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Video Games
  • Airline Tycoon 2

    I tried playing the original Airline Tycoon and got stuck very early on. Apparently back in 2013 I decided to give Airline Tycoon 2 a shot. You know. Sort of.

    I'm going to be honest. I just can't get the hang of this game. I tried playing the tutorial a bit, and I understand it -better- this time around, and I got flights off the ground (yay!), but this game just hits me with too much, too fast. 

    Once I got to the point where I had bought a plane, fixed it up, hired employees, got a route, and got it in there air ... I was pooped. There so many statistics to keep an eye on. Fuel, maintenance, employee satisfaction, employee competence, how much each route is profitable, whether your customers are happy and that's just the tip of the iceberg. SO MANY NUMBERS.

    So.

    Many.

    Numbers.

    I.

    Can't.

    Even.

    I (think?) I wanted to try it because I love sims, so I thought surely, airplanes would be cool too. And to be fair, they might be, if the numbers and 8,000 things to keep track of were simplified. Just a bit. I mean, because I was on easy mode. 

    So this game is getting uninstalled. I just can't. If I didn't have so many other games, maybe I'd try and plod through it, but life is too short to be incredibly frustrated, or to play games with that many numbers involved. 

  • Age of Empires II

    Next up on my much-neglected but not-quite-forgotten Steam Project is Age of Empires II.

    Age of Empires is a real time strategy game, which, to put it in layman's terms means incredibly stressful war game. 

    I kid. Sort of.

    The first thing I noticed when I started playing the tutorial is that it reminded me of Warcraft III, a game Matt and his friends used to play pretty frequently. Once I understood that, I got the hang of the game a lot faster.

    You collect resources, train up troops, attack your opponents. That's the basic gist. Whereas Warcraft is skinned as Orcs and Elves and Humans, Age of Empires is history based. William Wallace, Joan of Arc, etc.

    I'm not saying that I'm good at this game. Part of the problem is that the real time aspect stresses me out. I'm not particularly good at managing resources when something is attacking me. I panic, and then it's all downhill from there. (In general. I did manage to keep my cool during tutorial mode at least)

    The other, more glaring issue, is that I'm not really much of an antagonist. I don't really want to go around and conquer people. If I could build farms and research technology and do everything BUT the fighting, that would be my kind of game. 

    But since that's not how these games work, I just tend not to be very good at them. See point number one - stresses me out. 

    That said, I did enjoy as much of AOE II as I played. I'm going to come back to it, maybe finish tutorial mode (I have two battles left), and see if I can take on another mini campaign. I don't think I'll be conquering any civilizations any time soon, but I might improve my skill a little bit.

  • 100% Orange Juice

    100% Orange Juice is a cute manga game that I don't remember buying. I think Matt might have bought it for me. It was definitely a steam sale purchase, and the more I think about it, I think there's a co-op feature that we thought we could take advantage of if the game was any good.

    The first thing to know about this game is that there's very little in the way of explanation. You pick a character and a difficulty, and then it dumps you onto this deck building screen. The numbers there indicate how many of that card you can select, and you fill up your deck. There's some traps, boosts, and other ways to mess with other characters. Theoretically cool.

    Once you pick your deck, you're thrown onto a game board. Here's where it reminds me a lot of the mario party games. You either roll dice to move, or you select one of your cards to play. The different colored squares trigger different things like battles, bonuses, or movement. Granted, I set the game speed to "fast", but the game moves SO FAST that there's not a lot of time to figure out what's going on. 

    The other game mechanic is battle. Sometimes you battle random things found on the board, or you can battle each other. Here you can possibly play a card from your deck, or you roll dice to attack/defend. If you look at the picture above, you don't have a whole lotta hit points. I played long enough for a couple characters to get knocked up, but they seemed to be able to roll to stand up again. 

    I gave the game a good twenty minutes of this frantic paced, confusing board game. By the end, I'd played fifteen or so "chapters" (a turn), and I didn't really have a better grasp of the game than when I started as far as objectives went. 

    I'm not sure if the game is fairly easy mechanics-wise, or if there was just a lot that I was missing. I didn't love it. As soon as I'd collected screen shots and enough information to form my opinion, I closed the game and uninstalled it. 

    But at least I now know what it is. 

  • The Steam Project

    I recently replaced my desktop after almost nine years. It was overdue. I mean, it still worked, but I'd turn it on and then go do something for the next ten to fifteen minutes. By then, maybe it would be done loading. Then I'd click on the browser, and if I hadn't waited long enough, I'd have another couple minutes of waiting for that to load. Once it got up to speed, it worked pretty well, as long as you weren't trying to play a game that came out in the last few years. 

    While we got most of my files transferred to the new machine, my steam games didn't quite make it. But, that provides me with a nice little opportunity. If you have steam, you're aware of the joke about steam sales, and how we all buy more games than we can possibly play, and don't quite remember why we bought half of these .99 games. 

    So with this clean slate, I figured I'd install a game, play it, and then tell you about it. It's two birds with one stone - you get to see me fumble through my steam list, and I get to play some games. Win/Win.

  • Borderlands!

    Why did no one tell me that the Borderlands series is awesome?!

    I mean, I'm sure that people did. I even tried to play the original Borderlands a time or two. But it felt really overwhelming. I couldn't get a grip on what was happening, I died too often, and it was just a lot of chaos. 

    Maybe starting out in four player mode wasn't the way to go.

    Matt and I have been hooked on the Telltale games for a little while now. We picked up Tales From the Borderlands a little while ago, even though neither of us had completed a Borderlands game. That game is hilarious and well done - as most Telltale games seem to be. (Well done, I mean. Not all of them are hilarious. I'm looking at you GoT and Walking Dead.) It got us really intrigued about the regular Borderlands games. So we picked up "The Handsome Collection" for the ps4. That contains Borderlands 2 and the pre-sequel. Unfortunately, the original Borderlands isn't available on the ps4, and our ps3 is on the fritz. We both have it on the pc, but we've been really into the console gaming lately. 

    Holy cow, we had so much fun playing Borderlands 2. I can definitely appreciate the characters in the Telltale game more, knowing where they came from. I've never been good at playing shooters on consoles - well, correction, not since Goldeneye N64. So I was pretty sure that I was going to be terrible at Borderlands. And I was. But the game is pretty forgiving, and having a partner who is marginally more competent really helped. At the very least, if he kept pace with my death rate, I didn't feel so bad. 

    But once we got into it and understood how to play our characters a bit better, it was a blast. I can't remember the last game that we both had so much fun playing. 

    We've moved onto the pre-sequel as of a couple nights ago, and that is also a lot of fun. It has even more playable characters, and as a personal perk, half of them are female. 

  • Games, Played and Unplayed

    Matt's been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV lately. At least, I think that's the one he's been playing. It's the mmo that isn't XI. I do like MMOs, but something about seeing them on the TV, I just can't get into. It looks too cluttered to me, and is confusing. I know that makes no sense, because it's the same game on the computer, and a smaller screen at that. But there's something in my brain that likes console games to be simple and uncluttered. 

    When I can wrestle the controller away from him, I've been playing Kingdom Hearts. I played through the original, and now I'm a good portion of the way into Chain of Memories. I don't know that I've been this diligent about playing a game since I was couchbound after my double ankle sprain and sunk many hours into Oblivion. I'm not very good at finishing console games, actually. Truth be told, I had the original Kingdom Hearts for PS2, and never saw the end until Matt played through it for me a few years later. I got to Hollow Bastion, it felt "too hard", and so I just never went back to it. 

    I like games that I feel like I understand, or have a pre-existing connection to. I think that's why Star Wars games (KotOR, SWTOR) have been big hits for me, and why the original Mass Effect sat in plastic forever - but once I played it, I burned through 2 and 3 quickly. I haven't been able to finish (or play much of) Dragon Age: Inquisition, because it feels like SUCH a different game from the previous two that it severed that connection for me. It doesn't feel like the same world, so I've had a hard time getting into it.

    Same vague problem with Skyrim for me. I loved Oblivion, but Skyrim felt JUST different enough that I couldn't really get into it. So now I've played through Oblivion and all the expansions at least once more since then and still haven't played Skyrim. 

    At least playing Kingdom Hearts was the same game that I've more-or-less seen twice, just prettier graphics. Same goes for Chain of Memories - I understand the concept of the game, and I've seen it played before, so it feels familiar. I'm not sure how I'll do with Birth By Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, or whatever else comes between 1 and 2, because neither of us have played those. They're unfamiliar

    But, it's been kind of nice to play a game. It's one of those things that feels like a core part of myself, and when I don't play anything for a while, it's weird. Last time I had this feeling, I spent a couple weeks engrossed in Zuma - so at least this is an upgrade. 

    I picked up Sims 4 around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I played it once or twice. It's not that it wasn't good, I just have to have the 'bug' for it. Plus, I heard that they introduced toddlers into the game, and I don't know if that's *optional*, so I've been too chicken to check. (Toddlers in Sims are just obnoxious, imo)

    I had started playing SWTOR again shortly before Mikenna died - it was a good mental break, something just for ME. Then I had the worst week of my life, and I've had a hard time getting back into it. They've since released an expansion and some content, so naturally, when I signed back in, everything looked different again. :SIGH: It's frustrating (to me) to sign into a game that I know, and feel like I know nothing all over again. I need to either bite the bullet and cancel or actually sit down and play it. 

    I meant to charge my DS something over a month ago, and haven't done that yet. Before that, I was playing quite a bit of Hyrule Warriors. That game is an excellent time sink. 

    Well, Cuppie has come along and is scampering across my legs. I think that means it's time to go give the kittens some attention. 

  • The water is yarn!

    Matt bought me Yoshi's Woolly World for Christmas - and while I thought it looked neat, I think he was more excited about it than I was. (It's not surprising, I love the -idea- of platformers, but they are generally not kind to me.)

    The first thing I want to say about this game is that it is so cute. Even Matt says so. It is bright and colorful, and everything is made of yarn. The platforms, the baddies, the background - just about everything. (I think the koopa troopa shells are made from buttons, and some of the shy guys carry crochet hooks like lances.) The world being "woolly" isn't just a base concept, it's something this game follows through on. Some bosses are defeated by Yoshi pulling a string hanging off of them. It's a very cute, playful concept, and Matt and I are constantly cracking up while playing it.

    Also, the game is just so well executed. We really enjoyed Little Big World a few years ago - but it was so frustrating at times. Some of the mechanics just didn't work very well, and it took effort for me to enjoy the game at points. It was a great concept, but sometimes the clunkiness took away from it. Yoshi is very well-polished. If I can't make it onto a ledge, it's not because I'm not executing the jump properly, it's because there's a piece of the puzzle I'm missing. It's not that the game is super easy, but it's a game that clearly wants you to enjoy the time you spend with it, and not sit there grinding your teeth in frustration.

    This is also a game that appeals to both Matt and I and plays on our strengths. I love experiencing levels, and if I manage to collect things, then yay! Matt, however, is a completionist. If there are 100 things, he wants to comb through the levels until he's found them all. So, we've been taking turns with the controllers, and each of us get the experience we want. There's also a co-op mode, which I might be willing to try so long as we're not trying to collect things. There's nothing worse than running off the edge into a pit because you didn't notice that your fellow Yoshii was on the other side of the screen grabbing gems.

    There are badges to unlock that give little boosts - the one I like makes you bounce off the bottom of the screen when you fall into a pit, rather than setting you to the last save point. So you can make the game as challenging or as breezy as you want. You do have to pay for the badges though, so I use them sparingly, because I am a gem hoarder)

    But the best thing, in my humble opinion, is that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Yoshiis to unlock. There are skeins of yarn to collect in each level - collect the skeins of yarn for that level, and a new Yoshii is assembled. But better yet, this game is compatable with amiibos. I kid you not, this is the first time I've been genuinely excited about having tracked down those impossible little figurines. Almost all of the smash brothers amiibos are compatible with the game - the notable exception being the pokemon amiibos. It's so neat. Seriously. They put some real thought into every element of this game, and it shows. I'm used to playing games where I have to make excuses (they ran out of time, surely) for the flaws. Not so here. This game is absolutely great. If you have a Wii U, I highly recommend it. If you don't, between this, Mario Kart, and Hyrule Warriors, the system is something to consider purchasing.

    YOSHII!!!

  • Fallout into Oblivion

    We've been spending a lot of time on the couch lately. I can put my feet up (as long as Koo lets me have a sliver of the little ottoman), and it's easy enough to have whatever I want at my fingertips. While we have lots of things we could watch, we've been really enjoying playing games.

    It's been fun, having everybody crammed together, all more-or-less doing the same thing. I don't know how long it'll last, before we decide to go back into our separate offices and play games or work on things by ourselves, but for now ... I like it.

    We started with The Wolf Among Us. Now, I'm a bit of a chronic repeater. Once I decide that I like a game, I tend to go back to that game over and over again. So getting me into something that I'm unfamiliar with can be a bit of a chore. But that game was amazing! At around 8 hours of gameplay (give or take), it was nice and short. As a heavily story driven game, it was right up my alley, and had I realized (or remembered; there's always the chance that Matt told me) that it was based around fairy tale creatures, I would have been on board sooner. Very well done story, and now Matt and I are both hooked on Telltale games.

    I've also been playing Need for Speed Rivals. While I love story driven games, I also have a soft spot for racing games. I picked up Need for Speed Underground (2?) for the PS2 years ago, and played the living daylights out of that game. But when subsequent games added the dynamic of running from the cops and my anxiety was a big problem, I couldn't really play them anymore. But we picked up Rivals a while back, because I wanted to see if, with my anxiety under control, I'd have better luck. The answer is yes. I still think that I liked Underground 2 better, but I'm having a lot of fun going back and forth between playing as a cop and playing as a racer. I am utterly terrible at busting racers, though. It's not for lack of trying.

    Now Matt and I are alternating between Fallout 3 and Oblivion, depending on who is at the controller. We both like to watch the other play, and the other person can work on stuff if they're so inclined. They're both games that we've played to some degree before, but if you've played a Bethesda game, you know that there's almost infinite possibilities.

    We have no shortage of PS3 games to keep us going, and it's really nice to see our console get some use outside of being a netflix machine. I like to pretend that maybe we'll clear out some of our backlog of games, but who am I kidding?

    Matt and I had been throwing around the idea of picking up a PS4, but now...I think we're going to wait a while. We're having a lot of fun with what we have, and I know that if we pick up a PS4, we'll immediately drop all the PS3 games that we're enjoying so much. I know, because that's exactly what we did with the PS2 games when we got our PS3.

    At any rate, this year on a whole, Matt and I have both played a lot more games than in the couple years previously, while not really at the expense of other things we love. It's a nice balance, and man ... I have enjoyed it.

    So I have to admit, as much as this whole ankle saga has been incredibly unfun - this part of it has been great. I love spending time with Matt and our girls, and playing games too.

  • Indie games: The Blackwell series

    Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

    Lately, as Matt gets ready for bed, I've been running to the microwave, heating up some water for tea, grabbing a biscotti, and hunkering down with some indie games that I picked up during the most recent Steam sale.

    Hey, $1.99 for four games. A girl's got to have some vices, at least mine are cheap.

    They're by Wadjet Eye games, a small indie company based in NYC. Wikipedia tells me that they have four employees, which makes these games even more impressive.

    The games are the Blackwell series - Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Convergence, and Blackwell Deception being the ones in the bundle I purchased. The series' conclusion, Blackwell Epiphany is also available, but that's getting a bit ahead of things.

    These games are fun and absorbing. They're all point and click mystery games. You are a medium, whose unofficial job is to help wandering spirits find peace. Along the way, you'll find out why they died, and the story is usually far more complex than it first appears.

    I love that these games are fairly short. I finished the third game earlier this evening, and each one has taken me a little under three hours. I've read that the last two games are longer, though we're certainly not talking 80 hour epics. For me, that's a great amount of time - sometimes it's difficult to invest weeks into a game, or maybe I just don't want to. But the Blackwell games are addictive and engrossing, and I can chew through one in a couple of tea and biscotti sittings.

    So if you're looking for a fun little indie experience, check these games out. You can find them on the Wadjet Eye Games website, or on Steam. Even not steeply discounted during a sale, I think these games are a blast that's worth the price. Plus, supporting indie developers is an awesome thing to do. :)