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I continue in my quest to play every game Josh Sawyer cited as inspiration for Pentiment. Oxenfree definitely knows what it's trying to do, its a sort of teen coming of age story with a paranormal twist, like Stand By Me got made into an episode of X-Files.
In general I think its... fine? I enjoyed my time with it well enough, the music was good and the character dialogue was good for what its was trying to be? I.e American teenager movie dialogue. Its sits more on the VN side of the adventure game spectrum, the puzzles are mostly just "find the right radio frequency" but the dialogue choices are oddly timed, sometimes characters will interrupt each other in unnatural ways and whilst the slow walking speed is clearly meant as a pacing tool, this seemingly did not account for a few instances in which your companion will basically say nothing at all until you hit the predetermined checkpoint.
I think Pentiment had the right idea in making your choices influence the outcome of dice rolls, the combination of RPG and adventure game really does mesh well but here the dialogue choices seem kind of... opaque? Like I was really not sure if I was meant to be gaming the outcomes or choosing naturally but the ending was kind of a mess for this aspect. The "negative" outcomes felt undeserved and the "positive" ones unearned.
I guess I liked it more than Night In The Woods, mainly cause of the faster pace and more sympathetic characters, and at least had the decency to be brief.
There are two types of games (and movies, books, etc) in this world, not good or bad but games which I will remember and games which I will have forgotten about in a week's time. And I guess the harshest thing I can say about Oxenfree is whilst fine, I will definitely forget about it sooner than most.

Spotting an arcade cabinet of Time Crisis 5 was like spotting a unicorn in the wild for me, and as such, I immediately felt compelled to run through the whole thing. I imagine that the devs must have been just as excited as I was to try out their new toys (in the form of the Unreal Engine), because that would be the easiest way to explain the drop in depth from previous installments. The dual pedal system sounds great in theory (switch perspectives on the fly to target covered enemies from their weak points while dodging more threatening attacks), but it makes the game somewhat of a breeze, because you can switch pretty quickly with no limits and enemies take a few seconds to refocus their attacks towards you, not to mention that you can dodge every bullet your way by doing so. You're heavily conditioned to do so anyways, because the animation for ducking back under cover has been slowed in comparison to how quickly red-highlighted bullets can be spotted and then damage you, so it's much harder to dodge without outright switching with pedals. Besides that, there's a lot less incentive to mess around with your other weapons, because there aren't quite as many yellow grunts to attack to farm extra ammo: not that you'd really need to anyways, since the unlimited handgun deals enough quick damage to dispatch practically everything with ease. The game also feels a bit more gimmicky this time around due to all the other sections that detract from Time Crisis's signature cover shootouts. There are a few quick time events that require you to press the correct pedal to avoid damage, a single sniper section that has you headshotting foes to avoid detection (unlikely anyways since they die to two body shots and you'll usually fire fast enough), and some "break the targets" quick time events that become simple enough since you're provided with unlimited ammo during these moments.
I do have to admit that at the end of the day though, it's still Time Crisis despite the obvious lack of focus, and it's still got many of the hallmarks that got me so interested in the first place. The light gun aiming feels pretty responsive and satisfying due to the vibrations and fantastic visual/audio feedback, there are some pretty intense railgun sections that actually prompted me to really keep an eye on both perspectives with the pedals, and the story still makes absolutely no sense at all with some of the laziest voice-acting imaginable. I can't help but grin though, as the campyness of the franchise, with all its exaggerated boss fights and gratuitous explosions, has always been a big draw in its memorability. As it stands, it's definitely the weakest of the Time Crisis games I've dabbled with, but I'm glad to have finally found and conquered another installment. The search shall continue until I've beat them all...

There's one interesting moment in here, early on: Taylor, stranded on an alien planet and presumably wearing a spacesuit with "I'm Fluent In Sarcasm" written on the front, asks you whether it's safe to stay in the mildly radioactive ship overnight. How do you know if it is? Well, you google it, of course. You're asked to do that fairly directly, and you get some good results about what dosages are lethal to humans before the results turn into walkthroughs for this game.
All of the most interesting moments are early on. The game gives the impression of being written entirely in order. Any tough decisions are near the beginning. The middle turns the choices into "Progress" and "Not Progress." By the end your only options are different ways of saying "What's happening?"
This is apparently a lengthy series and I genuinely can't tell if it has a really dedicated fandom or if the devs wrote their own fan wiki. Either way, I won't be continuing. I cannot overstate how much I disliked Taylor. Started intentionally leading them to danger very quickly and had to consult a walkthrough to get the good ending.

There are some strange rare design choices that cause minor moments of frustration, like one song constantly switching on and off between off-beat hits and another song that can overwhelm you with a flurry of notes right after an in-song cutscene, but in general, this game absolutely rules. It does a great job translating the song's lyrics and major beats into a firmly telegraphed form with the overlapping circles + lines that have to be traced as held notes, and they're all placed carefully in order to keep the chart and the player in-tune with the beat, perfect for the compact DS touchscreen. Admittingly it's not ideal relying on sheer score accrual over individual stage rankings to unlock the bonus stages, but it at least provides another incentive to master more difficult stages and the hardest settings when the thresholds are set that high. Either way, the game's charm is absolutely infectious and it never gets old watching three guys in suits and sunglasses dance away everyone's problems, no matter how minor they may be. Without a doubt, I can see myself coming back to push through the highest difficulty after clearing this on normal, so it's an easy recommendation despite some low points. I saw this advertised all over the place as a kid and can't believe it took me this long to finally try it out: hands down one of the best titles on the DS, and it's a real shame we don't see anything from iNiS anymore.

I do feel a little bad about this. When I decided I Like RPGs Now the other month I dove into this one with the mindset that I'm going to see the story through and not give up when it gets tricky, and here I am doing that.
The battles are fun, or at least they were 30 hours ago. I kind of dread them now but that's probably me getting impatient with the game. The BP and weakness system create good strategies without getting overwhelming. Thing is, I ended up building a party that relies heavily on multi-target elemental attacks to whittle down the enemy defense, and I just ran into a boss whose ability is disabling those specifically.
Not a huge deal, all I have to do is change my party and grind the weaker guys up while figuring out a new angle of attack. Except... in 40+ hours, this game has not managed to make me care about any of these characters. The story is bad. No, worse: the stories are bad. All 8 of them, equally insipid.
I could do the grinding, or I could stop playing.
Oh well. I was only playing this because I heard such good things about the sequel. I established my baseline. Mission accomplished, moving on.

The good news about trying out Solar Ash is that it clicked immediately since it was not afraid to wear its influences on its sleeves: you’ve got skating mechanics inspired by Jet Set Radio, boss fights and designs inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, and a woozy ambient soundtrack alongside gooey and ethereal aesthetics captured in deep space. It’s not hard to decipher Heart Machine’s vision for the game. The bad news about trying out Solar Ash is that being so heavily inspired by two of my favorite games meant that I was both consciously and unconsciously comparing the game in every waking moment of my playthrough, and the cracks in the armor really started to show. Right away, the most obvious issue is the lack of subtlety. The game is so in-your-face with its lore and the overarching details that it fails to leave much room for individual player interpretation. The protagonist Rei is constantly commenting upon everything she comes across, and the audio logs that she stumbles upon where her old crewmates vividly describe the world’s demise don’t leave much up to imagination either. This over-explanation is further compounded by all the jargon thrown into the mix and the exaggerated voice acting, which not only confuses me, but also feels like the authors didn’t really tackle the tone properly; instead of sounding desperate, Rei instead comes off as somewhat angsty to me. The amount of effort put into flaunting all this detail feels quite unwarranted, considering that Shadow of the Colossus was more than happy to let players just linger in their own space and judge for themselves: what happened to “show, don’t tell” guys?
Further invited comparisons to Shadow of the Colossus make it evident to me that despite the reverence of its boss encounters, Solar Ash fails to emulate much of their appeal in any meaningful way. Nothing comes close to the volume swells present in Shadow of the Colossus, because there’s no focused build-up of anticipation when the player is too busy looking for plasma and voidrunner caches alongside traversal puzzles for destroying Anomalies, not to mention Rei’s stream of self-narration breaking up any prolonged moments of silence. More importantly, the boss fights themselves lack any stakes. Shadow of the Colossus emphasizes its sense of scale, as you carefully climb this larger-than-life creature while it desperately flails about, trying to shake you off before you snuff it out by plunging your sword into its vitals. Solar Ash on the other hand, may as well just be a casual Sunday drive through a Mario Kart course; the sigils have been replaced with temporary targets and context-sensitive grapple points, and most of the interaction boils down to holding forward on the joystick and jumping/grappling at the right time. You don’t even need to adjust the camera, because the game will automatically do that for you when you need to shift directions. Say what you want about Shadow of the Colossus’ ballistic camera during the colossi encounters, but it really lent the fights a sense of powerlessness and urgency during this desperate dance of death that Solar Ash lacks. To top this all off, consequences of failure are minimized in the latter; falling off or failing to hit a target in time just sends you back to a close checkpoint to the boss with only one hit point missing, and you can usually grapple right back on the boss to retry the phase within a minute or two. Considering that health boxes are scattered everywhere, you have to actively try to get a game over. It is kind of funny that the final boss fight doesn’t even provide you with a health bar for a potential game over: it’s a mere formality at that point.
The weird thing is, despite how streamlined the boss fights are in Solar Ash, there’s a real lack of polish from strange jank and design decisions elsewhere. Rei’s standard attack combo string is three attacks at a time, but the game likes throwing enemy variations at you that require four hits at a time (either a pair of smaller foes that each take two hits, or a singular medium baddy that takes four hits). The result is that you have to actively linger in the same space to completely finish off most enemies, and combat then noticeably interferes with the general flow of movement. Regarding lack of fluidity, I also have to agree with nex3’s point that it’s surprisingly easy to lose momentum altogether from strange collisions from geometry. The strange momentum physics are reflected elsewhere too, such as when I noticed that jumping from the end of a rail resulted in significantly less momentum conserved than when Rei naturally slid off the rail instead. Finally, it’s kind of a shame that despite how much plasma is thrown at you and emphasized as the main collectible resource (to the point where one of the unlockable suits doubles your rate of plasma collection), there’s only one use for it: restoring a block of your health gauge’s max capacity after losing a cell every time you defeat a boss. In that sense, plasma feels rather superfluous, much like most of the game’s mechanics and features outside of its core traversal.
In spite of all this, I liked Solar Ash enough to complete a save file. I can’t help but feel bummed though, because I should have loved this. I had a good enough time just gliding about the surface of a post-apocalyptic wasteland and zooming about from rail to rail, but there’s so much stuff in-between that doesn’t seem to add anything pertinent to the base structure. I can’t see myself coming back to this for hardcore mode unfortunately, since it just seems like an artificially difficult no-hit playthrough with extra steps, though perhaps I’ll return someday to see if a speedrun challenge feels any better than a standard run. I find myself agreeing with quite a few others here: if practically everything minus the atmospheric visuals/soundtrack and core traversal mechanics were removed, you might actually have one of the most compact yet focused experiences of recent times. As it is now though? It’s just fine. It’ll always be I suppose.

As the colourblind customer said to the wallpaper vendor : What the hell is this tone?!

Here’s a question literally nobody would ever ask, why did I even want to play A Link to the Past? This right here is the answer. Pure randomizer goodness baby, except when the seed I played was total trash. Seriously, who expects me to do suitless Maridia to get to Mama Turtle without hi-jump because fuck you, the answer is me and I did it just to prove myself and I feel SO damn good about finishing that seed. I’m just that amazing at Super Metroid.
I seriously love randomizers. Over the past couple months I’ve been playing tons of Super Metroid randos, solo and multiworld. SMZ3 always interested me and thanks to a certain friend invading my home, I finally forced myself to play A Link to the Past. Good game on its own, but I think it shines most in randomizer, especially when paired here with Super Metroid. It deepens both games immensely, not just because items from Super Metroid can be in ALTTP and vice versa, but also due to the routing opportunities it creates. Sometimes to get to where you want to go in Super Metroid, it can be faster to go through ALTTP for example. Or the fact that you can get to Misery Mire through Lower Norfair, negating the need for the Flute or the Titan’s Mitts. This is a huge rec if you’re at all experienced with both of these games, turning both on their head and giving a really fresh experience both randos alone might not provide.
Rest of this is a sort of diary on how my first seed of this went, so if you’re uninterested you can stop right here!
For reference, my settings were hard logic for Super Metroid, sword and morph anywhere, and 4 crystals needed to open Ganon’s Tower. If you’re a Super Metroid veteran like I am, these are the best settings for you and might even give you a nice challenge as it did me! Also, definitely use a tracker. A link to the past is insanely difficult to deal with without one.
The game always starts in super metroid, and I really didn’t get much there, so off it was to ALTTP. And so began an hour and a half long hunt for Morph, which I found at the buried flute spot, one of the last places I could have checked. Past this dogshit start (as my friend in call with me at the time called it), it was pretty smooth sailing for a bit. That was until I ran out of checks to do in both Super Metroid and ALTTP, or so I thought. My only choice was one I hadn’t considered, being Maridia, suitless and hi-jumpless. And so began my hour of pain, trying to get to Mama Turtle while freezing crabs and fish and doing precise springball double jumps to climb to the top of Main Street. Once I got there, grabbing the Magic Mirror was trivial. What wasn’t trivial, however, was the exit from mama turtle. Only having 75 health and no gravity suit, any hit would kill me, and considering plasma was behind the Master Sword check (hilarious by the way), I had no ability to kill the pink pirates. Needless to say, I died. A lot. Spending so long trying different jumps to get out of the literal hole I was stuck in. Finally, I escaped the hole and at that point, I was basically in go mode. All I had to do was find a couple more items, which all happened to be easily accessible behind the Magic Mirror. Finding Gravity Suit was basically the last big hurdle to get over, and it was found quite easily once I had Speed Booster from King’s Tomb in ALTTP. I finished Super Metroid first, and then finished ALTTP. I’m seriously proud of myself for pulling through that suitless maridia bullshit, I didn’t know I had that level of skill at SM, and being able to realize that was honestly great, and I felt really accomplished when I finished the seed after like. 8 hours. Here are my results if you're curious!

Not too long ago, I was asked by a friend to describe the appeal of Gravity Rush, and it took me a while to come up with an answer. Was it a twist on the classic open-world sandbox? A physics-defying superhero simulator? Both of these descriptions are reasonable to some extent, but neither felt like a perfect characterization of what kept me hooked to my favorite Sony series exclusive. Then a few days later, I stumbled upon this list, and BeachEpisode’s description caught my eye: a platformer where you “tumble through the world with an elegance of a Ghibli movie.”
Just like that, it clicked. In the same way that VVVVVV is a deconstruction of the traditional 2D platformer, Gravity Rush to me feels like the natural progression of deconstructing the open-level 3D platformer. There’s still jumping between floating platforms of course, but the jumping is deemphasized. Instead, since larger objects serving as buoys don’t have pulls towards the center of gravity, it’s up to you to shift the flow of gravity as necessary to prevent yourself from “falling off" and maintain control. Therefore, every surface becomes a possible platform, limited only by your access to said surface and your gravity energy gauge.
Since you aren’t necessarily jumping between platforms, it may be easier to characterize movement in Gravity Rush between two modes: grounded running/sliding, and soaring through the air between grounded movement. With the gravity slide, the protagonist Kat can make tight turns while also easily sliding up surfaces to maintain momentum without needing to jump and re-shift. Meanwhile, aerial movement can be thought more simply as “falling with style” (which explains why Kat’s float is less of a dive without boosting with X and closer to a derpy freefall), but is surprisingly tight; with the ability to slightly adjust your falling orientation with the left joystick, and the ability to either slowly rotate the camera with controller gyro controls or more quickly with the right joystick, the seemingly simple “flying” provides a fairly strong degree of character control. It never feels too disorienting either, because Kat’s hair will always point towards the directed flow of gravity when floating in place, and the camera will naturally rotate back towards “right-side up” from tapping R1 to stop/shift gravity (or you can tap R3 at any time to immediately snap to that perspective). As such, the real challenge is optimizing movement by juggling the two different modes to maintain momentum while never completely depleting the energy gauge. Since gravity sliding uses less energy and spending enough time not shifting gravity (including simple grounded running/waiting or natural freefall) will refresh the gauge, figuring out exactly when to insert these moments in-between gravity shifting traversal alongside collecting blue gravity tokens becomes key to efficiently getting from point A to point B. It’s a deceptively simple yet realized set of controls that can feel overwhelming at first but becomes this thing of beauty once mastered; some might call it less cool since you’re really just flail-falling about, but as an old teacher of mine once asked, isn’t flying really just missing the ground over and over again?
It's for this reason that it becomes quite frustrating that Gravity Rush 2 seems almost afraid to utilize its greatest strength during certain grounded side-missions and a few segments of main story missions. The most obvious culprits here are the forced stealth segments that will immediately catch you upon floating upwards and getting spotted by guards. It unfortunately feels rather counter-intuitive that a game emphasizing freedom of control has a few segments here and there that artificially limit your movement options. There are also quite a few grounded missions that require you to mash the square button to repeatedly talk to NPCs in hopes that they’ll point you to the right direction; definitely not great, but they’re at least over quickly enough and do end up facilitating movement around the city once you’ve got your necessary info to proceed. The absolute worst mission in my opinion however, has to be “Behind the Scenes I,” which has you running through the city on foot while dodging enthusiastic fans; NPC spawns are randomly generated, which means there’s a degree of luck getting a clear enough path and not too many NPCs to where they can’t be easily avoided or jumped over/around. I respect Team Gravity’s ambition in trying to diversify their missions and definitely appreciate the comedy behind the concept, but even I thought this one stuck out like a sore thumb.
While we’re on the topic of complaints, the other glaring complaint I often hear regarding Gravity Rush 2 is that the game feels a bit more grindy than the original title. You’re not likely to pick up many precious gems during most story missions and side missions, so most of your stock is going to come from getting gold medals in challenges and thoroughly exploring the hub areas to snag all the collectibles. Even then, you most likely won’t have enough to thoroughly upgrade all of the combat systems, which is where mining missions come in. Once unlocked, Kat can take a boat to a gravity storm mine and destroy green ore for precious gems. This process can take a while considering that environments are fairly spacious and empty, and it’s not particularly interesting repeating the same mines over and over for those final purchases. To be fair, mining missions do at least provide gravity storms that will occasionally spawn in different bosses for Kat to fight, and can also snag you talismans to augment your abilities and boost certain aspects of combat and movement. As a side note, if you really care about the trophy and don’t care much about the above, it is possible to replay old missions instead to at least get this grind out of the way.
Now, having gotten my major reservations out of the way… I actually like this way more than Gravity Rush Remastered.
The first main reason that comes to mind is that combat definitely has a lot more meat on the bone. In the original Gravity Rush, the flying kick was king; just aim and fire until everything in your path was gone, and if you miss, just keep readjusting and firing until you win anyways. Meanwhile, the sequel significantly buffs your other attack options to where combat no longer feels linearized through abusing the flying kick. Gravity sliding is much easier to implement during combat, not only due to the tighter controls but also due to the addition of a sliding dodge. Stasis Field (telekinesis to grab and throw objects) has also been buffed with a larger range than before, can be used without any temporary immobilization, and allows you to pick up enemies outright to chuck at other foes. You can also hold down the circle button when throwing to produce a piercing projectile at the expense of some of the SP gauge. Finally, Stasis Field can also be used defensively to block physical and energy-based projectiles with the proper upgrades. To tie this all together, the unlockable/farmable talismans really do make a difference in providing that extra kick to your basic abilities (ex: by dealing more damage with attacks, increasing the lock-on range of the gravity kick, decreasing the amount of gravity energy used, etc), and can later be recycled or merged for even more potent combinations of boosts.
The real crux behind the deeper combat, however, is due to the presence of additional Gravity Styles which drastically alter Kat’s abilities. For instance, Lunar Style sacrifices power in exchange for more manueverability. The wormhole kick in particular lets you zoom in on enemies (which tackles the issue I had in the original, of faster flying enemies slightly moving out of the way and causing my kick to miss entirely) and can be used to teleport across the stage. Additionally, Projectiles fired with Lunar Style create lingering hitboxes once they hit their target, which can stun-lock individual enemies and knock off armor. Jupiter Style, on the other hand, slows down Kat’s standard grounded movement but in return, adds a lot more weight to Kat’s grounded combo attacks and allows you to charge up a kick that not only deals more damage, but can also create a shockwave upon impact that can eviscerate nearby foes for better crowd control. Similarly, you can charge and fire larger projectiles in Jupiter Style to instantly wipe out bulkier enemies. These two styles also affect Kat’s traversal options. Lunar will give you access to a quick long and low rocket Jump and a charged spring Jump for height, both of which can be chained off walls to maintain momentum. Meanwhile, Jupiter Style buffs Kat’s gravity slide, by not only increasing the base speed, but also granting Kat superarmor with the relevant final upgrade while allowing Kat to quickly slide-tackle enemies. As such, switching between the different styles (including the basic Normal style) grants Gravity Rush 2’s combat a bevy of different approaches to better handle varied mobs while also adding additional depth to Kat’s movement in-between.
The next improvement surprised me; believe it or not, despite my earlier complaints towards some of the missions, I actually do think that missions on the whole have also been improved. I’ve been a bit harsh so far regarding the missions that I don’t like, but the truth is that most of these feel relatively inoffensive or at the very least, not very intrusive. Stealth missions are quickly bypassed by running past enemies, taking them out one by one, or walking on walls outside of enemy vision. Mining missions, as brought up earlier, can be mostly ignored if you’re willing to grind the aforementioned old story missions for upgrades instead (and in fact, if you don’t care about the trophy or maxing out every single stat, you’ll get enough gems and talismans for the crucial abilities from other side/main missions anyways with little detriment towards movement/combat). It also helps that upgrades to the gravity gauge and health bar have been decoupled from the gems system altogether, and will naturally be augmented from completing story and side missions (as opposed to the original, which only increased the upgrade capacity cap for completing missions), thus providing a stronger incentive to tackle all the game’s sprawling content while lessening the need to gem grind. Granted, I still can’t defend Behind the Scenes I given how many times I had to restart due to bad RNG, but it’s more of an anomaly amongst better arcadey challenges that are otherwise great at testing your combat and movement optimization.
Having said that, there are some great side missions in Gravity Rush 2 that more than make up for the duller moments. One fan-favorite is the cake delivery mission, where Kat has to deliver fragile packages with Lunar Style using plenty of spring and rocket jumps to maneuver around skyscrapers, all the while dealing with recipients begging her for “the good stuff” and dodging attacks from your voracious best friend Raven. My absolute favorite though, has to be the first movie star mission, where a non-powered Kat must play the role of Battle Nurse through the filming of various scenes; the irony of a super-powered protagonist acting as a stunt double for a superhero film without her gravity powers definitely does not escape me. Not every side mission hits of course, but the vast majority of them grant you interesting avenues to exploit Kat’s various movement and combat abilities in a different fashion, and it’s still absolutely heartwarming and adorable to see Kat stumble and bumble her way through all these absurd scenarios while helping so many others along the way; in that sense, Gravity Rush’s side missions actually remind me a ton of my recent playthrough of Yakuza 0 and all the wild sub-stories that it had to offer.
Perhaps that’s the best way to explain my love of this franchise, as I could honestly nitpick the game all day. Gravity Rush 2 suffers from a similar issue to its predecessor in that the FOV feels a bit too constrained at times, which becomes particularly noticeable when you crash into a wall and the camera gets uncomfortably close during areas with tight corridors. Special moves are a strange combination of busted and janky; the Spiraling Claw does tons of damage between enemy clusters but often gets you stuck on walls, the Gravity Typhoon is just a quickfire projectile chuck that is often detrimental in the long-run since it strips the environment of possible projectiles for Stasis Field, and both are essentially rendered obsolete by the Micro Black Hole, which will outright destroy any enemies in Kat’s vicinity. Finally, I have some problems with the pacing here and there, particularly in how the beginning is rather sluggish (without many opportunities to really abuse your gravity shifting powers) while the endgame is quite rapid-fire and blows through multiple story chapters in the course of a couple hours.
Despite all of that, I absolutely adore this game. I have to admit that I don’t really mind that most of the missions are just some combination of flying around and beating up enemies, because Team Gravity does a much better job disguising all this by slightly varying your specific tasks during missions to better facilitate the satisfying bread-and-butter movement + combat without levels feeling too rote. It helps that the core game-feel is greatly accentuated with the little touches like how the wind rumbles around you while boosting, or how falling and landing from great distances creates an earth-shattering boom that stuns you temporarily unless you land and roll with R2. So much of the world feels like it was constructed with such love and care to the point where I’m willing to overlook much of the jank and many of the dips. The environmental storytelling of all the various locales, the little bits of chaos that ensue as casualties of Kat’s gravity powers (from accidentally launching NPCs about to destroying parts of the environment from shifting and landing all over the place), the little responses here and there from other civilians when Kat makes gestures at them… there’s so many details that ultimately bring everything together. I especially appreciate being able to revisit Hekseville again from the original Gravity Rush; it was quite nostalgic catching up with all the familiar locations and characters while understanding how new events played a role into shaping subtle differences. Sure, the story takes so many twists and turns that at times you wonder if anything’s ever played straight in the first place, but there’s this undercurrent of sincerity that keeps you invested throughout the game’s entirety. The final chapter after the fake credits was the perfect way to tie this all up, resolving a lot of the resounding questions left after the ending of the original Gravity Rush while giving Kat & friends the opportunity they needed to go out with an emotional climax.
At the end of the day, there is simply nothing like the Gravity Rush series. No game before or after has ever felt this exhilarating to me, zooming around these anachronistic floating isles and kicking major ass against these shadowy creatures while having fun with friends made along the way. Even despite the missing online functionality, the core solo experience feels just that memorable to me. It’s rare that a game fills me with the same sheer sense of wonder and discovery since the first time I ever completed Okami, nonetheless while considering all the various imperfections involved. Perhaps this game is the perfect encapsulation of a Japan Studio title: an innovative spin on a classic genre that pushed its concepts to their very limits while effortlessly exuding charm. In spite of all the lack of polish here and there, Gravity Rush 2 manages to stay true to itself, and most importantly, never forgets what makes games so much fun in the first place. I’ll forever be saddened at the loss of my favorite Sony developer, because this game deserved so much more. Nevertheless, as long as red apples keep falling from the sky, the seed of hope will find a way to keep hitting us somehow.

Played for Game of The Week 09/05-16/05/2023
The Bird Museum is an interesting experiment. Artist and Musician Louie Zong[1] made a call on a twitter post for "BAD CROWDSOURCED BIRD ART"[2]. Overwhelmed by how many entries were submitted a cutoff point was set that same day to limit the amount of bird pictures[3], which ended up being over 1000[4].
As the Kotaku Article points out, virtual museums are nothing new[5], nor are crowdsourced ones at that. The article mentions the Crows Crows Crows community museum (though this is not bird themed, its just the name of the dev which made the Dr Langeskov game). Which I also played cause its not as if the Bird Museum is particularly long. Although I suppose it depends on personal bird art satisfaction.
Essentially the selection of paintings is randomized to about 50 from the 1000 total, you can reset the museum at any point to reshuffle the selection of paintings but not the 3D modelled statues[5]. It strikes a nice balance in curation between the designer and the random number generator. I suppose it means that if you really truly wanted to "complete" the Bird Museum it would take a while because there is no mechanism to prevent repeats (nor do i think it should, I think the experimental, random nature of the selection is entirely appropriate and intentional) and in the 3 resets I did I see a couple of duplicates.
If there is something to criticise I would say the postprocessing effects are both ugly and against the whole purpose of displaying the crowsourced art, filtered by awful visual filters. Another thing I sort of appreciate but also dislike is the sprint function. I was walking around with a slow speed I thought was deliberate to emulating how one explores physical museums but no, you press shift and get to zoom along. I suppose we need not necessarily be shackled to the limitations of the real world but personally I thought the slow walking speed worked, the museum is small anyways. I should mention the game is free but invites us to donate some money to the audubon charity.
Crows Crows Crows Community museum starts us off opening our eyes in a vast empty-ish space with the titular museum behind you, sitting as a giant rectangular block with the title written on it. Its rather far away and before long you close your eyes and are teleported to it. Its much more elaborate than the bird museum and honestly resembles a real life gallery/museum. Now, I might be off base here, but I think CCCCM is supposed to be a satire of museums? I think Id like for others to play it but a few things, namely the plaque with the history of the museum and a few other things tipped me off to this idea; although if its the case its kind of falling into the trap of becoming the very thing its parodying.
I will say CCCCM is worth playing just for the method of quitting the program. I got a good laugh out of it. And the Bird Museum is worth a look also, i saw a fair few highlights in my brief time playing it.

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