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Demon's Tilt promo

Demon’s Tilt – Game Preview

This is a game I’ve been following in development for some time. As mentioned in my December round up, we have been in the planning stages of a pinball episode of the Maximum Power Up podcast since October. The fine folks at WizNWar & FLARB were kind enough to provide me with a beta code back in November, so I’ve now spent a fair bit of time trying the game out.

Although the pinball episode should be out soon, Demon’s Tilt goes into Early Access on Steam next week, on 22nd January 2019. I wanted to share some of my thoughts in time for that, and hopefully contribute a bit to the conversation around the Early Access launch.

Overview

Demon’s Tilt is a 2D Pinball game, very much in the style of the 90s Crush Pinball games series from developers Compile and Tengen. From the screenshots it’s easy to see these influences, not least by the presence of a large head in the middle of the playfield. The game utilises pixel art and mega drive style music to present an experience reminiscent of the era, but with modern HD displays in mind.

Demon’s Tilt also takes some influence from ‘bullet hell’ shmups, with the various bosses in the game more than happy to fill the screen with projectiles. While this can look a little confusing in screenshots, it soon makes sense when you are playing. This is pinball, so pretty much every element is there for the same thing, to give you more opportunities to increase your score.

Graphics

Like Devil’s Crush, Demon’s Tilt takes a heavy occult influence for it’s aesthetic. This is focused on the creepy nun in the middle level of the table. Given the success of the Conjuring series of films and its descriptively named spin off “The Nun”, it would appear creepy nuns are very much ‘in’.

The lowest level of the table is where the various mini-boss enemies appear as the game progresses. This starts with the Hermit, the gatekeeper for the Cathedral. He gives way to increasingly disturbing horrors, my personal favourite being the mass of tentacles that is Shub Calamari.

Once you’re at the top of the table, you’re met by the overlord of Demon’s Tilt, the dreaded Manticore. Part lion, serpent and scorpion, the Manticore looks great, and is a deserving headline for the game.

Screenshots

TATE mode

A recent update has added TATE mode (support for a monitor rotated 90 degrees, to have a ‘portrait’ display). Short of playing in full VR, TATE mode is my preferred way to play Pinball games. It is much more satisfying to have a whole pinball table on the screen, rather than the screen to scroll with the ball. Demon’s Tilt is still great in the standard view mode, with the screen scrolling with the action, and making some impressive use of zoom.

Music

demon's tilt ost

Composer Charlie Heinrich has created a soundtrack to the game that is pure Mega Drive. To get the authentic sound, he emulates the sound chip from the Mega Drive itself. The image above is a soundcloud link to the tracks so you can check it out. The music really suits the occult aesthetic of Demon’s Tilt’s and evokes those classic games. Especially when the bell tolls for MULTIBALL!

Thoughts & issues

There have been continued updates since I was first given access to the game. While there were initially several bugs that you can expect in beta software, those I experienced have almost all been eradicated. The main one I suffered was that I had to exit the program after each go in order to start a new game. As it happens, that was almost a useful feature. Demon’s Tilt nails the “one more go” element of the best pinball games. When your last ball slips down the gutter, it’s impossible not to think that you’ll do better next time. At least having to close the game and restart it helped me pull myself away after just one or two goes. Rather than the five or six credits I now play.

The only issue I have now is that the frame rate can drop some when things get particularly frantic (and they can get frantic). It has been improving with each update though, and doesn’t put me off wanting to play.

If you enjoy pinball at all this is easily worth a look. If you’ve got any love for the Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush/Dragon’s Fury, then Demon’s Tilt is pretty much essential.

Pre-release leaderboards make me look better

Interested?

I can’t wait for the final release of Demon’s Tilt. I’m even looking forward to the game entering Steam Early Access and for more people to get their hands on it. Even if it does mean I get pushed down the leaderboard.

If you want to check it out for yourself, the Steam page is here.
You can also follow developments via the game’s official Twitter and Facebook.

My long serving iPod. May he live forever.

What are your Ten Perfect Albums?

The Premise

Perfect Albums you say? Well. This is a project I’ve been working on in my head for about 5 years. It started out even longer ago, based on the seemingly innocuous question, “Hey, what are your top ten favourite albums?” The more time I spent thinking about it, the more it bothered me. Could an album really be my favourite if I’m skipping 40% of it, but I really like 5 or 6 songs? Sure I love Bros – Push, but is it really in a top 10? (Hey I said it was a long time ago.)

I have decided to re-frame the question. I’m now asking, “What are your top ten albums that you consider perfect?” Perfect in this sense being those albums:

  • where there are no tracks that I skip,
  • that I often find myself returning to,
  • that I easily put back on again from the beginning after it finishes.

Choosing my Ten

After years of deliberation, I have finally decided on my ten. I’m no music critic and it’s important to stress the importance of “I consider perfect” not being equivalent to “technically great” or “musical genius”. In some cases I may even admit that there are “better” albums by the same artist, if so I’ll try to acknowledge these in the posts.

Many people have written about the links between music and memory. It is widely recognised that songs and albums can transport you to a time and place (sometimes whether you like it or not) and this has been very much in my mind when considering the list. All the albums I have chosen feel connected to my life in some way.

I can promise there is no Bros in the line-up, I can’t promise there isn’t anything you’ll consider a dubious choice. Hopefully though you’ll stick with me (both of you), and at least read the posts where I’ll share my thoughts, perhaps pick out some standout tracks and maybe even talk a bit out the memories the album evokes. We’ll see.

The Plan

I intend to treat each album to an individual blog post. Aiming to cover an album every couple of weeks. When I’m done I may do a couple of honourable mentions, as there are a number on the cutting room floor.

I’d also be very interested to hear other people’s take on this question, although that may require people reading the blog. I shall keep my expectations low.

2019 in Games

A quick glance over the 2018 post shows an almost complete failure to stick to the plan. I’ll just have a quick review of the few I did play from the list, then come up with a new list for 2019. I’m going to roll some forward, but still give it a refresh.


Played in 2018

1. Gears of War 4 – Xbox One

I think I’m slightly less than half way through this now, playing in co-op with my usual Gears & Halo buddy. Pretty sure we’ll wrap it up in 2019, and hopefully make a start on something else. Maybe Halo 3.

2. Skies of Arcadia Legends – Game Cube

I made a start on this, but wasn’t really in the mood. I’ve dropped it back into the ‘one day’ pile, and will consider it again at some point when I’m in the mood for an epic JRPG.

3. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – PS4

Hurrah, a game from the list I played and completed during 2018! Loved it too. I think the next game, Wolfenstein: Young Blood, has the potential to be really good too, but I don’t expect I’ll get to it this year.


10 games for 2019

1. Super Metroid – Wii / SNES

One I’ve rolled forwards from last year. I think it was a bit soon after finishing Axiom Verge (and playing so much Castlevania for the podcast) to play this last year, but I think we’re getting there.

2. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void – PC

Another one carried over from 2018’s list. I know I’ll be hooked once I make a start but I just need to be in the mood for an RTS. I did already buy the remastered original game though, so I’ve got that to look forward to as well at some point.

3. Riven – Saturn

I scrapped this from a previous list due to difficulties getting it to run well on PC. All the MYST games have recently been re-released digitally, and may well now run much smoother. However, I picked up a mouse for my Saturn last year, so I have scraped Myst III from the list for now, and reinstated the Saturn version of Riven. Excellent.

4. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – GBA

Enough time has passed since the Castlevania episode, I think I’ll get to this soon. Good to have a handheld title on the list too.

5. Fable Anniversary

Picked this up a while ago and keep forgetting I’ve got it. I loved the second and third games but have somehow never played the original. This may be the year I sort that out!

6. Indigo Prophecy: Fahrenheit – PS4

Really intended to get to this last year, having bought the same game repeatedly and never played it.

7. Marvel’s Spider-man – PS4

The only game on my list that I don’t own already, I plan to buy this once I finish God of War. Hopefully won’t be too much longer on that. Comparisons between this Spider-man game and the Batman Arkham games are reassuring.

8. Quantum Break – Xbox One

Also from last year, I’m still looking forward to playing this.

9. The Last Express – PC

Last one on the list that I’ve brought with me from last year. Gotta have a train game!

10. The Witcher 3: Game of the Year – Xbox One

Only just picked this up during December. Not sure if I’ll take to it, but I plan on at least giving it a go during 2019.


2019 releases I’m looking forward too

This section was a bit of a washout last year, with only the Street Fighter Anniversary collection really catching my attention. Metro Exodus should be out in 2019 though, so I’ve kept it on the list for this year. Given the demise of Telltale, it’s unlikely Wolf Among Us 2 will ever appear.

1. Metro Exodus – PS4

I’m still worried that a shift to open world may ruin the tight experiences of the first two games, but I really like this world so I’m trying to be optimistic. Will keep an eye on the reviews before picking it up though.

2. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – PS4

I’m all in for this spiritual Castlevania sequel, hoping it lives up to the promise.

3. Doom Eternal – PS4

The previous game was a masterpiece, really looking forward to more of the same. Early footage has been promising.

4. Warcraft III: Reforged – PC

As you may imagine from my All-Time Top 5 RTS Games post, I’m pretty excited for this. I’m hoping to replay the full campaign again, and with a bit of luck, maybe play some multiplayer too.

5. Animal Crossing – Switch

Yeah I know. If one game can sell me a new Nintendo system though it’s a proper Animal Crossing game. Will see how the game looks when it comes out, but this is probably the only thing that could sell me a Switch at this point.

November Games

Busy month in games land, with me managing to complete, play, and buy a bunch of games, and even abandon one for good measure. The 2018 playlist has all but been forgotten. Will review that for 2019 I think, roll some games forward and have a bit of a reshuffle.


Games completed during November

Tesla vs Lovecraft – PS4

Had an absolute blast with this. As you might imagine from the title, Tesla vs Lovecraft doesn’t take itself very seriously. It’s a lovely twin-stick arena shooter in the Robotron style. It’s not as polished as Housemarque’s excellent Nex Machina, but it’s not too far behind.

Rollers of the Realm – PC

I do love a bit of pinball, and couldn’t pass this premise up. It’s a party based RPG, where all the combat and exploration takes place in pinball table-based arenas. The various classes of character are different types of pinball, had a lot of fun playing through this one.

Forza Motorsport 7 – Xbox One

Finally finished the single player championship on this. The patched out all the lootbox trash I complained about previously, and it’s a much better experience for it. The mods remain clunky, hopefully we’ll have it resolved from the beginning when the inevitable Forza Motorsport 8 arrives.


Games abandoned this month

Watch Dogs 2 – PS4

I knew when I bought this, it was a gamble. I don’t generally get on well with open world games, but I’d been enjoying watching Mr. Robot so much that I thought I’d give it a go for the hacker vibe. I managed about 3 hours. Was enjoying the story and how on the nose some of the missions were, but the majority of the game play is everything I find tedious in Grand Theft Auto. Oh well, I tried.


Also played this month

Forza Horizon 4Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox One & PC

Still playing and loving this, looking forward to the first expansion turning up in December.

 

 

Tetris Effect Demo – PSVR

Granted I don’t usually include demos in this round up. Mostly because I don’t play many, but this is something special. An incredible experience in VR, but couldn’t bring myself to pay the asking price of £35 for another copy of Tetris, especially when I already have a substantial queue of VR games to play. Will grab it in a sale I think!

God of War – PS4

Only picked this up this month too, but managed to get on it pretty quickly after I gave up on Watch Dogs.  I’m about 6 hours in I think, and having a great time so far. It’s already the best in the series for me.

Forza Motorsport 5 & 6 – Xbox One

As well as completing the main championship on Forza 7 during November, I also put a bunch of time into these two games. Mostly mopping up Forza Rewards achievements, so that I get more free credits in Forza Horizon 4.


Games picked up during November

Cities Skylines Snowfall – PC

Bought myself this bit of DLC for Cities Skylines, in a bid to convince myself to get round to playing the game properly. I’ve had a bit of a go, but hoping to spend more time on the snow content during December.

 

PlayStation 2 Slim

I’ve never really spent much time with the PS2. It mostly passed me by at the time, as I was too busy playing Dreamcast, GameCube and Xbox. Finally decided to rectify this, and picked up a cheap used console from CeX.

 

Batman Arkham VR – PSVR

Haven’t got round to playing it yet, but I’ve heard so much good stuff about this game, decided to grab it during the Autumn sales. Looking forward to getting on it eventually.

 

Tempest 4000 – PC

Another one from the wishlist, finally grabbed Tempest 4000. I’d have preferred it for PS4 but the price difference was crazy. Great game though!

 

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy – PC

Loved this back on the original Xbox, picked the PC version up on Steam for the nostalgia hit.

 

DX-Ball 2: 20th Anniversary – PC

Had no idea this was even a thing! I loved DX Ball 1 & 2 way back when (20 years ago apparently!) and this update is just how I remember it. One of my favourite Arkanoid clones.

Pinball FX3 Jurassic World Pack – PC

Took advantage of the steam sale to add a few more tables to my Pinball FX3 collection. These Jurassic Park / World themed ones are excellent.

Forza Horizon 4

October Games

A month without any games completed again. I did manage a fair amount of gaming, but I put the lack of completions down to a combination of playing the new Forza Horizon, and playing games that are much too difficult for me to complete for the latest Maximum Power-Up podcast episode “Run & Gun”. Teehee.


Games abandoned during October

Dead Space – Xbox 360 / Xbox One

I give up. After hinting about it last month, I still haven’t picked this up again since. I made it to Chapter 5 or something, further than any of my previous attempts. It’s disappointing because the story and atmosphere of Dead Space are superb and very much my kind of thing. I just don’t enjoy the gameplay enough, time to let it go and make room for something else. Maybe one of the many FPS games from my backlog.


Played this month

Forza Horizon 4 – XB1 & PC

Pretty much all I’ve played this month aside from podcast research. The game is a masterpiece. Consider it my new All-Time Favourite Racer. I’m also very much enjoying playing it on both PC and Xbox One depending on where I am in the house. Still plenty to do, and I haven’t even taken it online at all yet.


Games picked up during October

Shadow Warrior 2 – PC

Pretty sure this was free on the humble store or Good Old Games as part of a promotion. Really enjoyed the first one, as well as the original game first time round. Looking forward to maybe playing this one day. Perhaps if I finish the first one…

ToeJam & Earl – Xbox 360 / Xbox One

This is a port of the two Mega Drive games. Grabbed them in a sale just for the convienience of having them on the Xbox One as well.

 

Fighting Vipers – Xbox 360 / Xbox One

A game that mostly passed me by on the SEGA Saturn, I picked this edition up just to spend a bit of time with it, if only to better appreciate the Fighting Vipers side of the Fighters Megamix roster.

 

Virtua Fighter 2 – Xbox 360 / Xbox One

Have played this to death ever since first getting a Saturn back in the day, but after confirming its place in my All-Time Top 5 fighting games, I thought I’d get it for the Xbox while I was buying Fighting Vipers, because why not.

Halo Wars: DE – PC

I think the people over at Steam who decide which games to put on sale had read my last blog post. This popped up for a bargain price, and I’m excited to give an RTS set in the Halo Universe a proper go with keyboard & mouse controls.

 

 

September Games

Returned to winning ways with a minor completion this month. I need to revisit the list of games I meant to play this year though, since I appear to have gone wildly off track. Haven’t given up on any during September, but I fear for Dead Space. If I don’t wrap that up during October I might have to write it off.


Games completed during September

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite – PS4

I picked this up during September, had a bit of a craving to play some Capcom fighting games (as will be evident from the below playlist). I had ignored this when it first came out due to the poor reception it received. While it’s a far cry from Capcom at their best, it is decent enough if you can pick it up cheap. I got it for around £14 with the 6 DLC characters. I played through the story mode on a day off and quite enjoyed it, not as much as the recent Injustice & Mortal Kombat games, but still an entertaining diversion.


Also played this month

X-Men vs Street Fighter – SEGA Saturn

One of the best crossover fighters, really enjoyed playing a bit of this again. Although the Juggernaut & Zangief team admittedly gave me quite the headache!

 

Street Fighter V – PS4

Seemed a recent patch reset my progress in the new Arcade modes on here, so I had to start over. I’ve now redone the first two. If I manage to do all 6 of them, I might count this as another completion.

Destiny 2 – PS4

A free game with PS Plus during September, I was pleased to be able to give this ago. I’ve played the first hour or so to get to the main hub so I could play with people, but haven’t yet felt the urge to go back to it. Felt a lot like playing the first one to be honest.


Games picked up during September

Tesla vs Lovecraft – PS4

Been waiting for this to pop up in a sale for a while, think it was around £4. As will be evident if you’ve listened to the recent Maximum Power-Up Podcast (or if you’ve met me…) I am always up for a game with a Lovecraftian influence, and also partial to a twin-stick shooter. I’ve put a couple of hours into Tesla vs Lovecraft now, and have been enjoying it. The game plays a lot like Nex Machina, although it’s not quite as deep / polished as that (not much is though).

SF x Tekken – PC

I used to own a retail version of this, but think I gave it away in a disappointed huff. However, I really wanted to play it again so picked up a Steam Code for a couple of quid. It is a fun game, but the micro-transaction pushing gem system is a travesty and pretty much spoils the whole thing. As a bit of a bonus, the fix I had to install to make it run properly on Windows 10 also unlocked all the extra characters, which was nice.

Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Ed. – XB1 / PC

I originally pre-ordered the standard retail edition of this. Forza Horizon 3 being my favourite racer of all time, I felt confident about a pre-order. However, after the recent upgrade to my PC I really wanted to be able to play it on there as well. Once the demo came out, I played it a bit on both the Xbox and PC, and took the plunge. Cancelled my ‘xbox one only’ physical pre-order and started shopping around for a good deal on the ‘cross-buy’ digital edition. I managed to upsell myself to the Ultimate Edition, thanks to finding a discounted code online, so I’ve been able to start playing the game a few days early.

Capcom Beat ’em Up Bundle – PS4

This appeared out of nowhere. Didn’t see any news about it ahead of release, but was a day one purchase when I saw the line up. Seven of Capcom’s Arcade Brawlers, two of which have never previously had home versions. Looking forward to playing some of these in local co-op.

All-Time Top 5 Fighting Games

Another Top 5, these are getting harder to decide on, but if @swooper_d over on twitter can manage a top 30 then I don’t really have any excuses not to do this one.

In reverse order as usual, and where I’ve put down the platform for each game, that’s just where I played the game most or currently. Many of these are available on other systems.


5) Street Fighter V – PS4

If this list was just on the strength of the actual gameplay sitting side by side with an evenly matched mate, then this would be comfortably way out in front. Unfortunately though, Capcom made some poor decisions around the original release of Street Fighter V, and although they have made numerous sizeable content updates, the game remains lacking for single player; and online is brutal if you’re not at least semi-pro.

4) Marvel vs Capcom 2 – DC

Was tricky to decide which of the ‘versus’ series from Capcom to include, as there are so many great ones. This is probably the one I spent the most time with, and has an incredible roster of playable characters.

 

3) Virtua Fighter 2 & 5 – Saturn & Xbox 360

Cheating here but I’m including both Virtua Fighter 2 and 5 in this list as I couldn’t decide which I liked more. It’s really impressive how well the Saturn port of Virtua Fighter 2 holds up though. When I want to play some Virtua Fighter, it’s one of these two games I reach for, and it’s decided based on whichever is closest.

2) Injustice 2 – PS4

Even I’m surprised by how high this sits. However, if Street Fighter V was an excecise in how not to release a mainstream fighting game, Injustice 2 is a masterclass in how it should be done. Builds on the great DC Fanservice of the first game with another fun story mode, then adds the ‘multiverse’ content and introduces a gear chasing mechanic like Diablo. Don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time playing any fighting game on my own. This is also handsdown the best Mortal Kombat game. (Fight me, ideally on one of these games) That said Mortal Kombat XL is pretty solid fun too.

1) Ultra Street Fighter IV – PS4 & PC

Street Fighter V wouldn’t have been anywhere near as disappointing if they hadn’t been following up the stellar work that had been done on this. Easily the best experience I’ve had all round with a fighting game, right down to the well delivered net play and matchmaking. I’ve gone with Ultra, as that’s what I mostly play now, but I have owned each iteration of SFIV and in my experience whichever you have access to is worth playing.


Honourable Mentions:

Skull Girls – PC & PS4

Some of the artwork is dubious and cringey, but this is a joy to play. Embracing the familiar 6 button layout of Street Fighter, this feels instantly familar and very polished.

 

Fighters Megamix – Saturn

A real slice of Sega Fanservice, basically a mashup of Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers, fans were rewarded with unlockable characters from SEGA properties such as Sonic, Virtua Cop, and even the car from Daytona. This is excellent fun to play, and I’d probably rate it higher if I’d spent more time with the Fighting Vipers series.

Tekken Tag Tournament – PS2

The Tekken series has always been entertaining, but has never felt as balanced as other fighters. Particularly when compared to the Street Fighter or Virtua Fighter games. This is the game I had the most fun with. I picked up the sequel for PS3 in a sale but haven’t really got round to checking it out.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 – DC & Saturn

It’s a tough shout as to whether I’d go with Alpha 2 or 3, as I probably spent more time with the second game first time round. However, 3 is very much my go to these days, particularly now I have access to the excellent Japan only Saturn port.

Vampire Savior – Saturn & PS3

In an alternate reality, Capcom abandoned Street Fighter and carried on making games in the Vampire / Darkstalkers series. 🙁
At least some of the characters live on in the Capcom vs games, but I’d really like another. Ideally a Street Fighter IV style reboot for the series.

 

August Games

Well, had to happen eventually, but I managed a month without completing anything. This month does a have a new section though. Enter “Abandoned”. Games I was intending on completing that I gave up on.


Games abandoned during August

Wario Blast – Game Boy

Was very much enjoying replaying this on my shiny new Game Boy. Thought it was going to be a relatively straight forward completion to tick off. Not so, the last boss is an ass. I’ve watched videos of people doing it in less than a minute, but the timings are painful. Have given up, I think when I beat it back in the day it was in local co-op on my friends Super Game Boy. Maybe I’ll try again one day.

Here They Lie – PSVR

This was a free game on Playstation Plus, and I was looking forward to checking it out with my headset. The game starts off really interesting and very creepy. Unfortunately it also gave me the worst motion sickness I’ve had from VR yet. After about 20 minutes I had to give up, I had been enoying the game though so continued in 2D. Sadly what was an interesting experience in VR, was very ‘middle of the road’ without it. Glad I didn’t buy this.


Also played this month

90s FPS Games – PC

Following last month’s PC Upgrade, I’ve been making the most of my new hardware, by using it to play games I played back in the ’90s. This mostly involved finding modern engines for them, to add higher resolutions, improved lighting etc.  Played around with Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Hexen 2 and of course Quake 1 and 2.

Star Trek Bridge Crew – PSVR

A big part of the reason I picked up my headset in the first place, I finally got around to playing this online with a buddy. It was excellent, and I’m looking forward to our continuing adventures. Hopefully with another crew member if we can work the timings out.

Virtua Cop – SEGA Saturn

Spent a bit of time with this using the mouse I picked up earlier this year. It’s not as satisfying as a light gun would be, but is much more playable than using a pad. Nice to be able to play these old shooters at all.

 

 


August Pickups

Quake Champions: DLC Pack – PC

The Champions Pack DLC went on sale for £13, and I’d already put enough time into the game that I was happy to buy it. The pass unlocks all the current champions as well as any more that get added. I’ve also been doing much better in the game since I found out how to properly set up my mouse sensitivity & DPI settings for FPS games. I’m still playing a few rounds pretty much everyday.

Game Boy stuff

I went up to London for the Play Expo event this month. As usual I didn’t have much on my shopping list, but was pleased to pick up some games I wanted and a slipcase for my new Game Boy.

All-Time Top 5 Board & Card Games

This is even less of an ‘all-time’ list than usual, since there is no way I’ve played enough games to be definitive. However, it’s my format and I’m sticking to it. Also I could easily do top 5 card games, top 5 co-op games, top 5 games to play drunk etc, but I thought I’d stay simple. Consider this the Top 5 of the games I personally want to play if you invite me to games day.


5) Takenoko

Easily the cutest board game I’ve ever played, the expansion adds a lady panda miniature and also panda babies (disappointingly though the babies are tokens and not more minis).  The game is a good mixture of strategy & luck, as you compete to be the best bamboo gardener. An easy recommend, and is a pretty good gateway game for people not used to playing many games beyond monopoly.

 

4) Elder Sign

The only co-op game on this list, and surprisingly also the only Lovecraftian one. Elder Sign really nails the theme and atmosphere. It’s essentially Cthulhu Yahtzee, but with enough systems to keep the luck of a game reliant on dice rolls from becoming frustrating.

This game is the one that really brought me round to enjoying co-op games. Never really saw the point before!

 

3) King of Tokyo

Giant monsters, what’s not to love?!

The sequel, King of New York, along with the various small expansions, add a little complexity, but core gameplay remains the same. Be the last giant monster standing.

 

 

2) Hero (or Star) Realms

Both Hero Realms and Star Realms are very similar games, if you were just going to pick up one, the choice is simply whether you prefer a fantasy or sci-fi theme. These have been the go to 2-player card game in our house since the demise of Lords of War (sob).

The gameplay involves using your resources to purchase better cards for your own deck, then using those cards to defeat your opponent. Easy game to recommend, and a 2 player starter deck can be had for around £15.

 

1) Small World

Still my favourite board game. I know this is great, because I’m always so pleased we get it to the table, that I don’t even mind if I lose.  It’s a game of conquering territory ala Risk, but with a large selection of player Races & Abilities which each impact the strategy of the game in different ways.

 

 

 


Also rans:

DC Deck-Building Game

A strong alternative to Star / Hero Realms, this is another favourite in our house. There are various editions available, including a Street Fighter one.

The game play in this is similar to Star / Hero Realms, although the focus is on accumulating victory points in your deck rather than straight up combat with your opponent, so you don’t find out who has won till the end.  This is a good option if you regularly have more than 2 players, as for my money, it supports more players better than Star / Hero Realms.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

This was very close to making the top 5. What I love about this is how well it handles the theme, but the game is still excellent if you have no idea about Discworld.

A gamesday regular.

 

Gloom

Sort of an inverse happy families. You start out with one of the set families, and as the game progresses various events occur having either a positive or negative effect on the quality of life of each family member. The general goal is to make your family as miserable as possible, and then have them expire.

Although not the most uplifting of game ideas, the real joy in this game comes from storytelling. Each family member has their own backstory, players are encouraged to flesh this out during the course of the game, weaving a narrative around the various cards they are playing on their turns. Gloom is always well received when I introduce it to new people, twice I’ve had to leave it behind when visiting friends so they can carry on playing, and pick myself up a new copy.

Love Letter

A fast paced ‘filler’ game, very easy to learn and cheap to pick up. Much like Gloom this Love Letter always goes down well when introducing it to others. Easier than Gloom to get going in the pub though.

July Gaming

Another small indie completion this month, along with a bigger title I’ve been playing for a while.


Games completed during July

The Static Speaks My Name – PC

Another free indie game, I think I originally heard good things about this on a podcast. It almost has something mildly interesting to say about loneliness, mental health & death, but nothing too profound. Narrowly avoids disappearing up its own behind, but only if you don’t read the comments on Steam.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus – PS4

Not quite as great an experience as The New Order, but still a really good game. Very much enjoyed the story and shooting Nazis is always fun. It’s pretty tough though, a few frustrating parts almost spoil the experience in places. I’ve only finished the main campaign so far, time will tell if I put any more time into it.


Also played this month

Quake Champions – PC

Still in early access, I won a code for this from Twitter or somewhere. It has some frustrating trappings of the Free 2 Play model, but aside from the Champions which you can buy with a one off purchase, it’s pretty much just cosmetics in the loot system. It is great fun to play already though, and still fairly sparse in modes. I’ve been playing quite a bit, but struggling to climb the scoreboards on the solo instagib queue. Yet to decide if I just need practice to regain my Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament era skills, or if I’m just old and the required reaction times are far behind me.


July Pickups

PC Upgrade!

This bundle from overlockers.co.uk had been tempting me for a little while, when I realised I’d had my current CPU/Mainboard/RAM combo since 2012 I decided it was time for an upgrade. CPU is an AMD Ryzen 2600 and I plumped a little extra to double the RAM up to 16GB. It came with a free 250GB SSD, so that’s now in place as my new system drive.

I’m delighted with it, nice boost to performance and I think my old CPU was holding back the GTX 970 graphics card I got last year.

Elder Scrolls Online – PC

A few friends and I decided to give this a go now you don’t need a subscription. We’ve only played a couple of hours so far but it seems pretty nice. Might help me hold off trying out the new World of Warcraft expansion for a bit longer too.

Sonic Mania Plus – Xbox One

A surprise gift from my sister, seems she pre-ordered it back in May for my birthday and never told me, so it just turned up unannounced on release day. Was a perfect surprise as all the people talking about it on Twitter were tempting me into buying it myself. I’ve had a little go so far, it is as good as they say.

EZ-Flash Omega – Game Boy Advance

I’ve been in the market for a good flash card solution for the Game Boy Advance for a while. The EverDrive looked tempting but very pricey, and has an annoying oversize shell that wouldn’t fit flush in either my Game Boy Micro or Nintendo DS. A friend tipped me off to this though, and it’s perfect. Performance is close to the EverDrive, has interchangable shells so it’ll fit flush in either machine (I’ve gone with the DS one, and I think I’ll sell the Game Boy Micro on) and it cost less than a third of the price of the EverDrive.

Fable Anniversary – Xbox One (Xbox BC)

Finally picked this up in the Xbox Summer Sale. Never played the original Fable, but loved 2 & 3 back on the Xbox 360. Looking forward to finally checking out this version.

 

Custom Back-lit Nintendo Game Boy

I went up to NERG in July, and as well as generally having a great time with friends, I also picked up this beauty from the traders. It didn’t have the light fitted but I fell in love with the colour scheme and it was super cheap (they even threw in a copy of Tetris). Joe Bleeps was kind enough to fit the back light for me for a very reasonable fee.

The finished article is gorgeous, and now I’m going to pick up a few of the games I enjoyed as a nipper.