Monthly Summary

Reviews of October (2018)

As candy and scares fade away into the auburns and later the greens and reds of the end of the year holidays, we know that 2018 is nearing its close. Whether the year has been kind to you or cruel, one thing is certain: TWRM is still here to pat your hand and coo in your ear in the form of games writing as self-indulgent and as intimate as you could ever stomach.

Turn the lights down low. Here is our summary for the month of October…

 

 

We picked up a couple new voices for our ever-expanding roster of mages, which may at some point dwarf the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, so I really want to lead with thanking our contributors for bringing their flavors to the TWRM October brew.

bluemoon The Blue Moon Mage (@wrystersview) set the tone for the month with her take on Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition. Though she had previously penned a pair of articles with us, this was Blue’s official debut review and it was some stellar, precise mage crit. She successfully broke down the highs and lows of a game that would normally appeal to a niche audience. It’s this kind of exemplary writing that makes games criticism more accessible to people beyond the most popular titles/dead horses.

This month, our pages were graced with not one, not two, but five new mages (and there are more on the way for DLC)!

inkstainedmage The first of these was our dear friend, the Ink-Stained Mage (@andrewturnwall), who has come all the way from a dusty library somewhere to deliver insightful mage crit for Celeste. Now, this is a game I’ve wanted to play for some time now, as I missed its release, and I’ve only really heard very positive things about it. After reading Ink-Stained’s review, I understand what makes the game great. I really love how the devs smartly brought thematic real-life material into the very structure of the game.

bizzaroforwebsite.png Our own Bizzaro Mage (@winstolf) returned in October from his odd worlds to talk about Valkyria Chronicles, in light of the recent launch of the 4th game in that series. This bit of mage crit takes the reader home to the origins of the series for one of the more loving games articles I’ve read. Bizzaro may look frightening in his purplish armor and zombie-colored pallor, but we know he has a tender heart. I know what it’s like to wax so analytical that it comes off as parched writing, but Bizzaro is a saint when it comes to lovingly crafted takes on games that are so evidently near and dear to his very soul. He also treated us to a horror game entry with his review of the classic Resident Evil 2!

ssmango The Smarmy Smango Mage (@kentuckynerd) may have a funny name but he bleeds red like the rest of us and he loves retro gaming like any red-blooded retro gamer does! His first contribution ever was a doozy as it involved playing through, yes, that is completing Super C for the NES! Hats off to you, sir. Smarms also went the extra mile and spent some time streaming the game, so check out his nostalgic review if you want to remember how awesome games are, even way back when.

cba1 The Middle-aged Horror Mage (@trashlevania) is our third new mage and a friend and mentor of mine, so I am absolutely jazzed beyond all possible jazz to have him aboard at last! It’s the equivalent for me of catching Mewtwo, y’all. Our Horror Mage debuted not with a horror game, but with a critique of Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country. He and I were possessed of wildly different impressions regarding Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (with Horror initially hating it then returning to it again later with great enjoyment and myself just hating it the whole time), but his review of the significant DLC story seemed to “fix” a lot of the tedium and bloat that I took issue with. This is an excellent prelude for things to come from the Middle-aged Horror Mage, who indulged in some spookiness with his list of favorite horror Let’s Plays, too.

keeper The Keeper of the Darkness Flame Mage (@KingOfDaMisFits) has triumphed the idiom “better late than never” when, after much time of busy-ness, he published his first review with us at last. His is a fair-minded approach to one of the more controversial games of our time. Okay, sure, nearly every big name game is released to the din of controversy online, but this is Mass Effect: Andromeda we’re talking about. Now, I didn’t play the game but even I caught wind of the furor. In revisiting the game, The KOTDF Mage hit up its high points, talked on its improvements since launch, and discussed some of its persistent flaws. All in all, this is a balanced piece of work!

coffeemage The Hyperactive Coffee Mage (@GameswCoffee) proves that research and a sensitivity toward history are essential for reviewing retro games with his mage crit for the 20th Anniversary Edition of Another World on Nintendo Switch. Intellectually honest, his critique examines the various animating processes used in developing the game, such as rotoscopery, and the niche category of early platforming games with extreme human-like motions. Fundamentally, our Coffee Mage arrived delightedly at the conclusion that Another World, this influential and haunting classic, is a game worth preserving and worth playing, and you can now for the first time ever all over again.

bookwarm Our fifth and final new mage this month is an enigmatic mime mage, or more importantly, an essayist of vast intelligence and literary insight. I’ve always been interested in championing smart writing here at TWRM and this is writing that is much smarter than I am, yet I learn from the Bookwarm Mage (@wesleyschantz) every time I read his work. From henceforth, publishing every weekend (ideally), we’re going to be hosting an essay on EarthBound which compares it to previous works of art, especially in the realm of literature. These are incredibly in-depth and unique written works, so I hope you steal the opportunity to consume these essays!

abxy1 Our musical overlord, the ABXY Mage (@ABXY_Reviews), brought forth a distinguished contribution this month with a new TWRM Radio entry: “Tanzen” a collection of waltz themes from video games! I highly enjoyed it and I love that ABXY stepped in to take on an episode of the Radio while I had an exceptionally busy month. But, as they say, that’s not all…

We were also treated to a special announcement… MAGE CAST is getting an expansion pack! That’s right, we are launching a second podcast! MAGE CAST: Side Quests will be available soon for your listening pleasure, a supplementary podcast with shorter, more manageable episodes on a variety of subjects featuring a variety of guests. We’re just about ready to record our first episode, but this is going to be helmed by the ABXY Mage himself. It was his brainchild! For my part, I am so thankful that people are bringing their own vision and passion to the table!

And oh yes, a new episode of MAGE CAST will be available tomorrow! Very soon, you’ll be able to listen to “It’s A Madhouse!”, a discussion on Arkham Asylum which I thoroughly enjoyed with the folks over at Opinioneering. This conversation got deeeeep. I can’t wait to share it with you in the morning (well, my morning at least).

Want some MAGE CAST right now? Don’t forget that “Do Reploids Dream of Electric Guitar?” is available practically everywhere where podcasts are enjoyed.

For some final clean up, I reviewed Mega Man 11, which I thoroughly enjoyed as a classic Blue Bomber fan, and on Halloween, I penned some mage crit of my own for Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday, maybe the least expected horror game to launch on October 31st.

I started and failed to complete Inktober, so I’ll have to return to that at some point. I got halfway!

The big event that threw me off my groove personally this month was my grandmother’s death. That was pretty hard to bear but I got through it with my family and friends. I really wanna thank everyone online for the outpouring of encouraging words and private messages I received. You are great!

You might notice some subtle facelifts here, too. I get itchy every few months to update the look of the site, make it more streamlined and authentic. Check out the new header on the home page featuring ALL the mages as well as the odd dialogue box inspired by Final Fantasy 1. I wanted to appeal more to that retro NES look which was our initial influence, as well as figure out a way to visually break up our posts with things like:

8bitreview

That’s the Game Boy font, by the way. I liked it.

Finally, there’s Patreon. We lost one of our patrons due to changing financial situations, which I completely understand. I am in one of those financial situations in flux right now! And I say “lost” but I don’t really mean that. The encouragement and motivation I received from this brave Warrior of Light supporting us through Patreon for the time that they could will never be forgotten, and I will ever try to convert that into pure fuel to make TWRM better than it ever could be, including weekly podcast episodes as soon as we reach our next goal on Patreon! More podcasts, paying writers, developing new ways to deliver content… you can help us reach these goals with your support, too!

As we approach Thanksgiving, my heart is overwhelmed by so many kind voices out there. Thank you for everything. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support.

Moses

SPECIAL THANKS to our Warriors of Light patrons, former and current!

 

Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!

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