Happy Saturday! It’s Ryan here, for another round of Games with Coffee. Hope everyone had a way past cool week! I know I did – got my jab, the writing’s going well, streaming is way past awesome and work is ramping up with new challenges in front of me, which I’m pretty excited about taking on.
Speaking of exciting, this Sunday marks one more month until the 30th Anniversary of the Sonic the Hedgehog series! I know, I aired my grievances on my last post to SEGA and Sonic Team on their lack of merchandise up here in Canada, but I’m still hoping that the 30th Anniversary celebration merch will make up for that.
Not only that, with SEGA announcing that they’ll be in attendance at several trade shows this summer, coupled with hints about how bright Sonic’s future appears to be, I’m sure we’ll hear some game announcements for the series.
To that end, I want to share what I think we’ll see ahead of the 30th Anniversary celebrations and put together a wishlist of items I definitely want. And we start off with the obvious:
What’s a celebration of a world-famous hedgehog without info on new games, eh? I do hope that SEGA does announce something, rather than just tease us and say “Hey, we’re doing something, can’t tell you what tho!”
I’ll tell you this – I really and truly hope we see something ground-breaking for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, and I’m talking “Breath of the Wild” level ground-breaking here. Modern Sonic games have been hit or miss (with more misses than hits, really) and it would be good to see a good Modern Sonic game for a change, like Sonic Generations for example. It would be interesting to see an open-world Sonic, but I can’t imagine how that would look or how it would work? It’s just too foreign in my mind right now. However, I hope they bring back and improve on the parkour mechanics from Sonic Lost World. While the idea was solid, the execution needed some polish and I think a new title has potential to showcase a fluidly moving Sonic to the masses.
With Classic Sonic, I think the right direction here would be to keep him and Modern completely separate. Apparently, putting him in Sonic Forces ended up being a bad move in terms of optics. I understand that SEGA really wanted to force Classic Sonic in for the 25th anniversary, but maybe putting him in Forces wasn’t the best move. Mind you, I haven’t played Forces (A surprise, huh!?), so I can’t say too much on that. As I was saying though, making a Classic Sonic game separate from Modern Sonic would be a great way to both celebrate the classic series and diversify the franchise portfolio at the same time. Maybe we’ll see a Sonic Mania 2 announcement? Or something else altogether?
As far as remakes go though, I doubt we’ll see any mention of Sonic Adventure. However, if the rumors are true, then we may see a remaster of Sonic Colours, which would be way past cool! A rerelease of the Sonic Advance series of games or even other classic portable Sonic games would also be welcome.
Oh, bump that! An Anniversary Collection! Every single classic Sonic title, including portable and obscure adventures, available in one, convenient package! That would mean a re-release of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, as well as Knuckles’ Chaotix! That would be a sweet deal in my eyes!
Going into merchandise, I want, want, WANT the Anniversary Collection threads available on the SEGA Europe shop! Honestly, the stuff looks so dope! The blue T-Shirt featuring all the different iterations of Sonic’s design over the years has to be my favourite of the bunch.
SEGA of America, get this stuff over here so I can order it for myself!!! Please, for the love of all that is holy in this world, that’s all I wish for, y’know?
I pre-ordered the deluxe edition of the Sonic Encyclo-Speed-ia (of course haha). Just recently, I got this incredibly corny children’s story book about Sonic for my son. I’ve read it twice now to him and he LOVES it. Plus, the stickers on the back look so great! I want to see more Sonic reading material though, so that I can keep reading it to my kid.
Though Volume 1 of the IDW comic series is coming out very soon (which I’m also getting), I want to hear news about any additional volumes so I can catch up with the series! It sounds really good and I can’t wait to start reading it for myself. Will elements from the IDW comics be seen in future Mobius VII works? Maybe? I’ll need to read the comics and see.
I’m looking for a new Sonic hat for streaming. No, the old Sonic hat will not be retired, don’t worry about that, but a new hat to commemorate the milestone is definitely on my wish list. Again, SEGA Europe has a pretty nice looking one.
Speaking of wishlists, I entered a contest about 10 years ago at The Sonic Stadium, where winners were chosen for suggesting the most interesting toy ideas. My suggestion was a transformable Tornado, based on the design from Sonic Adventure. My heart would soar (and my wallet would be threadbare) if something like that were announced, just saying.
Finally, I think enough time has passed from the Sonic Movie’s release for Puma and SEGA to team up again and release a shoe based off of the one in the movies. I know that one model was made, but it wasn’t available to the public. In short – give us shoes like Sonic’s damnit! I have a mighty need for it!
So, there you have it; the things I expect in terms of game announcements and the things I want for myself to celebrate! What about you guys? Any predictions of what to expect for games? What merch are you looking forward to getting for yourself? And what would be on your wishlist? Let me know in the comments!
With that, and obsessively refreshing my feeds for any breaking Sonic news, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Believe in Yourself, Live with No Regrets and Chase After the Impossible! See you again soon!
Hey, welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! I hope everyone had a great week!
It’s been a pretty productive time for me, post-Mobius VII Book 1. The worldbuilding for Book 2 has commenced, writing for the podcast series – Mobius VII Story Notes – is progressing fairly well and streaming has never been more fun than it has today. Today, however, I’ll be putting aside all talks about Sonic and Final Fantasy and I’ll be putting a spotlight on a third series that has had an enormous impact on my life.
That series is The Legend of Zelda, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
In The Beginning…
My journey with Link started off with the old 1989 Zelda cartoon that would air on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. I was in kindergarten during that time and I remember (albeit, vaguely) coming home at lunchtime to watch this show and it was there that I first watched that Zelda cartoon. It was set in the magical land of Hyrule and starred an irascible, rascally hero, a sassy princess, a mischievous fairy and a villainous pig monster/wizard who tried to steal the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rule the land. The moment I saw that show intro, I was HOOKED.
I remember at one point back in kindergarten that I pretended to be Link and had magical adventures with friends… but I could be misremembering things? Memory works in strange ways, sometimes.
In fact, looking back now, I credit the Legend of Zelda cartoon as the first instance where I was exposed to High Fantasy, my favourite genre of fiction. I was always swept up in the fantastical worlds that existed within these stories, with their crafty characters, deep and introspective lores and zany, over-the-top adventures and I have to thank the series for introducing that into my life.
Anyway, we fast forward to around the summer of ‘94, when a neighbourhood friend introduced me to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This was my first foray into the Zelda gaming universe and, in my eyes, it did not disappoint. Despite its status as the black sheep of the series, Zelda II was an incredible stroke of genius. With its focus on action and exploration instead of puzzle solving, the game has Link traversing the entirety of North Hyrule to place crystals in six palaces and unlock the Great Palace, said to hold the Triforce of Courage, the third piece of the Triforce. Before playing this title (and Dragon Warrior, which I played right after this one), I found that at a young age, games weren’t very immersive. They were simple affairs, like getting from one end of a level to the goal or beating a boss at the very end. With Zelda II, there was a story to be had, even though it was simple. Playing it made me feel as though I was a part of the adventure and my actions had an effect on whether or not Link succeeded in his quest to revive Princess Zelda from her eternal sleep.
Also, as I’ve mentioned several times before, Zelda II was also a test of patience. It’s not enough to just hack and slash at everything in sight, there’s strategy involved in this game. Ironkuckles can easily be defeated by aggressively advancing forward, jumping and stabbing at them. Daria’s (Axe-wielding monsters) can be defeated in several ways – orange ones are eliminated by crouch-stabbing while advancing forward while the red ones can be defeated by timing their axe throws and slashing at their heads when an opening presents itself.
By far, my favourite enemies to fight are the Lizalfos and they’re simple to beat once you nail the strategy. While advancing forward, jump up, hold down (as though you’re initiating the downstab) and then immediately stab forward. If done right, Link will look like he’s crouching in mid-air and almost 80% of the time, it catches the Lizalfos off guard, making for an easy kill. It also means easy experience, considering the orange ones give off 150 xp per kill.
If I haven’t mentioned it before (and if it wasn’t obvious from the above), Zelda II is by far my favourite game of the series. There was a point in time where I thought all Zelda games were like Zelda II, but I was sorely mistaken once I started delving deeper into the series.
From Side-Scrolling to Traditional
Christmas of 1998 was a special time for me, as it was the year that I picked up my very first Game Boy – a Game Boy Pocket in Electric Green. I’m actually kicking myself for selling that unit all those years ago as it was just a wonderful little thing, but alas, hindsight’s 20/20, right? Still, the first game that I got with the system was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, released in that same year to coincide with the release of the Game Boy Colour.
Compared to Zelda II, Link’s Awakening was a completely different beast. It was more puzzle based than the side-scrolling action adventure title. I struggled to wrap my mind around the mechanics around the different items. I remember on my first playthrough being stuck in the Mysterious Woods with the raccoon blocking my path forward. It took some time, but I realized that I needed to use the Magic Powder to proceed further. At the time, I thought the only source of the powder was through the Crane Game mechanic and I remember spending hours chopping grass over and over again in order to get the necessary Rupees needed to play the game and get the powder. I only realized years later that I could have gotten the Toadstool within the woods, hand it over to the Witch by the graveyard area and receive a free sack of powder instead!
I also remember getting stuck on the last three dungeons for the longest time. As a kid of 11 or 12, I found those to be particularly difficult. The final boss was also a nightmare (pun intended) to deal with, but eventually I persevered. Link’s Awakening would be the first Zelda game that I would finish – I hadn’t beaten Zelda II until I was in my mid-teens and that was with save states and cheats and such! The message within the game, in that the whole island and its inhabitants are nought but illusions, flew over my head at the time, but I started to understand what it meant as I got older. The fact that your existence may be nothing more than a conjuring within someone’s dream and that it can be erased as soon as that individual awakens… that’s pretty terrifying to realize haha.
Transitioning to 3D
At around the same time I was struggling through Link’s Awakening, I also got to play the next evolution of the Zelda series with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, thanks to an older cousin of mine who had an Nintendo 64. He and I would journey through the vast lands of Hyrule together, fighting off monsters, solving problems for folks and trying to stop a madman from conquering the kingdom. The time travel twist was so awesome to behold and I remember sitting with my cousin and my brother watching all our efforts go to waste once we picked up the Master Sword and thinking, “Wow, we just got played.”
The dungeon difficulty went up several notches at that point, as each of the Temples had tons of tricky sections that really threw me for a loop. The most infamous of them all was the Water Temple, and I remember that we were stuck in that particular area for a good couple of weeks!
Ultimately, this was a game that we didn’t get to finish together as a group. School and life got in the way and my cousin ended up finishing the game without me. He had also picked up Majora’s Mask – the sequel to Ocarina of Time and we spent a fair deal of time playing that one until his system and games got stolen during one of his baseball practices… Meanwhile, I didn’t get a proper chance to finish OoT until I picked up the Collector’s Edition for the GameCube for Christmas of 2003. I admit, I used walkthroughs to get through the rest of the game, particularly for the bloody Water Temple, which I still detest to this day haha.
The final battle between Link and Ganondorf – transformed into the demon Ganon – was one of the most iconic and memorable fights that I experienced within gaming. The music, the atmosphere and the backdrop of the ultimate fight between good and evil, it was something that could only come from an epic High Fantasy tale. In this case, it was better because I could control the action, I could feel the tension between these two forces. I remember my hands gripping the controller tightly as I felt each blow of Ganon’s twin, forked swords. I remember gritting my teeth as I sought a way to hit the Demon King’s weak point on his tail. And I remember the jubilation I felt when I landed the final blow to his head and his subsequent sealing into the Sacred Realm. That moment solidified The Legend of Zelda’s place as one of my favourite gaming series of all time, ranking up there with both Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy.
After Ocarina of Time though, things just got better and better. Majora’s Mask – while not within my top ten Zelda games – was still an awesome and dark entry to the series. Wind Waker’s cel-shaded graphics didn’t deter me from experiencing a fantastic and compelling story set in a waterlogged Hyrule. Twilight Princess was, at one point, my favourite 3D Zelda game, because it combined everything that made Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker great into one complete and dense package. My only complaint was that it started off a bit slow, but once the first scenes were passed, the enormous world of Hyrule really opened up and it was what I’ve always imagined it to be. A land full of fantasy and mystery and wonder.
The Rest of the Series
I played the original Legend of Zelda game for the first time around the same moment that I got the Collector’s Edition. Seeing where it all started from gave me both a better appreciation for the games that came after it and a sense of gratitude that the series even existed and improved so much over the years. I followed that up with A Link to the Past – arguably the most talked about Zelda title prior to Ocarina of Time – and I understood why it was so highly regarded.
Oracles of Ages and Seasons, a pair of GBC Zelda games, marked the first games in which the events of one game would affect those in the second. My brother and I owned both copies of this game (Ages was his, while Seasons was mine) and the two of us would work together to figure out each game’s puzzles, unlock the mysteries of Holodrum and Labrynna and ultimately defeat Ganon once more.
The Minish Cap was styled in the same way as Wind Waker and featured a fantastic shrinking mechanic that allowed players to explore Hyrule in completely new ways. Speaking of Wind Waker, I’ve also played the two DS sequels to the game: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. I adored Spirit Tracks’ iteration of Zelda – she is my second favourite version in the series thus far. Plus, you can’t go wrong with trains!
There are some titles I haven’t touched yet, notably Skyward Sword, which is coming out this year, and Link Between Worlds for the 3DS. There’s also the Four Swords series, both for the GameCube and the GBA, as well as the Triforce Heroes games. I dare not mention the CDi games though haha. I don’t know if I’ll ever play those…
What I appreciated about the Zelda series was that it never stopped trying to improve itself in every way. Each and every game built up from the previous ones, while introducing new and innovative mechanics to keep things from going stale. And while the timeline ended up being a confusing mess, all the events eventually coalesced into one, singular stream and transported players 10,000 years into the future…
Breath of the Wild and the Future of Zelda
From the moment Breath of the Wild and the Nintendo Switch were announced, I knew I had to get both. Due to shortages in both supply and in cash, I wasn’t able to get a system on launch, but I did end up getting a Switch and a copy of Breath of the Wild around my birthday. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience that I was about to undertake the moment I inserted the cartridge and turned on the system.
The stories of previous games had faded into near obscurity and the current game takes place after Ganon, now known as Calamity Ganon – more a force of nature than an individual – was unleashed and devastated the world. Link, the final hope of the land, had awoken 100 years after its release and now must free the Divine Beasts from Ganon’s control and defeat the monster with Zelda’s help. Zelda herself was trapped in Hyrule Castle, holding the beast at bay using the Triforce. As he was now, Link wouldn’t stand a chance, but by going to shrines, offering Spirit Orbs to the Goddess in exchange for power and exploring the land for new weapons, armour and techniques, he’d be more than ready to stand toe-to-toe with the creature of Malice.
I mentioned before how Twilight Princess had an enormous version of Hyrule to explore. Breath of the Wild makes Twilight Princess’ version look like a speck in comparison. The moment Link awoke from the Spring of Resurrection and walked out towards that grand, sweeping vista overlooking Hyrule Castle, I knew for a fact that this was the Hyrule I’ve always dreamed of. A world filled with mystery and magic and even some ancient technology thrown in to deepen the intrigue.
The introduction of the Champions, coupled with a deeper focus on Zelda and her conflicts between her responsibilities as the Princess of Destiny and her desires to be a scholar, really made this game memorable. The only other game that made me feel so invested in the story in the series was Twilight Princess.
The release of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity years later filled in many gaps within Breath of the Wild, while also providing a satisfying twist to the story and opening the series up to new interpretations. The Dynasty Warriors-styled gameplay was a perfect match to showcase what the war against Ganon was like before everything went south. Here, you got a sense of how truly powerful Link was before his defeat at Fort Hateno. I also enjoyed how the story focused on Zelda herself and how she had to battle back her doubts and low self-esteem in order to be the leader everyone knew she could be.
Now, with the sequel to Breath of the Wild in development (and hopefully we can hear more about it in the summer!), I’m excited to see what the future lies within the Legend of Zelda series. There is so much to talk about, from its characters, to its settings and its lore that I could just go on and on if I wanted to! Alas, I’ve drawn out this post long enough, I suppose haha.
With that, we’ll call this edition here. What’s your favourite Zelda game? What is it about the series that makes it so special to you? Let me know in the comments below?
Also, I’ve been working my way through numerous Zelda games on my Twitch channel. I’m currently on a playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. If your Tuesday nights are open, drop by and say hi! I start up every Tuesdays at 9:30pm EST.
Until next week, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Live with No Regrets, Believe in Yourself and Chase the Impossible. See you next time!
Happy Mar10 Day everyone and welcome to a special edition of Games with Coffee!
Finally, after much waiting, the day has come! It’s the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, brought to you by my good friend: The Well Red Mage!
Picture this: A hundred Mario games and a hundred writers talking about said Mario games. That’s what this collaboration is all about: celebrating the iconic plumber and his numerous appearances in over a hundred video games!
Mario has touched the lives of all of us at one point, even those who are fervent Sonic the Hedgehog fans (like myself!). Then again, it could be said that without Mario, Sonic wouldn’t even exist! Alas, I digress.
Without further ado, here’s a story I’d like to share with you all as a part of the Super Mario Multiverse. Enjoy.
Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, tells the tale of Odysseus and his ten year long journey to return to his family after the Trojan war. Since then, the word has been used to refer to voyages most epic and grand in nature. Therefore, the use of the word “Odyssey” in Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch pertains to the epic worldwide journey Mario and Cappy undertake in order to rescue Peach from Bowser’s latest scheme: to marry her. Cappy’s sister, Tiara, was also held hostage to be used as a wedding prop and thus spurred the sentient hat spirit-thing to team up with the plumber.
Super Mario Odyssey was a truly vast adventure and possibly the best Mario platforming game I’ve played since Super Mario 64. I received a copy of my own as an anniversary gift from my wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. The game featured various locales filled to the brim with colorful characters, awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of challenges and collectibles to keep one busy for quite a long time.
What made this game memorable for me however, was the calm and steady reassurance it provided my wife and I during the start of a great and life-changing odyssey of our own.
Friday January 12, 2018 is a day I consider to be one of the most important in my life.
The weather that day was the most variable and chaotic it had ever been. It went from warm in the morning, to freezing cold in the evening. It went from light rain to freezing rain and then finally to thick, heavy snow at the end of the night.
I returned home early that day just as the weather started turning. I was in the kitchen with my wife, observing the weather and mentioned offhand to my unborn child, “I wish you were out here to see this crazy weather we’re having.”
You know that saying, “one shouldn’t tempt fate?” Yeah, well, turns out that kid listened very closely to Dad that day. Not even an hour after I said that, my wife went into labour.
It started off as minor contractions, but they ramped up in intensity very quickly. Outside, the weather got worse: going from freezing rain to a full on blizzard.
At the three hour mark, we finally grabbed our stuff and headed to the hospital. I packed my Switch with Super Mario Odyssey on deck in a small travel bag along with all the necessities we would need to take the little one home. The game was in the furthest corner of my mind at the moment; I had to concentrate both on navigating the snow and ice covered roads and on the excruciating pain in my hand as my wife gripped it for dear life.
After an hour’s drive, we made it to the hospital that we booked a private room for. The snow was roughly four inches deep at that point and the storm was still raging. We dashed to the maternity ward, checked in and my wife got examined and prepped for delivery.
Four hours into labour and she was already three quarters of the way dilated. This kid wanted out. Now. If that wasn’t enough, when the doctor delivering our child did a secondary examination he discovered (to our collective surprise) that he was breach. He freaking flipped between the first and second examinations!
The doctor gave us our options on how to proceed and we both decided on a Caesarian. Half an hour later at 8:02 pm, January 12th, my son, Arjun, was born. I held him in my arms as my wife rested from the surgery. He was skin and bones and weighed no more than four and a half pounds.
Because of his low weight and blood sugar levels, he had to be placed into the NICU. Being separated from our child was the scariest moment we as a couple have ever faced. The minutes felt like hours as we awaited status updates about his condition. We barely slept as we constantly worried about the little guy. Remembering that I packed my Switch, I took it out and passed the time playing Super Mario Odyssey. The sight of the portly, jump-happy plumber travelling the vast worlds with his hat-shaped companion helped me to keep things in perspective as we awaited the news of our son.
Eighteen hours later, we got the OK that everything was going to be fine. The OB let us stay another night at the hospital to get some further rest before being discharged the following day.
Relieved of our collective constant state of fear and worry, I pulled out my Switch, turned it on and started playing some more Odyssey while my wife was napping. Some time later, she called out to me and asked me to sit on the bed with her. System in hand, I reclined next to her. She cuddled into my shoulder and watched me play through New Donk City and then Bowser’s Castle, looking for more Power Moons, completing side quests and picking up costumes to wear.
It was that moment, with our son resting nearby and my wife and I sitting side by side, playing Super Mario Odyssey, that I knew that everything was going to be alright. We were parents now, yes, but Mario’s calm demeanor and unwavering, unflappable resolve helped to make that realization feel less scary. And though I’m a Sonic the Hedgehog fan at heart, I still have to thank Mario and Cappy for getting my family through such a frantic and stressful time.
Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of Games with Coffee!
Folks, as I’m sure you’re all aware, I love RPG’s. Specifically, those created by Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft), developers of the timeless Final Fantasy series. And while the series and developer are venerated as one of the most popular and well-known, some of the latest entries in the last few years have fallen short in my opinion.
Today’s edition analyzes my disappointment with two specific titles: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. While I initially enjoyed both games and thought they were well worth the wait, as I played through and got deeper into them, I found myself feeling disappointed at the final product. More often than not, the story lines had started off fairly strong before tapering into an incoherent mess. The combat and gameplay was interesting until it turned tedious and monotonous. There were some interesting side quests, like the rare hunts in FFXV and the Gummi Ship treasure collecting in KHIII, but I found myself wishing that the developers took more time to focus on tightening up the story rather than packing more content.
With FFXV, the last few chapters of the story felt rushed. The pacing was off and I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the base game. And then there was the additional DLC, implemented long after the story had been completed. While I enjoyed the focus on the other characters, what I didn’t like was that the director (Tetsuya Nomura) shoehorned these additional parts. It’s as if he and his team showed precisely that their original product was rushed and not ready for the mainstream. I’ll admit, the original ending did tug at my heartstrings. Saving the world requires sacrifices and it’s a theme that I enjoy exploring in stories.
Kingdom Hearts III felt short and unfinished compared with Kingdom Hearts II. Every time I finished a world, I thought to myself “Is that it?” I always felt that there was more story to glean from each world, like in Thebes, where Pete and Maleficent accidentally unearth Pandora’s Box. Speaking of those two, I didn’t like how they were regulated to the sidelines. And what is up with that box?! I swear, I’m kind of tired of getting more questions instead of answers.
What really set me off was the ending for KHIII. I foresaw this game to be the conclusion of Sora’s story, but instead, it turns out to be another “To Be Continued.” No happy endings for both Sora and Kairi. This, among other things, is what really disappointed me; those two have been through the ringer since this journey started and once again they are separated. Sora, once again looks to be embroiled in another master plan hatched by a guy named The Master of Masters. All I’m asking for, is when will we get a complete and definitive ending?
When will it end??? T_T
Now, don’t get me wrong, these are still pretty good games. The level of detail put into them was stellar. Again, I just wished that Square-Enix and the director put as much effort into the stories for each game as they did with the gimmicks, mini-games and other little things they put into these titles. I hope that they learn from these two games and keep the focus on the story this time with the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I have my doubts that they would. We’ll see, come April.
What are your thoughts on these two games years after their release? Do you think they did a good job with the story or do you share my opinions that they could have polished the story more? Do you think FFVII: Remake will suffer the same fate? Let me know in the comments below or on social media.
This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.
Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!
This is a bit of a delayed post, but I am excited to announce the start of my stint in streaming. I’ve always wanted to go this route, but I felt that I never had the proper resources to do so. That is, until last November when my dear cousin (and sponsor for this endeavor) decided to gift me a gaming rig composed of parts he no longer needed.
Suffice to say, I totally appreciated the gesture!
Long before I received the rig though, I was thinking about jumping into the streaming game. Back in Christmas of 2018, I picked up a capture card with the goal of starting up a channel. I hadn’t realized however, just how difficult it was to take up streaming. I needed a space and time to play and a proper audio/visual set up and I just never had those things at the time. I streamed maybe twice in 2019 and both times were not that great. I was awkward. My mic was terrible and I couldn’t get into the groove. I shelved the idea of streaming and moved on.
So, what changed? Sonic, that’s who. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to talk about how the speedy blue hedgehog made a difference in my life in “The Characters That Define Us,” the massive collaboration effort brought to life by Matt and Nikki of the blog, Normal Happenings. I poured my heart out into my piece and as I did so, I remembered all the things that Sonic did for me throughout my life and continues to do for me still in the present. My contribution has not been released at this time, but it will be publicized sometime this year.
Meanwhile, I decided that 2020 was going to be a banner year for me. Besides my contribution to Matt’s epic collab, I also was ready to complete, edit and publish my longstanding fanfiction, which I talked about in my first post of this year. I still wanted to do more to celebrate the character and the franchise that has given me so much. And so I decided.
I wanted to return to streaming and focus solely on playing Sonic the Hedgehog games. So without further ado:
Introducing The #SonicSunday Power Hour!
The premise is simple: between February and June, I’ll be playing one title from Sonic’s illustrious history for one hour every Sunday at 9:30 pm EST. It’s my way of showing how much I love Sonic.
There will be 21 episodes and each game has been hand-selected by me. Some games will be the first time’s I’ve every played them and some games will come with challenges. Excitement abounds.
If you want to see what game is coming up for the week, either check my events timeline on the sidebar or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
I’ll eventually put each episode up on YouTube, but for now, you can catch Episode 1, featuring Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear) on my Twitch channel. Episode 2 will come this Sunday!
Edit: The first episode is now up on YouTube! Episodes will be uploaded every week on Mondays.
Hope to see you on my stream! And as I always say, remember to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!
Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.
Good day and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! As a part of my friend NekoJonez’s “Writer’s Raid” collaboration, today I’ll be talking about the first game of the Tomb Raider series titled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. We’ll cover the history of the game, my experiences with it and I’ll be delving deeper into the enduring legacy of Lara Croft herself, one of gaming’s most iconic characters.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’s development started back in 1993 by the now defunct Core Design, a British-based developer consisting of six people. The director, Toby Gard, was the individual credited for Lara’s creation; he initially started with a male character but then added in a female character to give players a choice on who to play as. Realizing that the second character would double the work required for cutscenes, Gard cut the male character and instead developed the female further, intending to counter the stereotypes surrounding female video game characters. He notes that Lara was inspired by Swedish songwriter/rapper Neneh Cherry and the comic book heroine, Tank Girl. He also cited Virtua Fighter as an influence, saying:
“It became clear to me watching people play Virtua Fighter, which was kind of the first big 3D-character console game, that even though there were only two female characters in the lineup, in almost every game I saw being played, someone was picking one of the two females.” – Toby Gard
Originally, Lara was to have a cold and militaristic personality and hail from South America under the name “Laura Cruz.” Gard and his team decided instead that she should be British and for her personality to be a combination of Indiana Jones and a proper, English lady. This expanded Lara’s character and showed players that she was more than some grave robbing adventurer with a knack for murdering vicious creatures using dual-wielded pistols. We’ll go into this a bit later.
As for her first adventure, bringing Tomb Raider to life was not an easy task. Programmer Gavin Rummery explained that the game was only possible by building it on a grid-like system. It’s the reason why squares, rectangles, slopes and planes are so integral to the gameplay, in terms of lining up for jumps, finding pathways through levels and even discovering secrets, among others.
Musically, the game was scored like a film, playing at certain times for dramatic emphasis, like finding secrets or during action sequences. For the most part, the only audio that was played throughout the game were atmospheric in nature, such as footsteps, Lara’s grunts the growls of animals, rushing waterfalls and the like. It made Lara’s journey far more isolating and increased tension within the player, forcing them to listen closely to see what may or may not be ahead.
Tomb Raider was released for both the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation. Despite the game being developed for both systems, it was first released for the Saturn as a timed exclusive as part of a deal between Sega and Core. Timed exclusivity meant that the game would only be released exclusively on one console and would be released on other consoles after the exclusivity period expires. After its release, Core Design discovered that the Saturn version was riddled with bugs that would also affect the Playstation version. Since the game was a timed exclusive, the team was able to fix the bugs for the Playstation version. While three sequels were released for the Playstation, no subsequent titles were released for the Saturn.
Tomb Raider was critically acclaimed on its release in 1996. The cinematic approach with its gameplay and music combined with state-of-the-art graphics was a sight not seen in gaming until its release. Major publications, like GameSpot and EGM praised the title, with GameSpot calling it a potential Super Mario 64 killer, referencing the iconic Nintendo game released in the same year. Finally, Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider herself, cemented herself as one of gaming’s greatest icons, her appeal as a character and as a strong, independent woman captivating gamers and non-gamers alike.
The Legacy of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft was considered a revolutionary when her first adventure was released. Her introduction changed the conversation about women in video games, in that their games can tell a story similar to or even surpassing that of their male counterparts at a time when female protagonists were scarce. Just like what Chun-Li in the Street Fighter series did for female representation in fighting games, Lara too was instrumental in ushering in a new age of games starring charismatic and strong female protagonists.
Lara is a statuesque and athletic individual with brown eyes and auburn hair traditionally tied in a plait or a ponytail. Her standard outfit consists of a turquoise tank top, brown shorts, calf-high hiking boots, fingerless gloves, a backpack to hold various items and holsters for her arsenal of weapons, such as her iconic dual pistols. She is highly intelligent, having excelled in various scholarly pursuits and is fluent in several languages; useful for navigating the locales of where her next raid is going to take place. Unlike the stereotypical female characters gamers we were used to seeing before, Lara was not a woman to be trifled with, thanks to her no-nonsense attitude and her dry wit and it really showed itself in her first game.
Throughout the campaign, Lara had to face insurmountable hurdles in recovering the fabled Scion of Atlantis. Examples include deadly traps that activate if Lara makes a wrong move, tricky puzzles that required logic, speed and a little luck to solve and a plethora of nasty beasts out to kill her, either for food or for sport. However, she faced them all, head-on and, most importantly, on her own. Lara required no help from anyone – male of female – to overcome the challenges in front of her. I believe that her strength, her determination and her perseverance in overcoming anything and anyone that stands in her way garnered her claim to fame more than her looks.
Culturally, Lara forged a path for more female leads in video games. Without her, we would never have had the opportunity to experience the stories of other strong and inspiring women, like Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII, Yuna in Final Fantasy X, Faith Connors in Mirror’s Edge and 2B in NiER Automata. Even video game heroines from established series, like Samus Aran from the Metroid series for instance, had their characters further fleshed out. Lara’s influence extended beyond gaming and into mainstream media: she currently has three live-action movies under her belt, has been featured on several hundred magazine covers, been involved in various print and television advertisements and has been a spokesperson for various causes. Furthermore, she has several Guinness World Records to her name, including most recognized female video game character and most official real world stand ins.
Furthermore, even though the game was developed with a male audience in mind, Lara ended up garnering a serious female audience. Authors from several publications stated that the character appealed to women and drew them more into gaming simply because they see in Lara an emancipated heroine that they could emulate.
However, with accolades also comes controversy and Lara’s introduction to the gaming industry sparked quite a bit of it over the years.
Much of the controversy surrounding Lara centers around her looks. Lara is an attractive, tall and buxom woman and has been described as a sex symbol because of those traits, despite Toby Gard originally intending for her to be “sexy only because of her power.” Critics have argued that Lara reinforced unrealistic ideas about the female body and that she was developed as the embodiment of male fantasies. That latter point fueled rumors in print magazines and the internet about a potential code to remove her clothing; it was revealed that there never was one in the first place. There was, however, an unofficial patch that could be used on the PC version known as “Nude Raider” that was used to remove Lara’s clothes. Eidos eventually shut down the website hosting the patch, but the damage was done nevertheless and it remains as an infamous footnote in her history. Further criticisms include that the character was developed in a way to make male gamers feel like “chivalrous protectors” who were trying to protect Lara from harm and that her character’s appearance does nothing to detract men from the notion that women are sex objects.
The Last Drop
I’ve first started playing Tomb Raider in 1998, right around the time that puberty hit. I’ll admit, I had a huge crush on her when I first played the game; she was extremely attractive, not just in looks but in attitude as well. However, I’m sad to say that at that young of an age I felt that I gravitated more to her looks than to her character, which was in line with the criticisms noted above. As I grew older and more mature, I revisited the character and found that I resonated more with her spirit, her determination and the fact that she could do such impressive feats of physical and mental strength. She was really like the female version of Indiana Jones (a character that I rather enjoyed) and I found myself wanting to learn more about her, beyond the original versions (which I found to be a bit one-dimensional). To that end, I’ve picked up Tomb Raider Anniversary – a remake of the original taking place in the rebooted world of Tomb Raider: Legend and the recently rebooted (again) Tomb Raider (2013), an origin story featuring a more realistic depiction of Lara. I’ve played through the majority of the Anniversary edition and I’ve yet to play the Square-Enix reboot, but I’m looking forward to it.
I do want to argue that, despite the various criticisms surrounding her, Lara represents a step in the right direction towards more female representation in video games. As a guy myself, I personally want to see more stories of women in gaming, as their stories are just as important (and in some cases, more important) than the stories of overly-masculine, broody and square-jawed males (think Joel, Nathan Drake, Cole MacGrath, etc.) that have been the focus for the last decade or so. I, for one, feel like the future of women in gaming is a bright one, all thanks to Tomb Raider and one Lara Croft.
Hope you enjoyed this introspective into Lara Croft: Tomb Raider! If you want to delve further into the Writer’s Raid, I suggest you check out the hub at NekoJonez’s blog for the full list of other posts written by other amazingly talented bloggers!
With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!
Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! May your brew be strong and super effective against lethargy! October is nearly over and I have to shake my head in disbelief at how fast time is flying this year. Between being involved in many collaborations with my fellow bloggers, joining the team at The Well Red Mage as The Hyperactive Coffee Mage and helping to raise a little baby boy, I’ve failed to notice the temps getting cooler, the nights getting longer and the winds of change blowing, all of which has left me feeling both nostalgic and a little melancholic. These feelings only evoke themselves in the fall, as it reminds me that school has begun. And that Winter is Coming. School… well it wasn’t fun for me, but one crazy phenomena that made it much, much better was the very subject that I’ll be sharing about today – Pokemon. Yes, the very same thing that started out as a fad, blew up into a phenomenon and has now become something of a cultural staple around the world. People can come from different countries and speak different dialects, but I can guarantee at least seven times out of ten that when you mention Pikachu or any other popular Pokemon in passing (Alliteration!), they’ll understand exactly what you’re talking about.
So, let’s rewind back 20 years ago, back in ‘98 when the series was starting to pick up and become more popular.
In 1998, I was about to enter middle school. I was leaving behind the old, dilapidated elementary school where I spent grades one through five in and entering a brand spanking new school, complete with new faces and hopefully new friends. At that time, I was hopped up on meds like Ritalin and going to therapies and such, so… long story short, I didn’t really make any friends and middle school ended up being the least enjoyable years of my life. But just before the school year started, I saw a commercial on an American channel (Kids WB if anyone remembers Saturday morning cartoons!) showcasing this new series called “Pokemon.” Now, the only other anime series I’ve watched before that was Dragon Ball Z, and that came on sporadically (until mid-1999 when anime became much more mainstream), so when I saw this show and the cute little yellow mousey thing that was Pikachu, I knew that I had to watch it. Unfortunately, I had to sleep over by my aunt’s house that weekend (which was the weekend before school started) and she didn’t have the channel that it was airing on. So I missed the first episode and the subsequent Ho-Oh reveal, and it was all everyone talked about during that first week of school. Well, everyone except me of course.
It was during that first month of school that I found out that there was a game associated with the anime! Pokemon Red and Blue were released at the end of September in North America and that, combined with the anime, was when the Poke-craze truly began. I was again continually out of the loop as I was the only person who didn’t have a Game Boy at the time… but it didn’t stop people from talking about it. I recall there were two kids on my bus ride to school who (I think) were pretty nice to me. They had a binder filled to the brim with everything Pokemon related, including a chart listing the strengths and weaknesses of each Pokemon type and each morning, I’d sit with them, go over the binder and they would quiz me on Pokemon types. So they would ask me, for example, “What type of move is super effective against Bug type Pokemon?” or “List the weaknesses of Dragon type Pokemon,” things like that. At that time, I wasn’t sure if they were genuinely being nice to me or trying to make me look bad so they could be smug about it (I wouldn’t know, I was extremely paranoid about others thanks to my meds…) but that was only the first of many times I would have been quizzed about the series’ nuances.
Eventually, I got a Game Boy of my own that Christmas with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening packaged with it (another game for another time…), but it would be my little brother, Shane, who got Pokemon Blue and started playing it. He was the bigger Poke-nerd between the two of us, but I still got my fair share of Pokemon action after he let me start a new game. I remember starting out with Charmander (because Charizard, duh!) and having a hard time because of the first two gyms (Fire isn’t great against Rock types and are weak against Water types), so I learned off the bat that this game didn’t play around. Once I figured out how to take on those two, the remaining gyms were not so bad.
I eventually fell into a comfortable routine: watch the anime on the weekends and play the game when I got a chance to. Thanks to the Internet and word of mouth, I learned of the Missingno Glitch, which Shane and I exploited for infinite Master Balls, Nuggets and Rare Candies. We also did some hardcore cheating through the use of a GameShark – a device that modifies the code within the game . Using it, we filled up the game’s Pokedex just to see what would happen, which turned out to be nothing substantial.
After ’98 and onwards, the Poke-craze only grew stronger and stronger. My brother, my best friend/cribmate/brother from another mother Anthony (Anto) and I got swallowed up by new versions of the game, toys, board games, comic books, movies and trading cards and it was a pretty good time.
Speaking of trading cards, any of you guys remember Pokemon Cards? Like everything Pokemon related, they were all the rage back then. I remember my deck being a hodge-podge of cards made up of people’s leftovers and some of the movie-specific special edition cards. I remember having multiples of the Entei movie card, though it wasn’t really that great compared to other Legendaries. Now I’m thinking whether my collection of cards has any value… Hey, a guy’s gotta get coin to get games, right? What better way to do that then to sell off some (potentially valuable) Pokemon cards?
The aforementioned Entei card in question.
I think it Christmas time when I was in the seventh grade (which I absolutely loathed) that my brother and I got these Pokemon beanie-plushies. My brother got a huge boxload of Pokemon beanies, including the ones that were offered as a promotion by KFC, while I got a Pikachu beanie-plushie. That plushie has been with me from that time all the way up to when I got married and I still have it to this day, stored in a memory box with a plushie Sonic and a plushie Veemon. Those three are my cherished treasures.
On that same Christmas, we got the old-school Pokedex. You know, the one that looks exactly like Ash’s from the Indigo League seasons in the anime? It was an awesome device in that you could look up a Pokemon either by its name or its number in the registry and it would pop up the same information you would see in the game, like height, weight, type and even a set of moves common to the Pokemon. What Anto, Shane and I decided to do with this gadget was to quiz each other about Pokemon and use the Pokedex to fact check. It was a silly, albeit fun game and one that I was absolutely dreadful at.
Ahh… Good times.
I’m not going to go into specifics, but I was terrible at memorization. I still am forgetful from time to time in the present day, but as a kid, my ability to memorize things was horrible. And the thing with the Pokedex game was that it was heavily memorization based. So basically, I sucked at it. It was so bad that it came to the point where I was literally fed answers and I still bombed. One day as we were playing, Anto and Shane gave me an ultimatum: If I answer the next Pokedex questions correctly, they both would eat a whole lime. If I failed, then I had to eat the lime.
Guess what happened? I failed and had to eat the lime. It really wasn’t that bad actually, probably explains why I like lime-flavoured drinks though. Pro tip: Don’t mix limes with coffee, I’ve tried it, it’s kinda gross.
Besides the Pokedex game that we made up, one game that was also memorable was Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64, where Shane, Anto and myself treated it almost like an Olympic sport. When it came to battles, we developed rules of our own that we all made sure to follow. Some examples were that everyone had to leave when it was someone’s turn to pick Pokemon, or no Legendary Pokemon allowed and for the most part, battles were fun, frantic and furious. Really though, the mini-games were where we spent the majority of our time playing. Shane was good at button-mashing and memory games, like the Dig! Dig! Dig! and Clefairy Says games, while Anto was king of the Ekans Hoop Hurl and the Rock Harden games. I myself was pretty good at most of the other mini-games, well, except for the memory game and when Anto’s baby brother, Dyl, was big enough, he joined in on the action. I found that the great equalizer in all our matches was the Sushi-Go-Round game. It was a game that all three (four) of us were good at and it was sometimes the deciding factor in our matches. We haven’t broken Pokemon Stadium out in the longest time… but I hope to see it be a part of the rumored N64 Classic? It might be enough of an excuse for me to get it.
Out of all of the Pokemon games however, I personally loved Pokemon Gold. Easily the best out of the series because you could return to the Kanto region and go through the Indigo League, culminating with a final battle with the original trainer from Red/Blue! I mean, how awesome was that?! It was an epic moment to be battling against that trainer and his high-level Pokemon. I also adored Pokemon Ruby. I remember having a team which included a Blaziken and a Gardevoir, my two favourite Pokemon of the whole series. I don’t remember who else was on that team, but I can tell you that those two Pokemon were the most memorable out of the bunch. Meanwhile, I kept playing the main series games but stopped after Diamond & Pearl. The repetitive nature of the games was becoming more of a chore than the joy it used to be, so I hung up my belt full of Poke Balls and called it a day. Though, with the upcoming Pokemon Let’s Go games, followed by a new, untitled Pokemon game being released in 2019, I may brush the dust off that belt, suit up, find a Ralts and jump back into the fray?
So, that’s my story with Pokemon. It feels kind of lame to end on this note, but I couldn’t think of a decent way to conclude this. But I’ll ask you this: What was your experience with the series? Your favourite moments, your favourite team, or even your favourite Pokemon? Let me know in the comments below.
With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee,reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See ya next time!
Hi all! Ryan from Games with Coffee here, fulfilling a promise I made in my recent update post to be more active. This will be a first in a series of re-posts from my work on The Well-Red Mage as the Hyperactive Coffee Mage.
Today, I’ll be sharing with you my very first #magecrit featuring Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear! It was a fun, albeit lengthy, write up. I delve into the development history of the Game Gear version, which ran parallel to the Genesis version and go in-depth with the mechanics (Arguably, the most thrilling parts of writing this review!)
Please enjoy, leave a comment and if you want more long-form gaming analysis featuring a bevy of talented writers, TWRM is the place to be!
With that, I hope you enjoy today’s featured piece! And remember to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!
Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!
Today, I’m listing the top seven hidden gems of the PlayStation era! This is a sister article to the one I wrote for The Well-Red Mage on the top seven all-time best games of the console. Check it out here.
The PlayStation had an enormous library of games, some amazing, others… not so much. However, there are a great deal of games for the console that many people have missed out on (besides the one’s I’ve deemed the best on the system) and it’s a downright shame they haven’t received enough attention. So, my mission today is to rectify that mistake and share these top seven hidden gems! Grab a coffee and get comfortable as we start the countdown with:
7. Crash Team Racing
What do you get when you combine the craziness of Mario Kart with a really good story mode? You get Crash Team Racing! Literally the best part of this game is the aforementioned story mode, where you have to race around tracks to earn trophies and defeat bosses in order to proceed to the next hub area and eventually get the chance to race against Nitrous Oxide, an extraterrestrial racer who wants to turn Earth into a parking lot!
There’s a bunch more things to do once you best him though: you can revisit tracks to earn CTR tokens and open the Gem Cup Challenges or you can also try your hand at earning Relics through Time Trial mode. Earning the Gems and Relics and challenging Oxide once more earns a neat and hilarious post-credits montage of what each character is up to, post-game. Highlights include Crash getting a movie deal with Universal Studios. Beyond that, the driving mechanics are fun and fast-paced, the dialogue is great (“TINY SQUISH PUNY CARS!” Classic.) Last but not least, there are plenty of hidden secrets to discover, including secret characters that can only be obtained through the time trial mode! I’d really love to see CTR remade or remastered with online capabilities!
If you’ve played Rayman Origins recently, you may recognize the name and the character. Rayman, a 2-D side scrolling platformer, is the first game of the series and featured the titular character on a quest to both recover the Great Protoon and rescue the resident Electoons from the sinister Mr. Dark. Despite the vivid animations, the whimsical visuals and it’s charming soundtrack, the game is a lot tougher than it appears to be. Despite the difficulty, Rayman gains new abilities, like hanging off ledges, improved punching ability and gliding, as he progresses. Further, to access the final area of the game, Rayman must find all the Electoons in every level, with some found in tricky, hard to reach areas requiring a slew of abilities to access and which can really test one’s patience. It’s a great platformer and a wonderful way to explore the origins of the character.
From the publisher of the Final Fantasy series comes an interesting RPG that deals with plenty of issues, such as disassociative identity disorder, religion, war, love, death and reincarnation and the rise and fall of civilizations. Oh and Giant Robots. Can’t forget about those.
Xenogears’ story is vast, epic and a bit of a convoluted mess. However, it’s a great mess to get lost in. For instance, one of the main antagonists is the protagonist’s darker persona; a highly destructive individual named Id, many characters have hidden agendas or buried secrets and three of the game’s primary characters (Fei, Elly and Miang) undergo constant rebirth and reincarnation as the Contact, Anti-type and the Complement respectively. One of those incarnations (the Contact no less) discovers the cause of the cycle of death and rebirth that binds his and Elly’s souls (an all-powerful, sentient alien artifact), becomes evil and disillusioned, learns how to transfer his consciousness to various bodies (thus freeing the Contact to reincarnate to his next body) and finally becomes a seeker of power with desires to end the world, complete with a slick catchphrase (“Doth thou desire the power?” Awesome.). These are just some of the many side stories that happen all at the same time.
Oh, and lest I’ve not stressed this enough: GIANT. ROBOTS. Because, as both Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion have demonstrated, giant robots make everything better!
4. Parasite Eve
Another inventive game from the folks at Squaresoft, Parasite Eve is actually the sequel to a Japanese novel of the same name written by Hideaki Sena. Parasite Eve is an action RPG with horror elements set in Manhattan, on Christmas Eve in 1997. It stars a rookie cop named Aya Brea, who attends a Broadway show featuring an up and coming opera singer named Melissa. Midway through her solo performance, the singer’s fellow actors and members of the start to spontaneously combust. The singer escapes in the chaos and Aya pursues her only to see animals like rats and birds horribly mutate into gruesome creatures, right before her eyes! After finally catching up to her, Melissa suddenly mutates into a being calling herself “Eve.” Declaring that mitochondria have begun to rebel against their host cells, she awakens a power within Aya that forever changes her. Over the next six days, Aya chases Eve across Manhattan and attempts to stop her from giving birth to the “Ultimate Being,” all while learning about her mysterious new powers and a supposed connection with her long-dead twin sister, Maya.
Parasite Eve is Squaresoft’s first Mature rated game and with good reason: the visuals and subject matter are quite disturbing. However, the narrative is gripping and the action-RPG combat mechanics are very well done. The game also makes great use of horror elements, like the use of foreboding silence and jump scares, to make the player feel on edge about what will happen next. Plus, Aya is a total badass who faces all challenges head on, no matter how gruesome it gets, much like Samus Aran and Lara Croft. Parasite Eve is a wholly underrated game and one that definitely deserves more recognition.
3. Soul Edge/Soul Blade
From the makers of Tekken comes this fantastic weapons-based fighting game! Set in the 16th century, nine characters from different countries and versed in various fighting styles set off to find a tenth individual who is purported to hold Soul Edge – the ultimate weapon. To some of the characters, it’s a weapon of salvation and to others, it’s a weapon that must be destroyed due to its evil nature. It’s the first game of the Soul series and is the prequel to SoulCaliber – one of the best fighting games ever made.
The PlayStation port of this game (which was originally released in arcades) came with a whole slew of extras. It introduced a story mode in Edge Master Mode, where the player follows a character’s journey to find Soul Edge while fighting opponents under certain conditions and handicaps. Defeating opponents yielded tons of really cool weapons with various stats and special effects which could then be used in all other game modes! On top of that, Soul Edge boasted three soundtracks: the original, an arranged, orchestrated variant and the Khan Super Special Soundtrack, which was exclusive to the PlayStation edition. To top it all off, this edition included a third alternate outfit for each character and five secret characters including the final boss, Soul Edge. Seriously, that’s a lot for a fighting game! Sadly, you can only play it via a physical copy or through emulation. I don’t understand why Bandai-Namco hasn’t released this digitally yet. It’s an absolute travesty.
Number two on the list is this colourful, zany and fun platformer starring a pink haired wild boy named Tomba! It reminds me a bit of Zelda II and Metroid in that there’s a heavy emphasis on exploration and backtracking. There’s a whole slew of items and tools available at Tomba’s disposal to use in his quest to recover his grandfather’s bracelet, which was stolen by the Evil Pigs; greedy, treasure-loving piggies who’ve been terrorizing the local populace. On top of the main quest, there is a whole bunch of side quests to pursue that yield rich rewards, like extra lives and power ups and even access to new areas. What’s especially interesting is, like number six on the list (Rayman), that behind the cute and funny visuals, there are plenty of difficult platforming sections which require patience and a degree of trial and error to figure out.
As we round out the top seven, there’s one game on this list that’s both incredibly amazing and frustrating, requiring more patience than a saint to complete. However, this game is one of my all-time favourites for the system and is hence on the number one spot on this list of hidden gems:
I honestly have gushed enough about this game on Twitter and for good reason: if there was a poster boy for the term “Hidden Gem,” this game would be it!
Take the gameplay of the Legend of Zelda, add in platforming mechanics, a story darker than Majora’s Mask (complete with discussions on religion, death, depression and nightmares that can really kill you), the ability to walk through dreams, an intricate dungeon design with puzzles that are guaranteed to obfuscate and befuddle the most brilliant of minds and a stellar cast of characters who reflect on their reality with a combination of abject horror, dark humor and apathy. That is Alundra in a nutshell. It’s quite difficult to complete thanks to the difficult puzzles, but the game’s story is great and the writing is well done! And while Ronan is no Sephiroth, he’s still an interesting villian in that he impedes Alundra’s quest at the orders of his “God”, even if it means he has to do unspeakable things, like murdering innocent people, including children. It’s also the subject of my next review (insert shameless plug here).
So there you have it! My top 7 Hidden Gems! Do you agree? Disagree? Have some games to add to this list or replace? Drop a line in the comments below!
Big thanks to The Well-Red Mage for issuing the challenge and for letting me join in on the fun! You should definitely check out the other console entries written by my fellow mages and other writers, they’re worth the read!
Until next time Mature, Distinguished Gamers, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!
“At times of strife and anguish, we turn to our craft in the hope that it will light our way forward.” – Unknown
Good day and welcome back to another edition of Games with Coffee.
It’s a sad time for my family as my wife’s grandmother, who we all call Aaje (pronounced “Aah-gee”), had passed away from cancer this past Monday, May 28. What started as an exam two weeks prior to investigate problems in her digestive tract, ended with a diagnosis of terminal colorectal cancer and her subsequent decline in health until her passing in palliative care.
My wife, Usha, was incredibly close to her Aaje. Growing up, she lived at her house with her grandfather, who they call Aaja (pronounced “Aah-jah”). It is there that they both instilled within her a love of the creative arts, the importance of getting a good education and a strong desire to live good through the tenements of Hinduism and our many Gods. Ush would have long, storied conversations with her grandmother on the phone almost every day; sometimes multiple times in one day! Whenever she called, I always made an effort to say hi, to which she would reply, “Hi Beta (Son)!” and then ask how I’m doing, despite still talking with her granddaughter. And this was all despite the fact that she suffered a stroke over 15 years ago that handicapped her physically. Luckily, her mental faculties were intact and so, Aaje was able to share with her grandchildren (and myself, by extension) stories about her life living in Guyana, owning a store, getting married at an early age, being involved with the Arya Samaj church (a sect of Hinduism) and the sacrifices she and her husband made to get her children a good education in Canada.
Aaje was an incredibly strong woman, who raised incredible children and grandchildren and inspired those around her. I’m lucky she also considered me a grandson of her own, despite not sharing any blood relations with her. Her kindness, straight-forward nature and her love of gardening are what I’ll remember the most about her. She would always ask me how my vegetable garden is doing and if there’s anything ready to harvest and eat. It makes playing games like Stardew Valley hard now, because I could always hear her voice in the background telling me to water my plants or put fertilizer so I can get more from my crops. I’ll miss that greatly.
Her dying wish was to hold her first great-grandchild – my son, Arjun – so I’m comforted by the notion that her wish was granted in the end. Having her not see my boy enough, however, is my greatest regret. My wife, Usha, always told me that once she could see her first great-grandchild, she could pass away without regret, but still, I feel sad that she didn’t get to see him enough.
On the ride to work on Tuesday, the day after she passed away, I was listening to the God of War (2018) soundtrack. As I listened, I reviewed certain scenes in my head and then correlated them with my current situation. God of War deals with the passing of loved ones and the journey one goes through to fulfill the last rites of the dead. Much like the events in the game, Aaje will be cremated as per Hindu customs and her ashes scattered, either in a body of water or possibly in her home village (it’s not 100% determined yet). As I was thinking about that, it made me appreciate the game more, as Kratos and Atreus grow both as individuals and as father and son through Faye’s passing. With that said, I also believe our family will grow from this death and be stronger for it. The song that really struck me was “Ashes,” it is a very powerful piece in the soundtrack and I teared up a little because of it.
Prior to the news of her passing on Monday, I had this strange feeling that something was wrong: my throat and chest constricted and a feeling of foreboding washed over me When I got the call about half an hour after, I felt three things: Relief, since she was no longer suffering. Sadness, because she passed. And a spark of inspiration, which is how this post came to be. Prior to this, I haven’t had the same appetite I usually have for writing, because I was concerned both about Aaje’s health and Usha’s well-being regarding the situation. The day after she passed though, I suddenly had the urge to write. It reminded me of the events in one of my favourite games for the original PlayStation (and the subject of my next Espresso Shot Review): Alundra. In the game, Jess the blacksmith had the sudden urge to create something, usually an item or weapon to help Alundra, whenever someone in the village died suddenly, either from the nightmares or from an incident. That was the feeling I had when I started writing this down. I had some way to connect gaming to how I’m currently feeling about this death, and in a way, it’s helping me to process it all. It’s strange too how the Requiem theme from Alundra also runs through my mind during this time:
Tomorrow, Thursday May 31st, is the funeral and my last chance to say goodbye before she’s physically gone forever. As I sit here alone with coffee in hand (it’s just my boy and I at the house; everyone else is at the viewing) and think about what I should say, I realize I said everything I needed to here. So, all I’d have left to say here is…
Goodbye Aaje. We love you. And may the Gods grant you respite.