1. The misanthrope’s team-based online shooter

    I’ve written a few times before about my gaming ability but to recap: I’m terrible-to-average at games generally, and even worse at games that involve playing against real people. Splatoon, first on the Wii U and now on the Switch, is ostensibly a team-based online shooter, which is so many of my least-favourite words it’s amazing I even typed them all together like that. Despite this I’ve found myself sinking hours into Splatoon without complaint, enjoying the game and willingly returning for more.

  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

    Playing Breath of the Wild taught me something about myself, which is that I’ll happily put off fighting evil until tomorrow if there’s an interesting shrubbery in the distance I can visit today. Breath of the Wild is a game of staggering beauty and hidden depths, but it’s also a procrastinator’s delight. It is, in many ways, my perfect game.

  3. No Man’s Sky, a game of forward motion

    I was always going to appreciate No Man’s Sky. The look of the game is pure ‘70s sci-fi trash, all orange clouds and acid rain, the hardware chunky and brightly coloured with just a bit of smudge around the edges. The soundtrack as well matches perfectly, all pop and synth and twang. That’s just the surface, though: to fully appreciate the game, I first had to understand what sort of game it is.

  4. What kind of a game is L.A. Noire?

    I wrote recently about how infrequently I replay videogames, and how small the selection of games that get replayed even is. This summer, L.A. Noire became a strong candidate for inclusion. It's only my second playthrough but it turns out to be a great summer game: it's sunny most of the time, there's a big, beautifully-modelled city to drive aimlessly around in, the game is episodic so it's easy to slip in a go between, I don't know, barbecues and extreme frisbee or whatever the fuck people do during the summer, there's a compelling story, great performances, fantastic soundtrack, a selection of outfits and it's almost completely without challenge. It's my kind of game, but what kind of game is it?

  5. Blinded by the light

    One of the many problems of renting a home in London is that all expenses are generally spared, so although you'll get the basics — a fridge, a washing machine, maybe a flushing toilet — you'll often find a small note reading "fuck you lol" in place of, say, light shades, or door handles. Curtains, in my experience, come very low down the landlord's impossibly-long list of "things I will only by from Poundland, and even then only during a sale"; you'll get a fitted sheet slung over a wobbling curtain rail, and you'll like it.

  6. Final Fantasy VII and replaying games

    I re-watch films frequently, I re-read books occasionally, and I re-play games almost never unless it’s a three-to-five hour indie game like Journey that’s over after one or two sessions. When a game demands a minimum investment of 40 hours from start to finish, excluding side-quests, it’s tricky to favour that over playing something new. Re-playing a game of that length is like re-watching two whole seasons of a TV show without the ability to skip the weaker episodes, or, I don’t know, watching a whole game of football again instead of just the two goals that happened at the end. People might do that, actually, I have no idea.

  7. The secret 3DS player

    The StreetPass feature on the Nintendo 3DS encourages you to take your handheld out and about with you, swapping your Mii and a cursory greeting with any other 3DS that comes into range before letting you play a few games with them. It's a very Nintendo thing; they don't create an all-singing, all-dancing multi-functional device that tries to counter smartphones with email and Skype and whatnot on it, they just create a toy that's made more fun by keeping it with you all the time.

  8. Animal Crossing and aspirational living

    One of the key features in the latest Animal Crossing is the Happy Home Showcase, in which the houses belonging to the people you've encountered through StreetPass show up, allowing you to wander around them and maybe buy copies of their furniture. I liked this feature to begin with until I started getting flashbacks to my childhood, being made to put my coat on and be driven to the edge of the world to be dragged through 'show homes' with my parents.

  9. Running, walking and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

    Following on from my post about realistically traversing the game space of Remember Me by walking as a normal human being would, I want to also quickly note Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, a short, charming game available on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

  10. Running, walking and Remember Me

    I've started walking more in videogames because I was irritated by the way I felt compelled to run.

  11. The misanthrope’s Animal Crossing

    Nintendo's Animal Crossing is, fundamentally, a game about socialising. Why I have played it to death across three platforms so far is something of a mystery to me.

  12. The worst way to play GameCube games

    Over the years, I've owned and played a wide variety of games consoles, but the GameCube is the one I keep returning to, and I think it's because it's the last point in console gaming history where a console was nothing more than a gaming device. It could play games, and it could do nothing else.

  13. The Wii U’s anti-social message

    Nintendo's 2006 Wii controller reveal remains one of my all-time favourite moments in gaming, effortlessly introducing a radical controller design and demonstrating its potential by showing not games, but people playing them. The video is brilliant; the Wii's potential as a fun-for-all-the-family toy was clear to gamers and non-gamers alike. They didn't need to show any games to get the point across because fishing, drilling teeth, sword-fighting, drumming and so on are all easily-recognised actions and gestures. I'm fascinated with this, because with the Wii U the message seems to be the opposite. Wii was about getting everyone playing together; Wii U appears to be about playing even when everyone else in the house is doing something else.

  14. The Nintendo e-reader

    The Nintendo e-reader isn't what you think it is; it isn't a device for reading e-books. The truth is, I've just lured you here to read an article about an obscure peripheral for the Game Boy Advance by implying that Nintendo made a Kindle-style e-reader. E-readers are hot right now, aren't they? It's all Kindle-this and iBooks-that. I bet a Nintendo one would be lovely, all white and curvy like that Wii U tablet controller.

  15. Late night gaming

    Just as I have a specific type of game to play on a quiet, lazy Sunday morning, there are also games which I never feel right playing unless it's late at night.

  16. Jack Marston is a prick, but that’s probably ok

    The character of Jack Marston in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption doesn't compare favourably to his father, John Marston, but with a bit of mental squinting I came to the conclusion that this character-hobbling was not only deliberate but desirable as well. Spoilers follow for the ending of Red Dead.

  17. A few minutes with the Nintendo 3DS

    I only had a vague interest in the 3DS, having abandoned the DS platform some time back. Passing a shop that had a demo unit, I figured I should at least check it out. Could the much-vaunted glasses-free 3D effect bring me back to Nintendo handheld gaming? Spoiler alert! No.

  18. Metro 2033 is a double-hard bastard

    Based on the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter set in the Russian Metro after a nuclear holocaust has made the surface of the planet uninhabitable. I'm not big on first-person shooters -- I'm a lover, not a fighter -- but the subject matter of Metro appealed to me so I gave the game a go. Sadly the game proved to be -- for me, at least -- almost comically challenging.

  19. The morality of Fable III

    Fable III is not a game with many shades of gray. By and large, the decisions you face always have a heavily-signposted 'good' or 'evil' option with nothing in between. It's a cartoonish, black and white view of the world and the consequences are largely the same each time: pick the good option and the people will love you, but at a high economic cost which later translates to a high human cost. Pick the bad option and you'll be hated, but lives will be saved in the long run. It's a paternalistic perspective that treats the general population as children, who may lash out at being treated severely but ultimately aren't capable of seeing that it's for their own good.

  20. Edgar Wright and the videogame aesthetic

    The videogame film adaptation has a sorry history. Street Fighter; Super Mario Bros.; almost the entire filmography of Uwe Boll. That the barely-passable Tomb Raider with Angeline Jolie is generally seen as the pinnacle of the game to film transition speaks volumes.

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