I Played a Bunch of Video Games So Far in the Pandemic

At the start of the pandemic, to prevent myself from worrying about the slow crumble of the world, I made a pact that I would focus on getting through my backlog of games. Okay, first of all, when I say “backlog,” I don’t just mean games I haven’t played before. My goal was to have a healthy mix of games that mean a lot to me, and games that have always been on the list but never got the time they deserved.

Also, I buy too many games.

When I tap on “All Software” on my Nintendo Switch, the fan roars to life. I just counted, and I currently have 313 games (not counting the fact that some of the games are collections, or the NES, SNES, Genesis, and N64 Online buckets). There are somewhere around 150 games on my Playstation 4, a solid 200 tied to my Xbox, and my Steam library clocks in at over 900.

I have a problem and I don’t know how to fix it, so the best thing I can do is chug through these games as best as I can. With that said, I mostly replayed retro games that came out years before these other platforms.

Nobody can tell me what to do, not even me.

Here’s a fairly complete list of what I did:

Diddy Kong Racing

A kart racer that pulled me away from Mario Kart 64 back in 9th grade, Diddy Kong Racing still holds up today. Great music, great tracks, and a really fun story campaign makes this an outstanding game. Wizpig wasn’t nearly as much of a nightmare as he was when I was 14. I think today, Diddy Kong Racing feels better than Mario Kart 64. It has certainly aged better over the years, and the simple story mode is still a nice little treat as opposed to simply choosing a cup through a menu. Rare was always great at making nice little hub worlds.

Super Mario Bros 3

Regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, Super Mario Bros 3 is a timeless classic that I’ve played through countless times and will revisit again.  This particular run didn’t use warp whistles – I wanted to hit every stage.

Super Mario 64

I actually played through Super Mario 64 twice during the pandemic. The first on the Wii U Virtual Console, and the second time via the now banished Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection on the Switch. I’ll never pick up this game without collecting all 120 stars. Read my review. Oh, and hey, now it’s on the Nintendo 64 Switch Online Expansion Pack service, in case you really missed out.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic’s second Genesis cartridge delivers so much more than the first. This run included collecting all seven Chaos emeralds so I could turn into Super Sonic for the last several acts. I actually burned through this game a second time a month or two ago, so like Super Mario 64, this one got two completions.

Super Mario Land 3: Warioland

I fell in love with Warioland as a kid before I beat its predecessor, Super Mario Land 2. It’s a very different type of platformer, focusing more on exploration. Simple, solid, and in the end, very silly. I wish Nintendo would revisit this franchise.

Wario Land 2

I’ve owned Wario Land 2 since college, but never really gave it a chance despite loving the first one. This is the first game on the list that I hadn’t really played (I think I played the first stage once or twice before moving on to something else). I was surprised at the complexity of this game. Many stages have multiple exits, giving you a different path through the story with multiple endings. I didn’t realize how much I was going to like it.

Frostpunk

Frostpunk is a city-building simulator that takes place in a steam-punk world that is experiencing an ice age. You have to manage people, resources, and heat. It’s somber, yet intense at the same time. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

It’s an interactive album that plays like an on-rails shooter, except it’s a million times better than anyone can actually describe it. I want more. This definitely feels like a game I’ll come back to.

Ori and the Blind Forest 

A beautiful Metroidvania with a good level of challenge. Ori was a great time. Looking back, the biggest obstacle for me was the skill tree and deciding how to prioritize leveling Ori up. I’ve started the sequel but I’ve still got a ways to go before I complete it. Ori and the Blind Forest is definitely a must-play.

Mega Man

Can you believe I never played through the first Mega Man before? I’ve bought every iteration of the Mega Man collection since they had been releasing them on the GameCube. I finally put my big boy pants on and boy, was I not disappointed. Once you play them for a bit, they don’t feel as insurmountable. For the record, for each Mega Man game, I did look up the suggested boss order – I don’t have that much free time on my hands.

Mega Man 2

My parents rented Mega Man 2 for me back when I was seven. 31 years later, I kicked its ass. Even better than the first, Mega Man 2 was a great time. I can see how people love this game. If I owned it as a kid and dedicated my time to it, the nostalgia I already have for this series would be off the charts.

Mega Man 3

Keep this train going! Mega Man 3 was good. I was starting to get a little tired of them at this point, but I was so glad I was finally making some progress on this classic series.

Kirby Superstar Spring Breeze

Kirby has always been a great series for beginners. I pulled out Kirby Superstar one night and talked Steph into co-oping. Weeks later she forgot the entire experience, but Spring Breeze can be finished in like 20 minutes, so nobody blames her.

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

I don’t dislike the New Super Mario Bros games. The first one on the Nintendo DS was such a great way to get back into the series. New Super Mario Bros U would be the fourth New SMB, and tagging it with Deluxe means it was a rerelease. That might sound a little tiring, and that’s likely how you’ll feel by the end of this. It’s not a bad game. I enjoyed it for what it is, even if it is a little uninspired. It deserves a full review because I promise it’s worth playing, especially if you like 2D Mario platformers. Even though New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe was a little lacking, I still want more traditional sidescrolling Mario. Come on, Nintendo!

Super Mario World

Palate cleanser! Super Mario World is one of my favorite Mario games of all time. It just feels so good. In my run, I hit all 96 exits, as you do. Here’s my review.

Donkey Kong Country

The Donkey Kong Country series is something that I’ll spin up and play through once every couple of years. While the first game in the series isn’t quite as polished, it brings a lot of fun platforming to the table. I wrote a review a while back.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

One of my favorite video games of all time, Donkey Kong Country 2 blows the first out of the water. I would never start a new save file without achieving a 102% completion.

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

While some might say that DKC3 is the black sheep of the original trilogy, I think it’s the most innovative. With fun level quirks and mechanics, DKC3 is always a joy to play, and it has only gotten better with age (and my own wisdom).

Crash Team Racing

I had never really played CTR when I was a kid. Why would I, when Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing were on deck? I picked up the remaster on the Playstation 4 and had a good time going through the main game. The daily store rotation turned me off, however. Even though I enjoy the Crash Bandicoot series, CTR probably won’t replace other kart racers for me, even though there really isn’t anything wrong with it.

Metroid Zero Mission

The retelling of the first Metroid game, Metroid Zero Mission is a fun, accessible game. Whereas the first Metroid title on the NES did absolutely nothing to hold your hand, let alone give you a map, Zero Mission holds your hand a little too much instead of letting you explore and figure things out on their own. Still, it adds so much to the series and has held a special place in my heart since it was first released on the Gameboy Advance. Also, that extra ending is such a treat.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

A nearly perfect 2D platformer, Yoshi’s Island is a gorgeous game with fun puzzles and interesting platforming. It was one of those games that kept my Super Nintendo hooked up long after the Nintendo 64 arrived. It’s bonkers I haven’t reviewed it. On this playthrough, I accomplished 100 points on each stage to unlock all of the secret stages.

Rez Infinite

Rez is one of those games where I think you had to be there to enjoy. It’s a good arcady time, and definitely a treat for the eyes and ears, but I did have to break up my play time into small chunks to keep my attention span. It was pretty nifty on the Oculus Quest II though.

Super Mario RPG

My brother and I had Super Mario RPG when it first came out. I simply wasn’t patient enough to get into the turn-based combat, and although Randy was close to beating it, he says he accidentally sold one of the best weapons in the game and couldn’t defeat some of the bosses towards the end. I finally gave this masterpiece the time it deserved, and I’m glad I did. It was a silly game, packed with tons of content, puzzles, minigames, and great characters. I now understand why everyone wanted Geno in Super Smash Bros.

Wolfenstein New Order

Ever have a time in your life where you just want to destroy a bunch of Nazis? I had played the first few hours of Wolfenstein New Order a few years ago, and it was taking up at least 60 gigs on my PC’s hard drive, so I decided to start it over and get to the end. It was a great time. I need to make it to the rest of the series eventually.

Star Fox

Star Fox, as in the original Star Fox on the Super Nintendo, powered by the Super FX chip. I never had this game as a kid, but I’ve gone through Star Fox 64 at least a thousand times in my life. Thankfully, the SNES Classic Mini had it, and I went through each of the paths. It definitely does not hold up, but it’s not entirely unplayable either. I wish Nintendo would crank out a Star Fox game every year or two. As long as they follow the same basic formula and don’t add too many Dinosaurs or third-person shooter segments, they really can’t go wrong.

Super Metroid

I was surprised to learn that this game wasn’t a massive commercial success. It wasn’t my first playthrough, but I never owned the cartridge as a kid. Still, Super Metroid is a fantastic entry in the Metroid series, and up until now with Metroid Dread, it was the best. Can we all take a moment to appreciate the absolute banger this track from the Brinstar area is? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSCQltbPym0

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (all characters)

Sonic the Hedgehog 3, locked on with the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge, is one of those games that I spin through when I’m feeling under the weather or just need some comforting nostalgia. For its time, it’s a huge game with lots of unique stages and a rocking soundtrack. In each run, I earned all seven Chaos Emeralds as well as the seven Mega Emeralds for Sonic & Tails, Tails alone, and Knuckles. This is one of my top games of all time. It’s caked in a little nostalgia, but I think it still holds up today as a unique platformer with a lot of fun ideas, an incredible soundtrack, and fun level design that aids in a simple but epic narrative.

Super Mario Bros

I’m no speed runner, so while the current record on this game is just a hair under 4 minutes and 55 seconds, I can jam through it in about 14 minutes. This time, however, I didn’t rely on the Warp Zones so I could experience every level and look at it from a game development perspective. I wrote a whole review on the game that arguably saved the video game industry. I actually stormed through this game a few times the night I played it, to really embrace the game that, to me, evolved video games from a toy to a hobby.

Mega Man X

Clearly, this has been less of a backlog and more of a trip down nostalgia avenue, because Mega Man X is not unfamiliar territory for me. I never owned it as a kid, but a friend would come over and we would play it together. Fortunately, Capcom has been great about putting most of the Mega Man games into collections for modern consoles. If you haven’t played this stellar jump’n’shoot platformer, you will want to after you read my review.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Arcade Game

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my childhood, and the original arcade game is one of the best arcade beat ’em ups there was. This game earned my quarters when I was a kid, and it’s so nice to see that it is available on fairly affordable home arcade cabinets that you can buy from Walmart. The Arcade 1up line is such an incredible series, but I only had room in my house for one arcade cabinet, so I opted for the Legends Ultimate, which lets you sneak your own ROMs onto it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Turtles in Time

Again, this was played on the Legends Ultimate arcade cab, but I also ran through the SNES version, and the drastically weakened Genesis version (titled Hyperstone Heist) just to observe the differences. I prefer the SNES version, but there’s still something magical about playing it on an upright arcade cabinet in your own house.

Super Mario Sunshine

I’ve one-hundred-percented Super Mario Sunshine once in my life, and I don’t think I’m ever going to do it again. Still, it was nice to revisit this odd 3D Mario platformer. It’s not a bad game – solid controls, fun level design, and a neat new mechanic starring a sentient water pump on Mario’s back… The game suffers from some weird pacing issues and a few really intense difficulty spikes, but it was nice going back to it. I think I managed to get about 90 shines before I called it a day.

Super Mario Galaxy

Mario Galaxy is something special; from the orchestrated soundtrack to the beautiful visuals you almost don’t expect from the Wii, replaying this was such a treat. It felt shorter than I remember, and I miss the inclusion of Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the 3D All-Stars Collection. Someday I’ll boot up the WiiU and put some AA batteries in my Wiimote and fling around the sequel.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Holy crap, a triple-A title? How did we get here? Jedi Fallen Order majorly surprised me. It’s a gorgeous Metroidvania with really nice combat, similar to the Batman Arkham games. It took an hour or two for me to get into it, but once I did, it was a joy from beginning to end. And what an ending! I’m looking forward to the sequel. If you have a modern console, pick this up (it’s almost always on sale).

Wario Land 3

Other than playing this for a few minutes on my backlight-less Gameboy Advance back in the day, I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t realize what a gem this game was. An overcomplicated gem, but a gem nonetheless. Wario Land 3 takes you back and forth through a pretty large number of stages, almost like a Metroidvania. As you learn moves and abilities, or trigger events that change past stages, you gain the ability to find more treasure. On top of that, there is a day/night cycle. It’s a little less memorable than the others, in my opinion, but I’m so glad I finally gave it a shot and made my way through it.

Sonic Mania

This was a day-one purchase for me, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had already run through the game with each character (Sonic & Tails, Knuckles, and Tails alone) and gathered up all of the emeralds. When the DLC came out I went through the campaign again with Mighty and Ray. This run was a simple replay of Encore mode, from beginning to end. Sonic Mania does so much right, but I think the nostalgia I have for Sonic 3 & Knuckles tips the scale in favor of the classic ever so slightly.

Sonic Generations

Generations is a game I can boot up for 10 minutes to calm my nerves. I’ve played through it and unlocked everything on both the Xbox 360 and PC. Most of the time, I’ll pick a level or two, race through it, let my mind go blank, and turn it off. Since I was already on a roll with completing games in the pandemic, I decided to dash through each stage on the PC version. That counts, right?

Crash Bandicoot

Sony’s answer to Mario takes a much different approach as far as gameplay goes. Crash Bandicoot is a 3D platformer, but typically plays on rails, with some side-scrolling stages. It’s also tough as nails to master. I didn’t have the patience to collect every gem or smash every crate, but I did defeat Cortex at the end. This was on the remastered Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.

Super Mario Kart

The first Super Mario Kart did not age well. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy janking my way through all the cups at 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. Man, does it get unfair at the higher end. Still, it’s fun looking back at the game that kicked off one of the most iconic Nintendo series of all time.

Crash Bandicoot 2

Crash Bandicoot 2 is more of the same, with a few extra quirks. The N. Sane Trilogy is definitely a nice remaster though. I was playing it on the Nintendo Switch, which of course downscales the visuals a little, but it doesn’t change the gameplay. All in all, this was my favorite Crash of the trilogy.

A Short Hike

A Short Hike is a super cute, super minified adventure. It has a pixelated Animal Crossing aesthetic to it. You play as a bird with a simple flying mechanic – you collect feathers, and the more feathers you have, the more you can fly. I actually didn’t play most of A Short Hike, it was one of the few games short enough and accessible enough to keep Steph’s attention.

Wario Land Virtual Boy

You can’t play through the Wario Land series without playing the best one. Well, actually, you can, because finding a working Virtual Boy is probably pretty difficult. I only owned four VB cartridges, and Wario Land was by far the best game I had. It still holds up, and it is a damn shame they haven’t ported it over to modern consoles.

Crash Bandicoot 3

I was getting pretty bored of Crash Bandicoot at this point. The third game in the series was a little more mature, in the sense that it had some new ideas, game mechanics, and did a good job hiding crates around the stages. Still, I was glad when it was over. It was nice revisiting the series, but I got a little burnt out by the end.

Wario Land 4

Wario Land 4 is a showcase in fun level design. Each stage feels pretty unique, and you work your way to the end only to set off a time bomb, which requires you to dash back through the level before it explodes. Once you activate the bomb, certain areas open up so your trip back might be a little different. Meanwhile, you are trying to gather up treasure. It’s a good time, even if it is a little forgettable. It’s got that Wario charm though, and that goes a long way with me.

God of War (PS4)

Another AAA title? What is going on here, are we actually using our Playstation? This was my first time seriously playing a God of War. I think I played the first one on the PS2 for a few hours. It was great. A gorgeous game, a handful of very epic moments, and a great use of a companion character in the form of Kratos’ son. If you have a PS4, it’s certainly worth having in your library.

Looney Tunes (GB) 

This probably seems like a weird pick for me. A licensed franchise game? Since when are those any good? Actually, Looney Tunes on the Gameboy isn’t all that bad. Each stage has you playing as a different character, and essentially gives you a different gameplay style. Daffy Duck is a simple jump’n’shoot, while Porky Pig is a shoot ’em up. It’s short; you can finish it in way under an hour.

Mega Man 4

Back on my Mega Man bullshit! I think Mega Man 4 was the most forgettable of the run. I noted that some of the enemies seemed spongy, which I’m pretty sure was the case across most of the games in the series, but I wrote it down for 4. Whatever, I finished it, including that cheap-ass Wily at the end that caused me to redo a whole chunk of the end because I drained the wrong weapons. Now I’m a Mega Master.

Mega Man 5

Mega Man 5 is more of the same, but that’s not a bad thing! They did throw in some fun new mechanics, like a jet ski, the gravity man weapon, and a god-tier bird robot that fucks up Wily’s cheap-ass bullshit at the end.

Mega Man 6

They just kept pumping these out! Mega Man 6 was such a great time. I thought the series peaked at 2, but 5 and 6 really proved they weren’t done. With that, I completed all of the NES Mega Man games. That has to be some sort of rite of passage.

Mega Man 7

Now on to the 16-bit era, Mega Man 7 was better than I expected. The intro stage made me nervous – weird text dialog and new characters, in my Mega Man? Only four boss robots to choose from at first? This isn’t my Mega Man! As it turns out, I had a great time, and will definitely play it again someday.

Marvel’s Avengers

Marvel’s Avengers does a lot of things in modern games that turn me off; randomized microtransactions, resource grinding, and unnecessary side-missions that just pad playtime. I enjoyed the single-player story, I’m glad I gave it a solid run for its money, but I doubt I’ll be convinced to give it a shot, even as more DLC comes out.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

I can’t believe I slept on this game. I owned it on the WiiU, 3DS, PC, and Android (via Kindle Fire I think), and never gave it the time it deserved until spinning it up on the Switch. Now it’s on every device you can imagine, and it’s one of the all-time greats.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V is a great sandbox open-world game with a fun story mode with plenty of variety. This was probably my third run through it, but I always enjoy it. There is just so much content and detail, and although the humor is already a little dated, Rockstar was aggressive about cramming as much satire into the world as possible.

What the Golf

WTG is one of the reasons why I love Indie games. It’s a goofy game that is about as much about golf as it is about surprising you. I played a little bit of the multiplayer, and while it was fun, I wish it was as complex and as long-lasting as the single-player because this is definitely a game to share with others.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

I bought Skyward Sword for the Wii when it came out. I can prove it, because I have the soundtrack that was bundled with it. I did not, however, play it on the Wii. Well, maybe I did. Maybe I put an hour into it. I bought the HD version on the Switch and poured 50 hours into it, and I can tell you it was worth it. It’s no Wind Waker or Breath of the Wild, but it tells a great story and has some really enjoyable dungeons and fun moments.

The Legend of Zelda, Wind Waker – Almost

Ah fuck I didn’t finish Wind Waker yet. I’ve never finished Wind Waker. Each time I start Wind Waker I play for a few dozen hours and get a little further and forget my place. This is a farce. I am a hack and a fraud and I should be condemned. Someday I’ll get back to Wind Waker. Maybe I’ll start a new save file and…

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga

Another Mario-themed RPG! I was pleasantly surprised! The world and plot are stupid, but that’s why we love these games, right? I really enjoyed it when Mario and Luigi would spout random Italian gibberish at each other in the middle of combat to come up with new special moves. If you like RPGs with unique combat, this might be for you. I probably won’t pick it up again, but I’m glad I experienced it.

Spyro the Dragon

I didn’t play a lot of Playstation when I was a kid. I got the Nintendo 64, and Randy got the Playstation. He claimed that he wanted the Playstation just for Crash Bandicoot, a game he never ended up liking. Randy was always kind of dweeb about consoles, but there was some strategy in his bickering. We often ended up with two consoles per generation. Nintendo consoles were in my room and Notendo  (Sega Genesis and Sony Playstation) were in his. Anyway, Spyro the Dragon was pretty good. I played the Spyro Reignited collection. It was definitely a solid collect-a-thon that drives the player to fully utilize Spyro’s limited moveset.

Spyro 2, Ripto’s Rage

While the first Spyro did a great job making a fun little game with simple mechanics, Spyro 2 was much more evolved. I really enjoyed this one.

Spyro, Year of the Dragon

And then I got sick of Spyro. I finished it, but I was less tempted to collect everything. Some of the new mechanics were fun, but awfully frustrating to collect everything (I’m looking at you, skateboarding mini game). Perhaps if I didn’t binge the series, I would have been more enthusiastic about spending more time with Spyro 3.  Maybe I’ll revisit it again someday.

Super Mario 3D World

I played SM3DW when it first came out on the WiiU, and happily forked over the cash to own it again on the Switch. It’s a great game, and the remake had some nice quality of life improvements. I’ve always loved its spiritual precursor, Super Mario 3D Land, and I know we’ll likely never see a rerelease of that, but 3D World is a heck of a lot of fun.

Bowser’s Fury

Bowser’s Fury was a lovely surprise bundled in with Super Mario 3D World. It felt a little chaotic and disjointed, especially for a Mario game, but it was such a nice ride while it lasted. It almost reminded me of how the Super Mario Advance games used to come bundled with the original Mario Bros. arcade game. Obviously, Bowser’s Fury was more aggressive, but I can imagine Nintendo sneaking in shorter games into future rereleases and remasters. It would give them the opportunity to explore riskier concepts that they might not do in a mainline game.

Mass Effect Legendary Collection

Mass Effect is one of my favorite series. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about it. I pumped over 120 hours into the three games, completing every mission and side quest, saving the galaxy and romancing aliens along the way. It was a wonderful time revisiting this game, even though I’ve played through the series twice before. I think, however, this time was my last. I want more adventures, but this was it for me and Shepard. Maybe I’ll force myself to give Andromeda a chance in the near future.

Metroid Fusion

I have not played Metroid Fusion since it was first released, so this almost felt like a first run. It’s a decent Metroid game. Not as good as Super, but it definitely has its moments.

Subnautica Below Zero

The first Subnautica was an incredible surprise; a survival/crafting/base building game with an engaging narrative and some really tense moments. Its sequel required a little more legwork, but the narrative was fresh and interesting. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series.

Donut County

I guess this is technically a mobile game, but we played the Switch version. Donut County is a cute game about making things fall down a hole. Similar to Katamari Damacy, your hole gets bigger as you drag more objects down. It’s a cute way to spend a little time. The game is short but enjoyable.

Warioware Get It Together

More Wario! I’ve always been a fan of the Warioware series. If you haven’t played them, they are essentially a montage of short (I’m talking very short) mini-games. You have a few seconds to figure out how to survive or win the game, and then it moves on to the next. Warioware Get It Together switches things up by having you play the game with a little avatar, and each character has a slightly different way of interacting with the game. There’s no good way to explain it, but these games are always incredibly fun. It’s a must-have. My favorite, however, will likely always be Warioware Twisted for the Game Boy Advance. Twisted has a gyroscope in the cartridge that registers how you tilt it, so most of the games in Twisted utilize that.

Sonic Colors Ultimate

I played through Sonic Colors when it first came out on the Wii. I remember enjoying it, but that’s almost all I remembered. I picked up the Switch remaster and played through it. Then I uninstalled it. It’s fine. It’s not great. The remaster wasn’t the problem; Sonic Colors just doesn’t have that certain something that makes a portion of most Sonic games super fun. It wasn’t not fun, it just… it exists and that’s about it.

Crusin Blast

A crazy arcade racer where you can somersault an attack helicopter off a ramp and through a sheet of ice that a giant yeti destroys to reveal a dinosaur-filled savannah. I think that’s the moment in the trailer that made me decide to buy, and it was a fun ride for a couple of evenings.

Halo: Reach

I played through the first couple of Halo games but never played the prequel. Now that I have the Master Chief Collection, I’m working my way through the series. Reach was fine. It’s Halo. It’s Reach. It’s Halo: Reach. It got pretty good towards the end, but it didn’t really blow my mind. I’m too tired and cynical to care about brotherhood or family or duty or whatever else the game was trying to get me to feel.

Bioshock

Would you believe that I played through Bioshock on the Nintendo Switch? It was nice revisiting Rapture. It’s even better now that I’m older and more educated and realize that half of my Facebook friends would trade their genitals to live in the dilapidated sunken Ayn Rand fantasy world of Rapture.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Holy crap, did this surprise me. I LOVED Crash 4. I liked it better than the original trilogy. It was gorgeous, well designed, and really fun. Its weakest parts (which in my opinion, were when you played as Dingodile) were still fun and interesting. Its level design was, for the most part, extremely intuitive and you were clearly taught how to utilize new mechanics and obstacles before being challenged. Bravo!

That said, I won’t be purchasing a game from Activision for a very long time after many accounts of workplace sexual harassment and assault have been brought to light.

Metroid Dread

The long-awaited Metroid Dread did not disappoint. It was fast-paced, tense, with incredible boss fights. Samus was such a badass. If this is the future of Metroid games, Nintendo nailed it. I’ll probably play through it again next year. This is definitely a game everyone should play, and a worthy nominee for of Game of the Year

Dr. Mario

I never had nostalgia for this puzzle game. Frankly, I never understood the big deal. The few times I booted up the game I would play a round at level 1 and wonder what the big deal was. Other than the earworms that are Fever and Chill, I dismissed Dr. Mario. It became Steph’s favorite thing in the world. We’ve played Dr. Mario more than half of the evenings of this pandemic. I will allow my audience or future historians to decypher what impact that has had on my life. We’ve mixed things up though, and we’ve been playing the NES, SNES, and N64 versions.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

I couldn’t put Luigi’s Mansion 3 down when it first came out. Steph and I played the co-op mode with me as Gooigi. It’s a gorgeous game, and co-op works much better than anticipated.

Star Fox 64

The Nintendo 64 Switch Online service got a lot of guff on release, but I can tell you that Star Fox 64 played great. I went through it a couple of times and hit all the worlds.

Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

In our quest to find non-Dr. Mario block-adjacent puzzle games to play, we had a brief stint with Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. I never played Puyo Puyo growing up (or Dr. Robotnic’s Mean Bean Machine, or Kirby’s Avalanche, or any of the other Puyo spinoffs. Puyo is fine if you want to mix things up, but Dr. Mario and Tetris are still the gold standards in this house.

Tetris Effect Connected

Tetris Effect Connected takes the lead of my favorite renditions of Tetris. It pushed Tetris DS down to number two and Tetris on the Gameboy to number three. To be totally honest, I’ve gone through the story mode a few times, because I played the original Tetris Effect on the PS4 and Oculus 2. Seriously, play this in VR if you get a chance; it’s a treat.

Tetris Attack

Also known as Puzzle League and Panel De Pon, Tetris Attack is one of my favorite block-adjacents of all time. I’m glad they dropped the Japanese version on the SNES NSO on the Switch.

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Who hasn’t spent a decent part of the pandemic playing Animal Crossing? Losers, that’s who. I did feel the game was a little lacking until the last few updates, but it had all the charm that the world needed to escape from a global pandemic, a fascist coup, and militarized police brutalizing citizens in the streets of American cities. Okay, maybe I’m putting too much responsibility on Animal Crossing.

Super Mario Odyssey

I cannot believe that this game is over four years old. I ran through it when it was first released, and it Is certainly one of the most jam-packed, fun-filled 3D Mario games.

Injustice 2

I’m not super into fighting games other than Smash Bros, but Injustice was always a lot of fun. Injustice 2 plays out like an animated Justice League movie, but with Mortal Kombat duels. Plus the Ninja Turtles are in the roster, so you really can’t go wrong.

Ratchet and Clank

This was another Playstation series that I missed out on. I bought the trilogy collection when I got a Playstation 3 several years ago, but hardly ever played it. This, however, was the re-imagining of the first game based loosely on the movie that was based on the events that happened in the original game. It doesn’t really matter – it was a fun game.

Part Time UFO

A cute little title from the studio behind Kirby and Smash Bros, Part-Time UFO is a simple crane game. It’s cute as fuck.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

The PS4 Spider-Man was an incredible game, and Miles Morales was a compact, straightforward return to Manhattan. It felt like the greatest example of DLC imaginable, but it works as a standalone game, even if it is quite a bit shorter than the original.

Shadows of the Colossus

One of my favorite games of all time, Shadows of the Colossus is another one of those games I can run through every few years. I spun this one up because Indie Gamer Chick was having a blast replaying it on her Twitter account and it made me have a hankerin’ to poke a bunch of giant hairy monsters with a sword.

Unpacking

Nobody likes moving, so it’s a surprise that a game about unpacking is so calm and therapeutic. Unpacking tells a story about its unseen protagonist that spans several years and many boxes of their stuff.

Games I’m Still Working On

I have a handful of titles that I started and just haven’t gotten to finishing yet.

  • Fallout 4
  • Skyrim (I’ll probably give up on this, I’ve finished it once years ago)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • It Takes Two
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Bioshock 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Undertale
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Death Stranding
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Games I’ve Given Up On

There are so many games I’ve spun up and played for a few minutes but never really committed to finishing, and there were others that I truly wanted to give a solid attempt to, but just decided I wasn’t going to.

Here’s what’s going into the “Sorry, No Thanks” pile. No offense, I’m sure you are worth it to many, but I just couldn’t get into you:

  • Cuphead – Sorry, you are beautiful though!
  • Starlink Battle for Atlas – I wanted you to fill the Star Fox gap for me!
  • Hades – Such an amazing game that just wasn’t for me.
  • No More Heroes – I just couldn’t get into it early on.
  • Sonic Forces – I finished it once before, and remember being meh about it. On my second run it just wasn’t enjoyable for the most part.
  • Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania – I never played the Super Monkey Ball series, and figured I’d try this remaster. I feel like I’m missing something. It’s fine, but I got bored/frustrated after a few worlds.
  • Hollow Knight – I know, I know. I should love this game. It’s fine but it didn’t hold my attention.
  • Gato Roboto – Yet another metroidvania that I’m throwing in the towel on, it’s adorable and plays great, but it simply loses my attention early on.

Honorable Mentions

I played these games, but didn’t really finish them or officially decide if I would pursue finishing them, or they are games that I just come back to and play casually.

  • Baba is You – This is an incredible puzzle game with logic-based word problems.
  • Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered – This classic-feeling racing game eschews the frills of the more modern open-world style, so it’s nice to pick up and play anytime.
  • GRIS – GRIS almost went in the “No” pile, but I was told to get through the first level or two before I make a judgement call, so I’ll probably reinstall it.
  • Dead Cells – A fine game, although the randomized progression turns me off, I’ll probably give it another shot in the future.
  • Captain Toad Treasure Tracker – Honestly I’ve enjoyed my time with this, so it’s probably going to get a second look.
  • Stardew Valley – An incredibly relaxing farming game that is incredibly wholesome and engaging.
  • Kirby Star Allies – The demo was awful, so I held back. I’m usually lukewarm to Kirby games, and this one feels a little weak, but it started getting better a few stages in. I might come back.
  • Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics – It’s classic board games and card games and the like, but they are all explained very well.
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate – I’m sad that development is over, it was a blast experiencing the new fighter reveals. Even though I feel like Rayman, Waluigi, Crash Bandicoot, Subzero and Master Chief deserve their own Fighter Pass, I salute Smash as being an incredible tribute to video game history.
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – It’s an incredible Mario Kart that’s always worth coming back to.
  • Kind Words – Not so much a game, but more of an anonymous mental-health penpal application. Kind Words is brilliant and heartwarming and has a fantastic community. I wish it would make its way over to Android.

I actually feel like I accomplished something with this.

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