The Tides Have It

I’ve decided to try to see if I can keep this blog updated twice weekly. Woo. That seems like it will be kinda tough, so I’m just gonna quickly talk about a few things about Animal Crossing New Horizons that have been bothering me. These are more or less extremely small nitpicks, and I’d suspect that overall, they’re not really worth thinking about for more then a few minutes, but they’re still interesting to me, so yeah, whatever.

Nitpick #1

You can release fish into areas of water that they didn’t come from.

Okay, so in terms of “Annoyed Complaints” I’d file this one up with there with “Zootopia is unrealistic because animals can’t talk” in terms of how much it actually matters, but the reason this bother me is really straight forward. The game doesn’t let us just kill fish by tossing them onto land to die, or whatnot, we can only release them with the implication that well, they’ll live. Despite this though, nothing stops you from chucking a sea horse into a lake pond, or a trout straight into the ocean. I’m not a fish person, it might even be that those kinds of fish can survive in those areas, but I feel like they prob wouldn’t do so hot. I dunno, really it just bothers me because the game on one hand says “No, you can’t just murder these animals” but on the other hand is like “Yeah, sure, cram that Sea Bass in that tiny lake pond. It’ll be fine!”

Nitpick #2

Going out and chopping down everything on a random mystery island isn’t just possible, the games mechanics almost encourage it.

I find this one “funnier” in the sense that I’m almost never bothered by content in video games.

There’s a subsection of the population that seems to think that Video Games are the Devil, but it seems like people thought the same thing about Rock and Roll, Dungeons and Dragons, reading Catcher In The Rye. I’m more of the opinion that “Shitty people are shitty people” and that if “The Youth” are being corrupted, its more likely that they went looking for it.

Point is, in terms of “Oh dear, the moral panic” I’m almost never bothered by content in games. Murder a dozen people? Sure! Blow up a boat? Why not. Kill your Minecraft villagers over and over again until you get one with the right recipes? Those books won’t make themselves.

The point is, simulated violence almost never bothers me, as does war, blood/gore/etc. It’s very easy to tell that it’s not “real”. However, the idea of just going to random part of a forest/island or something and just clear cutting it cause “Fuck it, it ain’t my home” actually does sorta rub me the wrong way. I feel like I was raised to have a certain respect for nature even digitally, at least as long as said nature isn’t trying to actively murder me. (That’s a different situation, more about Don’t Starve later this week maybe?)

There was an interesting post a while back on Penny Arcade that I can’t find at the moment, but more or less boiled down to the following:

  1. “It’s very hard to see people in games as real people, because eventually you’ll reach a point where they behave weirdly, or bug out, or start saying the same voice line or whatever.”
  2. But the corollary is “It’s a lot easier to make us care about dogs/cats/animals, because it’s not hard to make something that really feels like a dog.” If it wags its tail, run around, barks at stuff, you’ve pretty much nailed it. It’s way easier to make a digital dog that feels “real” then a digital person.
  3. As far as I can tell, this is how I feel about forests and wild places in Animal Crossing. They aren’t real forests, but they are real in the sense of the game, and to the characters of the game. So yeah, clear cutting a pristine bit of nature so I can have an extra axe or two feels bad.

Afterthought:

After thinking about most of this, I realized that it’s more then possible in AC to harvest wood and such without actually cutting down an entire Forest, but I still thought it was fairly interesting that I was more bothered by a game saying “You can cut down all the trees” and the message that it sends to our children. So yeah, time to get children back to playing Call of Duty, Animal Crossing teaches lessons that are far too dangerous about deforestation. Speaking of which, more about Don’t Starve later this week, a game with a VERY different game play loop, but some of the same occurrences.

Sento – Ultimate Arcade Fighter

Holy shit, I want to own this game.

There are a lot of games at a PAX, and honestly, many of them do not click for me. There are things that can be fun when played with other people, but might not transfer to a single player experience, and there are things that just don’t grab me.

I personally don’t really like writing about things that very much, because making things is hard, and going “Hey, you know that thing you poured a decent portion of the finite time, the only truly real and limited thing that is yours on this planet, into? I think it’s trash.” has the all the tact and moral generosity of stomping on a puppy. Most people I know who make things have started by making a lot of very bad things, and then moved on to making better things. I know that for the things I currently make, many of them are either garbage, or “Shows promise, needs improvement” stage of creation.

So yeah, unless you directly ask me for feedback on whether I think something is good or not, anything I say will be more in the “I like it/I don’t like” sphere.

I don’t have to do anything of that shit with Senko fighter, because I mostly just want to play more of it.

Senko is a puzzle matching, fighter game. It’s a board game, which is also kinda weird, and honestly, you could make it into a video game, but I’m not sure if it would actually improve it. Pulling rows of marbles of the board, and dropping them back in to the randomizer is deeply satisfying. (Someone told me “Oh, like Potion Explosion?” but I’ve never played it, so I have no idea if that’s accurate.)

I think the big thing for me though, is that Senko really gets at the heart of what fighting games feel like if you’re good at them. Each turn, you’re making several decisions, all in one simple action. Do I want to attack, or build up for another turn? Am I going to try to trigger my characters feature, or set stuff up? Am I trying to go for a knockout, or just chip you down? Do I need to try to block something big you can set up next turn, and if so, can I even do it?

And the way you decide all of these things is simple, reach down a pull out a bunch of marbles, then do your attack. Different marbles correspond to different attacks, with combos at 1, 3, and 4 chains. There are three colors of marble, and each size chain is a specific attack, except your health is also tied to these marbles to an extent, and if one of your three bars gets knocked down, you can’t use those color marbles, locking out an entire set of attacks, EXCEPT now you can use those marbles you can’t use as part of an even bigger chain of other colors, so now, even though you’re “weaker” it just got much easier to pull off some of those bigger attacks, which is one of the coolest catch up mechanics I’ve ever seen.

I’m sure that as it gets more coverage in the coming months, and Kickstarter launches and whatnot, we’ll get more articles and stuff about it, but I’ll just finish by saying the following:

One thing I feel a lot in video games, but almost never do in board games, is the sense of having MY guy. In Smash Bros, it’s Ike or Ganondorf. In Pokken, it’s Chandalure, and in Pokemon in general, it’s Kyogre, my fat happy blue murder whale. But board games very rarely give me that feeling, even with things like Scythe, and it’s fairly distinct pieces and characters.

The DJ in Sento Fighter already feels like she’s MY dude, nailing the asymmetric options without watering them down so much they become more then just a random starting objective or something. And when this game comes out, I’m looking forward to playing it with friends, and dropping sick, sweet beats, directly onto their exposed, fragile cranium.

Here’s the link to their depressingly empty page, but at least you can sign up for their newsletter about when the Kickstarter is coming. And you should, if you like GOOD THINGS.

PAX 3: The Third Part

That’s right, it’s time for Part Three, the part where I talk about everything I didn’t already review. It’s time for more

VIDYA GAMES

MAGIC: LEGENDS

Another one I got in line for because they were giving out a free pin, except they didn’t actually end up giving it out. Pretty bummed about that, gonna try to get it at another PAX I suppose.

With that said, actual gameplay was pretty decent. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge ARPG person, but Path of Exile is my second most played game, and I’ve played a decent amount of D3 on switch.

Overall, it seemed pretty fun. I’m not sure I would play for the story, as it was pretty “eh” or get into end game, but I can see it being something fun to pick up and play with friends. The whole Magic: The Gathering theme thing is reflected in the fact that you have a deck and your abilities are constantly switching. In theory, this sounds cool, in practice, I more or less just spammed whatever was off cooldown.

But like, show floor demo. You can find more about it here.

DRAGON FANG: Drahn’s Mystery Dungeon

For me, when I think the mystery dungeon games, I mostly think of the Pokemon ones. I know there are some others, but I really loved the first few of the Pokemon ones, and so every time I see a mystery dungeon game, I really want it to be good.

I’m gonna just get this out of the way. I don’t think Dragon Fang is very good. It has a very nice art style and whatnot, but unfortunately, it’s also a port of a Japanese mobile game. So yeah, while the actual game play could be good, and there are some neat ideas, it’s mostly just a very watered down dungeon crawler, where most of the enemies get more interesting powers then you do. Additionally, a lot of the good monsters are locked behind Gacha.

So yeah, skip this one, but if you really want to try it, it’s free on Steam here.

AREA MAN LIVES

Didn’t play this one, did check it out, but it was a neat VR title. it seemed weird enough for me to mention it. I’ll be honest, I’d really like to play it when it comes out.

Find out more about it here.

KEMONO HEROS

This was at the NIS booth, and since theey made Disgea 4, which has been my go to game on the switch the last few months since I got it around Christmas.

Not too much I have to say on it, it seems cute, just didn’t also seem like it did anything fascinatingly new for me to spend more then a few minutes playing it, and then mention it. Find out more about it here.

One more PAX post to go, mostly just about Sento Fighter, and how I don’t own it yet, and why can’t I buy it yet. Until then, see you next time.

PAX EAST – Part 2

Okay, let’s talk about some more stuff to cover. That’s right, it’s time for more

VIDYA GAMES

RELIC HUNTERS LEGEND

This is a sequel to Relic Hunters Zero, a free game that according to steam, I played for about 2 hours. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t remember it at all. I played a bit of the new one, and it was… fine. However, at a PAX, fine doesn’t keep my attention, and so I wandered on. Here’s a link if you’re curious though. If a cartoonish Destiny/Diablo mashup sounds like your sort of thing, you might enjoy it.

MAQUETTE

Maquette is published by Annapurna Interactive, the people who also published What Remains of Edith Finch. I’m gonna be honest here, I got in the Maquette line because they were giving out a free pin.

Clearly the moral of this story is that I do way too much book judging by covers, because Maquette was one of my top three games at the show. It’s a really cool puzzler where you move objects around to solve puzzles, except that your central point of interaction is a small model of the much larger world outside you, and you can move things in the small world, or the big world, to make them exist in the other.

There also seems to be as story about a relationship falling apart that’s also told in the game, and I’m gonna be honest, it felt a bit too real for me, but that’s a story for another day.

Just go play Maquette. If you looked at it and thought “Oh, someone made another artsy walking simulator” you’re dead wrong. There’s a really cool game here, with some big ideas, and I’m honestly really excited to see more of it.

You can learn more about it here, on it’s Steam Page.

RISING HELL

I was gonna write a bit about this, but it looks like it has a demo on steam? And the demo comes out in like two days? So yeah, I’m just gonna wait two days, play the demo for probs longer then 15 minutes I played it at the show, then write about it. That just seems like a better policy.

WUNDERLING

I have been trying to figure out what to say about Wunderling for a while, and have been failing, so I’m just gonna type things and post them. Wunderling is small and cute, and as a result, I want it to succeed. Wunderling’s primary game play mechanic is simply that you can’t actually control your character, you can only control your jump. And while that seems really simple, there were some moments in the demo that were really clever, and made me want to see what the rest of the game could include. For example, one of the secondary mechanics is that if you don’t pick up a collectible every now and then, you die. In the opening levels, this was really simple, but one area had a hidden chest that required you to skip collecting some of these earlier, so you could grab the chest later, and if you picked them all up, you would actually starve to death.

I dunno, I just want to see it work.

That’s all for now I think. This took longer to write then I was expecting, but I think I’ll be able to wrap the rest of this up in part 3, and finish giving my thoughts on the stuff I saw at PAX East.

MISBITS – Early Access

I got a free key for Misbits at PAX this year, and honestly, I’m not sure if the game is very good. At the time of writing this, I’ve played about 38 minutes. Before I publish this, I’ll try to play another 20 or so minutes so I can say I played it for at least an hour, but I really doubt the next 20 minutes are gonna change my opinion, because I’m simply not having fun at the moment with it.

I first went over to Misbits because it looked neat. It has a sorta nice toy box aesthetic, which makes sense given the game is based around the idea that you’re a toy head, and that the biggest game play element is that you can go around jumping onto different bodies, with different special attacks. You also have health on your bodies, so if you get hurt, you can jump to a different one. I think I’ve seen about 5 different bodies so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more.

So why am I not having fun? Well, simply put, everything feels really floaty and it feels really hard to actually connect with hits or attacks. It doesn’t help that everything is either a melee attack or a thrown weapon, the only ranged weapons I’ve seen are turrets. Also, it can be surprisingly difficult to figure out what to pay attention to. New bodies are constantly dropping down from the sky, as are items. Enemy players are marked sometimes with a sorta line, but it can still be hard to quickly and easily spot them.

There are two big features that are supposed to be added later to the game, a workshop for building your own levels and sharing them, and the creation tools for said levels. Right now they’re not just present.

For the moment, I wouldn’t recommend it.

You can find the Misbits website here, and you can find the game on steam.