Category Archives: fun fridayz

PCP: 3D Ultra Minigolf

Fun Fridayz #16 – Finite Flaws

Minigolf, Many Fun

The short of it: It’s about as much fun as real crappy minigolf. 

No real excuses here. Felt bad, fell asleep. 

So my buddy Max and I had a few and booted up the ol’ 360 arcade game, 3D Ultra Minigolf. 

I downloaded it a few months ago for a few bucks after watching Achievement Hunter’s wonderfully classic Let’s Play 3D Ultra Minigolf.

It went about as well as one could expect. Mixing wonky physics and alcohol turned into a series of terrible failures, where a max power shot was a hole in one, but putting became an extra six strokes on a Par 2 course.

For a cheap laugh, though, it’s a real sinker.

PCP: The Long Dark

Fun Friday #15 – Ffffffffroze Fun

Long Dark, Short Arrival

Alright, I’ll be honest, I took a personal day to recover. This’ll be updated tomorrow

Hey, it’s updated. The short of it is I’m exhausted and this game is dope– if you’re into survival and atmosphere, pick this up ASAP. As much fun as I had, I think I’ll wait for a sale to pick this up.

Okay, so I survived the long dark.

Not the game, the skull splitting hangover I got from a single sugary alcoholic drink for my birthday coupled with a week of exhaustion.

I did not survive The Long Dark.

That might be because I was playing the trial version of the now “finished” game– a rarity in the survival genre. Along with the fact that this is true survival, not survival horror, not survival zombie base building early access, or whatever other obnoxious tags get tacked onto the remnants of the Greenlight program, The Long Dark is almost a miracle.

Not only did it emerge from dreaded Early Access, it did so with a flourish, adding a story mode with its ultimate release. After playing through five or so days in said story mode, it’s delightfully competent. The animations for character interactions (depicted in flashbacks and only a little interaction) are these moving painted styles that manage to work with the gameplay’s very-obviously-Unity looks.

With a hotbutton for managing all of the important tasks for survival, like eating or crafting, the tension for survival is built on your management of resources, both material, chronological, and caloric. Instead of losing yourself in the frustration of management menus and mysterious blueprints that require a wiki, it’s truly all on your ability to survive.

So you find yourself, alone, with the wind howling in your ears as you desperately try to make a fire out of an old newspaper and the scattering of branches from the snowstorm.

Days pass. Maybe you don’t make it. Maybe you do, maybe you luck out and stumble on a cache and the corpse of its creator. Either way, you’ll eventually end up in a similar situation.

You find yourself, alone again, but you’re locked in the comfort of your cave. The fire is roaring, stocked with reclaimed wood and lumber, with a guaranteed burn time of nearly half a day. Your supply of venison and dog food give you a few days of comfort in the face of a blinding blizzard. The three bullets you own are always near your grasp, protecting you from the harsh realities of a devastated world.

And yet you feel no better than you did when your vision started to blur from exhaustion and hypothermia and your numb fingers struggled with tinder.

This is the possessive, enthralling terror of The Long Dark. There are no hordes to outsmart, no bosses to beat. Every sunrise isn’t a symbol of the warmth and hope. Instead, it’s a cold reminder that in just a few short hours, your body may consume the final calories of energy left in your body. Your new shelter may become a mangy wolf’s new home. You might just forget to boil your water when your thirst becomes too great.

Or you just might forget where your shelter is when the storm hits and the snow blinds you, leaving you to become just another victim of the long dark.

 

 

PCP: DemooD

Fun Fridayz #14 – Freaky/Free

Mood: Doom –
Doom Doom Doomdoom Doom

The short of it: The Doom demo demolishes for its demo, despite being dodgy for doubters, dredging up demonstrations from dangling in the depths of demise.

I cracked and finally got Doom, even though I already listened to its soundtrack in its entirety multiple times. And, much like Prey, my purchasing decision was based on the demo.

While a sale actually made me pull the trigger, trialing the first level made me pick up the gun.

As nice as “Free Weekends” and betas and such are (shoutout Path of Exile beta), it’s hard to argue against the value of a downloadable, specially focused trial that gives a sense of consumer-friendly development.

PCP: The Swapper

Fun Fridayz #12 – Free to Flee for a Few Mes

Swip Swap, You Don’t Stop

The short of it: The beautiful environments and bone-chilling environments make The Swapper a fascinating watch, but the solid puzzling mechanics make it equally as fun to play.

The Swapper is one of the staples of the initial indie peak. Along with Thomas Was Alone and Octodad, these games conquered the early proving grounds of independent development.


Note: I’m mostly going by my own timeline here. This isn’t exactly chronologically or empirically correct. I mean, these were the games that were the initial movers of things like Greenlight and Humble Bundle. They were the first games Microsoft and Sony (and probably Nintendo, but who even knows what/if they think) thought of as necessary additions to their marketplace to prove they supported indie devs.


The Swapper is the story of a lone survivor on a spaceship that may be populated by mysterious alien life forms with a taste for humans– a tale as old as time. Left with a tool that allows her to clone herself up to four times. She can swap possession from clone to clone to progress through locked areas of the deserted ship.

Here are cheap comparisons. It’s Metroidvania without the Metroid, without any clear enemies to worry about. It’s SOMA before SOMA.

But it’s a good game on its own merit. The literally-built-from-clay environments and models look amazing, the cloning mechanic manages to hold both gameplay and story value without compromising on either. Of course, it’s easy to be cynical about the game’s message of, “Here’s a video game mechanic, think about it.” But even taking the game at surface level, with none of the meta-gameplay concerns, it still manages to tell a good story in a known (humans have run out of resources, exploring far away worlds to find new ones) realm.

PCP: Watch_Dogs’ Spider Tank

Fun Fridayz #11 – Fight Fire with Freaky

Spider Tank, Spider Tank, Does Whatever a Spider Tank Does

The short of it: In a somewhat dark and real game world, this mode takes the reins off for explosive fun.

What, more on Watch_Dogs? Better call a watch dog because this seems suspiciously paid for!

Nah, I just really like this game. I barely get paid for my rent-paying job, which I’m surprisingly decent at, so getting a cent from this is hilarious.

Watch_Dogs has these kitschy mini games under the guise of “digital trips”– an earpiece emits a certain frequency that drops the user into completely believable hallucinations. These trips include leading a stealth-based resistance against robot overlords and driving a literal Hellsmobile.

All of these trips pale in comparison to the true trip.

Spider Tank.

The user is put in control of a tank that’s shaped like a spider, capable of crawling up buildings while firing a howitzer. Unlike the other trips, there’s no thin attempt at a story. It’s just, “Yo, here’s a spider tank. Destroy everything.”

There’s an upgrade wheel that offers typical things like a faster reload, stronger armor, and a power slam. However, none of these upgrades really feel like they’re drastically altering the gameplay because you’re already in a damn spider tank. The waves of cops and vehicles fall easily under the massive destructive force that is A DAMN SPIDER TANK . Oh, they’ve got some typical satellite weapon that’s about to destroy the city in an attempt to stop SPIDER TANK? Sounds like a job for SPIDER TANK.

Walk into this web.

PCP: IRL Tetris

Fun Fridayz #10 – Forget Filling

IRL Tetris: A Moving Experience

The short of it: There is no short of it. This is long and terrible. 

IRL Tetris, otherwise known as packing and moving, isn’t fun. It also doesn’t always happen on Fridayz.

I wanted to spin this as something satisfying, like optimizing the space in your car is actually gratifying.

Nah.

It’s just painful and frustrating. For me, it’s also been expensive. I closed a back door for the first time in months, causing the window regulator, which controls the up/down of the window, to snap. The part alone is $150. I guess that’s just pay to play though.

The Shame Car-dom
Also it rained, because I apparently picked the hard difficulty.

The gameplay sucks. Wonky physics and inconsistent performance means every attempt is a crapshoot. Sometimes everything runs smoothly, things hold together, and blood remains in the body. Others, however, quickly devolve into nonsense. Things will randomly tip while at a a standstill. The largest blocks catch on cracks that aren’t there, meaning all of the unload level progress is stalled until the clipping issue is resolved.

Co-op helps with some of these issues, but it does require either micro transactions or guilt points. It’s tricky, seeing as how some levels seem to be soloable when they really require another player. With enough grinding, it’s probably fine alone, but that’s a lot of time for a game with a limited lifespan.

The worst part of it all? No catchy theme music. At least the blocks don’t disappear when they line up perfectly.

 

PCP: Watch_Dogs

Fun Fridayz #9 – Free Fun

Watch_Dogs: Worth Watching, Dawg

The short of it: Despite accidentally boarding a machspeed hype train during its release, Watch_Dogs is an incredibly fun, complete game that looks fantastic. 

When it was first revealed at E3 a few years ago, people lost their minds. We hadn’t quite slid into our cynical echo chambers where we declare that anything that doesn’t look exactly the same as its promotional material to be lying garbage.

Many hypestorms later, it came to Games with Gold, and I’m absolutely loving it.

It’s a basic story of wronging the wrong guy– Aiden is a techno hacker wiz with gun skill and gristle, desperate to protect his sister and nephew from a mysterious badmandude.

As far as I know, he’s the greatest Aiden in gaming. The only other one I can think of is the dumb stupid force ghost Aiden from 2 Beyond 2 Souls, but still.

Of course, Aiden is a tad generic. He’s a low-talking white guy, with short, dark hair and scruff. But I can’t help but like him. His drive to protect his family is relatable, making his almost cringy lines about messing with the wrong guy actually touching and relatable.

It’s what’s really propelling me through the game. The progression system is satisfying, allowing the player to jump from hacking wallets to hacking helicopters, but it’s not an emotional motivator. It’s not what lets me look past the incredibly lackluster driving physics and obscene car camera controls.

Instead, watching Aiden’s willingness to become the type of guy he’s fighting against to protect his family makes me want more. His refusal to change and lack of desire to better himself is painfully relatable. He’s not taking the dark path like a hero willing to go the full length to stop evil. He’s just a really flawed guy watching out for his family.

PCP: Lethal League’s Prototype

Fun Fridayz #8 – First Fun, Finished Fun-ner

Lethal League‘s Prototype: Dodge Baller

The short of it: It says something about a game when its prototype version is good enough to stand on its own. Tight controls and a fun aesthetic make this lil’ demo a brilliant argument for buying the full version.

Demos are usually great ways to give possible players a taste of what the full package involves. Sometimes it stumbles, like Prey’s Opening Hour, and sometimes it over succeeds, like Lethal League‘s in-browser prototype.

The game’s simple– don’t get hit. It’s dodgeball with a dose of dynamite, with ball speeds maxing out at a million miles an hour and special moves allowing players to add spin to the ball or teleport it to behind opponents.

It’s bonkers in all the right ways. I owe Best Friends Play for introducing it to me in one of their old Friday Night Fisticuffs.


But here I am, with my stomach in a semi-permanent Gordian knot from losing a paycheck or two in less than 24 hours due to a brutally timed rent/deposit/car replacement parts/car breaking and needing more replacement parts cataclysm.

I’m fine, everything’s paid,  but my bank account’s sore from being squeezed. So I’m squeezing blood from this turnip of a demo. Turnip meaning a highly nutritious and valuable product.


So I’ve restricted myself to the prototype version of the game until I’m back to breathing room financially. Fortunately, it’s more than a demo. It’s a fully challenging slice of Lethal League‘s full package. Out of the fifty or some games I’ve played against the AI, I’ve won exactly one. And that was with a fair amount of cheesing on half of the points.

Point is, this is such a fun little tide-me-over. It demonstrates mechanics first and foremost; rather than trying to entice the player with a plot twist or an extreme display of graphics, it lets the player feel how the core game works before the polish.

Plus, you get this hype track as you try to stop the unflinching robot AI.

PCP XL: Mortal Kombat XL

Fun Fridayz #6 – Man My Madness is Mad

Mortal Kombat XL: Mortality Shortener

The short of it: With a refreshing emphasis on character over classics, MKX is a brilliant reawakening for a series that just saw a decent reawakening. Stunted by wearied cheapness instead of challenge, its single player options end up less than they could’ve been.

I’m straight terrible at fighting games. Arguably, I’m bad at all games, but fighting games really reveal how godawful I am at every facet of gaming. Learning from mistakes, proper timing, understanding mechanics, everything. I just shell up and scream, bashing on buttons like down-down-up-left-right-select-x-x-y-start-down-bumper-bash-the-batteries-out would do anything.

But here I am, absolutely loving MKX.

For the past few days, I’ve been destroying my blood pressure playing through the surprisingly good (but not quite as good as Injustice) story mode as well as struggling to succeed against the easy AI in 1v1. It’s been fun, at least, until I hit the final boss and dropped down from normal to very easy. But I guess that’s classic MK, or even just classic fighting game, where devs create a super dope system for combatting others but consistently fail to create a final boss that’s challenging rather than cheap. Much like Shao Kahn in, well, every single iteration of Mortal Kombat, the final boss of MKX is the same ol’ 25 percent damage taking, unblockable chainable projectile dealing cheapskate that’s far less of a triumph to beat than a relief.

Yet, I still love it. Giving every character three styles almost triples the already decent roster. Netherrealm finally stepped up and made new characters that are genuinely good, in both design and play. Erron Black’s sick design allows him to stand on his own, while Ferra/Torr’s classic big bulk/little spike playstyle allows them to fit in the classics. Kotal Kahn manages to hold his own as a less outrageous Shao Kahn, and D’Vorah’s instrumental place in the campaign makes her hard to ignore.

Everything just feels great. Sure, some animations are a little choppy or weird, but there really isn’t anything that’s pulled me from the heat of the battle. I’m frustrated by start up times and delays, but those are classic fighting game mechanics. My frustration is with myself, not the game, which is both calming and infuriating.

That aside, it’s still a fun ride. The only real problem with the story is the weird amount of stage wedging. By that, I mean that it’s obvious there’s a fairly select number of stages that the story has to force the player into– one of the fighters has to do some grandiose move to force the fight back into the market stage or the forest stage. That being said, I’d rather the stages be tight than the roster.

I think the real tragedy of Mortal Kombat, aside from the krappy side games and characters, is the fact that it took until a year post-release for this game to truly be worth reviewing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely excited to see what MKXI has to offer, but it straight up sucks that it took until 2016 for a 2015 game to be “complete.” I desperately wanted to play Injustice 2 after watching the campaign and various tournament fights, but I’m going to have to wait till Injustice 2 XL or whatever it is to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth of content.

Maybe it’s my discomfort with the rapidly growing trend of microtransactions as the profit base of games nowadays. Hell, maybe it’s about time for devs to really get the value they’ve earned after painful hours of coding and programming. But it’s still feels bad. It’s why I’m so divorced from Grand Theft Auto V after adoringly buying every DLC I could for its predecessor. It all feels like some kind of weird corporate trick, where a mixture of the cream and the crap is skimmed from the final product to be delivered later. And the messed up thing is that it makes sense for characters to be slowly developed and refined after the game’s release. But then there’s this day one pre-release nonsense, coupled with the microtransactions for easy fatalities.

It doesn’t quite feel right, I guess. Yeah, I’m just some dude and I’m bad at games. But it feels like a weird separation between player and developer– it seems to have slipped from relationship to business. There’s less hype about sick kombos and more about “additional kontent.”

But I’m still here, having a bunch of fun with these challenge towers and Test Your Luck with friends. Is the discomfort of post-release support worth the reward of a complete package a year later? I can’t say. All I can say is how much I’m liking the game, and how I’m deadass terrified of entering the online multiplayer. It’s a mortal fear.