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Im not quite done with Dinkum by any means, but at 50 hours in I think I have enough experience to write about my time with this game.
Dinkum is probably the best modern farming sim out there. It does a lot to improve on the typical formula and it adds so much that im not sure id want to go back to any of the others. Almost everything in this game feels completely unique and is tied together in a very satisfying way, its a very distinct gameplay loop that you cant really find anywhere else.
For starters, Dinkum is just really fun to run around in. I love how the physics work so much, almost everything is interactable and its enjoyable to just go around jumping on things. The visuals are gorgeous and i especially love the way the crops and plants look, its a very solid style. It feels really cathartic to have a game that's a good time to just exist in. Dinkum has a lot of realism to it but never enough to damage the fun, more like it seems very accurate to Australia and its ecosystem. It also has a lot of surprises like any good farming sim should, learning how to play Dinkum blind in particular was really cool... no other game of the same genre ive played really functions like this one. 50 hours in and theres still a ton i havent discovered, for an early access game its really impressive.
It also has some of the best multiplayer ive ever seen in a farming game, compared to something like Stardew Valley it definitely takes the cake here. Youre constantly progressing your stats through a series of points which track things you do, like mining and all that jazz, so it never feels like youre wasting your time building up someone elses island. Your relationship with the villagers also stays consistent throughout anyones game, which gives the player a reason to interact with them outside their own world. You can pretty much pick up anything and you can even use tools you dont yet have a license to obtain, the only thing you cant do is set deeds and make permanent changes to the town. And like i said, everything is interactable and that includes other players, im a huge fan of jumping on my friend's head and doing a stupid little dance as they progress through a cutscene. There is a lot of teamwork involved in multiplayer so, to me anyway, the workload never feels unbalanced and its just a really good game to go through with someone else.
Dinkum doesnt really have too many substantial issues, but there are a lot of little bugs. Most of them are just funny but there are a few times ive had to quit my game for one reason or another. The late game also feels a bit patchy in what you can do, theres still people i have to move in but waiting for them takes a long time and finding something to do in the meantime is a bit rough. This game isnt even a year old though, and its already had two major updates which makes me think Dinkum is gonna get quite big as the time goes by.
Ive been having a lot of fun with this game, its only 20 usd so i absolutely encourage anyone to try it out if they can, especially if you have someone else you can play along with. Theres dingos and pleeps and dinks and doinks, what more can you want from a game..?
Magical Vacation is a very obscure rpg that drew me in due to it being created by the same folks who made Legend of Mana, one of my favorite games. Brownie Brown's creations usually tend to be on the more emotional side, an experience that seems to struggle against its rpg aspects with a desire to build a world and reach out with a story that connects. Sadly, this game does not have an offical english release... there is a very shoddy fan translation that is missing a few lines and comes off rather stilted, but im grateful for its existence so i could experience Magical Vacation in some capacity.
The beginning moments of this game stuck out to me the most in the 20 hours or so i was playing. I started MV a few months ago so im a bit shoddy on the details, but immediately the game impressed upon me a very bittersweet atmosphere with some of the most gorgeous pixel art the gba has ever seen. The game starts off as an almost coming-of-age story, surrounded by your fellow students listening to their troubles and desires for the future. Hearing school gossip and myths, there is a very warm and familiar feeling within the group of students, as if everyone was well acquainted and has been for years. The professor pulls you all to the (magic) bus to send you and your class on a (magical) vacation, which is required as a practical skills exercise that determines if you pass the grade. There is a sense of comedy to the dialogue and the sprite-work that i havent really seen in any gba games ive played, maybe minus Mario & Luigi. The character artist from LoM returns as well, so the designs are very unique and distinct from any other game ive ever seen.
I kind of wish the vacation with your classmates lasted a bit longer, for its not too long before youre attacked by very weird looking monsters and a bunch of your friends are dragged to another world in a very traumatic fashion, and you must look for them.
Unlike most rpgs, this game allows you to have 6 party members and has... 24 elements, i believe? It sounds like it'd be a wreck but i found the fighting to be very fun, however the downside is of course everything takes very, very long to do. It suffers from problems of its time, like there being a rough sense of direction, battles being very unbalanced and taking up a lot of time, and of course.... random encounters.
There are many good conversations with other characters throughout the course of the game, but they start stretching few and far between, and the fan translation starts letting me down as well with entire lines being absent or just gibberish.
I desperately want this game to be remastered and brought to the west, there are few games that deserve it as much as Magical Vacation does with its unique way of storytelling and combat. Unfortunately i did have to put this down because of how grating the random encounters became, and the lack of dialouge, but maybe ill return to it again one day. Until then, i encourage anyone who likes old rpgs to give it a go, if you dont mind the grind then i believe it is very much worth your time.
The original Oneshot is a game I've been following since its release in 2014, and it has been quite a pleasure watching a game develop so much through the love of its creator. This is a very beautiful game that beckons feelings of grief in me without delving into any intense subject matter at all. It is a very personal and special experience to walk Niko through the game and grow to care about them, and after all these years there is nothing impeding the fondness I have of this game and it's world. Sometimes the puzzles could be a bit obtuse, but it isn't something a quick look at a walk-through wouldn't fix.
The World Machine edition is the best way to play this game, in my opinion. The immersion of playing Oneshot on an actual PC is important too, but I really enjoyed the simulated computer and felt as if it was just as cool as playing it on its native hardware.
The only reason this game isn't 5 stars however is the solstice ending. No spoilers, I think the core concept is good... but I cant help but feel like it could of been done differently. It started drifting into tropes, and some of the dialogue felt dated which wasn't really a concern in the base Oneshot. I also felt like the ending of the game originally was very good, when solstice tries to elaborate on it, it does it in a way that feels like it deflates the air out of what the story had going for it to begin with. It's still more Oneshot, and after all these years I get to see the best possible outcome, I just wish it was more nuanced like the main portion of your time with the game.
Regardless of that, Oneshot is still a very special game that I could suggest to absolutely anyone. The artwork and music are still just as nostalgic as they were in 2014, and you can tell that the people who made the game put their souls onto it. A comforting short little experience that'll stick out in my mind forever.