Note: This is a really long round up, just so you’re aware.

This year I decided to go with a theme on what games I will be playing from the backlog, and it was Assassin’s Creed. I’m not sure why I chose Assassin’s Creed because if you know me you know I am usually peeved with Ubisoft’s cookie cutter design. And of course, their little thing in the beginning that says their team is “diverse” seems like a cheap way to try not to take responsibility of the problems that are still going on over there.

Regardless of all that, the journey through all the main Assassin’s Creeds games was an interesting one, because I get to see what they improved on, as well as what they didn’t really learn from. Currently, the latest one I have completed is Assassin’s Creed Unity.

The Lows of Assassin’s Creed

One of the low points is something that I’m sure all Assassin’s Creed players know about, climbing, I am lucky in the reasoning that I am playing these games after many glitches have been fixed, so climbing was relatively unglitched, but the system of climbing itself is really frustrating. Always jumping where I don’t want to, or being unable to grab that darn ledge diagonally even though it is RIGHT THERE. Randomly climbing when I did not intend to do so, especially while I’m chasing someone or in the middle of a fight. Those kinds of things were quite irritating. This frustration was slightly ameliorated by the changed climb up or down prompts introduced in Unity.

Another bad thing is stealth. Ironically, this is a huge thing for Assassin’s Creed, but I mean the stealth play after you have been found. Good stealth games provide enjoyable gameplay after you’ve been spotted or recognized. Either that, or they might as well just straightway cut you off from the mission. This is not really something that Assassin’s Creed handles well (so far). Too many times if I get spotted, I can still go on, but instead of some cool escape, I am sent dozens of guards that overwhelm and I can only watch myself be slain. I can run and hide of course, but the climbing system frequently gets in the way a great escape. While there have been times that I was able to make a dazzling escape with my tools and climbing, they are far exceeded by the times I’ve been foiled by unwanted jumps, falls, or unusually sharp AI. I definitely make my own mistakes and they can be the reason for my demise, but it should be pretty obvious when I want to grab a ledge to my side, I want the ledge to my side, not the one below. I know you can grab it, Ezio, and that’s what makes it really frustrating.

Ubisoft tends to do this typical thing where they tell you to do something, and sometimes when you do it, you fail. If you display yourself as an open world, the player should be able to expect to make their own way around things. Another unfortunate happening is trying to do those things, and…being told you’ve failed. Chasing enemies, but not being able to cut them off by taking shortcuts in the open world city that you’ve become accustomed to because you know it better now, and then being desynchronized, which is pretty much failing the mission in the series, is not a very pretty thing to see all the time. (That…was a sentence.) It is common in Ubisoft open world games to fail because you’re trying to be creative in it and it is still a thing in Assassin’s Creed. Some of the newer Far Cry games are bit better at this though, but there are some definite and unique problems for those as well.

The friggin’ unconventional storyline. It’s possible to have a good, unconventional story, but I’ve found it to be way more bothersome here than needed. It was alright in the beginning, but it got more and more convoluted and flipped inside out on itself. It could’ve been a simpler thing about an eternal war between Templars and Assassins, but they bring up this semi-futuristic world and how it connects with that war and it gets so out of hand. The story about Templars vs. Assassins itself is quite alright, it’s just the weird disconnection every time you are removed from that that doesn’t feel okay. In Assassin’s Creed Unity, they kind of get out of your hair mostly in that, so that was nice.

“True ending” if you spend 1,000 of your life’s hours. These should not be a thing. There can be true endings by choosing different choices, but don’t make a true ending because you didn’t collect every speck of your parent’s dead ashes.

Menus in menus in menus. Map icons. Reward-based collectathons. Everywhere.

The Highs of Assassin’s Creed

Okay, let’s talk about the good stuff. Climbing. BUT ELISE– I know. I know what I said. I’m saying climbing again here because I think it’s rather impressive that they’ve been able to make a system that allows you to climb on pretty much every single ledge in the game. Even though it can be pretty wonky at times, we weren’t able to have something this versatile until The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m sure a random reader could point out another as well, but they’re still pretty scarce. So, I still commend them on this.

Your tools and abilities are pretty fun. I like using firecracker distractions and smoke bombs. All the classic sneaky stuff all play out pretty well. Ranged weapons are mostly okay. Most of them are super satisfying, but they’re fairly limited because we should be using melee like an honorary assassin. (I mean, it’s not really like that, but still.)

I do like being able to visit different time periods and locations. If you’re like me, history becomes very muddled about 100 AD to 1800 AD. Playing through all the different times in between those two ages helped me learn a lot. I know some of the stuff is in just for gameplay or aesthetics, but it also raised interest in those time periods for researching myself: something that is highly valued here at Game Praisers.

Ship sailing. There are only two Assassin’s Creed games that have won any sort of personal awards for me. The first Assassin’s Creed earned an Honorable Mention because of it’s breakthrough and impact it made. The second Honorable Mention is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The ship sailing gameplay is actually really fun. It was quite refreshing to go through and sometimes that’s all I really wanted to do. This makes sense, as Ubisoft is supposedly also making Skull & Bones, which is Assassin’s Creed but mostly, if not all, sailing. I mean, if they ever finish that. Assassin’s Creed Rogue also was a sailing game in a similar vein, but I liked Black Flag more overall concerning story and characters. Also, by the time I finished Rogue I was pretty seasick. Still fun though.

In conclusion, this journey has been great to see how a company has and has not changed over time, and I think there is value in being able to see that. However, I would not personally recommend doing this unless you actually, really, really want to do this. I like doing stuff like this, and I would not want anyone to do this out of obligation or anything. I will continue my journey through Assassin’s Creed next year simply because I tend not to quit on my plans.

But that’s not all I played this year. I played filler games to make sure I didn’t die of monotony.

Time for the list of games that deserve mention, in order of when I completed them.

Crysis: Warhead and Crysis 2

More Crysis! These two games were really enjoyable, but I really loved Crysis: Warhead because it was literally more of the first game. The new weapons introduced were really fun. Crysis 2 was also pretty good, but it for all the changes it made, it didn’t feel super amazing. It’s still a good game though that is fun. Crysis: Warhead earns an Honorable Mention.

Yoshi’s New Island

The underrated Yoshi game. I love the visuals, but I can understand where the low ratings are coming from. It all feels very simple, but what I love is that it still carries the Yoshi’s Island feeling from the SNES. This game earns an Honorable Mention. Admittedly it’s because of more of an emotional thing.

Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2

It took me this long to get to Halo. This is what happens when you like too wide of a net of things in life. Both of these games get an Honorable Mention. The first game gets it because of the cultural wave it brought with it. I remember people downloading the demo on school computers and playing them secretly, or even not secretly with the teachers. Honestly though, it doesn’t hold up well, especially the campaign.

Halo 2 was where multiplayer got really crazy and I remember all those LAN parties. Oof. That was insane, but the campaign is much better and more interesting. It feels more than a thing attached because they wanted a platform for multiplayer. This game gets the Honorable Mention also because it’s better overall as a game, not just emotinally.

Celeste 2 and RAYKA

Two really tiny games that came out this year. Both of them great in their concepts. Celeste 2 is a mini Celeste game just like the original started. Who knows…maybe something will come of this. Just kidding, I think they’re working on other stuff right now. But just as enjoyable as the other Celeste games. RAYKA is one of those concepts that only work because it’s a small studio and has very little red tape in the way. It’s a first person shooter that kind of reminds me of Game Boy Advance style FPS games. However, there’s not too much I should give away because that’s part of the fun of it.

You can play Celeste 2 here and RAYKA here. UNFORTUNATELY, because of something…in the game, there are spoilers for all the fun right at the page for RAYKA. But… ..oh well. They both receive Honorable Mentions, but nothing more because, like a certain frog, they’re too darn short.

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

…I already wrote an entire article about it. It’s a lot to explain, but in the end, great game. Not overrated. Some games deserve the praise and this is one of them. This game made the 12 Bests list and is currently #89 on the ULTRA.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

I have a fear of finishing series. If I get to the last one I have, or that is released, I hesitate to play them. But I finally got off my butt and played the last Deus Ex game that is available at the moment. This is the Game of the Year for me. I feel like it improved nearly everything that needed to be improved. Just when it felt like it might get tedious, it moved on. Great pacing, atmosphere, everything. Also Adam’s voice is still so great. The small, but hand-crafted and concentrated, open world feels really great and not too overwhelming. This game now sits at #5 on the ULTRA. Also…finally a Deus Ex game I feel like is better than the very first one in the series, nostalgia goggles and all.

Mortal Kombat X

A fighting game that doesn’t beat me to death on “medium” difficult. But enough to have fun and get better at. This is such a good game and I can see why people loved it when it came out. This is especially significant after Mortal Kombat (2011). This game is #169 on the ULTRA.

Quantum Break and Control

These games. I love them so much. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Remedy since Max Payne now and I’ve seen their growth. I love the cinematic feel in Quantum Break. I love the Shawn Ashmore and the other actors. This is one of the few pieces of media that I think handles time travel really well. In fact, I use this game as an example of an ideal time travel design for story. This is #81 on the ULTRA.

Control. I am so biased. I can’t rate this game properly. I started playing this game during a difficult time in my life and it helped me a lot. I love the environment style and the lore. I melt at everything in this. The only thing that got to me is the Alerts. I thought there were like, side quests, but they’re just extra stuff to do if you want to kill things for rewards. So I got overwhelmed by them until I realized they weren’t side quests. The shooting feels great, movement feels great, characters super awesome. I sound like a kid. I’d go into more depth with these games that are on the ULTRA, but they deserve an article themselves, so I won’t go any further. Control is #6 on the ULTRA. I know the ULTRA is supposed to include emotional bias, but Deus Ex still comes out on top.

Hyper Light Drifter

This game is so cute, especially because it does the ol’ show, don’t tell. For the entire game. I absolutely enjoyed learning to navigate a dangerous and relentless world that is so beautifully designed. I found it a little difficult to be motivated to get all the secrets, but there are many and I think it’s cool that they are there. What really drove me to play this game a lot was the boss fights. I loved them so much. They were so much fun and really well designed. #168 on the ULTRA.

Risk of Rain 2

Risk of Rain, but it’s 3D. That’s…that’s literally it. #160 on the ULTRA. Still has that same, “It’s time for you to get owned and die in 0.5 seconds.” kind of thing. Still has that same fun too though.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

It’s rare to have a unique open world take, and this game is one of those. I really like the characters and the monster designs. Hunting feels great. It still has some older style open world designs where you’re chasing icons, but I am really overwhelmed by how well they implemented and handled this post-apocalyptic robot arc. #79 on the ULTRA.

Fallout: New Vegas

More Fallout. People say it’s so different from Fallout 3, but if we are to be honest with ourselves, it’s not. It’s more of the same gameplay wise. Story-wise it’s pretty stretched like the old cRPG days, and I think that is something people LOVE. And it’s definitely a good thing too. I think it does indeed improve on all things of its predecessor and deserves all that love the fans give it. However… it is so. insanely. GLITCHY. I’ve played glitchy Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, but nothing as bad as this. I don’t play with mods because it is the developer’s responsibility, not the fans, to fix all this stuff. The fans do great things for games like this, but really, the developer needs to be responsible. Save losses, game crashes, load glitches, movement glitches, all amounted to a game I could only put on Honorable Mentions because it is just that frustrating. The players should not have to suffer such annoyances that debilitate such a great game.

But in the end I will still respect that gameplay and recommend to anyone who loves these kinds of open world games.

There were a few other games that I played that did not earn any awards at all, most of them consisting of Assassin’s Creed. But…that was the year’s round up. I finished a good amount of games this year because I was a little more motivated. And of course, I am still playing Genshin Impact, because I love that game to death. Ironically, or perhaps unironically, it brought out both the best and the ugliest side of gamers the world has to see. I’ve seen such great support, and such great racism and colonist behavior, but in the end, it’s been great.

Was 2021 good? Does it deserve and Honorable Mention?

No. It is you who deserves it. You made it through this ridiculous year. I seriously can’t believe we had to go through another year of this, and it will likely last until at least 2023. In fact, you deserve to be on the top 12 for surviving this darn stuff. As gamers we have been through a lot, but even after all the hate and stuff, I commend the community for being decent during this difficult time and understanding how difficult it is to live life and make games during this time. Perhaps it’s because we’re all suffering and not just the developers that brings about this sympathy (or empathy) in the community. Although things seem frightening for game developers at this time, I feel like there is a lot more support for better work environments for women and minority groups in all of the industry.

Regardless, you did it, player! I hope you were able to enjoy a good amount of gaming this year and wish you fortune and good luck next year. Whatever your endeavors may be, even if they’re not gaming related, I hope you have the strength to carry on.


Committing to Never

Designing and playing games that don’t end

There are a lot of reasons why we play video games.  And for a good amount of us, and I can definitely say for myself, we play for the story.

So what about those people still playing after the story?

The design of games that don’t end have been there since the very beginning.  It’s certainly not as common anymore, but remember high scores?  Arcade games carry this in nearly all genres.  If we look back with the games we have now, they don’t even seem necessary.  We see this in top down shooters like Space Invaders, platformers like Donkey Kong, and even fighting games like Street Fighter.  As I have said, these are all arcade games, which means playing them for longer periods of time means more coins out of your pocket.  So of course they want you to be ambitious.  However, this kind of thing continued on even when arcade cabinets were no longer your main source of gaming.

Super Mario Bros., a game that was beloved by many people in their homes, still has a high score counter.  In fact, people use the high score things for other meta-competitions as well.  We have people winning the game with the fastest speed, but lowest score possible.  You can actually watch some of those speedruns online.  They are fantastic and awe-inspiring.  But, Super Mario Bros. hair-thin story does end.  The challenges eventually do cease.  And these kinds of things are normal for all these story games.  And yet, people keep playing.

Around the time when less arcade-y games removed their scores, ew kinds of designs started popping up where there was no end.  These can go from optional multiplayer games like Diablo and Genshin Impact, or we can go with MMOs like Lineage, Maplestory, Guild Wars, all those other MMOs we see online.  Then there’s also games made for multiplayer like Battlefield and new genres like battle royales and MOBAs like PUBG and DoTA 2 respectively. 

What is driving these games to exist forever?  And…why do we keep playing them?

Where is the fun?  

Never ending games exist solely because of where the fun comes from.  If a game’s fun is the story, it ends where the story ends.  We already talked about arcade games and them siphoning money out of you, so let’s start with games like Super Mario Bros. where the ending is meant to be exactly that, the ending. 

People create their own games with the games.  I’m talking about the speedrunners and the meta-competition.  I remember playing Super Mario Bros. where the main goal was to not kill any enemies, making some platforming elements rather difficult.  

I think a great example of this is GiantGrantGames on Youtube where he played Starcraft II and he had to play through the story without losing a single unit.  I’ve had times playing critically failed games and we set our own rules to laugh and joke throughout the whole thing, even if the controls were terrible.  Ultimately for these situations, we are the ones creating the game and we are the ones creating the fun.  That was where the reward, the fun, was.

Some games keep us having fun by having solid gameplay.  I replay Mario games because the platforming is so solid.  I keep playing Genshin Impact because the fighting gameplay is very enjoyable, even if I’m just fighting a similar group of Hilichurls for my dailies.  A lot of people play battle royale games or shooter games like Battlefield over and over again because each bit of adrenaline rush is what they’re chasing.  It’s all about that energy and (hopefully) fun.

Many MMO games like The Division series or the Destiny series have reward-based fun.  The gameplay can be great, but the goal that is frankly placed by the developers is that you need item X.  You need that next thing.  You need that next skin/cosmetic.  While this is okay, it walks dangerously close to negative game design.  If we’re only playing for the final reward, it is easy for the game to feel like a chore.  

These kinds of items are usually dropped from events or other time-limited situations.  It’s about chasing that next thing, but if the gameplay or the story within is not enough the game can end up being unfun.  And who wants to play something unfun? 

I think it’s a mistake to believe that the endgame is the only thing that matters with games like these.  Both the main game and the endgame have their strengths to keep them entertaining, but it’s all about how they are implemented.  Genshin Impact’s events usually have great rewards, but there is usually some overarching story as well, so it’s not just mindlessly killing mobs.  While I am not a professional game designer by any means, I believe there to be a solution to making things like the endgame more fun. 

Not surprisingly, most of it can be solved by having the gameplay itself be fun, so when there are new things to be done, new goals to be reached, it is still fun to play.

There are, even still, outliers that continually bring people back to certain games: the prestige of holding your rank, or if you’re like me, forgetting some of the story and you simply want to enjoy it again.  There are also things that can be predatory things like daily quests that make you feel like you missed out if you’re not coming back.  Ironically, I could point that finger back at Genshin Impact again even though I previously praised that.  But that’s just the thing, isn’t it?  For me, it is not a problem, but for others, that is definitely a negative.  

So after all this, the meta-games, the competition, the stories, the gameplay, the reward-based goals, the ranks.  After all these things, which of them brings the fun for you?  That’s what matters.  I’m not trying to play the “everyone’s a winner” kind of play here, but I’m asking the question of how can we enter, or even create, an environment that helps us have fun?  I think some developers do this in earnest and truly try to create good, infinitely fun environments, while others are there just for your money (or that could be a corporate thing, it depends).  

I know I’m always doing this kind of thing where I put the responsibility on our, the gamers, shoulders.  But…where is the fun for you?  Find that out, and then use that time to enjoy it.  Don’t feel guilty about it.  Don’t go back to the game that isn’t fun for you.  Don’t let that sunk-cost fallacy catch you.  

Let your voice be heard by having fun, because remember, we’re committing to never having an end.

Unsurprise! Why I Hate People Who Spoil Things

And Not Really The Spoilers Themselves

Spoilers are not bad.  There is no “right” path to choosing when it comes to whether or not you want spoilers.  It is merely that someone chooses a path, and you respect that path.  

I am apparently one of those people in the world that don’t enjoy things well when things are spoiled.  According to studies it seems that most people do enjoy things well with them, but I can’t even count any games or films that I actually enjoyed when it was spoiled, even when critically and/or popularly acclaimed.  I don’t care if people want to spoil things for themselves, it’s whether or not they care about spoiling it for others.  It’s not so much a matter of entertainment for me, because it is something I can lose.  It is a matter of gauging people’s respect for others.  The only thing someone can lose for not telling a spoiler is the pride that someone can have of telling someone something they don’t know.  Which, frankly, is a very douchey reason to do it.  Most websites put pretty good spoiler tags, so if you spoil those for yourselves even when it’s obvious like that that’s your own fault.

So it’s mostly the same thing you can realize for how they react to other life decisions, and for this one, it’s really shopping cart-esque.  To put away the cart is of little effort, and there is no consequence for not doing it.   There really is very little loss in not spoiling something, and whether or not someone can hold their tongue in that aspect is quite a tell of someone’s respect.  Accidents happen of course, especially when vocally speaking, and that’s fine.  People make mistakes.

For me it all stems back to what the person is like towards me.  It’s so much more than just the game or the film.  And what worries me the most goes even further.  I am worried for the people who think that, at any level of anonymity, it won’t affect them.  But again, this is a matter of respect, and nobody lives in a vacuum. Sooner or later they will have to learn respect, and I just don’t want their experience to end up being worse than just words.

Leaks are a bit different.  Leaks are more like a surprise party.  I find it even more selfish in this situation than spoilers to give away leaks because the creators are withholding information for the sake of our enjoyment.  I just think, “We just wanted to make you happy,”  kind of thing is a sad expression to see broken.  I also don’t like leaks because they create an unwarranted and unexpected level of hype.  The audience may grow an expectation that is much higher than normal because usually only a little bit of information is let out and at too early a time.  Then they are disappointed when it was they themselves that set up the situation.  A good marketing team sets up times for announcements for a reason, and a lot of it is this.  You want a controlled situation when you show your product to the public.  You’re not being a superfan by sabotaging the creators.

So by all means, if you want to know the stories for yourselves, go ahead and look them up.  If you want to feel ahead, just do it.  Leaks can be illegal, so I would discourage that.  But don’t feel bad about spoiling things for yourself if you consent.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been gatekept out of a situation just because I am someone who doesn’t do well with spoilers.  Not because they can’t talk about it, but because I am both actively and passively removed from the group the same way some women won’t work in some places because the atmosphere is just too toxic.  I am always seen as a lesser person in this community because of this, and, let me tell you, as part of a minority group in real life I get enough of that.  So for goodness sake, all I want is some respect.  The fact that I have to actively ask for that in the entertainment community I exist in is such a low standard, and I care enough to actually vouch for it.


Why I Love: Alan Wake

Two Sides

I love Alan Wake, for the same reason a lot of people found it mediocre.  Alan Wake is a third-person action (shooter?) game.  Alan Wake, a writer of a thriller series, goes on vacation to a lake house, only to be haunted by shadowed entities that remind him of his own works.  He can expose and destroy these entities by shining a flashlight at them.  That’s mostly all you need to know about it for what I want to talk about today.  

It is a good game.  It is very crisp, and it feels like playing an episode of The Twilight Zone.  Were it not for good game design it probably wouldn’t be on the ULTRA.  But what I really like about this game is that it is truly a simple game about fighting the darkness, both outside and within.  

I don’t feel like Alan Wake is that psychological, but it’s what defeating darkness within sometimes feels like.  It feels helpless and frustrating (not game design-wise, just for Mr. Wake).  It feels like we’re in an episode of a TV show we can’t get out of.  Ultimately, it’s a fight of light and darkness.  We can also mean that literally because of his flashlight.

I remember when my brother and I were so excited for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and we were watching the trailer.  In the trailer Raynor says, “Because the one thing I know; some things are just worth fighting for.”  And I remember my brother saying something about how that is so, so cheesy.  I love cheesy things, and over time I’ve learned why I love cheesy things like that line or the fight between light and darkness.  I love cheesy things because they’re the most real, and Alan Wake emphasizes that in an age where we’re supposed to be so unique in themes.

The struggle against ourselves and knowing what is light in our lives is real.  That’s a real thing.  Knowing what you fight for?  That’s real.  “I’m doing this because I love you”?  I need that.  I wonder if the reason we don’t like cheesy things sometimes is because they remind us of what is real.  This is why I love Alan Wake.  We’re just some random person fighting to find their way out of the darkness. 

Isn’t that what most of us want to do?  We want to be a light to those around us.  We want to truly find light and what is good in all the travails of life and use it to banish the darkness.  When it comes to those that we love, isn’t that what we want to do for them?  It’s cheesy, but it’s true, and Alan Wake embraces it.  That is one of the big reasons why I love the game.

Alan Wake is #116 on the ULTRA.  I hope that we can all endeavor to be a light in the darkness especially during these strange times.  Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.
– Elise

Being an Active Audience

No Backseat Directing

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s something that I always feel so pushed to emphasize all the time.  This applies to books, movies, games, or really, almost any medium that delivers a story or rise in interaction.  

You’ve run into them before.  You know, the people who say they saw that plot twist coming, or the person who knew that character arc.  “Ah, this character is this trope again? I’m so bored of that trope!”  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with understanding the workings behind how a story tells itself, a character arc has its growth, or a game design teaches you how to play.  In fact, these are all things I have had to study as I go along my gaming and art-ing life.  Recently, I read a post on social media platform X on how learning how to write books sometimes takes the fun out of reading books.  You know the designs and the elements.  You know the turns and the descriptions.  Sometimes, for worse and for better, you can see the mistakes.  “Oh, I used to do that too!”

So after all is said and learnt, are these things not fun anymore?  This is where I think there begins a need for effort on a player’s part.  An effort…to make less effort.  To let ourselves be tricked.  To let ourselves be gobsmacked.  The same way we let ourselves take the expected (and sometimes super unexpected) parts of children’s imaginations and go with it, especially if we’re the parents.  To act like a humble student and take it all in as if the world was filled with wonder again.

Sometimes plot holes exist.  Ahem, plot holes always exist, but perhaps, hopefully by an accidental existence, they are now there to be filled with our imagination.  I guess there are people who, when brought a movie, expect the films to do it all for them.  And the same way for books or games.  I suppose the perspective of what it means to be the audience differs from one person to another.  But, should you feel that you are not being satisfied because they’re too predictable, perhaps taking a step into letting ourselves be stunned again, is the step to take.  

Skeletonizing a game or a movie can also take the fun out of it, if you let it.  Stories and designs, when stripped of their emotional and cosmetic bearings become technical rigs and concepts, with little entertainment value.  These shells and skeletons have their functions, but if we rip everything off of it, how can we expect more?  I can’t help but feel like it’s a little pretentious when people start talking about how the story wasn’t enough to entertain them or how it was so predictable.  

In the end, it’s not really a wrong perspective.  I mean, without hindsight bias, if they really found out, then they really found out.  But, I don’t know.  Were they thinking about it the whole time or were they watching the movie?  I guess it’s easier in games ‘cause there’s a good amount of downtime in between plot points.  It just feels really weird that people are setting up their own roadblocks to getting entertained by what they want to be entertained by.  I guess the reason I argue for the other side is that this is Game Praisers.

That’s what we do.  We take whatever is good.  That doesn’t mean that we ignore the bad, but the more we appreciate what we can appreciate the less we act as if starving kings and queens who can only partake in the exquisite.  You can be ahead of the game, but you don’t have to be snooty.  Ultimately, it’s also one of my goals in life to just be more accepting and open-minded to what can be good.  To never forget that just because we eat better food now, doesn’t mean food in general is forgotten of what it provides.  Of course the top-notch games and films are what we’d like.  Of course we love the non-broken game design, but we never, ever forget humble beginnings and the child-like wonder that made video games so fascinating in the first place.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.
– Elise

My 2020 in Gaming

I’m’a drop this real quick here. This was recorded in my notes, and I thought it would be nice to share here. My notes are even more casual than I usually am, so sorry if it’s a little erratic. Enjoy!


My top 12 games of the year in no particular order.  These are games that I’ve played in 2020, not necessarily released in 2020.  Asterisks mark ones that are actually from the year 2020.  

Honorable Mentions:

DiRT Rally 2.0

  • I can’t really tell when I started playing this, but I think it was January/February.  So I’ma put it on here.


  • Nor can I tell with this one, since Epic Games doesn’t tell you, which is why it is here, because I think I played it like, the last week of December. But if it is from this year, most darn definitely it should be on the actual list.  This game made me cry and I love it, because I can relate to the story so well.  Number 9 on the ULTRA.  This game can boast the most absolutely perfect difficulty curve.  Tells a super super good and mature story through a platforming game.  Also, I’ve been following Maddy Thorson’s games since Jumper 2.  It was her games that got me through the era of “I’m Too Young to Buy Games for Myself”, and her free indie games got me through life.

Path of Exile

  • Because I still play this wonderful game.

Fallout 3

  • This is a super good open world game, but I have very little emotional attachment to it.  If you want a good sci-fi open world game though, play it.  It even rivals Skyrim for me.  



  • Man.  This game.  I thought it was just going to be a show off of graphics, but it’s more than that.  The attention to detail is what makes this more than “graphics”.  There are a lot of unnecessary details that they have in this game that they just weren’t lazy enough to do.  Also, the gameplay proved to be quite fun.  The super suit really makes you feel like The Predator.  It mixes up the gameplay and makes it really unique.  The weird silly-movie-ish storyline is really fun as well.  

Dishonored series

  • Oh my goodness.  I can’t… I can’t.  Dishonored 1 and 2 slashed their way to the top of the ULTRA, getting 5th and 3rd place on the entire list respectively.  The world-building and lore are so insanely well done, and the level designs are definitely some of the best game designs I have ever seen in my entire gaming life.  The stealth mechanics are done very crisp.  Things react the way you expect them to react, making plans feel great when you pull them off.  Problems do not happen for arbitrary reasons, it’s because of planning.  But they also designed it well in the way the game plays after problems happen.  I actually do not flip out when I get caught, because the way the game moves after you’re caught is designed well.  If you want a good stealth series, or just a game with an awesome world, play this series.  Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is also great, but it’s definitely a smaller punch than 1 and 2.  I’m counting these as one game.  HA!

Kero Blaster

  • This game is made by Studio Pixel, the creators of Cave Story.  Amaya Daisuke STILL GOTS IT.  This is such a good 2D shooter, but you might have noticed it never got on the Top 12 Games list.  BECAUSE IT’S TOO DANG SHORT.  It’s such a tease because Amaya does such a good job at making these funny little 2D shooters.  


  • Psychonauts is an…unexpected game.  I usually play these cult classics to see what the fuss is all about.  The controls are a little bit janky, and the graphics are old, but it’s still a great game.  The music is quite nice, but the thing that really gets me is it’s super progressive (at the time) approach to mental illness.  I also really love Rasputin, because his voice actor does a good job and also because Ras is someone who genuinely cares about the people who are suffering mental health or trauma.  The way the level designs are conveyed accordingly to each person’s experience are very inspiring.

Resident Evil 4

  • I’m not good with horror games.  You’ve heard me say it before, but… I really really really really really love a fun story.  And it turns out, the gameplay is really good.  The way you shoot is unique and feels great, which in turn I think would be terrible on a controller.  A small spoiler, [[[[[[[[[[]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]   

    NPCs that you have to guide around are NOT annoying.  Seriously, this is like a huge plus.  It’s one of the few times where I felt like the NPC didn’t actually feel very helpless and glitchy.


    Inventory management turned out to be kind of fun, and some of the designs of the monsters are really cool (and scary).


  • Uhm…  this game is more like an experience.  I admit I had a hard time with this game, as in it was just difficult for me to play, because I suck at the strange and cool system they have for combat.  The art style is absolutely fabulous, as Supergiant Games is wont to do.  The story, characters, and world murder my soul.  If you want a top-tier indie experience, play this.

Borderlands 3 Super Deluxe Edition***

  • Ah, Borderlands.  I love the Borderlands series so much, but it kind of petered out for a little bit, until I finished the campaign and started playing the seasonal stuff.  I’ve explained before but I must say it again; the core of the new gun designs and gameplay mixed with the funny and well-written content for the seasonal stuff is what I’ve been wanting for a new Borderlands experience.  It’s a lot of good fun, and I’m lucky enough to have experienced it with someone who I very much enjoy playing games with.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons***

  • Probably the best in the series.  Every time a new Animal Crossing in the main series (sorry Amiibo Festival) makes a big jump (sorry City Folk) I feel like I fall in love with Animal Crossing all over again.  However, lately I’ve been pushing myself to finish more games, and so my play time with Animal Crossing has decreased, but whenever I play again, especially when I play with my siblings, I have a ton of fun.  We goof around a lot and do silly stuff but it’s a fun time.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

  • A weapon durability system that doesn’t annoy me?  Great turn-based combat?  Characters and story filled with emotions and dialogue?  Art style I friggin love?  Amazing music?  This game checked all the boxes.  I also just really love the art.  Also I love all the characters.  I want to hug them all.  This one is definitely up here more because of my love and emotion than the gameplay (although that’s good too).

Genshin Impact***

  • This thing.  Another surprise I was not expecting.  I gotta be honest, a huge part is that I’m so darn proud of a good Chinese game, and one that is (mostly) not battered by racist or typical comments about Chinese products.  And of course the other part is that I love all the characters and story.  The exploration and combat are fan-friggin-tastic.  Although if you get to the late game it gets kind of grindy and mobile-gamey, but the demand for your money concerning the gacha is not really there unless you desperately want a different character.  Some of the story elements in this game are really, really good.  The characters, I want to hug them all.  I feel all chummy because of all the story arcs.

Final Fantasy VII

  • OKAY.  Why did I play so many emotional games?  Final Fantasy is one of the long-standing gaming goals I have to play them all in order.  I’ve heard people throw their opinions of the ones I am going up against. Ever since Final Fantasy IV, this series has been slicing onions in front of my face and FFVII was no different.  I LOVE THIS SERIES SO DARN MUCH.  oof.   There are a few designs from FFVI that I prefer would be brought over, but it’s still such a darn good game.

Paper Mario: The Origami King***

  • Last one.  Maybe it’s because it looked severely disappointing.  Maybe it’s because I still hoped in my heart still even after all that.  OR MAYBE.  Maybe it’s just because Nintendo and Intelligent Systems actually made another darn good Paper Mario game.  It’s different, yes.  And the next one after this will also probably be different.  But, for now let us savor the fact that this game is really darn good.  Music and writing/jokes in the Paper Mario series has ALWAYS been up to snuff, even during the Sticker Star / Color Splash era.  That checks off here too (I REALLY love the music).  I’m surprised the world and characters are built so well even after the no non-standard Mario lore restriction.  And the puzzle attack gameplay turned out quite all right.  I never would’ve thought, but this game turned out to be one of the best ones of the year.  

Maybe it’s because of quarantine or something, but I finished a ton of games.  There are still more that are not on this list, but I didn’t put them because I’ve already eaten a ton of your time.  Here’s to another year of gaming! 

The Responsibility of a Series

A Chip Off the Old Block?

This is just one big perspective thing, so if you don’t agree with it within reason, that is fine.

I think one of the interesting things about video game series, and well, any series that is in the entertainment industry, is the responsibility they have being a series.  Is there the obligation to continue being the same thing?  Or is it possible that finding the better thing is the right path?  And even more so, does the audience have a say?  Should they?

We love sequels.  I mean, at least when the game was good, we want more.  But do we really want more of the same?  If we look at sequels that people love, we can see that they gave us a brand new and great concept.  The sequel might look the same, but the development and design have definitely evolved.  I am talking about things like Super Mario Bros. 3, Dishonored 2, Half-Life 2, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between worlds.  They seem to play just like the predecessors, but there are new concepts that are brought in.  So…the same?  I don’t think so.  Can they kind of feel the same?  Yes.  Half-Life 2 does indeed feel like Half-Life 1.  Does Half-Life 1 have many physics-based puzzles and a gravity gun?  No.

So, I guess we want sequels that are not just improvements, but developments in design.  That is what we want and should be asking for if we want a sequel, not more of the same.  But…are the developers obligated to do so?  And should they?  I think… not?

“Wait, Elise, wait.  What about Mass Effect Andromeda?  That game–”

Yes, I know, it wasn’t amazing.  But if we take a closer look at what Mass Effect Andromeda feels like, it actually is more like Mass Effect 1.  Mass Effect 1 is still a great game.  So, why didn’t Andromeda feel like that?  It still feels like Mass Effect, just a very different, and older Mass Effect, but some core things have been tweaked just enough to make it not as comfortable.  Long, fetch-questy missions, and exploration that felt free, yet restricted at the same time made it feel…inefficient at feeling like Mass Effect.  Constant radiation restrictions, a lot of collectible side quests, and change in playstyle pushed fans even further away.  I think it was done in a style of Mass Effect 1 with some bad gameplay elements.  Personally I feel like the gunplay change was a good thing, but again, it was different.  Could Andromeda be the same while still being satisfying?  Yes.  I think with the same lore and content material it could’ve been better if the game felt a little bit leaner.  And saying that, yes, I think it could be that different weird Mass Effect 1 mix while still being Mass Effect.

“Okay, but how far are you going to let that go?”

I think if an idea is different enough, developers shouldn’t be using the same lore and name, because that brings up that responsibility of it having to be like the previous games.  I think it all comes down to lore.  We see games with very different lore and yet they can play similarly but still be distinguished as two different games.  Starcraft 1 and 2 feel very different.  But they still feel like Starcraft in the way that they approach the lore.  

Let me talk about two examples that have jarring differences in the audience response.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is considered a huge keystone now because of how amazing it is.  It is very different from the previous games.  It is now an open-world game with only a few small dungeons, and dozens of micro-dungeony things.  Crafting is a thing, and getting owned because you ran into a difficult monster is definitely a thing now.  Link can now climb and jump, which is very strange for the series.  The lore is still the same though.  It retains and is accepted as a new Legend of Zelda game.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is a great game with a very different fighting style than the previous four Paper Marios.  It is now more like a puzzle-adventure game.  You…kind of have partners and bosses are real life items.  You don’t level up at all.  You still have the durability item system.  World-building is fairly different.  Lore is largely the same without extremes as in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.  And …people are still hesitant to accept it as Paper Mario.  Now, you might say, well Paper Mario did GREAT with it’s first two and they shouldn’t have changed it up.  You’re right, but The Legend of Zelda also did amazing with its many predecessors.  The gameplay in Origami King is also not bad either.  Sure, it’s not like Breath of the Wild’s, but I cannot deny that Origami King is a great game in its own right.  But it still isn’t accepted very well.  So what gives?

Does the audience know what they want?  Yes.  Will they accept anything else?  … The audience of Paper Mario has become so adamant that the first two games are the only way.  A lot of Zelda fans, without hindsight bias, believed the old Legend of Zelda was the way as well.  And the big difference is that Paper Mario decided to jump off the face of the Earth and try things.  Some things worked, like Super Paper Mario, and other things didn’t, like Sticker Star and Color Splash.  Color Splash had at least a few things going for it though, I must admit.  The thing is, that is part of the process of innovation.  You fail, and that is because if you don’t you’ll never find something new.  Nintendo has a habit of taking that risk with games like Splatoon or ARMS.  Most of the time they do well.  Most of the time.  

Every time Intelligent Systems took a wrong turn, the fans strengthened their idea that the originals were the way to go.  The Legend of Zelda didn’t have the disparity of having games in the main series that were not well received.  I mean, there was Triforce Heroes, but nobody even mentions that.  I can understand the doubt with EA Games concerning their upsets with Battlefront II, Battlefield V, and Anthem, and when they finally bring something good, like Star Wars: Squadrons, people are hesitant.  Most people agree that Squadrons is a good game.  But Intelligent Systems took this one step further.  They didn’t use something familiar.  Squadrons hearkens back to the old days of 3D dogfighting, while The Origami King did something so strange and different.  

The lore still feels like Paper Mario to me.  And as a game, it is good and fun, and is that not the responsibility of a game?  

I think there is a heavy burden on developers of series to be like their predecessors, and I don’t feel like it is necessary.  I think developers have to be unafraid of changing things up to make great games.  Sometimes even to the extreme of The Origami King.  The difference between me accepting The Origami King as a good different successor and Andromeda being a mediocre successor all points to two things: is the lore the same?  Is the game still fun?

If we say yes to both, the game has met the responsibility.  Is it unfortunate that we likely will not return to the original Paper Marios?  Undeniably yes.  We may not even return to the Origami King.  But it is also fortunate that we can experience something like Origami King.  If you only choose to like one style, then you have chosen.  The truth is that they can both be great.  I think accepting that kind of breaks the status quo, and people don’t like doing that, especially as the consumer.  I am fortunate enough to be both a consumer and creator, both as a scientist and an artist, so maybe my view is very skewed. 

I think as just a consumer this can all seem kind of unfair, and, you know, that makes sense.  Unfortunately, I can’t really say that restricting what I enjoy to a narrow group of games doesn’t really seem that enjoyable to me.  

I think that’s the one thing that people despise me as a Game Praiser.  I enjoy everything, and that is both a blessing and a curse.  I place my thoughts here on this blog because I feel like it is a fairly unique viewpoint, especially with a video game audience.  I’ve met very few people who just really like gaming as a whole, and I want to share my perspective.  Maybe you completely disagree.  Haha.  That is fine!  This is just meant to be a perspective piece.

Thanks for letting me talk this out.  I’ll see you next time.

Checklist or Game? Both?

There are a lot of arguments against games that send you off on a checklist, especially if it is an open world game.  You might wonder how these games still sell when you’re just being led by the hand all the time.  This is like games that tell you exactly what to do in the quest objective and everything makes it pretty obvious: a glittering line, a ping above someone’s head, or pop-ups that tell you when something is going to happen or there is something you need to do.  Then there are side-quests or small things you can do, but they’re just pins on a map that need to be completed.  The same thing here or there.  Why do these kind of games still thrive?  I was just thinking about that this morning and I realized that it’s because although they are not exactly great game design, they can still be satisfying.

You want your player to explore and find the way by themselves.  Signposts and rules can only feel so…explorey.  But if you look at games like The Division, the Assassin’s Creed series, sometimes Skyrim or Fallout, and some others, they just pile on objectives and little collectibles everywhere.  In the end, you’re not really playing a game, you’re just doing a checklist.  Yes, you could explore without looking at the map, but since everything is already marked on the map, how much exploring are you actually doing for yourself?  

But we’re talking about why the checklist style is still present in some games.  I think it comes down to the combination of two things.  One, is just the base that checking off a list really can be satisfying.  The focus can end up focusing on checking off a list, but it’s still satisfying.  We do this with things like chores or goals that we set for us to do during quarantine so we can feel good about ourselves.  And we are doing things, so we are legitimately feeling accomplished.  

The second thing that combines with this is that video games make us feel good.  They are entertainment and art, and those two things cover such a vast distance of things that the satisfaction of checking off a list can feel like it fits in there.  I think there are times that playing a game just to check off stuff on your quest list or pick up items is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes that’s what we need at the end of the day.  We just need to feel like we’re getting stuff done.  And…I guess we are.

This satisfaction is not the same thing as playing a game with good game design though.  It is a similar trouble with art and the layman.  Both amateur and professional art can be appreciated, but the difference is difficult to distinguish for someone who doesn’t understand how the painting process or color theory works.  Both levels, and all that is in between, can still give a feeling of satisfaction, but not the same understanding of what makes an art piece seem to be at a higher level.  

I said sometimes Skyrim or Fallout, because concerning the main exploration, all the guidance is is a marker on your compass to tell you that something is nearby, which is not too bad of a hand-holding thing either.  Just enough for you to get lost in the world.  The smooth tutorials of Half-Life 2, the extremely well designed difficulty curve of Celeste, and landscape design of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild bursts into our playthroughs.  We can feel that these games push us forward and make us feel like we’re out there in the video game world doing something great, without having us check off a list.  It makes us feel like we’re doing it because we ourselves are making our own list or trudging our own way through the land.  That feeling of fun is from good design.  At the right times, I think it is possible that satisfaction of checking off a list suffices, but can be misunderstood as that same fun from good game design.  Guidance doesn’t have to be removed from a game, it is how they approach it that makes it feel good.

Entireties of games are not just the checklist though.  There are still many good gameplay and design elements in these kinds of games.  Remember that this (hopefully) does not make the whole of the game.  I personally feel like they may bring the game down a notch, but I don’t think it should cause the whole game to feel like it collapses on itself.  There are good games that are like this, and that may be because of other elements in the game that hold up what may be a lackluster guidance in the game.  Because games are such a mixed media, no one pillar of games, whether it be graphics, gameplay, sound, or something else, can really bring down the whole game, at least not easily.  

You know, I think the reasons for playing a game are really up to you.  I’m not saying to not support these games just because they have this design.  If you really enjoy them, by all means, you should play them.  But we have to remember that these two types of entertainment are indeed different.  The checklist is using gaming as a medium, while the good game design is emphasizing that it is a game and works on engineering itself to be better at that.  I’m not going to say that the checklist style is good design, just like how I wouldn’t say that my art is professional, but just like how I can still appreciate my art even though it’s not perfect, games can still be appreciated for the level or style of design that they present to us.  I mean, unless they’re a glitchy mess or highly inappropriate or something.

This is Elise.  Thanks for reading!  We’ll see you next time.

Day 8 of Genshin Impact

This will probably be the last of my Genshin Impact diary things, but not because I won’t play it anymore.  I think I’m just done writing about it.

The longer I play this game, the more it grows its own identity.  I feel like the first prologue area was a nice dedication to all the things that have influenced it so far, but once you start moving out of that area things become more refined into the idea that Genshin Impact is its own thing.

So far, I feel like I’ve gotten enough characters to get myself through most of the stuff with the wishes I have been able to use.  I don’t think I ever directly explained that.  Wishes are gachapon tickets used to get stuff.  Every 10 is a guaranteed four star or better item.  Granted, I have been given a lot of those prismogems, which are one of the cash currencies.  This will not always be the case, as most have been given for an event for starting near launch day.  I’m already satisfied with the current cast I’ve been given. 

However, I am beginning to feel the tugs of lack of resources.  I am now at Adventure Rank 21, and I’m starting to feel the thing where if I don’t play every day I am falling behind.  The strange thing about that is, for most of the content I play, I really don’t need to care that much.  Of course I care a lot about story, that’s one of my favorite aspects of a game, but the combat is fun enough to log in and just fight some monsters and log out.  There will always be monsters to fight.  Some good fights to do for fun are those ley line ones.  They cost resin, which is the energy system, but the resin replenishes every day.  If I just play a little every day, not only am I secretly grinding, but I’m also making good use of that stuff.

Everything levels up.  The characters, the artifacts your characters equip, the weapons, and the adventurer rank, which is like your account level.  The first four can get strained when they need to ascend, because they require looking for certain materials that may only drop during specific days of the week.  So yes, I am beginning to see that, but that doesn’t restrain me from playing for fun.  And when the time comes that all that time playing for fun can pay off for moving forward in the story, I think it will be okay.  My prismogem growth isn’t exactly quick though.  Maybe more events in the future can provide for that.

There is a battle pass.  I hate battle passes.  Although different from gachapon, they force the same pressure where you must spend time on the game within a set period of time or you won’t get the reward.  Even worse, you have to pay.   I suppose if you’re chunky enough in cash you can pay to get the whole thing at once.  I mean, the honest truth is that all online game events are like this, so can I really complain?  Perhaps.  

I still like the writing and the characters.  I like the voice actors, although I don’t know about the English ones.  Sorry about that.

Two more things to note before I stop this diary.  The boss battles are really fun.  I like them a lot.  They’re very fun and they really let me show off the power of each of my people.  I can also get owned when I run into one that’s way too high level for me, but that doesn’t keep me from trying (and sometimes beating) bosses that are ten levels higher than me just through my combos.  I love when RPGs let you wander into areas that are higher level areas, or that there are high level monsters hiding in lower level areas.  It’s like running into a bear in the forest.  It’s a chance high level encounter.  Disclaimer, I don’t like running into bears in the forest in real life.

The second thing I wanted to note is the Spiral Abyss, which is a rotating dungeon that is simply chambers with enemies.  Each floor has three chambers.  You have to try and beat them as fast as you can for rewards.  The twist is that you can choose buffs that affect the chamber or floor.  I really like this rotating dungeon and it almost feels rogue-lite in the manner that you can choose the buffs and that the dungeon rotates every few weeks or so.  It’s kind of like a remixed version of those floor trials like in The Legend of Zelda or Paper Mario.  I love it.

And this is where we part ways concerning the writing of Genshin Impact.  I will continue playing a little bit here and there.  It’s a good experience, and I think it’s a game worth trying out.  It’s possible if it keeps it up (and maaaaybe make it easier to not have to grind too much later) that Mihoyo pulled off a good gacha game.  I will probably write more about this in the next few months or so, but that’s it for the diaries for now.

If you’ve tried it, what are your thoughts?  

Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all next time!

Day 4 of Genshin Impact

I think there are a couple of things to note about Genshin Impact.  It looks like Breath of the Wild.  We’ve established that already, but it definitely doesn’t feel like Breath of the Wild.  Even with the climbing and gliding it feels like a very different game.  And that’s a good thing!

I said it before, but I’m saying it again, the gameplay is very good.  The flashy strikes, switching of characters, and elemental combinations make it very fun.  Regular combat is actually fun and worth playing.  It reminds me of Black Desert, but I think I like Genshin Impact’s combat a little more.  I like being able to combine elements.  The differences between characters can range greatly.  Sometimes things are very small, like how Kaeya actually takes a step back when he performs his charged normal attack, but the protagonist takes a step forward.  And of course, the big things are their actual elemental skills and stuff. I want more of that variance, in both sizes.  It’s great.

Your elemental combos actually feel like they have a punch.  You could go through fights with just one character, but you can definitely see the difference when you combine the elements to cause status effects.  Mixing both the regular and ultimate (or whatever that move is called that is on Q) combat elemental skills with the different characters is not too difficult but has high skill potential.  I especially like characters like Xingqiu.  His ultimate provides bonus wet damage even after you switch the character out.  Other characters that likewise create fields or effects that last long after you’re done with the move help create some cool combos.

The other thing I wanted to note is the writing.  I am playing the game with the audio in Chinese and the type in English.  I’m very impressed with the way they’ve translated the stuff.  A lot of the things to read are amusing or interesting.  I think it’s funny that there are some really far out dialogue choices you can make.  I mean, most of the time the only thing you’ll change is a different reaction, but it’s still fun that I can say stuff that is weird or almost meta.  I also like the things the NPCs say.  Again, they did a great job translating it to feel good.  I like it when MMOs have NPCs that wonder about life or other random things.  I ran into Ross the Quick, and he’s talking about how he feels like he shouldn’t run from things in life anymore.  He also talks about taking a break from missions, which almost feels like he knows the UI.  

A lot of MMOs from China, Japan, and Korea has great music, and I think Genshin Impact follows suit.  There are some melodies that may sound a bit familiar, but it’s still got good songs otherwise.  

So far, the cash stuff still is not demanding at all.  If I played the game a bit more intensely, maybe they will, especially later.  For now, I don’t see it as a problem.  The game has already provided me with characters that do well enough on their own.  More characters would just mean more fighting styles, which hopefully aren’t strict on their necessity.  As annoying as it would be, if that kind of content isn’t too far out of reach and I can still do all missions with the normal characters I happen to get, I think I would be okay to keep playing this game.

If I have more impressions, I will continue to post them.  Thanks for reading!~