Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

If 2019’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a file-the-serial-numbers-off remake of 1997’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, then this year’s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is designed to resemble 1989’s Castlevania III and similar late NES games like Shatterhand, Ninja Gaiden III, and Vice: Project Doom (all three of which coincidentally came out in 1991), though it uses 2020 technology to do so. Some people call a game of this sort a “demake”, which I think is a better description than the muddily-defined “retro”.

There’s a 2 in the title, though this website was on indefinite hiatus when the first one came out, or I would have given it an average review. But where the first Curse of the Moon was a puny appetizer to keep your stomach from gurgling while you waited for the Ritual of the Night main course, this one feels like a more hefty and satisfying game of its own, something I would enjoy even if separated from Ritual of the Night. It has a bigger budget, better playable character, and better-designed levels than the first demake.

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Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Indie Games That Don't Suck, Metroidvania, Platformer, Video Gaming | 5 Comments

Leviathan’s War

CoverMy new book is out. Available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Posted in Books and Short Stories | 1 Comment

Dark Souls III

dark souls iii wallpaperDark Souls III

I wrote two articles on the first Dark Souls game in 2012. I’ve become a better gamer and better writer since then, so I hope I can articulate why I enjoy this game. In this review, I will mostly compare and contrast Dark Souls III to previous games in the series (I’ve not played Bloodborne, and only played Demon’s Souls a small amount). But if you are unfamiliar with the other games in the Souls series, this review should still be comprehensible and enjoyable.

The appeal of the Dark Souls games is that they are challenging and rewarding. The people playing the Dark Souls games, though, will offer differing opinions on the details. Are severe punishments for death a suitable challenge or an irritant? How much randomness and customization should be allowed in combat? How much value should be given to each stat? Is the riposting system a fine prize for dedicated players who memorize enemy movements or unnecessary trial-and-error tedium? Are groups of enemies too overwhelming or are they a death-defying challenge?

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Posted in Metroidvania, Third-Person, This isn't just a video game this is ART you wouldn't understand it you plebian filth, Video Gaming | 14 Comments

Flying, Hiding (short story)

Flying, Hiding

Copyright 2016 Lee Laughead

Chapter 1

“Meyna, for your first day of training, you need to light this candle,” Master Colican said.

Meyna moved to get a flint and steel, but her master pushed her on the shoulder back down onto her wooden stool.

“Not like that. You’re going to stay in this room without any food and water until you make the candle light itself.”

“Master,” Meyna said, “I have no power. I don’t know how to start a fire.”

“I would not have taken you as an apprentice if you didn’t have power. And every apprentice I’ve had the past forty years has started with this lesson. I started with this lesson when I was a child. So relax, there’s very little chance of you dying at this stage.”

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Posted in Books and Short Stories, Not Video Gaming | Leave a comment

Persona Q owns

All images shamelessly stolen from Google Image Search because my 3DS doesn't have a "take screenshot" button.

All images shamelessly stolen from Google Image Search because my 3DS doesn’t have a “take screenshot” button.

Persona Q owns

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a 2014 dungeon crawler for the 3DS that combines the best aspects of the Persona and the Etrian Odyssey series. It’s a good game.

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Posted in Animu, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, RPG or thereabouts, Video Gaming | 5 Comments

Sentinels of the Multiverse

sentinels_of_the_multiverse_coverSentinels of the Multiverse

I played both the card game and the Android versions of this game. Though they have the exact same ruleset, they are different enough experiences for it to be worth noting. This review will cover both.

Sentinels of the Multiverse (probably so named because Guardians of the Galaxy was already taken) is a non-collectible card game in which the players cooperate against a villain whose actions are automatic. There is a whole host of heroes, villains, and environments to choose from, making for nearly endless combinations to ensure Sentinels of the Multiverse stays fresh even after hundreds of games.

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Posted in Android, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Indie Games That Don't Suck, Online Gaming, Puzzle, Video Gaming | 1 Comment

Odallus: The Dark Call



Odallus: The Dark Call

Odallus: The Dark Call is a 2015 2D action game by Joymasher. It is inspired by Castlevania III, Ghosts & Goblins, Rastan, and Faxanadu. It’s as good or better than the games that inspired it. OK, it’s not as good as Castlevania III, but it’s better than those other ones.

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Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Metroidvania, Platformer, Video Gaming | 2 Comments

How to Fix MOBAs and How Blizzard Already Did It

How to Fix MOBAs and How Blizzard Already Did It

Pictured: Average MOBA player

Why are MOBA players such titantic pricks? MOBAs are still gigantically popular despite being frustrating to play and despite their objectively horrible communities. Somehow they manage to keep attracting new players despite being famously obtuse and non newbie friendly. There is a reason for all of this, and the way to fix it is simpler than you think. No, the answer is not to burn their communities to the ground, as cathartic as that would be.

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Posted in League of Legends, Online Gaming, Pay-to-Win, Video Gaming | Leave a comment

A Review of The Final Specimen


Not a kusoge, I promise.

A Review of The Final Specimen

I received a free copy of this game in exchange for writing this review. It’s cool, though; I told the author that I would only accept it under the condition that I could badmouth the game if I felt like it.


The Final Specimen is a simple PC platformer designed to resemble the weirdy-beardy freeware and shareware games of the early-mid 1990s. In this it succeeds. As an actual good game, my feelings are mixed, though mostly positive.

The game consists of eight levels of running to the right, throwing bombs, and fighting puzzle bosses. The layouts of the levels are always varied enough to never become tedious. Unfortunately, there is no save option, so you have to beat the game in one go. I expected the controls to be awful, but they were surprisingly smooth and effective. I could always make my on-screen avatar move wherever I wanted him to, which is more than I could say about The Witcher III: Wild Hunt.

I didn’t know there was a market for throwback shareware PC platformers. But if you’ve already scoured every abandonware site for platformers and you want more, this game is for you.


The Final Specimen has nine long levels but each one has enough design and visual difference that the game never gets boring. In tune with the nonsensical plot, none of the levels have any cohesion or rational existence for their gimmicks: One level is a fast food restaurant with flying food and burning stoves, another level is a haunted forest full of ghosts and possessed trees, and even the first level is a series of tubes followed by a free-fall through the atmosphere. Their lack of similarity is actually a point in the game’s favor; the level variety here is reminiscent of a far easier Battletoads.

As mentioned previously, each boss is a puzzle that (aside from the first level’s boss) has a vulnerability that is not readily apparent. You have a supply of bombs for each boss, but most of them just shrug them off unless you meet certain conditions. Against easier bosses, a player can usually discover the weakness fairly quickly, but they grow steadily harder as the game goes on. If you still think the game is too easy, there’s a hard mode that reduces your stock of lives. I’d love a boss rush option, though, as the bosses were the definite highlight of the game.


There are some downsides to The Final Specimen. The game is long and every level is long, so despite the varied environments I sometimes felt myself wishing the level would be over so I could get to the next boss. Some players will be turned off by the visuals, the “classic” gameplay, and the lack of save feature. But there’s enough good stuff to make it worth the ten bucks I didn’t have to pay for it.

The aesthetics and plot have that sort of benignly weird early-Weird-Al feel to them. Mercifully, it never devolves into MONKEY CHEESE RANDOM idiocy. The visuals look like they were done in MS Paint, but at least everything was designed by someone with some artistic experience. (I thought of trolling the creator of this game by making all of the images in this article from Moraff’s World, but he was too nice to me for me to do that.) The result is not ugliness but a lo-fi mixture of odd but pleasing colors. I also enjoyed the music, really enjoyed it, enough to give the creator money for it.

The Final Specimen is a strange game that fills a highly specific niche. I did play lots of games of this sort in the nineties, and I appreciate the throwback, but the game does stand on its own merits. Give it a shot. It even has a demo.

Posted in Commissioned, LEE YOU SOLD OUT I'M NEVER COMING BACK HERE AGAIN, Platformer, Video Gaming | Leave a comment

The Lament of the Vanishing Game

It's happened to other media and it's happening to games.

It’s happened to other media and it’s happening to games.

The Lament of the Vanishing Game

Not every article of media gets properly preserved. There are all sorts of movies, TV shows, and books thought to be gone forever. If we are fortunate, they may be rediscovered, but it’s unlikely. But what about video game preservation?

One can copy electronic data infinitely, which should make storage and distribution of video games an easy thing, especially for older games whose file sizes are tiny by modern standards. Yet a game can have proprietary hardware that makes it difficult or impossible to emulate, or it may have had an extremely limited run, or it may have an online-only component that will cease to exist in the future. This last point is my main area of concern.

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Posted in MMO, Online Gaming, Video Gaming | 1 Comment