Games Alive: 1980-2017

The Well-Red Mage asks: “What’s your favorite game every year you’ve been alive?”  I’m one of the last to answer, because I’m always late to these types of parties.  I’ve seen plenty of “Favorite Game” posts, but never one quite like this, and it was both challenging and enjoying to put together over the last two months.  I’m one of the oldest people to respond, meaning I have quite a lot of years to go through, so without further ado…


1980 – Pac-Man

This one was more difficult than I’d like to admit, but there weren’t too many games I could draw from at this point in time, which led me to this classic among classics.  I wasn’t very good at this game, but if you stick your finger in your ear and wiggle it around, I think you’ll hear something familiar 😀


1981 – Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong game coverBack when Mario was merely Jump Man and Pauline was a kidnapping victim, long before she was the mayor of New Donk City, there was this arcade classic.  I was better at this than Pac-Man; I’ve always been better at platforming than avoiding random enemies.

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TSN’s 2017 Top Games List

Hello Dear Friends!  I hope you all had Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.  This is (was) my favorite time: Christmas Night.  It’s the long exhale after the climax where everyone can relax and play with their presents, while basking in the relief that it’s over.  I saw some awesome videos of kids opening up presents on Christmas Morning (the Nintendo Switch unwrapping was amazing), and I, myself, received Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild , my very own PS4, tons of git cards, a special vase, and a bunch of other awesome gifts!I’m (was) also off Tuesday and Wednesday and figured now is as good of time as any to (start working on)  post my 2017 Best of List for gaming before the elderly year grows older (sadly it died before I could finish.  Alas); however, mine is going to be a little bit different from the others I’ve seen floating around.  As of today, I’ve only finished five games on the dates indicated:

  1. World of Final Fantasy – 2/19/17
  2. Journey – 3/22/17
  3. The Room – 5/16/17
  4. The Room Two – 5/27/17
  5. The Room Three – 8/15/17

There’s no doubt which the best game out of all of those is.

Obviously, I loved WOFF and The Room series was one of the best for puzzle games ever, but you can see how I’m not really in a position to adequately talk about games based solely on the ones I played this year.  However, since I did watch a ton of Let’s Plays, I feel as though that would be the better population from which to draw my Top 10.  So without further ado…


10. Detention

Though this initially comes off as a spooky/horror game, it’s much more.  Have no doubt, there are harrowing parts (those really tall ghosts.  Hell.  No), but that’s not the inner spirit of the experience.

9. The Witch’s House

There’s a lot to be said about a game where you’re killed by a teddy bear, and I said a bit of it here with my review.  Created with RPG Maker, don’t let the cute, sprite graphics lull you into a false sense of security.  You will die.  A lot.  Gruesomely. And shockingly.  The puzzles are quite clever, and the RPG mechanic works surprisingly well for a horror game.  I also cannot stress how much the ending messes you up and literally turns everything on its ear.  It’s worth it just to play through for that.

8. Inside

In the vein of games with shocking endings, Inside notches it up to the “what the absolute fuck?!” level.  At no point did I expect to see what I saw, and where The Witch’s House is heartbreaking in its horror, Inside is flat out disturbing, but absolutely fitting for the setting.  The game is exactly what you’d expect from the creators of Limbo.  It has similar gameplay, but the story goes much deeper and, as such, is ripe for the theorists.

7. Rakuen

I had to scramble to place this in my Top 10, because I just finished it the other day.  I knew it was going to be a tearjerker when I saw the hospital setting, and I figured out what was going to happen at the end, but that did nothing to lessen the sorrow.  This is a beautiful game that expertly weaves a far too recent and real life tragedy with a parallel fantasy world.  What your character (called only The Boy) does in Morizora’s Forest is echoed in his hospital home, and this goes for the people he helps.

Rakuen is a puzzle game that plays like an RPG without the random battles, so if you’re not a fan of those, you don’t have to worry about them.  This isn’t to say there aren’t any enemies, but there’s only one type (nor do I think it’s really an enemy, but that’s edging spoiler territory), and there are no confrontations with it, only avoidance.  While this was a game I could’ve played myself, there were some creepy parts that I’m glad I only had to watch.  Combined with some overly cutesy things, it gives Rakuen a bit of Mood Whiplash, but this is not a critique, merely an observation.  The soundtrack is wonderful with vocal performances that are not only gorgeous, but serve an integral part of the story.  Make sure you have some tissues ready for the end.

6. The Mass Effect Trilogy

Even though I watched the first game in 2016, I didn’t finish the other two until last year, so I’m going to count that I finished the trilogy then.  This is the only game on the list that I plan to play in the future, and I decided that based on watching the LP by Olizandri.  There’s too much to say about Mass Effect to really get into it here (and most of you probably know about it already lol), but rewatching the ending with the knowledge of what came before under my belt completely changed my perspective on it (either that or the ending was updated to show more than what happened to Joker and EDI; I’m really not sure).  I have a great deal to say about it  when I finally get to my review in addition to comparative essays (e.g. how Reaper indoctrination is similar to the also hive-minded Jenova’s mental manipulation), and I’m looking forward to exploring all of its angles and discussing it with all of you fine people when I do.

5. Little Nightmares

I’ve watched both the original game and the two currently released DLCs, and, were it a game I could conceivably play (if I wasn’t a wuss puss), I’d have no problems doling out the ducats for all.  The DLCs are apparently inexpensive yet quite expansive in both exploration and storytelling.  There are traces and hints of what went on in the main game all throughout, though just the former is enough to give me full fledged nightmares for days (nothing little about that).  There are no cut scenes, and players are obliged to piece together the story from what can be observed in the levels.  Like Inside there are quite a few theory videos out there to either explain or spark new perspectives.  Whether you play this game in the light of day to ward off the eeriness or in the midst of darkness where the nightmares prowl is entirely up to you.  I, for one, will continue watching my Let’s Plays in the sun and covering my face at necessary moments.

4. Ori and the Blind Forest

This game is literally a work of art.  From the visuals to the music to the poignant story, Ori bookended me with tears.  While not wholly tragic, the game uses sorrow for emphasis and forces you to examine where your full allegiances lie.  I did an almost about face about a particular character once their true motivation was known.  Moon Studios should be both commended and supported for future endeavors.

I considered stopping the LP when I first started so I could play myself, but I’m glad I just continued watching.  There is no way in hell I could pull off those sweet, platforming moves that Cry so brilliantly preformed (though there was some Power of Editing involved lol.  No hate though).  It’s a Metroidvania game, so there’s a lot of backtracking to open up areas previously unattainable.  Also, did I mention the soundtrack?  I did?  Well let me mention it again, because I need to download it.

P.S. The name of the setting is the Forest of Nibel and there’s both fire and mist.

3. Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Ya’ll if you want to ugly cry, please play or watch this game.  Where Ori had me misty (hey that’s what “Nibel” means!), Valiant Hearts made me bawl.  My husband stopped playing Destiny 2 to make sure I was okay, and the friend he was playing with asked if everything was alright.  THAT’S how serious I am about what this game did to me, and it’s not even what you’d expect.  It hits hardest because it’s unexpected and just so wrong.  There’s a wonderful video by The Closer Look called “How to Make the Audience Cry,” and it explains what concept universally causes it and why.  I’d recommend watching it only if or after you’ve watched/played Valiant Hearts.  It’s not a major spoiler, but a game/story like this should be experienced untainted.

2. The Last of Us

I had a long talk with myself about whether this or the number one game would have that place, but in the end, I decided it based on after effects.  Which story haunted me more?  Which caused more of an existential crisis?  While TLOU certainly vied with the first question (especially in any intelligent discussions about it), the number one pick literally blew the second out of the water, but that doesn’t mean the tale of Joel and Ellie is worth any less.  It is a very close second, and, along with the first, is one of my more essay-like reviews.  I have a lot to say about this game, and I see the ending from multiple different points of view.  Understanding loss, I understand why what happened did, but I can also see why there is a great deal of negativity about the decision and the game mechanic that makes you (the player) part of something you might find reprehensible.  Because I not only suck at stealth (seriously…you should see me in Assassin’s Creed: Origins.  It would be embarrassing if I had any shame…), I’m also a wuss puss when it comes to any kind of horror, and I utterly abhor being chased.  When something like this comes after you…

…TSN says nope and covers her face.

I was also completely wrong about Ellie’s peculiar attribute in terms of what caused it, and that was proven with one of the saddest deaths in the game.  Then when I thought I’d figured it out again, that wasn’t the case either.  However, while I might rail against my inelegance, I’m often happy to be wrong in these cases, because it means I could use my “wrong” suppositions in a story of my own and I get to be surprised!

Speaking of which…I have a soft spot in my heart for TLOU, because it has damn near the same plot as the first novel I wrote.  In a different setting and a different relationship between the “Joel” and “Ellie” characters, but “experienced, morally grey bad ass with a devastating loss in his past (that he witnessed first hand) hired to take an inexperienced, young woman to pre-determined location and on the way they learn to love each other” plus the spoilery stuff at the end of TLOU is exactly the same, and I’m a bit shook.

This is one of those games that every gamer should experience.  I’m not one of those “hates cut scenes” people so they don’t bother me in the least, enhancing the narrative rather than taking away especially in this case.  I can’t wait for the second part to come out.

And my number one game of 2017 is…

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Creative Christmas – New Year Swag

Tis the Christmas season (or Advent to be theologically accurate), and in the spirit of the season, the lovely blogger over at Later Levels has decided to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas a few days earlier with 12 gaming related questions for all of us good, little gaming elves out there.  These are my responses.


👗   30 December 2017:   You’ve been invited to a swanky New Year’s Eve party but have nothing suitable to wear! Which video game character do you call to ask if you can borrow an outfit?

Luckily for me, I’ve already talked about this in my Fashionistas and Fancy Fellows post!  Of course they’re all from Final Fantasy, though I’ve noticed my favorite series either dresses its characters in the best get-ups…

Runway model quality

Picture Source: Sephiroth from FFVII by AHague

…and the worst…

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Creative Christmas – Replacement Rudolph

Tis the Christmas season (or Advent to be theologically accurate), and in the spirit of the season, the lovely blogger over at Later Levels has decided to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas a few days earlier with 12 gaming related questions for all of us good, little gaming elves out there.  These are my responses.


🦌   24 December 2017:   You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?

So many options!  There’s Mario’s warp whistle…though that might only be able to take you to predetermined locations, which is the same problem with any of Link’s warp items, though his Ocarina might not be a terrible option.

Being able to turn time backwards could help old St. Nick complete his deliveries, but since it sent you back three days in Majora’s Mask, there doesn’t seem to be a way to control the time reversals, so I don’t think it would that useful.

No, I think for this task we’d need some kind of vessel, a ship if you will, one that can travel incredibly fast, and I can think of no better craft than the Normandy from Mass Effect.

Just so long as Santa returns it to Shepherd in one piece, I don’t think the Commander would mind.


What item or vehicle would you lend to jolly old St. Nicholas to either augment or replace  his reindeer drawn sleigh?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

The State of the Writer: 8/20/17

<–The State of the Writer: 8/13/17          The State of the Writer: 8/27/17–.

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
Title:
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 266,548
Prior Word Count: 266,752
Word Difference: -204
Status: Editing
Progress: Reviewing Chapter 11

This is the second “letter” chapter (with Chapter 5 being the first), but as I was doing my preliminaries last night, I ran into an integral question.  Is this chapter necessary?  With writing or more specifically editing, that’s something you always want to ask.  Is this chapter/part necessary to the story?  Is it needed to further your and therefore the characters’ goal(s)?

My idea with the letter chapters was to show the past, present, and future through Aeris’s eyes.  The first letter is all about her horrible past and her struggles to reconcile it with the wonderful present.  There are ideas of worthiness and blame she has to wrestle with along with a sort of survivor’s guilt.  She was saved from that horrendous existence, but she can’t stop thinking about those who are still suffering, and that’s tearing her up inside.  She wonders why she was worthy to be rescued when she could physically “take” the worst kinds of abuse, because she’d just come back, but others would actually die.

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30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 26

Day 1

<–Day 25                                                                                                                Day 27–>

Best voice acting.


The Mass Effect Series.  When I first watched my husband play it, he did so with the male Shepherd, and I thought his voice was okay.  Then I watched it with Fem Shep and oh my lord, Jennifer Hale.  There’s just no comparison.  How anyone could play that game without picking Fem Shep is just beyond me.  Not that the guy is terrible, but her voice acting is just far more superior.

The entirety of the series is just peppered with amazing voice acting.  I mean they got Michael Dorn to voice a krogan and Marina Sirtis as Matriarch Benezia (an asari).  There’s also Claudia Black as one of the quarian admirals.  I’m not as familiar with her unfortunately, but her voice is gorgeous. There are parts of the games I go back to just for the sole purpose of hearing certain lines, because they’re that good.  The people they tapped for voice work were just perfect matches for whom they were portraying in the situations they found themselves.  Absolutely brilliant.

What game do you think has the best voice acting?  Who is your favorite voice actor in a game?

<–Day 25                                                                                                                Day 27–>

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 21

Day 1

<–Day 20                                                                                                               Day 22–>

Day 21: Game with the best story.


You guys already know I’m going to say Final Fantasy VII. 

“Silence like a cancer grows…” -The Sound of Silence

From my notes:

VII is a story of secrets, shadows, and silence, but it is the silence that echoes so deep. This is a narrative that seeks to fill the ubiquitous emptiness by ironically presenting it in full. Not only its characters, but also we are hollowed out by what is never said and never revealed, but many of these things are integral truth that in silence can only destroy.

FFVII is the story that not only captured, but held my attention for 20 years and over half my life.  It is the number one inspiration for all of my writing whether that writing is fictional, fantastic, essay or critic.  It came to me after the worst tragedy of my life, and while I can’t say it filled the void, it made me realize I wasn’t alone in the darkness of my own thoughts.  Even though I didn’t know all the details of much of VII’s own major inspiration at the time (and there’s no way in hell that event didn’t change the story, because it was going to be something entirely different before it became what is what, and events like that change you.  Yes, I’m being vague), I still knew there was something special about this game.  Even before I played it, it forced me to go beyond my normal genre since VII is firmly science fantasy or, as I used to call it, the fusion of fantasy and sci-fi.  From a game I had no interest in playing to my life’s obsession, VII’s story was the first narrative to make me question the meaning of the word “terrorist,” because the term is entirely dependent on point of view.  It also made and still makes me either face or push down dark truths about myself and what I would do if confronted with certain situations.  I always insist that I know I wouldn’t be fooled, but in all honesty, I don’t know and it scares me.  Do we really truly understand the darkness that could lie seething in our own deepest cores?  Or do we only think we do?

Puppy time!!!

I needed a drastic subject change, because that got way too deep way too fast, but that’s my relationship with VII.  There were almost some tears shed!  WTF, I don’t have emotions like some commoner *sniff*  Look at dem ears above though.  He could probably take off flying ♥

FFVII isn’t the only game whose story I love.  I have to give props to the Legend of Zelda series especially with all the timelines and loops, Mass Effect of course, Child of Light with its fairy tale atmosphere, Super Paper Mario with the ending that literally made me cry, but Final Fantasy VII has the best story to me, but more importantly for me.

What’s your favorite game story?  Why do you hold it so close to your heart?  Feel free to share as much or as little as you want!

<–Day 20                                                                                                               Day 22–>

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