#382: The Review

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Here’s a question I’ve thought about but haven’t come to an answer yet. Should I review games more professionally? Like, as an actual game reviewer, rather than just talking about them briefly and then casting them aside in a blog post to be remembered possibly years later?

I’ve thought about this before, but it’s never really resonated the most with me. I think part of the reason for that is because of how toxic the community involving game reviews can be. It’s not like if I put out a score, everyone in the world is going to throw down and attack me, but it’s more like, scoring something naturally invites opposing viewpoints and criticism. I don’t know if I’m necessarily looking forward to that aspect of reviewing.

When I first started writing opinion articles for Quad News in college, I did so under the impression that not many people were reading them, if at all. When I finally got my first comment on a post, it was overwhelmingly negative and contested the ideas I was positing completely. I felt like I was being personally attacked by the comment, even though it wasn’t necessarily directed at me more than it was directed at what I was saying. There is, of course, a difference between all of these things. Opinion articles aren’t the same as video game reviews, but they all depend on the premise of writing about your personal experience. Your experience can’t be wrong, and it can be different from other people, but people like to argue and nitpick and contest things for the very sake of it. Diving into that kind of professional work might prove to be too much of a task for me, but I’m interested in exploring it regardless, as a way of branching out my writing even more.

#378: The Shield, Part 2

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Here I’ll be continuing my blog about the newest Pokemon game, Pokemon Shield. I didn’t buy the double pack or the Sword edition this time, as it felt appropriate to just stick with one for now. Also, if you haven’t read the previous blog post, you might want to, just so that this one makes more sense to you. I’ll be jumping right into it.

So, another great thing about the new games is the addition of gym battles taking place in stadiums. I feel like the battles are so much more triumphant and interesting now that they’re these huge spectacles, with chanting fans and blasting music all over the place. It definitely captures the sense of a huge battle going on, and I love the atmosphere that’s created by it. I definitely endorse this game so far as being a great purchase, and I can’t wait for Alex to get the chance to play it too. She’s currently in the middle of playing Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has been a blast too.

Another great thing about the new game is all the modern conveniences added to it. Exp share is automatic now, which I know some people aren’t a huge fan of, but I love the ability to just level without having to swap my Pokemon around in the middle of a battle. It saves so much time and effort now. There’s also the Pokemon Camp, which I haven’t explored that much of yet, but it’s been nice to just interact with my little Pokemon without having to be in the middle of a huge battle. It makes playing the game seem less like a chore and more like an adventure with all these options around. I definitely support this game now that I’ve played it myself and gotten caught in all the hype.

#377: The Shield, Part 1

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So, time to talk extensively about the new Pokemon game. I know I mentioned it a bit in the previous blog post, but it’s time I actually dive into why it’s meaningful to me and how great it’s been to experience it online.

Being the kind of person who’s put himself on the Internet recently, I know for a fact how widespread the controversy involving this game has been. Half of my timeline seems to hate it, while the other half seems to really be enjoying their time with it. So many people seem to be divided on this game, mostly because of the Dex cut and some of the graphical issues going on with it. However, I’ve still been having fun with the game in spite of those issues. It’s been a blast to experience Pokemon on the big screen, and with updated graphics. The graphics aren’t outstanding, but I don’t usually play Nintendo games for those anyway. I’m here for a good time, more than I am here to marvel at the graphical fidelity of it all. There are more important things for us to worry about, to be honest, like the Dex cut, which I’m still not super happy about in spite of all the good stuff in this game.

For example, I’ve really been enjoying the wild areas. I think they’re a brilliant new addition to the games, and the ability to catch tons of different types of Pokemon all over the place, with varying levels and abilities and moves, makes the wild areas so diverse and available for anything. I love that my Shedinja is able to tank all the hits from all the crazy high-leveled Pokemon, which allows me to power level my guys super quickly through whatever obstacles are in front of them.

#376: The Handheld

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The previous blog post was about video game consoles and their various personal attachments and histories to me. This one will be about handhelds, specifically the Gameboy, GBA, DS, and 3DS. Being able to carry games around with me makes the experience of playing games that much better. I remember playing so many games on my handhelds back in the day, primarily Pokemon games. I bought the most recent Pokemon game, Pokemon Shield, on release day, and it’s been amazing so far. Can’t stress enough how good it feels to invest myself in a Pokemon game again, while other people are sharing their feelings about it all over Twitter and beyond. Pokemon is a tradition among gamers, and casual players always seem to flock to the newest Pokemon game even if they’re not huge gaming fans. It’s just a part of all this.

But back to handhelds. I’ll talk about Pokemon in another blog post, when the time comes. Handhelds are great primarily because of their portability, but the Switch, the newest console from Nintendo, sports the option to use it in handheld and TV modes. I’ve been using it primarily in the TV mode to play Pokemon, but having the option to use it differently is great regardless. I love being able to sit on the couch and play Smash Bros from time to time, you know?

I carried my Switch with me to Anime NYC 2019, but I didn’t end up using it for much. That’s because there wasn’t space on the train for us to sit down when we first took it to Grand Central. There was space on the way back, but I didn’t feel like playing at the time as I had other things on my mind that needed to be settled first. It’s crazy how our minds occupy ourselves even when we’re busy with other things.

#367: The Haunted

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Have you ever played a game called Luigi’s Mansion? It’s one of my favorite games of all time, and I think I’ve written about it before. Regardless, I’ll be writing about it again, and hopefully under a new title this time!

Luigi’s Mansion is one of those games where, regardless of how many times you play it, the gameplay never gets old. It’s a game whose gameplay is timeless and plays fluidly regardless of what year you’re playing the game in. The core of the game, sucking up ghosts into your super-powered vacuum and turning them into portraits at E Gadd’s lab, has stayed the same throughout all of its iterations. But the nature of the game has adapted over time, leading us to Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has really turned the series back to its roots more than before. Instead of it being about five different haunted places with individual levels and segments between each place, this new game returns to one big haunted place for you to explore and discover treasure inside. It’s truly capturing the feel of the original in a way that makes me pretty happy.

Luigi’s Mansion also has some personal history behind it, and I think I’ve mentioned this in the other blog post I did about the game. My friend Jimmy and I used to speed run through the game, and we took turns beating each other. I used to beat him more often than not, though, and I learned the ins and outs of the game quickly. It’s the kind of game that incentivizes multiple playthroughs because you earn a larger and more elaborate mansion at the end depending on how much money you collected and how rare the portraits are. Essentially, the game may be short, but you are expected to play it more than once to get the full experience. I kind of love that about games.

#360: The Xbox

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Get it? Because it’s #360 and the Xbox 360 was the previous generation’s console title?

Before I became a huge PC gamer, I was invested in my Xbox 360, a white and grey-colored console that sometimes flashed red with the ring of death whenever it screwed up. I used to play tons of games on it, namely Rock Band 2 with my friends at sleepovers and gatherings, Gears of War 1 and 2 with other friends during other gatherings, and Halo 3. I’ve talked about Halo in a previous blog post, I’m sure, and I think it was #343 (because of the number again.) Halo was meaningful to me in so many ways, and I couldn’t begin to encapsulate it all in 300 words. But today I’ll be discussing some of the other games that mattered to me on that console.

Castle Crashers, which wasn’t exclusive to the Xbox but I owned via the Live Store, was how I spent many nights of the week online. Bashing and crashing monsters and foes of all types with my trusty sword (or other weapons, who knows) was one of my favorite pastimes. I liked going into the desert levels especially, because there were tons of foes to fight and they served as great practice dummies. To me, sometimes the simple things matter the most.

I also played a ton of Worms: Revolution, another game that wasn’t exclusive to the Xbox but I owned anyway. My friends and I had tons of fun nuking each other across the map with missiles and projectiles and other ridiculous, wacky weapons. The game had a light-hearted feel to it and everything worked together well. I would still recommend it, to be honest, even though I haven’t touched it in years. It has a lasting appeal that’s memorable to me regardless. I also used to play it with some of my Twitter friends.

#344: The Halo, Part 2

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This post is a continuation from my previous one, so if you haven’t read that one yet, you might want to so that this one makes sense to you.

Halo 3 forge mode changed my life, the same way playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare made me one with the cool kids at school I wanted to be friends with. It felt like I was on the same level as them, and my skill in this game mattered to them in some ways. If I did well in Call of Duty or Halo, that meant I was skilled and they would respect me in some way. Video games were then an avenue towards social acceptance. My parents likely didn’t realize this connection at the time, but when I was online playing multiplayer matches on my Xbox on the living room TV, it was because I saw it as a way for me to make unlikely friends. Even to this day, video games have brought together people and communities I didn’t realize were possible.

Halo is where all my high school friends played. It feels so nostalgic to me not necessarily because of the game’s quality, but because it represents something to me, an era of gaming, that’s passed and won’t be repeated again. We’ve all moved on and lead different lives than we did then, and I don’t have the contacts of everyone I used to have. Joe, for example, and Steve are nearly impossible to communicate with these days, and they were both a huge part of that time period of my life. It’s odd to think back on those days and the people I spoke with then, how drastically that has changed from here to now. I talk to different online friends, and times have changed with my habits and proclivities.

#334: The Back Tattoo

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I’m pretty sure I’ve already written a blog post called “The Tattoo,” and in order to avoid repeating myself over and over again, I came up with a new title for this one, called “The Back Tattoo.” And I actually have pictures this time to match the description I’m giving it! So I’m excited about that.

Over this past weekend, Alex got a new tattoo, this time of our shared favorite character from the Persona 5 video game, Makoto Niijima. Makoto is the student council president of the game’s high school setting, and she joins the Phantom Thieves as their adviser and planner. She’s strong, smart, and deeply loyal and caring towards the people she loves. She’s also totally badass and comes up with brilliant plans that ultimately save people’s lives. As a character, I’m a huge fan of hers and so is Alex. When we were playing Persona 5 over the summer together, it was fun to talk about the characters and share elements of the story with each other. I used to text Alex pictures of their text conversations and general story happenings to keep her in the loop on things, and Makoto was one character that Alex seemed to take more of an interest in.

Having a smart character balance their maturity with their desire to fit in with others makes for a super relatable story. As you can see in the tattoo though, she’s definitely not the kind of character to pull punches. She enters the fray with nuclear magic, aikido training, and her overall intelligence to strategize and assess the situation. Now that she’s in tattoo form on Alex’s body, it’ll always be a reminder of the strength that’s required to survive and how powerful she really is. I’m super excited to see it finished in November when all is said and done.

#328: The Subscription

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Paying a subscription to a service feels like having partial ownership of it, depending on what type of service you’re paying into. If it’s something like Hulu or Netflix, I can’t say for sure how that feels, but it’s not the same as say, owning a subscription to World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. In those games, you are a paying customer, and you get to pay with your wallet if things don’t go according to what you like. You have to, really, because ultimately you need to justify the extra $15 or so you’re paying a month towards something. If you’re living a frugal lifestyle, that $15 could be going towards groceries or gas or insurance or what have you, but instead you’re paying it towards a temporary permission slip to play a game. Is that entirely fair?

In my opinion, yes, because they fill the games with enough content and replayability to make it all worth it. If you are frugal, then of course it doesn’t work for you, but for me, I can give away a little bit of money a month to make sure I have a stable gaming community with my friends. Sometimes just being part of a group that’s larger than your own fills you with the right kind of team spirit to continue forward.

Being a part of a guild, which I’ve spoken about before on here, is a great feeling when the guild is active and supportive of each other. Paying money to get that access is totally normal, at least in my opinion. Money shouldn’t be an obstacle to that kind of social interaction, but I understand that Blizzard needs to keep their immense server database running somehow.

And if you’re wondering about this day’s picture, it’s because I searched “sub” and then “boat” and then chose something pretty. That’s all it takes!

#326: The Claw

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Using the clutch claw in Monster Hunter: World is going to be subject of this latest blog post, because I’m running out of ideas! Here’s the first picture I saw that works for “monster” in the free photo library.

The clutch claw is one of the latest additions to the game with the Iceborne expansion, and it promises to make up for the changes Capcom made to flash pods in Master Rank missions. They nerfed flash pods so that they don’t down flying monsters any more, so the clutch claw was added as a way to compensate for the changes. It’s a fantastic mechanism that allows you to tenderize certain key parts of monsters while also forcing them to drop slinger ammo. Many weapons received new moves in Iceborne, and a lot of them involve using slinger ammo for the first time in an effective, strategic way. I like being able to use the slinger burst with my greatsword, for example. It’s an incredibly powerful move and it enables me to do lots of damage by sacrificing my slinger ammo in the process. Without the clutch claw, I’d often not have enough ammo to use to make the move work.

The clutch claw also has a move that allows you to slam a monster’s head into a wall or terrain, like a tree or something like that. I haven’t quite mastered that move because it’s a bit complicated and you need to be very careful with how you use it, and carefulness and caution aren’t exactly my strong suits. But I still try my best, and with the help of some guiding videos on the Internet I’ve been able to learn the ways of the clutch claw. Capcom really made this game difficult to compensate for its aura of epicness. And it works!