Saturday, January 31, 2015

FF Sidequest: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

Wow, that post title looks weird with multiple colons in it.

Anyway.... HELLO!

This is my first Final Fantasy Sidequest post.  I've been playing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call a little bit here and there ever since it released on 3DS last September.  I thought it was finally time to write about it.

It's really good!

I rarely play it for more than 15 minutes in one sitting, but it keeps drawing me back for more.  It's been out for over four months and I'm still playing it.  That should say a lot about it.

It does have a huge pedigree of amazing music to pull from.  That's easily the best part of the game.  The music selection from the Final Fantasy series is just fantastic.  They have it sorted by game and music type which makes it simple to find the track you're hunting for.

The main thing that makes this so much better than the original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy game are the control options.  I tried the original game and absolutely hated the touch controls.  The touch controls just didn't fit the game well and they were the only option.  That's no longer the case!  Now I'm able to use touch controls, all buttons controls, or a hybrid mix of touch and buttons controls.

I tried all the different control configurations the first day I got the game.  The button controls were the winner by far.  I haven't even thought about going back to touch controls.  Buttons are so much better for this game.

There's some nice variety in unlockables, quests, and song medleys in this game.  They'll keep you entertained and add some fun diversions.  They're nice but they're not the main draw.  The draw of the game is the music.  The amazing Final Fantasy music.

You need to get this game if you love Final Fantasy music the way I do.  It's wonderful.

Friday, January 30, 2015

That Familiar MMO Feeling

The title of this post could be taken a number of ways, but I didn't mean it in a good way.  I'm less than a month into Final Fantasy XIV after more than four years away from MMOs... and I'm already getting sick of the grind.

After playing so many single player games I can easily see where they are artificially inflated grind between meaningful events.  I know it's because it's an MMO and they need to extend their content.  They need to keep people subscribed.  But, this amount of extra time and grind would never hold up in a single player game.

I'm already sick of it less than one month in.  I'm pretty sure that doesn't bode well for my future with MMOs.

I knew this was liable to happen if I tried out a MMO again.  I just didn't anticipate it happening so fast.

It makes me realize how much I wish I could check out other MMOs for the core content without all the MMO trappings.  I would love to experience all the storyline quests in Star Wars: The Old Republic but the thought of grinding through levels and bullshit filler quests to get there is infuriating.

I've heard that Star Wars: The Old Republic tends to offer big experience point boosts to their subscribers.  If they had an XP boost big enough so that I never had to do the bullshit MMO filler I might actually try the game out.  But even then I'm still paying a subscription fee monthly, which is lame.

What I really want is a single player version of these games with only the core story content.  I want to buy it once and not have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

I'm just a jaded MMO veteran at this point.

I'll continue with Final Fantasy XIV until I either run out of playtime or finish the main storyline.  After that, chances are good that I will not be renewing my subscription.  The only reason I'm willing to keep giving it my time is that the game is a mainline Final Fantasy title.  Without that, I would have thrown in the towel already.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Goodbye Joystiq, I will miss you

The rumor of the last couple days, backed up by tweets from employees of the company, is that Joystiq is being shut down by it's parent company AOL.

That sucks.

Joystiq is one of the best places for gaming news online.  I've had them in my RSS feed for as long as I can remember.

From time to time, as I've played various MMOs, I've also followed the work of their subsites like WoW Insider and Massively.

Joystiq does such great work and they're one of only three gaming news sites that I actually look at every article they post.  If they're gone their is going to be a hole in my gaming news and I don't know where I'm going to turn to fill it.

The other two sites that I look at every article from are Polygon and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  But I need to get news from multiple sources.  If Joystiq really goes under I'll be in search of a new general gaming news site.  I would rather not turn toward the Kotakus of the world.  They don't do very good work.  Occasionally they've have an article worth reading, but they fail at being a purely news site.

I'm sad because I know there's nothing I can do about Joystiq.  It seems like AOL just doesn't know what to do with them.  It seems to be the fault of AOL not understanding the property that they're sitting on.  It's definitely not the fault of the journalism.

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, but it's not looking good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV: A Few Weeks In

I hit level 30  in Final Fantasy XIV earlier this week and the pacing came to a grinding halt.  And I do mean grinding.

I was jarred out of the main story because suddenly I needed to go start a secondary Class from level 1 and get them up to level 15.  I've been playing an Archer, so in this case the secondary Class I needed was Pugilist.  I needed to get my secondary Class to 15 so that I could pick up an advanced "Job" that goes on top of my main Archer class.

The Class and Job system isn't really explained well in the game.  I needed to ask some guildmates about it and do some research online to actually figure it out.

In the end, I got Pugilist to 15 which let me pick up the Bard Job for my Archer Class.  It took multiple days and it totally broke me out of my groove.

I finally got back to my level 30 main Class/Job which is now Archer/Bard and found that after level 30 the leveling slows down a lot.  No longer could I fly through the main storyline quests that I was having so much fun with.  I was constantly hitting a level barrier where I would have to go grind for another level before I could progress the main quest.

It's been really disheartening.

I actually liked the pace of the game up to level 30, but now it's wearing on me.  I'm constantly grinding through dungeons and repetitive quests just for experience points so that I can level up.  I do it because I want to see what's next in the main story, but I'm not having as much fun as I was before level 30.

I just want to get on with the main quest.

This amount of grinding would not be acceptable in a single player Final Fantasy game.

It's not all bad though.  Some of the dungeons are fun and I finally have enough of them to add some variety to the duty finder (dungeon finder).  Some of these include the Primals.  Primals are big element creatures that are summons from other Final Fantasy games.  They are very fun to fights against.  I hope there are more to come.  I think it's really cool how they've taking these summons from previous games in the series and turned them into enemies in Final Fantasy XIV.

It's also great how my character is a crystal bearer.  It's such a perfect throwback to the Final Fantasy games of old.  The crystal theme is used well in this case and it never feels shoehorned in.

There are a couple other little things bugging me at this point.

I was having a conversation with a friend in-game as I entered a dungeon.  Little did I know, you can't send private messages in dungeons.  Our conversation got cut off mid-thought.  It was extremely annoying.

The last thing to mention is the gold seller problem.  I'm constantly getting private messages from gold sellers trying to sell me in-game currency.  It's a much bigger problem in this MMO compared to others I've played in the past.

I guess I don't have any big conclusions for you at the moment.  I'm over half way through  the main story and these are just my general feelings and thoughts at this point in the game.

I'm still attempting to finish the main storyline before I feel like I can call Final Fantasy XIV "finished".  Hopefully I make it before my paid time expires.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I'm not a comic book guy.  I never really have been.  And while I love webcomics like Penny-Arcade I don't think I've ever bought a physical comic book in my life.

There have been two times when I waded into the shallow end of the comic book pool.

The first time was when one of my roommates in college gave my PDFs of comic series he thought I would like.  It basically ended up being the entire run of Walking Dead and Y The Last Man.  Neither series had been finished at that point but I read everything that had been released at the time.  While it didn't get me to run out and buy the next entry in each series, it did show me that modern comic books aren't all boring superheroes rehashing the same events and situations.

My second exposure was a year or two ago on free comic book day when I learned about Comixology.  It's an app, web interface, and online store where you can buy comics digitally.  They were offering something like the first issue of 40 different comic series for free.  I downloaded all of the free comics and found a bunch I liked.

In that process I found that a Penny-Arcade spin-off comic about the Lookouts was available on Comixology.  I actually paid for the entire series.  Those were the first, and only, comics that I've ever purchased.

Until last week.

Last week this happened.

Star Wars #1 by Marvel was released and it sold over a million copies.  I guess that's a huge benchmark in the comic book world.  I did some research and found out that typically the biggest and most eventful comics will max out around 250,000 sales.  One million sales is just unheard of.

It's the first Star Wars comic that is canon to the franchise.  Until very recently the license for Star Wars comics was held by Dark Horse.  They've made comics in the universe since the early 90s.  With Disney acquiring the Star Wars franchise they have handed over the reigns to Marvel, wiped away the entire comic backlog from Dark Horse, and are starting fresh.

Everything in the comics from this issue forward is canon and will effect the universe going forward.

If you can't tell by now, I bought it.  I snagged it through Comixology since I'm already familiar with their store.  It's a good start to a series that I plan on keeping up with.

Maybe this is what will finally get me to become a comic guy.  But maybe not.  Maybe I'm just a Star Wars guy.  I'm ok with it, either way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

NES Remix 2

I finally got around to trying out NES Remix 2 on my Wii U yesterday and I found it surprisingly fun.

I bought and played NES Remix 1 when it released but was underwhelmed by the game.  This series takes small portions of various Nintendo Entertainment System games and samples them.  It gives a taste of each game while giving you minor challenges and teaching you the basic mechanics.  Then it gives bonus stages that remix everything you know about the games.

While NES Remix 1 wasn't fantastic, it was an interesting format.  It's major failing was the games that it sampled from.  They were all very early NES games and the majority weren't great.

NES Remix 2 solves this problem by pulling from later NES games.  I'm having so much more fun with this second entry in the series than I did with the first.  It's giving me a feel for a bunch of games that I never tried, which is really fun.  It's also a blast from the past since it gives me a chance to replay bits of games I liked as a kid.

NES Remix 2 is probably worth the asking price on Wii U.  Take a look at it if you haven't yet.

That being said, I don't think I would buy another game in this series if it sampled from more NES games again.  But, if they started diving into their Super Nintendo backlog... that's a whole different story.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Counting Calories With MyFitnessPal

I should really write about all the health/fitness apps I use, but for right now I want to talk about MyFitnessPal.  The others might come up in the course of writing this anyway.

One of the things to do when you're trying to get healthier or change your diet is to start counting calories.  Since I'm doing that right now I wanted to write about this app because it's the best calorie counter that I've found.

It's an app and also a website.  All the information syncs between the two.

It has a huge library of food that is easily searchable.  Any user can submit new food to it.  Other users can then confirm nutritional info as correct and it will end up in their general library for everyone to use.

The last time I used it was over 6 months ago and since then they've added a new feature.  Scanning barcodes!  I can't believe how easy this makes it to track calories.  Just point your phone at the barcodes of food or ingredients as you pull them out to make a meal.  It's database is really good at giving you the exact information for different brand name foods.

MyFitnessPal also lets you set goals and adjusts calorie requirements to help you reach them.  It's nice that it will do that for you and you don't have to manually adjust calorie goals from week to week.

It also integrates with other apps and services.  I use it with Runkeeper and a Withings scale.  It works flawlessly with them.

I step on my Withings scale every morning and my info is synced to their service, which updates my weight in MyFitnessPal.

Whenever I do physical activity I turn on Runkeeper and monitor my running, walking, or biking.  Once an activity is completed it automatically uploads the activity and how many calories I burned to MyFitnessPal.

The MyFitnessPal app also works with the built in step tracker in iOS8.  As I move around throughout the day MyFitnessPal will add my steps tracked through my iPhone to my daily exercise and adjust my calories accordingly.

Basically I'm using these apps in conjunction to automate monitoring my health as much as possible.  It still requires a little bit of work, but with my current setup it's less than 5 minutes of effort for me each day.

I would highly suggest checking out MyFitnessPal.  Especially if you've thought about tracking your calories before but have never gotten around to it.  It's awesome and completely free.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Most Anticipated Game of the 2015

I know we're almost done with January already, but I keep reading articles and posts about most anticipated games of 2015.  And nothing has really released yet this year.

This got me thinking.  What's my most anticipated game of 2015?  When I took some time to think about it I was kind of surprised by my answer.

Bravely Second!

I've obviously been on a Final Fantasy kick lately, and Bravely Default was my favorite game of the last year.  So when I really looked at games targeted to release in 2015 it's Bravely Second that stands out above the rest.

I loved Bravely Default's JRPG style brought to us with some updates for the modern era.  If Bravely Second maintains that and evens out the pacing of the story it should be an amazing game.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pushing 30

I'm pushing 30.  At least that's what my wife says to me when we're being sarcastic with each other.  Don't worry, I say it right back to her.

I'm 28.  30 doesn't really scare me, but I do know I'm getting to the point in my life where I need to take better care of my body if I want to keep it for the long haul.  My body won't just maintain itself like it did when I was a teenager or in my early twenties.

For the past 6 years I've been trying to exercise regularly and mostly failing.  I started running for fun and exercise about a year before my daughter was born but was never able to get on a regular running schedule.  Between our pregnancies, having kids, and a few job changes I just haven't had a steady schedule for any long period of time.

It's hard to make fitness a habit when your schedule changes a lot.  But I keep trying.

I try to do something physical every day.  Typically this is a run, but sometimes it's walking or getting on the stationary bike for awhile.  Now that our kids are old enough I have some flexibility in my schedule and I've gotten pretty good at making activity a regular occurrence.  It doesn't happen every day but it's rare for me to miss more than a few days in a row.

With exercise finally starting to feel like a lifestyle instead of a struggle I turned to my eating habits.

This has been much more difficult for me.  I was always the pickiest kid I knew when it came to food.  It wasn't until my patient wife slowly and carefully started to expand my palette in my twenties that I ate more than a handful of foods.

But learning to eat clean and healthy is a completely different hurdle.  Finding food that is healthy that I don't hate is hard.  I'm smart, I do my research, and I know about a lot of healthy food.  But my pickiness means that I can't realistically eat most of those.  If I try to I'm just setting myself up for disappointment because I won't stick to it.

I needed a new set of staple foods that I can eat every day and not get sick of.  My wife has been helping me for the past month or two and I've finally found a few that I can stomach.

For the past two weeks I've had a few sets meals to pick from.
  • Stir Fry with Chicken, Snow Peas, and Noodles
  • Pan fried Chicken Breast with a Starch (usually potatoes)
  • Scrambled Eggs with Cheese, Toast, and Orange Juice
  • Turkey on Whole Wheat Bread with a small portion of Chips
This doesn't sound like a lot of variety, but it's enough for me.  I've been used to only having a few staple foods my entire life because of how picky I am.  The key for me was replacing my unhealthy staple foods with healthy ones.

My meals aren't packed full of healthy foods either.  None of those "super foods" or fads of the week would ever work for me.  Instead, I picked food that I enjoy and is generally high in protein.  This way a meal makes me feel full for longer and I have a bunch of slow-burning energy.

I wasn't overweight before starting this food plan, but I wasn't in the optimal weight range for my age either.  I'm already seeing progress toward hitting my weight goal.  From my starting weight I only need to lose about 15 pounds to be in the correct range for my height.  I'm already over a third of the way there.  If I hit that goal I'll probably try to lose more and get into the optimal weight range, but I'm not thinking about that yet.

The important thing for me is how I feel on a day to day basis.  And after only a couple weeks of eating better I'm feeling great!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV: Initial Impressions

This is currently the last entry in the mainline series and I needed to give it a shot.  I was actually really excited to get into a MMO since I haven't played one since World of Warcraft in February of 2011.

Before I start, you should probably know where I stand with MMOs.  My first true MMO was Everquest when it originally released.  I played it for the first years of it's life through the second expansion.  I tried out a few MMOs after that but World of Warcraft was the only one that ever stuck for more than a month.  I played it a little bit with each expansion through Cataclysm.  Basically, I would play until max level and then let me subscription lapse.  Overall, I've probably sampled 10 different MMOs over the years for a month at a time.

Final Fantasy XIV is my first MMO in almost four years.

As I understand it, I'm actually playing the second version of the game.  The original game launched in 2010 with tons of issues and caused lots of unhappiness with players.  A new producer was brought on and the entire game was reworked and relaunched as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013.

Currently, I've played up to level 20 and I'm having a lot of fun with it so far.  It's definitely not a single player Final Fantasy game, but it's much better than most MMOs.

It's very cinematic in the main story questline.  There are cutscenes and voice acting for all the important events.  I really like seeing that in a MMO.  Although, the main story takes too long to unfold.  It feels like arbitrarily low stakes and a slow reveal just because I'm a low level in a MMO.  If this were a single player game the story would have taken off by now.

The game has a distinct Final Fantasy feel.  From the look of the world, the jobs, the chocobos, the airships, and especially the music.  I can tell the developers of Final Fantasy XIV are pulling from their vast experience with the series.  I truly appreciate it.  Having the name Final Fantasy attached is what got me interested in this game so it's good that the game reflects the series.

The biggest drawbacks for me are common MMO complaints.  Leveling is too slow.  Groups can be hard to find, even with the Duty Finder (group finder).  There are unimaginative quest hubs all over.  Those quest hubs don't have enough content to level you up sufficiently.

Hotbar combat is the same as it's ever been.  There are no cool and unique battle systems to write about like I have for the other Final Fantasy games.  Enemies are the typical "don't stand in the fire" while keeping your optimal ability rotation going.

None of this was unexpected, but I'm a little jaded with typical MMO design.

There are other things I like about Final Fantasy XIV.  My Free Company (guild) is made up of a bunch of cool bloggers and twitter people I know.  I can play my character on the same server across both PC and PS4.  I never have to make an alt because one character can become every class and job in the game.  Just switch weapons to a different class and your character starts leveling it from wherever you last left off.  Player housing seems interesting and well done.  Character creation had a ton of options.  The dungeons are pretty fun.

I'm planning on playing Final Fantasy XIV until I either complete the main story quest or I run out of game time.  When one of those happens I'll reassess if I want to keep playing.

I already know I'm not going to put this into my Final Fantasy rankings when I write my wrap-up post.  It's just not the same comparing a MMO to the rest of the single player series.  I love the single player games so much.  I know I wouldn't be fair to the one MMO of the bunch if I were to rank it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's Next for the Final Fantasy Project?


I don't feel like I'm done.  It took a long time, but I did it, I finished Final Fantasy I through XIII!  I'm super proud of myself, but now that I've done it I feel like I have at least one more thing to do.

I need to try out FFXIV.

I wrote a post for FFXI with my impressions from long ago even though I had originally intended to skip the MMOs altogether.  I should at least devote a post to FFXIV, but that means I need to play it.

I wanted to weigh in on every mainline game in the series and I would feel bad if I left out the fourteenth entry in the main series.  I'm not promising I'll reach endgame or anything.  It's still a MMO and will never actually end.  But, at this point, I really need to give it a shot.  I don't want my Final Fantasy Project to be missing a crucial game.

The other thing I'm going to continue to do is my Final Fantasy Project Sidequests series.  These are offshoots of the mainline series and I plan on doing impressions of some of them, full playthroughs of others, and skip over a few of them.

I've spent a bunch of time with Thetarhythm Final Fantasy lately, I just haven't written about it yet.

I'm especially excited to get back to the Final Fantasy Tactics series.  I liked Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 but I have never played the original game.  I'm probably going to play the War of the Lions version which is a remaster of the original.

I also want to get around to replaying FFX-2.  I enjoyed the battle system a lot the first time I played it.  And now that I like FFXIII I'm starting to think about giving FFXIII-2 a shot.

That's where we stand.  It's not over yet.  Expect posts about last entry in the mainline series soon.  I'll most likely do a true wrap-up post after that.  I just don't feel like I'm done yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No More Club Nintendo

Earlier today Nintendo gave notice that they're discontinuing their Club Nintendo program.  I've been a member of Club Nintendo for the past couple years and I really liked it.  I'm sad to see it go.

There have been times when the club reward offerings weren't great, but there have also been times with fantastic physical and digital goods exclusive to Club Nintendo.  I picked up my 3DS XL charging cradle through the program as well as the soft case I use to carry my 3DS XL around in my backpack.  Not to mention the handful of classic Nintendo games I've grabbed for virtual console through the club.

It's not all bad.  I truly hope this signals Nintendo's intention to turn over a new leaf when it comes to digital offerings.

Historically, Nintendo has been really bad at online stuff in general, lagging far behind Microsoft and Sony.  They're infamous friend code system for adding friends online.  The bad matchmaking and often unplayable online multiplayer.  And, more importantly in this case, how much they've failed at user accounts.

Games and software still aren't tied to Nintendo Network ID.  At this point that is unforgivable.  Every other company associates software with the account it's activated on.  This allows for so many benefits and ease of transportation between devices.  Nintendo still ties software to the hardware it's activated on.  It's super frustrating.

If your 3DS is stolen and you want to get your software back on a new 3DS they require you to file a police report, send them a copy of it, have one of their staff dig through your purchase history to find out what games you've purchase, then refund you the money you spent into your Nintendo Network wallet, at which point you can finally re-purchase your software.  If your Vita is stolen and you buy a new one you simply log in to your account and you have access to your software.

Nintendo is behind the times in the digital world.

While I'm sad that Club Nintendo is being discontinued, I'm really hoping that this is a signal that Nintendo may be turning over a new leaf in the digital space.  In a perfect world they would unify all their accounts, tie software to Nintendo ID, and integrate some of kind reward program through it as well.  A fully integrated account for all my Nintendo systems and software would be amazing.

Only time will tell.  They seem to their own thing over there.  I mean, who knows when it comes to Nintendo?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bike and Game

I'm a runner.  I run for exercise multiple times per week.  At least, I do when it's not winter.

This is the first full winter that my family has been in our house.  We live in Minnesota which means that running in the winter isn't a viable option.  There's either too much snow or it's too cold out (-15 F last week) to run outside.  In the past I've had a treadmill while living with my parents, going to college, and living in apartments with my wife.  We don't have room for a treadmill in our townhouse but I decided I needed to do something to stay active all winter.

So I found a stationary bike that doesn't take up much room and can be folded up and put away if needed.  It was ok at first.  Not as good as running but still ok.  It gave me the something physical I needed even if it wasn't as enjoyable as running.

But very quickly I realized I could move the bike over in front of our main TV.  This is the TV with our PS4 and Wii U hooked up to it.  You see where this is going, right?

Now I bike daily while playing games.  I make progress in whatever the game of the month is.  Or I spend time with my evergreen games like Mario Kart 8, Smash Brothers, and Race the Sun.  Mario Kart 8 is especially motivating.  My body seems to think if I pedal faster I can drive faster in the game.

It's amazing!  I get to combine the exercise I need with the gaming I love.

I'm already seeing a ton of benefits.  I'm more consistent with exercise than I've ever been and I know it's because I have access to entertainment to distract me.  I don't have to worry so much about how my muscles are feeling or if I'm out of breath.  I just play my game of choice and occasionally glance at the bike odometer.

I've been able to go further and faster by keeping my mind off the exercise.  Occupying my mind seems to let me accomplish much more physically.

Not to mention that I'm often listening to a podcast at the same time.  I overload my brain with enough mental processes that I don't think about how hard it is to keep going.

My biking distances have skyrocketed compared to the first week I was biking without entertainment.

This whole thing makes me tempted to buy a Steambox and stream games from my new PC to my TV.  I'm still very happy with what I'm playing, but a wider selection of games is always nice.

I'm excited for the snow to melt and the spring to arrive.  But, until then, I'll be happily pedaling away while my mind is on something fun.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Final Fantasy XIII: Wrap-Up

I finished the game!  This one felt a like it took longer since the holidays happened while I was in the middle of playing, but I finished it!  And, surprisingly, I really liked it.

Before starting the Final Fantasy Project I thought that Final Fantasy XIII was going to end up very near the bottom of my list.  I hated this game by the time I finished my first playthrough of it.  I thought I would have to suffer through the entire game again.  Imagine my surprise to find myself truly enjoying the game.

It's not without it's flaws, but the biggest difference this time around were my expectations of the game.  Every person has a different expectation for a game with Final Fantasy in the title, and the first time I played Final Fantasy XIII my expectations were so different than what the game actually was.  Now, years later, the game hasn't changed at all but my expectations of it have.

This time I went into the game knowing that it would be linear, that there would be no sidequests, no open world to explore, no towns full of NPCs to interact with.  This is a game with a linear story to tell and an interesting battle system to keep players entertained along the way.  Once I wrapped my head around that, I stopped worrying about my old feelings and just enjoyed playing.

There are still two major flaws I ran into in Final Fantasy XIII.

The first is pacing.  I changed my mentality and learned to love the linear story for what it is and it was great for the first 10 chapters of the game.  Then chapter 11 hit.  The pace slowed to a crawl.  There's a ton of uninteresting, yet required, grinding that happens in chapter 11.  Once I reached chapter 12 things seemed to pick up slightly but the pacing never again got as good as it was during the first 10 chapters of the game.  Chapters 11-13 just seemed to drag on for too long.  But then the game ended and I was mostly satisfied with the ending.

My other main issue with Final Fantasy XIII is how badly they present the world to the player.  By the end of your time with it you mostly understand the terms the characters have been throwing around all game, but it would go a long way to help new players if the terms were explicitly spelled out in the beginning of the game.  During my first playthrough, the story made almost no sense to me.  This time I did a little pre-research and I was fine.

And yes, I know there is a "Datalog" in the game with lots of information.  But if it's critical information it should be presented to the player during the course of playing the game.  It shouldn't be buried in a submenu that most people will never bother to look at.

Those were really the only two things that still bugged me by the end of the game.  Besides that, I really enjoyed my time with Final Fantasy XIII.  It's going to end up much higher in my ranking than I thought.  I'm putting it at number 3.  I'm amazed I'm putting it at number 3, but after playing through the game again I think it deserves to be there.

As a note, I should mention that the Steam PC version worked great for me the entire playthrough.  Mid-way through my playthrough Square Enix pushed a patch to enable 1080p resolution and more graphics options.  The game now looks fantastic.  And the Steam cloud sync of save files let me keep playing easily despite building a new replacement PC in the middle of my playthrough.  I can whole heartedly recommend this version just as much as the console versions.

Final Fantasy Ranking
1. IX
2. X
5. VII
6. VI
7. IV
8. V
9. XII
10. II
11. I
12. III

Total Completion Time: 33 hrs 29 mins

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Go Fish!

One of the coolest parts of being a parent is watching your kids turn into fully functional human beings.  I guess what I mean by that is watching them grow up.

For so long you're stuck in state of constantly taking care of their every need.  And they need a lot.  But then, eventually, they start to do some things for themselves.

They get better and better at doing things and then one day they are basically a fully functional, but little, human being.

I bring this up to say that my daughter is four and it's awesome!  She plays games with me on iPad and Wii U all the time.  We just got her first console (that she's in charge of) for Christmas when we got her a 2DS.  And now she's starting to play tabletop games!

Yesterday I got home and was greeted with her asking, "Daddy, will you play Go Fish with me?"

I'm trying to raise little gamers, so whenever she asks to play something I always say yes.  And it was a blast!  I love watching her as her mind processes the game and figures out what to do.  She's slowly wrapping her mind around it and it's amazing to watch.

Each new game she and her younger brother pick up is a step toward having a gaming family.

I love it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Things I Learned by Sampling Way Too Many Steam Games

I Played a lot of Games

In total I sampled 66 Steam games that have been sitting in my library, unplayed.  The last 22 posts leading up to this one have been my impressions of them.  While it may seem to you, dear reader, like I played them over the course of many weeks the truth is different.  I crammed all these games into the space of one week, between Christmas and New Years.

It gave me a great chance to put my new PC through its paces and it finally let me sort through my huge Steam backlog.

What did I learn?  Let me tell you...

Having a Controller is Key

There were so many games that I tried which would be next to impossible to play with only a mouse and keyboard.  There is another big selection of games in my library that can be played with mouse and keyboard, but are much better with a controller.

My go to controller is from my dead Xbox 360.  The console is dead, but the controllers are all in fully functional.  I keep one near my PC and it works perfectly with the sync station I have plugged in via USB.  Or, if you don't already have a wireless one laying around you can grab the wired variety.  It connects directly to a PC via USB with no sync station required.  But honestly, the sync stations sell for like $5 so it's probably worth it to get rid of the wires.

The Xbox 360 controller is quickly becoming the industry standard PC controller.  All of the games I tried it with recognized it immediately and needed no configuration from me.

Long Intros Suck

Let me play your game!  Don't make me wait through twenty minutes of bullshit.

Give me a taste of your gameplay in the first five minutes of the game.  By the end of trying 66 different games the story didn't matter at all.  I was trying to get a feel for the game and that required gameplay.  The gameplay I wanted to sample was often buried behind ten to twenty minutes of intros, cutscenes, character creators, and whatever else.

Hook me on the gameplay first, then hit me with your story and worldbuilding.  Not the other way around.

A lot of developers suck at making trailers

Show off the cool part of your game!  Not the intro, title screen, preamble, or awards!

I was trying to embed videos with my impressions whenever it made sense, but so many of the game trailers were horrible or didn't show off the gameplay at all.  Many of the videos were made up primarily of text listing awards or critical reception.  Another handful were cinematic intros to the games that didn't give any kind of impression of gameplay whatsoever.

I know a game developer might not be a professional video editor... but maybe they should hire one.

Limited Mental Energy for Epic RPGs

I tried out a bunch of RPGs and almost none of them stuck.  The only one that truly grabbed my attention was Valkyria Chronicles.  I barely even remember the other RPGs I tried.

I need to love the setting, the battle system, and the characters for the game to have any chance of sticking.  Even if I have all those things I might not be able to buy into the game if it isn't from a series or developer I already love.  I only have so much mental energy to put toward these huge games.

It takes something truly special or unique to hold my attention in an RPG.  I know that if I commit to an RPG I'm almost always committing more than 20 hours of my time to that game, if not 40 or 100.  RPGs are epic in length and if they don't wow me early, I'm not going to commit to the time it takes to play them.

Lots of Kickstarting, Not Much Playing

I kickstarted a lot of games that are now in full release.  I had barely played any of them.  I was surprised by how many of my backlog games were Kickstarters that I backed and never even tried the finished product.

This is definitely going to give me pause in the future when I look at Kickstarting games.  Unless I'm super passionate about a game, it seems to be a better idea to just wait.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions Twenty-Second

This is my twenty-second set of Steam backlog game impressions.  It's also my last set!  I've finally tried all the games I've been meaning to in my Steam library!

Expect a couple more follow-up posts reflecting on the 66 games I've tried.  Now I've definitely put my new computer through it's initial real world test.

For now here are the last three games.

Civilization Beyond Earth

I had high hopes for this game.  I ended up very disappointed.  Civilization: Beyond Earth is not a bad game, but it's not a great game either.

I thought this game represented the Civilization series being handed over to a new generation of developers.  They were setting it on new planets beyond earth and revamping all the game systems.  I thought incorrectly.

This is basically like every Civilization game before it, but with a sci-fi look and feel.  The main difference during actual gameplay is that there are aliens everywhere and they're much more difficult to deal with than Barbarians ever were in the previous Civ games.  It seems like the aliens attack so much that the only way to possibly win in Civilization: Beyond Earth is to go for a military victory.  That's really sad.  One of the best things about the series was being able to play the game in a multitude of ways.

Luckily for me, I just discovered Endless Legend the other day while playing through this backlog of games.  It's awesome and it does everything I thought Beyond Earth was going to do in terms of revamping the tired Civ formula.  Endless Legend is going to take the spot from Civilization in my gaming lineup from now on.

Risk of Rain

A pixel side scrolling shooter.  This one didn't really do much for me.  I was given a survivor on a planet with a couple special abilities and told to survive.  The survivor setting is well represented with other games at the moment and I didn't like the feel of the shooting.

I wouldn't recommend this game.  I would much rather be playing Super Time Force Ultra instead.  It was so much better.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein is strangely good.  It's like someone took a 90s shooter and revamped it for the modern era.

Health doesn't recharge.  You constantly need to pick up ammo, health, and armor.  There is over the top Nazi killing.  It feels like a 90s shooter, but it's so much better.

I can't put my finger on exactly what I like about this game.  I do know I've had more fun in my first two hours with Wolfenstein: The New Order than I had in all of my playthrough of Call of Duty Modern Warfare this year.  I would easily recommend it to FPS fans.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions Twenty-First

Endless Legend

Endless Legend feels like someone took the Civilization series redesigned everything about it that felt stale and dropped it in a fantasy setting.

After only an hour or so with this game I already love it.  This will easily supplant Civilization V from my favorites and take its place.  It scratches the exact same itch, but I like this game better.  I recently picked up Civilzation: Beyond Earth and haven't tried it out yet but it and Endless Legend are going to have to slug it out and see who comes out on top.

I've already deleted Civilization V off my hard drive and added Endless Legend in its place among my Steam favorites list.  It's really good.

Endless Space

This is a space game made by the same developer as Endless Legend.  While Endless Legend was a new release from 2014, Endless Space came out in 2012.  It's a 4x space strategy game.

While I was able to get my head around Endless Legend quickly, I had more trouble understanding all the systems in Endless Space.  I'm not sure if its more complex or if it just isn't explained as well.  I think there's a good game here, but it's another game where I don't have the time needed to dig in and truly understand the systems.

If you want an in-depth 4x space game with complexity you'll probably love this one.

Valkyria Chronicles

A turn based RPG set in an alternate universe World War II.  Valkyria Chronicles has been held up as one of the best turn based games last console generation, and it's finally come to PC.  Although it released on PS3 in November of 2008 it only came out for PC in November of 2014, six years later.

Was it worth the wait?  I think so.  It's really cool!  This is the most I've been excited for a battle system in an RPG in a long time.  Units are selected from an overhead map in turns but once a unit is selected it is moved around the battlefield in real time.  Time freezes when a unit needs to aim but all other movement happens with the real time warzone going on around you.  It's a ton of fun.

Valkyria Chronicles is going right to the top of my list of RPGs to play once I finish my Final Fantasy Project.  If I wasn't already committed to getting through the rest of the mainline Final Fantasy games I would play Valkyria Chronicles immediately.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Twentieth

Chaos Reborn

Chaos Reborn reminds me of chess... if chess had creatures to summon...  and wizards.  I like it a lot.  You are a wizard and get a deck of spell cards.  Each card is a creature or ability.  These are your spells and on your turn you can cast one.  Spells have a percentage chance to succeed, with really good spells and monsters being harder to cast.

The cool thing about spells is that you can summon and illusionary version of any creature and it has 100% chance of succeeding.  It also has 100% of the abilities of the creature.  The only downside is that the other wizard can choose to call bullshit and disbelieve your creature.  If they're correct it costs them nothing and they continue their turn.  If they're wrong they don't get to cast any other spells.

I really like this game.  I'm not telling you to go pick it up yet, because it's still in early access.  It's one I already know I'll be playing a bunch of.  I'm pretty sure it will be a recommendation once it gets its full release.


I love the premise of this game.  The main character has a USB sword that can hack any of the objects in the game.  When you hack them you are given access to some behind-the-scenes variables that let you modify how objects behave.

I was really excited to play this game, but playing it isn't as much fun as I thought.  Since you can hack the enemy stats the game is ridiculously easy.  It's easy to the point where it's not fun.  Also, I'm a developer, so the game constantly reminds me of the work I do on a daily basis.  I don't want to be reminded of work while playing a game.

Planetary Annihilation

This is a game desperately in need of a good tutorial.  The scale is huge.  The art style is great.  It looks like it has a ton of potential for giant galactic battles.  I figured out the basic controls and made my first few structures.  From my first few structures I made my first few units.  Then I had no idea what to do.

How do I find my enemy?  Which units are good?  What are the different kinds of units good for?  How should I structure my base?  How does space travel work?  How do resources work?

These are all things I'm sure I could figure out if I just devoted hours to the game, but I don't want to.  I want a quick primer on how to play the game so that I can enjoy it.  There is no tutorial in the game, just a general text guide on the title menu.  If I ever feel like I have the patience, I might return to this game.  For now, I'm putting it away.

Monday, January 12, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Nineteenth


When I picked this one up I didn't realize it was a Game for Windows Live game.  I've had enough trouble with that service over the years to know not to even try to make it work.

I got the game to launch but it wouldn't let me play without signing into Games for Windows Live and jumping through all the hoops.  I gave up right there.

Goat Simulator

It's unexpectedly fun to be a goat!  Well, a goat with a super headbutt who is a jerk to everyone.  Goat Simulator is a ton of fun!

I spent most of my time in the first two areas they originally included with the game and I already feel like I got my money's worth.  I haven't even touched the Goat MMO Simulator expansion that they added for free.  I'm going to be revisiting that soon.

The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga has come a long way since I played it in Beta.  I'm actually pleasantly surprised.  I love the core combat of this game.  If I didn't already have a couple turn based strategy games waiting in the wings I would probably lock down with this one for awhile.

I have a few nitpicks.  The story is slow to start and hasn't really grabbed me.  I'm also not a fan of the unit management I need to do in camp at night.

I appreciate the multiplayer mode, it truly showcases the battle system.  The thing that would really be perfect for me would be a set of one off scenarios of increasing difficulty with pre-selected units.  I wouldn't have to do unit management or drag myself through the story, I could just enjoy the core combat... which is fantastic.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Eighteenth

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution

I've never been a huge fan of the Warhammer 40k universe, but I'm always up for a good strategy game.  That's why I picked this one up.  I don't know why I've waited to play it, but that's why it's called a backlog.  Games are just laying there in wait.

I was ready for a cool strategy game but I only found an ok one.  It seems like this is built on the Company of Heroes engine.  Company of Heroes was a World War II RTS that had ideas like suppression and firing arcs.  This has those exact same ideas, but in the Warhammer 40k universe.

Playing this RTS just served to remind me how good Blizzard is at making RTS games.  I would much rather go play Starcraft 2, or even Warcraft 3, than play more of Dawn of War II.  It just doesn't hold up.

Saints Row IV

I played Saints Row 3 for awhile and enjoyed it.  I never beat the game or felt truly drawn into the world, but it was a fun game to mess around in for an hour or two at a time.

Saints Row IV is better.  It's still a ton of fun to play around in, but it takes itself even less seriously.  And I love the premise for the game, being trapped in a Matrix style simulation.  It takes what I liked about Saints Row 3 and cranks it up even higher.  I was genuinely laughing out loud while playing the game.

I've tried over 45 games in my backlog at this point and Saints Row IV is the second one to actually engage me enough to lose track of time while playing.  I intended to play for 30 to 45 minutes like I have been doing for most games I'm trying, but I played for well over an hour before I even thought to look at the time.  Saints Row IV is going in my favorites list and it's easy for me to recommend it to you.

Cook, Serve, Delicious

This game reminds me of Diner Dash.  It's fairly simple game design, but that's not a bad thing.  You're managing the chaos of a restaurant and trying to keep up with customer demand.  Cook, Serve, Delicious gets crazy once a lunch rush or dinner rush hits.  It's fun in it's own way.

You get to slowly improve the quality of your restaurant and buy new food and equipment.  The progression mechanic is pretty cool in that way.  I don't see myself spending a lot of time with this game, but I know it will really appeal to some people.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Seventeenth

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Oh man, this was a mixed bag.  I played enough of the game to remind me that I love this game.  It's one of my favorite games on the original Xbox, but it's seriously showing its age.

It seems like all of the Star Wars games on Steam are from the PS2 / Original Xbox era and none of them have been updated or optimized for modern PC gaming.  I had to give up on Knights of the Old Republic on PC after less than half an hour.  I couldn't deal with the bad controls, crazy resolutions, and old menu interface.

I played enough to make me miss this game in it's original form.  So, I looked around and noticed that an updated and optimized version exists on iOS.  I picked it up in a heartbeat.  I'll definitely be playing that one soon.

Jade Empire: Special Edition

Don't buy this game.  I couldn't get it to launch.  I fought the good fight and did almost an hour of troubleshooting because I really wanted to try this game.  Despite my best efforts it just wouldn't launch.

It's a shame, because I have fond memories of this game.  It's a Bioware RPG set in a martial arts wielding era of Chinese history.  It's a setting that doesn't typically get much attention from RPGs.  I remember loving this game when I originally played it.

I guess I'll just keep holding out hope that Bioware will eventually revisit this franchise.  I would be so happy if they did.

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Enhanced Edition

I've never played The Witcher but I've been told it's really frustrating.  I've also been told most of the frustrations were removed in the sequel.  That's why I jumped in and tried The Witcher 2: Super Long Subtitle.

I didn't like it.  It might be that I haven't bought into the world because I never played the first game.  More likely, I just don't have enough mental head space to get invested in lots of epic RPGs.  If I want an epic RPG I have many other options that I'm more excited about.

The gameplay and setting just didn't do it for me in the first half hour I played.  The combat, characters, and setting all felt very generic.  I'm sure it gets better.  This game has tons of awards and accolades.  I just don't have the energy to push through to get to the "good" part of the game.

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Sixteenth

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior

Remember how I mentioned that Shadow Warrior is super bloody and gorey?  In this game, you clean up the mess you made.  You're basically given a mop and some rubber gloves and told to go to town.

It's set in the same location as Shadow Warrior after all the action has taken place.  Someone has to clean it up and it's you.  It's a really weird game.  I was oddly fascinated for about 5 minutes, then it was just gross.  There's no way I can recommend this one.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut

I kickstarted Shadowrun Returns and when it finally came out I was disappointed with it.  The pacing was too slow and there wasn't the ability to save anywhere.  Those are two things that will absolutely kill a game for me.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall is the stand-alone expansion to Shadowrun Returns and I got it for free because I was a backer.  It seems to have fixed my main complaints about Shadowrun Returns.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall kicks off with a heist mission that doesn't have a giant hand-holding tutorial attached to it.  The pacing is good.  In the middle of the intro mission I had to stop and help my daughter with something.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a save anywhere option in the menu!

So, I like it!  I finally started digging into the turn based combat and the interesting cyberpunk world building they have going on.  I'm having a much better experience than I had with Shadowrun Returns.  I'll definitely be returning to

Wasteland 2

Another game I helped kickstart.  I'm surprised I had so many of these sitting in my Steam account unplayed.  Wasteland was the spirtitual precursor to Fallout and this is the sequel to the original Wasteland.

Wasteland 2 is built on a solid engine and has a lot going on under the hood.  I can tell the systems are complex and interesting.  Although, after playing it for a little bit I didn't want to continue.

I think my problem is with the setting.  I don't want to be in a desert wasteland right now.  I've played games in that setting way too often.  It's not a bad game, but it's not what I want to be playing right now.  Maybe another time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fifteenth

Super Time Force Ultra

Initially I didn't like this game.  The story seemed kind of dumb and I wasn't a big fan of the particular pixel graphic style they went with for the game.

The gameplay is what truly won me over.  Super Time Force Ultra is a side scrolling shooter and at any time you can pause time, rewind, make a copy of yourself, and continue playing.  This means death is instantly reversible and the levels keep flowing.

It also means you can have 30 copies of yourself on screen at the same time destroying enemies.  It's so much fun, especially the boss battles.  I don't know how many total stages there are but I played a little more than an hour.  I played enough to know that I'm going to come back and finish this game once I wrap up this Steam backlog playthrough I'm doing.

Shadow Warrior

Do you want a bloody first person sword fighting game?  This is for you.  It's super bloody and super sword fighty.  Your first, and primary, weapon is a katana.  Slashing enemies causes all sorts of dismemberment and gore.

I rarely feel the need for extensive blood and gore in my games.  I'm definitely not in the mood for it at the moment.  I'm going to delete this off my hard drive for now, but if I ever feel the need for something like this I know that it's in my Steam library.

Kerbal Space Program

Still good.  Still in early access.  Still able to launch Kerbals into the atmosphere with giant rockets.  Still causing many spaceship crashes.

Kerbal Space Program is still showing a ton a promise.  I'm definitely coming back to it once it releases for real.  This is the best spaceship builder and simulator out there.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fourteenth

Half Life 2: Lost Coast

I've beaten Half Life 2, but I never thought it was as amazing and revolutionary as most people.  I had this game sitting in my library and thought I would check it out since I had no idea what it was.

Half Life 2: Lost Coast is basically a glorified tech demo for Half Life 2.  It has a minor scenario that gives you access to all the weapons in the game and puts you up against a bunch of enemy types, all within 30 minutes or so.  It was an ok diversion, but I'm still not a big fan of Half Life in general.

Half Life 2: Episode One

While I was on a Half Life kick I thought I would try Half Life 2: Episode One.  My brother has told me for years that Episode One is much better than the core Half Life 2 game.  After trying Lost Coast, I figured I would finally give Episode One a try.

I tried it and I still don't care about it.  I seem to despise the physics puzzles in Half-Life.  I don't care about the story.  I find the storytelling really lacking and slow paced.  The gunplay is ok.  One of the only things I still like about these games is the gravity gun.

Episode One was just too slow and uninteresting for me.  I was going to try Episode Two also, but I don't think I can.  I just don't care enough about the series.  Maybe I'll feel different when Half-Life 3 comes out, but until then I'm done with the series.

Tesla Effect

I got this game in a humble bundle for free.  I didn't know what to expect going into it and I was surprised to find it's a game with live action videos in it.  That's old school 90s style.

A little googling told me that Tesla Effect is a Tex Murphy game which I guess was a big thing?  It was crowdfunded for over $600k and it looks like Tex Murphy has a big following.

I had never played the original games so this one did nothing for me.  I had no idea who the characters were or what was going on.  Although, I do think it's cool that a new entry in a niche game series like this could get crowdfunded.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Thirteenth


This game didn't click with me at all.  From the forgettable hack and slash combat to the biblical/apocalyptic setting, I just didn't like it.

I know it's supposed to turn into some mash-up of God of War and Zelda eventually, but I was so bored of the game that I couldn't stick with it.  I had to put it down and move on.

Just Cause 2

Another game that didn't resonate with me.

It's kind of cool to fly around with the parachute and the grappling hook.  Beyond that, the game hasn't aged well.  I suppose it's been out for almost 5 years already.  I think I'll just wait for Just Cause 3 to jump into the series.  I like the basics of movement mechanics, but the series needs a modern overhaul.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

I was under the impression this game was a turn based RPG set in the Lord of the Rings universe.  I was wrong about the game type, but right about the setting.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a hack and slash.  I was extremely disappointed to find that out.  These days it takes a very special hack and slash to get me excited, and this one isn't it.  I've played far too many hack and slash games over the years and they all feel the same now.  Same gameplay, new setting.  Nothing worth spending my time on.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Twelfth


Fighting games are very hit and miss with me.  Sometimes I'll find one that will just click with me, but besides Smash Brothers it's extremely rare.

Skullgirls has a really cool look and feel to it.  I love the animation and art style in the game.

The biggest downfall, and the reason I didn't enjoy Skullgirls overall, is that I suck at fighting games.  I'm really bad at them and I don't have the patience to sit and learn until I get better.  I like to button mash my way through a few fights and then move onto the next game.

I actually got stuck in the Skullgirls extensive tutorial section.  I couldn't get very because of my lack of skill.  I'll be sticking to Smash Bros for my fighting game needs.

Star Wars Republic Commando

I remember being blown away by this game when I played it on the original Xbox.  I'm a huge Star Wars fan and I was completely the target demographic for this game.  A first person shooter set during an important time in the Star Wars universe?  Sign me up!

Too bad this game hasn't aged well.  It's practically unplayable now.  I had trouble even getting the settings to the point where I could use the mouse correctly in the main menu.

All this has done is fuel my need for a new and modern Star Wars videogame.  I'm hoping we'll see some good ones come out now that the Star Wars intellectual property is in the hands of Disney.  Maybe next year, once Episode VII releases!

Rising Storm / Red Orchestra 2

I played this game a bunch back in beta and this is my first time revisiting it.  It's an interesting team based shooter.  Set in World War 2, it's a familiar backdrop but the gameplay is unique.

I don't know if I would call it "realistic" since almost no videogame is realistic, but it's definitely closer than most team based shooters.  You often die from taking one shot.  It's best to take a slow and steady approach across a battlefield and be hyper vigilant.  It's much more methodical than a typical team based shooter but that's how it distinguishes itself.

It's going to stay in my collection near Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive, and Chivalry Medieval Warfare.

Monday, January 5, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Eleventh

Spacebase DF-9

Spacebase DF-9 is a game by Doublefine, who have a fairly good track record for games.  When I started playing this game it instantly reminded me of rymdkapsel.  You need to build a base in space while harvesting resources from around you.

Luckily, this game is much better than rymdkapsel was.  There are a lot more options and tools to control individual parts of your base and assign workers to different tasks.  If I had to pick between the two games I would choose this one for sure.

That being said, it's still not a very thrilling game.  Not much happens while you build your space base.  It almost feels like playing Sim City, but in space.  You need to keep your citizens happy and meet their demands.  It's not a bad game, but I won't be going back to it soon.

Papers, Please

Papers, Please deserves all the praise it gets for having unique gameplay.  You are a laborer in a made up eastern European country and your job is to approve or deny people who want to cross into your country.  The rules at the checkpoint get more complicated every day and the challenge is in cross checking information to figure out whether you should approve or deny a visa.

It tells an interesting story through gameplay.  You need to approve and deny visas as fast as possible so you can continue to feed your family, but if you let the wrong people through you can cause terrorist incidents.  People try to bribe and threaten their way in too.

It's a really cool concept and it deserves the praise it gets.  The reason I, personally, don't like it is that I'm bad at the game.  Like, really bad.  I guess I just suck at cross checking information.

Torchlight II

I love the look and feel of this game.  I've tried so many different Diablo clones over the years and Torchlight II is my favorite in terms of aesthetics.  The world is vibrant and varied as are the characters.  The gameplay is solid and any fan of the Diablo-type clickfest games is going to love this one.

These type of games only appeal to me occasionally, and now is not one of those times.  Although, I am glad to have this in my Steam library.  The next time I get a craving for an action RPG clickfest I'm going to turn to Torchlight II.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Tenth

Race the Sun

This seems like a perfect palette cleanser game.  In it, you race toward the sun in your solar powered flyer and see how far you can make it.  Either the sun will set or you will crash into something.

I had a lot of fun just relaxing with this game.  I think that's key, this game is relaxing.  It's a laid back challenge and it's easy to tell yourself you'll play "just one more round" over and over.  This one is going into my favorites.  I will most likely never play Race the Sun for more than ten minutes at a time, but I can see myself playing it in little breaks between other activities very often.

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy

This is an update and a reskin of Half Minute Hero, which I have already played on PS Vita.  It was a good game then and it's a good game now but I don't want to replay the whole thing.  I'm not a fan of the controls on the PC either, it controlled much better on console.  That's disappointing.  If the game had options to rebind keys I could fix it on my own, but they don't have that option which is strange for a PC release.

Completing a quest in 30 seconds with the help of the time goddess is still a lot of fun, and it seems like this version has more content than the original version I played.  If you've never played Half Minute Hero before and you're an RPG fan you should look into it.

Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition

This game is not what I thought it would be.  Blood Bowl is a dice and turn based game from Games Workshop.  It seems to be a modification of the Warhammer 40k characters and universe, except this time they're playing football.  And that football is exceptionally brutal.

It's a premise that could be really fun, but the game itself is a direct translation of the tabletop game.  I thought it would be an interesting videogame rendition but instead it has all the obscure rules and dice rolls of the tabletop game.  There are way too many rules to learn and the game doesn't flow well.

If you're a huge fan of Blood Bowl the tabletop game you'll most likely love this videogame version of it.  For the rest of us it's a game that's easily skipped.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Ninth

Night Sky

You are a sphere.  You roll around.  The world is detailed in black with some basic background colors.  Sometimes the controls do weird things.  That's my general summary of Night Sky.

It's a strange little platformer.  I tried it for a bit, but if I want a platformer there are many other games that are much better.  I won't be coming back to this one.

Nuclear Throne

Nuclear Throne is an early access game by Vlambeer.  It's an overhead action shooter with pixel graphics.  It's set in a post apocalyptic world and you get your choice of mutant creature you want to play as.  Each one has a unique mutant power.

WASD moves your character.  The mouse aims and shoots.  I really wanted to use a controller to play this game, but it doesn't seem to be supported at the moment.  Maybe that will change as early access progresses.

It's an ok action game right now.  It's a roguelike, which doesn't typically appeal to me, but this one has more potential than most.  I had fun during my time with the game but I probably won't revisit it until it's out of early access and actually has a full release.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

This is my favorite environmental destruction game.  I beat Red Faction: Guerrilla when it first released 5 years ago.  After that I used to revisit it on my Xbox 360 whenever I felt like causing destruction.  The buildings just get destroyed in such a satisfying way.

Your character's main weapons are a sledgehammer and explosives.  The perfect combo for structural destruction.  The weapons and vehicles only get better from there.

I'm glad this is on Steam now.  It used to only be through Game for Windows Live, which is a horrible service.  Now that it's on Steam again I can add it into my gaming rotation for whenever I need to break something.  It's so very very satisfying.

Here, check out this video of Nerd Cubed destroying things in the new update!

Friday, January 2, 2015

PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Eighth


This is a game that I kickstarted a long time ago.  I played it for a while in beta and thought it still needed work.  This is my first time revisiting it since its full release.

The game doesn't feel much different than beta.  It's a lane based digital card game.  There is no mana, instead you get to play two cards every turn no matter what.  You start the game with all level 1 cards and each time you use a level 1 card it is replaced in your deck with a level 2 version of the card.  If you use a level 2 version it gets replaced by a level 3.

The game becomes about balancing which cards you want to play.  Should you play the cards that are good for your current situation or should you play cards that are weak now but will cause awesome upper level cards to get into your deck for later use?  It's an interesting balance.

Although I like the game and I helped kickstart it, I'm deleting it off my hard drive.  If I want to play a card game I would rather play something different.  For a good digital card game experience I still turn to Hearthstone.  For a fun physical card game experience I have lots of options sitting on my gaming shelf.  Solforge is good, but I would just rather play other games instead.

Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is a roguelike action game that a ton of people seem to love.  It's a huge hit with Twitch streamers.  I, on the other hand, tend to dislike roguelike games in general.  I enjoy games with progression and story, two things that roguelikes almost always lack.

The first thing I need to say about Rogue Legacy, don't play it without a controller.  I always have an Xbox 360 controller sitting next to my computer ready to be synced to my PC if I need it.  This is a game where I most definitely needed it.  The action is too fast and precise to try to play Rogue Legacy on a keyboard.

I think my problem with the game is that I just don't like roguelike games.  I want something with persistent progression, not a game that resets back to nothing every time I die.  Rogue Legacy has some upgrades that are persistent across deaths, but not very many.  Not enough to satisfy me at any rate.

The only roguelike I've enjoyed enough to play for a long period of time is FTL, but that's an exception.

I know the mechanics and controls of Rouge Legacy are good.  It has good production values overall.  It's another game that simply doesn't suit my taste.  I wanted to like it, but I was done with it after less than an hour.


Uplink didn't click with me at all.  It's a weird old school hacking game.  It basically dumps you onto an old desktop and tell you, "Go hack!"

There was a lot of text, a lot of confusing UI decisions, and not a lot of clear direction.  It feels like a blast from the past, in a bad way.