Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Final Numbers for 2019

It's the end of another year, so I thought I'd make this an annual thing by sharing the numbers as we count down to midnight!

It's been another great year, and I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress into the new year! Here are the numbers for the last 365 days:

Those are some great numbers! Despite those numbers, I have plans to reshape my gaming blog to better reflect why I write about games. Extra Life is why I started it, but it isn't the only reason why I continue to fill it with content. I hope to make Gamer Reverie into its own identity in the coming year, with its own voice and defined objectives. And reader rewards. Don't let me forget about those, would you?

Thank you to the donors, friends, supporters, fans, communities, families and random gamers who (un)knowingly helped make 2019 another great year. I wish you all the best in the coming year, and I hope you'll continue this journey with me as Gamer Reverie transitions into something new for the coming decade.

Screenshot Details: Aarawynn (Arkenstone) of Legacy of Narsilion, toasting gleefully alongside the Thirsty Patron and her Present-Bearing Pet Pony in Winterhome, Frostbluff. Lord of the Rings Online.

The Marathon Day Recap: 2019 Edition

For my 7th year of Extra Life, I played 18 games across 4 platforms over the course of 25 hours and raised $450 to surpass my goal of $1,000. This is how it happened!

Saturday, November 2, 2019
7:30 AM

My alarm goes off at my usual wake-up time for the marathon, and I promptly go feed myself some breakfast Hot Pockets and a cup of vanilla cappuccino (not the best when you struggle with your A1C, but at least not as bad as the Vanilla Doubleshots of previous years!). I anticipate Discord being a little quiet this year, and decide to focus more on Twitter. For that reason, there's a noted lack of commentary in this recap -- no apologies, because it was still a great experience!

8:00 AM


Expectations: It's a Double Fine game, so there's going to be plenty of cheeky humor, and it's done with cute nesting dolls to solve puzzles. Should be pretty good, amirite?

Reality: Pretty much what I expected. This is a very tongue-in-cheek puzzle game where you play as the tiniest of nesting dolls and are tasked with using layers of bigger dolls to solve puzzles or access places you normally couldn't. There are achievements for discovering all the hidden stuff and finishing collections of dolls, so this is a game to keep you busy for a while. I certainly had no problem playing for a full hour to start off the marathon!

9:00 AM

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf

Expectations: No expectations, really. This game came to me through a Humble Bundle, I think. In any case, it's a deck-building game with a story.

Reality: This was both better and worse than I expected. I was enjoying the story as I progressed across the map, but I was frustrated with my card limitations. I kept failing to defeat the Necromancer and it took a while to figure out why. I'd missed one small step and was murderized for it. Even so, this is a nice little deck-building game and there are some nice options for how you build it and utilize your cards. Worth investing in.

11:00 AM

Guacamelee! One-Two Punch (Nintendo Switch)

Expectations: I played the first Guacamelee title for the 2014 Extra Life marathon and surprised myself at being fairly good at it. It was silly and fun and I found the story quite compelling.

Reality: I had to buy the double set for the Switch so I could play with my husband. We were going to play the 2nd game since I had already played the 1st before, but it turned out to be easier to get a second player going by playing the first game. It's just as silly and crazy as I remembered, and I had twice as much fun playing it with my husband. It's definitely well-suited to being played on console. No screenshots to share because this was played on the Switch. (We were too busy having fun to take pictures anyway!)

12:00 PM

I Am Bread

Expectations: I expected the difficulty to be somewhere between Probably Archery and Goat Simulator, and just as silly as both.

Reality: Not disappointed. I should have spent more time practicing how to move in the tutorial, however. It was HARD making it across the kitchen to become toast! I don't see myself finishing the game, but it was good for passing time. I think I'd still rather be a goat.

1:00 PM

Trials of Harmony ~ Experimental Visual Novel

Expectations: This was a random find when I went looking for a 2019 released game to add to the marathon schedule. It sounded unique enough to spend a little money on. I'm not usually big on visual novels, but when it's presented in a unique way -- only from a cell phone -- and adds a lot of mystery to figure out, then you've got something I want to experience.

Reality: I was interrupted several times while playing this, but it was an incredible experience. If you enjoy mystery, and reading text, then you'll like this game. There are visual elements that help you identify who's talking and moods, and I fully intend to finish at some point and find out what was really going on! I should add that playing with a headset is a must, also.

3:00 PM

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)

Expectations: I've played this game many times before. This game was selected from my pile of 3DS titles by my mother-in-law. It's a rhythm game. It's Final Fantasy. It's good.

Reality: I tried some harder difficulties than I previously had, to make it more of a challenge. Boy, was that a mistake! I guess I probably should've warmed up and refreshed my memory first. But playing this game on my 3DS made it easy to sip on my GFuel (not a sponsor -- but wish they were!). No screenshots for this game, because 3DS. The last song I played through was really tough!

4:00 PM

Starchaser: Priestess of the Night Sky

Expectations: Cutesy, anime-styled puzzle solving without the limitations of gravity or physics.

Reality: Plain puzzle solving which boiled down more to platform skill rather than actually solving puzzles. Launcher was buggy. Not a friendly experience for English-speaking users. I was disappointed, and glad I only spent a dollar or two on the game during a sale. No screenshots because I was that upset about the game being a dud.

5:00 PM

Code Vein (PlayStation 4)

Expectations: I had played the demo, watched my husband play the demo, and watched him play through the beginning of the rest of the game also. I knew I was going to have to play smart because enemies could easily overwhelm.

Reality: I had a better time playing this time around vs. the demo because I'd already played it before. I had a better idea of what to expect and how to best play out certain parts. I also spent a good chunk of time making the perfect avatar in the character creation. That is, after all, half of the appeal here. Make your ideal anime character who also happens to be a badass. Still don't really follow the game's story, though. It's a little... weird. Basically, humans are endangered species. Most people are revenants (i.e. vampires) who need blood, but most of them are trapped in this weird barrier, in the ruins of a city. The only thing that sustains them are these "blood beads" that grow from weird glowy trees, but the trees are drying up. And also every time a revenant "dies," they come back having forgotten more about who they used to be until there's nothing left. Sounds great, right? There's also this miasma that can't be breathed in, or the revenants become lost and turn into monsters that can't be saved -- just slaughtered. That's where the badassery comes in. Anyway, I may or may not return to it at some point!

At this point, I had raised my goal of $1,000! With plenty of marathon time left, it was really just a matter of aiming for the $1,200 stretch goal...

7:00 PM


Expectations: Some kind of weird cross between Binding of Isaac and A Wizard's Lizard. (I don't have much experience with procedural stuff.)

Reality: Expectations met, and then there was a bit of playing The Price is Right when managing the shop during the day. Basically, you're young and dumb and determined to go into the ruins to get treasures to sell to sustain your shop. It's pretty, it's fast-paced, and you definitely have to have some planning and tactics to gather the right things and sell the right stuff for the right prices to make a profit and progress.

8:00 PM

Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Nintendo Switch)

Expectations: I'd only seen my husband play a smattering of this game, but I knew people really liked the Fire Emblem games. This was his choice for me to play during the marathon.

Reality: Wow! While I didn't like the lack of customization, I liked the story overall. I didn't play far enough to understand why my seemingly inexperienced character would be hired to be a teacher for others their age and slightly younger, but... whatever! I played far enough to have selected the Blue Lions student house to be head of, and was just starting to learn the personalities and strengths of the individuals in it. Dimitri seemed to be the strongest option of the 3 house leaders, though I was (as my husband expected) amused by the quips from Golden Deer's leader, Claude. (Where was this Golden Deer group back when I was doing the Team Mascots, anyway?!) I'll definitely be playing more when given the opportunity. No screenshots, because Switch.

9:00 PM

Little Nightmares

Expectations: A creepy game where you are a child that has to avoid scary monsters that want to eat you, and lots of uncertain darkness.

Reality: An intensely creepy game with a lot more darkness than I anticipated. I only managed 20 minutes of gameplay because my little kid avatar had to sneak through a room where I could see a chair and feet dangling (someone hung themselves). I can handle pretty intense things, but that wasn't something I really wanted to wreak havoc with my imagination just before getting into the long night stretch of the marathon.

After only 20 minutes of this game, I moved on to the next with the expectation that I would just play later games for longer to make up for the time.

9:30 PM

The Last Tinker: City of Colors

Expectations: Colorful, action adventure puzzle game. Something something colors being divisive. I dunno. Looked like fun, so I bought it. I scheduled it after the dark little horror game because I expected to need a pick-me-up -- thanks, Past Self! You were right!

Reality: I actually didn't get to start on this one until nearly 10 PM because I had trouble configuring a controller to work with it -- and it's NECESSARY to play the game. As for the game itself, it's another one of those where you don't hear real dialogue, just gobbledy-gook in different pitches that are supposed to represent the different characters -- so get ready to read. Despite that, and despite the controller frustration, this was a really fun game to play. The graphics are vibrant and their stylization is unique. Oh, and that big race you struggle to get to? The antagonist is going to cheat and you're going to lose no matter what you do, so don't sweat it. Oh, and that might have just made things worse between the different color-obsessed city districts. Have fun with that.

12:00 AM

Darksiders III (PlayStation 4)

Expectations: I had fairly low expectations of this title even though I'm a fan of the Darksiders series. I hadn't heard very good reviews, but... of course I was gonna play it. My husband is awesome and knows me very well -- he nabbed this game when it was available through PlayStation Plus, knowing I would want it. Yay for husbands!

Reality: I enjoyed the game more than I expected to. It felt easier to play, somehow, but that may have only been because I played the first two games on PC and for this one I had a controller in my hand. But the story was also rather compelling, too, and I didn't anticipate that. It picks up after the first two horsemen have made a mess and been blamed. But it seems that the third doesn't really care about the other two -- or does she? It's hard to tell, because the Council has sent a nanny along with the third to make sure things go the way they want. My only complaint would be that I got lost trying to figure out where I had to go once I arrived in the big tree. I'll need to reference a map to find my way again and keep playing! No screenshots because it was super late and I'm not sure I want to dive back into the game right now just to show you where I got lost... *fumbles for a compass*

1:00 AM

Lichdom: Battlemage

Expectations: Launch magic at everything with reckless abandon!

Reality: Couldn't play it. Game froze and crashed before the end of the opening cut-scene, multiple times. Such a shame, because I really wanted to go crazy with this one. This definitely brought me down from the happy high I had from playing Darksiders.

I filled the time with playing Faerie Solitaire and gave my eyes a well-deserved rest for an hour.

2:00 AM (the second time)

7 Mages

Expectations: Dungeon crawler goodness with a focus on mages.

Reality: A very bland dungeon crawler that slows your progress with puzzles more than enemies. I was pretty bored with this one -- another title I'm glad didn't cost me very much. I didn't span a full hour with it and admittedly gave myself a stretch-and-bathroom break.

3:00 AM

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 3DS)

Expectations: Get to lay dow-- I mean, get to listen to a fairy yell at me to not be lazy because I have to go save Hyrule! (But also strategically placed in the schedule so I could lay down to prevent back and leg pain. Play smarter, not harder!)

Reality: Those fairies sure are annoying. Part of me always wants to enjoy Zelda games. Part of me always gets frustrated that there's actually only one viable path to progress, but you're going to struggle to find it. Like, if you're going to force one particular path, at least make it obvious. I need to try Breath of the Wild. I think I would like it better. One day, though... one day I may finally have developed the patience to progress far enough into a Zelda game to want to keep playing it to completion. The Extra Life marathon was not the time for that. But hey, my legs and back were happy! No screenshots, because 3DS.

4:00 AM

From Dust

Expectations: Black & White, but with better graphics and prettier land.

Reality: Black & White, but with better graphics, prettier land, and WAY HARDER OBJECTIVES. Oh. Em. Gee. I had an easier time teaching my dumb tiger not to eat my people in Black & White than I did preventing the ocean from wiping out my little village of followers. The controls felt like the Second Life landscaping but with even LESS control. I don't know how that's even possible, but From Dust nails the experience perfectly. I won't tell you how many times my villagers died from the tidal wave crashing in on them, but after 21 hours of playing games I think I earned a pass. Or a participation trophy. Something.

5:00 AM

The Lord of the Rings Online

Because this is the game that led me to Extra Life, I always end my marathon with it. I stopped around 6:00 AM because I had met my fundraising goal and I was feeling very tired. Having health issues means it's important to know when to give in, so I did. I grabbed a few hours of much-needed rest before getting up, taking a shower, and going to a concert to see David Crowder and Mercy Me. I napped in the car both ways, and then I slept like a rock and rested up on Monday.

Due to DDOS attacks on the Extra Life website's host, there were problems with people making donations during the marathon. The only reason I was able to receive any for most of the day was because I had set up a Facebook Fundraiser in advance. Even now, the total listed on my Extra Life page is incorrect because of donations being counted multiple times. I have made sure all of my donors were charged appropriately, however, and my official total as of the writing of this blog is $1,260 (and not $1,460).

Feel free to click here to read my Twitter Collection for the 2019 Marathon -- I had some great retweets and comments from some of the game developers, Extra Life, and Children's Miracle Network!

Thank you to everyone for your support and donations this year! You may have noticed that I started posting some regular, scheduled content in my blog -- and that is something I will continue in 2020. I have big plans for Gamer Reverie, and I hope you'll come along for the journey.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Soundtrack Saturday: Eternal Poison

In this weekly feature, I recommend game soundtracks. I share a few of my favorite tracks, talk about why everyone should listen to the soundtrack, and a little bit about the composer. This week's choice is Eternal Poison by Flight-Plan.


Name: Eternal Poison (JP: Poison Pink)
Developer: Flight-Plan, Artpresto, Brain-Navi
Publisher: Atlus USA (JP: Banpresto)
Release Date: November 11, 2008 (NA)
Genres: Tactical Roleplaying
Composer(s): Takashi Okamoto, Yuki Nakagawa, Kazuma Katagiri, Yuichiro Sato, Yuta Okamoto


(The titles link to YouTube videos... and I highly recommend some good headphones to best enjoy all of the subtle elements of the music!)

  • Stolen Princess
    Title screen theme. Yes, that is an intense operatic vocal there. No, that isn't what the entire soundtrack is like, so if it isn't your cup of tea... feel free to keep moving. I feel this piece sets the tone for the game's style, though -- a dark fantasy RPG which calls itself a gothic fairytale on the PS2 case.
  • Deception
    This is a beautiful string ensemble piece. I don't think I have to say anything else!
  • Gates of Hell
    Epic symphonic sounds, deep masculine vocals reminiscent of monastic chanting, piano theme as the bridge, and clashing percussion. Yep, that's some great fight music right there!
  • Grand Design
    Heavy metal with synthesizer. After that title screen theme, I'm betting you didn't expect something like this to fit or work -- but it somehow does.
  • Cursed Blood
    My favorite piece. Symphonic elements carried by violin, percussion, piano, and electric guitar. You have to hear it to really believe it. 

You can listen to the full soundtrack on YouTube by clicking here: 


Fun fact: The reason I bought this PS2 game in the first place was because it came with the entire OST on a second disc. No joke! The GameStop "Used" sticker says $29.99, but I'm pretty sure that isn't what I paid for it. In any case, I popped in the OST disc on my computer before I even sat down to play the game on my PS2, and I fell in love with it. It has a lot of tracks that sound like your typical symphonic fight music from a JRPG game, but several others were very unique (as I listed above in my favorites). I feel this game didn't get the attention or credit it deserved, even though I never finished playing it. The entire soundtrack makes for fantastic background music if you're writing or roleplaying! It's hard for me to believe this was two console generations ago and that this time next year we'll move on to yet another, but I will continue to recommend this soundtrack!


You'll notice the composer links in the stats above are only for three of them, and that the information isn't a lot. The difficulty here is that this was a Japanese game that was then given a North American release, and you can't even find these composers' names in the PS2 case, booklet, or on the disc. From what my Google-Fu could find, Takashi Okamoto is definitely the one who has been the most active (at least by the given name), working on more recent titles like Battle Princess of Arcadias (2014) and Contra: Rogue Corps (2019). I wish I had more information to provide here, but I'm afraid that will have to do!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wishlist Wednesday: Chook & Sosig - Walk the Plank

In this weekly feature, I share game titles from my various gaming wishlists. I share screenshots and video from the developer, talk about my expectations, and generally just ramble about why the title made it onto my list in the first place. This week's choice is Chook & Sosig: Walk The Plank by TookiPalooki.


Name: Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank
Developer: TookiPalooki
Publisher: Armor Games Studios
Release Date: June 17, 2019
Genres: Adventure, Point and Click, Comedy
Wishlist Location: GOG.com


(Newsletter subscribers click here to view embedded video.)


Stuff and things about pirates and cute art style. Tabletop game and comedy. I mean, really. Do I have to say more? The trailer says it all -- I love it when games don't take themselves seriously, and the characters' personalities are quite realistic.

Also, it's Christmas. So why are you reading this? Go open your presents. Or buy someone a present. You can buy me games, if you want. I clearly have wishlists to share!

But seriously... Merry Christmas, nerds!

If that isn't enough to pique your interest, then this probably isn't your genre -- and that's okay! Check back next week for another title and let me know what you think of my selection!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Soundtrack Saturday: Transistor

In this weekly feature, I recommend game soundtracks. I share a few of my favorite tracks, talk about why everyone should listen to the soundtrack, and a little bit about the composer. This week's choice is Transistor by Supergiant Games.


Name: Transistor
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Release Date: May 21, 2014
Genres: Action Role-playing, Turn-based Strategy
Composer(s): Darren Korb


(The titles link to YouTube videos... and I highly recommend some good headphones to best enjoy all of the subtle elements of the music!)

  • Paper Boats
    "We are paper boats floating on a stream/ And it would seem/ We'll never be apart"This is my favorite song from the soundtrack. I never get tired of listening to it. Potentially spoilery if you think too hard about the lyrics, but it's a beautiful track.
  • The Spine
    "I see the spine of the world/ Sparkle and shine, light the inside"My second favorite track, this one reminds me a lot of the Hellsing anime's soundtrack. It's got electric guitar and a melodic bass, but it's slow and sultry. The vocals carry the rest of the parts through a moving modulation (sorry, am I getting too technical?), and it's very easy to zone out while listening to it.
  • In Circles
    "Never be sorry for your little time/ It's not when you get there, it's always the climb"This one is a reference to a specific character in the game, but it's pretty safe to listen to if you don't know the story. Metaphors are the best! The build-up to 2:20 and the part that follows is always my favorite. But the song really shines once you know what it's talking about, so you'll probably need to give the game a play sometime.
  • Signals
    "And we all are sending smoke signals/ Keep pretending we're one"
    Metaphors again. This one just kind of... strikes a chord within me, you know?
  • Heightmap
    This is a fully instrumental track, and between the percussion and the guitar melody it's just an absolute joy to listen to. There is an optional track version where Ashley Barrett hums through it, which adds another layer of enjoyment. There are a few tracks like that in the extended soundtrack.
  • Water Wall
    Another instrumental track, this is one song until 1:30, it goes back to the first song at the 2-minute mark and then adds another layer at 2:27 just to see if you're paying attention. The build of layers in this song is well worth listening to. I also have to agree with YouTube commenter TimmCosplay: "Somehow, it sounds so very... French. XD"
  • Apex Beat
    Most people agree that this one sounds like the NES Legend of Zelda dungeon theme because of the moving piano line in the beginning. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! For added flair, there's the optional track version with the humming.
  • We All Become
    "When you speak I hear silence/ Every word a defiance"This is the song we all knew before the game was released. A clip of it was used as part of a teaser, and it was instantly popular. It is also the song that best explains the overall plot going on in the game, so don't think too hard about it if you've yet to play the game. It'll all make sense eventually. Until then, just keep this song on repeat.

You can listen to the full soundtrack on YouTube by clicking here: 


You'll notice, first of all, that I have EIGHT tracks shared above instead of the usual five I have been sticking to. That is because this soundtrack is just that phenomenal! This was the second game soundtrack Darren Korb composed for Supergiant Games, and clearly shows growth, developed finesse, and balance in comparison to the first. There are a variety of sampled musical genres in this soundtrack, yet they all share a similar sound that's hard to put your finger on. Another soundtrack for another dystopian world, the soundtrack can easily spoil the story of the game if you aren't careful! That said, I had 2-3 hour work stints a few years ago before the workplace opened to the public, and I left this soundtrack on repeat as I worked. It's that good.


Darren is known for the soundtracks he has composed for the four game titles released by Supergiant Games: Bastion, Transistor, Pyre, and Hades (newly out on Steam's Early Access after an exclusive stint in the Epic Games store). He is a childhood friend of the Supergiant co-founder, Amir Rao, so it was lucky for him that he was chosen to do the soundtrack for Bastion. He tapped his own friend, Ashley Barrett, to assist with vocals on that soundtrack -- and the duo have returned for all of the following games because of their well-received tracks. Darren and Ashley regularly appear at various gaming and comic conventions.

Friday, December 20, 2019

2018 Milestone: Russians, Aliens & Robots for $200

"It was there... on that summit, where the carabiner failed him. The rock is smooth there. He shot straight down, a tenth of a mile, with not so much as a handhold. Perhaps he screamed. if he did, no one heard. Perhaps he prayed... If he did, only God could know. At last he landed... and that, we all heard. The avalanche roared like a half-starved beast, stirred from a fitful sleep. When he struck, the very earth shook with the fury of forty-six thousand tons of snow and ice... You will pardon if I reminisce..." 
"That's fine, but could you let me sign in first?"

That... is the opening dialogue of the game, and I wish it sounded half as good as it reads in your own head. If you would be so kind as to go back to the top and re-read it... but pretend it's being read by someone who's never read the words before, mispronounces 'carabiner,' adds articles, and has zero inflection. Yeah. It's really that bad.

This game is in a special section of my Steam library called 'Game Hell' -- a place to which I banish terrible games and ensure they are not displayed as part of my library (thank you for that feature, Steam). I attempted to play this game once before, and its myriad of problems convinced me in less than an hour that I never wanted to look at it again. Well, as these things go, when you're making a list of community incentives you have to dig up the things you don't like because your own discomfort is what others enjoy best. That is how the game became my $200 Milestone Incentive for 2018's Extra Life fundraising. I have all of the regrets. All of them.

One of the few good aspects of this game would be its decent landscape shots. There's detail, depth, and solid composition. But that's hardly enough to help you overlook the laundry list of problems and shortcomings -- particularly when you are stuck inside a room in the hotel and becoming frustrated. There's no pretty scenery to dull the pain. I had only ten seconds or so to appreciate this view before it brought the main character to the front door of the hotel and the owner began rambling before the car door opens. Noticing it was a lengthy ramble, I tapped my screenshot button... only to have the game close entirely. Okay. No big deal. I probably just needed to set another button instead. Three different buttons and three more failed starts later, I finally had a button selected that seemed to work, and I finally captured the 3 screenshots needed just to get that opening dialogue for this blog entry. Not an auspicious beginning.

I wish I could say the game improved from there. It did not. I have attempted to play this game several times since May of this year, and I seldom get very far. In fact, just after the third attempt was made my PC died and now I am typing on an entirely different computer. The voice acting is what kills me the most. It sounds like the voice actors were doing a cold read and because of budgeting or time constraints they had to roll with it. The majority of the actual gameplay is figuring out where and what you can click, and solving basic puzzles to progress the dubious plot.

So this is me telling you that An Attempt Was Made, and Turn Back Now. The game was based on a Russian novel that was also made into a movie. There are robots and aliens (I kid you not). Maybe give that a read instead of torturing yourself with this game, as it's supposed to be full of dry humor.