speclang's best of 2023
Welcome to my best of 2023, four weeks after I was actually supposed to write this!!
This is mostly used as an excuse to write my own funny things that I liked this year to somewhere, and I don’t personally want people to pay for my opinions like on Medium. (Although, I’m sure people would pay at least one penny for them…)
Last year’s speclang’s best of was extremely long and rambly, so what I’m going to try to do this year is to make my reviews about 200 words or less. This isn’t because I’m not passionate about these things, I am, but I have to reserve a lot of my writing time for a considerable amount of other things during the early part of this year. That’s pretty much the restriction I did for the guest writers, so hopefully this feels less rambly than last year.
There’s a lot I watched this year. Buckle up folks…
It is kind of inevitable that this will be here. Barbie was kind of those rare brand-backed movies when it had something to say about the wider society, regardless of the phenomenon with its other movies. It is an understatement to how good the movie is, from the ridiculous musical numbers in “I’m Just Ken” or “Dance the Night”, to America Ferrera’s character and her daughter (although, it’s obvious how much we can just point to America Ferrera for her character but not actually remember her character’s name), to the antics and caricatures that all the different Barbies take.
That isn’t to say this movie isn’t without its flaws. I do find it funny Greta Gerwig doesn’t actually get an Oscar nomination because while this movie was a crazy fever dream, being nominated for Best Picture but not director when you did so much as part of the movie is weird. Margot Robbie’s snub I can understand though, she didn’t really do much of the movie. And the marketing — I wanted to see it anyways, but it felt like the Wonder Woman situation where it’s bad if you don’t watch it or like it for women empowerment, but it has a somewhat hollow interpretation of it?
Please don’t take this the wrong way, it is a good, solid movie that does a really good job at what it’s trying to do, being a parody on top of having passable social commentary, but I honestly wish it could have done better instead of focusing on Ken or having Barbie actually do something instead of discovering feminism by awkwardly inserting herself into a Mattel executive’s life.
Ok, that was more than 200 words. I promise I’ll be a little less lenient with myself coming up.
It is also kind of inevitable that this movie was here. We all kind of knew going into this movie that this was going to be another one of Christopher Nolan’s magnum opuses, but I think it is impressive the way he handled this material. Paralelling Oppenheimer’s rise with Strauss’ (and at the same time, Oppy’s) fall and framing the story around that was a great way to work around this film’s ridiculous narrative. There’s amazing cinematography, the pacing is not quite as dizzying as something like Tenet but is incredible, and the characterization is so well done. I kind of like the way he did the color/black and white transitions as a pivot of not just facts/fiction but Strauss’/Oppy’s perspective, what’s hidden vs real; perspective matters so much, and so much more. There’s a lot of love and effort put in this movie and even the bomb explosion only barely gets you 2/3rds of the way through the film.
It is of course, natural to say that this movie is not perfect either, since I think the main complaint is that the science was really glossed over in favor of Oppenheimer’s life, which makes for a better movie, like why do we spend time with Florence Pugh nude? It’s a complaint that I had with The Martian, Hidden Figures or with The Imitation Game, or any of these documentary movies that highlight geniuses that have high level complex details in them.
Pixar hasn’t really aged well ever since being bought by Disney, case in point, Elemental looked to be a flop. But things started turning around for it, and once it dropped on Disney+ and I got the big ‘rona, there was nothing better to do than just watch it.
The high level story premise (once you really think about it) works out in its favor here as a big city rom-com. The two leads have pretty good chemistry and its relatively small scale story in relation to its busy New York-like setting, but that’s a typical rom-com setup. I can definitely see why it didn’t attract attention at first, but I think this is more a problem with marketing than story, not to say the story is at fault either. This is definitely not to mention that the animation in this movie is legitimately incredible. Of course, Pixar’s films have been overshadowed by themselves, but in the end it was a good enough movie, that while not parodying its meet-cute film types, adapts them to be something worth watching.
This isn’t to mention that I can get hot headed too at times, so I can definitely relate to Ember in the story.
Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse
The best animated film series that changed the game in 2018 does it again. A long awaited sequel was well-deserved after half a decade of waiting, and once again balances the chaos of multiverses with a grounded Spiderman story in Miles’ home life — Spiderman films “seemed” to be doing that well (at least, until this year). They finally did Doctor Strange right by actually visiting meaningful worlds that aren’t just hollow interpretations of them, and gave us two intriguing antagonists in Spot and Miguel.
With Spider-Punk, Miguel, Indian Spider Man, Renaissance Vulture, and each universe having its own style, animation, gimmick and personality, the filmmakers continued to do amazing work with staying true to its story while innovating and delivering new twists as we kept going. I do find it unfortunate that we did spend the other half of the movie without Spot, but I know it just serves the purpose of the two-parter we’re going to see soon. The only disappointing part was that we have to wait a year or two before we finally get a resolution to this story.
In the same way as Oppenheimer, Maestro is basically the Leonard Bernstein docufilm “dramatized”. The greatest American conductor/composer had a difficult personal life, and highlighted his many escapades of being a semi-closeted bisexual while in a committed relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre. But my problem is that they focus too much on that. There are very few reasons for me to actually focus on that when Bernstein is best known, at least 30+ years after his death, of his incredible and wonderful music that is known the world over.
It is a problem where they can’t just focus on the music but have to focus on a further subplot to keep people intrigued or tell people about the story, like in Cate Blanchett’s Tar, but that had a really good story and message and makes you feel anxious on every step. I don’t fault Bradley Cooper for doing this though, it was definitely something worth talking about, but I honestly didn’t like it becoming one of the focal points of the whole film.
In the end it does give a good perspective on how his personal life changed the course of his music, and Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper (more of the former) bring a good performance. I don’t think this movie is actually that Oscar worthy, but it was a very admirable effort that I appreciate.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
I watched this one with my friends on a whim on a random Thursday night as a drunk watch, but it ended up being actually really fun and actually worth the $20 to see it in theaters.
It may be an good movie, albeit having obvious story beats, but it does a good job at representing the D&D world; it has a few playful moments with paladin Rege Jean-Page, and the main crew is also very fun as well, even if they don’t have that much chemistry, save for the charismatic bard in Chris Pine. But Hugh Grant being the bad guy is always fun to watch. It’s a very cheesy movie, yet it’s a very servicable and fun romp. Not going to win any awards, but it was a good way to spend a few hours.
I don’t play Dungeons and Dragons (but my friends do!) and so the lore was very confusing for me. There’s nothing really here to say except that the set pieces were really fun and they did a good job adapting the source material, even if I don’t even know the source material. And I may be somewhat obligated to put it in this review because of my girlfriend, but rest assured I did enjoy it!
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3
We all knew going into this one knowing two inevitable truths: 1. Marvel was going downhill, and 2. This was James Gunn’s final movie with them. It’s kind of doubly impressive that this film was ever made because of how much of an emotional catharsis this movie is for our favorite dysfunctional found family, after a moving journey of so many films yet existing in their own little subuniverse that doesn’t get much influence from Feige.
However, the characters are not the only bangers, the High Evolutionary is just fucking evil but goes hard, no questions asked. Rocket’s backstory, the entire focus of the film, is so devastating, yet they did an amazing job building the story and characterization around that. Will Poulter was not expected as Adam Warlock but hey, he’s funny and it works. I think the only thing I missed was that we didn’t get to spend more time with these characters, because it did feel like they just show up in Knowhere recently and now, it’s like “well, it’s over now…”, but I understand studio drama as much as the next guy.
To be honest, it just deserves its place on the list due to this fight scene alone.
Sorry, Succession simps, I’m not a fan, so you won’t get any sympathy from me.
Doctor Who (2023 specials)
Like many Whovians, I was disappointed by Jodie Whittaker’s run – she wasn’t bad by any means, but Chris Chibnall, the previous showrunner since 2017, dropped the ball in terms of good scripts and stories.
This run of Doctor Who episodes for the 60th anniversary(!) of the programme was more to assure viewers that “it’s back!” and not indulging in itself like the 50th. That was obvious when this is just three more episodes of David Tennant’s Series 4. It’s a situation where the middle episodes (this is assuming you add the Christmas special into this group) are the most ambitious and subsequently the best episodes, with a literal Amogus episode and Neil Patrick Harris doing NPH things. Also, Ncuti is so charismatic as the Doctor, I can’t wait for Series 14.
That’s not to say the other two specials are bad, I think there are just story flaws in there that I can mark as questionable. I don’t think “The Church on Ruby Road” was as good of an introduction as, say, Series 10’s “The Pilot” or Series 11’s “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. And my family keeps saying “Meep meep” as a legitimate greeting to each other – but that’s a whole other story.
Only Murders in the Building (Season 3)
I have been a fan of this show since Season 2, and it’s probably the best iteration of the new trend of “amateur detective solves murder” genre in the past few years. In a way, we are getting a detective renaissance…
I think it’s this season that really added a lot more character compared to the last two seasons, and the stories ever so slightly more cohesive. Mabel as a character study, is still fumbling around her sex life as of late with no character besides “I like detective work and these are my guys”, but the sideplots of Martin Short running a show with his new girlfriend is worth half a good plot and likewise with Brazzos’ sex life.
But I think framing the murder around Martin Short’s show is so much better as a narrative device, gives us something fun and airy to work around instead of something relatively nebulous as “we’re all neighbors at the Arconia” before, and gives the show a much needed breath of fresh air. Of course, the additions of Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep are always welcome, but this season’s contrived plot points have served the whole series very well. It’s made it more fun again, especially for the theater nerd in me.
Loki (Season 2)
I have already mentioned last year that Marvel, as a brand, has been going downhill, but time and time again, it’s shown that grounding your characters in an established universe and taking the time to build characters with good plots is an effective method of cementing your series or movie in a good universe. Loki did at least more than half of those things, so my official grade is a “Pass”.
This series focused a lot more heavily on Loki himself instead of spinning out with Sylvie or Renslayer, but solely making it the focus for the last couple of episodes I can tell is at least somewhat redeeming for this iteration of the character. The ensemble cast is all great but unfortunately with little to do, the quirky O.B., played by Asian icon Ke Huy Quan is amazing, but does very little except talk technical jargon. Jonathan Majors shows up for all but 10 minutes, and we do see Mobius get a jet ski, but it’s very underwhelming. It feels as if there are stakes but they’re not making me feel enough to get those stakes. Going back to Season 1’s finale is such a let down from what we had. The story’s not so spectacular this time — they had a chance to go all Doctor Who on us but didn’t, but if character growth and good plot comes first, I’m all for it, even if it’s not going to win any awards or anything.
The Last of Us (Season 1)
This year was so long that I completely forgot this was actually a show that came out in 2023. But in a sea of television and media these days, it is hard for a television show to stand out, not to mention in a genre oversaturated with low-budget, average zombie thrillers popularized by The Walking Dead. As much as I’ve played the video game (as in, I have only barely watched my cousin play the first game), I cannot tell whether or not this was a good adaptation, but as a TV show alone, it stands on its own as an amazingly written and moving show that stands out in its class.
Druckmann has very much said that this show is about human nature and the difficult decisions that people make, but that the Zombies are the special things that force them to make these difficult decisions. That’s notable since we barely see any zombies or trailing missions in the show because it highlighted and elevated the best parts of the game into something that any slightly left-leaning TV viewer will love. Can’t forget that Episode 3, as a microcosm in itself, transcends even this show. Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal had amazingly high bars set for them for this series, and they delivered. I only hope that Season 2 continues to be this same level with Kaitlyn Dever joining. Now I have to watch Chernobyl too now…
Andor (Season 1)
And now for something that didn’t air this year.
To preface this: I am not a Star Wars fan. I’ve only watched the original trilogy once, was dragged kicking and screaming to watch episodes 8 and 9, and honestly don’t care about the whole franchise so much.
I gave this show a chance because my girlfriend convinced me to watch a Star Wars thing, and this show was lauded as one of the best drama shows of the season last year, and dammit, if a Star Wars show was going to win an Emmy, this would have had the best chance. It is a political drama at the end of the day about the rift between the Empire and the separated nature of the new upstart rebellion, but it gives a lot of character to Cassian Andor, but also how the rebellion begins from what we see is a pretty hopeless endeavor after Episode 3.
The writing in this show is so powerful and moving, it really shows the hopelessness and seriousness* of some of these characters and every single actor, from the raid on Aldhani to breaking out of Narkina to the riot on Rix Road, this show crafted amazing performances that can never be seen other Star Wars show (except maybe Clone Wars). If you’re not taking it from me, take from my girlfriend, who’s heavily into Star Wars, who gushed about this show after I recommended it to her.
Ted Lasso (Season 3)
As you know, I like sports. I believe there is a collective experience of a fanbase coming together to root, celebrate and heartbreak for a team’s success. You know that when I reviewed the Seattle Mariners last year.
In a way, this is the best way to see the togetherness of a team and root for their success. This season is the culmination of everything we’ve seen of this show since the dark periods of 2021, and I really root to get over Jamie’s dad problems, Roy’s willingness to grow.
That being said, I have a lot of criticisms with this last season as it was a more casual watch on second rerun. MANY of these storylines are horribly written, including Ted coping with his ex-wife, Obisanya’s restaurant getting trashed every episode, Rebecca’s superstitions that go nowhere, Nate’s turnaround that is completely undeserved, Keeley’s consulting firm that has no direction…
This season tries to caps off the journey of many of these characters in a satisfying way but many of the storylines this season were very questionable and not necessarily earned, either. But the last episode was a sendoff to the series good enough that I don’t think it’s not worth putting the whole series down for. Not a satisfying conclusion, but at least a reasonable cap off to a good series. It’s all worth it for Roy Kent though.
I watched a lot of YouTube this year, it’s definitely a symptom of me being stuck at home with nothing to do. These days, YouTube sufficiently fills that niche in between “not high-effort enough for Television” but “not shitty enough to be on TikTok or Reddit”.
It’s one thing where this shouldn’t exist, but another that it actually works. A streaming service entirely built upon unscripted content, which is pretty much the ultimate version of “Whose Line is It, Anyway” and “@midnight” exists. I think this works because Sam Reich built up CollegeHumor to feel like you’re watching a group of friends and build a community around their talent, even if they’re literally somehow only contractors at this point.
From Game Changer, the better version of @fterMidnight, to viral Make Some Noise clips that are basically the better, more outlandish version of “Whose Line” to Dimension 20, the only show that actually has gotten me into D&D because of Hank Green, there’s a lot to love in this unique streaming service and after building up for some time, I’m really considering getting a subscription now.
This channel is more of a comfort watch than anything; some of you might know the main Alpharad channel where he spends exorbitant amounts of money doing stupid, but this second channel is pretty much a “Let’s just play games with Jo and not really care too much about it” channel since its inception. Last year they made a pledge to play 365 unique games, one per day, and if they didn’t, the channel would get deleted.
This was definitely a case where they just decided to continue uploading every day out of spite because everyone believed they could never keep an upload schedule. I started turning the corner sometime around February. But the better uploads this year, like Mario Party, even poker with his dad, and their lovely Pikmin 4 gameplay, or pretty much anything that wasn’t made for the sake of uploading daily but genuinely enjoying the game, were honestly some of the best casual let’s play content on YouTube. That’s saying a lot because they literally don’t care.
Their unique sense of humor and extreme commitment to bits, not to mention they continued to upload daily, just made this a guilty pleasure for the year, even if I didn’t watch all 365 episodes.
No Rolls Barred
It’s an odd thing to talk about this channel, because on the one hand, the board game side of YouTube is either essentially Tabletop Simulator Let’s Plays or “Explaining the Rules to Sisyphus’ Boulder”. Similar to CollegeHumor, they’ve finally realized that it’s the community and talent around the games that people really enjoy, and the board games are just a nice benefit around it. It’s essentially the antidote to the sparse lack of “Overboard” uploads on Polygon.
The elephant in the room for regular viewers is that the right guy in the image, who is actually the guy who set up the channel, got kicked out for harassment reasons. What’s even funnier is that by the time he left, the channel basically did an amazing job pushing that mostly under the rug and hyping up “Communist Monopoly” because it was so fucking funny, which I like to think why he left. It was around that time the channel started turning around and moving away from Clock Tower content to frequent videos with high production values and a STUDIO, so a huge props to them this year for growing despite setbacks.
Side note: even my board game group decided, “yeah I think we had enough Blood on the Clock Tower this year” and immediately stopped playing it this summer. It’s a good game though, and I now immediately hate that I’ve unleashed it onto the Civ Community.
Steven He/Uncle Roger
Spoilers: I’m Asian, so you know I like Asian youtube content.
Every year I see something of Steven He’s, but he finally broke into mainstream with the introduction of “Emotional Damage” last year. I don’t have a lot of say on either of these guys, but as an Asian with parents myself, or knowing friends with overbearing Asian parents as well, his videos are extremely accurate and hilariously silly. Like Alpharad Gold, they’re a guilty pleasure watch, but their acumen for throwing away jokes left and right specific to Asian culture is at least really funny and relatable, and nothing something like Jo Koy at the Golden Globes.
Jet Lag, Tag Across Europe 2 (Season 7)
The best season of Jet Lag came back for another season and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this was so much better than the first time around.
The Jet Lag crew really struck a formula with these shows and I think the last few, especially Japan and Arctic Escape, were really competitive and inventive with the challenges and specializations to each country. It’s moreso now that they’ve refined their jokes, challenges, and Snack Zone bits. That being said, Europe has always been the most entertaining to watch because of its general variety and strategy, and I think this season found a balance between suspenseful and jokey. There’s a lot of the world to explore and I think they’re doing a great job with making the spiritual successor to the Amazing Race.
I’m trying my best not to spoil anything if people really haven’t seen this six-month old season now.
Scott the Woz (Season 7, part 1)
If you’re a regular Scott the Woz enjoyer, you’ll probably know there were like, 12 episodes this year total. But these fans are the most patient people ever, and Scott’s Stash has brought us some amazing gems to tie us over for the time being. It wasn’t the quantity that’s Scott known for anyway, his really in-depth history of gaming explainer videos are widely known for being incredibly joke-heavy but great summaries.
There were a lot of traditional Scott the Woz episodes this year and I think that’s what I wanted, because the novelty of skit heavy episodes does tend to wear off eventually. The Annual Release and Pro Controllers are really solid episodes, even if they’re not the stuff Scott’s known for, and I just want to give him a big hug.
This year probably has the most vanilla choices of music I’ve had in a while. However, I am not even close to a music connisseur, so please take these opinions with a grain of salt.
Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)
Even by Swifties’ standards, this Taylor’s Version album was not actually super good due to a lot of missed opportunities from many songs since 2014. When this album came out when I was in the depths of middle school, it was amazing because many of these songs Blank Space, Shake It Off, Bad Blood were truly something fresh from Taylor, and these songs even today speak really well regardless of the Swiftmania. But I’m slightly disappointed by the production value and some missed opportunities on things like Style and Welcome to New York, even if they are technically slight improvements.
But the real reason I’m putting this on there is for two reasons: the “From the Vault” tracks like Slut! are really good and the deep cuts sound slightly better than they did in 2014, plus the fact that the Eras Tour is a cultural, musical, and technological marvel and is unmatched in terms of global and even economic impact. Sure, this album may not have been what I wanted out of it, but I still enjoyed it. And I just have to commend her for building a brand from a scorned reputation to women empowerment, and so much so that my 60-year-old aunt is bandwagoning her for the sole reason of “this is in now”.
Sabrina Carpenter, emails i can’t send
This pick is kind of in the same vein as Taylor Swift’s pick; personally, I didn’t realize I was listening to a lot of Sabrina’s music until it really started showing up a bunch on my radio picks. I don’t really have much to say with her music particularly, but this album has pretty infectious beats (see Vicious, Read Your Mind) with good lyrics (see Feather) and is a generally solid album all around with a good mix.
Many of these songs are all dealing with relationships and navigating these issues, but the middle act feels like “Reputation” and dealing with the big elephant in the room that is social media nowadays. These songs are built from her old emails has all the same ideas of “Midnights”, and musically, I liked it much better than others she’s made in the past because this feels like a more cohesive project than before with solid hits throughout. It does also help that many of my friends just listen to these things too.
Paramore, This is Why
In the same way that “Glass Onion” last year was a visceral release from the COVID-before times, this is the same way, but in heavy rock, borderline metal form that we’ve been missing from Paramore.
From the eponymous anthem right at the start, it lays out the mantra for the album straight out of the gate, the anxieties we all feel from the Pandemic (This is Why), from the constant news cycle (The News), to procrastination (Running Out of Time) and being a little bitch despite being the most grandstanding person alive. (Big Man, Little Dignity) For many of these songs, it feels like it has the tonal togetherness similar to After Laughter, and the trio, as a band, have really grown from that album, believe it or not.
The back half of the album, however, is more personally inspired. It’s a well known-fact that this band has been through many trials and tribulations, and stuff like You First, Figure 8 and Crave are mantras to that point. On a personal note, this is one of the main albums that really carried me through this summer, something that I could absolutely relate to during my own struggles. It was a journey to really rediscover this band after being silent for so long, and this album was a nice reprieve back into the world of music.
Lawrence, Hotel TV and The Live Album, Part 1
If you haven’t heard of this band, the headliners are a prodigy brother-and-sister duo based in New York, but also have a band recruited all around. It wouldn’t be a Lawrence song without the big band and Gracie’s chorus harmonic-like sound surrounding them, not to mention the incredible range the entire band has.
For a sample platter for those who haven’t heard these before, the Live Album is pretty much a crash course of their repertoire (I’m just linking part 1 because I think it’s the better half!). From killer melodies and lyrics, their entire back-catalogue is all about positivity, from image positivity (Freckles), to age (23), toxic relationships (The Heartburn Song), and confidence (Try), there’s a whole lot in their catalogue worth listening to. I think it’s an understatement to say that these guys are some of the best things to come out of the indie scene, and they’re severely underrated.
In a way, this was the antidote to the very pandemic and downer tracks on Paramore’s album, so it’s only nice that I discovered this quickly after This is Why.
Carpenter Brut, TRILOGY
This is probably the most outlandish album pick on this list because of how incredbly dark it is compared to all the other ones on the list.
Carpenter Brut is pretty much the bad ending of Daft Punk and Justice, his music is very synth-heavy and electronic, but in a metal, dark, horror-slasher-in-the-suburbs kind of vibe. Everything on this album is a compilation of three EPs in 2014, but many of these songs have already been used in different video games and movies already.
These songs are characterized by really great hooks like in “Hang’em All”, “Escape from Midwich Valley”, or the favorite of Hotline Miami players, “Le Perv”. If you can get through the gratiness that is these heavy synths, you’ll see that there’s a good instrumental soundtrack through this music for epic gaming moments when you’re PvPing the other side in Minecraft.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk Original Soundtrack
While I didn’t actually play this game this year, the soundtrack to this game is really good and is a return to form that we’ve been waiting from a game as inspired as Jet Set Radio. Hideki Naganuma returns to make two inspired tracks (GET ENUF) that we were all striving and waiting for, but the entire soundtrack is filled with upbeat bangers to urge you on to get so many combos and spray graffiti.
As I hear, many of these songs are also really well-fitted to their respective levels. One of the most nauseating but well-produced songs, Operator, really fits a challenging boss level. We were also graced to hear 2 Mello’s I Wanna Kno, ironically from a JSRF-inspired album. From all corners of the world (Agua), every single track on this album is a banger and holds out hope for me to finally play this game!
What a year this was for games. It’s then ironic that I actually didn’t play a lot of games this year, let alone those published this year. I’m hoping to do a little more while I have time to do so.
There are very few people in the world that actually get what Pikmin is, and do it well. It is a niche series on top of a niche genre (single player RTS), but it’s always helped by the cute little Pikmin. The satisfaction of seeing a bunch of ants carry a funny little Game Boy cannot be understated, but seeing them die to disco legs is heartbreaking.
This game showed everyone how fun Pikmin can actually be now it’s on Switch. After a very handholdy tutorial for anyone to get into the series, the game opens up to beautifully designed overworlds, caves and bosses with ingenious game design, it’s the accessible and enjoyable of the series (but I haven’t played any other Pikmin game!). It’s so fun to strategize and play to maximize your Dandori. That’s not to mention the fact the postgame is huge!
I don’t think there’s enough words to describe how cute, inspired and required this game is, it will lighten up anyone’s hearts.
Dave the Diver
So you see this game on Steam. You see that it’s about an obese diver catching fish throughout the day so you can sell it at a sushi restaurant in the evening. That should be all this game has to offer and it’s going to be another one of those cozy lifestyle games, right?
What if I told you there’s an underground water people society, five different ocean biomes, a light restaurant management sim, an undercover spy operation, farming, gambling, horse racing and even more in this game? It’s kind of incredible how much this game manages to stuff into a diving simulator because like Pikmin, there’s so much game in this game, and I haven’t even finished it. You get to see so many fish in this game and it’s so fun to catch more and turn them into food.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of funny things in this game, but rest assured this game somehow doesn’t lose focus and the vast expanse only adds spice to what you can do in this game. It’s a nice light affair to relax, until a shark gobbles up all your oxygen!
Breath of the Wild
With Tears of the Kingdom coming out, it’s like, “alright, I gotta get my ass into gear and finish this game”. For 2-3 years now, I’ve been sitting on my ass at the Elephant Divine Beast waiting to beat him, but never having the expertise enough to actually do it. Now that I’ve actually done it, it gave me enough momentum to start actually really enjoying this game and defeating the rest of the Divine Beasts.
I love exploring in this game when it’s all peaceful and nothing’s amiss. The landscape and cel shades are beautiful and suit this game perfectly. The characters, albeit the voice acting is way too dramatic, have a great sense of worldbuilding and feel like natural extensions of the game. Keep in mind I have never played a Zelda game before, but the freeing sense of adventure is something I’m appreciating more than ever now. My only regret is that I didn’t get into this sooner, and that I have to actually rush Hyrule Castle now… that’s a big problem I currently have with games though.
What Might Show Up in a Non-Civ Content Soon
Here are things I’m watching/playing/listening to right now and hope to show up in possibly next year’s…
As much as The Bear is getting awards, it is one hell of an intense show. It’s not the best thing since it’s very anxiety-inducing right now for me, but damn, is it well done with complex, destructive characters. And that’s just two episodes in!
Getting back into Animal Crossing: New Horizons again as a nice way to wake up. There is some motivation to at least make my island look pretty again instead of filled with flowers. And finish the DLC. I like decorating.
The time will eventually come when my girlfriend who is obsessed D&D will convince me to play Baldur’s Gate 3, but that day won’t be soon…yet…
Japanese funk fusion is coming back with a vengeance in my Spotify playlists with Casiopea and Mariya Takeuchi creeping back in, it’s not like I’m against it though!
”Small” Note of Depression
As many of you know, this year was a tough one for me. I did graduate college back in May, but I’m still currently unable to find work in software anywhere, and by last fall, it’s made me pretty depressed and unhappy with where I’m at.
That being said, there have been times where I just didn’t feel motivated to do anything because my life situation was so awful. It’s a period in my life where I am doing all the things I can, but just not getting any results, and in a field like Software where you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and the competition is stacked, there have been times where I wanted to stop continuing to make myself better. But that’s not how to live life, and it’s a series of constant discovery to be better. Even though as I’m writing this that might not feel so, it’s important that you pick yourself up and try again. These things above are things that really kept me happy over the past year, and I wanted to highlight them (as well as this piece of writing) as somewhat of a personal triumph. That said, therapy was a huge part of my back half of the year and that cannot be understated to make me feel better and talk through my feelings of despair.
I do kind of want to say thanks to everyone for dealing with all my many antics for the past year and half. I’m extremely grateful of the support everyone’s given me not only to get through this pretty tough time in my life, but also giving me the opportunity to work on myself and take weeks or months off of the newsletter schedule. If you’re reading this far through my niche, incredibly poorly written content, then I do want to say thanks again for reading and paying attention to my C-tier content. It’s one thing where I still enjoy throwing out my opinions on, which will bite me in the ass in 10 or so years, but having this platform is something I definitely do not want to take for granted.
Thank you all for reading this mess of a blog post, and I’ll see you with another long post about my feelings in 2024.
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