Yu Gi Oh! Random Nonsense Go! (Backlog Tale)

I have been a fan of the Yu Gi Oh! Trading Card Game (TCG) ever since middle school. Something about the monsters, gameplay, and hair made me really enjoy the struggle of wits between two opponents. While Magic would become the dominant TCG, Yu Gi Oh! would still be my choice of card game since I was most familiar with it and Magic still intimidates me (plus the few people I encountered who play it were arrogant AF).

Playing the TCG in a video game format has been the way I’ve played for years. When you have no friends or acquaintances who have an interest in Yu Gi Oh!, video games become your best way to learn and enjoy new things. From Duel Academy on the GBA to Legacy of the Duelist on modern platforms, I have tried to keep up with the current changes to the game to a point. The introduction of Synchro monsters was the last update to the game that I really got into. XYZ (pronounced X-C), Pendulum, and Link monsters made the game too complicated for me. For that reason, I would keep my strategies close to the third generation and make due there.

Enter Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel; the new free-to-play online Yu Gi Oh! game based on the current TCG. Up to this point, I have mostly played against AI opponents. This game focuses on online battles against real people worldwide. Going in, I expected to get my ass handed to me a couple of times before I found the right deck and strategy that fits my playstyle. My cocky attitude was quickly shattered when I started to lose over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. I wasn’t expecting to get destroyed this badly, but this assured me that this was not the same game from my time with Legacy of the Duelist. I had entered the new meta of the Yu Gi Oh! game where getting the most out of each turn and dominating your opponent is key.

In the past, if you were going first, it was a normal play to set up your defenses and prepare for whatever move your opponent was going to make on their turn. The meta now seems to be summoning as many monsters as possible to the field and playing your most powerful monsters at the start. Laying down your strategy at the start with the right countermeasures could mean that victory for you is a guarantee. For a defensive player like myself, I now have to come up with unorthodox strategies that seem strange to me, but are vital if I want a chance of winning my matches. And for me personally, I don’t mind that one bit.

I will fully admit that my struggles come from not keeping up with the current status of the game. The introduction of new monster types and summoning methods was overbearing for me and I never took the time to understand their application in the game. In Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, I breezed through the first three arcs of the story since I was very familiar with the cards and strategies. When I got to Zexal and XYZ summoning, I started to struggle since I was using my old strategies that were easily overcome by XYZ monsters and their effects. Things got even more difficult with Arc V since every type of summoning method comes into play along with Pendulum summoning (which is still the only summoning method that I try to avoid). The game was no longer something that was easily predictable with the old cards in play. You now have to content with not knowing what summoning method your opponent will utilize the most; not including if they use a mix of all seven summoning methods.

What is this nonsense?

This is the exciting (and frustrating) part of the game for me. The core game that I enjoy is still there, but my understanding and strategies have to change in order for me to win my matches. For some of us, that makes complete sense for any game that has been around as long as this one. The game needs to change and introduce new mechanics to keep the player base interested enough to keep playing the game. In some way, Trading Card Games have been the original Live Service games that continually introduce new content, game modes, and microtransactions that keeps the game living and thriving to this day.

From a mature standpoint, I should take my time to learn new ways on how to play the game and adapt to modern times, but the whiny baby inside of me hates this new kind of play. Old decks that I used to have fun with aren’t as viable since they took some time to set up properly, or contain no abilities to deal with the new bullshit that some of these cards have. You almost have to have cards that can negate abilities in order to stand a chance against certain archetypes. If I see one dragon maid or anime girl wearing an airplane, I almost want to surrender immediately since the people using those decks know how to pull a win out of nowhere. 

This is where my current problem with the game stands. With over 10,000 cards to pick and chose to create a 40 card deck, I don’t have the time to learn and figure out what each and every card can do and try to predict how that will work in my deck. With card descriptions ranging from lite flavor text to terms of service agreements. For me, the simpler the card effect, the better it is for me to use it effectively. This doesn’t work when your opponent uses cards that have multiple effects and you have to read through them carefully in order to not trigger any of them. It slows the game down for me and makes me waste a lot of time trying to understand if I’m going to screw myself over. At least when cards had one or two effects, I could keep track of what card effects to look out for when planning my next move. Now with effects that can be triggered from the hand, graveyard, extra deck, and kitchen sink, I have no idea what I could be going against unless I know the archetype well enough.

Then why don’t I take the easy way and learn how to use “top-tier” decks? Because then I’m not playing using my own skills and playstyle. There is an option in the game to copy deck recipes from other players and use decks that they have created. It is a nice way for new players to test out new decks and get ideas on how to create their own in the future. I am the type of guy who doesn’t like to be handed a game winning deck and feel good about it. At least let me earn it after proving myself first. The decks I create go through many trial and error phases until I constructed something that suits me well. I much prefer this style of play over copying someone else’s work. It may not feel good getting beat down constantly, but at least I’m getting beat with something I believe in.

Now for the opposite. It feels so good when you outsmart an opponent and win a match. My low self-esteem will make me cautious with every move I make, but that doesn’t stop me from throwing it out the window when I know I have someone beat. It is a genuine good feeling when you are playing against another good player and emerge victorious. I feel like all of my hardwork has paid off when everything goes according to plan.

A good example of this happened when I was going against someone who was using a Kaiju deck. Kaiju monsters are special in that you have to use monsters on your opponent’s side of the field in order to summon them. After realizing this trope, I had to find a way to get around this condition. After noticing that my opponent was tossing cards out of their deck in order to find what they needed, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I began to do absolutely nothing. When my turn began, I would draw my card and then end the turn. My opponent had fewer cards in their deck than mine, so all I had to do was wait until they were out of cards in their main deck and I would win. I took this gamble anticipating they didn’t have any low level monsters to summon and chip away at my life points; which to my luck they didn’t. As each turn went by, I imagined my opponent would think I would get cocky at the last minute and summon my strongest monster to finish them off quickly. But no, I took the most megamind approach to defeat them and just watched as they ran out of cards to draw. I give mad props for them not surrendering through all of that and accept their defeat to the dumbest of all plays. They might have had a winning move on my final turn if I actually did summon a monster, but I didn’t take that chance and laugh demonically over outsmarting them. Hopefully, they adjusted their deck afterwards to fix such a blind spot in their deck.

So how do I conclude my time with this game (from daily bases to a here-and-now game)? Originally I wanted to reach Platinum I in rank duels and call that a victory. Seeing as I could never get out of low Gold V, I wasn’t going to get there anytime soon. With other games to play and me not wanting to strangle every Kuribo I saw, I thought it was best to add this game to my casual game rotation. There’s still plenty for me to do and one of these days I will settle with a second deck to add to my rotation. If you are a long time fan of the series or someone new to the TCG, then this is a game worth playing. It may not teach you everything that you need to know about the game, but the tutorials give you a great start and you can obtain structure decks just to get you started. I do wish the game had an unranked mode where you could challenge random people without having to create a room and hope someone joins it. I also wish they would fix the damn timer for each player so that it actually goes down during each turn. If Konami continues to support the game, I could easily see this as the go to online Yu Gi Oh! game for the next few years. If all the changes feel alien to you, I could recommend Rush Dueling since it takes out all the complications of the main game. It was literally created because the main game was getting too complicated. Other than that, nothing is stopping you from playing older games in the series if seeing a link card sends you into a dark place.

Play Time Stats:

Game Started: 1/19/2022
Game “Ended”: Ongoing
Number of Cards Obtained: 2529
Highest Placement in Rank: Gold 3
Trusty Deck: Sync-In (Synchro deck focused on summoning Synchro and Stardust monsters)
MVP Cards: Satellite Warrior, Junk Speeder, Clear Wing Synchro Dragon
Favorite Summoning Method: Synchro
Least Favorite Summoning Style: Pendulum

Bonus Gallery

Mini Backlog Tales Collections Vol. 1

There are some games that I finish that I really don’t have a lot to say about. It is kinda unfair that they don’t get the same treatment like others, but with this I hope to rectify that a bit. These mini compilations will feature some of those games that don’t need a whole dedicated post to them. There will be some that I want to talk about more in length, so if you don’t see it mentioned in this post, then chances are I’m working on a larger post for it.


Pokémon Trading Card Game

Starting things off is the Pokémon Trading Card Game for the Gameboy Color. I played this via the 3DS Virtual Console release, and it’s one of those games that didn’t take long to finish. I did have to start the game over since I did something stupid that the game warned me about. Apparently there is an NPC who will trade you one card for all the other cards that you have in your trunk. Not knowing this, I accepted the trade and lost all my cards not in my possession. I was also bad and didn’t manually save since the virtual console version will suspend where you last left off. So I just thought it best to just start from the beginning again.

This is a solid representation of the early card game. If you are like me and never knew how to play the game (but like collecting the cards), then this was the game to have back then. The card game itself is pretty simple, but can be challenging towards the end. Since the game only covers the first edition of the TCG, there are a limited number of cards that you can use at your disposal. Even with the small amount of cards, there is enough possibility to create decks that focus on one element or help feed to whichever Pokémon is your ace.

In order to beat the game, you need to defeat the eight club leaders and then defeat the four masters at the Challenge Hall. If you have played a Pokémon game, this set up feels familiar. Instead of walking around a region in order to catch and train new Pokémon, you instead just select where you want to go on the map and it will take you there. I wish each locale had something different an unique to them, but all the entrances and side rooms look the same. I also wish there was a way to buy card packs instead of only getting them from defeating other players. It makes searching for specific cards hard since you have to find the right player who will reward you with the card pack you need, and then hope that you get it. In most cases, you will probably rely on your starter deck for the first three areas until you build up enough cards to create different decks.

All in all, Pokémon Trading Card Game for the GBC was a fun time. I wish we got the sequel that came out in Japan since they added new cards that were current at the time. I also wish we would get a new standalone game that wasn’t Pokémon TCG Online. I may give the online version a try one day, but if Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel taught me anything, it’s that I’m probably out of my prime when it comes to current trading card games.

Game Stats:

Game Started: 1/27/2016
Game Finished: 10/31/2021
Total Play Time: 21 Hours


Astro’s Playroom

This is a great tech demo. This game is preinstalled on all PS5s, and it does a great job of showing what the PS5 Duel Sense controller can do. I know the game is supposed to demonstrate how awesome the PS5 is, but if you’re someone like me who does not have an eye for fancy tech words and numbers, then this plays just like a fun game. 

The thing I enjoyed the most about this game are all the references to PlayStation’s history. The main collectables in the game are all past and present PlayStation hardware and accessories; going all the way back the original PlayStation to the current PlayStation 5. I didn’t grow up with a PlayStation, but I still found this interesting to see all the past accessories, handhelds, and iterations of all of Sony’s gaming products. Once collected, the items are displayed in a museum and can be interacted with as a little touch to see how these items worked. Again, if you have no attachment to the PlayStation brand, then you may not find it interesting. Other than that, there are Easter Eggs that represent classic PlayStation games in each stage. These were fun to find and try to figure out which game they were from.

I hardly play anything that doesn’t feel like it’s missing something or the length should be altered. Astro’s Playroom is one of those games where I felt like I was playing a perfect game. All the components of the game felt perfectly tuned to make the game feel complete. The length of the game felt comfortable, the levels had enough challenge to them without making them feel too easy or too challenging, and the reward for collecting everything felt rewarding. Not many games have been able to achieve that feeling nowadays, but this game was a perfect introduction to how the Duel Sense controller works and feels. Of course their may be others who found problems with the game, but during my entire playthrough, there was nothing that I could find to complain about.

Other than that, this was a fun, small game that came along with my PS5. I can’t claim that I got all the achievements on my own since Kat took the game from me and played half of the stages (even though she created her own account and did everything on her own). There’s not much to go back and replay once you’ve collected everything, so it becomes a fast uninstall once you’ve done everything (which you can do in half a day). This is the type of demo that I wish newer consoles would include just to give the player an idea of what the new console can do. It was definitely better than Nintendo asking you to buy a $50 game that could have easily been included with the system.

Game Stats:

Game Started: 7/31/2021
Game Finished: 8/8/2021
Total Play Time: Between 10 to 15 Hours
Achievements Unlocked: 45/46 (have the Platinum, too lazy to do the speed run achievement)
Puzzle Pieces Obtained: 96/96
Artifacts Found: 46/46
Favorite PlayStation Console: PS2


Mario Party Superstars

Nostalgia is a dangerous weapon. If you use it incorrectly, you risk damaging a cherished memory by trying to cash in on that past magic (insert your own personal betrayal here. There are plenty to choose from). Mario Party Superstars was one of those games that I was cautiously optimistic for. It was like Nintendo was actually listening to the fans for once and were giving us a traditional Mario Party game without motion gimmicks, car gimmicks, or microphone gimmicks (I actually liked the microphone games). This was a return to form quite literally since it was a collection of boards and minigames from previous games in the series. This “new” game was set to highlight what made the series fun to begin with and try to gain faith in the series. 

Mario Party Superstars is by far one of the best Mario Party games that has come out in a while. While I did enjoy Super Mario Party, I felt like the boards were lacking, but the minigames were great. Superstars comes with five classic boards from the first three Mario Party games and refreshes them up with some updates from Super Mario Party. Each board feels unique and fun with their original concept still intact. The minigame collection contains games from all the numbered games with only a few of them being boring. The minigame collection is what Mario Party: The Top 100 should have had, but didn’t and caused it to be a flop in my opinion.

There are a few things that I wish this game included or had at this point. I feel that the roaster is small compared to other Mario Party games. I know Toad and Bowser can’t be playable characters, but there are other characters they could have added like Shy Guy, Koopa Troopa, or Bowsette. This may sound blasphemous, but this game would benefit greatly with DLC or free updates. While the board and minigame selections are great, this game would be so much better with one or two new boards. I am mostly a quality over quantity person, but this game has great quality and just needs some more things added to it.

In a great surprise to all, the online function actually works! A game like this is meant to be played with others on the same couch, but online play works just as well. Players can either que up with friends or join random people in a fifteen or twenty turn game. If someone leaves the group, they can either rejoin or a computer player will take their spot. For most of my games, we would start with four people and then around turn three we would be down to just two players. The only time I would experience any slow down in a game was when someone was leaving; other than that the gameplay is smooth. Another component that makes playing online or locally fun is the sticker mechanic. Nintendo is still afraid someone is going to learn the autonomy of their mom one day, so instead of a voice chat feature the game uses stickers to communicate with others. While screaming at someone is always the superior version of communicating with others, something about spamming these stickers just feels like a fun game mechanic. How else can I congratulate someone with a straight face when someone loses their stars to Bowser?

Mario Party Superstars was a surprise success for me. The game has other minigame modes that you can participate in, as well as an achievement system; but the party mode is still the best mode to play with others. It is fun to play with others or complete strangers locally or online. I don’t know what else to say about a good Mario Party game except to play it for a month and then move after you’ve cursed your friends and family out for landing on Chance Time and screwing you over on the last turn. Good family fun from your friends at Nintendo.

Game Stats:

Game Started: 10/29/2021
Game Finished: 11/15/2021
Total Play Time: 16 Hours
Achievements Unlocked: 24/50 (Offline) ; 0/10 (Online)

Backlog Tale – I Almost Wrote Off Xenoblade Chronicles 2

It took me nine years to finish the original version of Xenoblade Chronicles. The first game was great in my opinion, but for some reason I couldn’t finish it in one setting. You could blame me for not understanding MMO battle mechanics at the time. Regardless of that, I was hooked on the struggle of the characters, the journey of revenge that they set out on, and the amazing and mysterious setting that the adventure takes place on. With how good everything felt to me, the idea of not finishing it sooner feels weird. Good games should have some draw to it that makes you want to see it to the end no matter how long it takes. It is a balanced formula that makes the game fun and entertaining to the player.

With that in mind, I should have stopped playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 early on. The numbered sequel to one of the Nintendo Wii’s best games had a lot of promise. Where would the story go after the conclusion of the first game? What secrets did these new Titans hold? And why does everything look more like an anime? I was interested in playing the sequel, but held off until I finished the first game. I managed to avoid any spoilers minus a few memes that I saw posted on the internet. With the urge to play after seeing the trailer for the third game, I decided it was time to play XC2 so that I could keep up with the series. After playing the first three chapters in the game, I was not impressed.

The first half of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 felt like a disservice to what it becomes later. The combat felt shallow, the characters felt flat, and the general setup didn’t feel like it was worth my investment. It left a bad taste in my mouth that I started to wonder why people were saying that this was just as good as the first game. Was I missing something? Was the first game not as good as I remembered? What was going on that other people were seeing that I was missing out on. The environments definitely felt like Xenoblade, but the change in combat, the Blade system, and general tone of the game just didn’t feel entertaining to me. It wasn’t until around chapter five that things started to finally click, and I started to understand what makes this game great. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in a whole new different world, so the strife and dangers in the formal were nonexistent in this world. The only issues that this world faces is the number of resources dwindling and the war going on in the background. The game was trying to make me feel like this was going to be a heartbreaking story, but either dire situations were handled too quickly or secrets that the game was trying to hide were easy to solve.

Let’s talk about tone. Tone can be described as setting the atmosphere to express a piece of work. A tone should carry out how you want to express your mood or emotions to your audience. It helps to establish it as soon as possible, but you are allowed to change it up while reminding the audience what the initial tone is. Works of art, music, and film can go a long way if your audience knows what tone the author/performer is trying to convey.

The tone in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is not consistent. The Xenoblade series has always been one with mysteries about, so that is nothing out of the ordinary. At the end of the first chapter, it establishes a dark tone by showing Jin killing Rex and how he is saved by Pyra. You would think this would be a quest about returning the favor, but Rex doesn’t seem to mind being killed. He just seems to ignore that fact and is now focused on taking Pyra to Elysium. At this point, I felt like there were no stakes and the plot of the story was just to protect Pyra and reach Elysium. It would help if I understood the villain’s motives, but at times I couldn’t tell what they were. At one moment they don’t care about Pyra, and then the next minute they do, and then they changed their minds again for plot convenience. The tone that the game was trying to go with just felt distorted and tried to contradict itself.

Halfway through the game, the tone changed completely at the end of Chapter 5. The game finally established what could happen once the group reached Elysium. The antagonist’s motives are finally clear and all the scattered pieces of the world start to make sense. You start to learn who the true villains may be and start to wonder and doubt what anything around you means and what the right choices are. The lighthearted tone is still there, but it fits better with the story now since they are written at the right moment. There was now this unknown feeling of what is going on and how someone inexperienced with combat and diplomacy could change the world for the better. The tone that the writers were trying to establish at the beginning of the game was here and would remained until the final chapter. After reaching this point, I became invested in the game again. I was ready to tackle these unknown factors and it finally felt like the game was ready to lead me to those answers. I don’t want to say that everything in the first half of the game was bad, but the second half made everything better for me personally.


Now, I’m not saying that games can’t mix things up when establishing their tone. There have been plenty of games that have successfully established their tone at the beginning, deviate into a different tone, and keep the initial tone the same throughout. The best game I have for this example is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. The game starts off with a dark and unsettling undertone that carries throughout the entire game. I think of moments like Glitzville and the game suddenly becoming a tale about wrestling. It is a fun moment, but it keeps the initial tone of being dark and unsettling with the wrestlers going missing. Or while in Twilight Town (the creepiest place in any video game I’ve been into) there are moments where the vibe is loosen a bit when trying to get the missing letter to spell Doopliss’ name. There are great moments where things come off as funny, but once you take a closer look at it, there is still this unsettling tone to it all.

A recent game that I started playing is Final Fantasy V. This game starts off with an unsettling tone with the world slowly dying thanks to the crystals shattering. Within the first few hours of the game, there have been death, loss, and overcoming situations that are daring. You wouldn’t think this game had a completely different tone than what is presented. This game is bright. The music is upbeat, and the characters have a lot of fun with each other during the journey. The game makes you believe that these four warriors of light will save the day at the end of the journey, but if you have played FFV, you know that is not the case. The tone was established at the beginning, and even though it tries to disguise itself, it is always there and constantly reminds the player that things are not going to end well.

Maybe my problem could come from the other Xenoblade games that came before this. In the first game, you are immediately shown what the state of the world is currently in. The Mechons and Humes are at war with each other with the Mechons being the stronger force. You see the despair in the soldiers who helplessly fight against them. You see how powerful the Monado is against them, and the cost of using such power. You feel the anger and sadness Shulk feels when he loses Fiora. The events at the beginning set the tone for how you should view this world and how your emotions get shifted with each new revelation. The game does a great job of connecting you and helps make the rest of the journey exciting to the very end.

I have not played a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles X. Being a Sci-Fi game at the very beginning made me lose my interest a little, but I immediately understood the tone of the game. Humans are looking for a new home and you have no idea the dangers of this planet. You are lucky to be alive since others in the pods by you were not so lucky. I understand the narrative of the game from the git go. The rest of the game should carry that through to the climax and make the audience feel some type of emotion for seeing it through.

I will finish Xenoblade Chronicles X one day. I just don’t like Sci-Fi settings as much.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has some good things going on within it, it just took me a while to see it all. Everything just clicked in the second half and I was invested from then on. I started to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and somehow combat became more entertaining. Somehow, I started to care a little bit more about each character even though I found them uninteresting. I really wanted to like Nia, but her secret was easy to see coming and the reveal took too long. I wanted to develop Poppi more, but having to go back to Tora’s house to play Tiger Tiger for a while made the pacing slow down when I could easily develop Morag and Brighid to be a better tank (Poppi is still one of the best characters in the game). I feel like I didn’t take the time to understand a lot of concepts like developing towns or optimizing blade loadouts since I was so disconnected from the game at the beginning. I was just pushing through without caring about unlocking blade skills and really maximizing everyone’s potentials just because I wanted to get the game over with quickly just so I could see how the games tied to one another. And that was a giant disservice to the game because the game is pretty great.

I hope my rambling about tone made sense. It can make or break the storytelling of a game and affect how you approach something. I am glad XC2 turned around for me since all the events afterwards just kept me hooked to the end. I wouldn’t say that this is better than the first game, but it has made me hyped for the third game now since I want to see the results of both game’s conclusions. Maybe if I get around to playing it a second time, I would like to see if my attitude is different or if I find myself dreading the first half again. There are still some story bits that didn’t make sense to me at the end, but that didn’t sour my mood when I reached the end credits. I ended up enjoying the game, and one day I will give New Game+ a go as well as the Torna DLC. It will probably happen sooner or later since I read a conspiracy theory on the entire Xeno series…

Did anyone else find Nia’s love confession to Rex weird and out of place or was that just me?


Playtime Stats:

  • Start Date: 2/18/2022
  • End Date: 3/11/2022
  • Total Play Time: 68 hours
  • Main Team: Rex (Pyra/Mythra, Wulfric, Godfrey); Nia (Dromarch, Vess, Ursula); Morag (Brighid, Aegaeon, Perun)
  • Number of unique Blades acquired: 21
  • Best Thing About The Game: The Music (I bought the OST because it was that good)
  • Least Favorite Thing: Side quest that never end for little reward.

Bonus Gallery

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Works (Backlog Tale)

I can’t help but to enjoy Pokémon games. Pokémon Red and Blue helped me discover RPGs and the one genre that I could enjoy while platformers, action adventure, and shooters felt like too much pressure for me. While there have been some games in the series that rubbed me the wrong way (Gen 4 & 7), I have given each new game a try and test to see how the appeal of Pokémon grows to keep me interested. As I reach my thirties, I understand full well that Pokémon is not designed to target my age group, but the developers try to tap into that nostalgia while remaining focused on their young demographic.

Enter Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This is the type of game that we wished we had back on the GameCube (no offense to Colosseum and Gale of Darkness). An “open-world” Pokémon game where you explore the wild and catch Pokémon. It is a bit agonizing that Game Freak has never made a game like this before, but they must have been waiting for when gaming devices got more advance to realize their visions. Right? Right!?

Synopsis

The game opens up with something I wasn’t expecting. Your character is shown floating in between time and space. Since you play as a Gen Z child, your phone is there with you. Suddenly a shining figure appears and tells you to seek all Pokémon to meet it again. After that, you wash up on the shores of Prelude Beach in the Hisui region (later known as the Sinnoh region). A Pokémon researcher named Professor Laventon finds you and escorts you to Jubilife Village and takes you to the Galaxy Team Headquarters. To reassure the villagers that you are not a spaghetti monster in disguise, you agree to join the Survey Corp to help the Galaxy Team and gain the trust of the villagers. From there, you explore Hisui and learn about the native locals and the reason why the sky is falling.


As I played the game, I tried to understand what I liked about the gameplay the most. Some people were quick to describe it like Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter. I think Arceus takes ideas from both games to create its own experience while leaning more into being a survival (slight horror) game at the beginning and transforming into one of the familiar formats. In Breath of the Wild, you are given every tool that you need at the beginning of the game and it is up to you to decide on how to use those tools to get through the game’s challenges. Monster Hunter is different where you have a main weapon, resources that you pack in preparation, and your wits and reflexes. Arceus gives you a starter Pokémon, a portable craft table, and a dodge button. The rest is up to you to manage. When I compare these three games, I honestly have to say that Arceus may be more difficult than the other two when starting out.

Let me explain. Arceus and Monster Hunter have the common ground of crafting resources to assist you on quests. If you run out of items like potions, antidotes, flash bombs, ect., you can still defend yourself with your weapon until you have time to either gather materials or fly back to camp. Arceus takes the same concept, but your main weapon has a weakness and can break in a hit or two. Arceus almost demands that you prepare well in advance before leaving camp to ensure that you have a strong team of Pokémon that can meet the unknown challenges that you may encounter. You also need to manage your resources since you can only carry a small amount of materials with you in case you need to craft more pokéballs or potions while you are out. This makes certain situations tense when you enter a new area and have no idea if something is going to annoy you or flat out kill you.


The name of the game is catching them all. Since you are creating one of the world’s first Pokédex, it makes sense that you will need to study them. Unlike other Pokémon games where you unlock the Pokedéx entry for catching a Pokémon for the first time, you need to catch them multiple times, battle, evolve, and do other tasks in order to complete your research. You only need to reach a research level of ten to finish each entry, but if you want the satisfaction of 100 percent completion, be prepared for a long grind. This incentive is something that the mainline games lacked to me. I had no desire to catch every Pokémon since there was nothing satisfying about it outside your participation trophy for doing it all. My goal in those games is to become the Pokémon Champion, and the Pokédex is just a tool to help me learn about different Pokémon. In this game, I got excited when finding a new Pokémon because as a researcher it was my main job. The simple roleplay mindset allowed me to enjoy the gameplay since not a lot of battles happen in this game, thus I don’t need to focus on that aspect until the time comes for it (which is a good and bad thing that I will explain later).

Arceus likes to make one thing clear to you; Pokémon are not your friends and will not hesitate to kill you. Some Pokémon are docile and will just try to vibe with you. Others will act like law enforcement and attack you on site with no questions asked. Something that has been missing in Pokémon lately is the understanding that creatures capable of destroying civilizations and worlds are just freely roaming around and have no moral code to be pals with you. These are dangerous creatures! I have a whole new theory now that parents send their children out to be Pokémon Masters just for the off chance they don’t survive out there and thus help with population control (it would explain why there are a lot of single moms in your local Pokémon area). I have never been on edge while playing a Pokémon game, but the overpowered alpha Pokémon that you can encounter plus the almost mystic air of the region just made me cautious until I got the lay of the land. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I enjoyed having the constant air of danger looming over me until I had a tough squad who could protect my fragile ass. 


Okay, I’m going to say it now. The moment you have all been waiting for. The comment of the year that has had you on the edge of your set since you started reading this. Brace yourself. This is your moment to shine!

The game doesn’t look that great.

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Yes. The visuals in this game are not the greatest. I however do not like the comments that this game looks like a PS2 game. That is an insult to the PS2 and you need to say sorry. If there was one thing that we all knew was going to happen it would be that the game would look subpar. However, it is not game breaking. Some areas look better than others, and I have to give credit to Game Freak for at least providing a stable framerate throughout the game. It just…misses that wow factor that they were trying to go for. You see games like Xenoblade and The Witcher 3 that look great on the Switch, and you wonder why they didn’t get Monolith or Bandai Namco to help them bloom things up. It is not bad to the point of unplayable, but it is something I would like to see them work on in the next Legends game.

While others were complaining about the graphics, no one points out the other bad mechanics that I noticed (too busy bitching about trees again). One mechanic that I find irritating at times is a Pokémon staple; battling. There are indeed times where you need to battle Pokémon and other people in the story. What’s bad about this is that no matter what level your Pokémon are at, they feel weak compared to your opponents. At times you may get lucky with a one-shot, but it feels completely unbalanced how your opponent can wipe your team without breaking a sweat. This is more prominent towards the end and post game where the toughest battles are held and suddenly you are scrambling to create a decent team that isn’t weak to ground (there are a lot of Pokémon who are weak to ground in this game for some reason). Some of these fights can get straight unfair when you are pit three against one in some battles and the game acts like you can handle it no problem. I understand from a lore perspective that the concept of training Pokémon does not exist in this world, and I like that detail. However, from a gameplay standpoint it does not work.

Another thing that pisses me off is when you accidently hit the boundaries of the map. If you unknowingly reach a part of the map where Game Freak is hiding the better graphics, Jimi Hendrix pops out of nowhere and surrounds you in purple haze. It is frustrating when you are just searching the area and you accidentally walk out of bounds and have to find your way out of it. A simple invisible wall would be so much better than this weird fog.

My favorite thing about this game is the level of detail (outside of visuals) that Game Freak fleshed out. It is a nice tough to watch the village grow with new buildings and villagers as you progress. I like that your prior knowledge of the Gen 4 games can come in handy when it comes to the lore. There are a ton of easter eggs that Poke Maniacs will notice and it provides a fun treat for exploring. While those details are good, there are also some bad details that could have been easily fixed. There would be times where my character would just hover above the ground. These sections look like the ground was altered, but the collision was never fixed. There is also this weird sheen that your character gets when it rains, or sometimes you can see the outline of your character clash with dark surfaces. Again, graphical hiccups that could have easily been smoothed out, but Game Freak hasn’t finished that online class yet.

Speaking of online, there are some online functions in this game. You are able to trade with people locally and somehow online. Sadly, local and online battles do not exist in this game (since Pokémon Trainers don’t exist). There is a social mechanic in the game where you can recover dropped items by other players. Whenever you black out for being bad at the game, you drop some items from your pouch that other players can retrieve for you. The reward for doing this is earning merit points that you can use to buy good items like evolution stones. This mechanic is unfair for anyone playing offline, since there is no way to recover lost items yourself. 


Let’s start to wrap up with my overall thoughts about this game. I think it’s also good to clarify that I played this game side-by-side with Kat. The extra benefit of playing this alongside someone else is a contributing factor to my enjoyment of the game. We would discover things together and help each other out and it made collecting all the Pokédex entries even more fun since we were kinda going against each other (until the final stretch when we started trading Pokémon that the other one hadn’t found yet). If you are able to play this with someone else, give it a try and see how it goes.

I found this game fun, addictive up to the end, and a true testament that Game Freak can make a good game. They just can’t make a pretty game on current hardware. I honestly feel that the only thing that holds this game back for most people is that the graphics are not “up-to-par” with current standards (whatever that is). For a person like me where graphics don’t make or break a game for me automatically, I’m glad that it didn’t put me off from playing this game. If you are the type who prioritizes graphics and visuals, then you will not have a good time with this game; and there is nothing wrong with that. Is not perfect by all means and could be so much better if it utilized a different engine. As modern gaming continues to evolve, I’m worried that the “fun” factor of a game won’t matter unless it has near perfect reviews and is near flawless in every aspect (almost like it is today). With that, enjoy playing the games you like to play and don’t let someone like me convince you otherwise. 

What I’m Playing in 2022

In previous years, I would create a crazy wish list of games that have zero chances of being released. This year, I wanted to look at things on a more realistic level and talk about games that I want to finish this year, games I’m looking forward to this year, and a few wishes that I would like to see happen (grounded in reality). It is my hope that the games I declare that I am going to finish in this post will actually get done this year. I am going to focus more on my older games in my collection since it is high time I start knocking those off my list.

Games That I Am Going To Finish This Year

Unfinished Tales of Games (Destiny/Eternia/Graces F/Xillia 2)

A friend and I decided that we would take this year to finish all the Tales of games that we have not finished. My list only consists of Destiny, Eternia, Graces F (never finished the additional story), and Xillia 2. Eventually I will find a way to play Destiny 2, Rebirth, and Innocence, but for now I will stick to the ones that were released here in North America. If I have the time, I may even finish Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology if I’m feeling up to it.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV

This is a long ass game. I am close to done with it at the moment, but I can only play this game in chunks at the moment (I wouldn’t be able to do anything else). The sad thing about finishing this game is not reaching the conclusion of this storyline, but the fact that I can now focus on the first three games in the whole series and then the Crossbell duology when they start coming out this year. I enjoy this series but it is a commitment.

Suikoden

Kat has owned the entire mainline Suikoden games ever since we’ve been together. I always had an interest in playing the games, but never felt motivation to start them. Now seems to be a good time with the spiritual successor to the series, Eiyuden Chronicles, coming out (hopefully) next year. This will give me time to play through at least the second game in the series and cross that game off my gaming bucket list.

Pandora’s Tower

Pandora’s Tower escaped me when Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story came out on the Wii. At first it didn’t really interest me like Monolith’s blockbuster hit or Sakaguchi’s legacy. I was able to get the game for Christmas last year, so I think it is now time to get the last of the trio done.

Final Fantasy V

Along with the Tales of games, I need to continue my playthrough of every mainline Final Fantasy game. There are only a few left on my list, so I decided to start with the oldest game on my list. After I finish V I will only have VII, VIII, XI (I guess), XII, XIII, and XV left.

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wing and the Lost Ocean

This is a series that I’ve been looking forward to playing. I’ve had this game since 2018, but I’ve never felt the urge to jump into the game immediately. Going to change that this year and figure out why I didn’t dive into this series earlier.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence/Curse of Darkness

Every year for the month of October, I like to play through Castlevania games to get into the festive mood. I’ve had Lament of Innocence for the longest time and it is the one that started this idea. Unless another surprise collection comes out (N64 or DS games), then this will be the year I finally run the steak through this game’s heart.

Persona 4 Arena/Ultimax

I guess since Ultimax is being rereleased, now is the time to finish the original versions on PS3. I started the first Arena game, but the structure of long dialogue and then one round of fighting really put me off this game. I will strap in and push through it just to cross these games off my list.

Monster Hunter

While everyone is enjoying the PC release of Monster Hunter Rise, I am going to travel back in time and play the first game on PS2. Let’s see how an unknown game at the time became this global phenomenon that it is today. Hopefully I won’t have to relearn the claw-hand method in order to play it.

Dark Souls 2

Since I finished the first game, the second game should be the next logical step. I am already halfway through with the game, but I’m currently stuck in the catacombs. Once I’m done with the game I would like to ask why this is the black sheep of the series. Minus being easier than the first game, I have been enjoying my time with it.


Fifteen games sounds like a good start. These represent the games that I am committed to finishing this year. There will be others that I will play, but for the most part these are the ones that I am responsible for.

Now let’s talk about some games that are coming out this year. There will most likely be surprises that are announced later this year, but these are the current games I have my eyes on.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

I’m still not sold on the presentation, but I’m going to look past that and judge the game for what it is. Game Freak has a lot of confidence that this game will live up to their expectations, but we all know an angry mob is ready to go the minute this game is released. Other than that, I’m looking forward to seeing what the game offers and if this is a new experience to Pokémon that I’ve been looking for.

Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires

I’ve only seen a preview of this game, and from what I saw it looked interesting. Despite me liking musou games, I haven’t really played much of the original Dynasty Warriors games. It definitely looks like they are adding more strategy with the game with infiltrating forts in order to mow down your enemies in a hack and slash manner. Keeping this game on my radar for now.

Elden Ring

It’s your most anticipated game of the year. It’s also one of my most anticipated games of the year. This game looks amazing. That’s all I can really say.

Triangle Strategy

Stupid name from stupid Square Enix looks really good. I don’t have a big attachment to games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle, but what I have seen so far has piqued my interest. Hopefully the story keeps me engaged unlike Octopath Traveler.

Chocobo GP

While you all speculate about Mario Kart 9, I will be playing the best racing game for the year. Chocobo GP might not have the status of Mario Kart, but racing with Final Fantasy characters and themes is enough for me. I just hope it is good.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

This game looks stupid. The premise is stupid. Everything about this game feels stupid. That is why I am so looking forward to this game! I needed a new game to match the edginess of Shadow the Hedgehog to be a guilty pleasure for years to come.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

I’ve dabbled in the Borderland series here and there. I wasn’t thrilled about the performance issues I had with Borderlands 3, but Borderlands 2 was fun with friends and solo. Painting the series with a fantasy coat of paint but retaining gun and loot gameplay of Borderlands sounds like a fun time.


Finally, let’s talk about some games that I would like to see come out this year.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival

I had the opportunity to play the arcade version of this game. It is intense and a big upgrade from Curtain Call on the 3DS. I thought the controls would make it hard to transition this to consoles, but after playing it, I believe it could work perfectly. After playing Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memories, the control scheme that they used in that would work the same. Service for the arcade version is ending this year, so now would be a good time to port all of the content to consoles. I will keep my expectations of this happening on the lowest scale since this game would be fun, but Square does not care about that anymore. If they could port that crappy Dissidia game, I know they could easily do this.

A Fire Emblem Remake

I don’t know which one they would do next, but it is in the realm of possibility. I would love a remake of the Tellius duology, but any of the Gameboy Advance titles or the Genealogy games would be cool as well. We haven’t heard anything since Three Houses, so it will be interesting if Nintendo would want to compete with Triangle Strategy coming out as well.

Hollow Knight: Silksong

This is for all Hollow Knight fans. I haven’t had the chance to play Hollow Knight yet (despite owning it), but I know how excited you all are for this. I know this, because every time an indie event comes up, it always trends like no one’s business. I’m just ready for this game to come out so people can shut up about it. Please give Team Cherry the time they need to make this game good.

And finally…

Some Remake or Re-Release That I Wasn’t Expecting Or Don’t Need, But I End Up Getting It Anyway

Last year it was the Castlevania Advance Collection. The year before that was that awful Crystal Chronicles remastered. There is something every year that escapes previous hardware and is available to a newer audience. I could try and guess what it might be this year, but I’ll let the surprise announcement try and surprise me.

So what are your plans for the year?