Thursday, December 24, 2015

42Craft - Ep2: Windmills & Waterwheels


I explore early game power options while learning a new mod. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!

I learned a lot about the amount of prep time it takes to put together a demonstration video, particularly when you're learning about the content as you go. I feel that these types of videos really aren't my strong suit, so don't expect to see too many episodes in this format. That said, I felt it was worth doing, especially to point out the smaller details of wiring and using the voltmeter properly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep46: Storm: Neverending Night


Challenging 2D survival horror ala Resident Evil.

Storm: Neverending Night is something different, not necessarily good, but different. It's a side-scrolling survival horror game similar to classic Resident Evil. In classic RE, the camera was perhaps the biggest enemy players had to contend with. SNN takes care of that issue, but introduces several others.

For starters, the controls for this game aren't the greatest. The default settings are very clunky, and you'll probably want to rebind the keys right away. That said, the controls themselves take a good deal of getting used to.

Likewise, the UI isn't the most intuitive either. Items need to be combined in a very specific manner, which is quite a hassle. Additionally, you'll find yourself spamming the "pickup" key to grab items hidden behind random things in the foreground. To make matters worse, half of the UI is in Russian.

I couldn't find a save option, so I assume there are certain locations you can save at. That would be fine if you didn't have to go through a number of screens full of puzzles, challenges and dialogue that are necessary to advance.

I simply don't have the patience to give Storm: Neverending Night a real try, and frankly I'm not certain it's worth it.

Also, I'd like to announce a new youtube series, 42Craft, coming soon! It's being setup on a private server with a small group of friends, so I'm certain they'll appear in a number of upcoming episodes!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Trolled by Hearthstone - Rogue Challenge

I should really record more of my Hearthstone experiences. I'm basically a human highlight reel... for Trolden, of course.

I started working on the final League of Explorers wing the other day. Overall, I'm really happy with this adventure - the bosses (particularly the Rafaam fights) are interesting and actually feel like boss fights. Many of the cards added by the adventure have influenced the meta significantly, making it more diverse than ever.

Still, my RNG being what it is, things happen that just want to make you scream. Here's a screenshot of my first attempt at the Rogue Challenge, right before I hit 'Concede'.


Turn 1 Varian Wrynn into The Beast and Emperor Cobra with a Webspinner played for extra insult? Really?!? Sometimes I hate you, game!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep45: Jade Empire Special Edition


Classic martial arts action available free for a limited time on Origin!

Jade Empire is one of those classic BioWare titles that has a special place in my heart. I remember originally playing it on the XBox many years ago while attending college. I never found the time to actually finish the title and eventually sold the game and console, so I'm really happy to have picked it up again.

This game is a special blend of action and roleplaying, with that familiar BioWare design of story-rich dialogue, character options and solid combat. On the PC, you can choose to play using either a controller or keyboard and mouse. I fumbled a lot using the controller during the episode, way more than I recall doing when playing it originally, so I think I'll go the KBM route when I decide to play this proper. Understand that the controller seemed fine, I'm pretty certain it was just operator error! I did find a few of the standard controls a bit unintuitive though - I kept wanting to use the right analog stick to look around, only to find camera rotation handled via L2 and R2.

My ineptitude aside, Jade Empire is an amazing game that you should go grab on Origin's "On The House" now while it's free!

On a much sadder note, this episode is dedicated to James "AngerPuppet" Boley, who passed away last week. He was one of the best friends a person could ever have - funny, clever, generous and inspiring. If it wasn't for James, this series (and probably most of what I've done in the last two years) wouldn't exist. I miss him every day, and likely will for a long time to come.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Kudos to Blizzard - Recent Hearthstone Happenings



I often criticize Blizzard for botched releases, game imbalance and bugs... but today it's time to show some gratitude. As the above video (from Disguised Toast) shows, Blizz has been working to fix bugs and remove inconsistencies in Hearthstone these last couple of weeks. I didn't even realize some of the cards have been reworded to accurately depict the timing of their effects.

In addition, I want to say just how impressed I was with last week's Tavern Brawl - Decks Assemble! While I'm sure a lot of players were confused by the game, any fans of the deckbuilder genre were able to pick it up quite easily, and it was pretty neat. From a programming standpoint, I'm fairly certain that Brawl was one of the hardest to set up. It turned Hearthstone gameplay on its ear, and even cards with potentially problematic effects (like Emperor Thaurissan) worked fairly well. Also, I have to imagine Blizzard had to set up stronger/more servers to handle the craziness of multiple Lorewalker Chos and Nozdormus all in one game!

Kudos, Blizzard, for listening to your audience and putting in a strong effort to keep Hearthstone fun, bug-free, intuitive and fresh!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep44: Enviro-Bear 2010


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I bring you a game about rushing around, stuffing your face and taking long naps... and a driving bear!

Enviro-Bear 2010 is a driving game with good doses of both physics and humor. You play as a bear preparing for hibernation, filling its belly with fish and berries before winter hits... all while driving a car.

Absurd? Yes. Fun? Also yes! The controls are easy to learn and difficult to master. Click-and-drag is pretty much all you need to do, but getting the car in gear, hitting the gas and steering all have to be done separately. In addition to foraging, you have to maneuver around trees and rocks. Failure to do so often throws extra stuff in your car that gets in the way - from leaves and rocks to bees and badgers!

Physics also play a pretty significant role, as items can get stuck under your pedals or push them down (if heavy enough). It's actually a fair tactic to set the egg timer found in the car on the gas pedal if you need to gun it!

You only have a few minutes to find that much-needed food and shelter before winter sets in, and things get slightly more difficult each year (level). Later on, simply having to take a moment to toss an angry badger out the window may prove lethal.

In all, Enviro-Bear 2010 is a silly and entertaining title that hasn't got the fame it really deserves. It should be right up there alongside the Flappy and Angry Bird titles dominating the handheld market.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin currently FREE

https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/281196/hitman-2-silent-assassin-pc-download
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Hitman series, Square-Enix is giving away Hitman 2: Silent Assassin for a limited time!

Create an account, put the game in your cart, add the promo code FreeSilentAssassin and there ya go! NA users get a Steam key, while some other areas are reporting only a download. In any case it's still free, so enjoy!

Click here to go to the game's store page!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Minecraft Minis, Swords & Heart Health Bar!

I've been busy with custom orders, but found some time to add a few new items to my Etsy shop
First up, a new diamond sword and a mini health bar!
The previous (more blue colored) sword will still be available as "enchanted". You can select how full the health meter is - from half a heart to a full 3 hearts. Click here for more info.

Also, 5 new minis added - Zombie, Slime, Enderman, Wither and Zombie Pigman! As usual, keychain and magnet options are available for all items. Check out the full selection of Minecraft Minis here!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep43: Shattered Hourglass


Play as a time mage that's being hunted down!

Shattered Hourglass is a classically-styled RPG with some modern additions to character development. You play as Duran, the last time mage, who is currently being stalked by a mysterious enemy known as Mage Slayer.

The game features many of the things you'd expect to see in oldschool RPGs - stats, levels and experience, skills, equipment and the ability to add NPCs to your party. In addition, there's more character progression via jobs (which seem like multi or prestige classes) as well as a karma system. These features come standard in most games of the genre today, and are a welcome addition here!

The gameplay is very oldschool: turn-based combat staring at an enemy screen (think classic Phantasy Star or Dragon Warrior), navigating through 2D mazes and random encounters. This can be a turn off for those with little time or patience, and overall slows down the pace. As much as I liked classic RPGs back when they were new, even I feel they're kind of slow looking at them now. I'm not saying they're a waste of time, but you definitely need to free up your schedule a bit if you want to make real progress. That said, this title allows you to save at pretty much any location - another handy feature sorely missing from games of the past.

It's also worth noting that this title doesn't mind poking fun at itself or others. You're given an option right away to play in either 'Vanilla' or 'Silly' mode, the latter of which adds a good deal of comedy and content to your game experience.

In the mood for classic role-playing with a generous amount of humor? Then check out Shattered Hourglass!

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep42: WizardWizard


Double-jumping, key-grabbing platforming action!

WizardWizard is a short but challenging platformer with a charming retro look. You play as a wizard whose only real powers are the ability to double jump and respawn a lot. You're on a mission to save a princess from a big bad with lots of obstacles in the way.

I keymapped a controller (as the game natively uses the keyboard) and it was very responsive. I've said it before - a platformer must have tight controls - and that's certainly the case here. My deaths were my fault, not the game's, which is good.

Aesthetically speaking, the title has a retro charm with several small modern effects (like the glowing moon and torches) which I really enjoyed. The game's premise is a handful of well-worn tropes, but that doesn't really affect the gameplay.

I suppose my only real complaint might be how short the game was. 25 levels went by relatively quickly, even with all my blunders. That's more of a compliment though as the game was enjoyable enough that I would've gladly played on!

So there you go, WizardWizard was a bite-size bit of afternoon platforming fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Minecraft Minis & Swords in Etsy Shop!

 Minecraft Minis are here! These make great decorations for small spaces! You can purchase them in my Etsy shop as is, or upgrade them to a keychain or magnet!

If you prefer a slightly larger (and more accurate) sword, check these out! Keychain and magnet options are also available!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ShenansPixels Etsy Shop Now Open!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShenansPixels

Announcing my new Etsy shop, ShenansPixels, specializing in Perler bead creations of video game and cartoon characters!

First up, the members of Teen Titans Go! done in a Mega Man inspired art style! You can purchase each hero separately or bundled as a set (with a discount)!

Check out my shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShenansPixels - Minecraft stuff coming soon!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep41: A Night in the Woods


A haunting look at survival in a dark and lonely future.

A Night in the Woods is an interesting experience. I'm inclined to call it art more than a game, as there's not much mechanically going on... but it makes up for that big time with atmosphere and exposition.

The title screen appears briefly, then drops you right into the game itself. It's dark, and you've stumbled upon what seems to be a long-abandoned town, though the street lights are still functioning perfectly. Crickets chirp in the background, but it's otherwise quiet. Being dark and cold, you're tasked with collecting scrap paper for kindling.

At first glance, the game appears to be a horror title. It has a dark and lonely setting, you've no way to defend yourself, and early on you find a flashlight. This keeps you guessing as to if there's any danger ahead, bringing the tension up a bit.

As you scavenge for kindling, you discover notes, books and newspapers hinting at what led to the world you now inhabit. The game gives us a glimpse of a possible (and rather bleak) real-world future based on present day issues.

A Night in the Woods is a thought provoking and atmospheric title with a cautionary warning as to where we may be headed. I felt like I was inside an episode of The Twilight Zone, which made for a unique and satisfying experience.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inconsistencies in Hearthstone


I wanted to share this video to provide some insight to new players and to show my support for fixing the inconsistencies found within Hearthstone.

As a (former) player that saw numerous text/timing/rule changes to Magic: the Gathering cards over the years, I remember the hassle of having to keep current with the new interactions of older cards. At one point, the errata/rulings for Clone (the MtG equivalent of Faceless Manipulator) was three pages long!

As a digital game, Hearthstone doesn't have to carry the baggage of errata that comes with printed cards. As the video above plainly states, many of the inconsistent cards need only a minor text rewording without having to change how they currently function. 

When it comes to competitive games with numerous interactions and pieces, it's important to accurately express (as much as possible) what each individual piece does. Consistent wording on the cards allows players to better understand how those cards interact and helps to avoid confusion.

Numerous games have experienced the growing pains of rule changes, errata, and new interactions compounded by the game's growing popularity. It's important for the health of the game to periodically address these issues. In the case of printed products, this takes the form of anything from occasional rule/errata update write-ups to entire reprints or new editions of the game. Thankfully, the digital medium doesn't have to deal with that mess and can typically do text clean-up with little trouble.

Here's to hoping that Blizzard will take advantage of the opportunity to easily improve Hearthstone's long-term success. It may seem like a minor issue, but in the long run it will be worth it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Have A SPOOKY Halloween!


I just wanted to remind you that I'm having a special Halloween livestream!

Join me Saturday, October 31 @6pm ET at my Twitch channel, where I'll be streaming an extra "spooky" game Halloween night!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep39: VANISH


Trapped in a dark tunnel system and questioning your sanity, you realize you're not alone...

Like many horror titles, VANISH thrusts you headlong into the game with minimal backstory. The short intro suggests you've been thrown into an underground tunnel (perhaps sewer) system against your will, with no explanation as to why.

The area is quite dark - with the brightness turned way up for the video, I could barely see before walking right into a monster. Playing at the recommended settings makes it so you're lucky to see several feet ahead, meaning you'll have to tread with caution so as not to bump into a baddie. This gets progressively worse as the darkness eventually takes hold (whether physically or in the character's mind I'm not certain) and it goes pitch black even with a glowstick and your brightness up.

Those complaints aside, I found the rest of the game to be quite good. It's full of atmospheric sounds that keep you guessing if something evil is lurking nearby, and there's a number of environmental startles like bursting pipes and tunnel collapses thrown in for good measure.

The real kicker though is the unpredictability of the tunnels. Not only is the layout procedurally generated, but it can change behind you too! It's a cool feature that considerably ups the creep factor and reminds you that no place is safe. The downside to this however is the possibility that one could get incredibly unlucky and be hopelessly stuck/lost (though it's hard to know for sure, considering the changing nature of the tunnels). The game seems designed around short play sessions though, making this situation more like a "bad run" in a roguelike title.

In all, VANISH blends atmospheric horror with a slight roguelike twist into a thrilling test of your bravery, patience, and sanity!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep38: Real Horror Stories


Get ready for point-and-click scares and disturbing imagery!

Real Horror Stories is a click-based Flash game full of bizarre and disturbing scenes. The title of the game is incredibly misleading, as nothing presented in the game seems to be real (or even based on actual events).

The gameplay is uninspired and frightfully dull as you're placed in a scene with several clickable areas and no real clue as to why you're doing anything. Generally speaking, you keep clicking on whatever is available until something happens (typically an animation, sound, or jump scare). There are a handful of small puzzles scattered throughout to help break up the monotony, but they also break what little immersion the game had just built up as you're given seemingly endless time to solve them.

While the game is chock full of shocking imagery, I quickly lost any sense of danger or fear as I realized there was no potential for failure or death. The closest you get to "losing" is choosing one game ending over another, and even this can be easily replayed from a recent save point to see the other choice. I'm not quite certain why save points were added to the game in the first place, unless it was designed more for people playing on a mobile device during quick breaks.

The scariest thing about Real Horror Stories is that you actually have to pay for the iOS and Steam versions (the latter is an "ultimate" edition with added content).

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep37: The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face


3D pixel horror with creepy atmospheric sound!

The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face offers up some insight into depression as well as some scares. You play as Gary, who has isolated himself from friends and family due to his mental illness. Paranoia, depression and insanity have taken their toll over the last two years, but Gary wakes one day to find he's now trapped... and he might not be alone.

One of my favorite things about this game is its atmosphere, especially the audio. As you approach a window, you can hear the rushing wind outside. I recall there being a faint dripping sound somewhere as well. These bits added in with the obligatory spooky sounds (footsteps in the hall, pounding on doors, etc.) really helped to bring it all together.

Unlike many other horror titles, this game has almost no jump scares (but there's definitely a panic moment or two). It is incredibly dark most of the time though, leaving your imagination to fill in what might be lurking in the shadows (which is quite effective).

I enjoyed playing through The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face, and found the ending rather interesting as well.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep36: The Terrible Old Man (H. P. Lovecraft)


The Terrible Old Man is a point-and-click adventure horror title, based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name.

I'll get my only complaint out of the way - this game isn't very long. Being based on a short story, there's not much source material for the game to really work with. I am glad to see that the game at least remained relatively faithful to the story instead of padding it for more content. 

There are numerous Lovecraft works that would make for interesting games, many of which are much longer than The Terrible Old Man. It leaves me to wonder why this particular piece was chosen to be adapted into a game over others? Maybe it was just a favorite tale of the developers. Perhaps it was more of a "proof of concept" to see if a story would work as a point-and-click adventure? If so, I think it came out pretty well and hope they decide to make more adaptations.

The gameplay itself was standard adventure fare - gather information, find and use items at appropriate times, etc. I liked the hand-drawn art style and the facial expressions were equal parts comical and disturbing, which helped play up the unusual atmosphere.

Hardcore point-and-click enthusiasts will find The Terrible Old Man to be lacking depth, but fans of H. P. Lovecraft should enjoy checking this one out for the novelty.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Tags Added!

Quick technical announcement:
I added a few more tags today to all appropriate posts. You can now browse content tagged by:

  • Game engine (such as Unity or Game Maker Studio)
  • Available platforms (Mac games, Linux games, PSP games)
  • Game perspective (2D, 3D, isometric)
  • Controller compatibility and a few more. 
I didn't add a 'Windows games' tag as all games on here (at least so far and in the foreseeable future) are Windows-compatible.

I'm also trying to find a way to improve the tag/label page - I realize it's pretty messy-looking.

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep35: Stories of Bethem


Classic Zelda-style adventure for the PC or Android!

Stories of Bethem captures the look (and most of the feel) of the classic Legend of Zelda titles. Instead of a magic sword, you harness the powers of elemental magic to break objects and slay enemies.

The game begins with a rather lengthy backstory and control explanation. The intro can be skipped and dialog can be sped through via button presses, which is great when replaying the game. You begin with no weapons or attacks of any kind, but a witch quickly gives you your first spell - a wind blast. She then sets you out on a quest to find a number of magical objects.

Puzzles are heavily featured throughout the game, many of which involve pushing rocks to open paths or cover holes. In addition to damaging enemies, your wind spell allows you to break barrels and bushes to reveal treasures and hidden paths... but using the spell drains magic points. You can find items to regain MP or wait for it to slowly recover, but early on you can go through MP pretty fast as you use it for attacks as well as exploration/puzzle solving. This slows down play somewhat until you can begin recovering health and magic at save locations.

Some of the puzzles seem fairly tricky - I had a hard time figuring out a few of them and for the sake of the episode explored other rooms once I got stuck. I didn't get too far during the video due to the puzzles, but that means they at least pose some challenge which is good. I'd like to see what other types of spells and items become available later in the game, so there's a fair chance I'll continue playing for a bit.

There's nothing impressive early on in Stories of Bethem, but I'd like to take some more time with it. The story, gameplay, art style and controls all seem okay from my first experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep34: Tankya's Adventures


Shoot cannonballs at monkeys on a tropical island in this 3D platformer!

Tankya's Adventures - The Curse of Zoltar is a 3D platformer reminiscent of the PS2 era. You play as the feisty Tankya, who enjoys brawling, drinking and relaxing at her island home. The monkeys of the island have seemingly been hypnotized and are out to capture Tankya. Your job is to free the monkeys of the curse (apparently by beating some sense into them) and locating the source of the trouble.

The art style is colorful and cartoony, and overall the game has a quirky charm about it. Unfortunately, this title suffers from horrible controls that will frustrate you to no end. Tankya often enters a "combat stance" that prevents her from sprinting (and sometimes jumping or moving at all). I couldn't find a reliable way to leave the stance via keyboard/mouse - a button press on the controller seemed to toggle it, but then she couldn't move. When you die, the game remembers your last input and respawns you doing whatever that was, meaning you might just walk backwards off a cliff with no control over it. 

The boss at the end of level 2 was actually pretty cool from a design perspective, and I imagine the rest of the game features more interesting characters/bosses... if you can access it. After the second level, I couldn't figure out how to go any farther. The map had a large blacked-out area that never opened up, so I assume this might be a demo of some type. If so, then in a weird way I'm kind of grateful as this is one game you'd definitely want to try before purchasing.

To sum it up, Tankya's Adventure is full of charm and potential, but it's wasted due to terrible controls and horrible bugs.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep33: Tessallation


Loop through time with brain-teasing puzzles, evil refrigerators and flipping squirrels!

Tessallation is a Portal-inspired 3D puzzler that uses a time rewind/replay feature to overcome its various obstacles. When you rewind time, your past actions overlap each other allowing you to help yourself. It's a cool mechanic that oddly makes the title both a single-player and "co-op" game.

The controls are pretty straightforward using a standard WASD setup. 'T' toggles the time feature, right click begins another time loop and left click interacts with objects as appropriate (picking up or throwing things, hitting switches, opening doors, etc.). Jumping feels a bit floaty at times, but it doesn't seem to cause any problems. The game is aesthetically pleasing with bright colors and a quirky character who seems to have a Rubik's Cube for a head.

The title is not without its flaws though. A glitch on one of the earlier puzzles involving a floating platform nearly broke the game (as I couldn't solve the puzzle because of it), though a little creative thinking was able to save the day. I also had the game crash on me at one point, though to be fair I think that's a bug from an older version of the Unity Engine as it's happened with other titles.

If you can get past that one glitchy platform, Tessallation is a pretty neat puzzle game. It will certainly test both your timing and your ability to plan ahead.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep32: The Wizard's Lair


Roguelike dungeon-crawling RPG fun!

The Wizard's Lair is a no-frills graphical Roguelike title. The game tends to strip much of the clunkier bits found in Roguelikes, which also reduces the complexity a little. For example, your inventory is a short list with a description of what items do (so there's no need of having to identify things). You have to manage hunger as well as HP, but a number of items provide amounts of both. 

The title plays very smoothly and you can use either a controller or keyboard and mouse. It's doesn't feature any fancy graphics or amazing GUIs, but they do the job well enough. There's no in-game music, but many of the sound effects are classics from other oldschool titles (or they sound incredibly similar).

In all, The Wizard's Lair is a streamlined Roguelike that's fun to just relax with. The simplified system could serve to ease new players into the genre without being overwhelmed with stats and rules. I found it pretty enjoyable, wanting to descend "just one more level" (several times) before stopping.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep31: Naev


Trading, combat and exploration in space!

Naev (Not Another Escape Velocity) is a single-player open-world sandbox space title. You begin with a basic ship and make your way through the cosmos completing jobs. Each system has a number of locations, most of which contain NPCs, missions, goods and ways to upgrade your ship.

The game boasts a multitude of options in terms of customizing your ship and ways to earn money. The overall map is always the same, but missions and NPCs vary greatly with each playthrough providing a fresh experience with each game. There's an overall story you can follow, but it's often lucrative to find side missions to complete while working on the main quests.

Naev is open source - there's a number of mods available and even alternate versions of the game with different content. It's a fun title and definitely worth a look if you like open-ended space games.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hearthstone: Opening 40 Packs of The Grand Tournament


I open 40 packs from the newest Hearthstone expansion, discussing the cards as I go.

I have mixed feelings on the set as a whole. On one hand, many of the cards are way more balanced than Goblins v. Gnomes (which is good). Unfortunately, this also means that constructed play probably won't see a lot of change in the long run. 

There was an outcry over power creep when Ice Rager and Evil Heckler were shown, but it seems like everyone forgets just how much better Piloted Shredder is than pretty much every other card for its cost. The problem isn't with the new cards - it's with the OP cards released in Naxx and GvG. I think a lot of players are ultimately going to be unimpressed with TGT because of that, which is a shame because the set feels well designed and is full of cards that beg you to try new deck ideas.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep30: Blocaria & Inexistence


Time for another double feature! We've got 2D survival crafting in Blocaria followed by Metroidvania platforming with Inexistence.

I don't have anything special to say about Blocaria. It's buggy, laggy and apparently abandoned. The developer hates if you call it a Minecraft or Terraria "rip-off", but had no problems using the same crafting recipes and even music from the Mojang hit. This game was supposedly rebuilt and renamed to Paradigm (not the point-and-click adventure title of the same name), but good luck finding it - the developer's website doesn't exist anymore.

Inexistence is a Metroidvania platformer with light RPG elements. You play as a reluctant hero attempting to rescue your sister. The game defaults to a controller if you have one, which I prefer for platformers anyway. The controls are very responsive and intuitive which is great. Gameplay feels like they took the best and most memorable things from Super Mario, Metroid, Castlevania and even the classic TMNT game and blended them into an (S)NES-talgic delight. Unfortunately this is only a demo (with the first two levels and a boss fight) but it's enough to give you a fair idea of how the game handles. I enjoyed the Inexistence demo quite a bit, and it seems to have been greenlit on Steam with an expected release to be coming very soon.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep29: Cube27


Brain-teasing, block glitching puzzle action with Cube27!

This is a matching game that's kind of a mix between a Rubik's Cube, Mahjong and... something else I can't quite put my finger on. Puzzles come in the form of 3D shapes made out of cubes. The goal is to match cubes, thus removing them from the puzzle. You get bonus points for removing cubes quickly and matching in color/number sequence. In addition a power meter rises on the left with four special abilities at your disposal - bombs, automatch, time freeze and nuke.

Things start out simple, but get trickier pretty fast. Cubes can be hidden behind other cubes (similar to blocked tiles in Mahjong). Later on, the puzzles contain glitches, viruses and other obstacles that make completing the puzzles difficult (or impossible with wrong moves early on).

If you love Mahjong but are looking for a new twist, Cube27 may be right up your alley.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep28: Lair of the Madhat


Diablo-style hack 'n' slash action with Lair of the Madhat!

This game isn't bad, but it is quite short and relatively easy. I beat the game in about an hour and I don't recall even dying. The gameplay is about what you'd expect for the genre, but there's no inventory system. You only keep what you can hold, and potions are used immediately on pickup. The art style is well done and may be the most impressive thing about this game. As a student project, Lair of the Madhat looks pretty good - as a real game title, it could use a bit more content and polish.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Friday FREE Game Feature! Ep27: God of Thunder


This week is a classic Zelda-inspired adventure game from 1993, God of Thunder!

I'll get my gripe out of the way now - I'm not a huge fan of the hammer. It feels so slow waiting for it to return. While that's similar to Link's boomerang in Legend of Zelda, you don't play the entire game using it and it can pick up items on the ground (which the hammer cannot). I also didn't understand how to switch between magic items, but that's pretty much my fault for not looking at the manual first (yes, old games had their own manuals you actually had to read once in a while).

I'm pretty pleased with the rest of the game, though. There's puzzles scattered throughout the levels, some of the enemies are pretty interesting and the dialogue is jam-packed with humor (even breaking the fourth wall at times). Fans of the original Zelda should give God of Thunder a try!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep26: Zuma's Revenge


The popular Match 3 title Zuma's Revenge is currently available for free on Origin.

I don't really have much to say about this game. It's not a bad title, but perhaps I wasn't really in the right mood to enjoy it this episode. There's a number of new features and tricks added that make this more enjoyable than the original Zuma, such as the leaping ability and variety of shots. It's not my favorite Match 3 game though - I personally prefer Bejeweled or Ironcast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Top 10 Neutral Hearthstone Rares (As of BRM)


Here's part two of the series - this time discussing the top neutral rares of Hearthstone, chosen by usefulness.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top 10 Neutral Hearthstone Commons (As of BRM)


With all the new players joining Hearthstone via mobile devices and numerous expansions to the game, it's time to look at the top cards (and why they're good)!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep25: eCity


Feeling nostalgic for Sim City or wanting Cities Skylines but can't afford it? Try out eCity!

If you've played the popular city simulation/management games, eCity makes you feel right at home. Choosing a map, placing objects and even the music style all feel very familiar - and there's nothing wrong with that. The UI is minimal and functional, allowing you to easily see and manage your city. The game lacks any tutorial, but includes an adequate information section that can be easily accessed.

I was somewhat surprised by the lack of transportation options. Basic roads are used for everything, with only bus stops being tacked on to those. No highways, trains, subways, etc. really limits creativity in city building. Thankfully there are several types of industry and shops you can build, and the game also includes mobile and internet infrastructure.

It's not the biggest or best game in the genre, but eCity does what it sets out to do quite well. For a free title, that's pretty good!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep24: Blackthorne


Test your wits and reflexes in this classic cinematic platformer from Blizzard!

Blackthorne is a blast from the past, originally released for MS-DOS and the SNES back in 1994. The game features some minor puzzle solving and gunplay alongside the jumping, climbing and rolling you'd expect from a cinematic platformer. You play as the prince of an enslaved kingdom who has returned to free his people and seek revenge on their captors. 

Your primary weapon is a shotgun which deals with the basic enemies fairly well, but does little against the larger foes. For that, you'll use a variety of items scattered throughout the game (mostly hover bombs). You (and your enemies) can dodge most attacks by simply hiding against a wall, and combat typically involves patience as you duck in and out of cover trying to score hits. This is a fun idea at first but gets repetitive fairly quickly, though I feel it was probably better than employing a simple shoot'em'up style of play. My biggest complaint here is that you can't draw your weapon while in cover, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal since you can use other items while hidden.

As with most games of the genre, Blackthorne has a few control quirks that can sometimes be annoying to deal with. For example, attempting to take cover while directly under a ledge will instead make your character grab for that ledge (and probably get you shot in the process). While these situations are fairly rare, they are still frustrating when encountered. Taking into account the age of the game though, I feel it's forgivable. In a similar vein, NPCs can stand in spots that force you to talk to them instead of what you were attempting to do, like climbing a ladder or reaching for a ledge. Blizzard provided an interesting answer to this by allowing you to shoot the NPCs if you don't feel like waiting for them to move! This was pretty much unheard of for games made 20+ years ago.

Overall, Blackthorne is a fairly enjoyable title. Fans of cinematic platformers should give it a try, if just for the sake of experiencing a classic in the genre.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep 23: Broken Dimensions


Broken Dimensions is a Portal-style puzzler with a twist of horror, created in five weeks by a team of students at DADIU.

This is a fantastic game, and I'm very impressed with what the team accomplished in such little time. Broken Dimensions was clearly inspired by Portal's level design in that each area teaches you some new tricks using the game's fundamental mechanic, but in a way that lets you discover the application on your own. 

You're guided by a ghostly figure that claims to be helping you out, but it doesn't take long before you realize she's not quite what she seems (GLaDOS, anyone?). In several areas you can find scrawled warnings, likely left by other children who happened to wander in (or perhaps Ratman). You end up using a box here and there to complete the puzzles and continue in the game (Companion Cube). I suppose one could also draw comparisons between the candy and cake, though to be fair you actually get the candy many times while playing.

While the game takes a lot of cues from Portal, Broken Dimensions has an important difference that makes it a unique experience. The fundamental mechanic involves you twisting the perspective of the map in 90-degree angles so that the objects and obstacles in the room (as well as what surfaces you can walk on) shift. I'm not sure whether you're rotating the temple or altering gravity, but it has the same net effect and is a damn cool power - it's like making the entire world a giant Rubik's Cube! This is a great mechanic that I'd love to see more of. If anyone knows of another game that does this, please leave me a comment!

I'd also like to point out that the levels in Broken Dimensions are aesthetically pleasing. The temple is lined with mysterious and gruesome depictions, giving you a sense of unease and leaving you to wonder when you'll face the same fate. I feel more attention was given to the temple than the game's two main characters, but I'm actually alright with that. I spent more time looking at the environment for ways to solve the puzzles anyway, so I'm glad they focused on making it look good.

Broken Dimensions has two flaws, and I feel they're connected. It's a short game, and one can finish it in about an hour. It also lacks a save option (probably due to it being so short), meaning you can't put the game down and pick up where you left off. This isn't normally a problem, but if you experience a crash or have to stop playing all of a sudden, you have start over at the beginning.

To sum it up, if you like Portal and want to try out a different game mechanic, play Broken Dimensions!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-9: To The Limit


Assassins abound as Sam gives me pointers and I learn the difference between "playing" a creature and "putting it on the field".

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep22: Jet Gunner


Run and gun action with this NES-inspired shooter!

Jet Gunner pays tribute to those classic NES-era action titles like Contra, Code Name: Viper and Bionic Commando. You play as a soldier with unlimited ammo and a jetpack, shooting everything that moves while dodging enemies and an array of projectiles. You find power-ups along the way that change your weapon or provide you with a "drone" that can increase your firepower. 

The jetpack has a limited use but refills over time and lets you reach normally inaccessible areas (which the game has many of). The jetpack is fun and gives a lot of room for level design options.You're given a rather large looking health meter, but with everything coming at you it doesn't take long to deplete. You get knocked back when taking damage - and as any oldschool gamer can attest, this can often push you off a platform to your death. By today's standards that might seem cheap, but it feels right at home here. Learning patterns and accounting for knockback was a big part of progression in these games.

Growing up with the NES, I appreciate the gameplay and aesthetics of Jet Gunner, which captures the era and genre wonderfully.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep21: Path of Shadows


Manipulate the darkness as a ninja brought back from the dead in the stealth adventure Path of Shadows!

This game is really good. The cell-shaded art style makes you feel as if you're inside an anime title. There's no UI overlay and the only important information is cleverly attached to your character in a non-intrusive way. You're free to explore the levels as you wish (though they are rather small) and you can summon a raven to lead you in the right direction instead of having a map or waypoint system (which is a great design choice). 

You're given a number of special shadow abilities, allowing you to sneak around undetected, locate enemies behind obstacles, teleport, assassinate and hide your victims. You can even distract guards by jingling bells. Your character has a couple of weaknesses - light sources deplete your power and you can't fight if detected - which makes for some interesting scenarios.

Sadly, Path of Shadows is really short with only three levels before the game is over. I understand that the developers have made a spiritual sequel to the game, with Path of Shadows serving as a way to introduce people to it. Giving out a cool game for free and then promoting a jam-packed sequel is a pretty common practice these days and I think it's a brilliant tactic (You Have To Win The Game and Treasure Adventure Game being two positive examples). Path of Shadows is more of a working demo than a full game, however. The third level ends with a "this is just the beginning" statement, then disappointingly cuts to the credits.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-2: Questionable Plays


Here's game one using the trial deck drafted in the previous episode. There were a lot of cards I haven't used much yet, so I make a lot of questionable plays as I learn how they work together.

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep20: 48 Chambers & GLOB


It's a Desura arcade double feature this week!

First up is GLOB, which has an interesting mechanic - to progress through levels, you need to activate/deactivate platforms and walls using various button presses. Unfortunately, the game suffers from terrible controls and collision detection to the point of unplayability. It's a shame because the core mechanic looks quite fun.

The second title is 48 Chambers - a game that tests your speed, timing and finesse as you move a ball through various obstacles. There's three different game modes to choose from, including a casual mode that offers infinite lives (which is a blessing for new players). The controls for this game are pretty responsive, though it seems the ball takes a little time both to speed up and stop which will inevitably get you killed quite often until you get the feel of it. I would normally oppose a design choice like this, but in this case it makes the ball feel more natural. If you like a challenge, 48 Chambers has you covered!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

10 Win Trial!

My first 10-win trial deck. Pretty OP!
In between IRL things, I got in on some free Spellweaver Trial action, and ended up going 10-1 with this Rage/Corruption deck. It was chock full of removal, direct damage and annoying dudes.

Suffice to say, Spellweaver and Hearthstone have at least one thing in common: When drafting, always pick Fireball!

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-1: The Draft


A recent trials run I had while streaming. Here's the draft - the games are on the way!

Also, trials are currently FREE until the end of closed beta! I'm taking that opportunity to get more familiar with trials all week (so expect a lot of streaming the next few days).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Opening 30 Spellweaver Packs!


A clip collection from a semi-recent stream where I opened 30 Spellweaver packs. Pack Hype!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Introducing Spellweaver - F2P Digital Card Game!


Spellweaver is a free-to-play digital card game that's going into open beta June 15!

If you'd like to know more about the game, check out their site: http://spellweaver-tcg.com

I'm livestreaming Spellweaver throughout the week on my Twitch channel, usually starting after 5pm ET.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep19: Argskin


This week's game is The Provinces of Midland - Argskin, a non-combat RPG that plays much like a 3D point-and-click adventure.

The game begins with a cutscene showing a gathering of cultists in search of a book and an artifact. The group's messenger brings some bad news, and the leader kills him. We then fly over the area where the game begins, the town of Deloras and are introduced to our hero who has returned after a long journey.

You quickly learn that things have changed while you were away - bandits have settled in the outlying wilderness, thieves have infiltrated town, and the king has docked a warship in the harbor in preparation for what might be the arrival of an enemy ship. In addition, you need to gain reputation with the townsfolk so you can become a captain of the guard and gain access to the harbor. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is almost the exact scenario you encounter early on in Gothic 2. A little later on I learn that criminals are sent to some nearby mines... I wonder if it's protected by a magic barrier?

Speaking of which, it seems Deloras itself has a magic barrier around it. While on a quest to pick up some wood from the forest, I'm stopped by an invisible wall. There's no explanation as to why I can't go past the river (which even has a bridge), but I simply can't cross it... at least for now. I assume that once you get farther into the story the area becomes accessible, but why a noob wall? Couldn't there at least be a fortification or something to show "hey, you can't go here yet"?

Inside town, there's dozens of NPCs that don't want to talk to you and buildings full of items you can't interact with. I'm all for open exploration, no quest markers and all that (remember, Gothic 2 fan here), but if you're going to go that route you need to do it right. Give more dialogue to the lesser NPCs, like name-dropping an important character you should go talk to. As for the items, allow players to take them (with consequences for getting caught).

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of The Provinces of Midland - Argskin. Frankly, I'm curious to see a bit more of the story (mainly to find out if there's any more coincidences) and to find out if I'm ever allowed to cross that bridge!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep18: 404Sight


404Sight is a parkour platform runner made by graduate students at the University of Utah to show support of net neutrality.

It's a short game, but it does what it sets out to do very well. The game is mostly fast-paced, but there are some points (particularly towards the end) where you have to stop and make sure you're going the right way. Many levels feature alternate routes and shortcuts, allowing you to replay the game in hopes of a faster time. In addition, the levels load seamlessly so you can just keep going!

You can play with keyboard & mouse or a controller - I found KBM to be easier to handle, but that might just be personal preference. Either way, the controls were responsive and easy to understand.

The game has several cool mechanics that I found interesting. You have "ping" which you can toggle that allows you to see and use/avoid important features (like fast lanes, slow lanes, and the purple jump things). You can often leave ping on, but crossing slow lanes or inhibitors (red areas) while active slows you down and can kill you because your speed and health are essentially the same thing. If you have enough speed, you can also use a dash-type move (like something from Sonic the Hedgehog) to destroy inhibitors.

The visual style of 404Sight is quite cool with lots of bright neon lines everywhere contrasting over an otherwise monocolor cityscape. It reminded me heavily of Tron, and that's a plus in my book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep17: Yet, I despise him


Yet, I despise him is an action platformer with a story! 

I was pleasantly surprised by this game. Platformers live or die based on level design and responsive controls, and this title does both quite well. 

The levels are short but challenging, which I prefer over easier but repetitive layouts. Like all good platformers, the obstacles look impossible at first but get easier as you keep trying and learn what your character can do. Checkpoints are placed fairly throughout the zones - just enough that you're happy to see that chicken!

I had issues getting the guy to shoot the direction I intended sometimes, but that may have been due to me using a controller keymapper (opensource software antimicro). It was a minor issue though, as the bosses were still beatable despite the somewhat awkward shooting. Speaking of which, the boss fights were pretty enjoyable. Each one presented new challenges and used the classic "boss patterns" to look out for during the fights.

The story isn't amazing, but it's more than you get in many platforming titles. I haven't finished the game yet to see if there's a payoff to the build-up between the main character and his feelings for his father.

In all, Yet, I despise him is a decent action platformer with great level/boss design and good controls, making it a perfect way to spend an afternoon!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pathfinder - Create Your Own Worlds!

It's been quite a while since I've mentioned anything about Minecraft, and due to various reasons I took a decent break from the game. It looks like 1.7.10 is the current standard for the majority of mods and I felt it would be nice to see what's going on.

I went looking for some modpacks using Hardcore Questing Mode as a guide to get players into learning the mods. The success of Agrarian Skies really put HQM at the forefront, and the mod is now a popular addition to dozens of packs. I'm really happy to see this because HQM can help motivate players who may be unsure or even uninspired to continue with a particular world/pack.

Over the last two weeks I downloaded roughly 10 different packs that were using HQM. Some were focused on magic, others on tech, and many were a mixture of both. Focus aside, most of the packs were so similar that it was hard to really see much difference between them. There was one that stood out for me though, called Pathfinder (found on the FTB launcher).



What Makes Pathfinder Different?

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep16: Zeitgeist


Zeitgeist is a brain-teasing puzzle game about placing gates, teleporters and other tiles so you can get marbles to their proper destinations.

You have to place tiles so that things happen in a specific order, otherwise the marbles will run into an obstacle and be destroyed. It features a tile pool to the right with a "video-playback" menu to solve each puzzle, similar to games like Contraption Maker. I really like the use of tiles here as opposed to more free-form placement, as it ensures the puzzles aren't about pixel-perfect precision. The gameplay is easy to grasp at the start, and there's a definite learning curve as you go through the levels.

Unfortunately, Zeitgeist seems to lack any audio components which is unusual and makes it feel unfinished. It would've been nice to have included a couple of sound effects at least. I haven't toyed with the editor, but it looks like you can load up puzzles. That means the possibility of sharing levels with others exists, which extends the amount of time you could play this game (at least in theory).

Zeigeist is the perfect example of a title that has great mechanics and some nice features, but could use a little more polish. The addition of sounds and a way to access player-created levels in-game would really help make Zeitgeist more than an afternoon of brain-teasers.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep15: Echoes+


Take the classic "Asteroids" style game, crank it up to 11 and you have Echoes+!

This shooter features six game modes, four difficulty settings, a handful of powerups and an achievement/challenge system for extended play. The controls handle perfectly and for the most part the game is simple but effective - shoot stuff, grab goodies, repeat.

Echoes+ is a feast for the eyes with neon-colors and explosions everywhere. The sounds and music are lively but not distracting, which is important because you need to stay focused. Thankfully everything is easy to see, so you're not going to be cheapshot by 1-pixel bullets. The UI is classic and clean, but Echoes+ adds a few visual cues to inform you of important info (such as your energy and number of bombs), which really helps when things are getting fierce.

Echoes+ is available on a fair range of platforms (Steam for Win or Mac, OUYA, fireTV, Xbox) and is just plain fun, so go play it already!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep14: Unnamed


An abstract, experimental game about playing games.

I found a couple of bits kind of funny, but it felt like Unnamed really didn't go far enough to drive home the points it was trying to make. One could argue that the game's length accentuates part of what it was getting at, but it seemed more to me like the developer was either rushed for time or ran out of ideas.

While I agree that there are a lot of boring and unoriginal games out there, pointing it out in yet another boring, unoriginal game only makes the pile larger. Yes, this game is unoriginal - it's pretty much a knockoff of The Stanley Parable, only much shorter and not as well thought out. Perhaps it's intentionally mocking TSP, but that's probably giving Unnamed too much credit. It would've been better written if that were the case.

I guess the best thing I have to say about Unnamed is that it's short, which is at least preferable when it comes to enduring a disappointing experience.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep13: Voices from the Sea


This week we take a look at Voices from the Sea. It's an anime-styled, soothing, emotional, supernatural visual novel about a teenage boy that never smiles and the girl that's determined to cheer him up. Part two is below and (obviously) contains spoilers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep11: 2x0ng


Atari 2600 inspired, procedurally generated action!

2x0ng takes inspiration from several Atari 2600 classics to create a game that is unique, yet feels familiar. The player has one special ability - the squareball - that can be used to break blocks, open gates and damage enemies. Considering the Atari 2600 had only one button on the controller (not counting the directional joystick), the squareball fits the theme perfectly. Once you throw the squareball, you either have to wait for it to return to you or get far enough away that it basically despawns and reappears in your hands. This can be a problem if you let yourself get surrounded, encouraging you to keep the enemies from getting out of control.

Progress through the game is fairly straightforward - locate and step on the EXIT for the level. To gain access to the exit, you'll have to bring down the various gates surrounding it. To open a gate, the squareball must match the gate's color and simply make contact with it. When the squareball contacts a solid rectangle, it breaks some blocks and becomes the color of that rectangle. It's an easy to understand mechanic that can be used to form a sort of puzzle element throughout a level. Using the squareball to break blocks and gates adds that Breakout feel to the game, which was an iconic title for the 2600.

Speaking of which, one of the enemies is a moving rectangle that looks and acts much like the "paddle" from that classic game. Many of the enemies in 2x0ng are inspired directly from other Atari 2600 baddies. That said, 2x0ng is more than a mashup of old games - procedural generation was unheard of on the 2600 (due to its limitations), so there's one big change already. If you're feeling nostalgic for classic Atari but would like to try something new, 2x0ng might fit the bill.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep10: You Have To Win The Game & Mecha World


To celebrate going into double digits, this episode is a double feature! First up, a real puzzler with Mecha World followed by the amazing retro-inspired platformer You Have To Win The Game!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Double Digits = Double Feature!

This week marks the 10th episode of The Friday FREE GAME Feature! To celebrate going to double digits, I'll be checking out two games instead of one, making this a special "Friday FREE GAME DOUBLE Feature!" Tell your friends! :P

Remember, you can watch live at http://twitch.tv/shenanigans1930 or catch it later on my YouTube channel. I hope to see you there!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep9: Treasure Adventure Game


Sailing, platforming, combat and exploration in Treasure Adventure Game!

Due to a somewhat slow-paced start and a few technical hiccups, I didn't get nearly as far in the game as I would've liked. I have a feeling Treasure Adventure Game has way more to offer than what little I presented in this episode. I'll certainly devote some more time to it in the near future (possibly as a follow-up stream even) because it looks pretty promising.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep8: Dead Bits


Voxel-shooting and platforming action with Dead Bits!

This is the first live episode streamed at http://www.twitch.tv/shenanigans1930 so it's a little rough. As I get more accustomed to using Twitch as a streamer (instead of just a viewer) and learning more about OBS, I'm sure I can improve.

Again, Dead Bits isn't free on its own - there's a giveaway currently available at http://whosgamingnow.net/giveaway/deadbits - just follow the directions there to get your Steam key.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A New Frontier Of Adventure!



That's right, I'm joining the ranks of livestreamers at Twitch!

I'll likely have a number of impromptu streams throughout the week, but you can count on friday afternoons (start time around 3-4pm EST) being the spot for The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Remember, the series will still be available on YouTube - this just gives you the chance to come join in the fun live!


Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Blackrock Mountain and Spellweaver Beta

Blizzard announced the next expansion for Hearthstone -  it's Blackrock Mountain, which will be an Adventure similar to Curse of Naxxramas. A handful of cards have been previewed and can be seen below.



Of the five cards shown, Hungry Dragon seems to have the most overall potential to join constructed decks and Dark Iron Skulker will likely be a great utility minion for rogues. Rend Blackhand feels a little clunky due to its low health for a 7-drop, and sadly will never see play as long as Dr. Boom goes unchecked.

While Blackrock Mountain sounds like a load of fun, I'm not quite as excited about it compared to when Naxx was announced. I still feel a long ways off from getting all the GvG cards I really want, and the constructed meta settled down way too fast for such a large influx to the card pool.

I've already mentioned a number of cards that perhaps seem a little strong in previous posts, but that's only part of the problem. Most of the other cards throughout the Goblins vs Gnomes set feel so sub-par in comparison that they're not worth playing. Who really wants to open a pack and find Hemet Nesingwary as their legend? Looking through the GvG set, it's fairly easy to identify most cards as either 'playable' or 'trash'. There's only a handful of cards that fit the 'situationally good' slot such as Kezan Mystic, which is a shame. This unfortunate mix is why the meta already felt stale about a month after GvG's release. I find it hard to believe that the 31 new cards from the next expansion will do much to keep constructed play fresh for long, which is why my excitement level for Blackrock Mountain isn't as high as it could be.

In other happenings, I just got in to the Spellweaver TCG closed beta. This title looks promising and fits somewhere in between Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering in terms of complexity and mechanics. I'm interested in seeing how Spellweaver ends up, particularly its cash shop model as it will be free-to-play for everyone once it's ready. If they can establish a fair business model while keeping the cards and effects balanced in-game, Dream Reactor may just have a TCG hit on their hands.

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep7: Notrium



Scavenging, crafting and alien-punching survival abounds in Notrium by Instant Kingdom!

For the video I played exclusively on Easy Mode which meant I was unaffected by temperature and most weather effects. There seemed to be a lot of environmental effects going on as daytime heat or evening cold could be a real factor to your survival in addition to sandstorms, cold rain or other weather. The day/night cycles felt incredibly short, and I'd think that Medium difficulty would provide a pretty large challenge in finding enough time to really scavenge for materials.

In any event, it's a solid title with a fair deal of replayability due to different characters, a map editor and even some mods. There's quite a lot going for Notrium, despite its age.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep6: Tyrian 2000

It's classic scrolling shoot 'em up action with Tyrian 2000!

While I only played Story Mode in the video, there are several other game options worth exploring, such as Arcade Mode where you collect power-ups scattered throughout the levels. These alternate game modes (as well as the various ship/weapon builds in Story Mode) give Tyrian 2000 a good deal of replayability which is great.