Pikmin 4 is smooth and addictive to perfection. What a treat!

Games don't get more complete than this. Tears of the Kingdom is an ante up in every possible way. I've never played anything like it. The abilities and world systems lend themselves to some of the most inventive and unique gameplay I've ever had the pleasure of tooling around with. I was captured in the world. The story melted my heart.
Several heavy shortcomings hold it back from being a perfect game!


Tchia's New Caledonia influence is more than a tagline for advertisement, it's something that's felt the whole way through. I haven't had a game experience quite like this one.
The loop and sheer number of collectibles can get a little exhausting, and it is a bit clunky to swap between the map for navigation. Though the experience remains very enjoyable throughout

Don't sleep! High quality Housemarque

OlliOlli World is incredible, and a game I'd highly recommend for anyone to try out.
My only gripe is that the sweat level ratchets up intensely by the third or fourth world, which really put me off of striving for completion of the game. I am not interested in beating every level in single combo!

This game is excellent! A lot of fun with a friend.

Do not sleep! Incredible game that constantly feels smart and begs you to reinvent your play style. The story and setting are very fun, the characters are a great time. I have a couple gripes that bring it down a bit and outnumber my positives, but that’s only because the strengths are simple and span the entire game.
Though it’s written to be intentionally cringey, it’s still cringey and becomes unengaging at some points. Violet especially. The side quests are the weakest missions of the whole game, adding heaven and hell rushes compiling those is not for me! The boss fights aren’t great, and any levels that exceed ~1 minute in length can feel tedious and drag compared to the high speed of the game’s remainder.

Sonic Frontiers is fun to play. The open world format works well but that's where things stop. The large set pieces you're meant to work towards never function in the intended way, especially the boss fights which end up just being grueling. The voice acting recasts are heartbreaking, no one feels like the original sonic team characters. Huge bummer.

This review contains spoilers

Returnal thoughts
The greatest synthesis I made while playing Returnal was that a larger-scale Rogue-type game was always the natural progression from Housemarque’s Arcade-style roots. In thinking about it, Rogues are more forgiving than arcade games that only let you transfer your skills between runs. Applying the Rogue design philosophy to a fast-paced third person shooter and making the leap to a game of this scale is an innovation that Housemarque will always get to claim. Even if the final product isn’t completely for me, I have immense respect for what the team accomplished here. The broken narrative structure
The hell and constant death of Returnal’s First Act drives home the helplessness of Selene’s struggles and eternal entrapment on Atropos. It’s more than crash landing on a derelict, alien planet and wanting to return home. Selene has no escape even in death. Her only actionable option is to fight. The story premise is strong and unrelenting gameplay loop reinforces it. That doesn’t make it a strong loop though.
After dropping Returnal two separate times influenced by many similar reasons, I finally made a breakthrough on my third bout. At the end of the third biome, Derelict Citadel, players are rewarded with the most spectacular fight of the game, Nemesis. Entering in, it’s clear that this is the source of the White Shadow broadcast, but not the end. The conflict is cinematic with an arena that morphs across every phase. Nemesis feels infinite and overwhelming but distinctly fallible. This fight, the story segment following, and the next House Sequence are the peak of Returnal’s story. It reengaged me in a way I hadn’t expected. Losing what I’d built over my winning run was gutting but makes sense in the context of the game. The Overgrown Ruins feel like a true reward.
While no single biome on Atropos is somewhere I want to spend time, Biomes four through six feel far more pleasant than their Act 1 counterparts. Even as the lethality is ratcheted up in all encounters, a heightened adrenaline level, multiple weapon bonuses and overall progression through the game enable a better feeling of play. While still randomized, the structure and layouts of these biomes that are guaranteed still feel more fun to traverse. The tools and transports you’re granted access to come at consistent times; rewards are measured. In a game constantly in the balance of RNG things become a bit more constant for the better.
The Second half of the game being significantly stronger than the first half is to Returnal’s detriment. For a game that already had to surmount a $70 price tag, it does a terrible job of encouraging players to continue pushing and playing. What I felt like were rewards of story and gameplay unlocks came far too late. It becomes painful and a bit taunting to play through the first two biomes, constantly walled by glowing hooks that are inaccessible. This is just the most apparent among several interactables.
As a randomly generated Rogue, Returnal doesn’t benefit from the intentionally designed layouts of metroidvania titles. Typically as you begin to see new areas to interact with that are unreachable, you’ll be close to an upgrade that enables that. By gating upgrades behind completing biomes while constantly including unreachable locations in nearly every room along the way, the game starts to get in its own way. The final unlockable may be the worst. Whether it’s that it comes ~95% through the game or that it enables you to access platforms previously unseen it just feels like a blunder. There were several locations I found myself in trying to clamber up towers and ledges only to later learn there was never an obvious indication that I couldn’t do it. The lack of telegraphing was disappointing.
The structure of the first two acts is a wonderful cadence that causes the final act to fall a bit flat. Retreading the full game to collect new keys to beat it once more for a new cutscene was a bummer.
The laundry list of negatives I built up don’t require quite as much dissection as everything that came before it, so they’ll come in a more haphazard recounting here:
Returnal is not a very good name!
This game should’ve never come out at $70! I was thrilled to play it through the PS Plus Extra Library, which didn’t exist at the time of launch. It certainly would’ve sold more, thus reaching more audiences and becoming a bigger hit if it were priced lower.
I’m beyond hopeful for whatever Housemarque is cooking up next, and that’s bolstered knowing they’re supported as a PlayStation Studio. The future is bright with the potential Returnal signals they are capable of.
The trophy list is so bad it’s almost embarrassing. Heavy RNG trophies tied to each biome that were still awful after a major patch. For a game with so many options and interesting combat encounters, there wasn’t much in the way of using the weapons in a variety of ways. Though including things like that would ultimately invoke even more RNG!
The technical issues cannot be excused. Even playing after the ‘Suspend Cycle’ patch, there were still issues that haunted me. I fell off in earlier attempts after not being able to save runs, losing runs to random updates, anything conceivable. Even then my friend and I were having issues with falling through the world after resuming a cycle, not being able to join up, falling through the world on a cutscene, etc.

This review contains spoilers

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a lot of things. It's beautiful, charming, surprising, and above all it’s clunky. It feels like a game out of time both in design and control. Its direction and transitions are often imbalanced, constantly wrenching control from the player just to throw it back for 5 steps into another cutscene.
I think the combat system is well-designed. The marriage of action-style and turn-based combat come together impressively well. Cloud switching between Operator and Punisher modes changes the pace and a quick-select to access abilities works well. I’d appreciate it if the pause menu was accessible during combat, that would then allow me to access the remapping on my Quick Select. Especially later in the game, there isn’t a shortage of enemy variety or set-piece level boss fights. Many visually interesting enemies get lost in the combat system and ultimately feel like they miss their chance to impact. Enemies will put up fields to put you out of range, fly out of reach, indiscriminately enter phases of invulnerability. It’s very puzzling and causes them to drag and feel far more drawn out than necessary.
This same feeling is present in the level design. Midgar is beautiful and consistently visually detailed. I understand the use of guised loading segments by crouching under an object, vaulting or sidling against a wall. These moments feel constant though. Stepping into and out of train cars in the graveyard, the chase scene in the sewers. Why are so many of these slow on-rails moments present? During Hojo’s four drums, only 1 door being open at a time. Going to the call boxes to switch parties, it feels like unnecessary padding that murders the pacing.
The fears and woes of the party often feel at odds with one another. Despite Cloud’s superhuman strength and the multitude of fantastical beasts and machines the party there’s a mismatched amount of dread in cutscenes. Crossing the water in the sewers is the main scene that comes to mind. Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith just fell an indiscriminate distance from the slums to the sewers. But the prospect of falling in the water is the scariest thing to them?
The final two chapters are easily the strongest. Though still muddled by the problematic pacing. The moment finally comes when Sephiroth is truly, physically standing before you. Then it’s instantly diffused as you traverse several mandatory monster closets made necessary through the story.
I’m left with even more questions than when I started, and that’s totally okay. I beat this game because I wanted to know where it was getting me, to be a part of the remaking of one of the most revered games of all time. And in the end I liked that destination, but in no way do I think the journey was worth it.

Ape Escape is lovely. I played it for the first time in 2022, it was my entry into the franchise. The game still feels creative, making use of the then-new dual analog sticks to deliver some gadgets and gizmos that make tracking down each Ape a fun time. The game is definitely still playable, even if events begin to feel samey and you find yourself wrestling with the camera at other points.

Untitled Goose Game is delightful. It's even more fun with a friend! Frankly, I'm not sure how I could have beaten it on my own.

The game is pretty fun and fairly competent. The levels are bite-sized and it feels like a heavier, clunkier shovel knight. It's fun to get into a rhythmn of jumping in and out of levels quickly.
The scrolling of the screen made it a bit difficult to make out background details at times, but you'll get used to it. The level structure is straightforward but puzzling if it's meant to be more. It seems there's potential for 4 puzzle pieces but I've only ever seen 2 in one run. Maybe I'm just bad at it?
If anything this feels like a proof of concept that there's room for a 2D platformer on the Playdate.
I think this guy is the devil?


A solid take on Snake that's been fun to jump into.