Weekend Gaming

Pillars Of Eternity Wallpaper High QualityBy the looks of the forecast, this weekend is going to be downright springlike, which means my gaming time may be limited, but after a winter of harsh cold and snow, I think it will be a welcome sight to get out of the house.

That won’t, of course, stop us from gaming this weekend. After a few less-than-stellar Dota 2 performances this week, I’m not sure how high my desire to get back into the game will be. So I think this weekend will be spent with some single player games, most likely Pillars of Eternity. I don’t think I’ve quite hit the five hour mark, but I’m getting close. So far I’ve enjoyed Pillars but with so many complex, contiguous systems, I do feel a bit overwhelmed. There are tactics to be deployed but I find myself more often than not just heading in to battle and focusing down each bad guy. It’s not a great system and I know it’s not sustainable. This weekend I hope to delve a little more into the tactics and actually make sense of what I’m trying to do.

Since my boys are knee-deep in Terraria, I may jump back into my Terraria world and mess around a bit, show them what I have and what I’ve been working on. I sent my gaming laptop back to Asus to get fixed and I’m anxious to get it back so we can play multiplayer Terraria. The boys love playing together on the Xbox 360 but I think playing together on the PC would be even better.

And of course if the invite comes to play some Dota 2, I’ll be playing some Dota 2. What are you playing this weekend?

Road Trip! Funspot Arcade

Since I was exiled to the chilly East Coast for work for the past couple of months, I decided I’d make use of my free time during the long, boring weekends to check out an item on my Buttonmashing Bucket List — the Funspot Family Entertainment Center, home of the “American Classic Arcade Museum” in New Hampshire. If you’ve seen The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (the documentary of Steve Weibe’s attempt to break the Donkey Kong world record), you’ve seen Funspot, as it’s the arcade where he makes his record breaking attempt.

Funspot Arcade

When I first arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was big and I knew I would find more than arcade games (the place has to make money, so I knew there would be skee ball and the ticket machines) but what I found was pretty much like any other arcade I’ve been to. It was dark, loud, had the presence of a slightly off-putting smell and arcade games. Tons of aracde games.Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Off Road

I thought it would feel like stepping into the way-back machine, a trip to memory lane but the arcades I went to (and worked at) were never this big and never had this many classic games. I decided that I had to play some of the games I remember from my childhood/teen-age years and also some of the classics.

Hands-down, my favorite upright arcade game of all-time is Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road. I pop in a token and hearing the familiar rev of the video game engine, the honk of the upgrades and seeing the cheesy bikini glad girls takes me back to 1990. Unfortunately, nostalgia does funny things, like make you forget how punishing and unforgiving the controls are or how often the stupid nitro button sticks or doesn’t respond at all and above everything else — how terribly floaty the physics are in this game. Frustration could have set in quickly, and if this game was released in 2015 it would be eviscerated.

OffroadBut that funny nostalgia still prevails and I have a blast. I remember every track, every configuration, every shortcut and I still try to ruin the silver truck’s (that’d be the CPU-controlled Stewarts truck) race when I find myself in last place with no hope of surviving. Nitro-ing into his front-end will never get old.

I played Offroad first and probably dumped more tokens in it than any other game. After maxing out all the upgrades on my truck, I decided to move on and explore other areas of the arcade.

The majority of the games in the “Arcade Museum” are pre-1988, which meant a few of my favorites weren’t found in the main drag. I went with express purpose of playing some of my favorites along with some classics. I headed downstairs from the Arcade Museum area, in search of a few modern games and found exactly what I was looking for, all lined up in a row:

NBA Jam

This basically encapsulates my formative arcade game playing years — NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat I and II (and III, but I didn’t spend nearly as much time playing III as I did I and II). I written about it before, but Mortal Kombat II was both my jam and my introduction to the nascent internet. I was attending classes at Cleveland State University at the time and had access to Usenet groups, including the alt.games.mk2 group which had daily updates to the fatalities and rumors of babalities, nudalities and something called a “friendship”. I would show up every afternoon with freshly printed out move lists that we would all pore over. When I read about the secret way to get to fight Smoke on the Portal level, I waited patiently as others played over and over again, waiting for the “Toasty” to pop up. I reached over and hit the start button and everyone in the room had their minds BLOWN.

Jax and Scorpion were my dudes, so I spent some time reliving the glory days of MKII and then threw a few tokens in NBA Jam. Hearing “IS IT THE SHOES” as my guy cannon ball dunks from the free-throw line, spitting fire, was a great moment.

I headed back upstairs to play some of the classics. Unfortunately, the lighting there was not conducive to taking pictures so I didn’t get many up there. Because I really didn’t play these games as obssessively as I did newer games, I don’t have the same memories of loving Donkey Kong or Centipede or Robotron 2084. But because I was at Mecca, I had to play some of them. Spy Hunter was a favorite so I sat down to play a few minutes of that but Holy Lord that game is hard. I have these beautiful memories of jamming through levels of Spy Hunter like it was my job and 20 years later it felt like I was driving a red wagon, out of control, down a giant hill. It was not fun.

Ditto can be said about Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior and Zaxxon. These games did not age well. I tip my hat to guy’s like Weibe that have taken the time to master these games. It was painful.

Pong

So painful that when I saw this Pong machine, I couldn’t do it. This is history and I couldn’t bring myself to relive the pain. We lived with games that had this brutal difficulty and we liked it! What was wrong with us?

So toSmash TV end the trip on a high note, I emptied out the rest of my tokens into the Smash TV machine. It was mindless fun and was just as ridiculously hard as I remembered it. I would like to meet the guys who could get through the first level of Smash on one credit. I maintain it can’t be done, but I’m sure it has. One day I’ll have to do a deep dive into Smash TV YouTube runs to see if I’m right.

The trip down memory lane was great and the chance to visit an American Treasure. Not sure if you’ll ever find yourself near Lake Winnipesaukee, but if you do, you owe it to yourself to visit The Funspot.

Weekend Gaming

The weekend is upon us and it’s time to plan out a weekend’s worth of gaming.

I am concluding a long series of trips out of town and I’m taking a 3-day weekend in celebration so there will be plenty of gaming going on in the Buttonmashing household. My gaming cup runneth over. I have been jonesing for some Dota 2, so that will be the first course of gaming. After that, I can finally download Pillars of Eternity, which was one of the first games I ever backed on Kickstarter. I’ve avoided pretty much all the reviews to avoid spoilers, but looking at review scores, I think I’m in for quite a fun ride. I loved Baldur’s Gate back in the day and it looks like Obsidian has knocked it out of the park again. So I’ll be spending a good chunk of my gaming time with Pillars.

And I still have Dragon Age: Inquisition warming on the backburner and I recently re-started my playthrough of Mark of the Ninja. There should be plenty of gaming to go around this fine weekend.

What are you going to play?

Buttonmashing Deal of the Day

For those of you who are PC Gamers:

Weekend Gaming: Dota 2

There was that moment, one million years ago, when I clicked the PLAY button next to Dota 2 for the first time. It was a cold plunge, having never previously played any sort of MOBA. What followed was not some grand epiphany, some majestic revelation that this is the only game I shall ever need from here on out. In fact, the first match was quite uninspiring. From a list of what seemed like seven thousand heroes I picked Sven. More than anything, I vividly remember being perturbed and just a little confused that his weapon animation didn’t change when I purchased and equipped a new one – “That doesn’t look like the hammer in my inventory…”

At the insistence of James ButtonMasher and Sire Tony ButtonMasher, I played on. With every match, I picked up another nugget of understanding. I dabbled in a few other heroes, got the feel for the different roles. But it wasn’t until I played Bloodseeker that the true ferocity of Dota became clear. He was my ‘Oh, OK. I get it now’ hero. What Bloodseeker set in motion was nearly six months of exclusive Dota play time. I threw myself at this stupid game.

But then I stopped. Contrary to the steady build-up to Bloodseeker, I burnt out pretty quick – Which is a bummer because my Enchantress and Pugna had potential.

Now, after another seven or eight months, I may or may not be warming back up to Dota. Through the whispered enticings of James ButtonMasher, I’ve revisited my dota-dabbling ways. And I suspect that this weekend, this very weekend of 6 March 2015 may witness the beginning of a personal Dota renaissance. Instead of Bloodseeker ushering in the new age, it shall be SLARK! He/it has characteristics that compliment a player who may or may not be looking to jump back into the fray after a period of dormancy: He’s quick, fairly simple to play and can work on his own if need be.

SLARK!

Ermahgerd Slerk!

And I love that his only defined role is simply an Escape. Instead of hanging out in the back as a support, which is what I have been doing in all this recent dabbling-ness, I need to stick my neck out as Slark and rattle some cages with a few Pounce + Essence Shift combos. And I need to do it all with a slobbery Australian-ish accent.

What are you playing this weekend?

March Releases

I’m going to be out of town the majority of the month of March, which means gaming will be light for me. But there are a couple decent games coming out that have been on my watchlist for a while. I just don’t know when I’ll get to play them. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of March 3rd
ScreamRide – Front runner for “Worst Boxart of 2015″.

Week of March 10th
DMC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition

Week of March 17th
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Battlefield Hardline
Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Week of March 24th
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

Week of March 31st
BLADESTORM: Nightmare


Week of March 3rd
ScreamRide

Week of March 10th
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition

Week of March 17th
Battlefield Hardline

Week of March 31st
Ultimate Stealth Triple Pack – These “Ultimate Triple Packs” seem like an intriguing idea.
Ultimate Action Triple Pack


Week of March 17th
Mario Party 10


Week of March 10th
Etrian Mystery Dungeon – Everytime an Etrian Odyssey game comes out I think “this time I’m going to pick it up. Still haven’t played one. Probably won’t get to this one, either.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

Week of March 31st
Story of Seasons


Week of March 3rd
Tallowmere
White Night – I really like the way this game looks. Very stylized.
Shiftlings
Tormentum – Dark Sorrow
FranknJohn – Bonk’s Adventure 2015?
FORCED 2: The Rush
Savage Lands – You’re not going to believe this — another survival game!

Week of March 10th
Professional Lumberjack 2015 – Not to be confused with “Amateuer Lumberjack 2015″. Feel like they really missed a golden opportunity here by not going with Lumberjack Simulator or FlannelCraft or something.
Reign Of Kings – If you only click on one link in this list, PLEASE let it be Reign of Kings and watch the trailer video. You will not be disappointed. Actually, you might be very disappointed. But at least you’ll get a good laugh or two out of it.
Assassin’s Creed® Rogue
Cities: Skylines
Ori and the Blind Forest

Week of March 17th
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – Nope, not Zelda at all. Totally not Zelda.
Aware – Taking the survival game to a whole new level — race to repair your plane before your friend does so you can fly away in your one-seat plane without her! Nevermind the two of you flew there in the plane, there’s just one seat!
Hektor
Ride

Week of March 24th
Pillars of Eternity – I won’t be around to game much this month, but I will definitely be picking up Pillars when it comes out — because I backed it on Kickstarter back in the day. I’ve followed it’s development and am anxious to get this in my grubby hands.

Week of March 31st
DEAD OR ALIVE® 5 Last Round


PS4 Banner

Week of March 10th
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition

Week of March 17th
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Battlefield Hardline
Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Week of March 31st
MLB 15: The Show
Toukiden: Kiwami
BLADESTORM: Nightmare


Week of March 10th
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition

Week of March 17th
Battlefield Hardline

Week of March 31st
MLB 15: The Show
Ultimate Stealth Triple Pack
Ultimate Action Triple Pack


Week of March 10th
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters

Week of March 24th
LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin

Week of March 31st
MLB 15: The Show
Toukiden: Kiwami

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.)

Weekend Gaming: Minecraft, Dota, Zelda

My kids love the food court at the mall near our home. They love it because the food places have an employee out on the main floor passing out samples. That’s right, my kids are those greedy kids that pester the workers, and I am that parent that allows them to do it. So, while I am waiting in line at a particular food establishment my kids are making the rounds, sometimes completing two circuits before I even have a tray of food.

Recently, and continuing onwards into this weekend, my gaming routine is similar to my kids’ activities in the food court. Instead of investing my attention to a single title I’m just circling around, nibbling at several games that bare no relation to each other in genre or system… And am totally satisfied with the nourishment this brings. The current games in my circuit (beginning from oldest to most recent):

I continue to slowly build and explore my Minecraft seed. I established myself in a Plains biome, building into and atop this weird single mound right in the middle of a field. Adjacent are extreme hills to the south, extreme hills to the north, dark forest to the northeast, and there’s a massive swamp somewhere west-ish. I would give my left arm for a desert; I need Cactuscactus for cyan dye – oh man cyan is so pretty. Had I known better at the very beginning, before even creating this world that now has many hours invested into it, I would have made a 1.7.10 version instead so I can install some mods. At that, I just need to keep a close eye out on a few specific ones to be updated for 1.8. NEI is an absolute mess right now; don’t bother with it.

Moving onto the next station… Outland is platformer/jumper, and the PC port of it doesn’t suck. I played the demo on the PS3, loved it, and was crazy stoked with it came to Steam and went on sale. Awesome music. Snappy gameplay. I kind of wish the player would be rewarded more for enacting fancy fighting maneuvers, but I’m just being foppish. Whatever. You don’t know me.

Next station… The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I gave my 3DS some TLC. The decision to boot up Zelda was impulsive. I’m slowly warming up to the game. The 2D puzzle mechanic is fun, though sometimes I feel that the top-down view works against it. It’s been fun to re-live the giddy excitement of toting the 3DS around and getting StreetPasses.

Jason Buttonmasher and I began a new Anno 2070 co-op campaign. Rather, he invited me to participate in his campaign where I get sloppy with building placement and he steals all my tools. All the underlings on his island are wroth because I am not producing a sufficient quantity of tea. Meanwhile, I take all of his copper so the super-beings on my island can have PDAs. This is supposed to be a cooperative venture, right?

And speaking of cooperation: Sire, Tony Buttonmasher will be home for the weekend, taking some much needed R&R from a rather rigorous work assignment out of town. It goes without saying, the dude is foaming at the mouth for some DOTA. I may pencil in some time to play alongside he and his Juggernaut – because I am so indispensable.

Pray tell, what are you playing this weekend?

Unsolicited Mental Objects #6

Tony: So the “sequel” to Terraria was announced recently and the Terrarian in me got super excited. I recently started playing Terraria again and even picked up the Xbox Live Arcade version of it so my boys could enjoy it. I don’t think they’d admit it, but I think they might like it more than they like Minecraft. And they kinda love Minecraft. That affection could be described as “effusive”.

I love Terraria, too. I love that while it’s open-ended and sandbox-y, it has goals and “end points”. I love the exploration aspect of the game and finding new little pockets of abandoned houses and caves filled with ore gets my gears going. So when I read about the Terraria: Otherworld announcement and watched the teaser trailer, I was a little unsettled about this next chapter in Terraria.

See, while Terraria does have those previously mentioned “end points” (be they bosses or descending to The Underworld) those are completely arbitrary. Sometimes world events, like the attack of the Goblin Army, are unavoidable. But other times, it’s a conscious choice to summon the Eye of Cthulhu or the Eater of Worlds. Defeating these bosses doesn’t result in Saving The World. To me, that’s not what Terraria is about. Defeating them gets you a huge pile of loot so you can craft bigger and better swords and guns so you can summon them again, rinse and repeat.

So this new Terraria, with it’s theme of “saving the world” troubles me. I don’t like the idea of having an end point. I just want to do some exploration, mine some ore and maybe fight some big bad bosses. I’m just a simple guy with an iron pickaxe. I’m not a hero.

Nick: Sunless Sea bummed me out. Either my expectations were too high or the gameplay turned out to be a flop – or both – but, man, I don’t have it in me to continue. After 10-ish hours of game time, a pit formed in my belly whenever I thought of playing more, which sucks because on paper Sunless Sea has much going for it.

Part of this state of mind may stem from a personal aversion to text-heavy, story games. I’ve always been under the impression that if I wanted a good story I would read a book. Reading an abundance of text on a self-illuminating screen jars my concentration. Call me old fashioned, but it is what it is.

But, I was willing to make an exception with the text-heavy Sunless Sea. When researching the game prior to purchase I found the setting very appealing. I was engaged by the emphasis on exploration. Developer Alexis Kennedy quoted Joseph Conrad in a blog post on Gamasutra, which, in a small way, was a huge selling point for me. I also took heart to the promise that Early Access purchasers would acquire future DLC for free – of which, the game’s Kickstarter total has sealed the deal on at least one of them, a submersible to use to explore the depths of this Sunless Sea.

And so, for the first few hours I truly was engaged. Perhaps a little miffed I could not increase the size of the text, which makes zero (0) sense to me in a game whose main interaction with the gamer involves reading. I chose to not dwell on this and continued to plod along. I like the mechanic of captains passing down attributes to proceeding captains. I like that sea stories are a form of currency; this helps reaffirm the game’s themes of loneliness and longing.

But you know what I, player of Sunless Sea, longed for after a while? Some actual hint of gameplay.

My problem is not that the game moves slowly. My main issue is that this fictional world doesn’t evolve, which makes the game feel like that much more of a pointless, slow grind.

Upon the death of your captain, the fog of war floods the map once again and you must start afresh with a new captain. Only now, the game takes the islands and landmarks of the sunless sea and shifts them around. Should you embark and come across a familiar island from the previous captain the story of that island stays the same; the player is still clicking through the same narrative branches. This is unrewarding of the taxing efforts needed to get to these locations in the first place.

I’d like to see more life out there on the sea other than myself, monster and pirates. I want dynamic opportunities to intercept ships, besiege pirate strongholds, use the vertical canals to go to the surface, conspire in more detail with factions of islands, confirm whether this or that sea story is fact or myth. I want this stuff to happen sooner. The player can be the bridge between these solitary islands and their stories. To cast a beams of hope in a dank and dismal world (which, BTW, can be better presented. People are going all goo-goo-ga-ga over the atmosphere of Sunless Sea. I dunno, maybe I’m just being picky, but I think there is more to atmosphere than the sound of water drops processed with tons of reverb). But right now – and I may give the game another go – I am just another wayfarer locked up in my own mind and stuck on a ship with other crazies.

Jason: I’ll warn you right now, this UMO is filled with #firstworldproblems.

I recently took a plunge and ended up replacing the GPU on my machine.  I moved from an AMD Radeon 5770 up to a NVidia GTX 960. While I’m super pleased with the results a little part of me was let down.  The jump in framerate is really notable.  I’m pulling around 60fps on ultra settings for all of the games I play.

Something was off though.  I noticed that I definitely wasn’t as excited as I was when swapped my 2008 macbook for my custom built PC. The graphical leap there was REALLY notable whereas the jump here was slightly less huge.

That made me realize that this wasn’t a problem with the card, this was a problem with the games I play.  Going through my currently playing steam list I’ve got no games newer than 2-3 years old and most of them are not designed to be graphically intense.

So this week will be filled with me sampling the action filled, super pretty games that I keep avoiding to play MOBAs.  Bioshock Infinite, Batman Arkham (Fill in the Blank), and Endless Legend here I come!  Hopefully that’ll help me appreciate what I’ve got.

 

New Buttonmashing Deal: Destiny [PS4, PS3, Xbox 360]

February Releases

I’ve decided to branch out my monthly release list to include new releases on Steam. I guess with my current state of gamer-dom being PC-oriented, this was inevitable (a post on that should be forthcoming). I’d like to eventually include releases on Xbox Live, the Nintendo eShop and the Playstation Network, but for this month, Steam is the only newcomer. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of February 10th
Evolve

Week of February 17th
DEAD OR ALIVE 5 Last Round – This most be some SERIOUS BUSINESS if (a) the title is in ALL CAPS and (b) it’s the “Last Round”. (I’m guessing it’s never going to be the “Last Round” for Dead or Alive)

Week of February 24th
Dragon Ball Xenoverse
DYNASTY WARRIORS 8 Empires – Dynasty Warriors wants to get in on the ALL CAPS ACTION!
Rugby 15


Week of February 24th
Dragon Ball Xenoverse


Week of February 17th
Kirby & The Rainbow Curse


Week of February 10th
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D – Two strong offerings from Nintendo this month. I need to finish A Link Between Worlds.


Week of February 3rd
Cities XXL
Stay Dead Evolution
Darkest Dungeon
Astray
Grow Home
Front Office Football Seven
Castle In The Darkness
Fractured Soul

Week of February 10th
MX vs. ATV: Supercross Encore Edition
Evolve – It’s been a long time since I’ve bought a PC game a full retail price (Diablo 3 was probably the last one) but I think I will definitely make Evolve my first gaming purchase of 2015.
Cubicity
Block N Load – This game looks like a blast (pun intended)
Savage Lands

Week of February 17th
Total War: ATTILA

Week of February 24th
Trainz: A New Era – The addition of the “z” at the end of Trainz makes me sad.
Resident Evil Revelations 2


PS4 Banner

Week of February 10th
Evolve

Week of February 17th
The Order: 1886
DEAD OR ALIVE 5 Last Round

Week of February 24th
Dragon Ball Xenoverse
DYNASTY WARRIORS 8 Empires
Rugby 15


Week of February 24th
Dragon Ball Xenoverse
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late
Rugby 15


Week of February 3rd
Criminal Girls: Invite Only

Week of February 24th
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart

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.)