Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: Pokemon With Orks, Super Mario: Odyssey & Morality

The year 2020 has barely started and it’s already going far too fast for my liking, whizzing past like it’s racing for the Formula 1 world championship against Lewis Hamilton. Just slow down and let me catch the hell up, would you, 2020? I’m still trying to figure out how I even survived to witness the start of another decade, so please calm down and let me figure all this out. Yeesh.

The start of the year is always a bit slow in terms of games and movies and stuff, so the only thing I published this year was my list of the best games of 2019. Go check it out if you have a minute, and let me know what games you feel were the cream of the crop during the end of the decade. Hopefully I’ll get more stuff posted soon, though, as I’m digging into what releases are coming up and deciding what to cover. Plus, I’m still working on a little piece about games I’d like to see get the remaster treatment.

I might still do a review of The Witcher series as well. Maybe. Eventually. I promise. Eh.

I’ve continued my one-man wrecking mission through Mordor in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. I blasted through the story in order to unlock the ability to Dominate Orks, essentially brain-washing them into fighting for me, and now the whole game is like a more demented, gory version of Pokémon as I hunt down the coolest Captains and War-chiefs to add to my personal army.

Much like in the last Weekend Whammy I continue to be impressed by the way the Nemesis manages to create interesting personalities from so few things for these Orks. From about fifteen hours of play I’ve come away with loads of different stories, from last-second saves by my Ork bodyguard to suddenly being ganged up on by an Ork foe’s blood brother and some other random Captain that just happened to be in the area. I’ve met an assassin who took offense at how I poisoned some grog, battled an Ork covered in spider webs, encountered bad guys who adapted to everything I threw at them and have had my ass kicked by a giant Uruk who likes to make clothing out of human skin.

I don’t know exactly why I’m so addicted to Shadow of War at the moment. I think there’s just something comfortable about its gameplay loop of interrogating an Ork in order to learn about a Captain or Warchief and then hunting the target down before killing them or recruiting them. And that’s literally all I’ve been doing, almost entirely ignoring the story and the challenge missions in favour of hunting down Ork after Ork, taking advantage of their weaknesses and playing around with the Nemesis system.

I’ve also been playing another game that features dominating other beings, but it’s far more horrifying than Shadow of War where you can at least excuse your brainwashing tactics due to being at war. But in Super Mario: Odyssey you toss a sentient hat onto the head of an enemy or random being and suddenly Mario’s entire physical body is somehow transported into the body of hapless foe, whereupon you are given full control. Am I the only way that finds this creepy? Like, the first time you do it Mario is sucked into some sort of mad tunnel that resembles the blood-curdling tunnel scene in the 1971 Charlie & The Chocolate Factory film.

Does Mario go through something like that every time? And what happens to the consciousness of the poor creature you inhabit? You just sidle up, kick them out of their own body via sentient hat and do whatever the hell you want with your new meat puppet! Mario might be bright and cheerful and full of adorable shit, but I’m telling you, this is some morally questionable stuff!

Obviously I’m just poking some fun at the game, although if you do actually stop and think about it all…yeah, it’s kinda messed up. Is Mario really the kind, happy plumber we all think he is? Or is he actually a sociopath who revels in terrorizing innocent creatures? Still, I’m having heaps of fun with Odyssey, which manages to capture the jolly fun of the 2D Mario games from my childhood and transfers it into a fully 3D platformer full of great gameplay design. By being able to control creatures and enemies the developers gave themselves heaps of freedom to introduce new gameplay twists on every new world that you visit, and I love it. My favourite so far has to be the stretchy caterpillar things that can elongate their body when you hold down a button, letting you reach distant platforms and items.

Honestly, because the start of the year is so slow I’m thinking about reviewing Odyssey. Obviously it came out a few years back, but like myself a lot of people probably bought a Switch Lite in 2019 and are now looking at a huge catalogue of Nintendo games that they’ve never experienced before. It could be fun to do some reviews from the perspective of a Nintendo noob playing on a Lite. What do you think?

And that’s all I’ve played over the last week. I’m trying to work my way through a bad case of analysis paralysis, a board game term where someone has too many choices and winds up unable to make a decision. There are a bunch of games I want to play for the first time or play again, but I can’t choose. It doesn’t help that a few of them are quite involved games, like Endless Legend, Civilization 6 or The Witcher 3. Maybe I should just write them all down on pieces of paper, chuck ’em in a hat and draw one at random?

Anyway, my friends, with that I shall leave you yet again. Until the next time, take care and play some awesome games.

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