I Am Weak and a Liar: The Stardew Valley on Switch Edition

Stardew Valley

I like to believe I have some tiny amount of self-restraint, but I really don’t. My monthly game is likely going to be Stardew Valley (and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions), finally available on a handheld. I tried it when it was on PC and while I enjoyed the game, because of the Harvest Moon-esque aspects of the game and dungeon-crawler-y bits I knew that it would never be the sort of game I’d be willing to sit at my computer for several hours and play. I also knew that if it ever were available on a handheld device, I’d be all over it.

I’m not going to lie, it’s likely a Animal Crossing substitute since it has not yet been announced for being on the Switch. I can see that I’ll probably spend a pretty fair amount of time playing it though, which I guess is sort of the point. It’s not really finishing off anything on the backlog and simply adding more games. But Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga is on the backlog, just as the Gameboy Advanced version, which I’ll just update to be the 3DS version instead.

I didn’t include any PC games on the backloggery because that list would simply be 200 games long. I’d end up overwhelmed and never playing a single one of them. One day, I might put them on there, but for now, I resign in the fact that I am a terrible consumer and will keep buying new games… even if I don’t need them.

Cat Quest!

Cat Quest

There’s so much to be said about a simple RPG game, but one that involves cats is likely to get my attention. I stumbled upon Cat Quest purely by accident while browsing the App Store for something new (It’s currently available on Steam, iOS, and on Android).

The game has a simple premise, you’re a cat who lose your sister and you’re trying to get her back. Except there are monsters everywhere, including (gasp) dragons (dundundun)! So you get a little bit of intro and it teaches you how to play the game and cast spells and all that fancy stuff. So here’s a quick (spoiler free!) review.

Admittedly this wasn’t on my backlog list and for that I feel kind of terrible, but I haven’t picked up any new games and will be working on something from the backlog next.

The Good

It’s easy to play, even on the phone, with movement being very Diablo-esque (click to move or point-and-drag to move) so that makes it super easy on the touch screen. It’s really fun and I enjoyed the different battles and learning the different methods of accomplishing something in the game. There are a lot of funny little side quests and interesting things to discover and explore. I enjoyed going back to certain dungeons and caves after I first cleared them to defeat monsters again (only easier, faster, or more efficient) or clear harder content. There are a lot of cute jokes throughout the game, including a lot of cat puns which will make you laugh or roll your eyes (or both). There are some throwbacks to The Gentlebros other game (Slashy Hero), some really terrible-hilarious puns, and some of the most amazingly awful gear imaginable. The gear system is probably the most memorable thing to me because instead of clogging up your ever-expanding bag with copies of the same gear, it upgrades based on the newly looted/gambled piece of gear. If you had a level 6 item and get a level 8 item in a chest, it becomes a higher level version of the same thing.

The Bad

It’s short. It’s way too short for my liking. I really wanted to do so much more. At a certain point there’s a level 200 cave and I was able to clear it at about level 89. It was really fun for the first 70-80 levels, after that it seemed like I needed to grind a little bit to be able to move onto the next area. The story worked in terms of creating mystery and trying to get you to unlock a little bit at a time. Once it came to the final fight (there’s a warning letting you know you can’t turn back) it’s somewhat confusing and a bit emotional. Even after technically finishing the game, I went back to make sure that I took out some of the harder random things (like Cathulu). After about 15 hours, there wasn’t anything left to do. And that made me sad. There is no vending. You can’t get rid of stuff you never intend to use and there’s no way to sort based on item level/attack/shield/etc. But thanks to not having a lot of gear choices, it’s pretty simple to find what you’re looking for.

Overall

The game was totally worth the money and if it ever makes it’s way to Switch I might pick it up there too. I’m hoping that The Gentlebros adds more (like the alluded to dog area). It was very cute and exactly what I needed while dealing with some sadness and depression. I’d say pick it up because it’s super cute and will be fun to kill some time (or if you need a break from more time-intensive games). Or you just love cat puns.

GW2 Path of Fire: Clear!!

Need to max out my Firebrand skills so I can test it out on my Guardian!

Finished all the story quests of the new Guild Wars 2 expansion, Path of Fire. There’s still a lot more to be done, but for now at least I’m going to revel in having cleared the story missions so quickly. Whoo!

Stuff I still need to do:

  • Get my jackal mount
  • Max out hero points on at least one of my characters, probably Firebrand
  • Do all the Heart quests from the new dessert maps and Season 3 maps
  • Wait for Season 4 to start!

Overall I thought this expansion was a LOT better than Heart of Thorns… though that might just be because I truly hated the jungle maps. Grinding for masteries was just awful, and I hated that every fight in the jungle took frigging forever because of how tanky everything was and how enemies would respawn almost as soon as they went down. Navigating the jungle was also just such a pain, with lots of tight corridors (meaning you HAD to aggro enemies everywhere you went) and the layered maps were the worst. Practically every event was a group event, and by group I mean 5+. Even Hero Points were usually either locked behind a Champion fight or navigating the truly awful jungle layers, often aggroing tons and tons of horrible monsters everywhere. AUGH.

The dessert in comparison is MUUUUUUUCH better. Hero Points are back to being mostly solo-able, with the occasional Champion that can be downed with as few as two players (or even soloed if you’re well-geared). Gaining masteries also doesn’t feel like a colossal chore, and instead feels like it happens naturally without much grinding. Heart quests are back so it’s fun to open up areas of the map again and have things to work towards besides events. Overall it just feels a lot more casual, and I say this as a good thing, because I am over thirty years old now and I just do not have the time or patience for MMO grinding anymore thankyouverymuch.

Maybe my biggest niggle about the expac is the jumping. Anet sure do love their jumping puzzles, which sucks because the jumping in this game (and all MMOs, let’s be real) is rubbish. The controls are too slippery, and the places where you can and can’t jump seem mushy and not defined. This has been the case since GW2’s inception, but with the introduction of the rabbit mount (!!!) the jumping frustration is worse than ever. Sigh.

Oh well. It’s still brilliant and fun, so let’s goooooo!!

Mario & Rabbids – The Slump

Rabbid Peach vs Peach

Now that I’m back stateside and out of school for a few weeks, I’ve got some time to spend to get through some games (hopefully). I was playing some Mario & Rabbids while I was in Australia, but it seemed to be more fun while the (now) fiance was around, even though he wasn’t helping or participating in my decision-making. It felt more entertaining to play with someone else there to comment or laugh at Rabbid Peach.

I tried playing on the plane and though that was probably a bad decision, it took me 11 turns (out of the Great’s 7) to clear a level. And it was putting me to sleep. There might have been several things contributing to this, but it also just might be me hitting that point I often do in games after the “cute and new” factor wears off. I’m going to keep pushing through and trying to finish, but as of right now Destiny 2 is looking mighty tempting for PS4. But also Final Fantasy IX, which has special pricing right now.

Doldrums

Having some serious case of FF12 fatigue. I am around the 75% mark but I’m just not feeling it at all anymore. I tried breaking up story sections with Hunts, but to be quite honest those are just tedious as all heck. It was fine for the PS2 era when open-world games weren’t a dime or dozen, but nowadays, having to go to the hunting board, accept the hunts, speak to the quest giver, hunt down the thing, and then return to the quest giver, all without being able to set waypoints on the minimap, is just way too tedious. I’ve been on a break from it for a while and I feel like I really have to start kicking myself back into things and at least trying to clear the story before this game ends up being another one of those I-forget-where-I-was-so-better-start-all-over deals.

I’ve also run into a huge brick wall in Sonic Mania. I’m currently doing Hydro City Zone which, as you can tell by its name, is mostly underwater. Lemme tell you, I don’t know of anything I hate more in all of platforming history than Sonic’s underwater mechanics. You can’t swim freely, you can only “run” along the bottom, but you also have this floaty/laggy jump which means platforming takes longer as well.

What’s fun about Sonic games? Going fast and blazing through loops, right? Being underwater has a ton of slow, plodding sections where you’re just waiting for moving platforms to match up so you can slowwwwwly jump across where you will have to wait for the next set. And if you fall, have fun starting all over. Heaven help you if you happen to be too close to the wall and the platforms insta-kill you.

Did I also mention that Sonic can’t breathe underwater so you’ll die if you don’t come up for air fast enough? Yeah. Life sucks.

September game: Sonic Mania

I probably shouldn’t have bought a platformer, let alone a Sonic game. I love Sonic, don’t get me wrong, but I am just awful at them, so it has always been, so it always and forever shall be. The odds of completing this are… not great? I mean at least since it’s a “modern” Sonic game, it saves after clearing zones, so a game over doesn’t dump me all the back at the start. Still though, what are the odds I’ll ever collect all the Chaos Emeralds to see the super secret bonus levels?

Whatever though, IT’S SONIC, I couldn’t not get it.

Currently my save is right before the Stardust Speedway Zone. I love nearly everything about this game so far. I was a bit disappointed in some of the bosses, they swing between way too easy (Big Squeeze, Shiver Saw) to frustratingly hard (Heavy Shinobi). The ones in between are fine, but these extremes sort of put a damper on things.

The bulk of my Sonic memories come from Sonic 2 on the Genesis, so it’s nice to see the remade levels. My only gripe is Chemical Plant, which I hated back in the day and HAAAAATE now as a thirty-something adult who doesn’t have the time or patience for annoying level design anymore. You know that part after the checkpoint where you’re put underwater and have to painstakingly wait for the moving platforms to match up so you can slowwwwly jump your way back up to the top? And then once you get to the top, it’s ridiculously easy to fall through the fake platforms back to the bottom where you have to slowwwwwly do it again? Yeah. That sucked as a kid and it sucks now as an adult. Whyyyyyyy

This was a real conversation between me and my better half:

Me: Sonic was always the worst platformer
DK: You’ve been playing Mania all day
Me: I know, it sucks
DK: Wanna play—
Me: Can’t, playing Sonic

I think that sums up my feelings towards this game, and Sonic as a whole. I love it, and also I hate it, and also I love to hate it.

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

My FF12 party.

I’ve been slowly winding my way through FF12:TZA. By slowly I mean slowly. I’ve had this game pretty much since it released in mid-July, but I’m still only just over halfway through. I’m currently in the ancient city Girguvegan. I didn’t put much thought into my classes, so my license boards are kind of a mess. Luckily, that’s not something a bit of grinding can’t overcome.

It’s been such slow going because, for starters, I already technically beat this game ages ago when it released on PS2. Not much as changed, so there’s not much keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Not only that, but can I just come out and say that it feels like a lot of this game is a headache just for the sake of switching things up. There is no reason, for example, for areas like the Feywood to have a garbled minimap. None at all! You can see the regular map with no problem, so the only thing a garbled minimap does is make you stop and open the map every three steps to figure out your orientation. It’s not fun, it sucks.

I also cannot for the life of me figure out why they didn’t add gambits for “If Ally = Unbuffed, Then Buff.” I mean I guess that would make it too easy to keep allies constantly buffed, but uh, who cares? There are gambits for “If Ally = Buffed, Then…” so why not the opposite?

I still love this game to death and 12 is definitely one of my favorite FFs of all time, but the flaws are really starting to stand out during the midgame doldrums.

Where to even begin…

There are too many games in the backlog, honestly, which makes picking where to start it’s own overwhelming task. Then I see the things that redlandcannibal is gaming about and now I want to buy more games.

Right now I’m trying to get through Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which didn’t seem at all interesting to me originally. I never played X-COM and this is touted as the Mario and Rabbids version of X-COM. But after a bunch of folks on twitter and on some forums I frequent mentioned how good it was, I figured I’d pick it up. I haven’t regretted it yet.

I would say it’s more like Fire Emblem in cuteness, but never having played X-COM it’s hard for me to make the comparison. It is a turn-based strategy game. There are lots of culturally relevant jokes and adorable moments that make me laugh. There’s a lot to explore and discover, even after you’ve played through the different worlds.

This one is the one I’m going to strive to finish first, off the backlog. We’ll see how I fare.