Month In Review: December

I hope, if you’re reading this, that you had a wonderful festive period and are preparing for a lovely start to 2021. I can’t really say anything that other people haven’t already said about this year- it was strange, miserable, challenging and frustrating. Although I don’t think all of our problems are going to magically disappear in 2021, it is nice to have a new start to look forward to, even if, in reality, we’re going to wake up tomorrow in the same position we’re in now. It’s funny, isn’t it, how these human-invented dates mean so much to our mental state?

December has gone by in a blur, and I haven’t managed to do all the things I planned. That said, I’ve had a fairly good time, despite the world.

December In Review

I finished The Mandalorian, and it was so good. I won’t post spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you absolutely must. The last episode was awesome.

Black Narcissus on the BBC was moody, gothic, strange and unsettling. If you didn’t catch it, it’s definitely worth a watch.

I’ve become a bit obsessed with true crime this year. Like many people, I’m sort of fascinated by serial killers and their motivations. The Ripper on Netflix is very interesting if you, too, share a interest in this sort of thing.

I picked up Crash 4 in the sale just after Christmas and I am enjoying it a lot, although it is really, really hard (or maybe I’m just not good at it!). I’ve still got quite a lot of it to play- it is taking me ages as I keep dying.

Happiest of new years to you!

Month In Review: November

November went so, so quickly. In a year which has occasionally felt as though time has been going twice as slowly as usual, this felt odd, yet we’re here at the end of 2020 finally.

I haven’t been at the top of my game in November in really any way at all. However, here is a recap of stuff that’s been occurring.

The Mandalorian

God, Mandalorian is so, so good. I am obsessed with Baby Yoda (the lil guy has a name now, but I shan’t spoil it) and the whole Western/Samurai vibe of the show is amazing.

Walking Dead: The World Beyond

This is set many, many years after the original series and follows the adventures of teenagers in the apocalypse. It was fine- I watched the first series in a big clump, and it was definitely better towards the end. As with the other Walking Dead series, I found the pacing too slow at times.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra

I am reading the current singles of this and it is really, really good, like queer Indiana Jones in space.

Good Girls Die First

The premise of this was really interesting- a bunch of teens are blackmailed to go to an abandoned pier and then they start dying. The ending was weird and disappointing, but I still mostly enjoyed this.

Things I Played

I am currently replaying Marvel’s Spider-Man before getting my hands on the Miles Morales sequel. It’s a powerfully good game for sure.

Other Stuff

I got my 2021 diary and I am so hugely excited for next year.

Looking Forward

I am going to spend December watching Christmas films and wearing glitter.

Video Games Consoles I Own (And Ones I Really Wish I Did)

I just like collecting consoles and games. I probably like collecting them more than I like playing them.

Consoles I Own

PS4

My favourite console ever I think. I absolutely love my PS4. It’s the console that gets the most use by far.

Xbox One

I am very guilty of not using this as much as the PS4. In fact, I’ve cancelled my Xbox Live subscription. It’s nice, but I don’t think it’s as fast as the PS4, and I think mine struggles a bit with age.

Xbox 360

I have had about six of these and always seem to end up with one in my possession. The current one isn’t plugged in, just sat in a bag beside my TV. I should probably plug it in- I could go for a Mass Effect replay.

Playstation 2

Also not plugged in at the minute. I honestly haven’t played this very much. I need to get on it.

Wii

I love Wii Fit but don’t use this for much else. I really need to get some more games for it.

Nintendo 3DS

Amazing console, although sadly slightly ignored since I got the Switch. I love Phoenix Wright on the 3DS.

PS Vita

I mostly got this for playing otome games on. It is such a cute little console. The games are quite expensive and hard to get hold of, though.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch is amazing, obviously. Animal Crossing is life.

Gaming PC

This one doesn’t really count but… I love it so much.

Consoles I Want

PSP

I have a Vita but I feel like the PSP has a great game library. Plus, the pink one is super cute. I’ve been pricing these up a lot recently and I’m very tempted to pick one up. There still seems to be a lot of games available second hand, and for much cheaper than the Vita games tend to be.

Gameboy Color

Oh, the throwback. I’m fairly sure I did have one back in the day. I’d love to enjoy those old Pokemon games again.

GBA

I don’t think I ever had one of these, but aren’t they super cute?

Wii U

I really, really want a Wii U. I know they’re a bit weird, but I just love them. Any sort of weird gimmick in a console sells it to me.

In conclusion, I have far too many consoles- I probably shouldn’t buy any more.

But I probably will.

July 2020

This year is such a blur. I imagine everyone feels exactly the same way about it as I do. It’s almost time to get the Halloween decorations out! It’s almost… dare I say it… Christmas. With some restrictions easing up in my part of the world, I’ve had a slightly more interesting month than last month, but life is still far from back to normal. I don’t love having to plan ahead in such detail to go out.

Things I Watched

Spaced
I missed Spaced the first time around because I was, well, a tiny child. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely hilarious and feels like a very specific moment in time captured.

Onward
I’m not as into Disney/Pixar films as a lot of people; I think I just didn’t watch enough as a child, so it isn’t a part of my life in the way it is for other folks. That said, Onward was adorable and very worth a watch.

Bad Times At The El Royale
This wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was awesome- really entertaining, very slick, very well-written. A great film.

Things I Read

Happy Fat- Sofie Hagen
I love Sofie, and this is such an affirming, amazing book. I mentioned it last month and just finished the audiobook this month.

The Last- Hanna Jameson
I’m planning on writing a proper book review of this one, but I adored it. One of my best reads of the year. If you’re into post-apocalyptic settings, this is definitely worth a read.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper- Hallie Rubenhold
A really interesting non-fiction book about the lives of the victims of Jack the Ripper. If you’re interested in this period of history, it’s a fascinating read. I loved how this book disproved the myths around these women.

Things I Played

I am still on my Animal Crossing binge. I have also been dipping my toes in the mobile otome game Obey Me but I’m not sold on it yet.

Other Stuff

I have been really getting into walking, and just generally being outside. I spent years of my life thinking that I hated being outdoors, but it seems I was wrong. I have even bought a bike.

Looking Forward

I’m off work until September, so August is going to be about relaxing, catching up with friends, working on some projects and generally having a nice time.

Ranking My Animal Crossing Islanders

Two Animal Crossing posts in a row? On my blog? It’s more likely than you think.

I have finally managed to get my full dream team together on Luna, my lil Animal Crossing island. I feel like it has taken me way longer than other people to get my AC island sorted, in part because I started later and in part because I am well lazy. I am still paving the damn place and I owe Tom Nook a lot of money still (a situation which is not wildly dissimilar from my actual life, in which I need to sort out my yard and pay off my mortgage). Despite this, I have managed to get ten amazing islanders, and I love them all.

Some people are Team Dom, Team Marshall or Team Raymond, but I do not care for these popular cuties. Instead, please find my ranked list of my islanders, and know that I love them all- just not equally, otherwise it wouldn’t be ranked.

10. Olaf

I can’t explain what I like about Olaf. He dresses a bit like a bullfighter, and he is fairly strange to look at. He is haughty and really stands out as different from the general vibe of the island. His hairstyle is great, though. He looks hilarious in glasses, too.

9. Norma

She frequently gives me gifts and has a real ‘drunk aunt at the party’ vibe I’m all about. A bit weird, but always nice.

8. Gonzo

This old man is constantly complaining about being old and looks amazing in a variety of hats. I like to imagine he brings some much-needed maturity to the island. I think Mint has a bit of a crush on him, too, so he’s clearly the George Clooney of Luna.

7. Al

Al is, without a doubt, the islander I have who is most hated by other players. I have seen him on several lists of the worst characters, and I think that, although he is strange looking and has strange banter, he is indeed sort of charming.

6. Pietro

This lad. What is his whole thing? Why does he dress like this? I love him.

5. Ketchup

This absolute babe looks inexplicably like an adorable tomato. Absolute cutie. That fringe would look dreadful on anyone else and you know it.

4. Molly

Absolute queen- she is adorable and loves to read. We stan a literate cutie. Her whole vibe is very cottagecore and I am here for it.

3. Mint

Not going to lie, I think Mint is a bit of a Karen. She has started calling me ‘hun’ which only cements my theory. That said, she is always very pleasant to me (although I imagine she often goes to complain to Tom Nook) and frequently wears the clothes I give her.

2. Muffy

This goth sheep is absolute goals. Her whole look is iconic and she is a friendly queen. I don’t know if I want to be her friend or if I just want to be her.

  1. Peanut

The ultimate. The pinnacle. The angel. Peanut is always delighted, always delightful and exceedingly cute. I love her so much. I want her zest for life injected into my veins.

Rejected: My Animal Crossing Islanders Who Didn’t Make The Cut

Not all islanders in Animal Crossing: New Horizons are made equal. Some are adorable, delightful little critters who fill your heart with joy and love. Some are… well… some are more like this little thing:

Hazel, girl, those eyebrows are not on fleek

Three of my islanders have sadly moved onto better (or at least different) pastures after more cute ones offered to take their places. Sorry, guys.

Jitters

Of my three casualties, Jitters is the one I feel most guilty about. A fairly sweet and kind fellow, but his eyes… I mean, this kid has clearly seen some stuff. 3/10, cannot stand to look into the void every time I make eye contact with the guy living in the house next to me.

Rocket

Fairly sweet and pleasant, but also just terrifying. What is this look? Why is she wearing goggles? What is she planning? 2/10 for being sinister.

Rocco

This guy would kill me, 100%. He lived in a sort of factory, was constantly miserable and definitely had murder in his eyes. -10/10, literally the worst.

June 2020

I cannot believe we are halfway through this year. The whole Covid thing has meant that I (and, let’s be honest, millions of other people) have spent months inside. It is absolutely baffling to me how this year feels both extremely long and terrifyingly short.

Anyway! June! I turned 30, so that is the biggest thing really. I had a wonderful time actually, all things considered. I ate lots of good food and drank lots of alcohol.

Things I Watched

Bob’s Burgers
I’ve been watching Bob’s Burgers for months, and I’ve just finished Season 9. (Season 10 is on Prime but it’s not free, so I’m going to pay at some point to watch the rest.) It is up there with my favourite animated shows ever. It is so funny and sweet and well-written.

Look Who’s Back
A truly bizarre German film about what might happen if Hitler suddenly woke up in modern Berlin. I enjoyed this immensely, and it was surprisingly emotive.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
I love Eurovision. This comedy was okay! It was a bit long and silly, but worth a watch.

Things I Read

The Zombie War: Battle for Britain by Tom Holroyd
I listened to this on Audible and it was so good. If you enjoyed World War Z, you’ll love this. A really great read.

Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen
I’m still reading this at the minute but it is brilliant. Absolutely wonderful.

Things I Played

Grand Theft Auto V
In a classic Cole move, rather than playing one of my enormous backlog of games, I have decided to restart GTA V. I love the characters and think the story is surprisingly touching. The writing is hilarious and I just love it.

Other Stuff

For my birthday, I treated myself to a Razer keyboard, and it is honestly amazing. Possibly a fairly tragic thing to be excited about, but I love the way the keys clack.

I have been gardening! I’m fairly sure that my flowers are dying, but I’m crossing my fingers.

Looking Forward

July is CampNaNoWriMo, and I’m hoping to finish the novel I started (and failed to complete) in April. I’m also going to be starting my challenge of walking one million steps for Diabetes UK, so I’m looking forward to getting outside a bit more.

First Impressions: Later Daters

Later Daters has been on my radar for a while. In fact, I’ve had it on my Switch wishlist for a bit. The game isn’t finished yet, which was partly the reason why I hadn’t gone for it, but also I’ve got a million games half-finished.

I had £3.50 worth of points on Nintendo after buying Animal Crossing (also, can we talk about how this system slaps? Nintendo games tend to be expensive but I love having money off other games) which was about half the price of Later Daters. So, I finally bought it.

The first thing that struck me about Later Daters is the ridiculously catchy theme song. It has been stuck in my head for two days, and it is a banger.

The game is a dating sim in which you play as an older person moving to sheltered accommodation. There are three looks you can choose from, and you can name your old person. You can also choose their backstory.

What is amazing about Later Daters is how inclusive it is; the characters have a range of races, gender identities and sexualities; there is representation of an HIV positive character and polyamory. So far, all of the characters I have encountered have been positive about this (although bigoted views of other people have been referenced). There is something very pleasant and nice about bumbling about with these open-minded old people.

The writing is zesty and fun, and the characters are rich and entertaining. So far, I’ve managed to get several people to go on a date with Cynthia, my character, and I’m absolutely looking forward to whatever happens next. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes dating sims.

First Impressions: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

My sister has been obsessed with Animal Crossing for years. She played New Leaf to death on the 3DS. I never really saw the appeal. I can’t explain why; I think maybe the slightly creepy animal pals weren’t doing it for me. It was something I was aware of- people are obsessed with Animal Crossing, but it had largely stayed out of my radar.

I’ve had a Switch since launch, pretty much. I have my other consoles and my PC for the more shooty games, and my Switch is largely used for Mario Kart and Stardew Valley. The latter was something I also really struggled to get into, but I am now sinking serious time into my little pixel farm.

When my sister got her Switch a couple of weeks ago, it was with the express intention of playing the new Animal Crossing. Needless to say, she nagged me into buying it, which I reluctantly did (can we talk about how new video games are £50?! I need to build up mentally to that sort of purchase).

Anyway, I am now obsessed.

I still don’t quite know what I’m doing- I’m bumbling around my little island, Luna, hitting trees until logs fall out and occasionally getting stung in the eye by wasps. Tom Nook seems to be running some sort of dodgy tax haven and I’m joined in my tropical paradise by a gorilla wearing a pink tracksuit and a bird that is obsessed with exercise (at least I think it’s a bird).

What is the point of Animal Crossing? I don’t really know. It might be to make beautiful houses; I keep seeing people’s gorgeous abodes on Twitter, but mine is currently a shed filled with pairs of shoes and cardboard boxes. It might be to fish, but honestly, that mini game is fun in exactly zero percent of video games. I think it might have something to do with a dog who is a musician.

What matters, I suppose, is that the game is soothing and fun. I like having a tiny quest (collect 30 bits of wood! Craft a fishing rod! Pick a place to build this shop!) and feeling able to accomplish it. The game is satisfying in a small, solid way.

Right now, my island is chaos, but I’m having an excellent time.

Video Game Review: Until Dawn

If you play a lot of games and own a PS4, PS Now is a great investment. There are loads of interesting games on there that I probably wouldn’t otherwise pay for, but get to try as part of my subscription to the service.

Until Dawn was one such game. I love horror films- I collect B movies and consider myself a huge fan of the genre- but I cannot cope with horror games. They freak me out too much. I managed to painstakingly limp my way through the Resident Evil REMake and Resident Evil Zero a few years back, but beyond that, anything even vaguely scary is beyond my ability to deal with.

I had been aware of Until Dawn for some time; I love a choice-based, heavy narrative game. Until Dawn is a wonderful homage to a genre I adore. However, my intense fear of horror games put me off paying for it.

The game itself has multiple protagonists: various teenage stereotypes who have that occasionally clunky feel of having been written by adults who don’t really get teenagers. They are also all terrible and I despised them all at the beginning. I couldn’t wait for them to start dying. After a couple of hours of trying to steer the dafties away from danger, however, I was rooting for their survival.

Keeping them alive is easier said than done- they can all die, and seemingly arbitrary choices can mean the difference between life and death for these pixelated cliches. (I kept all of them alive, miraculously, and there was a real satisfaction in that.)

The story itself is sort of predictable, but pleasantly twisty and interesting. It moves along at a steady pace and changes things up often enough to stave off boredom. It’s a relatively short game, too.

Is it terrifying? Yes, it is. There are millions of jump scares in it. (Slight hyperbole.) If you have been avoiding it because it seems frightening, then probably keep avoiding it. For me, it was charming and funny enough to get me through the absolute horror of some (frankly very cheap) jump scares.

The game feels very “Telltale”- it’s that narrative based adventure style where you “do” relatively little. There are a whole bunch of quick time events here. I don’t hate them, but I know a lot of people do. The choices feel meaningful and there are a bunch of interesting clues to collect about the lore and history of the spooky mountain setting.

I’d recommend this one, especially if you play it with company.