Super Mario Bros. X

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Mariogasm is a Super Mario fan game by Andrew Spinks, a.k.a. Redigit, a.k.a. demilogic, a.k.a. the guy who made Terraria. Imagine you took Super Mario All-Stars, World, Zelda II, and Super Metroid graphics, and threw them into a blender, after which you’d pour out the resulting blob of epic into a game and could not only build stuff in it, but play as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, or Link (because fuck Samus, right?). That’s what this is, and calling it the best 2-D Mario game ever made would be an understatement.

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The 90s called, they’re writhing in jealous agony.

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Better Than New Super Mario Bros In Every Way is… well… that, really. It may only allow for one or two players, but it has more characters with different powers, more level variety, a battle mode, a level editor, and actual co-op with splitting motherfucking screens, as opposed to inevitably crushing your slower partners against a wall. The game comes with a pre-packaged “episode,” which is what you would call a series of levels, a world, story, or campaign. You can then download many more of these episodes from the website, or make your own.

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PEW PEW PEW

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The controls are as tight as the original SNES games, and the graphics as faithful. Of course, changing the appearance of the default tiles and characters is also doable, but even without going as far as that, the level editor’s capabilities allow for incredible variety, along with some downright weird possibilities, such as Mario and Link in a Super Metroid environment. It sounds like something out of a 13-year old’s SNES hack, but for some reason Best Fan Game Ever allows anyone with good level-design skills to make it work. The inclusion of slightly different power-up effects depending on who you’re playing with, and stars a la Super Mario 64 are just some of the added details that make Forever Shooting Bullet Bills all the richer.

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Nothing to say. Just look at it.

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The music is ripped from several Nintendo titles, from the SNES to the Wii, and some of the tracks’ fidelity was lowered on purpose, presumably to match the SNES soundchip, of which I’m not the greatest fan. If that was not the case, I cast a curse on the poor fool who is unaware of the concept of audio fidelity.

Regardless,  the tracks fade out and start over instead of looping, for some reason. It is technically a loop, but fading out serves no purpose besides annoyance. It baffles me that such an elementary thing could have been overlooked.

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Yes ma’am.

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9/10

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Path of Exile

Finally, Diablo III is here.

I Was On A Boat is an action RPG by Grinding Gear Games in which you Diablo the Diablo out of the Diablo until you can’t Diablo anymore. It’s online, but it also allows you to adventure solo, since areas aren’t shared with other players unless you’re in a party.

I don’t need no stinkin’ party

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Every Conceivable Good Decision is free-to-play. Not “free-to-play,” not free-to-try; but free-to-play. Although micro-transactions exist, they are only for decorative elements. Nothing you can possibly buy with real money is of any actual practical help in the game, therefore making it absolutely not pay-to-win, as opposed to the general fleet of utterly stale, fun-wrecking, wallet-sucking abortions that clog the pipes with the scourge of online gaming.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck-

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You start on a boat heading for exile, because it doesn’t matter why. There, you get to choose between six characters: Moses, Kevin Bacon On Steroids, Legirlas, Emo Boy, Keanu Reeves, and Carrie. Three of them embody one ability (strength, dexterity, or intelligence), and the other three a mix of two of those. There’s a seventh, only available to those who beat the game, which embodies all three; encouraging some replayability, even if just to prove that you clicked more stuff to death than other players.

Yes, it definitely is click-click-click to kill ad-infinitum, but that’s just how it rolls; it’s a style. There is some strategy involved, but it’s definitely carpal-tunnel-syndrome-fueled. Maybe they have a deal with a host of hospitals and surgeons; maybe that’s how they manage to keep the game up, because I can’t imagine how aesthetic micro-transactions would help all by themselves.

Or maybe they just sell human suffering

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In terms of game design, I only see good decisions in Doctor Diablo’s Confounding Click-a-rama. For example, there is no gold. Forget about hoarding shitloads of coin that end up becoming useless. Instead, everything you get from selling loot is other items, usually things that can be stacked into something you can use to enhance your own gear. This barter system works the same when you are buying. Sell your portal scrolls and other crap for a shiny new sword to cleave skulls with, be it to an in-game merchant or to other players.

Shoulda bought some Wyrmscale Maxipads

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The potion system is also ingenious. You don’t actually buy potions per se. You buy bottles which get filled with every enemy you kill. This means no back-and-forth to buy potions, and if you do happen to need some while out of enemies to kill (sacrilege), a portal scroll is enough to refill your bottles as you teleport to the closest decrepit hub-slum.

Meanwhile, the skill tree in I Still Can’t Believe There’s No Gold is virtually indistinguishable from the Tokyo subway map. 1350 different skills, adaptable to whichever build you wish to pursue, within the capabilities of your character’s level 100 cap (and a total of 120 points to spend on skills), will ensure that you spend hours getting lost amidst the vast expanses of possible choices, just like at the supermarket, trying to pick a packet of chips.

I wasn’t kidding

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Many items have those all-familiar sockets, into which you can insert gems that bestow unholy powers upon your character, like Raise Lawyers, or Twilight.

Updates for Diablo III Properly Done keep coming, and I want a ticket to New Zealand, because angels must be orbiting it. There is no way to cheat or pay one’s way up, there is no gold to mindlessly hoard, there is no back-and-forth hassle if you don’t feel like being a picky lowlife; instead, there are pleasant graphics, an engaging atmosphere, immersive sound and music, the option to play alone or in a party, and all the gore you could possibly want.

Sorry, I sneezed.

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Every negative aspect I find ends up depending on matters of subjective taste and personal preferences, and because I am an immaculate being of pure perfection, I am clearly untouched by such vile aspects of human nature. Begone, scourge of mankind, and happy mauling.

10/10

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Mountain

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Watching Paint Dry is a self-categorized “relax’em up” by David OReilly in which a mountain is generated and you get to look at it. I wish I could stop making these “no, I mean it” intros, but there is really no other way of describing this.

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My thoughts exactly.

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Mr. OReilly’s Audiovisual Rollercoaster starts by asking you to draw your interpretation of three separate words. Apparently, this data is used to define the shape of your mountain, what grows on it, and what kind of climate is most prevalent. There is no clue to this in the game, I just overheard it in the massive network of plumbing that is the internet, so take it with a kernel of corn.

After this, the only thing you will ever see is a floating mountain, alone in the void of space, with its own atmosphere and climate.

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You can do nothing with the mouse AND the keyboard, AT THE SAME TIME.

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Apparently there are 50 hours of “gameplay,” and I am told it has an end. Guess who won’t stick around to see it. This has been running in the background for over 6 hours now (apparently it’s designed for just that), and the only interesting thing I’ve noticed is that, for some inexplicable reason, giant objects from space will collide against the mountain, and by that I mean anvils, horses, dice, sailboats, clocks, eggs, jars, and violins, at least so far.

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A lone piano key will occasionally signal the appearance of a random thought, and a choral choir will announce the dawn. As far as music goes, that’s it. It rains, it snows, it’s more or less cloudy, the mountain just keeps spinning. You can actually zoom in and out, and rotate the view with the mouse. Considering the controls say otherwise, I’m guessing this is an easter egg.

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I don’t think I can attribute a score to this, simply because I don’t think this is a game. Now, of course, we could delve into a debate over what makes a game a game, and what implications defining such a concept has to the future of gaming and its influence on society, but we won’t, because I don’t really care. It’s just a bloody mountain.

Accept the mystery.

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VVVVVV

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Did you notice that June only had two weeks this year? Weird.

V for Vendetta 8-bit is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer by Terry Cavanagh, with music by Magnus Pålsson (SoulEye) in which a ship and its crew of six get stranded in a strange dimension. As Captain Viridian, you have to find the remaining crew and figure out how to leave. The catch is that, unlike most platformers, you can’t jump. Instead, you flip gravity’s pull. It may sound simple at first, but Mr. Cavanagh made sure that no hair on your head will be left intact.

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You better be

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The challenges in The Vagina Vovologues are akin to a vicious trip within the mind of an insane genius on a budget, and I’ll be impaled repeatedly on spikes if it isn’t rewarding. There are no lives, only checkpoints from which you will spawn after your billionth attempt at crossing any particular screen of this gravitic mindfuck. The only collectibles in the game are concentric circles called Shiny Trinkets, of which the collection I haven’t been able to complete because of THAT ONE. You know exactly what I’m talking about, Terry, and I hate you. I hate you so much I could kiss you. I don’t even know you, but rest assured, I hate you with the force of a thousand Volvos.

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AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!

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Little is said about whoever was in charge of this strange dimension, and I’d rather you find about the details yourself. There is a surprising amount of atmosphere for a game made with such scarce resources, which is quite a feat. The map is divided into many different areas, each of them a fixed screen. Teleporters exist to take you to areas that would be otherwise inaccessible, as well as to shorten the trips between places you might want to explore again. There is also a level editor for those who might feel like they can make things even more maddening than they already are.

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… but I’m on the pill, and the restrooms are vacant.

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I can’t find a single thing wrong with Vampire Vultures Vicariously Vivisecting Voltaire’s Vulva. The controls are great, it’s challenging at all times, it’s full of little secrets and details despite its simple appearance, and Mr. Pålsson’s music is not only fitting, but fiendishly addictive. The whole game is just right in every aspect, and I heartily recommend it.

10/10

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The Sparkle 2: Evo

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There is no such thing as “last week,” it’s a myth.

Hungry Hungry Wigglything is a casual action game by Forever Entertainment S.A. in which you start as this:

Screenshot_184and end up becoming this:

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I do, and I also know how to eat your entire family alive.

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Eat Stuff: The Game advertises itself by vaguely suggesting that the player has control over how their lifeform evolves. What actually happens is that when you level up, the game tallies which elements you ate the most (red, green, or blue), and turns you into an appropriate larger version of what you once were. That’s as much control as I have over the smell of my breath when I am faced with the possibility of having some garlic.

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So hippie, jock, or bland. Got it.

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Spore’s Uninteresting But Pretty Cell Stage drops you in puddles of life wherein you have to compete with a rival lifeform for food. That’s it, really. Eat more than the other guy and you win. There’s a non-competitive mode in which all you have to do is deplete one of the colors from the entire level. This becomes a sort of microscopic Where’s Waldo, except he’s constantly pinging you. As far as what you’re supposed to eat, what starts as nibbling at inanimate candy-plankton becomes full-on dismemberment and organ-harvesting murder.

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im in ur bellah, nommin ur kidz

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The visuals are beautiful. Everything glows as it floats about, and the ability to go up and down in levels of depth gives you a glimpse of what you can find below. You’re apparently immortal, however, and whenever you are damaged the game automatically makes you climb one “floor,” which only serves as a minor inconvenience. Nothing attacks you, either, you only get hurt by lunging at the wrong end of whatever it is you’re trying to rip to pieces.

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I am not your mother.

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The chill-out music fits the game well, as the most action you’ll experience is speeding through the water for a brief moment, and only if you happen to be a carnivore. The game is not without bugs, however, and although the collision system is strange at best, I found myself flung beyond the edge of a certain level after getting stuck inside some weird jellyfish inside a whirlpool. As for level 13, which I initially thought was incomplete, I only have this to say: No.

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It’s the first EULA I’ve ever read in its entirety.

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Nom Nom Nommin’ On Living Flesh can be finished in a few hours, and the credits were a nice touch. Although I wish I could say it does what it advertises, it’s not a waste of time either. The controls could be better, but they only need some getting used to, and as the game itself tells you, it’s there to fill your free time with something nice. As far as I’m concerned, the price should stay at the 75% off it is at permanently, and not just until the 16th of June.

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“Control the evolution” my DNAss.

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5/10

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Hammerwatch

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A game reviewer is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he remembers that he should have posted something two days before.

Super Zeldiablo is an action-adventure dungeon crawler by Jochum Skoglund and Niklas Myrberg, in which you hack at monsters through a dungeon.

That’s it, what else is there to say?

Did I mention that it’s fun as nails? Or that it’s buckets of hard?

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But just in case, let’s wade through giant beetles, giant maggots and giant eyes to make sure.

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I had to admit, I didn’t get very far. I played as a paladin first, then as a warlock, and although the former’s charge attack is impressive, I much prefer the latter’s chain-lightning-like powers. That’s because I’m a coward who doesn’t want giant maggots to drool his skin to snot. True, I didn’t try easy mode, but that’s like asking George R. R. Martin to write a children’s book. You just don’t do that.

The controls are tight, they feel as good on a keyboard as they do on a gamepad, and your walking speed is just right. Killing monsters is as fun as it is advertised, that is, until you find yourself without mana and running from an entire zoo of horrors trying to chew your face off.

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Woe is you, milady, for thy basement hath verily become the lair of republicans.

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Grandma Needs To Call An Exterminator does allow you to save by activating checkpoints, which can be done more than once per checkpoint, but loading will restore you to the exact state you were at the moment you last activated it. How is this new, you might ask? It isn’t, but the act of saving automatically overwrites the previous save file. You may run towards the nearest checkpoint, hoping to have reached a new safe spot, only to find out that you saved with 1 hit point, no mana, and a wave of Fox News pundits is just around the corner, eager to know your opinion and then vomit acid all over you.

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Forsooth! May my soul be kept safe… in 1.44 MB.

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You start with one special skill besides your normal attack, and you can find merchants to buy the other skills from. That gives all the gold that is randomly scattered about the dungeon a purpose. Some merchants, however, are conveniently positioned so you may experience the joy of tearing your hair out in rage and wondering why you can’t just fucking jump over that ridiculous 5-feet wide chasm and get to them. It does however work as an excellent mechanism to drive the player forward, and sometimes even find secret passageways or walk right through incorporeal walls altogether. The level design really keeps you going, that is, until you’ve been ground to a pulp by the spawns of hell for the 20th time in a row.

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Thou must surely be jesting.

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I tried the multiplayer mode, but it seems to not be working at the moment. By “at the moment” I mean “for a year now.” Not good, people. I might have read wrong, though. I might have just fallen upon posts of people whom the gods of port forwarding hold in very low esteem and enjoy torturing. From the symptoms, I seem to be one of those poor souls, and to the gods I say UP YOURS

As for the music by Two Feathers, it’s great. It fits both the medieval feel of the game, as well as its 16-bit look. Some cuts are odd, though, as it sometimes switches tracks without any transition whatsoever, in the middle of the music, as if it were a “bloody”  “monday”.

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It’s just another bloody monday.

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8/10

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Space Engine

Holy Shit Are You Serious is a space simulator by Vladimir Romanyuk, a.k.a. SpaceEngineer, in which you explore space. And… that’s it.

“That’s it?” I hear you say, “That’s it,” I answer. No pew-pew-pews, no aliens, no missions, nothing… yet. For now, it’s just for sightseeing. A planetarium, as it calls itself. Even so, I shat asteroids when I got my eyes on this.

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I swear I tried to come up with something funny to say.

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The universe in Light-Speed Is So Slow is a 10 gigaparsec cube centered on Earth, in which 99.999% of the content is procedurally generated, save for real objects from official star catalogs.

Let me break down that number for you: One parsec is about 3.26 light years; one light year is the distance light travels in one year, or 9,460,528,400,000 km (or 5,878,499,810,000 miles, for the backward weirdos); so, one parsec is 30,856,775,790,000 km (19,173,500,000,000 miles); 10 gigaparsecs are 10 billion parsecs, so every edge of the cube that comprises the universe generated by Space Engine is 308,567,757,900,000,000,000,000 km long (FuckYouGoLearnMetric miles). In case that was hard to read, it’s over 308 sextillion km.

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But wait! There’s more.

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That’s the length of the cube’s edges, how much is the actual volume of the cube? Why, just 308,567,757,900,000,000,000,000 times 308,567,757,900,000,000,000,000 times 308,567,757,900,000,000,000,000, which gives us 29,379,989,390,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km3, or over 293 million vigintillion cubic kilometres (approximately 0.01 yourmoms).

But what does all this volume contain? Why, galaxies. Many, many, many galaxies, about 10 trillion, and EACH contains from a few billions to over 500 trillion stars. A very rough estimate would place the total number of stars in Space Engine at around 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one septillion). Knowing that most possess planets, that means- ah, fuck it.

So what are Vladimir’s thoughts on all this?

Too small.

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Theory: Vladimirs tend to have a poor notion of size.

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“I must make it a few billion times bigger in each dimension.”

He wants it to be “a few billion times bigger” than 29,379,989,390,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km3, because that’s too small.

How can you not love this guy?

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I don’t think the couch will fit, honey.

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Too Small is the first game that made me understand how slow light-speed is. Set your velocity to 1c (light-speed), and watch the stars zoom- no. No, they don’t. In interstellar space, light-speed is like a snail on a highway. It’s borderline ridiculous.

The sights are amazing, scientifically-accurate, and despite several bugs and incomplete features (spaceship mode, for example), this shows tremendous promise. The music could be almost anything, honestly. Without a definitive mood set, whatever you wish to listen to while exploring ends up being adequate to your state of mind.

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The hills are on fire with the sound of melting.

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How far the development goes depends on the donations received. Now at beta version 0.9.7.1, and having recently reached the milestone that guarantees a finished 1.0 freeware planetarium version with things like “particle effects: accretion and protoplanetary disks, weather effects, volcanoes, and ship engines exhaust” in the future,  the donations keep coming in. The best part is that one of the next milestones is an actual single player space exploration game with shitloads of features, and I’ll let you read about the long-term goals yourself, because drool and keyboards don’t mix.

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This planet was dry before I read the long-term goals.

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I will become deeply disappointed in humanity if the funding for this ever stops. I’ll retreat into a remote cave and never speak to anyone again. I mean it. Go fund them. Now. You need me, I need you, we all need this.

8/10

P.S: Follow my Tumblr blog Exognosis about a space traveler that uses screenshots from the game.

P.P.S: Also, this vote-based experimental browser game called Netizens relies on resources from it. Check it out.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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You didn’t think I’d leave this sucker behind, did you?

The fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series is an action-adventure RPG by Bethesda in which dragons are a rising threat to an otherwise peacef- oh wait, there’s a civil war too, and necromancers, and giants, and vampires, and werewolves, and… Anyway, your skinny/furry/scaly head is saved from rolling off your neck into a basket at the last second by a dragon attack, after which you end up discovering that you have powers related to dragon-slaying.

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You gone done it.

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Irony, like every other Elder Scrolls game, allows you to chisel your character’s frontispiece in detail, after choosing from a variety of races such as White People, Blindingly White People, Slightly Less White People, Black People, Legolas, Brown Legolas, Never-Saw-The-Sun Legolas, Velociraptor, Neko, and Orc. There’s always Orc.

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Naturally, I went with Velociraptor, because not only can they open doors, they wear pants properly.

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So what do you do in Medieval Hoarding? You might as well ask what don’t you do. There’s all sorts of plots and quests to follow, and, uh… Questing, plotting to quest, questing to plot quests. Yeah, basically you do stuff for other people and you get rewards… But look at the scenery!

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WARNING: May contain traces of dragons

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Please the local top cat enough, and he’ll name you the equivalent of sheriff of the place. He might even give you a house! Why would you want a house? Well, maybe because if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself hoarding clutter like there’s no tomorrow, with no place to keep any of it. In the land of rimmed skies, no container is safe from the demons of respawning, save for those inside your hard-earned haven. You can also marry and have your spouse rot there for the rest of their life!

But what is the point of Quests With Scenery? Well, killing dragons, for one. Despite the countless hours that I have spent shooting arrows into everything but knees, I haven’t finished the game yet, so it’s not like I can spoil the ending or the final purpose of it all. Soon after your botched execution, you learn that you are the fabled Dragonborn, an individual born with specific powers who comes along every century or so as a gift from the gods to get mortals out of some bind that inexplicably can only be neutralized by someone who can sneeze a dragon off the skies. Not that this is out of place, on the contrary. The environment and especially the music do a great job of making the whole experience feel epic, especially while battling dragons.

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That’s as close as I can get to a dragon before shitting my pants.

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As far as skill development goes, I’ve always been a fan of how this series handles that. For those less familiar with the Elder Scrolls games, almost every attempt at anything, from interacting with merchants to battling, to lockpicking, to crushing ingredients to make potions, increases your experience in that skill, therefore making you better at that specific skill through training, regardless of success. Many RPGs instead give you experience points that you can then spend on anything, making it possible for you to become better at, say, magic, from beheading goblins in a cave with an axe. Unless you ate the brain of a shaman, that’s not gonna happen. Those that don’t do that have predetermined skill trees for each pre-selected class, and I was never much of a fan of those, mainly because it feels a tad too restricted, at least in games that rely on rich details and freedom for your character. I wouldn’t ask that of Hammerwatch, for example.

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I should be able to buy a boat

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For all its breathtaking scenery, rich lore, and inspiring battles, even Epic Sneezing does not come without faults:

Bugs. Bugs everywhere. Holy shit, so many bugs. Ant farms of them. But that’s almost a staple of Elder Scrolls, really, and it is understandable, due to the complexity of the game. Still, BUGS.

Every monster looks exactly the same. Little to none texture variance, which, in a game where you’re bound to meet plenty of monsters, is an invitation to visual boredom. Every beautiful sunset over the mountains won’t save the fact that every skeleton, troll, and bear looks the same.

The inventory screen is an aberration. I don’t think I have to say anything else, but my amygdala is begging me for a hyperbole: Imagine you have a lot of objects to sort in one room, imagine you can only know their name except when you hold them in your hands, imagine you can only see the names of about twelve of them at a time, then imagine you have to sort objects between this and another room, and you cannot see what is inside both rooms at the same time. All of this has to be done around five times a day, if not more.

The keyboard and the mouse are having their own civil war for dialogue and inventory menus. If you decide to use both for some reason, you’ll often end up challenging someone to a duel to the death when all you wanted to know were directions.

Followers are mentally-challenged, and the arbitrary limit of one follower serves no purpose.

Why does every book cover look the same?

I look like an idiot when I jump. In the game too.

Corpses become immaterial. In a game where I can pick up and move almost anything, this sounds contradictory.

If apples and bread heal me, why would I craft potions?

Like in every RPG, once you get the hand of the mechanics, everything turns into a lot of grinding just to increase your abilities. This is almost inevitable, but there are ways to make this less boring, and to fix everything mentioned above.

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MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODS

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I loaded over 150 mods into my game, and I can say they solved all the problems above, and more. Now, of course, your machine needs to be able to handle them, and there will always be bugs, but you can’t possibly compare them to the ones in the vanilla game. The mod community is definitely to thank for imbuing The Buggy Scrolls with the life it needs. From enhanced visuals and sounds, survival systems, and texture variants, to difficulty enhancers, interface overhauls, and added content, they turned my experience with this game into a 10/10.

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Due to public health concerns, I am not allowed to show the original inventory screen.

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However, I am not here to review a modded game.

7/10

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Liitmeis

Bomberman Noir is a top-down action puzzle game by Team Li… Lei… Lee… Litmy… these guys, in which a shady-looking neon fellow intends to escape a collapsed mine the American way: By planting sticks of dynamite everywhere until the problem is solved. It seems simple at first, but trust me, there are things within those walls you don’t want to set free.

Such as the common stoner.

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You have an infinite stock of dynamite, but you start conditioned by the reach of their explosion and the number of sticks you can plant at the same time. Soon, shopkeepers become available for you to buy upgrades from, such as a miracle-cure sandwich.

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Is that sign drawing a landscape?

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I find little to say about Dick Tracy Buried Alive, other than it is a well-balanced game that succeeds at giving you that little spark of competitive anger after a neon dragon has dismembered you to bits for the tenth time. The strategy is similar to Bomberman, except the environment keeps you a bit on edge and requires a tad more forethought, but not too much. You definitely don’t want to bomb a wall that contains an invincible self-replicating flesh-eating fungus, for example, but if you feel like doing a mad dash for the exit, by all means, plant dynamite until you’re either surrounded by gold or monsters.

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I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I’ll soon be out of limbs.

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The levels are randomly generated, which by this time is probably to be expected of every game on the planet that happens to be made of levels. The fact that Eat Fruits allows you to plan your own plan, if you will, is probably its strongest asset. Its simple premise would get tiresome too soon if not for the fact that there is no wrong way of playing it. Awake sleeping monstrosities to kill for gold, or play it safe and spend hours hacking away at bedrock to ensure your passage remains unnoticed (you know, with dynamite).

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Be vewy vewy qu- Is that PONG?

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Speaking of tiresome, let’s talk about the music. Darkneth Ith Coming features the first children’s choir I’ve ever heard with a generalized lisp, and 90% of the levels had that very same track playing over and over and over again. I got that “darkneth ith coming,” if that’s what they’re singing. Did you lock front-toothless kids in a basement to record that single line? Granted, I didn’t get to world 2 out of pure (healthy) frustration, but if a couple of levels in world 1 already had a different theme, I would say you need more music in your soundtrack, or at least some balance in what music you attribute to which levels. This would be way less noticeable if the game had sound effects at all. The only thing you will ever hear during gameplay is the music, and that will draw even more attention to a soundtrack that isn’t discrete enough to compensate for its limitations.

Screenshot_86

Dear diary: JACKPOT

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Audio flaws aside, Bombersnake remains a simple, yet solid game. Works as advertised, does what it says it does, play like it says it plays. Besides singleplayer, it features a co-op multiplayer mode, and a custom level creator in which you can set various parameters, say, map size, percentage of specific blocks to appear, presence or absence of a merchant, abrupt ending of a review, etc.

6/10

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Cortex Command

I'm guessing that planet is pretty small, if I can see the elevation of a single peak and the outlines of individual trees...

Cortés 2099, by Data Realms, is a 2D shooter mixed with some strategic turn-based elements in which space mining companies fight for the control of precious resources, much like a 22nd century gold rush, if you will. We are greeted at the title screen by the only planet we will ever see and by a sci-fi score, nothing out of this world (haha, j0k3), but it suits the experience. The best way to describe Terminator Attacks! is by reading the reports of one of those mining companies, RAM OVERLOAD, which in 2072 decided it had had enough of this blogging bullshit and publicly stated “screw you, guys, I’m gonna go dig for gold on other planets.”

We're in a gold rush, but this gentleman can go first, because he is player 1.

We’re on a gold rush, but this gentleman can go first, because he is player 1.

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The moment we decided to land on one of the mining sites (those shiny dots on the planet’s surface, presumably because there’s so much gold there it can be seen from space), a rival company decided to do the exact same thing, on the exact same site. “Dem bastards!” we said, and lo, they now had a name.

They came, they saw, they opened a can of whoop-ass on us, they probably came multiple times later from all the gold they inhaled off the desert’s surface, and so RAM OVERLOAD had to admit defeat. This was, however, in the sands of the Burraki Desert, the shiny dot to the west. There was another place to the east, the Dvorak Caves, and that’s where we crossed paths again with Dem Bastards.

Flying dicks, fossilized turd-tentacles? I shall name thee Freudlandia.

Flying dicks? Fossilized turd-tentacles? I shall name thee Freudlandia.

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So, in Gold Huffing, humanity no longer inhabits their own bodies. Instead, it transplants its brain into a robotic body which can also control other robots telepathically. Only one robot can be controlled at a time, but they also have an AI able to follow simple commands… from your cerebral cortex. Get it? Get it?

Ahem, in a nutshell, if, during an expedition to a mining site, that little pink brain-in-a-vat-on-a-body gets blown to pieces, you’re done. You have a total of 10 available brains in a campaign, which for the purposes of this game we will ignore as belonging to human beings with a past, a life, probably a family, ambitions, aspirations, hopes, dreams, etc. They should have read the fine print.

As I was saying, we crossed paths with Dem Bastards in the Dvorak Caves, and this time our marksbots managed to shoot the enemy’s brains out (literally) before they did, which is in essence the whole point of the game.

The planet’s two mining sites were now evenly distributed between RAM OVERLOAD and Dem Bastards. Sounds nice, fair and square, right? Fuck them, I want EVERYTHING!

Well, shit.

Well, shit.

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We failed spectacularly at trying to take over their base, which had been fortified by now, since they distributed their funds between this and trying to take over the Dvorak Caves in the previous turn. Every turn you get a chance to distribute funds between expeditions, building (thank heavens for auto-build), and planetary surface scanning. I recommend you never overlook the latter, lest you fancy landing at the bottom of a cliff, or on a sharp peak. The AI doesn’t fuck around in Tripping At Every Pixel, so get ready for some serious resistance.

When it comes to invasions, however, I’m either pretty good at defending myself or the AI decides to enter retard mode. Dem Bastards decided to do the exact same thing and take the Dvorak Caves from RAM OVERLOAD, the result was humiliating (for them).

I keep seeing the red icons as big fat zeroes, and now you can't unsee it.

I keep seeing the red icons as big fat zeroes, and now you can’t unsee it.

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So, nothing chang- Oh but what’s that? A third mining site? Psyche! RAM OVERLOAD victoriously crushes the brain of its rival and claims the Metankora Highlands for itself. With double the income, we’re bound to take over their base easily.

Here I come to Rambo the shit out of you, bitc-

Here I come to Rambo the shit out of you, bitc-

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-ohhh... snap.

-ohhh… snap.

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Yes, it’s the same dune. Our adventurous brain-in-a-vat-in-a-body probably rolled down the dune more than it had time to walk. The obvious retaliation is easy to foresee, and the next five turns can be summed up with the following picture:

Except instead of cats it’s soulless corporations, instead of paddles it’s money, instead of ping pong balls it’s brains, instead of a table it’s a planet, instead of…

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They came to us, we blew them to pieces, we went to them, they blew us to pieces, repeat ad infinitum. Eventually, however, private 3V3RYM0M3N71L1V315460NY entered the stupidest backdoor ever built, took out all the guards in his/her/its way (except for Laurel and Hardy up there) and reached the enemy’s brain.

Headshot! Is there any other?

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The moral of this story is never nail your brain to the ceiling. Nothing good can come of that.

Now, you might be thinking “this looks like an awesome game!” You would be correct, in theory. There are little things that make this more frustrating than fun.

The most glaring issue was that every single fucking pixel of terrain can make you trip, block your path, or prevent your jetpacking up a shaft (which, by the way, only works at top speed if you have no guns… and no legs). And it’s not just the pixels, it’s the movement itself. The puppetry, the controls, the weight, etc. The kind of quick thinking that Hasta La Vista Brainy requires is definitely not compatible with very buggy movement and puppetry systems. “Oh but it’s not a bug! It’s a feature! Because the physics syst-” Screw the physics system. A game has to FLOW first and foremost. If your movement is being hampered to a bothersome degree of frustration, your physics/movement relation is weak. This isn’t QWOP. We’re supposed to be focusing on shooting, digging and defending bunkers, not on whether our robot is able to put one foot in front of the other.

Granted, the website clearly states that this is an alpha. It has been out as such for a long time. Movement, however, is a basic function that in my opinion should be tweaked before anything else. If the flow of the game does not improve, I’m afraid that despite all the neat features and ideas to be added, the final version will still feel like I’m trying to wrestle out of a quicksand pit every time I take a step forward.

4/10

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