A Drive to GameStop

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Last night, Wyatt and I took a drive to GameStop (which we used to do all the time before the pandemic). I got to learn the latest from his adventures with Apex Legends. Specifically:

  • How Wyatt loves using the character Seer.
  • How he might use his Apex Coins to buy Ash.
  • Or maybe he will just get the battle pass.

As talk of Apex Legends died down, Petra whispering quietly on the stereo background, I asked:

“How was school today?”

“It was good.”

And then:

“How are guitar lessons?”

“They are going great.”

We talked a little bit more as I pulled into the GameStop parking lot. Grabbing my copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to trade in, we went inside the store. A few moments later, we were the proud owners of Metroid Dread.

We spent the next hour passing the controller back and forth. Dying. A lot. But we had fun playing Metroid Dread, learning how to jump (it is an art), and getting our heads around the spastic movements of protagonist Samus Aran. Just as we were finally comfortable with the controls it was time for Wyatt to take a shower and go to bed. Overall though, we had a pretty solid night.

Pressing Onward – Thoughts on Death Stranding So Far

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Incinerate the President of the United States (who also happens to be your mom) – CHECK!

Survive BT’s (surrounding/guarding the incinerator) and get home – CHECK!

Go back to “the beach” – CHECK!

Start a mission that brings you closer to saving your sister – CHECK!

Connect the United States of America to the “Internet” – Wait. What? The Internet has been out?

What I love about Death Stranding is the exploration. Knowing that I can choose my route from Point A to Point B. Sure there are hazards along my way such as BT’s (see photo of ghost-like-things below) and Timefall (rain that accelerates aging/equipment decay). But at the core, Death Stranding is about earning that sense of accomplishment you feel from traversing unforgiving terrain. This game is beautiful, and I’m sorry that I let the initial poor reviews rob me of this experience.

Press Start – Death Stranding

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I just happened to listen to The Reformed Gamers Podcast – Episode 99 – The Pro-Life Message of Death Stranding last week; Then I just happened to walk into GameStop yesterday with Wyatt.

“Hey dudes, how are you doing? Is there anything I can get for you?”

I smiled, “I’d like a used copy of Death Stranding please.”

Death Stranding huh…”

The clerk opened a drawer and thumbed through it.

“Oh yeah, I’ve got a lot of copies of Death Stranding. Have you ever played it?”

I smiled again, “Nope.”

You could tell that he wanted to say more about the game… but decided not to. I was sure he wanted to talk me out of buying a copy.

“It is definitely a Kojima game.”

I’m about an hour into Death Stranding and liking what I’m playing/seeing so far.

1, 2, 3, 4, Review Scores Are Out The Door

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Today, on my commute to work, I was listening to The Reformed Gamers Podcast – Episode 197. The host of the podcast, Logan, had on Colin Moriarty. Now you may now Colin from his work at IGN or from his podcast Sacred Symbols: A PlayStation Podcast. Anywho, Colin was talking about how for years he had passionately argued against review scores. How ultimately a review score of 8.5 or even a 9.0 doesn’t tell you a lot about the game in question. This got me thinking about review scores in general.

Here at JohnnyBGamer, I used to score games on a 1-5 system (1 being awful; 5 being the absolute best thing ever). For example, Josh and I rated Firewatch a 4/5:

4/5 – Plot holes mare what could have been a revelatory narrative experience.

We talk, in the review, about the game. What we liked, disliked, and what resonated with us. It is a fine review (wow, wrote that in 2016!). I even stand by the review score. But, sometime within the last year, I have decided to let the review scores go. I want to present what we like, dislike, and what resonates or doesn’t resonate. I ultimately want to be able to review a game without attaching a review score to it (see Biomutant review).

I realize, by listening the Colin today, that I do not have any sort of weight on Metacritic (nor do I want to). I want to:

  • Experience the games I play
  • Write about them
  • Post pictures
  • Share how they feel / play

I won’t be attaching a review score any longer. I realized that this is a decision I had already made but felt it was important to share.

Happy gaming.

Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power Review

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For well over a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has entertained millions around the globe. Allowing us to follow characters such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America as they ultimately triumph over evil. That cinematic universe has expanded into television with WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki (I won’t forget ABC Television’s Agent Carter either). All of which position Marvel as a household name and powerhouse brand. Now branding can be a tricky thing, especially when a product doesn’t live up to the gold standard the brand has set.

Tabitha, Wyatt, and I decided to give Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power a shot this past weekend. We borrowed the game from friends, after they couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with it. Having played Disney Villainous, we thought we were set to do battle against the Avengers, right? What could a few do-gooders do against the might of Thanos, Ultron, Killmonger, Hela, or Taskmaster?

First, we had to pick our villains:

  • Tabitha picked Hela.
  • Wyatt picked Ultron.
  • And I picked Taskmaster.

We each took turns playing our domain (our game boards); getting to know our individual characters, their cards, etc. If you haven’t played Disney Villainous, each turn consists of a player moving to one of four spaces (as shown below). In the “Reconfiguration Base” space, for instance, you can:

  • Play a Card
  • Draw 2 Power Tokens
  • Discard Cards
  • Vanquish an Opponent

Once you do the four things the space requires, your turn ends. If the space has a Fate Card icon on it, like the “Manufacturing Array”, you draw from the Fate Deck. This is where the similarities with Disney Villainous ends and Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power begins.

The Fate Deck

In Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, all of the Fate Decks are shuffled together. (Note that in Disney Villainous, this shuffling is not a thing. You keep your individual Fate Deck that other players draw from/play against you.) So in our case, the 15 common Fate Cards were shuffled together with our characters individual Fate Decks. This makes for one large pile of cards that can impact your turn by:

  • Someone sending an Ally
  • Dropping a Hero on a player (who then has to deal with said hero)
  • Event Cards

Event Cards

When a player draws an Event Card, the game is impacted until that event is dealt with. For “Helicarrier Alert”, you can only draw up to 3 cards at the end of your turn until players have sent enough Allies to deal with the 6 points of damage.

For the Event Card “Stolen Antiquities”, this card only directly impacts Killmonger. However, all the the players are free to Relocate Allies until the card is vanquished.

β€œPerfectly Balanced, as all this should be.” – Thanos

In the End

Perfection, balance if you will, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power fails to bring anything of value to the Villainous formula. The addition of having one large Fate Deck, in combination with Event Cards, does nothing to the game but bring misery. Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power takes an already complicated game and makes it even more complicated (and longer, time-wise). The game feels like it needed a few more months of plotting before execution. Because of this, I will be sticking with Disney Villainous.

However, Wyatt loved it! Did I mention he won? He told me that the characters actually make sense within the context of the game, unlike Disney Villainous.

Go figure.