Several times, I've taken to the skies and exploded. Several times, I've wanted to snatch a Kerbal by his unconcerned cheeks and scream, "Don't just sit there in slack-jawed amazement! Fly this thing, dammit!" But with all that failure and frustration followed intense self-congratulation -- the moment I realized I got a ship shaped like a pizza to fly, or the second I safely returned my Kerbal physicist from a successful Mun (Moon) orbit. Through persistence, trial-and-error, and learning the fundamentals of actual space travel, I somehow met with success. It's the type of success that's intoxicating, and, if you have a penchant for physics or space exploration, completely necessary.
Like most gamers with a lifetime of virtual experiences, my current opinion of games played during my childhood and overconfident teenage years is often aggrandized by nostalgia. Playing these classic titles in the present day arouses sweet memories and emotions specific to the awe and wonder of my first play-through, so even if a game has aged like a rock star who’s spent his best crowd-surfing years cleansing and exfoliating his face with innumerable breasts caked in cocaine residue, I’d probably still enjoy and adore the title for the pleasure it gifted me with during those formative years.
Life in 1980's Communist Romania was stupidly harsh. Freedom of speech was nonexistent. Any anti-government whisper improved the chance of receiving a terrifying visit from the Securitate, Romanian secret police, which pressured families and neighbors to snitch on one another. Writer, journalist, and photographer became some of the most dangerous professions; citizens who engaged in these passions risked, for the crime of "denigrating the socialist reality," a minimum of six years in prison or a maximum of being disappeared, never to be embraced or gazed upon by loved ones again.
When I sit on the embroidered cushion of my imaginary throne to contemplate a series of games that has made the most profound improvements from inception to sequels, the Neptunia franchise is the third or fifth to bop into my brain. While the first game in the main series, 2011’s Hyperdimension Neptunia, established the lighthearted magnetism of its allegorical satire with lovable, comedic characters and narrative, as well as the fitting and unapologetic fan service, it also contained gameplay that I’ve heard fervid Nep-Nep junkies describe as “nightmarish, but definitely worth the struggle.” To some, HN was a charming shit-show, with a brain-fatiguing battle system that could be partially suppressed from the consciousness thanks to the glistening allure of its characters and writing.
A Tasty Recipe For Rogue-lite Delight ...City of Brass - a first-person rogue-lite with a vivid Arabian Nights veneer - shows that if you have an enchanting art style, enemies that are a pleasure to duel and manipulate, and a combat system that's rhythmic and versatile yet simple to execute, procedural generation can become less like a vapid maze of eyesores and more like a tool that actually contributes degrees of surprise and suspense.
It's nearly impossible to play Yakuza Kiwami 2 without feeling spoiled. This remake doesn't just transform an old game's visuals into something more visually palatable. It actually adds all the elements you'd expect from a modern day Yakuza title and wraps them around the bones of the most polished version of the developer's most modern game engine. Fuse these assets together with fan-favorite story and a plethora of side activities, and you have yourself not only one of the best remakes on the market, but also one of the best Yakuza titles to date.
Despite the disappointment I, as a veteran EDF trooper, endured at first glimpse of Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain in action, it soon grew into one of my favorite EDF games in the series, right behind EDF 4.1 and 5. And even with the reduction in the enormity of enemy swarms, it still offers the fun and frantic bug genocide that only the EDF really knows how to provide. Now, not all fans or newcomers will value the compromises Iron Rain makes; however, it cannot be denied that this spinoff was a necessity. In time, it may prove to be filled with a lot of great ideas that progress this underappreciated franchise in profound directions.