Andre's Gaming Odds & Ends Returns
Issue #4: News & My Opinions, Game Hype Rankings: September/October, Games I'm Currently Playing, and Trailers. The Last of Us Show, Madden Ratings Hotline, Stadia Shutting Down, Mario Bros. Movie
Andre’s Gaming Odds & Ends Returns
I’m finally back with another issue of Andre’s Gaming Odds & Ends. The news that I selected below are stories and updates that I felt would work best for this return issue. I will pull other stories from earlier in the year that I missed that I want to give my opinion on in the next issue. I have a few others saved that will make it.
Don’t forget that anything bold and underlined is a clickable link.
News and My Opinions
HBO Releases “The Last of Us” Trailer
After watching this trailer of HBO’s The Last of Us, I’m extremely excited. I was very skeptical about how it would be presented visually, but the environments and buildings look very similar to the game. The survival atmosphere is captured very well in this trailer, especially the part with the clicker enemy in the shadows, as any small sound can alert it. That zombie-looking enemy that pops up briefly is what a clicker looks like, almost exactly like in the game! This releases in 2023. I can’t wait.
Google Stadia is Shutting Down
A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. And while Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.
We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023. We have more details for players on this process on our Help Center.
I never thought the Google Stadia was going to survive that long. First of all, the internet in the United States just isn’t good enough to provide lag free connections to stream games at high quality. Google Stadia was also competing with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, all companies far more experienced in delivering games. Also the Stadia didn’t have a great wide selection of games, although some games were being developed for exclusively for Stadia. Game variety is also a factor when buying a new service or console. I really felt like Google was just trying to dip into the gaming industry with minimal effort to gain some profit. It didn’t work out and who’s gonna feel sorry for Google? Nobody. At least they are giving full refunds.
Call the Madden Ratings Hotline to Complain About a Player’s Rating
This is a story from over the summer that I saved to talk about. A Madden hotline was created for gamers to complain about a player’s rating.
ESPN reported that on the first day the hotline fielded over 1,000 calls.
EA Sports said some people who call might be able to talk to one of the adjusters live, and if their arguments are valid and proven, there's a possibility that feedback could influence a shift in a player's rating.
I haven’t played a Madden game seriously in a very long time, mostly due to the poor reviews of the recent ones. I have a tough time believing that much thought is given to every player’s rating, as it’s probably automated in some way using a formula (I’m guessing). Complaints that compare one player to another will likely be the most effective, like “Why is Player X’s speed higher than Player Y’s speed?” I actually think this is more for publicity and I highly doubt EA will ever divulge whether a player’s complaint affected a rating.
First Teaser Trailer of The Super Mario Bros. Movie Released
This Super Mario Bros. Movie teaser trailer is just enough to get me excited, but also have minor concern about Chris Pratt’s Mario voice. The visuals are very appealing because it’s not too cartoony, as it can attract a much wider audience looking like this. Jack Black’s Bowser sounds very good here, and if I hadn’t already known that I wouldn’t have guessed it was him. This is only a small slice before it releases on April 7, 2023. I’m cautiously optimistic.
Andre’s Game Hype Rankings
I decided to include both September and October because I missed a bunch of months since April. You also get a better visualization of how the list evolves if you see two months at the same time. The next Gaming Odds & Ends issue in a few weeks will feature my November rankings.
Games REMOVED from My Rankings:
[REMINDER: All bold underlined headlines are links to their game pages.]
No updates from the Harold Halibut developers in the last year. I’m still looking forward to it, but I need to know the game is on the way for it to be in my rankings. I hope the game is not dead.
Hogwarts Legacy is high on my list, but since the release date is officially 2023 I’m shelving it until my December rankings.
Same reason as above. All 2023 release dates will start to be added in December.
Games ADDED to My Rankings:
Grounded is a game that was in beta for over a year. It’s clearly inspired by the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! It’s a fantastic concept for a game and everything I’ve seen (and now played) makes it a unique survival experience. The developer is Obsidian Entertainment, most known for Fallout: New Vegas (2010), so good quality was expected. What makes Grounded an even more impressive package of a game is the inclusion of multiplayer. Grounded is featured in my trailer impressions further down below, check it out.
God of War Ragnarök is the sequel to God of War (2018), a game that is highly regarded by gamers in recent years. I don’t consider it a “masterpiece” like others do, but the combat experience is what elevates the game to another level. As of early September. not much news was released about God of War Ragnarök, and this ranking of #5 for September is reflective of what I was feeling then. I expect the sequel to be better based on the story alone, and improve upon other flaws that I felt the first one had.
Serial Cleaners is on the list for concept and visuals, but I’m skeptical about the gameplay. Set in 1990s New York, your job is to clean up murder scenes for the mob by eluding police, moving dead bodies, and cleaning up blood evidence. The top-down isometric view allows a good view to see the police and elude them as they approach murder scenes, while also cleaning up evidence.
It pains me to put Gotham Knights this low at #7 because I really wanted to be more excited about this. Gotham Knights is another entry in the DC Gotham City universe that features Deathwing, Batgirl, Red Hood, and Robin after the death of Batman. This is an open-world RPG where you can switch between any of the four characters at anytime, and even better, it has multiplayer. No previous games in this style allowed multiplayer. The reason this is a bit low in my hype rankings is the gameplay. Everything about Gotham Knights seems very ordinary and somewhat bland, but I’m still very intrigued to play it for story purposes. The game also has characters not included in other games.
Sonic Frontiers at #8 is a game I’m hyped for on concept alone, but I fear disaster. Sonic The Hedgehog games don’t have a very good track record within the last 20 years, but Sonic Frontiers is a 3D open-world game that is trying to do something unique and a bit more modern. It’s really hard to gauge this game with everything I’ve seen, but seeing Sonic dash in open fields and avoid getting hit by huge bosses makes me want to root for this game to be good. This releases the day before God of War Ragnarök, making this a very curious and head-scratching choice for a release date.
Signalis is an indie survival horror game that just looks amazing with its visuals and sound. I’m generally not a player of survival horror games, which is why this is at #9, but I can’t deny the intrigue of this game. The one thing this game does is change the visual perspective to enhance the gameplay and storytelling. This is on Xbox Game Pass, so I may try it out to see how far I can go before I can’t handle it anymore.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will be the latest entry in the mainline Pokémon series. Although I currently don’t own a Nintendo Switch, I do keep an eye on what Nintendo is doing and this new Pokémon entry shakes things up a bit. It will allow multiplayer co-op, meaning friends can adventure and catch Pokémon together. This is a new open-world presentation for the mainline series that I think can be a big hit if done well. It’s also the kind of thing that can get me interested and wanting a Switch if the game pulls it off well. The last time I really played a mainline Pokémon game was over 20 years ago. If I did own a Switch, this would be near the top of my Game Hype Rankings.
Jack Move, Grounded, and Serial Cleaners were removed from the rankings because they released.
Games ADDED to My Rankings:
Vampire Survivors may be one of the most surprising games within the last year. This released as a beta in December 2021, and quickly proved to be an addicting and fun rogue-lite game. October 20, 2022 is the official release of version 1,0. Although it has very old pixel graphics, the gameplay has you choosing (and unlocking) characters with unique weapons and traits to defeat waves of enemies as your weapons automatically attack while you try to avoid getting hit by enemies. You collect experience pellets, level up, and evolve your weapon to try to survive the waves of enemies for 30 minutes. Using gold you accumulated, you buy permanent upgrades to help you for your next run. I generally have a policy of not discussing price in my reviews, but I will break that for this game. Vampire Survivors was released at a price of $2.99 and with version 1.0 it’s now $4.99. This is by far the best game value of the year in 2022 for a new game. I played a lot of it earlier in the year and I plan on playing it more periodically to reach new content.
The Case of the Golden Idol is an indie game that received minimal publicity until the last month or so. It’s a 2D point-and-click pixel detective game where you search crime scenes and collect words based on the scene to try to solve the case. The game has a collection of cases that vary in difficulty. I actually played the demo and that’s why I have this on my hype rankings. I will probably try to play the complete game before the end of the year. The demo is still available for free on Steam and has a bunch of cases to play. I recommend!
The Entropy Centre is a puzzle game that is clearly inspired by Portal and Portal 2. There are no portals in this game, but you use a special AI device that talks to you and can manipulate objects by rewinding time. For example, in the demo I played there was a collapsed scaffolding that I could use the device to rebuild the scaffolding. The more advanced feature is the ability to use the device to record the movement of an object you move and place, followed by rewinding the actions to solve a puzzle by aiming the device at the object. The demo is free and still available on Steam. I highly recommend it.
Games I’m Currently Playing:
A Plague Tale: Requiem (PC)
A Plague Tale: Requiem is the sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019). I really enjoyed the first one, so I am excited to play this sequel that just recently released. I’m still very early in the game, but I’m playing the PC version and the graphics are a stunning improvement from the first game. The gameplay, so far, is mostly the same with some changes to the weapons menu. If you’re afraid of nicely rendered plague rats then this isn’t the game for you. This is a very hard game to discuss without spoilers, but the pacing of the story is definitely different than the first game in the beginning. I’ve spent a lot of my time just admiring the environments. I aim to have the game finished within the next two weeks. You’ll get my review, of course.
Marvel SNAP (Android and PC)
The last few days I discovered that Marvel SNAP released to everyone. It’s a free Marvel card game developed by Hearthstone creator, Ben Brode. It’s currently available on mobile and in beta on Steam. You can sync your account between PC and mobile, so that has been a fun experience. The best thing about Marvel SNAP is that it’s simple and not pay-to-win. Although you can spend money, it’s for cosmetic purposes only for the cards. In this game you can get different variants of cards that only change and enhance the visuals of a card. The gameplay is different than other games, as it involves playing cards under locations in the middle of the board. The goal is to win two out of three locations in six turns. I will likely include a review of it next time once I’ve played more than a week of it, but so far I’m extremely impressed and don’t feel disadvantaged playing free.
Multiversus is a platform fighting game clearly inspired by Super Smash Bros. I’ve been playing a lot of it off and on. In the past couple months the game has added characters like Rick and Morty from the animated series Rick & Morty, Gizmo and Stripe from the movie Gremlins (1984), and today the game added Black Adam (DC superhero). The different variety of characters from DC Comics, Looney Tunes, and other properties makes this game fun and interesting. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is free-to-play. It’s still young and evolving with not all the features in yet. Arcade mode also arrives today, Can’t wait to play that! This is a fun game to play for an hour, then take a break and do something else.
Diablo II: Resurrected
Diablo II: Resurrected is a game I recently returned to because they updated the game and reset the ladder rankings. I stopped playing shortly after release in September 2021 because I just got bored and was playing other games. What pushed me to jump back in is they patched in game buffs for all the classes, plus they added new items in the endgame. I’m playing a druid character that can summon animals. Previously, a druid could only summon one type of creature, something that I found very annoying and made summoning druids hard to play. With the new patch, druids can summon every type of animal at once. I can have up to five ravens, eight wolves, and a giant bear all summoned at once. I only decided to return to play this kind of character again with the changes. I’m also playing on hardcore mode, so if I die I’m dead for good and lose all my items.
I am a bit surprised the developers made sweeping changes this quickly. I have mixed feelings about it because I wanted the original patch version to remain for longer so all new players can experience the game how most of us experienced it 20 years ago. All the new changes to Diablo II: Resurrected makes it feel like somewhat of a new game.
World Overview | Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet
Nintendo does a lot of weird things, makes weird decisions, but what they’ve managed to do a bit better than Microsoft and Sony is create solid game overview videos explaining their games. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet appears to be a very big open-world experience with player choice. Traditionally, the franchise games are very linear with a specific order to fight each gym boss. What gives this game even greater expectations is the online co-op with friends. If Nintendo can pull this off without any online hiccups I expect this game to be in rarified Pokémon air. Unfortunately, I don’t own a Nintendo Switch yet, but If I did, this would likely be my first re-entry back into the mainline Pokémon series.
Release Date: November 18, 2022 (Switch)
Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet Home Page
Grounded Official 1.0 Full Release Trailer
How great was this trailer? This trailer has a little bit of everything and you can see how well Obsidian Entertainment developed Grounded to rely on the perspective of being shrunk. You can see a glimpse of the base-building near the end, and you’ll be doing a lot of that to protect yourself from spiders and other enemies like ants. The spiders in Grounded can be very scary if they pop out out of nowhere, then you got to run for your life! I started a singleplayer playthrough that I will have to come back to later on. It’s much harder playing alone.
Release Date: September 27, 2022 (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Xbox Game Pass)
Grounded on Steam
God of War Ragnarök - Combat and Enemies Elevated
This is a very good presentation of some of the new combat techniques and enemies in God of War Ragnarök. The journey of Kratos and Atreus in God of War (2018) felt centered on Kratos doing most of the puzzle work and combat, so it’s good to see that part of the game expanded upon. The shield stuff they showed in this video is likely what I’ll be using, but everything also also looks good! This in-depth developer discussion was nice, as it’s always good to put faces of developers front and center. I’ll be playing God of War Ragnarök on Playstation 4 and you can expect my thoughts.
Release Date: November 9. 2022 (Playstation 4, Playstation 5)
God of War Ragnarök on the Playstation Store
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