You Take the Low Road and I’ll Take the Hyrule

I enjoy disparate co-op experiences; video games where two or more players take on different tasks during play.  The shining example from my youth was the title 8 Eyes, where my brother and I took on the roles of Orin the rogue and his falcon Cutrus.  As Orin, my brother would wander the enemy castles, slaying monsters on foot with his trusty short sword.  Meanwhile as Cutrus, I would fly around these gigantic rooms, diving at evil warriors with razor-sharp talons and discovering out-of-reach secrets for my human companion.

8EyesBox

8 Eyes was such a departure from the usual co-op games of the NES, where most two-player options are reduced to whether I would play as the red guy or the blue guy.  It was a fantastic change of pace to be working towards the same goal with different tools and objectives.

Other games have approached cooperative play in similar ways over the years.  This is particularly true of the shooter genre, where my friends and I approach games like Halo with different weapons-of-choice and play styles.  But so often these games boil down to using a limited number of tools from a shared belt.  We all play as the same default character and work at singular tasks to make progress, often in the same tight corridor or arena.  There is nothing wrong with this sort of game, but it is this sort of widespread similarity that makes the recent mash-up of Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors such a treat.

HyruleWarriors1

Hyrule Warriors shines as a couch co-op experience, providing fun “divide-and-conquer” gameplay.  While two players can work at a single objective to achieve victory, the meat of the game is better tackled individually.  Each player can focus on smaller in-mission tasks (conquer a base, defeat a particular enemy, etc.), which directly contribute to completing each mission more efficiently.  As I use Link’s high damage swipes to take out singularly difficult captains in forts, my wife can use Volga’s area-of-effect flame attacks to clear entire platoons of enemies on the other side of the map.

HyruleWarriorsCoop

This separated method of play is encouraged through the physical interaction with the game.  Instead of splitting a single screen vertically to accommodate multiple players, each person has their own screen.  The first player can be slaying waves of invading enemies on the Wii-U GamePad, while their comrade-in-arms can infiltrate enemy territory on the television screen.  If any single objective proves too difficult for one warrior, a comrade can rush to their location, where each player will get a nice view of their teammate on their screen.

All of this fun gameplay is rounded out with a variety of characters to unlock, each of which has multiple weapons and costumes at their disposal.  I mostly relied on strong sword attacks from Link and Impa to cut through my enemies, while Laura would use the magical abilities of Volga and Cia to cover the battlefield in a blaze of fire.  Many of these attacks and weapons are callbacks to older Zelda games, which adds several moments of nostalgic sweetness to hours of play.

HyruleWarriorsVolga

When Laura and I bought the Wii-U last year, we knew that games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World would provide us with plenty of cooperative fun.  We spent the first few weeks playing side-by-side, working together to win races and bound through stages as feline versions of Princess Peach and Luigi.  Now that we have had the console for months, we keep coming back to play Hyrule Warriors again and again, testing out new characters and trying to tackle A-Rank missions with a variety of strategies.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Faeries Still Think You Are Stupid

HyruleWarriorsFi

As Laura and I have been enjoying Hyrule Warriors, there is one character on our roster who remains totally unplayed: Fi.  It bothers me to think that instead of more classic bosses from the Zelda series being reimagined like Volga, we have a character slot filled by such an unlikeable and uninteresting character as Fi.

As nothing more than a floating tutorial, Fi’s presence in Hyrule Warriors only reminds me of what a disappointing time I had playing Skyward Sword.  My hope is that the next Legend of Zelda bothers to shed some of the tropes that have been dragging the series down (linearity, excessive handholding, and unnecessary stealth challenges).  In the meantime, please enjoy my thoughts on Skyward Sword and ineffective tutorials, originally posted in February 2012.


Recently, I have been playing the newest Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword.  To summarize my thoughts on Link’s newest quest: it is a frustrating mess of half-realized ideas.

SkywardSwordBox

Now, I am sure some of you are thinking (or screaming at your computer) “But it’s Zelda!  The game is getting 9s and 10s all over the Intarwebs!  You must hate Nintendo!  You suck!”  Until playing this game, I would have been typing in capital letters right along with you, but hear me out.  There are some great aspects to this game: the art style is wonderful and looks like something out of a classic fairy tale or anime.  There are some interesting twists on the staple items of the Zelda series (example: double hook-shots).  The entire Lanayru Desert sequence would make this game a worthwhile experience, if it were not for all the backtracking and handholding this game forces upon the player.  Let’s discuss the newest ball-and-chain that Nintendo has bestowed to our beloved hero.  I am talking about the spirit that resides within Link’s sword, simply known as Fi.

SkywardSwordFi

Fi acts as a sort of spirit guide in the context of the game’s story.  Anytime Link is presented with relevant information about a new quest, or obtains a necessary item to progress the game, Fi will pop out of his sword and fill him in on ALL of the details (read: unnecessary fluff).

Allow me use a real life example to give you an idea of how frustrating this can be: let’s say you are hanging out at your place, it is around lunchtime and you are rather hungry.  As the clock strikes noon, Fi shows up to inform you that it is now lunchtime and if you are hungry, you should probably make a sandwich.  You head to your refrigerator, and as you open the door, Fi appears again, letting you know that your fridge happens to contain food, which you should eat to make yourself less hungry.  You pull out all the ingredients to make a tasty sandwich, and construct a meal worthy of your appetites (read: pastrami and gouda for me, please).  Once you have finished making lunch, Fi will pop up once more to let you know that there is a chance that a sandwich is sitting on the counter, and you should probably eat it so your hunger will be sated.  This exchange of information (read: babysitting from a fairy) will occur every time you decide to have lunch, and you cannot turn it off, forever and ever, amen.

SkywardSwordFi2

The addition of an omnipotent and obligatory guide in Skyward Sword weakens the entire game by removing most of the critical and creative thinking on the player’s part.  There are times when I felt so frustrated at the idea of some designer thinking the average player needed to have their hand held through the entire game (I know that the key with an octopus on it must be used to open the octopus door, but thanks for telling me so).  Skyward Sword is not the only game guilty of belittling the intelligence of the player.  The newest Prince of Persia game, Forgotten Sands, also forces the camera towards each new objective for every room you enter, and often has a little message to clarify (just to make sure you know which wall to climb).

It is not just the challenge and wonder of individual discovery that is weakened by systems like Fi, but the immersion in a game environment as well.  No one wants a calming ride on a valliant steed across a mystical landscape ruined by a pop-up menu reminding you how to get the horse to dash.  For goodness sake, the original Super Mario Brothers didn’t have a tutorial, and people seemed to handle it just fine!

I know the immediate comeback to such a statement is that the games of today are much more complex.  That is completely true.  Just look at the button count on each controller; an NES controller had four buttons and a control pad, whereas a Xbox 360 controller has ten buttons, two control sticks, and a control pad (and a partridge in a pear tree).  Even with the complexities of each game aside, there are so many examples of intuitive control schemes and tutorials already on the market.

ControllerKatamari

Arkham City does an excellent job of teaching the controls once, and then providing the player with a reminder only when it is necessary.  If a new enemy is giving you trouble, the game will put a little reminder over Batman telling you what sort of button/move to use against such a foe without interrupting gameplay.  Katamari Damacy, a strange and wonderful game, has a very intuitive control scheme: push both control sticks forward to move the ball forward, pull both sticks back to move backward, and turn the sticks in opposite directions to turn the ball.  All of these motions reflect how the player would handle a giant ball in the real world (to roll things up into their life).

The point of all this ranting (and Skyward Sword bashing) is to convey that as video games are rapidly moving out of a niche market, designers need to consider how to make games more intuitive and easier to approach at large.  Sure, there will always be games that are marketed towards the “hardcore gamer” (read: those who have held a controller since birth), with a different function for each button and mechanics that require a textbook to play.  But designing titles with controls that come naturally and tutorial/hint systems that don’t clutter the experience should be key in making games that are fun for everyone.  Besides, who wants to be condescendingly told how to use a system they have already learned?

Now remember Reader, there is a 90 percent chance that when you want to navigate away from this webpage, take your mouse and slide it up to the toolbar, left-click the URL, and use your keyboard to type in the website you wish to visit!  Good luck!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remixing Things Up

NESRemixBlackBox16

Since their release in 1985, most of the launch titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System have been ported to six different consoles across multiple generations.  While I am all for proper archiving of video games to keep every experience available over time, many of the “Black Box 18” titles don’t need to be ported so often.  The effort spent on bringing early sports games like Baseball or Tennis to every single eShop could be used to make more interesting titles like Racket Attack or Bases Loaded available on more consoles.

To put this in perspective, EarthBound has been ported once after years of demand, while there are at least six different ways to play the clunky Urban Champion (including a 3D “upgrade” on the Virtual Console).

NESRemix1

When Nintendo announced NES Remix, I was initially excited by the concept.  I think this is a great way to give players an expurgated version of classic Nintendo games.  Instead of dropping $5 to play an individual game, you can pay $15 to enjoy the highlights from 16 different titles.  The challenge-based format makes for a great party game and even provides a taste of speed running (trimming down time of completion to a razor’s edge).  I was even more stoked when I read that certain challenges would mix elements from different games, like playing a no-jump version of Donkey Kong as Link.  But my excitement for this game waned once I saw the list of titles to be included.

NESRemixDKLink

Instead of choosing only the cream of the classic crop, Nintendo once again just dropped the overly ported launch titles in a pile for developer Indieszero to include.  This means that playing NES Remix becomes a realization of how many games do not hold up over time.  Most of the collection is disposable; games like Clu-Clu Land and Golf brought nothing interesting or new to the market in 1985, and this sentiment has only solidified over time.

Fortunately, NES Remix 2 came to the table with a near-perfect collection of games.  With the sole exception of Wario’s Woods (a frustrating puzzle title that looks even worse when put beside Dr. Mario), every game included is a joy to play once again.  Many of the challenges are progressive in nature, allowing players the opportunity to see every worthwhile boss and moment from games like Zelda II and Metroid.  The remix stages are a nice balance between silly crossovers (help Toad defeat a screen of Kirby’s enemies) and interesting challenge runs (beating all of the Koopalings in a row for Super Mario Bros. 3).

nesremix2

Nintendo later released a blended version of the two titles to the 3DS called Ultimate NES Remix. This handheld port featured only the best games from the first two collections, which makes me wonder why this wasn’t the first and only iteration of NES Remix.  It’s as if Nintendo feels a need to re-release all of the crumby NES launch titles to any new console before they can get to the good stuff; like I have to eat my vegetables and wait for Ice Climber to hit the eShop before I get to play Kirby’s Adventure and enjoy some ice cream.

After playing through the NES Remix duo, I feel like the first title is a reminder that the classic console had a massive amount of launch games, but only the core Nintendo franchises were worthwhile.  Once I had unlocked and played through Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda, I considered NES Remix more or less completed.  I wasn’t filled with warm fuzzies when playing snippets of Wrecking Crew.  There was no new insight to be gleaned from the abysmal platforming in Ice Climber.  I was simply frustrated that such an interesting presentation of old games was wasted on such throwaway titles.

In short, all I want is SNES Remix.  Get to work, Nintendo.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Romance and Gaming

The mission statement of Games I Made My Girlfriend Play is sharing video games with the ones you love, whether they are rabid fans or complete neophytes. Our objective is to offer insight that this medium can deepen personal connections and to introduce games to those who might not enjoy them currently.  While this sentiment applies to friends and family, it can certainly apply to romantic relationships as well.

For many couples on Valentine’s Day, playing video games might be on their minds, but it is usually not found on the list of accepted activities (which is fixed price menus, buying roses, and eating too much chocolate).  In this post from April 2012, Laura explains how to introduce video games into your relationship and turn gaming into a romantically fun activity.


These days it is not that hard to get your girlfriend to play video games. Just look at the casual game revolution (smartphones games, motion control, and social network games) and you will find it is easier to turn your girlfriend towards gaming than ever before!

I decided to write about this because I don’t feel like many articles out there give the right impression about women.  Most people tend to herd us into one finite category. Generally this category isn’t an accurate representation of my gender, but more like a characterization of what a woman should be like. I wanted to write something that didn’t pigeon-hole us as unrealistic, unreasonable, and romantically obsessed. I don’t feel that representation does us justice or paints an accurate picture of what you’re going up against.

RomanceCatherine

You really don’t need to “trick” your girlfriend into playing video games with you by coating them with some romantic varnish or inventing imaginary friends. Many women, particularly more educated women, know their own minds. You are not going to pull a fast one on us like this, I’m sorry. So instead I’m going to help you out by addressing this:

How to Make Video Games Romantic
(or rather how to capitalize on the romantic elements of video games)

Romance is about intimacy. At it’s very core it is bonding experience. Most of us, both men and women, have a basic desire to interact and bond with each other. The things you want are the same things your girlfriend wants.

That being said, you might not want exactly the same things, but they are usually close enough for government work. She wants you to go dancing with her, you want her to play video games with you. At the heart of this is a genuine desire for your significant other to enjoy the things you like, or at least make an effort to appreciate the things you like. It’s a desire for bonding.  Understanding a few things and a bit of effort on both sides goes a LONG way in making a relationship more successful and less stressful.

So I will start by addressing this simple fact: Video games are not inherently romantic.

IMG_5600

Video games are not roses and Champagne, or a walk on the beach at sunset, or a trip to Paris for your anniversary. They just aren’t. They may be one day, but they aren’t right now. But video games are fun. And fun is certainly an important component of romance.  All the trips to Paris and strolls on the beach really don’t amount to much if no one is having any fun. And fun is enough to work with. So you can safely forgo the candle light and flower petals.

Here are some suggestions to make your video game experience a comfortable one:

Date night
Video games can be a wonderful part of a stay at home date night or a casual end to a night out. Order something from your favorite restaurant (or make your favorite meal at home), hop into your comfy pants, and plop yourselves down on the couch. Pretty much “movie night” without the movie.  If your lady love wants a fancier night (I would venture to say that most girls don’t get dressed up to sit on the couch), go out for dinner and/or drinks and end the evening a little early to relax at home with some games.

We now have category of posts called Date Night to give you some inspiration for just this type of thing. 

Relaxing mornings
Saturday (or any other day off) is a great time to play video games with the love of your life. For me, sleeping in (until the ungodly hour of 7:30am), followed by a bit of breakfast to eat on the couch while I play a game is very nostalgic. It’s pretty much the exact same ritual as the Saturday morning cartoons we all watched as kids, and trust me; that little oomph of familiarity definitely doesn’t hurt when it comes to getting your lady to join in. Cuddling up to each other on the couch to play together is a great carefree way to spend the morning.

RomanceDarkness

Co-op Games
With rare exceptions, I would venture to say co-op games are going to help you out the most in romance department. Watching your significant other putz around looking for treasure will get old quickly. Competitive games can start fights, especially if there are sore losers involved. Working on something together is far more gratifying and fun.

Now allow me to offer you a couple things to avoid:

Don’t schedule raid night on date night
If you want one surefire way to give your girlfriend a negative association with videogames, trust me, this is it. This is a good way to give the impression that video games are more important that her. Things will not go well. Have a set date night and a set raid night, and ensure they don’t overlap.

Don’t be an ass
I have found this to be the best rule to live by. Most of us tend to avoid things we are not good at, and you will only contribute to this aversion if you don’t behave. Play nice, be helpful and supportive, and just be considerate of your partners feelings.

Don’t be inconsiderate of her time or hobbies
If she has endeavored to be included in your hobbies, you should do the same. Either become more involved in her interests or pick up a new activity together. And never force or guilt her into playing games with you. Be respectful of her time.

There really isn’t much else to it. With a little common sense, gaming can become a fun and romantic activity that you can both enjoy. I plan to write more articles specifically addressing specific genres, as well as giving some recommendations on games to try.

gimmgp01

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Dealing with The Evil Within

The scope of survival horror has been widening over the years to the point of splitting into two distinct types of game. One type features well-trained heroes dealing with horrific abominations using advanced weaponry.  This sort of game uses graphically detailed viscera and jump-scares to get the adrenaline pumping.  The second style of game instead disempowers the protagonist, placing them in a terrifying situation from which they must escape.  These titles are haunting and mysterious, using complex narrative or psychological stress to get under the player’s skin.

When well-executed, both strains of survival horror can provide a worthwhile experience.  However, the mechanics and aesthetic of each category often conflict, which is why the gap between the two has been expanding.  Some titles have tried to include bits from both types of game, but a solid marriage between the two has yet to blossom.

Early previews of The Evil Within teased the idea of this culmination of survival horror; a game that would feature solid gunplay with a psychological horror theme.  The result is a game that feels like many individual working pieces jammed into a faulty machine.  It’s as if Shinji Mikami had his next five game ideas written out in a development journal, but he was worried that not all of them would see the light of day.  So he cherry-picked ideas from each of them to make The Evil Within.

TheEvilWithin7

The Evil Within seems to be torn between two story ideas.  There is a grim tale of outdated medical practice and dark family secrets.  A world of old villages and occult belief.  On the other hand, the mind-bending romp that puts a murder spree in a mental hospital sounds good, too.  That one has detectives and loose morals, unreliable narrators and high action.  “Oh well, better use both,” says the writer as he hammers out the plot of The Evil Within using tropes from the entire breadth of horror movies.

TheEvilWithin6

The gameplay is also at odds, fluctuating between predictable shooting and frustrating stealth.  Each environment contains hiding places and noisemakers to avoid conflict, but the sheer amount of enemies requires a certain level of combat before a player can proceed (often with limited ammo).  Like the discordant story, the gameplay jumps back and forth between action packed shooting (Resident Evil 4) and surreal stealth survival (Silent Hill).  Since the game never commits to one type of play, neither is well-executed.

TheEvilWithin5

Along with the bipolar shooter arenas, there are several scripted moments of trial and error.  Many of the major enemies in The Evil Within are able to kill the protagonist in a single blow, but this is rarely communicated to the player.  As a result, drawn out death scenes and long loading screens become a frequent punishment of unavoidable failure.

I just happened to play this bloated game during the same week I enjoyed the streamlined experience of P.T.  In what we now know as the Silent Hills Playable Trailer, the minimalist environment of a single home’s hallway instills more fear than the massively disjointed dreamscape of The Evil Within.  The limited gameplay options could seem sparse to some, but this potentially short game masterfully executes the singular design of tense exploration.  Every step the player takes works towards a horrific conclusion, instead of tearing through hordes of gore-covered zombies as a means to pad the length of a game.  If The Evil Within is a horror movie marathon filled with cheap thrills and disparate moments, then P.T. is a haunting short film that leaves a lingering unease with all who watch it.

P.T._20140815000202

The endorsement of P.T. over The Evil Within may seem like a matter of preference.  Concerning the sort of survival horror game I tend to play, I am not surprised to find that a cerebral and narrative-heavy experience won out against a gore-filled shooter.  But The Evil Within isn’t simply a different kind of game from P.T. because of its gameplay and aesthetic.  It’s different because The Evil Within tries to include every survival horror trope of story and play in its content; thinking that more equals better and failing in the execution of any.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Link to the Past Comic Getting Reprinted?!

Over 20 years has passed since the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past comic graced the pages of Nintendo Power.  A stand-alone graphic novel was released after the series run in 1993, but this gem from Shotaro Ishinomori has become something of an expensive rarity among collectors.  It seemed like the only way to enjoy this comic would be through online viewings or paying high bids in digital auctions, until now. LttPReprint Viz Media announced that they will be reprinting this fantastic classic and releasing it in May 2015.  It’s already available for preorder at Amazon.  In honor of this good news, please enjoy this post I wrote for the Geek Force Network, originally published in November 2013.


As someone who works a dreary desk job, I will often spend my breaks scouring the internet, looking for interesting sites to pass the time.  Earlier this year, I found a fantastic Tumblr blog which serves as an archive of video game magazines.  Old Game Magazines features high quality scans of covers and articles from the glory days of print gaming media (read: the 1990s).  Over the last few weeks, this Tumblr page has focused on scans from my favorite gaming magazine, Nintendo Power.  Along with the extensive strategy guides and fold-out posters that came standard every month, there was a period of time when comics were printed on the pages of this classic publication.  These paneled stories were serialized over several issues and were normally tied to the release of a big Nintendo property, such as Super Mario World or Star Fox.  Since a direct sequel for the SNES classic is looming over the horizon for 3DS owners, now is a prime time to have a look at the Link to the Past comic from Nintendo Power. LinktothePast2 First published in January of 1992 (issue 32 of NP), the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was written and drawn by Shotaro Ishinomori.  A famous manga artist, Ishinomori broke into the industry working as an assistant to animation legend, Osamu Tezuka.  The story goes that in 1955, Ishinomori entered an art contest for the magazine Manga Shonen while he was still in high school.  Impressed with the student’s work, Osamu Tezuka contacted Ishinomori, asking him to become an assistant on the hugely popular Astro Boy.  After years of work as an assistant, Ishinomori branched out on his own and went on to create several famous series, such as Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider.  Through his impressive body of work, Ishinomori successfully established an entire genre of “transforming” superhero media, and his accomplishments have been honored by numerous outlets around the world. LinktothePast3 For the Link to the Past comics, Ishinomori focused on the story of the game, in which a young boy becomes entangled in a quest that would transform him into a hero of legend.  Unlike the mostly mute hero of the video games, the Link of this comic starts out as something of a clumsy, inexperienced kid who has plenty to say.  While not exactly prepared to defeat an ancient evil, Link does possess a plucky courage that causes him to run blindly into a stormy night to save a woman he has never even met.  The general plot of the video game is mostly unchanged in the comic, save for some minor enemy details and quite a bit of flourish on the locations in the game world.  The core story of Link acquiring the Master Sword and traveling to the Dark World to defeat Ganon and save Zelda remains, albeit with several new characters and encounters. LinktothePast4 Probably the two most notable additions to the cast of characters are a headstrong young knight and a feisty fairy, named Roam and Epheremelda respectively.  Roam serves as a sort of rival character for Link, even though the two share the similar goal of killing Ganon.  A master of archery, Roam is a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule who fought to imprison Ganon many years ago.  Even though he regularly shows up to harass and test Link on his quest, Roam’s efforts in finding the Silver Arrow directly aid in Ganon’s defeat.

Epheremelda is a fairy who Link manages to save from a band of monsters once he arrives in the Dark World.  Grateful for his rescue (and crushing on him hard), the young fairy agrees to accompany Link and help him on his quest.  What is particularly interesting about Epheremelda is that no such fairy guide existed in A Link to the Past, but the idea of a helper sprite would become a recurring piece of the Zelda universe thanks to Navi in Ocarina of Time.  It seems that Ishinomori was a bit of a forward thinker for the Legend of Zelda games.

The artwork is extremely impressive in the Link to the Past comics.  Most of the character models would be right at home in Ishinomori’s other works, with expressive anime-style features and minimal line work.  Certain designs are even taken directly from previous Ishinomori models, such as Roam who was based on the character Jet Link from Cyborg 009.  The backgrounds range from dynamic splash images for action scenes to highly detailed environments that set the mood for every scene.  The color work is extremely striking throughout the entire series.  Ishinomori uses a sort of watercolor-style technique, where shading and elemental effects are accomplished through gradual color changes instead of bold lines.  The result is a mood of epic fantasy that suits the comic quite nicely. LinktothePast5 Once the series had completed its run in Nintendo Power, all of the comics were collected and published as a graphic novel in 1993.  Now a highly prized collector’s item, this standalone version was once being sold in a bundle at the back of Super Power Supplies catalogs for the unbelievably low price of $25.  I have no idea why I never coerced my parents into getting that bundle for me as an obligatory Christmas gift.  Knowing me, I was probably too busy playing Donkey Kong Country at the time, and just assumed that since I had the issues of Nintendo Power with the comics, that was good enough.  As an adult whose video game magazines are all in storage at my parents’ house, I would love to have such an outstanding video game comic at my disposal.  Oh well, I will just take solace in fantastic sites like Old Game Magazines and spend hours pouring over my computer screen at the printed pages of the past.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Waking Up from The Sailor’s Dream

Over the last two years, some of the best gaming experiences we have enjoyed at GIMMGP Headquarters were on our iPad.  This is in no small part thanks to the wonderful duo at Simogo and their games Year Walk and Device 6.  These two titles made incredible use of mobile technology to create unique gameplay moments which have lingered in our collective consciousness since the time of first play.  It is our love of these two games that makes Simogo’s latest offering such a disappointment in comparison.

The world within The Sailor’s Dream is lovely, but mostly useless for the actual gameplay.  You can explore this ocean bound world, play with its many baubles and trinkets, but it is ultimately scheduled phone checking that unlocks the bulk of content from the game.

thesailorsdream_screen_071

Unlike Simogo’s previous works, the interaction with the world outside of The Sailor’s Dream doesn’t enhance the game- it is the game.  The exploration within is the fluff on top of an experience that is akin to the worst of social media based games: regularly checking your phone to see what content the game has doled out according to the current time in our world.

Which is a shame, because the aesthetic of The Sailor’s Dream is delightful and haunting.  The sounds of this aquatic world are fantastic; ambient seaside noises complement a wonderful soundtrack.  Each location has a sense of a childhood home revisited, a lived-in world that is no longer inviting.  There is a nostalgia that isn’t quite yours, where a mild foreboding persists.

thesailorsdream_screen_09

But most of this world’s secrets are not hidden in the undertone of old letters or the shattered frame of a picture.  They exist in our world of overly-connected technology.  It takes the obsessive regiment of pawing at your smartphone every hour and once-per-day to unlock the true story.  And like the already constant hum and vibration of our mobile devices, this regular check-in with the outside world only serves to break the player’s immersion from the dream.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

2015 is the Year of Making Great Art

For several years, my wife has been working hard to produce excellent art in her free time.  She has squeezed every spare hour to make fine work, some of which she has made exclusively for the viewers of GIMMGP.  Now that the new year has begun, I am happy to announce that Laura is pursuing her artwork full time as a freelancer!

Moonstone

Specializing in concept art and illustration, Laura has launched a professional website where you can find some amazing pieces and read up on her big art series for 2015: The Tarot Project.  She also has several pieces available as prints through her Inprnt gallery.

What does this huge life change mean for Games I Made My Girlfriend Play?  After years of struggling to find time in between stressful jobs, we can finally stick to regular updates.  In other words, more posts and more awesome artwork for your viewing pleasure!

number5

As always, thank you to all of our followers and regular readers for their support over the last three years.  Please be sure to check out Laura’s professional website and let’s all look forward to a new year of making happy gaming memories with our loved ones.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Weekly Streams Come to U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity

After two successful video game marathons which raised over $7000 for funding renewable clean water projects, the U-Pick Crew has made a new resolution for 2015: more video game broadcasts!

upickbanner

That’s right, friends: the U-Pick Team has leveled-up and we will be streaming fresh batches of games every week. These shorter broadcasts will be more casual, sort of like rehearsals for the bigger charity events later in the year.

Some weeks we will be playing games based around a central theme, like “Oddball SquareSoft Titles” or “Girls’ Night In.” Other weeks will be a random assortment of awesome, like last week’s broadcast of the original Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Bayonetta 2, and some bonus Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Speaking of last week’s broadcast, the archive footage is uploaded and available for your viewing pleasure for the next two weeks. Just hop on over to our Twitch.tv page and enjoy the first of many weekly broadcasts!

Be sure to tune in every Sunday around 4pm EST (9pm UTC) for a fresh line-up of great games and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the next batch of titles. Here’s a hint for tonight’s broadcast: car crashes, dopey dinosaurs, and cheerleaders with chainsaws.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

New Blog Announcement: Games From the Box

We live in a strange age of gaming overabundance.  Due to massive digital sales and the sharp devaluation of video games, many players own fewer played games than not.  It’s become an odd situation where folks will brag about the number of untouched titles in their Steam queue, often missing out on worthwhile games because of the paradox of choice.

I am guilty of this practice in my own way.  I will frequently borrow games offered by my friends, only to let the discs languish on my shelf while I continue to rack up hours in whatever my latest obsession happens to be.  Whenever someone I know happens to be parting with a pile of games due to seasonal cleaning or life downsizing, I will gladly scoop up the orphaned titles, thus adding to my backlog.  Such an instance occurred recently in my life, but instead of letting these potentially fun games lay by the wayside, I have decided to take some initiative.

Games From the Box is a new Tumblr blog I have launched to tackle the most recent additions to my collection.  It is about playing video games that were given to me by a good friend when he moved to a new place. These games span several consoles, handhelds, and genres. Most of them are complete with their original packaging and physical media.

IMG_8424

Every two weeks will feature a single game: photos of the box, scans of the instruction manual, and some thoughts on the experience of play. I will be sure to include notes on the currently available means to enjoy each of these titles.  The blog will be updated with new images and/or text every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.  The first post is live for your viewing pleasure, which details the humble origins of this project.

In preparing for Games From the Box, I have already enjoyed some games that were completely new to me.  Titles from a bygone era of games where experimental ideas were being tested on handheld technology.  I hope in sharing these games, you will be reminded of your own joyful moments of gaming’s past, and take the time to enjoy the titles sitting on your own shelves.  So please take a look at Games From the Box, and be sure to follow the blog for some great upcoming games.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 206 other followers