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.

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.

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.

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.

Do thigns take a while to load on Switch? Yes. But these screens didn't ge to me like I thought they would.
In handheld, it didn't look quite as bad. But it did look soft, and the world not as full of life.
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.

He is cute, and his heart is in the right place, but really Erik?
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 – February 3rd, 2020

Another week light on quantity, but what quality!

It was another great week for games. Unfortunately I didn’t make much headway in number of titles played. But it’s not how many you play, it’s how much you enjoyed playing it.

And enjoy it I did!

I am still feeling a bit run down, but at least I am not sick anymore. Enough of that, onto what I did get played this week!

I was hoping to play this game, and thanks to Alpal I got to play it!

A competitive Roll and Write, a lot of people will instantly compare it to the likes of Tiny Towns. This isn’t altogether unfair, but I am enjoying Cartographers more!

My first game I was not thinking and got absolutely punished for it. And I wanted to play again. I didn’t fare much better, but I had a great time playing it!

On Saturday, Alpal nailed why I enjoy the Roll Player games so much. They are light and easy to get into, but really reward longer term planning. As soon as she said it, the connection was obvious. But somehow I had missed it. Expect to see a full review after a few more games!

All the equipment you need - Cards, Pen, Paper. Scores hidden as Anna Bel destroyed us :p

Onirim – Android

I had a few minutes, and I came back to an old favourite.

One thing got me thinking this week though. I always play in Classic mode. I stay away from Score Attack. I don’t know why.

I played The Game with a score. I mentioned last week how I tend to make some strategically bad plays for short term points.

As such, I have made a short term challenge for myself that I will play a scored game or three this week. I will let you know how it plays.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already checked out my Onirim review check it out!

One loss, one win, one not finished due to human error. Maybe it is time to try and see what scores I can get.

198X – Switch

So this one came out last week on the Switch. It was cheap and has had some fairly positive reviews, so I thought I would check it out.

On the surface, it looks like a bunch of retro game clones. The opening level is called Burning Heart, and plays like a Final Fight or Streets of Rage clone.

But it is also more than that. There is a narrative that is tying these mini games together. The entire game is a narrative driven retro romp, that I have enjoyed so far. But I am not very far in yet, and it might be a while before I finish it.

If you enjoy retro gaming and are looking for something new to play, maybe check out 198X.

What does a space bullet hell shooter have to do with the story? I am going to find out!

Tetris 99 – Switch

It has been too long since I fired up Tetris 99. Not becuase I have stopped enjoying it, just because I tended to look at something else.

This weekend was the latest Nintendo Grand Prix. It wasn’t a game theme tie in this round, this time it was for almost $10 on the eStore!

And after a long day Friday, I came home to glitching internet. Of course. It got sorted late Saturday, but it basically cost me two days of Tetris.

Still, I earned the 100 points bare minimum pretty quickly, and had a fun hour playing more Tetris 🙂

First game late Saturday night in bed, hadn't played for maybe 3 months? Can't complain about results!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch

Another of my anticipated games, I have started getting into Luigi’s Mansion 3. And I am loving it 🙂

I didn’t think I would do more than just play through the game, but the simple yet challenging collectibles are starting to pull me in. I caught myself spending a couple of hours trying to collect all the gems on each level I have access to.

Bringing myself back to reality, I have decided to just play through the game until I get to the top floor, then go back and collect everything if I still feel like it. Stay tuned for how that works out!

That's right Luigi. Let the nice ghost play the music. Just slowly walk away...

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 – November 4th, 2019

On the Planet, Downforce Free For All with Palm Trees everywhere

It’s been so many weeks since I have played a decent amount of tabletop, that I am out of practice for the articles titles.

What can I say – Sorry Not Sorry :p

The Outer Worlds has pretty much dominated my console gaming this week, to the point I picked up Luigi’s Mansion 3 but have yet to put it in the Switch!

Without further delay, on to what I did actually play this week.

Narwhal Free For All

It’s summer isn’t officially here in Australia, but the heat has started. So what better game to play than a water based dexterity game?

Narwhal Free For All is a fun dexterity kids game. Essentially ring toss or quoits, all you have to do is get your coloured rings onto the narwhals or the central iceberg.

Points are simple: 1 point for any narwhal other than your own, 2 points for the iceberg or 3 points for your narwhal. One player each round spins the paddle wheel to create movement and difficulty, and the ‘fish’ ends the round when it does one lap of the pool.

Narwhal Free For All sounds to simple to be fun, but once again looks are decieving

It sounds too simple to be fun, but it was a quick bit of silly fun. The paddle wheel seems to be the weak point of the build, but there was still movement happening.

Maybe not for a whole games night, but for younger players or a silly quick filler game this is a great game. Watch a slightly not according to Hoyle round below 😀

Planet

Another Alpal special this week was Planet from Blue Orange games. A card drafting/set collection game at it’s core, the game goes for a set number of rounds and has you creating your own planets.

There is your primary planet type secret goal, where you need a certain number of a certain terrain to make points. Each round (after the early couple of rounds anyway) has you fighting to compete for various goals. Meet the goal, keep the card for end game scoring.

You can be aiming for the most forest that doesn’t touch deserts, or the highest number of ice areas. There are heaps to go for, and becuase they are laid out from the start you can plan accordingly.

This Blue Orange game took me by surprise. It is amazingly deep yet quick to play.

While many games do similar things with cards, having the magnetic tiles attach to your planet make for a great tactile experience.

Alpal has said I can borrow this in the near future for a formal review, so look out for that soon!

Downforce

I have spoken about Downforce a few times, and reviewed it already here on the site.

It was only a two player game, and Alpal managed to trick me into spending SO MUCH on cars (joking, I made poor financial choices :p ), but it was still a great game.

Hadn’t played Downforce in so long. And if you check out the instagram page you can see some of my attempted distraction tactics!

I lost overall, but we had a great time as always with this Restoration Games classic.

It's an old favourite. Well, if you can call 2 years 'old'.

Palm Trees

Completing the silly little games was a gem called Palm Trees. The concept is simple – give cards to other people to hold in their hands/fingers and create palm trees.

The first time someone drops fronds or refuses to play, everyone else scores. Simple, quick, and like Narwhal Free For All more fun that in deserves to be!

You need fairly nimble fingers because of the way you have to hold the cards. I think I had an advantage because of my large hands for once!

I will see if I can borrow it for a review soon as well. It’s far from a great game, but it’s a quick fun filler that I think a lot of people would enjoy.

Do not play Palm Trees with magicians or people that do cardistry!

Tetris 99 (Switch)

So as you would have seen on the Twitter page, there is another Grand Prix event for Tetris 99 next week.

In preperation, I thought I would fire up the Switch and have a couple of games – I mean, make sure all the updates are done. Yes, that was it 😀

I played a couple of rounds, then thought I would try out an Invictus match as I hadn’t in a while. The first game I dropped out really quickly (around 70th?), but the next round I was in the groove.

When we hit the top 10, you don’t see the tetromino drop anymore – it’s just sitting there on top of your stack. I need more practice!

Ten times I have tried the Invictus mode. This is my best placement yet!

Warriors of Waterdeep (Android)

A few more dungeon clears, a few more battles, and everything is still as up and down as before.

I did manage to level up enough to unlock a new character, which I thought would be fun. And it kind of is.

Problem is now I have an extra character to ‘earn’ cards for, so my progress is slowing down even more I think. My normal grind is showing less progress than normal, and I can’t see a way out without spending the cash.

Marketing wise Warriors of Waterdeep has the formula down. Quick battles that can be played in a couple of minutes? Check. Enough mindless fun that you want to keep playing? Yep, it’s been a couple of months now.

It took me a month to grind up enough to face this boss. I am not doing it for another dungeon.

Just enough carrot to get you to say ‘Oh hell I will just buy some cards’? Not quite, but I am getting tempted. If their pricing wasn’t so ridiculously high I probably would have bought some packs by now.

I figure two more weeks, then when the VIP club expires and I start getting those nags I will be uninstalling Warriors for good.

The Outer Worlds (Xbox One)

Oh wow. I am loving The Outer Worlds so much right now. It’s all the best bits of Fallout, set in outer space. The number of bugs etc. is also really minimal which is nice.

I have put in just over 24 hours now, and I am up to Level 22 of 30 (apparently, according to the achievments). I have spent so much time on Monarch (one of the planets), and I don’t think I have even found all the quest starters yet.

My only complaint at the moment is a little bit of pacing, but overall it’s moving fine and I am enjoying exploring the Halcyon colonies.

If you have Game Pass, try it out. It’s already included, and well worth the look.

I just love the humour in this game.

Bit of bonus Lego fun

Not one of my activities, but Alpal has been powering through some amazing Lego creations as always. The upgrades to Wahro0nga village are coming along really well, and you can see those in the weekly Yeti Hunting Puzzles 🙂

One thing she showed me was a Merry-Go-Round she made with an alien theme. One of the carraiges is even a cow!

I took a bit of video of us playing around with her new creation, so I thought I would share it here as well 😀

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

Tetris 99 v2 Review

Released 2019
Platform Nintendo Switch
Publisher Nintendo (Website)
Developer Arika (Website (Japanese))
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1 (more with Big Block DLC)
Category Tetris
Battle Royale
Online

It’s Tetris 99 – New(ish) and improved(ish)!

Tetris is one of those games I love, but always have trouble explaining why I enjoy it. For that reason, I have been trying to write this review for a long time. How long? Long enough that a significant update was released! How significant? Tetris 99 has officially entered version 2!

This review is more of a journey as to what I like and don’t like about Tetris 99. So apologies if I start rambling or seem vague below – I just kind of assume everyone knows Tetris and how to play it.

OK, so what is Tetris?

Tetris began in 1984, the brainchild of Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov. Yep, it’s a Russian game from the 80s that has nothing to do with the cold war. The idea is incredibly simple – a variety of shapes made up of 4 squares (tetrominoes) fall within a set play area. The player’s job is to create horizontal lines from these shapes, that then clear giving you more room to play. You lose when the tetrominoes reach the top. Simple.

This simplicity is the key to Tetris. You have one particular and repetitive task to do, but the satisfaction of clearing rows is addictive. Incredibly addictive.

Tetris has had a lot of facelifts over the years

The story behind Tetris is also one I find interesting. It’s way too much for this review, but YouTuber The Gaming Historian has a great video explaining it all if you are interested. Even if you just put it on as background noise for an hour (yep, it’s a big story), check it out. I have posted it below, but you can also save the link here.

That’s all? Where is the game?

Like so many simple games, Tetris sounds too simple to be a challenge. That is so completely far from the truth. For one, what I didn’t mention is as you play the drop speed of the pieces increase, giving you less time to plan and react.

For a lot of solo games, the challenge is usually to beat your previous score, and that is the same for Tetris. But there is something else with Tetris that hooks me.

Have you ever meditated? Just being able to let everything go and relax. Tetris does this for me. It doesn’t matter what is on my mind or what is happening. I can usually turn it all off to play a game or three.

This was the first version of Tetris I ever played - the original Gameboy version

Why does this work? I don’t know. All I can say is it does for me. Like meditation, different people have different paths to get there. When I get into that state though, my scores soar. My row clears are three or four lines time after time instead of one or two.

Like in chess, I can see the next pieces coming up and know where I have to put them. You play three or four moves ahead, but without concentrating on it.

Beating your high score wasn't your only reward. Higher score? Better rocket!

There is also another benefit to playing Tetris. So much so, another game was named after it. If you guessed Tetris Effect – you’re right! Long story short, playing Tetris for 30 minutes a day can help your cognitive ability. You can read more about the effect here.

So what is Tetris 99?

When I first heard about Tetris 99, I eye-rolled and groaned loudly. Battle Royale Tetris. The game mode already jumped the shark, in my opinion. Involving Tetris in the format – it was too much.

But it was free with Nintendo Online, so I gave it a go. One game in, I was hooked.

I have played Vs. style Tetris games in the past, and there is a familiar mechanic amongst a lot of them. When you clear rows, you send garbage lines to your opponent, making it harder on them. Tetris 99 uses this same technique, but instead of playing against one player you play against 99 others. And it works well.

The right stick lets you target different sort of opponents. You can target people targeting you, random people, people with the most badges or people in danger of being knocked out. The left stick lets you focus on specific players, but honestly, I am usually to overwhelmed to use it.

First game results. Yeah, I was pretty happy with that 😀

And then you play Tetris. You get on-screen warnings when people are attacking you, and you can see a stack of garbage that is coming for you. Clear lines yourself, and can remove rows from the queue.

When you knock out more players, you collect badges. The more complete symbols you have, the more garbage you send and clear when you clear rows. You can also chain row clears which add multipliers as well.

So apparently I annoyed 4 players before the game started?

There is a science to playing Tetris well, but like all simple games, you will become aware of them as your skills increase. One such technique is called T-spins. When you rotate a piece to fit in where it can’t merely drop-in, that is called a T-spin. It takes practice, but what skill doesn’t?

So I can’t win a game without hours of practice?

Probably not. Not win. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do well and enjoy the game. Think of it like any other Battle Royale game – you don’t expect to win your first game, but because you can drop into another match, you still have fun.

Getting beaten over and over is frustrating. But you don’t need to win to make progress. The higher up the ladder you finish, the more points are awarded. These points go towards a level system. The levels themselves are purely aesthetic, allowing you to get new avatars shown in ladders. Now there are a few other things to let you do this, but more on that later.

So Close! But every game lets you progress, so keep at it!

The Grand Prix events

Where this point system can be seen working is the roughly monthly Grand Prix events. I completely missed the first, but I have joined every one since.

The event is just a weekend of regular Tetris 99 with a goal, usually a free theme. To win the prize, you don’t need to win a round of Tetris. It helps, but it’s not necessary.

All you have to do is earn 100 points during the weekend, and you ‘win’. So while it’s time-consuming, if you just entered 100 rounds, you will win whatever the prize is.

Play a few games, get a free theme. It's a fun way to get people on for a weekend.

The one exception was a Grand Prix where the 99 best players over the weekend (read highest-scoring players) won 999 points in the Eshop – effectively a $10 discount. I spent a lot of time playing that weekend and was lucky enough to score in that top tier.

But here is the thing – during that event, I only won 3-4 matches tops. It’s not the fact of how many matches I won that mattered – it was points earned during the entire event that count. So don’t let being new to Tetris be a factor in not playing the game. Persistence is the key and will be rewarded.

And I didn't 'win' many games, I just kept at it. There has only been one of these events though - so far.

So what is this Version 2 stuff?

Version 2 adds quite a few things, but also more of the same. There isn’t any change to the core gameplay, but how you play those games have gotten tweaked. 

The most significant change is Tetris Invictus mode. It’s still Tetris 99 online, but this time you need to have won to join. That’s right – it’s Tetris 99 hard mode!

Because you know everyone you are playing in Invictus mode has already won, you are going in expecting a battle. What I wasn’t planning on was starting a match with faster drop speeds from the get-go.

So there isn’t the usual slow set yourself up like I find in a standard game of Tetris. You get thrown in the middle, and off you go. The only downside I have found is it takes longer to start a game. I am guessing it’s merely fewer people joining the Invictus games, but it was noticeable.

If you play here, you know you are in for a challenge

So, a hard mode. What’s the big deal?

Invictus mode is a new mode, but that’s not all. There have been a few other changes as well.

For one, daily missions have arrived. Yes, Tetris 99 is following the Battle Royale formula to the letter 🙂

So far, the missions I have seen have been relatively simple to achieve, but have forced me to play Online and against the CPU. This only way to do the second half is buy buying DLC, but I will talk about in a little bit.

Completing missions gets you tickets. Tickets let you buy new themes and avatar symbols, so the rewards are mainly cosmetic. So far there are a handful of items, but I have been sticking to the ones I have won from Grand Prix.

Play a few rounds each day, and use the tickets to 'buy' customisation options

There is a legend of Zelda one that appeals to me. The background is the map of the original game, which puts a smile on my face. Just not enough to have actually ‘bought’ it yet 🙂

Did you mention DLC? I thought this was a free game!

Yes, Tetris 99 is free. But there is also DLC known as Big Block DLC. From memory, it was $15, but I can’t find the price as I have already bought it.

Big Block DLC primarily gives you the ability to play offline. I bought it as I was going to fly, and a couple of Tetris battles sounded great. You can play a CPU battle where all of the opponents are AI. You can set their difficulty level, and also give yourself a boost by starting with badges. It makes a pleasant diversion or practice mode, but that’s it.

The other version and the mode I play more often is Marathon mode. Marathon mode is closer to old school Tetris, where you keep playing as long as you can. For a quick challenge, I play the 150 line mode, where the game ends once you clear 150 rows.

Want to play a traditional game of Tetris? Try Marathon mode

Hang on this is a review – shouldn’t you play it and tell us about it?

Ordinarily, I would have gone out of my way to do that. But there is a catch with Tetris 99. The DLC and extra game modes are precisely that – extras. The main game is the Battle Royale, and that is what I spend the most time playing. Hence, for the review, I have spent the most time talking about the online battle.

Tetris is Tetris, and if you would like other ways to play offline, there are different versions around that may scratch that itch better than Tetris 99. Admittedly not so much on the Switch, with Puyo Puyo Tetris being the only real alternative. Puyo Puyo Tetris is an excellent game, but I had issues playing the Puyo Puyo sections due to colourblindness. There is the same drawback as Tetris 99 for offline play – the main game is different to what you are looking to play.

So if you want to play Tetris, stay away from Tetris 99?

That’s not what I am trying to say, but I can see how it can come across this way. I went into Tetris 99 as a solo Tetris player but converted quickly. I think most Tetris players will have the same experience.

If you are looking to learn how to play Tetris, playing on another console or playing the Big Block DLC will help. But I genuinely think that just jumping into the free online games will be fine. Just jump in and enjoy it.

Marathon mode is fine, but I don't see why it had to be paid for

Almost all Switch owners I know have Nintendo Online, so it’s a free game that at worst you delete. What I don’t recommend is buying Nintendo Online to play Tetris 99. Borrow someone else’s Switch and try it out before putting money down.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – September 23rd, 2019

It was a video game heavy week

Well, I have put in work days every day this week. So tired. With a last minute postpone of the weekly gaming night, tabletop gaming has taken a hit.

But I still got to spend some time having fun!

Warriors of Waterdeep – Android

As per my review last week, I am still plugging away at this dungeon crawler.

I am in a position where I can’t progress in the main story, and the enemies are all 3-4 levels higher than me. I am getting owned.

Even in the player battles that unlock (after time) some great loot, I am getting hammered! That said, it’s still fun enough to play. Until I got some Epic loot.

One of my characters earned enough cards to level up some loot. Because of it’s quality, I also got about 9,000 XP if I leveled it up! The catch? It cost 7,000 gold. That meant spending 500 gems to get the gold I needed, and then spending another 1,000 ish gold on the character level up. Real cost? About $8.

So from the looks of it, getting to level 10 is going to cost serious cash

I am still giving it another month, but unless I can find a way to progress without spending about $60 from what I can see, this is definitely my last month.

Tetris 99 – Switch

There was another Grand Prix event last weekend, so you knew this was coming. Playing tired may not have been the smartest choice though. First game, I spent the entire time checking out the new Kirby theme, and just got smashed. Rank 97.

All time lowest rank entry in my Tetris career. But worth it! 5 games later, and I earned the Kirby theme 🙂

The new theme is really cute, with some nice touches. The badges are little Kirby’s, and the attack indicator is Kirby raising a star? Maybe a sword but I don’t think so. It’s cool either way 😀

It's cute but not overtly distracting. At least once you have seen all the little touches!

Once again, if you have Switch Online (which mine just renewed, so it’s been a year!) give Tetris 99 a go. You can play offline now if you just want to practice 🙂

Gears POP! – Android

I heard about this during the year, and an ad popped up for it so I thought I would give it a try.

Is it a great game? Not really. Two lane MOBA type game, with fairly standard collection and loot gathering. The tutorial is very bare bones, but I will stick with it a little longer.

The cute factor is completely over the top. When you earn a new character, the app opens the POP! box, and it’s ridiculous how happy that made me.

Played it for about an hour overall so far, and got a couple of level ups. The thing that makes me laugh the most is you can sign in with your XBox live account, so most of my gamerscore now comes from this game 😀

I will let you know if I am going to keep playing next week, but at the moment it’s a “Nice idea, needs a better game” thought from me.

Playing a game with POP! figures is surprisingly fun. I hope they do more in this style.

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 – September 16th, 2019

Gaming so light, it’s like I was in the Lockup!

Well it’s been a week! Unfortunately, it wasn’t for all the things I like that take up all of the time 🙁

Less than 25 days to PAX means a lot of extra time spent working, which cuts into my gaming time. Adulting is hard!

That said I still got a couple of games in, let me tell you about them below 🙂

Game night was mainly catching up, which is always great because that is a big part of holding the night 🙂

We got in a game of Lockup: A Roll Player Tale at maximum players, and it was a lot of fun. Teaching four different people that take in rules differently was a bit of a challenge. It’s not that Lockup is hard to teach, but there are a lot of moving parts to explain to everyone. When everyone takes in information differently, it is a challenge.

But by the third round everyone had a handle on the game, and it went down well. Expect a formal review in the next couple of weeks now I have played with more people.

Lockup: A Roll Player Tale is a hard one to describe, but a lot of fun when you are into it

Tetris 99 – Switch

Of course I logged in for a couple of roudns of Tetris 99 this week. There was one night I was absolutely wrecked, and Tetris 99 is a great way to clear my mind.

The new additions have been great, and the addition of the daily challenges gives me something to aim for. But.

I have found during the last weeks I have been logging in less and less. It’s no fault of Tetris, it’s still great and the new 2.0 additions have been challenging. It’s just I have so many other games I want to try that it seems to be knocked back a lot.

Still all in all, Tetris 99 is still a fun diversion for me 🙂

The Daily Missions are a nice addition, but I find myself logging in less

PS4 Troubleshooting and reinstallation

Now I know what you are thinking – that’s not a game! But bear with me for a minute.

Sunday afternoon, I was too sore and too tired to jump back into Astral Chain. I was a bit too tired for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I had a chance to sit on the couch and play a game with Rabbit next to me, and I thought ‘Now I can play Pheonix Wright!’

Well, no I couldn’t. What started wtih the controllers being unable to correct ended up with a complete reinstallation of the PS4, so no gaming Sunday afternoon after all.

Well, it wasn't the Pheonix Wright I was going to play. But getting the PS4 back up was a game in itself!

The thing is, because of the way the PlayStation site is setup, it took me 3 goes to find the correct files – and another two to get the reinstalltion file in the right folder!

So I have chalked up the experience of reinstalling the PS4 software after what I am guessing was a bad update as a game. A game with a bad manual :p

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

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – September 9th, 2019

Well, a week without board games. Need to fix that!

Between work, the site backend redesign and feeling ill, I didn’t get as much gaming in as I would have hoped.

But as usual, that doesn’t mean no gaming goodness was had!

Phoenix Point – PC

From the designer of the original XCom, Julian Gollop, comes a game I backed a while ago. And I finally had time to play it!

All of the familiar squad based turn tactics are there, as well as some new twists. Improvments over the Firaxis XCom franshise are here as well. For example, when you put a soldier in Overwatch, you get to set the Overwatch arcs. The ability for deeper planning is great, but it is still a fairly streamlined experience so far.

I am only a couple of missions in, but when I get a solid afternoon to go for it expect to hear more.

From the designer of the original XCom, Phoenix Point has some unique twists so far

Tetris 99 – Switch

Well, Nintendo dropped a huge update – and I decided to give it a spin.

Daily missions and new play modes are always appreciated, and the new Invictus mode was certainly a challenge! Invictus mode is free, but only players that have achieved a win in previous games can enter it, so it’s definitely a top tier event.

There are a bunch of new modes now including head to head play, and I can’t wait to try them all out. I am sure there will be an unofficial Tetris 99 area somewhere at PAX Aus this year, even if I have to try and start one 😀

Word of warning if you haven’t already played the new version – the update took a good 20 minutes to download – it’s a big one!

Version 2.0 of Tetris 99 comes with a lot of new features. Can't wait to try them all!

Astral Chain – Switch

Well, I heard a lot of hype, but this weekend I finally got to sit and try Astral Chain for myself.

The game just oozes Platinum Games DNA. The combat is satisfying, the animations are amazing, and almost everything clicks.

The story is fairly standard anime trope so far, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it. It might be a week before I can sit down with it for another few hours and try and finish another file, but so far so good.

I might need to remap the controls though. That so far is my biggest issue. And the auto-assistance I found just before I finished I am going to try and turn off to see if that helps.

This cute looking little pain was confusing at first, but once you solve the puzzle are easy to take down.

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 – 26th August, 2019

It was a Marvel we cracked Codenames in 5 Minutes

Last week, I hosted a Marvel themed game night. We were going to finish with Marvel Legendary Phase One, but we were having so much fun with the other two games that didn’t happen. Maybe next time!

This week I am in NZ, but I have bought a couple of games to play as well as my Switch 🙂 But in the meantime, onto what I played last week!

Codenames was an instant party hit when it came out a couple of years ago. It was such a hit I thought I had already done the review for Codenames and Codenames: Pictures, but I can’t see them on the site. I will have to fix that over the next few weeks!

But this week, we played one of the USAOpoly (Now the OP) licensed version – Marvel. One side has words, the other pictures, so you get a bit of both. You need some pretty in-depth Marvel knowledge for a lot of the characters though. I consider myself reasonably well-read when it comes to Marvel, and even I had trouble with some of them!

That didn’t stop us playing a few games and having a great time.

Our first game setup. Even with MCU fans at the table, there was a lot of Googling on who was who

Another retheme of a popular game, 5-Minute Marvel is a retheme of 5-Minute Dungeon. If you know how to play one, you know how to play the other.

The timekeeper app is J.A.R.V.I.S., complete with sassy comments. That was a nice touch that adds a bit of humour to the mix.

If you do a boss gauntlet, this takes closer to 35 minutes as you face each of the six bosses. Only one other player had played before, and everyone had an instant “Play again!” attitude to the game that makes this a favourite for my game nights.

Real time hand management at it's most hectic. But it's so easy to learn and play!

Crazy Strike Bowling Ex (Switch)

Crazy Strike was a last-second purchase I bought for something different on the plane. I have enjoyed a couple of bowling games, and I had heard of it before. So I thought, why not?

Initial impressions – I don’t think I should have bought it. As a single-player game with controllers, it’s a mobile distraction type game at best. I will play with motion controls and with some others though before I review it formally.

Biggest gripe – hidden tutorial and unclear instructions on how to play. See how I go with a bit more hands-on time.

Cutesy bowling game, but I think I prefer Wii Sports Bowling - at least for now

Tetris 99 (Switch)

Well, you knew this one was coming up. The sixth event was on last weekend, and you only need to score 100 points to win a theme.

The theme is pretty, but I think I prefer the Splatoon theme to date. It was fun playing the event though – I always enjoy playing Tetris 99.

When I have a head full of work, Tetris forces you to clear your mind in an almost meditation-like way. And the event was just another great excuse to jump on and play again 🙂

My highest win, but I have more than 100 points. The theme is mine!

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

So my plan was to power through the story and then start playing the new Fire Emblem. Then I hit the Calm Lands.

I was doing well, then realised I spent 2-3 hours grinding levels and playing the Chocobo race and collecting monsters. Oops.

So, new plan. I have one more Al Bhed primer to collect, and then I might pick it up later for a full completionist run. That is something straightforward to do with Final Fantasy X. It’s mostly linear at the start, so knowing where to go months later isn’t a real issue. Fire Emblem here I come!

Only one primer left to find!

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

Tetris 99 has a Fire Emblem Event starting tomorrow

Life is but a theme, doo wop doo wop…

Tetris 99 is one of the few games not on my phone I can pick up, play a round or two, and walk away feeling like I have played ‘a game’. This weekend, the sixth Maximus Cup is on, and this time it crosses over with Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

Winning the theme is simple – play and earn 100 points during the event. How do you earn points? Just play.

If you win a round, you will get 100 points instantly. One game, and a new shiny is yours!

From memory you get points for coming in the top 80, with more points the higher you place. This does make winning the prize more skill based, but one thing I love about Tetris is if you keep playing for the weekend, you are all but guaranteed to earn the points you need!

Oh yeah, another event just before I take off for a week!

The Splatoon theme is my favourite to date, and I am loving the fact I want to start playing Three Houses Sunday as I head over the ocean to New Zealand for work.

Obviously, this plan was supposed to be!

Are you going to join in? If you have Switch Online, Tetris 99 and entry is free!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – August 19th, 2019

When we stopped the thief, I didn’t think I would stop board games this week!

Well it has been a week for me!

This time around I really didn’t get to play any of the games I really wanted to. Between a mix of too much work and some much needed down time, the normal rapid fire mix of games didn’t happen this week.

But that’s not to say I didn’t get to play anything…

An old favourite hit the table again!

I am doing themed gaming nights, and last week’s was hidden movement. The idea was Stop Thief! followed by some meatier Specter Ops, but we were having so much fun we stuck to the lighter game and had a great catch up 😀

It was also great that we could play cooperatively. It was the group for it, and as usual we had a heap of fun.

If you want to know exactly what I think of Stop Thief!, check out my review here.

It had been a while since I got to play, and it was a good groop for cooperative investigating

Tetris 99 (Switch)

Speaking of Old Favourites, I finally got to play enough Tetris 99 this week to go up a level!

When it first came out, I was flying up the ranks – I was playing a heap of games though.

Now, I am closer to 5-6 rounds a week, which is enough to keep me happy and diverted. I even scored another win this week, always a happy moment!

I still really enjoy Tetris 99, and while I don’t think it’s the best thing about Switch Online, it’s definietly the perk I am using the most.

I haven't been jumping on as much as I would like lately, but another win sure felt good

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

Now by far the most gaming I did this week was Final Fantasy X. I think I got about 10-12 solid hours in this week – another thing I haven’t done for ages!

I have stopped concentrating on the early grind mini-quests to unlock celestial weapons and the like and now just jumping through the story. I will probably do another run at some time, and for once I would like a complete Al Bhed dictionary save to see what everyone says from the start! That will be my ‘completionist’ run I think.

So I got my first team wipe this run thanks to this Seymour

It’s been about 20 years, so I think spoilers are a past their spoiler date. I came up against the second fight against Maester Seymour, and hit my first game over screen for this run. I know there is a strategy to make this fight easier, I just can’t remember anything more than this fight being a pain.

Oh, and Bevelle Temple is still a pain in the butt to finish. It’s so annoying, and it seems to be more twitchy in the remaster than I remember. Not frustratingly so, but timing is a more critical in this version.

I am hoping to knock over Final Fantasy X this week, so I can start playing Fire Emblem during a business trip this week. Wish me luck!

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