June Releases

Well, this is rather embarrassing. It has been over two months since our last post. That means I’ve missed two monthly release posts and even though I have been mashing buttons, I haven’t written anything of substance. (More accurately, I’ve been mashing the right button on my mouse, because Dota 2 still has a stranglehold on my gaming time). But with that said, let’s get on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of June 3rd
Murdered Soul Suspect

Week of June 17th
UFC – Nice to see EA eschewing adding a number to each one of their franchises. Sometimes simple is better.

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark – The last Transformers video game got some decent sleeper-status buzz. Will Rise of the Dark Spark get it, as well?

Week of June 3rd
Murdered: Soul Suspect

Week of June 10th
Enemy Front

Week of June 24th
GRID Autosport Black Edition
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 3rd
Tomodachi Life

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark
Farming Simulator ’14 – If it was like this (questionable content alert), I’d be in on Farming Simulator for my 3DS.

Week of June 3rd
Wildstar
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Legends of Persia

Week of June 10th
Enemy Front
SPINTIRES – The description of this game includes the sentence “Fasten your seatbelt and become the driver of unique vehicles that have been based on Soviet off-road classics.” I don’t think you can get a nicher than a driving game based of Soviet off-road classics. The audience is narrow with this one.

Week of June 17th
Black Gold Online – I’ll take games I’ve never heard of for 500, Alex.
MotoGP 14
Tropico 5

Week of June 24th
GRID Autosport

PS4 Banner

Week of June 3rd
Murdered Soul Suspect

Week of June 17th
UFC

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 3rd
Murdered: Soul Suspect

Week of June 24th
Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland
Xblaze Code:Embryo
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark
GRID Autosport Black Edition

Week of June 3rd
Hyperdimension Neptunia PP – Nope, this title wouldn’t make ten-year old me laugh at all. Not at all!

Week of June 24th
Xblaze Code:Embryo
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma

(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

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.)

Weekend Gaming

Weekend Gaming posts are normally Tony’s shtick. For this weekend’s post he explained that he meant to write it last night but somehow mysteriously ended up in a couple DOTA 2 matches instead – just the same as a gambler says no more for the night but somehow mysteriously ends up cranking slots for two more hours, or the struggling chocaholic who somehow mysteriously finds his cheeks stuffed with whoppers. So this morning, while in the throes of fighting this personal demon, Tony assigned the Weekend Gaming task to me.

And well-timed, too! Should he have asked me to do this next weekend – or even tomorrow – there’s a strong chance that I would be unable to write this post as well because I somehow mysteriously have slipped ever-deeper into the realm of Dark Souls 2. I anticipated this game so much that I actually bought it on launch day (this past Tuesday), which I have never done with any other title. Several months ago there was a stir within the Dark Souls community when game co-director Yui Tanimura made mention that DS2 would be more ‘accessible’ than the first game. After seeing the buzz that his comment made he quickly issued a statement clarifying his meaning. For what it’s worth, I here now testify that ‘accessible’ does not mean easier. Not in the slightest. The same expectations on the player as the first Dark Souls are in place, perhaps even more pressing: Souls have more value (retrieve yours!); your HP is penalized the longer you play and die as a hollow; fall damage is more severe; the areas are gnarly and confusing. And yet, battered and bruised I press forward, along with so many other players.

If you have to ask, you don’t need to know.

A harder reality must be recognized. I am playing Dark Souls 2 on the PS3. And our family has only one HDTV. And my kids wanna watch stuff. And my wife would rather the kids watch stuff than me play Dark Souls 2. And these are enemies far more powerful and frightening than anything I will ever encounter in the game. So I must relinquish the TV at times. When this happens I do believe I shall resurface to join Tony and James and any other ButtonMasher in a nice, level-headed round or two of Dota. I am glad that Tony has been on a 2-month Dota kick because it has gotten me to gravitate back to the game as well. I’ve learned to take the losses along with the wins. I better understand the strategy, the items, the skills. When to use what, what to use where. Chatting with fellow ButtonMasher about the game is fun! But, more than anything, I no longer feel like I’m a slippery n00b.  Or as Major Payne once said to his squad:

MajorP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you playing this weekend, turd?

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?

On Gaming and Linguistics

While visiting London, Gamasutra contributor Leigh Alexander, American, noticed how gamers in the UK assign a different linguistic value than what she’s used to hearing to the term used to express that he or she has completed a game in its entirety. I almost said ‘beat’ the game but it looks like that expression is mainly used by us Yankees. She postulates, however briefly, about the cultural difference between ‘beat’ and the UK usage ‘finish’. So she took her thoughts to Twitter and posted some interesting replies on Gamasutra. The link below could be just the beginning of a legit anthropological linguistic study. Very cool.

Beating’ Games Around the World

Scrolling through her post brought to remembrance some recurring thoughts I had while playing Eve:Online last year. The MMO is home to over 5,000 playable star systems. A majority of the systems are named. How exactly are these names generated? Some are quite sharp and eloquent (Hakodan) while others, if sounded aloud, sound like drunken mumblings (Penirgman). Across the central cluster of New Eden you’ve got the likes of Sehmy, Keproh, Barira, Ishkad, Goni. Each name  seem to follow a loose root-and-pattern template – they do not spiral out of control, and yet, sounding some of them out can be quite the phonological workout. Being an MMO, this a fun little quirk of the EVE universe. I was on a teamspeak channel with my fleet while out on a roam, the fleet commander would call out which system to jump to, and, whoa doggies, this guy from Minnesota pronounced ‘Sasiako’ way different than I have been all along.

Ever since then I’ve had this nagging, musing wonder if someone has done some kind of phonology study across New Eden. 500,000 players from all over the world, different regions producing different phonetic practices, trekking across these 5,000 named virtual star systems. From a testing standpoint, the stage is already set: It’s a closed system with quasi-control groups and each player already has a microphone. The amount of raw data a student could collect from this would be staggering. Staggering, I tell you. From this, what could be deciphered about the Eve universe?

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.