Monthly Archives: August 2014

Talk of the Ninja: “The New 3DS”

Nintendo announced their new portable console, which is called “The New 3DS.”

When I first heard the name I thought it would just be another slight variant, like the 3DS-XL or the 2DS. Once I heard that it’s the actual next step in Nintendo’s portable console scene and games made for it won’t be backwards-compatible with The Old 3DS, I checked to see if it was April 1st already. To my surprise, it is not.

I probably don’t have to say that this is a bad idea. This is a spectacularly bad idea. This feels like the culmination of all of Nintendo’s bad ideas for the past decade or two. Here’s why.

Continue reading

Indie Wonderland: Back to Bed

Gods, but I am tired. It’s ridiculous. I’m unfocused, I’ve been yawning all day today, and I can’t seem to muster the energy for most anything. You’ve ever had days like that, reader? Days that make you go ‘waking up today was a major mistake, I should just fall asleep already’?

I can’t go to sleep, sadly: it’s Monday afternoon and there’s work to be done, nets to be worked, columns to be written. But if I can’t go back to bed, I can do the next best thing and write about Back to Bed, Bedtime Digital Games‘ most recent absurdity-based isometric platformer-of-sorts. Which, writing it down like that, makes it sound a little like this game is nap-inducingly boring. I guess that sounded better in my head, huh? It wasn’t really the joke I was going for, so let me just be perfectly clear here by saying…

…well, I can’t actually say whether or not Back to Bed is nap-inducingly boring. I haven’t played it yet! Who knows, I might doze off while playing it yet: look out for the tell-tale signs of game-induced sleep, such as repeated words and phrases, screenshots that increasingly look like people yawning, repeated words and phrases, references to walking alarm clocks, repeated words and phrases, and parts of the column feeling unfinished and [don’t forget to finish this section before publishing article — F.J.]

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high. Mechanical, high.)

After the break: Back to Bed. Did it… *wake me up*? It did, and I apologize for that joke.

Indie Shortieland: LYNE

Heya, Ninja Blues readers and/or Indie Wonderland enthusiasts. Due to my last week’s waking time being a 50/50 split of long-distance travel and social interaction — i.e. ‘because I was on vacation abroad, visiting friends’ — I didn’t exactly have the kind of time I usually need to play any new game Indie Wonderland-style. Which is to say, I didn’t have time to play any video games last week, at all. I hope you understand that this puts a bit of a dent in regular Indie Wonderland service.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t planned for eventualities like this. I am a super genius. And as luck would have it, the week before last week, I did play a puzzle game called LYNE for a little bit. It’s not really a game I have a lot to say about, so don’t expect my usual multi-thousand-word rambling after the page jump, but hopefully this little nugget will tide you over until next week. Because I care about your well-being, readers, I really do.

After the break: a game called LYNE. I don’t have a lot to say about it!

Talk of the Ninja: Join the Ninja Blues Army! In Firefall!

My friend and I were talking about recent MMOs the other day, and he shared with me his disappointment with Wildstar. He said he liked the art style and the concepts behind the world, but the combat was unremarkable and quest system was completely standard MMO fare, i.e. like World of Warcraft. He felt a similar sentiment toward The Elder Scrolls Online — a solid idea with very bland execution. We both reflected on our failed attempts to find an MMO that could satisfy us.

One sentence of his really stuck with me: “I mean, I like MMOs, but I… I don’t like MMOs.”

This is exactly how I’ve felt for a long time. I had some fun with Guild Wars 2, but my interest in that game died once I hit the level cap and discovered the sad lack of decent endgame content. After that I looked back at all the time I’d spent playing it and felt horribly unsatisfied, much like I’d feel if I ate a giant bag of potato chips for dinner.

GW2 did a bit to mix up the usual four-or-five-hotkey-mashing timesink of MMO combat, but ultimately it still felt like more of the same. I was still pressing a few hotkeys and watching my character do the same few sword-swinging animations over and over and over and over to make baddies immediately in front of her fall down. It still felt flaccid and uninvolving, like every other damn MMO.

Recently I discovered that Firefall is now free-to-play on Steam.

Continue reading

Indie Wonderland: Halfway

You guys know what the worst part about having a secret super weakness is? I’ll tell you: it’s people finding out that weakness. That shit is just the worst. Almost makes having a secret weakness not worth it in the first place.

For instance that one Megan Fox who creates video games — games about kitties and fire and kitties and private eyes, all good stuff — has, either through sleuthing or through happenstance, figured out that I am super weak to learning about new, cool-sounding games. And make no mistake: she is using this knowledge for nefarious purposes. Sure, to casual observers, it looks as if she’s just tweeting about cool new games for her several hundred followers with no obvious ill intent. But I know the truth, oh yes, I do.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be able to work out how that screed relates to me playing Halfway, the apparently first major release of development gang Robotality, for Indie Wonderland this week. See if you can connect the dots.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, relatively high.)

After the break: Halfway. How far into this game did I get? *The answer may surprise you.*

Discourse Dojo: Unrest: Youtube Edition

Justin here. We’ve been pelted with reports about the podcast not streaming and only partially downloading. That’s likely a problem with our server hosting, but I’m not a tech wizard and Jarenth has a busy schedule, so for the time being I’ve taken the liberty of uploading it to Youtube with our logo as a still frame. If you all STILL have trouble, then the universe must be conspiring against us.

Again, let us know what you think!

Discourse Dojo: Unrest

Ninja Blues readers, would you like to also be Ninja Blues listeners? Well, for the first time ever, you can be! We would like to graciously introduce you to our new podcast, Discourse Dojo. Our first episode is about a recently released Kickstarter-backed game called Unrest, by Pyrodactyl Games.

Direct download (ogg)
Direct download (mp3)

UPDATE: We also uploaded the podcast to Youtube since streaming/downloading is not working properly for most.

Let us know what you think! (Of the game and of the podcast itself. This is our first attempt at hosting a podcast, and we’d like to improve our formula however we can.)

Note from Ninjustin:

Unrest, Unrest, Unrest. It’s really hard to nail down how I feel about the game. Sometimes I want to sing its praises and sometimes I want to incessantly slap it on the wrist. Jarenth says it’s well worth the asking price despite its shortcomings, and I agreed at the time, but looking back, well… $15 is a lot for a two-to-three-hour game that nails the worldbuilding but fails to deliver on the roleplaying potential that it makes you expect. But it’s certainly notable for its efforts.

As for the audio, I’m sorry about the occasional echoing. I’ll try to look into that for future recordings. And good lord, did I ramble. I’ll try to reign that in.

Jibe from Jarenth:

Well, I still think Unrest is a decent-enough game for fifteen bucks. I appreciate intent and effort a lot, even if the actual outcome is… let’s say different from what I’d hoped. Plus, I hope support towards Unrest at least partially goes towards supporting Pyrodactyl Games’ later games: just because this game doesn’t use Unrest’s engine and possibilities to their full potential, doesn’t mean a second game won’t.

As for the audio, I’m sorry my voice sounds so godawful. It’s genetic.

Indie Three-For-One Land: Divinity, NecroDancer, Hoplite

Readers, slight change of plans. Originally, today, I was going to write about Pyrodactyl Games‘ first and recent release, Unrest. Fairly hot off their Kickstarter campaign, Unrest hit all the important points of the Jarenth Interest Trifecta: it’s a) an interesting-looking RPG game with a fairly unique setting and focus, b) made by people I kinda know and like, that c) I backed on Kickstarter while that was still ongoing. Indie Wonderland: Unrest seemed like a shoe-in.

But then, last week, my ninja cohort Justin suggested that we try our hand at casting pods sometimes. So, we did. And because we’d both played Unrest recently, and we both had Opinions on it, it seemed like a good topic for our initial foray in Talking Over Each Other On Mic. And (as far as I can judge these things) it was: the resulting podcast should, ceteris paribus, be available for easy listenin’ on this very website around Wednesday.

Of course, this did suddenly leave me without my review game of choice, and without a clear idea of what to do instead this week. Not for lack of games, mind you, hell no, I’m drowning in the things at this point. But none of the games I played beside Unrest this week, I played in my Reviewer Mode. I still have screenshots for most of them, because I’m an inveterate screenshot addict, but the normal Indie Wonderland storyline would be lacking.

Therefore, instead, I’m resurrecting an old Blue Screen of Awesome tradition: instead of talking about one game with single-minded focus, I’m going to ramble a little more surface-level about three. Welcome to Indie Wonderland, Three-For-One Edition! Welcome to the future past.

As luck would have it, I’ve played three games in the last week that left impressions I’ve been wanting to write more about: Divinity: Original Sin, Crypt of the NecroDancer, and Hoplite. In that order, but for no particular reason so. Divinity: Original Sin is featured on the rest of this page: if you’d prefer to immediately skip to any of the other games, you can find Crypt of the NecroDancer here and Hoplite here.

(Spoiler levels, throughout: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium-to-high.)

After the break: ‘Short’ thoughts on Divinity: Original Sin, Crypt of the NecroDancer, and Hoplite. ‘Short’ as I go, obviously.