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Monthly Roundup: July 2022

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Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert
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Video Game: Slay the Spire
Amazing free DLC that more than doubles the content from Slay the Spire! A review for the Downfall mod.
Submitted by nerman8r:
Downfall was already the best content mod for Slay the Spire, and Hermit was the second best. Now you can play them both without learning how to use mods! Downfall adds eight (!) new characters that are fun and balanced, and a new game mode where everything is turned upside down. Every event from the original game is re-framed from the baddies' point of view and it's hilarious.

One of my favourite characters is Snecko, whose themes are chaos and using cards from other characters' pools (you choose three characters at the start of a run.) Automaton lets you build "function" cards that combine three other cards. The Gremlins have you playing with the five little ones (and sometimes Nob) with their own special abilities and synergies, and switching between them to your advantage. Hermit plays around with Srikes, Defends and Curses, if you ever wanted to make a good deck full of garbage, he's got you covered! (If anyone wants descriptions of the other classes, let me know!)
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Video Game: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Reinvigorating the Final Fantasy series and raising the bar for MMOs
Submitted by ghostpants:
With only a couple of exceptions, Final Fantasy XIV is the only video game I’ve played this year. If you had told me that by July, 99% of my gaming time had been spent with one game, I’d scoff at the suggestion. I’ve always been a gamer that enjoys variety. Sometimes to the point where I will avoid longer games in order to play various shorter titles. And to be sure, there are a number of games I do hope to play this year. But something about FF14 has captured and maintained my interest unlike any game ever has, frankly. Most surprisingly, playing the game has yet to feel like an obligation, which for many people is a major downside to playing MMOs. Considering what I know about my own tastes and habits, my experience of the game has been the exact opposite of how, on paper, it should have played out. I certainly shouldn’t have played in excess of 400 hours or spent so much time developing a thorough understanding of fights, roles, and rotations. This is the kind of game that I want to like but ultimately put down well before it hits its stride. It absolutely shouldn’t be forcing me to reconsider my longstanding top-10 games of all time list. And yet, here I am, seven months into 2022, and FF14 has not only provided a ton of interesting and engaging content to explore and restored my hope for the long running franchise, but it has exclusively fulfilled my gaming needs unlike any game I’ve ever played.
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Video Game: Mario Strikers: Battle League
I Waited 15 Years for This?
Submitted by MeepleandtheMoose:
I am so disappointed by Mario Strikers: Battle League. I’m so thankful that I borrowed this from the library and didn’t actually spend any of my hard-earned money on this game.


This game starts with such promise. The training mode shows all kinds of cool skills that could theoretically raise the skill ceiling and make this such a great experience. There’s a limited number of characters in the game, but the gear they include allow you to tweak their stats to tailor to your game play style. The stat changes provided by gear are net-zero though, every point added to a stat takes away an equal number of points from another stat, so there isn't a good reason to dive into it unless you specifically want to make a character overpowered in a single stat at the cost of all the others. It’s not an interesting, exciting, or engaging aspect of the game.
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Video Game: Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender

Video Game: Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Video Game: Batman: Arkham Origins – Cold, Cold Heart

Video Game: Batman: Arkham Origins – Cold, Cold Heart

Video Game: Total War: WARHAMMER II – Tiktaq'to

Video Game: Hearts of Iron IV - Death or Dishonor


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From gallery of ZombieBoard
Browsing Games - ...a simpler quest for vintage space rocks...
Posted by ZombieBoard:
I still think The Quest for the Greatest is a great way to experience the evolution of video game history by playing the best of the best. The problem with it, other than the available time to actually play them, is that my initial self-imposed quest rules were too ambitious. And I'll not even tell you some of the more flamboyant ideas I had to share this journey with you.

So I'm changing the rules.
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From gallery of Elida
One Single Meeple - When tabletop is not the option
Posted by Elida:
As I have spoken of previously, I have a chronic affliction that may affect me quite badly physically. That means that when I am at home I am not always up for a tabletop game. It may even go days without me playing games at the table. Some of my difficulties is sitting over time, especially when I have my bad days, focus, the basic ability to keep track of what I am doing. And then there`s the energy.

Good thing there`s video games, too! Years ago I had a cousin of mine install Steam on my computer. He did it in the hopes I would go deep into video game country. It took me years to even get there. But now I am finally sitting pretty on a collection of almost 40 video games, and a fair few on my wishlist. They are nice for entertainment when I can`t seem to get to the table for a physical game.
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Random Ruminations - Hardcore, Casual, or What?
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
This VGG thread about hardcore-versus-casual gaming got me thinking. Clearly those two terms are insufficient to describe the kinds of gamers that make up the gaming world.

So, off the top of my head, I'm starting to see four, or maybe eight, basic kinds of gamers.

Question 1 is, How much is your heart into gaming? That is, do you shrug it off as just an occasional pastime or amusement, or do you feel it's the most wonderful part of your life? Or are you somewhere in between? Which end of that spectrum do you gravitate toward?
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Monthly Roundup: June 2022

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Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert
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Video Game: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen – Tactical Legacy Pack
"fan service" done right
Submitted by Aarontu:
The Tactical Legacy Pack is a piece of DLC for XCOM 2 that the game's lead designer (Jake Solomon) has described as a "gift for the fans" of the XCOM series. It requires the War of the Chosen expansion on top of the base XCOM 2 game, and also has only been released on PC. The new XCOMs love making callbacks and references to previous XCOM and X-COM games, and this DLC is no exception. It's a bit fan-servicey, but it also adds some genuinely great stuff to the game (in the opinion of this XCOM series fan, at least).

The Tactical Legacy Pack includes 4 mini campaigns in a game mode called "Legacy Ops", each with 7 set missions that you must complete with a set roster of soldiers (there is no strategy layer between missions in these mini campaigns). They are supposed to tell the story of how Bradford helped get XCOM back together after the aliens took over. It features a number of maps from XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within, and taped up and battered versions of the weapons and armor from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You have to play the campaigns with "Ironman" mode enabled, but there are pretty much no mission timers, and the music is a mix of XCOM 2 and selected tracks from XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within, so the gameplay feels pretty reminiscent of the previous XCOM, but with enemies and extra powerups from XCOM 2.
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Video Game: Slay the Spire

Video Game: Might and Magic I: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum

Video Game: Mean Streets

Video Game: Project Justice

Video Game: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

Video Game: Cat Cafe Manager


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Solitary Soundings - Outgrowing Games
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
I guess I've gone through countless changes during my life. And yet I have what another VGGeek calls a present bias--an irrational sense that the way I am is the way I've always been and always will be. So, when I think about gaming, I expect to continue enjoying the games I've had fun with all my life. When I look closer, though, I find that's not the case.

I'm not up for cataloguing all the changes in my gaming preferences and habits, but one in particular stands out for me today: I seem to have developed a (probably permanent) distaste for heavy (complex) games.

I enjoyed both light and heavy games in my youth, but in my twenties and thirties, I could delve deeply into an extremely hard-to-learn game and happily lose myself in it for months or years. I've mentioned my fifteen-year affair with ASL many times, but there were a number of other such prolonged infatuations as well. Usually, in each of those cases, I thought I was embarking on a lifelong project that would grow ever more complex and thus more and more satisfying.
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Rules of Play - This one's also for Karl
Posted by pusherman42:
I thought a lot about Deep Rock Galactic's mechanics and design while writing my last post, but a few random thoughts didn't fit well into the theme of camaraderie. So here's a bunch of little things.

1) Beer is fun, but worthless

I wrote about how much I like the beer system in DRG in my last post: it's thematically appropriate and helps strengthen player bonds. And players are incentivized to engage with it because it (ostensibly) gives buffs.

But the whole system needs some rebalancing.

First, the buffs range from completely useless to unnecessary nice-to-haves. None of them are going to hugely make or break your session. You'll get more gold one mission. Or have a little more health. Maybe you carry things a little faster.
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Franchise: Dragon Age
Magpie Gamer - Dawn of the Seeker
Posted by Forbidding:
Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, or "Dragon Age: Crusade of the Blood Mage" in some regions, is a 2012 Japanese animated film based on the video game series Dragon Age. It was co-produced by BioWare (game developer), EA (game publisher) and anime distribution company Funimation Entertainment. The film explores the backstory of Cassandra Pentaghast, a major character in the Dragon Age universe, and how she became known as the Right Hand of the Divine.
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Monthly Roundup: May 2022

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Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert
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Video Game: Europa Universalis IV - The Cossacks
Cossack Estate
Submitted by Rindis:
The seventh expansion for EU IV largely concentrated on the internal politics of countries, adding a whole new internal mechanic for players to balance along with everything else. At the same time, there was a focus on central Asia and the horsemen of the steppes (following the lead of CK II: Horse Lords released five months earlier), who also got their own mechanics.

Patch 1.14 also featured a slightly revised launcher, which allows you to sign into to your Paradox (not Steam) account to participate in leaderboards and the like. The patch was was released on December 1, 2015 alongside The Cossacks, with revision patch 1.15 following on January 27, 2016.
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Video Game: Cruise for a Corpse

Video Game: Flight of the Intruder

Video Game: Fields of Glory

Video Game: Flight of the Intruder

Video Game: Lothar and the Djinn

Video Game: Fire-Brigade: The Battle for Kiev – 1943


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From gallery of Harblnger
Everything that sucks! And some things that don't - All hands on deck!
Posted by Harblnger:
I was wondering whether I should incorporate this into an upcoming "New to the shelf"-post, but then again, I thought that this might give me enough to work with for a dedicated article, so... yeah. That.

I know that I should probably save some money, what with the property purchase looming large, but I'm an idiot and I shouldn't be trusted with money (incidentally, D. asked to be officially inducted in this exclusive circle when he sent me a picture of 22 BluRays that he had recently acquired and the comment "I believe I watched like... two movies all month long"... so welcome!), so I got myself a friggin' Steam Deck.
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A Gnome's Ponderings - Mario Maker 2 is an art studio
Posted by Gnomekin:
Our son likes to create his own goals and personal narratives in video games.

Enter Mario Maker 2.

Mario Maker is a virtual construction set that lets you build your very own platformer levels for Nintendo’s mascot to go through. More than that, it has a variety of different art settings so you can live as Mario through the ages.

Man but this thing was made with our child in mind.

One of my earliest computer game experiences was Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set. And, to be honest, I suspect that is a game/tool box/experience that would still hold up today. And the Mario Maker series is exactly like it for Super Mario games.
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Rules of Play - Now You Just Know Things
Posted by pusherman42:
This morning I played Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a fun and light turn-based tactical shooter that I highly recommend. I'm about halfway through the main campaign, but this morning I went back and replayed old levels to find missed items and get some coins for re-beating the levels with a better result.

And I painted the Mushroom Kingdom red. My first time through here was hard-fought. But this time? Luigi gets 3 overwatch shots out of turn, Mario can jump on enemies' heads, Peach can chuck a rubber ducky grenade and then heal everyone. Everyone's got more health, more movement, better weapons, upgraded abilities. The poor rabbids didn't stand a chance.
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The "Monthly Roundup" is a weekly overview of interesting things happening around VideoGameGeek.com. It is a way to highlight great content from around the Geek.

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Thu Jun 2, 2022 10:28 pm
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Monthly Roundup: April 2022

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Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert
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Video Game: Tanktics: Computer Game of Armored Combat on the Eastern Front

Video Game: Star Wars Battlefront Renegade Squadron

Video Game: SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike

Video Game: SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike

Video Game: Wunder

Video Game: AV8B Harrier Assault


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Video Game: Elden Ring
Gaming Pond - So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!
Posted by [user=GeorgW)]GeorgW[/user]:
I haven't been playing very many board games this past month. The main culprit is Elden Ring, but also some general life stuff. So I figured that I may as well blog about the game I've played the most!

A game made for me, personally? I love open world games and tight and complex combat systems, but never imagined that a combination of the two would work so very well!

Pros:
I should start this by saying that this is my first ever From Software game. I've watched some gameplay of Bloodborne and played for 10 minutes at a friend's house but that's about it. I've been wary of the unforgiving nature of them and the time-commitment, but something about this game just drew me in. Let's just say I'm instantly interested in seeking out and playing all their other games, at least if I ever feel done with Elden Ring (ER).
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A Gnome's Ponderings - Mario and Dungeons and Dragons don’t mix
Posted by Gnomekin:
One of the dangers of years of playing D&D (or probably a bunch of other games) is the urge to figure out what the class and level of a fictional character would be. I remember watching Brotherhood of the Wolf with gaming buddies and we were constantly adjusting our stats of Fronsac as we watched.

Of course, TSR was as bad as any of us. An early column of Dragon Magazine called Giants in the Earth was literally just statting out whatever fictional characters they thought they could get away with. (No Lord of the Rings because the Tolkien estate was known to be litigious but I did find out about Karl Wagner’s Kane because of it)

For the most part, I’ve grown out of this tendency. But I’ve found myself thinking about how D&D would interpret Mario.
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Character: Grigori
Magpie Gamer - Music to Level Up Your Day
Posted by Forbidding:
I don't know much about musical theory, nor am I a musically inclined person, but I love video game soundtracks. They can be a powerful listening experience in their own right, or be as evocative as the scores composed for film. I have seen and contributed to many community threads about great soundtracks over the years, and originally had a GeekList for sharing my personal favorite video game scores. For management reasons, I am moving that GeekList to a blog.
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The "Monthly Roundup" is a weekly overview of interesting things happening around VideoGameGeek.com. It is a way to highlight great content from around the Geek.

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Monthly Roundup: March 2022

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Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert
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Video Game: Assassin's Creed
Review After Replay
Submitted by TheBigGeordieGeek:
So I have decided after my recent play though of Assassins Creed, which you can see on YouTube, to give you a review.

First off let me give you a bit of background to my relationship with Assassins Creed. I first bought the game when I got a PlayStation 3 on release, and I actually ended up trading it in very quickly because it felt dull and repetitive.

But about a year later I was given it on Xbox 360 and it was a very different beast, it was a lot more enjoyable and the reason for that was achievements.

Those dull repetitive things now became things I wanted to do because I wanted the achievements, I spent a lot of time in that game trying to score as much G as possible.

And the story got me hooked as well, and it still is a very good story.

Anyway so how does it hold up from a modern perspective, well it’s a bit middling.
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Video Game: Far Cry 2
A Review of A Classic
Submitted by TheBigGeordieGeek:
Far Cry 2 is a game I first played back in 2009, very briefly on the Xbox 360.

I didn’t my last long, it was frustrating and really hard and just felt too much like hard work.

Anyway I realised that though bundles and deals I owned all of the Far Cry games and decided that I had best actually play them!

So I recently finished the original Far Cry, the review of which you can see here.

And thus I cracked on with its sequel, Far Cry 2.

To start with, it’s absolutely and completely different from it predecessor. Whilst Far Cry was a run of the mill Sci-Fi shooter, albeit with a very high difficulty level, Far Cry 2 is an open world game very much based in reality.

So how about we start with the positives.
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Video Game: Journey to the Savage Planet
Puzzle Platformer Mediocre Shooter
Submitted by wizcreations:
This game opens with the promise of fun exploration and discovery, and for the first two thirds of the game, that is exactly what it delivers. Unfortunately, what began as a puzzle platformer metroidvania concludes with repetitive shooting at glowing weak spots on far too similar enemies.

The game is split into three areas that grow progressively larger. The first area is entirely unguided exploration, assisted by new gadgets as you discover resources and fauna that can aide your tech. Your instructions literally are: "Go out and scan stuff, and if you see a hard-to-reach area, make sure you reach it! That's your job!" A teleportation system ensures you can always return to one of several known positions, which encourages you to explore every area of the territory knowing that you can easily return to take a different fork in the trail. The area is full of environmental puzzles that strongly encourage exploration and reward you for exploring. Combat in the first area is almost entirely optional. There are also a number of optional challenges "For Science!" that give you access to additional gear upgrades. One of these science experiences, for example, is to fall over 50 meters without dying. The first region concludes with a boss fight acting as a gate to the next area. This boss requires you to use all the movement abilities you have gained thus far to dodge are of effect attacks and stay out of the pool of lava beneath your feet. It's a pretty cool setup when you first encounter it.
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Video Game: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Video Game: ReThink 4 | Evolved

Video Game: Olija

Video Game: Journey to the Savage Planet

Video Game Compilation: Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

Video Game: TUNIC


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A Gnome's Ponderings - I want to explore Kirby’s forgotten land
Posted by Gnomekin:
While I am more of a table top gamer, I married into a video gaming family. Nintendo in particular. Before my marriage, I couldn’t have picked Kirby out of a lineup of Space Invaders aliens and now I’ve played at least three different Kirby games.

(Kirby is a silent but heroic pink blob who can gain the powers of enemies who eats alive. And he is somehow adorable instead of a soul-destroying horror)

So, when the demo for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, every member of the household who isn’t a cat played through it. I had to look up to find this out but this is the first Kirby that’s a 3-D platformer, as opposed to a 2-D one.

And if you’re like me, you need someone to explain that a platformer is a game where you follow a path full of obstacles, puzzles and enemies. And a 3-D ones means the developers can make the environment more complex.
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Solitary Soundings - Back to the Tabletop--Maybe
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
This particular blog was originally about board gaming. At some point I drifted back into video gaming and blogged about that instead. Then VGG came along, and I started a new blog there, just for video games. I never could keep the two modes of gaming separate, though.

The thing is, it's all the same to me. I play strategy games almost exclusively, and it's very rare that I play a game with anyone else. So, I'm either playing a single-player strategy game on the tabletop, or I'm doing it on the computer. The video games I prefer are all modeled on board wargames; the computer just saves me the trouble of setting up a game and taking it down again later (oh, and it also does a lot of number crunching and enforces rules).

Anyhow, Saturday was my birthday, and my wife surprised me with a brand-new copy of Space Empires 4X. I've read a lot of good things about it since it came out, and it sounds like just my kind of game. So I've gotten as far as clearing my table and unpacking the components.

Curiously, it looks like sort of a board-game homage to the computer game Master of Orion. Even the title and back-of-the-box text allude to Alan Emrich's coined term "4X," which has now been overused and misused for many years.
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Irreducible - Inscryption Blew me Away
Posted by Relenzo:
I didn’t buy Inscryption when it came out. I’d played the developer’s previous game Pony Island, and it was…fine. More on that later. Thankfully, friends don’t let friends miss Inscryption, and a good friend bought me the game as a way of paying back for his bowling-shoe rental. His recommendation—actually two recommendations, if you count his cousin—got me to install Inscryption as soon as I received it on Steam.

You don’t need me to tell you that the game is good. Hopefully. You have the whole internet telling you it’s good. Pony Island’s one trick was that it was a haunted videogame. That’s about all it had going for it. It was a neat trick, but on its own, it wasn’t necessarily enough to keep me enthralled for two hours. Each of the minigames—various versions of the “game” in the story, and representations of messing with the code beneath it—were, ultimately, forgettable. And I know there were characters, technically, but I find I can’t remember them at all.
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Fri Apr 1, 2022 6:12 am
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Monthly Roundup: February 2022

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Video Game: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV puts the "RPG" back in MMORPG
Submitted by ghostpants:
I’m quite surprised to be writing this, as I never thought an MMORPG would ever capture my attention. I’ve tried World of Warcraft in the past—several times, in fact—and it just never gripped me. Considering it was, for many years, the gold standard by which the genre was measured, it seemed unlikely that any alternative titles would capture my interest as well. I had long written off the genre as a result. However, something about Final Fantasy XIV caught my attention recently, and after watching a dozen or so YouTube videos on it, I decided to try it out. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect to quickly drop it like I’ve done with WoW more than once. But I’ve frequently found that timing plays a key role in whether or not a game “clicks” with me, and I suppose the timing is right, because FFXIV and I have definitely clicked to the tune of nearly 100 hours over the past few weeks.
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Video Game: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
One of the best survival horror VR games
Submitted by Aarontu:
Many virtual reality games feel like they are either tech demos or smaller arcade-like experiences, so it's really nice to see smaller developers put out larger games that were designed to take advantage of the uniquely immersive medium of VR. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is one of those satisfying, larger, story-driven VR games. It's a well-done survival horror FPS, set in New Orleans in the Walking Dead universe, with an art style that is reminiscent of the Telltale Walking Dead game (kind of like an animated graphic novel). Basically, you are a wanderer that just came into town amidst a war between two factions. One group is "the Tower", who mostly lives in a large tower complex in downtown New Orleans; the top floors of the tower in the distance are lit up at night, and they have strict rules and kick out anybody who steps out of line. The other group is "the Reclaimed", who are mostly survivors exiled from the Tower who banded together and preach about individual freedoms, and also they wear creepy masks and practice ritualistic violent revenge. Pretty much everyone is pretty messed up and does some pretty messed up things.
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Video Game: Malebolgia

Video Game: Writers

Video Game: Ghost of Tsushima

Video Game: Dyson Sphere Program


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A Gnome's Ponderings - Our child forces us to find out about Among Us
Posted by Gnomekin:
Our son recently became enamored with an Among Us plush, which meant that we had to find out what Among Us is.

… So, let me get this straight. It’s a video game where Mafia/Werewolf is the core mechanic?

Oh, who am I kidding? I bet it’s one of over a thousand video games that uses the hidden traitor(s) mechanic. The only reason I don’t know about any of them is because it isn’t used in Animal Crossing.

And the two minutes I spent researching Among Us via google made it clear that it wasn’t just pointing fingers and accusing each other. There is also other stuff you have to get done or lose.
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From gallery of RavingLoon
An Asylum of Loons - I played some pinball recently, and some other things...
Posted by RavingLoon:
o, on Wednesday (I know, I'm late) I found myself not needing to go to work and decided to head on up to the Roanoke Pinball Museum and Starcade. The Pinball Museum (actually a pinball arcade, but the name "museum" lets you pretend that you are doing something educational) hosts a little over 60 machines ranging from 1930's pre-flipper machines to modern Stern machines, and the Starcade has a large number of arcade machines and games such as Skee-Ball, air hockey, and that basketball one, once again running the gambit from early to modern.

I'm a pretty big pinball fan- I'm not (even remotely) good at it, but I just love the sounds and the visuals of pinball. I've played on an all-electric table once, and a few times on PC, but those are absolutely horrid in comparison to the real thing. So a few hours playing pinball on a variety of machines is in my opinion an absolutely wonderful way to spend time- I entered with the goal of playing every working machine there at least once, and in that I was sucessful- though by the end (a bunch of modern machines, which are mostly my least favorites and I had saved for last) I was playing very sloppily. Anyway, after a little over three hours I left the pinball "museum" and headed down the hall to the Starcade.
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My 2022 Videogame Challenge Experience - No Accounting for Taste
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
So the saying goes (and IIRC from a college class, it was Kant who first pointed out that his philosophy couldn't address purely aesthetic or subjective matters). Still, I keep trying to make sense of my own preferences and find a pattern to them.

Master of Orion

One recent experience, mentioned in earlier posts to this blog, had to do with Master of Orion. It has been a longtime favorite, but I've had at least a few not-so-pleasant gaming sessions; and just a couple weeks ago I was about ready to abandon the game permanently. I didn't, though; I played again, had a great time with it, and decided it's still a keeper.

Some so-so experiences in the past have been with truncated games. In MOO, there are periodic elections; and the bigger your population, the more votes you get. If a race gets big enough or attracts votes from other players, it can instantly win the game. That's mostly a plus, as it saves the human player from having to always conquer every planet in the galaxy. That would make for a tedious and prolonged endgame. However, it also makes for an unsatisfying finish when you're all geared up for conquest and then suddenly win via an election.
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Monthly Roundup: January 2022

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Video Game: Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
Literary Liberties
Submitted by Forbidding:
Set in a steampunk re-imagining of Victorian era London, the story follows a homunculus named Cardia who lives day to day in an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of London, awaiting the return of her father. Created with a body that is acidic to the touch, she must live in isolation to avoid harming anyone. However, her quiet solitude is interrupted one day when the Royal Guard show up and try to take her away. Their attempt is thwarted by the mysterious thief Arsène Lupin, who takes Cardia to a safe location. Together, they attempt to rid her of the acid in her body and locate her father - the genius scientist behind London's current golden age.
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Video Game: VGA Planets 3

Video Game: VGA Planets 3

Video Game: Battlestar Galactica Deadlock

Video Game: VGA Planets 3

Video Game: Dante's Inferno (1986)

Video Game: Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura


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From gallery of Harblnger
Everything that sucks! - 2021, Year In Review
Posted by Harblnger:
4. TOEM
Nothing super-mindblowing, just a cute little photography-centric adventure across a couple of lovingly designed worlds. "Toem" isn't a very deep or very long game, but I had a lot of fun exploring every nook and cranny of the game-worlds and chasing after interesting subjects with my camera.
3. Persona 5 Strikers
I had high hopes for this game. Were they misplaced? Did it disappoint? Well... I mean, it was clear from the beginning that it wouldn't be a second Persona 5. So if I had expected that, it would have been my own fault. So... no, I had a good time with Persona 5 Strikers. The story was good and (everybody together now) it was cool to get to spend some more time with the characters from Persona 5. The style of gameplay wasn't necessarily something I relished, but I managed to pull through and also generally enjoyed it. So if you're like me and want to know what happened after the events of Persona 5 and can also deal with what I believe is called "Musou-games", go for it. It's pretty cool.
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A Gnome's Ponderings - Mario Kart: because life is serious
Posted by Gnomekin:
We used Christmas as an excuse to introduce our son to the world of Mario Kart. Which had the same result as introducing him to chocolate or French fries. Instant hit.

Someone once described Prince of Tennis as Dragonball Z as middle-school tennis and taken up to eleven. Well, Mario Kart is Dragon Ball Z as go kart racing and kept at ten. (Because Prince of Tennis is INSANE)

Mario Kart combines go kart racing and open warfare and drops the cast of the Mario franchise (and now some other Nintendo characters) It is silly and frenetic and random as all get out.

I am aware that there are some very realistic, very detailed racing simulators out there. Because I am one of those people who actually reads the editorials in Penny Arcade. Mario Kart is the opposite end of the spectrum. Even gravity is optional (although physics is always required)
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Solitary Soundings - Warlords and Three Points of a Triad
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
My wife and I had a blow-up yesterday morning. When you've been married for over thirty years, you've more or less figured out what those things are about--the same old bit of incompatibility as always.

Then, this morning (my wife and I are getting along quite harmoniously today), I played a tough game of Warlords II Deluxe and won. And now I love the game and feel great about myself too. After playing strategy games for decades, I pretty well know what that's about too.

I've delved into various personality-typing systems over the years. I'm not particularly attached to any of them; I suppose they're all flawed. But reading about them has led me to do a lot of observing and self-reflecting, so I've gradually formed my own way of sorting people out and orienting myself to them.
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Monthly Roundup: December 2021

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Video Game: Far Cry
Many Years Later
Submitted by TheBigGeordieGeek:
I literally just finished playing this today.

I originally bought the game, way back in 2004 when it first came out, but alas my poor old GeForce2 MX400 simply could not handle the game.

I was lucky to get 25fps back then and the game simply would not load past level 3, just crashing out.

Thus the DVD was put in a box and set aside until earlier this year when going though some stuff to get rid of I found it, although my current PC was probably gonna be alright playing it, I did not have a DVD drive in it, and it was put aside again.

But my pal who works at Ubisoft got a me a cheap copy of Far Cry 6 and despite having owned, 5 of the main games at that point, I had actually never completed one!

So I thought, sod it, let’s give this a try, and I took advantage of the Black Friday sales on Ubisoft and bought it, along with Far Cry 2 which I also only owned on DVD.
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beta impressions
Submitted by Bruno Grigori:
It's not easy being a fan of Piranha Bytes. But it's probably even harder to be Piranha Bytes itself when its best, most iconic game was released right from the start. After that, it was sometimes better, sometimes worse, but never as good. The first Elex was a good example of "sometimes better", but to appreciate the new ideas, gameplay finetuning and the dark, original SF plot, it was necessary to spend several hours before one was truly hooked.

It is no different with its second part, especially since in terms of the plot it seems to be the "sometimes worse" – there is no earthquake at the beginning, there is no sense of mystery and no need to get even. At the beginning, the player is introduced to the game world and the situation so thoroughly that he has the impression that he knows how it will all end. The above is summed up by an awkward narrative, exposition dialogues, a son's plot that feels forced, and the practical impossibility of plunging into this world if you haven't played the previous part. One has to struggle through the introduction believing that it is worth it.
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Video Game: Metro Exodus
An immersive narrative shooter that melds open worlds with more linear storytelling
Submitted by Aarontu:
I love the atmosphere and immersive aspects of the Metro series, and Exodus is probably the most enjoyable Metro game, yet, even though it took the series in a bit of a different direction than the first two Metro games. If you aren't familiar with the series, in these games, you play as Artyom, a member of a group of soldiers known as Rangers who live in the metro tunnels and stations under Moscow, set some time after a nuclear war has ended civilization as we know it and forced survivors underground due to the radiation and inhospitable conditions on the surface. They are immersive narrative FPS games, with worldbuilding and storytelling done in a manner similar to the Half-Life games, and with a focus on survival and paying attention to your surroundings. The HUD/UI in-game is either very minimalistic or non-existent, with visual indicators on your weapons, wrist, gas mask, and clipboard to show you things that might normally be part of a HUD.

As for Metro Exodus, the claustrophobic, underground environments similar to the Moscow metro of the previous games are still present, but this time, you'll be spending a lot more time in more open, above-ground areas that have much more of an open-world feel. It's a big change from the feel of previous games, but it's pretty neat. Some areas really feel like a modern STALKER-like experience, except with actually functional stealth options, and much less variety in loot or things to find. Even the ambient sounds in the open areas are really reminiscent of STALKER (which is high praise). They're really well done. The graphics are amazing, too, which also helps the environments come alive.
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Video Game: Dragon Age II

Video Game: Shin Megami Tensei V

Video Game: ELEX II

Video Game: ELEX II

Video Game: ELEX II

Video Game: Field of Glory II


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Too Many Games!!! - Best Gaming Experiences of 2021
Posted by SeanXor:
The Game: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
This is absolutely one of my best video game experiences of the year. When my son was weeks old we found one of the best ways to get him to sleep was to hold him while bouncing on an exercise ball. We also experimented with playing music and we found the music that seemed to calm him the best was the theme song from Halo. I spent a lot of nights holding him, listening to the song on repeat thinking about how someday the two of us could play through the Halo games together on co-op. This year that finally became a reality. We technically started the original Halo in November, but playing those games together has dominated the month of December. we just finished the fight in Halo 3 a couple of days ago. If I am being honest the experience is everything I had hoped it would be.
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Random Ruminations - Beginning of a Purge?
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
This weekend has been a turning point for me in the area of video gaming. I've been putting some thought into what to line up for the 2022 Videogame Challenge (an annual VGG event I'm new to), and it has prompted me to look at my games in a new way. I never plan ahead, and now I'm doing that--considering which games I'd choose to fill the year up with.

I have 21 games installed and displayed in GOG Galaxy. The other 200-odd games I keep uninstalled (sometimes even hidden) so as not to be distracted by them. So, first I looked over my 21-game display.

Civilization

Oddly enough, I had both Civilization V and Civilization VI installed. I'd been trying to decide which I liked better, but it was more or less a toss-up, so left them both there and moved on to playing other games. Now, however, I got to thinking about Civ IV. Some fans say it's the best in the series, and I can believe it. So, why did I uninstall it, then?
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Gaming_Geek_Girl - Top 3 MMOs to play in 2021
Posted by Helen_007:
#1 Guild Wars 2

This is the game I’ve been playing on and off since beta, so it’s over nine years old. It’s pretty crazy to even think about that and this MMO not only has really awesome graphics but has fully voiced storylines as well as almost action combat feel to the combat system. It’s still tab targeted, so you’re gonna be expecting a lot of the stuff that you’re used to in games like wow and all that but has a hell of a lot more active of a combat system than anything you’ve seen in a game like world of warcraft for example. Guild Wars 2 is also free to play, so you can immediately just go to their website, download it, you will have full access to the core game and then whenever you really feel like it once you actually get to end game. You could buy the expansions to continue on in that story and everything, but it’s completely up to you. You can totally play this game completely for free without ever spending a dime and the coolest thing about this is that they have in their cash shop a way for you to transition in-game gold into the premium currency which is called gems. So, you could technically play this game completely for free by just literally saving your money within the game and then buying some of the dlcs and all that. I’m not sure if you can buy the expansions directly through that but I guess it’s worth investigating. I’m going to be making a more in-depth video on the cash shop soon.
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The "Monthly Roundup" is a weekly overview of interesting things happening around VideoGameGeek.com. It is a way to highlight great content from around the Geek.

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Monthly Roundup: November 2021

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Video Game: Stellaris
The wonders of outer space at the prices of a NASA contractor
Submitted by sbszine:
Stellaris is an epic sci fi game cutting across many genres. It's a 4X, an RTS, a grand strategy game, an RPG, and probably a few more things I haven't thought of. There are numerous overpriced expansions such that buying the whole thing will cost you hundreds of dollars, and the complexity level with everything added in makes it pretty intimidating for newcomers. Performance and AI are patchy, and the developers are constantly tinkering and making drastic rules changes. Despite all this, it's a fantastic game that I have sunk many hours into and heartily recommend.
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Video Game: Aven Colony
Not good for me
Submitted by wizcreations:
TLDR: The game is missing highly necessary quality-of-life features to make management enjoyable and it's missing the depth and variety of strategy to make it worthwhile to play again and again.

Aven Colony offers pretty graphics but lackluster play. It's a city builder that impedes your city construction every step of the way. You're not able to plan your layout. You're not told what a building will do until after you build it (and even then it's only a partial description). Information is hidden several layers deep into several different sub menus, making it a time-consuming mess to find out why you're suddenly short on one resource or another. There's a HUGE learning curve before you'd be able to instinctively know the information the game tries to hide from you.
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Video Game: Donut County
A quirky and funny experience I won't soon forget
Submitted by ghostpants:
Donut County is a quirky adventure-puzzle game with a cast of anthropomorphic animals and a human girl. In this game, you control a hole. Yes, a hole in the ground. You move the hole around each level, forcing random items—and people—to fall into it. As you collect items, the hole gets bigger, allowing you to collect larger objects. When you clear the level of its contents, it’s on to the next one. This simplistic gameplay wound up being far more enjoyable than I ever thought it would be. It’s oddly satisfying to watch the hole grow or seeing how quickly you can get through a level. While most of the game is just getting objects into the hole, there are some occasional puzzle elements as well. At some point, you earn a catapult attachment for the hole which will allow you to launch things out of it. This is one of the primary ways puzzles are solved, such as having players launch an egg out of the hole to flip a switch. The puzzles are creative enough to force a moment of thought, but they’re never difficult. I think the game benefits from this lack of difficulty though.
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Video Game: X-COM: Apocalypse

Video Game: Wings Over Vietnam

Video Game: Firepit

Video Game: Lords of the Realm

Video Game Compilation: Summoners War (2014)

Video Game: Ys: The Oath in Felghana


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From gallery of ZombieBoard
Browsing Games - ...forty minutes...
Posted by ZombieBoard:
A fire which you can control the intensity to suit your purpose, and my goal here is to relax with games at day's end. But due to the nature of analog games, it's not really feasible to play a sequence of board games in a short amount of time - before sleepiness drifts over you - using them to manipulate to an extent, your mood.

Sure, I can play a bunch of different Roll & Writes, but they would only scratch the surface of what I can do with video games.

For me, then, a small fire takes the form of something like Bad North.
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From gallery of Harblnger
Everything that sucks! - The seventeenth haul of the year!
Posted by Harblnger:
Look what we have here! Friggin' Shin Megami Tensei V. Yes, I haven't finished my current playthrough of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne but I think I'm gonna suspend that in favor of the new game in the franchise, because holy shit, am I hyped for this. I probably won't be able to finish it before New Year's Eve, but if the early gameplay shapes up to be as good as I hope that it'll be, I'll still unashamedly choose it as my video game of the year 2021. Yes, I am biased.
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Memoirs of an Action 52 Programmer - Fire Breathers
Posted by fractaloon:
I played Fire Breathers solo. That's not much fun really. You fly around and shoot a stationary target over and over and continuously win. It's not much fun this way. Obviously, this game was inspired by Atari's Combat. That game came with the Atari and so a lot of folks would have had experience with it. My recollection was that this game was fun enough as a two player game but like I played the other day, my experience with this game was primarily as a solo activity. The reason for that is that this game was the first one I created so it got played a lot as the kinks got worked out.

The process for testing the game went like this... modify the code, compile it and download it into the NES emulator. I had a decently working game at one point but with just the one dragon. One time, I downloaded my latest copy of the code to the emulator and turned on the TV. There was the game with the dragon flying in place but when I tried to move it, nothing happened, it flew in place. This was really weird because I had already gotten the joystick movement working. What in the world had I done? Well, in fact, when I wasn't in the office, Mario & Javi put the game on and recorded it on a VHS tape.. they recorded the dragons just flying in place for a couple of hours or so. When they new I was getting ready to test, the turned on the VCR without me realizing so that it was play8ing when I turned the TV on.
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The "Monthly Roundup" is a weekly overview of interesting things happening around VideoGameGeek.com. It is a way to highlight great content from around the Geek.

Remember to share your latest gaming experiences:

Microbadge: I beat video games relentlessly and post my victories on VGG! Video Games Beaten by VGGers in 2021
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Microbadge: Video gamer Video Games Ambivalently Continued by VGGers in 2021

And take part in our gaming challenges:

The 2021 Videogame Challenge!
Community Goal 2021: Collectively Play games on 52 different platforms
Community Goal 2021: Get 25 VGGers to play on 5 different platforms
Community Goal 2021: Play the top 501-600 games on the VGG ranking list
Community Goal 2021: Alphabetical Video Game Challenge
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Wed Dec 1, 2021 5:10 am
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Monthly Roundup: October 2021

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Video Game: Ancient Domains of Mystery
Ancient Rogue-Like Player
Submitted by Spirit of 70:
Created in 1994 by independent programer Thomas Biskup, Ancient Domains of Mystery is one of the best of the 'Rogue Like' games I have ever played. Unlike many of its earlier predecessors it features a complex plot with multiple possible endings! You start as a newcomer to the Drakanlor mountain chain, where you arrive after following rumors that a gate to the plane of Chaos has opened in the area, and that the entire world may be doomed unless someone can find a way to close it.
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Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)
Old and primitive, but still holding out
Submitted by Zimeon:
Asha is old-style and doesn't add much to the genre, but it's a nice and pleasantly short revisit to this style of arcade-ish action adventures. Though not as stellar as Dragon's Trap, I would still recommend Asha to anyone who would enjoy a simplistic, oldstyle game. It's colourful, enjoyable, up-beat, and maintains a perfect balance between "arcade game with no real features" and "full-scale metroidvania". Though I fully understand that these games can feel too bland for those who have more attention to give the games they play, this is a perfect game to play while your attention is partly elsewhere.

WonderBoy - Asha in Monster World is a remake of Monster World IV. Now, this is a series that deserves a bit of explanation, as it's strangely intertwined with another series: Wonderboy. A short rundown would explains where this game came from.
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Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)
Grand Strategy with a Unique Fantasy Twist
Submitted by Patrick Carroll:
I've only been playing Dominions for a year or so, but it was an instant hit with me, and I've now logged hundreds of hours. Since it's a little-known game around here, yet a real gem for hardcore strategy gamers, I thought I'd describe it for anyone who might be interested.

What It Is

If you've played Risk or anything like it, you have a general sense of what Dominions is like: it's a conquer-the-map game. Maps vary widely, however, and the generic armies of Risk are replaced by extremely detailed armies unique to each of the eighty-odd nations you can play. Also, ocean provinces are playable, and some nations naturally dwell under the sea (but can get to land under specific conditions, just as land forces can find ways to get underwater). The whole map, with all its provinces, is visible from the outset, but locations of other nations are hidden until scouted. Scouting is important throughout the game. In addition, there are commanders to lead the armies, as well as a wide assortment of priests and mages.
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Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)


Video Game: Metroid Dread (2021)

Video Game: Metroid Dread (2021)

Video Game: Charterstone: Digital Edition

Video Game: Melty Blood Type Lumina

Video Game: Moons of Ardan

Video Game: Moons of Ardan


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Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)




Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)


From gallery of ZombieBoard
Browsing Games - ...neat and easy kingdoms...
Posted by ZombieBoard:
For a moment, I actually opened the digital wallet to exchange 5€ for a digital version of Lego with rounded blocks. I stopped only when I tried to envision myself building an island city with no clear focus besides mindfulness gaming. I tend to like a clear path in the games I play.

Besides the adventure titles like Sable and Mosaic - currently en route to Netflixian television - the ones that caught my eye were the strategy resource management Kingdom series. They looked interesting and, supposedly, achieved a lot despite their minimalist approach. So I gave their free version, the original Kingdom Classic, a try.
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Board Game: Waterloo
Solitary Soundings - Board Games or Video Games? And Why?
Posted by Patrick Carroll:
For many years, I resisted video games. Nowadays I play games almost exclusively on my PC laptop or phone. What changed, and why?

I like to go chronologically, so here comes my life story again (ho hum). But this time, with a specific focus--and maybe a point by the end, if I can find a point.

Until I was in my twenties, there were no electronic games in my world. The nearest thing was a play-by-mail game of Nuclear Destruction run by Rick Loomis on his computer in Arizona. The computer seemed mysterious to me and my friend Len. I'd seen build-it-yourself kits in catalogs, and I knew computers had started being used in business, at universities, and elsewhere, but nobody I knew used one, and I didn't think I'd want to. I might have had an electronic calculator by then, as my mom was enthused enough to pay $300 for one, but its charm soon wore off.
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Person: VGGeek (Promotional Images)
A Gnome's Ponderings - Our household is excited about Animal Crossing DLC
Posted by Gnomekin:
The one video game that everyone in our family plays is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Which is really a way of saying that I play it too My wife and my son are way more into video games than I am.

Anyway, Nintendo has announced the last major free update to the game and the first paid update. I won’t be surprised if it isn’t the last, seeing as how Nintendo is in the business of making money.

There is a crazy amount of stuff being added to the game. If this is how Nintendo is ending this version of Animal Crossing, they are doing it with barrels of dynamite instead of a whimper. I can’t even appreciate all of what’s being added since I don’t know the history of the game, unlike my wife who knows who a lot of the NPCs getting added in are.

But what I wanted to comment on is the DLC that you’ll have to pay for.

It’s basically a whole new game.

A whole new area will be added, an archipelago where you make design and decorate vacation homes for the various anthropomorphic creatures that inhabit the world of Animal Crossing. It is the reincarnation of an earlier game in the series, Happy Home Designer.
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Mon Nov 1, 2021 6:47 am
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