What I'm Playing - No. 61
Image source: Amber Lamoreaux

What I'm Playing - No. 61

Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!

Be warned, minor spoilers may be contained within. Generally, I do try to keep things spoiler-free but this isn’t always possible/practical! If you want to totally avoid all potential spoilers so you can play these games yourself in a blind run, you shouldn’t continue reading! Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Picking up where I’d left off in Breath of the Wild last time, I’d just reached Zora’s Domain. So, the first thing I did this week was meet with King Dorephan of the Zoras. He asked Link to free the nearby Divine Beat, Vah Ruta, from Ganon’s control, to stop the endless torrent of rainfall plaguing the area. To aid in this endeavor, he gives Link the Zora Armor which allows you to swim up waterfalls!

meet with King Dorephan the Zora Armor

Soon after, I made my way to Vah Ruta. This was my first time seeing a Divine Beast, and it was an impressive sight! It’s a huge mechanical elephant sitting in the middle of a lake!

huge mechanical elephant sitting in the middle of a lake

This was my first experience with Breath of the Wild’s version of a traditional Zelda dungeon, and it was interesting. It definitely feels different from dungeons of previous Zelda games. It was a little shorter, and the puzzles had that unique Breath of the Wild feel. But, there were monsters to fight, treasure chests to open, a form of dungeon map, and a boss at the end, so it did have many of the Zelda dungeon staples. Most importantly though, it was fun! With the Divine Beast freed from Ganon’s control, the original pilot, the spirit of the Zora champion Mipha, took control again and moved Vah Ruta into position to help Link in his eventual battle against Calamity Ganon. That still feels like it’s a long way away though!

dungeon a boss at the end moved Vah Ruta into position to help Link in his eventual battle against Calamity Ganon

Coming off of that, I was feeling really pumped to pursue the next Divine Beast! Due to the sheer size of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild though, I quickly got distracted. There’s just so much to explore, it’s incredible. Eventually, my travels took me to the southwest, into the Gerudo Desert region. Here, I caught my first glimpse of a fully operational Guardian in the distance. Looking at it through my Scope was pretty intimidating even though I was so far away. I stayed well clear of it. Making a wide path around that Guardian, I entered Gerudo Desert and began making my way to Gerudo Town.

fully operational Guardian in the distance the city of the Gerudo

On my way there, I spotted another Divine Beast in the distance. It will no doubt be my next target, unless I find out I’m unprepared for it at this point in the game. When I reached the city gates, Link was naturally denied entry because all men are forbidden from entering the city. I even tried mounting a Sand Seal and using its fast momentum to rush past the city guards. It didn’t work. I love seeing the Gerudo in a Zelda game again, it really hits me in the Ocarina of Time nostalgia. Especially when there’s NPCs who mention how rare it is for a male to be born among the Gerudo.

Divine Beast all men are forbidden from entering the city how rare it is for a male to be born among the Gerudo

I haven’t made it into Gerudo Town yet since I got distracted by another Switch game this week (more on that later). Initially, Breath of the Wild didn’t give me that “Zelda” feeling, but after seeing Zoras and the Gerudo, and getting a little further in the main plot, it definitely gives me the same vibes as other Zelda games, despite its differences. This game has a lot of charm, and as always I’m looking forward to playing more!

lot of charm looking forward to playing more

Yoostar 2: In the Movies (Xbox 360)

After watching CallMeKevin play this on YouTube, PatronusLight and I thought it looked pretty funny so we bought it off eBay.

we bought it
Yoostar 2: In the Movies, the pinnacle of Kinect gaming

Yoostar 2 uses the Kinect to put you into famous movie scenes. It’s an interesting gimmick, but the jankiness of the experience and our own unfamiliarity with the included movie scenes are what make it hilarious. When you act out a scene, the camera on the Kinect records you, and attempts to cut out the background behind you and put just you into the movie scene. “Attempts” is the operative word here. The outline it cut around us was often very jagged, and it would frequently crop off half of our heads too. The game did warn us that the lighting wasn’t good where we have the our Xbox set up, so that might have affected the end results.

We’ve had many good laughs over putting ourselves in movie scenes though! Neither of us has seen many of the movies Yoostar 2 includes scenes from, so we’ve often missed or misread lines and had to stumble over words to catch back up, which is always entertaining!

Just like other Kinect games though, the Kinect controls can be pretty wonky! We’ve struggled to control the menus. You’re supposed to just move your hands and it will track them to let you hover over the menu options to pick them. The tracking is slow and jittery though, so navigating through the menus is pretty irritating.

I don’t have a way to share footage or screenshots from my Xbox 360, so I have no screenshots or anything to post here. Maybe it’s for the best though, since our performances would be a little embarrassing to share publicly!

Rune Factory 4 Special (Switch)

Rune Factory 4 originally released for 3DS in North America in 2013. Earlier this week, the enhanced port was released for Nintendo Switch in North America as Rune Factory 4 Special. I knew Rune Factory was a Story of Series (originally Harvest Moon) spin-off series, but had never played one myself. This port gave me an excellent chance to jump into the Rune Factory series, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far!

Rune Factory 4 Special jump into the Rune Factory series

Rune Factory 4 Special shares a lot in common with Stardew Valley, which makes sense as that game is a lot like Story of Seasons. Stardew Valley may have even been influenced by the Rune Factory series, as the first game came out in North America in 2007, long before Stardew Valley. It’s not derivative of Stardew Valley since it originally came out prior to it, but it really is like a high fantasy, anime Stardew Valley. Anyway, there are farming sim elements as well as RPG elements here, and also a ton of opportunities for crafting!

farming sim elements RPG elements crafting

Unlike the Story of Seasons series, there’s actually a main quest and plot here. After choosing whether to play as a male or female character (I chose the male character and named him Worm), you see your character flying on an airship. They’re carrying some sort of blue stone, but they’re attacked by strange figures on the ship. In the resulting chaos, they drop the blue stone overboard, and fall overboard themselves! Even though they fell from a great height, they’re somehow unharmed, though they do fall upon Ventuswill, a Native Dragon and guardian of the town of Selphia. As a result of the attack on the airship, the player character has lost their memory. Ventuswill tells them to start a new life in Selphia, and additionally allows them to live in the castle in Selphia, and makes them a prince. Quite a warm welcome! To be fair, I did cut a few steps out of the whole prince thing, because a few other things happen leading to that, but the end result is that the player character is given the responsibilities and powers of a prince in Selphia.

tells them to start a new life in Selphia Quite a warm welcome prince in Selphia

That’s the setup of the plot, and how the player character comes to live in Selphia. Advancing the plot generally consists of exploring one of the dungeons that exist outside of town, and fighting monsters within it. Naturally, each dungeon has a boss at the end of it too. What’s nice is you can pursue the plot at your own pace. I think there was one point early on where I had to advance the main plot, but after that you can basically do whatever you want with your time each day. I don’t think there’s any sort of time limit or anything. The plot advances at your own pace, which is really nice.

dungeons a boss

There’s also a large cast of characters living in town, with their own personalities, likes, and dislikes. The characters who are marriage candidates all get a short animated intro when you first meet them. Just like in Stardew Valley, you can give everyone a gift each day to raise your relationship with them. One thing Stardew Valley does better though is that it shows you in the pause menu whether you’ve given someone a gift or not that day. Rune Factory 4 doesn’t do anything like that, but it’s not too difficult to remember whether I’ve given someone a gift yet in a given day.

marriage candidates short animated intro a gift

Another notable feature is befriending monsters by giving them gifts and having them live in a Monster Barn. This is an interesting replacement for the usual livestock mechanics of Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley. Once your monsters have grown friendly enough toward you, you can even have them help you with fieldwork, and they’ll water your crops for you each morning. Growing and harvesting crops is addicting, and there’s so many things to do and skills to raise. In my eyes, this is like the classic Story of Seasons formula perfected, with monsters and magic added into the mix, and I love it! I could ramble on more and more about this game, but I think I’ll cut myself off here. I’m sure I’ll be playing Rune Factory 4 Special in the weeks to come, and hopefully I’ll be able to put more coherent thoughts together to analyze it in future posts instead of just fanboying over it!

befriending monsters water your crops for you each morning harvesting crops

Ben

(bsinky)
Ben
The self-proclaimed "Guy with the Backlog", as of this writing his Steam backlog is slowly growing to the point of consuming him. Meanwhile, he spends most of his time trying to catch up on the retro classics he missed, as well as replaying the games he grew up with.

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