What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Adam Wilson

Adam Wilson, writer

Author Adam Wilson falls victim to video game nostalgia peddlers.

By Drew Toal • May 17, 2013

In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

Adam Wilson is the Brooklyn-based author of the novel Flatscreen and the forthcoming short story collection What’s Important Is Feeling. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, and Best American Short Stories, among other publications. He also contributed to A Friday Night Lights Companion: Love, Loss, And Football In Dillon, Texas. It’s fitting, then, that our talk mostly covered old sports games.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Adam Wilson: I’ve been playing some NBA Jam.

Gameological: That game is pretty old. Why NBA Jam?

Wilson: Well, my brother got me a Sega Genesis for my birthday, which was the system of our youth. And he also got me a few games for it. It’s actually not an original Sega Genesis. I guess they sold the rights to it to some Japanese company. It’s a new one that has wireless controllers, and also it has 81 game digitally inside of it. So that’s interesting. A new version of the system. It has all the Sonic games in it. It is called—I can tell you what it’s called, hold on—it is called AtGames. That’s the company that makes it.

Gameological: They’re just capitalizing on our nostalgia.

Wilson: Pretty much. I never really made it past the old systems. Once things got 3D on me, I kind of just gave up. I mean, I played a lot of [Nintendo] 64, but I was never good at it. Not much beyond that. But the sports game of old, especially, I always had a special knack for NHL’94 and then NBA Jam. I’ve been watching a lot of the NBA playoffs, so I decided to buy a copy of the game on eBay for like three bucks.

Gameological: You know, ESPN has been counting down the top 25 sports video games of all time.

Wilson: Oh really?

Gameological: Yeah. I’m sure NHL ’94 and NBA Jam are both on it.

Wilson: They gotta be. They gotta be. I actually once spent a year deeply involved in a Sega Dreamcast baseball game, whichever one they have. I was playing a season with like four other guys. We each had a team, but at some point the season got erased, like 100 games in. And that was it. I kind of swore off video games. I had to take a break, and think about how deeply involved I was.

Gameological: Get some perspective…

Wilson: Yeah. I remember I had a friend who played that Dreamcast game as the Red Sox, and every time the Red Sox played, he would play as them. He did the full nine month season.

Gameological: That sounds like a Red Sox fan. He could overcome the real-life disappointment by winning in the game. I’ve been kind of kicking around this idea that something fun has been lost in the drive toward realism in video game sports. The sillier arcade style games are no longer in fashion.

Wilson: The older ones have something goofy about them. I feel another thing that’s fun about them—these days, if I go over a friend’s house and play some sports game against him, the fact that he owns the game and has the system means he’s just going to destroy me no matter what. I feel like with these old games, even if you’re good, you can’t get that good at them.

Gameological: Yeah, NBA Jam basically requires you to run back and forth and dunk.

Wilson: Exactly. And it’s sort of fun that if friends come over, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t played this game in 10 years, or if they’ve never played. Like, I’ve been playing NBA Jam with my girlfriend. She has never even heard of it before, but it’s still fun, and she can still win. It doesn’t really matter. The level of skill is sort of negligible.

Gameological: I was at a barbecue a few weeks ago, and, true to form, stayed long past the time everyone had left and or passed out. My buddy and I played Streets Of Rage while moderately impaired. It took us five to 10 minutes to figure out that we weren’t supposed to be suplexing one another.

Wilson: I was just going to mention Streets Of Rage, actually. So I played that recently too. This system comes with the 81 games, right, and that includes all the Sonic games and a bunch of crappy games. And that includes the Streets Of Rage series. And when I first got it, I was like, Oh, I remember Streets Of Rage. That game is awesome. But then I started playing it, and I was like, this is the crappiest game ever. I mean, it was kind of fun, but I couldn’t figure out the strategy. You just walk around punching.

Gameological: The strategy is rage.

Wilson: Yes. It’s rage. That’s true. There are a few other games like that on here that are all pretty—I mean, you realize how good EA Sports was, comparatively. In terms of graphics and stuff. Some of those old games are terrible looking. Over Christmas, I was at my girlfriend’s parents’ house, and they still have a working original Genesis and Nintendo. Because they’re the type of people who don’t break things, I guess? I don’t know. In my family, every video game system ended up getting smashed by someone angry about losing. Like my brother took a hammer to our original Nintendo after I beat him one too many times in Tecmo Bowl.

Gameological: Do you remember that guy on the Giants kick blocking team? He was the fastest guy in the game, and that’s counting Walter Payton and Bo Jackson.

Wilson: Oh yeah. What was that guy’s name?

Gameological: I don’t think he had a name. Special teams players were nameless.

Wilson: Maybe this interview will finally get him the recognition he deserves.

And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.

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  • Jackbert

    I’m out of school, so it’s time for lots of video games! The Walking Dead, Stacking, and Persona 3 Portable to be precise.

    The Walking Dead Spoilers
    I’m through the first two episodes and the first five chapters of the third episode. Two things have been very noticeable: heart-racing intensity and ludonarrative disconnect. Holy shit, Carley just got shot by Lilly! Then you left Lilly on the side of the road to get munched! That was crazy! Now spend thirty minutes looking for a pencil so you can read a notepad! In terms of choices, through the first two episodes I have been in the majority on decisions found here only three times. I’m so hip and nonconformist! (Choosing Duck, choosing Carley, and saving the guy from the bear trap.)
    End Spoilers

    Stacking is quite fun. I’m through the story, but I still have to finish up things in the last level to get 100%. I’m also thinking of buying The Hobo King DLC, is it good?

    I finally got around to starting a female MC playthrough of P3P yesterday. I’ve only got through the day when the town opens up (April 22), but it seems pretty cool so far. The new tunes are all pretty great, although I prefer the male MC battle theme. I’m excited to date Akihiko!

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      The Hobo King DLC is a blast. It’s not very long, but it’s good for a couple of hours of fun, and its sense of humour is even weirder than the main game’s. If it’s cheap, then I’d recommend it.

      (BTW, the DLC comes for free with the PC version. PC Master Race, y’all… :P)

    • Enkidum

      More Walking Dead Spoilers
      I didn’t leave Lilly on the side of the road, I took her with us and then she broke free from being tied up and stole the frigging RV. Cow.
      end spoilers

      I’ve been thinking about the game a fair bit, partly because I just finished Episode 3, but also because Ghaleon panned it in the comments a while back. He had a few good points – honestly, I think the idea that there is any real depth there is not really true – the zombie apocalypse is a ultimately a very silly trope. And plenty of parts of the gameplay are just annoying as fuck. But what they do very well is the emotional investment, through things like the use of the timer and forced situations – I found my pulse noticeably racing after some choices, particularly one which I suspect @Jackbert:disqus hasn’t gotten to yet but you will soon and it will suck. I get adrenaline rushes from lots of games, and I honestly felt something close to fear when playing Ravenholm in Half Life II, but this is possibly the first time I’ve felt something approaching emotional stakes in decisions. So that kind of emotional investment in a game – which is dependent on the fact that critical decisions have to be made fast, as in real life – is something that they’ve pulled off very well.

      • duwease

        *not spoilers, but may dampen enjoyment of Walking Dead if you haven’t finished it*

        TWD seems to get a lot of criticism that it’s not “deep”, in the sense that the choices don’t really make a HUGE difference if you go back and try different things.  To me, it seems to be missing the point.  The game is set up that each choice FEELS important on your first playthrough, and I’d argue that’s all that’s important.  It’s not until you play again and your mind is considering the meta aspects of choice trees and whatnot that the illusion fails.  But really, at that point you’re just poking around and satisfying curiosity instead of being emotionally invested anyway.

  • vinnybushes

    I got a 3ds xl this past week with some of my tax refund, and I’m trying unsuccessfully to play fire emblem, zero escape, luigi’s mansion, and etrian odyssey IV simultaneously. These are some of the best games I’ve played this year, and I’m having a hell of time trying to figure out which ones to buckle down and finish. I also downloaded The Starship Damrey today and it managed to creep me out enough to make me quit after only half an hour. I really dig it though.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Jealous. June 9th when my 3DS XL drops, same source of income. My plan is just Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem until the inevitable TRU sale of B2G1, and I swoop in and get Mario Kart, Mario 3D Land, and Luigi’s Mansion.

      I love my iPhone but the games rarely compare.

      • Bad Horse

        Oh man, once XCOM comes out on iPad I’m never going to come out of that thing.

    • NakedSnake

      I have been dangerously whetting my appetite for the 3DSXL by buying games and accessories for it while I save up for the console proper. Won’t be long. My immediate priorities upon purchase will be Resident Evil and Chrono Trigger (DS).

  • Drew Toal

    Don’t Starve. Maybe finishing Knife of Dunwall. Maybe starting a new game of Dragon’s Dogma. Lot of possibilities, here.

    • vinnybushes

       Dragon’s Dogma is like that insane relative everyone has. What he does never makes any sense, but you can’t help but find his bugfuck craziness strangely endearing. The combat is super fun too.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Your family gatherings must be a hoot.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           Especially the combat.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      At least you’re not crashing bar-b-q’s suplexing bros.

    • Effigy_Power

      Have you managed to build a somewhat permanent existence in Don’t Starve yet or is it just running from shit every night?

      • Drew Toal

        Last game I had built a pretty serious wall enclosure, and I thought that meant I had a good foothold. But then came the beefalo accident.

        GUY ON A BEEFFFALLLOOOOO!!!

        • George_Liquor

          I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m delighted.

        • Effigy_Power

          Well, riding a Beefalo into a Saloon to shoot some fools is pretty sweet. But don’t let the developers know that, the game is getting idiotically over-loaded as it is. Give it a month and it will basically be Command&Conquer: Survivor Island.

  • Fluka

    More New Vegas here, for which mild spoilerz. (And yes, I’ll get around to joining the group someday.  I’m just very fond of my cloak of utter anonymity right now!  I fear intimacy.)

    Still loving it, particularly after last week’s adventure to the Legion Fort, where I totally killed Caesar.  Approaching the ferry, I was already “Vilified” by the Legion, and had a bloodthirsty Boone in my party, so every Roman dude attacked on sight.  Suicidally.  Thanks to the magic of modding, I have all eight companions with me at all times.  It was a hilarious, Keystone Cops-esque bloodbath all the way to Caesar’s tent.

    Having slaughtered the bald, misogynist bastard, I pantsed him for his fancy armor.  I then readjusted my lab coat and glasses, sat on his throne, pet my refurbished cyberdog, and surveyed the smoking battlefield before me.  Boone, overjoyed, broke down and started telling me about his tragic past.  I gifted Veronica with a fancy hat made out of a wolf’s head.  Arcade Gannon couldn’t stop grinning for like the next hour, which I later realized was a bug and his lips couldn’t close.  Sweet victory.

    If I ever make a second character, I think it will be need to be Hunter S Thompson.  Speaking of which, relevant comic!

    • Effigy_Power

      Enjoy your cloak. I will keep that sorry sausage party on Steam under some control.

      I played a maniacal walkthrough, killing all those who would spell order or authority. In the end only the Fiends, the Khans and the Powder Gangers were left. Anyways, last time I played all NCR and finally beating Caesar was a great satisfaction. This time he was just another bald dude mowed down by my Shishkebab or probably the Grenade Launcher.
      Ending the reign of slaver scum loses a lot of its appeal if you just kill everyone. Anyways, I did manage to make the Mojave a considerably more terrible place, so yay. I expected as much, since the doctor who saved my life was the first one to die.

      • djsubversive

        On the other hand, you made the Mojave better by getting rid of the corrupt NCR, the rape/murder loving Legion, the drugs/cannibalism/pedophilia loving Fiends, the isolationist-and-explosive Boomers, the dirty Khans, the Powder Gangers, the technology-hoarding Brotherhood of Steel, remnants of the Master’s Super Mutant army, raider gangs (Jackals, Scorpions, and Vipers), and Mr. House and the tribes of the Strip.

        • Effigy_Power

          Sorry:
          “In the end only the Fiends, the Khans and the Powder Gangers were left.”
          I left behind everyone who appeared to spell chaos for decades to come. I don’t like the Mojave, I had to drive through there once and it was boring as balls, so anything to make that place less appealing seems like a good idea.

      • Fluka

        BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SPOILER.

        Well, at least you rid the Mojave of frakkin Cylons right off the bat!

  • Citric

    Streets of Rage has an excellent soundtrack. Did a road trip with it playing, totally perfect.

    Anyway, I’ve implemented Operation Backlog, to get rid of my, er, backlog. It probably won’t succeed, but I’ve got games going on each console, plus a download category (it would be just PC, but I wanted to play Legend of Mana.) As I finish, the game is replaced by a different unfinished game on that console. Eventually, if all goes to plan, I’ll finish everything. It might even sort of work, even if I keep adding to said backlog. So!

    PSP – Ys VII. Progress is slow on this, but I’m trekking along, secretly wishing it was more like Ys: Oath in Felghana. It is pretty good though! Just got the ice booties.

    DS – World Ends With You. I like where it’s going, and how fully fleshed out the world is. What I don’t like is Joshua, who is kind of a dickbag. I suspect some redemptive arc is afoot, but he’s still a dickbag.

    PS2 – Digital Devil Saga. Shadow Hearts is done, so now I’m on to that SMT game where all the dialog is sort of stilted and weird. Excellent battle system, not very far in though.

    PS3 – Spec Ops: The Line. Still super early in it (Chapter 4 or 5 I think, running around rooftops), but it seems pretty interesting so far. I think the main character might be more of a dick than he wants to believe, I sure am killing a lot of people I maybe should be talking to first.

    Download – Legend of Mana. This category includes PSN specifically because I wanted to play this, which is an extremely pretty game. The story is quite episodic and has the potential to be neat, which describes pretty much everything else about it so far. Early part of the game seems to be laying groundwork for nifty stuff later. 

    • vinnybushes

      three out of four of those are on my backlog too. I got really far into TWEWY and the multitasking got too intense for me, since the battle system morphs into something new every seven or eight hours.
       Digital Devil Saga is definitely a strange animal. I don’t really know what to think about the main characters and the fact that you eat everyone you defeat. The inhumanity of everyone involved is pretty disturbing, which is probably what they were going for.
      I never got to the big twist that’s a little way into spec-ops but apparently it’s a doozy…

    • Jackbert

      Ah man, you don’t like Joshua? He’s my favorite character! Of course, I am a bit of a dickbag. I’m not sure how far along you are but I definitely think he’s involved with some interesting stuff at some points. Don’t sell his arc short.

    • Sleverin

       TWEWY has become one of my favorite games.  Art style is fantastic, and has really made me get into hip hop, graffiti art, and a bunch of other stuff.  That game is amazing, and Joshua is a total fuckwad.  Don’t worry, there’s never any kind of redemption for him, he’s an annoying bastard the whole time.

    • duwease

      I don’t know what your personal tolerance is for grinding and crazy, but mine are high in both areas and so I *loved* Digital Devil Saga.  If you can deal with all the grinding, you won’t find a crazier story for your money.. and this is a genre which contains Persona 2 where *spoilers* magical rumors cause zombie Hitler to resurrect and take off in his giant Nazi warship which the entire city was built on *end spoilers*

      • Citric

        I had a love-hate relationship with Persona 2: IS, but the love definitely involved beating up steampunk Nazis.

        I think the only thing I don’t like about SMT is that for a grindy series, they don’t make especially interesting areas to explore. They love their identical corridors.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      “Legend of Mana” is loads of fun and surprises.

      My advice: don’t try to do a “perfect” run through, just enjoy the thrill of wondering whether you’re playing the game right or not.

      • Citric

        Don’t worry, I’ve never been that concerned with doing a perfect run, on any game.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Oh to be able to play Spec Ops the Line fresh again.  Hang on tight Citric, it’s going to be an existential ride.

    • NakedSnake

       So are the Ys games any good? I keep hearing about them, but it’s not all praise. But they sound interesting. I was thinking about checking out the PSP versions, since that would be the most convenient for me.

      • Citric

        Ys Oath in Felghana is downright excellent and Seven is pretty good though it has some flaws – too much text, and I miss the platforming elements from Oath. They’re a bit old school, but in a good way, I’d recommend trying out at least one of them.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    Last weekend, I managed a complete run-through of Receiver. It was fun while it lasted, but I’ll be putting it one down for a while unless there’s another content update. I think the few of us that’ve played it have already elucidated why we like and/or love the game, but it’s still pretty bare-bones. Still, I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.

    The above didn’t take the whole weekend, so starting Sunday I played through a recently-acquired copy of The Bridge. Conceptually, it has no small similarity to Braid, but its Escher-style graphics and gravity-rotating mechanics are dissimilar enough to distinguish it. It’s almost a slight experience by this point, considering all of the puzzle games that have come before it, but it has enough satisfying brain-teasing for five or so hours. I decided to simply look up the hidden wisps in the forum, though.

    Unexpectedly, I got to play a few rounds of a card-and-board game called Sequence: players have a hand of playing cards which they discard-and-replace to place colored tokens in marked spots on the board, with the goal of lining up five in a row. It’s kind of like Connect Four, if Connect Four was a board game with playing cards. It’s easy to pick up and surprisingly fun, but like a lot of the card games that my friends and I play, random chance plays a significant role. We actually kind of like that, but to each their own.

    The last few days, I’ve spent my lunch hours on The Cop Jazz Hour, by duwease. The setup itself was charming, but man were those puzzles difficult.

    Friday evening, I may be playing another game of Eclipse. My last game went alright, but I only survived the first half due to the surprising magnanimity of one of the other three players. With four players under the base rules, it feels like this game is largely about building up your military so you can deter the other players, if not conquer them outright. Military might isn’t the only way to get victory points, but there’s no way to win from under the boot-heel of another player.

    This weekend, I may take the plunge and marathon Telltale’s The Walking Dead. After Monday’s article on it, I really feel like I should have played this game already, but I suppose I was waiting for a time when I could play through it from start to finish. I look forward to it!

    • vinnybushes

      The Bridge looks like a cross between Braid and Closure, which is a great game, and less likely to give me a headache, as all reorienting games tend to do.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Headaches? Ouch. I’m lucky enough not to get anything like that when playing games. I’m surprised, though; do you get them from 2D games? I always though 3D games were more likely to trigger those kinds of things.

        If it helps, the rotation mechanics in The Bridge are completely under your control and they aren’t very quick, but I suppose if you aren’t focusing on a specific point in the frame it could still be headache-inducing.

        • vinnybushes

          It’s more of a weird feeling of vertigo I get when everything is upside down, and it mostly makes my eyes strain really hard and kind of hurt. This was the most recent thing to do it to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdFxKGI1eFQ

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Wow, another human being who has played Sequence! I thought I was the only one. *sniffle*

      Seriously, though, it’s a ton of fun, especially if you play with a number of players that is a multiple of 3. I know that the simple packaging and grey board make it look like a bore, but it’s a pretty good party game.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I wasn’t sure what the three of us were getting into when my friend brought it out, but about halfway through the first game, it clicked. Have you played with more than three people? He mentioned that you can play in multiples of two or three if you make teams, which sounds like a hoot.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          I think I once played it with four people, but it wasn’t as much fun as with three. I’ve never played it with more than four people, though, so maybe things get super-interesting at 8 or 10 players.

      • DrFlimFlam

        We own and play Sequence often at the FlimFlam household. I’m convinced that there’s really only a very small amount of strategy involved, but it’s still fun, and the “no-crosstalk” makes team play the best.

      • boardgameguy

        we also have sequence and it gets played fairly regularly when we have 6-8 people since that can be a tough sell for a thinkier game

    • duwease

      Thanks for the shout out.  Can you believe I actually toned *down* the puzzles?  I got an old logic puzzle magazine and did some of the puzzles to see about where to aim for difficulty, and all of the ones included are based on ones between 1 and 3 stars out of 5.. and I added a couple extra clues to some of the 3′s.

      I guess people who still buy logic puzzle magazines are pretty hardcore..

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        Is there an “I’m dumb, give me a hint” button?  Because I’m pretty dumb and the only puzzle-adventure game I’ve been able to finish completely is Machinarium which hid its hints behind a silly arcade game.

        • duwease

          There’s two options.. the Detective’s Handbook gives general logic puzzle hints, and there’s a walkthrough linked at the bottom of the “Description” text (hidden away on the right): http://textuploader.com/?p=6&id=FfgRg

          I tried to structure the walkthrough so you can step through to the one part where you get stuck, and then take it yourself from there.

          There’s also the “Check Answers” button that’ll tell you if you put something in wrong, but won’t give a hint as to what’s right.

        • kthejoker

          @duwease:disqus Hey, do you ever check that Gmail account for the game? Since I offered you money and all.

  • Link The Ecologist

     I’m hoping to buckle down this weekend and get in some quality time with New Vegas. I just entered Freeside and everyone has me running around for them. I feel like a proper courier at last! but I’m also starting to getting slightly impatient, what with all the non-violence happening.

    Also, since I got a new couch I figured the best way to test it out was to get my console face on, so I picked up Pandora’s Tower. Haven’t tried it out yet but I’m looking forward to it.

    • djsubversive

      “Make a brief stop at the Atomic Wrangler! Where the booze is cheap, the tables are hot, and the women are just like the booze!”

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    I never got into sports video games because they always seemed way too complicated for me, but I wanted to touch on one of the things Mr. Wilson said in the interview. Like him, I miss the days of being able to go over to a friend’s house and just pick up a game in a few minutes. I mean, I was still hopeless, but I could nonetheless, y’know, move my character around and engage with the game on a rudimentary level. But a few months ago, when my roommate was showing me AssCreed II and GTA IV on his PS3, I realized just how complicated modern video games have become. It took him 20 minutes of coaching before I could finally move Ezio around properly, and though he had nearly beaten the game, he couldn’t remember half the controls for the latter game. It’s no surprise that as games have become increasingly complex and difficult to learn, they’ve transformed from toys that could get people to gather around a TV screen to solitary experiences where socialization takes place through a headset.

    This weekend, I might play some Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which I’m playing in small increments. I’m really enjoying the wacky sense of humour and the terrible one-liners, but I find the gameplay surprisingly satisfying too. There’s something about sniping off every enemy at a garrison, one by one, that makes me feel like a huge badass.

    I might also fire up some Saints Row the Third, which I’ve been playing on and off for months. Maybe this will finally be the month when I complete it. (Naaahhhhh.) I really want to like the game, but the mission structure just seems so stupid and repetitive. “Go here and shoot these guys.” Okay, sure. That would be fine, but SR3 doesn’t have mechanics that are finely honed enough for that to be fun for a long time. Aiming is a little floaty, the field of view is all off, and there’s no way to switch shoulders, so it’s sometimes impossible to aim from behind cover. I think I’m going to pass on SR4, at least until it’s in the bargain bin.

    @Jackbert:disqus has reminded me that I promised to start The Walking Dead this week, since it’s been sitting on my hard drive, collecting virtual dust. I’ll get on that, Jack, and we can have lengthy discussions about moral choice in video games, ludonarrative dissonance, the aesthetics of play, systems of interaction, mechanics as metaphor, self-expression through ludic language, and who would survive for longer during a zombie apocalypse.

    • Jackbert

      My credentials are: above-average speed, experience in swinging a baseball bat, and an aptitude for engineering.

      On the other hand: asthma and weighing about as much as a Victoria’s Secret model.

      • Effigy_Power

        And no nasal hair. Never trust someone with no nasal hair.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I think many action games get bogged down with a bunch of stuff you wind up not using (or forgetting you have) because there’s just too much. I love the Arkham Batman games, but at a certain point enough is enough. Give me a Batman game with half the gadgets and more stealth.

      • indy2003

        I have to admit, I’m pretty bad about forgetting the little things when I set a game aside for a few weeks and then come back to it. I’ll find myself stumped by some situation and scratch my head for a while before going, “Oh, right! I have night vision goggles/a clue book/a magnetic frisbee/an invisibility cloak/a magic potion/a robotic sidekick that I can use here.”

        • Citric

          In Splinter Cell, a late game mission involves sniping a dude through a window. I could not, for the life of me, hit him, because the rifle kept jumping around, but all the walkthroughs suggested it was an easy shot. Then I look online and there’s a note that if you hold your breath, the sights will steady.

          Oh yeah, that was even in the tutorial, oops.

    • Cloks

      Is SR3 a solo experience for you? I wasn’t a big fan of the game until I started playing it in co-op mode and it made it much better.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Game’s complexity was a supply & demand issue wherein as the hardcorde fanbase mastered the old NBA Jams and Gunstar Heroes of lore, they demanded more depth and complexity.

      Developers were also presented with way more technology and sure we can use a bunch of different buttons for throwing sand at Venetian guards now that we’ve got the technology.

      There are still a lot of games that are a nice antidote to this though and they’re mostly Indie games.  Incredipede comes to mind.  It’s pretty easy to pick up the basics but it takes a lot of work to truly master it.  I haven’t.

    • Effigy_Power

      That complexity thing has another side though.

      We, as humans, are becoming increasingly deft at multitasking and committing complicated movements to memory, especially with our hands. Over the last 100 years or so, technology has forced us to adapt to ever increasing exposure to technology.
      The car alone is a great example. While a bronze age hunter would have the same brain capacity and potentially the same intelligence as you, he would be horribly overwhelmed with the task to steer, shift, listen to the radio, observe traffic, observe signage and so on. We as modern humans can barely handle this influx of information, but we are infinitely more conditioned to function that way.
      Fine motor skills weren’t invented with technology, but they have become ubiquitous in our society. A 12th century human would have a hard time using a smartphone, even if she could mentally grasp it, unless she was of a fine-mechanical profession like goldsmith or something. Today just about everyone coming from an industrialized culture can pick up a device and operate it.

      The complexity of games is pacing itself on what the human brain can handle, and vice versa. Exposure to highly difficult control schemes trains our brains to refocus towards these fine motor skills and helps us keep focus. We can navigate our way through cities full of blinking and honking and bleeping and slogans and whatnot, whereas a senator of the Roman Empire would likely have a seizure. Technology necessitates and enables our mental evolution or retraining.

      That is what people talk about when they claim that video games are good for you. Their complex training routine enables us to interact more efficiently with technology, both physically and mentally.

    • djsubversive

      If you want to play SRTT this weekend, I’ll do some co-op with you. Double the Boss, double the fun!

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    Advice: Should I finally play past the first 30 minutes of Throne of Bhaal which I’ve been stuck at for the last year and a half or try out Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines for the first time?

    On the one hand, I should probably cross the Baldur’s Gate series off my list sooner or later. On the other hand, I’m intrigued by the idea of VTMB, but realize that the only exposure I’ve had to that universe is the tv show on Fox that was cancelled after like half an episode. But the game looks neat and apparently players have fixed the bugs in the meantime.

    • vinnybushes

       Bloodlines is fantastic, even more so if you know a little about the rpg, (masquerade, not requiem). It’s a lot like the more recent fallout games or deus ex in particular. A word to the wise: Guns don’t work well against vampires ,so investing in gun skills is not a good long term strategy.

    • duwease

      VTM, hands down.  Hugely underrated gem, especially with the bugs that gave it a bad name fixed.

    • Travis Stewart

      Bloodlines, easily.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      @vinnybushes:disqus @duwease:disqus @travisstewart:disqus Well, it’s unanimous. Thanks peeps, now I just have to find out if there are any problems running Bloodlines on Windows 8.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I know on 7 I had to make a minor change but it was so easy a FlimFlam could do it. No idea on 8.

    • djsubversive

      Bloodlines is excellent. Have at least one combat skill. Having a social skill will help but isn’t necessary (especially if you’re one of the clans that gets a social Discipline).

      Malkavian is the best clan, just not for the first time.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    Hey all! We’ve come to the end of my run through Final Fantasy VIII. Overall, it’s been a pleasant experience, but not without its flaws. Here are my thoughts on the ending. ANCIENT SPOILERS AHOY! 

    Ultimecia must go down as one of the most tedious end bosses in Final Fantasy history. You can’t kill her too quickly; she has to VERY SLOWLY STATE THE THEMES OF THE STORY IN EXPLICIT TERMS. Yep, we get it. Time rolls on. People grow older. You can’t stay a kid forever. That theme was illustrated quite well over the last 50 hours. 

    The ending, thankfully, decides to show rather than tell. When Squall gets lost in time, his instinct takes him to his childhood. But he’s an adult now. He can’t rely on Matron or Sis when he loses his way. Now he needs to find his love, Rinoa, who needs him as much as he needs her.  As Laguna suggested at the end of disc three (in what I assume was an intentionally silly monologue), the power of love will help you hold on to your self when the world goes crazy.  Being an adult means learning to rely on love and friendship. That’s a fascinating idea. So many other works equate growing up with learning to be independent. In Final Fantasy VIII, growing up means learning to love and trust other people. Codependence is a virtue rather than a flaw. We’re all better together. 

    • DrFlimFlam

      D’awww….

      I wish I’d beaten that game when I was younger, but I was too chicken for the final showdown. Like many angsty teens I saw some of myself in Squall (hence the Gamertag, which I refuse to pay to change), and that ending would have been helpful to a kid who felt that alone sometimes.

      Or made it worse. Difficult to say.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Now that you’ve finished that wonderful game, why don’t you take a trip down it’s even crazier batshit fan theories with Squall is Dead?

      http://squallsdead.com/

      They have more evidence than the Paul is Dead people, that’s for sure.  Seriously, it’s a crazy read and totally worth 10 minutes.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        It’s an interesting read, but not very compelling. The writer takes a pretty narrow focus (S/he ignores Laguna, for example.) I mean, Final Fantasy 8 wasn’t exactly subtle with its themes. Characters were prone to soliloquies, and they hardly ever talked about death. Being dead worked for Tidus, because Final Fantasy X was all about death.

    • doyourealize

      I don’t remember all of the final battle, but I do remember losing someone early, cutting my party to 2, and then finding some sequence of attacks (relying on the thing that cuts all MP costs to 1) I could repeat for what seemed like a few hours. It can’t have been that long, though…right?

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        Sounds like a different game. FF8 doesn’t have MP. 

  • HobbesMkii

    Is Reus worth the $9 it’s on “sale” for on Steam right now? Has anyone played that game that just released yesterday yet? Tell me your thoughts! I must know!

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      I haven’t played it but the guy who made Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing gave it a glowing endorsement so it’s worth at least the price of a six-pack of Hoegardden.

      I’m currently on a forced-game-buying hiatus after I purchased Monkey Island on a whim for $8 then remembered I hate adventure games.  Otherwise I think I’d be right on top of this.

      2-D God Game with minor civ building elements? C’mon!

      • HobbesMkii

        I always forget how little $10 is. I could just not have a beer for 3 days. That wouldn’t be so hard. I did it all the time before I turned 21.

        • Kyle O’Reilly

          That’s what makes Steam so dangerous. All I have to do is say, “it’s only the price of a Chipotle Burrito” and then suddenly I have GTA IV Liberty Stories on my PC when I already own GTA IV on 360.

          But I say get Reus. It looks cute and the word-of-mouth over on Reddit is all positive so far. http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1ehpq5/reus_was_released_today_what_does_everyone_think/

    • Effigy_Power

      Bought.
      What can I say, I love being a god. And in my off-time, I play video games.

  • fieldafar

    If I do get around to turning on my 360 and play… I’d like to continue Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or even Tomb Raider.
    But I have rediscovered FTL: Faster than Light… I mean, I contributed to their Kickstarter, should play it more. I’ve forgotten how hard but fun it is!

    • DrFlimFlam

      I don’t often say that a game is both fun and hard, but FTL is both of those things, and I don’t mind that I’ve never beaten it. For me it’s about the adventure you have along the way, and how many Mantises you vent out into space.

  • Enkidum

    So many choices. I’m currently partially through a bunch of games that I might actually continue, including… Closure, GTA Vice City, Just Cause II, The Walking Dead, Guacamelee, The Cave, Soldner X Himmelsturmer, Scott Pilgrim, and probably a couple of others. Then there’s a bunch of new things I downloaded because, yeah, apparently I’m not busy or anything.

    And, I dunno, I might continue with the Sleeping Dogs DLC, or I just downloaded Persona 3 because it was like 5 bucks, and oh my god my life will be devoted to my console.

    Eh, I should also get a job for the fall. Work on that now, sigh…

  • EmperorNortonI

    I’ve gotten hard into Fallout New Vegas.  I’d been trying to dip my toe back into Company of Heroes, but a few minutes with a real RPG and I’ve not looked back.  I seem to be a bit stuck at the moment, though – not good enough with any of my guns to power through to the next location, but with the Sawyer mod the wildlife don’t give enough XP for grinding to be realistic, unless I want to spend HOURS killing Ants for 5 xp each with the Repeater Rifle.

    Also, I’ve been watching Basketball.  It’s good to see Oklahoma City crashing and burning, as I’ve not forgiven them for leaving Seattle, and it’s nice to see someone giving the Spurs a run for their money.  As a true Lakers fan, I not only have a personal grudge against the Spurs, but also resent their fundamentals-first boring play.  Go Warriors!  Cali Represent!

    • djsubversive

      Yeah, Sawyer really makes you work for that xp. I was able to get the hotel room in Novac and continue north at level 4. There was a lot of avoiding people by running the long way around (especially near Wolfhorn Ranch – those Deranged Bright Followers hit pretty hard when you only have 1/4 the health you would in the vanilla game).

  • CNightwing

    I’ll play a game of Twilight Struggle this evening. My opponent is still learning, but soon I will find it difficult to exploit my prior knowledge of the card deck.

    Then over the weekend, I’m unsure. I started playing Skyrim again, only my second time through, primarily as a way to retrain my brain so that I don’t have to invert the Y axis in every game I play. It took me about 4 hours to sort that out, but I don’t know if it will stick. Yay for science at home! Otherwise, I have a game of Crusader Kings II I want to progress in, but the next King of Galicia is going to be Scottish (this was a bad marriage in retrospect) and I’m not sure how to deal with that.

    • boardgameguy

      take it easy on him. it’s hard to be the learning player in Twilight Struggle if your opponent knows the game well. i’m finding the same to be true of Through the Ages but i’m loving it. thank goodness for boardgaming-online.com

      • CNightwing

        Yeah I try to advise as much as possible during the game, especially when he attempts something silly.
        I didn’t know there was a decent online version of Through the Ages! Is it live-online or play-by-mail style? I want a game now.

        • boardgameguy

          play by mail, although if you have two people who are at their computers refreshing after each play, it works live.

          i’ve done it twice with friends who live far away with the screen open in one window and a google hangout in the other with both friends. it does a pretty strong job of simulating the “sitting around the table” feel of a normal table top session

    • doyourealize

      Is there a reason to need to train your brain to not invert the y-axis? Why don’t you just invert it? Is there some benefit to not doing this? I’m genuinely interested since I play FP games with the y-axis inverted.

      • CNightwing

        Well, I was curious how difficult it would be (surprisingly easy) and it also saves me changing it whenever I start a new game that doesn’t invert it by default.

  • rvb1023

    Finished 2 games this week, the Mortal Kombat reboot and the dreadful Silent Hill: Homecoming. MK wasn’t all that great and the people at NetherRealm need to learn character design, but my time didn’t feel particularly wasted.

    Homecoming on the other hand feels like a Silent Hill movie tie-in. Except for a few key set pieces and Yamaoka’s score it was terrible. Makes me fear my eventual playthrough of Downpour.

    And summer has began and since I have a few weeks before The Last of Us and have to save up a bit for a 3DS, SMTIV, and Project X Zone, I can’t decide if I am going to play Drakengard or Resonance of Fate.

    Drakengard I am only interested in because I loved Nier so much and I have heard the game is absolutely insane in terms of content, so at least if it’s bad it will be interesting. Also the announcement of the third game seemingly out of nowhere did peak my interest.

    And Resonance of Fate I bought solely off of a single GIF that just looked fantastic, but I have heard mixed things.

    • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

      There’s gonna be another Drakengard!?  Oh man.  The first one had some truly amazing story moments, and Nier is a sleeper favorite of mine.

      Resonance of Fate is another one of those love-it-or-hate-it games with some very peculiar mechanics.  I love it, but got stuck partway through.  I need to revisit.

      • rvb1023

         Yeah, already it seems to be building on the series’ ability to be incredibly dark and to cover the most the most extreme concepts. Apparently the main character is this chick who gets off to fighting and being covered in gore and has her own harem. And this is only in the promotional materials.

        • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

          Gore-splattered young maiden… male harem… flower growing out of eye… yep, that sounds about right!

  • Captain Internet

    This weekend it’s going to be The Walking Dead and Fallout: New Vegas, The Gameological Society Steam Group’s decision of game to ‘revue’. 

    It’s a big and brilliant game, and entirely what Fallout 3 should have been.

    I’ll also attempt to complete my exploration of Lindenmayer systems in the 3D space in order to simulate the basil plant in my kitchen

    • duwease

      I’m convinced from the love around here to do New Vegas.  Loved the Fallout series, although 3 was… not bad, really, but just seemed kinda bland and empty, so when added with the bugs I decided to skip NV.  Sounds like I need to take another look.

    • DrFlimFlam

      So weird to me that everyone loves NV over 3. I enjoyed 3 more for the claustrophobia of the city, whereas NV has taken me years to play and I just got to The Strip.

      What gives?

      • stakkalee

        I’m playing F3 right now and the claustrophobic feeling of the city and the Metro ruins are what vaults it above NV for me.

      • Captain Internet

        Personally, I think New Vegas has more soul- it’s a bit patchy, and you have to work at it a bit, but it’s far less contrived than Fallout 3.

    • Captain Internet

      Oh and the other thing I’ll be playing is the new Daft Punk album, which is (largely) sublime.

      • TheTrack

        Oh man, can we talk about how brilliant the new Daft Punk album is?  I get a lot of the criticism, but for me it’s really wonderful.

        Oh, and I’ll also be playing New Vegas!  I decided to finally get the main plot done, and having just finished all the Wild Card quests I think I may be (kinda) close.

        • Captain Internet

          It’s genuinely brilliant. It needs to be about 15 minutes shorter, the second track is in the wrong place, but beyond that it is utterly, utterly beautiful. It’s not like there’s one single stand-out track- there’s several. It’s that kind of  album.

          It’s like there was this place at the end of 1979 pop music could have become this album, but instead everyone decided to take cocaine and make love to their synthesiser. 

          It has more groove and soul than anything I’ve heard in the last year. The only thing that comes  close in recent memory is The Archandroid by Janelle Monae

        • TheTrack

          Yeah, the comparison to ArchAndroid is definitely apt; it’s probably the most insane, ambitious pop album that I’ve heard since that one.  And Monae’s also releasing a new album this year so, y’know, go 2013 go.

          I think it could be a bit shorter in a couple places, but really I enjoy the whole thing front to back (which is kinda insane for an album this long).  As for stand out tracks, there’s a lot.  Giorgio by Moroder, Instant Crush, Give Life Back To Music, Lose Yourself to Dance, Motherboard, Doin’ It Right, Contact…crazy stuff.

        • Captain Internet

          Giorgio By Moroder is a like a dissertation in perfect dance music. 

        • TheTrack

          It really is.  When the strings and guitars kick in its just brilliant.

  • duwease

    Heading out of town for a wedding again, so likely not much other than an old Yu-Gi-Oh game for DS I got on a whim to play on flights.  Card battlers have their own special inbuilt addictiveness.

    Really close to finishing up Far Cry 3 though.. just finished the story (which was.. um?), and just need to find some creative ways to finish off the last outposts.  I’m thinking a wave of fire and some carefully planted explosives.

    Next?  Citadel DLC I’m thinking, once I check whether my old save games are in the right place.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      The word for the story of Far Cry 3 you were looking for is ‘barf-tastrophe’.

      The writer has also been making the press junket lamenting how people just didn’t ‘get’ his story in Far Cry 3 and how he was parodying modern video games and racism, etc.  Ugh.  FYI, just being a modern video game and being racist does not mean you are parodying them.  You have to say something of meaning for that to be true.

      Fun game.  Abysmal story.

      • duwease

        Yeah, I had heard that angle and had it in mind when going through the story, but by the end I still couldn’t see where he was coming from… everything seemed to be played fairly straight.

        The one bright note was Vaas, whose scenes were done well, but there wasn’t nearly enough of him.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    Some school obligations are colonizing what should be my summer break at the moment, so I’ll be playing a little Why Isn’t the Semester Over? I’m Pretty Sure it Was Over…

    I also operated a motor vehicle for the first time yesterday, as part of a new effort to learn how to do that. I completely hate everything about it. This weekend I might put in a little more time, playing some Emphatically NOT Grand Theft Auto: Learning to Maneuver a 2-Ton Piece of Metal Without Killing Anyone or Taking Out All the Lightposts in the City.

    More seriously, I, on a whim, started playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter after seeing it listed on Actionbutton.net‘s weird, eclectic list of “best games,” and finding a cheap copy. When I was in high school I really liked the series, but by the time this PS2 iteration came out, I was in college, feeling kind of done with JRPGs, and the reviews were kind of mixed in their response to the experimental gameplay changes to the series formula, so I never bothered to play it. Reading up on it, though, it does some interesting things with time limits and repetition that sound intriguingly Majora’s Maskey, and I’m curious to delve a bit more into its weird structure.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      I don’t like driving either, and a big reason is video games. When you’ve got hundreds of hours of experience with pretend F40s and your decade-old Logitech steering wheel, regular passenger cars with their ridiculously high steering ratios feel prehistoric. 900° lock-to-lock angles? Seriously? The fundamental concept is definitely sound and something later iterations can build upon, but design decisions like these result in terribly clunky controls and an overall poor user experience more often than not. 4/10.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Totally. I find myself thinking, whenever I have to make a turn “Wow, these car things could use some major UI-tweaking!”

        I’m also not used to dealing spatially with piloting a thing that takes up so much space that you have to be accountable for from the inside. I think games have spoiled me in this respect, too. If I could mount a video camera on a pole sticking 10 feet up and behind the car, so I could see it from the outside like a racing game or GTA or whatever, parallel parking and maneuvering and staying in lanes would be SO much easier!

        Apparently, according to my instructor, I’m better-than-average for a total novice at staying in my lane (I credit this hand-eye coordination to video games). However, actually turning still feels like a bit of a crapshoot each time, owing in part to the above-mention crummy steering controls.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          You know, some people actually did try the camera thing; results were mixed? There’s might be more videos of the sort on YouTube if you look for “third person driving”.

    • Citric

      Dragon Quarter is my favorite game that I never finished for some reason. I adore the battle system, but since it kept encouraging you to start again I never finished the game. I’ll have to do that soon.

      Also, I like actually driving a lot, but feel the need to note that actual obstacles are a bit less prone to just falling over in real life. Fire hydrants will fuck your shit up, not just fall over and give an amusing fountain of water.

  • DrFlimFlam

    Most (but not all) of my yardwork is done, so I’m hoping to get some time in with Mass Effect. I’ve been playing tons of iOOTP12 but am hoping to wean myself off of it now that I’ve been successful with my own drafting and deal-making stategies, but there are some players I’d love to watch retire, see if I was able to guide them into the Hall of Fame (though that HoF includes Mark Langston and a surprisingly good Rusty Greer in it, so who knows what the value is there).

    Beyond that I played some Mario Power Tennis and Mario Golf last night, inspired by the recent unsports game discussion, and I’m glad all my cleared saves of Mario Tennis are there, since I have four or five guys with “Star” power.

    After a level crashed, probably going to dive back into LEGO LOTR. Enough time has passed that I am ready to try again, but Traveller’s Tales, COME ON. Twice now I’ve had levels crash or be impossible to finish in this game.

    • Flying_Turtle

      How do you like OOTP? I have Baseball Mogul 2008, but I’ve heard that OOTP is better, and I’m contemplating switching whenever I decide to move to a more current version.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I generally play the mobile version, but I have a lot of fun with that, and the PC version is a more expanded variant of that. I would probably take more time with platoons and substitutions with that version, which is terrifying because it doesn’t take much for me to hook into a twenty season run.

  • Cloks

    I went to a record store earlier this week and they had a box of video games. They weren’t for sale until the owner remembered that he couldn’t pay his gas bill. At the top was a copy of FFIII CIB, which was almost priced to move until he checked what it went for on eBay. He did cut me a deal on a real Gameological classic though; I got got Mega Man 2 for five bucks.

    • NakedSnake

       Wait, you can buy your retro games in a brick-and-mortar store? Wherezat?

      • Cloks

        Living in a college town has its benefits. I have no idea what the record store was called, I saw a sign on the street for it and decided to go in.

        • NakedSnake

           Hmmm… I’m moving to Vancouver, which has kind of a student-y, quirk-y, nerd-y rep. So maybe I will have better luck there.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      One more reason record stores are the greatest.  Too bad I’m 100 blocks from the nearest one.

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    I’m playing New York City Apartment Hunter 2013. I hear the DLC is really expensive.

    • DrFlimFlam

       Also all but mandatory.

    • Effigy_Power

      Well, Plumbing DLC is pretty good, just going in the garbage can for a month can wear you down. At least the large number of live-in pets is free. Removal costs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

    Judging at MTG Spring States on Saturday, probably in recovery mode Sunday with some light hunting of monsters thrown in. I’ve finished all of the village quests (save for the ultimate test that you can’t even pretend to complete until you’ve done some G-Rank work) so now I have to turn my attention to the port and rank up.

    Well… “have to” is a strong term. Want to. Because other than Pandora Tower it’s not like I have anything else worth playing at the moment.

  • stakkalee

    I’ve got to work late tonight, and then all day tomorrow, so my gaming will be severely constrained.  If I get time, probably a few rounds of Bombermine or a few turns of Civ4.

  • indy2003

    Lately, I’ve been playing Impulsively Spend Too Much Money on Video Game Stuff. I finally decided to sign up for PS+, because it looked like a pretty terrific deal. Naturally, I quickly downloaded a bunch of games, because hey, they’re free! Plenty of stuff to keep me busy for a very long time. Even so, I kept noticing that I also had access to several interesting-looking Vita games, but alas, I had no way to play them.

    So, um, I bought a Vita. It’s the first handheld console I’ve owned since childhood, and thus far I’m really impressed. Here’s hoping that it proves to be a worthwhile purchase.

    As such, I’ll probably go back and forth between the Vita and the PS3 this weekend. I’ve been playing Knytt Underground on the Vita, which is all sorts of fun even if the frequent backtracking can get a little frustrating. But switching back and forth between the two forms is a kick and there are so many delightful, off-the-wall discoveries along the way.

    Still working on Sly Cooper 2 on the PS3, which is… good, but I haven’t enjoyed it quite as much as Sly 1. Yes, it does a lot of things better – it’s nice to have a health bar and not have to worry about one-hit kills – but it feels as if I’ve spent too much of the game simply attempting to figure out how to access a certain area so I can start a mission, and too many of those missions (especially Sly’s) are a little on the unimaginative side. It’s still a solid stealth platformer, but it doesn’t offer the pure joy (in either level design or mission variety) that the first one did. 

    • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

       Welcome to the fold!  Of the PS+ Vita offerings, I’ve gone the furthest in Gravity Rush, but they got a good spread.  Disgaea 3 for your obsessive tactical RPGing, Wipeout for racing, and two flavors of action game: weird (Gravity Rush) and mainstream (Uncharted).  Plus there’s some zombie tower defensey thing they just put up but I haven’t tried it yet.

      • indy2003

        Thanks! Looking forward to digging into this stuff and getting to know the system better. Reading about Gravity Rush and seeing that it was one of the PS+ offerings was definitely a significant factor. Also rather curious to see how a blockbuster-style action series like Uncharted makes the transition to a handheld device. I suspect it will be a while before I actually need to buy any games, but considering that I never owned a PSP, it’s nice to know there’s a vast library of older titles to dig through in addition to the interesting-but-small current lineup of Vita games.

  • NakedSnake

    I will be playing Rolan’s Curse II, an amazing and overlooked Game Boy action RPG. Great music, great character advancement system, great gameplay. Increasingly, I have come to think that the Game Boy has more to teach us than the NES in terms of creating good casual retro games.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      It’s the portability that contributes to the casual-ness though I still think that NES masterpieces like Balloon Fight are masterworks of casual gaming.  

      I’m curious are you playing on a vintage gameboy or a gameboy advance or what?

      • NakedSnake

        I’m cheating and playing on a hacked PSP. Although in my defense, most of the games I’m playing are ones I owned on my Game Boy 20 years ago. Funny you should mention Balloon Fight. I just played through the Game Boy “sequel”: Balloon Kid. It uses the same balloon flight mechanic but in an interesting new way. More of a hybrid between a SCHMUP and a platformer. Worth checking out.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    Like many other folks here, I’m supposed to be barreling through Fallout: New Vegas but my enthusiasm has waned after only a few play sessions.  Add on top of that my wife is graduating and we’re looking for a house to rent, as well I have had three comedy shows a week (humble brag: I’m on a show with DL Hughley week after next!) and I just haven’t had time for video games.

    I’m also way behind on my back issues of the New Yorker, I only just now finished the article about the Curiosity rover from a few weeks ago.

    But other than New Veggies, if I get a break I’ll chip away at Far Cry Blood Dragon and then my go-to stress-reducer and all time favorite platformer Spelunky.  Have you ever guys ever played it?  It’s kind of the greatest thing ever.

    • NakedSnake

       Spelunky is your stress-reliever? That game makes me sweat.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        I think it’s because I’ve been playing it virtually every week since last fall but I’ve just got to the point where it’s like auto-pilot controlling that little Spelunker.  I still haven’t beaten it but it’s fun to get a jet back and make it to the ice caves before accidentally getting frozen by a mammoth.  If you don’t go in expecting to win it’s kind of relaxing, and then a huge boost when you do make it to the final boss… and then die.

        • duwease

          I beat it, once.  I tried to do a full run-through with no shortcuts after that, but the best runs I had were all thwarted by that boss.  It appears there’s some simple(ish) strategy for him online, but without being able to practice it without running through 20 minutes of hell beforehand, I never really got it working.

        • NakedSnake

          I really wish that they would release it on a handheld. I played it for a while on my Xbox and had a lot of fun. It’s has great long term appeal, albeit in a sweaty palms, “just one more game” kind of way. But ultimately I stopped playing it because if I am going to sit down with the console, I guess I have some expectation of making progress in a game. Handhelds are much better suited to games in which the goal is to have good “run”, rather than beat the game.

  • http://gameological.com/author/mattkodner/ Matt Kodner

    Very excited to have just downloaded Heroes Of Might & Magic 2. 

    My roommate stumbled into my room a day or two ago saying he  recognized the game. So hopefully we can eke out some time to play a hotseat game or two (which was the closest my consoleless tuchus ever got to playing multiplayer).

  • boardgameguy

    it was lawrence taylor. the defenses lined up as special teams players. oh goodness he was fast.

    this weekend i’ll be playing some 5p strategic game. probably 7 Wonders or Cartagena

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    Not sure what I’ll play this weekend. I think I need a break from RPGs before I dive back into “Ni No Kuni”. I’ll break out one (or more) of my “comfort” games that I haven’t touched in a while:

    - Link to the Past
    - Neverhood
    - Grim Fandango
    - Star Control 2

  • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

    I did beat Virtue’s Last Reward, but I can’t speak out loud about it in good conscience because that game is literally 95% spoilers.  We need a safe space to discuss things!

    I’m focusing on Persona 4 Golden again now, and am currently in the middle of rescuing Rise.  I love the new stuff they’ve added, from gardening to bug-catching to trying and failing to pick up babes in the city with my rad scooter.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like Marie, but I’m a few steps into her S.Link and she’s growing on me.  I love the overwrought poetry she keeps leaving lying around in the Velvet Room, and her reaction to my finding them.  Totes endearing.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I’m playing “preparing for a job interview” this weekend. And the interview is on Tuesday, so I’m going to have to miss the Next Xbox reveal.

  • dmikester

    Almost done with Sleeping Dogs; I should definitely finish it this weekend. I’ve been completely hooked by it, and I mostly love it, but there are some issues that have been irking me, such as the story feeling oddly rushed and disconnected, almost as if there were cutscenes that were cut out.  There are definitely gameplay and balance issues too (like how absurdly difficult it is to get Triad points compared to everything else).  But the characters are great (I especially love Not Ping), the city is among the best I’ve ever seen in an open-world game, and most important, the game is just incredibly fun to play.  So mostly thumbs way up!

  • doyourealize

    While it’s not on my to-play list for this weekend, I did complete Tomb Raider a couple days ago and can say I’m not in total agreement with John Teti’s review; however, not because of anything specific he said, really, just the weight he puts on certain aspects over others. I’m going to expand here because I feel like the game needs a late defense, and because I don’t know where else to put it.

    The review immediately mentions the game lost him “when the hero, Lara Croft, talked about shelves.” The point being that when a puzzle finally “vexed” him, Lara was there to give a (not entirely welcome) helping hand. I mostly agree with his point that this feature of many new games is unwelcome at best and annoying and distracting at worst. However, the weight he places on this aspect of the game in question, in my opinion, is too large. In most instances, this feature was used to get you started, not solve the problem for you. Often this meant her repeating the same phrase over and over again while you were searching the room for other secrets. The game design is especially suspect since it seems to my – admittedly ignorant on these matters – brain that it would be too easy to include an option to turn these hints off. Point for Teti.

    He also rightly points how interactive cutscenes have become abundant and that Tomb Raider‘s “work-up-a-froth moments exist to give the player something to do while pre-rendered events play out on screen.” Another point for Teti, although this point can easily be extended to modern game design as a whole, which it was in the comments.

    These things, while they comment more on the games industry as a whole (which is a fine conversation to have), don’t have as much of an impact on the game in question. Combat is crisp and fast, if not anything new. Controls the same. Some of the interactive cut scenes actually increase the tension. The one he mentions, when a cultist grabs Lara’s leg while she’s crawling through a rock opening, was a bit silly, but running and leaping from crumbling buildings was pretty impressive. All this put together leads to a game that’s good fun, if you like this sort of thing.

    The crown jewel here, though, is Lara Croft. Story isn’t always enough to elevate a good game to great, but not all stories are Tomb Raider stories, and not all heroes are Lara Croft. In his review, Teti brushes over Lara’s “convincing arc” where in my opinion, she’s the best hero a video game’s ever come up with. She may be impossibly chiseled (what hero isn’t?), but her transformation from explorer to survivor to kickass hero and leader evolved in a way as convincing as any movie character. More than most heroes, she’s human. And she’s fucking awesome.

    The rest of the game might be just a well-executed but derivative game (and Teti gives the game props for being pretty and well-executed), but Lara’s inner journey gives the game a heart the titles it derives from can only strive for. Maybe I don’t get to play as many games a guy who plays games for a living, so I’m not as put off by some of the aspects Teti mentions, and while I don’t disagree with the review’s words, I question its focus.

    • TheTrack

      As someone who enjoys derivative-but-tight gameplay (hey there, Uncharted!), I get the feeling like Tomb Raider is exactly the thing I would enjoy.  I really do hope that they give it a decent discount during the summer Steam sale.

      • doyourealize

        It was just $25 a weekend or two ago. That’s when I picked it up. Worth the $50, though, although it’s easy for me to say that since I didn’t pay it. Without even touching multiplayer, I spent over 20 hours playing it.

        • TheTrack

          My main issue is that I’m forcing myself not to buy anything until I finish my Steam backlog.  I’m almost finished (just have to get through KotoR and Assassins Creed Brotherhood), but by the time I’m done it’ll probably be close to summer sale time, at which point my stinginess will probably prevent me from buying anything full price.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Surprisingly, one of the things I really loved about Tomb Raider was the combat. The enemy AI was pretty smart and had no hesitation trying to flank you. They would also try to root you out of cover by lobbing explosives at you. Every weapon had a use: the bow and arrow was great for picking off enemies at a distance, and the pistol was great for quick shots at close range. All of this made the combat frantic, but also tactical and challenging. Plus, that contextual cover system could have been a disaster, but they nailed it.

  • doyourealize

    Also, I picked up Dishonored recently, so maybe I’ll play that.

  • Crusty Old Dean

    I bought Super Metroid for the Wii U yesterday. God I love that game (it’s not nostalgia either, I played it for the first time like 5 years ago).

    Because of my fondness for the metroidvaina genre I downloaded Guacamelee! the other day, but I’m not sure I’ll keep going. It’s very charming, but a bit …difficult? I like my games fairly breezy, at least for the first few hours – Guacamelee! has a bit too much of complicated button combinations and not enough scanning walls for secret passages.

    (Also, the constant references to video games and internet culture get a bit grating. “Oh, it’s grumpy cat with a sombrero! Lolollooll.”)

  • NakedSnake

    The Strategy is Rage YEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

  • ComradePig

    This weekend I’ve got a slew of games on the title. Namely, I’ll certainly be replaying and returning to the excellent Metro:Last Light, which I finished up last night. My full thoughts on the game are back in the review article, but needless to say I enjoyed it immensely.

    Outside of that, I’ll be wrapping up The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, replaying the intensely enjoyable Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and returning to the ever reliable Skyrim.

    On the multiplayer front, I’ll probably do some Torchlight II and World of Tanks with some friends of mine. WoT is the first free-to-play game I’ve ever spent money on, such shame, such shame. Nevertheless, it’s quite a well crafted and addicting title. In addition, I see that the beta for the heavily anticipated Pacific add-on to Red Orchestra, Rising Storm, is now open with pre-purchase, so that very well may be on the agenda.

  • Electric Dragon

    Having completely failed to do any gaming last weekend, this weekend I may make a start on Bioshock Infinite. That’s assuming I finish The Cop Jazz Age, as advertised on these here pages the other day.

    Somewhat hampering this is the fact that I have to work on Sunday to upgrade a client’s application. On the down side, not much gaming. On the up side, I could break their entire system!

  • djsubversive

    I’ll probably be playing more New Vegas, like many other people. I also have a Fallout 3 game going, with the Fallout Wanderers Edition mod (the basis for a lot of the Hardcore aspects of New Vegas). It makes F3 quite a bit more difficult – the Springvale Elementary School is a dangerous place until you’re level 5 or 6, at least.

    I’ll also probably continue my Fringe-binge, because Fringe is pretty great. Seeing Mark Valley in the first season reminded me of Human Target, which was a fun little show (mostly because of Jackie Earle Haley).

  • His_Space_Holiness

    This Week In Skyrim: I’m rolling with the Dark Brotherhood now, and having a pretty good time. It helps that they’re more or less the Addams Family. They have a guy whose name starts with Fest-, for God’s sake! And it took me so long to sign up with them that my sneak skill is already maxed out, so every kill is humorously easy. Just creep up, *knife*, creep out. Bwahaha!

    I’m also running into my eternal bete noir in these kinds of games: inventory management. I get why you can’t just load up every object you find, the damn game would practically short out, but it’s still highly annoying. It’s mostly my own fault for being a pack rat. Hey, I *might* need this Pickpocketing potion at some point! Also, it’s gotten to the point that I need to got to multiple towns to sell all the shit I pick up, because no one has enough gold to buy it all.

    And I finally bit the bullet and conquered Whiterun, just so I could close off a bunch of quests that originated there. Here endeth my flirtation with the civil war storyline. Those dicks deserve each other.

    • Eco1970

      I’m lvl 28, 68 hrs, 25% done. I avoided commitying to the Stormcloaks or the Empire since they’re both kind of dicks, but then I net General Saul Tighe, so I immediately signed up!

      I also reached a point where my journal’s full of quests, so I’ve tried to avoid getting any new ones till I’ve cleared put the ones I still have. Doing the Bard’s and DB ones at the moment.

      I found the Space Core yesterday. That was cool.

  • inamine

    I might play Learning LoL or Dota 2 Because Apparently That Is What All The Cool Kids Do These Days.

    That or I’ll start playing with my new DCUO villain, Wight Gilt.

  • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

    I just started playing Portal 2 last night, so it’s probably going to be between that and the constant explosive fun of Just Cause 2. I do need to try to finish Braid though; I was just on the world where time moves depending on what direction you’re walking, which makes for some fucking hard puzzles. And maybe I’ll mess around in Spore some more; creating those wacky creatures is pretty fun.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    Playing more Neverwinter when I have time.  Actually enjoying it, and the few Foundry missions I’ve played, made by others, are entertaining.

    I joined the guild made by Rock Paper Shotgun so I have others to talk to…anyone who’s not averse to joining a guild from a non-Gameological site, I recommend it, as they have 300 members and people online at all hours.

    Any of you peeps playing it, send me a friend request “@grillburg”.

  • evanwaters

    Thanks to GOG sales I now have more games than I know where to start on, but so far Ultima Underworld is taking up the lion’s share of my attention. I’ve also started to get into the insane simulator Total Extreme Wrestling 2005, which puts you in charge of booking and scripting shows for an entire promotion. Maybe I shouldn’t have started with the giant WWE analogue with hundreds of workers, but we’ll see.

    Early last weekend I played a fun card game called Love Letters from AEG. You’re trying to gain the attention of a princess by sending letters through intermediaries- each card represents a courtier and has a rank, with the princess being highest. You can only hold one card at a time, and have to play or discard another each turn, and various cards can help you eliminate other players (so it’s possible to just be the last one standing.) It’s got a good combination of strategy and luck, and it’s abstract enough to be simple but not so much that it loses the sense of what it’s about.

  • Flying_Turtle

    At the risk of sucking up to @duwease:disqus , I’ll be continuing to work through The Cop Jazz Hour. I limit myself to one puzzle a day, but sometimes I don’t get around to it, so I’m still pretty early on in the game. Other than that, it’s pretty much Laundry Quest this evening followed by two rounds of Second Job 2K13 over the weekend.

    I followed the link to the ESPN sports game countdown, and I suppose I’m just falling into their trap (rankings and lists = arguments and pageviews), but I do have a few objections that I do not expect you to care about:

    1. No mention of Championship Manager/Football Manager? It’s not all that popular in the US, I suppose, but it’s a pretty engrossing soccer management sim.

    2. For me, THPS 3 > THPS 2. Controls are more responsive and the soundtrack has a rap song about personal hygiene!

    3. No mention of Madden ’99? It’s the first game I can think of with a franchise mode. That seems like kind of a big deal.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      I don’t comprehend how people could choose 2 over 3, and yet it happens.  I think 4′s spine transfer wasn’t strictly necessary, just fun for skaters, but the lack of revert in 2 means it’s completely unbalanced and somewhat boring.  I even prefer 1 to 2, since it’s simple but “balanced.”

  • Eco1970

    I’m going to have to just fill the shameless gap in gameological’s game remit all by myself, aren’t I?

    Boardgames. That’s what I was trying to play this weekend. I discovered there’s a boardgame bar here in Warsaw, so I invited a few friends to come with me. I took a new light game I got recently in preparation for the summer picnic season, Timeline. My plan was to play Pandemic after that, as I’ve heard good things, bit my friends went to another bar on their way and had 3 pints first, so bybyhe time Pandemic was an option they were too drunk to play anything. Which pissed me off no end. Eventually we caught up with some other friends, and a group of us had another drunken game of Timeline, which was quite good fun.

    It’s just a deck of 109 cards, with a picture of and the name of an invention (morse, garbage bags, the screw, the hot-air balloon, the laptop etc) on obe side, and thebother side is the same but with the addition of the year the thing was invented. You start of with all your cards year-side down, with a starting card year side up in the middle, (eg The Zeppelin, 1900), and then you pick a card and put it to the left (earlier) or the right (later) than the starting cArd. Then you flip it to show the year. If you’re right, great, if you’re wrong it’s removed and you draw another card. Players take tirns adding their cards to the timeline in this manner, slotying them in wherevthey think they should go. Winner is player who gets rid of all his cards first.

    It’s v easy and there are opportunities for mildly amusing banter (“hm, when was Uranus discovered?”), and it doesn’t take too long, but replay factor is limited if you’re good at rembering dates. There are expansions with discoveries, arts, events, music etc too.

    It’s my birthday in a month ish. I aim to leverage my friends’ goodwill into a 6-hr Twilight Imperium game.