Summer's End

13 August, 2023

Tags: blogging

A little later than I wanted to get this up but here it is! I ended up playing some games with friends on Friday night and was having too much fun to stop and write this. Wrote my two finals on Thursday which I'm glad is over. Wife and I went to a baseball game to celebrate the end of the semester afterwards.

What I've been playing

Between studying for exams and work, I haven't had the most time, but I've snuck some games in here and there.

Last Call BBS

Zachtronics games have always been interesting to me but there's a point where the logic of the programming required feels a bit much for me. Last Call BBS' framing story of it being a Japanese retro PC you got from a friend drew me in however, and the variety of things you can do on it really helps to reset and take a break; fake gunpla building, solitaire, a picross-like, a vs puzzle game(!!!), and the obligatory programming games provide ample variety. I've been jumping between them as I get stuck or need a change but it's been a lot of fun. Maybe I'll give the rest of their games another shot. I've had Eliza for a while and I know it's unlike the rest of their games so maybe I'll get to that next.

For the time being I've mostly been playing the body horror tinged Forbidden Path, which has you puzzling how to create a biomechanical body through cell manipulation. It's pretty cool!

an animated sequence of cells filling a space, some turning to flesh, others to bone

Quake II

Quake II just got a remastered release, and while I've never really played the series outside of Quake III Arena, friends were excited to play it and it's got cross-platform play for both co-op and deathmatch modes, it was hard to say no. We were having so much fun with it that this is what got in the way of me writing this post on Friday, haha.

It's weird how refreshing it is to play older games in a modern context. Modern FPS are so loaded with progressions, ranking, matchmaking, etc., that getting into a game takes some time as you customize load out, skills, and whatever else. Quake II has none of that. We made a lobby, played 4 player co-op for a while then as more friends signed on we switched over the deathmatch and it was so seemless and quick, it felt like something of a revelation. Obviously this game and others like it are still around but it's not really what is made anymore, so it's a nice change. Being able to play with friends regardless of platform is also a really nice addition.

Demon Throttle

This game is a weird one for me. When it was first announced I thought it looked like something interesting to play, but then saw they were going heavy on physical exclusivity which put me off it. I was able to find a used copy for a price I was OK with, so ended up going for it. Turns out, it's a lot of fun! I played through the whole game with a friend yesterday, making increasing progress each attempt, culminating in later runs being us trying to defeat the "true" final boss (unsuccessfully). As you play you unlock stage variants that randomly apply, one of which increases the attack and movement speed of all enemies. We had the poor luck of seeing it for the first time on the already chaotic final stage.

Watching & Reading

Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Now Wander the Dungeon

I expected to hate this. The isekai genre is one that, imo, has been tired for a long time. We get it, you died/travelled to another world/etc and now you're overpowered. Very few of the big ones stray from this and fewer stray from the formula established by their predecessors. It's just not what I go for, so it's nice when I come across one that I do like, given the genre's prevalence. Vending Machine's whole setup is that... a vending machine otaku died (trying to somehow save a vending machine from falling off the truck in front of him) and was reincarnated as a vending machine in another world.

A man colliding in mid-air with a vending machine after both have smashed through a guardrail

Ridiculous, I know, but it works! It's silly and light, but quite fun.

Ghostly Things & Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction

I've been neglecting a lot of manga that I started a while ago, so now that I've got some time, I've been making a point of catching up and finishing some of them.

To that end, I finished reading Ghostly Things, a blessedly short (3 volumes!) story about a girl who can see spirits and is trying to find her mother who has gone missing. It wasn't amazing but it was enjoyable enough. I'm a sucker for stories like this, where peoples' normal lives intersect with the supernatural.

I've also gotten back to Asano Inio's DDDD since I was reminded it finally finished publishing last year. Asano's stories have always been ones I've enjoyed, usually focused on the period we shift from youth to adulthood and all the struggles that can bring with it. DDDD's path to this is unlike the others I've read, primarily following a group of high school girls in Tokyo in the aftermath of an alien invasion.

Some things to check out

Reverse, Retouch, Repeat - a new newsletter about manga localization in North America. Seems very interesting and I'm excited for more!

JFF+ INDEPENDENT CINEMA 2023 is running through October. Midnight Eye over on Mastodon posted about it and highlighted two films that I'm looking forward to watching soon:

Thinky Games, a site covering puzzle games of all kinds. I only learned of it recently but they apparently launched just about a year ago! Very into what they're doing, and it led to me learning the creator of LOK made a new book, titled ABDEC, which I'm very excited to get and struggle to puzzle my way through!

That's all for this week, hope the week ahead is good! I'm going to be trying to stay cool while we're hit by a heat wave and enjoy this time free of homework! Until next time! じゃあね!