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Summer video-game round up (31 Aug 2015 at 23:05)
This is the busiest time of year for me at work, so I haven't had much time to finish and projects, and I try to spend that energy on non-computer stuff. (Up now, to complement the wood work: Welding!) My NES emulator stuff is very nearly finished and about to pay off, though I'd be surprised if I have a video put together before November. One day I will have lots more free time. For now I am boring!

I do also unwind with video games, for which I have some short recommendations and non-recommendations:

Crypt of the Necrodancer Wow, I loved this game! The pitch sounds ridiculous: A cross between Dance Dance Revolution and dungeon-crawlers like Rogue. But somehow, it really works great. The music is not complicated; with a few exceptions you pretty much just have to take a step on every beat. And all but crazy people just play on a keyboard, not a real dance pad. It seems so daunting at first, but you start to learn how to use the items right, and the patterns of the enemies, and you realize it has a lot of depth and it's possible to be really, really good at it, and then that next achievement you thought you'd never even attempt starts to seem attainable. It's not quite as polished and balanced as Spelunky, but it might be half as good as that game, which is saying a lot.


Axiom Verge was a very good "Metroidvania" (I hate this genre name and like to call it "exploration platformer", but nobody knows what that means). It has great controls and gets loads of details right (like tuning and timing certain sound effects to the music). Some flaws, but about as good as, say, Metroid Fusion, which is impressive given that it was all made by a single person.


Inescapable, on the other hand was billed as the "best Metroidvania I didn't play", which as far as I know used to be true, but I played it and it was super disappointing. To give you some sense: There are only three different enemy sprites in the game, and two different types of environments; the rest is made up with palette switches. Not worth it.


Please, Don't Touch Anything Is a mostly straightforward single-screen clicky adventure to find all the endings. But it is short and charming and has great graphics and music, plus shout outs to a bunch of favorites of mine.


Battlefield: Hardline. I still play pretty much every first-person shooter that comes out, and almost always enjoy them whether they're good or bad. This one was only "OK"; some cute stuff but not nearly as impressive (neither technically or in art direction) as Battlefields 3 and 4. It was weird that you are supposedly a cop and can arrest people, or you can just shoot everyone you see, and never face any repercussions or even like personal regret. I only tried the single player. I banned myself from multiplayer in Battlefield and Call of Duty after I somehow found myself grinding for hours a day in order to get a service star (100 kills) for every weapon (75 of them). After I finished I promptly deleted the game in disgust and never looked back.


TIS-100 Is a strange game that I can't imagine anyone liking unless you're a programmer (and if you like it, you are a programmer and should consider also programming computers). But it is good programming puzzles on a weird computer. The main disappointment for me was that while programming for old limited architectures is really fun even in the modern era, using old software tools is not. Manually renumbering instructions instead of like using a symbolic assembler just felt like a chore. Still, recommended.


Some others I played recently and liked: The Talos Principle, La-Mulana, Kentucky Route Zero, Rex Rocket.

IN OTHER NEWS, The Great Race 10K is on my birthday again this year. Last time it was on my birthday I ran with a cake and last year it was balloons. I have a few candidate ideas, but nothing has quite stuck in my mind yet, so if you have suggestions, let's hear 'em!
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MrBawn (66.171.188.130) – 09.02.15 15:50:23
Presents, of course!
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Adhesion (c-66-30-117-120.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) – 09.05.15 13:52:05
Most of my video game time is being absorbed by MGSV & Bloodborne right now, but I really want to get back into Necrodancer & La Mulana. How did you find the difficulty curve of La Mulana? Seemed really daunting to me starting out, but I only played an hour of it or so.
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Tom 7 (pool-173-75-25-122.pitbpa.fios.verizon.net) – 09.06.15 21:36:12
La-Mulana was good, and I don't think you'll regret the suffering if you like that kind of game (it's an odd one, though). The difficulty curve is weird; definitely the first part of the game was a turn-off for me and I wouldn't have continued if not for the fact that the game is pretty legendary. But I think part of that is just getting used to the totally punishing controls and the way the game presents itself, and that once you get used to it, it's totally fine (the controls are actually very precise, but it's almost like a puzzler at times). Boss fights were probably the hardest part, but fair. If you do undertake it, I recommend having a low threshold for looking at a guide. Probably almost nobody has beat that game without some hints; several puzzles are extremely obscure, to the point of seeming unfair by modern standards.
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