Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: Video Games (page 1 of 8)

Gloriole Jump

With Destiny nearing its end and Destiny 2 ramping up for release, I feel like it’s finally time to share this microstory I wrote about my favorite ship in D1.

WARNING: VULGARITY AHEAD (not profanity, I mean actual vulgar language; you’ve been warned)


“Dude, I found two holes in the wall of your cockpit. What’s that all about?”

‘Oh, that. One of those is my glory hole. The other is my gloriole.’

“What the fucking what?”

‘Yeah. You put your dick in one and the ship’s AI gives you a blowie. It’s awesome.’

“And the other?”

‘Exposes it to pure Traveler’s Light.’

“Which is better?”

‘The glory hole. But if you put your dick in the gloriole, it glows in the dark for a week. And if you fuck a Vex with it, they explode.’

There are, like, a crapton of iOS sales right now

Like, so many that I don’t even have the strength to write a paragraph about each of them. I’m just going to link to them here. You should find the ones you’re interested in and check them out. Or just buy them all. That works, too. Whatever. They’re all on sale, possibly through Christmas, but you should probably buy today, just to be safe.

Infinity Blade – $0.99

Infinity Blade II – $0.99

Infinity Blade III – $0.99

Waking Mars – $0.99

Transistor – $2.99

Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition – $2.99

Prune – $2.99

Attack the Light – Steven Universe Light RPGFREE!

Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure – $0.99

868-HACK – $2.99

Banner Saga – $4.99

Tales From Deep Space – $1.99

Til Morning’s Light – $1.99

Lost Within – $1.99

The Martian: Official Game – $0.99

Hitman Bundle (Hitman GO & Hitman: Sniper) – $0.99

 

Also, pretty much every Tin Man Games gamebook is on sale, so if you’re a fan of Gamebook Adventures or Fighting Fantasy, you will probably find something to love here.

Hey! Listen! Wake up, Lonk!

Lonk's Awakening Icon

There is currently a Flappy Bird-esque game on the App Store called The Legend of Zeldo: Lonk’s Awakening DX. No, that is not a typo. This is an actual game someone developed, because of reasons. It’s not terrible, as far as Flappy Bird clones go. It has a unique inventory system where you can collect items as you go which affect the game play (Pelican Boots let you dash ahead a short distance, Irony Boots increase the speed with which your character flies), which almost alleviates the frustration of the core gameplay conceit. Almost.

Lonk's Awakening Gameplay

It’s free, though. And it will likely only exist for a short period of time before the developer receives a cease & desist (even though it is clearly parody and protected, the dev likely isn’t willing to pay a lawyer to prove that), so if you think it might even be slightly interesting, you should pick it up now before it’s gone forever.

Room 12 Studios: Official game developer of games and other game-type things

It’s been nearly a year since the first prototype of Ecliptic showed up on my phone and now, after a lot of work, a fair amount of luck, and an egregious amount of procrastinating, it’s live on the App Store.

The bulk of the development was handled by my cousin, Alex (who wrote up a nice little blog post about the app, as well). But, as with all Room 12 Studios projects, the whole project is a group effort. Between beta testing, hiring a real composer, and pushing each other to get stuff done (all while working full-time jobs and/or raising children), it was a pretty interesting experience.

But enough about the boring stuff, let’s talk about the game.

It’s not fancy. It’s not groundbreaking. It’s not even award-winning (except for the award for Best Game Currently Released by Room 12 Studios). But it is fun. It’s great for kids. And the music is pretty awesome. Plus, it’s free (as in beer). And if you like the app and want to support what we’re doing, you can buy the Theme Pack as an in-app purchase for the low, low price of <insert the cheapest paid value available on the App Store in whatever country your account is located>. The entire game is entirely playable without paying a dime, however. And there are no ads (unless you count links to our other apps, in which case, I’m a liar).

Speaking (sub-consciously typing) about our other apps, be sure and check out iPredict, as well, if you haven’t already. It’s a quirky little fortune teller with an attitude. It received an update today, as well, which added some beautiful new animation and support for 4-inch iPhones and retina iPads. Be sure to check it out.

(also comes in a Lite version, with 100% fewer calories)

So go, download Ecliptic, and tell us how awesome it is. Or don’t. But share it with your friends, anyway. Especially if any of them decide to take pity on us and keep us as pets. We’re really tired of working for a living.

Dust off that French Maid outfit, it’s time to play Tanto Cuore!

I’m not sure why—maybe it’s because it’s Friday the 13th; maybe the full moon has got the world’s blood up—but whatever the reason, several iOS app developers have decided to throw an impromptu sale on the App Store. This is good news for the rest of us, though, as some really great games are on sale for just a dollar each.

As you may have guessed from the title, one of the apps is none other than Felicia Day’s favorite card game, Tanto Cuore. In this game, you play as the master of a mansion and you collect maids. Or something. I really don’t know, because it seemed confusing and I was only half paying attention to the episode of Tabletop in which they played the game. But it looked like a pretty good deck-builder, so if you’re into that sort of thing and like anime French maids, then this game should be in your wheelhouse.

Continuing with the tabletop gaming theme, the Euro-style board game Agricola is also on sale. If you’re a fan of the game, this is an excellent adaptation into a digital form. If you’ve never played it before, the game has an excellent tutorial system to get you started while playing your first game. The entire goal of the game is to build your farm from a 2-room hut to the most profitable farm in Europe, saving countless starving villagers.

And at this point in my post, I’m realizing that most of the great games on sale today are all Playdek titles. The one I’m most excited to start playing is D&D Lords of Waterdeep. This game was also featured on an episode of Tabletop, and it’s an interesting take on the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Instead of controlling a group of heroes as they quest for gold & glory, you join a shadowy group of powerful men & women secretly controlling everything that goes on in the city of Waterdeep. It’s sort of like Monopoly but with more backstabbing and less parking.

And finally, the only non-Playdek title on my list is a Disney title. Now, I heard you groaning back there, but hear me out. It’s for Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace. No, wait! Come back! Seriously, I know that the movie is not for humans everyone, but this is a far better way to experience the story than watching the movie. Most notably because George Lucas wasn’t involved. Plus, it has a podracing game! Anyway, check it out. It’s only a dollar. What do you have to lose? I mean, aside from your self-respect.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s continue on the sci-fi trend we’ve got going here. If you’re a fan of Star Trek and you enjoy strategy games, you’re going to love Star Command. Set out on a mission to save the galaxy and try your best not to lose any of your crew. But good luck, because space is dangerous and humans are fragile. Assign your crew to Command, Science, or Engineering teams and give them jobs. Firing your weapons is a minigame in and of itself, but watch out for invaders on your ship. And hope you don’t get a hull breach, or else anyone nearby will be lost forever.

Bringing it back full circle to the fantasy and tabletop gaming of the start of this post, Warhammer Quest is also on sale. To date, Warhammer Quest is still my favorite tabletop dungeon crawler and it seems unlikely that any game will ever supplant it. While the iOS game is not as great as the actual board game, it’s still pretty fun and provides a heck of a lot of value for just 99¢. Plus, there are several expansions that add all new heroes and environments to explore. Happy treasure hunting!

That’s the last of the $0.99 sale titles that I felt were worth sharing, but there is one more title you should check out, because it’s free. Ridge Racer Slipstream may be just another Ridge Racer title and is not even close to the best racing experience on the iPhone and iPad, but it’s still a fun arcade racer and you can’t beat the price. So pick it up while it’s free, at the very least.

So go buy games and have some fun this weekend. Besides, what else were you going to do with that six bucks?

No, you’re wrong; Nintendo should NOT exit the hardware business

With Nintendo reporting a loss of $456 million dollars last year, armchair-CEOs have once again begun clamoring for Nintendo to “get out of the hardware business” and start making games for iOS, Android, and PCs. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:

This is the wrong solution.

Nintendo is not Sega, the last great console-maker to exit the business and focus solely on software (something which has led to rather pronounced decline in the quality of games from their studios, though correlation or causation depends on the data, which remains scant). But, they do need to either create hardware capable of playing the games that “core” gamers want (such as Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, etc.) with all the bells and whistles and fancy lighting and super-pixels or whatever, or else aim for mass-market appeal with devices that cost less monies, increasing the likelihood of families being interested in purchasing them for the home.

The Wii was a smash hit because it was cheaper than the competition and it provided a gameplay experience that was easy-to-learn and encouraged community (not in the online way that Xbox Live does, but in the actual face-to-face way). The Wii U is a step backward from that, thanks to its higher price tag and poorer selection of games. The Wii may not have had all the shooters and hardcore action games that the last-gen systems had, but it got pretty much everything else and massive numbers of other great games that embraced the physical nature of its control system (Boom Blox is a prime example of this).

Nintendo makes amazing games, it’s true, but what allows them to do so is the fact that they control the entire experience, just like Apple does with OS X and the Mac or iOS and the iPhone/iPad. But people don’t buy game systems the same way they buy computers and smartphones, and most casual gamers aren’t compelled to upgrade to the new system when the old one still works fine for everything they used it for (Wii Sports, Netflix, Virtual Console).

But putting their greatest assets (in this case: Mario, Link, Samus, and Kirby) onto other people’s platforms will reduce them to a shell of what they are now. You won’t see amazing games like Super Mario Galaxy on those systems, because Nintendo won’t have the advantage of developing the hardware and software in tandem to create new and unique gaming experiences.

What we want Nintendo to do and what Nintendo needs to do are not the same thing. I’d love to play Zelda on my iPhone, but not at the cost of the most influential gaming house the world has ever known. Instead, I want Nintendo to focus on creating affordable systems and valuable software. Let us buy Virtual Console games on the Wii U and play them on the 3DS (and vice-versa). Provide us the opportunity to purchase games once for all the systems we own (instead of requiring us to buy three copies of one game so that we can play it with our kids). Bring us new, big Mario and Zelda games every few years, but also give us more games like NES Remix that provide incredible gameplay at prices that scream “Value!”

If Nintendo can stop trying to retake the number one spot and instead focus on providing the best games at a price people are willing to pay, they’ll do well for themselves. But to throw all their control away to make a quick buck on iOS and Android is a fool’s errand.

In your future (“you” being the iOS/Android cage-rattlers), customers will clamor over every release of a classic title they loved to play until Nintendo runs out of classic titles. And they will run out of classic titles eventually, because they won’t be making another new title worthy of becoming a classic.

On Facebook and the Oculus Rift

So, if you haven’t heard yet, Facebook announced today the purchase agreement of Oculus VR, Inc., the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Many people are worried about what this means for the device, others are concerned (as always) with privacy issues, and still others are just puzzled as to why Facebook would want it in the first place.

I’m not terribly worried about Thing 1 and Thing 2, but that’s just me. I’m sure the Oculus Rift will still come out and be much the same device as we expect it to be now. As for privacy concerns, the Oculus Rift is designed heavily around gaming and a lot less around “3D Facebook”, so the data it can gather from users will be quite different (though some of it could be a pretty big deal) than what Facebook is typically after. Surely there will be data worth mining, especially if Facebook decides to try and take on Google in any aspects of its business again in the future. But, for the most part, tracking which games you play doesn’t provide nearly as much critical data as what websites you visit, what you buy, and who your friends are (and what websites they visit, etc.)

As for why Facebook would want the Oculus Rift, I find that a much simpler conundrum. I can think of three key reasons for Facebook’s desire to own the VR company.

  1. If Facebook owns Oculus Rift, Google doesn’t. It’s a no-brainer that Google would be interested in Oculus Rift. Their Glass project focuses on augmented reality rather than virtual reality, but there is still a great deal of overlap. Plus, since Oculus Rift is self-contained hardware designed for playing games and watching media in 3D, it appeals to a different subset of tech culture. A Glass-powered Oculus Rift would give Google all the same data that Facebook likely wants, but it could also be paired with an Android smartphone to give Google more access and ecosystem control. Facebook has more money than it needs and buying up a company simply to prevent Google makes business sense. Especially if Facebook already has an idea on what to do with Oculus Rift.
  2. Facebook is looking to a future without Facebook.com. No, Facebook’s social network isn’t going away, but it almost certainly could one day. MySpace was unstoppable until it wasn’t. Facebook could simply be trying to make sure that if and when that day comes, they’ve got additional revenue streams to keep things going. Wearable tech is shaping up to be a big part of the future and Facebook is trying to get in on the ground floor, rather than waiting until it’s too late to carve out a niche (like they did with the Facebook phone). By selling hardware that could be the definitive way to play games and watch movies in the future, Facebook is positioning itself to move away from social networking and to become an ecosystem of its own. Which brings me to…
  3. Facebook is starting its own gaming platform and network. Right now, if you ask a console gamer if they’re on Xbox Live or PSN, you can’t be certain of the answer you receive. But, if you ask a PC gamer if they’re on Steam, you almost always get a “Yes.” There are other alternatives to Steam out there, but none with the clout and popularity of Valve’s little digital store that could. Considering that Steam is making a play for the living room, Facebook could have seen the Oculus Rift as a way to get a foothold there, as well. Sure, they could just try to work side-by-side with Steam and other PC developers to make sure their hardware is the definitive virtual reality headset, but Facebook could also be planning to simply build their own Steam alternative. And why not? They already command the largest curated list of friends online. Their social platform has been used to effectively leverage mob tactics to generate a large amount of revenue for a number of web-based games. Imagine turning that power loose on Borderlands 3 or Grand Theft Auto Eleventy-Five. Steam has already integrated Facebook to make it easier for players to find their friends. But that requires players to link their Steam and Facebook accounts. Facebook could find all your friends instantly and tell them what games you’re playing lately.

Of course, there are major positives and negatives to Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift. What looked like promising tech that could change the face of PC gaming might now become just another tool to harvest personal information. Major players may decide not to support it for fear of alienating gamers that don’t trust Facebook with their personal data. Sony now has a major opportunity, though. Project Morpheus will likely be a PS4 exclusive at release, but it will almost certainly find its way to PCs via third-party drivers. Sony could even release official drivers if they felt they could make enough money on the hardware to justify not controlling the profits from games (or to prevent Microsoft or someone else from doing the same).

I will be keeping an eye on Oculus Rift and the VR market, in general. Things in this space are just heating up.

Return to Hyrule: An ardent journey to a familiarly unfamiliar place

Over the winter solstice holiday, I received a Nintendo 3DS XL bundled with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (thanks to my incredible wife), the latest offering in the Zelda franchise. While I have wanted a 3DS for some time, A Link Between Worlds became available at the perfect intersection of available funds and ultra-desirable game release. I have been a fan of the Zelda series ever since I first laid eyes on the initial game as a child, so I was very excited to play this game. However, I’ve been a little put off by the last two handheld entries into the franchise, simply because I was not as big a fan of the touch controls as I was of the classic controls of the past.

Thankfully, right out of the gate, Nintendo nailed the controls with A Link Between Worlds by basically reusing the same controls of A Link to the Past (which would make sense, since the game is actually a sequel to the Super Nintendo smash hit). But, it wasn’t just the spot-on controls and perfect execution of the 3-D in dungeons that made A Link Between Worlds so fantastic. There are two huge improvements to this game that make it stand out against so many other Zelda entries.

First of all, Nintendo was kind enough to avoid punishing players with sliding block puzzles as they so often have in previous Zelda games. Not once did I enter into a room that forced me to figure out how to slide a series of blocks just to get from one side of the room to the other. That doesn’t mean that I never had to push a block around to solve a puzzle, but I never had to wrack my brain trying to figure out which block to push in which order to prevent it being trapped against a wall or forcing me to exit the room just to reset and try again. I’ve done enough puzzles of that nature to last a lifetime, so I was quite thankful to be able to skip out on that, this time around.

Even more relieving, though, was the complete lack of a Shovel in this particular adventure. Don’t get me wrong, there is something very satisfying about digging up cool treasure in previous Zelda titles, but by eliminating the shovel entirely, I am never tempted to run around digging up every square foot of land in someone’s garden in the hopes of finding something cool. I can instead focus on throwing bombs at walls and dashing headlong into trees to find something cool. Which is something that really only works in video games. I mean, I can take my shovel into the neighbor’s yard and dig it up like crazy any time I want, but throwing a bomb at the cliff wall just outside of town is a surefire way to end up in a dungeon surrounded by angry moblins.

But, even had Nintendo subjected me to such OCD-feeding items as the Shovel and nerve-wracking torture-tests as pushing blocks until I wanted to scream, I still would have ranked this game among the best games I’ve ever played. I can say with absolute certainty that this the best gameplay ever offered by a “classic” Zelda title—in this case, “classic” refers to the top-down camera angle from the earliest Zelda titles (except for Zelda II, which was its own beast, and was awesome for a whole different slew of reasons). Is it the best story? No. That honor is still reserved for Link’s Awakening, which also has the best music, as well. But it’s certainly the most fun.

And on the subject of the story, A Link Between Worlds is no slouch. Using similar techniques to A Link to the Past (psychic messages from a sage and a princess that need your help), Link journeys between light and dark worlds on an epic quest to save the Hyrule from doom. And in a rather clever twist, the dark world on his latest journey is not the same Dark World from A Link to the Past, though it bears a very similar feel. This helps prevent the game from feeling as though it’s just a retread of a familiar game and lets gamers really explore the dichotomous environment to their heart’s content.

One place where A Link Between Worlds feels a little less than perfect is the challenge. Traditionally, Zelda titles have at least a couple boss fights or dungeons that have me pulling out my hair in frustration due to dying repeatedly. While there were definitely some challenging moments, I almost never died. This is actually great for getting younger and less-experienced gamers into the game, but for those of us that have played every Zelda game Nintendo published, it can be a little too easy. There is a Hero mode available after completing the game, but I think it might have been worth having an option to choose a difficulty somewhere between Hero and Normal when first setting out on your quest.

Of course, it may just be that the challenge I’m looking for no longer exists because I am an old hat with filling the shoes of the Legendary Hero and because the game has advanced to a point that some of the challenge I recall has been eliminated due to refinements in the controls and gameplay over the years.

All in all, if you haven’t yet played the game, I urge you to run out and pick it up (or just download it here). If you don’t have a 3DS, Nintendo is actually selling them at a pretty affordable price on their Online Store, if you don’t mind a refurbished system.

I am continually amazed at how much more willing I am to grab my 3DS and take it with me than I have been in the last few years. My iPhone and iPad had nearly eliminated my desire to take a Nintendo handheld with me, but A Link Between Worlds, the Bravely Default demo, and my collection of unfinished DS games have done an excellent job of reminding me of how consistently great Nintendo handhelds are.

Infinity Blade III: Infinity Harder!

Infinity Blade III

Soon, Chair Entertainment will release Infinity Blade III upon the world and it will never be the same. The (presumably) final chapter in the Infinity Blade story, Infinity Blade III builds upon its predecessors to become one of the most robust and most anticipated games ever developed for iPhone and iPad. The Infinity Blade story is one of a lone warrior facing off against a number of foul beasts in a quest to slay the God King, murderer of the young man’s father. Only all is not as it seems and soon the player is thrust into a world of immortal beings, ancient civilizations lost to the ravages of time, and truths and secrets long forgotten.

In its initial release, Infinity Blade’s story was very minimal. Players faced off against the God King, died, and their descendant took up his father’s arms to face the God King once more. Eventually, when the player became powerful enough to defeat the God King, the loop began again, leading many players to assume that you simply became the God King and your own son came to destroy you, now corrupted by the power of the Infinity Blade. But the truth of the matter goes much deeper. As Chair released updates to the game adding cells beneath the tower containing imprisoned immortals that reveal much more about your character and the world he inhabits.

Eventually, Infinity Blade II (as well as Infinity Blade: Awakening, a short novella that summarized the first game and bridges the gap between it and the second) gave us many of the answers we had hoped to find in the first title. Your character’s name is Siris and his quest to defeat the God King once and for all has led him to seek out the Worker of Secrets, the creator of the Infinity Blade and an immortal every bit as dangerous as the God King. But will the truths that Siris discovers about himself be too much for him to handle? Will he succumb to the corrupting influence of the world he inhabits? Of course not. At least, not in this game.

We’ve already got a nice taste of whats to come with Infinity Blade: Redemption, another novella bridging the second and third games and revealing a great deal of history in the world these characters inhabit. But it’s a mere morsel compared to what Chair has in store for us tomorrow. Infinity Blade III will soon arrive, giving players the opportunity to conclude the story. At the end of Infinity Blade II, Siris had managed to get himself into a rather dire situation. Can his companion, Isa, rescue him? And once she does, can the two of them manage to bring down the immortals that have plagued this world for so long, or will they become the very things they wish to destroy? Will Chair give us the answers we seek immediately upon release of the game, or will we have to wait for the inevitable content updates to finally reveal all the critical pieces of the puzzle?

I can’t wait to find out. If you’re interested, start with the original title, or just download everything and power through. You won’t be disappointed.

Worms 3 for iPad on sale!

I love Worms. No, not lumbricus terrestris, but the digital kind that blow each other up for your entertainment. I’m talking about Team17’s series of artillery-based combat using smart-mouthed worms as stand-ins for your friends and enemies. The latest entry for iPad has been very well-received and is currently on sale for $0.99. If you like the series, or are just looking for a great game to play with friends locally or even online against friends and strangers, this game is for you.

I mean, it’s got a Holy Hand Grenade as a weapon. What more do you need? Go download Worms 3 today.

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