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The Joy of Six

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I finished the Resident Evil 3 remake in six hours. A full and fully entertaining game cleared in just five evenings. Six hours for a beginning, middle and an end. Beautiful.

I love short, narrative-driven games, especially if they feature guns, knives, guns with knives on them, or treasure hunting. When done properly, they are just as satisfying as any sprawling epic, and can do an even better job of making me invest in characters and story. I never feel short-changed by a great, short game.
Resident Evil 3 blew by. It pushed forward at pace and finished up long before it had overstayed it's welcome. I love the simplicity of the premise: escape the city and avoid death by Nemesis. It's builds up great momentum, never stays in one place too long, and keeps backtracking to an acceptable minimum. Everything is balanced nicely to support a brisk play-time. I've really enjoyed Capcom's RE-treatment of the series, and I'll be interested to see what they'll do with 4.
U…

Saying Goodbye from 6000 Miles Away

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I said goodbye to my dad over the phone. I told him that I loved him. 
He passed away a few minutes later. I listened in, helpless in my grief.
I'd always told my family that I could be back in the UK within a day, in the case of an emergency. I often repeated that in conversation, to reassure myself just as much as it was to put my family at ease. Until very recently, it was accurate.
The greatest fear when living abroad is not being able to be there for your loved ones back home, when they need you the most. You know that there will come a time when your world will be turned upside down, and you'll be pulled in two directions at once.
My dad had been battling cancer on and off for the last decade. It seemed like he'd beaten it, until he fell ill again last Christmas. Surgery followed in the New Year, and I was able to be there for him, alongside my mum and brother. I didn't realise it then of course, but that would be the last time I'd see him. The last time I could …

The Impossibility of a Next-Gen Preorder

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It has been a week of abject disappointment.
No one will take my money.

I've refreshed Amazon into oblivion. I've signed up for special club-card memberships to access limited preorder opportunities. I've registered for notifications, emails, faxes. I've entered countless lotteries but I'm no closer to securing a next-gen preorder than I was a week ago.
It has been a right mess here in Japan. If Twitter is to be believed, it hasn't been much better in other major markets either. Last Thursday, Sony announced that retailers would be accepting orders on Friday. Apparently, many retailers weren't ready. The PS5 went live on Amazon Japan at 10:00 and most of us couldn't even find the page, let alone get an order in. The vast majority of major electronic retailers opted to stick to their own timetable, and start things the following week. Things = lotteries, where you enter to win the chance to spend ¥55,000 - a horrid system that makes you feel like a loser fr…

Pre-Binning Backlog Burning Blog

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We're a little over a month away from THE NEXT GEN, which means it's almost time to swear off the current-gen bullshit. There'll be no time to play or even think about anything released before November 2020. PS4, Xbox One, Switch all in the bin.
Actually, let me get that Switch back.
As we prepare to stagger over the generational finish line, I've had the overwhelming desire to clear out my current gen backlog. To play the games that have been weighing on my conscience since I bought them several months, or even years, ago. Those that have been sat on my shelf for ages or loitering on my hard drive longer than they ought.
Finishing them provides more than just a false sense of achievement, as some of them are properly good. Not new-game good, obviously, being that they are slightly older and therefore badder. Decent, though.You know, for something that is old.

I kicked off the year with Yakuza Kiwami 2, the first of three Yakuza Studio games I'll play in 2020. I don…

$7.5 Billion is a Lot of Money

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$7.5 billion is a lot of money.
Yesterday, it was announced that Microsoft is buying ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, in a move that is set to shake up the games industry. Shake it up proper good. This deal brings a number of studios and franchises under the Xbox umbrella, including The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and it came just 24 hours before Series X/S preorders are set to go live. Truly, exquisite timing.
The news hit twitter last night, just as I was settling down to play some Judgment on my PlayStation 4 entertainment system. I'm enjoying Judgment, but it has fallen victim to several distractions that have prevented me from becoming fully invested. These have ranged from trying to close a deal on a house - it fell through - to an uncharacteristic NBA 2K bender that I might write about later this week. Microsoft throwing its money around was the latest setback for Judgment, ensuring that I went to bed having barely played it. The Mole is getting away with m…

A Shell of a September

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September is supposed to be the best month. An early Christmas, full of games, games speak and me proudly wearing a press pass. September is supposed to be the month of Tokyo Game Show, but not this year, for obvious reasons.
For 2020 at least, TGS will switch to an online format, with countless streams running from this Thursday. Streams that even normals, like you, can watch. I didn't even need to present my flimsy press credentials or hastily print off some official looking business cards. I won't be sending out dozens of to-be-ignored pitches to online editors, or spending a week carefully composing preview posts for my audience of twenty - I love you all, btw. They'll be no hands-on demos, no Yakuza tissues, no profanity-laced tirades on twitter about filthy nerds, and no smug pictures of me standing next to someone/thing important. I won't be getting pissed-up at industry parties, and I won't be catching up with friends. I'll miss not being in my element f…

Compose Haiku to Earn New Headbands

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Compose haiku to earn new headbands. Words as wise as they are ancient.

I love how unashamedly video game-y Ghost of Tsushima is. The video game tropes somehow compliment an otherwise serious and thoughtful tale of honor and sacrifice.

As Jin Sakai, we are asked to consider our place in the world, to reflect upon the impermanence of life and the cruelty of man. We are encouraged to revel in the beauty of an idealized and exaggerated rural Japan, made all the more gorgeous by an uncluttered screen, to ponder the change of seasons and the ebb and flow of the tide. Ghost of Tsushima is a quiet and considered experience, albeit one that isn't afraid to give you headbands for poetry or throw you into a thirteenth century turret section.

Usually, that kind of disconnect would be jarring, yet it didn't bother me here at all. In fact, I really enjoyed the contrast. A beautiful game, brimming with brilliant video game nonsense.
In the moonlight, The color and scent of the wisteria Seems far…

The PlayStation 5 Reveal

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We're not getting E3 press conferences this year. However, thanks to the PlayStation 5 reveal, I still found an excuse to wake up at 4:45 in the morning to stare at video games.
Sony packed a lot into its almost 90-minute, PS5 Reveal. There were plenty of games I want to play and, barring a prohibitive price point - I'm "good" up to ¥50,000, but would have to think long and hard for anything above that - I intend to buy a PS5 at launch. However, overall, I came away underwhelmed.
Let's start with the box. We've all seen the router jokes, which are 100% accurate and 100% done to death. It is over-designed, has a weird collar, I don't like the colour scheme, and I'm a little concerned about the size. The disc drive looks like an afterthought, hanging on to the console for dear life, and while the unit does sit horizontally, it appears ill-suited to this position. Of course, appearances don't really matter, as it'll sit under my TV for the next sev…

Mafia 3 and a Messy BBQ

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I have to locate and gun-down some white supremacists. A guilt-free delight. 
I'm playing as Lincoln Clay, a black veteran and an absolute unit. My pasty targets have congregated in an affluent suburb of 1968 New Bordeaux (New Orleans), so I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb. They are having a BBQ in some cunt's back yard. There'll be burgers, chicken, ribs and a side helping of old-timey, Southern racism.
I forgot to bring a bottle, but I did bring a rifle and a fist full of grenades.
I arrive outside the property and see the red markers appear on my radar. That means I've found my villains, but I'm confused by several blue symbols that seem to be mingling with the reds. Blues are cops. Blues aren't my friends, but for the most part they have been a separate enemy, better avoided than directly confronted. But they're here at the racism tea party.
I approach cautiously. I hop the chainlink fence and hug the wall alongside the house. I can hear the BBQ …

Musings

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1. Vita-ing in 2020

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I recently un-retired my Vita. Unfortunately, my memory card was corrupted so I lost all of my saves and everything needed to be re-downloaded. So, over the last month, I have been reinstalling my library piece by piece. While I was at it, I decided to try some of the dozens of untouched titles that I'd accumulated over the years, most of which came from PS+.

Severed was the best of the bunch. I bought it in 2018, but discarded it early on; I just wasn't in the mood. My experience was very different this time around, however. I love the art style, the manic swiping and the dark, vague story, and I played it right through to the very end. I also finished Burly Men at Sea, an adventure as short as it is charming (it is quite charming). I was starting to get into Titan Souls, but the 15-20 seconds delay between dying, respawning and re-confronting your foe is too long in a game where death is constant. It desperately needed a S…