No, The Weekly Video Games Thread is NOT About Being “LOL Random”

Happy Monday, and welcome to the Weekly Video Games Thread! My first one of this year, in fact!

So I could do something that was new year-appropriate. Like, “ooh, what were your favorite game soundtracks last year?” or “in honor of Fire Emblem Engage, what are your favorite video game character haircuts to use two different main colors?” But no. See, I’ve been dealing with quite the itch the past few months and it’s only with my latest gaming experience I’ve been able to scratch.

Months ago, like many of you I caught up on Summer Games Done Quick 2022. The standout of the event by a sizable margin was a four-person playthrough of Pokémon Emerald – specifically, an emulated version that randomized virtually every single element. Pokémon were random, movesets were random, items and TMs had different functions and could be found in different places; every Pokémon even randomly evolved with every single level up. Since then, I’ve become fascinated with “randomizers,” emulations that switch up and replace facets of a game. And while I don’t have the brains (or patience) to do this with an actual emulated copy of a game, there is in fact a game I already own that’s had an in-house randomizer for two years: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

And playing it this way is damn revelatory. The save rooms and fast travel points are randomly swapped with each other. The very first required upgrade I got was the very last movement upgrade in the game; Dimension Shift has allowed me to go all over the place. The “always activated” powers have barely shown up at all. It was in the middle section of the game that I found the accessory that gives you infinite magic. The sword that lets you get past the fake final boss was a random drop. I guess I shouldn’t try to get all the other powers and should just focus on getting to the end. It doesn’t ruin or destroy the experience of playing Bloodstained normally, but it’s wildly altered how I think about it – and how I think about playing games like this (where I typically try to get everything before fighting the final boss).

From this comes my prompt: what familiarity and history do you have with randomizers? Are there any favorites that you’ve played, and of them any you’d recommend? Are there any you’ve seen in speedruns or streams that you’d like to try? And if you were making one yourself, are there any mechanics or alterations you’d like to see available?

Of course, make sure to talk about what you’ve been playing this weekend, because we’d all like to know!