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Chthonic Boom

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  1. You've got the wrong game - you're thinking of Legend of Zelda: Smears of the Kingdom.
  2. 7. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy After the mammoth effort it took to get through Midnight's Children, I thought I'd go for something a bit easier going. I chose... poorly. Western, set in the 1840s, following a nameless character ("the kid") as he falls in with a bad crowd roaming across Mexico murdering basically anyone they come across. I'm pretty sure this is the bleakest book I've ever read; it's just an unremitting tale of people being horrifically violent to eachother. There's very little in the way of motivation - none of the characters display any sort of interiority, and in fact it feels pointedly disinterested in exploring why any of the characters are doing what they do. I guess that the impersonal nature of the violence is the point - the Judge's monologues dig into this, and it's a reflection of the savage nature of life in the time it's set in. But as a reader I just found it heavy going and came away wishing I had picked up something different. I know there are a few dedicated CMcC fans here (I picked it up because I'd seen some recommendations on here) so feel free to tell me why I'm completely wrong! 8. Finna by Nino Cipri This was the palate cleanser I was looking for - an extremely lightweight novel about an ex-couple who work at a knock-off Ikea-clone, who have to try to rescue a customer who's fallen into an alternate dimension by hopping through different alternative realities. The main characters are of diverse sexuality and gender identity, and it does get a bit snarky with its gender politics at times, but it was a nice change in perspective reading something which isn't about/targeted at me. Thought the general dimension-hopping conceit was a fun idea, but it never really followed through doing anything unexpected with the concept or its characters. Read in 2023:
  3. I tried this, and wouldn't recommend it. Proper dual boot support is apparently going to be coming in a later SteamOS update, but for now there's a lot of faffing about following convoluted youtube tutorials to get it going. You'll need a keyboard and mouse or it'll be a nightmare to try to do everything. The tutorials I was following didn't work fully for me - the boot loader got messed up and lost my SteamOS install (though it was recoverable), and then I couldn't get the controller working in gamepass games, which was the whole reason I was trying to get Windows on there in the first place. So after spending a morning on it, I rage quit and nuked it with a fresh SteamOS install.
  4. This is 35% off in the steam sale so I picked it up. It's good fun - just a really nicely executed game that doesn't outstay its welcome (I smashed through it in a single <2hr session.) Thanks for the recommendation!
  5. If you haven't pulled the trigger yet, I have spare keys for Grim Fandango and Broken Age from bundles which you're welcome to.
  6. 6. Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie The life story of a man born at midnight on the day when India became independent, and how his life parallels that of India itself. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I'd been aware of Salmon Rushdie from the fatwa stuff since I was young, and I always had him pegged as quite a Serious Author writing Serious Books for Serious People. It was actually a lot more playful and fun in the writing than I'd expected. I think I'd enjoy it more on a second reading now that I know what to expect, but at 650 pages I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon. Read in 2023:
  7. A bit late to the party, but I've just picked this up, and it's really something special. I got pretty engrossed with it and smashed through it in a couple of days. The difficulty was just right - I never got completely stuck, but a few of the cases (particularly the dinner party and the manor) took a bit of thinking to work through. The final plot twist landed perfectly for me, I put the pieces together just as I needed to to solve the last murder. (Though looking back, there were some pretty big hints at it in the earlier cases.) I loved the bite sized cases. I've never managed to get into Obra Dinn, as every time I load it up I get intimidated by the massive journal, but this kept things feeling manageable all the time. Really should give it a proper go though, given how much I ended up loving this.
  8. I've gone back and played through Pikmin 1. It sets down the fundamentals which haven't changed much since, but there's a lot of friction that gets smoothed off in the later games. I remembered it being less polished than the others, but I didn't expect to be quite so irritated at times. Some of this is small quality of life control things (like being able to switch between pikmin types in your group), but a lot of it was just the pikmin being frustratingly unreliable. They'll regularly break away from the group when they see a patch of grass, or some interesting rocks, or an unbudded pellet bud, or they might just fall over and get separated, so a trip across the map feels like herding a bunch of toddlers who need to be watched at all times. The level design doesn't help, with little sticky-outy bits that they can get trapped on, or bridges without rails over water which aren't wide enough for your party, which require careful shepherding. I wasn't keen on the time limit, but ended up finishing comfortably at day 19 out of 30. Surprisingly, there's no signs of the planet being post-apocalyptic earth, which must start to turn up in Pikmin 2. The plot is surprisingly dark though. There's the bad ending, where your ship explodes on takeoff, and the pikmin take Olimar back to their onion and plant him, turning him into one of them. The good ending is also creepy - after you leave, the pikmin start attacking enemies on their own, and the game finishes with a flotilla of onions leaving the planet. Did I just train an army of killers who are now going to sweep across the galaxy eliminating all before them? I'm glad I went back, and overall I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend this to anyone who hadn't played a Pikmin game before. On to Pikmin 2 next, which I have very strong nostalgia for, so I'll be interested to see how it holds up.
  9. From the art style I'm half expecting a goose to jump out and fuck your shit up at any point.
  10. Planet of Lana is great. They've absolutely nailed the animation and the sound design on the little alien cat thing. The first time I fell off a cliff, it made this really upset noise, and I genuinely felt bad for it. This is now my best friend and if anything bad happens to it in this game I am not going to be accountable for my actions.
  11. Okay, so people will probably think I'm a bit weird here, but this is my most anticipated game of the year. Pikmin is up there with Mario and Zelda as tier 1 Nintendo for me, and I'm convinced that this is going to be the best game in the series. Pikmin 1 was a fascinating game, full of imagination but a bit rough around the edges. For Pikmin 2, they took the game, polished it until it gleamed, and just stuffed it to bursting with ideas. What if most of the enemies had multiple different variants? What if some of the cannon beetles spat out boulders that homed in on you, which you could kite around the level to take out other enemies? What if there was a series of procedurally generated underground caverns with their own unique environment and enemies? What if one of your characters would provide recipe tips for cooking every monster that you encountered? What if there was a dynamic score that changed time signature as you switched between the characters, so that the captain had the theme played as a regimented military march and the bumbling sidekick had it played in swing time? What if there was a weird blobby water ghost monster that chased you around a series of levels on a steamroller? It felt like they just did anything and everything they could think of, and it was magnificent. Pikmin 3 was lovely, and wonderfully crafted, but after Pikmin 2 I was a bit sad that it felt more restrained. They've had years to take this and build on it, and the trailer has new monsters, new pikmin types, the caves are back, a weird dog thing, it's just giving me the sense that we could have something brilliantly eccentric on our hands here. I've got myself all worked up here and I think I'm going to have to figure out how to emulate the old games now.
  12. Thumbnail confirms purple pikmin are back! Yes yes yes welcome back, you are my spirit pikmin. GOTY 2023 confirmed.
  13. Picked this up in early access and after a couple of hours playing through the first map, I'm loving it. Thief 2 was my entry point into immersive sims, and it's never been topped in my mind. A lot of games like Deus Ex took elements from it, but went for a broad range of systems rather than keeping a tight focus on stealth, so they always felt a bit watered down in comparison. This is the first game I've played since then that feels like it's really trying to play in the same space. I understand the reason for taking away quicksave, and I'm guilty of ruining games for myself in the past by overusing it (yeah, I'm looking at you, Dishonoured), but I still didn't get on with the fixed save locations at first. I had a much better time when I started treating stealth fails as an opportunity to run around like a headless chicken, making a ruckus, scoping out the area, and going down in a blaze of glory. Hands down favourite part so far was trying to open the safe:
  14. 4. Babel by R. F. Kuang Alt-reality fantasy in the vein of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this is set around Oxford university in an alternate 1800s where magic is worked through the use of language and translation. It's got a lot to say about empires (spoiler alert: it's not a fan) and spends quite a bit of time getting into the nuances of translating between languages. The empire stuff was quite heavy handed at the start (oh wow! it turns out that slavery was pretty bad!) but it works better as the book progresses and it gets more organically included in the plot rather than just dropping tetchy footnotes in all the time. Picked up on a whim when browsing on Amazon, and enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting. 5. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin Chinese sci-fi. I know this is really well regarded, but I had very mixed feelings about it. The overall concepts were interesting, but I really didn't get on with the writing style. I've had this reaction before when reading hard sci-fi, where it feels like the characters aren't particularly fleshed out; they just exist as vehicles to enable the sci-fi thought experiments the author is really interested in. At one point, a character which feels like it should be a pretty big deal, but she just goes on with her business without any apparent concern. I didn't have any attachment to any of the characters, but I got more engaged as the book progressed and it became clearer what it was actually about, so I'll probably pick up the other books in the trilogy at some point. Read in 2023:
  15. Nintendo announce the successor to the Switch, the Newer DS (double switch). It's a hinge mechanism that links 2 Switches together into a giant clamshell configuration. Tears of the Kingdom becomes a DS exclusive and is pushed to 2024. A prototype Xbox Series M (handheld console with the guts of a series S) is spotted on Phil Spencer's shelves, but is cancelled without ever being formally announced. The Activison Blizzard purchase is approved, once cooler heads prevail and everyone remembers that studios purchased by Microsoft don't actually release games, so it won't be anticompetitive after all. The first round of Microsoft owned studio closures begins. Hot on the heels of their success increasing the price of the base PS5, Sony release the PS5 Phat, which is 20% larger than the original PS5. Naughty Dog announce a remaster of The Last of Us Part II.
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