With the holiday finally upon us
hopefully everyone will get the fuck off the roads it’s time to focus on what matters most.
I’ll be heading out of town to spend Christmas with my family in Maryland, so I’m not sure I’ll get around to anything barring a few rounds of Fire Emblem: Awakening. But I *did* make some progress on my backlog over the last few days. So ho-ho to that.
For starters, I finished The Last Guardian. Like I said in my 10 Favorite Games of 2016 post, despite its myriad technical issues, it’s a masterclass in environmental design, character building, and storytelling. Although I placed it just below Final Fantasy XV on my overall list, I still feel it’s the most memorable game I played this year.
The bond between the unnamed boy and Trico is unmatched, which is something anyone can relate to if they’ve ever had a new puppy come in to their lives. The Last Guardian’s tale of sorrow, trust, and survival lead to a finale that had me weeping in to my hands more than I care to admit.
Every console generation has that one game that comes along and sticks with you forever. 10 or 15 years from now when I think back to the PS4, I’m almost positive The Last Guardian will be that game. Just like Ico was on PS2.
Since I knew that I was going out of town for a few days, I didn’t want to jump in to anything substantial or story-focused. I decided to put World of Final Fantasy aside until I return, instead playing through a smaller indie game on PS4 called Beyond Eyes.
It’s a brief 2-hour game about a blind girl in search of her missing cat. Given that she’s blind, however, the world takes on a white hue until she gets close enough to decipher the goings on around her. It’s similar to The Unfinished Swan (a game in which you color an all-white environment by lobbing ink-filled balloons in order to see its walls and platforms), though nowhere near as interesting or enjoyable.
Nani moves at a snail’s pace (again, blind) but has a bad habit of getting stuck on just about everything. It’s not always clear where to go next either, so fumbling around the environment sticking to every tree or bush I came across wasn’t exactly engaging. It’s a sweet idea though.
Sometimes Nani will hear noises or take in smells and the environment will reflect that to the player. What looks like stacks of fish-filled crates could eventually turn in to an open sewer drain if she ventures close enough. The watercolor aesthetic works really nicely as well, but the core experience just wasn’t executed very well.
After grabbing all of the trophies in Beyond Eyes, I moved on to the Metal Slug Anthology on PS4. This beast of a collection packs in Metal Slug 1-6, along with Metal Slug X. It’s currently $8 on PS4 as a digital download until Tuesday, and man, what a wonderful batch of games this is.
To my knowledge, all of the games but 6 are NEO-GEO ports, while 6 is an actual arcade port. And I love me some SNK games on NEO-GEO.
If you’re unfamiliar with Metal Slug, it’s a 2D shooter (along the lines of Contra) filled with brilliantly crafted pixel art, ridiculous humor, and local couch co-op. The first game in the series is relatively straight forward, running and gunning down bad guys in a batch of cliche militaristic settings.
Metal Slug 2 is when everything gets absurd.
There’s weaponized camels, dudes getting eaten by killer whales, babies getting bounced around from explosions, poop collectibles, and ALIENS! It’s so good!
I played through the first two games last night in one sitting, and started up Metal Slug X before falling asleep. They’re short and sweet, and perfect games to knock out whenever I have some free time.
Another short-burst game that I’ve been coming back to is the gravity platformer VVVVVV, which is part of this month’s free Vita games through PlayStation Plus. It’s a 2D game where you navigate a maze-like map in search of your missing crew members (whose names all start with the letter ‘V’, hence the name of the game), but there’s a catch: rather than jumping, your button presses move your character from the floor to the ceiling.
The trailer above is from the Ouya version, but you get the idea.
Outside of playing games, I’ve been watching a few good Let’s Plays on YouTube. Also, now that I’ve finished The Last Guardian myself, I can finally binge watch Christopher Odd’s playthrough. I’m also in the middle of Luckless Lovelocks’ blind run (meaning he’s never played it before) of Shadow of the Colossus, which is one of my favorites from the PS2-era.
Apparently I’m drawn to Canadian YouTubers, as both Mr. Odd and Luckless are from Canada, as well as fellow blogger-turned-streamer/YouTuber Hungry Goriya. I love watching playthroughs of classic games as much as I hate loud and obnoxious narrators, and became sucked in to HG’s playthrough of the NES classic Faxanadu because of their overall knowledge of the game, their relative thoroughness, and just how chilled out and pleasant the narration was.
Along with her boyfriend, she runs the retro game collection blog Hungry Goriya here on WordPress and has recently started streaming some of their collection on Twitch/posting episodic Let’s Plays on their YouTube channel. It’s still fairly new, it seems, but there’s a fun playthrough of The Legend of Zelda and the Sega Master System RPG Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord that I recommend checking out. Not only am I insanely jealous of their retro collection, but her videos and streams have introduced me to games that I never even knew existed!
Once again I’ve not read anything new this week, unless the art book for Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir counts.
What about you folks? Are you gaming over the holiday? What else have you go planned? I know holidays aren’t easy for everyone. This is my first Christmas without my dad, which is weird to think about. If you’re alone this weekend, do something that makes you happy. Celebrate with yourself with games and snacks and booze (if you so choose–hey! that rhymed!)!
However you spend the holiday, I wish you all the best!