It had been nearly nine years since I had played a Zelda game for the first time (in the intervening time, I beat the DSiWare title Four Swords Anniversary Edition, but that doesn’t really count), and I was finally ready for more. As my first “core” Zelda was, well, the first Zelda, for the second, I skipped the sidescrolling second title, The Adventure of Link on NES, in favor of the more traditional third, A Link to the Past. It also helped matters that I had A Link to the Past‘s 3DS sequel, A Link Between Worlds, in my backlog.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was originally released for the SNES in 1992 and has what might be the most misleading title in the entire Zelda franchise. Much to my surprise, especially given the plots of certain later entries in the franchise, there is no time travel in this game. As I learned later on, the title is a reference to the Zelda timeline; this story takes place before the events of the first two games. However, there’s no mention of this in either the game itself or the manual, so perhaps you can understand my confusion.
As with many other 16-bit RPGs when compared to their 8-bit predecessors, the plot in A Link to the Past is much more involved than in The Legend of Zelda, though still relatively simple at its core. Long ago, a Golden Land had to be sealed away by seven wise men due to the presence of evil. In the game’s present day, the wise men’s descendants are being kidnapped by the wizard Agahnim in a plot to undo the seal to the Golden Land, now called the Dark World. One night, Link receives a telepathic message from Princess Zelda, which is where his adventure begins. During its course, Link will collect three pendants, the Master Sword, and a certain pair of items which allow him to safely travel between the Dark World and his home dimension, the Light World. From that point, his quest shifts to the recovery of seven crystals, each tied to a wise man’s descendant (all of whom happen to be maidens) and the defeat of Ganon, the source of the evil which transformed the Golden Land.
Since every other site has been posting their “Best Games of the Decade” lists this season, why shouldn’t I? As this blog continues to celebrate its tenth anniversary, it’s only apt to look back upon my past ten years of gaming, particularly when it comes to games that were contemporary at the time. However, instead of doing the usual list followed by my top three games, this post will only focus on said three.
I hadn’t planned it that way. The original draft of this post contained a whopping twenty-five games, including the top three. There were even genre and aspect-specific awards, such as FPS of the Decade and Soundtrack of the Decade. However, even though there were some games I felt strongly enough about to merit their inclusion, the list as a whole felt imperfect (not to mention a lot of work) outside of the top three. Those I had settled on pretty quickly.
So, let’s talk about those three, and only those three, each of which was first released between 2010 and 2019. Please note that there may be some minor spoilers.
By the time 2019 was about halfway done, I wasn’t feeling too hot on the games I’d been playing. There’d been one or two standouts, but even more mediocrity and disappointment. Fortunately, things picked up again in the months to come, and once again, I found myself shuffling a few titles around to come up with this list.
Of the disappointments, I found myself underwhelmed by two much-loved sequels: Bayonetta 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2. Both were well-made and answered important mysteries presented by their predecessors, but neither of them had that special something to truly make them stand out from what came before.
As usual, every game here is one I’ve beaten during the past year, regardless of release date. For each game in the top ten, the title, developer/author, platform(s) I played it on, and the release date for said platform in my region has been included, along with the usual blurb about why I found this game so memorable.
It’s been a rough year for me in many ways, but nevertheless, I have managed to complete my most ambitious Holiday Card yet. So, without further ado, I would like to present the 2019 Holiday Card: In the Back: A Retail Adventure! This game ended up being so ambitious that, due to its size, it is only available via itch.io.
Another thing that’s special about In the Back is that it is my first, and so far only, playable Holiday Card which is actually holiday themed. In this first-person exploration game, you play a seasonal employee at a big-box store who is asked to check “in the back” for a hot new video game which is nowhere to be found on the shelves. If that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, be aware that “the back” of this store is unlike any you’ve seen before.
This year’s engine is GameGuru. Unfortunately, it is the most buggy, unreliable, and poorly-designed game engine that I’ve used thus far, and thus I can’t recommend it at all. I may write a review for it on Steam later on, but at any rate, if you’re interested in an engine to create an FPS, walking simulator, or similar game, avoid this one. Also, moreso than usual, please keep me abreast of any significant bugs you may run into.
One final note: I’ve already made up my mind that there will be no Holiday Card in 2020. The coming year will be a busy one for me, and aside from that, I just needed a little break.
Please enjoy this year’s Holiday Card, and I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!
“It’s a lovely day in the village, and you are a horrible goose.” This delightful bit of ad copy aptly describes Untitled Goose Game, which came out this past Friday on the Switch and at the Epic Games Store. I picked up the Switch version, having been charmed by it the past couple of PAXes, and was not disappointed. It’s a wholesome and funny nugget of gaming goodness suitable for just about anyone.
As the horrible goose mentioned in the game’s description, I annoyed an assortment of humans in a small town, crossing off to-do list entries along the way. Tasks include stealing items and bringing them to various places; inconveniencing people by trapping them, making them fall, getting them wet, and so on; and just generally being a nuisance. Figuring out how to do some of these things can take a bit of thinking and experimenting, but there are no time limits or other significant obstacles, so progressing through the game is a reasonably leisurely affair. The graphics are simple, flat designs, albeit very well animated ones, and the piano soundtrack, which alters depending on the action on-screen, fits this look perfectly. It’s a short game, but one that’s very well paced and realized, and it can be as much fun to watch as it is to play.
Untitled Goose Game has some bonus objectives after the credits roll, and its these goals which I’m currently working through at the moment. I’m also continuing on with Pandora’s Tower on the Wii and Shadow Warrior on PC, both of which I started over a week ago.
I think it was in Uwajimaya in Seattle’s International District the day before PAX West that I heard, for the first time ever, the original Village People version of “Go West”. It was pretty ironic, considering that earlier this year, we had finished Going West and moved back east, and this Seattle trip was our first return to PST Land since then. We were there, as we had been during the past several Labor Day Weekends, for PAX West (formerly PAX Prime), this time with the added bonus of jetlag.
Panic’s upcoming experimental handheld, the Playdate, was one of the few wholly new things at the show.
This was our eighth West Coast PAX, and our ninth overall, and as usual, it was interesting to see the current state of video gaming reflected in convention form. In the Expo Hall, there was the usual spread of booths from companies both big and small, albeit with two notable absences. Bethesda is one of the more reliable presences at PAX West, but they weren’t on the show floor this year; as if to make up for it, their big fall release, DOOM Eternal, was present at the Google Stadia booth. More startling, however, was the lack of a booth for Microsoft, headquartered in nearby Redmond. While in past years, they could typically be found adjacent to Sony’s plush PlayStation booth, there was no official presence from either Xbox or Microsoft Game Studios.
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