Monthly Summary

Reviews of February (2018): the Compendium

Some call the second month of the year “the month of love”. I call it “February”.

We did see a lot of love in February, though! A major project finally came to fruition (a little tardy but better late than never), a new series was born on YouTube, a weekly column hit full steam, a historical project about 2D games in a 3D world found its footing, we asked a big, cultural question, TWRM turned 2, and as ever there were more reviews than you could shake a stick at. Provided that stick is non-existent, of course, since the free agents that you are always have the choice to shake sticks at whatever you like.



As always, I have the pleasure of talking up contributors’ work first.

ff3-nes-sage2 BBMage mystic_knight1 finalfourteenthmage The great academic himself, the Evergreen Sage Mage (aka Wakalapi) cracked open the month with his exemplary analysis of Slay the Spire, an Early Access card game video game that’s become quite popular among vidsters. That was followed up with the debut review of the Badly Backlogged Mage (aka Mr. Backlog), who wrote his introductory piece some time ago and finally found it brought to light in our Final Fantasy project. His is a review of the original Final Fantasy and it’s worth reading to cure several misconceptions about the NES classic. The Final Station is a horrific train ride slash survival game slash pixel art indie gem reviewed by the Midnight Mystic Mage (aka Sublime Reviews). I must also congratulate him for reaching his 1 year anniversary as a contributor at TWRM! Smashing! Speaking of, the Final Fourteenth Mage (aka Cillah) closed out contributor reviews for the month with her breakdown of a recent smash hit on Steam: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart. Shoot space monsters with the power of love (cue the Back to the Future soundtrack).

InfernalMage The Infernal Accountant Mage’s (of Popzara) column is chugging along at a streamlined, weekly pace and it adds a consistent and personal touch to TWRM. Accounting the Years covered years 1987 through 1990 in February, its author sharing some heartwarming memories and some very real looks at the state of gaming culture. It’s a reflective set of articles I hope you enjoy.

But that’s not all…



One of the largest, if not the largest, writing projects I’ve ever helped head up was Final Fantasy: A Crystal Compendium. This massive project, which was several months in the making, brought together over two dozen writers from around the world to share their thoughts on nearly every Final Fantasy game ever made, spin-offs included. I myself am still reading through the collection of articles at a snail’s pace but I will persevere! You can find links to all the articles at the hub.

One of my favorite things about this project was building new relationships with writers and getting to hear about games that are familiar and beloved to me from new angles with new sets of memories. Thanks again to everyone who participated.


HandheldMage1 The Hopeful Handheld Mage appears! The FF Project was not the only inter-blog collaboration in February! TWRM joined forces with Retro Redress to talk about something on everybody’s hearts in 2018. Yes, specifically which 2D franchises never made the jump into 3D. So far as I know, it’s the only listicle of its kind with the express purpose of naming game series that died when the 3D era cameth. “The Great 3D Slaughter” is available for your historical retro gaming education.


Have you ever joined in singing “Happy Birthday” when people are singing it to you? Yeah, it feels kind of awkward, right? Well I had that nebulous sensation when I helped put together this post commemorating TWRM entering Year 3 (we turned 2!). Some of the mages were awesome enough to put together a few testimonials about what it’s like to write with us and be a part of this growing community. I fully acknowledge that the site TWRM has become much more than my personality, so check out their very kind words and be warmed that there are people who really care about the value of community.


Oh hey, so video games are in the news… That’s almost never a good thing. The old dragon has reared its ugly head: “Video games lead to violence”. We’ve heard this before several times and while the current climate of social issues and politics is hotter than ever, and indeed TWRM has received positive feedback for not being overtly political or constantly politicizing, I decided to weigh in on the debate myself and invite others to do the same with our sixth Big Question. Why? Because there’s value in practicing discussing controversial subjects without devolving into screaming and defamation. If we can have a conversation about subjects we have strong opinions about then that’s at least one less barrier preventing all of us from coming together as one people and solving our problems. I believe that wholeheartedly.


TWRM encroached upon YouTube on January 1st and we’re slowly but surely growing, now at 120-ish subscribers! I’m delighted to announce something new on that new channel, too. I love video game music. It’s part of why I taught myself to play piano, guitar, and ukulele (please pronounce it as “oo-koo-lay-lay”). I listen to music from games in several different playlists when I work, do chores, commute, jog, and sometimes when I write. So in that spirit we put together the new TWRM Radio!

TWRM Radio is a growing collection of YouTube videos designed for music appreciation and specific tasks like going to the gym or studying, and they’ll be available for as long as YouTube keeps them up. So far, there’s a collection of sky themes called Aether, epic fight themes called Boss, and lost woods themes called Sylvan. Enjoy!


In February we picked up our 13th Warrior of Light over at Patreon. Luck number! Super thanks goes to our patrons for supporting TWRM as we continue to grow. I’ve made it my goal here since day one to put out as much content as I can with increasing quality, and the adobe programs are not cheap so thank you! The more I learn, the more I can do but having these tools is crucial! You too, reader, can support this haven of conversation, this alternative to mainstream games journalism, this growing brand by checking out more info at Patreon. This month saw a blogging tips article on the differences between retro game analysis and new release coverage and understanding your audience over time, and there are also weekly updates, access to our super secret Discord Mage Chat, and a short story written by yours truly. I’ve got to figure out how to present my novella sometime, too.

In closing, my sole recommendation to you this month is that you play Shadow of the Colossus on PS4, ESPECIALLY if you have never played any version of that game. It received the third ever perfect score from me, which I will make into a hill to die on.

If there’s one thing I am increasingly aware of, it’s that there are too many things to write about and too little time. I wish I just had more time!

In your service,
-The Well-Red Mage


Ranked from best to worst:

Shadow of the Colossus (2018) [PS4]  10.0

Slay the Spire (2017) [Early Access]  7.9

SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (2018) [Nintendo Switch]  7.5

the Final Station (2016)  6.8

Final Fantasy (1987)  6.1

The Void Rains Upon Her Heart (2018)  5.8


Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a community of authors with paid contributors, a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing! See our Patreon page for more info!



20 replies »

  1. I have no problem with people like Athena writing well researched articles about the potential connections between video games and violence, because that’s not attempting to once more scapegoat the medium. She also ties it together with violence *across* medium spectra, because it’s not just a “Play this game, burn down a city!” (Because OBVIOUSLY after seeing my idol do that, I’d be on it like salt on a peanut *eye roll*). It’s a purely putrid political ploy to cast the blame for a problem someplace else.

    On happier tides, I was so honored to be a part of the Crystal Compendium ♥♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    It was a very busy month of February over at The Well-Red Mage. TWRM Radio on YouTube, the Final Fantasy Crystal Compendium covering nearly all the FF games, & I was lucky enough to have my review of The Final Station on the list as well. Go and see what all the blog has to offer from a huge month!

    Liked by 1 person

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