Weekend Gaming

After a week away from gaming while on a family vacation, I’m ready to get back at it. As you surmised from my latest “what I’ve been playing” post, I have been spending the bulk of my time playing Dota 2. I can see that progressing for the foreseeable future. I’m now “competent” with four or five heroes and I’m looking forward to dabbling with a couple more this weekend. So ya, I’ll be playing Dota 2 this weekend.

But in talking with my fellow bloggers, we are looking at ways and topics we could write about on the topic of Dota 2. When we pull ourselves away from the “crack”, maybe we’ll get something up. No promises.

What are you playing this weekend?

What I’ve Been Playing

dota2

That should clear up any doubts.

(In all seriousness, my gaming time has pretty much been all consumed by Dota 2. I hope to actually write some words about it one of these days. Maybe their servers will go down for a period of time and I can come up for air.)

March Releases

(I’m a little last this month, but since there wasn’t anything released the first week of March, all is forgiven, right?)

I’ve seen some bad March release lists, but: Buzz — your release list: WOOF! Here are a bunch of games you probably won’t be playing in March (and a couple you almost certainly will be):

Xbox One

Week of March 11th
Titanfall – Microsoft is clearly planning on riding the coattails of Titanfall to tide over any and all Xbox One owners. From all accounts, it’s a great game.

Week of March 11th
Dark Souls II (Collector’s Edition) – I know one buttonmasher who is very excited (and afraid) that March is Dark Souls II month. Very excited.

Week of March 25th
Titanfall

No Wii U releases for the Month of March.

Week of March 25th
Cut The Rope: Triple Treat

Week of March 11th
Titanfall

Week of March 18th
Men of War : Assault Squad 2

Week of March 25th
Rambo The Video Game – I’m not saying this is an obvious budget title or anything, but it does say it’s compatible on Windows 95.
MXGP
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – If I pick up anything this month (and that’s a big IF) it will be the Diablo 3 expansion.

PS4 Banner

Week of March 11th
Putty Squad

Week of March 18th
inFAMOUS: Second Son
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Week of March 11th
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
Dark Souls II (Black Armor Edition)

Week of March 18th
Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster Special Edition

Week of March 25th
Rambo The Video Game
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Week of March 18th
FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster

Week of March 25th
Deception IV: Blood Ties

(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.)

Read In 2013

(This has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. Better late than never, I always say.) I am blatantly stealing this idea from Zack. I love reading his post every year and use it to add books to my ever-growing list of “To Read” on goodreads.com. While my list of books read in 2013 isn’t as long as Zack’s (I just don’t have time to read as much as I’d like), hopefully it’s still interesting:

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (228)

This is the third book in the Discworld series and just like The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites didn’t live up to the fun I had reading The Color of Magic. There were a couple moments that elicited more than a chuckle from me, but not many. I just wasn’t into these characters. The premise (mistaken gender identity) had promise (sorry) but it fell flat for me.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (296)

Indian and Eastern Gods duke it out in a battle on some far off planet where men discovered the secrets of technology not available to everyone and became more powerful than other. I had no idea what was going half the time but I still tore through this book. I had to go to Wikipedia after I finished just to make sure I understood everything I had read (I’m not too familiar with the Hindu/Buddhist pantheon of deities) and kept every character straight.

Mort by Terry Pratchett (243)

As the last kid standing on the day everyone gets chosen as an apprentice, Mortimer gets picked by a skinny guy in a black hood, riding a pale horse, wielding a scythe. Death, you might say. Get it? Mort — Death? Clever, that Pratchett guy. Mort zigged where I thought it was going to zag. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

After being a little letdown by Equal Rites and The Light Fantastic, Mort was a nice return to the humor I had enjoyed in Color of Magic.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett (150)

I picked this one up strictly on Nat’s suggestion and loved it. It is a quick read (which really doesn’t mean anything with the time I actually set aside for reading. It took me over a month to read this, my wife read it in less than a week). It would betray any charm to say anything substantial about Genesis so I’ll just say I thought I had it figured out about halfway through.

I did not have it figured out.

Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (629)

(Technically, I finished this in 2014, but I read 90% of it in 2013 so I’m counting in last year’s list)

Lucifer’s Hammer is the story of what happens when a meteor heading for earth actually splinters and ends up hitting in more than one place, causing destruction on a global level, wiping out millions of people and plunging the world back into the dark ages. It’s a grim apocolytpic future humanity has in front of it. Faced with the base need simply to survive, it’s pretty shocking what people will become.

I found it interesting that while reading this book and the clashes between the survivors, I couldn’t help think about the popularity of the recent rash of survival games like Rust and Day Z and the awful things people are willing to do (even in a digital escapist sort of way). Let’s just hope civilization never reaches that point.

I also started but didn’t finish a couple books. Like a video game, you usually know when you’ve started a book whether it’s going to hold you attention or not. This doesn’t mean these books aren’t good. They just won’t for me.

Stopped reading in 2013:

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Jacobs has a reputation of doing “experimental books” where he tackles a subject and changes his life to fit some regiment of a lifestyle. He becomes focused (read: obsessed) on something and for a year, dedicates his life to this topic. The problem is with a topic like healthy living, there is so much to cover, that there’s just no way to hit everything in 400+ pages. You end up with a shallow book that doesn’t cover any particular subject with sufficient detail. I got a few chapters in and shelved Drop Dead Healthy.

A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age by Joao Magueijo

I picked up A Brilliant Darkness on a recommendation from Bill Harris. It should be everything I like in a non-fiction book — science (specifically quantum mechanics), Europe and a little mystery. Unfortunately, the story started out slow and the explanations of the science were a little muddled. I wasn’t looking for graduate level science discussion, but those scientific sections didn’t hold my attention. It was time to shelve this one as well.

So that was my reading list for 2013. A total of 1,546 pages. I continue to make my way through the “classics”. It’s fun to see what holds up and what doesn’t.

What did you read last year?

February Releases

There still hasn’t been any great next-gen (which I guess is now this-gen) titles to really hit the release list yet, but things are getting better. But February is a great month of games if you haven’t moved on to the Xbox One or the PS4. The Playstation 3 line up is particularly strong this go-round. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 18th
Rayman Legends

Week of February 25th
Thief
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame
Fable Anniversary

Week of February 11th
The Borderlands 2 & Dishonored Bundle
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII – I gave FFXIII the real college try and it never clicked. Now that I’ve been methodically working through my backlog I wonder if I’ll ever get back to it.

Week of February 18th
Earth Defense Force 2025
NASCAR ’14

Week of February 25th
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Thief

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 18th
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame
Bravely Default – This is probably the only pick up for me this month. I’ve heard great things about Bravely Default and hope to grab it after I finish A Link Between Worlds.

Week of February 25th
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

Week of February 4th
The Sims 3 Roaring Heights World
Airport Simulator 2014

Week of February 25th
Thief

PS4 Banner

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
Week of February 18th
Rayman Legends

Week of February 25th
Thief
Putty Squad

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC
The Elder Scrolls: V:Skyrim & Bioshock Infinite Bundle – This is the “I only have time for two games this year” Bundle.
Far Cry Compilation
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
The Borderlands 2 & Dishonored Bundle – This is the “I love loot and killing things in gruesome ways” Bundle

Week of February 18th
Earth Defense Force 2025
NASCAR ’14
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE

Week of February 25th
Putty Squad
Magus
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles
Thief

Week of February 4th
The LEGO Movie Videogame

Week of February 11th
Toukiden: The Age of Demons
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Week of February 18th
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE

Week of February 25th
Putty Squad

(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.)

Four Swords Free for 3DS (until Sunday)

Thanks to a tip from Laughter, I was pointed to a post over on Wii U Daily that Nintendo is giving Zelda Four Swords, the Gameboy Advance multi-Link Zelda game.

According to the post on Nintendo’s site:

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is GameSpot’s 2013 game of the year! We want to celebrate all things Hyrulian, so for a limited time we’re offering The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition for FREE!

I played a little of Four Swords back when it came out but never got a chance to play it very much. Now that we have four 3DSes in this household, we are always looking for ways to play something together. Having a little four-player Zelda should be great.

HELP! (By Playing Ascension With Me!)

Templar_320x480So I am on a bit of an Ascension kick at the moment and it’s becoming a problem — it’s all I want to play. I scour the “Find Games” section multiple times a day, looking to get a PvP fix. I’ve resorted to bragging to my mates on Google+ about my latest winning streak (current personal best: three wins in a row).

I’m not sure what has got me on this deck building kick. I was a backer for HEX: Shards of Fate (which I recognize isn’t a deck building game, but work with me here). I play HEX when I get a chance, but HEX doesn’t fit in my pocket, so I started messing around with Ascension. I bought it ages ago but never really gave it much of a thought after playing a game or two. But I picked it up again this week and can’t put it down. It’s taking everything in my power not to buy all the expansions at once and to savor the first expansion for a little while.

So if you play Ascension in any form, let me know. I’m “i_aint_yer_pa” and I’m always on the look out for a new game.

Weekend Gaming

I have decided that I needed to clean-up my gaming habits a little bit. It has been too scatter-shot for too long. I’d start a game and then another MUST-PLAY would come along and I’d drop whatever I had been playing to start playing this new hotness, leaving a trail of not-even-half-finished games in my wake. No more! I am committing to taking a little more of a Getting Things Done approach to my gaming. I’m limiting myself to playing just a couple games at a time. That means concentrating on those games and seeing them through to completion (or until they no longer hold my attention, which may be much sooner than ever getting close to the end). Once I settle on a couple games, I reserve the right to still play some pick-up-and-play games, like Spelunky or Super Meat Boy, when I just need a quick hit of gaming and I’m not settling in for an hour plus gaming session.

So the two games I’m currently focusing on are Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS (which is top-notch so far) and starting the single player campaign over in Halo 4. So that’s where I plan on spending the bulk of my gaming time this weekend. With some Spelunky sprinkled in when I can because Good Lord that game is good.

What are you going to play this weekend?

January Releases

Well, after a ruckus holiday, we’re back to a new year of releases and we are no longer looking forward to the Next Generation. We are now in the Next Generation. This month is relatively harmless, so feel free to stick with what you picked up for the holidays and the Steam Sale. Not much to see here. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of January 28th
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Week of January 28th
Tomb Raider Game of the Year
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z

Week of January 7th
Wii Fit U w/Fit Meter

No January releases for the Nintendo 3DS.

Week of January 7th
METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE – ALL CAPS MEANS BUSINESS.

Week of January 14th
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD

Week of January 21st
Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny

PS4 Banner

Week of January 28th
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Week of January 28th
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
Tomb Raider Game of the Year

No January releases for the Sony PSVita.

(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.)

2013 Fun Games of the Year

If you’ve read this site for any period of time, you know that we’ve always shied away from naming a “Game of the Year.” The reasons are many, but mostly come down to the fact that we don’t have time to play everything and saying something is the “Best” of “the Year” reduces games to some arbitrary set of factors that qualify it as the best. I don’t have the time nor authority to make such proclamations.

We, in the end, play games for fun. To be entertained, to be challenged, but ultimately to have fun. So that’s what we’ve done every year — reflect on which games we had the most fun with this year.

First, a quick list of games I picked up in the last couple of weeks (or planning on buying) that seem to be on everyone’s year end list that I haven’t got to yet: Super Mario 3D World, Brothers, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Fire Emblem: Awakening. They all look tremendously fun (although Fire Emblem’s Permadeath is hardly ever fun) but they didn’t make the cut.

To be honest, 2013 wasn’t the greatest year for me and playing new games. Time and resources were in short supply. And there wasn’t anything the jumped out and grabbed me as a must have until the end of the year, anyway.

The Fun Game of the Year that didn’t come out in 2013 was: Super Meat Boy. I’m really bummed I didn’t jump on the Super Meat Boy train earlier. This game is tremendous. This game falls into that same realm of accomplishment that Portal and Portal 2 did — whereas solving a level in Portal 2 bestowed the feeling of superior intellect, getting through a Super Meat Boy level (and grading out an A+, of course) makes you feel like you are Billy freaking Mitchell, the greatest video game player that ever played in the history of gaming.

Super Meat Boy is pixel-perfect platforming, challenging, unrelenting, brutal, disgustingly tricky and ultimately fair and balanced.

The game is over three years old. You’ve probably read it all before — the music is great, the controls are perfect and the game is just fun. Straight-up video game fun. I wish I would have played it sooner. This definitely would have been on 2010′s list.

(Runner up: Mark of the Ninja)

And the Buttonmasher’s Fun Game of the Year is: State of Decay!

Wow! State of Decay? Another zombie game?

Sure, why not? When I started writing a review for State of Decay, I described it as, “one part GTA’s open world, two parts Dead Rising’s zombie brawler (minus the good fighting mechanics), sprinkle in some Animal Crossing and a dash of Fire Emblem and you’ve got State of Decay for the Xbox 360.” (Fire Emblem? Permadeath.)

State of Decay is the first zombie game that deals with the topic covered by the show “The Walking Dead” — how do you survive? There isn’t a helicopter on its way in 48 hours to rescue you from the mall. You’re stuck here, so what are you going to do about it? And who are you going to trust?

State of Decay has its issues, the wonky fighting mechanics being the most egregious one. But overlooking the little nits and concentrating on what the game tried to do and what it was successful doing puts this game in the top tier of my favorite Xbox 360 games and it’s my 2013 Fun Game of the Year

(FGotY runner up: Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Runners up runner up: Bioshock Infinite and Halo 4)

As you can see, I didn’t really play a lot of new games this year. I hope to remedy that in 2014 with a new console and new approach to how I play games.

What was your Fun Game of the Year?