With money still a concern I’d say this is when I really locked into the Digital vs. Retail mindset. I subscribed to PlayStation Plus for a few months, dug into search and survey programs to earn giftcards, and stuck to downloadable releases. For the cost of a few on-disc releases I played a whole lot more and here’s the Q2 recap to prove it.
Dinosaur Hunting: The Playthrough begins (and concludes)!
The game I’ve loved since 2002 and tried to get through since 2005 was finally conquered! I still can’t read any of the Japanese text but I did captured the entire game for posterity on YouTube. I could explain it here but, ya know, there’s all those videos you could watch instead.
Happy Action Theater for Kinect
To entertain our nephew when he came to visit, the Kinect tomfoolery turned out to be a little over his head but we had fun goofing around with lava and pigeons.
Star Wars Starfighter on Xbox
I don’t even remember what reminded me about this game but in the doldrums of the early spring I found it at a local shop for cheap and played up to my favorite mission… and haven’t touched it since.
Fez on Xbox 360
A gorgeous, mind-bending game within a game that was wonderful to experience alongside other players. The clever 3D-in-2D platforming quickly gives way to even bigger mysteries and you find yourself deciphering hidden codes and transcribing an alien language.
World Gone Sour on Xbox 360
Another game-within-a-game, it was the connection to Giant Bomb and some free Microsoft Points from Bing that had me strolling through this pedestrian platformer.
Kinect Voice Studio on Xbox 360
I read disjointed phrases out loud into my Kinect and felt like I was activating a sleeper cell. Free Achievements and dumb Avatar gear abounds as you fine tune how Kinect interprets phrases like “Sally seemed unhappy with her husband”.
Trials Evolution on Xbox 360
I love to hate myself and nothing made it more apparent than Trials! You may scream at it but the game of physics-centric bike gymnastics is perfectly designed to punish and teach… and that makes the reward feel sooo very nice.
Driver: San Francisco on clearance for Xbox 360
Tanner’s in a coma and can fly in and out of cars around The City as he tries to solve a crime caper he’s overhearing via news reports in his hospital room. There’s a lot of open world padding to distract you but stick with the story missions and you’ll experience one of the most peculiar, well written driving games ever.
Sports Champions for PlayStation Move
I found a Move bundle for $40 and grabbed it. Despite its completely horrible cast of generic and annoying stereotypes it’s one of the best feeling motion games I’ve ever played.
Datura for PlayStation Move
This is why I wanted the Move bundle to begin with. It’s a clever, trippy first-person puzzler that mostly pulls off its motion control gameplay effectively.
A return to Trials HD on Xbox 360
I wrapped up Trials Evolution and was hungry for more! I went back to Trials HD for one day and cleared out all but one Achievement and the rest of the Hard courses I was too afraid to tackle when it originally came out. That felt great!
Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest for PlayStation Move
This was included in my Move bundle and it is complete garbage. It has a good premise and style but it’s a total bore, chore and pain to actually play.
Kung Fu Rider for PlayStation Move
I knew going in this wasn’t a great game but for $3 it was well worthwhile. Puzzly, frantic physics racing abounds and the animation and style are something to be seen. Despite the sometimes-unreliable, awkward motion controls I had a good time S-ranking this one.
Parameters free online
It’s an RPG in microcosm. Experience all the thrills, grinding, looting, and leveling of any JRPG in spreadsheet form. It doesn’t sound it but Parameters is addictive!
Fallout 3 Game of the Year on Xbox 360
Last year I was late to New Vegas and in 2012 I was even later to Fallout 3. I was tired of Skyrim and wanted a new world to explore and exploit so I finally played through Fallout 3. I personally liked New Vegas more but this is still epic, time-sucking sci-fi RPG heaven.
Bejeweled Blitz Live on Xbox 360
This was on sale and another purchase offset by Bing rewards points. It broke my heart by making me realize my eyes and reaction times are slowing down with old age.
Midnight Club 2 free on PC
I loved the hell out of Midnight Club 2 and so I jumped at the chance for a free PC copy. I think all that was required was joining a Rockstar Steam group and, bam, I was back in 2003, point-to-point street racing with one of my favorite soundtracks.
Star Wars Episode 1: Racer on Dreamcast
Racer is always on my mind and for a few days I finally went back to it. I was afraid it had lost some of its luster with age but it remains incredibly fast, challenging and packed with annoying B-list alien voice samples.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown on PlayStation 3
I haven’t touched Virtua Fighter since VF3 on Dreamcast! It was great to have a chance to check it out again through PlayStation Plus and find I’m still OK with Pei; I even won a couple online matches!
Warhammer 40k: Space Marine on PlayStation 3
Another PlayStation Plus title; I don’t know why people speak so highly of this game. It starts out fun and you feel incredibly powerful but it just kept going, long after I stopped enjoying it. The annoyingly, repetitive Ork voices didn’t help either. SPOICE MUREEN!
Hard Corps: Uprising on PlayStation 3
I’d have never paid full price for this game but as a PS+ offering I had fun pummeling myself against its brutal, old school Contra designs. The Ark System Works art and music just made it all the more fun.
Choplifter HD on PlayStation 3
Watching this game seemed like it could be fun but actually playing it (another PS+ title) was a pain. Fly, dodge, shoot, crush your passengers, repeat forever… or about 30 minutes… and then delete it.
LittleBigPlanet 2 on PlayStation 3
I loved the original, a LOT, but not even new features and another gajillion user made masterpieces has made the game fun enough to stick with. And I only played LBP2 because it was another PS+ offering.
Sideways: NY on PlayStation 3
A platformer where 2D graffiti comes to life and adventures around an urban 3D world should’ve won me over. Problem is, by the time Sideways was released I’d played the concept to death via numerous flash games. Too little, too late. Oh, also a PS+ game.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light on PlayStation 3
This is the last PS+ game on this list and quite the surprise. The demo seemed fun enough but playing the full game I was floored by the intricate art style and a great mix of action and puzzling.
Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut on Xbox 360
That fan outcry forced a top developer and publisher to rewrite the end of their game is way more important than the content herein. Star Baby explains more of what each choice means and you get a little epilogue of what that choice means in the near and long term for the universe. I was fine with the original ending and this is OK too.
Ultimately it probably serves best as an example to developers and publishers that by the time you implement changes to appease the most upset fans they will have moved on to complain about something else.