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Heck of a movie! (Picture by Yunus Emre KARTAL)
January continues to go strong this year! Got in a fantastic movie this week along with plenty of good reading. Can’t complain about that at all.
American Hustle – I hadn’t heard a bad word about this movie and I will say that it did not disappoint. Just phenomenally done. It’s yet another super fun heist movie. I didn’t love the voiceovers that were peppered throughout, but otherwise I’d call it a mostly flawless and fun movie. Go see it before it’s out of theaters!
Babies – While we were watching the Amazing Race, Katie noticed a Botswanan baby and it made her immediately call for a rental of this short documentary. It was definitely cute and, interestingly enough, there’s not a single narrative line of dialogue. They let the universality of humankind and human babies speak for itself.
The Amazing Race – Our trek through season 22 continues. I’m loving watching my teams compete again. Trying to keep a lid on spoilers for Kate is tough, but I think I’m managing well enough.
Justified – I’ve only got about 10 mins left of the final episode of the season left, but I haven’t found the time to finish it. I like the way they resolved the Nicky Augustine moment, but I don’t know if I’m gonna enjoy the way they tie the season up at the end.
Bought me some Paul Simon tickets this morning. Enjoy “Obvious Child”
Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die – There have been some dark, tragic moments in this collection along with some neat, life-affirming fun moments of truth. The premise is so neat because everyone dies, right? Should knowing how change anything?
Bravely Default (Demo) – On the last boss now and it’s been loads of fun. Turns out that linking with Min gives that character full job abilities that he has.
Civilization V – I’ll probably end up smiting Rome from the map by the time this publishes. Good times and good luck catching up, Dave.
Long Live the Queen – Managed to get into the Old Forest, but I haven’t done too much more here. Gonna get into this more this week, I think.
Left 4 Dead – Kate and I finished all of the L4D campaigns this weekend. I’m glad that she’s really enjoyed it and we’re gonna push right into L4D2 really soon to have even more fun.
The Walking Dead – I somehow managed to end up losing the save file that Katie and I generated, so I pushed through and replicated episode 1 really quickly for the next time I play with Kate. You hear that, Min? Super quick. By the way, the second battery is on the floor of the pharmacy.
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 Land – 3D 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.
Yeah, this has nothing to do with a week summary. In fact, this happened in like…May, but I saw it and I love arepas and it looked so good. Mmmm…arepas…
Welcome to the last WIBD of the year! I’ve been a little bad about keeping up with this list throughout the year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to and I hope to continue to talk about what I’m doing next year too.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Not the first time I’ve seen it, but the first time Katie’s ever seen it all the way through. Is the movie a little cheesy/corny when viewed in the 2010s? Yeah, a little, but it’s also kind of supposed to be that way. Solid fun.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – My dad randomly got way into The Hunger Games when he saw it with my brother and he wanted to watch Catching Fire, so we went to the movies early on Christmas and had us a jolly time. Definitely an exciting movie, but it’s not gonna win any awards or anything.
Key & Peele – Katie and Kara were randomly watching a few episodes. Hell of a show. Super hilarious.
How I Met Your Mother – The mother episodes continue being real stand-out affairs. Loved seeing Andrew Rannells again. He’s a funny dude.
Parenthood – Yeah, the mayor campaign subplot was a little silly. I also wasn’t expecting them to cancel the wedding.
Trophy Wife – I’d heard good things about the show and I do love Malin Åkerman, so this show seemed like it would be pretty good. On the whole, it’s a little predictable, but it’s got a solid cast and makes for some good laughs. Not gonna blow anyone away with groundbreaking comedy, but I will say that I laughed pretty hard a few times.
The Amazing Race – Moving on through season 21. I’m loving watching it again. I don’t know why people disliked this season, it was super fun.
I’m sure I’ve put The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” up here before, but it’s so tight. Damn…
Well Played 1.0: Video Games, value, and Meaning – Right now I’m on a good section about Shadow of the Colossus and something the author is calling “futile interactivity”, which really is an interesting mechanic that is not used often enough in games.
Civilization V – The long break has slowed Eric and David’s ability (mostly David’s) to play turns. It’s been an agonizing wait…
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Still on that final case. Just found out that there’s a nefarious third party influencing things, but I have no idea where we’re supposed to proceed in this case. Getting interesting.
Super Mario 3D Land – The good times I experienced in Super Mario 3D World made me want to go back and view the source material. It makes a lot of the things I saw in 3D world make a little more sense as an extension of things introduced in 3D Land, but 3D Land uses depth in ways that are way neater, but also impossible on a non-3D system.
XCOM: Enemy Within – Another game bites the dust. Moved on to a new game and turned off the Second Wave stuff. It makes the game more interesting and tougher, but I’m having too hard a time actually winning for me to leave them on. I’ll start to remix on further playthroughs.
NES Remix – Nintendo stealth released this during their most recent Nintendo Direct. It’s a little like WarioWare, but without the zaniness. The idea is that you’re supposed to complete mini challenges with old NES classics within a time limit. Works pretty well, but some of those old games are tough. Also it’s weird that they don’t allow custom button mappings. I don’t want to use A and B, I want to use Y and B.
Pokemon Y – Barely beat that ice gym thanks to Sturdy. I mean, I almost lost, for sure. All my original team is gone/dead, so I’m down to a new set that I’m grinding up to level 50 before I try to tackle Victory Road. The Elite Four is gonna be a struggle, I know it.
Super Mario 3D World – I played this a whole bunch with my siblings over the break and…holy cow, still so good. That final world?! That FINAL BOSS?! Just an incredible moment that I totally dug. I need to talk about it more, but I’ll probably talk about it in my year end video game thing.
Project X Zone – Ok, picture this: What if Namco, Capcom, and Sega made a crossover tactical RPG game with all their famous characters? That’s what this is. I played the demo before picking it up and Ryu and Ken were battling monsters with Valkyria Chronicles dudes. Namco guys were there too (no idea who they were). It’s neat, but I don’t think I have the hang of the battle system yet. Looking forward to putting more time in next year.
Risk of Rain – Played this with Lee and Min. It starts off feeling a little thin because you’ve only got one guy unlocked, but with two we seemed to be getting the hang of it a lot more. Really fun as a multiplayer game. Can’t wait to get more time in with the guys.
The Walking Dead 400 Days – It’s short, but it’s more of that Walking Dead flavor that everyone needs. It’s full of short vignettes about companionship and survival and I really loved all the connections between the characters.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Unlocked the first item to rent (bow), but I haven’t entered the Eastern Temple yet. Loving the game so far.
The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just…brutal. There’s this thing that happens where Clementine’s trust is betrayed…SO GOOD.
Just adding to my “pictures in front of ballparks with Katie” collection.
Man have I been busy! So much has conspired to keep me from getting this out until now between going to Boston and the government shutdown and all kinds of craziness, but no excuses now! We should be back to our regularly scheduled programming from here on out.
Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks deserves serious accolade for the way he played this role. It was just perfectly done and the movie itself was tense and nervewracking as things started to fall apart and the outcome (that we honestly already knew) started to become clearer. Worth seeing. It won’t be Best Picture, but maybe Hanks will get something.
Django Unchained – Watched this with Katie to add to our ridiculously tense/heavy movie tally. Still holds up almost a year later. That scene at the dinner table where everyone’s making their moves is so tense and easily the best in the movie.
House of Cards – I can’t even remember when we actually finished this, it was so long ago. The first season kind of stops right in the middle of some interesting storylines, but, on the other hand, this means that the second season will be able to give Peter’s murder room to breathe as the central conflict. I’ve never seen the British House of Cards, but I wonder if the US version is going to let Underwood win or have him be hoisted by his own petard. It was fascinating when he was being assaulted on all sides, but I’m also not sure if not letting him have some victory will feel satisfying for me as a viewer.
New Girl – They went and pulled the trigger on keeping the Nick and Jess thing and it’s turned out to be not that bad at all. So far it’s seemed that the show isn’t in danger of getting boring or losing quality because of it, which is great, but I still think that, despite the increased attention on his character, there’s very little for Winston to do that’s not pathetic or weird or just…odd.
The Mindy Project – Chris Messina is secretly the best thing about this show. He’s got incredible delivery and timing as Danny and his chemistry with Mindy is pretty great. It’s too bad I hear this show is dangerously on the bubble for next year.
Parks and Recreation – I’m several episodes behind, but I didn’t really feel the England episode. It was funny and all, but it felt like setting up the season more than anything else. That’s fine (and it’s still funny), but it just lacked that oomph. Not to mention I think Leslie’s behavior was a little out of character.
Masters of Sex – At first glance this show looks like Shotime T&A exploitation instead of a serious tv show, but man am I impressed with the way that they’ve handled the show. I don’t totally love the way that Lizzy Caplan chose to change her speaking style in the first episode, but the way that she and Michael Sheen relate on screen has this simmering heat to it. It’s just a fascinating show to watch. I read on Jacob Clifton’s TWoP recap that the show has a female showrunner and I think that’s pretty clear by the way the show deals with relationships and sex (ie: maturely and with real depth). Check this one out. It’s good.
Parenthood – After watching the first episode of this season I told Katie that it reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Turns out that it’s got the same showrunner. Parenthood has that same improvised dialog style that allows for much more natural and genuine interaction between the actors. I don’t like the show as much as I liked FNL, but I think it could easily grow on me by a lot. This style of show (ie: filled with verisimilitude) is my bread and butter, although I think the plot about the lady running for office is dumb.
Pushing Daisies – I was looking for something cute like this to watch with Katie and I think it’s just the thing (in small doses) for filling gaps in what we’re watching on a given week.
The League – I only had a chance to catch an episode and a half of this while Katie was busy doing other things, but it’s still just as solid as it’s ever been. At this point this show is what it will be until it’s done. If you like that kind of thing it’ll always work for you.
Homeland – All caught up on this one, actually. I enjoyed the Brody/Carrie-centric third episode, but I’m predisposed to like anything that takes place in Latin America with tons of Spanish in it. Drug addiction stories bore me, but let’s see where they take this Brody stuff. How cool would it be if this was how he quietly exited, stage left? I think this show would have been better if Brody died in S1. The lack of a clear-cut antagonist has made the start of this season feel kind of aimless, mostly because I’m not as taken with either Carrie or Brody. We’ll see where they go, I guess.
How I Met Your Mother – Great for aimless, distracted watching.
The Amazing Race – I’m not sure how these racers compare to all the past seasons, but I do know that this race has felt way harder than the past two seasons already. Flight drama, language stuff, bus difficulty, and tasks that have, in general, seemed more interesting. I bet I sound like an apologist to the diehards who have seen the classic seasons, but I’m really digging it so far. Too bad the NFL guys got eliminated. They were the best and they didn’t deserve to go so soon due to just terrible, snakebit flight luck.
I heard this track on All Songs and I dug it. “Make It Up” by The Blow
Nope. Maybe next week?
Civilization V – I’ve been lagging behind on turns, but I’m in the score lead in both games, I think. Dave fell pretty far behind in the 3 Mesa game.
SMT IV – Didn’t manage to finish this before Pokemon came out so we’ll see if I actually finish it any time soon. I think I’m right on the cusp of making my big moral choice, but it’ll be a while.
Candy Box – Silly and weird and oddly addictive, but the impending release of Candy Box 2 on the 24th made me want to hold off on getting too into it.
Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies Demo – It’s nice to have this game series back. I’ve missed it so much while it was gone. The new 3D engine and the new sound samples aren’t the same and that’s a little distracting for now, but I was also encouraged by how weird and interesting the witnesses still seemed to be even though they were 3D models instead of pixel art. We’ll see if they’re able to capture the right aesthetic anyway.
Cookie Clicker – How do I even start talking about Cookie Clicker? Katie randomly came home addicted to this game and I’ve been roped into clicking cookies and buying upgrades and it’s so fun and I can’t stop clicking…:click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click:
Pokemon Y – The game I’ve been waiting all year for is finally out. New region, new 3D engine, new system. Holy crap is this everything you’d want a new Pokemon game to be and then some. So much fun. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say as the week progresses, but I’m also doing a Nuzlocke again (and I lost on the first gym).
The Walking Dead – Started playing the first episode with Katie and I had a really good time watching her make decisions. A lot of them were pretty similar to the ones I would make when it came to being compassionate or caring toward other people (and children), but I was also way more secretive about being a convict and I didn’t like to keep silent whenever I had the opportunity to talk. Fascinating stuff and lots of fun. I hope she continues to want to play with me.
Which is the greater monument: the movie or the…monument? (Photo by MarkusR)
Four score and seven seconds ago I started trying to come up with a clever line to write here. As you can see, I failed.
Lincoln – I’ve talked to lots of people about this movie and it’s one I feel better about recommending the more I think about it. Sure, Lincoln himself may or may not have been as epic a figure as the movie makes him out to be (dude is like a god in this picture), but the political intrigue and heist-like nature of the vote makes for good cinema. Now if only it didn’t feel quite so awkward to have all these great white men saving black men…
The Amazing Race – Watched Abby and Ryan get eliminated from their race in Amsterdam. That was brutal to see them so badly screwed over by flight issues, but they were pretty unpleasant, so…Having enemies makes for good reality tv, right? Now what do we have…I also watched the first three episodes of the first season. Holy cow are there plenty of highly unlikeable folks in that…
New Girl – Sure seems like a lot of shows are addressing the late pregnancy thing. I wonder why that’s all in the zeitgeist right now…or maybe I’m just of an age where I notice it more?
Parks and Recreation – The sight gag with the balloon Leslie and Ben was brilliant. I really love Eagleton episodes.
The League – Not the most exciting or adventurous episode, but I definitely dug the way the guy in the wheelchair was obsessed with his legs.
Homeland – Didn’t see last night’s, but the one where they took down the terrorist cell at the cafe had me thinking that the show was playing its hand too early. I can’t even imagine what the next three episodes will bring for the show, especially now that they’ve revealed that the CIA’s end goal is to murder Brody once his usefulness is up.
The Mindy Project – I really do think this show is on the upswing. Mindy Kaling is probably the funniest person on screen most of the time and the Morgan and Danny characters are also very funny. The rest of the cast is still growing on me.
Glee – I found myself saying (multiple times, mind you), “This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen” during the past two week’s episodes. Guys, “Gangnam Style” is played out and, worse, Marley’s got to be some kind of idiot to think that her body is getting bigger in the span of days. It’s dumb and it feels like a setup for all those “very special” episodes Ryan Murphy loves to do on Glee.
NTSF:SD:SUV:: – Alan Tudyk, Alison Brie, and Jake Johnson? Fantastic two episodes. I loved ‘em.
Childrens Hospital – Wow, I really didn’t remember the 28 Days Later amnesia spoof. My memory of this show is apparently very vague.
How I Met Your Mother – I dug the dance sequence in the S7 opener. Glad Netflix finally has it.
Been listening to a lot of Channel Orange. “Bad Religion” is one of my favorite tracks
Frank Ocean’s pretty good. Check him out.
The Revolution Was Televised – Alan Sepinwall’s book on the way that tv’s been changing and evolving has been pretty interesting so far. I’m still in the proto-stages where he talks about the precursor shows and the first real new drama, Oz. Seems very cool.
A Confederacy of Dunces – Ignatius is growing on me. I dig the way that he’s sabotaging Levy Pants.
Nintendo Land – Played for hours at Ian/Morghan’s place. Hadn’t realized that the coop games require Wii Motion Plus, but I forgot my adapters. The other games were super fun though. Definitely a great multi game. Hopefully I get to play some with Eric and Danielle too, but there’s always Christmas.
Donkey Kong Country Returns – I don’t think it’s as good as the old SNES games, but it’s got some nostalgic music and I’ll keep checking it out.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Got back into the recording game. Lots of fun even though my rust caused some terrible performance.
FTL: Faster Than Light – I nearly killed David with laughter over my terrible Mantis B gameplay. Lots of fun.
New Super Mario Bros. U – Acorn Plains was too easy and they sure seem to distribute a ton of item blocks, but I’ve been having lots of fun playing with Min. We’ve quickly gotten back into our wii habits. Lots of fun.
Sleeping Dogs – I didn’t realize that my files had been corrupted, but that provided about an hour of frustration until I tried that and realized I had to redownload files. So far it seems pretty cool. Can’t wait to see how the story develops.
Team Fortress 2 – Got rolled in a few rounds with Lee. Lots of fun, but I was doing pretty poorly.
The Old Republic – Started working on my Sith Warrior because I was thinking the Vette relationship would be neat. Locking quick bars for F2P for non-subscribers is weak, by the way. Bad move, guys.
To the Moon – A quick four hour game/interactive fiction. I was led to believe that it was more incredible than it was, but perhaps that’s just in the pre-Walking Dead world of games. The story is good, mind you, and quite funny in places, but it’s not going to win any awards or terribly surprise you. Not a terrible way to spend four hours, but I wouldn’t expect anything mind-blowing.
This bag houses my new Wii U. It also has a picture of YOSHI OMG!
Guys, I got a Wii U in NY this weekend. I know what you’re thinking, stupid gimmick system, right? Maybe, but I don’t feel like it is yet. I’m having tons of fun with it so far, just gotta sink more time into the multiplayer with friends this weekend.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva – Not gonna win any awards, but it was inoffensive and funny in some pretty ridiculous ways. Min and I had fun watching it.
The Mindy Project – A lot of people give this show grief, but I find Mindy consistently funny and pretty sharply funny most of the time. She’s still got that awkward funny down pat too. The bit with Ed Helms was cringe-worthy.
Childrens Hospital – Newsreaders episodes tend to be pretty funny, but this one didn’t have the same oomph as last season’s with all the spinoffs.
Homeland – Marathon catch-up and, holy cow, what’s going on?! Can’t wait to see the reunion with Abu Nazir, but the Gettysburg shootout seemed way implausible.
New Girl – I was not expecting a Parent Trap. Pretty strong episode what with all the Nick hitting on Jess’ mom thing. Guess what, guys? Winston still does nothing.
Happy Endings – The Native American trials thing with Dave? Uncontrollable laughter. Holy cow I loved it.
Glee – I like Grease so I didn’t mind this at all. Wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t offensively bad either.
Lot of Black Friday sales up, but here’s one for the hearts of my readers.
It makes my heart swell even though I’m not literally from Latin America. It’s a beautiful song.
A Confederacy of Dunces – Slow progress. Still under 100 pages.
The Walking Dead – What a gut punch. Holy cow. I was so glad I played the finale alone because I was on the verge of tears the whole time. Strong, strong game of the year contender for me.
Dark Souls – Finally put some time into this sucker. Hey, it’s pretty awesome. I was feeling really stressed about every decision and expecting death around every corner, but that’s the real joy of the game. My other favorite thing was how sparse everything was. I was just in a place and exploring it was up to me. No quest markers, no waypoints, just loneliness and wandering. In Skyrim that’s boring because it’s a boring place and the combat isn’t fun. In Dark Souls I’m just on edge and tense and confused and I like it.
New Super Mario Bros. U – I tried out the boost mode while Min and Lee played the game. Trying to save folks (and/or impede them) is way cooler than I thought it would be. Can’t wait to mess with them some more.
Nintendo Land – Here’s one that I thought would be an unfun mess. So far I tried the F-Zero, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Ninja games. The only one I didn’t really care for was the Ninja one, but that’s just because I don’t love light gun shooters. Donkey Kong was, by far, my favorite. I loved the little ghosts for the times. Wasn’t expecting that at all. Super fun and super cool. Can’t wait to try the asynchronous multiplayer games with people since I forgot to take wiimotes to NY with me.
GPOY (I’m Patel today)
It’s been a tough week.
Safety Not Guaranteed – A neat little piece about loss and regret. Could have probably developed Aubrey Plaza’s character a little more, but I also understand her arc. Good to see range from her too.
Happy Endings – Holy crap this episode (Boys 2 Menorah) made me laugh. These writers do funny really well. A little slapstick-y with the Dave/Alex plot resolution, but I liked it.
Key & Peele – I’m not sure that anything really blew me away in this episode, but they do have some good ideas that developed ok. Just not quite enough to push it over the edge into greatness.
Parks and Recreation – Ben’s job offers and the accounting firm were funny as was the continued development of April. How dry can I be talking about humor? There were many parts that made me express joy in the form of laughter. Ha. Ha. Ha.
The League – A little bit of gross out humor never seems to elude the show. Enjoyable enough, but not blowing me away.
New Girl – Not the most progressive handling of PMS, but the scenes with Nick getting a water massage were pretty great.
Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick came out with a new Christmas album. The Weeknd’s first label release came out. I dunno, listen to something.
A Confederacy of Dunces – The high degree of interconnectedness of its cast reminds me a little of how sharply integrated the Arrested Development writing used to be.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown – More episodes recorded, but I haven’t played a whole bunch. Min beat it! Yay!
Hotline Miami – So much weirder and creepier the more I get into it. Fell behind on recording episodes, so I need to get back on that this week.
FTL – Had a miserable stalemate with the Mantis ship during a landmark episode.
TNNS – Pretty great co-op play and sharp single player too. Wish I had an iPad to mess around with it in a better form (I tried it on Min’s and it was nice), but my phone will suffice.
The Walking Dead – Episode 4 was pretty brutal. I was not expecting it to be quite so harsh, but my mind is blown for, I guess, tomorrow.
The cutest game to ever make you want to murder your entire family (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)
Spelunky finally arrived last week and it was GLORIOUS! So good, as a matter of fact, that I managed to rack up 21 hours in it while taking a day off to go to Pennsylvania to celebrate the 4th. Spelunky is razor sharp, guys. Razor sharp.
21 Jump Street – I can’t think of another trailer in recent history that has inspired more ambivalence upon the people I know, but I was secretly amused by it. It turns out that it’s because it’s an amusing movie. It’s not as funny as The Other Guys, but it’s got a similar vibe. Plus it’s got almost every comedic actor working today in bit parts all over. It’s funny, but I wouldn’t spend more than $5 to see it. Oh, also, Dave Franco is like a little James Franco clone. It’s so weird!
Goon – Watched this again with Min since it was on Instant. The major reason this movie works is because it doesn’t make fun of Doug for being a oaf. He’s lovable and he means well and he just wants a place to belong. It’s really quite touching, just very, very violent.
Louie – I’m honestly shocked that something as surreal and arty as this show can be is on FX and is doing as well as it is. I don’t know how the man on the street feels about Louie, but I know that I’m constantly impressed by its reach. Great show. That speech to Pamela in episode 6 was beautiful.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine – Speaking of arty shows, how crazy is the opening theme to this one? I mean, it’s called “New Wuthering Heights”, for Christ’s sake! I wonder how much of the look of the show is based on budget, but that’s actually the show’s strongest point. It doesn’t look like anything else on tv and it’s certainly more mature than most of the other anime I’ve ever seen. Fujiko is an interesting character, but, seriously, there’s not a single episode without her topless (nor can there be! She’s nude for the entire opening song).
Heard a track by The Oneups this morning. Reminded me that they’re pretty good (if you like vidya game music)
Volume 2 by The OneUps
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami has never met a plot that didn’t need metaphysical, sometimes bizarre sex to advance it. Not a problem, more something to mark on your Murakami checklist. I do wonder what this means for Tengo and I worry about Aomame. Will she make it through the narrative or will Murakami use her to further motivate Tengo? What is Tengo now? Is he going to be cursed like Leader was?
The Walking Dead – If Spelunky didn’t also come out this week I’d be drooling over this to everyone. Telltale has really figured things out and they’re knocking it out of the park with each episode. Pick it up now!
The Binding of Isaac – Came so close to knocking out the penultimate challenge. I’ll get you soon, BoI. I’ll get you…
Penny Arcade Ep 1 – Finished off a replay of this to prep for Ep3. The game has decent writing, but I think it’s less funny than the other Hothead episode (that or it’s less fresh for me?). Still, easy-ish S-Rank.
Spelunky – Gaming perfection, guys. Perfection! What Spelunky has that very few modern games do is fearlessness. Derek Yu is so confident that his game is good and that it makes sense that he refuses to put in handhold-y player incentives to coddle and usher along gamers. No, you lose “everything” when you mess up and die…everything but the knowledge that you obtained on the previous run. You’d be surprised how much you learn from each death and how things behave. Obstacles that seemed tough to deal with for me are trivial now. I’m starting to see two or three reactions ahead (chess style) of everything I do. Death only comes when I’m careless. Spelunky is hard and it wants you to move quickly, which also makes it harder, but getting that knowledge allows you to just fly confidently
Skullgirls – I picked this up to check out a sweet fighting game and support Min’s cousin msh. The first thing we did, I kid you not, was watch the credits to look for her name. Congratulations on the game credit, msh. It’s a fine game with fine art and I think it’s super cool that you worked on it. Now if only they could put the move lists, you know, in the game proper…That would be nice. I’m glad they got an official tournament at Evo this year, but I hope they’re a bigger part of the tournament next year. It’s a sharp game.
Jamestown – Hadn’t tried this game multiplayer until this past weekend with Min. Lots of fun, but the final boss is so hard!
Penny Arcade Ep. 2 – Funnier than Ep. 1 and a little more creative in its puzzles and areas too. Didn’t dig the final boss/puzzle, but it was fine. Really pumped me up to keep going with Episode 3 even though it was midnight on Sunday.
Penny Arcade Ep. 3 – Had to play this on Insane, did you, Dan? Ugh….SO HARD! I fought the Crabomancer like 20 times, but I finally beat him. Finished playing at 2AM. Whoops! This game has razor sharp RPG mechanics that I LOVE and even sharper writing than the previous two episodes since they’re not leaning on the art or voice acting as much as they could before. Loving it so far, just wish there were steam achievements.
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.
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.
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…
“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?
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.
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.
I don’t think it’s possible for you all to understand how pumped I am for baseball to come back this year. It’s been a long, hard offseason, but spring training is off the ground and I’m super pumped.
Higher Ground – Vera Farmiga (and her sister Taissa) stars in this intelligent movie about a woman constantly seeking religion, but unable to arrive at the faith and two-way relationship she so desperately craves. It’s beautiful and slow and it’s fantastic work by Farmiga.
What’s Your Number – Oh, the things we do for love. Seeking something to watch together, Tiffany and I stumbled upon Anna Faris’ ill-received romantic comedy that is simultaneously all about slut shaming and also about finding love before your friends continue to slut shame you. I’m injecting way more importance into this light, breezy romantic comedy than it deserves. As far as these types of movies go, you could find worse. It’s alright.
The Walking Dead – So tired of the non-zombie plots. “Waaah waah, I’m suicidal! Waaah.” Pretty sure they’re setting up a mega-swarm headed to the farm. Not sure.
Life’s Too Short – The tumor stuff was predictable, but funny. I don’t think the Johnny Depp stuff was half as good as the Liam Neeson stuff from last week.
Parks and Recreation – Ginuwine jokes, haha. Oh man, the part where he read out the image URL for Leslie’s campaign poster! The water fountain visual gag was also hilarious.
Up All Night – The stuff with the godparents reminds me of David since Eric just had his baby. Steven Pasquale was pretty hilarious in his Army vet role.
Justified – Not every episode has to be super exciting/awesome. Still some good acting in this episode, but not as sharp as the rest of the season has been.
Archer – “You make me sound like some kind of chubacabra, but for dicks.” Pretty good ep.
Portlandia – The Eddie Vedder tattoo stuff was brilliant. About 1/3 of the Battlestar Galactica sketch (featuring James Callis, Edward James Olmos, and (the real) Ronald D. Moore) was excellent as well, but it strongly relies on you knowing what Ronald D. Moore looks like (Hint: He’s not the guy who played Adama or Baltar and he’s not the guy with his name.)
Houston Astros at Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg’s curveball looked sharp. It was missing a little bit of placement, but otherwise looking great. Too bad Tom Gorzelanny came in and stunk up the joint. Still, baseball! Spring training!
Rhythm Heaven Games – Go out there and get your hands on Rhythm Heaven soundtracks. The music from these games is super catchy and fun and I’m pretty sure they include perfect versions of the songs that have all of the sound effects in them.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – I swear I’m making progress, guys. I really am! He’s actually working with Lisbeth now. It took half the book to get them there!
Devil Survivor 2 – Devil Survivor was one of the best DS TRPGs (or normal RPG or games) out there and DS2 is more of the same. New characters, broader setting…I dig it. So much so that it’s supplanted…
Ghost Trick – Used to have a steady slot in my DS, but I’ve sidelined it for a little DS2 action. Gotta finish it because I’m nearly done, but DS2 is sooo fun.
The Old Republic – Nothing like getting a little Bounty Hunting in, but the stupid TOR people haven’t announced the legacy stuff so I’m at a stalemate with getting more playtime in with Min.