Final Fantasy XV

If you ever wanted to go on a coming of age adventure where you are going around with your friends just exploring the world, Final Fantasy XV the game for you. FFXV has a very special place in my heart. It is a game I regularly go back to just to be with those boys […]

Final Fantasy XV

Katamari Damacy ReRoll

Katamari is the most peculiar yet meditative experience you can have on Nintendo Switch. The plot is simple: The King of the Cosmos destroyed the sky in a drunken stupor. You are tasked with recreating the cosmos using everything you can roll. With a stellar jazzy soundtrack & an overall chill experience, it’s an absolute […]

Katamari Damacy ReRoll

Afterparty

Check out my coverage on 100 Word Gaming

100 Word Gaming Reviews

Have you ever wondered or worried about what would happen if you died? Well Afterparty takes the fear straight out of going to hell in this comedic yet sincere romp through the afterlife with your best friend. Your only way of going home? Beat Satan himself in a drinking game! It is truly hilarious.

I played Afterparty on Xbox One and on controller, and I found the controls to be a little bit inconsistent at the best of times and there are quick time events that would not suit people who have dexterity issues, but these are relatively slow events.

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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 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.

Game Accessibility Standard – A Review Visual

Example of visual checklist for accessibility reviews

As per my last post, I wanted to upload an example image of how reviewers can cover key points within a game that doesn’t necessarily require experience with the disabilities in question.

Try to remember that all of this is to aid the reader to see if there is even the first instance of accessibility tools being present in a game to begin with.

As you’re review or first preview might be the first window that a player has into seeing if the tool they require to play the game is present. These information drops will never be substitute for if these tools are any “good” but it is a way forward for us to normalise the process of this information being available.

There will always be space, scope, and voices for the people who will experience these features on the day to day and should then talk about it. Indeed, these people should be given priority. However, this is an exercise in knowledge transfer and normalisation. That doesn’t need to be any specific voice or a format.

We need to start trying to go with the purpose of getting the information out there rather than focusing on it being 100% right. Because by in large your audiences are gonna help you to dictate what information is important for them to have. Some may prefer long form round ups like Courtney Craven’s over at VG247, or a slightly more streamlined approach such as OllyWrites (tba! You’ll see soon).

It’s not going to be down to any one person to make this happen, but it is going to be down to every single person to normalise the information being shared.

https://www.change.org/p/commitment-from-gaming-journalism-outlets-to-cover-accessibility-in-games

https://myspecious.com/2020/03/29/accessibility-criteria-for-video-games-introducing-the-dvcm/

Secret of Mana – Why I’m excited about the remake.

In August 1993, the game was released initially as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan on the Super Famicom (SNES) but sold outside Japan as Secret of Mana. Now, as of 2017 Square Enix is has decided to remake the beloved series which will be released in North America on February 15, 2018.

Earlier this summer, a Mana collection containing three pillars of the Mana theme; Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3.  This was Japanese exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Now the second game in the series is headed to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita as well as Steam.

According to Famitsu, this is a full remake with full voice-overs, a new musical arrangement, other new elements like upgraded gameplay and graphics. It will also have local multiplayer on all platforms. All sounds so far so good, right?

Well, with the launch of the SNES Classic launched at the end of this year I’m not too sure. If you were one of the lucky ones, who got these hands of one of these elusive mini consoles you will already have access to the legendary RPG. One of the charming things about the SNES Classic will find that, among other things, the most exciting inclusions was the inclusion of the range of JRPGS. One of the things about the SNES Classic that I love is that its entire library of games has lasted the test of time, so they’re still great today. There are very few games on the consoles roster that I wouldn’t play, which for me was a more enticing prospect than the original NES mini.

So, I’m reminded of how good Secret of Mana is with the SNES mini, but I was struck by how much it could benefit from an update. I’m, personally, not concerned about the new art direction that it’s taking. Chibi style is something that I’ve always had a soft spot for that style, and while there seem to be some odd texture choices, it’s not enough for me to be super concerned.

This is primarily because I’m so excited that there will be a new generation of players who will be able to experience this incredible game with no significant changes to its narrative other than its visual aesthetics. I have a similar feeling of optimism surrounding the remake of final fantasy 7 (although, I’m less pleased with it being episodic, but I digress). So, for now, I’m going to trust that we’re going to get the remake it so richly deserves.

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Love is Like a Cocktail – Episode 1 – 6

Quiet but capable, Mizusawa Chisato is a beautiful leader who has a secret that only her husband, Sora, knows about: she loves to drink, and when she’s drunk, she becomes exceptionally adorable! What bliss will Sora’s cocktail bring tonight? “Yoidere,” the drunken comedy cocktail about Japan’s most lovey-dovey couple.

This is how Crunchyroll describes this quietly wonderful anime short based on the web series of the same name. The anime details the lifeof Mizusawa Chisato the chief of a successful PR company and her househusband Sora. Chisato is the epitome of the working professional, in the first episode helping her co-worker Koharu finish off her workload as part of her role as being Chief. Straight through to chapter 5 where she works late nights to complete adownload presentation for a project proposal in work. She’ll often go above and beyond the call of duty and has injured herself in the process but is reluctant to get the assistance of others. She is focused and dedicated to her work ensuring that she can provide for her family. Her focus has the opposite effect than intended, where she can subsequently come across as a little cold. However, for those who know her true nature like Sora, knows she is very gentle and sweet it just takes a little bit of encouragement for it to show.

That encouragement comes in the form of a drink; it turns Chisato from someone who is quite quiet and reserved to someone who is far more articulate with her feelings. However, she reserves this part of herself for her husband, Sora. Articulating early on in the anime that she doesn’t like to get drunk around anyone else other thank Sora, as she knows the alcohol makes her a bit funny.

Sora acknowledges this shortcoming about his wife, merely saying that “some people find it difficult to express themselves without it.” This doesn’t mean that Sora is underhanded in the way he conducts himself with his wife. In the third episode, download (1)(appropriately called Cinderella) when Chisato has a fall in work and has to be carried home by Sora after they check on her foot, she asks for a drink and Sora insists that it’s probably not a good idea. I won’t spoil anything from here, but Chisato doesn’t quite get her way. He is never in any way forceful with her when she is slightly inebriated but continuously dotes upon her as he would when she was sober.

Sora and Chisato’s relationship makes this anime. There is something so wholly relateable about their relationship and something that is legitimately genuine about the characters writing and affection. You know for a fact this is a series created with a lot of love and understanding of what the dynamics of marriage is like (well, ideally).

That ebb and flow, the give and take is a grand thing to watch. At 3 minutes long per episode, it gives that punch to the narrative that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s an anime that has a level of self-awareness to it – and it doesn’t outstay its welcome, leaving you with just enough of a longing for more.

Watch Love is Like a Cocktail at Crunchyroll http://www.crunchyroll.com/love-is-like-a-cocktail #crunchyroll via @Crunchyroll

Animal Crossing : Pocket Camp Review

Animal Crossing has always had the same appeal to me as the Harvest Moon series. It’s like good comfort food; it’s regular, consistent and expected. There are no surprises and satisfies a need that I have of getting lost for a few hours doing meaningful tasks in a world that is not my own. This need for getting the comfort food I’m so used to is the reason why I’m so conflicted about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

camping experience 2

I started with the Animal Crossing series late, as I never had a Nintendo 64 or a GameCube growing up (my family was a Playstation household growing up – bar handhelds). So I missed the original Animal Crossing, and my first fling with the series was with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo DS and it was love at first play. I loved the character style, the size of the map, how you interacted with the characters and the overall flow of the game. It has a Sims or Harvest Moon effect – where you tell yourself you’re only going to play an hour max of it and suddenly it’s 4 am.

So I was equal parts thrilled and concerned when Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a mobile version of Animal Crossing. The one thing that I didn’t want was it to be completely overrun with prompts to hand over my money to get apples from a tree. (You can find more about my thoughts on microtransactions over at Noobist.com http://noobist.com/gaming/microtransactions-questioning-noise/) It turns out that those fears are only half realised.

camp and chill

When you first start out in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’re greeted by the regular faces. You’ll be first greeted by K.K. Slider, and then Isabelle, who’ll get you up and running in your campsite. From then on, everything goes mostly as expected; you’ll be befriending neighbourly animals, collecting fruit, hunting bugs, and customising your campsite & minivan. Most of these events are set up via timers, so you can only do a set amount of things in a certain amount of time. This means that there isn’t as much of a time commitment so its perfect for waiting for a bus or queuing for your shopping but it isn’t so suited for more extended play sessions.

There are things you can do to extend your time should you have extra time to kill. For instance, fishing can be completed in one of two ways. Firstly, is the traditional way where you go from area to area catching fish with a rod. Or you can skip the fishing for a net which catches multiple types of fish at once the catch is (ha!) that it costs leaf tickets. This is where the game begins to get a bit cash happy as this is the games premium currency.

So, for those who unwittingly spent their tickets early on in the game during setup – I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Leaf tickets are a strategy in themselves, a balance of what you want versus what you’re willing to wait for. You can acquire Leaf Tickets in-game at the beginning with relative ease given the stretch goal systems. They give you tickets readily and freely in the beginning just for getting simple tasks done. But the good times don’t last forever I’m afraid.

There become barriers to entry to specific areas like the ore mining camp without payment of some leaf tickets. Or having to pay for trees to regrow, fishing nets, upgrading your bays to purchase more than one piece of furniture at a time. The list gets long and endless, and as a result, loses its sweetness. It forgets that spark that made it go to comfort food, something that you can sit down and relax with to something that is more a convenience snack. Enough to keep you going, but not enough to fill the void.

That’s the best way of summing up what Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is something to play when you’re just casually waiting for a bus or a way to pass a little bit of time. However, trying to get the full-bodied experience of Animal Crossing game will not be found here, or at least not without serious investment.