Fallout: New Vegas — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

Fallout: New Vegas has a very special place in my heart. It arrived at a time in my life where my life was in flux. The quietness of the wasteland and the challenges that you choose how to react to would leave a lasting impression on me throughout my life. Even now, after several thousand […]

Fallout: New Vegas — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

POETRY [UNTITLED SERIES] – 14

Everyday I dress up in my own words

Pulling Strength from what lies on the floor

Unable to breathe any Hope from a closet

The Comfort in a black oversized t-shirt

Oh god I want to feel again

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How to break the cycle of fear in habit formation

Recently we covered self care ideation and how there are practical and realistic ways to love yourself beyond the keywords and SEO. Today we will talk about aversion, procrastination and habit forming when it causes some fear response or avoidance behaviour. Being able to form new habits and behaviours is complex and difficult as it requires a lot of internal rewiring. So, we will start from the beginning of the process. We’ll talk about why this happens to begin with, what causes it and strategies to change it.

Why we do what we do?

There is no correct answer to this, as depending on the severity and context of the issue it can be one of many things. However, it all breaks down to one key thing – it is something that ultimately serves you. I’m reluctant to use the word benefits, as no one has depression or anxiety because it benefits them. In saying that, your brain is smart, and it tries to adapt to the environment and the chemicals it produces to function, even in states when it is not optimal.

But this isn’t an article about the chemical compositions of major and minor mental illnesses. It’s about habit formation, but it’s important to understand how these mental states can really affect your ability to form new habits for yourself, even if they are beneficial to you.

For instance, in my personal life I’m having a hard time keeping up with personal hygiene and other fundamental things to keep my body healthy. But my mind is so overwhelmed just existing right now that it’s just not prompting me to do things beneficial for my health. So, not showering – taking medication that involves touching myself or anything that requires an incision into my body. Even though I know – logically and emotionally that I need to take these medicines to be well.

It’s causing for me an adverse reaction. Even thinking about doing these things cause me a certain amount of physical anxiety and emotional strain. Thus, me not doing these things or thinking about them causes me to get that bit of a dopamine hit for not doing them as a reward. As far as my chemical body is concerned, it’s gotten me out of danger and therefore my body should be rewarded for running away from the reaction.

So it is now associating not taking my medicine and that running away from discomfort with a sympathetic chemical reaction.

This can work against us, chemicals in are body are impossible to reason with. They are the things that keep our body together and informs our bodies on what to do. If I continue this pattern of not taking my meds or fighting the urge to take my meds with success, it will only be harder to implement taking my meds because it’s chemically associating itself.

For me, avoidance is how these things manifest in me. For others, this can turn into something much harder to combat, which is fear or phobia. Have you ever wanted to do something so much that you ended up becoming just pure afraid of doing it or having any association with it? It doesn’t have to be anything to do with self care. It could be a fear of heights or spiders, which it is in my instance.

But what happens when you get to a stage where you are so anxious and upset around the thoughts of being in contact with things like water that you become hydrophobic? So, this makes drinking water, taking baths or showers far more complex. Fear increases the stress hormone cortisol in your system. If you have previously seen times like brushing your teeth or taking baths as something that was a relaxing activity but is now not sending those reassuring chemicals associated with calmness and relaxation and have been replaced with a stress response. This can be a challenging thing to overcome.

There are a few things you can do to change your associations around things that had been a source of relaxation and now cause you stress or anxiety.

Key among them is to be exposed to the thing you fear.

Exposure therapy in controlled situations is a well-researched tactic to combat some specific phobias. This does not mean that I’m telling you to jump into a pool to cure your hydrophobia! What you need is slow and controlled exposure in a way that you can incorporate it into your life without its existence being seen to your body and your mind as a threat.

A plan for treating hydrophobia and being able to work up to incorporate water-related activities into your life is by working on it step by step and this is something that needs to be done over months, not weeks or days. The risk of doing exposure therapy too quickly is that you end up building up that fear response instead of disarming it, which is what you want to do.

The goal is to reincorporate these instances into your life again like they have always been there are as little of a threat to you as a cushion you have on your sofa. Trust is a muscle. We build it up. It is understood or implicity given. For example, when you go to sit down on a chair you trust that the chair will support your weight and that you will not fall over because you’ve sat on chairs before and know what to expect. The same is what we’re trying to develop with building in a new habit or breaking free of something that doesn’t serve us.

In our instance with hydrophobia. For the first two weeks, all I’d want someone to do is to have a glass of water beside the fridge or bathroom. (Yes, even if you’re not cripplingly afraid of water) I’d want you to place it in a place where you go by it regularly in your day to day and you don’t have to interact with it. It can just be placed there without you really considering it and go about your days as normal.

That’s it. This is around changing the relationship of how we view something that threatens us. If we can prove to ourselves through non threatening exposure that things will not hurt us, that is the reassurance we’re giving to our mind and our bodies.

After a while, you’re not even going to notice it’s there. It will blend into the background, much like a piece of art on your wall. It’s just going to be there, and it’s all gravy.

When that happens, I want you to put another glass in another common place like your bathroom. You don’t have to interact with it; you don’t have to do anything with it. Just have it there and repeat the exercise till you feel you don’t even really notice its presence anymore.

How does this help me take a bath? You may be wondering. But much like all of this is manifesting for you didn’t just happen overnight similarly neither will the cure. You will build up your trust with a system is in place to help support you, and this should be a plan that you should curate as appropriate to your needs with the support of your personal support network.

This process has no timeline – it will take as long as it takes. But these are the foundations for changing your associations emotionally, physically and chemically to a phobia or habit that you are trying to change. Remember something key, emotion = motion.

If we can catch each other when we’re in a loop of emotions or frustration, we can change it by changing our state.

Tony Robbins goes into this a lot and this is because it physiologically changes what is happening in your body when you are feeling a set of emotions or doing something in a pattern.

An example I can give you is today. When I was writing up this article, I was just out of surgery and got diagnosed with another set of nasty stuff. It’s something I’m hoping to cover in another article, but I was ruminating a lot about Mark. There was a part of me that in some fairy tale imagined him being there when I woke up and that things would be ok. Then I started falling down the emotional rabbit hole of “what if he doesn’t come home” “I’m in so much pain and discomfort and I have no one here.” and I just was spiralling but at one stage I could catch myself and I stood up and at the top of my lungs I screamed NEXXXXXXT!!!!

And I felt better.

I could control and choose my state.

You can too. It doesn’t matter how able-bodied you are, whether or not you can stand. This is about changing your state, to change the chemicals in your brain from you keeping from patterning it out the way you normally do.

Mel Robbins (unrelated to Tony) deems this as pulling the emergency brake.

None of these responses are your fault, your body and brain do so much on autopilot that it has this in place for you because it’s trying to protect you from something. Or is making things as easy as possible for your daily brain to cope with it. But what is important to know is that through the right strategies and mechanisms you can control your life and make the changes you wish to see.

Learn how to free yourself from anxieties with these 6 easy steps

There are links in the article that are affilate that if used helps me keep the blog alive.

Anxiety is a condition that affects everyone at some stage in life. For some people, this is more of a chronic condition than others who only get anxiety occasionally. Having effective coping mechanisms is essential to success when you’re in this headspace. I will go through some processes and ideas that may help you cope when anxiety comes around. 

Breathing

While it might sound obvious – and honestly quite irritating when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack only to have a well-meaning bystander telling you to “just breathe” and to breathe with them. I don’t know about you, but it’s about as useful as someone waves a sandwich in your face when you’re hungry, wondering why you don’t have a sandwich too. 

However, there are exercises that you can do to incorporate them into your exercise routine or a morning ritual for yourself when you’re making your coffee. 

The most wonderful Yoga With Adrienne has the most wonderful YouTube channel where she takes you through Yoga practices for free. She has an in-depth breathing playlist to teach you various breathing techniques. Her no BS approach to Yoga encourages you to “be where you are” with your practice. If you can’t do the poses, then that’s ok. She encourages the mantra that “turning up is enough”. 

You can find a link to all of her breathing exercises below : 

Writing

Taking some time to write what is causing you anxiety can be a useful practice. I don’t mean for you to analyse what is going on or the things you’re worried about or things that might cause you added anxiety. Focus on getting them out of your head and onto some paper. 

I recommend keeping a piece of paper or a notepad beside your bed or the toilet. Wherever you find yourself lost in your thoughts. Don’t judge your thoughts or content. This is just an exercise to help clear your mind and help you get a little of mental rest.  

Meditation

Like breathing. Telling people to meditate can seem like it’s such an obnoxious thing to say to someone. However, while it’s proven that meditation has positive effects with helping your mental state. There is also equally enough bias and “a way to do it” that people pontificate about. 

I want to tell you that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is a practice of just turning up for yourself in that practice of trying to calm your mind. I use Headspace (not nearly as often as I should) and I’ve found that a lot of what makes up a good practice is less about hitting that “zen” feeling or anything like that but more attempting to turn up to the practice and to try. 

The simple fact of the matter is – your mind will not be quiet the first time around. Meditating will feel uncomfortable and unnatural when we’re so programmed to doing things. 

Here is one of the best things that I’ve learned from Headspace: 

“Headspace Co-founder, Andy Puddicombe likens the practice of meditation to sitting by the side of a road, with instructions to watch the traffic. How do we stop ourselves from getting caught up with the thoughts? It’s a question of perspective.”

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping you identify patterns in your everyday life that might be triggering any anxiety or depression. It is a system that can apply to a wide number of mental health concerns, not just anxiety. Like all approaches in psychology it will depend on each person whether this approach suits people or not. 

While I’ll always advise going to see a professional licenced therapist for any work – sometimes its not always an option. So here are some recommended text books that talk you through the basics as well as having worksheets to support your learning. (Pro Tip! Use a copier to work on the worksheet so you can reuse them multiple times) 

Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT

Talking

In the spirit of counseling, it seems purposeful that we talk about talking. We must find the right support network for us to be supported when we’re having periods of anxiety. Sometimes, despite our friends and family’s best interests, they might not give you the support you need. 

It’s unfortunately common that friends and family may, very well intentioned, tell you not to worry about it or that you’re overthinking things. That doesn’t help with calming feelings of overwhelm or anxiety. 

This is where seeing a registered, licenced therapist comes in. They provide a safe space where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a non judgemental space. Please don’t misunderstand me, it can take a long time to find the right therapist who gets you. I have been with mine through an app called BetterHelp for the last 3 years and my therapist has been essential to my mental health. 

For anyone unsure if counseling is for them, there is a weeklong trial that you can take where you’ll be matched with a therapist and you can see how you feel. 

https://www.betterhelp.com/rpc/8e1fb10457057a04-2-01

Movement

In the lengthy line of cliches about what to do to ease anxiety, going for a walk is nearly always high on the list of what they recommend. I know how bothersome this advice is first hand, as it was my father’s solution to everything that ails you. I legitimately wanted to strangle him every time he mentioned it. 

In saying that, it doesn’t have to be so productive as going for a walk. It can be as simple as taking the time to stretch. Or to do some Yoga poses. When I’m feeling ungrounded, I often do a sun salutation to help me reconnect with myself. 

Yoga with Adrianne 10 minute Beginner Sun Salutation Practice is just enough for me to feel stretched and calmer. 

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As for more traditional stretches you can find a selection of them on YouTube but some of my favourites are from Dr Joe. 

I hope these suggestions will help empower you to make the most out of the times you have anxiety and to encourage you in that things get better. 

The Beginner’s Guide

100 Word Gaming Reviews

The Beginner’s Guide is one of those games that fall under the definition of the less you say about it the better. But it is practically essential to play. At a max run time of 2 hours, The Beginner’s Guide is a short but complete experience where we get to discuss the impact of creation, and at what stage does someone’s creative work outlive or outgrow its intention.

Accessibility Concerns: Would be accessible to anyone using a mouse and keyboard or anyone with a gamepad. It has subtitles and audio matching them so there would be little barrier to entry.

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Surprised! I joined the crew over at 100 Word Gaming to give a platform to my bite-size reviews series!

100 Word Gaming Reviews

This is a visual novel unlike any other. There is a Murderous Teddy Bear Headmaster in a highschool designed for pure despair. The only way to survive? Kill your classmates, but don’t get caught. Get caught, your death is designed to be the most torturous thing tailored for each person. Danganronpa is a masterclass of the powerful storytelling of visual novels.

Accessibility: This is a point and click game with subtitles, so it would be accessible for those who can use a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard. For players with visual impairments, there are large sections that are text only.

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Bite Size Reviews – Dream Daddy

Dream Daddy is a visual novel created by popular Youtube Channel Game Grumps. Dream Daddy is a Dad dating simulator. You move into a new place with your beloved daughter Amanda as she is finishing up her final year of school. With a new move to a cozy cul-de-sac you have the option to create the Daddy of your Dreams and date your very own Dream Daddy.

Dream Daddy is a wonderful experience. Short in its narrative with 7 different datable Dads all with different routes and outcomes. It’s a showcase of what diversity and respect for the LGBTQ+ community cannot be overstated. The scenarios feel real and fundamentally grounded in reality. You experience the trails and tribulations of being a single father trying to navigate their way in a whole new phase of their lives.

Bite Size Review – My 49 Days with a Cell

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about what you want and what you need, with yourself. I didn’t think to myself that this was something that was going to teach me anything when I landed on My 49 Days with a Cells in the Apple Store. A bit like the Eggs game (which is a time waste, and a very good one at that!)

That’s it. 49 days of these cell’s lives. You are the person who has to take care of them. Easy.

Well, not so much. It turns out that taking care of these little cells is about as difficult as it is to look after ourselves.

For a little while now I’ve been on a journey where I’m trying to learn how to take better care of myself. I’ve had very drastic changes in my life. Just a lot of life happens in a very short time. I suddenly lost my dad and as a result of his death I moved home 4 times in 3 years. During that period, I would have worked two jobs at the same time, just to get the ends meet.

Then, I started to suffer massively from health problems. Two months after I got married, I had a lump removed from my breast, as they thought it was cancerous. I was at the time in a job that was pursuing a dream I wanted but it made me slowly sick and stressed because of the working environment. Since quitting the job due to sickness and being burned out,I decided to go back to college to pursue a Masters degree and work at the same time. More health problems, however, occurred to a point where I wound up having to leave both my college degree and what work I was doing at the time. I had major surgery in January where they removed my uterus and not even a full 2 years later and I’m pending another surgery next month to figure out why things are still wrong.

TL: DR Needless to say, I know the strength of what one of those little cells holds firsthand.

We are back to the land of simplicity, gameplay wise. You’ve got bonus energy to spend on the first cell. What ‘s great, it gives you the freedom to see what you might want to do with your cell, and then you’re going to plan your first week with it. At first, your choices feel endless; food, exercise, culture, rest, play, study and wash are all your main categories and then they are subdivided into categories. So, my first week has started. Through my little cage, I tried to live vicariously, wanting to fly, read and play without end. However, it did not turn out that way.

There has always been a trade off doing too much without caring about other needs such as feeding or sleeping in the cell. Around the time I was halfway through my first lifecycle of cells I recognized that I was making the same mistakes that I personally made.

I just didn’t take care of it. The little cell couldn’t eat properly, couldn’t rest and had barely planned time to take a bath! I was so focused on putting everything in its existence that I would have forgotten to take into account what it wanted or needed. I just didn’t listen to it.

I was so focused on doing what I thought it was important, and wanted me to take notice of the fact Nobody was listening to them.

Ultimately, it was too late to rectify the error by the time I realised that I had left it undernourished, deprived of sleep and stinky. Fortunately, it didn’t die (well, it depends on how you look at it), but on its 49th day, it decided to turn it into a stone.

I started my second round with its previously divided cell (which carries all of the previous cell stats) disappointed, and equally a little mystified. A cell’s life cycle is from 15 to 30 minutes of playtime anywhere, so I was startled when I realized the cells respond to you when they’re in an event — if they don’t like an activity, they ‘re going to tell you.

It took me some time to understand that in some respects life imitated art. These little cells had hopes and aspirations and I forgot the key things to make this a success in the pursuit of that achievement.

Through listening, loving, and caring.

Like how I had forgotten to listen, to appreciate and to care for myself.

They say you should talk to yourself as if you were talking to your friends and I have never been good at taking advice like that. But something really hit home with me about My 49 Days with Cells, it taught me a lot about myself and I’m sure it can teach you something too.

My 49 Days with Cells are available on both the IOS App Store and the Google Play Store for free.

Women in Tech – Gaming & Technology Edition

In a world that is so dominated by men there is precious little more daunting in a journalist’s career than being a woman or non-binary person in tech. My background is in technology of all forms; mobiles, laptops and gaming. You may have already found me around the internet and on Twitter as @ThisIsSpecious and on websites like Big Boss Battle or Android Central.

As part of my new series on highlighting people who you need to know in the industry, I will talk to you about the women & non-binary people in technology who you should keep your eyes on!

Gaming

There are a tremendous amount of women doing wonderful things in gaming journalism at the moment. So, when making these lists it is nearly always impossible to narrow them down to a top three. To bring new people to your attention, I’m making sure that in these listings these are the women who don’t have a huge following and whose work deserves more attention.

Amanda Farough

Amanda is one of those unique people in the industry who will have been behind a lot of your favourite sites and yet you may not have realised it. She has been a founder of her own discord where she helps young writers in their journey through journalism. She is an endlessly giving and nurturing person, and a phenomenal writer and editor. She is a determined person, dedicated to her team and to delivering precise and informative content.

You can find a link to all of Amanda work right here.

Reb Valentine

I will always have a soft spot for Reb as I have had the pleasure of working with her in other publications but that is for a great reason. Reb has a writing style that is just a pleasure to read and connect with. Now she has found a home with Gamesindustry.biz she has found a space where she deep dive into the heart of the gaming industries biggest issues and will take you with her for that journey.

You can find Reb and her work over at Gamesindustry.biz.

Tayna DePress

Director of I Need Diverse Games, Twitch Partner, Conference Speaker, Diversity Liaison for GaymerX, Tayna is someone who should need no introduction – but somehow still is one of the most underestimated women in the video games scene. You don’t have to look too far to realise that this woman is in everything that is worth having a name on; DnD streams, Logitech team. Tayna’s ambition in life is to make the gaming world a more inclusive one for everyone to enjoy.

You can find out all about Tayna and how to support her work here.

Julie Muncy

Commonly found chatting to me about anything and everything to do with Kingdom Hearts, you will also find her work over at Wired, and Weekend Editor over at @io9. Presently is ready to be snapped up by the best outlets out there. You can find her contact details over on her Twitter.

Mim McDonald

Mim is the wizard behind some of your most beloved gaming magazines being Operations Editor, @OPM_UK and @edgeonline. A wonderfully gifted and gentle human, who is just one of the most sincerely beautiful people I’ve ever met. When she’s got some down time from being the backbone of her work force she’s interested in all with a vintage, alternate reality or retro-futuristic theme. You can find her personal blog here

Sam Greer

Sam is the hugely talented producer of Glass House Games. Her work can be found through various places on the internet, seriously, everywhere. A hugely talented and capable human who is worthy of so much acclaim it’s silly. When she’s not busy doing that you can be assured she’s over on Twitter trying to squeeze as many gifs about Lightening from Final Fantasy 13 as is humanly possible. 

Sam Loveridge

You might know Sam best from her work as Global Editor-in-Chief for @GamesRadar. When she’s not busy running the show over at Games Radar she can be found being her very awesome self over on her twitter

Mobile Technology

Some argue there aren’t a lot of women in mobile journalism. I’m here to debunk that myth and showcase some of the best and brightest that the tech scene has seen. By there being more women writing and talking about tech, we can unravel the complicated knot that is women in technology. There are lots of reasons women don’t get a predominant say in mobile technology. Much like games, they see us as being non-existent in the space, however there are many women being involved from all levels. I will introduce you to some of the best women in the mobile space you may never have heard of.

Florence Ion

You may recognise Florence’s name from her Android Central days where she was one of the most influential writers on the platform. We can also find her work in PCWorld, Ars Technica to name but a few. If there was a major publication, I can guarantee you that Florence has written for them. A monolith in the tech world, she has now gone freelance with her own work. Bringing her unique style and flare to her new podcast All about Android.

You can keep an eye on Florence and all of her work over at https://florenceion.com

Trisha Hershberger

One half of the Newegg Livestream crew, Trish is one of those women who can put her hand to anything she touches. A talented Youtuber, she dissects everything you need to know about tech, gaming and everything in-between. As an avid PC fan, she can bring her unique perspective to the Newegg family to talk about the best and worst of mobile and PC hardware. If you haven’t looked at her content and you are a PC person – you are missing out.

You can catch Trisha over at Newegg.com or at her personal YouTube.

Lory Gil

Lory is the powerhouse behind iMore. As managing editor for iMore she runs a tight ship with getting the cutting edge of Apple content out for you all to read. All this hard work can often come under acknowledged given she is the gears behind the machine. If there is a post on iMore, you can be certain that she has had something to do with it. Be it; editing, scheduling, she’d had a hand in making that site work as streamlined as it is. So will throw her a follow and tell her that Spec sent you.

You can find Lory and all of her work over at iMore

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner is a Writer at Android Central. Chromebook ifficiando and force of good. When she’s not writing help and how-to’s, she’s off dreaming about Disney and singing show tunes. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

You can find her gushing about Chromebooks and all of her more recent work right here.

While I know that there are plenty of people who I’ve missed, who are the people who you think deserve recognition? Let me know in the comments down below with their twitter handles or articles so we can all share the great work that’s created by women in the industry.

Bite Size Reviews – Mom Hid My Game

If were growing up like me, you might have experienced Mom Hid My Game’s base scenario. Your Mom has stolen your game console, as the name of the game would imply, and you have to navigate an ever more elaborate way to get your game boy back to in order to play.

The puzzles were often intuitive. Checking the game boy behind a bookcase, or distracting your mom on the couch so you can get the game boy back. But often they were equally bewildering; cultural signals such as looking under a cushion that would be used to sit on were for someone who could be dealing with someone who wouldn’t be so in tune with other cultures.

One aspect that was credit to Mom Stole my Game was the fact that all the levels are short in nature. For each puzzle the rooms are the same (by in large) so you get a sense of where things are easily placed. Every time the game makes it clear what the threat to your success is, and it has very straightforward clues to your success.

Failure states are always quick and if you don’t find the right answer the first time around, it’s easy to leap back into action.

The only downpoint I can say about it is for accessibility. 

This can become one of the biggest frustrations of the game, as these have been hard to time, even for someone who is ablebodied. And there was no way to make it any easier! Ruling out some of the final act of Mom Stole My Game

Not to get spoilers-as it ‘s not worth spoiling this ending. I would encourage players to see Mom Stole My Game ‘s journey through to its end, however. In the final act, there is a marvelous piece of game design and narrative direction that brings the players through a journey of connection to technology and how it affects your relationship with those near you.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX – Review

Having pumped double digits of hours into the new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, I can safely say beyond doubt that this is the most loving entry into the history of the franchise. It will charm old and new players alike. However, much like its first incarnation, there were several opportunities where developer Spike Chunsoft could have made moves to better plan a better player experience where it matters the most and that is within its dungeons.

Choosing your character  A selection of Pokémon appear before the character ranging from Bulbasaurs to Machops
Choosing your character.

It all begins with a Question

I remember when I picked up Mystery Dungeon for the first time. I was sitting in Eddie Rockets (Johnny Rockets to my friends in the USA) and when the game asked you to place your finger on the touchpad and begin your quest by answering a series of personality questions. I was hooked, hooked the same way I can remember being hooked playing Pokémon Crystal when the first female playable female protagonist was introduced. The same way I remember being hooked when I first started playing Pokémon Red. I knew that this would be a love affair that would last me my entire life.

Little did I know how right I would be, leaning into all entries regardless of version. A love that would lead me to buy multiple copies and keep old systems around just to go back to that world, that place. A deeper love than maybe the original Pokémon series had on me as the series was more formulaic in its iterations.

Mystery Dungeon was something special to me. Something unique. This wasn’t just a protagonist who I was aiming to be, shoes I was yet to fill. This was my own journey, with my answers, my solutions, with my friends.

So when I heard of the remake it thrilled me to bits to go back into this place, and I’m delighted to say that Spike Chunsoft (the makers of hit visual novel series Danganronpa) made a faithful recreation of the Mystery Dungeon world; with some beautiful ascetic changes.

Watercolour Masterpiece. Pikachu and Bulbasaur by a forest lush with watercolours straight from a childs book.
Watercolour Masterpiece

Watercolour Masterpiece

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is stunningly beautiful in its depiction of the world. It’s the closest thing I’ve come to going “this is exactly what I had in my brain when I was young”. The watercolor imagery captures all that is whimsical, bright and alive in this world. It is bright without being overbearing, a brightness you could stare out at for hours without needing to avert your gaze. Thankfully there are instances in the games where you can pause for a moment to take in your surroundings. Even going so far as to have a dedicated art mode viewer on the main menus.

I’m grateful for that tiniest of little touches to take your time and appreciate the world that you’re in. It encourages a place to go and gather yourself, place your feet firmly on the ground and take your time to get to grips with everything that the game has to offer. It is deceptive in its ability to surprise you. Especially as the game starts to get into the deeper aspects of the story.

Many to one. Your team vs a load of enemies
Many to one

Not so Mysterious Dungeon

Formulaic is the kindest word that I can find to describe the gameplay, although a more accurate word would be boring. The dungeon part of Mystery Dungeon is easily the weakest part of the game. Which is unfortunate – as it is the most predominant part of the game. The premise of the mystery dungeon title is that every time you enter a new dungeon it is different from the last one you enter. This means you can only go so far to prepare for what lies ahead of you.

This has its pros and cons, naturally. Pro’s being it does keep the gameplay from being completely dragged down by the sameness of having to go through the same layouts on repeat and you will encounter different sorts of Pokemon on each run you do. Giving you more opportunities depending on rare qualities a likelihood to recruit them onto your squad for more adventures.

Cons, unfortunately, outweigh the pros. You invariably are trying to do quest markers more often than you are doing a quest to boost your rescue teams’ rank because you just can’t bear the thought of having to do any more dungeons. I was doing so many dungeons at one stage I had to take a break because I was getting headaches. That’s not the best sign in the world that your gameplay is engaging or keeps you in a rewarding loop. The items you get from dungeons are, most times, are either completely useless to your objectives or essential items that you need for dungeons; like apples.

The Kecleon Shop that you have access to in the Pokemon main square or occasionally popping up mid dungeon has an uninspired array of items. Apples are essential for longer dungeon runs, as getting hungry will invariably lead to your party fainting if you can’t get some sustenance. The shop only selling one of these a go at any one time just isn’t useful. You have to bank on the ability to either find them in dungeons as they spawn or that the shop in dungeon spawns more than just a single-use item.

What is the biggest gamble of these mystery dungeons is starting them in the first place. There are no hard and fast rules for level requirements and you will find out super quick if you are under the level required for it and with that loss comes the loss of all of your money as well as your items. So if you have had a set of equipment and are fully prepared for your dungeon you could get wiped out in one go by just having an unlucky encounter or worse, a monster house.

Silver linings in unlikely places

Auto Mode allows the player with one click to move around the dungeon
Auto mode

There are some incredible accessibility modes that more developers could do with taking on board. Some of these are unique features and others are just sheer thoughtful input created from a thoughtful development process. There is quite literally an overabundance of them. Some of which there has been no fan fair or notice through other outlets, but I can’t tell you how much these things matter for players with disabilities.

Auto Mode

Auto mode is a mode where, as the name would imply, allows your character to explore the dungeons without you needing to toggle or hold down buttons in order to explore. The auto mode only ceases when there is an enemy in sight, allowing the players to make a decision on what to do from that point on.

Move Sets

For players with Cognitive difficulties or simply new players who wouldn’t know what the best moves are. They can simply press the A button and the game will make the best decision as to what move to use in order to get the upper hands on your opponents.

Highlighted Text

One of the best things that I have seen in accessibility tools is the ability to look into highlight words by simply hovering over the words. Each is colour coded into their specific categories so they are distinct from each other at all times. This gives the player the ability to review at any time what is going on or what item will have an effect etc.

Audio Captions

Something that goes so understated in video games is the ability to read captions. Thankfully, Spike Chunsoft has been experts in their field when it comes to visual novels. All that experience comes into play with the way that they have used text in this game. Not just in the way that they have used highlight text, as per the example above. But their ability to capture sound in text to tell a story. This level of storytelling should be standard across all titles, as this is a level of care that you take to include people from all backgrounds, levels, and experiences in being able to enjoy your game fully. I can think of no higher praise than this. It is a sheer masterclass of accessibility and something that developers from all around the world can learn from.

A Storys End

Camp Corner with Wigglytuff and our protagonists
Camp Corner

There is an awful lot to like about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX. You can feel the love of the source material from the Spike Chunsoft team and the care that went into developing this game. Using their length and breadth of experiences to breathe new life into a franchise that was feared to be left in obscurity. However, even with the quality of life improvements as well as some stellar accessibility features – it doesn’t stop the game from having some fundamental flaws where it matters the most and that is in its gameplay.

It leads to a larger conversation around remakes, how close should you stay to the sources material in order to maintain its truest self? With other remakes of significance lurking around the corner like Final Fantasy VII, I’m sure this will only be the start of the debate to come. All I know is that I’d appreciate the intention but am sad for the opportunity missed to tweak some mechanics or to expand on what made the series iconic, to begin with.

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