June Releases

On to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of June 4th

Week of June 11th

Week of June 18th

Week of June 25th


Nintendo Switch

Week of June 4th

Week of June 11th

Week of June 18th

Week of June 25th


Nintendo 3DS

Week of June 4th


PC

Week of June 4th
Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn
Vampyr

Week of June 11th
Jurassic World Evolution
LEGO The Incredibles
Bus Simulator 18

Week of June 18th
Exposure
Darkest Dungeon: The Color Of Madness
Ghoststory

Week of June 25th
The Crew 2


Sony Playstation 4

Week of June 4th

Week of June 11th

Week of June 18th

Week of June 25th


Sony Playstation Vita

Week of June 25th


What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Detailed Video of a Super Mario Bros Speed Run

I respect the dedication that goes into speedrunning and I am in awe at the dexterity required to pull these feats off. I also respect the amount of research and discovery that these communities do to find the little glitches and nuances that shave hundredths of seconds of runs. I love the combination of programming intuition and hardware limitations that make these discoveries possible. Since a lot of these amazing speed runs are older games, nostalgia plays a huge role in my enjoyment, as well.

But for my money, give me a video that delves deep into the mechanics of speed runs over the actual speed run. I came across this one from kottke.org recently that is in my wheelhouse.

The video is a bit long (5 times longer than the actual speed run itself) but is fascinating. It clearly spells out how Kosmic accomplished what he did, but it doesn’t discount the skill needed nor the luck he had during his run. I remember finding the first warp zone in 1-2 thinking I was the ultimate gaming wizard. I can’t even imagine pulling off some of the stunts needed to complete this type of run. (Crazy thing is? Just a couple months later Kosmic’s record was broken by somewes)

Enjoy the whole thing.

May Releases

Other than State of Decay 2, there isn’t much this month that really catches my eye. But, seeing how it’s the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter, maybe my eyes just don’t work anymore (hashtag OLDMAN). On to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of May 7th

Week of May 21st

Week of May 28th


Nintendo Switch

Week of May 14th

Week of May 28th


Nintendo 3DS

Week of May 14th


PC

Week of May 7th
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – I recently restarted my Pillars of Eternity campaign and was really get into it before I lost steam.

Week of May 14th
EXAELLA
Wizard of Legend
1943 Deadly Desert
The Forest Below
Albion Online
FAR: Lone Sails

Week of May 21st
The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
PixelJunk Monsters 2

Week of May 28th
Heroes of Umbra
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
Time Golf Squad


Sony Playstation 4

Week of May 7th

Week of May 14th

Week of May 21st

Week of May 28th


Sony Playstation Vita

Week of May 21st


What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

April Releases

Real life got in the way of getting this out on time. Spring break and other things distracted me. Without further delay, on to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of April 9th

Week of April 23rd

Week of April 30th


Nintendo Switch

Week of April 9th
Burly Men at Sea

Week of April 16th

Week of April 23rd
Gal*Gun 2

Week of April 30th
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze


Nintendo 3DS

No new releases for the Nintendo 3DS


PC

Week of April 2nd
THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’97 GLOBAL MATCH

Week of April 9th
SpyParty
Melancholy Republic
Returner 77

Week of April 16th
UNDEAD FACTORY
Basketball Classics

Week of April 23rd
Monster Prom
39 Days to Mars
BATTLETECH
Frostpunk

Week of April 30th
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia


Sony Playstation 4

Week of April 9th

Week of April 16th

Week of April 23rd


Sony Playstation Vita

Week of April 23rd


What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

March Releases

March is actually full of games that should be on a lot of people’s lists. I was never on the Far Cry train (I played the first way back on the original Xbox and that was it) but Far Cry 5 is on this month’s list, along with Injustice 2 and Final Fantasy XV enhanced/expanded/whatever it takes to get you to buy it again version. As for me, State of Decay 2 has my interest, but I might wait for it to hit PC. Anyway, on to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of March 5th

Week of March 12th

Week of March 19th

Week of March 26th


Nintendo Switch

Week of March 12th


Nintendo 3DS

Week of March 19th


PC

Week of March 5th
Way of the Passive Fist
Fear Effect Sedna
FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION
Chessaria: The Tactical Adventure
Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Week of March 12th
Time Golf Squad

Week of March 19th
Exorder
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Week of March 26th
MX vs ATV All Out
Far Cry 5
INFERNIUM
Empires Apart


Sony Playstation 4

Week of March 5th

Week of March 12th

Week of March 19th

Week of March 26th


Sony Playstation Vita

Week of March 12th

Week of March 26th


What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

In My Digital Hands

I recently applied to and was accepted into the GeForce Now Beta. GeForce Now is a streaming service that lets you tap into virtual high powered gaming “rigs” and play games over an internet connection. The bandwidth requirements are steep (25 Mbps capability) but this would let someone use a cheap-o PC and play current games at ultra-high settings.

I will post some more updates as I give the service a try.

February Releases

This is a weird month for game releases. There isn’t a must-have (although Dragon Quest Builders looks fun), there is a Metal Gear Solid title that I wasn’t even aware of, and big title remakes (Secret of Mana, Shadow of the Colossus). I’m sure there something for some people, but I think I’ll take a pass on what’s available. On to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of February 12th

Week of February 19th

Week of February 26th


Nintendo Switch

Week of February 5th

Week of February 12th


Nintendo 3DS

Week of February 12th


PC

Week of February 5th
Remnants of Naezith
Midnight Quest
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Lost God
Fantastic Sea

Week of February 12th
Secret of Mana
Space Invaders Extreme

Week of February 19th
Past Cure
SWORD ART ONLINE: Fatal Bullet
METAL GEAR SURVIVE
Cypher

Week of February 26th


Sony Playstation 4

Week of February 5th

Week of February 12th

Week of February 19th

Week of February 26th


Sony Playstation Vita

No new releases this month for the Playstation Vita.


What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Breath of the Wild’s Puzzles Are Better Than Portal 2’s

I might regret that title, but let me talk it through. Are Breath of the Wild’s puzzles better than Portal 2’s puzzles? I love the puzzles in Portal 2! It’s almost a perfect game and now I’m questioning how good it really is? How did I get here?

Core to the enjoyment of solving a Portal puzzle is the satisfaction felt at the end of a level. At the outset, everything you need to solve the level is in front of you. The tools are dead simple: two portals. You, your portal gun and your wits (and maybe the occasional Companion Cube or two). As you go along, additional tools are added, but they only serve to enhance the portal principle. Pure satisfaction is yours when you reach the end, feeling like you’re the only person that has ever solved this puzzle in the way you did. It really taps the brainzone where pleasure and satisfaction is registered. As the levels progress, the ideas and solutions build upon themselves until (spoiler alert) you’re opening a portal on the moon. Each step along the way is another accomplishment, success building on another success until you finally make it to the end.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has tapped into that same brainzone for me, to the point that I’m wondering if BotW’s puzzles are better than Portal’s. But why?

In BotW, you have a few more tools at your disposal. The runes on your Sheikah Slate give you more options for solving a particular puzzle, along with your weapons. It’s up to you how you use them, as most puzzles can be brute forced. But solving a puzzle with an elegant solution feels infinitely more satisfying.

Case in point: there is a puzzle where huge metal balls are tumbling down a sloped surface that is interspersed with blocks and obstacles that impede the descent of the metallic balls (think a giant pinball machine, and you’re half-way there). There is also water falling over the back wall and down the slope. You, being a brute, could use magnesis (the rune that allows you to manipulate metal objects) to freeze one of the pinballs and force it near the end of the slope. But you’ve got to maneuver the huge pinball while avoiding the other pinballs that are tumbling around you. One false move and your precious pinball is going to miss the last obstacle and tumble over the side, with no other pinballs left to manipulate. Brute force is doable, but not easy (and I would assume, not as satisfying). I know it’s not easy because I tried it. Over and over again.

The elegant solution is to use crynosis (the rune that allows you to create up to three pillars of ice out of water) to deftly guide the ball to its destination, gently moving it down the slope into the awaiting receptacle. The solution presented itself to me as I was about to give up after the fiftieth attempt to brute force my way. It was an “a-HA!” moment of the highest order. Elegance in and of itself is a reward. There’s an added satisfaction that you figured out what the level designer had in mind. He deemed you smart enough to eventually figure it out and rewarded your superior intellect with an extra satisfying ding at the end. Your brainzone was touched. You didn’t get an extra spirit orb for doing it “right”. You didn’t get a rupee bonus. The feeling of accomplishment is a reward all its own.

This experience happens over and over again. Some puzzles are easier, some are less elegant, but all end in a feeling of accomplishment.

And that’s not even mentioning the puzzles contained in each of the four Divine Beasts. Not only are you manipulating the physics around you but you are also physically manipulating the level, rotating it or turning it on its side. It’s an added layer that magnifies the difficulty and demands more of the puzzle solver. But again, elegance is found in the solution.

So why am I feeling like BotW’s puzzles are better than Portal 2? I think part of it is the variety. Puzzles in Portal are the game. They are the means that lead to your escape. The puzzles in BotW are both essential (solving the Divine Beasts) and superfluous (you could ostensibly finish the game without completing every shrine). There are also hours of the game spent not solving puzzles. The crafting, exploring and fighting space out the puzzles at a reasonable pace that allows for puzzle satisfaction to come at regular intervals.

So maybe I’m saying The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is just a better game than Portal 2. Because it is. But in the end, I think the puzzles are superior, too.

My Favorite Sequence in Breath of the Wild

No, this isn’t buttonmashing’s pivot to video, but I’m posting this for posterity’s sake. I have unlocked all but one Sheikah Tower in Breath of the Wild, so I won’t be seeing this little cinematic interlude anymore and I can’t bear to lose it. It’s easily my favorite 10+ seconds in Breath of the Wild:

(stay tuned for more Breath of the Wild content coming soon)

Weekend Gaming Looks Back at 2017


Before we get to the weekend gaming report, I thought it’d be fun to do a little year-end review of the gaming I did in 2017.

2017 was the year I actually played video games. For the past couple of years I seemed to really only dabble with games here or there while I spent the bulk of my time playing Dota 2. I still played a lot of Dota 2 this year, but it definitely took a back seat. 2017 was also the year that I finished more than one game, which is a milestone in and of itself. So here’s a quick rundown of games that kept me busy in 2017. These are in no particular order. (Or are they??)

Dota 2: Like I said, I still spent a good chunk of time playing Dota 2. Not a lot to say here. The newest patch introduced two new heroes, a bunch of new items, hero updates and I don’t think I’ve played more than 10 matches since the update. I don’t know if that says more about me or about the state of the game.

Resident Evil 7: Resident Evil 4 is in my personal Video Game Mount Rushmore. Resident Evil 5 was pretty alright and was a lot of fun co-op. I haven’t spent much time with RE6 but it’s in my Steam Library. I figure I’ll get to it eventually. When I heard Resident Evil 7 was looking good in early previews, I gave it a go. I even streamed the entire game, a first for me. The switch to first person was a great addition (when I discovered the kept the quick-turn mechanic, I squealed with delight). RE7 is a worthy member of the Resident Evil series.

Nier: Automata: This title was picked up purely on a whim, and I’m glad I grabbed. Nier: Automata has charm, an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic world, and an absolutely killer soundtrack. It also had some straight-up bonkers and weird moments, like the time a swarm of robots came together to for a cocoon (egg?) and gave birth to a naked, androgynous android. That was a Top 2 WTF video game moment. (Actually, it’s probably #1 on the WTF scale. I can’t think of anything weirder). Would probably be my Game of the Year if it wasn’t for BotW.

The Switch: This year I picked up the greatest console ever (I do believe when it’s all said and done, the Nintendo Switch will supplant the SNES as my favorite console of all time). I haven’t even played that many games on it yet, but every time I pick it up (whether it’s with the Pro Controller, playing it on the TV or I pick it up out of its dock and play on its small but brilliant screen) the potential just oozes. Initially, I picked up Breath of the Wild and Overcooked. BotW we’ll get to later, but I do want to mention that Overcooked is a super fun party game to play with, especially with people you want to come to hate. Later in the year, I picked up Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8. I haven’t had a chance to spend a ton of time with either of those titles (it will become clear why later) but I could easily lose hours at a time to either title.

The Division: I picked up a Xbox One when I got my surface and I picked a special edition The Division Xbox One. I put in 15-20 hours of The Division on the Xbox One, enjoyed it enough, and set it aside. Late last year I was thinking I wanted to play a “Christmas Game” and remembered that The Division was set around Christmas time. This time I picked it up on PC so I could co-op with my mates and we spent the majority of Christmas break running around Manhattan, making Dark Zone runs, hijacking extractions and having a merry ole time. Unbeknownst to us, we were enjoying the golden age of this 2+ year old game. The Division is a pretty dang good game by yourself, but is fantastic when playing with friends.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A lot of virtual ink has been spilled extolling the virtues of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I got on the bandwagon late, but man-oh-man is this a great game. Everything that has been said about it is true: it is a perfect open world game, with exploration for days, a crafting system that is useful and soothing, collection quests that aren’t in your face, a story line that is laced with a wistful melancholy, and a hero that is a perfect proxy for escapism. I think I’ve logged 50+ hours into this game and am approaching the 1/2 point (by my estimation) and I can’t wait to see what the game holds in store.

Unfortunately for me, my three kids also think it’s the best game ever and it’s a battle to get time with the Switch. But I don’t begrudge the sharing. It’s been great seeing the game through their eyes. My daughter decided she didn’t want to harm any animals, so she decided to do a vegan playthrough. My youngest wants to catch up to where dad is while my middle son is content to explore and document the world through his Sheikah Slate. It truly has something for everyone.

So that was 2017 for me. What were some 2017 stand-outs for you?

And I’ll be saving NYC and the world this weekend, unburdening some bad guys of the sweet, sweet loots they are hoarding. What will you be playing?