Category Archives: Videogames

July Gaming

Games completed during July

Another light month with a couple of late completions keeping me on a roll.

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House of the Dead 4 – PS3

Dusted off the PS Move controllers and gun holders to play this properly with my partner. We cleared it with one credit to spare, I’m still not sure how I feel about the Uzi as a main gun, but it is definitely easier on your trigger finger!


c7d69af8-3256-42fb-9585-10b30aa1cbb6 Forza Horizon 2: Fast & Furious – XB1

This standalone DLC for FH2 was originally available for free before going up to its regular price of £7.99. Unfortunately I missed the free window before I got my Xbox One, and my general dislike for the Fast & Furious licence put me off handing over the cash. However, in a recent sale it was available for < £2, so I took the plunge. Ultimately it’s just more Forza Horizon 2, enjoyable enough with the added bonus of having Ludacris in the role of the announcer. Also this is the first Forza content I’ve managed to 100% for achievements & Forza Rewards, so that’s something at least.


Also played / picked up in July

header (1) Half Life 2: Episode One – PC

I’ve had this in my Steam library pretty much forever, and never got round to playing it. To be fair I was about 10 years late to playing Half Life 2, so whatever. I think I’m about 2 hours into this, give or take, so probably about 50% completion. I hadn’t really paid any attention to this when it came out, so I’ve been presently surprised that it was less of a shooter than the main game, and more of a physics puzzler. Hopefully I’ll wrap it up soon so I can tick it off my list in August.


Thumper – PS4Thumper-11-HD

A game that I had filed away as something to look at if I ever get PSVR, I had heard increasingly good things about it on several podcasts. It was on sale on the PS Store so I decided to give it a go. It’s kind of like the old Vib Ribbon game on the original PlayStation, albeit from a 3D viewpoint. Enjoyed it so far, but it is tough. Looks and sounds incredible though, hoping to get a chance to try it in VR.


Retired in July

headerAssault Android Cactus – PC

In keeping with a previous promise to myself that I would stop playing games when they were no longer fun, I’ve decided to shelve this. Assault Android Cactus is a great twin-stick shooter, but I’ve been stuck on the last boss for ages getting increasingly frustrated. Now I’m playing Nex Machina, I’ve got no desire to persist with this.

Gaming in June

Games completed during June

Almost went the full month without completing anything, but a couple of clears at the end of the month saved me from a duck.


maxresdefaultNex Machina – PS4

Bit of a cheat this, since I’ll still be playing it for some time to come. I did however manage a 1CC on Rookie difficulty. Now working on Experienced. The game is a masterpiece, does for Robotron 2084 what Resogun did for Defender. Housemarque continue to be one of my favourite developers.


injustice-2-listing-thumb-01-ps4-us-06jun16Injustice 2 – PS4

Cleared the Story. Was planning on holding off on buying this one, until a GOTY edition was released with all the DLC. I hate the fighting game model of buying extra characters for a full price game. (See Killer Instinct for how to do that right.) Too many of my friends were playing though, and I caved. Glad I bought it though as it is fantastic.


Also played & picked up in June

wipeout-omega-collection-listing-thumb-us-03dec16Wipeout Omega Collection – PS4

Not sure how I’ve managed to get worse at this, but the collection is great value. Basically the content from Wipeout HD & the Fury expansion on PS3, and Wipeout 2048 on the Vita, but all running at a swish 1080p 60fps. It’s gorgeous. Although I still hold out some hope that the franchise will be resurrected despite Studio Liverpool’s demise, if this was to be the last release, it does at least do the series justice.


crash-bandicoot-trilogy-trailerCrash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy – PS4

Much like the Wipeout Collection, this is another compilation of older content. This time collecting and remaking all 3 classic Crash Bandicoot games from the original PlayStation. Also like the Wipeout Collection, it looks great, and is rock hard. I’m having a bit of a nightmare with it to be honest, but I’ll stick with it for a bit longer!


Retired in June

MordorMiddle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – Xbox One

After 4 and a half hours of gameplay, I’m giving this the boot. Although the combat feels satisfying in a Batman Arkham sort of way, that’s where the enjoyment ended for me. Found it impossible to care about the story or the endless Orcs, despite the renowned ‘Nemesis’ system. All the work felt like ‘busy work’ to me. Happy to accept that it might just be me on this one though, since it seems almost universally popular. Still not really a fan of open world games, and they need to be something special to draw me in.

Gaming in May

Games completed during May

Bit late posting this month, but some games were played and I didn’t want to miss the round-up.


zumaZuma’s Revenge – XB1 / 360 BC

Hadn’t played Zuma for years, and missed this version first time round. Was pleased to stumble across it in EA Access, and found myself addicted to the story mode for a few days. Still one of the best takes on a ‘Match 3’.


Halo_ alt_3Halo: Combat Evolved (MCC) – XB1

Never completed the first two Halo games on the original Xbox, so had been looking forward to playing the remasters on the Master Chief Collection. Playing through them in Co-op with a buddy, really enjoyed the first one. Did drag on a bit though towards the end, those levels are huge.


Forza-Horizon-3-Hot-Wheels-Expansion-Pack-ReleasedForza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels – XB1

The second expansion for Forza Horizon 3 is even better than the first. Had an absolute blast with this, can’t recommend it enough. If you ever enjoyed Hot Wheels cars and playsets as a kid, you owe it to yourself to check it out.


C9z2xE0WsAA6ZkGWonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4

Easily the best remaster of a classic game I’ve ever played, this is a work of art. The original Master System game is one of the best games on that console, and this really does a great job of bringing it up to date.


Also played in May

oriOri & the Blind Forest: Def Edition – XB1

After completing Wonder Boy I was in the mood for a new ‘Metroidvania’ and have had this kicking around for a while. It’s charming, and quite satisfying, although I’m already finding some of the platforming painfully fiddly. We’ll see how I do.


MordorMiddle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – XB1

Still not completely sold on this. I’m not much of a LotR fan, but picked it up based on recommendations and promises that it’s not too Tolkien. I am quite enjoying it, feels very much like a Batman Arkham game with elements of the Tomb Raider reboots. So far though I’m not finding it as good as any of those games.

 

April in Games

Games completed during April

Strong mix of well regarded indie games and Forza this month.


headerEpistory – PC

Loved every minute of this, the typing mechanic is a lot of fun. A few challenging moments but never got stale. Hope to see more games like this!


journey-ps3-logoJourney – PS4

As hinted at last month, I felt I should play this before making a start on Abzû. Probably should have left it in the pile! I expect it might have been more impressive if I’d played it back on PS3, the experience kind of left me cold. It does look pretty, but the desert setting isn’t too inspiring. When I finished I was a bit concerned I’d made a mistake in picking up Abzû…


header (2)Abzû – PS4

I needn’t have worried, it’s easy to see where the Journey comparisons came from, but this was a much more enjoyable experience. I expect this is mostly because I was much more interested in the undersea setting than the beige boredom of the desert. It did leave me craving a new Ecco the Dolphin game though!


8a407642-56b7-4327-bd86-1bd8bb3d757b

Forza Horizon 3 & Blizzard Mountain – XB1

As started last month, I stuck with Blizzard Mountain until I’d mostly finished it. (Cleared the story and some of the extra challenges, but I’ve got no interest in going for the ‘3 star all events’ type stuff.) Forza-Horizon-3-06-HD

Once I’d cleared the expansion I found I was back into the main game again, and finished the story there too. I’ve found myself well back on the Forza wagon.

 


header (3)Inside – PS4

Really glad I picked this up, it’s very much “Limbo 2”. Identical gameplay system and story-telling but that’s no bad thing. New setting and manages to be even darker. A real gem, if you haven’t played these, I heartily recommend both!


1384846394forzahorizonForza Horizon – XB1 / 360 BC

I didn’t like this when it first came out, but it turned up free on Games with Gold, backwards compatible on the Xbox One, and I thought I’d give it another go. It helps that the ‘Forza Hub’ awards bonuses in each Forza game based on your overall performance in the whole series. Gave me the motivation to stick with it, and I’m glad I did. Had a lot of fun playing through the story, and still going back to mop up some of the other challenges.


24626644906_bc9f14df15_bKing of Fighters XIV – Story – PS4

Picked this up in the sale as a bit of a gamble. Street Fighter V has been a let down, and I’m keen to find something new to get stuck into. It’s going to take some getting used to, but I’m enjoying it so far. Put a bit of time in and cleared the story mode, trying to get a feel for which characters I’ll use. My buddy picked it up too, so looking forward to trying out some friendly versus combat


Also played in April

downloadRetired – Banjo Tooie – XB1 / Rare Replay

Meant to include this in March. I’ve shelved Banjo Tooie, possibly for good. A pity since it was one of my goal games for 2017, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. Did make way for the next game on my list though…

 


headerYooka Layle – PS4

My pre-order arrived for launch, and I’m largely a fan. I’ve mostly cleared the first two worlds. One major issue though, the game gives me motion sickness if I try to play more than an hour. I hear a new patch is going to address some of the camera problems, so I’m hoping this will improve. It seems most of the criticism is valid, it’s not a great game by any means, but it’s certainly not bad either. Plenty of fun to be had! (Nausea not withstanding)


C9z2xE0WsAA6ZkGWonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4

Another game I pre-ordered. I have fond memories of playing this with my Bro-in-Law back on the Master System, but I was too young to really ‘get’ it. This remake is an absolute masterpiece. Preserves the great gameplay, and brings it up to date with excellent modern graphics and sound. I know some people have complained about the art style, but I really like it. It’s also a really nice touch that you can switch between any combination of modern & old for graphics, sounds and music. The graphics can be switched on the fly with a single button press, much like in Halo: Master Chief Collection, it’s oddly compelling. (How the title screen changes if you play as the girl character is a nice touch too!)

Hopefully I’ll complete this during May, I’ve just unlocked Hawk Man, hurrah.


Forza-MS6A-04-HDForza 6 – XB1 & Apex – PC

With my Forza love safely resurrected, I’ve been back to these two as well. Lots of ‘Forza Hub’ points to be obtained. It’s funny, when the first Horizon game came out, I was well into Forza 4 and much preferred the more serious 507156bc-fa81-4f82-b487-5c69ad1c671egames to this new open world approach. With Horizon 2 and 3 though I now would rather play those than these serious ones. I’m not sure if it’s a general decline of the main Forza Motorsport line, but the Career mode in Forza 6 is very stale. The racing is second to none though, just wish it was a bit less ‘dry’. I never played Forza 5 and am wondering if it’s worth picking up for the Hub points. Would like them to add Forza 2,3 & 4 to Backwards Compatibility though so I could at least see if they’re as good as I remember.


1fc40618-68a8-45a2-bc11-6656400d9877Forza Horizon 2 – XB1

In for a penny… I also went back to this during April too. Moping up achievements across all 3 Horizon games, first thing I did was drive all the roads in each game. It’s really nice to go between the games because of their different geography. Unlike how similar the Forza Motorsport games are from one to the next, the fresh location for each Horizon game really helps. I’m also really looking forward to the Hot Wheels expansion coming to Horizon 3, has some exciting potential!


Games picked up

H2x1_NSwitch_PuyoPuyoTetrisPuyo Puyo Tetris – PS4

With this finally getting a Western release, I was very happy to be able to pick the English version up, and put aside my Japanese copy and my 30 page print out of menu translations. It’s still the finest arcade puzzle game of all time and it’s great to see how many people are now getting to experience it. I’m still not interested in getting a Switch, but I can see how this must be a perfect fit for that machine.

All-time Top 5 JRPGs (wot I’ve played…)

Yeah a bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve only properly played 5 Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) so that’ll be why your favourite isn’t in the list… I have tried to play plenty, but never got more than 2 hours into anything other than these 5.

I have really enjoyed the ones I have played (well the top 3 anyway) so I wouldn’t rule out playing more in the future. Anyway, on with the countdown!

Number 5 – Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

headerMy first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again.

Number 4 – Bravely Default (3DS)

BravelyDefault-810x449I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

Number 3 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

landscape-1481743951-lost-odysseyA game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

Number 2 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Panzer-Dragoon-SagaOnly played through this for the first time last month, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

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I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Eternal-Sonata-810x456Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.

What next?

I remain open to suggestions from anyone who can suggest games I might like based on what I’ve written above. I’ll be honest though and say there is next to no chance of me playing anything 16-bit or earlier.

I am thinking of playing Skies of Arcadia Legends, it always sort of appealed to me on Dreamcast, and now I’ve got the GameCube version which I’ve heard is generally an improvement.

March Gaming

Games completed this month

I’m three for three so far in gameplay months worthy of an update. Some progress has been made, and I’ve identified a few more games I might pick up due later this year.


70009b60d454b028ef60886bd20b2ae2

Rise of the Tomb Raider – Xbox One: No surprise here, as I was fairly close to completion in February. I finished the main story early in March. Really enjoyed the game, but the Challenge Tombs remain the highlight, and the parts that feel like the games I remember. I won’t be going for 100% completion, as there appear to be hundreds of pointless collectables, but I do fancy going back and clearing the few Challenge Tombs I missed on my way.


Panzer-Dragoon-Saga

Panzer Dragoon Saga – Sega Saturn: One from my long term bucket list, it’s only taken almost 20 years to get around to. A game that by all accounts was well out of my price range, but the recent addition of a modded Saturn to my collection changed that. I’m going to write a bit more about this game in a following post, but I’ll just say how well it holds up considering its age, and how satisfying it was to play. My getting through any RPG is a rare thing indeed, and should be acknowledged.


Firewatch-01

Firewatch – PS4: I picked this up along with the other PS4 games mentioned below in a recent Playstation Store sale. I was a bit wary getting another “Walking Simulator” (urgh) as I bounced off the Vanishing of Ethan Carter and actively disliked Dear Esther. I enjoyed Gone Home however, and the art style of Firewatch was instantly appealing. I was hooked pretty quickly and played it over two nights. At 4 hours long it’s still a short game but about twice the length of Gone Home. The story is engaging, and as I’d done a good job of avoiding any spoilers, I also found it surprisingly tense.


Also played in March

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Epistory – PC: Grabbed this in a Steam Sale as it had been on my radar for a while. It’s a sort of cross between an isometric Action RPG and Typing of the Dead. Great little game where all the combat and some of the exploration is done via typing. I love the Typing of the Dead games, and played the second one to death (ahem) when it came to Steam. More games should have Typing combat as a mechanic.

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Panzer Dragoon: Playing through Saga this month really got me back in the mood for revisiting the original games. Haven’t quite managed to beat it yet but I think I’ll keep it in the Saturn for a while.

 

8a407642-56b7-4327-bd86-1bd8bb3d757bForza Horizon 3 – Blizzard Mountain: This month I grabbed the DLC expansion as it was on offer for 50% off. Played a couple of hours of it so far and it is good fun. Like the main game it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and delivery an enjoyable arcade style Rally in the Snow experience.


Games picked up:

header (2)Abzû – PS4: Not really sure what to expect here, all I know is it’s an underwater adventure game along the same lines as Journey. However I still have Journey in my “to play” pile, so we’ll see. Looks really pretty though, and I’m a sucker for the theme.

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Inside – PS4: The follow up to the superb “Limbo” looking forward to getting on this one, I’ve heard lots of good things!

 

header (1)Caladrius Blaze – PS4: Was a bit disappointed with this, and glad I only paid a small amount for it in the sale. At its core it’s a fun vertical shmup, but unfortunately has an overdose of Japanese “fanservice” that gives it a disturbing creepy vibe. When choosing your ship style, you’re also effectively choosing a pilot. The pilots are mostly (possibly all) Anime women, in revealing attire (so far so par for the course). However during the game whenever you take damage, you get a pop up graphic of your clothes gradually disappearing. To make this even trashier than it already is, they also manage to call this the “shame” system, because getting your clothes ripped when fighting to save the world/galaxy/whatever is obviously shameful.

I did discover after my first go that you can turn this shite off, so the game is at least playable. I’m annoyed I didn’t know about it before I started, and have to live with the trophy it awarded me for having ‘experienced’ all the shame breaks of the first character I chose. *shudder*

Gears-of-War-4-01-HDGears of War 4 – Xbox One: Won’t be on this yet, as I will be playing it in co-op with a buddy. However we’re half way through Halo 1 on the Master Chief Collection atm, and intend to play Halo 2 before we start Gears 4. Was a great price though, and it is one from my list of games to play in 2017.


More releases I’m looking forward to:

When I compiled my list of 2017 games, I struggled a bit to find many games due this year to add. Indeed of the three I did select, I don’t think Life is Strange 2 will appear till at least 2018 (if at all). I’ve since found a few more that I’m now intending to play however, although all but 1 are remaster/reboots of games I’ve played before.

crash-bandicoot-trilogy-trailerCrash N Sane Trilogy: I was a big fan of the Crash Bandicoot games on the original Playstation, but don’t think I ever finished any of them. Looking forward to putting that right with this collection.

 

Wonder-Boy

Wonderboy – The Dragon’s Trap: A game I remember fondly from my Master System days, and another I never finished, although I put that down to my still being in single digits at the time.

 

wipeout-omega-collection-listing-thumb-us-03dec16Wipeout Omega Collection: Essentially the third time I’ll have bought some of this content, it represents a collection of the PS3 & Vita Wipeout games, but delivering them at a crisp & smooth 1080p 60fps (hopefully).  Let’s be honest though, it’s Wipeout and I was always going to be buying it.

maxresdefaultNex Machina: The one new game in this list is a new shmup from Housemarque. Big fan of their previous games, and optimistic that this could do for Robotron what Resogun did for Defender.

February Gaming

Games completed this month

Managed to clear a couple more games this month, thought it might be worth an update.


header-1Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

As suggested in my January post, I finished this at the start of February. Another one to tick off the 2017 list, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It is perhaps a bit less polished than some comparable military shooters, but the story was ambitious and had something to say. In places it was clunky, and some of the bigger twists were sort of spoiled for me by being late playing it, but if you’re a fan of this style of shooter and haven’t played this yet (or just bored of Call of Duty) it’s definitely worth a play.


1857262-397x185

Game of Thrones – Telltale Adventure (PS4)

I managed to stick with this much better following Batman. It’s the worst of the Telltale games I’ve played, but still engaging enough. Part of the problem with it is just how well it does “Game of Thrones”, it’s just so bleak! Easier to recommend if you’re a fan of the show more than a fan of Telltale games, it comes with the same warning you’d give to someone just starting to read the books or watch the TV series. Don’t get too attached to anyone!


Also played in January

70009b60d454b028ef60886bd20b2ae2Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

A decent promotion in Game, combined with my remaining store credit saw me picking both this and Shadow of Mordor on Xbox One.  I had intended to play Tomb Raider on either PC or PS4, but couldn’t argue with the price.  I’ve put 20ish hours in so far, and am about 70% through apparently.  Really enjoying it, have noticed a few bits of slowdown but nothing has really damaged the experience.  Looks likely that I’ll finish it in March and be able to move on to something else. Feeling good about continued progress towards that 2017 target!


headerAssault Android Cactus (PC)

Really good twin-stick shmup that deserves more attention than it received. I have been dropping in and out of this for a while, but over the last few weeks I have focused a bit more on the story mode.  I’d hoped to clear it during Feb but finding the last boss to be tricky! I have limited patience to just keep retrying though so I’ll be lucky if I even manage to clear it during March. We’ll see.


maxresdefaultOvercooked (Xbox One)

Finally got a couple of friends together for a decent session on this, made some good progress and we’re starting to gel a bit as a team. Well we were, until the alcohol being consumed hit Peak levels, and our skills went into decline.  Hopefully we can get another go at this in soon.


Mega Drive & Saturn stuff

I’ve now got a new (to me), modded Japanese SEGA Saturn, so have been dabbling quite a bit with that. Planning on picking a Saturn game to settle into when I’m done with Tomb Raider. I’ve got a few ideas so optimistic that’ll turn out well for a future update.

I’ve also been spending a bit of time with the Mega Drive again, mostly just playing a few shmups. I’d quite like to get a 1cc on Super Fantasy Zone on my actual hardware, as I’ve only previously managed to do it under emulation. If I’m successful I might see if I’m capable of any others…