It’s back! Hello everyone. Welcome to my first Gaming Landscape in almost a year. After attempting to replace this with a new feature, Thoughts On, I’ve decided to stick with this format as it worked for me for a very long time. The only change is that I won’t be as strict with my rules as I was before. However, for you the reader, it should be the same as it’s always been. If you’re new here, this is an blog post where I talk about the games I’ve been playing and my impressions of them. So without further delay, here are the games I played between January 1st and January 23rd, 2016: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Dash, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
I’ve played Link to the Past before but I had never finished it. The furthest I had gotten before was the beginning of the Dark World. So I decided that the first game I wanted to play in 2016 was this game and that I was finally going to finish it. Well, not only did I finish it, I completed it 100%! As someone who completed Link Between Worlds before completing this game, I really enjoyed it. I like how much there is to do and see in the overworld. There’s various enemies attacking you, secret caves to explore, mini-games to play, treasures to find, various terrains to traverse; Hyrule has so much life in this game! The dungeons are well designed, challenging, and have awesome boss battles. When you solve a puzzle, get past a tough room or figure out how to defeat the boss, it’s really gratifying. The final dungeon is a good example of this; it’s well designed and challenging, while still urging you to explore and rewarding you for that curiosity. That’s what a good game should be, rewarding based on it’s core gameplay alone.
However, I don’t think this game is perfect. First off, I felt the controls can be a bit unresponsive at times. Numerous times I told Link to swing his sword in one direction but he had his feet planted in another. It’s also strange that you can only equip one item at a time when the shoulder buttons aren’t even used. Second, most items aren’t really useful. I mostly just stuck to the bow, hookshot, bombs, and boomerang. Everything else is too specific to be useful in most situations. Third, there’s one dungeon I didn’t like: the Lost Woods. This dungeon is extremely difficult, and for all the wrong reasons. Enemy placement is frustrating, the rewards are poor, the wall masters feel like they’re bugged, the rooms often feel confining, exploration doesn’t feel incentivized, the list goes on. Finally, the last boss fight is frustrating. Ganon can knock you out of the room in one hit and reset the whole fight. This is similar to a previous boss fight in the game, but it wasn’t as bad to me since that boss didn’t have the ability to knock you back as far. Ganon can knock you off from mid screen!
Overall, I loved this game. I would say that Link to the Past is my second favorite Zelda game behind Link Between Worlds. This game felt like a true adventure that you would create in your mind as a kid. The monsters, the treasures, the exploring; it’s the quintessential hero’s journey. It truly has something later games in the series lacked, and I’m happy to have finally played through this classic.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Another game I’ve never played. Inspired by the recent release of the Afterbirth+ expansion, I decided to give this game that I’ve heard so much about a shot. I’m not really familiar with the rogue-like genre and its concept doesn’t really appeal to me. However, Binding of Isaac’s odd and dark premise does. Escaping your religion-crazed mother who wants to sacrifice you? Okay, I’m in! I did 12 runs over various sessions in total and never was able to finish a single playthrough. I find this game to be deceptively hard. It doesn’t seem so bad, with its old school Zelda dungeons and twin stick shooter controls, but you’re not given a lot to start out with and the upgrades you get can be good or bad. Ultimately, I found that the randomness didn’t allow me to get better with time and eventually, I just started getting complacent as I just felt like this was as good as it was going to get. The monotony of the level design didn’t help matters.
I might sound like I’m being really negative, but I do get why people like this game. It offers a challenge, and plenty of unlockables to reward you for playing the game over and over. The RNG aspect of the game also keeps the game from getting stale. I never got bored; I just lost the motivation to go on. I did have it at first; that feeling of “just one more game.” However, it faded, even after I tried just loading it up and trying a run just to kill some time. Ultimately, I think Binding of Isaac is a good game but it’s just not for me.
Sonic the Hedgehog
I’m going to be making a new YouTube show on Sega Genesis games (as I’ve mentioned before) and the first game is going to be on the original Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ll be going in depth in the video so I won’t say much here but it’s a classic game, I love Sonic, and so this is obviously a good time. Levels are memorable, some for the right reasons and some for the wrong reasons, music is fantastic, controls are responsive, and the game design is a great first step. Check out the video for a much more in-depth look on Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis in the future.
I finally got a cell phone that can play mobile games and I decided to try out Sonic Dash, being a big Sonic fan and all. It’s an endless runner, which means you’re just trying to get as far as you can before you die. Collecting rings allow you to get upgrades such as going faster and longer shield time, as well as boosters to help increase your score. It ultimately just helps you earn enough red rings to buy more characters, which is the main motivation to play in my opinion. I saved up enough to buy Tails and now I’m working towards Knuckles. It does seem like the levels as you go on get purposely overly difficult so that you’ll want to spend your red rings to keep going but I just let my run end. I do find the game to be pretty fun and I’m still playing it once a day or so, but it’s little more than a time waster. Controls are responsive for the most part and I’ve never been compelled to pay any money for the game’s micro-transactions, which are the ability to buy characters and a bunch of rings outright. It’s harmless, unsubstantial fun for when you have time to kill and nothing more.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
I’ve played this game before but I wanted to see how it stacked up after playing Link to the Past and it plays better. I’ve been having a blast with it and it’s interesting how much they took the original game and improved on it. I wrote a review for this game back when it came out for Gaming Precision, the website I used to manage and write for, and you can read my thoughts about it there, as they haven’t really changed. I will say that compared to Link to the Past, the controls are better, it’s less linear, there are no bad dungeons, all the boss fights are creatively designed, and the story is more involved if less epic than the 3D Zelda games. Something that annoyed me though is I couldn’t 100% the game as I found the endless mode of the Cucoo Ranch to be too difficult, and I don’t have enough StreetPasses to get all the badges for the Shadow Link battles. I’m currently going through the game again but in Hero mode, which I’ve never done before. In the next Gaming Landscape, I’ll give my thoughts on that.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
I started streaming again over on Twitch and after conducting a poll, I started playing this game. The 3DS port was just released and I wanted to play it but didn’t have the money to. So I got it working on the PCSX2 emulator. I’m only about three hours in but so far, it’s really fun. It’s pretty old school, with grinding early on so you can take on the first dungeon, random battles, and a basic turn-based combat system. You even have to go to a church to resurrect yourself if one of your party members die in battle. However, the characters and voice acting is really well done. They’re charming and have really distinct personalities. The graphical style also looks great, even for a decade old game. The menu seems to be a bit cumbersome, as some simple commands are not as intuitive to do as they should be but that’s a minor grip. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this game as I keep playing but so far, I’m enjoying myself.
And that has been My Gaming Landscape up to now. I think I’m going to continue playing Zelda games and have a little Zelda marathon of sorts. I think after Link Between Worlds, I’ll finish the Link to the Past trilogy of sorts with Link’s Awakening, which I’ve never played. I’ve also been itching to play a Resident Evil game with the seventh entry coming out soon so maybe I’ll have something to say about one of those games next time. Finally, I might write these more often since this was much longer than I thought it would be. That way they’ll be shorted and easier reads. Now I want to hear from you! What have you been playing? Let me know what your Gaming Landscape is in the comments or you can tell me your thoughts on the games I played instead. Peace and Love, gamers and players! Colorwind out.