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,

JohnHQLD

PAX Aus/PAX West 2020 Merch and Shelfie Stacker!

Shelfie Stacker Cover Art

I love PAX. #SorryNotSorry.

Last week, I talked about the upcoming PAX Online. My love of PAX is not something I have ever tried to hide.

There are a bunch of new games coming out that I wish I had time to look into this week. One week to go for weird work weeks!

But this morning the official PAX merch was made available for pre-order. No waiting in line, no queues, and even better – free standard shipping!

Do you need any of this to enjoy PAX? Nope. But it’s still something great, and Rabbit and I may have spent a fair bit today! :p

So no whole in my PAX Bag for 2020 after all! My previous PAX hoodie was starting to get a bit worn, so I thought I would jump in and grab a new one this year.

Instead I grabbed the PAX Varsity jacket. Sure, it will arrive just in time for an Australian summer, but hey – I will be ready for next winter!

PAX Aus Varsity Jacket
Accipitus Domum - roughly translated, "Another Home".
PAX Aus Drawstring 'Cinch' Bags
This style of bag has really grown on me. Huge number of uses, and more comfortable than you think

Another item that I have taken to is the drawstring or ‘cinch’ bags. These things are tough, hold heaps of stuff and are comfortable to wear. When I go on flights (not so much at the moment), now I have one or two of these in my backpack.

Why? I put my Switch and Kindle in one, and things I want to carry around with me in another. They fold up into almost nothing, but let me stow my backpack but quickly have everything for when I am in my seat.

And usually, they are great for stashing items as I walk around the PAX floor!

Am I saying you should go and buy everything in the store? No. Well, Rabbit and I kind of did, but that’s a different story. 😀

But just like PAX Online, now everybody has a chance to grab a piece of PAX for themselves without having to travel. And I find this really exciting.

Are you going to talk about games again soon?

Yes. Last week, I was going to talk about a new Kickstarter called Shelfie Stacker. Today, I will still talk about it, just in a shortened form.

Shelfie Stacker’s theme is what has attracted me to it. Organising my games collection has been on my to do list for almost 2 years. It hasn’t happened yet.

Why is this important? Because in Shelfie Stacker, that’s exactly what you are doing! Each turn, you draft a ‘delivery’ of games (dice selection) and you need to build up your game shelves.

There are rules, so early planning is rewarded. For example, you cannot put a die with one large game on top of a set of 3 medium sized games. You also can’t put different coloured dice in the same column.

Shelfie Stacker Cover Art
I can't believe it took this long for a game like this to come about

Each round, you select a helper (card) that allows you to utilise their special power. This will let you manipulate the die to change the value, and break rules like being able to stack the ‘wrong’ colour.

You get to choose your 8 helpers from a deck of 10 choices, so again strategy comes into play. Then, it’s up to you to use the best helper at the right time.

This sounds like a potentially deep and heavy game, but Shelfie Stacker looks incredibly light in terms of game weight. This means that experienced gamers and new players have an equal chance of winning, and everyone should have enough ‘game’ to enjoy themselves.

Shelfie Stacker Gameplay
Build the best pattern you can. It's not a new concept, but what a theme!

Are you backing it?

I am indeed. Even with the dependence on colour, I can clearly differentiate between the different coloured dice with my colour blindness. And all of the colours used are displayed on the box, so it’s an easy ‘litmus test’ for similar players to tell if they can play.

It’s also only AUD$56. For the amount of die you get in the game, coupled with some clever components and design, this is a great price I think.

Also, it’s a game designed in New Zealand. It’s nice to see more games coming from this side of the world!

So what do you think? Does Shelfie Stacker tickle your interest? Check out the Kickstarter page for more information!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

So. PAX Aus 2020 online anybody?

PAX Online

I reserve Wednesday’s for little snippets of things I am looking forward to. And PAX Aus is the one time of year I really look forward to – even more than my birthday!

So yesterday it came to light that PAX Aus 2020 has been formally postponed until 2021. Given the state of the world and everything, it is the right call. Still sad about it, but hey – that’s the world we live in right now.

PAX Aus 2020 Announcement

So, the PAX Aus timer has been removed from the site. That countdown will be reset when the dates for next year are announced. You may have noticed another in it’s place though…

How is that looking forward to something? This is the opposite!

I will miss driving down to Melbourne this year with Rabbit and catching up with people I only get to see once a year. PAX Aus is three days of exhausting goodness, but what a great time it is!

While there might not be a formal PAX Aus this year, there will still be things happening. There have already been new ways of joining up with the PAX community, such as the PAX Aus YouTube channel.

From the sounds of it, there will still be ways to join in with new announcements to be made. Is it the same as being there? No. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be enjoying everything! And now, even more people can participate!

If that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

PAX Bag
The PAX Bag of holding gets a break this year

So what is PAX Aus 2020 online?

PAX Aus 2020 Online is something I made up in my head when I got the postponement notification. Given the lack of a physical event, it makes sense that any panels or the like that can be arranged will be online events.

This morning PAX Online was officially announced! With dates from September 12th to the 20th. Yep – EIGHT DAYS OF PAX!!!!!!

Tickets are free – you ust have to be on the internet! Obviously at this early stage there isn’t anything formally announced in terms of panels, competitions, demos and the like. But it’s all there. In a new form sure, but it’s all there!

Merch will still be available as well. I know this is the shallowest part of going to PAX, but I was going to miss my PAX Aus 2020 pin this year. Now I don’t have to – the store will be open next week to preorder items.

PAX Online 2020
This is going to be interesting 🙂

The main PAX draw of meeting new people is also being looked at. Things are being ironed out, but they are offering the experience online. The notice includes creating chat rooms, tournament systems and group finding – so this should be fun!

Something I have been playing with is the creation of a JohnHQLD Discord server. I set one up for my local games group, and I think I have a pretty good handle on how it all works.

Whatever PAX comes up with, this would be a way we could enjoy it together. We might even get more people that can’t make it to PAX – that would be awesome!

What do you think? Would you be interested in chatting with others while events are taking place? I have been toying with the idea for a while, and I think it could work.

The world is full of possibilities.

So while I don’t have any firm grasp of what is happening with PAX Aus 2020 at this stage, there is no reason why the spirit of PAX needs to dwindle. While I might not be able to meet new people at a gaming table, the enjoyment of PAX doesn’t have to be postponed either.

So will PAX be the same this year? No. But there will be a PAX this year! While the team had to make some hard announcements, they are doing everything they can to make PAX Online 2020 as enjoyable as possible.

So what do you think? Are you looking forward to joining in on a ‘virtual’ PAX experience? Would you like a smaller place and group to enjoy some games and panels with people from this community? I think this could be an amazing PAX and I can’t wait for more details to be finalised over the coming weeks.

And imagine how good PAX Aus 2021 will be!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD