Tag Archives: XboxOne

January Games Progress

I’m off to a pretty good start with the games from my 2017 post, so thought I’d do a bit of an update. If I manage to continue this kind of progress, I may do monthly or bi-monthly posts, but we’ll see.

Games completed this month

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Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm (PC)

Really enjoyed this, I think I’ll probably be playing the other expansion, Legacy of the Void sooner rather than later, but I may also go back and mop up some achievements from the Wings of Liberty campaign first. This month I’ve also had a good time playing some of the co-op missions with a buddy too, so will be doing more of that.


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Mortal Kombat XL – Story (PS4)

Never been a real Mortal Kombat fan, always preferred Street Fighter. However, the Injustice fighting game was surprisingly good fun, and MKX seemed to build on that so thought I’d give it a go. Injustice also had the most enjoyable story mode I’d played in a fighter too, and MKX does a decent job of living up to it.  It’s also about a million times better than the travesty of a ‘cinematic story mode’ that Capcom patched into Street Fighter V, I had the misfortune of playing through that as well this month. (SFV is still the best 1 v 1 fighter you can play with a mate in the same room, but it’s hard to recommend for anything else)


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Real MYST: Masterpiece Edition (PC)

After years of promising myself that I’d play through MYST again, I finally got round to it. The Real MYST engine held up nicely, and it was great to be back in that setting. Was also nice to finally see the Rime age that had been added. When I finished I thought I’d get stuck straight into Riven, but unfortunately that really doesn’t run well on my machine. I’m considering watching a play through for the story, and picking up with MYST 3 after.


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Telltale Batman (Xbox One)

Possibly the buggiest Telltale game I’ve played to date, but I still enjoyed it. The Batman licence  is a good fit for a game in this style. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy one, doesn’t seem as suitable, but we’ll see. This has got me over my Telltale burnout though, and I’ve now gone back to my Game of Thrones save I’d previously abandoned, and just played episode 3. Maybe I will see the end after all.


Progress against 2017 goal

I’m going to count my MYST play through against the entry for Riven, as it was half the plan anyway, and it’s probably important to keep the motivation going while I’ve got it. So along with Starcraft 2: HotS and Batman, that’s 3 down from my initial 9.  Pleased with that, I’ve also put in a preorder (against my better judgement) for Yooka-Laylee, so that’s one from the other list that will be happening.

Also played in January

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Diablo 3 Anniversary event (PC): Had a lot of fun with this, enjoyable to spend some time in classic Tristam, and pick up some new pets and transmogs. Managed to net all but one of the achievements, couldn’t bring myself to be farming rare monsters. Yawn.


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Sonic Dash 2 – Sonic Boom (Android): I’m not entirely sure why I’m playing this, aside from Hearthstone I don’t play many mobile games. I also played quite a bit of the original Sonic Dash. Part of the interesting thing here is that I got both games via Amazon Underground, where all in-app purchases are free, but it still tells you how much they would have cost otherwise. I pretty much buy upgrades for all the characters and unlock anything offered when I fancy, then look back and am fascinated/horrified by how much that would have cost. If I’d been paying real money I’ve already gone over £600.


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Spec Ops: The Line (PC): From the 2017 list, I’ve been enjoying this, making use of my Steam Link and an Xbox One S wireless controller to play it on the big screen in the lounge. Think I’ll probably finish the campaign within the week, so I’ll have at least one more to scratch off in February!


downloadBanjo Tooie (Xbox One): Also from the 2017 list, having a bit of trouble getting back into this. I was tempted to start over since it had been so long since I touched my game save, but decided 9 hours was too much progress to lose, so I’m persevering. I’ve mostly got it sussed, still a couple of worlds where I’m unsure which jiggies I’ve got already. Hoping to wrap this one up before Yooka Laylee arrives!

Top 5 games 2016

Now seems as good a time as any to do a round up of the gaming year, and squeeze one more blog post into 2016.  Here we go for my Top 5 games of the year.  As usual its reverse order and I’ll throw a couple of ‘almost made it’ titles on at the end.

5) Doom

Surprisingly not the only first person shooter in the list, but the Doom reboot is superb.  Manages to play like all the great 90s FPS titles and not feel dated.  It’s brutal, but the campaign is a joy.  I haven’t touched the multiplayer, so can’t comment on that, but if you’re looking for a good single player shooter, definitely give it a go.  (I do find it interesting that some of the best single player shooters in recent years have been remakes of Wolfenstein, Doom and Shadow Warrior… maybe the sky isn’t falling?)

4) Forza Horizon 3

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this title alone managed to shift a few Xbox One consoles. Most of what I said about Forza Horizon 2 in my 10 reasons I own an Xbox One post still applies here, but even more so.  It’s gorgeous to look at and a joy to play.  I’m still assured that the first game in the series is the best one, but until I get chance to go back and play it properly myself, I’m happy to state that Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games I’ve ever played, and easily the first title I’d recommend to someone looking for a current generation racer.

3) World of Warcraft Legion

Although not so much a game as an expansion pack, I’ve played plenty of games with less content than this expansion.  This made my list this year as it has been my favourite expansion so far, with only Wrath of the Lich King coming close, and with Legion, World of Warcraft is the best it’s ever been.  (Yes I played Vanilla WoW too, shut up.)

2) Life is Strange

This is also a sort of cheat, as the individual episodes came out in 2015.  However, it got released as a complete retail edition in January this year and I didn’t play it till after that, so I’m including it anyway.  I loved Life is Strange, and am eagerly looking forward to the sequel.  It’s the best single player game I’ve played this year, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story (and great soundtrack) to their games. It’s also the best ‘Telltale’ style game I’ve played, which seems to have kind of spoiled me for their stuff, oops.

1) Overwatch 

Think this is top of a lot of people’s lists this year, and not without good reason. It’s just so much fun! My love for Blizzard is well known, and Overwatch just shows that they can just as easily turn their brand of developer magic to fresh new I.P. It looks lovely, the voice acting and sound design are excellent and it has entirely reawakened my love for multiplayer FPS in a time when Call of Duty and friends had pretty much run it into the ground.

The only criticism I have for Overwatch at all, is simply that I don’t manage to play as much as I’d like, so I’m not getting better.

Other mentions:

Worms WMD: This was really close to making the list, the best worms game since Armageddon and a complete return to form. Still hilarious, and still only has Bomberman as competition for best local multiplayer game.  (Mario Kart lingers in third place for me, looking nervously at Overcooked)

Street Fighter V: Before it came out, I really expected this to make the list. Where it counts, SFV is a fantastic game. Within the fights themselves, SFV is the best 1v1 I’ve ever played. It’s an absolute joy and I play with my buddy (and long term Street Fighter nemesis, the Ryu to my Ken) whenever we get chance . However, the shortage of single player content has been widely reported, and although we were happy with the streamlined package, the knock on effect in terms of sales have decimated the online scene.  Street Fighter IV was wildly popular, and as such it was quick to get a game online and there were plenty of opponents at all levels for matchmaking.  The limited sales of SFV however mean that it takes ages to get a game, and the only players to match with are the real hardcore, and it’s difficult to have fun if you can’t get evenly matched. Disappointing. If more of my friends would get Xbox Ones, I think I’d move over entirely to Killer Instinct.

 

 

Upgrading modern console storage on a budget

If like me you’ve got entry level versions of both the Xbox One and PS4, then you’re probably running out of space on those 500gb drives.  There are many guides online on how easy it is to replace the internal hard drive on a PS4 and similarly how easy it is to add external storage to your Xbox One.

There are also numerous links to External USB Hard drives that are easy to open up and remove the drive ready to use in a PS4.  The natural extension of this applies if you have both consoles and wish to upgrade the storage in each machine as cheaply as possible while still getting a decent drive.

First of all I purchased this drive*, various other sites recommend that the 2014 and 2015 editions are suitable for opening up. I took a punt on the 2016 version and am happy to report that this works fine too.  Opening the case was just a matter of patience, took about 10 minutes working around the seam with a blade and then easing it open with a small screwdriver.  There are little clips all the way round.

Once you’ve got the hard drive out, you can follow the guide here for the process to upgrade your PS4.  A little note, when you get to Step 5 and need to reinstall the software, the most obvious download on the linked page will only give you the ‘update’ version of the firmware (it’s around 250mb), this won’t work.  What you need to do is scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on “Perform a new installation of the system software”, Step 2 of these instructions has a new Download link which will give you the full upgrade file, (around 950mb so you know you’ve got the right one).  Once you’ve got that you can follow the rest of the steps to install it on your new drive.

When you’ve got the old 500mb drive from your PS4, you can put that into the enclosure your new one came in, and hook that up via the included USB lead to your Xbox One.  There are helpfully USB ports on the back of the machine so you can keep this tidy.  Once connected your Xbox will ask if you wish to format it to use for games storage, hit yes and once the format is complete it’ll be ready for use.

2TB PS4 and a 1TB Xbox One for < £70.  Bargain.

Note you don’t get the full advertised amounts of storage space, this is partly because some of it is reserved for system use and partly because of how data storage volumes are recorded, but you already knew that, right?

*Affiliate links, I will receive commission if you purchase

Ten reasons I own: An Xbox One

Following my PlayStation 4 post, it’s time to balance the scales.  Keeping to the same format as previous, this is ten aspects of the Xbox One that make it worth owning to me, not just a list of exclusive games.  I have no interest in Kinect, and the initial mandatory bundling of that hardware was a big part of me writing off the Xbox One to begin with.  I always maintained I’d reconsider once they cut it from the console though, and I am glad I did.

As per my conclusion on the PlayStation 4 post, I do find it hard to recommend the Xbox One over a PS4 unless you’re REALLY big on the exclusives, but now was definitely the right time for me to add one and own both.

1. Rare Replay

Easily the best value and greatest presented Retro Compilation ever, this is an absolute gem and the tipping point for me to suck it up and buy the console. So many great games on here, and available brand new for less than the price of just one of the included N64 games on ebay… It is cool that the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade titles retained my progress from the first time round, but I would have liked an excuse to replay Nuts & Bolts.

2. Halo: Master Chief Collection

A close runner up to Rare Replay in terms of value, this initially passed me by due to reports of broken multiplayer. It contains Halo games 1 – 4, and a free update added Halo ODST.  The games have received graphical work since their original releases, most notable in Halo 2.  I’m very much enjoying replaying the campaigns, and the multiplayer issues seem to be resolved.  I’ve played quite a bit online, and I really like how the multiplayer mode spans all the games, with a vote each round of which to play next.

3. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

I got this bundled with my console, and although I am a fan of the series, I had played Gears of War 1, 2 and 3 through several times in co-op and didn’t think I’d bother again. It looks amazing though, and I found myself co-opping the campaign with a new buddy (shoutout to @SuperGoataku) and thanks to Microsoft providing free Backwards Compatible downloads of the original Gears of War 1, 2, 3 and Judgement, we are now half way through a Judgement campaign and setting up to play a bit of GoW 3 Horde to pass the time while we await number 4.

4. Forza Horizon 2

My purchase of this was largely fuelled by the difficulty issues I had been experiencing with Driveclub, documented in my PS4 post. Horizon is a much more forgiving series, but thanks to the physics and handling models perfected in Forza, it is still very satisfying to play.  The theme of a racing festival does grate a bit, but the driving makes up for it and I find it perfect for half hour sessions before work.

5. EA Access

As a proper casual sports gamer, the EA Access vault is something I’ve been wanting for years. I like the idea of sports games a lot more than the reality, and long ago learned that it wasn’t worth me paying £40 every year for a set of new names in FIFA.  This way I get to play the previous releases as much as I like.  It’s just a shame it isn’t available on PS4 where my Madden playing friends are.  It doesn’t hurt that I managed to snag 12 months of EA Access for £10 either.

6. Backwards Compatibility

After trading my Xbox 360 for a graphics card sometime back, I had come to terms with losing my digital library of games. Admittedly it is still early days to see how many of my games I’ll regain the use of, but it has already started well.  Ikaruga and R-Type Dimensions were very pleasant surprises!  I now look forward to the monthly updates as more support is added.  Extending it to all future Xbox 360 games included in the ‘Games with Gold’ is also a stroke of genius.  (Still doesn’t quite match the value I personally get from PS+ though, while owning PS3, PS4 and a Vita…)

7. Halo & Forza Series

Although I’ve touched upon these higher in the list, both have new entries that were factors in my buying the console. Halo V and Forza 6 are both appealing to me, and it’s a testament to the fun I’m having with the machine that I haven’t got around to buying either yet!  As it happens I think the Halo itch is being scratched by both Destiny and the Master Chief Collection.  I’ll likely grab Forza 6 when I finish Horizon 2 or Driveclub.  Halo and Forza were the big exclusives to me when I had the 360, and although I didn’t feel like I was missing much by the Forza 5 release, I am pleased they seem to have found their feet on the new generation.

8. Killer Instinct

I’m not much of a fan of free to play payment models, and ignored this from launch when I saw how it was being distributed. However, I came across the Season 1 pack on a disc for £5 and decided to give it a go.  It is a really good fighting game, and worth hooking up the cronusmax plus and arcade stick for (also see my post on cross-platform accessories).  I’m still not sold on the DLC model, but did grab season 2 over Christmas when it dropped into the sale, £8 felt like a good price and now I’m happy to have all fighters released so far.  I expect I’ll hold out for a sale on Season 3 as well once it’s out.

9. Destiny: The Taken King

As I touched upon in my Driveclub section on the PS4 post, Destiny’s Taken King expansion was a pretty major turning point for the game. Widely considered to have addressed many of the game’s original issues, the more I heard about it the more I really wanted to get involved.  After hearing several people mark Destiny as their GOTY for 2015 (Specifically The Taken King) I decided I’d make the leap.  Fortunately the Taken King Legendary Edition contains the original game and all DLC to date, and can be had cheaply.  The biggest problem I had was choosing which platform to get it for.  In the end I sided with the Xbox One as I seem to have a few more active Destiny players amongst my Xbox friends.  I haven’t ruled out buying another copy for the PS4 though…

10. Windows 10

I have mentioned before, but I maintain a decent gaming PC, and am a happy early adopter of Windows 10. The Xbox One app was really straightforward to configure for in-home streaming, and I have found it incredibly useful for when my flatmate wants the TV in the lounge and I’ve agreed to play Gears of War online…  I really like how well it works with my PC setup, a wired Xbox 360 controller and PC headset and I’m good to go.  Obviously I could just plug my Xbox One controller in, but it is nice to not have to carry that back and forth.

Just one more thing…

One negative point I thought I’d share, relates to the original design of the Xbox One controller bundled with my console.  Original versions of the pad didn’t have a mini-jack for connecting standard headsets.  My PS4 controller has one, and I spent 99p on a short cable that took the twin mini-jacks from my PC headset and let me use it on there.  There are three options if you want to do this on the original Xbox One pad:

So far so Microsoft… I went with the Chatpad, arguably I’ll want a second controller at some point anyway, but the Chatpad is pretty nice to use and it also has buttons for saving screenshots and videoclips, much less intrusive than the standard ‘double press the home button’ technique or indeed the delights of hearing cries of “Xbox record that!” from my Nephew over live…

*affiliate Amazon links – I’ll get a small commission if you use these and buy something. Thanks. ^^

Whatever happened to cross-platform peripherals?

It always used to be fairly common to take your games to your friend’s house to play on their console, providing you all had the same machine (and you weren’t that one kid who went Nintendo, bleurgh).  To a lesser extent this still happens now, although more often I find it just involves signing into your digital account to download your games straight onto their console.

What used to also be fairly common though, was owning joysticks and other controllers that were multi-format.  As far as I can remember, my first experience of this was owning the superb Quickshot Maverick.  Possibly the origin of my arcade stick love, I got this for my SEGA Master System and hammered R-Type, Fantasy Zone and Transbot(!) with it.  Well I say hammered, but I was young and probably shite/even worse than I am now.  The multi-format capability was a real bonus, I frequently took it to my friend’s house for C64 gaming, it was a joy for Sheep in Space, Arnie, Slicks and Silkworm, and later it became controller of choice for my next door neighbour’s Amiga and hours of Sensible Soccer.

Quickshot Maverick 1
QuickShot Maverick 1

In the Saturn era (my Golden Age of gaming) this phenomenon would help me out again.  I owned the delightful looking (!) Madcatz Fazor lightgun, compatible with both the Saturn and PSX.  As well as benefiting my ownership of each machine in turn, it also regularly travelled to friend’s houses for ‘player 2’ experiences on Virtua Cop and Die Hard Trilogy etc.  Sadly it wasn’t ‘Guncon’ compatible, but later multi-platform lightguns were released that were.

Madcatz Fazor
Madcatz Fazor

At this time I also had the VRF1 Steering Wheel.  Again it was pretty funky looking, not entirely dissimilar from the official Saturn one.  This also worked on both Saturn and PSX, but with added N64 support into the mix.  This device and I spent hours on Sega Rally, Wipeout 2097, Ridge Racer and Porsche Challenge.  I remember devices of this kind being fairly common, although obviously varying wildly in quality, as has always been the nature of third party accessories.

Madcatz VRF1
Madcatz VRF1

Fast forward to present day, and things get a bit different.  As discussed in my previous post, I embraced multi-format gaming in a big way once I was old enough to finance/justify to myself owning a range of machines.  However the perils of being an adult also involve balancing budgets and apartment space.  I find it impossible to justify buying controllers such as steering wheels, when they’ll only work on one platform and I want to play racing games on three or more.  They are simply too expensive and take up too much space to get involved with owning multiple devices.

I did buy myself a HORI arcade stick for my 360 since it at least also worked on PC. This worked out well for my love affair with Street Fighter 4, and the vast array of shmups I played on both 360 and PC.  Unfortunately this meant I was less inclined to enjoy fighters and (non-twinstick) shmups on my PS3 where I only had the standard pads.  Periodically I looked into either modding my existing stick or purchasing a custom one, utilising a multi-pcb like the MC Cthulhu board, but costs (and effort) kept putting me off.

Hori Fighting Stick EX2 – 360

Enter the CronusMax Plus. (Update for 2020 – I now have the newer model, Cronus Zen. Does much the same but more polished. Also works perfectly with my Switch and Xbox Series S, and has a built in hub solution for the problems described later in this paragraph so you don’t need an extra one).  I stumbled across this little gem on a friends FaceBook post, and it presented the ideal solution to my first world problem.  My existing Hori stick had exclusively been used with my PC since I traded in my 360, but after handing over my £45 for the cronus, I found I could now also use it on my PS3 (hello Gradius V and Tekken Tag 2), Xbox One (Killer Instinct!) and, with a little effort involving a ‘pass-thru’ setup with the PC in my lounge, also on PS4 (Jamestown+ and Injustice already getting play, and setting me up nicely for Street Fighter V).  I understand the device will do some other fancy stuff too, but just for this purpose it has already paid for itself.  A couple of weeks after my purchase a firmware update resolved the need for a pass-thru on PS4, and now even that is straight-forward using a simple usb hub.  I understand there are similar devices available, but so far as I’m aware it is the only one so far to resolve the PS4 issue properly, and thus the one I’d recommend.

I’m excited by the possibility now that if I want to upgrade my arcade stick I can stay cross-platform easily and still have a broad selection to choose from.  I may even investigate a steering wheel setup, or get one of those Xbox One Elite Controllers.  £120 seems marginally more reasonable when I’d be able to use it on PS4 as well as Xbox One and PC. I could even use the PC ‘pass-thru’ arrangement to use Keyboard & Mouse on console FPS games, although I think that might be a step too far.

Part of me does wish they’d just standardise controllers, but at least there is an affordable workaround, and the open nature of the device for ‘tweaking’ does appeal.  Now I just have to deal with my other modern, multi-platform gamer problem.  How do I decide which group of friends I want to play online with?  I’m looking at you Destiny, if only there were shared servers for that. (Another 2020 update, there has at least been some progress in these areas!)

“Real Gamers are Platform Agnostic”

As much as I hate the idea of “hobby gatekeeping” the title above is something I have been known to band about (see “I’m with the Sega Boy“). Of course the statement is mostly how I justify buying more games and consoles than I could ever actually play, rather than a declaration about “real gamers”, whatever the hell they are…

A general rule for games consoles has always been the requirement of that “killer app” to sell the machine.  What I find interesting, is when they go beyond the obvious.  Everyone knows Sonic and Mario sold consoles, but it’s always refreshing to hear of other games that made people jump in.  Since the Dreamcast, the last machine I bought to play SEGA exclusives, there have been some key titles that stood out and made me buy each machine.  I largely skipped the PS2, but I think I’ve owned most other systems since the DC.

GameCube 
Main game here was Luigi’s Mansion, which I did really enjoy.  My console purchase was also helped by stumbling across a dirt cheap 2nd hand one only a month after launch…

Xbox
Admittedly I bought this for Halo, as it became apparent that as much as I prefer keyb & mouse for fps, I was going to have to get used to a controller.  The other factor though was the ease of modding, so I spent more time with emulators on my Xbox, and using xbconnect to play Rainbow 6 and Links golf online with friends, bypassing Xbox live…

Nintendo DS
Mario Kart and Animal Crossing were the big factors here, no surprises. Probably still my favourite versions of both franchises.

Wii
Yes, I bought this at launch to play Wii Sports, just like everyone else, I’m not a monster.  Later the purchase was justified with the addition of Mario Kart and Animal Crossing, apart from that I mostly played GameCube games on it.

Xbox 360
The promise of Space Giraffe from Jeff Minter put this on my radar, and I was happily waiting for the release to buy it.  However I played Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Assault Heroes on a friends machine, and I was convinced to jump in before SG came out.  SG was still day one though, rank 27 on the hardcore leaderboard is about the best I think I’ve ever done on any game…

PS3
As with the 360, my main reason for buying this wasn’t out yet when I bought the console.  I was sold on PS3 when I heard about the upcoming Wipeout HD, I was content waiting for that, until the same friend showed me Super Stardust HD and Everyday Shooter.  There should also be an honourable mention here for SingStar, was definitely a factor!

3DS
Techinically I didn’t buy this, as it was generously donated by a friend who was upgrading to an XL.  However my reasons for wanting it were the usual Mario Kart and Animal Crossing combo…

PS Vita
This was another launch purchase for me, only my second one ever. Wipeout 2048 and Super Stardust both being ready at launch were enough to convince me, and I never regretted the purchase.  Later FuturLab’s Velocity games and Jeff Minter’s TxK (which arrived replacing Tempest 2000 as my favourite game of all time) would secure the Vita’s place as my favourite handheld system.

PS4
I resisted this for a while, mostly because I was still mourning the demise of Wipeout, RESOGUN was a huge draw though.  I played it at a friends knowing that I’d eventually own one.  It wasn’t long after RESOGUN turned up on the Vita and I was playing that constantly that I was in GAME handing over my cash for a PS4.  PSPlus was a big draw too, having been subscribed to that prior to the PS4 launching, meant I’d already got a decent library of games for it by the time I picked one up.

Xbox One
My most recent purchase, only in the last few months.  Rare Replay was the key title here, without which I might have skipped it entirely.  While RR was the catalyst, Halo Master Chief collection and Forza exclusives sold it.  On the whole I still think the PS4 is the better choice if you’re only going to have one current system, but both Halo and Forza are “best in class” for me, and completely warrant owning an Xbox One as well.

I should also give a nod to my gaming PC, it is decent enough that I can still play latest releases, although I’m no longer getting away with setting all the graphics to max at 1080p… (4k is still some way in my future) The low cost of games on PC is a factor in my maintaining one, so I often pick up cross-platform titles on Steam.  The biggest draw in terms of exclusives for me though is Blizzard.  Even discounting the thousands of hours I originally spent on WoW, a significant amount of my gaming time is spent on StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm and Diablo 3 (yeah I know it has a console release, but I still prefer playing it on pc, click click click).  Having a persistent games library for PC is also a nice touch, compared to effectively starting from scratch each new console generation.  It’s pretty horrific for the backlog though…

So far as notable absences go, I think I just missed out the Wii U.  I have been largely uninspired by this, Mario Kart should have been enough, but I really don’t like that controller and the Animal Crossing titles have been disappointing.  I maintain that I would buy a budget Wii U that had a classic controller instead of the touchscreen one, ala the later Wii’s that dropped backwards compatibility, and just came with Mario Kart.

And with that, I manage not to go a whole year without updating the blog. I’m off to play Forza.