Arrest the Cops That Killed Breonna Taylor
Wow who put that sub-header in there? Weird. Anyways I’ve been in a bit of a slump in pretty much every aspect of my life, but I’m starting to rebound, as demonstrated by the fact that I’ve been posting on this blog again. So I figured I’d tell you about the games I’m playing nowadays. An honorable mention goes to Apex Legends. I put a bit of time into every day, but it’s a Battle Royal and there’s really not much more I can say about it beyond “Loba is very pretty,” which, while true, is not very interesting.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens
As a lover of all things cute I have been a Shantae fan for quite a while. The aesthetic has always been pretty pleasing to me and the gameplay loop has always been satisfying. Well, give or take. I loved Pirate’s Curse, but while I enjoyed Half-Genie Hero, I didn’t find it nearly as engaging.
Luckily Seven Sirens is as good as Pirate’s Curse — it might even be a little bit better? I’d have to replay it to compare. Regardless, the game fully embraces the Metroidvania qualities the series was already inching towards with previous entries, with a wide map to explore that expands ever further as you obtain new abilities to traverse environments. A big part in making the game feel smooth to play is how transformations are now assigned to buttons instead of dances. For example, tapping a shoulder button triggers a Newt Dash, where Shantae quickly shoots forward, letting her attach to walls or slip through gaps. This small change makes navigating areas a lot smoother. The addition of Monster Cards are fun as well. Equipping them adds modifiers to your move-set, or what drops you get after defeating enemies. They’re not game-changing or anything, but they’re fun to collect.
My biggest con when it came to Seven Sirens is that it was shorter than I would have liked. That’s a pretty good problem to have, all things considered, and I hope Bozon and Co. go all out and making a gigantic adventure with the systems and assets they’ve built out since working on Half-Genie Hero.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
I’m not too far into Bug Fables but I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing if I’ll enjoy a game early into playing. I know I am going to enjoy Bug Fables. In fact, I already am! It is a very cute Paper Mario-esque game, but honestly calling it a clone does it quite the disservice. It does its own unique thing, from the plot to the combat.
Especially the combat. You quickly get your full party of Vi, Kabbu and Leif in the first chapter of the game, and their differences are what make the combat so interesting. The order your characters are lined up in the overworld before you enter a battle has a big effect on the strategies you’ll implement when fighting enemies. Vi can hit airborne enemies, Kabbu can hit armored and spiked enemies, and Leif can freeze them with their magic. If you enter a room with a bunch of spiked enemies, for example, you’ll want Kabbu to be up front, as he’ll be able to act first to do damage to them. There’s also a Turn Relay system, where one character can pass their turn off to another so that they can attack two or three times, at the cost of each subsequent action doing less damage than the last. So if there are two flying enemies for example, Kabbu and Leif can pass their turns to Vi, letting her knock them down to earth. It’s not a complicated system of combat, but it’s very engaging and makes each fight interesting, which is exactly what I look for in RPGs that can last upwards of 25+ hours.
Beyond all that, Bug Fables is just super cute. The idea of a tiny bug world of adventurers is fresh and fun to experience, and the way it permeates the environmental design, with bugs living in overturned cups or fighting off giant spiders, makes exploring a blast. The dynamic between Vi the goblin child, Kabbu the positive mentor and Leif the sarcastic clown is also sublime. There are hints of an interesting, probably emotional story in Bug Fables, and I’m hopeful it’ll land the mark by the time I’m done with it.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
I own three copies of Xenoblade Chronicles, but the Switch version feels like the first time I’m actually playing it. The Wii version was held back by the game’s controls and SD visuals, and the 3DS version, while a technical marvel, was a poor fit for the game’s sweeping vistas. XC:DE is a culmination of everything that’s come before in the game, with a beautiful visual overhaul that makes everything look amazing on a wide-screen TV — although I will still defend the game’s original character models, sorry.
More importantly, the Switch version of Xenoblade offers numerous quality of life enhancements that I find are far more important in making the game a fun, playable experience. For starters, exclamation marks appear on Artes that you use in battle when they will be most useful, such as standing behind an enemy when using Back Slash. The Equipment menu is infinitely more bearable to navigate, which includes a glamour system that lets you change the look of your armor without affecting its stats. Best of all, the game has a completely revamped quest system, including quest markers for items that you’ll need to find on the map. There are still way, way, way, like way too many side-quests, but at least they’re easier to complete now.
All that said, if you tried to get into Xenoblade before this and couldn’t, this might be the version to fully rope you in. I still feel like the game is too much of a “I swear the game gets good at the 30 hour mark” situation, but the ride to the interesting stuff is now a lot smoother than ever before.