Hello again, kiddos! It may seem to have been a while since I was last with you, but worry not – I’ve been busy putting together all sorts of fun for you since I spoke with you last. And a big part of that has been to sample several of the titles on my Nintendo Switch. So what do I think of the initial batch of take-anywhere titles?
For those unfamiliar with The Binding of Isaac, you control the titular Isaac – a terrified, naked toddler who is trapped in a nightmarish hellscape after his mother tried to murder him, trying to escape and combating the horrors there by weaponizing his tears. So, yeah…it’s fucked up. Not bad, mind you – in fact, it’s one of the best twin-stick shoot-em-ups that I’ve played in a long time – but clearly the minds that concocted this scenario are in serious need of some therapy.
There are a couple of things that stand out here. First of all, this came is brutally difficult. In true bullet-hell fashion, shit is flying everywhere all the time, and you will die, a lot. And permadeath is in full effect – you die, and that cool gear you’d been racking up is gone. But this is somewhat offset by the second thing that stands out – the randomly generated maps and powerups lead to near-endless replayability, and keep you coming back over and over. For anyone that has played this on PS4 or PC, you already know this – but here is where the Switch gimmick shines through, letting you take poor, abused Isaac with you wherever you go. So long as high difficulty doesn’t bother you, a definite recommendation.
Next up, we have a modern-day love letter to classic games. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collects the original Shovel Knight game, and adds the two expansions, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment, all in one package. For fans of classic 8-bit and 16-bit action/adventure games, picking this up should be a no-brainer. And since I’m incredibly old and a fan of those types of games, there was no question that I would want to be able to take the heroic Shovel Knight and his quest against the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter on the go with me.
Fantastic platforming and action are the order of the day, beginning with the original Shovel of Hope base game, and just being further refined and perfected in the two subsequent expansions. A well written and witty story are the icing on the cake. In particular, the newest expansion, Specter of Torment, is just a joy to play, incorporating all of the feedback received and improvements that indie developer Yacht Club made since the release of the original game. If you like pure gaming goodness, get and play this game.
Another love letter to the past, I Am Setsuna was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a studio set up by Square Enix with a simple mandate – make games in the vein of the beloved 16-bit RPGs of yore. For their first effort, they chose a very good game to look to – the seminal SNES classic, Chrono Trigger. I Am Setsuna, from a gameplay perspective, is a RPG that you’ve played before. Turn-based active-time battles, combination Tech attacks, spells and abilities learned from equipping magici- er, sorry, spritnite…but again, all distilled and refined from years of experience into their purest form.
What sets I Am Setsuna apart from the predecessors that it emulates is a heartfelt, emotional story and a beautiful, haunting piano soundtrack, both of which you will remember long after you’ve completed the game. It isn’t the longest RPG you’ll ever play, but this feels more like a trimming of fat and padding that has become all too common in many modern games, rather than anything missing from Setsuna. Square Enix has gone on record that it intends to strongly support the Switch, and this is a tremendous first effort toward that goal. Highly recommended.
Ah, here it is – the one everyone wants to hear about and talk about. And for good reason – Breath of the Wild is without doubt a tremendous game. Beautiful, artistic, breathtaking – all of those adjectives definitely apply. The visuals and score are absolutely stellar. Story is a timeless (pun completely intended) Legend of Zelda tale, and at the same time turns that classic formula in some surprising new directions. It is most definitely the star of the Nintendo Switch launch lineup. BUT…is it for everyone?
Here is the thing – Nintendo’s latest magnum opus is a game that requires something that has become a lost art among many modern gamers – PATIENCE. It is almost intentionally trying to frustrate you. You can only carry a handful of weapons, and they are going to break after only a few solid hits against your enemies – probably in the middle of a fight. There is a huge open world to explore – but many times it will feel too big, too empty, as you struggle to determine how to get to your next quest objective. You can climb any surface – but if you run out of stamina, which seems to disappear as if Hyrule were located in the Bermuda Triangle, you’re going to take a long, fatal fall. And even if you get to the top of that mountain, I hope you’ve brought some cold weather gear or food, otherwise, you’re going to freeze to death. These are all elements of many of the survival games that have come into prominence among hardcore gamers in recent times, but those same elements are likely to completely frustrate gamers who just want to play a Zelda game, rescue the princess, destroy Ganon, and all that. Do I recommend it? Yes I do. Do I enjoy it? Yes, I do…when I am in the right mood. It isn’t a game you can just pick up and play for a few minutes – you have to have a good chunk of time to devote to it in order to feel like you’ve accomplished anything. So be warned – while a great game, this isn’t a Zelda game like any Zelda game you’ve ever experienced before.
So, you may ask, “EWE, that’s all great, but you still seem to be gone a lot lately? Has your personal life improved?” Well, there are a few answers to that – the first being WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YO- Ahem, sorry, I mean, I suppose it depends on what you mean by “improve.” If you mean, have I finally turned the head and won the heart of my maiden fair…no. No I have not. So thanks for reminding me of that. Assholes. BUT, if you meant spending time with cool people and having fun – well yes, because I’ve fallen headlong back into Eorzea with my beloved summoner, appropriately named Evil Wizard.
Currently, I’ve been trying to power through story content in an effort to see most, if not all of it before the new expansion, Stormblood, drops this June. I’ve managed to get to level 47 on my main class (as I said, summoner) while only minimally indulging in my normal penchant for leveling absolutely EVERYTHING there is to level equally (also known as OCD to normal people). For the first time in a long time in an MMO, I am very pleased with the community and player base. Long ago, I was a member of an absolutely fantastic World of Warcraft guild and community, with people that I loved playing with and interacting with even outside of the game. Alas, due to complicated personal circumstances, it became best for them that I step away. I quickly found that I disliked most of the player base outside of my friends, and left the game. Since then, I’d never quite been enchanted with a player base in an MMO – but FF XIV just seems to have a predominantly kind and encouraging community. There will always be exceptions to the rule – but by and large I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game. More updates to come – I’m currently trying to get to level 49 so I can continue to wage my personal war against the Garlean Empire!
Last, but not least – you didn’t think I’d let you leave hungry, did you? Silly humans. Have some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies!
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashined rolled oats
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter, room temp.
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, raisins, baking soda, and salt. Mix together and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. Slowly add in the oats mixture, mixing until combined. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto two baking sheets, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart. Place in oven and bake approximately 12 – 16 minutes, until cookies are golden brown but still soft. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Pour a glass of milk – and if you’re me, add some Kahlua – then enjoy your dessert!
And with that, you’ve reached the end of this bit of my ramblings, mortals! Thanks for sticking around, and see you all again soon! – EWE