Last Week’s Gaming – September 21st, 2020 – Can’t Ride the Blocks Boomerang for United Fireworks

Is It Wrong Celebration Scene

Well, what a week that was!

Last week started out strong. Games night, dents in work projects, all was looking great! I think that’s where I made my first mistake. I told the universe it was a good week.

PlayStation 5 went up for surprise preorders. Did you manage to snag one? And the Nvidia 3080 launch. It was every bit the s#!%show I thought it might be.

I know people are disappointed that they missed out on launch orders for both items. Many more people missed out on 3080’s more than the PS5. If you did miss out, remember more are coming.

Myself, I wasn’t lucky enough to snag a founders edition 3080, but I don’t think this is the end of the world. Not all of the cards are out yet, plus the downside of having tech like that day 1 is you are a driver guniea pig!

But enough of the downsides of last week. A great plus was heaps of gaming was had. Let me tell you what I have been up to!

Playing Can’t Stop is the first experience players will have with Board Game Arena. Can’t Stop is a simple push your luck game that enables players to start to come to grips with Board Game Arena.

The idea behind Can’t Stop is simple – roll dice and mark a position on a counter for that tower. You have three temporary markers you can use, and this will let you place three different values per turn.

You can roll the dice as many times as you like on your turn, with one condition. You need to be able to place/progress on of the three temporary markers. If you roll and can’t do this, you lose all progress from that round.

Reach the top of the counter, and you ‘win’ that column. When you win a column, no one can play on that column anymore. Win three columns, and you win the game.

Can't Stop Game in Progress
There isn't much to 'show off' with Can't Stop, but it is a fun filler game.

Well, I love me some Downforce, and we played a quick game on Board Game Arena to see what it was like. I have talked about Downforce a lot, so check out my reviews for gameplay thoughts.

Downforce worked well on Board Game Arena, but we got caught by a couple of quirks. Firstly – player powers are considered a variant? You can enable them (I haven’t worked out how yet), but, surprisingly, a core mechanic is ‘off’ by default.

Downforce Wild Ride Jumping Track Game in Progress
We had a lot of fun messing around with the jumps in Downforce

The other thing that was surprising (in a good way) was the default board was from the newest expansion – Wild Ride. We played the board that includes ramps, letting you jump your cars during the race.

Soon I will sit with someone and play another round, mainly to come to grips with using variants and expansions in Board Game Arena. Downforce is working great in this version, but if you want to play online, one player will need a premium account.

Downforce Wild Ride Animal Track Game in Progress
We didn't get to play this track, but I have played it in an early form. Can't wait to try it!

I haven’t played Hanabi for ages. The cooperative game where you try and put on a fireworks show was an old game night favourite. I was curious to see how it would translate digitally. Short version – I was impressed.

Players draw five cards into their hands, but the twist to Hanabi is you hold your hand the ‘wrong’ way around. This means you can see all the cards except yours.

On your turn, you can discard a card to gain a clue token. You can play a card, firing off a firework. Play a firework that is out of sequence, and you disappoint the crowd. Do this three times, and the show is over.

Hanabi Game in Progress
Playing cards before knowing values is a risky move in Hanabi

The most common action is to give a clue to another player. This is where communication comes into the game. You can provide a clue by touching cards in another players hand that match a colour OR a number.

This is where I see the most ‘cheating’ in Hanabi. There are such plays as touching two cards, saying “These TWO are Green”, then touching another card and saying “And this one is green as well”.

Playing Hanabi on Board Game Arena worked really well though. I usually can’t play more than two games in a row (barring quick knockouts), but if I wasn’t tired I could have played Hanabi all night.

Games day with Alpal and I got my rematch for Boomerang Australia! This week, I had a lot of sleep, I was mostly in good form, and I was ready to play. What I wasn’t prepared for was Alpal and Annabelle practising during the week!

So I came last again. It was still a heap of fun though, and that’s what counts. We also played another version – Boomerang: USA. Similar to Ticket to Ride variants, the core gameplay is the same, but scoring is a bit different.

Boomerang Gameplay
It doesn't look that interesting, but there is a lot going on with these 7 cards

For a bit of filler fun, I think Boomerang: Australia is the better choice. Boomerang: USA is a little more advanced, making the decision making the experience a bit more ‘thinky’. This could have just been coming straight off the back of playing Boomerang: Australia though.

Only one thing for it. I will just need to play some more. There is also Boomerang: Europe to investigate 🙂

Boomerang USA Final Scores
I did not do well score wise, but it was a lot of fun to try the different scoring

Alpal was hoping I had the mental capacity for this puzzle game. The idea is you have a bunch of blocks, and some cards show the shape you need to construct. You work together to create the shape. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, as usual, there are catches.

Firstly, the cards only show one ‘side’ of the shape. You don’t know what perspective you are looking at. And you only get two of those cards as common knowledge. Well, when playing two players.

You then have a card each showing another perspective. But you can’t show the other player your card, so you need to communicate the idea. On top of that, if you want to add to the challenge, there are modifiers. These add rules like ‘You can’t touch blue objects’, ‘Pieces can only be moved with two hands touching it’, things like that.

Mental Blocks Components
How can such soft and cute blocks make my head hurt so much?> Oh wait, maybe the name is a description...

I would only add this with more players, but you can even add a traitor mechanic. One player can be dealt the solution, and their job is to stop that object being created.

Personally, I think Mental Blocks is a great solo puzzle game. I am good at being given a solution and working out how to get there. I am not great at being given only parts of the problem and having to find the answer on top of the missing required information. I do that enough for work – I don’t want to play a game with the same frustrations to relax. And I don’t want others to experience my frustration when this gets to me!

If I had a copy in my collection, I would happily have it sitting on the desk while semi-watching TV or as a distraction. If you would like a challenging puzzle game, then Mental Blocks may be a solid choice for you.

Mental Blocks Gameplay
It looks easy once you see the solution, but there is a lot of out of the box thinking required

Alpal backed this popular Kickstarter, and we were both keen to play it. It was tense, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I was curious to see how some of the other missions would play out.

And then… I thought about it. Similar to Marvel Champions, you have to use cards to collect enough items to clear objectives. The gameplay is simple, but both games share a common failing.

The game ends just as you get into the swing of it. There is a feeling of going through the motions and having an almost arbitrary win or lose condition met.

I will need to play this a couple more times to confirm what my gut is telling me. Right now, today, if you asked me if you should buy Marvel United, I would probably say no.

It’s not a terrible game, component quality is excellent (it is CMON), but I feel like it’s just a pretty cash in right now.

Marvel United Gameplay
Red Skill managed to knock out Cap, but we pulled together and won the day

Splendor – Steam

Sitting down Saturday night, I thought I would make a start on typing up this article. I didn’t feel like hiding in my office, so I bought down my laptop. Fire up my computer, I was met with the ‘4,935 updates required’ message. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but it was a lot of updates.

After all that, I didn’t feel like writing. But I did have a computer open on my lap, so why not play some games? I was pretty tired at this point, but Splendor is luckily a game that you can almost play on autopilot. 

I won’t go into too much more detail here, but if you want to see my thoughts on Splendor you can check out my review here

Splendor Score
So close, and yet so far. Being the first player is hard!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam

Elder Sign is a board game I consistently thing I have reviewed, but haven’t 🙁 The physical version is fun, but you spend easily as much time setting up and checking things as you do playing.

Elder Sign: Omens is the digital implementation of the game, and it does a great job. I will review this game, and I will do my best to get it done in the next couple of weeks.

Elder Sign Campaigns
There are lots of different campaigns available, all with slightly different rules

One way to quickly explain Elder Sign is Yahtzee Legacy. It’s not entirely accurate, but it’s close enough. It took me a bit to get back into the swing of the game, but I had a lot of fun working it out again.

I won my first game in maybe a year? But there was a cost. I lost an investigator. Unlike legacy games, that just counts for this session. It’s been a long time, but I used to like trying to make it through the campaigns in a series. If I lost an investigator, I couldn’t use them again going forward.

Elder Sign is tough to explain quickly. Hence I want to get a full review up. This still might not be enough. So I think this might be among my first streaming session, definitely starting sometime in October. Hopefully, early October 🙂

Elder Sign Gameplay
To complete adventures, you roll die and match the patterns. Yahtzee, but not.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Familia Myth – Infinite Combate – Switch

So I am not going to write too much about this one today, because I have started writing the review. I will write up all my thoughts on this casual RPG, so keep an eye out for that review.

For the moment though, I have finished the game. All 16 chapters have been beaten. It was a slog to get to this stage, though. There isn’t much variety in play, and the story took ages to go through!

Is It Wrong Celebration Scene
The final boss has been defeated - everyone is happy!

Once the credits finished, I was presented with a new dungeon. Excellent, something new! And what does clearing these dungeons give you? Just a new challenge? Extending the story? Nope. It’s a hidden DATING SIM.

I am not amused.

This was always a niche title for people, but right now if you would like to play an anime based light RPG, I would say Pokemon then Fairy Tail. People that were looking forward to Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? would have already bought it.

Is It Wrong Date Points Reveal
Date Points? Look, this is common in Anime, but I was really hoping that the challenging dungeons weren't linked to this

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – September 14th 2020 – Boomerang Minute Hominid Letter Dungeon VII

Boomerang Score Cards

I don’t know how much gaming I will get in this week with PAX Online finally being here!

There is so much going on right now. GPU announcements, console announcements, even announcements for announcements – it’s crazy! But as always I managed to play something 🙂

If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you would have seen I turned a sleepless night into staying up for the opening with Mike Pondsmith. I have been constantly enjoying the content, and I am looking forward to catching up on what I missed during the working day today.

But most of that is stuff I will talk about later. Today, I want to tell you about what I did get to play last week!

My Kickstarter version of 5 Minute Mystery arrived this week, and I was keen to have a play. I was not disappointed.

5 Minute Mystery is probably best described as a cooperative version of Guess Who. One person has control of a Codex, and must ‘enter’ the symbols described by others from a scene card.

If the code matches, you can draw a clue. The clues and the ‘culprit’ have coloured signs, and if the patterns match, you know if the culprit does or doesn’t have that clue.

5 Minute Mystery Components Mid Game
Not a lot of components are involved, but there is surprsing depth here

The 5 minutes is a bit flexible in this version. Different cases have different time limits, and if you run out of time, you can have one guess at the culprit.

It’s hard to summarise, so I will do my best to have a proper review done for when 5 Minute Mystery hits retail channels.

Alpal introduced me to this little gem on the weekend. The premise is simple – go on a four week holiday of Australia, taking part in as many touristy things as possible.

Boomerang is one of those ‘so simple it’s fun’ style games. I probably would have scored a little higher if I hadn’t spent the first two rounds looking for the catch!

The scoring of Boomerang is similar to a lot of Roll and Writes. It boils down to the collection and placement of some variety. The difference is instead of rolling die or drawing cards you have a 7 Wonders style drafting mechanic for your holiday!

Game in progress - Weeks travel
You draft the week's activities passing around cards between the players

The gameplay is quick once you get into it, and the challenge is subtle enough you don’t worry about it until it’s too late. This creates a ‘one more go’ knawing at you as you are sure you can score better next time!

The designer is credited as Scott Almes, of Tiny Epic game. I am hoping to play again with Alpal this weekend, and I will be looking into it more for my own collection.

Love Letter – Steam

I have had this in my Steam library for ages. My love of Love Letter (no pun intended) is shown on the site. I grabbed the digital version because I had the chance to, and intended to do a review at some point.

Well, what I have found is a single-player experience much better than I thought it would be!

Playing against three AI opponents, I expected to either be destroyed or my opponents to be so stupid there wouldn’t be a challenge. What I found was a very balanced experience that made me work for my second place position.

Love Letter Game in Progress
I pulled the Princess as the last card - what a great position to be in this round!

Bottom line Love Letter is the base game experience I have talked about before, so you know what you are getting. I would still prefer to play in person, but there is a surprising amount of flexibility on offer in this release scoring-wise.

If you enjoy Love Letter, grab this version when it is on sale would be my advice. What I would love to see is DLC/different versions available for some of the other versions. Come on Asmodee. You have all the groundwork here!

Resident Evil VII – PC Game Pass

I wrestled a little bit with if I should consider putting Resident Evil VII into Last Week’s Gaming. I have no intention of finishing Resident Evil VII on PC. I only installed it because it was free with Game Pass, and I wanted to see how it looked on PC.

Well, it looks AMAZING. The one thing I truly wish is that the VR mode was made available on PC. Playing Resident Evil VII on PSVR is the best way to play the game hands down. But Resident Evil on PC is without a doubt the prettiest way to play this return to the series classic roots.

Beaing searched for in the Baker House of Resident Evil 7
It's dark and grimy, but everything felt so immersive on PC. Only PSVR gave it a run for it's money.

The screenshots don’t show this as well as they could. All you see at the start of the game is a very run-down house. But it ran so well, and the feeling of ‘ick’ was so prevalent, it pulled me back me. I might do a Resident Evil stream to get the best of both worlds on this one.

Alien Hominid Invasion – PAX Online Steam Demo

Alien Hominid is a series I have appreciated others playing, but never got into myself. A cutesy art style coupled with bullet hell mechanics (think Contra) sounds excellent, but have never been my go-to gaming choice.

Well, in PAX Online this year, the scavenger game has to do with Dr. Exoskeleton. Here in Australia we never got the chance to do these, but this year we can!

What has this got to do with trying a game? Well, one of the checklist items bought the game to my attention:

Dr Exoskeleton Scavenger List
QR Codes and Brain Teasers - I am having fun with this

So I went to steam and downloaded the Demo for Alien Hominid Invasion. So far, I have only played the first stage, and I don’t know if the demo has anything to do with the scavenger hunt at all!

What I can say is that if you enjoy the series or run-and-gun bullet hell type gameplay, you should grab the demo yourself. Even as a casual observer of the genre, this was fun enough that I plan to finish the demo this week. Even if I am wrong about the scavenger hunt clue, it was a fun (if frustrating) little romp!

Alien Hominid Invasion Gameplay
What's happening on this screen? WHO KNOWS! But it was a heap of fun

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon: Familia Myth – Infinite Combate – Switch

I am now (I believe) halfway through the game. I am doing Bell’s sixth chapter, meaning I have one more Ais chapter and four more Bell chapters to go.

I have been enjoying Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls (I am not finishing the title – it’s huge!) because it’s been a pretty mindless grind fest. Do some side quests, complete the story missions, continue.

The Minotaur Boss looks like a deformed puppy in this graphics style
Story wise, I am at a pivotal moment for Bell. Pity the graphics don't match the situation.

What I am hitting is a wall to continue. The text portions are so long! There have been a couple of missions where it took longer to read the background than to complete the dungeon!

I always knew this would be a niche title. I never expected to be saying to people ‘this will change your mind on casual RPGs’. But even as a fan of the anime, the game is wearing out its novelty value.

If you were waiting on my final thoughts, right here and now I would say Fairy Tail is a better casual RPG anime game. You would have to be a real fan of Is It Wrong to want to pick this up, and honestly you probably already have it if that’s the case.

Hestia musing on Bells strange status updates
Story wise, this is very important. But it took about 4-5 minutes to get through all this text!

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – September 7th 2020 – Sweeper Temple Dungeon Final Commando

Menara - Placing piece carefully

A hard week calls for some light gaming

Oh wow, last week was a hard one. Don’t you love those unexpected out of left field weeks? Downside – I didn’t get to play many games. Too tired, couldn’t get my head around things.

Upside – I did get to play some games! Gaming should be about quality, not quantity. And I don’t mean you should only play ‘quality’ games. Sometimes, you just want to kick back and unwind. Kinda like trashy TV shows and movies 🙂

No, I mean you should really enjoy the time you spend gaming. And that, I did indeed manage to accomplish, so I call it a successful gaming week 🙂 True, I really only got to play on the weekend. But I have gone from mentally worn Friday night to feeling pretty good Sunday evening!

So I got to catch up with Alpal and Annabelle this weekend. It was great catching up with them, especially as I couldn’t go over last weekend.

The downside is we could only play one game. The game Alpal chose was Menara, and I am glad she did. We played for a good couple of hours, and it was a great time!

Menora - multi level tower constructed
We had already won this game, but we decided to see how much higher we could build

The players all work together to make a temple. Sounds simple. The catch is you draw cards that tell you what you have to do to help build the temple.

Sometimes it’s simple – play a couple of columns somewhere, for example. Easy. Then you draw a card that gets you to move a column up at least one level. Sometimes, you don’t have columns out. Or sometimes you do, but they are supporting other floors.

If you cannot complete a card, the penalty isn’t too bad. You just have to have an extra level on the temple by the end of the game.

Menara temple in disarray - I pulled the wrong column
It was a magnificent temple. Right up until I pulled the wrong column down.

We made some pretty impressive structures. I even managed to knock one down, losing that game for us.

Menara was just the game I needed to play on Saturday. Light gameplay, lots of good conversation with friends, and a sense of accomplishment at building some impressive structures.

I don’t know when I will be starting formal reviews again. In the meantime, if you are looking for a fun dexterity game give Menara a close look. It’s like the Ticket to Ride of dexterity games.

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

Sitting back on the couch, I decided to fire up the Switch as it had been a couple of weeks. My first thought was to set up the Switch and let it grab any updates.

But then I thought it had been a few weeks since I tried Minesweeper Genius, and it’s very easy on system resources. So I cleared another 20 stages, and I am up to the I level stages now.

Starting a new Minesweeper Genius Level
I seem to have made it far enough into the game that these levels are giving me a break

Minesweeper is one of those frustratingly simple logic problems. The basic rules are straightforward, but when your attention wanders, you make a lot of mistakes.

I still recommend Minesweeper Genius as a fun diversion if you enjoy logic games. Slowly but surely, I am going to clear all of the levels in this game 🙂

Is It Wrong To Try And Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon: Familia Myth – Inifinte Comabte – Switch

I have watched all sorts of anime over the years, and Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon: Familia Myth took me by surprise. It follows the story of Bell Cranele and his Goddess Hestia. Together they form a small familia and struggle to get ahead.

Of course, events unfold that thrust Bell into all sorts of adventures that have implications for everyone. The story itself isn’t original, but there are enough exciting takes on so many standard formulas that it makes for a fun light viewing experience.

Menu showing all of your travel options outside of dungeons
No need to run around town - everywhere you need to go is menu driven

So a couple of weeks ago when I was looking through the eShop, I was intrigued when I saw that they had made a game based on the manga/anime. I was intrigued, and on impulse, I bought a copy.

Finally sitting down with it for a couple of hours, I am glad I did. I don’t know how many others will get the same enjoyment I am. The first couple of chapters follow the anime fairly closely and use this as a story setting and tutorial section.

Example of combat. Characters are in a chibi style.
The dungeons all look the same, and the art style is perhaps overly cute, but it works well

This means unlike Fairy Tail, where you have to just go with it, you get to see all of the story unfolding from the beginning. Unlike the anime, you also get some more backstory from different characters perspectives. As a fan, I appreciate the extra info. As a player, seeing the same scene played multiple times did start to get a little samey.

There is also the way that the story is told in the game. Anything story or choice related is done with static backgrounds, character portraits and lots of text. And you will be reading a lot – there is no English voice acting in this game.

Conversation example
Get used to this view. Most of the game looks like this.

The actual combat is done in a light action RPG style. You have a button for magic, light attack, heavy attack and dodge. That’s it. Enemies have had a pattern to learn, and if you are quick, you can break some combos.

So it’s no Witcher/Breath of the Wild, but it’s a bit more hands-on than say Pokemon. Dungeons so far are very short, but they do get bigger and more challenging the deeper in you travel.

I stopped playing when I came to what I would call the first boss battle. The enemy is unlike anything I have faced so far, and the jump in difficulty took me by surprise.

The first proper 'boss' foe
The cute graphics style doesn't make this boss look mean, but it hits like a building

The game is very upfront about the length – there are 10 chapters as Bell, and 6 as Ais. This gives you a bit of variety, as Ais is already an accomplished character in the game. But after about two hours and taking it very easy, I am five chapters in.

I don’t see Is It Wrong To Try And Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon taking a considerable amount of time to finish. I think delays in completing it will be more my time constraints than demands from the game.

One thing is for sure – I have yet to see anything that makes me not want to finish the game.

Final Fight – Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle – Switch

After playing Streets of Rage and Battletoads last week, I forgot how much I enjoyed these old school games. So what better way to unwind than giving them a go?

Final Fight is probably my favourite old school beat ’em up. It’s a cliche story, the characters are mainly meh, and it’s designed to suck money with cheap attacks from enemies.

Opening of Final Fight - Barrels won't slow you down
It's almost a straight rip of from Double Dragon, but arcade goers my age all know this screen well

Even with all that, I have been playing Final Fight in various forms for almost 30 years. That has to tell you something about how much I enjoy this game.

Walk to the right, beat up the next group, smash the environment for points and health. Rinse and repeat. And yet, the controls are great, the graphics huge and clear (for the time), and you know if you practice you can get further than before.

Final Fight Subway Fight
Travel to all different parts of Metro City. Meet new interesting people. Beat them up.

Guy, the orange-clad ninja, is my typical character. The weakest in terms of dealing damage, but the fastest protagonist by far. This time I played as Cody, the balanced character and these days known for being in Street Fighter.

I couldn’t entirely clear the second level before dying. When I played this a lot, I usually wouldn’t need to continue until the fourth stage. Ah well, that is what time away does to you 🙂

I think I will go back to playing a couple of times a week. My main aim is to get back to the days of being able to beat the game on a single credit. It’s not a new gaming challenge, just something I can do to unwind a bit.

Speaking of just kicking back and unwinding…

Captain Commando – Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle – Switch

Where Final Fight has stood the test of time, I have only fleeting memories of Captain Commando. Think of it as a ridiculous retheme of Final Fight, and you have the main idea.

Why do I call it ridiculous? Well, you play Captain Commando or one of his team. You have Ginzu the Ninja, Mack the Knife (a mummified blade wielder), and Baby Commando. Yes – Baby Commando. You play a baby in a mech suit. As I said, ridiculous :p

Fighting Mechs in a Circus Ring
Fighting bad guys with mechs in a Circus Ring actually makes sense in Captain Commando

Combat isn’t quite as tight as Final Fight, and the enemies are much cheaper in their attacks. This was a game designed to get you to put in as many coins as possible. It’s set in the future Metro City (the setting for Final Fight) and you must defeat the Super Criminals lead by Scumocide.

Yeah, don’t play this for excellent writing 🙂

If I was offered the chance to buy Captain Commando on its own, I would pass without a second thought. But seeing as I purchased the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up bundle for Final Fight, jumping in for a round seemed a great idea.

Why wouldn't a future commando flying kick a samurai?
Future setting - check. Lots of tech and weapons - check. You know what's missing? Samurai!

I think I used about 23-25 credits to beat the game. And beat it I did – straight through from start to finish. This doesn’t count to me as finishing a game, because this style of play is the first form of pay to win I can think of.

Even if you can’t play this kind of game well, you can literally beat it by dying and continuing. When you land back in, you damage all enemies on the screen a bit. As as you don’t actually pay for credits on a console, anyone can beat Captain Commando.

Chasing a mad scientist on a motorised surfboard
Mad scientists can't fight hand to hand! Solution - make it a water chase

There are better games to play out there sure. And unless you were a fan of the genre, I wouldn’t say to pick up the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle. But if you do have some interest and can grab it cheap, there are worse games to sit down for an hour with.

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – August 31, 2020 – Board game arena is great

Battletoads - Quick Time Event game fixing the computer by hitting it

Where did all my time go? Apparently into playing a heap of different games this week!

This week, we had a significant release at work. We are frantically trying to get a couple of other features implemented as quickly as possible, and trying to fix a bunch of stuff for other people.

Even Harry has had a lousy time this week. Poor little fella broke his dew claw, but after a trip to the vet, he is a very happy chappy again.

Harry happy after his dew claw was fixed by the Vet
He wasn't running everywhere straight away, but look how happy he is now his claw is fixed

But even with all that, I got a couple of nights of mindless video games. And I got to catch up with some friends from Melbourne I thought I wouldn’t see this year with no PAX Aus and all! Online catchup, obviously, but it was great to catch up and spend an evening playing a few games.

How did we do it this time? That’s easy. We used…

Ok, so this is more thoughts on a service rather than a game. Board Game Arena lets you play lots of different board games for free (with ads) or for a small monthly fee.

I am not going to go too far into how it works, but it does work. And reasonably well. Once you are in the game, there are quirks you need to learn, but on the whole, it works well.

While the ability to make game matches seems to be overly complicated, the gameplay itself is much easier to learn on the fly. As I was playing with only friends on voice chat, a couple of small questions we had were quickly answered. Those that couldn’t be answered from experience almost always ended up working as you would have thought.

I might see if I can talk Alpal into playing a few games this way with me during the week. I couldn’t catch up with her because of work and other commitments this weekend, but this might be a mid-week alternative.

Sushi Go – Board Game Arena

When someone suggested we play Sushi Go, I mentally froze. I remember enjoying Sushi Go, and Sushi Go Party, but I forgot everything about actually playing them.

Yay for genre standards! At its heart, Sushi Go is just a fun set collection game. I made a couple of silly mistakes early on, but I was never at a severe disadvantage.

Bottom line, a couple of rounds of Sushi Go was a great choice. We got to chat without being distracted by complicated gameplay, and have a fun silly and quick fun time.

Playing a round of Sushi Go
Get a choice of cards at the top, and pick one for your table. Easy to pay, hard to score well!

Saboteur – Board Game Arena

Saboteur is a game I have owned for a long time. I even have the second game and keep them combined in a large box. I have taught many games, overseen many games, but I have only played it myself once or twice. On top of that, it’s been a good 4-5 years since I even thought about Saboteur.

Well, until now.

The idea is pretty simple. All of the players are dwarven miners, and you are tunnelling trying to find gold. On your turn, you play a tunnel card, and you complete a clear path to one of three locations trying to find gold.

Saboteur game in progress
All you have to do is reach the end cards and find gold. That's it. No one would betray you...

Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? Well, there are Saboteur’s in your party, and they will try and stop you from collecting the gold. They can tunnel the wrong way, break equipment, lie about peeking at goals, anything to make the party run out of cards.

Once this happens, the Saboteur’s win. After three rounds of this, players with the highest score win. I was the Saboteur twice, and I helped the party more than I hindered them. Oops :p

Saboteur final scores
Names have been removed to protect the cheaters... I mean innocent better players :p

Tokaido – Board Game Arena

I have spoken about Tokaido a few times, and last week I was actually playing with the people that coined the name of ‘The Hangover Game’. If you want to more about the game itself, check out my review.

Playing Tokaido is always a relaxing time for me, and this was no exception. I will say I much prefer the presentation of the stand-alone app, which also gives me the ability to play solo. But if I am playing multiplayer, I will play with friends on Board Game Arena anytime.

The graphics are more basic and the help text not quite as refined on Board Game Arena. The ability to play without everyone buying a copy of the app more than makes up for these superficial shortcomings.

Tokaido mid-game
It is nice to see all of the player cards al laid out compared to the dedicated app

Colt Express – Board Game Arena

I have missed playing Colt Express. You need to play this in large groups, and even without the current isolation, that can be hard to achieve.

Colt Express has players as bandits robbing a train. Actions happen with cards, but instead acting on your turn, you program your moves to act them out later.

This delayed programming can make things so challenging and fun. While you think you can move, shoot and then pick up loot is a simple sequence, it can be much more challenging. 

Colt Express moving meeples around the cardboard train
Which way should I go...

For example, you move, and another player punches. They may have thought they were hitting another player, but you are now a potential target. You get punched, and you get moved to somewhere else and drop some loot. Ouch!

It’s not all bad. You might have thought to shoot another player, but now you are in the wrong spot. But now you can shoot the player that punched you first, just saying.

While there is a digital app for Colt Express, I really don’t like it. Colt Express is an example of a Digital Board Game that changes the rules way too much in the digital implementation.

Colt Express - Staying out of harms way
I will let the rest of them fight it out. I have a lot of money bags - should be good for second place 🙂

Onirim – Android

Jumping back into another game I haven’t picked up in a while, I decided to give Onirim a whirl during a bit of downtime.

I am not going to talk about Onirim too much here. It’s a great game, and the digital implementation makes quick solo play a breeze.

If you would like to know more about my thoughts on Onirim, check out my review. Short version – there are good reasons why Onirim regularly cycles back in my list of played games.

Onirim - I almost beat my previous best 'score mode' score.
I don't play scored mode often, I was surprised I had a score this good.

Smash Up – Steam

Smash Up is a game that reminds me of Munchkin. The premise of this ‘simple’ deck builder sounds fine. Pick two teams with their own deck of cards, shuffle them together, and go for it.

The execution is a lot more involved. Some rules completely contradict each other, and timing takes a long time to get the hang of. Actually learning to play Smash Up takes a lot of time. This alone makes the game not for everyone.

Smash Up - Board Layout and inspecting a card close up
The layout of the game makes for a clean simple affair

I have had Smash Up on Steam for ages, and with an extended bit of downtime decided to finally give it a go. It’s been at least 5 years since I had a round of Smash Up, and I thought it would be a simple case of readjusting.

I was wrong. To be fair, Smash Up is a complex game that is a rules lawyer’s dream. Or their worst nightmare. The digital implementation seems to do a pretty good job of letting me play, but getting what I want to do to happen isn’t intuitive.

Smash Up - I am losing badly to AI opponents
Somehow this is about the third turn in? Smash Up changes quickly

I might try it again next week in a focused play session, but I think I just found out why I haven’t played it for so long.

Fall Guys – PS4

What a sensation Fall Guys has turned out to be! Last Monday while you guys were seeing what I was playing the previous week, I chilled for a little while with this insane competition game.

I jumped back in for a little bit with spookedshibe again, but neither of us did well. It was still a heap of fun playing, and that is always what counts.

The medieval theme for season 2 looks interesting, and that is only a few weeks away. Fall Guys just doesn’t seem to be slowing down!

Fall Guys - People racing. I am close enough to see the goal, and everyone in front of me I can't catch.
Close enough to see the goal, far enough to know that only a miracle can help me.

Battletoads – Xbox One (Game Pass)

The poster child for hard beat ’em ups in the early 90s, Battletoads was a game I know a lot about but never actually played. Turning on the Xbox to watch some movies, I saw the notification pop up that the remake was available on Game Pass. So as I had access, I thought why not give it a go?

Battletoads - Quick Time Event game fixing the computer by hitting it
Fixing a computer with a raised fist. We have all been there but...

Right now, my thought is honestly “Why did I give this a go”. It’s not terrible, but the remake shows that the Battletoads are a product of their time.

Combat wise, battles are satisfying, and the different characters have very different playstyles. Enemies have different attack styles, and learning the patterns and various combat techniques are satisfying.

Level design is… Unique. There are plenty of genres mixed in to break up the straight beat ’em up style play. These have you do quick-time events, platforming, and the (in)famous hoverbikes are present.

Battletoads - Racing through tunnels avoiding obstacles
The hoverbikes are just as infuriating, but this time at least come with checkpoints

There was also a weird glitch during an early boss battle where the boss just got ‘stuck’ in the top left corner. I couldn’t touch him, and if I went close to him, I just got hit. The checkpoint system made this easy to work around – quick restart from the checkpoint, and I was back. But a bug like this less than 10 minutes in? Not a great start.

Then there are the cutscenes. You are thrown right into the fray with an over the top introduction that brings you up to speed pretty well. But the forced jokes and over the top nature has me dreading the next break rather than looking forward to it.

Battletoads - Boss just stuck in a corner of the screen
I beat up minions for about 10 minutes before I decided the bugs I was eating wasn't the only one

I don’t think I will be going back to Battletoads. I might, but not quickly. Instead, I was reminded that I have Streets of Rage 4 on the Xbox as well. I think I will be going back to that well before Battletoads. Even Penny Arcade had a comment on the quality of the writing.

Speaking of Streets of Rage 4…

Streets of Rage 4 – Xbox (Game Pass)

I thought I would play a ‘good’ beat ’em up after Battletoads, and my memories of Streets of Rage 4 were fond ones. Unfortunately, enjoying the gameplay is all that I remembered. It wasn’t long before I was looking at the help files for how to perform different moves.

I played my way through most of the fifth stage, only to get owned by the boss. Twice. I gave up not in frustration, but in recognition that I was too tired to be playing.

Streets of Rage 4 - Stage 5 boss beating me soundly
I worked out the Stage 5 boss won't summon help if you don't break any bikes. Unfortunately, he breaks bikes all the time.

So, save slot two has been started. When in doubt, start again – especially in a game like this. It’s not like I had been playing for weeks and had to throw it away. Beat ’em ups are distractions more than anything else after all.

I did consider jumping into arcade mode after clearing the first few levels. Unfortunately, I discovered I need to finish the story mode before anything else unlocks. While not the end of the world, it did diminish my will to make Streets of Rage 4 my next ‘finished’ game. We will see how that one goes.

Streets of Rage 4 - Retro style stage unlocked with CRT filter effect
I did manage to unlock a retro inspired level. That was a lot of fun!

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,


Last Week’s Gaming August 24th, 2020 Escape The Clank Rage Fall

Thumbs up while moving beams try and knock player off platform

Why did I only take one week off? I still got some great gaming in last week though.

I have found when you come back from holidays you can see a pattern. Day one, you spend half the day filtering through emails, then answering emails and meeting requests for the rest of the day.

Day two, you start to get stuck into work fresh. Day three, the ‘Now you are back’ jobs start stacking up.

So while the number of games I played dropped this week, I had a great time playing the games I did get to play. But what did I play? Well, let’s not wait here to find out!

Another game in, another loss. After playing a couple of times now, I am 98% confident that I am playing ‘correctly’ now. My biggest issue is at the moment, the FAQ on the Themeborne site still doesn’t exist.

But, Escape the Dark Sector is fun. Alpal and I had a great time trudging through an adventure, and playing with someone definitely makes a difference.

Escape the Dark Sector gameplay - setup during act one
It's early on in the game, so why not fight and get some items?

Shuffling some cards, picking some dice, and getting straight into a game is great. And the new system means the chances of pulling the same cards over and over in the base game are next to none.

Even playing ‘properly’ though, it’s still a really hard game. We did at least make it to the boss. I even managed to convince Alpal that sneaking around an enemy was better than rolling dice! It was a one-off, but the chances of bad things happening in Escape the Dark games when rolling dice are really high.

Showing our health during gameplay
It was my character that got very smashed. In other news, I will be talking about how to make these reusable in the future.

I got Clank in Space (no, I won’t always use the !) when it first came out in 2017. I never played the original, mainly because of some cheap tactics that didn’t make the game sound fun. Think Deep Sea Adventures type flaws.

Clank in Space fixes a lot of these problems, but I only just played my first game this week with Alpal. And I will be playing it more soon. I had a lot of fun playing, but there was one catch. After one round of Escape the Dark Sector, Clank in Space starting to drag for me at the end of the game. I need to play more to come up with some firmer opinions on the game.

You will probably be hearing about Clank in Space sooner than you think… Keep an eye on the site for more news!

Racing to the artifaccts in Clank! In! Space!
It was a race of techniques. I could move, but not buy much in the way of help. Alpal could buy anything, but would move slowly.

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

So Blood Rage Digital has gotten some new updates. Still no ultrawide screen support, but there have been some other changes.

One that has actually annoyed me a bit is there is now essentially a ‘Are you sure?’ option when playing a card in battle or pillaging. This can be turned off, but it threw the flow of the game for me until I worked this out.

The more exciting tweak to me is the AI difficulty seems to have been worked on. I didn’t see it in the update notes, but I have gone from virtually walking over ‘normal’ AI to having to work for every point.

Scoring for first game of Blood Rage in a while. It's been a long time since I came fourth.
It's been a long time since I came fourth. You could almost guarantee 2nd place with 75+ points before the new udpate.

I am still enjoying the occasional bought of Blood Rage, and I hope that Asmodee Digital continues bringing good adaptions of such games. Developers Exozet is definitely doing their best, and if we look at Blood Rage Digital as a prototype that is being refined, I think there will be many great conversions to come.

Fall Guys – PS4

To say Fall Guys has had a massive amount of coverage lately would be an understatement. As Devolver Digital and Sony have included Fall Guys in PlayStation Plus this month, I thought I would have a look.

What I found surprised me. The premise is simple – you play through five rounds per ‘episode’ and try to be the last contestant in the game. It’s Takeshi’s Castle without those annoying real-world physics.

Race has begun where I am in the middle of a group of other contestants
Fall Guys is like going shopping these days. The activities are fine, if it wasn't for all the other people!

I am finding 3-4 episodes my limit in a play session, but even if you make it through all five rounds, the longest episode didn’t even last 10 minutes. The quick gameplay makes Fall Guys a great distraction or ‘filler’ game. Especially for free!

Saturday night I even got to team with spookedshibe and have a great chat while playing. Both of us would just chat away as we haven’t caught up for a while, and if one of us got eliminated, we would still have fun watching along.

A player trolling others for no real reason
Why is this person holding me back? Who knows! Some players will just play to stop others from finishing. Don't be them.

If you have PlayStation Plus, grab Fall Guys today and give it a play. It looks like there will be 60ish day seasons, so new events should be coming over and over again.

Word of warning though – if you want the Platinum trophy, there will be a lot of luck involved. Get Fall Guys for some fun with friends, not as an easy trophy haul.

Beat Saber – Oculus Quest

So for the last few months, walking 1000 steps in a day was a ‘big’ workout. I am not alone with this being the case. I have a few physical issues which have been plaguing me, and my lack of movement is making them worse.

So, with the house finally pretty much finalised, Beat Saber has come back into my daily routine. Well, that’s the plan. I have only started on Saturday, but I hope to keep at it!

Beat Saber is as good now as the day I first played it. Check out my review if you haven’t heard me gush about this VR game before, and/or this Spotify link if you want to hear the music.

Cutting blocks in Beat Saber
The Quest lets you record your gameplay, but the quality isn't as good as what you see in the headset

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – 17th August, 2020 – Back in Form!

Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters

A week of no real responsibilities has been great.

So in stark contrast to last week, by the time you read this, I have started working again. That first day back after a week of not checking emails or taking phone calls. I will be getting back into the swing, or wholly wrecked on my first day back. Possibly both, as weird as that sounds.

But what has been great this week is recharging all of the batteries. I could use another such week, and at the end of November, that is precisely what I have planned. The fact this break coincides with Cyberpunk 2077 is purely a coincidence. Pure chance. Not planned at all.

This time has also allowed me to think of a few things regarding the site and other projects. There are a few things I want to start doing, and I just need to work out times and effort involved. But all that is for another article. Today, let me talk about all the fun gaming I have gotten in this week!

I enjoy Escape the Dark Castle. A lot. You can see all my thoughts on the game in my review. Alpal and I also recorded a gameplay session. Because I recently ended my Soundcloud subscription, this isn’t available at the moment. Sorry about that. I am working on restoring these soon now I know that’s been a problem.

Why am I going on about Escape the Dark Castle? Because Escape the Dark Sector is the SciFi follow up in the series! The basic premise is the same – you wake up escaping a prison cell and need to escape. There have been a lot of new additions, such as ranged combat and ‘Acts’ or sections to work through.

Escape The Dark Sector - First Game
Ahh yes. Less than halfway through, and my characters are badly beaten and broken

Escape the Dark Sector is a bit more to manage than its fantasy-themed version, and honestly, I think I may have played it wrong. I either made it much harder or slightly easier on myself. The FAQ on Themeborne’s site isn’t available yet, but a few more games and I should have a good enough feel for the game.

I will be talking more about Escape the Dark Sector sooner than you might be thinking, so if you are interested in it, stay tuned.

Another franchise I just love, I have spoken about Pandemic multiple times. The base Pandemic was indeed my first 10/10 review. Pandemic: Hot Zone takes that base game I love, and condenses it into a quicker play experience.

It’s important to note that quicker does not include making the game easier. Yes, you only need to cure three diseases instead of four. You only have to travel around a single continent rather than the world. There are also ‘only’ 3 Epidemic cards to deal with.

Pandemic Hot Zone North America - Mini Pandemic
Hot Zone is condensed Pandemic - definitely not simplified Pandemic!

Here’s the thing. In the base game, by the second Epidemic, I have a feel for the real problem spots. This information helps to form my strategy for the rest of the game. In Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America, the second Epidemic card means you have almost finished the game!

Suppose you don’t already have Pandemic or want a satisfying introduction. In that case, Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America is an excellent addition to your shelf. If like me you already have all of the games, I would only nab Hot Zone for the quicker gameplay or collection completion.

Do you remember those little sliding puzzles you played with as a kid? Or last Christmas, if you got those bigger cracker sets? A relaxing diversion, with a *cough* small frustration factor when that one tile won’t go where you want it to. Finish the picture/pattern/whatever, and then you put it away and never think of it again.

Designer Joan Dufour obviously thought that what sliding puzzles needed was a champion. So she has created Flash 8, a competitive sliding puzzle experience. Players create their puzzle board, and then you try and complete patterns on cards placed in the table. Easier patterns are worth one point, harder ones two. Once all of the cards are completed, the player with the highest score wins.

Flash 8 - Competitive Slide Puzzles
I enjoy Slide Puzzles as a one off diversion. Flash 8 makes them competitive, and it works!

There is even a solo mode, where you use the reverse side of the cards to generate patterns, and you try and create a row or column. When you do complete one, you need to pick a geometric shape and replace those cards.

It sounds kinda meh, but the challenge and timed nature of Flash 8 makes it surprisingly challenging. Not just in a competitive way, but in an “I can do better” way as well, pushing you to play again to do better yourself.

Alpal and I have played Ticket to Ride: New York before, and I have loved it every time. It was the first ‘condensed’ board game version that really clicked with me. Previously, a lot of streamlined or miniaturised version became easier or more complex depending on the game. But Ticket to Ride: New York turned it into a 15-minute full game experience. This is the standard I was comparing Pandemic: Hot Zone to, and luckily it matched up.

Ticket to Ride: London is the next game in the series, and has kept everything that makes the series special. Gone again is the longest route bonus, replaced with connecting groups of stops on top of connecting your routes.

Ticket to Ride London - Mini Ticket to Ride
Just like Ticket to Ride: New York, London takes a familiar game and condenses it. There is that word again...

If you want a ‘travel’ copy of Ticket to Ride, I can highly recommend either New York or London. The boxes are small, and the experience is just as good as the ‘full’ game. Plus, games are lightning quick!

Alpal and I played her copy of Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister! (English: Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters) ages ago, and it was bought out for another go this week.

The theme is simple – you are a gang of kids that runs into a haunted house to reclaim treasures. Ghosts appear each turn (kind of like Pandemic infections), and if too many ghosts are in one area, you get a ‘super’ Haunt to deal with.

Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters
Paranormal Indiana Jones? Capitalistic Scooby Gang? Forget trying to work out the theme. It's just fun.

Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is primarily a kids game, but the puzzle aspects of managing ghosts and cooperating for treasure makes it a challenge for all ages. 

It might be a more significant challenge to find a copy of Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters though, so if you are interested maybe search for Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier. It’s the same game, just with the group of kids replaced by the Ghostbusters.

Just some light painting

I have really wanted to get back to painting minis and other game components for a long time now. It’s been so long, I have had to ditch all of my Citadel paints – they are beyond redemption.

Luckily, Alpal also wants to learn some new painting techniques, so we started simple – ‘Golding up’ the coins from Valley of the Vikings. OK, so it’s a simple base coat and single colour paint, but you have to start again somewhere.

Mini Painting - Getting Back In The Swing Of It
Left first coat done, Right base pretty much complete. Now just to decide what more is to be done to them.

If you want to see what the coins looked like initially, you can see them in this Last Week’s Gaming.

Fairy Tail – PS4

While the focus of the previous Last Week’s Gaming,  I earned the Platinum in the first half of my holidays. I could technically spend another 8ish hours ‘completing’ the game. I would need to raise all character bonds up to max level, as well as maxing out the stats of every character to 999. I don’t think I will, though.

I have really enjoyed my time with Fairy Tail, but even now I have no interest in any of the DLC. If you enjoy light RPGs (think Pokemon) and enjoy anime in general, Fairy Tail is worth a play. Just maybe on sale though.

Fairy Tail - 100 Year Quest Boss 1
A normal enemy is slightly to the right next to the glowing item.The next quest boss you can only see their feet!

Destroy All Humans! Remake – PS4

I almost left this out. When I am writing this, I have only played the first mission. But it was a game, and one I have been looking forward to, so here we are.

Destroy All Humans! is a remake of the PlayStation 2 classic. It has had a graphical overhaul (which is obvious) and a rework of a few of the gated progression mechanics of the original.

Destroy All Humans - Hello Farmer
Remember even as pretty as it looks, this is a PS2 game. So lots of things to explore, but it's no Grand Theft Alien.

What does this mean? Well, in the original you would have to grind some levels to collect X amount of DNA to proceed. Now, you only need to complete the main objective, and you can choose to grind for more upgrades.

Destroy All Humans! is not a AAA big-budget title, and that is where it’s charm lies. It’s just an excuse to have fun, from a now-gone studio that just wanted to make fun games. I will be talking more about Destroy All Humans! in the coming weeks, as I have it on my finish list now.

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – Fairy Tail Edition – August 10th, 2020

Fairy Tail - Loading Screen

So I only played one game this week. But I played it so much!

When you are reading this, I am enjoying being formally on holidays. That’s right – I don’t have any work issues to deal with this week. I am going to be switching between resting up, playing games, finalising some house stuff I have been putting off, and playing games.

Wait, I said playing games twice. Well, it is what I am looking forward to possibly the most!

I have spent today at Alpal’s doing some painting, playing some board games and helping her with some tech stuff. But that’s a story for next week – this is all about last weeks gaming!

Fairy Tail – PS4

Technically, I believe I finished Fairy Tail this week. Sunday, I saw a ‘recording disabled because of blocked scene’ pop up, and the credits rolled. Why the credits were blocked is a bit beyond me, but there you go.

Why isn’t in my goals as finished? Because I have one more episode to play as a part of the game. So I don’t think I am really ‘finished’ the game yet?

But this is getting ahead of myself. Because I only played the one game, this is going to be closer to a review than my normal ‘What I thought about it” type Last Week’s Gaming, and I have put in about 20 hours in Fairy Tail this week so I have a fair bit to talk about.

Fairy Tail - Credits
Technically, this is a snippet from a spoilery part of the story. Without context though, it's no different from any other fight from the anime/manga

As I mentioned last week, Fairy Tail is a great light RPG that has managed to nail the ‘just 5 more minutes’ formula. The story of the game has gone way past where I stopped watching the anime, and I am comfortable enough with the story and characters to just keep playing.

Talking to Rabbit, it clicked in my head that the best comparison I can give about how Fairy Tail plays is Pokemon. A lot of RPG players complain that Pokemon isn’t a ‘real’ RPG, but I would argue it’s a light RPG.

That’s enough for casual gamers or people that know what they are expecting. And Fairy Tail nails it.

Fairy Tail - Character Selection
Building your team of favourites isn't that different from building your favourite Pokemon team

I have given up playing Fairy Tail on Switch not because it’s not any good to play on, but because I want to see more of the game so I stuck to PS4. I will do a dedicated Fairy Tail day on Switch before a formal review, but today I would definitely recommend any version over the Switch unless you are looking at playing on the go.

The playstyle of Fairy Tail really lends itself to the Switch, and it’s a great fit. The 20ish frames per second speed when you are in the open world though makes me feel a bit queasy. Apart from longer load times, this is the only real issue I have with Fairy Tail on Switch.

Fairy Tail - Loading Mini Game
Hitting away the 'Now Loading' letters with a fish is a bit of fun, and you will see this on Switch for quite extended periods.

The combat is more involved than Pokemon, but not by that much. Enemies appear on a 3×3 grid, and your attacks have different patterns that can fit in this grid. They also have different elements attached just like Pokemon, and different areas have monsters with different weaknesses to exploit.

Travel works well. No area is so huge that it takes ages to traverse, and within cities, Fast Travel is pretty much instant. This makes travel easy and simplifies a lot of the ‘run here, then here, then here’ repetitiveness.

Fairy Tail - Combat
You can see where your attack will land, who is weak/resistant, and who each enemy is targeting very easily

It’s not all gravy though. Some long battle animations (think 30 seconds plus) can be skipped, but most can’t. This can break the flow of the game.

Until last Friday, the only other thing I had a bit of a laugh at was the level of Fan Service in the game. Fairy Tail already has a large amount of Fan Service, but I will say it is nowhere bad as it could be. That doesn’t forgive its presence, but it is a factor.

I am using alternate costumes unlockable by upgrading character levels in-game, but you also unlock swimsuits and the like that it’s up to you to equip. The day one patch did shadow the upskirt shots, so the overtly forced service is mainly weird body proportions and low cut tops.

Fairy Tail - Long Spell Intros
Watching Lucy summon Gemini was awesome the first time. OK the second. Now, I can't skip the 30ish second intro, so time for a drink

My biggest issue with Fairy Tail has come out in the first round DLC. One swimsuit collection bundled for a ‘saving’ at AUD$60, one set alternate costumes for another AUD$60, and a Season Pass for AUD$90 giving you access to a few more characters at a later date and some unique request missions.

If you weren’t already a fan, I would have said grab Fairy Tail on sale. Just over a week after release, they are asking you to spend another $210? Yes, the costumes are optional – I am not arguing that. But the cost of the Season Pass doesn’t seem to be justified from the content.

Fairy Tail - Season Pass
It costs as much as the base game for 4 new characters, some individual quests and a new dungeon. Not what I would call enticing value.

I like the idea of playing with some of my Fairy Tail favourites not in the core game, and the publisher seems to be taking advantage of this. I am not against paying AUD$5 for an extra character, but the message here is “We know there are fans of these teams. We are going to charge you through the nose for them”.

So if you are looking at taking the plunge into Fairy Tail, I would say look at buying the base game and playing the base experience.

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,


Last Week’s Gaming – August 3rd, 2020

Fairy Tail - Loading Screen

Looking forward to some holidays! My gaming backlog list is huge!

I am taking next week off work. I am really looking forward to it. There have been some initial experiments in updating the site, but not enough that I have decided what I am going to be doing in that regard.

And very little (if any) is going to be done next week. House pottering and general relaxing is my only real plan. This will undoubtedly include getting to some games I have been trying to get to for ages. Looking at you, 7th Continent!

But that’s all that is coming up. This is Last Week’s Gaming after all. So what have I been getting up to?

I did a review on Tsuro over a year ago, but I haven’t gotten the original game to the table in a very long time.

That got changed last weekend. My brain was fried, and the simple gameplay of Tsuro let me enjoy an old favourite. With only three players, the initial game was simply enjoying flying around making patterns.

It was when we got about half of the board through, the strategy portion clicked for Annabelle. It was her first game, and the theme of ‘just fly around and enjoy yourself’ wasn’t quite clicking. Then, she saw Alpal fly off the board, and it clicked.

For a more ‘gamer’ game, Tsuro of the Seas is still my first recommendation. That said, I haven’t played the newest version – it’s sitting on my shelf of shame.

That needs to be fixed at some point soon.

Tsuro - Out of Mothballs
It's been so long since I played the original. I have never recorded a game before last week!

Keeping in the low energy theme of our gaming day, Alpal bought out Wavelength for the three of us to play.

So we didn’t play it for points or anything, we just took turns giving clues and letting the other two players see how well they went.

Wavelength is a very simple concept. The clue giver chooses a card that shows and spins a wheel behind a cover to randomly pick a position on a scale. You then give a clue, and the other players try to pick where on the scale it sits.

Wavelength - Protein Shake
Our first spot on guess for the day. Annabelle and I have the same take on Protein Shakes!

For example, Annabelle picked a scale of Sustenance and Haute Cuisine. The clue was “Protein Shakes”. And yes, I am very proud of getting the first ‘bang on’ answer with Alpal on this one.

Teams normally get points based on how close they are, and from memory (it’s been a while) first team to 12 wins? Don’t quote me on that.

One of the best parts of this style of games is you can play it as you want. We just kept playing until we were done, and it was a great way to end the afternoon.

Fairy Tail – PS4 / Switch

That’s not a typo – I have Fairy Tail on both PS4 and Switch! Why? A turn-based RPG is a perfect complement to the Switch, but performance can also be a thing. Plus, I had planned on a comparison at some point.

I have mainly played on PS4, playing about 20-25 minutes on the Switch so far. During combat, everything runs great on Switch. Walking around in the world, there is noticeable choppiness when moving the camera around.

But, that’s the technical side. What’s it play like?

Fairy Tail - Over the top combat
Turn based combat with some Quick Time Events. But it's just as ridiculously over the top as the source material.

I am still very much in early game mode. Lots of fetch quests, and building up my team. The reason for starting from scratch has been introduced in such a way you don’t need to be a fan of the anime/manga to know what’s going on.

You are part of a guild of magic users that has been trapped in a stasis-like state for 7 years. In that time, your guild has fallen on hard times, and you need to rebuild the guild to its former glory.

That’s it. If you don’t know about Natsu, Gray, Erza and Lucy that’s fine. The game introduces characters at a reasonable pace, and character quests give insights into your team mates.

Fairy Tail - The Map Opens Up
I am very early in the game. There are plenty of areas of Fiore to explore still!

If you want frantic action-based combat or vast exploration possibilities, Fairy Tail won’t be a game for you based on what I have played. I have unlocked a couple of areas on the map, but each area is quite small with the same items/monsters spawning.

This could change later in the game, but I can see some people being bored with the slow start and repetitive nature in the first couple of hours of gameplay.

I will pick up Fairy Tail pretty regularly, as it is built for pick up and put down type play. If you are a fan of the series, I am very much enjoying what I have played so far.

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,


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,


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,