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Video Game Reviews

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  1. Lumines Remastered

    Played 23 December 2019 – 15 January 2020 on Nintendo Switch

    It’s cool, but I’d rather just play Tetris.

  2. Picross S

    Played 12 January – 11 March 2020 on Nintendo Switch

    I love me some Picross, but they really phoned it in with the UI and controls in this one. No touchscreen support and no option to use the right stick means you can never really play one-handed, and that’s just incredibly frustrating for such a simple game.

  3. Celeste: Farewell

    Played 9 September – 23 December 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    The Progress screen in Celeste, showing full game completion, at a cost of over 23 thousand deaths and 66 hours of gameplay.

    Not many games have rewarded me with such a deep sense of accomplishment. Celeste gives me life.

  4. What Remains of Edith Finch

    Played 20 December 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    I wish I had been able to play this back in 2017, as it might have felt fresher. In a post-Breath of the Wild world I sometimes find it hard to appreciate linear experiences without wondering how much better they could be if they just let go of my hand. This game triggered that feeling a lot.

    Comparing it to Gone Home, a lot has evolved, but this game still feels stuck in the same uncanny valley: it’s not a true interactive experience as much as it is a museum exhibit. While that can be super interesting, video games seem capable of so much more. And now that Return of the Obra Dinn exists, we know that the valley can be crossed. I’m hoping that future “walking simulators” keep going in that direction.

  5. Super Mario World

    Replayed 22–28 October 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    As fun and timeless as ever. Nostalgia factor is huge with the new wireless SNES controller. But I’ll never rate this game five stars because I was a Sonic kid during the 16-bit era. No matter how many times I play it, Super Mario World will always feel somehow foreign, as if I’m still only allowed to play it for a little while at a friend’s house.

    I played more as a tourist this time. I wanted to explore more than to be challenged, and I wanted to get to 100% completion (which I’d never done before). So I used the rewind feature in the Switch emulator liberally. It’s funny how “lazy” you get once you can instantly fix your mistakes. It deeply changes the experience for some games.

  6. Super Earth Defense Force

    Played 16 October 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    This is the worst-sounding video game I’ve ever played; the sound effects are frankly ridiculous. The visual design is also quite poor and hard to parse, with enemies, bullets, and background all blending together. And the later levels are extremely punishing. No checkpoints? Okay… But is that testicle/bird final boss even supposed to be beatable by a human? I’ve never used rewind so much in any other classic title. Nintendo, bring us good SNES shoot ‘em ups, please.

  7. Mini Motorways

    Played 11–12 October 2019 on Apple Arcade

    Cool premise, but lacks depth. I hate playing armchair designer, but I think this game needed a few obvious extra features:

    • More achievements for each city. Why make lists called “Achievements” if they’re all limited to one item? I was expecting more stuff to unlock as I played.
    • A gallery of what your cities looked like at their peak, and a way to share that. When you lose, the camera zooms in, so you can’t even take a screenshot of your glorious metropolis.
    • A free build mode. Let me just play around without risk of failure, and let me place buildings myself. The more I played, the more I wanted to just put in a cheat code and build without restrictions, SimCity style.
  8. Card of Darkness

    Played 28 September – 9 October 2019 on Apple Arcade

    This game is awesome and what phone games should have evolved into all along. Loved it.

    Now I’m only missing the hidden achievement and I’m sure it’s got something to do with that fart card probably

  9. Return of the Obra Dinn

    Played 16–18 August 2019 on Mac

    A man's skeleton lies on the deck of a large 19th century ship; it's seen from the first person view of someone holding a pocket watch bearing a skull design.

    A masterpiece of game design. An impossible combination of brilliant ideas and flawless execution that is so unlike any other game I’ve ever played, it’s hard to understand how it could even be conceived.

  10. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game

    Played 15 July 2019 on Mac

    A charming little game that got me to smile a lot for the duration of a well-spent hour.

  11. Hollow Knight

    Played 21 June – 1 July 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    The Knight visits the Grubfather, who is surrounded by his happy family of Grubs.

    I just knew that as soon as I booted this game for the first time, I would fall down the rabbit hole and be completely transfixed. And so it happened. One of the most rewarding exploration games I have ever played.

  12. Donut County

    Played 21 March 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    Is this a dig at Silicon Valley techbros? I love it. Reminded me of an old New Yorker cartoon:

    “Yes, the planet got destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders.”

    Short and sweet, full of personality. The kind of game that makes me want to make games.

  13. Undertale

    Played 30 September 2018 on Mac

    Brilliant in mechanics and narrative. Absolutely fantastic soundtrack. Got a bit too high on its own supply at the end there, which left me somewhat emotionally detached. That disconnect might just have been due to expectations, though: I was anticipating a more adult-ish, less “anime” overarching feeling. But I guess anime is real.

  14. The Witness

    Played 22 July 2018 on Mac

    I played it in fits and starts, but I was charmed every time, and always envious of the brilliant ideas on display. The design is just so economic and straightforward, yet presents so many possibilities for variation. Deserves to be in some design museum’s permanent collection.