Ancillary Material

Let's Play on Video Games, Mario Party 2

Hey fans, apologies for the lack of content recently, snow, busy schedules and work have kept us from recording lately.  We promise a new episode next week, featuring Mario Party 2, the classic game where you roll virtual dice and yell at your friends!  In the mean time, we've managed to record a Let's Play of the game to capture some multi player magic, hopefully that will hold you over until next week when we release our full episode!

Zach's "Mostly" full thoughts on Breath of the Wild

    So this week on the Podcast we talked Breath of the Wild and I went on what could only be charitably called a Semi-coherent rant on the game. Rather obviously the whole of my personal feelings on the game didn't come through so I'd like to take this time to go more into depth as to why I think it is the single most overrated game I've ever played.

    First off the game is designed around the open-world letting the player decide what they want to go experience and when they want to go take on the final boss. There's nothing inherently wrong with this idea. Honestly the way Zelda is built its a great idea the very first Zelda was probably one of the first open-worldish games that were released. However the game doesn't do anything to actively engage and encourage the player to explore. Enemies killing the player in one shot and one of the first likely events to happen is to get one shot by an enemy you didn't even know was there is not good for exploration. But more critically there is nothing in the world to find. All the micro-dungeons I delved into looked and felt the same. While other games like Oblivion and Skyrim can have that issue they make up for it by providing loot. You can find cool things in the dungeons which can buff up your character with new armor and weaponry. By contrast Breath of the Wild's dungeons are all small and neon with basically nothing in them. With this being the case they begin to feel like a slog and just ticking a checkbox to increase Link's stats. Which leads to the next issue.

    The means to travel the world are great, being able to swim, climb and glide makes the world open up in  a way that even Fallout and Skyrim can't match. That said Link's starting stamina is less than an Obese asthmatic smoker with his sprint being so short it is pointless to even bother and being unable to swim across a tiny pond ruins the experience. However even this could have been OK and upgrading things are always a normal thing in these kinds of games but the real killer in the game is its god-awful combat.

    The real killer for the game is its combat. The combat is probably the worst one I've ever had the unpleasant experience of interacting with. I was told on the podcast that there is a dodge mechanic but since the game doesn't bother with a tutorial, like every game does, I never found it. If you didn't die in a single hit from basically every enemy you could get used to the combat before it started beating you down. A great example of this done right would be the newer Xcom games. There is a tutorial to get you used to the controls but after that you, the player, must figure out how to win. I said on the podcast that I felt better losing multiple hours of gameplay in Xcom than I did dying once in Breath of the Wild. The main rub is that whenever I died in Zelda it never felt like my fault while in Xcom when I lost characters I knew it was my mistake even if it was a low chance to work I, the player, made the decisions that led to the problem. In Zelda dying is less lost progress but it always felt unfair. That is more important if it doesn't feel fair, which without providing the player with the information to use the tools they are given, you can't really accomplish.

    The tools given as I already stated break if you look at them funny but even that could be OK. After all the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games incorporate weapon degradation and the player will usually be carrying multiple different ones in that eventuality. The difference lays in the fact that in these games weapons degrade in effectiveness. They don't just break out of left field. The other thing these games do that this Zelda doesn't is provide armor. the player is given the tools to succeed in combat. Even after leaving the starting area the player has a couple of weapons, knowledge of the combat system, and armor. Breath of the Wild seems to not believe in armor and because of this it makes combat something that was avoided as much as possible which again breaks the exploration vibe. I don't advocate the enemies being pushovers but one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had was the first time I encountered a dragon while exploring in Skyrim. It was a dangerous and tense fight but since I had all the tools to fight back it was fun. However a better example to use would likely be Fallout 4. This is due to the large preponderance of Fat Man launchers in the wasteland. These instant-kill weapons float around but the player has methods of hitting back and killing the person carrying the weapon gives the player the weapon. This adds a risk-reward to the encounter. Killing an instant death enemy in Zelda doesn't even give me a sword. All it does is cost resources without providing any of same.
    The surface layer of Zelda Breath of the Wild isn't a terrible concept but digging deeper into the core mechanics and gameplay absolutely kill the game. I can ignore a terrible story, I played Fallout 4, for the sake of fun exploration and combat. Unfortunately Breath of the Wild has neither. At the end of the day it sold and will sell thousands of copies because Nintendo but if you want a better exploration game so long as the Bethesda games are available that's where you should look. Better combat, better world, better game.

Zach out.

2016 In Review

The idea that 2016 was a rough year which went from consensus to cliche with alarming speed.  It was a rough year for Last Time on Videogames as well.  Zach, Tyler and I produced 40 episodes in 2016, and while I'm rather proud of what we put together, that means we missed 12 weeks.  We've already missed 2 in 2017, but my goal is to have the remaining 50 come out on time for you, and we'll definitely have our first episode of 2017 this Thursday.  In the meantime, I wanted to revisit some of the games we played in 2016 one last time, so hit the jump and lets head down memory lane.

While I wish we'd produced more episodes, I'm actually pretty happy with the quality of the episodes we released, with one exception.  In review, I'm also pretty happy with the quality of games we played this year.  Looking through, only 3 games really jumped out to me as being terrible, while there were 9 that I considered giving best game of the year to, 6 of which I'd count as some of my favorite games of all time, podcast or no.  Like Zach's year in review list, I'm going to divide this into categories, so without further ado, let's give out some made up awards.

Worst Game of 2016

We didn't have anything break the top 5 games on our list this year, but we had two games hit the bottom, both Sega titles.  Phantsy Star II wasn't fun, it was a chore that felt like work from the moment I booted it up each time.  But I can understand wanting to go on a Sci-Fi anime adventure. Ecco the Dolphin is just bewildering to me.  Dolphins are cute, I can understand wanting to make one a cool videogame character, but the gameplay is just obtuse puzzles that feel like they'd be at home in an adventure game, not something designed to show off the 'blast processing' of the Genesis.  We're harsh on Sega games, but Ecco really seems like a scattered mess.

Runner Up: Phantasy Star II
I can see the appeal of Phantasy Star II, but its buried under so much of the stuff that makes RPGs a boring chore I couldn't imagine playing it for fun without a lot of nostalgia.  Here's hoping Phantasy Star III brings things together.
Honorable Mentions: Mortal Kombat 2, Bayou Billy.

Most Surprising Game of 2016

We played a lot of great games this year, but most of them I knew were great going in, by reputation if not my own personal experience.  I didn't know what to make of Sin and Punishment when we chose it as an assignment.  To be honest, I'm still not sure what to make of it.  It barely cracks the top third of our list, and I think that's the right spot for it.  While the gameplay certainly works well enough, that's pretty faint praise, and its a short game that doesn't really make sense.  The ideas presented within however were very exciting, and I'm incredibly glad I finally played this game.  While it's not a hidden gem like Uncharted Waters or a classic I hadn't gotten around to like Super Metroid, Sin and Punishment is definitely the sort of game I started this podcast to have an excuse to play.

Runner Up: Zoombinis
Having played it before, calling Zoombinis a surprise isn't really accurate, but I was quite happy to see how well it held up.

Most Disappointing Game of 2016

Psychonauts really seems like a game I should love.  I like Tim Schafer's games, especially Brutal Legend.  I love games with a sense of humor, and I'm a fan of 3D platformers.  I'm still not sure exactly why I find Psychonauts so boring.  I'm not sure why Raz rubs me the wrong way so much. I expected Zach to hate Psychonauts, but it was always one of those games I was excited to get to eventually.  I just wish I'd liked it more.

Runner Up: Shantae
Like Psychonauts, Shantae is a game I was looking forward to getting around to it.  I can see why it got the praise it did, but the ideas in the game are much stronger than the game itself.  Graphically it looks amazing given the hardware it's on, but that comes at the expense of clarity of game play, and the enemies are just boring.  I'm glad Shantae has made a comeback recently, since giving all those ideas another shot seems worthwhile. I just hope if I ever do get around to playing those, they're the improvement the game needed.
Honorable Mention: Sonic CD.

Best Podcast of 2016

I was very happy with the quality of episodes in 2016.  Looking over them for this list, there were only a handful I wasn't proud of, and the base quality of episodes seems like it improved greatly this year.  I'm especially proud of our discussion of Paper Mario however.  I often struggle in editing to make sure all the hosts are properly represented, and that we don't repeat the same points on a game over and over again.  I feel our discussion of Paper Mario was a very well balanced look at what the game does, why it works, and what its faults are.  If I was going to suggest an episode for a first time listener, I think it would be that one.

Runner Up: Street Fighter 2010
So I hate giving things titles.  If I had my way, every Last Time on Video Games episode would be titled after the game we played in it.  Tyler, however, gave the first episode a title, and now it's my job to give every single one of them a title of their own.  I hate it.
Editing the podcast takes a long time, and the worst is when Zach loses track of what he's saying and puts long pauses between things.  Editing those out in a way that makes him sound cogent is always a challenge.  I hate it.
A Big 2d Sidescrolling Boss Fighter Guy  is my favorite episode title ever.  It was effortless.  I also genuinely think its the funniest thing anyone has ever said on the podcast.  I played around with editing it, taking the pauses out, making them longer to add effect, nothing was funnier than the way Zach delivered it originally.  Plus, while it's a weird game, way too hard, and not at all what anyone thinks when they here "Street Fighter," I had a soft spot for the game to begin with.  If you don't mind weird, hard NES games, give our episode a listen, then give Street Fighter 2010 a try yourself.

Worst Podcast of 2016

I'm giving Psychonauts two awards this year!  See fanboys, you can quit complaining!  While I didn't like the game all that much, I think I'm even more disappointed in the podcast we produced for it.  As a moderator, I really feel like I didn't do a good enough job being impartial towards it.  While I don't like the game, it wouldn't have the fans it does if it didn't have high points, and I feel we didn't discuss them very well.  That, and we had a host of technical problems with the episode.  To be honest, releasing it was more about sunk cost fallacy then anything else, I'd prefer to release no episode at all than that mess, but at least it was a mess we worked really hard on.

Runner Up: Pokémon
I think our episode on Pokémon was fine, and I'd like to thank Cody and Alex for guesting on it.  Pokémon is a huge game though, and there were a lot of points on the game I didn't have time to make in our episode.  Perhaps we'll cheat and do Yellow as a separate assignment sometime so we can talk about it a bit more.

Best Game I played in 2016, Non-Podcast Division
Have I told you all I like Persona yet?  Persona 4 isn't quite as good as Persona 3 in my estimation, but it streamlined a lot of Persona 3's quirks and I think it's the best entry point for anyone new to the series.  At least until Persona 5 comes out.

Runner Up: Pokémon Sun
Man, I didn't play many games in 2016.  Pokémon Sun isn't my favorite Pokémon game, it's not even my favorite one I played this year, but despite my problems with it, it's worth playing if you even think you might enjoy it.

Best Game of 2016

While playing games for the Podcast can often be a chore, this was by far the hardest category to pick.  I started with 9 candidates, almost a quarter of the games we played this year, and shrinking it down was rather difficult.  In fact, I even started writing this paragraph for another game, before realizing I only thought it was the runner up.  Super Mario World is my favorite Mario game.  It's got just the right difficulty level, just the right number of secrets, and rewards for finding them, the right sort of boss battles, and Yoshi.  It has just the right mix of new ideas, and old familiar ones.  We played a lot of great games in 2016, but for my money, Super Mario World is the best.

Runner Up: Star Craft
Star Craft's story doesn't quite hold up as well as I remember it.  The controls, while much better than some of the other old RTS games we've played, leave a lot to be desired as well.  And without the Broodwar units, it's not the perfectly balanced multiplayer game that got Esports on TV.  In fact, it's actually really hard to recommend Star Craft to anyone who hasn't played it before, which is ultimately what makes it the runner up.  It's still an incredible game though, and without it, PC gaming would probably look completely different.
Honorable Mentions:  Final Fantasy 6, Star Fox 64, Pokémon, Paper Mario
Other Considerations: Castlevania Rondo of Blood, River City Ransom, Roller Coaster Tycoon

And that's 2016!  I'd like to thank my co-hosts, Zach and Tyler, for continuing to record this podcast with me (nearly) every week, through awful games and great ones.  I'd like to thank Cody, Alex, and especially Kevin for joining us as guests on episodes this year.  I'd like to thank Kevin a second time for stepping in and recording episodes when I was sick and couldn't make it.  Last but not least, I'd like to thank anyone who listens to our podcast, and especially anyone who read this all the way through.

In 2017, I'm looking forward to playing more early 3D games, specifically Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, and the Resident Evil series, along with some of the Game Boy Advance games I know I'll love but haven't had the excuse to play yet.  I hope you'll all join us!

End of Year stuff

    We haven't been all that active here on the site for the last couple months and for that we apologize sincerely. Things have just come to a head the last couple of months and conspired against us. We aren't planning on going anywhere for the time being and unless the weather turns on us again and our work lives stabilize a bit thing should go back to normal. Again we do apologize for the missing content over the holidays.  Jump to the post to read my best, most interesting and biggest disappointment of 2016.

    These games aren't necessarily games we played or games that released in 2016. These are games I found and played in 2016.

    Most Disappointing: Space Hulk Deathwing
    First off I want to make thing clear I'm not saying this game is bad. It really isn't but what it the game is, is a very pretty looking slog. It might be better with a full squad of the emperors finest prowling the halls of the ship but alone its just a long fairly tedious slog. The game does a few neat things. It helps you feel like a terminator with your plodding movement and limited field of view. Unfortunately with large sprawling levels and a limited rate at bad guys trying to kill you just means there's a lot of game you spend plodding along without squad banter to listen to. If you've got a group to play with you might give this one a shot, alone I'd avoid it.

    Most Interesting: Mordheim: City of the Damned
    This one I'd seen but listening to the Extra Credits guys made me go looking to play the game. At its heart its like playing Xcom on Ironman but set in the world of Warhammer. You take control of a small force looking to gather valuables from the destroyed city. The game is turn based and while the roguelike tactical aspect gives it a hard aspect the game isn't as punishing as it could be. Troops killed in battle aren't always killed outright instead retreating with an injury that will require treatment. Loss of limbs also reflect on the character in game which I think is a nice touch. If you like Xcom games and the Fire Emblem series this one might be worth checking out. The primary problem I found is that often the battles devolve into flat brawls with your squad ganging up on as few people as possible.

    Last up the game I thought was the best one I played in 2016. This one was an easy choice for a long time. Then I had the chance to play a couple more very good games that gave it a run for its money. Titanfall 2 makes very good use of its base mechanics but the game itself just doesn't blend quite as well as the top choice. Fallout 4 was another strong contender but seeing as after the twist I kind of petered out on the game as well as its story being at odds with its open world gameplay. The best game of this last year as I see it is the return of the original king.

    Yes its Doom 2016 even without the massive pedigree that follows this game around it holds itself high. Doom took the fast paced mobile run and gun gameplay of the original and updated it. Giving you the access to platforms and the enemies far more mobility changing the way you interact through each fight. Moving through the environments is fluid and fun and each gun possesses a kick that makes them all satisfying to use. The glorykill system encourages aggressive play in a way that many games fail to. Even ones that don't use regenerating health encourage cautious gameplay to an unhealthy degree. Doom's combat made taking advantage of a weakened enemy to replenish your health and ammo in brutal fashion a basic and satisfying way to cut apart the enemy ranks. Cutting down the armies of hell never felt so good as it does in Doom 2016 and quite honestly very few games capture the sense of a supersoldier like Doom. Reading the logs in game, yes I am that nerd, informs the player that their character was a source of fear for the armies of hell a fear the player gets to reaffirm in their rampage through the story. If you like shooters go get this game.

Zach out.

Game Time

It's been a while since I posted much of anything on this site but recently a conversation with the others has gotten me to do some candid video recordings. The first couple are DOOM 2016 and a level of Payday. I'm only linking the DOOM one here in this post.

I want to make a couple things clear, this is a M rated game and there is no editing done on me or anyone that I play with. This is important since the podcast itself is technically got a clean rating. These videos will most certainly not.

That, said enjoy