Presents of Mind

So, it was my birthday last month, but I don’t celebrate it these days like “normal” people do. I tend to just wake up and be thrilled to be breathing, move on and let a new year pass hopefully without any bad stuff occurring. Cake is optional these days (Hey, diet? You doing OK?). I also don’t do presents unless I get surprised with one, but this year, I decided to pick up a few things for myself with a bit of extra money I had left over. A little retail therapy, if you like. It’s been quite a year or few years, is all I’ll say about that. Anyway, here’s a small list of what I got myself:

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“I can stop anytime I want to…”

I wanted to cut back on the caffeine and someone suggested trying mixing chicory with coffee, so I went with Community’s 100% chicory, as I have a few large canisters of coffee here and I like experimenting when I get the chance to do so. Finding the correct mixture for my tastes was an interesting thing as well, but I did try a pot of pure chicory first but found it a bit too strong. Well, that was my fault, but it did remind me of some of my first attempts to make coffee some decades back where one person liked it and another had her eyeballs practically leave her skull. Let’s just say I got a lot better at the making coffee thing since then.

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Review: SEGA AGES Thunder Force AC (Switch)

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Memories, Golden Space Roast Edition…

1990’s Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis game, Thunder Force III was such a great and very challenging entry in the series that it got an enhanced arcade version in Japan called Thunder Force AC, which has now come back as the latest SEGA AGES release on Nintendo Switch ($7.99). It’s a game I used to play along with a ton of other space shooters on the Genesis as well as developer M2’s second enhanced port of a Thunder Force title (Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar) that’s a must-buy.

You get a flawless version of the game with the new ability to play with three other ships from other titles in the series (you’ll need to play a bit to get to three of them), and the game is another example on a fine example of M2 making a good game even more stellar on Nintendo’s platform. At the time it was released, the game was quite the spectacle with its parallax scrolling, some fancy warping effects, plus a few other neat visual tricks. Oh, and the music was (and is) perfection and thankfully, you get a music player function in this version.

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Dungeon of the Endless: Living Up To Its Name, Now On PS4 & Switch

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Sony is late in posting the game on PSN, so it’s Nintendo to the rescue. No worries, as the game should look the same across all systems,

Way back in 2014, I played and really enjoyed Amplitude Studios’ brilliant Dungeon of the Endless on PC, scoring it an A (95%) and going through it a few times, as it was yes, literally endless. I recall asking a PR person repping the title if it was ever coming to consoles and recall hearing it was coming to Xbox One at some point, which made me a touch sad that many PS4 and Nintendo only owners would miss this wonderfully tough hybrid of randomly generated dungeons, resource management and strategy. It was a game that felt fresh and was very well written, with plot and brief, sometimes humorous dialog shared by a number of diverse characters. Six years later, guess what’s on PS4 and Switch today and guess who got their freshly washed hands on a review code?

(Thanks, Playdigious!)

Amplitude, Sega and Playdigious have teamed up to bring the game to PlayStation 4 and Switch owners, and if the release is the same overall as the PC version, many hours will be spent getting that motley crew of survivors from a crashed spaceship through those randomly-generated challenging maps. Let me go download this and get to reporting back. I see there’s extra content included in the game, which makes that $15.99 price point very attractive indeed.

There’s also this:

(Thanks again, Playdigious!)

As usual, the PlayStation Store is late on posting a game until they want to, but Nintendo has it up and available to buy as we speak. If I had to guess, I’d say Sony will have it on their store maybe by 1pm or so. Don’t hold me to that, but it will launch today at some point on the store.

-GW

 

Review: SEGA AGES: G-LOC Air Battle

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That cornfield chase in the North By Northwest remake gets a little too action heavy…

sega-ages-g-loc-air-battle-switch-description-charI remember walking into an arcade back around 1990 or 1991 and seeing a new machine added to the site’s already impressive selection. It was a large sit-down G-LOC Air Battle cabinet that had a line of about 10 or so people waiting to play. That machine looked like a super-deformed airplane and had speakers on the seat that faced forward, which helped mostly shut out sounds from the arcade save for music and sounds inside the cabinet.

Most impressive was the movement, as the machine would tilt forward, backward, left, and right based on what the player was doing with their plane. The game also featured a red button that shut the movement off if one was feeling the need for speed and all those motions were getting too much to handle. Think of a LOT less painful to ride mechanical bull with a kill switch and you sort of get the idea. Personally, I never saw anyone hit that button, but it did make for a great and safe addition if it was needed.

I didn’t find out about the even more impressively insane R-360 rotating cabinet version until a few years later when a friend played one while on vacation and showed me a few photos taken by his girlfriend where he was upside down or sideways in the machine’s cockpit. She later told me that was the one of the funniest things she ever saw and heard, as he was yelling and screaming a stream of expletives as soon as the machine went spinning, despite the seat belts and safety harness holding him tightly inside and the attendant nearby who helped him secure himself. He denied that screaming part for years, by the way.

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Review: SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 (Switch)

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Oh, sure, it looks super-cute… but this game is a MONSTER.

Switch_PuyoPuyo2_desc_char“Did you get the game yet? She asked. I told her yes, I’d gotten it. “Oh, good! This one you can play better!” the voice on the other end of the phone cheerily said, then let out an evil-sounding cackle. My eyes rolled in my skull like marbles on a freshly waxed floor and I laughed. Well, my dear friend was right to some extent, as I got further faster in SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 ($7.99) that I did in the first game thanks to a new ‘offset rule’ that makes for  slightly less stressful play, ‘Garbage Puyo’ drops be damned. The game also tosses in a few other new rules as well as a very handy and new rewind feature, and overall, feels more fun than the original.

A voice in the background on the other end warned “She just wants to play against you online and win!” and yes, I knew that as soon as I saw their phone number pop up on my home line. Man, if that husband of hers just learned to play and lose gracefully, I’d at least be able to not have to take these awful beatings every so often.

Er, I think that came out wrong, but let’s move on.

The last time we played a Puyo Puyo game, it was in person, she was sick (some allergies acting up) and still beat me like a rug (yes, people used to beat rugs and still do). This time out, now she was tanned, rested and ready and yours truly had no chance against Mrs. Skills Deluxe. Yes, I was beaten like a barrel of pickles, if one beat a barrel of pickles for some reason instead of shooting fish in a barrel (which has always been a bad idea as you’d get fishy water and/or pickle brine on your good shoes).  Oh well, but I’m still pretty good at Bejeweled 3, so I take solace in that. Continue reading

Review: SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hedgehog 2

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They’re NOT social distancing, but the game is from 1992, soooo…

Switch_SegaAgesSonic2_STI knew I’d like M2’s revisiting this Sega Genesis classic a lot, but the extra mile (or Miles Prower, heh) the developer went here makes the experience even more enjoyable. SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hegdehog 2 ($7.99) is a solid enhanced port overall even with a touch of occasional glitchiness. Not only do you get the original game, but you get the inclusion of Knuckles the Echidna from Sonic and Knuckles as a playable character (as if you inserted a Sonic 2 cart into Sonic and Knuckles’ unique cartridge add-on slot back in 1992), a single stage Challenge Mode (I wish it had more stages, though), the Drop Dash move from the stellar Sonic Mania added, excellent HD rumble, online leaderboards and a few other nice touches like the ability to save anywhere.

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Sakura Wars Story Trailer: The More You Know, The Better It Gets (As Long As You Don’t Know So Much)

 

It’s quite the year for nostalgia in games, am I right? Final Fantasy VII, Langrisser I & II, the Yakuza Remastered games, a new King’s Bounty, and more are on the way, but there are a few firsts for the US and Sega’s Sakura Wars is at the top of the hit parade for many, I think, as it’ll be the first officially licensed game to make it westward on console. This trailer in only a hint of that’s to come, but I’m going to stay away from bigger reveals because I love going in as blind as possible on some games because it keeps them more interesting and yes, I’m happier with no or as few spoilers as possible.

-GW

Langrisser I & II: Return Of The Kings

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Standard Edition, If you like…

When I heard Langrisser I & II were coming to PlayStation 4Switch and PC on March 10 courtesy of the fine folks at developer extreme and Chara-ani Corporation thanks to US publisher NISA, let’s just say that was a good day indeed.  I still own my originally purchased new copies of Warsong and the two Sega Mega Drive Langrisser imports (see below), and from playing the demo versions last night, it’s as if I went back in time and then forward, thanks to the game’s wise inclusion of old and new art styles.

Playing the new game bought back many old memories and we’re looking at a massive campaign, restored to its roots and many hours (and endings) to be discovered. I had to play the second game partially from some hefty notes and magazine clippings I got from a friend in Japan, but I know I missed a lot of story as the paths I got weren’t fully translated in the notes. So this time out, I’m preparing for this much bigger game now in English.

der langrisser

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Yakuza 0 – Your PC & Xbox One Are Going On A Trip

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Well, you can tell by the way he uses his walk…

 

 

The only reasons yours truly didn’t request a PC or Xbox review copy of Sega’s outstanding Yakuza 0 for myself was I’ve played the excellent PS4 version already, don’t currently own an Xbox One, and hell, my backlog on Steam just went under the two-year mark a few days ago, only to go way back up thanks to a few new games popping into my inbox which need to be reviewed. Oh, and I finally just got an Epic Games Store account because I’be been offered a few codes for games exclusive to that store. Everything eventually gets a review, but pacing them out by myself is an issue. I’m all for cloning, by the way.

Anyway, if you’ve got Microsoft’s all in-one wonder console ™ and haven’t bought or played this yet, go do so. It’s only $19.99 or FREE if you subscribe to Xbox’s Game Pass Ultimate. Yakuza 0 is an immense game that’s rewarding from a few story and gameplay elements, you’re not going to complete it quickly, and there are way too many things to hold your interest through the game. You’ll see, and if I don’t see you around after that recommendation, I know how to not reach you because you’ll be busy for some time. Trust me on this, as I’m buried in the fantastic Yakuza Remastered Collection on PS4 and yipes, those are three long games to replay, but the improvements are well worth it.

-GW

Persona 5 Royal: Want To Be A Phantom Thief? Let Morgana Show You The Ropes

With Persona 5 Royal just around the corner (well, March 31, 2020 is kind of creeping up fast), here’s a looks at the game with a little help from Morgana with an assist from Kasumi as they point out a few cool additions to the game. I’d say “Thanks Atlus!” for this video, but it seems they don’t know it’s missing yet. Well, I guess this post will double as a PSA, then. Hey Atlus? You need to hire more security, I think.

Still, I bet the game sells like hotcakes anyway, even with Morgana’s paw prints on a few copies. Wait. Now THERE’S an idea for an even more limited edition… Hmmm.

Say, Morgnnnnnaaaaa? – are you busy right now? I have an idea, cat.

-GW