Weirdly soulless when it didn't really need to be; the type of indie game where there's a guy on an island who spouts random Zelda 1 quotes for no discernible reason. At its base, it takes some of the familiar dopamine hits from games like Stardew Valley and Minecraft and throws them at you at hyperspeed. It keeps your hands very busy and takes minimal thought to do anything, so it's a podcast game really - I turned the music off about 5 minutes in. The pixel art is fine, the gameplay loop does what it sets out to do, but the writing is weirdly off. I can't really see any of the charm it supposedly has; I'd even say there's an almost imperceptible mean streak to some of it: killing the kind turnips (ok i didn't have to do that but you want the space), an old man impressing on you that you're killing so much of the place's (infinitely respawning) natural resources, the fact that every NPC wants you to know how their existence doesn't matter in the slightest. Should I care? The game tries so hard to not try at all with its writing.
The game's store page says "The idle game you want to keep actively playing!", which is odd because that takes the idle out of idle game making it just "game", but it does remind me of a certain type of good-not-great incremental game where all the math fits together but it's just lacking some cohesive alchemical thing. A soul probably.

0.5 stars for Bubsy 3D? What a shocker!
But seriously, this game is shockingly, egregiously, irredeemably bad in a way that you need to experience for yourself to understand. I can only imagine the people who made this played it just before release and started rapidly biting their fingernails in nervous terror like in a cartoon, knowing just what they were about to put out into the world.
I finished level 2 and couldn't do any more. It's a big, wide open, messy level that - as far as I can tell - requires a temporary powerup to beat, which doesn't respawn, even after dying. So you can spend 20 minutes slowly manhandling Bubsy to complete the full level, take the powerup and not know exactly where to go with it, then it runs out so you're fucked and have to redo the entire thing. One day I might come back to be able to say that I've finished it, but my mental state will have to improve by like 5 points to handle it.
game sucks

I don't think anyone expected the sequel to Super Mario 64 to be anything like this. As if the staff at Nintendo went on an extended drug binge and one of them said "guys, what if Mario went to Italy with a water pistol?" and then after a bunch of laughter and sobering up, they ran with it for an entire game. But here we are, and coming back to Sunshine after many years, I like it more than ever for how weird and un-Nintendo it feels.
Most Nintendo games are finished for one. This has a real patchwork feel to it, a leaking bucket plugged up with what feels like test levels and blue coins, two hundred and fucking forty of them to be exact. So many moments in this game made me go full AVGN, turn to the side and say "what the fuck were they thinking??" into an invisible camera, because they were rushed to the point the difficulty in many places wasn't tested at all. Compared to the round planet of Galaxy, there's sharp edges all over the place here.
But despite their desperate attempts to reach 120 shines, there's a very solid core here. There's never been a Mario game so committed to creating what feels like it could be a real place; levels that blend sensical environmental details with totally ludicrous geometry end up coming across really well. I think the success of Isle Delfino is one of the game's biggest strengths, trading out the variety of Super Mario 64 for levels more considered and consistent. It also helps that Mario is super fun to control here. I was shocked to remember you can't even crouch in this game, never mind long jump, but the addition of FLUDD and the spin jump keeps the platforming engaging, pushing you to challenge yourself. Having said that, it's definitely part of a downward trend towards making Mario easier, but less satisfying, to control which continues into Galaxy.
So yeah. I had a really cool time with it. Just don't go for every blue coin, it's not worth it.

2021

So many cool ideas and things to see here, but its construction and switching between hubs the way it does makes it unbearable to actually play unless you're a youtuber wanting to look very surprised at seeing random wacky things for long enough to make a video.

The developers made beautiful landscapes. An ok story. Writing that flits about from being too flowery to decent to word association on par with a GCSE English student. These are elements of a game which could have been fine.
Dear Esther is a valid expression of games as a medium; I think the question as to whether it is only arises because the gameplay glue that should hold those previously mentioned elements together has been minimised drastically, which would probably be shocking back in 2008.
While playing, I couldn't help but think back to Metal Gear Rising - maybe the most polar opposite game to this you could find - specifically when the second phase of a boss hits and you get some dialogue as the vocals kick the fuck in and the stakes get even higher. Slightly different than slowly walking around an island. But the point is, the gameplay holds all those elements you can find in other media together and that's what elevates this medium. So by minimising the interaction with no subversion, you lose so much of what makes the medium special. You don't get an "Art Game" - it goes without saying that all games are art - if anything you reduce it's artistic merit.
Taking away pieces of a medium is valid exploration of it, but remove the interesting parts of it and play the rest straight? It's not surprising that the game is uninteresting, but the experimentation here giving an unsurprising result is the biggest sin of the whole thing. Maybe the fact that I'm talking about what gaming can be was the point of the entire game. In that case, I love that games can be this, but I just don't like, well, this.

Without a doubt in my mind, this is the most important game ever made. You star as the titular 3-D WorldRunner, in his 3-D WorldRunner adventures, mostly involving WorldRunning through a 3-D World. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTbH25YNxE4)
The game's use of early 3D may be seen as a gimmick by some, but I believe it is integral to the game's overall message. This game wants you to instinctively FEEL like it's a real experience, and for me, it was. Fourteen years before Metal Gear Solid 2 made its bold statement of art and specifically video games being worthwhile as contributions to human culture and society to be passed down through generations, here we have a game demanding your immersion through it's use of 3D graphics. There's even a special 3D mode allowing the use of 3D glasses to further remove the barrier between player and game.
Indeed, it's no coincidence the name of 3D WorldRunner is also Jack. This game was undoubtedly an influence on Hideo Kojima's conception of Raiden, and I believe it holds equal importance as an artistic statement on video games, art, and society.
Let's first examine the game through the lens of "Man vs. Man". There is one man in this game. But indeed he faces himself, through the monsters and obstacles he runs past. Such a beautiful statement on human determination: there is nothing more powerful than a discipled mind focused on one concrete goal, in this case, WorldRunning. The player and Jack are one in this, there is no barrier between them, for every person wishes for 3D WorldRunning in their SOUL. Was this game a direct influence on Toby Fox when he designed Undertale? I'm here to say: probably.
The next facet: "Man vs. Environment". The 3D World is a treacherous space. Checkered. Scrolling. Yellow. All words I could use to describe it. All that stands between you falling into the abyssal void is one perfectly timed jump after another. Perhaps this reminds you of something. Indeed, our lives are a sequence of perfectly timed jumps, and is anyone there to catch us when we fall? In 3D WorldRunner, no. A portrait of a world with just one man is a desolate one; no man is an island and this game teaches us that we must hold each other up if we wish to see the Sun.
The final truth: "Man vs. Society". At the end of every world, you face a dragon. Myths of dragons stretch back centuries; they are a beast to be overcome, requiring much courage, but yielding much reward, often monetary as the dragon's hoard is redistributed. How can this be seen as anything other than a call towards a more just society in which wealth is no longer controlled by the few but in the possession of the many? The dragon is a "Boss" in the video game sense, but also the societal sense, it clearly holds dominion over the smaller creatures, hoarding all those precious points, and your role as the Saint George of this 3D World is something we can all aspire to, in order to effect societal change in the real world. Again, this game's influence is felt in Persona 5, among others.
I hope I've given a glimpse of why this game is so important, not least to me. It's a primal call to the deepest part of our primitive brains for us to come together and end injustice to others and the self through art, music, books, literature, and in this case, video games. And the music is pretty good too.

I'm officially at the level of procrastination from revision where I'll dig out my PS2 and take a nostalgia trip. I've been wanting to replay this game ever since I rewatched the movie six months ago and realised I actually unironically love it for being so ridiculous and inappropriate and ridiculously inappropriate for a kids film, and I remembered enjoying the game as a kid, so why not?
Well, nothing I like about the movie is here, but it's a decent 2.5D platformer. Feels good to move around as The Cat and collect stuff, which is about as much as you could hope for with a mid-2000s movie tie-in game. I love seeing PS2 Alec Baldwin exist in his purple suit and be evil and pilot weird crab mechs. Something noteworthy is that 95% of the dialogue is between The Cat and that annoying fish, but they absolutely fucking hate each other, so the game is weirdly negative for a kids game. The fish will give you some passive-aggressive advice, and then pseudo-Mike Myers will make a cloying quip about how he wants to eat tha fish. This happens for every tutorial message, and there's a lot of them because this game is for babbies. Maybe sometimes playing a babby game is the moral thing to do though. So you go through 10 worlds with themes such as: hot. cold. washing machine. chemistry. and they get just barely enough mileage from the game's mechanics to make it through. The actual worlds are abstract and colourful enough that they made a decent impression on me as a kid, I remembered a surprising amount of it.
No one has any reason to ever play this game, but it was just mildly playable enough to get me through the entire thing. And I think that's worth a lot in these uncertain economic times we live in. The Cat in the Hat for Playstation 2.

A true mixed bag. If you love the original, there's a bunch of levels here that push your ability to its absolute limit, and are generally fun as hell to learn and master. But then about 30% of the levels are either totally cryptic and need a guide, or are straight-up unfun (swimming mostly).
I still think this could have been a great sequel if they had focused on the actual platforming; it's not like they didn't understand how to elevate the first game's difficulty because there are levels that do that perfectly. Super Mario Bros revolutionised the entire industry on the basis of it being fundamentally fun to run and jump and control this weird mushroom man. I just wish they'd carried that concept all the way through this game too.

The puzzles in these games are purely a way to force you deeper into the labyrinths the game designers have constructed, to make you go down that path you're dreading because of course there's an item you need down there. Or perhaps they test your ability to concentrate and think while an enemy is running towards you. On that basis, they work fine. In a game with no threats and bland level design, the puzzles are pushed to the forefront. And they fucking suck. If your puzzle game has me come away from it genuinely wondering if the developers even know what a puzzle is, you've fucked up. I rarely want games to be remade, but there's enough good ideas in this series that I think it deserves a second chance. There's an amazing series here buried under a couple of bad design decisions. The first two games are still worth playing though.

Playing this all the way through on European Extreme without the 3DS add-on that gives you another circle pad was a trip for sure. Amazing game, play literally any other version.