September certainly was surprising. The reason for such I’ll get into momentarily, but there were a few things I did not anticipate happening that did. Nothing bad mind you. Everything ranges from huh to awesome. Well except that one thing that I’m not going to talk about on my blog. Anyway, it’s time for another monthly warp up.
-Best performer: That Time I Helped With AnimEVO
Surprise number one was the traffic this month. September is the single best month I’ve ever had while blogging. I don’t know how this came to be, but I’m happy about it. It’s also reassuring to know that I can write at my own pace and enjoy some degree of success whereas this time last year I was pushing myself too hard writing toward deadlines every single week, which ate up far too much of my spare time.
It should go without saying, but my favourite post was my recap of the weekend I spent helping out with AnimEVO. I’m glad that over the years I’ve adopted a mindset wherein I take advantage of opportunities even if I’m nervous about them. It’s led to a lot of really great experiences and I never have those nagging what if thoughts hanging in the back of my mind.
As far as October goes, look forward to a post about Borderlands 3 and Hades as those are both games I’ve been playing as of late and I have a few things to say about both. Here’s hoping October is another productive month.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker & Majora’s Mask
Lumping these two together because I played them back to back.
I am a long standing fan of Wind Waker. It is the first Zelda game I played and I still really like a lot of aspects about it. However, the dungeons in Wind Waker suck. Honestly. Almost every single one is indefensibly linear to the point where players are never asked to do much aside from follow the critical path forward in perpetuity. The Wind Temple is the one exception, which actually requires players to think in order to minimize backtracking. Plus the boss music is dope as hell.
Majora’s Mask, on the other hand, is a Zelda game I’ve never played before, but it is one of Miranda’s favourites. Were it not for her I probably wouldn’t have finished the game. There is so much stuff that screams, “you need a guidebook for this”, with regard to the side-quests. If I was a kid I might have been able to take the time to figure out everything, but as an adult ain’t nobody got time for that.
Now, while I didn’t enjoy the side-quests of Majora’s Mask, the dungeons are honestly some of the best of any Zelda game. All four require the player to carefully think about how they’re navigating the space to get through to the end. None of them are quite as complex as the Water Temple from Ocarina of Time, but I really enjoyed exploring them. The Greay Bay Temple was my favourite of the lot. Having to swap direction of the water current running through the temple so you can access certain sections of it was a really cool idea.
I played Minit one afternoon when I was bored. It didn’t make me un-bored.
The central gimmick of Minit is that you have sixty seconds to explore before you die. Several of the game’s puzzles are built around this idea meaning you can never wander too long before you poof out of existence. It starts off interesting as each loop you’re made to choose a goal and pursue it with extreme focus, but feels repetitive toward the end of the game.
As the game drags on, Minit manages to outstay its welcome because of how restrictive a sixty second time window manages to be. You often can’t complete multiple goals, so once you finish your goal for a particular loop you wait to die so your time is replenished. This meant I spent about a third of my play time waiting. Even though I was only waiting for ten to twenty seconds at a time this still entirely killed the pace of the game for me. Having a suicide button would have helped to maintain the pace at a level I’d have found more comfortable.
Old Man’s Journey
Old Man’s Journey is a light puzzle game that is focused on telling a heart warming story – one that even made someone as cynical as myself well up a little at the end. I suspect most, like myself, will know exactly where Old Man’s Journey is going well before the climax, but the story is communicated effectively. And sometimes that’s all you need. To quote my friend Keith, “Good story telling will always win out over surprises and subverting expectations. Don’t tell that to Rain Johnson though…“.
I can not believe I slept on Prey for so long.
I picked up Prey on a whim and I wish I had played it sooner. I had a lot of fun messing around aboard Talos 1. The way that the systems worked together in combination with the sci-fi theming and general atmosphere of exploring the deserted space station was really enthralling. Unfortunately, about halfway through the game you’ll run out of new areas to explore and you’ll be so overpowered that almost nothing can reasonably threaten you which takes away from the experience. I’m planning on playing the rogue-like DLC Mooncrash and am hopeful it will lead to a more consistently enjoyable experience.
Prey also has some things to say about us as people, but I don’t want to get into that at all because that would spoil the experience. If you have any interest in playing Prey and, like myself, haven’t yet I’d recommend playing it.
I hadn’t planned on playing Borderlands 3, but after talking with my Frosty Canucks’ co-host Jason about it and seeing it on sale I got it in my head that it might be fun to play with Mir. So we’ve been regularly co-oping our way through the game for the past couple weeks. Mir isn’t super into shooters and I’m a bit of a fringe shooter fan myself, so I’ve had to teach her a few things such as flanking, or how the bright coloured barrels go boom when you shoot them.
Funnily enough, I re-read my post where I outlined my concerns for Borderlands 3 based on the final DLC for Borderlands 2 and just about every point I made has come to pass. I will write a full length post about the game at some point, so I’ll leave this here as a teaser for what’s to come. Generally speaking the core elements of Borderlands have been improved with the latest game, but all of the supporting elements are still poorly implemented or actively worse.
I love SuperGiant Games’ games. That’s…a mouthful.
Hades finally released out of Early Access in September and I was ready. I’d been waiting for the full release for almost two years and am happy to say it was worth the wait. Hades shows what a decade of game development experience has taught the team at SuperGiant and is a huge refinement over their older titles like Bastion and Transistor.
As with Borderlands 3, I have a lot to say here and will write a post about Hades (or two?) so I’ll leave this as yet another teaser.
I’ve been having an art crisis recently. I follow a lot of artists on Twitter. And every time I see their work I can’t help but feel that my work is comparatively terrible because it is. So I’ve been doing the thing that I always do which is a) beating myself up over it and b) copying the things I like to see if I can learn them and integrate them. Thus far that has led to…some very weird learning attempts. I’ll get there eventually, but for now I’ve mostly been making monstrosities. Here’s what September’s batch of monsters look like.
Hopefully practice makes better.
And as with every month here are five great articles I read over the last month. If you haven’t already read ’em I highly encourage you to. They’re featured here for a reason.
Athena | AmbiGaming – Sanity Meters in 2020
Irina | I drink and watch anime – Are Pink Haired Anime Girls Either Airheads or Evil?
WCRobinson – Film in 500: A Silent Voice Review
Red Metal | Extra Life – The Last of Part II
Pix1001 | Shoot the Rookie – The Great JRPG Character Face-Off: The Results!
That’s it for September. Here’s hoping for a fruitful October. I’ll see you all around the community. Until then, thanks for reading.
Hey, thanks for the shout! It was weird watching Naughty Dog’s credibility crumble like that. I have to admit I actually saw it coming, and even I didn’t think they’d mess it up that suddenly.
Majora’s Mask is actually my favorite game in the series just for how much it plays around with basic game structure. Only Nintendo (or maybe Kojima) could create something that avant-garde and get a mass audience to go along with it. I actually think the dungeons in The Wind Waker were pretty solid, though for my money, I think Twilight Princess has the best set.
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It was certainly interesting to see in real time. What I’m curious about is if it’ll have any knock on effects in the future. I’d like to think people will remember…all of what happened with TLoU2, but people seem to have the memory of a goldfish. haha
I feel like some of the more subtle details (on the writing side) in the game were entirely lost on me as other folks got a lot more out of Majora’s Mask than I did.
Regarding the dungeons, for me I’ve always enjoyed Zelda dungeons that make the dungeon layout itself part of the challenge with the dungeon. So thinking about how you have to navigate the play space is a part of that. With that in mind, dungeons like Ocarina’s Water Temple, all of Majora’s dungeons, Skyward’s Ancient Cistern, Twilight’s Lakebed Temple, and Wind Waker’s Wind Temple are the ones I find the most engaging. Wind Waker’s dungeons largely feel like a series of puzzles that you complete one after another in an incredibly linear fashion. The puzzles are neat, but I never (Wind Temple withstanding) had to open the map and figure out a path forward because the next place I needed to go was always right in front of me.
I suppose that’s one of those things that depends on what kinds of elements you value highest with regard to dungeon design. If you’re more interested in combat, or puzzles, or exploration which dungeons, and by extension which games, you respond strongest to will fluctuate.
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It’s too early to call, though I can’t imagine their crunch culture is going to make them especially appealing for new talent, and given their 70% turnover rate, they’re going to need all the help they can get.
It’s not impossible for Neil Druckmann to recover from this blunder. Yoshio Sakamoto pulled it off before him after Metroid: Other M flopped, but there are a few key differences between those two incidents. When Metroid: Other M dropped, it was considered an accident – even at the time; it did not ruin Nintendo’s reputation in the long term. Even Yahtzee, who is notoriously biased against Nintendo, didn’t take that as a sign they were cratering. The Last of Us Part II, on the other hand and not unlike Bubsy 3D in regards to its developer, Accolade, took problems Naughty Dog has always had to their worst conclusions. The other difference is that Mr. Sakamoto eventually demonstrated an ability to take criticism when he helped produce Samus Returns. That he was willing to go back on his passion project after realizing it wasn’t so good was admirable. Mr. Druckmann, on the other hand, has always had an aversion to criticism; even back when he was a sacred cow. Considering that he was unwilling to hear his critics out under much more ideal circumstances, I don’t see him ever reaching that point. If he goes on like that, people are eventually just going to give up on him, and he’ll have no one to blame but himself.
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Excellently made points.
Saying that Druckmann has an aversion to criticism is putting things rather lightly. I can kind of understand getting sick of hearing the same complaints from millions of fans who are playing a game you worked on, but he gets downright nasty and extremely defensive when it came to any kind of criticism of his work from the professional side of things. And as you say, burying one’s head in the sand will only cause him (or anyone really) to stagnate and eventually folks will give up on him.
As you said, it’s not impossible to recover from, but given past (and present) behaviour it doesn’t seem likely.
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Congrats on the successful month!
As much as I generally like the Borderlands games, I was a little disappointed in 3. I was never really able to find weapons I liked and a lot of the overall tone of the game to me felt similar to the loud, obnoxious drunk that thinks they’re hilarious. I only got about 2/3 of the way through the game, so I want to give it another shot. Something just felt off with it…
Really liking Hades so far, even though I’ve only played for an hour or two and haven’t even gotten past Megara yet. It plays pretty great and may end up as one of my favorites of 2020.
Majora’s Mask I liked as a kid, but I had a hard time comparing it to Ocarina of Time as it was my big entry point into Zelda games. As an adult I’ve learned to appreciate the dungeon design and the strange, dark tone and atmosphere to the point I feel like I like it more than Ocarina.
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Yeah I could see that. I’m still going to power through to the end with Mir, but the combat hasn’t evolved in a meaningful way and it really pales in comparison to other shooters on the market. I get that it has the whole looter aspect going for it as well, but when the competition offers a much more satisfying gameplay experience the loot isn’t always enough to keep you trucking along.
Hades is good stuff. You’ve barely even scratched the surface. Hope you continue enjoying it as you delve deeper. I certainly have.
I think that’s not too uncommon of an opinion to have. Seems Majora’s was the unsung hero for a long time since everyone is always swooning over Ocarina.
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I don’t know how to tell you this, but…Minit DOES have a restart button. It’s “R”. Like in any other game with a restart button xD
But I agree with your overall opinion of the game. It’s interesting at first, but starts to lose appeal at the end. But since I knew about the restart button (again, it’s “R”^^) my playthrough was well paced, and therefore Minit ended before it could overstay its welcome.
Also, the cat looks like it made the roster in Super Smash Brothers, and is unsure how it feels about that (“Wait, I have to fight a space bounty hunter with an arm cannon, a kangaroo-looking thing with psychic powers, and a 500-pound gorilla? I’m fuuuuucked…”).
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God fucking…really? The only things I assumed about the game were that the arrow keys were used for movement and then it told me I had to use x to slap things, so that’s all I did for the whole game. The only function that I know is always bound to R is reload in games where you shoot things. If I’d known that I would have saved a lot of time.
Hahaha. When Miranda saw the goofy looking cat she erupted laughing and couldn’t stop laughing for a solid minute. Your take isn’t unlike her own. XD
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Thanks for the link to my site! Appreciate it! I have also being playing Hades – I’ve been play erm, a lot of it – and am enjoying it so much. Have been a fan of Supergiant for a while, and once again they’ve done an incredible job.
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You’re quite welcome.
Yeah it’s a goodun. I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve grown as a studio over the past decade. Hades feels a lot like an evolution on Bastion and Transistor that moves the combat and mechanics forward while still maintaining those art, music, and lore/writing elements.