Monthly Archives: April 2012
You know, if you read my blog from the beginning, that I am an avid flash gamer. If there is a hot new flash game, I pick it up and play it till it’s dead. I’m like those real game reviewers (like TheEscapist or EgoRaptor) only I get to do it for free! Hooray, online games! Also, I spend waaaay less time doing it, as a flash game takes a couple of hours MAX to beat, while even the most awful Xbox360 games (cough cough, Mirror’s Edge) take quite some time. Recently, however, there’s been a lull in the number of REALLY good flash games that come out. Sure, there have been some shiny shoot-em-ups and some quaint puzzle games, but nothing that really blew my mind with its awesomeness.
Cue the epic fanfare: 2DArray recently released a game called “Fixation,” a prequel to its smash hit, “The Company of Myself.” Generally speaking, flash games don’t delve much into the realm of psychology, seriousness and deep emotional meaning. I mean, dude, they’re just hanging out on your computer screen, soaking up time while you put off doing your research paper. (By the way, I’m putting off doing my research paper right now. Go procrastination!) But the thing is, “Fixation” is as serious as it gets. It’s a little strange – Actually it’s a LOT strange, but it is incredibly well-written, well-put-together, interesting and engaging, and is overall just a brilliant game. Play it here (I’m serious, play this darn thing).
We all know the stereotype. Gamers are the people who sit on their couches wearing pajamas and a wife-beater covered in Cheeto-colored fingerprints, chugging Mountain Dew and trying to get all the achievements in whatever game currently happens to be keeping them from getting a job. They live with their mothers, are grossly overweight, smell bad, have no prospects in life.
Okay, now that THAT’S out of our system, gamers are actually nothing like that. But it IS a stereotype, and there’s something to it. Gaming, for a very long time, was a completely stationary activity. True, it began in the arcades, where you actually had to stand up (and in the case of TRON, ride in an insanely cool digital motorcycle thing…), but with the release of the NES, you had a handy-dandy little controller that allowed you to plop your rear end down on your grandma’s saran-wrapped sofa and play to your heart’s content. But today’s a different world. Most arcade games have quite a bit of movement integrated into them, like pressing pedals, pointing guns, steering cars, punching the screen when you lose… but even the consoles we have at home are getting our butts in action. Where did it begin? Whose fault is it that I can’t just laze about while gaming?
Zombies are everywhere! No, I don’t mean that the apocalypse that we all dread (or secretly look forward to) has arrived. I mean that no matter where you look in video games, there are zombies. Of course, zombie games have their own delightfully gory and gratuitously violent genre, for which I’m very thankful. From the classic games like “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” to the campy arcade “House of the Dead,” to the incredibly creepy “Resident Evil” games, there have been quite a few gems in the zombie game universe. But you can also find zombies in the strangest places, from Minecraft to Ninja Gaiden to Zelda to even Mass Effect! There is something alluring about the undead that game creators latch on to, and in any game where you have a means of killing the enemy (aka NOT games like Cooking Mama or Animal Crossing), you will find that a stereotypical zombie-like thing will be cleverly (or not-so-cleverly) inserted, for the simple, gleeful pleasure of massacring them. Hooray for zombies! Read the rest of this entry
Diablo 2 was a pretty frickin’ awesome game. I’m just gonna put that one out there before I go any further. Diablo 2 climbed the Mount Olympus of PC gaming, beat the crap out of Zeus, and pronounced Blizzard ruler of all awesomeness forever and ever, amen. And that certainly hasn’t changed. Diablo 2 rocked the world with its algorithmically generated dungeons, amazing abilities, cool music, rich storyline and voice acting, fluid combat system, gratuitous violence, and visually stunning environments (for that day and age). I mean, jeez, how many more qualities of gaming are there? Oh noes, it doesn’t have Wii-motion technology. Suck it up, Nintendo-philes! D2 was the pinnacle of gaming for its time, and I bought it at a very developmental time in my life (around 5th grade or so). So, this game holds a very special place in my heart. My time hearing the words “Stay awhile and listen!” over and over and over were well spent.
But okay, guys: I got a beta invite to Diablo 3. When I found out they were making a 3rd Diablo game, I leapt for joy. Pretty much. Maybe not actual leaping, but there was some definite freaking out. I began following the lore religiously, watching as each new development came out, got a desktop background, scrolled through pages of fanart, and adopted a chihuahua and named him “Baal, Lord of Destruction.” That’s how excited I was. Now, of course, school started and I was dragged kicking and screaming back to reality, so I completely stopped following any of the hype, because Blizzard hadn’t put out a release date. And then Blizzard put out a release date, and I got a beta invite. And now, without knowing anything knowing anything about the actual gameplay, I delved into the awesomeness that is Diablo 3.
Games do a lot of things very well. They tell a story, they engage the player, they provide entertainment, and they express the ideas and imaginary fantasies of the game creators. And man, some of those creators are pretty frickin’ twisted. The people who made the game BioShock must have had some pretty creepy childhood memories. And when that comes out in their games, it is really, really scary. The reason that games like BioShock have a level of awesome added on top of the generous amounts of awesome they already possess? They scare the crap out of people. It takes a carefully crafted world and mechanics to set up a truly frightening environment for players to travel through, but there have been several games that have done it masterfully. And, all jesting aside, these incredible game developers have created nightmares, out of nothing more than pixels and their digital imagination. How do they do it? I’m glad you asked! Read the rest of this entry
So I’ve been busy.
Being a full-time college student with a million extracurriculars is taxing, even for someone as overly energetic and neurotic as I am! Finals are rapidly approaching, and that puts my required workload at about 27 hours per day. Wait, I forgot to factor in sleeping time. Eh, who needs it?
For that delightful reason, this blog won’t be as long as some of my other marathon borderline research paper-length entries. I figured you readers needed a break as much as I do! I like to put out good material for you to laugh at, enjoy, and think about (okay, maybe not so much that last one), and I just haven’t had time to put the required amount of thought.
But here’s the thing: I’m still playing video games (a little). When the rare moment of free time rolls around, I generally don’t jump for the nearest Stephanie Meyer novel. I hop on Kongregate and play some flash games. And, while there has been a relative lull in the mindblowingly awesome games being put out in recent weeks, there are some as-yet-unmentioned gems of gaming that are… well, as yet unmentioned. I figured, what is there better to talk about than games that are simply TOO addictive? Oh boy! In no particular order:
The Company Of Myself, by 2DArray, is an interesting take on the puzzle-platformer genre. I don’t even know if that’s a genre. But it’s great, and I know personally the guy that did the music. Awesome.
This is an awesome game by light_bringer777, which details the tireless efforts of an uber-cute penguin to learn to fly. It’s funny, entertaining, and cute. And I just love games where you get to launch random animals. See also: Burrito Bison, Kitty Cannon, Toss the Turtle, and ‘Dillo Hills.
Kingdom Rush is one of the best tower defense games I’ve ever played. There’s nothing INCREDIBLY innovative about it from a TD (tower defense) veteran’s perspective, but it’s just never been done this well before. Don’t get sucked in. It’s addictive.
Robot Wants Kitty, by Hamuhamu, is the first in a large series of games in the “Metroidvania” genre, which is to say that there is only one level, and it’s very large. And… yes, there’s a kitty at the end of it. If you enjoyed this, try Robot Wants Puppy, Robot Wants Fishy, and Robot Wants Ice Cream.
Frantic Frigates, by BerzerkStudios, is just a simple, plot-less shooting game that really doesn’t involve you doing anything but moving the mouse. And that’s why you won’t be able to stop playing this. BerzerkStudios has some of the most consistently high-quality games ever. Check them out.
Last but certainly not least is Epic Battle Fantasy 3, by kupo707. It’s by far the best yet in the series. In case the title (or the gamedev’s name) didn’t tip you off, it’s a Final Fantasy knockoff, completely tongue-in-cheek. The first game was like Final Fantasy where you start at level 100 and everything is epic, the 2nd game was slightly more in-depth (you know, with a bit of a plot), but the 3rd game is full of laughs and is a pretty amazing product for something that began as a joke. Hooray! Don’t ask about the boobs.
So there you go! Lots of links, no deep philosophical, soul-searching message? It doesn’t get better than this. Enjoy!
P.S. I’m thinking of doing a post about zombies. Thoughts?
When games get tough, the tough get gaming…? I’m not so sure. There are some games that pride themselves on having a ridiculous level of difficulty. As a matter of fact, for those games, generally speaking, the difficulty is the only thing that really draws people to them. The competitive person in us says, “I will beat you, no matter how many times I have to die before I do it.” And then the game usually says, after hours of frustration, “Are you suuuuure?” They exist for the same reason that Mount Everest exists. Not because India’s tectonic plate is smashing up against another one to create the Himalayas (which by the way are getting taller). Everest is there rising above everything else, silently shouting, “You want an EASIER challenge? Then go climb the garbage heap that is your will to succeed, sucker!” Only, it probably says it more regally, with old English, or something. Anyway. These games are maddeningly difficult, and the cred you get for beating them is worth more than gameplay, graphics, plot, or pretty much anything else that makes a game good. Now that’s good marketing right there. The near-perfect example of this is Ninja Gaiden.
Just look at that title. If it doesn’t interest you at all… well, I guess that means you’re not me. Still! I can’t believe you won’t ask yourself at least once upon seeing it, “What in the name of all that is holy does WAGNER, German Romantic opera titan, have to do with VIDEO GAMES, the most awesome invention since sliced bread?” Turns out, a whole lot. When I started blogging (and reading blogs), I began to really toss this subject around, because it’s REALLY interesting, and the more I learned about both subjects made me keep saying, “Oh, yeah, I never noticed that before…” Which, in the grand scheme of things, is rather strange. I have a feeling that good old Richie Wagner wasn’t really thinking about the soundtrack for the next Madden NFL game when he was writing Tristan und Isolde, and most video game developers probably couldn’t care less about German opera, or opera in general, really. But here’s the thing: Wagner’s view of opera is incredibly similar to how game developers view their games.
Everyone thinks about the future occasionally, even me. Actually, especially me! It’s ruined so many first dates, talking about settling down, getting married, and having kids. Those conversations don’t usually go well when you’re in high school. But no, no, that’s not what I mean about the future! I mean, the future of HUMANITY! Our planet! Our way of life, our advancement into the vast expanse of space. What’s it going to be like? Well, there are many games that hazard a guess at how that future will be! Science fiction-style games make up one of the most popular genres, from Portal to Resident Evil to Halo to Mass Effect to Dead Space to Fallout to… well, you get the picture!
Now, we could say that this genre is so popular because in the future, you get to have super-cool, futuristic, ridiculously-explosive (or, you know, portal-creating, time-space-altering) weapons and items that make the game seem more fun or something. It’s possible that Halo started out as a guy thinking out loud to a group of friends: “What if we had, like, a super-cool gun, that, I dunno, shot pink little spiny needles out of it? They have to be pink, or maybe purple, or else it’s not cool! That’d be awesome. And then, like, a sword made of light? But not like in Star Wars, or anything.” And then came the Covenant, the Flood, Master Chief, the entire plotline for the numerous games, and absurd amounts of Halo memorabilia (including life-size cardboard cutouts of our favorite Spartan. Yay!!) I digress. Perhaps, if we really think about it, the reason people make these games is because the future is an interesting place, full of conjecture, and what your imagination brings to life today could become reality tomorrow. But, you know, there’s something wrong with these games, that they all have in common: our future sucks.