It’s hard to admit, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in obsessive behavior occasionally, especially when it comes to entertainment. It can be a TV series, a game, a series of novels, a comic book universe… It’s the kind of thing where you look up and suddenly realize that it’s 2AM and you have to get up early for work, and then you think, “Well, one more episode won’t hurt,” or, “If I try one more time, I can survive into the next round.”
We asked the staff of The Sports Grind Entertainment what their current media obsessions were. Here are the answers we got, divided into four categories: games, TV series, books, and music. Maybe you even share the enthusiasm they have for some of these.
For all the love I have for video games, I am truly, abysmally bad at playing them. And no game has made that more painfully obvious than Hades. It’s a beautiful title, from the artwork, voice acting, and music scores to the gameplay itself. You play as Zagreus, son of the titular god of the underworld, who must fight his way through ever-changing levels to reach the surface and escape from his father’s realm. Each attempt (presuming you make it to the end) takes around 20-40 minutes — which is just short enough for me to repeatedly give it “one final run” before bed. Dear readers, it is never my final run.
I jumped back into the Greek mythology-inspired roguelike following the announcement of Hades 2 at The Game Awards last year, and I’ve been getting my ass kicked by it ever since. In fact, my Switch Lite has effectively become entirely dedicated to masochistically facilitating my constant defeats. I look forward to being similarly addicted to its sequel. — Jess Weatherbed, news writer
The Dead Space remake
My dirty secret about video game reviews is that I usually expect to hate the game just a little when I finish it — my reviews account for the fact that completing for-fun challenges on deadline just rubs me the wrong way. Motive Studio’s Dead Space remake has proven a dangerous exception.
I beat Dead Space over a weekend for review and loved it. I replayed it the next weekend for the alternate ending. I replayed the final boss of that round because my husband wanted to record the credits for reasons he won’t tell me. (Maybe — spoilers! — he’s channeling a certain engineer and trying to surprise me.) I just started a third run at Impossible difficulty and dreamed I lost my whole playthrough because I got killed by a door. I had a life, Motive. Why did you do this to me? — Adi Robertson, senior reporter
Metroid Prime Remastered
I’m in love with Metroid Prime, a Nintendo GameCube classic from 2002, all over again. The recently released remaster on Nintendo Switch is an incredible upgrade to my favorite game of all time, adding better graphics and improved sound but leaving everything else intact. When I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about where I’ll be going next. (Once I get the double-jump boots, the world of Tallon IV will be my oyster.)
If you played Metroid Prime growing up, Remastered is a fantastic reason to revisit the game. If you’ve never played Prime before, Remastered is the best way to see what it’s all about. —Jay Peters, news writer
Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is expected to be released later this year, but it’s been in early access for years, and I’ve recently been bitten by the “what if Dungeons and Dragons is good” bug. I’ve now spent hours building weird characters and dropping them into the first few hours of the game just to see which character class will be my actual choice when the game comes out later this year. Are there probably better ways to spend my time? Oh, 100 percent, but playing this game on the Steam Deck has wrecked my productivity in a way it hasn’t been since Vampire Survivors came out last year. — Alex Cranz, managing editor
Available for Steam on preorder or early access.
I’m still obsessed with my favorite game of 2020, Umurangi Generation. The indie photography game has such exceptional environmental storytelling, photo mechanics, visual style, and snarky political satire that it’s continued to stick with me whenever topics around climate change, colonialism, or GamerGate nonsense bubble to the surface in my head. I’m pretty sure its underlying Evangelion vibes even set me on track for my mecha rediscovery mentioned below.
The soundtracks for the main game and DLC expansion have been featured prominently in back-to-back years of my personal Spotify Unwrapped highlights, and I couldn’t stop myself from also buying it on vinyl as well as picking up some stickers to adorn my own IRL camera gear. While I’ve been telling myself I need to try newer photography games like Season: A Letter to the Future, I know I must also prevent myself from prejudging it for not just being another Umurangi. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
Persona 5 Royal
The Persona games have always made way more sense as portable experiences to me ever since I slowly picked my way through Persona 3 Portable a decade ago over the course of a summer’s worth of train commuting. So Persona 5 Royal making the jump from PS4 to Switch was the perfect opportunity for me to finally give it a go. Over the past three months, it’s become my trusty companion for every train and bus ride, and even with 70 hours under my belt, I still suspect I might have a good deal of game left to play through.
I’ll admit that Persona can be a bit of an acquired taste, but if you’re into its specific mix of visual novel storytelling and dungeon crawling, then there are quite literally a hundred-plus hours of it to enjoy here. — Jon Porter, reporter
Mobile collectible card games
You know that Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom chases Jerry through the garden, steps on a rake, backs up only to step on a hoe then finally thwacks himself in the face with a shovel? That’s me and mobile collectible card games — better and succinctly known as CCGs. When Marvel Snap came out, it subsumed me. I was enamored of the whip-smart, high-speed gameplay that was so different from any CCGs I’d played before. Snap was so simple and easy to pick up with so many cards and so many mechanics, and I got the biggest kick out of building decks designed to be fun for me and frustrating to my enemies.
But after a while, my enthusiasm waned a bit because playing non-stop between the hours of 5PM and 11PM can drain a person. So I backed away from the Marvel Snap rake, only to step on the Magic The Gathering Arena-shaped shovel.
I play paper Magic once a month with friends. This latest set, Phyrexia: All Will Be One has me playing… nonstop between the hours of 5PM and 11PM. The set’s mechanics and monster designs are powerfully seductive and horrifying, featuring fleshless creatures and things with too many teeth apparently lighting up the part of my brain that really really likes Hellraiser movies.
These mobile collectible card games are scratching my strategy / puzzle itch. They require me to fully engage my brain — which feels good — while also providing the secondary perk of simply winning. — Ashley Parrish, reporter
The West Wing
A friend of mine told me that binge-watching The West Wing — the political comedy-drama that originally ran from 1999 to 2006 — was what got her through the first year of the pandemic. Out of curiosity, I went over to the (soon to be the late lamented) HBO Max and started watching. I found myself caught up once again with the political and personal travails of President Jed Bartlett, chief of staff Leo McGarry, deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman, dour communications director Toby Ziegler, press secretary CJ Cregg, and all the other fast-talking, fast-thinking, and generally fascinating characters.
As I started watching, I couldn’t help noticing a couple of things. First, unlike some other series that have not held up over the years, this one still held me. And second, during some especially fraught moment, I’d think about what we’ve lived through over the years since this series first ran and say to the screen, “You think you’ve got it hard? Just wait….” — Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor
I am also rewatching The West Wing right now. And while all of the unmistakable Aaron Sorkin hallmarks — from the relentless pace to the cloying idealism — give me the occasional eye roll, there is something indulgently reassuring about this competent fictional government run by smart and well-intentioned people. It’s like a Star Trek that hasn’t taken flight yet. Engage. — T.C. Sottek, executive editor
Mobile Suit Gundam and mecha anime
In 2022, I chose to rewatch all of Neon Genesis Evangelion and End of Evangelion before finally making my way around to the completed Rebuild films. All that amazing Eva binging rekindled my love for mecha anime and giant sci-fi robots. I was hungry to get back into another major franchise from my formative years: Gundam. While the Gundam franchise is gargantuan, The Great Gundam Project podcast convinced me to jump back in with the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime of 1979 that I only caught a small glimpse of back in my teenage Toonami days.
It’s been a trip to revisit that original show, and I’m impressed how well it holds up. The animation may be on the simple side, but the artwork and mech designs still astound me. I’m already excited for what other Gundam shows I may move on to next, such as some of my favorites, 08th MS Team and Gundam 0083, and I’ve even been feeling the itch to dig out my old Gunpla models.
It’s an exciting time to get back into this genre, especially since FromSoftware’s Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is due out later this year. In addition to watching plenty of mecha anime as a kid, I played tons of Armored Core 2 on the PlayStation 2, and I can’t wait to see the resurgence of that video game franchise. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
Streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu
Few animated shows in the early aughts captivated as much as Trigun. Based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s manga of the same name, the anime was a mainstay on Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block, where I spent many a night consuming the exploits of lone gunslinger Vash the Stampede as he wreaked havoc throughout a vast, merciless wasteland known as No Man’s Land.
Although the original anime stopped airing in the US some 15-odd years ago, Trigun Stampede — a polarizing CG reboot of the series from the team behind Beastars — recently made its debut on Crunchyroll and Hulu. It’s currently halfway through its 12-episode run, and while Studio Orange takes a lot of liberties with the source material (RIP Milly), I’ve found it to be a fresh, stylish take on the oddball space western that defined my youth. Now, if only they’d bring back that rippin’ soundtrack. — Brandon Widder, senior commerce editor
Streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu
The second season of Warrior Nun came out back in November, and it’s been living rent-free in my head ever since. The first season of the show can be… a chore, but the second season had a big epic romance between a ninja nun and a superpowered bartender / warrior nun. The show is pulpy as hell — the Pope is a character and various religious figures have more familiarity with guns and swords than I would have expected, and ninja nuns are things that exist — but the acting is typically top-notch, the action scenes are delightful and there’s that aforementioned romance that will leave you swooning. The show has since been canceled, but that that hasn’t stopped fans from furiously campaigning for a third season. — Alex Cranz, managing editor
Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot series
I have a confession: I’m weirdly obsessed with BookTok. Sure, a lot of it is shallow and performative, especially the people bragging about how many books they read in a month or year. And a lot of the books are utter trash. But occasionally, some actually good recommendations find their way through the algorithmic thickets and onto my For You page.
And that’s what happened with A Psalm for the Wild-Built, a sci-fi novella that’s the very definition of cozy. It’s the first book in Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot series, in which a tea monk and robot become friends and then travel the countryside together in search of higher meaning. The setting is a small moon called Panga where people live in harmony with nature, characters ride around house-shaped e-bikes, and sentient robots vanished into the wilderness centuries ago, cutting off all ties with humanity — until now. I devoured the first book in less than a week (oops, bragging) and just checked out the second volume from my library. It’s very low stakes, but its themes are still universal. “What do people need?” is the main question it asks, and so far, the answer seems to lie in the journey. — Andrew J. Hawkins, transportation editor
Available on Amazon and Bookshop.org
The Unbroken and The Faithless by CL Clark
CL Clark’s first novel, The Unbroken, broke me. I was not left standing after reading their romantic, harrowing, brutal look at two women who have the hots for each other but are also on different sides of a war between colonizers and the residents of the colony seeking independence. The book ended on a bittersweet note that had me hungry for the sequel, and fortunately for you and me both, The Faithless is coming to bookstores on March 7th.
But even more fortunately for me — I’ve already gotten a copy of The Faithless and have been trying to read it as slowly as possible so I can savor it as long as possible. It’s not quite as dark as the first novel but much more romantic, as the heroines navigate loads of political intrigue and a major succession crisis. The magic found in these fantasy books is much more grounded than a lot of magic systems, and when combined with its unflinching look at the horrors colonialism breeds, it makes for a gritty series of novels where characters always make big decisions but don’t always make good decisions. —Alex Cranz, managing editor
Available on Amazon and Bookshop.org.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Every once in a while, I’ll try to go from being a night owl to an early bird. Surprising no one, I’ve failed 10 years running. But one night, I found myself influenced by the influencer who brought up this book. I usually hate self-help books — the authors tend to peddle “tough love” in the most sanctimonious way possible. But this book was different. Duhigg is more of a journalist than a guru, and the book goes through the science and neurology around habits, how they’re formed, how they impact society, and how you can’t “break” any of them. (You can, however, alter them.)
I’m convinced the TikTok algorithm is reading my diary because now all I get are productivity videos where peppy influencers draw diagrams of the habit loop and share tips on how to hack your brain. And… I genuinely enjoy them? Worse yet, it’s working? All I know is I have Habit Vision now. Every time I see myself falling into old, bad routines, I try experimenting with new ways to alter them into something more useful. I’ve gone from someone who rolls out of bed 10 minutes before work to a weirdo who wakes up at dawn, gets in 30-60 minutes of exercise, cooks breakfast, showers, tidies the kitchen and living room, and reads — all before logging onto work. I even set out my clothes before bed. It’s been months since I’ve started, and it’s stuck. It’s sickening how… manageable it all is.
If you’re someone who’s trying to make the same shift, pick up this book. I swear you’ll get hooked. — Victoria Song, reviewer
Available on Amazon and Bookshop.org
New Jeans is a K-pop band that debuted last summer. The members were all born between the years of 2004 and 2008, which has caused me to feel like I am thousands of years old, but that’s another matter. New Jeans is great.
I can take or leave their music — it’s not bad at all, just isn’t quite my favorite style — but their dance videos are all over my Tiktok and Instagram feeds, and reader, I watch them all. The five members (Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein) are excellent dancers, but more importantly, they’re having so much fun in each and every shot. It’s hard not to feel joyful when you see how utterly thrilled these performers are to be doing their job. We should all strive to have this much fun at work. — Monica Chin, senior reviewer