My Time With The Gameboy Advance

This is it. This is the device that kept me in the gaming sphere until the mid to late 2000s. While most people were enjoying the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, or whatever the hell the N-Gage was, I had this pocket sized gaming machine by my side. 

Growing up in a low income household had its challenges; one of them being not being able to afford some of the things other kids your age had. We were very fortunate to have a mom that worked her hardest to allow me and my brothers to have some of the things that we wanted. We had every Nintendo system up to the Gamecube at the time, but finding time to play is hard when you have to share one system and tv with two other people. That is where the Gameboy came in handy. Instead of fighting over who’s turn it was to use the TV, I could sit on the couch or lay in bed and play one of the few handheld games that I had. This could also explain how I was a late bloomer to many modern games. One of the best surprises that our mom was able to give was giving each of us our own Gameboy Advance (SP model) for Christmas or some other event that I don’t remember. 

I had the Cobalt Blue Gameboy Advance SP model. Coming from the Gameboy Color, this was a big upgrade. The rechargeable battery and backlit screen were the hallmark of this device. No more begging my mom for batteries or being restricted to where I could play. Now I could play on the couch for as long as I want while my relatives warned me that I was going to ruin my eyesight (but would tell me to sit, be quiet, and watch TV?). It did have its flaws though. The SP model did not have a headphone jack. I had to go out of my way to buy a special headset that connected to the charging port in order to not annoy anyone with my boops and beeps. A big complaint for someone who likes listening to video game soundtracks.

I took my GBA with me wherever I went outside the house. Before people were addicted to having their smartphones at all times, I was the kid who would never put his GBA down. I would play it in the car to school each day and would have to leave it in my mom’s car so I wouldn’t get in trouble with it. Any long car ride or band trip would always be accompanied by my trusty GBA with my cool travel case that I still have to this day. If there was ever a decline in my reading habits, it was because my hands were preoccupied with playing my GBA.

So let’s talk about some of the games that I played on this bad boy. I will be honest and say that I have no recollection of the order that I got most of my GBA games. Normally in this format I would go in order of the games I’ve purchased/received, but I can’t do that this time. So let’s start with some well known titles.

Final Fantasy (Gameboy Advance Ports)

The Gameboy Advance was my gateway to the Final Fantasy series. Up until this point, I had never encountered the series outside watching my older cousins play Final Fantasy VII. The order that I played these games is kinda scrambled, so let’s just go in order.

Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls is a great port of the first two Final Fantasy games. Until I get around to playing the PSP or Pixel Remastered versions, this might be my favorite way to play these games. There isn’t much to say about the first Final Fantasy, but I do have words about the second game. I don’t hate Final Fantasy II. I didn’t hate my first playthrough since I had nothing to compare it to back in the day. I had to play it a second time since the music player will only appear if there are finished saved files for both games.. You would think that to cut your losses since it is just a music player, but before the age of good internet, this was the only way to listen to this music. Besides, if I didn’t replay FFII I would have never discovered that you can cast the Teleport spell on all enemies and bosses, and beat the game easily that way. The only time it won’t work on is the final boss, but even without increasing my proficiency in other other stats, I was still able to beat him with no problem. Give it a try! It is fun to just teleport your problems somewhere else.

Next was Final Fantasy IV. Up until recently, FFIV was my least favorite Final Fantasy game. I found playing through it at first to be completely boring. I didn’t find any of the characters interesting besides Rydia, and the progression of the story just felt stale to me. I would get around to finishing FFIV via the DS version of the game. After playing through that version, I found myself looking at this game more positively for some reason. It could be the wisdom with age thing, but FFIV still holds up to this day.

Final Fantasy V is my least favorite Final Fantasy game so far. I just recently finished it this year, and it is just bland to me. If I had played it back in the mid 2000s, I would have probably been all over this. Early 2020s however, there are other games that use the job system way better.

In the war between my favorite Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI is a top contender (fighting FFIX). This game is almost perfect to me. The multiple characters, the amazing soundtrack, and watching the world actually decline into chaos is done so well in this game. I’m just happy that I decided to pick this game up randomly from one of the infamous band school trips. My copy of the game is a little special since it will wipe the memory clean off if you drop it or touch it in a way that it does not like. This is one of the reasons why I never finished it until 2020 when I forced myself to sit down and play it without removing it from my Gameboy Player. I know the general consensus is that the GBA version is not the best way to play this game, but it is my preferred way since the audio compression doesn’t bother me. I own the full soundtrack so I can listen to that at the best quality whenever I feel like it. My opinion may change whenever Square decides to release the Pixel Remastered on something besides PC and phones.

Pokémon (Sapphire & LeafGreen)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Out of the two mainline Pokémon versions that came out, Leaf Green was definitely the one that I put the most time into. Pokémon Sapphire was the first Pokémon game that I got on the system, but my memories of my first time in Horen are kinda spotty. I remember finding a shiny Sharpedo and Duskull in game by myself, but other than that, I don’t remember much of what I did in those games. It doesn’t help that I started over in it a few times.

The real memories come from Pokémon LeafGreen. This was a birthday present for me that came out of nowhere, so it is pretty special to me. This would be the first Pokémon game that I would go on to almost complete the game 100% (almost finished the National Dex). I would find myself constantly playing this game and it would help bridge the rocky relationship I had with my younger brother at the time. Even though Gen 1 is not one of the best generations in Pokémon, I still cherish this game. The only regret I have is letting my brother erase my save file since I had moved on. Only a reason to one day grind everything out.

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones

I never knew about the Fire Emblem series until my younger brother decided to get Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on the Gamecube. What he thought was a traditional JRPG was this turn-based strategy game with swords and magic. That didn’t stop both of us from enjoying it, but it did put the series on my radar. So of course I spent my lunch money on a copy of Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones on one of my many trips. Sacred Stones is a solid Fire Emblem game that I hardly hear people talk about. I think that the roster is a nice balance of units that make use for any situation. The story is straightforward and doesn’t include other plot points outside the main story. It also has a way to level up your characters outside the main story by finding encounters on the world map to help beef up any units that you need. The endgame tower is also a good challenge if you want to make your way to the top and recruit some special characters on the way. All in all, Sacred Stones is a solid Fire Emblem game that needs more recognition. I do have to confess that for some reason in the past, I sold my copy just so I could have money to buy another game (I don’t remember which one). Luckily, Kat owned a copy so I didn’t have to go out of my way to find a new one.

Tales of Phantasia

“If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the heart of man.”

These words were my introduction to the Tales of series. What looked like an ordinary JRPG that I decided to buy one day would eventually lead me to one of my favorite series. I just had to get through this game first. If you have experienced the GBA port of Tales of Phantasia, you know how bad this game is. How I managed to stick through it and finish it is a feat that I have no idea how I pulled off. From restricted controls to work on a GBA to a treasure trove of mistranslations, the thing that kept me invested in Tales of Phantasia was a time traveling story that I had never experienced. This also introduced me to my favorite video game antagonist, Dhaos. If Phantasia did anything right, it was introducing this monster of an antagonist and making him feel human at the same time. I enjoyed Phantasia, but dear lord I do not want to play the GBA version again. One of these days I will write about this game and the rest of the series. I will still not get over the fact that I beat all three forms of Dhaos at the end by spamming Tiger Blade and stun locking him in a corner.

Yu Gi Oh!

Since middle school, I have been a fan of the Yu Gi Oh! Trading Card Game. I would collect cards and watch the show, but I never had friends to play the game with. Luckily, there were a ton of Yu Gi Oh! games available on the GBA. There were two Yu Gi Oh! games that I had that I equally enjoyed for different reasons. The first one was Yu Gi Oh! GX Duel Academy. I know this game is viewed as one of the worse Yu Gi Oh! games that you can play, but when you don’t have the opinion of the internet to tell you this, then you don’t see its flaws. In Duel Academy, you are a student at Duel Academy where your goal is to become the King of Games. You do this by preparing for your exams and meeting requirements to increase your rank. Each exam requires you to answer ten questions about the cards, a duel puzzle that you have to solve as quickly as possible, and then a duel using specific rules for that exam. I can see this being annoying to some, but I was really into it at the time. There are story beats that happen when certain conditions are met, but I never figured out what made them trigger. I may just be the odd one out of the group, but I really like this game.

The second Yu Gi Oh! game that I had was Yu Gi Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006. Seeing a title like this, you would think it would have this story of working your way through a tournament to become the next King of Games. This is what I thought when I picked it up during a band trip, but to my dumb surprise it wasn’t. This game is basically an introduction to the 2006 Yu Gi Oh! rule set and new cards that were released around the time. There is no story or real goal in this game. There is a campaign and a few modes that require you to use your big brain to work around and complete each challenge. You would think I would find this game boring since around this time I still didn’t know the best way to construct a functional deck, but something about this game kept me playing for a long time. The presentation is nice and simple, and the soundtrack is something that I still get stuck in my head from time to time. I would spend time just creating new decks and take the time to test them and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I never “finished” the game, but I think it is one that I could if I took the time to focus on the challenges (especially since this game doesn’t go past the GX era of cards and rules).

Other Games

This last bit goes out to the games that I played, but don’t have a lot to say about them. 

Like most young boys who had access to Toonami, my brothers and I were big fans of DragonBall Z. If we had the chance to play a DBZ game, chances are we would find a way to play it. The GBA had a lot of Dragon Ball games, but the first ones that come to mind are the Legacy of Goku games. Dragon Ball RPG games that followed the events of the story with subplots added in and glitches to take advantage of. I would have loved more of these on different consoles, but nothing has come close to the feeling of these games (I do own Kakarot, but haven’t played it yet). Besides the Legacy of Goku games, we also had Supersonic Warriors. This was a cool 2D fighting game that introduced us to the world of DBZ “what if” stories. It was a fun game that I could easily recommend. There was also Dragon Ball GT: Transformations; a game that I will advise to stay far away from (GT Theme intensifies).

Did you know that a sequel to Gunstar Heroes came out on the GBA? I didn’t until a good friend of mine gave me it one year for Christmas. Gunstar Super Heroes plays just like the original, but with less flashing lights. The sprite work in the game makes keeping track of what is going on so much easier and adds some nice designs to each character. The only issue that makes this inferior to the original is that the game does not support multiplayer. That is a shame since the multiplayer in the original Gunstar Heroes is what makes that game fun. Maybe one day in the future, Sega will release this title to modern platforms with multiplayer (not holding my breath on that one).

You know what game really needs a remake? The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Minish Cap is a short and fun Zelda game that I really enjoyed. This game was developed in collaboration with Capcom; whom also co-developed my favorite Zelda game of all time. This is probably why I enjoyed it. It had such a neat concept that no other Zelda game has done (like Seasons) and had a lot of potential with its shrinking mechanic (like changing the seasons in Seasons). Nintendo would rake in the money if this game got the same treatment like Link’s Awakening did on the Switch. What I’m trying to get at is that Nintendo needs to stop screwing around with whatever it is they are doing and remake the Oracle games for Switch. I guess you can add Minish Cap in there as well.

The End of a Legacy

As you can expect, all good things come to a somewhat end. At some point, my GBA SP was starting to show some wear and tear. The first thing to go was the charging port. I was unable to charge the battery in my GBA. To get around this issue I would take the battery out and put it in my brother’s GBA in order to charge it. Annoying? Yes. Did it work? Yup, and that’s all that mattered. What I couldn’t fix at the time was the “death” of my GBA SP. In a scenario that is so familiar to me, I let my younger brother borrow my GBA. He got mad at the game he was playing and slammed my GBA on the floor. He managed to break the LCD screen under the glass cover. I’m pretty sure we fought, but since it happened at my grandma’s house I don’t think fists were thrown. I was devastated. My second personal console destroyed by my younger brother. You would think I would learn my lesson at this point, but no. No handheld survives when I’m being nice and let someone borrow it.  For a while after that incident, I was left without a handheld system to play my games on unless my older brother was gracious to let me use his (he became very protective for good reasons). 

Eventually, I got my own DS and could once again enjoy my childhood (until history repeated itself). I held on to my GBA since it was special to me and I couldn’t just throw it away since I had no means of fixing it. I have plenty of options now, but I haven’t had the need to repair it. Marrying Kat came with not just one, but two GBAs that she and her dad used to play back in the day (neither one of them care for them now, so I happily accepted them). I also have a Game Boy Advance Player for my Gamecube now, so I can enjoy the games on a bigger screen if I choose. Sadly, if anything, there is no point in me fixing my GBA unless I personally just want it back in working order (I would also need a new battery and back cover).

I will always cherish my time with the Game Boy Advance. In some way, it helped me during hard times and kept me engaged in a hobby that I still enjoy to this day. There are still several games that I need to play and finish on the console, and hopefully one day I can cross them off the list. If you still have your GBA from way back in the day, buy it a beer one me next year since it will be of legal drinking age.

Honorable Mentions (Games I Got Later In Life or Sold):

  • Advance Wars
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
  • Fire Emblem
  • Golden Sun
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age
  • Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
  • Mega Man Zero 4
  • Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire
  • Sigma Star Saga
  • Sonic Advance 3
  • Yu Yu Hakusho – Ghost Files: Tournament Tactics

We Need A 3D Castlevania Collection. My Experience The Early 3D Castlevania Games.

For the past three years, I have dedicated the month of October to play different Castlevania games. Ever since Symphony of the Night, I have been trying to play as many games in the series that I can before the fatigue hits. Last year, I played through all of the Gameboy Advance games thanks to the Castlevania Advance Collection that came out last year. This year, I wanted to swim in the murky waters of the early 3D Castlevania titles. The only game in this “collection” that I didn’t play was Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Not because the first Castlevania game on the N64 dissuaded me from playing it, but because I do not own a copy of the game. Most of these games are foreign to me since I have never played them before. In total, there were three and a quarter games played and finished.


Castlevania (1999)

Release Date: January 26, 1999
Platform: Nintendo 64
Canon to Story: Non-canon

I was really looking forward to this game. This game is not foreign to me since I once rented it from my local video store long ago. I never made it far in the game since you are required to have a Controller Pack in order to save the game. So after all these years, I was ready to tackle the very first 3D Castlevania game. Unfortunately, I could not finish the game. I had reached a point in the game where I was just tired and frustrated with the game design, that I just put the controller down and moved on.

Castlevania (1999) was the first Castlevania game on the Nintendo 64, and the very first game in the series to be in 3D. For a first attempt, there were some ideas that worked to set the mood. The design of the stages and some of the effects are creative and interesting. I was impressed with the effects of lighting hitting the trees in the first stage, and watching them fall on fire until the flames extinguished. The stage within the mansion was a fresh change since no two rooms in the mansion were exactly the same. There were some good design ideas that we placed in the game that I unfortunately did not get to see.

The story of the game follows two protagonists that you choose at the beginning. First, you have Reinhard Schneider, an heir to the Belmont Clan of Vampire Hunters and someone who looks like he belongs in the 1980s and not the 1850s (when the game takes place). He plays like a normal (non)Belmont would with his trusty whip and sub weapons that are staples to the series. His plot device is that he is a vampire hunter and must do what his clan does best, slaying Dracula. Then you have Carrie Fernandez. Carrie is a gifted magic user who uses magical projectiles and is probably related to the Belnades Clan. Her plot device is that she senses evil energy coming from Vlad’s Pad and must go defeat it for her clan. Both characters’ stories are similar minus two different stages unique to each character. Other noteworthy characters in this game are Charles Vincent, a guy who really loves Jesus, and Malus, the guy who plays the violin at the start menu of the game that may or may not be Dracula (depends on the ending you get).

Once you start playing the game, that is when you can tell that this was a first attempt at making a 3D action/platforming game. Let me go ahead and talk about my biggest complaint about the game, the camera. Oh dear lord, the camera in this game. For a game that started development in April 1997, you would think by the time it was released in January 1999 that the developers would have seen how other developers handled the camera operations in their games. Out of all four C buttons, only one controls the camera, and it basically just shifts how the camera works. You have your standard “Normal” camera that is positioned a set distance from your character, but will adjust haphazardly to what it thinks is the ideal position. You then have an “Action” view which just spins the camera around so that you can see around you. It will still act like the “Normal” camera and adjust haphazardly to your character. Thirdly, there is the “Battle” view. Battle view keeps enemies in focus and will attempt to adjust the camera to how your character is looking at an enemy. Finally, there is the “Boss” view that is only accessible while you are fighting bosses. This camera keeps things focused on the boss at all times and will actively try to help them as well. What makes this camera scheme annoying is that you have to toggle between them one at a time to get the angle that you want. It is like the developers didn’t know which camera angle would be best for the game, so they opted to go with multiple angles that the player could decide on when needed. In theory, this is a good idea since it compensates for each players’ needs, but in practice it just doesn’t work in this game. There are many platforming sections in the game that require accurate landing or it will cost you an instant game over. For someone who has a hard time with 3D platforming to begin with, these moments were more stressful than certain other moments in the game that are designed to stress you out. If there is one element that made the game miserable to play, it is the camera 100%.

Another thing that felt off about this game was something I didn’t really realize until I did some research about the game. This Castlevania game implemented something in any other game in the series, horror. If there is one thing Castlevania is not is being scary. There are a lot of horror elements sprinkled in this game straight from Horror Movies 101. This is evident in a beginning scene where you open a gate and a giant skeleton greets you with a “jump scare.” This didn’t click to me that it was supposed to be a jump scare since I knew it was coming, but other instances did invoke that stressful feeling. When you first reach the villa, there is a fight where you have to fight a Cerberus in complete darkness. At first I thought that it was some weird glitch, but no. It was an intentional game design to frighten the player. The moment it really clicked for me however is when you are escaping the garden maze. Not only are there two dogs chasing after you that you cannot kill, the developers decided to throw in Frankenstein with a chainsaw to add to the nightmare. The inclusion of these suspenseful moments in a series that is not scary at all is something I was not expecting from this game, and may be another factor that made me put this down. I play Castlevania for the exploration, cool gothic design, and bumping soundtrack. Raising my heart rate with these cheap scare tactics was not on my list when I decided to play this.

Will I return to Castlevania (1999) at some point? Maybe. At the time of playing, I was just getting increasingly frustrated with the enemy respawn rate, the stress level of annoying platforming and racing the clock to get the good ending, the questionable mechanic of waiting for specific things to happen with the in-game clock, and the FREAKING CAMERA. I wish I had a copy of Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness so that I could compare the two to see if some of the frustrating bits got ironed out. If I do return to this game, it will probably be on my own time where I can take things slow without the pressure of finishing within a time frame. I won’t say that it is the worst game that I played in the series, but it is definitely not one of the greatest.


Castlevania: Lament of Innocence 

Date Released: October 21, 2003
Platform: PlayStation 2
Canon to Story: Beginning of timeline

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence was the second attempt of creating a 3D Castlevania title (Legacy of Darkness was mostly made with assets that the developers could not put into Castlevania 1999). In a GameSpot interview in 2003, Igarashi mentions that the developers had learned from the Castlevania games on the N64, and wanted to make a 3D Castlevania that actually felt like a Castlevania game. They definitely succeeded in that effort, but there are glimpses in this game that make it feel like a safe, second chance at making a 3D Castlevania game.

Lament of Innocence was created to tell the origin story of the series and how the Belmont clan became involved in this eternal nightmare. Set in 1094, Leon Belmont hunts a vampire named Walter Berhard who has kidnapped his betrothed, Sara (as you do as a vampire). In order to reach the dastard, Leon has to defeat five bosses in order to gain access to Walter’s Lair. Leon receives assistance from an alchemist named Rinaldo who gives him a whip that will later become the famous Vampire Killer. There is also Leon’s friend Mathias who is one who informs Leon about Walter, and only shows up at the end of the game (I will get into that later). 

I was really excited to finally have an excuse to play this game. My final thoughts are that it is a good Castlevania game that’s a mix between the old and new format of the series. Lament of Innocence tries to be a Metroidvania game like Symphony of the Night, but due to the design of the gameplay it feels more like the linear games with branching paths that may or may not have items for you to collect. All six areas of the game feel the same. You move from room to room connected by hallways, where you then have to fight all the enemies in a room in order to unlock the next door to progress. There is a lack of detail that distinguishes each room unless it holds some importance and wants the player to know that something may be different about this room. Ninety percent of the game just felt like I was moving from one end of the map to the other, while retracing some steps in order to unlock my way to the area boss.

Lament of Innocence has some really good elements. Combat is fun even thought it can get repetitive at times. Like any Belmont, Leon uses his whip primarily while using sub weapons that can be picked up. Leon can find different elemental whips to take advantage of weakness, and orbs all you to change the effect of sub weapons. These items help with taking down trickier enemies and solving puzzles. The soundtrack is also on point with House of Sacred Remains and Leon’s Theme being some of my all time favorites from the series. An interesting tidbit is that the composer of the game, the beautiful and talented Michiru Yamane, was instructed to not include many familiar tunes in the game since this was the beginning of the series and the things we know and love hadn’t been established yet.

So let’s talk about the things that broke me in Lament of Innocence. Please welcome back to the roasting pit, the camera. After learning that having four different camera perspectives does not make the game better, Instead, Lament of Innocence takes all camera control away from the player and will adjust to help keep Leon at the center of the screen. This is not an issue since it doesn’t make fighting and running from room to room painful, but it does make one part extremely difficult, platforming. There are platforming sections in this game, as well as a mechanic where Leon can latch his whip onto guard rails to clear some distances. The camera in this game does not make some of these platforming sections easy as it should. Since my brain only has the information that the camera can show me, there were many times where I would overshoot or completely miss where I was trying to land. This makes things even frustrating when you need to use the whip latch mechanic for certain speed challenges, but can’t get the distance or timing right to get past these parts (I forgot to mention the game is very stingy with timing your whip latches).

Outside of my camera and platforming issues, the only other issue that I had with the game was the story (mostly towards the end). My grudge is about Leon’s closest friend, Matthias. In the prologue, we learn that Matthais’ wife Elisabetha dies suddenly and he falls to despair. We learn at the very end of the game that he orchestrated Leon battling Walter in order to absorb Walter’s soul and become the Vlad Dracula Tepes that we know and love today. My problem is Walter’s reveal feels like it comes out of nowhere and doesn’t fit narratively. You never see Matthais in person until this moment at the end of the game when he pops in and then peace out. You don’t even get to confront him at the end. Instead, Death appears and becomes the final boss of the game. What makes this frustrating from a narrative point of view is that the reveal is supposed to be a twist that the player is not supposed to see coming, but the twist fails because there were no hints given that this would happen. You can make the argument that Matthias planned this since he was the one who told Leon about Walter in the prologue, but for me that is a big detail that should be reminded in the story and not just in the prologue. I may have appreciated the reveal more if Matthias was more present in the story and was helping Leon throughout the journey. It would have made the ending a more tragic one after watching along with Leon losing his betrothed and best friend in a single night. I wish we got a follow up to this story from either Matthias point of view, or something that happened in the 300 years between this and Dracula’s Curse (maybe we would have if Iga had the chance). 

Finishing Lament of Innocence took no time at all. I do own the strategy guide book to this game, so I referred to it to check on any items that I may have missed (there is one hidden item that is really easy to miss without a guide). In my eight hour playthrough, I was able to explore 92% of the entire castle and missed out on four relics and one orb that you get for fighting an optional boss. With an extra hour or two, I could have 100 percent the game on my first playthrough. You do unlock another vampire named Joachim as a playable character when you enter his name when creating a new file; and you can play in Crazy mode when you enter @CRAZY as your name in a new file. I’m glad I finally got to play this game after all this time. If this game were to get the same remastered treatment, I would definitely dip my toes back into it.

Games Stats:

Date Started: October 1, 2022
Date Finished: October 9, 2022
Total Play Time: 8 Hours
Percentage Completed: 94.3%


Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

Release Date: November 1, 2005
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Canon to Story: 3 Years after Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

I had no expectations when I started this game. Like Lament of Innocence, I had no prior knowledge to this game or how it operated. Now that I have finished it, it is the best 3D Castlevania game in the series. I wouldn’t put it over the 2D Metroidvania games (maybe Circle of the Moon), but it is pretty high on my rankings. From gameplay, story, and progression, this game felt well crafted and kept me engaged from start to finish. 

Curse of Darkness takes place three years later after the events of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. In Dracula’s Curse, Trevor Belmont defeats Dracula along with his companions. Curse of Darkness tells the story of Dracula’s actual curse that is spreading across the land due to his defeat. The narrative follows the struggles of two Devil Forgemasters; Hector, a former servant of Dracula, and Isaac, another servant of Dracula who is trying to revive him. After setting the stages for his plan, Isaac edges Hector to regain his former power and defeat once his powers have returned in full. Hector accepts as he seeks revenge for the death of his fiancée by Isaac’s schemes. Hector meets different allies and foes in his journey, including Trevor who seeks to stop Dracula’s resurrection by his own means.

I have come to learn that my favorite Castlevania games are the ones where you don’t primarily play as a Belmont. Symphony of the Night has Alucard, Aria of Sorrow has Soma, Order of Ecclesia has Shanoa, and Curse of Darkness has Hector. Being a Devil Forgemaster and a former subordinate of Dracula, Hector uses more than just a whip and the power of Jesus to fight his battles. Like a non-Belmont, Hector uses a range of weapons from swords, axes, lances, his fist, shuriken, and an electric guitar (that one was weird to find). What makes Hector different is that no two items of the same family operate the same way. You have your one-handed swords that are different from the two-handed variety, but Hector’s moveset will alter slightly based on the principles of that weapon. It is a great detail that shows understanding how that weapon would be used effectively instead of just this one is for stabbing while this one is for slashing. Hector is able to use combos with each weapon, making using each weapon type available valuable and gives incentive to switch out from time to time (that and another mechanic).

Hector has more than just his weapons. Being a Devil Forgemaster, he is able to summon monsters (Innocent Devils or I.D.s in this case) to help him in battle and navigation. Familiars in Castlevania games are not new, but they are far more useful and reliable in this game. There are five different types of I.D.s: Fairy, Battle, Bird, Mage, and Devil (also Pumpkin as a joke). Fairies are used mostly for healing and support, but they are also responsible for opening treasure chests for Hector. Bird I.D.s help protect Hector from flying enemies and provide a general barrier for him, but also help Hector glide over large gaps. Along with this, there is a monster raising mechanic that helps level up your I.D.s and eventually evolving them to more powerful demons with more abilities. In order to evolve your I.D.s, you need to farm Evo Crystals from monsters that you defeat on the regular. Crystals drop in different colors depending on the type of weapon that you are using. This is where changing your weapon from time to time comes in handy since each I.D. has a branching path to the next evolution that corresponds to a weapon type’s evo crystal. This made the I.D. system fun to use since certain I.D.s can only be obtained in a specific evolution path.

You are all going to be shocked about this next comment. It only took the developers three games to get it right, but the camera in this game actually works. No longer are we restricted to a fixed camera. You have full control of the camera in this game, and it made me jump for joy when I discovered this. There isn’t a lot of platforming in this game, but just having the ability to turn the camera around just so I can see everything around me was something I really missed. This alone makes it the best 3D Castlevania game.

I also had a fun time with the bosses in this game. Typical monsters didn’t give me too much trouble, but the humanoid opponents felt like intense dances to the death. The two Isaac and Trevor fights put me on edge since they are both fast and resourceful. Isaac will summon his own I.D.s to fight with him, so it felt like a game of summoning the right I.D. to counter his own. With Trevor, he fights like a true Belmont. His whip and sub weapons are brutal, but are not hard to avoid or see coming. I am not the type of person who is good at parrying, but parrying their attacks felt so good since it always opened the path to pass their defenses. The fight with Dracula may be the hardest Dracula fight I have ever been in. Like every Dracula encounter, he has two phases where you fight the elusive spell caster in the first part, and then the brute devil in the second. This fight took a lot out of me since I had to pause for a moment and come up with a strategy to tackle both phases with the limited amount of healing items that I had (I forgot to mention that you are only allowed to buy 5 potions, 3 high potions, and any other healing items can only be obtained by finding them or dropped from enemies). I brought in two fairy I.D.s with me for some healing options, but there was only so much they could do when Vlad does so much damage. I was only able to defeat him when I decided to not summon any of my I.D.s during the first phase, and pile on the assault during the second phase. It also helped that I remembered that I had other weapons that did way more damage than the sword I was using; and that a more powerful weapon would do more damage…

I do have my share of complaints since the game isn’t completely perfect. While the environments are more distinguishable this time around, I found the enemy variety completely repetitive. From my memory, there are around 20ish enemy designs in the game that just get slightly altered throughout the game. Not the biggest complaint, but Castlevania is known for having a lot of monster designs that feel unique. I was just getting tired at some points fighting the same horde of skeletons, but this time with bluish bones. I also wish Hector was a bit faster. There are times where you can backtrack to obtain items you skipped since you didn’t have the right I.D. for the job. Going back to some of these places can be a slog since there is no way (at least in my playthrough) to increase Hector’s movement speed. Another small complaint, but other Castlevania games around this time (including Lament of Innocence) had ways to make you really zoom around the map.

Overall, I would say that Curse of Darkness surprised me with how good it was. I don’t know if playing Castlevania 1999 or Lament of Innocence helped make this an enjoyable time, but I am glad for it. Without using a strategy guide or the internet to help me much, I filled out 92% of the total map. I didn’t grab every accessory in the game, nor did I craft every single weapon and armor in the game. Some items for crafting require special items that I had no idea how to farm or which enemies to steal them from; so I just used what I had and just went with it. You do unlock Trevor and Crazy mode for betting the game. This game was also a bit longer than any other Castlevania game that I’ve played. It took me twelve hours to reach the end where two of those hours was me just grinding a bit to defeat Dracula. This is a title that I can see myself revisiting at some point since it has all the elements that I enjoy from my other favorites in the series. I will also say that if you are familiar with the Castlevania series on Netflix, I think that they are cowards for not sticking with Isaac’s original design.

Games Stats:

Date Started: October 23 , 2022
Date Finished: October 29, 2022
Total Play Time: 12 Hours
Percentage Completed: 89.01%


Bonus Round!

Castlevania Judgment

Date Released: November 18, 2008
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Canon to Story: HELL NO!

“Right on time. Welcome to the time rift.”

*Pause**Camera Pan*

“Time rift? I thought I was done talking about the 3D Castlevania games?”

*Pause* *Camera Pan*

“You thought you were done. But there are other trials that you need to face before ending.”

*Paaaaause* *Camera goes to lunch*

“Fine then. Let’s make this one quick.”

*………………….*

“My name is Aeon. Shall we begin the first trial?”

(Every cutscene in the game is like this…)


Ok. I’m sorry that this post is way long, but I have to talk about this game real quick. Back in 2008, Konami decided to throw everything at the wall and decided to make a fighting game based on the series. On paper, this seems like an interesting title, but when you see the words “3D fighting game only on the Nintendo Wii,” you can’t help but to immediately assume it’s going to be bad.

Castlevania Judgment is a 3D fighting game that is not fun to play. Characters find themselves in a time rift for different reasons that do have no connection to anyone else. Some fight to prove themselves to others, while some are searching for an answer in all the wrong places. And then you have twelve year old Maria Renard who just picks fights against anyone who has a bigger chest than her. I would say that there is a story, but there really isn’t. Nothing is connected since most of the fights just happen without an explanation to why they are fighting (like in an Arcade mode). At the end of each character’s story, an original character named Aeon shows up, says he’s acquired a key, and then stares at you lovingly until he fades to black. You can’t technically finish a character’s story until you finish every other character first, and then replay the character’s story to fight the final boss to end just their story. It’s a “story” mode just to unlock characters and nothing more.

Did I mention that the game is fun? Because it is not. This is a 3D arena fighting game, so let’s talk about what doesn’t work. There is no sense of balance between characters. You have characters that like to spam moves that are impossible to block against, some who are large and will deal more damage with their regular attack just because they are big and strong, and then you have the children who are a bane to my existence. No game has ever made me say the phrase “Just please let me murder these children” before, but Judgment made the impossible possible. I will give credit for making each character feel unique like how Simon and Trevor operate differently despite being the same character, but the moveset on some of these characters can make some fights feel one sided. 

I hope you bought a Wii Classic Controller or Gamecube controller, because playing this game with a Wii Remote and Nuncuck is not recommended. While normal controllers have actions mapped to the different buttons available, the WiiMote’s lack of buttons makes you play in a different way. Start practicing those maraca skills, because almost all attacks are done by shaking the WiiMote. The buttons on the WiiMote are just used to change what your character does while you are shaking uncontrollably. Because of this, combos require you to know which attack chains into the next one; unlike using different inputs just to do certain attacks. It’s not fun. Especially when you are going against hard A.I. opponents who do not need to worry about these restrictions. If you haven’t figured it out yet, using any controller besides the WiiMote is the only way to play the game in a “comfortable” way.

Stages don’t fare any better. Each stage can come in two flavors, tolerable or bullshit. Some stages will just be your normal 3D environment where you can break objects to find hearts and sub weapons. At times, these stages will change to add “fun” mechanics to utilize during the fight. There is one stage that is just a torture chamber, and they made sure to make it feel like one. I’m talking about spikes on the floor, poison water that you and your opponent can just walk right into, guillotines swinging in the background, and a giant buzz saw in the back just for good measure. This is the worst stage in the game, but it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes in the graveyard stage, it will just be a normal graveyard. Other times, you have to deal with zombies that will pop out of the ground, and then leave a pool of acid when they get killed that will poison you. Or how about the bridge where a giant fish will come out of the water, knock you to the end of the bridge, and then you ring out since the bridge is falling apart as well. This does not make the fights exciting. It just makes me want to play Castlevania 1999 since that was a less painful experience. 

There are a few positive things about the game that I like. It is short. I unlocked and defeated the Time Lord in four hours. I do like the character designs in the game. If the design looks familiar it is because they were designed by the mangaka Takeshi Obata; who did the artwork for Death Note, Bakuman, Platinum End, and currently Show-ha Shoten! (one that I am currently enjoying monthly). It takes a while to get used to, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I appreciated his take on the characters (even though Simon is just too pretty for the character he truly is). The soundtrack in this game is a standout. Each fighter’s song is a remix from a popular song from their respective game. Hearing tunes like Bloody Tears, Dracula’s Castle, and Dance of Illusion really help me forget that I’m stuck in one of Eric’s combo loops that is just instant death if you are stuck in it. Seriously, the soundtrack is wonderful and easy to find online.

But yeah. That’s about it for Castlevania Judgment. There are other modes like Arcade, Castle Mode, and unlockable, but it would be bold of you to think I would put that much effort in playing this game more than I had to. It was an interesting experience and a concept that could work, but little to expect from a game that could have used a bit more time in development. If I had to pick a favorite character to play as, it would be Dracula because you can stand in one spot and just assault your opponent with powerful spells from a distance and teleport away if they get too close. Yay game balance!

Game Stats:

Date Started: October 22, 2022
Date Finished: October 23, 2022
Total Play Time: 4 Hours
Best Character: Dracula
Worst Character: Golem (I just don’t like playing big, slow fighters)


And that should finally do it. Only three more sets of Castlevania games to go. Tune in next year to see which set gets covered next.

Backlog Report – October 2022

Hello all.

This month has been very slow. I have come home every day this week after work and just completely shut down once I get a moment of rest. There are a lot of things that I have not been keeping up with. I barely got the games I wanted to get done this month due to this exhaustion that I’ve been feeling. I also have this new foot pain that I should definitely get checked out if I wasn’t so scared about future medical bills (USA! USA!) Overall, this month was less stressful than last month’s gauntlet of work training. 

Not everything was doom and gloom this month. As a challenge for myself, I decided to make a conscious effort to save as much money as I could. If I could save a set amount, I would reward myself with something I found that I really want. I am happy to say that I meet my goal with flying colors and I now get to treat myself to this special item. The strange thing is, I’m not sure if I want my reward or not anymore. If I do end up getting it, I’ll mention it in next month’s post.

Other than that, I decided to get a new case for my computer. My original case is not completely compatible with the new motherboard, and I knew at some point I would have to correct this. I am nervous about having to move every component from one case to another, but I’ve done it once already without blowing up anything, so I should be fine this time around.


Finished Games

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence

I was really looking forward to playing this Castlevania game this month. It had been sitting on my shelf for five years, and it took me about eight hours to finish it. What were my overall thoughts about it? You will have to tune in next week when I write up my thoughts on the early 3D Castlevania games that I’ve played. 

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

The same goes with Curse of Darkness. While I will say that I enjoyed this more than Lament of Innocence, both games have their good and bad qualities that make them fun to play. Again, I will have more details next week.


New and Finished Games

Castlevania Judgment

I had no intentions of getting this game, but I did once I found a brand new copy for less than $20 USD. It’s….not that bad, but far from a good fighting game. I like the attempt they made, but you can tell that more work needed to be put into this game. That is all I will say for now.


New Games This Month

Lost Odyssey (X360)

Not that many new games this month. I already own a digital copy of this game on my Xbox 360, but I keep forgetting that I have it since I never touch my 360. I found the strategy guide to the game at a used book store, and they had the game as well. So now I have a physical reminder that I have this game. I really should get around to playing this.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero (PS4)

It is almost time to continue my journey through this series in reverse order. I have been told that Trails from Zero and Azure are two of the best games in the series. Hopefully it doesn’t take me months to get through this game. I still have the Sky trilogy on standby for me to get through at some point.

Toukiden Kiwami (PS4)

I managed to find a PS4 copy in the wild for less than $10 USD. It will be interesting to compare this to the Vita version.


Currently Playing

I am biding my time until Pokèmon Scarlet and Violet comes out on Nov. 18. Something about the game is preventing me from being super excited for it, but I do plan on playing it day one with Kat and my younger brother. The co-op function will be interesting to try out, and I’m slowly warming up to the new battle mechanic. Until then, I need to work on something. I started Live A Live a few weeks ago and may continue that. It is a short game, so I should be able to get it done by mid-November. If anything else, I might start Trails from Zero and try to get that done before Trails from Azure releases. Plans are up in the air right now.

Plans for Next Month

Like I mentioned earlier, I do plan to have a post about the early 3D Castlevania games that I played this month. I will definitely have that ready next week. If I don’t you can all call me a liar liar pants on fire liar. The only other post that I have ready is continuing the series where I talk about gaming devices from my past. I am excited about this one because it is on a system that kept me playing games throughout the mid 2000s. It will be ready next month after some editing has been done. After that, things may start to slow down further as we somehow hit the holiday season. It feels very weird that we are about to enter the holiday season. The slow time will help me work on what might be my biggest end of the year post.

And that is all I got this month. Hip hip hooray for November!

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – The Pros and Cons of Good Side Quests

*Warning! There will be spoilers for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 in this post! If you wish to avoid these spoilers, play and finish the game before proceeding. If you have already played the game or do not care for spoilers, then read ahead! I am not responsible for you getting spoiled after I warned you!!*

There was something that I noticed in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that made it stand out more than its predecessors. The side quests in the game were actually worth a damn to care about. In the previous titles (not counting Xenoblade Chronicles X since I haven’t played that one yet), side quests were there to award you with small rewards and experience for helping out the denizens of the world. They were your typical JRPG side quests where you went to Point A to Point B to either gather something or beat up some monsters. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 isn’t any different really, but the way the side quests are presented made it more engaging and rewarding. 

Side quests have their own story within the game. Every time you recruit a new hero or liberate a Colony, the side quests offer new insights on the Colony’s residents after they have to adjust to a new lifestyle, or you learn about a particular character from each region and their new found struggles. Unlike most optional quests, you are compelled to do them not just for the reward, but to continue to see how people and their relationships change from time to time. The game also rewards you just with new heroes, but doing them will also raise their class level once you are done with all of their quests. And you want to do that if you want to reap the benefits for your main characters.

A ways to go before full completion…

While I like this new emphasis on making the side quests a part of the story, that also leads to some issues. In my playthrough, I had to make the choice of not completing every side quest that I came across since it was inflating my playthrough twofold. There would be play sessions where all I was doing were side quests just so I could learn and unlock new things that filled in gaps to the backstory. That should have been the red flag right there. Instead of playing through the main story to get all of the story content I needed, there was some great lore that was hidden behind these completely optional tasks that you can choose to do or ignore. The downside of not completing them is either missing out on a bigger reward at the end, or completely missing a resolution to a character’s arc or dilemma; and this does not exist only for the side characters.

Each of the six main characters have side quests that dive into their backstories and increase their class rank. Out of the six, Noah and Mio’s side stories are entwined with the main narrative, leaving Lanz, Sena, Eunie, and Taion’s side stories completely missable if you do not go back to key places to trigger them. Some of them like Lanz and Sena help improve their characters through the side story, but nothing that feels like a major story element to enhance the overall narrative. The one exception that I feel was a terrible mistake was Eunie’s side story.

In Chapter 3, Eunie finds a particular dead body on an old, abandoned battlefield; her body. She confirms this by examining the dog tag on the body, and then starts to get headaches and flashbacks to her previous death. She hides this from the rest of the party even though Taion knows something is wrong with her (and seeing that he can see her thoughts when they interlink). The conflict she has affects her in the rest of the chapter when she encounters Mobius D, the one who killed her previously. She does find the resolve to face him in battle during a later confrontation, but outside that, she never reveals to the rest of the party why she was so afraid of him in the first place. Not even when D is defeated for good do we see Eunie get the satisfaction of defeating her murderer (a different scene steals that spotlight). Enter Eunie’s side story.

To even initiate this quest, you have to go out of your way and find info fragments around the City. Only then will Eunie have the courage to tell everyone about the dog tag after learning about a Gold rank colony that has disappeared. Two chapters later and being completely optional, we start to work on Eunie’s resolve as a character. At the end she doesn’t even fight against the person who has been tormenting her for the last two chapters. You would think the main story would use Eunie’s dog tag to reveal to the other characters about this cycle that they are in. It’s brought up in the main story, but leads to no conclusion unless you go off the beaten path to find it. I was waiting for the dog tag to play a major part of the story since it was heavily implied that it would cause moral problems for the cast, but it never happens if you are only playing through the main story.

This is where I believe one of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 faults lie. Sure the side quests are better than they were in the previous games, but some great story elements are never revealed in the main story, but locked behind side quests that can be missed all together. There is a point towards the end of the game where you can upgrade everyone’s blade. In order to do so, you have to complete a side quest where you have to find seven noppon that only appear in other side quests. So if you missed one of these side quests, you will be spending more hours of your playtime just to unlock this feature. In my playthrough, I had to go back several side quests just to complete the one chain that I needed in order to get access to a locked area that I knew one of the noppon was hiding. Again, completely optional and has no bearing on the story whatsoever, but dangling this reward in front of your face and finally putting the shiny objects that you find all over the world to use at the very end of the game feels weightless. There is almost no point in unlocking the mechanic if you never took the time to do the optional quest up to that point. 

Another game series that comes close to this problem that I’ve played is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel saga. There is a similar approach to how side quests are handled in that game. In Cold Steel, side quests help explore and flesh out the side characters that are important to the world and main cast, but have no responsibility to the main story. They exist solely to give the player more understanding about each side character and help expand the world. Of course you have your normal monster extermination quests, but every quests feels like their own short and complete side story that doesn’t take away from what’s going on in the main story. Another side quest doesn’t pop up just because you finished the one before it. Once you finish that side quest, that short story ends and you can move on (outside a few that I’m probably not remembering). The side quests don’t take anything away from the story, but help put more background lore that you don’t really need unless you want it (and serves to build up a big reward at the end if you finish them all). 

Compared to Xeno 3 that follows a similar structure, side quests feel more like an investment where the payoff varies. Instead of just concluding and moving on to a different character, the quests just continue to build up and try to make you invested in the relationship of the characters, but that only works when the reward justifies the means. There is a series of side quests where you help these two assholes when they decide to go on an adventure by themselves. Every interaction with them is the exact same; they have a falling out with each other over something stupid, you help them, they become friends again. Rinse and repeat. I thought there would be some big payoff from helping these two characters whom I never learned their names with their stupid problem, but it never paid off at the end. It just wasted my time dealing with two characters that I (and the main casts) hated helping all the time. I thought for sure this was going to lead to me getting something similar to their vehicle for faster ground traversal, but silly me for believing something like that. At the end of the day, that is the best way for me to summarize Xeno 3’s side quests; an investment that never pays off unless it involves the main cast or a hero.

This is just a fourth of the affinity chart. No one is important if everyone is.

If there was a way to improve the side quests, I would tie the colony side quests to its respective hero (since each colony leader is added to your party). Having a lead character interact and work with the people they are most familiar with would help me care about the relationship building since it is the main characters assisting the colony leader in helping out the people that they are in charge of protecting. It helps build a better connection with the people who you will never remember their names and help with the character development of that hero. I would have a better time doing these side quests if the payout was seeing these characters actually evolve after completing each, and maybe even change the class rank to increase upon completing each side quest. And of course the obvious, do not lock important main character development behind optional tasks. Side quests feel better when you have the complete option to go out of your way to do them. Completing quests out of obligation leads to a false sense of accomplishment with no payout at the end.

That’s just my viewpoint on side quests. I don’t mean to take my aggression out on Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but it did get my brain a-thinking while I was playing it. Do you feel similar or think I’m viewing this in the wrong way? If you have examples of good and bad side quests in games, please share them as I’m now interested in observing how side quests are handled in different games. 

Thanks for reading.

Backlog Report – September 2022

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

The only thing that has been keeping me going is that a new Theatrhythm game is coming out in February.

Hello. September is finally over and I couldn’t be happier. Jumping straight into things, let’s talk a little about what I’ve been up to personally. All month long, I have been in webinar trainings to understand this new system that we are moving to in January.  They started off harmless, but some of the content does not apply to what I do or will be controlled by us in the end. Honestly, I’m just here to be a second set of eyes for my supervisor. I am a hands-on learner, so most of this stuff will come to me once I can play around in the system on my own. I just hate spending my entire morning glued to my computer and attempting to retain all of this.

This schedule has had some positive effects on me. To escape the icy cold dungeon of my office, I now find a nice bench to sit on outside and read a book. This has been one of the best changes to my routine since I am now getting a mental break from my work area instead of being around it all the time. I am currently reading Jason Schreier’s Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry, and it has been an interesting and depressing read. Hopefully this routine will help me get through the other books that I have bought over the years and have yet found the time or motivation to read through them.


Blog Posts This Month

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate – The Missing Piece to the Puzzle (Backlog Tale) – This game will come up two more times in this post. I went from hating this game to playing it almost every single day. This is a good and a bad thing since I have the Sunbreak expansion to Monster Hunter Rise and want to play through that at some point.

Games Finished This Month

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

Not going to spend a lot of time on this. Read post above.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is not a long game if you stick to the main story. Unlocking additional heroes and doing side quests to build up classes and the world turns this 30-40 hour game into a 100+ hour game. That’s not bad, but it does leave a sour taste in my mouth when important resolutions in the game’s story are hidden behind optional side quests. I will have to write about it one day, but it is something that frustrated me with this game. Other than that, I really enjoyed the rest of the game. Gameplay felt so much better than the second game, though I think I still prefer the original’s battle system. The story is somewhat predictable, but the whole idea of living in the present where it is safe and avoiding the unknown future is a topic we all could relate. The ending even managed to get a tear out of me, so I would say that overall it left a good impression on me. Hopefully the story DLC will answer one of my burning questions about a certain fur ball.


New and Finished Games This Month

Trombone Champ

In the beginning, there was light. The light filled the world with its bliss, and gave birth to wondrous things. One of these brilliant gifts was the trombone. From the trombone, toots of various tones filled the world in harmony and made the world equally divine as the realm of the gods. But, where there is light, there is always darkness. With the rise of man emerging from the shadows, the brilliant light of the trombone was tainted. What was once a symbol of ultimate power was now treated as a fool’s humor for when people did silly things. To ensure that this gift was not wasted completely, the gods sealed most of the power of the trombone inside a vessel, waiting for the day a true master of the trombone to emerge and unleash its power once again. For millenium, the tootvessel has slept. Waiting for the new champ to rise and claim their rightful place amongst the gods.

…at least that’s what I think the story is about. The in-game item descriptions make it hard to understand.

Trombone Champ knows exactly what it is and I appreciate it for that. As someone who has studied music and can play the trombone decently, this game comes very close to how it feels to play the trombone. Originally I thought that this would be a silly game with no depth to it, but the more I played, I found myself deep into mastering the mechanics to unlock everything and earning S ranks on all the songs. I don’t know what it is, but I find myself in a trance to discover all that the trombone has to offer to me. Also baboons for some reason?


New Games This Month

Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland

My last visit to the secondhand store resulted in my buying two games and one guide. The first was a physical copy of Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland. I know I bought this digitally during a PS sale last year, but finding this with the case and manual for around $10 was hard to ignore. I still need to test the disc since it does look a bit scratched up.

Splatoon

I was told to go to the store and pick up Splatoon, so I did. Maybe next time someone should clarify. Jokes aside, I was able to find a brand new copy of this game at the secondhand store for the same price as the other used copies. I mostly got it to complete the series set, but who knows. I may get around to playing through the single player content at some point.

Capcom Fighting Collection

I bought this solely for Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Other than that, this is a neat collection to have with some of Capcom’s fighting games that have never been revisited. I don’t know if many of the games will get any playtime out of me, but the option is there in case I ever need them.

Monster Hunter Portable 3rd

“Will he please stop talking about Monster Hunter!” In my defense, this is a different game, so back off. Portable is the first “enhanced” version of Monster Hunter Tri that came out exclusively in Japan. It added new monsters and locations, but took the swimming mechanic out of the game. It would go on to be one of the best selling Monster Hunter games in Japan, but one year later we would all get Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Despite the release of 3 Ultimate, Portable 3rd is still regarded as one of the best games on the PSP; and I am going to see if that is true. The Japanese-language barrier be damned!

Tales of Rebirth

Speaking of the Japanese-language barrier, I finally got a copy of Tales of Rebirth since Bamco has no interest in bringing these games over ever. I have decided to stop wondering if a remaster collection of the older titles will ever be rereleased for the overseas audience. While it is nice to have this game in my collection, I may have to find other means to enjoy this game fully in a language I can read. And don’t get me started on how they are butchering Tales of Symphonia with their lazy remake (even though I love Symphoina and will get it eventually on sale).

Live A Live

I know absolutely nothing about this game. And that is a good thing. It’s rare for me to not know much about a game with the internet these days. I know it is a classic from the SNES days, but outside of that I have no idea what the story is about or how the combat works. It will be a new discovery for me and that feels refreshing to me. Plus, my older brother has been playing it and he hardly plays JRPGs these days. It will give us a nice conversation topic when we have the time.

Splatoon 3

Do you know how hard it was to find a physical copy of this game days after it came out? Kat really wanted to play it, so we went to the store to get a copy, but the local game store and others around were all out. We didn’t think it would be that difficult to find a physical, but we did eventually and she bought me a copy as well. I like the game despite being bad at it. I can only play in short burst before I get frustrated by either the people who play these games for thousands of hours, or when I constantly get kicked out of games due to connection errors. One day Nintendo. One day.

Gundam Evolution

It’s Overwatch but with Gundams! I have only played a little bit of this game, but it is a learning curve that I’m still learning. Each Gundam plays differently, so understanding their strengths and weaknesses along with how well they go with the rest of your squad is a lot to consider. I know there are huge complaints about the progression system in it and I find them scummy as well. For now, it will be a casual experience until I get bored of it or the skill level starts to kick my ass.

Toukiden 2

I forget exactly what day it was last week, but I remember scrolling the tweet tweet app and seeing this countdown for a new game by EA and Koei Tecmo. I looked at the image and I was like “that looks like Toukiden.” After watching the trailer, I was like “yep that Toukiden.” If you don’t know what Toukiden is, it is Koei Tecmo’s Monster Hunter but with Oni. It reminded me that I have the first game on the Vita, but I never got around to getting the second game. I decided to get it now before the interest of the series starts to build again. This game was released with very limited quality, so I assume the price for this game is going to skyrocket soon (the Vita version already has).


Currently Playing

Third time mentioning it, but yeah Monster Hunter. In Generations Ultimate, I am currently working on finding G Rank armor that 1) I like, and 2) I can obtain on my own without dying. I have several targets in mind, but of course they would be some of the most annoying monsters to hunt. On the Monster Hunter Rise side of things, I need to finish most things on the PC version. I’ve decided that I want to play through Sunbreak on PC just to change things up. Just need to beat up Thunder Serpent Narwa and I’ll be all good. I did return to World briefly to try and work on achievements, but I found the camera in that game makes me dizzy now. I greatly prefer the snap camera focus over the constant tracking camera of World.

After finishing Xenoblade Chronicles 3, I decided that I needed to take a break from long RPGs and focus on a more chilled experience. With the announcement of Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, I decided to finally give Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town a go. My first impressions so far is that it is a Story of Seasons game. I know I could play Stardew Valley again for the tenth time, but it’s sometimes nice to go to a familiar game with a different aesthetic. Hopefully the Wonderful Life remake will be as good as this one and not like the PS2/PS4 version (which I need to start working on…).

Plans for Next Month

My schedule is more open this month, but as always I am not going to make any promises.

At one point, I was going to write a post about all the announcements from a few weeks ago, but I started to lose interest when I realized that most things I was excited for were remakes. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but I may return to it soon if nothing but a reminder for when things are coming out (seriously I can’t keep track of anything). I also need to put something together for Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I already have a topic in mind. Just need to find the best way to articulate my words.

It’s October! This means I get to continue my journey through different Castlevania titles. This might be the year that I play through the PS2 titles, but I also have the Lord of Shadows games to knock out as well. I’m holding off on the DS titles since I still need to get Portrait of Ruin and I’m kinda holding out that Konami will re-release them in a DS collection. There is definitely one game that I want to play, but I want to step outside my comfort zone a bit while playing it. My hope is that I can live stream myself playing through Castlevania 64 from beginning to end. It would be the first time that I start a game on stream and end it, and I think this game will help me through it. After playing the first 30 minutes of the game, I can tell that I’m going to have a fun time. 


Thanks for reading!