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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Spyro: Year Of The Dragon

Very quickly, I’ll throw this in- Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rampage was a Fin.

I played Spyro 2 immediately after finishing the first game, and it didn’t seem worth making another post for it; It’s part of the same collection, and technically I have already played it, in its original form. After finishing Spyro 2 however, I decided I wanted to take a break from the genre for a while before jumping into Spyro 3, a game which I haven’t played previously.

Well, I’d been hoping for a little bit longer of a break, but the dice have decided as they will. So here’s Spyro 3, hot on the tail (heh heh) of my previous post.

There’s… not a whole lot to say that wasn’t said before. It’s Spyro 3, which is a great deal like Spyro 2, which was quite a lot like Spyro 1. Ripto’s Rampage added a lot of complexity to the first game’s barebones affair, but the meat of the meal was mostly identical- collect gems and thingamabobs to progress through aggressively-colourful worlds, using jumping, gliding, and fire breath to solve mostly-harmless platforming challenges (and, in the case of the infamous Treetops level, a couple of infuriatingly difficult ones).

It’s a safe bet that if you like any one of these games, you’ll probably like the others, but that’s a double-edged sword; irritations you have with one game almost certainly weren’t resolved in the others, either, and 3 games in those irritations start to chafe.

It’s my blog, so here’s mine- the games all require you to fail. It was the dawn of a new era- video games were taking those first bleary steps into 3d worlds to explore, and developers wanted to encourage you to dive into every nook and cranny. Spyro did it by hiding gemstones in every crevice imaginable. But when collecting those gemstones is literally the aim of the game, that kind of exploration becomes a chore, instead.

Lets take the most basic standard platforming challenge- a pit you must jump across. If you fall in, you have to climb back up, and try again. Most games will put a small collectible down there as a sort of consolation prize, but where Mario might give you a handful of coins, Spyro hides its game-centric gems instead- meaning one way or another, you have to fail the challenge. Either you deliberately jump down into the pit to get the gems, and then try (and potentially fail!) the challenge for real, or you attempt to pass the challenge, and upon your success you have to go back into the pit anyway. That’s tremendously unrewarding game design by modern standards, and all 3 titles are absolutely rife with examples of it.

Fin or Bin:

I do enjoy these old platformers. Warts and all, it’s fun to bounce around these open areas and find hidden little secrets to investigate. With a few noteworthy exceptions the Spyro games tend towards the easier side of platformers, and Spyro 3 appears to be no different. It’s a Fin, then, as I’m not having a bad time- but it’s not the strongest recommendation, either.

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Game jams- the events where dev teams get a very short amount of time to produce a game from scratch- are an absolute gold mine of creative ideas. The compuslory lack of time investment is the perfect excuse for developers to explore whatever “wouldn’t it be cool if…” ideas they’ve had, without having to worry about ending up with a marketable product or fully realised game. The end result, then, is often more of a toy than a game; a single gameplay idea in a sandbox that doesn’t really have any aspirations beyond ‘look at this cool thing!’.

Receiver is a product of the 7-day FPS challenge, whose ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ seed was the concept of realistic gun management. Each part of the gun must be handled manually, from switching the safety off to pulling out the magazine and replenishing the bullets within. It’s incredibly clunky at first, as you uselessly mash keys in the wrong order trying to fumble another shot out of the gun only to realise you left the safety on, but as muscle memory kicks in the process gets more fluid and you start to feel- dare I say it- pretty cool.

Beyond that, however, there’s really nothing going on. You start in a random location with a random gun and a random number of bullets (sometimes as few as one) and are tasked with evading the randomly-placed enemy sentry guns and drones, while locating the randomly placed tapes containing the games story. There’s 11 of these tapes, and you have to get all of them in a single life- which, considering you die from a single hit, is an arduous task.

Fin or Bin:

The concept is one that was worth exploring, and would fit really well in a more fleshed out game- the horror genre would especially benefit from the sudden tension of realising you forgot to chamber a bullet, and the frantic scrabble to reload before you get nobbled by a zombie. Taken by itself though, Receiver doesn’t have much to offer beyond a genuine “you’re right, that was cool”; I don’t feel any need to play it again. It’s a Bin, but a good-natured Bin.


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Two games in a row, now, we’ve had to struggle with the unreliable narrator- or, perhaps, the difficult-to-trust narrator. Where QUBE’s narrator promised I was totally on a spaceship and would totally get to talk to my wife soon, Anodyne opens with a direct instruction from a nameless and presenceless source- you will use the arrow keys to move.

It’s an interesting choice of language, and one that immediately sets the tone- Anodyne’s dark and unsettling dream-like nature is immediate and pervasive, with even the comedic moments being just off-kilter enough to feel sinister.

It feels a lot like a dark take on Link’s Awakening, a comparison the game itself makes several times with some direct references to the dialogue in that game. It’s something I wish happened less- or rather, not at all; they tend to steer the mood towards parody, and cheapen the tone the game has worked hard to set.

Anodyne describes itself as a ‘Zelda-lite’, with the best comparison being the original NES title. You move in the four cardinal directions and thrust your weapon- in this instance, a broom- forward one players-width in front of you to defeat enemies. Rather than collectible items, Anodyne has interactible elements in the world with which to solve puzzles. Sweep up a pile of dust and shake it off in front of a laser beam to block it, or guide enemies in front of the laser to defeat them and open the gate. It works fine, and the fact that most puzzles are contained within a single screen keeps the pace brisk.

Fin or Bin:

There’s a few instances of things ‘just happening’, which is tricky to do well- it often falls into the “lol so random xD” pit where humour goes to die. I think the overall foreboding atmosphere, and the dreamscape presentation, complement it enough that it hasn’t bothered me yet outside of some fourth-wall breaking references. I’m intrigued to see where the dream takes me, which makes it a Fin!


“Portal clone!” you immediately shriek upon seeing the first screenshot, and while that’s an entirely fair comparison to make, it’s not a fair dismissal. QUBE tells a far darker story than Portal- or, rather, a less humourous one; while I don’t think anyone was ever in doubt that Glados was our enemy, the allegiance of the nameless overseer in QUBE is far more ambiguous.

Portal had its Portal Gun, and so QUBE has its Cube Gloves (not the official name but I like it), with which our silent amnesiac protagonist can manipulate certain elements of his environment to create a solution and open up the next puzzle chamber. It’s a very familiar set up, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the puzzles- which have impressed so far, with only one puzzle at the end of my hour being a little too precious on its timing.

Fin or Bin:

I’m not often one for puzzle games as I get frustrated pretty quickly, but this has so far been the right speed for me, and I’m enjoying the story. The voice acting in particular is superb. F.I.N!




I’m typically pretty good at rhtyhm games, even if that word is impossible to spell correctly. It’s always interesting to see the intersection of ryhthym games into other genres like previously-covered rhyhtm platformer-brawler Klang.

Not entirely dissimilar from Klang comes 140, a hyper-stylish ultraminimalist ryhtm platformer. It’s as straghtforward as it gets- level elements change or move according to the music, and you must navgiate the platforming challenges created thus. It’s more than just catching onto the beat, with different parts of the level reacting to different parts of the music- some things change every second beat, while others are on every fourth beat, for instance, meaning you have to react to the timing of different elements at the same time. It’s neat.

Fin or Bin:

I would love to put this in the Fin pile, it’s absolutely my kind of thing. Unfortunately, the background is a full-screen visualiser for the audio, and is constantly in motion. It’s disorienting when you’re grounded, and outright dizzying when you’re moving across gaps. How much of an effect that will have probably depends on the person, but I’m sensitive to it and after 30 minutes I felt really quite unwell, a feelling I couldn’t shake for hours after I stopped. As cool as the game is, I’m not going to make myself sick for it. I recommend 140 if you’re not photosensitive at all, but if you do suffer any kind of issues with that be very cautious. Here’s one of the more regrettable Bins I’ve had to make.


Old Man’s Journey


‘Interactive picture book’, the reviews on Steam all call it, and having Finished it I can agree. The eponymous old man receives a letter and heads out on a journey not only across land and sea, but through his own story- one that explores the cost of following your dreams.

To guide the old man on his journey, you play with the perspective and elevation of his storybook environment to create paths from one area to the next. It’s simple and low-stress with no fail case.

Fin or Bin:

You will, very early on, be met with thoughts of “I’m going to cry by the end of this, aren’t I”. Yes. Yes you are. Embrace it. It took about 90 minutes to Finish, so give yourself an evening to spend on this journey.



‘Endless’ runner (although there are levels to complete) played from first-person perspective, it feels more suited to being a mobile game, and far more suited to being a VR game. I think in VR the sense of speed would be quite a rush, with the vector graphics keeping things from becoming too overhwelming.

Well, it’s not VR and I don’t have a headset anyway, so what I played was instead a Basically Fine runner that has some problems with telegraphing upcoming jumps and obstacles.

Fin or Bin:

Levels consist of reaching the end, with optional score targets to strive for if that’s your scene. It’s over with fairly quickly if not. To put it frankly, the asking price of $15 is absurd, but you might get an afternoon out of it if you can get it on sale or through Trove like I did. It’s fine, but I’m never gonna play it again, so that’s a Bin.

(Steam, and also Humble Trove)

Tiny Echo

Do me a favour, and read this post in a slightly bewildered tone of voice.

‘Slightly bewildered’ pretty much sums up my time with Tiny Echo, a game far more artistic than I have the intelligence for.

You are… an eyeball person, who is also a postal service worker, tasked with delivering letters to the fey creatures of a strange dreamscape world filled with forests and caves.

Or… actually, you deliver the letters to their shadows? Which then pass it along to their spirits, or something? And it wakes the spirit up? I think?

I enjoy artsy games, but I still need them to make sense to me in a way more concrete than ‘it’s up to your own interpretation!’. Tiny Echo’s a little beyond my ken.

Fin or Bin:

The hand-drawn art is gorgeous, and if you’re a person who can derive meaning from the surreal you’ll probably get something out of this. I’m not. I don’t get it at all. It’s important to state I’m Binning it for my own personal taste, and not because I think it’s a bad game.

(Steam (but I got my copy through the Humble Trove))

Renegade Ops

Gordon Freeman!?

About as opposite from Sniper Elite as it gets, Renegade Ops treats military tactics with as much delicacy as a rocket propelled grenade. It’s like Desert Strike chugged a 6-pack of Monster and read through every comic currently stocked in its local comicks shoppe.

High octane action, to be sure, and with a friend it’d probably be a blast. You can probably feel that Beebs-brand ‘but’ coming…

But single-player is pretty shallow, and the game just kind of routinely forgets what my mission is to start a new one. Rescue the prisoners, got it- oh, now I have to destroy the incoming tanks? But the prisoners are still- alright, now I’m a helicopter, and- what incoming battleship???

The difficulty is stacked a little too high for how much it wants you to disengage your brain, and there are some enemy weapons which I never managed to figure out how to even avoid.

Elsewhere (although in a game like this I don’t really count it as a strong negative), the narrative suffers a similar problem to Strike Suit Zero in that I kind of feel like I’m playing the bad guys? It’s only that our enemy is so bombasitcally super-villainous that we seem like we’re in the right at all. During one mission we stole a nuclear warhead from the enemy, for our commanding officer to immediately say “let’s return it to sender!”. Hmmmmm?

Fin or Bin:

It’s fun. Definitely fun. With a friend, or on the Easy difficulty which gives infinite lives, there’s an evening’s worth of laughs to be found here. I think before long the single player will end up frustrating me, though. Damned homing missiles. Bin!