Eliss Infinity

I still remember the original Eliss, and it being one of the first cool “art” style games to come out on iOS, as a sign of the truly amazing games we would eventually start seeing on the platform. Eliss is back, this time in the form of Eliss Infinity, and it’s just as fun and mesmerizing as before. The best thing about the sequel though is that you can now play properly on an iPad – playing on a larger screen really suits the game.

Threes

I’m pretty sure everyone is already playing this on iOS, and with reason. Everything about this game is stellar, from the art direction, animations, and sound effects, to the simple and addictive gameplay. Make 3s (duh) and then match them to create larger multiples. Pictured here is the highest score I’ve been able to get so far, which isn’t bad, but I have seen people I know share much higher, in the 10s and of thousands – and it’s pretty neat that when you share your score on Twitter, that’s the image that the game creates and shares.

Crimson Shroud

This is part of Level-5’s Guild series of downloadable games that have been coming out on 3DS, 6 or 7 of them so far (the first 4 were originally released together). The eShop currently has all of them on sale for $3, so I immediately jumped on Crimson Shroud, which I’d had my eye on for a while. What a neat game. It’s a light RPG that takes its influence from tabletop games, and that means not only are all of the characters and monsters portrayed as figurines, but you also go and roll a bunch of dice throughout the game. Being the board game geek that I am, it’s no surprise that I love this, but I think anyone would really get a kick out of the presentation and gameplay. I do plan on getting all of the Guild games, and can’t recommend enough Attack of the Friday Monsters, a game I loved to bits.

Steel Diver: Sub Wars

This is the new free-to-play game that was released by Nintendo the other day for 3DS, and from what I’ve played so far – basically, going through the training missions – I must say this is pretty fun. The controls are neat and easy to understand, and I liked hunting other subs and ships. Online multiplayer is where it’s supposed to really shine, and so I’ll have to see how that goes, but I’m pleasantly surprised by what I’ve experience so far.

SolForge

Speaking of great digital card games, another one I’ve been playing of late is SolForge, available for both iPad and iPhone. I believe this game was Kickstarted a while back, and it’s free-to-play, meaning you start with a couple of theme decks to play with, and then can buy more decks, packs of cards, etc. I’ve been playing for a while, and haven’t felt the urge to buy anything yet. It’s a style of play that I quite like, and it reminds me a lot of both Spectromancer and Kard Combat, two other card games I spent way too much playing – it’s the same idea of having lanes in which you place your creature in, and that creature automatically attacks the creature in the opposite space. Well worth checking out.

Hearthstone

I wrote a post last year about how much I thought Hearthstone was a great digital card game, but I hadn’t really put that much time into it. I’d unlocked all of the classes, and then sort of drifted on to other things (there are just so many good card games coming out these days in digital form). Since the game went into open beta recently, there’s been a lot of talk about it again – including from a few of my friends – and so last night I decided to go in again and play for a bit. Wow, talk about getting sucked in again, I’ve been putting in WAY too much time since then, both in ranked online games, and in the Arena, which is Hearthstone’s take on a limited format. I am loving this game so much, and have currently settled into playing a Warrior deck I quite like – and it’s still just made up of basic cards, nothing too crazy, as I’ve only opened a couple of extra packs. This is really dangerous.

House of Cards

Holy shit. This show is back, and it ain’t pulling any punches. I was very pleased to see how little time it took for me to remember why I enjoyed watching the first season so much. I’ve recently mentioned that I find Matthew McConaughey’s character in True Detective to be the most interesting one I’ve seen on TV in a while, and I think it’s safe to say that Frank Underwood comes in at second.

PressPause

Let’s make games together.

It’s no secret that I’ve loved the world of games all my life. I’ve even covered them professionally, with contributions to Wired‘s Game|Life, Kotaku, and 1UP, as well as my work with Brian Ashcraft on theArcade Mania book, about Japanese game centers.

But I’ve never made one.

A few years ago I came across this Artsy Game Incubator project that was happening in Toronto, and became interested in doing the same thing here in Tokyo. At the time, I even got in touch with the person behind it to ask permission to do it. I had even managed to find a programmer/developer who would teach the workshops, but then he decided to leave Japan, and things pretty much just died then.

About 1-2 years ago I brought this up again — probably as a question through social networks — and there was another game developer who showed interest (he worked more on the iOS side of things), but that fell through too.

Let’s do this. Again.

Recently I’ve been interested in experimenting with the Unity game engine — considering how far and wide it’s being used these days, with support coming from so many platforms. This got me thinking that it would be more interesting to learn how to do it by revisiting that workshop idea again — instead of just following tutorials all by my lonesome.

I always loved the idea behind the Artsy Game Incubator, of bringing in people who normally would never work on a game to try their hand at creating a simple one — sort of what I’ve been doing withPauseTalk, bringing people from different fields together, to talk about common ideas, problems, and solutions.

So, if you are a wiz at Unity, based in Tokyo, and would like to help non-programmers try to develop a simple game project over a period of weeks, please let me know. I already know a few other people who would be very interested in doing something like this, and I can get a space, and so now it’s just a matter of finding someone with the time and patience to lead us.

Oh, and in keeping with PauseTalk, I figure I’ll call it PressPause.

Update: PressPause has launched.

Super Mario 3D World

So yes, just over a week ago, I finally got my hands on a Nintendo Wii U (and big thanks to my friend who made that possible). Despite the dismal news on the health of the console, I always knew I would eventually get one, and was just being patient, waiting for the games that I absolutely wanted to play to come out. Well, when I saw Super Mario 3D World in action, I knew it was time, and playing through it has been an absolute joy – and it means I have to update yet again my list of “Favorite Media of 2013.” The thing with a Mario game is that while I’m playing, I have a big stupid grin on my face the whole time, due to the joyous gameplay, the music – which my wife actually occasionally dances to – and the colorful aesthetics and sound effects. I fell in love again with Mario games after I played Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS last year, and this love continues. And despite the guts of the Wii U being last-gen, it’s just amazing how good this game looks – unlike the feeling I get when playing PS3 games after spending time on my PS4. And yes, being able to continue playing on the tablet controller when my wife wants to watch TV is as practical as I thought it would be – sure, the screen is not that great, but it’s still incredible useful for someone like me. Lastly, my request to Nintendo: please release HD remakes of the 2 Super Mario Galaxy games, that I can play with a regular controller.

Outlast

Outlast is the latest free PS4 download we get through PlayStation Plus, and I was quite looking forward to trying it out. The one thing that had me worried though was how long I’d last, considering I sometimes have a hard time playing game that stress me out (stuff like Condemned, Dead Space, etc.) So far, I have jumped a few times, and it’s getting to a point where I’m just wondering how much fun I’m really having. But I do quite like that it’s not a shooter – you don’t fight (for the most part), and instead run and hide. And the fact that you’re walking around looking through a camera – and often using it in low-light mode – adds to the creepiness. I’m not done with it yet, but not sure if I’ll be able to play it to completion.