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The Changelog – December 2023

Also known as: Fate strikes back.

The NaNoWriMo 2023 Winner Badge

This issue will be another reduced and unconventional one. In fact, as I write this, I am still recovering from a winter flu. It seems to be a 2023 tradition that every time I take a week off from work, I am struck by some pathogen. This year, I swear…

Consequently, it’s December 30th and I have nothing written. Honestly, I don’t have the energy (nor the will) to catch up. However, I don’t want to skip it either.

I decided to spend a couple of hours this afternoon writing something because December is a good month. It is the first month of winter; a season for slowing down, resting, and planning ahead. It deserves something.

Housekeeping

On December 4th, I published an article about the default apps I used the most in 2023. It was part of a blogging trend and I decided to do my part. I was so excited to see again “blogging trends” in 2023!

Reading

December is usually the month when I read the most. However, this year, my December was less interesting, particularly in terms of results. I completed zero books (I think; my tracking has been less than perfect this month).

On the other hand, I am currently juggling four different books that are in progress. I’m not sure if reading multiple books at the same time is a good thing, but it works for me, especially when my focus is particularly scattered.

Watchlist

There wasn’t much happening last month. Or perhaps there was, but it might have been overshadowed by the never-ending stream of Christmas movies.

Actually, there is something worth noting: the new season of Reacher. However, that’s a story for January 2024.

Speaking of Christmas movies, I watched a new one that someone recommended to me on the internet (I’m sorry, but I can’t remember who or where): 8-bit Christmas.

The inciting incident of the story is straightforward: a man (interpreted by Neil Patrick Harris) tells his daughter the story of that Christmas when he really wanted a Nintendo, but his parents refused to buy one. Therefore, he and his friends put in place a lot of wacky plans to get their hands on one.

The film is clearly trying to cash in on the nostalgia train and that Stranger Things’ vibes. However, the result is a pleasant family movie, even if you are not particularly a retro-gaming nostalgic. It’s not spectacular, but I don’t regret the rental money I spent on it.

But, if you want to appeal to nerds like me in a movie about a Nintendo console, for the love of God, at least use the original games. And if you can’t, at least something that resembles an NES game, not those horrible generic 16-bit rip-offs. Nintendo was an 8-bit console, not a 16-bit one. It’s in the damn title.

(Sorry, that made me irrationally frustrated.)

Music

Not much to say. I was on track to beat the 11,983 songs I listened to in 2023. Then I got struck down by the flu, and I will probably end up a couple of hundred songs short.

Another stat: In 2023, I listened to 334 new albums, compared to the 382 from last year.

Finally, as usual, here are the 25 most listened-to albums of December 2023.

Gaming

My PS5 trophy page showing a beautiful platinum trophy for God of War: Ragnarok.
Figure 2. My PS5 trophy page showing a beautiful platinum trophy for God of War: Ragnarok.

This is probably where more action happened. First of all, I got a PS5 at the end of November, and I had a game to catch up on. It was worth the wait: I ended up 100% completing God of War: Ragnarök, including the recently released Valhalla DLC.

The question I am struggling to answer is: is this better than the 2018 game? Yes and no. I love how more polished the mechanics are and how “fuller” the gameplay is. On the other hand, I have this feeling that something is missing. The exploration part is less fun (the only place that came closer is The Crater). The pacing of the story is somehow off. I felt big events slipping by too fast, some characters changing their mental state too rapidly, while other parts moved too slowly. Moreover, one of the things I love about God of War is the spectacle of the colossal… and it’s not there? In God of War (2018), you literally rotate an entire temple, and it ends with an epic battle involving a colossal reanimated giant. God of War: Ragnarök, instead, looks more mundane, and an end-of-the-world event like Ragnarök feels… small? I don’t know. As I said, I am still a bit undecided about it.

But don’t get me wrong. There are hundreds of things to like. For instance, I love how they characterized Odin. It’s a beautiful portrayal of manipulative behavior. If you have had any experience dealing with manipulative individuals in your family, you’ll understand what a good job they did in his portrait. And it is a quite original depiction for a head-of-the-pantheon divinity.

Finally, the DLC is great. It exceeded my expectations, and if you haven’t had the chance to try it, I highly encourage you to do so.

In non-God of War related stories, in December, I also: 1) completed Super Mario RPG and 2) achieved a 99% completion rate (there are a couple of flagpoles I refuse to do 😂) in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Finally, a bit of “completions” in my gaming experience.

Conclusions

And so, that’s it! Not bad for an improvised post. :D

This year, 2024, looks like it is going to be a challenging year for many parts of the world, and part of our job will be to make it better as much as we can. That’s the hard path, but it’s a path worth walking.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take it one step at a time. Let’s start with January. How will you make January better?

I wish you a beautiful 2024, and I wish for myself a 2024 where I can finally take a vacation break.

See you next month.

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