Last Week’s Gaming – February 24th, 2019

Homebrewers

So guess how many games you can play with a night on the couch?

So Friday night I came home and basically crashed on the couch. It had been a week. The upside of this though is I basically slept for a bit after work, then played quite a few games on Xbox! Yay different gaming experiences!

What did I play? Well, that is kind of the point of Last Week’s Gaming :p

Alpal showed me Homebrewers this week. Initally I had it mixed up with Brew Crafters, but the only similarity is making beer.

It’s an interesting engine builder/dice action management game with variable player powers. Each game has different objectives, and you improve the quality of your beers by brewing them.

The best part of Homebrewers was when I lost the second game. It wasn’t the loss that was great, but that it had me thinking about what I could have done better with what I had. A game that makes you think like that is great, and I am hoping for more games of Homebrewers in the future.

Homebrewers
Homebrewers is a game that even when I lost, scratched that part of my brain as to why

One Deck Dungeon – Physical and Steam

The way this game has grabbed me is just insane. I had to force myself not to keep playing this week!

I am having fun with the progression, but I am rying the ‘Gauntlet’ mode on the Steam version at the moment. Gauntlet is like a mini-campaign that has you running all five dungeons in a row, but without any of the progression bonuses.

I am not doing too well at the moment – I think I will go back to playing two characters for this mode and starting again πŸ™‚

Don’t know One Deck Dungeon? Luckily I reviewed it last week, so check out my review here!

One Deck Dungeon
I am determined to do a Gauntlet run - basically a run on all five bosses from base stats

Ticket To Ride – Xbox

Ticket to Ride. I have the ‘special’ version – the 10th Anniversary USA and the Marklin editions physically. But when it’s close to 1am trying to get players to come over for a game is a bit rude :p

Luckily, Ticket to Ride is on Xbox Game Pass, so I didn’t even need to boot up my PC! The AI can be tweaked for different play styles, and I got owned on the first game basically because I forgot how to play :p

Ticket to Ride is a great game, and I still enjoy playing it now and then. I probably won’t play it again for a while. But it was a fun hour while I messed around πŸ™‚

Ticket to Ride
Picking routes is fiddly on Xbox, but I still got three games played with different AI in about 45 minutes

Elder Sign: Omens – Android

I was looking to kill about 20 minutes this week, and I hadn’t played Elder Sign for a while. Once again, the digital version on my phone came to solo playing rescue!

Elder Sign is kind of Cthulhy Yahtzee. You have to complete different missions, which is accomplished with different combinations of dice rolls. You can also take advantage of different skills based on the investigators you choose.

The digital version is a faithful recreation of the physical version, and is a great way to play solo as the app takes care of the more time consuming tasks like shuffling and setup.

If you don’t know Elder Sign (physical or digital), I have it on my list of games to review. Expect to see that in the near future πŸ™‚

Elder Sign Omens
I am still on the base game on my phone, but if I want to play a round or two playing Elder Sign Omens is great

Ring Fit Adventure – Switch

So this week I took the plunge and bought Ring Fit Adventure. I have been particularly sedentary of late, and I need to start moving again.

I started watching some reviews not that Ring Fit Adventure has been out for a while, and I was heartened to see the amount of people sticking with it after a few months. So, I took the plunge!

Compared to the workouts I used to do, Ring Fit Adventure is a light one, especially as I started on Casual. But I have run over a kilometer in both sessions – more than I have run in a single session in more than two decades!

At the moment, I did two days on, two off, and I will be doing another session after writing this. I am enjoying it, and I intend to play at least 5 times a week, so expect to see more on this one going forward.

Ring Fit Adventure
I told you I was unfit :p

Halo – Xbox

Slow and steady is my take on Halo. I only played a couple of sessions, but both times I got through a main mission, so I think I am only a couple of hours from finishing it.

There is one thing that is really starting to bug me with the Master Chief Collection version though. The music is awesome, but there is no way to lower the music volume in the game!

Why is this important? Because the music can be louder than all of the other sounds, and when I am trying to hear Cortana’s directions she is being drowned out by the music! It is REALLY annoying that I had to turn the subtitles on just to know what I was supposed to do.

Either way, this time next week, I should have this on my ‘finished’ list πŸ™‚

Halo
Slowly making my way through the campaign. Getting ready to blow up Halo

Halo: Spartan Assault – Xbox

More Halo when I had enough of Halo πŸ™‚ Not a new release, Halo Spartan Assault is what is commonly called a twin stick shooter. One stick controls where you move, and the other the direction you face/aim.

Spartan Assault isn’t the deepest gameplay I have ever experienced, but it is good for short burts of gameplay. The first time I played this was on my Surface Pro 3 because I didn’t believe you could play it on that machine!

The story takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, so technically I am playing this out of order. The story follows Spartans Davis and Palmer, which you alternate between on different missions solo but can play either in coop mode.

I don’t know if I will play this through in any particular fashion, but I am willing to keep it on my Xbox for quick arcade type gaming.

Halo Spartan Assault
While not a AAA title, Spartan Assault is fun for an arcade romp

Portal: Still Alive – Xbox

Looking through Game Pass, I was looking through the collection when I saw the Xbox version of Portal. Hardly a cutting edge game today, I thought a quick play to see how much I remembered was worth it.

And wasn’t it. Lying on the couch at a ridiculously late hour, I made it through 3/4 of the game before accidently standing in front of an electric ball.

If you have never played Portal, don’t be put off by the age of the title. It’s a fun and challenging physics puzzle game that is standing up well today. Portal 2 is more fun and has a deeper story, but I didn’t see that on Game Pass :p

Portal Still Alive
Do I need to really play Portal again? No. But it is still a lot of fun!

Tembo the Badass Elephant – Xbox

I was surprised when I saw this on my installed apps list. I didn’t see it on Game Pass, but maybe it was a Games with Gold freebie?

The premise is suitably silly πŸ™‚ You play Tembo, a special forces elephant called in to rescue Shell City from the forces of Phantom. Yes, you read that right.

Tembo is basically a silly platformer that has you collecting peanuts for extra lives, defeating the forces of Phantom, and rescuing civilians as a side quest.

It’s not good enough to have me dropping everything to continue playing it, but I can see myself picking up Tembo now and then during the year for a bit of fun πŸ™‚

Tembo the Badass Elephant
Ridiculous name, ridiculous game. It doesn't stop Tembo being a fun platformer though.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Xbox

I recently bought the Castlevania collection on the Switch, but I haven’t given it a go yet. In browsing Game Pass, I saw this Kickstarter game come up, so I thought I would give it a go.

Only clearing the first area, I am a far way from being able to say I am making progress. From all accounts, I have much left to go as well as multiple paths to explore.

I can say I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I might go back to playing Bloodstained regularly as a side Xbox game after finishing Halo. I am worried about genre fatigue playing them all back to back, and Bloodstained is definitely not an FPS!

Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
I have heard lots of good things about Bloodstained. It has potential for sucking me in more.

Untitled Goose Game – Xbox

Untitled Goose Game. Do I need to say more?

While waiting for some other Game Pass games to load, I thought I would grab this is it’s a small download and just have fun until something else finished loading.

If you haven’t played Untitled Goose Game, do it. It’s a great puzzler, very relaxing and just silly fun all rolled into one title. There are some timing challenges, but overall it’s very forgiving with it’s controls. Seriously, it’s free on Game Pass – check it out.

Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game is silly fun. And it's free on Game Pass. So why not?

198X – Switch

So going to bed early, I took my Switch with me to still chill out and then pass out when I felt tired. I decided to pick up 198X again, as I hadn’t played it for a while.

And I finished it. No, I didn’t pull an all night gaming session, I just didn’t realise how short the game was! Now that I have finished it and know all the game mechanics, I think I can finish it from start to end in about an hour.

While a beautiful pixel art game with amazing retro game love, it is episode one in an episodic arc. The asking price I think is a little high, but if you grab it on sale it’s a great experience. Becuase of the length I also can’t bring myself to put it on my ‘finished’ list πŸ™

I will talk about it more in this weeks review.

198X
The final boss had me thinking of Shodan from System Shock

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

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Video Games 2019 (That I Actually Played)

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What a great year to be a gamer

I had a better year for Video Games than I initially thought. I didn’t realise I spent a lot more time on one platform more than the others, and by a fair margin.

Spoiler, but for the first time in a VERY long time, I haven’t really played a game on PC. It makes sense. Usually when I sit in front of the computer I am getting ready to work, and if I am playing on the PC I always have work in the back of my mind. That will change in 2020 as well πŸ™‚

Similar to my Board Game list, I have added a couple of cheat entries. Well, I call them cheats, becuase I haven’t finished them yet! They are weighted down thr lidy becuase of this, but the small amount of play I had still put them over other entries.

Enough explaining – on to the list!

Number 10 – Astral Chain (Switch)

PlatinumGames are evil. Here I am, a mid-40’s grumpy old man that can’t play twitch reflex games like he used to. Somehow though they manage to pull me back in to play another one.

I am enjoying the world-building of Astral Chain, and the story exploration is enough without being too grindy. Well, up to Chapter 5, where I am. And that is where I got up to.

I think it was PAX Aus prep after the site redesign that derailed me on this one? I am not sure. But if you like action games at all, you need to check out Astral Chain. It’s only number 10 because I haven’t finished it.

Oh, and if you want to play on the move, the Hori Split Pad Pro controller will do nicely πŸ˜€

Astral Chain

Number 9 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

A classic game remade. I skipped a lot of the Nintendo consoles, with the original Gameboy being my only console until the DS a couple of years ago. Because of this, I missed a lot of classic NES gaming, including the Legend of Zelda series.

Now before a lot of people go berserk that Link’s Awakening is at the bottom of my list, I have two reasons. Firstly, I haven’t finished it. So it’s in my top 10 unfinished. Secondly, even though it’s my first time through the game, at its core, the game is 25 years old!

I am genuinely enjoying Link’s Awakening, and now that I have finished Pokemon Shield I intend to go back and finish it. But the older gameplay mechanics that drive the game, even though they hold up, keep it lower down on my list, most likely even if I had finished it.

Links Awakening

Number 8 – Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)

Fire Emblem on the DS was terrific. Huge story to explore, character interactions, permadeath – it was a turn-based RPG geeks dream. Fire Emblem on the DS was like Valkyria Chronicles for me on PlayStation – I can’t get enough!

And on a work trip, I got just far enough into it to know I didn’t have the time to invest in it just yet. I knew that the world was involved and you had to keep on top of what was happening. But in the DS version, you only had to worry about that at particular times. Quests were manually triggered, so you soon knew when to close it.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will let you play this way, but only to an extent by what I have tasted. The between battle interactions are on track to take up 40-60 hours on their own!

If you enjoy turn-based strategy, pick up Fire Emblem: Three Houses for yourself. The casual mode will let you pick up and play no problem, and is still quite a challenge.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Number 7 – The Jackbox Party Pack 6 (Switch)

Yes, it’s a collection of silly mini-games. It also let me run and join in for a games night with zero prep time.

For those that don’t know, the Jackbox Party games are just general games where the audience votes on winners. You can be designing T-Shirts, redefining the English language, or finding evil alien stowaways!

Buying the pack on a console (or PC, Apple TV, Pretty much anything) lets you host the game, and everyone uses their own devices with a web browser to join in. Then you follow the prompts!

Setup is easy, fun is great, and there is plenty of variety, so replayability is there. If you have groups of people that appear, this is an excellent standby as a group activity.

Jackbox Party 6

Number 6 – Untitled Goose Game (Switch)

Proof that gameplay trumps graphics πŸ˜€ Untitled Goose Game came out last year on PC, but not they are on consoles the game’s popularity has soared, and the Switch is where I got to enjoy it πŸ™‚

Like any great simple game, from the description, it doesn’t sound great. Be a goose and do tasks that appear on the screen. They can be anything from finding a flower, all the way to terrorise a child enough to hide in a phone booth.

And it’s hilarious.

I played it in small bouts while travelling and needed something I could turn off without consequence. I thought it would be perfect. Word to the wise – losing progress bites :p

If you haven’t seen it, play someone’s copy now. I am sure they will let you. Twenty minutes later, try to give them back their Switch/Controller without honking at them – I dare you :p

Untitled Goose Game

Number 5 – Pokemon Sword and Shield (Switch)

So missing a lot of the Nintendo early consoles, I only played a few Pokemon games. Yellow, Ruby, Moon, Let’s Go and now Shield.

A lot of fans are annoyed and vocal. Competitive play has already banned Dynamaxing, a new battle mechanic. Apparently, DS assets like sounds and models have been reused, which people feel ‘cheated’ by.

I had fun with it. The story isn’t really anything amazing (nothing new there). The battles are fun, and I enjoyed cooking a meal for my Pokemon. The inclusion of the Wild Area I thought was fun. Yes, online has issues, but I also didn’t need it to complete the game.

If you enjoy Pokemon, to me Sword and Shield are excellent additions to the series. If you are new to Pokemon but want more than the Let’s Go series ‘simple’ gameplay, it’s all here and more. And because Pokemon were cut, there is also the benefit of not having so many Pokemon to learn, so your learning curve is only steep instead of a vertical wall πŸ™‚

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Number 4 – Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4)

How long have I waited for Kingdom Hearts 3? And was it worth it? Mostly πŸ˜€

I love the series, but the timelines and retcons are crazy. Basically, I tell anyone trying to play the game to go with it, it’s much more manageable. What kind of timeline shenanigans are we talking about? Well at the start of 2019, the first Kingdom Hearts game is about the sixth in chronological order. It also includes movies, games, browser games and even concerts as authoritative entries.

That is not including most entries have been released and re-released with changes and story updates at least once. Usually as a full-priced game.

Bottom line though, I loved Kingdom Hearts 3. I would come home from work and work some more before going to bed just so I could get a solid 8-10 hours on Saturdays.

Everyone can play it, very few can understand it all, but a lot of fun no matter how you look at it.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Number 3 – Tetris 99 (Switch)

Well, talk about left field. Nintendo introduced one of my all-time favourite games and added Battle Royale. I thought they were mad. I thought it wouldn’t work.

Yeah, I was wrong.

With new play modes and little Grand Prix events always adding a bit of a carrot to come back, Tetris 99 still manages to be in the first few tiles of my Switch menu.

If you don’t know about Tetris 99 by now, check out my review. Better yet, if you have Switch Online, just jump on and play it. Really.

Tetris 99

Number 2 – The Outer Worlds (Xbox One)

So my first ever platinum trophy was Fallout 3. This was after voicing concern to my gaming group at the time that I was worried about bringing back Fallout and in a new game style to boot. In my defence, the previous couple of spin-offs weren’t great. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrong, though.

Flash forward to the next game from Obsidian Entertainment called Fallout: New Vegas. I was playing on PC, but that is putting it kindly. New Vegas was a bug-riddled mess of frustration. A year later, and after a lot of coaxing from friends, I said hello to my favourite Fallout game of all time.

Yep, the same team that made Fallout: New Vegas made a Fallout like game in space, and it’s fantastic. The multi-branching story, unforeseen consequences, and a relevant overarching story arc make The Outer Worlds a game I basically hoovered down. And it’s on Game Pass (hint, hint).

Playing it through the first two weeks, it wasn’t perfect. But it was far from an unplayable mess. The most significant bugs I met were apparently I was supposed to be given some more quest options. Still, I didn’t notice they were missing – the story made sense, and I could continue on.

Seriously, if you have Game Pass, put this on your drive (PC or Xbox). If you don’t, play it anyway. And apparently, it’s coming to Switch this year!

The Outer Worlds

Number 1 – Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)

Usually, as you can see with Link’s Awakening earlier in this list, I put a big negative in terms of weight for remasters and sequels. But then you get a remake that changes almost everything about the game, and for the better. This year, that game was Resident Evil 2.

You have the same characters, with some tweaks. The A/B Scenario system remains in place. And of course, item management and puzzles are still a concern.

Oh, and you still have good old Racoon City, the most magnificent collection of disasters of a city that never was.

Pretty much everything else is different though. Camera styles, combat, AI direction, even the Tyrant/Mr X – if you think you can use the same old tricks, be ready to reload your save.

I still remember playing this during the year, sitting on the couch with Rabbit reading/playing with her phone next to me. Hearing Mr X’s footsteps, she looks up to see what is making the noise. Then she sees him come through a door and lock on to me. “What the f#!* is that!” she yelled out, and it was at that point I knew just how well Capcom had nailed the remake.

If you haven’t played Resident Evil 2, then grab the new demo from your digital store of choice. That’s right – the ‘new’ demo. Capcom has started baking in Resident Evil 3 easter eggs into RE2, which is impressive in itself. Can’t wait for that to come out this year!

Resident Evil 2

Honorable Mentions

Tie – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)/Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4)

So here are two very different games that share one thing in common – I played them enough that I can’t put them on the ‘I wish I played’ lists, but didn’t play enough to fairly put higher on the list.

Both games are graphically impressive (personally, Sekiro more than Fallen Order but it’s not a huge difference). Both have a control system that requires practice and gaining skill (again, Sekiro more than Fallen Order). And both games have been raved about since release.

I have played enough of both to know I want to play more. I have also played enough of both (about 3-4 hours each) to realise I need to be playing when I am fully alert. And when my joints don’t already betray me.

I honestly think at least one of these games would have pipped Link’s Awakening for number 10 except for one thing – I can’t just pick either of them after 6 months and know the timing. The controls are not brutal, but the nuances are.

So while I think I will love both of these games, when you don’t see them on my ‘I Wish I Played’ list don’t think it’s because I don’t like them. On the contrary, at least one will appear in another article soon.

If you have any interest in either pick it up. Yes, you will need to practice and ‘Git Gud’, but no one has said otherwise. All I can say is from what I have seen, I think it will be worth it.

What do you think? I couldn’t believe how much the Switch dominated my gaming this year. But with the portable nature of the console, it does make sense.

What about your favourite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD