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Everything I played in Q4 2012

Is this desperation for new platforms to play on? Backlash to the mobile games I hate on my phone? Or was it just because Katy got a job? A little of each, I suspect, brought us to buy both the 3DS XL and the PlayStation Vita this quarter along with some other stuff. Here’s the gist of all the games I played in Q4:

The Nintendo 3DS XL
I’m still flying high on the free stuff, enjoying the daily shaking for Play Coins and StreetPassing with Katy. It’s a very Nintendo experience but one that’s got more tricks than just glasses-free 3D. I like the random surprise StreetPasses, the actual Friends list, the AR games and even the eShop. The damn Pokedex app is even drawing me towards my first Pok-experience.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy for 3DS
I love, love, love the art style and the gameplay/progression is fun but I had forgotten about the DLC situation. Fully experiencing the game would cost another $60 making the game I already paid for feel like a demo. It’s a bummer and makes me not even want to play.

Dishonored on Xbox 360
It’s been so many years since anything got this close to Thief that I’m willing to forgive Dishonored’s stealth shortcomings. Overall an enjoyable playground of situational exploitation with an alternate ending that’s well worth the trouble of replaying the game to see.

Tekken 3D Prime Edition for 3DS
I haven’t touched Tekken since Tekken 3 and with a brand new 3DS I happily jumped on this for the clearance price of $8. The 3D, CG movie is a hilarious bonus and though the game itself is missing the silly character endings there’s still loads of fighting to enjoy. Online multiplayer is a laggy mess but the Special Survival mode is perfect for bite-sized fits of pugilism.

Wreckateer for Kinect
It’s the Angry Birds for Kinect that you really wanted! The motion controls are surprisingly good here and the physics-driven destruction feels satisfying. Bonus points for nods to Giant Bomb in the dialog.

Intel Discovered for Kinect
This free FMV “game” is painful to watch and even more so to “play”.

The PlayStation Vita
A confluence of fortunate events led me to get an 8gb, 3G Vita for $180. It’s a shame there isn’t more support for the thing because it’s a pretty slick package of technology that almost magically interplays with the PS3.

Treasures of Montezuma Blitz free for PS Vita
It’s a clone of Bejeweled Blitz but it’s one of console gaming’s first free-to-play apps and damn fun regardless. It’s so captivating that I’m regularly seeing the colored jewels flipping back and forth in my sleep.

Reality Fighters for PS Vita
I got this on clearance and though it’s a pretty spammy, possibly unbalanced fighting game it packs plenty of neat AR tricks and fighting styles to be a good bit of fun.

Frobisher Says free for PS Vita
It’s WarioWare for the Vita and its wonderful Brithish-ness had me literally falling over with laughter. A great tech demo and a great game to play with a group.

Dynasty Warriors Next for PS Vita
Another clearance find, this streamlined DW makes for a fine handheld experience with short battles and touch screen/AR tomfoolery. Could be a good entry point into Dynasty Warriors as the console titles rarely show up cheap.

Pid on Xbox 360
Love the look (and especially the sound) but it’s a challenge to play and not just because it’s designed that way. Load times after every death add up and the control never feels suited to the precision the game requires to progress.

Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove for 3DS
I got this on sale (with a toy figurine) from Natsume and boy am I happy I waited for a discount. It’s terribly cute with its pastel halloween world and the animations are darling but there’s SO much talking and precious little rhythm gameplay. It’s slow going that I’ve only been able to handle in small doses.

Halo 4 on Xbox 360
A friend came to visit, took a nap and left me with a chance to play Halo 4. I haven’t touched the series since Halo 2 and I’m astonished by how little changed. The elaborately gargantuan production has boiled the personality out of the series leaving a shriveled, boring husk of sci-fi schlock.

Too Human on Xbox 360
I’m happy to own a piece of gaming history that Silicon Knights has been forced to erase. Controversy aside this game of techno-vikings could’ve been a fun loot-fest but the analog stick combat feels more like I’m pointing at enemies instead of deftly defeating them.

Hot Shots Golf World Invitational for PS Vita
A perfectly fun and competent game of golf. I only wish felt more like Mario Golf which is where I’ve spent most of my video golf time over the years. The Vita features are cute but inconsequential and thankfully don’t interfere with simply golfing and unlocking new clubs, balls, courses and play styles.

Quantum Conundrum on PlayStation 3
Back on PlayStation Plus as a birthday gift I was eager to jump into “that game by that one person who worked on Portal”. Sadly it’s just more test chambers only without the clever writing, atmosphere or likeable personality.

Sonic the Hedgehog on PlayStation 3
Another Plus freebie, I once again played Sonic’s debut adventure for trophies. As disruptive and hip as it may have been in its day the blue guy sure isn’t very fast looking back now. Most of the game is spent sussing out how not to die and slowly bypassing obstacles.

Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition on PlayStation 3
This is honestly the first Resident Evil game I’ve played since Code Veronica on Dreamcast. The series is still just as illogical and nonsensical. Usually I love bizarre Japanese design but since RE2 every entry has put me off. This one was no different.

Max Payne 3 on Xbox 360
A fantastic and fitting Max Payne game! Rockstar honors what Remedy created and takes it forward. Maybe a little too far forward as the game drags on to the point I could no longer believe in the reality the first half of the game establishes so well.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss for PS Vita
The game routinely impresses with visuals on par with its PS3 counterparts. It also has the not-quite-great combat of the other games too, made even harder by the Vita’s tiny thumbsticks and tinier heads to aim at. The Vita touches are novel and don’t pop up often enough to be annoying but I found the touch climbing to be super useful. The game does drag on for a while and the story/dialog is weaker than Naughty Dog’s but overall it was a fun and playable Uncharted on the go.

Spec Ops: The Line on Xbox 360
Mediocre shooter gameplay and some rough visuals are the only thing dogging this otherwise fantastic story of how far a man will go to justify his beliefs. Great writing, great performances and a twist I didn’t see coming that leads into several endings I didn’t expect either.

Hotline Miami on Steam
A fantastic, frantic and brutal top-down “puzzle slaying game” which I would love to play more of if it would ever load up on my PC again.

AKB1/149 Love Election Box: Powered by -Open Me- for PS Vita
I love the augmented reality puzzle boxes of ‘Open Me’ that I saw at E3. This isn’t nearly as clever but it does let you maneuver around a giant box covered in AKB members on a physical photo hunt. It was also free, don’t judge.

Spelunky on Xbox 360
The time finally came (thanks to Bing) to dive into the updated version of the PC classic I’d been playing throughout the year. I came around on the new art style and music and found the game even more addictive and hopelessly endless.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on PlayStation 3
After finishing Golden Abyss on Vita I wanted to finally play Uncharted 3 despite warnings from friends online. What a mess, it’s the National Treasure of video games. How did this happen to Uncharted!?

Don’t Starve on Steam
Another roguelike, this one mashing up the terrors of life in Minecraft with the constant resource gathering and farming of Harvest Moon. It has become terrifyingly compelling as the beta continues to evolve and looks as if Tim Burton had drawn children’s books.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack for PS Vita
This pseudo sequel retains the charming 50’s aesthetic and the cheeky references but it also retains the focus on platforming mechanics which made the original game less than stellar. More Katamari “absorb everything” please, and less run-from-the-lasers precision jumping.

Bioshock 2 on PlayStation 3
I finally got into this one after Sony offered it up on PlayStation Plus. I wasn’t interested in a Big Daddy’s tale or a sequel to BioShock but the world of Rapture is still captivating and the exploration and combat satisfying. And that Sophia Lamb is one foxxy villain!

187 Ride or Die on Xbox
I made Katy play this “Mario Kart in tha Hood” and got hooked all over again. Poorly written early 2000’s gang slang accompanies moderately entertaining kart combat. It’s fun in small doses.

R-Type Command on PSP
I went back to my favorite hex-based strategy game late this year to archive it for the internet. Watch it here.

Kinect Party for Kinect
It’s another clever helping of Kinect tech demos but it’s largely lost the magic on the second go-round. About 2 minutes on each “game” and I was done. Eh, at least it was free.

Outlaw Golf: 9 (and More) Holes of X-Mas on Xbox
Another game I got back into after forcing Katy to play it for YouTube, this duo of Blockbuster exclusive holiday golf games are crass and not always clever but remain entertaining yuletide traditions. The second one is even supported on the 360!

Far Cry 3 on Xbox 360
A great early-game villain, a volatile tropical island and a strict adherence to the first-person perspective put Far Cry once again on its own level. I thought the story was fine, even daring in some spots but overall the experience has kinda dragged after the first 25 hours or so.

Retro City Rampage on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita
It truly is Grand Theft Auto for the NES and it’s chock full of smart 80’s cultural references. The cross-play on Vita is neat as well but after all these years of waiting the game just isn’t a whole lot of fun.

Art of Balance TOUCH! for 3DS
I like physics and I like balancing puzzles so when I finally got some 3DS gift cards I pushed past the crazy $7 price tag and jumped in. It’s another gorgeous Nintendo exclusive from Shin’en that’s fun and clever in small, portable doses.

Karaoke on Xbox 360
Happy to see Microsoft and iNiS keeping the Lips legacy alive, now in true pay-for-time karaoke booth fashion. The selection is much bigger than any karaoke experience before, it’s simple to use, SmartGlass works well, and it has an unlock path that could keep even me coming back to sing poorly again and again.

Everything I played in Q3 2012

Summer continued much like the Spring with lots of cheap downloads, more PlayStation Plus titles and a return to some old games I’d forgotten I even owned. Here’s the rundown of just about everything I played in Q3:

Haunt for Kinect
Microsoft added another square of advertising to the Xbox Dashboard and gave away Haunt for free just for clicking it. It’s awkward to walk in place to move around but lends itself well for spooky moments. I found myself slowly creeping down a hall in search of a mysterious phone. It’s a virtual haunted house carnival ride for kids is about the best I can say.

SimCity Social on Facebook
Excited for the legitimate SimCity sequel, I fell into Social’s Facebook game like many others. If it weren’t utterly torn apart to be sold back to you it could’ve been fun. Like any other social game it requires you to pay or bug everyone you know to play.

Renegade Ops on PlayStation 3
As much as I love the intricate details and destruction I really can’t stand playing this bombastic isometric twin-stick shooter. I knew that much going in but it was offered up to PS Plus members and I hoped the full game might be more fun… it wasn’t.

Trine 2 on Xbox 360
The entire game is dazzling to watch but only the first few hours are any fun. Too many unrefined mechanics get thrown in and bog things down.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on PlayStation 3
I already played the hell out of this on Xbox last year but was more than happy to tear it up when it showed up on PS Plus. A great combination of new and old arcade designs.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures for Kinect
Katy liked this when we rented it so I made it part of her birthday surprise. It was allegedly part of the PlayFit app on Xbox that tracks physical activity across Kinect games. It never did, and so I stopped awkwardly running around Disneyland embodied by a 9 year-old.

Free Kinect junk for Points and Props
Because they can’t honestly charge people for Kinect games anymore, Microsoft trotted out new adver-games. Stride’s Micro Lab Challenge had some neat object scanning and end-game dance videos and NASA’s Mars Rover Landing looked absolutely stunning while being an incredible pain in the ass to play well.

Spy Fiction on PlayStation 2
After having bought two copies of Swery’s directorial debut over the years I finally loaded it up. It’s a shameless crib of everything Metal Gear Solid with Swery’s charming brand of madness woven throughout.

Toki Tori on Steam
I bought this for super cheap during Steam’s summer sale because my computer can’t run anything but pedestrian 2D platform/puzzlers anymore.

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb on Steam
This was also super cheap during Steam’s summer sale and the first time I’d really got into Isaac. Something clicked this year and I finally came to appreciate the roguelike.

Wizorb on Steam
No matter what you do to Breakout it’s still Breakout and it still only works best when quarters are on the line. Love the art style and concept but I came to hate playing it.

Runabout 2 on PlayStation
News of a 3DS sequel led me back to the original and finally to Runabout 2 that I’ve had for years. It continues the tradition of bizarre, branching path, time-critical, action racing that only the Japanese can deliver.

Just Cause 2 on PlayStation 3
Another PS Plus bonus, I had already played some of this on Xbox and loved it. I dicked around on PS3, blowing up more stuff and raising chaos but needed the hard drive space and time for other games.

Spelunky free on PC
I couldn’t justify the $15 for the Xbox version and I love the pixel style of the original more anyways so I dove in at home and at work. It’s brutal, one-life-to-live, roguelike platforming that keeps me blissfully on edge.

a return to Eternal Darkness on GameCube
Katy and I watched a documentary about H.P. Lovecraft and it moved me to go back to Eternal Darkness. Yup, it’s still great, spooky and trippy fun that gets way too easy once you get the tome.

Kyuiin on PlayStation
I won a free Japanese PS1 game from Raptr, this one being a 2D sidescrolling shooter with kids who get sucked into a nightmare world and fly around on vacuum cleaners.

The Walking Dead 1 and 2 on PlayStation 3
The game lives up to its source and that’s both good and bad. The tension and characters are good but all your choices always boil down to the worst possible situations. I wound up not caring what I did because it’s Walking Dead and nothing ever goes well. Only played because PS Plus gave ‘em to me.

A World of Keflings and Avatar Famestar on Xbox 360
Microsoft rolled out their meta-meta achievement system, Avatar Famestar, so I checked it out on the only game we already owned. It adds weekly incentive to revisit old games and rewards you with more Avatar gear but didn’t drive me to stick with it.

Outland on PlayStation 3
I was always interested in the “Ikaruga as a platformer” concept and thanks to PS Plus I got to dig into it. It looks gorgeous and plays well but I just wasn’t in the mood to see it through.

Bloodrayne: Betrayal on PlayStation 3
I love Wayforward’s art design but hate the way their games control. While I was willing to give Bloodrayne a second chance through PS Plus I was more than happy to immediately delete it again.

Dust: An Elysian Tail on Xbox 360
The only good thing about Summer of Arcade was this wonderful little MetroidVania adventure with gorgeous art, a slick combat system (if a little repetitive), and a story to tell.

New Xbox 360 Dashboard Beta
I was so desperate for improvements to the Xbox Dashboard that I signed up for early access to the Fall update. Sadly it didn’t do much to address the sea of ads and managed to introduce even more sleaze. Pins are handy and Internet Explorer is functional but loading data is still a time wasting chore and Kinect continues to pick up unwarranted voice commands. This is the year that I officially turned against the Xbox 360.

glorious Road Rash and ESPN eXtreme Games on PlayStation
Messing around with live streams and capture hardware I spent a few days with these games and they’re both still excellent, fast, crunchy old arcade brawling racers.

Hono Bono Sangokushi Beta on PC
Of course the first MMO I really like would be in Japanese! An adorable, colorful spin on the Three Kingdoms with turn-based battles, recruitable teammates and its own FarmVille-esque social game built in. I really wanted to stick with it but not being able to read any of the text eventually drove me away.

Domino Rally on Wii
I was always interested in this game as a spiritual successor to Mr. Domino and when I found it on clearance, I bit. Sadly it is a shallow, linear game with little connection even to dominos themselves. Some really crazy stuff unlocks but getting to it requires slogging through a pretty boring game.

deBlob 2 on PlayStation 3
Another clearance find, this game bursts to life in colorful graphics and sound but it’s so hand-holdy that I gave up less than halfway through. Buy this for kids and watch them play it instead.

Pinball FX2 Vengeance & Virtue pack on Xbox 360
I played Pinball FX2 throughout the year but picked up this excellent pack of tables on sale. Moon Knight and Ghost Rider are both excellent, intricate tables with a lot of stuff to see and do.

Double Dragon Neon on PlayStation 3
My love/hate relationship with Wayforward continues as the style of Neon cracked me up but the actual playing was slow and boring. Their emphasis on animation priority in action games is always a bummer.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game on PlayStation 3
This was my last “freebie” on PS Plus and a game I’d played a ton of on Xbox already. It’s still a great, brutal 2D beat-em-up with beautiful art and music.

Mark of the Ninja on Xbox 360
Every bit of Tenchu or Splinter Cell done in 2D. I’m not crazy about the art style but the animations are satisfying and there’s always multiple ways to approach each encounter.

DropTowerDefenseR free online
I had my fill of tower defense with the original. Everything since has been a bore but I’ve come to like a few unique variations like this side-on 2D take. I found it on Pinterest of all places and got hooked on it for about a week.

FTL: Faster Than Light on Steam
The harrowing survival of a roguelike meets TWO kinds of space sim as you try to keep your crew and ship alive while constantly outrunning an armada. Despite its simplistic look it’s an incredibly tense game of strategy, skill… and luck.

Puzzle Arcade on Xbox 360
Katy has played more than me but for a digital jigsaw puzzle game it’s surprisingly captivating.

Dustforce on Steam
I finally got to play Dustforce thanks to a Humble Bundle and found out that even with a controller I just don’t like the way it feels. Great soundtrack though!

Tokyo Jungle on PlayStation 3
Not at all the game I was hoping for, it took a while to grasp its strict rules and roguelike tendencies to randomly punish you but I finally came around to enjoy it.

Everything I played in Q2 2012

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.

Everything I played in Q1 2012

Having just moved to a new town and a new job I was reluctant to buy much early in the year. I was still enthralled by Skyrim as well so that was eating up many free hours away from work. We moved to our own place in February which again culled back my spending but as you can see below I still managed to play quite a bit in Q1.

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter on sale on Steam
Wonderful pixel style, humor and surprisingly fun turn-based RPG gameplay. It is literally the only Serious Sam game I’ve ever enjoyed.

Sonic CD on sale on Xbox 360
Still the best, weirdest Sonic game you can play…

Rayman Origins bought for and borrowed from Maxx
I love Rayman and the look/sound/vibe of this game but it was just a big ol’ bore to play. I also never felt comfortable with the floaty running and jumping.

Rochard on sale on PlayStation Network
A clever gravity gun-based platform/puzzler with a lot of style crammed into a tiny package. Also, Poets of the Fall!

Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 gifted on Steam
Maxx bought me this to play at work but he has a million more hours experience than me. I also felt bad bugging him about actual work and then asking him to explain the minutia of Magic rules. It was my first real, extensive exposure to Magic and card-based battle systems and I appreciate both more for it.

Scarygirl free for review on Xbox
The only game I got to review for free this year and what a zinger! Six hours of frustrating platforming for some pretty visuals is a tough sell. I say save yourself the pain and go right to the source: buy the graphic novel.

Epic IGF Entrant Marathon
With the free internet access of a desk job I was able to pour over 560 indie game entries, playing quite a few of them and settling on my Top 20 favorites. Just follow that link, I’m not even gonna try to recap them all here!

Hydrophobia Prophecy on sale on PlayStation Network
This is the third (and best) iteration of Hydrophobia I’ve played and while it’s gotten more solid and cohesive, the change to Scoot’s voice killed me. Suddenly realizing that this is only a concern to me I say go ahead and grab this one for a watery survival tale with an emphasis on puzzle solving.

A return to Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce on Xbox 360
I don’t remember why I picked up Strikeforce again in 2012 but I sunk enough hours into my never-ending campaign to bring my hands to quivering submission. It’s high flying, 3rd person combo madness that even non-fans could appreciate but it’s built for an epic grind.

A return to Terraria on Steam
For a short time I was excited to play games at work and made some serious strides in my Terraria world. I finally conquered Skeletron, I plumbed the depths of Hell, I found the edges of my world. I even built traps on my main base that nearly killed me! Then my hands fell apart and I had to stop.

A return to Pinball FX2 on Xbox
Thanks to Maxx for constantly playing pinball games and turning me onto the documentary ‘Special When Lit’, 2012 was the year I finally came to terms with pinball. I’m still no good at it but I can finally say I understand it! Pinball FX2 is also a great way to play it with great physics and loads of tables.

Titan Attacks on sale on Steam
It’s Space Invaders with upgrades. A few glitchy moments and a weird autosave function take it down a little but it’s fun and has a great art style.

Triple Town on Google+, Facebook, iOS, Android
Thanks to Katy I fell into the Triple Town hole for a few months. It’s a great combination of match-3 and strategic playfield management. And I love to hate those bears!

Disassembly3D free on iOS
Find inner peace by meticulously taking things apart! Unscrew! Unhinge! And best of all, explode… in slow motion!

Hero Generations Facebook beta
Imagine a turn-based RPG where every move (in and out of combat) costs a year of your character’s life. Explore the map in your youth, maximize your manhood strength and collect resources into senility, all the while making sure you’ve got a mate lined up to carry on your legacy. It was brilliant fun but no longer playable and I miss it dearly!

Rhythm Party on Xbox 360
My ‘Rhythm Game’ and ‘Motion Game of the Year’ winner! Like the original Just Dance it gets the technology out of your face and just lets you dance already! It got chopped up into DLC song packs but the base bundle was enough for months and months of stupid dancing fun.

Mass Effect 3 on Xbox 360
The first of very few 2012 retail releases I played and what a rollercoaster ride. Seeing out Shepard’s story was satisfying but the gameplay wasn’t as much fun and the streamlined side quests felt flat and uninteresting. For the record, the original ending didn’t bug me. And wow, I spent 26 hours in multiplayer mode! That never happens.

Journey on PlayStation Network
A gorgeous adventure whose highs and lows play out in about 3 hours. It never hit me as powerfully as Flower and ultimately it was a pretty big bummer.

Draw Something on Android
Yeah, I got into the social game craze of the month along with everyone else. I didn’t spend money on it and I kinda hate mobile gaming in general so I also dropped it around the time everyone else did.

Disney Universe on Xbox 360
For Katy’s birthday I wanted to make a virtual Disney vacation so I bought her some park decor, made Lighthouse Sandwiches (our park favorite) and bought some games. Disney Universe is basically LEGO Disney without the LEGO. It’s slow and grindy, kid-friendly fun but pretty passe outside of the mish-mash-up of Disney IPs.

Leedmees on sale for Kinect
I liked the concept and the demo I’d played so when it went on sale I bought it. It’s still basically Lemmings for Kinect and as a Kinect game it’s frequently unreliable. Fun, for a bit, but tough to really recommend.

Carcassonne on Xbox 360 to show some friends
For a brief time we were being sociable and wound up playing a bunch of tabletop games, Carcassonne among them. We loaded up the Xbox version to play with a few friends because you don’t have to worry about stepping on Meeples with a video game.

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited on Xbox 360
I loved Mashed on the original Xbox and was super excited for this follow-up but it controls terribly and was simply no fun to play. The original is still the best!

Make No Wonder free on the web
It was sold to me as a Minecraft-alike but it’s really a simple game of exploration, survival and invention. A wonderful, minimalist experience well worth exploring yourself.

Everything I played in 2018: October – December

Everything I played in 2018: October - December

Video games, I still love them… I think. No wait, I absolutely still love them! It’s just modern games that are getting on my nerves. In 2018 I played fewer total games than any year in the past and fewer “new releases” than ever before. Instead, I spent most of my time playing older titles, timeless favorites, retro games, and some grindy stuff with friends online.

It’d be impossible to rank them in typical categories like Graphics, Story, or Game-as-a-Service so in lieu of all that I’m just going to recap everything I played in 2018 (just like I did in 2012). These are just some quick thoughts on the games I spent a reasonable amount of time with, or ones that stuck with me over the months. Let’s take this one fiscal quarter at a time, closing out the year with Q4: October through December or The Fallening.

P.S. The 📅 emoji denotes a 2018 new release.

 

October

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
After spending all that time with Breath of the Wild I decided I should at least attempt Everyone’s Favorite Zelda, A Link to the Past. The grandeur of the experience may be lost on me at this age because it didn’t stick for long. It also had some pretty steep competition in October…

Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4) 📅
The foregone conclusion that this would be just like GTAV — an endlessly engaging world of emergent and entertaining possibilities — pretty quickly flew right out of the window. The story and related missions contain some of the most boring video game tropes I’ve ever experienced. The only saving grace is the detailed world and the personality of Arthur Morgan.

Like Breath of the Wild, I ignored much of the game’s diversions as I set out to explore the amazingly detailed and gorgeous world. Ambient encounters and Stranger Missions pepper the landscape and they were more memorable to me than anything that happened with the actual plot. Along the way I was mostly able to play the game the way I felt Arthur would’ve lived, especially given the turn in his third act. I only wish they’d given him a way to ride off into his own sunset and ignore the story. At launch, Red Dead Online was also a major letdown.

Also played in October: Just a little GTA Online (PS4), Rime (PS4), XCOM 2 (PS4)

 

November

Slamscape (PS1)
November was largely eaten up by Red Dead Redemption 2, holiday gatherings, and taking care of our new house, but I also squeezed in some time with this peculiar PlayStation game. It’s extremely odd and a little confounding but it has one interesting hook: all of the action taking place around you builds a unique soundtrack. Firing on enemies, dropping traps, and picking up “sparks” all add a satisfying musical component to the game.

Also played in November: City Crisis (PS2), Pilotwings Resort 3D (3DS)

 

December

Wave Race 64 (N64)
When sick, people crave comfort food. When I was recovering from a diverticulitis episode I was craving a comfort game. Something old and familiar to take my mind off of work, the house, and all the uncomfortable pain of life. Wave Race is my comfort game and it was great loading it up for the first time in a number of years.

The water physics is still better than anything before or since. It’s so much more than just the surface you’re racing across, it’s part of the course and the undulations can be both unexpected and predictable depending on your timing. It can make as big a difference as opening up a shortcut or unexpectedly push you through a corner without slowing down. It doesn’t take long for me to blast through the game nowadays but it’s a solid punch of nostalgia that still makes me smile.

Intelligent Qube (PS1)
I’ve always loved Intelligent Qube’s style, music, and gameplay but I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with it for more than 3 or 4 stages until 2018. I finally kept at it this time and made it all the way to the secret Final Stage where my dreams of completion were ultimately dashed against its ridiculous challenge. Well, I came as far as I’ve ever been so I’m still counting it as a triumph!

Beetle Adventure Racing (N64)
Here’s another triumph! I’ve been trying, off and on, for the better part of 20 years to unlock this game’s final course. But the only way to even see it is to take the lead in the game’s most challenging championship and conquer the five tracks before it. In 2018 I finally had the gumption to stick to it and after a few days of trying, I’d done it. I took a few victory laps to check out the course’s numerous shortcuts before kicking this one off the ol’ video game bucket list.

Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4) 📅
EDF! EDF!! This totally mostly fresh EDF experience remixes the things we love while adding new layers to both its progression system and (quite literally) to its giant insect aliens. Layers of chitinous skin now explode off of ants, spiders, and even robots to reveal charred innards while painting the environments in vibrant colors a la Splatoon! It’s a small improvement compared to other modern games but it adds so much to the impact of culling these armies of opponents.

Meanwhile, over 150 new weapons are doled out to each of the 4 classes and picking up duplicates now results in upgraded variations. For the Air Raider class who has a diverse arsenal of guns, airstrikes, turrets, and vehicles, these changes are huge. We’re now about 40 hours into the game, nearing the end of our first playthrough of the 110 story missions and still loving every big, dumb, explosive second of it!

Age of Empires II HD (PC)
I picked this up alongside Europa Universalis IV to play with a new-found friend but AoE is definitely more my scale of strategic combat. AoE2 isn’t quite as appealing as the long-defunct Age of Empires Online, but it is just as satisfying to build up a civilization and overwhelm the enemy factions with swarms of military units. This music is killer too!

Also played in December: Katamari Damacy REROLL (Switch), OnRrush (PS4), The Iconoclasts (PS4), The Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis)


Read ’em All

Q1: January – March ~ Q2: April through June
Q3: July through September ~ Q4: October through December