weekend recap: mistakes were made

This was not a gaming-focused weekend, as we had two sets of grandparents drop by to spend time with the lil’ man.  I suppose my biggest accomplishment was digging the car out of 2 weeks’ worth of ice and snow, and then finding parking spaces at both Costco and Whole Foods on a weekend afternoon.  (The odds of finding parking at the local Costco on a weekend are comically, astronomically, impossibly high, and yet we somehow managed to grab a spot almost immediately – with no threats of violence or angry honking of horns, either.)  And when the TV was on, we generally watched the Olympics, because why not.

That being said, I did somehow manage to finish Jazzpunk, get hopelessly addicted to Threes, and get about 20 minutes into Bravely Default.

I’m going to be reviewing Jazzpunk for the NYVCC later this week, so I’ll keep this short:  it’s an experience well worth having.  And while they have almost nothing else in common, it’s also a game in nearly the exact same way that Gone Home is a game, and that’s a game design concept that I’m hoping to explore further in the review.  One last thing, I guess – I didn’t necessarily find it as hilarious as most other reviewers have, but it is very funny, and its humor is effective precisely because it’s not doled out in carefully crafted punchlines, but rather in a non-stop barrage of surreal absurdity.   I expect it will remain funny upon further playthroughs – which is good, because even though I thought I’d been rather complete in my first run, I only got about one third of the achievements, so there’s quite a lot that I apparently missed.

Threes is already my front-runner for Most Addicting Game of 2014, and I’m kinda glad I got into it when I did – if only so that I was able to completely miss out on the Flappy Bird saga.  My high score is 3312, though I generally fare much, much worse.  More to the point, I’ve been playing it almost constantly since its release and yet I don’t feel like I’m improving, although I’m now able to immediately recognize when my game’s crossed that point of no return and is about to fall apart in just a few more moves.  (Which makes the lack of an “undo” button all the more frustrating, even if it wouldn’t necessarily help.)

I have not yet played nearly enough of Bravely Default to offer any definitive opinion, though there are two things that are immediately apparent:  (1) it is absolutely gorgeous, both visually and aurally (and it’s definitely worth playing with good headphones), and (2) the game’s dialog is preposterously over-written, and the voice actors can only do so much with it, which is regretful.  The combat system seems pretty interesting, both conceptually and in actual practice, and I definitely appreciate how much control the game lets you have in terms of, well, pretty much everything – from the rate of random encounters to the actual speed of combat.

If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t wait for my rental copy to arrive and instead opted to download it directly from the 3DS storefront – it’s a HUGE file, and even after deleting some stuff it’s filled up most of my 3DS’s storage.  (Not only that, but having a digital download deprives me of some of the AR stuff that the hard-copy manual offers – not that that’s a deal-breaker, but it’s something I would’ve liked to check out.)

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Tomorrow night is the NYVCC awards ceremony, and I’m already starting to get a little jittery – I’m co-presenting the Best Mobile Game award, which (among other things) means it’ll be the first public speaking I’ve done in over 15 years.  I’m a little surprised at how many butterflies I’ve got already – I was an actor in college, and I’ve been a performing musician up until a few years ago, and while I’d get nervous it wouldn’t necessarily be that big a deal.  But, then again, I didn’t necessarily have the anxiety problems back then that I do now.  Still – I’m very much looking forward to the event, and being able to meet so many of the people that I’m already reading.  Here’s hoping the weather cooperates!

A Series of Transitions

This is not an apology for not writing this week, but rather an explanation of sorts:  the day job has been extremely busy and hectic and stressful, and I’ve been going to bed on the early side of things when I get home.  Not much time for writing or gaming.

Though, that said, I did manage to finish Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4) this week.  It is still a fun and worthwhile experience, and the graphics are noticeably improved from the already-impressive previous version.  The narrative is still a bit whackadoo, and I’m still weird about seeing Lara thwack a dude to death with her pickaxe (which somehow counts as a stealth kill), and I’m not entirely sure that this is worth $60.  But I’m glad to have played it, and to have let the developers know that I’m still on board for this sort of thing, thank you very much.

Also downloaded Outlast (which is this month’s free Playstation Plus game, even though I already have it on the PC).  I played right up to the first real jump scare (which is about where I got to on the PC), and turned it off.  It doesn’t look to be enhanced in any way for the PS4, but – more to the point – it looks like the PC version with all the settings turned way up, and so that bodes quite well as far as I’m concerned about the PS4 getting quality indie games.

Speaking of quality indie games, I will be writing a review of Jazzpunk for the NYVCC, which should go up later next week.  I have not yet touched it – I’ll be buying a retail copy like a regular shmoe – but everything I’ve seen indicates that it will be a wacky good time.

And speaking of the NYVCC, the 3rd Annual Critics Awards are happening next Tuesday, and I’m going to be one of the award presenters!  Which is very exciting indeed.  My category is Best Mobile Game…

…and speaking of best mobile games, I cannot recommend enough the new game Threes, which came out last night.  (This Polygon piece about the game’s development is a must-read, by the way.)  It’s made by the guys behind Puzzlejuice, and it is absurdly addictive, and I can’t stop playing it.  Also worth picking up is Spell Quest, which is a free word-search RPG (similar-ish to Bookworm Adventures).

I am also working on a slightly more ambitious piece for this here blog about games and memory, although I suppose I’ve already jinxed it by mentioning it here while I’m currently stalled out on it.  That will go up whenever it’s ready, which who knows when that will be.