November Games - PC Upgrade

November Games

Another month without completions, can mostly put that down to my nipping off to Egypt for some winter sun. Did spend a small fortune though. On with the games.

(Also now updated the post as some old text reappeared when I posted it before, had a few weird errors on here lately)

Games played during November

Super Fantasy Zone - November Games

SEGA Mega Drive and Master System

Thanks to my OSSC purchase detailed below, I spent a healthy amount of time with my Mega Drive this month, playing a variety of both Mega Drive & Master System ROMs via my EverDrive. I think the most playtime went to Super Fantasy Zone and The Ninja. Didn’t manage to clear either of them, although I did get to the last boss on Super Fantasy Zone a couple of times. Just couldn’t remember how I was supposed to beat him.


Ticket to Ride - November Games

Ticket to Ride – Mobile & Steam

I play so much digital Ticket to Ride, I had to include it eventually. Also during November I managed to play a fair bit of the board game as well so seemed a good time. The mobile app is the best board game adaptation I’ve found, and works really well for a group of friends to be able to maintain an asynchronous turn-based game over a few days. It’s also a nice touch that I can fire it up on my computer when I’m at my desk and continue the same games.

Why not buy one of the board games?* I’ve got the Europe main game, along with Netherlands and Japan/Italy expansions.


Ritual of the Night - September Games

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Xbox One

Still playing this when I get time, it really is a worthy Symphony of the Night successor. Have almost caved and bought it on the switch a couple of times recently. Must check in on how those performance patches are coming along.

Also your apparently monthly reminder to check out the Castlevania episode of Maximum Power Up.

PS4, Xbox One and Switch versions available here* As mentioned previously, I’d skip the Switch version unless you don’t have access to the other platforms, or if the portability makes you think it’d be worth taking the performance hit.


Lego Speed Champions

Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox One

Realised I hadn’t played Forza Horizon 4 in a while, so loaded it up for a bit of a session this November. Still one of the finest racing games I’ve ever played, although I think I stopped playing because the LEGO challenges were starting to get a bit tricky!


November Pick-ups

ossc - November Games

Open Source Scan Converter (OSSC)

A bit of an extravagance this, but it sort of saved me money. I was considering one of the fancy Analogue Mega Sg systems, but the price was putting me off. However, I realised that I could get the OSSC for £100+ cheaper than one of those would cost me (factoring in international shipping and customs charges). The OSSC provides fancy up-scaling and scan-line generation like the Mega Sg, but using my existing Mega Drive & EverDrive combo. It also has the added benefit of working with my other retro systems too so a clear winner really. I just need to spend more time configuring it for the other consoles.

I got this OSSC* from Amazon, as it is open source, other people make them too and you can buy from other sources.


WarCraft III Reforged - November Games

WarCraft III Reforged – PC

I was always going to grab the WarCraft 3 remaster when it came out, as it is one of my favourite games and my all-time favourite RTS game. I just plumped for the pre-order so I could have a look at the beta. Looking forward to the full release now.


Laytons Mystery Journey - November Games

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy: Deluxe Edition – Switch

Ridiculous title aside, I really fancied this after playing it at EGX 2019. I’m having fun with it, although either I’ve got smarter since the first game, or (more likely) this is a much easier game than I remember. It’s pretty quaint anyway, and at least having bought the physical edition I can trade it in when I’m done.

Available from Amazon here*, I preordered this one as it was cheapest I could find


Blood & Truth PSVR - November Games

Blood & Truth – PSVR

Only heard really good things about this, and I loved the short “London Heist” game they put out as part of PlayStation VR Worlds. Haven’t had chance to play yet but it popped up in the Black Friday sale so looking forward to getting time with it next time I’m on the PSVR.


Spider-Man GOTY - November Games

Spider-Man: Game of the Year – PS4

Also on the PlayStation Black Friday sale, I finally picked up Spider-Man. Not sure paying extra for the Game of the Year edition with all the DLC was sensible, but here we are. Now I just need to find time to play.


PC Upgrade - November Games

PC Upgrade

So, as planned last month I did head to Overclockers Black Friday sale for my PC Upgrade. I picked up a 500GB 970 EVO Plus Samsung Solid State hard drive of the m.2 persuasion and one of the PowerColor Red Devil line of AMD Radeon 5700 XT cards. While I was at it I also upgraded my chair, to one of these fancy ones. Hopefully start to play more PC games again now and make the most of the extra firepower! I think when I next upgrade it’ll finally be time to replace the case I’ve had for so long now. The featured image for this post is the top of my current case, with the stickers that came with all the hardware it has housed along the way.

The Hard Drive* & GPU* are the same price on Amazon too


*As usual, these links are affiliate ones, which may earn me a small commission if you buy something.

October Games

October Games

October was another month where I didn’t manage any completions. I have chalked up a retirement though, but I’m hoping to come back to that one later.

Games played during October

Tetris 99

Tetris 99 – Nintendo Switch

Finally managed to stop playing this everyday, but I did go back and play quite a bit for a Luigi’s Mansion event in late October, to unlock the associated theme. I still mostly just play with the Game Boy one, but Luigi’s Mansion is cool.

If you’re in the market for a Switch Lite, the Tetris bundle* is obviously the way to go.


Civilization VI - Switch - October Games

Civilization VI – Nintendo Switch

I did only pick this up in October, but I’ve played so much I thought I should include it in this section. I’ve had a funny relationship with the Civilization series, since despite owning every one of them and most of the expansions for all of the games on my PC, I’ve played less than 6 hours total across them all. However, I did put a lot of time into Civilization Revolution on the DS and Vita, and it was this handheld fit that made me consider the Switch version. Loving it so far, and it does feel better sitting with the game in handheld mode on the sofa, rather than when sat at my PC.

Physical edition on Amazon*


EGX 2019 - PlayStation symbols

EGX

This month was EGX 2019, the Eurogamer Expo. I played a bunch of games there, and talked about them in a bit in my EGX round up post.


Ritual of the Night - September Games

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Xbox One

Made the decision to stick with the Xbox version and not bothering to restart on PC. Some ropey looking water effects aside, I think I’ve come to terms with the graphics. Still a great game and the only real “Halloweenesque” gaming I did for October.

As mentioned last month and if you do like Castlevania, please do check out this episode of Maximum Power Up I recorded with Phil. Still one of my favourites, and I intend to follow it up looking at the two Bloodstained games at a later date.

PS4, Xbox One and Switch versions available here* As mentioned previously, I’d skip the Switch version unless you don’t have access to the other platforms although it has received a performance patch though so things are improving on that front


Nitro Type - Typing Games

Nitro Type – PC

Discovered this free little browser-based gem a little while back. Competitive Typing is exactly what it is. It prompted me to finally put together my top 5 typing games post. You can play it yourself on the Nitro Type website, but you’ll need a keyboard, obviously.


Nanotale - Typing Games

Nanotale – PC

As also mentioned in my Typing Games best of, the kind folks at Fishing Cactus sent me a key for the Early Access version of Nanotale. I’ve been playing it a bit to prepare a preview post that should appear during November (Probably when I get back from my holiday).


October Pick-ups

Slay the Spire - October Games

Slay the Spire – Nintendo Switch

I did receive the PC version of this as a gift back when it was in Early Access. Slay the Spire is a great card game / adventure and a perfect fit for the Switch. I grabbed the Switch version when it went on sale, very much enjoying getting back to it.


StarCraft - Cartooned

StarCraft Cartooned – PC

Picked this up at the start of the month after having an eye on it for a while. It’s a complete “reskin” of the original StarCraft game. I’ve been promising myself a proper playthrough of StarCraft at some point, and now I think this may be the way I play.


Paper Train - October Games

Paper Trains – Nintendo Switch

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously, I do like a train game. This one is a fairly simple puzzle game but it’s the hand drawn “pen & paper” art style that sets it apart and makes it worth a look.


Scene It PS3 - October 2019

Scene It – PS3

Bit of a surprise charity shop find this, I didn’t even know Scene It had a game on the PS3. We did play quite a bit of the Xbox 360 version first time round, but this has different content to that one, and very nicely supports the Buzz Wireless Buzzers on the PS3. Great fun.


Overwatch - October 2019

Overwatch – Xbox One

Another charity shop pick up, I’m not sure I’ll play this but couldn’t leave it there for £3. I haven’t even touched the the PC version in over a year but at least I’ve got the Xbox One version as well if some of my friends drag me into it.


GoG Galaxy 2 - October Games

GoG Galaxy 2.0 Beta – PC

Not directly a game itself, but I received an invite to the beta from Good Old Games for their new “GOG Galaxy 2.0” client. I’ve already linked it to all my other PC libraries along with my Xbox and PlayStation ones. It’s nice to see everything in one place, but even better to be able to search all those games when I’m trying to check if I own something already or not…

Snapshot of my gog library - October Games
Too many games

Games retired during October

Metro Exodus – PC

Definitely intend to revisit this. With changing jobs, studying and spending 3 of the weekends during October at NFL games in London, I just haven’t had time for an in depth story game. Hoping November will involve a PC upgrade so I think I’ll come back to this then.

*As usual, these links are affiliate ones, which may earn me a small commission if you buy something.

Steel Series Apex 350 - Typing Games

All-Time Top 5 Typing Games

While the “All-Time Top” bit is just there for dramatic effect, this genre is a lot more niche than I usually talk about, so the list is probably less controversial. If you do have suggestions for typing games I might have missed, let me know. Always up for more of typing games.

My personal origin with these games was back in the 80s, when my Dad bought a Commodore PC compatible system into the house. Something similar to the below (after discussing with my Dad, we think it was most likely a PC20-III, we remember the 20mb Hard Drive), it had a black and white text based display. Gaming was limited to a Space Invaders clone imaginatively called Cash Crisis, where the Aliens were comprised of £ and $ signs, and a racing game that was part of a Typing Tutor program. More on that further down.


5) Nitro Type – Browser Game

Nitro Type - Typing Games

A very recent discovery for me, but one that quickly raced into the top 5. (ha) This is a free to play multiplayer title that is accessed from their website nitrotype.com. The game immediately evokes memories of my first typing game covered in the Other Mentions below.

If you have any interest in trying typing games, or even just want to find out what your personal typing speed is, Nitro Type is a simple and addictive place to start.


4) Typing of the Dead – DC

Typing of the Dead - Typing Games

As much as I love the House of the Dead lightgun games, it is interesting tp me that some of my favourite games in the IP are spin-off games that don’t involve shooting at all. While the Pinball game “Pinball of the Dead” is my favourite Gameboy Advance game, Typing of the Dead remains one of my favourite Dreamcast titles.

Thanks to my love of first person shooters, I quickly picked up the Keyboard and Mouse controllers for my Dreamcast, but then stumbling across Typing of the Dead meant that I spent about as much time with this as I did with Quake 3 Arena. A particular highlight was taking my keyboard to my friends house so we could play co-op. I think Typing of the Dead was probably the first of the typing games I’ve played where typing was the main gameplay mechanic.


3) Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia – PC

Textorcist - Typing Games

Another great typing game that merges Typing with another game genre, this time the combat involves “bullet hell” style shoot em up mechanics. You are dodging various projectile attacks from demons, while simultaneously typing out incantations to banish them back to hell. It’s all wrapped up in an amusing story of a bit of a rogue priest. Ray Bibbia.

Available on Steam or Good Old Games.


2) Epistory: Typing Chronicles – PC

Epistory

A surprise highlight when I played it back in 2017, Epistory is a charming isometric RPG that will immediately look familiar to fans of games like Zelda. However, while those games generally fail to capture my attention, Epistory’s typing based exploration, puzzles and combat had me hooked all the way through.

As usual, there are Steam and Good Old Games options, depending on your preference.


1) Typing of the Dead: Overkill – PC

Typing of the Dead Overkill - Typing Games

Typing of the Dead: Overkill takes the system laid out in the previous Typing of the Dead, where that game took the content from House of the Dead 2, this one is based on the Wii & PS3 game, House of the Dead Overkill. Perfectly clear, right?

There was also Typing of the Dead 2 which was based on House of the Dead 3, but that was a Japanese exclusive and without a translation remains inaccessible to me. The gameplay is much the same as the above title, but stands out in a couple of key areas. The soundtrack and overall aesthetic of Overkill is highly entertaining and works much better than the previous games “so bad it’s good” approach. Of real value though is the Steam Workshop support, that allows custom dictionarys to be added. The game takes on a new lease of life when you can play through the whole thing typing Alan Partridge quotes.

Available on Steam only, so far as I can tell.


Honorable Mentions

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing – MSDOS

Mavis Beacon - Typing Games

I couldn’t find a shot of the text only version of this that we had on our family DOS based Commodore, but although the software comprised many lessons for teaching you to touchtype, the main draw for me was a racing game. You typed the on screen text as fast as possible as your car (comprised of simple ASCII characters) raced against the computer.

I’m pretty confident that Mavis Beacon is responsible for me being able to touch type well before I was ten, and apparently Mavis is still going.


Nanotale – PC

Nanotale - Typing Games

A follow up to the previous Typing Chronicles game, Epistory mentioned above. I played this back at EGX Rezzed and fell in love again. They have been generous enough to provide me with an Early Access press key for Nanotale so I’m currently playing with that and putting together a bit of a preview post that should be out in a week or so.

You can pick up the Early Access version on Steam.


EGX 2019 - PlayStation symbols

EGX 2019 – Highlights

Big brother to the smaller EGX Rezzed event, EGX (formerly Eurogamer Expo) returned to London in 2019 after 4 years at the Birmingham NEC following the closure of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, the Expo’s former home. This was good news for me, as Birmingham always seemed a bit too much of a trek to attend, but the event was a regular calendar fixture for us in when it was in London. This year EGX took place in the ExCel centre in London Docklands, a venue I’ve only attended once previously. That time it was for Destination Star Trek in 2012, and a rare chance to see all 5 Captains from the original series up to Enterprise on stage together.

As ever, EGX 2019 still very much had a focus on big AAA games, but thankfully there is still plenty to do if you’re not into queues and the annual COD, FIFA etc. cycle. This included the usual; large indie game area, plenty of traders, a decent sized area devoted to tabletop games, a couple of bars and the less usual; a selection of tattoo artists, just in case you felt like getting some ink at the event.

EGX 2019 Pickups

Did spend a bit of money with the traders, Green Lantern tee, some cool transformers stickers, an EGX lanyard and pin badge and a couple of tabletop games. The new hotness from Days of Wonder Deep Blue, and an interesting looking Euro Card Game Oh My Goods!* The Keyforge* deck was a pleasant freebie after playing a demo game.

EGX 2019 - Pronoun badge He/Him

There were plenty of freebies in the way of badges and stickers at many of the game stands, and I did very much appreciate EGX providing free pronoun badges at the event too, would like to see that kind of thing at more of these events.


The Games

There were apparently over 250 playable games this year, even more than at Rezzed and to be honest I barely played much of any. However I did play some, and spent a bit of time watching others to make sure I at least checked out all the games I was interested in. Here’s my thoughts on those that stood out.

Hollow Knight: Silksong

Hollow Knight: Silksong - EGX 2019

The star of the show for me, and probably the game I’m most looking forward to. Certainly the only one I absolutely had to see at the event. We almost missed it, thanks to there only being one demo unit, and bizarrely they only had the Switch edition so it was hidden away in the middle of Nintendo’s presence. It is looking incredible though, and the two areas available in the demo were stunning.


Streets of Rage 4

EGX 2019 - Streets of Rage 4

I think this had the biggest queues outside of the AAA titles. There was certainly always a large crowd around it, and we couldn’t get close to try it ourselves. However, while the art style is still a bit uninspired, the gameplay appears to be very much classic Streets of Rage. Will likely pick it up at some point.


Layton’s Mystery Journey

EGX 2019 - Layton's Mystery Journey

Another one we had trouble locating after deciding we fancied having a look at it, turned out Layton’s Mystery Journey was next to Hollow Knight. I haven’t played a Layton game since the first couple on the Nintendo DS. Seeing this Switch port of a 3DS game albeit with extra content and including the DLC, made me want to play again. Certainly interested in this one.


Art of Rally

Didn’t get to play this, but I really like the style and game engine for Art of Rally. However I am concerned that as a rally game the difficulty may be a bit prohibitive for me. See my previous experiences with Dirt Rally. Looked really nice running though, and I’ll see if there is a demo I can play at home…


AVICII Invector

AVICII Invector - EGX 2019

A rhythm action game in the style of Thumper, very much enjoyed playing this. A likely purchase for me, made sweeter by 25% of the royalties going to The Tim Bergling Foundation, in honour of the late AVICII himself. They do good work.

Would really benefit from a VR version too, if there is any scope for further development.


Tracks: The Train Set Game

Always a sucker for a train game and I’ve had my eye on this for a while. Didn’t want to get stuck into a sandbox during the event, but I watched someone else building for a bit and it looks very satisfying. Only slight concern being my complete lack of creativity in these sort of experiences.


Locomotion

More trains! I did have a bit of a go on this one. While I was expecting something reminiscent of Train Valley, the puzzle elements seem a bit more physics based rather than juggling multiple trains at once.


SNOW

One to watch. I love the setting and premise for this. Never sure about including “hacking mini games” but as a four hour story game, I’m optimistic for an interesting experience a la Firewatch.


Legends of Runeterra

I hadn’t heard anything of this before we went in, but there was no queue and we do enjoy a card game. The League of Legends IP is wasted on me, but their taking aim at Heathstone is pretty transparent. Given Blizzard’s recent fall from grace and ongoing PR nightmare, the time is now if you’re going to try and take some of their audience. Time will tell how successful that is. I enjoyed the game, but I also briefly enjoyed Chronicle: Runescape Legends, Solforge, Spellweaver and Ascension. Like those games, Legends of Runeterra so far lacks Hearthstone’s polish, and similarly I expect to bounce off this one too.

EGX 2019 - Legends of Runeterra

Dino Party

A pleasantly surprising little party game we stumbled across while looking for something else. It’s an odd little racing / maze game. We played a few rounds, and depending on the price, it is something I’d like to have in my Switch library for local multiplayer.


Round up

There was just the two of us for the event this year, and attending on the Friday instead of a usual Saturday felt relatively low key. Nevertheless, we had a great time hanging out. Playing some games, drinking some beers and burning some cash on unnecessary tat. A success.

Unshaven at EGX 2019
See you next year!

*As ever, these are affiliate Amazon links, and I’ll get a small commission if you click one and buy something

September Games

September was an incredibly busy month, including me changing jobs and sitting a formal exam for a professional qualification. Won’t actually know how I did in the exam until the end of November, but at least I can look at what games I managed to play.

Games completed this month

Vermintide II – PC

This was quite the achievement, being the first game completed in co-op with my ‘semi-regular’ online gaming foursome. We rapidly discovered we weren’t up for the harder difficulties, but we had a lot of fun playing through the base game. I think we’ll look to pick up the DLC on sale and maybe come back to it later.

PS4 version on Amazon*


Games played during September

Tetris 99

Tetris 99 – Switch

A surprise update to Tetris 99 added a few new features, including daily quests to earn ‘tickets’ that can be used to purchase additional themes for the gameplay modes. It worked as intended, and so far I’ve played everyday and have completed 100% of these daily quests. I’m still yet to get a 1st place, but it is starting to feel like just a matter of time.

If you’re in the market for a Switch Lite, the Tetris bundle* is obviously the way to go.


Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 – Switch

Had a great time with this for the first few hours. I have hit the difficulty wall pretty hard though, and am struggling to level my characters up to progress. Probably just need to read some guides but I’ve put it on hold for now. I do quite fancy the Season Pass if it goes on sale, the appeal of more characters is strong.

Physical edition on Amazon*


Tesla vs Lovecraft - September Gaming

Tesla vs Lovecraft – PS4

Inspired by some of my friends playing this, I decided to go back and gradually work towards picking up the Platinum Trophy. Still a ways to go but very much enjoying having a twin-stick shooter in my gaming rotation again.

No Amazon link for this as it’s digital only, but this Lovecraft & Tesla comic* looks great…


Ritual of the Night - September Games

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Xbox One

Mentioned this one a few times on here, it was in my games to play this year plan, and I also covered it in my EGX Rezzed post. As mentioned in my Top 5 Metroidvania post I had originally intended on picking it up on Switch, but the performance issues with that port had left me in a bit of a quandary with which version to get. Fortunately this was resolved by the game being added to GamePass. I’ve been playing it on Xbox One, but while I still don’t like the graphics (and tbh the shine on the character models and the water effects look terrible to me) GamePass also included the PC version, and I’ve had a quick go on there and it seems to look much better. Just trying to decide if I can be bothered to restart it. Game is great fun though, no complaints about the gameplay.

If you haven’t already, please do check out the Castlevania episode of Maximum Power Up I recorded with Phil. Still one of my favourite episodes, and I intend to follow it up looking at the two Bloodstained games at a later date.

PS4, Xbox One and Switch versions available here* As mentioned though, I’d skip the Switch version unless you don’t have access to the other platforms


Life is Strange 2 - September Games

Life is Strange 2: Episode One – Xbox One

Another game I fired up on GamePass. It’s still good, and I’m looking forward to continuing the game. I don’t quite like the characters as much as Max and Chloe though, and it’s probably telling that this is the first episode I didn’t play in one sitting. Hoping it’ll start to grab me more as the story progresses.


September Pick-ups

Tetris 99 Big Block DLC - September Games

Tetris 99 DLC

As mentioned above I’m back on this, and the new patch convinced me to pick up the paid Big Block DLC. At £9 I felt quite happy with the purchase, as I’ve already played around 30 hours of Tetris 99. Oops. Not sure if it was just a time limited offer, but buying the Big Block DLC meant I also got DLC Pack 2 when it came out, which added some local multiplayer modes.

Physical retail edition* includes this DLC and 12 months of the Nintendo Online service


Nintendo Switch - SNES

SNES Games – Switch

Already covered this in my Ten Reasons I Own a Nintendo Switch post, but September also saw the addition of SNES games to the Switch online offering. Super Metroid can finally happen!


Puzzle Quest - September Games

Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns – Nintendo Switch

Really enjoyed the original game back on Xbox Live and the Nintendo DS, but unlike several of my friends, I never did finish it. I’ve also had some fun with the mobile Puzzle Quest games, like the Marvel and SEGA ones, but the mobile trappings of the Free 2 Play model always end up putting me off. I was very pleased to see this version come to the switch, particularly as it bundles the original DLC along with some fresh new content for this port. I probably should play something other than Tetris.


Konami Arcade - September Games

Konami Arcade Anniversary Collection – Nintendo Switch

Much like the Castlevania collection I picked up back in May this year, this line up for this collection is pretty solid. Some great games, and Haunted Castle… These were back on offer, so I thought I’d grab this one too. I almost picked up the Contra Collection to complete the set, but as discussed on the Run N Gun Podcast episode, I find the difficulty gets in the way too much with that series.

*As usual, these links are affiliate ones, which may earn me a small commission if you buy something.

Nintendo Switch

Ten Reasons I Own: A Nintendo Switch

Over 3 years since i last posted in this category, when I visited the virtues of PC Gaming. Now I’ve had my Nintendo Switch* for a while, I reached ten reasons why it’s worthwhile to me. Maybe.

It’s not my favourite platform, but it is the most convenient.


1. Golf Story

Still one of my favourite exclusives on the Nintendo Switch, and an early contender for best “Game I Played This Year”. Golf Story is an excellent RPG / casual golf game hybrid and a real joy. The top 3 points on this list are why I caved and bought the system, but Golf Story tipped it over the edge.

Golf Story – Download code*


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

2. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe

It wasn’t enough to get me to buy a Wii U (let’s be honest, it would have taken a lot) but when I finally got round to putting some real time into Mario Kart 8 I did have to concede that it’s probably the best Mario Kart yet. The main issues I had with 8 were:

  1. The bizarre juxtaposition of Mercedes product placement as DLC in the mushroom kingdom
  2. The break from the traditional mould for Deluxe on Nintendo Switch, where all the cups are unlocked immediately, taking away the joy of unlocking them as you progress.

However, I’ve since accepted 1 by simply ignoring that the vehicle is there and 2 was less of an issue once I starting playing and just approached it as I would usually. Started with the first cup on 50cc and worked my way through.

Buy Mario Kart 8 here*


Nintendo Switch - Animal Crossing

3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Yep, not even out yet (and has had further delays since I picked up my Switch). However, the trailers all look great and I can’t wait. Easily my favourite Nintendo first party IP and just the promise that it was coming was enough to influence my purchase.

Pre-order*, like me.


4. Indies Post-Vita

I never did get round to writing my “Ten-Reasons I own – PS Vita” post, maybe I’ll still get to it later. However, while the Vita was my preferred platform for lots of indie games that were available on other formats, like Limbo, Velocity, Axiom Verge, the ‘death’ of the system means that suitable games no longer receive Vita ports. The Switch has now taken this role in my house, and Hollow Knight & Timespinner are early examples of great indie games I’ve really enjoyed on there.


Virtua Racing - SEGA Ages

5. SEGA Support

As a self-proclaimed Sega Boy I do find it satisfying that some of the best games on my Nintendo Switch are from SEGA. The SEGA Ages ports are very polished, and while I’ve got (and enjoyed) a few of them, Virtua Racing stands out as a top example.


Tetris 99

6. Tetris 99

This arrived by surprise after I had already got my Switch, but it now stands as a system exclusive that could justify buying a Switch all on its own. Easily my favourite Battle Royale game, and the recent update to add achievement-like ‘badges’ and daily quests have only strengthened its position. It also made the DLC content much more appealing.

Tetris – objectively the best game of all time.

Buy the weird physical edition here* (or just download it for free if you have Nintendo Online)


Handheld games

7. Handheld Mode

I know there are plenty of people who mostly (in some cases, exclusively) play in handheld mode, but for me it represents a compromise. I’d still much rather play docked on my television, but being able to play in handheld mode when the TV is otherwise in use helps me carve out additional playtime. It’s very much a “nice to have” but not the reason for me to buy it, hence me not including the Nintendo Switch in my Top 5 Handhelds.

The Switch Lite isn’t for me, but this one is stupid pretty*

8. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Not the greatest game, but solid fun and a surprise Nintendo Switch exclusive. I really enjoyed the previous games on the Xbox and 360, and this one is more of the same. The fanservice has been updated for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the character roster is much more 2019, but it is very much the same game. I’m still having a great time with Ultimate Alliance 3.

Buy it here*


Virtua Racing Split Screen 8 Player

9. Local Multiplayer

This is a weird one, since on the surface it shouldn’t be any better than the PS4 or Xbox for local multiplayer stuff. However, for some reason, the Switch has established itself as the system of choice for local multiplayer games in my house. Granted it’s mostly my girlfriend and I playing Raging Justice or versus mode Puyo Puyo Tetris. I think it’s probably down to the start up speed, but it’s definitely an important part of the system.


Nintendo Switch - SNES

10. SNES Classics (& NES I guess)

It was a long time coming, but Nintendo didn’t disappoint when they finally got round to adding SNES games to the system. Following the “free” NES games included with Nintendo Online, Nintendo has added SNES games to the service. I’m not a big fan of most of these games, having mostly missed out on the NES and SNES first time round. However, I’m really pleased to see Super Metroid on there (as mentioned on my metroidvania post) and I do like the chance to dabble with both libraries of games essentially for free. Also my girlfriend has probably gotten my money’s worth for the online service, by just playing Dr Mario.


*affiliate Amazon links, I’ll get a small cut if you buy anything

August Games

Managed to play a reasonable amount during August, still spending a lot of time with the Switch. I am planning on a substantial PC upgrade between now and Christmas though, so I expect that’ll be where I focus my gaming time once it happens.

Games completed this month

Timespinner

Timespinner – Switch

A rare 100% completion here, including a New Game+ run. Really enjoyed Timespinner, but a lot of it was spent thinking what a great game Symphony of the Night is. A worthy tribute, as touched upon in my Metroidvania post.


Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World – Switch (SMS)

One of the first games I played on a games console, and certainly the first played on a system I owned. I finally completed Alex Kidd in Miracle World this month, some 30 years after first playing it. One of my all time favourite platform games, it only narrowly missed a place in my All-Time Top 5 games. Granted I was playing the SEGA Ages version on Switch and benefiting from some quality of life improvements, but it was satisfying to see the ending. I had previously got to the last area on occasion as a child, but didn’t understand what I needed to do.

Games played during August

Tetris 99

Tetris 99 – Switch

Another Tetris 99 event to unlock a theme took place over an August weekend, and although the theme was based on a videogame IP I don’t care for (Fire Emblem) just the prospect of unlocking something was enough to pull me back in. Very much enjoyed putting some time into this again. I bloody love Tetris. Still haven’t managed first place though.


Tiny Trax - PSVR

Tiny Trax – PSVR

I have been neglecting my PSVR. Admittedly the warmer weather had been making me less inclined to step into the headset, but the issue was more that whenever I put it on, I ended up just playing Tetris Effect and nothing else. Realised I’d bought this months (at least) ago and never even tried it. Spent some time with Tiny Trax this month and really enjoyed myself. It’s pretty much slot-car racing, with a steering mechanic to make things interesting. Also, it’s from FuturLab, the Brighton-based developer who made some of my favourite games on the Vita, always happy to show them some support.


Metro Exodus – PC

Put a few more hours into Metro Exodus during August. I am enjoying it, mostly because I like the setting and the characters. I do miss the claustrophobia inducing tunnels of the metro from the previous games, but at least there is a train. Everyone likes a train. Could do without the crafting though. Humbug.


Phantasy Star - Switch

Phantasy Star – Switch (SMS)

I played about half an hour of this, spoke to everyone in the village where I started. Entirely forgot I could save anywhere. Took one step outside the village and got murdered by a giant scorpion. Game Over. Games used to be tough, ya know? I was a bit disheartened but I shall go back and try again with regular saving (and maybe a guide).


Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect – PSVR

After my good work playing Tiny Trax, I was intending to play some more of my VR stuff. However the urge took me and I spent another 4 hours playing VR Tetris instead. No regrets! Also finally got to play in the “1989” themed levels, modelled on the original Gameboy graphics & music. It did not disappoint.

Retail version on Amazon here*. Best reason to go for the physical release for this is that if you forget to put the disc in, you might end up playing some of your other games for a change.

August Pick-ups

Warcraft 1 & 2 – PC

Warcraft 1 and 2

I never really played these properly back in the day, but have been meaning to try them properly ever since Good Old Games added them to their store. Warcraft II is still pretty playable so I’m hopeful I’ll get round to playing through that campaign. Possibly wasted my money on the first game though, not much fun to play in 2019…


Diablo

Diablo – PC

As above for this really. Grabbed it at the same time as the Warcraft bundle. Like Warcraft 1, the original Diablo is clunky to play now, but I might still spend a bit more time with it. The mechanics aren’t as bad as early RTS games.


Outrun 2, Project Gotham 1 & 2 – Xbox

I took to eBay to pick up a few basics for my recently acquired Xbox. Outrun 2 was pretty much the main reason I wanted to console so was very happy to get hold of it.


Power Rangers - Battle for the Grid

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Switch

When this first came out I was intrigued as my partner is a big Power Rangers fan and does enjoy a versus fighting game. However early reports suggested that although it was a competent game, it was let down by a lack of content. It popped up in a Switch sale recently though, for a very reasonable £15, and a quick google informed me they had since added a few new characters and a story mode to the game as free updates. Figured it was now worth a punt, and after having a quick go it does seem promising.


Just Dance 2019

Just Dance 2019 – PS4

Because fun.


Zelda Wired Pad – Switch

Not entirely happy about this one. My partner’s brother was visiting and I wanted to pick up a cheap extra pad in case we played some 3 player Raging Justice or Puyo Puyo Tetris. I left it too late to order online and my local Argos didn’t have stock for same day pick up. I was thus limited to Game and the only ones they had were this, Pokemon and Mario designs. I went for Zelda as the least visually offensive and to be fair it is a pretty good pad to use. As it happen’s my other half is a Zelda fan and really likes the design, so I’m optimistic she’ll use it and I can both get my Pro Controller back, and also stop having to detach the joy-cons when we want to play together on the TV.

They have this one on Amazon* if you want one. Can’t imagine why you would though. xD (In fairness, it is a very competent extra pad if you already have a Pro Controller)


Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 – Switch

Didn’t think I’d get round to picking this up for a while. It hasn’t reviewed particularly well, but the criticisms could largely be levelled at the two previous games in much the same way and I had a lot of fun with those. The main thing putting me off was the £50 RRP. However during August there was a “Buy one get one half price” deal on a handful of Switch exclusive retail games. Although there was nothing else in the offer that I wanted, my buddy was keen to pick up Dragon Quest Builders 2, so we grabbed both games and split the discount. Worked out about £34 each via Amazon thanks to their “slightly less than RRP” base price. (Deal has ended, but Amazon have dropped it further to £39.99* atm)

*As usual, these links are affiliate ones, which may earn me a small commission if you buy something.

Metroidvania

All-Time Top 5 Metroidvania Games

As is usual the “All-Time Top” bit is hyperbole, and this should just be read as “my 5 favourites”. Also I know it’s cool to hate on the term Metroidvania, but I like how it describes a genre so I’m keeping it.

(Any links with the * are Affiliate ones where I’ll get a commission if you click them and buy anything. I’d appreciate the commission towards hosting costs etc, however I also appreciate that ads are heinous, so don’t worry if you want to ignore them)


5) Yoku’s Island Express

Yoku's Island Express

A game I’ve gushed about on a couple of occasions. Both here on my blog, and at some length on the Video Pinball episode of the Maximum Power-Up Podcast.

Pinball and platforming isn’t entirely new, thanks Sonic Spinball, but to my mind this is the first crossover of Video Pinball and a Metroidvania. Pinroidvania? A portmanteau too far me thinks.

This is a joyful little game, and I’m really hoping we get a follow up.

Buy Yoku’s Island Express on Amazon*


4) Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge - Metroidvania

When you see below that I’ve never played Super Metroid, you’ll realise that a lot of what Axiom Verge was doing was wasted on me. However, I have seen enough Super Metroid to know that Axiom Verge is very much a love letter to that game.

I really enjoyed this anyway, and if anything it really made me want to play Super Metroid even more.

Axiom Verge on Amazon*


3) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Symphony of the Night - Metroidvania

Pains me not to put this in first place to be honest, and I certainly wouldn’t challenge someone else having it as their first choice. I love the Castlevania series, and for me this one has never been bettered.

I discussed this (and the rest of the games in the series) with Phil on the Castlevania episode of Maximum Power-Up Podcast, which was also my first appearance with the on the show.

If you fancy playing Symphony of the Night, the original PlayStation game is now rather pricey. However there are numerous digital ways to play via the Xbox & PlayStation stores. There are versions that can be played on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PSP, PS3, PS Vita and PS4.


2) WonderBoy: The Dragon’s Trap

WonderBoy The Dragon's Trap - Metroidvania

In my first draft, this was going to be number 1. Although that’s just because I started drafting this before I played the top title. WonderBoy 3: The Dragon’s Trap was my first game played in the genre, way back on my Sega Master System.

My love for it is heavily based on nostalgia, but after playing this remake when it came out on PS4, I found that my love was well deserved. Still a fantastic game today.

Wonderboy on Amazon*

1) Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight - Metroidvania

I initially resisted playing Hollow Knight, being put off by the comparisons to Dark Souls that I’d been hearing. I finally gave in to it because another friend kept going on about it and I wanted something to get stuck into on the Switch after I finished Golf Story.

I’m pleased to report that while you can see Dark Souls style systems in a couple of places, it’s no where near as frustrating as those. Not only is Hollow Knight the best Metroidvania I’ve ever played, I’m starting to wonder if it might deserve a place in the All-Time Top 5 Games (it would certainly be in a Top 10). It is stunning, the music is great, I adore the art style and it’s really satisfying to play. It is undoubtedly the most challenging game on this list, but hey if I can do it…

Hollow Knight on Amazon*


Honorable Mentions

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori & The Blind Forest

This was excellent, but I’m mostly keeping it from the top 5 out of spite. I resented the switch to “pixel perfect” style platforming for a section after each boss. Each time I had to deal with it left a sour taste.

Hoping there will be less of that in the upcoming sequel, but not holding my breath. Will definitely be getting involved either way.

Ori on Amazon* – this is the Xbox One edition, where it was originally a console exclusive. It is however also available on PC, and I believe coming to Switch


Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman Return to Arkham

Yeah, I’m a huge fan of this series, but although it’s certainly a Metroidvania in many ways, I’m keeping this list to 2D games.

Batman Return to Arkham on Amazon* – This is the PS4 polished version of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Personally love both games, so a good option


DS Castlevanias

Castlevania DS

Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin are both great metroidvanias, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Decided I only wanted one Castlevania in the top 5 though, and had to make way for the King, Symphony of the Night.

You can get these on Amazon* but they are pricey now!


Super Metroid

Super Metroid

Along with Symphony of the Night, Super Metroid is largely responsible for us having this genre as a thing. I’m still yet to play it properly as I never had a SNES back in the day.

I did intend to play the Virtual Console version on the Wii, but I’m now holding out for a version I can play on Switch. It must be on the way, right?


Timespinner

Timespinner

The most recent game on this list that I played & completed back in June. It is really good, but as it’s an unashamed clone of Symphony of the Night, it can’t really go in the Top 5. Definitely worth a go if you want more of that.

I think this may be digital only, but well worth picking up. I played on the Switch and I’m pretty sure it’s also on PS4, Xbox and PC. Possibly even on the Vita.


Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Metroidvania

From what I’ve heard, this could well earn a place on my list in the future. A spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night by the same creator, this metroidvania has my name written all over it. I did get hands on a pre-release version at EGX Rezzed.

Haven’t played the full game yet though, mostly because apparently the Switch port suffers poor performance, and that’s the version I wanted to play. Waiting to see if that gets improved by patches, or if a super deal arrives on one of the other formats.

Bloodstained on Amazon* As above I’m definitely not recommending the Switch port

What are your goals

Personal Goals and Single-Use Plastic

Quite a departure from my usual topics, I’ve been meaning to put this post together for months now. Would have been a good thing to write about in January, but hopefully my picking it up in August still makes sense. Also this probably should be two separate blog posts, but I didn’t just want to make a post called “single-use plastic” that was heavy on affiliate links but light on content. Instead, it’s a wall of text. Hurrah?

Personal goal setting

Every year I like to set a few personal goals. These are essentially New Year’s Resolutions as I set them in January, but I much prefer the term goal. Not sticking to something you “resolved” to do immediately frames itself as a failure. Goals feel more aspirational, and thus positive. “This year I’m going to try to achieve these things, and if I don’t, then I might try again next year”. I also find it useful to check in every few months during the year, to see how I’m doing, if I even still want to do these things, or if I want to adjust them a bit.

Fairly obvious ones:

  • I like to set a reading challenge on goodreads – although I also set a personal target of how many of them can be graphic novels (usually aim for 50% of the target with non-comics)
  • Diet, exercise, weight loss, same as everyone else
  • Career / professional development – these have focused around either changing jobs or continued study. I’ve been pretty good at achieving my goals in this area, but studying and working full time continues to take its toll.
  • Money, get a better grip of budgeting and the like. Generally one of those most likely to be carried forward every year. Haha.

Some things I’d like to do:

  • Previously this included starting a blog, then I had one to move to private hosting, and subsequent years have focused on keeping it going. This year I’ve tried to move towards proactively scheduling more posts in advance. Very much still a work in progress.
  • Now I’m on a podcast I’ve started to think about ways to develop that. At the moment I’m just trying to get ‘better’ at it.
  • Hardware projects, previous years included building my RetroPie arcade stick. I now have one to finish modding a Dreamcast arcade stick with better parts. Still in progress…

Finally, things I think I should do:

  • I always try to budget to be able to support things my creative friends put out, whether that’s people I know personally or ‘mutuals’ on Twitter. Not something I can always afford to do as much as I’d like, but I have been setting myself goals around my support of other people’s creativity i.e. via Patreon and Etsy. (Also, if I know you and you write a book, damn straight I’m going to buy it).
  • Tend to be one or two personal goals in here, and this year is the reason for this post. Pretty late to the game, I started with the simple intention of getting a reusable cup for the coffee shop, to avoid single use cups with plastic lids. (Yes I saw Blue Planet 2 and got the single-use plastic message as well). I also realised that by the end of last year, I was buying a 600 ml bottle of Pepsi Max every day. I decided I was done buying those plastic bottles, so the obvious extension was to buy a reusable water bottle too.

Falling down a single-use plastic rabbit hole

Disclaimer here: the links to products on Amazon are affiliate links, where I’ll get a small commission if you buy something. Secondary disclaimer: I am of course aware of the ethical issues around Amazon as a retailer. Feel free not to use them. However, these are the switches I’ve made this year, hopefully someone reading might discover something they’d like to try for themselves.

Travel cup

Travel Cup - Reducing single-use plastic

This was a bit of a challenge, it took me ages to decide what cup I wanted. I even bought new ceramic ones from HMV for me and my girlfriend, then discovered they don’t hold much liquid. Certainly not enough for a large mocha from my choice of coffee shop. (Didn’t stop me picking up a third one from NERG last month though). Then I realised that a Marvel Comics one my parents bought for me years ago was actually perfect, and have used it constantly since. My girlfriend went one better, and now has a bamboo one, like this. I’ll probably do that when my Marvel one dies, since I wouldn’t have chosen to buy a plastic one.


Water Bottle

Water bottle - Reducing Single-use Plastic

This was also difficult to decide which to get. A lot of the available ones have intricate “sipping” systems in the lids that make me think they would be difficult to clean. I went with a very simple metal bottle from Wilko that was about £5. I now have my eye on one of the fun designs from Chillys though.


Razors

Safety Razors

Probably the most daunting change, I decided I needed to stop buying plastic disposable razor head cartridges. The alternative meant getting involved in the whole “double edge safety razor” scene, and they are a bit terrifying. However, as well as being a great alternative to the plastic system I was used to, they’re incredibly cheap. I bought this Bamboo Razor Handle* and these 100 blades* which helpfully came with some shaving soap. I notice that the blades I bought are currently out of stock, there are plenty of options for these though. However, do check the packaging details. Some of the “Derby” branded ones have each 5 blades packaged in little single-use plastic cases. Pretty much defeats the point of making the change!

I am starting to get better at using the razor now too, although still manage to do myself minor injuries. Oops.


Toothbrush

Bamboo Toothbrushes - Reducing Single-use Plastic

An easy change, I was a bit sceptical at first as to what they’d be like to use, but I bought these bamboo toothbrushes* and have been very happy with them. I could do with a solution for my electric toothbrush too, but not sure what to do about that yet.


Sandwich wrap

Sandwich wrap

This was less about single-use plastic, but more the realisation that I was buying kitchen foil simply to wrap my lunch for work everyday. I assumed there must be a solution to this, and Google didn’t let me down, sending me to this Guardian article picking out 5 options. I had a look at them all, and decided to go with Re-Wrap-it. I’ve got this green and white one, because of course I have.


Metal Straws

So far I’ve resisted buying these as I very rarely use straws, but the deeply unsatisfying experience of a McDonald’s milkshake through a paper straw is making me consider it. More so given recent revelations that there are even issues with recycling the paper ones. These straws from Chilly’s are well regarded, but I’m tempted by the more portable, collapsible straw variety. I’m considering something like these straws from Amazon*, as I might actually remember to take them out with me.


Cling film

Something else I haven’t tried myself yet, but I’ve heard good things about using these bees wax wraps* as an alternative to cling film, so will probably give them ago.


*these are those affiliate links I was talking about. By all means use them if you’d like to kick me a few pence. ^^

Virtua Racing Split Screen 8 Player

July Games

Incredibly busy month, where I’ve been mostly trying to study, but also applying for, and getting, a new job. Didn’t play a great deal, but managed a good amount in 2-player on the Nintendo Switch with my other half.

Games completed this month

Raging Justice July Games

Raging Justice – Switch

Barely feels like a completion, but we got a credits roll so I’m counting it. Girlfriend and I had a great time on this, the ride-on lawnmower section is a definite highlight.


Games played during July

Horizon Chase Turbo July Games

Horizon Chase Turbo – PS4

I had been on the fence about grabbing this for the Switch. I liked the idea of it, but was concerned it might feel a bit “mobile game”. Fortunately it popped up as a freebie on PlayStation Plus for the PS4, so I was able to spend some time with it. I played for about 45 minutes. It was enjoyable and certainly presses the nostalgia buttons for these classic arcade racers. However after 45 minutes I’d had enough and don’t think I’ll go back to it. Saved me buying it on Switch, although it did motivate me to immediately buy a different game on there. More on that below.


Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever – PC

Yes this is just about as bad as you think it is. I played it for an upcoming podcast episode, but didn’t entirely hate it. A couple of the later guns were quite satisfying, and there is a whole level early on where you’ve been shrunk and you’re driving around in an RC Car. I did enjoy that.


Metro Exodus – PC

Had a quick go on this, busy month meant I haven’t put a lot of time into anything, but I think this could be my next proper game after The Witcher 3, and was pleased the PC version was included in the Xbox Game Pass thing. What I really like is that it seems to be really well optimised, and gets 60+ fps on my PC with everything on Ultra at 1080p.


X-Men Legends

X-Men Legends – Xbox

As included in my NERG Pickups below, this month saw me acquire an original Xbox. This game was already on the Hard Drive, I’d forgotten just how good these games were. I think I’ll probably put a bit more time into it.


Doom II Switch

Doom 2 – Switch

Bethesda released Doom 1, 2 & 3 across all the modern platforms, coinciding with QuakeCon. Annoyingly I was supposed to go to the event in London but had to cancel to finish up some study. I did grab Doom 2 though, and have already had some fun playing it in split-screen with my girlfriend.


July Pick-ups

Virtua Racing - SEGA Ages

Virtua Racing – Switch

As mentioned above, this was the purchase I made straight after playing Horizon Chase Turbo. This port of Virtua Racing is incredible fun, these SEGA Ages ports continue to impress. I doubt I’ll ever get to try the 8 player split-screen mode but I’m glad that it’s in there. I really hope we see some more racing games. Naturally I want SEGA Rally, but it would be something of a dream if they could finally give us home versions of SCUD Race and Daytona 2.


Games and comic tat from NERG

NERG Pickups

I covered NERG in my last blog post, but thought I’d just mention the gaming items I picked up. First up was the modded Xbox that was a gift from Phil, have wanted to get one of these again for a while. I also picked up a 6-button Competition Pro pad for the Mega Drive the same as the one I had as a kid. Last bit of gaming related stuff was a handful of loose Game Boy games. Robocop, Terminator 2, Batman the Movie (or Batman inexplicably with a gun), Jurassic Park and Elevator Action.


Puyo Puyo Champions

Puyo Puyo Champions – Switch

To be honest, I just grabbed this because it was 50% off and I thought my girlfriend might play it. We’ve been playing a lot of Puyo Puyo Tetris again recently, but I just stick to Tetris. My little brain can’t Puyo.


Phantasy Star - Switch

Phantasy Star – Switch

The third SEGA game I bought for my Switch this month, I haven’t loaded this up yet. I’ve never really managed to get into the Phantasy Star games, but this looks like quite a polished port of the original Master System game, so thought I’d give it a go.


Brawl July Games

Brawl – Switch

This was 89p. I played Brawl a bit on PS4 when it first came out, it’s a fairly competent little Bomberman clone, with an odd horror aesthetic. I didn’t really get into it at the time but thought it might be nice to have some Bomberman action on my Switch without getting Super Bomberman R for the third time.


Retired this month

Witcher 3

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Xbox One

Well I tried my best, but the openworldness got to me. Found myself not wanting to load it up anymore. Think I’ll stick to reading the books and I’ll check out the TV series when it appears.