What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman, musician

The singer-songwriter is into Settlers Of Catan, but he’s no cutthroat.

By Matt Kodner • August 2, 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.

Ezra Furman is a singer-songwriter hailing from Chicago, and his intimate solo album The Year Of No Returning was recently reissued by Bar/None. Last week, he made an appearance on A.V. Undercover with a cover of Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer.” Furman spoke with The Gameological Society about his intermittent competitive streak, getting sucked into Diablo, and the importance of the music in Nintendo’s early Mario games.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Ezra Furman: The thing I’m most likely to play is Settlers Of Catan, a favorite board game of mine.

Gameological: Is it the original version?

Furman: It’s pretty close to the original. I think the robber piece used to be black, which they felt had racial implications, so now it’s gray. I think in that way it’s the not the original.

Gameological: There are a handful of expansions that change the game.

Furman: I’ve played those occasionally. The one I have is the old-fashioned classic. The thing I like about the game is the randomness, the change that’s introduced when you play it. There’s a board you have to build from these pieces, and it’s laid out differently every time. Different resources are more or less common. I like the element of the landscape changing. There are some other games I enjoy that have the same elements.

Gameological: How do you fare when you play Settlers?

Furman: I think I’m pretty good. I find that game is always pretty evenly matched. As long as you’ve played it a couple times, even if it is your first game, you have a pretty good chance of being competitive. A few friends of mine will get really into the game, and leave everyone in the dust. I’m cutthroat when I need to be, but I’ve never been a very competitive person when it comes to games. When it comes to music, I might be privately more competitively minded, but I don’t really care who wins.

Gameological: What’s fun about it if you’re not trying to win?

Furman: I like watching the landscape change. My favorite part of the game is setting it up and seeing how things hash out. I found other games have that element too, like Diablo. I have been, at various points in my life, cripplingly interested in Diablo. Every time you start a character, the world is kind of same, but kind of different. Things have been altered.

Gameological: You recently covered a Wilco song on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel in Chicago for an A.V. Undercover video. When you were there, did you try your hand at any boardwalk games?

Furman: We kind of came in, got on a Ferris wheel, got a cold lemonade, and got out. That place has some kind of stench of death to me. [Laughs.]

Gameological: I almost died there when I was 12. I got knocked off my bike into an extremely busy street and somehow didn’t get hit.

Furman: Yeah, there’s a terror that surrounds that place. It’s high-priced, and parents take their kids thinking, “The kids will love this!” and the kids are there like, “What are we doing here?” That’s how I felt when I went there as a child. The place is so made for kids, but in a horrible way. I could sense it as a child. There was kid-directed stuff that was very toxic. Amusement parks, they could suck out a kid’s soul.

Gameological: I was just at Coney Island and saw this mom win one of those water gun races where you shoot at the target. As soon as the bell rang, she stood up and screamed, “Gimme my shit!” in all these kids’ faces.

Furman: I kind of like that. The adults are brought down to kid level, like an equalizer. I like equalizing games. You can never really master a game like Catan too much. There are some games you can just—like Mario, people get so good at Mario. It’s amazing. Mario just has the music, really. I love playing those games, but I feel like without music, I wouldn’t be interested. The music is so great, catchy and beautiful. I’m amazed that one guy composed all the music for the Mario games.

Gameological: Why do you think the music is so important for games like Mario?

Furman: Listening to looped music while doing something creates this trance-like effect. Like, “I’m going to keep doing it.” And the Mario music is particularly beautiful. That guy’s like the Mozart of the 1980s. I think it was important for pop musicians, too. That technology being in the hands of kids growing up all over the world, they heard Mario music a lot. People maybe aren’t even conscious of it, but they’re trying to make something that reminds them of playing Nintendo at a young age in their own way.

Gameological: If you had the opportunity, would you score a game?

Furman: Oh, I would take that offer. I’d be up to that.

Gameological: What would it sound like?

Furman: My instincts of what I’ve been playing on guitar lately—I’ve got this vaguely Hawaiian-sounding stuff. I’ve been very into “Sleepwalk” by Santo And Johnny lately. The song itself is way more famous than its name. It’s been in a lot of movies. But I’d do something like that. Something hypnotic—kind of slow electric guitar music would be good. But it would depend on the game, I suppose.

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.

(Photo: Rosie Wagner)

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  • PugsMalone

    I’ve been following Video Game Championship Wrestling, where video game characters duke it out in WWE ’13. Here’s a link to their wiki:

    http://vgcw.wikia.com/wiki/Video_Game_Championship_Wrestling_Wiki

    It’s pretty hilarious; a lot of the humor is due to the bad AI.

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

      I will totally vouch for this being a good use of time.  Not the best, perhaps, but it’s actually funny.

  • Citric

    Today, for some reason, I purchased a bunch of games I already own. 

    And yet I’ll probably play Silent Hill Downpour, which is actually pretty good all around now that I’m in the town instead of that silly mine, Digital Devil Saga, which is much better than my slow progress suggests, and Mario and Luigi Partners in Time, which is sort of not as good as the first one, but still pretty good.

  • PaganPoet

    I’ll be soldiering on in Shadow of the Colossus. I’m 4 colossi in and I’m certainly enjoying this game much more than I enjoyed Ico. I don’t know too much about the plot of this game, but so far I’m feeling pretty guilty about slaying the colossi. They don’t come across as malevolent or evil, so I’m starting to suspect that there may be a “twist” at some point revealing that by slaying them, you’re actually doing something pretty bad.

    • NakedSnake

      Those Collossi are pretty majestic, no doubt. That game blew my mind when I played it on the PS2. It certainly took the hardware to the limit. Music is incredible, too. Fits the tone so well: epic, exciting, and mournful.

    • rvb1023

       You are currently playing my favorite game and making me want to play it again. There may be more perfect games out their but none of them have nearly the same impact on me nor the sheer force of scale, scope, and vision that wows me every time.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on it after having beaten it.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        A little thing, but I realized while playing the HD collection as a first timer, that the animations on Argo haven’t been surpassed–as far as horse animations that is

        • 2StoryOuthouse

          Absolutely. He really does move and feel like a living animal with a mind of his own. Most game horses are just stiff 4-legged vehicles.

  • Fluka

    With Portal 2 co-op finished, am now full-force on Knights of the Old Republic.  Finally off Dantooine, and finished with the suspiciously small dessert wastes of Tatooine.  I have acquired HK-47, who has earned a permanent place in my party, replacing Canderous Ordo.  I still love you Cander-chan, but I have a malevolent combat droid in my life now!  Most definitely best character.  

    Now I’m off to Kashyyyk.  But seriously folks, I could see a fantasy name with two “y”s being etymologically sound.  But three ys?  Now they’re just goofing.  I demand more realistic wookie cultural lore!  Zaalbar takes this all very seriously.  

    Damn it why am I enjoying Star Wars again.

    • PaganPoet

      “But three ys?”

      Someone obviously never took French. *files nails*

      • Fluka

        Wait, does French ever do three ys in a row?  Without spaces or accents or any other intervening linguistic stop?  If so, man…no wonder I’m terrible at speaking it.

        I guess I could see “yyy” being a Roman alphabet representation of an otherwise un-writeable wookie vowel sound. yyy = AAAAaaaaAAOEEOOAAAA

        • PaganPoet

          No, it doesn’t. I’m just making fun of French since the word “y” is used for just about anything and everything in that language. It was one of the most confusing things to learn for me.

        • Fluka

          @PaganPoet:disqus Hah, full agreement on that count.  For me it’s all the various shorted versions of words.  I still remember seeing “qu’est-ce que c’est” for the first time and going “eeeenngggggghhhh!”  Oh, and “Kashyyyk” is no sillier than “Ypres”.

        • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

          @PaganPoet:disqus But the word “y” just means “and” in French and it’s not used any more often than the English equivalent.

    • NakedSnake

      That game is so great. For some reason I think I enjoyed Korriban the best, even thought it was the most “talky” out of all the planets. I kind of think Bioware hit a sweet spot back in this era where you could talk to and interact with a lot of people without needing an encyclopedia and eidetic memory to understand why everything everyone says is important.

    • JohnnyLongtorso

      dessert wastes

      So you’re not going to finish that pie, then?

      • Fluka

        *Considers leaving typo as an eternal reminder to never use the internet after midnight when she’s sleepy.*

        …Nope, too embarrassing.  *EDIT*

  • Jer Link

     I’ll be playing whatever game is chosen in the most recent Gameological Gaming Revue Club vote (which can be found here).

    Also, I think I’ll try to finish up Anodyne. I’m really enjoying the music and overall tone in this one.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       It said you decided on Tuesday so which did you decide on?

      I for one would love an opportunity to go back and revisit Alan Wake.  Even if the ending is… well I’ll save it for the discussion.

      • HobbesMkii

        That was the nomination period.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    I’ll be having a boardgaming night at some point this weekend. My group played BSG for the first time last week after months of me trying to convince everyone to get together for a few hours to play it, and we all liked it so much that I think we’re going to play it again this week. Woo!
    Beyond that I picked up a Tetris Attack cart last week and have been slowly getting better at that, playing with my girlfriend when she agrees to. I wish I had someone who could get really into it to play with, but oh well.

    • ItsTheShadsy

      You are increasingly making me want to convince my friends to give the BSG board game another go-around.

      Also yeah, having someone to play with is a problem with competitive puzzle games. For reasons unknown, I greatly enjoy Kirby’s Avalanche/Puyo Puyo, but I can never convince anyone to give it a try.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Kirby’s Avalance/Puyo games are awesome! I used to play Avalanche with my mom as a kid. I need to find that cart!

        Also with BSG you may want to check and recheck the rules to make sure you’r playing  it correctly. Apparently if you fudge up a few small rules it can throw the whole balance off. Also I recommend printing out player aids that people can refer to regarding how the turns go and how combat works. much easier than having to look up in the rules what rolls do damage to what and all that. It made our first game go relatively smoothly.

    • boardgameguy

      Glad to hear you had a good time with BSG. Did you feel like the elements of the game were fairly balanced? A few of the times I’ve played, pilots have had less than nothing to do.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        I thought it had a perfect balance, but that may be because we had really passive cylons who didn’t do much until the sleeper phase. Cylons won, but humans had traveled 8 distance and were halfway to the last jump, before we lost to Galactica damage. 

        We also played a rule wrong that made revealed cylons more powerful (we allowed them to use their character powers while revealed). 

        It’s probably worth noting that we had 5 players, which from my understanding is by far the best number to play the game with.

        If anyone had nothing to do it was revealed cylons, though our first revealed one said he really enjoyed not having to stress out about passing checks and blending in and he liked to just fuck up our plans. I think everyone really liked it, enough that they want to play it again so soon. 

  • caspiancomic

    Beat Virtue’s Last Reward this week.

    con: if I never see another dice rolling puzzle as long as I live, it’ll be too soon.

    pro: brain come out ears.

    Earth shattering, game ruining Virtue’s Last Reward spoilers potentially in following thread. Proceed with caution or not at all.

    Overall impression: hot damn. VLR still had a lot of the problems I had with 999, right up to the end, including some brand new problems I had with just this game, but overall I enjoyed the experience a hell of a lot. I don’t even remember the last time a game actually sent my head spinning with its twists. Towards the end the game seemed more concerned with topping itself in the twist department and demonstrating its own cleverness than it was with genuine character-driven potboiler stuff, but it had accumulated enough good will by that point that I was prepared to let it off the hook for indulging itself a little bit. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for managing to guess a couple of the game’s most bizarre reveals, although the final leg of the game involves so many insane reveals that I obviously never could have accurately predicted them all.

    The biggest con I can think of isn’t so much a problem with the game itself, but a problem I have with a lot of media, which is that it spends too much time in its final moments setting up the next instalment instead of paying off stuff from its own story. I don’t think Zero Escape was originally conceived of as a trilogy, which is why 999′s story is basically complete when you reach the end of that game. In VLR, though, Uchikoshi is clearly banking on making a third Zero Escape, and spends the game’s final moments setting up all this stuff that’s coming up next. So, the end of 999 busied itself with completing its own story, and was slightly more fulfilling emotionally for that reason, while VLR deliberately left several tantalizing strings dangling, which kinda gave me a nasty case of Zero Escape blue balls.

    Some of the final twists were pretty ludicrous if you think about them too hard, but again, I was happy to suspend more than the usual amount of disbelief since I was so enamoured with the rest of the game generally. I’m also going to give myself a massive unearned pat on the back for mentioning Schrodinger’s Cat in my 999 article. I actually mentioned in that article that although I had a lot of grievances with that game, I could feel nostalgia setting it unusually early, and I was already starting to remember liking the game more than I actually did. This time around though, even though the game frustrated and even bored me now and then, I definitely enjoyed the experience, and kind of miss it already. I can feel myself getting that sense of withdrawal that comes from definitively “finishing” an amazing game. I almost wish there was more to do in the game after beating it, just cuz I want to hang out with the gang a little more. (<3 <3 <3 Luna!! <3 <3 <3 Apparently there's a chance she's going to be in the next game. Somehow. In some form. I hope so, she was the best.)

    All in all: I enjoyed this game a hell of a lot. Once I've digested it a little bit more I'll probably write up an article on it for Game Theory, although that probably won't be for another couple of months. And who knows when the third (and purportedly final) Zero Escape game is going to come our way? It'll probably be at least a full year, probably closer to two…

    *sigh* I need some kind of Zero Escape methadone. Guess it's time to go back to Professor Layton. It's not quite the same, but it'll scratch my puzzle itch…

    • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

      SPOILERS, DUH!

      Oh glob, this game. I’m halfway through my second playthrough now (played it on 3DS in November, Vita now. It’s definitely more pleasant to look at on Vita, but I far preferred the 3DS controls, imperfect as they were). I agree that it sets up way too much for a third game in the final act of VLR, but it did it in a way that made me want that third act right the eff now, which is a testament to the writing in that I just didn’t want to stop. Particularly after reading Uchikoshi’s remarks that Junpei and Dio would be characters in the third title and that it would explore both Radical 6 and Phi’s backstory.

      The supernatural elements of both games have rubbed me the wrong way at times, but I prefer to think of both the morphic fields from 999 and the flow technique from VLR as imaginative extensions of the universal consciousness, which is a societal phenomenon that has been studied quite a bit by actual scientists in the real world.

      I was very distracted at the end of the game how all of the characters in VLR served a direct purpose in the experiment, proving that it had been extremely well-planned (they even accounted for the inevitable sabotage) while some of the characters in 999 felt a little too contrived for me. Junpei’s there because they need him to be in order to save Akane in the past (a possible precursor to the flow system of VLR), but Snake, Clover, Seven and Lotus are all there for sentimental reasons, because Zero thinks they’d like to see retribution played out in front of them. It makes sense in the long run, especially considering all the plotting and planning Zero goes through between the two games, that the concept would mature in VLR’s Nonary Game, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it at the time.

      Agnello (who first recommended 999 to me after his AV Club review) has told me that if I dig the Zero Escape series, I’d also enjoy the Corpse Party games on PSP. I haven’t gotten around to them yet, but maybe check those out when you need to scratch that itch?

      • caspiancomic

        Hella Spoilers!

        Hell yeah! Have you read Uchikoshi’s Q&A regarding the series so far and the sequel? He mentions a lot of possibilities for the third game, and it looks like a lot of the series’ characters are going to be returning in some capacity. I actually hope we get a good crop of new characters as well, since meeting new and mysterious people and trying to figure out what their deal is is part of the series’ appeal, but I’ll be glad to see folks like Sigma, Phi, Junpei, Dio, Luna (<3), Snake, and Santa again. Apparently the third game will take place at the Nevada Test Site, Radical-6's Ground Zero (dun dun dun!), and involves multiple parties infiltrating that facility (including Sigma and Phi, natch) to try and prevent the outbreak. So I figure there'll probably be a traditional Nonary Game going on for the bulk of the game, with several returning characters floating around the edges of the story, zipping through time and buggering with causality.

        The "supernatural" element of the game I'm fully prepared to accept, since it's basically Uchikoshi's way of inserting the player directly into the action as opposed to having them be a neutral observor. In my 999 essay I wrote about how the player is Junpei's consciousness, and it's true in VLR for Sigma as well. In VLR there are actually several references made to the idea that the player is a participant in the events- Zero Sr.'s lecture about how termites:humans :: humans:??? is, I think, a coded reference to the player (the same way termites don't understand the scope and scale of their own hives, only humans understand that, so to do the characters of Zero Escape not know the full extent of what they're participating in, only a higher lifeform like the player can comprehend it.) Also, there's speculation that the final consciousness called "?" who appears in Kyle Klim's body in the game's hidden ending is the consciousness of the player interfering directly with the game world- Akane tells "?" that he was an unknown variable who infiltrated the game from "outside the system", and that his participation is the only way to stop the outbreak of Radical-6 (in other words, in order to prevent the outbreak, the player has to play the next game.)

        Alright I could talk about this forever, time to wind down. In summary and in conclusion: I am super hyped for Zero Escape 3. I'll investigate this Corpse Party game, but tragically I haven't got a PSP, so I'll have to make do with something else.

  • aklab

    Thanks to being out of work with a sinus infection for a couple of days, I got to finish a lot of games! Dead Space, Illusion of Gaia, Antichamber… 

    Yesterday I started Seiken Densetsu 3. And after taking some time off from Arcanum I’m back in it and lovin’ it. I just became skilled enough at gunsmithing to make my early investments in perception and firearms begin to pay off. 

    • Dave Dalrymple

      Who’d you pick for your party in SD3?

      • aklab

        Lise the Amazon, Kevin the beastman, and Angela the mage/witch/or whatever. It’s a pretty solid party so far. I don’t think they’ll get any healing magic, but they’re usually quick and heavy-hitting enough not to need it! 

        • Dave Dalrymple

          *SPOILERPLATE*

          Kevin can potentially learn healing magic.

          Even if you just plan to stick with items, make sure that someone has a good “Spirit” score. It affects the potency of certain healing items that you’ll find later in the game.

        • aklab

          Cool, thanks for the tip! Since we’re talking stats, does luck have any real effect? 

        • Dave Dalrymple

          Luck mostly affects enemy drops.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    This week, I had the opportunity to play some Street Fighter 4: Whatever Edition with a few equally unskilled coworkers. Apparently, I’m not as bad at fighting games as I remember: I’m worse. Damn, you, dragon punch motion! You’ve eluded me since childhood, and you elude me still. I’ve had a surprising amount of fun regardless.

    I also started playing FTL: Faster Than Light this week, and I’ll likely play some more this weekend. I really like the style and the gameplay, but it also feels like there’s difficulty spike around the sixth or seventh sector that I have yet to surpass. All of the enemies grow in power too fast for me to keep up, but if I don’t fight them I won’t get as many resources to upgrade my ship. Am I spending enough time in the earlier sectors? Should I be running from more fights? I don’t know! I’ll keep at it some more, see how things work out.

    • NakedSnake

      More than any game I can think of, FTL does an excellent job of creating a difficulty curve that is all about teaching the player how to succeed (through constant failure). When I started the game, I felt exactly like a rookie captain right out of the academy: doubting my every move, making rash decisions in the heat of the moment, overlooking major considerations, etc. Inevitably, these runs ended in death for myself and my crew. But by the team I beat the game, I had totally transformed into a seasoned ship captain. I knew what to look out for during battle, I knew when to fight and when to run, I knew when a big gamble was necessary or when to play it save. I knew how to build my ship for success. It really felt like I had become a good captain that my crew and commanders could count on to see the mission through. I don’t think that any other game I’ve played has so successfully “roll-played” me into feeling like I had earned the right to win the game.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I love the mechanics of the game, don’t get me wrong. They’re streamlined, but involved enough that you have significant decisions to make fairly frequently. Ordering a salvo of weapons to drop an enemy’s shields and cripple their weapons is a great feeling.

        My main issue so far is just a matter of scaling. I don’t know if all of the enemies scale across the board, but by the sixth or seventh sector it seems like any enemies I run into already have three shields, three weapons (with at least one missile), and a boarding party or drones to harass me. Even on a couple of lucky runs I had where I found a good beam weapon for free, it just seems like I’m nowhere close enough to take on any of them, especially when my shots start missing.

        • NakedSnake

          Yea, you should definitely spent as much time as possible in the early sectors (literally one jump ahead of the fleet if possible). You get a lot of items and scrap that way. In fact, you should keep this policy up as long as you keep winning battles.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Spend as much time as you can in the earlier sectors, yes. Part of the game is just random luck. Sometimes I’ve got resources coming out the wazoo, and at other times I’m limping from sector to sector and I just know there’s no way, but I play anyway just to get better.

    • JohnnyLongtorso

      I had to give up with FTL because it’s impossible for me to fight an enemy ship while dealing with both fires and intruders at the same time, and that’s what killed me about 75% of the time.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I have not beaten it and don’t know if I ever will. I enjoy it, but yeah, sometimes it’s so overwhelming. People tell me how to do it, but man, I’ve never had that kind of money EVER.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I don’t get that problem until I get past the fifth sector, when the enemies just shred through my shields. Eventually, it feels like everything is on fire. Weapons? Engines? Medbay? Crew? All on fire.

        On the other hand, I do rely a fair bit on the pause function; you can aim your weapons and queue up orders for your whole crew while the game is paused. Without it, I may have simply dropped the game entirely.

    • CrabNaga

      Are you playing on Easy? I started off on Easy to get the hang of things. There’s no real penalty to playing Easy except you get fewer points. You can still unlock ships and get achievements (although the game will note the difficulty you got an achievement in), and it’s a good way to get a handle of the game and what to expect from certain sectors/events/quests.

      • EmperorNortonI

        Yeah, play on Easy.  “Normal” is really “Ultra-Hard” mode.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        But… but… my pride

        • DrFlimFlam

           Enjoy your pride DEAD, soldier.

        • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

          There’s an achievement for finishing on Easy, so just tell yourself you’re going for that if it makes you feel less like a worthless failure.

  • TheASDF

    Gonna keep playing EarthBound, which I keep getting more and more into as I play. (I’m just about to go to Summers.) So delightfully weird and unique, easily one of the best JRPGs I’ve played. Also might finish Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. I’m in that last stretch where you have to go on a scavenger hunt for the keys though, which really pushes the “going back to revisit areas with new powers” thing to its limit, just as it did in the first game. Lotta love for the game, though.

    Also trying to convince myself I want to buy myself a 3DS, but then I realize I mostly want it for fucking Animal Crossing and I just can’t bring myself to accept that I want to play fucking Animal Crossing again. I’ve gotten every iteration of that damn series and sold it a couple of months later, BUT I STILL COME BACK FOR MORE. Still though, I’d probably grab Fire Emblem and Luigi’s Mansion too and enjoy them way more. Any other really good 3DS games that could convince me to buy one?

    • Crusty Old Dean

      I’m also playing Earthbound, I’m in the same place you are too (I got stuck for a while in Moonside, that place was a bit of a drag). The game is really great (makes you wonder why not more people have thought to break away from the old RPG tropes and clichés). My enthusiasm has been lessened somewhat by the fact that I really want to play Pikmin 3, but I don’t want to get sidetracked so I’ll hold off on buying it.

      The 3DS has so many great games and its future is looking pretty bright too, I don’t think you’ll regret buying one (if only they would ever start releasing gameboy advance games on their virtual console, there would be no question).

    • DrFlimFlam

       You’ve almost entirely summed up my 3DS collection there.

      Animal Crossing New Leaf, which is the best yet in the series. Yes, eventually you will peter out and move on, but having it on the system is a wonderful thing. I HIGHLY recommend the digital copy.

      Fire Emblem is very good but not quite as good as I’d hoped. Normal is without consequence so it’s a touch TOO easy, and Hard is VERY hard, and the story is meh at best. It’s still very good. But I was hoping to be spirited back to when I first discovered these games on GBA, and no, it’s not quite that.

      Luigi’s Mansion is super fun but at times can be frustrating. The missions are nicely bite-sized for handheld play, but even then checkpoints would have been nice, and there are none.

      I also have Super Mario 3D Land, which I like but don’t love. I really, really liked New Super Mario Bros. for DS, but this one feels a bit slight compared to most games in the series.

  • NakedSnake

    Well, I finally bought a 3DS, so I’m pretty excited about that. And right off the bat, I’m using it to play Chrono Trigger, which I’ve never played before. I’m playing the DS version, which has a lot of little dual screen features that make the game very pleasant. So far it seems like a nice mix between FFVI and Secret of Mana (seriously, did they steal sprites from the SOM characters?).  I’ll also be kicking it old-school some E-Store purchases, including a Castlevania (the first one) run that I’m already halfway through. Not nearly as hard as I imagined. In general I’m a little frustrated with how empty the e-store is though. I was looking forward to a whole lot more NES and SNES games to play. Ah well, there’s always the PSP…

    • DrFlimFlam

      I first played CT on the PS1, and man, it loaded forever to get me to the menu. The DS/3DS is perfect for it.

  • Chewbacca Abercrombie

    I’ve been spending most of my time that I would usually play games watching Breaking Bad, which is really good. I did manage to get a little further in Alundra last weekend, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be playing that or Parasite Eve anytime soon. I made the mistake(?) of going to Gamestop last weekend and picked up Dishonored (been wanting to play it for a long time), Vanquish (been looking for it forever and finally found a copy, yay!), and a double pack of the first two Saints Row games. So far I’ve only played part of Saints Row and I’m enjoying it quite a lot more than my half hearted half playthrough of GTA 4. I couldn’t even finish that game I got so bored with it. Saints Row just seems more fun though. The only problem I have with it so far is that I finally beat a mission after like six tries and was very excited to be done with it, only to have the game freeze after the mission completion cutscene. I have no idea when I saved last, but hopefully it was at the start of that mission and I can just get lucky enough to finish it my first try next time.

    Also I’m very interested in trying The Black Crown Project, so I might get around to that. With so many games to play I really wish I didn’t have to work Saturday

    • ItsTheShadsy

      I’m intrigued by The Black Crown Project too. Some day…

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      I got to season 3 and gave up Breaking Buds because I feel like it got too Job-like.  We get it, bad things keep happening to him and everything is depressing, but it was Walter’s relationship with Jesse that gave the series the heart it needed to save it from just empty bleakness.  When they moved that to the background I just lost interest.  I’m very aware that they will reunite but if that takes me sitting through more episodes of Skyler, I think I’ll be fine sticking with Mad Men.

      • Fluka

        Yeeah, if Jesse and Walt’s relationship is what was keeping the show from getting too bleak for you, it’s probably good you stopped when you did.

  • evanwaters

    Still with the CK II! I bought The Old Gods during Steam’s recent sale and have since been rampaging across the British Isles with my Norse pagan allies. So far it’s almost too easy (though there are some troops you can’t disband or else lose them altogether.) 

    Last Saturday I was at a party and played my first game of Munchkin, which I really enjoyed. I can see why it’s Steve Jackson Games’ big cash cow- there’s just enough strategy to keep things interesting, while it’s also swingy enough that everyone has a chance at winning. (We were all at level 9 for ages until someone finally won.) I got involved in a truly elaborate trade negotiation that went on for what felt like half an hour before the main player ran away from the fight anyway. Good times.

    Also, Space Team is a really good spectator sport. Got that on my iPhone, have not gotten anyone together to play it.

    • CrabNaga

      I enjoy Munchkin and all its variants, but my one major complaint about it is that once someone gets to level 9, everyone just scrambles to stop them from getting a level. Then another person gets to level 9, and another, and another. We usually end up with over half of the people sitting at level 9, and the person to win is whoever is lucky enough to fight a monster when everyone else is out of their +5 to level of monster cards (or similar “screw you” cards). There’s no real strategy to it except “prevent this person from winning this turn” or “try to win this turn.” And then there are cards like Divine Intervention that can end a game immediately with absolutely no fanfare. Most of the time it honestly just feels like Anticlimax: The Game. 

      • WELCOME_THRILLHO

         Pretty much exactly how Munchkin works. Which is why Dwarf is the best race because it allows you to hold some of those spoiler cards until the very end.

        I can’t be too hard on a game that encourages such blatant extortion, though.

    • boardgameguy

      I’m not such a fan of Munchkin. The replayability is so low to me for what is essential a game that allows for zero strategy. The shifts and swings are just too big when everyone can randomly team up. I’m trying to remember if this is also the case with Cosmic Encounter. It’s been years since I’ve played that, but I recall it also allowed for wildly swinging alliances to prevent someone from getting their last colony. Anyone played it recently that can comment?

      • EmperorNortonI

         Yeah, that happened in Cosmic Encounter a bit, but depending on the power variant you were playing with it could be easier or harder to power past the opposition.

        For example, with 4-power mutator, where you play with 4 alien powers, and discard/draw one each turn, someone will eventually get a good enough combo that they can make a solid alliance and power through to a good mutual victory.

        But I think this is a problem with a LOT of older American boardgames, in that the endgame was really open-ended, and encouraged whack-a-mole type gameplay at the end.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Yeah, I don’t really want to bash on Munchkin too much since apparently a lot of people really dig it, but fuck that game is not for me at all. 

        I want to pick up Cosmic Encounter as I hear it’s a classic. Though I do get a bit worried when I hear it compared to Munchkin. Surely there’s strategery and stuff in CE, yeah? It’s largely a game of negotiation and backstabbing on a level beyond Munchkin’s “treachery,” right?

        • boardgameguy

          It is beyond Munchkin. And the different alien races and abilities adds to lots of the fun, plus tech development. As @EmperorNortonI:disqus noted, some sound strategy will actually benefit a player in Cosmic Encounter.

  • EmperorNortonI

    My Thai massage course, which I’m taking in beautiful Chiang Mai, is sufficiently exhausting, that Ive been putting a lot of evening time into gaming in my room, as I’m just too tired for anything else. And the only game Ive been playing is Fallen Enchantress. It does a lot of things no better than any other 4x game, and a few things a lot worse than others. For example, the AI factions simply have no clue how to build armies and fight battles, and it really feels sad beating them up one after the other. However, the role playing aspects, and the various PvE quests are a lot of fun, and scale really well, so that the endgame still feels interesting.

    I almost had the energy last night to set up my account for Wargame AirLand battle last night. Maybe I’ll succeed over the weekend.

    • EmperorNortonI

      So, Fallen Enchantress.

      It’s a fantasy 4x, in an odd-little world created by the owner of the company.  There are a bunch of factions with their own special abilities, and you can do the whole custom-faction thing if you like.  You get to recruit heroes as the game progresses, and go on quests to get doodads and thingamajigees.  Eventually you smash your neighbors, power up, and go for one of the various victory conditions – complete a super quest and a nasty PvE battle, beat your neighbors into submission, or research the “Spell of Mastery,” build a bunch of stuff to make it possible, and then cast it.

      The power balance in the game is oddly humanist.  The human factions can train all kinds of pretty standard units, archers and knights and whatnot, and improve them with gradually better gear.  One thing I REALLY like about this is how sensible all the gear is – the final tier weapons are well-made longswords and pikes, as opposed to ridiculous double axes that not even a martial artist could use.  But this leads to the odd humanism I mentioned above.  Higher-tier trained units are just well-armored and armed dudes, and they routinely beat the crap out of pretty much all the fantasy beasties.

      In a dark, post-apocalyptic fantasy world of warring channelers seeking the great magical shards to harness the power of the Earth itself, the most fearsome force is a group of 5 armored dudes with nasty spiked clubs.

      Magic in general is not all that powerful.  You have heroes who can cast all kinds of spells, but invariably the two most powerful spells were the “shield from arrows” spell, and heal.  There are a couple spells that can do some damage, but by the endgame they’re not enough to really hurt anything unless you’ve got a specialist Caster who is high level and has focused every skill point they’ve got on a particular branch of the Caster skill tree.  So that’s kind of odd.  I might have been able to optimize for casting better, but I don’t know.

      So, strong point of the game – lots of nasty neutral enemies to beat up, all throughout the game.  It game me something for my army to do, and was a way to keep leveling my heroes, even when I was not at war with anyone.

      Weak point of the game – the enemy AI is kinda pathetic, meaning if you’re not rolled by the random monsters in the early game, you are more or less guaranteed to win.

      It’s still pretty fun. 

      • ZTO

        Were you playing Fallen Enchantress or Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes? I was led to believe the Legendary Heroes expansion significantly powered up mages and magic. I think it was also supposed to make the AI a little better but I never played Fallen Enchantress (or Elemental) so I don’t know for sure.

        • EmperorNortonI

          I am playing the Legendary Heroes expansion version.

          Now, once again, it may be that I just didn’t spec my builds properly – but I just couldn’t get offensive magic to be worth all that much.

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

    This weekend, I’ll be playing some combination of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Rayman Origins, and Resonance. I’m making slow progress through each one, especially XCOM, since that game is too stressful to play for more than an hour at a time.

    I may also be going to a board game night next week. I’m pumped.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       That’s a stacked lineup Merve.  You’ve got the best AssCreed in the series, the best 2D platformer to come out in years (including all those New Super Mario Bros games Nintendo keeps putting out but I won’t rant!), an adventure game made by a really cool dude (he’s from my hometown and he’s really nice. The guy narrating the newscast at the beginning of the game is our local Classical Radio DJ!) and X-Com.

      Oh sweet mama X-Com, I prey you haven’t seen one of your precious heavies, who is as near and dear to your heart as your own mother, attacked by a chryssalid and turned into a zombie that you have to shoot through tears.

      Solid lineup buddy.

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

        I’ve seen dead soldiers transformed into zombies by chryssalids.

        I’ve seen mind controlled soldiers shooting and killing their former allies.

        I’ve seen panicked soldiers turn on their friends.

        I’ve seen wounded soldiers bleed out when no medkits were around.

        I’ve seen it all, man, and it wasn’t pretty.

  • rvb1023

    Seeing friends in Milwaukee this week, so pretty much focusing on handhelds when I get a chance. Still playing SMT IV and may start FE: Awakening which I picked up for that $30 credit which will then go toward Ace Attorney 5.

    The Secret World surprisingly has me hooked for the time being and the more time I spend with it the more I wish it had been single player with maybe a multiplayer option. I have never felt the urge to party up but I really want to explore the psuedo-linear environments.

    Also at the tail end of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon. Really wish I knew what to think of this game. It’s quite small and supporting characters are introduced and dropped quickly, but it has a rough charm to it and some genuinely somber moments.

  • vinnybushes

    Well after being away for a month doing family related things I returned home to the pre-ordered Ouya that showed up on my doorstep the day after I had left and can now claim the title of first gameologician to have one.
     
    First impressions? It’s really a decent little box if you give it a chance. the controller isn’t perfect but it’s not as horrendously bad as the internet would have you believe. I actually really enjoy the d-pad on it and any problems people tell you about controller lag or general unresponsiveness seem to be limited to bad coding in certain games and aren’t the fault of the nice folks at Ouya. The touch pad in the middle of the controller doesn’t seem to be used by any game I’ve played and the left and right triggers are a little Janky but there aren’t any deal breakers.

    As for the games, it’s a mixed bag. The situation right now is a little similar to early days of the xbla marketplace where there were some genuine gems and a fair amount of crap. There are plenty of emulators, certainly, some of them fairly polished. There’s an nes emulator called emuya that doesn’t have perfect compatibility with the whole nes library but also includes a little marketplace to play independently made nes roms like streemerz and a bunch of others I hadn’t heard of. It’s best feature is a built in filter unlike any other I’ve seen that makes every nes game you play look exactly like it’s being played on a shitty crt tv. It’s absolutely sublime. The n64 emulator works with some games but the hardware has trouble with some of them. from what I understand the ps1 emulator is pretty terrible, so anyone thinking that Ouya’s own library would be drowned out by the libraries of early 3d consoles are being a little alarmist.
     As for original games the Ouya version of Knighmare Tower is fantastic and I bought it after approximately 1 minute. I honestly can’t think of another way to play it than with an Ouya controller. The controls are just perfect, and proof positive that the Ouya controller works just fine. I bought double fine’s Dropchord today and it plays surprisingly well with two analogue sticks, even if the tutorial is terrible.
      The supposed worst game on the Ouya, Amazing Frog is actually an intentionally terrible physics sandbox in the vein of something like sumotori dreams. I don’t know why people though it was a serious release, I mean, it takes place in an office park in Swindon! It’s silly fun.
    most of the ouya’s best games are couch based multiplayer games and I’ve yet to wrangle any friends to play Towerfall, Bomb squad, Hidden in Plain Sight, or the Ouya version of You Don’t Know Jack. So, I can’t give any definitive rulings on those. Also, for those of you worried you’ll have to shell out a ton of extra money for more controllers there is an option to pair ps3 and xbox 360 controllers with the console though the compatibility varies from game to game.
    As for non game apps, I used the twitch tv app to watch large swathes of the summer games done quick marathon and someone just ported over vlc to the console so I may load up my thumb drive with some videos and see how that goes.

    Overall, the Ouya hardware does the job and I’m basically doing what every console early adopter does and waiting for the library of games to expand to something I can feel proud of. We’ll see if it gets that far but it easily clears  the bar I’ve set to determine if it was $100 dollars well spent.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       For $100, Ouya definitely seems like a contender over the bloated mainstream consoles next time I’m looking to buy some hardware.  Unfortunately I’m not one to early adopt just to show my support of a concept (I wish I could but I really just don’t have the resources to be that kind of a consumer) but I really hope (for the sake of this project and similar endeavors) someone comes up with the proverbial killer-app that makes it a must-buy.

      • DrFlimFlam

        My concern with the Ouya is the same concern I have with my iDevices going forward. It’s not about paying $1-10 for a game; it’s about playing a game for free or low cost and then almost being forced to fork over more money for as long a I want to enjoy the game.

    • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

      The one thing I can truly say I definitely like about an Ouya game at the moment is You Don’t Know Jack. It plays exactly like the 2011 XBox 360/PS3/Wii/PC version (with a little less graphical polish), with one SPECTACULAR difference: there’s a QR code on the player select screen that allows you to use your Android or iOS device on the same wifi network as a buzzer (which is great because absolutely nobody has four Ouya controllers). With this functionality, the Ouya could turn out to be a fantastic device for Game Show-type games, but I have no idea if we’ll see any more, or even a second set of episodes for YDKJ.

      • mizerock

        Great feature, why wouldn’t games take advantage of the fact that so many people alread own a touch-sensitive display device that supports WiFi? And even the next-gen consoles won’t have that feature, probably because it would cost them a lot of money to license it. But then again, how would Ouya afford it if it was a legal nightmare to set up? It’s not like this can be done with grey-market code running on an emulator.

        • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

          I don’t think there’s anything to license, we’ve already seen this concept running in a Sawbuck from a few months back. As long as you don’t need tactile buttons or thumbsticks, it’s a great idea that we’ll probably see more of in the future. I’d love to see a PS4 installment of Sony’s Buzz! series that allowed you to use your smartphone/tablet in lieu of yet another plastic peripheral.

      • vinnybushes

         Yeah, I’m definitely looking to wrangle a bunch of people for an oldschool multiplayer night. That’s one aspect of my ouya I’m really looking forward to.

    • dreadguacamole

       I’m pretty uninterested in it as a games console, but considering getting one (or one of its upcoming competitors) for XBMC and streaming games from my desktop computer – it’s still early days, but there are some promising hints that splashtop or some nvidia tech might allow it for a fraction of the cost of an alternative.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    In honor of the heat of summer, I’m taking a break from  The Last of Us and switching to Tropico 4.  Its fun and (despite everyone comparing it SimCity) plays like a modern Caesar city-builder.  I’m also really enjoying that the way you select traits for your leader allows you to incorporate a very light level of role-playing, which is fun and adds to replay value.

    • EmperorNortonI

       I dumped a ton of hours into that game.  “Light fun” and “Caesar-like” are good descriptions, I think.

    • Smilner

       ZMF is a huge, huge fan of Tropico 4.

  • Crusty Old Dean

    Super first-world problem: I wish the weather wasn’t so damn nice where I am. I’ve had three weeks of staycation in the city and there have been like two cloudy days. Also I live on one of those parts of the planet where the sun barley goes away at night this time of year. It’s partly a mental thing where it just feels morally wrong to sit indoors when the sun is shining, and partly that you can hardy make out what’s on the screen when it’s too bright, you just see your own annoyed face reflected back. 

    If people knew how I felt about the weather they’d probably want me locked up (summers are a huge, HUGE, deal in this neck of the woods). Glad I can vent about it here.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       Nothing wrong with your taking your laptop to a nice coffee shop patio and playing some Civ V or something, that’s how I get my gaming and my outside-ness on (though the glare can be a bother).

    • Uncle Roundy

      We had an unseasonably cool July in Texas. The whole month July was like “I think I’ll give these poor people a break”, and then August came in like “HAHAHA FUCK YOU CONSECUTIVE 100+ ALL WEEK”

  • DrFlimFlam

    I intend to beat the snow boss in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon this weekend. A game that is usually fun but can also be quite frustrating.

    Animal Crossing, more ME2, more Saint’s Row the Third, and more FFVII. I can live with all of that.

  • Dave Dalrymple

    I just finished playing Final Fantasy VI for the umpteenth time. It was a lot shorter than I remember. It took me less than 30 hours, and I did almost every optional thing possible. 

    Yoshi’s Island is in the machine right now. I’m tempted to unlock the secret levels, but it’s so hard. Mario cries. Then I cry. Then Kamek laughs. He’s such a little troopa. 

    • DrFlimFlam

      Okay, I laughed.

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

    Today I’ll be playing a lot of games made over the course of this week by super-nerdy fifth-graders in the summer camp class I’ve been teaching. This year, we let them go kind of wild making custom controllers with Makey-Makey, which led to one kid insisting we try controlling his co-op ninja adventure game using the grapes from his lunchbox.

    This weekend I might play a little more Wario Land 2, but will mostly be playing a combo of “find things to do around town so I don’t spend all weekend awkwardly puttering around the apartment of the guy I don’t know very well who I’m couchsurfing with while in DC” and “plan how to teach this game design stuff to 2nd and 3rd graders with no prior experience in Game Maker next week.”

    • DrFlimFlam

       It sounds like you may have the next Molyneux.

      • CrabNaga

        Imagine you’re locked in a room with a game and a controller made out of food. The only way to get out is to beat the game. You are allowed to eat the controller, but eating each part will prevent you from using that button while playing the game. How do you balance your gaming and hunger to survive? -Peter Molydeux

    • ItsTheShadsy

      Welcome to DC temporarily!

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Put that thing on github dude, I wanna play that kids’ jam!

      [pun intended]

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    Just finished Popolocrois yesterday, and today Boku no Natsuyasumi 4 arrived. So that and waiting for the latest issue of Scroll. Synergy!

    • Effigy_Power

      I don’t know what those words mean.

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        Scroll is a pretty neat video game magazine, and their latest issue focuses on the series the game I just got is from: http://scroll.vg/issues/10

        …but I can understand if you don’t want to buy it right away.

        • Effigy_Power

          I might just be able to resist. ^_^

  • Chum Joely

    Coming to the end of my week of in-town vacation, taking care of long-postponed errands and of course a fair amount of video games, before heading off to a cottage in the countryside for a week and then another week with family in the States. So “this weekend” will mostly be tonight and Saturday morning, finishing up the gaming I’ve been up to all week.

    At the start of the week, I quickly polished off Child of Eden– I really only had the last level to finish for my first playthrough of the “campaign”. There’s a lot of cheesiness to the way they present “Lumi”, the AI you’re supposed to be setting free with all of your arcadey shooty goodness, but there’s a psychedelic joy to that game that I really like. Thumbs up.

    I haven’t finished (or probably come very close to finishing) XCOM: Enemy Unknown– having lots of fun with it, but stuck on the mission where you invade the alien base, where I keep getting overwhelmed by those fucking Chrysalids every time, even though I’m playing on Easy difficulty. My fighters are all named after musicians, and there’s no way I’m going to just let Cpt. Chubb Rock, Lt. Tina Weymouth, and Lt. Cansei de Ser Sexy die and keep playing without them. I’ll replay the alien base until they make it through alive.

    On a break from XCOM, I decided to dip my toe back into Driver: San Francisco, and ended up playing from midnight to 4am. I forgot how exciting the driving is in that game. Plus, the soundtrack is pretty great, and even the mediocre voice acting somehow fits nicely with the corny 70s action flick tone of the game. So I’m actually getting back into the “missions” rather than just randomly driving around and causing massive crashes as I originally planned.

    • DrFlimFlam

       I want to get to XCOM so bad but it’s still behind the finish of the ME trilogy replay and SKYRIM. Because that won’t take the rest of the year.

    • Chum Joely

      Oh, I think I will start up the first couple hours of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I won’t be progressing much in that before I go off to the cottage and unplug for a week.

    • Roswulf

       Heh…I kind of love the fact that you can’t get past the Chrysalids. Enemy Unkown is a really well-done remake, but the way it bumps the Chrysalids down to a swarming, second tier threat is a crime.  I still get shivers imagining the tap…tap…tap of the feet of a single original-incarnation Chryssalid.

      And the key to survival on X-Com is to take things slow. Only have your first soldier reveal terrain, everyone else follows in his footsteps. So the minute a Chryssalid pack arrives, you’ve got six soldiers ready to blow them to smithereens. I find it intensely boring to play this way all the time (and that’s why I’ve never really gotten into Classic/Impossible)- but when you are stuck that’s the way to go.

      • Chum Joely

        Based on what has worked in previous missions (this game is my first foray into turn-based strategy), I have actually been breaking into two teams of three and taking two separate paths to where I’m going. That does have the issue that at times, half of the group is out of sight/range of the other, so improvised defense maneuvers are more difficult.

        The idea of making sure that everyone should always be in the best possible position to cover everyone else definitely clicked for me on the alien base mission (team 1 leader draws out the first Chrysalids, team 2 leader fires a rocket across the whole map to send them sky-high). And for the most part, I do take things slow… like never sprint, just move one hop at a time in case the first move reveals enemies. But sometimes I get impatient and that’s inevitably when a previously unnoticed group of 4 Chrysalids pops out of nowhere.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       You need at least two quality snipers who always have a line of sight on your front runner to take on Chryssalids. 

      Also, I’m glad I’m not alone in my love for Driver: SF, though those annoying CGI heads that pop up during story missions are the living embodiment of uncanny valley. 

      You have to wonder if those developers feel abit miffed now that GTA V announced it’s switching mechanic and is getting loads of attention for it while they did the same thing (with only cars albeit) years ago.

    • Citric

      I love how Driver: SF never really forces you to do anything in any particular way. Like the races, you can drive really fast and rely on skill, but if you get sick of that you can usually rely on driving buses into your competition and it’s totally okay with that. When so many things are heavily scripted, it’s nice to have something that isn’t.

    • Effigy_Power

      I find the only way to dispose of Chrysalids safely is by positioning and Overwatch. A whole squad behind cover aiming down a narrow corridor can easily take out 2 Chrys’ running at you. Especially a heavy with the ability to fire more than once during Overwatch is a great asset.
      I just finished XCOM on easy myself and have to say: Overwatch is your friend.

  • stakkalee

    Saturday is more two-fisted gaming – the lineup will most likely be EVE Online, Fall From Heaven and Arkham City, because I feel like playing a button-mashing beat ‘em up.  The rest of the time I’ll probably be doing stupid weekend chores (stupid chores!) and then building more of Kennedy Plaza in the Shadowrun Returns editor.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Now that I’ve finished the main campaign (and checked out one custom mission, The Stuffer Shack), I’ll try to make time to check out the editor this weekend as well.

    • djsubversive

      oh, neat. I’ve been working on indoor areas in the SRR editor. I have a small lab with a morgue-like room and another room. I’ve only put a couple ‘bells and whistles’ in. Last night, I played around with lighting, with some success.

      I’ll probably work on a safehouse of some sort next. Even if it’s just a single-room squat with a computer, mattress, and fridge. 

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    I haven’t been playing much of anything lately. Aside from helping my spouse get through The Last of Us, there hasn’t been much of interest coming out, nor is there much on the horizon. I have been catching up on some of the runs from SGDQ, which have been pretty entertaining, except that that Blueglass guy is constantly in the background making stupid comments and laughing way too loudly. I don’t think he was out of the room for more than an hour the entire four days.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Definitely seems like a nice time to catch up on old games. So long as you don’t have a queue that goes back to the beginning of this generation.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    Oh boy, a lot of stuff. To celebrate my apartment move, I recently picked up a boatload of games. I’m currently addicted to Tekken Tag Tournament 2, which has completely consumed me in spite of my general ambivalence towards fighting games. I also picked up a few stray indie games, like Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space and Democracy 2. I’m gonna be busy.

    On the classic side, I’m working on Super Mario RPG (currently at Barrel Volcano). It’s still quite good, but I feel like I have a very distorted memory of it. All the sections I can most vividly remember from my first go-around are, for the most part, the shortest ones, and the opposite is true as well. Wonder why this is!

    • EmperorNortonI

       Weird Worlds is a ton of fun, a space-rougelike from back before it became hip and popular.

      Word of advice – avoid combat if at all possible until you’re pretty sure how your run is going to go.  Most “Good” runs can be managed without it, and it’s almost impossible to engage in more than one battle AND get a great score, as the battles tend to be quite lethal. 

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Tekken is awesome, it just takes so much time to get your skills up to halfway acceptable levels. It’s going to take forever for me to even try online again, it will have to be a project of several weeks to train myself up again. 

      It doesn’t help that half the time I’m actually just playing dress-up with the characters, but at least my fighters look awesome. Grinding Ghost Battles for new clothes can be annoying but I just do that in shorty bursts so it doesn’t get exhausting.

      • ItsTheShadsy

        Yeah I don’t think I’ll ever attempt online play, given the fighting game world. I managed to crush the offline arcade mode on Medium, which is nice, but I think I’m also gonna end up in the Ghost Battles for Pretty Clothes pattern.

  • boardgameguy

    I recently acquired the board game Takenoko. The premise is fun and silly – you are a Japanese gardener charged with taking care of your boss’ gifted panda from a Chinese business man. So you have to grow different kinds of bamboo to ensure the panda stays happy. The components are bright and beautiful, making the game a joy to play as tiles are laid and bamboo grows. http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1709127/takenoko?size=large

    Last weekend I finally beat Hotline: Miami and this weekend I hope to go back and find all the clues, unlock all the masks, and see the “true” ending. That game is so good.

    And if I have time, I’d love to get another play of Mage Knight.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       Just YouTube the true ending man. I tried to find a lot of the floating pixels but it just gets tiresome.  I’m sure there’s an achievement but who needs those anyway.

      Unlocking all the masks is totally worth it though.

      • boardgameguy

        but with the owl mask its easier to find them! also, i like a good challenge and don’t have a huge games backlog shaming me into moving on.

        • Fluka

          “I…don’t have a huge games backlog shaming me into moving on.”

          Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.  You lucky bastard.

        • boardgameguy

          my secret is to not buy games until i am ready to play them. the downfall is i’m still waiting to take part in the conversation about Fez, Binding of Isaac, and The Walking Dead. Who even knows when I’ll begin Rogue Legacy, FTL, or Kentucky Route Zero.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    So they interviewed Felicia Day about Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, and video gaming in general on the regular AVC website. I don’t know why there isn’t at least a link here, but: 

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/felicia-day-on-why-she-loves-the-last-of-us-and-bi,101103/

  • Smilner

    I just played Settlers (original) last Friday, and may well do so again tonight.  A couple games of Guillotine may come in, as well.  I finished re-played Arkham Asylum this past week and didn’t feel like gunning through Challenges for completion, so I jumped back into Arkham City the day before yesterday.  My almost-4-year-old loves the rendition of Scarecrow, and just wants me to play his stages over and over when I’m in Asylum.

    Also, I have her calling him “The Batting-Gentleman.”

    My 10 year old couldn’t care less about Batman, but is sure chomping at the bit for us to hop onto Character Builder and get her Elf Wizard appropriately powered up to lvl2 for the 4e campaign we’re in.

  • WELCOME_THRILLHO

    This weekend, I’ll be playing more Skyrim. I’m still early in the game with my latest character, but I’m hoping to take him to the end while closing out as many quest lines as I can. I’m figuring if I do the Companions on this one, I might save the College, Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood for other characters to make completion almost possible. I started up New Vegas again as well, but I’m likely to put it aside until I can at least get sick of Skyrim again.

    Really interested in playing the Shadowrun Returns game as well, so that may be a purchase.

    As far as tabletop games go- we’re continuing our swashbuckling Pathfinder game. The players are layed up at a Squib after escaping octo-goblin island, so we’re running through encounters until their stolen ship looks brand new. I also need to find time to paint the miniatures I got from the Reaper Kickstarter… and then read the Numenera PDF I got from THAT Kickstarter.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      You’re in luck with Shadowrun Returns if you decide to play, as they just patched all of the biggest bugs yesterday.  It’s a lot of fun, especially if you already love the setting.

      • Effigy_Power

        Damn, I wish I hadn’t known that. Now I have to consider buying it myself.

        • djsubversive

          Don’t be coy. You were already considering it. Yesterday’s patch just pushed it a little higher in the “must get” list.

          Plus, if you don’t buy Shadowrun Returns, how can you play our sweet Cthulhu-y campaign?

      • djsubversive

        yeah, the fix-list is nice and big. The butler-dude near the end found his stash of medical supplies. :) 

        Kneecap (the best thing about shotguns) needed a nerf, but a 3-turn cooldown is a bit much.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Heh, I just heard of that ability two days ago…and it got nerfed before I used it.

          I was very amused the one time I encountered the “overwatch shotgun shoots EVERYONE” bug though…the one time that happened it didn’t do enough damage to the PCs to even warrant a reload.  (I played on Easy obviously.)

        • djsubversive

           @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus so you didn’t abuse Coyote and her shotgun every chance you got?

          crazy, man.

  • dreadguacamole

     Not really sure – I’m saving Shadowrun for when I go out on holiday next week, along with some other games I know will run on my work laptop (Hello graphic adventures!)

    I should really sit down and finish Hitman: Absolution, since I’ve got it as a rental, but despite what I thought was a pretty strong start, it’s going downhill fast. I should also try and finish the new Metro before I go – I’m enjoying it, but I’ve got the feeling that if I lose more momentum it’ll get stuck in my backlog…

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      the ratio of good missions to bad ones is pretty sad, but there are some legit interesting ones, and the game is pretty short so you could probably power it through this weekend.

  • neodocT

    This weekend I’ll be playing Skyrim and Moving, the latter game is a frustrating mix of bureaucracy and tetris-like inventory management to see how much stuff I can fit in my bags as I move to the US next weekend. But mostly Skyrim!

  • bamfspace

    I’m going to keep plugging away at Shadowrun Returns. The cyberpunk setting is keeping me hooked. (Also currently reading “Neuromancer” just to keep the theme going.)

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    I want to relax and play a nice strategy game but currently I just have a bunch of really dense ones like Crusader Kings II and King of Dragon’s PAss that I don’t know if I’ll have the time to crack, so I’ll probably just revert to Rogue Legacy even though Ponce De Leon is wrecking me over and over.

    I also noticed the R-star classic Red Dead Redemption is at my local Redbox and I figured this was my chance to fix a grievous error I made when first playing the game (spoilers incoming), after catching all the bad dudes, and serving my piece, I went back to the farm with my wife and started doing the farm missions.  I got so incredibly bored with what I assumed was the epilogue to a long and beautiful game that I simply returned to whom I was borrowing it from.  When someone told me that there was an actual ending after the farm missions I guffawed.

    What the Hell!?!?  Who does that?  Hiding the ending behind a bunch of cattle ranching!

    But I still have my save in the farm missions so I suppose I could go back in and see what all the fuss is about.  RDR does hold the distinction of being one of only two games to make me cry real tears.  I mean, when you catch your old boss, and he just gives up and falls backwards off the cliff, and then this song plays… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yag41F7eCLU

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Is it just me or is there a sudden King of Dragon Pass resurgence going on? Was there a big RPS feature or something? I’m curious.

      • EmperorNortonI

         I think its been selling well on iPad.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         I purchased it from gog.com for $3 bucks after everybody on Reddit said it was worth at least a doritos locos taco and a mt dew.

    • duwease

      Ponce is the hardest miniboss, by far.  You just gotta keep running and striking only when it’s absolutely safe and hope for the best.  It helps to have a spellsword so you can spam him with magic and only have to close in to hit him with a sword here and there, but it’s hard to get your INT up enough to do a lot of damage without neglecting the other more important stats.

  • Mike Wolf

    I will mostly be playing Shadowrun Returns, which I love really rather a lot, to the point where I bought myself the 4th Edition of the tabletop rules and some supplements. (Yes, I know 5th Edition has just come out, but you can’t get it as a physical book yet, and the ones I got were heavily discounted.) As usual I will also be playing Team Fortress 2 instead of doing something productive.

    For whatever reason, I’ve not been able to get into the groove of any of my PS3 titles in the last week or so, but I do think I’ll be cancelling automatic renewal of PS Plus. So far, beyond some pretty minor discounts, the only real advantage has been discovering that I don’t like Catherine without actually having to buy a copy; the other downloadable titles, in the UK at least, have mostly either been things I’ve already got (e.g. Demon’s Souls, which is awesome) or very mainstream games that I’ve no interest in.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      I too have been persuaded to get some of the Shadowrun tabletop books by SR.  Probably picking them up early next week.  Too bad I haven’t had much luck finding a regular RPG gaming group in my area…I’ll probably end up reading the sourcebooks and a few novels/short stories, then setting them aside again.

    • WELCOME_THRILLHO

       I got the 4th ed. Shadowrun rules last year, so I was a little peeved that the 5th edition came out so soon after I made the investment. I still haven’t gotten to play it yet, just because I’m the only person that will shell out for the books in my group- and you really need more than one book if you’re going to create your own characters.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I’m probably going to play some more Rise of the Triad. Man, this is a great twitch shooter throwback. And the exploding bodies are pretty much as advertised. 

  • BarbleBapkins

    I have been playing La-Mulana, a very puzzle and exploration heavy Metroidvania game for the past week. It is so close to being an excellent game, the best puzzles are just enigmatic enough to make you feel like you are actually piecing together some ancient mystery while giving you enough information to actually, you know, figure some shit out.

    Unfortunately, and to its great detriment, it can be absolutely obtuse at other times, such as hiding an item needed to progress through a fairly early area in a random shop hidden in a completely unrelated place, and damn if I ever saw anything hinting at that.

    Despite problems like that I was having a pretty great time with it, but then I forgot to save after a boss, and now I don’t think I feel like going back.

  • Jackbert

    Just finished Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time and Fire Emblem: Awakening this morning. Awakening’s ending was as generic as the rest of the story, but Crack in Time’s was really exciting, and sweet-but-not-schmaltzy. This weekend I’ll finish up Bastion and try to beat kidney surgery in Surgeon Simulator 2013.

  • SonjaMinotaur

    I was considering getting a Wii U for Pikmin 3 this weekend and then I thought: first, I need that money for new glasses and second, wouldn’t it be just like me to blow $400+ on a new system (& games) and then spend the whole weekend still obsessively playing Animal Crossing New Leaf anyway? 

    • aklab

      Get some $7 glasses from zennioptical.com and then buy a Wii U! 

      • Effigy_Power

        Gunnar Glasses or bust.

  • fieldafar

    Journey is on sale at the PSN, so I’m gonna try and spend some time on that.

  • Effigy_Power

    I just came back from the worst vacation of my life, so I will play just about anything I can get my hands on to wash away the borderline Luddite-stank of Northern Ontario’s Provincial Park System.
    Besides that I will also enjoy actual plumbing, an internet connection and the ability to not be eaten by Horse Flies.
    Hooray for technology.

    • Smilner

       Hum.  I was hoping against hope that your luddite sabbatical would go a bit better than that.  Welcome back to the glories of human achievement.

      • Effigy_Power

        Especially plumbing.

    • djsubversive

      You know it’s bad when Effigy decides that a zombie game is acceptable. 

      • Effigy_Power

        That is indeed a sign of the coming end times.

    • aklab

      I’ll light one up in your honor tonight. 

      ..An electric light. I’ll turn on an electric light.

      • Effigy_Power

        I have a vaporizer, so I can do both.

    • Citric

      Given that you seem to remember most of it you probably didn’t drink as much as most Canadians on such vacations.

      • djsubversive

        I may not be Canadian, but “camping” means “drug/alcohol abuse, but in the woods. also, fire.”

        Effigy was just “outside with a bunch of people” for however many days.

      • Effigy_Power

        It was neither as drug-fueled as I wanted it nor as boozy. A great amount of drinking time was wasted with “swatting for massive insectoids”.
        On the upside, I brought most of that booze home.

        • Citric

          See the proper way to go “camping” is to get so drunk and filled with drugs that sleeping outside seems like a good idea anyway. 

          Frankly if the mosquitoes don’t die immediately after drinking your highly toxic blood you’re far too sober.

  • duwease

    I’m chiming in awfully late, but I’ve gotten back to Dragon Age 2, and things are starting to fall into place for me.  However, haven’t had too much time for it because

    ROGUE FRIGGIN LEGACY  is addictive as all hell.  Spent every spare moment all week beating normal mode, and now there’s New Mode +??  Auuuuuuuugh!!

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

    Well, I wasn’t expecting to, and even though I’ve pretty much wrung it dry once already, Saints Row: The Third.  I beat it and all the DLCs on PS3, but I got the full package in the current Deep Silver Humble Bundle so I figured what the heck, I’ll tool around in a street sweeper for a while and run over as many people as I can.  Suddenly, hours have passed and I’m done with Act I, and there are so many upgrades to get, and territories to purchase, and activities all over the map!  Maybe I’ll finally try some co-op, which I never did on the PS3 since I never had a buddy to paint the town red with.

    • djsubversive

      You’ve pimped-out your street sweeper, right?

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

        Ha, not yet!  I’ll make a point of it when I play next.

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

    I’ll probably play the next Gameological Revue game, which is looking like it’s going to be FTL, but since I finished the single-player campaign of Portal 2, I might start something else that’s in the queue, like Bastion or Hotline Miami. And I should probably get around to finishing the last two chapters of The Walking Dead…

  • Pandas_please

    I think I’m going to try to start into L.A. Noire this weekend. I’ve heard the game boils down to something that is, basically, an adventure game, which I love. Other than that, all I know about the game is they used some strange facial capture and your character sometimes gives very unexpected responses that make him seem crazy.

    I’m not a big fan of noire fiction but I’m curious to see how well they replicate it.

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