Category Archives: Videogames

November Games

November Games

Well look at that, I finished something, and also unsurprisingly played an awful lot of Forza Horizon 5.

Games completed this month

Control Ultimate Edition - PS5

Control: Ultimate Edition – PS5

Pleased to say I managed to push on and finish this. There were only a couple of times I got stuck on a fight and they didn’t last for too long. There is still plenty to do if I want to go back, but for now I’m happy to have finished the main story. I do at least want to play through the Alan Wake content in the DLC, but that will be for the New Year.

The physical edition of the version I’m playing is available here from Amazon*, although I have it digitally. I think the Xbox and PC editions are solid too, although I heard the older consoles struggled a bit with the framerate.

Games played during November

Animal Crossing - July Games

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

Played a bit with the new content to open my coffee shop but not the hours I was expecting. Bring on snow.


Back 4 Blood - November Games

Back 4 Blood – Xbox Series S – GamePass

This was oddly disappointing. While it is no doubt a good game, and a worthy spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, it’s so close to Left 4 Dead, that I felt like I’d seen it all before. Glad I didn’t need to buy it, in no rush to play any more of it.

Here* for all the main platforms if you want to buy it. I wouldn’t though.


Quake 2021 - November Games

Quake – Xbox Series S – GamePass

This has been great fun. Playing through the expansion packs in online co-op with a mate. Still remains one of the best games of all-time.


Forza Horizon 5 - November Games

Forza Horizon 5 – Xbox Series S & PC

This turned out to be almost everything I hoped for, and once again replaces the previous entry as my favourite yet. I’ve put quite a lot of time in already, my only disappointment (and I think many are sharing this) is that the multiplayer is still broken. It never really worked that well in Horizon 4, I hope it gets a robust update to repair that. I should push on and do the last couple of big races though to ‘complete’ the story.

Best way to get this is still to buy GamePass*

What’s been on the arcade?

November Games - Arcade

A fantastic month on the arcade. The game of the month from Ten Pence Arcade was Lode Runner, which turned out to be great so I played that a lot. Also my buddy Ross managed to visit for a few hours, and along with taking it in turns for Lode Runner credits, we also played a few other games including Robotron 2084 and some two player Raiden II.


November Pick-ups

Spider-Man: Miles Morales - PS5

Miles Morales – PS5

Found a bargain copy of this on eBay, so I could play it once I finished Control. Looking forward to getting onto it next.

This* is the edition I picked up, it’s a bit more expensive than I found it for on eBay though.


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

October Games 2021

October Games

Another quiet month, although I did play quite a bit of a couple of games.

Games played during October

Animal Crossing - July Games

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

Mostly just checked in with the Halloween event, expect to play a bit more in November with the new content. Looking forward to the coffee shop opening. Because Brewster.


Destiny 2 - October Games

Destiny 2 – Xbox Series S & PC

A friend brought me back to Destiny 2, and with all the expansions included on GamePass it was nice to have fresh content to play. Had a lot of fun for a couple of weeks getting through the new story parts while it feels like you’re making some progress. My appetite for the MMO grind appears to have left me behind though. Can’t bring myself to invest the hours.


Control Ultimate Edition - PS5

Control: Ultimate Edition – PS5

Only just started this as something else to play on my PS5. Seems really good so far, but there have been a couple of frustrating fights. Very much enjoying the world and all the X-Files style story elements though. Hopefully I’ll stick with it but concerned I’ll get pulled away by other games soon.


What’s been on the arcade?

MAME Cabinet - Finished

Another shocker from Ten Pence Arcade, the game was Frenzy and it was dreadful. I therefore just played some more Joust. Started planning a bit of an upgrade for the system. Mostly want to sort out the power solution, but also going to have another look at the sound system, maybe get a proper amp and speakers rather than the PC Speaker setup it has currently. Ideally I’d like to mount an external volume control too. Likely to be a January project I think.


October Pick-ups

Destiny 2 - October Games

Destiny 2 Season Pass

Mostly bought this as an incentive to keep playing. It worked for a bit but then I started playing Control, and Forza Horizon arrives 5th November. We’ll see how that goes.


Llamasoft

Llamasoft: Everything, Everything Bundle – PC

Find myself less excited by Steam sales these days, but this was a nice drop. I already had 3 of the 5 games in the bundle, so it meant I could grab the two games I was missing, Moose Life and Minotaur Arcade, for £2. Bargain, and some more VR content for my PC.

Retired during October

Metro Exodus - October Games

Metro Exodus – PS5

Well I tried, again and again. I did get much further than on any previous attempts but the open world just kills it for me. Found I didn’t want to play it, and was actively avoiding my PS5 as this was the game I had in progress. Oh well, hopefully I’ll stick with Control.


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

September Games

September Games

Pretty small update this month, not much gaming.

Games played during September

Animal Crossing - July Games

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

Didn’t play a lot of this during September, but just enough to make sure I caught all the fish and bugs that were new for the month.


Pac-Man CE2 - September Games

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 – PS4 / PS5

Stumbled across this in my PS4 games while browsing the PS5 library for something to play, put a couple of hours in. It’s great fun but a bit overwhelming with the content which seems a bit wrong for pac-man. Think I preferred the more streamlined original Championship Edition.


Everybody's Golf

Everybody’s Golf – PS5

Visited my mate for a week at the end of the month, we mostly played card & board games, but we did get in the obligatory couple of rounds of Everybody’s Golf.


What’s been on the arcade?

MAME Cabinet - Finished

My patience for the Ten Pence Arcade monthly game change was rewarded, and this month we were playing the Williams classic from 1982, Joust. Love that game so have played a fair bit of it. Might keep playing for a while though, I’m so close to cracking 60k points (I’d really like to put up more than 100k).


August Pick-ups

Castlevania Advance - Switch

Castlevania Advance Collection – Switch

A bit of a surprise release when this came out, it’s a collection of the three Gameboy Advance Castlevania games, and the adequate SNES version of Dracula X. It’s very much worth the cost of entry just for Aria of Sorrow, but as I have never completed any of the GBA games I thought now could be the time. I have at least played them all before, and discussed on the Castlevania episode of the Maximum Power Up podcast.


Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 - PS5

Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 – PS5

More of the same from one of the greatest puzzle games of all time. I had intended to get this on Xbox as it’s the only platform I don’t own the original game on, but it was 1/4 of the price on PS5 for a physical copy. Some new multiplayer stuff though so was happy to pick it up. Also amused me that this is my first physical PS5 game. Wonder if it has ray-tracing…

Not particularly cheap on Amazon atm, but you can get it here*. The do have it cheap on Xbox* at time of writing.


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

August Games

August Games

Late with my update again, partly because there was quite a bit to post. Nothing completed, but played a few games this month, including a good amount of multiplayer with friends in the same room. How our ancestors used to do it. Also picked up a few bits while I was at it.

Games played during August

Animal Crossing - July Games

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

Ticking along in Animal Crossing. A couple more of my friends are playing now so I’ve been playing a bit with them, while still working on completing my collections of fish and bugs with the new months.


Metro Exodus - July Games

Metro Exodus – PS5

Still playing this, it looks incredible on the PS5 and I’ve gotten over most of the open world stuff I don’t like. I do tend to play it in smaller bursts though so it may take me a while to get through.

I grabbed this digitally in a sale, but you can get the complete edition is available physically from Amazon*


Black Ops 4 - August Games

Black Ops 4 – PS5

Had a mate come to stay for a few days during August, and Call of Duty has long being a staple game for us. I usually skip the Black Ops line though, and I just noticed I had this one in my library from PS Plus, so we installed it for a blast online. Had good fun with it for what it was, but I doubt I’ll play any on my own.


Worms W.M.D. - PS5 - August Games

Worms WMD – PS5

We were playing multiplayer so of course this came out. Always a good time.


Everybody's Golf

Everybody’s Golf – PS5

Another essential game for our multiplayer sessions, although we played it all that weekend thinking how good it looked on PS5, and it was a couple of days later I discovered the “4k” and “HDR” settings in the menus. Looks even better now. I’ve been getting back into the single player again, and realising how much of a better game it is than Mario Golf on Switch.


Wipeout Omega Collection - August Games

Wipeout Omega Collection – PS5

Rounding out the games played that weekend, we jumped into some Wipeout. Again it seemed to look great on the PS5 but not sure it was doing anything more than just upscaling.


Super Monaco GP Cabinet

Team Flicky Games Day

Also this month I had a week in Scotland, I took my Switch but the only game I played on that was Picross (see the pick ups section). I was staying near to a couple of friends though, so we met up and had a day of gaming together. There was a good amount of gaming on many platforms, even an N64 *shudder*. We played Puyo Puyo Tetris, Everybody’s Golf, Puzzle Bobble, Dungeon Explorer, Rival Megagun, Bomberman, which are the ones I remember anyway. One of my friends has an arcade cabinet sort of like mine, in that it plays emulated games, but unlike mine, is set up for driving games. It’s a converted Super Monaco GP cabinet, complete with wheel, gear shift and pedals. Was incredible to play some of the big Sega titles. Sega Rally and Daytona obviously, but a rare treat to be able to play Scud Racer and Crazy Taxi on a cabinet.

I also got to play a bit of Returnal on his PS5 which was helpful as I had been considering it for mine. It feels good to play, and looks amazing, but the gameplay loop of roguelike elements definitely put me off. I may pick it up when it drops below £20 but I’m in no hurry.

Was a solid day all round though, so nice to just enjoy games with friends.


Quake 2021 - August Games

Quake – PC & Xbox (GamePass)

This month saw the release of a sort of ‘polished’ version of the original Quake. Not quite a full remake, but adding lots of modern elements to the engine to make it a much better experience to play in 2021. It also came to the current consoles with cross play for the online multiplayer which was definitely a nice touch. The controls felt a bit ‘off’ to me when I tried it on the Xbox, but it is still great on the PC played (as it should be) with a keyboard and mouse. Quake remains my second favourite game of all time and this is a delight. It even includes expansion content from Machine Games. One pack which was previously released in 2016, Dimensions of the Past and the brand new Dimension of the Machine which was developed for this release.

What’s been on the arcade?

MAME Cabinet - Finished

This month we played some NBA Jam TE on the cabinet while my mate was over. Such a great game, but I don’t remember it being so as challenging. Perhaps as my main memories of it are the Mega Drive version. May need to revisit that and see if it was much easier, or if I’ve just become terrible. The tenpencearcade game for the month was Gorf, which I played a little bit of but couldn’t get into the groove with. I’m hoping for something better next month!

These could have gone in the pick ups section, but as it’s directly arcade related I’ll include it here. I got these fantastic dust covers for my cabinet from this etsy store. They look great.


August Pick-ups

PS5 Charger

PlayStation 5 Dual Charger

After buying the PS5 I traded my PS4 in at game and got a decent amount of store credit, much as I did with my Xbox One when I got the Series S. I mostly put the store credit towards funds for the digital storefronts on the consoles, but I did use some to grab this charger. It is a pretty handy purchase as the battery life on the controllers doesn’t seem great, helpful to have one charging while I’m playing.


Stardew Valley Switch

Stardew Valley – Switch

Finally got round to grabbing the Switch version of this while it was on sale. Still haven’t properly got into it, but it does suit the console nicely. Hoping that this is the time it clicks.


SEGA Picross - August Games

Picross S Mega Drive & Master System Edition – Switch

Never played a Picross game before, but with this SEGA theme I couldn’t resist trying it. There is a free demo to try on the store which sealed the deal. The puzzles themselves are logic based and very addictive. As I mentioned above I ended up playing this quite a bit while on my holiday.


Forza 7

Forza 7 – Xbox Series S

This was on sale due to it being about to be removed from GamePass. Forza 7 was one of the few physical games I still owned when I got rid of my Xbox One for the digital only Series S. Was quite happy to pay a few quid to just keep it in my library, I don’t enjoy it as much as the Forza Horizon games, but there is still plenty of fun to be had when I fancy a more serious race.


Pre-orders This Month

Forza Horizon 5 Add-ons Bundle

Used some of that credit I got from my PS4 to pre-order this. Since the game will be on GamePass anyway it didn’t make sense to buy the whole game like I usually do. However I really enjoyed having all the extra VIP content and DLC on Horizon 3 and 4 so was happy to put the money down for this.

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

July Games 2021

July Games

Played quite a bit on a small number of games, and managed to spend even more money than last month. Oops.

Games completed this month

Octopath Traveler - Switch

Octopath Traveler – Switch

Finished this off properly in July as planned. That said I didn’t do *everything*. The last round of optional bosses for the final side quest requires an inordinate amount of grinding to achieve and I wasn’t prepared to invest that time. Very much enjoyed the game though, clocking in at around 93 hours played.

I bought the digital edition to use up some store credit, but you can get the physical one from Amazon*


Mario Golf Super Rush - Switch

Mario Golf Super Rush – Switch

I know this game was disappointing for many who were hoping for a full golf RPG like the earlier Mario Golf games. I would have preferred that too, but it is still a lot of fun and I did enjoy the short story mode. Golf Story is a much better option if you want a bit of RPG with your golf though.

This* is the physical edition if you’d rather not get it digitally

Games played during July

Hotshot Racing - Xbox Series S

Hotshot Racing – Xbox Series S

A very enjoyable tribute to classic Sega racers such as Daytona and Outrun 2, Sumo Digital had a hand in making it which explains how close it feels to those games. Had a good time with this for a couple of hours, but the rubber-banding on the AI does make the harder difficulties feel unfair. It’s on GamePass though, so an easy recommend for a fun time playing through all the courses on standard mode.


Animal Crossing - July Games

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

Yes I’ve returned to this, took a bit of an effort to get back into the routine, but I do want to finish collecting all the fish and insects. I stopped playing around this time last year, so by starting now I should get to play the seasons I didn’t experience last time round. It’s still as charming as ever.


What’s been on the arcade?

MAME Cabinet - Finished

Pretty much abandoned the podcast games this month, I didn’t have the patience to learn the patterns for Mr. Do and decided I couldn’t be bothered with MAME on my PC. If it won’t run on my arcade machine I don’t want to play. My cabinet has been playing a lot of X-Men: Children of the Atom this month. I’m not even sure what made me load that up but I’ve been having a good time with it.


July Pick-ups

PlayStation 5 - July Games

PlayStation 5 – Disc Version

After talking myself out of wanting one of these, I did crack this month. I stopped actively looking for one months ago, but during a particularly heinous work day I received the email from Currys informing me that I had ‘won’ their VIP sweepstake. (Basically back in March or something I registered on their site, and every time they are allocated stock they randomly select people from that list to be allowed to buy one). So I pretty much went to buy it to cheer myself up. Still took three weeks to arrive, but I’m glad to have it.

A big part of wanting the Disc version of the console was to replace the PS3 I was still using to play DVDs and Blurays, and the 4k upscaler built into the PS5 is great. Even breathes a bit of life into the aging DVD format. I got a second pad in the bundle (mostly because you weren’t allowed to just buy the console alone, I guess Curry’s don’t make enough money per unit…). In terms of games, thanks to PSPlus I already have Bugsnax, Astro Bot and Control Ultimate Edition, and after a bit of a faff to get the DLC to work, I also have the free upgrade to the PS5 version of Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, using my PS4 disc.


Metro Exodus - July Games

Metro Exodus – PS5

Although I tried this previously and abandoned it back in October 2019 old blog, I did intend to go back to it but the open world elements put me off. I fancied trying it again on the PS5 with all the fancy 4k Raytracing etc. that they have added so here I am. I haven’t got far yet but it does show off the machine graphically, and I have made it passed where I gave up on PC so optimistic I’ll stick with it.

I grabbed this digitally in a sale, but you can get the complete edition is available physically from Amazon*


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1&2 - July Games

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 – PS5 Upgrade

The only other pick-up I made for my new console was to pay the £10 to convert my physical PS4 edition to the PS5 one. Pretty happy with that, it runs super smooth, looks great and the load times are basically non-existent. I’m not any better at it though.

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

Personal Goals – Couch to 5k

This is a sort of follow on of my post from 2019, Personal Goals and Single-Use Plastic. Looking back at that one, I have continued to build on my use of sustainable products and could probably do a new post about those. Also considering the things I talked about wanting to do in the future, I have achieved some of those too. Not least in finally building myself an arcade machine as a substantial hardware project.

As I wrote about in that previous blog, I still set myself goals every year, and have a reasonable success rate. They are personal though and not all ones I’d choose to share. For 2021 though, I decided to do something meaningful about those vague health ones. I decided to try the Couch to 5k programme. This got a particular boost when I realised that if I used the NHS provided app, I could choose to have Jo Whiley as my running buddy.

couch to 5k start

I originally started back in January, unfortunately I was only 4 runs in when I got sick with Labyrinthitis. After that it was a long time before I was even comfortable walking about again. I picked it back up in May, but I went almost back to the beginning and restarted with the second run in the programme.

The programme itself is fairly straight-forward. Running 3 times a week for 9 weeks, building on your progress. The first week is a series of 1 minute runs with 3 minute walking breaks. By the last week you’re running for a solid 30 minutes covering approximately 5k

Today saw me complete the programme, and I am pretty proud of that.

I still don’t actually like running, but I do like how I feel afterwards. I shall continue, aiming to just maintain running for 30 minutes 3 times a week.

June Games Title

June Games

Played a few games, bought some stuff. Let’s call it a success.

Games completed this month

Octopath Traveler - Switch

Octopath Traveler – Switch

As with Bravely Default this is another game that has multiple levels of completion. In June we rolled credits on the main storyline, but the game continues. Hopefully we’ll see this here again in July, but it is getting harder.

I bought the digital edition to use up some store credit, but you can get the physical one from Amazon*


Games played during June

Nanotale - Typing Games

Nanotale – PC

Still been playing a bit of this, and do hope to complete it. I seem to get lost a lot more than I did in Epistory which is a bit tedious. The typing mechanic is still really fun though.


Super Bomberman R Online - Switch

Super Bomberman R Online – PC

As suggested last month, I did move to playing this on PC. Played a few more rounds and still enjoying myself. I don’t really like the different character powers & stats, but it’s good fun regardless.


Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox Series S and PC

Felt like dropping back into this for a while after seeing the trailer for Forza Horizon 5 in the E3 presentations. Still my favourite racing game, looking forward to the new one.


Dark Alliance - June Games

Dungeons & Dragons Dark Alliance – PC (GamePass)

This is pretty terrible, and a buggy mess at times. However played co-op with a couple of friends has been entertaining. We all have GamePass so we didn’t have to pay for the game, certainly helped with the enjoyment.


Quake Champions - June Games

Quake Champions – PC

I suggested last month that I might try to get back into this. One of the purchases below encouraged me to give it a try. It is still great fun, but I’m so out of practice it’s a bit of a slog trying to climb the rankings again. I may play a bit more but not sure how much patience I’m going to have for the practice required.


What’s been on the arcade?

MAME Cabinet - Finished

Ten Pence Arcade Podcast have a double-header this month, with Mr Do’s Wild Ride and Mrs Dynamite. I have played a bit of Mr Do but Mrs Dynamite requires the latest version of MAME which I can’t run on the cabinet yet so I haven’t tried that. I have, however, been playing a lot of Super Street Fighter 2 on it though, so there’s that.


June Pick-ups

Mario Golf Super Rush - Switch

Mario Golf Super Rush – Switch

Pre-ordered last month and it came out at the end of June so I did manage to get it downloaded. Haven’t played it yet so we’ll find out how it is in July.

This* is the physical edition if you’d rather not get it digitally


New Monitor - Quake Champions
The cables are a bit tidier now, although not as much as I’d like. I’ve taken the heinous stickers off too.

New Monitor

I’ve fanicied an ultrawide monitor for a while, but they had been a bit out of my budget for the spec I wanted. Finally found one at a sensible price that ticked all the boxes. It’s a 34″ Ultrawide curved display from Iiyama, 144hz refresh, 1ms response time, 3440×1440 resolution. It’s this one if you’re interested in the rest of the specs.

I got mine from Currys because I had a discount code that made it <£400, but otherwise it is cheaper on Amazon*.


Nex Machina - June Games

Nex Machina & The Name of the Game Documentary – PC

Although I bought and played this on the PS4 when it came out, after recording & releasing our Twin Stick Shooter podcast, I felt like getting back into it. As discussed on the podcast, the PC version is supposed to be better, so thought I’d check that out for my self. Grabbed it along with the making of documentary in the steam sale.


Williams Pinball Volume 2

More Pinball FX3 tables

After setting up my new monitor above, I’ve mounted one of my older 24″ widescreen displays next to it, in a vertical (TATE) orientation. The better to play pinball and some vertical scrolling shoot em up games. The extra Pinball FX3 table packs are in the Steam sale, so I grabbed the Williams Volume 2 pack, so I could play the Black Rose table. Pinball games are still great played fullscreen on a vertical display.


JRPG Book - June Games

A Guide to Japanese Role Playing Games – Book

Perhaps a surprise purchase for someone who can count the number of JRPGs played on one (well two now) hand. However, this seemed like a comprehensive guide to most of the genre, and I thought reading it might help me pick out other games that I’ll enjoy, avoiding the rest. If you’re interested, they sold out but are due to be reprinted and on sale again in October from bitmap books.


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

All-time Top 5 JRPGs

Decided an update for this post was necessary. Some minor text updates and a new entry. If you’re interested in the original list (it’s pretty similar) you can read it here.


Octopath Traveler - Switch

Number 5 – Octopath Traveler (Switch)

I’m still playing this at time of writing, but over 60 hours in and confident of its position on this list. It’s not going to topple my top 4, but I’m still having a great time. Playing in parallel with my ex-wife, sharing tips (and a variety of game over screens) over What’s App, a process we first followed playing a game further down this list. If anything the main thing Octopath suffers from, is that the game further down came out after and improved on it so much. If we’d played them the other way round I would probably hold this in higher regard.

The choice of eight protagonists to form your party of four is interesting, but in reality you need to keep swapping one out to progress the various stories, which just becomes a bit annoying in trying to balance levels. Octopath Traveler is now on GamePass, and available for Xbox and PC as well as the Switch version I’m playing.

Switch version on Amazon*


Top 5 JRPGs

Number 4 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

A game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

While you can probably find a second hand copy kicking around, you can also buy this digitally here, and it does seem to go on sale quite often. It’s an Xbox 360 game but plays great on an Xbox One or the new Xbox Series S / X.


Panzer Dragoon Saga - Top 5 RPGs

Number 3 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Played through this for the first time back in 2017, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Bit of a nightmare recommending ways to play this. Not sure how well it runs under SEGA Saturn emulation. Best option would probably be a modded SEGA Saturn and downloading it (is what I did). It’s a pricey game to buy second hand if you can find one.)


Top 5 JRPGs

Number 2 – Bravely Default 2 (Switch)

This did come very close to toppling number 1, played through this recently and loved it. This was the game I played alongside my ex-wife before Octopath Traveler and having someone to discuss progress, strategy and which are the best outfits very much helped. The characters and various systems in Bravely Default 2 are very satisfying and improve on the first game in every way. You can even see the blueprints of Octopath in this, and again they have all been built on and improved to make this.

Frankly if Bravely Default 2 had Chopin, it would probably take the top spot.

At time of writing you can still get the nice bundle with stickers, poster and postcards from Amazon*.


Eternal Sonata - Top 5 JRPGs

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.


Mentions?

Top 5 JRPGs

Bravely Default (3DS)

I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

If you read this and still want to play, here’s Bravely Default via Amazon*

Top 5 JRPGs

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation was my first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a fairly major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again. I am considering playing the remake though, and giving it another chance as a modern game.

*Can’t update an old blog post without throwing in some affiliate links. If you buy something from one of the Amazon ones on this page, I’ll get a small cut. Thanks.

Octopath Traveler May Games

May Games

Nothing finished during May, but I did punt one game into the sea. So there is that.

Games played during May

Octopath Traveler - Switch

Octopath Traveler – Switch

After playing the demo at the end of April as mentioned last month, we went ahead and picked this up at the beginning of the month. At time of writing I’m 50+ hours in. It’s not quite as good as Bravely Default 2, there are certainly areas that were improved between the games so they feel a bit unfinished, but it feels familiar to play and I’m really enjoying it.

I bought the digital edition to use up some store credit, but you can get the physical one from Amazon*


Nanotale - Typing Games

Nanotale – PC

A game I was kindly given an early access code for just before the pandemic. I started to write up a preview but never got chance to play properly with demands from work. Early impressions have been good and I did really enjoy the demo I played back at Rezzed 2019. The game is properly finished and out now on Steam, so I may do a more full review once I’ve completed it.


Battlefield V - PC

Battlefield V – PC (GamePass)

After the multiplayer in Modern Warfare lost its draw for me, and neither Warzone or the new Call of Duty appeal, I have been craving a new multiplayer shooter. Managed to convince one of my gaming groups to give this ago. However they quickly bounced off (just as I was getting into it) the PVP element given the steep learning curve for new players, and preferred to play the co-op missions. Can’t say I enjoyed that as much so doubt I’ll play much more. Considering going back to Quake Champions for my PVP fix.


Tetris Effect Connected - May Games

Tetris Effect: Connected – PC VR (GamePass)

Still not well enough to play any proper VR at length, as vertigo symptoms linger. I did manage to play half an hour of the PC version of this at least. I am still keen to try the new multiplayer elements, but to ease back in I just did a couple of rounds of the standard modes.


Super Bomberman R Online - Switch

Super Bomberman R Online – Switch

I adore this, but it being on the Switch while I’m heavily invested in a full on JRPG has meant I haven’t really had chance to play. I think I’m going to install it on PC and see if I get to it more on there.


MAME Cabinet - Finished

Arcade Games

This month the cabinet has mostly seen me play more Lasso, and then Viper Phase 1, in line with the featured Ten Pence Arcade Podcast game.


Pre-orders

Mario Golf Super Rush - Switch

Mario Golf Super Rush – Switch

After trading in some games etc I had a decent amount of store credit with GAME. I swapped this for Nintendo eShop credit, and bought the weird “2 game vouchers” thing. Basically means you get two first party games for a bit under RRP. Octopath Traveler up above was the first game I picked up with them, and have used the other to preorder Mario Golf. Hoping it’s good!

This* is the physical edition if you’d rather not get it digitally

Retired

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - PS4

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – PS4

I was so glad this was free on PS Plus and I didn’t pay for it. This game is terrible. So disappointing after the two previous games but I couldn’t get through it. Think I maybe played 4 or 5 hours worth before giving up.

If you don’t believe me, and want to try it yourself, it’s on Amazon here*

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

Bravely Default 2 - Switch

April Games

I did it, completed another Japanese RPG, first one since 2017. Sort of completed it twice too. Also including a couple of playthroughs on the arcade cabinet.

Completed this month

Bravely Default 2 - January Games

Bravely Default 2 – Switch

Well it happened, 137 hours later and I completed this with the true ending, and all characters max level and max jobs. About 50 hours after first ‘completing’ the game and rolling the credits. Really enjoyed myself with this. My ex-wife was playing it too and having someone to discuss progress, strategy and which are the best outfits very much helped. We’ve lined up a similar game to play next (foreshadowing for further down the page) and It looks likely I’ll break the tradition of one JRPG every four years.

This is the Bravely Default 2 bundle* I got from Amazon


X-Men The Arcade Game

X-Men Arcade Game – Arcade

Technically cheating since usually for arcade games of the “shmup” variety I would only consider a game completed if I’d done it on one credit. However, I’m not as concerned about brawlers, so I’m going to consider them finished once I’ve rolled the credits on my arcade machine, so I can log them and get on with my day.


Metamorphic Force - Arcade

Metamorphic Force – Arcade

As above, another arcade brawler played through. I only found out about this game recently, and was surprised how good it was. Sort of like if you take the animal transformations from Altered Beast and put them in a good game.

Games played during April

Pac-man 99 April Games

Pac-Man 99 – Switch

Just as surprising on arrival as Tetris 99, and almost as good. Pac-Man 99 is another ‘free’ Switch game that you can play as long as you have a subscription to Nintendo Online. Due to Bravely Default 2 taking up almost all of my gaming time this month I haven’t spent a lot of time with it yet, but I very much enjoyed what I played so far.


MAME Cabinet - Finished

Arcade Games

Still giving the arcade machine a lot of love. I’ve mostly being playing Lasso as the new Ten Pence Arcade Podcast game. Also been spending a bit of time playing the original Pac-Man, after playing the above on Switch.

Demos

I don’t usually play many demo versions of games, but this month I played two that surprised me. R-Type Final 2 and Octopath Traveller.

R-Type Final 2 Demo - April Games

R-Type Final 2 Demo – PS4

Of the two demos, this was the disappointing one. It did the exact opposite of what a gameplay demo is supposed to do. When I first heard this would be coming out, I assumed I’d be getting it day one as I did enjoy the previous game and am always up for a new shmup. However, playing the demo it seemed very bland, and the visual effects somehow reminded me of 90s indie PC efforts produced in “The Games Factory“. Decided I’d wait for a sale.

The game then came out to average reviews with a hideous Season Pass for DLC that made the whole thing smell of “nostalgia cash-in”. I’m out, still likely to pick it up eventually in a sale, just not any time soon.

If I haven’t put you off, both the PS4 and Switch editions are here on Amazon*


Octopath Traveler - Switch

Octopath Traveler Demo – Switch

Conversely, this was a much more positive experience. As mentioned at the top, we tried this demo as an option for something to play post Bravely Default 2. As this is from the same developers (indeed it was their previous release) it was immediately familiar and agreeably suitable. Full game incoming* for May.

April Pick-ups

The Longing – Switch

The good folks at Application Systems Heidelberg were kind enough to give me a review code for this one, I love the premise so look out for a blog about it once I’ve spent a bit of time with the game.


Doom Eternal - April Games

Doom Eternal – PS4

This popped up on Amazon for a fiver, and I couldn’t resist even though it was already installed on my PC from GamePass.

Back up over a tenner* at time of writing


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