What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Ken Baumann

Ken Baumann, actor and writer

The actor, publisher, and author talks about launching a book series about video games and his love of EarthBound.

By Drew Toal • June 7, 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.

Ken Baumann is an actor, writer, and publisher. He stars in ABC Family’s The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, and his first novel, Solip, was recently published by Tyrant Books. Along with writer Gabe Durham, Baumann is helping to launch a series of 33 1/3-style books called Boss Fight Books, each focused on a single classic video game. Baumann has chosen to write about the Super Nintendo role-playing game EarthBound.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Ken Baumann: Now I am playing EarthBound exclusively. I had plans to break it up, just to keep it interesting, and play some of the PlayStation 3 games I have, but those have already bored me. I have a problem with most new video game titles where I’ll play about half of the game, and because the campaigns are so fucking long, I’ll put them down in the middle and come back to them two weeks later and just not care. Then I’ll go trade it in to GameStop and play like half of another game. But now I’m 24/7 EarthBound. The Kickstarter, I think, is about 500 bucks away from getting me my author advance. So now I have a deadline. Now I’m playing EarthBound professionally, which is a childhood dream I’ve made come true.

Gameological: How old are you again?

Baumann: Twenty-three.

Gameological: And EarthBound came out in…

Baumann: 1995.

Gameological: So how old were you when you started playing?

Baumann: Well, five years old. I was playing with my older brother, and he was—oh God, do the math, Ken—12 at the time. It’s weird, because I barely remember how the game was played. I remember the game, but I don’t remember if we switched off, or if it was primarily me watching my brother. So I have been calling him and asking him all of these questions about EarthBound. It’s weird, because Scott and I don’t talk that often. So now it’s like rekindling our relationship, which is a nice, nice side effect. He told me that when we played, we would switch off. When he told me that, I imagined 5-year-old me and with my 12-year-old older brother passing me the controller and letting me play his game. It got me a little bit.

Gameological: How did the Boss Fight Books project come about?

Baumann: Gabe told me—I wish I could remember the light bulb moment for him. It was probably over food. But he said, “33 1/3 for video games. Why doesn’t it exist?” And I went, “Yeah, okay. It must exist.” So we turned to Google, and Google told us that it did not exist, at least in our excited, cursory search. And so we were like, let’s just do it. We’ll just do it, because the idea is so good and simple and kind of obvious that it has got to be in the ether, and somebody will get to it before us. Then it was a lot of me hammering Gabe. We heard rumblings that some other video game writer was in the process of maybe assembling this same idea, and I was like, “We just have to fucking beat him!”

Gameological: Stake your internet claim.

Baumann: Yeah, exactly. You don’t have to be the best to win. Sometimes you just have to be first. Because it’s all a competition…

Gameological: If you’re not first, you’re last—on the internet.

Baumann: So then we just worked our asses off for about a month. Gabe found the first season of writers and put together the contracts and put together the administrative stuff. I was doing all the design work, and we were banging out the covers. And when we did the Kickstarter, it was like we have to take this thing really seriously now. And I’m glad we did. It did really well, for my expectations. I thought it would take plenty of time to reach the goal, and we just blew past it.

Gameological: Last I checked, it had almost doubled the initial $5,000 ask, with 25 days left.

Baumann: Yeah! It’s incredible. I guess some of our early hints that the market can bear it, that there might be a big enough overlap between readers and video game players. I knew there had to be more of us out there. And it looks like it’s true.

Gameological: I saw you wrote something the other day about three more recent games that resonated with you.

Baumann: I had tried to write an essay about just the Walking Dead game. I had also recently played Spec Ops: The Line, which I couldn’t get out of my head, and Kentucky Route Zero, which I had played most recently. So I kind of put them all together, and thought they are all kind of similar in that they’re brave in their tone. I think The Walking Dead kind of comports to zombie games and zombie apocalypse scenarios, but it’s really, really emotionally brutal. And the writing is as close to capturing the ambiguity of wanting to say something and you say something that’s close enough, and that gets misinterpreted and that just irrevocably affects the world. Or your little world. Spec Ops was great because it was just incredibly critical of shooters, and to have such an intensely meta-critical game exist on a big platform kind of blows my mind. It would be like The Fast And Furious making a bunch of snide comments about people who watch The Fast And Furious. It’s just not gonna happen. Vin Diesel isn’t going to say, “What does this all mean?” and drive his car off a bridge. But you kind of get that in Spec Ops. Kentucky Route Zero is just really gorgeous and really artful and weird.

Gameological: How much of the book is going to be your experience and how much is going to be objective history?

Baumann: They’re mixed together. I had planned originally to do one chapter of history, one chapter of my experience, one chapter of my relationship as an adult. Or one chapter of me replaying it as an adult for the first time. And then I started writing it, and it all blended—because I have no discipline—but it feels more interesting to me this way, so hopefully it works that way for the reader. I’d like to make it the most authoritative artifact about EarthBound. So I do want a lot of the history, and sort of the origin story, and what has happened to it since with the fan community. So I want it to be historical, but that’s not my only aim.

Gameological: A couple of my friends did 33 1/3 books. One covered Ween, and another did, I think, ABBA?

Baumann: Sweet.

Gameological: I know. They are small books, but I know both of them kind of got pulled down the rabbit hole while doing the research.

Baumann: It’s incredible. It’s almost a little scary for me. I have this document, and it’s just like link, link, link, link, and it’s growing out of fucking control. I haven’t been annotating where I’m pulling sources from, so that’s going to be a lot of fun in the second draft. I thought there would be a terminal point; an event horizon of a cultural object that you can’t go past. It isn’t the case at all, man.

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

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  • Jackbert

    I started Sleeping Dogs last weekend and have been loving it so far. Pretty much everything is great – the story is exciting, the gameplay is tight, and the statistics are fun. Besides that on PS3, I finished up the main story of Batman: Arkham City a couple weeks ago and evenly liked and disliked the game. But I’ve gotten into the side missions over the last couple days and they have been quickly pushing my opinion towards the positive side. So I’ll do some more of those.

    On the portable side, I’m still progressing in my FMC P3P playthrough on PSP. About to go on the beach vacation. I’m also going to try to start Hotel Dusk: Room 215 on DS.

    • Enkidum

      Sleeping Dogs is possibly my favourite game of the past year. It’s also the only game that came out in the past year that I’ve played, but I just mean of the games I’ve played.

      Also my only Platinum PSN trophy, because I went around attacking enough pedestrians and betting on cockfights (hehehehe) until I got all the golden stat awards. So, uh, yay me?

      • Jackbert

        Yeah, I’m going to go for the plat as well. A lot of people complain about open-world games cramming in tons of auxiliary activities that aren’t important to the story. Personally, I don’t give a shit, I’m going to fight all the cocks, buy all the clothes, and sing all the karaoke possible.

        • Enkidum

          Buying all the clothes probably made me feel the most ridiculous, and was the one where I really had to spend the most time combing walkthroughs, in order to figure out where the one piece of clothing I was missing was.

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

          @Enkidum:disqus: But if you don’t buy all the clothes, then you can’t do wacky things like this.

        • dmikester

          I think Teti mentioned this in the Digest for Sleeping Dogs, but the side activities in Sleeping Dogs are really fun and super varied, enough to where they pretty much equal the main game for entertainment value.  Yes, there’s some monotony in grinding to get kills and driving for long enough in a Class A vehicle,  and there are some tasks that serve no discernible purpose, like hacking security cameras that aren’t involved in drug busts, but then there’s the hysterical karaoke games and getting crazier and crazier cars and outfits.  Good times.

        • Enkidum

          @Merve2:disqus that ain’t even close to the wackiest outfit he can wear. I was a fan of the big straw hat, no shirt, and those pants. He was FABULOUS!
          @dmikester:disqus Yup, that was exactly the appeal for me. I’ve said this before, but the mission where you have to prove you sing bad karaoke was hilarious.

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

          @Enkidum:disqus: I think we can agree, though, that the yellow banana suit is the worst of the game’s many fashion faux pas.

        • Jackbert

          @Enkidum:disqus : Fedora, chain, fingerless gloves, boxers, and nothing else. That’s how I roll.

        • djsubversive

          @Merve2:disqus I’m assuming you’re talking about the Game of Death yellow jumpsuit. That outfit is great and you’re a chump for hating it.

    • vinnybushes

      Be prepared to be very patient with Hotel Dusk. There are games that move at a glacial pace, and then there’s Hotel Dusk. It’s a game I really wanted to like, but I never finished it because of its incredibly slow start.

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

        That’s part of its charm. I love that every mundane event is played out in detail. 

        • vinnybushes

           ”I had all this interesting private eye stuff to do, but first, I had to get ready for dinner.”
           I’m usually pretty patient with story based games, but after hours of not much happening I’d finally had enough.

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

      Have you looked at your rankings in the Sleeping Dogs stat challenges as compared to your PSN friends? Http Lovecraft (Sulaco on Steam) and I got into a pretty heated competition over our clean drive scores. At one point, I may or may not have mailed a rabid monkey to his address.

      • Jackbert

        I have, but I only have one PSN friend who hasn’t played much, so the competition isn’t exactly stiff. I remember the clean drive score competition from last year. My score will probably pale in comparision to yours, it’s 2:33.

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

          I just checked. Mine is currently 3:48.776. I don’t want to tell you how many baby unicorns I had to skin to make that possible.

      • dmikester

        I love the rankings competition aspect of Sleeping Dogs. It’s a feature that certainly wasn’t needed to make the game great, but it adds so much to the experience.  Also, getting the trophy for the clean drive stat is one of the more white knuckle gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time (and your 3:48 time seems almost godlike).

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Hell yeah…how did you even DO that?  My best run was about 1:48, and when some dumbass changed lanes in front of me and TAPPED my bumper to end my run, I just gave up.

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

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus: Smartass answer: CAREFULLY.

          Real answer: Use a class B vehicle – fast enough to weave in and out of traffic, but slow enough that you won’t lose control. Drive around on the highway that encircles the island, and if you see two slow-moving vehicles side by side ahead on the road, weave into oncoming traffic.

      • fieldafar

        Damn, I hate that clean drive competition thing-y. 

        Best I could do was 2:07 (and I have three XBL friends who have much better scores).

      • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

        I took another crack at your record a week ago, but playing out of practice,I couldn’t pass even a minute and a half of Clean Drive.

        @Jackbert:disqus , avenge meee!!

        • Jackbert

          Hmm, I hadn’t even noticed when I reached 2:33, so I seem to be having an easier time than others. Maybe it’s experience from racing games? I’ll go for it!

        • offalWaiter

           May I recommend using a minivan.  Low top speed and very deliberate movement.  Only way I was able to get the achievement. 

        • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

          Very sneaky, @offalWaiter:disqus !  At some point I was trying to beat @Merve2:disqus  with one of those armored cars but they’re too bulky.

  • vinnybushes

    This interview is really interesting to me, as I keep mulling over a passion project where I spend an entire year playing nothing but the games on my pile of shame, which has become quite massive. I’d have to finish any game I start, with maybe a couple of cop-outs thrown in the mix to keep me from going insane. I’d blog about it in some fashion and maybe someone would find it interesting. The main obstacle to doing it would be lusting after something that’s off limits, and I think that might end up making me slightly bonkers. I dunno, it’s kind of like my version of hiking the Appalachian Trail, I talk about it, but who knows If I’ll ever follow through.
    As for what I’m playing this weekend I’m going to take another crack at finishing off Radiant Historia, messing around with some ps2 component cables that are showing up, and replaying the project x zone demo the
    four more times allotted to me (It’s pretty damn fun).

    • aklab

      That sounds interesting. Although, in my case I don’t think I could get through my backlog in a year. Or two. Damn.

      • vinnybushes

         The goal isn’t to finish it as much as it’s to make as big a dent in it as I can. I do still have to pretend to have a life.

      • Citric

        I’ve been trying to pare down my backlog at least, it’s progressing slowly.

        I have games from 10 years ago I’ve never even turned on, that’s sad.

        • vinnybushes

          The biggest problem is that a metric ton of the games on the list are 40+ hour JRPGs. It’s hard to commit that much energy to finishing that many games that are that long.

        • Citric

          And in my case, I love me JRPGs, so I’ve got a ton of them which are of varying quality.

        • vinnybushes

           What is it about JRPGs that inspires the rapid collector in me? I feel like since they’re so heavily story based it’s similar to the way I collect books and T.V. series. Almost every ps2 game I own is a Jrpg, Curse you golden age of ps1/2!

    • Cloks

      Hey, I just got PS2 Component cables as well. I ordered the cheapest ones on Amazon and they’re pretty great – I mainly use my PS2 to watch DVDs at this point and everything I’ve thrown at it looks much better with these cables.

      • vinnybushes

         I mostly just got these so my ps2 games will no longer look like a blurry mess on an hd tv.

    • neodocT

       I really liked Radiant Historia while I was playing it, but I honestly can’t recall too much about it right now. One thing I remember only finding out towards the very end of the game is that you can skip a turn to make all the characters attack right after each other, multiple times, drinving up the combo meters. I’m not sure if it’s something the game simply didn’t tell me or if it was something I missed, but it’s pretty essential for the final battles.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    It’s pretty cool that he and his brother can connect through games. Between me and my brother, I think I was more into video games, but I remember watching him play through some games when we were younger. With that in mind, I don’t find it surprising that I enjoy watching Let’s Play videos nowadays.

    Last weekend I finished The Swapper, but I already got to blather about that on the review earlier this week so I’ll try not to repeat myself.

    This weekend, I thought I would be seeing my dad and brother, maybe lose a few games of pool, but that’s been put off so I have some free time. I could be responsible and do my laundry instead, but where’s the fun in that?

    I was considering buying Gunpoint on Steam, but I think this weekend I’ll try jumping back into Trine 2 instead. I finished the main game some time ago, but I have yet to play the expansion. They actually re-released the game today for some reason, but I got a free “upgrade” for already owning the DLC.

    The review for Remember Me also mentioned the film Moon, which I’ve already seen, but I’ve got the urge to watch it again.

  • PugsMalone

    I’m playing Cthulhu Saves the World. It’s funny as hell, and I’d never played an RPG where all the characters’ HP restores at the end of every battle, which introduced a whole new kind of strategy to me.

    Earthbound is a game that I dream about often, which makes sense because it’s pretty incoherent. There’s a lot of story left unexplained (how the hell did Pokey get the favor of Giygas? What’s the Apple of Enlightenment?) and some really weird stuff like Moonside.

    • doyourealize

      I know they’re on opposite ends of the budget spectrum, but Final Fantasy XIII‘s battle system restored your HP after every battle, too. I like the effect it has on fighting. It makes every battle a hectic, strategic showdown with enemies that really could kill you, rather than just another battle in a long series of battles meant to test your stamina.

      That’s probably the only comparison between the two games, though.

    • neodocT

       Cthullu Saves the World is awesome! I have it sitting on my phone, got to finish that…

      And I love this recent trend of RPGs healing your characters after fights because it completely changes the rhythm of these fights. Like @doyourealize:disqus said, it makes them more hectic, and makes it worthwhile to use absolutely everything in your arsenal, instead of saving up the strongest spell for when you really need them and then just never using them.

    • http://twitter.com/Tim_Kraemer Tim Kraemer

      I suppose Pokey got promoted through the ranks the good old-fashioned way. Entry-level position in Giygas Co. with the Happy Happyists, then promoted to managing Monotoli, then… well, the next time he pops up is with Giygas himself, so I figure there must have been a few more positions in between.

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

         I could do with an “Ender’s Shadow”-esque companion game to Earthbound that follows Pokey’s ascent.

  • aklab

    I just got off a three-hour stretch of Thomas Was Alone. Tried it out of curiosity (and because it was in last week’s Humble Bundle) and it’s been a surprisingly great experience!

    This weekend I’ll be sittin’ around while a tropical storm drops buckets of water outside, so I’ll probably get back to some Xbox Minecraft. The kids can play with me in that one!

    Now for a quick run through Proteus before bed…

    • vinnybushes

       If you haven’t tried little inferno yet, it’s absolutely brilliant. The best three hours I have ever spent burning stuff and watching free to play games get eviscerated. It totally made the humble bundle worthwhile for me. I’ll have to try out Thomas Was Alone.

      • aklab

        Oh yeah. I burned through Little Inferno in one sitting a few weeks ago. Still bought the bundle for everything else though.

      • CrabNaga

        Thomas Was Alone was the complete opposite experience that I was expecting. I was totally expecting some melodramatic art game about feelings and instead I got a fun game with amusing British voiceovers about feelings. Some parts of the game seem like a bit of a slog, though. It’s surprisingly long.

        Little Inferno is pretty good so far. I think I’m on catalog 4 now, and hope that it doesn’t get too repetitive for me to get to the end (which is strange because the entire game is repetition).

        • vinnybushes

           All I’ll say is, the last hour of that game is a doozy.

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

        I think we all recently bought that Humble Bundle; I’m also playing Thomas Was Alone and Little Inferno, and I’ve gotta try out Proteus. Good stuff. 

    • boardgameguy

      I’m struggling a bit with Little Inferno because in spite of poking fun at free to plays ad it’s own repititiveness, I’m feeling that monotony acutely. I’ll likely return to it because I’m funny about finishing games, but I can’t say I find it more than amusing.

      Thomas Was Alone, on the other hand, was a delight because of the narration. The puzzles and platforms aren’t really complicated, so it was more fun to trace the arcs of our rogue AI.

      • aklab

        It really becomes worth it to finish Little Inferno, even though it’s super repetitive. 

        You’re so right about Thomas Was Alone. I loaded it expecting another moody, “artsy” platformer (which, don’t get me wrong, I love) and was very pleasantly surprised. 

        • boardgameguy

          thanks for the reinforcement to get through little inferno. i’ll keep burning away then.

  • Citric

    I just finished Spec Ops The Line!

    THAR BE SPOILARZ

    So I made Walker kill himself because he somewhat couldn’t be redeemed, just went too far and there was only one thing I could do about it. It’s an interesting game, since it’s constantly telling you that you should turn it off, so as to not be culpable in the various war crimes you’re committing. I wasn’t as affected by the white phosphorous as most, it was the scenes after, where he hooks up with Riggs and just goes along with him, completely unquestioning, and proves that he hasn’t actually learned anything from what he just did. But then, of course he didn’t learn, you’re still playing.

    END SPOILAZ

    So now what? 

    DS: 999 – So many words, but since I hate the Sand Temple in Spirit Tracks so much (and forgot to save and have to redo a section) it’s what I’m doing. A certain person just went kablooey, so I’m moving swiftly ahead.

    PSP: Ys Seven – Okay this has been going for a while, but it’s moving ahead slowly. In the wind bit, I like this part very much, though I can’t remember where I’m supposed to go – just rotated some fans.

    PS3: MGR:Revengeance – Just started, but it feels like Bayonetta Gear Solid. Awesome.

    PS2: Digital Devil Saga – Stupid red eyed statues that I don’t notice and arrgh. I’ll probably gain a ton of levels here at least.

    MISC: Legend of Mana – Haven’t done much in a while, but I think I’ll do some this weekend.

    • vinnybushes

       999 will take precedence over everything else if it hasn’t already. I lost an entire weekend to that game.

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

      Man, I love the insane appropriation of Hindu mythology in Digital Devil Saga.  It’s unlikely, but with Atlus turning various SMT games into anime (Persona 4, Devil Survivor 2, and an upcoming film series based on Persona 3), I reeeeaaally want them to do the same with DDS.

      • Citric

        I also love how they went “we need to make this series more commercial, let’s put in a bizarre repressed post-apocalyptic future and lots of cannibalism, that’s what kids go for.”

        Shine on you crazy mythology loving diamonds.

      • Simon Jones

         Digital Devil Saga is glorious because it is a game that just ends up all out breaking with SMT insanity. The end of the second game is kind of not where I saw that going.

        Though I could have done without the surprise Jamaican.

        However, the king of obscure SMT mythology use is the Raidou series, where the Disc One baddies are

        SPOIL SPOIL SPOIL

        All the aboriginal gods who still lurk around in Japanese mythology and are pissed about being reduced to obscure Aboriginal gods.

        One of them is a tiny god of medicene who rides around inside the mouth of an elderly japanese man like it’s a car for tiny men.

        • duwease

          To be fair, anyone who saw the end of the second game coming needs to be put in some sort of institution for the criminally insane.

          That’s not a criticism, I thought the ending was awesome, just… wow.

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

           @duwease:disqus Dang, I never finished the second one.  Guess I’ll slot that into my SMT rotation after I’m done with P4G!

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Here there be talk of Spec Ops (yarrr).

      Personally, I feel the “turn off the game” type moralizing is the weakest aspect/interpretation of Spec Ops‘ message. First, I think the game doesn’t do a good job distinguishing whether or not it considers itself as a stand-in for other modern war games when it suggests that the player stop playing. Second, I think this type of message suggests some kind of equivalency between real violence and fictional violence via video games. Whether or not people support those kinds of games commercially is a relevant issue, but Spec Ops‘s focus on violence seems to overwhelm that side of things.

      In comparison, I think the implicit criticisms of other modern war games are spot-on. I feel like I’m just repeating points made in this video, but I especially agree with its criticisms of how other games lionize military action and the moral certitude of their protagonists. It also seems to have a more realistic idea of how violence affects those we expect to commit that violence; it’s the only one I remember playing to recognize the possibility of PTSD in its protagonists.

      Personally, I chose to let Walker live. Not because I felt he had learned from his experiences, so to speak, but I have two views on the matter. If I consider myself sympathetic with Walker, as an extension of myself as the player, then suicide seems like the “easy” way out, and it means that the game is over. If I consider Walker a separate entity to be judged, then I think it’s more important that he lives so he can contextualize the events in Dubai to others and face punishment for his actions.

      • Citric

        I don’t think it’s moralizing or trying to put a false equivalency, I think it’s just another part of the critique on other shooters. You’re doing terrible things because the game sets it up as the thing you’re supposed to do at that instance, and it makes that explicit several times. It’s really no different than taking on all the cannon fodder of Uncharted in that way, except that Spec Ops deliberately makes those actions heinous and explicitly reminds you – and Walker – always have the choice to walk away. You and Walker also don’t walk away, and continue on the path without considering it – you because you’ve bought this shooter and want to see it through, Walker because he is constantly convinced it’s what he has to do at any given time, as he constantly ignores cues that he might be in the wrong at any given moment.

        As for keeping him alive, I don’t think he could contextualize what happen, he’s so delusional I’m not sure he even knows what happened. It’s the easy way out, but he’s so broken that might be the only way out that makes sense.If any of the above is nonsense it is past my bedtime.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          I won’t say “stop playing this game/these games” is the main message of the game, but a fair amount of the final scenes about “walking away” seem to put a lot of weight on the idea, and it seems common for people to interpret those scenes as a criticism of the player.

          It seems we disagree, but it feels like the game is suggests an equivalence between playing the game with actual violence when it talks about the choice to walk away for Walker and the player, even if it doesn’t intend to do so. If Walker could walk away from Dubai, being unable because the game is designed that way, he could have avoided committing war crimes. If I walk away from the game, all I avoid is a few hours of video games. At the end, Konrad seems pretty angry about the fact that I didn’t choose to do so, and the fact that he’s using the same words to criticize Walker (for violence) and the player (for playing) creates the feeling of equivalence.

          In my mind, playing modern military shooters is itself morally neutral, even if those games contain toxic political messages. An audience of the appropriate age still has the ability to interpret and criticize the messages within the games they play; not playing them also means that criticism would come from a place of ignorance.

          Also, this comment: “You and Walker also don’t walk away, and continue on the path without considering it”. It suggests that players aren’t considering what they’re doing when they’re playing the game, but I’d say I’ve given it a lot of consideration: I’m playing a game. Any resemblance to actual violence is intentional, but in no way does it make me culpable for actual violence.

        • Citric

          @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus I don’t think it’s making you culpable for actual violence, or anything other than just continuing the story, it’s just part of the overall thrust of the story, which deals with a man who is constantly acting as though he doesn’t have a choice, and is constantly trying to deflect the blame for his actions, when he has had a choice the entire time. I think bringing the player into it is just using the medium to its advantage – in game, Walker could choose to stop but never does, and if you wanted to stop him you could also choose to stop. It’s not a perfect setup and they do get heavy-handed at certain points – the “If you were a better person” loading screens – but I think it’s an interesting way of contextualizing some pretty terrible decisions by Walker, and actually doing something with the fact that you’re using interactive entertainment.

          And hell, we can actually have a reasonable debate on the subject, which is always good.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          @Citric:disqus

          If I had to summarize my point from a different perspective, let’s just say the designers made a few directorial decisions that I don’t agree with because I think they imply a weaker message than they may have intended. If that message was their intent, though, I would disagree for completely different reasons.

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

        Personally, I think The Line works better as a deconstruction of the myth of the all-American hero than as a critique of modern military shooters. The all-American hero exists in an imaginary, consequence-free vacuum. It’s where Walker thinks he is at the game’s outset, and he refuses to let himself believe that he’s not there later in the game, despite all evidence to the contrary, because heroes, as portrayed by our media and our storytelling traditions, don’t have to worry about moral repercussions. In my view, The Line criticizes modern military shooters only to the extent that these games contribute to such mythologizing.

        • a_scintillating_comment

          Interesting. Very well put.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          True, the game does have wider applicability than I mentioned. I’ll probably lead with that in the future, if it comes up again, although the “all-American” bit is a little funny if you consider that Modern Warfare mostly puts you in British shoes.

          The game does carry at least one implicit criticism that only applies to games, though: moral choices. It’s brought up in the video I posted, but in most games the way moral choices work suggests that everything else is a neutral if not good act in terms of the setting. Harvesting Little Sisters is evil, but saving them is good, and looting and shooting your way through Rapture is just how you get from point A to point B. In Spec Ops, it tries to turn that on its head; after a certain point, everything you must do to progress could be considered an “evil” act, contrasted with multiple moral choices that are largely irrelevant for one reason or another.

    • neodocT

       I also stopped playing Spirit Tracks because of the Sand Temple! It took me a long while to get back into the game, and when I finally did I had forgotten how to climb back up the Spirit Tower (or whatever it was called…)

      But I love, love, love 999. I probably spent way too long playing, replaying, finishing all the endings and then wasting my time arguing about the game online. It’s great stuff, and I can’t wait to try the sequel.

    • zzyzazazz

      Spec Ops Spoilers

      I just finished Spec Ops this week too. I let Konrad shoot me, and when my girlfriend who was watching me play asked why I didn’t shoot him, I had to tell her that I didn’t know. I then went back and shot Konrad, and then went away with the soldiers, and that felt about as close as I was going to get to a “happy ending”. I played everything from joining up to Riggs to the end in one sitting, so I left feeling pretty drained.

      Oddly, one of the most memorable moments came from a loading screen. I died once in the final chapter, and instead of a gameplay hint, the loading screen simply informed me “you are still a good person.” After a few more deaths I saw a few more of these strange tips, but it was this first one that had the most punch.

      So now I’m recommending this game to everybody. I think it’s something that everybody needs to experience. The gameplay isn’t the strongest, but that barely maters in the face of everything else.

  • caspiancomic

    Aagh! This guy stole one of my dream projects, and had the nerve to actually follow through on it as opposed to just thinking it was a neat idea to get around to eventually! I know this is already well over funded, but I’ve got to get in on this, this is a project I’ve always wanted to see happen.

    (Ken, if you’re reading this, hit me up! I’d knock one of these books out of the park!)

    Oh, and this weekend I’ll be re-re-re-re-replaying Bastion. I’m also keen to have another Game Theory article out… tomorrow if I can manage it.

  • Enkidum

    I just got KOTOR for the iPad, because I’ll be spending about 20 hours in flight over a two week period, so why not? I’ve never played it before, but have played ME1 and DAO1 and NWN, and it’s like a rougher draft of those in most ways so far (I haven’t completed many missions yet, still farting around on the upper levels). Bioware, you don’t really move out of your comfort zone, do you?

    Might slog a bit more through Persona 3, but it is kind of sloggy. I’m playing on Hard, and there’s just too much chance involved in whether I’m going to make it through 5 levels of Tartarus in order to reach the next useful save point.

    And I got the latest Humble Bundle, which I really haven’t dived into yet, but it looks fun.

    • Drew Toal

      I’m replaying KotOR myself. For, I guess, the third or fourth time.

    • ProfFarnsworth

      KotOR is one of the best games put forth by Bioware.  It is also one of the few RPG’s that I ever felt “completed” around the 25 hour mark.

      • Drew Toal

        Yeah. I still remember the first time I played it, back in, I guess, 2004? I got totally sucked in, and just sat at my computer playing it for hours on end, for days. At one point, my housemate Alex walked past my door, looked in, and saw me huddled in the same spot he had seen me probably 24 hours before, in exactly the same position. He didn’t understand that I was paralyzed with having to make the game’s BIG decision.

        • ProfFarnsworth

          I was in a similar predicament.  I recently replayed it, and my whole experience was turned upside down.  I really found it quite comical that so many decisions that were made by the “dark” side were merely to be a jerk. I found the more interesting and deeper feelings of using power and the consequences of seeking power to be way over my head the five or six times I played as a teenager.  I hope your play-through is enjoyable and the bugs keep away.

        • Citric

          I’ve heard this story before, though the names are all wrong.

          Seriously, a guy I know did the same thing, a 25 hour KOTOR blitz, except in someone else’s house, and he took off his pants part-way through.

        • vinnybushes

           I did the exact same thing as well. Start to finish practically in one sitting. It’s like the lays of video games. Or methamphetamine. Time loses all meaning once you hear its siren call.

        • a_scintillating_comment

          What the hell is with this game? I did the exact same thing guys. Not without pants and while overstaying my welcome a bit–taking off the pants was probably the line?–but 14 hours straight on some friday night/saturday morning.

          I’m not even a star wars fan, but to this day I haven’t done that with any other game.

    • indy2003

      How well does KOTOR work on the iPad? I’ve been wanting to play it for a while now, but haven’t really had the opportunity to do so.

      • Enkidum

        Surprisingly well. It takes a while to get used to the swipe movement controls, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty intuitive. I haven’t played the original to compare, but it seems a very good port so far.

  • George_Liquor

    Frustrating to think that paying 150+ bucks on eBay for a used copy of Earthbound s still the only legal way to play it. Even more frustrating to think that its only Virtual Console appearance will be on the Wii U, actually making eBay the cheaper option. It’s times like this that I wish I grew up with a SNES. I love the Genesis, don’t get me wrong, but so few of its games are nearly as sought after as Earthbound, Chrono Trigger etc.

    • aklab

      Jesus H. Christ! Used copies of Earthbound are going for $150?! 
      *fondles copy of Earthbound in giant-ass box*

      • George_Liquor

        Did I say Dollars? I meant Pesos. Yeah, that’s it. Hardly worth the trouble of putting it on eBay, really. That big box is probably just cluttering up the place, causing a big headache for you, right? Well heck, I’m feeling charitable, I’ll even take it off your hands for 200 pesos. ‘Cause that’s the great kinda guy I am!

        • aklab

          Only if you’ll take the strategy guide that comes with it, too…

        • George_Liquor

          You drive a hard bargain, my friend.

          In all seriousness, if it’s complete in box, it’s worth significantly more than 150 bucks. Depending on condition, complete copies sell from $400-$600. Sealed copies can sell for over a grand.

        • aklab

          Wow. I just moved and found a box with all of my original SNES game boxes, manuals, etc. (The cartridges were all unready unpacked, of course, although my sister still has half of them in a game-sharing scheme dating back decades.) 
          Looking them all up on ebay is kind of mind-boggling! I have pretty much every JRPG I could get my hands on in those days.*

          *You know, for fondlin’.

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

        Fondled copies go for significantly less.

        • Enkidum

          I thought he meant copies that fondle. Those are worth a pretty penny, my friend.

        • doyourealize

          I first read this as, “I fondled copied for significantly less.”

    • Citric

      I don’t get why Nintendo of America hates that series so much.They should have just released the GBA carts here years ago, the first two Mother games are already translated by Nintendo and they did the port anyway. Then right now they could do 3DS VC and all would be happy.

      • George_Liquor

        Did Nintendo officially translate Mother? I thought the only English language version was a fan-made ROM hack.

        • Simon Jones

          AH!

          That version of Mother for the NES is not actually a fan hack but rather an unreleased official translation.

        • Citric

          Actually, that hack was an official NoA prototype with a couple modifications – new title screen, disabling the anti-piracy stuff triggered by accident. Lost Levels even confirmed it with the guy who did the translation, who said he was the one who put in the (totally necessary) run button. Also, all of the graphics changes were in the Mother 1+2 bundle for GBA (the crows no longer smoke).

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

        I don’t think it’s ‘hate’ so much as a constellation of difficulty factors that they felt weren’t worth navigating (until the Wii U, apparently). The most notable being the issues with sampling/appropriation in the soundtrack to Mother 2, probably.
        There’s also the issues of cultural appropriacy with the Magypsies in Mother 3, and obscurity not justifying the production and sale of GBA carts for the M1+2 collections or M3 (since the system was already obsolete at the time, cartridges cost more to produce than disks, and the series wasn’t really a top-tier, must-buy series that could overcome those hurdles).

        • Citric

          I’ve heard that the music cues were a flimsy excuse concocted by someone else, though I can’t remember the source on that. Even if they are the reason, it’s an easy workaround and most of the work is done already. Mother 1+2 was also released in 2003, and there was always a market for it, and not even a small one – Earthbound fans are pretty intense, that thing would have sold out, and since they own Nintendo Power they knew there was a demand.

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

          Earthbound fans may be intense, but I don’t think they’re especially numerous. Releasing the GBA releases of the three games would have been selling to a niche (a niche that was even smaller then, as the fandom seems to have increased markedly in zeal and size since the well-publicized controversy around Mother 3′s non-release and Mother 2′s non-presence on the VC), on a system that was already obsolete at that point. And they would be releasing a series whose only prior US release was a financial failure -maybe a ‘lost’ Zelda or Mario for GBA would have made it out (though I imagine it would just be ported to DS in that case), but there was no reason to believe a Mother game would be worth that gamble.

          Would I have preferred if they released it? Yep. Would I have bought it if they released it? Yep. Do I think the decision not to release it in cartridge form was completely unjustified and indicative of some kind of irrational hatred of the IP? Nope. I think it’s a combination of unfortunate timing, possibly legit copyright concerns, and a bit of Hanlon’s razor.

          I mean, do you honestly think it’s more likely that Nintendo of America “hates that series”? What does that even actually mean?

        • PugsMalone

          A Nintendo spokesman has gone on record saying that the music is going to be completely unchanged for the VC version, though.

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

          @PugsMalone:disqus That’s a relief! I mean, not that I can even buy or play that version. But I’m glad it’s untampered-with!

        • Citric

          Mother 1+2 was not on an obsolete system, it came out pre-DS, and it required pretty much no work since both games were already translated. They also had a lot of pent up demand, and were routinely part of the “most wanted” list in their own magazine. A regular print run would have made a profit. There’s no real reason not to release it, unless you’re bitter about the series for some unknown reason.

          I can understand Mother 3, disappointed as I was, it was at the bitter end of the GBA’s life and would require some changes for a North American audience. But Mother 1+2 would have easily made a profit in 2003, when it came out.

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

          I’m kind of conflating things. Mother 1+2 came out when the GBA was viable, but also well before there was such a large (or, more accurately, vocal) wellspring of fan support for the series on-line. So it was a re-issue of a pair of games, half of which has never been released on the US, and one of which had fared poorly. It doesn’t take an irrational hatred of the property to decide, eh, let’s not bring that over.

          Mother 3 came out after the DS had been released, and when Nintendo was putting their full support behind that system.

          It seems patently silly to ascribe some sort of “bitterness” to a large corporation, especially towards one of its IPs. How could a company harbor “bitterness” or “anger” toward a game series? (And even if there’s some personified Nintendo homunculus chained up in Redmond that experiences emotions on behalf of the company, why would it have more irrational rage for Earthbound than for, say, the Sonic games regularly being released on Nintendo systems at the time?)

          The only choice that is baffling to me is the non-release of Mother 2 on VC, since that would have required zero investment or manufacturing costs and could have only made them money. But considering the arbitrarily limited library available on VC, anyway, I don’t think NOA ‘hates’ Earthbound anymore than they ‘hate’ any of the other countless other titles not included (does NOA ‘hate’ Yoshi’s Island?) thanks to their perfunctory/lazy handling of the VC system.

    • Nudeviking

      Super angry at self for moving to the opposite side of the world and telling younger brother, “Yeah you can keep all the SNES games…I don’t have room in my suitcase for them.  Just give me those Final Fantasy Legend games you have for Game Boy and we’ll call it even…”

  • Fluka

    After much wandering in deep woods, I find myself on the shore of a Midwestern lake this weekend for a work meeting.  No gaming, as I’m in for few days of drinking beer, burning stuff on bonfires, and giving Powerpoint presentations.

    That said, I installed Crusader Kings II on my laptop, so the plane ride home is going to be awesomely fratricidal!

    • George_Liquor

      You’re going to murder your brother on a plane? 

      • Fluka

        No, my bastard son is going to murder my *other* bastard son on the plane.

        • George_Liquor

          OK, I gotcha. Still, might want to have them do it in the lavatory or something. Otherwise you might get thrown off the flight.

        • ProfFarnsworth

          You should probably also bring wipes.  Messes are NOT appreciated by Planet Express Commercial Airways, or Plan Am, Staff!

    • vinnybushes

       Enjoy your seatmates staring at you as you burst out laughing after the flying machine piloted by your inbred hunchback illegitimate son plummets off a cliff.

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

        For some strange reason, I have a mental image of a very cute, very large grey cat wearing steampunk goggles and pedalling an ornithopter.

        • Fluka

          This is the best mental image.

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        Is there some sort of Google-Translate-and-then-retranslate version of Game of Thrones I’m not aware of?

        “What do you know about being an illegitimate son?”
        “I’m an inbred hunchback. We’re all illegitimate sons in our fathers’ eyes.”

        • vinnybushes

           There is a very good reason there’s an exhaustively compiled Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

    A 33 1/3 series for games sounds potentially amazing.  I’m immensely curious about that first run of books Ken mentions, as much by who would be writing them as by which games may have been selected.  There are a number of writers here on Gameological that I feel could sustain a (tiny) book-length treatise on meaningful games, both in the bylines and in the comments ( @Fluka:twitter , this is the time for your big Mass Effect pitch!).  

    However–and I may be spectacularly stupid here–I don’t even know what most of the feature writers consider their favorite games.  The links to author bios are nice and everything, but they don’t tell me much at a glance.  Is there a secret “stat sheet” page that I’m missing for Drew, Anthony, John, et al. where such miniscule yet vital details are collected?  What’s that?  You’re saying I have to actually read all their articles, reviews, news items and minutiae and infer their favorite games of all time from the occasional scraps of personal history they care to share?  Oh.  Well…do I at least get achievement points for that?

    Playing this weekend…it ought to be something big and complicated and cranny-filled (Skyrim, Arkham City, etc.), but it’ll probably just be more Marvel Pinball tables on Pinball FX2Not to brag or anything, but I actually made #60 on the leaderboards for the Avengers table earlier this week.  I’ve probably already dropped out of the top 100, but it felt damn good when it happened.  And when you’ve had the kind of 2013 I’ve had so far, you’ll take your feeling good where you can get it.

    • Drew Toal

      Weirdly, I’ve never really thought about my favorite games of all time. But if I had to pick five, in no particular order, it would probably go something like Skyrim, Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect 2, Wing Commander III, Final Fantasy VII? That’s just off the top of my head. I’ll let you know later if the list needs amending.

      • Enkidum

        And KOTOR isn’t even on the list? Based on your comment above, you must REALLY love you those other games.

        • Drew Toal

          You could probably switch it in for any of them. I actually really love KotOR II as well, bugs, gaping plot holes and all.

        • vinnybushes

           You can’t come between a man and his Chrono Trigger. Bad things tend to happen.

        • Citric

          I’m considering giving Chrono Trigger a replay because last time I tried it I didn’t like it very much. Maybe going through it a decade later will change my mind.

        • djsubversive

          @andrewtoal:disqus huzzah, KoTOR 2! Have you tried the Restored Content Mod yet? It adds back in a lot of the cut stuff, some of which was obviously cut for a reason – Nar Shaddaa in particular has a whole bunch of extra filler combat when you’re doing the Jekk-Jekk Tarr section.

          The non-filler-battle restored content is pretty neat, though. The HK Droid Factory on Telos is fun, thanks to you running through with HK-47, and the HK-50s being comically inept sometimes. It’s not on the level of “HK, what is love?” But then, what is?

          Answer: Many organic meatbags find that question difficult to answer,
          Master, but I believe I can provide you with a satisfactory definition. Definition: ‘Love’ is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Statement: This definition, I am told, is subject to interpretation. Obviously, love is a matter of odds. Not many meatbags could make such a shot, and strangely enough, not many meatbags would derive love from it. Yet for me, love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticule, and together, achieving a singular purpose… against statistically long odds.

          (no, that wasn’t all from memory. i’m not THAT crazy)

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

      Well, what are your top 5 games of all time, @MattmanBegins:disqus?

      Alright, this is now the official top 5 games of all time thread. Mine are: Worms 2; Commander Keen in Goodbye, Galaxy!, Episode 4: Secret of the Oracle*; RollerCoaster Tycoon; Psychonauts; aaaannnnndddddd … Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

      Just kidding,@Effigy_Power:disqus. :P That last one is Deus Ex.

      *I could have just said Commander Keen IV, but this is more fun.

      • Jackbert

        1) Persona 3 Portable
        2) The World Ends With You
        3) Deus Ex: Human Revolution
        4) Infamous 2
        5) I can’t decide.

      • ProfFarnsworth

        1) Alpha Protocol
        2) Star Wars: KotOR I & II
        3) Dragon Age I & II
        4) Legend of Dragoon
        5) Legend of LeGaia (I have a distinct memory that this was on the SNES, but a quick google search says no)

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

        1) Final Fantasy VI
        2) Star Control 2
        3) Pandora Directive
        4) Mega Man 2
        5) Persona 3

        Honourable mentions: Mario 64, Ratchet and Clank Going Commando, Portal 1/2, Rock Band, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Quest VIII, ActRaiser, Phoenix Wright, Link to the Past, and many more…

      • Bureaupath

        1) UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM (1994) 
        2) Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (1997)
        3) Zelda: Wind Waker (2003)
        4) SimCity, SNES version (1991)
        5) Galaga (1981) 

        These are all games that I would go back and play and have gone back to play many times. I have UFO: EU on a USB stick so I can play it almost anywhere. The hardest one to decide was which SimCity, since I loved 2K and 4, but I have to go back to the one I first picked up, and I feel they definitely gave the SNES version an awesome Nintendo-fied personality (which makes me wish for more Nintendo-fied PC games). And Galaga’s just my goto game anytime I’m in an arcade.

        Honorable Mentions: Darklands, SimCity 2k & 4, Master of Orion, Civ II, FF V & VI, Powerstone 2

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

          I loved the SNES SimCity. Another good PC port was Lemmings. It has one of the most friendship-killing multiplayer modes of all time. 

      • Gameological Society Commenter

        That’s a tough one @Merve2:disqus. My top 5 would look something like this:

        1) Super Mario Bros. 3
        2) Mega Man 2
        3) Metroid
        4) A Link To The Past
        5) The Binding of Isaac

        Honorable mention to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it will need a few more years and some nostalgia before I can further inflate my perception of how much I enjoyed it. Only then will it possibly have a chance of breaking into the top 5.

      • duwease

        I think my list would change based on time of day, mood, flukes of memory, amount of coffee ingested.. but this is what comes to mind right now:

        1. Sam & Max Hit The Road
        2. Planescape: Torment
        3. Final Fantasy VI
        4. Super Mario 64 (mind blown when it came out)
        5. This is where it gets hard.. the Duels of the Planeswalkers series?  I’ve certainly put in hundreds of hours in the last couple years..

      • doyourealize

        Can’t resist a list!

        1. Demon’s Souls
        2. Final Fantasy XII
        3. Morrowind
        4. Shining Force
        5. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

        I could probably put Dark Souls and other FFs in there, but we’ll keep it to the best of the series.

        And yes, I like fantasy.

        • Kyle O’Reilly

           Demon Souls better than Dark Souls?  Them’s fighting words.  And by fighting words, I mean an opinion I do not share but would be interested in hearing you elucidate.

        • doyourealize

          @kyleoreilly:disqus I know that Dark Souls is better in almost every aspect of what a game should be, and I love it. My love of Demon’s Souls, though, has nothing to do with all that. Demon’s Souls was just the perfect game at the perfect time for me. I was unemployed (subbing sometimes), and looking for something I could spend way too much time with. I called GameStop on the day of its release, and the first few didn’t have anything. I found one they wouldn’t reserve for me about a half-hour away, so I got in the car and hoped they didn’t sell their one copy before I got there. They didn’t, and I spent the next year in Boletaria.

          In other words, Dark Souls is a better game, but Demon’s Souls has that sentimental value. Corny? Yes. But I’m sticking to it!

        • indy2003

          I also prefer Demon Souls – my experience with it was considerably richer and more satisfying than my experience with Dark Souls, though that probably says more about me than either game. I also love the atmosphere of Demon’s Souls to no end – there was something extremely comforting about visiting with the assorted residents of The Nexus between harrowing visits to deadly areas. I realize that Dark Souls is a “better” game in many ways, but it dug into me on an emotional level the way its predecessor did.

        • djsubversive

           Ico and Shadow of the Colossus sort of count as one, don’t they? it’s the same(ish) setting, sort of, maybe (if you squint and assume hundreds of years between the games, in either order).

          Both of them are awesome, is what I’m getting at here. :)

      • Cloks

        1.) Shining Force
        2.) Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga
        3.) Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
        4.) Commander Keen
        5.) Fallout: New Vegas

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

          Wow, several mentions of Commander Keen. I played that game so much back in 1994 or thereabouts. I don’t know if I would rank it as a “favorite” except out of nostalgia, but I sure loved it back then.

        • Cloks

          @WarrenPeace325:disqus My list is mostly nostalgia; Commander Keen was probably the first videogame that I played and it holds a very special place in my heart.

      • indy2003

        1)Super Mario Bros. 3

        2)Mass Effect 2
        3)Demon’s Souls
        4)Dragon Age: Origins
        5)Super Mario Galaxy 1/2

        • a_scintillating_comment

          Hah, that space is there to emphasize how far behind the other four are?

        • indy2003

          @a_scintillating_comment:disqus Heh – no, just me/my computer/Disqus being stupid. But Super Mario Bros. 3 is nonetheless an amazing game.

      • aklab

        1) Final Fantasy VI *
        2) Half-Life 2
        3) Super Metroid
        4) Final Fantasy Tactics
        5) Minecraft

        *or Chrono Trigger. Nah, FF6. …well, maybe CT.

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

        I’ve never been good this sort of thing (and not just with pop culture – I’ve never been the type to demarcate a ‘best friend’ from my social circle, or identify any place I’ve lived or time of my life as the unequivocal ‘best’).

        When I think ‘Top 5′ my first instinct is to go towards those few games I’ve had pretty much uniformly, unambiguously positive experiences with, but that tends toward a fairly cliched list of highly polished, uncontroversial, semi-shallow choices – largely Mario and Zelda games, MegaMan, and LucasArts adventures.

        When I think of games I’ve found most kind of engaging or interesting, those have typically been games I felt ambiguous enough about to turn over in my head a fair bit, and that ambiguity often stems from a combination of ambitious, interesting creative choices alongside some glaring flaws. Which makes them seem inappropriate to include on a ‘Top 5.’ Pathologic is certainly more interesting to me in a lot of ways than, say, Mario 3, but I don’t know if it’s a ‘Top 5′ kind of interesting, especially since it’s such a clusterfuck.

        • aklab

          I also can’t make arbitrary distinctions in life like “best friends” or “favorite colors” or whatever. But I think that just makes me love pop-culture lists all the more, because it’s something you can quantify and have control over with no real consequences.

          My top 5 above also happens to correlate with total hours played, so you could always use that measure. Although a “top 5 games that blew your mind the first time you played them” might be more interesting.  

        • Kyle O’Reilly

           The thing about Top 5 is that it’s supposed to be some “written in stone like the ten commandments” style declaration but usally it’s just reflective of the author’s mood at the moment.

          Electronic Gaming Monthly made a huge flubbub back when they crowned Super Metroid the greatest game of all time over others like Tetris and Mario.  Super Metroid isn’t the best game of all time, they just thought it was at the moment.

          But none of this touches on how fun it is to make, read and argue about lists, which is why I supposed whoever invented Buzzfeed is on the list of top 20 “rich as fuck for doing pretty much nothing” people.

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

          Possibly because they’re so simple a phenomenon, I have no qualms ranking colors: 1.) olive green, 2.) brick red, 3.) gold.

          “Hours played” wouldn’t work for me, as I’ve sunk so many hours into so many samey JRPGs that haven’t really stuck with me, and, as documented in these very comment threads, I have a masochistic relationship with Bioware where I’ll play through their hours-long games despite not enjoying them very much. Conversely, I’ve played Jason Rohrer’s “Passage” for probably less than an hour total, but would probably count it as more interesting and enjoyable than most/all of those time-intensive RPGS…

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

          For some reason Disqus deletes [Kyle O'Reilly's] name whenever I try to “at” him.
          I tend to overthink things, and consequently don’t do well with “mood in the moment” kind of stuff (which is why I’m total pants at extemporaneous speaking, improv comedy, twitch-gaming, and driving). Any spur of the moment list would immediately be subjected to my own second-guessing and lamenting of stuff I’d left off.

          I think I’d do better at lists with narrower criteria. Just as when, say, grading students you have a specific rubric of expectations and don’t just declare the “top 5 best papers,” I could see ranking games according to narrower criteria like “best story” “best art direction” “most affecting” “best marriage of mechanics and content” etc. But simply “best” is…paralyzing.

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

          @kyleoreilly:disqus 

        • aklab

          Looks like I’ll be playing some Passage today. Thanks!

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

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus Fool!  Brick red is DEFINITELY better than olive green.  And not even a mention of royal purple?  Turn in your eyes, sir.

      • neodocT

        1) Dark
        Souls

        2) Portal

        3) Majora’s
        Mask

        4) Braid

        5) Super
        Smash Bros. Melee

        But limiting the list to just five is so not enough! I mean, what about Morrowind, and Chrono Trigger and Metroid Prime and Super Metroid and Final Fantasy Tactics and Super Mario World and 64 and Galaxy 2 and The Binding of Isaac and KOTOR 1 and 2 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy and…

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        1) Wasteland!
        2) Wing Commander 3
        3) KotOR
        4) Mass Effect Series (Yes, all 3, warts and all)
        5) Below the Root (First non-violent platformer I ever played, based on kids’ book series, and awesome music for a C64 game)

      • boardgameguy

        Video Games:
        1) Super Mario Bros. 3
        2) Braid
        3) Legend of Zelda
        4) Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
        5) Contra

        Board Games:
        1) Dungeon Lords
        2) Agricola
        3) Galaxy Trucker
        4) Ra
        5) Race for the Galaxy

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         No order:

        -Super Smash Bros Melee
        -Spelunky
        -Final Fantasy IX
        -Metal Gear Solid 3
        -Timesplitters 2

        With the exception of Spelunky and Super Smash Bros, that list would be entirely different if you asked me tomorrow.

        And by the way, how am I the only one who thought to bring up Smash Bros!?!?  It’s a flipping masterpiece!  It’s the greatest multiplayer game ever created.  It’s, It’s, It’s, It’s, It’s, It’s, *goes into Gob Bluth repetition seizure*

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

         Ugh, I hate “Top whatever” lists because my choices will change moment by moment.  But at this moment, let’s go with these:

        1) Persona 4 Golden
        2) Silent Hill 2
        3) Chrono Trigger
        4) Super Metroid
        5) We Love Katamari

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

        I’m gonna be the (semi) oddball here!

        1) Super Mario Bros. 3
        2) Red Faction (original flavor)
        3) Tiny Toons Adventure: Buster’s Hidden Treasure
        4) Portal 2
        5) Super Mario RPG: Seven Stars

        And I haven’t played it other than the first ten minutes, but I KNOW Bowser Inside Story WILL be on the list when I finally get to play it.

        • neodocT

           Bowser’s Inside Story is my favorite of the Mario and Luigi series by far. It doesn’t take much to outdo Partners in Time, but I felt BIS was even funnier than Superstar Saga.

      • Nudeviking

        1) Final Fantasy VI
        2) Mario Kart 64 (Battle Mode + Random Thrash metal albums)
        3) Ultima VI
        4) Mega Man 2
        5) Dynasty Warriors (Insert Random Number Here Since They Are All Pretty Much The Same Game)

      • ferrarimanf355

        1. Daytona USA 2
        2. San Francisco Rush 2049 (arcade version)
        3. Quake II
        4. NFL Blitz 2000
        5. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed

      • Citric

        Who doesn’t love a list?
        1-Binary Land
        2-Final Fantasy IX
        3-Silent Hill 2
        4-Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
        5-Vagrant Story

        (List subject to sudden changes. Binary Land is perfect though).

        • neodocT

           I really tried to get into Vagrant Story last year.  My thoughts were that the setting and plot were fantastic, but I just couldn’t get used to the battle system and the browness of the game. It’s not something I’m proud of… so maybe I’ll try again in a few years!

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        “All time” is a lot of time, man. I’d have trouble listing my top five breakfast cereals, much less video games or movies.

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

        I’m sure I’ll rethink this ten minutes from now, but I’ll say:

        1) Okami
        2) Ico/Shadow of the Colossus (can’t decide between them)
        3) The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
        4) Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
        5) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

        Honorable Mentions: Thief, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Nanaca Crash, The Sims, Beyond Good and Evil, Just Cause 2, Psychonauts, Goldeneye (multiplayer)

      • Histamiini

        (1) Planescape: Torment
        (2) Ultima V
        (3) The Longest Journey
        (4) Mass Effect
        (5) NHL 94

      • djsubversive

        1. Fallout: New Vegas
        2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
        3. Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
        4. does Mask of the Betrayer count as a game? If not, then Neverwinter Nights 2, because it has Mask of the Betrayer.
        5. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

        Honorable mention: anything made by Black Isle, Troika, or Obsidian (yes, I know that 4/5 of that list is already Troika/Obsidian games). except maybe for Dungeon Siege 3, because it was sort of boring. and I liked the first 2 Dungeon Siege games!

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        Wow, you created a monster, @Merve2:disqus .  A wonderful, revealing, thread-shaped monster.  For me, as with many, it is nigh-impossible to confine it to five true set-in-stone favorites (I’ve been playing video games for nearly as long as I’ve been alive), but I’ll try for the most significant favorites I’ve encountered in my own life, in chronological order:

        1) Adventure (1979)
        2) Trinity (1986)
        3) Civilization II (1996)
        4) Planescape: Torment (1999)
        5) Mass Effect II (2010)

        That’s close to the first five I thought of, and I find it interesting that they progress–barring the visual-free outlier of Trinity–from top to right to left along Scott McCloud’s pyramid of abstract/iconic/realistic art analysis.  You could argue that that’s the path video games have generally “taken” (i.e. games are generally more “realistic” today because early limitations forced programmers to be more “abstract”)…but there have always been exceptions.  I just find it interesting that I’ve clearly had a progression of preference myself.

        Five more, because no one else could resist, either:  Contra (1987), Covert Action (1990), Star Control II (1992), Fallout 3 (2008), The Walking Dead (2012). 

        Also, I realized for the first time that Metal Gear (1987) is the same game as Adventure, only pushed down the “realism” side of McCloud’s pyramid.  And with fewer bats that steal your shit.

      • DrFlimFlam

        How did I miss this?!?!

        1 – Mass Effect 2
        2 – Chrono Cross
        3 – Dragon Age: Origins
        4 – Final Fantasy X
        5 – Advance Wars 2

      • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

        home
        1) Elite2) Revs
        3) North & South
        4) Portal
        5) Demon’s Souls

        arcade
        1) Ghosts n’ Goblins
        2) 1942
        3) Track & Field
        4) Star Wars
        5) Time Crisis II

    • duwease

      Man, I need to get back into FX2..  I made a major push at the overall leaderboards, but found out it was all basically just abusing the Paranormal table.  Which I then tried like a loser, but it eventually locked up about 10 hours into a long, grindy game and I just never went back.  Still, the siren song of mastering individual tables is strong..

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        Yeah, it’s feast or famine with FX2′s tables.  I got so obsessed with collecting all the Infinity Gems on Infinity Gauntlet that I burnt out on it pretty quickly.  Avengers hasn’t felt like that yet, maybe due to the curious phenomenon of each ball having its own characteristics.  I’m not talking about their bonuses or the characters each is supposed to represent; I’m saying that the colors on each ball actually make me play them differently. 

        Captain America’s ball, for example, I find very easy to follow up and down the table–with the stripes being where they are, it’s like following a basketball.  Switch the pattern and colors just slightly for Hawkeye, however, and I have real trouble keeping it from draining, let alone aiming at specific lanes.  I’m not colorblind, so it’s not that I can’t see the ball.  I’m wondering if it’s a mild form of synesthesia at work?  Like, “I see this color combination; subconsciously, that pattern belongs on THIS side of the table!”  I also wonder if anyone else is experiencing something similar. 

        Anyway, it’s strange enough that it’s kept me playing regularly, with some serious attendant benefits on the leaderboards.

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

      Ian Bogost is editing a series that’s kind of a 33 1/3 for hardware systems. It looks pretty rad, if incomplete at the moment.

      Apparently, there’s an NES one in the works (the person writing it did it as a doctoral dissertation here at VCU, and one of my professors who was on the committee snaked me a copy, which I have had zero time to read…).

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        Ooh, and Nick Montfort co-edited the series, he of the well-worthwhile Twisty Little Passages.  These sound like they stay on the fun side of erudite (is there a “fun” side to erudite?), and I couldn’t agree more with their selections for the Atari book. 

        Let me/us know if you ever get a chance to peruse that NES copy.  And thanks for that link.

        (Also, it sounds like one of your professors is on to your “secret life”.  Which is probably not that secret, come to think of it.  Surely they know that Gameological Commenter Supreme is your real job by now, right?)

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

    Wow, that’s an interesting passion project. I wonder if we’ll be seeing similar ones for the modern games he discusses in the interview – The Walking Dead, Spec Ops: The Line, and Kentucky Route Zero – in a decade or so. I mean, The Line already has Killing is Harmless, but I’d definitely want to read a detailed critical analysis of KRZ once all five acts have been released.

    I finished Remember Me yesterday, and I think I’m ready to put it in the flawed gem category along with games like Mirror’s Edge and Alpha Protocol. The game certainly has its flaws – oh God, that overwrought dialogue – but it does a number of things spectacularly well – the art direction and soundtrack, for instance. I know that the combat has been divisive, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It takes some getting used to, but once you become accustomed to it, it becomes a surprisingly strategic experience.

    I probably won’t have time for gaming this weekend, but if I do, I’ll continue my increasingly ridiculous adventures in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Saints Row: The Third. I think I’m getting bored of the side content in the former, so now that I’ve got the laser rounds for the Fazertron, I think I’m just going to power through to the end. As for the latter…

    …ZOMBIES?

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

    FUCK YOU, GAME.

    Needless to say, I will continue to play SR3 and blow shit up, because I’m weak and easily amused.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       Aw, I liked that there were zombies. Like, you could be dicking around on your hoverbike, accidentally crash on the zombie island, then have to fight your way back to the mainland.

      I did that one time and got Burt Reynolds to help, and I escaped by jumping the bridge in his trans am.

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

        I’m just tired of zombies, that’s all. And I’ve run into the no-homies bug, for which there’s no patch, but I’m too lazy to go into the save file with a hex editor and fix it. (And who knows what else that’ll fuck up?)

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

    Getting close to finishing Persona 4 Golden!  I’m into the new content in January/February, I have hit all Max Social Links (except Hunger but that’ll happen naturally later), everyone’s Personas are up to their new third forms, and my compendium has crept past 75% completion.  All the new stuff has been perfectly integrated, and none of it feels like filler.

    I’ve experienced this story a half dozen times already across previous  playthroughs and viewings of the anime, and I’m still happy to spend time with these characters.  What a great universe.

    • PaganPoet

      I wonder if it’s at all possible to do everything in a single playthrough of P4G. In my most recent, I was able to finish  all the Social Links and complete the compendium, but unable to read all the books or get more than a couple of the bike skills.

      I’m near the end of P3P as the female protagonist and similarly worried I won’t be able to finish all of the Social Links.

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

         I don’t think so, at least not until NG+.  This has been on my first playthrough in Golden, and I just barely hit all Social Links with a few days to spare.  I did max out my traits, but didn’t read all the books.  Factor in optional stuff like social scenes (taking friends to the movies or the hot springs, cultivating romances, etc.), then stuff like side quests and building all the model kits, I still have my doubts it can be done.

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

    These books sound fairly awesome, and this reminds me that there were a few 33 1/3 books I’d wanted to read, but that I’ve not gotten around to…

    I will likely continue cranking away at the interminable slog of Dragon Age, all the while wishing I was instead playing any of the fun games I downloaded in the latest Humble Bundle. Because my brain is broken, apparently.
    Also, I’ll be packing and prepping for the Games, Learning & Society conference next week. I’m pretty pumped, I’ve heard it’s kind of cool.

    • vinnybushes

       God I love Humble Bundles. Is it me, or do they keep getting better? I’m always surprised by the games they add part way in. It’s like Christmas morning when I open the e-mail from them.

    • Drew Toal

      There are some days I feel like I’m the only guy on Earth who likes the Dragon Ages. Yep. Both of em. 

      I HAVE GREAT SHAME!

      • ProfFarnsworth

        I absolutely love both Dragon Ages.  I felt that both have their strong points.  They both are great!

      • vinnybushes

         I haven’t put in much time with either dragon age, but I haven’t found anything to convince me I wouldn’t like the rest of it. I love me some story and worldbuilding.

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

        Hey, you think it’s hard being a Dragon Age lover? Try being a Jade Empire lover knowing that BioWare will probably never release a sequel. ;)

      • duwease

        I may play the second one next.. loved the first one, got scared by the bad reviews of the second.  But I’m starting to realize I liked the first one so much it’s worth a shot.

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

        Judging from all of your other comments in this thread, Bioware games seem to scratch some of your main gaming itches, so loving DA makes total perfect sense. 

        I, on the other hand, tend to find them maddening and invariably disappointing, but never seem to learn my lesson (I got DA2 with DA:O in a $10 bundle on Amazon, and I just KNOW I’ll play through that, too, eventually…).I do really like the ‘approval’ system in Dragon Age, and think it’s a HUGE improvement conceptually and ludically from the idiotic good/bad systems in all the other Bioware games. But beyond that, it’s just kind of an ugly (glaringly so after playing Mass Effect) collection of unimaginative genre tropes (probably no more so than Mass Effect) that doesn’t have the decency to wrap up in under 30 hours like Mass Effect did (though I recently had the bright idea to switch to easy, which helps things move along faster).

        Ooh, another thing I liked: I clicked on Alistair once to give him a command, and he made this really drawn out, exaggerated Yeeeeeeeeeeees? which was so incongruous and out of nowhere it had me rolling. That was pretty great.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Alistair is definitely one of the best parts of that game.  I felt so horrible at how my playthrough ended with him doomed to an unhappy life for the sake of the kingdom.  But fortunately, I was dead.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        Hey they’re awesome games! Wave that shame around. 

        Several playthroughs over the years and I still want to jump back in. Actually, the reviewer of DA:O from either Gamespot or Giantbomb thought that the game was such a successful spirtual successor to the Baldur’s Gate games that DA:O could be played in place of, during his ‘annual BG playthrough’. I feel the same way.

  • ProfFarnsworth

    I just found out that Civilizations V is on sale with Steam.  Sadly, I have never played any of them and after hearing so much about it I am getting it and will probably play that this weekend. 

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       Prepare yourself for an uncomfortably addictive streamlined experience my friend.  Civ V isn’t without it’s flaws but overall it is a beautiful game that can really eat up an entire Saturday afternoon if you let it.

    • http://bureaupath.wordpress.com/ Bureaupath

      Make sure to pick up ta least the 1st expansion pack (Gods and Kings). The combat system is better, and religion/espionage add so much more to the game. I’m eagerly anticipating the 2nd expansion pack, Brave New World, out in July.

  • evanwaters

    Finished a playthrough of Doom II. I’d beaten it before but it’s still a challenge. (FUCK Pain Elementals.)

    I may give Crusader Kings II a try. On the one hand, I suck at strategy games. On the other, the focus here is more on courtly intrigue and I’ve heard it said that it’s not so much about winning as getting an interesting story. Game of Thrones inspired me (I know there’s a mod for that.)

  • Professor_Cuntburglar

    I picked up ES: Oblivion for $10 because I really like Skyrim and I’d never played any of the others. I really like the main questline, but for some reason I’m not feeling very inclined to do any of the side stuff (probably because I spent so much time doing the exact same stuff in Skyrim).

    I’m really enjoying the awkward NPC interactions, though.

    “Hello”
    “Good Evening”
    “There is a ghost haunting one of the roads”
    “Yes, that is a thing”
    *they both immediately turn to look directly at the player*
    “HELLO ”
    *they walk off*

  • Jonathan Dewar

    The only game I’ll probably play this weekend is Remember Me, in between 10-or-so episode chunks of Power Rangers – doing a marathon of it all on Netflix.  I just finished season three, heading into Zeo.

    I really wish the component cables for my PSP Go had arrived today with the cradle and white DualShock 3 I bought so that I could complete turning this thing into a little “baby console” (my friend Alyssa nicknamed the concept that and it stuck), but what can you do?  If it had, I’d probably be throwing some Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and War of the Lions into the mix.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I’m going to catch up on some sleep after attending game 1 of the NBA Finals.

    • boardgameguy

      if you actually attended, i’m crazy jealous. what a game with several great performances.

      • ferrarimanf355

        I did attend, and it was fun until the non-call over that 24-second violation Tony Parker totally committed with five seconds to go. The Heat were robbed of a chance to win.

        • boardgameguy

          looked legit in the replay, but who knows.

  • CNightwing

    Oh god, I started playing Dwarf Fortress again last night. What was I thinking? I never really got deep into it so now it’s like a personal challenge to master. My programming brain just keeps screaming at it for being so badly interfaced though.

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

    Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is the main game I’m playing these days. Its story is considerably less compelling than FFTA (mainly because the main character doesn’t have any friends or relatives in Ivalice this time around.) But I do really like the minor rule tweaks.

    Also, I think I’ll play a random Phoenix Wright case this weekend. Any suggestions?

    • duwease

      They’re all pretty good (and pretty similar) to be honest.  I’ve played em all, but I can’t think of one that was particularly better.  There’s maybe one or two minor gameplay additions in the last one.  I do think there’s some minor story carryover, so later ones may spoil plot points of earlier ones.

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

        I think Dave has already played all the games, and is looking for a random single case from any of the games to play through again? It’s a little hard to tell form his wording, though.

        • duwease

          Ah, in that case.. Idunno, usually the second or third mission in each game is the best?  Wherever it lets loose and you’re defending a TV star or a clown or something and not a plot-centric character.

    • neodocT

       I recall being really impressed with the last case in Trials and Tribulations, and how it effectively tied together all the dangling plotlines from the other four cases in the game. That’s pretty long though, and is really more successful if you recall the rest of the game, so it may not be the best choice for a random case. 

      Having said that, I’ll suggest the second case in Trials and Tribulations, because it has a fun, twisty plot, funny characters, and the introduction of badass prosecutor Gogot. 

  • dmikester

    Well, here’s the thing.  I’d totally be playing games that I recently picked up, like anything from the recent Humble Bundle or Portal 2, or playing board games with friends (or the iPad version of Forgotten Island, which is a pretty fantastic board game app).  But instead, I have a strong feeling I’ll be playing all weekend, and for the next 10-15 years, with my new puppy instead.  Pictures soon, I promise!

    • Jackbert

      Our puppy thinks she’s a cat, so she curls up on your lap while you play video games. It’s pretty awesome until your legs fall asleep and she doesn’t want to get off. She’ll actually watch Pac-Man and Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but she falls asleep to anything less frenetic.

  • duwease

    Whoa, I haven’t thought about ZZT in 20 years, but I used to play the hell out of it.  Good call, Anna Anthropy.

    This weekend I’ll work on my “high chaos” playthrough of Dishonored.  I really liked the “don’t kill anyone” playthrough for the most part.  It’s interesting to let loose with the full arsenal in “high chaos”, but it makes the game *way* too easy (even on the highest difficulty).  Still, it lets me explore things I missed.  Maybe I’ll find out about this whole Outsider thing, which was pretty peripheral to the first playthrough.

    What else?  Maybe pick at Scribblenauts to try and finish it up so I can move on to something else.  At this point, to keep it interesting, I’m trying restrictions like “solve only using babies”.  The fat dead baby holds down the button, then scare another baby with a mask to make him cry and put out the fire, then put wings on another baby and tie a rope to him to make him lift something..

    Next I’m thinking Reus.. that looks fun.

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

      When I played Scribblenauts Unlimited, I used to let loose a “rabid magnetic squirrel” in each level and try to solve as many puzzles as possible before everybody else turned rabid as well.

      • duwease

        I’m so stealing this.  I had a lot of fun when accidentally creating a “crazy wig” that turned out to be homicidal once I took it off, and just letting it run wild while trying to protect who I needed to keep around to complete the stage.

  • JokersNuts

    Huh?

  • doyourealize

    It appears I’m in the minority, but I’ve never heard of this 33 1/3 series, although it sounds like something I’d be interested in.

    I’ll try to get some Skyrim in, but really I’ll be spending a good amount of the weekend finishing my final TEAM reflection paper, which in CT means I am no longer an initial educator, but a provisional educator. But the practical meaning of this is that I don’t have to do any more TEAM reflection papers.

  • EmperorNortonI

    In all likelihood, more Fallout New Vegas.

    I thought I’d played through the majority of the game, but it turns out that the main questline has a bunch of stuff remaining.  I’m helping out the Boomers at the moment.  Also, the companion quests – I didn’t discover those until really late, after I’d done most everything with Boone, and now feel kind of obligated to do several of them.

    Of course, this comes AFTER completing Lonesome Road.  This is the only DLC I’ve played in this game.  I walked to the Lonsesome Road starting point early in my game, and saw the message about it being for level 25 and above.  I was level 3 at the time.  For whatever reason, I thought ALL the DLC was for Level 25 and above.  Oh well.

    I’ve been playing this round as hard-core NCR.  This isn’t hard, as I’m a native-born Angeleno, and feel the California nationalism strong and true.  However, this means that a good chunk of the game has been missed.  I’m thinking of doing another playthrough, and helping Benny rule the Strip.  For whatever reason, felt really bad about killing him in my current game.  Mr House, on the other hand, can go to hell, though I suspect his plotline has an interesting ending.

    Oh, and Company of Heroes.  I’ve been getting back into it lately, in preparation for Company of Heroes 2.  It’s East Front, and I’m a total East Front nerd, so woot!  VaStalina! 

    • Cloks

      You should really try Old World Blues if you haven’t played it. It’s fun, especially if you’re the kind of person who plays with “Wild Wasteland” enabled.

      • stakkalee

        Seconding the OWB recommendation.  The New Vegas DLC are all pretty great.  Dead Money is pretty creepy, Honest Hearts has some really great grappling with ethics and morality, and OWB is just fun and goofy, or as goofy as the Fallout games get anyway.

  • The_Misanthrope

    “While my cats were coming down off ketamine, I finished The Walking Dead game.”  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a better first line of a blog post before.  Kudos, sir.

    Me and my disparate group of friends will be getting together for our quasi-regular game night.  I’m going to try to get *someone* to play Fiasco this time.  Apart from that, we could end up playing just about anything.  One of my friends has a pretty good habit of chipping in on tabletop-game kickstarters, so he often has something new and interesting.  Last time out, he brought Hex Hex Next, which is kind of like Hot Potato with magic:
    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17859/hex-hex-next

    • boardgameguy

      checked out the link and it still wasn’t clear to me what type of game this was. can you say more?

      • The_Misanthrope

        It’s a card game. Each player is a dueling spell-caster; Each hand starts out with the player who dealt starting off the spell. The point is to use your by cards to keep the spell from ending on your caster by deflecting the spell to another caster. If you can’t deflect the spell, it goes off and you take damage. There are also cards that affect the spell (or sometimes other casters) in various ways, like splitting the spell into multiple versions of itself or putting extra damage on it. It’s pretty fast and hectic fun, though there are times when several spells are bouncing from player to player that it can start to get confusing.

        • boardgameguy

          cool. thanks for the explanation.

  • indy2003

    Finally got around to checking out Darksiders this week and will probably wrap it up today – I’m pretty close to the finish line. It’s fun stuff, despite the fact that almost everything in it is a pretty blatant rip-off of something else. For the most part, it’s a fusion of Zelda and God of War – and then it suddenly turns into Portal! While the Zelda-meets-GOW stuff is quite enjoyable, the overlong Portal section was fairly tedious (as it lacks both the humor and creativity of that game). Glad to be done with that. Just started the, “Hey, if you want to fight the final boss you need to run all over creation collecting the fragments of a shattered magical sword!” section. 

    After that, I’ll either jump into Deus Ex or Sleeping Dogs – haven’t decided which yet.

  • Cloks

    I am going to finish Paper Mario: The 1000 Year Door this weekend. I’m currently on the moon, so the ending can’t be too far away. After that, I plan to start Legend of Zelda: Windwaker because I’m worried that my Gamecube might start to get lonely if I don’t play through all the games I can get for it.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       You’re so close.  Did you do the Peach section yet?  I found that to be one of the funnier parts of the game, though as I’ve stated before, nothing will overtake my fondness for the wrestling story-line.

      • Cloks

        If you mean the bits where I play as Peach between chapters then yes. If you mean something else then no.

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

      If you haven’t played WindWaker before, you are in for a treat!

  • a_scintillating_comment

    One of my favourites. Giant box caught my eye. Upon closer inspection it comes with a giant manual? I’m there. Never finished it as a child but came back to it in college and it still held up.

    A fun and wacky world that never lost sight of the seriousness of the threat facing those kids.

    Actually while I’m thinking about it, what are some other games that have struck that balance? Any rpgs in particular? What other games do people associate with Earthbound?

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

      That surreal, slightly dark, dreamlike quality tinged with silliness (I always think of it as a ‘Twin Peaks vibe’) was present to an extent in Link’s Awakening for the GameBoy, and Majora’s Mask, I feel.

      You’d probably enjoy Mother 3, too, if you haven’t yet played it.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        Awesome, thanks! Mother 3 I haven’t played jsut yet but I hear the fan made translation is quite formidable

  • uselessyss

    Just finished the third episode of The Walking Dead, which probably was not good for my heart. At several moments I even shouted a prolonged “NOOOO” at my TV. It’s pretty good drama, though I have to admit that the writing gets a little clunky sometimes. Not enough to diminish the game’s soul-crushing effect, though.

    I’m also going to try and make my own game! I downloaded Adventure Game Studio a few days ago, and it seems fairly easy to grasp. I want to go back and play all of the AGS-produced games I own, to see what game-making secrets I can glean from them. In any case, it should be interesting.

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

      Woo! Go for it! I’m looking forward to what comes out.

      I remember when Zero Punctuation started, but I hadn’t yet heard of it, and all of my nerd friend were tittering about this “Yahtzee” and how hilarious he was. And I was all “Wait, since when do you guys play obscure amateur graphical adventures?” And they were all “What the hell are you talking about? Watch these funny YouTube vids.”

      Anyway, you should play Yahtzee’s games if you haven’t yet. They get pretty good as the series goes along.

      • uselessyss

        Yeah, I’ve played all the games in the 5 Days series. They’re great – great atmosphere, and well-written (for the most part). I didn’t realize jump scares could work so well in an adventure game.
        I liked Trilby’s Notes the best, and I’m not even a big fan of text parsers in general.

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

          Trilby’s Notes was the first I played, which is probably completely the wrong place to start. But it was a cool in-medias-res kind of experience. It’s probably my favorite, too. In part because the parser is an unusual interface implemented well (typically I don’t enjoy parsers in non-text games), and in part because its pared-down art design is more successful than the muddy pixel art of his earlier games.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Might I interest you in this?

      • uselessyss

        Sounds intriguing!

        I think I’d want to cultivate at least one useful skill before messing up a team project, though.

  • stakkalee

    Man, over 100 comments by 9AM EST?  This thread is filling up faster than usual!  On Saturday I’ll be getting together with my gaming buddy for another Civ4/Fall From Heaven game, and on Sunday I’ll continue with Fallout 3 since I still haven’t finished it.  Really, all I want to do now is hear Liberty Prime spout some of his catchphrases during the final assault.  ”CHAIRMAN CHENG WILL FAIL!”  ”EMBRACE DEMOCRACY OR YOU WILL BE ERADICATED!”  Excellent stuff.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       You gotta get in by midnight the day before or you’ll get buried STAKKA!!!  Also get ready for some sweet soothing Liam Neeson at the end of Fallout 3.

  • a_scintillating_comment

    Just finished Shadows of The Collosus. Played it after Ico as part of the HD relrelease. I can’t believe I put them both off for so long. I’ve seen people talk about their experiences here, but yeah, wow. The minimal exposition and lack of direction!

    SoTC is definitely my preferred game–especially because what I enjoyed most about Ico was simply wandering around and climbing things and SoTC is those mechanics refined nicely. 

    This weekend a bit of EVE:Online as my friend convinced me to join, and I’m loving it. Steep learning curve but quite similarly to Ico/SoTC it’s one of the few games I can say treat me as an adult. Very nice.  I also remember someone here talking about it, anyone here still play?

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      I used to play EVE, two times three years apart.  Both times I got bored and quit because it’s so time consuming, and the actual combat, even in a group, is dull.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        Yeah… I’m enjoying the freedom so far, but I think I’ll be where you are after my 90 day dub runs out

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       SoTC is next on my replay list.  I’ve already done it twice on the PS2 and once in the remake.  Never gets old, though I think the HD graphics are a little uneven.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    There’s something comparable to 33 1/2 I have on my Kindle,but it’s a collection of essays per volume as opposed to focusing on one game and it’s name escapes me now… Oh yeah!  Well played! http://www.amazon.com/Well-Played-1-0-Video-Meaning/dp/0557069750

     This weekend I will keep chipping away at Metro Last Light which I was enjoying until a glitch struck me down at a crucial in game moment.  I’ve also reacently learned the joys of modding the bejeezus out of Just Cause 2.  The superman mod has been a real treat as I like to open Pandora in the background, play some CCR and fly above planes, hijack them and then crash them. Fun.

    I purchased the recent Humble Bundle because the games in it are amazing but I haven’t had a chance to play much other than a few rounds of English Country Tune.  I’m really looking forward to Thomas was Alone too!

    Also, from the Humble Bundle I have Steam Keys I don’t need for Proteus, Hotline Miami, and Intrusion 2 if anyone wants them.  Personally I think you should just go buy the bundle but if anyone wants one let me know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chunky.situation Calum Neil Ryan

    It’s funny, I *just* decided to buy one of those flash carts for my super nintendo, so I can finally play Earthbound without having to play it on my laptop. So I guess im anticipating playing Earthbound, and Super Metroid.

  • boardgameguy

    On the table top front, I am trading away Small World and getting The Pillars of the Earth in return. I never play Small World and two friends have it with expansions so I thought I’d try my hand at another worker placement game that appears to be friendlier and more forgiving than Agricola to try and interest my wife. So hopefully get a few plays of Pillars in this weekend.

    For computer games, I also went in for the Humble Indie Bundle 8 and will hopefully complete Little Inferno and then see what all the fuss about Hotline Miami is. As someone who played a lot of the original GTA, I’m excited for its top down look.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    That sounds like a great idea for a book series!  After the encouragement I got from @ProfesorFarnsworth:disqus , I’m shaping a new idea for a
    short story/novel I want to write.  No details yet, as I don’t want to
    jinx it, but it does involve games.

    Tonight I’m going to the second session with a new board gaming group.  This week we’re playing the Mage Knight board game.  Should be interesting…the original Mage Knight was the only collectible game I got involved in enough to run a single in-store event.  The board game has received rave reviews, so is probably much more fun than the original was.

    The only PC games I’m playing right now are Neverwinter and Marvel:Avengers Alliance.  I’m really pleased that Neverwinter’s web portal allows me to set up profession/crafting tasks without having to enter the game itself.

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

    I’ve stalled Portal 2 after getting interested in other stuff, so I should probably get back to that. Right now I’m in the old-school testing section, with the Cave Johnson voice recordings. I also started playing The Walking Dead, so I’m sure I’ll do more of that. Also various other recent purchases, like Thomas Was Alone, Little Inferno, Awesomenauts (which is fun, even though I’m pretty terrible at it) and maybe Dear Esther and/or Proteus. I also see that Saints Row the Third is free on Steam this weekend, so maybe I’ll try it out. I hear it’s awesome.

  • http://kenbaumann.com Ken Baumann

    Just wanted to pop in and thank everyone who chipped in to the Boss Fight Kickstarter! Thank you so much for your eager clicker fingers & your curiosity.

  • Pgoodso

    A lady I met online is in the middle of her own Kickstarter for her new adventure game (and here that is, please give her money, it’s a pretty cool concept: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1645187100/the-st-christophers-school-lockdown).

    Anyways, we were talking about adventure games, and it made me all nostalgic, so I am cramming down the whole LucasArts back catalog on ScummVM this weekend. Played Loom for the first time, beat it pretty quick (if you’ve got a good ear and a good memory, you can beat it in 2 hours flat). Only needed to look up one draft that I had forgotten by the time I needed it (the sharpening draft). Just finished up Full Throttle. Probably the first time in, oh, 7 or 8 years, still had that shit memorized, screwed up intentionally a couple times just to “pretend” I was figuring stuff out, hehe. On to Sam N Max now, definitely had forgotten a few things. Gonna finish out with Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle.

    And almost every single game made me sad there aren’t more of them.

    And then I realized, hey, it’s a damn adventure game renaissance, quit being sad and go spend a dollar on your iPad! Or donate to a Kickstarter, why not?