There’s nothing coming out this week. Big surprise, I know. But as we start off the year, it’s a sharp turn from the weekly hit parade that is the holiday season. Still, as the 2013 Backlog Challenge rolls on, my weekly focus will hopefully shift from “what’s coming out this week” to “what have I played this week”. This is a  week to play games, so set’em up, strap yourself in, and get to it!

Friday, 3:27 pm – Albert

I hear that Spec Ops: The Line has an interesting story but something has kept me from purchasing the game, even though a heavy price drop in the Steam sales. I think it’s because I fell victim to COD:BLOPS and dude bros shooters and their yearly iterations. Given that, I feel I can’t really take military FPS’ intentions seriously. It’ll take some time to heal. Time heals all wounds.

What i’m really enjoying is SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPYYY DOOOGSSSSSSS! I really enjoy the fighting in the game and rolling around with customized clothes and cars and then jumping out and breaking legs and arms of thugs is highly addictive. There is nothing like breaking a guy arm and then dragging him over to a table saw and saw’in his face off. Or beating a guy up and using his own knife to stab him to death then throwing it and hitting one of his comrades in the chest. Oh, did I mention this game is extremely violent? Yeah…. it has some of that. But the story is actually pretty interesting. While it’s a “undercover cop story where he grapples between his character and reality”, it has a decent plot line. The collectibles are fun to grab and make sense. I.e. pray at this shrine and get health! Logic! Also, date women and get information on where cameras, races, lockboxes, and statues are! Women… wealth of knowledge! Also, Hong Kong. Looks great. Conclusion: Amazing game.

There is also Knights of Pen and Paper. PLAY THAT GAME. Mobile turn based fantasy rpg at its finest. Single handedly ruining my sleep schedule.

Friday, 12:21 pm – Gavin

I realize that one of the games I didn’t recognize as part of my “game of the year” discussion on the podcast was Dear Esther.  I know it had its standalone major release in 2012, but it was still a remake of a mod that is several years old.  Kind of like how I couldn’t call Black Mesa game of the year – amazing execution, but it’s an old idea.  Dear Esther will hold a special place in my heart, but I just can’t call it a 2012 game.

This weekend is pretty busy for me, so I’ll be playing some short level-based games.  I’ve talked about Nightsky in the past, a wonderful side-scrolling puzzle-based platformer.  I got this as part of the Humble Bundle IV and I’m loving it.  It’s a huge challenge in parts, but it’s just terrific execution.  Wonderful art style and art direction, well-balanced physics and a great learning curve.  Highly recommended that you try it out, if you can.

I’m aching to start Spec Ops: The Line.  If I can clear some time on Saturday afternoon, then that’s my go-to.  I know I’ve got tons of games and I swear, I don’t want to keep pushing Skyrim down to the bottom of the pack, but I suppose these are the consequences one must deal with when one has too much choice.

Friday, 8:47 am – Ricky

Douche point of order recognized. The defense submits a nerd apology to the prosecution, then rests its case.

It’s almost the weekend, and that means game time! What’s everyone playing?

Wednesday, 9:24 am – Gavin

Douche point of order: it was Adam Jensen who said “I never asked for this”.  JC Denton’s line-du-jeu was “What a shame.”

I applaud nVidia’s attempts, but brand loyalty goes a long way when it comes to gaming hardware.  Nintendo absolutely rules the roost in handheld gaming and the Vita, while a bit of a sales disappointment, at least has Sony’s name going for it with respect to casual gamers.  nVidia is a good hardware designer for sure, but they’ll have an uphill battle getting buy-in outside of the niche.  Same problem with Razer.  Remember that 7″ gaming laptop they wanted to release last year?  Outstanding specs, but a) game compatibility was low, and b) IT COST $2800.

I see the merit in piece of hardware from Valve, but it’s something I’ll never need.  For those who don’t game on the PC for various reasons, most likely that their hardware isn’t powerful enough, it’s a perfect way to buy a piece of hardware that will be stable and will work consistently with Steam’s games.  For those who already game on PC, it’s utterly redundant and you can extend the life of your PC substantially by simply investing in the new parts as required.  A $400 graphics card will go a very, very long way in keeping your PC running full-tilt for years.

I would wager that aside from announcing Steam’s compatibility with Linux, the only thing that people want to hear from Valve is the release date for Half-Life 3.

Tuesday, 8:35 pm – Ricky

Yeah, I tried to explain to a buddy of ours what Frog Fractions was – he seemed perplexed, but promised to try it. That’s just the nature of the fractioned frog.

Looks like there’s been quite a bit of new hardware news out of CES in Las Vegas. The graphics chip manufacturer nVidia announced the portable console called Shield, and Steam let loose the long-rumored Steam Box, code named Piston. You can read about them at the links linked, but you can read my opinion here:

I don’t care.

I have no desire to play PC games from my couch. If I did, I’d buy the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of games, designed specifically for use with a controller. Yes, some PC games have native controller support, but some PC games also promise to be the greatest thing since JC Denton muttered “I never asked for this”. Sometimes they deliver, but most of the time, they don’t. And yes, it’s Valve, the company that can do no wrong. We’ll see, I guess.

As for nVidia, they obviously haven’t seen who they’re competing with. Nintendo still rules the handheld market, even if the 3DS got off to a slow start. Vita is still picking up steam, but admittedly, it’s still struggling for a foothold in the market. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, Apple, Windows 8, Android, all of these OS developers/manufacturers have a vested interest in the mobile gaming market, and have arguably exerted a ton of influence on its direction already. I just have to wonder what nVidia is playing at… Thoughts?

Tuesday, 8:43 am – Gavin

I missed out on the SportsFriends Kickstarter campaign, but I’m glad that Ricky picked it up, because HOLY GOD Hokra and J.S. Joust were an absolute blast.  The ideas for both are painfully simple, but they’re executed incredibly well.  I first got to play Hokra at GamerCamp back in the fall.  I’d never heard of it, and just saw a few people messing around with it.  It’s a simple territorial team sport where the goal is to bring the ball to one of your corners.  The art style is almost non-existent – you play as a plain square, and the ball is a slightly smaller square, but it’s elegant in its simplicity.  It requires four players and it’s local-only, but if you can satisfy those requirements, you’ll have an incredibly fun experience.

J.S. Joust was a hoot and was almost not even a “video game”.  Four players each hold a PS Move controller, and must keep it upright while trying to physically push over the other players’ controllers.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but you can’t push too hard or your own controller will fall over.  Requires almost no coordination and experience with video games, but it was a hoot and a half.

And then, SpaceTeam.  I’d heard about this through Idle Thumbs, and was curious to try it, or rather to see how this game that requires that you speak to your partners actually works.  It’s essentially a board game with time pressures.  “Battleship with a timer” is how I heard it described.  Using an i-Device, you connect to the web, start a game with your friends, and then you must shout out commands while obeying the commands of the people who are shouting at you.  It’s stressful and panic-inducing and requires incredible teamwork and coordination.  We made it to level 9 on my first playthrough.  Highly recommended.

As I mentioned, my game of the year for 2012 was motherf***ing Frog Fractions.  It’s a flash-based homage to early-90s educational video games.  I will tell you nothing else about it, except that you must experience it, and that it will change your whole outlook on life.  FROG FRACTIONS.  I was really shocked at how much I adored this game, especially considering some of the behemoths it went up against in 2012.  But you must experience it.

Monday, 3:39 pm – Ricky

Hokra! We got Hokra here! We played this, J.S. Joust and Spaceteam on Friday before and after the podcast. Local multiplayer games are really fantastic, and often more enjoyable than online multiplayer.

We have our Independant Games Festival finalists! Lots of Canadian studios and talent are represented, including one of our favourite Gamercamp titles, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. I plan to download Cart Life at some point (it’s free!) – it’s been on my list since the Idle Thumbs crew discussed it on a podcast late last year.

Monday, 3:03 pm – Albert

Everything is like a game!

Speaking of games, the one game (besides SLEEEEEPPPYYDDOOGSSS) that i’ve had on my mind is on this video below!

Monday, 10:27 am – Ricky

I’m late, so sue me.

Didn’t have a chance to play anything this weekend, but we did put out a loooooong podcast! That’s kind of like playing a game, right?