Seafoam Gaming 2020 in Review (Part 1)- Reflections

Another year has come and gone. For many, it’s the hardest year of their lives, though for me, that was easily 2019 due to the insufferable amount of losses I took, losing my best friend and grandfather in the same year, killing my drive and throwing my review queue way out of sync. I’ve been picking up the pieces since but 2020 has tried to come and do more damage, though outside of a lost cousin everyone I know has come out OK. Thus, I’m starting the new-annual tradition of my year in review, where I cover best/worst games via text and reflect on the year and what my future plans are for the site, with some tiny YT details sprinkled in. This is a three part series, with part 2 covering the worst games that I played this year, out tomorrow, and part 3 coming out on NYE covering the best.

So for this first part? Really, it’s just a discussion of my plans for the future, an overview of the year and plans I had and how they ended up. Let’s get into it!


The Interview Initiative, or lack thereof

Earlier this year, I decided one of my goals in 2020 would be to interview a crapton of people who inspired me over the years in many ways, or that I just liked a lot in general, from all sorts of industries. I started off strong with the guy who arguably inspired me the most to get into games writing, David Turnbull of 3DS Blog. The interview went extraordinarily well, and thankfully, readers liked it too, from the 3DS reddit, to twitter followers, to just ordinary people searching info on the guy and finding my interview to see what he was up to. So, a successful start means more had to be coming any moment now, right?

Unfortunately, no. I had several other people in mind to interview for the site: To name some I’m OK spilling the beans on, I was hoping to interview some voice actors behind key roles in games/shows I grew up with, along with someone at Limited Run, seeing how I buy so much stuff from them to the point that unboxings of their games take up most of my youtube activity in this creative drought. But all of that got derailed due to COVID-19 making me too nervous and upset to talk to anyone for months on end, along with being busy getting over the aftermath of the last year as well.

Still, a few game devs caught my eye I hoped to interview as well, and the big end goal, the “grand finale” I had planned was to interview the man who outright saved my life with his godlike storytelling. Shinichiro Tomie, scenario writer behind the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. I had a contact who might be able to hook me up with him, and if a chance allowed for it, Spike Chunsoft PR might have been able to get me in touch too. And little did I know, said chance would arrive when Shiren 5 got a switch port just this very month. Unfortunately, I still have a trio of PS4 games in need of covering for SC from 2019, (2 of which launched around when my grandpa passed, which didn’t help matters at all due to bad timing on nobody’s part but the turn of life) so I opted to not ask for any review codes this year, and getting cold feet, I gave an interview request a spin on launch day, only for me to be too late. So alas, SC is out for reaching the guy to thank him for his Pokemon Mystery Dungeon work.

Yet, my contact may be my lynchpin. The contact himself could make for a good interview as he works for a company I’ve admired a lot lately, but if I could push harder and maybe cross a language barrier, I could interview Tomie after all. So that could be on the table, and would absolutely be a thing to make me feel complete in life if I can pull it off. If any of my readers has a link to Tomie and knows of how to reach him, Let me know in the comments ASAP. Or, email me via my youtube channel. This would not only be great for me, but the PMD and MD communities as a whole to hear from the man behind the legendary roguelikes.


The article that surprised me the most

Somehow, by all means, the article and one of the pieces on the site that did the best this whole year? My investigation into Dispatch Games, a publisher I reviewed for before who went MIA and left lots of customers out of their products for months now. I made this article solely to get answers for not only peers of mine who bought from them, but for myself who was hoping to get stuff like Soldam on PS4. Due to all the anger of the internet, this managed to get quite a bit of traction and some humorous responses on twitter, and somehow, my article got their asses to post on twitter again and promise weekly status updates.

…That lasted for like, three weeks before they went MIA again, with no reasoning. They showed some WIP of the CE items and I even got my coin I mentioned in the article, but they have not delivered ANY OF THE GAMES that they were promising to ship out by that point. Yes, even Game Tengoku, a fully complete Switch port available on the eShop this very second is still not close to being done for the physical STANDARD EDITION that was put up for preorder in July of 2019. I honestly want to, and probably will, make a followup article calling them out for how absurd they’re acting and just how sketchy they are in general, after giving them way too many benefits of the doubts. Yet, the main reason I hesitate is well…

I don’t like that one of my most popular articles this year was based on a negative event. It rubs me the wrong way and is why I despise youtubers that milk controversies for views. Hell, you can even see this happening this very minute with all the “Free Melee” bullshit going on, a stupid movement going nowhere which ended up being hijacked by grifters of all kinds, with members of the melee community making videos on the matter that leave out tons of info and completely miss the point of what happened, and people using it to shill their merch instead of helping the communities come together. Yet they don’t care, for reporting corrections after the fact won’t give you as many views as the hot drama and spicy stuff. I obviously don’t care about this kind of reporting in the slightest. Whether here or on my youtube, I’ll only get my foot in a topic like that for an article/video if I feel it really impacts me or my friends, and in the case of Dispatch, that definitely impacted tons in my friend circle, and thus even if I may hate to do it, I may have to pull myself together to do another investigation just so people can get some damn video games shipped. Even if writing nothing but drama and clickbait focused content would boost my website views from the usual 750 views a month to 2 thousand, I wouldn’t do it.

Hell, when I made guesses on AM2R’s takedown in 2016, my site views exploded beyond anything I’d ever seen before, yet my followup article to correct misinfo was given a tiny fraction of that viewcount. That’s why I refrained from making such articles on those kind of “huge, controversial” topics, since I don’t want my site to be defined by that stuff. I want it to be defined by the reviews I write, the devs I help, and the people I interview, and that’s what I hope to keep doing in 2021. Even though Dispatch Games is going to be an exception to that rule, I’m only doing such a thing to help get to the bottom of something for my friends, so don’t expect me to go after every company ever that may do something shady, especially since I’ve gotten requests to cover dead kickstarter games out of the first article. (I do plan on looking back on ones I was interested in via eternal memories, but that’s a long ways off)


Youtube Content updates

In 2019, I was near the end of season 3 of Eternal Memories, my retrospective series on youtube. I only had a Castlevania the Adventure episode to shoot and edit, and then I could work on Season 4 in 2020! …Then my grandpa died, my motivation crashed, and I barely got the energy to put out a couple episodes in the fall of 2019, with CVA not coming out until June of 2020. Season 4 has been in limbo since due to my job hunt and covid worries and all that stuff, but I’m confident in saying it’ll premiere in 2021’s first quarter. I’m commissioning assets and prepping my new style for the season, but with my new job productivity is slow. Still, I’m at least back on track again, which makes me a bit happy and I hope you can be patient a little longer. Please check out the Seafoam Gaming Youtube if you haven’t already to catch up on my retrospectives! And yes, the PMD retrospective is also planned for 2021. Both the end of EOS… And hopefully, the GTI episode too. Will I finish the retrospective before a PMD 6 comes out that ruins my whole hopes and dreams of a grand finale? Probably not.


Last but not least… Review Updates.

Ah yes, the main course, updates on how I plan to get reviews done. Anyone that looks at my queue may find the PS4/Steam sections to be reasonable for a freelance reviewer, then gasp at the massive size of the Switch section. Needless to say, having a bunch of games requested in mid 2019, only for my life to go downhill, led to a lot of stalling and delays. I didn’t really learn in early 2020, and the pandemic and my anxiety from that led to more slowdown, even as I opted for more simple games and only a couple of bigger games, since all the simple games drowned me in quantity that would take a while to get through them all.

Hence, the recent update on how I would cut off games publishers sent me without asking so I could focus on my queue, and only be super picky about future games to ensure I can get my queue to 0 by 2021’s spring. So far, that has gone good with the PS4/Steam queues almost empty as I type this, and my Switch queue in the works to get knocked down more and more over the next month. That being said, there are some games that have been on the queue longer than I would have liked even without all my life stuff, so let’s go into the “behemonths” I need to conquer ASAP, and explain why I haven’t reviewed them yet.

Danganronpa V3 (PS4, 2017)- After reviewing DR12 Reload, I figured I could jump into V3 and cover that in no time, right? Well… I was dead wrong. As much as I love DR1 in particular and enjoy DR2, you need to know the anime of DR3 to understand V3, as it takes place between the second game and V3. I was gonna watch it before jumping into V3… Only to never get around to it. Feeling torn between needing to watch the anime to get the “true experience”, or just going in from the second game like most people would, I didn’t know what to do, and now it’s been so long the hecking game IP has been transfered to Spike Chunsoft US! NISA doesn’t even publish this game anymore! That’s kinda an embarrassing first for me. But if I promise to cover a game, I promise to cover a game, so buckle up, DRV3 will be reviewed from the perspective of an anime-less fan early 2021, to put this despair behind me!

Stick it to the Man! (Switch eShop, 2017)- This is another embarrassing one. A quirky adventure from Zoink Games, now Thunderful? Should be a no brainer! Yet… due to timing, or just due to me forgetting that I even asked for the game, Ray’s adventure has been put on the back burner… again… and again… and again… And I need to just outright go ahead and start it already. The game’s been put on sale so many darn times, yet I still need to cover this early switch game! Why did I not play? I don’t even know! Ray’s icon tempts me whenever I go through my mountains of switch games, and something about the game just makes me nervous to jump in. Maybe self-doubt and fear that I will not click with the quirky nature? Either way, I’m putting a stop to that in early 2021, and hopefully Thunderful won’t strike me down with lightning as punishment.

Beholder (PS4, 2018). Never ever ever ever impulse click on a review request because it’s for a platform you are new with, especially if it’s a type of game you’re vastly unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, my dumb brain thought joining terminals in early 2018 meant I should ask for the first game I see and give it a spin for review. Turns out, Beholder is a game I’m not at all good at nor a genre I’m familiar with, so I’ve been stuck on this for years. But I aim to get this knocked out in Q1 2021, better late that never.

SHENMUE I/II HD (PS4, 2018)- This one I noted in previous update posts as being a big bane. Shenmue I? Easy as a newcomer, enjoying my time. But Shenmue II? It has a link feature with the first game. And I hear it gives you more benefits if you 100% aspects of Shenmue I. But Shenmue 1 isn’t really a great game to 100%. But I felt the need to for Shenmue 2, to review the full package. See the crisis? My urge to cover every mechanic left me in a bad rut, and I finally snapped out of it and just copied my save to 100% later, and to play normally for the review, lack of transfer bonuses be dammed. I could have reviewed the shenmue 1 portion within a month of launch, but that damn transfer anxiety made me too nervous and stubborn, so here we are. To be done in late Jan/early Feb 2021, once and for all. (Shenmue III is off the table as I don’t feel like playing a filler game without sega arcade minigames to mess with, so I never asked for a review copy)

Hyper Light Drifter (Switch eShop, 2018) – This one is odd. I actually played a lot of this, along with in co-op, but somehow never wrote my thoughts down? Like, I literally forgot to take notes because I was focused on goofing off in game. Luckily Abylight has told me they are fine with the wait for the review, but I still want to get this done sooner rather than later. A few more sessions of this game, and I should have a review up in late Jan/early Feb.

JUST DANCE 2019 (Switch, 2018)– Wait, what? Yep, it’s me, not reviewing a Just Dance game in the year it existed. Turns out I’m very bad at dancing games and I just can’t get the genre to click, causing problems with this review… But I figured, as a newcomer, I might as well share my POV, so I should get this review out before the game is delisted due to licensing. I no longer plan to cover Ubisoft products in the wake of the serious accusations against the company over the summer, so might as well end on a weird note. Hey, you’ll get my review on the pac-man dance!

80’s Overdrive (3DS eShop, 2018)– The final 3DS game for review on Seafoam Gaming! …Cursed by how I don’t want to touch my 3DS. Now this thing is on switch so like what’s the point? But I stick to what I asked, so thus the 3DS version of this game will be reviewed in January. Need to get over my stubborn nature of a two-screened system and just go for it.

Tokyo School Life (Switch eShop, 2019)- A silly visual novel that’s honestly not that hard to review. I just never ended up getting to it and I need to get on that. It’s not a long game and it actually fuels some of the stuff behind Herwog Zwei’s tutorial mode, so I should have this ready by late Jan.

Steamworld Quest (Switch eShop, 2019)– Picture this: After being blown away by Steamworld Dig 2 after a bit of a delay getting to play it, I eagerly await Steamworld quest, download the game the moment my code is obtained, and play it… then put it down due to the loss of my friend (This was April after all, shortly after his passing), and then when I get back to it, I’m totally lost. I need to give this the attention it deserves, so bear with me. Aiming for a Feb review for this one.

The Yakuza Remastered Collection (PS4, 2020)– This is the biggest of the 2020 ones so far, as I got it in Feb and am only just now about to finish one of the three game reviews I have for this thing. I plan to split this into Yakuza 3, 4 and 5 with the latter summing up the collection’s value as a whole, since you can buy each game separately on PSN. The Yakuza 3 review is very close to being done that you’ll probably see it in the next two weeks! Yakuza 4 will be in Feb and Yakuza 5 shortly after that, along with the summary.

NEW SAKURA WARS (PS4, 2020)– Hey look, it’s a game I was giga hyped for, eager to play early, and then, like with Persona 5 Royal, Covid worries struck me and I barely got to touch it! While thankfully P5Royal got reviewed in the end, (pending a score, which I will actually add come Feb once I spend more time with it to unlock the final mechanics I need to look at! But since I spent nearly 20 hours on it and found it super good, I feel you can be confident if you’re a newcomer to that like I was) Sakura Wars wasn’t so lucky, and thus I aim to fix that issue in Feb, giving this miracle translation a shot.


Conclusion

And… That’s it. Not every game I have to review that’s a long time coming, i left out the final vita game since I’m nearly done with the review (and covering the vita/pstv as a whole!), and Hyperdimension VIIR for the same reason, along with some indies I’m gonna knock down bit by bit, but there’s a biiiiig update, covering my whole year, plans for 2021, and ETAs on a bunch of reviews. Per usual, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below. Until tomorrow, with my worst of 2020 list… Take care!

Thoughts on the Review?

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