Category: Culture

Kingdom Hearts & Disney Nerds Rejoice!

Kingdom Hearts & Disney Nerds Rejoice!

I’m a Disney fan rather than a Kingdom Hearts fan, but I love it when my fandoms collide even if it’s not something I’m into.  If you can make it over to Tokyo Disney Resort between March 26th and June 30th you could try to book these Kingdom Hearts-themed rooms!  The doors even open with a souvenir Key that looks like Sora’s Keyblade.

Check out the rest of the photos over at WDW News Today.

Everything I played in 2018: April – June

Everything I played in 2018: April - June

Video games, I still love them… I think. No wait, I absolutely still love them! It’s just modern games that are getting on my nerves. In 2018 I played fewer total games than any year in the past and fewer “new releases” than ever before. Instead, I spent most of my time playing older titles, timeless favorites, retro games, and some grindy stuff with friends online.

It’d be impossible to rank them in typical categories like Graphics, Story, or Game-as-a-Service so in lieu of all that I’m just going to recap everything I played in 2018 (just like I did in 2012). These are just some quick thoughts on the games I spent a reasonable amount of time with, or ones that stuck with me over the months. Let’s take this one fiscal quarter at a time, continuing with Q2: April through June or The Rainy Season.

P.S. The 📅 emoji denotes a 2018 new release.

 

April

Starlit Adventures (PS4) 📅
A colorful and fun, free-to-play puzzler. It was a nice little diversion for a few hours until I hit the please-pay-for-better-scores paywall.

April was Retro Month! (PlayStation 1 & 2)
After my Dad picked up a free CRT TV I went a little heavy on old PlayStation games. I softmodded my PS2 and ripped all of the Bust A Move rhythm games to the hard drive. Muscle memory and nostalgia fueled me through all four Bust A Move games (U.S. and Japanese versions) and I also squeezed in an hour with Runabout.

I picked up a copy of Pitfall 3D from a friend on Instagram and finally gave the game all the attention it deserved… which wasn’t a lot. Like Contra, I couldn’t hang without a cheat code to give me more lives but I *did* physically get through the entire game. Ultimately, it wasn’t that memorable outside of Bruce Campbell’s one-liners but I’m glad I finally saw it through.

Finally, with Ace Combat 7 looming in the distance (and Ace Combat Infinity officially dead by this point) I set out to run through the entire series. In April I managed to play Air Combat for the very first time outside of demo discs. Coming from the arcades, it’s fairly plain and straightforward but they sure blew it out for Ace Combat 2. It might be my favorite entry in the series and establishes most of the style and feel of future titles.

Also played in April: Mad Max (PS4), Q*bert: Rebooted (PS4), Trackmania Turbo (PS4)

 

May

Ace Combat 4 (PS2)
I skipped Ace Combat 3 on my marathon because the U.S. version was stripped of most of the story content and I didn’t have the time to figure out the English fan patch that was recently released. Instead, I jumped to Ace 4, probably the tops of the series for me with outrageous speed and missions that have brought me to tears, seriously.

Ace Combat 5 (PS2)
Ace 5 was another one that was all new to me. I’ve had it for years but maybe I needed a little more time between Ace 4 and 5 because I just had to look up a mission list to separate the two. Nevertheless, it was more solid flying and shooting with even more anime sci-fi layered on top of its real-world planes.

Unfortunately, this is as far as the Ace Combat playthrough made it. I still have Ace Combat 0, 6, and Assault Horizon to get through before Ace 7 hits!

State of Decay 2 (Xbox One) 📅
With a laptop unable to run the game, I returned to the Xbox One for the first time in years! State of Decay 2 brought more and more of what I loved about the original and I spent nearly 60 hours slaying, upgrading, and managing my little communes of survivors. It didn’t hook me nearly as much as the first game but it’s well recommended in my book!

Also played in May:Banished (PC), Mercenaries (Xbox)

 

June

XCOM 2 (PS4)
As much as I have loved XCOM, all the changes that I saw in XCOM 2 rubbed me the wrong way. It also launched with a lot of bugs so I put it out of mind until it was literally given to me as part of PlayStation Plus in June. I begrudgingly started it up but even without the highly acclaimed War of the Chosen expansion I was quickly hooked.

The classic tension and expletive-inducing A.I. had my nerves on edge, and the Quick Load button at the ready. There’s still some janky edges but I was having a great time in the early Summer wrangling my ragtag band of survivors. It just got put on hold once Katy lured me back to…

Grand Theft Auto Online (PS4)
Who needs stressful and genius strategy when you can run simple missions ad nauseum to watch meters fill up!? Katy and I ventured back into GTA Online for most of the Summer and it was a blast: playing with friends, discovering all the systems that Rockstar has added over the years, and causing mayhem for the NPCs of Los Santos. It was a load of fun and a game we’ll probably dip back into again in 2019.

Also played in June: Trials Fusion (PS4)


Read ’em All

Q1: January – March ~ Q2: April through June
Q3: July through September ~ Q4: October through December

Everything I played in 2018: January – March

Everything I played in 2018: January - March

Video games, I still love them… I think. No wait, I absolutely still love them! It’s just modern games that are getting on my nerves. In 2018 I played fewer total games than any year in the past and fewer “new releases” than ever before. Instead, I spent most of my time playing older titles, timeless favorites, retro games, and some grindy stuff with friends online.

It’d be impossible to rank them in typical categories like Graphics, Story, or Game-as-a-Service so in lieu of all that I’m just going to recap everything I played in 2018 (just like I did in 2012). These are just some quick thoughts on the games I spent a reasonable amount of time with, or ones that stuck with me over the months. Let’s take this one fiscal quarter at a time starting with Q1: January through March or The Wintering Months.

P.S. The 📅 emoji denotes a 2018 new release.

 

January

Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4)
I came back for the tombs and exploration. But I was put off by how identical the gameplay was to ‘Shadow’ while at the same time adding another couple hundred piles of scrap, animal carcasses, weapon upgrades, and assorted trinkets to track down. From the very start of 2018 I was feeling SO over all of that.

The Italian Job (PS2)
I got this in a haul of PlayStation 2 games and finally gave it a shot. All these years I’d been ignoring it because of its movie tie-in but it turned out to be a fun arcade frolic a la Top Gear Dare Devil or GTI Club.

Ace Combat Infinity (PS3)
With its impending demise looming just a few months away, I was going hard on ACI early in 2018. The missions, the music, and the ridiculously gargantuan tech tree continued to enthrall me as I recorded as much of the game as possible for posterity.

Crossout (PS4)
2017’s unexpected Most Fun Game still had its hooks in me early in the new year but it was waning. Most dedicated players were using builds I didn’t find fun so I unofficially retired from the game, probably to focus more on Ace Combat Infinity.

Also played in January:  Dying Light (PS4), Disneyland Adventures (Xbox One), Tomb Raider (PS1)

 

February

X-COM: UFO Enemy Defense (PC, GOG)
While Giant Bomb continued their exploits with the newer Enemy Within expansion I went back, all the way back! The original X-COM is assuredly one tough turkey! Like, being-killed-coming-down-the-ramp-of-the-dropship tough. I only made it 6-8 hours in but I really enjoyed how hardcore it was, and finally seeing where the inspiration for Enemy Unknown/Within came from.

Contra Hard Corps (Genesis)
When Giant Bomb gets into a game I like, I have to run through it ahead of them. I never paid Hard Corps a lot of mind but delving into it now I found it as wild and unique as its Genesis counterpart, Castlevania: Bloodlines. New respect for that soundtrack too!

Metal Gear Survive (PS4) 📅
Here’s my first 2018 release and the game I *think* I spent the most time with all year. I was worried the game would be light on content and while it wasn’t nearly quite as sparse as I’d feared, it did leave something to be desired. Nevertheless, the survival was real and fueled me through more than 100 hours of exploring The Dust, crafting, and scouring for resources, and generally exploring the game’s world.

I finally got into the co-op mode and spent another 30 hours horsing around with kids from my Friends list and generally having a blast. The grinding for upgrades was daunting though and by late March I’d pretty much had my fill.

Also played in February: Zoo Keeper (DS), Dynasty Warriors 9 (PS4)

 

March

Don’t Bite Me Bro (PS4)
In my write-up I summed it up as “Mini” Gear Survive and the rest of my intro serves just as well here: Don’t Bite Me Bro! boils down the crafting, scavenging, farming, base-building, and tower defense of Survive’s single player campaign into such a surprisingly tiny and satisfying package.

Also played in March: WarioLand 4 (Game Boy Advance), Mario Pinball Land (Game Boy Advance)


Read ’em All

Q1: January – March ~ Q2: April through June
Q3: July through September ~ Q4: October through December

Because I can’t not do it, I’m back on YouTube!

Because I can't not do it, I'm back on YouTube!

Try as they may, YouTube will not stop me and my dumb videos! Way back in February some unfortunate mishaps played out and my original channel of 13 years was flagged for obliteration. I sat in the smoldering aftermath of it for pretty much the entire year, too crushed to try and pick up the pieces. One of those crazy Speed Racer kids even asked me multiple times what I was going to do but I could only deflect with “there’s just not enough time right now” and “I’d love to but…”.

Life went on, I changed jobs, we bought a house, but the loss of those videos has never stopped weighing on me. YouTube channels about video games are cheaper than a dime a dozen but I had some unique stuff on there. Moreover, I always appreciated when someone would comment that they couldn’t find a game or song or scene until I uploaded it. I was helping people in my awkward little, game-specific way and I want that back!

 

And so it finally is! Well, it’s getting there. Re-uploading over a decade of videos is going to take some time but I’ve started with the most popular and most unique stuff first: 

Dinosaur Hunting ✔️
Speed Racer: The Videogame ✔️
Super Bombad Racing videOST ✔️
Rare PlayStation Vita soundtracks ✔️

My gargantuan playthrough of R-Type Command is currently going up, one episode a day, from now through February (!!) and I’ll be peppering in shorter series and original content as often as I can. I don’t want to fill up anyone’s YouTube feed with constant posts so the best bet may be to check out my playlists page to see if your favorite thing is back up. Of course, I’d love it if you subscribed so I could one day get back to making some money, but if you find something fun, useful, or totally obscure, that’s more than enough satisfaction for me.

Thanks, as always, for taking a look!

Cooking Mama physical art-tech by Constance Ye

Some days you can’t be happier about the people you follow on Twitter because they add great stuff to your feed.  That’s how I found out about this project Constance Ye is working on!  Connie is an undergraduate student, studying Computer Science and Fine Art at Carnegie Mellon University.  She’s working on this awesome gaming art-tech featuring Cooking Mama where you can physically prepare foods along with the game.  Check out the video below or go to the whole Twitter thread here.

To see more of what Constance has created check out her blog at connieye.com and also her Github about this project.