Out This Week

Ace Patrol

Sid Meier’s Out This Week

Sid Meier takes to the skies in this week’s new Sid Meier releases.

By Drew Toal • May 7, 2013

Out This Week is a roundup of new games that are out this week. These listings don’t constitute an endorsement or a review. We also don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list. If there’s a game on the horizon that interests you, share it in the comments.

PC—May 6

“Behind all seen things lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself.” The French pilot, author, and aristocrat Antoine de St. Exupéry wrote that in his book, Wind, Sand and Stars. Having crashed his plane while flying the mail over the Sahara in 1935, he probably came up with this while half-dead from exposure, speaking to a hallucinatory manservant named Anatole. “Don’t you see, Anatole? This isn’t an unending series of dunes. It’s a doorway to another world.” At this point, Anatole would roll his imaginary eyes and come up with an understated, practical plan to save their bacon, or whatever the French equivalent is. (Croque monsieur?) The desert, for all its flat, dry sameness, lends itself to this kind of thing. In Residue, four characters return to a desert that was, until recently, an ocean. They’re there to explore the ruins and get some answers. One guy looks like Rasputin’s second cousin. The others all have artfully disheveled hair.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol
iPad, iPhone—May 9

The man behind Civilization and Pirates! is at it again, this time with a free-to-play World War I fighter game called Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol. Sid Meier is one of those guys who, at some point in your video game-playing career, you suspect is not a real person—not unlike, say, Colonel Sanders (in your chicken-eating career) or Crazy Eddie (in your insanely priced junk-buying career). Up until a few years ago, I had lingering suspicions that children’s writer R.L. Stine, of Goosebumps fame, was not so much an actual human as he was the nom de plume of a handful of anonymous writers. How wrong I was. For a story, I once had to go visit and rank a series of New York City-based haunted houses during Halloween season. The twist was that I had to do it alongside R.L. Stine and a high priest in the Church Of Satan. That was a strange day.

Ballpoint Universe
Mac, PC—May 10

Ballpoint Universe is a crazy-looking platformer and shoot-’em-up based on the idea that millions of pen doodles are made and just as quickly discarded every day. In the game, some of these have been saved to construct a bizarre, Bic-tastic world. Having long been the proud owner of a diverse array of nervous habits, I’m no stranger to doodling. When I was younger, I’d doodle all through my notebooks in between bouts of drooling on my desk and honing my nose-picking technique. A game made up of my doodles, though, wouldn’t make for an aesthetically or psychologically pleasing experience. It would quickly turn into a bunch of people stuck in a three-dimensional cube that’s being steadily filled in. Suddenly, I can’t breathe.

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59 Responses to “Sid Meier’s Out This Week

  1. Citric says:

    Speaking of haunted houses (brilliant segue Citric!) Fatal Frame II is on PSN now. I’m very tempted to buy the Fatal Frames, but I suspect I may have too large a backlog.

    • Chalkdust says:

       I haven’t had a chance to try the fourth, Grasshopper Manufacture-developed one, but I would say that II is probably the Fatalest of Frames,

    • Merve says:

      Too large a backlog? No such thing.


      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        Disregard women.

        Acquire electronic entertainment.

        • PaganPoet says:

          That’s pretty much printed on my family’s coat of arms.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus    And yet, Genealogists are still trying to figure out why your family only lasts one generation.

      • Citric says:

        I did just buy like, 4 games on the weekend. And a car.

        And then I wonder why I’m broke all the time.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Nice. I picked that up in its original PS2 form for cheap a while back, but haven’t gotten around to playing it. I loved the first one, because come on, fighting ghosts with photography, there’s nothing not awesome about that.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Fatal Frame II is fantastic. I may have to indulge.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I bought it once for Xbox, and after a year tried to play it. Iit didn’t work, so I called Tecmo about it and they said (this is true) that they were having a staff meeting and to call back later.

      I never did.

    • Who cares? It isn’t the vastly superior Xbox version.

      • Citric says:

        But I don’t have an Xbox, vastly superior or not. Also, finding an Xbox that someone hasn’t pooped inside and copies of the games nobody pooped inside is relatively difficult.

  2. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    It came out about a week ago, but there’s a title on Steam called Receiver that’s caught my attention. It seems dedicated to modelling fairly realistic gun handling (e.g. you have to manage individual bullets across multiple magazines, you can manually pull back the slide). The controls might be a little daunting, but it’s piqued my interest. Anyone know more about it?

    • djsubversive says:


      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        Nice! My only concern is that handling the gun will be more complicated than I’m willing to learn, and I doubt the controls could be mapped to a controller very well, but at $5 I’m considering picking it up on novelty alone. Luckily, one of the videos on Steam mentioned some kind of “smart” system to help novices pick up the controls, so at least I’ll have help.

        • djsubversive says:

          The help system is pretty handy – it’s just a list of the controls, and it highlights what you need to do in order to fire your gun. I thought it was complicated at first, too, but you get used to it, just like any game.

          Also, I love the way sprinting works in Receiver. To run, you tap W quickly. The faster you tap, the faster you run.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I actually like the reason the developer gave for mapping sprint to tapping “W”: it’s something they don’t want you to do often, so making it something that requires constant effort discourages people from using it frequently. I think they mentioned it in the same video as the help system. It’s a good example of how developers can try to shape their game’s experience with deliberate design.

        • djsubversive says:

          Yes, I like a lot of the design decisions.

          “There’s no real practical reason to include [spinning the cylinder on the revolver], but I felt that it would be incomplete to have a revolver that couldn’t do that.”

          Also, the flashlight is held in “proper” positions – next to the gun when they’re both equipped (one of the videos shows this in ‘real life’), next to your head when the gun isn’t equipped, and held in your teeth when you’re using both of your hands (like when reloading).

          But really, the most impressive part about all of it is that it was made in just a week. The other night in chat, Hobbes said it might be the best FPS he’s ever played, and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. The tension is unmatched, and you’re just dealing with little floating drones and stationary robo-turrets.

          I want Receiver-style gun-handling in a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-type world, but I’ll settle for Receiver eventually expanding to more than just 3 handguns (Colt M1911, Glock… 17, I think?, and a SW Model 10 revolver).

          There’s a similar multiplayer game being worked on (by different people, but it’s very much inspired by Receiver) called Relock, that looks like it could be interesting, too.

  3. His_Space_Holiness says:

    This week’s releases are actually an elaborate homage to the obscure R&B act Earth, Wind, and Pens.

  4. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    How is Ace Patrol not just a SteamBirds rip-off?

    • mizerock says:

      The way I remember it, all Sid Meier games were supposed to be remade every 10 years, to update them for the latest technology. Or was that some other series, one that included Red Baron (Dynamix)? Now, I guess, they remake their old games to run for free in a browser, instead of on a new PC with the best components available.

      Adding memory-intensive graphics features don’t automatically make a game better.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         SteamBirds is an aerial turn-based mobile/browser game featuring WWI style planes and steampunk elements.  So Ace Patrol looks an awful lot like a rip off to me.

        • mizerock says:

          Ah, OK, I get you, I didn’t know this was a turn-based flying game [video doesn't play on my browser at work]. Sid Meier had flight simulators out long before SteamBirds existed, but none of them were turn-based, to my knowledge. I’m still going to give Mr. Meier the benefit of the doubt as being much more than just a copy cat. If anything, I’d say that SteamBirds copied the concept from the picture book game, “Ace of Aces”.

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

           @mizerock:disqus that game looks awesome.  I would play that.

  5. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Mr. Toal, a slow release week really cultivates your best work.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    Sauvez mon cul!

    Not quite “Save my bacon!” but close enough.

  7. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Have any of you tried the new Neverwinter game?  I played it after it was mentioned on another site, and it’s interesting so far, but pretty standard MMO, with one big exception – The Foundry, which allows people to create their own adventures and campaigns, and rate them.

    If any of you are playing on the Dragon server, I’d like to have some familiar faces / names / digital voices around.  If I’m doing this right, send me a message at “Mack Trickfoot@grillburg”.

    • I’m playing on the Dragon server as well, but still only in the instanced intro portion (just hit level 4 i think?).  I THINK I’m Sulaco@httplovecraft. 

      At what point can one start playing Foundry quests?  Are they tailored to a certain level or do they scale?

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I think as soon as you get to the city you can start, but there’s one problem I’ve found so far…a lot of the listings don[‘t specify what level they’re for!  Kind of a huge hole in the interface, if you ask me…so I haven’t had the nerve to try any yet.

        My thief is only level 7 or 8, as me, Mrs. Aurora and Baby Boreanaz all dealing with sinus problems means I only get 30-60 minutes per day for games.

        • That seems like a MAJOR design failing, unless they do scale to level.  Is there a rating/commenting system where you might get a clue to each’s difficulty?

        • Roswulf says:

          @twitter-495079299:disqus  They do scale to level, and there is a review/commenting feature. I’ve played through a couple (I think I was around level 12ish?) and they were alright, but I’m hoping that over time some really incredible stuff will be written.

          To be honest, playing Neverwinter this past week has mostly gotten me wondering whether I should buy NWN 2. I loved the player created stuff for NWN 1 so much that I’ve let myself get sucked into a Skinner Box-y MMORPG, why don’t I buy the actual sequel to the thing I like, a sequel that must have a backlog of well-written and designed material.

          Alternately, I could level up my Rogue some more.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          @Roswulf:disqus  – I was so excited when NWN came out, I immediately bought the deluxe edition and the Creation Guide for making your own adventures.

          And then I was completely crushed to find out the whole damn thing required a degree – or at the very least, some practical experience – in programming to make anything.

          “Really?  They didn’t even include templates for basic NPCs like shopkeepers?  BAH!”

  8. If you want Residue, it’s proof that you exist.

  9. neodocT says:

    Free to play Sid Meier game? I can see myself downloading that, playing for two days and dropping it when I can no longer advance without spending money. I’ll check back on April 11th with impressions.

  10. SnugglyCrow says:

    This is not the place to say this but because I have very few friends who care I’ve got to tell people who might appreciate the significance:  I finally got 100% on Super Meat Box XBLA last night. 

    • PaganPoet says:

      I hope you had a bottle of champagne handy to pop for the occasion!

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

      Super Meat Box? John Doe from Se7en, ladies and gentlemen.

    • Bad Horse says:

      I am trying not to measure how much time I’ve spent playing Super Hexagon lately. I just passed Hexagoner.

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

        I have it on my phone and can’t get past the first 40 seconds on the lowest difficulty. What is the secret with this game?

        • Jackbert says:

          Play Hexagoner a bunch. You’ll do terrible. Then go back to Hexagon. It’ll feel really slow and you’ll do a lot better. Keep on practicing on Hexagoner with periodic attempts on Hexagon and you’ll eventually beat it.

          To pass Hexagoner, play Hexagonest, and so on, until, like me, you’ve passed them all except the last level Hyper Hexagonest. Then you’re screwed.

        • Bad Horse says:

          There’s the practical advice and then the less practical advice. Practical: move with the rotation and not against it when possible, memorize the patterns like it’s the nastiest 8-bit boss you ever fought, and don’t psyche yourself out into moving into obstacles – I swear, when I started, 80% of my deaths were basically self-inflicted.

          Less practical: I approach really hard games as a form of meditation. You must clear your mind completely in order to crack your plateaus, which will be frequent. Turn off your targeting computer and use the Force and you’ll reach a state where suddenly you keep crashing through your plateaus, by like 10 seconds, a few playthroughs in a row. 

          By the way, if you can consistently reach 40 seconds, you’re one fluke away from cracking 60.

      • SnugglyCrow says:

        There is a serenity in having finished SMB and while I look forward to starting something new(thinking Braid or Blood Dragon) I don’t want to get into another game that’s as all-consuming and intense as what I just went through.  My OCD needs a break.  Sounds like Super Hexagon is a game for another day.

    • Enkidum says:

      I got to the Hell level on that stupid fucking candy game.

    • Colliewest says:

      No champagne on hand I’m afraid but please enjoy these unusual varieties of moss.

  11. Matt Kodner says:

    Drew, you’re not the only one who can confirm the Stine-meister’s authenticity.

    Taken seconds after I inadvertently insulted both him and his craft:

  12. Chum Joely says:

    Sorry for the spam, everyone, but I just wanted to let you know that we  are finally ready to vote on our game for the second edition of the Gameological/Steam Game Revue Club, here:


    More details there, but the nominees are:
    Alpha Protocol
    Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Hotline Miami
    Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords + TSLCM
    Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness III
    Portal 2 (a “best of” selection of user-created levels)

    Hmm, I wonder if I could convince John Teti to put this link up as one of of the “shorts” in the Gameological feed…


    • djsubversive says:

      As of this morning, it looks like Fallout: New Vegas and Alpha Protocol are the two front-runners. My inner Obsidian fanboy (which is pretty much the same as my outer Obsidian fanboy) is obviously happy about this. :)

  13. Eco1970 says:

    What am I playing this week? Skyrim on PC, X-Com on PS3, The Resistance boardgame in the park, and boy, that Ben Affleck Daredevil movie was awful, amirite?