Free from tyrany of listicles here are many words about video games I played in 2022. Wow most of these didn’t even come out in 2022!
Alundra (1997, Playstation)
Having played through every Climax Entertainment platformer then being informed Alundra isn’t even Climax, I got so mad I decided to play it. I even played it in English. Thanks Vic Ireland. No thanks for your gameplay changes, I’ll take an Unworking Designs patch. He raised the most basic enemy, a slime, from 2 hits to kill to 7. I started to do the math on the other enemies and the tedium involved in the American release and started crying.
Alundra has slowly unfolding tragedy. You arrive in a village for adventure and slowly watch the villagers eliminated one by one. You travel to a Zelda Dungeon for reasons, and come back to someone in constant pain. You need to enter their dreams and solve Zelda Puzzles and fight a boss that barely requires strategy.
Sometimes the puzzles are layered on jumping puzzles. Sometimes if you fail the jumping puzzle you fall down and have to do the previous 3 rooms of puzzles. You watch your healing supplies dwindle as you fight your way back to try and make the jump again. I cackled the entire time.
Alundra after about the first two hours, is for absolute Zelda Dungeon Sickos. Stacking blocks to make seemingly cheating jumps that are also definitely what you are expected to do. Playing on the MiSTeR, with the incredible playstation core, I could abuse save states so the specter of failure could haunt me for 10 seconds until I could try again.
While what I do with save states in privacy is my own business, I can tell you I was “fair” to my own standards when I would use them. In any terms seeing Alundra to the credits certifies me as a sicko. While having a conversation with friends about how sicko Alundra was, another friend came up, unfamiliar with the game, “Should I play Alundra?” “Only if you are a complete sicko,” answered a friend before I could. You gotta love near evil Zelda Block puzzles. Where a single bad push requires you to leave the room and come back, half the time requiring you rekill every enemy. Your life going down with every hit. A boss waiting at the end, and if you leave the dungeon, everything resets.
Alundra has inspired me to play Lufia 2, which is a similar sicko Zelda Dungeon game culminating in a 99 floor post game dungeon. I want go back to Steal Princess, the last Climax Game, which is just barebones single screen puzzles.
5/5 sleepingunderwater space demons
The Artful Escape (2021, Modern Platforms)
Thank lord for Xbox Game Pass for PC. I don’t even care you corrupted my Windows11 install within 2 hours of turning it on at the first time. Making a phantom 80 gigs of Forza that was undeletable. the answer was reinstall windows. Glad I just got this computer so lost almost nothing!
Xbox Game Pass allowed me to play plenty of games I wasn’t going to pay for. This is absolutely going to destroy the value of video games. On the other hand I played so many games for $1. Not like I didn’t abuse Gamefly and Blockbuster in years past. At least those stores had to buy the games before I rented them.
So I go to teeth-gritted play every noodling moment of The Artful Escape. I hate this game. I intellectually despise the game. Looking at interviews with the creator every one of my criticisms is a conscious choice. Things in the interviews made me hate them more.
TAE is born out of the director’s baggage with being a touring musician. Of trying to be a rockstar. Touring is hard. Building up a fanbase is hard. Taking criticism is hard. Working with a band and strangers and strange venues is hard. It is a wonder anyone does it. It takes a special kind of narcissist and self-destructive tendencies to be a rock star.
But what if, you were already the son of a legendary rock star. No! too much pressure, the nephew of a legendary rock star. And the rock star died young, but kept intense fame and devoted fans. Then you got asked to perform his songs. But actually you hate performing his songs and want to show off your original tunes. What if a hyper-competent girl showed interest in you for no reason, and encouraged you to play the music you like. What if you then met a magic black man voiced by a famous actor who had performed with your Uncle and is convinced you are The Universe’s Gift to Rock and Roll. Then you astound everyone in the galaxy, and the player with your incredible guitar noodling.
I was almost done with this but I must come back and insert this one example. After you get transported to the intergalactic space tour ship, you get to walk around. Everyone tells you you are the best musician ever. You are going to be huge. Real Rock Star Shit. Then you go to the space bar. The bartender refuses to serve you because you are underage. Not only are you the best musician ever, you’ve only being doing this for six months or whatever and have never kissed a girl. The game doesn’t even have the guts to let you be inebriated, out of control. I am a life long Straight Edger but this made me scream at the TV, “Let The Teen Get Drunk!” “Why would an alien bar even care about being underage!”
The music in Artful Escape is 30% environmental synths and the rest the director trapping you in their living room saying, “We’ll get some food soon,” then just noodling on the guitar for 45 minutes. Daring you to have the strength to get up and walk out of this friendship. You don’t have a guitar! You don’t even have a phone, it’s 2001!
The noodling is without medley or purpose. I hated it. I had to keep looking up music to remind myself I still liked music. I suffered a lot of music I did not like for my own twisted pleasure this year, but the witless guitar noodling of The Artful Escape was the worst. The whole game is a handjob to how good the music is. If your noodling is the best in the world, this alien is going to eat you. Don’t worry the alien loves it! Repeat for 7 hours.
Sometimes you have to play a game all the way through, hating every second of it. To fuel your own creative endeavors. The game is beautiful at times, then ruined that beauty with their shitty guitar playing as you walk right and do emotionless platforming.
The Artful Escape is about removing all conflict from the path to being a rock star. Then you find out the developers got 10,000 dollars for Epic because they liked their student demo. It’s hard being successful.
0/5 Intergalactic Trumpet Elephants From Xelahcnsoz
Junkoid (2022, NES Metroid Romhack)
Junkoid is a Metroid 1 romhack. You can call it the one with the full nudity. It is certainly striking. That and the dead fetuses make it slightly harder to recommend, even if there is a wordless point to it. Game developers give no words a try!
What impressed me was all the secrets in it were visible. They all had tells. Metroid games encourage you to bomb/hit every surface that induces mania. Here you just had to pay attention.
I also hate in Search Action games 30 seconds into starting you see where you need the bomb or the double jump or the ledge hang or the super missile. It is a giant sign that says “Fun Coming Soon!” I need to keep this useless information in my brain or risk being lost later. In Junkoid I just needed to look around and pay attention.
It is still just Metroid 1 in structure with exploring, 2 bosses, and the finale. If you die you need to collect your health. The save points are very well spaced. It is always fair, inventive, and interesting. I had also played ViTALiTY (Super Metroid hack) but lost interest because that game being beautifully designed it really wanted to push you and Super Metroid to the limits of possibility (getting around the world was a pain).
4/5 Graphic NES Nudity
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