Weekend Gaming Playlist
Finally! It’s Friday!–Well, at least it is Friday here in Japan–for my friends and family back home in the United States it is still Thursday… which means that when I am waking up to go to work on Monday (ugh), they will be lazing on a Sunday afternoon (lucky them)… But enough about that! I have plenty of games to play this Valentine’s Day weekend! This weekend also coincides with the highly anticipated release of Little Nightmares II (released February 10th in Japan and the following day everywhere else) and… my birthday! (I’ll be turning 33 years ‘young’ this Valentine’s Day… double ugh). Here’s how I’ll be spending the next few days, that is, when I’m not indulging in birthday sweets or V-Day time with the lady:
Little Nightmares II
Swedish developer Tarsier Studios is back with their follow-up to the well-received horror game Little Nightmares this week, and there is perhaps no other title in the Switch’s current line-up for Q1 2021 that I am quite as excited about as it. I only spent a few moments with the excellent demo that was made available on the eShop a few weeks ago, but it seems that Tarsier Studios has only expanded upon the visually satisfying and disturbingly eerie environments of the original.
While the game doesn’t boast of any multiplayer modes, I have little doubt that its demand for trial and error and the guarantee of frequent deaths will make for a pleasant pseudo-‘couch co-op’ experience. My girlfriend and I passed the controller each time we died when we beat the first Nightmares together, and I’m sure that we’ll be spending part of our Valentine’s Day wincing and shrieking at the television as we traverse the horrifying nightmare that is this gorgeous sequel.
It has been a long time coming but I finally decided to give this Capcom-developed cult classic–launched on the PlayStation 2 all the way back in 2006(!) and most recently ported to the Switch in 2018–a chance. I was always somewhat skeptical of the art style; I’m a fan of cel-shading when it is done well (as in the legendary Wind Waker for the GameCube), but I didn’t much care for the thick, black outlines that delineate most of the surface edges in Okami. However, after playing the game for a few hours thus far, I am starting to really fall in love with the look of it – it’s a graphical presentation that feels both refreshing and enchanting.
I’m still very early on in the game, and perhaps not totally sold on the combat yet, but Okami–with its setting in ancient Japanese folklore–has an undeniable charm that is growing on me as I become more accustomed, nay, engrossed in its story and original ‘brush’ mechanics (you use a paint brush to draw images on-screen that can come in handy when fending off enemies or trying to solve various puzzles). Look out for a review from yours truly sometime in March.
After around three dozen escape attempts, I have made it out of the perilous Greco-Underworld a grand total of… one time! Supergiant Games’ Hades is the first ‘roguelite’ that I have ever played and while it’s undisputedly a really well-designed game, I can’t say that I’m in love with it. I’m enjoying the combat enough, and coupled with its masterful usage of the good old ‘carrot and stick’ approach to death, progression, and character upgrades, it’s actually pretty addicting–‘pretty addicting’, I say, for while I keep coming back for more, the repetition of it all (despite every session being somewhat unique) limits me to playing for maybe 30 minutes to an hour before I need a break.
Every day now, since I first purchased Hades about three weeks ago, I’ll feel an irresistible urge to boot it up and make an escape attempt or two, and then feel as though I have had my day’s fill (or at least, half of my day’s fill). I expect that this weekend will continue the trend as I once again (successfully?) lead Zagreus through the unforgiving levels of the Earth’s underbelly back into the fresh, cool airs of ancient Greece.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Like much of the world, I was infatuated with this Nintendo runaway-success story (yet again) last year when the pandemic first caused dozens of countries to all but shut down to varying degrees. Japan was no exception and I sank an embarrassing amount of time into New Horizons during the month of April. This also meant, however, that I would lose interest in the game rather quickly as by the time summer rolled around, I had already accomplished all that I more or less set out to do: my island was rated five-stars, designed and terraformed precisely as I had envisioned all those millions of bells earlier before I hit it big on the ‘Stalk Market.’ I didn’t care to fill out my museum, as to do so would have required months of patience anyhow (I don’t take advantage of ‘time travel’ as some people do). I would still occasionally play the game to check out new updates, such as the arrival of Redd, Luna, the swimming feature, etc., but that was basically it.
Then, for some reason, something changed within the past month. A friend of mine bought a Switch and Animal Crossing, and we played together. Ever since then I have found myself revisiting Takeshima (my island) on a daily basis; a much needed respite from everything else (both in real-life and my other gaming experiences). Now when I come home from work, the first thing I do is spend an hour or two on New Horizons, casually working towards the completion of my museum collection and other unfinished business, including modifying a few areas of my island ever so slightly.
The best part of it all? Gone are the obsessive-compulsive instincts that plagued my initial Animal Crossing addiction, when I constantly felt the weight of necessity pushing and pulling me to try and finish this or that within a day’s time. These days my habits may involve no more than a genuinely relaxing stroll through my personal paradise, or perhaps a little bit of fishing, if I feel like it, a few fossil digs, talking to my island neighbors, visiting some strangers’ dwellings in faraway lands, or… Okay, I guess I am fully back in this grind again. At any rate, I will definitely be playing Animal Crossing this weekend, and if you’d care to join, you can message me on Twitter (@KNeandria) or, if you feel so inclined, pop into Takeshima and take a look around! (My Dream Address is 9642-1296-8683).
How about you? What will you be playing this weekend? Leave a comment below and let us know!