I played a lot of games this year– a fair number of new ones, and a fair number of games from the backlog. Briefly, here are some thoughts on the most important games I played this year that weren’t actually released this year:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Yes, I held out against my friends’ constant barrage of recommendations for nearly a year, but I did finally get around to starting XCOM, and yes, it is amazing and compelling and heartbreaking. I hope to be through the game within the month, and then again on Classic Ironman, and then I will probably buy Enemy Within when it goes on sale on Steam and oh dear do we see now why I held out for so long?
Spec Ops: The Line
After reading Brendan Keogh’s Killing is Harmless, I knew I had to play Spec Ops. And boy, was that a good decision. What a dark, unsettling, and yet deeply enjoyable game. It doesn’t quite succeed at being the “Apocalypse Now of videogames,” but it certainly asks some great questions about a player’s participation in violence. I don’t even know if it purports to have answers–but oof, those endings. Yikes.
Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracles
It’s a shame that the Professor Layton games will never get traction with those who don’t dig their primary mechanic, because it’s a continual delight to me how much they invest in their characters (and their melodrama). Each new entry manages to offer some real, personal stakes to the Professor and his apprentices, and to help them grapple with each new puzzle is a charm unlike most everything else gaming has to offer.
The Walking Dead, Season One
Oh man. Oh man. *sigh* Wow. How about that finale, huh?
The World Ends With You
Why in Heaven’s name isn’t Square Enix giving us more new IP? Bravely Default excepted. (On that note, I’m very excited for Bravely Default.)
There have been others, I think, but those five are the ones that really left their mark on me this year. I missed enough of the best games of 2013 that I imagine my backlog will be quite full for the year to come!
Hey, folks. I heard about Maddy Myers‘s game jam, “Towerjam,” an effort to get some games made about characters that are usually not the focus–NPCs, captive princesses, parents and children left behind, and the like.
I’m no designer, but I HAVE been meaning to mess around with Twine for a good long while, and this was the catalyst for me finally getting off my butt and making it happen.
So, I wrote a (brief, abstract, somewhat circular) Twine adventure. It’s about Chrono Cross.
Why not give it a go? While you’re at it, check out the rest of the Towerjam submissions. And maybe go replay Chrono Cross!
So, Kotaku today pointed me to the first of Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games” videos, and a quick viewing proves it to be pretty well put together stuff!
I applaud Ms. Sarkeesian’s critical (and yet blindingly obvious) reading of some of the medium’s most abundant series, and the discomfort I feel at once more being confronted with the pervasiveness of these tropes in the amusements of my youth is exceeded only by my frustration when I think about how much cooler these series would be if their narratives didn’t rely on such simple formulae. Is it that hard to give a princess a shot at heroism (or at least, you know, agency)?
And now, of course, I’m about to hop back to Yamatai to help Ms. Croft fill some cultists full of arrows. I’m not going to think too hard about how much progress that is, and in what direction.
I’m trying to get into the Halloween spirit, here, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors seems like as good a place as any to start.
Wow, is this game ever all over the place, musically speaking. Some of it can get quite annoying, but it all really nails the “haunted house” vibe, if by “haunted house” we’re talking about the kind of attraction that is terrifying to children and disturbing on an entirely different level to their adult relatives. It’s chirpy, cutesy, and grotesque in a way that isn’t violent or bloody, but rather, just… weird.
Take a look at this advertisement from when the game was released in 1993:
Can you even tell what’s going on there? It’s a little hard.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is one of those nineties games with ‘tude. On a scale of ‘tude, in fact, it’s probably somewhere below Battletoads and ToeJam and Earl, but definitely higher than, say, Tomba! Tomba wasn’t exactly known for his ‘tude, I guess.
I’m getting off topic. The point is that Zombies Ate My Neighbors is radical to the max, and if it’s a little rough around the edges, we forgive it, because we didn’t have Left 4 Dead when it was released, and it was just about the only place to go to for zombie-slayin’ co-op for about fifteen years. It still holds up pretty well, as a matter of fact, and if you’ve got a means of playing it with a pal, I’d highly recommend it. It advertises 55 levels, but I never saw anywhere close to that. I kept getting killed by that giant baby.
If the original track by Joe McDermott up above, “Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem,” isn’t spooky enough for you, have a listen to the jam below: Protricity’s “Neighburgers” remix takes the original and puts a little polish on it, making it a suitable soundtrack for any Halloween party to which you’d like to bring some funk. Just keep some exploding sodas and holy water squirt guns on hand… just in case.