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Feels a bit less like a mystery game than a gruelingly slow visual novel with characters whose charm doesn't really match with the style of gameplay that's going on. Item puzzles feel a bit perfunctory or hard to figure out without trying everything..

A flagship to all those games that want to talk about work outside the sim genre, Even the Ocean is a methodical puzzle-platformer essay on how the mundane and crisis moments of the individual and society shape one another. Fantasy electrician labor is made into an independent state Uber model (why is every indie game about labor like this), your coworker dies gruesomely the first day on the job, and you persist against all odds. Aliph has a loose metropolitan society and no proper coworkers to inform how they should react to being left for dead and silently accepts the hero's accolades along with being wrung out for more deadly work outside the job description. I really dislike the moments trying to bespoke about its fantasy elements because obviously I know that Shinra is evil and that I should not destroy the giant stone wardens of the planet, but our hero-electrician's plain acceptance of the clearly evil work is a really great vehicle for refrained the disaster tourism of video game levels. The game is functionally paced by having to clock in and out of work before levels. Along with a little breakfast stand that dots the way to work, a very small touch is all Even the Ocean needs to pull out mixed drudgery of life with wage labor. The NPCs speak as if they've been gutted of something precious at a spiritual and social level while the fantastical elements of the world are trying to yank a hero does not exist within Aliph. I'm pretty down on the narrative and thematic bow tying that gets dropped suddenly at the end, but I generally enjoy the way the game culminates and the sensations delivers on the way there.

CWs for Memories of a Spaceport Janitor: bodily fluids, harassment, transphobia.
A deeply unfocused, dispassionate, and not very carefully tuned container for the weird liberal middle-class imagination of a distinctly working class job. I'm theoretically into the core loop and really a big fan of how consistently disorienting the city is, but it's in too loose of a frame and ends up stumbling where decades of sims have already produced so many models for designing day-to-day minutia. The scaling of numbers and the general cost of life is baffling given the dice roll to figure out your daily piece-wage and doubly so when you realize that there's just no rent due for some reason. I have a bit of sympathy for this game because I really did otherwise enjoy bopping around the city, but it holds a really nefarious and delirium inducing bootstrap moralizing directed at an individual in an abstraction of our own society that's way too fucking stinky.

The first proper characters in Dragon Quest and they're all very very cute. While the distribution of towns and grinding across the chapters is very uneven, DQ4 manages to clearly declare its territory within larger game scripts by extending the charm of the franchise without ever stumblinh. The cast is a charming spread of personalities brought to life by interesting pre-built packages of DQ3 classes. It is especially impressive the way this game handles women who just exist and have motivations when FF4 comes out like a year later only offering damsel wife lady and cursed daughter girl. I think there's a lot of ways this game is trapped under the weight of DQ3, largely in how restrictive party compositions can feel because of the pre-builds and the unecessary lack of villain scenes with Psaro coming from the insistence to not pull the camera away from the player. Still, it's a breezy time despite being a little larger than the proceeding entries, lately in thanks to a better paced gear advancement. God bless my girly girl party that I took all the way to Psaro and no further because I still do not like DQ post-game content.

It continues to be very very humbling going back through this franchise. Not just this franchise but, it seems, all RPGs that descend from the philosophies and design ethics of Dragon Quest constantly remain in the orbit of this game. DQ3 takes the runaway phenomenon of the first two games and manages to make its closed-circuit adventure formula map to a much larger map. Chosing your party members within the job system provides ups and downs unique to your cast in the way any great job system should. The path through the world is delicately threaded with level checks carefully designed for the amount of grunt work you'll need to do to piece together your next steps. The echoes of your father's path and the repercussion of your own actions boom throughout the world as your team deals with your adventure strongly resembling the one that came before it. Dragon Quest 3 is a game about lineage and discovery in ways which I think wordier entries later in the series struggle to land. If you try to halfheartedly blaze through this with a guide or without optimizing your party, I could see a modern palette rubbing against the level checks, but I think this game is really an unavoidable and vital puzzle piece in the legacy of Video Games.

Going through random DS ROMS: this game is just spot the difference with the world's most jpegged images from a film I've never heard of, incredible/10

I feel like in the 2010s we were all playing stuff like this and being very smug about it, but by 2019 (and especially now), that kind of "clever mechanic + an art style + game feel" style of game, had started to feel a bit quaint and dated.
I dunno, this is ok. It's unique looking and the jazz sound design has its appeal.
I completed "Disc 1" and I'm not sure if there's more to it. The ending menu made it look like there were more "Albums" to unlock, but pressing play on the main menu just starts the game all over? Probably won't go back to it to figure it out tbh.

Flawed and ambitious, Banjo-Tooie is full of so many memorable ideas from the weird 'find the doubloons in this tiny town' of Jolly Roger's Lagoon, to combing a theme park for goodies. What stops these things from feeling merely like little fetch quests is that they usually relate to the moveset in some way - Banjo-Tooie is essentially a point-and-click-puzzle-mechanics adventure expressed through a fairly puzzle and exploration focused platformer. Sure the game is about 50/50 on whether these puzzles feel nice or not, but when things work it's a delight to see your moves put into some new joke or mini-story's context. I like that the moveset never becomes overly powerful: even if some moves amount to keys, the moves' scopes remain constrained enough to still give the levels personality by the end.
The level design goes all over the place, but the theming and little NPCs always pulls the levels together in at least an acceptable way (not all levels are great, of course.) Things feel thought out.
I have to give a hand to Grunty Industries for being so ambitious - we basically get a 3D Zelda dungeon, but far larger and ambitious than any Zelda dungeon ever made. Weaving between a building interior and exterior, spanning 5 floors, themed around all these aspects of a factory - on some ways it feels like a dungeon: it's so complex that it kind of eludes your full spatial comprehension of it, while still being 'logical' enough to somehow keep yourself oriented. Unlike the way some game dungeons give you maps so that you never miss a thing, Grunty Industries is happy to just let you not be able to find everything. "Don't 100% me, just leave the mystery until next time." I like that. The mystery isn't in some meta-layer or 4th-wall trick: the mystery is right in front of you, it's contained in your failure to grasp the ridiculous layout of the level. And in some ways that feels truer to life. When do we ever know the complete depth of anything?
...That being said, if you ever play this, make sure to bind fast-forward to your controller's R2 trigger. I mean you can play it the 'old normal' way if you want but I honestly don't think the added hours you'll spend walking slowly around will add much to the experience.

This is a weird read in 2019. It seems to be an argument in favor of social media oversharing and the sacrifice of privacy that comes with it. It reaches that conclusion by placing a whole lot of trust in the people in power to act in good faith. From a 2019 perspective that's almost quaint, like a nostalgic throwback to how social media used to be before it was all about SEO and disinformation.
But combine that with the fact that every communication between characters has been run through a 4chan-circa-2010 filter (f-slurs abound). It's possible that's a stylistic decision. But it seems more likely that the author just didn't understand social media at the time deeply enough to conceive of a future for it.
Not even gonna touch the teacher/student romance route. Ick.

A simple, nerdy, and drunk on sci-fi genre love story that fucking blew my mind when I was 15. Probably the best swing at this kind of retro UI I've seen to this day and equally as responsible for getting my eyes on the indie scene as Cave Story.

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