Another surprise release from Microsoft, this time the long-awaited GoldenEye 007 for Xbox - free with Game Pass or if you purchased Rare Replay on digital. We've been hearing about this for more than a decade, but you should know it's an upconversion and not the remaster that almost happened back in 2008. If you want online multiplayer, you'll need to get it on Switch (part of the deal that Nintendo negotiated for its release, no doubt).

If you just want the nostalgia tour, there's a lot here - though it doesn't look especially good, and aiming is iffier than I remember. I also forgot much of this game since I played it on Nintendo 64 back in the day.

It took me several minutes to figure out how to invert look, and I accidentally killed my ally at the end of my run, forcing a quick and painful death as enemies just kept spawning to take me out. Learn from my mistakes:

 

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After seeing Hi-Fi Rush featured in the Microsoft Developer Direct event, I immediately got Jet Set Radio Future vibes and downloaded it from Xbox Game Pass. It looks amazing. The rhythmic gameplay takes some getting used to, but there are plenty of options to practice your timing with fridge bots that show up after every new attack is introduced. Maybe thanks to the extra training or more likely because I'm playing on normal, it didn't seem too difficult.

I am loving the animated style of the world and my robot cat companion. I did choose streamer audio, as for once I didn't feel like hassling with the Twitch and YouTube police. I will play again with the real soundtrack so I can enjoy the music by Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, and others.

As it turns out, the stream-cleared tracks are pretty decent - at least so far:

 

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I'll be honest: Normally when there's an Xbox Game Pass quest for launching a game, I launch and quit. For some reason I decided to see what Prodeus was about, and I'm glad I did.

It's basically an old-school Doom tribute. As the former publishers of MacDoom Review, this appeals greatly to us. GrrlGotGame dove in first and coached me a bit when I took my own run at it. The only vexing thing (so far): When you invert the Y axis, this also applies to the weapon select screen. WTF?!

The game is not easy nor is it always clear what to do, but it looks and plays great:

 

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Billed as horror adventure and looking very much like the original BioShock, alas Close to the Sun lacks depth and combat to fulfill either of those promises well. It seems to be your basic walking simulator, which I often find myself enjoying despite the obvious negative connotations of such a label. There certainly are layers of story to uncover, and it is intriguing.

I'll most likely keep at it to see where it's going:

 

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I like the premise of Golf Club: Wasteland: Post-apocalyptic Earth serves as a golf course for rich Martians (aka Earth survivors). I also liked the idea that a story emerges the longer you play. There's a radio station that provides little slices of life and music. The game is beautiful, funny (there's a building in the background called Covfefe), and at times damned difficult. It takes some time to get the hang of the controls (and I'd resist the temptation to invert aim - it's hard enough with the more obvious direction).

At the end of the day, it's just a golf game, but good atmosphere and the promise of some revelations make it more fun:

 

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I almost wrote Bugsnax off as a kiddie game, but it's a great follow-up to High on Life. It's this trippy little indie game where you catch bugs that look like burgers, fries, kabobs, pizzas, sandwiches, and the like. You feed them to the local denizens and they sprout appendages that resemble the food they consumed.

It's nuts. And actually kinda fun:

 

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I'm a big Rick and Morty fan, but after the disappointment of Trover Saves the Universe I was slow to give High on Life a go - despite it being free with Xbox Game Pass.

Boy, was that a mistake. This game is awesome! From the unexpected opening to the reveal of the "real" game and the exploits that ensue, I am LOVING this. It's your basic first-person shooter with a talking gun that sounds just like Morty (as it's voiced by series co-creator Justin Roiland).

Give this a watch and you'll be hooked too:

 

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As a huge fan of the movie Vertigo, I decided to bite down on this loosely inspired game with the same name despite the trailers all being vague and not at all focused on game play.

The TLDR? It's not very good. Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo wants to be a Telltale-style story-driven game with its quick time events and dialog choices, but the characters are as one note as the voice acting. The story lacks depth and the connection to the classic Hitchcock film is so distant that you wonder how and why they slapped his name on the title. The sad thing is that I rather enjoyed their other mystery game, Blacksad: Under the Skin.

I went a little long out of curiosity, but cut it off before the singing could begin:

 

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Lake sounded like my kind of game. The reviews painted it as a relaxing diversion. I'm not afraid of a walking simulator, and I generally love exploration and may draw solace from repetitive tasks. But I found this game... very dull. Take a vacation from your big city job to... deliver mail and packages. Revisit your childhood home and... almost eat pie. Reconnect with... the crazy cat lady. Yawn.

The stream died about 25 minutes in, and I didn't have the heart to continue:

 

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One of my fondest childhood gaming memories is unlocking the earliest documented "Easter egg" in a videogame, Warren Robinett's signature screen tucked away in Adventure (playable as one of the 100+ games in Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, which I streamed last week). I don't recall who told me about it; since this pre-dates the Internet, these secrets had to be handed down person to person.

I did a quick run on beating the game on the easiest difficulty and then spent the remaining 11 minutes in Game Variant 3 battling dragons and that darned bat to secure the "invisible" dot and enter the hidden chamber:

 

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I was an Atari 2600 kid, and also played many Atari games at the arcade. I bought a VIC-20 and eventually the Commodore 64 (which I also made some of my own games for), but one of my friends had an Atari 800 which we also played and programmed a lot. So Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration looked promising to me, especially after I learned a colleague worked on it as content editor (my dream job).

The collection is solid with lots of faves and new games I never played since I, like many, did not pursue the Atari 5200, Lynx, or Jaguar. There are also lots of videos detailing the company's many highs and lows (warts and all), plus some bonus games to unlock (I'm not sure how, but will enjoy figuring it out).

I sample a wide array of games, which is why this goes long, and explore aspects of the interface (you can customize loads and layouts), plus I wanted to spend a little time with my old friend Adventure and try out the Haunted House game and its newly created sequel:

 

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Rounding out the Watch Dogs series (after streaming the original and WD2), here's Watch Dogs: Legion. This one is even more character-driven, with a wide array of playable personas. Also, like the others, the intro is very cut-scene heavy so I spend a little extra time to get in some actual gameplay. The storyline has some resonance, and the mechanics seem to be built on the other games in the series, so it's pretty easy to pick up. Also, you get to play as a mechanical spider bot - which is awesome (even though I have mild arachnophobia).

Looking forward to spending more time with this, and I might even try a game with permadeath (as I had forgetten you can always recruit more characters to play as):

 

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After getting into the sequel (see previous video), I decided to give the original Watch Dogs a try. It starts out pretty easy, but then devolves into a long, drawn-out police chase. Maybe it was because I haven't figured out how to blend in or find my way around, but I took them for quite a ride and probably came close to dying more than once. Eventually, I do escape and find my way to the hideout.

If I can master a few more of the game dynamics, I might actually enjoy this one more:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I keep buying Watch Dogs games but never actually play them. With this month's Xbox Game Pass quest, I decided to finally jump in to Watch Dogs 2. It's actually not bad. The hacking stuff is all baloney, but the premise and execution are fun. Stylistically, it reminds me of Amped 3 (the fun one!) minus the snowboarding.

In this run, I get through the full prologue and unlock the ability to gain followers. Apparently when I purchase the pants (next thing on my list), I'll complete the quest (some people are easily entertained, I guess). Maybe I'll stream the other two games as an intro to a series of cyberpunk-styled games I've been planning to try for awhile.

For now, check out some s1ck h4ckz, d00dz:

 

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Somewhere we have The House of the Dead 2 for Dreamcast with a lightgun that doesn't work with modern TVs. So I gave The House of the Dead: Remake a go. For some reason, I couldn't hang with the inverted Y-axis (which I prefer for virtually every other game). I did eventually get used to the controls, though I've clearly far from mastered them. I also accidentally shoot a lot of scientists; the first one I killed earned me the "Murderer" achievement!

While it may seem like you have unlimited Continues, they do eventually run out. I also spend a little time perusing the detailed in-game creature Gallery, with helpful tips on how to dispatch the enemies you've encountered:

 

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As a big fan of both Telltale Games and Borderlands, obviously I've played and beat Tales from the Borderlands. And after the recent PAX demo, I was on board for New Tales from the Borderlands, which reinvents the game's interactive story dynamics with a new Gearbox dev team (as Telltale went under back in 2018, and is sorta back under new management... maybe). The game opens with vignettes from three different protagonists including a pacifist gun maker and a froyo store owner with anger management problems.

It takes a minute to adjust to the new game dynamics, but it soon feels familiar. And, oh yeah, Rhys is back! Just take a look already:

 

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Crypt of the Serpent King Remastered reminds me of a classic first-person dungeon crawler, but it appears to be an homage at best. What you have here is a roguelike where you fight randomly appearing enemies, find eight keys, and then defeat a boss - if you don't die in battle or fall into lava when collecting the keys.

I do this a fair amount, but you can see how I start to progress by leveling up some skills and a weapon. If I keep going, I might just get to the boss:

 

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I know Grim Fandango is a legendary point-and-click adventure, but somehow I've never played it before. The story is supposed to be amazing, and so far it's pretty entertaining - but I did get stuck for awhile until I stumbled on the second elevator and managed to solve the first major puzzle.

I guess I'll keep going:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

While I'm on a detective jag (having streamed Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders yesterday), here's The Raven Remastered. It's a pretty rudimentary talk, examine, use point-and-click adventure set on the Orient Express with a cinematic feel.

Not sure it's my cup of tea, but curious to see where it's going:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I somewhat enjoyed the recent spate of Sherlock Holmes games, so I thought I'd give Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders a try. You play as Hercule Poirot and basically point and click your way through clues and crime scenes. Alas, the puzzles quickly escalate in difficulty - I abandoned two puzzle boxes after completing the fairly obvious cash register mini-game.

This is the sort of thing I may play when I can just zone out and solve the puzzles, but there's enough here for you to decide whether this is your jam:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.




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