Game 1 - Hero of the Kingdom The Lost Tales 1 - PC / Steam - Completed Jan 1st, 2023
I liked the first few Hero of the Kingdom games, but the third game really soured me on the overall experience. I picked up an indie bundle that had these two "The Lost Tales" games in them, and decided to give this one a try. I'm glad I did, because this game harkens back to the original game(s), and it's quite good. While the mechanics are somewhat simplistic, it's a fun little adventure that involves finding objects and trading them for others (or money) until you finally advance the story to the end. A short adventure that only took about 3 hours to complete, so a good way to start this year's challenge!
Game 2 - Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion - PC / Steam - Completed Jan 2nd, 2023
My second time through Crisis Core, and I can say that this version is now the definitive way to play the game. Although the cutscenes are a bit rough around the edges, the updated graphics and voice acting throughout is a wonderful makeover for this game that was previously stuck on the PSP. The menu was much easier to navigate, and the summon and in-battle cutscenes could be skipped which reduces the repetitiveness of the original by a lot. The areas are still really small though, and the endless missions are easily the worst part of the game and really jack with the leveling curve. The PC version was great at 120fps, and with mods I got ultrawide resolution to mostly work. A wonderful experience that shouldn't be missed by any Final Fantasy fan.
Game 3 - Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising - PC - Completed Jan 7th, 2023
I wanted to finish this game up before the real Eiyuden Chronicle releases later this year. This game had great music, amazing environments, and awesome pixel art. If you love fetch quests, you're going to love this game. The story is pretty generic, but it was sweet, and the game had good characters. However, this could have benefitted greatly from voice acting to really give it the punches it needed. Considering this is a $15 kickstarter stretch goal game for the other, I'm really impressed. It's on Game Pass and worth playing!
Game 4 - I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1 - PC / Steam - Completed Jan 8th, 2023
I remember picking this up on the Xbox Live Arcade during the 360 days, when it was only $1. While a pretty short game, it's a fun twin stick shooter with interesting power ups. While nothing mind-blowing, it's got a great soundtrack (hilarious at times!) that guides you through the game itself. What started as a meme, and a cheap 360 game, turned out to be pretty awesome. The fact that this "remastered" version was free on Steam was a nice bonus!
Game 5 - Hexcells - PC / Steam - Completed Jan 13th, 2023
Another short game (only took about 4 hours to complete 100%) but an amazing cross between picross and minesweeper. It took me a couple of levels to get the swing of the game's rules, but once I caught on I was pretty hooked. Although I play picross every day, not everything carries over as this game has the twist of every "cell" being hexagonal in shape. I know there are a few more of these games, so I might pick them up eventually (after I give my brain a bit of a rest).
Game 6 - Pokemon Scarlet - Nintendo Switch - Completed Jan 20th, 2023
I was gonna skip this game originally, considering I saw it had a ton of bugs and the last few Pokemon games (Diamond / Pearl remakes, Arceus) didn't grab me much. My wife asked if I'd get the double pack so we could do raid things together, so I said "sure". I started playing this game and... damn, it's really good. I had a really good time in the open world collecting pokemons and battling gyms. My biggest complaint would be the lack of voice acting, which was very glaring. Otherwise though, this may be my favorite Pokemon game ever. I hope the next Switch hardware can let this type of game live up to it's full potential.
Game 7 - Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order - Nintendo Switch - Completed Jan 20th, 2023
My son and I played through the campaign in couch co-op mode, it was a lot of fun. The game is really weird in the way that it handles leveling up characters and giving you things you can use to level up abilities. The game was obviously designed from the outset for multiple playthroughs. I also didn't have the expansion packs, so an entire row of characters was inaccessible to us which was a bit of a letdown. Overall though, the game was a good beat um up and I especially thought the voice acting was top notch.
Game 8 - Hero of the Kingdom The Lost Tales 2 - PC / Steam - Completed Jan 28th, 2023
This was another really good Hero of the Kingdom game, although this one seemed far more tedious than the last entry. While the same basic narrative was set up as the last game, this one had merchants that were underground / inside dungeons - meaning you couldn't fast travel to them. This created a lot of needless backtracking. However, still a really solid, though basic, adventure game. I hope more of these get made in the future.
Game 9 - Pictlogica Final Fantasy - Nintendo 3DS - Completed Feb 3rd, 2023
I started playing this last summer - the fact that you get to each section and have to wait a progressively long amount of time really pads this game out. However, this is still my favorite Picross game of all time, thanks in part to the battle system it has. You have to unlock new characters (by solving their picross puzzles) then leveling them up with stars (which you get for completing bonus challenges) to increase their stats and get better equipment. The gameplay loop is pretty cheesy, but it's actually really effective. Unlocked 100% of everything, did all the puzzles, got all the stars.
Game 10 - The Legend of Zelda - Game & Watch - Completed Feb 5th, 2023
I've got the Zelda Game & Watch sitting on my desk as a clock, but decided to use the "Game" part to play The Legend of Zelda in Japanese since that's something I've not done before. While I found it to be mostly the same, there are definitely a few differences - the most major is not being able to kill the rabbit things with arrows in this version. Beat Gannon and saved the hime!
Game 11 - 12 Labours of Hercules XI: Painted Adventure - PC - Completed Feb 13th, 2023
I really do love these games (obviously, this is the 11th I've played), but this one is probably one of the worst. Maybe not as bad as the one where thieves steal your resources, but close. The first half of the game was fine and actually pretty good, but worlds 4 and 5 really tanked this one. The difficulty level on these was cranked up so high (even to me, playing on "casual") that about half the levels in these worlds I couldn't finish before the timer ran out. Some levels I replayed a dozen times then gave up and went to the next one, which sucked a LOT of the fun out of it. I'll probably wait a while before trying to take on XII.
Game 12 - Fire Emblem: Engage - Nintendo Switch - Completed Feb 17th, 2023
This game was pretty good, but it slogged on towards the end. There were also FAR too many characters, and FAR too many cut scenes (especially at the end of the game). The strategy gameplay was really good, although dampened somewhat by the time rewind mechanic and how plentiful it was to use. The game also has a huge amount of side quests and things to do to strengthen the bonds between the characters and give them more flavor. Took around 40 hours to complete.
Game 13 - Slay the Spire - PC / Steam - Completed Mar 3rd, 2023
There aren't that many rogue-likes that I get into, but Slay the Spire is one of the few. This game definitely captures the "one more run" aspect that draws you in, and with earning points and unlocking new things for the next run pretty much constantly, it keeps you hooked. There is definitely more to do here, maybe for another day. The daily challenges are also pretty fun, where it's basically just a random set of rules which, thankfully, carry progress over into the other aspects of the game.
Game 14 - Theatrhythm Final Bar Line - Nintendo Switch - Completed Mar 6th, 2023
This game is pretty dog gone fun. I was a huge fan of both the original game and it's follow up, Curtain Call, on the 3DS. I also really enjoyed the Theatrhythm Dragon Quest game (which never got released in the West), so I knew what I was in for when this was announced. And although it shares a lot of songs with Curtain Call, there is enough here to make this a great package - and the fact that it's on modern hardware is nice too! I was a stylus guy on the 3DS, so it took some time to get used to the controls on this one. But that didn't take long, and it was smooth sailing after that. I cleared all titles in the story mode, and played every track (over 400 of them so far!) at least once.
Game 15 - Diablo IV Early Access Beta - PC - Completed Mar 18th, 2023
I ended up playing the beta for Diablo IV for about 14 hours, so I feel like this qualifies as a game clear. I really enjoyed the game, and I'm looking forward to the full release. I think I'll have to break my own "no $70 games" rule for this one. It actually fixes a lot of what was broken with Diablo 3, and presents it in a world that's a lot more grim (similar to Diablo 1 actually). There is tons and tons of stuff to do in the game, so even someone like me that doesn't usually focus on the meta / endgame will have a solid amount of stuff to do in this one.
Game 16 - Brotato - PC / Steam - Completed Mar 20th, 2023
I picked this up on the Steam sale for a couple of bucks, and I'm glad I did. Although the basic premise of this game is... well... basic, it was still an enjoyable experience. My only real gripe is that losing runs in this game doesn't give you any sort of permanent boosts - a system I typically require of my roguelikes, so that I never feel like I'm wasting my time playing. But this game has a massive "just one more run" vibe to it that'll really get it's hooks in you. Overall this game is definitely worth the asking price, and is a fun take on the "vampire survivors" genre.
Game 17 - Hi-Fi Rush - PC / Game Pass - Completed Mar 23rd, 2023
This game is really something special. First of all, amazing music from start to finish. The Black Keys, Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, and a really solid original score. Secondly, the characters were simply some of the best in any game I've played in a VERY long time. While on the surface they seem to have the depth of a Saturday morning cartoon (and look like one too!), they all end up being incredibly complex and have clear motivation and amazing writing. The rhythm gameplay threw me off a few times, but that's a pretty minor misstep to what will surely become a modern instant classic.
Game 18 - Picross S5 - Nintendo Switch - Completed Mar 26th, 2023
More puzzles. This is more or less identical to Picross S4, but I still love it. I took a break after S4 to do a few other picross games, but now I'm back and finished S5. Even though this game doesn't bring much to the table in terms of innovation, I still enjoyed my time with it quite a bit - some of the puzzles were super tough. Onward to the next picross adventure!