A brief life update

Emphasis on the brief, but it’s about time I shared the reason this blog has been somewhat quiet this past month or so, and it may continue for a while. I’m currently nearing the end of my PhD, with hopefully just a few short months to go before I finally submit. I’ve always worked to deadlines throughout the PhD, but being in the final stretch has meant being stricter than usual with my time so I can finish sooner rather than later – theses have a habit of stretching on and on if you let them.

I started this blog at almost the same time as my PhD, a (mostly) stress-free space where I could practice and develop mad writin’ skillz beyond the realm of academese. Of course my writing skills were and still are irredeemably poor, but the blog has served me well as far as stress relief goes. (It’s also been terrible in terms of procrastination, but that’s another story!)

What about going forward? Well, despite its beginnings as a PhD distracton, I hope to keep the blog alive long after the PhD is done and to post regularly in the meantime too; basically nothing will change. At least, that’s the plan! I just wanted to give an explanation for why I’ve posted less regularly recently, and if the trend of fewer posts continues then at least you’ll have an idea why. I’ll continue to cajole Maya into contributing posts during dry patches, and there are other goals too: more podcasts, reviving Weird Video Wednesday, so we’ll see how those pan out.

There's also my plan to monetise this blog... hang on, did I write that out loud? Pre-order your Best of Very Very Gaming 2018 today for 50% off!

There is also my plan to monetise the site. Pre-order today and get a whopping 50% off the best of Very Very Gaming content in 2019!

Whatever lies are in store, let me take the opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who reads our blog. It’s a privilege to know and be part of such a passionate and vibrant community of videogame bloggers, and I’m eternally grateful to those who’ve read, shared and commented on Very Very Gaming these past three years. Responses and correspondence from readers is the most gratifying part of any form of writing, so thank you all again for making blogging so rewarding and fun!

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Retro compilationing: Sega Mega Drive Collection (PS2)

I’m sorry. There, I said it. Sometimes life gets in the way of regular blogging, you know? I feel bad because I’ve found the time to play lots of games recently – but games are quicker and easier to play than they are to write about in my experience!

So between lengthy play sessions with Xenoblade Chronicles X, various other Wii U games and a replay of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, I picked up Midway Arcade Treasures 3 for the original Xbox. I’m not going to discuss that here, but it set me off thinking about other compilations I own and what makes a good retro/classic game compilation. Sega, Capcom, Atari, Namco, Taito, Midway – repeated offenders during the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era, the lot of them, so there’s plenty of these out there to talk about. Continue reading

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Deep Fear (Saturn) – great music, awful voice acting

What is Deep Fear, in a nutshell? It’s a Resident Evil knock-off released in Japan and Europe in 1998, and actually the final Sega Saturn game to be released here in Europe before Sega shut up shop. Set in an underwater military base, the core gameplay is extremely Resi-like – using tank controls you navigate complex environments, fend off monsters, manage your ammo and solve arcane puzzles. Deep Fear’s one unique twist is an oxygen meter which requires you to find computer terminals to re-oxygenate areas where the oxygen is low. It’s a simple but effective mechanic which adds extra tension to exploring.

I have a soft spot for horror games of the tank-control-survival variety, and Deep Fear is very good at what it does. It’s not the most riveting game; I picked up the game about a year ago and put in a few hours with it before getting distracted and moving on. But despite having played for a short time, and the game being rather generic, there are two specific aspects of Deep Fear that make it extremely memorable and almost endlessly fascinating (to me anyway). First is the beautifully produced and composed music, while the second is the utterly abominable voice acting. Continue reading

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Introducing… Wii U!

I know what you’re thinking here – it’s barely been six months since we got our PS3, and now it’s all in with another console? And not just any console, a modern console. Slow down and get me off this crazy train, am I right? All I can say is thank God we didn’t go ahead and officially name this blog “Very Very Gaming 1995-2010”. That would’ve made this post so much more awkward. Even so, clearly between the Wii U and PS3, the remit of Very Very Gaming is expanding into new-er territory; I hope no one will mind. And anyway, it was a birthday present! Continue reading

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Final Fantasy VIII (PS1) – a broken game?

I’ve had a long history from Final Fantasy VIII. I played it when it first came out on PC only to get stuck somewhere on the third disc (in all fairness I was only 10 years old at the time). A few years later with a better grasp of VIII’s systems I started over and made it to the final boss. Here however I was defeated – beating the final boss’s various forms proved impossible. I was forced to download a save file from the internet with every characters’ stats maxed out just to see the ending. Over the years since I’ve played chunks of Final Fantasy VIII a couple of times, never to the end and more often than not just to enjoy Triple Triad. If only younger me had known that the game can essentially be played as an interactive novel – seriously! No random encounters, comfortably easy bosses and over-powered characters, and with little to no grinding at all! It’s the special, broken magic of FFVIII. Continue reading

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Shitty platforming in Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)

These past few weeks I’ve become very intimate with the Game oveR screen in Ninja Gaiden Black on the original Xbox. I was already aware of its reputation of being hard as nails. What I wasn’t expecting is the plaforming, which is… utter shit. It pains me to say it, because platforming is not a huge part of this game – 10% of the levels? 5%? – but so far I’ve come across several platforming challenges where the game has taken more than its fair share of the piss.

Look, I get it. It’s trying to look cool, to be Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which came out just a few months before Ninja Gaiden. And there are moments when Ninja Gaiden pulls it off. But there are moments that are just plain awful. Continue reading