Nicky and Kate introduced us into one of the most entertaining games I’ve played for a while – Bananagrams – whilst we were down the coast a couple of weekends ago. A sort of free-form scrabble, you form a scrabble grid of words (without a board) with however many letters you are allocated – 21 in a short-handed game (2-4 players). When you complete the grid, you shout ‘peel’ and everyone takes another letter from the face-down pile in the middle and you try to fit it into your grid somewhere, often having to restructure swathes of it. If you can’t place a letter, you can ‘dump’ it in exchange for three new letters from the central pile.
The winner is the first to complete the grid once the central tile repository has been exhausted and shout ‘bananas’. Sub-games include longest word, min/max word length, thematic consistency to all words, sentences, rude word construction and so on.
Amanda and I have got a little hooked on Tetris Battle – a competitive, Facebook-integrated game that does what you’d expect it to. Getting lines bumps the opponent up, with bonuses for hitting ‘bombs’ and getting multiple line-completions in sequence.
Given how busy life is at the moment, these sorts of quick social game are all I have time for. Are there any other good ones I should look out for / avoid on pain of addiction?
I used to love light gun games, Time Crisis and its ilk, and in my PS2 days invested a disproportionate amount of money sourcing games and accessories. Ironically, since the games have become more accessible (in the wake of the Wii), I’ve not played any at all. But this weekend, visiting Matt, I was exposed to HoTD: Overkill, a spectacular overdone piece of B-Movie Zombie-killing light-gun action.
There are just a few hours of collaborative gameplay built into it but they’ve milked everything they can from the format pretty effectively, and its a lot of fun.The thing that makes it stand out, though, is the spectacular b-movie scriptwriting. Random plot jumps, totally stereotyped lead characters, disgusting but entertaining plot twists and progressions. Lots of fun.
The dialogue, especially when initiated by Detective Washington, is offensively fun. If you’re of an age and can cope with sweary misogyny interspersed with random introspection, check out a selection of his best quotes here.
This is a flavour of heavy-handed PR-ing that I normally attribute to former newsroom editors rather than long-time video games comms pros, but I guess when you’re PR-ing the ‘longest’ if not ‘most heavily anticipated’ video game of all time (“FOREVER is a reference to how long its been in development) the pressure might be on:
Ars Technica tells the full story of how a blacklist threat was issued for negative reviewers of the new Duke Nuke’m game.
"Too many went too far with their reviews…we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom," the company tweeted. "Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews…that’s completely different," another tweet read.
I guess this is one video game you have to be careful with, before, as Duke might put it, you "rip off its head and s**t down its neck." –> although in this case, the Duke turned on his own, with 2k Games firing the PR in question fairly swiftly.
My heart goes out to the guy, though, if his apologies (see the Ars Technica piece) were genuine. It can be heart-wrenching if a project you’ve put a lot of soul into gets universally panned. However; I’m a little dubious at how much the PR can have contributed… after all, the job of PR-ing one of the biggest names in gaming wouldn’t be as emotionally involved as, say, developing it in the first place….
Ok, hat tip to @patrickyiu and @geowgeow on this one – this thing is just plain weird, and if it wasn’t June I’d assume it was an April Fool’s gag. Nintendo has gone from having a console with virtually no controller to one with the world’s biggest controller…
Another @geowgeow pointer, I was reading about Onlive this week. A gaming service that streams the entire gameplay experience to you in a thin-client model – so you could play the game on the modern equivalent of a dumb terminal whilst graphics rendering, game processing, etc. happens in the cloud. For Onlive, the dumb terminal could be a PC, Mac, iPad or TV. Fiendishly clever innovation, one of those ‘new business models’ we keep talking about.
Wow. Who’d have thought broadband speeds were up to this? Well, mine isn’t with its mediocre 3mbp/s download speed and < 1 mbp/s upload, so I suspect a test of the service would be worse than futile, even if I had time for gaming… but it’ll certainly save people money on PC upgrades if it works!
I have done a lot less gaming over the last few years and on the whole I’m glad of it – I’m happy being busy with friends and family.
But there is a category of games that inspires nostalgia – real time strategy games, of the school of Dune 2, Command and Conquer, Warcraft and Red Alert. Maybe because Dune 2 was one of the first PC-games I really got into, maybe because they provide a cerebral challenge as well as an entertainment hit, maybe because most of those games have a cheesey semi-interactive sci-fi or fantasy narrative running through them… but whatever the reason, it was with interest that I saw that one of the games my friend Noel introduced me to years ago – a Warcraft 3 map mod called ‘Defense of the Ancients’ – has a spiritual successor called (from the creators of DoTA) called League of Legends.
Unlike traditional RTS games, DoTA (and LoL) aggregate the RTS elements with more traditional RPG elements (uplevelling your characters, spellcasting) and with tower defense gameplay… AND make it social, so you get to (if you want and can persuade them to play) take out your friends.
Whilst I can’t quite see myself performing this degree of gaming orchestration again, I note with some amusement that there is a LoL tower defence game on the iPhone… so that might do it for me.
Huge fun. Original voices, clever upgrades to weapons and units, decent graphics for the gameplay style and compelling enough that you’ll be able to resist most of the in-game purchases – coins for upgrades – and instead just play the game obsessive compulsively until you clear wave 50 of the Deadites. There’s some slowdown when the waves get big – bring on the dual core iPhone 5 – but it’s not too bad.
My only significant criticism of the game? Only 50 waves… I’m hoping that a software patch will add a bit more variety to it.
The recreation of this classic PC game is out now on the iPhone, the interface works, the voice acting is brilliant, and its generally every type of awesome. It’s a wonderful way to break up the general mania that has been infecting my life, and is a good way to spend £4.99. It’s also out on Xbox Live Arcade and PC (via Stream).