Monthly Archives: November 2015

Backlog Adventures: Badland

The Sisyphean task of working through a backlog of yet-to-be-played videogames requires a certain amount of strategy.  There is, of course, the matter of playing all the games, but you also have to stop the backlog from growing.  Getting through Skyrim won’t do much for my backlog if I end up buying five other games in the interim.  So I have, for the most part, conditioned myself to ignore all those great deals on the dozens or hundreds of games that I’ve missed over the years, and to try to buy games one at a time, right before I play them.  Getting past – if not necessarily through – the backlog is going to require letting some of these games die on the vine, and that’s a lot easier when you don’t own the games in the first place.

One of the big exceptions, though, is indie games.  The market is overflowing right now with fun, quirky, unique indie games that can often be had pretty cheaply.  A lot of these games only take a few hours to get through, so it seems pretty harmless to stockpile a handful of them for a rainy day.  Or so I tell myself.  Taking advantage of a few deals on little indie games isn’t the same as grabbing a cheap copy of Mass Effect Trilogy is what I’m saying.  So when Badland: Game of the Year Edition (normally $11.99) went on sale for six bucks during an ID@Xbox Spotlight sale, I grabbed it and threw it on the pile.

Badland-016

Badland was first released in 2013 for iOS and Android (and then a year later for Windows Phone, as is tradition) and won Apple’s iPad Game of the Year award.  A GotY edition was then released in 2015 for various consoles and other platforms.  It only takes a quick look to understand the game’s appeal as an impulse purchase.  It has the kind of look that feels unique in a very familiar way, a cross between In Limbo and Ori and the Blind Forest, casting a silhouetted foreground against a colorful, painterly forested background.  It’s of a type that jumps out from a screenshot and promises a dose of adorable fun.  It references a lot of other games and styles that seem to pop up in every other indie game, but, on the other hand, its appeal is irresistible.  It is a puppy, basically.  It looks like all the other puppies, but it is a puppy, right in front of you! Continue reading Backlog Adventures: Badland

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Backlog Adventures: Skyrim

It’s 2015 and I’m only just playing Skyrim, that smash hit from 2011, for the first time.  How did this happen?  When I try to answer that question, the first thing I think of is Led Zeppelin.

My first exposure to rock music was through my dad’s record collection, so I ended up listening to a lot of the Beatles, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course, Led Zeppelin.  But then something happened.  I was in high school during the 90s, a time when the sixties were back in a big way and kids were listening to Zeppelin as if they were another Seattle grunge band; between that and Zeppelin’s ubiquity on rock radio, I got burned out.  I needed a break.  But somewhere along the way, my brain got confused and convinced me that I actually disliked Led Zeppelin.  So, for ten years or so, I just kept on not listening to them.  The hiatus became indefinite.  I would change the station when they came on the radio.  I didn’t buy any of their music on CD, that newly emerging music format.  I simply lived as a person who wasn’t at all into Zeppelin.

Fast forward to 2005.  My brother turned thirty that year, and for his birthday I made him a mix CD with a song from each year of his life – beginning with 1975, the year he was born, and the year Led Zeppelin released Physical Graffiti.  Listening to that album to decide what song to open the CD with, I realized something that I knew when I was 12 but had since forgotten: Zeppelin rocks!  Within days I had purchased the most recently remastered versions of their first six albums, and was making up for a lot of lost time on air drums and air guitar.  Order was restored to the universe.

Why did my brain come to the conclusion that I disliked Led Zeppelin when in reality I probably only needed a brief respite from them?  Could it do the same thing with pizza?  What else do I only think I don’t like?  I don’t know.  But this is what happened with Skyrim.  When people kept telling me, over and over, insistently and enthusiastically, that I should play Skyrim – that I needed to play Skyrim – I dismissed them.  Skyrim just wasn’t my type of game.  I wasn’t into that sort of thing.

Continue reading Backlog Adventures: Skyrim