229 reviews liked by Clearin

This review contains spoilers

The only game ever in which the prerendered cutscenes look way worse than everything else. The difficulty curve is a straight line until you're 80 hours in, then it jumps up 10 feet, becoming somewhat challenging, until the last 3 or 4 encounters where it jumps up again and becomes very challenging(in a good way, mostly). Silent/self-insert protagonist at its worst, passively watches as everything goes on around him despite the story telling us he's the more important character ever it's only really true when you get a special glowing hand during cutscenes. This is massively made worse in the 3rd act post time-travel, where at times you literally have a flashback of seeing how things are about to go down and you don't say a thing? It's not like the protagonist is mute in-universe either, he's clearly shown to be able to communicate...
Some instances of truly weird(read: bad) game design, like letting you farm coins in the monster casino only to take them all away at the end of that scene or taking away a ton of levels from your party after time travel(granted they do give you those back so that's only a half-complaint).

And yet, despite all that... It's so much goddamn fun. Toriyama's artstyle and designs never disappoint. The combat is about as fun as you can have it in a traditional turn based rpg(no doubt in large part due to the huge number of QoL upgrades in the Definitive Edition). The story, basic and cliche as it is and with the major flaw regarding the protagonist I mentioned before, feels like a cozy bedtime story you'd be read before bed as a kid, perhaps because of those elements and not in spite of them.
Dragon Quest XI is a game made up of all the things I have heard a million times before, and mostly hate to hear. "It's simple, but that's what makes it good!", "It gets better 20 hours in!", "It's so much better than the sum of its parts!". This time, they're all true.

It's hard to come up with words to describe how good Neo World Ends With You is.
It's stylish, it's unique, it takes risks both in gameplay decisions(controlling 6 characters at once is actually crazy) and in the story(time travel powers tend to be a red flag if you like your characters to be rational) and it nails it every single time. I hadn't been so engrossed in a JRPG, or even a game in general, since Persona 5 Royal.

Is it a good game? No, not really. The controls are clunky, the camera even more so. The entire affair is emblematic of the shift to 3D and the effect it would have on quality licensed games, the skillset needed to make them becoming more specialized and the rough edges far more easily seen.

But quality is the word here, because there's clearly effort in play. Though fumbling, the game is certainly creative, packed with references and clever ideas that the execution simply cannot keep pace with. The victory lap at the end, playing as a triumphant Reptar destroying the city with colorful news commentary in the background, is evidence enough that someone working on this genuinely cared.



I noticed a weird bug where the ball went through the paddles sometimes, the devs really should fix that on the next patch...

There's something so cosmically hilarious in the fact the CEO of Atari saw what would become one of the most influential piece of tech to ever be made as a ''fucking piece of trash'', and the main developer, Allan Alcorn, thought of it just as a side project where he did some things haphazardly to make his bosses weird-ass demands happy. It grounds the legend around Pong while being even more inspiring un a way.

It wasn't the first arcade machine, it wasn't the most creative thing you could do with the tech even back then, but damn if those beeps and boops aren't charming as hell and if playing alone isn't some of the most oddly interesting fun you could have with a game like this, even if sometimes hitting the ball when it respawns is even harder than when another player hits it back...

I could go on about Pong for 4000 words... except actually no, I couldn't; it's Pong, and beyond its unbelievably important historical value and rich history, it's still a game, and even more than half a century later, it still holds up as one.

A legacy that other games from back then and soon after do share, but one still worth praising nonetheless...

This is a tough game to formulate my thoughts on because I don't have much to contrast it with. The only other games in the series I have substantial experience with are Super and 2, and this feels very in the middle between the former's universal lameness and the laters hilarious, chaotic, fun.

I played through all the maps and I think overall there are plenty of noteworthy positives amidst an overall blandness and confusion that's omnipresent throughout the game.

Starting with the negatives, I think everyone agrees that all the boards are disappointing, both visually and layout wise. I think on every map there is an opportunity to get stuck in a small loop and have to get lucky to get out, there are a lot of coin toss moments that decide which sections of the boards you can go to, and independent of the luck-based elements I feel like it just takes a long time to maneuver to different sides of the map. Every Mario Party board in the series forces you to go in a certain direction down each path, but the identical metallic paths on every board in this game with their perfect 90 degree turns make it feel more arbitrary and time consuming which directions around the boards you can go.

The production values certainly aren't great. While they definitely modernized the look of the characters, and the models and textures are objectively higher quality with the jump to the Gamecube, I've come to love the fugly, puppeteer-esque look of the N64 graphics and the goofiness and personality it brought to Mario Party. And the music is... there I guess.

And lastly the items are kinda lame. There's not much that's interesting or outside of the series staples. The mini and mega mushroom gimmicks are fine, but there are too many paths and minigames locked behind mini mushroom paths, and it's weird how they are locked to dice rolls instead of something like skeleton keys.

But on the positive side, there's a decent selection of minigames. There are definitely quite a few groaners, but even some of the rage inducing ones like Order Up and Stamp Out lead to a lot of the classic chaotic fun of yelling at your friends. SOME are bangers though: Dungeon Duos, Mr. Blizzard's Brigade, Hop or Pop, Right Oar Left, Chain Chomp Fever, and the BEST Mario Party minigame ever: BOOKSQUIRM!!! A game of Mario Party is not complete without Booksquirm!!!

I had a lot of laughs and good memories with my friends playing through this, it's definitely a decent baseline for Mario Party. But I'm also happy to move on to hopefully more consistently fun games in the series.

Pokémon Chess is an unbalanced mess... it really feels like a true official competitive experience, only instead of Landorus Therian and Urshifus, you get ice Queens!

I really do enjoy some of its ideas: I'm always up to a more chaotic reinterpretation of a game like chess, and changes like the type effectiveness and the complete erasure of the concept of check do transform it into a far more aggressive game in a good way. In here is doing or you don't, except that even if you do it, the game may say ''y'know? fuck you in particular!''.

If you ask, I'm not really saying it from experience, 'cause for some reason this game adores me. It has helped me to every single opportunity and saved me from every single fuck up, and you know, I appreciate the help, but you gotta let go, Pokémon Chess, it's not you, it's... no wait it really is you.

I know that Pokémon and RNG are intrinsically related, but the way the newly introduced luck messes with the base balance of chess completely ruins it. Sure, it's fun to get a critical hit and blast through your opponent the first time, but after a while it really sets in how fishing for those moments ruins the strategizing potential of the game and how the possibility of missing seems specifically added to either create an incredibly annoying mechanic or make le funny internet moments. Pokémon is, even at its most questionable, entirely designed around RNG, chess isn’t. And not enough changes have been made to accommodate such an inclusion.

It’s a gimmick that gets old fast but can be fun with friends, which is about what I expected it to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a little novelty and very little else, it really is what says on the packaging.

Having said that tho, the fact the low HP music from B&W plays when you are in ‘’check’’ is a damn good detail, that caught me off guard and was pretty cool, +5 points for that alone!

I thought that getting into this series with 4 would make the fixed camera angle games seem obtuse and difficult to get into, but I'm pleasantly surprised to say that this game is probably even better than 4! The oppressive mood and atmosphere is overwhelming, it's genuinely scary and I feel so tense when playing, and peeling away at the INCREDIBLY designed mansion through Metroidvania-esque progression is so satisfying. Immaculately designed game, I absolutely adored it and can't wait to play the original version of 2 next.

In the span of 20 days, I’ve killed Dracula like 3 times now, I don’t know why so many games have an obsession with him but I’m starting to pity the poor bastard, like, he only shows up in one puzzle and his purpose is to perish, now that’s a true tragedy…

During its initial release, a portion of the discussion around Storyteller revolved around how it really wasn’t what it seemed at first; from promotional material and even its descriptions, you’d be led to believe this is a game about creating stories, using the characters and options available to form your own visual narrative, an idea that even the game’s own opening text seems to be pointing towards, when in reality this is pretty much a puzzle game. In each of the levels you get a set of characters and scenarios and from there you need to reach a specific result, and for many this prospect was less enticing than that supposed original ‘’go wild and crazy with your imagination’’ idea, but I believe that throwing Storyteller to the side simply because it isn’t something that ‘’sounds cool’’ is silly at best, especially when what it really is still sounds incredibly promising.

Building up a narrative and creating a story to reach a specific ending is a fantastic concept, an idea so fascinating that can lead to so many cool experiments, and gamifying the act of forming a world, giving life to a set of characters with a finale in mind is far from being an idea always bound to backfire, it’s a genius one with a super strong premise… one that Storyteller fails to realize.

Being simple is a good thing, and then there’s being simplistic; each of the puzzles feel… barebones is the word I want to say, but I’m not entirely sure it’s the right one; no challenge is designed badly or unclear, but they also aren’t great. I’ll admit I definitively wasn’t a having a bad with the experience, but I also wasn’t feeling particularly excited or even just really that entertained, it’s a very ‘’going through the motions’’ kind of game, where none of the puzzles are particularly challenging and few have those moments where the pieces fall into place and you feel like a genius. As such it could be seeing as a cozy or pick-up-and-play style of game, but considering just how short it is and how little it attempts in that time to actually make it a super relaxing or enjoyable experience, I find it hard to call it one. You just do puzzles until its over… and without ever fully tapping into true ‘’imagination’’ territory.

It's hard to feel as a storyteller when there’s so little space of possibilities; as I said the fact there’s always one ending for each of the puzzles doesn’t bother me, but that the characters have a set of behaviors that you cannot change and that there’s basically only a single way to achieve said ending does. At first it’s fun to learn how each of the characters behave, but after a while it quickly turns into an automatized experience, where you see your objective and think ‘’oh yeah, I know which character has to do each thing’’ which might sound good, but in practice feels like placing pieces of the same puzzle over and over, sometimes rearranged, sometimes with a different set of pieces. The secondary objectives that some of the levels have as well as the stamps and the Devil re-tales are an interesting spin for sure, and especially towards the end this concept shows its highest potential, but it just not involving nor realized enough to be memorable or that fun.
The game doesn’t tell stories, just broken scenarios, and you aren’t tasked with forging them, just to fix the… I don’t know if that even makes sense, but what I’m getting at is that Storyteller, even at its best, doesn’t seem to strive for much despite shooting pretty damn high, and I’m left with the sensation that many other puzzle game accomplish the idea of creating your own path or solution much more consistently than the game about creating tales.

The game isn’t a incredibly ended open experience with player experience at its focus, nor does it want to be and nor it should be judged as such, but what it is is a overly simple, limited and average puzzle game that’s only somewhat enjoyable. It may not be something that it isn’t, but it also is not even close at being a true accomplishment of what it aspires to be, and that’s much, much more tragic than the former option…

Once again keeping the ‘’trying to get everything in a Metroid game but then leaving two or three missile tanks behind because I can’t be bothered’’ tradition going, even in a game so different such as Metroid II, it’s heartwarming to see that some things never change, like extremely hidden collectables!

The original Metroid is, even to this day, a pretty big deal, not only because it spawned a series that in spite of admittedly quite noticeable lows —looking at the general direction of a certain Wii game whose name shall not accurse this review— has given some of the most beloved and impactful games of… well, of the entire history of the medium, but it also catapulted its entire world design style to genre-defining status, so much so that half of its name its derived from this series. Metroid may not have been the first one to pull it off, not by a long-shot, but it was the first game to pull off the ‘’Platform-Adventure’’ idea in such a well-designed, fun, and awe-inspiring way; Metroid crafted an entire world in a console that could barely run bigger than normal sprites, let alone to allow the luxury of having backgrounds, and year the planet of Zebes and its pirate infested caverns, even on its first iteration, feel alive, distinct and brimming with secrets and upgrades, by all accounts it’s a marvel, both technically and progression wise.

Metroid 2: Return of Samus not only had to follow up in what the original had done, but also do it in a console with even weaker overall hardware with a screen that couldn’t allow more than a few shades of green, and it what other conditions could this team produce anything but such a incredibly interesting and, in a ton of ways, unique game.

Metroid 2’s own nature revolves around the system is on, yes, but at the same time I think its fitting that such a different adventure is presented in such a different way; whereas Zebes felt mechanized, deeply corrupted by the pirate influence, each room calculated in such a binary way for the sake of stopping intruders and with the last bastions of nature being few and far between, the caves and passages of SR388 feel the complete opposite; no empire nor company has set afoot in these lands for a very long time, this is a land only taken by wildlife and nature, and even in a black and white world, it feels exactly like that. Not every single being in this game is out to kill you, in fact most enemies don’t have direct attacks, with the more aggressive fiends (aside of the Metroids) being the old abandoned machines, which I don’t know if there was any intent behind that, but it seems like a genius purposeful move. The landscapes of SR388 feel wild, untamed, each not existing not as an alien-made space, but as a true bastion of wildlife; rock passage-ways that reach the depths of the planter inhabited by fish that walk on land and strange mole creatures, acid lakes that get emptied by the quakes of a furious Metroid Queen after the killing of their spawns, strange bubble towers that fill the rooms and the most forgotten mast of the planet, and ancient abandoned structures overrun by what the Chozo left behind and animals seeking shelter; this is all on a fucking Game Boy ant it feels natural, it feels like a real world that was left behind, one that doesn’t follow the conventions of the pirate bases of old.

There are still some missile doors here and there, but most of the obstacles you face are not left on purpose, they are a byproduct of the decay in structure and bloom in life that the planet has seen, and so doors stop being that common of a way to stop your progress and turn into a signal of were a new upgrade is located, and now the powerups you’ll use the most to proceed will be things like the morph ball jump, the spiderball and the super jump. But even with these systems still at play, I’d be hard-pressed to call this a ‘’Metroidvania’’, Return of Samus reminds me much more of a divided by areas open world, since your advancement is only delimited by if you have killed the current set of Metroid or not, a change that serves a design and even narrative purpose; Samus’ objective isn’t to stop a big final menace, she’s here to exterminate every single one of the remaining bio-weapons that put the galaxy at jeopardy in the first game, and there’s a long list to go through.

Samus starts the game much more armed than in the first iteration, with the morph ball already on toe and with some missiles right out the gate, and the game overall seems to be far more centered on combat than it ever was; every single ability, even the previously mentioned ones, serve a ton in the fighting and evading process, even the beams are now just a change a change of weapon rather than actual tools, and with the game’s field of vision being much more closer to the character and the sprites being far more detailed than ever, there’s clearly a deliberate attempt to encourage fighting even when there’s no real moment in which you are trapped with a enemy; with every Metroid, even the final boss, there’s always the option to run, which not only helps if you ever get overwhelmed (which is pretty easy considering how aggressive your main enemies are), there’s always the opportunity to retreat and revaluate your options; you are fighting against terrible weapons after all… even tho now they feel more than that.

The Metroid go for just really scary bio-arms to actually terrifying animals, we get to see their evolution, their grow process, how they change and adapt, evolving from their known forms and reaching the enormous sizes of the Omega variant. They are threatening beings, not only because they can only be damaged by your most powerful tools, but also because the way they presented; the little animation that plays on some of them as you witness their evolution, the music changing to their theme as they charge against you, how memorable some of them, like your first encounter with an Alpha Metroid or battling a Gamma Metroid in a sand tunnel. This encounters don’t feel epic or grand, they are grounded and tense, this is not a space epic anymore, it’s a hunt that only ends after your list marks the number 0 and the Metroid Queen falls, and only then, after the adventure is over, no countdown for the explosion starts, it’s just a last stroll, accompanied by the baby, and you cannot get the thought out of you head that maybe what you were hunting were actual animals and no simple killing machines, you didn’t really save the galaxy, you just turned a massacre into routine.

Metroid 2 is unlike any other Metroid game, and not only because of the way it plays or its presented, but also because of how it incredibly handles its world, how it’s done in such a perfect way that traversing it stops being an act of adventuring and more of a slow voyage and contemplation, which is something I can’t say expected to feel about Metroid but on Game Boy. However, this attempt at bringing what can be done on this console to new heights and shattering its own conventions comes at pretty clear prices; even if I can’t stop gushing about how the planet is designed, the way SR388 is designed clearly suffers from WhereTheFuckDoIGo-itis, not only you don’t have a map, the new paths that open are all over the place and aren’t clear at all at first, meaning that unless you really know where to go, prepare to go around in circles for a while until you find something you believe wasn’t there in the first place, which it isn’t helped about the small little problem that is copy-pasted rooms: this was excusable in the original, but in a game with no color and filled with the same rocks and pebbles it turns into a huge problem for finding out where you exactly are.

The save points are also a huge hiccup; if you are going to do a game with few places to save, fine, but one thing is to that and other to make them feel like they are placed unevenly, with huge chucks without any place to save and others with two extremely close to each other, and on that note, while the health and missile refills are incredible additions, I wished they were more common, there are far less infinite enemy respawning tubes this time around so I wish a way to gain health back was given after every major encounter or at least most of them.

The Metroid battle themselves are extremely simple yet overbearing in the worst way and I think there’s an overabundance of Alpha and Gamma variants which get old real quick, the beams are handled in a way that even if it’s the best thing they could have done I just wish they where done differently and didn’t act as direct replacements of each other, the music for the most part isn’t that memorable (even if the Queen Metroid theme and Surface of SR388 are incredible), going back to some places only to return to you where before can be brutal… It has its moments and upgrading and certain battles was still enjoyable, but Metroid II is a case of a game I love everything about except for actually playing it, but when some of its problems come because of its own conditions and even the positives, I cannot be mad for too long.

Metroid II was the return of Samus in a brand new way, a return that allowed for experimentation, that brought back a spirit of wonder and ingenious I didn’t think possible considering the circumstances; I could say many more things about Metroid II that irk me the wrong way, but I don’t think it’s fair to focus on that when it managed to do something so impossibly difficult. This isn’t my favorite Game Boy game, not by a long shot, but it’s the most fascinating and daring, and if that itself doesn’t have value, I don’t know what does.

The perfect simulator of what it’s like to have a pet: they are either asleep or awake, and if it’s the latter you must feed them at every moment and what they ask or prepare to feel their wrath. Not even the likes of Nintendogs dared to replicate the experience so closely.

Back during the first years of the 2010’s, I was really into mobile gaming, like, REALLY into it. Name any game you can think that was big on mobile and tablets during those years and I most likely played it, and hell, I played some stuff I’m not even sure what it was! Plants vs Zombies, Pou, Jetpack Joyride, Zombie Tsunami, Candy Crush, Subway Surfers, Clash of Clans, Carnivores Dinosaur Hunter HD; these are only a couple that quickly come to mind in a sea of games and memories, and believe me, there was a ton of crap in that accursed sea, but I did have my fun with a couple of them and there are even some I still consider to be really well made experiences for what they are. However, it’s a market that was destined to sour on me; to tell the story of how the mobile gaming scene evolved would take at least another 4 paragraphs, so to make it short and personal, my enjoyment of the more short and sporadic gameplay sessions diminished as most games gravitated towards the ‘’free-to-play’’ yet aggressively monetized sphere; I just do not enjoy experiences that require either small burst of monetary investment or that ask patience over small but daily sessions across months or even years, which, come to think of it, may explain also my immediate aversion to life-service games and gachas when those began to gain popularity and a spot on the scene over the recent years.

So yeah, safe from a few tries to Clash Royale back when it released and of course the massive explosion that was Pokémon Go, I never really dabbled into anything smartphone related since, and it probably it would have stayed like that if it weren’t because of my stubbornness; it has been a long ass time since 2016, even if my brain cannot process it yet, and with that passage of time things change, and even if the ‘’free-to-play’’ model is the one to go for many releases to this day, things have change over on the App Store: quite interesting and surprisingly functional ports, really interesting experiences designed for the touch-screen, even companies creating subscriptions that include many more in-depth experiences that don’t require micro-transactions. I’ve been well aware of those changes, and I’ve seen multiple games that actually interest me, but I was still… reluctant to return to that space, to say the list. But wouldn’t you know, one of the companies that does have a compendium of games on the Play Store is Netflix!: I have a Netflix subscription, I have a phone, and after looking at the surprisingly meaty and interesting selection of games, I made my decision…

‘’Fuck it we ball.’’

It’s still pretty surprising that I decided to start with Poinpy tho, it comes from Downwell’s developer, which I do not think is a bad game or anything, but it never clicked with me, I tried it like… three or four times doing multiple runs on each, but it never ended up grabbing me, and this one looked extremely similar to that game’s idea except… you go up instead, I guess. Plus, as I said, Netflix’s catalogue is surprisingly more interesting than I ever expected, so it’s not like I had a shortage of options or anything… I simply saw the game, saw it was a mbile exclusive which seemed like a good way to start my return, it looked pretty nice and so, I gave it a try.

And another one.

And then another one.

And after that yet another one.

And then I kept playing. And playing.

And then I did the puzzles.

And here I am now, 7 hours later. I beat it.

And I couldn’t be happier with my pick.

Poinpy is one of those experiences that is completely designed for mobile, not only because it controls wonderfully with the touch screen, but also because everything about works perfectly both as an experience to put hours on end or to pick up from time to time, and not only that, it’s not that it’s good, it’s good. Of course my goblin brain wouldn’t stop thinking about and so I played it pretty much non-stop, but I can easily see this as a game that many could enjoy by playing a round or two a day. It’s tailor-made for what it’s in, but so are practically all the major phone-releases, that’s not what makes Poinpy special, what makes it so it that it breaks from so many other conventions.

There’s a very clear objective: reach the top, traverse the levels, feed the beast, don’t perish while you do it. Your final goal is always in sight, but it’s not achievable at first; your progress is marked by how well you do it in each of the runs, hoy many exp you can get so you can gain levels and upgrades, maybe collecting golden seeds and getting perks that help you greatly in future runs. Your evolution is steady and immediate, you must earn it, but its always visible, and that’s what kept me coming back, the idea of getting better at the stuff I was doing, both intrinsically and extrinsically, getting even more upgrades and crushing it even more at the next feeding session… well, that and the fact the gameplay fucking rules.

Poinpy doesn’t play with momentary gratification, this isn’t a game about bursts of moments that make you go ‘’Oh I’m doing great!’’, instead, All of it is cathartic; your ascensions are a constant fight for not touching the floor before you have to, you have to think every move quickly, trying to bounce at every wall, at every enemy, every vessel possible just to scratch that extra jump, to get an ever greater combo or to meat the baseline requirement for the juice, it feels incredible, exciting, every fail makes your heart drop and every success is a another reason to not let your guard down and keep going, especially when they begin introducing the fruits that you cannot pick up and break your combo if you do. The bounce, the new mechanics introduced at every new level, like the bubbles for the ice peaks or the cannons for the steam-punk temple; hell, even the sound is amazing, Poinpy is satisfaction at its purest level not because the game is constantly telling you to feel good or because of high-scores, but because you feel it when you are doing good, and it’s just so damn fun, even the optional puzzles that reward you with more golden seeds are a blast to crack open and resolve.

It’s also a super lovely looking game, Poinpy and everything in its world is just so friend shaped, especially the terrible beast, and the colorful scenery and the super fitting music create what I can only describe as eye candy, but a healthy candy, one low on sugar but that still feels super sweet.

I’ts all not perfect in paradise; there’s a level of RNG that I don’t think I enjoy, and if you get really unlucky with fruit or enemy placement you could see your run die in a moments notice; I myself managed to recover from many of these, but they don’t feel designed to generate difficulty, it just feels like I got a bad seed and I got punished for it, which is a shame when everything else is so calculated and works so well.

Poinpy is incredible, it’s fun, it’s colorful, it has ending that’s as mind-melting as it is adorable and sweet, and it has quite the stuff to do, so much so I’ll probably be coming back in the future… tho probably I’ll return just to have fun too.

I’m shocked, I’m happy and overjoyed, this is easily the most fun I’ve had with a mobile game in…. forever, honestly. There’s much phone gaming to be done, I have some ports I really want to check out, but for now, I couldn’t have asked for a better reintroduction.

I love these goobers and the funny thinking emoji pose they make when sitting or dying, now that’s comedy!

EDIT: I originally didn't talk about the Endless Mode in depth since I didn't try it and didn't expect it to be worth mentioning, but after caving in and giving it a shot I ADORE how it's designed, putting you back at the point you started jump-count wise and the only way to get back those orb jumps is to sacrifice valued spaces for perks; an incredibly balanced mode, super smartly designed and an amazing reward for beating the game and an excuse to get even more medals. This game is a gift that wants to keep giving, and I love it.