Blog Update: Admin & Anime

Oh hi there. I’ve been relatively quiet as of late, so thought I’d put together a quick post as to why, as well as noting some other projects! To keep y’all entertained whilst doing so, there’ll be anime GIFs throughout, so stick around, yeah? This isn’t gonna be a long one. Either way, there is anime, so, yeah! We’re all a fan of that right?


OK so firstly, to explain my recent reduced frequency of posting; a storm of different life stuff has been going on, from moving where I live, to starting a new work position, to, erm, managing to damage the keys on my laptop and therefore making typing tricky… However! The first two are more organised now, and the latter I have sorta-fixed (don’t ask). I’m back in a position where I have more opportunity to write!

Also, I have been playing quite a few games recently, and have a lot of material ready. Expect quite a few reviews soon, as well as more Let’s Chat, and even some more one-off articles. I’m keen to start doing more list articles as well, but one thing at a time and all that. With it being the time of year that it is, also expect themed pieces…

Another exciting prospect is that I have been setting up my video recording arrangement, to the point where I am prepared for video capture and streaming. For those intrigued, there are two methods in which I am doing this; when I am recording gameplay, or streaming solo on Switch or PlayStation, I have a set-up of the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition in combination with the OBS software. When I am playing multiplayer in party chat with friends on PlayStation, though – such as for Path of Exile at the moment – I go through the in-built Broadcast feature, as this is a straightforward way in which to get multiple voices into the stream.

This means I shall occasionally be online for you to follow along – predominantly the streams shall be through Twitch, and the bespoke videos on YouTube. My writing shall continue to happen here, with the videos as a complimentary channel of content that runs alongside. I have plans to stream the soon-to-be-released The Crown Tundra DLC for PokĂ©mon Sword and Shield!

Those are the main topics I was planning to mention. Yet, I’m here now, so let’s discuss a couple other events going on. With new consoles on the way – I hope I can get a PS5 at launch! – there is going to be much to write, and I imagine a lot of this shall be done through Let’s Chat. I’m very excited for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and finding out more of the story at that point in the Zelda timeline; I have been avoiding much of the info released so far so that I go into that game as fresh as I can! Expect in-depth articles from me on potential story theories when that game is out.

I have many reviews planned, as I try to get through my backlog; finishing a game and then reviewing it is a process I find very satisfying for ticking a game off in my mind – perhaps that is just me, but maybe that is a feeling shared by others. Gotta get through that backlog, right? Also I shall continue my Film in 500 review series, which seems to have been well-received, and fit in anime too. So much great stuff!

Okay that’s enough rambling from me. I mean, I should get onto making headway with all these fun projects! I hope you have a wonderful day! See ya 🙂

Lost in Ideas: The Mystery Blogger Award

Here we are with another tag post! I am working on a few different articles at the moment but felt as though I needed a break of sorts from that rhythm, so this is a welcome opportunity for that. I was first tagged for this by Nora over at IT’S YOUR FAULT I’M NOT POPULAR!, so am going to respond to that; to Aizen_Kuro over at It’severythinganime, I also appreciate you mentioning me, but as this is already quite an extensive tag I thought I wouldn’t stack them up. Thank you to the two of you, and for those reading, go and view their blogs!

Right, then, here we go, time to find out more about, well, me? Here are the rules, as copied from the post I was tagged in:

The Rules

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  3. Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award.
  4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  5. Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  6. Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  7. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  8. Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  9. Share the link to your best post.

3 Things About Myself

Profession: People who read this site may not know that I am a graphic designer, so this seems a suitable place to mention it! I have a Degree in Design for Publishing and 2 years of experience in industry. My focus is on printed products such as magazines and books, which matches my personal trait of collecting physical media. The tangibility of beautiful printed products holds so much value to me, and being involved in creating in them supplies this to me as well.

Gaming: It may be clear I am a fan of gaming – considering this site! – but here is some trivia for you: all the way back in 2010, I took part in Britain’s Best Nintendo Gamer, where after qualifying locally, I got to the finals with 15 others. These were held in London, and Nintendo treated us very well on our trip there. The game for the finals was Goldeneye on the Wii, which hadn’t been released yet! I narrowly missed out on the final 4, placing 2nd in my match, but still, I won a year of free Nintendo first-party games, as well as a Super Mario Bros. DSi XL for winning at a Guitar Hero side tournament they had there! I also got to know some new fellow gamers, which was great.

Activity: I have done quite a bit of field archery in my time, and know my way around a bow! In games and other mediums, I am drawn to archery and those who wield a bow, so it seems right that I have done it myself. My focus was on recurve – I prefer this to certain modern bows with many extra devices such as weights. I am considering Green Arrow for future cosplay!

I’m not quite at this level…

My Answers

Following are my answers to the five questions asked; I have copied the questions from the post in which I was tagged:

I mentioned something I started doing thanks to anime. What about you? Have you ever took up on or tried something that you saw in anime?

I mean, I guess the clearest example would be when I got into Trading Card Games around the time that Yu-Gi-Oh! was ascending into stratospheric popularity. The anime and the card game were much more intrinsically tied together than, say, PokĂ©mon, where the anime and the TCG were – to me – more separate from the success of the games. I played the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG from early on, eventually starting to go to a local club where I met new people who would become friends. I actually found quite a bit of success, winning promotional cards, sleeves, and more. I really enjoyed that, but did drop off around the time that XYZ was introduced – in my opinion, they started to over-complicate the game. I still collect the cards, but I don’t currently regularly go to a club as I used to.

Any general bad habits/a type of prejudice that you have when you’re first starting an anime series? Example: I am very picky about genre, thus I don’t start a series from *insert the genre you don’t like* unless I read very good things about it.

Hmm… Perhaps art style. I often find myself watching anime with detailed and soft aesthetics, such as Your Lie in April, with stunning use of colour that is not in-your-face. Other anime that have that perhaps more intense, flatter style can initially sway me away. I should be more open to watching them and seeing how they are in movement though, as perhaps I would enjoy them differently to how I reckon beforehand. A few examples are My Hero Academia, Kill la Kill, and Naruto – they’re not as high in my list of to-watch as, say, a show such as Violet Evergarden is, and the art style is part of that.

Any title that you think should exist in another form? Ex. a manga that needs an anime adaptation, an anime that needs a game adaptation etc.

Great question. I reckon a Kakegurui game could be awesome! They way that world is constructed, with the tiers of status, could make for a satisfying progression system as you try to survive your academic life, playing the different games that appear in the manga and learning more on each character. It could be a mix of visual novel and puzzle game, with these various matches to make your way through and a story that is constantly evolving as you do so. It’d also be a reason to get awesome new artwork of the characters!

What’s one character you think is greatly misunderstood by fandom or a series that is paid dust but it should change?

This isn’t so much for anime or directed at the fandom or series itself, but I found the way certain people reacted to Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018 disconcerting. For the final game in the origin trilogy, Eidos Montreal and Square Enix made the choice to explore how the quest for answers Lara Croft is on is in some ways hurting her and the people around her, resulting in multiple points where she shows her vulnerabilities and flaws. I saw some people react to this in a disappointing way, as though she had to be constantly endearing and happy. In my opinion, the game handles itself very well and treats this aspect of itself with class. They did not have to delve into the character in this way, yet they did, and that should be applauded.

Lara Croft faces many challenges in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Something personal: what is one thing that you didn’t think would enjoy/it wasn’t your thing but out of utter boredom you took it up and enjoyed in the end? I’m sure quarantine life had us do otherwise unreasonable things.

To apply context again, this isn’t an idea I was against, but one I just hadn’t put enough into pursuing, and that is Discord. For years I have heard of people using it for chat and easier discussion with friends, especially for gaming, but for some reason I had just not gotten into it. However, during this year and the obstacles of contacting others it has brought, my friends and I tried it out. It has replaced much of my other social media since for keeping in touch with said friends, and allowed us all to converse in a more cohesive and satisfying way. The multiple chat channels, with an efficient combination of text, audio, and video, has been a personal revelation and helped to be a daily source of communication in a year where doing it face-to-face has been tough.

Bonus question: Terry Eagleton once said “Evil becomes sexy, when virtue becomes boring,” in a discussion on our fascination with evil characters. What are your thoughts on this? This isn’t easy to just answer under an award post and I intend it to be more of a conversation starter, or a new blog post idea that you may want to play around with.

This is a question I may indeed go into elsewhere in a separate article. It extends on from my point on Lara Croft; characters facing personal setbacks, and then learning and improving in those areas, can be very rewarding to view, endearing them to us for their determination to be better. For antagonists, they are there to be people with opposing ideals that we may not agree on, and so that conflict is built-in; therefore, they inhernetly have that space in which to change in a positive way, and when they do that they can be fascinating for the audience. I mean, take my favourite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel and Spike are amazing examples of character development and redemption arcs.


Right, now time to nominate people! Seems plenty have been tagged already elsewhere, so I am not going to tag 10-20 here, so as not to repeat tags already done. Instead I am going to tag 5 people; if you are mentioned, don’t consider it an obligation, but a suggestion! My 5 questions for you all are then below.

Shoot the Rookie
Frostilyte
Wretched and Divine
Nepiki Gaming
Gray’s Otome Visual Novel Corner


Questions

  1. Is there a particular genre of game, anime, or otherwise that you previously did not have much experience with, but over recent times have found yourself discovering an enjoyment of?
  2. Have you ever considered getting into cosplay? If so, which character(s) do you reckon you would embody?
  3. Which is your favourite gaming-time snack and drink combo?
  4. Is there a particular game series you have never played that you plan to soon get into?
  5. If you could go on holiday with any fictional character, who would it be and where? You can choose the tone of holiday!

Best Post

Finally, for my best post, I am going to include a link to one I did on Celeste back in 2018, named: Celeste Tackles Anxiety in a Way Only Games Can. That is a game that is very special to me in how it handles certain mental health issues in a way that is interwoven into the gameplay itself, and has really helped me personally in tackling certain internal thoughts. Firstly, I recommend that you play the game, but then afterwards I would point you to read this, as it is an article that means a lot to me. It is awesome that Lena Raine – who did the music for Celeste – mentioned it on social media too, a wonderful moment for me!


Well, there you go, I hope you feel as if you know me a bit better! This was a fun one, and perhaps a great way to change up the format of writing. As aforementioned, I am working on several exciting articles that are on the way soon. I hope you have a brilliant day!

10 Hours With… Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Y’know, on occasions, games just don’t click with you. Earlier this year, the latest entry in the Animal Crossing franchise, subtitled New Horizons, was launched to enthusiastic praise and stratospheric sales, providing enjoyment to many that was especially poignant during the beginning phases of the COVID-19 lockdown. Whilst I wouldn’t say Animal Crossing is my favourite franchise, I’ve put many hours in across DS, Wii, and 3DS, but for some reason I just did not forge a connection with the Nintendo Switch-exclusive New Horizons. However, I did put around 10 hours in, enough to give an opinion on my experience, but not necessarily to justify a score. In this case, the 10 Hours With… article series that has been dormant on this site since early 2018 (!) is an apt way to put down my thoughts.


Home Away From Home

Initially, for context that applies later on, a run-through of my history with the series. My first game was Wild World (the original on GameCube is admittedly a gap in my knowledge) on the DS, which broke Animal Crossing through into the mainstream. The mixture of life simulation combined with the distinctly charming world of animal residents (you’re the only human… what sort of dystopia is this?) was so inviting, subsequently keeping you playing whether it be to upgrade your house or to complete your collections of bugs, fish, fossils, and more. The young, unaware me then traded Wild World in… Why, me? WHY? Ahem… My next game was Let’s Go To The City on Wii, again one I played regularly; I often visited my town daily and the new features such as being able to visit a City centre introduced new shops and characters, which is actually an area in which I found New Horizons to be lacking.

The DS and Wii entries are probably the ones I have put the most time into, each having their own strengths, be it the portability on the DS or the improved visuals on Wii. Following on from these, the 3DS entry New Leaf arrived. In certain areas, it was a step up from the games prior, bringing back convenience of portability and combining that with a visual jump from the DS as well as more in-depth customisation. Though, even then, the very similar core gameplay began to cause me fatigue for the series; I stopped playing much sooner than on DS and Wii. Until New Horizons this year, New Leaf served as the most recent main series entry, whilst Wii U got a bizarre stop-gap board-game in amiibo Festival, and then there were additional spin-offs: the decoration-focused Happy Home Designer on 3DS, and the mobile game Pocket Camp as Nintendo started bringing their IP to new platforms. So, the anticipation for a new main series entry on Switch, where the portability and home console advantages were set to meet, was high.

Everything is fine…

Leading on from this, now we get to New Horizons (only took me several paragraphs). There criticisms I have of the game, but in many ways it does deliver on expectations; visually it is remarkably crisp and vibrant, the soundtrack is soothing, and it has multiple quality-of-life improvements to streamline the gameplay. This time, instead of setting up an inland town, Tom Nook brings you to an island, where you and a handful of other residents – but, y’know, mainly you – set about kitting out the place from the humble beginnings of your tent. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, though; whilst Tom Nook may have a disarmingly pleasant demeanour this time around, he’s still very much after your Bells.

As I say, there have been many refinements to the core mechanics of Animal Crossing in New Horizons. These range from smaller changes, such as more storage space and an equipment selection wheel, to more prominent alterations such as finally being able to cross natural waterways, either with a pole vault or by making a bridge. There have also been extensive revamps on how much you can shape your island – you can unlock the ability to sculpt it square by square how you see fit, adjusting water, hillsides… essentially any part! This side of New Horizons has a vibe of the freedom and utter control in the Creative Mode of Minecraft, especially now you can place furniture outside your home! If you also consider the custom outfit and floor designs, New Horizons has more creative leeway than any previous Animal Crossing before it.

You know what, though, and this may sound strange, but that may be part of why I struggled to get into New Horizons. There are so many positive tweaks, solving issues that irked in previous games, but all this, and the new wrapping of the island getaway, disguise that there isn’t actually much deviation in the central goal. Once again, you are working to pay off the amounts Tom Nook asks of you for each house expansion, which means gathering and selling fruit, seashells, and other items. You can spend time away from that decorating or collecting, again, similar to before. The presentation is refreshing, but the gameplay itself is not quite so, with many of the same characters and targets involved. The Switch has hosted many a series revolution, from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but in this case I found that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was disappointing in that regard. I’m very appreciative that it goes for evolution not revolution, but for me personally, I was really hoping for more of a shake-up beyond the literal Bells and whistles.


Do It Yourself (Because Tom Nook Ain’t Gonna)

Let me express that I don’t take pleasure from the disappointment; I was cautiously optimistic about New Horizons, but my concerns of it being a newly packaged edition of a similar experience were founded. In my 10-ish hours of playing, the game ran me through tutorials that were all-too-familiar; on the other hand, there is one new feature that is a marked departure for the gameplay side of Animal Crossing, in the form of the crafting system, which again brought Minecraft to mind. You can now gather materials by, for example, chopping down trees and picking up stones, and then take them to a workbench – either near Tom Nook, or one you have built yourself – to craft equipment and furniture. It’s a noticeable focus early on, and I am glad that it is there to slightly mix up the gameplay.

You can now disrupt nature in all kinds of new ways!

Therefore, if there are particular items you are after, you can attempt to collect the various materials needed; there is initial novelty in this, with endearing animations of Tom Nook and co. applauding you for, well, doing their work for them, I guess? Yet, I quite quickly got tired of it, and found myself drawn to speeding up the process by buying the equipment outright from shops when I could. It gets to the point where Tom Nook asks you to collect the materials required to set up three houses with the correct furniture for new island-goers, and the idea of gradually going through the lists and getting each item wasn’t one that particularly sparked excitement in me. Not to mention that Tom Nook is committing fraud, as this happens because he *mistakenly* sells these houses to people as if they are already built, then asks you to build them for him! The audacity.

I imagine that if there was end reward for this type of task that wasn’t so similar to past games, I would not mind as much. But bringing in new villagers isn’t – in the scope of the series – an innovation, so making the way to do it more complex just felt a roundabout way of doing the same activities. This is an issue elsewhere; as much as Blathers is awesome, a celebration of him arriving and setting up a museum isn’t that thrilling when there have been museums in these games before. I enjoy meeting characters again, but there is such a reliance on them, with not that many new faces so far. Where this is done better is the villagers that can move onto your island, as the way different islands get different residents encourages that feeling of your game being unique. Furthermore, the dialogue is frequently hilarious – the localisation is impressive in the inherent wit and sense of personality.

Villagers are wonderfully quirky

At this point, the awareness that I may have sounded quite grumpy at times in this post is hitting me, but I shall put emphasis on how I suspect the problems I have with New Horizons are due to my own taste in games and experience with the series – not necessarily the fault of the game itself. Firstly, the way New Horizons leans towards the more open, limitless creative potential of your island isn’t a direction that directly appeals to me; I prefer to play within set rules. For comparison, I am more drawn to the design vision of New Super Mario Bros. U than I am the creative blank canvas of Super Mario Maker. Secondly, the sheer amount of Animal Crossing I have played over the years has led to the appeal of the repeated set-up wearing off, and said set-up is mostly unchanged in New Horizons.

If you are a fan of detailed customisation and/or are new to the series, it’s a game that could offer you hours upon hours of fun. Which, clearly, it has this year, going by how well it has done critically and commercially. Multiplayer should be mentioned too. I tried out the functionality of visiting a friend to walk around their island – which was much more organised than mine – and it worked well. There are wisely barriers in place to decide who can do what when they arrive on your island, and the connectivity was proficient, so I have no complaints. Just wandering around a new island has a certain positive energy to it!

To reiterate, let me again say how glad I am that people found joy in Animal Crossing: New Horizons this year. During such turbulent times, for a game to be there as a delightful source of entertainment is incredibly valuable. I’m disappointed I personally wasn’t able to click with the game as much as others, but we don’t all have the same opinions on every game, and that is part of why it is so fun to read alternate takes! I am glad I gave New Horizons 10 hours, but in the end it isn’t a game I envisage myself soon going back to.


Did you play Animal Crossing: New Horizons? If so, feel free to put your personal opinion on the game in the comments below! This article series is suited to games where I start them and have thoughts to put down on this site, yet have hours and hours left until I can finish them and be in the position to review them with a score (see: Persona 5). Until next time – have a great day!

Five by Five: Give It A Light Novel Title

Well hi there! So, this is the first tag post I have done here on this site, after being kindly nominated by IT’S YOUR FAULT I’M NOT POPULAR! over on their entry for this; I’m going to be making up names for manga/anime/light novels in the format of the ridiculously long titles many light novels have!

As far as tags go, I quite enjoy this one, so am eager to get into it! From reading the post KS Blogs did, it appears that this was thought up by Shallow Dives in Anime. There you go, there’s a bunch of links for you to click, eh?

They’re not that bad, just have a read, yeah?

Before I attempt to be comedic (prepare yourselves), have a read over the rules and details, which I am going to copy/paste from the post I was tagged in:

The Rules

  1. Choose up to five anime, manga or visual novel series that have a short title
    • Light novels that have shorter titles (Date A Live for example) are also allowed.
  2. Give these series a new title based on those classic overly long Light Novels we love!
  3. If someone has already picked a series you wanted. It’s OK! Let’s see your own take on the title!
  4. Link back to the original post so I can read people’s suggestions, I’d love to read everyone’s ideas.
  5. Include Give it a Light Novel title in your tags so everyone including myself can find them all easily.
  6. Nominate around 1-6 bloggers.

Sorted. That’s the formalities done, so now onto my 5!


Kakegurui

School Gambling is Getting Out of Hand (Not Just Because of Physical Maiming)


Carole & Tuesday

Who Knew A Music Career On Mars Would Be So Tough?


Yuri!!! On Ice

It’s Difficult to Quit Skating When Your Role Model Turns Up Naked


Steins;Gate

How A Microwave Can Lead to Time Travel, Corporate Conspiracy, & Romance


Yu-Gi-Oh! (First Series) –

I Share My Body With A Pharoah; He’s Amazing At Card Games!


– Bonus Round: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s (I Just Have To Add This One… ) –

Card Games On Motorcycles


That was fun! Got me at least attempting to be funny, aha! Right, now I have to nominate others… *Drum Roll*

Extra Life
Pinkie’s Paradise
gamergal.exe

If you’re tagged, consider it a suggestion, not an obligation! Not gonna chase you up on it; this was a fun creative process though, so perhaps consider it.

Now, back to your regular programming; reviews, Let’s Chat, and more on the way soon!

Gaming Photo Album: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

So, it’s time to finish my three Gaming Photo Album posts for Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, ending – shock – with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, which – perhaps controversially – is my favourite of this trio. In my opinion, within this trilogy, it has the best action set pieces; the one at sea around halfway/two-thirds in is a particular thrill ride! I am aware that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the game many favour, though, so I’ll quickly get onto the photos I took whilst playing before too many people tell me I am wrong in the comments, aha!


London


Enclosed


To the Shore


Plane Crash


Desert


Riding to the Finale


Well, there are some snaps from my time with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception! Bear in mind that, say, during the ending sequence, I’m more preoccupied with the story than taking photos – this is quite a natural showcase of how I use the Photo Mode here and there. I’ll have to consider which game I put into this feature next; watch this space (and feel free to make suggestions)!

Gaming Photo Album: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

It’s been a while since I posted an entry in this feature series, so it is time to amend that! As the most recent one I did was for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, first up I am going to display photos from the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves! There are plenty of opportunities for stylish photos in this game, as you’ll see below! To be clear, these are taken whilst playing Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PlayStation 4.


Lost in Snow


Variation of Atmosphere


Action


Explorer


Be Careful Where You Step


There you go, there are some of the images I captured over my time with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Next up shall be my photos from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception!

Beyond the Hashtag: PokĂ©mon Masters EX Update Pairs Style & Substance

Let’s get it out of the way: yes, the online hashtag for PokĂ©mon Masters EX was a misjudgment (don’t make me write it down). However, if that is the main takeaway from this substantial update, it would be a great shame, as developers DeNA have brought a lot to the table here in terms of new content and mechanical refinements. It’s a fantastic way to mark the one year Anniversary of the game, and so for those who perhaps don’t know much about the update, and for those who do and would like to know my thoughts, I’m going to run through what has changed and how that affects the overall package. To read more of my thoughts on the game prior to this, then you can click here for my post on why PokĂ©mon Masters is my favourite mobile game ever!

Firstly, whilst there are clear improvements to the game, it’s important to say that DeNA have not made drastic changes to the core 3-on-3 gameplay of PokĂ©mon Masters that has been there since launch. You’re still choosing combinations of Sync Pairs to make a team to go into battle; much of the alterations have been to the surrounding framework of the game. This is to say that, if you were particularly fond of or against the gameplay of PokĂ©mon Masters before this, the update won’t necessarily do much to alter that. However, if you perhaps thought that the game had potential not realised, this could be the time to jump back in.

Throughout this article, as I am going in-depth into some of the changes, I have included more videos than I do in some other articles to try and give you glimpses into the update. So, if intrigued, I recommend viewing them as you go along for extra clarity!

Right; one of the major changes is one that actually happened in the days leading up to the Anniversary, and whilst it may not be the change most prominent in the marketing, it is a very crucial one that directly affects how you play the game: the addition of Stamina. Every time you play certain matches (not all), it takes up part of your Stamina – this goes up to 999, and generally is taken in increments of 20 for each entry. Adding this in may seem at first to be a way to limit gameplay in the cynical way seen in many mobile games, and I am not going to say I am entirely in favour of a system that does have monetary transactions behind it. You get Stamina when you log in each day, and I have found I have plentiful amounts – but if you do run out, that is when the option to buy more intrudes.

On the other hand, I shall express my personal finding, which is that the addition of Stamina also has the opposite effect. See, arriving in tandem with it are Skip Tickets. These can be used to play out a battle instantly and automatically, sending you directly to the results screen. Your resources of Stamina are still used, but it allows you to cycle through the same battle multiple times at a faster pace. This gets you to rewards faster – and if this sounds as though it is short-cutting gameplay, then do not fret, as in order to be able to use a Skip Ticket on a battle you have to have not only completed it, but have finished with all 3 of your Sync Pairs not fainting; perhaps, you might say that you have to master (aha) the stage. In a way, the presence of Stamina provides a form of balance, making you more cautious about when and where you use your Stamina and Skip Tickets. The monetisation side is there, though, and again I shall emphasise that I do not welcome that.

An example of the new Stamina and Skip Ticket system in action is the recent New World Dilemma event that focused on Cynthia and Cyrus; by battling, you earned a currency that could be exchanged for rewards from a Prize Box (similar to the way the Scouts work for Sync Pairs), including unlocking further parts of the story. In this situation, the time investment of playing the same battle repeatedly to earn the currency is reduced significantly when you use Skip Tickets. It is a scenario that motivated me to play more of the game, because I knew that by using more of my Stamina and Skip Tickets I could get the prizes I am after without spending money.

With that context, now onto the additions for the Anniversary day itself. The reason why the game has EX added onto the name now – and that subsequent hashtag happened – is the new 6 EX Sync Pairs; previously, Sync Pairs each had a star rating from 1 to 5, but now particular pairs can go to the new 6 EX and get new outfits with that. The first Sync Pairs to get 6 EX are the following Kanto trainers and their PokĂ©mon: 6 EX Sygna Suit Leaf & Venusaur, Red & Charizard, and Blue & Blastoise, all being capable of Mega Evolution (only Mega Charizard X for this, not Mega Charizard Y). New Sync Moves, with more power and new animations, arrive with them. The visual spectacle is fantastic, and I hope more new 6 EX and/or Sygna Suit designs continue to be rolled out in the future. I mean, we recently got to witness Sygna Suit Cynthia & Kommo-O. That hair! Seeing these new appearances and lore continues the way that PokĂ©mon Masters excels at building on the PokĂ©mon franchise.

Furthermore, to continue the Kanto theme, a brand new feature – one that gets a comparable screen space to the Main Story in the Explore menu – is the Champion Stadium. This is an area where you face the Indigo Elite Four and Champion: Lorelei, Bruno, Agatha, Lance, and Blue. From battle to battle, you are required to use different Sync Pairs. Careful consideration of the type dynamics is crucial, especially on the Hard difficulty; on Normal, I found working through the battles relatively straightforward, but on Hard preparing the right team is a puzzle in of itself. It’s great to see the challenge being supplied for players, as well as rewards for different skill levels. This is a mode that is going to be added to, with the appearances of the PokĂ©mon League from different regions, an exciting prospect that provides longevity for the future.

Perhaps less prominent in the marketing is another new feature, Type Skills. These are new abilities that can be activated when your team of Sync Pairs is made up of Pairs of the same type, another new way to tailor your approach. It coincides with the way that DeNA have altered the Training Area, too. As well as the options that were there previously, such as the Level-Up area, there are new battles for getting items for unlocking Level Caps – which now go up to 125 – and the Type Skill of Sync Pairs. The Training Area is comprehensive, and a reliable way to get the items you need for your next personal target without needing to spend money on the game. Be prepared though, as these aren’t easy to complete!

At the moment, there are multiple ongoing events in PokĂ©mon Masters EX, including the latest one, the Grass-, Fire-, and Water-Type Egg Event where you can hatch Kanto starters Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. As well as this, the Training with Legends event offers up resources you can trade for other items, in a similar vein to the New World Dilemma event – it’s a Skip Ticket candidate! How about the immediate future, you ask? On September 9th, the new Family Ties story event arrives, revolving around characters from Alola: Lillie, Lusamine, and Gladion. The idea of them having to improve their co-operation as a team of Sync Pairs works wonderfully with their stories in Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. My prediction is that there shall soon be news of 6 EX Sygna Suit Lillie & Clefairy to go with this, considering the event and their appearance in the new cinematic trailer for PokĂ©mon Masters EX (see the video near the end of this post).

The variety of new features and refinements have an impressive balance of style and substance; there are the visual wows of the new outfits and Sync Moves, as well as an under-riding improvement to the game on a mechanical level with the Stamina/Skip Ticket system and other new features such as Type Skills. If one side or the other was not present, this could have been an underwhelming update, but as a combo it produces a cohesive overhaul that maintains the core appeal of the game. Key to success is that they keep up this frequency and quality of update; going on recent evidence, that is going to happen!

For me, there are no glaring weaknesses in the game or a particular area that needs more focus. As far as I am concerned, DeNA should put their attention on that which they are getting right, without falling into the trap of drifting towards the realm where some mobile games feel as though they are pressuring you into spending money.

I am confident that there is a bright future for PokĂ©mon Masters EX, as the people behind it seem to be aware of why the game works so well. Playing with the PokĂ©mon continuity is so fun – the game consistently makes me smile. DeNA seem to be leaning into this with the way the Champion Stadium is set up, the increasing frequency of 6 EX Sygna Suit designs, and the story content; the recent New World Dilemma and Summer Superstars events contained new lore on characters and new Sygna Suit and Seasonal designs. It’s great to see a developer responding to feedback in this way – consider me very excited about future possibilities.

There is so much potential for the avenues Pokémon Masters EX can go. The gameplay is reliably enjoyable, and the pace at which the game is adding to the foundations that have been built is very impressive. New updates have a distinct creativity and energy that have me excited to log into the game each day. The game, and the Anniversary update, are in my opinion a clear success!

Do you play PokĂ©mon Masters? What do you make of the changes and additions? Who would you be most excited to see a Sygna Suit for? Whoever thought up the idea of creating costumes inspired by PokĂ©mon is a genius. As for me, I’m going back to that 6 EX Sygna Suit Leaf Sync Pair Scout!

Seriously, though. That hashtag. How does that even happen?

My Ever-Changing Opinion on Trophies

I like collecting; both in reality, and in games, it gives me satisfaction, whether it be my physical library of games or my vinyl collection. So, platform-spanning systems such as Achievements or Trophies very much play into that; yet, it’s always a fascinating balance of whether I feel as though I’m going after them for fun, or for the acquisition of them itself – in which case, though, is the acquisition the fun? It’s a debate I continue to have internally, and a subject that has been discussed in a variety of ways elsewhere since their introduction approximately two generations ago, starting in the Xbox ecosystem. In this article, I am going to run through why my opinion on the topic is in such regular flux. At points the journey for them is incredibly rewarding, however at others it can be hollow and make me consider my priorities while gaming.

Why am I writing this now? Well, my recent ventures through the Resident Evil series – across both Switch and PlayStation 4 – have made me approach this with a new comparative perspective. Because of how Switch has no platform-cohesive Achievement-style system, but PS4 does, in the form of Trophies, I’ve inadvertently created a side-by-side test of how my play is affected in the series in those two different circumstances. On Switch, I made my way through the two Revelations games, focused on completing the campaigns, and where there were additional challenges to complete that I felt compelled to tackle, I went for them – for example, the awesome arcade-y, score-based Raid Modes. On the other hand, on PS4 I have had a great experience with Resident Evil 2 and 3 (the remakes), Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, and Resident Evil 6 (I have also started Resident Evil 0), with the awareness of Trophies always being there in the back of my mind. I’m not here to directly criticise either of the set-ups or platforms, but more to run through my thoughts on the two ways of going about it.


The Case For

Perhaps a significant reason why I am so into Trophies (I’m going to refer to Trophies in the service of conciseness, but be aware that I mean the overall concept of platform-spanning reward systems) is that they can act as a flag in the ground signifying the games you yourself personally really connect to. It’s tempting, but I soon realised that trying to go for all the Trophies in every game just isn’t a reasonable expectation; so, instead, I identify the games that I form a strong affinity for, and then set about getting that 100% and/or Platinum Trophy as an extension of my enjoyment of the game. Then, when other players scroll through my Trophy list, they can see those games and identify them as ones I regard very highly. It’s a way of giving back to the game, too.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Celebration on PS4 has a comprehensive Trophy list

An example is the modern Tomb Raider trilogy, amazing games with a wondrous sense of exploration that very much cater to my tastes. It takes considerable time to achieve the Platinum in those three entries; I have got the Platinum for the second and third games so far. Those games reward you for revisiting areas and taking your time finding all the secrets, which pairs so, so well with the nature of Trophies – there are specific ones for the story, collectibles, play styles, additional modes, and more. The Platinum for Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Celebration is one I decided to go for in the run-up to Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and I am really proud of achieving that. In this case, my motivation and subsequent prize for taking Trophies into account was intrinsically linked to how the game itself was suited to that process.

Along that vein, the way Trophies act as a barometer for you to compare and compete against your friends is great, and it is fun to scroll through the profiles of my friends and see which games they have played, and which they have the most Trophies in, as well as seeing how I stack up against them. It’s a friendly sort of competition that actively encourages you to try more games, encouraging discussion on the subject and getting more word out there about more games. Multiple times in PS4 party voice chat I have had fun conversations about our Trophy progress, the different games we have progression on and how we went about them. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a recent example, and adds an extra competitive element to a game without much depth of modes; Trophies are a feature in themselves. Furthermore, Resident Evil 3, my current Game of the Year, has a fantastic Trophy list which did this, and had a friend and I talking about the different tactics we were using.

That latter game is a brilliant example of how Trophy lists provide alternate challenges, leading to you finding joy from playing the game in different ways. Beyond the Trophies for completing the game on different difficulty settings, there are also ones for finishing the game without using the item box, in a certain amount of time, and more, altering my play style in repeat playthroughs and giving me new insights into details of the game. As a series, I have found that Resident Evil is consistently creative with the Trophy lists, often supplying these unique challenges for the player; completing the games without healing items, for example, is a frequent one that appears and makes you be more cautious.

Encouraging exploration and experimentation of gameplay works well when there are many possibilities, too, such as in scenarios with multiple different endings. Then, Trophies can act as additional incentive to see them all. I mean, Catherine: Full Body, which I have been playing – I’m now onto my second run – literally has a Trophy named “I’ve Seen It All” for viewing all the differing resolutions. Combined with the absorbing characters, I am very invested in following the various routes. Games that manage to smartly interweave Trophies into already-engrossing gameplay can give themselves more longevity, actively improving them as an overall package.

In that sense, after experiencing Trophies done so well in games such as Resident Evil 3, it does cause me to imagine the positive influence they could have on games on consoles that at this point do not have them. Let’s use Animal Crossing: New Horizons as an example: there could be rewards for various approaches to island design and the successful realisation of them, perhaps nudging people into trying styles they otherwise may not. There are already in-game trackers that reward you with Nook Miles, so how about if these were developed further within the framework of a Switch Achievement-style system? Or, is it maybe better as it is, not having them?


The Case Against

It’s a delicate task to achieve a harmony of game and Trophy list that compliment each other. My experience is that it can easily go the other way, where the additional routes opened up by Trophies can be a distracting aspect; I have previously fallen into the trap of spending more time with a game than I maybe should have. I’ll be clear: my personal traits affect this, as my collector side can veer into a habit of unlocking more and more in a game once I have started it. Despite perhaps not particularly enjoying a game, the idea of leaving it at a low percentage on my profile does affect me and puts me off the idea of immediately going towards a different game I may have a better time with. This isn’t really the fault of the concept of Trophies, but a documentation of how my mind can react to them. Due to this overplaying, there have been cases where Trophies have been an unwelcome distraction. I have evolved my mindset on this though, with my aforementioned renewed focus on going for Trophies in the games I find myself really connecting to.

Firewatch entices exploration with a rural park setting, but has no Platinum?!

Another way Trophies can actively harm my time with a game is when the lists aren’t well designed. For starters, games that don’t have Platinum Trophies, such as Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch, lack that glorious, resounding moment when the Platinum is unlocked. I don’t really understand why they are omitted in cases such as these – it seems a missed opportunity, and these are games that justify having that final reward. Further to this, on occasion a Trophy list can be over-designed and make playing more of the game seem more daunting than it may otherwise have. The Uncharted series is one that does this; after my first playthroughs, I tended to be around the 20-25% completion mark, and it left me with an underwhelming emotion. It’s far enough away that it puts me off working on collecting the rest, instead of making me feel as though I could press on and go for the Platinum. In contrast, when I play on Switch, much of this consideration fades away, leaving me to form an opinion on the game for the game itself, without an eye on the way it integrates into the platform.

That can be very freeing, taking away that layer of integration that crosses from the game to the console and/or platform. I’m not saying that Trophies have been a make or break feature for me when reviewing a game, but them not being there does – in a refreshing fashion – leave it solely up to the game to provide the entertainment, from which I decide how much of the game I play. So on Switch, for Resident Evil: Revelations and the sequel, Revelations 2, there is a separate sort of clarity about my continued playing that feels distinctly different to when I played other entries on PS4; in a slightly changed way, I am acutely aware of my investment in the characters, the story, and the gameplay. In addition, it is at the fore when I finish the campaigns and try, say, those Raid Modes present in each where, again, it is clear I am not playing them for the requirements of a Trophy list, but because I am having a brilliant time and the in-game rewards are there.

I mean, there are more pressing issues than Trophies

Again, I shall put emphasis on how this isn’t a criticism of Trophies, but a commentary of how my mind interacts with the presence of them. There are occasions where I wonder about how great they could be on other platforms; you could imagine that Nintendo would find an ingenious spin on them, too. Would I have played even more of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild if there were profile awards for, say, completing all the Shrines? Similarly, would I be more compelled to try all the different routes of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, or to go back and get all the collectibles in Paper Mario: The Origami King? It is possible. Nintendo has been superb at in-game progression – take the plethora of unlockables in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – but so far have not rolled out a system across a platform, and I am not sure if they ever will.


Right then, to wrap this up (it sorta became an accidental essay, didn’t it?), I am going to try and summarise my thoughts. This article has been a way of me putting the thoughts that run through my mind on the subject of Trophies down into words, and I appreciate you spending the time to follow them. Writing this has emphasised to me that it isn’t an incorrect avenue to either include Trophies or not – when they are there, though, the way different games go about implementing them makes a considerable difference to whether their implementation has a positive or negative effect. I have put down some examples for this in the article, but to go back to the Resident Evil case study, it is a series that excels at having plentiful challenges to give the games longevity, both in the game and in the Trophy lists. It is a series that other developers could do well to examine when going about their own lists.

As a person with the collecting spirit, Trophies have inherent appeal to me and shall continue to do so. However, it is crucial to not let them override the reason for playing the games in the first place; it shouldn’t become a compromise, where you are going for them at the expense of the game or vice versa. They certainly can improve the experience, and in that sense, maybe those who have resisted the addition of them, most notably Nintendo, should create their own system as there is potential. Either way, I am okay with the two differing directions, as the game is the priority. At the end of the day, it’s important to not let false perceptions of the reason you are doing an activity – be it gaming, or another part of your life – to get in the way of the reason you are there in the first place. In this case, that’s because games are, well, really awesome, aren’t they? That gratification of a Trophy being unlocked is the cherry on top.

Apply Respect and Reason to the Gaming Hype Cycle

The announcement of the Indie World presentation for Nintendo Switch (airing at 5pm UK time today, Tuesday 18th) and some of the discussion around it, has made me want to put down in words how I hope we can be more reasonable about the expectations we have of game companies. So bear with me for this – people reading this may well not be the ones making harsh demands online, but it is a message I would like to put out there into the world. Additionally, I’m not going to be calling people out or giving individual examples, as I think that just stokes more conflict and gives oxygen to negative thoughts.


It’s been a very unsettling year, and for many of us, various forms of entertainment have been an escape from that. What I am saying is that I realise we’re all yearning for that familiar structure of how we go about our lives, and in the specific gaming sense, for that cycle of hype reveal to game release. With no E3 this year, that fell apart, and led to companies going their own separate ways on how they revealed news about their games, additionally compounded by them being spaced out. I’m there with you; the lack of the closely-packed E3 presentations was keenly felt. Yet, we have to appreciate that we did get reveals, and it has been a great effort from the companies to give us moments such as the reveals of Horizon Forbidden West and Fable for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X respectively. It has been noticeable, though, that Nintendo has been rather quiet.

They have made announcements, for sure; but the format in which they have happened have been markedly different from the way Nintendo has revealed new games in recent years. Paper Mario: The Origami King was suddenly announced via an online press release, with a trailer that – to me – seemed to be ripped out of an E3 video presentation, and we have recently been informed about the upcoming Pikmin 3 Deluxe through the same method. There has been a Nintendo Direct Mini, a Nintendo Treehouse Live, but no production of the style you would have – in that pre-COVID-19 world – expected from them around June-time this year. Of course, this is understandable, as a company as secretive and traditional as Nintendo would, you imagine, be facing many obstacles in this new world of working-from-home and compromised manufacturing processes. It is understandable, yet, the demands and criticism I see online about getting those game announcements are, at times, far from considerate to the situation.

So here is my request. Today, Tuesday 18th, there is an Indie World broadcast. No, it isn’t a Nintendo Direct, and there isn’t going to be news about Metroid Prime 4 or the sequel to Breath of the Wild. That may seem an obvious statement, but from comments I see online about events such as this, some people don’t seem to comprehend the context around the differing video presentations Nintendo puts out. However, there will be news about a bunch of independently-developed games, and I am confident there is going to be several in there that I – and you – are going to be excited about. These are probably going to have development teams with less people than games from, say, Ubisoft or EA, creating awesome, creative pieces of interactive art for you to play and get enjoyment from. Realise that, respect that, and bring an open mind, knowing that those first-party games you’re excited for reveals about? They’re almost certainly going to arrive, but in the meantime there are even more games to surprise you.

Yes, it’s a business, but it’s a business of joyous interactive experiences, and let’s all just be more considerate of the people that are behind it. Shouting about not getting that first-party reveal you’re excited about, and angrily exclaiming about it not having happened yet, isn’t productive and is a disservice to the content they are putting in front of you today. You’re allowed to be disappointed about the relative lack of currently-known upcoming Nintendo first-party games, but there is a way to express that that isn’t hurtful to others. It’s about managing expectations; an Indie World video is clearly not the place for those first-party games, but in contrast, it’ll let us know that when we do get a Nintendo Direct announcement, that is going to be the platform for those.

That is my hope! Also, to change track a bit, if you asked me for hopes for the Indies World itself? I would be excited to see more of CrisTales, which I enjoyed playing at EGX last year, and a surprise collaboration in the style of Cadence of Hyrule could be fun! A prediction I shall make is that my list of games to play is going to get even more extensive, haha!

My intention here is not to lecture, but just to offer my opinion on how the gaming community can be a more positive environment. Have a great day!

My Top Ten Films of 2019: #5-#1

It’s happening. I’m actually getting My Top Ten Films up to date (for now) with my five favourite films of 2019 (you can click here for #10-#6!). Take a read of my opinions below! As usual, I shall clarify; this is going by UK release date, so a film such as Vice counts for 2019. Here we go…


#5: Marriage Story

At #5 is a film you have to emotionally prepare yourself to watch. Marriage Story is about the divorce of Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and all the agonising stress it brings. As a concept, that could sound an uncomfortable situation to invest yourself into, yet the rawness of the narrative being told and the complex dynamics between characters absorb you in. The two leads do an amazing job at balancing being both endearing and infuriating, both to each other and to us. Of the two I would say the film puts slightly more of a focus on Driver, who for me should have won the Oscar for Performance by an actor in a leading role. Both Nicole and Charlie have so many factors that have led to where they are now, and Marriage Story ensures that we see both of the multi-faceted sides, ensuring it isn’t as simple as one side being completely at fault. If you have witnessed or even been involved in those horrible family arguments where honest yet unmeant remarks are thrown back and forth, you may recognise that in the scenes here; don’t underestimate how difficult it is to create that on film, the sense of people who have cared so much for each other having their relationship break down in such a way. Director Noah Baumbach accentuates this with a slightly sepia, warm, traditional appearance, visually matching the richness and intensity of the subject matter – it’s as though you haven’t time to breathe, reflecting the way this dispute is taking over their lives. Find a few hours to really sink into this film; it’s intense, but also very rewarding viewing.


#4: Joker

Joaquin Phoenix is a showstopper as Arthur Fleck in this origin story for the Joker, directed by Todd Phillips. I know I just mentioned that for me Adam Driver should have won the Oscar – an Oscar which Phoenix won for Joker – but I do slightly prefer this as an overall film. A standalone tale (at least for now) this is a powerful message about how society can affect people and turn them into beings capable of horrific acts. We follow Arthur, who lives in Gotham, as he balances being a working clown performer with his personal aspirations to be a stand-up comedian. With the world seeming to conspire to knock him down, you can empathise with him; he loses income when he is fired; he has his idol shame him on live TV; and his mother is suffering with her health. However, when he then responds in violent and unsettling ways, you can’t justify those actions, bringing a conflict to the way you view him and his changing persona. This is a film with shock value, but I disagree with a lot of the criticism about the content of the scenes – it is refreshing when a film such as this really challenges you to make your own mind up about whether you agree or disagree with that which you are watching, and that can serve as a valuable warning about the real world. In the lead role, Phoenix is undoubtedly phenomenal in reflecting that complex duality, and the Taxi Driver-esque production and themes wrap this up into a hard-hitting, masterful adaptation of the well-known character.


#3: Earthquake Bird

This film is SO underrated! Available on Netflix, I saw this film at the London Film Festival in 2019 where it was – of the films I saw there – my favourite. There is so much about it that drew me in to the story it tells (based off of the novel of the same name by Susanna Jones); a crucial factor is the brilliant Alicia Vikander in the lead role of Lucy Fly, an English woman who now works as a translator in Tokyo in 1989 after living in Japan for 5 years. Earthquake Bird begins with her being brought in for questioning about the missing Lily Bridges (Riley Keough), and then the film shows the lead-up to this – immediately a fascinating film structure. In these past events, Lucy meets the mysterious photographer Teiji Matsuda, who has an obsessive fixation on her. They form a relationship, one that is made more complex by the introduction of Lily, who is outspoken and flirtatious in contrast to the smartly-dressed, more reserved Lucy, contributing to her sense of paranoia – a sense the film emphasises with clever tricks of cinematography. A psychological thriller unlike any other that I have seen, it doesn’t delve into exaggeration, instead allowing the wonderfully understated performances and the intelligent scene compositions to create a world of irresistible intrigue. It gradually builds the noticeable under-riding tension until it reaches a boiling point at which secrets, past and present, are uncovered, unveiling sides to characters that you may or may not have suspected were there under the surface. Alicia Vikander learned Japanese for this role, and the way she masters the ability to be fluent – very important for embodying this character – is stunning. One scene in particular late on is a demonstration of this, where the camera is close-up on her for an extraordinary one-shot of her describing an event from her past. Director Wash Westmoreland has this wonderful knack for constructing a quietly poignant atmosphere in his films that makes them intriguing without shouting about it (see: Colette). With the visual wonders of the Japan setting, this goes to a new level; tranquil rural areas punctuated by the click of a camera, the enclosed Tokyo streets ferociously stricken by rain, continuing on to the soundtrack and the way Japanese style is incorporated with the delicate vocals. Earthquake Bird is enigmatic and engrossing in a way I’ve never experienced before.


#2: Little Women

Released on Boxing Day, Little Women managed to impress me so much it took the #2 spot for my 2019 list from Earthquake Bird! Greta Gerwig is an amazing talent, following up Lady Bird (#4 on my 2018 list) with this modern version of Little Women, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott (there was another film version back in 1994). This film follows the diverging and converging paths of the female members of the March family throughout their lives, led by that of Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), and including her three sisters Amy (Florence Pugh), Meg (Emma Watson), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen). All of their separate plot and character threads are intelligently thought out, simultaneously interweaving with each other to create a really authentic feel in the detailed 19th-Century Massachusetts setting – this film deservedly won the Oscar for Achievement in costume design. I have always been someone who is drawn to stories with high quality character development, and this film supplies so much of that; the growth of the sisters, and their subsequent actions, drive the film forward, also providing an important message about equality. The interactions of Jo March and childhood friend Laurie (TimothĂ©e Chamolet) particularly stand out as a demonstration of how real life can play out away from the fairytale idea and yet be just as, if not more, happy – and the performances those two bring are rich in the complexities we have seen in the lives of those characters. There is an inherent truthfulness to how we see these lives progress, showing that we can strive for traditional ideals whilst still being our own distinct selves. This film releasing on Boxing Day was a brilliant decision, as it is a film you can wrap yourself up in. At any time of year, this is a masterpiece, and there being a film I have placed above it in this list is a testament to how incredible 2019 is for films.


#1: Eighth Grade

My Top Film of 2019 is Eighth Grade, and if I were to make a top ten films of the decade, it’d be high on that list as well (maybe I should do that list at some point)! Another film that, in comparison to other films in 2019, isn’t talked about as much (Avengers: Endgame was released the next day in the UK), this film shows the trials and emotions of that delicate adolescent part of our lives in an utterly unique and real way. Eighth Grade focuses on Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) a teenage girl in her final year before high school; she isn’t particularly popular or unpopular, being in that position of trying to find her confidence as she weaves through the different ways you try to fit in, such as the terrifying idea of going to parties with people you don’t know well, or the joy of being invited to go to the mall. The way this film demonstrates the stress caused by these developments is varied and creative, making honest, uncomfortable scenes supremely watchable. Soundtrack and shot choices are part of this, with strikingly unique music by Anna Meredith and spectacular vision by writer/director Bo Burnham. Kayla’s father Mark (Josh Hamilton) is balancing on that tightrope of bring overbearing and caring as his daughter is growing up, and this dynamic brings incredibly emotional scenes – one in particular is an honest and heartfelt commentary on family dynamics that brought me to tears in the cinema. Even when the film could go for the more generic emotional crescendo, it instead has an impactful and natural scene of character development that is so much more satisfying. Additionally, an often ironic and self-referential sense of humour is there when appropriate to break up the scenes. I have never seen this balance of brutal honesty and endearing interaction in the coming-of-age-teen-drama genre before, and combined with the creative methods of showing the emotions of scenes, it makes for a film that has made me view other films in a different way and hold them to a higher standard. Eighth Grade is the best film of 2019!


There it is; my Top Ten for 2019. I have caught up! I did it! I have a provisional list for the year of 2020 so far, though there are several months left until that is set. Have a great day!