New Thing #359: Play Zork

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Zork

Anyone who knows me might be surprised that I’ve never played Zork before. 

Sure I knew about the grandfather of all adventure games back in the day, but while everyone was messing about with MS-DOS, I was busy playing with my TI-99/4A. And that’s why Pirate Adventure is the first, and best, text adventure game I’ll ever played. But I’m sure if Zork were my first I’d be saying the same about it.

What I love about Zork, apart from it being freely available to play online, is just immersive the gameplay is. With just a few white words and simple commands on a black screen I was completely drawn into the underground world of Zork. That’s pretty amazing when you take into account the millions of dollars that are spent today to grab gamers’ attention.

And yes, it didn’t take long for me to get eaten by a Grue.

 

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New Thing #342: Play Small World

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Every few weeks we try to have a nerd game night at work. I managed to stick around for one tonight and played Small World.

The game is sort of a mix of Risk and Magic the Gathering: which is to say that I have no inherent skill in it at all.

Nonetheless, it’s pretty damn fun.

The random powers that you get to modify the character you draw really keeps you on your toes. And the artwork is fantastic. I also love that there are literally four different game boards packed in that are tailored to three, four and five player games.

This was a lot of funeven if my Flying Tritons failed me in the end.

New Thing #339: Play Real Life Angry Birds

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I’ve played my fair share of Angry Birds on my iPad over the years. I never quite went so far as to three star every level, but I’ve always been pretty good at the game.

So when I saw the make-shift, tensor-bandage-wrapped overturned table at our monthly work get together, I got excited.

One of our VPs is moving to another office, and her penchant for Angry Birds is known company wide. So the guys put together a fun little ad-hoc physical version for anyone to partake in. Soon everyone was launching stuffed Angry Birds into plastic cups adorned with evil pigs.

So, in a word, fantastic.

New Thing #337: Build a 3D Puzzle

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I thought I’d be terrible at 3D puzzles. I’m never that great at spatial problem solving and figuring out how to fold a complex box or tie a knot are my worst nightmares.

But this 3D puzzle of Big Ben was almost too easy. It turns out that each side uses the same set of pieces as the others so once you figured out one the rest are a breeze.

The only trouble I really had was folding the top bit. It took just about as long to close up properly as the rest combined.

Thank god I didn’t get the Eiffel Tower instead.

Bigben_puzzle

New Thing #336: Play Pokemon

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You’d think that after all these years of playing video games I would have caught a Pokemonor two along the way. But I never saw the allure. Or really understood what the game was all about.

So I went straight to the source and asked my friend Sherry Tang which installment I should throw into my DS to introduce me to the world of Pokemon. So I slotted Pokemon Diamond into place and for the next couple hours I immersed myself in a simplistic, long-winded JRPG.

I understand that the whole phenomenon was always targeted at children, but I figured there must be something exciting going on behind the scenes for all these adults to get caught up in it. But man, was I wrong.

It’s just a regular role playing game where cute little monsters are the weapons you find along the way. You can level up each “weapon”, which is nice, but it all runs so very, very slowly. And everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone.

I’ve never found turned based fighting to be at all engaging, and Pokemon definitely hasn’t changed my position on that. It probably doesn’t help that I’m nearly 60 hours into playing Skyrim at the moment either, which is the type of RPG I can really sink my teeth into.

At least my little monkey…I named him Chimichanga…was cute. And never fainted on me once.

Sorry Sherry. Do I lose geek cred for this one?

New Thing #317: Temple Run

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I wouldn’t normally put an iPhone game on my list of new things unless I was absolutely desperate for something to do. However, I played Temple Run today and it’s really, really good.

The illustrious and highly competitive Sherry Tang turned me onto this game after I crushed her in Nyan Cat: Lost In Space and she needed a new game to beat me at.

Not only is this game highly addictive, but it looks pretty damn slick in motion, uses the tilt controls more effectively than any other iOS game I’ve played and, best of all, is free.

Go check this one out if you have an iPhone immediately, and try to beat me, I dares ya. Actually I don’t; as long as I beat Sherry I’ll be content.

New Thing #311: Beat Hazard

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There’s two types of games I absolutely adore: dual joystick shooters and music games. Beat Hazard combines the two genres into a beautiful, frenzied cornocopia of awesomeness.

At it’s most basic, the game scans your music library and then offers up level that is specifically built to the song that’s playing. What you end up with are enemies that move, shoot and spawn to the beats of the music. If the song has a particularly hard shredding section the enemies are all over you, but if there’s a quiet interlude they ebb and flow to the rhythm.

Although it’s a little bit easy in the beginning, once you unlock the insane or suicide modes it gets really fun and challenging. Plus, the leveling mechanic has kept me glued to this game almost all afternoon. 

It’s available through Steam for the Mac and PC. If you have either and a gamepad I highly suggest seeking it out.

New Thing #284: Play Trine

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I’ve been meaning to play Trine since it came out for the PS3 and PC ages ago, but I was holding out for the elusive XBox version so that I could play with my friends. Unfortunately that version never materialized.

But, thanks to some great Thanksgiving weekend Steam sales, I picked it up for a song.

I half wish I had played it when it did come out regardless of platform based on the shear beauty and inventiveness of the gameplay. But I also love that I’m coming to it late in the game and am still able to fall completely in love with it. Sometimes games show their age quickly, this is not one of those cases.

The main conceit is that you switch between three different character types on the fly, each with a unique ability. Using these abilities you progress past ever increasingly difficult areas. Some you get through by using your wits, some through brute force, or some both.

The wrapper around the game is just stunning. I don’t think I’ve seen such beautiful art direction in a 2D game before and the soundtrack that accompanies it sets just the right tone. 

I think I might need to get another controller so I can play it with Shauna, or break down and try and remember how to play video games with a mouse and keyboard again.

New Thing #277: Play PC Games with a Controller

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Some of you may have been following my harrorowing experience of installing Windows 7 on my Mac Mini over the past five days. I’m not going to lie to you, there were times that I didn’t think I’d make it. Times that I almost called it quits. Times that I wanted to punch a kitten. But here we are, nearly a week later, and all that frustration was good for something after all.

I LOVE PLAYING PC GAMES WITH AN XBOX CONTROLLER!

Yeah, I know what you’re going to say, I could do the same thing on my Mac without installing Windows. True. But the fact is that a lot of Indie game developers still program exclusively for the PC and now I have a computer that’s capable of running them without grinding the entire OS to a halt.

On top of that, I plugged in a USB Xbox Controller and with Steam installed (complete with achievements) it’s like I have a whole new video game console sitting in my kitchen. 

I love my Mac, and would never switch to this aweful operating system, but I will visit when it means that I have access to a whole new subset of games that I’ve been missing out on for years.

New Thing #231: Play Stay Alive

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I remember the commercial for Stay Alive with Vincent Price vividly from my childhood. I also remember the shiny marbles on the box enticing me to buy it. But we never did and I never knew anyone who had the game.

So when I saw it for $1.99 at Value Village today in almost mint condition (1 blue marble is missing if anyone has a match), I snatched it up.

And then Shauna proceeded to hand my own ass to me over, and over again.

I’m sure with a little bit more practice and spacial recognition skills I’ll get the hang of this one. It’s really quite fun. 

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