WEEK IN GEEK: A lot of video games were played this week, some new, some old. Andrew plays the new hotness that is Cellar Door Games’ Rogue Legacy 2 and finds it engrossing. D. Bethel plays two video games, first working his way through the Metroidvania classic, Ori and the Blind Forest, and the new arcade beat ’em up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
“Super Sleep Mode” (28 November 2014): Where Andrew first discusses his time with the first Rogue Legacy.
“With Space Hands” (12 June 2015): Where D. Bethel talks about his time with Rogue Legacy.
“The Game of Life” (23 February 2018): Where Andrew talks about the ins and outs of Cellar Door Game’s follow-up to Rogue Legacy, Full Metal Furies.
“Baguettevania” (24 August 2018): Where D. Bethel talks about a recent popular rogue-like, Motion Twin’s Dead Cells.
“Scumbag Removal” (16 April 2021): Where Andrew talks about the unique rogue-like, Four Quarters’ Loop Hero.
A MISERABLE PILE OF SECRETS: Our hosts spend a bit of time reminiscing on the 25th anniversary of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night––the video game that put the “-vania” in “Metroidvania.”
WEEK IN GEEK: After a week off, our hosts have been busy being nerdy! Andrew finally caught up with all the Spider-Man movies while D. Bethel dipped another toe into deck-building video games with the very popular Slay the Spire, developed by MegaCrit.
“Nerd Business” (31 July 2014): Where Andrew and D. Bethel first discuss Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as a game that matters.
“Trusty Rusty” (10 August 2018): Where Andrew talks about the video deck-building game adapted from a physical one, One Deck Dungeon.
“We Still Don’t Know $#!&” (31 May 2019): On the show’s fifth anniversary, our hosts discuss the prevalence of “RPG elements” throughout, basically, all video games at this point.
“Good Gamefeel” (28 June 2019): Where our hosts discuss the first non-Castlevania Metroidvania game developed by the adopted father of the series––Koji “Iga” Igarashi––Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
“Reliable Virtual Helmets” (27 September 2019): Where D. Bethel plays his first real roguelike deck-building game, Meteorfall: Journey.
“Smell the Duke” (04 February 2022): Where D. Bethel plays a bit of the clever deck-building game, Griftlands.
“Bigger Than the Batman” (11 March 2022): Where D. Bethel talks about the indie game currently on his docket, A Plague Tale: Innocence.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew continues to get excited by recent Star Trek offerings, specifically the conclusion of season 2 of Star Trek: The Lower Decks and the premiere of the Paramount+/Nickelodeon joint, Star Trek: Prodigy. D. Bethel finally offers his thoughts on Metroid: Dread (aka Metroid 5) after completing it, uh, three times.
“I Am the State” (26 February 2021): Where D. Bethel rants about Nintendo not respecting Metroid on its 35th anniversary.
“Butt Magic” (16 October 2021): Where Andrew discusses the first season of the animated comedy, Star Trek: The Lower Decks.
BETTER DREAD THAN DEAD: D. Bethel shares some initial thoughts on the newest 2D Metroid game, Metroid 5 aka Metroid Dread.
EMULATE YOU WANT IT, THAT’S THE WAY YOU NEED IT:Kotaku got in a bit of heat when they reported a story about how people were able to get Metroid Dread up and running on emulators in a smooth 60 frames per second at 4K resolution. The problem is that, in the original story, readers felt that Kotaku was, in fact, recommending people pirate Dread instead of buying it because of the emulator’s stronger performance. This lead to another round of discussion about emulation, piracy, and game preservation. Andrew and D. Bethel do their best to weigh in on these issues.
LOST IN ZEBES: With a lot of internet chatter focusing on the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda‘s 1986 release, it made D. Bethel upset because another major Nintendo franchise was also released that year that nobody––much less Nintendo itself––seems that interested in celebrating, the weird, wonderful Metroid. D. Bethel talks with Andrew to see why this game and the series it spawned never gained the legs and legacy of Nintendo’s bigger franchises.
2020 was a year that upended all expectations. Though the threats that 2020 brought affected people in a variety of ways, for most it became a year of simple survival. For nerds, of course, we turn to the things that occupy our attention, inspire our imagination, or generate conversation. This year, we are looking at the things that helped us survive 2020. Today, co-host D. Bethel shares what kept him inspired throughout the year.
2020 became a year of self-reflection for most people; for creatives, it became a challenge to find inspiration in new places and ways. Working from home proved to be incredibly difficult when, all of a sudden, my creative, personal space became my classroom. Teaching, planning, and grading at my computer all day made it difficult to walk the two feet to my drawing table and work for another handful of hours on a Long John page. To that end, of all the things to provide inspiration, the sweet and sentimental video game, Spiritfarer, hit hard and unexpectedly.
On its own, Thunder Lotus’ newest game, Spiritfarer isn’t particularly notable. Yes, it looks very nice and the systems and loops are fun to juggle and the writing is top-notch. But it’s not revolutionary, at least not on its own. It’s just a good game. Honestly, that’s enough.
Spiritfarer is a management sim; playing as Stella, you takes over the role of spiritfarer––shepherding souls from death to the afterlife––from a retiring Charon. The majority of the game takes place on your boat that houses the spirits found along the way. During their tenancy, you talk to them, learn their stories, and help them get past whatever psychology holds them back from accepting their deaths. Once they have a moment of clarity, you take them to the “Everdoor” which sends them to their eternal home. For each spirit you recruit––taking the form of a different anthropomorphized animal––you do small quests to help brighten their moods. To do that, you grow crops, cook food, take them to specific locations, or harvest materials they want. With so many different spirits on your boat, your job is to keep all of these plates spinning while also maintaining your boat.
The thing about this game is not what it is, specifically, although––as I said––it’s very good. Instead, it’s about what it represents and what came before. Spiritfarer‘s Canadian developer, Thunder Lotus, is renowned for their amazing art and animation; what they can’t be accused of, however, is being stuck in a rut. Their previous game, Sundered, is a procedurally-generated Metroidvania. Before that, their first game, Jøtun, is an isometric 2D-Zelda-like that had you battling giant bosses to get into Valhalla (I played bothgames on the Dan & Rusty Video Game Power Hour years ago).
Every game differs wildly from the last, with the quality of art and music being the only link between them. This also makes them unpredictable, but not in a worrying, nervous way. There is no doubt that their next game will be beautiful and good, even if I have no idea what kind of game it will be, and that’s what I found so comforting about this game in a year like 2020.
While Spiritfarer is wonderful, I find its success validating for the mercurial ethos of Thunder Lotus Games, and for me. Though I’m slow with the output for my western webcomic, Long John, I also know it’s not the only story I want to tell. Seeing Thunder Lotus not only bounce between genres and styles without a care but to also be successful (in terms of execution) with every game they make shows me that a similar desire to bounce around with my own creative endeavors is not only possible but can absolutely work when done with integrity, thoughtful intent, and earnest excitement. Those qualities seep through Spiritfarer on every level (pardon the pun), and they were more than welcome in a year like 2020.
A RITUAL CIRCLE OF ARIAS OF THE NIGHT MOON: Mentioned last week, both Andrew and D. Bethel have put some time into the newest Igavania game––meaning a Metroidvania game specifically made by Koji Igarashi––Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and they are enjoying the presence of both nostalgic throwback and interesting choices that move the genre forward.
WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew and D. finally return to video games for their Weeks in Geek. Andrew gets lost (in a good way) playing Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment while D. Bethel explores the mysterious labyrinthine world found in Team Cherry‘s Hollow Knight.
Part 1 of D. Bethel’s playthrough of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon:
WEEK IN GEEK: It’s an indie game kind of week as Andrew reports on the Zelda-like shop sim, Moonlighter, by Digital Sun while D. Bethel starts a conversation about everybody’s current favorite rogue-like platformer (kind of a Metroidvania, kind of not; definitely not a “roguevania”), Dead Cells, by Motion Twin.