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 – 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 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