After doing several “best of” lists centered on music, it’s time to turn attention to my favorite videogames. Coming up with a best 25 was hard to do since I have been twiddling my joystick for quite some time now…since Atari – get your minds out of the gutter! I can bet with quite certainty that some of my favorite games are long forgotten and left off this list, but for the sake of picking 25 games I looked at the ensemble of consoles and PC games I played over the years. I think I captured the breadth of my favorite games across a spectrum of genres. To put them in order was another task all-together since each game provided a different experience at a different point in my life. So, I would place less emphasis on where the game is on my list and pay more attention to the fact that it made my list at all. Of all the games I played in my life narrowing my favorites down to 25 speaks volumes of the game’s impact on me. Enough rambling, let’s get on with the list!
I came across La Mulana after seeing a couple of screen shots of the game and seeing some comments on them saying that it was pretty much Dark Souls if it were a side-scrolling Metroidvania type game. Well I absolutely loved Dark Souls and I love me some Metroidvania games, so without further contemplating on picking the game up I didn’t hesitate a moment to add it to my video game library. Little did I know that underneath the spectacular 32 bit pixel art graphics that caught my eye lay a game which invokes video game sadomasochism on levels I never thought could exist. Now, I love me some difficult games and obtuse puzzles, but holy hell, nothing could have prepared me for the insane difficulty of La Mulana. But somehow, midst the bouts of wanting to bash my face into a wall and smash my gamepad to smithereens exists a game of such high quality and scope I could not, even for a second think about abandoning it without solving all of the puzzles of the ancient ruins of La Mulana and see the game through to the end. Alls I gotta say is my utmost thanks goes to the people who wrote up the infinitely useful La Mulana Wiki page. Without them I would have never gotten to experience one of the most ingeniously crafted games I’ve ever played without having to get checked into a looney bin.
What is it about pixel art graphic aesthetics that will forever draw me into a game? Many will argue that their usage is reaching a point of over-saturation, that their time has passed, and are just a cheap trick to prey on my generation of gamers nostalgia. Me, however, feels just the opposite. I will never get enough of pixel art graphics and with modern technology there is just so much more one can do with them. And while my nostalgia does play a part in why I enjoy their look, there are many other reasons why I find them pleasing to the eye, such as the adage that one’s mind will fill in the blanks with something more personal and more horrific and/or beautiful than the artist could ever create (see: Japanese horror flicks). In pixel art graphics, no matter how detailed they get, there is always room for me to fill in blanks and smooth out edges in my mind, therefore creating a delightful mix of what the artist intended and the brush of the artist in my mind.
Anodyne looks not only to explore this facet of gaming and art, but also asks the player to take a deeper step into not only different aspects of game design, but also into game playing and beyond. Why do we enjoy the medium, why the pleasure derived from an aesthetic, why do we all almost always perform certain actions, and why don’t many of us want to grow up. Many of these questions are aptly answered in the games title alone, but once you delve into the game and start exploring its surrealistic pixel world the introspects of the 2 man development team’s (Sean Hogan (audio, programming) and Jonathan Kittaka (art, writing) for Analgesic Productions LLC) very personal thoughts and feelings will really start encouraging you to ponder the same theories as they were. And when all is said and done and the games finale is reached you will realize that you discovered new things about yourself other than why you like video games or pixel art graphics. So, like the filling in the blanks of the visual art with your imagination, you will be filling in the questions and creating your own questions with the framework the game creates. Oh, and Anodyne is a lot of fun to play too!
Over the recent holiday I found my game library expand yet again. Between the release of Humble Indie Bundle 7, some gifts, and the Steam Winter Sale my game library is overflowing with games. Usually when I go on a gaming shopping spree I install a bunch of them and play for a little while and eventually choose a couple to continue with to the end (or just keep on playing because the game doesn’t have an end). When I finish those I randomly pick another one and start it over from the beginning and play to the end, and so on. Here’s this binge’s selection of games I chose for my first round of try-outs (and I still have another handful I haven’t even installed yet) and my first impressions on them. Hopefully you enjoy and maybe find some cool games to play. Peace Love and Metal!!!
Upon waking up from a long and restful sleep that lasted well into the late afternoon the young man rubs the sleep from his eyes and goes about his daily routine. He washes up, gets dressed, and goes to check his answering machine. After a couple of messages from family and friends his employer informs him about yet another odd job that needs to be done. This time he has to fill in for a DJ at a nightclub and requests that the man be dressed to kill. He dons his silver motorcycle jacket and heads out to work.
Arriving at the club he puts a mask resembling a rooster on to conceal his identity and then bursts through the door knocking the armed bouncer to the floor where he proceeds to climb on top of him and repeatedly thrust his clasped fist into the unsuspecting guard’s head until nothing but a pile of brain, blood, and bits of skull paint the floor. By now other guards in the club have taken notice that something has gone awry, but even in their quick reaction they can help avoid being blind sided by the billy club the bouncer was once holding. Swipe after swipe the man opens their heads like eggs leaving smatterings of blood across the walls and floor. To the dismay of the other guards in the room one of their felled co-workers had a pistol in his possession which has now been turned on them. The sharpshooter accuracy of their attacker is unparalleled as he meticulously connects bullets to vital organs and aims for joints to remove limbs that would give them a fair advantage. To the mans demise a guard with a knife is hiding around a corner and as the killer makes his way to the angle he jumps out and buries the blade deep in the mad man’s throat. [Game Over – Press A To Restart]….
Arriving at the club he puts a mask resembling a rooster on to conceal his identity and then bursts through the door……
Continuing with a series of posts I have written on some quality games you can get at great prices to get the biggest bang for you buck (more great cheap games here and here), here’s another 5-set of great inexpensive games to check out. My rule is for a game to make the list it has to be readily available and easy to find as well as under 20 of whatever your country’s currency is in (dollars or euros). So you will see a mixed bag of great bargain bin console games, modern classics, free-to-play, downloadable titles, and cool indie games ranging between PC and consoles. And as much as I’d like to play every game ever made, I can’t, so if you know of any that belong on one of these posts feel free to give it a shout out. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
After Lucas Arts decided to focus on making crappy Star Wars games and suffered the loss of their core creative team (who went on to found Telltale Games, who is releasing some awesome games to this day) and Sierra Games went the way of the dodo, it looked like a very bleak future for fan of graphic adventure games. Luckily there were enough fans of these laid back, narrative driven games who started tinkering with breaking into the game development industry and started to create some great games. With the recent surge in popularity of the indie game scene some of these games that may have had trouble finding an audience have a way of finding their way into the hands of the people who would really enjoy them. By way of The Humble Indie Bundle I got my hands on a copy of the oddly titled Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery E.P. (to now be abbreviated as S:S&SEP)and its soundtrack Sword & Sworcery LP – The Ballad of the Space Babies. Being the only title in the bundle that I have yet to hear of or play, I dived right in with no preconceptions and almost immediately found myself completely sucked in by the games amazing atmosphere, excellent soundtrack, and simple point and click interface. As I delved further into the game, its world just simply mesmerized me unlike a game has yet to do in a long time and after my 5 hours for a full playthrough I found myself emotionally moved as the final scenes played out. And all of this is presented with minimalistic ‘8Bit retro graphics’ and the use of music.
Ten years ago it seemed that the survival horror genre of games was primed to take off. While it had existed for quite a few years previously, the advent of blockbuster titles such as the first 2 Resident Evil games and Silent Hill gave this terrifying genre a push into the mainstream audience. Using a minimal action, exploration based gameplay mechanic pitting players against unknown lurking evils with limited supplies and their wits as their best line of defense, these games scared the crap out of us all, and we loved it. Then when the PS2 era of consoles came around a little sequel named Silent Hill 2 found its way into horror fans homes. This game took the core mechanics of its predecessors and built on top of it a more twisted, cerebral tale and took the game’s atmosphere into an even darker territory. Everything about the game was perfect and a truly terrifying game was born. Born from its wake were some excellent games such as the Fatal Frame series as well as the re-invigoration of the Clock Tower series. Times were good for survival horror fans.
But on the other side of the survival horror genre there was a game making even bigger waves than the twisted worlds of Silent Hill and its like. I’m sure that just about all of you are well aware of the Resident Evil franchise. While its initial entries were great survival horror games they did have a deeper focus on action and using cheap ‘jump’ scares to make their games scary. You could say they were the Aliens to Silent Hill’s Alien. Their popularity became a huge influence in the genre and before long many imitators were found, even my beloved Silent Hill series which began to take a more combat focused approach after the 3rd entry in the series. Since then I have yet to find another game to go back to survival horror roots and make an attempt to match the tension and fear that Silent Hill 2 had done so eloquently. Then I caught wind of a little independently developed game called Amnesia: The Dark Descent.