Thursday, January 12, 2017

Best of 2016 Part 2 - Games



The Year in Review continues! This time I'm looking at the games I played in 2016. I'm skipping straight ports of games I'd previously played (The PS4 ports of A Boy and His Blob and Dead Rising) but including titles such as Gone Home and Kholat, which hadn't seen console releases until this year.

2016 saw the release of two titles that had been long, long, long delayed: The Last Guardian, which began development in 2007, and Final Fantasy XV, whose troubled development started out as the confusingly named Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006. This year, Sony launched the PS4 Pro and Microsoft launched the Xbox One S, mid-generation upgrades to their current platforms, while Nintendo prepares to launch their new handheld-console hybrid the Nintendo Switch, set for release in March of 2017. A new Pokemon game was released on 3DS to high praise while the smartphone title Pokemon Go became a cultural phenomenon for a short while. Sony and Sega announced that Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza 6 would all be getting English releases, and the world was made a little brighter.

What games did I like this year? Surprisingly, my top three are all first-person games! I'm someone that usually gets a little motion sick from first-person cameras in games, but these three were so good that I was able to overlook that. Let's take a look at the rankings!

Friday, January 6, 2017

End of Year Thoughts and Best of 2016 Part 1 - Movies




It's become trendy to personify 2016 as a sentient boogeyman, a grim reaper stealing childhood icons and ushering in a bizarre cultural era in which Pepe the Frog played a non-zero role in a US presidential election. It's a year that's been defined by an eclectic mix of fear, paranoia, and idiocy. It's a year where no matter what you make up, someone will believe you, as long as it's posted on Twitter. It's the Year of the Snake People.

In spite of the flood of national sorrows, triumphs, and explosions of stupid, 2016 was a mercifully quieter year for me than 2015. My work on Kaiju Big Battle: Fighto Fantasy really took off, including a trip to PAX East to present the game as part of a panel back in April. In addition to my new day job, Kaiju work ate up a lot of the time I'd normally spend writing, so you, my wobblers, have been neglected. I apologize. I'm hoping to launch the game in the first half of 2017, though we'll see if life has other plans; I've got a daughter due any day now!

Even with all that, I still saw a huge number of movies this year, whether at home or in theaters. I even liked most of them! Here's a look at them, divided into tiered lists and sorted alphabetically. As usual, this is an evolving document which I'll be updating as I see the final movies I missed out on (Among others: Moonlight, The Fits, Jackie, Christine, Last Days in the Desert.) Let's talk movies!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Push Me Pull You (2016, PS4) - Glib Me Glob You

It's been a couple of months since I wrote a review! I've been busy with work, both at my day job and on my upcoming game, but it's time to get back to writing. Taking a deeper look into the games I play and movies I watch is personally rewarding, whether it's in finding a new appreciation for something I initially disliked or figuring out pitfalls to avoid in my own stories and games.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!


Work continues on the Kaiju Big Battel game! To celebrate Halloween, let's take a look at some of its monsters. Be sure to follow its official blog for weekly updates!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Slalom Lancoven

I've been spending a lot of time working on Kaiju Big Battel: Fighto Fantasy and less time writing, but I hope to have more reviews up soon and a little more regularly.

In the meantime, I think someone should get on board to help me make the ski game we've all been waiting for, Slalom Lancoven.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (2016, PS4) - Pac Your Bags for the Ghost Train


When Namco announced a new Pac-Man Championship Edition game I was totally hyped. The original version, released in 2007, and its 2010 sequel Championship Edition DX were my favorite of the arcade retro-revival titles, with DX improving on the first game in a number of ways. I assumed CE2 would be more of the same, an iteration that improved and expanded on existing mechanics, but to my surprise, Namco's latest Pac-Man game goes in very different directions.

Championship Edition 2 feels less like an expansion and more like the original rules reinterpreted and evolved in a new manner. I feel that DX remains the better game, but I do have to applaud Namco for trying something new with their sequel instead of taking a safe course.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kholat (2016, PS4) - Snow Day for Death Mountain



I've generally enjoyed the often maligned "walking simulator" brand of narrative game; Soma, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Gone Home, these are all titles I've dug. These are games mostly devoid of action, where the focus is on wandering detailed environments, learning a story (often second hand by way of journals and audio logs) through observation, and just soaking in the atmosphere. Kholat, developed by Polish studio IMGN.PRO, sounded like something I'd be totally into: Stuck in a blizzard on top of a deadly mountain, players explore a hostile environment to find clues related to the Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959, in which a group of Russian hikers mysteriously died.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hyper Light Drifter (2016, PS4) - Deadly Drifter vs. Foul Frogs



With elements of both classic 16-bit and modern action games, Heart Machine's Hyper Light Drifter is a mixture of harsh combat, mysterious exploration, and minimalist storytelling. Designer Alex Preston made a big splash on Kickstarter, with the game raising over $600,000 on an initial goal of only $27,000. A few months after its PC release in March, the PS4 version is finally here, and I've been excited to see what it has to offer.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Salt and Sanctuary (2016, PS4) - Needs More Pepper


With Dark Souls being a hugely popular series, it's inevitable that elements of its game design would drift into other titles. You've got direct attempts at creating new games within the same genre, such as Lords of the Fallen and the long-delayed, often rebooted project Ni-Oh, games that attempt to mimic the challenge and loneliness such as Titan Souls, and you've got the 2D side-scrollers made in Souls' image, which includes the upcoming Death's Gambit. Ska Studios' Salt and Sanctuary falls into that final category.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Street Figther V (2016, PS4) - My Fight Money


It's never easy to review a fighting game. The genre is built on growth and learning, as communities both online and local develop new strategies, discover broken techniques, and figure out detailed match-ups, showing who's best in which situation. Developers release patches to boost or weaken characters, balance is often in flux, and new content, even a single character, can shake things up. Since its release in February, I've held off on writing about Street Fighter V. Six months out and with a major update released, now feels like the time to take a look at the game's issues.