Dec 26

The Games of 2021

I guess I only really blog at the end of the year!
That’s okay!
That’s called… synergy… check my blog once a year!
Anyway, 2021 was… better than 2020? But not by a lot, really? Like, barely? Here’s the games of 2021 that mattered to me, in no particular order, with just some random comments I wanted to say. Have a great rest of your year, and let’s hope things improve somewhat in the future.

Mario Golf: Super Rush – This was a pretty good Mario Golf! The story mode was very cute, and the speed golf and king of the hill golf are good ideas totally ruined by no actual online thing besides jumping into random people’s rooms. Which really ruined my focus on this, because it was really hard to play matches online regularly. Oh well. Someday, Nintendo will understand online.

Shin Megami Tensei V – Still working on this, but it’s very good. I appreciate the whole thing behind the Nahobino more than I thought. The story is just kind of… not there, but that SMT combat is excellent, so, you know.

Luck Be A Landlord – This game rules. A “slot machine roguelike,” Luck be A Landlord is a game I’ve played constantly because it’s great to play in between combat rounds while playing DnD. It’s cute and about murdering your shitty landlord so that’s always great! Plus it’s made by a single, nice dude who really cares about the game and the community playing it. Highly highly recommended.

Milk Inside A Bag of Milk Inside A Bag of Milk and Milk Outside A Bag of Milk Outside A Bag of Milk – Putting these two together. I play a lot fewer of these little artistic games these days, but these games are just incredible in showing exactly how mental illness feels. As I reviewed them on Steam, these are just real life. It’s powerful stuff. The first game is really cheap, you’ll know if you want to play the second, please try it.

Bloons Tower Defense 6 – Why did I play so much Bloons this year? Why do I continue to do the Daily Challenge most days? Why? I mean, you know, it’s a fine tower defense, but why?

Final Fantasy XIV – This was the year people finally dragged me in. Final Fantasy XIV is incredible. The story is a long very slow burn but I will give it this credit: if you invest, it returns that energy like 10 fold. It’s very pleasant to play on your own, it has fun daily goals to hit on, gosh, it’s so good. I’m excited to play Endwalker next year at some point.

WarioWare: Get It Together! – I cannot believe that the people who made the game cares about the fucking lore of WarioWare as much as I do. It’s incredible.

Yoku’s Island Express – I got really into pinball this year for no good reason, and I remembered I owned this, and HOLY SHIT, this game is so adorable, and so fun, and so creative? I played through it in two huge sessions and savored every moment of it. There’s lots of sidequests and things I didn’t finish, and I’m honestly tempted to go back, but even just mainlining the main quest, you cannot beat this thing. I’m sorry I waited so long to play it. Please play it.

Pokemon Pinball: Ruby/Sapphire – Speaking of Pinball, this is what got me into it. I got my tablet set up with emulators, which was a fun little project, and I found myself playing this a lot, because it was a low level of engagement and time and I could just play a run and be done. It’s honestly really good? If you’ve always wanted to learn pinball, this is a great place to start, because the “collect them all” mechanic meant that even when I played a really, really, really, really really shitty run, I caught a new Pokemon, so it was okay. Honestly, it’s just way better than it has any right to be, and it’s a lot of fun. I doubt I would have loved it back in the day, but now, as an adult, I keep playing a round every few days. It’s good stuff.

Pokemon White – Speaking of Emulators, I went back and played a Pokemon game I’d skipped originally in excitement for Brilliant Diamond (which, ironically, didn’t make this list, it was fine) and Pokemon White is… pretty legit. It was such a weird experience playing through it, and I honestly picked a pretty shit team to do it with with tons of weaknesses that made me have to grind a bit for the endgame. But it was super exciting, honestly. It has a pretty good little story there! I finally figured out who N was! Wow! I’m sure I’ll play White 2 in the same way at some point next year.

Can’t Stop! – I started playing board games on Board Game Arena this year. It’s very good. Probably join up and play with me. But the one I keep playing, over and over, both real time and turned based, constantly, is Can’t Stop!. This is an extremely simple push your luck game, but it’s extremely satisfying. I am very very unhappy that the only version you can buy in America is a 60 dollar giant plastic bullshit edition. This is the perfect 10 dollar game in a little bag with a cloth game board to throw in your purse to take to the bar and the fact that at some point I’m going to need to import the little portable German edition at some point to get that? It’s pretty silly. Anyway, Can’t Stop! fucking rules.

Golf, the physical sport – I’ve been playing Golf with my mother-in-law off and on rarely for a while now, because she wanted a friend to go with and it was an excuse to drink beer. But this year, I really got into the game in general because it’s such a great way to get outside, socialize, and have fun in a fairly Covid-safe outdoor environment. I also like how I did research this year and learned how easy it is to build a pretty solid bag of clubs just from buying used clubs from thrift stores. That was a fun distraction, and I really like my clubs now. Anyway, I agree that all golf courses should be repurposed into a public sex forest, but as long as they exist, I feel like I’m going to be grabbing cheap tee times a few times a month just to get outside for a while.

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass – A lot of games get labelled as “like Earthbound” and for the most part I get why they do. But this game completely deserves that comparison without feeling derivative in the slightest. The story is fantastic, the combat is deep and interesting, and it has style for fucking years and years. It is a triumph, it really is, and anyone who likes RPGs in general should play it, and especially if you like games that are funny and heartwrenching in equal measure.

Grandia – After I played Jimmy I wanted more RPGs, so I got the Grandia collection. I’d played Grandia 2 on my Dreamcast years ago, but never the original, and holy shit, what an amazing game. It has so much style. It truly feels like an adventure anime, in a way that games pretend they do but never really sell the characters in that correct way. I mean, the main character’s name is JUSTIN. Just incredible. Anyway, this is totally still worth a play even years later. It’s so good.

Get In The Car, Loser! – I mean, I think it should be obvious that this game is awesome because it has awesome writing and style, but I must say it’s made me want to go back and try Valkyrie Profile, as I really fell in love with the battle system.

Beast Breaker – The gameplay is top-notch, a weird “strategic peggle” that feels very fresh. It would be worth it for that alone, but I love how queer it is, quietly. It’s not “we’re a gay game!” it just has queer characters mixed in that feel very natural and not special. And I really appreciate that, honestly. That’s very nice.

Buddy Simulator 1984 – I’ve been “speedrunning” silly things off and on, normally weird things that nobody has put up a time for. But for some reason I played this game and I needed to run it. I planned out a route and executed. It was an amazing feeling. Like, I was doing more than just speeding through as fast as I could, I was speedrunning for real. Damn. As such it really has a place in my heart as my first “real” speed game. Also it’s just a fun playthrough, even if you don’t 100% it and then play it again like 20 times like I did. It’s a nice little game that wears its influences on it’s sleeve and just has fun with it.

Happy Home Paradise – They actually did it. They gave me a sequel to Happy Home Designer. Incredible.

Vital Bracelet Digivice and Digimon Vital Lab – Is this actually a game? I mean, sort of. But wow I fell in love with this little fitness toy. I always liked the idea of virtual pets but they never fit into my lifestyle. I wasn’t going to stop things to feed my Tamagotchi, no matter how cute I thought the whole thing was. But the Ghost Game Vital Bracelet I got lets you just hit two buttons to pause, and you’re raising the monsters by doing things I’m doing anyway: working out and stuff. It’s just such a nice little experience to slowly raise a little monster and check in on it throughout the day. And then you upload it into the app and get to do all the things you were supposed to do with a normal Digimon vpet with your friends at recess that I was never going to do because I am a dang adult. So you get a full experience! Plus, if other players get some motivation to go on more walks and stuff because of this, all the better. I love this little thing.

Dec 30

A Top Ten for 2020

2020. It was not great, I think we can all agree. It was bad. But I wanted to make a list of things I thought were good this year. So that’s what I’m doing. This list isn’t in any order and it isn’t in any category of “thing.” I don’t feel like making a games list, for example. But hey, here we go.

1. Riichi Mahjong – Mahjong rules? It’s this fantastic overlap of chance and skill that is just intoxicating. I’ve wanted to be able to learn the game for years, and tried many times, but Mahjong Soul hitting the mainstream, plus the helps in Clubhouse Games, pushed me over a ridge, and suddenly I understood it. I don’t claim to be GREAT at the game, and I certainly play a lot of SanMa (three-player style) which is just ridiculous and swingy as opposed to “legit” mahjong, but gosh, it’s just such a fun game. I don’t want to undersell that it is hard to learn, but once you do it is just a lot of fun.

2. You Watanabe – Earlier this year I had this moment of “Who is a big fan of You and why? I just want to understand.” Even as I asked that I knew, KNEW, I would become obsessed with her. And so I did. You is great. She’s active and cheerful and as butch as Love Live lets their girls get. Beginner’s Sailing is a fantastic solo song with a fantastic message. I really love her. Now, my first Aquors girl is still first in my heart. I will always be a little demon, Yohane! But You is a strong second. She rules. Anyway I wrote that and now I’m going to go put Beginner’s Sailing on.

3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Despite some of the weirder colonialist elements of the game, they somehow did it and topped New Leaf. I’m very impressed. It had such great customization and they’ve done fantastic with rolling out more and more fun things to do in the game to the point where it’s basically a different game now! As with me and most Animal Crossings, I don’t tend to change things, so once I got my island to a state where I really loved it, I kind of fell off. It sure would be helpful to let me have infinite things to decorate a la Happy Home Designer or something to keep me personally going! But yeah, it’s just an all-around excellent game and I love Sable Able to death the end.

4. Nijigasaki School Idol Club – Look, okay, Rina is my girl, I love her. She’s adorable and her face is the Rina-chan board and if you want to see her face behind the Rina-chan board I WILL FIGHT YOU. I could have just put her here. In fact, I reserve the right to do so later in the list if I run out of things to list. But honestly I just have to give it up to the entire Niji group. Love Live has never, ever had a stronger, more compelling group of girls, honestly. The idea of making them all go “solo” was genius, to the point where they seem to be kind of slowly trying to backport the idea to all of Aquors, which I’m into. The anime really brought the vague concept of a musical story to the forefront in a way that they’ve been playing with but never quite hit outside of the movies, and I love it. I’m really excited about seeing what they do with Superstar after this. I hope they continue to go hard into letting everyone shine individually!

5. Gunpla – I guess I could have put Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise on here instead, but this is more about building tiny robots. It’s very fun and very relaxing. It’s even more exciting when you know the characters (there’s a reason I have built like every single Re:Rise kit) of course, but there are so many cool designs and honestly unless you are very particular there are so many little cheap kits you can build for an afternoon of fun. This is really such a great hobby and I like that I got into it this year. I’m probably never going to build as regular as I have in 2020 again, but I can for sure see me putting together a few kits a year. It’s just nice to make something that is physical, you know?

6. Final Fantasy XIV – I finally gave in after years of people telling me to play this and HOLY HELL Final Fantasy XIV is good. I hadn’t even really played a Final Fantasy in years, never touched XV or whatever, but suddenly I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan again. It’s hard for me to even explain how they game literally has everything. The story is very good, with very compelling characters that are given just tons of room to breathe and grow. You’ll hate people and slowly start to like them and vice versa. It’s storytelling games rarely do! The combat is straightforward but flashy, anime, and fun. The dungeons and raids are designed so there’s a very casual tier so you can just enjoy them without having to stress TOO badly about them, but there are hard versions for the hardcore types. And I mean, the FASHION. This game knows people RP and dress up and it just gives you so much to work with in that way! It is such a blast. I mean, the game has FISHING RAIDS for gods sake. It is a complete package, and getting to play for free through Heavensward is a fucking steal. I am excited to see the story through to it’s current end and I fully suspect I will keep re-upping every time they put out a new expansion to enjoy the new story.

7. If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die – As idoltrash I really just appreciated this show a lot. It both made it obvious that obsessing that much is VERY BAD and UNHEALTHY but also showed a lot about how one finds family in fandom and finds strength in those cheering for them. It didn’t hurt that it was very, very gay. Eripiyo is just very understandable even if she’s clearly making extremely bad decisions, and knowing right off the bat that her feelings are returned makes it very easy to root for her as a protagonist. It’s also just a very funny show! Recommended if you’re into idols at all.

8. Paper Mario: The Origami King – There’s been a lot of discussion about how Nintendo has been hobbling the writers of these Paper Mario games to keep them from recreating TTYD’s charm. It sucks. But man, they took what they could and wrote their asses off, and Origami King is just a hilarious game. It oozes charm from every pore. The fact that I care and love Olivia, who looks like just the generic “character who speaks for Mario” is just obscenely impressive. The game itself has flaws. The combat is fun but only about once for each puzzle. Thankfully the game knows this and makes it basically trivial to skip combats with no downside after you’ve seen what an area is going to throw at you. It is an all around excellent release that I for sure recommend.

9. Glepnir – I kept calling this show “Murder Fursuit” and while that’s not inaccurate, perse, I feel like it really does the show a disservice. This show is a little bit shonen action, a little bit body horror, and a little bit sexual horror, in a way that all gels together into a brilliant mess. Basically nobody in this show is likable and basically everyone is “right” in some way, but they’re all constantly fucking it up regardless, and have superpowers to make things even worse. All of the show’s obvious, in-your-face allegory about sex is not subtle, but also does not shy away from any of it, which I really appreciated. It’s very good, and I very much recommend it.

10. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling – I cannot recommend this game enough. It is literally Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, full of the same charm and writing, but because it’s free from the confines of “Mario,” it’s able to weave a friendly but deep story in a really interesting world of sentient bugs and strange, twisted magic. All three of the main characters in your party are all charming as hell, the combat has a lot of interesting depth to it, especially if you try to take on the extra super-bosses (I did and it was a blast), and while nothing in the story is unexpected it’s all executed very well, like a well-done cartoon. I cannot, cannot recommend this enough. I already said that, but seriously. I cannot. Please play this game.

11. Iwa Kakeru! Sport Climbing Girls – I guess this list has 11 things on it. But this one is like… I don’t know if this show is really GOOD, perse. But it is exactly my bullshit. Ridiculous climbing powers that make me laugh out loud every time someone uses one, a strong sports competition story to move things along, and lots and lots of lesbians. I’d compare it to Keijo!! but honestly Keijo!! was going all-in on ridiculous, and while this has that base, it’s honestly telling a pretty good emotional story so far. I’m not done with it, but again, it’s my bullshit, so it gets to be a number 11.

Anyway, there’s some stuff I liked. Let’s hope for the best moving forward. Love you all.

Dec 30

I wrote a Top Ten Games of 2019 List

I feel like these lists are the only time I ever blog anymore… but you know what? That’s fine. It’s my website! I can use it for whatever the heck I want.

Anyway, let’s look at a top ten games of the year I suppose.

Notable Missing Games
Disco Elysium: I’ve played about 30 minutes of it so far and I know I’m going to love it, but I didn’t really get to it! Oh well.
Astral Chain: A big chunk of the way through it, it’s very fun! But I’m not done with it and it’s kind of forgettable in a lot of ways? So I just decided not to throw it on here.
Granblue and Bandori: I love them with the passion of a thousand suns but it would be boring if I put them on here every year.

And now, a top ten.

10. Battle Breakers: Sometime during this year, I told myself “I will never play a gacha that requires a serious time investment again.” It was a good move, I think. I put too much time into gachas. But then this thing came along and said “Hey, here’s a gacha that just plays itself in the background while you grade papers” and then I went “fuck.” The game itself is not very good. The designs are flat-out stolen in a lot of places, and the little bit of writing and humor that is in the game is awful and terrible, but I just keep playing it. So I guess it does something right.

9. Call of Duty Mobile: I also don’t know why I keep playing this game, but again, I do, so it must be doing something right. This one, though, I have a good idea on what that is. This really does feel like Call of Duty on a phone. It plays very well, using this “as long as you’re aiming at a guy we’ll pull the trigger for you” control scheme, and it’s just been so long since I seriously played a shooter, I just keep being entranced by it. This added to the fact that most matches and things are scaled for mobile play, so they’re very short, and I’ve just been having a lot of fun turning my brain off and shooting dudes. I also keep winning a lot, but I think it’s because all the 10 year olds playing with me have ancient phones and are dealing with lag my nice new phone doesn’t have. Anyway, it takes me back to my CoD4 days.

8. Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech: When I learned someone made a Slay the Spire style RPG, but like, RPG with story and stuff, I was excited to try it. And this game was very good! With five characters to choose from with unique deck types, and a lot of ways to combine them into a party of three, it was just a lot of fun. The world felt somewhat generic, but the writing was solid enough to make me like all the characters. If you like deck building stuff, please do play this. (This also made me go back and play Steamworld Heist, which is also fantastic, though not from this year. If you missed that, play that too.)

7. Wargroove: As an old school Advance Wars fan, I had to play this, and it did not disappoint. It did a lot to balance the CO powers of Advance Wars into something that made more sense, and the characters and story was a lot of fun. I did play it on a slightly easier mode, but I don’t regret that. I am not one for challenge in most things these days. But it seems like it would hit even on higher challenge levels. If you have any love for Advance Wars, and you slept on this, please don’t. Thanks.

6. Dauntless: What if Fortnite were MonHun? This is the question that Dauntless asks, and the answer is… it’d be a pretty fun game. It’s not nearly as deep as Monster Hunter, and has a ton of F2P hooks in it, but it’s very casual and breezy and designed to be played with three other randos, which MonHun is for sure not. (You can do it, of course, but sometimes you’re just going to have a group that is functionally useless. Dauntless doesn’t really have this issue). I had a lot of fun playing this right after its console launch, and it’s only gotten better with patches and updates. I still check in from time to time. It’s very good, and very free, and you should give it a try.

5. Luigi’s Mansion 3: This game has that “easy but working so hard to charm you” thing about it that makes me a lifelong Kirby fan. The gameplay is not hard (though occasionally I got frustrated trying to figure out what exactly it wanted me to do) but every moment is like “what new thing can we show you to make you smile?” It’s chill and fun and the idea of putting it in a themed hotel so that you can have a lot of different areas was a great idea. And I’m very into the lore that Luigi just has a ghost dog pet and Mario and Peach just kind of… don’t think that’s weird at all. Anyway, it’s not like… mind blowing. But it is charming all the way through.

4. Pokemon Sword: I don’t really care about collecting them all so I didn’t care about the National Dex thing. I just found this as a really fun entry in the Pokemon series. Sun/Moon blew me away with making me care about the characters for the first time in a Pokemon game. This one didn’t do a good job of that, but it was full of charm. Dynamaxing was shockingly fun, the raids were fun, the gym battles in the big stadiums with everyone cheering was fun… the Dreepy Line is the best fucking Pokemon they’ve made since Kommo-o! It was just a really good time. It certainly could have been better. Things like the wild area seemed solid but was kind of technically broken somewhat. But I really enjoyed it.

3. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne: Iceborne was a fantastic expansion that helped my MonHun obsession continue. I didn’t put in as much time as with World, because it was just More World, which was good, but I had other things to try. But so many of the new monsters were so great. I loved things like Coral Pukei, Namielle is very good, it was just a lot of fun all around. The updated move sets for the weapons with the slinger are all excellent additions that really helped a lot of issues with some weapons. There are some real bastards to fight in this version. Velkhana is just… really difficult, for example. But it’s great and worth it. I got really into Bow and Insect Glaive during this expansion, and they are both good weapons, by the way. Please play MonHun. It’s very good.

2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses: I love my war kids. Combining Fire Emblem’s titty-based trajectory with Persona was a genius move. I only played through the Golden Deer route. I would have loved to do more, but time and all that. But I really fell in love with so many of the characters. I really love Hilda, and Raphael, and Catherine… AND MANUELA! Gosh I love Manuela so much. There are so many good characters here. The story was fun, the combat was interesting, it was just everything I wanted from Fire Emblem as a late series “anime titty fan” fan of it. A good game.

1. Ring Fit Adventures: I had to put this on top because it is a game expressly made for me. An RPG where you attack by doing exercises with a big buff dragon obsessed with working out as the villain?
(Drageux is so fucking wonderful) It’s so good! On top of that, it’s just a pretty dang solid Pilates program. I have the “difficultly” maxed out, and I still tend to go a lot harder at the actual gym, (especially because the game starts pestering me about stopping for the day after like 20 minutes of workout, which is annoying) but it’s fantastic for getting in a little extra workout, or when I just feel like I’m full of energy and want to go for it for half an hour. I’m still working through the story, obviously, as it’s designed to take a while, but I am having a blast. I used it in the “Quick Workout” mode during my holiday travel as well, and it was really solid in that mode too! Ring Fit is a little expensive, but it is so worth it. I highly recommend it.

Dec 28

I Wrote a Top Ten Games of 2018 List

Hi! Long time no post!
I made a Top Ten Games of 2018 List, and it turns out, I have a blog! Neat! Let me throw that up here!

Permanent Faves I’ll Leave Off, But Trust Me, They’re Good and I Love Them

Granblue Fantasy: I love Vyrn and Lyria to death, and the game is so cute. I burned out on taking it seriously this year, but I still came back for every single event because I wanted to know every bit of story. I love the world, the characters, and this game so much.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Kept checking back in off and on all year. I’m now officially an Elder Scrolls fan I guess? I have a lot of opinions about things in that world. The game is real good solo. Please get it and enjoy it.

And now, a top ten

10. Mass Effect Andromeda: Okay, so, this game is bad in so many ways. The plot is bad, the pacing is bad, the engine and stuff is real bad. It’s not good! But the characters, I fell in love with. The cast is very good in this one. No real stinkers! Even the boring ones I still liked. But I really fell in love with Drack and Vetra. Drack is such a good cool grandpa. He’s equal parts relatable and clearly out of touch, and he’s just so rad to hang out with. He loves killing bad dudes and his granddaughter. He’s neat. And Vetra us just probably the best love interest the series has ever made. She’s very flawed but full of caring, very butch but in that way that makes it clear she’d like you to give her an excuse to be a little more femme? I love her and I’m sad that because everything else about the game was bad, I’ll likely never see any more of her.

9. Kirby: Star Allies: I love Kirby. I will always love Kirby. This game is good. But compared to Robobot? This one felt a little less exciting. It’s well put together, and all the dlc adding other characters from past games ruled. I really enjoyed playing it! But it didn’t stick with me like other games in the series. It felt like “another one of those.” And again, I’ll take phoned in Kirby any dang day! But it ends up lower on my list as a result. Sorry Kirby. I still love you.

8. Dragalia Lost: Nintendo and Cygames made a Gacha, and shock, I like it. It’s kind of Granblue light in story? I like everyone but don’t love them. But I’ve found the combat and raids very satisfying, surprisingly. They also keep updating it to make it more and more casual to play, which shocks me, but I’m into a game that is fine with me wanting to spend less time each game session, and supports it. I was expecting to drop this, but I keep coming back, so I suppose that’s a big mark in it’s favor.

7. Dragon Quest XI: This game is a monster, and I’m almost done! But it’s been a blast. Unlike other JRPGs, it doesn’t feel like it’s overstayed it’s welcome, which is amazing to me, because it is not short. But the characters are so strong, and fit the breezy fairy tale story so well. It’s also designed to be played in little spurts which is so good as a too busy adult. It’s great to feel welcome when I pick it up after being busy for a week or two. I guess enthusiasts think this is a weaker one, but I’ve so completely enjoyed it, I can’t wait to go back and try some of the more modern DQ games I’ve missed.

6. Chess: Hey, have you tried this board game called Chess? It’s kind of rad? I randomly decided to try to teach myself chess this year, and while I won’t say I’m good or anything, I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I never got why people enjoy the game, and even now that I play on a regular basis, I still don’t know if I can explain why I find it so satisfying. But to try anyway, Chess is a game that rewards you for anything you put into it. Learn the tiniest thing, and you will see your play change, and see new possibilities, and go “Oh!!” as you realize how to do something cool. I may not win often, but I’ve seen myself grow as a player over months, and I love that. Chess is good. Please challenge me to correspondence games, thank you.

5. Mario Tennis Aces: So, the single player in this is bad. Don’t buy it for that. But this is the best Mario Tennis has ever been. The racket breaking stuff seems like such a gimmick until you get into it, and then you realize how much the mechanic pushes you to execute and makes new styles of tennis play viable. The game is rock solid online, and it feels like playing a good fighting game. Only it’s Mario Tennis! And I know that! So I can complete! I need to go back to this, and I hope they have added or will as doubles tournament mode for online. But dang, it’s great to see Nintendo make such a polished online experience.

4. Bayonetta 2: I finally got to play this, and gasp, it’s super good. I replayed 1 before this, and it’s obvious how much 2 improves. I found the weapons weirder and way more fun, Witch Time much less finicky to use, and the enemy variety, with demons thrown into the mix, to be extra fun. Also, hell, I love her outfit a lot more in this one! This game is just a classic. It really is.

3. ARMS: Remember all that stuff about playing Mario Tennis online? ARMS is all that but more so. There is so much to think about with loadouts and how to bait and punish your opponents in a match. But you also just throw punches and jump around. It’s a deceptively deep fighting game that’s easy to get into, and it’s online lobbies make it feel so casual with how it mixes up modes and opponents. It’s just so good. I also really enjoyed the Party Crash events, which really made you learn other fighters and matchups. Also, this game has the best use of motion controls I’ve ever experienced? Playing with motion controls is so satisfying and does not feel like you’re hobbling yourself at all. I punched at the screen daily for so long! It’s a shame this game doesn’t get more love. But I’m giving it love! I love it!

2. Slay the Spire: Occasionally, a roguelike grabs me and does not let go. It had been a while, but Slay the Spire scratched that itch. The three characters are so different in such a satisfying way, and I love all their character designs too. Mechanically, the game does a great job at making multiple deck styles viable for each character, but forces you to make good decisions and stick with a plan. On top of that, the daily runs go from silly to fiendish, and they were a blast to dive into day after day. I love this game so much. Please play it.

1. BanG Dream!: Girls Band Party!: I played a lot of Love Live, and I like all those characters and that game. I figured I’d just fiddle with this and be done. But while I like everyone in Love Live, I absolutely love everyone in Bandori. I want to hug every character in Hello, Happy World!, and every band has characters and dynamics I find endearing. What’s more, even more than Love Live, I really enjoy the music in this game. I’ve bought a lot of it! I listen to it outside the game! This is also the first phone game like this I’ve put money into, because it has this very nice casual subscription model called the “Premium Happy Box” that is cheap and feels like a bargain. I’m happy to pay it because they put so much love into this game, with constant new stories and new songs. Bandori is doing the phone gacha game right, and I will cry about MisaKanon until the day I die because they are such a good couple, oh gosh. Anyway, it’s good. A wonderful surprise.

Feb 16

Angels with Scaly Wings

I’ve been spending my latest bit of free time playing the dragon date game Angels with Scaly Wings. Dragons are slowly but surely becoming my all-encompassing brand, so I had no choice in the matter, but also, I was kind of intrigued. It was clearly a very passionate project. And in the end, having played it, I found it really interesting. I really enjoyed it, but I also think it has enough flaws that I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Still, it’s stuck with me, so I want to talk about it for a bit.

First off, I do want to talk about why the game is poorly constructed. The game is clearly pulling inspiration from the likes of things like Zero Escape and Danganronpa. It wants to create this deadly-feeling conspiracy in a world of dragons. The end result of this, though, is something that feels very disconnected. The dragons that you date are only really minimally connected to this main plot, which makes the characters you spend the most time with and care about almost completely incidental to what happens in the “plot” proper. Endings celebrate this plot, and not your connections with characters, which makes it even worse, honestly. And while the game attempts to create a sense of tension by having characters you could date die throughout the story, it doesn’t actually feel driven by the story proper. When someone dies in a Zero Escape game, it is basically straight up your fault, and you have to try to figure out what you could have done better. If someone dies in a Danganronpa game, it’s an important part of the plot. Here, it is literally just an indication that you did not spend enough time with them, and has no real effect on the route you’re working on. Because of how the conspiracy plot makes you loop, you’d think you might also be motivated by having to set up an exacting chain of events to save everyone, but no. Once you’ve seen a character’s good ending, which honestly only feels “good” in a few instances, you can ignore them. They’ll turn out fine.

Perhaps this would be fine if the suspense thriller detective whatever parts of the game were engaging without this character involvement, but it really isn’t. It feels like an author’s early attempt at writing one of those, and while we all have to start somewhere, because the game is set up so everything hangs on it, it just doesn’t land well. The game isn’t really that long, but it still feels bloated, with more ideas tacked into it than was really necessary to get things going. Perhaps this is a “me” problem though, as I’m very much a character over worldbuilding kind of person. However, even if you’re fine with that, there are still occasional immersion-breaking jokes that just should not be there. This whole world has been set up in a specific way, for better or worse. It makes no sense for your character to say lines like “my body is ready.” It’s not even played for humor, like the narrator is making a joke. It’s just kind of there. There are some good things in the writing too, though. The game does some really smart things to establish why your character is of an indistinct gender, for example. But overall: not great.

All that being said, once you finish the game once, a strange thing happens. Usually, in a visual novel, on future runs you can speed up the text to get through parts where you already know the outcome, but you still have to track decisions and many other things. In this game, once you’ve seen it, you’re just given the option to skip sections making all the right choices. It’s pretty fantastic, actually. And what happens is, all that stuff up there, that I wasn’t really excited about? Suddenly it disappears, and you’re just dating dragons.

The game does right by its five lead characters. Even some of the “side date” characters (which I get the feeling were probably kickstarter campaign rewards. I know this was crowdfunded) are treated well. But it’s leads are well thought out, they’re charming, and they feel, for the most part, fully-realized. The passion that I talked about earlier is very clear in these characters. Someone spent a lot of time thinking about them. I really like them all. Once they’re removed from the context of the “main” story, they really shine. Are they the best dategame people ever? No, probably not, but they’re fun.

I want to zoom in most specifically on Bryce, the police chief. I’m not sure if I’ve dated a character quite like him in a dating game before. He’s a horrible flirt and a huge bro, but he really cares about his job and doing well at it. He doesn’t want to settle for “not being good at things,” but instead wants to improve, even if it’s not by much. He’s nice. But what I found unique about him is that you aren’t really dating? I mean, you are. You go on dates, he is the character you most clearly and without a doubt fuck, but the way he approaches it, and the game lets you approach it, is extremely casual. Going on Bryce’s route is not “I’ve found my soulmate.” It’s “I’ve found a fantastic friend and every so often we’re gonna blow each other before cracking open a beer.” It’s this “friends with benefits” dynamic that feels like something that would actually work, and not involve anyone being mislead or being gross. And that’s so rare, I think. You don’t see that kind of thing a lot. I loved it. Of course, if you want more traditional romances, you’ve got those covered too.

Anyway, as I said, I really don’t know if I can recommend the game. If you’re obsessed with dragons like me, you can totally date some cute dragons here! Which is nice! And I really hope whoever made this makes another game, because I feel like there are so many lessons being learned from this that’s gonna make another dating game from them shine. But as it is, yeah. It’s a thing, and there’s some thoughts on it. If that still sounds good to you, go for it, and let’s talk about it!

Jan 1

Here Are The Video Games I Loved in 2016

Hi, everyone!
Oh geez, have I really not posted over here since LAST new years? Oh well. I’ve been posting lots of words over at, so, you know, I think I’m good.
BUT VIDEO GAMES! 2016 had some of them, in theory. Let me talk a bit about what I think about them. BUT FIRST:

Evergreen Games I Cannot Stop Playing
1. Granblue Fantasy – Granblue continues to thrill me with it’s fairly friendly F2P model (it’s still energy-based, but I’ve never felt like I had to spend money, just that it would be a nice bonus), it’s wonderful, cute characters, and it’s well-written storylines that are focused purely on fun. Every month there are new stories to read, new characters to recruit and fall in love with, and more loot to find. This year I recruited two trans characters in the game. Two! And both have been treated with respect! Can you even imagine? I’m at the point of the game where it’s getting really grindy, and I don’t play it constantly like I did when I started. But that’s okay. I come back for every event, and I always love booting the game up. Granblue Fantasy is AMAZING. If you can stand phone game mechanics at all, and love anime and Final Fantasy, you are doing yourself a disservice by not playing Granblue.

2. Hearthstone – At least once a week I try to clear out my Hearthstone quest queue. I don’t really care about being good at Hearthstone? I make decks I think are neat and then lose with them all the time. But playing the game is very relaxing to me. I just put on a podcast and sling cards without thinking too hard about strategy, and I have a great time. I have problems with the game, mostly just because man, Warcraft’s humor kind of sucks sometimes, huh? But I keep coming back. Hearthstone is really, really good.

Those games would have been at the top of the list just from pure playtime. They’re fantastic! But it felt like I should separate them. So there, I did. I’m sure I’ll keep playing those two forever, too. Fun times.

But now, let’s do a top 10 or something.

10. Stories: Path of Destinies – This is a game where you play a fox swordsman named Reynardo and Batman fight ravens. The combat and gameplay in the game is fine. But what’s been done here is just an impressive amount of storytelling. You have a narrator who is reading you a story, essentially. They do silly voices for all the characters. They crack dad jokes all the time that make you groan, and insert things into the canon that are obviously bad ad-libs, like “They, uh, met at Sword-Fu School”. It’s like you’re reading a story with someone, and the story itself is interesting! There are only like 4 characters, but they are very well fleshed out. As you see all the bad endings, you really get to know them all, and start to root for them (or against them, for the assholes). And Stories has done something no video game has ever done before: had enough joke lines. The game will make a joke when you do things like open a chest. I played this game a lot, and it probably played a joke when I got a chest 50 times at least. I cannot remember one repeated line. It was amazing. This game has an awful title, but it’s actually pretty fun. A good weekend game.

9. Overwatch – Can I nominate a game based on fanart? I probably spent way more time looking at cute Overwatch art than actually playing the game. I’m just not a competitive sort, and when the playerbase started getting good, I started having less fun. But that’s fine. The game is really, really good! And the characters are super good, for the most part! I really love them all, and I had a really fun few weeks with it, for sure.

8. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – In this game I married a silly kitsune and had two perfect children. I also learned the lesson that if you get really mad, you turn into a dragon. I should be more angry more often, I guess? But yeah, Fates takes what I liked about Awakening and then makes it way more accessible through the Phoenix mode. I really do not care about difficult fights? I just wanna make the animes kiss. It made me happy that it rewarded me with a super casual difficulty so I could enjoy that part. I meant to play the other two versions as well, but I never got back to them, which is fine. I don’t play a lot of games anymore. But I really enjoyed Birthright. It was quite fun.

7. Hustle Cat – I really like Visual Novels and “dating sims” but let’s face it: a lot of them are kind of too long? There’s too much of them. Hustle Cat is short, and sweet, and very very gay. It is a fun delight, and I truly, truly love every single one of the characters. Some more than others, obviously, but they are all wonderful. Usually in a visual novel, I hate at least one of them! What a wonderful surprise. I wrote about Hustle Cat here, if you want to read more about it. But I love it so much.

6. Picross 3D Round 2 – Picross is the best. After the disappointing kind of bad free to play Pokemon Picross, it was refreshing for Nintendo to just randomly dump Round 2 on the states and get to play through the whole dang thing. It is the most relaxing way to spend your time. The only thing I was disappointed about was amiibo support, of all things. It felt like it would be obscenely easy to make a puzzle for every amiibo. But other than that, the game is just a delight. I mean, you know if you like Picross. If you like Picross and haven’t bought this yet, go get it right now.

5. Kirby: Planet Robobot – This is maybe the best Kirby game since Super Star? Maybe? Robobot takes everything that was fun about Triple Deluxe and then just flat-out improves all of it. The Robot riding mechanic is actually super cool, and gives you lots of good new powers to use. It makes you feel way more powerful, but not in a way that makes it less fun to play normal Kirby. The story is just perfect. It loves Kirby’s weird lore so much, and you can just feel it oozing from every bit of it. I loved every moment of Robobot!

4. Pokemon Sun – It was so refreshing to play a Pokemon game that felt like they had a vision for it instead of “just another one of those.” Sun (and Moon, I would assume, but I only played Sun) is Pokemon, of course, but with a fun, light storyline and a sense of playfulness in the very fights you do that pushes you along. The Trials have so much more personality than gyms ever had, and you get to know the Trial Captains as characters and actually like them! This was the first Pokemon story where I was actually really invested in it as well, which was kind of strange. I have always considered Pokemon stories to be “the thing I do to meet more cute Pokemon,” but I really cared about Lillie and Hau in a way that I can’t remember having ever done with a companion in a previous game. Anyway, Sun is delightful.

3. Stardew Valley – I remember when I first played Harvest Moon on an emulator and my mind was blown. Such a relaxing game of controlling your life and constantly improving, I really loved it. Occasionally I will play another Harvest Moon or a spinoff, and it’ll be fine, but they always feel very stuck in the past in some ways, too clunky to fully enjoy. Stardew Valley, though, takes everything I like about those games and brings them into the present day. It has that exact joy that Harvest Moon gives in working on crops and things, but on a massive scale. There are so many people to meet, and you can date most of them, and there are so many different ways you can build your farm, and so many other tasks you can dig into if you want to take a break from farming. Perhaps some people would find all those things to do overwhelming. But I found it as me never lacking for something new to dive into when I got tired. If I wanted a break from tending crops, I’d go dungeon crawling, or work on mastering the fishing minigame. I played so many hours of this game, and never tried to romance a single character! I skipped that whole part! And it was magnificent, all the way through.

2. Doom – Doom is an acceptable masculinity. It takes all these macho man tropes and then puts them into this ridiculous world where, instead of being horrific or bad, they are hilarious and perfect. I am not an old school Doom fan. I played it, of course, and I recognize how it was revolutionary. But this game transcends nostalgia. It is a game that constantly asks “can we make this more ridiculous? Can we make this more fun?” and then makes it happen. The game makes you feel like a elemental of pure death and then gives you lore files where demons literally describe you that way. It made me care about the story! I want to punch that robot! Oh my goodness, I do. That’s the depth of the story, figuring out who you want to punch, but it’s told so well, that’s just fine. If you have ever enjoyed a gunshoots game, even if you’re tired of them by now like me, you have to, have to play Doom. You will have a blast for like 6 to 8 hours. Trust me.

1. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – I had to steal a console from my brother to play this game, and I don’t regret it. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is so polished and so smart, and so fun. It’s not serious, but avoids some of the grosser “not serious” anime things. It has a clear theme, and everything in the game is built around that theme. I ranted about all that over on OnTheStick, so take a look if you want? But I really think it is a shame this game is going to be lost to obscurity on the WiiU. It is probably better than Persona 4. I love it to death. If you like jRPGs and you haven’t played it, please, give it a try. Liking Fire Emblem helps, but is not necessary to love this game, so don’t hold back.

And that’s 2016 in games, I guess! Not a bad year at all. In games, I mean. Otherwise, it was a very bad year. But the games? They were pretty good.

Jan 12

Here are the books I read in 2015

Let’s store this here for posterity. I didn’t do as much reading last year, but hey, I read some real good stuff! If you want to see my short opinions on things, please take a look.

January (1)

    Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino

(Another random thing I grabbed in a sale, I think? The story it tells is just mind-boggling. Everything that happened, so much poor judgement, so much misplaced pride… it’s just quite a tale. A fine read if the subject is interesting to you.)

February (3)

    Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

(An amazingly true study on otherness of all sorts, perhaps by accident, but very powerful, emotional, and fun. I see so much of the trans experience in Phina. I wonder what you would see. There is no doubt that this book is excellent, though. Please read it.)

    The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

(The first book was a nice enough romp. This book was the same. Fun, with a cool world. I do worry about the lead’s thought process sometimes, though. Ceony is interesting, but… made a few decisions that felt more plot-motivated than her motivated in this one. Well, in my opinion anyway. Oh well. It was fun.)

    Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart

(Another fun ride. I felt a little less understanding of what was going on than the other two books. But the characters are still a blast. It’s a really fun book. Read this whole series. Thanks.)

March (3)

    The Dead Key by D. M. Pulley

(Oh my goodness this book was SO FRUSTRATING. So many good ideas done SO BADLY. I constantly wanted to slap one of the two protagonists and the author for squandering cool stuff! I can’t really recommend it unless you have a lot of forgiveness in your heart.)

    Prudence by Gail Carriger

(You know already that I loved this, but oh my goodness, already I am in love with many of these new characters just as before. Carriger’s mastery of characterization is just… inspiring. It’s the best. If you haven’t read everything she’s ever written, you are doing it wrong.)

    Shadow Scale: A Companion to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

(Sometimes the benefit of finding a wonderful book late is that the sequel comes out a month later. Like Seraphina, this book is fantastic. It’s a YA book that brings up such concepts as picking your own pronouns like it’s nothing. The characters are wonderful, the story is sound… it’s just… damn. Read these books, please. Rachel Hartman is easily one of my favorite all time authors at this point.)

April (2)

    The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

(I liked this book. It was small and self-contained and hinted at a wide wide world but was almost completely about character interaction and romance, despite being an adventure of sorts. The resolution of the romance angle was a little abrupt, but telegraphed enough I forgave it.)

    Bible Adventures by Gabe Durham

(Another Boss Fight book. This is one of the better ones. This blends information and personal reflection way, way, way better than some other books in the series. It’s really more about Wisdom Tree than just Bible Adventures, but it was a nice enough read.)

Months Of No Reading Because I Was Writing, Mostly

September (2)

    The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

(It was fun! It’s fun. The whole series is fun. It’s not the best? If I wanted to be mean to it, I could. But it’s cute, the world is very interesting, and despite how she’s written I like the lead quite a lot. There’s some cute smooching. It’s a nice little popcorn series.)

    Metal Gear Solid by Ashly and Anthony Burch

(A fun, lighthearted discussion of the many flaws and successes of the original game. It really pulls no punches on what was great and what was awful. They do a good job with having two authors by offering different reads on various elements, from a “as a guy/girl, this says” perspective, as well as just different readings. One of the good Boss Fight entries. Give it a read.)

October (2)

    Baldur’s Gate II by Matt Bell

(The author says this book was an attempt to make him less embarrassed about liking DnD. Good for him, I guess, but I wanted a book about Baldur’s Gate II that actually discussed the game instead of talked about how he writes DnD books? So, you know. I don’t recommend this one. A unfortunate Boss Fight entry.)

    The Chess Queen Enigma: A Stoker and Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason

(I was pleased that this one didn’t waste as much time re-setting up everything as the last novel did. These continue to be a lot of fun: not particularly deep or groundbreaking, but completely enjoyable. The whole series so far is for sure a recommended read.)

November (1)

    Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

(You know this is good, so just go read it. That being said, I felt some of the romance stuff ended up a LITTLE rushed. I agreed with a lot of it but felt it needed more time to percolate. Another post-school adventure would have let that go long enough! But eh, that’s a little thing. It’s all very nice. I very much enjoyed it.)

Dec 29

Here Are Games I Liked in 2015

I played some video games this year, and they were very good! Maybe give some of these a try, if you didn’t? Here are some, badly ranked from 10 to 1.

10. The Niflheim : I finally gave in and downloaded this phone Visual Novel and gave it a try. It’s very silly in its construction. There’s PvP? You’re gathering clothes to be better at PvP? It lets you read little tiny chunks of story? The story isn’t particularly deep and has lots of weird little tangents just to draw it out? It’s all a very odd experience. But there’s something very endearing about it. The people making it clearly believe in it, and thought they want my free to play money, they refuse to demand it from me. The characters in the game make it clear they’re happy to wait for me to get more Story Tickets without paying, but they’re excited for me to come back, so spend money, if I want? I haven’t, but I have been playing it for a couple months now, and I can’t imagine stopping yet.

9. Nintendo Badge Arcade : When Nintendo wants to, it’s real good at Free to Play. I love the pink shopbunny so much. This game is just incredibly adorable, and doesn’t pressure you into paying money. Whenever it asks you for money, and you say no, you’re told that that’s fine, no big deal, I’ll see you soon! And you want to come back, because of the cute conversations with this rabbit you have. Getting a Tom Nook to replace my 3DS Shop Icon was just icing on the cake. It’s a fun 5 minute experience every day I very much enjoy.

8. Code: Realize : A Steampunk adventure smoochy game? What’s not to like! This is a really great story that sticks to its premise, which I appreciate. The game is set up like an adventure novel, and while it is a romance, for sure, you have a series of adventures with your would-be boyfriends in true steampunk style, and you know I’m into that. The protagonist is fairly well realized in most routes, and they do interesting things with the fact that she’s made of poison, and can’t be touched, which I found really fun. I’m not hot on all routes *cough*Van Helsing*cough* but it’s all a lot of fun, and the big ending with the final route is totally worth the journey.

7. Tales from the Borderlands : Who knew I’d ever give a shit about Borderlands? I mean, I played the original because I was in long-distance relationships and it was co-op. It was fine. But this game is everything that truly makes Telltale great. It’s oozing with charm, and swapping between the two protagonists makes the whole scenario interesting. I genuinely like all the characters as well. This really raises the bar from the source material and turns it into a surprisingly inclusive and fun journey. I still need to play the last episode, but the first four were totally worth it.

6. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls : This game is pure Danganronpa fan service, but I’m not complaining. It’s fun fanservice, and while the gameplay leaves a LOT to the desired, the dialog and everything is just as wonderful as the other games, and it’s totally worth your time. I thought the game did a fantastic job of making Toko into someone actually interesting instead of a weird joke, and I really appreciated that.

5. Read Only Memories : ROM creates a world filled with queer people that never questions why they’re there. They’re just part of the landscape. It’s pretty great like that. It certainly doesn’t hurt that these characters are very easy to like and interact with. Turing, especially, is really well written, and you care about your little robot friend a lot by the end of it, but every bit of the game is enjoyable. It’s a world I would for sure visit again, and a nice story that carries you through it.

4. Amnesia: Memories : Though less romantic than other VNs, this is a game with a great story. Having lost your memory due to a collision with a spirit, you find yourself in the world’s worst relationships, and have to figure out why you’re there and why they’re worthwhile. This game puts you into a murder mystery, a horror game, and just poor relationships. It goes really far with its premise, and it’s fun seeing how things are different and the same in the various alternate universes. I also really like how the game just says “Fine, just pick one,” at the beginning and is then free to tell a more fully-realized story without tracking stats with each guy. Each story is very self-contained and worth it, even the super creepy one with Toma. It’s a great play, especially if you want more depth in your VNs.

3. Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star : I LOVE THESE BIRDS SO MUCH. A collection of vaguely-holiday-themed short stories, Holiday Star is more Hatoful Boyfriend, and that’s a very, very good thing. The game is even more comedic than Hatoful Boyfriend, if you can believe it, since it’s playing with characters you already know, but it’s wonderful for it. It gave me emotions all over again, and I laughed a lot. Play Hatoful Boyfriend, and then for sure play this afterwards. And give Ryouta a hug for me. My poor sweet little birdie…

2. Hearthstone : Fuck, I played a lot of Hearthstone this year. I am the least serious Hearthstone player, though. I put on a podcast, and I play turns in three seconds, and I just clear my head. It’s perfect for that. There’s a lot of depth there I don’t always engage with, but I appreciate it’s there when I want it, as well. Since I got back into it this year, I haven’t spent a cent on it, but I’ve had a lot of fun slowly unlocking cards anyway. It’s just so polished, it’s hard not to like it, and it’s eaten TONS of my time this year.

1. Undertale : Pretend to be surprised. Undertale is amazing. Undertale made me rethink elements of my life. Undertale made me more emotional than any media experience I can recall. Undertale has created characters that I know will stick with me for a long, long time to come. Undertale made me laugh, but most of all, it made me invest in its world, more than any game I can remember. It asks that of you, and makes it so easy to do, and before you know it, you’re fully lost in it. I have had so many long discussions about Undertale and what it means and how to interpret it this year, something that so rarely happens with video games. Undertale is an experience I want everyone to have. Of course it’s the best game of the year.

Dec 1

A Reverse Correlation

I’ve been thinking about doing a No Mercy run.

When I was younger, I would write a lot of self-insert Mary Sue kinda stories. I don’t think that’s particularly weird? I’m sure all writers start there. All characters are your weird little children born of bits and pieces of you. But I can remember, in late grade school and junior high just filling notebooks with these probably awful stories about me. I would go on scout trips and everyone else would be doing manly man stuff and I’d be sitting there writing about kissing in this notebook I wouldn’t let anyone see.

The thing about these stories, though, was that I was always the villain. Or if I wasn’t the villain, there was someone who was “me” with a different name, and the person with my name was the villain. I would cast my friends as heroes, fighting against all odds, and myself being those odds. I’d create little versions of myself that might be a hero, but pit them against me. I was normally a very reluctant villain at least? I’d apologize for what I was going to do before I’d try to kill people, or kill people. But I was always bad. I was the problem.

I guess it’s not really that surprising, given where I was as myself. I was deep in depression (it got worse, but it was there) and couldn’t help but think of myself, my real self, as anything but a problem. The idea of me existing was one that my parents and even my best friend at the time pushed back extremely hard against. I was a problem, a roadblock, to their happiness. I was a villain, or so my depression told me.

I remember in high school having this revelation where, if I was always going to be awful, a problem, a villain, I could at least raise people up while I crashed down. If I was doomed, and at that point I thought about killing myself basically constantly so it seemed likely, I could at least help others not be doomed, and be better. I could be a catalyst for raising people up. So I started to approach personal interactions this way. I put others before myself not in a “how nice, how helpful” way but in a self destructive way, most of the time. I made myself miserable doing it. I made a lot of mistakes. But just like in those stories I wrote, where I was the evil in the world, I could make others shine. There’s no light without dark, right? I did evil in those stories to make those important to me look better, looking back on them. And I did the same thing here.

Ironicus, on a podcast, talked about the No Mercy run of UNDERTALE as interesting because it lets you see the same characters in a different situation. It lets you be the villain, and see how everyone else would stand up to be heroes. I’m not doing too well mentally recently, and I find myself once again brushing up against these “anyone else but me” self-destructive tendencies, as I often fall back on when I’m not doing well. And I put on the UNDERTALE soundtrack, and I hear all the songs I didn’t hear because they’re not for Mercy. And I think about the tidbits I’ve picked up about all the fights, and all the things that happen in a No Mercy run. And I find myself thinking, what IF they were the heroes? What if all these wonderful characters I really, truly love didn’t need me, because who am I? Why do I get to help SAVE the world? What makes me so special? Wouldn’t it be better if I helped prop them up, and saw them shine?

It’s an appealing thought.

The problem is, of course, if I played No Mercy, I’d have to win, on character after character. I’d have to kill. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t want to put Frisk through that. I don’t want to put anyone through that. But it’s necessary, to be the villain. To see a True Hero. Isn’t it?

It’s a silly thought, and I know I won’t do it. But I keep thinking about it.

I worked really hard to see myself as the hero in my own story. I still work on it, every day, this idea that I am worth having a story. I am worth being something. That I’m interesting, and capable. It’s really important to do, and I wonder how much other people struggle with that feeling. Or if they do at all. I’m going to keep working on it, and be the hero, don’t worry. I mean, it’s a real fucking weird story I’m the hero of, but I’m going to keep on it. I can be the hero, AND help my friends. I can have a good life.

But I don’t know if I’m ever going to shake that feeling of being the villain.

I don’t know.

Oct 31

Horror Game Curse Roundup!

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile, blog. I’ve been writing other things. Novels and such.

I’ve also been writing Horror Game Essays for On the Stick!
You remember how I’ve always done that, right? This year was no exception!

Anyway, I just wanted to put them all here, to have them all in one place, in case you missed some of them. I wrote a lot of nice things, I think!

First off, I wrote about Danganronpa 2, and how the game’s use of gamification in all of its interactions helps to create the proper sense of both closeness and distance for it to really make you care about everyone.

I wrote an article about Ultra Despair Girls, and how it works to turn a fairly one-note character of questionable stereotypes into a well-rounded character you care a whole lot for.

I wrote a very difficult and personal essay about UNDERTALE, specifically Toriel, and why the game reflected so heavily on some of the hardships in my life. This contains spoilers for a lot of the game, though I don’t get into a lot of specifics.

I wrote about the recent Visual Novel Amnesia: Memories, specifically one of the routes, Diamond World, and it’s fairly upsetting portrayal of Big/little, Dom/sub dynamics.

I wrote about Monsterhearts, a tabletop roleplaying game I really, really, really like. It captures that teenager feeling so well, and it plays with themes anyone can pick up, and I tried to explain why.

Finally, I wrote about Hylics, and why a game about face melting and weird creatures is really all about being able to relax.

Phew, that’s a lot of stuff to read, huh? If you go back and take a look at any of it, I hope you like it. It was fun, as always, to pretend to be a games writer for a month! You should also check out everyone else’s videos and essays and whatnot! Tons of cool stuff on there.
Anyway, back to all my usual writing. Short Stories and Novels! Huzzah!
Happy Halloween!