Pokemon White (DS, E10+)

If you asked me to describe Pokemon White in one word, that word would be "soulless." From the hamfisted plot to the music that's bombastic noodling at best and irritating at worst to the uninspired new Pokemon designs to the creepy possessed puppet sprite animations (come on people, subtlety), everything in this game reeks of phoning it in. I knew this was going to be a thing when I first started the game, and rather than organically showing me the relationship between the main character, the girl in the turnip hat, and the nerdy guy, the game goes "Hey, these two are your friends, have fun!" Hell, more than once my path was blocked by someone who said "Hey, something's going on here and I can't let you through yet." And yes, they actually did say "something's going on." Couldn't even come up with "Hey kid, some Patrats chewed through the power lines, and we're working to fix it. Could you come back later?" or "A swarm of Leavanny stopped here as part of their migration and shouldn't be disturbed, but they'll move on soon", could you game?

Also, Team Plasma has to be the most pointless of the bad guy teams; rather than being part of the story they just show up regularly to derail it, as if they only exist because every game has to have a team that manages to cause trouble everywhere you go despite exclusively using the shittiest 'Mons in the game.


The Dragon in the Sock Drawer (Kate Klimo)

Again, I realize this is a young reader's book, but as I keep saying, children's books need to have *something* for an adult. After the wizard warned the kids about the dragon slayer, then the uncle told the kids to put out missing posters advertising the "lizard", I knew exactly what was going to happen. Maybe the goal was to make kids feel good for figuring it out before the protagonists did, but as an adult it's actually kind of insulting.


Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom (Tui T. Sutherland, Kindle eBook)

As the middle book in the series, it's mostly just setting the stage for the series' big finale with clues on the Nightwings' involvement in the war and Glory taking her place in a (blatantly false) prophecy that she's not even a part of.

While the previous two books had self-immolations, face meltings, seas of dragon corpses, a dragon getting her skull smashed open on a reef, and an aborted dragon fetus (long story), this book just has is a leperous sloth and some scarred dragons who caught the business end of some acid venom. Maybe Sutherland was trying to tone things down after complaints of traumatizing kids with the previous two. Heck, the previous book ended with Tsunami's home getting raided and burned down by the Skywings. This one ends with a dragon olympics event as Glory tries to take the throne of the Rainwings, which is resolved with a big reveal that... yeah, it's not as bad as the identity of the assassin in the last book, but it's still a bit of a copout.

Oh, and there's a really meta moment when a chapter ends with Glory giving all the Rainwings a rousing speech about how she's going to save all the other captured dragons, then in the next one she makes a comment about "inspiring speeches coming at the end of a chapter"

(Random oddity: Glory's fangs, which you can see in the image above, are absent on the cover image on my Kindle)


The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC)

Aaaaaand here's where most of my January went. I know, I'm as surprised as you are, considering I'm pretty lukewarm on the original Binding of Isaac. But I picked this up during the Steam Holiday sale, achieved Golden God, and beat Mega Satan (haven't unlocked The Lost as of writing this, though), and actually found myself enjoying it. The remake smooths out a lot of the Flash game's kinks and is overall a more consistent experience, but it does still seem to rely a lot on catching the RNG in a good mood. But when you do the game can be quite cathartic; I have confess it was fucking hilarious when I was playing as Azazel and the game gave me the Chocolate Milk and Mom's Contact, and I took out Satan in ten seconds. But catch it in a bad mood, and one wrong item can ruin your entire game (fuck you, Cursed Eye. You too, Guillotine. Fuck you both in your nonexistent assholes). I've also warmed up to Binding of Isaac as I've come to understand what it's really about.

Bonus: Monstro II isn't a total moron anymore.

But blimey, the new soundtrack. I guess it's okay as its own thing, but since the soundtrack was my favorite thing about the original Binding of Isaac it's kind of a shame Rebirth's music is so sterile.

(And yes I'm using a seeded run in that screenshot, I wanted a screenshot of myself as the cat and wasn't pleased with the ones I'd taken on normal runs, so screw you)


Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS, E10+)

I may have mentioned before that the original Ruby is the game I've put the most time into, at a whopping 300 hours. Believe me, even I'm a bit surprised at that, but after looking back on how much time I spent EV training different Pokemon and get them to level 100, it makes sense. X and Y brought ways to remove much of the grinding, but I think they went too far in the other direction. It's actually rather jarring that, after what a pain in the ass it was to get Latios in the original Ruby, Omega Ruby literally gives him to you.

As for the game itself, well, it's Pokemon. Though after putting up with White's hyperactive pixelated jointed sprites, seeing the X and Y Pokemon models was a welcome return. And Team Magma and Aqua have more personality than Plasma (although I have no idea how Team Magma would stand any chance against Aqua; after Maxim's bluster about how he's going to wreck my shit with Mega Evolution, I wiped his Mega Camerupt out in a single Surf from my standard Gyarados). That said, the Delta Episode totally sucks. Yeah, it's nice that they give you a chance to catch a previously event-only Pokemon when you finally get to the end of it, but they could have made the trip there something other than a backtrack-a-gogo fetchquest slog.

Oh yeah, and playing Pokemon-Amie with Groudon never ceases to amuse me.