February 2018 in Summary

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.

Reviews:

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.

Other posts:

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.

Featured articles:

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.

What’s next?

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:

Links to my other posts:

Well, that’s it for the month. Anything interesting going on with any of you?

28 thoughts on “February 2018 in Summary

  1. Well, first- I’m glad you enjoyed the Phantasy Star retrospective, and hopefully the third one will be up soon! It’s been a fun series to research and write on so far, and they’ve been much more interesting than I originally thought they would be to play through.

    I’m looking forward to the reviews you’ve got slated- especially since I’ve already learned so much about the Phoenix Wright games on what I’ve gotten to read so far!

    You may have inspired me to do my first month in review with this. Thanks for the mentions, and looking forward to more from you in March!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! You’re doing a great job so far. I’ve only played the fourth one and part of the first, but your retrospective does make me want to try the other games out so I can review them as well.

      Feel free to use the idea. I’ve seen other people on WordPress do these monthly updates, and I thought it was a good idea because it allows readers to catch up.

      You can be sure there will be more articles to come in March!

      Like

  2. Thank you for the shoutout! I appreciate it very much! 😀 February was short, but it indeed has been eventful! Also, Phoenix Wright is one of my favorite series of all time, and Trials and Tribulations is definitely an amazing finale to the trilogy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! After abandoning it for about a year, I decided to get back into reviewing the Ace Attorney series. Along with the Zelda series, I intend to review every game I’ve played this year. So far, I’ve reviewed Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations. A lot of people consider the latter one of the greatest games in the series, and for some time I would’ve agreed. I feel it’s been surpassed, though it remains a solid experience either way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shout out! I haven’t gotten as much game time as I’d like through February. Though Nintendo kept me logged onto Splatoon 2 with the constant free maps, weapons, and Splatfests. So I managed to play a fair amount of that in between working, and reviewing.

    As discussed in your appraisals of Wind Waker, and the initial Metroid Prime, people often forget how many great games come out of that company when they go out of left field (Cel shaded Zelda game, First-Person Metroid) or out of their element (Splatoon). Even though the Wii mote was derided for not being “Press buttons like always”, and the Wii was derided for not being “Nintendo 360” it still became the must-have console of its generation, and made them a killing in the process.

    Even though the Wii U fell far short of sales expectations, Nintendo’s developers made some really amazing titles on it. So if they ever do “Photorealistic Kirby because why the hell not? Edition” chances are it’s going to make a believer out of people. That said, I really hope they bring out an F-Zero on the Switch. Even if GX on the Gamecube is hard to top.

    Anyway, keep the articles coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will do!

      Yeah, I think enthusiasts just have to accept that assuming Nintendo’s latest wacky idea is doomed to fail is basically betting against the house at this point. Sure, they may be right once in a blue moon (i.e. Metroid: Other M), but whether they’re willing to acknowledge it or not, they just look foolish every single time.

      Like

    • I think you might actually be right. In every other month that involved me reviewing four or more games, I tended to mix it up a bit more so none of the score colors (positive/mixed/negative) got to dominate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, that’s what Chris said in his post. I think he said that person was saying that those games deserved to be recognized because they were newer and therefore superior efforts (or something like that – sadly, I didn’t see the Tweet myself). Coming from someone who is not biased in favor of the eighties or nineties (unlike 95% of independent critics), that was a woefully misguided assessment. I haven’t played Mass Effect 2, but there’s no question that Tetris is better than The Last of Us. It’s no contest, really.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the Mass Effect games are good (though admittedly I haven’t beat any of them, and have no plans to play Andromeda anytime soon), but what have they accomplished that’s greater than what Tetris has done? Unless you’re one of those people who just thinks “narrative game = automatically superior” it would be hard as hell to argue Mass Effect is more influential than Tetris. People who know nothing about video games know what Tetris is. Who except someone who invests a lot into games would know who Commander Shepard is? And considering that Andromenda seems to have effectively killed the series whereas Tetris is still released on every platform known to man 30-odd years later, which one is boasting the longevity?

        And I’d really like to know what the hell The Last of Us accomplished to supposedly make it so “influential?” I’m someone who actually enjoyed the game (though I fully understand your complaints with its narrative, which have even made me rethink many of its aspects in that department myself), but even I can tell you it really didn’t do anything influential. Again, we go back to the “more story = good story” scenario methinks. And that certainly isn’t the case.

        Honestly, I think Tetris is only rivaled by Super Mario Bros. in the influence/impact department. And as I’ve stated in the past, Super Mario Bros., while holding up incredibly well, was bettered by its sequels, while once again, Tetris is still released on modern hardware with no real changes made to the formula. That says a lot for how impactful it was/is.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that you mention it, it looks like you ended up reducing the score you gave The Last of Us from a 9.0 to an 8.5. Was that really because of my review?

          Anyway, I think there’s an elephant in the room when it comes to the subject of the overwhelming praise The Last of Us gets. It’s not just that The Last of Us is considered a masterpiece, it’s that a lot of people need it to be considered a masterpiece in order for games to be looked at as a legitimate cultural cornerstone. If there’s anything wrong with that premise, then those who declared it gaming’s “Citizen Kane moment” (which would’ve been an inane statement even if the game was good) were wrong, and the medium gets knocked back to square one wherein it continues to wallow away in irrelevance. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to genuinely like The Last of Us, but I get the feeling some people who would normally loathe the kind of rhetoric it preaches forced themselves to like it for the sake of preserving the medium’s place as a cultural cornerstone.

          Whatever the case may be, I also have to say you’re right to question The Last of Us’s influence on the medium. I find it interesting that very few companies have made games in the exact same style as Naughty Dog. Alternatively, they have, but haven’t met the same amount of critical and commercial success. I could envision somebody making the argument that the reason why this is has to do with the rest of the AAA industry not being on the level that the Naughty Dog writing staff is on. This would appear to be a solid argument on the surface, but I think the reason why so few developers take cues from Naughty Dog is because, at the end of the day, they’re not leaders – they’re followers. It’s true that AAA narratives became more openly dark and cynical after The Last of Us, but they were already heading in that direction on their own and I don’t even think Naughty Dog’s supposed magnum opus can be credited with speeding up the process.

          Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with the fact that we really can’t gauge the influence The Last of Us will have on the medium considering that only five years have passed whereas Tetris’s influence is evident by this point, but I don’t think it’s a good sign for Naughty Dog’s long-term appeal. By contrast, look at Dark Souls. It took a few years for it to snowball in popularity, but I remember people holding the same amount of enthusiasm they would normally have for a game on launch day three years after its release. That right there is the sign of a game that people should take cues from, and they have. Indeed, I remember being thrilled that Breath of the Wild had a combat system that wouldn’t feel out of place in Dark Souls.

          Liked by 1 person

          • While it’s true that TLoU is only five years old, it’s like you said, Dark Souls isn’t much older, and its influence is far more prevalent than Last of Us by a long, long shot. And though I was a kid at the time (and not born when the original SMB was first released), it was obvious to see how many games were trying to replicate Mario just a few years afterwards.

            Indeed your review was part of what made me change the score around, and I have thought about changing it further to an 8.0 (though I’m trying to stop changing scores, exceptions being games that change drastically with updates).

            Breath of the Wild’s familiarities with Dark Souls were indeed one of its strongest suits.

            Liked by 1 person

            • When someone finds something that works in this medium, everyone wants to throw their hat in the ring. That can be good or bad, but the good trends tend to have more staying power. Bad trends might stick around for a while, but once developers realize they don’t work, they usually drop them straight away.

              For that matter, despite Undertale being only three years old, I feel its influence can already be felt, but in a more esoteric way. That’s because I feel that it was responsible for people giving story-heavy games a chance in the following years – even more so than The Last of Us considering its storytelling fully embraced the medium’s identity. I wouldn’t be surprised if its success was at least partially responsible for OneShot getting that “Overwhelmingly Positive” ranking on Steam.

              Part of what made me re-review the Earthbound trilogy was that my opinions of them changed quite a bit. My original review of Earthbound Beginnings wouldn’t have made any sense when I changed it to a 5/10, for example. If you feel The Last of Us is worthy of an 8.0 or lower and want to rewrite the review with your new opinions in mind, I think that would make for an interesting read.

              I will be sure to highlight that when I finally get around to reviewing Breath of the Wild!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Well said. I do think I will tweak my TLoU review at some point. I do admit that the benefit of being an independent reviewer in written form is you can more easily showcase when your opinions change. In just about any other scenario, people may just cry foul of inconsistency (which is silly, because opinions CAN change).

                It may be a bit telling about TLoU’s story that – long before I made my current site, let alone discovered yours, let alone read your review of it – I took an extended break from the story mode and just focused on the multiplayer for a good while.

                Influence can indeed be good or bad. Lest we forget the armies of goofy animals that spawned in Sonic’s wake?

                Indeed your reviews have proven influential to me, personally (along with Matt from NintendoBound). Personally speaking, I find you guys to be far better game critics than myself, as you are far more analytical, whereas my reviews may come across as overly simple at times. Definitely looking forward to your remaining Zelda reviews, as well as when you eventually get to Mario reviews. I can say I’m definitely glad your reviews got me to try out Undertale and Papers, Please. Hopefully, some of my writings entice you to some games, at least to some degree (I certainly hope you enjoy Tropical Freeze).

                Liked by 1 person

              • I think it’s gotten into the minds of some that it’s a weakness of character to change one’s mind, but I don’t think that’s the case; it means you’re open to new ideas. Granted, opinions could change for the worse, but changing one’s mind itself couldn’t really be said to be an inherently bad trait.

                Yeah, that’s not (usually) a good sign. Granted, that ended up being the case for Goldeneye, which was fun as both a single-player campaign and in multiplayer, but taking that long of a break from a story-heavy game doesn’t really speak well for how compelling it is – especially for one that attempts to pull out all the stops.

                That’s an example I point to when demonstrating my case that the nineties had just as much of a “follow the leader” mentality as the current generation of gaming. If anything, there was even more of a problem with derivative works back then due to the lack of a strong indie scene and hardware at the time being unable to bring certain visions to reality.

                Thanks! I know what you mean; I’ve found this sphere we’ve created is far more reliable for getting game suggestions than the popular independent critics or the mainstream outlets. I still think you’re selling yourself short though. Sometimes, a shorter approach is the best one.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Very excellent point. People seem to forget that opinions can change.

                Goldeneye (although I think it’s poorly aged, which I’ve said ad nauseam) was also simply telling a James Bond story. The Last of Us wants so desperately to be “gaming’s Citizen Kane” (apparently unaware that Tetris and Super Mario Bros. exist. Despite being lacking in narrative, they are probably gaming’s equivalent in terms of how they moved the art of the medium forward). So while Goldeneye’s multiplayer may have out-shined its single-player, it’s not like it was insisting on itself as an opus. TLoU was doing pretty much that, but I often got (happily) sidetracked by the multiplayer.

                Oh yes, the nineties were certainly guilty of that as well. Although to their credit, at least they were copying other games, as opposed to trying to copy movies without knowing how to translate it into a game. I can at least get a chuckle out of Bubsy’s desperation, I suppose.

                Yeah, I put far more credence to the reviews of our little reviewing circle than I do professionals, and certainly other independent reviewers. I think the only publication I still have notable admiration for is Edge, though even they have made some wishy-washy changes as of late. But at least they’re always well-written.

                I do have a tendency to sell myself short, I have to admit. I’m glad you enjoy what I write, at any rate.

                Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s