Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Giant Tree


When some people see a giant tree standing alone, they marvel at its magnificence, they consider their own insignificance, and perhaps they even feel a connection to God. Me? I chop that sucker down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Indiscriminate Murder is Counter-Productive

While also true as just a moral point of view, the above phrase is an even more impressive song. I discovered it while browsing through available tracks to download through the Rock Band Network, and (obviously) the title spoke to me. So I listened, I enjoyed the snippet I heard, and took a chance on the tune.

And now I've found a new band that I like. It's a fun combination of 8-bit Nintendo licks with an accomplished metal band on top. Think Coheed and Cambria meets Rad Racer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Search for Sky Islands


Sky islands are one of the most exciting finds in Terraria, both because of their potential for exceptional loot and because they're so difficult to find. They're so difficult...difficult to...to find...

Really?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can You...


I was looking for that site www.canyourunit.com, and Google gave me the correct recommendation...along with another kind of hilarious suggestion.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Renewed

Hey guys, just as a heads up, I'm clearing out 2011's movies and games, and starting the new list for 2012. Exciting, right?

No, it's not exciting, don't patronize me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Zombie Hard at Work


Zombie Bill is hard at work, burning the midnight oil despite his LACK OF A HEAD.

2011 Games of the Year #1 - Terraria

There are two things I like in video games: I like making stuff, and I like blowing stuff up. Terraria offers both options in spades, so I like Terraria. A lot, in fact. Enough to net the #1 spot on my games of the year list for 2011.

Terraria is reminiscent of Minecraft, but it's got a few aspects that I think set it apart, positively. First, Terraria has a bit more direction for you. There are feats to accomplish, and rewards for doing so:
  • Build a house? You now have somewhere safe from zombies when night falls, and a place for NPCs to hang out.
  • Shatter an evil orb? A meteorite may fall from the sky, giving you access to a unique resource to craft better armor and weapons.
  • Defeat Skeletron, a floating skeleton head and a pair of bony hands? The tailor is free of his curse, and can offer you his wares.
Additionally, Terraria is 2D, rather than Minecraft's 3D nature. Certainly there is value to the 3D system, but adding the third dimension also adds another level of trickiness to the game, and at least in my limited experience, another level of frustration in building. Also, by using a 3rd-person point of view, with a standard mouse cursor, it's much easier to be able to build what you're actually trying to build, without having to constantly mine and place blocks (I cite my crafted version of Air Man as an example).

Finally, and I may get some detractors here, but I think Terraria's just a better-looking game. The graphics are eye-pleasing if simplistic, and everything is crisp and easy to see. It may run on basically Super Nintendo graphics, but the Super Nintendo did alright. I don't remember people ever complaining that Final Fantasy III didn't look good enough.

Terraria's got a nice flavor when played multiplayer, as it adds in that level of panic that all good multiplayer needs. You can work together to take down bosses, and cover each other while harvesting the lands resources. It's also got a PvP option, though I've never used it. But I could see it being fun, in the right circumstances.

More than anything, I like Terraria's potential. The game has received two huge updates since I purchased it last year, and I've read plenty of articles of people talking about their gaming experiences, and sharing their creations. I've really enjoyed what I've seen so far, and I'm excited about how much more it can be.

Oh. And as always...fuck Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2011 Games of the Year #2 - Dead Island

As someone who's got a history of liking zombie games, I looked forward to Dead Island for a while. From Left 4 Dead to Dead Rising, and through a plethora of lesser games, I've always been on the lookout for another zombie game. Something about killing zombies just feels gratifying, more so than Nazis or wild beasts. It's like I'm doing God's work...

Dead Island is a slightly different kind of game from a lot of the other zombie games out there, though. It draws on two games in particular: Left 4 Dead (obviously) and Borderlands (not so obviously). The basic scenario (zombies overrunning everything) and many of the enemies seem to hearken back to Left 4 Dead. And it definitely induces the same sort of panic when you start getting pummeled by the infected.

But overall, the game is actually more like Borderlands, morphed into a melee-heavy game. You spend a lot of time accumulating gear and doing quests. The missions are fairly straight-forward: kill X zombies, collect Y supplies, escort Z bastard back to base. Yes, there are escort quests, and yes, they suck ass, just as they do in every other game. But the innate universal bullshit of escort quests isn't enough to counter the substantial awesomeness of Dead Island.

One of the cooler facets of the game is the crafting of new weapons. You can take a simple weapon like a baseball bat and add barbed wire or razors, or take a machete and charge it with electricity. You can also create bombs, Molotov cocktails, and ammunition. Guns aren't all that useful in the game, but they have their place. Mostly, though, you're hacking and slashing up close and personal, which gets pretty tense. Especially because you really can't take many hits before you're toast.

Multiplayer is enjoyable, though you'll likely miss out on some of the cutscenes because people click through, or because you're hearing your friend talk shit. Truthfully, though, the story in my experience so far has been fairly blah, so you're not missing much. The negatives of missing plot points are far outweighed by the enjoyment of partnering up with three friends and stomping on zombie skulls.

Though there are ways to improve upon it, Dead Island one of the strongest zombie games out there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Magic Cards - Crash Man


A friend and I have been tinkering with a freely available Magic Set Editor program, using it to create a for-fun Magic set using Mega Man 2. Above is one of the cooler cards we've created. Yes, I just used "cool" to describe a Magic card based on an old Nintendo game. My nerdity knows no bounds. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch some Star Trek: Voyager.

2011 Games of the Year #3 - Magic 2012

As Anthony put it, "The game so nice you bought it twice!"

Many months ago, Xbox Live had a sale that dropped Magic 2012's price down to $5, and so I jumped on it. I've always been intrigued by Magic: The Gathering, but it's quite a complex system, which makes it a bit intimidating. And when you're a nerd like me, you're easily intimidated. I had bought the previous version, and I found it fun, but frustrating, as it was pretty buggy. Interesting enough that I was willing to give the new version a half a shot, and boy am I glad I did.

The game is...well, it's Magic. But there are a few things that the game does particularly well to bridge the gap between Magic neophyte and total nerd-bomb.

The first thing is the decks. They start you with just two decks to choose from, and they're fairly straight-forward decks. That's not to say they don't have their own intricacies and nuances, they're just a little easier to spot. As you play the game and win matches, you unlock more and more decks, with escalating levels of complexity. So by the time you win the last few decks, you've learned enough to actually be able to use them effectively.

The second bridging factor is the use of "puzzles." The advanced puzzles are mostly exercises in frustration, but the first 6 or 7 are learning tools. They help you learn about some of the more common keywords and activated abilities, and teach you (often through trial and error) how the different cards work together, and how to generate synergies. Some of it can be frustrating, but it's pretty damn gratifying when your plans come together perfectly.

It's got online multiplayer which is entertaining enough, but the most fun I've had playing the game is playing local multiplayer, using the Archenemy feature. Archenemy is a 3 vs. 1 game, where the solo player gets bonus "schemes" that give him a distinct advantage. Only by the three players working together can they defeat the Archenemy, and Nick, Eddie and I have spent several hours working together to try to take down the super-villain.

In Steam's end-of-the-year sale, the PC version of Magic went on a deep enough discount, and enough of my friends purchased it that I grabbed a second copy so that I could play with them. And in fact, I purchased a third copy that I gave to Scooter, so we could play some cross-continent battles. They've come out with three deck packs that offer two new decks apiece, and I've purchased all three for PC, as well as two of the three for 360.

It's a good strategy game that takes some time to get the hang of, but when you do, it's a lot of fun. And the games are short enough that you don't have to play for four hours to feel like you did something. I'm looking at you, World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2011 Games of the Year #4 - Jolly Rover

There was no way I could've predicted this game making the top five list at the beginning of the year. There was also no way I could've predicted this game making my top five when I actually started playing the game. Jolly Rover wasn't striking off the bat, and it wasn't a particularly long, or challenging, or immersive game. And yet, all those aspects seemed to work together just fine to create a perfectly enjoyable game.

Jolly Rover is a point-and-click adventure game, like the old King's Quest and Police Quest games. Your character is a poor, scrawny little pirate dog, so you can't use brute force or high tech gadgets to accomplish your goals. You have to use your wits, your instincts, and the occasional input from your chirpy little parrot, who gives you clues if you give him a cracker.

Anyways, you move through your mission...quest...thing, meeting characters, getting bullied, and making funny asides. The puzzles are fairly interesting, and the jokes are actually quite witty. As I said, the game isn't an epic, but that actually works in its favor. The humor might run thin over a 14-hour game, but for just a few hours, it stays fresh and fun.

The one half-complaint I have about the game is that you can't lose. I don't mean that you have to start over if you fail; I mean that you literally aren't allowed to do anything that would cost you the game. In this regard, Jolly Rover is more of a cinematic experience than a game. But you definitely don't feel like you're not part of the adventure.

The best thing I can say about Jolly Rover is that it reminded me how much fun I used to have playing point-and-click adventure games. It was a fun, quick experience that I'm glad to have had.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2011 Games of the Year #5 - Pokemon Pinball Ruby/Sapphire

Way back when I was living at home, we had kind of an unreliable power situation. When weather hit, either heavy thunderstorms or heavy snow, we often lost electricity at the house, and we'd have to either sit around and do nothing or play Kevin's Game Boy. So we'd usually trade off turns on the original Pokemon Pinball.

With a 17-hour train trip down to Disney World at the beginning of 2011, I knew I'd need to be entertained for a while. So I grabbed my own Game Boy Advance and snagged a copy of Pokemon Pinball Ruby/Sapphire to fill the time. And it was worth it.

The game is simple enough; it's pinball. There are two boards, one much more difficult than the other, but both follow the same basic premise. You capture various pokemon, evolve them, run through bonus levels, and so forth. It's really not so much that the game is anything special; it's just a fun, simple game in portable form. Sometimes that's all you need. Good enough for #5 on the list.

No matter what...


...life finds a way. Even in between two meteorites.

Games of the Year - 2011 Eligible List

Last year was a much different year than previous years as far as my video gaming, the big difference being that I really didn't play much in the way of "new" games. Most of my gaming time was spent revisiting games I had played in the past (Mass Effect, Dead Rising 2, Rollercoaster Tycoon, World of Warcraft) or continuing to play multiplayer games that I started playing a year or two before last (Borderlands, League of Legends). This leaves us with a fairly sparse list of eligible games, and a tough decision on which games will make my top five. But hey, that's why they pay me the big bucks, right?

Here's the list of eligible games for my 2011 Game of the Year:

Gameboy Advance
Mega Man Battle Network 3
Pokemon Pinball Ruby/Sapphire

PC
BIT.TRIP.BEAT
Champions Online
DC Universe Online
Dead Island
Half-Life
Jolly Rover
Magicka
Puzzle Pirates
Terraria

Playstation 3
Call of Duty - Black Ops
Demon's Souls

Xbox 360
Dead Rising 2: Case West
Magic 2012

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...