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My name's Ben. I'm pretty quiet but really easy to get along with. I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, watching my brother play the NES and sometimes playing with him. The first game I ever beat was Super Mario RPG, and that's when I developed a love for video games.

I'm also the Friday recapper for the Cblog Recaps team!

I was on an episode of the Secret Moon Base Podcast! You can listen to me talk about video game bosses with the gang!

Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Katamari Damacy
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Cave Story
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Team Fortress 2
Super Mario RPG
Tokyo Jungle
Nier
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Catherine
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Spelunky
VVVVVV
Aquaria
Bit.Trip series
Okami
Beyond Good & Evil
Psychonauts
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Majora's Mask
Super Mario Sunshine
WarioWare series
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Endless Ocean: Blue World
Mister Mosquito

My Backlog

Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Sweet potatoes
Beards
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal too)
Cowboy Bebop
Kill la Kill
Jurassic Park
Crossword puzzles
Green tea
Giant squids
Spaghetti westerns
Krazy Kat comics



Freeware Indie Game Series:
Batch #1, Batch #2, Batch #3, Batch #4, Batch #5, Batch #6, Batch #7, Batch #8, Batch #9, Batch #10
Player Profile
PSN ID:bbbain
Steam ID:bbainn
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Twitter:@_bbain
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I was first introduced to Rayman during the late '90s. I'd asked for a PlayStation for Christmas one year, and in addition to getting the two games that I asked for (Spyro the Dragon and Tomb Raider), my parents decided to get me an extra game as well, one that I'd never heard of before. I wasn't sure how I felt about Rayman by looking at the case; the guy on the cover looked very strange and goofy. I put Rayman to the side for a while, and instead busied myself with the adventures of Spyro and Lara Croft. Once I'd finally exhausted those games, I decided to give Rayman a try.



I went into the game with very low expectations. On top of having never heard of Rayman before, the graphics were not 3D like the rest of the PlayStation games I'd played, and the super cheery, bright colors seemed to be a little over-the-top to me.

Once I finally got to actually playing the game, however, I quickly found that I was enjoying it a lot more than I expected. Sure, the graphics weren't 3D, but never before had I seen such beautiful 2D environments in a game. Before Rayman, I'd only played pixelated games on the NES, SNES and Genesis, and then jumped to the not-as-stunning-today-as-they-were-back-then 3D games on the original PlayStation. I was super impressed, then, with the smooth, beautifully-crafted 2D artwork found throughout the world of Rayman. The backdrops seemed to give each level incredible depth; in particular, the later levels in the Cave of Skops really blew me away. The backdrop made the cave seem like it was utterly huge and endless, and I'd start to think I'd never get out of it.



I got used to the silliness of Rayman pretty quickly. Soon I was playing the game with an endless smile on my face. The crazy face that Rayman made to scare enemies and the silly dance he did at the end of each level never failed to make me laugh. I also really loved that Rayman did a little dance with each of the bosses after he beat them, as if to show they were good guys now. The different themed worlds were delightfully crazy, and were always throwing the most unexpected things at me. I'd be jumping on pencil erasers, riding mosquitoes, trying not to get impaled by razor sharp musical notes, fighting giant saxophones and so many other things I never thought I'd be doing in a video game, and it was always so much fun because I never would have thought of such things myself.

What's even more amazing to me was that, despite the happy, colorful, youthful nature of the game, it was actually surprisingly challenging. Each new world seemed so much more difficult than the last. The second half of the game can be a true test of your skills as a gamer. In fact, I have a confession: I've never beaten Rayman without using a cheat to gain more lives. I die so many times in the Blue Mountains and onward that I don't think I'd ever be able to beat the game otherwise.



Despite the difficulty (or maybe in part because of the difficulty), Rayman quickly became one of my favorite games growing up. A few years later, they made a sequel to Rayman. It was a 3D sequel, so I was intrigued to find out how they would translate the ridiculous world of Rayman into the third dimension. I played the sequel for a little while, but found that a lot of the charm and silliness that I remembered from the original game seemed to be lost in the sequel. The game was fun enough, but for some reason it didn't really feel like Rayman to me. It felt like they took the character of Rayman and placed him in an entirely different world. After that, I decided not to play the third game in the series. Then they began making a series of Rayman games featuring rather obnoxious little things called Rabbids, and I decided that the Rayman franchise was officially over for me. I still had the original game to return to if I ever wanted more Rayman in my life.

And then suddenly they announced something that I never expected to see. They were going to be making a new Rayman game, and it was going to be a 2D platformer like the original, and the story would focus on the origins of Rayman. I was officially excited about Rayman again!



Rayman Origins definitely did not let me down. In fact, I might say that I like it even more than the original. There are so many things about this game that I was excited about. I was very happy to see characters from the original game make a return, such as Moskito and Betilla the Fairy. There were other returning characters that I didn't really know so well, such as Globox and the Teensies from Rayman 2, but they fit in really well with the world of the game, and I began to really like them. I'm just glad they decided not to include a single Rabbid.

The artwork is even more impressive and breathtakingly beautiful than the environments from the first 2D Rayman; you can tell that a lot of love and effort went into creating each level. I never grew tired of admiring the scenery, and I'd often get distracted by a particularly beautiful set piece. I have to say that the ice levels with various sliced fruits frozen into the glaciers are my favorite areas of the game, as far as visual appeal goes. The glaciers just look so beautifully serene and delicious! The soundtrack is also super awesome and humorous. I loved all of the ukelele tracks and the silly vocals. The gurgly song that's played during the underwater levels always makes me smile.



The silliness from the first game is back in full force, with the eccentric level design and quirky soundtrack. You'll find yourself jumping on babbling forks, swinging from long beards, running from spiky citrus fruits and other crazy stuff. I'm also glad to see that Rayman's excellent dance moves are back, and that the bosses all have happy endings, which reminded me of the dancing bosses from the first game. It's one of the happiest, silliest games you can find.

And just like the original, the charming nature of the game is in no way an indication of the game's difficulty. Taking away the lives from the first game was a good idea, as I ended up dying just as many times in this game as I did in the original. The difficulty steadily increases as you traverse the different worlds, leading to some especially challenging final levels. Then there is the final world, the Land of the Livid Dead, which you must unlock by mastering all of the other levels you've already played. I'll just say this about the Land of the Livid Dead: it gives some of the more difficult levels in Super Meat Boy a run for their money.



In short, I can't recommend Rayman Origins enough. In my opinion, it embodies the Rayman franchise perfectly. If you never played the original game and want to know what Rayman is all about, this is the game to get. I like to think that the game is so appealing because of its return to the 2D platformer model. We see so few games like this nowadays, and Rayman Origins happens to be quite possibly the best looking game in the genre. They didn't go the Nintendo route and try to make a 3D game in a 2D plane, they went all out with two dimensions. A return to beautiful, quirky artwork, charming humor and satisfying difficulty is just what the Rayman franchise needed. It's a triumphant return of everything that made the original Rayman game great, and it somehow improves on those things to make for an even better Rayman game!
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bbain
10:15 PM on 10.04.2011



Wood Man,
I seek thee within the mechanical forest.
Thy lair lies guarded by metallic monkeys,
protected by robotic rabbits and bionic bats.
Machinery meets Mother Nature,
and I must best both of them
lest I never meet thee.



Wood Man,
once within thy fortress of flowers and firs
we are finally met face to face.
Behold! Thy body of birch, so beautiful.
Thy helmet of hazel, so heavenly.
Thy legs of larch and thy oaken orifices tempt me so.
I stand in amazement as I ponder thy form.



Wood Man,
send forth thy gift of leaves,
thy razor-sharp foliage,
to cut me from my reverie.
It pains me so, but I must proceed.
Fear not the flames I send thee,
for they are a symbol of my burning passion.


Artwork courtesy of Jack Teagle.

O Wood Man,
thou art oft maligned and ridiculed
for thy wooden form and thy leafy weapons.
But thou art not universally despised,
for there is one who appreciates thy leafiness.
There is one who adores thy woodiness,
and that lone soul is me.

Wood Man, you give me wood.

<3








Lately, Destructoid has been all abuzz with kittens. I'm hearing about them everywhere, and I always think, "Oh, how fun! I love kittens!" I'm always left disappointed, however, because there are never actually any kittens anywhere to be seen, just some half-naked women with various video game paraphernalia covering their naughty parts. Boooring.



What gives, Destructoid? You promised me kittens, and so far you have not delivered. I thought it might be best, then, to take on the job myself and provide the Destructoid community with all of the adorable video game kittens that it's been yearning for. Therefore, I present to you all my top 10 list of video game kittens, of the actual feline variety! Enjoy :3

10. Nago from Kirby's Dream Land 3



Kirby acquires a slew of new friends to help him out in his third Dream Land adventure. One of them is a cute, fat calico cat named Nago, who rolls Kirby up into a ball and walks around by rolling him like a ball of yarn. How cute is that? He also comes with his own set of abilities to use whenever Kirby acquires an enemy's ability, just like the rest of the friends, so it's fun to see what all Nago can do with the various abilities. Growing up, my family had a fat calico cat named Callie (creative, I know), so I always had a soft spot for Nago whenever I played this game.

9. Pura from the Crash Bandicoot series



Unlike the rest of the kittens on this list, Pura is a tiger cub, so he's more of a wildcat than a domestic pet. That doesn't stop him from being an overly adorable kitty though. In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Coco can ride on Pura's back during her levels, and in Crash Team Racing you can choose Pura as a racer. Needless to say, Pura was always my first choice to race with. His adorable meowing sound effects always make me smile!

8. Blinx from Blinx: The Time Sweeper



So, I haven't actually played this game, as it received a lukewarm reception which left me hesitant to pick it up, but I cannot deny that Blinx is one adorable kitty. With his big, bright eyes, cool goggles, huge collar and fuzzy pink fur, I have to admit that I wanted to play the game just based on his appearance. Blinx is the only titular character on this list, even though he is not the only titular feline video game character. I wasn't about to let Bubsy anywhere near my list, Klonoa might be based on a rabbit or a dog even though I think he looks like a cat, and I wasn't sure if Ratchet really counted, being a fictional species that happens to look rather feline, so Blinx won the competition.

7. Jeane from No More Heroes



Jeane is the most realistic kitty on this list, although she's not exactly an important character by any means. While taking a break in his room from killing assassins and being a general badass, Travis Touchdown can show his softer side and play with his pet kitty, Jeane. You can feed her, wave a toy in front of her, or pet her as she lays on your stomach. Jeane is undeniably adorable, mewing softly whenever you play with her, and rolling over on her back so you can rub her belly. She makes me want to go out a buy a kitten to play with on my own!

6. Spitz from the WarioWare series



Spitz and his partner Dribble are the cat and dog cabbie duo that run the Diamond Taxi service in Diamond City. They drive a taxi that's able to float on water, fly into outer space and more, and they often tend to pick up supernatural passengers. Although Dribble is the driver, Spitz seems to be the brains of the duo. Their minigames are usually Sci-Fi themed. I always pick one of the two of them when playing multiplayer games, because look how adorable they are in their blue coveralls, wearing goggles and helmets! Also, their level in Smooth Moves is by far my favorite, because of the super happy soundtrack!

5. Meowth from the Pokemon series



Meowth, that's right! I won't lie. Meowth's position on this list is based almost entirely on his depiction in the anime. He doesn't have much of a personality in any of the games (although he is charmingly goofy in Pokemon Snap), but since he originated in video game form, it felt appropriate to include him. In the anime of course, he is part of the villainous Team Rocket trio, and he's one of the few Pokemon in the show that can speak English, having taught himself the language in an attempt to appear more sophisticated to a swanky female Meowth that he had the hots for. He's one of my favorite characters in the show due to his personality, although sadly I don't believe I've ever used him in the video games.

4. Cait Sith from Final Fantasy VII



During my first playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, Cait Sith was consistently in my party as soon as he joined the team at the Gold Saucer. I was immediately drawn to his adorable character design. A cute little black cat atop a huge, lovable Moogle? Yes, please! Unfortunately, his limit break was a little lame, and I never understood how exactly he attacked things with megaphones as his weapons, but I always used him nonetheless. Then I found out what he really was, just a toy controlled by a member of Shinra, and I liked him a little less. It's sort of difficult to determine Cait Sith's true character after that revelation, whether he is trustworthy or not, and whether he is controlled entirely by Reeve or contains some hint of artificial intelligence as well (why would he make such a big deal about sacrificing himself at the Temple of the Ancients if they could just send along another one?). In the end, though, I still think he's the most adorable team member in all of the Final Fantasy series, even though I don't usually use him to fight anymore.

3. Xiao from Dark Cloud



Xiao is actually a stray cat that the hero Toan discovers and rescues from the Divine Beast dungeon. After being given a magical potion, she suddenly transforms into a human form, with a tail and long ears, and joins Toan on his quest as a member of his party. She's very optimistic and loyal to Toan for rescuing her, but also very timid. I found her to be relatively weak, unfortunately, although her slingshots were sometimes useful in picking off long-range enemies, and of course her jumping abilities were necessary for navigating the dungeons. Her position on my list is due mainly to the idea behind her character design. How cool would it be if your pet cat could magically turn into a human and talk to you? Well, maybe that would be really weird, but it would be interesting to hear what they have to say about you!

2. Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim



I needed to include at least one sinister kitty on this list, and who better to fill that spot than Evil? Evil the Cat is a manifestation of pure evil, and rules over the planet Heck, a place which is eerily similar to our stereotypical visions of Hell. During the boss fight with Evil, he steals Earthworm Jim's suit, rendering him quite useless and leaving him only with the ability to jump. Once you regain your suit, you must then defeat each of Evil's nine lives before he can finally be vanquished. Although he is so thoroughly evil, he can sometimes be seen licking his fur or playing with a ball of yarn, making him as adorable as he is evil!

1. Cats from the Animal Crossing series



I tried to pick just one for this list, but I couldn't. There are so many great feline characters in the Animal Crossing games, it's impossible for me to choose a favorite! My gut instinct was to go with Blanca, because of her hilarious and creative minigame where you have to draw a face for her. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to draw her all bug-eyed, crazy looking, super angry or just normal, and it's even funny just to see her walking around with no face at all (and somewhat shocking the first time you encounter her)! But I also have a soft spot for Rover, the very first character you meet who introduces himself on the train to your destination. I like that he has a name typical for a dog, even though he is a cat. Rover can be a bit too talkative and nosy, however, which is slightly annoying but also rather endearing. At least he's not as bad as Resetti. And then I remembered Bob. Who doesn't love Bob the cat? He's a super chill male cat with purple fur and a flowery dress, so basically he's awesome in every way. I never had him in my town though, which makes me sad. I did have plenty of other cool cats in my town however, including the equally chill Punchy, the super sweet Kiki and the very sassy Monique. In short, I don't think any list of awesome video game animals would be complete without an Animal Crossing character, although it may be difficult to pick just one!

So what did you think? Were there any glaring omissions that I forgot about? Were you expecting half-naked women and are therefore thoroughly disappointed? Let me know in the comments!








Hello friends! It's been a while since I've done one of these. Many of the games I've listed this week are rather popular, so some of you may have already played most of these, but I figured they all deserved to be mentioned.

Also, just a heads up, if you enjoyed Momodora which I mentioned a few blogs ago, they've since created a sequel, Momodora II. It's quite excellent, though very similar to the first game.

Anyway, let's get this thing started!

Hydorah by Locomalito



Yes, I've written about pretty much every Locomalito game now, I know. It's just... he's such a wonderful developer, and he represents everything that I love about the indie game world. I also said I wasn't going to write about Hydorah until I'd beaten it. Well, I lied. But I've played this game so much now that I feel confident in recommending it, even though I may never actually beat it. Hydorah is a horizontal shoot-'em-up which is heavily influenced by classic shoot-'em-ups from the '80s. The game seems to be aimed at the most hardcore fans of the genre, and as such is extremely difficult. Levels are relatively short, although they are packed with enemies and attacks flying from every direction. One hit means death (unless you have a shield), so you must be very careful and precise in your flying while being sure to take down most of the enemies in your path. There are various power-ups that you can find by killing enemies, and every defeated boss gives you a new weapon. When selecting a level to play, you also select which weapons you would like to use in that level, so you can't use all of your weapons at once. You also have a limited number of saves, so use them wisely! The game is all about learning from your deaths, so don't be afraid to die, but also try not to be too reckless. The game's graphics and soundtrack are both phenomenal, with colorful, interesting enemy designs, strange and beautiful landscapes, and an absolutely awesome soundtrack! The difficulty level may be discouraging for some, but somehow I just keep coming back to try it again. I love a challenging game!

Umbrella Adventure by HiVE



Umbrella Adventure is a beautifully hand-drawn and hand-animated adventure platforming game. It offers a massive world to explore, as you take control of a gopher in his journey to recover all of his stolen cakes. Your only tool to help you on this journey is an umbrella, which can be used in many different ways, from floating on water, to gliding through the air, to hanging off of hooks and warding off pesky insects. New skills are learned as the game progresses. The game features many challenging platforming and puzzle-solving elements, as well as a few mini-games. Trying to collect every cake adds to the game's longevity, although it's not required. I really enjoyed the game's charming humor and strange cast of characters, and I especially enjoyed the game's ending, it was very heartwarming. The graphics are really the defining feature of this game; all of the hand-drawn, black and white art is beautiful and very impressive! The original soundtrack is excellent as well. The only drawback is that many of the areas look very similar to each other, so it's sometimes easy to get lost. Although considering how much work must have went into drawing all of the scenery, I definitely don't blame them for reusing many of the same background elements for different areas.

Saut by Mabi Games



Saut is a platformer where your only means of movement is jumping. It was created in a week for GameJolt's Minimal Contest held in 2009, but has since been tweaked and remade to fix some of the problems it experienced due to its short development period. It's similar to the popular browser game Canabalt in many ways, although it's different enough to not seem like a copycat. The goal of the game is to make your way to the end of each level solely by jumping, and try to do so with as few deaths as possible. Timing and rhythm is key to successfully traversing the platforms. You can stop moving at any time to catch your breath and think about your next move, although sometimes it's best to keep up your momentum. The game is played with only one button (which can be any button you choose to use, by the way) to make your character jump. Holding down the button results in longer jumps, while tapping the button gives you shorter jumps. The game contains 15 levels divided into three different areas, and many different obstacles are introduced with each level. The graphics and settings are very beautiful and imaginative, consisting of silhouettes against various colored skies, and the jazzy soundtrack is quite excellent! The platforming could be difficult for some, but if you keep at it you should be able to finish the game in no time at all.

Within a Deep Forest by Nifflas



Within a Deep Forest is a platformer set in a world very similar to Knytt, its successor which I've mentioned previously (actually, you can see the Knytt's village in the tutorial level!) You play as a ball (yep, a ball), which is the only thing capable of stopping a bomb set by Dr. Cliché, a bomb which will freeze the entire world rendering it devoid of life (best story ever?). You must track down Dr. Cliché's underwater laboratory, which you can do by traveling the world and finding various new ball types with special abilities. The ball's movement mechanics make for some very interesting and challenging platforming. Luckily, you don't roll around as much as you would expect a ball to, but rather you must control the ball's bouncing to reach high platforms and maneuver through obstacles. You'll come across different ball types, such as the rubber ball which can bounce very high, the glass ball which is fast but fragile, the iron ball which is heavy, and more. Each time you die, you'll return to the last checkpoint and can choose which type of ball you'd like to be, or you can press spacebar to pop yourself if you want to choose a new type of ball right away. The graphics are very charming, with beautiful landscapes and strange creatures around every corner. The soothing soundtrack and great sound effects are also very nice. If you enjoyed Knytt and haven't played this one yet, you should definitely check it out!

Seiklus by cly5m



Seiklus is perhaps the oldest indie game that I've written about, released in 2003, and has been quite influential in the indie game world (Nifflas [see above] has cited it as influence for his games, for example). The game's story is very subtle. You take control of a man who has just been separated from his lover by a falling meteor, and you must somehow make your way back to her. You are tasked with collecting various colored wisps and treasures as you explore the vast, colorful landscapes. The game is a platformer, but to me it was more about exploration. The platforming never presented much of a problem, although some areas of the game required some puzzle-solving skills in order to progress. You can't really die in Seiklus. There are a few areas with hostile creatures, but if you come in contact with them, you are just brought back to the entrance of the area, so it's never really much of a setback. The graphics are very simplistic, but offer a very interesting and beautiful world to explore, full of many surprises and hidden areas to discover. The soundtrack is fun, but at times seemed a little out of place to me. For example, the track played throughout the underground cavern and sea areas just didn't fit very well with the setting, in my opinion. That's only a minor problem, of course. The game as a whole is very relaxing, although at times you might find yourself wandering around aimlessly. It takes a while to figure out exactly what the game is all about, but it's worth it in the end.

And there we have it! I hope you enjoy these games. See you next time!
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About a year ago I played World of Warcraft for the first time. My friend who was rooming with me over the summer is kind of an MMO addict, and at the time he had recently started playing WoW again so he convinced me to play it with him while we were living together. I played the game for a few months with him and a few other friends. I've since stopped playing, but I heard recently that they're going to start allowing players to play for free until you reach level 20. I'm considering taking advantage of this and starting a new account, because the earlier parts of the game were actually the parts I enjoyed the most.

My experience playing World of Warcraft was probably a lot different than most other peoples' experiences however. I enjoyed my time with the game, but I tended to play the game my own way rather than trying to emulate what everyone else was doing, the way you're apparently "supposed" to play the game.


My orc did not actually look like this... he had more hair.

I created an orc rogue named Pokeylope (a Psychonauts reference) and began roaming around Durotar and the Barrens completing quests and exploring the world. I eventually got to about level 20, but my friend noticed that I was doing a bunch of quests that weren't giving me much experience.

Friend: You know you don't have to do those quests, they're under your level.
Me: Oh... well what if I want to do them? This one's kinda fun.
Friend: I mean, you could but you'd be wasting your time.

This was probably my first hint that I wanted to play the game differently than how I was supposed to be playing it. My friend would try to get me to do the quests which gave me the most experience, even though they often tended to be particularly boring "kill a certain number of this enemy" kinds of quests. I enjoyed doing the quests where I was sent to explore the area or find a particular item for someone, or quests that triggered certain events in the game which you would never see otherwise. If a quest sounded interesting to me, or if it yielded a particular item that intrigued me, I would choose to do it regardless of the amount of experience it offered. This apparently irked my friends and confused other people in the game, who couldn't understand why I would want to do this. Personally, I couldn't understand why they would want to grind levels by killing the same enemies over and over, but I didn't tell them that.

Another thing I did that confused other players was to wear seemingly random or useless pieces of equipment. At one point while I was around level 20, I was taking a zeppelin from the Undercity to Orgrimmar and some other guy riding the ship with me decided to check out my equipment.

Some dude: Uhh why are you wearing so much white equipment? By your level I had all green and blue stuff.
Me: I like the way they look.
Some dude: Thats fuckin dumb.
Me: Ok.

He then challenged me to a duel, but I'm not particularly fond of PvP so I leapt from the Zeppelin and rode away on my wolf mount. I told my friend about the encounter, and he told me that it wasn't a good idea to wear low level equipment because my DPS would be way down. I decided I didn't really care that much because I was able to kill enemies just fine anyway, even if it took me a little longer than it needed to. I'd rather look cool and take a long time to kill enemies than look like a strange, leather-bound freak that killed them quickly. My friend crafted me a leather helmet to wear, because the Red Defias Mask I was wearing didn't have any stat bonuses, but I decided to stick with the mask because it seemed more befitting of a rogue. I finally switched it out once I got the Ebon Mask, because it looked even cooler and had stat bonuses. Whenever I found new equipment, if it was ugly or clashed with the rest of my outfit I would sell it even if it was better DPS-wise than the item I was currently wearing. I also tended to use weapons that I thought looked cooler than other more powerful ones. My twin Torturing Pokers were a favorite of mine for quite a while.



As I continued playing the game and leveling up, I continued doing things that most other players weren't doing. My favorite thing to do in World of Warcraft turned out to be exploring. I realized that you could get a bunch of achievements for exploring all of the different locations, and if you explored the entirety of Azeroth you could get a title and a tabard, so that became my goal. I began exploring all of the beginner areas for Alliance players, places that I would never have gotten to see otherwise since I didn't plan on creating an Alliance character. This decision also confused my friends.

Friend: Bean! We're gonna do an instance, come join!
Me: Ok! Give me a few seconds.
Friend: What the fuck are you doing in Elwynn?
Me: Trying to get some exploring achievements.

I continued exploring the map, despite my friends' confusion and the confusion of other players. One of my favorite exploration moments happened when I decided to explore Stormwind City. Being a relatively low level member of the Horde, this was clearly a bad idea, but all I needed to do was step foot in the city in order to register the achievement. I turned on Sprint and rushed past the guards into the city, registered the achievement, and was immediately killed by a mob of angry Alliance members, all of whom were probably laughing at my stupidity. But I didn't really care, because I got what I came for.

Eventually, I explored all of Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, Outland and Northrend, obtained my Tabard of the Explorer and earned the title "Pokeylope the Explorer." I was quite pleased with myself and wore the tabard and title proudly. Some areas were actually quite challenging to explore, especially attempting to infiltrate Teldrassil and the Bloodmyst and Azuremyst Isles, since Horde members are not supposed to be there (being a rogue really helped me out in these areas). This challenge, along with being able to see all of the beautiful environments that the developers created, provided me with a very fulfilling experience. I got to take in all of the various wonderful landscapes and discover all sorts of interesting places and creatures. One of my favorite discoveries was the Terokkarantula in Terokkar Forest, a massive and terrifying spider hiding and waiting in a remote location in the mountains. I defeated the spider for some quest points, and even though the quest didn't yield much experience it was still a thrill to fight such a creature single-handed.



Once my exploration goal was complete, I went on to complete quests and run some instances until I got to level 80, since that appears to be the main goal of the game (although now it's 85). Afterwards, I wasn't really sure what else I wanted to do. Most people seem to enjoy PvPing, or running the highest level instances over and over to get the best items, but those things just seemed boring to me. I'd reached the game's level cap and explored all of the world that the game offered, so there wasn't really much else I thought I could get out of the game.

I quit playing soon after reaching level 80, but I still have fond memories of my time with the game. Sometimes I think about starting a new character just so I can run around Azeroth again, with every intention of playing the exact same way I used to, regardless of how stupid the other players think I might be. I might end up doing this sometime soon, since the experience would now be a free one.
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Hello friends! It's been about a month, but I've finally got another batch of free indie games for you! I decided to take a break for awhile, and during that break I graduated from college and have since been trying to find a job somewhere. I'm currently waiting to hear back from a local newspaper which might let me write video game reviews for them! It would be a great opportunity, so I hope it works out.

Anyway, without further ado, let's begin!

Iji by Daniel Remar



Iji is a wonderfully detailed action/adventure/platformer game. The story centers around a girl named Iji, whose body is injected with nanotechnology to give her superhuman abilities so that she can defend her home from the Tasen, an invading alien force. The story becomes very complex and developed, with lots of twists and turns and tons of dialogue and short cutscenes. Iji also has a very nice system of weapons and upgrades. There are eight basic weapons which you can find, although you need to level up certain stats in order to be able to use them. You can also combine weapons to make even more powerful ones, resulting in a total of sixteen available weapons. There are several stats you can upgrade throughout the game, such as the strength of Iji's kick, her ability to crack codes and hack into things, the power of her weapons, her health bar, etc. You can choose which upgrades you want at various computer consoles spread throughout each level. The game is very interesting in the that story adapts to how you play, so depending on your actions throughout the game, certain events, dialogue or cutscenes might change. The game features some nice 2D graphics and very cool enemy designs, a pretty badass soundtrack, and lots of stuff to unlock. The reading can get a bit heavy at times, especially if you want to read all of the journal entries and computers scattered throughout each level, but it can be worth it just to experience the incredibly detailed world that Daniel Remar has created. Iji is a pretty wonderful character, and an excellent example of a strong female protagonist. I love the comments and battle cries she makes whenever she kills an enemy, although they probably change depending on how you play the game. I'm going to need to play this again as a pacifist.

City of Doom by SharkArm Studios



City of Doom is a re-envisioning of an Action 52 game of the same name. While the original was rather lame, this newer version is actually really cool! You must climb a tall, decrepit tower, maneuvering around debris and broken architecture while fighting off swarms of alien bugs to reach the top of the tower and defeat the alien overlord. You start off with a machine gun with unlimited ammo, but there are two other nifty weapons you can find along the way. You can rotate around the four sides of the building if your path ever gets blocked or if you need to flee from enemies. There are also hidden ammo boxes and extra lives (the people that appear to be doing half-assed jumping jacks) that you can find if you care to explore the building. The game features monochromatic, Game Boy-style graphics, very interesting character and enemy designs, some odd but fitting retro sound effects, and an awesome soundtrack provided by pgil. It's not a very long game and there isn't a save option, but once you defeat a boss you can continue from that point on the main menu.

Super Puzzle Platformer by Andrew Morrish



Super Puzzle Platformer is a very charming and addictive game which, as the title would suggest, combines puzzle and platformer elements. It plays sort of like the Mr. Driller games but in reverse. Your goal is to get the highest score possible by shooting and destroying the colored blocks that are falling all around you, while trying to stay on top of them. If multiple blocks of the same color are touching, you can destroy all of them at once to get a combo bonus. The game compliments you on your destruction with words of praise, such as "smokin'!" or "jazzy!" depending on the number of blocks you destroy at once. Destroying blocks will cause coins to appear, which will slowly upgrade your weapon upon collection. If a block falls on top of you, your weapon will be downgraded. The game becomes more and more hectic the longer you stay alive, and ends when you either fall onto the spikes under the first row of blocks or jump onto a spike block. The only drawback to this game is that it can run kind of slowly on some computers, but even though it seemed a bit slow for me I still had a lot of fun with it.

Swarm Racer by Lexaloffle



Swarm Racer is a very interesting and unique racing game. You control a small swarm of insects, and must collect all of the jewels in each level as quickly as possible. You can spread your swarm out into a wide circle to collect more jewels at once, or regroup into a tight cluster to get through obstacles easily. Levels contain various obstacles which may speed up your swarm, slow them down, stop them temporarily or cause them to bounce backwards. If you move too quickly through the levels, you may lose some members of your swarm, but sometimes this is necessary to beat the level within a certain amount of time. Completing a level quickly may earn you a bronze, silver or gold trophy. I find it a little strange that there's no music playing while you're racing, but it's not too big of a deal.

Teleportower by Kaho



Teleportower is a very unique and challenging puzzle platformer. The game is split into two screens, and you can teleport between the two screens, utilizing the platforms and other obstacles from each screen to make your way to the jewel. The game contains 100 levels divided between 10 different towers. The first five towers each introduce a new mechanic, while the last five towers, known as the challenge towers, test your teleportation skills once you have become comfortable with the mechanics. Some of the challenge tower levels can be quite difficult, and may take a bit of thinking before you can even begin to try and solve them. The graphics and soundtrack are quite charming, and the gameplay mechanics and level design are rather ingenious. There are often certain obstacles strewn about the levels that don't actually help you achieve your goal and seem to exist only to distract you, so you have to keep in mind where you're trying to get to and use the parts of the level that will help you get there. If you enjoy challenging puzzle platformers, such as the Portal games (only without the story), then you'll probably enjoy this one!

That's all for this week. I hope you enjoy the games!
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