2 January - 8 January 2017: What video games are you playing this week?
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1. Video Game: Warframe [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1939]
Video Game: Warframe
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Warframe - 265 hours in. I still enjoying playing this with randoms and also with VGGers.

Ark - 50 hours in. The VGG server has been updated to remove the new dinos that are ridiculously over powered, so hooray for that.

Talisman - I love playing this with VGGers. Matt, Jan and I recently bought some expansions to spice things up a bit. Played a bit more with Jan and also with Tim.

Civ 5 - Started a game with Matt and he is teaching me how to play. This is my first real try to get into any Civ game and so far I am enjoying it.

Paladins - After a month break, I got a chance to play with Luis and Jan.

Warhammer: Vermintide - Played with Jan and Andy.
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2. Video Game: Battlefield 4 [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:652]
Video Game: Battlefield 4
Josh Malbon
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Santa Cruz
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BF4 is so wonderful compared to BF1.

Guns work.
Snipers not overpowered.
Fast action.
Less death by random bad luck.
Vehicles more fun.
And the infantry weapons to take out those vehicles actually work.


I'm back into happy FPS land.
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3. Video Game: Alone With You [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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I'm off for a few days and thought I'd usher in the new year with one of the cooler looking games on my 2017 "hardcore challenge" list - Alone With You.

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I'm digging it so far. From what I know this is a true "indie game," essentially self-published by a tiny team, and the art direction and music (especially) are quite self-assured.

It's an old-school adventure game, with a two-fold sense of mystery as you piece together what happened to a ruined colony / terraforming project, and also guess at the identity of the main character, who appears to be the only person left, but also appears to be of no obvious significance to the shattered project.

The structure of the game feels a bit simple, but I enjoy the way you slowly construct the fate of the colony, and I'm curious to see what happens when the game enters "multiple endings" territory, a bit of design that is telegraphed pretty hard at the end of your first "week."
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4. Video Game: FORCED SHOWDOWN [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
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Kevin J
Canada
Toronto
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What do you get when you mix the deck-building of Hearthstone, Diablo-style action RPG combat, and rogue-like procedural levels, all under the guise of a Running Man-style television show? Forced Showdown! You choose one of four characters (you start with one and unlock three more within a few hours), each of which has its own combat abilities, and go into a series of arenas filled with enemies, each taking under a minute to complete. At the start of each arena, you can spend an ever-increasing amount of mana on cards from your deck which represent upgrades for your character – increased attack speed, consumable items, automatic reactions, etc. Each “battle” (set of 9 arenas) has an end boss, and some other modifiers which really change things up – fireballs flying across the screen, a damaging link between you and your companion, extra mana to spend if you are missing health at the end of each arena, etc. After each battle, you lose all the upgrades you’ve collected and get a boon that lasts through the end of the “show” (ie. All the battles leading up to the big bad final boss).

I really, really like this game! The variety of modifiers and the order that your cards come out in your deck change how you approach it each time. It’s fun to have a game with relatively simple deck building that isn’t a card combat game (like Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, Duelyst, etc), and it’s nice to have an over-the-head action game that doesn’t have a long view for upgrading your character like Diablo et al. I’m not a big fan of some of the characters and their playstyle, but I’ve easily gotten my ten bucks of entertainment so far and still have a lot of cards to unlock to play with deck building.
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5. Video Game: Helldivers [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2180]
Video Game: Helldivers
Kevin J
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Toronto
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Not unlike Forced Showdown, Helldivers is a twin-stick action shooter with procedural levels, but the emphasis here is on co-operative play. It occurred to me that a lot of what I like in HD is similar to what I liked about Payday 2 – good challenging co-op play at whatever difficulty you want, some flexibility in your loadout if you want to be more offensive/defensive/supportive, and moments where you just barely get out of a mission alive.

I’ve been playing a lot with a local friend, a fair bit solo, and every now and then jumping online to play with random players. I think the game is much more entertaining with 3 or 4 people in communication (same room or voice chat), but 2p has been a blast too! Unlocking new “strategems” (devices/upgrades/attacks you can call in during a mission) and weapons is fun and experimenting with different combinations against the three types of enemies is fun. We’re still playing at low difficulties to unlock stuff, and I know there are new types of objectives and enemies waiting for us at higher difficulties.

I’ve toyed with the idea of buying some DLC (there is a lot to buy to increase your loadout options, similar to Payday 2), but it seems like a lot of the stuff I find interesting seems to have a similar counterpart in the base game content, so I see no need.

LOVE IT!
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6. Video Game: Ori and The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked]
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Kevin J
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I started and finished this in a few days. I had heard really good things and went in with high expectations, and I was really let down in many ways. Long story short, the game is really pretty, but I have a lot of issues with the game design and find that the art style often makes for a worse game since a lot of things aren't particularly readable. I’ll elaborate when I take some time to add it to the Beaten list (first one of 2017!).

If I could go back a week, I’d probably tell myself to start on Easy – I had to knock it down near the end, and I think there are far too many frustrating enemies and sections in normal difficulty.
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7. Video Game: The Witness (2016) [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:532]
Video Game: The Witness (2016)
Kevin J
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Toronto
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Another game that I went into with really high expectations – I’m no stranger to puzzles and have a pretty good mind for it, but this game has been more frustration than fun. There have been a few “aha” moments, but it’s less enlightening and more eye-rolling after minutes of annoyance. Even when I decide to abandon an area to head to a different set of puzzles, I have no good sense for where I can go next to try something else, and often when I find a puzzle I can attempt, I have no f*cking clue what I’m supposed to do.

I think I might have to abandon this game – I can tell it’s either going to waste far too much of my time and sanity to finish, or I’ll otherwise be looking up solutions online (I’ve already done it for a few) which kind of defeats the purpose of playing the game.
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8. Video Game: Overcooked! [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:757]
Video Game: Overcooked!
Kevin J
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This is one of many local co-op games I’ve picked up – you play as amateur chefs and have to prepare a bunch of dishes of some type (soups, burgers, etc) as best you can in exceedingly ridiculous kitchen conditions. You have to split up tasks such as getting ingredients, chopping, cooking, plating, and cleaning between the lot of you in hopes of finding an efficient system. It’s mad fun, but both times I played I found that after about 45 minutes we all felt really burned out on it. Hopefully when we go back, we’ll be up for another try at the levels that we got only 1 or 2 stars (out of 3). Some levels seem impossible to do with 3, since there will be two people on one side of the screen and one on the other, and it’s impossible for one person to keep up with the supply/demand of the other two.

Best game I’ve played featuring a raccoon chef in a wheelchair.
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9. Video Game: Dragon Quest VII [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:2279]
Video Game: Dragon Quest VII
Kevin J
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Guys, why do I keep going back to jRPGs? More often than not, they feel less like fun and more like busy work. I saw the graphics and whatnot in DQ7 and it tickled the nostalgia nodule in my brain and fooled me into thinking that it would be a BLAST to play, despite all the reasons to the contrary that I could come up with.

Talking to townspeople is boring, basic battles are boring, navigating dungeons is boring, progressing the story is boring…I really, really should play something more engaging. But, somewhere in my mind, I feel like I’m going to lose my street cred if I don’t play jRPGs, since it was such a part of my identity growing up. Part of me thinks “just keep going until you unlock class changes, THEN it will pick up”, but another part replies “but that’s going to make the core game mechanics any more fun…”.

Anyone else ever feel like they’re going through the motions with a genre, just out of old habits?
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10. Video Game: Super Mario 3D Land [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:590]
Video Game: Super Mario 3D Land
Kevin J
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I got this as a gift for 3DS and have beaten the first two worlds. It’s quite good! I’ve heard that the first 8 worlds are boring while the second set of 8 worlds is much more challenging, but I’m kind of enjoying the early levels – they’re somewhat relaxing and cute. It’s also one of the first games I’ve played where the 3D feature is a nice addition to the game.

I’ll never feel particularly comfortable playing action games on a handheld though – I’m constantly at odds for what is a comfortable position for my arms versus what is comfortable for my neck.

I don’t think I’ll be progressing much though…too many shiny games on my PC that I want to play! It’ll be good for the next time I need to travel though.
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11. Video Game: Final Fantasy XIII [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1136] [Average Rating:6.63 Unranked]
Video Game: Final Fantasy XIII
Kevin J
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After beating Ori, I need to figure out what to play next. I have no idea why I bought FF13 this sale (please read about DQ7 above). Again, I feel like I knew what to expect and ignored the bad stuff and started to play this game regardless.

+very pretty
+the voice acting is pretty good (but I am kind of sick of hearing Troy Baker in everything…)
+I hear the combat gets interesting at around the 25 hour mark?
-the story and terminology is nonsense
-the dialogue is pretty bad
-I literally look away from the screen to read other stuff while hitting the A button during combat until it’s over
-I have to wait 25 hours to see anything interesting in the game mechanics – I could play 3 or 4 smaller games in that time that actually show me something interesting mechanically

Guys, PLEASE talk some sense into me and tell me to return this game wince it’s under 2 hours played on Steam. Otherwise, tell me why I ABSOLUTELY MUST continue to give this game dozens of my precious gaming hours.
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12. Video Game: Undertale [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:602]
Video Game: Undertale
Twinge
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Colorado
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I streamed another playthrough of this game, focused on showing off a bunch of obscure hidden stuff that's fun and interesting.

And there's so much of it. So very, very much. This is a game that I'd previously played through 4 times, watched dozens of other playthroughs, and literally read through the raw file containing all of the text in the entire game -- and somehow there was still new stuff I discovered on this run that I had never seen before.


...In related news, Vulkin is adorable.
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13. Video Game: The Secret of Monkey Island [Average Rating:8.31 Overall Rank:40]
Video Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
Kevin Brown
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Parker
Colorado
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Part of my hardcore challenge for 2017. I actually own two versions of this, a Mac version which is the original game and the XB360 version which is the 'special edition' with fancy graphics and voice acting. I'm playing the special edition version on my XB1 via XB360 back compat.

Unfortunately.

Not an auspicious start to my hardcore challenge for 2017.
First game out of the gate and oh, how I'm not enjoying it. The interface is horrible. Using a controller for this game is painful. And game design has changed a bit in the last couple of decades. I'm not saying game design has gotten better, it has just changed. I feel like that for every hour I invest in this game I spend 25% of the time actually playing and 75% of the time wandering back and forth from screen to screen getting to the part where I actually get to do something to progress the game.

I'm not sure why I've never played this before as it is exactly the kind of game I would have loved in 1990. in 1990 I was playing stuff on the Genesis and the Nintendo and the trusty ST. I think SimEarth sucked up most of my time and I just missed this one. Anyways, I would have loved this game in 1990. Don't love it now.

There is a lot to like here: the humor and writing is clever, the puzzles are challenging enough (in a trial and error kind of way) and the over all setting is entertaining. Unfortunately I find just as much not to like.

Tempted to bail out and play it on my rMBP so I can ditch the horrible control scheme but so far am going to tough it out on the XB1.

Don't hate the game. Certainly don't love it. Interestingly it has made me reconsider some of my undying love for older games. Pretty sure if I were to play them again reality would give nostalgia a pretty thorough beat down.
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14. Video Game: Pillars of Eternity [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:324]
Video Game: Pillars of Eternity
Darren Martin
United Kingdom
Lincoln
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Just started to play Pillars of Eternity. I know that it's a very large rpg (and I've got the expansions too) so hopefully I'll get sucked into the storyline soon. I'm playing a mage, so with any luck I'll be able to smite fiery doom upon my enemies. And upon inbred peasants too, because they clearly deserve it

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15. Video Game: The Last Guardian [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2105]
Video Game: The Last Guardian
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Started playing this yesterday evening.

As someone who is familiar with what a decade of "development hell" usually means in the end, and as someone who has played games that were essentially cancelled once before being dusted off and sold for a quick buck, my expectations going into this are quite low.

External image


Long-time fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus can't help wanting this to be good. So, based on the first couple of hours, memo to them: don't get your hopes up.
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16. Video Game: Hunters 2 [Average Rating:8.50 Overall Rank:3412]
Video Game: Hunters 2
Nigel Wright
United Kingdom
Nottingham
England
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Started playing a new campaign yesterday, now on Chapter 5. Pretty much a golden oldie, and unlike Hunters HD (episode 1) hasn't just been pulled from the iOS app store...
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17. Video Game: Second and Ten [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Michael Hopcroft
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I finally got all the ducks in a row to get my playoff game completed from the 1992-based season of a retro draft league I'm in. It was a tight struggle all the way. I ended up winning 24-21 when my opponent missed a tying field goal with twenty seconds on the clock.

I now get the honor of playing in the championship game against the guy who invented the game engine....
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18. Video Game: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1867]
Video Game: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Joakim Schön
Sweden
Alingsås
Sverige
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Microbadge: I completed the 2019 Alphabet board game challenge!Microbadge: I completed the 2019 hardcore challenge to play 10 games 10 times each - I came, I saw, I conquered my original list!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: Silver game player. At least 1,000 logged game plays!Microbadge: I completed the 100 Games x 1 Challenge - 2019
Gained some levels. Now #200 Champion.
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19. Video Game: Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders (2016) [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:4976]
Video Game: Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders (2016)
Jørgen K
Denmark
Copenhagen S
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Microbadge: Herculean Image UploaderMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Ultimate VGG Uploader - This user has 1000+ entries and is in the VGG Hall of Fame!Microbadge: I was here for VGG's 10th birthday party!Microbadge: Herculean Video Game Collector
I am playing... was playing this game: I started January 1st in the evening, and continued Jan 2nd - and finished just after midnight.

Quite nice game I think.
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20. Video Game: Icewind Dale [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:427]
Video Game: Icewind Dale
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
Started the new year off with a cold, and I'm home playing IWD.

So far I'm redoing chapters I finished last time I played (I'm up to Dragon's Eye, level 4, now). It's mostly going more smoothly than I remembered. Some fights are tough to the point of seeming impossible at first, but I've learned to lure enemies into ambushes instead of charging headlong into the devils' lair. In past cRPGs, the thief has always been a sidekick with occasional specialty use; this time he's an indispensable scout.
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21. Video Game: Hitman Go [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2029]
Video Game: Hitman Go
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United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
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Microbadge: Look up at the starsMicrobadge: and not down at your feet.Microbadge: Try to make sense of what you see,Microbadge: and wonder about what makes the universe exist.Microbadge: Be curious. - Stephen Hawking
Just started this.

Went into my thoughts here.

As I'm Playing: Hitman Go (Spoiler Warning)
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22. Video Game: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:263]
Video Game: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
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United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
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Microbadge: Look up at the starsMicrobadge: and not down at your feet.Microbadge: Try to make sense of what you see,Microbadge: and wonder about what makes the universe exist.Microbadge: Be curious. - Stephen Hawking
I wish I had more free time. I want to play this game super bad.

I'm enjoying the heck out of it. Child of Light showed me I still enjoy JRPG games (I had no idea it was a JRPG, I thought it was a platformer).

So I jumped into this game and really like it.
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23. Video Game: AM2R: Return of Samus [Average Rating:8.71 Overall Rank:2846]
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
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United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
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Microbadge: Look up at the starsMicrobadge: and not down at your feet.Microbadge: Try to make sense of what you see,Microbadge: and wonder about what makes the universe exist.Microbadge: Be curious. - Stephen Hawking
This is the game I'm spending most of my time on.

There have been a few really difficult bosses for me, but I managed to beat them (Genesis, The Tester, several of the more advanced metroids, particularly reaching them for the first time).

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right now I am at about 86%, I have 1099 energy, Gravity Suit, all beams except ice and 14 power bombs and 14 power missiles. I can't beat the bubble walls with shinespark, beams, bombs or power bombs. I am guessing I have to freeze than shatter them. The problem is there really aren't very many places on the map that I can clearly still explore. So I either need to solve a puzzle I haven't (such as an energy ball I can't get near to bounce to the statue, and the area where a time bomb went off and everything collapsed. I can't ascertain how to get down there where there is clearly two paths I can explore) or open up a new secret hidden area.


I'm nervous I won't be able to beat the final boss or maybe some other random late game boss. But so far I have been able to use persistence to get as far as I have.

This game is super good. Best Metroidvania I have played in a long time. I didn't really care for Shadow Complex to be honest. But this one is really fun. I'm glad I downloaded it even though I was hesitant due to not being a 100% fully legal game.
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24. Video Game: Watch_Dogs 2 [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:2972]
Video Game: Watch_Dogs 2
Josh Malbon
United States
Santa Cruz
California
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Been having a good time hanging out in San Francisco. Sometimes, while I drive through the streets, I have deja vu from when I lived there.

I shared some screenshots of Stanford for my dad, who attended there way back in the day. He said they brought back fond memories.

I think I'll take a break for awhile, been playing this night and day during Christmas vacation. I'm going to check out some indie games for a bit, before jumping back in.

There is just so much content in this game, it is almost too much.
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25. Video Game: Split/Second [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:1401]
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Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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I picked up this game during Steam's winter sale, and it's a pretty cool arcade style racing game. It is framed within the game like some kind of action TV show, and instead of shooting shells at each other or picking up powerups, you can trigger environmental hazards as other racers approach them. For example, you hit a button to make a parked tanker explode, an airplane crash, or a building collapse to wreck other racers or open up alternate paths. There are a lot of explosions. I'm finding it really fun. Even the alternate events besides the normal races are fun (for example, running a track against the clock while all the explosive hazards are going off around you.)

The game doesn't have full controller support for some reason, which is unfortunate. After setting it up, my Xbone controller works during races, but not for navigating menus and stuff, which is odd. Also, the rubber-banding seems to be a bit extreme. It isn't uncommon to drop from first to nearly last after a single crash.
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