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

Backlog Tale – Mario Golf: Super Rush

Mario Golf: Super Rush was a fun game to play for the two weeks I spent playing it. I haven’t played a Mario Golf game since the N64 version. I enjoy that version and the Game Boy Color version as well. Super Rush is easily one of my favorite to control and understand, but I can’t help but to feel that some of the charm has been lost. When I compare this to some of the older Mario sports games in general, I can’t help but to notice the Mushroom Kingdom “charm” feels missing outside of some elements that were paste in. What I’m left with is a fun game that functions great, but doesn’t get me excited with its level design and boring plot to a story mode.

Synopsis

What if golf was Mario Kart?

A Neat Idea That Can Be Frustrating

Despite not liking most sports, I do enjoy them when you add some fun, wacky mechanics to it. To me, it makes the game more interesting when bombs are flying all over the field or you have fun characters to play as. Mario Golf: Super Rush found a way to make golf interesting by adding a new mode called Speed Golf. While I think the real world equivalent would be watching a bunch of golfers take meth and run and scream after they hit their ball, this game gives me a close equivalent to what that would be like. Speed Golf requires you to race to your ball after hitting it down the green and race your opponents to see who can sink their ball the fastest. There are different variations to this mode like just playing normally under a time limit, or earning points based on your placement. It is a fun mode and adds to the crazy chaotic fun that I enjoy in some of my games.

One thing that I don’t like is Cross Country (XC) Golf. This mode in the Adventure Mode let’s you pick which holes you want to go for in any order as long as you do them within the number of strokes. The stage that you play this mode on has a ton of cliffs that you have to send your ball upwards in order to clear. For someone who tried using the recommended methods to get past these obstacles, it made me want to send my controller down the fairway. Even worse, the game times you so you don’t feel like you can get enough time to adjust and figure out the best ways to clear the cliffs. It was aggravating and could completely be my fault for not using the right technique, but nevertheless frustrating.

The other new mode is called Battle Golf. In this mode, you compete against others sink your ball into the required amount of flags before your opponents. This is where the real chaos of Mario Golf: Super Rush comes in as the field is smaller than other maps, but with items being used everywhere and characters using their own abilities to disrupt others, it looks fun. I honestly did not spend much time in this mode, but probably will if I have friends who want to join in.

What is nice to know is that the game will be supported in the future with free updates. I know this goes into the topic of if the game was actually finished to begin with. I too wonder if the developers had more plans with the title but were force to ship it out on release day (more on that in the next section). I like this approach however for a title like this. I don’t see myself playing this every day or develop a routine with it. Giving me a reason to pick the game up once again outside of playing with friends might give me a reason to play this on occasion here and there. For a sports game, I am a little more accepting of picking it up when free updates are sent out (and not spending $60 for the same game with a different roster). If the content is worth it, then I will check it out.

As of the last update, there are 9 courses.

Adventures in Golf Land

I was excited to play the adventure mode since they were my favorite in the Game Boy entries. Adventure mode left me disappointed and honestly where I felt the most content was lacking. I know people want to say that the lack of content comes from the number of courses you can play on, but to me this is where the content was lacking. I felt like I was just going through the motions and not really caring about what was going on in the story. At the beginning it felt like some type of rivalry between you, Charging Chuck, Boo, and Toadette, but they kinda disappeared somewhere in the middle and suddenly I’m teaming up with Wario and Waluigi for “plot.” It also felt unfinished to me at the end where you save Bowser’s Castle, Toad says you can participate in Battle Mode, and then the credits just roll. You do get the ability to use your Mii in Battle Mode at that point, but I just ended up saying whatever at the end and moved on.

The other obvious complaint to adventure mode that I could make is how uncreative the areas and characters are. I know Nintendo is going through this phase of not allowing creative characters in Mario games anymore, but this game really suffered from that choice. Being surrounded by Toads and (Bowser’s) minions makes exploring and talking to them dull since you see them everywhere. I’m not saying that it could have the opposite effect if they were human characters, but making them all look the same and nothing creative about them just makes me uninterested in talking to them. I can see why they wouldn’t let Camelot use their human characters in the game, but if they were uptight about not having non-residents of the Mushroom Kingdom roaming around, then they could have used the next best thing, the Miis! If I’m allowed to run around as a Mii, then they could have easily implemented generic Miis in the adventure mode and make you go against these NPCs with an identity rather than a minion that shares the name of the others.

I can now play as my boi Koopa Troopa!

It’s Golf, but with Speed

This post feels short just because there is not a lot for me to talk about. It’s Mario Golf. You either like Mario Golf or you don’t like it. I enjoy Mario Golf games because they speak to me at my level on how to play golf. I had more fun just playing the regular golf mode with my father-in-law than anything that the adventure mode threw at me. I like some of the stages and characters, and I will most likely play through the new stages and content that come out later. If you like Mario Golf, I can recommend it to you since you will have a good time with this and the new modes that come with it. If you like golf but hate Mario and gimmicks, then you can skip this game a find a cheaper golf game to play. If you hate golf but like Mario, then play any of the other thousands of Mario games. If you hate golf and Mario, then why were you reading this in the first place? I enjoyed playing this for the time that I did, but don’t see myself playing it constantly in my rotation.

Xenoblade Chronicles – 9 Years in the Backlog #MaybeInMarch

#MaybeInMarch is the second part to a two part collaboration hosted by Kim from Later Levels and Solarayo from Ace Asunder. Participants were asked to share their love for their backlog last month, and now this month to finish one of the oldest titles in your backlog. While I highlighted a different game in my first post, I choose a different game that has been in my backlog for quite some time.

If there was a game that I loved playing, but was terrible at the core mechanics of, it would be Xenoblade Chronicles. Xenoblade Chronicles was one of those games that I was excited to get back in the day that kept me hooked for months. The main draw that kept me playing, like others, was the massive open world that was fun to explore and discover every part of this giant world. For Wii standards, this was impressive at the time, and some might say that it still holds up to this day. But, if you read my title, this is my first time finishing the game since buying and playing it back in 2012. Why did it take me this long to finish such a great game if I was enjoying it so much?

For those who have not played, heard, or know what a Xenoblade is, allow me to explain. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles takes place on the bodies of two colossal giants; known as the Bionis and the Mechonis. The Bionis is home to different races; Homs (that represent normal humans), Nopons (cute ball-shaped creatures), and the High Entia (humans with angelic hair), while the Mechonis is home to machines, the Mechons. The people of the Bionis and Mechonis have been at war with each other with the people of the Bionis on the losing side of things. That’s before the hero Dunban started to take control of the battlefield wielding the mythical blade, the Monado. The Monado has the ability to destroy the Mechons unlike normal weapons which do little to them. With this OP weapon, the people of Bionis should start turning the tides right? Well it seems that the Monado is very picky about its wielder and leaves Dunban with a destroyed arm after he failed to control it’s power. A year later, a boy named Shulk spends his days researching the Monado in hopes of understanding it better so the next wielder can control it. After an Mechon attack on his home, Shulk learns that he can use the Monado without any negative side effects. Even better, he can now see glimpses into the future to avoid his and other’s deaths. This isn’t perfect since there are somethings out of his control (as he quickly finds out). Without spoiling much, Shulk and his best friend Reyn go on an adventure to defeat the Mechons with the Monado at hand. The plot doesn’t sound like much without going into spoiler territory, but once the adventure starts you understand the weight of the journey that they carry.

And that is about as much of the story I can tell you since most of the journey is a blur to me. There are a lot of things that I forgot happened since it has been so long since I played those parts. Just know that the destination is worth it since the story goes places that I wasn’t expecting and ended on a scope that I was not prepared for. The story, environment, and visuals (for Wii era) were so impressive that it really carried the game for me. If you like to explore and have enough quest to find items, defeat monsters, and deepen bonds with characters, then Xenoblade has it all for you.

There was something though that prevented me from enjoying this game from beginning to end in one setting that ultimately prevented me from finishing this game until now; the gameplay. Your game can look pretty and impressive all you want, but if the gameplay is not great, then the whole game falls apart. This is not me saying that the gameplay in Xenoblade is bad. It has one of my new favorite battle mechanics that is customizable to bring out the full potential of each character. The problem is understanding it.


So let’s go back in time to the year 2012. Roblox had been hacked, Windows 8 was terrorizing the nation, and a youngish nineteen year old Danames had just started playing Xenoblade Chronicles in his freezing apartment. The tutorial battle starts and…the characters are attacking on their own? Ok, auto attack is the primary way of fighting in this game, and if you want to use a fancy move (arte), you select them at the bottom. Ok, no problem at this point! Now the game is throwing terms at me like aggro, break, topple, positioning, ether, gems, and a cluster of different effects. This…didn’t feel like any JRPG that I was used to playing. It turns out, Xenoblade plays more akin to an MMO. You have to understand each character’s role and make the most of what they specialize in to make the most of them on the battlefield. Guess who had zero knowledge of MMOs back in 2012?

If you are familiar with MMO mechanics, or can perform the basic concept of reading the tutorial, then the battle system and character customization will not be an issue for you. I have come to learn that I used (and sometimes still) to get overwhelmed with so many mechanics to learn, memorize, and apply to in order to make the most of a character’s growth and specialties. It doesn’t help that the menus and details in Xenoblade is a lot to learn and wrap your head around in order to equip the right equipment to each person, the types of gems that will be beneficial to them, what artes you want to equip them with, and what team compositions would be the best for boss. I greatly underestimated the importance of ether until the last few dungeons, and I was beating myself up that I wasted a lot of potential for certain characters since I did a poor job of outfitting them properly.

The best example I have is Melia. I never used Melia when I first got her, because she was ether based and her abilities sounded really confusing to me at first, I just avoided using her. I never bothered to understand her utility since I was getting by just fine with Shulk, Sharla, and Reyn. It wasn’t until the fight against *Spoiler* at the Bionis Heart. This boss would spawn multiple enemies to buff it and it was hard to take them all out in a fast manner. This is when I learned that Melia has AOE attacks that could destroy them in one or two hits. The problem was, I never developed Melia to be that effective. I found a guide that helped me build her up and that’s when most things finally started to click. By the time I was done developing Melia for that fight, she became one of my most powerful characters since she would just buff everyone and then release powerful attacks that destroyed anything in her path. I felt bad that I never took the time in the past to really get to know how to use her since she would have been very useful in other battles.

This issue wasn’t exclusive to just Melia. For a long time I thought I had to keep Sharla in my party because she was the designated healer. The only problem with Sharla is that she sucks at everything else outside of healing. What’s worse is that after every arte she uses, her rifle will start to overheat, and you would have to cool it off before she could use her artes again. Its good to have her if you want a strong healer on your team, but Xenoblade does not make that a requirement if that is not how you want to format your team. Almost every character has a healing ability that they can use to keep them in the fight, or an ability that helps them stay alive. So, if you don’t want to have terrible Sharla on your team, you don’t need to depending on how good your team is. It took me until the final dungeon of the game to finally realize who the best character in the game it, Rikki. Memes aside, Rikki is stupid versatile with what you want him to do. He has the highest health stat in the game and that sets him up for the best support character in the game. The health stat would be tempting to make him a tank, but he needs all that health to slowly murder and help the people around him. Give him gems to increase his physical and ether defense and make him a priority ether user to use the strongest healing arte in the game as well as nasty ether attacks that have status aliments to them. My final team consisted of Shulk, Dunban, and Rikki since they would end battles so fast for me.


Sigh. As I’m writing this, I’m really upset that I ruined some of the experience of the game for myself. If I wasn’t so stubborn in the past to use guides and take the time to learn the game, I might have this one of my favorites games of all time. That is not saying that I found the entire journey free from some annoying issues. I am not one of the people who doesn’t dismisses a game entirely if the framerate isn’t consistent all the way through, but the framerate issues I had with the Wii version of Xenoblade made me rage so many times. The only time where the game would slow down because it couldn’t handle everything on screen was during battles. In the boss fight that I mentioned in the Bionis’ heart, the adds that would spawn in would make that battle miserable since things would happen, but you can’t react since different things are processing at different times and then you find yourself dead. The amount of times the framerate would screw me over in a game where your positioning is important drew me up the wall towards the endgame. I was waiting for my Wii to melt at any point either from trying to handle everything or the heat from my frustration would vaporize it. Ugh.

Also there are too many side quest in the game. I know the developers wanted you to explore this expansive world, but there are too many useless fetch or slaying quest that just gives you money as a reward. The Colony 6 side quest are fine since those actually build up to something, but when everyone has something for you to do, then you don’t really have anything that you want to do. Some of these quest can be fun, but a majority of them just feel like padding.

So that is pretty much my thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles. I appreciate this game more now that I have finished it and learned how to play it effectively. I wasn’t planning on it, but I immediately started playing the definitive edition on Switch, which improves so many things for me. My eyes feel like they are no longer burning since the Wii visuals didn’t age well for me and the text felt small to read. The user interface feels so much better to navigate and read, and the updated graphics are fine to me. There are also small quality of life changes that improve the game from the base game. I’m only on Chapter 3, so if there is something stupid that the definitive edition did, I won’t know until I get there.

But that about wraps up my thoughts and time with Xenoblade Chronicles. I’m happy that I was able to finally cross this game off my backlog and get one step closer to completely finishing my Wii collection. Of course I would be interested in getting Xenoblade Chronicles 2 now when you can’t find a used physical copy anymore. I may cave and get the digital version, but with other games on my backlog right now, I can hold off purchasing it right now.

Again, thank you Kim and Solarayo for hosting this collaborating event!

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX

The Co-Op Tales: A Party of BS

When you think of games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, or Dokapon Kingdom (for those who know what this game is), you think of party games that can get competitive, but at the end you have a good time with who you are playing with. You may play one game of Fortune Street and get mad at your friend for making you play Fortune Street, but in the end, your friendship is still intact but questionable for a while. However, there exist on franchise that no matter who you play with friendships end, controllers get destroyed, and lives end.

I am talking about Mario Party. Maybe Monopoly on a bad night, but for this story I am talking about Mario Party! We all have our own horror stories of how someone screwed you over or the game decided that it was your turn to experience Hell on Earth. This post alone may trigger some repressed memories that you may have. I guarantee that most people do not walk away from a game of Mario Party without some hatred toward the people they played against.

This story takes place back when I was in college. I had a friend that I would hang out with regularly and we would play games on her Gamecube often. For the purpose of this story, let’s call her Buttons (because of all the ones she pushed for this one). The Mario Party of choice that evening was the fourth installment, a personal favorite of mine. I represented ya boi Luigi like I tend to do and Buttons was fond of Peach. The setting was with computers set to hard and the board was Shy Guy’s Jungle Jam I believe. We played for twenty turns with no handicaps. From there the game played out normally with races to the next star and one upping each other in mini games.

The turning point of the game came at the end of the game. With two turns left, we were tied for first place. Last turn she had managed to obtain a magic lamp, which takes you automatically to the star. When her turn came, she used the lamp to teleport to the star space and was able to collect one.

Then came the real scummy part.

After collecting a star, a scene is played showing where the next star location is.

The star spawned three spaces away from her. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It is at this point that I wanted to start calling hacks. What are the chances of something like that happening!? And of course Buttons was sitting over there with the biggest **** eating grin on her face and saying the game knows who the queen of Mario Party is. But, the game was not over yet. The star was three spaces away and there was a chance that the die could roll a 1 or a 2. I had seen crazier things happen in Mario Party, but something like this was what I needed to not throw my controller across the room. Buttons goes to roll her die…..

She rolls a 10.

WWWWWHHHHHHHYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!

Photo taken at the time

At this point I am out of my seat and calling all of the hacks. Buttons is dying of laughter in her seat. It was as the game just knew it had to piss me off somehow and rub the salt into my wound. Buttons goes to collect her star and I was left to watch as Peach pranced around the board like she owned it. In the matter of one turn, I went from being tied for first to second in the blink of an eye. The star respawned to the other side of the map far away from the harpie queen that and took my life and turned it upside down. Surely, the worst had to be over by then right? Right?

It got even worse.

Peach took her last seven moves on the board and landed on a blue space. Then, a hidden box appeared……….

There was a star inside the box.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I believe I walked out of my apartment when I saw that. As the door closed behind me, I could hear the shrieking laughter from Buttons. The game stared at me and asked itself how it could ruin my day further. It handed Buttons a golden gamecube controller that had the power to make others bend to her will, and gave me a gigantic middle finger. Never had a game targeted me specifically and decided that it would do everything in its power to humiliate me. I returned to the room with Buttons sitting high on her throne; laughing at the insect who would try to dare take her status as ruler of Mario Party.

The game ended with Buttons winning two extra stars during the Bonus Star section. She won 9 to it doesn’t matter.

We have not played Mario Party together since.

Pokemon Sword and Shield – Kicking Depression Since 96

Giving a heads up now that this story will not be one of my cheerful, goofy post, but not devoid of some humor.


A little known secret about me is that if I am interested in a game, I will play it no matter how bad everyone else says it is. Months leading up to this game, I was starting to get tired of hearing the complaint about these titles. I had to block #bringbackthenationaldex from my Twitter feed because it was getting annoying and it felt like everyone was just repeating themselves. I like to keep my expectations low because in the end I want to judge something based on my experience and give my honest opinion about something without influence from people that I do not know. So then the question is how did I find Pokemon Sword and Shield? Was I upset about the Pokemon available in the game? Did I cringe at all the “lazy, reused” animations? Was I upset that this title was not on par with Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Skyrim, The Last of Us, God of War, the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich, or the release of Half-Life 3? The answer to all of those is no not really, and for me that was due to a special reason.

I am going to be completely honest and open about me for a moment. The last half of 2019 was probably the most stressful period of my life. I work a full-time job, I take two classes a semester for my graduate degree, I take on almost all the responsibilities at home and in my relationship, I took on some music gigs playing an instrument that I had not touched in years and on top of that my weekly band rehearsals, and I started this blog. I juggled a lot of things to keep myself busy, but what I did not realize was that it was all taking its toll on me. I remember waking up already miserable for what was planned for the day. I would clean or fix on thing just for something else to fall apart the next. I would have moments where I would be bombarded with stressful thoughts that I felt trapped in this never ending cycle. My wife would try her best to help, but I was in such a rough patch that she did not know what to do in order to help me. Any time I had free time to myself, I would just stare into space and freak out about what was next to come. I had convinced myself that no one in the world would be able to handle the things that I did and that only I could do it. This made me super anxious about doing anything that I did not want to do because it was another thing on my plate. I think you get the picture now that I had the Big Sad.

The height and moment I realized I was unhappy with the status of my life came one day when I had nothing to do. It was the weekend, my wife and I had no plans of going out, and I had finished my school work for the week. I remember sitting in my game room looking at all the games we had and trying to decide what to play. After staring at the shelves for about 10 minutes, I felt sick and disgusted with myself that I would waste my time playing a game for a few hours when I could be doing some “more important.” I went to my wife and asked her if she wanted to help me box everything up and sell it all since just looking at them made me fell miserable. Immediately she knew something was wrong (that’s like Code Supernova in our house that something is wrong) and reassured me that all the stress that I had built up was eating at my depression and I needed to rest and stop creating work for myself. I believe I also messaged my good friend about my predicament and we played Final Fantasy 14 for a while. While it was good to get my mind off of things, I still felt bad that my other games were just sitting on a shelf collecting dust (the dilemma of a collector).

There was one thing that was keeping me going through all of this. Every new Pokemon game that’s been released has always made me feel good playing through them. Something about starting a new Pokemon journey with new mons and a new team always brought me back to the first time I played Pokemon Red all those years ago. The only worry I had was that it would feel like Sun and Moon, where nothing made me feel excited due to the trials feeling mind numbing and not a lot to do after you finish the game. Ultra Sun and Moon did not help this feeling, and for some reason Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby made me realize that I do not like the Hoenn region as much; making them the only Pokemon games that I have not finished. These worries would stick around, but I realized that I had developed a habit of enjoying things that most people don’t (my choice in gaming is proof of that). When November 15th rolled around, I eagerly went to the store and picked up the double pack for me and my wife and we made plans that evening to do nothing else but to play these games together. Would our hero find these games interesting or as ridiculous as the internet said it would be?

Give me a sign oh Walmer of the Lake

I was addicted to this game. The presentation of the game really sold it to me since there was a reason for going on this journey. In the other games it felt like you went on it because everyone else has or you have to “help” the local professor with their research. Things felt a bit more personal since the region is crazy for battles and things make sense for you to be a part of that. I loved the fact that the game had random encounters and Pokemon out in the open for you to catch. I enjoyed it in Let’s Go and I continued to enjoy it in this. My wife and I spent a lot of time in each area because for once I wanted to catch everything that I saw since I could see what was in each area and it was no longer a guessing game. The Wild Area was a laggy mess when online, but it was basically a giant Safari Zone where you could find almost anything. My entire weekend was spent just exploring, battling, trading, and researching all that I could about this game. For the first time in what felt like months, I was truly happy.

My first shiny in the game!

I thought about writing a review for this game, but felt like a post like this was more appropriate. So I am going to rapid fire some of the things that I liked and disliked with an arbitrator score at the end. So, (inhale)

  • Grookey is best don’t @ me
  • The credit scene made me realize that I can create a “rock band” team
  • Raids are fun as long as you play with others
  • Shiny Applin is a myth
  • The way Exp share works in this game is a godsend for training
  • I had a moral dilemma when I learned about the fossil Pokemon. Arctozolt however became one of my mains and I love the little abomination
  • Hop is not a bad rival. He has issues with living up to his brother’s name and he grows from it.
  • The backstory is lame. The villain’s motivation was weak, and I miss having a serious evil organization.
  • Cramorant is my favorite Pokemon from this generation
  • The gym challenges felt like a better trail system from Sun and Moon and they were actually fun to do.
  • Best gym challenge was Opal’s Quiz. Worst was Gordie’s I guess because I do not remember his.
  • Gym battles felt hype due to the stadium ascetic and the crowd’s chants during the last fight.
  • I reset my game during the Leon fight because I felt like I was cheating using revives during the fight. I wanted to the satisfaction of beating him without recovery items and it felt great when I did.
  • Speaking of Leon, he ranks third on best league champion. His personality and presence made him fell like a great champion.
  • I enjoy the battle tower in the post game. It is an actual challenge if you have not been training properly.
  • Bede was a better challenger than Marlene. Bede had the better story arc and continued being a jerk at the end.
  • The post game story was ehh….

    All in all an 8/10. Just the right amount of water
First time he intimidated me

This game has also gotten me interested in the competitive scene. I may not be ultra devoted to the idea of breeding perfect IV’s, maxing EV’s, getting the right abilities and whatnot, but I do like the idea of creating crazy teams and seeing if I can make them work. This was also the first time in a mainline series that I actually completed the Pokedex. Normally I would not care about completing it, but I felt compelled to do so for the very first time. The limit number of Pokemon helped with that as well as hunting for them in the Wild Area. Along the way I also stumbled upon the joy of shiny hunting. I am not hardcore dedicated to it yet, but it is another option when I feel like it. Even though there is not much to do after finishing the game, I am still finding ways to enjoy and come up with new things to do. To this day I am still playing it from time to time and I’m starting to see people actually enjoy the game as well.

Proof that I did it!

So to wrap this post up, I am so glad this game was able to bring me out of my dark spell. It wasn’t perfect since nothing is perfect, but it hit all the right buttons for me at the time at the time and made me enjoy gaming again. To those that bashed on the game and say that Pokemon is on the downfall, I would say that that happened starting with the 3DS games and time has caught up to us. It is hard to have something new come out that is not meet with backlash and people’s individual expectations not being meet. We have forgot how to find simple fun in things now that we are the ones paying and spending our limited time playing games that need to meet several factors in order for it to be worth our time. I know that is how I felt for a certain time, and now all I want to do is find my own enjoyment out of the things that I do and be my own voice and judge. So again, thank you Sword and Shield for not making me sell my entire collection which I would have regretted and had the even bigger sad afterwards.

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX