I swear, I have no idea how I stumble upon the games I do, or why exactly I get drawn into them so easily sometimes, especially when they probably have no business ever seeing the light of day on this blog. I really wish I could explain it, but it's like these games have a way of finding me, catching me off guard and hypnotizing me into playing them waaaaay longer than I should. That of course leads to me having to write about them, because most likely I'll never put the same amount of time in during the course of a day as I would the first day, if I ever go back to them again, that is.
I can't even remember how I found out about ColorMania today. Somehow, somewhere I came across it, and was immediately intrigued. The tagline for the game posed the question: "Recognize this character? Think you can color him?" Of course, they showed a black and grey version of a silhouetted Mario, which right off the bat means that I am interested. But the concept that they posed intrigued me as well. Sure, I, like many Americans, consider myself pretty familiar with brands and especially their logos. We see them all the time, all over the place, every day, all day. Brands and logos are everywhere we look, and I didn't think I would have any problem identifying them.
But would I remember the exact colors for them? My initial thought was yes, of course I could. Yet the more I thought about it, I started second-guessing myself on how accurately I could remember exact colors. Seems easy to do, until you try it. So I did. I downloaded ColorMania for my phone, for free, and started playing. And by started playing, I mean I played almost up until I reach triple digits in the images.
They give you a black and grey image each time. Some are logos, some are characters, but all are pretty recognizable. Underneath you have a pallet of colors to choose from, in which you simply tap on a color you think is in the picture and hope for the best. Finish the picture and move on to the next, but get a color wrong and you lose a heart, the equivalent of a life. Once you run out of lives, you are forced to sit and wait for the chance to regain some life by spinning what looks to be a Wheel of Fortune wheel. With more lives, you can continue on. And the process repeats as long as you want it to.
One thing important to remember is that the higher levels you go, the longer the cool-down period is before you can get back any lives. Where I finally stopped, it was a 25 minute wait to keep playing, where as the first few rounds, it was only like 10 seconds. The better you get, the more you have to wait when you're wrong. At that point though, you're hooked, and the wait seems reasonable. The catch is that if you are impatient, you can buy extra lives with your own personal, hard-earned real life money. Of course I haven't paid a single penny towards this game, but it is the perfect example of how archaic the free-to-play model really is. Not only that, but every 5 pictures or so, you are bombarded with an ad for Candy Crush ... of all things!
I'm telling you folks, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is doing this new school free-to-play method perfectly, and I hope more games follow suit and drop this business that ColorMania is running on. Overall, however, it's a fun little game that will definitely test your memory, and your allegiance to this great country of ours. Or something like that.
I know I have written about fighting games before. I can't remember exactly which game it was that prompted me to share my thoughts on the fighting game genre, but I know I wrote about it. If you remember that post, well, for one, you should write in to me and refresh my memory what game it was (so I don't write about it again), but secondly, you should remember my personal feelings on fighting games. Well, that is, if your memory is better than mine.
As a refresher, let me break it down for you real quick. I love fighting games. Absolutely adore them. Unfortunately, my skill level of fighting games doesn't even come close to matching how much I love to play them, which is bizarre. You would think that if someone loves a genre of games, and plays a bunch of them, that they would be half-way decent, right? Well, I'm the exception to the rule. No matter how much I play a fighting game and how well I study the move-sets and practice them, I get absolutely destroyed by others when I try to put my training to the test.
I really can't explain why, either. I would say my hand-eye coordination, but that would effect other types of games, if not all video games, as well, right? Maybe I'm just not fast enough, or have slow reaction times. Maybe my fingers can't accurately hit the diagonal position of the D-pad as accurately as I need. Like I said, I really have no idea.
With all that being said, and risking the possibility of writing a post exactly like an old one, I can happily say I found a fighting game that I can be good at. Not just good, but dominant. Well, I think I can. That's the thing with Divekick; no matter how good you think you are, the game revolves around sheer luck and guessing, meaning any Joe Schmoe off the street can play for the first time and easily beat a seasoned veteran. How is that possible, you say? Allow me to explain.
Divekick was not created to be played by hardcore fighting game fanatics, or be a tournament game at Evo, the largest fighting game tournament in the world, where the best of the best compete. No, this game is made for everyone else, who play fighting games for the fun of it, and just want to have fun while playing the games, not be constantly devastated by inabilities to perform perfect combos with perfect timing. Divekick is for the masses, as they say.
This game is the epitome of simplicity. There are only two buttons to control the action. No, seriously. Just two buttons. One for jumping, and the other for divekicking. You can't move your player forward or backwards, you can't block, you can't perform any sort of combos. All you can do is jump up, and divekick in the direction of your opponent. You can perform a kickback, which is an evasion maneuver, for most characters by hitting the kick button before jumping. Also, pushing both buttons at once will perform a special move, individualized for each character. If you manage to hit your opponent before they hit you, you win. Just one hit ends the round. The fact that there is even a health bar is comical in its own right.
Each fight consists of a best-of-nine series, which basically means the first one to win 5 rounds, wins the match. With one-hit kills, the matches usually go pretty quickly, unless you and your opponent play a game of chicken and just keep jumping up, afraid to make the first move. In reality, this game is all about timing. Nail the timing of your kick and you'll reign supreme. If your opponent has better timing than you, that will mark success in their favor. Sure, some skill comes in to play, but overall, it's a lot more random and luck driven than skill-based. Which is why this game is fun, not frustrating.
This game is available for Steam, but also for PS3 and Vita, which are available as a cross-buy. Buy it for one Sony platform, get it for the other one for free. Sweet deal, huh? For me, I'm playing it on my Vita, but only because it is such a fun, quick little game to pick up and play in short bursts, especially on the go.
So there you have it. A fighting game I can fully support. That is, until some who has never played before challenges me and destroys me. At that point, I'll swear off fighting games forever. Maybe. Probably not, but it's nice to think about anyway.
I hesitated about buying this game. I looked at the price, being $18 on Steam (on sale currently, as usually it's $20), and asked myself if it was worth it. Then I went to Twitter and asked around to people I knew had played it, to see if they thought it was worth it. After asking this, I realized just how stupid that question is. Something is only worth what you get out of it. What one person sees as a deal, another feels is a complete rip-off. It's just not something that can be asked, especially about a game. ESPECIALLY about a game like Gone Home.
Gone Home. Wow. I don't even know where to begin.
Obviously, I decided to buy it. From everything I heard, it was a game that needed to be experienced.Sure, I thought about the possibility of this game going on a Steam Sale or being packaged within a Humble Bundle, but honestly, something told me that waiting wasn't something I wanted to do. Not for this game. Not for this experience.
The game is a point-and-click adventure type of game. You're just getting home after being overseas, and right off the bat, something feels weird, different ... not right. You're mission is to wander the house, looking for clues, trying to figure out what is wrong. You don't know what the end game will be. You don't know what you are trying to find or look for or how to even complete the game. You just know that at some point, the mystery will have a conclusion. The build up to that mystery is the experience.
The game is creepy, moody and filled with atmosphere that will give you chills. I can honestly say that sitting here, with headphones on, I had chills and goosebumps on several different occasions, all of which were probably just induced by my own imagination, which was made to run wild because of the events in the game. A game that gives you chills without actually doing anything to give you chills? Yeah, that's something you don't play every day.
The entire game, I knew where the game was going. All the subtle clues, all the writing on the wall - I was absolutely sure I knew how the game would end. And that scared me to death. I didn't want the game to end the way it did, because I wasn't sure if I could handle it, emotionally. Even though it was roughly an hour and a half long, I wanted to stop and come back to it at another time because my emotions were bouncing all over the place. I was freaking out in anticipation of getting to the end, but I knew that's what the experience was all about. I wouldn't get the same connection, feel the same emotions or experience the same story if I did it in several sessions. I had to man up and play on, despite my fear of completion.
Let's just say that no matter how ready I thought I was for the ending, I wasn't. Not in the least bit. I spent the entire time playing the game psyching myself into finishing it, but when it was over, I didn't know how to feel. I had such mixed emotions bouncing around my confused mind that I'm still not sure what I feel, or even how I'm supposed to feel.
So was it worth it? You tell me.
Have I ever explained how easily influenced I am sometimes? Sure, there are readers of this very blog who seem to be influenced by the games I buy, play and enjoy, and sometimes make decisions on buying games themselves based on what I think of a game. Not like I am reviewing games here or anything, which I have tried diligently to avoid doing from the get-go, but sometimes my first impressions of a game are enough to sway someone who is on the fence, or even down-right talk them into one. That's a lot of pressure, when you think about it.
But in reality, I am just as easily influenced as anyone else, if not more in some cases. Maybe it has something to do with this blog, where I am in constant search mode looking for the next game to play. Regardless, it doesn't take much anymore to talk me into checking out a game, as my interest level for all types of games and genres has gone through the roof these past few months especially.
That is where Cook, Serve, Delicious comes in to play.
I heard about this game from a lovely lady I know through Twitter, who is on multiple different podcasts that I listen to. Her name is Elaine, and she from The Mommy Gamers, Some Other Castle Podcast and Hell Yeah! Podcast, and she talks about Cook, Serve Delicious ... a lot. When I say "a lot," I mean it as much as I could possible describe. This woman loves her some Cook, Serve, Delicious. Not only does seem to genuinely love this game, but she might be slightly addicted to it. Oh, and she rocks at it to, if you are to believe her humble bragging, which I am inclined to do.
Anyway, I have her to blame for me playing this game. Not because I became addicted to it, which I went in to sort of worried about, but because I'm flat-out exhausted from playing it. This game feels like work, and that is the absolute last thing I want a video game to feel like, especially on a lazy Sunday. I was playing it on my iPad, watching movies and trying to just kick back and relax. But this game made it impossible for me to not only watch the movie, but relax in any form or fashion. It forces you in a frenzy, from start to finish, which I assume is their attempt to replicate the experience of a restaurant. Well, while I know how to cook a little, the multitasking and perfect planning of time is the main reason why the kitchen is not my room of choice. Because I know my limits just in domestic cooking is the number one reason why working at a high-pressure, high-stress job like a restaurant will never be in my future.
I'm actually getting anxiety just thinking about it.
This is game is a like a complicated, sophisticated mash-up of all the Facebook/Zynga style of games, which if you don't know what I'm talking about, me describing them will do them no justice. Essentially it's a game that revolves around time management, quickness and worrying about several different things at once. Once again, these are the types of games I try to stay away from intentionally, because I really don't feel like my source of entertainment should feel like work or stress me out like a job would.
But hey, I tried the game. I know what Elaine and her podcasting partners are talking about from here on out, so at least I have some context going forward. I just wonder how much she really likes this game, or if it's just the addiction talking so highly about it. A woman that bust can't possibly like working in a game that much, can she?
Well, count this as another weird form of inspiration. I didn't plan on playing this game at all. In fact, it wasn't even close to being on my radar. But then I saw a buddy of mine on Twitter talking about playing Mario Kart 64 with his young son, and well, I got that itch to play an old Mario Kart game. That, combined with thinking about how I hate most racing games with the exception of the Mario Kart series thanks to my playing of Need for Speed Carbon the other day, equaled this game having to happen now.
I simply adore Super Mario Kart. I have sunk more hours into this game than any other game in the series, easily. It's not like it was a super deep game, or had tons of unlockables or anything like newer games have, but back then, as a kid, it was the end all to be all for racing games. My friends and I would play relentlessly, usually focusing on being the absolute king of the kart, which would involved placing first in the entire cup of our choice. Back then, before the threat of blue turtle shells, one could easily dominate the game with patience, practice and a lot of skills. Of course, I say "easily" tongue-and-cheek.
Who remembers the feeling of timing the start-light just perfectly, so that you get that immediate boost of speed and power from the start line? Figuring out that cool little trick was the equivalent of finding a warp whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3, or discovering the "Rock the Turtle" technique in the original Super Mario Bros. game. Little tricks that Nintendo put in their games to make the players feel awesome upon discovery of them. Nintendo always knows how to make their gamers smile.
Also, the battle mode in this game is ridiculously fun, especially considering how simple the mode is. Drive around and try to pop each others' balloons - no more, nothing less. But for some reason, no matter how simplistic and straight forward it may appear on paper, once you start playing it with friends you realize how awesome it is. That mode alone is responsible for probably a third of the game time I've had with this game over the years, easily.
Overall, this game is an all-time classic and a timeless display of gaming at its best. Apparently I'm not the only one to think that, as this game went on to sell more copies than any other game for the Super Nintendo. Over the years, it is the golden example of the kart-racing genre, as many games have tried to emulate what Nintendo created over the years, so mild success. Yet no one has come close to duplicating what Super Mario Kart exactly - not even Nintendo, all these years later.
Weekends with any of my kids over usually means that my gaming time is limited, for the most part. Sure, I get to play some games, but depending on what we actually do while I have them obviously determines which games I play and for how long. And yeah, I play games still that I don't write about while the kids are over here, but there are also games I play with them that I wouldn't normally play unless they were over, so I figure I might as well write about those games. Makes sense, right?
Well, one of those games is Skylanders Cloud Patrol, which I played with my daughter. When she comes over, her favorite thing to do is play on my iPad, as I have filled that thing with kid games specifically for her, in hopes of keeping her slightly entertained. One of the games I have on there, which I first had on my phone back when it was first released last year, was this game, and to be completely honest, I can't say I only put this game on the iPad for her. Truth is, I actually enjoy this game quite a bit.
Of course, that might have a lot to do with my somewhat-secret affinity for the Skylanders franchise as a whole. I freaking love Skylanders. I love the idea behind it, I really enjoy the simplicity yet still difficult nature of the games, and more than anything else, I love collecting all the figurines, despite how expensive it gets. Collecting them reaches down deep into my soul, back to my childhood with baseball cards. Collecting things is an addiction I've never learned how to kick or even handle, and while I'm no where near a hoarder, I have the tendencies to be one. Thankfully, I don't compile or keep around trash and junk. I just have a problem when there is a full series of something to collect, especially when it is difficult to obtain them all (because of limited quantities, especially).
So when Skylanders came out with this mobile game, which was based in the Skylanders universe, but its own stand alone game, I bit at it like a starving shark in an aquarium full of guppies. And I'm glad I did then, as my youngest boy (the big Skylanders fan of the children) and I had a lot of fun playing it together back then. Now, with having it on the iPad, I have the same sort of enjoyment with my daughter, albeit less skilled and more silly.
The game itself is simple. You tap on the screen to shoot trolls as they pop up from behind barrels and boxes. Blast all the trolls in the level to move on to the next. Get hit by their attacks or accidentally shoot a bomb, and your game is over. Throughout each run, you aim for specific challenges, either round-specific ones or cumulative ones, which give you bonus points and that sort of thing. All in all, the main goal is just to aim to beat your high score and make better runs each time you play. You can get bonuses by using Skylanders with the matching element for the day as well, which is a cool way to keep the game somewhat fresh on a regular basis. It doesn't matter which Skylander you choose to play as, since they don't have any specific attacks or traits, but you can unlock different ones in-game or by using the online codes that come with each actual Skylanders figure for the regular game. Basically, it is a neat way to merge the two together, even if it's in a small way.
My daughter likes just shooting stuff as they pop up, just as any four year old should. I worry about combos and bonuses and challenges and high scores, because well, I'm neurotic like that. If I can take anything away from playing games with her, it would be trying to learn how to just have fun with games, enjoying the journey and not worrying about the destination.
I also realized how much I am looking forward to Disney Infinity being released. Oh man...
Well... I didn't see this one coming. I would be lying if I said I did, and if you told me that you predicted that this game was the one I would be playing for this blog entry, we would have to have a little talk about playing the Powerball together. Anyway, as I have said before, I sometimes have a pretty good game plan for the blog, including which games I am going to play. But every once in a while, a game pops up that I end up playing and feel inclined to write about, because really, you can't pass up on these kinds of things.
With that being said, I played Need for Speed Carbon, which may actually be the first racing game I have played and wrote about this year, if I'm not mistaken. I am 227 days into this crazy project, you know, and every once in a while I find myself struggling to remember which games I have not only played, but wrote about. Anyway, I played this game because my oldest boy came over to spend the night at my place, and he brought with him a couple of Xbox 360 games from his house. One of which was Need for Speed Carbon, which he bragged about pretty much completing recently in the lull of his summer vacation.
I'm not entirely sure why he brought it over, but I guess that once you have played a game for so long, you're kind of inclined to keep playing it out of habit's sake. Regardless, he whipped it out of his backpack and we played for a while before grabbing dinner together.
I have to say, if it wasn't for my boy bringing over this game and wanting to play, I never, ever - EVER - would have played this particular game for the blog. Not to say anything bad about this game specifically, because it is serviceable for what it is, but I just don't like racing games. I find little to none enjoyment in playing them, either because they are boring or I just suck too much to be interested in them. When it comes to karting games, however, sign me up. I love, love, LOVE me some Mario kart. But real, simulation style racing games? Well, I haven't liked and had fun with one since the original Project Gotham Racing. Yeah, it's been that long.
Anyway, I don't have much else to say about this game specifically. My boy likes it, and he wanted to play it with me, so I enjoyed my time playing it. But it was definitely all because of the situation and the atmosphere than it was the game itself. And you know what? I couldn't be happier about that.
It's about time. No, literally, it's about freaking time. And no, I'm not just talking about the sub-title for this game, I'm actually saying that it's about time we see a follow up to one of the most popular, well-liked and recognizable games of the last few years: Plants vs. Zombies.
Finally, Plants vs. Zombies 2 was released world wide, and I couldn't be happier.
While it's essentially the same type of game as the first smash-hit, there are several very noticeable differences in this follow up, some of which will take those who haven't been following too closely to the development of this game, by surprise. All in all, it's still Plants vs. Zombies, through and through, and that's a good thing. A really good thing.
First of all, the game is free. No, not just because it's a limited-time promotion or something, as if they were giving it away for the first couple of weeks to gain momentum and hype for the game. It's actually a free game, now and going forward to the foreseeable future. It is one hundred percent free, with a small caveat of course. You see, it is technically a free-to-play game, with the difference being that you don't actually ever have to pay a dime to play this game, continue this game, or complete this game. The entire game - every single bit of it that is available as of launch - can be unlocked in-game, for free. Sure, you can pay money if you so choose, for power-ups, in-game currency or to unlock new levels, but you honestly don't have to. The pay wall is essentially in place for people who are either impatient and don't want to put in the work to unlock everything, or for people who just aren't very good at the game.
Either way, if you have patience and skill and want to put in the time, everything is available without payment. Rejoice and breathe easy, people. This game isn't a cash grab, at least for the most part.
Honestly though, it deserves some money, because you can tell a lot of work and love went in to the making of this game. For what the game is, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous and crisp looking, and make the older game look completely dated, in comparison. On the iPhone 5, it is fantastic, but on the iPad with the retina display? Holy cow, does it show off details I never noticed before, much less thought would have been important until I saw them in this game.
Oh, and by the way, this is iOS exclusive. Sorry, Android users!
So you're probably curious about the whole unlocking thing, right? Well, you do so by collecting stars, and using the stars to unlock secret paths and new levels that lead to all the power-ups and unlockables that you could essentially buy if you wanted to. You collect the stars by going back to previously-beaten levels and completely new and unique challenges in each level, like beating the level with only specific plants, or not allowing the oncoming zombie hoard past a specific place on the map. Collect enough stars from challenges, and viola! No payment necessary.
Speaking of zombies, the many different types of new zombies they added makes the game feel fresh and something you have to figure out all over again. There is also Plant Food in the game, which you can give to any of your plants to give them a boost, aiding your attempt to defeat the zombies. You can buy plant food if you want, or you can just collect it in-game from defeating the glowing zombies that drop the plant food when they fall victim to your horticulture barrage.
Overall, it is fantastic follow up to a game I own on more platforms than I can count. It took far too long for the game to come out, but I'm glad it finally did. And I'm glad they took the free-to-play model and did it their own way, by thanking the die-hard PVZ fans with a ridiculously awesome, completely free game. I hope this is the start of a revolution for this gaming model.
For this blog post, got back and read this one first:
OK, did you read that? Well, all that excitement finally came to fruition, as DuckTales Remastered was finally released, and I couldn't be happier. It's the same game, only updated and upgraded, and exactly what the old game was, just better, fresher. If you never played the old game, don't expect a Game of the Year contender from this one, but for all those kids at heart out there wanting to take a stroll down nostalgia lane, this is exactly what you are looking for.
Truth be told, I really don't have much else to say about this game, because I would rather be playing it right now then writing about it. Plus, the more I think about it while not playing it, the longer the theme song will be stuck in my head. Oh wait, are you unfamiliar with the theme song? Or do you think you are strong enough to avoid the parasite to infect your brain? Well, think again, suckers...
When I first got my gaming laptop and found my way onto the PC gaming scene, one of the first things I wrote about was my longtime desire to play Diablo 3. I actually mentioned how when this game came out, it was almost enough for me back then to get a gaming PC or laptop, just for that game. Well, it obviously didn't happen then, but as you should know by now, I eventually made the leap.
Ever since then, I have vowed to get and play Diablo 3. I jumped into Torchlight 2 first, as I heard it was a great stepping stone for those looking to get in to Diablo 3. I was fairly impressed by the game, but I knew it wasn't exactly what I wanted when I thought of the Diablo-style game play I so wanted to experience. Shortly after that, I actually got Diablo 3, and have been playing it off and on since then. I didn't want to write about it back then, as I wanted to finish it first so I could write about a full experience of the game.
However, because I have been slacking on the game, I never did get around to finishing it. But, my recent enjoyment with Dragon's Crown has inspired me to pick it back up and again and see what happens. So that's what I did, to mixed results, unfortunately.
I really do like this game. It is head and shoulders above Torchlight 2, as far as I am concerned, as I found it much easier to just jump in and get going. Torchlight menus and options and inventory felt cumbersome and more of a hassle than it needed to be, but with Diablo, they definitely streamlined the process of just getting in and playing the game, which as a newcomer to series, I truly appreciate. The game itself has a unique art style that's actually hard to explain. It's great graphically and very crisp, but still has the realistic-painting style that you just need to see to fully appreciate.
The dungeon crawling and looting is what I really wanted from this game though, and thankfully, it delivers in all aspects. Every single bit of it is exactly what I was looking for from a game of this style. While I have been playing this game alone (shocking, right?), I am still having fun running around, creating havoc on the underworld demons throughout the game. But the experience isn't perfect, and I have Dragon's Crown and the Vita to blame.
While Diablo 3 is fantastic in almost all aspects, it falls short in one category. I can't necessarily blame it, however, just as if it's not fair to compare it to Dragon's Crown. You see, that game is Diablo-like, but it's not a true dungeon crawler in the same way Diablo is. But it does something so right that Diablo can't do based on it's design. It is controlled with joyticks and buttons, not the frustrating mouse and keyboard setup. While the mouse clicks works great for combat and decent for moving, it is a straight up pain to use the keyboard to try and bring up inventory and do certain things in the game. Sure, you can do most with the mouse, but when things are getting chaotic, or if I'm not in a position to use a mouse easily, playing this game is not an easy thing to do. Dragon's Crown on the Vita is completely portable and can be played any time, any where you see fit.
Like I said, this isn't a Diablo 3 problem as much as it is a testament to how much I am still enjoying picking up and playing Dragon's Crown when I can. Diablo 3 is still an absolute blast to play, and I hope to push through it eventually and see what the final boss is all about. If it were only coming out on consoles, then maybe I would fully be able to enjoy it as much as I think I should. Oh, wait a second...
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Games played for project : 365