Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Playlist - New Show, New Review, New Week

A busy week as the first episode of my new podcast - Passion for Pixels - went live! Writing wise, my review for the first act of Broken Age also went up. You'll have to read the whole text the get my complete impressions but suffice it to say that I give it high praise. Gaming wise, I screwed around with a few random steam titles and made a bit more progress in Final Fantasy 7.

What's Up?


Without a doubt, the biggest news this week is the launch of the first Passion for Pixels podcast that I have been working on the past two months with Stian Mathison! The thrust of the podcast is retro gaming with particular attention to the 8 and 16bit eras. We plan on talking with an eye for how the games of the past pluck our nostalgia strings and how they are influencing the modern games we play. I'm sure the content will evolve a bit, but for the time being, we are keeping it fairly broad (albeit in a narrow scope of the gaming universe). We have a few more episodes recorded that are in post-production right now and I am hoping to start putting them up every two weeks (more or less on a schedule). I've really enjoyed the recording process even if the result is a bit rough around the edges. There are a few (read: plenty of) spots where we can improve and feedback is greatly appreciated.

Two side notes on the podcast: First, props to Stian for the awesome intro base lick. Second, we are looking for someone to design a 1400x1400 pixel banner image for the podcast so that we can start publishing them on iTunes (ideally this would be done gratis)

Still on the podcast theme, the one I recorded for Geek Binge just a bit over a week ago went live and can be heard here. I also have another one I worked on for them currently in editing; I'll distribute the link as soon as it's available. I make an off-hand comment about Philip Seymour Hoffman in the to-be-posted podcast that comes off as completely insensitive (I mention his drug use in Almost Famous). For the record, the podcast was recorded a few days before the news of his death. The comment is in no way meant to make light of a tragic situation. I am trying to have it cut from the program but it may be too late (again, what was meant to be a throwaway joke sounds like me being a total dick and apologies for any offence it may cause). Anyways, also for Geek Binge, you can catch my review of the first act of Broken Age. Go read the review and then buy the game, it's great!

For StudentCom, I have an article on cross-continent pricing for consoles and justify the apparent discrepancies between UK and USA prices for PS4s. The piece hasn't gone live yet so no link. This week, I am writing a semi-related article where I discuss the economics of game prices and profit margins on various pricing models. When it goes live is anyone's guess.

What I've Been Playing

Broken Age
This game is delivers exactly what I wanted in Tim Schafer's return to the graphic adventure genre. It's captivating, sharp, and worth the hype. My only complaint is that it's a bit too short, but this is forgivable considering it is only the first half of the whole package. Read the review here and then take appropriate action to have it added to your library.

Outlook: I intend to give this another run through to soak up all the bits I may have missed while working on the review. Tim Schafer's attention to detail is legendary and I'm sure there are some neat little easter eggs I've missed.

Blackguards
This one came up on my Steam ticker and I decided to give the demo a whirl. It's a pretty solid turn-based tactical RPG replete with the tired tropes of magic and wizardry. I found the difficulty curve to be a bit off and was often struggling with the interface that might have initially been conceived with a gamepad in mind. In the end, my experience wasn't positive enough to justify the $40 price tag but your mileage may vary. The demo gives you a good chunk of content which was enough for me to make an informed decision.

Outlook: It's not bad, just not for me. Not going to play it unless someone convinces me otherwise.

Hearthstone
While waiting to podcast for Geek Binge, one of the fellow casters and I decided to play a couple rounds of Hearthstone. Much to my annoyance, the game is region locked and my EU copy wouldn't match-make with the US version. I played a couple games solo anyways but was pissed nonetheless. Fortunately, I have some fodder for a future article (Why region locking sucks).

Outlook: I'm going to see if I can get around the region restriction because it would be great to stomp colleague ass in this game. Also, it would make for a pretty good stream.

Final Fantasy 7
Unlike Chrono Trigger, I am making progress through FF7. I'm about a third of the way through the game (or half-way if I decide to cheat and not spend hours farming). The mods I've used for the PC version are definitely making it a novel experience and I find myself tempted to experiment a bit more with them.

Outlook: I may make a push to finish it this week but probably won't make it.