Metroid Dread


With one month shy of 19 years between the release of Metroids Fusion and Dread, I’m fairly certain this is currently the longest I’ve ever waited for a sequel to a video game (Half-Life 3 is, at the time of this post, at 14 years and counting). It’s also a very, very rare instance of a game I bought on release day, heading out immediately after work to purchase a physical copy. No waiting around on a digital sale event for this one; I had to own it and hold it in my sweaty hands. I think the last time I did that was Super Smash Bros Brawl in 2008, to give context to the weight of this moment. And so, yes, technically it entirely skipped the backlog and doesn’t count, but on the other hand I’ve been waiting for nineteen years so it totally, totally does count.

Yes, I am a terminal Metroid fan, abuzz with anticipation and speculation since the cheeky little hint found in Prime 3. But after all this time spent yearning, was it worth the wait?


Fin or Bin:

Sorry to keep it brief, but why be coy? The atmosphere is rich, the controls obey your thoughts more than your button presses, the movement is super-fast and satisfying, the world feels dangerous but not insurmountable, melee-counter on the move feels great, and the cheerful chimes of the EMMIs will join the opening piano trill of BOTW’s Guardians and the distant howl of Ravenholm’s fast zombies in the list of sounds that will immediately void your bowels. The sense of dread fear that permeates throughout the EMMI zones matches the SA-X from Fusion, an incredible feat in itself; making a player feel utterly powerless without frustrating them is a very delicate balancing act that the series has pulled off twice now. Also impressive is the design of these areas- somehow always funneling me to the correct destination even when I’m running in a blind panic without any thought to direction. Yeah, this game’s great. Can’t wait to Finish it, and then Finish it again and again until I’m finally fast enough for Metroid to take his helmet off at the end.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

It’s been a while! Suffice it to say, around mid-december, real life started hitting real hard for me and my family, and I took some time off streaming or doing really anything fun. And now finally in mid February, we’ve managed to have Christmas, whereupon I was gifted this game partially by someone who wasn’t able to watch me open it.

I’m kinda cheating here since I played the demo before it came out so I already knew I wanted to Fin it. I’m a pikmin fan of old and can remember the discussions of which of Pikmins One or Two was the better title. Back when both would cost a spicy
£40, and you wanted a lot of bang for your buck, the sequel was much longer, but the first title provided superior replayability with trying to get all the treasures in as few days as possible.

Personally, and with the gift of hindsight, I feel the first title is a far stronger package overall, with the impetus provided by the 30-day time limit giving a mild sense of urgency to proceedings that is missing in Pikmin 2 (which has no time limit at all). It’s an argument which probably would cross eras, if not for Pikmin 3′s very neat bridging of the two concepts.

Rather than a strict time limit, Pikmin 3 has you searching for food to sustain your survival while you search for a way to get off the planet. Realistically, there’s very little chance of actually running out of food, with each day’s work usually providing several day’s worth of supplies, but it puts just enough subtle pressure on the player to think about the most optimal way forward.

Fin or Bin:

All the usual Pikmin frustrations remain intact. I dread the day I encounter a burrowing snagret, and I’ve already deftly avoided dealing with a spotty bulbear. I spend most of my time playing Pikmin screaming and crying, but somehow I still enjoy it. I’m sure the Final boss will be just as terrible and awesome as ever.

(No video for this one! I don’t have a capture card for my Switch. Maybe one day I’ll be able to buy one with twitch subs and patreon income, but that’s a long way off lol.)

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Murder By Numbers

(No gameplay for this one- I was feeling very unwell and needed something easygoing to do with my brain aside from feel sorry for myself.)

I would have loved to be in the room when this was pitched. Actually, it was probably pitched in a bar. At around 2am, after the Phoenix Wright team bumped into the Picross team while on a sesh and found out they get along really well.

So, it’s murder mystery, and it’s also picross, and that happened somehow, and it’s really good? There’s lots of questions here, and most of them are “huh?”, but once you push past that, there is so much to love in this bizarre chimera.

That comes with the caveat that you have to be someone who enjoys both kinds of game, and I wonder how much that venn diagram overlaps. But there’s me, slap-bang in the middle of it. I’ve been a picross fan ever since Mario’s Picross on the SNES, and I’ve devoured the Ace Attorney series. In terms of the story, the just-beyond-believeable melodrama is fully intact from AA, although it swaps out the mysticism for scifi- floating robot dude SCOUT finds and identifies clues for the cases, each of which leads to a puzzle.

Fin or Bin:

If there’s a criticism to be made here, it’s that Murder By Numbers isn’t quite enough of either of its forebears. Honor isn’t a lawyer, so the game lacks the courtroom drama and “gotcha!” moments of AA, and the picross puzzles are very well designed but err on the side of easy. Most of them are 10×10, and puzzles that go beyond that size tend to be more basic. Of course, the reason for that is obvious, and it’s easy for a Picross veteran to complain it’s not challenging enough when this might be a newcomer’s first experience with the genre. Either way, it’s a combo of two things I love, and while the flavours don’t go together at all on paper, I’m definitely going to Finish this very strange potluck.


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