Last Week’s Gaming – June 29th, 2020

Animal Crossing 20200629

Time to turn my eyes away from huge workloads, and back onto my backlog

The last few weeks have been hard. When I haven’t been working, I have been hiding from the world in general. It hasn’t been the greatest of times.

But, that’s the job. It’s no different from retail work on the holidays, or hospitality staff on a Friday night. It’s a hard run, but it’s the job and it’s done.

So while I am looking at getting back into games I have been neglecting (and catching up with people I have missed), that doesn’t mean I haven’t played any games!

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

What can I say – it keeps pulling me back in. Blood Rage is a heap of fun to play, and being able to leave it open or end my day with a game has let me get in quite a few games.

Things are even being fixed at an amazing rate. I can even start a game in the morning, and come back to it later now.

I still say playing around a table with friends is better, but to kick back and enjoy a game solo on my own time is great. I have been increasing the difficulty and playing with the styles. This lead to my best score to date!

Check out my review for more thoughts, but expect to see Blood Rage for at least a couple more weeks in Last Week’s Gaming.

Blood Rage - Best Score so far
My best score so far is with eveyone at medium and playing adaptive playstyles. I have not done as well since :p

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

I picked this up to get through a few more levels, and it was a bit of fun.

While I am jumping between the relatively simple early levels to the pictured ‘Special’ levels, the difficulty jump is obvious.

Minesweeper Genius is a little bit of a sleeper hit on my Switch. Nice to play while I have YouTube running, and I can just turn it off when I feel overwhelmed.

Hopefully, I will be finished it all in a couple of weeks, and I will do a formal review then.

MineSweeper Genius - Whoops
I was reasonably confident I had figured where most of the mines were. I was mistaken.

The Outer Worlds – Switch

As I wanted to finish my review, I obviously gave The Outer Worlds a bit of a run last week.

Everything I said holds true, and on the weekend while I had a half hour to kill I loaded up my save and did a small quest line. This is where games like this come to life on Switch.

That said, it will probably be a while before I finish this run. Now that end of financial year is done, I intend to jump back into Final Fantasy VII Remake with a gusto!

The Outer Wolds - The Crew
I have done a couple of quests, but I am not hitting it hard. I have Final Fantasy VII to get back to...

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Another week down, and another week of jumping in and out of Animal Crossing. This week, I made a pretty good return on the Turnip exchange, and I have paid off my house!

I will probably go easy this week, as I hope to be playing some other games I have been neglecting. But it’s time to get my island renovations sorted 🙂

I am thinking a residential area, a rural area, and a fun area. Time to go shopping for stuff as well!

Animal Crossing - Home paid off
The last home loan paid off. Now to build funds for island renovations.

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 – June 22nd, 2020

Animal Crossing - What's up Twinkles

So I knuckled down as much as I could, and I did get some gaming in last week.

Two more weeks is my mantra at the moment. When this goes live, I will be finishing up last week’s work. Tomorrow is going to be putting out IT spot fires.

But that is what is coming. Today is about concentrating on what I played last week. And I had more fun than I expected, hard draining week and all!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

It has been a few weeks since I played One Deck Dungeon. This fantastic dice chucker is as fun as ever, and everything I talked about in my review still stands.

I jumped back on because I could cheat a little while I was working. I had a few tasks that were periods of focused work, followed by waiting times. What better way to fill in these times than playing a turn-based game?

One Deck Dungeon - I might be in trouble
I lost SO many dice because of this enemy

My Rogue has been completely upgraded, and that little Steam achievement popped. So of course, my brain went into “Oooh. Completion run?” mode.

I am not going to make a concentrated effort to get all of the Steam achievements, but I think I will give it a try. At the very least, it will be fun to build up the rest of my characters!

One Deck Dungeon - Building Up Warrior
Started the road to building up my Warrior

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

Another recent review that has been revisited. And since I have written that review, a lot of updates have come out. I still can’t play in ultrawide, but the issue has been acknowledged, and hopefully, a fix isn’t too far away.

But that was mostly in the ‘niggle’ category for me. The most significant update I appreciate – save game states for solo play. You can now close down a solo game and come back!

I have increased from 3 to 5 players for my games now am familiar with it again. I have also bumped up the difficulty. This has led to my first defeat (by 1 point!), but a couple more games have seen me winning again. Time to bump that difficulty level back up!

Blood Rage - Gathering Forces
Forces congregating around Yggdrasil

I have had a couple of comments that my Blood Rage review was pretty negative. There were things I addressed that were an issue, and at the time I stand by them. They are being fixed quickly though, so that is something I appreciate from developers.

The biggest recommendation I can still give Blood Rage is that I am still playing it (and enjoying it!) regularly. Would I still rather be playing Blood Rage around a table with friends? Of course. But Blood Rage Digital does a great job at scratching that itch when I can’t!

Blood Rage - Never count yourself out until the scores are final
It looks like I have truly lost. But I have 60 more points coming... This tension makes Blood Rage for me

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

So last week, I reviewed a little game called The Card. I obviously played it last week, as I did the review. As all of my thoughts are already in the review, I am not talking about it this week.

What I am talking about this week is another sub $2 purchase called Minesweeper Genius. I quite enjoyed minesweeper back in the earlier Windows days when it came included with the operating system, and this looked like a cute take on it. Plus, it was really, really cheap.

The goal of Minesweeper Genius isn’t just to find where all the mines are through deductive reasoning. You also have to guide your sweeper through the level to a goal.

Minesweeper Genius - Level Select
The level select screen is functional. Not every element needs to be groundbreaking.

This took some adjustment on my part. The game is very minimal in terms of hand-holding through a tutorial. Still, the difficulty spike and adding new mechanics has been pretty good so far. I have cleared about 30 levels and unlocked the first ‘advanced’ stages area. Or I could choose to continue going forward.

I’m not going to rave about Minesweeper Genius, but I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would. The next game should stop me from doing a formal review on it this week.

Minesweeper Genius - Advanced Stages
The same Minesweeper deduction is required, but you apply it differently

The Outer Worlds – Switch

Yes, I made progress! Even though I have already finished this game on Xbox, I am still enjoying discovering new things I either missed or have been added. I suspect more of the former.

Over the weekend I completed Edgewater, the first planet you are let loose upon. I had fun. It was enjoyable. I did a couple of quests I don’t remember/missed in my first run, and slightly muddled another because I did it out of order.

I have only been playing in handheld mode. Have I seen frame rate dips? Yes. Does the texture popping look weird? Sometimes, usually worst when loading a save.

The Outer Worlds - Primal Behemoth
Making the shot that started a lot of enemies running towards me

What I haven’t experienced are mid-game ‘loading circles’ I have seen in other headlines. Nothing has happened more than a typical ‘fallout bug’ to me so far. Portability does mean sacrifices, but as for The Outer Worlds being unplayable on the Switch – so far, I haven’t seen it.

During the week I intend to finish the Groundbreaker. This is going to take some time as it’s from memory the largest quest area. It is also the area with the most random people and such that could stress the hardware.

The Outer Worlds - Loading Screen
I love the style and humour in these loading screens

So all going well, The Outer Worlds review is coming this week.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Oh Tom Nook, you addictive racoon. My plan last week was to potter away, and I have been. Sitting down on the couch with Animal Crossing for 15-20 minutes a day has been a good way to wind down.

However, last week, I made two major mistakes. Firstly, I forgot to sell turnips during the week. Luckily on Friday, the rate jumped a little. So I made a small profit – about 20 bells per turnip.

Then on Sunday, I got a note about stuff littered around my house. I forgot I was storing turnips downstairs and upstairs! So that has set me back financially a little bit. Luckily, I have only picked an area to plant my money trees in terms of modelling Sleep Cove, and even that isn’t final. So I have time to get back to where I was 🙂

Animal Crossing - Poor Snowfolk
Oh Snowboy... We all know weeks like that...

One thing that did make me smile was K.K. Slider this week. I was watching some youTube videos saying that K.K. is based on Kazumi Totaka, a famous Nintendo sound designer. He has a tune that is hidden in many Nintendo offerings, and it is known as Totaka’s Song. So as I could make requests, I tried to see if K.K. would play Totaka’s Song.

And he does! You have to rename it slightly, but it’s there. Not only did I get to see K.K. Slider perform the famous easter egg, but I now have a copy registered to my music collection.

Animal Crossing - Totaka's Song
I don't know if this is still an easter egg or I hit on a song I hadn't bought yet, but it made me happy

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 15th, 2020

Animal Crossing Snowfolk

It wasn’t a huge games week this time around. But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to say about what I did play!

The crunch. I hate this time of year work-wise. It’s like the Christmas sales in retail. Bleah. Coupled with an incredibly annoying Telstra issue with work, this has just been such a pain.

But, as usual, gaming has been a pleasant refuge. I just haven’t had the mental capacity to play as much as I wanted. I did get to spend a nice night on the couch watching Food Wars with Rabbit though. Wouldn’t have switched that for anything 🙂

But that’s enough of my week – let’s talk about the gaming I did get in!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Not too much in terms of my island progress, but it has still been fun to potter around. Now that winter has officially come to my island, I have also been having fun building Snowfolk.

I have some turnips ready to sell this week, and the plan is to pay off my last house upgrade this week. Once that is done, I will have a look at how quickly I can build some extra bells. The extra money can get dumped into building bridges and inclines, as well as moving buildings around.

But all that is ‘when I have time to sit and plan’. Work-wise at the moment, I can’t really put the time in I want to for this. But the end of the financial year is only 2 weeks away, and that is a lot of time to keep buying a lot of turnips to build that cash flow.

Animal Crossing Cherry Island
I also finally have a new fruit! Cherries have arrived on Sleep Cove

The Outer Worlds – Switch

Again, I haven’t played this as much as I wanted to, but I have been making progress. Currently, my character is up to level 5, and I have recruited my first two teammates.

Graphically, it looks better on Xbox. This was always going to be the case – portability does mean sacrifice. But even at the end of a long day, picking up the Switch and playing a quest then putting it down has been pretty much perfect. It’s the experience I hoped it would be.

The Outer Worlds Exploration
Running around the world and discovering new areas feels great

There have been some framerate dips, and texture popping (things appearing out of nowhere/images loading while looking at them) is a thing. But playing purely handheld, it has been running well. I have even found a quest I missed on my first playthrough.

I am still waiting to at least finish the first ‘world’ before doing my final review, but so far everything is promising. It might be another week before I feel comfortable giving The Outer Worlds a final review though

The Outer Worlds Sign Not Loaded In Properly
It looks worse when on a big screen, but the sign is only 'half loaded' - this is an example of texture popping

Iron Man VR Demo – PSVR

I have been eagerly waiting for this game since it was announced. Mixing VR with Iron Man is such a perfect fit. Seeing the view from the suit, the Iron Man display is basically Augmented Reality – all the readouts etc. placed over Tony Stark’s view of the world. Emulating this in VR is simple, and wearing the VR headset helps with the immersion of ‘wearing’ the suit.

The demo itself is short. It contains the tutorial, a ‘cut scene’ and the first chapter of the game. I quickly got used to the controls, and I can mostly zip around the sky without hitting everything inside of about 5 minutes.

Iron Man VR Tutorial
This is internal capture. It looks better on the shared screen. But holding up your hands and shooting feels awesome!

One thing became instantly apparent, though. You play Iron Man VR in a true 360-degree environment. This is great for immersion, but the PSVR cable is terrible for this experience. My first playthrough, I managed to not only unplug my headset but the VR control box from the PlayStation.

I doubt Iron Man VR will be released on anything but PlayStation. Still, this game would be perfect on the Oculus Quest or any other fully wireless VR headset. Here is hoping that PSVR2 is wireless with inside out tracking!

Iron Man VR Scanning Plane
The feeling of being in the Iron Man suit is impossible to describe

I don’t know if I will be grabbing Iron Man VR on July 3rd (the actual release date). Not because I am not looking forward to it, I just don’t know if I will be up to playing it day one. I will be grabbing it and playing it pretty heavily though, so expect to hear more about Iron Man VR in about a month.

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 8th, 2020

The digital board games continue, but not as much as I would have liked. Also, The Outer Worlds on Switch – is it as bad as people say?

Before we get started, I am not reviewing The Outer Worlds on Switch today. I have barely touched it. But I have seen a bunch of ‘Stay Away’ headlines on my YouTube feed, and I am wondering how much of it is warranted.

During the week, I will try and play at least to the point where I get my first companions. That should be pretty indicative of how everything runs for the rest of the game.

But other than that, I played a lot of Dragon Castle this week. I got to visit Alpal for the first time in ages, and playing Dragon Castle with the tiles is as satisfying as I remember!

But I will get into that soon. For now, let’s look at what I did play Last Week!

Blood Rage – Steam

So on Friday, I released my review of the digital implementation of Blood Rage. You can check out my thoughts here.

For sitting back and getting in a game solo against the AI, it has been satisfying. I have been winning the last couple of rounds against two easy AI opponents, so I think I have the basics back down.

Time to increase things to 5 player games, then mixing up the difficulty levels.

As I say in my review, if you want to play Blod Rage solo, the Digital Edition is a great alternative. Multiplayer wise, I am waiting for some more patches before revisiting my review score.

Blood Rage Digital
I had some issues with widescreen layout, but the game itself looks great and will run on almost any Windows 10 machine

Dragon Castle – Steam and Physical

Another game recently reviewed that made it back to the table this week! Dragon Castle is a relaxing yet challenging little abstract puzzle, that was great to kick back and unwind with.

Saturday I got to visit Alpal, and as she hadn’t played it for a while, we broke out the physical copy. The ‘click’ of all those Mahjong tiles was as satisfactory as I remember and really does add to your enjoyment while playing.

Being at the end of the week, I could only get in a couple of games before my brain started rebelling. Being able to sit and chat during the game with Alpal was great, and it made for an enjoyable afternoon overall.

Dragon Castle Alpals Castle
I was mean and took the last black tiles. No pattern for her! Sorry Alpal 🙁

Tetris 99 – Switch

Picking up the Switch during the week, I decided to look at games I haven’t touched in a while (or ever). And there was good old trusty Tetris 99.

Firing up a normal Tetris 99 game, I did OK. I haven’t played in a while, and so coming around the 20ish spot was satisfying. I was still pretty drained though, so I decided to switch styles.

Firing up Marathon mode, I thought I would see how far I could go in 999 Line mode. Then came a chill half hour before my brain basically pulled a ‘nope’ on me.

Tetris 99 999 Line Mode
Just kick back and see how far ou can go. Marathon mode is a nice diversion for 'real' Tetris 99.

It was nice to lie back on the couch and just let the zen-like state of Tetris flow over me. I didn’t get into ‘nope’ mode until I tried to pay attention to the furkids and YouTube while playing at the same time.

As usual, my advice is if you have Nintendo Online, grab Tetris 99 for yourself. Even if it is just for a diversion to come back to at times.

The Outer Worlds – Switch

The Outer Worlds, for me, is a great RPG adventure title. Does it have bugs? Sure. Probably fewer now, I finished it pretty quickly when it was released.

But you can build or break alliances with people or factions as you see fit. You can choose to explore the worlds, or just follow the quest markers. There are many ways you can build your character to let you play the game as you want to play it.

All this, coupled with the chance to play portability of the Switch, made me look forward to the port. Playing the opening title, I was impressed at how the Switch handled things in handheld mode.

Things looked a little fuzzy, and the dense foliage seems to have been pulled out, but it was playing a lot better than I thought it would.

Even the load times, which on my Xbox One S drove me mad every time entered a town or loaded my game, seemed better.

Then I started seeing the negative headlines on my YouTube feed. I have stayed away from as many reviews as I can, but the negative press is prominent.

So this week, I am going to get a fair way into The Outer Worlds and see if I can see what everyone is talking about. Expect to see all this as a review in the next week or two.

The Outer Worlds Switch Load Screens
Do thigns take a while to load on Switch? Yes. But these screens didn't ge to me like I thought they would.
The Outer Worlds Switch Edgewater
In handheld, it didn't look quite as bad. But it did look soft, and the world not as full of life.
The Outer Worlds Xbox One S
On the Xbox One S, more details and no 'fuzzy' buildings, but a lot more powerful hardware than the Switch.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So after last week’s lack of Turnip purchases, this week I paid off my 4th extension and bought up a bunch of turnips to start trying to build up some cash.

During the week, I didn’t ignore Animal Crossing, but I didn’t go out of my way with my island either. At least 5 nights was login for Nook Miles, bury bells and grab the money tree – that was it.

No, I am not helping with the anniversary photos either. I think the new activity is kind of cute, but I am not much of a wedding person at the best of times, sorry Harv.

I do now have the clothing store, so that’s progress. I completely forgot the game told me about the sisters wanting to set up shop permanently.

This means I might have to sit down and actually look hard at what other possible buildings or structures could be in store. Time to get ‘serious’ about finishing my island and getting 5 stars – then I think I can ‘finish’ my game of Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing Erik is an adorable weirdo
He is cute, and his heart is in the right place, but really Erik?
Animal Crossing Able Sisters Opens
Is this my last building? Looks like I will need to go look it up!

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 1st, 2020

Animal Crossing Shooting Star

One full week back at work, and I am back to being overly tired. I didn’t play any PS4 or Xbox this week. But I did get in some digital board gaming – let the gaming challenge counts finally rise!

OK, so it wasn’t a huge dent, but a dent is a dent. Kicking back and playing the AI isn’t as good as playing with my friends, but it was still good to do some board gaming.

Turn-based, take your time, board gaming. I needed it last week, and probably will again this week.

But enough of all that – on to what actually got played!

Istanbul – Steam

I quite enjoy Istanbul, but it can be a brain breaker. This is why I generally prefer Istanbul: The Dice Game. It’s one of those rare times where the dice game captured the feel of the ‘original’ game perfectly.

Early last week, I nabbed the Steam digital version and gave it a go. The tutorial is as good as I can ask for. One of the downsides to Istanbul is there are a few different things to keep track of, and it takes at least a couple of games for everything to click.

Going to see if I can get a game or two in on games night, and see what everyone else thinks of playing it digitally.

Istanbul Board
It's the board game, with everything laid out logically.
Istanbul Caravansary
It is a lot easier to read what the locations do though!

Small World – Android

Well, discounts got me last week. Google Play gave me a $1 credit, and I started having a look to see if there was anything that jumped out at me. Turned out there were two titles.

The first one was an old favourite that I hadn’t played for quite some time – Small World.

I had a couple of games, and I enjoyed it. That said, I can’t recommend people that haven’t already got it run out and buy it. First and foremost, I got the ‘this was written for an older version of Android’ warning as soon as I started it up. That doesn’t bode well for staying on your phone much longer.

Playing it on mobile is a little frustrating when your finger misses a token. Everything is just so small, and my gorilla fingers had trouble moving my tokens.

It did remind me that I do have Small World on Steam though. On a bigger screen, the gameplay will be a lot smoother. And just as fun as the board game, without the micromanagement.

I will have to see if I can use Remote Play Together on it for a games night…

Small World No Support Die
Three sides of this die are blank. You will swear it has 7 blank sides.
Small World You Have How Many Land
It was at this point, I thought this may have been a mistake
Small World Victory
And this is why you never give up trying

Dragon Castle – Steam

I reviewed Dragon Castle last week, so I won’t be talking much about this one. But how could I do a review and not grab at least one screenshot of the game? Oh no, I had to play a game. Such a hard life :p

Today I will talk about how disappointed I was that Dragon Castle doesn’t work with Remote Play Together. Like Tokaido, Dragon Castle is a great game to be playing during a conversation, and I think it would work really well in the remote play format.

I think if people could jump in for a round or two on someone else’s copy, more copies would be sold. Yes, it was on sale for a very low entry point cost, but you had to want to already play to be willing to pay it.

But that’s just my rant. 🙂

Dragon Castle Poor Decisions
I was getting worried. The compute started targeting my dragon tiles.
Dragon Castle Tie Loss
Lost on tie breaker though. Can't be unhappy with that comeback!

When I got an email saying that Imperial Settlers was coming to mobile, I was very excited. I have had my eye on the roll and write version for a while, and a portable solo version could bump Onirim for plays.

I bought it, loaded it up, and played the tutorial. And I have no idea what is going on.

Teaching board games is hard. Anyone that has tried can tell you that. Learning board games is harder, and some manuals do not help with this.

That is where Imperial Settlers: Roll and Write fell down for me. There is a manual you have to read that will hopefully explain enough to understand the tutorial. The tutorial itself was basically ‘pick this, move it’ with little explanation as to what you were trying to achieve.

So now I am going to sit with a few video tutorials and the rule book. This is the only way I believe I can get the full experience. I will come back to this one in a few weeks with a full review.

Imperial Settlers Tutorial
Why do you want crowns? Read the manual to find out!

Blood Rage – Steam

As I wrote last Wednesday, I was looking forward to this. I enjoy Blood Rage, but it’s a hard one to get to the table. Not that it’s a bad game – just one that takes a lot of coordination getting certain types of player together.

I was hoping that the digital version would help me get some plays in, and I believe it will. I have played two games against AI opponents so far, and the ‘easy’ difficulty still gives a challenge.

The biggest challenge was actually my screen. Playing in ultrawide in my first game, I realised that I couldn’t see my army strength. The number was blocked by my cards. This wasn’t a problem in the tutorial, as I didn’t have enough of a hand for it to happen.

Changing the resolution to a standard size 1920×1080, this wasn’t an issue, and I handily won my second game. Both rounds were fun, but this was a bit strange. I will look more into it during the week.

Initial thought though – this could be a lot of fun on the go. Maybe a Switch version?

Blood Rage Cards Blocking
Below my card is supposed to be my army strength
Blod Rage Bad Card To Play
If you don't have cards, it's not a problem. Except I shouldn't have entered this fight!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

It was another week on Sleep Cove. Did some fishing, bought some stuff, started toying with my island setup. Still trying to get it right in my head.

Yesterday I messed up though. I completely forgot that Daisy Mae only sells turnips Sunday MORNING. When did I remember this? When Isabelle proudly informed me it was 12:01.

It’s far from the biggest issue in the world, but it was indicative of most of my week hahaha.

I need about another 100,000 bells to pay off my upstairs room. I think I will spend a night roughly planning out the changes I want to make to my island, and having fun fishing. Now that winter has officially hit my island, hopefully I will find some new fish and bugs to collect as well!

Animal Crossing Shooting Star
I also finally got to see a shooting star! Star fragments acquired, finally crafter a wand 🙂

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – Switch

RPG’s are my game of choice for when I want to settle down and immerse myself in a world. I don’t have much time for that lately, but it is what I enjoy.

When Xenoblade Chronicles was announced, I was excited. I have a version for my DS, but that hasn’t been pulled out since last PAX. The Switch has basically replaced all of my handheld gaming, except for quick mobile diversions.

One reasonably universal downside to RPG’s is starting them. Fans are nodding, some people are probably confused.

Vast RPG worlds are great when you are in them, but it’s hard to invest in a game that drops you into it completely blind. So you get to do the introduction to the world. This is part story building, and part tutorial.

I am 40 minutes in, and I haven’t gotten to the first town to ‘start’ the game. This is what I mean by ‘starting them’ is a problem.

It looks gorgeous on the Switch, even playing in handheld mode. It might take a week, but I will make it to the village and get my first taste of the game soon.

Figure 3-4 more weeks, and I can start playing it properly!

Xenoblade Chronicles Titans Clash
The bodies of these two huge creatures is the world you will explore
Xenoblade Chronicles Bad Day
No spoilers, but when I watched this happen all I could think was "Justice"

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 25th, 2020

Animal Crossing Last Weeks Gaming

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

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

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

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

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

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

What do you think?

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

Music Racer – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maneater – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 18th, 2020

Animal Crossing Lounge Room

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

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

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

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

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

Tokaido – Steam

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

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

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

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

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

Skribbl.io – Web

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

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

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

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

Dragon Castle – Steam

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

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

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

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

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 11th, 2020

Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform

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

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

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

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

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

John Wick Hex – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

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

Star Wars Day

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

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

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

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

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

Jackbox Party Pack games – PC/Stream

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

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

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

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

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

Streets of Rage 4 – Xbox GamePass

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Crossing – Switch

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

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

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

How’s your island going?

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

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 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