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2022 Retrospective (Gone Wrong) ((You won't believe #5))


I wasn't planning on making a blog this year. I genuinely wasn't. I don't play nearly as many video games as I used to during the golden era of the Bass Awards, which has me feeling like an outsider for this stuff nowadays. But still, I've posted something like this every year since 2015, and it's fun to be able to return to the community blog section and see what my taste was like over the years. So, for the sake of tradition, I'm leaving my ranking for the whole five (5!) games I beat in 2022. Plus I'll add a retrospective of my personal life afterwards, as a kind of checkpoint. As a treat. Hopefully that's something that you could find interesting too.

Let's get started, shall we?

Number 5: Touhou 18.5: Black Market of Bulletphilia 〜 100th Black Market

100th Black Market's an interesting Roguelite take on Touhou. Instead of precise enemy patterns for every stage, they're randomized.

Past the first two stages, which were too easy to be fun, the first clear of each stage was thrilling! All in all, however, it ended up being my least favorite Touhou game so far. The two problems I had with it:

  • It encourages grinding, which makes the game more repetitive than usual
  • Some card combinations are too strong compared to your typical run, which makes you feel at times like you're deciding between monotonous victory or creative losses.

A screenshot of 100th Black Market. A new feature the game introduces is the ability to throw your grazing hitbox as a projectile, hurting enemies in the process.

I highly recommend giving the series a shot! But as an entry point, I highly recommend going with either Touhou 18 (Unconnected Marketeers) for a modern entry or Touhou 7 (Perfect Cherry Blossom) for a more classic one instead.

Number 4: Pokémon Scarlet

I completed the regional Pokédex for this one, which I very rarely do -- which is a testament to these games doing something right. In fact, if not for the miserable technical state of the game I'd put it up there with my favorite of the series, Heart Gold/Soul Silver and Black/White!

After Sun/Moon made me take a break from the series, I was genuinely happy to return to this world, especially seeing how the series improved from there. The music, the characters, the ease of training Pokémon, the variety of said Pokémon, and of course the freedom in how you tackle the game. These have all been significantly improved, compared to the low point I left the series at.

A screenshot of Pokémon Scarlet, where I point to my adorable Clodsire. I should have hidden the UI.

But it's also a game that runs like doodoo, while slowing down as the framerate drops, while flashbanging you with models and lighting that repeatedly load and unload. It's making it really hard to focus on the things it's doing right -- hopefully, it will get a solid round of patches. I'd love to be able to recommend these games without attaching a thousand asterisks.

Number 3: Triangle Strategy

Another game with... let's say shaky framerate, at least with the Switch version, Triangle Strategy was otherwise a home run for me pretty much all the way.

Gameplay-wise, it improves on the classics it's inspired by (like Final Fantasy Tactics/Tactics Ogre) by having every character be truly unique. In doing so, the game becomes less of an RPG and puts more importance on the Tactics aspect which is really cool. I have nothing but praise for how Triangle Strategy plays.

A Triangle Strategy screenshot. It's a bold opinion so I'm keeping it for the alt text, but HD-2D looks kind of... bad in my opinion? The ambient occlusion clashes weirdly with the sprites. Not a fan.

Not only that, but I really enjoyed how most decisions in the game didn't have an obviously correct course of action. In doing so, it encourages you to participate in the roleplay, and to consider your values, instead of just going with the paragon option or whatever.

The pacing's a little slow, and some of the writing feels less natural than it perhaps should, but overall this is a wonder tactics RPG that stands up there with the best of the genre.

Number 2: Kirby and the Forgotten Land

I don't even have that much to say about this one! Kirby and the Forgotten Land just got me feeling like this:

The scene from Ratatouille where the critic remembers when he enjoyed ratatouille as a kid but it's Kirby and the Forgotten Land reminding me of my first time playing Super Mario Sunshine

It's cute, it's vibrant, and the abilities are fun to use. It's a game filled to the brim with happy vibes. I haven't felt this kind of nostalgia while playing a brand new game since, I dunno, Gravity Rush?

I always liked the Kirby series, though my favorite entries were starting to get a little old now (Super Star and Nightmare in Dreamland). I'm happy to add this one to the list.

Number 1: AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative

The AI: The Somnium Files series is made for me. I am the audience.

They're such a captivating mix of funny goofball characters, mind-bending stories, varied puzzles (some of which got me to take physical notes!), spicy conspiracies, and fun facts taken straight from Wikipedia.

A screenshot of nirvanA Initiative, where Tokiko talks about the Philadelphia Experiment... À propos of nothing, I love her character design.

Compared to the original, nirvanA Initiative improves in a lot of ways too. Both main characters are more immediately likable than Date from the original, the interface is slicker, the puzzles require less trial and error, and the animation work is improved... Great stuff all around.

The only point I'd give to the original game is that the overarching story more directly relates to the cast. But that's it! Give these games a go if you haven't already and you enjoy Kotaro Uchikoshi's previous work (or sci-fi visual novels in general).

And that would be all I got, except for that life update I mentioned! Feel free to jump straight to the comment section instead and let me know your thought about these games if that's not something you're interested in haha.

The non-gaming stuff

I'm not too sure how to feel about 2022, now that it's almost over.

To be honest, I was in a pretty bad place in 2021, and this honestly carried over for a chunk of this year as well. I wasn't socializing, I wasn't particularly successful at my day job, and while I was starting to lay down the groundwork for Mirama there really wasn't much momentum either. I was burnt out, on top of other worries that I won't get into on a public website. And while I'm better™️ now, it's hard to fully disconnect from the feeling of having wasted an all-important year of my life.

But enough about 2021. I'm supposed to talk about this year, right?

I said at the start here that I'm not sure how I feel about it. Truth be told, it's been a step in the right direction, it's felt like my life has been moving again. I've now been a team lead at my day job for a year. Management is... not where I expected to end up (nor is it necessarily where my skills lie, I'm an introvert through and through), but it's been a change of pace that helped get me out of a rut at least.

On a quick tangent regarding work, the tech industry is really not in a good place, right? That's the source of some of my frustrations -- it's disheartening to see so much of my field of work abandoning acting in the interest of people. Social media has been bad for a while now, but the rise of blockchain nonsense and AI abuse has not been fun to see either. And even if my day job doesn't rely on the blockchain, its influence is inescapable. It's the topic of coffee chat conversations, it's mentioned during company conferences, and I often see people trying to use hackathons to integrate them in some fashion. It's disheartening.

But I digress, back to the positives. I've met wonderful people this year. Inspiring people, kind people, ones that I legitimately look up to. I'm truly thankful for that.

I got to make some good progress on Mirama too! Not as much as I thought I'd be able to this summer, but isn't that just game development? Now I'm only one room away from having a chapter 1 that's playable from start to finish, so I'm pretty proud of what I've done! As my mood improved, it's gotten me to add more humor into the game too. Funny how these things work!

Inspecting the fridge in Mirama's Hub. The dialogue says

I got much better at Touhou! I only started playing this series last year, and in 2022 I got my first clear of an extra mode with Unconnected Marketeers'. The boss' music in this one is an absolute banger, by the way. Worth a listen.

Clearing the Unconnected Marketeers extra stage! I also pulled it off with Reimu afterward, but that one had an extra three lives from Mokou's card so it was less impressive.

Wait. Somehow we ended up talking about games again. My bad.

While this year's provincial elections were, uh, frankly depressing, there was a silver lining to these ones. To motivate friends and family to vote for the progressive party this time around, I made an edit of an incredibly photogenic moment of mine for every day of the campaign on my Facebook. I even got a photo with one of the co-leaders of the party in a moment that felt pretty magical! While the center-right party ended up with a sadly comfortable majority I'm happy to have at least one reason to look fondly at this point in time, in the end.

A photo of me and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the latter holding a very photogenic moment from my trip to Japan

Where does the year leave me? Still not in an ideal place, as I mentioned at the start. I can't find it in me to focus as I could pre-pandemic. I'm still, uh, not always in the best headspace. But things are getting better. If I can keep at it, maybe learn to draw a little and spend less time idling on YouTube... I don't see why next year couldn't be a good one!

And that's all I got, for real this time! Hope you all have a great 2023! ^^

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About TheBlondeBassone of us since 11:32 PM on 12.03.2015

Everything's going to be okay. Take a deep breath, you got this.