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?

The Holiday Haul

We had quite the Nintendo Holiday around the buttonmashing household — we added to more 3DS XLs to the mix (along with Pokemon X, Luigi’s Mansion and New Super Mario Brothers 2) and we added the coup de grace:

Special Wind Waker Wii-U

I also gifted myself a copy of the new Zelda 3DS game, A Link Between Worlds, but I haven’t had time to pop that into the system.

All in all, along with the games I picked up in the Steam Sale, I’m flush with new games going in to the new year.

What was under your tree?

In My Digital Hands

starbound

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:

IMG_0269

memories…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

monaco_boxart

dishonored_boxart

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.

daryl_vs_tyreese

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!

You can only choose one: Daryl or Tyreese?

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