Useless Blogging

August 24, 2009

Indie Game Review

Filed under: Games,Reviews — steegness @ 12:10 am

Thanks to the magic that is Steam, a couple of weeks ago I downloaded ten “indie” games for a song. I’ve since played at least a little of all ten, and feel the need to share my thoughts.

  • Audio Surf: A very fun game not unlike Guitar Hero meets Tetris in that music plays and you collect gems (Guitar Hero) and collecting them into groups makes them disappear (Tetris). The magic is that it takes YOUR music and does this; using MP3 files on your computer, it generates a path for the game to take, and it’s smart enough to know what’s fast, what’s slow, when the cool parts of songs are, etc. Well executed and fun to watch. I don’t mind getting a couple of songs in before bed with this one.
  • Blueberry Garden: The first of a couple “exploration” games on the list. For the record, I’ve come to determine that I hate games like this. Games that encourage exploration are fun. Games where that’s all you have to go on are not. Games are meant to have goals (which Blueberry Garden DOES have, I’m told), and more importantly, feedback to assist in achieving those goals. Wandering trying to figure out what to do next loses its appeal quickly. The game looks nice, at least.
  • Braid: Possibly worth the price of the whole set. This is a 2D platformer that’s familiar enough to be accessible but rewrites SO many of the notions central to the genre that it’s totally mindbending. Messing with time is a blast, and there are no wasted levels. If you can follow the narrative, it’s a total mindscrew as well, with a brilliant ending. Visually stunning, haunting score (which is made more haunting with its reversal when time is messed with), and great gameplay make this top of the indie heap.
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe: The first of two physics-based games on the list. Very well done graphically, and its puzzles offer numerous solutions. So many ways to complete the tasks leave it open for a lot of creativity, but it also means that you can likely blow through the levels (there are over 70) in a shorter order than you’d think. It DOES have replay value, but if you’re the type of person who likes getting to the end and stopping there, it stands to be a little short, as there’s not a WHOLE lot of incentive to go back and do things new ways.
  • Darwinia: Somewhere in the real-time strategy realm lives Darwinia, but I don’t know its exact address. I’ll say that it seems fun save for the control scheme (both units and camera) being too dodgy for my liking.
  • Everyday Shooter: An Asteroids-style game with a few minor tweaks, the most major of which is the soundtrack. Fun enough for a while.
  • Gish: A 2D platformer, except you’re a ball of tar. That’s a bit of an undersell, because the game’s really fun. It turns out that making your hero a ball of tar leads to some new game mechanics that can add a smidge of real world physics into an otherwise fantasy world.
  • Mr. Robot: An isometric 3D … strategy? RPG? … game that casts you as a robot taking care of things while the humans are in cryosleep. Thus far I’ve had good times playing it, but a less than stellar control scheme is getting in my way too much; the game at times requires fast and precise actions, and I’ve yet to feel like I can pull that off consistently. Don’t let that stop you from trying it out.
  • The Path: Really, this whole post is an excuse for me to write about The Path. This game is atrocious. Remember all that stuff I said about Blueberry Garden, and how exploration games weren’t my thing? For starters, The Path is an exploration game. There’s no map, no real dialogue, no point in anything you’re doing (at least, no point that’s revealed to you while you’re still interested in what you just did). Just looking around, doing unrelated things, until one of two things happens: you decide to turn the game off, or you decide to finally go to the house that you were told to go to at the start of the game. (If you go to this house, without veering from the path, as the onscreen instructions indicate you ought to do, you get to the end and fail. FAIL.) The website is full of people going “you just don’t get it”; I get it, all to well. I don’t think the designers do. This isn’t a game; it does not occupy the same mental space as anything rightfully called a “game”. It’s more akin to what it pretends to be portraying: a walk in the woods, only in the real woods there’s more to explore and the narrative has more clarity.
  • World of Goo: The other physics-based game, this one is based around construction using goo balls that can form lattice-type work to create wobbly masterpieces. The story is actually a good one, if you’re up to following it, and the puzzles range from easy to “Wow, people think this stuff up and still expect to get into Heaven?” Visually, it’s pretty awesome, second only to Braid on this list, I think. Fun factor is very high.

January 6, 2009

Game Glut

Filed under: Games — steegness @ 11:18 pm

Games that have very recently come into my possession in the past two weeks or so:

  • Wii

    • Guitar Hero: World Tour
    • Midway Game Party
    • Disney Sing It
  • Playstation 2 (this includes the whole system)
    • Star Wars Battlefront II
    • Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age
    • Bully
  • Nintendo DS (this includes the whole system)

    • Brain Age
    • Final Fantasy III
    • New Super Mario Bros
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass
    • Zoo Tycoon DS
    • Namco Museum DS (featuring Pac Man)
    • Mario Party DS
  • PC
    • SimCity Societies
    • Grand Theft Auto IV
    • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

Holy hell, people. It’ll take me a month to dig out from this bounty (and this is ignoring the fact that Julz left Die Macher here too).

December 28, 2008

Getting a band together

Filed under: Family,Games,Reviews — steegness @ 2:37 am

So I picked up Guitar Hero: World Tour today (using Christmas funds), and I’ve got so say: good times.

Short thoughts from night one:
– The fact that Sara and I could play together was AWESOME.
– Six drum hits (five pads/one pedal) is AWESOME.
– The fact that I now have two guitars (so I can finally work co-op on GH3) and two microphones (so the kids can duet on their new Disney Sing It) is AWESOME.
Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” is TOTALLY AWESOME. That song was practically MADE for a Guitar Hero game.

April 21, 2008

The World’s Hardest Game

Filed under: Games — steegness @ 6:14 am

The World’s Hardest Game (as seen on Kotaku).

October 7, 2007

Women’s Volleyball

Filed under: Family,Friends,Games — steegness @ 12:19 am

Today I got to enjoy a sport that I haven’t really had much chance to see since college: Juniata women’s volleyball (if you couldn’t have mostly guessed that from the title — I fail at suspense). JC was in town for a Landmark Conference tournament at Goucher College. We took on Catholic University and wiped them out in straight sets.

Afterwards my loving wife allowed me to have dinner with some of the Juniata people present at the game. Most were local, but Katie P. (now D.) and her husband made the drive down from Juniata, as this was technically an official alumni event (and she’s Director of Alumni Relations) (and he’s a prof at JC) (and they’re both swell people).

In not-totally-unrelated news, I must use this space to once again announce how my mom rocks, and is always there when we need her most. Thanks, Mom.

August 23, 2007

Rangers’ 30 runs sets AL record in rout of Orioles

Filed under: Games — steegness @ 4:28 pm

ESPN – Rangers’ 30 runs sets AL record in rout of Orioles – MLB

Anyone got the Ravens’ number?: The Baltimore Ravens, who play across the parking lot from the Orioles, haven’t allowed 30 points since Week 12 in 2005.

To make us feel better, ESPN.com offers 99 other notable blowouts.

August 7, 2007

Michael Irvin’s Hall Of Fame Speech

Filed under: Family,Friends,Games — steegness @ 9:17 pm

Below the cut since it’s long, but I wanted to make a copy somewhere, and this seemed like the right place. It’s worth a read, and certainly worth watching.

(more…)

July 28, 2007

Bonds on the Brink

Filed under: Games,My World,Thoughts — steegness @ 1:10 am

MLB.com covers #754.

This past Tuesday, friends from high school invited me to attend an Orioles game. Before the game, there was a sendoff ceremony for Cal Ripken Jr., who will enter the Baseball Hall Of Fame on Sunday.

There were so many — myself included — who held up Gehrig’s streak as untouchable. 2130 games! Even with the massively long baseball season (compare it to football, if you would), that number is horrendously out of reach for most imaginations. But maybe that was the magic of it; it wasn’t a record about imagination. It wasn’t about skill, or power, or anything that only certain people could possess. It was about showing up and working hard. About taking care of yourself and your team. It’s a record that can’t be bought, sold, or bartered for, as there’s nothing in the world aside from grit, determination, and a rock-solid work ethic that can make your game fifteen years down the line as simple as the first.

He worked hard. He shilled for milk. The night he broke Gehrig’s record, he thanked his parents, his wife, and Eddie Murray — all people I’d also credit for making me the way I am. As he stood there… as he will stand on Sunday… I feel great pride in even the most passing association I can have with that man. (aside: read Sporting News’ reprint of their 1995 Sportsman of the Year article.)

And now we’re on the cusp of another broken record, another unreachable milestone… and I feel almost dirty having played baseball in my past. 755 is another dream number that stands tall in the minds of baseball fans (I’d peg the last big number to be 56), and I’m practically sickened by the man who stands to break it and the stormcloud that surrounds him. I get that not everyone can be the paragon of integrity that Cal Ripken sought to be (and achieved pretty well, I’d say), but just the mere thought of Bonds overtaking Aaron makes my skin crawl.

The worst part is that this is the best thing going for sports right now! Katie Couric quizzed sportwriter William Nack on the craziness of it all, and satirical web-rag The Onion put the current world into sharp relief with their wit in a story meant to be funny, but finds itself true, all too true.

Looking around, it’s hard to find ANY ethics, much less a solid work ethic. Character is a thing of the past, a relic immortalized in bronze and tucked away for our kids to gawk at later. We cheer it, sure, but we only get to experience it alongside whatever other nostalgia is going on.

When Cal broke Gehrig’s record, I cried. If and when Bonds break Aaron’s record, I may cry again, but for a vastly different reason.

If you’re a Major League pitcher reading this, and you face Bonds, pitch around him. Even if it walks in the winning run, pitch around him. Not because he doesn’t deserve to break the record (though he doesn’t), but because we as fans of the game don’t deserve him.

June 25, 2007

A Sentence, The Type Of Which I’d Like To Read More Often

Filed under: Games — steegness @ 4:17 pm

(via Kotaku)
“Above, Princess Zelda, kicking Samus right in the babymaker.”

June 6, 2007

Happy Golf Day!

Filed under: Friends,Games — steegness @ 9:19 am

Happy Golf Day, folks!

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