Toki Tori 2 is the best video game of the year

toki-tori-2_1

Haha, okay, so this comes with the caveat that I don’t really play that many video games. I used to play a lot more, but I try to do things more productive with my spare time when I can. Recently my video gaming has picked up a bit since I forced myself to slow down with the Forge War business. The goal of that was to spend more time working on my thesis, but a man’s gotta have some procrastination tools at hand, right?

Also I watch a lot of television and the hiatus over the holidays has also given me some free extra time. All of this is to say that I’ve recently been trying to get through my Steam backlog of games purchased in previous Steam holiday sales, and this effort has coincided with the current Steam holiday sale, and so I’ve played a fair number of games in the past few weeks – not all of them from this year, of course – and Toki Tori 2 is the best of the lot (more…)

Fez has restored my faith in everything

fez

Fez is a truly wonderful and beautiful video game. It is such a joy to explore and experience everything it has to offer – I, I can’t even describe the experience I had playing the game, immersing myself in its idiosyncratic logic and just having fun. I think I’ll start by talking about something else and sort of ease into it.

Back in the halcyon days of my youth, I was enamored with a lovely little game called The Neverhood. Okay, who am I kidding? I still love that game. A lot (more…)

It’s Alive!

My very first home-built computer is up and running and I’m feeling a little proud. I’m still waiting on some parts to make it prettier, but it seems to be working well, even after an intensive workout with Darksiders 2.

We hit a couple snags over the weekend, first when I realized that the case I got didn’t have any brackets for the 2.5″ hard drives I was using for my laptop. I guess it’s usually the hard drives that are sold with the brackets, but, you know, I got these from my laptop where they didn’t need brackets, so I was out of luck. Saturday morning I drove all over town looking for these brackets to no avail. Apparently I don’t know how to operate a phone and decided to visit each location in person. It didn’t help that every place I went to seemed very sure that the next place I went to would totally have them.

So after being thwarted on that front, I decided I would just let my hard drives hang out on the table for a few days while I waited for brackets to get shipped from the onlines, which has everything in stock.

But then we ran into more problems when I tried to do a fresh install of Windows. I thought I had a CD, but it turned out to be exclusive to my laptop. When I tried to use it, it was all like, “This is not a ASUS laptop, yo,” and then it shut down. And I was all, “Well, this sucks.”

So I decided to just use the OS hard drive from my laptop instead of doing a fresh install and hope for the best. This little guy was not happy at first, either, but after I removed all the laptop drivers and installed all the drivers I actually needed, things seemed to be looking up. My hard drives splayed out on the table are still making my computer look like an autopsy cadaver, and there may be a few artifacts from the hard drive’s laptop days that are still slowing things down, but it’s doing well and the best part is that I didn’t have to reinstall any of my laptop’s programs. We’re good to go on coding and playing all the video games I couldn’t operate over the last year.

Um…yeah, okay this might actually be a problem. There are way to many games in my Steam account begging to be played now… I know this is common problem among Steam shopaholics, but the thing is, I don’t really think I am a Steam addict, I’ve just been accumulating games for a while now that I just couldn’t play because of overheating issues, and now I suddenly can.

Seriously, we’ve got Darksiders 2, Dark Souls, Sleeping Dogs, The Witcher 2, Trine 2 and Mass Effect 1 & 2 all desperate to be played, and then those bastards at AMD went and gave be Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite and Far Cry: Blood Dragon for free when I bought their video card. Don’t these people know I’ve got SO MUCH coding to do?

Playing the Waiting Game

Without access to a solid computer, my progress on things has slowed considerably. That should all change over the weekend, as the last part of my new computer should be arriving on Friday, but for now, this suuuuuucks.

My brain is not happy about the situation either. It refuses to rest and instead decided to come up with the mechanics for an entirely new board. Dude! Brain! I have enough of those already! Let me finish some stuff before you pile on all these crazy new ideas!

Though my brain is not entirely at fault. I may have asked for it. It all started a month or so ago when the Kickstarter for Torment 2 was finishing up. My favorite author Patrick Rothfuss joined the writing team and blogged, somewhat jokingly, that it was all part of his master plan to get a video game made for his Kingkiller Chronicles.

And THAT got me starting to think about what a board game of the Kingkiller Chronicles would look like. And what if, by the time he released the third book, I were established enough in the biz to work on it for him?

Wouldn’t that be rad? That would totally be rad. I should definitely come up with the entire game right now, just in case I run into him on the street.

Of course, it’s a little hard to do, given I have no idea what happens in the last third of the story, but I made some pretty solid, innovative mechanics for the first two parts and I think with some more polish it could be a pretty awesome game. Sort of a board game/RPG hybrid that is very easy to get into and not all that long or complicated.

So, yeah, stoked about that. Not going to go into details, but I may write a treatise on randomness and the binomial theorem at some later point.

A Comment about Dragon’s Crown

If you are unaware of the issue, you can go here (warning: BREASTS).

I am (or should be) the Dragon’s Crown target audience. I played the shit out of Tower of Doom and Shadow over Mystaria in my youth at the local arcade. It fills my heart with sadness every time I visit my hometown and see that old arcade all boarded up. If there were an arcade around here, I would still be playing the shit out of those games, and, as it is, I have to settle with emulating them on my computer.

In addition, I absolutely love Odin Sphere and Muramasa. I could (and have) played those games all day long, hacking through all manner of monster and having a great old time.

When I heard about the release of Dragon’s Crown by Vanillaware in combination with the designers of the old D&D arcade games over a year ago, I should have been filled with a glee too immense to contain. And I was…kind of…until I started looking at screenshots…and ended up somewhere closer to apprehension.

I don’t want to look at that shit. I am a heterosexual male with a healthy libido, but, man, I don’t know…should I be hiding this game from my wife? The way that witch’s breast jiggle as she’s channeling a spell…it’s, like, pornographic? It leave me speechless. What if I had a small child? What if I don’t want to be horrified by haunted mega-breasts while I chop up some goblins? I don’t get the allure.

Bottom line – it detracts from the game. A lot. A lot a lot. I should be out there in the rain right now waiting to get my hands on a copy, but, as it is, I am not. That is all.

Pikmin

All right, I guess I’ve been slacking a bit on blogging. Tried to do one a week, but then I got lazy.

But now there is resurgence! I’m getting pretty close to being done with Lazy Robots finally, churning out level designs that I think are pretty great.

But judging from the title I wrote down, I guess I want to talk about something else.

Occasionally I’ll find myself at a used media store browsing old games. I usually end up there when I’m tired of listening to whatever CD I’ve been playing in my car for the last 6 months on a loop. So I look through the CDs, and then other stuff (hello Community season 2!) and maybe I end up buying a video game if it’s cheap and I expect to get a lot of use out of it.

I had never played Pikmin before, but it seems to live in the collective gaming consciousness as something at least somewhat revered. Plus Captain Olimar is the best character in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, so I figured I should put some effort into discovering his roots.

Pikmin came out more than ten years ago, but let’s back up just a couple years to when I picked up a game called Overlord (plus the expansion and sequel) from a Steam sale for a couple bucks and really got into it. The game is pretty great. You’re some armored dude who runs around the countryside, commanding an army of minions to cause havoc and blow shit up. Little did I know, however, that the game’s concept was building on something, refining almost every aspect of an old GameCube game.

So when I  pop in Pikmin expecting something new and interesting, I get a very watered-down, tedious and frustrating version of Overlord. Of course, it’s not Pikmin’s fault. It came out first. It planted the flag. It was innovative and I respect what it did, but playing it just made me want to go back and play the more refined game that came out later (I never did finish Overlord 2…).

And I find myself in a weird quandary. I have some drive to play Pikmin. I paid for it, first of all, so there’s some drive to get my money’s worth. Plus, somehow I want to show it the respect that it deserves, like it’s some sort of sentient being. Or maybe it’s a desire to be a well-cultured gaming hipster, like going back and suffering through the original Final Fantasy so that you can say that you did, despite the fact that that game is horribly slow and boring.

I could go into specifics about how Pikmin has become out-dated and tedious by comparison (mostly related to how goddamned slow the Pikmin are, especially when carrying something), but I think my point is made.

I don’t know. I think I’ll give it another shot. We’ve gotta reassemble the ship after all, and escape this planet of adorably dangerous monsters.