Save Point – My Week in Gaming – 2/15/2020

Fatal Frame
Hey folks! Welcome to the weekend- even if some of us don’t really get a “weekend” per se thanks to work or other obligations we may not be as excited as we could be about.

Since I’m in the middle of a bunch of games and really haven’t had the chance to sit down and write about them formally, I thought it could be a time to implement a new feature just to chat about what I’ve been doing over the past week or so. I usually dabble in so many games and other media over seven days that it feels like a waste not to chat about it as it’s happening in some way.

Mixing, Matchmaking, and Murder

At any given moment, I tend to have at least one game going on my Switch for handheld and relaxing times throughout the house, two on my PC (one persistent or with friends and one for myself to play solo), and one or two on a console like my Playstation 4 or XBox One. There’s usually something retro thrown in there when I feel up to it, but my backlog has been begging me to give it attention lately, so between that and my consoles having just been hooked up in my new place, I’m pretty much at half-capacity right now.

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I recently picked up the Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC, Cindered Shadows, which had been advertised as an April release last I had known but got pushed up and released on February 13th. I’m only a couple of battles in, but I’m already enjoying the return to Garreg Mach and some of the new features and classes that have been brought in with the new House, the Ashen Wolves. Between that and coming to the end of the main story of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, my Switch has been working overtime- even if it’s just going back to games I’ve already beaten in some form.

On PC, I caught wind of a game called Song of Horror, an episodic horror game that I had barely heard of before I lunged into the trailers for it and bought the Season Pass so that I had all of the episodes once they released. At five episodes total (and the fifth coming out sometime in the next month), I’ve made my way through the first two and I”m still going pretty strong on the third. Between the quality of the game itself and the persistent nature of losing characters, I’ve got to say it’s been a tense one and I’m really enjoying it.

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So far as games I’m playing with other people, I’ve dipped my toe about knee-deep back into Dead by Daylight with some mixed results. They’ve added a few things since I had the chance to play it like challenges to unlock lore of the game and its world and some more playable survivors and killers, but I’m still pretty average at the game itself. It’s a ton of fun at all times for me, though. I’ve also picked up The Division 2 on sale for three dollars to play with my buddy and some others. I was a big fan of the previous one and I’m enjoying the second one, but it’s a bit too early to tell if it’ll stick around in my usual cycle of persistent games.

Backlogs Don’t Only Exist in Gaming, Y’know

So I’ll admit- I’m behind on writing reviews of some of the games I finished off in 2019. Some of them might fall to the wayside or may end up with some lighter coverage in an effort to give some finality to them, though the two I’ve got in my crosshairs right now are on seemingly-James-Bond-action-RPG Alpha Protocol and the NES classic Crystalis. Having just finished up Tokyo Mirage Sessions Encore #FE, I’d love to jot something down about that, too (though, spoiler alert, I recommend it for any fans the Persona or Fire Emblem series).

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As far as featured articles are concerned, I’ve got entries for both the Atelier Series Overview and the Fire Emblem Overview in the works to cover some of the spin-offs and newer games for Fire Emblem as well as the history of the Atelier titles. I’ve also been toying with a follow-up to the Where Did That Come From? series analyzing Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the immense amount of pop-culture references in it. There are a bunch of plates in the air, but I’m addressing them one at a time and they aren’t crashing to the floor, at least!

So What Else is Going On?

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In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending PAX East with my good buddy, 76Trombones, and some of our other Twitter friends and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been researching some of the games that’ll be there, and I’m hoping to give more “up-to-the-minute” coverage compared to last year- though it will probably end up being some daily reviews and then one big overview at the end. I’ll also be taking another trip into the cosplay part of the convention due to the amount of fun I had with it last year. I extend to my friends and readers here, though, if there are any games you’re interested in hearing more about on display there, please feel free to let me know. Most likely, there will be a post in the next week or so about some of the games I’m looking forward to as well as larger titles of interest.

Over the past month or so, I’ve also been helping to contribute to a new feature over at The Well-Red Mage called Magipedia. By his own description, it’s meant to “discover the etymological, cultural, and mythological backgrounds of video game characters, places, and monsters”, and while there aren’t a ton of entries yet, the material that’s there is great and there are plenty more planned and coming out every week- including a couple from yours truly. If you dig analysis, game history, or general quick reads about the nouns of the video game universe, they’re worth a look!

Last but not least, I’ve been working on putting together a set-up to start streaming. Maybe recording videos. Possibly podcasting. I’m not entirely sure yet, so it’s going slowly while I feel out my computer equipment and software. I’ve had a few ideas about where to go with and how to go about it, but there will probably be more momentum there once PAX has come and gone.

So that’s my week in review and what I’ll be playing this weekend! What are you all up to? What are you looking forward to or working on that you’d like to share? Feel free to let me know in the comments (which have been dodgy as of late, so please forgive my slow replies there) or over on Twitter @The3rdPlayer.

Have a great week, folks!

Top 5 – Video Game Soundtracks

3plogommLately, I’ve been chatting a lot with folks about music, especially given how often it plays a beneficial role in our lives. I love music. I played clarinet in school for years before realizing that I enjoyed singing and moving over to that. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to classical compositions alongside top 40 pop and rock and enjoying different styles of independent music through various means and recommendations from friends. My past addictions to rhythm video games and studying up on different styles of dance music are also known to folks I talk with.
Of course, I’ve also listened to plenty of video game music. Like- a lot of it.

Now more than ever, I feel like I need to outline that this Top 5 is not what I think is the best or most well-composed video game soundtracks. There are a ton of great soundtracks out there that didn’t get attention here for the sake of brevity and because of criteria I set for myself to actually pare the list down enough for a post. I’d love to hear your own contributions and feelings on what your top soundtracks are, of course, but so that you have any idea of what went through my head while I was putting this together:

The soundtracks below are pieces that I’ve gone back to a number of times. When I open my audio files, I find myself gravitating toward them for whatever reason- memories, nostalgia, inspiration; these mean something to me and have followed me for years. They are soundtracks that I can listen through from one end to another nearly every time I engage with them and stylistically, they just hit all of the right spots for me.

Ready to dive into my little corner of the video game aural skies? Then let’s go!
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Atelier Series Overview – Part 3 – The Mana Duology

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Nearly the entire
Atelier series is broken down into trilogies of games taking place in the same world with recurring characters and events. Only two of the series’ groupings were duologies: the Japan-only Gramnad Saga and the Mana Khemia games. Both of these pairs featured on the now-obsolete Playstation 2. Where the Gramnad Saga followed the naming conventions from previous titles with Atelier Judie and Atelier Violette, Mana Khemia took a step away from the usual trappings, at least externally.

Featuring the ninth and tenth games in the Atelier series, both games still exercise the mechanics of the series. Synthesis is still vital to progress throughout the games though there is a bit more emphasis on strategic combat through abilities rather than item-slinging. There are a couple of other adjustments that find their way into the formula of the series and stick, creating a foundation for the next generation of Atelier offerings to build off of and improve upon as the series grows.
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Atelier Series Overview – Part 2 – The Dusk Trilogy

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As a whole, the Dusk Trilogy of the Atelier series concerns the world of Dusk and its inhabitants.  The world itself seems to be dying in a number of ways- seas are drying up, lands are becoming barren, and there appear to be new dangers every day.  If this sounds dismal- it kind of is. The world of Dusk is probably the darkest of the Atelier worlds. The art direction and stories of this trilogy feel grittier, despite still dealing in a lot of anime-flavored tropes and styles.


On a personal note, this trilogy is my favorite of the Atelier series that I have gotten to experience.  As a horror and drama fan, this game appealed to my tastes in a strong way (despite nothing involved to actually be considered “horror”).  While I have my qualms with how it was handled overall, each entry felt strong in this trilogy and the mechanics were sound. The art direction- now in the hands of an artist named Hidari- also veers toward the more ethereal feeling that the games have been sticking with since.

While the Dusk trilogy is not quite as lauded as the Arland trilogy or as current as the Mysterious trilogy, it weaves an intriguing tale that stands apart from the usual fare of the series while retaining most of the elements that make the Atelier games so unique and engaging.
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Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists – TGS Trailer Breakdown

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I’ve made no secret of my love for the Atelier series.  The next entry, Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists, is slated to hit the Nintendo Switch on North American shores in the Winter.  Much like another favorite series of mine, Fire Emblem, they decided to take an approach involving the past of the Atelier series.  With Nelke, it’s a bit more heavy-handed than with Awakening as the game has you utilizing a swarm of the series’ protagonists to proceed through the plot.

As a quick plot rundown (and here is the obvious spoiler warning in case you want to play the game and go in completely blind for your enjoyment), you play as Nelke von Lestamm, a government official in training who has shown no talent for alchemy, despite her appreciation of it.  She has grown up with a fascination regarding a legendary tree that can grant power and wishes to those who discover it.  Of course shortly after she is set to graduate from her academy, she hears that the tree is rumored to be within her father’s lands.  As she sets her sights on finding the tree, her father agrees to help her so long as she takes over a nearby town as its governor.  With the task of helping the town flourish, she cooperates with the many alchemists who are drawn to her new city to find the mysterious tree and learn the mysteries surrounding it.

At the Tokyo Game Show, a new trailer was shown which appeared to be an opening movie for the game (or at the very least, an entertaining promotional piece).  While there was a separate gameplay trailer, I wanted to do a quick breakdown on some of the titles that would be involved and some of the observations I made while looking through a few times.

So you can check it out yourself, here’s the trailer:

This will mostly involve references back to the old games and some conclusions I’ve come to through some quick peripheral research.  Hopefully, this is pretty accurate and up to date, but with more information coming along every few days, it will be interesting to see what’s released before the game arrives!
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