Last Week’s Gaming – May 25th, 2020

Animal Crossing Last Weeks Gaming

I could have sworn I wrote the previous Last Week’s Gaming yesterday…

So not only is the work from home situation going on, my work has entered the end of financial year “Could you just do this?” mode. This has not made it easy to get in quality gaming time!

I did get a couple of new ones played a bit. Let’s get into it!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Well, just after I finish up my review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I ‘finish’ the game! K.K. Slider came to Sleep Cove on Sunday and performed for us. It was very cute. Now I have unlocked the ability to start messing with my island – the real game begins!

I am a little conflicted. Should I add Animal Crossing: New Horizons to my ‘finished‘ list of video games? You can never truly finish Animal Crossing. I can keep messing with my island and looking for people all the time. Because of this, I think I will keep it off the list, even though I saw the credits – my standard ‘finished’ criteria.

What do you think?

Animal Crossing Credits
Technically, this is the end for most games. Animal Crossing is all Post Game content though.

Music Racer – PS4

I jumped on Music Racer. It was AUD$8 – I thought how bad can it be? A rhythm driving game sounds interesting, and it was a cheap title.

Well, it’s not bad. It’s also not for me. The premise is simple – pick a car, and drive along a track hitting music beats as you go.

The term drive is a bit presumptuous. The car auto-drives along the track, and you pick which of the three lanes to drive in. None of the cars I used felt different, and some of the beats are in very tricky patterns. This will encourage you to learn the track to perfect that combo.

Music Racer Racing
Everything is flashy and flies at you at quite a pace. It can be very disorienting!

My biggest issue is that’s the game. If you master one track and just keep playing it, you will eventually unlock all of the vehicles and earn a platinum trophy. I was hoping for a novel Beat Saber like experience sans VR, but that isn’t Music Racer.

Even the amusing collection of vehicles isn’t enough to keep me playing this one. I did unlock the Light Cycle – who would refuse the chance to ride the iconic vehicle? But all Music Racer accomplished was make me miss Beat Saber.

Music Racer Light Cycle
Some might choose to unlock THE DeLorean first, but Tron is an old fave of mine

Maneater – PS4

So this came out last Friday, and the idea has been growing on me. You play as a shark looking for revenge on the hunter that killed your mother. Not precisely an original premise.

There is a quirky charm to Maneater though. Just swimming through the water is a serene experience. Finding some of the ridiculous landmarks makes me laugh, and the combat is surprisingly similar to dogfighting in flight simulators.

I am glad the game is only AUD$55. If this were a full price outing, I would already be bored and annoyed. I am about a third of the way through the game, and I can see the grind cycle. But to pick up and put down in little chunks (haha) makes Maneater a fun little experience.

Maneater Landmarks
Of course a statue to the old ones can be found in the Bayou!

There is a lot of potential here. If Maneater takes off, I can see a lot more being added to the formulae. Ray Tracing (yes, that dreaded term) effects of light coming through the water would make swimming gorgeous.

Some variety in the missions would also be helpful. It’s hard to see this happening without possibly leaning towards Saints Row silly. Still, the game is already this side of the ‘reality’ fence, so it may work for it.

Maneater Swimming
You can see the potential in Maneater. Swimming is very pretty, but it could look better

Think of Maneater as testing the waters (so many puns today), and I think it can find a loyal audience. For the moment, I am enjoying it. Let’s see what I believe in a couple of weeks – I think I will have finished it by then.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

Animal Crossing Cover Art
Animal Crossing Cover Art
Released 2020
Platform Switch
Publisher Nintendo (Website)
Developer Nintendo (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1*
Can invite/visit friends islands online or share 1 island with other account holders on your Switch
Category Relaxing
Exploration
Collecting
Customisation
Life Simulation

Well, I finally started to get what all the Animal Crossing buzz was about! Also, Tom Nook is evil :p

I have known about Animal Crossing as a franchise for years. It has never really held much interest for me. I generally like to do ‘something’ in my games, and Animal Crossing has me doing things I should be doing in my real home.

Things like cleaning up the garden, decorating my home and making stuff don’t sound like a ‘game’ to me. I understand that sometimes slow and straightforward gameplay is what you need – I have said it many times. I just like having a goal to work towards, and Animal Crossing is known for having no end.

And then I couldn’t leave the house anymore. I lost the precious downtime of my daily commute. I needed something to try and focus my brain away from work. Multi-tasking in other games is just too much to juggle.

Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I thought I would jump on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, spend 15-20 minutes each day doing a few little odd jobs and relax.

And, for the first few weeks, that’s precisely what I did. I expanded my house a couple of times and ran around my island collecting fossils and fishing.

My museum was my ‘prettiest’ building for quite some time. I just didn’t really know what I was doing. I was (and still am) enjoying my time pottering around my island, fishing and collecting shells and oranges.

Animal Crossing Game Start
From simple beginnings, as they say.

Four weeks later

So I have realised what Tom Nook was trying to tell me for the previous few weeks. I stopped chipping away at paying off the ever-increasing renovation costs of my home and started preparing plots of land to sell.

Visitors have started appearing. I am building up an eclectic little community that I am enjoying talking to each day. I can now see the layout possibilities of my island, and kicking myself for some early “Oh that’s good enough” decisions.

Now, I am starting to get into creating hybrid flowers and turnip sales. I am resisting looking up the plethora of guides out there, but I may buckle in a couple of weeks. See how I go first 🙂

Animal Crossing Meeting Deirdre
You start with 2 other 'islanders', and your population grows

My goal of turnip sales? To make enough bells to terraform my island into my ideal getaway location.

But what is the actual game?

This is the hardest part of Animal Crossing. Everything I have been talking about is the game. It’s why I recognised that it was good for those that enjoyed it, but I couldn’t see how I could enjoy it. 

You can hopefully understand that I am enjoying different things in Animal Crossing. Hearing people tell me about their Animal Crossing adventures was always lovely, but never really enticed me. Why not? Because you can’t really see the goal.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has apparently ‘fixed’ this, but I am not at that point yet. Your goal in New Horizons is to improve your island to the point that K.K. Slider comes and does a concert there. You do this by doing all the things I have been talking about. Decorate the island, get people to live there, and collect records apparently. That’s what Tom Nook suggests anyway. I am pretty sure he just like me paying him 3,200 bells every day for a new album.

Animal Crossing Museum Opening
You can celebrate milestones with your community

So the point of the game is to work on an artificial island to hold a phony concert?

If you are cynical, you can look at it that way. Animal Crossing won’t be for everyone. For me, it gave me a goal to work towards other than ‘enjoy yourself’. Something concrete to aim towards.

If the current world pandemic hadn’t happened, there is an excellent chance I would never have played Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Once I played enough to realise there was a ‘goal’, it allowed me to focus my gameplay.

Today, I am looking forward to what I do after the concert is held. Animal Crossing is a completionist’s dream – or nightmare. Fishing is a simple activity I have little patience for in real life. But the fish you can catch change. Part of this is a random bit of luck, part of this is seasonal.

Animal Crossing Lounge Room
You don't just collect creatures. You can also collect decorations for your island and home

Just like in real life, different breeds of fish appear at different times of the year. And not only fish – there is a plethora of bugs to collect as well. You can donate these to your museum to display along with all of the fossils you find. Art has been added as well.

The museum gives you a great way to display your progress as well as giving you a goal. 

Wait, the content changed? Art has been ‘added’?

Yep. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has embraced the software as a service model. Not only has content been added, but more is also coming. And not just things to collect. The rumour at the moment is there will be a swimming and diving mechanic coming soon.

Sure, this will lead to new things to collect. This is the sort of game grind that can kill many games for me. Destiny 2 ring a bell anyone? Animal Crossing has somehow made this grind ridiculously fun and relaxing. Will I get bored with it eventually? Yes. But I can’t see that happening anytime soon. That’s why I feel that even without fully experiencing all the game has to offer, it’s still fair for me to review it after 45 hours of play.

Animal Crossing Bunny Day
There are also seasonal events, such as Bunny Day when I just started playing

That kind of makes sense. I don’t know if just collecting stuff appeals to me though.

Here is another aspect of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and one I am probably not going to engage in. If you are the creative type, the level of customisation in New Horizons is staggering.

For example, I made my own flag from the site logo. My island tune is an admittedly butchered version of the Chocobo music from Final Fantasy.

You can design clothes, flooring, roads – so many things. This gives you a real sense of ownership and satisfaction.

Animal Crossing New Flag
This made me happier than I thought it would.

Not so much into the artsy side? One of the things that make me smile is people are hosting TV shows from Animal Crossing! The first time I saw this was Outside Xtra and the Show of the Almost Weekend. During the week, I watched another show where Danny Trejo was a guest on the show. Animal Talking with Gary Whitta is a full blown talk show, all done within the game. It’s amazing.

Games like Little Big Planet and Dreams give you tools to make amazing things. The things people have been making in Animal Crossing: New Horizon have blown me away.

Long story short – Animal Crossing is the relaxing time soak I knew it would be, and the community has made it so much more.

Overall Thoughts

Games where you ‘get out of it what you put into it’ are always hard to classify. They can sound like people just want to like them, or just can’t convince you to give them a try.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons falls into this category. Giving it a try more out of desperation to try to get some downtime than ‘real’ interest in the game, my expectations were low.

I was wrong. I am enjoying the daily grind loop. My joy at finding an island full of Bamboo plants was real. The eye rolls from Rabbit when I show her the next silly thing I have done are also real. 🙂

The only reason I am giving Animal Crossing: New Horizons 7.5 is because I know I won’t be playing it in 10 years. That’s not how my ranking works. But I would guess 90% of people that jump into Animal Crossing for the first time and stick with it even casually for a week will begin to fall into the same trap I did.

Damn you, Tom Nook! :p

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  • Quick, what you want to do gameplay in chunks of time you decide.
  • New things to discover and are being added at a steady pace.
  • A relaxing game that gives you an escape.
  • Lots of complex systems to discover.

Cons

  • Early game is prolonged.
  • In-game tutorials aren’t always as helpful as I would like.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 18th, 2020

Animal Crossing Lounge Room

Not many games played again this week. But bring on digital board game nights!

I don’t know where this week went! Work was steady, and today is my last long weekend day. I got to curl up on the couch a lot, which was good!

Last week though We got to play ‘board’ games with Steam Remote Play Anywhere. Basically, I own the game, but Steam Friends can play with me. I was surprised how easily the format worked!

I started with the idea of playing Ticket to Ride because I didn’t need to teach the game. Yeah, not a great idea. The way Play Anywhere Remote works is my screen is streamed and controls shared. This means for games like Ticket to Ride, everyone can see everyone’s tickets.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have games that will work well though 🙂

Tokaido – Steam

Yes, the hangover game! Or another way, the competitive holiday game.
The first game took a fair while to play, but that was to be expected. Elle had never played Tokaido before, so Harls and I spent some time talking through the options to teach her the game.

I knew teaching a game this way would be tricky. I am so used to being able to grab cards for example purposes, or quickly simulate a turn. Digital games don’t let you do this. This week, I am thinking just making everyone play the tutorial and see how that goes.

Tokaido was an excellent chill choice though, especially as we hadn’t caught up for a couple of weeks. We used the discord server I set up for games to chat, and everyone took their turn. Except for that one time I took Elle’s turn – sorry again Elle! Because Tokaido itself is such a relaxing time, chatting and playing was a whole lot of fun.

I think we created a Tokaido monster in Elle though. Harls and I had a bit of fun messing with each other the first game but talked Elle through the best scoring choices for the first two rounds. With that headstart, she took a commanding lead. The next game though, she still managed to pip Harls by 1 point!

Tokaido Gameplay
I was suprised how easy it was to share Tokaido via Steam
Tokaido End Game Scores
Elle took a well deserved victory. And the AI we kept in last place 🙂

Skribbl.io – Web

This was an interesting one. Skribble.io is a free Pictionary type game anyone with a web browser can play. The premise is simple – get a bunch of words (or supply your own), one person draws that word, and everyone else tries to guess the word. It was exactly as you expected, and a little bit of silly fun to end the night with.

I am not trying to be picky, but there is a little bit of a learning curve to the interface. This mean Harls (that started the game) owned the first game, as he supplied all of the custom words we had to draw.

The only reason I bring it up is I haven’t had the same initial “What’s going on?” with a lot of paid options. This makes sense – it’s a free game made by people in whatever time they have. I am not bringing it up as an indication Skribbl.io isn’t fun – just be prepared to throw away a round or two as you learn the system.

SkribblIo
I forgot to take a screenshot! But I did discover you can edit your avatar.

Dragon Castle – Steam

Alpal introduced me to Dragon Castle last year, I think? Time is hard for me to gauge at the best of times. Take the match style Mahjong gameplay popular on most PC ports of Mahjong, and add a city-building element.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add the tactile feeling of the Mahjong tiles coupled with building shrines and placing patterns, and Dragon Castle is surprisingly fun.

I had a quick game of the digital implementation this week. My idea was to go through my digital board games and see what would work with the Play Anywhere format. The game was fine, but I was having a little bit of trouble with the controls. I will try again before suggesting we play this next games night. Expect a formal review in the next week or two.

Dragon Castle
It's pretty, but you can't pick up the tiles. And I don't mean physically - controls are double click rather than dragging.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

I finally fired up the PS4 on Saturday. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, so I jumped back into Sleeping Dogs.

This was the right choice, as it was a stupid bit of fun. 😀

I didn’t do many side missions, but I seem to be progressing the story well enough. The triad leader I was trying to get information on was killed, and I have become the new gang leader. A war is brewing. It’s all standard crime movie fair, so you can see the story beats coming.

But to only partially engage my brain and enjoy myself, Sleeping Dogs was a heap of fun. I can see myself hitting a wall on some of the side quests. Trying to do a race on motorcycles frustrated me no end, for example. So I don’t think I will be Completing this game. But for an extended end of week gaming session? It’s hitting just the right level of fun, interest and challenge that I am looking for.

Sleeping Dogs Triangulation
There are enough different missions in Sleeping Dogs to keep things interesting.

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

So I suppose you can call this week the start of me playing Animal Crossing properly?

I finally added some more land for people to come over, and I am starting to hit the Nook Miles Ticket looking for new fruits, Bamboo, things like that. Today, I might actually sit down and try and come up with a plan for my island layout.

I think it’s fair to say that Animal Crossing has started to hook me. I can’t see myself playing it in day-long sessions, but all week when I wanted to be distracted, I went fishing. And setting up my house. I planted a small garden. I finally built a bridge.

And the final proof I am taking it ‘seriously’ – I even started buying K.K. Slider albums!

Animal Crossing Kaiju
Not the greatest way to start to decorate your island, but I couldn't resist

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 11th, 2020

Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform

I don’t know about you, but I have been so tired lately.

The world is as it is right now. Due to work, I haven’t had much real downtime. I have had times that I crash, but that isn’t great, and it has started to take its toll.

So another week without much gaming, up until Saturday where I spent way too much time playing Sleeping Dogs. How much? My controller drained from 100% charge. It was great.

But why tell you about it now? That’s what the entry is for below!

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

I gave this another go this week. Fixed up the screen resolution, so now it looks right when I play.

I only played one game, and I lost badly. Even though the gameplay stops until you make a decision, I was playing distracted and with gaps in gameplay. My team got wiped, mainly because I kept forgetting to see what items they had.

Let that be a lesson for you. Don’t take a ‘simple’ game for granted. Some are designed to punish such lapses in concentration, and Elder Sign fits in this category.

Elder Sign Omens Cthulhu Campaign Start
I haven't played a hard campaign for a while. Jumped straight to Cthulhu. Oops.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I tried to get into Final Fantasy again last weekend. I am really looking forward to playing this through, but I was really not in the right frame of mind to play it.

Work has stretched me mentally for a few weeks, and I saved right before essentially a boss fight with Rude. After not playing for a week, I like a ‘normal’ fight to get the muscle memory kicking in again with the controls.

Real-time combat, new boss patterns plus brain rebelling at even minor multitasking lead to a bad time playing. This isn’t what you want to experience when playing games. I have put it down again for a bit, but after a couple of long weekends expect me to come back with renewed vigour to this one.

I did manage to beat Rude first try though. That was satisfying, but I also closed the game without saving. Guess I will have to kick his pretty butt again. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Flower Mural
Earlier in the game, we picked some flowers. This was the result.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Rude
Mid fight cutscene, but it was satisfying to see his glasses broken

John Wick Hex – PS4

This game is the reason I have an Epic Games Store account. Early on in the piece, they were offering $10 credit on purchases to try to bring in people. It worked – I preordered John Wick Hex for about AUD$6.

It came out during PAX 2019. I jumped on and tried to play, but it kept crashing on me. I closed it up, expecting to wait for some patches. And promptly forgot about it.

Well, it came to PS4 last week, so I fired it up. Pure turn-based gameplay sounded right for my frame of mind. I cleared the first couple of levels, and then the crashes started. Again.

I want to get into John Wick Hex. When it works, the gameplay is engaging. The challenges are achievable, just not easy. But the crashing – oh, the crashing. Why.

With no in-round saving (which I agree with, it would be too easy otherwise), having to start and hope the random crash doesn’t happen again is infuriating.

I think I will check out the state of the PC version, and if it’s doing better might try John Wick Hex as an initial streaming choice.

John Wick Hex Gameplay
As you play, everything is cut into time units between turns
John Wick Hex Replay
When you finish a level, you can watch the replay in realtime. It is very satisying - when it works

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I haven’t really been giving Animal Crossing the love it deserves. I finally got my island to the level that the shop is upgrading. Turnip sales aren’t treating me well – I barely made a profit from last weeks sales. This is on me though – I forgot to check prices until Thursday!

One thing I did do last Friday was start playing with the designer. My first design? Site logo, of course! And I have made it the flag for my island. That was uber satisfying, and I am sure some smart cookie has already made a way to do this better by importing pictures.

Animal Crossing New Flag
This made me happier than I thought it would.

But sitting at my desk with YouTube playing while drawing dots was satisfying. I also paid off my third room. This week, time to start getting the island ready for K.K. Slider!

Also, I watched Show of the Weekend on Sunday finally. The Outside Xbox/Outside Xtra team is excellent to watch and relax to. And last week, they did the show from within Animal Crossing! Check it out if you want to see some friends having a great time in the cutest way possible.

Animal Crossing Flora Leaving
One of my islanders also departed. I miss Flora the Flamingo already.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

Speaking of watching people, a friend of mine spookedshibe began streaming again. She started streaming with Sleeping Dogs, a game that I heard was an overlooked classic from the PS3/Xbox 360 days.

After watching her for a couple of hours, I came away with a lot of interest. Enough that I went and bought it on PSN and started playing it.

Combat is reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series, including environmental takedowns. Missions and adventures are like Grand Theft Auto, but with a mix of humour like Saints Row. Driving is surprisingly reminiscent of Burnout, including achievements for jumps and ‘safe’ driving over 60kph.

There were some frustrations. If you fail a counter, you are exposed for a second or two, just like the Arkham games. There were times though this kind of pause just happened mid-fight. When driving, sometimes I would visibly miss a car, but get launched into the air. It was hilarious to watch, just random.

Given the age of the game and how infrequent these happen though, I will give it a pass. I did one mission that I had to repeat a couple of times because of the combat pause, but it was a unique mission. This will become my explore game between Final Fantasy VII I think.

If you would like to see someone that has played it relive the game, check out spookedshibe’s Twitch channel.

Sleeping Dogs Racing
Stills don't do it justice, but racing really feels like Burnout without the slow motion takedowns
Sleeping Dogs Fighting
Oh, I forgot to mention - you are an undercover cop doing things like this
Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform
In a strange game quirk, I can run around in a police uniform, and the triads don't blink at all

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 4th, 2020 – May the Fourth be with you!

Star Wars Day

It was another light games week. You would think I was tearing through games while stuck at home!

So many things are going on. Working in IT is an interesting experience under the best of circumstances. The mental gymnastics of working with multiple projects, codebases, technologies and time zones is a workout.

We are doing all this while everyone is working from home as well. That is a mental and time management toll that has been hard to manage.

Luckily, today is not only Star Wars Day, but Labour Day public holiday here in QLD! After working Saturday and resting yesterday, I am finally going to see Alpal today! It’s going to be great catching up, and I am sure a game or two will break out.

It’s the future for me, but I would have done it when you read this. Expect to hear the outcome of that next week! 🙂 For now, let’s talk about what I played last week!

Jackbox Party Pack games – PC/Stream

Another streaming games night, have almost everything sorted, which is working well. I not only got to play Jackbox with some of my regular games group but also with my work team! So much Jackbox!

Guesspionage still makes you question the survey results, but Murder Trivia Party is always a group favourite. If we Jackbox this week, I think some drawing heavy games will in the mix this time.

If you catch up with Zoom/Teams/Skype/whatever, you need one person to share their screen with the host game. Everyone else plays on their phones/browsers. The format works surprisingly well!

Murder Trivia Party Ooops
I won a round of Murder Trivia Party! And the hotel exploded. Ooops.

Finally worked out how to get the sound working correctly as well. On the Windows Game Bar (Windows Key and G at the same time), there is an audio mixer. You can drop the game sound while leaving peoples voices alone. If anyone wants a hand with this, drop me a comment, and I will do a quick tutorial! 🙂

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

During the week, I was sitting back and waiting for someone to get back to me. I was in the mood for a dice game I could play quickly, but also walk away from if required.

I thought I would fire up One Deck Dungeon. Somehow, I started Elder Sign. I wasn’t complaining – I haven’t played it for a while, so I jumped into the Hastur campaign.

One of my team was driven insane, but I made it through. I haven’t forgotten everything it seems! It was satisfying to finish a campaign after a few weeks of almost ignoring board games. It also felt great to finally log a play after three weeks on inactivity!

Elder Sign Omens
I'm sorry Kate. She was driven insane. Also, I need to fix my screen settings apparently...

Streets of Rage 4 – Xbox GamePass

I knew this retro Kickstarter had released, but I was surprised it was also available on Game Pass. Free try? Yes, please!

Short version, it’s a faithful continuation of the SEGA classic series. I started a game as Blaze (my old favourite character) and felt at home. The downside? It’s a faithful continuation of the old series. Weird hit windows, being a pixel off on a plane, animation locking – it all exists here.

Streets of Rage (and games like it) work best in cooperative play. You can now not only play with someone online but apparently have 4 players at once? I haven’t tried this, but it would be an excellent way to play.

Streets of Rage 4
Graphically, it's a great balance between retro feel and modern improvements

I will probably grind my way to the end of the story as I have always done with the series. If I can talk Rabbit or someone else into playing with me (even online), I might also do a proper review. But it was fun for an hour, and for no more than my Game Pass subscription for entry, that’s not bad.

Animal Crossing – Switch

Oh, the progress I have been making in Animal Crossing. Honestly, I know I am playing the bare minimum most days. I hit the Nook Stop for my daily miles bonus, find my money tree spot and plant some bells. I visited my first Nook Miles Mystery Island and found the photography island. And of course, I have also been trying to do Nature Day activities.

This week, I built my campsite and invited my first guest. Resident Services got upgraded, and I started adding Art to my Museum.

Is Animal Crossing basically gamified real life? Yep. But it’s so satisfying to be able to run around for 15-20 minutes each night and say “I have done what I wanted to do”.

How’s your island going?

Animal Crossing
Campsite completed, and I even managed to snag a new resident!

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I finally sat down Sunday night and started playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake again. Rabbit and I set ourselves up on the couch, transferred my save, and settled in to continue the story a bit.

I haven’t played for a while, so I thought I would have trouble with the controls for a little bit. The controls aren’t terrible, just not entirely intuitive. And I have been switching consoles to make things worse.

So I load my save, talk to Aerith, and get dropped straight into a boss fight. This is the best way to describe my weeks lately!

Still, progress was made. I am now in the next section where I can side quest to my heart’s content. Shiva has been defeated, so I have my third summon.

During the week, I will probably chill with the side quests while Rabbit does what she needs to. Then when I am ready to continue the story, we will move back to the couch and play together. Great way to play through everything quickly? Nope. Nice way to spend time together and savour the experience? Absolutely. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Shiva Battle
Don't try taking on Shiva by yourself. You will do OK for a while, then your butt will be handed to you!
Final Fantasy VII Remake Moogle
Not going to lie, not the Moogle I was expecting!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 27th, 2020

Animal Crossing - Art Wing Opening

I’m standing on the inside looking out

Yes, I’m old. That is a Cold Chisel reference. And I am sure that explanation will still be lost on many of you!

Things are coming along with the new setup. Progress is being made, which is taking up a lot of my free time. Not that I have much – it’s been a week!

Next weekend is another long weekend, so I am going to have a lot of work to keep my busy this week as well. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to play anything. 🙂

Jackbox Party

Another online gaming night, this time the star of the show was the Jackbox Party games.

Playing with essentially a closed stream, a few of us were able to jump on and play a few exciting party games. General trivia with Lie Swatter, guessing survey results with Guesspionage, and my personal favourite Trivia Murder Party!

It felt good to have a bit of that weekly social catch up back as the norm. Not sure what we will do this week, but it was working well, so let the experiments continue!

Guesspionage - Amusement Parks Question
Spoiler - I grossly overestimated the amount of people for this question 🙂

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Oh, Animal Crossing. New Horizons is the first Animal Crossing game I have played, but I haven’t been getting into it as much as I hoped I would.

Not because it’s a bad game. Chilling with Animal Crossing is great! Mainly by the time I finish my workdays, they have been nudging the 10 hours in front of a screen recently.

I have made an effort though in the last few days. I finally finished the first 3 new houses, and people are coming to live on my island. I also opened the Art Wing of the Museum!

Hopefully, I will be putting in a good couple of sessions this week, where I will finally start experimenting with the Nook Miles Tickets. Wish me luck!

Animal Crossing - Art Wing Opening
I logged in too late to buy turnips this week. But I did get to see the new Museum upgrade!

Resident Evil 3 – PS4

I put in a lot of hours on Resident Evil after writing my review last Friday. And I have been having so much fun!

To complete the game, I need two dedicated runs. A Minimalist route, where I do not open any Item Boxes. No unlimited ammo weapons allowed! I think my notes are up to the task. This will take me more than an hour to blast through!

The other is attaining an S rank Inferno run. Well, technically it’s two runs – I need to complete it as well, but why not go for the S rank first time?

Inferno is the hardest mode in Resident Evil 3. I guarantee I will be using every reward I have earned from the Shop in this run. My video recording setup is getting there – I just need to fix up the audio.

What do you think – inaugural stream run of the Inferno run? Could be a lot of fun!

Resident Evil 3 - Last Mr Charlie Found
Rocket Launcher. Overkill? Yep. Satisfying after spending 6 hours looking for the last Mr Charlie? Absolutely!
Resident Evil 3 - Almost Complete
I really want to do a no save/no death run on Inferno. That pattern is just beggin for it!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 20th, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Remake Views

Finally got a game night in – sort of. I will take it!

We are all still inside, and like all of us, this has put a crimp on my social activities.

Last week, we finally started getting an online games night launched. Pretty sure most of the bugs have been ironed out now, so JackBox Party this week!

But that’s what I am looking forward to playing. What about what I have been up to?

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – Steam

I played a few games of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes when it first came out. Playing in virtual reality on PSVR, it is a fun logic/communication problem game.

Then with game nights, the digital games took a back seat to physical games, and my plans of bomb defusal nights withered away.

With everything that has been going on, finally picked a few games to try and play digitally. The first test – Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!

Don’t have to worry about screen share. The bomb defusing ‘experts’ can see the manual on their system while we chat. Overall, it worked really well.

The biggest issue was trying to teach people how puzzles worked. Experts with the manual can just normally point to a section as they talk about how it works. Over chat and some without video at all, this made things a smidge harder.

Because a few people had a copy already, we could even switch up the teams which was fun. Still maybe a niche alternative for some, if you have a copy somewhere playing over voice chat was more fun that I imagined.

Keep Talking and Nobody Menu Explodes Menu
We didn't get far, and played a from a couple of sources, but Keep Talking worked well!
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Bomb Disposal
Playing via group chat is a great way to get a game in - just harder to teach

Potion Explosion – Steam

I have talked about Potion Explosion a few times on the site. I love playing it solo against bots, but playing against people is always a better experience.

So I semi-broke my own rules, and we ended the night playing Potion Explosion. What I completely forgot to take into account was neither other played had played recently. Like, months to a year recently.

Teaching someone how to play Potion Explosion via chat only is an exercise. The rules are simple when you can see them in action, but turn based digital doesn’t help.

Potion Explosion Scores
Harls and Elle hadn't played for a while, but it was fun to finally play together again 🙂

If you play Potion Explosion online with friends, maybe make sure everyone has done the tutorial first. Even if you aren’t used to the rules, having the controls down will help everyone have a smoother time.

Animal Crossing – Switch

I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time on Animal Crossing this week as I thought I would.

It’s not the game losing appeal or anything like that. By the time I was going to jump on and play, it was 11ish at night, the shop was shut, and I just lost enthusiasm from that perspective.

This week though, I will be back to spending my lunchbreaks playing the Switch. Island renovation recommening!

Animal Crossing Fishing
I haven't even changed from my Bunny Day clothes. At least I caught a new fish!

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

Another victim of my mindset, I didn’t play as much Final Fantasy as I hoped either.

I did make it through another huge section, and have had my boss fight after the second reactor.

My enthusiasm for Final Fantasy VII Remake remains, but I have started getting very frustrated with the controls. I don’t know if it was just me having a bad day or if the AI had decided to end it all. My party members would just walk into boss attacks that would wipe them in a single round. I would revive them, then they would stand there to be hit again.

“Switch characters and control them!” I hear someone shout. Yep, I did. Then my main character would run into the exact same spot I ran from, and get killed.

As I said, it could have been me. I haven’t been in the mood to play a lot this week, and that does have an impact. But if you feel like sometimes your party members are being dumb – I am pretty sure they are, at least sometimes.

Normally they are great and I almost forget they are there! See how I go next week and if the trend continues.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Chocobo Moogle Summons
Yes, you can summon a Chocobo ridden by a Moogle. Yes, I love this way too much.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Views
The sense of scale and just how beautiful the world looks amazes me every time

Resident Evil 3 – PS4

So I spent Sunday night finishing Resident Evil 3. Again.

I had intended as a second run through trying to find all the files and bobbleheads. It turned into a leisurely zombie fighting run. I haven’t made any progress towards S ranks or higher difficulties. I found 1 more bobble head statue. Out of 12 missing.

Worst of all, I am missing one file to read everything. Looks like a few more runs in my future. Oh, the humanity! :p

I don’t know if I am going to go for the Platinum Trophy, but I will talk more about that in Friday’s review.

Resident Evil 3
I spent so much time marvelling at the skyline, I forgot the path was on fire

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 13th, 2020

20200413 Last Weeks Gaming Feature

You would think with being at home all the time, I would be playing more games!

Working from home is always a mixed blessing. Changes in routine are hard. Missing out on seeing everyone in person is hard. But I am hoping to turn all this into positives. Stick around and see how that turns out! 😀

But enough of all that, let’s get onto what I did get to play this week.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So last week I started playing this global favourite. Well, favourite as long as you aren’t the Chinese government.

As I have said, the last few weeks have been hard on me. A game that I could just pick up and chill with was exactly what I needed. Normally, solo board games do this for me. Digital games make setup/teardown a non-issue. But even the small mental puzzle aspect of solo games was turning me off.

Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I started playing late compared to most, but just in time to get the most of the ‘Bunny Day’ event. Sitting on the couch and exploring my island was just so relaxing. I haven’t taken advantage of a lot of the extras like Nook Miles Tickets. Apparently, I missed a fishing tournament. Didn’t even know that was a thing.

Animal Crossing Museum Opening
The first day I played, I got enough specimens to open my Museum straight away!

But I got a great review of my house improvements. Another thing I didn’t realise was a thing. I got all of the Bunny Day recipes and got the Wand reward. Now I need to figure out how to obtain Star Fragments! :p

I have played between 20 minutes and 2 hours every day. It’s been great. It’s not the high-level gameplay of Doom Eternal, or anywhere near as stressful as Resident Evil 3.

If you have a Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great little relax session, whether after work or just to game when everything else seems ‘too hard’.

Animal Crossing Home
I don't know how all this got a score over 20,000 - but I will take it hahaha

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4 Pro

So last week I gave my First Impressions. To say reception of Final Fantasy VII Remake has been interesting is an understatement.

Personally, my take is to approach Remake as a new game, with story beats that you will know if you played the original.

That said, I have played about 7 hours worth so far? Not because I didn’t want to inhale it – my plan was to play this non-stop over the week. I am now in the same position I would have been about 30 minutes into the original.

The graphics are gorgeous, the music is sensational, and the world of Midgar has been great to explore. As I said in my First Impressions, jRPGs aren’t for everyone. Easily five hours have been spent on doing side quests and not progressing the story. I stopped here so that I could play with Rabbit. Missing side quests – not a big deal. But I want to go through the story proper with her.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake First Impressions
Yep, shameless plug pic :p Doesn't stop the game from looking amazing though!

I stand by my comment of if you are curious, play the demo. There is no save feature in the demo, so progress isn’t carried over. Luckily you can’t progress too far, so replaying that portion isn’t too bad. And because you will be more familiar with the controls, you will blitz through combat the second time around.

It will be a long time before I can give Final Fantasy VII Remake a proper review. But I am really enjoying it, and that’s about all I can give it right now.

Resident Evil 3 – PS4 Pro

I gave my First Impressions on this one as well. I finished Resident Evil 3 this week. That’s not to say I am finished with it, just I got to the end of the game.

A couple of things straight off the bat. Yes, it’s a short game by today’s standards. I wouldn’t consider myself a Resident Evil pro, but I am experienced in the gameplay. I got through it in six and a half hours, with a fair bit of exploration attempted. I missed a lot of Mr Charlie bobbleheads, and I couldn’t see 3 documents.

Resident Evil games, especially Resident Evil 2 and 3, are designed to play multiple times. Partially to find everything, but also to unlock rewards that make new playthroughs easier.

Resident Evil 3 First Impressions
And yes, second shameless plug. Resident Evil 3 was so good though!

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis wasn’t supposed to be the third game – this tidbit came out years later. The true successor is Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The original game had the same ‘short’ complaints, but they got lost in multiple endings and the Mercenaries mode.

A lot of the complaints I have heard about Resident Evil 3 aren’t ‘wrong’, but I am curious about the lack of context of a lot of them. There are new story facts (found in documents) that now tie into the creation of Nemesis that relate better to the lore of later games. No spoilers, but I really appreciated these touches.

Resident Evil 3 Racoon City Demo
No scary screens here. But even on the Xbox One S, I love the reflections the devs managed to get working in this engine!

I will wrap the rest of this up in the full review Friday. But for today, if you are keen, try the demo. Maybe wait for a sale, unless you enjoy multiplayer. I don’t, so I haven’t even fired up the included Resistance game. But don’t let the negative headlines sway you – Resident Evil 3 is a worthy follow up to last years Resident Evil 2.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter and Instagram!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 6th, 2020

Animal Crossing First Night

I thought I did a lot of gaming last week. Turns out not so much. I did catch some early warning signs though.

On the whole though, I haven’t played a lot. Not for lack of want or ability – I could have played more with Alpal and/or Rabbit. Reality kicked in with how easily I slipped back into bad work/life habits though.

I roll out of bed in the morning and start work. Maybe 10 minutes between getting out of bed and hitting work mode. This is normal, and happens about 5:30 am. But after essentials are relegated, prioritised or completed, I then used to get an hour’s drive to work to reset. Without the drive, I can sleep in until 6:30 🙂

The work day continues until tasks are done (with interruptions and new tasks added, as is always the way isn’t it?), about 5ish when I would normally get home (not normally end the day – normally get home), or until I mentally just can’t anymore.

It’s the last one that ends my day lately.

This has led to 3 weeks of pushing 12 hour+ days again. I don’t like what those days do to me.

Because I have been working from home, I lose things like the forced ‘downtime’ of my hour long commute each way. While people often complain about commuting, for me this time is essential to be able to walk in the door without worrying about work. If I come home and have to continue to work, it is truly important and the exception, not the norm.

Why am I going on about all this? I thought I got a lot of gaming in because I used a lot of a small amount of ‘me’ time playing games. This changed late Saturday, when I basically got to spend the rest of the weekend on the couch with Rabbit watching TV and just enjoying each others company.

While you are staying at home for this extended period, don’t forget to set your routines and stick to them! It is easier to burn yourself out at home where you can’t get away from work/stress/yourself/etc. I know the traps and signs, and I still let myself get trapped again!

I took a ‘me’ day a couple of weeks ago that I still worked for about 5 hours. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to make the day worthless for recovery purposes.

Take a ‘me’ day every week, but truly take one. Look after yourselves, and don’t burn yourselves out!

That’s enough of the deep and meaningful stuff – what did I get to play last week!

Potion Explosion – Android

Here is a perfect example of how you can lose track of time. I thought last week I set myself a challenge to pick different potions and professors. It was coming up to 3! It was two weeks ago today I set a challenge to change up my ‘normal’ play combinations.

I used to beat the AI fairly often, and fairly handily. Changing the potions and professors alters the game in deeper ways than people realise, and forces you to find new combinations.

Spoiler alert – I didn’t pick new potions. Or professors. I only got in two games. But they were the games I needed. Picking up Potion Explosion just felt right while sitting on the couch.

I don’t think I will ever feel tired of it. And I just realised I never formally reviewed it! That will need to be fixed soon.

Potion Explosion
I have played enough recently to get back into the swing. This is why I need to change up my potions!

Control – PS4

Control is an absolutely insane game. Not the longest game out there, replay value started to wane even in my short time with it.  The Foundation expansion came out just as I finished the main game, and kept asking me to play it when I was chasing the Platinum.

If you like Twin Peaks, Dune and weird story plots and turn of that nature, you will probably enjoy Control. Mass appeal wise, I think the problem is not many people do enjoy those paranormal/doubt your senses type stories, especially in what looks like a third person shooter.

My review of Control is coming, and is a lot better (and a lot different) than you probably think. If you see it on sale at the moment, you could do a lot worse than picking up Control.

Control Service Weapon
One of the less weird things about Control is that your gun changes shape. Itself.

Resident Evil 3 – PS4

Oh you knew this was coming. I played my first bit Friday night, replayed that section and a little more with Rabbit, and happily called it a night.

Then I just couldn’t get back into it come Saturday. This was actually one of my first wake up calls that I was pushing myself too hard – I just couldn’t pick up the controller.

After a proper day of rest, I played quite a bit more curled up next to Rabbit last night 🙂 This game is great. I am having fun exploring, and kicking myself for moving that little too far or rushing through a section without fully exploring. Rabbit is enjoying watching, and jumping alongside me when new (and not so new) enemies appear.

This will probably be ready for me to properly review soon. Resident Evil games tend to be on the shorter side, but you play through them multiple times. Until then, an hour a night isn’t too much, and I can calm down with the next game 😉

Resident Evil 3
You can see my video of Resident Evil 3 and my first impressions. The Nemesis doesn't muck around!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

After hearing about everyone going on about Animal Crossing for years, I finally took the plunge.

In my great wisdom, I took the plunge at about 11:15 pm, Sunday night. This may have been a mistake, as I was playing to close to 1 am! So yes, technically, I was playing Animal Crossing this week instead of last week, but I am sure it counts :p

I have only just started, so I can’t really say too much about it. It was relaxing weeding what sections of the island I could get to. I have started fishing and catching bugs. Blathers is on his way, or at least I set up his tent.

If you don’t know Animal Crossing, most of what I just said makes no sense why it would be fun. But somehow, it is. It just works, and in the best possible way.

I have decided this week, Animal Crossing New Horizons is going to be my lunchtime downtime break, so expect to hear a lot more about this one. 🙂

Animal Crossing First Task Complete
Yes, people are days ahead of me. But that's not really the point of Animal Crossing.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD