Chronicles the Peglin of Mario Kart

I should be playing more games than I am at the moment. There is a relatively slow release schedule for games I am super excited for until after PAX. Cult of the Lamb I have enjoyed a couple of streams, but don’t think I will play. Saints Row is a game I will get around to playing. Splatoon 3 is another one I will watch more than play. November on though, wow I am going to run out of backlog game time.

The distraction of a moon boot on a healing foot is still a thing though. As I start to think I have a handle on it, the discomfort changes and becomes distracting again. Just as I thought I could do the Stray speedrun trophy, I couldn’t keep my leg in the same position for more than 20 minutes. So frustrating!

The good side though is that is all that is happening – frustration. As near as I can tell, I am healing well. Work is progressing, and Rabbit and the furkids are all helping to look after me. If you would like to see how Enzo, Fitz and Harry are looking after me, check out my Instagram!

Mrio Kart 8 Deluxe

I played Mario Kart 8 to death. I managed to talk work into buying a Wii U for lunchtime racing. A couple of years later, this transferred to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my docked Switch. Adding a couple of large sessions at PAX Aus, it is fair to say that I had a lot of kart time under my belt.

When the expansion pass was announced, I was pretty “meh” about it. More tracks are nice, but the release timeline was so dragged out I was already moving on. This might sound ungrateful, but releasing a new wave of 8 tracks every 5 months is too long between releases. This is a fine line though – too soon, and you feel burned out. Too long, and you lose momentum with all but the biggest fans.

When SpookedShibe messaged me out of the blue, I had completely forgotten about the DLC. So I expected a quick bout of Mario Kart, revisiting tracks I hadn’t touched in a couple of years.

I played Mario Kart 8 to death. I managed to talk work into buying a Wii U for lunchtime racing. A couple of years later, this transferred to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my docked Switch. Adding a couple of large sessions at PAX Aus, it is fair to say that I had a lot of kart time under my belt.  When the expansion pass was announced, I was pretty "meh" about it. More tracks are nice, but the release timeline was so dragged out I was already moving on. This might sound ungrateful, but releasing a new wave of 8 tracks every 5 months is too long between releases. This is a fine line though - too soon, and you feel burned out. Too long, and you lose momentum with all but the biggest fans.  When SpookedShibe messaged me out of the blue, I had completely forgotten about the DLC. So I expected a quick bout of Mario Kart, revisiting tracks I hadn't touched in a couple of years.  /image  So when I couldn't tell where I was in the first race, I was very confused. I actually checked that I was playing Mario Kart 8. There was also a rush of excitement as I remembered the DLC was actually a thing. A few races of hectic mayhem on the couch was a fun evening!  Well, it was leading up that way. Missed messages and Xenoblade boss fights meant we started late, and at the start of race 5 SpookedShibe's Switch ran out of battery. That ruins a GP pretty quickly!  So this race lead to a bit of a reawakening for me with Mario Kart. Not enough to make me want to sit and beat the new cups, but enough to activate the expansion and think about new races. And with any luck, against some friends. Games like Mario Kart are so much better with friendly banter!
Firing up the first race, I expected more of the same

So when I couldn’t tell where I was in the first race, I was very confused. I actually checked that I was playing Mario Kart 8. There was also a rush of excitement as I remembered the DLC was actually a thing. A few races of hectic mayhem on the couch was a fun evening!

Well, it was leading up that way. Missed messages and Xenoblade boss fights meant we started late, and at the start of race 5 SpookedShibe’s Switch ran out of battery. That ruins a GP pretty quickly!

So this race lead to a bit of a reawakening for me with Mario Kart 8. Not enough to make me want to sit and beat the new cups, but enough to activate the expansion and think about new races. And with any luck, against some friends. Games like Mario Kart are so much better with friendly banter!

20220815 - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Prepare to Race
I was too busy racing to hit the capture button. A promising sign!

Peglin

Last week I talked about taking a break from Peglin. Running out of levels to defeat before new orbs, classes and levels could lead to dropping the game. (Slight spoiler – this mentality is touched on later in Mario Kart). Speaking of spoilers, there is a Peglin entry this week. Guess what I didn’t leave be?

Playing Peglin on my laptop with some background YouTube is like comfort food gaming. I don’t have to concentrate too much, letting me play tired or as a break. I can put it down unpaused for extended periods with no penalties. Peglin is a great game that I would love to see come to Switch when it is fully released. The gameplay fits the portable game factor perfectly.

20220815 - Peglin - Final Boss shenanigans
It can look overwhelming, but Peglin is so fun to watch play out.

I did play a couple of rounds with the custom start. I overpowered myself to the point there was almost no challenge to the run. That was me abusing Peglin’s options though, not a slight on the game balance. It was fun starting with a ton of health regeneration and damage potential though.

This was a run I would do back in the early Doom days, where all I wanted was to have mindless fun. Fire up Doom, and IDDQD. For Peglin, I can do this with the Custom Start. The only ‘penalty’ is I can’t get achievements, and I can’t unlock the next Criciball level. Fair trade-off in my opinion!

Do I try to finish the last Cruciball level though? Is it the last level? Might another section unlock when level 7 is complete? And the biggest question of all – do I have the ability to wait to find out?

20220815 - Peglin - Do I take the plunge
If I finish the last slice, will I ever want to come back to Peglin?

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Stuck on the couch, I have been putting a lot of time into Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I have been enjoying my 40ish hours so far, and I am currently exploring Chapter 4 of the story. Once again, every trope and cliche story-wise that I predicted has turned out to be true.

The main story element I am not more than 95% sure about so far is the identity of the Queens. There is a Queen in charge of each army, but how they tie in with the ‘true’ power structure is yet to be revealed. I have suspicions (and no I am not going to discuss them here), and it will be interesting to see how this element turns out.

Until then, I am still unlocking character powers, ways to traverse the map and the like. Even though many would think I am exploring every nook and cranny, I am leaving huge areas unexplored. It took almost 20 hours to explore the initial tutorial chapter. Exploring Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that thoroughly will take hundreds of hours.

20220815 - Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Ethel sees her colony
There is a lot more to explore than many would expect

I have been caught out with timing a few times. Some of the bigger boss battles have been taking longer as the game continues. Nothing unusual about that in itself. Xenoblade Chronicles introduces bigger and bigger enemies as the game progresses. A fight that took two minutes is in specific situations becoming closer to 15 minutes. RPGs like Final Fantasy have been doing this for years and isn’t anything new to the Xenoblade series.

After these battles usually come long cutscenes reminiscent of Hideo Kojima. Your quick game session can become an hour-long affair, with one checkpoint, one battle and a ton of video. Luckily the Switch’s suspend feature is very handy in such situations. You can pause Xenoblade Chronicles by going to the Home screen and hitting sleep, and come back later.

20220815 - Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Final Fantasy XV vibes
I get some Final Fantasy XV cooking vibes

Speaking of Final Fantasy, there are a few more similarities. The cooking in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has me thinking of Final Fantasy XV. You can buy recipes at canteens by ordering the food once. At rest stops, you can then choose to prepare food with character benefits that last a certain amount of time. This can be experience boosts, increased drop rates, that kind of thing.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also brings back a rarer mechanic involving area traversal. So far, I have learned how to climb vines, walk up sand dunes and slide along ropes. For an adventure game like Uncharted, these sound fairly standard. In RPGs though, these are common ways of stopping players without invisible walls. It’s been nice to go back and explore some earlier sections with new skills to explore more.

20220815 - Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Flame clock looking pretty low
More and more often you will find yourself out of time to play

I need to be careful though, or I will be putting in a lot more time in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 than I can budget for. I looked up how many chapters there are in the game, and it comes back as 7. So exploring Chapter 4, I am guessing I am nearing the end of Act 1 of the story.

The structure of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 I am pretty sure goes like this. Chapter 1 is the barebones tutorial and opening and Chapters 2-4 follow Act 1 of our heroes’ story. Chapters 5 and 6 is Act 2 where things are fully laid out, and facts are questioned while obstacles are overcome. Chapter 7 is the final act, where the party defeats their own individual demons to come together and save the world. Then the epilogue at the end of the game.

As I said, the story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is full of cliches and tropes. But formulaic isn’t always a bad thing, and fans of the series or RPGs in general will know what they are in for.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,

JohnHQLD