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Video Games of 2013 [GO]
Jan 3rd, 2014 by Dan

Chifles

This is where a lot of the magic happened this year.

Writing this list each year is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the year. It forces some perspective on what I played and coheres my thoughts on the experiences this year. I spent less time with video games this year, to the tune of 19 fewer games played. 2013 heralded a shift toward portable games for me thanks to a rapidly maturing 3DS library and a nice, new phone.

JANUARY

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – If you thought 999 had the coolest story in video games, you’ve clearly never gotten around to spending enough time with VLR. The advantage of being a one-system game gives 999 a slight advantage in its huge twist moment, but VLR‘s meditations on quantum theory and its further exploration of the morphic resonance forces tons of interesting thought experiments. It’s a narrative gut punch that unravels with a brilliant pace.

The Cave – Ron Gilbert made himself a neat, interesting meditation on obsession and enlightenment, except he also mad ea game with ridiculous padding that required too much repetition of the same puzzles. It’s funny, but, sadly, I wasn’t ever able to motivate myself to go for all the endings.

FEBRUARY

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – I absolutely love these games, but I don’t know if I should keep getting them for a few years. I just don’t have the time to finish whole seasons any more. Maybe I should just get the last PS3 one and wait a while for the PS4 ones to get good?

Fire Emblem: Awakening – Allowing players to grind for levels was a weird decision. I think I got too distracted with grinding and lost momentum and motivation to finish the game. Still got a ways to go…It’s a strong SRPG, but I’m so distracted with other portable games that I haven’t gone back to it yet.

MARCH

Tomb Raider – Remember when I beat this game on my channel? It was pretty good. I didn’t have high expectations for Tomb Raider remade to be Uncharted, but it actually held its own pretty well. If it had a better handle on its narrative it might have ended up one of the best games of this year, but you just can’t hide significant story details in found audio or text logs…

Sim City – What a shitshow. Seriously. EA really dropped the ball on this one with the overloaded servers and poor handling of their PR. To top it off, city simulation managed to feel simpler and less deep than Sim City 3000 which, I’ll remind you, was released about 14 years ago…

Bioshock Infinite – Remember how I said that audio logs are stupid? That’s the bread and butter of this series and it’s overdone. The shooting lacked a little impact, but the skyhook was pretty fun. Supposedly this game has a cool ending and a neat story, but I’ve had trouble motivating myself to come back to this to finish my series on it.

Dead Space 3 – Played this all the way through with David. Co-op = fun and awesome. Game itself…not so much. Just a laughably bad story, but we had a good time playing it together.

Harmoknight – Tiny little rhythm game by Game Freak. I ended up not loving the timing of the button presses, but I did like the relaxed plot and creative arrangements.

APRIL

Digital: A Love Story – I don’t really remember why I ended up deciding to explore Christine Love’s oeuvre, but the fact that her first two larger releases were free probably contributed. Digital covers a time period that is slightly before my internet days (one where BBS was king) and the love story is, ultimately, not quite convincing enough, but it was interesting and it tangentially ties into Analogue

don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story – I rant to all kinds of people about how privacy in the modern era is an illusion. don’t take it personally goes and makes the argument for me. It also highlights how those of us in charge and legislating now still don’t really get it (and probably never will). Never have I seen a game do a better job at illustrating the generational gap and give both fairly substantial and even weight. The only thing I didn’t like was the kind of gross romance subplot…

Poker Night 2 – Remember the first Poker Night? It’s a little more advanced than that, but I like Ash and CL4P-TP less…

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – There was a fantastic couple of days where Min, David, and I just rocked most of the Monaco campaign and its prestige mode. Man, what a ridiculously fun co-op game. Especially with the way that David plays with his burrowing through every wall…

MAY

Rayman Legends – Better than Origins in some ways. Murfy is interesting too, but I have yet to play a level as cool as the treasure chase levels…

JUNE

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Slow and leisurely. The feel-good, laid back game of the year. Animal Crossing might be low on action, but it’s so overwhelmingly nice and welcoming that it feels like the kind of world I’d want to live in. It’s just too bad that the guilt factor of being away for too long keeps me away.

The Last of Us – Yet another game I played to completion on my challenge. The chief problem with The Last of Us is that it’s just not fun to play. There’s nothing fun about the ugly violence committed by and against Joel and Ellie. It’s a brutal, depressing game that beats you down and ends with an unreasonably selfish decision that makes for a uniquely interesting ending and experience.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future – Didn’t quite finish this one. It’s more Layton. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not gonna set anything on fire with its innovative ways.

JULY

Analogue: A Hate Story – The summer sale allowed me to finally pick up a game I’d heard such intriguing things about. Like Christine Love’s other games, Analogue is about a spaceship society that went kind of…weird. It was heavily modeled on an Joseon society that actually existed and it was a little horrifying. The way it all plays out is a little voyeuristic, but also super interesting and fun. I can’t wait to play Hate Plus to learn how the ship developed in this way.

Shin Megami Tensei IV – This is not Persona. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s odd that the two don’t borrow from each other a whole lot more. SMT IV still does things that feel so old-fashioned while Persona feels so progressive and fun. Definitely the best old-school JRPG that I’ve played in a while.

Evoland – It’s all kind of a joke, really, and not a very fun one, unfortunately.

Thomas Was Alone – You play as these little shapes! They’re so cute! There’s a really fun story! British accents!

AUGUST

Pikmin 3 – I was surprised by how much I loved this game. Allowing the player to split attention between three avatars was a brilliant move for efficient play. I’m more surprised that I haven’t yet gone back to finish it because it’s ridiculously fun.

Rogue Legacy – Sharp, tight controls. Super fun conceit with the progression of heirs. Go play it. It’s the Metroidvania/Roguelike-like of the year.

Papers, Please – Have you ever wanted to run a depressing, Soviet-style border checkpoint? Yeah…that’s this. It sounds dreary and boring and it kind of is, but that’s the secret genius of the game. The mundane tasks infect your morality and you actually start trying to game the system in a lot of insidious and awful ways. It’s kind of gross, but also very powerful.

SEPTEMBER

Didn’t start any new games in Sept!

OCTOBER

Plants vs. Zombies 2 – I don’t like playing this on my phone. It’s a silly complaint, but the game just isn’t good on that small a space. I’ll come back to it on PC.

Pokemon Y – The revolution we were all waiting for. 3D pokemon is awesome. Less awesome: the still asinine/mediocre story. I just wish Nintendo would step up the level of interest in the story if they are going to continue to try to force more and more complicated stories on the games. Other than that, the perfect pokemon evolution. Seriously awesome.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – So it’s not the best Ace Attorney game out there. It’s lacking the influence of Shu Takami and that has a bigger impact than I would have expected. The game is more anime-y, if that makes sense, and a little less cohesive, but it’s still the best ridiculous, non-real world law simulator out there. Good times.

Hometown Story – Not good times. It’s by the Harvest Moon guy, but it feels half done and not too put together. I only gave it an hour, but I didn’t like what I played so far.

NOVEMBER

Ridiculous Fishing – Avoid the fish on the way down, hit them on the way up. Slick Disasterpeace music, neat art design, a weird story. Pretty fun way to kill time on your phone.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – The music in this game is so…good. It’s a must to play this with headphones. The way the game handles the 3D graphics is also super fresh and vital. I wish I’d played more, but I’m saving it for after Pokemon and Phoenix Wright.

Super Mario 3D World – The most brilliant execution of game mechanics released this year. That final boss…holy cow! It’s even fun for four players, unlike some of the NSMB games. Perfection. Get a Wii U and play it.

XCOM: Enemy Within – You’d think that the new additions would be incremental and not all that game-changing, but the MEC stuff and the difficulty curve tweaks for Classic have made this game way different and way tougher, but also…more fun. Those robot suits are badass.

DECEMBER

Super Mario 3D Land3D World made me insanely curious about Land, another game people rave about. Holy eff. The way the system makes use of its 3D engine is super cool. This game is so full of brilliant platforming that feels more rewarding than anything else. It’s less ambitious than 3D World by necessity, but this game (so far) is just a wee bit better realized on its platform.

NES Remix – Less fun than I was hoping it would be. Making it more Wario-esque would have been better, I think. Still kind of neat and only $15.

Project X Zone – I think I’d need a little more time to have a definitive verdict on this, but it’s reasonably fun. I just want to play as Rockman. Right now.

The Walking Dead 400 Days – Five (very) short stories. Five (very) smartly told stories. I really do love how the vignettes say something about each person in the camp and about each person who plays the game. I only wish they hadn’t tied an achievement to the Paper, Rock, Scissors part.

The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just as polished and well put together as S1, in my opinion. I have no idea why some people haven’t liked the first episode as much. It’s tragic and brutal and just as insane.

Risk of Rain – Played a few rounds with Min and Lee. Brilliant co-op, but it feels just a touch half-done in its menus and interface. Worth continuing to investigate in 2014.

What I’ve Been Doing 3 June 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jun 3rd, 2013 by Dan

Dead Space 3

Katie was out of town, so I spent most of the weekend mainlining Dead Space 3 with David and not seeing these weird soldiers because, I dunno, video games! (Photo by GameXpect)

The funny thing about this list is that it was mostly generated over the weekend when Katie was out of town. The rest of week I spent watching the second best baseball game I’ve ever seen and hanging out with her and Kara.

Movies

Guys…I just want to see Star Trek. Why haven’t I seen it yet?!

TV

Veep – I hadn’t even thought of the comparison until I read it on The AV Club, but it’s fascinating how some photo memes turn into viral, badass things and others are just embarrassing.

Community – Finally saw the body switching episode. I guess the Troy and Britta thing never really worked or gelled in the non-Harmon era, but I don’t know that I buy that Troy would handle it that way considering how much he struggled to get Abed to confront his feelings last year. Not a bad episode otherwise.

Happy Endings – Best line of the four (or so) episodes I saw: “If I met you today, we would not be friends”. I wish the show hadn’t gotten rid of Pete, but it remains as funny as ever. The news that ABC won’t pick up this show (and it’s questionable status as a TBS or USA pickup) saddens me greatly.

Music

Here’s a great track by Thundercat, “Oh Sheit It’s X”

Books

Uh…I swear I’m not an uncultured animal. I swear!

Video Games

Monaco – Holy crap, Min, Dave, and I are just stumped by the museum level. We need a fourth who’s very good at the game, methinks…

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – Still moving along slowly. I thought I was gonna beat it last night, but I chose to Monaco it up with Min and Dave instead.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – Mostly playing the daily puzzles and not even touching the story. I’ve got two games to beat before I get to it anyway, so get off my case!

Dead Space 3 – Played just…hours and hours (like 8 this week) of this over the weekend. Dave and I are nearly done and having a blast recording it for the channel. Hopefully we get good views from that, but even if we don’t we’ve had fun. My favorite part: fighting Necromorphs for 10 minutes while David tries to figure out what to do in hallucination-land.

EDIT:

Somehow left off…

DmC Devil May Cry – Beat this sucker and the Vergil DLC over the weekend. I never played the original games, but the attitude and fun of this version is rather tongue in cheek and very funny. It could easily have been too self-serious and boring, but they 100% avoided that.

What I’ve Been Doing 20 May 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
May 20th, 2013 by Dan

community_image_1366823714

The characters don’t actually look this good, but this game is super fun with multiple people.

There was a point this weekend where I thought I was gonna clean to prepare for David and Kendra’s visit this weekend. Then I ended up playing Monaco with David and Min, Borderlands 2 with Yin and Lee, and Dead Space 3 with Dave, not to mention all the Poker Night and Bioshock Infinite I played on my own. Oh well…I’ll get a chance to clean later this week, right?

Movies

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – The release of the new color hardcover version of volume 3 made me want to watch the movie for a third (fourth?) time. This was also the first time Min had seen it after reading the comic. I think it went over a lot better.

TV

The Amazing Race – Watched the season 22 finale that took place in WASHINGTON, D.C.! So cool! I wish that Team Youtube hadn’t been eliminated, but I thought the season was a lot of fun to watch.

Parks and Recreation – Pretty solid finale. Everyone’s got a great cliffhanger for the next season and it was plenty funny. I know many of you read this blog and don’t watch this show. Skip season 1 and start watching this because it’s the best comedy on tv.

The Americans – I’ll admit that not sleeping through part of the episode makes it a little more interesting. Only one episode left to catch up and watch and I’m genuinely excited to see how it ends.

Music

Chance the Rapper’s got a sweet mixtape you can pick up for free at his site. Here’s a solid track from the tape.

Books

Unless you count reading the hardcover Scott Pilgrim (I don’t), then no.

Video Games

Borderlands 2 – Not sure if this would be half as fun without three buddies, but it’s fun to just chill and shoot up baddies, so I’m cool with it.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – Been doing daily puzzles during off time. So addictive! I need to finish the previous games…

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – The “prestige” pickpocket levels have a great narrative twist and are hard enough to make things interesting. I still love having like five hacker things following me around.

Rayman: Legends – Just as good as Origins and almost better with Murfy. Gotta remember to do more daily challenges, but otherwise awesome.

Bioshock Infinite – The debut Dan Plays episode of Infinite posted today and it was recorded in March. It’s been that long since I last played, but I got a solid session in and…I like Elizabeth. A lot. Great addition. Columbia feels equally silly, but the story has a lot more intrigue to it for me than Bioshock vanilla did.

Dead Space 3 – Man, take any game and put co-op in it and I bet it turns out a ton better. Playing this with David for my channel has been a real riot. I can’t wait to get more time in, but I’m most likely gonna have to wait until David gets back to Iowa. Bummer!

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