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The Great(?) Video Game Spreadsheet Project: Year 32 Challenge!

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Evan_B:
Week 19: Current Weighted Top Twenty (as of 2/8/2024):
VVVVVV (4.47)
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (4.42)
UNSIGHTED (4.41)
Crawl (4.36)
Paper Mario TTYD (4.35)
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (4.3)
The Swapper (4.28)
Inscryption (4.25)
Donkey Kong (1994) (4.25)
Roller Coaster Tycoon (Deluxe) (4.23)
Crystal Project (4.23)
Dandara (4.21)
Mr. Driller Drill Land (4.21)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (4.19)
ARMS (4.19)
Skwish (4.17)
Tetris Effect Connected (4.16)
Kirby's Air Ride (4.15)
Pick Pack Pup (4.12)
Toree 2 (4.12)
You thought I’d given up on this wild and crazy ride, didn’t you? Well, as it turns out, I’m still going, though my previous commitments have been… compromised.

I did spend the holiday season getting some eShop credit and using it to pick up some new releases that I had an interest in, so I guess my streak of buying no new games… ah, who am I kidding? It barely lasted a quarter of a year. But I am still doing everything in my power to chip away at old games that have sat in my backlog for far too long, as you’ll see from a number of my completed list for this update.

I once again took a look at my top 20 and did some restructuring, in addition to adding a newcomer that has proven to me that I can still fall in love with something new. I also added more pages to the spreadsheet that are even as of the past week very much outdated. Oh, joy.
Transistor (3.56) - Disliked
Can’t say much about this one, other than the slow unlock of abilities and lack of helpful tutorials made for an uninviting and bland play. I’m sure Supergiant managed to do this thing a bit better with Hades, but I don’t care much for that game’s priorities.

Mortal Shell (3.25) - Liked
The Switch version of this game seems to run better in handheld than docked, oddly enough, but the mechanics are sound enough to make for a decent Soulslike experience. A little harsh with its world traversal, though.

Gone Home  (3.5) - Liked
I don’t see why people were miffed with this game. It’s a very earnest attempt at making a meaningful narrative experience, and I can respect that. Sure, it is a bit ham fisted at points, but I do love how the house is designed.

Kingdom Eighties (3.36) - Meh
Feels the most linear of the Kingdom games, which makes sense for the narrative but isn’t really why I play these games. Beautiful, as usual, but I’m so tired of the eighties and that might have affected my enjoyment.

Everhood (3.31) - Meh
I respect this game’s commitment to being weird, but I can’t really justify its rhythm-oriented combat system for any reason other than “bullet hells are fun.” This is not really a statement I agree with, and I also don’t really think the game does a good enough job with its mechanics to make any of its first half enjoyable. Aesthetically, it’s really quite special.

West of Dead (3.23) - Liked
I like Ron Perlman, I like roguelikes, I like West of Dead. I think its cover system is a bit too sticky at times, but I also think it is very smart about using guns and cover to develop build variety.

Toodee and Topdee (3.4) - Meh
I think there’s a very novel concept here and I respect this developer for following through on their vision, but the cutscenes are overly long and I don’t really need as much writing as what is present here to play a puzzle platformer.

Disjunction (3.45) - Liked
A stealthy action adventure game with a bit of customization of experience and multiple narrative threads. Nice pixel art and solid gameplay that benefits from having concrete choices.

Shadows Over Loathing (3.69) - Loved
It’s more of the Loathing series, which is criminally underrated despite its great writing and pretty solid role-based gameplay. I don’t know what else to say. If you don’t like stick figures, I don’t like you.

Under the Castle (3.75) - Liked
A cute little roguelike about a guy in a hat that I played for Playdate. One of the highest quality games to be released on the system from an aesthetic and playtime standpoint. I thought very highly of it.

Tasomachi (3.16) - Liked
Janky platforming in a sterile, but beautifully rendered world. Weird and charming as a result, I couldn’t possibly recommend this game to anyone, but I did enjoy it.

Undergrave (3.09) - Liked
A crushing strategy/resource-management roguelike with neat mechanics and highly punishing combat. Nowhere near as compelling or replayable as the greats of the genre, but unique enough to worm its way into my heart.

Super Crush KO (3.35) - Liked
Stylish and cute platforming brawler with more of an action vibe than a belt scroller. I don’t have the urge to master it, but it was enjoyable and very charming

Blue Reflection: Second Light (3.41) - Meh
I don’t know if I only consider this a “meh” as its unique premise is enough to make it one of the more memorable JRPGs I’ve played recently. I guess there is a demographic out there that can enjoy slice-of-life anime magical schoolgirls for 30+ hours, but it ain’t me. The combat was very passive, too, which didn’t help things.

Collection of SaGa (3.09) - Meh
I respect this collection very much, but it did a great job of reminding me that my memories of Game Boy RPGs are definitely not what they actually looked like. I was a bit bummed to see a lack of customization/accessibility for these games, as they could definitely use it.

What Remains of Edith Finch (3.74) - Meh
I don’t really know why this story needed to be told. It’s very artful in its presentation and the controls are simple and intuitive, but I don’t think it’s all that thematically rich. I don’t regret playing it- the game was a very brisk hour and a half, or it felt that way, at least. This was actually in preparation for a “video games as literature” unit for my Senior English class.

Crystal Project (4.23) - Loved
Finally, the job system I was promised from Bravely Default mixed with a non-intrusive narrative and meaningful exploration and dungeon design that game lacked. I’m really happy to say that I’m consistently finding new favorites, and I’m also very happy that Crystal Project exists and does what it does. Excellent experience that continues to reward with its substantial NG+.

Born of Bread (3.59) - Liked
Well, here it is. The Paper Mario clone. It’s definitely got its own style, though I find some of its nature and mechanics a bit too squarely rooted in pop culture. The combat lacks a bit of depth and I’m not sure if the swapping system is bugged on Switch or if it’s designed to be bad, but I don’t think the game does enough to escape the shadow of The Thousand Year Door or even Bug Fables.

Super Kiwi 64 (3.69) - Liked
It’s a Siactro game, which means it has a very acute understanding of its source of inspiration, and it’s also bite-sized. This one might take you a bit longer than any of the Toree games due to its expansion, but it’s still a very brisk experience that presents a healthy variety of level designs and mechanics. If anyone ever asks you to sum up the 3D Platformer era, you can point them in this game’s direction. It might not be as bloated as the games from that era, but it has the right mixture of charm and jank to accurately represent it.

Sephonie (3.67) - Liked
Well, this the odd 3D Platformer that feels inspired in its design, and not inspired by any particular classics of the era. Or maybe it is, and I missed them. But Sephonie is a rare 3D Platformer with a STORY. It uses its narrative and setting to show off some pretty crazy visuals, oh, and there’s also a weird puzzle mini game. It’s not perfect, but it’s incredibly unique and the writing is wonderful.

Spooky Ghosts Dot Com (3.22) - Meh
It’s a low-grade Metroidvania that relies on tight, but floaty platforming and punishing damage optimization to make it worth your while. The art style is simple, but cute. The game is simple, but cute. It’s slightly below average.
Once again: the linked spreadsheet.

Evan_B:
Week 24: Current Weighted Top Twenty (as of 3/12/2024):
VVVVVV (4.47)
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (4.42)
UNSIGHTED (4.41)
Crawl (4.36)
Paper Mario TTYD (4.35)
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (4.3)
The Swapper (4.28)
Inscryption (4.25)
Donkey Kong (1994) (4.25)
Roller Coaster Tycoon (Deluxe) (4.23)
Crystal Project (4.23)
Dandara (4.21)
Mr. Driller Drill Land (4.21)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (4.19)
ARMS (4.19)
Skwish (4.17)
Tetris Effect Connected (4.16)
Kirby's Air Ride (4.15)
Pick Pack Pup (4.12)
Toree 2 (4.12)
Another month, another slow step of progress. I feel like I need to do better than a game a week. This batch of additions has me pondering at what point I can really rank a game- I think it depends on how confident I am in having experienced its "loop," especially since some games long overstay their welcome for the sake of justifying their price. In any case, with no changes on the top 20 list, here's an overview of what I've played:
Firewatch (3.45) - Meh
Wow, with such a strong start and really compelling gameplay, I'm honestly surprised how quickly this game fizzles out in its conclusion. This is a game I'm very curious to replay, as I want to see how changes in behavior affect the dialogue, but knowing the truths behind the narrative, I find it hard to muster any enthusiasm.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure (3.54) - Liked
Now this is a charming adventure. I love the proliferation of short, open-world games with strong narrative theming, and although Alba's controls sometimes get in the way, its environmentalist theming and infectious do-gooder attitude are more than enough to sell the whole experience. Not a great deal of complexity, but a satisfying, short title on the whole.

No Man's Sky (2.83) - Meh
Well, I definitely didn't complete an entire run of this game, but I did get pretty deep into an expedition before I realized that, while this game is addictive and contemplative, the moment-to-moment gameplay is better served in something like Minecraft, and no amount of alien lore breadcrumbing or retro sci-fi aesthetic can mask the relatively shallow mechanics. This is also an example of a game being lower ranked thanks to the Switch, which really can't handle the graphics and complexity of this game with any degree of grace. I'd love to give this a more earnest try on better hardware, but I can't imagine that happening.

Tenderfoot Tactics (3.33) - Loved
This game is equal parts bite-sized tactics skirmishes and contemplative, transportive exploration, and it's a great example of a game I love that isn't necessarily highly ranked. I fully acknowledge that this game is a bit bloated and not all that elegant, but honestly, walking through its surreal landscapes and situating myself with the weird in-game maps is more than enough to satisfy me. Do I think it could be done better? Yeah, but I'm not complaining.

Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince (3.22) - Liked
I have a great deal of nostalgia for the Dragon Quest Monsters games on the Game Boy. So when I picked this up, I was hoping it would update that experience for modern hardware and sensibilities. It does that in the way that Dragon Quest always seems to do things. Take that as a compliment or an insult.

Evan_B:
Week 28: Current Weighted Top Twenty (as of 4/8/2024):
VVVVVV (4.47)
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (4.42)
UNSIGHTED (4.41)
Crawl (4.36)
Paper Mario TTYD (4.35)
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (4.3)
The Swapper (4.28)
Inscryption (4.25)
Donkey Kong (1994) (4.25)
Roller Coaster Tycoon (Deluxe) (4.23)
Crystal Project (4.23)
Dandara (4.21)
Mr. Driller Drill Land (4.21)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (4.19)
ARMS (4.19)
Skwish (4.17)
Tetris Effect Connected (4.16)
Kirby's Air Ride (4.15)
Pick Pack Pup (4.12)
Toree 2 (4.12)
Small games... good?

I'm really happy to have played a number of smaller titles that have allowed me to feel that I'm still progressing in my goals while also tackling larger projects. I have been working away at an "analysis" article that requires some scrutiny of a previously-played title, so in the meantime, ticking some games off of my backlog thanks to brief gameplay experiences has been a nice balancing act.

With that said, I guess I finally feel confident in saying "here for a good time, not a long time" is an adage that I can get behind, as I've found many of these shorter games to be highly impactful and memorable.
Donut County (3.82) - Loved
Entering into the top 100, Donut County is amazing. It's probably one of the easiest recommendations I could make to a potential game enthusiast of any age. Funny writing, great aesthetics, and novel little twists that keep the experience fresh in addition to brisk and lovely. A quickly digested experience, but absolutely worth it.

Paradise Killer (3.26) - Loved
This is a weird one, because as much as I really, really love the writing and world-building of this game, I think it's a bit of a mess from a design standpoint. If everything means something, this game is actually harmed by its excess- excess in collectibles, in dialogue options, in an open-world that has way too much stuffed inside it, yet still feels a bit too sterile and large for its own good. But man, what a ride. It's so satisfying... except for the one random missable secret that blows the entire plot wide open and is hidden behind heaps of alternative dialogue. Also, amazing soundtrack, but pretty terrible sound mixing, to the point where you're constantly being bombarded by irritating sound effects for doing nothing other than exploring. Such a mixed bag of good and bad, but the incredible amount of personality the game possesses helps it win out in the end.

Sonic Superstars (2.55) - Hated
Hell is playing a Sonic game in 2024.

Oom (3.91) - Loved
Another game entering into the top 100 with ease, this is proof that a simple concept and novel controls can a fun and engaging game make. Oom is rhythmic, but sometimes its exploratory. You don't always need the music in order to find success, but it can help. What also helps is the very granular control options provided by the crank, which is really the selling point of the game overall. It comes together very well even though some rooms feel a little bit redundant. Just a tiny bit.

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