GOTY 2014

Here’s my video game of the year post for 2014 except this year I thought I’d mix it up a bit and record a YouTube video. Sorry about the sound quality, had some issues with my recording setup. Although amazingly this 1080pHD video was recorded on my phone.

My favourite video games of 2014.

Sorry about the sound quality! Recorded on a Samsung Galaxy S5 balanced on a pile of board games. When I knocked the table the phone rocked and the microphone picked up the noise.

Although I only refer to the platform I played each game on some are multi-platform, e.g. Olli Olli, Hatsune Miku, Child of Light, etc.

Summary:

Didn’t like – Watch Dogs (PS4)

Pre 2014 releases – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS3), Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS), Persona 4 Golden (Vita).

Honourable Mentions – Destiny (PS4), Olli Olli (Vita), Rogue Legacy (Vita & PS4), Infamous: Second Son (PS4), Hatsune Miku Project Diva f (Vita).

Second Place – Driveclub (PS4).

First Place – Child of Light (Vita).

Haven’t Played Yet – Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4), Dragon Age Inquisition (PS4).

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GOTY 2013

Seeing as everyone’s on the Game-Of-The-Year bandwagon I thought I’d hop on too.

After the PR disaster that was the Wii U release, I had real concerns for Nintendo’s future but getting a 3DS XL handheld has reignited my love and faith in what was my favourite video game company as a child. Also, I’ve only played one game on my Android phone (World of Goo) and absolutely no games on my iPad this year. So again my prediction was way off, I thought that mobile apps would be the death of handheld video game consoles. I’m very pleased to report I was wrong on both counts.

nintendo 3ds

A quick mention has to go to the big games of the year that I didn’t enjoy. Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. I enjoyed the latter as a spectator and loved the story but watching the game being played didn’t inspire me to play it myself at all. I’m suffering from zombie fatigue so when Last of Us’s railroaded gameplay and dodgy controls made me rage-quit I never picked it up again.

 
One last thing before I get to my favourite games of this year. Two games I played that were released before 2013. Journey was worth the wait. An unforgettable 3 hour experience. Also a friend lent us Heavy Rain and that was terrific. Two fantastic and unique games, highly recommended if, like me, you missed them when they were released.

Honourable Mentions.

Attack of the Friday Monsters! (3DS)


This is a beautifully realised Japanese game about a boy named Sohta who lives in a town where monsters and superheroes from 1970s tokusatsu shows appear every Friday. If you love Studio Ghibli movies you’ll likely love this little game.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf. (3DS)

Animal Crossing kept me busy for at least a month, if not longer. It’s hard to remember as I was too busy tending orchards to take notice of the passing of time.

Second Place.

Borderlands 2 DLC: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep. (PS3)


“The gameplay revolves around Lilith, Mordecai, Brick, and Tiny Tina playing Bunkers and Badasses, a tabletop role-playing game parody to Dungeons and Dragons. The player is dropped into the Bunkers and Badasses world, and as the player progresses through the game, Tiny Tina, as the Game Master, narrates the story; sometimes deciding to modify the game world to add in a boss, new enemy or new NPC.”

Borderlands 2 is one of my favourite games of all time and this DLC was made for me. The rpg in-jokes, the story, the ending. Absolutely. Genius. So enjoyable. Moments where I laughed so hard I had to hold my sides. Moments where the story itself moved me to tears. If this was a full game it would have been my game of the year. As it is, it almost won despite just being downloadable content.

My Game of the Year.

Tomb Raider. (PS3)

Aside from the occasional annoying quick time event, I loved everything about this game. Beautiful vistas, spine-tingling climbs, bags of adventure. Plus a whole heap of character development. At the start of the game Lara’s vulnerable and desperate but by the end she’s a hero and you’ve lived that journey with her every step of the way. The balance between exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving was just perfect.

Notes:

Having just started Pokemon X and Beyond: Two Souls these games may still make my list. In addition there’s a long list of games I haven’t played yet including Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Gone Home, and Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. 2013 was a fantastic year for games.

Next-Gen Games Consoles pre E3 – What do you think?

The 80s called, they want their VCR back.

The 80s called, they want their VCR back.

Apologies to outdoor walking enthusiasts who follow my blog and have absolutely no interest in gaming. Please skip this post which will most likely just sound like complete nerdy gadget babble (which of course it is).

So, now we’ve had both Sony and Microsoft’s announcements for their new consoles which will be launched later this year. A new generation of consoles is an exciting time, full of promise and hope. I just thought I’d write down where my head is at this stage and hopefully hear what your thoughts are. It’s all very well listening to journalists but I’m interested to hear what my friends think.

Where I’m at with the current generation.

Currently we have both a Xbox 360 and a PS3. It wasn’t a conscious decision to own both, we got the PS3 very late in this generation’s cycle for two reasons;

1) Playstation exclusives like Uncharted, Flower, and Journey that we’d heard a lot about and wanted to play.

2) Free online multiplayer without a monthly paid subscription.

Since plugging in the PS3 we haven’t turned on the Xbox. The main reason why? Free online multiplayer and 4 friends who also have Playstations. There are other reasons too. I prefer the interface and find it surprising that Sony have taken flack for it, for me it’s much more intuitive (and pleasing to the eye) than the current Xbox UI. The machine is also way quieter than our Xbox which has always sounded like a dying aeroplane engine. The controllers don’t require batteries which is a little thing but boy is it great. Lastly Sony, at the moment, seems to me to be more customer-orientated. It’s not, ‘pay a subscription or get nothing’ it’s, ‘pay a subscription to get more’ and that’s a completely different tone.

As an aside, what a generation we’ve had! I’ve never been as excited and into video games as I am now. Assassin’s Creed 2, Fable 3, Tomb Raider (2013 reboot), Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, Borderlands 1 and 2. Some of my favourite games of all time and all in this generation.

You're holding it wrong.

Dude, you’re holding it wrong.

How I’m feeling about the next-gen.

So yes, I’m a little bit of a Sony fangirl at the moment and I expect this has skewed my view but this is where I’m at.

Sony talked about supporting game developers and especially indie developers. Making it easier for them to code for the PS4 and to get their games to market. Horay! More of this please.

All of Microsoft’s TV talk completely missed the mark with me. Why would I choose to pay Microsoft (an Xbox Live subscription would be required) to turn my Xbox into the portal through which media gets into my home when I can access it without any additional cost via a laptop, set-top-box, or smart TV? If they want the Xbox One to be the only thing under the TV, replacing cable boxes and Apple TVs, then these features have to be subscription free. Xbox 360 online gamers are acclimatised to paying Microsoft a regular subscription but to me it’s just throwing money away.

Technically, on paper, the PS4 is a more powerful machine although Microsoft have apparently said some processing power could be off-loaded to the ‘cloud’. This probably won’t have any noticeable effect except on Playstation exclusives but still… vroom vroom.

The Xbox One’s Kinect microphone freaks me out. I know, I know. Every-time I sit in front of my laptop, like I am now, I’m sitting in front of a camera and microphone and connected to the internet BUT the thought of having an always-live internet-enabled microphone in my living room above the TV is creepy.

There’s been no definitive answer to the Xbox One’s rumoured ‘always-on’ requirement but a Microsoft representative has said that it’ll need to connect to the internet at least once a day. As a family who switches everything off at the plug when it’s not being used (to save on electricity and for fire-prevention) what happens if we leave it unplugged?

I love the promise of being able to start playing a game while it’s still downloading. If it works Sony have addressed a major frustration with the current generation of consoles.

Call of Duty with a dog. Even pulling a Molyneux won’t get me interested in that game, sorry.

And finally, perhaps the most important thing, that shiny bit on top of the Xbox is going to be a bitch to dust.

Sooo…

It looks like I’m pretty anti-Xbone! Didn’t realise how much so until I wrote it down. Sony haven’t addressed a lot of things that Microsoft have (DRM, paid subscription services, what the box will look like, etc.) so I do feel they’ve let Microsoft fall on the sword first. The more we know the more there is to dislike. If the PS4 requires a paid subscription for online multiplayer then my tune will definitely change.

Soon it’ll be E3 when Microsoft will be bringing their game face and Sony will get the last word. In the meantime, please tell me what you think…

Gamer Girl by Samuel Deats

References

IGN’s PS4 Xbox One comparison chart here

The Weekend Confirmed audio podcast, Xbox One episode here

Adam Sessler’s first impressions video and others from Rev3Games here

Does My Geek Look Back On This

Back in 2006, my husband Nev and I created and hosted a podcast called Does My Geek Look Big In This?* A radio show all about beer, gaming, and movies available to download as a series of free mp3 files from the internet.

In those days Does My Geek had it’s own website (www.doesmygeek.com), was hosted on a number of podcast directories, advertised by a host of talented podcasters on their shows, and was regularly downloaded by a fair number of listeners.

Fans of Does My Geek not only downloaded and listened to our shows but also contributed letters, art, music, and even mp3 shows of their own to what became a thriving community. We had beer from Bea, Shel, and Jem & Sel, audio from Anim5 and Dave, music from Dustin and Kev, art from Sam, Sersie, and Gundragon, reviews from Raphael, a heap of geek-celeb audio intros from Fistful of Comics and Games crew (including Michael Dorn!). Letters and voicemails from Nerdcordsteve, Mick, Myles, Timewind, Alan, Ethan, Jim in Buffalo, Andy from Reading, and others. Raphael and Chris even recorded an entire episode of Does My Geek as a tribute**.

We loved being part of the Gaming Broadcast Network and had contributions from and contributed to Fistful of Comics & Games, Misfit Brew (from the House of the Harping Monkey), International Detective Dragons from Outer Space, and Dragon’s Landing. We took part in collaborative fun projects like ‘Shaken not Stirred’ where the GBN shows mixed up hosts (we hosted an episode of Misfit Brew and our show was taken over by FFOC).

By 2007 however we’d run out of steam. Putting out a podcast is a huge amount of work, not least the editing of audio files and ID tags. Ask any podcaster and they’ll assure you that it takes about four times as long to get a podcast published than it does to record it. Does My Geek spluttered rather unceremoniously to a halt, hovered on the edge of people’s awareness for a while, and then fell off the edge of the interwebs.

I’m happy to say that many of Does My Geek’s listeners remain good friends to this day. We learnt a lot about the technicalities of audio work, website creation, and podcasting. We socialised on an international scale and haven’t stopped since, regularly chatting to over-seas friends on social networks and Skype. We also drank a lot of beer.

Recently a DMG listener called Kade contacted me via my blog and asked if the shows were still available to download. The website is long gone but I started uploading the files to archive.org. Paul of Cthulhu had suggested I do this years ago but I’d never got around to actually doing it. I’ve finally finished the job and they’re all available to listen to or download along with the show notes, show matrix, and a flyer

HERE

We’re still unearthing content and uploading it to archive.org so more content will appear there over time but the main 26 shows we produced are up.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane. See you in the beer tent!

*The show was nicknamed dimgulbit by one of our listeners which goes a little way to explaining why this blog is called Lyrical Dimgulbit.

** Painfully I haven’t been able to find a copy of this on any of our computers. If anyone reading this has it please contact me, I will pay you in beer for a copy! – Update: Found it! It’s now up on archive.org with the other shows.

Cabbage Rules


I’m once again trying to get my head around the game of cribbage (aka crib aka cabbage). I’ve got a lovely travel cribbage board and have played a bit in the past. The problem is that, if I don’t play for a while, I completely forget the scoring and cribbage is all about the scoring.

After having perused the webs, checked out the tiny book that came with my set, referenced “Waddingtons Family Card Games”, and examined the tutorial in “Cribbage Lite” for the iPhone here’s what I’ve noted down on points scoring.

Please feel free to question, amend, add, or comment below.

 

.:: 5-Card Cabbage ::.

61 up
Ace = 1
Court cards = 10

Non-dealer scores “three for last” (to adjust for dealer’s advantage). First deal only = 3

If “turn-up” (aka “start” card) is a Jack dealer scores “two for his heels” = 2

 

Pairs = 2

Pair Royals (3 of a kind) = 6

Double Pair Royals (4 of a kind) = 12

Runs (3, 4, 5, etc. don’t have to be in order) = Number of cards in the run.

 

During Play Only:

During play Pairs and Runs need to be played consecutively. (This doesn’t apply when scoring hands or the crib).

Achieve a 15 point tally = 2

*Achieve a 31 point tally = 2

*”Go” or “One for Last” (when a player plays a last card making the total so near 31 that the other
player cannot play a card within 31) = 1

* Only one of these can be applied at any given time.

 

During Show Only:

Sum of any combination of cards that total 15 = 2

Flush (all cards same suit) = 3.

Flush including turn-up too = 4.

Crib exception – For a flush all 5 cards including turn-up must be of the same suit = 5

Jack in the hand of the same suit as the turn-up “one for his nob” = 1.

Quiet at the back.

Big thanks to http://www.pagat.com/adders/cribbage.html for a very useful webpage about 5-card cribbage including the history of the game and the rules. (Would make that a link but WordPress is being decidedly rubbish today and it won’t let me. Bugs everywhere!)

Games: Cut The Rope Lite & Trainyard Express

Once again I thought I’d pick up a couple of new games for my iPhone rather than spend a great amount of cash on an Xbox or Wii game. This time around I went for free versions of two popular games so I didn’t spend a single squid.

(All games played on iPhone 4, your milage may vary on other models/platforms.)

Cut the Rope Lite

As of today, £0 in the iTunes app store. Full version available for 59p.

Published by Chillingo.

Available on iPhone.

  • Innovative Gameplay: Combines realistic physics with simple controls by collecting the stars and avoiding the enemies and obstacles.
  • Gorgeous Visuals: Colorful cartoon-style characterization lends plenty of charm to Om Nom, whose facial expressions and mannerisms never get boring.

A simple game that is made infinitely cute and fun by the storyline, music, sounds, and graphics. The goal is to feed candy to to a little green creature that’s been delivered to your door by cutting ropes, popping bubbles, and pressing air squeegies. Definitely worth getting for free and almost certainly for 59p too. I wasted a large amount of last night working through the fabric box level.

Trainyard Express

As of today, £0 in the iTunes app store. Full version available for 59p.

Published by Matt Rix.

Available on iPhone, iPad.

Another simple game but this one’s a real brain teaser. You have boxes that release trains and boxes that receive trains and you need to create train tracks inbetween so that the right coloured trains end up at the correct stations.

  • Innovative and challenging puzzle mechanic
  • Smooth difficulty curve
  • 100 main puzzles and 50 hard bonus puzzles
  • Retina support and high-res graphics on iPad
  • Hundreds of ways to solve each puzzle
  • Easily share your unique solutions on Trainyard.ca
  • Engineered for low battery usage
  • Color-blind mode
  • A year in the making
  • Independently developed(support indie games!)

A simple puzzle game expertly executed. Clear graphics and engaging gameplay. This game delivers a real sense of satisfaction when you complete a level and the bonus is you can share your solutions via twitter. Again worth buying for free and I expect I’ll upgrade to the full version when I complete the levels I have in the ‘lite’ one.

 

Games: Osmos and Plants vs. Zombies

Recently I thought I’d splash out on two new computer games. Rather than pay an arm and a leg for a Wii or Xbox game (that might be crap or, more likely, I might be crap at) I decided to spend a grand total of £4 on a couple of iPhone compatible games that are getting some great reviews at the moment.

(All games played on iPhone 4, your milage may vary on other models/platforms.)

Osmos

As of today, £1.79 in the iTunes app store.

Published by Hemisphere Games.

Available on iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and Linux.

This is a little game with beautiful graphics and a chill-out soundtrack. You move a cell around to absorb other smaller cells until you’re the biggest cell in the pond.

Enter the ambient world of Osmos: elegant, physics-based gameplay, dreamlike visuals, and a minimalist, electronic soundtrack.

Your objective is to grow by absorbing other motes. Propel yourself by ejecting matter behind you. But be wise: ejecting matter also shrinks you. Relax… good things come to those who wait.

Osmos is a game that rewards patience rather than bravado and lightning reflexes. Some of the levels are difficult to begin with but not too hard, a little perseverance will win the day. The motes are beautiful to look at and the soundtrack really helps to fully immerse you in the experience, especially with headphones.

There is something very satisfying about absorbing other motes and getting bigger (resistance is futile!)

Very different to most games on the market, Osmos is a game I’d definitely recommend downloading.

Yeah yeah, I know I’m ridiculously late to this game but I’m there now and that’s what counts.

Plants vs. Zombies

As of today, £1.79 in the iTunes app store.

Published by Popcap Games.

Stop 26 types of zombies dead in their tracks with your arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants! Battle through 50 Adventure levels, 20 Mini-Games, plus Puzzle and Survival modes. Or dig into the zombie-free Zen Garden. The fun never dies!

Available on iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, and Web.

I’m not a big fan of tower defence games, which essentially this is, but 2 things make this really stand out as a fun game for me.

Firstly the sense of humour is great. There are lots of little touches that have me giggling away (in danger of someone calling the men in white coats to take me away). The sounds and art are happy in a Nintendo-like way, everything is cheerful despite your potential imminent demise. The zombies wear traffic cones for protection. The neighbour is craaazy. If you do get this game be sure to click on the ‘help’ link on the main menu page.

Plus it’s tricky but it’s rewarding and enjoyable. Sounds obvious but I find too many of these tower defence games are a slow boring waiting game followed by a speeded up onslaught that overruns everything in moments. Getting the timing and reward design correct is everything and this one has it right.

So both games are really enjoyable and I’m confident my £4 was well spent!

Anyway… I’ve got some motes to consume and some zombies to fling cherries at.

What you think of these games if you have them? Any cheap games you’d recommend?