Where I’ve Been–Horizon Zero Dawn Has Sucked the Life Out of Me

In case you were wondering, no, I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. Even worse, I have fallen into Horizon Zero Dawn. I needed a break from blogging, I feel like I lost my reading mojo, so I decided to take a little break and try something new. Or something old that I haven’t participated in for years and years.

This all started because of Let’s Go, Eevee! I ordered a Nintendo Switch, and pre-ordered the game and the pokeball bundle, but guess what? I had that new console sitting on the shelf, and no games to play, so I bought Skyrim. This was a fantastic re-introduction to the Elder Scrolls series. The last Elder Scrolls game I played was the second installment. I enjoy how open ended these games are, and was having a blast playing.

Then I saw the PS4 Red Dead Redemption 2 bundle, and thought, in for a penny, in for a pound. I bought it, loaded it all up (it took almost 3 hours to install the game!), but I just wasn’t clicking with the game. Don’t get me wrong – the graphics are drop-dead gorgeous, the story is engrossing, and the voice acting superb. And there are horses! That you have to bond with. But the story that RDR2 tells isn’t one I want to play right now. Arthur is an outlaw, he is protecting his little band of misfit thugs, and that’s not what I was in the mood for. I played for 12 hours and decided it’s not the game I need right now.

So I dropped twenty bucks on Horizon Zero Dawn. This is the game I need right now. The graphics, again, are gorgeous, the story is engrossing, and the game mechanics are, while not perfect, fairly straightforward. With its open world and massive map, the game has offered up 50 hours of play so far, and I’m not even halfway through the game. Could I finish the game faster? Yes, but I love just wandering around, beating the bolts off of the various mechanical monsters the world offers up. There are some play sessions that I don’t even advance the storyline or any of the side quests; I just creep across one field after another, hiding in the swaying grasses, and enticing Striders, Grazers, or Broadheads close enough to perform a Silent Strike, a massive attack that swiftly, and quietly, whittles down enemy herds.

In RDR2, Arthur is, at his core, a monster. He protects thieves and murderers, and is one himself. Depending on your play style, you can fashion him into an “ethical” bad guy. But to me, at least, he is one of the monsters that inhabit his world. I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of character. I wanted to play as a hero who runs around slaying monsters, and doing some good for people in need at the same time. Aloy hits all those notes for me, and the infinitely spawning monsters mean that we are never far from a battle to the death. There is something so satisfying about lobbing fire arrow after fire arrow at a massive Sawtooth or Snapjaw, and then hearing the resulting explosion when the machine combusts. It is so much fun I can’t stop playing.

So this post is to let you know what I’ve been doing. We went to Disney World the middle of October, and I’ll write up a post about that. But since we got back home, the urge to write blog posts hasn’t been there. Some of this blah feeling is due to the upcoming holidays. It’s been three years since my mom passed away, but gosh darn it, this time of year is really hard for me. Of course I miss her on the holidays, but I also miss her on my birthday in December, because she was the only human being on earth who never forgot to call me and wish me a happy birthday.  But now I’m getting maudlin, so I’ll bring this to a close.

I should be able to get some manga read over Thanksgiving break, and I’ll write up my thoughts on those. Let’s Go, Eevee comes out on Friday, and I’ll share my impressions of the game after I’ve spent a little time with it. I am mostly interested in how the pokeball interfaces with Pokemon Go, which I still play every day, even if it’s just to catch a poke and spin a stop. I didn’t think you’d want to hear about my re-reads of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books, this time in audio, so I’ll just say – if you haven’t started these yet, why haven’t you? 

Life to the Moment–Reading Slumps & Skyrim

Ugh! So I purchased a Nintendo Switch on Prime Day, mostly in anticipation for Let’s Go, Eevee. Yes, I am one of those. I play Pokemon Go every day. I admit I even plan lunches at restaurants with Poke stops so I can stock up on balls while eating. I spend most of our vacation time with my Go-tcha connected to my phone, so I can catch ‘em all day long. So when I saw a pretty good deal on the Switch, a memory card, and eShop credit, I finally made the jump. This was before the Pokemon Go bundles were announced, and while I wish I could have gotten one of those, I have spent so much time playing Skyrim that I accept that I will be stuck with a boring black Switch, instead of one with cute Pikachus and Eevees. I guess I can always decorate my Switch with stickers.

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Harbor Master HD Video Game Review (iPad)

Harbor Master HD is insidious.  It’s something that I downloaded from the App Store because it was free.  FREE!  It sat unused on my iPad for almost a week, and that is when Jen, after flitching my iPad, started to play it.  She quickly developed a fondness for the game, and showed it to me.  How bad is that? It’s my game and I hadn’t even looked at it yet.  I was skeptical at first, what with all of that traffic routing – if I wanted to experience rush hour backups, I could just hop on the freeway!

Needless to say, the game quickly burrowed into my brain, and now I can’t think about anything else but docking those little boats safety in the harbor.  The game is deceptively simple, and while the concept is very basic, the execution is not.  Cargos ships of all sizes converge on the screen, impatient for you, the revered harbor master, to direct them into an empty dock.  There are two purple docks and 4 orange docks, and you have to match up the correct color boat to the same colored dock.  To make things harrowing, different boats travel at different speeds, and some boats have to visit both color docks to offload their cargo.  Not to mention their propensity to crash into each other if left unattended.

There is a lot of strategy that comes into play as you try to successfully maneuver boats into and then back out of the harbor.  This has also got to be the busiest port in the world, because the stream of ships is endless.  Keeping them from colliding, and therefore ending the game, is a challenge; it’s exciting and really keeps you involved in the activity taking place on the screen.  To mix things up a little, whirlpools randomly appear to throw a ship off course and more than likely into harm’s way.

The game looks beautiful on the iPad, with vivid hues and detailed animation to keep the action flowing.  Even the music is addicting,  and the sound effects are helpful.  Hear a horn blaring?  Better intercede before two ships collide!  The game play is so easy!  Just draw a line with your finger to the dock you want the ship to dock in.  Tracing the routes on the iPad sends the boats in whatever direction you choose.  Get ready for some frantic line drawing as the ships stack up in the harbor.

I didn’t think another game would get me hooked like Lab Pixie’s Flood-it!  I love that game, and have been playing it for over a year.  It’s my go to when I have a few minutes to spare.  Harbor Master, however, with its busy boats and fast paced game play, is giving Flood-it! a run for the money.  Gotta run! Gotta get back to unloading cargo!





LOS ANGELES ­  July 7, 2009-  Stand by . . . ignition! The "little war"
continues at a breakneck pace in "Acceleration of SUGURI," with the eagerly
awaited follow-up to the smash hit "SUGURI² available for online download
from Gamersgate.com and Direct2Drive.com for only $9.95.  More information
can be found at www.rockinandroid.com
The frenetic, rapid-fire combat action that fans have come to love in the
first game is all here, as well as more characters, new special attacks, new
powers and new levels! Whether you choose to play as Suguri, Hime, Nanako or
any of the other multiple fighters, you’re dealing with weapons of massive
destruction! Score big damage points through Max Attacks and lowering your
enemy’s armor gauge level, but keep in mind that your enemy is trying to do
the same to you!

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Guest Review – Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Xbox 360 Video Game Review

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel – Xbox 360 version

Published by cdv Software Entertainment

Developed by Ascaron Entertainment

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is a RPG similar in style to Blizzard’s Diablo and also shares similar game play to Squares Infinite Undiscovery. Sacred 2 was released on the PC late 08 and is now available for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.

Sacred 2 brings nothing new to the RPG genre and follows the usual quest, fight, loot…wash, rinse and repeat style of game play. The story isn’t terribly compelling but not bad by any means, just somewhat mild.


The issue that I found both irksome and frustrating is when finishing a quest, especially with the main story quests, I could not find the character who gave me the quest in order to report back that the quest was completed. The characters move around on a schedule during their day and on the Xbox 360 it’s difficult to just ‘see’ a character hanging out and go to them…I’ll elaborate more on that in a moment when I discuss game play.

There is also an absolute overload of side quests…to the point where I wasn’t even reading what the quest was when accepting them. I just found it easier to read up on them in my quest log when ready to play along. Not that it’s bad since it adds to length of game, but there is so much at once that it’s distracting from the main quest.


The actual gaming system of play is tolerable and I do not feel that it translated very well from the PC to the X360. And the actual control and use screen real estate and camera angle are actually bad and difficult to use. There is a guide map in the upper left corner of the screen and on my 50”, 1080P TV that’s 8’ away…it’s unusable. It needed to be blown up to be more visible.

Also, as I mentioned a couple paragraphs back, it’s difficult to find people because of how the camera angles are set up. Up close it’s great for fighting, but it’s not good for walking around looking for people. From the other camera heights it’s too high to have the detail to find who you are looking.


I honestly feel that the game play issues are problems stemming from it being translated from PC to Xbox. Were I playing the game on a 20” monitor that’s right in front of me, it’s unlikely I would have the same complaints. It seems that the programmers forgot that you don’t play a console game the same as a PC game. Infinite Undiscovery shares the same style of game play/control and is ‘Infinitely’ more playable…pardon the pun.

The graphics are tastefully done and well detailed but nothing ground breaking. Sound effects are quite immersive on my surround system. Voice acting is fair at best. Some of the one-liners are good for a chuckle but more often are a bit corny and occasionally juvenile.

I was excited to give Sacred 2 a try. It had a lot of opportunity to be very good game, but game play issues and the somewhat bland story was a huge disappointment. I imagine that Sacred 2 is a much better game on the PC than the Xbox 360. I found it to be a very frustrating gaming experience on the 360 and wouldn’t invest my limited gaming dollars on this one on the 360.

Game played on: Panasonic TH-50PZ850U, Onkyo TX-SR606 Receiver

Concept: B

Game Play: D

Graphics: B

Sound: B+

Overall: C-

Reviewed by Stephen

Review copy provided by publisher

Video Games – Updated Screen Shots From Sacred 2 & Crimson Gem Saga

Due on May 12, Sacred 2 looks like a blast, and it’ll be available for the PC, X360, and PS3. 

Hey! Is that skeleton floating? And why do I look like Link??

Why are there so many freaking rooms in these dungeons??  Where’s the beer?

Spider senses – tingling!

This is one flower I don’t want!


Crimson Gem Saga – I am totally geeked about this RPG for the PSP, which should be dropping in May.  Look at those cute little sprites! 

Shopping again! I thought this was a recession.


Blobs!!! Why do there always have to be blobs??

Hehe – I’m touching it as soon as no one is looking!

Hugh’s never going to live this one down – taken out by a bird!

Atlus’ dedicated website for Crimson Gem Saga is located here

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Lux-Pain – Video Game Review

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Ah, Lux-Pain, if ever I’ve had a love/hate relationship with a game, it was with you.  On one hand an intriguing graphic adventure, on the other, a sloppily presented product that caused no end of irritation at the endless grammatical errors.  Oh, what are we to do with you?

First off, I have a really hard time calling Lux-Pain a video game.  There are a few game elements, and instead, this is a graphic adventure with a tense storyline and haunting music.  The embarrassingly bad translation, full of so many errors, jarred me out of the playing experience several times.  Names were misspelled, genders confused, and most annoying, the vocal lines did not match the written text.  It was as if the director in charge of the voice actors tossed the original script out the window, and rewrote the characters lines in a more fluid way.  My solution for this was to not look at the words during the scenes with voice overs.  Much of the text is stuffy and stiffly rendered, so the voice acting was a treat. 

Atsuki’s family has been killed by the SILENT, mental parasites that infect the minds of humans.  The SILENT feed off of emotions, causing the host to give in to their darkest feelings.  Mass murders and suicides are their calling cards, and Atsuki is now working for a secret organization that’s out to stop the SILENT.  When mysterious happenings occur at Kisaragi City, Atsuki is sent undercover to root out the secret behind the SILENT.  Going to school by day and searching the city by night, he’s determined to discover and put a stop to the SILENT.

Using the powers of the Lux-Pain, Atsuki gathers clues to discover the location of the SILENT.  The adventure is broken into episodes, each lasting a day.  They usually begin with Atsuki heading off to school, where he asks questions of students and teachers in his quest to find his enemies.  With his Sigma powers, he can read people’s minds to find the worms hiding there.  This is where the gaming elements come into play.  The player, in the Erase Mode, gets to scratch away at the onscreen character’s portrait in an effort to unveil the hidden worm.  Scratch too much, and you  destroy the character’s mind, ending the game.  There’s a time limit, and after uncovering the worm, there is a short sequence showing the emotions roiling through the character’s mind.  I loved the sound effects when the worm was imprinted, and the music was very moving, as well.  I think the music was the best part of Lux-Pain.  Boss battles, for lack of a better word, took place when Atsuki finds a SILENT, and instead of scratching at the screen, the player gets a change of pace and has to rapidly tap it.

The further I moved along in the adventure, the more caught up in the game I became.  There is a lot of text, and though the game is pretty passive, I couldn’t put it down.  The linear nature meant that I wasn’t allowed to meander off track, and the short sequences built upon each other, making for an intriguing story.  The character designs are fun and as Atsuki continued to interact with his classmates and the residents of Kisaragi City, I began to like them.  Their emotions are what really drove the story.

Not without it’s faults, Lux-Pain was still a fun adventure.  If there hadn’t been so many issues with inexcusable grammatical errors, the game would have gotten a higher score.  As the product stands, though, it is flawed and at times it is hard to overlook these mistakes.  A spell checker and a good editor would have fixed these irritations.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by the publisher

Video Games – Dark Spire

Oh, my,  another Atlus video game that looks interesting.  Dark Spire looks like an old school dungeon crawler.  I wonder what kind of reception this game is going to get?  It doesn’t have any fancy graphics to offer, but you do get a free CD soundtrack with every copy.  The game is for the DS, and it ships on April 14th.  While I remember with a certain amount of fondness playing old (old, old) school RPGs, I am on the fence on this one.  What do you think?  Are you going to pick up a copy?

Atlus always offers great packaging for their titles!

Dark, creepy corridors in very monochromatic tones

Lookie!  Ominous red shading!


Whoa! A doorway that beckons to be opened.  What’s on the other side??

Yikes!  A scary magic-using foe!