Hello to all of you readers out there, new and old. I appreciate you all taking the time to check out my blog – it’s not always easy to find the time to read and digest articles online, so I truly do appreciate you spending your time on mine.
I’ve not always had the blog though; prior to this, most of my online work could be found at Jumpcut Online, with an article also published via Nintendad during the early days of my blogging adventure.
More recently, I’ve begun to write for Nintendo Life too. I’ve promised/threatened (delete as applicable) to collect all of my non-blog work in one place for a while now – and it seems that there’s no time like the present. So, in mostly chronological order, here’s all of the work I’ve done in 2019 outside of my own site, with links in each section’s title.
My very first article for Jumpcut covered one of my favourite games of the decade – the Yahtzee-with-Kaiju fun that is King of Tokyo. Created by Richard Garfield – also responsible for kickstarting an entirely new card game format (the Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game as they’re sometimes known) with the design of Magic: The Gathering – the game is a fast, simple and very fun experience with some wonderful art and components. Accessible and family friendly, it’s a great game with some excellent expansions and spin-offs, not least the slightly more complex King of New York.
Next up was my tribute to top down car combat game Mashed, on PS2. Quite possibly the game I spent most hours playing on PS2, it’s a wonderfully straightforward and highly addictive multiplayer game, the type that you don’t see much of any more. Well worth finding a copy of you still have access to ways of playing PS2 and original Xbox games.
Many games describe themselves as relaxing, but still have fail states, danger or frustrating design elements. Yonder is a special kind of game; an RPG that features no danger of any kind, yet allows an awful lot of freedom to explore and tackle gentle quests however the player chooses to. It’s a remarkably pleasant, chilled out experience and it still feels like there’s nothing out there quite like it.
Despite releasing in 2001, the rhythmic, synaesthesia-based retro-futurism of Rez still feels as fresh now as it did 18 years ago. Partly that’s because updates have brought it into HD and now even VR, but it’s also testament to the strength of the original concept; an on-rails shooter that adds layers to visuals and sound effects as you progress. The soundtrack is a masterpiece and, despite its age, is another element that still resonates as strongly today as it did upon release. Unquestionably one of my favourite games of all time.
The early, pre-3D arcade racers had bags of charm and a very specific style, but the march of progress saw them left behind as realism became the focus of the most popular racing games. Horizon Chase Turbo takes us back to the glory days of OutRun, Top Gear and Lotus Turbo Challenge with a beautifully colourful, content-packed experience. A great, synth heavy soundtrack by Barry Leitch, a legend who also scored some of the aforementioned racing titles, is the cherry on a very moreish cake.
Cute little indie platform game, ported to Switch from its original home on mobile, Super Phantom Cat is a charming and colourful title with some really clever mechanics. Cute and fun; I enjoyed this one!
Stylishly stark visuals with lashings of red characterise the look of OMG Zombies!, a game in which you’re tasked with sniping entire hordes of zombies with as little ammo as possible. An unusual, original game that – with its randomised setups on each level – can sometimes feel a little too dependent on the luck of the draw and, at times, repetitive too. Nonetheless, an interesting idea in a game that at least tries to do something different.
An odd little game that answers the question no one asked: what if Cthulhu worked in an office? A great concept that can feel a little half-baked at times, with some odd difficulty spikes and an unforgiving opening level. Again, points for trying something different – but it’s a shame it’s not more fully fleshed out.
More zombies? They spread so easily, don’t they? This time though, your only defence against the undead is your building’s elevator – residents don’t fight back, but need rescuing! An odd little time management game that is incredibly basic from an audiovisual point of view and far too brief, but the concept still feels somewhat repetitive despite the short length of the game. Another interesting failure, unfortunately.
A simple, minimalist puzzle game of lining up combos of coloured cubes, Box Align is a treat that can be oddly soothing, despite puzzles that can veer into the areas of trial and error. A lovely, ambient soundtrack and a great sense of satisfaction when completing a puzzle give this one a bigger appeal than you may expect, given its no nonsense, minimal aesthetic.
Saddled with an unfortunately unwieldy title, Dustoff Heli Rescue II evokes 80s classics such as Choplifter, with helicopters, small side scrolling stages and hostage rescuing (amongst othermission types). The voxel based visuals evoke Minecraft, but the levels are somewhat restrictive and can be overly punishing in design. There’s a lot to like here, but it’s not entirely successful in its execution.
A very challenging platformer with a monochrome, Game Boy-esque aesthetic, Awesome Pea offers a lot of tough stages to traverse, with some level design that can feel unfair, especially as you’re kicked back to the beginning of a stage if you make one tiny mistake. It’s Super Meat Boy for vegetarians, but not for the faint of heart.
For the 40th Anniversary of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, I wrote about the series and what it means to me. Jumpcut posted an excerpt that linked back to this blog – so this entry’s a bit Inceptiony.
A weird hybrid of RPG and puzzle game, Darkest Hunters feels like it could do with more of a tutorial than it has. A great little game with a lot to like, if you can get your head around the unusual mechanics.
So far my last article for Jumpcut, I ended back where I began – with a board game review. This one’s an evolving co-operative game that adds layers of mechanics and complexity the more you play. Easy to grasp, Zombie Kidz Evolution may be a little too simplistic for adult gamer groups but is a perfect step for families looking for a little more depth in their games than they may be used to.
So far my only work for Nintendad, my Baba is You review found the game to be a wonderfully original creation with some dazzlingly brilliant stage design. A very simple concept that is incredibly satisfying to play.
My first review for Nintendo Life was a look at the first console adaptation of hugely popular childrens book series, Beast Quest.
Next, a look at twin stick shooter Xeno Crisis, which – somewhat magically – has also been released on the Mega Drive/Genesis.
My third Nintendo Life review covered Skybolt Zack, a platform game with colour based combo mechanics.
Review number four for Nintendo Life is Bee Simulator, a slice of life tale about, yep, a bee.
Which brings us up to date so far. I may well continue to update this article with further links as and when I have more work published elsewhere, but – as if my daily schedule of articles isn’t enough – you definitely have plenty to read there if you haven’t already checked those out before. I hope you enjoy them!
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