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The fusion of entertainment and education is seamlessly achieved in the Game Builder Garage review

The fusion of entertainment and education is seamlessly achieved in the Game Builder Garage review

The idea behind Game Builder Garage seemed intriguing when I first saw it in person last month: here’s an opportunity to take a close look at how Nintendo makes its games and perhaps even understand some of the magic and wonder that have made its products so adored worldwide. I’ve spent about twelve hours with it, and the most important thing I’ve learned is that creating video games is very labor-intensive.

Thankfully, it seldom seems all that much like work. Gamers who have experienced Nintendo Labo, of which Game Builder Garage is a logical continuation and builds upon the success of Toy-Con Garage, will recognize the thrill that occurs when Nintendo injects its own style into something so routine. Back then, we all wondered if Nintendo would only focus on Ikea manuals after seeing flatpack instructions brought to life on the Switch’s screen and translated to cardboard. Now, though, Nintendo is offering the most wholesome, approachable, and enjoyable software tutorial I’ve ever come across.

Additionally, it is mostly a software instruction. Game Builder Garage is divided cleanly into two sections, into which you will be thrust right into the first. To access the second section, which consists of freestyle programming, you must first finish the first seven courses. These classes are also essential to get even a rudimentary understanding of what may be accomplished when you are gradually exposed to the highly interactive, visual programming language of Game Builder Garage.

It’s also extremely Nintendo, with all the features you have access to (characters, timings, inputs, and so on) actually brought to life as anthropomorphized blocks called Nodons, each chatting away with a distinct personality. To create a game, all you have to do is put them all together correctly so that your creations end up looking like a thick spaghetti of Nodon and the threads that link them.

When I say simple, what I really mean is that it may be really complicated. To restate, the lessons are crucial to advancing in Game Builder Garage. In fact, these lessons constitute the game itself; they range in duration from 40 minutes for the first to 90 minutes for the final, and each one culminates in a finished game that you may play. After each one, there are brief interactive tests to make sure you’ve retained the information and remove any guidance when you’re asked to put a feature into practice.

Although it might be severe at times, Game Builder Garage is a great instructor. Lessons only allow one desired path to be taken; there is little room to find other routes for any given outcome. Because of this fussiness, some of the ensuing quizzes become trial-and-error exercises as you try to figure out the precise solution that Game Builder Garage is looking for. It may be really annoying at times.

Nonetheless, the outcomes might be astounding. The seven games you work on initially are rather different, ranging from a simple game of tag to a 3D racing game and finally to a full-fledged 3D platformer. The most remarkable thing is how quickly you can make changes since the game and programming screens switch between them in real time, making your modifications apparent at all times. It may be a bit of a tinkerer’s heaven when you’re busy moving Nodons and their connections about, changing parameters, and rapidly evaluating their results.

It goes without saying that Game Builder Garage isn’t the first of its kind or even the first game maker for the Switch; Super Mario Maker 2 and Fuze4 are also options for those who want to go deeper. However, because of the fundamentally engaging and interactive nature of the tutorials, this is the most progress I’ve ever made with a program of this kind. You’re significantly more likely to see any results here than anywhere else, even though the results may not be as astounding as what you see in something like Dreams.

Naturally, it’s constrained in ways that die-hard Nintendo fans will recognize. Since you have to get game codes outside of Game Maker Garage before entering them, the more extensive community elements that are the foundation of other game creators are almost nonexistent here. Although there is already a thriving community of creators on Reddit and other platforms, creating GTA clones, Mario tributes, or simply basic testing and experiments you can download and play with yourself, it’s still a nuisance, if typical of Nintendo.

Because of the constraints of Game Builder Garage, none of them can be considered really artistic; everything looks like grey-box testing when graphics cannot be imported. Still, this is not the place to go if you want to create your own opus or a fancy reimagining of an old classic. Instead, it’s an educational experience where you can learn some of the foundations of game development from a teacher who is as astute—and sometimes harsh—as Nintendo. Furthermore, what understanding does it provide about Nintendo’s own works of art? You can’t really draw any definitive conclusions, or any that will be really shocking, I think; all Game Builder Garage has done is affirm that they’re put together with a lot of charm, character, and elbow grease.

Review: Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights – a meticulously crafted Metroidvania exuding elegance and allure

Review: Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights – a meticulously crafted Metroidvania exuding elegance and allure

This gloomy story has some beautiful texture, but it’s nothing new.
These houses used to be residences once. Inside, books lie open on kitchen tables beside vacant fireplaces, while jars and silverware fill the exposed shelves. Trunks, boxes, and bundles of things (clothes, maybe?) are gathered together as if someone was about to go. They await owners who will never come back.

Most of these houses are in ruins now. There are huge gaps in the roofs caused by missing slates and crumbling walls. Occasionally, however seldom, you’ll see a reddish-purple spill splattered against the splintered boards and realize that a horrible incident occurred. This once-warm, bustling community is now gloomy and dark, the only sounds coming from outside the never-ending patter of the rain and your light, quick steps.

The structures in Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights serve as a sobering reminder of what Land’s End was like before to the Rain of Death, which wiped off the region’s vegetation, inhabitants, and ground. The people that used to swarm this place have transformed into trolls, skeletons, and throbbing beasties that are twisted beyond recognition and seem to be focused only on stopping you.

Sometimes you may beat an adversary who is so overcome with sadness and fatigue and relieved to have lost to you that they would ask you to cleanse their soul before they pass away. These released spirits promise to fight with you in return, and while that may seem a little odd—after all, are they really just exchanging one prison for another?—you will be appreciative of their offer as you explore more and more of Land’s End, I assure you.

Naturally, this dilapidated village is not the only location you will see. Ender Lilies is an incredibly gorgeous game that is further improved by a magnificent, leisurely music, even though I’m not sure the Switch version has the same visual impact as its PC equivalent. There are water-filled dungeons, a gloomy castle, subterranean mines, and an enchanting forest. All are gloomy, hostile locations full with hostile ghouls and hazardous surroundings.

Lily, the little kid of pure white light who resides in the middle of your screen, is the one constant. It’s not a particularly original plot device—both Inside and Little Nightmares have colorful protagonists set against monochromatic backgrounds, with Inside’s protagonist doing so perhaps more successfully—but it works well enough, especially when you observe how her long, white hair twists and darkens with each boss she beats, giving the impression that each battle has permanently stained her with darkness. It seems like she will always be burdened by the knowledge that she must render troubled souls incapable of being healed, and then cleanse them.

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a Metroidvania game in which you must carefully navigate a vast, networked area connected by both open and concealed passageways. Similar to previous titles, most notably Hollow Knight and Ori in recent times, you will gradually uncover previously undiscovered routes as your skill set grows. You will often go back and redo tasks when you realize you can now jump higher to possibly open a chest or jump into the water knowing you can hold your breath. The map is large but not too so, and traveling between locations isn’t as annoying as it might have been since the quick travel feature becomes available very early in your journey.

Lily is a strange creature, however. The main heroine, on the other hand, does virtually nothing more than jump, dodge, and spin around Land’s End while summoning the souls of the slain to fight her fights on her own. Lily cowers behind them, and you may summon the fighting skills of a knight, a crow, or a witch to fight on her behalf. However, most of the time, Lily bellyflops around the screen, constantly avoiding danger in the hopes of avoiding injury. It’s easy to see why; Lily is not a very strong opponent and will only die after a few injuries thanks to a merciless resurrection mechanism.

Fortunately, she can strengthen herself using relics that are still scattered about and increase her attack and HP level by collecting collectible bits. You can’t mess with too much with this system since you can only change your battle and relic loadouts while Lily is sleeping at one of the pre-arranged save locations across the game. Still, it’s a really tiresome approach. You can customize and swap between two different configurations for Blights, another collectible, to increase the power of your spirit companions. This allows you to carry two loadouts with you—one for heavy damage that deals slow damage and another set that you could use underwater.

I’ve previously discussed my love/hate relationship with Metroidvania, primarily because boss fights and aerial acrobatics are extremely frustrating due to my lack of dexterity. However, Ender Lilies is a more forgiving game than most, making it possibly the most approachable for fans of the genre who have been turned off by the harsh, roguelike death penalties in previous titles.

It isn’t exactly correct to say that it is souls-like as stated on Steam since there isn’t a soul-gathering feature or even a need to loot your own body in the event that you die. Lily gains strength and toughness with each kill, so even if you lose a particularly difficult boss encounter, the only progress you’ll lose is where you are; your treasures, relics, and—perhaps most importantly—experience points—all remain intact. Simply begin anew from the last bench where you made a save.

There are moments when combat seems slow, and you’re often overpowered by the quantity and power of The Blighted foes around you.

It’s not easy to move throughout the globe, however. Although Lily can leap further than you may first think, mantling is an inaccurate science, therefore I often thought that Lily’s ability to jump farther than mine caused me to miss a jump. Sometimes combat seems slow as well, as she’s frequently overpowered by the quantity and power of The Blighted foes around her. Additionally, a few of those later bosses are too tanky damage absorbers.

It’s doubtful that you’ll discover anything here that enhances or expands upon the amazing work of Team Cherry or Moon Studios. Having said that? With a lot of attention and charm, Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a captivating and unexpected tale. Yes, patience is needed. Indeed, it does call both a naturally curious mindset and the ability to ignore its rather clunky control system. However, I stayed up much later than I had planned to, exploring Land’s End on many an evening, eager to learn more about the plot and increase Lily’s already remarkable skill set. I have a feeling that you may, too, if you like Metroidvanias and have been searching for a fresh challenge that isn’t too harsh.

Wildermyth critique – an exceptional RPG masterpiece

Wildermyth critique – an exceptional RPG masterpiece

The heroes of Wildermyth don’t seem to be heroes. At least not initially. They resemble the chattering cast from a 1990s newspaper comic strip, Judge Reinhold captured by a funfair caricaturist, or the cheery helpers I might have once found inside a Usborne kids book that’s trying to teach me about the nitrogen cycle, with their simple felt-pen faces, dots for eyes, and kinked line for a mouth. This seemed a bit strange at first—a little wrong, even. These rickety Dilberts are coming with me on a burning expedition down into the fiery mines of Lord Whatever?

After spending several hours with it, I’m beginning to believe that Wildermyth’s heroes’ visual design is indeed rather brilliant. With an emphasis on randomized story, character development, and character bonding, this is an RPG tactics game that is intricate and maybe somewhat thick. Seek depths, and the earth yields obligingly in all directions. Nonetheless, Wildermyth never seems convoluted. Its layered luminosities never seem to falter in your vicinity. And this is crucial for a player like myself who is tentative, impatient, and perhaps a touch dumb. Riches, wonderful riches, await you in Wildermyth, but only if you stay long enough to discover them. Despite its amazing complexity, it’s easy to pick up and understand even for beginners. Being accessible is something that Wildermyth and his artwork recognize as being important. Something like a Usborne children’s book explaining the nitrogen cycle, you know?

That’s not to disparage Usborne; it’s just more entertaining. To be honest, I think Wildermyth is really more entertaining than almost any game out right now. Over the last year, considerably wiser friends and coworkers have advised me several times to play this. As they proceeded to discuss Wildermyth, I began to feel a little scared. What’s in store? Nothing less than the traditional experience of Dungeons & Dragons. A journey, a group of creepy, nasty monsters in the way, and a party. Turns! Plunder! Decisions! Branches! Proceed with it. However, take note: you have nothing to fear. There’s just happiness and treasure.

I’m going to begin with what seems to be the center of everything at first glance, and what a fantastic center that would make. As a tactical role-playing game, Wildermyth follows in the footsteps of XCOM, using Firaxis’ excellent two-actions-per-turn model and expanding it into magical realms. Even while XCOM was a scary idea on its own, the two-actions business idea was brilliant. Your toy troops should be moved. Proceed now. How are they going to respond? There are two options: move twice without firing, or move once and fire. Each round, you may spend two points. It was hard to ignore the fundamentals of a moveset that both threatened imprisonment and offered mastery, leaving you to rely only on your own tactical deficiencies.

Because of its simplicity, the template well handles the level of ancillary complexity that makes these games really tactical and enjoyable to play. When the time comes for your group to engage in combat in Wildermyth, you’re all dropped into a tiny papercraft grid with folded card cutouts serving as the Mary Blair props—trees, rocks, and elven arches—as well as thickets of flame, repulsive monsters, and even your own team, which consists of heroes who are barely a millimeter thick but brimming with heart. You go about, encountering opponents and assaulting them, and finding foes and being attacked, turn by turn. The majority of the gameplay is manipulating the environment to your advantage via animating rocks, trees, and other natural features. There are classes, melee weapons, ranged weapons, and magic. Sure, you can use an axe to strike someone, but you can also use a blowgun to launch a stone discus from a pile of pebbles or create hot shrapnel out of tree bark to throw at your enemies. You can use a bookshelf to murder someone in Wildermyth, and the thought of doing so makes me happy. And in response, your adversaries may use a bookcase to murder you! And that’s just the element of magic. Users, that’s simply amazing.

Though they take time to become apparent, there are deeper intricacies. Because you may flank opponents to increase your chances of doing damage, placement is crucial. Position is crucial since, by aligning with your friends, you may fortify yourself with a wall for further defense. Consider hiding if you use both of your action points on your second move, which will leave you vulnerable. Consider enemy area-attacks and your own line of sight. There is a certain beast that I detest seeing on the battlefield; it causes an annulus of anguish and leaves the tiles around it a flaming red color that evokes a low-grade, itchy form of grief. Thus, consider target-prioritization as well.

Battle is exhilarating and filled with difficult decisions made at every turn as you move forward across the uneven ground. Despite being paper, it has a real feel to it—or rather, fantasy real, which is arguably even better—with a crunch and impact. It’s also deeply narrative in that strange sense unique to turn-based strategy games. So many unexpected come-to-your-rescue moments, unexpected turns in your destiny determined just by concealed dice rolls and movement ranges. Oh, the things that occur in the papercraft vales and dungeons!

Gain riches, such as new armor, weapons, and trinkets, by surviving combat. You also advance in level. This implies that your party members will be able to choose from a variety of new, practically all-brain-stirring passive and active abilities that are swapped at random. As your health drops, do you want to do more damage? Not an issue. Would you want a spell-caster to be able to call forth discuses of stone, shredded bark, and roots that clutch? You understand. One of my favorite perks is the ability to enter the Wildermyth version of Overwatch at the conclusion of each round, no matter what you did with your action points. empowering. Anyhow, it’s my favorite now. Who knows what the future holds.

These abilities are relevant to the remaining gameplay, which takes place in between encounters. And here is when I feel that Wildermyth has legitimately hurt me.

Chapters comprise a campaign; three for a brief campaign or five for a full-fledged one. You can start with a few scripted campaigns and then combine procedural elements almost indefinitely until the sun erupts. However, the fact remains that procedural elements are included in even the scripted campaigns. Even after playing them repeatedly, they will still seem unique.

For starters, you’ll build distinct characters for your group, so they’ll feel distinctive. In addition to a variety of courses, you get the essentials: bookishness? An excess of greed? Impatience? It was extremely different going into war with a bookish hothead than it was going out with a goofish romantic, believe me. Not only were they distinct from one another in the sense that the bookish hothead was always making up tales and getting into arguments with people, but it was also different in the sense that it forced me to reconsider these felt-pen characters. To be honest, I was astonished to learn that Bode Elderquill—who, at the conclusion of the book, I would have described as a brotherly dreamboat—was really a cowardly greedwagon after fighting through five chapters with him. He began to really exist in that space between how the game and I saw him, and he became readable.

Indeed, your group is important as, as you go through your journey, they will form bonds, have disagreements, grow to be rivals, and fall in love. The next generation comes along, bringing with it new opportunities and problems. However, the narrative is also important, including the major plot points (let’s see what this mothman is up to!) and any procedural bumps along the road.

Consider the Mothman Adventure. Shakespearian in nature, the plot revolves around families, but in between the major events, Wildermyth shuffles the pages and inserts little stories. My main hitting man gets lost in a dale and realizes who he really is! A duplicate! Is he the duplicate, or what? A good concept, but it becomes much better when you have to decide whether to chat or run away. Understand the copy, should you take a chance on it?

Another character tried for a long time to remove a gem from a wall or other object, but it kept exploding and getting stuck in their face. Another became a wolf after answering the wolf god’s summons. I apologize if these seem like spoilers. However, they won’t truly be spoilers since you may not notice these things for hours while playing, and even then, your characters and how you react to things will change.

Consequence and potential are what bind these tales together: the series of “buts” and “therefores” never stops. Like a good DM, Wildermyth knows that important decisions shouldn’t mean the end of the tale; instead, they should lead to an unexpected twist and more. The wildermyth pours.

I haven’t finished yet. The narrative progresses as you traverse a procedural map back and forth, exploring new areas in search of challenging confrontations or townships to defend or develop into factories to provide the necessary revenue to upgrade your equipment. Time is important because Wildermyth presents its tales in terms of days, months, and years as you go from place to place or pause to forge a way across a river or a mountain. Your group is important since splitting off to explore more of the map might lead to vulnerabilities. Because the map is so dynamic, it matters. Just as opposing unit types might get stronger or weaker based on your actions in combat, hostile troops can also swarm, proliferate, and launch invasions on your area. This world is a moving one, as Melville once observed. Although he wasn’t discussing Wildermyth, I believe he would have welcomed a few games. The nerdy romantic.

Here, there is triumph and tragedy as well as true friendship as you get to know your party better, experience more with them, and eventually—and this in and of itself is always a very lovely decision—lose some members in combat. I adore how Wildermyth embraces long stretches of time. It’s not just about the time it takes to build a bridge, which can be challenging if you need to finish a chapter before summer ends. It’s also about the years of peace you earn in between adventure chapters and the opportunity to see what transpires with your players during that time. You have experienced things with these people by the conclusion of a tale, and most importantly, they have changed. They have more years. They have experienced loss and love. Well, some of them are wolves now. A few of them even own animals!

Time is important because Wildermyth presents its tales in terms of days, months, and years as you go from place to place or pause to forge a way across a river or a mountain.

This is not the end at all. The My Legacy screen is my favorite screen in all of Wildermyth. It’s the place where the heroes you’ve led on campaigns—even the fallen ones—go to hang out afterward. You may reintroduce them to fresh ads with fresh options, narratives, and threats. Additionally, you may see their histories and statistics to discover how much they have experienced thus far. Yes, the advantages and talents, but also the campaigns they’ve participated in. the connections they have made. The things that now come to mind as you contemplate them. It need not come to an end. There is no need for the leveling and deepening to stop.

The My Legacy screen is similar to Mii Plaza in several ways. That meticulously accommodating graphic style accomplishes a lot, just like the Miis. Does it not? Observing Chass Hitch, my foolish romantic, my proficient fighter, my forty-three-year-old valiant flirt, I perceive subtleties in the dark specks of his eyes and the gradual graying of his facial hair. Though worn out, he exudes optimism. He has defeated mechanical animals and crab-things. In the woods, he encountered himself and came out of it very well. After that experience, at least that’s what I believe it was—the him-him. Because of its flawless MOR blandness, this visual style is suitable for projection; it serves as the interface between the player and the game, accommodating all of the character’s past actions as well as potential future actions. In the end, it is what makes Wildermyth.

A delightful mix of RPG and hunting mechanics – a review of Monster Hunter Stories 2

A delightful mix of RPG and hunting mechanics – a review of Monster Hunter Stories 2

It’s not for everyone to hunt. Because Monster Hunter’s universe is ripe for a Pokémon-style game due to its abundance of monsters, the Stories spin-offs seem like an effort to provide a more approachable option, from adorable anime-style character designs to the series’ central premise. The concept that monsters might be allies rather than enemies is presented in Monster Hunter Stories.

You can tell from the off that Monster Hunter Stories 2 doesn’t deviate too much from its predecessor: you create your own character, who starts riding lessons after experiencing unusual events in their community. Once again, your navigator, Navirou, the cat from the previous game, shows up, and you set out to discover what it means to be a rider—a friend to monsters rather than their killer.

You won’t miss much in the way of context if you haven’t played the previous game, even if there are allusions and recurrent characters. Monster Hunter Stories 2 has a striking resemblance to the first Stories game overall. Like in the first Monster Hunter games, your silent hero is intended to be your avatar. That’s sufficient in a game series where the whole point is defeating monsters for fun, but like its predecessor, Monster Hunter Stories 2 takes a very long time to provide any kind of motivation for your actions or the necessity of you being the protagonist at all; it lacks Pokémon’s handy justification that both defeating monsters and collecting them is the ultimate goal and the path to mastery, if you so choose.

The main plot revolves on your rider and a frightening Rathalos, but in reality, it’s basically a series of missions that need to be completed by traveling to a certain location and giving a monster a massive blow to the skull. Everyone feels very bad about killing the monster since it’s a JRPG, but you still do it and end up with a brand-new hammer.

Despite this, Monster Hunter Stories 2 nonetheless creates the same type of rhythm as the Monster Hunter series as a whole provides. As soon as you encounter a free-roaming creature while exploring one of the many biomes in the game, turn-based battle begins. The “battle buddy” you fight with in this game is often a friend that is local to the biome you’re in and is merely kind enough to assist you in battle; Monster Hunter Stories 2 doesn’t really care why or how you defeat your opponent.

You have three attack options while fighting: power, speed, and technical. When an enemy monster signals that it is about to attack, you need to counter with the appropriate rock, paper, scissors move to deflect the blow and do damage at the same time. Every monster, including your own monster, which the localization refers to as “Monstie” to differentiate the two, has an element and a main attack type that you must predict the first time you see them in order to properly counter.

The first time you encounter a new monster, it’s a lot of fun to figure out their attack patterns, particularly because each fight has many stages when patterns might alter. Furthermore, the weapon you choose might have an impact on monsters in general as well as on specific bodily sections. The main idea behind the system is that once a monster is understood, it can no longer surprise you since the system is rigid. It would be preferable if combat didn’t often drag on for so long since biomes don’t have many different types of enemies, which means you’ll be performing the same things a lot. Battles may be sped up and ultimately even resolved instantly, but doing so seems like an acknowledgment of their excessive length and lack of diversity.

However, combat seem fantastic, much like the rest of the game. With their fast lines, amazing attack effects, and very entertaining special attacks known as Kinship Skills between Monsties and riders, they really come to life. This is one way the game makes use of its greatest asset—the monsters—and it’s very outrageous, entertaining, and brilliantly animated!

If there’s one thing that fans of Monster Hunter can agree upon, it’s that monsters are awesome. Gathering monsters and battling them to see what they can do is an immensely enjoyable experience. I can’t stress how adorably animated they are overall; each Monstie has a unique gait when you ride them in an open field, and crossing the planes with them while all you can hear is your Monstie stomping and the crunch of the grass beneath your feet has a meditative quality.

You will want to invest a good deal of time in gathering and caring for Monsties since they are quite entertaining. Either you may aid a monster escape after a fight, which will lead you to its den, or you can enter the monster dens that are scattered across the environment to gather eggs.

I apologize to the imaginary monster moms, but I truly like snatching eggs. I just can’t get enough of it, whether it’s discovering one with a new design, informing you that there will be a monster inside that you haven’t yet acquired, or the adorable hatching animation. If you really want to get into it, you may spend a lot of time utilizing unique objects and singing duplicate Monsties to transfer their genes somewhere else in order to fine-tune their DNA. Of course, you’re really sorry about that. That type of work isn’t necessary for regular fights, but it is for multiplayer battles and the challenging optional subquest bouts. Furthermore, and this is also a terrible thing to say about monsters who are depicted as either buddies or something you must murder if you have no other option, there’s the excitement of discovering what tools a smithy can produce for you with the new monster parts you’ve obtained.

Strangely enough, I think that Monster Hunter tales 2’s greatest qualities are those that are most similar to the main games. That being said, I didn’t mind that there weren’t as many tales as there were in the game. I believe Capcom is aware of this since the content that will be released in the upcoming months for this game consists of more Monster Hunter Rise monsters to battle and team up with, not anything related to the actual plot. As such, the monster hunt is undoubtedly going to be the primary draw for this game as well.

While some may not find the tale very interesting, others who like the original Monster Hunter gameplay may find what they’re searching for here—I know I did. Even when things were difficult, I wanted to keep playing MHS 2 to meet new Monsties and see old and new friends since it’s a caring and friendly game with charming character design, captivating voice acting, and some breathtaking scenery.

Out of Line review – a cool platformer that may seem somewhat deficient

Out of Line review – a cool platformer that may seem somewhat deficient

In every aspect, this platformer is flawlessly insignificant.
Out of Line’s mechanics aren’t annoyingly unclear, nor is it aggressively bad or broken. It’s not too bad to look at or listen to, and after finishing it, I felt chilled—trust me, this isn’t how I always end my platformer sessions. The platforming and puzzles are flawlessly simple, and even though it takes some getting used to your spear (more on that in a moment), there aren’t any annoying boss fights or tedious sequences to ruin your adventure, making it incredibly approachable for people who are unfamiliar with the genre or even just games in general.

However, even after completing my second game (the first taking ninety minutes, the second a little over an hour), I still don’t know what occurred in this scenario or why. Granted, there are worse ways to pass an hour, but despite the game’s exquisite simplicity and beauty, it’s really a little… blah. Despite its eerie soundtrack and hand-drawn visuals, Out of Line is neither engrossing nor monotonous. Not amazing nor horrible. Rather, it’s positioned within a passable no-man’s-land.

To be clear, there are benefits to this no-man’s-land. The experience you get and the riddles you solve in Out of Line are just not that remarkable. This presents no issue at all. It is difficult to figure out precisely what is going on because of the very light-touch narrative in which you are never given a formal introduction to the character you play as, nor do you learn about their goals or past.

In this case, what is “out of line”? That’s San, the little, pale-faced character who lies at the center of this story. San awakens in a strange land of flying cubes and monoliths, and he goes about his methodical business, attempting to escape the mechanical claws of their pursuers—huge, strangely sentient machines that pin you with the glare of their searchlights—into a factory, a forest, and the belly of rusty machinery that spews scalding steam.

Not only does San have two intriguing people that appear throughout the adventure to help San on his voyage, but he also regularly travels with similar San clones in an effort to escape this world. You cooperate to open the route forward, maybe by persuading the adorable animals that follow you into tiny vents so that you may clear out the equipment, or by stepping on a pressure plate. It feels like such a missed opportunity that a game that demands you work cooperatively with other NPCs stops short of extending that collaboration into a fully-fledged co-op mode, especially given the puzzler’s wonderful child-friendliness. However, the path forward will never feel so uncertain you’ll need a partner to help unravel the solution.

San’s spear, therefore, is what makes an otherwise ordinary experience memorable. It’s easy to mistake it for a weapon, and I attempted using it when one of the game’s few adversaries approached me, but it serves just as a traversal tool to assist San in reaching high ledges and hitting buttons that are out of reach. It’s not always the easiest thing to maneuver, especially since you occasionally have to throw it quickly and accurately to escape, but since the puzzles are typically straightforward and uncomplicated, it’s rarely frustratingly so. It can also be jammed into the ground at specific points to use as a lever.

Although the set-pieces get somewhat more elaborate and ambitious as the tale goes on—I found the rope bridges San can eventually create with their spear to be really cool—the challenges don’t change nearly enough to keep the gameplay feeling new in a game this short. The majority of puzzle sequences seem like repurposed versions of their predecessors.

Still, it’s quite gorgeous. Everything is painted by hand, including San’s tiny, black eyes, their friends, and the actual world they explore. This results in a decent, if not very wide, variety of levels and locations. I never did figure out why those inquisitive mechanical claws detested me so much, or why the magical flying cubes gathered on the blue-hued tree, but I guess it doesn’t matter. Out of Line is more about showing than it is about saying; its leisurely, dreamy soundtrack and its enigmatic, impressionistic paintings are ours to interpret anyway we like. The only thing I wish it had was more difficult riddles and mysteries to keep me interested; there’s really little need to keep playing to find additional endings or secrets, and even the collectibles can be quickly emptied out on your first trip.

Therefore, even if I did like my short time with it, Out of Line is mostly all style and little content, so even die-hard aficionados of the genre could find it difficult to recommend without reservation. Still, I believe it’s an ideal introduction game for younger or less experienced gamers. Apart from a few repulsive crabs that follow you throughout the journey and a few easy chase scenes, there isn’t any immediate danger, blood, or foul language—in fact, there isn’t any language at all—and there aren’t many, if any, puzzles that should keep even novices stuck for a long time.

Although it won’t quench your need for Limbo or Inside platforming, Out of Line is still a fun way to pass the time in the evening.

A city builder that harmoniously blends precision and aesthetics – a review of Mini Motorways

A city builder that harmoniously blends precision and aesthetics – a review of Mini Motorways

I believe that the fictitious residents of Mini Motorways’ ghost houses are the ones that I care about the most out of all the imagined individuals that video games want me to care about. The words are mine, but you may recognize them if you’ve ever played this game on the Apple Arcade or even if you only vaguely know someone who is an aficionado.

In Mini Motorways, you are tasked with building a city entirely around its roadways. Large structures, which I’ll refer to as businesses and where people probably work or shop, are connected to smaller buildings, or residences, where people probably reside. As you play, houses and companies appear everywhere, both conveniently and inconveniently. companies need people, and residences provide them. This portion is not up to you to decide. Rather, you construct the highways that let people go back and forth. Red companies only want individuals who live in red houses since everything is color-coded. Points are awarded for meeting demands. It’s game over when companies experience too much unmet demand for too long; it indicates that your city has not performed properly. Alright. Thus, there are residences and enterprises. However, what about haunted houses?

Here’s an early warning that almost seems dishonorable. Take a look at that relationship: every business’s supply and every home’s demand. Can you guess what it means? It implies that they are not equalities; if you want to maintain the satisfaction of the companies, you do not need to link every new house that arises. It might make sense to keep residences disconnected so that you can preserve your road for when you truly need it, since you only have so much road available at any one moment. So I call these depressing, disconnected houses “ghost homes.” Although they live in the city, they do not belong there. Although they are occupying space in the city, they are not a part of its circulation or rhythms. How would it feel to live in a house haunted by ghosts? Perhaps it would be amazing and liberating. I can see how it may be cramped and scary; I can also see issues arising from running out of contact lens solution. Perhaps my interpretation of it is excessive, extrapolating too much from two colored rectangles positioned next to one another, which the viewer is compelled to see, considering the situation, as the steeply pitched roof of a little, humble home.

The actual start of the game occurs when you begin to see those two rectangles as a home and when you notice the slanted shadow around a company and realize that it is a large, skyscraper that you are unmistakably seeing from above. Mini Motorways’ abstract landscape requires a little human magic to bring it all together; otherwise, it’s just lovely iced tea colors, like peaches and mints, with a chilled tumbler of pips and muttering hums, clicks, whistles, and honks that are bird song, traffic, and eventually a kind of music of homeostasis, the more you play.

That being said, there are certain games that you want to play as soon as you lay eyes on a screenshot. “Just look at those particle effects!” maybe, or “I really do want to climb that mountain in the distance.” Like its predecessor, Mini Metro, Mini Motorways is a game that I knew I had to play as soon as I saw it. I was curious in how to make these colors and abstract forms into a task. I wanted to know about something so effortlessly elegant, sophisticated, and bustling.

The goal of the games Mini Metro and Mini Motorways is to build transportation networks. Harry Beck’s London Tube Map provides Mini Metro with its magnificent iconography. It’s only recently that I discovered Beck was an electrical draftsman, but it’s all there on the page, isn’t it? Roads and a few other symbols are used in Mini Motorways, but despite the fact that you play both games similarly—drawing routes, matching colors or shapes, and managing supply and demand that is outside of your control—they are quite different from one another.

Accepting variety was the goal of Mini Metro. Your passengers were likewise basic shapes, and it was your responsibility to link lines that spanned as many forms as you could between your stations so that your passengers could always reach the appropriate station. Mini Motorways must be like that, don’t they? Blue and red residences must link to their respective enterprises; undoubtedly, a classy superhighway will make it easy to put this together quickly.

Cars, however, are not metro trains. Your trains in Mini Metro murmur past one another, much as they do on the actual tube. You could see a little flicker of light in the distance or a tremble or gust of wind. To be honest, vehicles are a nuisance in comparison to that. They all take up space when you hit them on the same road. At bends and crossings, they clump together and congeal. Playing any of these games makes it difficult to avoid analogies since the mind readily draws comparisons, just as it does with actual cities. In addition, it’s incredibly simple to clog up the arteries and create unpleasant obstructions in Mini Motorways.

Here, the congested traffic is very picturesque – a cascading display of blue, green, and purple hues, accompanied by blaring horns and escalating anxiety as the companies edge closer to the impending catastrophe of over demand. However, it’s far more pleasant to see the automobiles go smoothly as the music plays, purring and pinging as your tasteful arrangement works. equilibrium! At first, at least, as you’re learning things, and as horrible as this sounds, it’s hard not to decide that the best thing to do is to try to keep traffic separate as much as you can. The key to achieving this kind of action is actually fairly complicated as time goes on – you need to think about the ways that roads join, the angles and curves, which can affect traffic speed. a system of red roads. An orange highway network. an arrangement of blue roads. Nobody travels to various destinations by the same routes.

The brilliance here is that there’s never a lengthy duration of this. Obviously, you want to discover more fulfilling methods to solve issues as quickly as possible, and philosophically you want to cease doing it. Additionally, such residences and companies disrupt your plans by popping up wherever they like. Additionally, some towns have rivers that need to be crossed by bridges, and maybe you’re not very good at building bridges. Other cities have mountains that hem you in until you have tunnels. Every week, you get new components for your city and are often given the option to add more road tiles along with features like roundabouts or bridges. However, you can never really have enough. One can never have too much on their mind. The game constantly acts like an overly cruel jerk, ready to trip you up by setting up supply and demand in strange, far-off locations.

Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been spent playing this game on iOS since it launched as an Apple Arcade product. I continue to play because there is so much to learn despite how frustratingly easy it is. I get knowledge on, instance, when to rescue my bridges or how to navigate a challenging urban environment. I discover how to make use of highways as a kind of urban hypertext, enabling me to avoid traffic bottlenecks. The freeway as a hail storm. The deepest secrets, I discover, involve building roads where they are unnecessary (buildings and businesses can be spawned by this strategy), rebuilding cities as they grow larger, tearing things down and starting over, clearing out old tangles, removing roundabouts (still new, so I’m still learning about them), and, whenever possible, aiming for nice straight lines.

Because of its complexity, difficulty, and sometimes uncomfortable personality—which constantly forces you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and deal with things you really don’t want to deal with—this game is fantastic. It’s an excellent game since it allows you to express yourself via play and you may learn something new every time you play. The variety of towns to try out and the daily and weekly challenges that turn into addictions are what make this game so fantastic. Because it provides several control options, the PC version of the game is still fantastic. Although some players found it difficult to switch between the build and erase modes of the iOS version, I wasn’t too concerned about it since there’s nothing quite like the sensation of sketching roads with a quick flick of the finger. On a PC, you have two options: a mouse with one button for laying roads and another for deleting; personally, I felt that my clumsiness made me a little too awkward for this. It seemed rather natural right away.

However, it’s among my all-time favorite games for more profound—and maybe goofier—reasons. To be honest, I have trouble explaining why I find Mini Motorways to be so deeply appealing and why it appears to have a spiritual connection.

I love how it connects you to the world’s great cities, therefore I enjoy using it to learn about new destinations like Mexico City and Dubai while also refreshing my memory on familiar areas like Los Angeles. Nothing in life or games is, in my opinion, quite as beautiful as a completed Mini Motorways city—completed as in: I died—with its endless fractal complexity and that kind of zinging suspended tension in the arms of the roadways that you get in a frozen storm of a Jackson Pollock. I also adore this thing’s natural beauty. The strange thing is, I can have a great time even without playing this game since I find it so joyful to gaze at it.

In addition, cities are, I suppose, a rather large idea for any game to address, much alone one that deals with conflict. After hundreds of games, Mini Motorways still appears to express both everything and nothing about cities—it is that brilliantly devious. The game sometimes makes me consider how much we spend alone ourselves in cities; this may be terrible, but it can also be great. I believe that many individuals missed the anonymous bustle of a coffee shop or public library during COVID. It reminds me of what the great Jonathan Gold once said about Los Angeles: rather than being a melting pot, the city is a location where cultures coexist side by side while maintaining their own identities, creating what he called “a glittering mosaic,” a complex human richness.

The game sometimes makes me consider things outside cities, such as how the body is made up of several systems that interact with and support one another, such as the neurological and endocrine systems. At other times, however, it reminds me of how some things, like cities and crowds of people, mobility, and busyness, are just necessary. Our only option is to move quickly alongside everything and attempt to prolong its duration. Cities are never really finished.

Occasionally, however, it’s nothing at all—neither actual cities nor bodies. There are just hubs and spokes. Mint and peaches. The chirping, puttering, tweeting, and purring. This game is my favorite since it doesn’t really say anything, but it makes you continuously reflect on the work you’ve done. And maybe that’s where insight starts, both the insight itself and the constant reevaluating of things.

Critique: Skyward Sword HD – a tale of love in the clouds

Critique: Skyward Sword HD – a tale of love in the clouds

The first time you strike a timeshift stone in Zelda is maybe the most amazing moment in the whole game. You’ve been wandering throughout a lifeless world of greys and browns for almost five minutes now, pushing large mining carts ahead of you to go forward, evading strange lumpen sculptures, and passing through deserted tunnels. Then a dazzling bubble appears when you strike the enchanted stone that is located in the center of a plaza. And everything is different inside that bubble. The surrounding brown stones have been painted a vibrant color. In reality, the nearby monuments of drooping robots are really just fizzling, squabbling robots that have never been statues at all. Hearts appear on dead plants for you to grab, and the mining carts are now humming with life and moving ghostly down electrical rails.

I never really move on from this experience. It was, however, doubly significant for me in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, a rerelease of the 2011 Wii original. I moved from playing on a portable device to the large TV at this time.

Since this remaster is built on extensive adjustments and “quality-of-life” enhancements, it seems appropriate to discuss the controls straight away. When you wanted to swing your Wii Remote sword, you had to navigate your surroundings every time, and adversaries were positioned to block strikes if you chose the incorrect angle. The original Skyward Sword was a Wii game to the fullest extent possible. I, like with many others who have read about these restrictions online, never truly understood them. The ability to use button controls to play the game was thus one of the aspects of the HD remaster that most thrilled me.

This was partly caused by the strange delight of being able to fit the whole of the Zelda universe into a portable device. There’s something quite wonderful about exploring a volcanic peak with a shiny talking sword while riding on a bus, and gaming gadgets that you can hold in your hand still have a hint of enchantment and glitz. However, the button controls fall short of my expectations. They believe that this is the best the team could have done under the conditions, even if it seems strange to say this about a Nintendo game.

For me, the primary sticking point is the sword. It is impossible to place sword strikes on a button in this game since directional swipes are so essential. Rather, and this is really ingenious, they sit on the right stick and use the flicks to move the sword up, down, left, right, and diagonally to attack, as well as press up to hold it high and charge it. Problems: First off, there was just enough input confusion to make more intense bouts seem like a bodge—at least for me, and admittedly, my fingers tremble a little more than most people’s do. Secondly, I wasn’t really excited about moving the thumbstick with the force that I would eventually find myself utilizing for approximately twenty hours, given the looming possibility of occasional drift and an aged console. Furthermore, since I’m a moron, I would often forget that the camera wasn’t on the thumbstick, which would cause Link to continuously draw his sword. I know my thinking is more confused than others, but I never found this to be very clear or interesting.

To be honest, those camera controls confused me even more. You may now manipulate the camera in Skyward Sword HD, which is a significant upgrade over the original game. However, with the sword on the right stick (the shield, incidentally, is a left-click), you must now concurrently hold down L and use the thumbstick in order to move the camera. This is functional (sure, you can utilize motion controls for the camera, but it soon becomes annoying), but it was still another consideration, and Skyward Sword can get rather cluttered and overwhelming with options. This setup always seemed like a cludge to me, but maybe if I had given it more time, it would have made more sense to me. Most importantly, using the button controls never really appeared to be all that much fun.

In case that came as a surprise, motion controls did too. All of a sudden, I adore them. I’m not sure why they suddenly make me feel so happy, but they seem quick and understanding. Although the gyro gets confused sometimes during busy times (I can relate to it after using it for a few years), all it takes to get back on track is a quick point of the right Joy-Con at the screen and a press of Y to recalibrate. As predicted, the left Joy-Con controls the shield, while the right Joy-Con controls the sword and camera. I was able to really appreciate the fights in the game for the first time, especially the opening boss encounter where you had to deceive your opponent and take them by surprise instead of simply striking them. I was also able to appreciate the game’s other motion-control features for the first time. putting locks on 3D puzzles by rotating the keys. Flying through the skies with Link’s Loftwing bird. That amusing part when doors are opened by essentially inserting tiny electrical charges into holes. It was suddenly fun to throw or bowl bombs; I discovered that this was especially difficult with the button set-up.

I acknowledge that the Wii version likely performed better than my memory of it, and that many people may find the buttons more intuitive than I did, but that’s the main point, I believe—I still associate this with the Zelda game, where the controls felt like a sheet of glass separating me from a full immersion in the experience. It was always a little disappointing coming from the series that pioneered Z-trigger aiming, which usually seemed so completely natural. Though I still feel little distant from the action here because to the motion controls, I feel much closer to it on Switch. (Just be advised: you will be limited to buttons if you are using a Switch Lite, which is a beautiful device, so why wouldn’t you play on one? While it’s not a catastrophe, I wouldn’t call it great.)

I should probably add that, moving beyond controls, I have been playing Skyward Sword HD with two opposing viewpoints circling around in my brain. One comes from a buddy who loves Zelda more than any other game or competition. The other is a buddy who just finished playing the Wii version again and detested every second of it. This made me wonder something. My approach to Zelda games has always been to approach them as puzzles in and of themselves, ever since the Daedalian thrills of Link to the Past – the greatest Zelda, no backsies. In this case, I would contend that reputation is the true conundrum. Is Skyward Sword one of the best Zelda titles?

This is undoubtedly your finest opportunity to respond to that question in a fair manner. There have been other adjustments made to improve things in addition to the control choices. In addition to having multiple save slots, the game now occasionally automatically saves, so there’s no need to trudge back to a previous save. While this was irksome, I think it may be missing the mark a little bit because Skyward Sword’s bird statues resemble the part where you have to flip an LP halfway through—a restriction that turns into a beloved custom. The lessons have been simplified in other places, and Fi, the talking sword, will no longer interrupt you as often. Additionally, you won’t get an explanation when you pick up an item that you’ve already picked up. The game now operates at 60 frames per second, and you may call upon Fi for further assistance when you get stuck. Oh, and you can fast-forward conversation and skip sequences.

Most importantly, an HD update has been made to the whole thing. The impressionist, feathery graphics of Skyward Sword gave me doubts about how well it would translate to high definition, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. This game is perfect for those who like a nice hazy CRT headache. This is a gorgeous game that, although being obviously ten years old, nevertheless manages to be attractive in a manner that enhances it. The textures are speckled with tiny paintbrush dabs, and the colors are like out of Cezanne. With their exaggerated expressions, character models are delightfully bizarre, and Skyloft, the floating town at the center of the game, is an utter treat. I don’t know if I have a favorite place in any game other than Wind-Waker, from the desolate promontories to the exquisite multicolored market where you may purchase new and upgraded goods or just take in the atmosphere of being in a large, welcoming tent.

I used to like Skyloft, I recall. I was a little more worried about what was on the other side. I see Skyward Sword as a game with rather boring traversal between gorgeous, little, inventive dungeons. Now that I’m playing, I’m not sure whether this is right.

The dungeons are undoubtedly beautiful and a true highlight of the experience. They begin with the creepy, spiderweb-filled church ruins of the Skyview Temple and become more innovative and entertaining until some of them no longer seem like dungeons at all. Classic items can be gathered; one of my favorite is the vacuum cleaner you get, which you can use for vacuuming in a side quest. There are also some really good boss fights, one of which involved sand physics that was so entertaining that I let it beat me a few more times just to see how it worked.

Other than that, things are often better than I recall. The many settings you come across while looking for dungeons are significantly more diverse than I had remembered. There are just three primary locales in all, yet each time you visit, they reveal new facets of their personalities. Even if the game is heavily padded and repetitive, it still has mini-games like a cunning treasure hunt that other developers would be enticed to include into their own releases. In the end, Skyward Sword seems like the most Metroidy of the Zelda games, with Link traveling between forests, deserts, and mine. Link has never been more like a sewing needle, discovering new patterns in familiar material.

That’s fantastic, but the sky itself still leaves much to be desired. Between venturing into the land under the sky and searching through temples, Link rides a Loftwing bird between floating rocks. Though I still find it difficult to enjoy myself much up here, I believe the thought of a lost world under the clouds is so beautiful that it justifies this idea. A Panini sticker book vibe permeates the area thanks to elements that you summon by hitting blocks in the world below. There are a few really nice islands to explore, not the least of which is the one where I always feel bad about knocking down the chandelier and getting yelled at. However, the whole of it never fully becomes clear and doesn’t seem like a goal in itself, unlike what the Great Sea in The Wind Waker did for me. That sea, with its blue surface always dancing with white caps and its constantly moving horizon, was, to me, a place unto itself. The Loftwing is just your primary means of transportation across the sky, which is always something that exists in between locations. Although there have been a few efforts to integrate the game’s many components, what really gets to me today is how detached it all seems from the real world both below and above the surface of the air. Skyward Sword is a game of distinct components more than any other Zelda.

But those sections. Knowing what happened next in Skyward Sword in 2021 is what makes it so exciting to play. Skyward Sword might seem like the least spacious of Zeldas because it is so complicated on the ground, divided into little areas, small problems, and the next item of business, despite all that empty space above the clouds. Though its fractal-tight coupling of its great concepts makes it brilliant. It seems like the most interrupted and stop-start Zelda there is, even with the quality-of-life adjustments. Aside from a few of really memorable moments, I believe that what’s lacking is space—a space that is full of interesting things to look at and real locations that you can feel as if you are visiting without having to rush to go somewhere—and when I think of Breath of the Wild, that’s the type of area that immediately comes to mind. It’s rare to find much of the type of space in Skyward Sword that fosters the numerous delights of isolation, which are often extremely Zelda-esque.

With Skyward Sword, you can clearly tell that something has to change. Consider how it modifies the formula hesitantly while keeping one of the strictest core trajectories of any Zelda. Its introduction of elements like as the stamina gauge, which will be far more meaningful in the game that comes after. It’s evident today that Skyward Sword is struggling to adhere to its own customs and guidelines. This makes it intriguing to play, yet it also implies that this most human of Zeldas is also the oddest and most compromised.

Review of F1 2021 – A Classic with a Modern Twist

Review of F1 2021 – A Classic with a Modern Twist

What hasn’t changed, actually, is the headline news. The most noticeable aspect of this year’s F1 game is the EA Sports logo that appears when you start it up, after Codemasters sold out to the mega-corporation earlier this year. The game has developed over the years to become, in my opinion, one of the most comprehensive racing game packages available.

It is obviously too recent to have any significant effect on Formula One 2021 (not that Codemasters needed assistance with the more sinister schemes people tend to associate with new bosses, Electronic Arts – the podium pass and other pre-order bonuses from previous years are here, accurate, and thankfully completely ignorable). Indeed, three tracks—Imola, Portimao, and the brand-new street circuit in Jeddah—will be available as free post-launch DLC for the changing target of an F1 circus that is still navigating the epidemic. Thus, this is all quite known material.

Then you have to consider that this is a transitional year for the series as it launches on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X, as well as for the sport itself as it implements the budget cap and prepares itself for the radical new vehicles that will arrive in 2022. In light of all of that, it’s amazing that Codemasters released the game while the season was still in balance; even more amazing, they did it while introducing one of the most entertaining new features in recent memory.

When it comes to new features in F1 2021, the Braking Point narrative mode sets the standard. Despite some initial reservations and minor setbacks, it ends up working very effectively. This isn’t the first narrative mode attempt from the franchise (or Codemasters, for those who recall Race Driver Grid), but it’s a lot more substantial affair given that some of the main characters, like the evil Devon Butler, were introduced in F1 2019. Its many plot points, which are presented in elegant computer-generated-image sequences and include appearances by well-known actors and actresses, span two seasons and almost make up for the cost of admission on their own.

Why does it function so well? To get too specific would be to give away too much, and the fact that there is a story that I believe is worth hearing firsthand should probably tell you enough. However, to put it broadly, what begins as a corny story about a bright young man succeeds in shattering stereotypes, and it’s aided by being based on the politics and rumors of the paddocks. The outcome is more plausible than the progressively exaggerated Drive to Survive Netflix series, and I’m hopeful the subtly hinted at follow-up is made.

Naturally, there are restrictions, and your agency is severely restricted. After selecting the team you want to start young Aiden Jackson with, all that’s left to do is meet the goals – beat a certain person by a given lap, or place in the top five to assist the team earn a higher position in the constructor’s championship – to trigger the next cutscene. Even though you’re just a passenger on this particular ride, the scenarios give you a tour of the various features of the F1 series. Some of the scenarios include having to navigate through the skies to determine which tires to use, dealing with your engineer’s radio chatter as they step in to handle one of the many complex systems on a modern F1 car, or simply enjoying the thrill of racing alongside the sport’s superstars in an experience that’s getting harder and harder to distinguish from the real-life broadcast.

If you’re looking for agency, the career’s My Team mode, which made its debut last season and has now returned with some much-needed adjustments, will more than satisfy your needs. I was able to lead my own Team Lotus through another full season with only a few minor adjustments. These included the ability to earn development points without having to complete all practice programs and a bit more busywork when managing the team’s calendar. I also managed to weave my own compelling narrative while juggling sponsors, spreadsheets, dense development trees, and the more serious task of driving a very fast racing car.

Every now and again, there are issues. Another new feature allows you to pick up the championship for this year at any time. I thought this was fantastic since I wanted to challenge Mercedes and try to win Sir Lewis his eighth title, but alas, that was not going to happen. Rather of playing as your hero, you replace any given driver with your own avatar, a la Quantum Leap. Yeah, what a boy.

While faithful to the real-life FIA’s wonkiness, there are some awkward bugs here and there, some legacy features that may have been removed years ago (please, can we do away with the dialogue choices at the end of each race that remind me of Telltale), and an uneven approach to track limits elsewhere make me want to avoid any more serious minded online multiplayer. This year, the vintage automobiles from prior years are completely missing, and virtual reality isn’t supported either—a regrettable omission for a genre that works so well with the technology.

But just like in other years, I’m not too concerned about it as I’m in the middle of another full career campaign and F1 2021 isn’t where I go to spend endless hours strapped into a sim seat. I’ve always loved playing this console racing on the couch with a controller; it’s the kind of ostentatious console racer that’s becoming less common.

It’s also a showy feature on the latest systems; I’ve been playing mostly on the PlayStation 5, often switching between picture and ray-traced mode to appreciate the finer details and the ray-traced automobiles made by Codemasters. The DualSense works well as well. The left trigger alerts you when the front tires are about to lock, while the right trigger clearly indicates when you’re going to lose traction when forcing your way out of a tight spot.

Having a racing game with so many features on the newest technology is a treat. Longtime viewers will recognize several flaws, and it’s even debatable whether series regulars will find enough fresh content to make the investment worthwhile. Therefore, although this upgrade is minor, it is mostly effective. Let’s enjoy another consistently entertaining, stunningly genuine official Formula One game for the time being, and we’ll see how precisely EA’s influence manifests itself in the future.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles offers a captivating blend of historical education and entertainment, leaning more towards a lesson in history rather than a comedy

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles offers a captivating blend of historical education and entertainment, leaning more towards a lesson in history rather than a comedy

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes a more somber stance towards Ace Attorney’s legal fights. While it retains its colorful cast of characters and unconventional strategies, the game seems considerably different overall, in both positive and negative ways. The Great Ace Attorney’s premise seems like a joke you have to explain to people because of Ace Attorney’s excellent localization: Ryunosuke Naruhodo, your protagonist, is meant to be an ancestor of Phoenix Wright, who was originally called Ryuichi Naruhodo. The renaming highlights an issue that, until recently, was frequent in Japanese media: the notion that the cultural overtones of a Japanese work may overwhelm or confound Western listeners if they were adopted as something else. It’s also the rationale for the refusal to localize several Yakuza and Shin Megami Tensei titles.

While The Great Ace Attorney is a very Japanese duology (some characters have still been renamed for that extra bit of punny sweetness), Ace Attorney was transformed into its own cultural product in the west thanks to the localization, which upped the hilarity with punny names and allusions to western culture. The games are set during the Meiji period in Japan and the Victorian era in Britain, which were significant periods in history for both nations. Rather than being a series of ever more dramatic court cases, I see both games as commentary on both historical periods.

Due to the first case’s circumstances, the unfortunate Ryunosuke found himself in the spotlight and had to appear in court to defend himself. You get familiar with all of the gameplay features from earlier Ace Attorney games as you hear witness testimony and then face cross-examination. You may urge witnesses to provide more details on a statement they made during the cross-examination, which may allow you to get fresh information. All of your current evidence is included in your court record, and you may raise an objection to any remark that you believe to be at odds with the evidence by using your well-known “Objection!” cry.

Very nothing is objectionable at first from Ryunosuke, who starts off as a lawyer by yelling “yes!” and clumsily raising his hand before becoming more certain with time. After a terrible incident, he finds himself traveling to England on a steamboat to complete his fast-track legal school. There, he meets the legendary consulting detective Herlock Holmes. Because of the jury system used in English courts, Ryunosuke must persuade both the jury and the judge in order for the proceedings to go as planned. This notion doesn’t really contribute much to the gameplay. Every trial will culminate with a Summation Examination when the jury finds the defendant guilty by a unanimous vote. Every juror is required to explain their choice, and you are tasked with putting people who have different opinions against one another in order to break the jury’s consensus and allow the trial to proceed.

While it seems like a good concept in theory, it always ends up the same way—that is, it just makes each really lengthy case longer. The concept of cross-examining many witnesses while they are testifying is also applicable, as it was in Professor Layton v. Phoenix Wright. When you question one witness, the other could flinch or exclaim, “Aha!” in a loud voice, revealing a contradiction in the most visible way possible—a somewhat clumsy approach to learn new information.

But Herlock Holmes’ Dance of Deduction, the third new element, has me kind of smitten. You see, The Great Ace Attorney games aren’t only historical parody; they’re also openly fanfiction about Sherlock Holmes. There are several minor allusions to the original, in addition to the presence of several characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings. Of all of them, this one has to be the best; Sherlock Holmes and a few other characters have been renamed in the localized version since the Doyle Estate still owns the rights to several Sherlock Holmes novels.

Herlock is a prick who shows up out of nowhere to claim to have solved the case, but unlike the real Sherlock Holmes, he often makes shocking mistakes. This is where you come in; you have to correct Herlock once he has made his calculation. The correction itself is rather straightforward: you examine a tiny area of the picture and choose one of a very small number of options to replace an earlier piece of information that Herlock used to draw his conclusion. However, the show! It’s kind of a dance, masterfully animated, giving an otherwise very static series some amazing camera work and giving the moment a real feeling of exhilaration at winning the case instead of the desperation of the courtroom.

Though The Great Ace Attorney games play similarly to Ace Attorney in many areas, I believe it’s vital to note that they have a distinct narrative aim. This may frustrate longtime fans of the series, but it also provides an option for those who find Ace Attorney to be too silly. The first Ace Attorney was more about exposing outrageously over-the-top villains than it was about being in court; you could tell who had done something just by clapping your eyes over specific characters.

Ace Attorney was primarily concerned with “how,” not “if,” and the how had to be extraordinary to the point where it may be difficult to play the game; challenging answers are entertaining for spectators but not so much for engaged players. The Great Ace Attorney is much more attentive to court procedures and the nuances of justice, as well as much more helpful. Susato Mikotoba, the judicial assistant, is always at your side and may provide guidance on where to search for hints during an inquiry or in court. However, I was inherently limited in my alternatives, so I seldom got sunk in. Crimes are much less absurd, and even when they are a touch exaggerated, your logic flows quite easily, which is excellent writing, in my opinion. As (S)Holmes would remark, “Whatever remains after you eliminate the impossible must be the truth.”

This is a game about the relationship between Japan and Great Britain, not courtroom bombs at the last minute. It is easier to appreciate if you have some prior information, so here it is: A few years after Commodore Perry secured Japan’s opening and thereby cleared the path for diplomatic ties between Japan and various western nations, GAA takes place in the Meiji era. The British monarchy served as a partial basis for the now-revoked constitution of the Empire of Japan.

Essentially, Britain was one of the nations who considered Japan as basically inferior because of their determination on retaining parts of their own customs and their disinterest towards Christianity, but the Japanese felt Great Britain was great and even attempted to follow its methods of colonization. The central conflict, which you don’t hear much about until the very last few cases, depicts a group of Japanese people torn between wanting to fit into this new idea of Japaneseness and violently rejecting it for the sake of their own cultural identity. The game depicts a lot of the casual, smarmy racism of the time. It’s a delicate balancing act, and one that could cause people to misinterpret the game as imperialist, but it’s surprisingly relevant even today, in a Japan plagued by the notion that dealing with the West and losing to Western powers during World War II cost Japan its honor, and that some things are simply too Japanese for Westerners to comprehend.

Though unevenly divided over two games—especially since those games primarily use a cast of unlikeable characters to illustrate that conflict—it’s all extremely intriguing. Not my favorite Ace Attorney character, but intriguing nevertheless when you consider the game’s historical context. Several cases include well-known novelist Natsume Soseki. In contrast to Ace Attorney, where you had to defend friends and learn a little bit about each cast member with each case, a lot of the content seems disconnected here. Since Ryunosuke just has Herlock and Susato to play off of, you don’t get to know him very well. He also seems kind of passive since he isn’t even involved in the game’s amazing twist. I just wish Ace Attorney’s spinoff had better characters since I like Ace Attorney’s cast of characters.

Like many spinoffs, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a charming package that falls short of the original that you instantly compare it to. Whatever the case, there’s a lot to admire about this game: it attempts some new things in terms of gameplay and scenario, it makes fun allusions, and Shu Takumi’s writing is always delightful, regardless of what else he releases. Many people may find the historical setting to be a bit of a niche interest, but rather than twisting the truth to say that this is exactly like the Ace Attorney you know and love, or that it’s a prequel or an excellent place to start the series, which it isn’t, I’d rather tell you straight up: do you enjoy period dramas? Go ahead and do it.

Despite some occasional clunkiness, the Xbox edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator still manages to capture the magic of flying

Despite some occasional clunkiness, the Xbox edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator still manages to capture the magic of flying

Microsoft Flight Simulator hits the Xbox Series S and X 11 months after it originally stunned the globe with its portrayal of nothing less than the whole Earth. Does the console retain the enchantment that Asobo and Microsoft Game Studios created using photogrammetry, cloud streaming, and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease? Indeed. Does the experience function on a console? That one will need more work to unravel.

That magic, first of all. The console version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is essentially the same as the full PC version, complete with all of the same features, aircraft, and globe, along with an equally immersive experience that will leave you feeling completely amazed as you explore new areas and rotate the map. It looks fantastic as well; if you still have any questions, check out the screenshots here. They were all taken on a Series X, and you can see that the fidelity is simply astounding and that the framerate mostly stays at 30 frames per second (don’t worry, Digital Foundry will provide a thorough analysis soon). I’m in complete awe again, having come from my own little PC with its 1080p screen and now playing in 4K and HDR.

I’m still gasping for air after a few days of nonstop flying, even after logging hundreds of hours on the PC version during the previous year. I find myself staring wistfully at the sun setting over the Thames estuary or that amazing moment when you ascend smoothly and deliberately through dense, stormy clouds to reach the heavens above. Consider that a successful transfer of Microsoft Flight Simulator to a console is in large part due to its amazing features, which are just as good as those of its PC equivalent. This more than suffices, since it is one of the few genuine next-generation games that can be played on Microsoft’s new hardware.

The new Discovery Flights that come with the console version of Microsoft Flight Simulator are the best place to start if you want to verify all of that for yourself. Short, carefree, and breathtakingly beautiful, these carefully crafted experiences take you right to the heart of the simulator’s wonders: a tour of Everest, a sunset in Tokyo, or even a double rainbow that spans from New Haven to Stamford as you soar over Manhattan, all set to the calming ambient music that has come to define Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is basically an opportunity to see those incredible teasers and experience the grandeur up close. This is a clever new entry to the Microsoft Flight Simulator universe.

In other places, the flying School, which serves as a comprehensive lesson covering everything from operating fundamental flying controls to becoming familiar with the nuances of an airliner cockpit, has undergone some much-needed tweaks, offering a solid basis for hundreds of hours of virtual flight. It is an indisputable fact that running a simulation on a console, even one as informal and unrestricted as Microsoft Flight Simulator, will always be a slightly uncomfortable task. Although attempts have been made to make the simulation work, the elegance found in the sky sometimes falls short when it comes to the more practical issues of a functional interface.

The pointer that appears as you stutter through the interface serves as a continuous reminder that Microsoft Flight Simulator is still primarily a PC game. There is support for mouse and keyboard as well as peripherals, but regrettably not many (at least none that I have to hand in the tiny pile of plastic I’ve gathered this past year) support this console version of the game. I’ve been using a controller for all of my flying these days, both for scientific and practical reasons. However, trying to go further into flight control or even simply try simple menu navigation often leads to problems. In other aspects as well, it’s a very PC experience, requiring some deep menu diving when interacting with the content management, where you’ll have to manually download some of the most current global upgrades to experience Microsoft Flight Simulator at its peak. It’s uncomfortable and maybe off-putting to anyone who are new to the sim.

This adaptation also lacks much of the fundamental structure that console gamers yearn for, with the exception of Flight School and Landing Challenges, which include worldwide leaderboards. As with PCs, of course, there’s always the possibility of connecting in third-party add-ons, which will be feasible with the complete and official release but was regrettably unavailable in the beta version we’ve been playing for the last few days. I’m unfortunately rather sure that when the help does come, it will be a complicated process.

And the console version of Microsoft Flight Simulator will probably always be a pain to work with. This is a proper, full-fledged console simulation, and you’re frequently reminded of why that’s an endeavor that hasn’t been undertaken much in the past. Sims, by nature, require a nerdish degree of patience and poking, and this console version of Asobo’s sometimes makes things even more fiddly (trying a fully manual Dreamliner take-off in Microsoft Flight Simulator, PC or otherwise, is probably one of the most challenging tasks you could assign yourself). With excessive fussiness and less flexibility than the PC version, this isn’t the option for the die-hard either.

However, in Microsoft Flight Simulator, something else comes to life in its new setting of the living room. This may be the best version for casual tourists like myself who use it as the ultimate screensaver. Simply choose a location on the map before logging in, turn on a variety of the helpful assistance available, or even give total control to the more than capable AI co-pilot. This past weekend, I spent whole nights staring out of a 747’s window, watching the clouds drift by and following the sun as it set, lost once again in the enchantment and wonder of Asobo and Microsoft Game Studio’s incredible invention.

You may want to lower your expectations before going in since there is work to be done, work that’s already well begun owing to this version getting upgrades in the future along with the PC version. Possibly the most significant aspect, however, is that this is Microsoft Flight Simulator on console, complete with all of its splendor and magic, despite the odd clunker here and there. It is still one of the most amazing video game accomplishments of the last several years, and one of the greatest next-generation console experiences to date.