500 follower special!/Sunshine Blogger Award Part 5

After several years of just sitting around, this site has somehow accumulated 500 followers. I want to thank everyone who’s following, even the fake bot accounts that run sites about cryptocurrency.

So I’m doing two things to mark this occasion. The first is the new set of randomized header images/banners I’ve set up. They’re all from screenshots I’ve already used on the site because as you know I’m lazy, along with the one I’ve used all this time because I felt bad about dropping it. If you can guess what series all five of these are from, you’ll get some credit from me that you can’t redeem for anything valuable at all. Sorry about that.

And the second is the rest of this post, because I was nominated by Honest Gamer for the Sunshine Blogger Award a while back, and he provided nine questions for every nominee to answer. Once again, sunshine is absolutely not a word anyone would ever use to describe me or my personality or outlook on life except sarcastically, but I am still grateful. Thanks! On to the questions:

1. If you could have a new entry from your favourite video game franchise, but in a new genre, what would it be?

A Shin Megami Tensei-themed eroge/dating sim. I know it will never happen, but a man can dream. If you could have a shot with Lilim or Titania (or Cu Chulainn depending on your preference/angle, sure) wouldn’t you take it? The games even already have a negotiation mechanic in place that bears some resemblance to dating in how extremely frustrating it is, so half the work is done. Look, I’d even accept an all-ages game. Though knowing how Atlus is now, they’d include 18+ sections as double-priced DLC.

Don’t put it past them these days.

2. What video game crossover would you love to see happen?

None of the series I like the best would fit together well enough for me to want them to have a crossover, so none, really. Honestly, seeing Sonic and Mario in the same games was a big enough deal for someone who still vaguely remembers the old Nintendo vs. Sega console wars of the early 90s. Everything after that massive crossover pales in comparison.

3. What platform did you start gaming on?

The very first video game I remember playing is Super Mario Bros., so I guess it would be the NES, though I didn’t own it and I think I was barely four or around that age so I don’t know if you can even count that. A more certain answer is the PC, since that’s most of what I played as a kid — a lot of my console playing was done at friends’ houses back then. Afterwards I bought a few old systems along with a Dreamcast that I got a lot of use out of, then a PS2, but PC games are still what I remember best from my early childhood.

4. There is often talk about difficulty vs accessibility in video games. Do you think that developers should have to include difficulty settings in their games?

I don’t think they should have to, but I do appreciate it when developers include difficulty settings. Having some consideration for your player is a good thing, and there’s no shame in playing a game on easy or even in casual/story mode if that’s how you choose to enjoy the experience. The only caveat there is that I think if you’re a reviewer, and especially a professional one, you should be able to at least beat a game on normal mode or the closest equivalent to give readers an account of the standard experience the game provides.

Picture not related at all, no. But that old reference aside, I should try Cuphead one day.

5. Which legendary video game franchise do you think has the better music, The Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy?

They’re both great, though neither is my favorite, so choosing one over the other isn’t as easy as it might be. I’d give the edge to Final Fantasy and Nobuo Uematsu, but that’s not putting down the music of Zelda at all; the guy is just that much of a damn genius. I’d put the music of FF just below that of Megami Tensei and the NieR games, but that’s still amazingly good.

6. What popular video game, movie or book series could you not get into?

There are a whole lot I couldn’t get into. Pokemon is something you’d think I’d love, and while I can appreciate the quality and body of work there I was just never into the series for whatever reason. Same for Harry Potter, though I did see some of the films later on and thought they were pretty good. Never was really “into it” in that sense, though.

7. Serious question now….dogs or cats?

I’ve never had either, but if I had to have one, probably a cat. As long as the cat is okay with me, because I’ve known from being around friends’ cats that they can be very particular about individual people. On the other hand, maybe a dog would be better for me, since I tend to stay inside 100% of the time when I don’t absolutely have to be outside, and I know that’s not the best way to live or whatever. Personal preference is still cats though, for their generally relaxed nature (though I know there are exceptions.)

8. What three indie games do you recommend and why?

There are many more than three I’d like to recommend, but I’ll narrow it down here to:

VA-11 Hall-A — The title is annoying to type, but otherwise everything about it is amazing. This is essentially a visual novel with a drink-mixing mini-game attached — you play as a sarcastic, dour bartender named Jill who has to serve all kinds of strange patrons in your boss’ bar in a futuristic cyberpunk dystopia. VA-11 Hall-A features an excellent soundtrack, great art, and interesting and fun characters.

Even now, I still want to have a drink with Dorothy, she is god damn crazy and I love her

It also mixes comedy and drama in a way that actually works, without the heavy and light parts weirdly clashing with each other, which isn’t an easy trick. I wholeheartedly recommend this game (and I fucking wish we’d hear something about the sequel N1RV Ann-A, which has been “coming soon” for well over a year now. But I’ll still wait patiently.)

OneShot — This is one of those games that really showed what independent game developers could do back when it was released. OneShot is an RPGMaker-style game in which you control a character who’s aware of the player’s existence. Yeah, it’s one of those weird meta types of games, but OneShot did it really well, using what otherwise might feel like a gimmick to tell a unique story. If you liked Undertale, you should really try OneShot as well if you haven’t already. (I also recommend Undertale, though most everyone’s played it already by this point, or else they’ve been sufficiently weirded out by the fanbase to be put off of it. The fanbase can admittedly be very weird, but it’s a great game with a fantastic soundtrack and you’re missing out if you don’t give it a look at least.)

The Touhou Project series — Sure, why not. The whole thing. Touhou is a very long-running shoot-em-up series with roots all the way back on the PC-98 in 1996, but most players go as far back as its first PC title Touhou 6: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. Since that game, there have been many more official games in the series put out, along with about fifty million fan projects, including a ton of albums a few of which I’ve written about here. Magical shrine maidens and witches shoot lasers at youkai girls to excellent background music, all created by indie developer ZUN. It’s great stuff, check it out.

His art is a little janky, but you get used to it.

9. What do video games mean to you?

Video games are a unique form of art that I’ve always enjoyed. They’re also an escape from a reality I don’t enjoy all that much. I wish I could say otherwise, but that’s just how it is. I don’t get to live my life on my own terms (most of us don’t, really, so that’s nothing special) but at least I can escape into another world for a while through a game. The same is true of great novels and films and so on, but games provide that interactivity and sometimes that extra immersion that make them different and perhaps better for escapist purposes.

Of course, games can also have a lot of value as art aside from whether I think they can be used to escape reality for a while. But I think if a game is good enough, no matter how serious or light in tone it is, it can provide that sort of escape I’m talking about (and “light” games can still have a lot of value as art, but that’s getting into a completely different subject.)

I’m certainly not special in appreciating games this way either. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people value games at least partly as an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. Whether that’s a healthy approach to life is a different matter, but it’s undoubtedly healthier than, say, escaping everyday life by drinking yourself senseless or doing similarly indulgent things and more productive than just banging your head against a wall, especially over things you can’t change. I don’t know if everyone reading will relate to this, but if you don’t, so much the better for you.

Anyway, sorry for getting dark here at the end, but I actually see all of the above as a positive. I think the last year in quarantine has changed my outlook on life somewhat, and weirdly enough for the better. If you can even believe that from reading what I just wrote, but this kind of fatalism is a better place than I was at a few years ago. If I think of it that way, I really do have a sunny outlook, at least relative to where I was before!

Of course, writing here is also a method of escape for me, so I want to thank everyone who reads this site again for following me here and for sometimes putting up with my personal nonsense when I get into it.

I don’t want to get that melancholic here again, at least not until the next depressing game or anime I write about.

As for nominations and questions, at first I wasn’t going to bother, but I actually did come up with some questions, so it would be a waste not to ask them. Here they are:

1) Are you buying or have you bought one of the new next-gen consoles, and if so, which? What factors played into your decision?

2) Related to that, how much importance do you place on the specs of a new console?

3) Are there any emerging technologies you’re especially excited to see develop? If so, what are they?

4) Is there an upcoming game, film, anime, or other work you’re especially looking forward to?

5) Is there a genre (of game, novel, film, whatever) you liked as a kid but now dislike? Alternatively, is there a genre you disliked as a kid that you now like or at least appreciate more?

6) We’ve probably all read, watched, or played through at least one story with a disappointing ending. Do you feel a poorly written ending hurts its entire work or series, and if so how much? Can you still enjoy or appreciate the work even if you feel the ending was lousy? (I think I’ve already written about this a bit, and I have a feeling I can guess what a couple of you will say to it, but still a question I’d like to throw out there because I think it’s an interesting one.)

7) Are there any good new blogs or sites you’ve found recently? I’m always looking for new reading material.

8) Are you planning to return to the theater/cinema soon, or once you feel safe going (assuming you liked going in the first place?) Is there anything about the typical moviegoing experience you’d change? (I’m only familiar with the typical American experience, but I’m always interested in hearing about how it is in other countries. Do you have that fake liquid popcorn butter, or is that just us over here being extremely unhealthy as usual?)

9) Finally, a vital question, and one that I think might have been asked before, but if it’s not, I’ll ask now: what’s your opinion of pineapple on pizza?

And the nominees. Sorry as usual if you’ve been tagged already:

Nepiki Gaming

Extra Life

Lost to the Aether

Frostilyte Writes (also pretty sure I need to answer one of yours from ages ago, sorry about that)

Later Levels

And also as before, anyone else who wants to join in is welcome. In the meantime, my best regards to everyone, and thanks once again.

27 thoughts on “500 follower special!/Sunshine Blogger Award Part 5

    • Thanks! I’m not going to pretend I’m any good at these kinds of games either, but I do like a challenge sometimes, and I’ve heard Cuphead provides that, so I’d like to check it out. I also like that old 30s animation style.

      • Yeah, the great thing about it is that since the boss battles are pretty short (within the 2-to-3-minute range) you are not really losing much progress in case you fail. And the style is gorgeous.

  1. Congratulations on the achievement! Here’s to many more coming your way! 🎉🎊🎉🎊

    And yeah, I could never get into the Pokemon hype at all. Something about it seemed really awkward from the first moment I saw the original TV series.

  2. Congratulations on 500 follows, impressive! Here’s to at least 500 more!

    That’s definitely an interesting set of questions you have for us too, I’ll have to write them down and umm… hopefully not forget it for once haha.

    • Thanks! I look forward to your answers if you take the questions up. God knows I take a while on these things and I’ve let some slip through the cracks, so no worries there.

  3. Yoooo 5 hundo. Very nice.

    Wasn’t surprised by the 3 recommended indie games, but I did chuckle to myself given that you, myself, and Red Metal are the three biggest stans for Va-11 Hall-A and OneShot. Any opportunity we get to tell people to play either of those games we seem to take.

    Thanks for the nomination. Definitely some interesting ones here to think about.

    • Thanks! And absolutely, if any games deserve stans it’s those, especially since they’re a bit older and less talked about now but still deserving of the attention.

    • Well, we kinda have to Stan for those games; considering journalists completely let those gems slip through the cracks, it’s up to viewers like us to ensure they get their dues. It’s not our fault they refuse to get good.

  4. Congrats on the 500 followers!

    As someone who’s grew up with run ‘n gun shooters like Contra or Gunstar Heroes(and watched more than their fair share of cartoons), I absolutely recommend Cuphead. The animation style and soundtrack alone are worth the price…

    • Thanks very much! And for another recommendation for Cuphead as well. I saw a bit of gameplay over the last month or two and got interested in it. May check it out very soon especially if it’s on sale at some point.

  5. Hey, congrats on reaching 500 followers! Also, thanks for the shout! I haven’t done one of these tags in awhile, so I should probably go ahead and do this one because you asked some interesting questions there.

    I think Shin Megami Tensei would lends itself well to a variety of genres; I can see a Zelda-esque action-adventure game really working well in that universe.

    I know what you mean about not being excited about crossovers; it’s really difficult to get multiple series with entirely different design philosophies to meld. About the only successful example I can think of would be Smash Bros., but that’s mostly because fighting games really work well as crossovers. I remember playing the Professor Layton/Ace Attorney crossover only to remark that they didn’t synergize at all.

    Hey, Super Mario Bros. was the very first game I ever played too! The NES was my brother’s console, so my own first console was an SNES.

    And I do agree that reviewers should grasp exactly what kind of game they’re playing – otherwise you get a repeat of Dean Takahashi’s infamous Mass Effect review wherein he didn’t know to improve his character’s stats in an RPG.

    I would say that Final Fantasy does edge out Zelda in terms of music, but the various composers associated with the latter are no slouch either.

    Honestly, you didn’t really miss much in the long term by not getting into Harry Potter. The author proved to be an extremely controversial figure once her transphobic rhetoric became known. Despite the series being ahead of its time in certain aspects, I would argue that, as a whole, it really hasn’t aged terribly well.

    I had a lot of difficulty typing “Mank” when reviewing it because it’s so similar to the words “Mark” and “Make”, but if I were to review VA-11 Hall-A, I think I would just have to resort to copy/pasting (as I did just now). I should probably try that game out because it sure seems interesting.

    And while the Undertale fanbase is indeed weird, I don’t think that should detract from the fact that it really did shake things up in a big way, mapping out the direction that indie scene needed to go in order for it to become the tour de force it is now. Indeed, while video games are still considered an adolescent medium, the fact of the matter is that it has gone places no other artistic medium has despite its relative youth, and that is quite impressive.

    • Thanks, and sure thing! I look forward to reading your answers.

      To be more serious/realistic about it, I agree that SMT would make for a great adventure game like that. The Raidou Kuzunoha games on the PS2 are the closest they’ve come to it. Too bad they haven’t made more in that style, because it could work really well.

      As nice as it can be to see characters from different series you like interacting, if there’s no point to them interacting or not much chemistry there, I agree — best not to bother with it. Leave it to fans to write their fanfiction about that stuff.

      I had no idea Dean Takahashi also embarrassed himself over Mass Effect; I had to look that up. With the Cuphead video thing, I can at least sympathize with being bad at a game, but this is on a different level entirely. Even a little kid would know to read the manual or check GameFAQs or something if they don’t understand a mechanic like that. But then at least he admitted to screwing up and apologized for it, which is rare enough.

      Yeah, I remember J.K. Rowling’s boneheaded statements recently about transgender issues. If you don’t understand an issue, it’s best to either learn about it or just stay well away from it if you don’t care to do that. I’m sure having that much money can do some weird things to your psyche, but even then it’s not much of an excuse. I haven’t read any of the books, but from what I remember, the films I saw seemed like good adventure stories — I can see how kids would really enjoy them, with all the magic and the young heroes and heroines fighting evil and all that. But it seems like everyone’s moved on at this point; I heard Rowling’s attempts to bring the series back weren’t received all that well.

      I absolutely recommend VA-11 Hall-A to everyone, yeah. The game touches on some sexual matters that some people may be uncomfortable with, but it does so in the context of some interesting character relationships, and I like the way the plot unfolds through conversations that might not seem important at first. And even people I knew who didn’t like the game for some of its contents still praised the soundtrack. I feel like going back and playing it again sometime.

      And I agree about your approach to Undertale. I hope people will push past the fanbase stuff a bit because I can completely see how it would deter them from trying it out, and then they miss out on a great experience. I’ve had the same conversation about Sonic a few times — parts of the fanbase are strange and obsessive, but the good games in the series are really good. Even then there are those who dump on the entire series without differentiating between any of the games, and completely unfairly in my opinion. (Though Sega does have to take some blame for that, having released some truly lousy Sonic games in the 2000s and 2010s, but for the guys at IGN to say “Sonic was never good” is just insane. Yeah, Sonic 2 and 3&K were complete pieces of shit. I get not being into those games, but you have to appreciate the quality.)

      Anyway, I can go on about that, but I do feel the same way about Undertale as far as the fanbase goes. It’s easy enough to ignore fanbases and just take the games on their own merits.

    • Thanks! There’s plenty more to come as well. My pace has slowed down a bit with my workload, but I don’t plan on ever stopping.

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