2020 52 Games in 1 Year Challenge!!
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    Welcome to the 2020 thread for badgers that fancy trying to play 52 games in a year to whatever they decide is some form of completion. Tell us how you're doing and what you are going to play next - either claim a post and update on your progress or keep posting your completions and then do a final count post at the end of the year! Even if you're not gonna make it to 52 and you’ve made efforts before and got nowhere near, it's a good way to record all your completions/failures/hates and give others your impressions or maybe get some info from them on said game!!


    So simple usual stuff!!

    How do I take part?

    Claim a post! Write down the game and your thoughts about each one in this format for your post:


    How do I know when I've completed a game?

    Up to you, it could be completing the game or playing 10hrs+ if it no ending or a multiplayer game. Replays count as long as all the games are completed in 2019.

    Do I have to record time?

    No. But you can if you like!! If so you could potentially see how long you’ve spent on games this year and then wonder how you got away with it!

    Do I have to review or comment on the games I complete?

    No but it'd be nice to give a few words or maybe a quick score. Full blown reviews or mini-reviews aren't necessary and will just make it an incredibly big post,though they will be anyway.

    Do episodic games count as a single game or X amount of games?

    That's up to you. It's alright to count something like Life is Strange as one or five games. Your choice.

    Can I finish a game I started in 1992 and count that?


    What should I do once I've completed the challenge?

    Shoot me a PM! If it takes off and people keep me updated I'm more than happy to FINALLY sort out a prize system?

    Is there a deadline?

    End of the current year!!!!

    People who have completed the challenge will be posted here, please send me a PM once you’re done or if I’ve missed you as it’s hard reading through them all as they end up being recorded everywhere!!



    Winners and in what year:

    Muzzy in 18-52!!
    Wario in 18-52!!
    Moot in 18——72!!!!!!
    Moot in 20 - 111!!!!
    Retro in 20 - 52!!

    Others results in past Years:
    Verecocha: 17-38, 18-22, 19-29 (STILL Pathetic)
    Hylian Elf: 17-25, 18-13, 19-12
    Muzzy: 17-59, 18-52
    Webbins: 17-27, 18-41
    Andy: 18-12
    Monkey: 18-7
    Wario: 18-52
    Moot: 18-72!!!
    JonB: 18-30
    Nina: 18-13

    GOOD LUCK!! After the last couple 3 years of FAILURE I’m gonna need more than luck it BUT I’M MORE DETERMINED THAN EVER!!!

    ( Will update results and hall of fame ASAP! Just wanted it up and running before I was KILLED!)
  • 1.Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - 18 hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Really didn’t like this for a good while. Felt clumsy, rushed, no connection to Star Wars, didn’t feel at all like a Jedi, absolutely sucked, but...I persevered and ended up absolutely loving it. When you have a few skills unlocked, a better connection to the force, a badass lightsaber and you get into the story it becomes amazing. By the end I enjoyed the characters, felt like I had control of the force and could dispatch enemies at will, hold my own against the bosses until I understood their patterns and kinda didn’t want it to end. That was awesome.

    2.Horizon: Zero Dawn - 24 Hours - 8/10 - PS4 PRO

    Decided to go back, for a third time...and finally stuck to it and finished this. Unluckily the first time I think it was up against Zelda, the second time I never really tried I don’t think, but this time I pushed through the relearning curve and it is without question an amazing game. Absolutely stunning, good to play without being great, an interesting world and enjoyable story, and most of the main characters are interesting as well as the main being very much so. There’s definitely something missing but I can’t quite put my finger on it. But, I have definitely enjoyed it at the third attempt, really glad I went back...again.

    3.Shadow of the Colossus - 6 Hours - 3/10 - PS4 PRO

    I hated that. I absolutely hated it. After Horizon I thought I’d look for another unfinished and when I saw it was relatively short I thought I’d go back. Had Colossi 4-16 to destroy and I didn’t enjoy anything but the visuals. The controls are abysmal. The Colossi are boring. The world is beautiful but empty and boring. There’s no challenge beyond getting the character to actually do kind of what you want. The horse is abysmal. As I said, everything but the visuals. That is easily the worst game I’ve forced myself to finish. After seeing the metacritic score all I can thing is people are letting it off because of the team behind it and the fact it’s different and blah blah as that was fucking awful.

    4.Man of Medan - 6 Hours - 4/10 - PS4 PRO

    Really, really disappointing. Really enjoyed Until Dawn and so thought I’d pick this up at some point and wish I hadn’t. Story was rubbish, looked good but was technically rather woeful, lots of odd loading screens and jumping between scenes due to choices, and then it just ended. Such a disappointment. Got a few jump scares but wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

    5.Infamous: Last Light - 3 Hours - 6/10 -PS4 PRO

    Not a bad game, remembered really enjoying Second Son so when I saw this cheap I thought why not. Like the Infamous universe and series so immediately enjoyed the little story, gameplay and abilities on show, but, the controls absolutely sucked being a southpaw, that really brought the score down for me. Still looks stunning even now and have no idea how much it cost at release but even for a tenner to finish it in one sitting was a disappointment. Hope there’s more from this universe though as it is good fun.

    6.Vanquish - Remaster - 8 Hours- 10/10 - Xbox One X

    What a game, what a remaster, 4K @ 60fps, stunning. One of the best games of its gen, bettered and more awesome than ever. Been excited ever since I heard about the remaster so picked it up as soon as I’d heard it’d dropped. Such a great game, movement, range of weapons, level and enemy designs, great cover system, it’s just all magnificent. Still looks incredible, great artwork and simplicity never gets old. Absolutely loved playing through this again and can’t think of a single negative.

    7.Anthem - 8 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Hmm...well, it was all bad, then kinda good, then lots of good bits, but no narrative or any other means to pull it all together, it’s just a lot of good ideas, good weapons, awesome movement and stunning looks all thrown into a void without character, charm, wit, it all just exists in a weird vacuum. Such a shame as had they created half a world as interesting as Destiny with Anthem additions it could have been a mainstay for years, instead after finishing the main...story...I’m more than done with it. For the few quid it can be picked up for it’s worth it, but it could have been worth so much more.

    8.Dead Space - 8 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X Spruced

    Still just perfect. Just fancied playing it for some reason and man am I glad I did. Absolutely everything is spot on. And it literally just came out of nowhere. Still gets quite a few jumps out of me too...Not sure how much work the X was doing but it looked fabulous and the sound was still tremendous. Now I simply have to play the second. But not the third. If only they’d make another entry.

    9.Division 2:Warlords of New York - 6 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Ace coming back to New York, and ace coming back to The Division 2. Great bit of DLC with tons of content that’ll keep me playing, but that’s the main story content done. Finally the Keener story comes to an end...but more of course appears afterwards. More very similar but awesome weapons and armour, the gunplay is still perfection. Best cover shooter alongside Gears. And Christ it’s beautiful. Thoroughly enjoyed the DLC, completely worth the entry fee.

    10.Dead Space 2 - 7 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Man that was awesome. Again spruced up by the X it looked incredible and felt like playing a new release. Even better than the first in my opinion, just terrific. Throws everything at it but somehow it seems to all stick. Good follow up story, return to weapons and system upgrades and never lets up the pace, now...do I even attempt 3 as I can’t remember anything about it...which can’t be good.

    11.Dead Space 3 - 8 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Now I remember why I didn’t remember Dead Space 3. That was just awful, what a terrible waste of a series. I could understand somewhat the change to action IF the action was great, but it was abysmal. Closet scares aside there isn’t any scares or ‘horror’ in it, though potentially the horror of playing it is what they were getting at? I’m sure I’ll forget it all over again in no time. Worst playing, worst looking and a total waste in the series.

    12.Doom Eternal - 10 Hours - 9/10 - Xbox One X

    What an awesome ride. Not gonna lie, it took a little getting into, I was worried that maybe I remembered Doom 2016 far too positively and it wasn’t the game I remembered, but after a couple of hours it all sinks in and just gets better and better. Sound is incredible, visuals outstanding, levels are just one room of non-stop action after another aside from the one thing that brings the score down. The swimming and climbing/jumping sections are just awful, really irritating. It says a lot that the rest of the game is that good that you can simply look past them. Seriously, buy this game and Rip and Tear.

    13.Resident Evil 3 Remake - 6 hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Oh man that was THE SHIT! Just awesome. Absolutely incredible looking, perhaps the best I’ve seen in a number of ways and great sound pumped out too. It’s a reimagined Resident Evil 3 really with a number of changes, new environments, weapons, all the normal additions. But it’s just so good from beginning to end. Never lets up but you never run out of breath or get bored with the pace. May only have been short, but I more than got my monies worth. I’d rather have 10 awesome short campaigns to play then 1 long game that despite its quality can get tiresome. Too many contemporary games last an age and you end up wanting them to come to an end. This I want to dive straight back into. Easy 10, couldn’t be better.

    14.Resident Evil 3 Remake - 2 hours - 20/10 - Xbox One X

    Yep I’m having this as its another game completion, took a lot of planning and restarts. No saves, deaths, under 2 hours, S ranking. Was a blast. Now I’ll move it on and come back and play through it again at a later date as it’s AWESOME

    15.Bulletstorm-Full Clip Edition- 10 hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Had good memories of playing through this on the 360 so picked it up for a run through and wasn’t at all disappointed. Just a good simple FPS from a time when there seemed to be another released every week. With that same Unreal chunky industrial touch to absofuckingloutely everything, but it always worked for me. Totally nuts in pretty much every department with some of the best one liners I’ve heard. Feels very heavy and a little slow these days but certainly still an enjoyable romp, however whereas last time I played it I instantly wanted to play through the score attack levels, this time I’ve had my fill.

    16.Assassin’s Creed Origins - 30 hours - 7/10 - Xbox One X

    This was really good, not my usual, not what I expected, and I had to purchase it 3 times before I eventually finished it, but it was really good. I’m pretty sure this is the first in the series to introduce the levelling system, or at least such a thorough one...though I could be wrong...And I’ll be honest, it really did initially put me off, I didn’t want nor expect such a massive world that I had to traverse to continue the main storyline.

    I just wanted the straightforward campaign to run through, and when I met resistance to this it really put me off so I dropped it. The second time I went back to try again as there was a lot of quality but again, doing all the side quests was driving me nuts. I much prefer immediate action and rewards so again, gave up. BUT after getting through a lot of immediate reward and action I decided I fancied a slower pace so went back. And this time, I loved it. It’s stunning, sounds great, has a deep and interesting story and it was nice how it all tied together, plus did I say it was stunning? Bought Odyssey on the back of this seeing it as a slowwwww burner whilst I also play my usual Gears/Resi/Halo types.

    Though I do wish there was an option to make it difficult but not because of some stupid levelling system...

    17.Streets of Rage 4 - 2 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Never really played anything in the genre bar Metal Slug and Super Probotector but the hype around this was huge and as it was on Gamepass it made it a no brainer...and thank god it was. Absolutely aces, such great character to the entire product and obviously made with love. The attention to detail and gorgeous graphics satiated my eyes, the score is awesome and fits perfectly with the beat, and the comic style story sequences are sumptuous.

    I’m not great at it being a bit of a beginner to the genre now, but it’s good enough to make me want to get better and play through the originals and maybe some similar series available now.

    Really glad I picked this up, just good fun.

    18.Assassin's Creed: Odyssey-68 hours-10/10-Xbox One X

    One of the games of the gen. Outstanding. I loved pretty much everything. The story, the characters, the world, the combat, the depth to the mechanics, the branching storylines, the slight choices you could make, it was all just perfect for me. The addition of crazy Greek mythology was a surprise maybe 20 or 30 hours in which added even more value. Just awesome.

    Absofuckingloutely stunning to look at, great sound design, good control of such a range of moves etc, I could have stayed here forever. Have bought the season pass to add more to it as I’m just not ready to leave yet.

    Best Ass Creed by a country mile and in my top 5 this gem. Loved it.

    19.Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - Legacy of the First Blade -12hours- 8/10-Xbox One X

    Good bit of DLC this, decent storytelling, some good new characters, good enemy, and adds some more abilities and gameplay additions across the sandbox. Increased my attachment to the character and the overall story.

    All within the amazing Odyssey world that I’ve still not had enough of yet....

    20.Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - 6 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Great campaign, shows it’s age a little bit but still great pace, usual crazy CoD Hollywood storyline that I always enjoy the obvious madness of, and some of the best set pieces money can buy. Was great to play through and remember some really excellent levels and play in that crazy world again. Look forward to 3 remastered.

    21. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - Fate of Atlantis -12hours- 10/10-Xbox One X

    One of the best bits of DLC I’ve played. Yes it’s all the same missions over and over again but the stunning worlds they built and the mythology present throughout is truly incredible. The extra abilities, armour types and features they put in were also terrific and I wish I’d have had them all the way through. However by this point Alexios is an Isu-Human hybrid and he’s well aware so I suppose it makes sense only now would he fulfil his potential.

    I loved that and I’m quite sad my time with Alexios in Greece, Elysium, the Underworld and Atlantis is at an end.

    22. Devil May Cry HD - 6 Hours- 7/10-Xbox One X

    What a great game. Still holds up in so many ways and it’s really just great fun. You can see so much of the Resi 4 in it they never changed, some of the music is identical which is a nice touch. It’s batshit mental in terms of story, character and how both of those develop, but it’s all the better because of it. Onto number 2...unfortunately.

    23. Devil May Cry 2 HD - 5 Hours- 1/10-Xbox One X

    Right now I’m thinking this is the worst game I’ve ever played. It looks awful, it’s slow, devoid of character, story, personality, but worse than all that, it has it all in the previous entry in abundance even if total silly nonsense. This is just absolutely awful in every single way. I will never, ever play that game again in my entire life. Absolutely bloody awful.

    24.Devil May Cry 3 HD - 10 Hours- 8/10-Xbox One X

    Much better. A real sequel, if prequel, to the first game. Great looks, good characters again after absolutely no character in the last, and a batshit fun storyline. Liked the implementation of styles however thought the many weapons didn't really add anything and they could have made them more useful against certain enemies. But, aside from that it was pretty awesome.

    25.Final Fantasy 7 Remake - ? - / - PS4 Pro

    Yeah, completed as in completed my attempt at playing it. Really couldn’t get into it. Cheesy, uncomfortable, terrible writing and characters, lots of it looked amazing but lots of it looked so bland, and what I played was just awfully linear in comparison to what I expected. Particular low point was searching for a girls kittens...it was just abysmal and really made me think ‘what in gods name am I doing?!’. But I admit it’s not my thing and it’s just a particular culture of gaming that’s really not me.

    26. Devil May Cry 5 - 10 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    That was awesome!! Can’t believe I’d not played it until now. Perfect mix of everything DMC. Stylish, fun mad story, great characters, looked absolutely stunning, played beautifully. Perfect DMC. Can’t say a tremendous amount about it as it’s DMC, you stylishly take on waves of Demons, kill a few bosses, and enjoy some corny devilish jokes, but what a ride! Hope the series continues even if it continues to do only what it says on the tin.

    27. God of War 3 Remastered - 10 Hours - 6/10 - PS4 Pro

    Good fun little hack and slash that is what it is and nothing more. Usual fun Demi God vs Gods story, good action, irritating QTE’s and even more irritating flying sections BUT when it’s just crazy combat with a little puzzling included it’s good fun. Imagined there may have been a little more set up for the next in the series but alas, it just, ends. Decent fun and has aged well for a ten year old game.

    28. The Last of Us 2 - 25 Hours - ?/10 - PS4 Pro

    So it’s over. Really don’t know what to think. I understand why they ended it like that, but I just didn’t enjoy said ending whatsoever. I have very mixed feelings about the entire game and at this moment in time I really don’t know what to think about it.

    I don’t like a lot of the decisions they made about the story or characters and I really don’t think they needed to literally smash their points home over and over again.

    Just a bit empty about it all.

    29.DMC - 10 Hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Not a bad DMC game, but got rather boring very quickly. All the environments are so dull and boring and there’s none of the fun cheesiness one there. Takes itself too seriously. Just doesn’t add anything or perfect the formula, can’t really say much about it...so just feels kind of ok, perfect 6.

    30.Vergils Downfall - 3 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Well, that was rather uninspired...it was ok, but again, just ok. No real story, lots of reused assets and environments, just a poor excuse of some paid for DLC at release. Only DMC4 left now and that’s all of them.

    31.Control: Foundation - 6 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    I absolutely loved Control when it was released so any excuse to go back I’ll grab with both hands, and I’m glad I did. This is an excellent bit of DLC, good bit of story that makes sense...as much as Control can...beautiful environment, as much as you can make of a foundation system beneath the oldest house, decent new mechanics and enemies, and more time in the awesome Control universe. Only downside was buggy last boss which was a disappointment, but that was the only downside. Aside from that very good bit of DLC and cannot wait for the next slice, just wish they’d planned for more.

    32.Daymare - 3 Hours - 3/10 - Xbox One X

    Fancied this so decided to give it a go for £15...just don’t. It’s abysmal. Looks awful, awful frame rate, awful enemies, script, everything really. In fact that’s about it. Just don’t. I just could not play anymore and deleted it from my HD and felt dirty. But not even in a good way, just muck dirty.

    33.Ghost of Tsushima - 30 Hours? - 8/10 PS4 Pro

    Strange as I’m glad that’s over, but at the same time I truly will miss it. Overstayed its welcome but there’s no denying it’s a beautiful game at times with an absolutely fantastic combat system combined with a simple but enjoyable story. At times it’s one of the beauties of the gen, with some incredible use of HDR, absolutely stunning scenes in some places that really do make you stop to appreciate them. The combat is excellent too, sticking to a sword throughout sounds limiting but you can switch between stances on the fly best suited to certain foe. It certainly isn’t rocket science but it keeps you switching it up and developing different tactics as the game progresses and didn’t get old for me once, loved feeling like a Samurai bad ass taking down groups of enemies, striking fear into their comrades as I mowed them down and then also stuck the instant kill black and white super bad ass mode on for a few kills if I’d struck down 6 without being touched.

    What a fucking awesome game that really let me be a movie Samurai throughout.

    Only bad points would be it lasting a little too long, having some very flat scenes that looked much worse because it was usually so stunning, and some characters with some boring missions to fill out their individual stories. Still absolutely loved it and I’m gonna miss being the ghost and tearing through some mongol dogs trying to fuck to my island.

    34.Control: AWE - 4 Hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Well...it was more Control which is always a good thing...but was it too much or was there just so little new that it was disappointing? Expected a lot of the Alan Wake link and was left disappointed. Hardly anything beyond admittedly interesting collectibles. Could’ve been much, much more. Kinda sad to end my relationship with Control on that note...few extra bits but, my time there is done.

    35.REmake - 10 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Really running out of stuff I wanna play this gen and fancied another RE run through, AND I’ve never actually completed a Chris play through. Gone through as Jill god knows how many times, and I think it might have been the only RE I’ve not completed with all available characters. Not anymore! Still such a great game, can’t say anything that hasn’t been said about it before. Stone cold classic.

    36.Crysis Remastered - 10 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    What a technically borked release. Right from the off problems everywhere. Poor framerate whatever you do, mixed options present mixed problems, bad enough on a PC but on a console it’s just a joke. This will very probably be the last of my money Crytek will get unfortunately as I don’t know how they dared release it.

    Aside from that, when you can get it just about running, there’s a good game buried in there but to be honest it shows it’s age in so very many ways and without the incredible looks wow factor it’s just a half decent game.

    Nostalgia has added at least 3 points to the score.

    37.Detroit: Become Human - 12 Hours - 7/10 - PS4 Pro

    Loved this. Walking sim, heavy on QTE’s and god awful motion controls but loved the simple age old story and cardboard cutout characters.

    Sound was great and of course looks absolutely stunning. Some boring sections but then reversed to good story or action sequences and by the end I was engaged in the stories of all the characters and genuinely cared for them and their outcomes.

    Always love a good story driven walkathon with the Mrs and this had us both reasonably captivated.

    38.Evil Within - 11 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Only the second play through of this after I completed it on its release. What a fantastic game. Great characters, interesting crazy story, the different ways they drive the story through the ever changing environment is aces, and playing through again on an OLED on the X made it look absofuckingloutely incredible. Real survival horror classic, got the DLC to play through now just to spend more time with it. Awesome game.

    39.Evil Within 2 - 12 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Just perfect. I seriously can’t find a fault with it. In fact I’m not sure if it was bettered for the X or if extra options were simply inserted at another point after release but it has a performance mode which didn’t miss a beat or drop a frame. It’s absolutely stunning and the sound is incredible. Good story, terrific gameplay perfected since the first with so many combat and stealth options, a little open worldly feeling but not too big at all, and the perfect length for a game if it’s type.

    One of the best games of the gen. Simple.

    40.Star Wars - Squadrons - 9 Hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    So it was good, just not great. Right from the off I knew it wasn’t really for me so it was a bit of a struggle to finish. Without a doubt built for VR as I just didn’t feel any immersion, sense of speed or excitement in playing through the TV. Some of the ships were just boring to use, a lot felt like they just lacked character, and pretty much ALL of the characters lacked any character.

    Looked amazing and the sound work was amazing but Just not for me. Was looking for the new Rogue Squadron and just didn’t get it.

    41.Astro’s Playroom - 5 Hours - 8/10 - PS5

    Wow, what a charming little game. Super glorified demo but shed loads of fun. I wonder if any game will ever make use of the DualSense like this? Controls were great, games fun and quirky, short and sweet and I couldn’t help but collect everything possible. Just pure fun. A Nintendo game on a Sony console.

    42.CoD: Cold War - 5 Hours - 7/10 - Series X

    Another good CoD campaign, look forward to them every year and whilst it wasn’t one of the better ones it was still good.

    Nice bit of Cold War here and there, some Nam thrown in for good measure, psychological torture and madness levels, good mixed bag of a campaign. Some good returning characters and the new ones were pretty good too. Was nice being able to pick a few SP perks for your character too, nothing deep at all but a little bit of fun.

    Technically good, looked beautiful in places but held back a little by the last gen. 120hz made it super smooth and it was a pleasure to play. Far too short but I suppose it’s meant to be played through at least 3 times. Will move on now while it’s worth is high then pick up again at a later date to go through again for some more fun.

    43.Spider-Man: Miles Morales - 8 Hours - 7/10 - PS5

    So let’s get it out of the way, this is super overpriced DLC, it’s short, the missions are stretched out by just adding more enemies and making restarts rather vicious, kill 39 guys and die on the last? Right back the start a good 10 minutes ago. But...it’s not bad.

    It can be stunning and the Ray-Tracing truly is beautiful. The sound is spot on and the soundtrack is bang on for the character. And really it is fun. Swinging around as Spidey can’t be dulled and the fighting with new extra Morales points can still be fun and look spectacular even if it’s not too technical. And the story isn’t bad and I had a tiny man cry at the end.

    Overpriced DLC boxed up for Next Gen but it did do it’s bit.

    44.Gears - Tactics - 12 Hours - 8/10 - Series X

    That was ACE! Not a huge fan of RTS games but Gears suited this perfectly! Split into 3-Acts with a number of chapters in each as well as side missions too, all obviously quite similar just in different environments with a number of different enemies keeping it fresh. Number of characters with slightly different abilities and loads of options to upgrade them giving each one totally different skills and different ways of playing when picking your crew.

    Story was usual Gears stuff and was interesting enough. And the characters were usual Gears too with a few angry civvies thrown in. Game looked awesome and had particularly good sound too.

    Loved playing this and every mission could quite easily turn into a proper battle if you got it wrong but even then it was ace getting stuck in. Really hope there’s some DLC for this and it’s had enough love to warrant a sequel!
  • 1. Her Story (Mac) - 6/1 - 5hrs
    A great interactive story really. Use search words and terms to unlock clips (over 200 of varying lengths from a few seconds to a minute) of a woman being interviewed by cops, and piece together the story. But it’s so well put together, works really and is surprisingly compulsive in trying to find more videos. Hits get less successful (diminishing returns) as you progress obviously but there is a skill to it (listen carefully to the clips and suss out key words that may occur across more than one clip etc). Well worth a few quid and few hours of time. Onto Telling Lies shortly.

    2. Astral Chain
    (Switch) - 10/1 - 30hrs
    Slow start but once this got going and you unlock some abilities and skills, the combat is good Platinum stuff as always. The mix of styles is good and works really well. Not the best example of each genre it puts into the mix, but the overall game is far better than the sum of its parts.

    3. Vanquish (Xbox One) - 12/4 - 6hrs
    Slightly underwhelming at first, given all the praise this gets. But from about halfway through the game, once I got better at sliding, dodging, slowing down time and generally being a cool badass, it became so much better. So fun and so so cool. Will be replaying immediately.

    I missed Inaba in the credits, dammit.

    4. Doom Eternal (Xbox One) - 30/4 - c25hrs
    Bigger, better and more badass!  Wait, wrong shooter series...
    I liked this more than the first.  Mainly due to what I think are better designed levels.  Pacing is great and the combat encounters are as frantic and adrenaline pumping as ever.  A couple of weak boss fights aside, there isn't much to complain about here.

    After I finished the campaign, I went back via mission select and mopped up collectibles and just enjoyed whooping ass while dashing and jumping around and bathing in the glory (kills).  So satisfying.  Started the Extra Life Mode for the final campaign achievement but I think that'll be too much.

    Would play again in the future, but for now I'm done.

    5. Streets for Rage 4 (Xbox One) - 6/5 - 3hrs??
    Never played a SoR before, but it really is quite possibly the best beat ‘em up around. But that’s not saying much. This is one for the retro heads. Cos it’s amazing how far games have come and how unenjoyable these retro games can be.

    SoR4 was enjoyable in some parts but I just found the whole experience a bit frustrating. Too many enemies with insta-moves, getting trapped between attacks, being bounced from one attack to the other, getting rushed - cancelling moves into a dodge or something like that would’ve done wonders. Other little frustrations too spoil the game. I was also disappointed there were no stages in a different style to break up the repetition like a chase sequence or something.

    Still, thankfully I didn’t pay for it , it was on Game Pass. I’ll mark it up a notch for that.

    6. Shikhondo (PS4) - 8/5 - 3hrs??
    An average shmup by some Korean outfit, with mechanics not dissimilar to Cave’s output. But it lacks the polish, finesse, pacing and excitement of the games it’s trying to be like. I finished it with both characters but won’t be bothering with high score chasing. Don’t bother with this, just play a Cave game instead.

    7. Vanquish (Xbox One) - 10/5 - 5.5hrs
    Hard mode done! That was awesome. Even better than on normal. I have more playthroughs in me but I’ll give it a little break. What a game!

    8. Bayonetta (Xbox One) - 15/5 - 10hrs
    Yep. It’s still a [10] and the best game of its kind by a country light year. As if there was any doubt. PlatinumGames a go-go, baby.  Insta-death QTEs can just fuck right off, though. Oh, and Gracious & Glorious. The cunts.

    9. Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) - 25/5
    Left this years ago, thought I’d polish off the single player. It’s soulless unlike its cousin, but the audio visuals and the car handling and racing is great. But only once you get to the later series and need to use the faster race cars. If I had the time, I’d spend ages doing time trials!

    10. New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe (Switch) - 23/6 - c10hrs
    Co-op with my Boy. Frustrating in places, but was mostly fun. Co-op shenanigans aside, the game itself is one of the best 2D Marios. Great levels and the right level of challenge - not easy, not too hard. There’s nothing really not to like here. I gave it a [9] when I first played it with my little kids watching me. That score hasn’t changed playing it in co-op with them now that they’re older.

    11. The Last of Us Part II (PS4) - 26/6 - 36hrs
    A rollercoaster ride of a game, which perhaps goes on for too long (or at least some of the middle feels padded). With ups and downs, twists and turns. Just like the first game then, but on balance, I do prefer the original.

    Whilst the gameplay is vastly improved, with combat, weapons, stealth, puzzles, traversal, area design and the encounter layouts all being better this time round, my personal preference is the first mainly for its central plot and the characterisation.

    That’s not to say they’re bad in the sequel. Don’t want to say much for fear of spoiling the game for those who haven’t played/finished it, but I had mixed feelings about some of the narrative direction. And then there are the ways in which certain themes and/subject matters are handled. That being said, the delivery is powerful. Never before has a game made me feel the way I did with this - but again, that could be partially attributed to the narrative strength of the first game and the bond with Joel and Ellie that that created for me.

    I suppose a word or two should be said about how good the game looks both technically and aesthetically. It really is beautiful and I often found myself stopping to just look around (and taking screenshots).

    There are some issues, equally there is some really strong and unparalleled storytelling and delivery from the peerless acting for a video game. But I’ll leave that for the inevitable spoiler thread. For now, this is a [10] with a point docked for some bloat and thematic issues (for me). There’s also a point about player agency that I won’t go into here.

    12. Shadow of the Colossus (2018) (PS4) - 12/7 - c8hrs
    As great as it ever was.  Not sure about the look of the game; in some place it's absolutely beautiful, probably more thanks to the world design, but in some places some of those textures just make it look ugly to me.  But at least it plays the same.  Even down to a couple of the colossi just being frustrating.  I had forgotten a lot of the game so it was nice figuring things out all over again for a few of the colossi.  Will tackle time trials next and might do a hard mode run.

    13. Telling Lies (Switch) - 22/9 - 4hrs
    I love piecing a story together, bit by bit. This had a good story and interesting characters, but I didn’t enjoy the task of going through the files as much this time round. I liked Her Story better.

    14. A Short Hike (Switch) - 7/11 - 2.5hrs
    What a lovely, relaxing, gorgeous, and touching little gem of a game. Finished it in one sitting, one of the most pleasurable short gaming experiences I’ve had. Absolutely essential.

    15. MO: Astray (Switch) - 19/11 - 11hrs
    Quite impressive for a small team.  Oozes atmosphere with lovely audiovisuals and plays well.  Went in not knowing much about it and thought it might be a Metroid-like, but it's not really.  Linear platform action adventure thing.  Found myself cursing quite a bit throughout at fiddly controls/jumping and couple of annoying bosses, and it seems to try too hard with the narrative/narration.  Having said that, the setting is great and it retains a lot of mystery and intrigue.  Not sure there is much left to do (save file on completion says over 97% I think) and I'm not too keen on the jump mechanics/controls, otherwise I would return.

    16. Persona 5 Royal (PS4) - 26/12 - 142hrs
    Well, it’s Persona, and it’s bloody great. Deep themes and highly thought provoking. Not as good as 4, which I thought had better characters, and the dungeons, while expanded and with set maps and light puzzles, were too long and at times tedious. But the social sim side is as good as ever, the battles are great, the soundtrack is brilliant, and the UI design is gorgeous. I’m gonna miss the Phantom Thieves, having grown so attached to them/the game over the course of 140 hours. Now to sell a kidney and hunt down P3P.

    17. Celeste (PS4) - 29/12 - 17hrs
    A discussion on dealing with mental health problems wrapped in a perfect pure platformer with charming visuals, a beautiful soundtrack, and great with writing. The difficulty of the main game is pitched perfectly to make it challenging without being frustrating and there is plenty of additional and more challenging content to get back to, which I definitely intend to return to. Almost a [10].

    18. Portal 2 (X360) - 31/12 - c15hrs
    Like Portal. Almost as good but not quite. Good puzzles and great writing once again.

    19. Slay the Spire (Switch mainly) - 50-60hrs
    Including iPhone, iPad, and Bone now. Ascending slowly slowly, but slowed down recently as have been playing other stuff. This will feature events year for a few years yet I reckon. Revising my [9] from last year to a...


    Baba Is You
    (Switch) - 7/1 - c8hrs
    Gave this a fair whack. 8 hours or so and I managed to unlock 7 areas, but not without looking up 3 or 4 solutions. It’s driving me crazy. It’s really clever, but way beyond my capabilities.
    My give up.
    [No score]

    And that’s my 2020 list done

    Not counting:
    Smash Bros Ultimate: lots of hours with the kids
    Ring Fit Adventure: again, a fair amount of time with the kids

    Still playing:
    Hades: not even one clear yet. 
    Paradise Killer: a few hours played, no idea if I’m nearing the end.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Hooray! List goes here.
    1. Katana Zero (Switch)
    2. Ape Out (Switch)
    3. Skyblazer (Snes)
    4. Starfox (Snes)
    5. Starfox 2 (Snes)
    6. Trip World (Gameboy)
    7. Tiny Toons - Buster Busts Loose (Snes)
    8. Rive (Switch)
    9. Aladdin (Snes)
    10. The Floor is Jelly (PC)
    11. What the Golf (iOS)
    12. Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (Snes)
    13. Counterspy (Vita)
    14. Avenging Spirit (Gameboy)
    15. Sparkster (Snes)
    16. Heave Ho (Switch)
    17. Splasher (Switch)
    18. Super Buster Bros aka Super Pang (Snes)
    19. Wonder Boy : The Dragons Trap (Switch)
    20,21,22. Streets of Rage 1 & 2, Bare Knuckle 3 (Megadrive)
    23. Streets of Rage 4 (PC)
    24. Super Mario Bros 3 (from All Stars on SNES Virtual Console)
    25. Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch)

    Hall of Permanent Abandonment
    1. Fez (PC)
    2. Velocity 2x (Vita)

    Format placeholder

  • Placeholder just in case.
  • 1. Heave Ho - Switch (6hrs)

    Madcap same room cooperative multiplayer game that exploits its core mechanic flawlessly.  Each player controls the arms and hands of a...face with arms and hands.  The analogue stick stretches/flails both arms around in any given direction, the left trigger clutches onto surfaces with the left hand, the right trigger grabs hold with the right.  From there it's all about manipulating the character by any means necessary to reach the goal.  If you're holding the correct button as your hand brushes a surface, it sticks regardless of momentum.  Swing, fling and climb your way to victory, either while assisting or hindering other players, shouting encouragement at each other and/or screaming at the ceiling in frustration.  Once one player reaches the goal they can call a balloon for the other players.  Take ten minutes to finish a stage and you'll be assisted in some way by additional poles.   Because of the amount of consistent fun we all had with it each and every session every session, plus the fact that it retails for less than a tenner full price, I'm going all the way to [10] with this if played with three or more players.  Most definitely GotY 2019 for me.  I can't believe how good it is, and how good my 5yr old daughter is at it, was an absolute joy to play through with her and Mrs. Geeza even got involved here and there.  An absolute hoot, I don't think I've had this much fun with same room mp since Monkey Target (and I LOVE Nidhogg & Towerfall Ascension). 

    2. Crazy Zen Minigolf - Switch (1hr)

    60% off if you pre-ordered should've been enough to set alarm bells ringing, but I'm powerless to resist handheld golf.  Turns out it's truly and astonishingly abysmal.  Surfaces that don't seem to make any sense, random physics, nonsensical hazards, a terrible camera system and holes so badly designed (presumably as a concession to the randomness off the controls) that one of them is a PAR 14.  They added a limited amount of aftertouch to the ball, and a jump button, which is just enough to double its score. [2]   Oh well, at least House of Golf was good.

    It actually stands for

    3. Cursed Castilla EX - Switch (2hrs 23mins 35secs) 

    Pretty good love letter to Ghouls n Ghosts.  It literally does nothing wrong in terms of flattery through imitation.  If you enjoyed Capcom's classics and fancy playing a new one that feels like an old one, this is exactly what you need.  Nothing spectacular, but brutally difficult (albeit without a soul crushing lack of continues).  Ronseal gaming, recommended at half price. [7].

    4. Shakedown Hawaii - Switch (5hrs) 

    Fun fact: this was one of the main reasons I bought a Switch a couple of months after launch.  Was listed as a launch window release for a while, then it unceremoniously disappeared, for ages, and eventually reappeared with the empire building aspect bolted on.  It's kind of my Last Guardian.  Fun fact over.   First things first then.  I could've done without the mogul management stuff.  It's fine and it doesn't really get in the way if you're after a straight arcadey experience, but I wasn't tempted to do anything optional.  Having said that, the cutscenes are fun so it's just a not my cup of tea thing.  I suppose they decided not to simply make another Retro City Rampage a few years on, so fair play.  I expect it more than doubles the length if you're a hundo hunter. The main playable sections are split between chunky og GTA bits and on foot twin stick shooting.  Both are decent, so if that's what you're after there's plenty to be satisfied with. Plus the absolutely relentless mission hopping is more varied than expected. [7] 

    5. Toki - Switch (roughly 70 minutes) 

    2018 redo of the 1989 arcade game, infamous for being one of the 'how much??!' EShop titles at £26.99.  It's finally dropped to a price I was prepared to part with (£5.99), but it's still one to avoid.  Whereas the Wonderboy III remake felt like a lavish lick of paint deftly daubed onto a classic game, the years have been far less kind to the way this one plays.  Couple that with the fact that the lick of paint itself has been applied in a slightly more slapdash way and you've got an oddity that might not even appeal to fans of the original.  Because of this, I'm not really sure who this is supposed to appeal to.  It's initially tricky, of course, but once you've learned the simplistic layouts/patterns it becomes strangely easy for repeated attempts.  It's a piece of piss compared to some modern 2D checkpoint platformers/run 'n gun types for sure.  Having needed a full restart to finish it - despite the 9 credits and 9 lives on default mode - I breezed through the first few levels the second time without losing more than a handful of lives.  All in all, it's a reasonably attractive lukewarm mess, with an overlarge character and controls that haven't stood the test of time past basic functionality.  [4], but only because I have a certain amount of respect for what it once was.

    6. 140 - Switch (75 mins) 

    Half of a BOGOF deal with twin stick shooter THOTH.  More on that later.  £4.49 for both.  Spoiler: bite their hand off. This one's a rhythm based platformer, very simplistic in terms of avatar movement (left/right/jump being the sum total of your options), but impressively inventive in terms of level design.  Guide your shape through checkpoints to the level goal, which acts as a warp if you touch it after collecting a nearby orb.  Surprisingly, the level guardians were the highlight for me, and the reason this settles on an [8] rather than a strong [7].  They're all good, even the one that messed-with-my-head-maaan, but the rhythm Pang types were sublime.  £2.25 for maybe an hour and a quarter of expertly crafted, stylish indie platforming.  Even the MMG naysayers would struggle to sniff at that, Shirley? 

    7. THOTH - Switch (90 mins) 

    Outstanding twin stick puzzle shooter.  You'll pick up the basics within a minute or so of playing, but in a nutshell: shoot enemies until their colour is suppressed and they turn black; once this happens they'll hone in on you more quickly.  Your avatar is nippier when not firing.  You can aim with the right stick or soft lock-on with the face buttons.  One hit kills, you have two lives to get through four stages but after losing your first life the walls become deadly too (cheers for that).  Every fourth stage locks as a restart point.  Each stage presents a puzzle of sorts but it rarely feels like there's necessarily an optimal way to solve it - at heart it's a twitch shooter, but it's the puzzle element elevates it to greatness.  Honestly, absolutely everything about this is nigh on perfect, it's an incredibly well designed game.  It even has a co-op mode. [9]

    8. 198X - Switch (70 mins) 

    Had a beady eye on this for over a year now. It's a grab bag of original retro styled arcade experiences - the sort too pretty to port to most consoles in the early 90s - held together by an appealingly presented yet wafer thin story told mostly via stunning pixel art cutscenes, but occasionally through v/o while you play (which works magnificently). The genres you're treated to on your whistlestop journey to the credits are scrolling beat 'em up, scrolling shmup, super scaler style racer, ninja themed auto runner and maze RPG. They all look great and sound good thanks to a legit Yuzo Koshiro score, but they're all merely adequate at heart.  In order of good to bad, despite the fact that they've each got one foot in both camps, it's: shooter, racer, RPG, ninja runner, beat 'em up.   This is part one of a planned series, but it's over so quickly the feeling of being short changed weighs the whole thing down.  Fleshing out each playable section might have helped, but biting the bullet, holding fire and releasing the whole thing as a full package would've been preferable.  Genre hopping between snazzy looking, enjoyable-yet-average experiences throughout a 3hr game would have all the whizzbang with none of the gee wizz what a swizz, so perhaps this one should only be fully judged when complete.  As I'm reviewing what's in front of me - basically a 1hr game - it's disappointing.  I liked it a hell of a lot while it lasted, probably more than it deserved in fairness, but even so I can't really go higher than [6]. 

    9. Squidlit - Switch (45 mins, including starting again twice) 

    A Blue Swirl rec.  I...kinda enjoyed it.  But I never had a Gameboy, so the handheld monochrome display effect didn't stir my loins.  Fun fact: I had to reboot twice as I thought the screen had filled with ink (or something) and crashed.  I could move around but couldn't see what my character was doing, so I thought it had glitched.  Turns out the right analogue stick controls the contrast, for some unknown reason, and because both combinations of my JoyCons are borked and like to drift whenever they fancy it, the screen kept fading to black (or dark green).  Fun fact over!  It's a functional platformer but I doubt anyone would've been happy with the length in 1991.  You could probably get through it twice on one set of batteries.  [4].  Sorry Swirl, £1.79 seems a touch steep.  I didn't hate it and the book boss was neat, but 'tis a bit shit really.  

    10. Sky Blazer, SNES (90mins) Finally finished this.  I don't think doing it in four sessions helped in the end, I probably should've put more of an effort in.  I'd like to try it on original hardware to see if it's the emulation that gives the controls that 'a little bit off' factor, which can be a problem on the Pi from time to time (the timing of the double jump in Revenge of Shinobi has never felt quite right to me via emulation, for example).  The franky pathetic short range of the attack is my main bugbear, as it exacerbates the already floaty controls thanks to the way certain enemies have to be approached precisely.  Playing this without any nostalgia gives it an unfair disadvantage though; my retro head is savvy enough to know that this would've been legit in 1994.  I know for a fact some of the bosses would've got my juices flowing (some - a couple are bobbins).   It's varied, often a massive tick in the plus column for late period 16-bit titles, but in worthwhile ways.  I enjoyed the forced scrolling levels and Mode 7 always looks sexy af to my Megadrive eyes.  As usual I'll go for a percentage rating.  FWIW my retro scores can be roughly deciphered using the formula 'what I would've given it at the time minus 5-10% (depending on genre)'.  So a healthy 83%, from me - doesn't quite sneak into the low top tier but definitely a good platformer overall.

    11. West of Loathing - Switch (7-8hrs) 

    Humorous cowboy RPG with particular attention paid to the humorous cowboy aspect - it's is a very funny game, and not just smile or titter territory; the script made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  This is a consistently well written game and the tone never grated on me.  The RPG side of the proceedings seems pretty standard, but the successfully amusing exchanges/text elevate the occasionally trite bob-a-jobbing considerably.  The battle system is perfunctory, but it works.  I'm off to bed soon, so this will be a short review, but I don't want it to sound negative.  I really enjoyed it, and I really don't tend to enjoy the genre at all these days, which means I'm absolutely recommending it to anyone who might be interested.  There's tons to do, and I did most of it.  That's right - I mopped up side quests!  Form an orderly queue to touch me, I'm a changed man thanks to the trials and tribulations of Waylon Hoss 'Danger' Roosevelt. [8]

    For later:

    Blood & Truth - PSVR (4hrs)

    I'm having this because I would've finished it today if my Playstation hadn't required emergency full memory wiping resuscitation.  A quick look online suggests I was around 40 mins from the end - will pop round and finish finish it off when @retroking1981 unlocks the last chapter, but I'm not starting it again.  Not because it's not great, but because I tend to be a bit weird about replaying stuff, especially immediately after I've done it.  I'm ready to review it anyway, and I'm well pissed off about the loss of all my save states for everything so 'low it please peeps.   I've always been partial to light gun games, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was so satisfying - even played with a pad - that it went a considerable way towards justifying the outlay for the VR kit for me. I started to play this with the dual shock, but it quickly became apparent that it deserved more.  Armed with the move controllers retro kindly lent me I blitzed through the story in a couple of days.  As soon as I got used to the reload motion (you have to manually load a clip from your chest into a weapon) it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a success.  There's no denying it's an insanely expensive way to relive (and hugely expand upon) the glory days of a dead genre, but if you do happen to be kitted out with a PS4, a headset, two move controllers, some decent in-ear headphones and a copy of the game, then you have treated yourself wisely.  The full immersion works staggeringly well, from the hotspot movement system to the gunplay itself.  With, say, a handgun on each hip and a shotty on each shoulder, holstering the former to reach back and grab hold of the latter is immensely satisfying.  Even the climbing sections are good - I might've looked like a twat acting out the motions of monkey bars while sitting on the sofa in my front room, then drawing a pistol from my hip and shooting someone in the face one handed while hanging from the other, but when you're doing what's described in that sentence and it works, who fucking cares, right?  The future is now. It's not perfect, as pick ups are often infuriatingly out of reach, requiring recalibration mid gunfight, but that can be excused and goes with the territory in my experience.  It's also quite short, and leans on cinematic storytelling fairly regularly, leaving you with maybe 3hrs of actual running riot shooty bits.  Importantly, when everything works seamlessly there's not much that can touch it.  It's full Laahdahn bruv, with some decent and not so decent voice acting, but the mockney family mobsters shtick is pretty well done for the most part.  If you've got the kit and reckon you could stomach Martina Cole's Snatch in VR you'd be a fool to miss it. [8] *Will remove asterisk when I finish it properly.

    12. Flipping Death - Switch 

    (6-7hrs) Took a while to warm to it, started to enjoy it immensely after an hour or so, then spent the back half of the game - at least - wishing it would end. In essence it's a humorous point and click that ditches the pointing and clicking in favour of wonky platforming, and massively over-eggs the humour. It is amusing in a fair few places, but it's all a bit relentless. Puzzles mostly consist of either obvious or contrived 'go here, possess this, do that' checklists, which wears thin pretty quickly. It's ridiculous how often I reference Haunting Starring Polterguy these days, but here goes again: it's a bit like that crossed with Grim Fandango with a bit too much bad tween TV chucked in for good/bad measure. Tried to like it Unc, failed. The platforming is horrendously clunky and there just wasn't enough satisfaction tied to any success. [5]

    13. Journey to the Savage Planet - Xbox One (11hrs 9mins)

    A pleasant surprise for sure.  It's an explore 'em up with unlockable abilities used to access previously inaccessible areas.  Someone should probably come up with a more suitable descriptor for the genre.  It's also another humour heavy type, falling somewhere between Portal 2, Twisted Pixel games and Starship Troopers.  The voice over never got annoying for me (there's an option to reduce the waffle or turn it off, so it seems pointless to complain even if it does grate).  It also has plenty of PAKISTAN IS THREATENING MY BORDER type TV ads, but they're mostly okay as a one watch, and you can turn them off too.  

    It's not an absolutely whopper, but it is a bigger game than I assumed it would be going in.  Still, it's a tiddler in comparison to something like Breath of the Wild.  I much prefer these smaller, intricately designed game worlds over square foot dick measuring maps, and this really does give off a lovingly crafted glow at every turn.  Visuals are surprisingly excellent too; it's a damn fine looking game.  I quite liked the platforming in the end, especially once your character becomes a bit more manoeuvrable.  The ledge grab traversal assist is fairly well implemented, especially when you're scrambling over clusters of rocks that are often surprisingly scalable.  The exact rules for the grapple hook LB trigger still remain elusive to me - and I like exact rules in games - which means I fell in frustration half a dozen times, but it rarely takes long to pick yourself up and try again.  The shooting never felt quite right either, and I can't put my finger on why.  There's a chance I've lost any meagre FPS skills I had during the wilderness years, so it could well be a case of me not you with the gunplay, but half the time it felt like the aim assist was set to '1mm off target trollolol'.  Either that or it had no aim assist, but according to the settings it does.  Shrug.  As Tin mentioned in the thread there's huge scope for cheesing a lot of of the time, which compensates somewhat.  It's serviceable anyway, not strong enough maintain a shooting game for sure, but not weak enough to detract more than a smidge from the overall package here.

    The exploration was quite addictive, which isn't something I say very often.  It was nice to have a good old fashioned bastard as an end boss too.  You know the drill, montage incoming: that's not fair/that's shit/bollocks did that hit me/what the fuck is hitting me/nooo not again/where am I supposed to stand then/aargh [slowly and lightly pounds joypad in frustration]/FUUUUUU...oh, I've done it, great stuff.  

    It's an odd game, and I've spent most of the review wondering whether to plump for a 7, 8 or 9.  No prizes for guessing that we'll take an [8] for the bottom line, but it's better and worse than that.  It's a wonder I don't review games professionally really.

    And I forgot to mention co-op, which is what I bought it for in the first place.  The way the game saves for two players is a bit odd though, as player one hosts, and player two joins their save.  So the guest is just a visitor really, which to me feels like it either has to be played entirely in co-op, or completed solo by each player first.  I'll do a bit of mopping up in co-op, but in the end the single player was too good to resist so we both ploughed on.

    14. Toby: The Secret Mine - Switch (2hrs) 

    Truly horrendous budget Limbo clone.  Nothing works anywhere near as well as it should, which is unforgivable in such a simplistic copycat side scroller.  Some of the puzzles are okay, but the controls are terrible, so obviously in practice they're not. I thought I had a fair bit to say about it, but now that I'm sat at a keyboard I can't be bothered.  All anyone needs to know is that even if you only spend eighty nine pence* on it, the real Toby is you.  Strip away the not-too-shabby-I-guess visuals and it's an irredeemable mess.  I didn't even try to rescue any of the prisoners off the beaten track, yet I ended up with 20 out of 27.  Shite.  [2]  It made me yearn for another playthrough of Inside though, so something good came out of it I guess. *At least I think it's 89p at the mo, I bought it last time it was dirt cheap. Nope, I didn't even like the minecart section.

    15. Ruiner - Xbox One (4.5hrs)

    Unashamedly brutal and bellowingly unsubtle wave based twin stick close quarters combat game.  Take a pinch of Hotline Miami, a spot of Running Man, a dash of Nightcrawler (see what I did there??  YOU'LL SEE) and repeatedly club what emerges from the melting pot around the head with Judge Dredd.  Now imagine imagine it on horseback - Sarah Jane from Bravestar, obviously - sat just in front of Brian Blessed, charging forward while shouting "God, and King Richard!" in unison.  The cast of Cyberpunk-by-committee villains is astonishing.  A sum total of fuck all of them are any better than an imaginative 13yr old could design, but they're Cyberpunk characters!  They're supposed to be awesome and a bit amusing, right?  Job done as far as I'm concerned, plus they've got names like Mechanix, Techno Dogs, Nameless Protagonist, TrafficKing, Shadow the Triad Trooper, Titanium Cranium and NERVE.  But aha, I made at least one of those up (and it wasn't Shadow the Triad Trooper). 

    Perhaps it's trying too much, there's a lot to take in with its dash/strike/shoot arena stuff, but for my money every aspect of the combat was legit.  If you try to focus on everything at once it's a bit like spinning plates, so don't; play it how you like it.  It gives you a vast number of perks and skill trees to manually upgrade but that's nowhere near as daunting a task as it first appears.  You're building the way you want to play the game, and there's not enough runway over the 5hr runtime for an average player to max out more than a couple of categories anyway.  Are you a dash player, do you focus on close melee combat, are firearms, shields or bullet time your thing, etc.  You can add and remove upgrades as you please, so if you get stuck you can readjust your tools and adopt a different approach.  

    The key word is carnage.  It's probably aiming for 'balletic carnage', and to some extent it's successful, but you've got to picture Alexander Godunov from Die Hard for a fitting approximation.  If you require you games to constantly evolve and keep you on your toes with variety as well as playability then perhaps you should look elsewhere.  Not only does this play similarly throughout, but most of the locations could be mistaken for any previous ones.  For me, this is fine - it's a 5-6hr game, and what could accurately be described as repetitive combat is also fundamental to the appeal.  It's rinse/repeat, sure, but it's short enough for the entire thing to be incredible, imo.  

    @Facewon, I absolutely properly loved it.  Better than Mr. Shifty for sure.  the visuals are superb, and while perhaps not as memorable as it could have been, the music does its job very well.  You know what it sounds like from one glance at a gif.

    I think at this stage I'd be willing to play absolutely anything Published by Devolver, it's starting to feel like they only make games I like.  [9]

    16. Guardian Heroes - XBLA (50 mins) 

    Quick run-through of the snazzed up Saturn classic.  Played as Han, who was my third choice character back in the day (4th if you count Selena).  It's a bit more fiddly than I remembered, especially when you're being juggled all over the shop, but there's a huge amount of depth in there for a scrolling beat 'em up.  The multi-plane gameplay works well and multiple routes add replayability.  Visuals are still superb, I know some purists hate pixel smoothing but it works for me.  There aren't many Saturn remakes around, and although the 2D titles are undoubtedly easier to port than the 3D ones, I still think the amount of work put in for a minor XBLA release was a little under appreciated at the time.  Music is still God tier too, some of those themes will never be topped for this sort of thing.  In fairness today's run was a [6], but the whole shebang is a solid [8] by modern standards and was a strong [9] in 1996. 

    17. Gigantic Army - Switch (40 minutes) 

    Well it scratched an itch anyway.  Budget Cybernator clone that genuinely succeeds in looking and feeling like a 16-bit Cybernator clone from early '93, for good or for ill.  Most of these types update things a smidge with save states, niftier controls, checkpoints and the like, but there are no such concessions here.  One life, three credits.  If you run out of continues it's the title screen for you sonny Jim.  It's pretty easy once you learn the stage layouts though, I managed to clock it by the skin of my teeth on my second full go.  Tip: the default weapon/sub weapon combo is shite, go for the missile and boss crippling big beam instead.  I enjoyed it, but with only six stages it would've been one to rent in 1993. [6] today, 79% way back when.  DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE. 

    18. Panzer Dragoon Orta - Xbox One (2hrs 25mins) 

    Um...so does the Bone make OG XBox games look better?  I played it at the time and it looked fantastic, easily one of the finest looking Xbox exclusives, but I assumed the double gen jump BC games would look a bit ropey thanks to HD displays/nostalgia trying to pull the wool over my eyes.  Visually, it's pretty astonishing for a near twenty year old game.  I'll move past the way it looks shortly, but wow, you could easily convince me that this is a 5yr old reboot.  Stunning.  I thought the Xbox One just emulated old games, surely there's some extra jiggery-pokery going on here?  Stunning.  It's a shame the same can't be said of the audio, specifically the music.  It aims for the Panzer Zwei Yamaha chiptunes style over the original's sweeping orchestral beat for beat Red Book score.  Unfortunately almost nothing here is memorable, which puts this firmly in Streets of Rage 3 territory as a pale imitation of former glories.  Yes, you could still place them as Panzer Dragoon tunes with a blindfold on, but they mostly sound like they've been rescued from the cutting room floor.   Back to the positives then.  It's far better than I gave it credit for at launch.  IIRC I played through it once at the time, thought it was decent but missing the magic of Zwei.  On reappraisal it's actually right up there with the very best rails shooters (Sin & Punishment 1&2, Starfox 64, Panzer Zwei).  The triple dragon system works well, as do the elements of PD Saga that were added to the boss battles (positioning via boosts to line up with damage zones/avoid certain attacks).  I'd have to play Zwei again to be sure, but although this is missing some of the grander set pieces from that (the audiovisual wallop of the best bosses is never quite replicated), this may even be a slightly better game.  I'm gonna give it a [9], I only intended to play the first couple of stages but I did the whole thing in one sitting.  

    19. Joe Danger 2: The Movie - Xbox One (2hrs) 

    I intended to play this on 360 after grabbing in it in some sale or other.  Better late than never anyway, and the backwards comp library is still very much appreciated, you big Microsofties. I like stuff like this.  Skill/reactions based memory test obstacle courses basically, part autorunner, part full fat minecart section and in this case, part Trials lite (or MotoHeroz, which was pretty much Red Lynx's own Trials lite).  This one's fine, but lacks the finesse of the best in the genre.  As always, there are only a limited amount of inputs, but the ducking and jumping never felt right to me, nor did the lane changing.  It all gets a bit busy on screen at times, which nerfs the purity somewhat.  I'd play this sort of thing with an LCD display tbh, so maybe I'm just shouting at clouds. It's all slightly too lightweight and imprecise anyway, so the 2hr runtime felt about right.  This one has a few play styles, which I don't remember from JD1 when I played on Vita (skis, jetpacks, cars and suchlike), which keeps it varied but of course brings in the dreaded feeling of some being better than others.  Good fun for the most part, but not great. [6]. Apparently so niche there aren't any gifs around, I thought this series was pretty well known.

    20. The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition - Xbox 360 (3hrs-ish)

    Inspired by the Games of the decade threads (which also inspired a re-run of Portal 2 I started yesterday), I realised I hadn't played through this since the SE was released.  Not much needs to be said about the game, it's unquestionably one of the best point and click adventures ever made and easily my favourite.  I'm not keen on the look of the remake, but at least the voice acting is decent.  I love the instant retro/redo button added to games like Wonderboy III and Halo: CE (MCCSE), it's just a shame that the style of the modern game is an affront to my eyes here.  I don't remember disliking the new look quite this much in 2009, but ten years on I hate it.  Not a problem though, was happy to lose the voice over in exchange for those sweet OG looks.  Insult sword fighting is still one of the greatest things ever to appear in a videogame, and the whole thing felt as close to revisiting a favourite novel as the medium can offer. [9] 

    21. Mario Maker 2 - Switch (4-5hrs) 

    I'd just played NSMBU when I bought this, so put on hold after a handful of stages.  It's obviously the wrong way to play MM, as I haven't even activated the online code yet, but the selection of courses that make up the story mode are mostly decent.  A handful are a chore, but the scattershot approach to level types keeps things fresh.  I enjoyed the car and shmup stages, but wasn't as keen on the slow-paced manual switch block puzzles.  Also, am I the only one sees ghost houses as the Mario equivalent of Sonic's underwater stages?  I always find them kinda laborious.  Anyway, it's ideal for handheld play - most courses will only take between two and five minutes for an average player to finish.  Decent, and I'll check out the Zelda stuff at a later date as the update trailer intrigued me.  As a challenge mode 2D Mario game it did what I wanted it to do. [7].  I'd imagine the full experience could threaten a full [10] if the ratings system for individual stages works well enough, and it wouldn't surprise me if many of the DIY stages available a year after launch are far better than the offerings pre-loaded on the cart.

    22. Ori & the Will of the Wisps - Xbox One (15hrs)

    Moon Studios have described this as Mario 3 to Blind Forest's Super Mario Bros, and they nearly pulled it off.  At one point in development they were probably well on course for a masterpiece.  Then they got lazy and all started working from home like a bunch of layabouts with one eye on daytime TV, presumably.  Joking aside, it's a shame they didn't quite succeed.  A few minor problems in amongst the grandeur - and a couple of whopping ones - clip its wings considerably.  What we're left with is probably more Mario Sunshine to Blind Forest's Mario 64, or any franchise you'd care to reach for where the sequel sticks to the same format, tries more but achieves less.  Super Monkey Ball 2, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Perfect Dark Zero, Sonic Adventure 2 - you do yours!  

    Ori was a precision platformer masquerading as a Metroidvania, whereas this is more confident with its exploration and provides you with an abundance of tasks and side missions.  There's far more to reward the off-piste player, evidenced by my half-empty kit bag as the credits rolled.  It nods so heavily at Hollow Knight in a couple of places it's probably risking whiplash, but the systems it pinches are well implemented on the whole.  Back to the platforming though, it's mostly somewhere between good and very good, which is me purposefully damning it with faint praise - the assault course style design was tighter and more inventive in the original.  Yes, there are some excellent abilities to find in this that are very well used, but on the whole it lacks the masterclass of the The Blind Forest when scrutinised as a checkpoint platform game.  The chase sequences are back, despite what I read elsewhere, but of the three I can remember two were exhilarating as ever but far too easy and the third was an unwelcome difficulty spike.  Alongside the chase sequence we now have bosses, and as a boss man it broke my heart to discover that they're all poor.  Chalice described the combat as scrappy and I think that's a good description, but I also think it's a good fit for the game's standard stages.  Ignoring the bosses, the overhauled combat system works well once you're got a few weapons under/in your belt.  It all starts to fall apart when a screen-filler appears though.  It's an unashamedly difficult game, and the bosses will relentlessly destroy you while you try to juggle too many systems and muddle through the absolute carnage.  It's too much, they're too fiddly, and they're all too frustrating.  Case in point: I spent 10 minutes trying to chip away at one, before trying a different tact with an optional weapon I'd bought half a game ago.  I then proceeded to decimate the fucking thing in 25 seconds, which just felt wrong.  What if I hadn't bought that weapon?  Why is my standard kit so ineffective?  I'm sure there are many different ways to take them down, and I bet plenty of players smash them all over Youtube without breaking a sweat, but as someone with an affinity for level guardians based on over 30 years of 'being well into them', I'm here to tell you they goofed. 

    As expected, it's a stunningly beautiful game, sitting somewhere close to Cuphead as the best looking game ever for me.  I just love the whole aesthetic, truly glorious stuff.  The music is a win for me also, it probably just about edges out the original here too.  The story is punctuated by 'feel this now' moments, so it's manipulative to an extent, but as with the first game it feels like a good fit for what's on offer.  It's Dark Moomins via Princess Mononoke; it wants to give your heartstrings some gyp and it makes no attempt to disguise when it's trying its hardest.  I'm down with that, the whole thing is so beautiful it makes the ladlefuls of straight-ahead storytelling quite palatable.

    In terms of performance, Xbox One S owners can self-medicate with the game in its current form.  I found that when it starts to freeze, rebooting the game kept that particular problem at bay for an hour or so.  Annoying, but a workable fix.  The framerate still stutters too much for this sort of game though, it's no constant by any means, but there will be the odd occasion where a frame dip seems to gloss over the fact that you just pressed a button.  It's not game breaking, just heart breaking.  If you're an Ori fan don't follow my lead, wait for the inevitable full fix.

    Overall then, it's a very good game with fairly sizeable technical issues in its current state, some bold design decisions that paid off and a few that most certainly did not.  I've been down on it for chunks of the review, but it's still in with a chance to make the GotY list. [8]

    23. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch

    First timer here.  It's easy to see why this is so revered as a 1993 Gameboy title, but played first as a reboot it's a touch trickier to asses.  Getting the old stuff out the way first - it's close to mind boggling to me that this is based on an OG Gameboy game.  As mentioned elsewhere I had no idea that machine hosted games this complex.  I've watched a few videos and I'm very impressed by it.  So, big shout to the original, but from here on in we'll be focusing on the reboot.

    Don't panic!  It's still, mostly, an excellent Zelda entry.  It lacks the intricacies of ALttP but the combat is fun and the dungeons are mostly high quality.  The last 2D Zelda I played was Minish Cap (in 2017 iirc), and I'd put the majority of these dungeons above what was on offer there.  The update is chunky and lush - non game-breaking framerate stutters aside - but it's a shame more wasn't added to alleviate the feeling of being totally stumped.  The phone shacks help, but they're not a complete cure.  Which clearly makes this a game best enjoyed by those who have sampled its delights before.  With Google as my new Navi I successfully muddled through, but I'd probably still be stuck if I hadn't reached for pointers here and there. 

    I was reasonably confident I knew the ending going in, and yup.  Again, that was probably quite something in a 30yr old game but I doubt it would be put on such a pedestal in 2020.  Good though (and probably the best thing I can remember from a Zelda game in terms of storytelling), just not amazing!!!1

    Toyed with a [7] but with its roots taken into account it scrapes an [8].

    24. Way of the Passive Fist - Switch

    Attention naysayers, the under-the-radar indie scene is teeming with originality if you look hard enough.  At a glance this is a tough sell - single player scrolling beat 'em up with 1990s arcade rubber stamp visuals based on a parry/counter-attack rhythm/pattern system.  Firstly the graphics; they're fantastic.  Honestly, it looks exactly the right kind of bold & chunky for an imitation Final Fight clone circa 1993.  Sound design is just as faithful too, the tunes are quite toe-tappy.  Plenty of games aim for a snapshot in time feeling and miss the mark considerably, but this absolutely nails it.  Even the enemy design strikes me as accurate - you wouldn't need to squint to believe this was from the era when scrolling beat 'em ups were ten a penny.

    Anyway, the game.  You defeat enemies by parrying their attacks (set patterns depending on enemy types) until they're knackered, and then press the poke button, which sort of Jujitsu pressure point prods them to death.  Some attacks must be dodged, and you also have a dash move to get you out of trouble.  Successful parries and dodges build up your super gauge.  Some enemies can only be dispatched by a super.  Bad guys do the one-at-a-time attack thing the genre loves, but it's more pronounced here as deviation from that system would be game breaking.  It also has an XP system with a few unlocks as you progress.  It's hard to explain really, but you'll pick it all up fairly quickly in practice, partly because it's tough as nails.  Levels award medals for scores, and it's entirely possible to keep combos going for the duration of the stage.  I'm shocked how well executed the core idea is.  Coupled with fun bosses, replete with sampled speech snippets before they get their arses kicked, and this is a genuinely good game.  The customisable aspect to the difficulty settings are quite well done too - you can tailor it to suit your skills, and I ended up playing somewhere close to easy.  It does its job well though, I played level one on max difficulty after the credits rolled and nailed it.  

    It's not quite great, some of the levels are overlong and can become monotonous (especially those without bosses), but it's eyebrow raisingly competent at the admittedly slightly weird thing it does.  [7], but that feels harsh at its current price (£2ish iirc).  I'd actually recommend it at a tenner if you like the genre and fancy something that freshens it up.    

    25. ARMS - Switch (60mins-ish)

    Just a quick one.  Had a random games morning with my daughter on Saturday and she picked a few things we haven't played for a while.  Did this always have a split screen co-op arcade mode where you're tethered together?  It does now anyway, so we whizzed through that a few times.  My Joycons are so fucked we can't play two player with the motion controls any more, but the pad controls strike me as a better bet anyway (albeit slightly less fun), at least for scrubman tier players like us.  Quality game this, there's a lot more going on than there was at launch too.  I've found the mode that gifts you extra arm attachments now too.  Additional: visuals are about as good as it gets on Switch and it's nice to have a roster of players in an all-new fighting game where everyone looks like they've been designed with care.

    26. Streets of Rage 2 3D - 3DS (1hr)

    Dusted off the 3DS to play Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia bit ended up doing a lesser-spotted Max run on this.  Was surprised how easy the standard difficulty setting was as I remember needing the continues as a kid.  I finished on two lives less than I started with today.  Huh.  Presumably I was a massive moran with the energy depleting specials in the 90s.  Nothing needs to be said about the game really, it's a masterclass in just about everything it does.  [9].  Feed me SOR4, I am ready.

    I love my 3DS, but as ever the 3D effect was totally lost on me so I turned it off to save battery.  These rereleases were lauded for their 3D beautification, so maybe my eyeballs just refuse to play along.  I've never been able to see a magic eye picture even for a split second either.  Damn my eyes!

    27. The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild - Switch (second profile doesn't show playtime as I haven't linked it to the main account.  If I had to guess.....60hrs?)

    Look at me, replaying things like normal people seem to do.  Played from start to finish with my daughter over the past couple of months, I did most of the fighting (and all the bosses) and most of the shrines, she did all the climbing/exploration/cooking/selling things I wanted etc.  Probably one of the best things I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing tbh, the joy of a 5yr old has bumped this up from the miserly [9] I gave it in 2017 to a full [10].  It's knocked Odyssey into a cocked hat as her all-time fave.  When I finished it last time I claimed it lacked some of the magic of other entries.  TOMMYROT!

    It has its faults, but moreso here than in any game I can think of they're easily overlooked.  Much like anyone else I haven't the foggiest what they'll do with the sequel, but I said it when the trailer arrived and I'll say it again - it'll be a crying shame if the potential reuse of assets results in the reappearance of the full BotW game map.  The thrill of exploration is so intrinsic to the experience I just don't see how they'd pull it off.  It'll be good of course, but it's a worry.

    Back to this one though: if I were in the right mood, which I'm not at this particular moment, I'd probably be ready to describe this as the best game ever.  I am ready to admit it's miles better than the traditional Zelda experience I wanted.  Masterpiece.

    28. Streets of Rage (3D Classis) - 3DS (50 mins)

    It's easy to forget how good this was in 1991, especially as the sequel swaggered in shortly afterwards, flexing its megs and acting like it was running on different hardware.  As a home brawler this was immense.  Fun fact: I used to play it round my mate's house after school.  He had this, Sonic (omd) and Wrestle War iirc.  I had a Master System, so you can imagine how much my mind exploded.  The fun-ish part of the fact is that I bumped into him in the pub shortly before lockdown.  Hadn't seen him since the early 90s. 

    Game is great.  It had everything we wanted back then, arcade experience at home etc.  Best music in the series and lots of lol memories of all bets off situations immediately after one of you was accidentally on purpose thrown into a hole in level 4.  It's simplistic compared to the sequels - it plays closer to Golden Axe really - but there's nothing wrong with straightforward gaming.  93%

    29. Doom Eternal - Xbox One (16hrs, maybe)

    The 2016 entry is one my favourite games this gen.  This is more of the same, so fundamentally it's still superb, but it over-eggs things a smidge in comparison.  The in-the-loop mini arena skirmishes with melee focus remain roughly the same, so you'll know what to expect if you played the reboot, but attempts to flesh it out fall a bit flat here and there.  The perk game wasn't insubstantial in the last one, but it enters Numberwang territory here with weapon upgrades, weapon points, power cells, mastery coins, suit upgrades, crystal upgrades and probably more besides that I'm forgetting.  There's even some sort of XP progression going on.  It's all a little bit jarring in a game with this much immediacy (there's a hub now too), and I could have done without quite so much menu fiddling and ability tweaking.  Kudos to the devs for making much of it optional - slayer gates and so on - but it's still a bit much for my tastes.    

    Difficulty wise I struggled on Hurt Me Plenty (default setting) to the point where it's probably time to admit that my 3D gaming skillz haven't retained anywhere near the ultimate form Muzzy l33tness of my 2D abilities.  I got stuck for ages on at least two checkpoints, and ended up claiming my 5lbs of armour on every boss past the midway point.  It's fucking tough, and I've not heard much noise about it being full capslock tough, so it looks like this one's on me.  I'd rip & tear my hair out if I had to play the last two or three levels on Ultra Violence or above, whereas the 2016 struck me as well suited to replays on higher difficulties.  I'm not gonna lie, as the kids like to start sentences with these days; I had a strong desire to give up on the final stage.

    In terms of design I thought a couple of enemies let the side down slightly.  The Marauder just about works as a comparison to the game itself.  Bear with me here.  Once you get used to them, they're excellent badass level baddies.  Adding an element of counter attacking to the mix works surprisingly well, so it still feels right in the scheme of things even though they're doing something new.  Pats on the back all round, good work.  But wait, someone had the bright idea that a ghost cat should appear alongside them and clamp its jaws to your arse intermittently, which just seems too irritating to be considered a success.  It's the extra layer of dev spitballing that turned something potentially great into something merely good.  /End analogy.   

    There's plenty to like, but I've decided not to focus on that for some reason.  I had no real problem with the jumping, which a few reviews mention as a negative.  Some of those sections aren't great, but pulling off the moves was far more enjoyable than working out what to do imo.  As a rule of thumb, green bits of scenery highlight your path for progression, but I found some of the wayfinding a bit irritating.  Much as I did in the original games to be fair.  I get that it's there to mix things up a tad, but I would've preferred a relentless 8hr arena battler to a bloated 16hr FPS with jumping bits.  Actually, a 10hr mix of both might've been about right.  Anyway, /end Goldilocks musings.  It's too long, but I'm probably in the minority with that opinion as most gamers want more for their money these days. 

    It's a very good FPS overall, but only maintains an [8] average this time.

    Edit: I should've mentioned the visuals really.  It's a beauty.  Double double doors ftw; I loved the way some of the 'what have they got in there, King Kong?' doors had more doors behind them just because.

    30. Freedom Finger - Switch (2.5hrs)

    Depressingly below average space shmup with unfunny puerile permalols and lurid visuals.  The soundtrack is admittedly banging, but my advice would be to play a better shooter with Spotify on - there's just nothing engaging about the gameplay here.  The Aesop Rock tracks aren't bad, but they're far from his best.  I'm getting into scrolling shmups a bit of late, partly thanks to the excellent Super Hydorah, but this was a waste of my time.  Yes you can grab stuff, and some of the enemies you grab then turn into weapons, but it's all much of a muchness. [4]
  • 31. Sparkster - Megadrive (75 mins)

    Finished this today.  I thought it was awful at first but it soon won me over.  It's no RKA (very few 16-bit games are) and while it's clearly a downgrade overall it's still a pretty good game.  Visually there's nowhere near as much spit and polish as Megadrive owners had the right to expect based on the likes of Tiny Toons, Castlevania Bloodlines etc.  It's all a wee bit budget for 1994 really (bear in mind Dynamite Headdy/Pulseman were doing the rounds on MD in the same year), but some sections look nice enough. Things moved far quicker at the time though, so I'd say if this had been released in early '93 it would've been given a bit more leeway as a looker.

    Level design was fine, nothing particularly worthy of praise perhaps, but there are a few neat ideas as expected from Konami.  The jetpack means bosses are mostly pretty good though, staying airborne for the the first boss was the point where I realised it was actually a decent game.  The sword takes too long to swing for my liking though - a quicker attack would've been preferable.  Music is okay, functional for the most part but with one or two noteworthy ditties.  

    81% with my 1994 head on for Sparkster, but like most merely 'good' platformers from the era that equates to something far more miserly in modern money tbh.

    32. Q-YO Blaster - Switch (30 mins)

    Credits have rolled, so in it goes.  Horizontal forced scrolling shmup that's currently 89p, which is a ridiculous price for a genuinely competent shooter.  Has multiple characters and weapon choices from the off, which presumably makes it fairly replayable, plus two difficultly levels, presumably for mortals and Gods.  I went for beginner and had a blast.  The power ups, pulse and super weapon all work well, the bullet waves aren't irritating and everything soaks damage & explodes in a meatily satisfying way.  Probably deserves a [9] for the price, but I'll go with an [8] as it's usually closer to a tenner.  Really enjoyed it.

    33. Little Inferno - Switch (3hrs 50 mins)

    This has been on my radar for years as World of Goo was one of my favourite games of the Wii360 gen.  I've never been quite sure what it is is exactly, which is probably why I waited for it to drop to £6.  

    Turns out it's nothing like anything else I've played, it's marvellous, and it's also two player.  In handheld mode I presume it has touch screen controls, but it uses single JoyCons as pointers for co-op mode on a TV.  I might be one of the biggest moaners when it comes to the poor build quality of the JoyCons, but this is a tidy reminder of how versatile they are while they work properly.  Back to the game though, it's easily one of the best Wiiware titles I missed on Wii U, and probably in the top ten games for that console.  It makes less of a dent on a best of Switch list of course, but it's still a remarkable experience.  

    So what is it then?  In an attempted nutshell it's a one screen game where you order items from a catalogue, each of which take a certain amount of seconds to be delivered.  Then you burn them in a fireplace when they arrive.  When they burn, money pops out which can be spent on more things.  The more things you buy, the more catalogues appear.  When you've unlocked all seven (iirc) catalogues the end game kicks in.  There's a cryptic puzzle element to item combos to speed progression along (successful combos yield vouchers for instant deliveries), for example if the combo clue were 'Lunar Cycle', you might want to try burning a moon alongside a bicycle.  This part is fundamental to the appeal, they're great fun to solve.

    Along the way you receive letters from various other characters, but the less said about that side of it the better (due to spoilers, not crapness).  I played with Tilly and she was transfixed by all things Sugar Plumps.  

    One-of-a-kind off-kilter gaming with a big heart and a dark streak.  Loved it.  [8]

    34. Whipseey and the Lost Atlas - Switch (40 minutes)

    Mildly entertaining no frills Kirby type with fairly solid foundation in place for a better game.  With more levels and a bit of extra care tweaking the collision detection this could've been a decent budget type.  I had the six stages done in just over half an hour.  Professional reviews might reach for the phrase 'criminally short', but is it though? (Galaxy brain).  It's eighty nine pence at the moment, short games are far less of a swizz these days than they were when they retailed for £40ish in 1990.  This one reminds me of the Disney types of the era - pretty good while they last.  File alongside but slightly above Squidlit in the ultra budget 8-bit indie platform homage genre I will henceforth refer to as quidlits. [6] @89p, probably less than [5] at full price (£5).

    35. Steamworld Quest - Switch (16hrs 03mins)

    Waffly intro alert.  I've had an odd journey with the Steamworld games.  I started with Heist on 3DS, which is planted in the top half of my top 100 in Cinty's thread.  Then I forced myself to play Steamworld Dig on Vita, which I'd convinced myself I'd hate because of the procedurally generated layouts, and ended up loving that almost as much as Heist.  Then I stumped up for Dig 2 at launch on Switch, which is generally considered the best in the series, but wasn't quite as taken with it as the first, despite all proc gen stuff getting the boot.  Good game though.  Then they announced Quest, and my screwface had FFS written all over it thanks to the RPG card battle thing.  Turns out they'd curried enough favour with the other three, so I took the plunge anyway in a recent sale.  

    ....And it's not as good as it could have been, which is annoying as I liked it a lot more than I expected to.  The card battling is by far and away the highlight of the game, and managed to hold me in a grip of addiction long after the rest of the it had run out of steam (clones of earlier bosses are relentless in the final third).  The card mechanics might be considered simplistic to those in the know, but to the layperson (hello) it felt like a genuinely rewarding battle system, up there with anything turn based I'd care to mention that doesn't involve a movement grid.  I was hooked, well and truly.  I was also unexpectedly okay at it, as even the final guardians all fell at the first attempt (with minimal grinding along the way).  I only really struggled with one early-ish boss and one sub boss, the latter of which which forced me to play entirely differently to my physical attackers + healer preference.  Everything clicked and I always felt in control, which is quite rare for me with anything remotely similar.  Maybe cards are my jam?  Slay the Spire here I come.

    I pretty much loved the combat, but everything else was just slightly irritating window dressing.  I tend to like the look of the Steamworld games, but wasn't keen on the visuals here.  The script was weak, the characters were dull, the plot was shit and the exploration is rote.  It would've been a much better experience without any of the standard RPG trappings.  [7], but there's a much better game in there somewhere.

    36. Streets of Rage 4 - Xbox One (5hrs)

    The Bear Knuckle/SOR franchise is a suitable poster child for a dormant genre that once had heavyweight clout.  Most gamers of a certain age will have played Streets of Rage 2 at one time or another, and from those you'd be hard pushed to find anyone who wouldn't describe it as (at least) one of the best scrolling beat 'em ups ever made.  In the late 80s/early 90s Double Dragon/Final Fight clones were ten a penny in the arcades, but the format grew stale. With the advent of more powerful consoles and a frenzied push for 3D experiences, the genre was jettisoned in favour of uncharted territory and any genuinely well-known examples since could be listed on one hand. God of War/Bayonetta and their ilk are an evolution of the format, but the side scrolling, meat in oil drums, gutter pipe toting army of doppelganger style 2D beat 'em up is a very specific thing.  Since 1992 the biggest splash made by a game of this type (or thereabouts) was probably when Castle Crashers had its 15 minutes on XBLA.  It was a fun game, but it really wasn't a patch on the genre's best.  The top efforts since remain comparatively unknown.  Some quick shouts: Scott Pilgrim (which nailed the more simplistic approach), Mother Russia Bleeds (cracking in co-op, deserved more attention), Wulverblade (quality solo, outstanding audio).  The recent indie boom has paved the way for a mini resurgence, most of which have flown under the radar.  There's a Jay & Silent Bob effort with an 8-bit style on the way.  Slaps & Beans are doing their thing if that's your thing (who?).  There's even one where you parry your way to victory (Way of the Passive Fist, and it's actually quite good!).  Anyone heard of Coffee Crisis, Fight 'N Rage or Dusty Raging Fist?  Hello?  Enough preamble then, what I'm getting at is that the scrolling beat 'em up has quietly made a comeback in recent years, but you'll often have to sift through online stores to find them.  The release of Streets of Rage 4 is like when a big wrestler returns to the ring and all the pretenders continue to strut their stuff with as much gusto as they ever did, but everyone knows the Big Daddy is back.  I probably shouldn't have gone for a wrasslin' analogy as I've never really seen it, but I imagine that's what happens.  More importantly than anything I've just typed, Streets of Rage 4 is the best game mentioned so far, and that includes Streets of Rage 2.  And Bayonetta.    

    Crucially, Lizardcube decided that the key to refreshing the franchise close to 30 years on was to refine and tweak the foundations.  There's never been a scrolling beat 'em up that could accurately be described as notably superior to SOR2, so it makes perfect sense that this feels closer to that than the entry in between (no.3 is a good game, but it's rarely described as a great one for a reason).  The roll move from that game is absent, and the characters here feel weighty again.  Each of the four street brawlers has roughly the same number of moves available, all of which are executed with the same inputs as before, so straight off the bat this feels welcoming and familiar for anyone seeking that sweet Sega nostalgia hit.  The more you play, the more you begin to appreciate the deftness of the evolution - yes, it's SOR2 at its core, but the subtle tweaks appear to be successful across the board.  Moves can be chained together far more effectively than before, with air juggles now a viable option for combo seekers.  Previously energy sapping specials now only drain health permanently if you take a hit before a getting a few extra punches in yourself.  Adam suffers from this as the drain on his specials is pronounced, whereas Axel can be slightly more liberal with his big hitters.  Floyd and Cheery represent the new blood in the roster, but they're both familiar.  Floyd is Max and Cherry is Skate, and both characters scream early 90s.  They've either been designed by someone who deserves to be sniggered at (metal arms beefcake & Guitar punk grrl? lol), or they're the brainchildren of someone who absolutely gets what slightly shitty scrolling beat 'em up characters are supposed to be.  Either way the end result is perfect, and the whiff of jank to the cutscenes leads me to believe it's deliberately on the nose.  Well played says I.  Lalalala.  Adam can dash, Cherry can run.  Floyd can barely retreat from an exploding barrel without taking a hit.  From my two and a half playthroughs so far, none of them appear to be noticeably useless, although Adam (a secret character of sorts anyway) does seem to flex quite considerably in most key areas.  The grunts are a good mix of easy to dispatch and slightly annoying, the stages are tightly designed around a 3 life starting point and the bosses are decent.  Of course, everything is better in co-op, but this is easily the best solo SOR experience. 

    Visually it's a triumph, I had some doubts from trailers but the finished product is absolutely glorious.  Blaze's nork-walk looks silly, and Barbon looks like a Slimfast Stacy Keach wearing Simon Cowell's strides, but the overhaul is a resounding success on the whole.  At first I thought the tunes lacked a certain something, but the score came alive in the back half, and when I went straight back in I realised the early efforts are quality too.  Nailing the audiovisual package was always going to be tough, but it gets a 'good job very well done' on both counts from me.  

    It's the right length, the rinse & repeat nature of the core gameplay is enough of a hook to provide many hours of post credits enjoyment and the score attack element works well.  My only real gripes are the slightly weird screen push problem that can occur in co-op (a player being left behind feels a bit wrong for the series), one or two too many repeated boss fights (essential to the genre, but even so...) and the fact that numerous stones appear deliberately unturned with an eye on DLC.  This could have been the complete package, but it probably won't be for another 18 months or so, and I'm fine with that. 

    As a series update it's even better than the excellent Sonic Mania, and I fully endorse this trend of faithfully updating franchises without fucking with the elements that made existing fans fans.  All eyes on Battletoads (titter).  [10] 

    It's not really a 10, but it gets a lockdown point for arriving at just the right time to cheer all the old Segaboys up. 

    37. Super Buster Bros - SNES (50mins)

    Always enjoyed two player Pang on my mate's Amiga in the early 90s, but assumed a ball bounce puzzler where you control the character would've aged pretty horribly.  Turns out I was wrong, it's stood the test of time pretty well.  It's fairly simplistic in the Bubble Bobble one screen mould. with various puzzle patterns that require planning by the back half of the game.  Plans go awry and it plays well when you're readjusting in a flap.  For what it is, which isn't quite my cup of tea, it's very good.  I played on Easy and was glad to have save states by the end, so I'd imagine Normal mode would be well beyond my patience threshold.  Loses a few points for a bizarre lack of two player mode on SNES, which is near Final Fight levels of crying shame.  84%

    38. Splasher - Switch (3hrs)

    Excellent checkpoint platform game recommended by monkey a page or so back.  I liked the sound of it but wasn't expecting it to be quite as good as it is.  The fact that such an inventive and well executed platformer can be - to the best of my knowledge - lost in the flotsam and jetsam of the indie market speaks volumes about the levels of choice these days.  Aside from the obvious goings on rn, what a time to be alive (nabbed it for £4 too).  

    This starts quite well and gradually improves with each and every upgrade, yet never makes the 'too many abilities' faux pas.  The final unlock is so good a couple of stages reach Meat Boy heights.  It's getting late and I'm up early so I'll leave it there (read monkey's review for more thorough thoughts), but this is in the upper tier for me, relegating Mr & Ms. Splosion Man.  Graphics are appealing too, it scales in and out exceptionally well, which doesn't sound noteworthy until you play it, but the close-up sections are always welcome as it looks so chunky & nice.  A lot of games go for this visual style these days, but not many pull it off successfully.  Might be one for @acemuzzy. 8.5 rounded up to [9]

    39. Pocket Mini Golf - Switch (80 mins)

    None too shabby ultra cheapo (£1.50ish full price) minigolf game that's hamstrung by its mobile roots.  The paywall stuff hasn't really been adjusted for console play so you have to grind, a lot, to collect enough gems to get through the single player.  Even then the levels just start to repeat past 60 or so.  Entertaining enough if you find sinking balls in holes relaxing, and probably fun in the interesting looking mp mode, but only really worth a punt if you're jonesing for some crazy galf.  There's no snap, so it's just aim, power and shoot, but it's a decent enough Flash type while it lasts. [6]

    40. Fight 'N Rage - Switch (80 mins)

    Decent arcade style scrolling beat 'em up.  Was 50% off before SOR4 arrived, otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered, but it was pretty well received among fans of the genre so I thought I'd take a punt on it.  The moveset is a bit 1991-ish, so this is feels closer to the games on the Capcom Beat 'em up bundle than the very best the genre has to offer (albeit better than any of those in fairness*), but that's fine, I knew this going in.  The visuals are appealing enough, although the excellent CRT cab/scanline effects are doing some of the heavy lifting.  Won't set anyone's world alight in this day and age, but it's 3-player, which is nice, has three very distinct characters (and presumably more to unlock), numerous modes, scope for juggle combos, parry moves and multiple routes.  It gets a bit tough in single player, even with constant crowd control planning, and waiting for the special to recharge is a bit annoying, but it's still fun.  If you've got room for more than a small handful of these games in your life it's well worth a look, especially with some mates round to bash the buttons with, but Streets of Rage 4 wipes the floor with it in all areas. [6]   

    41. Akane - Switch (4hrs)

    When do you review open ended games?  I'm approaching the point where I'm satisfied with what I've achieved/unlocked, so I'll probably put this to bed for a while.  I champion plenty of sub-£2 firesale types on here - FutureGrind, Videokid, Hyper Sentinel, Volgarr the Viking (HEART), Biolab Wars and the excellent Switch 'n Shoot being my favourites thus far - but it's rare to stumble across one that troubles the best indie games on the system.  For what Akane is - which is admittedly a very limited game in terms of scope for a modern title - it's nigh-on perfect.  

    It's an arena clearance type, but don't expect much variety while you mop up the onrushing hordes: this is no frills arcade thrills, but the key point is that every aspect of the mechanics are perfectly executed.  Your character's main method of attack is strikingly precise katana swipe.  It slashes as you press the button, so a quickfire tap tap tap tap tap can kill five opponents.  You'll have to play it to see why this is worth mentioning, but this absolute sword control is intrinsic to the appeal.  The katana has a stamina gauge, so you also have a range weapon (bullets for which are recharged by killing with the sword) a dash (feel free to dash and swipe), a parry and two forms of special move, one of which cleaves opponents in a straight line and the other takes out enemies anywhere on screen.  That's about it.  There are four types of enemy within each phase and a single boss that repeats (although he scales up as you progress).  There are also perks that unlock as you fulfill certain criteria, such as a sword that can be thrown or a longer dash as a reward for, say, hitting a combo of 100.  The more you play the more you unlock, but the improvements they offer are minor buffs rather than game changers.  

    There's only one arena.  When you defeat 100 enemies the boss appears, and when you defeat him the process repeats.  At heart it's a high score chaser where your runs are tracked on kills, boldness, combos (you have roughly two seconds to chain kills together) and katana accuracy.  The soundtrack is quality, although there's not enough of it to avoid plenty of repetition in a game that demands to be replayed endlessly. To sum up, it's a modern one-hit-kills single room Smash TV.  Think Mr. Shifty via Ruiner with a touch of Hotline Miami's close-quarters precision thrown in for good measure, but more self contained than any of these titles - it almost feels like you should be dropping an extra 20p in a slot each time you die.  That covers most of the bases, but there's plenty of Geometry Wars in there too as you need to be on your toes with crowd manipulation to survive.  On Bramble's life this is an outstanding game; it doesn't shoot for the moon but it doesn't put a foot wrong either.  [9]

    42. Hyper Light Drifter - Switch (5hrs 4mins)

    Stylish action Zelda dash 'n slash effort first released in 2016.  Non-linear in terms of your choice of route for the first three areas, which resulted in me choosing poorly - the first boss I found was easily the trickiest in the game.  In a weird way this probably helped get me on the hook from the outset, he was a real struggle with a barebones bag of tricks. The action is decent and I found it all quite moreish, but some of the mechanics were slightly off key.  The manual heal on six blocks of health always felt odd, for example, and even with practice the double dash timing loved to give me a nope.  It's chock full of secrets, but I tended to push on as soon as I'd collected enough key shards, so I expect I left a lot of things undiscovered.  I have no idea what the numerous monoliths I activated did, for example. Exploration for progression is fun though, mainly because the combat is quite neat and tidy.

    On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's easily one of the most luscious audiovisual packages out there - I could happily hang some of the artwork on a wall or listen to the soundrack while washing up - but just a smidge shy of greatness at its core.  Got to add this bit in too - it constantly evoked half-memories of Fez, which was nice. [8]

    43. Huntdown - Switch (4hrs)

    Superb run & gun firmly rooted in the arcades of yesteryear.  It's an over the top pastiche on the surface; there's no real subtlety to the tone - the GET SOME is tongue (lightly planted) in cheek, but it's also born to kill.  It's framed as an amalgamation of all the video covers in the action section of an early 90's Ritz, yet the gameplay is perfectly refined.  Make no mistake, this is the ultimate form of the genre it mimics.  Whether you're down with this sort of thing or 'down with this sort of thing' is on you, but it ticks all the boxes for me.  It's bizarre how the best game of its type (IMHO) has been made thirty years after the genre's heyday, but the more I played the more impressive the achievement became.   It's mostly slow paced, so measured play reaps the rewards, although there's scope for better players to tear around thanks to the dash/slide moves. 

    The most obvious touchpoints in the way it plays are Rolling Thunder, with its horizontal fire, and the original Data East Robocop, with its immensely satisfying slug thuds and general 6000 SUX-iness.  I mentioned Cuphead in another thread, which gets my endorsement as a very good game, but it's at the opposite end of spectrum with shot feedback.  Enemies in Cuphead are bullet soakers, whereas Huntdown has far more weight and bite to its gunplay.  Even your standard popgun pops.  Of course, restricting the fire to two directions means even some run 'n gun fans may automatically find something amiss, but I've always been into this style if done well, from Shinobi to Gunman Clive. 
    The characters are just about varied enough to warrant experimentation, but their abilities aren't game changers.  Wisecracking heroes is an easily made yet bold development choice as it so often goes wrong, but they don't repeat lines too often and I was fine with it.  It over-eggs the hard boiledness, but so what?  Two player mode works perfectly, although I'd recommend a harder difficulty setting for couch co-op lovers thanks to the revive move.  Just about the only complaints I can think of are the melee weapons, which seem to have a delay on the input negating there effectiveness somewhat, and the fact that it's over.  Twenty stage is fine, but I would've lapped up an extra ten.  Perhaps they trimmed the fat as it doesn't put a foot wrong with its layouts or bosses.  Did I mention bosses?  It's treat time if you like a pattern-based toplads/lasses waiting for you at the end of every stage.  There's not a dud in the pack either.    

    I said this in the Switch thread and I'll say it again, I'd love this as an arcade cabinet.  There's plenty more to say and I could type about it all day but there's a pretty niche appeal to it, so you'll either look at the (early build) gif below and feel the sweet coin drop nostalgia pull or scoff at it like a young Elijah Wood.  For me it's either GotY or just behind. [9]

    44. Toki Tori+ (Switch) - 7hrs-ish?

    Really nice little puzzle game that deserves a higher mark than you'll see attached below.  Collect eggs spread around small stages using various abilities.  Not as easy as it sounds as there's usually a very specific order required for success, with a finite number of abilities at your disposal.  With the handy rewind function (spool back to any previous point in a level) you'll play out a game of trial and error as you attempt to unpick the puzzle.  It's easier said than done once it gets going, but once you get used to the systems in play you'll start to spot, for example, which egg had to be collected last and work from there.  It's great fun, with a huge sense of achievement when it all comes together, but as usual with games of this type it became too irritating for my tastes as it entered the final stretch.  I'm terrible at long form puzzles and they get extremely intricate in the final zone, to the point where I stopped enjoying myself as working towards each solution took upwards of 45 minutes (same thing happened with Baba is You and The Swapper).  I'm not cut out for these types of puzzle game really; anything that requires too much planning eventually makes me feel like a div and I'm usually happy to return to shooting stuff and jumping over things.  If the genre is up your alley it's a better game than Baba is You imo, it just looks a bit nasty and lacks the indie darling word manipulation hook. [7]

    If it had been an early import only Saturn release retroheads would stroking their beards at it, giving it honourable mentions on LISTS and scouring the inlays for scuff marks.

    45. Kunai - Switch (5hrs)

    Fast paced Metroidvania that's built around impressively solid player control, making it more of a 'playground screen' type than a sprawling epic.  In terms of world design this is resolutely old fashioned; you'll map out the areas as you plot a course, but there's little in the way of head scratching.  It's more Gato Roboto/Iconoclasts than Hollow Knight, which will either be welcomed or scoffed at depending on the hotness of your take.  Save stations do what they're supposed to and regenerate health, and they're rarely far enough apart for the (therefore manual) checkpointing to irritate.  Solid is a pretty good way to sum it up, it's the sort of thing I can't imagine many fans of the genre hating if they actually played it.  Spoiler alert (although not if you check the controls at the start), the dash move you acquire in a late game section should've been introduced earlier, and once the bazooka unlocks everything else become slightly redundant, but these are minor gripes.  Bosses are mostly good, one in particular is just shy of very good, and it's just about the right length too.

    The dual kunai grappling hook mechanic is well worthy of high praise - mere seconds after they were introduced I knew traipsing around would be fun - and while there are a few pacing issues and annoyances here and there, overall it's a very good effort.  The pastel visuals are on point to the point where it's quite a looker in its own upper tier budget way.  In this day and age with the choices on offer in the genre it's a [7], but it's a Brent Rambo thumb up type of [7].  Worth a look if you're after a game that plays well and doesn't fuck itself in an attempt to over-achieve.  If it had been an early import only Saturn release retroheads would stroking their beards at it, giving it honourable mentions on LISTS and scouring the inlays for scuff marks.    

    46. What the Golf? Switch (4hrs 47mins single player, roughly an hour mp)

    What an absolute treat this game is.  If you think crazy golf is crazy think again, is the sort of thing a full page advert for this might've yelled at you in the days of ten a penny magazine ads.  Even golf games claiming to be zany aren't a patch on the shenanigans at play here.  It's gentle indie fare, with a similar breezy/unhurried feel to the likes of Donut County or Untitled Goose Game, and it's genuinely funny without being as embarrassingly try-hard as most recent humorous games (honestly, I'm still suffering from a residual taste of Freedom Finger).  The whole thing is just....pleasant.  I loved it, it's consistently inventive to the point where none of the stages stood out as weak sauce, and the frankly brilliant Vs mode is quite possibly even more appealing than the campaign.  Find someone to battle with and pack four pairs of trousers in case you both wee yourselves.  Will be all over the DLC on day one. [9]   

    47. Deliver Us the Moon - Xbox One (4-5hrs)

    Terrible walking sim that I've moaned about elsewhere.  The story is reasonably good, which is a relief as the way it plays is close to appalling, but video logs and holographic flashbacks have all been played out to varying degrees of success elsewhere so even at its best it feels outmoded.  Once you've played through Edith Finch and experienced the ingenuity of its interactive storytelling, or Firewatch with its chef's kiss setting/dialogue, Or Gone Home with its all-the-feels 90's snapshot thing, or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture with Ron from Goodnight Sweetheart, it really is a drag to return to looking for notebook pages that read 'if you forget the code to the loading bay it's 1234'.  Most of the game is third person - and these sections control poorly - but a chunk of it is first person, which control abysmally.  It has a couple of QTE's, which I don't mind as a rule but you pretty much need to know what's coming to succeed, which of course requires deaths and restarts.  Which require staring at a loading screen that always seems to linger just long enough to make you wonder if Jeremy Beadle is about to burst in wearing a wig.  Shit game.  I hated Tacoma too, but that was marginally better.  I think I gave that a [4], so this gets a [3].  A score in the mid 70s on Metacritic is baffling as it honestly feels like an idiot test at times, which I failed by persevering with it.  

    48. Lydia - Switch (70mins)

    Unexpectedly, it took a freebie to rekindle some of my faith in lesser-known interactive narrative types.  I grabbed this earlier in the week as it's free on the EShop if you own...something I already own?  Robonnauts maybe (which is bang average).  Anyway, type 'nakana' into the store and you can grab an assortment of gratis games this week. I wasn't expecting much of course, but this is a genuinely legit piece of abstract storytelling that deserves to be viewed as something far more worthwhile than its current pricepoint suggests.  It's undoubtedly best to go in cold, but with minimal spoilers it's a well written and surprisingly measured tale of troubled childhood coupled with nightmarish escapism segments and the passing of time.  It's a point and click type with the absolute bare minimum of actual pointing and clicking, none of your dialogue choices really make a difference and you're mainly just watching something unfold while repositioning your character, and yet....it's quite a ride, and it hits harder than you'd expect.  It's rather dark in places - it's an 'adult themes' game really, and not because the characters say fuck while shooting aliens that killed their wives.  It doesn't shoot for the moon but it achieves more in an hour than some of those that do can in four or five (/deftly removes shoehorn).  Fleeting but it lingers.  [7]

    49. The Stretchers - Switch (5hrs)

    Co-op rescue 'em up game that can be played solo, but I can't see why you would given the wealth of alternatives out there.  Unless you really fancied a rescue game I guess?  With two players it's a quality little adventure though.  Hacksaw Ridge meets Moving Out via Simpsons Hit & Run works as a loose description; civilians are being dizzied by a mad professor type, and you have to un-dizzy them in a big machine.  To do so you must drive around a fairly small island (think Crazy Taxi in terms of size) while selecting on-foot missions to fill up your ambulance with 6 dizzies per area, which requires popping them on stretchers and chucking them in the back of the van.  It threatens to come unstuck from time to time due to the way your characters grab whatever you need them to pick up - getting close and waiting for the prompt to appear works well enough on the whole, but it's slightly wonky here and there.  Plus I really don't understand the logic behind your medics not having a Heave-Ho! style cast iron grip, meaning they're forever dropping things due to slightly random butterfingers.  It's not game breaking at all - this is knockabout fun rather than precision gaming - but it would've benefited from a touch more love during the tweaking process.  It's all nice and easy, with no real fail states to the ticking timers (you just lose potential multipliers for tardiness), meaning it's perfect to play with youngsters (I played with a 5yr old with no problems).  Taking turns to drive but allowing the passenger certain controls was a nice touch.  Overall it's miles more sedate than Overcooked so I didn't end up feeling like we were kicking each other with steel capped bossyboots every session.            

    It's £17.99, which is a bit steep, but I can't say it wasn't worth it.  There's a sticker book with some optional but enjoyable bits 'n bobs in it, so there's maybe 8hrs here if you're in it for everything.  It's from them that did Little Nightmares, which wasn't quite a worldie but had some superb sections, and there's some real quality to the way it's been put together on the whole.  The visuals are stylish and don't creak under pressure.  It makes you play with split joycons, which is annoying rather than weird if you've got analogue drift problems like me.  It works well enough on a tiny pad, but the no standard pad restriction is a slightly shitty oversight.  Definitely recommended though, and deserved more of a fanfare.  [8] 

    50. The Bug Butcher - Switch (2.5hrs)

    Moot the miser is back, £2.33 baby.  I've had this in my PSN basket half a dozen times over the years, but even at £3.99 in sales I was never quite ready to bite the bullet.  Non interesting fact - the only other two games I've nearly bought that many times are The Bug Butcher, which ended up being really good (final boss notwithstanding) and Clustertruck, which ended up being properly shite.  This is a Pang! update, but rather than thoroughly modernising the template it remains fairly basic, with 30 rooms to vanquish and no real risks or liberties taken.  It leans more heavily on the shooting than puzzling though.  There are special weapon drops, the randomness of which takes the shine off a touch, and the dash button could've done with a L/R trigger option, but overall this is a nifty stab at updating an arcade classic.  Visuals are nice looking and crucially, unmuddled when you're twitching against enemy waves. Don't play if you're expecting anything remotely revolutionary, but I could probably affix that description to 95% of the games I like.  It's solid pattern based shmup fun, if you enjoy/enjoyed Pang there's next to no chance you wouldn't get something out of this.  There's an optional endless mode that's playable in co-op too.  [7]

    51. Valfaris - Switch (8hrs 9mins)

    Ghastly looking run & run side scroller with visuals that seem to be stuck in an undesirable early 32-bit limbo.  Overly pixellated characters coexist on a 2D plane with some fairly obvious 'HERE COME THE POLYGONS' geometry additions such as rotating cogs, all coupled with a strong metal motif (replete with the devil horns/power chord/headbang combo when you collect new weapons).  It's certainly not a sight for sore eyes, which is a bit of a catch-22 as it's a fucking eyesore.  It's the designer's vision and it's probably a job well done on some level, but no sir I don't like it.  CRT filters help to an extent, but half the game looks like a magic eye picture of Dio's haemorrhoids. 

    That's pretty much it for the negatives though, the game itself is sailing pretty close to masterpiece territory.  Yes, I like lots of things I play and I'm reasonably easy to please with tight new retro experiences, but this is one of the best games I've played in recent years.  It's not quite as air-punchingly good as Huntdown for my admittedly oddbod tastes, but that was a very specific tarted up retro experience that erred on the simpler side of gaming history.  Valfaris is the better game if we're talking head vs heart.  

    It's fairly standard in terms of the basics; multi directional shooting with a bumper assigned to lock you in position.  You also have a melee attack and a secondary weapon (which has its own energy bar).  Using the former replenishes the latter.  Throw in a shield on top of the rock solid foundations and you've suddenly got a game that feels a little different to its genre peers.  The shield relies on the same energy bar as the secondary weapon, and a last minute block can turn projectiles into a counter attacks that are unleashed when you release the button.  It all feels pretty intuitive once you get going, and the levels themselves are superb.  The bosses might not look particularly memorable, but each one requires a pattern to defeat that many Cuphead guardians would be proud of.  The various weapon unlocks mostly seem worth experimenting with (all of which can be ugraded), and it turns out I happily backed what seems to be the Reddit crew's equivalent of the water magic for the majority of the game.  *Shrug*, it worked for me.  

    I'm struggling to think of a run & gun game that plays better than this, all things considered, and as I can't do so off the top of my head I'm willing to declare this the best example of the genre ever created.  If you appreciate what this is trying to do it's a pretty special game.  Ultimate form [insert retro template] types are the best thing about modern gaming for me.  I might moan about open worlds getting larger elsewhere but at the same time I've never been this well catered for with the kind of experiences I love.  [9]

    52. Arise: A Simple Story - Xbox One (5hrs)
    I'd been itching to play this since launch, finally spotted a half decent discount on XBL earlier in the week and thought it'd be a nice way to reach MacGuffin peak in the thread.  I knew about the platforming issues beforehand, but I had a slightly dismissive 'how bad can it be?' attitude towards it and was fairly confident I'd love it.  The answer to my flippant non-question is actually 'bad enough to to take the shine off the whole thing and a few more layers beside'.  It's such a shame the character control wasn't overhauled somewhere in the run up to release because what we've got is Accrington Stanley level 3D platformer that's constantly gaping in awe at the milk-guzzling Liverpool standard of pretty much everything else about it.  The visual style is stunning, the music hits its marks well, the tale itself does what it says on the tin yet delivers, and more importantly the time lapse controls assigned to the right stick open it all up into something fairly remarkable.  There's some lovely, lovely stuff in here, but the deadweight character and often confusing camera positions consistently negate the goodwill that's constantly earned elsewhere, especially in the final third.  It's maddening.

    53. A Short Hike - PC (2hrs) 

    Since we packed away my dad's 486 SX PC that wouldn't run Alone in the Dark 2 (not that I'm bitter), my desktop gaming history has consisted of 45 mins of Far Cry and a dozen or so matches of the original COD online.  Thanks to the megabundle that dropped last week and a bit of cajoling from Nick, I'm back in the game.  My laptop isn't supposed to be able to run this, but it managed it and I can probably play Super Hexagon now too.  Plus there are half a million other games in that bundle that I'd probably buy for £2 each in EShop sales.  I feel like a galaxy brain.   As expected, this is a lovely little thing.  Unlonely Mountains Uphill with a sprinkling of Animal Crossing and maybe even sort of microcosm Breath of the Wild thing going on with its unhurried/unforced exploration.  Your goal is to reach the highest peak, but it's unlikely even the most straight-ahead players will take the shortest route.  Some odd mid-air camera shifts aside, I can't really fault it.  It's so leisurely and agreeable it's pretty much le grand chien of floatation tank gaming.  Quality soundtrack too.  [8] 

    54. Stories Untold - Switch (4hrs) 

    Low level spoilers ahead:  Episodic narrative puzzle game with various balls in the air.  It kicks off as a text adventure before moving into the puzzle room genre.  The closest comparison for me would be Statik on PSVR, but as few people have access to that particular gem, something like Zero Escape might be a more useful point of reference.   The second and third chapters in particular require constant cross referencing with in-game manuals, and I assume most players may need to consult the interwebs for assistance in non-cheaty ways.  Nudge nudge say no more.  It's not a format everyone is going to enjoy as the situational sleuthing often moves at a glacial pace, but the way the episodes intertwine as you progress earns a tip of the hat.  I'll leave it there as the less you know going in the better.  I took a while to warm to it as it's a sea change compared to my usual fare, but it's a rewarding, surprising, purposefully infuriating and very well crafted adventure. [7]

    55. Pop 'n Twinbee (SNES/Switch) - 2hrs 

    Not sure what to make of this really.  Played co-op with retroking over a sensible social distance of maybe half a mile.  The online two player option on the SNES app is a pretty nifty addition, even if it is hamstrung by a paltry selection.  It's a cheerful vertical scrolling shmup with an annoying weapon upgrade system.  Team up moves like the throw and health share are neat features, as is the adaptive difficulty that seems to see enemies aiming for whichever player is having the better of it.  There's not really much oompf to it all though, and I'm feeling slightly harsher on it than I was when the credits rolled last night, so it gets a miserly 73% 1993 score from me.  Which is probably a [4] in actual 'if it was released as a nu retro title now' modern money.  I enjoyed it, but it's not a vintage 16-bit shooter for me.  

    56. Horizon Shift '81 - Switch (5hrs) 

    Properly basking in the glow of this one, was close to giving up on it two thirds of the way through as it gets TOUGH.  You should have seen me on the last levels, the crowd would've gone wild.   I've had it for ages but until last week I'd only dabbled.  It's a regular member of the 89p brigade, of which there's a specific sub-section of deceptively simple tate mode types that really suit the Flipgrip.  Downwell is the most well known, fair enough because it's a nifty little game, but Switch 'N Shoot and this are of similar calibre*.  Switch 'N Shoot is twitch heaven (and probably marginally superior if I had to hang my hat on one), but this is a bit of a deeper cut.  It's an assured take on the classic arcade shooter template, screamingly and faithfully retro, yet stuffed with extra little tweaks and systems that nudge it beyond simplicity of the coin-ops of the time.  Your craft sits on the horizon line and can be manually flipped to shoot up or down the screen.  You can jump or barge left/right (granting brief invulnerability) and certain enemies can take a chunk out of the line if you let them, which of course you can fall through.  You'll be managing oncoming waves in both sections, kind of like a dual screen LCD Game & Watch type, but with top notch classic arcade shmup controls - deciding which enemies to focus on, which of the floating upgrades to pick up, when to drop your bomb and generally plotting how to survive on the fly.  Every five levels there's a checkpoint, followed by a boss.  The bosses are a bit weak in fairness - they're all fun, but they're also far easier than the rest of the game.  The single stage respite comes as a relief in a way, but still has to go down as a criticism.  This, coupled with the random nature of the weapon drops means that it falls just shy of excellence overall - sometimes it can be a horrible cunt to you for minutes on end, other times it giftwraps the tools to succeed.  I suppose luck of the draw is the nature of the beast, but there are some clear cut OP/*AVOID* weapon choices in there.  Because of the checkpoints and gradual progression rather than three-lives-and-out nature of the gameplay I probably enjoyed this more than the incrementally harder scorechasers of old.  Galaxian was my game as a nipper, photos of me standing on a wooden crate to play it at a caravan site in Dymchurch etc., but this pushes the very best at times.  It's pure yet inventive and more importantly, perfectly formed.  It might be buried under 100 tons of (glorious) indie fodder on whichever store you're lucky enough to find it on, but it's remarkable how well it all works.  [8]

    57. Shovel Knight - Showdown (50 mins) 

    A quick one, didn't realise the new arena battle DLC had a story mode.  Played through as a couple of characters and then had a mess around in two player for a bit.  It's fun, and free if you own the Treasure Trove edition.  The base game is pretty much the best thing this side of Trials for me, and previous rounds of DLC have all been welcome, with King of Cards in particular giving (what's now known as) Shovel of Hope a run for its money in places.  The package is now packed with content no-one expected at launch, and to the best of my knowledge it's been added to and expanded upon more than any other title*.  It's quadrupled in size since 2014, and I'd still give the OG release a [10].  It even has co-op as standard on the main campaign now, which would have been laudable extra on its own imo.  The battle mode - the final round of DLC, released five years on - is a fun addition, and while it wouldn't give Towerfall Ascension much to worry about in a straight brawl it's still impressive that it works better than most one screen battle mode indie releases (believe it or not there are loads of them about).  It's not deep, but it does madcap well across numerous modes and the unlocks come thick and fast the more you play.  As a standalone title in the £5-8 range I'd probably give it a [7] based on what I've played so far. 

    *Okay No Man's Sky sprung to mind after typing this.

    59. Limbo - Xbox One BC (80 mins-ish, second full playthrough) 

    Meant to add this yesterday, blitzed through it again with the aid of Youtube in places after playing Inside.  It was one of the games that led the charge for indies to a certain extent, and it's stood up pretty well considering it's what, ten years old now?  Plenty of the puzzles are very good, and playing Toby: The Secret Mine recently really showed me how wrong this sort of thing can turn out in the wrong hands.  In hindsight it feels a Playdead practice session for Inside, which is similar yet markedly superior in every way, but this still stands up. [7] with 2020 hindsight eyes, but it was an [8] at the time.
  • Vere, can you add ‘19-12’ to me in your OP?

    I’m hoping for much more this year. Hoping.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • 60. Super Meat Boy - Switch (2hrs)

    It probably is still a [10] tbh.  Slight qualms with some of the late game hazards aside it's the perfect platformer.  I only played to credits this time, which is 6 chapters of light world stages, but even scratching the surface again was wonderful.  The whole package is just astonishingly good, from the basic controls to the bandage placement.  Replaying it also reminded me that I never dabbled with any unlockable characters further than checking out their moves.  Will fix that.  The new score just isn't as good unfortunately, but plenty of the tunes are decent enough. The big addition for the Switch release is the split screen race mode, which I presume has been patched into some other versions but I'm not sure.  Select which chapter you want (or the whole game if you wish) and whether you want light/dark levels or a mixture, and off you pop in a race to the finish, basically playing two separate games concurrently with a progress and goal bar at the top of the screen.  Warp tiles push you ahead by a level and bandages can be used to skip stages.  Plus all characters are selectable from the off. I've only played against Tilly and she can only get to 1-19 because she needs to git gudder, but against a similarly skilled player this could be about as tense and brilliant as same screen multiplayer gets.  It's an excellent under the radar addition.  It's a shame it's local mp only, because I could lose weeks to this mode online. No idea what's taking the sequel forever to come out, and also still sulking that it's an auto runner.  I like the genre, but how many SMB fans actually wanted that ahead of a straight platformer?  I expect it'll be good if it ever sees the light of day, but it's got no chance of being as good as more of the same.

    61. Behold the Kickmen - Switch (3hrs) 

    I haven't even started the review properly yet and I know I'll struggle to explain what the hell I found so addicting about this deliberately wonky story-driven throwback kick 'em up.  The central conceit of 'a football game by people who don't know the rules' is stretched quite thin, but there's something about battling against the infuriating gameplay within a top down footie game that should be as simplistic as the Megadrive World Cup Italia '90 (while the crowd shout advice like 'do a goal!') that I was powerless to dislike.  It's an anti Moot game in a way, because it really does play like shit while providing next to no challenge whatsoever as you waltz towards the credits, bit it's just such a beaming doofus of an eperience I ended up playing a couple of matches a day until I'd finished it.  I lost one game (hanging my head here), but I won the final 14-0.  The problem with the AI is they always try to walk it in; they're just as likely to belt it into their own net for a three point goal from the halfway line as they are to actually have a shot, but somehow that still works.  I loved being a big soccer steamroller and gradually unlocking abilities like 'passing' and 'tackling' while spending my bankings on being better at teamplay and goldkeeping.  I honestly don't know if it think it's a [3] or a [7], so I'll award it both scores to be on the safe side.  Recommended at £2.99, if only to sample the best worst game this gen.  Thanks @poprock. I think. 

    62.Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - played on Xbox One (3.5hrs)  

    Games lauded as classics from bygone eras aren't often as impressive on a first time play as they were then, especially from the 32-bit era imo, but this has so much going for it I enjoyed my playthrough immensely despite being 20+ years late to the party.  The core hack & slash CV gameplay is absolutely on point, so there's a rock solid foundation to the gradual exploration, and everything unfolds at a fair clip without any real scope for getting agonisingly stuck (hello Super Metroid).  It gives plenty of modern Metroidvania types a run for their money.  In fact, if you take Hollow Knight and Ori in the Blind Forest out of the equation - just because they're my favourites - SotN would probably squeeze into an all-time 2D Metroidvania top 5 even as a modern title, despite the few issues I had with it.  Those issues are as follows: far too easy (to the point of imbalance really), transformations under-used and a bit of an afterthought in terms of control, a fiddly inventory (by modern standards) and a very basic map that doesn't list area names.  Genuinely though, if this was a £12.99 EShop game that arrived as an indie Rebirth thing it'd still get deserved props.  Graphics are pretty much the best 2D I've seen on Playstation and I even liked the use of 3D geometry in amongst the sprites, which is often a turn off for me.  Some lovely parallax scrolling going on, mostly stunning areas and just an absolute visual treat overall.  Very impressed, main character animation is superb.  Music seemed varied and mostly strong too.  It's a very good game played cold in 2020 and I've no doubt it was absolutely terrific in 1997, so my retro review would be 93%, but I reckon I'd give it a modern [8] depending on price. 

    63. Observation - XBoxOne (7hrs maybe?) 

    Continuing my mission to at least try everything published by Devlover, not many left now.   You play as the ship's AI on a space station.  Via communication with surviving crew you must attempt to unravel the current situation (whatever that may be #spoilers).  You'll do this by manipulating cameras and logging onto various software via laptops and suchlike, so you don't have a physical avatar to possess unless you're roaming in one of the droid spheres.  It's a narrative driven puzzle game, and there's plenty of scenery scanning involved in the puzzle solving.  It's not quite needle in haystack stuff, but it sure feels like it at times - a few of the systems in place definitely feel a bit obtuse, and some of the one-off tasks feel a bit under-explained, meaning that I considered myself lucky for solving one or two as it definitely doesn't hold your hand through its various systems.  This is what the devs do, there's plenty of 'you're on your own' style puzzles in Stories Untold too.  I don't appreciate it myself, and would say a hint option to fall back on would've been welcome.  If you're asked to do something, then ask whoever gave the instruction to repeat it, they literally just repeat it.  It takes the shine off somewhat as 'I told you to assess the damage' ad infinitum should really be evolving into 'assess the damage to the mainframe' or something marginally more helpful if you're clearly stumped imo; it can seem a bit harsh, robotic and downright cryptic at times, conjuring up flashbacks of point 'n click adventures of old.      It's an odd game, and tbh I think I would have bounced off it if I hadn't played Stories Untold as an undercard of sorts.  Much like Stories Untold, the story this tells is excellent.  I've suffered Tacoma, and more recently Deliver Us the Moon (which was kinda a'ight in terms of story), but this is a cut above.  Genuinely creepy and deftly drip fed, it's top tier videogame sci fi and in terms of interactive narratives I'd say it's up there.  Once again I found myself wondering if I would've enjoyed watching a stream more than playing it myself though.  I don't tend to watch other people play games, I find it a puzzling pastime (each to their own ofc), but games 'worth experiencing' that don't play particularly well are bit of a thing at the moment.   There's a lot to like here, but I can't decide whether or not I was having much fun even when I didn't find the tasks laborious.  I'm in proper waffle mode now so I'll stop.  It's good, I can see what it offers being so far up some people's street it could proudly top a GotY list or two, but I've got to settle on a harsh [6].  A worthwhile chore.  On another day I might've reached for a [7], but I played too much of it in a short space of time.   Special mention for the facial animation on your main companion - clearly unintentional, but she looks more baked than Stoner Stanley.  Her super-blazed face was the only levity in an otherwise resolutely po-faced adventure.  Edit: Actually, I've decided that a non-interactive on-rails VR narrative would have suited me more than playing it.

    64. Hotline Miami - Switch (3-4hrs) 

    Handily, I wrote about this recently for Jon's GOTD selections: Moot_Geeza: “Ferocious top-down murder 'em up that strikes a masterful balance between power and vulnerability.  Formulate your own plan of action to clear each floor, always acutely aware that the tables might turn in a heartbeat, at which point the hunter becomes the prey.  Skin of the teeth gaming at its absolute best; the perpetual peril is astonishing and the stages are mostly designed in a way that allows player strategies to be adjusted as required.  It's a wonderfully satisfying experience with a mesmerising one-hit-kill foundation.  Having possibly the best soundtrack of the decade certainly doesn't hurt either.  [10]
    Having played through it again for the first time, I'm going to reluctantly rescind the perfect score.  It's a brilliant game, probably still in my top 15 or so ever, but the brief hospital stage and some irritating boss bits bring it down to a (still high flying) [9].  And the Switch port is such a bug ridden mess this particular version shoots its foot off and earns an [8] overall.  I encountered at least 5 major bugs that required full stage restarts (enemies disappearing before my eyes and reappearing way off the map was a favourite), which just isn't good enough for numerous reasons.  Throw in a smattering of lesser hiccups like bullets not displaying and you've got a poor port that slipped under the radar, presumably because it either wasn't tested extensively for reviews or the expected patch never materialised.  In some ways it's a perfect game, but wondering whether a stage will glitch as you clear it puts a sizeable dent in the enjoyment. 

    65. Not a Hero - Switch (3hrs) 

    I've been dipping in and out of previous favourites over the past couple of months and this was perfect for short burst handheld gaming (I played it on PS+ originally).  Hotline Miami is well known round these parts and this is a criminally overlooked companion piece of sorts from the makers of the excellent OlliOlli games.  It's a fast paced 2D cover based shooter where you skid between shadows mowing down masses of gang members intent on running their mouths off as you fill them with holes.  The voice acting and dialogue snippets are pretty much second to none in this field.  It's an acquired taste, but enemies shouting "wasteman!" at me never got old, nor did the brazen stereotyping for each non-hero.  Feel free to scoff, but this game is hilarious.  In fact, I urge you to play it in an attempt to scoff, because even if I'm wrong about the hilarity I'm absolutely convinced I'm right about the gameplay.  Picture a high octane Bonanza Bros/Elevator Action/BroForce hybrid and you're most of the way there (no, not High Octane the Cyber Speedway aka Gran Chaser clone.  And anyway, that was 'Hi-Octane', lesser nerd). You get one life per stage, so you'll die a lot (especially if you're attempting to tick off the extra mission parameters).  It takes the old hat well designed approach to level design rather than the rouguelike route, so you will be learning and plotting as you go.  It's not as memorisation heavy as many games of this type though, which is where the Hotline Miami comparison comes in.  If plans go awry you can absolutely cut through the pickle to emerge unscathed and tumescent with that 'what a rush!' feeling.  It's scintillating stuff and in terms of hidden gems I'd say it's up there with the best from any era.  I just wish I wasn't so stuck in my ways with my approach to games as I used Cleetus the Scotgun guy for the entire game, again.  I love the way it plays at close range but I know I'm missing out.  Maybe I'll play it again one day, would almost certainly make a top ten of the gen list. Truly excellent. [9] Two gifs for this one, as I'm really trying to sell it.  Was £2.60ish on Switch at one point FYI, I'm sure it's seen similar prices elsewhere.

    66. Sonic Mania - Encore Mode (Switch, 3hrs 18 mins) 

    What I originally thought in one of these threads:
    Probably the best Sonic experience since Knuckles + 3, and surpasses that in places.  Over the moon with what they've done here - imo it takes the best of Sonic and adds better bosses.  So far I've just played one run to the credits, but I've got nothing but fondness for the experience.  Will be there or thereabouts as my GotY.  [9]
    Which I'd pretty much stick to.  It deserved a slightly more in-depth take at the time really, given that it was pretty much the best thing Sega could possibly have done with a new Sonic.  It was a crying shame the Saturn never hosted a new 2D Sonic game, but Christian Whitehead & co. basically created a modern 32-bit Sonic game that played like remastered greatest hits, with a smattering of valid bonus tracks.  The bulk of the game was made up of familiar stages (with new layouts) from the only golden era of Sonic - '91-94 - packed with familiar music and built around the only three characters worth their salt.  The bonus stages were outstanding, loosely based on the Sonic CD special stages, and it's probably fair to call them the best in the series.  The Sonic 2 tunnel is iconic but was never particularly playable (not with both characters at any rate - did anyone ever get all the emeralds with Tails mimicking their movements an entire second behind the inputs? ).  That format was probably 'perfected' in the Saturn port of Sonic 3D.  I quite liked the blue sphere stages from Sonic 3, and they returned to Mania alongside the flat shaded polygon chase-the-UFO sections. It was a brilliant update because it did everything Sonic did well, but with extra finesse and variety.  This was never going to win anyone over to the Sanic format - surely all gamers over a certain age know whether they liked the Megadrive Sonic games or not - but for existing fans it was an absolute treat, up there with Sonic 2 and Sonic 3+Knuckles for sure.  A year or so after launch the 'Plus' dlc arrived, which I grabbed for cheap on Switch.  The Encore mode adds two characters from a lesser known Sonic the Hedgehog arcade game - Mighty the Armadillo and [something] the Squirrel, but they're miles less shite than Vector the Crocodile, Big the Cat, Rogue (Rouge?) the Bat or any of the other jokers since.  Plus they have distinct abilities that that felt worthwhile.  It also rejigs the stage layouts and aesthetic here and there.  Instead of traditional lives you collect character changes from TV sets and can switch between the main two at any point.  It's an okay idea in theory but it does some annoying things with the restart points, meaning it either feels too easy if you've collected a few buddies or too harsh with a single character (somewhat negated by gaining continues admittedly).  At first I thought the stages were completely overhauled, but the bulk of them are actually quite similar, which is a bit lazy compared to top tier dlc offerings.  It's minor tinkering on the whole, with the new characters, character system and colour palettes being the main changes (bonus stage layouts are new too, and overly harsh).  Oh, and a hilariously bad pinball special stage has been added, which feels like it was rescued from the Chaotix cutting room floor.  It's quite a thing. The competition mode now works with four players instead of two...but that's about it as far as I can tell.  The dlc is far from vintage really, so: [6].  The mania show is wonderful but don't expect much from the encore. It's just about worth it for the new characters though. Still, it was a good excuse to play through it again, which had me dreaming of all the missing stages they could stuff in Sonic Mania 2.

    67. Portal 2 (5-6hrs) - played on Xbox One 

    Total play time is a guess there really, it may have taken longer but it didn't feel like it.  The first Portal is a [10] for me, and on reappraisal I think the sequel sneaks into this elite bracket too.  The campaign, with its unrivalled videogame script and delivery; what a ride.  Factor in the co-op and you've got a rare example of a sequel that improves upon near perfection.   Enough about the game though, I know if Elf's reading he'll be dying to clap eyes on my list o' tens. So in no particular order, the games that I consider to be actual full moot [10]s are: Portal Portal 2 Super Monkey Ball Super Meat Boy Shovel Knight Fez Thumper Super Mario 3D World Halo: Combat Evolved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Streetfighter 2: Turbo or Special Champion Edition Heave-Ho! Trials Evolution Mario Odyssey That's how the land lies rn anyway. Nearest misses, but [9]s nonetheless: Hotline Miami, Celeste, Wario Ware, Fire Emblem Awakening, Micro Machines 2, Kururin Paradise, Pro Evolution Soccer 6, Ori in the Blind Forest, Mario Golf World Tour, Rocket League. In a couple of cases these are games that have retained honorary 10s despite being 'of their time' in some respects (Ocarina of Time, Halo CE), but mostly it's a crop of games that will continue to be almost perfect forever.  Apart from BotW, which is actually a bit crap in certain ways but over-compensates spectacularly with all the good parts.

    68. Slayaway Camp - Switch (roughly 5hrs)  

    Acquired as the gooseberry on a three game 'Blood & Guts' pack that's intended to shift in sales (it launched at something like 85% off and I'd be amazed if anyone in the entire world ever intentionally pays £40 for it).  I grabbed the pack for (the superjank) Slain, with the added bonus of (the excellent) Super Blood Hockey, but Slayaway Camp is probably the best of the bunch, certainly in single player.  Who knew?  It's a single screen puzzle game where you kill victims with turn based sliding from point to point in scenes inspired by classic slasher flicks.  Anyone who's played Hitman Go will know roughly what to expect.  Killing all the campers opens the exit.  You can rewind every move, and doing so is key to gradually solving the often specific routes through each stage.  Each episode is framed as a videotape movie, and the credits start to roll if you fail.  Graphics are basically 'gore Minecraft', but they have a charm.  The real attraction is the actual puzzling though, it's a very well designed game.  It doesn't throw vast amounts of systems at you but fresh ideas appear steadily as you progress and your actions have plenty of knock on effects that can lead to quite deep brain busters with a real sense of accomplishment when you succeed.  You can buy a hint or a solution for each level and it doesn't penalise you for being dim.  Which is great, as I needed the full solution numerous times.   Recommended for fans of Sudoku, maybe?  It's a [7] for my tastes, but a very strong one, and I reckon that might sneak up to an [8] for the bigger brain puzzle types?  @acemuzzy or @jonb.  It sells for £2ish as a standalone sale title on Switch, so they probably pay you to buy it on Steam.  Very pleasantly surprised by it. 

    69. Strikey Sisters - Switch (3hrs)  

    Very good brick breaker with bosses and a story.  Don't worry, the cut-scenes can be skipped.  Something about a lost cat.  Play in either one player or co-op, tackling standard stages (break all blocks) or boss stages (deplete a big nasty's energy bar).  Enemies will pop with a weapon drop of varying usefulness that floats down the screen to be collected or avoided.  These include bombs, double ball power ups and suchlike.  It's a fun game, especially in co-op; everything works well, although what it offers is admittedly limited.  It's a perennial sale title and half price (£4ish) bags you a bargain imo.  It's got a nice look - reminiscent of Twinkle Tale to an extent - with some decent retro style tunes, plus the snippets of sampled speech are fun, particularly the bosses that shout "ice ice ice, baby!" and "you can't touch this".  Won't set anyone's world alight but it's a quality lo-fi indie effort and would be very fondly remembered if it had been a genuine SNES release.  [7] 

    70. Galaxy Champions TV - Switch (4hrs)  

    Well this is bollocks.  I've been playing it on and off all day and it crashed on me one stage from the end.  Because I'd been at it solidly since the football finished I hadn't quit to menu at any point, which turns out is the the only time the bugger saves any progress.  I enjoyed the ride but I'm not levelling up for three hours again; it's a bitesize game and there's a point where enough is enough.  Bleat away fams, I'm having it.  For a £1.34 sale title no-one else is going to play, who gives a shit anyway?  I watched the last boss on Youtube and I would've taken him nae bother.   It's a Smash TV inspired single screen twin stick wave based arena shooter with a roguelite-esque perma-upgrade system.  I spent two hours chipping away at the first world, gradually beefing up my stats and learning the flow of the game, before smashing through to the next three worlds without breaking sweat.  I almost got through the third world on my first go, which is odd as the whole thing started off tough as nails.  So the balancing is off, but I can't say I'd hold that against it for the price.  If anything it was nice to feel like I was wrecking shit at last, it takes a while to get powered up.  Upgrades include three weapon levels for each gun, three levels of dash and unlocks on item drops such as shields or a robo buddy.  You don't have to cash in your chips before dying either, restarting retains all XP, so it doesn't relish being nasty like some shooters.  It lacks the style of Smash TV but it plays a decent game, you'll need to get your tactics down pretty quickly as the waves can merk you in seconds, and the all-important addiction levels are high once you're in its grip.   I had a good time with it, shame about the software error/save glitch.  I needed something to play while taking a breather from Astral Chain and this did the job nicely.  [6], but there's nowt wrong with that now and then if you're after cheap arcade thrills.

    71. Astral Chain - Switch (16hrs) 

    Good grief.  There's usually a point where enough is enough with systems in play for this sort of thing, and of course this gleefully nitro-boosts past it and over the horizon.   It never seems content to rest on its yanny's and opts to chuck more and moar at the player in an attempt to incessantly up the ante.  Against all odds it works, for the most part, but while it's an accomplished game in many ways it repeatedly trips over its own ambition.  With so much going on it's a marvel that so much of it sticks though, which is no mean feat.  The base combat is standard Platinum - remove the bells and whistles and the actual combat would play a lot like like everything from Bayonetta to Ninja Turtles.  It's the multiple layers on top that separate this from the rest.  Wrapping enemies in legion chains is satisfying, as is the tried and tested hack/slash & timed dodge stuff of course, and while there's a touch of fiddliness to almost everything it's definitely a game that wants you to learn its intricacies rather than go through the motions.  You can pummel your way through on the standard 'casual' difficulty if that's your thing (hello), but the default settings are clearly intended to ease you in as constant prompts remind the player that upping it gives you the intended experience.  I'm more inclined to get through rather than git gud with most 3D titles, but having got a good feel for the combat by the end (and after watching a few Youtube vids) it's obvious that the skill ceiling is sky high.  I'd still maintain that Platinum don't do ultra size beastie battles particularly well, but the small to not-quite-massive opponents are mostly great fun to dispatch.  I considered a longer review highlighting the numerous faults, wrote myself some bullet points and everything - the often disastrous camera being the biggest problem of a long list, and does anyone like fail state 3D stealth sections in action games? - but I've had a long day (during which I narrowly escaped redundancy, again) and can't be bothered.  It's a decent game that's a bit too hyperactive for its own good and probably could've done with a few legs being lopped off the spider diagram at the ideas stage, but it's a ride worth taking nonetheless. Scrapes an [8], believe it or not.

    72. Carrion - Xbox One (4hrs)

    If you haven't played Inside, there be spoilers ahead.

    I won't beat around the bush with this one; this was a huge letdown.  Early footage showed promise and it had been on my radar for ages, but the final product is a poor Metroidvania with an interesting central conceit.  Billed as a 'reverse horror,' you assume control of a tentacled organism intent on escaping from some sort of facility.  Initially the lack of map threw me, but progression is mostly linear.  More often than not the game funnels your movement and traps you within rooms you're able to solve.  As you progress you gain various abilities, but rather than recalling a suspect section of wall and backtracking to progress, it's more of a keep on keeping on type - the abilities just usher in new puzzle types.  The monster controls well for the most part, which is the clear highlight of the game.  Occasionally the grab mechanic lets it down, but never enough to tarnish the controls too much.  It's fun to get about.  Unfortunately the skirmishes with facility staff are poor.  Environments give the impression of emergent combat, offering various points of attack and routes of escape, but the combat itself is weak.  It's fun to grab enemies and smash them into walls with a few flicks or the right stick, but taking out anything more troublesome than than the standard fodder types just struck me as annoying.  Any sections where you control humans feel like a weird Flashback parody, which just doesn't work.  Couple that with the fact that the puzzles are often quite tired switch pull types - with doors eventually containing a cheek-puff number of segments to unlock - and you've got an experience that really isn't anything to write home about whatsoever.  The monster spin is unique enough, but it's been utilised in an uninspiring by--the-numbers puzzler that didn't offer a single 'that's brilliant!' moment for me.  

    Speaking of games with 'that's brilliant!' moments, here comes the Inside bit: the whole carry on here is basically the closing scenes from that, stretched out into a sub-Limbo level straight-ahead platform puzzler masquerading as a Metroidvania. With intesting controls and bad combat.  It was on course for a [6], but I managed to take a wrong turn near the end, presumably because the devs mistakenly thought anyone would voluntarily go searching for secrets.  As mentioned, the game unfolds in a mostly linear fashion, ergo I had no memory of the facility layout whatsoever.  With no map to call on I somehow managed to get myself deeper and deeper into the swamps of sadness without the faintest idea how to get back to...wherever I was supposed to be.  It brought to mind being stuck in an actual real life maze, and I started to get A Bit Shirty, because real life mazes are torturously boring/slightly oppressive.  I eventually consulted a Youtube walkthrough, which showed me where I needed to be (I'd been loitering 3 minutes away from the credits just before getting lost, what fun), but not how to get back there.  Honestly, I considered not finishing it but eventually found a handful of breadcrumbs and got lucky.  Which brings me to the [5].  A wonky action puzzle game which has received some baffling praise from numerous websites.  I gave the same score to The Mummy Returns iirc, another slightly arduous Metroidvania, but I enjoyed that more.  The monster is great, the game it's in is below average.  

    73. The Touryst - Xbox One (6-7hrs)

    Fancied this for ages, played and enjoyed the demo on Switch but £18 felt too much for something that other badgers had mostly described as wonky but good.  Enter gamepass, and I'm glad I didn't pay for it outright.  

    It's almost a game of two halves.  The exploration/to-do checklist while island hopping is fun, but pretty much all of the content within the monuments is poor.  Which means it was a constant pleasure/pain experience for me.  Visually it's one of the nicest looking games I've ever played.  I guess that sounds like hyperbole but I was very taken with the oh-so-shiny shiny block look, and it's chock full of incidental flourishes that add various cherries on top.  The camera is a bit annoying, but forgivable outside of monuments if you set it to 'most of the way out' and resist the urge to fiddle with it.  There's a ton of character to the grab-bag of minigames and non-convoluted fetch quests; as mentioned the above ground segments are great, whether you're chasing high scores on nu-retro titles in the arcade or dressing for the jazz club for a spot of match-making.  It's a quality little world to kill time in.

    To finish the game you'll need to collect four cores though, which are all guarded by bosses in various monuments.  They're all crap, unfortunately, sometimes alarmingly so, meaning the traditionally gamey sections let the side down considerably.  If they'd been on par with the rest of the experience this could sneak onto a discerning GotY list (but what year??), but as it stands every stretch leading to a core is a ballache.  The controls are fine for sightseeing and running errands, but if you're suddenly tasked with precision jumping the character needs to face the direction you press instantly rather than turning, the dash controls need to be tweaked, the camera needs to be less ridiculous and so on.  It's not fit for purpose with what it's asking you to do.  Granted, the "U F Off!" orb section aside there's nothing that stands out as criminal, but none of the core grab sections are enjoyable and just seem to lazily test your patience until you succeed.  There's a lot to like here and I'm glad I stuck with it, I definitely had a good time playing as Movember Wookie, but any more than a [6] would feel wrong. 

    74. Pool Panic - Switch (6-7hrs)

    An absolute oddity.  If the the label 'a hot mess' was ever perfectly applicable to a game it's right here.  You play as a cue ball with legs potting grimacing pool balls within a Nicktoons stylised world.  There are 100 stages to tackle which are accessed from a large hub area.  Each of the stages require you to pot as many balls as you can before sinking the black and unlocking the exit.  Completed stage awards act as currency to be deposited in a weird structure at the centre of the map, which gradually turns into a tower depending on how much of the game you've completed.  Every single stage tasks you with something slightly or completely different to anything you've seen before.  In some ways the closest comparison would be something like What the Golf?, as the whole thing is a melting pot of pool rather than golf (although there is a pool golf course on offer).  The fundamental requirements are the same for each level, but it's absolutely brimming with genuinely neat ideas.  At a glance it might appear crude and garish, but there's plenty of style here.  It's a decent looking game, and there are numerous touches that elevate it above mid-level EShop fodder.   A cheeky bastardisation of Camp Nevada for the boy scouts stage (Greensleeves and Chariots of Fire also make appearances in classic The Shinning fashion), a jousting stage, a motorbike section, trick shot hustle shacks, ski stages, bosses, secret areas, shortcuts, in-game achievements, all sorts of genre nods 'n winks, plus the non-bitesize length - it all shouts labour of love.   

    The problem is, the act of potting balls - the crux of the entire game - is somewhere between serviceable and terrible.  You have to forgive the way it plays to have any hope of seeing the best it has to offer.  I don't know how I managed it to be honest, possibly because potting pool balls reminded me of sinking golf balls, which is my ultimate pipe & slippers genre.  Once I got to grips with the fact that everything was either fiddly, imprecise, wonky, shoddy, slapdash or a mixture of all that and more, it somehow managed to win me over with the aforementioned ingenuity offensive.  

    So basically, I can't recommend it.  But I really enjoyed it.  Despite the fact that the rock climbing stages are among the worst sections of any game I've ever played (I'm including things like the 16-bit Back to the Future sequels here, or getting to the bowling alley in The Flintstones on the Master System; I really mean they're disgustingly bad), I still came away satisfied that I'd spent ages getting through it.  An absolute slog, but there's something here I can't put my finger on.  A genuine curio and I'd probably pledge support for a Kickstarter reboot that actually played well. [6]

    75. Gunman Clive 2 - Switch (1hr)

    Enjoyed these on 3DS so double dipped on the double pack in a sale.   Simplistic platform shooting, horizontal fire only.  Both games have a striking hand sketched look that works almost as well in HD as it did on a tiny 3DS screen.  Occasional into the screen sections add variety, as do vehicle stages, but it's all very lightweight.  Checkpoints are rarely more than a few screens apart but you have to complete a full stage to hit one.  Having played Mechstermination Force since you can tell that the devs had fun creating the multi-part final boss in this one.  Nice price, nice games.  [6]      

    A double whammy of modern Megadrive actually-released-on-cartridge games ending in 'Crisis'.  Happened by accident, believe it or not. 

    76. Coffee Crisis - Switch (1hr)

    Terrible scrolling beat 'em up with very few redeeming features.  Plays like a coin guzzler and gets plenty of the basics wrong.  The near-useless charge move is a joke and jump attacks seem to be the only way to get through it.  As a modern game it's abysmal, as a 16-bit release it would've been one to rent tops (in 1992 - past that I doubt it would've been worth playing, even for co-op).  I paid £1.18, don't do it unless you've always fancied a weak scrolling beat 'em up with useless randomised mods to make it more annoying and a Skitchin' style metal soundtrack. 48%  

    77. Xeno Crisis - Xbox One (4-5hrs)

    An odd one to review because it's genuinely one of the best games on the Megadrive.  There would be a fair shout for this making a top 15 fro the system I'd say.  So I'll get the pretend retro MD review out the way first.  If this had been released in 1994 it would've been mildly criticised for its sky high difficulty (much like Probotector or Batman & Robin it just asks a bit too much of the player), but correctly lauded as an excellent randomised arena shooter: Mean Machines Sega 94%.  It's better than The Chaos Engine for my money.  Moving on a few years, it's better than Loaded too.

    As a modern rougelike release, things are a little different.  It's wonderfully simplistic, but requires such dedication to tame it starts to get infuriating long before you get a sniff of the sweet smell of success.  It's painfully difficult on the standard difficulty (Hard), and dropping things down to Easy doesn't really help that much.  It's doable on the latter setting for a man of my meagre yet battle hardened skills, but I'm not sure I could get through the later stages on Hard.  Top troll points for the fact that to even see the final boss you'll need to 1CC the whole thing, but that's a clear dick move imo.  Add another boss, sure, but don't do us like this. 

    You can trade dog tags for stat boosts between stages, choosing whether to boost ammo reserves, health, shot power and so on.  As the layouts are randomised you'll find yourself with varying reserves depending on the current seed, meaning you'll often have to adapt your preferences as you play.  It works, but you never quite feel powerful enough for my liking.  

    The shooting and movement is good, with the roll move proving quite useful despite offering no invulnerability.  The melee attack felt at least 50% weaker than it should.  Not game breaking, as I just opted not to use it much, but a heftier/more reliable swipe of the knife would've improved things immensely, as would more regular appearances of the additional weapons.  When standard assault rifle ammo depletes a crate appears, often on the other side of the room, so you'll be constantly making a beeline for that every other screen or so.  This reminded me a little of the drops in Assault Android Cactus but felt a touch pointless here if I'm honest.  Medipack drops also felt odd, occasionally they'd appear just as I needed them, but more often than not they were just too scarce and too random to be factored into your plans in any way. 

    I've played this quite a bit over the past few days and I like it a lot, but it's made me realise I underrated (the quite similar) Galaxy TV Champions a few weeks ago.  In many ways that's a better shooter, certainly in the way it gradually becomes less brutal the more you play, but also in the way the weapons and perks seem to achieve synergy with the action and it can all get a bit zen.  In Xeno Crisis you can easily come a cropper in subsequent screens and eat into precious continues because some enemies/patterns are just a touch too harsh, with too many projectiles and attacks to keep an eye on in terms of positioning.  Level three goes on far too long and presents the first difficulty spike.  The fourth boss is evil but the fifth boss barely scratched me.  I'm not sure if the bosses are randomised in some way depending on seed but I doubt it - they're just not particularly well balanced.  Perhaps the final boss is great, but I'll never know. 

    After four hours of playing properly I dropped it to easy and switched infinite continues on via a cheat code.  Endless credits isn't really the way to go obviously, but three continues just doesn't feel enough to learn the game properly unless you're willing to put serious hours in.  Much as I love stuff like this I don't want to play it for 20hrs, so on went the cheats.  I reckon I used around nine or ten continues in total (en route to The Bad End).

    There's more to say but I'm a bit drunk and I'm not sure how much I've waffled already anyway.  Graphics and Sound swing in with those high percentage Mean Machines scores and Playability isn't far behind.  Lastability is there too, but I'd have to give that 120%, which is too much.  More whisky I think.  A slight disappointment but a blast for sure.  If you want a nu retro rouguelike that MERCS Smash TV you're in for a treat. [7].  Will try in co-op at some point as I think the revive move will suit it.

    78. The Dark Pictures Anthology - Man of Medan - Xbox One (4hrs?) 

    This was a lot more enjoyable than reviews had led me to believe.  I was a bigfan of Until Dawn so would've bought this at the right price, but it was poorly received so I left it.  It's not that far off really, these games are rarely something I'd call genuinely good anyway.  UD was a riot, but the foundations were creaky enough in 2015.  This is built around the same basics - slow wandering around locations searching for clues or the next scene (srsly, it gives you a fast walk button early on and seems to take it away almost immediately, never to return), snap choices impacting plot, QTEs all over the shop and gaggle of youngish people whose survival depends on your decisions or reactions.  Some of the dialogue had me howling and the way the characters wander around wobbling their heads in the direction of pertinent items isn't too pretty either, but I wonder whether these games need this mid-level whiff of jank to appeal.  Would I enjoy myself more if everything was polished, better written and less irritating to control?  Hear me out here - perhaps not.  Take this with a pinch of salt as horror is my 'always ready' genre for films; good, bad or mediocre, I rarely struggle to sit through them, and I think some of that seeps through into this.  It's more enjoyable than a dodgy horror movie, and I love a good dodgy horror.  These games are miles away from working without the interaction, this one would surely get pelted with rotten tomatoes, but holding a pad seems to elevate them to somewhere worthwhile.  I had two characters die on me (one spectacularly) and managed to save three.  The fact that you're aware your characters can die at regular intervals really does add an air of peril to the proceedings that you wouldn't get from watching a random horror film on Netflix.  There's just something about the wonky interactive movie Fighting Fantasy Bandersnatch FMV walking survival horror sim genre that appeals to me.  It's a tough sell I guess, as certain aspects of these games really are appalling when you break them down, but I thoroughly enjoyed this - possibly because of the warts and all - and will definitely be on board for the rest of the series.    There's a group mp mode too, which I didn't try.  I presume each player chooses which characters to control, which sounds like a great idea to me.  Extra points for the in between bits where the curator is talking to the player.  If you enjoyed Until Dawn and you're happy to play what feels like a slightly cheaper DLC tale I don't see how you can go wrong with this really.  Gamepass delivers again.  [7]

    78. The Dark Pictures Anthology - Man of Medan - Xbox One (4hrs?) This was a lot more enjoyable than reviews had led me to believe.  I was a bigfan of Until Dawn so would've bought this at the right price, but it was poorly received so I left it.  It's not that far off really, these games are rarely something I'd call genuinely good anyway.  UD was a riot, but the foundations were creaky enough in 2015.  This is built around the same basics - slow wandering around locations searching for clues or the next scene (srsly, it gives you a fast walk button early on and seems to take it away almost immediately, never to return), snap choices impacting plot, QTEs all over the shop and gaggle of youngish people whose survival depends on your decisions or reactions.  Some of the dialogue had me howling and the way the characters wander around wobbling their heads in the direction of pertinent items isn't too pretty either, but I wonder whether these games need this mid-level whiff of jank to appeal.  Would I enjoy myself more if everything was polished, better written and less irritating to control?  Hear me out here - perhaps not.  Take this with a pinch of salt as horror is my 'always ready' genre for films; good, bad or mediocre, I rarely struggle to sit through them, and I think some of that seeps through into this.  It's more enjoyable than a dodgy horror movie, and I love a good dodgy horror.  These games are miles away from working without the interaction, this one would surely get pelted with rotten tomatoes, but holding a pad seems to elevate them to somewhere worthwhile.  I had two characters die on me (one spectacularly) and managed to save three.  The fact that you're aware your characters can die at regular intervals really does add an air of peril to the proceedings that you wouldn't get from watching a random horror film on Netflix.  There's just something about the wonky interactive movie Fighting Fantasy Bandersnatch FMV walking survival horror sim genre that appeals to me.  It's a tough sell I guess, as certain aspects of these games really are appalling when you break them down, but I thoroughly enjoyed this - possibly because of the warts and all - and will definitely be on board for the rest of the series.    There's a group mp mode too, which I didn't try.  I presume each player chooses which characters to control, which sounds like a great idea to me.  Extra points for the in between bits where the curator is talking to the player.  If you enjoyed Until Dawn and you're happy to play what feels like a slightly cheaper DLC tale I don't see how you can go wrong with this really.  Gamepass delivers again.  [7]

    79. Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron - Switch (6hrs) 

    Took five/six hours or so took finish, but at least two of those were spent on the final two bosses.  It's a serviceable enough shmup lacking any desirable feedback from the actual shooting of things, plus there are medals to collect and perks to assign which chucks any purity out the window for me.  Nonsensical dialogue obscures the view of your aircraft as characters intermittently spout shit at each other, and you can even tuck yourself away behind part of the hud in the bottom left if you fancy a cheap death or three.  Nice one.     Was a pushover until level 5-3 (of 5-5), then I had to reassign a load of abilities and tinker with aircraft.  Turns out the bomb is useless and active power ups are the way forward.  Wish I'd learned that a couple of hours before the end.  Actually, I wish I'd read this review before playing it, then I wouldn't have bothered.  Aside from the feeling of satisfaction for pushing myself through the difficulty spike it was a waste of time.  Sky Force Anniversary (and presumably the other one in that series) are miles better than this, even with all the arbitrary grinding.  At least the enemy bullets in those games aren't camouflaged against the backdrops.  A harsh [4], but fuck it. **As the gif seems to reveal a four player mode I'll up the score to a [5]

    80. Captain Commando (Capcom Beat 'em up Collection) - Switch (45mins)

     A quick blast through with retroking in co-op, online play is a nice addition to these games.  Such a shame that the implementation seems to be random these days, feels like a lot more games had the option last gen.  Huntdown would be perfect for it, but it's offline only and we're having to pick and choose from a fairly limited list of games.   This was fun.  There's nothing particularly outstanding about it but I thought it was one of the more enjoyable rubber stamp scrollers of the era.  Controls are basic, although you can perform a tenderise jump attack and run, so not as basic as some.  As far as I could tell, picking up weapons was usually worthwhile but jumping on discarded enemy vehicles was not.  Anyway, I would've happily pumped 20p's into the is the early 90s.  Character balance seemed off as it felt like the crackingly named Mack the Knife absolutely wrecked compared to the weird baby on a man's body character.  As it lacks the depth of a SORII I'm not sure practice would make perfect with the lesser characters, but we didn't play it enough to find out.  Good, straightforward fun for those who like to revisit these things.  [7] compared to its peers, far less if we're straight up talking 'how good is this game in 2020'.   

    81. Paper Mario: The Origami King - Switch  (roughly 30hrs) 

    30hrs still counts as epic, right?  It felt pretty epic to me, Tilly and I have been chipping away at it most days since launch.  I had hoped to click with the battle system, despite most reviews suggesting that it's not the main draw.  I didn't, unfortunately, but I didn't find the panel moving line-em-up sections as obtrusive as battle systems in RPGs of yore (the Final Fantasy VII battle music would still annoy me no doubt, and I used to place the pad on the floor in despair when the Dreamcast whirred to denote a fight was coming in the otherwise excellent Skies of Arcadia).  Folded minions can often be avoided, so believe it or not this didn't prove to be massively problematic even over the course of such a long game.  Special mention for the bosses though; I thought the slightly tweaked system worked a treat for them.   I didn't know what to expect from the non-battly bits, but it turns out everything else on offer is big-grin gaming.  The toad hunting is just about the most moreish optional extra I can think of - I've never been a hundo hunter but we found the vast majority of them, and having each one become a visible hype man in the arena is genius.  There's a ton of variety to the tasks and quests, most of it front and centre in the trailers but I'll avoid direct spoilers, and just about everything attempted outside the arena felt more hit than miss to me.  It looks gorgeous, the soundtrack is one of Nintendo's best for years, its pun game is stronk (as is the script in general), plus the story unfolds beautifully and genuinely goes places.  Was reading all text to Tilly and I needed a good cuddle once or twice.  I take back wot I said in the Switch thread about Nintendo's not-quite-major releases lacking a bit of spit & polish on Switch as this is about is lush & lavish as it gets. [8], but I tell you what, it'd be a straight [9] with more agreeable battles.   In with a shout for my GotY top 5, with Olivia winning character of the year hands down. 

    82. Battletoads - Xbox One (3hrs 50mins) 

    This was always up against it as it's predominantly a throwback scrolling beat 'em up releasing in the same year as Steets of Rage 4, but the basic brawling is actually pretty strong.  It's the constant attempts to add variety along the way that turn the experience into a bit of a pot luck tombola.  I'd say 65% of the game is the surprisingly proficient fightmens, and the rest is either one-shot or recurring distractions/diversions that either work (the into the screen scooter sections are decent enough) or absolutely do not (not going to spoil it, but I thought one of the slightly more out-there late game sections was RIDICULOUS).  The scattershot approach to gameplay coupled with fairly decent cut scenes works pretty well on the whole, but unfortunately the non scrolly/fighty bits never really threaten to be anything special in any way.  The hodgepodge is worth playing though, probably moreso as a couch co-op experience (although quite how that works on some stages is a mystery to me), but it's a bit of an Earthworm Jim game: all over the place, heavy on the wacky tween TV animation style, maintaining an average of 'quite good' throughout its many styles whilst never troubling the very best of the competition.         Despite some earlier standard stages outstaying their welcome, whenever the scrolling & punching sections returned in the latter half of the game I was relieved.  It's slightly draining to play back to back sections of new gameplay experiences (poor puzzle platforming, average platforming, QTEs, vertical shmups and so on), but judged on the fisticuffs it attempts some interesting things and mostly succeeds.  The tag system seemed oddly overpowered as it worked far better than the dodge for a quite blast of invincibility, but the tongue grab to either propel yourself toward enemies or Scorpion them over to you is well implemented.  You can dash, spit wads of bubblegum to stick enemies in place and guard break attack, plus there's a genuine rhythm/tactics game going on on standard difficulty, with enemies staying in a dizzy state for ages, certain types posing far more risk and so on.  Some of the enemy placements suggest a game designed first and foremost as a co-op experience, but it's never quite unfair as a solo game.  It's not quite there when compared to SOR4 but it'd give Wulverblade a fair fight, to name another good modern stab at the genre.    Overall it feels like a game intended to be developed as a labour of love that ended up a bit rushed.  The visuals have a certain style that seems to rise and fall in terms of quality from stage to stage.  Gav described it as Cuphead played on a recorder, which is glorious but actually a bit harsh; the finished product is no eyesore, but some of the stages just look a wee bit...off.  Not sure who to recommend it to as the series doesn't have much of a fanbase as far as I can tell, but it's not half bad really. [7] feels about right, glad I played it.
  • 83. Mortal Kombat 11 - Xbox One (4hrs) 

    My Mortal Kombat journey is as follows:  Knee deep in the hype for no.1, played it a lot in the cab office at the top of my road but only ended up renting/borrowing the Megadrive game.  In at launch for the the MD port of II and absolutely rinsed it.  27 year hiatus.  Mortal Kombat 11.  Aside from one go of X on gamepass earlier in the year I can't recall playing any releases in between.  Vs fighters aren't my thing these days, despite the fact that I would've licked the chip shop floor clean for ten minutes on [Street Smart] in 1991.  It turns out modern ones occasionally have story modes though, rather than the simple 'pick a character and defeat all the other characters while the AI slider gets cheaper and cheaper' format, so here I am.             And what a blast it was.  I'm only reviewing the story mode as I have no idea how balanced this is as a proper one on one fightman type, but it felt good and the grandiose interactive cinematic package was enough to get me back on the hook with the series.  As soon as the DLC drops to somewhere near the £12.99 I paid for the base game I'll be all over it.  It's got Robocop in FFS.  I played it on easy as I've got no time for resistance in games like this.  Scrub, aye, but I just don't find challenge enjoyable against the computer in vs fighters, it fucks me off no end - probably why I ditched the genre in the first place.  Plus you character hop for most of the game and having to practice to succeed would've noped me out.  I didn't see any traditional Fatalities in the mode I played but there was a low health mid-bout soft fatality of sorts, a couple of which had me guffawing thanks to their ludicrously OTT choreography.  The one with the coins, ahaha.   Graphics are outstanding, I assume there's plenty of post-processing stuff going on for the in-engine cut-scenes, but regardless of the secret electrickery it's a stunning looking game that maintains gloriousness whenever it hands you control.  As stated, my thoughts only apply to the story mode, but I'm buzzing about the whole thing so it gets a big fat [9]

    84. Wonder Girl: The Dragon's Trap - Switch (2hrs) 

    Fancied something familiar and short, this was perfect.  Didn't realise you could play as Wonder Girl, not that it makes a difference to the quest.  As I possibly mentioned last time I played the remake, it took a revisit to appreciate just how good this was for an 8-bit game.  I always preferred Monster Land on MS, and I probably still do (just), but it's remarkable how good this still is with absolute minimal tweaking to the gameplay (an easy mode has been added, which seems to reduce how much damage you take while dishing out more currency).  It looks fantastic, and a tap of the button screenwipes the whole thing back to 1989.  Modern/retro music and SFX can be toggled in the menu, as can CRT filters. Comfort blanket gaming. [9], all things considered.

    85. Florence - Switch (35mins) Short, but priced accordingly (and currently half price at £2.50).  I presume this was a mobile game at some point too.  It's a lovely little thing - an interactive snapshot of a brief but important period in the eponymous character's life.  It's best not to ruin anything when describing such a succinct experience, but there are some deft touches and enchanting sections.  I was happy to let Tilly play after I'd finished it.  Despite the fact that the main character is 25 when the game starts and it deals with the comparative mundanities of a young adult's life I thought it might be a nice experience for a 6yr old.  She loved it and I enjoyed watching her play such a nice game even more than I enjoyed playing such a nice game myself.  Next on the agenda is to watch her watching my wife play such a nice game.  Nice.  [8]

    86. Kentucky Route Zero - Switch (7-8hrs) 

    Narrative adventure that masquerades as a point and click to the untrained eye.  There's no [USE] [wax lips] on [sleeping dwarf] here though, as there's no inventory to speak of.  Gradual progression is the order of the day, so if you're looking for something challenging in a traditional sense you may well bounce off.  It flows along like some sort of Lynchian stage adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor inspired John Prine shroom dream, which means it's just about the most beautiful thing I've ever held a joypad to.  There were sections where even the feels had goosebumps, to the point where most other companies making walking sims and suchlike need to give their heads a damn good wobble.  I don't even necessarily mean feels in terms of where the story goes either; the whole thing just has this delicate overarching melancholy that resonated with my tastes completely.  Even when I wasn't reading about naked banjo players.    Visual novel isn't a bad way to describe it as you'll read your way through five distinct acts, selecting dialogue choices that affect the journey rather than the destination, while taking in the glorious sights and sounds.  I can't do it justice really, so I won't bother hammering out paragraphs to explain something that should be experienced rather than described.   I absolutely loved it and would place it alongside Melee to Monkey Island as the best trip in videogame history.  Wild. [9]  

    87. Aqua Kitty UDX - Switch (2hrs) 

    Definitely one of my favourite perennial cheapos.  Had a less snazzy version on Vita, think I gave it a [9] in one of these threads.  The bulk of the game is a very simple Defender homage played either solo or co-op (or for a more recent reference, think stripped down Resogun).  Shoot enemies with either your infinite popgun or slow recharging heavy/missile attack and stop them stealing kitties.  Go too far right on the map and you'll pop up on the left, small playing areas; you'll know the drill.  Well balanced and worth playing for fans of a good retro arcade experience.  This new version has something called Dreadnaught mode in it, which is what I played here.  Each level has a core which has to be activated by destroying enough blocks throughout the stage - then you can aggressively attack the core itself.  Not quite as good as the main game but I still had a blast, I thought the difficulty was perfectly pitched.  [8] I think, adjusted for inflation. 

    87. Knights of the Round - Switch (45 mins) 

    Funny how these scrolling beat 'em ups fare today.  I thought this was absolute bobbins in comparison to Captain Commando.  It's been a long time since I played Double Dragon but I'm convinced that had a wider range of moves than this.  All this seemed to offer was a basic stab-stab-stab attack combo, an ineffective jumping slash and a special that didn't seem worth bothering with as it depleted more of your own energy bar than your opponent's.  If Retro hadn't mentioned the block/parry I wouldn't have known it was there, so perhaps I played the entire game hammering two buttons when three were on offer.  Certainly with my double button approach it never felt like the moveset was wide enough to deal with the bosses in particular, which puts it at a sub-TMNT standard in terms of flagrant coin guzzling - it's deal a hit and get one back stuff in places.  The characters are varied at a glance, but they all felt equally underpowered in battle.  Big chopper Percival is slow but can run (there's no specific running attack though, he just stops and performs a standard attack), I guess rapier Lancelot :eyes: moves a little quicker in general and the fifth character (Arthur, presumably carrying a moist Excalibur) probably deals damage somewhere in the middle.  Meh.   Always liked the look of this but wasn't feeling it at all.  Golden Axe doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves in the 80s-into-90s scrolling beat 'em up hack 'n slash field.  Yes, you gradually level up throughout the game here, but only to stay a step or two behind irritating enemies that love hogging the space just beyond outer edges of the screen. [3] My favourite bit was these two chaps in the background, so I'm glad someone's made a gif of them: 

    88. Warriors of Fate (Capcom Beat 'em up Bundle, Switch)  

    Another online playthrough with retroking.  There's been some debate over the merits of this one compared to Knights of the Round.  I thought this was vastly superior, retro didn't seem to think there was much in it.  The grab move just made it all feel a little less one-note for me (plus the jump attack was actually useful), but it's all much of a muchness really.  I thought it was slightly more fair too, rather than designed to earn an extra 20p per boss. Decent, but it has made me realise my retro scoring system is a nonsense as I gave Captain Commando a higher mark.  Quite long at nine stages, nice enough to look at and there's good bit where you fight each other midway through (which I only lost because of LAG). [6]

    88. Warriors of Fate (Capcom Beat 'em up Bundle, Switch)  

    Another online playthrough with retroking.  There's been some debate over the merits of this one compared to Knights of the Round.  I thought this was vastly superior, retro didn't seem to think there was much in it.  The grab move just made it all feel a little less one-note for me (plus the jump attack was actually useful), but it's all much of a muchness really.  I thought it was slightly more fair too, rather than designed to earn an extra 20p per boss. Decent, but it has made me realise my retro scoring system is a nonsense as I gave Captain Commando a higher mark.  Quite long at nine stages, nice enough to look at and there's good bit where you fight each other midway through (which I only lost because of LAG). [6]

    89. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - Xbox One (4hrs) 

    Only touched the first game so far, three big sessions saw me to the end of Roswell.  I was ready for it today, got the Red Stripe in and lovingly prepared a couple of hash joints for the full nostalgia.  From demo to release to spruced up DC port I loved THPS, the early days of the series were slap bang in the middle of the post-pub glory days of gaming for me.  Tony Hawk's 1&2, Worms Armageddon, undercooked oven pizza and my mate's older brother's immense CD collection - scenes.  The combo skater genre was absolutely legit as a new challenger and it still stands up with a lick of paint today.  I'm too far gone to go into any real depth here but I had a brilliant time with it.  I absolutely smashed the first two rounds of Roswell too, but choked on the final heat for a paltry silver.  There's more to do of course, but I'm satisfied with a run through.  Will take a week or two off then blitz no.2.  Happy tears stuff. [9] 

    90. Hotshots Racing - Xbox One (70 mins) A modern approximation of a Model One arcade racer.  The rubber banding is insane, but I was enjoying myself so much at this point in the evening I didn't care.  I sailed through the GP on normal mode with 1st places on every track bar the final two, but again :big shrug:.  If playing it on a harder difficulty makes that shit more annoying I'll opt out.  It controls well and looks like a 13yr old me's wet dream.   Would I have shunted 50p's into this in Trocadero?  Yes/No Would I have written to The Official Sega Magazine to ask if this was coming out on the 32X?  Yes/No Are there aeroplanes, helicopters and ferris wheels knocking around in the background as you skid about?  Yes/No Does it have more than three tracks and is essentially 'free' on Game Pass, rather than £69.99 due to something called an SVP chip?  Yes/No    Can you ignore the disastrous music and put a Hey-Hey-Let's-Go-Faster poodle RAWK Sega soundtrack over the top of it on the SPotify app as you play?  Yes/No It's an [8] from me.  Will I play it again?  Yes/Probably Not, but I had an absolutely cracking time with it. 

    91. Spiritfarer - Xbox One - roughly 25hrs 

    What a beautiful game.  The whole thing bears the hallmarks of a good Studio Ghibli film - you know that Ghibli feeling that's hard to describe - somewhere between a dream escaping as you almost remember it and a faint childhood memory of The Moomins?  Yes/No - anyway: that feeling.  Somehow it manages to create a joyful whole out of a macabre journey filled with incessant pockets of busywork.  It's essentially a cross between the seafaring of Wind Waker, Animal Crossing and (warning: educated guess incoming) Stardew Valley, albeit with surprisingly tight 2D platforming controls.  There's a minor smattering of Metroidvania in there too as certain areas can't be visited until you've unlocked certain abilities, but the overwhelming majority of your time will be spent either running errands or repeating set routines.  It's quite clearly not for me, is it?  Well, I thought that and I was wrong too.  The unusual two player mode helped win me over, along with the overspill of charm (it's rare to find a co-op experience where both players lead, but aside from player two not being able to initiate conversations it's pretty much shared duties throughout).  I played 90% of it with Tilly - some of the busier busywork aside - and when the credits rolled we had a really nice chat about how she couldn't work out why she was crying as she felt happy and sad at the same time.  "I get that with John Prine songs sometimes" was about the best I could offer.  AND WE HUGGED IT OUT.  The visuals are always pleasant and occasionally gorgeous, the writing is strong in all areas and the soundtrack is absolutely sublime.  I thought Paper Mario or Kentucky Route Zero would win the year for me in terms of audio, but the score to this is frankly ridiculous.   Not for everyone, which I've been typing a lot recently but it's especially true here.  I can't really explain why it grabbed me, because on paper it absolutely wouldn't, but I can say it'll end up as one of my games of the year.  [8] in current form as it's a glitchy little number at present.  We had numerous issues and it always felt like we were sailing close to the wind with something gamebreaking waiting to sink us.  Mercifully that didn't happen, but holding out for a patch might not be a bad idea.  Minor imperfections aside the whole thing is a warm hug that goes on slightly too long. 

    93. MO: Astray - Switch (6hrs) 

    Inside is one of my favourite games this gen and Super Meat Boy is one of my favourites from last gen.  What if a talented group of lads and lasses managed to successfully combine strong elements of both styles into one glorious indie offering?  As near perfect as Inside is, it never really tests the player with its platforming, whereas MO never really stops - the SMB/The End is Nigh screen of insta-death template goes hand in hand with most of the puzzles; you'll need quick thumbs to execute plans successfully, and you'll die a lot.  I was amazed by the quality of pretty much everything on offer here, especially for a game that arrived with such little fanfare.  It's very close to Celeste in terms of pitch-perfect overall excellence.  Everything bar one particular section works well and the controls are always spot on.  Full recommendation alert, easily one of the best games I've played this year, if not on the Switch full stop.  [9]  

    94. Death's Hangover - Switch (80mins) 

    Possible Mootliest game of the year alert.  I enjoyed Strikey Sisters the other day and this popped up on the EShop for £4ish recently.  It's another 16-bit era arcadelike Breakout type with very basic bounce physics.  You can slow the ball down with the A button or speed it up with B while your bumper and the enemies continue at normal speed, which is quite a nice mechanic.  Work your way through the castle via various routes by smashing breakable doors leading to the next stage, picking up power ups, slaying occasional bosses and hopefully nabbing a few hard-to-reach souls to cheat death along the way (i.e 'continue').  Obviously it's a paddle type but it felt a lot like Pinball of the Dead in places.  Nothing special, but probably slightly better than I was expecting.  [6].  Won't trouble any hidden gems lists these days but it'd be one of the better unknown GBA games.  'They don't make 'em like they used to' is an idiom that no longer applies to games.

    95. Super Punch Patrol - Switch (70mins) 

    Stylised scrolling beat 'em up from the creator of the Gunman Clive games (and also the under-appreciated Mechstermination Force).  It revisits the Gunman Clive sketch aesthetic but applies it to a Streets of Rage/Final Fight clone rather a scrolling shooter.  Basic stuff, more than a little annoying in places, but serviceable enough.  It launched at £4.49, so it's budget stuff, but it's worth a crack in two player.  Normal difficulty is far too tricky though, even genre vets will run out of credits before the end and I'm not convinced practice would make perfect with some of the enemy types.  Easier settings just up the available lives/credits rather than making the brawling any less irritating (it's also quite satisfying, but maybe that's just me; I can't get enough of the genre this year).  Bang average but not without merit, lovely visuals for a start.  [5] 

    96. Graceful Explosion Machine - Switch (4hrs) 

    Top notch Fantasy Zone wrap around screen style shooter.  Tapping L1 changes your craft's direction, R1 dashes (during which you can safely pass through enemies but not bullets), and within a handful of stages you'll have learned how to use all four weapons.  The main cannon overheats with overuse and the other three weapons need some juice in the special gauge to fire.  Laser beam is relatively weak but focused with a long range, the spinning hammer is great for fending off enemies that stray too close (plus crucially destroys incoming fire) and the powerful missiles give it an almost Bangai-O feel at times.  Enemies drop yellow crystals which recharge your special bar but disappear very quickly, so there's a clear risk/reward system to the shooting as you attack/flee and dash through crowds to grab crystals.  It's masterful really, one of those games where you feel in complete control of success or failure at all times, even when you're down to a slither of life.  There's not a whole lot to it but it's nigh on perfect at what it offers.  I paid £5 but I'd recommend this at full price, it's vastly superior to Black Bird and contains a challenge mode for those not content with reaching the credits.  Plus the scoring system is quite in depth and online leaderboards are included.  It's also one of those shmups that feels tricky as your progress - although the lives system does make it a tad easy - but revisiting earlier stages with extra nous will see you decimate the waves for A and S ranks.  As it should be. [8]

    97. Mantis Burn Racing - Switch (5hrs) 

    Was sifting through my indies last night, redownloaded this on a whim.  Turns out I didn't have far to go on my third rookie season, and there's absolutely no way I'm playing it for a further 15hrs+ to get through the Pro, Veteran & Elite seasons.  It's easy to moan about rubberbanding when it's overly pronounced in games like Hotshots, but when there doesn't appear to be any the flipside can be frustrating after a poor start too.  That's not to say I didn't like this (@stellavista), because the handling, drifting and racing is good, but getting through further difficulty levels would be far too much repetition for me.  The events go on for ages and even though there's an attempt to add variety with time trials, endurance races and whathaveyou, it's pretty samey throughout.  'A poor man's Motorstorm RC' would be a needlessly mean yet accurate enough assessment.  It's decent though; it runs well, looks good and has plenty of multiplayer options (including cross-platform online play and split screen), but it's all just stretched out way too thinly over the single player mode, plus it takes a while to tune your cars to the point where you could call them nippy.  I bet it's a cracking time trialer, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to offer the endless Motorstorm lap attempts.  A strong [6], I expect there's a lot of value here for some.  

    98. Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge - Special Edition - Xbox One (4hrs) 

    The remaster was the first time I got to play Monkey Island 2 properly.  I used the hint system liberally on release (and again this weekend), so I definitely don't know it inside out like the first game.  It's tough to judge the puzzles in these things this way, because if you haven't sat there and smashed your head against a brick wall for hours many solutions can appear incredibly obtuse.  Spoilers ahead mateys: I'm not sure I would've known to look for books on voodoo or shipwrecks in the filing cabinet without hints, I almost certainly wouldn't have thought to pick up the dog unless I'd exhausted every other possible combination of everything everywhere, and the goddamn monkey wrench bit [sizeable yeesh meme].  Plus probably a few more.  I don't remember such Discworldy bits in the first game, but perhaps that's because I was far more tenacious as a kid.  Anyway, this is clearly a brilliant sequel on the whole.  The excellent island trifecta in act two really opens things up compared to the first game (which probably assisted with the feeling of being slightly overwhelmed), and it's easy to see why this is considered on par with or superior to the original.  It lacks a section as outright brilliant as the insult swordfighting, but the script is probably sharper on the whole.  "Natty dreads", lol.  The remaster sticks with the 'orrible style of the first SE, but it just about suits this one; it's less of an affront to the eyes for sure, and as usual the voicework is fun.  Special mention for the ending too, quality stuff.   A slightly mean [8] overall then, I expect it'd be higher if I'd played this at the time but I jumped from the first game on my mate's Amiga (sleepovers until it was done) to the underrated third game on my sister's Mac.

    99. Blaster Master Zero 2 - Switch (7hrs 44mins) I've been tempted with the series for close to three decades. always liked the look of the Megadrive sequel in mags.  The first Switch game was a retro do-over of the NES original I think, but the sequel is all-new afaik (in the old style).  It received more praise at review stage anyway, so I started there in last week's sale.  Long story short (*too late for that!*): this is superb.  It's split between three gameplay styles, which I believe was the case in the original game too, impressively.  It's mostly side scrolling tank shooter, partly top down shooter and occasionally a (rather shit) on-foot platform shmup where you're character is about as hardy as a tiny Soft Boiled Sam.  I'm not sure if the planet hopping system is a series staple or if it was added for this one, but the mini Mass Effect charting the final frontier thing is really well done.  As you progress you'll gradually pick up plenty of extra weapons, which lends the whole thing more than a touch of the Megamans (certain weapons more effective against certain bosses: check), plus a few extra moves that make your character more maneuverable.  The bosses are great, the checkpoints are well placed - yet far enough apart to at least attempt to be in keeping with the retro feel - and the whole thing just feels really tightly designed.  A few bells and whistles aside on the whole the visuals are somewhere between a stunning NES game and an early Megadrive game and, while not consistently top drawer, some of the tunes are excellent.  Coupled with the cut scenes and the crap dialogue this really feels like a ton of effort went in to making it feel just right as a modern retro game, a sweet spot that can be quite hard to hit.  I had some gripes - ladder jumping is poor, the not-always-desired wall jump resulted in a few deaths in certain situations and I was never completely sold on the special bar not recharging itself until fully depleted - but overall this was a very welcome surprise.  I doubt I'll play the remake but you never know, this was legit. [8] 

    100. The Last Campfire - Xbox One - 4hrs 

    I'm a hundo hunter at last!  Nice little adventure puzzle game unfortunately marred by a wildly inconsistent difficulty level and numerous performance issues.  The biggest head scratcher for me was how well designed certain puzzles were in comparison to the more straightforward sections.  Even a few of the late game screens required no thought, so lever pulling or block moving just seemed to slow progression with treacle rather than smarts.  Case in point - Tilly fired through the last couple of puzzle rooms herself, and I couldn't really spot where she could've gone wrong.  Some of the puzzles were satisfying brain busters though, which made the package feel odd to me.  On the flipside, the near-random trickiness slider works in its favour if you're willing to appreciate the open ended layout.  It's not a mean game - the progression gating is fairly laid back (you can move on after finding just over half the sprits in each area), and the decision to push on doesn't come back to haunt you either.  The tougher puzzles can be ignored if you wish, so I guess the player led difficulty range could be a plus point for some.  As a result of this I expect there's a good ending to be had for the average Joe hundo hunters, but Tilly and I only found a handful of optional spirits.  At times I got a strong Rime feeling (the opening act of Rime anyway) to the way the exploration is unrestricted by a definite order.  It's a nicely designed world and poking around in it felt refreshingly free of restraint at times.   With regards to the performance issues, it's another game that I don't believe should've been released in the state it's currently in.  I got stuck in scenery a good handful of times, load times are poor and the framerate chugs and stutters every time you activate a puzzle.  Bone X owners may have had a better time of it, but indie games shouldn't push the no frills machines surely.    There's a lot to like, which probably doesn't come across here but I'm still trying to shake off a terrible hangover.  I don't think I was as keen as @yourfavouriteuncle anyway, even if I'd typed this in a better mood.  Voicework is perfect and the overall style is a delight.  It's quite cheap too, so post-patch I think this might settle on a [7], but as it stands it's a miserly high [6] from me. 

    101. Touhou Luna Nights - Xbox One (3-4hrs) 

    Saw this pop up on Game Pass recently and earmarked it for a go.  Character movement and attacks felt good, so I pushed on past the 'maybe I'll come back to that later' zone and three hours later I was still going.  It's a really solid Metroidvania clearly indebted to Symphony of the Night, but coming from someone who played both for the first time this year I can opine without rosetints: it's actually a smidge better than SotN for a non-hundo playthrough.  Yep, one of the greats is actually comparable to a no-mark indie release buried in the deluge.  That's not a dig at Castlevania - it's still a good game by modern standards and would've undoubtedly been fantastic at the time - but the indie scene these days is just chef's kiss divine.  Indies, I fucking love 'em.   Straight off the bat this introduces an interesting mechanic - Grazing - which grants a minor health/magic recharge for narrowly avoiding contact with an enemy.  As save stations (telephone boxes here) can be quite spaced out, the ability to regain or farm health with an element of risk works very well.  You can slow time, you can freeze time, and you'll acquire a few secondary weapons if you keep an eye out for hidden rooms.  Standard attacks and sub-weapons drain magic, freezing time drains your clock, and attacks during frozen time feed on the clock rather than the magic bar.  It's all pretty simple once you get going, and it's all well implemented.  It's not an envelope pushing Metroidvania (this wouldn't be out of place as a late Saturn game), but it's well crafted, very playable and mercifully devoid of the I'M STUCK moments I tend to hate it map based/ability gated games. Having multiple sub-weapons and tonics selected by the bumpers was fiddly as you can only access one item at a time, but it's possible I missed a quick select wheel.  Some of the music was a bit weedy too, despite the name of the tracks appearing at the bottom of the screen to suggest it's noteworthy.  Plus it's a bit short, I can't see more than 7-8hrs on offer for anyone looking to mop up every last thing.   Overall if you think you could enjoy a blue-haired girl witches anime style homage to Symphony of the Night without getting the weeboohoos at the cheek of it all I think you'd find a quality 2D action title here.  One more thing: it looks superb too.  [8]

    102. Serial Cleaner - Switch - 5hrs 

    Winston Wolf: The Early Years simulator.  If Hotline Miami is a room clearance type, this is a room cleaner; picture a top down stealth room service game set in the 1970s and you're most of the way there,  The visual style is good, the 70s vibe is nicely done and some of the early music in particular is strong.  It's also quite addictive, but God knows why as only a smattering of its systems actually work well in practice.  My biggest problem with it were the unpredictable guard routes and the fact that it was regularly inconsistent with its own rules - who doesn't love being spotted when you're outside a cone of sight? - exacerbated by the fact that failure results in a full stage restart, even if you've spent 7 minutes sneaking around.  Hideous practice in this day and age, one checkpoint per stage would have helped sidestep much of the screen flobbing rage.  The layouts are randomised to an extent too, or at least item/body placement is, so if you're expecting practice to make perfect that's a lolnope too.     I've played worse.  It's better than Spy Chameleon, for example, plus it's well suited for handheld play, but this is average Vita gen fluff and indies have moved on.  [4], because with an extra two months in the oven it could've been a [7] and I hate missed opportunities more than bang average games.  A good idea infuriatingly bodged during the development process. Very good review here: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/07/19/serial-cleaner-review/ 

    103. Revenge of Shinobi - Megadrive (1hr) 

    Infinite shuriken save stage run, still loved it though.  Probably one of the first absolutely monstrous arcade-in-your-living-room 16-bit games, this was immeasurably superior to the Master System port of the arcade original.  Great controls, plenty of enemy types, one of the best chip soundtracks of all time and top quality stage design add up a game that arguably wasn't even surpassed by the more advanced Shinobi III.  Absolute peak on the cusp on 90s gaming, a huge step up.  94%

    104. Shinobi - Master System (45mins) 

    It's not a resplendent port by any means but this was absolutely legit as a home title.  I distinctly remember this being one of the reasons why I chose a Master System ahead of a NES.  A school mate had both, and I was nearly swayed by Kung Fu Master, but this and Miracle World helped me sidestep a HeChosePoorly.gif.  The bonus stages - a big wow at the time - are brutally harsh and the magic is a damp squib at best, but the core mechanics are sound.  Yes, later stages are on the fuck off side of dastardly, and I still don't quite get the technique for the hellish third boss (or why the fourth boss is such a cinch), but overall this is a decent 8-bit game.  82%

    105. Inertial Drift - Xbox One (4hrs) 

    This can go in because I'm done with it, at least for now.  I've reached the credits with two characters in the story mode and had a mess around with the arcade mode/challenges.  I wanted to love it, but I think I've settled on 'quite liked it' with a pang of regret for spending the full £16.99 on it instead of Bloodroots, Knights & Bikes or something else on my wishlist.   It's a twin stick racer, which sounds like peak bunkum but genuinely isn't.  The idea and practical execution isn't far off game changer territory, I just wish the game built around the controls felt like less of an afterthought.  The left stick steers your car like a tank, but the right stick is used to flick the back end out into a drift.  Combine the two and off you go.  After mere minutes it all feels legit and you'll be careering around corners wondering why on earth no-one has done this before.  It's Motorhead, Auto Modellista, Outrun 2 and Rage Racer with the tight Mario Kart 8 skid control chucked in, and it should be glorious.  It's such a shame that the track design feels so rote rather than playgrounds designed within an inch of their life a la Sega Rally.  In a way it's testament to the controls, as they're so good they still shine on the mostly lacklustre tracks, but this deserved to be a much better game.  Actually, now that I've mentioned Sega Rally - picture the Lakeside track in that.  It's not a classic is it?  Certainly not compared to the sumptuous main tracks.  Later stages in this feel like procedurally generated Lakesides with tastier skids, but without an announcer telling you which turns are coming.  Or a map.  So just winding roads and intermittent harsh corners, often hard to see because of the aforementioned moody setting (alleviated by learning the track of course, but still annoying).    The cars are markedly different to control, which is a nice touch, but by the third one I found myself unwilling to learn the new nuances.  Difficulty seems set to random - some events are a piece of piss first time, others (*cough* Corey) suddenly feel like they're asking you to be the zen master of wheels.  Then it's back down to no sweat territory for the next event, spitting out a platinum medal for throwing the back end around corners a bit in a style race.  The restart option on the pause menu seems to only be offered at random, meaning that quitting and restarting an event from the menus is often the only way to have another bash.  More moaning: It's in desperate need of some brightness.  Yeah, it's got a moody streetlights and foglights thing going on, but blue skies wouldn't have hurt for at least one setting.   I've done far too much moaning for a game that's fundamentally very good, but after the initial giddy rush of 'oh shit this really works!', the more I played of it the more the tasks felt like a a succession of chores.  Reads like a [6] but it's actually a [7].  Deserved to be an [8] though.
  • Full reviews list:
    1. Skyblazer (SNES) - 7/10
    2. Super Tennis (SNES) - 8/10
    3. Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles (PS3) - 5/10
    4. Mafia III (PS4) - 7/10
    5. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES) - 9/10
    6. Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (SNES) - 5/10
    7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch) - 8/10
    8. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch) - 7/10
    9. Sparkster (SNES) - 8/10
    10. Sparkster (MD) - 8/10
    11. Resident Evil 2 (PS4) - 10/10
    12. Shinobi (Arcade) - 7/10
    13. DOOM VFR (PS4) - 7/10
    14. R-type II (Arcade) - 5/10
    15. Super Buster Bros. (Arcade) - 9/10
    16. Super Buster Bros. (SNES) - 8/10
    17. Street Fighter: The Movie (PS) - 6/10
    18. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (PS4) - 8/10
    19. Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Arcade) - 10/10
    20. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch) - 8/10
    21. Tecmo Bowl (NES) - 8/10
    22. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) - 8/10
    23. Another World (Switch) - 5/10
    24. Virtua Racing (Switch) - 7/10
    25. Punch-Out!! (Arcade) - 5/10
    26. Volgarr the Viking (Switch) - 8/10
    27. Super Bomberman R (Switch) - 8/10
    28. Tetris Attack (SNES) - 9/10
    29. Cybernator/Assault Suits Valken (SNES) - 8/10
    30. Pop'n TwinBee (SNES) - 7/10
    31. The Last Guardian (PS4) - 6/10
    32. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSP) - 8/10
    33. Cruis'n USA (N64) - 3/10
    34. Castlevania Judgment (Wii) - 3/10
    35. Streets of Rage II (MD) - 9/10
    36. New Ghostbusters II (NES) - 6/10
    37. Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Switch) - 7/10
    38. Top Gear Overdrive (N64) - 5/10
    39. Cruis'n World (N64) - 3/10
    40. Cruis'n Exotica (N64) - 3/10
    41. NES Remix 2 (Wii U) - 8/10
    42. Captain Commando (Arcade) - 5/10
    43. Knights of the Round (Arcade) - 5/10
    44. Warriors of Fate (Arcade) - 5/10
    45. Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja (Arcade) - 3/10
    46. Wave Race 64 (N64) - 10/10
    47. Two Crude (Arcade) - 3/10
    48. Shadow Dancer (MD) - 8/10
    49. Splatterhouse (PC Engine) - 7/10
    50. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES) - 6/10
    51. Final Fight (Arcade) - 9/10
    52. Final Fight 2 (SNES) - 8/10
    53. Final Fight 3 (SNES) - 8/10
    54. Super Mario Bros. (NES) - 10/10
    55. Strikers 1945 (Arcade) - 6/10
    56. Panzer Dragoon (Switch) - 6/10
    57. Star Wars Episode I Racer (N64) - 7/10
    58. Bonk's Adventure (PC Engine) - 5/10
    59. NBA Playgrounds 2 (Switch) - 9/10
    60. Dr. Mario (NES) - 9/10
    61. Cluedo (Switch) - 7/10

    61 games completed for the year.

    Average rating: 6.8
    Total time played: 234hrs 33mins
    Average time per game: 3hrs 51mins

    Average rating by format:
    1. NES - 8.3
    2. MD - 8
    3. PSP - 8
    4. Wii U - 8
    5. PS4 - 7.7
    6. SNES - 7.4
    7. Switch - 7.3
    8. PC Engine - 6
    9. PS - 6
    10. Arcade - 5.9
    11. N64 - 5.2
    12. PS3 - 5
    13. Wii - 3

    Games played by format:
    1. SNES - 12
    1. Arcade - 12
    3. Switch - 11
    4. N64 - 6
    4. PS4 - 6
    6. NES - 4
    7. MD - 3
    8. PC Engine - 2
    9. PS - 1
    9. PS3 - 1
    9. PSP - 1
    9. Wii - 1
    9. Wii U - 1

    Format by time played:
    1. PS4 - 80hrs
    2. Switch - 39hrs 30mins
    3. SNES - 36hrs 9mins
    4. N64 - 15hrs
    5. Arcade - 13hrs 15mins
    6. PSP - 12hrs 30mins
    7. Wii U - 11hrs 30mins
    8. PS3 - 9hrs
    9. NES - 7hrs 54mins
    10. MD - 4hrs 45mins
    11. PC Engine - 3hrs 15mins
    12. Wii - 1hr
    13. PS - 45mins
    オレノナハ エラー ダ
  • hylian_elf wrote:
    Vere, can you add ‘19-12’ to me in your OP?

    I’m hoping for much more this year. Hoping.

    Of course!! Will keep updating it just wanted to get it started!
  • Completed it mate

    1. Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)- I've been at this for over a year, but finially finished the World Tour. It's apparantly inspired by Top Gear, a game I gave never heard of so for me it was Legally Distinct From Outrun. There are a few tracks I'd probably have cut, but overally its a really strong Outrun clone, updated for the modern era. It was on Plus, so if you have a PS4 you probably have this, so give it a go.

    2. Knack (PS4) -  So I don't get why this game got so much grief. It's fine. 7 years on it's a bit difficult to distinguish what is now outdated design, and what was outdated at the time, but seriously, it's absolutely fine. And long! As a launch game I was expecting this to be quite short, but this is really quite long, and is designed to let you replay it. If I'd have picked up a PS4 with this at launch I certainly wouldn't have been feeling short changed.
  • Holdplacer, because will absolutely be needed
  • Completed

    1. Control [8]
    30 Dec-11 Jan

    This is an excellent and original AAA action adventure game with some minor issues that just bring the overall experience down a touch. I loved the location and the way the scenario allows for all kinds of reality bending events. The combat is also great fun for the most part, especially once you've unlocked a number of skills, with a great fluidity between the different moves. It encourages you to get in amongst the action, rather than hiding behind cover, and reeling in a hefty piece of scenery then chucking it back at an enemy never gets old.

    But still there are too many regular battles with enemy designs that could've been more interesting. The middle of the game certainly started to feel a little padded out. It's also annoying how quickly battles can go wrong when you've been doing well, as you're suddenly caught unawares by a projectile or fall off the edge of something while charging about the place. The health recovery system is a nice idea but sometimes just isn't convenient, and the checkpointing system is a bit weird, adding to the frustration. Other than that, special mention to the map for being next to useless half the time. And although performance on my base PS4 mostly wasn't too bad, the loading times became an issue.

    And yet, there's so much clever stuff to find and do, so many neat little touches or amusing characters, none of that can really spoil it. In the end, the main story is almost merely a way of introducing all the areas and powers and getting you used to how the place works. What I enjoyed most was doing all the side missions, many of which are better left till after the credits have rolled. It's here that things get more imaginative, and there are some proper bosses to take down, which were genuniely interesting and solid challenges. It's a brave game that hides so many of its best ideas, but it works in terms of gradually unravelling all the mysteries of the place. I was happy to just keep investigating and uncovering new stuff, to the point I ended up exhausting it all and getting the platinum trophy (rare for me these days).

    After all that, I think I'd really appreciate a sequel. Perhaps one that involved travelling around different places investigating reports of strange activity. There's certainly plenty of potential in the fiction to explore, and with a few tweaks to the systems the results could be very special.

    In progress

    Death Stranding

    Didn't finish

    River City Girls

    To Play

  • My previous years are 17-54, 18-30, 19-41.
  • I'm in too. Last year I managed a 19-26, which is probably about my limit.

    I realised I had two extra in the bag that weren't in my list as i played through the first two Room games while over in Tenerife with a sick wife.
  • Placeholder as I have such a huge backlog and keep playing games as a service like battlefield v.
  • 106. Shadow Dancer - Megadrive (40mins) 

    Smashed through this with save states.  It's quite simplistic, and the one hit kills yet infinite bumping-into-things doesn't system still strikes me as odd.  I borrowed this a couple of times and remember it being tough but doable.  There's nothing remarkable to anything on offer really, but it's a solid ninja platformer and easily one of the better MD games available in 1990.  The magic is probably better implemented than in Shinobi and possibly Revenge, it's quite useful for certain points of each level and replenishes between stages.  The dog sic is quite handy too, rather than just being a redundant gimmick.  Overall good but not great - it would have dated fairly quickly but it's one of those games where the simplicity still manages to make it shine.  Loses ninja side scroller kudos points for the music being genuinely poor.  81%

    107. Gravity Rider Zero - Switch (4hrs) 

    Surprisingly solid and fairly polished Trials lite with anti-grav shenanigans.  It's no Trials and it's no FutureGrind, but I preferred it to Urban Trials Freestyle as a two wheels vs the obstacle course thing.  This might be the sort of thing people play on mobiles - in fact it's possible it was a mobile game - but it's decent enough to dip in and out of for short handheld gaming bursts.  It took me close to six months to chip away at the 33 (3 part) stages, chiefly because they're a bit samey over long sessions.  Visual style is surprisingly good for a budget game.  A few gaudy sections aside it's a neat looking flat shaded effort that performs far better than Bit.Trip.Runner3, which is far more well known and attempts a similar look.  It's only a [6] if I've got my mean hat on, but it was only 99p and kept me occupied. 

    108. Bridge Strike - Switch (2hrs) 

    Satisfying River Raid clone that doesn't aim to do too much more than tidy up its inspiration.  That's what I wanted when I took a punt based on screenshots (£2.20 in the current sale), so it didn't disappoint.  It's deliberately basic and I enjoyed the 40 level campaign.  The various mission types aren't particularly well balanced (the 'don't lose machine' stages were tough, whereas I don't think I failed a coin grab stage) but it's all good fun and practice will see you through.  You've got to keep an eye on your fuel gauge but there are more than enough tankers dotted around the stages to refuel without too many narrow escapes, unless you accidentally blow them up.  Fans of Spy Hunter or Action Fighter might fancy a look.  Another budget win for me.  [7]   

    109. The Cyber Shinobi - Master System (40 mins) 

    Disastrous 8-bit sequel that appears to be a legit follow up - it's Sega developed and clearly says Shinobi 2 on the title screen.  So unfortunately this doesn't seem to be a US Gold Strider 2 nerr-nerr doesn't count kind of thing as I can't see a loophole not to allow it as part of the series.  Large oof.   It's not the worst 8-bit game I've played by a long shot, but it's definitely in the bottom half.  Which means it's bad, and not in the 1990 way.  It's been turned into a ropey scrolling beat 'em up rather than what was effectively a walk & gun game with the shuriken/projectile focus of the first.  I would've played this as a kid but only because I'd only recently made the jump from LCD games at the time of release.  It's awful on the whole, and certain sections require trial and error.  The controls aren't particularly responsive so falling platforms can pose a problem even if you know they're coming.  And just created a save state.  58% in 1990, squashed down to a 36% with 2020 hindsight.  Poor music for the most part too. At least this Joe Musashi isn't the OG Joe Musashi, it's his grandson.  MS Shadow Dancer was rough but from memory it was a lot better than this.

    110. Boxboy + Boxgirl - Switch (6hrs) 

    This is a great series, I played at least one on 3DS (I should remember if I played two tbh, but :shrug:). Guide your character(s) to the goal with the use of a finite number of blocks - set per stage - which must be dropped on switches, placed to reach higher platforms, carried to shield you from lasers and so on. They're slow paced puzzlers that err on the gentle side of brain tickling, but the mixture of abilities coupled with well designed stages keep things ticking along nicely. This one has a separate two player quest, which I've been playing with Tilly on and off since launch. It's one for short bursts if you're playing with a youngster though, in my experience you get three stages of plain sailing before the trollface sets in and deliberately causing deaths/blocking pathways becomes irresistible. Nnnnggg. We got through it in the end though, mainly thanks to a big push towards the end of the game. As mentioned the puzzles are very doable and the costume rewards helped. One of Nintendo's best new IPs for years - developed by HAL Laboratories too, so it has pedigree. It's also nice and cheap. 8

    111. Return of the Obra Dinn - Switch (12hrs 14 mins) 

    Mightily impressive interactive insurance investigation that requires the player to poke around a returning Mary Celeste ghost ship uncovering a series of snapshots in time and piecing together the identity and fate of each missing crew member/passenger. Given that the were 60 people on board and the game staunchly refuses to give you much of a leg up in the opening few hours, this is no small task. Grab a deerstalker, prepare to not rule out the improbable and don't expect a Watson to hold your hand while dishing out elementary school hints - you're on your own, and some of the sleuthing runs far deeper than I was expecting. You'll need to put a face to a name and commit to a particular full stop on each character's involvement in the events to unravel the mystery completely. Three correct answers rewards you with a glorious jingle and locks characters into their solutions, thus removing them from your metaphorical bag of jigsaw pieces. Memories can be viewed by clicking your handy pocket deathwatch at a corpse, which is a glorious conceit despite how silly it sounds on paper. In terms of assistance your only ally is the book you board the vessel with, which is gradually fleshed out and revealed surprises as I progressed. If I had one tip above all others for new players it'd be this: learn the intricacies of the book. It's a game best played with as little prior knowledge as possible so I'll stop there. Almost halfway up the rigging between [8] and [9]. Special mention for the soundtrack too, it's used sparingly and some of the motifs are outstanding. Edit: It must be something special because I finished what was left of two bottles of rum I was saving for 'a special occasion' while playing, and don't regret it.

    112. Horace - Switch (11hrs 52 mins) 

    Retro home computer inspired platformer that does everything right bar the platforming.  Unfortunately, considering there's a hell of a lot of platforming it does quite a lot wrong.  The truly exquisite cut scenes attempt to pull the wool over your eyes throughout the overlong quest - and they're so good you'll want to let them - but the core mechanics remind me of something you'd find on a randomly selected Amiga demo disk, stretched out over a potentially 20hr campaign.  In terms of character weight, inertia, room design and actual platform hopping it feels like James Pond trying to be Meat Boy, which is a frankly disastrous mix - the controls are too loose for an insta restart screen o' death type, and pretty much all the rooms in this are full o' death.  I'm a huge fan of modern games that take a retro template and tweak/refine rather than completely overhaul (Megaman 11, Monster Boy) but the basics for Horace could barely sustain a focused 4hr quest, let alone the sprawling collect 'em up epic I've been brute forcing myself through for the past week.  The main hook to the movement is the ability to walk on walls, rotating the screen and flipping gravity accordingly.  It's fine for a while, but by 'a while' I mean two or three hours.  Unfortunately it doesn't offer a lot else, so that's what you'll be doing for most of the game.  Nothing seems designed with any sort of care (outside the meticulous story sections and top drawer lookalike characters) to the point where half the rooms felt like proc gen offcuts to me.   The first couple of bosses are okay, but there's only so much okay I can take in a game like this.  Plus, some of the late game guardians are an absolute joke.  Worst final boss ever?  Possibly, and I didn't even lose a life, it was just full capslock shite even without having to swallow sour grapes.  I'll leave it there with the negatives (and I haven't even mentioned the broken shield system) but there's more than a touch of WTAF from me when it comes to the relentless plaudits this game has received since launch.  There are a handful of sections in this that are worse than the cataclysmically bad section that nearly ruined Battletoads for me.  Just quickly then - what have the following got in common: Slime-San, Light Fall, 10 Second Ninja X, Escape Doodland.  Give up?  They're all deep dive flotsam indie platformers I've played that have superior core jumpmans gameplay to Horace.  Slime-San is actually miles better and I rather harshly gave that a [5](!) On to the good stuff then.  The deft touch ultra specific era-snapshot British nostalgia thing is wonderful.  Insert face value YourReferencesAreOutOfControl.gif, and we're not just talking 'ahaha I member that!' - some of the cut scene gags and exchanges are truly superb.  I guess I didn't beat around the bush in my opening paragraph as I straight up hated the gameplay, but the fact that I'm still glad I played it is testament to how fine the story sections are.  I've never played a platformer for the story and I hope to never do so again, but this serves up a good one.  Pelt the Wrong'un is ultimate form Heimdall minigame and I applaud the hustle.  I enjoyed the dishwashing minigame and the sports arcade cab was legit.  Would happily buy the devs a stout or two and probably try to avoid talking too much about Horace.  Maybe we could have a chat about Button Moon, Bertha and Mr. Ben instead.     So that's that then.  A terrible platform game punctuated by possibly the best non interactive segments the medium has ever offered. [5]

    113. Bloodroots - Switch (4-5hrs) Mostly enjoyable room/area clearance game that l'll describe as 'arcadelike' because I tend to cling on to outdated terminology. Kill everyone in your path using an assortment of weapons strewn around the area. One hit kills (almost) all, including yourself. It's a rambunctious Hotline Miami type with far looser controls and more scope for staying alive on your wits/reactions rather than well laid plans. You'll plot routes, sure, but it seems easier to tear up your blueprints and change tact completely than in some other games of this type. For the first half the breezy controls work very well, but once things started to get trickier I found myself pining for more precision. It's a balancing act that hasn't quite worked, but the good outweighs the bad; it's mostly fun even when it's threatening to be annoying, and the looseness is part of the charm. Unfortunately there are numerous performance issues on Switch, certainly undocked, which result in sound drops, character invisibility, framerate craziness, full freezes and many other things that should've been patched by now. It's playable when it works, but overall it would have benefitted from a lot more polish. Much as I enjoyed it I'd recommend one of the big brother versions instead. It's the right length and probably the correct level of annoying in hindsight, but I can't forgive the final boss, which is definitely my least favourite in living memory. Apart from Horace. Any attack that rains down from above is a misstep here - a certain enemy in the main stages will be everyone's least favourite I suspect - but the way the final guardian's arrows drop onto you during its second form is frankly ridiculous (especially as you're moving in for a third hit and they start peppering the screen faster than you can move). Plus the whole game locks up with a red screen of death if you die on that section too many times. [6] for the Switch version, [7] on consoles (I presume), but there was an [8] in here somewhere. Would play a sequel, cheers for the heads up @JonB.

    114. Wheels of Aurelia - Switch (45 mins) I didn't listen then, either to the reviews or feedback from one or two on here.  It's such a curious concept I've always fancied trying it despite the general consensus, and 89p seemed like a now or never price.  An interactive road trip with dialogue trees and minimal gameplay 'set in the boring Italian 70s'.  Wait, roaring - I misread it, ahaha.  If shocking dialogue (I'm not sure what it's comparable to....a game of consequences played by a group of year 9 drama students, perhaps), appalling caricatures and Weighty Moral Dilemmas are your thing I'd wager you still wouldn't like it.  I've seen two of sixteen endings and one was more than enough.  Amusing for the wrong reasons and only worth a look to see how deluded the developers were.  I'm a fan of a few of these narrative indie efforts but when they fail this spectacularly it's about as bad as gaming gets [2].  Forget Surly Women in a Car and play Burly Men at Sea instead.    

    115. Never Give Up - Switch (3hrs 52mins) 

    And I never did, so I'm not sure what the punishment is if you do.  I expect I would've binned it if you couldn't mute the main character's incessant quips though, wowsers.  Someone honestly thought it would be a good idea to chuck one-liners in for every death (example: "I am the weakest link, goodbyeeeeeeeee" (honestly), or "NO DISASSEMBLE", to quote a forum favourite). Whichever way you slice it it's a spectacular mistake for a relentlessly brutal platformer.  It's a Meat Boy clone with quite good controls and a neat hook to the levels - each set presents progressively harder iterations of the first area, with four sets per zone and a boss.  The whole 'press & hold L&R to give up if you die enough times' thing seems like a bit of silliness to me, surely no-one who plays the masocore platformers would accept even temporary defeat other than banging the power off in a strop.  Easy for me to say though, as I played it on easy.  'Easy' being 'extremely fucking difficult but with checkpoints throughout the stage'.  Huge nope for playing something like this without the checkpoints, it just sounds like torture.  I wouldn't have the skill or inclination to see it through and the 4hr runtime would've easily turned into 10-15 I'd imagine. Still, the insane challenge is there if you want it I guess, and there are far worse alternatives out there.   As mentioned it's a Meat Boy clone, even down to the blood splatter residue sticking to the spinning saws, but side by side it's a pale imitation.  That's not to say it's not a very enjoyable game for the most part (*if you like this sort of thing*), but it never really threatens to get within a yard of SMB's coattails.  The main character can't run, so he builds up speed as he goes along, plus and he has a slide move, which makes it feel slightly Bit.Trip in places.  It's fine - some dodgy wall jumping aside - but Meat Boy is pretty much perfect, so if you're coming at the king you've got to do it better than this.  This definitely descends into pattern repetition territory far more often than SMB.  There are sections where tap, taptaptap, taptap, tap, tap, is the precise autopilot button sequence required for success (if you catch my drift), whereas I always felt like I was in control of Meat Boy rather than Simon Says'ing my way through an exact set of motions.   The bosses are better than Meat Boy, perhaps, but one in particular is very annoying.  It doesn't always feel silky smooth undocked either, which is the only way I played it so I can't comment on TV performance.  All things considered though, this is actually pretty good.  It scrapes a [7] but it's a Moot/Muzzy thing for sure. 

    116. Ultimate Ski Jump 2020 - Switch (30 mins) 

    What do you get if you build an entire game around one event from a substandard Olympics game that might've existed circa 1992?  That's right, this shower of shit.  I've got no idea why I've sort of fancied this for ages - probably because I like Olympics games and I was intrigued how a single event game could sell for £8.99 - but after foolishly eyeing it up a few times on the EShop I finally bit the bullet this evening for 89p.  I have no words really, it's probably the worst game I've ever played, including games I've deliberately played for their infamous rubbishness on retro days with @retroking1981.  It's truly deeply genuinely atrocious and I urge everyone to try it - it's worth it for the pre-event text alone (literally stuff like 'you feel bad today because you are unwell.  This event will be hard as you are ill and ate paprika chicken.  Try to finish 10th').  I've finished the campaign and I don't really know how it works.  The difference between classic and realistic controls seems to be minimal and I haven't the foggiest why you'd ever lean forward as leaning backwards always makes you go further.  Just a coincidence mere days after wariospeedwagon asked me about the worst thing I've played in these threads, but here it is. [0], considering it costs almost as much as Hollow Knight pre discount.  That's a genuine score too, please try.  This would've bounced off the mustard in 1985. I had to immediately treat myself to Blasphemous in an attempt to cheer up. 

    117. Blasphemous - Switch (12hrs 31mins, 73.5%) It's frankly ridiculous how much I've smashed this since Tuesday, looking at the hours played I'm not quite sure how I managed it.  The fact that I attacked it with the same zeal as I did Hollow Knight (probably the last game that I became this obsessed with) should speak volumes - this was a very special experience, and one that will definitely take residence in the top half of my Cinty 100 list if I ever update it.  There's a chance the sizable patch had a lot to do with my enjoyment here - the aftercare package seems strong, and includes a change to the feel of the jump, QoL fixes with timings/layouts, full Spanish language track, various control tweaks and more, leading up to these two whoppers: The penitent one will only climb a ledge if you press up, to prevent accidental climbing.  Damage while wall climbing now doesn't prevent further wall climbing.  Before it was only available after touching the ground again.   So to me, hanging from a ledge before picking my spot to nip up was intrinsic from the start, but it seems this is a recent addition (unless pressing any direction made the character haul himself up previously?).  Anyway, I thought the post-patch game I played was a breathtakingly good Souls/Metroidvania hybrid genuinely comparable to Hollow Knight while also feeling like an ultimate form Symphony of the Night with its mammoth kitbag of buffs.  The platforming won't be for everyone (Tempy used the word punitive, and while it fits as a criticism, punitive jumpmans can be very appealing and was here for me).  I had no qualms flagellating myself with the platforming as it never felt unreasonably hard, just adroitly mean.   The pixel art style and animation are stunning, real jaw-drop stuff.  Before this I thought Huntdown and Katana Zero were the poster children for the increasingly popular style, but this does so much so well it probably edges in front of both.  It's a beautifully grotesque game with artwork worthy of Etsy canvas prints.  Music is excellent in places too, and the sound design in general is nigh on perfect, be it the shrieks of stricken foes or delightfully creepy whispered incantations.   Aside from Hollow Knight this was my first 'Souls' experience (obviously the term has been attached to both loosely but I think I understand where it applies in each).  In 3D this would still be a nope for me as side scrollers tend to be my comfort zone as a rule.  If I die in a good platformer I hate myself, if I die in a good 3D game I still tend to hate the game (probably why I've allowed myself to select easy mode for a handful of titles in recent years).  I hated myself most of the way through this, and therefore loved the game.   I've gone a bit off track here and I was planning to sit down and attempt to do this game justice with a full review, deep diving on the various things that make it tick.  Bit tired though, probably because I've been staring at a screen for an obscene amount of time!  It's an awesome (old style awesome) quest that struck me as masterfully designed from start to finish and absolutely worth fine tooth combing for the hundo hunters.  I might even NG+ it for the integrated DLC, which would be another first for me. [9] 

    118. Knights & Bikes - Xbox One (6hrs) 

    Delightfully presented co-op adventure game that's unfortunately built around (or at least frequently punctuated by) a truly terrible combat system.  Everything to do with the characters and presentation is within reach of wonderful, but battling baddies, performing most actions and many of the puzzles themselves are poor.  As mentioned the combat is hideous, to the point where it feels like there's a delay on absolutely everything and the characters are trudging through frame dropping quicksand.  I struggled in co-op with my mostly on point gaming buddy, to the point where I can barely begin to imagine how awful it would be for a solo player to juggle two characters during these sections.   I'm not up for dwelling on this one, but there's more than a whiff of Horace to it. Partly because both were near the top of my wishlist for a long time, so they annoyed me more than rando average games might, but also because the non-game parts of both are excellent while the lifeblood of the experiences - the way they play! - flit between kind-of-alright and terrible.  Here moreso than Horace, in fact.  I had a good time with it because Tilly loved it, especially Captain Honkers/the bike customisation bits/the caravan park slide, and the Goonies horn quest noise is chef's kiss, but it's not a good game.  [5]

    119. The Falconeer - Xbox One (roughly 8hrs) 

    Beautiful but clumsy, sparse, confused, inconsistent and occasionally infuriating small scale open world dogfighting game that somehow manages to emerge from the ashes of the dumpster fire with some dignity intact.  I can't pinpoint why it's not a disaster, but as poor as it is in a multitude of different ways, it's bizarrely moreish too, hence me finishing it within a few days.  Spoiler alert: I'll be settling on a hard won [6] overall, but a lower mark would be far easier to justify.   When the game starts your warbird pretty much limps through the sky armed with a peashooter, and it takes too long to work out how to mitigate the strong feeling of weak sauce.  You'll gradually learn to cut through the shields put up by the muddled text, but non gibberish instructions and a proper tutorial would've been far preferable to the often mystifying UI.  Yes, it's frankly astonishing that this is mostly the work of a one man dev team - the hugely talented Tomas Sala - but he should've swallowed the humble pie and brought someone in with a better handle on this sort of thing.  I almost missed out on the game's most useful upgrade as its description erroneously mentions 'range' rather than 'rate' as its buff for collecting essential splinters, so I've got people moaning on Reddit to thank for even finishing the campaign.  I'll give a quick example of place/character names - the first area is called Dunkle, and one of the characters is called Captain Scummer.  Not exactly platinum tier, are they?  The story thinks it's Game of Thrones with its warring factions/double crossing house allegiances - to the point where one of the characters often repeats the line 'you know nothing!' - which is fine I guess, but the (un)finished article clearly isn't as epic as intended.  By the end of the game I have to admit I didn't have any inclination to pay attention other than keeping an ear out for the hilariously off the wall voice acting.  Back to the UI - the ammo system isn't adequately explained either, and the charms don't seem to work for proper missions (or perhaps they do, in which case the descriptions for those are poorly worded too).  Even things like the fish that you can swoop down to grab bring an element of confusion.  There's an item to 'increase effectiveness of fish', or something similar, but some sort of clue as to their usefulness in the first place wouldn't have gone amiss.  Plus there are various other minor niggles like not being able to see a weapon's stats until you've bought it.  It takes a lot of effort to push through the opening couple of hours, but it does start to reward perseverance by chapter two. As mentioned, I'm going for an above average score for the bottom line, but it's not reading that way is it?  I could probably do with Tom returning that stone to my glass house, he could proof read this while he's here.  Once you get to grips with how things work there's a pretty good dogfighting game here.  Panzer Dragoon meets Crimson Skies seems to be the touchpoint for many reviews, the latter of which passed me by.  Your falcon is pretty maneuverable, even with the initially nerfed stats, as are the majority of airborne opponents, which makes for some exhilarating cat & mouse skirmishes.  A few of the standard enemy types are more tenacious than expected, banking and spinning around you with a constant desire to attack.  There's much fun to be had when it all goes off, especially for a player prepped with a 'how to play Falconeer' cheat sheet (something I'd strongly suggest for anyone considering giving this a bash - bypassing the 'what the fuck is going on?' period completely would massively improve the game).   As also mentioned, it looks fantastic.  This has no business being an indie game, let alone a one man band offering.  The throat singing Mongolian chant style soundtrack is a perfect fit too.  There's no loading either, even when you fast travel (which seems to be randomly offered at the start of some missions just because) you pretty much jump cut to your destination.  It's hugely impressive, and it all runs at 1080p/60fps on a One S with occasional screen tearing pretty much the only blot on its copybook in terms of the overall aesthetic.       Okay, we started with the bad stuff, but now the good stuff is mostly out the way I should probably return to my giant post-it note scroll of grievances.  Bullet point montage is go: the collision detection is laughable, there are no checkpoints within the occasionally lengthy missions, bombing is ridiculously bad, the epilogue is either broken or a deliberate trollfaced cunt, the character swapping between chapters makes no sense (you retain weapons and currency, wot?), the ability to select from the four chapters at the start smacks of brainfart brainwave, it's not worth suffering on standard difficulty with easy being the only sensible option, treacle paced escort missions (I actually wrote this in caps), speed boost air pockets are so high up it takes just as long to slowly fly towards your destination, the miserly stamina bar is an unnecessary hinderance that definitely detracts from the enjoyment overall.  I could think of another five on the spot.        The whole thing just whiffs of 'due to be released in 6-8 months', which is a shame considering how enjoyable it is at its best.  Hopefully there's a sizeable patch planned, because there's a much better game here if it can brush the bogies out of its tail, unclip its wings or [to anyone who's bothered to read this far: insert something else].   Reads like a [6].  Not worth buying and probably not worth borrowing as of yet.  If it gets the patch it deserves the birds in the bush are potentially worth double the one in my hand.    

    120. Panzer Dragoon Remake - Switch (45mins) Massively overpriced reasonably spruced up remake of an early 32-bit fan favourite.  The new visuals transform the original game's impressive-for-their-time OMG tuxtre mopped polygans appearance into something resembling an early Xbox 360 game, which is....fine, I guess?  The same sumptuous music plays alongside the seven chapters and aside from slight tweaks to the damage taken and a framerate that mercifully ecshews the OG's 20fps or so, it's pretty much the same game that kicked off one of Sega's most impressive franchises, albeit with a lick of paint and not enough varnish.  If you know what this is in advance and that's not enough to deter you from a purchase you'll probably have fun with it, but I wonder what entirely fresh eyes would make of the whole thing.  It's okay, but it's a bit messy considering it's just an update of a 25yr old rails shooter.  Load times per stage sit at over a minute and the music isn't quite as in sync with the action as it should be in a few spots, which is a strange oversight as the stages are supposed to last precisely as long as their theme.  It's not a patch on Zwei or Orta as a shooter, I enjoyed it at the time (it came bundled with my £355 Saturn in early '96), but it was merely a solid start to what became a phenomenal series, meaning the creaky foundations make the remake feel like a bit of an oddity to say the least.

    121. Wulverblade - Switch (2hrs) 

    Second playthrough of this, My 2020 scrolling beat 'em up obsession shows no sign of subsiding.  I went for 'beast mode' this time, which was a reward for the first completion and basically simplifies the already simplistic gameplay by letting you control a massive heavy hitting damage sponge brute of a character.  It's not a patch on the main game - it effectively turns it into a more straightforward early 90s Capcom effort - but still plenty of fun.   *Checks notes* I gave this a [9] in 2019, and not much has changed since then...
    ...other than Streets of Rage 4 swaggering into town.  So maybe it's an [8] now, under the universal hard's only hard until harder turns up rule, but I still think it's fantastic.    

    122. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch, 90 mins) 

    Another run through, on easy this time.  I still don't have many complaints, and I think this is the fifth time I've finished it.  The potion dropping characters are annoying, the BadMax boss feels cheap and the music isn't quite all the way there (good as it is), but all things considered it's only just behind GotY for me.  A platinum tier faithful modern retro sequel and I still think it's a smidge better than SOR2.

    123. Carto - Xbox One (6hrs)

    Lovely little puzzle game that tries something genuinely different and succeeds on almost every level.  You control Carto, who has the ability to rearrange map pieces by sliding or rotating & knitting them together together as she searches for her granny.  I was expecting it to unravel as it went along - while hoping the initial promise could be sustained - but it kept adding fresh ideas and neat little puzzles right up to the end.  The central conceit is delightful and while it's not a brain buster by any means it requires some very well designed map manipulations in order to progress.  The characters are strong and the script is good, meaning the whole package is close to essential for anyone looking for a pipe & slippers puzzler.  [8] Footnote: There's a puzzle in the game that requires you to pull two switches then rotate a wheel (not a spoiler as you're following prompts at this point).  You're told to 'put your hands on the wheel', which instantly made me think of Hands on the Wheel by Willie Nelson, which is easily my most listened to track this year.  Somewhere in my mind I was furiously attempting to pretend it was a direct reference, but clearly it wasn't and I was massively reaching.  But a few hours later the credits rolled and....is that a chiptune approximation of Hands on the Wheel? Spoilers ahoy, obviously Big Willie style: Is this just me being weird?  I sent @nick_md a video of Harry Dean Stanton singing it yesterday, and probably went off on one about the song again.  ISN'T THIS ODD. 

    124. Huntdown - Switch (2hrs) 

    Forgot to add this the other day.  Another run through, on easy this time.  I've now finished on normal solo, normal co-op and scrub solo.  It's still plenty of fun even without any real resistance.  One of my favourite games of all time, deep as a puddle whichever way you slice it but perfect at what it does.  A patch has supposedly added spit & polish here and there, but the differences are minor to the untrained eye  Reminds me of thumbing 20ps into arcade cabinets at the seaside and designing extra characters for games that couldn't hold a candle to this one.  [9]

    125. FAR: Lone Sails - Switch (2hrs) 

    Succinct and well made journey game. Your task is to travel from starting point to destination in a huge, slow moving vehicle by juggling various systems to keep it trundling onwards. As a very loose comparison, it's part Inside and part Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time, albeit without the shmup aspect of the latter.  The vehicle has a baker's half dozen buttons, pulleys and functions, all of which you'll gradually work out as you progress.  Getting a bead on the systems is part of its charm, so I won't spoil things by explaining more, but needless to say there's not much scope for resting on your yanny's.   I haven't played anything quite like it and I enjoyed what it offered, although at 2hrs from title screen to credits a full price purchase would've had me seething.  I'd definitely recommend it at £6 though, it's bleak, interesting and rather beautiful, even on Switch. [8] 

    126. Gears Tactics - Xbox One (20hrs?) 

    A hulking beefcake of a tactics title with an impressive level of finesse to its core.  I'm not an expert on the genre and can't often explain why I latch on to certain games and not others, but (as I'm pretty sure I always say when I finish one in here) deep-but-not-too-deep seems to be my sweet spot.  Favourites include Shining Force 2, Mario Rabbids, Skulls of the Shogun, Ghost Recon Shadow Wars and the grand daddy of them all, Fire Emblem Awakening.  X-Com 2 should be one of my dream desert island games, alongside Trials, but I bounced off it after half a dozen hours unfortunately.  The game was excellent but I've got a low threshold for glitches, performance issues and load times in a genre I absolutely have to find annoying to enjoy anyway (that '84% hit chance and you fucking missed!' feeling is essential to the appeal).  It veered into too annoying territory though, and got binned sadly, thanks to the issues nearer launch on PS4, but I've been considering the Switch version as handheld play might be the key.  Anyway, I digress, as the Ledbetter used to say in every other review.  It turns out the whole Gears thing is a perfect fit for a grid tactics game.  I just typed out a load of guff about my time with the series but deleted it as it was dull - the Tl,dr is that I used to love it but grew indifferent to its shtick ages ago.  [Cole voice] But I'm back, baby! Compared to similar games one of the most noticeable things from the start is how solid everything is.  Not just the sausage fingered bipedal oil tankers you'll be heaving around the map, but the engine that powers the skirmishes - it's very impressive.  Load times are long on a One S, but that's a small price to pay for a) such nifty performance and b) what's basically a cross-gen game, given the timing of its console release.  In terms of tactics overwatch felt key, but enjoyably so.  Characters have differing attributes and skill trees that allow you to push certain skills that suit your play style.  It's all impressively deep yet not quite overwhelming, and there are a huge amount of valid ways to play.  I spent over 15 hours thinking scouts were the worst, but then I realised how useful they are with the correct skills (*cough* quick grenade cooldowns). Constantly opening weapon cases and assigning new mods between missions is a bit rote - again I found myself craving a Speedball 2 style 'auto-assign' option - but it's bearable.  Other missteps include a first boss difficulty spike and a final boss difficulty wall thicker than Sid Redburn's neck.  It was discussed further up the page, but damn.  For a game that encourages you to play your own way and fashion your own personal A-team of Super Army Soldiers it felt like an odd choice to deny you the option to select your party for the final stage, instead forcing you to use a crew the story locks in for you.  I felt naked without a heavy and it threw me right off.  The campaign is quite samey, despite a handful of different mission types, but that's not really a problem when going through the same motions is so moreish.  In fact, the constant loop is pretty much the appeal, but I'd expect more variety in a sequel.   These amount to minor gripes though, it's an excellent game and easily one of Microsoft's strongest exclusives for years.  Highly recommended.  Annoyingly I'm still wondering if I would've preferred it with Jack in tow. [8]

    127. Call of the Sea - Xbox One (6hrs) 

    Relentlessly tedious escape the room style walking sim.  I didn't click with the puzzle style at all - Virtue's Last Reward meets evil timeline Professor Layton - which means I'm probably going to be unreasonably harsh on it for the next couple of paragraphs, but I've got to tell my truth!  As a disclaimer of sorts though, it's not a bad game per se - some of the puzzles are intricate and I expect the processes required to coax out the solutions are rewarding if you like that sort of thing, so I'm effectively marking it down for doing what it's supposed to, but the whole thing had me pulling an outdated Do Not Want memeface.  Actually, because technology is a wonderful thing and people can do these things now, imagine the Robocop having a bad dream GIF, with Dawson's leery face covering Murphy's head.  I struggled with motivation throughout and rarely felt the rush of Eureka as I was too busy muttering things like "you're fucking kidding" and the oft-repeated "oh fuck off".  I think the FPS narrative games where you don't really solve puzzles and just plod through their stories are my preference, rather than having to rub your temples for 15 minutes while trying to open a temple door using *spoiler* a giant constellation matching floor machine with four parts, twenty buttons and a double page spread of scribbled notes.  There's a lot of trial and error here; puzzles that could be solved immediately that I assumed I had to return to with extra info being a particular irritant.  I'm not too proud to admit that I clearly prefer the 'if you forgot the locker code it's 1324' types.  As an aside, un-burning circles in fabric during chapter 2 is quite a skill. So I didn't like the things I was required to do, but did I get on with the things I was shown and told?  Mmmm....not really.  I liked aspects of the story, but it's nothing to write home about (even though that's how it starts aha).  It's a too sweet love story at heart, with a fair amount of Lovecraftian nonsense thrown in, some Cities of Gold 'How Does it Work?' ancient technology with moving parts stuff, at least one meaningfully underlined passage in a tattered copy of Moby Dick, lots & lots of photographs, window dressing items to have a pipe at (a pipe!) and an inkpot's worth of journal entries.  I wasn't keen on the voicework either, as the lead was either saying things that could've done with a rewrite or delivering them in a slightly odd manner.  Her accent dictates that she pronounce Harry, her missing squeeze, as 'Hairy', which I enjoyed (tee-hee), but when she clearly says 'I believe Hairy visited this exposition' while looking at a photograph of a historical artefact, I was left wondering whether it was trying to be clever or if no-one had the heart to ask the actress to have another go at the word 'expedition'.  Or even exhibition.  Benefit of the doubt not given.  If you press A on two items in quick succession she likes to talk about both things simultaneously, which is a massive genre faux pas surely.  One more thing - at sprinting pace (which is just a more determined stride unfortunately) you can tripwire the next line of dialogue while you're halfway through the previous one.  For a game where so many of its puzzles require you to schlep from A to B and back again it's another oddity for sure.     The underwater sections are dull too, although the story starts to kick into gear a little when you reach the later chapters.  It's probably time to wrap this up now.  I enjoyed the ending.  It looks nice when it's not struggling to keep up with what it's doing.  Did I mention the ending?  I think I would've appreciated this one a little more if I'd played it before Obra Dinn, but that blows this out the water within its first 20 minutes.  I found a user review I liked on the Metacritic summary page, so I'll close with that.   Can you make more boring game than this?  I think you can't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [4] 

    128. Unto the End - Xbox One (4hrs) 

    I wanted to love this, but in the end I can't quite claim to like it.  It's doing some very good things, but the overriding feeling after finally getting through it is one of disappointment.  It's an astonishingly unforgiving game, and it feels like this is mostly due to the unnecessarily cumbersome controls.  It's all in the reactions, as I often told my last wife, but there doesn't seem to be enough of a window to react, making it one of the most infuriating games I've ever played.  What's probably happened here is that I've got old and gone to pot, but I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest the Xbox version might be a little....not quite right.  I've seen videos of the combat online, and I'm convinced there's time to react - the enemies appear to show their tells with enough time to block correctly.  Yet in the game I played the windows of opportunity felt like they slammed shut before fully opening.  I'm clearly talking out my hat, but I just sat here and studied a Youtube walkthrough and something feels amiss (pssst: whoever's playing the video is good at the game).   Perhaps they're playing with the assist mode on, which is supposed to slow down all attacks and give you more of a chance to react, but in practice slows the entire game by 25% and reduces the framerate by half; it's like hitting a 'your console is struggling' button.  You know those games where you hit an input twice and your character performs two action over the course of the next three or four seconds?  Yep, it's one of those, or at least it is on assist mode.  It's definitely the most curious 'easy mode' I've ever seen and is more of a hinderance than a help for sure - I only managed to get through it by playing the full speed version.   And I only just managed to get through that.  Three or four checkpoints had me biting my knuckles like a teenager.  I punched the joypad at one point, and that either a) took all the juice out of the batteries that were running low anyway or b) fucking broke it, and let's face it the first option is unlikely.  So now I might not be able to play Phogs with my daughter because it turns out I'm an idiot.  I should explain what the game's about, as believe it or not it does actually deserve a proper review. Actually I will, but I'm going to bed now.  Part two in the morning.  Spoiler: it's getting a [5], but it's the best 5 ever.

    Pt.2.... What is it then? It's a slow paced combat platformer where each battle poses a significant risk. I don't mean that in an Oldbox Ninja Gaiden way either, it's absolutely true here. If you're not on the ball the lowliest cave dweller will merk the bejesus out of you. The best way I can describe the swordplay is a cross between Nighogg and Prince of Persia. Your character has rudimentary crafting skills and can make a bone dagger on the go but must sit at a fire to knock up a potion, heal wounds without using resources or improve armour. The bone dagger seems to take a lunar cycle to actually throw, but every little helps so they were essential for me (mainly because they tenderise opponents for a proper hit). Unfortunately, the campfires are so far apart you might as well reload if you lose health or use a potion, meaning that in my experience only cheats prosper. During the battles, which are usually one on one, you've got heavy and light attacks, a roll and high/low blocks. If you block a chain of attacks the enemy becomes stunned for a split second, which is roughly how long your character takes to react to your button presses, so good luck. You also need to block high to attack low and vice versa. You can feint high or low, but in my that felt useless and no-one seems to be using it on the speedruns either. You can also roll into walls and drop your sword, and it's always fun to control a character that stands up slower than a disinterested erection, isn't it? :eyes emoji:. Checkpoints are slightly more merciful than they could've been, but a better combat system with spaced out restart points would've been my preference; it felt like I was just waiting for luck to do me a favour with a couple of the more agonisingly difficult skirmishes. You can avoid some sections by placing offerings at the feet of certain opponents, which I did as much as possible to avoid the frankly excruciating fighting. However! I found the whole thing oddly addictive, and despite the fact that it was besting me every step of the way I felt like I had to beat it for my own sanity. So I did, but unless you're lifer in the Golden Joystick club or just enjoy flagellating yourself with tangible frustration I wouldn't advise playing it. Which is a shame, because after all that I'm starting to think I liked it again now. [6]

    129. Mother Russia Bleeds - Switch (2hrs) 

    Criminally overlooked scrolling beat 'em up that could hold its own against SOR4 for a round or two.  I've played through it before in sp and co-op (on PS4), but fancied another bash after nabbing it for 89p.  I didn't realise it was made by Le Cartel though, who went on to make Heave-Ho! (AKA the best game of 2019).  It's more of an arcade cab style brawler than SOR4, so the moveset is on the simplistic side compared to Sega's glorious resurrection (think a notch or two up from Turtles in Time or Final Fight), but that absolutely works.  It's also the most violent videogame I've ever played, bar none.  If Streets of Rage 4 is Bond Vs Red on the train in From Russia With Love, Mother Russia Bleeds is the fire extinguisher scene in Irreversible, with extra hate.  Where you might be used to snicking people with knives or broken bottles in this sort of game, and watching them fall backwards as they might if they'd been kicked, MRB literally goes for the jugular with its instant kill approach.  As you attack opponents they visibly deteriorate until they're a pulpy, often headless mess.  Firearms are similarly brutal here (yep, it has desert eagles, rifles and shotguns too, and they all absolutely wreck), plus you can relentlessly go to town on any single opponent until you're interrupted. It's a bit much, but that's the nature of the beast.  Up to four player local co-op, you love to see it, plus the neon pixel look is strong and the glitch electronica tunes thump and thud along with the action.  Very good example of the genre.  [8]  Yes, beardy does shit in his hand and chuck it there.

    130. The Almost Gone - Switch (3-4hrs) 

    Reasonably good diorama puzzle game with added weighty drama that feels like it's been bolted on.  If you approach it as a puzzler first and foremost it'll scratch an itch, there's nothing particularly new to what it offers - especially as it doesn't really make the most of the rotating scene mechanic - but it's a decent enough experience.  Some sections are very well put together.  The story didn't grab me though, which felt odd as I got the impression that's where the wow factor was supposed to be hiding.  Quite good, but a lot more could've been teased out of the dreamlike narrative puzzle mix.  Don't pay full price.  [6]
  • Aye, I'm in.

    A measly 17 last year for the OP, Vere.

    1. American Fugitive
    Decent GTAII-esque clone. Flawed, solid but unspectacular. 7

    2. Slay the Spire
    Awesome, addictive roguelike card game. It never really ends but I beat the game with the Defect so I'll take that as some form of completion. 9

    3. Ruiner
    Brilliant twin stick top down shooter. Originally beat normal difficulty in 2018 so revisited and completed Speed Run and New Game+ (Hard), great challenge. 8.5

    4. We Were Here
    Co-op first person puzzle game. Completed with the boy Frantic. Interesting concept where communication is king, a short but enjoyable experience. 7

    5. Halo 5: Guardians
    Completed in co-op with Team Awesome - Franny, Sparky and G. Bobbins story, some queer game direction suggesting troubled development (hubs?) but spot on gameplay, and co-op always embellishes the experience. 7

    6. Hotshot Racing
    Decent if slight Sumo arcade racer. Bright, breezy and full of Sega vibes. Rinsed arcade and normal grand prix modes and dabbled with some of the novelty modes. Still more to do but the pull to return is not strong. 7

    7. Maid of Sker
    First person Resident Evil-esque survival horror inspired by the novel of the same name. Another enjoyably solid but unspectacular experience. 7

    8. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
    The third episode in The Walking Dead episodic series. Continuing the adventures of Clementine and now introducing Javi as a new player character. Enjoyable story, top characterisation and great to catch up with Clem again. 8

    9. Fractured Minds
    Very short but interesting puzzle game exploring the theme of mental illness. Deals with isolation, anxiety, paranoia... based on the developer's own struggles. Impossible to fully understand and appreciate unless you are affected by ill mental health directly but a chance for you to empathise a little. 7

    10. Kona
    First person survival lite adventure game sees you playing as a PI investigating a mystery in deepest, coldest Canada. Not a bad game but the survival elements are not very well realised and it feels a quite clunky experience at times. 6

    11. Tetris Effect: Connected
    Brilliant zen like music and visuals update on the eternal classic. Some great game modes with again no end in sight as you chase and chase scores, times... Completed Journey mode on beginner for some form of completion, continuing to try and best scores on this and other modes for the next forever. 9
    GT: WEBBIN5 - A life in formats: Sinclair ZX81>Amstrad CPC 6128>Amiga 500>Sega Megadrive>PC>PlayStation 2>Xbox>DS Lite>Xbox 360>Xbox One>Xbox One X>Xbox Series X>Oculus Quest 2
  • Moot_Geeza wrote:
    Elf noooo.

    You could just leave your placeholder posts as a list, and link to the write-ups later in the thread.
  • 131. Sea of Solitude - Xbox One (3hrs) 

    More weighty drama, but this time the experience feels built around the story rather than vice versa.  In terms of gameplay it does some interesting things, but getting these things done is mostly pretty wonky compared to what I'd expect from a modern game.  That's often the rub with these narrative driven titles though.  Interesting ideas aside, the controls and gameplay sections are a bit PS2 era, but the whole package manages to push past these limitations because the story is successfully arresting.  It touches on themes (yup, it's one of those), but does so quite skilfully on the whole.  Some chapters have a lightness of touch that other sections lack, but missteps are forgivable and it's more hit than miss overall.  Worth a look if you're up for a slightly more heavy handed Gris in 3D. Sits comfortably in the top third of indie games in terms of visuals too, it's quite a looker.  [7]   

    132. Cuphead - Switch (2hrs) 

    Rebought on Switch as the current pricepoint seemed tasty enough to bite.  Along with Ori in the Blind Forest this was my original reason to buy an Xbox One S, it was a double indie assault I couldn't ignore.  I played through it with @retroking1981 originally, with my daughter watching the first 30 mins or so before bed once a fortnight or so.  It's weird what kids remember, as she was only three or four at the time but clearly recalled some of the bosses as she watched me play through it this morning.  We play a lot of co-op but she noped out of this quite quickly, preferring to cheer me on instead.  I whizzed through on the simple setting today, which doesn't allow you to enter the casino at the end.  It's a bit of a shame that the devs locked the endgame behind the normal difficulty setting.  I get that the game is designed to be played as a pyrrhic war of attrition, but I doubt any of them would combust with ennui if they got wind of a six year old seeing all the stages on the beginner setting.  I'm not up for chipping away at it again (I remember a couple of bosses taking close to an hour each in two player), so a whistle-stop revisit was all I was after this time.  Minor grumble aside this is probably even better than I remember it, it was different enough in single player to warrant another runthrough for sure, and it scraped a [9] from me back then iirc.  Along with Ori & the Will o' the Wisps I think I'd have it as the best looking videogame ever made, and it plays a pretty strong shmup game too (emphasis on pretty).  Switch port was flawless as far as I could tell, but I ended up playing most of it on the TV again.  Bring on the DLC. [9]   Found my co-op thoughts, it seems to have gained a whole point since 2018:
    Cuphead Phenomenally attractive shooter than just about has the trousers to back up the mouth.  There are better platform shooters, but the mechanics here are more than functional; with its bells and whistles confiscated this would still be good.  More on those bells and whistle though - what a beautiful game, definitely in with a legitimate shout for a 'best looking ever' award.  And it sounds amazing too.  An Alien Soldier in a classic Looney Tunes skin was always likely to appeal to me (it's one of the reasons I bought an XBox), but beyond the visuals the core shooting is pretty good.  Keeping an eye out for a parry opportunity is an excellent livener (this one simple mechanic adds a lot), and the 'save' parry in co-op is well done.  Once you get used to the fact that bosses soak up hits with no real feedback it's pattern learning at its best.  None of the bosses are easy, a few are too hard but most are just right.  A couple of stages felt easier with two players but one in particular had to be dispatched without Mughead (a boss scrolling shmup level).  So close to a [9], but and super strong [8] instead, probably the best game I've played in co-op since Tropical Freeze on Wii U.

    133. Super Meat Boy Forever - Switch (6hrs so far) 

    This will be an ongoing thing, as I'm determined to at least attempt to unlock the majority of the dark world stages on my initial save file, but I'm ready to review.  It's a truly excellent auto runner.  Most of the layouts I encountered during my first playthrough were better than the best of most other runners I've played, and those 'chunks' are merely a few pieces of the jigsaw Tommy Refenes & co. have been slaving over for years.  Almost every new twist or gimmick works well (the only nope was the way the screen change for the otherwise excellent spider creature disregarded the precision of your jump inputs), but there's a genre ceiling for me, and no amount of blueprint brilliance can smash a great glass elevator through its roof, so to speak.  In a way it's harsh to knock a game for being as could as it could possibly be - Team Meat wanted to make the best auto runner ever, one assumes, and has succeeded - but the lingering taste of what could have been makes it hard to supress at least a whopping pang of disappointment.  Super Meat Boy is my favourite platformer of all time, and while this experience is just as pure, limiting the control of your character has sizeable repercussions in terms of all-timeyness.  The first question I'd probably ask Refenes is why, as in 'why did you eschew the perfection of the original in favour an endlessly repayable auto-scroller' (why, goddammit).  I expect I'd be initially satisfied with his answer, as he seems like a lovely chap, but after further contemplation I expect I'd be tempted to follow up with yeah...but why?  It seems perfect for streamers, as any combination of chunks should create a great experience, but I wonder if at some point over the past six years someone should've Hicks gif'd him with the 'ease down' bit from Aliens.  He was so preoccupied with whether he could, as they say, and may have gone a little overboard with the project.  This purportedly has 7200 levels, but surely that means checkpoints rather than full stages.  There seem to be around 40 chunks per world, meaning you'll see 200-ish on a light world playthrough.  If replayability is your bag you're in for a treat, it could feasibly last forever.  I've got a second save file on the go and haven't noticed any reused segments.  There's a hell of a lot of game here, and it's a bit overwhelming for the likes of me. At its best it's masterfully designed, and none of the light world levels I played were ever less than very good.  The layouts are partly puzzle based as Meat Boy can change direction by bouncing from walls, and intricacy is the name of the game.  You'll learn what it expects of you, what you can do, and how to solve the patterns either on the fly or after a restart or two.  Please trust me when I say it frequently comes close to genre perfection, the main game is chef's kiss stuff (wonky first boss aside).  I love runners as they're a sort of zone out experience at their best - you know when you go a bit blind while playing something but can still play it?  Pinball blindness, I call it.  Just me?  Anyway, for me, the problems start to rear their head with the addition of the dark worlds here.  For an already tricky runner to get harder, it needs to become more precise.  So that means more memorisation and more absolute pinpoint requirements on the timings, which is when the fun starts to drain away.  The trickier stages were where the original game really came alive, so this is a shame to say the least.  There's also the misstep of the unlock requirements for the dark worlds to factor in, which struck me as pretty mean.  If you can hack it there's a ridiculous amount of content on offer even without the randomisation element (or indeed NG+, which is also a thing).  It still has bandages (pacifiers here) and warp zones too.  I'm almost certain I won't be able to handle it all though, if the first dark world was anything to go by, which makes the more malicious aspects of this one far less appealing than Super Meat Boy or The End is Nigh.      In summary, I've barely scratched the surface by reaching the credits but what I have played might prove to be close to enough.  It's going in my top 5 for the year, because I can't stress how good this is when you're under its spell, but I expect it'll fade away a lot quicker than the original. [8] 

    134. The Punisher - Megadrive (45mins) 

    I've played this before, bit I'm sure I was more impressed last time.  Maybe I played the MAME version last time.  It's an okay scrolling beat 'em up.  Probably in the top half for 16-bit consoles but only just.  Decent enough, just not particularly memorable and ultra simplistic after Mother Russia Bleeds. 73% in 1994. 

    135. Rastan - Master System (45mins) 

    Despite its age it's still possible to appreciate this one - it's surprisingly fair for a late 80s arcade port.  The main theme is very good, which is handy as it's used for the first stage of every level.  Jumping is deeper than I remembered as it has two types of leap (and a wall jump).  Playing this again made me think about having another run through Volgarr the Viking too, which is no bad thing.  Much like that game you'll need to learn the traps and layouts to succeed.  Enjoyed this, might scrape a top 25 MS list. 1988 90%
  • See the time/date on each post? It’s a link to that post. Or, if you look click on your name in the banner, and go to the ‘comments’ tab, the word ‘permalink’ on each one is the same thing.
  • My 2020 52 Games Unwrapped.

    Number of games played: 135

    Number of hours spent playing these games: 622

    Best Game released in 2020: Huntdown. Runners up: MO: Astray, Streets of Rage 4, Kentucky Route Zero, Super Meat Boy Forever, Gears Tactics.

    Best non 2020 release played in 2020: Super Meat Boy. Runners up: Heave-Ho!, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Blasphemous, Valfaris, Ruiner, Not a Hero, Return of the Obra Dinn, Akane.

    Worst game played: Ultimate Ski Jumping 2020. Runners up: Wheels of Aurelia, Crazy Zen Minigolf, Toby & the Secret Mine.

    Biggest disappointment: Probably the bosses in Ori, but as I liked the game overall I'll go with Carrion. Runners up: Horace, Knights & Bikes, Call of the Sea.

    Longest game played solo: Gears Tactics (20hrs). Runners up: Steamworld Quest, Astral Chain, Doom Eternal (all 16hrs).

    Longest game played co-op: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (50-60hrs). Runners up: Paper Mario: Origami King (30hrs), Spiritfarer (25hrs).

    Best Visuals of 2020: Ori & the Will O' the Wisps. Runners up: The Falconeer, DOOM Eternal, Carto.

    Best Audio of 2020: Spiritfarer. Runners up: Kentucky Route Zero, Paper Mario & the Origami King.

    Best character: Olivia (Paper Mario)

    Best bargain basement bangers certified by 'The Poundland Connoisseur': Akane 89p. Runners up: Horizon Shift '81 89p, Q-YO Blaster 99p.
  • acemuzzy
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    Acemuzzy (aka murray200)
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    1) 7 Billion Humans - scored [8]
    2) Golf Peaks - scored [6]
    3) Baba Is You - scored [9] (preliminary)
    4) 36 Fragments of Midnight - scored [4]
    5) Midnight Deluxe - scored [3]
    6) Unpuzzle
    7) Control
    8 ) Donut County
    9) Ori 2
    10) Yoku
    11) A Short Hike
    12) Drawful 2
    13) Fractured Minds - scored [6]
    14) HyperDot - scored [9]
    15) UnpuzzleR
    16) Splasher - scored [8]
    17) Sigils of Elohim - scored [5]
    18) The Talose Principle - scored [9]
    19) Gunpoint - scored [7]
    20) Youropa - scored [9]
    21) WHAT THE GOLF? - scored [6]
    22) PUSH
    23) Binding of Isaac
    24) The Touryst
    25) Pikuniku
    26) Submerged
    27) Tell Me Why
    28) Carrion
    29) Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
    30) Gato Roboto
    31) New Super Lucky's Tale
    32) Lonely mountain downhill
    33) Astro Bot
    34) Sackboy: A Big Adventure
    35) Erica
    36) The Last Campfire

    Journey to the Savage Planet
    Rocket League
    TLoU Part 2
    Far Cry 5
    Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
    Mini Metro
    TLoU Remastered

    Coming soon: Stuff from the Fiscal Prudence thread (here), DQXI, FC5, Sundered, Minit, Mosaic Maze, Light Fall, Induction, Four Sided Fantasy, Tetrobot, DLC Quest, Gorogoa, Shuggy, Sokobond, Jazzpunk, Hellblade, Ashen, Below, Gunpoint, The Shivah, Rive, Quantum Break, Slay the Spire, Into the Breach, Spiderman, Hitman, AC Origins, Dying Light, FFXV, Diablo III, The Surge, Rayman Legends, COD IW, Nier, Nier Automata, Little Nightmares, Rime, DkS 3 DLC, GoW4, Sunset Overdrive, Bayonetta 1 & 2, Resi 4, Pandora's Tower, Downwell, Monkey Island 1 & 2 Remastered, Grim Fandango Remastered, Day of the Tentacle Remastered,Trine 1-3, Catherine, Rogue Legacy, Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, Sleeping Dogs, Binding of Isaac, Gravity Rush, Stealth Inc 2, Transistor, Broforce, Magicka 1&2, Kentucky Route Zero, 1001 Spikes, Remember Me, Catherine, MGS V/GZ, Danganronpa, DmC, Dust, From Dust, Gears of War (1-4), God of War, Hitman (early ones), Splinter Cell, I Am Alive, Outlast,  SotC HD, Styx, Thief, The Crew, Ys, Yakuza, XCOM, Suikoden, TWD (s2), The Evil Within, The Banner Saga, Sniper Elite, Richard & Alice, Hydrophobia, Gunpoint, Else Heart.Break(), Door Kickers, Malicious, Castevania: Lord of Shadows, No Time to Explain, Apotheon, Capsized

    1) Miss Pym Disposes
    2) The Plotters
    3) Norse mythology
    4) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
    5) The Builders
    6) To Be Read, If Fortunate
    7) The Narrow Road to the Deep North
    8) The Affirmation
    9) Before the Coffee Gets Cold
    10) The Parade
    11) Tllhe Great Train Robbery
    Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
    A Little Hatred
    4.50 from Paddington
    American War

    1) Iron Man 2
    2) The Incredible Hulk
    3) Parks & Recreation (s1)
    4) Thor
    5) Avengers: Assemble
    6) Iron Man 3
    7) Thor: Dark World
    8 ) Captain America: Winter Soldier
    9) Guardians of the Galaxy
    10) Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
    11) You (s1)
    12) You (s2)
    13) Parks & Recreation (s2)
    14) Curb Your Enthusiasm (s10)
    15) Parasite
    16) Gravity
    17) The Expanse (s4)
    18) Sunny (s6)
    19) Better Call Saul (s5)
    20) Argo
    21) Curb your Enthusiasm (s9)
    22) Raising Arizona
    23) Ozark (s3)
    21) Curb your Enthusiasm (s8)
    22) My Neighbor Totoro
    23) Ex Machina
    24) Birdcage
    25) Dead to Me (S2)
    26) P&R (S3)
    27) P&R (S4)
    28 ) The Green Book
    29) Moonlight(??)
    30) Children of Man
    31) Rebecca
    32) Extraction
    33) Criminal (S2)
    34) P&R (S5)
    35) Queen's Gambit
    36) The Undoing
    Mando (S2)
    Social dilemma

    My 2017 link: here (59 completed, [394], average [6.68]; 25 books; 33 shows/movies)
    My 2018 link: here (52 completed, [342], average [6.58]; 18 books; 26 shows/movies)
    My 2019 link: here (15 games, [TBD], average [TBD], only 7 books :-|, 49 shows/movies)
    My 2020 link
    My 2021 link
  • acemuzzy
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    Moot_Geeza wrote:
    My previous totals were... 
    2017: 75 
    2018: 78 
    2019: 86
    You got issues.  Mate.
  • You have 2 posts in a row there anyway now
  • acemuzzy
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    Acemuzzy (aka murray200)
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    OK, post is now underway.  Vere - only 15 for me in 2019, if you want that in your OP.  I'm gonna try to be more organised this year.  Might even try to list my PoS in some kind of "to be tackled in" order, to avoid choice paralysis the whole time.  I also need to actually mark stuff and get it into the Just Completed thread... had a good habit of that a year ago, but it went as I lost my 52gpy mojo.

    I also need to read more and watch less.  Something I'll endeavour to do in 23 movies' time.
  • Nina
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    12 completed last year, let's see what I can do this year.

    1 - Dragon Quest IX Just completed
    2 - The Gardens Between
    Fun little puzzle game, I had to look up two puzzles as I just wasn't seeing it, but apart from those the rest felt solid. Looks good, and some fun island design. It's short, but it shouldn't have been longer, this was a nice experience.
    3 - Hellblade
    Great sound design, some really good visuals, mediocre fight mechanics and decent puzzles. With about 7 hours it's not too long, and it's worth to see the end, I enjoyed that. Play with headphones.
    4 - Zone of the Enders 2nd Runner
    Still great. Loved it on PS2, loved it on PS4.
    Still one of the best robot designs I've seen. Action feels good, music is good. Close combat can feel a bit chaotic at points. Lots of drawn cutscenes which have some good action direction.
    5 - Life is Strange: Before the Storm + bonus episode
    Better than Life is Strange 1. Loved it. It looks really janky, but once you've done a certain part in the first episode*, none of that matters. Writing and camera work is really well done, and unlike LiS1, you can't undo your choices here. By the end of the bonus episode you're crying.
    6 - Kentucky Route Zero
    Just brilliant.
    7 - Knights and Bikes
    Played through this with B. A lot of charm packed into this, and it even got a little bit emotional towards the end. Gameplay lacks a bit, and can get slightly annoying, but there's always something in the visuals or writing that will make you smile at the game again.
    8 - Astro Boy Omega Factor Just Completed
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