Specifically, “Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes”, a 2006 cartoon that ran 26 episodes, features a mix of 2D animation and CGI, with heavy anime influence on the character designs that oh also is very bad.
We all did some weird shit during First Quarantine. I could have made myself a sourdough starter like everyone else, but no. I decided that I’d watch all the Marvel cartoons on Disney+ in chronological order. Why ? No idea. How? Somewhat organically - if I was into it I’d watch it faster and if I wasn’t into it I’d bog down and wait until I was bored or making myself push through.
Since I started, I’ve gotten from 1979 to 2006, and I have 28 titles to go. I most recently finished the 2006 Fantastic Four, which’ll get it’s own post, but here’s a quick summary of what else I’ve watched so far:
With the pandemic in pause mode for a bit longer here in Minnesota, all my rowdy vaxxed friends come by every few weeks or so for some in-person local multiplayer. And so the Local Multiplayer section of Game Pass was thoroughly explored, with mixed results.
In 2003, Insomniac Games did something that would affect my gaming life for two decades.
I’d played and really liked the original Ratchet And Clank for PS2, but in 2003 they released the sequel, Going Commando. Going Commando introduced light RPG elements to the game series. Killing enemies earned you experience, experience earned you levels, levels earned you health. But most importantly, if you ran either a battle or a platforming section of the game and died, for whatever reason, the XP you earned was still earned when you popped back to your checkpoint.
While I wait two more days to pick up my XBox Series X, I’ve been playing games on XCloud, Microsoft’s streaming service, currently in beta form on devices and browsers I own.
How is it? It’s… fine? It’s useful and functional, but not spectacular.
For reference, I’m running it in Safari, on a 2020 Macbook Pro, on a 24” LG 4K monitor, with my less-than-completely-reliable Xfinity internet connection, all wired. And it works like 95% of the time.
About once every couple minutes, it stutters for like 5-10 seconds, then it catches up and is fine for another few minutes Maybe it’s my internet, maybe it’s them, no way to know.. I also don’t know what resolution it’s running at because as far as I can tell it refuses to say. I know it’s not HDR, though. But it’s fine.
Control-wise, it works great with a spare PS4 controller connected to the Macbook. Reasonably stable, though I did run into a bug where the slot machines in Yakuza: Like A Dragon refuse to load, period.
Is it an ideal way to game? Nope. But at least, unlike Google Stadia, Microsoft is pitching XCloud properly - as a backup / alternative to play a subset of your XBox Game Pass games when you can’t play them as intended.
I’m told, and will confirm soon, that game progress is shared between the streamed and installed version of the game, so as long as the game experience isn’t too dependent on resolution or a rock-solid constant frame rate, you can pop back and forth as your schedule/household permits and squeeze a bit more game time into a busy lifestyle, and if you identify with the name of this place, you know exactly how worthwhile that is.
So, yeah, I ordered an XBox Series X.
Why? Mostly for another post, after it arrives on Thursday. But one big reason is XBox Game Pass, their subscription game service which I was able to score a couple years ago at a significant (legitimate) discount. And so I’m trying out games. Mostly games I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like but were worth making sure of for free. For example:
I loved Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Played the hell out of it on the PS2. As a general rule, I’m a big fan of top-down ARPG’s that aren’t Diablo. I don’t hate Diablo per se. I’ve fucked with it on and off and got a not insignificant way through the third one on… PS4? PS3? Whichever PS it dropped on. But Diablo is too grindy for my tastes. I like my top-down ARPG’s structured with a definitive start and end point, where I end up with most of the skills I want and the stats I need and the equipment I need by the time I hit the final boss, and there’s no going back and running chunks of the game to try and get three more points worth of a bracer.
The new Dark Alliance isn’t a top-down APRG. It’s a third person ARPG chock full of the bog standard structures and textures of every mediocre third person game of the past two console generations. The combat is plodding for a third person action game and sloppy for a proper RPG, and at one point I was able to stand on a ledge and chuck ranged attacks at enemies with any of the combat. who never took notice that I was doing so until they diesd. And that was th emost fun I had with any of the combat. Weirdly there appears to be no magic using characters.
A hand-drawn animated beat em up based on the “classic” franchise. It would be fine except for three things. First, the stretch and squash animation is so extremely stretchy and squashy that it’s confusing. Second, I already own Streets of Rage 4 on PS4, and if I didn’t, Streets of Rage 4 is on Game Pass and it’s better in every possible way. ANd third, IT THINKS IT’S FUNNY.
THE BARD’S TALE IV: DIREDCTOR’S CUT
The Bard’s Tale started back in my youth as a series of turn-based RPG’s with a tiny first-person grid-based view of the world. It was rebooted in my 30’s as a top-down wacky ARPG. And now, in my 50’s, it’s… Skyrim only everyone around you is a RenFest singer. Serious brown overload in the textures. Passed quickly.
NO MAN’S SKY
Look, I’m ineffably happy for you Minecrafty, Don’t Starvey types who think that a game that isn’t even trying to conceal that it’s a fake second job is massively entertaining. But literally seconds after booting up, No Man’s Sky asked me to collect 75 Space Dusts by smasing space rocks so I could fix my arbitrarily broken Space Scanner and when a game tells you what it is, believe it. I cannot believe I spent two years almost buying this game every single time it got an upgrade, went on sale, or both.