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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The State of the Gamer: 9/12/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 9/7/17         The State of the Gamer: 9/19/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.  I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!

Currently Playing: 2

Title: Final Fantasy Type-0
Series: Final Fantasy/Fabula Nova Crystallis
Genre: Action RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Date Purchased: May 18, 2017
Date Started: June 18, 2017

Progress: Chapter 2 – All the leveling

The coliseum finally opened, and I’ve been doing nothing but level my characters thanks to a tip from Cheap Boss Attack.  It’s extremely easy once you know what to do, but a bit tedious, so I typically turn down the TV’s volume and listen to a podcast or YouTube.  As of a few minutes ago, half my characters are on Level 99.   It takes about a half hour for each character.  My husband thinks it’s cheating, but I couldn’t care less.  One of the obstacles to my playing action RPGs is the action part.  It’s well known that I prefer turn based games, so anything I can do to make an ARPG easier is a positive in my book.  This way I can enjoy the puzzle and story aspects, though I did breed a pair of chocobos who produced an egg before I started messing around with time, and that little chick is going to be SO confused.

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The State of the Writer: 8/27/17

<–The State of the Writer: 8/20/17          The State of the Writer: 9/3/17–>

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: 263,770
Prior Word Count: 266,548
Word Difference: -2778
Status: Editing
Progress: First edit of Chapter 11

After a bit of preliminary work, I started the first edit…today…right before posting this.  I got about two or three paragraphs edited.  This chapter is a bit different from others prior since I initially went through each paragraph, marking whether or not each was significant (adds new information, gives a new insight et al), and in some of the significant cases, color coding it further with what that particular paragraph was about.  I was going to try to put everything into order when I realized this is a letter chapter, as in Aeris is writing a letter to herself, so there’s going to be a lot of stream of consciousness.  Randomness is not only acceptable it’s expected.  But because a narrative is supposed to lead the reader to a particular place, it can’t be entirely haphazard, so it really has to be more “organized confusion.”  I hope I’m able to pull that off.

Quote: *They* hurt me, but it wasn’t my fault.  It was wrong and now I’m safe.


Project: Book Reviews
Title: Various
Status: Upcoming

I’ve been a reading machine lately, and finished five more books since last update, which means I have five more reviews.

  1. Monstress #1 – Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda
  2. An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
  3. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  4. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  5. The Metaphysical Detective by Kirsten Weiss (DNF)

I was going to reread Monstress, but I decided not to even though I have no other graphic novels on my list (which I’m hoping to remedy soon).  I declared The Metaphysical Detective DNF this morning.  I just didn’t have any interest in reading anymore.  It’s a shame because I think it’s an interesting premise, but I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters.


Project: Game Review
Title: SOMA
Developer:  Frictional Games
Let’s Player: ChristopherOdd
Prior Word Count: 2397
Current
Word Count: 3118
Word Difference: +721
Status: Drafting

I found a great resource for plot summary, and it was right under my nose:  the SOMA Wiki.  Not the main plot page, but the pages for each Site.  There’s an explanation for what happened in the past and for what happens during the events of the game (there’s some serious wibley wobbly timey wimey shenanigans going on, wow…), and it even has the order you visit the sites, so I no longer have to jump between Wikis and Mr. Odd’s LP to cobble a summary together.

I haven’t had time to work on it today, and I’m not sure if I will, but I’ll certainly finish it during my vacation in September.

Project: Game Reviews
Title: Various
Status: Upcoming

No additional ones to add this week, but I’m going to change the order.  I have the Mass Effect Series before The Last of Us, but I think I’m going to review TLOU first, because it’s much more controversial or it’s controversial for (arguably) more moral reasons, and that’s better fodder to write about.  I’m hoping to get to both of them during my vacation.


What are you currently working on?  Is it a creative writing project, essay, review, or something else?  Have you just started something new or are you wrapping up a long term project?

<–The State of the Writer: 8/20/17          The State of the Writer: 9/3/17–>

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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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The State of the Gamer: 8/15/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 8/8/17          The State of the Gamer: 8/22/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.  I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!

Games Finished This Week: 1

Title: The Room Three
Genre: Puzzle, Mystery
Developer: Fireproof Games
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Release Date: 2015
Date Purchased: May 28, 2017
Date Started: May 28, 2017
Date Finished (1): July 4, 2017
Date Finished (2): August 15, 2017
Playing Duration (1): 37 days
Playing Duration (2): 79 days

Admission time.  I watched a video of the last two alternative endings.  The puzzle for one of them was really difficult, and I just couldn’t be bothered.  Regardless, I really liked not only this game, but the entire series.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes point-and-click puzzle games.  I don’t think I paid more than $3 for more than a single one of them, and the first one is free.  I’m not going to do an official review post for either of them, since there’s really no need; however, I did review each on Grouvee, and I’ll see about rating them on Amazon, since I played through my Kindle.

Let me know what you think if you decide to try them!


Currently Playing: 3

Title: Final Fantasy Type-0
Series: Final Fantasy/Fabula Nova Crystallis
Genre: Action RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Date Purchased: May 18, 2017
Date Started: June 18, 2017

Progress: Chapter 2 – Leaving on first official mission

No additional progress this week.  Hopefully, I’ll find time to play this weekend.  I’m on vacation the first two weeks in September, so I’m hoping to really get some play time in then.

Title: Final Fantasy V
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 6, 1992
Date Purchased: Unknown
Date Started: June 17, 2017

Progress: Outside Walz Castle – Grinding

No progress on this one either.  Since I finished The Room Three, and I typically play that Tuesday nights, I’m hoping to trade that for this, but since it’s already 9:30 and I have more to do, it doesn’t seem highly likely tonight.

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The State of the Gamer: 8/8/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 8/1/17          The State of the Gamer: 8/15/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.  I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!

Currently Playing: 4

Title: Final Fantasy Type-0
Series: Final Fantasy/Fabula Nova Crystallis
Genre: Action RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Date Purchased: May 18, 2017
Date Started: June 18, 2017

Progress: Chapter 2 – Leaving on first official mission

I finally got some play time in this week.  I explored the entirety of the school and figured out how to switch characters.  I’m still not completely comfortable with the battle system, but since the very next thing I’m doing is fighting, I suppose I’ll get more practice in.  I’m assuming after this first official mission, I’ll have access to the Coliseum where I can do CBA’s leveling trick.

Title: Final Fantasy V
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 6, 1992
Date Purchased: Unknown
Date Started: June 17, 2017

Progress: Outside Walz Castle – Grinding

I did not play this at all last week, but I’ve decided I’m just going to move onto Walz Tower instead of trying to grind up enough levels to defeat Shiva.  I’ll come back later.

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