twenty-twenty-three, for you, for me

or: a look at 12 games i'm convinced i might play this year

salutations and greetings—coffee’s by the fire, fill your cup! (i find it’s fun to pretend that it’s a hot bean juice.)

it’s been a whole year since i actually published something on my little baby website. with any luck, you’ll see me in another 365 days—but until then, let’s talk about what’s on my plate for 2023.

excuse me? you want to know how 2022 went? oh. well. i told you not to hold me accountable for anything, if i remember correctly, so we’ll leave it at that.

we’re gonna keep it real simple this year, almost like my 2022 goodreads resolution to read 1 novel!*

ultra kaiju monster rancher (switch)

this game shouldn’t exist, and yet we live on a piece of mud hurtling around a bonfire in the closet of some miracle maker and they deemed that we were worthy enough of a thing like this. and THEN it got an official english translation within the same calender year!! as a species, we have witnessed two back-to-back miracles, and yet the news would still have you believe that “andrew tate goes to prison” is the only miracle 2022 has provided us with. we live within the golden wreathes of manifold glory, unfolding for us a more perfect future, should we only grasp it!!

suffice it to say, i will be grasping the heck outta this on my nintendo switch in 2023. i’ve been watching the early ultraman shows as a cool-down from all the godzilla media i consumed in the last two years, so to find that i finally have the legibility for this… boyo. for those who don’t know, ultraman is a monster-of-the-week show that started in the 1960’s and has been reaching wider audiences outside of japan in recent years (shin ultraman is debuting next week in the us, and you can BET your loveliest hat i have a ticket to ride!). every week, the being of light would defend the earth from all sorts of rubber suit freaks—and i cannot emphasize enough how much i love the rubber suit freaks—and send them packing. in ultra kaiju monster rancher, you are tasked with raising those degenerates and making them do… something. which is the “monster rancher” part of the title, a game series that debuted on the ps1 that dabbles in this.

anyway, it’s too bad i didn’t get around to it in 2022, because it’s totally unfair to 2023 that i already know my game of the year (sorry, new zelda!).

line attack heroes (wiiware/pc)

[taps mic] yeah, you know what i’m talking about.

a wiiware game from GREZZO, the devs who brought you the game i didn’t play from my 2022 list (ever oasis… i’m sorry…), and the “recent” rash of zelda remakes! you’re familiar, right??

well, this year is special because i finally have equipment that’s decent enough to run through the fan translation that was released at the end of 2021—a steam deck!

line attack hero holds a special place in my heart as a bizarre japan-only game that i found back in 2007~ online that really got me wondering about what it meant to have games that were sub-$60 and that took really bizarre concepts and ran with them. i had just played sin & punishment and my mind had been expanding to this idea that “there’s some cool stuff in … japan? actually.” i’ll go into this more later if i ever finish line attack hero and write something up for it.

sephonie (steam)

this was the first game i played for the steam deck—is it why i wanted a steam deck? sure. why not! support indies!

have you ever wondered what it would be like if there was a navel-gazing tony hawk pro skater game that took place on a serenely bizarre and sentient island? you’re in luck!! this is the latest gig from analgesic, the team who brought you anodyne and, more recently, anodyne 2, amongst others. check ‘em out! loved what i played of the first few hours. very chill, lovely and intimate writing.

e.x. troopers (nintendo 3ds)

i’ve been screaming about e.x. troopers for years, and even made a fair bit of progress in the japanese version of the game before using a… huge garbage-fire machine translation of the game, which also got me to roughly the same point (bikini beach scene……… [sunglasses emoji] ). but now there is a muuuuch lovelier, more impressive fan translation out that tricks you, actively, into thinking you’re in a better dimension where this released to critical acclaim in the west and that you’re settling down for the evening with an old favorite.

anyway, i need to finish this game once and for all. its soundtrack is solely responsible for me getting any work done in the last two years (please… listen to the music, if you’re not going to check out the game—it is so rare that a game has such a standalone, spectacular soundtrack as this).

pentiment (steam)

when i first saw the trailer for pentiment some time ago, i thought “nice.” when i saw others talking about it being a “sleeper hit” and that the developers oblivion had “done it again,” i thought “cool.” when some anonymous piece of media stabbed my eye with the phrase “umberto eco’s name of the rose meets night in the woods” i knew i could no longer avoid checking this game out.

sure enough, i picked it up on the winter steam sale and played around with it for 30 minutes and decided that this is an incredibly zach-core game. very excited to sink mine teeth into it, hieronymus bosch style.

final fantasy vii - crisis core / intergrade / ever crisis (steam/android)

okay, so, i just lumped all these together because that’s what square’s been doing anyway. if i get to any of these, it’ll likely be ever crisis since that’ll be a much more casual phone game than crisis core, than intergrade.

i loved crisis core for the psp even though i never finished it. it was an incredible chill-out game for some of the hottest days of 2020 (when i was playing it). i wrote a tedious, huge, experimental blog that may yet see the light of day again if i get around to playing crisis core about what it is to be a kid in hot, hot summers with a video game as your only source of solace (very, very original, i know)... which may be the reason i never got around to finishing the game.

anyway, i have a deep and abiding love for ff7 ephemera, even if it takes me years and years to finish them. to date, the only ff7 things i’ve finished are: dirge of cerberus: final fantasy vii, final fantasy vii: remake, and final fantasy vii: advent children (heh). never the original, never the “good” spinoffs… anyway. ever crisis, which is every ff7 game ever, jammed into a mobile game with like four different character models for each character (from hyper-polygon remake-looking models to chibi baby blobs), will be a salve for my weathered soul that just wants to sit in that dingy world and soak up its lifestream.

persona 5 royal (switch)

it’s time for me to wake up, get up, get… out there? [dabs]

i loved persona 5 when i first played it at launch in april, 2017. i sank my teeth into its huge world, its gorgeous graphics, its incroyable soundtrack… and for 60 hours i had a great time. but after 60 hours, the mind, it wanders… this is the one game i would ever fault with having “too much” writing. it was lousy with the stuff—which is not to say the writing was not good, but that it should have been pared down a lot more than it had been.

i recall that there was some drama around the localization. this was at the height of the “gamers” demanding that their games not be “censored” or, in many instances of ignorance, “localized” as they wanted their anime wives to arrive on western shores scantily clad and tsundere to the max, as god (japan) had intended. "all according to keikaku…"

you’ll have to forgive me for this writing, i’m enjoying looking back on what an awful time that was and how it pales in comparison to the modern hellscape of 2023. i’m almost nostalgic… anyway, that sentiment was heard by atlus and led to some… we’ll say “interesting” bits that they would leave in the game. i’ll have to be corrected if someone knows otherwise, but i remember there being legitimate and valid hubbub around the homophobia still present in the series despite the clapback for similar stuff in persona 4. hm... i guess i’m just dwelling on this here because i have no-one in my life that i could talk about this aloud to, so i’m forcing it out here so i don’t feel like i imagined all this stuff.

with any luck, royal will prove to be a much more delightful experience for me. for one, it’s portable! i can take my switch anywhere to enjoy this game, rather than being limited to the television set that i share with others. for another, i’ve heard and read that it has many, many meaningful quality-of-life changes that will “enhance” my “experience”—and as a gamer of yore, i love to enhance that.

beyond that… i just miss the ambiance of persona games. have lots of fond memories playing them during both lurid and dry moments in my life, so i’m excited to return.

really wanna see that huge burger again, too…

dragon quest xi s: echoes of an elusive age - definitive edition (steam)

i need this for my health.

i played through the first 20-30 hours of this back when it launched for switch, but now i’m determined to make this a Bed-Time Regimen game. the chillest settings, the great characters, the best monsters in the medium… i need something soft like this to land on in a world that’s hellbent on being what it is.

also, i need the high of encountering a metal slime.

the witcher 3: wild hunt - complete edition (steam)

i’m gonna do it.

it runs real nice on my steam deck since the next-gen update, i loved the first 40 hours i spent with it at its hugely choppy launch in 2015 (where i lost my save because of a crash and subsequently abandoned the game), i really enjoy the the books, and the show’s proven insufferable to me (“what if we’re the real monsters…” can only get so much mileage without greater nuance)—i need to do it. i want to play this one so bad.

caves of qud (steam)

okay [rolls up sleeves] this one has the potential to be the most Zach Is On His Bullshit if i can develop the legibility to understand how this game works.

i’ve enjoyed rogue-like games for years and i do enjoy a rich smattering of procedurally generated game worlds, but there’s always a breaking point for me with these that makes me feel like i don’t have the chops to engage with this genre, particularly when it strays closer to rogue than the genre of rogue-likes. i can only suspend my disbelief for the spiritually ASCII-ass games and the buckets of time they ask of you to engage with them on their terms, but then there’s caves of qud...

it’s the writing in this game that fascinates me so. while there’s still ample space for your own roleplaying, there is so much writing and intention in this world that i do feel like i could be dipping my toe into something more akin to traipsing through another dimension, rather than stumbling into a dank room with 50 chain-smoking monkeys at typewriters trying to bang out hamlet. it as though a computer read every sci-fi and fantasy paperback in goodwill and wrought them around some wicked algorithm that’s been caramelizing in acidic black magic. i want to sit inside the bowl with this soup.

trails in the sky: sc (steam)

this is here so that i might publicly shame myself.

i picked up trails to zero earlier in 2022 and was having a helluva time with it (it’s very, very good) and hit a critical plot point with characters from trails in the sky sc which i have still not finished, leaving me in the lurch for enjoying the Full Experience.

the fatigue of seeing the same world from fc, the game that precedes it, caused me to shelf it for a time and eventually… well, time makes fools of us all. i do enjoy this universe, i do love its writing. i will be hauling ass through sc and very likely playing it on the easiest settings because, while i love these games so, so much for their thoughtful writing and characterization, i am straight-up not wild about their combat systems in these early games. something about zero just clicks with me and i was really digging how stream-lined that combat was… alas. my albatross. i will finish sc this year. i think…

metroid prime trilogy (primehack/steam deck)

and finally… the first game i will likely be playing heading into 2023.

in 7th grade, [name redacted] told me that he would let me have both prime and echoes, that his dad “didn’t care” and that he would bring them “tomorrow.” this game of cat and mouse carried on for weeks in mr. [name redacted]’s wretched science class, and eventually i realized it was never going to happen. this was my experience with metroid prime, until i would get the flu my freshman year in high school and flash through metroid prime: hunters on the nintendo ds. i worshipped that game. it was the most spooky and violent game i had at that point in my life, and it burned itself into my inner skull-plates. i’ll always be bitter that we haven’t seen the long-rumored sylux-centered video game (maybe prime 4 will answer for this… best not to get my hopes up…).

years later, in college, a friend would get me a copy of trilogy for wii and i would start prime several times, enjoy it thoroughly, and realize i needed to be more melancholic to get into what this game was trying to embody—the loneliness of talon iv, a planet abandoned, and the silent bounty hunter collecting artifacts, trying to piece together what happened to this lost people… but i had a degree to earn, a world to conquer, and a girlfriend! so i shelved it.

now, i am lonely, i’m on a planet that’s trying to consume itself, gainfully employed in a system that is laying the foundation for its own destruction… it’s time for me to suit up. also, it’s been raining a lot, so that adds.

metroid prime 4, theoretically, is bound for release this year, so i would like to finally dig into what so many have said is a masterpiece (at least, the first one), and scope out a chill universe. as a writer, the subtle world-building that i’ve seen in these games has always been like catnip to me, so i would also like to spelunk this grave for my own frankensteinian creatures.

i will be playing it on my steam deck through the “prime hack” that modifies the games controls, amongst other quality-of-life improvements, which i can’t imagine being present or improved upon by any of the rumored metroid trilogy remasters that nintendo cobbles up prior to 4’s launch.

and with that… nice. i did a blog in 2023, so now i’ve hit my quota for the year!

in the course of writing this, i came up with a few other blogs that i’ve outlined and fleshed out a bit, so hopefully this means that i can at the very least post some of these the next time i get a day or two to myself in the hurly-burly of 2023.

*so much for simple...

well, until next time!

and... consider that the apple and the orange are the same.