dorchadas: (Toon Link)
I'm not sure I had even heard of Oracle of Seasons--in Japanese, fushigi no kinomi -daichi no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Land Chapter-"--before I set out on my Zelda chronogaming quest. It was twinned together with Oracle of Ages and released in 2001, the height of my anti-console snobbery. My loss. But the march of time and technological progress means I can go back to those games that I missed and play them now, when I'll appreciate them. Truly, we live in the the golden age of gaming.

Oracle of Seasons is another weird portable entry, starting a trend that began with Link's Awakening and continuing to this day. The mainline console entries, with the exception of Majora's Mask, are the traditional Zelda games where Link fights Ganon and rescues the Princess, and the handheld games are the ones where he talks to a psychedelic winged whale, rides trains, and plumbs the depths of the same dungeon a dozen times. Or here, uses the progression of the seasons to save a land where the seasons have been thrown into disorder.


Link's dancing was already disordered.

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dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I heard about Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Bonfireside Chat, as a game that was similar to some aspects of the Souls games that they really liked. Then I heard it was a metroidvania game. Well, that's all I need to hear. Sign me up.

I bought it, loaded it up, and took in the beautiful pixel art and moody music. And then I moved forward and was brutally murdered by a chibi with a shield.


A deadly ambush.

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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
Metroid II is the only Game Boy game I've played for longer than a few minutes. One of my sister's friends had a Game Boy, and for some reason that is still opaque to this day, her mother asked me to babysit for them. That mainly consisted of the friend watching TV while I played Metroid II, confusing myself with the changes between that and Metroid. Having to hunt metroids? Jumping morph ball? Trying to play a metroid game on a 160 x 144 pixel screen? I played for about half an hour, got nowhere, and then never played it again.

When I heard about Another Metroid 2 Remake, I figured it would end up vaporware like the various 3D Link's Awakening remakes or shut down before being released like Chrono Resurrection. To my utter astonishment, however, it was finished, released, and was out for almost a month before Nintendo DMCAed it. That was more than enough time for the internet to seize hold of it, and it's easy to find if you spend any time looking.


Threat detected

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dorchadas: (Majora A Terrible Fate)
Majora's Mask almost completely passed me by. I think the first time I even saw any of it was at the first Symphony of the Goddesses concert I went to, where the gameplay footage of a moon with an evil face, Link turning into some kind of plant monster and flying around using flower umbrellas, and mysterious giants assembling to defend the city completely confused me. What was this? What was even happening here? And what is it about Majora's Mask that leads Zelda Dungeon to have a huge philosophical exegesis on the game?

(The answer to that is "When there's only one Zelda game every 3-5 years, they've got to publish something")

When my sister bought a Nintendo 64, I played Super Mario 64 and I played Ocarina of Time, and sometimes I played Blast Corps, and then I played Quest 64 and that was basically it for me. The N64 was not the system for an RPG-lover like myself, so I went back to my PC games and that's why I didn't know anything about this game until I played it.

I feel like I'm still missing a lot, honestly.


"You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?"

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dorchadas: (Gendowned)
One of my favorite games for the original Nintendo was Blaster Master. I played it for hours doing the same levels over and over again, because it was extremely hard. About half of my games never got past the boss of level 3, and those that did never got past the crab boss in level 5. Only once did I ever manage to beat the crab boss, and that was the last time I played Blaster Master.

So when I heard that there was a remake coming out for the Nintendo Switch, I was almost more excited for that than I was for Breath of the Wild. One of the main games of my childhood brought into the modern era? The same gameplay and areas, still with pixel art, but with modern conveniences like the ability to save and Switch's suspending the game at any time? That sounds amazing.

And it is. We ordered the Master Edition of Breath of the Wild, but I'm not playing that. I'm playing Blaster Master Zero.


Blasting again!

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dorchadas: (Default)
Owlboy is a gorgeous game with great music and a touching story that I can't recommend because it doesn't know what it wants to be.

Owlboy first came to my attention the same way Hyper Light Drifter did, by reading an article on Rock Paper Shotgun about it. A later review cemented it in my mind, with John Walker, who hates everything except puzzle games, gushing over the gameplay and story. And, of course, the art.

Well, I'm not sure how far Walker got into Owlboy. I suspect he never beat it, because if he had, he would have written one of his rants about difficulty preventing his enjoyment of a good game. I did beat it and that's what happened to me. I had nothing but goodwill for Owlboy when I started, but it was slowly worn away by the course of the game, and for the last hour or so I just wanted it to end. And then it finally did, I and I put down the controller, and I deleted the game, and I'm almost certainly never going to play it again.

 photo 20170408181606_1.jpg

This game is beautiful, though.

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dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Before Kingdom Hearts, there was another time that Square created a strange hybrid RPG with action elements!

I first played this with my sister and another kid who lived across the street, and we got almost to the end. If I remember right, we nearly stalled out in the volcano and then couldn't beat the Smith Gang when we went on to the final boss, which strikes me as almost unbelievable now that I'm replaying through. Was I ever that bad at video games? Is my memory just bad and we actually won?

Well, I won this time.


Shine get.

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
This is my favorite Kirby game!

I haven't played that many Kirby games, admittedly. Just this, Kirby's Adventure, and maybe five minutes of the original Kirby's Dream Land. But of those three, Kirby Super Star is definitely the winner. It doesn't have the complexity of Kirby's Adventure's wide levels and multiple secrets, or the simplicity of Kirby's Dreamland...but then again, in a way it has both. The real strength of Kirby Super Star is that it contains multitudes. It's structured as a series of smaller games, each of which is played and beaten individually. The first, "Spring Breeze," is a remake of Kirby's Dream Land, and the only one where King Dedede is the enemy. Another one, "The Great Cave Offensive," replicates Kirby's Adventure with its poking around every nook and cranny and using Kirby's various power-ups to unlock secrets through the medium of a treasure hunt. That's just two of the available games.

And, in perhaps the best part of the game, it's multiplayer.


Riding together.  photo emot-glomp.gif

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dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
This is the first thing I ever kickstarted, back in the heady days of 2012 when Double Fine Adventure blew up on kickstarter and revealed the wonders of crowdfunding. I had only ever played the original Wasteland for maybe an hour, but I had read multiple let's plays of it and, more importantly, I'm a huge fan of the Fallout games which were its spiritual successors. So I kicked in for a physical copy of the game (with cloth map!) and waited. And then when it came out, I heard there were some bugs so I waited for them to be fixed. And then I heard there would be a director's cut with new mechanics, so I waited for that. And then I was playing other games. But now, five years later, I finally sat down and decided that this would be the next game I would play so I could taste the fruit of that kickstarter long ago.

It's okay.


All in a day's work.

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dorchadas: (Slime)
I was one of the Final Fantasy fans that failed to make Dragon Quest popular in the West. I borrowed a friend's copy of Final Fantasy and played it to death, even beating it after weeks of work, but I saw someone playing Dragon Warrior and I just wasn't that interested. Simplistic sprites? Shakespearean English? Dying to magicians when he tried to head out to Garinham to buy stronger weapons and armor? No thank you. It wasn't until I went to university that I tried playing Dragon Warrior again, and I thought it was fun enough, persisted to the end, and then left the series behind.

Until I saw that some of the Dragon Quest games had been ported to iOS and I had a two-week-long trip to Japan coming up. I had vague memories of seeing Dragon Warrior IV in Nintendo Power and I'd heard good things about it, so I bought it, downloaded it, and loaded it up during the flight. And while I didn't beat it during the trip--I decided that writing thirty thousand words in daily blogging about it was a better use of my time--I've beaten it now! And it was pretty good!


The operative word here is "try."

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dorchadas: (Grue)
For all the time I spent on DOS games in my youth, I don't go back and play them very often nowadays, even compared to how often I go back and play old console games that I used to like. Some of that is because many of the games I liked were, objectively, not very good. Replaying Jill of the Jungle reminded me how inferior it is to Super Mario Brothers 3, with the central conceit of changing forms seemingly like an afterthought and the save system removing all challenge except for going for the maximum score possible, but without the bragging rights of playing in an arcade.

But other games were great, and Solar Winds is one of them.


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dorchadas: (Link and Zelda together)
This is the game in the lineup I was most worried about replaying.

I mean, even a cursory search on the internet will find an enormous crowd of people who think that Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made, or at least in the top five. I still remember the first time I played it--I have my original gold cartridge sitting by our television--and how amazing it seemed coming from the first Zelda game, since I had only played Zelda II on a brief rental and never owned an SNES or Game Boy. Going from 8-bit self-contained screens to a giant expansive world? Running across Hyrule Prairie that first time, seeing Death Mountain in the distance and getting that "you can go there" feeling that Todd Howard mentioned in an interview about Skyrim? Combat trading sword blows, dodging and circling? It was amazing!

It was amazing, I won't deny that. At the time I first played it, I thought Ocarina of Time was the greatest game I had ever played. But I figured that it was mostly nostalgia and that since much of the amazement was based on technical innovation that had long since been obsolete, I'd have to force myself to play through this to get to Majora's Mask and then other Zelda games I haven't played.

I'm glad to say that's not the case. It's not the greatest game ever made, but I had a lot of fun with Ocarina of Time.


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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I first became aware of Hyper Light Drifter a couple years ago, after the kickstarter had finished but before there was much more info available about it, when I saw this promotional image that seared itself into my brain.


 photo emot-gonk.gif

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dorchadas: (Not the Tale)
I don't usually go to see a movie for a variety of reasons, but as a Christmas present--they can call it for the holidays all they want, but everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas knows what it really is--the vice president of our unit gave everyone two free tickets to an AMC movie, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd mentioned wanting to go see Rogue One, so I told her I would go see it. And today, we did.

Further comments in the spoiler below:

Spoilers )

It's a pretty good movie with some flaws that annoyed me, but not enough to ruin my experience.
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I suppose I should technically put "Hero Quest I" in the title, but I'll get to that.

I grew up on Sierra adventures, your Kings' Quest and Spaces' Quest. But those actually came later. The first Sierra adventure game I ever played was this one, at a friend's house when we were playing around on his parents' computer. I really took to its weird combination of genre styles and, ignoring the message at the beginning of the game about piracy, I borrowed the disks from him and copied the game to my computer, where I proceeded to play it obsessively. This was around when Quest for Glory III: Wages of War came out, so I bought that and imported my character--which blew my mind, by the way--and continued his adventures, and that began a love affair that lasted to this day.

I'm not the only one. I played Heroine's Quest last year, a game that was clearly and obviously inspired by the Quest for Glory games. But I haven't played the original in over a decade, and now that I'm on vacation, and since I still remember the solutions to all the puzzles, why not?


You called?

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dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
I am not a member of the Pokemon generation.

Like I've mentioned before, I got out of consoles after the NES, so my first introduction to Pokemon as something more than that thing people talked about that I didn't know anything about at all was in Smash Brothers, so I thought of pokemon as basically natural disasters. Sometimes they were avoidable, sometimes not, and sometimes you could control them and really annoy your friends by spamming lightning bolts. But nothing about the context around them. And then while we were on the road to Chiyoda, Pokemon Go came out in Japan and I finally managed to create an account and play the game. And for whatever reason, I find it really fun and still play basically every day. Mass Transit makes it easy.

Then year is the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, and so I thought now is definitely the time. And after consulting my friends, and then ignoring most of their advice, and loaded up a copy of Pokemon Fire Red--in Japanese, for the practice--and set out on my journey to ポケモンゲットだぜ! (pokemon getto da ze!, uh, something like, "Pokemon, I'm gonna get them!")


I love how overconfident my rival was, since he lost literally every battle with me.

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dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
I still remember the day that I first played Super Mario Bros. 3. My grandparents were visiting, one of the few times they came out to visit rather than having us come to them, and my grandmother had brought a copy of the game just released that year. I had already read all about it in Nintendo Power, and I think to this day it might be the present I have anticipated the most in my entire life. When she gave it to me I literally danced all around the room, yelling "Thank you!" over and over again. Then I sat down with the Nintendo, then plugged in at the TV in the living room, and booted the game up.

It was just as great as I was led to believe. I've never seen The Wizard, but I understand why Nintendo used it as an opportunity to market the game. People call that movie a feature-length commercial, but honestly, SMB3 deserves a commercial of that length. It is, to this day, my favorite Mario game.


 photo emot-iiam.gif

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dorchadas: (Baldur's Gate II)
That was a wild ride. And in some ways, I don't have much to say because I said it all already.

Baldur's Gate II hasn't unseated Morrowind as my favorite game, but it came really close. Morrowind has its mythological exploration and interesting cultures, and Baldur's Gate II has the relationships between the PC and the other party members. This is where Bioware romances started, and while they were pretty basic in their original forms, with only four romanceable NPCs and only one for a female PC, the basic structure allowed a thousand mods to bloom. Some of them good, like Xan, some of them...less so.

I wish I had written down my time through Baldur's Gate as well, because that really would have provided a complete experience. That full zero-to-hero arc is part of what makes Baldur's Gate I and II so amazing to me. In the very beginning, 250 hours of gameplay ago  photo 58-2nsylaw.gif, Chiyo was a sheltered orphan in Candlekeep and nearly died when an assassin set upon her in the stables of her home. Years later, she fought off a powerful elven wizard in hell for custody of her soul, and this isn't even the end of her story. The Throne of Bhaal awaits. Eventually. I'm not diving into that quite yet.

In the end, I was mostly happy with my list of mods except for Sword Coast Stratagems. I had it set so that pre-buffing was only on NPCs that the designers thought would reasonably have buffed before engaging the PCs, but that was much more extensive than I would have expected. And there were egregious moments, like stripping all the party's buffs between phases in the final battle but still allowing Irenicus to autobuff. If I could go back, I'd keep the spell AI but turn off almost everything else, including the harder battles. Those are obviously designed for someone willing to use a lot of the exploits that I turned off, like allowing simulacrums and projected images to use quickslot items, or keeping Vhailor's Helm--which I modded out of the game--on the PC and then using simulacrum/time stop cheese to do a ton of damage to enemies during time stops. I said in my original post that I'm in favor of difficulty-increasing mods as long as it doesn't mean the AI cheats, and it fell down too much on the AI cheating for my taste. It was just annoying, reducing every battle to wizards stripping buffs from each other, as I mentioned in probably a dozen posts.

The stand-out mods for me were the banter pack, which increases the number of inter-party banters, and the Xan romance mod. I took so long in Chapters 2 and 3 that almost all of the non-Imoen banters were exhausted during the time, but without the banter mod I probably would have run out of banter in the first ten hours or so. And Xan's romance... Kawaii heart emoji photo heart_emoji_by_kawaiiprincess2-d51re77.gif It's cheesy in places, but I installed it as a parody of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my relationship, with Chiyo as the eternally-chipper half and Xan as the doom and gloom half. I totally forgot the vampire dreams, which add a lot of context to Xan's eternal gloominess. It was mostly a well-written displace of understated emotion, with Xan's love coming out in little gestures unless Chiyo was under threat. The most memory part was probably when Chiyo picked a fight with a red dragon and Xan rushed over to her afterward.

If I could change anything, I'd go back and add more dialogue to the earlier sections. When I first started I would take notes while I played and do the write-ups later, so I had the gist of what was said rather than the specifics. Later on I would write the posts while I played, so I spent a lot of time transcribing dialogue. Some of that is because I was more interested in transcribing the text of plot-important dialogue rather than all the quests I was on, but part of it was wanting to more accurately preserve the experience. I might go back at some point and edit some earlier posts with the exact dialogue for more of the banter, since that's the best part.

The end of the game jumped right into Throne of Bhaal, but I'm not going to. I've been playing this game on and off for a year and a half, and the original reason I started, other than never having beaten it before, is I wanted to play the original before I played all the kickstarted isometric RPGs that were inspired by the old Infinity Engine games. And now I've done that, and I can go play Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity with a clean conscience. Probably Wasteland II first. I need a break from fantasy worlds.

Forgotten Realms as a setting seems almost overwhelming, but Baldur's Gate II presents it in a very digestible format. It really dials into the world, with the extended period in a drow city, the random githyanki that show up wanting their silver sword, the society of the elves and their gods, and Irenicus's plan.

Now I can see why Irenicus is so well-loved as a villain. Some of it is David Warner's voice acting, spoiled extensively here, but some of it is that I have a soft spot for "become a god" plots. Also, it's the way that he plans ahead. Insinuating Yoshimo into the party--when I first played the game, I took Yoshimo willingly and I would have been caught completely be surprise by his betrayal--setting up Spellhold as a trap, making common cause with the drow, starting the guild war in Athkatla...while it seems that he's distant and not paying attention for much of the game, in retrospect it's obvious that all the major plots that aren't quests to go get money, like the aforementioned quest to deal with a dragon, are the results of his plots. There are so many RPGs where the villain doesn't seem to be doing much during the game, or where the "true villain" suddenly reveals itself at the end despite never previously showing up at all *cough*FFIV*cough* that seeing one where he's so well-integrated is a joy. And most of the time, when he talked, I wouldn't skip past his dialogue because I wanted to hear the voice acting.

What a fantastic game. It took me almost 150 hours, but it was time well spent and I'm looking forward to Throne of Bhaal...eventually.
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I wanted to play this game pretty much from the moment I first saw it, but it took me a long time to get to it. I didn't buy it until months after it came out, and then I just didn't get around to it. I've been watching more TV lately with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd now that we have some YouTube channels we like keeping current on and are watching more anime. I've been tinkering with some RPGs that I may or may not ever run. And there were all the other games I wanted to play. That playthrough of Baldur's Gate II that I'm currently 132 hours into and still not finished with. The Zelda games that I've decided I want to chron-game through as many as I can before the Switch comes out. Playing through Mass Effect III even though I hated Mass Effect II because I had to finish the trilogy and see if ME3 really was good for the first 90% and it was only the end that was terrible (spoiler: no, it's almost all terrible). You know how it is.

Wait, that's just me? Oh. Um.


You can't jump on the bubbles.

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dorchadas: (Zelda Dark Princess)
The Game Boy was kind of a weird time. There were a ton of puzzle games, exhaustively (and exhaustingly) covered in Jeremy Parish's Game Boy World series. There were the games that were brought over and then jammed into an existing series, like how 魔界塔士 SaGa (Makai Tōsho SaGa, “Spirit World Tower Warrior SaGa”) became Final Fantasy Legend. There were the ever-popular licensed platformers with almost nothing to do with their source material, like the Batman game where Batman ran around shooting all his enemies in the face. And there were the spinoffs from popular Nintendo franchises. Sometimes this turned out badly, like the first Castlevania Game Boy game where the developers had to add a ton of invincibility powerups as compensation for the incredibly cheap enemy attack patterns and level design. And sometimes it turned out well, like Link’s Awakening.

A couple of years ago, I went to a concert called Symphony of the Goddesses that features orchestral arrangements of Legend of Zelda songs--I first wrote about it here when I went to an earlier arrangement--and they had a focus on Link’s Awakening. In addition to gameplay sequences from the DX version of the game, they had anime sequences they inserted cutscene style, made specifically for the concert. It was listening to that, to the music from a game I had never played and watching Link work his way through the dungeons, that first got me interested in playing through Link’s Awakening. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [livejournal.com profile] slarnos’s advocating for it also helped, and that’s why I started this game so quickly after I finished the previous Zelda game.

And I like the name a bit better in Japanese, I admit. ゼルダの伝説 夢をみる島, “Legend of Zelda: The Isle that Dreams.”


I, too, write my name on the back of all my possessions.

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dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
When I was young and had newly acquired an original Nintendo, I went shopping one day for a game with my parents. I fixated on a game--I no longer remember what it was--and told my father that I wanted it. He looked it at dubiously and suggested something different, a game I had never heard of called Maniac Mansion. I looked at the cover, with the house and the five misfits on the cover and the weird face in the background, and I turned it out. It didn't look exciting. It didn't have Mario or explosions or spaceships on it. Would I really like this? Despite his attempt to convince me, I rebuffed his suggestion and insisted on my initial choice.

Well, it turns out that maybe I should have gone with my father's choice. I spent years after playing adventure games on the PC and I don't even remember what game it was I wanted so badly. I've always remembered the game that my father suggested, though, and now that it's October and I'm looking for spooky games to play, I thought it was finally time that I sit down and do so.


Arson, murder, and jaywalking.

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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
I'm sorry, ever since I heard what Resident Evil was called in Asia I've thought it was a much better name. The Western name makes sense for the first game, and from what we've seen up the upcoming game it works for that one too, but Biohazard is obviously more fitting for the others.

This is one of the many games I played through in [livejournal.com profile] uriany's basement, along with twenty runs of Chrono Trigger, parts of Resident Evil III, parts of Final Fantasy VIII, and others more numerous to count. I handled most of the action and he handled most of the planning, because I was better at the quick-time events and he was better about remembering where to go and where all the treasures were hidden--and he enjoys watching other people play video games more than I do. After we beat the game and unlocked Mercenaries, for hours at a time we'd trade off and try to get a higher score, spotting each other for chainsaw-wielding murder machines, suggesting routes, and just having a blast. I don't often miss the days before I moved to Japan, but those days just playing games together are one of the things I miss the most.


Ridiculous fishing.

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dorchadas: (Not the Tale)
As of an hour after sundown today, Yom Kippur ended for another year. Due to our local synagogue refusing to take our money for reasons we still haven't really been able to figure out, we didn't get tickets to services, so instead [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I watched a simulcasted Kol Nidre service put on by Nashuva last night. I took a few of my vacation days and took the rest of this week off, so I stayed home, and one of the things I did during Yom Kippur was read the book of Jonah, as is traditional.

As with most "why do you..." questions in Judaism, there are multiple answers as to why Jonah on Yom Kippur. The two I know are first that it shows that G-d is like the Terminator and will follow you to the ends of the earth such that there is no escaping his sight or knowledge, and second that it shows G-d's mercy because Ninevah was wicked but when Jonah delivered G-d's message, they sincerely repented and were spared, just as we hoped that sincerely repentance will ensure we are written into the Book of Life. I'm sure there are multi-page dissertations on the exact meaning of the withering tree at the end even though G-d spells out what he was trying to demonstrate exactly, but those I don't know.

One other thing I did, once the sun set, was play a game:


Spoiler: Not that great.

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dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
Back when video game magazines were a real thing that came every month, when they were the only real source of gaming news other than your friend's uncle who worked at Nintendo, one of my favorite magazines was PC Gamer. Not for the news contained within, necessarily, but for the demo disks that came with it. I got probably thousands of gaming hours of those demos--I remember waking up early every morning for a week while I was in middle school to play the demo of Master of Magic, Merlin against Kali--and one of the ones my sister and I both loved to play was Theme Hospital. There were only a couple levels and a small complement of the full list of diseases, but we extracted all the fun it had and then some. My sister can still quote lines from the game's announcer now, almost twenty years after she first played the game.

So when I saw that GOG had it available and that it was on sale, I snapped it up. I had never played the full game for any length of time and now was my chance, now that all the gaming wealth of the world is available to us. I was deciding between Frozen Synapse and Theme Hospital and did a bit of research on the internet. After finding a few comments about Frozen Synapse's more annoying levels, I decided to go with Theme Hospital. HLTB says it's about 24 hours, which is longish for a non-RPG but not a bad length of time, and about the same as Frozen Synapse. And playing it was so much fun when I was a child, right?

Well, dear reader, let me tell you--sometimes you should let a happy memory remain a memory.


The Gut Rot drug is certainly not 75% alcohol by volume.

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