I had no sword at all for two and a half hours.

I eventually found Biggoron's Sword on sale for 15 Rupees in the Goron City shop as Adult Link. However, as an incredibly frustrated young Alex learned in 1999, you cannot defeat Ganon in Ocarina of Time with the Biggoron Sword. In order to finish the game, the final blow must come from the Master Sword.

During my first playthrough of this (or any) randomizer, the Master Sword was the very last item that I found. This is what it took for me to find it:

• Both the Master Sword and the Kokiri Sword were in the Fire Temple in optional chests, with the Master Sword's chest requiring the Scarecrow Song to reach it. But I couldn't get to either of those without access to the Megaton Hammer, as the room to the left where you encounter Darunia had no keys in it. (The key to the door on the right side of the entry hall turned out to be in the Boss Key chest)

• The Hammer was in the Gerudo Training Grounds, so I was ultimately gated by my lack of Hover Boots.

• The Hover Boots were in Jabu-Jabu's belly, in place of the Zora's Sapphire. But I couldn't complete that section without the Boomerang.

• The Boomerang was in the moat in place of the Ocarina of Time, but I needed the 3 Spiritual Stones before Zelda would chuck it in there.

• The Kokiri Emerald was in one of the Gibdo coffins in the Bottom of the Well, so I needed the Lens of Truth to discover that.

• And the Lens of Truth was sold by a Business Scrub in Dodongo's Cavern. I got a good deal though, it was only 10 rupees.

Obviously, I had no idea where the Master Sword would be, so this wasn't a plan or a list of instructions I followed, it's just how things shook out. And I had a great time! I used Ship of Harkinian's randomizer, and there are some fantastic options that made the constant back-and-forth scouring of Hyrule more feasible. The most useful ones were unbreakable Deku Sticks (absolutely critical since I didn't find a sword for a while), changing Link's age with the Song of Time, Bunny Hood increasing speed like in Majora's Mask, and ageless items (allowing Young Link to use the Hookshot, for example). I was incredibly impressed with Ship of Harkinian though, and will definitely put more playthroughs into that, randomized or not.

What if Secret Collect was a Pac-Man game

Bit Boy is perfectly emblematic of original WiiWare titles. It plays around with retro aesthetics (incorporating art styles from "4-bit" up through "128-bit"), incorporates familiar gameplay mechanics from arcade titles that most everyone is familiar with, and is really, really short. It's fine!

Mid-race powerups that change the landscape are super cool, and I love the concept of rewarding crashes, but the fumbly motion controls and the complete lack of any visual style kind of eliminate any desire for me to play this over any other racing game.

Cannot stress enough how much better the arcade experience is compared to the version on Wii U. There's something visceral about the shaking seats and steering wheel, playing co-op with another setup right next to you. I had a blast! The kind of blast I did not have at home on my couch with the Wii U Gamepad!

There's a gamer boss that you defeat by shooting him with soapy water

Apparently I should have checked if 4 players could actually play together on one system before buying. Turns out that's not an option! Whoops!

YES.

Somebody once thought, "What if we made a Wild West outlaw game, but you fly an airplane the whole time" and it turned out incredible. However, unsatisfied, they then proceeded to wonder, "What if it became a Chicago mafia game, but you fly an airplane the whole time", and it was just as good. But with more yet to give unto the world, they looked the original Xbox right in its single green eye and posed the ultimate question: "What if it ends up being an Indiana Jones game... but you fly an airplane the whole time??"

I truly do not believe that games need to look any better than Crimson Skies. This is peak sixth-generation aesthetic, and it looks phenomenal upresed on Series X. There's so much style and charm on display here, with a delightfully pulpy performance from Timothy Omundson (!!!GALAVANT REFERENCE!!!) in the lead role. But more than anything, this is the most engaging air combat I've ever experienced, with its dogfights' tension regularly making me clench up and lean into turns while sitting on my couch like the guy in the N64 Tilt Pak ad. The final segment of the penultimate level in particular is one of the most intense, nail-biting sequences in any game I've ever played. I loved all of it!

Now lastly, we have to acknowledge the loss of a reviewing giant. Recently @Elkmane announced his retirement. As a lifelong Elkster, I knew this day was coming, but thought we had more time. While it's not the name he used here, I knew him as Big John. It just so happens that Crimson Skies features an ally character of the same name, and in the final level, King Richard kept shouting his name. I became fond of this game's Big John, but I'll miss the real one far more. So long, pal.

Elksters for life.

The game begins by dropping your car at the top of an active volcano. I obviously tried to drive the car straight into the lava, but the game FADES TO BLACK BEFORE YOU REACH THE HOT MOLTEN GOODNESS. What is the point of all the realistic graphics if I can't even melt my car???

A little while later, while driving through a cloud of kicked up dust, the commentator shouted "WOOOO RIGHT INTO THE EYE OF THE STORM!!" Gamers, I furrowed my brow so hard at him. It was a dust cloud! There is no eye! The eye is the calm area in the middle of a tornado or something, a phenomenon in which the center of the destructive force is the safest place to be! That doesn't apply to the current situation at all!

I generally try not to be a Surly Nitpicky Gamer Boy™, but a lot of big budget AAA games really do bring it out of me. I get it, it's very pretty and the cars go fast. But I finally tried Ridge Racer Type 4 a few months ago, and the cars in that 26-year-old game not only felt better to drive, but it had an actual visual identity that was beyond cool. This is just boring!

Take off that mask, Suika. You can't fool me. I know what you are beneath that fruity aesthetic, and I REFUSE to let you hook me again! I got up to 2048 a watermelon, I'm calling this game beaten now.

Yakuza 5 is an anthology series.

Episode 1 - Kazuma Kiryu
“Suicidal Pedestrian Kart”
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The citizens of Nagasugai are desperate to die! It is your job to thwart the morbid plans of the populace while lawfully delivering your passengers!


Episode 2 - Taiga Saejima
“Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts: Sapporo Edition feat. Weapon Distribution Santa”
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Eat tripe, learn what a Marten is, and giggle every time Saejima says “Baba-chan”!


Episode 3 - Haruka Sawamura
“Harukatsune Miku”
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Sing and dance as you learn to stand up for yourself, but also repeat things back to authority figures verbatim and follow countless instructions without any error or deviation of any kind!


Episode 4 - Shun Akiyama
“Inept Businessman Simulator: Osaka Expansion”
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Spend very little time establishing a new office because there’s so much DANCING and KICKING to do!


Episode 5 - Tatsuo Shinada
“Brothel Baseball Chocobo Racer”
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Whack balls, race chickens, and write smut to get out of CRIPPLING DEBT!


Episode 6 - All
"Yakuzavengers: Homecoming"
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Probably the most baffling, nonsensical climax of any Yakuza game so far, but that doesn't stop it from being hype!

The inescapable grip that Xiao Xiao animations and games had on me in 2002 cannot be overstated

This was quite possibly the coolest thing I had ever seen

I played the shareware version of this game countless times as a kid, and finally beat the whole thing a few days ago. Raptor was a formative game for little Alex, and while it's definitely cathartic to have finally completed it nearly 30 years later, the game definitely isn't the masterpiece I grew up thinking it was.

That being said, it's a solid little shmup, and I have SERIOUS ADVICE for anyone who has unfinished business with Raptor like I did.

Tip #1: For the first chunk of the game, the only weapons you should buy are the Always Equipped items. You should obviously pay to top up on health, but that's it. You'll acquire a handful of toggleable missiles just by playing through the game, and those will be plenty until you have enough money for your first big purchase. (More on that later)

Tip #2: When using multiple selectable missiles, the best way to murder everything in sight is to spam the Alt key to cycle through whatever weapons you've acquired for free while holding the spacebar. This will not only increase your rate of fire, it will make sure you're hitting enemies on the ground as well as in the air with more than just your machine gun. This is the strategy that works best until...

Tip #3: The OD55 Odin Laser Turret. This is going to be your best friend. There is a weaker gun that also auto-targets like the Odin does, but it fires machine gun rounds that take time to travel across the screen, while the Odin's laser is instantaneous. It's absolutely the best weapon in the game, and one of the only that allows you to do damage without being directly below an enemy. This costs half a million dollars, so it'll take a while to get there, but selling the selectable weapons you've acquired will go a long way towards funding your purchase.

Tip #4: Outer Regions Wave 3 has an extra shield very early in the level after just two little waves of enemy ships. It'll be on the left side, and you should grab it, then immediately abort the mission. Aborting does not restart your health or inventory, so you can replay the first 45 seconds of this level over and over to build up shield layers. If you buy shields from the store, you max out at 5 (and they're too expensive to justify until late in the game). However, if you acquire these shields through this specific level, you can hold as many as 11 of them. This is invaluable! I recommend getting to this level as soon as you're able, and then holding off on any Outer Regions progress beyond the first part of level 3 until you have completed the Bravo and Tango missions entirely.

Tip #5: Avoid any laser-wielding enemies like the plague, and don't be cocky with missiles either. You can tank those yellow circle shots without too much trouble, but some enemies fire like 8 missiles at once, and a single laser shot (only appears late in the game) will completely melt 2/3 of an entire layer of shields. DO NOT ENGAGE, IT IS NOT WORTH IT

Tip #6: When you've finally got enough money, your second weapon purchase should be the Twin Laser, which costs $1.75 Million, and is the most expensive weapon in the game. The big strategy here is to mainly use your auto-targeting laser until a boss shows up, and then waste the boss with the Twin Laser while it's entering the visible area, as bosses will not start firing until they arrive in the center of the screen. Once they begin firing, it's best to let the auto-targeting laser do the rest of the work while you focus on dodging shots.

Tip #7: There is one exception to that last rule. On the final wave of Outer Regions, the giant laser will be your best bet for most of the level, as there are too many enemies with too much health for your Odin to keep up with, so melt as many enemies as you can before they get the chance to fire at all.

I hope this helps someone, Raptor is definitely worth revisiting if you have any history with it, though I don't think it's a must-play for newcomers unless you watch some gameplay and are really into the vibe.

I picked this up because there seemed to be a consensus that this was the best Mario Party in ages, going back to basics after Mario Party 10 and Super Mario Party. I definitely agree that Superstars is better than having all players move around in a single car together, but to me, this doesn't feel like a Mario Party worth getting excited for. Having recently played each of these boards in their original titles via the NSO, I don't really see the appeal of Superstars, as it takes some of the simplest and least-engaging boards in the franchise, and eliminates their charming N64 aesthetic in favor of that standard "Generic Mario" visual style. The minigame collection is solid, but these boards really don't do it for me.

I've played this, Super Mario Party, and 1-7 with my kids over the past few years. This feels really weird to say, but... I feel like I need to get Mario Party 8. Maybe that was secretly the best one all along. At least it had interesting boards!

Using pointer controls with a Joy-Con makes me miss the Wiimote. The sensor bar was so crucial! There was a reference point at all times, so when you pointed at the screen, the cursor actually showed up where you wanted it to! The Joy-Con work well enough for short bursts of movement, like a shake or a gyro aim assist, but the pointing is just not happening.

So how should I go about collecting thousands of star bits to feed my hungry Luna babies?? I played through the game completely in handheld mode. Touch is completely accurate, but it presents its own challenges since you can't aim and use all the controller functions simultaneously. There were countless moments when I wanted to sweep my index finger across the screen to swipe up those delectable space candies, but I was in a boss fight or a sequence that didn't allow for pauses in movement or jumping. Oftentimes, I'd risk it and swipe anyway. I recklessly died dozens of times due to my insatiable greed, wistfully remembering the days of being able to run, jump, AND point my controller accurately at the screen all at once. I didn't appreciate the Wii Remote enough while I had it. And now, here I am, praying that the Switch 2 dock functions as a sensor bar for Joy-Con 2s with IR somehow crammed next to the shoulder buttons.

Anyhow uhhh this version of the game is very pretty and it's still a great time, shame about the pointer controls though!