Archive for the 'What We’re Playing Wednesday' Category

It’s the little things …

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Patch says,

I continue to be busy with real life stuff, with little time for gaming.

But this is me, so “little time” doesn’t mean “no time”.  Highlights from this week include Toy Soldiers, which is a Tower Defense game that provides an answer to that itch to hop inside one of your towers and shoot at stuff (you can also fly planes and drive tanks), and Protect Me Knight, which is a sort of survival/tower defense hybrid/retro nintendo love letter.  (with local co-op!)

Both games pay a lot of attention to atmosphere.  The conceit of Toy Soldiers is that you’re playing with a vintage miniatures set come to life, and the devs execute with a great deal of charm, and plenty of grace notes, from the old war song that plays over the opening screens, to the “vintage” box covers that grace every loading screen.

Protect Me Knight is all about retro, and I think that I’m about to get tired of retro, but not so tired that the opening cutscene (hint: it involves blowing on a cartridge) didn’t pretty much instantly win me over.

The gameplay is good in both.  I’m such a picky gamer.  Don’t like games that have atmosphere and no substance.  Don’t like games that have substance, and no atmosphere.  Happily, there are game designers out there willing to put in the work and hours to please me; we live in a fine era for games indeed.

So many games, so little …

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Patch says:

Today is usually the day that we write about games.  Oddly, this week, I have bought a lot of games, but not had much time to play them (new job means having money, but not having time; oh irony), so I don’t have that much to say.

The Humble Indie Bundle is out this week (and only for this week).  It’s a good chance to get a bunch of games for … well, whatever you want to pay for them, while supporting Child’s Play and the EFF.  I already own most of it, but spent a fair chunk of cash on it, just on general principle (I like to give money to people who release versions of games for Linux — saves me the trouble of rebooting to get my gaming fix).

Red and I are continuing to enjoy Galaxy Trucker.  She still kicks my ass, but I’m getting slightly better …

Oh, and you’ve no doubt played this one, but just in case, go play Super Mario Crossover (flash, free).  It’s thoroughly worthwhile.

Now I think I am going to grab a few spare moments to actually play a little bit of something …

Review: Galaxy Trucker

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Red says:

Patch and I have some very dear, gamer friends.  These friends are in possession of, or perhaps possessed by, a very active eleven year old boy.

We adore the whole family, spawn included, but the mixed generations make game selection difficult.  Most of the time, game nights are a series of compromises, and we try to fit in something for everyone, and the kid is very good at wandering off when the grown ups decide to play something truely boring.

Just for a change, Patch and I decided to go searching for something that would be perfect for the entire group.  Our list of needs was so specific, we knew we would never find something that would hit every point, but there had to be some game which came a little closer.

The list:
No direct conflict between players (when families are involved, this can be key, trust me).
Layers of strategy, with just enough elements of chance that players of all levels can still win.
Aliens, but not as bad guys unless the game can be tweaked and played from the alien’s perspective. (This one was quite important for keeping the kid enthralled.)
Rounds that move quickly (no eight hour games).
Art that doesn’t turn Red off.

Amazingly, we found something that fit every criteria.  Galaxy Trucker caught my eye first because of the space theme, which I hoped would include aliens, and second because it was put out by Rio Grande Games, who I trust to put out interesting, quality products.  (The box art showing a galactic hauler with pudgy pink cannons and batteries strapped on every which way didn’t hurt either — the art carries through to the game with a cute aesthetic which somehow doesn’t take away the sensation of being a tough, inter-space trader one bit.)

The game play is broken up into three (four for experienced players) rounds, each one lasting half an hour or so.  The first half of each round is spent building the player’s ships.  For those of you familiar with Carcasonne, this section of the game is rather like a mutual solitaire version of that — mutual solitaire because all the players are building their own ships at the same time, with very little interaction, other than chatter and a non-intrusive bit of competition introduced by way of an incentive to finish first and/or tidiest.

The second half of each round involves all the ships flying through space and meeting up with various obstacles and bonuses.  There is no direct competition, but you are trying to get the most bonuses and come home with the most cargo aboard your ship.

Because you are privy to some of the challanges that will come up on the flight (pay attention to those radio broadcasts as you outfit your ship, Captain) there is strategy to how you build your ship — will guns or engines be more important this flight?  Will there be lots of cargo to stow, or am I better off putting in shields?  On the flight its self there is also strategy, whoever is in the lead at the end of the round gets a bonus, but if you are in the lead when pirates hit, watch out!  Yet bad luck can make even the most careful of planning go awry, and that clunker that didn’t look like it would make it out of dock can swoop in and make ridiculous amounts of space credits, winning the round.

And of course, there are aliens.  Friendly, helpful aliens that you can build life support systems for, and who use their mad technical skills to get more power out of your guns and engines.

All in all, it was the perfect game for that little group, and I suspect it will play well with most of our gaming friends.  It even plays well two player, so Patch and I can get a game in before bed.  Absolutely delightful, and highly recommended.

Timing

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Patch says:

I am currently limited in mobility due to throwing out my back performing activities far too trivial to warrant the days of pain afterward.  (Someday, I am going to throw out my back Rescuing Orphans From Doom or something and then I will be happier, right?)

It seemed like a perfect opportunity to spend some time with my DS, a console I have neglected recently.  So I popped in a recently purchased copy of Spirit Tracks, wriggled carefully into a comfortable position …

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Smooth Draft

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Red says:

It comes to me to talk about what we’re playing, but I have taken the week off from gaming.  Well, almost.

(Of course, what that really translates to is: I don’t currently have a single game obsession which takes over most of my free time.  This week, Patch and I have resurrected our *cough-fiveyearold-cough* Champions of Norath campaign, and bashed our collective heads against the final boss a few more times; we’ve also played more Death Jr., and gone further retro by throwing Baldur’s Gate on.  While I, of course, have made the requisite occasional tries at the final temple in Zuma, and experimented with various flash games.)

But seriously, I’ve like, not played anything all week, except for making trial drafts of Magic.

I haven’t been to a real draft in months, partly due to my health, and partly due to a waning interest in actually playing the game, but the online Bestiaire has me hooked.  My favorite part of Magic, is drafting — seriously, not playing in draft tournaments, but the actual draft.  I love reading the signs of what people are passing, and I love the educated gamble of what will show up in future packs.  When I’m at an event, I get the added bonus of having faces and body language to read  — who is likely to lean toward a particular color, who is likely to rare draft, and pass me things I want, etc.?  But when I’m feeling less sociable, or when I really just don’t feel like playing, I open up Le Bestiaire and have as many rounds of drafting as my little heart desires.  Sweet, catharsis.

“Fun”

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Patch says:

Cave Story came out on WiiWare last week.  You can play it on the PC for free, but the Wii version is  worth the purchase, both for the joy of playing the 8-bit homage on a console with a proper controller, and because it is really a solid piece of work, made with love and care, and it’s nice to see people make money off of something so well done.

Important note:  Cave Story is not an easy game.

Responding to one of many curses emanating from the couch whilst I played it, Red wondered aloud why I regularly subject my ageing reflexes to these paeans to the days of “Nintendo Hard.”  (Her actual words were more like “so you died again.  And you’re surprised?  Why are you playing this, again?”)

She acted like she did not understand.  But she has her own games, and over the next few days, as I worked at my computer, I would hear the occasional howl of agonized profanity coming from the living room couch.  And then one evening, she turned to me with glowing eyes and pointed proudly to the final screen from Greed Corp., shimmering on our TV, and I rather think that she understands, after all.

Adorable Death and Destruction

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Red says:

This week, Patch and I both have individual video-games going, as well as a co-op.  All three are utterly cute, in their own fashions, and all three manage to embody doom and gloom in a delightfully chipper way. (more…)