Random Junk: Volume 1 Issue 1

If this is of interest to anyone this might become a regular feature, but it's dependent upon what I actually find that I feel is worth noting (and is memorable enough to mention).  Includes my personal game explorations, and stuff I've found mentioned elsewhere.
 

I'll be buying the sequels to the first Age of Wonders because they're discounted at GOG this weekend.  I guess some other download site had them cheaper, but I don't really care all that much given that these are DRM free.  Someone argued that the other site offered a soundtrack of the games, but since the soundtrack was pretty easy to find in the first game at least, and completely customizable, I didn't see that as an advantage.  
 
I downloaded the freeware Shmup Tyrian 2000 from this site, but haven't installed it yet.  Shmups are always daunting for me...  maybe because despite their prettiness they're usually for very intensely specialized gamers.  I like blowing up chunks of stuff, seeing huge, complicated mechanisms, that sort of thing.  The bullet hell style I can do without, and I like advanced ship customization.  Yet I also like Xevious, so I dunno.
 
Through the continually rewarding Rock Paper Shotgun, I found out about The Battle of Yavin and The Battle of Endor, two Star Wars space combat games for free at Bruneras.com.  I didn't know what I was watching when I first saw it, but afterward I figured out it wasn't X-Wing or whatever, but an arcade-style, segmented mission 1st-person blast-em-up.  Nice. They sport playthrough videos of the two games, if you're curious. 
 
RPS also brought my attention to a Bushido-Blade style Korean scrolling brawler that looks phenomenal and has great animation, though the subject matter seems a bit senselessly twisted :)  They also featured a demo reel for a new Unreal Engine build that looked pretty, but struck me as a bit weird since I really don't know the current state of 3D tech.  The features it listed might as well have been in a foreign language, although I briefly wondered what Minecraft would feel like if it looked like that.
 
When researching a monster response to someone's post on an earlier blog entry, I ran across Nick Yee's page, where he takes surveys of MMO populations and shows us what's going on behind the character veil.  Fascinating stuff.
 
As for stuff I've actually been playing, I've made it a bit of the way through Infinite Ocean, a suspenseful point and click adventure Flash game featured on Armor Games.  I played through some of the endings to the excellent-if-flawed debut game After Years in Dark Tunnels, which I found out about through AV Club's Sawbuck Gamer feature.  I tried playing old Spelunky on the laptop, though it had me wishing for a gamepad.  With some practice I can get up my proficiency again I think, but man, I play like I've barely learned the basics now, when before it was second-nature for me. Still love that game.
 
The main bulk has been leveling my dudes in Might and Magic II and finding a continual barrage of secrets that I have to write down in my lil' notepad.  They have more money than god (I checked) and are nearing the point where they don't instantly die from a stronger baddy's melee hit.  Favorite spell is acquired, too, called Moon Ray, which does up to 100 points of damage and heals everyone for the same range of damage.  Pretty handy if you ask me. 
 
 The result of my last single-player game of Solium Infernum.  I won...  by one point!
The other part of my time has been playing through Solium Infernum in repeated short campaigns, training myself for what promises to be my first successfully executed multi-player match (if I don't keep screwing up the PBEM files).  I've beaten the computer all but once during this latest bout of plays.  Still very uneven and random, but always fun just for the plethora of completely random stuff that can happen in a given turn.
 
Any discoveries this week?  Anyone brave the Black Friday crowds or find a game worth mentioning (whether or not it had anything to do with Black Friday)?  
 
Take care, everyone.  Happy Thanksgiving, even if you don't celebrate it :)
5 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure
If this is of interest to anyone this might become a regular feature, but it's dependent upon what I actually find that I feel is worth noting (and is memorable enough to mention).  Includes my personal game explorations, and stuff I've found mentioned elsewhere.
 

I'll be buying the sequels to the first Age of Wonders because they're discounted at GOG this weekend.  I guess some other download site had them cheaper, but I don't really care all that much given that these are DRM free.  Someone argued that the other site offered a soundtrack of the games, but since the soundtrack was pretty easy to find in the first game at least, and completely customizable, I didn't see that as an advantage.  
 
I downloaded the freeware Shmup Tyrian 2000 from this site, but haven't installed it yet.  Shmups are always daunting for me...  maybe because despite their prettiness they're usually for very intensely specialized gamers.  I like blowing up chunks of stuff, seeing huge, complicated mechanisms, that sort of thing.  The bullet hell style I can do without, and I like advanced ship customization.  Yet I also like Xevious, so I dunno.
 
Through the continually rewarding Rock Paper Shotgun, I found out about The Battle of Yavin and The Battle of Endor, two Star Wars space combat games for free at Bruneras.com.  I didn't know what I was watching when I first saw it, but afterward I figured out it wasn't X-Wing or whatever, but an arcade-style, segmented mission 1st-person blast-em-up.  Nice. They sport playthrough videos of the two games, if you're curious. 
 
RPS also brought my attention to a Bushido-Blade style Korean scrolling brawler that looks phenomenal and has great animation, though the subject matter seems a bit senselessly twisted :)  They also featured a demo reel for a new Unreal Engine build that looked pretty, but struck me as a bit weird since I really don't know the current state of 3D tech.  The features it listed might as well have been in a foreign language, although I briefly wondered what Minecraft would feel like if it looked like that.
 
When researching a monster response to someone's post on an earlier blog entry, I ran across Nick Yee's page, where he takes surveys of MMO populations and shows us what's going on behind the character veil.  Fascinating stuff.
 
As for stuff I've actually been playing, I've made it a bit of the way through Infinite Ocean, a suspenseful point and click adventure Flash game featured on Armor Games.  I played through some of the endings to the excellent-if-flawed debut game After Years in Dark Tunnels, which I found out about through AV Club's Sawbuck Gamer feature.  I tried playing old Spelunky on the laptop, though it had me wishing for a gamepad.  With some practice I can get up my proficiency again I think, but man, I play like I've barely learned the basics now, when before it was second-nature for me. Still love that game.
 
The main bulk has been leveling my dudes in Might and Magic II and finding a continual barrage of secrets that I have to write down in my lil' notepad.  They have more money than god (I checked) and are nearing the point where they don't instantly die from a stronger baddy's melee hit.  Favorite spell is acquired, too, called Moon Ray, which does up to 100 points of damage and heals everyone for the same range of damage.  Pretty handy if you ask me. 
 
 The result of my last single-player game of Solium Infernum.  I won...  by one point!
The other part of my time has been playing through Solium Infernum in repeated short campaigns, training myself for what promises to be my first successfully executed multi-player match (if I don't keep screwing up the PBEM files).  I've beaten the computer all but once during this latest bout of plays.  Still very uneven and random, but always fun just for the plethora of completely random stuff that can happen in a given turn.
 
Any discoveries this week?  Anyone brave the Black Friday crowds or find a game worth mentioning (whether or not it had anything to do with Black Friday)?  
 
Take care, everyone.  Happy Thanksgiving, even if you don't celebrate it :)
Posted by dankempster

I feel compelled to leave a comment on this blog, despite not having anything specific to say about any of the games you've picked up or been playing. I really enjoyed reading through this, and I'd love to see more posts in this style in the hope that future entries might point me in the direction of games I might be interested in. So yeah... it'd be cool to see more of these. I'll be reading them, at least. 
 
I didn't pick up anything quite as obscure as yourself this week, but I did part with some free Microsoft Points to download XBLA versions of 'Splosion Man and Monkey Island 2: SE. Black Friday isn't much of a big deal here in the UK, so bricks-and-mortar stores haven't thrown up too many deals. Amazon.co.uk have had deals going all week in honour of Black Friday, but nothing of interest to me. That being said, I've got more than enough to keep me busy in the form of Mass Effect 2 right now, so perhaps the lack of intriguing deals is really a blessing in disguise.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@dankempster:  What sorta stuff are you interested in?  :) I guess this one was a bit browser/shooter-heavy.  And since I'm not exactly up on current-gen, I'm pretty much only going to do secondary reporting on such stuff if it occurs to me (and it will likely be philosophy, design or ethics, since it's hard to play that stuff with one's imagination, despite what one hears in storybooks).
 
Monkey Island...  I played the first one (as in first first), and I think I have a version of something later but I'm not sure where the F it is.  I enjoyed the taunting and some of the weird humor, but I don't remember how hard the puzzles were.

I didn't notice Amazon UK did anything for the saladay week, or I might have at least taken a look.  Rats.  
 
Do you have the full DLC complement for ME2?  I've watched a good chunk of the content over-the-shoulder.  Some of it's better than others.  The combat seems to be a huge leap forward, but the story and worlds feel very constricted.  Still, seems like a step in the right direction with the combat, at least.
Posted by dankempster
@ahoodedfigure: I'm more than happy to read whatever you throw up in this space, and I definitely don't expect you to tailor a post's content to my tastes. There's plenty of stuff in this post that's got me intrigued as it is - Might & Magic is a franchise that I could certainly see myself exploring, or at least attempting to explore. I'm not especially up on current-gen either, at least nowhere near as much as most of GB's userbase, so I'm more than comfortable reading about (and looking into) these older and niche titles. 
 
I played the Special Edition of the first Monkey Island earlier this year and loved the humour. If the second offers a similar experience, I'm sure I'll be happy with it. 
 
You didn't miss much on the Amazon UK front. It was five days of lightning deals, most of which was on household appliances and useless knick-knacks. The only games I can remember being on offer were Vanquish and the latest Guitar Hero. 
 
I downloaded all the DLC packs before leaping into ME2, so they've felt more like part of the package than add-ons for me. The combat is functional and the power wheel adds a nice layer of strategy, but I never got caught up in the whirlwind of adoration for cover-based shooters, so I don't have much to compare it to. Planet exploration does feel a lot more restricted than ME1, probably because there's no Mako and all exploration is done on foot within confined environments. The crew are a lot livelier than the first game, but I don't find myself feeling for them as much as I did the first game's cast. Then again, it's still early days, so I'll wait and see how it unfolds.
Posted by owl_of_minerva

Nice write-up, Ahoodedfigure (need an abbreviation, AHF maybe?). I had a look at that Korean game and it has nice art values, could be quite an interesting game. That said, I have such a massive backlog that it might be a while before I look into it. Is it available online?
As for Black Friday, it's not a thing in Australia, so no deals except for digital distribution. I got (what passes for discounted) copies of Metroid Prime Trilogy and Lost Planet 2 from a local shop, a mass of stuff from Steam (2 of the indie packs including VVVV, World of Goo, Eufloria, Gish, etc), Deus Ex, Sam & Max season 3, Alpha Protocol, Tropico 3, etc. and a few items from XBLA.
I'm hoping for some good Christmas deals from GOG, they still have a lot of stuff I'd like to acquire.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@dankempster:  I'd like to hear more about your impressions of the game later on.  I guess I'm into vicarious explorations of universes or something :)  While, I probably wouldn't tailor make further posts to fit any single person, I'm always interested in my own blind spots and how I can learn to like more stuff, so if you think I'm not talking about anything that deserves mention just let me know.
 
@owl_of_minerva: That fighting game is actually exclusively online (as in you have to be connected via a weird registration system that you have to do some translation thing with to be able to use.  It's all very byzantine and I hope the guy who made it makes it a bit easier for us who can't write in Hungul (logical as the system may be)).  Check the RPS article I linked for the specifics, but here's the important bit, cut and pasted:
 
"If you want to take a step further into Don Quixote’s seedy world, getting the demo working is a labour of love. Basically you get it here (it’s gomanna.zip), and then you download a messenger program created by the same guy with a compatible login system. Full instructions in that blog post again."
 
I'd be interested in hearing what you thought of Alpha Protocol if you get around to playing it, since they did a few things with missions and conversations that sounded intriguing...  I'm pretty sure if we had a Wii I'd probably have grabbed Metroid Prime Trilogy, assuming I liked the idea of holding my hand up for hours to aim...  As much as I like to think I know a bit about the independent developers, some of those names in that pack I don't recognize.  
 
GOG might have a few holiday tricks up their sleeves.  I guess we'll see.  I know they usually give users a gift game, or at least they did last time.   
 
As far as Black Friday, because of the global online market I pretty much ask that question of everyone, since I know that even though most countries don't even know what it is, many businesses like the idea of using a buying frenzy mentality to scoop up a few extra sales.  I was surprised a few days ago to learn so many businesses had done little Black Friday adverts even if they weren't based in the States.
 
I've been called AHF or Ahoo, by the way.  I'm OK with reasonably respectful abbreviations :)