Games

Games of the Month – Ch-ch-ch-changin’ (March/April 2020)

No, the virus didn’t get me just yet. Yes, I’m behind and the stress of the world falling apart around me maybe contributed to the lateness of this post. Remember the first thing I posted this year? About how this is gonna be such a fun year for new creative projects and shit? Well, hindsight’s 2020.

As a being riddled with depression and anxiety, I’ve thought about getting my writing done (here and otherwise) every single day. I’ve been trying to write a horror novel, one that I think you’ll enjoy if you like anything on this site, but this year just hasn’t been conducive to writing fictional horrors when there’s so much going on right now to actually be afraid of.

But this isn’t a LiveJournal and you’re not here to read one. This preamble does serve a purpose going forward, however: I don’t have the energy to rank Games of the Month right now. And maybe I won’t ever have that energy again, who knows! This month you’re getting one game from March and one game from April.

I realize you might meet this information with a shrug, but trust me, this is something that has caused me stress for literal years. Ranking games can be fun! But just finding a lot of the stuff that comes out every month can be a struggle. There are so, so many small games that come out every single day it’s impossible to actually see everything that’s out there. And still, leave it to my brain to personally feel responsible for each one I miss or don’t have a chance to cover. On top of all that, attempting to quantify an ordered ranking of every month’s games? It’s not feasible for me anymore, and I have to stop pretending that it is. Having a Games of the Month post at all is better than me sitting in quarantine thinking, “Wow, maybe Nioh 2 is better than Persona 5 Royal.” and vice versa ad nauseum in between bouts of sheer panic because I looked at the news.

 

TLDR: Games of the Month aren’t ranked anymore because my brain is broken. And this one’s a two-monther because of quarantine stuff, that part’s not permanent.

Enjoy the show!


 

Oh right, video games!!!

 

Half-Life: Alyx

hla44

Half-Life: Alyx isn’t just a great Half-Life game, it’s an incredibly good introduction to what virtual reality is capable of. Sure, a lot of what’s on display here feels a bit too gimmicky for its own good at times, but having Valve tune a combat system to a VR setting really shows us what we’ve been missing. No matter how many weird 3D menus they make me rotate, I will continue to do them if they let me run around my actual room and feel like a scrappy rebel taking down an army.

I have a bit more to say about Half-Life: Alyx here in case you missed it.


Super Mario Maker 2  3.0

mm2

Wait just a second. Before you think the quarantine ruined my brain and made me decide Mario Maker is the Game of the Month every month, listen up. They made this old one even better.

They finally added the thing everybody wanted since the announcement of the original non-Super “Mario Maker,” a World Map Maker! Bad news first: you can only upload one World at a time. That sucks, it’s dumb, and it’s very Nintendo. Everything else about it? *chef kiss*

Yes, making Mario levels is the best thing about Mario Maker. They added a bunch of new objects and enemies and all of that and that’s excellent. But letting me make a Super Mario World map? And put my own levels into it? The greatest novice game creation machine in the world now feels like you can build a whole video game from the ground up, not just bits and pieces of one.

The editor, though it’s clearly testing the waters for Mario Maker 3, is shockingly diverse already. You can place enemy icons on the map to make the traditional Hammer Bro fights. You can hide castles underwater so that some levels only appear after certain criteria are met. There’s even a handful of unique Toad House mini games tossed in for good measure to spice up your map. I already loved Super Mario Maker, but this feels like we’re getting much closer to what they always meant this series to be.

There’s a lot of room for improvement here, like how there’s not a way to make secret exits or hidden warps. But for a free update to a game that I’ve been playing for nearly a year? Definitely worth the six hours I spent crafting a world when the update went live at midnight.


Honorable Mentions

Nioh 2 – A vast improvement over the original in every way. Better level design and bosses show that Ninja Theory is taking the right lessons from the best of From Software.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – The first hour seems great! The mix of turn-based and real-time combat isn’t something I’ve ever seen before, or something that should be as fun as it is.

Persona 5 Royal – Persona 5 is a bit of a mess, and Persona 5 Royal does its best to tidy that mess up. Really enjoying it a lot more this time around… I’ll still never finish it.

Doom Eternal – There’s a good game in here somewhere, I just haven’t had the patience to dig past the occasional god awful level design and general clutter to find it.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – If you want a series of chores to do while looking very, very cute, have I found something for you. If you want to not stress yourself to the limit trying to get home by real-world 9pm to buy something from the shop before it closes? Maybe admit that your brain just isn’t cut out for this kind of thing and play more Mario.

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