Review: Bayonetta (Xbox 360, 2010)

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I don’t have the strongest history with the works of Hideki Kamiya, the director and creator of Bayonetta. Whether it’s Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, or Okami, these are all games that I have bought and played over the years, but oddly enough, I’ve never finished a single one of them.

That all changed recently when Bayonetta 2’s impending release on the Wii U inspired me to fire up the original on the Xbox 360. It’s a game that is adored by fans, and its sequel became one of the most talked about and controversial exclusives on Nintendo’s newest console. Bayonetta is often described as the perfect action game, so I had to see for myself what it was all about.


Now that I’ve played through it, I understand why it has such passionate fans. I can also see why it not being on Sony and Microsoft consoles this time around has angered so many players.

At its core, Bayonetta is a case study in deep, accessible gameplay. It’s a game that can be enjoyed both by those who just want to experience its story and spectacle, but perhaps more importantly, by those who want to take the time and effort to master its intricate combat system.


And what a combat system it is! Different combos can be performed effortlessly through a seemingly endless string of punch, kick, and firing combinations, and buttons can be long-pressed to maximize combo output. A feature called Witch Time can be activated while dodging enemy attacks at the last second to slow things down and give the player an opportunity to further build up their combos and score, and without taking any damage.

Combos can also be interrupted and continued through the game’s innovative Dodge Offset system, which can dramatically increase a player’s performance once its timing and use have been mastered. The game doesn’t do a good job explaining this, and while I’m not there yet in terms of fully grasping its depth, it’s one of the more addictive aspects of Bayonetta’s advanced gameplay techniques.


The game takes place over the course of 18 Chapters, including the Prologue and Epilogue. Each one is broken down into a group of Verses; some Chapters only have a few Verses, while others can have many. Not all of them are along the critical path, however, and the player must explore each Chapter to find them. It took me approximately 15 hours to complete, and I missed a lot of those Verses.

Much time will be spent in the game’s numerous cutscenes, which are long-winded and could have greatly benefited from a more aggressive story editor. Speaking of Bayonetta’s story, I found most of it to be nonsensical, but I suppose it did a serviceable job of giving the cast motives to keep moving forward.


The characters themselves are excellent, however, possessing strong personalities and energetic voice work. The only character I did not care for was the Chapter 16 boss, who simply will not shut up. For those who have played Bayonetta 2, they actually poke fun at this in the game’s opening Chapter. I guess even Platinum thought they went overboard!

Visually, Bayonetta looks good, with a game engine that does its best to run at 60 frames-per-second. It slows down quite a bit throughout, but not enough to be a detriment to gameplay. Cutscenes run at half the framerate — possibly for cinematic purposes — but it can be distracting seeing the performance change so frequently. Don’t ignore those cutscenes, though. You have to stay on your toes, since quick time events often occur during what are otherwise non-interactive cinematics.


The game also exhibits an excessive amount of screen tearing, which is an unfortunate blow to its visual presentation. It should be noted that this does not occur in the 2014 Wii U port of Bayonetta.

Animation is superb, however, and although some of the character models show their age, they convey realistic emotion through their facial expressions, movement, and dialogue. Bayonetta herself is fluidly animated, with beautiful and sexy attacks that flow together seamlessly. Her hair-based Wicked Weaves and Climax finishers are particularly noteworthy, as they are huge, screen-filling creations that bring to mind the memorable Summons from the Final Fantasy series.


The color palette of the game tends to be dark, with lots of grays, browns, reds, and greens. It suits the story and mood of the game, but I thought they were much more drab than they needed to be. Environments exhibit a good variety throughout — with some truly memorable ones — although you will find yourself running down boring, barren hallways more often than you’d like, as well as solving rudimentary, slow, and sometimes vague puzzles. These all feel like holdovers from the PlayStation 2 era, and can slow the game down to a crawl.

On the audio side, Bayonetta is an absolute stunner. The soundtrack is an energetic mixture of vocal pop, smooth jazz, and grandiose choral and classical arrangements. They give the game its texture and atmosphere, are all of extremely high quality, and elevate the game’s action to the next level.


Not only that, but with Platinum’s partnership with Sega — and Kamiya’s love of old Sega games — Bayonetta is graced with arranged music from classic games such as Space Harrier, After Burner, and Out Run.

Sound effects are not only well done, but are essential to performing well in combat. Enemies have subtle visual and audio cues that will telegraph an incoming attack. With so much action and chaos going on around you, sometimes you will have to let your ears do the seeing for you.


Minigames and platforming are also a part of Bayonetta’s gameplay, but they can slow the game down, be completely frustrating, or are so long as to overstay their welcome. It’s unfortunate that Platinum drew the driving/flying stages out the way they did. These would have been better served as a medley of the different game styles combined into a single chapter. As it is, they end up feeling out of place due to their vastly different gameplay, and overindulgent due to their excessive length. Platforming is often vague, with Bayonetta falling to her injury or death frequently. Thankfully, it doesn’t occur too many times throughout.

Boss encounters, on the other hand, are intimidating and exciting. Most of them have an intuitive feel that makes fighting them very fun and satisfying. Couple this with Bayonetta’s finishing moves and these become some of the game’s most enjoyably visceral sequences.


In terms of replay value, Bayonetta brings it. Not only are there a wealth of items and secret battles to buy and discover, but there are also challenging hidden stages that will test your skills and mastery of the game’s techniques.

Its ranking system will also have perfectionists coming back over and over again to attain all of the game’s Pure Platinum awards, which essentially requires the player to get through each Chapter with a high combo score, low time, and zero damage. Not an easy feat, and definitely not for the faint of heart at the game’s highest difficulty of Non-Stop Infinite Climax, where Witch Time is disabled and enemies are stronger. Accessories can help out tremendously, but button mashers will not get far beyond Normal mode. Bayonetta requires dedication, concentration, and mastery to extract everything that it has to offer.


In closing, Bayonetta is one of the best pure action games I’ve played in a long time. Its combat system is highly satisfying and possesses splendid depth. Although there are frustrating aspects, including gimmicky minigames, instant-death quick time events, performance issues, and a glut of unnecessary cutscenes, the foundation is rock-solid, and is a game that action fans should not miss.

  • Graphics & Presentation: B
    Nice animation, effects, and mostly 60fps action. Performance often takes a hit, and screen tearing is prevalent. Worlds are constructed well, but colors are dark and bland. Cutscenes can be painfully long, but some of them are exhilarating and extremely stylish.
  • Music & Sound Effects: A+
    One of the best action game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. A wonderful mix of vocal pop, jazz, and classical, you’ll be singing “Fly Me To The Moon” long after you finish the game. Great sound effects that actually matter during gameplay.
  • Gameplay & Controls: B+
    A combat system that puts most to shame; it’s fast, fluid, deep, and intuitive. Upgrades, new moves, techniques, and accessories add to the game’s wonderful variety and complexity. Significant filler muddles Bayonetta‘s focus, though, with the non-fighting levels, shooting galleries, puzzles, and half-baked platforming.
  • Value: A
    Pure Platinum chasers will have their hands full for weeks, if not months, with a system that rewards perseverance and dedication. Lots of hidden items, battles, and challenges to discover will keep completionists coming back for more.

Overall: B+


October Reader Mail: ’90s Nostalgia

One of the nicer things about not paying to promote my blog is that I have been able to slowly grow and maintain a more personal and intimate group of readers over time. On the flip side, I’ll see articles about certain bloggers and YouTube content creators making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars doing what they do, and I’ll think to myself, “I need to do that!”

Whether that’s a healthy thought or not, I received this email earlier this month that not only made me smile, but gave me some assurance that I’m not wasting my time:

Hey Mike!

I was listening to the latest IGN Game Scoop! podcast today, and they were celebrating their 18th anniversary, as well as the Nintendo 64’s release day too (September 29, 1996). It really reminded me of your blog postings.

I have never really been a big Nintendo fan, but listening to the show gave me a deeper appreciation for Nintendo.

18 years ago, I was competing in local Doom LAN contests on PC and playing console games on the original PlayStation. Since I didn’t have an N64, I basically missed out on Mario Kart 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros, GoldenEye 007, and many others.

I think the only games I played extensively were (a) Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which was one of my friend’s favorite games at the time, and (b) Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which another friend of mine did speedruns on. For some reason, when Conker would curse or torture the other animals, it would crack her up to no end.

And now that I think about all of that, it’s very strange to me. The N64 almost feels like it never existed in my world. I played a bunch of Super Nintendo (in particular, Street Fighter II), the GameCube (Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, etc.), and the Wii, but other than the funky-looking controllers, I can barely recall what the actual console looked like.

Maybe it was because the N64 was slotted between my PS1 and PS2 purchases, or the fact that I was more active back then. Who knows, but I do know that I like your blog a lot. It makes me feel nostalgic for the days of going to Electronics Boutique, Kay Bee Toys, etc., when I would just eyeball all of the clamshell cases on display. Just really super carefree times. Keep up the awesome work!


Thanks so much for that, Brian! I’m really happy to hear that you enjoy the blog. I totally hear what you’re saying on missing out on consoles almost entirely. I wrote early on about never owning an NES, and even though I played a lot of games on it back in the day, it wasn’t the same as having it in our home, playing it whenever I wanted, and spending the time to truly master its games.

I do have to take a step back and be thankful, though, that I have been fortunate enough over the years to have either bought or been gifted most consoles and gaming platforms. While systems like the 3DO and Neo Geo were cost-prohibitive at the time, I owned many of the other major systems for each generation. I even had a Neo Geo Pocket Color at one point, albeit rather briefly.

Much of what you said about the N64 mirrors what I’m going through right now. We’re 1-2 years into the current generation of consoles, and the only one I own outside of handhelds and PC is a Wii U. I’ve historically been an early adopter, but dropping what would be close to a grand or more on two more consoles and a small handful of games isn’t something I’m ready to do yet, even though I really do want to play games like Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, and Infamous: Second Son.

By the same token, it’s also alarming how behind I am when it comes to games. There’s no conceivable way I could ever play all the titles I want to in my lifetime, many of which are still waiting for me from the 8-bit and 16-bit generations. My personality is such that it’s difficult to just say “Oh well, forget it!” and move on. Easier said than done. So, I try to make it about the quality of my gaming time vs. quantity. While I might not be able to play everything out there, I want to play the best of everything out there. Again, easier said than done, right?

I also like what you had to say about checking things out in retail stores. As much as I love the convenience of ordering things online, I do miss that unmistakable feeling of walking into a store, heading into the game aisle, and looking at all of the game boxes. The Sega Master System sections were so small!

I can close my eyes and still remember precisely where the games were at the Toys R Us in Huntington Beach, CA. You had to take the slip of paper for the game you wanted, pay for it at the register, and then head over to their big, locked cage at the front where they would fetch it for you. I always liked that slightly delayed sense of gratification, and I’d always worry that they wouldn’t be able to find the game in question. I guess it was the modern equivalent of an online order not arriving on your doorstep when it’s supposed to.

Anyway, thanks again for the kind comments, and for giving me another chance to walk down memory lane. As I begin my fifth decade of existence, I can’t wait to see what the future holds, as well as acquainting myself with the many classics that I missed.


Unboxing Bayonetta 2 (Wii U, 2014)

As someone who was never that into third-person action games, Platinum Games’ Bayonetta flew right past me, as did the studio’s other games such as MadWorld, Vanquish, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. However, it only took a few minutes with Bayonetta 2‘s demo on the Wii U to make me realize what a big mistake I had made.

I’ve played it several times since its release, slowly improving upon my previous runs. In that sense, it feels like a true arcade experience, similar to how I felt with Volgarr the Viking, one of the best games I’ve played all year.

Upon playing Bayonetta 2‘s demo, I immediately preordered it on Amazon. Since I had just finished LEGO City Undercover, I decided to fire up my Xbox 360 copy of the first Bayonetta. I haven’t finished it yet — and finishing it once is really only scratching the game’s surface — but you can check out my highlights and hear what I have to say about the game so far on YouTube HERE.

Bayonetta 2 arrived late this past Friday, and even with the first game unfinished, I couldn’t help myself; I just had to tear into my copy!

Below is a series of photos showing what’s included. Nothing earth-shattering, but I do hope you enjoy them.


Full shot of the front cover. Standard Wii U blue box. Bayonetta 1 is included on its own separate disc.


Another shot of the front cover, with a more detailed look at the logo and artwork.


Additional detail of first Bayonetta logo. I like that it’s relatively small and up in the corner instead of being plastered somewhere else over the main artwork.


Full shot of the back cover. Hard to tell what’s going on in any of the tiny screenshots, but it does show some of the alternate outfits now available in the Wii U version of the first Bayonetta, including Samus (Metroid), Peach (Super Mario Bros.), and Link (The Legend of Zelda)


Close-up detail of the back cover’s screenshots. For some reason, Bayonetta’s pose on the left looks a little strange to me.


Sega and Platinum Games logos, as well as supported controllers: Wii Classic Controller Pro, Wii U Pro Controller, and Wii U GamePad. I will be using the Wii U Pro Controller.


Game case spine and thumbnail, which is from the same piece of art from the back cover.


Inside of case, a black & white safety/e-manual pamphlet and game discs. Those come in their own separate trays, which is always nice. Case itself is a standard eco type, which I know saves on plastic, but they just feel super-flimsy. No actual game manual of any kind, which isn’t surprising, but is still disappointing.


Bayonetta 1 game disc. Artwork is from the back cover of the 360 version. Screening is nice and of high quality.


Bayonetta 2 game disc. Artwork is from the front cover, and looks great.


Club Nintendo information and registration code are now printed on the back of the game case insert, which makes getting to it a little more difficult. Nearly impossible to miss, though, due to the eco case cutouts.

Be on the lookout for my Bayonetta review and Bayonetta 2 playthrough on YouTube soon. Have a great week!


Review: LEGO City Undercover (Wii U, 2013)

When Lego City Undercover was originally announced back in 2011, I brushed it off as a gimmicky Grand Theft Auto wannabe for kids. It didn’t help that I was already feeling let down by the Wii U after its disappointing E3 debut, where Nintendo seemed to be completely out of touch with reality and the rest of the industry.

The years since then have been a very different story for the console, having built up an excellent library of games, including Super Mario 3D World, EarthBound on the Virtual Console, Mario Kart 8, and this exclusive from Tt Fusion and WB Games.

2014 has been a good year for me and open-world titles. Tomb Raider, Batman: Arkham City, and Grand Theft Auto V are among the sandbox-style games that I’ve played and put extensive time into, and I’ve loved them all.

Like I said, I had initially ignored Lego City Undercover, but I had also seen the very positive reviews and forum threads on it, and figured now would be a good time to see what it was all about.


And I’m so glad I did! Lego City Undercover is one of the most purely fun games I’ve played on the Wii U, providing a wealth of variety and challenge for gamers of all ages.

Its format will be familiar to fans of open-world games. While there is a main storyline full of special missions and unique environments that keeps you moving forward through the game world, it is primarily comprised of a giant, living city that you can explore freely.

What I like about Lego City Undercover’s gameplay is that it blends together the vibrant feel of Grand Theft Auto V with the structural, dizzying traversal of games like Uncharted and Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider from 2012. It also does so through humor, creative design, and violence that doesn’t go beyond that of typical Saturday morning cartoons.


Like many other of its genre peers, collectibles are a big part of the gameplay. Not only will you be picking up a large supply of Lego bricks in order to build things, but you’ll also need money to unlock most of the game’s characters, vehicles, and special abilities.

That’s actually something I don’t like about Lego City Undercover’s design. You spend a lot of time finding all of these collectibles, but there is an additional step required, where you have to go to your home base to unlock each one individually for use within the game world.

I hope that if a sequel is developed, that unlockables can be used immediately once you find them. Compounding this problem is the actual unlocking interface, which is slow and unresponsive.


Then there are the load times, which can last up to a minute and a half. These occur pretty often, especially later in the game when you’re going back and forth out of levels collecting all the things you missed your first time through.

I consider myself to be a pretty patient player, but Lego City Undercover’s long, non-interactive loading screens definitely tested me. I give these a bit of a pass, however, since this is one of the Wii U’s earlier releases, so I’m sure if given the time, Tt Fusion would have been able to implement better streaming/preloading technology and get a better handle on the hardware architecture itself.


Graphically, the game looks very good, with excellent draw distance, nice environmental detail, and a decent framerate. It does often dip below 30fps, but given how much is being displayed on-screen, its performance hits aren’t entirely surprising.

There are some inconsistencies in quality when it comes to texture detail too, but for the most part, the game looks nice, and particularly shines during special missions and Super Build sequences, which show various structures being built brick-by-brick.


In terms of audio, Lego City Undercover gets most things right. The voiceover work is wonderful, with some sound-alikes that are pretty close to the real thing, like Morgan Freeman and Joe Pesci.

Music is also good, with a ’70s funk soundtrack that fits the story and style of the game perfectly. Additionally, there are some licensed tracks, and the music for the final stage is particularly amazing.


What’s bizarre, however, is the complete absence of music during most of the game’s open-world and driving sections. Fans of Grand Theft Auto and other open-worlders have become accustomed to different radio stations to listen to, and driving around Lego City without a single chord of music makes these sections feel sterile and incomplete.

It’s a giant missed opportunity, in my opinion, but on the flipside, because of how long it will take to 100% this game, maybe not having a repeating soundtrack during these segments is a blessing in disguise. It’d be nice to have the option, though.


The Wii U GamePad is put to good use in Lego City Undercover, and like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, it’s nice being able to use it as an interactive map and resource without having to pause.

It’s also used throughout the game to set waypoints, check in on your overall progress per area, listen in on conversations, and uncover important clues. It works pretty well, but I found myself feeling rather silly on multiple occasions holding the GamePad up in the air, spinning in my chair looking around the room. If a sequel is produced, it’d be nice to have the option to just use the thumbsticks for this functionality.


There is a lot to do in Lego City Undercover. While the main campaign will take most players about 15 hours to complete, it will easily take triple that — if not more — to 100% it.

The great thing is that most of those additional tasks are fun to do and discover. They usually don’t take that long to complete either, and abilities like fast travel, ability boosts, scanning upgrades, and other enhancements make the collectibles a joy to uncover.

The game does a great job of keeping track of what you’ve found, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself pulling your hair out trying to find that last character token in a given area. Try your best to avoid FAQs, since the game is at its most rewarding when you solve the game’s various puzzles and challenges on your own.


I had a great time with Lego City Undercover. While it doesn’t have the spectacle, controversy, or production value of similar open-world games, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable in the genre, providing laughs, solid gameplay, varied locales, and no shortage of things to discover and do. I highly recommend it.

  • Graphics & Presentation: B+
    A believable world full of colorful characters, environments, and creative Lego structures. 30fps for the most part, with framerate dips when the screen gets busy. Nice animation, depth, and a fun story that will keep you going until the very end.
  • Music & Sound Effects: B
    A fun ’70s soundtrack with some licensed tunes as well. Excellent voice acting, good sound effects and believable ambient fill. No music during most of the open-world and driving sequences makes those parts of the game feel dull, so hopefully a more robust radio setup makes its way into a sequel.
  • Gameplay & Controls: A-
    The world is a pure joy to explore, and the controls are solid. Some platforming and judging of distance is vague, but with unlimited lives and convenient retry features, it’s rarely an issue. Grand Theft Auto could learn a thing or two from this game’s flying controls, which are wonderful. Tons of gameplay variation and abilities will keep you  going long after the credits roll.
  • Value: A+
    It will take about 15 hours to get through the main storyline, but 60 is more likely to 100% it. Tons of collectibles and post-game content will keep you going for days, if not weeks, after you finish it. Lego City Undercover represents a tremendous value.

Overall: A-



Review: Don’t Move (Android, 2014)


Shortly into STVR’s Don’t Move, I asked myself, “What in the world am I playing?”

Ten minutes later, I was like, “This is incredibly annoying… the point of this is what again?”

Half an hour of staring at my tablet, and I said out loud (quietly, since my wife was sleeping), “I’m going nuts, but I can’t quit now!”

Two hours and two playthroughs later, I concluded, “The message here is a good one.”

Don’t Move is a cautionary tale.  I doubt most players will see its ending, and those players are probably the types who aren’t completionists, don’t like grinding, or scoff at the thought of getting all of a game’s Trophies or Achievements.

I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t have to get everything in all of the games I play, but there are certain ones that will totally hook me and not let go until I’ve seen all it has to offer.


Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS is one such game. I put over 250 hours into it, farming Metal King Slimes and Gem Slimes for hours upon hours, maxxing out my job classes and working towards the game’s best and rarest gear.

I used online tools to get rare drops in dungeons and like the monster farming, spent weeks going through certain dungeons again and again to meet my goals.

I eventually got to the point in the game where I was happy with what I had, and so I stopped. I wasn’t even close to 100%, but the damage was certainly done! I stuck with it for that long because I was having fun. I mean, if it’s not fun, why keep playing?

Don’t Move asks similar questions and more in a deceptively simple way, and somehow, even with only the ability to move left and right, and requiring almost zero skill, kept me going all the way through. Twice.

The graphics are very basic and uncharmingly 8-bit, the music is repetitive, and the sound effects of you dying every second will absolutely drive you bananas. I can only remember a couple instances that required any sort of finesse or timing. Otherwise, you’re either moving left or right in a single room. You can practically play it in your sleep. It’s just not fun. Or is it?

That hint of doubt that Don’t Move raises is why this game is important. If all you did was walk a few steps and die, you’d probably turn it off after a minute or so. There’s no payoff or bridge to the next thing. However, the game presents goals. It has specific Achievements that can be earned. There are endurance-based ones that reward you based on distance, time, deaths, and medals. You can also level your character up just by moving, get new outfits, and if you’re persistent, see the game’s ending (and it does end).

But to what end? Or does that matter? Why do we do things in games we know are menial, but we do them anyway?


I’m reminded of the game I’m currently playing: Lego City Undercover. Just in this screenshot, you see that I’m going out of my way to collect a big piece of Lego to go build something later. In the background is a platform where I can use those Legos, earn a Gold Brick, collect money, and maybe unlock a character costume. On the right is a statue that I can blow up for similar rewards.

Don’t Move is interesting in that unlike Lego City‘s various tasks, distractions, and sidequests, everything you do in it is a requirement. If you don’t do them, you can’t progress. And so, against your better judgment, you go ahead and do them to see what happens next, no matter how arbitrary, boring, or absolutely pointless.

20141008_dont_move_02Without a glossy exterior, fancy production, or even good controls and gameplay to mask this “carrot on a stick” approach, you realize that what is happening here is borderline-illogical busywork designed to make the game longer. Sound familiar? You can probably think of a few games you’ve played in recent memory that felt the exact same way.

Do you need a game to be fun to feel satisfied when you reach the end? Does a game need to be challenging in order for you to enjoy it? Is variation in gameplay and locations key to keeping you interested in a title?

Don’t Move will make you ponder these questions and more, long after you reach its Game Over screen. For something to make me think about games like this is a sign of something worth looking at, no matter how painful the experience was to get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a dozen more pigs to go find in Lego City.

Overall: B


Review: Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (Digital, 2012)


First, a bit of history and context: 1985 was the year skateboarding became something I wanted to try, and my guess is most kids in the ’80s felt the same way too. Seeing Michael J. Fox ride his Valterra deck in Back to the Future — at least to an 11-year-old — was amazingly cool. While that particular skateboard was mass-produced and sold complete at big department stores for cheap, it didn’t matter. Kids who had one were the targets of jealousy. Mine in particular.

Earlier that same year, my dad had tried to get me into surfing. It was his favorite pastime, and it was something he had done most of his life growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii. I had a few good rides, but I never did fall in love with it. Most of my resistance had to do with the fact that I didn’t like getting up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the best conditions. Still don’t. I’ve never been a morning person. Oh, and those best conditions tend to occur in the winter, which in Southern California means the Pacific is more or less freezing.

Additionally, surf shops didn’t interest me all that much outside of the stickers and t-shirts, but I was always drawn to the skateboard walls and counters, particularly the awesome and slightly scary Powell Peralta decals. The first ones my dad ever bought me were for Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, and Steve Caballero. The art was amazing, and even though I really had no idea who they were, I treated them like gold.

Around the same time, and likely due to me still talking about Back to the Future a lot, my dad thought it would be a good idea to buy me a skateboard to practice surfing moves like bottom turns and off-the-lips at home in our driveway:


I don’t remember who made that board, but I do distinctly remember the giant red, white, and blue “Kilroy Was Here” graphics on it, which didn’t mean anything to my pre-teen brain. After we got home, I gave it a try on our backyard patio. Almost instantly, it went flying out from under me, I fell on my ass, hurt my wrists, and it slammed right into the concrete wall. Needless to say, I didn’t ride it again for a while.

Over the next two years, my skateboard was little more than a mode of transportation to my friends’ houses, parks, and sneaking to the liquor store to play videogames. It wasn’t until junior high that my friends and I started hearing about things like some “Animal Chin” video and stylish skaters like Christian Hosoi and a name that came back from my then recent past: Steve Caballero.


Thrasher Magazine started circulating around classrooms instead of Mad Magazine, and almost overnight, everyone I knew had the latest skateboards, with the ones from Powell, Vision, and Santa Cruz really standing out, like the Mark Gonzales, Keith Meek “Slasher”, and Psycho Stick. I was obsessed with the art, and would do my best to copy them in pencil during class. Especially that Slasher. There are elements from that which still sneak their way into my art today.

When it came to actual skate equipment, though, I was still rockin’ my old Kilroy deck, which had a blue noseguard and speedbump-like skidplate on the back. By 1988, I had swap meet-sourced copers on the trucks — you know, for protection — and a lapper on the back to supposedly make climbing curbs easier. Plus, those socks and that haircut. Needless to say, the girls weren’t exactly knocking down our front door.

Even when I got my first real skateboard for 8th grade graduation (a Vision Psycho Stick, coincidentally), I protected that thing like it was a new Ferrari. Maybe no lapper this time, but my small circle of friends and I all had Tracker trucks with those massive wraparound copers and plastic baseplates. Skidplates, rails, and noseguards too. Funny looking back, but I think we were all of the same mindset that we had to make these things last.


Then one day, along came the Powell Peralta video that changed everything for me: 1988’s Public Domain. I’d never seen anything like it, with names I’d never heard of before, like Ray Barbee (misspelled as “Barbie” in the video), whose clean, technical style I immediately latched onto and of course was never quite able to replicate.

Also, unlike a lot of other skateboarding videos at the time, Public Domain had a very polished, professional feel to it, like you weren’t just spending money on a cheap home video, but something that folks had put a lot of time, money, and effort into. I credit this video for inspiring me to become a better skater.

For the next couple years, up until about mid-1990, skateboarding was my life. But as we all began to get our driver’s licenses, started dating, or became more involved in clubs and sports in preparation for college, it wasn’t long before the vast majority of us stopped skating altogether. Thinking back on this actually gets me a little choked up, since it was such a glorious time of freedom, individuality, creativity, and adventure.

And that right there is at the heart of what makes Bones Brigade: An Autobiography such a special documentary.


Everyone is here: Stacy Peralta, George Powell, Tony Hawk, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, and Lance Mountain. Plus a lot of other big names like Christian Hosoi, Mike Vallely, and Tony Alva. Even Fred Durst and Spike Jonze make appearances.

The interviews throughout are thoughtful, funny, personal, and at times painful. From its very beginning, even though I was smiling throughout, there is an undercurrent of nostalgic sadness here that permeates all of the interviews.

20141007_bb_tgThat’s not to say that this film is a downer. It’s the furthest thing from it, and is as wonderful a history lesson in Powell Peralta the company and its riders as you’re likely to find. It’s not just a look back on the historic rise, fall, and rise again of skateboarding, but an intimate look at its principal players and how they each responded to their meteoric rise to worldwide stardom.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing to look back on the early days of the skateboarding industry, its advertising, and how things we take for granted like “street skating” weren’t even things yet until the likes of Tommy Guerrero made it so.

In many ways, it reflects that of the videogame industry, how it started small, but that even then there were innovators shooting for the stars (like Electronic Arts and Broderbund at the time) who set their own paths, gave their designers top billing, killed it in terms of presentation, and put out the very best games, giving everyone else something to aim for. I remember the Bones Brigade team doing exactly that, raising the bar for everyone else.

20141007_bb_10One thing that really stood out for me here was Lance Mountain. As a young teenager who was always looking up to the best of the best, Mountain seemed like an anomaly. I thought he was OK, but nowhere near the level of the Hawks, Caballeros, and Mullens of the world.

I remember the silly clip from Public Domain where an English Bulldog steals his skateboard, but I don’t remember any of his actual skating. Bones Brigade spends some time on this very topic, and I came out of it with a much deeper respect and understanding of why he was on the team, what effect he had on other skaters, and him as a human being. These sequences that focus on Mountain are wonderfully done and some of my favorites in the film.

20141007_bb_11I was very happy to see that equal time was spent on the other members of the original Brigade. I was half-expecting most of the coverage to be on Tony Hawk, just because he is the Mario and Mickey Mouse of skateboarding: everyone recognizes him, and deservedly so due to his skills, drive, and business acumen.

Watching the old clips of him brought back some of my fondest memories of the sport, and even though I was a street skater and never did skate halfpipes, when guys like Tony Hawk skated, I stopped and watched. I liked him because he was such a technical wizard. He rarely messed up, and his innovations in bringing so many street-based techniques to ramps was amazing to see.

20141007_bb_6One of the things in Bones Brigade that really got the nostalgia juices flowing was its focus on the stylistic dichotomy between Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi. I was always drawn to Hawk’s quieter, more technical approach to skating, while my best friend’s favorite was Hosoi.

Their real-life rivalry, as it was portrayed in magazines and contests at the time, perhaps seeped into our own approach to skating and friendship. These guys really were huge influences on us all, and many of us projected the pros’ personalities and styles on ourselves. I think there was also a quiet voice in the back of our minds that told us we would be doing this for many years to come, if not forever.

20141007_bb_13That sentiment is echoed throughout this documentary, bookended by fascinating bits of history, including the creation of two of skateboarding’s most iconic moves: the McTwist and ollie. I was engrossed hearing firsthand accounts about their development and how they — particularly the ollie — became the foundation for just about everything that has followed in the sport since.

It’s also during these looks back that we see who did well for themselves and who didn’t, whether it was due to bad choices, grudges, or other negative influences. These moments are sobering, and are a good reminder of how quickly things can change, for better or for worse.

20141007_bb_5Besides Lance Mountain, the most revealing and interesting person in this film is Rodney Mullen, who was one of those guys whose skating just blew me away. He was on a whole different level, captivating me with his flawless runs full of gravity-defying tricks. I also remember how I used to make fun of the way he talked, with his high-pitched voice and odd, stream-0f-consciousness way that he described things.

Here, we see someone who looks like he’s been through the wringer of life; someone looking back on his years in the Bones Brigade with razor-sharp clarity and wisdom. He provides some of the most insightful and crushing interview footage, with a candid and unfiltered look into his personal life and his struggles with success… and himself.

20141007_bb_3Steve Caballero, even with his thick, graying beard, still looks like the skater I and so many others emulated back in the day. The guy had this smooth but goofy-shy style, but he also exuded pure power when he skated. It was no surprise that he was a favorite of mine and so many of my friends, and everyone liked to do his little head-cocked-to-the-side thing.

The Half-cab, derived from his own Caballerial/Full-cab was always one of my favorite tricks, and I loved doing them up and down curbs, stairs, benches, and anything else in front of me. It’s interesting that when I look back, the original Bones Brigade skaters that influenced me the most — namely Tony Hawk and Steve Caballero — were vert skaters. It wasn’t what they were skating so much as it was how they were skating them.

20141007_bb_16Skateboarding was an important a part of my life from 1987-1990, just as videogames were. In retrospect, I would say perhaps even more so. While I was enjoying gaming at home on my Sega consoles and Apple II, it was skateboarding that provided not just a creatively challenging outlet, but a bonding, social, free-spirited activity that both spoke directly to me and reflected who I was and still am as a person today.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is a fascinating watch for anyone into skateboarding, and particularly essential for anyone who was part of that culture throughout the ’80s.

Overall: A



Backlog Blitz: The Games of September 2014


Hmm, going from a peak of +14 back in March to a +2 in September is not a good omen. After a good recovery in July and August, I’ve once again slipped into near-negative territory. As you’ll see, several nice bundles are to blame, but I did finish a couple high-quality games.

Anyway, the format, as with previous updates, is Game Title (Platform, Purchase Price, Play Time).

Games purchased (-6, $27.75 spent):

    1. Bundle Stars Night Dive Bundle (PC, $3.50)
      I recently discovered this bundle site based out of the UK, and so far, they’ve been great, with amazing deals and game quality that is pretty high, depending on the bundle. I do hope they’ll allow Steam account linking soon so that it’s easier to add games to the library. Anyway, this bundle included: System Shock 2, Bad Mojo: Redux, Wizardry 6 & 7, Wizardry 8, Harvester, 7th Guest & 11th Hour, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and Shadow Man.
    2. The Humble Indie Bundle 12 (PC, $7.75)
      Humble continues to offer some of the best bundles out there, even though prices and unlocks seem to be going up. I don’t mind so much, though, since the quality of their offerings remains high. This one was no exception, and included the following: SteamWorld Dig, Hammerwatch, Gunpoint, Gone Home, Papers Please, Luftrausers, The Bridge, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, and Race the Sun.
    3. Bundle Stars Indie Jam 4 Bundle (PC, $2.50)
      Another one from Bundle Stars, this one came with a staggering 10 games for just a couple bucks, including: Akane the Kunoichi, They Breathe, Mini Motor Racing Evo, Ichi, Rhythm Destruction, Oozi: Earth Adventure, Oknytt, Hammerfight, SOL: Exodus, and Gearcrack Arena.
    4. The Humble Bundle: PC & Android 11 (PC/Android, $6.00)
      Humble kinda went nuts this month, with three great bundles spanning PC and Android. This one, which covered both platforms, included their trademark collection of high-quality games: Blackwell 1: Legacy, Blackwell 2: Unbound, Blackwell 3: Convergence, Bridge Constructor Playground, Cubemen, Cubemen 2, Don’t Move, Quest of Dungeons, Small World 2, SpaceChem, and one of my favorite games from earlier this year, Thomas Was Alone.
    5. 20141006_leoLeo’s Fortune (Android, $3.00)
      My only non-bundle purchase of the month, this gorgeous puzzle/platformer from 1337 & Senri is a great example of a premium game done on mobile platforms without a free-to-play model. I’ve only just started, but it’s a wonderfully beautiful game full of good puzzles, physics, and challenge.
    6. The Humble Mobile Bundle 8 (Android, $5.00)
      Finally, the latest mobile bundle from Humble was a pretty good one, although admittedly not their best. I’m starting to wonder how many more premium mobile games are still available for this format. Whatever the case, I’ll keep buying them as long as they provide a good value and quality. This bundle included: Doodle Devil Premium, Doodle God Premium, Epoch, Epoch.2, Little Big Adventure, Mikey Hooks, Tentacle Wars, TowerMadness 2, Wave Wave, and Zombie Gunship.

Games finished (+2, $25.50 value):

      1. Kero Blaster (PC, $8.00, 5 hrs.)
        Excerpt from my review: “Kero Blaster is short, at just about 5 hours for two complete playthroughs. However, it’s the kind of game you can’t stop until you’re done, and even after that, it compels you to come back and discover all of its many secrets. While it may not have the historical significance that Cave Story did, it’s still a very fun game that represents all the best qualities of Daisuke Amaya’s incredible talent.” Overall: B+
        REVIEW LINK 
      1. New Super Luigi U (Wii U, $17.50, 20 hrs.)
        Excerpt from my review: “As someone who absolutely loved Mario’s first outing on the Wii U, playing through this world again with completely different levels and character physics was a welcome challenge that at times pushed my abilities to their limits. How Nintendo will top this brotherly combo is something that’s hard to imagine. New Super Luigi U represents some of the finest in Nintendo 2D platforming.” Overall: A

Anyway, there you have it for September, and with only three months left in 2014, we’ll see what happens. I’m currently playing LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U, and based on the amount of content in that game, it could very well be the only game I finish this month. Now to convince myself that I don’t need to buy anything else!

See you next time and have a great week!


Review: New Super Luigi U (Wii U, 2013)

New Super Mario Bros. U is my favorite side-scrolling Mario game since 1991’s Super Mario World. And yes, that includes Yoshi’s Island, which is a game I enjoyed and completed, but stopped short of achieving 100% in every stage.

The New series of Mario games got its start back in 2006 on the Nintendo DS. It built off of the series’ past successes on the NES and Super NES, and marked Nintendo’s return to classic, side-scrolling 2D gameplay. The world was ready, and so was I.

20140926_nsmb_dsUnfortunately, I didn’t really care for it. Something about it felt off, and at least on the DS, I didn’t like its low-fidelity visuals and sterile design. In fact, it took me close to six years to finally finish it, and that’s mostly because I wanted to have a baseline on which to compare its three sequels.

Thankfully, New Super Mario Bros.‘ follow-ups — New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS, and New Super Mario Bros. U — are all superior, with the Wii and Wii U versions being my favorites.

The 3DS game looked and played well enough, but I thought it was way too easy with watered-down design.

nslu_boxAfter completing and thoroughly enjoying New Super Mario Bros. U, I didn’t immediately purchase its Luigi-based DLC. I thought $20-30 was too much to pay for what was in my mind just some remixed levels starring Luigi. I had this idea in my mind that if Nintendo was able to put all of the extra Luigi content in a game like Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the original asking price, why were they charging so much extra for this?

Now that I’ve played through this game in its entirety, in hindsight, that opinion can only be seen as my own ignorance.

New Super Luigi U is a great game. Although it is technically DLC — and it requires New Super Mario Bros. U to function if you buy it digitally — it plays like a brand-new game, full of new ideas and challenges.

Oh, and I did buy the physical version, which does not require the original game. Plus, you gotta love that green case!

Anyway, Luigi U borrows its graphical and musical assets from its parent Mario game, and it also has the same world map, but the levels themselves have been completely redesigned, and you are now at the mercy of a reduced timer that starts at 100 instead of 400.


You not only have to contend with less time, but with Luigi’s drastically different controls and physics. He jumps much higher now, can float in the air momentarily, and has a tendency to slide around like a wet noodle, so unless you’re just a platforming natural, it will take some time to get used to these changes.

You will be frustrated on many occasions as your attempts to grab items, dispatch enemies, dodge environmental hazards, and collect the three special Star Coins in each level, will lead to your death. But once you get used to it, this becomes an absolute blast to play.

Levels are shorter, there are no checkpoints, and extra lives can be scarce when you most need them, so the game remains challenging from several different perspectives. That’s a rarity in modern game design.

You will also have to chase and catch Nabbit from time to time, which is fun and necessary to do if you want to attain 100% completion status.


Graphically, Luigi U is beautiful to look at, with all of the subtle touches and artistic brilliance that adorned New Super Mario Bros. U. The highlight here, however, is that there are hidden Luigis all over the place. They are sometimes obvious, but many of them are cleverly hidden or blended in with the backgrounds. These are all fun to find and uncover, and since they are often found near a Star Coin, their discovery becomes that much more meaningful.

The game runs at a rock-solid 60fps at 720p resolution, and I don’t remember seeing a single bit of slowdown. The New style has been controversial for close to a decade, and you either love it or hate it. I think it looks its best on the Wii U, with crisp design, silky-smooth animation, tons of depth, and gorgeous environmental effects.

On the audio side of things, it’s… New Super Mario Bros., which is to say it isn’t all that memorable. When you compare it to something like Super Mario Galaxy, you can’t help but feel like the New series simply plays it too safe in the sound department.

It’s whimsical with some standout tracks, but for the most part, it’s derivative and not a soundtrack I’d listen to when I’m not playing the game. On the flipside, Luigi U‘s sound effects are crisp, classic, and full of a variety of voice samples. They’ve gotten to the point where they sound totally natural, as opposed to how awkward they were when Nintendo shoehorned them into the Game Boy Advance titles.


Getting back to that time limit I mentioned earlier, I wish this game had better Miiverse and ranking integration. While you can manually post your times, a more traditional and automated leaderboard system would be great.

It would also be fantastic if for the next game, they add in Miiverse replays like the ones in NES Remix 2. As it is now, the Miiverse comes off as mostly negative, since the majority of the posts you’ll see will be from frustrated players who have died at various points throughout the game.

Another small complaint is how long it takes to retry a stage after you die, which takes about 12 seconds each time. I wish it would just ask me if I want to try again instead of kicking me back out to the world map only to turn around and go right back in. It doesn’t take too long, but it takes just long enough to be an unnecessary nuisance.

Finally, something that would make this game even better is having the gold flag requirement, like in Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) and World (Wii U), or introduce a Rainbow Stars requirement for each stage, like the NES Remix titles. This game already has a lot of replay value, but these would put it over the top, and reward repeat efforts.


All in all, I had a great time playing New Super Luigi U. As someone who absolutely loved Mario’s first outing on the Wii U, playing through this world again with completely different levels and character physics was a welcome challenge that at times pushed my abilities to their limits.

How Nintendo will top this brotherly combo is something that’s hard to imagine. New Super Luigi U represents some of the finest in Nintendo 2D platforming.

  • Graphics & Presentation: B+
    You either love or hate the New style, and while I’m not a big fan of it, Nintendo has definitely improved upon the handheld and Wii installments with lovely backgrounds and animation to die for. 60fps 720p shows how Nintendo’s flagship franchises can shine in HD.
  • Music & Sound Effects: B
    Mario Galaxy and 3D World this is not. The soundtrack is solid, but it relies too heavily on past melodies and influences. Themes like the underwater one are superb, but the standouts are the exception rather than the rule. Excellent sound effects and voice samples bring the characters to life.
  • Gameplay & Controls: A
    Luigi feels really loose at first, but they become second nature after several stages. It’s fun to collect the Star Coins, Hidden Exits are tricky, and all of the secret Luigis strewn throughout each world will make you smile. Platforming can be super-tough and the game isn’t overly generous with 1UPs.
  • Value: A
    It will take about 15-20 hours to get through this. Compared to most DLC and season passes, $20-30 sounds like a lot, but given how much content there is, it represents more than you’ll get out of a lot of $60 purchases. Going for perfect, no-hit runs will keep speedrunners coming back for more.

Overall: A



Five months at Gray-Haired Gamer

20140923_batman_originsDid I really start this in April? It’s funny looking back at some of my earlier stuff. My Batman: Arkham Origins review is so short, and my Persona 4 Golden review seems odd and doesn’t even read like a review.

I think this site is at its best when I’m writing about my past, or talking about the things that have influenced me. It gives me a chance to dive deep into things that mean a lot to me, or the people who have shaped who I have become, whether they are colleagues, friends, or family.

That’s not to say that I don’t like writing reviews or sharing my latest progress through what I’m currently playing. That’s also good, and it gives me an outlet for more structured pieces. For those progress reports specifically, I’ve found that YouTube has been a much better way to share them. It gives me the opportunity to not just show you exactly how I’m playing through these games, but it lets me share the thought process, mistakes, and other impressions of the series they’re based on or influenced by.

This has been highly rewarding and it only seems natural that the next step will be to set up a webcam to literally face the world when I speak. Soon, I promise!

Although my updates on the blog have not been daily as I originally set out to do, I have tried to post something daily across one or more of the other GHG outlets, so if there isn’t content being posted here, I’ll definitely be posting something elsewhere, whether it be YouTube, Twitter, or Google+.

If you follow me elsewhere, you might have seen the music video I put together last week:

I love doing things like this, and even though this video is mainly about the games I loved when I was in my early and late teens, it was also an exercise in synchronizing video to audio, which is a seriously time-consuming process.

I’m guessing there are better tools out there to make this easier, but I just did it all based on the song’s waveform. Anyway, I’m happy with the way it turned out, although I thought of at least a hundred other games I’d love to feature in future videos. I just need to figure out which songs to use.

As you saw last week, my Backlog Blitz progress for 2014 has been pretty solid. A few slips here and there, but I’ve managed to stay ahead up to this point, and I don’t intend on slipping before the new year!

So what’s next? Well, for one, I’m going to get back to my Industry Memoirs series. I’ve still only written up to the end of 1996, so there are many more years to write about. Lots of ups and downs to be certain, but mainly ups.

20140923_sh_sat_loadI’m also going to do some more in-depth videos on games or series that have influenced me. I’ve written about some of them, such as Space Harrier and Phantasy Star, but I’ve been wanting to do accompanying videos for them, which I think will be a lot of fun to produce.

I’ll likely start with Space Harrier, since it’s one of my all-time favorite arcade games, and I can’t wait to show and talk about the various versions I played, its sequels, and how it’s a series I hope Sega properly brings back in the way they did with Out Run 2.

Anyway, thanks for continuing to check out the blog. While I’ve expanded my horizons a bit and have definitely been focusing more on video content lately, I still very much love writing about games, so please look forward to many more updates.


Backlog Blitz: The Games of August 2014


Where does the time go? I can’t believe it’s already mid-September! It was a pretty even month, even though I did buy more than I finished. However, a couple of the games I finished rank as some of my favorites of the year so far, so I’m OK with that.

All in all, I finished -2 for the month, but I’m still +6 for the year. Anyway, the format, as with previous updates, is Game Title (Platform, Purchase Price, Play Time).

Games purchased (-5, $56.50 spent):

  1. 20140916_ghg_ff10Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster (Vita, $20.00)
    I was pretty torn on this purchase because I do like Final Fantasy X — it was the last game in the series I ever finished — but I really don’t care for its sequel, X-2. There’s a part of me that wants to go back and play earlier entries in the series, though, and since I only finished this game once on the PlayStation 2, I figured playing it again in portable form on the Vita would be a good way to experience it again. My guess is most of it will feel new since it’s been over ten years.
  2. Chrono Cross (Vita, $5.00)
    Since this game was part of August’s sale on PSN, I added it to the library. While I like Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo more, there’s a lot to like in its follow-up, especially the music, which is just sublime. I remember not liking the more serious tone and slower pace of the game itself, which is common to many PlayStation 1-era RPGs, but like Final Fantasy X, I think playing it on the Vita will be fun.
  3. The Humble Mobile Bundle 6 (Android, $4.50)
    Another month, another quality bundle for Android users. This bundle includes Carmageddon, Combo Crew Special Edition, Duet Premium, Eliss Infinity, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf: Full Game, Llamas with Hats: Cruise Catastrophe, Mines of Mars, Threes!, and Time Surfer. Worth the price of admission for Threes! alone. What a great game.
  4. The Humble Sega Mobile Bundle (Android, $4.00)
    Although I’m not a fan of playing games that aren’t specifically designed for touchscreens, this Sega bundle had quite the solid offering. When are they going to make a proper Out Run game for mobile? Seems like the perfect platform, don’t you think? Anyway, this bundle includes the following: ChuChu Rocket!, Crazy Taxi, Happy Sonic! Live Wallpaper, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition, and Virtua Tennis Challenge.
  5. Kero Blaster (PC, $8.00)
    From Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya — the creator of Cave Story — for only $8 on Playism, this one was a must-buy. Their website is a no-frills affair, so I didn’t feel all that confident making my purchase. I got my game, though, and started playing it shortly thereafter.

Games finished (+3, $26.00 value):

  1. 20140811_1001_spikes_review_4Aban Hawkins & the 1001 Spikes (Wii U, $15.00, 20 hrs.)
    This was a very fun game, with surprisingly good presentation, multiple endings, and lots of different modes to play. Although some of it feels half-baked on the Wii U with no off-screen play and tons of audio glitches, it is still a robust game at its core that delivers a ton of bang for the buck, and is one of the most challenging titles I’ve played in 2014 so far. Recommended! Overall: A-
  2. Threes (Android, $1.00, 10 hrs.)
    Much better than the very similar game Eights, this one has great personality, intuitive controls, and that “just one more try” addictive quality that makes it a great play anywhere, anytime game for your phone. Overall: B+
  3. Volgarr the Viking (PC, $10.00, 40 hrs.)
    In my written and video review, I summed this game up by saying that it’s my favorite of 2014 that wasn’t released in 2014. It’s a game that truly respects the player’s patience, understanding, and perseverance, and it comes with my highest recommendation. And now I shall pray to the Allfather Odin that Crazy Viking Studios will produce a sequel. The world existing with only one Volgarr game would be criminal. Overall: A+

Only three and a half months left in 2014! I’m bracing myself for the holiday sales, but I feeling (cautiously) optimistic that I can stay above zero before 2015 kicks off.