Posts Tagged ‘Psychonauts’

A Relatively Quick Summary of Psychonauts Pt. 2

June 21, 2021

(Continued from last time)

Raz rushes to save Lily by descending into the depths of Lake Oblongata in a bathysphere, throwing caution to the wind. He finds a strange bubble of air under the surface which allows him to combat the giant Lungfish in its own habitat. The Lungfish tries to kill Raz over and over but he manages to outsmart the beast. With the Lungfish temporarily knocked unconscious, Raz is able to enter its mind.

When you come to, you find that you are suddenly gigantic. In a role reversal, you are now a kaiju in Lungfishopolis, towering over tiny versions of the Lungfish. The citizens flee in terror from you and the military tries to attack you. However, you are contacted by a rebel force inside of the creature’s mind. These forces work with you to fight through the city. You arrive at a tall tower which turns out to be a mind control device. It is guarded by a personification of the device in the form of Coach Oleander as a kaiju. After destroying the Coach kaiju and the device, the Lungfish is free. Introducing itself as Linda, it offers to ferry you across the lake.

You arrive at an island in the middle of the lake and at the gates of the Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed, an abandoned asylum. The place may have been abandoned by the original owners, but the Coach and his assistant Dr. Loboto are in control now. One of the first things that you notice is that the place is littered with jars that contain the brains of your fellow campers. At this point, you can rescue the brains and bring them back to Ford to be reinserted in their bodies, earning your fellow campers grudging respect. Back at the island, you find the gate locked but an odd man named Boyd is standing in front of the gate acting as a security guard. You enter his mind.

You find yourself in a house with Boyd who is in full-blown conspiracy theorist mode. When you exit the house, you immediately figure out that there is a huge conspiracy at play. The suburban neighborhood looks sunny and nice but it is soon clear that everything is manufactured. Everything and everyone is watching you. You encounter strange spindly men in trenchcoats and fedoras. They are obviously trying to act like normal people but failing at anything resembling ordinary behavior. You also encounter little girl scouts who seem a little too defensive when you question them. You navigate a strange mystery and eventually battle the Scout Leader and awaken Boyd’s dormant alter ego, the one Coach groomed for violence.

Back in the real world, Boyd is broken free of Coach’s influence and is back to his destructive ways. He unlocks the gate for you, allowing you to slip inside while he starts to try to burn the place down. You discover that some of the patients are still around and one of them is guarding an elevator that will lead you up into the tower where Coach and Loboto have Lili. Luckily, this ex-patient is nearsighted so all you have to do is assemble a vague Loboto costume from items that the patients have. The first patient whose mind you enter is Gloria, a faded ex-actress who clings to her memories of show business and suffering from bipolar disorder.

Raz finds himself in a huge theater with a cast of misfit actors on stage and a long-suffering stage manager just off stage. The audience is empty except for Gloria’s inner critic, a big bully who constantly insults whatever efforts are going on stage. Raz befriends Gloria’s inner performer, the part of her that delights in acting. There is also a Phantom in the theater who ruins any performance that Gloria’s inner actress takes part in. You get the actors on stage to reenact scenes from Gloria’s childhood to help to understand her and to gain access to the catwalks where the Phantom creeps. When you finally confront the PHantom, you realize that it is the critic. You battle the critic and defeat him, causing him to shrink and allow Gloria to stop being so hard on herself, freeing her from her doubt and pain. She still has bipolar disorder, of course, but it is a little easier to shoulder now.

You next enter the mind of Fred, a hapless guy who is locked in an internal battle with his ancestor Napoleon Bonaparte who seems to represent Fred’s lack of confidence. When you arrive in Fred’s mind, you find Fred and Napoleon fighting over a board game. You are able to shrink down and enter the game in order to help Fred win. You help recruit soldiers and a carpenter to act as his army. Along the way, you convince Fred to believe in himself and give him a little push to confront his ancestor (a split personality) and gain a measure of freedom and peace.

You next enter the mind of Edgar, a hulking painter who is blocked by trauma from his past. His mind looks like a Spanish villa done up like a blacklight poster. The place seems to be one long street and a giant bull is continuously running through the level, threatening to clobber you. You must navigate alleys and sewers to find ways around the bull. You can also utilize art itself to form useful objects, doors, and ladders to continue the level. You have to fight four luchadors to obtain access to the final boss. In the middle of a bullfighter’s ring, you pierce the bull with spears. It is only then that you find out that the bull is Edgar himself and represents his own anger that he can’t move past. You find out that his girlfriend left him for another guy in high school and it destroyed him, turning him from a jock to an artist. When you defeat the personification of the guy who stole Edgar’s girlfriend, it shows Edgar how pathetic his ex and this guy were and how silly it was to fixate on all of it. He forgives them and forgives himself.

Free to continue into the tower, you travel to stop Coach Oleander and Loboto’s plan and rescue Lili. Once there, you are able to rescue Lili along with Sasha and Milla, impressing your Psychonaut heroes. Coach Oleander is not done and puts his own mind into an even bigger tank which Raz has to fight. Raz has a tough fight against the tank and defeats it, exposing Coach’s brain. Both Raz’s and Coach’s brains end up in the same tank and Raz is sent into a mixture of his own and Coach’s nightmares.

You awaken in The Meat Circus, a mix of the Coach’s childhood being bullied by his butcher father and Raz’s childhood growing up in a traveling circus. It seems they both had overbearing fathers. The two blend together to create a huge vertical level with a sinister edge which Raz much climb. Along the way, you encounter Coach as a child and repeatedly protect him against threats to allow him to be happy, something his father never allowed him to be. Finally, you confront Coach’s father but he teams up with a memory of Raz’s overbearing father to create a dangerous behemoth that takes all of your skill and power to defeat. At the last moment, Raz’s actual father mentally projects himself into the mix and helps Raz save the day. It turns out he was only tough on Raz because he was worried and protective but he is proud of his heroic son.

With the day saved, Raz is made into a full-fledged Psychonaut, fulfilling his dream. A future romance with Lili seems all but certain and his relationship with his father is on the mend. As things wrap up, they get word that Lili’s father has been kidnapped and Raz, Sasha, and Milla spring into action to save the day once again.

A Relatively Quick Summary of Psychonauts Pt. 1

June 7, 2021

Psychonauts is the story of Razputin, a young boy who was born with psychic powers but was forbidden by his father from using them. He grew up idolizing the Psychonauts, a team of elite agents with psychic powers. He decides to sneak away from home to attend a psychic summer camp run by the Psychonauts to achieve his dream of joining the team. When he appears, they decide that he can participate in activities at least until they can call his parents. He is introduced to the other weird kids at camp most of which do not initially want anything to do with the weird new kid.

You officially start the game by heading from the cabins to Coach Oleander’s treehouse for Basic Braining. He introduces the main theme of the game by pulling you into his mind. When you regain consciousness, you are in an obstacle course that the Coach has prepared in his mindscape. The course is themed after a war zone in keeping with the Coach’s seeming obsession with the military. He berates you through the entire level as if he were a drill sergeant, insulting you to get you to work harder. As you navigate the course, you get comic relief from your fellow campers and you start a rivalry with bully Bobby Zilch and meet the inquisitive Lili Zanotto. While most of the others struggle, you are able to navigate the course. You also learn the psychic power of throwing a telekinetic punch. When you are the first to reach the end of the course, you get the first inkling that something might not be as it seems. A corner of Coach’s mind reveals that he has a secret. You see a glimpse of an odd blueprint.

After that, you get to explore the campgrounds for a bit and interact with your fellow campers. You get handed a list of items scattered around the camp for a scavenger hunt. This hunt will take most of the game to complete since you need certain powers and upgrades to find some items. You meet a strange man who is the camp’s janitor, chef, ranger, and waterfront manager. You are told that Psychonaut Sasha Nein wants to see you. It seems that you impressed him while navigating Coach’s mind and he wants to put you through some advanced training/experiments.

You travel to Sasha’s lab and he officially introduces himself and shows you his Brain Tumbler machine. The machine allows you to enter your own mind. You enter a landscape that reminds Raz of the traveling circus he grew up in. However, when you enter a circus wagon, you end up in a much stranger place that does not look like your mind. Curious, Sasha asks you to explore more. You encounter Censors, little creatures that try to eliminate rogue thoughts. When the Censors become too much for Raz, Sasha pulls him out and tells him that he needs to find Ford Cruller to be issued permission to be trained in marksmanship.

At this point, you are pointed to the camp’s ancient fast travel system which leads you to Ford Cruller, former Director of the Psychonauts. He is the guy who you have seen serving in all of the odd jobs around the camp. His psyche has been shattered in battle and he is confined to his lab with various personalities slipping out to watch over the camp. Ford takes a shine to Raz and teaches him more about the Psychonauts and grants you permission to learn a long-distance telekinetic attack.

You travel back to Sasha who pulls you into his mind. His mind is very ordered and provides a course to practice your new long-distance attack. Sasha carefully lets Censors loose in his head to give Raz some shooting practice. Unfortunately, Raz gets impatient and floods the place with censors which leads Sasha to briefly lose his fastidious control. This eventually leads to the escape of the Mega-Censor, a giant beefy censor who rampages across Sasha’s mind. Sasha steps in to help out but is ambushed which leaves Raz to fight the Mega Censor alone. Once he does, he is then clear to use his new marksmanship badge outside of Sasha’s mind. Sasha sends you back into what you are sure is not your own mind now where you battle to a mysterious tower. To get to the top of the tower, you will need additional training.

You head to meet Agent Milla Vodello who brings you into her mind for training in the use of the Levitation power. Her mind is a mix of a pinball machine and a never-ending party as the free-spirit as a contrast to Sasha’s more uptight personality. This is the mind where you learn pretty much the rest of your movement tech in the game as you learn how to float on currents and move at high speed on a ball of energy. At this point, your fellow campers start to encourage you. Except for Bobby Zilch who makes a return appearance to race Raz. With the Levitation badge, Raz can reach the top of the tower.

At the top of the tower, Raz finds himself inside of the blueprint that you glimpsed in the Coach’s mind earlier in the game. It was a blueprint for a tank and you witness a fellow camper get his brain sucked out and placed into the tank which makes it a robot with psychic powers. After beating the tank, you realize that a man named Loboto has teamed with the Coach to create these tanks to take over the world. You head to rendezvous with Lili who has been conducting her own investigation only to watch her get kidnapped by a giant Lungfish.

Psychonauts/Hollow Knight/Risk of Rain

August 3, 2020

So I have been playing more video games. It is a great release when I reach home after a day at work or something to do inside while it is so hot outside. I can only take so long of a walk outside these days before I start melting. I have to plug Good Old Games (gog.com) because that is where I have found many cheap PC games. Despite all this game playing, I have been pretty productive writing entries here on the blog. I am even writing a story and banking it to be released here later, probably when I need a vacation or if something comes up. I have also officially started writing for my Halloween event as well. Playing new video games has been inspiring me and allows me to zone out and let things swirl around before I write.


Psychonauts

The first game I will talk about is my replay of Psychonauts, this time on PC instead of Playstation 2. I bought it so that I have it saved on the cloud instead of relying on my physical copy and also it was cheap. I had played the game a couple times so I pretty much zoomed through it. The game is great, produced by Double Fine whose employees previously had made a lot of point and click adventure games for LucasArts. The game combines some of the structure of a traditional adventure game with a fun beat-em-up combat system. The game follows a young kid named Razputin who sneaks into a psychic summer camp run by superhero spies. You get to interact with your fellow campers while trying to get to the bottom of an insidious mystery. The main construct of the game is that you are able to enter the minds of people at camp and navigate their anxieties, their fears, their complexes, and try to help them fix things. It is really a surprisingly sweet game with a goofy and surreal sense of humor. The sequel should be coming out soon so I wanted to refresh my memory.


Hollow Knight

I actually had not added this game to my list despite how ‘beautiful’ it is because I knew that it was a very difficult game. I tend to shy away from notoriously hard games because they can be frustrating and I do not want to feel like I am banging my head against the wall. The price was dropped to a shockingly low level and I could not pass it up. I fired up the game and immediately there was a learning curve. The game was definitely difficult but I kept at it and my fingers started to learn the way the character moved. I died a lot. Over and over I died but never did any of it feel unfair. I always felt like I had almost gotten it and I was surprised whenever I got past a part that had previously stymied me. Part of what helped me was that the game saves often so when I needed to step back, I could do so quickly. However, I constantly found myself eager to go back to the challenge since I felt like I was so close.

The game is a Metroidvania game set in a world of insects. While all of the characters are insects (or arachnids or worms), the story is high fantasy. You play as a mysterious creature who has no memory and yet wanders into the town of Dirtmouth. You carry a nail at your side which you use as a sword. As you play, you meet many characters who help you to learn who and what you are and what your role is in stopping an ancient curse. The underground kingdom used to be made up of a diverse alliance of beings. The moths have departed, the mantises still defend the kingdom in the deep, and the spiders are corrupted. Every environment is beautifully crafted even though many would think it gross because of all the bugs. Like most Metroidvania games, the gameplay involves a lot exploring and backtracking once you have found keys or new abilities.

The game possibly the most difficult thing I have had to do in a video game. There is a platforming section called The White Palace which is optional but I wanted to try it to get a better ending. You must use double jumps, dashes, wall climbing, pogo jumps, and more to make it through an incredibly difficult course. One misstep leads to death and having to start the segment over again. By the time I made it through, my hands hurt and my mind was fuzzy. It was so zen and exhilarating to finish. It was actually fairly anti-climactic when I beat the game after that because I had already been through the worst. Most of the game involves having to fight numerous bosses most of which are undead insects. I did not finish 100% of the game but I may pick up again down the line but man, I need a break from that game.


Risk of Rain

I picked up a few other games lately and one that was dirt cheap was one I had seen touted by a streamer I am a fan of. I had no idea what the game was about but I was game to give it a shot, fresh from my victory with Hollow Knight. Risk of Rain is a 16-bit roguelike game in a science fiction setting. You are meant to fail over and over and explore to unlock things in the game and make it easier. The game is fairly simple to start, you face an unending onslaught of enemies designed to wear you down. You pick up powerups and upgrades to get stronger so you can make it through levels to the end of the game. It is a fun little game and I am really just getting started in figuring it out.

The story is that you were aboard a spaceship hauling cargo when it started to blow up and you are forced to flee to a random planet via an escape pod. You have to fight your way to teleportation gates that jump you to a ship to get back into space. The way that goes depends on what character you choose to play as. You start as The Commando but I have unlocked several characters so far. I have unlocked The Enforcer, The Engineer, The Rogue, the Sniper, a robot Loader, a combat robot, a robotic chef, and an acid-based alien. I still have a few left to unlock but I am slowly getting it done. Each character has a completely different play style. There are melee and ranged characters. Each new character leads me to basically relearn the game and some characters just are not my style. Still, I’ll keep giving it a shot.

30 Day Video Game Challenge

July 17, 2017

I saw this floating around and I thought I would do the 30 Day Video Game Challenge… in 3 days. All answers are spur of the moment and may change as days go by.


Day 1 – Very first video game.

Donkey Kong on the Atari. I remember going over to a friend of mine’s house and in his bedroom he had an Atari set up. I had never seen one before but I had played a few games on the computer. The Atari had challenging games but I was totally blown away. I loved video games immediately. It is of interest that my first game starred possibly the most iconic character in gaming history, a character I still enjoy very much. That is the only time I ever remember playing the Atari as the Nintendo Entertainment System was not far from release.


Day 2 – Your favorite character.

Razputin from Psychonauts. He was awkward, overly-excited, snarky, and not actually invited to the psychic summer camp that he attended. However, his heart was in the right place. He cared about the other people around him and was not interested in just blasting his problems away. When he saw something was wrong, he set out to solve the mystery not only to save the girl but also to prove his worth to the world and himself. His glib behavior covers up the deep psychological struggle he has to go through in more ways than one.


Day 3 – A game that is underrated.

Dark Cloud 2, hands down. In Japan, it is called Dark Chronicle but it got a full release in the United States on the Playstation 2. It was the sequel (obviously) to Dark Cloud, a game I also enjoyed and is also underrated. In the game, you play as Max and Monica, two characters who each have specialized skills. You go through dungeons to beat the bad guys and obtain the pieces necessary to rebuild the future that Monica comes from. The main mechanic is hacking and slash with some shooting. There are also sim city – like elements, fishing minigames, photography minigames, weapon customization, and plenty of characters to meet and get to know. I really like how they deal with time travel and the story ends up being pretty deep if you allow yourself to get into it. On top of that, it has beautiful cel-shaded graphics and intuitive controls.


Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure game.

I can’t really think of a game that I played that I was embarrassed to play. The closest I have come is probably Sailor Moon SailorDrops on my phone since it is the girliest game I have played. But I am not embarrassed about that. It is a lot of fun.


Day 5 – Game character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).

Maybe Squall from Final Fantasy VIII. He is determined and works hard but definitely has a streak of anger in him. He also finds it hard to socialize with people while more charming characters like Zell, Selphie and even Quistis find it easy to talk to other people. Though, I am not as bad a student as he was since he has to take a makeup exam of sorts in the first part of the game. Also, Max from Dark Cloud 2 is a good pick. I am curious about the world like he is and loyal to those around me when I know I can help and especially when I am the only one who can help. Like him, I like solving puzzles and figuring out the different answers to a problem.


Day 6 – Most annoying character.

That would probably be a tie. The first is the dog from Duck Hunt on NES. If you miss shooting a duck, the dog will laugh at you like you are a complete fool. Many of us wanted to shoot that dog by the end of the game because using the light gun was not that easy, especially for a little kid. After that, I would pick Daxter from Jakk and Daxter whose voice and incessant talking can grate on your nerves. He actually grew on me eventually but he added nothing to the gameplay. He just added to the visuals of the main character and was another voice in cutscene conversations.


Day 7 – Favorite game couple.

The one that felt the realest to me was Eddie and Ophelia from Brutal Legend. Finding each other after Eddie traveled through time and space (twice) was almost meant to be. The two of them fall for each other pretty quickly and Eddie is quick to defend Ophelia when everybody else is distrustful of her. In the end, their relationship hits the rockiest of patches and they break up but if you’re persistent enough (and curious once you have beaten the game) you can find them a happy ending.


Day 8 – Best soundtrack.

I am torn here. Off the top of my head, I want to say Kingdom Hearts. A lot of the game has original compositions that are really beautiful and fit the situation you are in. On top of that, it was the thing that introduced me to Utada Hikaru and her J-Pop and her beautiful, soulful voice. The rest of the game has music composed from the Disney movies you are moving in and out of which gives the score a nostalgic boost. Other than that, I would have to once again pick Brutal Legend because heavy metal is one of my favorite genres and the catalog is really deep.


Day 9 – Saddest game scene.

The end of Kingdom Hearts 2 where Sora tries to drag a wounded Riku across an alien beach and they see that there is nowhere left to go. The danger is past, they saved the multiverse but they are stranded with no obvious hope of rescue. At that moment, they are oddly at peace with their death and Sora admits that he may have let the darkness into his heart just like Riku had. They are completely at peace with being separated from their friends because their friends are safe. The moment was just so sad for me and I bought it because the first game had ended on a bittersweet note as well. Then I happily got whiplash from the next moment when they are reunited with their friends.


Day 10 – Best gameplay.

I would go with Psychonauts. The combat and platforming is intuitive and fun to control. You get a multitude of psychic powers that can solve different problems and beat different enemies. All of those powers are visually pleasing. On top of that, the mechanic of going into different people’s minds gives you many different settings to play around with different rules. This made it so the gameplay never got old for me. It was also legitimately challenging as it progressed but I never abandoned the game. It was so satisfying to beat that game because I felt like I had accomplished something but I never raged against the machine.

Top 11 Video Games

August 1, 2015

This list illustrates my preference for games driven by both story and fairly simple game design which are very enjoyable to play. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like games like Super Mario World, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Ratchet and Clank and Katamari Damacy and any number of other games. However, I do have a serious bias toward console games as a controller is so much easier to handle and I never had a serious PC to run games. So take that into account.  This is a follow up to a discussion on why I like video games at all inspired by the Game Grumps.


11 Deadpool (X-Box 360)

Ok, this one is cheating a little bit. There is source material outside of the game in the form of a long-running comic book character from all the way back in the nineties. However, I contend that you can play this game and enjoy it without ever reading a comic book. The gameplay is mostly hack and slash but the story and voice work makes the game really surreal and fun. Deadpool is a character who is very meta and tends to nuke the fourth wall from orbit. The game ends up feeling like something from the Marx brothers mixed with a parody of video games in general. Coupled with that, the character spouts a million funny one-liners. The gameplay is fun enough but the comedy kept me going.

10 Red Dead Redemption (X-Box 360)

I’m a big fan of westerns. My personal favorites are The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Two Mules for Sister Sarah and the True Grit remake. Every bit of this game feels like walking through a really good western movie and that’s exactly how it’s designed. However, you also get a lot of the feel of the scenes they cut out from the movies. Sure, you participate in gunfights, pitched battles and you even get to engage in bounty hunting. However, you also fight and skin animals and ride your horse across empty plains. The game is really beautiful and I find it so easy to get sucked right into the world. The game has a morality system so you can play the game differently every time.

9 Final Fantasy IX (Playstation)

I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game that I absoulutely hated and most of them I’ve at least enjoyed. However, if we’re going for enjoyable gameplay and story, I’m actually going with number nine. The game is a very long Japanese RPG that uses a lot of cool fantasy archetypes but, at the time, shook things up a bit. The female protagonist isn’t just a damsel in distress, the male protagonist is a thief and some of the heroes just don’t get along with each other at all. There’s a lot of story about what it means to be a hero and doing what’s right. There’s also a pretty heavy message about questioning reality and what makes a person a person. It gets fairly philosophical and heavy at some points but it’s a really beautiful game.

8 Psychonauts (X-Box 360)

This game absolutely blew me away when I first played it. I have fond memories of summer camp. The idea of kids attending psychic summer camp amused me. Above all the game is really funny but below that humorous exterior is a really creepy, offbeat story. There are a ton of really neat characters including a whole host of fully developed extras. The concept behind the game is that you enter people’s mindscapes to sort out their psychological issues. Very rarely do you actually fight anybody or anything in the real world. So a lot of the time it feels like there’s a sunny world where very evil things are happening just out of sight. As mentioned before in this blog, I love the juxtaposition of happy and scary so this was right up my alley.

7 South Park: The Stick of Truth (X-Box 360)

I don’t really think you need to have watched South Park to enjoy this game. However, it makes it infinitely more fun if you’ve seen most of the series. If you’re not ready for a ride that is super obscene and incredibly inappropriate then just skip this one. Just skip it. However, if you have a good sense of humor and you were ever a fan of the show then I suggest you pick this one up. The gameplay is simple and based on a lot of turn-based RPGs. There’s a lot of character customization that further immerse you in what feels like playing in a three-part South Park episode. Because of decisions, side quests and easter eggs I’ve played this one over and over and enjoyed it every time. It’s not very long but a very fun (and raunchy) ride.

6 Brutal Legend (X-Box 360)

I must have mentioned that I love heavy metal music. In fact, I love a lot of different genres of metal. I even love BabyMetal but that’s another thing entirely. The fact of the matter is that DoubleFine (the makers of Psychonauts) teamed up with Tenacious D and they made a video game celebrating the Metal. The game is full to the gills with heavy metal music, album cover imagery and even has the voice talents of Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Ozzy Ozbourne, Lita Ford, Rob Halford and Lemmy Kilmister. The game is funny most of the time but actually hits some deep felt moments. The game is full of epic atmosphere and, as the great story unfolds, the gameplay evolves. You also get to cast spells with a guitar which is something I had often imagined in my high school and college days.

5 Dark Cloud 2 (Playstation 2)

I bought Dark Cloud 2 on a whim, mostly because I enjoyed Dark Cloud which I bought heavily discounted. I was expecting more of the same and boy was I in for a surprise. The basic gameplay is the same but with heavily updated graphics. However, the story received a huge boost as in Dark Cloud 2, the stakes feel 200% higher and it includes time travel. More than that, the time travel actually makes some sense. In the game, you play as young inventor Max and also as Monica, warrior princess from the future. Your job is to rebuild the present in order to make sure that the future happens as it should (so it can help you in the present). There’s magic, sci-fi and plenty of fun characters to interact with. The game play is simple but not really ground breaking but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun as hell.

4 Borderlands 2 (X-Box 360)

I never really liked first person shooters as I was growing up. Most of them were on the computer and I never had a good system to play them on. I also was forbidden from playing first person shooters by my mother. I really don’t blame her. The media had drummed up a lot scary stuff and being a parent is really hard. I was never really good at them anyway. For some reason, the Borderlands series instantly clicked with me. I tried Borderlands 2 because I found out it was written by Anthony Burch of Hey Ash Whacha Playin’. It’s clear through playing the game that Anthony understands a lot about comedy when it comes to video games. The game is surprising at times, beautiful to look at, funny and above all the characters feel pretty real. Everytime I play it I find some new detail I never noticed before. It’s a non-stop adventure that is endearing and just challenging enough to keep you from pulling your hair out.

3 Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Disney animated movies are great and they have been adapted so many times into video games but I can’t think of a single one that was worth playing. They all felt too half-assed and most of the ones I played were way too hard. I’m looking at you Lion King and Alladin. They also had to adhere to a set script because that’s what was expected of them. Kingdom Hearts combines fun Disney storytelling with some creative parts from the Final Fantasy series. It actually forms a new animal that’s equal parts new and equal parts nostalgic. The gameplay is fun and it’s really great to run around with Goofy and Donald to save the Disneyverse. It’s very hard to describe how good this game (and its sequel) is without giving too much away. This was the first game I can remember having a very real emotional release when I finished it. After this game, and its sequel, I teared up and felt so good and bad at the same time.

2 Portal 2 (X-Box 360)

I never played the original Portal but I was definitely well aware of all of the memes. I’ve since played the game and it’s a cute little game using the Source engine. I actually played the sequel first and I absolutely loved it. From the first five minutes I knew that the game would be exactly up my alley. The game immediately immerses you in a complete environment with amazing detail and really fun gameplay. As the game progresses, you’re introduced to extremely rounded characters who only become more interesting as you go. It’s not just the constant voiceovers that unfold a really cool story but also the environment your character is walking through. My only gripe is that I wanted for their to be more game, more story to follow. There’s so much quotable dialogue and moments that actually packed an emotional punch. If they ever make a Portal 3 (doubtful) I will be in line to buy a copy.

1 Arkham Origins (X-Box 360)

I love Batman. It’s been a pretty key fixture in my pop culture life since I was 7 years old. I’ve greedily gobbled up every piece of Batman whatever whenever I have a chance. My problem was that games based on comic books mostly sucked. When I played Arkham Asylum, for the first time I felt like I was Batman. I didn’t just beat up criminals, I did detective work, I climbed and swung and faced down the rogues gallery. When I played the sequel, Arkham City, I felt even more like I had been dropped in a comic book. When Origins dropped I was expecting good things but it exceeded expectations. Just like all of the Arkham series games, the characters have gravity and the storyline is told in such a way that you don’t have to be familiar with the Batman mythos to understand. However, it’s also a Batman fanboy’s dream as it an adaptation that strikes new ground while also scratching so many nostalgic issues. If you take anything away from this post, play all three of these games. Eventually, I will play the final game in the series, Arkham Knight.


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