Some notes on games I’ve played recently where I don’t have enough to say to fill up a full blog post:

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

A few months back, I was in the mood to play something joyful. And I knew that I’d be going on a trip soon, which argued for that game being on the Switch. And it had been a few years since I’d played Tokyo Mirage Sessions; not all that many years, actually, especially given how rarely I replay games, but still, it felt my mood.

And I still love that game. The music is great, the style is great, the interactions are frequently adorable but also have their heart in the right place in ways that I don’t always see, the combat matches spectacle with a bit but not too much thinking in a way that works much better for me than most RPGs.

Having said that: there are aspects of the game I’m not thrilled with. Barry is kind of creepy; the end-of-battle camera is way too fond of Tsubasa’s breasts and Eleonora’s butt; it drags on in the last quarter or so; seeing Itsuki in his street clothes is making me think I should find something to wear instead of a hoodie when I want a light jacket. So I was happy to have replayed it, but also happy to have it end.

Still one of my favorite games.

Hi-Fi Rush

I was really excited when I saw Hi-Fi Rush. The graphics reminded me of Jet Set Radio, which is in own way one of my favorite games of all time; Hi-Fi Rush is a game that seems to take music seriously; and the initial buzz seemed good. So I was pretty sure that I’d like it, and quite possibly I’d like it a lot.

I did not, in fact, like it a lot, or very much at all. The music is nowhere near as good as that of Jet Set Radio; I could say that that’s maybe partly due to genre difference preferences, except that the music from Jet Set Radio isn’t from genres that I normally listen to? And Hi-Fi Rush is also way too earnest; probably that would be fine if I didn’t have Jet Set Radio in mind but, well, I did.

I spent a couple of hours today going through the start of Jet Set Radio just making sure that I wasn’t remembering it through rose-colored glasses. And it is definitely the case that there are aspects of the gameplay of Jet Set Radio that are not great, especially by current standards. But it’s also the case that that flaw is swamped by the game’s music and style, which remain excellent.

So I didn’t finish Hi-Fi Rush; quite rare for me, but there it was. What I really should be looking forward to is Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (and in fact I think I was probably conflating the two games); hopefully that one won’t be a similar disappointment, given that Bomb Rush really is trying to effectively be a new Jet Set Radio.

Wo Long

I actually think that I finish more games than I should. Not so much because I normally don’t enjoy the time I spend with games: Hi-Fi Rush was a pretty rare exception where the game was actively dragging on me, I’m usually pretty good at sensing out in advance whether or not I’ll like a game. But I suspect that also pushes me in a slightly risk-averse direction: I’d probably do better if I started twice as many games as I do and only finished a third of them?

I hadn’t subscribed to Game Pass: it wasn’t clear to me how much money it would actually save me, even if it costs more to buy games I’m happy to support developers, and I don’t want to have my game playing choices overly influenced by whether or not the game is in Game Pass. Having said that, if I’m going to experiment more, then having access to a pool of games that I can try out for free certainly seems like a good idea.

And I’d even been planning to subscribe to Game Pass for my next game after Hi-Fi Rush; in retrospect, I wish I’d subscribed one game earlier, but such is life. Because, for whatever reason, I was curious about Wo Long, so I wanted to give it a try, but it’s a soulslike, and my experience with Elden Ring meant that I would have been surprised if I enjoyed Wo Long enough to finish it or ever come particularly close to finishing it. But Wo Long was on Game Pass; and my experience with Elden Ring also made it quite plausible that I’d enjoy it enough to play for 10 hours or so. And if I bounced off even sooner than that, that’s fine too, if I’m not paying for it.

And it turned out basically as I expected. I think I actually kind of liked the fact that it wasn’t an open world game: that meant that I had structured situations to confront, and ones that I should plausibly be able to defeat. And that’s the way it worked: going through the body of each level was fine, and then I’d hit a boss, and that would take longer but not forever. (An hour plus or minus a factor of two, maybe?) And the combat was okay; I wasn’t awful at parrying in the game, having boss battles that were all about pattern learning and parrying wasn’t so bad.

But still, soulslikes just aren’t my thing. I can more or less deal with the difficulty (or at least I could for the first few levels of Wo Long), but it’s not a sort of challenge that I find rewarding. I don’t enjoy the leveling up system; this time I looked up a build to give me more guidance, but that didn’t help much. I still don’t think that corpse runs are all that great a mechanic.

And the bits that Wo Long added didn’t help my enjoyment. I played around with the magic system and got zero benefit from it in boss battles; though it was amusing to see the five element cycle that I’m used to from Nei Gong! And I think the game’s system of having a secondary leveling system within each level actually makes the game worse, because it holds out a benefit of an easier experience in the tougher parts of levels that you can only repeatedly reach by replaying decent-sized chunks of the level before whatever battle you would want to take advantage of that extra strength in. (Which would take enough time that I never seriously considered doing that.)

So, if I’d bought the game, I would have been annoyed! But I didn’t, so it was totally fine; I played through most of five missions, I had a decent time with those missions, but I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the boss of the fifth mission enough to spend another evening making it through that battle, and I stopped. We’ll see how much Game Pass affects my playing in the future, but I was happy with my choice of it in this instance.

Post Revisions:

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