Category: Opinions

Games as escapism during tough times

We are living in troubling times. Here in the UK we are in our third national lockdown to try and stop the spread of COVID-19, and, with no firm end-date, who knows how long it will last. It’s both a trying and tiring situation, although there are silver linings with the vaccine rollout. Bingeing on all manner of media entertainment and struggling to muster the will to regularly exercise are my two main symptoms of lockdown limbo. And I know I’m not the only one. “Normality” seems a long way away, and with the chilly winter in full flow, quality escapism provides some small relief.

This post is about comfort gaming with a good old fashioned 2D game. Continue reading

Frustration reigns in Dark Souls

An old friend of mine is a musician. He’s always been a musician. And his first solo album was… well, even if I listened beyond the opening track, I never mentally got past that first song, hilarious as it was. The album opened with an extended narration discussing the concept of chaos with a musical bed underneath. The monologue’s delivery was like a heavy academic paper, but the content was nonsense: “Like all good stories, this one begins with a great flash of light”. Really?

I mention the above because, like my friend’s debut, I got past but never over the opening of Dark Souls. I’ve played this game through twice now, once on the PS3 and once again on Switch. Both times, the opening hours were enough to sour the whole experience for me. (By the way, in case it weren’t already obvious, what follows is going to be rather complain-y. If you would prefer a more balanced take, try my previous post on Dark Souls). If you’re sticking with me, I’ll take you through my own experience with the Undead Burg, one of the opening areas of Dark Souls. Continue reading

Returning to Mario, again and again

Mario games never click with me immediately. But given enough time, I always seem to wind up back in the world of a certain moustachioed friend. That was true for Super Mario 64 and, much more recently, Super Mario Odyssey. Continue reading

8-bit reimaginings, or why I wish they all could be Blaster Master Zero (Switch)

I hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas break and finding time to relax and game. It’s a much-needed reprieve at the end of a hectic year for me, that’s for sure! Among others, one of my go-to games recently has been Blaster Master Zero on Switch, a Metroidvania remake whose source material, Blaster Master for the NES, predates the -vania part of that neologism.

For someone like me who only played on NES a mere handful of times, most of my experience with the system’s library comes from the Wii-era and the Virtual Console. At the time Nintendo graced us with many NES classics which I played and loved, but sadly the original Blaster Master was not featured on the service. Continue reading

We need to talk about Japanese videogame music with English vocals

I recently checked out an arranged album of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross music by the one and only Yasunori Mitsuda. Imagine my surprise to find that six of the ten tracks included on the album feature vocals, given that the original soundtracks – with one notable exception in Chrono Cross’s credits music – are entirely instrumental. I wouldn’t necessarily mind this, if these vocal tracks didn’t have English lyrics. Sadly, most of them do. And I’ve found it creates this strange effect of making some tracks feel like Disney songs. (Not hating on Disney by the way – they do great stuff.) At the very least the cheese factor goes up significantly. Continue reading