Archives for 2013

In My Digital Hands


Getting behind on your emails is perilous: you might miss something you bought for a long time.

When I first saw people posting their experiences on playing Starbound, I thought “didn’t I back that game?” I didn’t remember if it was Kickstarter or what, but I was pretty sure I plunked down some coin to give it a whirl. The game looked fun and since I had so much fun with Terraria, and Starbound looked like Terraria in Space, I figured I’d like Starbound, too. So as I finally made my way halfway through my November emails, I came across two emails from Humble Bundle. One was for the Humble WB Games Bundle and the other was for my Starbound beta access! So that is now downloading and I think I’ll take a break from working on my to-do list to play a little Starbound.

And good heavens, I forgot how much crap came with the Humble WB Bundle! If anyone needs/wants a copy of Arkham Asylum or Arkham City for Steam, let me know and you’re welcome to my copies. I’ve got Xbox 360 copies already.

So along with the Holiday Haul (which I’ll be talking about next), I have gaming coming out of my eyeballs. I am literally set for a year of solid gaming. Who needs next generation?

The Honorable Mention of 2013

‘Tis the season! The season of lists! Lists. lists. lists. Holiday card mailing lists. Holiday to-do lists. Wish lists. Naughty lists. Nice lists. New Year’s resolution lists. Even now, as the year draws to a close we’re seeing ‘best of’ lists, ‘memorable’ lists. At that, gaming websites are posting their own 2013 lists. Many of them are console specific, although a fair number of them seem to be arbitrarily arranged. Indeed. The top slots are usually the heavy-hitters, the AAA titles, the games created by monolithic studios. While these titles certainly have their merits, for I have played a few of them, their redundancy on all these dang lists (even appearing on more than one console lists) can mean many different things. But may aim for this post is to not go there…

In fact: nuts to lists.

While I am certainly feeling retrospective, I only intend to name one title – An ‘Honorable Mention 2013’, if you will. In many award ceremonies, an honorable mention is usually treated as a side note to the ‘official’ lists of achievers; a coy pat on the back, ‘good try, sport! Here, have a plaque.’ But, to me, the honorable mention of this post achieves its success by maintaining a sure presence during the 2nd half of 2013. Despite its humble and small-time operation, this game refused to be eclipsed by so many of the games gobbling up these end-of-year lists – and yet, from what I’ve seen, finds itself on nary a one of them. Nuts to lists. Ladies and gentlemen, my Honorable Mention 2013 award goes to:hillclimbracing_headerAvailable on iOS, Android and Windows, Hill Climb Racing is a simple 2D platform game. The player drives an assortment of vehicles across an assortment of stages. Each vehicle has its own traits and each stage has its own conditions. You earn currency on each stage by collecting coins, performing feats, and breaking distance records. The currency you earn is then plugged back into upgrading the vehicles already unlocked, or unlocking new vehicles and stages. The turn is over when you either run out of gas or flip over and crack the driver’s neck; from what I’ve seen, the stages themselves do not run out.

Now that I re-read the last paragraph I am startled at how bland the game looks – insignificant, even. This observation only affirms the intangible greatness of Hill Climb Racing. It is a charming, cartoonish (and free) game that my entire family enjoys. Your scruffy little driver man, Bill Newton, will earn his way into your heart. You make do with what you’ve got, and when you earn that final stepped upgrade, or unlock a new level, it feels like an achievement. If you feel like you’re grinding for coins, turn the game off and come back to it later with an inevitable recharged enthusiasm. Enjoy the ride. Part of the appeal – besides the fantastic music track in the menu screens – is the child-like giddyness you feel when mixing and matching cars with stages. Our family discuss absurd-sounding strategies: Try driving a tank on mars; try the Formula 1 race car on the rollercoaster tracks. A fond memory I have is driving a tour bus, with substandard shocks, up a mountainside. The outcome of such a silly goose endeavor is seen here:
















Simple and fun – and that’s it. What’s more, game creator Fingersoft often provide updates with new levels and cars to unlock (In this last update Bill Newton is even donning a spiffy Santa outfit that stays spotless even as his car gets splattered with alien planet muck.) Hill climb Racing doesn’t try to outdo itself. You can pick it up and set it down at your leisure. It is low commitment but wildly entertaining. The game stands strong on its own two legs, and stands tall apart from all those greedy 2013 AAA games. I raise a new year’s toast to Hill Climb Racing: Here’s to another wild twelve months.

Holiday Weekend Gaming

While it’s not quite yet the holiday season, the next week or so will definitely involve a lot of gaming around the buttonmashing household (two of the kids will be getting 3DS XLs, bringing the household total to four, plus there’s an outside chance dad buys the kids (read: himself) a Wii U). I assume if you’re reading this that gaming will be going on in your neck of the woods, too. Couple that with the evil Holiday Steam Sale (I already picked these up) that gaming is on everyone’s mind.

So what will you be playing this week(end)? I’m still in a loving relationship with Super Meat Boy, I simply can’t get enough. I also hope to get a little more Halo 4 in while the kids are away. When we travel home for the holidays, I’ll be taking my laptop along with me to work through my Steam list, including Monaco. It’s a good thing I have this rugged computer to tote around with me, but it hasn’t been the most “portable” of devices. I’ll be working up a post along the lines of my laptop-as-a-main-computer experience, as well. So I guess I’ll be adding “writing and blogging” to some of the gaming I’ll be doing this weekend.

I also picked myself up something a little special for my 3DS but I’m going to wait until the 25th to crack into it, since it’s the only gift I’ll be getting this year.

What about you? What are you holiday gaming plans?

In My Digital Hands



The first two casualties of Steam Sale, Monaco and Dishonored. This time, I’m actually going to play them and not let them collect dust, uninstalled, in my library.

Survival Dream Team, Who You Got? [The Walking Dead]

(The following discussion may contain spoilers of the TV show The Walking Dead. You have been warned.)

Fellow buttonmasher (and esteemed brother-in-law) James and I discuss The Walking Dead at length. Recently, we had a bit of a disagreement as to who you’d rather have on your side, Daryl Dixon (heart throb to thousands of teenage girls) or Tyreese (who counts Chuck Norris among his admirers).

So I propose a thought experiment that is popular among sports pundits. In the sports world, the question usually is, if you were starting a, say, basketball team, who would you pick to build around? Most would say that would want to build around a superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. So let’s take that experiment to your own personal Zombie Survival Squad. You can choose others, but you have to pick either Daryl or Treese as your foundation. Your Zombie Killing Captain, as it were.


I don’t want to bias the vote, but I’ll tell you why I’d go with Tyreese. You know what a spirit animal is, right? Well, if there was an equivalent zombie killing device, the claw hammer would be mine. So it’s no surprise that when I saw Tyreese splitting some zombie skulls with one, it was a match made in Zombie heaven.

It doesn’t hurt that Tyreese has got a softer side, protecting his little sister and even has some time for romance. But Tyreese is the captain of my squad because he is a round mound of hammer pounds. I’ll go to battle with Tyreese wielding my own Estwing, cutting a righteous swath of claw hammer destruction.

So who would you pick? For the purposes of the poll, I’d like to keep it to just Daryl or Tyreese, but if it’s someone else, let us know in the comments!

[poll id=”3″]