Sep 28

10 Games that have stuck with me through the years

My friend Brad Heitmeyer recently challenged me to list the top 10 games that have stuck with me and had some effect on my life. I felt that this would make a decent blog post so here it is. Because the list was so long (over 30 titles) I have cut out some of the iconic games that just didn’t form a strong bond with me, if I can’t remember myself playing it, it didn’t stay; and I had to cut the games from the last 10 years because it’s too easy to list great games I’ve recently played. Listed in chronological order.

1: Joust (1982) – This was one of the first games I ever played on the Atari and changed my perception of what video games could be. It was fast, colourful, and had good replayability. In school I even tried to create a paper-based version of the game for a class project, which seemed perfectly fine until I had to explain it to the class, because I hadn’t thought through any design.

2: Centipede (~1984) – This is the first game I ever coded, on a Commodore 64, from some instructions in a magazine. I didn’t have any way of saving my work, so I had to code it all in an afternoon and play it right after.

3: Legend of Zelda (1987) – I remember this game taking an entire week up at my dad’s trailer to finish, it was the first game that had a battery built in to save games and seemed so vast. It has had an incredible influence on the types of games I like (Darksiders, God of War, Metroid, etc.).

4: Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition (1992) – This version in particular was my favourite of all the versions. It has all the cooler characters and tight controls. I’d spend hours a week in the arcade challenging scrubs. I still tell stories of how my buddy Shaun would defeat guys perfect one-handed, it was a sight to see. At one point I even entered a tournament in London and got 2nd place.

5: Mortal Kombat (1992) & Mortal Kombat 2 (1993) – These games got played even more than Street Fighter 2 after Shaun and I started working and spending nights at an all-night Doughnut shop/Deli/Laundromat/Arcade in London after delivering pizzas. This is also one of the first games I made money with, at the time the internet was still pretty new, but I had it, and I’d look up all the finishing moves, write up a sheet, print it up, and sell it at the arcade to people I defeated. This should also include Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 for completeness, and exclude any Mortal Kombat after 2.

6: Syndicate (1993) – I don’t know what it is about this game. I liked it, it was gritty (with blood and violence) but it shouldn’t have had the impact on me it has. For years I’ve wanted to make an updated version of this game and even now that there have been plenty of similar style games I still do. It might have been the way it kept surprising me well into the game… The persuadatron!

7: Gran Tourismo (1998) – I spent a crazy amount of time on this game and the sequel on Playstation with Shaun. By the time I was done playing it, I had unlocked all the licenses, cars, whatever else. I owned one of every car and they all sat in my virtual garage waxed and washed. This is one of the first games where my minor OCD caused me to 100% it. I always claim that Gran Tourismo made me a better real life driver, because it explained the apex of the curve, and once you know how to race a car, driving one in the city is child’s play.

8: Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) – This is one of the first games I actually remember being “co-operative” playing. I played a little bit solo, but at some point I started playing co-op with Shaun and then we finished the game, we’ve played most of the Halo series co-op ever since. The split screen multiplayer was also great fun, I remember vividly one time where we had 3 TVs set up in the basement playing Halo with 10 people. This multiplayer experience is more memorable than GoldenEye memories.

9: Silent Hill 2 (2001) – While the first Silent Hill was creepy in its own right, Silent Hill 2 was by far the creepiest game I’d ever played. It’s possibly now replaced with Penumbra Overture or Dead Space (I haven’t yet played Amnesia), but the story of Silent Hill 2 gave just enough to keep you interested and spooked you out when a perfectly normal hospital would shift to the hell version with grated floors covered in blood and the implications of what was going on in there. I’m also fairly certain there is a part where you hide in a closet and see a pyramid head rape a mannequin nurse, which was pretty disturbing.

10: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) – KotOR was great in so many ways. It allowed you to customize your team and each person’s clothes, weapons, and powers. It had a great story with good voice acting and a great twist ending. It’s one of the first games I remember having optional mini-games (Pazaak). It had all the benefits of playing in the Star Wars universe without having to worry too much about cannon and dropping in known characters from the movies. The systems created in this game went on to create Mass Effect (another series I greatly enjoyed), Dragon Age (which I couldn’t get into), and Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO (which I played for a while until the MMO grind ruined the story bits).

Cut games: Tetris, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Castlevania, Bionic Commando, Terminator 2 (arcade shooter)Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (2000), Unreal Tournament 2004 (2004), Portal (2007), Bioshock (2007), Dead Space (2008), Braid (2008), Mirror’s Edge (2009), Uncharted 2 (2009), Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009), Left 4 Dead 2 (2009), Batman: Arkham Asylum(2009)/Arkham City (2011), Mass Effect 2 (2010), Limbo (2010), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011), X-Com: Enemy Unknown (2012), Journey (2012), The Walking Dead (2012), Dishonored (2012), Remember Me (2013)

 

Dec 20

Little Inferno – Review

LittleInferno-featuredLittle Inferno is a puzzle game, developed by Tomorrow Corporation, and independent developer.  It never seemed particularly puzzling, you are given things to burn and a list of things that can burn together, once you’ve burned through enough things you get a bit more story.

I really didn’t expect find the game that enjoyable, I’d seen a demo of it where I was just burning items and thought it could be cathartic.  It’s a very good fire simulator, things burn very realistically.  What I didn’t expect when I started playing was that there is a little back and forth story between a neighbour who sends you notes and gifts, and an underlying dark storyline that progresses slowly at first.

 

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Before I knew it, I’d spent over 5 hours playing and finished the game, which is a great length for me and for a game like this.

There are also lots of cute little somewhat inside jokes.

This is a great example of making a fun mechanic in a game into a cute little story that pretty much could only be told by an indie.

Pros: Simple mechanic is easy to get into, cute story, good progression, not too long.

Cons: Sometimes you have to burn something you already burned to make enough in game money to buy something new.

Jul 07

Remember Me (Game) Review

RememberMe-featuredRemember Me is a third-person Action-Adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment.  I rented it for the PS3 from GameAccess.ca.

In Remember Me, you play as Nilin, a female memory hunter in a future Paris destroyed by terrorists and weather phenomenon and in the middle of being rebuilt with the help of a large corporation called Memorize that invented devices that can hook into a persons memory and import and export individual memories like a hard drive known as Sensens.  The memory hunters are essentially rogues that hunt down and steal valuable memories, though the game never explains why, but they are determined to bring down Memorize, the control they appear to have over people, and reduce the enormous class divide between the elite who have Sensens and the people who are either denied them, or have negative reactions to them which turn them into Leapers.

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Jun 16

Candy Crush Saga – Review

Candy-Crush-Saga-featuredI started playing Candy Crush Saga on Android and eventually tried it on Facebook.  It is a free to play match 3 game with some interesting differences to existing games like Bejeweled.  It became very addictive to me for a long time, to the point where my phone would die halfway through the day from playing it.

It works very well as a free to play game, as you can at any point spend real money to make the game easier, but if you work at it and have patience you can move your way through the game without ever spending a dime.  I made it to level 99 before I was frustrated enough to quit playing having never spent anything on the game.

The things I found that made it different from other Match 3 games was that different levels provided different kinds of challenges.  Some would be timed and require making a certain number of points before being able to move on, some would require a certain score within a limited number of moves.  By limiting the player to only 5 losses before waiting 30 minutes for another try to renew you have a firm cut off time.  This would imply that you could start playing and know that you won’t be playing all day.  Of course you could if you continue to win games, and that meant sometimes the games went on for up to an hour before I realized I should be doing something else.

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Apr 07

Dungeon Defenders – Game Review

DungeonDefenders-featuredDungeon Defenders is a third-person mix of tower defence and action RPG developed by Trendy Entertainment.  I didn’t spend very long playing this game solely because it’s not really my style of game at all.  I almost wish it was, because it has a great art style and solid gameplay.  There are plenty of varied character roles and RPG elements to upgrade your character.

I think a part of the problem was that I was playing solo, this seems like it could be a very fun game if playing with some friends online, requiring different skill sets.

After picking your character, you start in the dungeon you will be defending, before each wave of enemies you have the ability to put up defences like a tower defence game.  When you are ready you trigger the wave and then you are able to run around and help out your defences by attacking the incoming enemies.

It seems there are plenty of various dungeons to defend, and there must have been twenty or thirty different characters in the version I have.

Pro: Great art style, fun gameplay, lots of variety, good tutorial

Cons: Basically it’s not my style of game, so I didn’t  play it enough to find any real cons.

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