Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's late in here, but some gaming recaps

So I am super thrilled to once again be attending GDC as a volunteer. For 15-20 hours of work I get a pass worth over a thousand dollars and all the associated networking and education and fun that goes with enjoying a gathering as epic as GDC. Not only that, but this year I get to go as a nominee for a GDC Choice Award! I still can't get over that. Nearby, at some other table, will be Double-Fine! And other big companies. But I'm still a dreamy little fanboy who just happens to have a beard and a hit title as well.

In other news, I have been playing iPhone games like crazy lately. They are so easy to pick up and play, they are so cheap, and the interface really is so simple and enjoyable that I cannot help but keep buying more $1 games. When looking for games and recommendations, I often check the top of the list, but also I frequent (they really supported Spider) and they have an interesting associated podcast that has developers on every session to talk about success and the development community. It is very weird to me that it is such a large deep platform, because there still seems to be this relatively small group of games that I ever hear about. I really wonder about simple things such as naming your game well to get recognized. It really is this next step of the gaming market.

Top games for me right now:
-Sword&Poker, a really entertaining dungeon romp in which you deal damage to enemies through poker hands. There is a free version which still has me going, so check it out.

-MotoXMayhem: I know this was one of the few games that stayed ahead of Spider when it reached its peak in the appstore, and I finally bought it a month ago out of curiosity. It's just like those billion Flash games where you tilt your motocross rider back and forth and use gas and brake to navigate a hilly course. But you know what? I've been addicted to those simple physics racers countless times. There is nothing so fun as backflipping when you're not supposed to, and then failing and watching your rider pop into the air like he's a jack-in-the-box. It doesn't use backflips/tricks enough and I wish the levels were a little more extensive, but for a dollar, it's fun to master.

-Canabalt: I cannot say how many hours I've played this game. I'm winding down on it now, but I will still put in some playthroughs every few days. A simple game, your goal is to jump from building to building for as long as you can, but through flawless art direction and subtle random game mechanics, it is just a superb gaming experience. Totally worth the $3. Completely and totally worth it.

-Lilt Line: Frustrating at times, this game tasks you with guiding a line through a maze using tilt controls and occasionally tapping to the beat. The integration of music and play makes it an engaging time, because, like Guitar Hero, if you screw up and miss a sequence, the beat dies. It uses a very abstract and trippily simple world that hits the perfect chord with the music, including the subtle effect that whenever you tap the screen, your line wobbles a little. My one major complaint is that sometimes you have to tap slightly after a beat, because the visuals don't always match with the music, and it cares more about visual alignment than musical.

I am playing a bit of Mass Effect. It is an awesome and epic game and I immediately felt like I was almost in Knights of the Old Republic. Bioware's signature is clear. I really like the merging of gunplay and RPG and it's a gorgeous game. I will certainly have more to say later, but I will mention that I will always be amused at the demand that the largest games, no matter how serious, always work in a variety of humorous elements. Mass Effect's being the elevator music. Yeah, elevator music in some structure that's been around for 50,000 years. Don't ask me, I just play the game. Does it take me out of the reality of their universe? Totally. But at the same time, I laugh. So does that seem like a poor decision on their part? I honestly don't know. Breaking third walls seems to be more and more common these days, and their desire to link elevator music to our current humor is admirable. But does it really work? Eh, probably not. But I won't be stopping the game for that clear infraction of game fiction.

So gaming doth continue in my world, and now I have to figure out whether I want a ps3 just to play Uncharted 2. Is it really the next step in games as movies?