Panzer Dragoon was a North American launch title for the Sega Saturn. Despite hearing good things, I’d never played it until recently when I saw the remake on sale as a downloadable title on Switch. It’s a rail shooter, meaning that the game follows a particular route while you can move around the screen – think Star Fox, for example.
This game features two weapons – you can hold the attack button and pass the reticle over enemies to lock onto them. After locking onto one or more enemies, letting go will shoot each of them. You can also tap the attack button to shoot a bullet without any tracking or locking onto enemies. At first I was almost using the charge attack, but I realized that you can’t lock onto enemy attacks, but you can shoot them down with your simple attack. Besides attacking, you can move around the screen as you fly forward as well as turn the camera to the sides or backwards to shoot enemies coming from any direction.
The art is pretty simple, which you can see in the above launch trailer. What I really enjoyed about the game was that it was short – less than an hour to beat it my first time. I enjoy a game that I can beat but then spend more time improving my run or playing on a harder difficulty, and Panzer Dragoon allows for both.
Checking the Switch store right now, it’s base price is $24.99 but is on sale for $2.49. It was also on sale when I bought it, and that sale was allegedly ending. I bet it’s almost always on sale. I wouldn’t pay $24.99 for it, but it’s definitely worth the reduced price. The Panzer Dragoon series also includes another Saturn rail shooter, a Saturn RPG, two handheld titles, and an Xbox rail shooter. All three rail shooters and the RPG are critically acclaimed, so I might just need to continue the series with the next one!
Hades is a rogue-like in which you control Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the Underworld. As someone who loves Greek mythology, I was thoroughly impressed with all the references and story in the game. In fact, Hades was the first video game to ever win a Hugo Award, the annual awards for science fiction and fantasy, first awarded in 1953. I’ve been playing Hades on and off for a while now, and I’ve certainly been making slow progress as I pause to look up myths and figure out references. I won’t say what the epilogue is so that we avoid the spoiler, but I recently finished the epilogue and maxed everyone’s affinity, which makes it a good time to blog about the game.
I won’t spoil any major story beats in this post; I will be showing a couple screenshots with some funny dialogue, and I’ll be mentioning the boss of the third area. This doesn’t reveal any twists or anything like that, but I don’t want someone to be disappointed they read it.
The trailer linked at the top gives a great overview of what the game is like. I was going to embed a clip of my own gameplay, but I figured using the official trailer would summarize nicely and not give away anything that wasn’t intended to be known right off the bat. Hades features fast-paced action with a ton of different character builds that will be different each escape attempt. You have some permanent upgrades to your character as well as abilities that you gain during a run but reset when you die. You also have affinity, relationships with the various other characters that can you improve through particular actions in the game.
The dialogue and lore in the game is just fantastic. In this screenshot, Dionysus mentions how he doesn’t like Theseus. “There’s this nice lass helped him out one time, and he just dumped her rotten, I don’t like that, man!” In one Greek myth, Ariadne helps Theseus defeat the minotaur and then fled with him on his ship. He leaves her behind on an island, where Dionysus later finds her before marrying her. This isn’t explicitly called out in the game, likely because it wouldn’t really further the plot, but this type of detail and reference make it even cooler for people who know the mythology.
In another part of the game, Zeus says “Ah, most splendid of an offering, young man. And while we’ve yet to even meet in person, I already feel as though the two of us are close, why, closer than you must be even with your father! Oh, hahaha! Perhaps we ought to go telling everybody I’m your real father, am I right?” In some myths of Zagreus, he is indeed the son of Zeus. The game really works in these contradicting myths in fun ways.
The other bit about contradictions that I loved was this message from Dionysus. “That chap comes up with the most smashing songs, so I was thinking, maybe we could spin him a tall tale, something like how maybe you and I, like, we’re connected or something?” In Orphism, the set of ancient beliefs based on the poet Orpheus, Dionysus is Zagreus reincarnated. It’s really cool to me how this game creates a cohesive, internally-consistent lore while still acknowledging the real-world myths that conflict with each other.
As a side note, they really downplay how all the gods are basically related to each other a hundred different ways! But I suppose that takes some of the awkwardness out of it.
There’s still a lot I could do in the game. Hades has a “heat” system in which higher heat values introduce changes to make it more difficult. I haven’t pushed past 2 or 3 heat, and I don’t have all the hidden aspects or even all the normal aspects. There are still a few prophecies (achievements) to fulfill. However, my main goal was to finish the story, earn the epilogue, and max my affinity with all the characters. I’ll likely play it a little in the future, but I met my goal. Now I’m itching to reread Homer or maybe look for another Greek mythology game. Is the God of War series fun?
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is easily one of the best games I’ve played recently and now one of my favorite platformers. You can probably guess that I wanted to explore it fully by that 100% clear screenshot. It’s fun and challenging while also being welcoming to less skilled gamers, which I think is fantastic. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by talking about an event before the game launched.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land 3D Walkthrough was a fun little pop-up back in March at Universal CityWalk Hollywood, the shops outside Universal Studios Hollywood. They had these various photo-ops with Kirby characters and gave attendees small draw-string bags and lanyards. My friend gem came with me, and I’m glad she asked about fun poses because someone working there suggested posing as if my foot was getting stomped by the hammer! I also love the photo implying I got hit by Car Mouth Kirby!
I brought my backlit Game Boy Pocket so I could play a little classic Kirby Pinball Land too! Or maybe I didn’t really play it at all and just recorded it for the Internet. I’ll never tell.
I wasn’t done looking for Kirby in the real world, because I also heard that Target had these Kirby covers on their red ball bollards. I definitely had to go hunting for them! I think I probably checked close to 10 Targets before finding one that had them. Then I had to ask gem to come out again to take photos of me with them. Tangentially related, multiple people commented on my Aquabats t-shirt that day!
Now let’s talk about the game itself. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first main series Kirby game to be fully explorable in 3D. Like most Kirby games, it’s bright, colorful, and fun – at least at first. It does get darker at the end, but it’s nothing that would be bad for children. The world shown in the above screenshot of the game was one of my favorites because I absolutely loved the bright colors and amusement park setting.
gem was playing the game at the same time as me, so it was fun to talk about it and compare what we were doing and what we thought. At first, I was trying to 100% each level as I went, but later I decided to just try to beat the game and then come back to 100% each part. The final boss was quite challenging, and then there was a whole additional post-game world to master!
The game features “mouth full mode” for the first time. Rather than just sucking up enemies to gain abilities based on them, Kirby can stretch around large objects to control them. In this video, Coaster Mouth Kirby rides the rollercoaster!
The levels feature gorgeous cinematic intros as well that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What I love most about the game is its variable difficulty with so many optional goals. You can choose between Wild Mode and Spring-Breeze Mode at any time. In Wild Mode, enemies are tougher and you have less health, but you earn bonus coins that are used for upgrades and power-ups. You can change difficulties at any time, but you’ll need to restart the current level to do so. I played in Wild Mode, but I’m glad the easier option was available too.
More important than that in my opinion is all the side goals. Like most platformers, the goal of most levels is simply to get to the end of the stage. But each level also has a number of other tasks that reward additional Waddle Dees to be saved, a way of marking progress in the game, as well as other collectibles. A younger or less experienced player might choose to blow through each level and ignore all the extra collectibles and goals. By doing this, the game can feel much easier than it would if the player wanted the additional challenge. I think it’s fantastic that I can truly challenge myself to 100% the game and feel accomplished by doing so, but I can also let my friend’s young son borrow the game and watch as he enjoys it too. A game that I can 100%, that I can give to my friend’s son to enjoy, and that I can give to a different friend as one of a few wedding presents? Love it!
Like I said at the top, this is one of the best games I’ve played in a while, and I’m surprised it’s not getting a bit more attention. I highly recommend it anyone who loves platformers or for kids who want to have some fun in the beautiful levels!
Bowser’s Fury is the new game added to the rerelease of Super Mario 3D World in the aptly named Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury for Switch. Super Mario 3D World was absolutely terrific on Wii U, and Bowser’s Fury was a wonderful addition.
Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World are now some of my favorite Mario games. I realize they don’t have the nostalgia that the earlier games do, but I enjoy the more abstract 3D levels over the world design of the other 3D titles. And while I know the Galaxy games are also abstract, I prefer the 3D Land and 3D World design. With four player local co-op in 3D World, it’s really great fun.
Bowser’s Fury plays with the 3D World engine but adds a different spin. It’s an open world with areas that change and unlock as you unlock more cat shines. You play as Mario who helps Bowser Jr. calm/fight his dad, now known as Fury Bowser after being corrupted by goop. He’s a giant kaiju-like Bowser that Mario fights as Giga Cat Mario, which also makes him kaiju-sized. I had a blast with Bowser’s Fury, and while it’s short compared to full Mario games, the price of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was definitely worth it just to play Bowser’s Fury.
I beat the game in May after collecting 50/100 cat shines. I embedded a video at the top with some clips of the ending stitched together. I haven’t had time to go after the remaining cat shines, but I plan to get back to it soon!
K.K. Slider visited Luna for the first time last week! I’m excited to get him to visit!
I finally spoke to Isabelle because I was curious how my island was doing. I wasn’t focusing on anything in particular to get K.K. Slider to visit. As soon as I checked with her, K.K. Slider wanted to visit!
Now I get my buddy K.K. Slider every Saturday! I love his songs and am glad he’s back again!
Some friends visited Saturday to listen to the concert.
Sunday was supposed to be Dapper Day at Disneyland, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. They encouraged Dapper Day at Home, so I threw a Dapper Day party on my island, Luna!
From left to right, that’s Jenn, Joe, gem, Duncan, me, Aren, and Haley! While they weren’t shown in this screenshot, Niki and Steph visited as well.
gem from calamansi was looking very dapper on her third day of owning the game!
DrAstroPhD (Joe) from Drapland was quite the striking duck.
Tarok (Aren) from Thighland was oh-so-handsome.
Duncan from Robot Isle was stylish and our second duck.
Jenn from Calico had a variety of cute outfits and was our third duck! I especially liked the outfit you can see her wearing at the top of this post. Disneybound Donald Duck!
HAywinz (Haley) from `meruem` was not only looking good, but she brought me a cherry-blossom wand, and I’m so excited to be able to transform my outfits! Thank you!
Nikē (Niki) from Avalon was fabulous and quite purple.
Stay_Fresh (Steph) from Sty’lnd was indeed looking fresh in her dapper dress!
I hosted a scavenger hut by burying a ton of junk, a few bags of bells, and two pieces of fencing around the island. The fence pieces could be redeemed with me for Nook Miles Tickets! Congratulations to Joe and Duncan (I think)!
At one point Duncan led an assault on me!
Niki, Jenn, gem, and I played in the aquarium a little.
Jenn also shared the pitfall with us so we could all learn the recipe. Plus, somehow a few of us fell in accidentally!
Happy Dapper Day! It’s too bad we didn’t get to have it in person, but I enjoyed playing on Luna with my friends!
I visited Nikē recently, and we spent some time exploring her island. I can’t believe it was our first time playing together!
Okay, I’m dumb and accidentally took a screenshot instead of taking the photo in the game. Oops.
She invited me to her island so she could craft me cherry blossom items that I was missing. Sounds nice of her, right? But deep down, Nikē had scary motives. She came in the bathroom and watched me as I try the bidet! You can already see how alarming it was when the water hit me, but it was so much weirder with her watching.
And then she used the toilet with me! What happens on this island? Why are there side-by-side toilets? Why is the bathroom covered in turnips?! Oh god!
Bunny Day was the first major holiday in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and I’m just glad it’s over. If you didn’t play it, basically everything you do could drop eggs, and those eggs were used as materials to craft items. But there were way, way too many eggs. Nintendo nerfed the drop rates a couple days into the event, which is good, but this is still a bad sign for future events.
That said, it didn’t stop me from collecting everything and creating a Bunny Day room.
Here it is with the lights off. I really like the Bunny Day lamp, which is an egg, and the garlands that can be turned on and off.
You can see a little clip showcasing my Bunny Day room above!
Speed Dating for Ghosts is a dating sim and visual novel in which you’re, as you might guess, a ghost.
I like Spooky Peter because of his name! Unlike most dating sims I’ve played in the past, Speed Dating for Ghosts doesn’t involve a long campaign in which you choose a single partner over the course of the game. In this game, you’ll end up on a date after a few minutes of playing. Afterwards, you can return to the speed dating location and choose to go on another date.
Speed Dating for Ghosts is definitely a little out there compared to similar games. It’s less about romance and more about companionship, loneliness, and self-discovery.
Plus in the DLC, you meet a dog! Oh, and you also meet a demon and the ghost of a vampire. Speed Dating for Ghosts was funny but frank about death, and I really enjoyed it. It’s available on PC, Switch, and iOS, and it was under $10 when I bought it on Switch. It looks like it’ $5.24 right now. I recommend it!
The stringfish was one of the fish that was going away at the end of March. It was March 31st and approaching midnight, and I still hadn’t caught it. The clocked rolled over into April. And then I saw a shadow of a fish. I ran for it, and I got the stringfish I needed!
Here I am enjoying a nice bamboo island.
When lightning strikes, the sky flashes for a brief moment.
I really love the sky in this game.
Look, a shooting star!
Lastly, my resident services and plaza got upgraded today! Hooray! Now, I need to continue searching for Stitches!