This one was wildly popular on streaming sites around its release, and I don’t understand why. What’s fun about watching a perfectly ordinary human man doing every day chores like getting breakfast or going shopping?

A few years ago there was a rash of these sorts of games with fiddly and awkward controls- QWOP, Surgeon Simulator, Goat Simulator, and the like. I think the joke got old pretty fast and the youtube-bait genre seems to have vanished as quickly as it sprouted. It’s interesting, then, to look at one such game without the context of the era to drag it down.

Octodad features (spoilers) an octopus living his best life as a human man, taking care of his human wife and ?human? kids. Make breakfast, go shopping, take the family out on a day-trip to the aquarium, all that good stuff.

The challenge comes from the deliberately-awful controls, which see each of Octodad’s appendages being controlled individually. Even the usually-simple task of walking forwards requires a careful balancing act of button inputs and directional movements. Thankfully, unlike its contemporaries, Octodad isn’t interested in being particularly difficult, and it’s very forgiving with the mistakes you’re inherently going to make. Act too suspiciously around other people and they might notice something’s not quite right with Octodad, eventually realising he isn’t human after too many (really, too many) indiscretions.

Fin or Bin:

It also doesn’t outstay its welcome- I Finished it within two hours, and the joke didn’t wear itself thin before the end. Shouldn’t think I’ll be coming back to this one, but the humour present in the game, and the chaos you can create with the bouncy physics engine, make this one worth spending an evening with.


Mega Man X

Not to be confused with Mega Man 10, and certainly not Mega Man Eggs.

There’s a video on youtube which goes into excessive gory detail about the smart design of MMX, which is well worth a watch even if you have no interest in the Mega Men. Since watching it, I’ve really started noticing the smart design elements of good games. Did you know, in level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., there is a wall you can only get past by taking a running jump? It’s in a little ditch with no enemies nearby so you can learn by doing.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand- I’m playing the SNES version, which came bundled on the SNES Mini. (Apparently it was released on mobile devices? Playing a game like this on a touch screen sounds about as much fun as driving nails into my teeth.) I consider it separate from my ill-fated new-years resolution to play all the Mega Mens 1-10 (not X), since the X series is its own standalone thing.

While playing those, I think I came to the realisation that me and Mega Man just aren’t compatible. The gameplay cycle core to the series is the acquisition of boss-enemy weapons each time you defeat one, with each boss being weak to another’s weapon type. Bosses are HARD in these games, so taking advantage of these weaknesses is key to success.

This is where the incompatibility came into play. Often these weaknesses would let you finish a boss off in seconds, with them barely having the chance to get a hit in. It felt too easy- learning boss attack patterns and countering them is fun for me, and that’s what I was expecting, so I tried to beat each boss with just the standard blaster.

This was fine for the first two games, if occasionally frustrating. By the time I got to MM3, though, the series had definitely decided my way was incorrect. Several bosses were nigh-impossible without using the right weapon (and before you accuse me of just being a scrub, I looked up guides that all said the same damned thing- only luck and prayer would get me through that fight). It just wasn’t fun, for me.

Mega Man X, though! The same gameplay loop is in place, but now using the RIght Weapon actually changes the way the boss battles, instead of just killing them effortlessly. Electrocuting the Armadillo boss makes him drop his shields, so he can’t deflect shots any more! Cutting off the Octopus boss’ tentacles means he can’t grab you any more! It’s great.

Fin or Bin:

Sorry Mega Man, it’s not you, it’s me- we just don’t work together. But thanks for introducing me to your cousin, we’re having a good time from start to Finish.


You never see people using 1337 any more, you know?

There’s gonna be mild spoilers in here ‘cos there’s something I have to talk about, so if you were already interested in HackNet (you should be!), skip the bolded sections.

HackNet purports to be a realistic hacking experience, and while I can’t speak to how true that is, it certainly feels authentic. It’s not your typical movie-syle vivid green text cascades and literal visual representations of firewalls- the entire game can be played through the command line (though it has some clickable shortcuts if you’re a script kiddie loser scrub).

Renowned hacker Bit has gone missing, presumed dead, and his failsafe system sends out a pre-written email… to your address. Contained within are some simple instructions and tutorials, and the first breadcrumbs to begin the search to find out what the heck happened to him.

Gameplay loop boils down to breaking through the security systems of a target PC, finding the files you’re looking for, deleting or making a copy of them, and then removing all trace of your presence. It was getting a little bit samey, but then…


…I got counter-hacked, and they deleted my OS, resulting in the BSOD seen above. The game reboots, but all of the GUI interface is gone. The music is gone. Sound effects, colours- everything is gone, reduced to nothing but a command line. And then, with no help, I had to put my OS back together, manually using the command line to hack a computer on the same network and download their version of it… which then looked and sounded completely different to the one I had been using. It was chilling, and very exciting to watch unfold.


Fin or Bin:

Knowing now what kind of loops HackNet is going to throw at me, I can’t wait to see what else it does further down the line. Games that play with the fourth wall in such a clever way are like chicken soup for my decades-jaded self. Yeah, we’re Finishing this one.

(Steam, also available in the Humble Trove)

Touhou 17: Wily Beast and Weakest Creature

I don’t like to spend too long talking about new Touhou releases- the primary point of this blog is to sort my backlog based on games I want to play, and there’s really no question which pile each new Touhou will go into.

Touhou 17 is the 28th game in the series (29th if you count Gold Rush), a fact which puts Kingdom Hearts to shame. This time, animal spirits from Hell are rushing into the living world to force a takeover, so our heroine of choice throws herself head-first into the bowels of Hell to give them all a right proper spanking.

I went with Marisa this time! I always play Reimu first so wanted a change of pace. The explosions from Marisa’s missiles make it impossible to see anything, but who cares about dodging when you can just out-gun everyone?

Each main-series title has its particular Quirk, and Th17 combines the UFO-collecting of Th12 with the temporary spirit-world protection of Th13. As far as Quirks go, I rate it Fine/10- there’s not as much value to it as the UFOs (life pieces aren’t tied to collecting certain UFOs over others).

Fin or Bin:

1CC on my first try, now tackling Extra. Otter Beast seems to be the way to go, but I worry they’re probably too slow to be of much help in Extra. I’m just about good enough to Finish the Extra stage in each game, so off I go!

(On Steam as of Sept 9th)

Final Fantasy 5


Technically I played this one 15 or so years ago, so it was never on my backlog… But I figure that was long enough ago that it’s mostly new to me. Anyway, this is my blog, so I get to make the rules! And then immediately break them!

This is the fourth instance of Square being told they should have picked a different title for their flagship series, following from my personal favourite Final Fantasy 4. Where 4 changed things up a lot by taking a far more story-heavy approach, 5 rolls things back a little and takes a new direction.

The crystals are shattering, and four regular people just happen to be here to witness it, unwittingly becoming The Light Warriors in the process. FF5 plays very similarly to FF3(J) in that each Crystal that shatters gives your party a slew of new classes to choose from, which you can change at any time without penalty. Where it differs is that a character who spends an extended period of time in one class will learn skills which they can then continue to use while using a different class. So, you can give Butz a couple of levels in White Mage, swap him over to Knight, and have a self-sufficient tank. Or, put some time into Black Mage, and then swap over to White Mage so your healer has some firepower.

With over 20 classes, there’s a great deal of customisation available, although unfortunately a lot of the abilities are kind of worthless, and you can only equip one extra on each class. Still, there’s something satisfying about seeing a wizard punch an enemy to death with their bare hands using their Monk-gained Brawl power.

Fin or Bin:

I already did finish it, long ago… and I’m actually writing this having reached the final dungeon. I spent a lot of time wondering if I should even bother writing something for FF5. But why not, right? Fin!