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25 | She/her | Pansexual
Tech/Games Journalist
Scoring | Favorite games
My queen in crime ❤️

Frozen I and II are Disney's best movies (fight me)

Playing less as I focus on my creative writing :)
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Favorite Games

Minecraft
Minecraft
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft
LittleBigPlanet
LittleBigPlanet
Dark Souls
Dark Souls
Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds

922

Total Games Played

011

Played in 2024

023

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

Content Warning
Content Warning

Apr 02

Spiritfarer
Spiritfarer

Feb 24

Death Stranding: Director's Cut
Death Stranding: Director's Cut

Feb 24

Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2

Feb 24

Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Feb 21

Recently Reviewed See More

Reggie Fils-Aimé famously said “if it’s not fun, why bother” during Nintendo’s E3 2017 showcase. For some, these have become words to die by. An easy phrase to parrot when the individual faces a system they can't come to terms with. Some see it as a harmless way of saying they don't enjoy what they're playing, but I have never appreciated its implications.

If your definition of “fun” equates to anything you like, this quote probably resonates with you. But I've rarely seen the word used that way, and instead, this obsession with fun’s necessity in games seems more damaging than anything.

“Fun” is fast, approachable, and easy to control. An immediate stoking of the attention span, constant engagement, or a light enjoyment lessened in friction. Some see Dark Souls as unfun due to its slow, heavy movement and methodical combat. Dark Souls 3 is “fun” because it's quicker and lighter; you can roll faster, further, and more often. Nothing is wrong with either approach, yet one is sometimes dismissed.

Not everyone defines the term this way, but I’ve seen it used to debase games with an unconventional design. Traditionally “unfun” foundations have a harder time finding their place in communities who won’t acknowledge its worth unless it’s immediately satisfying. I remember this phrase being used during Death Stranding. It was picked apart, labeled as “unfun” because it’s a package delivery walking simulator. Who wants to be a delivery man, right? Even “walking sim” has become dismissive, used to label things as lesser.

Regardless of Reggie’s intention in the full quote, which specifically emphasizes that games are also a journey, even inviting the player to “open their mind,” that snippet has shifted into a rallying cry for people to do anything but. If something must be “fun” to be worthwhile, and that definition of “fun” is remotely limited, it denies ideas that don't fit under a narrow bracket. It is a quote accompanied by frustrating ignorance.

Not everything needs to be fun. Other artforms aren't seen this way, so why are games different? Is it because they're interactive? Is interactivity meaningless without fun? Art is feeling, and there’s no single feeling a work has to evoke to be successful.

Playing Resident Evil reminded me of my stance on this.

It isn't fun. It's claustrophobic, stressful, and frustrating. No encounter, room, boss, or weapon is traditionally “fun.” It's an unforgiving, labyrinthian puzzle; a constant check of resources where memorizing rooms and locations is vital. Even saving the game is limited to a resource, one I often found myself without and had to make huge stretches of progress knowing one mistake could send me back an hour.

Bosses are a cold, calculated check of your mindfulness towards collecting and preserving as much ammo as possible. You enter a boss room, move only a little, and fire everything you have. They die and you move on. You wasted ammo, and that made progressing more difficult. No part of this balance between figuring out the path forward while wasting as few resources as possible was fun, alongside trying to figure out at what point the player should save.

Yet Resident Evil is enormously good and I’m enamored. I've reversed my tune on the Ink Ribbon system after years of avoiding it in other titles in the franchise. The fear that arises from knowing one mistake can ripple; your decision to not save means you're risking everything, or being too frugal by going nearly an hour without a save, brings rise to an unmatched tension.

Games don’t have to be fun to be worthwhile, successful, or good. Art is too complex, and limiting any medium in this way sucks. It’s not something to be afraid of, either. Fun absolutely rules, but I’m tired of people treating it as a necessity. I’m tired of being seen as lesser when expressing love for old, unconventional, or mechanically complex experiences. I’m tired of new things being inherently better because they’re faster, more fluid, and easier to control. No feeling is worthless and games can accomplish anything. Just keep an open mind, experience it, and vibe. Fun isn’t everything.

If you support that quote and think “that's not what fun is, it's just whether or not you like something,” then that's fine. We can disagree. But I’ve seen people use the requirement of “fun” to shit on non-traditional systems before. People shouldn’t be afraid to say something isn’t fun yet still love it. There's so much more to feel :)

Last year I began revisiting childhood games, finishing the ones I liked well enough and publishing some rough thoughts. Bringing attention to far off memories was wondrous, even when the games held up less-than-excellently. It’s as if I had the power to pluck unfinished dreams from my mind and play them to their conclusion. Finding new ways to appreciate what I once loved, and beating games I never had the patience or skill to, was magical. Writing about them was equally important, as I wouldn’t want them to turn into a loose memory again.

But I’ve been slacking lately, so here’s the next game :)

Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse is an absurdly long name. I don’t think I ever knew it was called that. The front cover doesn’t particularly help, as “Magical Mirror” and “Mickey Mouse” are so prominent, especially being the only words in color. Kiddo me called it Magical Mirror so that’s what I will refer to it as in this review.

Anyway, Magical Mirror is a point-and-click adventure inspired by the “Thru The Mirror” Mickey Mouse short from 1936. It involves interacting with environments seen through fixed cameras, collecting key items, and figuring out how to progress through a collection of bizarrely laid out rooms inside a massive castle.

It’s also a joint project between Capcom and Nintendo, which is bewildering; you’d think sticking those two studios in a room during the GameCube Era would result in an absolute classic, but this got dismal reception. IGN gave it a 4.8/10 and it has a 50/100 on Metacritic. Ouch.

But regardless of its awful reception, this inexplicably spoke to me as a kid. It probably helps that it came out when I was like… four years old, although I’m sure I retried it a couple of times during the years that followed. I also operate solely on v i b e s, of which this game has plenty. Sadly, like most things I played during my youth, I never finished it.

Regardless, my attachment to this game is intense. Its toy train section in particular has stuck with me; I recall exploring a kid’s room with wooden blocks making up a little station as a gorgeous orange glow gave it a nostalgic warmth. Stepping through a tiny hole in the wall and seeing another side of a makeshift train station as a miniaturized Mickey Mouse traveled between rooms collecting gold stars sits powerfully in my mind.

I was shocked when I got to that section of the game: All of that is technically here, but it is not present in the ways I remember. If you showed me a YouTube video of that scene, and I wasn’t sure what game I played as a kid, I would have definitively told you “no, that’s not the game.”

At some point between playing this and revisiting it, my memory got generous and filled in massive gaps, making it seem more imaginative. It’s a supremely small part of the world and while the train station is there, the memories I have of exploring an elegant, detailed rendition in third person was complete fantasy. It’s also possible I had a vivid dream expanding upon that part of the game and that’s what my brain decided would become the memory. Who knows!

It’s one of those classic examples of “I remember this looking better.” I typically don’t subscribe to that mindset, as I am a firm believer that old games look phenomenal, but I can’t deny I felt it during the earliest sections of this game. It’s the most I’ve ever been flabbergasted by my own rose-tinted glasses.

But it didn’t take long for me to reach new and unexplored regions of this mirror-realm. There’s a sort of bizarre, difficult-to-parse atmosphere here that speaks to me. I actually think it has an effectively playful adventurousness in its seemingly endless, maze-like mansion. Its several, minimally detailed rooms with few key props are a major vibe.

I loved the clock mechanism room, and I felt cozy stepping outside and seeing the 2D painted town in the background at the top of the tower. That joyous feeling is only enhanced by music full of dreaminess and light-hearted, goofy fun.

But it is not a pleasant game to play. Mickey Mouse takes forever to do anything, and the animations make him feel like he’s doing the Dora the Explorer thing where large pauses are used to try and get the viewer to answer some sort of question. But of course, there is no question, it’s just unnecessarily drawn out.

There's no intrigue to its point-and-click elements. You just move around environments and animations play out with few to no exciting puzzles; it's all very simple. I like its visuals and soundtrack so much that it absolutely saves it, but it's quite boring.

The mini-games are hilariously poor technically but they’re admittedly charming. Flying a toy plane and shooting little pellets at a giant rubber ducky, fireballing barrels rolling towards you, or dancing to a rhythm mini-game as your Mickey Mouse doppelganger does sick dance moves to an admittedly groovy track are all fun in concept. This game just does not have the execution, even if it’s cute to look at.

I like that the little ghost that’s been tormenting Mickey Mouse through the whole game seems genuinely upset when he has to leave. It’s classically wholesome to turn the “villain” into a cute little fella who just wanted to play. Mickey has no hard feelings towards him in the end. It’s very loving and precious :)

Overall, Magical Mirror kinda rules, but it kinda doesn’t. Any vibe-operated individual who doesn't mind a game playing like shit if they have an interesting experience won’t regret their time. I respect this game for its weird little rooms, but I can’t pretend I loved playing it.

Although… I did play it for four hours straight until completion in a single sitting. Impressive considering it’s very easy for other games to lose my attention fast. Dunno! Maybe the game does rule and it’ll grow on me as I forget how it played and remember more of how it looked and sounded.

I’m obsessed with aesthetics and environment design. Striking ideas woven into something's presentation gets me giddy. My tendency to undervalue a game's positives when its art direction is lacking—and vice versa—is my most identifiable bias. I often say I’m a visual person and that’s something I take pride in, but it can be a curse.

I loved how Halo Infinite felt when I first played it. There is immense joy in grapple-hooking across its open-world, using my full kit to come out unscathed against a dozen bosses, and the bone shattering explosion when popping an Elite’s head with a sniper rifle. Gunfights, the new utility equipment, and the sound/feel of each weapon is accompanied by exceptional weight. Approaching battles in any number of classic Halo ways, and adapting when things go wrong, is enormous fun.

But Infinite’s campaign didn’t click years ago. It’s obsession with rehashed aesthetics stretched over the franchise’s longest campaign to date underwhelmed me. I thought I might have just been overly cynical, so after the addition of co-op (alongside the latest update finally letting me play without crashing), I was itching to revisit it.

Yet not much has changed. Infinite is painfully uninventive. Its biome is limited to homochromatic grassy plains littered with identical trees and hexagonal pillars. It does a decent job keeping this region fresh with mountain peaks, ravines, and little swamplands, but it feels more like a single MMO zone than the focus of a full game. Some adore the way this world looks and I don't necessarily disagree; it's lovely in a vacuum. If this were a slice of what Infinite had to offer, I'd speak of it fondly, but the over reliance on that concept loses its novelty fast.

On the other hand, its missions are properly dire, with few memorable set pieces alternating between minimalist forerunner structures and dark metal military bases. In particular, the last four or five missions are chock full of reused blue corridors. I have no love for the spiritless presentation of this campaign. It’s as if it was designed by the only person on Earth whose favorite part of Halo is The Library in Combat Evolved. Regardless of their many mechanical flaws, both Halo 4 and 5 are significantly more exciting in scope.

Infinite ends up coming across as a demo; an unfinished experiment revealing what this franchise could look like when thrust into an open-world. It successfully proves that Master Chief running, gunning, flying, driving, and grapple-hooking throughout a massive map is tons of fun, but it doesn't have much meat on its bones.

I've never been narrative-obsessed when it comes to Halo, but it’s fitting that the plot boils down to a convoluted attempt to get a Cortana-esque A.I. quipping with the Chief like the good ol’ days. It’s a “here's what the next big step for Halo looks like” without actually taking steps to push the series forward. It's 343’s attempt to get back on the “right track” through a reboot of sorts.

But even after the launch, there was reason to be excited for its future. “Infinite” as a title wasn't related to its themes, but instead signaled the beginning of a 10-year plan. No more numbered entries or sequels. Infinite would house Halo for a long time. And that was exciting. Its first expansion could have knocked it out of the park.

That reportedly fell apart. Story expansions are not in development, the Slipspace Engine might actually be a total mess, and the campaign was originally planned to be much more. You can watch the Infinite engine demonstration on YouTube to see how few of these ideas made it into the final game: In my review at launch, I wrote “much of what was revealed in the announcement trailer is not present. Where are the large animals? The rain? The oceans? The snowy mountains? The moonlit groves occupied by stags? The raging thunder? The shifting deserts? The coiling trees? The waves of great bulls stampeding? The underwater vehicles exploring ruins? The beaches?”

So yeah, Infinite feels like a demo. And after revisiting, it’s still an unbelievable mess on PC. My girlfriend crashed dozens of times, and I couldn’t play for years because it wouldn’t stay open for more than a few minutes. Half of the time we respawned, we couldn’t swap equipment. During the final mission, we had to do it without dying because checkpoints were broken, and if we failed, it would reset the level. Sometimes we’d lose big chunks of progress out of nowhere when loading our save.

And I'm sad to see Halo once again promise the start of something new yet end unfinished. We were meant to explore more of this Halo ring, see what the Endless would turn into, and probably get new weapons, fight more bosses, and unlock extra equipment. With the potential for more environments and less dire campaign missions, I was looking forward to it.

Infinite is tons of fun when it works, but it's rarely exciting to look at. I can see why people love it; it feels great in your hands, but the other half of what I look for in Halo isn’t here.