Saturday, January 4, 2014

No Game New Year: Introduction and quick indie game impressions

There's a common problem when it comes to video games, especially for adults with full time jobs. Video games are hyped up upon initial release to drum up sales, and so sometimes you end up purchasing a game because it sounds really good. Other times you may show restraint on initial release, but then the sales come up and you can't resist. Things like the Humble Bundles and Steam sales mean lots of us purchase PC games simply because they are priced at $5 or less. Unfortunately, our limited amount of free time means we hardly ever play these games, and many go untouched.

On January 2nd, Norman Caruso, also known as The Gaming Historian, made a post proclaiming his New Year's resolution to not purchase any new games in 2014, and instead focus on the games he owns and hasn't played. This is something I have told myself I would do before, and while it has stopped me from purchasing a few games, I've had trouble sticking to it. I'm hoping that, just as Norman suggests, if I track this online it will help keep me accountable and avoid temptation. Because I have a lot of games I need to play.

Going through it all last night, I found a total list of 48 games between my 3DS, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC that I either played a little bit of and then stopped, or simply purchased/downloaded and never touched at all. You can check the NGNY page for a complete list. I don't anticipate finishing all of them this year, but I hope to at least try out a bunch of them and get through as many as I can. I will also try to stream some of them, either on or 3DS games and long term RPGs not included, if there's a game you'd like to see me play by all means let me know. I will also post reviews here as I finish games.

One of the first games I want to get through is The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, as I was really enjoying the game but hit a difficulty curve. I think I am mostly in need of upgrading my armor so that hits won't do quite as much damage. If that doesn't work, I may just have to admit that I'm not a good enough player to finish that one and move on.

I also went ahead and went through my Steam account and tried out some games I had got as part of a Humble Indie Bundle ages ago but never played:

  1. Aquaria - I will probably return to this one again, as I currently only gave it 15 minutes. Jak was with me and it was boring for him to watch.  The first person narrative is a little silly and the swimming controls are a little difficult in tight curves but it has potential.
  2. Bastion - This game tells you that WASD keyboard controls are ideal for the game, but sets the game on an isometric plane, where you'll pretty much always have to move in a diagonal direction.  What a terrible idea.  I also have this on the Xbox, so I may try again with a controller where I can move around properly, but with a keyboard it was completely impossible.
  3. Gish - Speaking of poor design, wow.  When I can only barely get through your tutorial and get stuck on the first level, you're doing something wrong.  Jumping was impossible, as I couldn't understand what they were trying to tell me the trick to it was.  Sticking to things also didn't work well at all as I would stick to the floor as much as the walls, and I was apparently supposed to jiggle the controls until it detached.  Just miserable.
  4. Lugaru HD - It looks like a poor 3D model demo for building anthropomorphic rabbits, with only basic trees and mountains in the background.  I played the tutorial before jumping into the game and the combat got increasingly more complicated.  When I finally decided to just jump in, I was greeted by a poor attempt at introducing a story and clumsy 3D platforming.  I won't be returning to this one.
  5. Super Meat Boy - This looks like a well designed platformer, great music and decent puzzles.  But much like the more difficult Mario levels and Mega Man games, it's not my strongest type of game.  They recommended a controller, which I didn't use, and I can see how that would help a lot.  I may try again with one.
  6. Superbrothers: Swords and Sorcery EP - I played through the first level of this one.  It took me a little bit to figure out what the game wanted me to do, but once I got the hang of it I was intrigued by the art style, music, and story.  I'll definitely be continuing this one.
  7. World of Goo - Physics puzzles are not really my forte.  I like them to an extent, but then I hit a wall and can't go any further.  This game is no exception to that.  I guess this is what I get for never taking physics in school.


  1. +JMJ+

    I should really do something like this for books. I have a huge stack of books which is literally gathering dust because I haven't had the free time to read any of them for over a year.

    On the other hand, there are several titles which are there because I started them with good intentions, only to bog down a few chapters in. Instead of totally giving up on them, I set them aside for "later." And I do have faith that "later" will come . . . someday . . . =P But in general, I don't want to force myself to read a book for the sake of getting it over with.

    Still, I think that this project of yours is a good idea. =) I'm not a gamer myself, but I do read your gaming posts (although I don't comment). At this point, I guess I'm most curious about what elements in games really grab people at the beginning and what elements are considered "humps" to get over before playing really becomes fun.

    1. If I was forcing myself to complete all these games, I would be miserable. :) For similar reasons I only included games I had tried but put aside due to distractions, and not ones I tried and didn't like. The point is to get my money's worth rather than torture myself.

      What elements grab people really depends on the individual player. For me it's usually an intriguing story or gameplay that is just really fun to experience. The only "hump" I would think of is the early tutorial levels, which while necessary can be a bit tedious while they guide you through every possible control. If the game is too difficult, uninteresting, or poorly programmed in the beginning, it's exceedingly rare that it would improve from there. That's generally a sign to stop playing instead. :)

  2. Jesus christ, you just shit on two games I think are brilliant.

    Gish is amazing, as is World of Goo.

    On the other hand, so far you've said that 1st person shooters, puzzlers, and platformers aren't really your thing. What does that leave, RPG?

    1. I don't like physics based puzzles. I love the various games PopCap puts out and similar "casual" games, puzzle solving point and click adventure games, and most of the platformers or survival horror games I do get into have some element of puzzle solving. I'm just not good at knowing how to build things or plan a trajectory of an object, etc.

      I wouldn't have started a series called Awesome Games for Awful Gamers if I was good at most of the games I try. :P


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