February may be the shortest month of the year, but one couldn’t say it wasn’t eventful.
At the Movies:
This time of year is generally not a great period for films, as the Oscar season ensures the domination of the previous year’s nominations, and studios usually conserve their best material for the warmer months. Nonetheless, I still managed to see at least three films worth watching. First up was Pad Man, a film inspired by a real-life social activist who introduced low-cost hygienic products to a rural India. Next up, the Marvel Cinematic Universe managed to issue one of the finest films in their canon, Black Panther. It is easily my favorite film of 2018 so far, and I’m glad it was such a hit. Finally, after the mediocre Ex Machina, those same people managed to bounce back with the surprisingly good Annihilation. Admittedly, it was probably my least favorite film of the three, as the narrative unabashedly indulges in some of the more tedious sci-fi trends of the current era, but unlike a significant chunk of its contemporaries, the writers kept them in check for the most part. Plus, they didn’t resort to a puerile viral marketing campaign this time, so there’s that.
After causing my readers to question what I was thinking the previous month when I played and reviewed Ride to Hell: Retribution and Ninjabread Man back-to-back (spoiler alert: I’m not sure myself), I decided to get February off to a positive start by reviewing one of my favorite indie games: OneShot. This is one of those titles best experienced as blind as possible, so if you’re at all interested in trying it out, go ahead and do so. All I’ll say in this post is that this is exactly the kind of storytelling I look for in video games.
I originally intended to review OneShot at the end of January, but I couldn’t find the time to write it during that week. Getting back on track, I then followed it up by reviewing the third Ace Attorney installment, Trials and Tribulations. Many people consider it the high point of the franchise, and I can see why that is. Even during my first playthrough, I could tell far more effort went into it than into the entirety of Justice for All. It would appear that a longer development cycle works wonders for the creative process. Either way, though I wouldn’t call it my absolute favorite installment, the praise it gets is well-deserved.
Keeping true to my established pattern this year, I followed that up by reviewing The Wind Waker. Even all of these years later, I still remember personally witnessing the cacophonous backlash to the art style. I very specifically recall one person writing (as Link) something along the lines of “I look like a girl. Please change me back”. That was a strange time for Nintendo, as it seemed as though people didn’t have faith in their ideas. True not all of them were winners, but I later learned that everyone expected Metroid Prime to fail… and it became known as one of the greatest games of all time. Having not learned their lesson, many of the fans’ adverse reaction to The Wind Waker caused sales to slump slightly. It too became known as one of the greatest games of all time. By now, I think most people should accept you’re betting against the house when you’re expecting Nintendo’s biggest projects to be disasters. Then again, a lot of people thought Metroid: Other M was going to be good, and that remains one of Nintendo’s worst games. Either way, though I wouldn’t be quick to consider The Wind Waker one of the best games ever made myself, it is a classic game worth playing, and its design almost serves as a rough precursor to the superb Breath of the Wild.
After that, I had to go and ruin my streak of positive reviews by discussing the appalling Call of Duty: Ghosts. I can imagine some diehard Call of Duty fans would’ve been less than pleased with my 2/10 ruling. For what it’s worth, I could assure them that it received the grade in the same way Metroid: Other M did – by hampering a serviceable game with an awful narrative. Considering the various reasons why I’ve failed games in the past, it really says something about Call of Duty: Ghosts that the least awful aspect about its narrative is that it doesn’t jibe with the medium. As I said in my review, I am sorely disappointed by the critics at the time. Had this been a product of a no-name company, they wouldn’t have been nearly as kind; they would’ve deservedly called it out for its treasure trove of unfortunate implications.
Though I have been tagged multiple times with these various blogger awards, I finally got around to actually answering one when The3rdPlayer nominated me earlier in the month.
Inspired by the various questions other enthusiasts have posted on their sites and the warm reception of that post, I started a new series wherein I put my own spin on the concept. The concept is simple – I ask a question and you can either respond to it in the comment section or on your own blog. Naturally, I’ll participate too, and I’ll try to answer the question using as many mediums as possible. I decided to start things off on a positive note by asking you all about works that lived up to the hype. The following week, I turned the question on its head, asking you which ones utterly failed to live up to expectations.
I was surprised that these non-review posts have done so well, so now my plan is to post new content twice per week. I intend to post new reviews during the weekend (ideally on Saturday). During the week, I’ll post something else with a question for the readers being my standby if I don’t have anything else planned (i.e. an editorial, update, second review, or any other special post). Depending on how fast I write these reviews, these plans might end up changing; we’ll just have to see how it goes.
The Western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 may’ve been an oddball in the series (also, it was a reskinned version of an entirely different game), but many people have fond memories of it. Mr. Wapojif (a.k.a. The Profession Moron) is one of them, and this month, he wrote a really good piece on the subject sure to bring back a lot of good memories for those who grew up in that era.
Admittedly, I’ve only ever played one game in Sega’s Phantasy Star series to completion: Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium. Even so, I really enjoyed reading The3rdPlayer’s excellent retrospective of the original Master System game as well as its first sequel, both of which managed to play around with the JRPG formula in such forward-looking ways. When solely examining their narratives, it’s hard to believe they originated from those respective years.
Meanwhile, in his review of Lost Sphear, Mr. Panda explains why seeking to create a nostalgic throwback may not always be a good idea. He makes the compelling argument that doing so often costs the game its identity – which is not good even if it’s a quality product.
Next, Adam Dawson (a.k.a. the Video Game Virtuoso) recalls the moment he fell in love with gaming. The game responsible for this was Half-Life 2. Though I myself wouldn’t play it until 2011, he manages to perfectly capture the experience of playing this classic game for the first time. It’s really worth checking out.
Dan at nowisgames.com asks a question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point: is playing a game for over one-hundred hours something of which should be proud or ashamed. Though embarrassed that a colleague of his introduced him to a third party only to point out that he poured 1,000 hours into Borderlands 2, said colleague countered it, claiming that he should be proud. In any case, his take on this conundrum is also worth looking into.
We can all point to a collection of games that shaped the kinds of enthusiasts we are. Chris Scott over at Musings of a Grouch, inspired by a random person on Twitter disgruntled that Tetris took the top spot in Polygon’s list of the 500 Games of All Time over Mass Effect 2 or The Last of Us (which I still think is strange considering it’s nowhere near the most untoward thing penned by a gaming journalist), decided to create a list of the top ten games that influenced him the most as an enthusiast. There’s quite a lot of variety on the list, including Final Fantasy, Super Mario Bros., and of course, Tetris.
Finally, Mr. Hossan over at Comma Eight Comma One wrote an excellent, detailed review of Owlboy, an indie game that garnered a lot of adoration back when it was released in 2016. Playing this game is definitely on my to-do list; I’ll get around to it sometime this year because I did find what little I played of it interesting.
The two games in my Ace Attorney/Zelda itinerary for March are Apollo Justice and Four Swords Adventures. Before I get into those games, I’ll post a review I have been working on. It’s of a first-person shooter known as Haze. It was billed as a “Halo killer” by some media, but whether or not it was successful is obvious by this point. All I’ll say right now is that the time it has taken for me to review it has already eclipsed the length of my playthrough – that right there should give you an idea of what to expect.
Links to my reviews:
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
Links to my other posts:
Well, that’s it for the month. Anything interesting going on with any of you?