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    Ultimate NES Remix (3DS)    by   jp       (Oct 6th, 2016 at 17:54:38)

    I booted this up yesterday and it's AMAZING. I'm speaking as a game educator mostly, as a player I had fun. But as an educator, it's AMAZING.

    When Warioware first came out I remember a lot of discussion about how interesting it was as a distillation of fundamental game elements. Here was a game that really made those basic "verbs" clear and visible. Yes, they were adorned with the slimmest of fantasy (cultural context), but in essence it was the game verbs laid bare. There weren't many verbs, to be fair, but it was interesting to see how the same verbs could be utilized so widely and diversely.

    Ultimate NES Remix takes the same idea - showing core gameplay - but does so in the context of actual games. It's brilliant, amazing, super clear and I really want to use it in class. I don't know how. But I want to. So far I've only seen a few of the games it includes, but I've been impressed.

    The way the game works is that each title has a set of challenges - sometimes these are "do this one thing" while other times you have sub-challenges. Once you've done that, you get a star rating. The rating is based on time and how you did (did you lose a few lives along the way?) For the most part the challenges are really short and they illustrate key parts of each game's gameplay.

    For example, for Donkey Kong one set of challenges required you to jump over barrels. For another you had to destroy barrells with the hammer, for another you just had to get to the top (and you began almost there). If you take all of the together - you get a really good sense of what all the little bits and pieces of Donkey Kong are AND, they are all playable!

    It's genius.

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    Jazzpunk (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Oct 2nd, 2016 at 09:26:33)

    Jazzpunk is a bizarre little game about a spy. It would fall under genres of adventure and comedy. The comedy resonated with me. It looks sort of like a Brendan Chung game. It is hard to describe.

    The Director of an espionage organization sends you on several missions. One is to assassinate a cowboy in Tokyo. When you find the restaurant he is in, you are supposed to get to the back room, but the chef is in the way. The chef discloses that he is afraid of spiders, so you collect some spiders in a jar and throw them in his face. You find a poisonous fish, and proceed to use it as a weapon, squirting poison at everyone and using it to kill the cowboy. This results in some special forces coming to nab you. As you flee, you stumble upon a side quest wherein you must swat flies in a vase shop, resulting in many broken vases and a new fly swatter. I started swatting NPCs and one time an NPC turned into a giant fly, sprouted bug eyes and wings, buzzed angrily, and flew away. So I swatted more people, and many turned into flies.

    See? It's bizarre. The next thing that happens is always unexpected. There are a ton of references to movies and old video games. There is a side quest where you help a frog retrieve something in the road (Frogger), a wedding cake you can interact with that puts you in a game called Wedding Qake (a wedding-themed Quake where weapons include uncorking bottles of champagne, a cake mini-gun, and when you kill someone the announcer says things like "Left at the altar" and "Brutal matrimony;" it was hilarious), a Street Fighter parody of that bonus round where you destroy a car, except the car talks (upon defeat one time, it said "I have brought shame to my manufacturing plant"), and more.

    And to sum it all up, the end credits take place inside an alligator's intestinal tract. That doesn't ruin anything because there is no alligator in the game until the very end and you won't see it coming because (what have I said?) this game is unpredictable and silly. Love it. Would play another.

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    Gone Home (PS4)    by   jp       (Sep 30th, 2016 at 09:32:15)

    Once again late to the party. On the other hand it's nice to play something once all the hype has died down. As expected, it didn't take me long to finish and I've since been back to pick up a few trophies and listen to the developer commentary.

    I don't really understand all the hype and accolades to be honest. I enjoyed the experience, feel it was well executed, but it would be a real stretch to say that I was "blown away". Maybe it's because I knew about the nature of the missing sister's relationship? Hmmm...

    The highlight of the experience for me was a UI issue rather than the game itself. I'm also glad that it was brought up in the developer commentary as well, because I think it's a real (small, but still significant) innovation (or, to be fair, innovation to me).

    As an exploration game, you can wander around and pick up things to examine them all the time. It's part of what makes the game interesting - being curious about the items in the game. However, most games make it really easy to make a mess - once you've picked something up it's tricky to put it back exactly where it was. More often than not you end up dropping or throwing stuff. The end result is that rather than examining a place you end up acting like a crazy looter leaving a mess as you move from room to room. In a post-apocalyptic setting this doesn't really bother me (hey, I'm scavenging), but in a game like this one - where you're playing someone who's returning home - the idea that you'd leave everything upturned and askew jars too much. So, the solution? Whenever you pick up an object there's a "return" option that lets you put it back where it was in exactly the same position! Genius!

    The developer commentary in fact describes how they realized they needed to implement this because playtesters reported feeling bad about trashing the house...

    More broadly I think the feature reflects a real interest in subtly reinforcing (or at least not acting against) the narrative situation and role-playing the player is put in: you're returning to your parents home, this is a new place for you, but people you care about live here.

    There's another moment in the game that also reflects this care. At one point you find a crumpled note in a dustbin. When you examine it, after a few seconds the player is interrupted by the character you're playing who basically closes the note up and refuses to read it - too much of an invasion of her sister's privacy. It's a small touch, but a nice reminder and nudge to the player that they're home and that the character they're playing might not really want to go along with some things. It works surprisingly well without feeling too jarring - perhaps because it's only done once.

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    The Bridge (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Sep 20th, 2016 at 18:26:53)

    Didn't realize I was so close to the end of The Bridge. This is a cool puzzle game that I played most of on an airplane last month. It's a cross between Braid (rewind time, and looks similar too) and And Yet It Moves, an old indie platformer I played forever ago where you rotate the screen to manipulate obstacles and move your character. A clever mash-up indeed.

    The Bridge adds boulders that can roll over you, phasing (you click switches to turn from light to dark, which affects the objects you can interact with), wind direction that you can manipulate, and Escher-esque levels. The game isn't particularly difficult until right toward the end, and I admit to YouTubing the final two levels. I think I would have figured out the next-to-last eventually, but not the last one. I've read over and over again that it took people like 1-3 hours to figure it out, and I'm not that patient.

    It'd be nice if there was more of a story. I'm not even sure what the context was. You're a guy, maybe a physics professor or something, and you have a house, and in your house are a bunch of rooms that are the levels of the game. Is something lost in there? No, you don't ever find anything. Are you exploring the mysteries of time and space? Maybe...I have no idea. There is some cryptic text scattered around that was so cryptic I don't even remember what it said. Something about existence maybe.

    Story or not, the puzzles were clever and I felt fairly smart figuring things out. It does rely too much on physics and trial and error, but you have to get the gist of what's going on before you can get too too far.

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    The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Sep 20th, 2016 at 15:56:03)

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. The Book of Unwritten Tales was a great point-and-click adventure. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2...I'm 4.5 hours in and bored, bored, bored. It started off great, opening with the elf princess Ivo and some cute characters (Cheep, her pet/guardian bird, and a little ent who is the gardener at the castle). Ivo is supposed to marry some elf prince whom she doesn't like, and her mom mostly complains about Ivo and calls her fat. Well, she wasn't just being insensitive because Ivo finds out that she's actually pregnant. Mystery! There's a running joke that she doesn't know what sex is, and also doesn't know how she got pregnant.

    So during the opening of the game, you are trying to help Ivo escape from her parents' castle. That part was pretty good. As in the first game, the female voice actors are top notch. Thennnn, the game goes to Wilbur Weathervane, the gnome mage from the first game. He's just gotten a job as a professor at some college and he mostly doesn't know what he's doing. He is not. funny. at. all. I've wandered all over the college, talked to the headmaster, listened to the story of political intrigue there that is not intriguing at all, and I have to do a bunch of chores like clean cobwebs and get rid of dirt in the hallway. It is really boring.

    The art is colorful and vibrant, and the music is nice enough. It's the same interface and all from the last game, which I enjoyed because it's logical (not typical point-and-click game logic) and you can press space bar to highlight all interactable things on screen. Characters have quips and stories to tell about every object. I think the difference so far is that Ivo's conversations are very world-building and made me curious, but Wilbur's come off as inane observations and poor humor. For example, you can read through files in the headmasters office, and many of them are just bad puns.

    I might be giving up too soon, but I don't care. After 4.5 hours, I should be more interested. Where is the paladin from the first game, or the behind-the-scenes MMO? Where are the big jokes and parodies of video game culture and genres? Not a whole lot so far, though I did appreciate the parody of MMO fishing (and you even fish up a hat--"the uglier the hat, the better fisherman it makes you"--great reference to WoW). And supposedly this game is about 25 hours long, twice as long as the first one. I can't play for more than 45 minutes at a time! I get bored or start to fall asleep. It's just not that fun, and I rarely want to play! Very chore-like!

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    GameLog hopes to be a site where gamers such as yourself keep track of the games that they are currently playing. A GameLog is basically a record of a game you started playing. If it's open, you still consider yourself to be playing the game. If it's closed, you finished playing the game. (it doesn't matter if you got bored, frustrated,etc.) You can also attach short comments to each of your games or even maintain a diary (with more detailed entries) for that game. Call it a weblog of game playing activity if you will.

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    1 : jp's Ultimate NES Remix (3DS)
    2 : jp's Gone Home (PS4)
    3 : dkirschner's Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC)
    4 : dkirschner's Jazzpunk (PC)
    5 : dkirschner's The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (PC)
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    1 : dkirschner at 2016-05-15 18:25:56
    2 : tjazz at 2016-03-04 14:54:12
    3 : jp at 2016-03-04 09:44:54
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    NFL Blitz (N64)    by   eazya

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 9 February, 2008

    The more I played the more I discovered about this game, and how it can be complicated. If you sack the quarterback twice in a row, then your team is on "fire". This gives you unlimited turbo running and an advantage over the other team. You tackle harder and the computer plays better on your team. It is possible to get it while on offense, you just have to pass and complete it to the receiver that blinks before the play. If you get fire on offense, it is a lot more useful because you are harder to tackle, and can throw the ball incredibly far.
    When people try to tackle you, the character just drags them on their back until tackled again by another player. This sometimes can mean the difference between a touchdown or not, which makes it really unfair for the other player.

    All this mayhem contributes to a great conversation between the players. A lot of trash talking is involved and game outcomes disrupted from the crazy rules of blitz. If you have 4 people playing, or at least another person on your team, it allows for a lot more strategy that the computer is incapable of. One example is the computer doesn't tackle the player until they actually catch the ball, which allows for unnecessary risks. You can just continuously tackle the player and not allow for any open targets on the field. On offense the player can actually knock over the defender, and create your own route. You don't have to follow what the play the quarterback chose.


    This is a very fun game to play, but the passing mechanics are really not user friendly. It gets very frustrating and annoying at times. The way the passing works is by highlighting one of the 3 receivers by moving your joystick to one of three options: right, left, and down or up or middle. Those choose between the receiver on the right, left, and the one in between them. This leads to many mis-passes and passing to people that are knocked over. Accidentally passing it to the wrong person is very likely. Especially if the receivers are running a route where they run past each other and switch field position. There are even more mistakes because sometimes a receiver will be running a route off the screen, where you can't see. So you think you are passing it to the guy on the left, but you actually are eying the guy in the middle. So you end up passing to a guy that isn't standing or that isn't open.

    The more I played the more I found out the probability of fumbling on a onside kick are exponentially increased. So there is really no point in kicking it all the way down the field, because there is a large chance they will just hail marry it down the field. It is very easy for the receiver to out run the defender, and let a 80 yard pass/touch down happen. If you are going to stop them, you have sack them and obtain fire or just take out the receiver quick enough, so it doesn't matter if they are all the way down the field or close to the touchdown. Therefore an onside kick is one of the best strategies in this game, you have a huge probability of obtaining re-possession of the ball. This can easily lead to another touchdown. I actually went on a few sprees were I scored 3 or 4 touch downs in a row, then still lost. It almost seems like if you are the first to start winning in the game, the odds are put against you and you fumble easier and throw more picks. This allows for anyone to win this game if they can just grasp the basic concept of it.

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