A Decade Later

Thank you Waff for the amazing job! Check out his online store and follow him on Twitter!

I’ve been staring at my screen for the last hour, trying to find the words that best sum up the last ten years. I’ve typed stuff and deleted it. I’ve changed the title dozens of times. No matter what I say, it doesn’t feel like it properly conveys the love and gratitude I have for the hundreds of game developers and thousands of readers who have made the last ten years so special to me. I still can’t find anything that feels powerful enough, so I’ll simply say “thank you!” It has truly been my pleasure.

I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, and the next ten years are going to be.. interesting to say the least. For those that don’t know, I found out last year that I’m among the ten-million people on Earth living with Parkinson’s Disease. I’m healthy right now. In fact, in many ways I’ve never been better. I haven’t had a seizure in eighty days as of this writing. That’s four-times longer than I’ve gone at any point since I was sixteen-years-old. So that’s really cool. I’m showing some symptoms of Parkinson’s, but nothing drastically interfering in gameplay as of yet. That won’t last, though. There’s going to be changes. My reaction times will inevitably slow. Thumb-accuracy will likely be an issue. But, I’m not quitting gaming. Fuck that. I’ll find stuff I can play.

Probably not stuff with motion controls.

It’s just another phase of my weird journey as Indie Gamer Chick. But the beauty of gaming is there’s something for everyone. Even people fated to be professional Jiffy Pop poppers. If I’ve learned one thing in my ten years spent reviewing games, it’s to have faith that good stuff is always coming soon to a device near you. I don’t get when people say gaming used to better “back in the day.” Back in the day, gamers couldn’t bring off-trend, off-beat projects to consoles all on their own. Indies and digital distribution have really brought us into a golden age for gaming. For all the bitching we all do (myself included) about too much DLC or microtransactions, I can buy a $20 giftcard and walk away with a handful of games on pretty much any gaming format, with at least one or two near-certain quality releases. I couldn’t do that as a kid on my Nintendo 64 or PlayStation 2 or Dreamcast. What an amazing thing we all have. What a time to alive!

“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality, and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

-Conan O’Brien on his final Tonight Show

That’s my favorite quote. I love it because it’s true. It’s so weird, because a lot of people found me via scathing reviews of games that cost $1 – $5 on their Xbox 360s. I’d get angry and I’d get confused and I’d tear a game a new butthole for baffling design. On the surface, I’d come across like the stereotypical angry gaming critic. There’s a few notable ones, but most of them are a dime a dozen and fade into obscurity just as quickly as they start. I think the difference with me, the thing that’s kept me going for ten years now, is that I’m not cynical. I’ve always kept faith that the best game I’ll EVER play is somewhere off in the future. I used to say it would be tragic if, in my mid-20s, I’d already played the best game I’ll ever play. I’ll be 32-years-old next week, and I’ll never be as healthy again as I am right now. And yet, I still believe in my heart-of-hearts the best game I’ll ever play is still yet to come. I think that’s what makes me different. I think a lot of gaming people these days are too cynical about the future of our pastime. That the best days are behind us, and that nothing will ever be as good as it once was.

But, I look at what I’ve played over the last ten years, and I look at the incredible artists who made them, and I ask how anyone can be that jaded? These guys and gals have given me every reason to believe gaming’s future is brighter than a supernova. I have faith in their drive and their creativity and their homespun moxie. They’re going to assure our future as gamers will be as vast and limitless as our imaginations can conceive. And I’m so very excited, and I want you to be too!

For the adventures coming.

For the challenges we’ll conquer.

For the kingdoms we’ll save.

For the villains we’ll slay.

For the quests we’ll complete.

For the puzzles we’ll solve.

For the dreams we’ll see come true.

Have faith, my friends. The best of gaming always belongs somewhere in the future.

-Cathy Vice
July 1, 2021

Cthulhu Saves Christmas (Review)

As I crawl to my 10th Anniversary as Indie Gamer Chick (it’s been pointed out to me that it’s actually my 9th anniversary, as your starting date isn’t your first anniversary. Yes, fine, I’ll have been IGC for ten years on July 1 is the point), something dreadful is overcoming me. And I don’t just mean the grim specter of Parkinson’s disease, a thought that gives me trembles. I mean sooner than it’s supposed to. No, I’m talking about nostalgia. Oh Christ, are you telling me that I’m now old enough and the world has gone to shit enough for me to long for a simpler time? Already? Ten years isn’t that long ago! But, yea, I’ve sort of reached that point where it’s almost unfathomable that I was once prolific and cranked out almost five-hundred game reviews in a a two year span and wish I could go back to THAT time.

The self-aware humor is so non-stop that even Deadpool would be like “yo, slow down! Let the jokes settle!”

So I started browsing through the literally hundreds of Nintendo Switch indies I’ve bought but never played and saw Cthulhu Saves Christmas. Oh hey, that’s a Zeboyd game! They made XBLIGs! I remember XBLIGs! I reviewed XBLIGs! They made Cthulhu Saves the World for XBLIG! I played it! I reviewed it! This is a Cthulhu saves game, only it’s NOT an XBLIG! That’s exactly the type of nostalgia my prematurely decrepit ass has been longing for. So, I fired it up and immediately started getting warm and fuzzy feelings of familiarity playing one of their self-aware satirical RPGs. The exact same kind that I started playing in 2011 when I started Indie Gamer Chick. You didn’t see a lot of games like this back then. Ten years later and there’s actually too many “haha, you’re playing a game, isn’t that quirky?” experiences. We’ve come far, and I figured Cthulhu Saves Christmas might run the joke into the ground eventually. But, I was wrong. They actually ran it into the ground right away. That’s the joke.

If you’re looking for “hardcore” RPG experience, something tells me you’d know enough from the title to realize you’re not getting it here. Or, if you’re familiar with Zeboyd’s work for that matter. Not that they can’t do damn fine RPG mechanics. Honesty, their Penny Arcade titles probably outclassed anything the Xbox 360 ever offered. But, even with really fun combat mechanics, you’re never going to be immersed in this world. In fact, the humor landing requires you to be as detached from the goings-on as humanly possible. That’s sort of the point. And yea, it’s really fun to play Cthulhu Saves Christmas. The set-up of having some attack options being chosen at random, while others you can organize and optimize for making battles be breezy is quite satisfying to build and implement. Besides, it moves at such a blistering pace that you never even have time to be bored. Things like exploring towns are shit-canned in favor of having to choose a handful of events between each stage which will give you a pre-set reward. It does feel rushed at times, but there’s always a disarming joke to go along with the feeling, as if the devs are letting you know “game makers get bored too, you know?”

CSC does actually do satire as well as any game. Its parody on the Final Fantasy “we must depart forever” trope had me laughing so much my eyes stung from the tears.

To CSC’s credit, it never gets boring, and writing is always absurd enough to hold your attention. Yet, I can’t help but get the distinct feeling that Zeboyd couldn’t believe they were still making games like this after a decade. Their magnum opus, Cosmic Star Heroine, did well enough but wasn’t exactly a world beater as far as RPGs go. Cthulhu Saves Christmas has the feel of a game that says “couldn’t you pricks have saved us from making games like this?” Or maybe I’m reading it wrong. Maybe they’re every bit as nostalgic for a simpler time as I am. I usually disclose friendships earlier in reviews, but I guess now’s the time to note that I love Robert & Bill Zeboyd. They’re my friends, but more than that, they were partners in that weird and often frustrating world of Xbox Live Indie Games. We were on different sides of the table: they were makers of XBLIGs, while I was a critic XBLIGs. But we all struggled to get attention for the community together. They certainly made my job easier, to the point that I actually felt sorry for them. They seemed too good to be stuck hocking their games for 240MSP to 400MSP (MSP is Microsoft Points. 80 Points = $1). When they were chosen to become Penny Arcade 3 and 4’s developer, but with their games still stuck on XBLIG, part of me smiled, but most of me felt heartbroken for them. “Jeez, really? Even with the license, they’re going to be stuck on the same sales page as vibrator apps?”

You have three permanent attack slots that aren’t selected by a randomizer. I placed “attack all” attacks in the first slot of each and just mashed A for the most part. Your mileage will vary on how much you get out of CSC, especially since you can adjust the difficulty.

It never occurred to me that any developer would remember that time as fondly as I did. I guess what I’ve taken away most from Cthulhu Saves Christmas is that was a happier time. For all of us. When we were all plucky upstarts, with the best yet to come sometime down the line. Who knows? Parkinson’s or not, maybe I’ll eventually reach higher highs. Zeboyd, on the other hand, certainly will. Hell, whenever I pester AAA studio heads, they’re probably the developer I name drop most. “Oh, you have an old RPG property and you don’t know what to do with it? Well, I know these guys. They’re a bit batshit but they’re good..” I suspect that they’re still destined for gaming superstardom. Even ten years later, the best days of Zeboyd feel like they are ahead of them. I guess it’s reassuring to know that those old days we spent on Xbox Live Indie Games meant as much to them as it did to me. It makes me feel a little less pathetic to be nostalgic for it.

Cthulhu Saves Christmas was developed by Zeboyd
Point of Sale: Nintendo Switch, Steam, Coming Soon to PS5
$9.99 is an old one now in the making of this review.
Cthulhu Saves Christmas is Chick-Approved and Ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

The Pinball Chick Interview: George Gomez

I had the amazing privilege of interviewing one of THE legends of gaming and pinball, Mr. George Gomez. Be sure to head over to The Pinball Chick to check it out!

The Pinball Chick

You don’t always get what you deserve. George Gomez deserves to be a household name. He’s a certifiable legend, responsible for tens of millions of dollars in coin-drops over the last forty years. This is a man put on this Earth to entertain. A game maker. A toy maker. A pinball maker. He created Spy Hunter AND Monster Bash, and between that he made darts you fill with water, which I totally would have used if I had been alive when they came out. And I’d probably aimed for people’s eyes with them, because that’s how I roll. Anyway, I got to talk to George, who currently is Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer at Stern, the current leaders in pinball, because I am that lucky. We discussed his career, his projects, and general thoughts on the nature of game and pinball design.

Robert Downy Jr explains how…

View original post 5,601 more words

#IGCvMegaMan (February 11 – 25) Index

I’m trying to run through every classic Mega Man game. If it’s not 8 or 16 bit, it won’t be included. The links go to Twitter threads, where I mostly make awful puns.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Mega Man (YES Pile)
Mega Man 2 (YES Pile)
Mega Man 3 (YES Pile)
Mega Man 4 (YES Pile)
Mega Man 5
Mega Man 6

Game Boy

Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge (NO Pile)
Mega Man II
Mega Man III
Mega Man IV
Mega Man V

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Mega Man 7
Mega Man & Bass
Mega Man X (NO Pile)
Mega Man X2
Mega Man X3
Mega Man Soccer (NO PILE)

Game Boy Advance

Mega Man Zero
Mega Man Zero 2
Mega Man Zero 3
Mega Man Zero 4

The Rest

Mega Man for Game Gear
Rockman Battle & Fighters for Neo Geo Pocket Color (YES Pile)
Rockman & Forte Mirai kara no Chōsensha for Wonderswan (NO PILE)

The Official #IGCvNES YES/NO Piles with Top 25 & Bottom 25

THESE ARE NOT FULL REVIEWS

The #IGCvNES YES Pile and the NO Pile are simply my opinions on whether a game is worth a deeper look. If it’s in the YES pile, I think the average gamer interested in retro gaming will find something of genuine value playing the game today, in 2020. If it’s in the NO pile, it’s not worth the time. That’s all this is.

TEMP UPDATE: Bold = Likely Top 25 or Bottom 25, final awards Sunday, Oct 4

THE YES PILE (TOP 10, TOP 25)

  • A Boy and his Blob
  • Abadox
  • Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Adventures of Lolo (Famicom)
  • Adventures of Lolo 2
  • Adventures of Lolo 2 (Famicom)
  • Adventures of Lolo 3
  • Air Fortress
  • Anticipation!
  • Archon
  • Bad News Baseball
  • Banana Prince
  • Batman: Return of the Joker
  • Bible Adventures
  • Binary Land
  • Bionic Commando
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Bubble Bobble II
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
  • Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers
  • Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers 2
  • Chuka Taisen
  • Cobra Triangle
  • Cocoron
  • Contra
  • Crystal Mines
  • Crystalis
  • Darkwing Duck
  • Devil World
  • Dizzy the Adventurer
  • Don Doko Don
  • Don Doko Don 2
  • Donald Land
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • DuckTales
  • DuckTales 2
  • Eggerland Meikyuu no Fukkatsu
  • Excitebike/Vs. Excitebike
  • Famicom Wars
  • Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy
  • Fantasy Zone (Sunsoft)
  • Fantasy Zone (Tengen)
  • Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Dōchū
  • Garry Kitchen’s Battletank
  • Gauntlet
  • Gauntlet II
  • Gimmick
  • Gradius
  • Gradius II
  • Ice Hockey
  • Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu
  • Joy Mech Fight
  • Kickle Cubicle
  • Kid Dracula
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kid Niki: Radical Ninja
  • Kid Niki 2 (Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 2: Karakuri Land)
  • Kiwi Kraze/New Zealand Story
  • Klax
  • Krazy Kreatures
  • Kung Fu 2 (Kung Fu Master 2)
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Life Force
  • Little Ninja Bros.
  • Little Samson
  • Mendel Palace
  • Micro Machines
  • Mig 29: Soviet Fighter
  • Mighty Final Fight
  • Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!/Punch-Out!!
  • Monster Party
  • Ms. Pac-Man (Tengen)
  • Mystery World Dizzy
  • Ninja Gaiden II
  • Ninja Gaiden III
  • Nuts & Milk
  • Pac-Land
  • Panic Restaurant
  • Power Blade
  • Power Blade 2
  • Quattro Adventure (YES to Super Robin Hood)
  • Quattro Arcade (YES to Go! Dizzy Go!, F-16 Renegade, & Stunt Buggies)
  • R.C. Pro-Am 2
  • River City Ransom (JP version)
  • Rod Land
  • Rygar
  • Simpson’s: Bart vs The Space Mutants
  • Snow Bros.
  • Solomon’s Key
  • Spiritual Warfare
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Sweet Home
  • Time Zone
  • Toki
  • Ufouria (Hebereke)
  • Ultimate Stuntman
  • Vindicators
  • Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego
  • Whomp ‘Em
  • Wizards & Warriors
  • Wonderland Dizzy
  • Yume Penguin Monogatari

NO PILE (BOTTOM 10, BOTTOM 25)

  • 3D World Runner
  • 10-Yard Fight
  • Addams Family
  • Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt
  • Adventure Island
  • Adventure Island II
  • Adventure Island III
  • Adventures of Bayou Billy
  • Adventures of Dino Riki
  • Adventures of Gilligan’s Island
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Alfred Chicken
  • Alien 3
  • Altered Beast
  • American Gladiators
  • Arkista’s Ring
  • Athena
  • Athletic World
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  • Back to the Future
  • Back to the Future Part II & III
  • Balloon Fight
  • Barbie
  • Baseball
  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Battletoads
  • Big Nose Freaks Out
  • Big Nose the Caveman
  • Blaster Master
  • Boulder Dash
  • Bubble Bath Babes
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • City Connection
  • Clu Clu Land/Clu Clu Land D
  • Crisis Force
  • Deadly Towers
  • Deathbots
  • Defender of the Crown
  • Deja Vu
  • Digger T. Rock
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong III
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon
  • Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone
  • Double Strike
  • Dr. Mario
  • Dreamworld Pogie
  • Dudes with Attitude
  • Falsion
  • Faxanadu
  • Fire Emblem
  • Firehawk
  • Hello Kitty World (aka Balloon Fight 2)
  • Hi no Tori Hououhen: Gaou no Bouken (Phoenix Chronicles)
  • Hot Slot
  • Galaga
  • Ganbare Goemon 2
  • Gargoyle’s Quest II
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Golf
  • Guardian Legend
  • Ice Climber
  • Ikari III: The Rescue
  • Ikari Warriors
  • Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
  • Impossible Mission II
  • Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II
  • Joe & Mac
  • Jordan vs. Bird: One on One
  • Karnov
  • Kid Niki 3 (Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3: Taiketsu! Zōringen)
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Kung Fu
  • Linus Spacehead: Cosmic Crusade
  • Magic Darts
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Marble Madness
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mermaids of Atlantis
  • Metal Slader Glory
  • Metroid
  • Mighty Bomb Jack
  • Milon’s Secret Castle
  • Mystery Quest
  • NES Open Golf
  • Nightshade
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Land
  • Pac-Man
  • Parodius Da!
  • Peek-a-Boo Poker
  • Pinball
  • Power Blazer
  • Pro Wrestling
  • Puzzle
  • Pyramid
  • R.B.I. Baseball
  • R.B.I. Baseball 2
  • R.C. Pro-Am
  • Ring King
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Shadowgate
  • Shinobi
  • Simpson’s: Bart vs The World
  • Simpsons: Bartman meets Radioactive Man
  • Skull & Crossbones
  • Slalom
  • Smurfs
  • Snake Rattle ‘n Roll
  • Soccer
  • Stadium Events
  • Star Soldier
  • Street Fighter 2010
  • Stunt Kids
  • Super Mario Bros. – The Lost Levels (Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan)
  • Super Sprint
  • Super Spy Hunter
  • Super Team Games
  • Talespin
  • Tiles of Fate
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble in Wacky Land
  • Toobin’
  • Trolls on Treasure Island
  • Uninvited
  • Wagan Land (Wagyan Land)
  • Wagan Land 2 (Wagyan Land 2)
  • Wai Wai World
  • Wai Wai World 2
  • Wally Bear and the NO! Gang
  • Wily & Light’s Rockboard: That’s Paradise
  • Wizards & Warriors III – Kuros: Visions of Powers
  • Xexyz
  • Yoshi
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II

ROM HACKS WORTH A LOOK

  • Adventures of Lolo Remix
  • Castlevania 5 Legacy
  • Castlevania Blood Moon
  • Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries
  • Challenging Lolo
  • Challenging Lolo 2
  • Doctor Who
  • Legend of Zelda: Outlands
  • Mario Adventure
  • Zelda II: Redux

Zaccaria Pinball – Deluxe Table Pack 1 Table Ranking (Xbox One & PS4 DLC Pack, Tables sold Individually on Steam)

The latest review from my new pinball themed blog is here as we welcome Zaccaria coverage to The Pinball Chick!

The Pinball Chick

Think of Zaccaria Pinball’s Deluxe series as being their take on modern pins like those by Jersey Jack or even Stern’s post-DMD works like Stranger Things. The scoreboard is now an animated LCD screen and modes have explanations and rules given to you. If Magic Pixel’s goal was to create original tables that feel like they could be real, two of the three tables succeeded. I could believe that Red’s Show and Cine Star are real tables. Spooky Deluxe? Probably not. It doesn’t seem like it would physically work. Ironically, Spooky is the best of the set and the first table during our Zaccaria play time that has won an excellent table certification here. Zaccaria Pinball is a solid, genuinely fun pinball set that frustrates me sometimes with the sheer amount of confusing options, but make no mistake, this is a solid pack to introduce yourself to their potential.

But…

View original post 3,212 more words

Cathy’s Wreck Room: Star Wars 1up Arcade Review + Game Index (Complete Buyer’s Guide)

In case you missed it, I’ve opened a spin-off site, The Pinball Chick! And The Pinball Chick won’t just be doing digital pinball. It’s going to cover all kinds of gaming devices you’d add to your family rec rooms or man caves. Like, say, the 1up Arcade Star Wars upright arcade cabinet. We reviewed it here.

The Pinball Chick

Get it? Wreck room? Like rec room, only wreck, because I’m probably going to shit on 99% of the games featured? I swear, it sounded more clever in my head.

Of course, the thing about 1up’s selection of games is they’re not really about the games. If it were about the games, their machines would be expandable and offer a wider variety of options. $499.99 for a thing that only plays three games, and can’t be made to include more games (well, without doing warranty-voiding moderation) is pretty dang steep. Honestly, they were off our radar until they announced they’d be doing pinball tables. While we don’t have dates or prices on their Star Wars or Attack from Mars 3/4 scale tables they’re partnering with Zen Studios for, it actually sparked excitement from our readers, who were curious if we’d be doing them. Then people said they wanted reviews for…

View original post 2,309 more words

kubic

Three reviews in 24 hours. I guess XBLIG really is back. As a fun fact, kubic is not only the first Creators Collection game to win my seal of approval (spoiler), it’s actually the first game of 2017 to get it, period. That has more to do with the fact that I’ve barely done any reviews over the last two years. Back in the day, I used to crank out between five to eight reviews on a weekly basis. That’s not as impressive as it sounds when you realize that most XBLIGs were so short that the reviews typically took longer to write than the games did to finish. And yea, I’m stalling a bit here. That’s because I don’t have a ton to say about kubic. Well, I guess it’s annoying that it does that “too cool to capitalize” thing that always makes me worry that someone will find my blog for the first time, see the lack of a capital K in this review’s title, and assume I’m the lazy and/or illiterate one. Wait, is it still okay to make jokes about literacy or is that a micro-aggression now? What about laziness? I’ve been meaning to look it up but I keep putting it off.

Maybe this started life as a Crystal Castles level creator.

The basic idea behind kubic is take Tangram puzzles and splice them with M.C. Escher-style optical illusions. You’re presented with an example of the shape you’re trying to copy and various scrambled-up pieces to do it with. You can’t rotate or otherwise manipulate the pieces, which in theory should make the game too easy. And.. actually yea, it makes it too easy. Of the 69 (pause for immature laughter.. not judging, I did it too) puzzles, only the last dozen or so gave me issues. I mean, besides the awful interface. Kubic is a quick-and-dirty port of a mobile game and it shows. Even when you know which pieces go where, getting them into place is a slow and frustrating process that might require multiple attempts to get the game to cooperate with your intent. Actually, truth be known the cursor used on the Xbox One port is far more precise than using your fingers on a phone or tablet. Five minutes with kubic on my Galaxy was enough to make me want to throw it against a wall. I didn’t, because the Samsung people keep insisting that violates my warranty.

Levels 49 – 56 spell out “MC Escher” which would be much cooler if they were actually all in the same row.

But otherwise kubic is fine. It’s not great. It’s not memorable. But it’s a perfectly decent waste of a couple of minutes. And it’s yet another XBLIG II launch title that’s free. You early Creators Club developers really need to stop this. If a farmer gets free manure every day for years and then suddenly has to pay for it, they’ll instead end up looking to get their crap elsewhere.

kubic was developed by Pixel Envision Ltd.
Free to play on Xbox One. Xbox.com still isn’t listing Creators Collection games so here’s the link from the Microsoft Store

kubic is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard. And if you’re reading this anywhere but IndieGamerChick(dot)com, you’re reading plagiarized work. Please go to my actual site, Indie Gamer Chick. This is my work, I deserve the page views for it.

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