Monday, January 3, 2022

30 No Context Life Lessons from Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise is easily my game of the year for 2021. I loved it, I got the Platinum trophy in it, and I miss it already. If you want to hear me talk a lot about it, check out the Chance Time Podcast.

Because I've talked so much about it there, and because blogs are a pretty outdated format now and this is likely the last year I'll do this, instead of typing a whole gushing review about this game and how great it looks every second and how I like literally every character and how the combat might not be for everyone but I couldn't get enough of it, let's just cut to the fun stuff. Below I give you 30 life lessons from Tales of Arise with no context whatsoever, in order of increasing seriousness. Please enjoy.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hades: Hell is Kind


Hades is my game of the year for 2020. Honestly, I like it more than any game that came out since 2015's The Witcher 3, and even then I think there's a good argument to say I like Hades more. And I'll be very surprised if anything comes out in 2021 that I like more than Hades. I love this game, and I'll love it for a long, long time because not only was it entertaining and inspiring, it helped me realize something about myself that feels like a key to my whole personality--something that's been part of me for years but I've never been able to explain until now. Until Hades.

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Games That Mattered To Me in 2020

2020 was a terrible year for a lot of people. For me, it was fine, but it was hard to watch how bad it was for so many other people, and it was especially hard to constantly argue about COVID, politics, racial justice in America, and the other big topics that made 2020, 2020. 

But while everything else fell apart, videogames showed up this year in a big way. 2020 was a great year for games. And of all the great games that came out this year, seven in particular added a lot to my life. Let me tell you just a little bit about each one here, and I'll do a deep dive on my personal game of the year, Hades, in another post.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

(Some of) The Birds of Super Mario Odyssey

 Thanks to my three-year-old son Ryan, Super Mario Odyssey is now the only game I have ever 100% completed...twice. We had a bit of a rough patch this year where he decided the most fun thing to do in Mario Odyssey was to restart from the beginning, and even though the kid can't read, he did figure out how to navigate through four submenus to delete my save file and start a new game. And then Nintendo very helpfully overwrote my cloud backup with his new game.

So, we played the whole thing again. This was probably for the best, because my boy is very into Mario, and it's much more fun for him when there are moons to collect. It's so boring after you finished the whole game and already found all 999 of them. So, yeah, let's start over!

When you play a game as much as I've played Mario Odyssey, you start to notice little details you didn't see before. And when you're me--especially this year--the little details you notice are birds. Shockingly, I was not able to find a list anywhere on the internet identifying the real species behind the birds in Super Mario Odyssey, so it is now my moral imperative to create it. Here we go.

Monday, January 6, 2020

AI Dungeon 2: A Buggy, Incomplete, Inconsistent, Mind-boggling, Breathtaking Look at the Future of Entertainment

In September 1996, Nintendo released the Nintendo 64. Along with the release came Super Mario 64, the first 3D Mario game. Overnight, Mario discovered depth. No longer was he bound to left, right, up, down. Now the in-game camera could circle around him 360 degrees, and Mario could move through doors, up trees, down slopes, under water, and more. It's rare to have such an exact moment to point to when things changed, but it's accurate to say that after September 29, 1996, Mario, Nintendo, and videogames would never be the same.

That moment often gets talked about in games circles in wistful tones. Never again has a technology jump been so immediate and so groundbreaking. Never again has the next console generation felt so totally new. Instead, changes since then have been more incremental. Graphics get a little better every year. Processing power gets a little faster. There's a few more objects on screen. Nothing totally groundbreaking, just a little better every year.

Until 2019. June one month ago, I was lucky enough to have a moment that felt like a Super Mario 64 moment. Only time will tell, but I'm pretty sure we'll look back on AI Dungeon 2 as a moment where something very, very big changed in videogames--and all entertainment, for that matter.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Never change, Pokemon (with special guest, Dragon Quest XI)

Pokemon is like the Olympics for me: it comes around about once every four years, and when it does, it's all I care about for about two weeks. Then it goes quiet again and I don't really think about it much until the next one. But I love it so much every time.

For a lot of other people, though, Pokemon isn't the Olympics, it's life, and they're getting pretty frustrated about going in the same circle over and over again for 20+ years now. A lot of those kinds of fans see Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield as ignorant, lazy, wasted opportunities that don't understand the fan base. On the contrary, I'm pretty sure these games know exactly who's playing them, and it's doing it's best to not-so-politely ask them to move on because this has always been a "children's entertainment property."

**If it's even possible to spoil a Pokemon game anymore, this is your warning that I will now be "spoiling" Pokemon Sword/Shield**

Friday, January 3, 2020

Chess: 1500 Years Young

Have you ever been a chess player? I don't mean "have you ever played chess?" Everyone has played chess once or twice in their lives. I mean, have you ever determined, intentionally, "I'm gonna be a chess player. I'm going to really learn how to play."

I tried that for the first time this year. I think you should too.