Games I Played

Mario Kart

When I was a kid, we got Double Dash for our GameCube, and even though I didn't consider myself a fan of racing games, I loved playing as Baby Mario or Baby Luigi. For nostalgia's sake, and because I have a GameCube style controller, I decided to play again on an emulator. To my surprise, I found myself really enjoying the game!!! I think it's because I was racing against computers on easy mode, granting me a guaranteed win. It wasn't at all the frustrating and at times demoralising experience I had playing with friends and family.

I quickly gratuated from Double Dash to Mario Kart Wii because, alongside Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, you can play as Baby Peach!!!!!!! Oh my God, I love her so much. She is so cute and silly, and I love the handling on her signature cart, the Baby Stroller. Of all three Mario Kart games I played, I spent the most time in MKWii because I loved the courses, the music, and the sort-of-ugly graphics. My favourite by far is Coconut Mall, with Moonview Highway and Delfino Square as runners up.

I also played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for a little bit, but by the time I picked it up, my hyperfixation was already fading. I think I prefer the controls in MKWii, too. I would only stay for Baby Rosalina— but even then, I prefer Baby Peach! I dunno what it is about her, but she has just captured my heart. I love her. Baby Peach main forever ♥

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

Absolutely, absolutely, most definitely my 2023 Game of the Year! Leave out the part where it was released in 2020— it was new to me and that's what counts! I played it in April, and I believe it was the first game I tried on my new computer. Needless to say, I was satisfied with my new machine's computing power, and VERY pleased with the game I chose to test it out!

As a veteran of the Farm Simulator genre, it's safe to say that there aren't any other games like Sakuna. First of all, you can only plant rice, and you must manually oversee the most minute details of its growing condition— a far cry from the "spread seeds, water once daily" mechanics in Bokujo Monogatari. The learning curve of that system is reflected in the game's narrative because, just like most Farm Sim protagonists, the titular Sakuna-hime is brand new at this!

And man... I could go on for hours about how much I love Sakuna as a character. She is so funny and so cute, at once wise and childish, and also SUPREMELY BADASS!!! She reminds me a lot of myself, honestly— primary fictionkin material!— and I would love to see more of her in a spin-off game. I feel there is a lot of depth to her character that we didn't get to explore in this one.... Maybe there's more in the (very brief) manga, but so far I've ony looked at the pictures.

Anyways, I had a blast dressing Sakuna up in different hakama, forging new weapons to banish demons, and eating dinner with my virtual family every night. The philosophical conversations carried over each meal interested me a great deal, and I enjoyed learning about each character's unique point of view. As for the combat portions, I was a bit skeptical going in, but I quickly realised that was my favourite part of the game. It's fun and floaty and not too difficult at all. I like to use the Berserker equips and buttonmash my way through every level!

Genshin Impact

I used to hate on Genshin like it was a sport, but when I actually tried it in October, I ended up really liking it! For a week or so, I was positively addicted. The game has a way of doing that, LOL, it very obviously hacks your dopamine with pleasing sound effects and easy rewards for instant gratification! I played just in time to get Hu Tao, a character whose design I loved even when I "hated" Genshin, and my fixation faded right on time for me to pull Thoma, my number one (playable) Genshin husbando. Lucky me!

Now, what do I like about this game...? Well, it's like Breath of the Wild with fewer puzzles, tons more boring dialogue, and lots of cute girls to play as!!! (All I want is Linkle in BOTW, please.) I enjoy exploring, picking flowers, and cooking. The combat is just okay— I have a feeling I'd enjoy it more with a better team composition and better characters, in general. And by "better characters" I mean ones that I like more!

Next year, I hope to pull both Nahida and Klee— my top two favourites! If I start playing again in January, I'll have plenty of time to save up my wishes and learn how to make synergistic teams, too. I don't really care about doing big damage or "playing right," though.... As long as I can run around with a cute character model on screen, I'll be very happy!

Fashion Dreamer

Fashion Dreamer was my most anticipated game this year. I counted down the days and everything! Unfortunately, when it finally arrived, it didn't live up to my expectations. The character creator will be very useful for making OCs and such, but the gameplay is grindy and boring, and the NPCs have none of the personality that they did in Style Savvy, the game's spiritual ancestor. It's nowhere near as good as Styling Star and that's just... superemely sad.

Even after all these years, I remember playing the original Style Savvy for the first time. I was on summer vacation and the fan in my laptop had broken, forcing me to entertain myself with more archaic forms of technology, such as the Nintendo Wii and DS. It was a console gaming renaissance for me, to say the least. After I completed my obsessive grind through Pokémon: Black 2's Pokéstar Studios side story, I decided to give this cute fashion game a try... and fell instantly in love.

Quickly the characters, both major and minor, had totally charmed me. Yes, I fell for the ~subtle~ otome plotline with Dominic! And I kept a notebook of my customers' most interesting profile blurbs. As a young writer, I was in awe of how much personality they conveyed in a single sentence. Recently, I saw this screenshot and was reminded of how much I loved this game. Even though this girl Lisa's coord is... questionable, to say the least, she is still exceedingly cute and genuinely interesting to me— more interesting than every last character in Fashion Dreamer.

So, to say that I was disappointed is an understatement. At the same time, I would love to see another title in this series with some Quality of Life updates, a more immersive atmosphere, and a more engaging gameplay loop. It absolutely nails the character design and item creation aspects, it only needs a little more polish! It's not a game that I could ever get addicted to, but I know that when it's time for me to make cute girl OCs again, you can bet your butt I'm going to make them in Fashion Dreamer.

Here's my ID, by the way— an outdated screenshot, but I still thought I would share. My User ID is jbxaVaDAk7. If you also played Fashion Dreamer this year, let me know so we can exchange Lookits! If there's anything that makes this game worthwhile, it's the communication features that allow players to share our love of fasion with others all over the world. I am so, so grateful that online play is free!

Let's School

If I had to pick a Game of the Year that actually came out this year, Let's School is it. Like Fashion Dreamer, this is another spiritual successor to a beloved childhood franchise of mine, Kairosoft— and this one actually makes its mark. Jeez, I cannot tell you how many hours I put into GameDev Story when I was still in elementary school. I have dabbled in other Kairosoft titles, including the one called Pocket Academy which clearly inspired this 2023 release, but GameDev Story was far and away my favourite.

I was reminded of why I loved it so much when I picked up Let's School in August. It's the planning... the meticulous resource management... the elation of reaching a faraway goal...! I loved every second of it! My favourite part was designing the school building itself— a feature unavailable in GameDev Story but heavily featured in another of my favourite games, The Sims. Obviously, The Sims allows you to build much, much more than just schools, but the sheer number of options available in Let's School made it feel just as robust.

I never quite made the school of my dreams— I got tired of the game halfway into building what I presumed would be my magnum opus— but here's a screenshot of one of my much, much earlier builds. I enjoyed running these rustic all-girls schools in the countryside.... Maybe one day I will go back to Let's School, but for now I can safely say that I loved the time I already spent in its world. The cute MySims style character designs made it even more charming and nostalgic.

Hey, maybe that's what I'll play next year— MySims! I would love to play Kingdom again, and perhaps take a look at the titles I never tried, like Agents and SkyHeroes. I bet that would be fun.


I'm ending the year with 83 losses and 0 wins against Sans. I meant to kill him for our first anniversary, but it seems I had other priorities. That said, I've gotten to the final pattern in his final attack... I'm so close to the end!!! Next year, I'll finally get him!

other stuff?

My Artwork

For two Christmases in a row, family members gifted me knock-off Sans plushies. I swear I love them both equally!!! The plushies and the art I made commemorating their arrival!

Obviously, I put a lot more effort into 2022's version, so perhaps this is an unfair comparison? But I will say that 2023 was a great year for me, stylistically. I've realised how much I love drawing with a limited palette because, wow, I do not enjoy rendering AT ALL! I don't like drawing backgrounds! I don't like colouring! These simplistic doodles suit me a lot more, and I think the ease they afford me makes room for my personality to shine through.

You can also see how my relationship with Sans has progressed, hehehe.... He's gone from lurking in the background with a pinched expression to reacting to my obsession with open amusement. I'm glad that this year I was able to let Sans love me.

Most of my art in 2023 was UNDERTALE stuff, so take a look in that gallery for the full breadth of this year's creation.

Anything Else?

Well, there are a few more things to mention. My hair has grown long enough that now I can put it into two puffs even when it's dry and my curls are shrunk. I bet by next December I will be able to get it all into one bun on top of my head!

I decorated my room, too, and discovered for the first time the joy of hanging things on my walls. Though I haven't had much occasion to wear them, I also got some new clothes that I really like. My gorgeous mustard-yellow sundress was this summer's best purchase, and I love all my new cardigans, too.

As for hobbies and skills: I discovered my passion for nature photography, began learning to crochet, and experimented with different forms of meditation. I'm excited to see how these skills develop in the new year!

In Conclusion

2023 Was Not So Bad

It could have been so much worse! After writing all this during the last week of 2023 and first week of 2024, I can say for a fact that it was actually pretty good! I have a lot to be grateful for, so many memories to cherish and tons more to look forward to. I hope that the New Year brings even more joy and contentment for us all. ─