Last Week’s Gaming – July 27th, 2020

Maneater The Frozen Banana Stand

Where did July go?

So here we are with the last Last week’s gaming of July 2020. This month has just flown!

I have another weird week coming up, with having to go into work and meet contractors for work in the office. My attempts at a schedule have been failing badly.

What has been working well is taking a break from most of the site articles. I am still overly tired by the end of the week, but I have actually made a dent in some gaming this week!

What did I play? Well, let’s get into it!

So Alpal had been shopping, and I got to play a game I have been interested in for ages!

Winner of the 2019 Kinderspiel des Jahres, I can see why everyone was so excited about this game. The goal is simple – have the most money at the end of the game.

Each round, the active player gets to roll a boulder into some coloured posts. Every colour represents a player, and that player gets to then plan out how those player tokens are moved on the main game board.

Once this is done, depending on where on the board the player marker is, players get coins or get to steal them from other players. You can also get coins stolen from you, so be careful!

The game ends when there are no more coins in the general supply. So games are lightning fast! The strategy is surprisingly satisfying, but the luck and dexterity factor make Valley of the Vikings fun for all.

Valley of the Vikings
It's not quite any genre you think it is. Area control, dexterity, strategy, luck - they all apply, but Valley of the Vikings isn't quite any of them.

A game that has been sadly on my shelf for far too long, Wacky Races finally made it to the gaming table this week. Alpal managed to snag each of us a copy of the deluxe version. The only real difference is that the pieces come pre-painted, so that’s one job off my list!

I expected a fun and straightforward racing game, and I was not disappointed. One of the reasons I haven’t played it for so long is I had trouble with the manual. It’s not a poorly written manual, my brain has not been doing well with reading manuals lately. It’s a symptom of being overly tired. But Alpal stepped up on manual duty, and we had a blast.

The thing that surprised me the most was for such a simple game, I was more stressed than playing Downforce. Don’t misunderstand – Downforce is a better ‘racing’ game. Still, Wacky Races random neutral (i.e. non-player) racers can overtake you quickly!

Dick Dastardly also zooms ahead and lays traps just like in the cartoons. He basically can’t win though, so he isn’t a selectable racer for players. I was initially disappointed by this, but ultimately I had so much fun this was quickly forgotten.

We had a lot of fun playing Wacky Races, but I think it would shine with 4 or more players. I can technically solo this game though, so now I have how to play down pat, it may come off the shelf more.

Wacky Races Gameplay
The race is on! This kind of tight grouping is very common for the game. And no, we didn't get to Escape the Dark Castle - this time 🙂

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

So I decided to give Final Fantasy VII Remake a platinum run. This meant my second playthrough is in hard mode. I expected a challenge. What I got was soulsborne!

When playing on Hard (which you can’t do without finishing the game once), there are harder enemies. This was assumed, no surprises there. What has forced me to stop playing is that I can’t use items, and you can’t spam magic. When you rest at a bench, you get full HP restored, but no MP!

Taking on a Chapter 3 side quest, I can’t beat one of the side quests monsters. It just hands me my butt. Usually, I would rest up and come back fresh, but I don’t think I am quite ready mentally to take on hard mode.

I will come back to Final Fantasy VII Remake, but right now I decided to change games and just relax and enjoy myself. What game did I choose to switch to?

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Healing Bench
Find a seat, get back HP and MP. Not in Hard mode!

Maneater – PS4

I started Maneater when it first came out and decided that it would be a bit of fun to play in short bursts. I thought this would be the perfect way to continue to relax, and get a game off the ‘Just finish it’ list.

Well, finish it I did. Not only that, I Platinumed it!

When I finished playing, I was about 60% of the way through the story. Maneater gives you a nice progress meter to let you know how you are doing.

Saturday night, I gave up on Final Fantasy and picked up Maneater. I spent a few hours switching between progressing the story and just swimming around eating everyone.

Maneater Kaiju Gate
There are plenty of references hidden (and not so hidden) through the waters you explore

Sunday night, I picked it up and finished the last couple of missions to complete the story. Then I spent a couple of hours just swimming around and finding collectables to Complete it.

So usually I would be saying ‘review in the works’, but I don’t know when I will start doing reviews again. If you pick up Maneater, play it for an hour or so at a time. Do some story missions, unlock the next area, and call it quits for the night. This helps extend the time it will take you to finish it while helping avoid the repetitive nature of the missions set in.

This way of playing also beats another issue with Maneater – it crashes. A lot. There are lots of autosaves happening, so it’s more of an annoyance than anything else when you have to load back in. But I found once I hit the two-hour mark, I would just wait for either a straight crash, or the loading screen to get stuck and not switch back to the game.

This isn’t enough to stop me from recommending Maneater as a bit of fun and a different experience, but be aware this is an issue with the game.

Maneater Hello Pete
The story is predictable, but it was still satisfying staring down your nemesis

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nope. I know this is one you expected to see, I haven’t picked up my Switch all week. In fact, everything played this week was just on the weekend!

But being able to sit back and rest during the week has let me get in a lot more gaming. Maybe next week, I will be able to put in a couple of hours midweek for more gaming, but not just yet.

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 – July 20th, 2020

Camel Up - Much nicer components

Not as much gaming as I would have liked, but one big tick off my finished games list. Final Fantasy VII Remake is now in the ‘Do I complete it?’ pile.

Fast intro this week. I didn’t get much gaming in last week, mainly because I was pretty burnt out and I am making a formal recovery effort.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t get in any gaming though. in fact, I actually got to put the finishing touches on a game I have been waiting on for decades!

But more of that below 🙂

I reviewed Downforce almost two years ago. Downforce is to this day right up there as my favourite Restoration Games effort to date. Only Stop Thief! fights for that top spot, and possibly only Return to Dark Tower can topple it.

Why can I say that? Well, on my first “I am playing games just for me” weekend, Downforce was one of my first choices to get back on the table. Are there better games out there? Of course. But Downforce is consistently fun to play, and Alpal and I had a blast playing through a couple of races.

Need to get that Wild Ride Expansion still though…

Downforce - An old favourite makes it back to the table
It was so good to just sit and enjoy this simple racing game

The other fun game that I haven’t played for ages is Camel Up. Switching one type of racing to another, Camel Up is a fun game that prioritises betting and strategy.

Alpal also has the glorious Second Edition. Why is it glorious? The components have been upgraded for a start. I can’t wait to paint her coins! Also, the Pyramid is now hard plastic and works a lot better. There are also new rules in the crazy camels!

The best addition? The main play board now has a pop-up Oasis. This may be another purchase I am trying to tell myself I don’t need. Want, without a doubt, just not need. I am telling myself that anyway 🙂

Camel Up - Much nicer components
Not too much has changed gameplay wise, but the appeal for seeing the game on the table has cranked to 11!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So this week, I basically didn’t play Animal Crossing. I jumped on for the first time since last Monday on Sunday night. I have a lot of clean up to do!

But while I didn’t play much, I did add a new bridge and move another villager home. The island makeover is happening slowly. Hopefully, I will be able to devote some time to that this week, but I have a feeling my daily adventures in Sleep Cove may be coming to an end.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still a lot of fun, but it may soon turn into a couple of days a week visits rather than a daily end of day ritual.

Animal Crossing - My Games Room
My games room in my Animal Crossing home is coming along nicely

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

What I did get into with gusto last weekend was Final Fantasy VII Remake. Last week, I wrote how I was almost at the end of the game. I got to the story ‘You can’t go back once you proceed’ points, and I thought I had only a little bit left to go.

Nope. There was a good 7-8 hours to go, and I stayed up Friday night and played through until I saw the credits.

A formal review will come, in what form and when I am not sure yet. But I will say, as a die-hard Final Fantasy VII fan, I don’t know where the internet uproar is coming from.

It’s not the same game with prettier graphics. Remake isn’t perfect, but I can’t see how people can claim it isn’t a Final Fantasy VII game. The story is familiar, but with new twists. I can’t really go into more without going into spoiler territory, and while it has been out for a couple of months, I am not ready to go there just yet.

One thing that did annoy me is you can’t capture anything with the PS4 in the final chapter. It’s all locked down. This was a real shame, as there were a couple of bosses I would have loved to turn into a desktop background.

And the final chapter is a boss gauntlet. Every fight is challenging in different ways, and you think “This must be the last fight” over and over again.

Final Fantasy VII Remake - Choices
Cloud is definitely not on the bench anymore! Alright, I like dad jokes. #sorrynotstorry
Final Fantasy VII Remake - Completion Run
Apart from a hard mode run, I need to do side quests like this to get the platinum

In the wait for the next episode/release/whatever Square wants to call it, there is only one decision left. Do I go for the Platinum run, or if I finally start turning my attention to The Witcher 3? What a terrible position to be in! :p

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 – July 13th, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Feature

Another week down, but not as much gaming this week 🙁 That said, what I did play, I played a lot! Huge strides made in Final Fantasy 7 Remake this week 🙂

Wow. Where did last week go? I sat down on Monday, and the next thing I knew, I was looking upon how much more work I had to do over the weekend.

So, in self-preservation, I kind of shut down this weekend. I slept so much on Friday night. Then on Saturday, I got absorbed in the fishing tourney on Sleep Cove. After that, I sat down for hours in Final Fantasy.

But why tell you here? That’s what the rest of the article is about!

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

Not a lot of detail in Blood Rage this week. I got in a couple of games, but both took me almost all day. That is the beautiful thing about turn-based games – if you have something else to do, you can just come back to it.

I haven’t been paying close attention to updates, so I am not sure how my widescreen fixes are coming. But it’s still a blast to fire up Blood Rage and have a game. Even losing, playing with different cards and the adaptive playstyles of the AI make each game a challenge.

Blood Rage - Amped Up
While I wasn't winning a lot of battles, I was making good headway in the stats race

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I did SO MUCH FISHING this week! This was my first time being able to participate in the Animal Crossing fishing tournament, and I managed to unlock all 3 trophies.

I even managed to miss that I caught a new type of fish – a goldfish. I didn’t see that until today when I finally opened it back up. Sunday, I didn’t play. I think that is my first completely Animal Crossing Free day in about 6 weeks?

I have also started designing my island. I have started to get the housing lined up correctly and decided on a floral border around the houses. A little tight living wise, but in-game it works. For me, at least 🙂

I will start getting back into Animal Crossing in dribs and drabs this week. I finally got back into something I have been holding off on for a long time…

Animal Crossing Gold Trophy
A day well spent - virtual fishing for a virtual trophy. Also, my house got a facelift 🙂

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

This was my Saturday night. I didn’t crawl into bed until just before the sun came up. So worth it 🙂

Last time I stopped playing, I had fought Rude for the first time then shut it away. The difficult fights are satisfying but frustrating. Playing when I was already pretty stressed wasn’t great.

Now, from Rude, I have stopped getting into Midgar after the big Shinra plan reveal. You know what it is if you know the game, nothing spoiled if you haven’t played.

I am hoping to make time this week to finish the game. Completing it though? I want to, I think, but not yet. Maybe a game I come back to during my next big game. My backlog is too large, and I really want to finish The Witcher 3 before the Cyberpunk 2077 launch…

Final Fantasy VII Sewer Fight
The battles take a lot of getting used to. So much is going on at anytime, and multiple foes don't make it easier

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

Final Fantasy 7 First Impressions and Thoughts

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Logo

It’s been 15 years since this has been teased as possible. Now Final Fantasy VII Remake is here.

Final Fantasy VII was my first Final Fantasy game. This is a big reason why to this day it has a special place in my heart. I have found for most people this holds true.

Before anyone jumps up and down, no Final Fantasy VII isn’t the best one. Final Fantasy IX has that honour in my opinion. Final Fantasy X until now was my recommendation for people new to the series.

But enough gushing and praise for Square Enix – want to see me play the first little bit?

As I said repeatedly, if you aren’t sure – get the demo!

This is one episodic series I wouldn’t wait for them all to come out either. It could be years before the next part. Luckily, with 30+ hours of gameplay, you will have plenty to stick your teeth into. 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD