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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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…


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.


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!


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.


Didn’t start any new games in Sept!


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.


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.


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 15 July 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 15th, 2013 by Dan

Pacific Rim Locandina

Giant mechs and giant monsters. I’m all in. (Photo courtesy Domenico)

You know how the saying goes, right? When the cat’s away, go see a kaiju homage movie. It was silly stupid fun and it was awesome.


Tokyo Godfathers – Min and I were looking for something to watch during dinner and I finally convinced him to check out Satoshi Kon’s fairy tale/holiday story. I love how happy this movie is and ends. Very few mind games for a Satoshi Kon flick too.

Pacific Rim – Giant robots, somewhat hammy acting, and great special effects make Dan a happy man. Go into it with your expectations properly in place and you’ll dig it too.


Mad Men – Peggy’s phone conversation with the pastor is pretty awesome/hilarious. Really the only episode of the latest season I’ve seen was the premiere, but it was fantastic and I’m excited for the rest of the season that’s just hanging out on my dvr. Just gotta find the time.


I don’t really have anything for you today. Maybe next week?


Not this week.

Video Games

Donkey Kong ’94 – The Game Boy remake/sequel to the arcade game is so awesome I knew I had to get it from Club Nintendo. Seriously one of the best games I’ve ever played and I’m loving getting through it again.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – I bought so many turnips…I hope I get a good price.

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – My Hiroshima Carp are having a surprisingly solid April. The bottom third of the lineup is an out magnet, but I’ll hopefully be able to shore it up with free agents or a trade.

The Last of Us – I thought I was in the last section of the game, but it appears that another few hours are left. Almost there…

What I’ve Been Doing 24 June 2013 AND 1 July 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 2nd, 2013 by Dan

Honest Tea's Reach is Impressive

This has nothing to do with what I did this past couple of weeks, but I love this tea. Actually, I did drink a lot of it over the past few weeks…

Whoa, whoops! I forgot to get this up on time! I forgot to even post this yesterday! Been too busy, but we’re back now!


Brick – I’ve seen the movie before, but I figured I’d watch it as I fell asleep last Saturday. Made it through about half while conscious, but drifted off soon after. It definitely feels like a freshman effort. Hard to believe that Looper is only Rian Johnson’s third film.

Pitch Perfect – Love this movie. It’s so ridiculous, but I dig the music. It was on to fall asleep this past Saturday, but I couldn’t stop watching it to snooze.


Psych – Katie and I were looking for something to just watch one night and we ended up catching the Clue homage and the radio murder one. The show’s a little silly and not very good, but it’s enjoyable enough tv.

Veep – The show’s not as biting or funny to me in its sophomore year, but we’re also not quite done with it. We’ll see how everything manages to come together in the end.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Finally managed to push through the Incan mummy episode. It was…not good. Now I can finally move on!


Two songs. The first is a summer jam: “Collard Greens” by Schoolboy Q feat. Kendrick Lamar. Good times.

Numero dos is “Man” by Neko Case. Another great track.


The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First – Jonah Keri’s profile on the Tampa Bay Rays has been interesting so far, but I’ve still got a ways to go. It was weird how the forward was written by Mark Cuban, considering that he’s, you know, a billionaire and his team is run with plenty of cash.

Video Games

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – My town is doing rather well. We’ve got two new bridges and a new nightclub. Tons of fun!

The Last of Us – Pretty much down to the home stretch of sorts for this game. It’s been brutal and sometimes not very fun, but I’ve really been enjoying how well it tells a story.

Rayman Legends – The challenges remain fun, but I’m ready for the full game to finally come out

Mega Man X – Picked it up on VC because of Nintendo credit Eric gave me. It’s still a solid game, but I end up missing the maneuverability of Zero in his GBA games.

Professional Yakyu Spirits 2013 – Finally got my Carp season underway. I’m doing really well, but the AI is still adjusting to my skill. Can’t wait to get more games in. This version has way better animations than 2012. There was this one diving play at short that had a sweet semi-shovel to second. Very cool stuff.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – Game…COMPLETE! Finished off the story. Pretty silly and somewhat dumb, but enjoyable enough.

What I’ve Been Doing 25 March 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 25th, 2013 by Dan

Dr. White must be cold...

It really should be a snow day today, but circumstances conspire against me… (Photo by Hobbes vs Boyle)

It’s cold and snowy and I hate it, but this should (hopefully) be winter’s last hurrah before spring and baseball season.


Silver Linings Playbook – You know? I actually enjoyed this movie a lot more on second viewing. The acting is all quite good. Definitely one you should see if you have yet to catch it.


The Americans – Mole spotting and infidelity ahoy these past two episodes. Still rather intriguing. Definitely not the best show on tv, but definitely fun and worth watching.

Archer – Haven’t managed to watch the most recent episode yet, but the tower one and the coyote one were both superb. Just super funny stuff.

Girls – This year’s finale was messy and kind of rushed feeling. I like that they’re all back where they were (under different circumstances) from last year, but I also didn’t love how much it felt like a happy ending when, based on what we know about these people, it really shouldn’t be.

The Amazing Race – The Vietnam leg was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. That pro-Socialism song is something I want in my music library, seriously. The Botswana leg was cool too. I have no idea why anyone would opt to do a task where you have to make fire with sticks. Too. Hard.

Happy Endings – Watched the kickball episode to prep Katie for kickball last week. Still super funny. Yippie Ki Yay Mother Failure!

Community – Really not enjoying the new show. :sigh:. This is like the eighth time that Jeff and Pierce have a moment. Also the show is way sappier this year.

New Girl – Do not like the Jess and Nick storyline at all. I was really hoping that she wouldn’t date any of her roommates. It’d be better if they weren’t stretching it out so much too. Oh well…

Glee – Slowly pushing through my backlog. Boring ballads between Jake and Marley are boring. Really…At least the show has a few good numbers tucked in there.


PHOX – Fairly typical indie rock stuff, but that’s not all that bad.


One Hundred Years of Solitude – There are these details in this book that are so random, but so perfect in conveying the magical tone of this work. It’s just absolutely brilliant and I love it. Feels like an epic tale.

Video Games

Mass Effect 2 – Cruised through my corrected Paragon playthrough to prepare for ME3 and the Citadel DLC. That game…still not as good as the others. I don’t know if it’s the way that it tries too hard to be “cool” and “mature” or something, but it gets on my nerves.

Spelunky – Played some multiplayer with Min. Good times. Look forward to the episode next week.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Min and I pushed through another world. Things are getting complicated, but we’re making our way to Bowser without playing too poorly.

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – The new edition is here! Can’t wait to get all the translation stuff in order and get my Carp season underway

Mass Effect 3 – Got to where you can save and exit, but really excited to get this paragon game in. I do wish my paragon Shepard was female because Hale is so much better than anything else, but I’ll make do.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa