All posts by cary

A New Playground for Playground Games?

Image from Flickr user lowflyer1951 (CC)
Image from Flickr user lowflyer1951 (CC)

In 2012, a new envisioning of Microsoft’s popular racing game series, Forza, appeared on the scene: Forza Horizon. Forza Horizon wasn’t simply a racing game, it was an open-world driving game that invited players to explore a vast world in a variety of cars and progress through a series of tasks and challenges. Even though I was only nominally familiar with the Forza series at the time, I tried my hand at Forza Horizon. It didn’t grab me, but I could certainly see the appeal. Being unleashed into a relatively expansive world solely as a car, so to speak, was something different, if not entirely new. (A few Need for Speed and Burnout games pre-date Forza Horizon.)

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What’s the glitchiest game you’ve ever played?

Image by Flickr user psygeist (CC)
Image by Flickr user jit (CC)

Until recently, my answer to this question would have been Saints Row 2. I played the PC port of the game on Steam, and it contained its share of problematic glitches. In fact, more than once I found the game to be completely unplayable. Worst was when the screen would randomly blackout in the middle of a mission with the sound still playing in the background. It only happened a handful of times, but even one occurrence of such a glitch is one too many.

But as glitch-ridden as Saints Row 2 was, it doesn’t hold a candle to Fallout: New Vegas.

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Ruling the Desert in Fallout: New Vegas

Image by Flickr user Midhras (CC)
Image by Flickr user Midhras (CC)

With the arrival of Fallout 4 in late 2015, I figured it was high time I get myself a piece of all that post-apocalyptic action that had been capturing everyone’s attention. And things started out well enough. I created my character, experienced the horror of nuclear annihilation (fun!), and started my new life on the other side, in wasteland called the “The Commonwealth.” Unfortunately, my relationship with the game petered off for no discernible reason. I became interested in other games, and that was that. I made a couple half-witted attempts at getting back into Fallout 4 at various points over the course of 2016, but they hardly resulted in any significant progression.

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YouTube Highlights: January 2017

It’s been 2017 for a few weeks now, and it seems that things are off to a great start in the gaming world. With news of the Nintendo Switch hitting everyone like a giant, colorful meteor ridden by Link and Mario, this year is already in the record books. Undoubtedly, we certainly plan to make it a good year and will keep going here with gaming news, writings, and videos. Yes, videos! Our YouTube channel continues to shine thanks to all of you, you wonderful watchers and commenters! And with that, it’s time for our monthly tour of the videos that lit up our channel in January!

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Launching into Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Image captured by cary
Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

Do you know where I was when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first released in 2001? I sure don’t recall. Even if I could remember, it probably wouldn’t matter much anyway because I never had the system it was on, the Gameboy Advance.  And if that wasn’t on my radar then, then Phoenix Wright and his ace attorney-ing wasn’t either. Over the next several years, the name “Phoenix Wright” would flit in and out of my ears. Once I got a Nintendo DS, I do remember someone asking me if I was going to get “that new Phoenix Wright game.” Well, my man of the hour was, if not Mario, then Professor Layton.  His puzzle-y stylings were enough for me. I didn’t need some “law and order” game gumming up the works. Truth be told, it would be a good decade before I’d informally meet Mr. Wright. And it wasn’t in the context of a graphical courtroom but in a fighting game: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Yep, here was this odd playable character named “Phoenix Wright” with the strangest fighting style imaginable. Who the heck was he? Who was that girl assisting him? And what was with all the “OBJECTION!” madness?? These were questions that bothered me only for a moment as I sought to crush my next opponents with Morrigan and Zangief. Phoenix Wright was just…there.

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The Will, the Way: Assassin’s Creed II

Image by Flickr user Dakota Thrice (CC)
Image by Flickr user Dakota Thrice (CC)

If you happened to have caught my post last month concerning rage-quitting and Assassin’s Creed, you might think that I’d never want to see hair nor hide of the series ever again.  In theory, the Assassin’s Creed games and I should have gotten along much better. They had rich stories, semi-open worlds to explore, decently fleshed-out characters, and mission-based gameplay to keep things on track. On paper, the life of an assassin should be been all that and more for me. After writing that post, was it too late, I wondered?

In fact, it wasn’t.  That post propelled me to take action, because if I was to ever get over that incident with the original Assassin’s Creed, I would have to man up and re-enter the series. Except…well, I wasn’t too keen on revisiting the life of the assassin Altair in the twelfth century.  That ship had sailed on long ago, and it was for the best that I simply move on. But to where?  Only two other Assassin’s Creed games graced our library: Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The former I had tried awhile back, but it lacked a hook. The latter just didn’t seem like a good time.

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A Gaming Resolution?

Image by Flickr user sanjitbakshi (CC)
Image by Flickr user sanjitbakshi (CC)

When midnight struck on January 1st, I swore to myself that this was going to be a year without resolutions.  While I’m not exactly a stickler when it comes to this yearly habit, I’ve almost always made, if not lists of solid resolutions, then lists of things I’d like to accomplish within the span of a new year. But this year, I decided it was high time I just wing it. No lists. No resolutions. No goals. I decided that this year I was going to be like water. To go with the flow. To adapt when necessary and to remain otherwise at peace.

And I was perfectly pleased with my decision. Only then, during a New Year’s Day gathering, I was asked the question of all questions: “So, do you have any resolutions?” Cornered with egg nog in one hand and a plate of what I figured were my final food indulgences of the year, I quickly stammered “to play more games!” and then went on about my business of getting to those indulgences. Except the plate sat full while I pondered my strange answer.

Maybe I shouldn’t say “strange” exactly, because as a resolution, “play more games” is a perfectly fine one. It’s simply that I thought I had made up my mind about resolutions. But apparently, I hadn’t. Because I could have blurted out any number of standard answers. “To get in shape!” “To be nicer!” “To get organized!” But I didn’t. I specifically said to and play and more and games all together in a sentence.

So there I sat letting my poor egg nog getting all warm as I wondered what that meant. Because “to play more games” could take a couple different shapes. It could mean that I should endeavor to play a wider variety of games, to get out from under my heavy RPG/platformer/puzzler blanket to take on some FPS and RTS fare, perhaps. It could also mean that I want to aim to play games more often, more regularly, maybe. It could also mean that I wish to add more games to my library, to expand my collection, perchance. It could also mean that I desire simply to play more of the games that I already own, cutting back the backlog, possibly. And it could also mean all of those things combined. Really, it’s quite a complicated resolution.

The thing of it is that I don’t actually know what the resolution “to play more games” would look like for me in reality. Sure, I wouldn’t mind expanding my gaming horizons and playing more often than I’m currently able. Of course I’d like to both cut down on my backlog and add to my library.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that with this line of thinking, I was turning gaming into…well, a chore. Something I needed to do because I felt that it needed to be done. And that’s not what gaming is, or, it’s not what I want it to be in my life. In recent years, at times, it’s become dangerously close to that, and that’s of my own doing. For most of my life, I had integrated gaming into the nooks and crannies of my free time pretty well . It was a hobby, a respite, a place to belong. Gaming is still all those things now, but I’d be a fool to dismiss that it’s also on the verge of becoming a duty, i.e. I write about games, therefore I MUST play them! And that’s not how it should be. I play games because I love them, not because they are part of a routine.

Okay fine, as I thought to myself, staring at my now warmed-over drink and plate of goodies, if I was going to take on a resolution involving gaming, I decided that it was simply going to be “to play games,” not play more games, because that implied that I wasn’t already doing it enough.  Maybe I’m not, but that’s a result of having a life that’s (ful)filled with other ventures, other hobbies and activities, other chores and duties. So this year, with gaming, I will be like water. I will go with the flow. I will adapt when necessary and remain otherwise at peace.


If you took on any gaming resolutions this year, share them in the comments!