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.
Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Super Mario RPG
Team Fortress 2
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Beyond Good & Evil
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal I guess)
Michael Crichton books
Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns
Krazy Kat comics
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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!
Everyone appreciates a good voice actor. Bad voice acting can seriously turn you off to a game (I couldn't play very much of Mega Man 8 because the voice acting was atrocious). Thankfully, for the most part we're starting to get much higher quality voice acting in games today.
I've started paying much closer attention to voice acting lately, after I began recognizing certain voices from other games that I played. I was finishing up the Viewtiful Joe series a few weeks ago that I had on backlog for awhile, and I got really excited when I got to the battle with Cameo Leon in Viewtiful Joe 2. He sounded like Teddie from Persona 4 on tons of caffeine (which is a scary thought if you're at all familiar with Teddie)! I paused the game once the battle started and went to my computer to look up the voice actor for Teddie (Dave Wittenberg), and sure enough he was also credited as voicing Cameo Leon!
A few days ago I started playing Dark Cloud 2, and as soon as Max started talking I immediately thought he sounded like Viewtiful Joe. It must have been the way he laughed. I looked up the voice actors for those two characters as well, but they were voiced by two different guys. I still think they sound very similar though.
So those two instances got me thinking more about voice actors. I decided that I prefer voice actors to be unrecognizable. Even though I was excited that I recognized Cameo Leon's voice actor, I couldn't stop thinking about Teddie after that and felt like I was beating up Teddie in a chameleon costume. For regular actors in movies and television, you can see their faces, so they're already recognizable if you've seen them in something before. They could of course be wearing a ton of make-up or something so that they would be less recognizable (Johnny Depp is notorious for this. I never would have known Edward Scissorhands and Jack Sparrow were the same person if it wasn't for the credits!) but usually this isn't the case. When you watch movies, you're ideally supposed to suspend your knowledge of the actors so that they will come across as characters within a story, rather than actors in real life. This is becoming harder for me to do lately, now that I've seen so many movies and they keep casting the same actors in every movie that comes out anymore.
In video games, however, you don't get to see the actors' faces. You only get to hear their voices. So if they're good at their job, then ideally gamers shouldn't be able to recognize voice actors from one role to the other, since they're supposed to be completely different characters. It's much easier to create individual characters set apart from their actors when you can't see the actors' faces (this would also apply to animated movies or cartoons).
Of course, some people have very distinct voices, making it much easier to identify them. I may have recognized Dave Wittenberg's voice, but I do think he was trying very hard to make Cameo Leon sound different from his other roles, such as Teddie. They do sound like different characters, but there's just something about his voice that was familiar to me, probably from listening to Teddie talk so goddamn much. I was very surprised and impressed, however, to find out that Dave Wittenberg also provided the voice for Glitch in Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. He sounds completely different in that role, and I never would have guessed it was him. Glitch is a much less excitable character than Teddie or Cameo Leon, he speaks much more slowly and with a lower-pitched voice. I applaud Mr. Wittenberg for being able to voice a diverse group of characters, even if he's somewhat recognizable at times.
Another game I played recently, Portal 2, had a voice actor that I recognized immediately but for different reasons. Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson was voiced by the well-known actor, J.K. Simmons, who most may remember as J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man movies. While I do think J.K. Simmons is a hilarious person, I couldn't stop picturing his face as he delivered all of his lines in Portal 2. Though you don't get to see Cave Johnson much in the game aside from a few portraits, you can tell that he doesn't look much like J.K. Simmons, but I can't picture him as anyone else unless I'm looking at one of his portraits. I kind of felt like J.K. Simmons was supposed to be a selling point for the game, much like a famous actor would be for most movies. I still think Cave Johnson's lines were very entertaining, but I kind of wish they had found a relatively unknown (but still talented) voice actor instead of someone that everybody has heard of. Or at least J.K. Simmons could have delivered a performance that would make his voice unrecognizable from his movie roles, rather than sounding exactly like J. Jonah Jameson and every other character he's played.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West features a well-known actor as well. This time, we get to hear Andy Serkis, known for his role as Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, providing the voice for Monkey. I was much more comfortable with this choice than I would normally be with well-known actors, because Monkey sounds absolutely nothing like Gollum, and Andy Serkis' face isn't exactly immediately recognizable (at least not for me anyway). I might have preferred going into the game without knowing who the voice actor was beforehand, and then being pleasantly surprised afterwards to find out it was Gollum, but nevertheless I was able to play the game without once thinking of Gollum or Andy Serkis, because his voice work for Monkey was so unique from his other roles.
So I guess in general, I like to hear talented and enthusiastic voice work in video games, but I don't like to be picturing some other character or the voice actor's face while I'm playing. The voice actors can be well-known, as long as they provide a unique voice for each character they play. Obviously, voice actors need to work so they're most likely going to be in more than one game.
For the record, my favorite voice actor, Rob Smith, has apparently only played one video game character (at least according to IMDb), although he has had various television and movie roles. Rob Smith provided the voice for Teisel Bonne in the Mega Man Legends series, and he gave a damn good performance! He could go from a grumbling, menacing voice to an erratic, high-pitched voice in a single line, and his laughter was just incredible. He would laugh a different way every time, and each time Teisel laughed I laughed as well. He really brought life to a character who wasn't very visually appealing to me, and created one of my favorite video game characters of all time.
Hello friends! Welcome back to my freeware indie game series! This week's games are all rather short, but very fun. They're perfect for playing when you have an hour or two to spare. Also, just a heads up but I might not be doing another one of these for a while, because graduation is coming up in about two weeks. I'll be focused on finishing up my classes, preparing for graduation, trying to find a job and whatnot. It's all a little nerve-wracking. I don't really feel like I'm ready to be done with college yet. Hopefully all goes well. But in the meantime, here are five more games for you to play!
As you should probably all know by now, I'm a huge fan of games that take place underwater. In Ikachan, the predecessor to Pixel's monumental indie game, Cave Story, you control a little squid named Ikachan, who must help the members of a small underwater ecosystem which is under the control of a huge tyrant fish named Ironhead. Due to several earthquakes, the ecosystem has been cut off from the rest of the ocean, and food is beginning to run low. Ikachan must interact with various creatures (mostly what appear to be anemones) in order to obtain items and progress the story. You move by propelling yourself in a certain direction, and you can attack enemies once you find the spike hat. Attacking enemies and eating fish food (the small blue immobile fish) will increase your experience, and leveling up will increase your health and attack power. The game is MUCH shorter compared to Cave Story, but it's still a lot of fun. I really enjoy the theme song and Pixel's stylistic retro graphics. Plus, you get to play as an adorable little squid! That was definitely a selling point for me, haha. Oh, and there is a starfish character who shares my name!
Speaking of Pixel, Momodora is an awesome platformer which was heavily inspired by Pixel's Cave Story. In Momodora, you play as an orphan girl named Isadora whose mother has been sacrificed. She enters a labyrinth in search of a sacred item which will bring her mother back to life. Equipped with a magical leaf, Isadora must fight her way through the labyrinth, battling a plethora of bug-eyed enemies and collecting items and new weapons. You can find several awesome guns as well as a boomerang and a shield, although the leaf remains my favorite weapon. The graphics and level design are clearly inspired by Pixel's games, and are quite charming. I really like the character and enemy designs especially. The soundtrack is also quite excellent. The game isn't terribly long, but it's a lot of fun and I've played through it several times. I still haven't managed to find every item in the game though. It may be inspired by Cave Story, but it can definitely hold it's own as a great indie game!
Sombreros is a pretty badass and humorous Western-themed shooter game. You play as a Mexican gunslinger with infinite ammo and an awesome sombrero, in a quest to take down a corrupt politician. During the game, you can call upon the powers of your sombrero to freeze time and select up to six targets for a round of quick shots. You can replenish your sombrero's power by collecting your fallen enemies' sombreros. The game is heavily Mexican-themed, with piņata checkpoints, annoying chihuahuas, fiery habanero peppers, an awesome Western-influenced soundtrack, and other things you might find in a stereotypical Mexican setting. This game can be quite difficult at first, since you can only take one hit before you die. It took me awhile before I could get comfortable shooting down all of the enemies. Luckily, you respawn very quickly to your last checkpoint, so death is more of a minor annoyance. I also found the game to be very humorous. I loved the little cutscenes before each of the standoffs, and the dialogue was very funny, although oftentimes in a subtle way. The game definitely has a lot of personality!
Don't Look Back is an earlier title by the guy who brought you the excellent indie game, VVVVVV. Based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from ancient Greek mythology, Don't Look Back is a short platformer which follows the story of a man who has recently lost his lover. You must lead him away from her gravestone, tackling obstacles and fighting enemies along the way, and never turning back. The gameplay changes frequently to keep things interesting, and there are a few boss battles and difficult obstacles. Like in VVVVVV, whenever you die, you quickly respawn back to the screen you died on (although sometimes it will take you back a few screens). The game has very simple retro graphics with a red color palette which adds to the dark mood of the game, and the soundtrack is rather haunting. The meaning of the game's title changes periodically throughout the game, which I found to be very interesting. It shouldn't take too long to beat, and you can play it in a browser or download it to your desktop. Definitely give it a try!
Another platformer, I guess there are a lot of platformers this time around. In A Game with a Kitty, you play as a fat, lazy, and somewhat stupid (but still adorable) kitty named Kittey, wearing what looks like King Dedede's hat. The village elder asks you to investigate a mysterious tower that has appeared on the outskirts of the village, leading Kittey on his quest. You can jump on enemies to kill them, collect coins and discover several new abilities along the way, including the ability to charge forward or use your hat as a parachute. This is another rather short game, but it can become quite challenging towards the end. The retro graphics are beautiful, and remind me of a very mystical Mario game. The game is humorous and adorable, and definitely worth a try if you love old school platformers.
That wraps it up for this week's batch of indie games! Let me know what you think, and be sure to donate to the developers if you have a few bucks to spare. I hope you enjoy these games!
Hello friends! Welcome back to my free indie game series!
I've decided to spread out my posts for this series a bit more, since I'm beginning to run out of suggestions before I get a chance to play more indie games. I definitely don't plan on ending the series just yet, since there are still plenty of excellent games out there and surely there are more to come in the future. I just won't be posting every weekend like I initially planned. In somewhat unrelated news, I finally finished Portal 2 so I've had some more time to play indie games. However, I just bought Demon's Souls the other day, so that game will probably end up consuming a lot of my gaming time in the next few weeks, haha.
I figure most of you have probably already played flOw, since it's one of the more well-known freeware games out there, but I'm guessing there might still be a few who have not. Regardless, it's a great game which deserves to be mentioned. flOw is a simulation game developed by the same guy who brought you Flower for the PS3 (I actually thought Jenova Chen was a woman until just now... huh). In flOw, you control a segmented worm-like creature through an underwater environment, eating smaller organisms and fighting larger organisms as you go along. Consuming organisms will make your body longer and more powerful. There are green and red organisms on each level; eating the green ones will take you back a level and eating red ones will take you to the next level. You can see what awaits you in the next level as the organisms can be seen below you in the blurry distance. As you progress through the game, the water will become darker and the enemies will become more difficult. The controls are simple, and only involve clicking with the mouse to move and holding down the mouse to move faster; organisms are eaten automatically when you approach them. The game is particularly relaxing to play, much like Flower, with ambient music and clear, pleasant graphics. You can download it to your desktop or play it in a browser. You don't really have an excuse not to have played this one yet, so get to it if you still haven't tried it!
Action Fist is a super fun action shooter, although despite its name there are actually no fists involved. The game follows the story of a guy named Domingus, whose girlfriend, dog and favorite scarf have been stolen by a madman (Oh no, not the scarf!). You can choose to play as Domingus or his friend Ina (as well as two other unlockable characters) and shoot your way through all of the enemies and bosses on your quest to track down the madman. The boss fights are all really quite epic! My favorite boss fight is the one pictured above, with a giant robotic spider-like thing. The weapon design in this game is pretty nifty. There are three different colored bullets you can get, and colored enemies are weak to bullets of the same color, so it's a good idea to have two different colored guns on hand. There are also weapon upgrades to make your guns fire faster or fire in multiple directions and such. The game features very nice retro graphics, a badass soundtrack, several unlockable features such as new characters, difficulty levels and costumes, and a 2-player co-op mode. The thing I like most about this game, however, is the character designs. For an action game, you would expect to see a muscled, badass, possibly shirtless Rambo-type character, but in Action Fist you get to choose between a rather fashionable blonde guy with curly hair and a scarf or a woman with a long skirt and a Rambo-style bandanna who looks like she could kick your ass. It's very refreshing to see characters who defy the stereotypes of the genre.
Escape from the Underworld is an exploration platformer where you play as a fallen angel attempting find a way out of the Underworld. At the start of the game, you will be able to roam around the upper world with all of your powers intact, but once you are banished to the Underworld you will be left with absolutely no powers and only one hit point. You must then explore the complicated caverns of the Underworld to recover all of your lost abilities and hit points before finding a way out of the Underworld to reclaim your position as an angel. The game contains rather simple graphics; I'm honestly not too fond of the character designs, they're a little too simplistic for my liking (also, what's with the bunny ears?). I suppose the simple character designs could just be symbolic of light and dark, good and evil, but it still seems like it's lacking something. One of the high points of the game, however, is the absolutely stunning soundtrack! It kind of contrasts with the simple graphics, but it's wonderful to listen to and definitely gives the game some added depth. The story can be rather chilling at times, and the concept is very interesting and wonderfully executed. I can look past the unsatisfying character designs in this case, since the game as a whole is really quite amazing.
Titanion is a shoot-em-up with some very interesting game mechanics. The majority of Kenta Cho's games feature innovative game mechanics, and this one is no different. Your job in Titanion is to shoot down as many enemy insects as you can to earn a high score. Waves of insects will swoop down around you and try to collide with you or shoot at you. You are supplied with two abilities to retaliate: you can shoot them down yourself or you can use a wave attack which will allow you to take control of some of the insects, and they will begin shooting down their own kin. Doing so will greatly increase the amount of damage you shell out and will also protect you from attacks; if you are attacked while controlling insects, you will lose control of those insects but won't be hurt. The game features colorful, geometric graphics and an intense techno soundtrack. There are also three different modes of play: Basic, Classic and Modern. In Basic, you can use your control attack whenever you want; in Classic you can only use your control attack when you have no other insects in your control; and in Modern, you can't actually take control of insects but you have a super powerful attack to begin with. Classic is probably for more advanced players, but Basic is my favorite mode to play.
Tottenham is a game that's all about simplicity, and in this case I think it really works. It's a puzzle game where you play as a demolitions expert in charge of clearing a path from one subway station to the next, so that a subway line can be built between them. You can throw explosives towards the debris to clear it away, but be warned: the resulting shrapnel caused by the explosions can kill you! There are several strategies that you can use to avoid flying shrapnel, such as trying to dodge it or running and hiding behind something. Later levels also contain pests than can kill you which must be exterminated before the subway lines can be built. It's a relatively short game with a final boss battle, and your progress is saved once you complete a level. The graphics are extremely simplistic, consisting primarily of colored squares, and were apparently influenced by some mosaic art at the Tottenham Court Road station in London. The theme song played during the game is also really excellent and catchy. Don't be turned away by the simple graphics; Tottenham is a fun and challenging little puzzle game.
That's all for this week. I'll see you guys next time for some more awesome free games!
The wonderful thing about being in college right now is that pretty much everyone here has grown up with video games being a part of their lives in some way. Even if they don't consider themselves gamers, they've most likely at least played a Mario game or two and usually aren't averse to trying more games. In fact, I can't really think of a single friend that I've met in college who I haven't played a video game with at some point. Being a college gamer, I've spent a huge amount of time playing video games with my roommates, and interestingly each of my roommates have provided me with very different multiplayer gaming experiences.
"Not on my watch!"
My freshman roommate, Josh, was a gamer like me. I was very excited when I moved into my dorm room freshman year and saw that Josh had brought a Wii with him, since at the time I didn't own any of the new generation consoles. At the beginning of the year, he only had a few single player games, so I took advantage of the opportunity to play Super Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess since I hadn't been able to play them before. We didn't really play any games together on the Wii, except for the occasional bout of Wii Bowling, until Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released. Josh went out and bought it the morning of its release and started playing while I was still asleep, but kept raising the volume little by little because he really wanted me to wake up and play with him. So I awoke that morning to the sweet sounds of my roommate fighting enemies in the Subspace Emissary, and I immediately joined in and played the game with him from my bed. It was a wonderful day.
Eventually everyone else from the hall in my dorm joined in and we began playing versus matches, and we soon became seasoned pros. Playing Brawl with Josh tends to be a much different experience than playing Brawl with anyone else. Whenever we play versus matches, he waits for me to select a character and then yells, "Not on my watch!" and immediately picks a very similar character to try and best me. If I pick Falco, he always picks Fox; if I pick Ness, he always picks Lucas; or if I pick a character like Olimar that is the only one from a particular series, he'll pick the same character. Then we proceed to focus on beating each other up first to try and get the first kill in before fighting the other players. We also tend to shout each other's names whenever we're killed, even if the death was caused by someone else. He's definitely my favorite person to Brawl with.
During my sophomore and junior years, I roomed with my friends Kerry and Spenser, neither of whom would probably consider themselves a gamer even though they do enjoy playing video games occasionally. At this time I decided to buy an NES again, having unfortunately sold mine a long time ago. They both really enjoyed playing Dr. Mario, especially Kerry. She doesn't ever play games by herself really, except for Minesweeper which she is addicted to, but she does play multiplayer games like Brawl or WarioWare whenever we had a bunch of people over. Even so, Dr. Mario ended up becoming the thing that she would always suggest we play whenever we were bored. She began playing the game by herself at one point, in order to hone her skills, until we were pretty evenly matched. We would play the game for rather long periods of time, cursing at each other whenever someone gave the other player extra pieces, until we just couldn't focus anymore.
"Kerry, I don't know how much longer I can last. My eyes are going crazy." "Just one more match, Bean, we're almost done!"
Spenser tended to play a wider variety of games with me, including Donkey Kong Country, Pocky & Rocky, Bubble Bobble, and pretty much any other two player game that I was really itching to play but needed a partner for. Our game of choice, however, ended up being Mario Party. He would always ask if we could play it, and I never really turned him down.
I had the first two Mario Parties for N64 and one for Gamecube, but we usually played the N64 ones. He would always pick Yoshi and I would always pick Wario, and we'd always set one of the computers to Peach and constantly complain about how much of a bitch she was (Seriously, I honestly believe that computer Peach is way craftier than any other computer character). Spenser is actually really good at video games, so he'd usually beat me whenever we played versus games. He owned a Playstation but didn't play it too often. I was pretty impressed with his gaming abilities.
"Ben, I'm having a bad day... Can we play Mario Party?" "Of course!"
My friend Justin roomed with me over the summer after my junior year. He is a gamer, and got me to play World of Warcraft for the first time with him, although I didn't play it for very long. We also played Brawl together occasionally, but most of our gaming time together was spent watching the other play a single player game. He would watch me play Persona 3 and Dragon Quest VIII, and I would watch him play Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV. I don't really have any other friends that enjoy RPGs as much as I do, so I really enjoyed rooming with him just so that I could watch him play some of my favorite games. I don't get to watch people play games very often, which is actually something I rather enjoy doing for some reason.
Currently in my senior year, I live in a house full of guys but only really hang out with two of them, Mark and Dave. They'll play games with me occasionally, such as Brawl or Team Fortress 2, or sometimes Mark will watch me play games in my room. They are primarily Xbox gamers though, which is the one console that I don't own. I don't usually join games with them, since I'm not too crazy about Halo or Call of Duty, but rooming with Xbox gamers does at least give me a chance to watch some games that I probably won't ever play myself, which is good for my general gaming knowledge I suppose.
College has been quite an experience, and I'm happy to have had roommates with such a wide variety of gaming backgrounds. I've made many wonderful friends, and I'm so grateful to be able to share my favorite hobby with them, to show them why I love games so much and to learn some things from them as well. I'm sad that college is going to be over soon, but hopefully I'll meet some great new friends to game with in the future!
From left to right: Josh, Ray (not one of my roommates, but I do play games with him), Kerry, Mark, and myself.