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Brain dump of things I've been enjoying and not enjoying lately


I've got a lot of unfinished blog drafts. There they lie, in a puddle on the floor, waiting for me to return. What most of them have in common is that they revolve around me talking about things I either enjoy or don't enjoy about video games/television shows, usually something I've experienced recently.

So instead of saying "FUCK IT", throwing out all my notes in a fit of rage, and crying myself to sleep, I think it makes more sense to just combine all of my thoughts into one big dumpster fire blog.

I'll start with the salty before the sweet.


The Boo Boos

I would be pointless for me to write a "not enjoyed" part if it wasn't to talk about Steep. Steep is an open world winter sports game by Ubisoft which takes place on a mountain full of snowy formations that let you do all the sick stunts your cold heart could desire, and it was one of January's free PS Plus games. I was kind of excited about it, even if I'm not sure I would have bought it on my own.

I'm glad I didn't. Steep took me on a quick journey down a mountain, a slow journey back up the mountain, and an even slower journey through Ubisoft's nightmarish world of bureaucracy.

It all started with the depressing revelation that I couldn't play the game without creating a Ubisoft account. I already hated this corporate horseshit when I couldn't even start up a demo for Fifa 18 without being bombarded with forms to fill, but this is the first time I actually had to do it. So yeah, Steep is always online. It's a shame, but it's never been a dealbreaker for me before. Sadly, the game turned out to have more problems than that.

I genuinely don't know if the game broke or anything like that, but what I experienced was completely devoid of content. I got to play as this douchey guy, who represents what Ubisoft believes is what young people are like. He even says a bunch of cringeworthy crap if you press square. Lovely. Anyway, I completed a tutorial and immediately got the mission objective of finding "base camp". I put it off initially so I could snowboard down the mountain and have actual fun. All was well until I hit the edge of the map, and the game stopped me from going any further. I couldn't fast travel anywhere, and nothing was marked on my map, so my only option was to walk back up the mountain. Unsurprisingly, this was really tedious, and the game didn't even have the decency to start me over when I booted the game up for the second time. Very little was unlocked. I had my skis, my wingsuit and my snowboard, and that was it.

Unsurprisingly, I uninstalled it shortly after, but the trouble didn't end there. I'm actually still not sure it's over, since deleting my account (and therefore escaping from Ubisoft's spam mail) required me to go through Ubi's unintuitive customer support, which took days to respond.

Of course, most of this shit doesn't have anything to do with Steep itself, but it does seem like Ubisoft is going out of its way to sabotage its own games at this point, and it's worth complaining about.

As for something only slightly less boring than filling out forms on a corporate website, I watched the Neflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events as I was recovering from my sickness, and I really wish I hadn't.

This is easily my least favourite Netflix Original that I've ever watched, and I doubt anything could ever dethrone it. It's one thing to be predicatable and formulaic all the way through, but this show seems to think it's the smartest and wittiest thing mankind has ever created. In the real world, it's more like the prime example of style over substance. It has a distinct look and takes place in a nonsensical world, and that's it. Every "joke" hinges on this. It gets super stale as early as the second episode, and yet I kept watching in the hopes that the ending went somewhere interesting. It didn't.

I especially hate how lifeless the show is. The kids never put in much effort to escape Olaf and his goons (I feel like this sentence sums up the whole story). They just stand around, which I guess is "the joke", but it's another thing that gets super boring real quick. Wouldn't it be way funnier if they really fought back? Couldn't that lead to so many more hilarious shenans? Not according to this show. I sat through so many episodes having no idea how to react to the awkwardness I was witnessing. Even Patrick Warburton couldn't save it for me. This was a hard one to enjoy. I still want them to do more book adaptations, because I love the idea of it, but I hope future projects get better stories to work with.

Thankfully, I don't have anything else to add to this part. Steep and A Series of Unfortunate Events brought me misery and boredom respectively, but there's been a lot of good stuff too. These are the games and shows that have helped me through the cold, lonely, merciless months.


The Yay Yays

I have to gush about A Hat in Time. It's fantastic! It's such a cute and overwhelmingly charming game that combines the best elements from some of the best platformers.

Hat Kid is such a great lead character. She's an adorable little acrobat who controls like a dream, and way more memorable than most attempts at making a platformer mascot. The levels are pretty top notch too. There's only four of them, each with a number of missions, but all of them are completely distinct, and most missions feel less like a simple task and more like a small journey. It's the kind of game where everyone has their favourite part depending on what they're into.

As for myself, I was already won over by the first three worlds, but Alpine Skyline took me completely by surprise. It was such a breath of fresh air right from the start, and the way it's put together is so cool. It's a platforming buffet, and the only level to consistently test your jumping skills. The four peaks are a great concept, and the finale was intense in all the best ways. It was like Super Mario Galaxy all over again, which isn't the kind of compliment I expected to fling in this game's direction.

A Hat in Time made me smile a lot, and I hope we'll see way more game like it in the coming years.

Another type of game I want more of is stealth, and Hitman 2 is currently the biggest reason why. It apparently isn't selling that well, which is physically revolting to me. Is the world really this gross and wrong about everything? The rebooted Hitman series is the stuff legends are made of, as it takes the idea of replayability to another solar system.

I'm not sure I'll ever stop playing this. I keep discovering new things. No other games do player choice this well, and environments like these are way too rare. Even other stealth games usually stick to their military camps and corporate buildings, but here we get lounges, racetracks, mansions, bars, coastal towns, futuristic hospitals and crazy cult islands. Places you'd actually want to go, disregarding the actual danger.

Even after playing as much as I have, I still have so much to accomplish in both seasons of Hitman. So many Silent Assassin runs left, which I only attempt once I feel familiar enough with a map, and so many tools to unlock. It's really important to me that this game somehow succeeds and keeps going, because I'm honestly worried that the entire stealth genre is slowly dying out, and I have so much less of a reason to care about video games if that ever happens. Stealth games are fucking awesome, easily a top 3 genre for me at this point, and it feels like we aren't giving it enough credit. Hopefully we'll see a shift in popularity soon.

Four seasons worth of Brooklyn Nine Nine was recently added to my region's Netflix, so I decided to see what the fuzz was about. While the cliffhangers by end of season 4 was unbearable, I still don't regret getting into it at all. This is a really funny comedy with a great setting and a cast of lovable characters, as well as one giant, affectionate tribute to crime movies of all kinds.

This show really makes the most of its premise. I think I've already seen it do everything I would've wanted a police-themed comedy show to do. It's got a really charming cast that have a great dynamic too. It's pretty much a new favourite of mine at his point.

It's also the only comedy like this I've ever seen that has actual villains. Not just Newman types, but hardcore criminals. Mobsters and drug dealers and shit. It gives the show a different vibe when the main characters are often in actual danger, and a situation like this led to a really good story arc between seasons 3 and 4. It's just a shame that every season seems to end on a cliffhanger, because that gets unbearable once I run out of eps to binge.

As for actual Netflix Originals, what goodwill they lost from me with ASOUE was at least partially made up for with their new Carmen Sandiego cartoon. I don't have a history with this character at all. I remember this one kinda catchy song and some screenshots from a 90s cartoon, but that's about it, so I can't judge the show based on accuracy.

I liked this though. The style is really cool. Simplistic and outline-free, similar to Samurai Jack, even if it looks cheaper in motion. Concept-wise, it's hard to compete with the idea of international super thieves who chase each other all over the world. What's more impressive is that it manages to make the idea of "crime-school" cool. It's like Hogwarts for master thieves, full of similarly creative subjects that are all taught by the board of villains, who themselves have loads of personality. Carmen is up against both the board and her former classmates, as well as an interpol officer who's obsessed with her, and is helped out by Finn Wolfhard and a pair of siblings who act as her goons (I would say friends, but they refer to Carmen as their boss). There are a lot of sides going up against each other, and it's really entertaining to watch their schemes in action.

As far as the story goes, it just has a bit more to it than I expected. It's a bit more dramatic, a bit more mysterious, a bit more action-focused and a bit more complex than I'd thought. It feels more like a passion project than a cash grab, full of characters that feel like they have room to grow. Even the grumpy, obsessed inspector isn't as much of a stereotype as you'd think. He's actually pretty competent at times, and happens to be the center of a much larger part of the story. This is such a cute, fun, charming show. Looking forward to the second season.

Also the Norwegian handball team got absolutely decimated. I enjoyed that very much.

The Very Well Thought-Out Closing Statement

It's hard to write a closer for a messy blog like this, but I guess the takeaway here is that I'm in a place where I'm really enjoying all this stuff again. I genuinely have a lot of fun with the video games I play, and while some things still manage to disappoint me, I'm less miffed by that and more happy for what I do end up liking. I think it's a healthy balance, anyway. A little bit of bad helps me appreciate the good so much more, so I suppose it all becomes worth it. All I can hope for is that I didn't make too many typos.

The end.

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About Dango one of us since 10:28 AM on 11.09.2011

Art by the fantastic Roberto Plankton

Phalanxification by the bombastic ZombZ

The cream of my video game crop (no longer in alphabetical order):