Stuff I played in January. The Belated Edition
February 11, 2015

January started the same way December ended Ė with a small mountain of shoot-em-ups. It would be fair to suggest that the bug had bitten me, but it was assisted by the fact that people kept giving me games to review that fell within that genre. Hell, even as we speak Jasonís trying to get me to do another one. Curse you, Venter; Iím up eight reviews at time of writing this and youíre at one. Cover your own admittedly good review code!


The late-year rush of shooters included QP Shooting Dangerous, KAMUI and Zunou Seken Galg, two excellent doujin shooters and one early NES one that made a very real play at making me swear off the genre all together. KAMUI was the middle part of a trilogy that also consisted of RefleX (which I bought for a very ungrateful Canadian for Xmas) and ALLTYNEX Second, which I picked up. Taking Galg out of the conversation (and I really wish I could just as easily delete it from my life*) theyíre four of the finest scrollers Iíve ever played. Iíd struggle to put them in a preference order but suspect ALLTYNEX will always top the list.

I also sunk a lot of hours in Aeon Command, a simplistic sci-fi RTS/Tower Defense thing which is good enough to annoy me that the vs. scene is dead. Basically, you have your mothership on one side of a linear corridor of space, and the enemy sitting on the other side, and you try and amass a force to blow the other up. You canít just sit back and dump research into producing bigger craft or improving what you have though because it only takes a few seconds for the enemy to arrive on your doorstep. Itís a constant battle you have to try and stay on top of; watching one advanced fleet get destroyed then trying to put together a defensive one to fend of the victorious enemy coming your way in a matter of moments. Props to the tractor ship which saunter along with the rest of its fleet, then lassos a random enemy craft and casually drags it back to the mothership to be disposed of.

Aeon Command (PC) image

FTL finally got its review. The original plan was for it to be my final review to complete the 2014 alphamarathon, but I chose to get drunk and pass out instead. I regret nothing. Aside from the dozens of hours Iíve ploughed into FTL and my complete inability to beat the bloody thing on anything but easy mode. I play this in bubbles, having a crack at the campaign now and then for whatís supposed to be short burst that turn into multi hour slogs.

A big chunk of the month, though, went on the Supreme League of Patriots titles, a collection of three episodic releases with a bunched together release date that Jason tricked me into covering. Seriously (because I know youíre reading this, giggling behind your hands at my discomfort) maybe you should start these things with ďDo you want to cover this game? By the way, there are three of themĒ They turned out to be clever adventure games in the end with some pretty sharp writing, so no harm done in the long run I GUESS.

Did I mention that, a day earlier, he had given me Grey Goo, a large old-school RTS game that was certain to be a huge time sink? Maybe this is his version of an intervention. If Iím doing nothing but playing videogames and writing pretentious reviews about then, I canít pickle my liver in spirits or break my bones in sports. Goo reminds me a lot of early RTSs like C&C in that it doesnít much care about micromanagement; it just wants you to build a big dollop of bases and strategize from there. Itís also unforgivingly brutal and tempered with surprisingly high production values. And has a race of flat-faced gap-toothed aliens who have adorable little T-Rex arms and sport bizarre South African accents.

Between this, Iíve been giving Bully a real chance to grow on me, but the entire things still feels like busywork. The school classes range from enjoyable, timewasty and downright broken (shop class; looking at you) but are just there to kill time while your tiny protagonist takes on the schoolís cliques one by one until heís king of the pirates. Iím into the third chapter on time of writing and Iím still invested enough to keep going, but I can feel myself run out of momentum. Some of the missions are interesting, but a lot meld into each other. Bike race or run away from someone on a bike. Beat up X. Escort Y. There was a really cool one where you have to help a bunch of nerds escape a group of jocks through a funhouse by sabotaging rooms to knock out the pursuers, or stop them from doing the same to you. More of this -- less spending forever going from corner to corner of the bloody map in order to start a paper route.

Bully (PlayStation 2) image

I also played 4PM. I guess I wasnít getting enough arthouse in my diet, and this was a game Iíd been keeping an eye on for a while. I could have alternatively started this paragraph as -- I also played 4PM. I guess I hate myself. Itís very poor.

Found myself revisiting War of the Human Tanks almost randomly. It was a game I finished up and reviewed around the same time last year, and I felt like going back and fiddling about with it some more. I really like this game, it has a creeping morality that shouldnít be as depressing as it is when your cast is a bunch of hyper-colourful chibi characters with massive eyes and ever-present gormless smiles. Now that Iíve unlocked a lot of the top-tier tanks, I assumed going back and whittling down the challenging extra maps would be cake. It was not. Fucking cat armyÖ..

War of the Human Tanks (PC) image

(one day after writing this paragraphs, Jason turned up like a malevolent genie and offered me a review code for Human Tanks ALTeR.)

Whacked through The Wolf Among Us at the start of the month, playing a chapter a day, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. The fantasy-Noir setting is expertly made and the characters very well written. Because, yeah, Telltale. Itís almost a shame that Telltaleís newest raft of games hold no interest for me (not watched a minute of Game of Thrones thus far and Iím so done with Borderlands) because I'm going to miss having anything to fall back on. At least until the new Dreamfall is released. I'd forgotten Dreamfall was a thing and now I've cheered myself back up.

The Wolf Among Us (PC) image

Had a little dig at Blackguards, but I wasn't blown away. I might come back to it at some point; depends if anything else takes my fancy in rare pockets of free gaming time.

*As a reminder: Joe/Rob Ė you each owe me a review of an awful awful game. I shall give this thought.

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

honestgamer honestgamer - February 11, 2015 (01:35 PM)
because I know youíre reading this, giggling behind your hands at my discomfort

Ah, but can you prove it? I think not!
pickhut pickhut - February 11, 2015 (10:58 PM)
You know, of all the Telltale games released over the years based on existing properties, The Wolf Among Us is actually the first that made me want to check out the original source material. Seems like it would be a unique read. I... haven't done so yet, but it's the thought that counts!
overdrive overdrive - February 12, 2015 (10:16 AM)
Well, I'm midway through the sixth of eight characters in Nekkatu Taireku Burning Heroes (first two words may not be accurate), so when that's done, you'll have your review of an awful, awful game. And the joyful knowledge that I'm dead inside. Probably not this month, but next month in all likelihood.

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