What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Ethan Rutherford

Ethan Rutherford, author

Some guys have poker night. The writer of The Peripatetic Coffin has ”Nofriendo Friday.“

By Drew Toal • May 3, 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.

Ethan Rutherford is the author of the forthcoming debut short story collection from Ecco books called The Peripatetic Coffin. The book (which is terrific) concerns, among other things, Civil War-era submersibles, illegal whaling in the desert, extremely poor parenting, and legendary NFL washout Brian Bosworth. Rutherford talked to The Gameological Society about the many pleasures of old-school Contra and the downside of modern, “unbelievably beautiful” games.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Ethan Rutherford: It will definitely be Contra. The original Contra.

Gameological: Definitely, eh?

Rutherford: A friend of mine, his parents were moving, and they moved all his stuff out. They were like, “Do you want this Nintendo?” Do I want this old Nintendo? Fuck yeah. And so they sent up the Nintendo with some old cartridges, and we hooked it up and just immediately remembered what it was like to play those old games. And Contra was just the one that he had that I used to play all the time when I was kid. It’s just sort of that 8-bit scroll screen, where you go and the levels are all the same, and the guys all come out in the exact same place. If you’re good in that game, you can move through it with a certainty that is sort of lacking in other games.

Like, in terms of role-playing games, there’s so much uncertainty in there, and that’s also what you do when you’re a writer, all the time. You’re just role playing. It’s just a big relief to find yourself in a world [in Contra] where you know the rules, you know the spots, you know where the guns are coming from. And it’s a great game to play with another person, using teamwork—good camaraderie. If you do the Konami code, you have a chance. You’re not going to get in a fight about someone stealing your lives after you’re dead.

Gameological: I forgot it siphons the lives.

Rutherford: Yeah, if you die and the other person has medals—the extra lives—you just have to hit “A” and that person can take your lives. So the person who is very careful, a sharpshooter and all of that stuff, it’s just like, “C’mon, you’re being reckless. And I’m getting punished for it?”

Gameological: What do you tell your wife when you’re going out to play Nintendo?

Rutherford: Well, his wife started calling it “Nofriendo Friday,” but the thing is, it’s not true. I’m there with a really good friend. We get pizza and bourbon and feel great about saving the world. You feel the sense of accomplishment. My wife is generally pretty supportive of it, because it just makes me so happy to go back into this nostalgia and a universe I can control things. When it started, we both had kids on the way. And so that night, it was just sort of, we’re not going to do anything we don’t want to do, we’re just going back to a world we know how to navigate. The wives, while they don’t understand it, or even see any value in it, they understand how happy it makes us to go back and play video games from when we were kids.

Gameological: I love that a regular game of Contra is your rock.

Rutherford: Oh yeah. Do you remember playing that game?

Gameological: Of course.

Rutherford: It’s one of the games that teaches you teamwork, because you can’t go forward without the other person sort of being on the same page. You can talk about it and develop very rudimentary schemes about how to do things. Like, you get [the] Spread [gun add-on], and I’ll Laser the things that are harder to hit. Contra is a rock. Super C is a little more foreign, but Contra is great. Like, you know, you plug in those old cartridges, and even that music takes you back to really happier, carefree times, when you’re in the basement and just have nothing else to do.

Gameological: No internet. No nothing.

Rutherford: No internet, no nothing. And you have a two-liter bottle of Coke and some chips, and you’re going to make yourself sick playing video games.

Gameological: I never really understood the physics of the Fireball gun.

Rutherford: Oh yeah! No, you avoid that. I’d rather have the pea shooter than the Fireball. It’s terrible.

Gameological: Do you think there’s something lost in the way multiplayer games are played now? You might never see the face of the person you’re playing with.

Rutherford: Well, for me, the pleasure is playing a video game, but also being in the room with your good friend, doing something together. You feel like you get to know someone a little better. And playing a game you already know, you end up having conversations about whatever. So we’re talking about parental anxiety while we’re furiously shooting at aliens. It frees you up to have those conversations. In some ways, the game is just an excuse. I think it would be lost if it was a game where you’re on the headset and trying to kill other people, rather than being on the same team. Personally, I don’t take any pleasure in these new games, because they’re so well-designed, and you have to make all these choices. There’s no clear direction, like beginning, middle, and end. It’s a lot more complicated these days.

Gameological: I’m sure your kid will understand them much better.

Rutherford: I know! I’m gonna have that horrible dad moment, “Oh, this is Contra.” Oh, Jesus.

Gameological: “Quit embarrassing me, Pop!”

Rutherford: The most I want to have is a “A” button and a “B” button and a direction button. And that’s kind of it. The more complicated stuff just doesn’t—it’s more stressful than relaxing. You remember the Power Glove and all that stuff? The Power Pad. All these contrivances of childhood, but they’re all incredibly meaningful to me now.

Gameological: Nintendo had a robot friend to play games with you.

Rutherford: Oh yeah. What was that game for it? There was one specific game.

Gameological: I’m not sure. I never had it.

Rutherford: Me neither. Your rich friends had that.

Gameological: Yep. And the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier.

Rutherford: And like all the Voltrons. And you’re just like, “Shit, I’m coming over here all the time.”

Gameological: Gobot Syndrome.

Rutherford: [Laughs] Off-market. Do you remember M.A.S.K.?

Gameological: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand? Don’t recall.

Rutherford: Yeah. I actually never knew what that stood for.

Gameological: I only know because my college roommate would get drunk and dance to the theme song.

Rutherford: But that’s the image you’ll have of that guy forever. I was thinking about—some of my happiest memories have been around the old Nintendo. Like, Blades Of Steel? And then you go to college and make a drinking game out of Blades Of Steel.

Gameological: These stupid things monopolized my childhood memories.

Rutherford: Oh, same here. The Legend Of Zelda—before Nintendo Power and Nintendo Hotline and all that stuff, I remember getting pieces of paper, ripping out pieces of paper from a dot matrix printer, and drawing the levels. Pushing pause and drawing the levels, and then putting them together and making your own gigantic map. And those old games, they lend themselves to your imagination. I’ve seen some of the newer games, and they’re stunning. They’re unbelievably beautiful. But in some ways, they’re more beautiful than anything you can imagine yourself.

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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249 Responses to “Ethan Rutherford, author”

  1. Jackbert says:

    I’ll try to get in bits of The Missing Link, Hotline Miami, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted around Iron Man 3, Free Comic Book Day, and end-of-the-semester school things.

    The Missing Link is pretty fun so far. I just got to the part where you get a trophy for making it off the boat. However, I’m playing for the trophy for using no Praxis, weapons, or explosive, and I’m not too keen on that playstyle. I wanna hack more stuff!

    I’m on Chapter 10 in Hotline Miami. It’s tough, the first chapter where I’ve really struggled so far. The story is starting to ramp up, so I’m excited to try some more though.

    I finally got all of my music into Need for Speed: Most Wanted, so now I can drive around at 150 mph to punk rock! Right now, I’m building up an Audi R8 Spyder, probably one of my top 5 favorite sports cars, to challenge the #6 Most Wanted dude.

    • Fluka says:

      It’s possible to do a mostly completionist playthrough of The Missing Link without any Praxis upgrades.  However, there’s one very satisfying achievement which is really really difficult to figure out without being tipped off ahead of time (and even then is kind of a pain in the ass to carry out).  As always, explore thoroughly.  Possibly with explosives.

      • Jackbert says:

        Well, explosives nullify the trophy I’m going for. As for satisfying trophies, could you be talking about SPOILERS BEGINNING the part where you find the pod you hid in? Because that was satisfying. COMMENT ENDING SO SPOILERS ENDING

        • fieldafar says:

          @Fluka:disqus could also be referring to the one where you save both the Doctor and the prisoners. Maybe.
          <END SPOILERS

        • Fluka says:

          @fieldafar:disqus Yuuuuup.  It’s “All of the Above”.

          @Jackbert:disqus So grenades and mines count against the achievement.  BUT!  Throwing barrels of explosives (the red ones) does not.  Same with yellow gas canisters and fire hydrants.  So you can use the red barrels to move heavy crates and things.  

        • Effigy_Power says:

          SPOILERS Effigy is great. END SPOILERS

        • djsubversive says:

          @Effigy_Power:disqus that’s not a spoiler. Everyone knows that already. :D

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Can’t hurt to remind people.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      Ugh, Factory Zero.  Never will I forgive Eidos for that defective achievement.  Otherwise, great DLC, just…fuck you for that achievement.

  2. Fluka says:

    More New Vegas, baby!  I have now chilled with a bunch of Elvis impersonators, broken up a ring of fancy masked cannibals, and had dodgy sex with a dodgy sexbot.  

    (And in the game!)

    But yeah, I’m seriously enjoying it now.  The writing is very decent, and it’s got just just the right amount of weirdness.  Plus, how can I not love a game where there are loudly-suited NPCs walking around shouting “Ring a ding ding!”?  Also, robots.  Also, a cyberdog.

    • Merve says:

      I didn’t take New Vegas seriously at all, so when I was asked if I wanted to have sex with the sex robot, I didn’t even hesitate. I was like, “Of course I’m going to do the nasty with a robot. Who wouldn’t?”

      • djsubversive says:

        You gotta make sure it works, right?

        Stuff like FISTO and the Kings are great. I like that the game includes some silly stuff even without Wild Wasteland.

        There’s a scene in front of the Ultra Luxe where a bunch of off-duty NCR women are having a good time and a Securitron is trying in vain to get them to stop. “Ladies, the fountain is not for dancing.”

        • Fluka says:

          Conversation at the Fluka household last night:
          Me: So apparently I have to go find a sexbot.
          Husband: Yuuup.
          Me: Can I sample the merchandise?
          Husband: Yuuup.
          Me: Aw yisss.

        • djsubversive says:

          @Fluka:disqus I love how James Garrett tries to pass it off as being “for a customer.”

        • Fluka says:

          @djsubversive:disqus “My god!  Imagine the possibilities!”

        • djsubversive says:

          “Wouldn’t it be funny if I just stuck my dick in this sexbot? Like I was pretending to be one of those disgusting robot fetishists? Those guys creep me out, but this actually feels kind of nice.” (okay, I know he doesn’t actually say that, but that’s totally what’s going on)

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

        Who wouldn’t? WHO WOULDN’T?

        I’m just wasting my time on you people.

    • djsubversive says:

      “You’d get better stories out of a Freeside junkie. No, really. Have you ever snorted a ground-up cazador venom sac? I haven’t. But a Freeside junkie has.”

      I’m gonna be playing more New Vegas, too. I only went onto the Strip a little bit – once to meet Mr. House because I needed a place to stash my stuff, and once to clean up at Gomorrah while I investigated a missing NCR soldier.

      This playthrough, I decided to use Cirosan’s Classic Overhaul with the jsawyer mod. Basically, it makes hardcore mode more hardcore. CCO tries to weaken companions a bit, by having them only deal half damage (but only take half damage too) and limiting their carry weight, but then lets you have as many companions as your Charisma/2. Doctor Zap has 6 Charisma, so right now, Arcade, Cass, and Veronica are pulling bodyguard duty. Poor Veronica hardly ever gets to do anything except carry a bunch of loot. She’s got a Ballistic Fist and a can-do spirit, but nothing ever gets close enough for her to punch.

      Jack and Diane (of the Khans) want me to find a dealer of theirs named Anders. The NCR wants me to find a ranger named Anders. They’re not the same guy. I found that amusing.

      After Dead Money, I wanted to take a break from the DLC. Plus, I already have the best energy weapon (a shotgun that shoots light!). Honest Hearts really doesn’t have much in the way of goodies for a Science/Energy Weapons/Medicine character (well, the Ranger Armor and Joshua Graham’s Armor are pretty awesome for anybody) – it’s a goldmine for a Guns/Survival character, though. I’ll probably help Veronica make a decision about the Brotherhood (there’s no happy ending for that quest), then head to BIG MOUNTAIN this weekend. Old World Blues is a lot of fun, and I can bring whatever I want with me. 

      I’ve been wearing the Assassin Suit from Dead Money and using the Holorifle pretty much exclusively since I got back from the Sierra Madre. At this point, all other weapons go into one of two categories: “unique” and “expensive.” the unique ones go into a footlocker in Novac, and the expensive ones get traded for ammo and unique GRA weapons. I spent about 30,000 caps for Paciencia, a 3-round hunting rifle with a Mexican flag wrapped around the handle, because I can’t think of a better weapon for my Vaquero ghoul buddy, Raul.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         The only problem is BSG pretty much made me permanently annoyed at the name “Anders,” so I’ve never been able to run into either of those two without just wanting to beat them with a lead pipe.

        so I do.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Dragon Age 2 ruined Anders for me.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Neither of the FNV Anders are worth a damn, anyhow.

        • djsubversive says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus that’s true. But at least the Khans guy lets you take the next step towards becoming drug kingpin of the Mojave (get the Khans and the Fiends hooked on your shit and you’ve got it made, son).

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         Unless it’s been fixed in the PC version, the fully-modded holorifle is the most broken energy weapon in the game.  It has a very efficient power-cell-to-damage ratio and it takes very little damage.

        • djsubversive says:

          um, yeah, I’m aware. Thus, my “best energy weapon ever” comment. I haven’t had to repair it yet, and I’m using Overcharged Microfusion Cells.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      I’m also still riding the New Vegas train. (SPOILERS FOLLOW)  Latest character is the daughter of Vulpes Inculta, being trained by him and Legion spy Doc Mitchell to gain Caesar’s trust and then kill him on the operating table.  Then, after raising an upgraded securitron army and single-handedly ridding the entire map of all other threats to the Legion (NCR, mutant or otherwise), she will face Legate Lanius on the field of battle for dominance of the Legion.  Thus will the frumentarii cleanse the Legion of its backward non-sensical sexism and bloodlust, and a new smarter dynasty will transform that gang of travelling thieves into a real empire truly worthy of the legacy of Rome!

    • SamPlays says:

      This entire New Vegas thread is really putting it in my brain that I ought to commit myself to playing this in the near future. I’m just cringing at spending another 40-50 hours on the same game because I’m predisposed to explore everywhere in these kinds of games. The Middle East and Europe are falling apart but I’ve got my own dilemmas.

      • djsubversive says:

        What you should do is go on the steam group, find the Game Revue Club (it’s got its own sub-forum) and vote for New Vegas as the next game. That way we’ll have a reason (and a place) to keep babbling about NV, and it won’t be taking up huge columns on the page, and the conversation won’t die out by the end of the day. :)

    • Cloks says:

      I’ve apparently played FO:NV for 132.4 hours according to Steam and I think dodgy FISTO sex is one of the best parts. Have you gotten a sniper rifle yet? I love when you’re powerful enough in the game to pick off Deathclaws from halfway across the map.

      • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

        I can’t feel my legs!

        • djsubversive says:

          haha. I heard that in Boone’s voice, because of his “It’s gonna be hard to cover you when I can’t move my legs” line when he’s at his weight limit.

      • djsubversive says:

        “dodgy FISTO sex” is a really odd way to spell No-Bark Noonan.

        And you’re not “powerful enough” when Deathclaws are involved until you can punch them in their stupid deadly faces and survive. I tried going past Quarry Junction the other day (didn’t even want to deal with the pack hanging out in there), and got bum-rushed by the other pack to the north. I was creeping along, and then the combat music starts and I hear Boone and Raul firing. I turn around, and 3 of them are RIGHT THERE, one just starting his leap attack.

        I died quickly.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I’m playing Candy Box! right now.  Like immediately right now.  As I type this I’m accruing candy so I can upgrade to an iron sword.   I have no idea what the fuck is going on.  But it’s pretty delightful.  
       My farm grows four lollipops a day. 

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      I don’t know what’s going on either. I show up and I’m getting all these candies from nowhere and I don’t know what to do!

      I ain’t going to be part of their system; I threw them on the ground!

    • John Teti says:

      I have eaten 229,600 candies. What is this game I don’t even

      • Effigy_Power says:

        You’ve passed the “Diabeetus” Achievement ages ago, John. You overachievers just aren’t happy until you have both feet amputated.

        • John Teti says:

          I’ve now eaten more than 12 trillion candies. Forget amputation—my consciousness exists on a separate plane at this point.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

             I think you should reprint this entire thread as a Sawbuck Gamer.

          Edit: Assuming, of course, you are still a corporal presence on this plane and not a being of pure ASCII flitting through the binariverse.

        • George_Liquor says:

          @JohnTeti:disqus You are EVERYWHERE and NOWHERE! You are a CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE, no less than the TREES and the STARS, and you GO PLACIDLY amongst the NOISE and HASTE, and remember what PEACE there is in CANDY. So perhaps you are the one entity in the universe who can truly answer this question: Just what does God need with a starship, anyway?

          I don’t know what the hell it is I’m saying, I’m really, really drunk.

    • Enkidum says:

      This is weird as hell. I’ve got a diamond sword but I can’t kill that fucking whale. And I’m currently making 11 lollipops/sec.

    • doyourealize says:

      Thanks, jerk. I was all ready to be productive this morning and  now I’m stuck watching numbers go up on a screen.

    • duwease says:

      Sometimes you just need the reality check that is clicking an unadorned Skinner box for an hour to put philosophical waxing about gaming in its place..

      • Fluka says:

        I think they’ve actually cracked the algorithm.  One part Skinner Box + one part exponential numbers + one part fantasy quest = THIS IS THE TUBA GAME FROM STAR TREK TNG.

    • Girard says:

      I’m not clicking on that link, and just going to assume this is a hilarious jape and you all are making this stuff up. For purposes of preserving my sanity and faith in the world.

      • doyourealize says:

        I suggest this course of action…but you’re wrong.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        You will play it Gerard.  I know you.  Well, I know your Cossack-headed dimension.  And you will play it.

    • stakkalee says:

      …Damn you.  How the hell is this so addictive?

    • I have no idea where this thing is going to go, but I want desperately want to find out.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      What an odd little diversion!  If one could equate the addictiveness of World of Warcraft to heroin, this game is the pure shit, the black tar heroin. 

      Note to the developer:  Yes, you can use that last sentence as a pull-quote on your site.

    • neodocT says:

       You monster! Now I’ll never work again!

    • boardgameguy says:

      this is perfect. i can click for a little bit in between tasks but i have to let it run to stock up candies and lollipops so i can get work done. this makes up for May snow.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Damn, you guys have gotten me curious. If I wasn’t at work, I’m sure I would be clicking that link right now and falling down a weird rabbit hole along with the rest of you.

    • Fluka says:

      The lollipop flavors are getting more…esoteric.  I just got “leprechaun” flavor.

    • Cloks says:

      Agh this is crazy and surely an antigame but it’s so addictive and I can’t stop eating candy!

    • Ned Leavitt says:

       You are a bad person. Also, you need, like, the silver sword just to fight goblins.

    • harry_horse says:

      I hate you Spacemonkey.

      Also I cant kill the dragon.

    • OK, I’ve finished the game. *SPOILERS AHEAD*

      – So, I really like that the game becomes legitimately strategic at the end. Once you’ve unlocked the cauldron, you need to make clever use of all the potions and scrolls to proceed.  
      – Thankfully, the game does have parachute for OCD types. There is a point where waiting and repetition cease to have a material effect on your candy production.   

  4. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    Welp, I finished half my chores last weekend and blew off the rest when I decided to buy and complete Kairo. Thanks for the recommendation, Merve!

    This might get his goat, but Kairo reminded me thoroughly of Antichamber from beginning to end, and I consider that a good thing! I particularly liked the atmosphere it created, and the majority of the puzzle solving made sense in its own way.

    (I will admit, I used a guide to find some of the ancillary secrets, but considering that one required precise tone recognition and another required information outside of your own game, I feel justified.)

    Friday evening, I expect to play some Powergrid as part of a group of four or five. We’ve played it a number of times before, but the friend of mine that owns the game has a new board for the game so we’ll be trying that out.

    Given the chores I put off last weekend and a visit with family, I expect I won’t have time for many games on Saturday or Sunday. On the plus side, I can put in a movie while I’m folding my laundry, so it ain’t all bad.

    • Merve says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Kairo. I liked the game too, but its little frustrations added up in the end, holding it back from greatness. Whatever my complaints, though, it was fantastic at creating a sense of mystery simply through environmental cues, without even using a word of text. That’s a remarkable achievement.

      I’ve been meaning to try Powergrid. A friend of mine has it, so I’ve been meaning to organize a board game night to play it. Let me know how your Powergrid adventures go!

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I highly recommend Powergrid. It’s a relatively simple game of economics once you know the rules, but it really forces you to adapt to how the “markets” are if you want to pull ahead. It can also hard to judge if you are ahead of everyone else, so there’s been some upsets before.

        Playing with three people can be fun, but my friends prefer games with four or more because they tend to shake things up so it’s less likely that the same people win each time. Give it a shot!

        • CNightwing says:

          Power Grid has a terrible end game if someone is winning by enough though. A player with no hope can often have the choice between screwing the player who’s winning, leaving whoever is in second to win, and it’s so blatant it just paralyzes the game.

        • Power Grid combines the strategy of a board game with all the fun of taking a math test.

          Find a copy of Power Grid: The First Sparks if you can. Same basic mechanics, far less tedium.

        • boardgameguy says:

          I agree with @CNightwing:disqus that the end of Power Grid can sometimes grind to down to a stop, but I still love that game and consider it one of my top ten of all time board games. If you want a quicker game, try using the Benelux map and rule set.

      • duwease says:

        I think you summed up my feelings pretty well.  The environments are a little *too* big, so the walking-to-puzzling ratio is not favorable.  And the art style is so austere that you can’t really soak in the environment on your strolls.  Other than that, the puzzles are nice, although I groaned when I found a couple of “see a pattern, go recreate it over there” puzzles, which are the worst.

        Still, a game that kinda invokes Myst is always good.. I think it just suffered a bit because I played it back-to-back with Antichamber.

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          Yeah, I forgot to mention that I spent a fair amount of time wishing there was a fast-travel option equivalent to Antichamber‘s return to the map room. The few teleport pads in Kairo helped a little bit, but not as much as I’d have liked.

    • Man, I got to get on the Kairo train.  I was also dissapointed in  Antichamber but that’s not really the game’s fault.  I blame it on the indie-game press who built it up to be like some sort of revelation where it would peel back the curtain and change your fundamental understanding of “gameplay”.

      Not the case.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I am a sucker for style, so Antichamber did enough on that front to charm me until the end, but aside from that it was a decent mix of block puzzles and lateral thinking. There was at least one puzzle in the game that I really liked and it’s difficult to explain the setup without pictures, but I was fortunate enough to go into the game avoiding all hype but the trailers.

        Mild spoilers:

        The puzzle that comes to mind the one where you’re in a red room with two exits, a “porthole”, and a wall-sized window. Through the window is a blue room adjacent to another red room with a porthole. Leaving by any of the exits takes you to the red room you were already in; what to do? Once I figured out you had to look at the porthole and walk backwards into the blue room, I felt pleased as punch. I can’t think of any other puzzle in the game that let could be solved quite so handily while still demanding lateral thinking, but I also didn’t realize that the portholes were signs to “look at me” until late in the game.

        • That look through the porthole was a definite “Holy Moley!” moment.  I feel like it’d be pretty cool if more games played tricks with the 1st-person perspective.  We’re so used to assuming our head is staying in one place but really that camera can go anywhere.

  5. Calvin Holt says:

    Tomb Raider, Magic: The Gathering, and Halo 4 online with my friends and brother. I’m (we’re) not the kind of guys who will call each other up and chat about life. Do guys do that? No, games–even just being around them–is our way of opening up. 

    “Nice headshot! How’s the Navy?”

  6. GhaleonQ says:

    My friend downloaded Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, arguably the best wrestling game ever, on PSN Classics, and I’ve been sucked in.  It’s dirt cheap, incredibly customizable, and has gameplay polished to a sheen.  Even if you play it for 2 weeks, it’ll be more than worth the price to you.

    I got the hankering for racing games.  I can’t get my arcade emulator to work, which means I’ll head straight for Sumo Digital.  OutRun 2 and its improvements: is this the best racing game ever?  Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed: is this the most fun kart racing game ever?  I intend to finalize my answers.

    By the way, I’m not a “replace-the-soundtrack” person at all, but for those of you who are, Anamanaguchi’s long gestating release got leaked.  You should buy it in 2 weeks, obviously, because commerce is good and because it’s better than all of their previous work combined (and, at 76 minutes, about as long).  You should listen to it now because Bosozoku G.F. is better than whatever song is playing in the game you’re playing unless it’s 7th Dragon 2020-2.  It’s amazing that they went from Scott Pilgrim Versus The World’s soundtrack (disappointingly muddled to me) to a complete rehaul of their style, such that, say, Bosozoku G.F. (brilliant title, by the way) is essentially a 5-genre suite that lasts 5 minutes.  So, yeah, catch the evolution in chiptune music.  Gosh, May is so flush with great stuff to hear.

    • Enkidum says:

      Report back on the Sega All-Stars – I really liked the original, and keep thinking about getting it. And it would be nice to have more games that are easy to jump in and out of rather than massive 60-hour campaigns or what have you.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        I don’t know about most fun ever, but is Transformed one of the best games of 2012 period? Absolutely.

        If you have a good PC, get that version because glorious 60fps (I don’t, but have a friend who does). Word of advice though: Disconnect your mic if you want to play online because it’s always on. A good-natured “Aw man, fuck this Knuckles asshole!” becomes a lot less jovial when Knuckles can actually hear you. I’m sorry Knuckles, I didn’t mean to be rude!

      • GhaleonQ says:

        Oh, this is more of a “final assessment” than anything. If the question is, “Is this game amazing?”, then smack the person who asked it. It’s definitely amazing, and certainly better than the 1st (no Billy Hatcher, though!).

        I’m just not prepared to live in a world where Nintendo didn’t make the best kart racer. Konami and Sony had gotten close, but I’m amazed that Sumo did them 1 better.

  7. Saltonstall says:

    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

    Rex Power Colt: “I made a vow to a lady.”
    Dr. Darling (seriously): “Your wife?”
    Rex Power Colt: “Nope. Lady Liberty.”
    (*Cue image of half-destroyed Statue of Liberty*)

    • Citric says:

      I seriously need to buy this already.

    • fieldafar says:

      Bought Blood Dragon on impulse last night. Damn, what a stupidly awesome game it is so far.

    • Drew Toal says:

      That’s my favorite part, for sure. “Winners don’t use drugs.”

    • neodocT says:

      “Tell my wife I died a hero!”
      “You tell her that yourself!”

      They’re very funny, but the cutscenes are slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow as hell.

  8. PaganPoet says:

    I’m going to hunker down this weekend and soldier through Persona 2: Innocent Sin. I’m in a really self loathing kind of mood, so I think the old school JRPGness of it won’t be much of an issue, at least not now.

    • Enkidum says:

      Sorry to hear about the self-loathing – if the weather’s good take a walk or something, couldn’t hurt.

    • neodocT says:

       Sorry about that, man. And for what it’s worth, I always enjoy reading your comments!

      • PaganPoet says:

        Sorry fellas, that was a poorly worded comment on my part. Worry not, it’s more of a general grumpiness. My Sciatica is having a flare up leaving me unable to clean my apartment or able to do any yoga and having a general feeling of cabin fever. So it’s nothing serious like depression or anything like that. I appreciate your concerns though, and apologize for making it seem like it was more serious than it is.

        • neodocT says:

           Don’t apologize, you just totally leveled up some Social Links through this whole exchange.

          Hope you feel better in a few days!

    • Citric says:

      Where you at in IS? Because when the story goes totally nuts it kind of makes the masochism worth it.

      • PaganPoet says:

        Jun had just joined my party last night before I went to bed. So, not very far. Heh.

      • PaganPoet says:

        Hey Citric, I had to share this with my P2:IS buddy. I just discovered a Fusion spell called “L’oiseau de feu” and suddenly random battles are no longer a problem.

        Oh, and the story has officially gone off the deep end and I’m kind of addicted to it. I actually am a lot further than I thought. I didn’t realize you recruit Jun so late in the game.

        • Citric says:

          What triggers that? I somehow never found it. Hopefully it’ll show up in EP if I ever get it, since I’ve heard that’s much harder than the PSP IS.

          It’s actually pretty interesting how much of an impact Jun makes, even though he’s not there for very long. He’s a much more memorable character than the photographer lady, though she was really good at getting cards so I missed her. Demons just loved getting their picture taken.

        • PaganPoet says:

          It’s Agilao + Rockfall + Maragion;

          Another good spell is know is “Summon Spirits;” when you combine it with an elemental spell, it summons an elemental sprite; for example, Malaques + Summon Spirits calls “Undine”

  9. Citric says:

    I finished Driver San Francisco and it gave me a revelation as to why I don’t like sandbox games: it’s really only one level. Oh sure, you have a million different things to do in that level, but a lot of time is spent covering the same ground, doing similar missions, in an area that looks a lot like every other area. So I’ll get a bit obsessive, and then notice that a lot of what I’m doing isn’t that far off from what I was doing before, get bored and have a giant swath of unfinished side activities I don’t care about. 

    On the other hand, Driver:SF’s story missions are really varied and are constantly introducing new gameplay mechanics, so those bits are still super worthwhile. Also, you get to throw around busses. So, good game!

    I’ll also probably finish Shadow Hearts, since I’m pretty close to the end.

    I started El Shaddai, which looks really cool, but I have a funny feeling I’ll buy Blood Dragon before the end of the weekend.

    • dreadguacamole says:

       Shadow Hearts! I love that game. Though it pales compared to the sequel…

      • DrFlimFlam says:

         What? That’s crazy talk. Shadow Hearts is the best game in the series.

    • Towards the end Driver SF just started throwing weird ass powers at you.  When you were able to just fling cars out of traffic at the bad guy?  WTF?

      Still, that game has my ultimate favorite one on one race, in the mission where you do an entire lap around the interstate system in some super-car while the AI has one super car and you both just 245mph the whole time and one slight mistake means failure.

      I also have started El Shaddai and just simply walked away out of boredom.  Crazy-beautiful game though.

      • Citric says:

        I really liked the weird ass powers, and their explanation, the whole “screw it, it’s my coma dream, I can do what I want!” thing. It kept things interesting.

      • TaumpyTearrs says:

        Same on El Shaddai. I wanted to keep playing to absorb the style, but it just isn’t fun at all.

  10. Merve says:

    I like Mr. Rutherford’s idea of using multiplayer video games as a way to hang out with friends. My own social life in college centred entirely around video games, junk food, and highly inappropriate jokes. Now, I use multiplayer games like Payday and Left 4 Dead to keep in touch with college buddies. I call it Skype with Guns.

    As for what I’m playing this weekend, I won’t have much time to game, but if do find time, I’ll try to play some Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Otherwise, I’ll make slow but steady progress in Scribblenauts Unlimited.

  11. Enkidum says:

    More Borderlands, which at this point (pretty near the end, I think – I’ve just got the Echo system back on line and am going after the lady who leads the Lance people I think) is feeling more like a chore than anything else. I’ve made a point out of completing every possible mission and trying to fix all the robots and all that. It’s very much what it’s designed to be – it breaks down a long narrative into a series of much smaller challenges that keep you going, and it does that really well. And that really motivates someone like me, but like I say it doesn’t necessarily feel all that much like fun at the moment.

    Really want to buy Leviathan Warships for my iPad but it’s not available on the Canadian app store yet. I suppose I could get it for the computer but I’ve been playing far less computer games these days, dunno why.

    • djsubversive says:

      Old Haven, I think it is, is kind of a slog. I stopped playing for a while around there. The Crimson Lancers are annoying bullet sponges, Haven is a bunch of samey-looking streets and courtyards, and the whole thing just feels like padding. It does pick up a bit after that, though, when you’re actually headed to the Vault, so stick with it. Just don’t expect a satisfying conclusion when you’re done.

      • Enkidum says:

        I’ve got through Old Haven a while back, and yeah, it was a bit of a slog. 

        Was just thinking that maybe part of my problem is that I’m trying to play as a sniper, but my character is Lilith, the phase-walking chick, who’s really more of a run-up-close-and-hit-people-a-bunch-and-then hide kind of person. When I do play like that, which I did a bit today, I die a bit more, but combat is more fun. 

  12. I’m going to continue playing Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

    Also, i’ve decided to try Bioshock on OSX. It looks good on OpenGL and i’ve decided to finish the game that i have not finished for 5 years now.

  13. Mr. Glitch says:

    The NES robot’s name is ROB.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      It’s not ROB’s fault.  They never should have programmed him to feel so strongly.

    • Enkidum says:

      Weren’t there only like two games that used him? I remember one of them, my friend had the original system and I used to bug him to set it up, but he never wanted to. Too much trouble to set up, you had to be in exactly the right position for it to work properly, even then it didn’t always work as expected, and there weren’t any good games for it. 

      So, really, it was an early version of the Kinect. 

  14. ProfessorFarnsworth says:

    I will be playing Fallout 3.  So far I have been impressed with the depth and breadth of the game play and the sheer fun of wandering the nuclear wastes of the future.  I also get really, really freaked out at 3 am, when for no particular reason my pip-boy radio stops playing and I begin to have millions of bullets pelt me from a randomly generated super mutant.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      I love FO3 so so much.  My favorite part of any game is exploring the world, and few worlds are as much fun as that one.  The main quest is not anything amazing, but improved by a whole new act if you get Broken Steel.  And Point Lookout is a good add-on to get if you feel like you aren’t dying often enough.  All in all, I’ve played more hours in FO3 than in most of my other games of the generation combined (the only possible exception being New Vegas, whose world is not quite as interesting to me but whose faction story-lines are better).  Enjoy.

      • SamPlays says:

        The main quest is nothing to sneeze at but it’s the side quests that make the game so enjoyable. You enter a nondescript building and it turns out to be a massive level that has nothing to do with the main story but it’s there and you can’t help but explore the place. I really should try New Vegas.

        • djsubversive says:

          I like the Wasteland Survival Guide quest because it’s basically “hey, go out and explore the wasteland.” Return to Sender and Still in the Dark in New Vegas are the same basic idea, but for some reason people just like to complain about how they send you “all over the map.”

          Also neat in Fallout 3: stumbling across Andale without having any idea what’s going on, realizing that something is off, and then unlocking the door to the guy’s basement. Sweet wasteland justice was dispensed that day.

        • SamPlays says:

          Creepiest moment in a game full of them. The part when you leave the house and realize you’re being hunted was incredibly tense. Andale was a highlight for me. It truly was something that you stumbled across because it had nothing to do with the rest of the game and you could easily have skipped it if you were focused on the main quest.

    • djsubversive says:

      what’s even better than that is when your pip-boy radio plays Roy Brown when you’re having millions of bullets hurled at you by a randomly-generated super mutant, but you get a sweet head-shot that drops him at the perfect time. Yes, Mr. Brown, I AM a mighty mighty man (I’m young and I’m in my prime).

  15. IntotheNightSky says:

    If I have the time this weekend between course work and visiting with family, I’ll be playing Fez.  I hadn’t initially planned on buying it before it went on sale, but apparently I had an exceptionally rare crate, which I sold for some cold hard Steam Bucks on the marketplace.

    But anyways, from what I’ve played so far, this should be an outstanding game.  I’ve already encountered some very trippy things, from a multidimensional cube deity to what appears to be the ghost of an adventurer now trapped between worlds to a rather mysterious bell.  And I’m only about 70 minutes in.  I think I’ll have fun.

    • Ughhhhhh, f that Bell.  One day, I grabbed my notepad and said “Hell if Teti and other internet nerds can solve this puzzle, so can I.”  2 hours later, I feel like I had gone through every door, done every possible turn and unturn, and just collapsed.

      Phil Fish won.

  16. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    I’m going to lose major points among anyone with intact eardrums, but in the right kind of mood this Contra-inspired song is a blast.


  17. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    I had a friend with the G.I. Joe carrier.  Man, they just don’t make toys on that scale anymore.  Which is probably just as well — that thing took up his entire room.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Get into those giant LEGO sets. Helm’s Deep!

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I am the proud owner of one of the $400 Super Star Destroyer sets.

        …which I will never open and probably sell for a profit once it retires.  Like I have room for a four-foot long model in a two bedroom apartment?!

  18. dreadguacamole says:

     Wee! long weekend!

     Word Realms just came out for its kickstarter backers. Not sure when it’ll be released for sale, but I’d recommend a purchase when it does; Gameplay is good, RPG elements work great, writing is fun, and the setting is… it feels a bit like Kingdom of Loathing, but with more serious (or at least deadpan) worldbuilding. Not a huge surprise, since it comes from the same team.  Pretty great so far, though the pool of letters you begin with feels a little small (you use them to spell out words, Bookworm adventures-style, and your pool is a bit constricting at the beginning. It does grow with time.) I got a sesquipedalian achievement for it – I’d try to honor it here, but I’m rather hamarthitic, so I better not. Also, I don’t want to look like a philosophunculist – youse guys can be rather rhadamanthine on occasion… The Neverwinter Nights beta is probably going to be the other big one; I’m not really liking it very much so far, but it looks like it might open up in an interesting way, so I remain cautiously optimistic. Classes also make a huge different on this, so I might roll another character. It really does feel like an over-the-shoulder Diablo. I should also log some time into LotRO before my guild boots me out…

    • duwease says:

      The word game sounds great.. loved Kingdom of Loathing.  Kickstarter really enables some great stuff..

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I downloaded the Neverwinter beta the night before last, but couldn’t log in yesterday.  Looking forward to checking it out at least.

  19. Final Fantasy 8 is winding down. All that’s left is grinding and the final dungeon. Overall, it’s been a pleasant journey. Here’s a few general comments. 

    – The story isn’t terrible, but it suffers from some pacing issues. 

    – The card game is fun, as long as you have the patience to abolish the random rule. 

    – I remember that one of my pet peeves from the first time I played the game was that boosting and summoning made battles needlessly long. This time, I hardly ever used the GF command.

    – The pre-rendered backgrounds look pretty nice, but they make exploration a bitch, especially in towns. They should have brought back the red and green arrows. 

    I should be ready to talk about the ending by next week. It’s been fun!

    • neodocT says:

       Is the game playable without using the GFs in battle? I was much younger last time I played it, but I recall the GF attacks being vastly overpowered in comparison to your regular attacks. Was I just junctioning wrong?

      • Summoning GFs is pretty important in the beginning of the game. But by disc two, Squall’s strength should be high enough that he can kill any regular enemy in a single hit (even without upgrading his weapon). Give him a speed junction, and he should clear the field before the others have time to summon a single GF. As for bosses, let Squall attack while the other members draw magic.

        • neodocT says:

           Awesome, that makes me think I can actually replay the game sometime. My biggest stopping point was having to summon and boost GFs all the time…

          Not that I have the time to replay it right now, really, but I can dream!

  20. DrFlimFlam says:

    Far Cry Blood Dragon with some Mass Effect and LEGO Lord of the Rings.

    I was supposed to do a bunch of work tilling the ground for planting and whatnot, but HA! Winter is here again so I get another week off of doing productive things

    Saturday is, of course, Free Comic Book Day AND May the Fourth Be With You, so stops at local comic shops (looking for Mass Effect comics) and taking Flim, Jr. to Toys R Us for a free mini LEGO Star Wars vehicle on Saturday.

    12-2 local for you parents. FREE LEGOS.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Eegah, if you happen to have an official LEGO Store nearby, go there instead.  Toys R Us are a bunch of ripoff artists when it comes to Lego.

      Seriously – “Save $25 when you buy $100 or more of Legos!” means jack shit when they already raise their prices 30% over retail.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Ha, I didn’t know there was such a thing as an official LEGO store. We’ll get the free kit and head on out the door.

  21. doyourealize says:

    I never had a Nintendo growing up, but all my friends did. I remember at one point, my friend, who lived walking distance away (through the woods), went on vacation with his family. My brother, sister, and I were tasked with “house-sitting”, which meant go over there and water the plants and feed the fish or something. One day we went down to the basement and just started playing Contra. I don’t remember how long we were there, but I remember it was long enough for my mom to eventually walk through the woods, to their house, and down the basement stairs. We were all thinking, “Oh shit.” We got in a good amount of trouble for that.

    I’ll be going through Skyrim again this weekend. My first character was a thief/assassin who almost never had to fight. It’s pretty fun, if not totally ridiculous, to backstab a mammoth for a one-hit kill. My new character is sort of paladin, and it’s hard to remember that I can’t just walk into houses and rob them blind anymore.

    I also know that Tomb Raider is on sale this weekend, so I’ll at least pick that up, if not start playing.

    • Zack Handlen says:

      I picked TR up last weekend because of the sale, and I’ve been having a blast with it. I think I was missing a jumping-shooting-treasure-finding game in my life. (Fills the hole that Uncharted 3 left empty.)

  22. stakkalee says:

    Saturday is both Free Comic Book Day AND May The Fourth, so I think my gaming will be light – instead, I’m gonna spend a ton of money on comic books and then watch the Star Wars trilogy (the original, thank you very much; I’ve quite happily avoided I-III.)  Then on Sunday I’ll probably head back into Fallout 3, where I just got back from The Pitt.  I thought the story was pretty generic (though I did enjoy the reveal of what the cure is) but I thought the Steelyard was a lot of fun to explore with its dead ends and the way it made use of all 3 dimensions.  I haven’t decided where to head next – maybe Point Lookout, since I’ve never been there, but I’m only at level 7 so I might just wander aimlessly through the capitol and do some leveling before heading out.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      My excitement for FCBD and MTF has been dampened somewhat by the local religious community panhandling at street corners during the same time period. It’s a big event and it usually keeps me locked inside the house when I can, but this year I’ll just grit my teeth and get my family to the comic book store and Toys R Us as fast as possible.

      • stakkalee says:

        Ugh, that does sound a shitty.  I hate being proselytized, and in the one-block radius around my house there are 3 churches so I get proselytized a lot; when I get tired of explaining that I’m an atheist I claim to follow Reform Jediism – we believe the Sith are misguided, not evil.  I can’t even leave my house on Sunday mornings unless I plan to be out until after 2PM because as soon as I move my car some Charlie Churchgoer will swoop in and take my spot.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I used to live literally across the street from a  church and have them park all around my house on Sunday mornings. It was so great.

          I need to read up more on this Reform Jediism.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           Awesome! I think I once convinced two mormons that I was really a practicing solipsistic gnostic, and that I considered that their god was evil and had constucted reality as a prison just for me.
           I say I think I convinced them, because they must hear this sort of bullshit all of the time. They sure looked horrified/fascinated, though…

        • stakkalee says:

          @drflimflam:disqus Oh, Reform Jediism is great!  Hooded robes are optional, we only break out the lightsabers on Life Day, and when you die you become a Force ghost and get to hang out with Yoda all day!

        • George_Liquor says:

          I had a couple Churchies knock on my door once, just as I was getting out of the shower. Oddly enough, they decided not to spread the Good Word to a naked, dripping, white guy.

        • Citric says:

          I once gave a pair of Jehovas Witnesses a cat. I was wearing only a bathrobe, and they knocked on my door, and this random cat just walked into my apartment. So I said “Is this yours?” and gave it to them and closed the door.

        • His_Space_Holiness says:

          A proselytizer walked up to me once on a college campus and asked me some questions about the role of gender in the Bible, and whether God could be a woman or thought women were inferior and so forth.. He was pretty young, so he might have been a student working on some sort of sociology project, but he came off as a guy trying to prove a weirdly misogynistic interpretation of Christianity. I took this as an opportunity to expound on my theory that sex would have no meaning to an omnipotent, peerless being like God, who would have no need of sexual reproduction and therefore no need to be defined as male or female in the first place.

          The proselytizer awkwardly excused himself and fled, allowing me to finish my lunch in peace.


        • George_Liquor says:

          Why’d he bother, anyway? I’d think the space vestments would’ve been a dead giveaway.

        • Merve says:

          Even as somebody who is quite religious, proselytizers baffle me. You’d think that by now they’d have caught on that nobody takes them seriously.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Good news, everyone! Nary a Christian to be found!

          No Mass Effect comics, though. Boo.

        • stakkalee says:

          @drflimflam:disqus Eh, you didn’t miss much in the Mass Effect comic – it was a story about how Joker broke the law to overcome prejudice.  Kumbaya!

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        What makes May 4th such a big day for proselytizing?  Or is it just a weekly thing for them?

    • Vermes says:

      Point Lookout is a great expansion– probably the best. The environment is very fun to explore, and a pseudo-Lovecraftian creepiness pervades everything. You’ll probably enjoy it a lot more at a higher level, though.

      I just last night finished Mothership Zeta, which was, as indeed seems to be the general critical consensus, the worst thing ever. As a completionist, I’ve felt obliged to pull that loose string off for about three years, but it was a genuine chore to boot it up several nights in a row and walk through what was somehow the most boring spaceship ever designed, dismally shooting lasers at aliens with nigh-infinite health.

      • djsubversive says:

        ugh. The quicker people forget about Mothership Zeta, the better. I did it once when I first went through Fallout 3’s DLC, and never again. The rewards aren’t worth that.

    • djsubversive says:

      I liked that the Pitt’s factions were “black and slightly darker black,” and the twist with not only the cure but Ashur in general. Plus, gold and black power armor. :)

      Operation Anchorage is pretty easy no matter what level you are, and the rewards are pretty awesome. The Stealth Suit, Shocksword, and Gauss Rifle are good enough, but then they give you free Power Armor training, a set of Arctic Power Armor, and a bunch of Outcast power armors (they originally have people in them, but when they decide to attack the Lone Wanderer, they give up their right to breathe).

      Point Lookout is good, but it’s designed for higher-level characters with powerful weapons and armor (the inbred hillbillies have skin tougher than Enclave Power Armor, and their woodchoppin’ axes hit harder than Plasma Rifles).

  23. Jonathan Dewar says:

    Probably the highlight of this weekend will be finishing BioShock Infinite for a second time, this time with my sister watching.  This is something the two of us do, she just comes over and watches me play games.  It’s been an interesting experience in the case of Infinite, listening to her come to realizations about the story as I’ve gone through the game.  I’m excited for the ending because I’m really not sure how she’s going to take it.  It’ll be fun though, that’s for sure!

    On the back burner are Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on PS3(I’m in the last bit of the new dungeon), the PC version of Papo & Yo (the buildings have legs!), the PC version of Fez (not digging this – I think my opinion of Phil is probably clouding my enjoyment), Might & Magic Heroes VI + Standalone Expansion and finally, MINERVA: Metastasis (been a long time since I played this, so I’m looking forward to cracking open the Director’s Cut).

    I’ll also be working through the unlocks added to Subway Surfers in yesterday’s update because really, it’s the only thing I use my Galaxy S II for anymore (well, not really, but it certainly feels like it).

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      That is cool, especially as a way to experience the story. My wife just wanted me to tell her the tale of BioShock, but I feel like it really reduces the impact and quality of the narrative.

      • Zack Handlen says:

        My girlfriend and I did this with Heavy Rain, which made the game so much more enjoyable. (In that we could both make fun of it while I was playing; also, when I figured out the “twist,” I could brag to her, and she could tell me I was clever. It’s a thing we do.)

      • Jonathan Dewar says:

        Getting my entire family to experience storytelling in games is sort of a hobby/agenda of mine.  I take every opportunity I can to play games either with them or in front of them.

        My parents (who are in their late 40s and not gamers in any sense of the word) watched me play through all three of the Uncharted games and they got a kick out of them.  We would do “Uncharted nights” for about two months where I would bring my PS3 over and hook it up to their TV and play through a bit of the games.

        On a similar note, my step-father watched me play the original Hitman: Codename 47 way back when and I remember him commenting on the physics, how you could dump bodies down the sewer drains and stuff.  Similarly, my mother has watched me play various MMOs here and there, and I enjoy how she always comments on the idle animations, how they’re always moving around instead of staying relatively still like real people.  I get a kick out of it.

  24. Girard says:

    This weekend will be all blocked up with chunks of various end-of-semester busywork. However, I think I will be able to fit some time with the newly (to me) released Fez in the cracks between the stones.

    The port is pretty buggy, but after jumping through a few hoops (and a release patch), it’s stable enough to play, and I’m enjoying myself quite a bit.

    Out of curiosity should I see about translating those glyphs right away with some hardcore cryptography, or is there a puzzle/revelation down that line that makes that process more straightforward?

    • I’ve put about 8 hours into the game without translating the glyphs and I feel like i should’ve earlier because I am stuck like a snail in mollasses.

      • Girard says:

        I just wanted to make sure there isn’t some Rosetta Stone you encounter halfway through the game. I’d feel a bit of an ass if I painstakingly cracked it by hand, and then just later encountered something that would have made it really easy.

        • duwease says:

          Just go ahead and do it.. if you’re used to cryptogram puzzles, it should be a breeze.  I decoded it before finding the “Rosetta Stone”, but didn’t feel too bad about it since it removed the need to backtrack.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      It’s been a while since I played Fez, but I may be able to offer some assistance. Hopefully I don’t reveal too much, but possible spoilers ahead:

      There are, at minimum, three sets of glyphs that I remember. The largest set is also the least necessary; it has a Rosetta Stone, but it’s easy to miss. One of the smaller two sets is explained in a classroom somewhere in the world, which has examples on the walls. The last set of glyphs doesn’t have a teaching moment, as far as I recall, but they can be worked out with some experimentation.

      Good luck!

  25. Marcel Leroux says:

    In the best game of Contra I ever played, I didn’t use the code, and when I beat the game, I had seven lives left.

    Scratch that: It wasn’t the best game of Contra I’ve ever played. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

  26. “Do you think there’s something lost in the way multiplayer games are
    played now? You might never see the face of the person you’re playing

    Unless you own a Wii (U)… Say what you will about Nintendo’s recent console philosophy (much of it deserved), but they’ve never really lost the appeal of two to four friends in the same room playing awesome games.

    This weekend I’m not going to lie and say that I’m going to try and play more of Pandora’s Tower. Every time the opportunity has presented itself in the last week, I’ve opted to play more Monster Hunter instead (which I am already doing via 3DS during most of my down time via). I will finish Pandora’s Tower eventually, but it is going to take a Herculean effort to actually fire up the game. Maybe once I hit G-Rank and really start getting my face routinely handed to me by giant angry dinosaurs.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I have to admit, the most fun I’ve had playing video games in the last five years was the holiday party where 10-15 of us took turns on Rock Band.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      One of my absolute favorite multi-player games was Pac-Man Vs. which as I understand it is somewhat reimagined in Nintendoland. Same-room co-op is great. I have two 360 games for every Wii/GC game I own, but the Wii and Xbox get the same amount of playtime becuase of how much I can play the same game with my son on the same screen.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      My best multiplayer experience was in high school, when my friends and I bailed on a school-wide field day and set up Super Smash Bros. in an empty classroom for a few hours.

      • George_Liquor says:

        I worked part-time at a CompUSA while I was in college. After-hours, about 10 of us would play marathon Starcraft sessions on the training room computers. Good times.

  27. Drew Toal says:

    Knife of Dunwall, although the rat-infested alleys of Dishonored are really starting to bum me out. Maybe the original BioShock too, if I get around to picking it up.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Two awesome, sunshiney places to spend the weekend in. I’ve heard of a city above the clouds, sun always shining, streets well-kept, the shops all cream and red and navy blue. No crime, no (visible) poverty, and it even has a beach to wear your striped swimsuit for men at! Check it out and enjoy the non-violent warmth and relaxation I’m sure you’ll find there.

    • Cloks says:

      I completely forgot I owned that which really sticks to the staying power of Dishonored. It’s a great game when it’s engaging me with an in-depth universe but when I’m not present it doesn’t exist.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Dishonored is definitely a game that is fun while playing it but doesn’t have me craving it when I’m away.

      • Dr_JanItor says:

        It really is true.  I bought the game the week it launched, after one of my finals.  I played it a good deal for a while, then kind of just abandoned it halfway through Dunwall Tower, which (SPOILER) I thought was the final level.  

        I finally brought myself to fire it up again last weekend and start from the beginning.  I beat it in two or three sittings (including a late-Sunday-night/early-Monday-morning marathon through the final levels) on normal difficulty.

        It’s a thoroughly enjoyable game.  It feels awesome executing cool combos, and it’s a pretty interesting world.  The story was decent enough, even if I could see the plot twist coming from a mile away and the ending was underwhelming.  I think the bleak, dreary setting combined with the frustrating nature of the stealth gameplay (at least for me) definitely prevented me from being drawn back into the game after breaks in playing it, though.

  28. duwease says:

    Man, catching up via co-op sounds fantastic, but most of my old friends that still game are into games that I’m not.  CoD, Halo, and fighting games mostly.

    I’m ankle-deep in a few things at the moment, picking them seemingly at random.

    – Trying to finish the south island of Far Cry 3.. starting to get a little stale.  Considering how much it already costs to build an AAA title, I’m surprised that more studios don’t just try and make smaller single-player experiences, so the player is left wanting more rather than being exhausted.  It seems they’re stuck that 60 hours of gameplay has to be met, even if it’s buggy and unpolished.  In Far Cry 3 that really only applies to the co op, which I can’t really play anyway since no friends have it.
    – Classic XCOM runthrough.. I’m having a real problem with aliens waltzing through a hailstorm of reaction shots and killing my snipers.  Didn’t lose a single soldier on Normal, but I’m up to like.. 6 now?  And I haven’t even progressed to the first story milestone.
    – Kairo:  as recommended on this very site!  Nice, short Myst-like puzzler.  Could use some tightening in areas, but who makes Myst-ish games anymore?

    Just picked up Incredipede as well, and excited to start it once Kairo’s complete.  And I’m eagerly following online reviews to see if Leviathan Warships is a boatload of fun or a pile of ship.

  29. neodocT says:

    I have a ton of stuff to do this weekend, so of course that means I will blow a lot of time on games because that’s just how I roll.

    To help out my endeavor of procrastination, this week I bought Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon which is very funny, and I’ve enjoyed what I played so far. I have an issue with the way the game never quite lets you relax and explore for a little bit. You can’t take two steps without a Blood Dragon or some cyborgs appearing.

    And then, of course, Steam had to put Tomb Raider on sale, so I’ll definitely try to play that a little bit. I generally liked the Tomb Raider series, though I only started playing them when I was a bit older. And I think the Uncharted games are all right too, but way too scripted. I’m hoping this Tomb Raider strikes an okay balance between scripted scenes and a Metroidvania type of exploration. We’ll see.  

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I made a promise to a lady. A special lady. That I would defend her honor to synthesizers and pixel art.

  30. boardgameguy says:

    tonight it’s going to be Battlestar Galactica with a group that has all played before. i’m very excited. we might follow it up with Glory to Rome, which is second only to Race for the Galaxy as my favorite “just cards” type of game.

  31. Oh man, I fucking LOVE the Contra series!  Me and my brothers would rock the Konami Code and ride that game to the weird alien base every time.  The PS2 version was actually my favorite though, even if it was “dark” and “edgy”.

    This weekend I will be barreling head first into X-Com: Enemy Unknown and maybe GTA San Andreas, as my attempt to enjoy art-games was thwarted when I found out Dear Esther doesn’t have Auto-save and I’d have to replay whole chapters if I wanted to make it to the end. Sad face.

    X-Com is pretty well understood around here to be a beautifully addictive, micro-management masterpiece and I’m glad that I can attest to the glory of having a sniper crit a Muton Berserker from across the map, saving my injured Heavy.

    GTA San Andreas, was on sale last weekend and it is the only GTA I haven’t played, plus, have you seen the new GTA V trailer?  It’s a fun game, but the missions are very mini-game centric and, as is often the case with these games, the most boring part.  I’m currently stuck on a car-hydraulics rhythm mini-game mission and it’s driving me bonkers!  I just want to drive around the map and listen to K-Rose.  Part of why I’m excited for GTA V is the whole map is unlocked from the get go!  Brilliant!

    • neodocT says:

      Why play artsy fartsy games when you can blow up blow aliens and kill hookers?

      I loved San Andreas, but you’re right that the missions are much more minigame centric. There’s one set of sidemissions in which you pilot toy airplanes for David Cross that still haunts me to this day.

      •  I understand that Rstar likes to get variety but those type of missions are always where the game loses me. Vice City’s RC helicopter is still the point I’m stuck at in that game too.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Ah yes, the car hydraulics. There’s also a dancing minigame, and a few others from what I remember. That game just tried to cram in everything they could possibly fit. It’s worth getting through the more tedious bits for the super-fun story and missions though. I spent a hell of a lot of time in San Andreas; I think it’s the only GTA game I’ve actually finished (the plot, that is; I’m not crazy enough to spend another 100 hours going for 100% completion). Good times.

      • Merve says:

        I got so close to beating San Andreas. Then I got to the last mission and died. I haven’t picked up the game since.

        • WarrenPeace says:

          That happened to me with both GTA3 and Vice City, but I managed to get through the final mission of San Andreas. I felt so accomplished! Now maybe someday I’ll go back and take over all the gang territories…

        • Effigy_Power says:

          It is a hell of a mission too, and so long. Definitely very prone to suck the life right out of the game.

        • djsubversive says:

          It wouldn’t be so bad if they checkpointed the various parts of the mission. Okay, one checkpoint, after the Crack Palace, would have done wonders.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         San Andreas is definitely the best for getting lost in the world and forgetting that there’s an actual mission to be played. 

      • Jonathan Dewar says:

        I think the only GTA game I’ve finished is IV, which seems to be the one most people don’t want to finish.

    • djsubversive says:

      Don’t be a busta, Kyle. If you ain’t down with the Grove, then take your punk ass back to Liberty. :)

      The hydraulics/dance-dance minigames are dumb and I don’t think they register your input properly. Get the minimum score needed to proceed, and then ignore them forever.

      Also, have you had to deal with Big Smoke’s big dumb motorcycle mission yet? “All you had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!”

  32. poco GRANDES says:

    welp, this guy seems cool as hell. anyone who pairs bourbon and contra on a regular basis is all righty in my book. 

    lately since it got warm i’ve started bringing my imac out onto my porch and gaming there. it’s especially fun to bust out the SNES emulator with some friends and beers. good times, good times…

    myself, I’m head-over-heels in love with Ni No Kuni right now. I’m humming the theme music as I type this. 

  33. Chalkdust says:

    I’d like to try and finish up the main story in Gravity Rush, but I made the mistake of also starting Persona 4 Golden and Virtue’s Last Reward.  So my time will be split between falling in all directions, exploring the TV world, and escaping death traps in a Japanese psych-horror version of Saw.

    Gravity Rush has been a mixed experience… the gravity-shifting mechanics are fun and finding hidden stuff on the weird flying city is engrossing, but combat can either be smooth and gratifying, or clunky and aggravating.  When you’re dealing with a batch of flying enemies, you have to use a sort of flying kick attack to take care of them, but in a game with no lock-on (my kingdom for a lock-on!), aiming can be touchy.  The game makes use of the Vita’s gyroscope when you’re aiming in flying mode, which usually works fine, but if you have to swing your viewpoint around any decent amount, you also gotta use the analog stick.  Analog stick and gyroscope fighting against each other are annoying.  I really like the look of it, though, and the story is getting weird (which isn’t too much of a surprise now that I know this is from one of the original Silent Hill guys).  Music’s nice, though I’ll be damned if I can get this tune out of my head any time soon.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I hope they make a sequel to Gravity Rush, but they really need to polish up the battles. It’s way too clunky and difficult as it stands. The battle with Raven was so difficult for me.

      I’m excited for you playing Persona 4 Golden. Is this your first Persona game? EEEEEEE! Makes me wanna go back and play through it again myself!

      • George_Liquor says:

        P4G is the first one in the series that I’ve played outside the fighter. Unfortunately, I hit a wall while trying to save Yukiko, and I haven’t touched it in weeks. I’d like to pick it up again, but–and please don’t hate me–I just don’t find it to be very enjoyable. Anymore, I don’t have the time or patience required to grind away in an RPG that doesn’t allow me to save whenever I want.

        • PaganPoet says:

          I’m constructing an effigy in your likeness as we speak. You can see how difficult that might be, since I have no idea what you look like.

        • PaganPoet says:

          For what it’s worth, I think you have yet to delve into what is really the meat and potatoes of the game: the Social Links and the Persona compendium. And the Yukiko dungeon and boss are notorious for being much more difficult than one would expect that early in the game. I hope that helps you at least know that better is to come if you can make it through that section.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Sorry, they broke the mold when they built this Effigy.

      • Chalkdust says:

        Hellllllll no!  I’ve been playing ’em since I first stumbled upon Relevations: Persona back when I got my PSX.  I have since played every single Shin Megami Tensei game they’ve released in the US (with the exception of Devil Survivor 2 because I keep forgetting I don’t already have it when I see it at the store).  I’ve completed Persona 4 twice on PS2, watched the anime (recommended!), and am still enjoying the story this time around.

        Since it’s going on my permanent record, as it were (achievements ho!), I am referring to a ‘recommended activities’ calendar walkthrough to maximize efficiency in raising my S. Links and stats.  I am finding I need, like, four times as much money in order to do all the demon fusing I would like and still be able to keep their gear up to date.  I just got the Hermit link, so it’ll be easier to farm the dungeons once the fox comes along.

        • PaganPoet says:

          I’m only one trophy away from the Platinum myself, so I have an excuse to play it again (I need to read all of the books).

          But first, I need to play through the Persona 2 duology, and then replay P3P as the female protagonist. Not to mention I still have not ever had a P3FES playthrough in which I maxed out every social link.

  34. Zack Handlen says:

    I’ve got a couple games going on right now: Tomb Raider is really fun, and scratches an itch I didn’t realize I had. (It’s a lot like Uncharted, except the protagonist isn’t funny, and the combat isn’t quite as annoying.) The tension between trying to make the violence “painful,” and the clear pleasure of discovering new places and getting better at killing dudes, is neat: I don’t think the balance works as well as it could have, because Lara’s character is more of a concept than anything specific, but the actual game design is good enough that I invest in her anyway. 

    I also picked up Injustice, which I’m always really enjoying. First fighter game I’ve ever played more than five minutes of, and I may even bother to play through the story mode. (This is probably because I’ve actually managed to get through most of it without hitting a wall. A first for me!) I’m kind of amazed at how bad-ass Aquaman is. 

  35. WarrenPeace says:

    I just beat the final boss in Portal last night, so I’ll probably have to mess around with the bonus maps or challenges, and then I can play Portal 2 at some point. I’ve also got to get back to Just Cause 2, since I’ve been busy with other stuff and haven’t played it for a week or so. And I might play some more Spore; I’ve got a galactic empire to expand…

    • djsubversive says:

      if you’re interested in Portal 2 co-op, hit me up on Steam! I recently got 2 myself, and haven’t really played it much.

      • WarrenPeace says:

        Ooh, we’ll definitely have to do that sometime. I’ve played a little co-op with a friend on Xbox, so it should be interesting to see how it works online like this. I’ll keep an eye out for when you’re available on Steam!

  36. ItsTheShadsy says:

    Monaco. This weekend belongs to Monaco. I’m going to try a big local co-op game. Let’s see if it’s worth it!

  37. SamPlays says:

    All this talk about NES nostalgia reminded me how mechanical those old machines were. Unlike modern game systems, you had to legitimately manhandle the game carts and machine to get it working. You’d blow on the contacts, blow in the NES, bang it, adjust how far a game fit into the drive, press reset multiple times – it was an endless parade of analog configuration to get a particular game to work. Throw in a Game Genie and you were better off playing outside. Not sure about others but I’ve NEVER had to knock around my PS3 to get it working.

    • neodocT says:

       I’ve never knocked my PS3, but it does have a weird problem. In order to turn on the system, I need to press on the power button, wait two seconds for the light to turn off, and then press the power button again. It’s not enough of a problem that I would send it to get it fixed, but it does bug me that I can’t turn on the system from the controller anymore. No idea why that happened.

      • SamPlays says:

        That’s a weird one. I noticed yesterday that my controller wouldn’t go wireless. It worked fine connected to the USB cord but I couldn’t use it remotely. All four lights on the controller kept flashing, which it normally does for a few seconds when establishing a wireless connection. Mine just kept flashing nonstop and hitting the “PS” button did nothing. I could try the old Contra code and see if that works. 

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       I’ve opened up both my PS3 and my 360 at different points to fix problems and I’m on my second console for both of them.  Meanwhile my NES system lasted until just a few years ago.  And I’m pretty convinced my N64 would survive a nuclear apocalypse.

  38. Link The Ecologist says:

    Due to impending graduation, I will be moving next week so tonight might be my last session of Magic: the Gathering ever. This is due to my desire to only play casually  and the difficulty I think I’ll have finding such a play group when not in a college town.

    Just finished the Half-Life 2 episodes, so I can now finally join everyone in their desire for a third installment. I was thinking of following that up with by trying out Black Mesa or maybe the first Bioshock, but instead I’ve been sucked into the Neverwinter MMO. Usually I have a pretty quick turnaround with such games but for right now I am finding it quite enjoyable.

  39. ShrikeTheAvatar says:

    Haha, holy shit.  I had this guy as a creative writing teacher at the University of Minnesota.  

    Awesome dude.  I doubt he’ll read this, but, uh, hey.

  40. HobbesMkii says:

    Whatever I choose to play, it won’t be that terribly awful Mars RPG game. I cannot not recommend that game enough.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      This is why I like the Steam group. Not only does it sometimes sway me to buy a game I might have missed out on otherwise, but it also saves me from buying pixelated pieces of frozen dogshit like that one.

    • djsubversive says:

      Receiver looks pretty neat. Let me know what you think of it.

  41. His_Space_Holiness says:

    On this week’s episode of Skyrim I completed the Mages’ College adventure and discovered that holy shit, the Archmage’s chambers are swanky as hell. I’m just gonna live here forever, screw all that house-buying jazz. And the Thieves Guild is fun and all, but they still live in a goddamn sewer. Mages for the win. Now I’m just chillin’ with Paarthurnax and getting all the juicy dragon gossip. Time paradoxes are exactly the kind of plot twist I needed to spice up all this chosen-one-faces-down-the-prophesied-ancient-evil blah de blah.

    I also finished up Psychonauts for the second time. Still brilliant, still hilarious. I made it to rank 98 and tracked down all the little secrets and Easter Eggs I missed the first time around. Man, Milla’s secret room is brutal.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       I thought it was funny how little magic I actually knew when I became the Archmage.  They really don’t vet very well.

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

        They’re impressed by my leadership skills, which I demonstrated by doing exactly what everyone told me to do all the time.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That’s the truth.  Milla’s room was a dark left turn.  It’s been years and I’m still wondering what the impetus was for such a dramatic escalation.

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

        Well, if I must speculate (I must! I must!), I’d say it ties into the game’s theme about how everyone faces some trauma in their lives, and how we need to overcome it to be healthy adults. The stronger characters like Sasha and Milla have done so, and so their traumas are neatly compartmentalized in their minds. The other characters whose minds you visit, like Edgar and Boyd and the rest, let their tragedies and disappointments take control and dominate their minds. I think the point of Milla’s secret room is that it contrasts strongest with her personality. She’s the cheeriest, bubbliest character in the game, and it speaks to her strength as a Psychonaut and as a person that she was able to overcome such a horrendous tragedy and keep her (literally) buoyant outlook. It’s also notable in that there’s nothing you need to do in that room. She’s got it under control.

        One of the things I like best about the game is that you become a hero by helping people work through their mental problems, not by beating them up. It’s psychotherapy as superheroing, and it’s a really sweet and unexpected theme for a game. Milla’s secret room is a very stark and startling illustration of that theme, but that just adds to its power.

  42. aklab says:

    Just started playing Psychonauts, in search of something fun to play but tame enough for my kids to watch. It’s pretty incredible… been a few years since I’ve enjoyed the pleasures of a perfect platformer. 
    Also playing Mass Effect 2, still only an hour at a time until I can get a laptop less prone to overheating.

    And Candy Box, thanks to you all, dammit. 

    • PaganPoet says:

      I’m in the market for a laptop as well. The old boy decided it was nigh time to up and die on me on Monday. Hmph!

    • SamPlays says:

      The bit.trip Runner 2 game would probably be a fun game for kids to watch. It’s got whimsy, color and music. It’s also fun and challenging to play.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Is this your first time playing Psychonauts?  How very awesome for you.  You will have all the fun.
         And Candy Box! is a virus. 

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Damn right, Psychonauts is incredible. That game has more imagination in its little finger than most AAA games combined. As for tameness, there are a couple jokes in a later level about drugs and call girls, but they’re just throwaway background lines, so you shouldn’t have any problem with the kids.

  43. Effigy_Power says:

    I had flu pretty much the entire week, but my gf sprung me with a 360-copy of Bioshock Infinite, so we’d have something to do.
    I won’t get into the details, I think they’ve all been covered, but apart from a very, very annoying lull in the middle of the game, it’s been pretty damn entertaining, had a fairly good twist and is definitely a great game to watch someone else play. I had fun, though it’s probably the most noisy game I’ve ever played.
    I am a little gamed out after trotting through Columbia, but there’s always room for some casual gaming here and there.
    May is always a busy month for me, so I am not really getting into anything big I think, but well, all it takes is for the mood to take me. I bought the whole Spore shebang for a pittance, but it’s not really motivating me to keep playing. Mount&Blade Warband has sort of settled itself into a routine where I conquer a castle, leave half my troops as garrison, train new troops… yawn. I am almost tempted to just install Just Cause 2 again, just because it’s something to do and nothing else looks really tasty right now.

    • djsubversive says:

      aww, sorry to hear about your sickiness. Hope you’re feeling better. We should frame some wars or rob a bank or something this weekend.

      Also, video games.

  44. ferrarimanf355 says:

    More Pinball Arcade for me, with a side of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

    If it wasn’t for Pinball Arcade, I would have sold my PS Vita long ago.

  45. Flying_Turtle says:

    I downloaded the 1000 Club expansion to Forza Horizon, so I’ll probably do some of that. I tend to find a car I like in each class and just use that throughout the game, so this gets me into some cars I might have otherwise missed. Despite the fact that my favorite NHL team narrowly missed the playoffs, the unseasonably cold weather has me back in the mood for hockey, so I’ll probably get in some NHL 12.

    A recent review on this very site convinced me to start Marvel: Avengers Alliance (although I considered waiting for Teti’s mom, the gold standard of Facebook game reviewers, to weigh in), so I’m working through the early stages of that too. I like the game fine, but I have little patience for the “why don’t you annoy the crap out of your friends?” garbage that all of those games seem to have, so time will tell how long I stick with it.

  46. ThePhantomGuinness says:

    Gyromite Had The Robot.

  47. The_Infamous_Dr_Q says:

    I’ve decided to finally get around to Dead Space 3’s co-op gameplay, despite the fact that I hate survival horror co-op.  But, you know, since large parts of the game’s story are confined to co-op only missions, what can you do.  You know, other than not play Dead Space 3.  Cause it’s kind of a shitty game when you get down to it.

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