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What I’ve Been Doing 14 Jan 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jan 14th, 2013 by Dan

The main guy in Virtue’s Last Reward (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

This past weekend was a haze of parties and Virtue’s Last Reward. The good news is that I beat the game and had fun at all the parties, but the bad news is zzzzzzzz…

Movies

Nope!

TV

Justified – So happy to have this show back. Raylan is such a badass. Loved the shot to the airbag. I’m really interested in seeing where this season goes. It looks like IA is gonna really get on Raylan’s ass.

Happy Endings – Pretty elaborate episode chiefly centered around making jokes about inappropriate-sounding use of the word “come” and a jerky making circle :cough: circle jerk :cough:. Still fairly hilarious and I’ve got like two episodes still on the DVR!

Music

Two tracks for you today.

First off, who the heck is Bonnie Bear?

Yeah, that’s Bon Iver’s “Perth”. I love that guitar.

Then we’ve got the credits song for The Walking Dead game. It’s just got a sweet sound to it. Not sure if my association with the game makes it stronger…

Alela Diane’s “Take Us Back”

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – More hot dog shenanigans. I’m coming around on the book, but I’m also taking it a little too slow.

Video Games

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – It’s so hard to talk about this game without spoiling everything that makes it so incredible. Trust me, guys, this game’s story is just awesome. I’m officially a fan of Kotaro Uchikoshi now. It’s the kind of story that makes you think and that makes smart use of its mechanics.

FTL – Died in a fiery Engi Cruiser wreck. Not enough offense.

Borderlands 2 – Our posse is starting to get pretty strong, but the game is also getting a lot harder. Really digging the slag/other elemental combo. I think it helps tremendously with damage.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – The Second Wave DLC came out allowing you to customize additional really tough XCOM rules and…I got my ass kicked on my first attempt. This next game is going a little better, but I think the soldier I named my guy after just bit the dust.

Saints Row: The Third – I think we played this during this week, right, Dave? Co-op campaign is loads of fun, but I wish I heard David’s character in cutscenes or that we were both present. Loads of fun.

Video Games of 2012 [GO]
Jan 4th, 2013 by Dan

Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates - PNC Park 21 Jul 2012

Even the Pittsburgh Pirates played video games this year.

Knock on wood, you guys, but I managed to get through 2012 without having all my video games stolen from my house while I was sleeping [EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s 2013 now, you dummy. You don’t need to knock on wood]. Should that even be an achievement?

2012 seems to be a shift in the status quo. Perhaps it’s because the new console generation hasn’t yet kicked off, but I feel like fewer and fewer AAA, big budget titles have been grabbing my attention lately. Of the 56 games on this list I feel like very few (about 12) were big, huge landmark games. Maybe that’s not all that different, but it feels different…

Also, like last year I do count games on this list that did not launch in 2012, but that I played, started, or beat in 2012.

JANUARY

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective – The weirdest thing about my time with this game was that I chose to play it in Spanish. It was fine practice and, off the top of my head, it taught me two Spanish words I had no use for before playing it (sotano and cachorro, meaning basement and puppy/cub/kitten, respectively), but it also featured very funny writing by Phoenix Wright’s creator and a bizarrely complicated story for such a slight-looking game. In fact, 2012 was kind of a year of interactive fiction, as you’ll see, so it’s appropriate to see GT get top billing. It’s also worth mentioning that the animation in this game is spectacular.

Rayman: Origins – Also known as the game where Min and I attained Super Saiyan level for the first time. No lie, guys, the treasure chest levels and the final Level of the Dead or whatever it was called was a zen-like achievement for the pair of us. If New Super Mario Bros. isn’t your bag, but you think you might still love platformers then you absolutely need to try this game out.

Chrono Trigger DS – Yeah, I played this in the 90s. Yep, it was my first RPG. The DS port added some marginal sections, including an epilogue that sets up for Chrono Cross in the most depressing way possible, but it also came with a new translation that I thought was interesting and brought some freshness to an otherwise “solved” game for me.

Earthbound – I wish I’d spent more time trying to replay Earthbound, but I just didn’t. Heck, I don’t think I got too far past meeting Buzz Buzz…Still love this game.

Cave Story + – How I long for dynamic difficulty level changing! Cave Story + is a fantastic Metroidvania-style pixel shooter, but my hubris determined I would play on the hardest difficulty, which means I’m stuck on Monster X until I can get my skills down pat.

FEBRUARY

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Remember how everyone’s favorite character in FF XIII was Lightning’s sister and some guy no one ever saw in FF XIII? Wait…those weren’t your favorite characters? You don’t want to play another 40 hours as those chuckleheads and watch Snow, Hope, and Sazh from afar while playing a nearly incomprehensible story? Too bad!

Saints Row: The Third – I feel bad for you if you’ve never played Saints Row: The Third. I felt bad for myself for not having played it sooner than I did. For maximum awesomeness be sure to give your boss the Latina voice. It’s priceless. Seriously though, this game is the best open world game I have ever played. Period. It’s absurd, ridiculous, and nonsensical, but it’s winking every step of the way and I’m right there with it.

Rhythm Heaven Fever – When I first started writing this list I forgot that this little gem came out in 2012. Can you believe it?! Min, I know you don’t understand the appeal here, but this is honestly among my favorite game of this year. Did I spend $80 importing the soundtrack from Japan? You betcha. Goddammit this game is so good. It’s a must play for anyone with a Wii (or a Wii U). Seriously, go buy it. It’s incredible.

Devil Survivor 2 – Man, the Megrez fight is so stupid and I’m not properly equipped, demon-wise, to tackle it, which is why I never beat this game. It’s better than DS1, mechanically, but I just need to sit down and grind my way out of this and I really don’t want to have to do that…Bonus points for also pretty much being Evangelion

MARCH

Mass Effect 3 – Hoo boy…What a shitshow this game’s release was…I wish I’d beaten it faster than I had because by the time I reached the ending, well, the internet had practically exploded with criticism. I spent more time wading in comments sections and forums defending the artistic integrity of a game that I honestly didn’t find that impressive compared to the rest of the year’s releases, but it just rubbed me the wrong way to see the fanboys demand changes from Bioware. I mean, whine all you want, but so long as Bioware doesn’t cave– What’s that? You say they did cave? They did change the ending as a response to fan whining? My respect for Bioware and this game flew out the window the second that happened. As far as I’m concerned, I played the real Mass Effect 3, but I never got the chance to enjoy it. Now that the doctors are gone from Bioware and the company is soliciting advice on what direction to take Dragon Age III, I find myself thinking, “Man, what happened to Bioware?” It’s a real shame because Mass Effect 3 was actually quite good.

APRIL

Shadow Complex – Way late to the party on this one, but I was feeling that Metroidvania itch and, well, this game kind of scratches it. I hate the third dimension they added to the gun because it makes aiming a pain. Other than that it’s fine. Serviceable, really, but it also gets credit for being the first “autolog” type game that I can think of.

Jamestown – I don’t play a lot of vertical/horizontal shooters. Jamestown just happened to be out in a lull and I owned it from a Humble Bundle. It’s enjoyable enough and I dig playing it with multiple people, but it’s not going to set the world on fire. Playing the story in “funny” mode is fun too because the alternative is almost obnoxiously self-serious.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – Cool music and a cool aesthetic, but it controls weird on the PC. I wish I had an iPad for stuff like this and that I put more time into this game.

The Walking Dead – I thought about separating this out into episodes across the series, but it seems cleaner to talk about this game in one fell swoop even though I started it in April and finished it in November. I know I said that Rhythm Heaven Fever was the best game of this year, but The Walking Dead is actually the best thing to have come out this year. I’ll grant you that it’s more interactive fiction than game, but even that’s not that important, really. I mean, would putting more puzzles in this adventure game make it any better? Of course not! The Walking Dead is the success it is because it’s a character-driven story of the likes we haven’t seen before. Lee Everett may not be making the galaxy-defining choices that Commander Shepard makes on a daily basis, but the stakes always seem higher as he does his best to shepherd young Clementine through a world that only gets worse and worse for everyone. That last scene in the jewelry store as Lee coaches Clem to safety…It touched me (and I’m sure most anyone who played it) in a way that nothing else this year could. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that everyone should play this game. It’s brilliant.

Fez – Speaking of brilliant, Fez has that in spades. We’re talking about a game where every detail feels deliberate and mysterious. That’s not an exaggeration either. With maybe one exception, there’s not a single puzzle in Fez that you couldn’t necessarily figure out in some way from clues in the world. They might be obscure, difficult to interpret clues, but they’re there. Add in a soundtrack that is hauntingly beautiful and a rotating mechanic that is as fun as anything else you’ve ever done and you’ve got the most interesting experience of 2012. I can still pull up intense memories of the empty solitude of some of the screens and the fitting music that made me feel isolated, alone, a little scared, and a little excited to discover a cube or an anticube. Fez was awesome, guys.

MAY

Diablo 3 – I’ve had this talk with Min so many times, but maybe I didn’t understand what Diablo was before I played D3. I’d only ever played D2 with my brother or a few friends. It was a small-scale endeavor and Torchlight, its closest analogue for me, was a single-player affair. There was no Auction House there to circumvent loot drops or other players to set up trades with on forums. There was the purity of the RNG and the thrill of the hunt. Diablo 3 awakened that feeling inside me that activates when I feel like I’ve been cheated. It was like I took the red pill and I saw the Matrix of the game for the first time when I realized what I’d have to do to beat the game on Inferno. I’ve never felt like a game’s systems were so transparently evil before (I don’t play Facebook games) and Diablo 3 soured me on Blizzard as a developer. Maybe next year you’ll see an entry about Heart of the Swarm, but as of right now, thanks to Diablo 3, I plan on never spending another cent on a Blizzard game (unless a new Warcraft RTS comes out. I actually like those).

Tropico 4 – Min likes to tease me about being an evil dictator when I play this game, but it’s much more complicated for me. When I play Tropico I don’t exercise my ability to rig elections or execute citizens at will. I do my best to be a benevolent leader and resist the control/interference of the US or USSR. I do my best to make the tropical paradise that I feel my people have been denied. It’s a deeply (and weirdly) personal experience for me. Plus the music is pretty sweet.

JUNE

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb – Yeah, yeah, expansion pack for a game that I played relentlessly last year. I don’t care, guys, it was almost a new game with how much it added. If you read my blog and you tried/enjoyed FTL, you really should check this out.

No More Heroes: Paradise – I think I’m at assassin #7 or #6? It’s got its purposefully tedious parts in it and it’s so stylized that it’s hilarious, but it lost some steam with me and I never finished it. Whoops.

JULY

Spelunky – Forget what that other guy said about the best game of this year because Spelunky is awesome. It’s so sharp in the way that it plays. Die and it’s almost 100% your fault. Brutally difficult, endearingly fun and funny, and tightly controlled. I only wish I had more friends to play local multiplayer with.

Penny Arcade 2 – Not as funny as PA1 and not as fun as PA3

Penny Arcade 3 – PA goes 16-bit RPG. The combat is frighteningly difficult, but the game is tons of fun because of it. These new classes are super neat. It’s like they figured out all the boundaries to RPG combat and sharpened them to a knife’s edge. Really interesting, but easy to bone yourself with bad class selection.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – Each game takes forever, but playing a few matches with Min was tons of fun.

Greed Corp – Did not like. Sorry, Eric.

Puzzle Agent – Tried this before I went down the Professor Layton rabbit’s hole. Surprisingly funny and surprisingly well-written. I’m fairly certain that these didn’t sell well enough to keep making them, but I really enjoyed the setting and the story. Very cute.

Max Payne 3 – I’m the guy who’s never played a Max Payne game before so when I play this grimy, glitzy, greasy shooter I’m unburdened by Payne’s history. There’s no comparison to the way it used to be or the way I wanted a sequel to be. It’s just an awesome shooter with a dumb, but neat story. Brazil is here to stay as a setting and even though Rockstar characters are all deplorable assholes who I hate, I had a soft spot for Max and Giovanna. Pretty solid shooter.

Sonic Generations – Modern Sonic games suck. All of them. Everyone who thinks Generations is “not that bad” or “good” is wrong. You’re wrong.

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER – A rhythm game! I didn’t realize it before I tried it. The first boss fight sucks and I stopped playing after it. I hear that was a mistake.

AUGUST

Persona 4 Arena – I got a little bogged down by being forced to play other perspectives before finishing the main narrative, but the continuation of the Persona story was solid enough to make me interested in the game, even if I didn’t really care for the fighting mechanic. Guys, who knew a fighting game could have a sweet story?

Driver: San Francisco – Didn’t get enough in to say anything definitive, but I don’t really like the car mechanics.

Trine 2 – I don’t think either of these Trine games are for me, but I’ve only ever played 5 hours of a Trine game ever. It’s the physics model. I don’t like the imprecision in a platformer. I had the same issue with Little Big Planet.

Iron Brigade – The most frustrating networking experience of 2012. It’s a shame too because Min, Lee, and I should have loved playing this.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Goddammit I love me some Counter-Strike. I didn’t put that many hours into this, but playing it with Simon and some of the old War Cry guys was awesome. If you have any interest in shooters, but you don’t play this…well I don’t understand you.

Orcs Must Die 2 – Not the best tower defense game, but I think I’m under 10 hrs with it so maybe it picks up?

The Last Story – Got so bogged down writing about this with David (remember that feature?) that I never continued it. Lots of promise there with characters that seem deeper than your usual anime bullshit, but I need to give it another 20 hours to be sure.

SEPTEMBER

Mark of the Ninja – The tightest stealth game (mechanics-wise) you will ever play. Seriously, man. It’s pretty boss. The story is fairly dumb, but playing it is so much fun that you can’t help but smile. A solid win in my book.

FTL: Faster Than Light – I’ve recorded 31.5 hours of me playing this game as of when I write this sentence. A game that has such tight mechanics that you can’t help but love it. This was the year of roguelikes for me. FTL plays like the space sim you always wish you had. I don’t see myself getting bored of this game until I unlock all the ships. That won’t be for a while because I’m somewhat terrible with some of the ships, but I do love me this game.

New Super Mario Bros. 2
– More Mario platforming. Not the most inspired Mario game, but it has its moments. Not gonna set the world on fire and, like the first one, not my favorite Mario game.

Torchlight 2 – I can’t really claim to have played this game since the first day was a clusterfuck and I didn’t get past the menu screen. Had tons of fun chatting with Min and his cousin though.

Borderlands 2 – Until the very end of December I was the only one of my close video gaming friends who had this game. As a solo affair (and even as a group affair), the early parts of this game are pretty terrible/boring/tedious. In a group I’ve enjoyed playing this tons more. It’s just fun to have three friends rolling around Pandora with you. I hope we keep playing.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – I love rhythm games. I love Final Fantasy music. This game is beautiful and perfect and could only be made better with more FF VI music.

Kirby’s Dream Collection – Picked it up to own Kirby Super Star. Played a bit of that with Min. Lots of fun, but not gonna set the world on fire.

OCTOBER

Professor Layton and the Last Specter – Played it for a few minutes because it was the only sequel I could find in the store. Based on those few minutes I bought the rest of the franchise.

Pokemon White Version 2 – I wish I hadn’t pushed Min and David to get Black and White because the Version 2s are so much better. There has never been a better put together Pokemon game. I’ve sunk over a hundred hours into this game playing it Nuzlocke style and I still have yet to defeat the Elite Four or Team Plasma. I’m not kidding, guys, this is the closest you can come to a perfect Pokemon game.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Ok, for realsies now, guys. This is the best game of the year. Just so much fun to play in Classic Ironman mode where every mistake is locked in place and humanity hangs in the balance. Tactical, turn-based combat has never been better implemented and every system works well. My only gripe is that you “can’t fail” the final mission in the sense that losing it sends you to the start. Losing an Ironman run in the final mission would be brilliant (and sadistic), wouldn’t it?

Professor Layton and the Curious Village – It has a fairly ridiculous plot twist that almost makes zero sense and doesn’t hit with any oomph, but you’re supposed to be here for the puzzles anyway. They’re fun and the characters are charming enough that I’m more than happy to spend hours upon hours just completing brain teasers.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted – I wish this was more Burnout Paradise instead. I don’t like the way the “campaign” is laid out with the unlocks for all the cars. I hate how I have to earn nitro every time I swap cars. It’s just not as good as the Burnout stuff. I’m sorry. That said, it’s so much fun to race at top speed in real-world automobiles. Super fun.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – The 365 puzzles (one a day) and the fact that I bought it digitally are what keeps me coming back to this game over and over again since I haven’t yet beaten the previous iterations. Solid puzzle work and a great 3DS package, but I can’t wait to actually see the narrative.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – More Layton, but on a train!

To the Moon – The Walking Dead kind of ruined this game for me. Everyone was lauding it as this grand, mature narrative, but then The Walking Dead goes and does something truly spectacular while To the Moon failed to really hit with me. The twist was neat and I dug the story, but I didn’t find it to be as amazing as I’d heard. It’s solid storytelling in a mediocre engine package, but it’s worth checking out for sure.

NOVEMBER

Hotline Miami – Certainly the game that’s inspired the most cackling laughter in me. Just brutal, ugly, sleazy, and weird. Hotline Miami has a kickass soundtrack and relentless gameplay. The bosses are kind of obnoxious, but it plays fairly sharply and I’d recommend it to almost anyone.

Nintendo Land – Fantastic in group settings, but somewhat lacking as a solo endeavor. I’m happy to own it and I think asynchronous information/capabilities makes for way more interesting games than the same old stuff we’re used to, but without a group to play this it can get a little boring.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Haven’t put a lot of time in it, but the course design is definitely superior to the DS version. Can’t wait to beat this with Min, but I’m not breaking down any doors to play it.

Donkey Kong Country Returns – I’m only two worlds in, but it feels slighter/weaker than the old DKCs. We’ll see how it pans out, I guess.

DECEMBER

Sleeping Dogs – I’m getting open world fatigue pretty early in this one. Unlike Saints Row: The Third, this is more serious and I feel like not being ridiculous is to its detriment. Sleeping Dogs’ dating system is ridiculous and the cop story is fairly predictable, but I’m in love with the Hong Kong setting and the fact that this is a game not taking place in LA, NY, or Miami. Also really nice to see non-white protagonists. The Batman fighting style is neat, but, like I said, already hitting open world fatigue.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – I’m glad I played and finished this before the end of the year because it’s absolutely brilliant. Any game that uses the mechanics of the system its on is an instant plus for me and the final puzzle/revelation is brilliant. How many games make you think about morphic resonance and information transfer like this one? Just the fact that I found myself thinking about philosophical questions like Locke’s Socks/The Ship of Theseus and that it ALL MADE SENSE was really brilliant. Look, visual novels are divisive, but you shouldn’t let that get in your way. 999 has one of the neatest stories of the year (2010) and it’s easily one of my favorite games this year.

The Dark Knight Rises! – What I’ve Been Doing 30 July 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 30th, 2012 by Dan

LEGO Batman (Photo by DigitalSphereFilms)

SWEAR TO ME!

Smaller audience and better preparation allowed Min and I to finally see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. Along the way we decided that we were going to become professional blackjack players*. Can’t wait to start my new career!

Movies

Man on the Moon – I pretty much associate this movie with Eric because I remember him renting it or going to see it in the theaters or something. Odd that this sticks out in my head, but it does. I haven’t seen enough footage of the real Andy Kaufman to know if Carrey does a good job emulating him, but it seemed not like Carrey and I dug that. Decent movie.

The Dark Knight Rises – It’s hard to live up to the best superhero movie ever, but TDKR makes a strong effort. It’s a different kind of movie, for sure, and its perhaps too sprawling for its own good, but it’s a good ending to the trilogy. Worth seeing, even if the Bane voice is just so stupid. Honestly, it’s dumber than Bale’s Batman voice.

TV

The League – Turned this on to have something on in the background forgetting that I hadn’t seen the first two episodes of the second season. It’s a pretty dumb show, but it makes me laugh pretty consistently so I’d recommend it.

Breaking Bad – The polar opposite of The League. I definitely enjoy the show, but I’ve yet to see the true greatness that makes fans froth at the mouth for this show. Highlight of S2 so far has been Tuco’s uncle. Great old man character and the bell dings were chilling and kind of awesome. Great to see the affection for his insane nephew from the otherwise senile-seeming old man.

Music

Go check out the Humble Music Bundle. Bunch of albums for like $8.

Books

1Q84 – Was not expecting the Aomame pregnancy. This book is in full on mystery mode to me. I have no idea where anything is going.

Video Games

Greed Corp – Played a game with Eric. Like the risk/reward that permeates the game, but don’t love most of the mechanics. Maybe I’d come to appreciate it with more rounds? Not sure.

Puzzle Agent – What a delightful little game! Had lots of fun just blowing through the puzzles and laughing at all the weird characters of this tiny town. Might pick up the sequel when I finish with a few more games.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – Played a big, multi-star map with Min that went really well. I enjoy the deliberate pace of this game and I also love just sending huge fleets of doom to crush my enemies.

Spelunky – I came so close to making it to the City of Gold, guys. I promise it exists! I PROMISE! I’ll make it there some day…

Saints Row: The Third – Played a little of the alien movie xpack. Fun. Had a game-crashing bug keep me from finishing it, but I’ll get around to it.

The Old Republic – David started a free trial and I’ve been having a blast playing with him. It even inspired me to level up my Bounty Hunter some. I’m playing a totally cocky, darkside-leaning Jedi Knight and I think it’s very interesting to see how NPCs lightly chastise me. Hopefully they start to genuinely fear Cornell Threepwood by the end of his story. That’s an intimidating name, right?

May Payne 3 – Gritty. The shooting bits are tough too and the checkpointing can leave you in a bad way with no painkillers to help. I’m stuck in a particularly brutal firefight right now. I dig the weird presentation bits, but I need to give the game more time.

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER – I was having fun with this until I hit 1-14 and replayed that level for damn near an hour. Then the boss was annoying too. Not a terrible rhythm-ish game, but starting over from the beginning every time is a little brutal.

Sonic Generations – It’s pretty much the same thing with every modern Sonic game. You play the first level and you think, hey, this isn’t so bad! Then the Sonic Team starts introducing more terrible ideas in each subsequent level. By level three I realize that Sonic truly is a dead franchise.

*Not actually true

What I’ve Been Doing 30 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Apr 30th, 2012 by Dan

Gomez

Gomez: The Hero of Fez (Picture courtesy Titolian)

I did a lot more with this week than I thought I would have time for considering how much I played The Old Republic and how late I was getting home for a lot of the week. Fez gets special mention at the top of this article for completely immersing me in its world. Everything from its ambient, minimalist soundtrack to the weird artifacts, perplexing language, and dense, unspoiled mystery has me super intrigued.

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I swear that I’m gonna stop tagging this someday soon. Tiffany hadn’t seen the US version and it was in Redbox, so we picked it up. I was struggling to stay awake at the end (it was one of those weeks), but it’s still a pretty solid movie. That stuff after Martin dies has always been way too long.

Shame – You know you’ve messed up if your movie about a sex addict living in NY is boring. It just wasn’t the daring, risque movie that I thought it would be. I did rather enjoy Carey Mulligan’s haunting “New York, New York”, but it was a little long. Watch it if you’ve got nothing to do/you can find it for cheap/free.

Like Crazy – Watching the trailer for this made me think I would hate the leads and I definitely did. They’ve got this youthful, lovey-dovey, can’t be separated from each other for five minutes thing that drives me crazy. Doesn’t help the plot that it all hinges on one stupid decision that anyone could have prevented. I also had a real tough time understanding why Anton Yelchin would rather be with Felicity Jones over Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, come on…JENNIFER LAWRENCE.

TV

Mad Men – Last week’s episode was very interesting and very artistic and I came away from the Ginsberg/Peggy scene just in love with the show all over again. Can’t wait to watch last night’s offering.

Veep – Guys, this show is hilarious. Best comedy pilot I’ve seen in a while. Just clever and subtle and sharp. They really capture the office/government job vibe.

Girls – The entire internet has an opinion about Girls so I felt like I needed to watch it. The first episode frustrated me with Hannah’s spoiled dependence on her parents, but had enough wickedly funny moments that I was on board. The second had lots of hilariously bad sex. I mean, the line about why doggie style isn’t always degrading, “What if I want to feel like I’ve got udders?” was pretty brilliant delivered. Mike Birbiglia’s job interview scene was great too. The whole thing with the non-PC conversations and the complete 180 on the offer was so good. I’m on board for now.

Kids on the Slope – Shinichirō Watanabe and Yoko Kanno’s latest collaboration is not quite as stylized as Cowboy Bebop, but it’s got the same strong Jazz roots. Worth watching for the music alone, as are most of Watanabe’s shows. I want to find that title track. It starts with this slow marching beat and then it just turns into this great piece. Love it.

Parks and Recreation – Getting tired of the election storyline, but the show is still selling it. Chris Pratt’s live action movies were hilarious and Aubrey Plaza continues to be a delight.

Community – Pitch perfect Law & Order spoof. The back half of this season continues to impress.

New Girl – I want to love this show a lot more than I do. It’s just so mediocre when it’s not funny. Happy Endings has deeper swings (funnier and more terrible) and I just dig that show way more than New Girl…

Music

“Sakamichi no Melody” by YUKI:

It’s not gonna blow you away, but I love the way it flows and changes. When it picks up in that middle section…how can you resist not tapping your toes?

Books

Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy – Only a couple pages into this story about a baseball player who was also a spy. We’ll see how it is.

Video Games

The Old Republic – Min and I got our alts going now. My Trooper story has been interesting and I’m glad I’m playing it instead of a Consular.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP – Finished the first movement/section/track. Have yet to go back in and start putting serious time. Very stylish and cool.

The Walking Dead – Captures the spirit of the comic and zombie apocalypse WAY better than the tv show does. Love it.

Saints Row: The Third – Played a little co-op with Lee. This game is so hilarious. I’m thinking of switching my character to zombie voice.

Fez – Really fantastic game. I can’t stress enough how immersive it is in its sparseness. I can’t wait until I start to understand the puzzles and mysteries more. Gonna try to limit my exposure to the internet since they’ve mostly solved everything. I know I’ll need their help eventually, but for now I’m on my own.

What I’ve Been Doing 21 Feb 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Feb 20th, 2012 by Dan

Rhythm Heaven Fever screen 12

I appreciate Min's patience playing RHF with me all weekend. We did get some great laughs out of it, particularly during this game, Ringside. (Photo courtesy Wiiloveit.com Images)

Guess what, guys? I like Rhythm Heaven Fever. It’s totally the best thing out there. I only wish I had more restraint so that I wouldn’t be done with it already!

Movies

Hanna – A violent, modern fairy tale. Hanna was a really interesting movie that I thought had to be directed by a continental European. I give myself partial credit since the director was British. A lot of neat imagery and very stylized storytelling.

TV

The Walking Dead – I’m a little behind the curve (I always am with TWD since it airs on Sunday and I usually don’t watch it until Monday or Tuesday, but that scene in “Nebraska” in the bar with the two other survivors was chilling and awesome. Best scene the show has done yet.

Portlandia – Only saw the Mixology episode, but it was pretty funny. The best bit was the way that Fred and Andy Sandberg interacted. I also dug the diner scene.

New Girl – “Why do you have so many condoms?!” Pretty funny episode of New Girl. It still feels like a real work in progress as they try and iron out all the kinks and get it to a consistent place.

Parks and Recreation – Adam Scott gets this week’s Dan Mesa Award for Acting Excellence for all the background reaction shots every time a cop passed by. Great acting.

Archer – I was really excited for this episode, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. It didn’t really pick up until the second half when the rest of the cast showed up. The fake accents were hilarious.

Life’s Too Short – Oh god, that Liam Neeson bit was brilliant. On the flipside, I’m not sure how I feel about Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant writing alternate versions of themselves, but only when they’re praising themselves. The whole “Why can Ricky do it?” thing was the only eye-rolling part of the episode. Otherwise I like them as openly hating Warwick Davis. Great debut, Min and I were rolling with laughter.

Persona 4: The Animation – Speaking of rolling with laughter, how about that Nanako and Dojima episode where she claimed he didn’t love her? Nanako is one of the saddest/most tragic characters in Persona history, and that’s saying something. The next episode about the Cultural Fair was super hilarious. I think they go to the Amagi inn next week, so we should have even more laughs.

Breaking Bad – For some reason the pro/con list about whether to murder a man was hilarious to me. Despite the comedy/drama line, I think it’s fair to compare this to Weeds. It’s interesting how Weeds never dealt with the decision to become a drug dealer at all. Breaking Bad is (almost) agonizingly slow at deciding whether or not Walter wants to cook meth. I mean, it’s being very interesting about it, so I can’t complain too much. It made sense for a man with a death wish to try and make some cash that way, but now that he’s supposed to start treatment…will the money be enough to motivate him? (Of course it will)

Music

I spent this week listening to The Weeknd again. You should too.

EDIT: Oh, I also watched the Grammys. They were cool.

Books

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – I’m starting to worry that this is going to become a prominent tag on my cloud if I don’t finish it soon. It’s picking up in pace, so I’m reading it a little faster.

Video Games

Saints Row: The Third – Beat it. What a wild and awesome game. Loads of good times. I heartily recommend it to everyone.

Rhythm Heaven Fever – AH! SO AWESOME! AHHHHH! Seriously though, this game is amazing. The games are all much better than the DS ones, somehow, and the music is generally pretty solid too. I was surprised how much I liked the book cheerleaders one. When that gets complicated it’s fun. Gotta go back and master the tap dancers too, I like those guys and I like when they shoot confetti.

The Old Republic – Been a while, but I got to log back in for my alt and to raid. Min and I are being held back by the lack of a legacy system announcement. We really need to know since we have so many alts!

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – There will be a first impressions post later, but I do actually like it even though it has a bad case of the anime bullshits.

What I’ve Been Doing 13 Feb 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Feb 13th, 2012 by Dan

Samurai Champloo DVD Cover

The journey is over. (Photo courtesy Sold Out Activist)

Big TV week for me. A lot of huge episodes and great acting made me a very happy viewer.

Movies

I was supposed to watch Hanna this weekend, but I never got around to it.

TV

Samurai Champloo – Turned out to be a show about transition and the end of things. About an age where Japan was forced to move forward and accept the great wave washing over it. Combining that with hip hop was a great idea. Mugen’s final battle was annoyingly unsatisfying. With Jin and Fuu at least the fight had something to do with the plot. The guys Mugen fought were not plot-relevant at all to anything that happened in the series. Also, everyone took ridiculous amounts of abuse and damage and then just lived to tell the tale?

Glee – What the heck was that? All of the numbers were embarrassing, Ricky Martin was used to pathetic effect, and none of the music was that interesting. When you make your episode focus Latin music, but you only really highlight pop crossover Latin stuff it’s kind of insulting to me in the same way all of that was insulting to Santana.

New Girl – For a show that gets a lot of grief, New Girl has been bringing it the past few weeks. Playing chicken with the proposed three way was hilarious. The show still has nothing for Winston to do

Up All Night – “Everyone hates flan!” Preach.

Justified – Whoa, what an episode. That last scene with Devil and Boyd…wow. Not to mention the stuff with Dickie and Limehouse. Awesome stuff. Can’t wait for more!

Breaking Bad – Everybody’s been talking about how great this show is for three years. Guess what, guys? They’re right. It’s awesome. Only saw the pilot, but it was impressive. Can’t wait to see more. Glad it’s on Netflix Instant.

Grammy Awards – Tuned in for the back half with Tiffany. I’m bummed that I missed all the Rap categories (I was pulling hard for Kanye’s stuff. Looks like he did quite well), but it was a fun show. I hadn’t realized that there were so many performances or I would have watched it in the past. Paul McCartney was pretty great, Nicki Minaj was appropriately bizarre (just rap, Nicki. Your flow is unstoppably awesome), and it was generally a good showing. Adele cleaned up, holy cow.

Music

The Weeknd – Aside from the Grammys, I’ve been listening to The Weeknd like crazy. His stuff is totally awesome and 100% free here. If you’re looking for some red hot R&B, look no further. Particular props to “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” and “D.D.”

Books

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Get a couple pages in here and there during breaks. Such absolute wish fulfillment writing…Bloomqvist is a weenie, but he gets laid like crazy.

Video Games

Saints Row: The Third – This game is so hilarious and awesome. I spend most cutscenes hitting the Print Screen button to try and cap the ridiculousness. Well-deserved props from the Giant Bomb folks. I’ll probably beat the main campaign this week.

Ghost Trick – Still clever and fun gameplay. I think Min is playing this on his iPad now. He might catch up and beat me!

The Old Republic – Haven’t had a lot of time to work those alts (Min’s been busy), but it’s still fun. The news that Dave might be willing to play soon is awesome and encouraging.

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