So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 games for the year 2017:

10.  Destiny 2

While at first it seemed that Destiny 2 was the answer to all our Destiny prayers and complaints, it seems now that we’ve reached the end game loot grind treadmill that maybe our hopes were misplaced and our expectations were a bit too high.  Nonetheless, Destiny 2 shows a lot more polish than its predecessor and is overall an enjoyable experience

9.  What Remains of Edith Finch

In a world where the majority of gaming consists of run and gun games or games that are heavy on action, What Remains of Edith Finch is a nice departure from all of that to tell a nice, yet creepy, narrative about the Finch family and what happened to each of it’s members.  I loved how each family member’s story was told in a different medium and I also loved exploring the Finch family house with its bizarre structure and equally strange decor.  It also didn’t hurt that I was able to complete the game in one sitting either!

8.  Final Fantasy XV

A very polarizing title among the community to say the least, I feel like the long wait for what we got was worth it.  While the end of the story ultimately left me feeling sad and left a few things unresolved, I feel like Square Enix gave us a brilliant masterpiece that they have since beaten like a dead horse.  I appreciate the continued support for the game post launch but I feel like it’s time to move on to the next project!

7.  Batman:  The Enemy Within [Telltale]

Telltale strikes gold yet again with their spin on the Dark Knight.  Season one was a riveting ride from start to finish and thus far season two doesn’t disappoint.  My only real issue with these games is the long wait between episodes and no matter how many times they patch it, the game still thinks I haven’t purchased the season pass.

6.  Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

This game was what sold me on buying a Nintendo Switch.  I loved the idea of Rabbids invading the Mushroom Kingdom and having a new tactical RPG to explore!  The battles are challenging enough with smart A.I. and lots of varied and beautiful environments to explore.  I’m a fan of tactical RPGs so this game was a no brainer day one purchase for me.

5.  Friday the 13th

By far the funniest multiplayer game of the year.  I used to think a 7 vs. 1 game style was not at all balanced and wouldn’t be fun but after several sessions I was proven that it’s not just about playing the game but about how much fun it is to play this with your friends.  The night where I was the last survivor will definitely go down in the history books as one of my most intense games this year.

4.  The Legend of Zelda:  Breath of the Wild

A stark departure from the traditional Zelda formula, Breath of the Wild is a challenging but enjoyable ride from start to finish.  I plan on eventually going back to find all the Shrines and Korok Seeds and maybe even give Master Mode a shot (I doubt I’ll have the patience to complete it) but for now, my Zelda itch has been sufficiently scratched.

3.  Nier: Automata

I really don’t know where to start with this game.  RPGs with multiple endings based on what I did (and didn’t) do in a game have long been a weakness of mine, so this game sounded like something right up my alley.  After a bit of goading from someone special I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I didn’t pass up the chance!  Hopefully someday I’ll have the time to go back and acquire all 26 endings and get the platinum trophy in this amazing game.

2.  Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Sorrowful, terrifying, heartbreaking, breathtaking, amazing, fulfilling…I could go on all day about how great this game is.  Just thinking about poor Senua and the journey that she must take to save her love brings tears to my eyes after all this time.  This is another fantastic journey that I’ll never forget.

1.  Horizon Zero Dawn

The crown jewel in my 2017 games of the year.  Released very early this year, I think at this point almost all but the most diehard fans have forgotten about this game.  The post apocalyptic world that Aloy and company inhabit is one that I enjoyed exploring and the overwhelming sadness of the game’s story will stay with me for a long time to come.

Honorable Mentions

Metroid: Samus Returns – not quite the 2D Metroid game I was hoping for but still an enjoyable game for the most part.

Fragments of Him – all the gaymers on my friends list owe it to themselves to play this game at least once.  Make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you do.

Nex Machina – every now and then I like to indulge in a little arcade shooter action and this release from Housemarque doesn’t disappoint.

Superhot – definitely one of the neatest and most innovative FPS games I’ve played in a long time.  I enjoyed the mix of action and puzzle solving along with the existential strangeness of the “outside world” in the game.  I’m looking forward to giving the VR version a spin in the future.

Soma – definitely a soul crushing experience from start to finish and one that I’ll never forget!  I think after all this time I’m “recovered” from the tragedy that happens in this game but it’s a horrifying experience that I cannot recommend enough.

Games I Championed But Never Got Around To Playing

Prey – I played the demo and loved it and constantly talked about how great it was to everyone and I bought it at launch and even spent the extra cash to get the Best Buy exclusive steelbook aaaaaaaaaaand I never touched it after that.  I’m a bad gamer.  This game is definitely going into rotation sooner than later.

Kinda regretting naming my blog after one of the most hated games in the industry right now.  Thanks Bungie!

Magic: the Addiction

So this finally happened Saturday after a little bit of an internal struggle.

Hi, my name is Ben and I’m an addict.  Well, not a drug addict anyway, more like a game addict.  I was first introduced to Magic: the Gathering way back in 1996-1997 when 4th Edition was the newest core set and players were first beginning to explore the continent of Jamuraa in the Mirage expansion.  I was hooked immediately on how the game was both simple and complex at the same time plus I loved the collectability and how each card had it’s own unique art.

I looked forward to playing it in the mornings at school with Jason and Candice and devising new strategies for my decks when what I was trying wasn’t working.  Once I graduated from high school and life happened, that all came to a screeching halt and my cards and decks were put in storage for two and a half thousand years.  Or at least that’s what it felt like when the game came back to my attention in full force in 2011.  In the years leading up to 2011, I still kept abreast of the game’s existence at my local game store, The Time Tunnel, but not with any sort of extensive research.

Back in the spring of 2011, right after I had broken up with my second boyfriend, my friend Ron had purchased a fairly large collection of Magic cards from a coworker of his.  At first, the thought of getting back into the game disgusted me.  I remembered having a lot of fights over rules and people cheating at school.  I didn’t want to get back into the game.  I forbid Ron from bringing his cards into the house because I knew I’d get sucked back in.

And boy did I ever :-\

One day, after much nagging and a moment of weakness, I helped Ron unload boxes upon boxes of cards into my kitchen.  I offered to help him sort them all out in an effort to have something to keep me occupied.  After unloading his collection, he left for work and I got started.  I opened one box and simply began trying to sort them all by color.  That’s when it hit me: none of the card designs were at all like I remembered them!  I slowed down and started to appreciate the stark contrast between what the cards looked like before and what they looked like now.  For example, I was used to land cards that looked like this:

But now they looked like this:

Huge change huh?  They introduced the huge mana symbol in the text box near the end of my high school career in a set called Unglued (I think) and I didn’t really care for it, I felt like the game was being dumbed down by doing that.  I was a bit disgusted when I found that, all these years later, that had become the standard for land cards.

I also noticed that the trademark font of each card’s title had been changed from the fancy script to more pedestrian (and more legible) typeface.  I didn’t mind the change so much as I’m sure trying to mass produce card sheets with that specific script was a pain on Wizard’s bank account.

Slowly over the rest of the week (I was off work I believe) I did nothing but sleep and sort cards.  I would spend hours sorting cards and reading the text boxes, my mind on fire with strategies, card combos and deck ideas galore.  I remember at the end of the first day of emptying boxes and sorting, Ron came back to my place after work to find stacks of cards scattered all over every inch of my kitchen table, counter top and I think a few on top of the dryer as well.  Upon the horror of hearing the screen door open, his entrance was met with a glower and me telling him “Don’t touch anything!” since I had several ideas for decks running through my head and stacked here and there around the room.  Showing him the madness of my genius, he quickly realized I knew what I was doing.  I was back in the game whether I wanted to be or not.

I had left the world of Dominaria when we were first exploring the continent of Jamuraa upon the deck of the ship The Weatherlight and I had returned in an age when Phyrexia threatened to spread beyond its boundaries and infect every inch of the multiverse with its plague.  I was also introduced to the concept of the Planeswalker cards and how they could quickly ruin someone’s day.  It was a good time to return to the world of Magic: the Gathering and picking the rules back up was like riding a bike, only they had undergone a bit of tweaking in my absence, some for the better and some still questionable (looking at you Protection From rules.)

The stuff dreams are made of

Over the course of 2011, we slowly got the rest of our gaming group back into the game.  Friday Night Magic wasn’t just a thing that happened at friendly local gaming stores, it happened at my house too.  We would eat, unwind from our collective work weeks and play Magic until all hours of the night.  Ron introduced me to a new local game store, The Dugout, where we would spend hours at a time looking through random cards week after week.  We would spend quite a bit of money on new trickery to use during games as well as more deck boxes and playmats.  Then in 2012 when I had the biggest breakup (and worst time) of my life, my interest in Magic started to falter.  It didn’t help that the 2013 Core Set wasn’t all that great either and subsequent sets of cards were so-so.  We still continued to play though my heart just wasn’t in it like it once was.  Then in 2013 we pretty much just stopped playing altogether by the end of the year.  People grew tired of each other, work schedules got changed, interest was lost.

I kept the faith for a while.  I kept up with new releases and tried to stay on top of the game’s already convoluted metaplot and would still read random cards on Gatherer, but even I have a breaking point it seems.  It was pretty much a 1-2 punch, first in the form of the disappointment that was the Battle for Zendikar / Oath of the Gatewatch block then the Shadows Over Innistrad / Eldritch Moon block.  Battle for Zendikar wasn’t as interesting or inspired as the original Zendikar block and the return to Innistrad was equally as uninspired as the new Zendikar block.  I was so done at this point.

The cards, for the longest time, have been sitting in my front room taking up valuable space that I could use for something else.  Then it occurred to me that Dugout buys people’s collections, so I figured I’d shoot them a message and see if there was any interest in buying what I didn’t want and now here I am $475 richer and with a little bit of free space in my house.

A few of my cards from the 90’s that I decided to keep

It felt a little liberating dropping off all those boxes.  All the anger over games that I lost, all the hurt feelings over games and rules, the relief of not having to keep up with the current sets (not that I ever played in Standard Legal tournaments anyway, except that one time for the release of Avacyn Restored because I was dying to find out what happened storywise), all of it was finally gone.  I still have a very small amount of cards though…

The one game variant that I loved the most next to Commander/EDH was Archenemy and I decided that I wanted to keep those decks and maybe a few of the other cards.  I definitely kept all the cards that I had back in the 90’s but anything after that had to go.  Do I have any hope that the group will get back together like before and weekly games will happen at my place?  Nope, not even a little bit.  But maybe, just maybe, someone someday will reignite my spark.

October Horror Gaming 2017

So for the month of October, some online friends like to play horror themed games and this year, I decided to join in the horror.  So over the course of the month I played (and finished) the following:

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Soma.  This game still haunts me after all this time.  You can read my thoughts on the game here.

deliriant-listing-thumb-01-ps4-us-19may17

Deliriant.  A rather disappointing first person game where you are walking through a house that’s rather unsettling.  The only oddities were the “moving” wallpaper and the hole in the wall that served as the exit to the house.  I was able to 100% the trophy list in one sitting.

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Dear Esther.  A very sad walking simulator where you’re a ship wrecked man alone on an island.  Not really a horror game per se (I thought it was, hence why I played it this month, plus I was told by a friend that it was very short) though the atmosphere is, at some points, a bit creepy.  Definitely worth playing with the commentary turned on.

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Among The Sleep.  A very boring “horror” game where you play a two year old kid who is running around in an Alice In Wonderland-esque nightmare world trying to find your mother.  I was bored most of the time since there was no real consequence for getting caught by the monsters in the game and also a bit aggravated by the collectibles since there’s no way to tell how many you have versus how many there are total.

TheBunker

The Bunker.  A creepy game set in a cold war era nuclear bunker, this game is the first in a long time that I’ve seen that uses pre-rendered backgrounds where you have to click to direct your character to do what you want him to do.  It was definitely enjoyable for a night (finished in one sitting) and had a nice twist ending.

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The Town of Light.  The story of one woman’s harrowing journey in a 1930’s insane asylum.  The story was, at times, a bit more than I could stomach.  The story is based on actual events, which makes what happens even worse.  Most of the story is told through flashbacks and collectibles.  A walking simulator with a painful story to tell.

twd-telltale-UK-release

Even though the plot to it has been spoiled for me over and over, I finally decided to come around to the game that arguably put Telltale on the map.  Despite knowing a few key plot points, the emotional impact of the game still hit hard at times.

 

Retro Reanimation, part 2

Super_Metroid_logo

It’s the summer of 1990something (I can’t remember to be honest) and I hadn’t spoken to one of my school “friends” all summer.  Every time he called, I’d hang up.  I don’t remember what it was he’d done to piss me off this particular time, he made me angry so often and treated me like crap there’s no telling what it was.  Finally, just before school started back in the fall, he caught me on the phone and before I could hang up on him he blurted out “I’ll give you my copy of Super Metroid just please talk to me!”  Against my better judgment, I went with it.

I had been obsessed with this game since I first saw it in Nintendo Power magazine, and I even had a copy of the official Nintendo Player’s Guide even before I had the game itself!  I would spend many hours of many nights guiding this so called friend through the game over the phone (almost like I was a game counselor.)  Finally, at long last, the game was mine and I started my journey through the sprawling complex of Zebes and the rest was history.  I would eventually even try the challenge from Nintendo Power and beat the game with as few items as possible to see how fast I could beat it.  I wish I still had that cartridge…

The next retro game I decided to tackle is, of course, Super Metroid.  I still find this Metroid game hard to beat among others in the series, even with its bad controls.  Simply put, I still think that this game is brilliantly done and the world is well crafted even after all these years.  Sure, it could have been a little easier with things like fast travel points (like the ones from Samus Returns) but ultimately that would detract from the fun of exploring Zebes.

Let me help you get to that Energy Tank says the strange turtle creature

It’s not a perfect game by any stretch.  Using the wall jump, even back then, was never my forte.  Recent Metroid games have made using this ability a little easier, but Super Metroid was where it started.  I remember just avoiding using wall jump in favor of Space Jump/Screw Attack instead.

Wall jump with these little guys – the Etecoons!

I remember struggling for hours trying to get the jumps timed just right, only to have a button press not register when I needed it to and falling all the way down the shaft to start again.  At least the other ability “taught” to you by one of the locals was easier to master.

Dachora and his super speed jump!

I was sorely missing Samus’ ability to run at super speeds throughout Metroid Returns.  It felt good to run and smash everything in my way again.

This fuckin’ place…

I was never a fan of having to explore Maridia.  The whole zone just gave me the creeps, and still does.  Maybe I just have a fear of being underwater?  Who knows.  Getting into Maridia was always a bit dramatic, but cool:

I always hated having to blow up this glass walkway, it looked so pretty.

While blowing up the glass was always sad for me, I have to admit that it looked really cool splintering apart like that.  I always had this ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I came to Maridia and I don’t know why.

Welcome to hell

Norfair – the next biggest zone after Maridia – was always a challenge to navigate due to the extreme heat in some rooms and the lava in others.  I always did enjoy the hypnotic, yet ominous, music that played while wandering the hellish passages deep below the surface of Zebes.

Reaching the section with Ridley was a little more confusing than I remember (I kept going in circles) but I ultimately found my way to the passage shaped like his head and the elevator with his claws.  Beating him was way easier than I remember too, I just used all my super missiles then my regular ones until he was done for.  Then I found this:

And then I knew that the end was near…

Back at the beginning of the game, in Brinstar, there’s this statue:

And once you defeat each of the 4 bosses that the statue is modeled after, it falls away revealing the entrance to the final area of the game, Tourian, and ultimately to Mother Brain herself.  I always did think this was a brilliant piece of game design.  I remember on my very first playthrough I’d come running back to this statue after I killed a boss and excitedly watch it turn from gold to lifeless gray.  My completion time for that go round was terrible too!

Tourian

I always like it when the end area of a game is next to where you start a game, I always think that’s so neat and this game is no exception to that.  The entrance to Tourian is right there at the beginning of the game, but you can’t get in until you defeat all of Mother Brain’s cronies.  One of the most memorable things about Tourian, however, is still this moment:

When the baby Metroid that you came to rescue attacks and drains you of all your health but 1 point.  Definitely one of the better gotcha! moments in gaming.  Once that heart attack inducing moment was over, it was time for the final showdown with the head bitch in charge herself.

I liked how this moment was a nice homage to where you fought her in the first game:

Just like old times

Once you break her glass jar this time around and pump a few missiles into her, the next great gotcha! moment happens when she attaches herself to an ugly, horrific looking body:

The awful wailing sound she makes still annoys me.  Once you shoot her with enough missiles, she hits you with her eye beam nearly killing you.  I always did think that sucked.  Then, once she starts to attack you with the eye beam a third time:

Not so fast bitch!

My not so little friend to the rescue!

Juice me!

I always was a little sad during this part of the fight when Mother Brain would regain composure and kill the Metroid, but the sadness was always quickly replaced with revenge when you’re given the Hyper Beam and you instantly beat Mother Brain down with it.  Once she’s gone, the fun begins:

RUN!

I always did enjoy this part of Super Metroid the most.  Being all powerful and having to run for your life was always so much fun for me.  Often when I’m in a hurry in real life or in other games, the music that plays during this sequence comes to mind.

Gotta stop and save my friends before leaving!  When I first read about this in the player’s guide, I didn’t think I’d have time to save them before getting to my own ship.

KABOOM!

That teeny tiny object leaving the explosion to the right is Dachora and the Etecoons on their ship.  I guess the Etecoons are a bit more intelligent than I gave them credit for.

Almost missed getting this screen shot, that’s why it’s so dark

Not bad for playing this game from memory eh?

I’m willing to bet, had I not read about the Mother Brain fight in the player’s guide, the emotional impact would have been a lot greater.

All in all, playing this again was a nice stroll down memory lane and definitely helped get all thoughts of Samus Returns out of my head.  Oh, and you remember my “friend” from the beginning of the story?  We ultimately parted ways not long after he gave me the game, so, as much as I love this game it’s forever tainted with memories of him.

So We Did Prestige Nightfall…

Destiny, part 26

So tonight, I got one step closer to the Destiny 2 platinum.  Since the release of the game, we’ve had struggle after struggle trying to complete a Nightfall because the modifiers have rarely been in our favor and this week our modifiers were Attrition (health and shields only regenerate after picking up healing pools from defeated enemies) and Timewarp: Killing Time (killing enemies adds time to the clock) so I convinced the clan to give it a try seeing as these modifiers are easy to work with.  They agreed and we gave it a try and were successful.  So successful in fact that now everyone in the clan has Rat King except maybe 2 people.

So then I decided to be bold considering our successes and suggest trying this particular Nightfall on Prestige difficulty.  It took a little arm twisting but eventually we gave it a try and we met failure after failure.  We kept getting to the final boss (the Strike in question was Inverted Spire) with 3 minutes to spare and kept losing by fractions of a few seconds because of failure to control adds in the last room or general mistakes along the way (I kept missing jumps in the opening area again and again but now I’m getting to the point where I can damn near make the run without having to stop and compensate.)

Tonight, however, lit a fire under Derrick’s ass.  After 2 attempts where we nearly killed Atheon’s wanna be replacement and not winning by mere seconds, Derrick and myself were determined to keep going until we were victorious.  A few minutes ago, we met victory face to face, but it was bittersweet.  We had hoped that we would get better gear or maybe another Engram from Hawthorne.  Nope, this was what we got:

Look how fabulous I am…

An Aura.  All the gear I got, and I mean all of it, was less than what I already had.  Oh, and we got a stupid fucking Emblem too that tracks how many Nightfalls you’ve completed but for some reason mine only says 1 even though I’ve completed it about 5 or 6 times this week.  Someone suggested that it’s probably counting the number of Prestige Nightfalls that I’ve completed, as though I’d be dumb enough to ever put myself through that kind of fucking misery again.  I literally wasted what free time I had tonight trying to get better gear for myself and my friends and that stupid Aura was all we got.  And an Emblem.  Oh, and even though the Faction Rally is over, one of my loot drops was a Future War Cult token.  Thanks RNGeezus, I fucking hate you too.

Oh, and the worst part is, after all that bullshit and misery that we went through, we don’t even get to keep the AuraIt disappears at weekly reset!  So now, I get to parade around the social spaces (and probably Crucible too, not that I’m going to bother finding out) showing off the fact that my e-penis is fucking huge to all the other scrubs that haven’t completed Prestige Nightfall yet.  But you know what?  They don’t really give a shit because they’re doing actual, useful, constructive things with their time like raiding or playing Iron Banner.

But at least I got my stupid trophy so that’s something, right?

It might be time for a nice, loooooong hiatus from Destiny 2.