Sportsfriends

The game I’ve probably had the most fun playing this year has been TowerFall, and the main reason for that is because it’s just so damn fun to play it with friends in the same room. This means that even though I think it’s overpriced, I’ve already bought an extra PS4 controller, and truth be told, I’d really love to have 4 of them (donations are kindly accepted). So I was quite looking forward to Sportsfriends, a collection of mini-games that are all aimed at local multiplayer – you actually can’t play any of these alone. I had a chance to get some friends over last week to do an all-night session, and wow, did we ever have a lot of fun. The only slight complication was that one person in our group didn’t take long to master some of these, which meant that the rest of us were often struggling to bring him down. If you get it, make sure to input the secret codes that unlock 2 extra games – the Pong-like game with wobbly paddles is especially fun.

Heroes Within

As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, I really love all of the Star Wars tables that have been released for Zen Pinball 2 – especially to play on PS4, where they look amazing – and so I was pretty excited to get a new set of 4 tables, Heroes Within. What can I say, it’s another bunch of great tables that are fun as fuck, and as I’ve said before, I think these are the best Star Wars games getting released these days – there’s nothing else out there that reminds me how much I used to love this franchise. I especially love the Han Solo table – it has the Cantina music playing the whole time! And just a reminder that even though these are cross-buy, you need to buy them first on PS3 or Vita, and then import them to PS4 (if you just buy on PS4, you won’t have access to the PS3/Vita versions).

Castle of Illusion

The HD remake of this game was a recent offering on PS+ – I’m not sure if it’s still available – and I’m sure glad I gave it a whirl. Although I’m well aware of the original, I don’t think I had ever played it, and so never had any particular attachment to this. The first thing that really surprised me is how gorgeous this game really is, even on PS3. I was expecting something like the recent Ducktales remake, which looks fine if rather basic and flat, but here we have something that is quite lush, with a painted look and great use of shadows. The gameplay is nothing special, but I’ve always had a soft spot for platformers, and so I’ve had fun playing this, mostly to see what all of the levels look like. 

Child of Light

I was so incredibly excited to play this, based on all the media I had been seeing, and now that I’ve played it, I can’t help but feel like I’m not enjoying it as much as I should. I’ve admittedly only played a few hours (it’s apparently close to 12 hours long, which is pretty impressive for a $15 downloadable game), but I love the visuals, and also dig the combat – nothing too complex, turn-based, with a small real-time element that adds a bit of spice – but there’s just something missing, and I can’t quite place it. I’d say the story hasn’t really grabbed me, and maybe that’s because I haven’t put enough time in the game. I’m still really glad that a game like this got made – especially from a big company like Ubisoft – and do plan on playing more.

Stick it to the Man

This is the PS4 offering from PS+ this month, and I’ve been having a blast playing it (I think I’m almost done). It’s basically a modern take on the point-and-click adventure genre, and so the game is all about encountering characters and solving puzzles, which amount to you finding items, and then giving them to the proper character. What’s great – and weird – is how it plays. You manipulate the level by moving platformer style, but to interact with characters and things, you have a psychic tentacle floating out of your head. With this, you can read people’s minds – with the “thoughts” being voiced from your PS4 controller – and you also use it to pick things up, or even to swing up on hooks found throughout the levels. Add to this a cool illustrated aesthetic and some fun dialogue, and you get yourself a pretty great package. And hey, it’s fee, so there’s no reason not to try it at least.

Super Time Force

Holy shit is this game ever fun. I really wish I could have gone through the tutorial when I played it at BitSummit earlier this year, because at that time, I really couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was supposed to do, and it’s only now that I truly understand how this works: use time to back up to get new dudes to help your other dudes, to cover more ground, to power-up, and in the end, kick ass! I’ve only had a chance to play through the first few missions, but so far I really love how as I move through a level, it feels like I’m building a puzzle more than I am running-and-gunning. It’s also one of the first games in which I love watching the replay of my level run at the end – it feels really satisfying to see how all those “puzzle pieces” come together in allowing your traversal of the whole thing. Great mix of fun, pixelated graphics, and rad tunes. 

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

First of all, why the fuck did they have to put Jack Ryan in the title of the movie? James Bond: Skyfall would be just as dumb. But I do like seeing spy/international intrigue movies – which we don’t get much of – and so I was actually looking forward to watching this. I quite like the other Ryan movies, and although I don’t think this is better than the Ford ones or Red October, it’s probably better than the Affleck one (I honestly don’t remember much about that one, which is probably a sign I didn’t like it that much). There was some exciting stuff to watch here, and the cast is pretty good, except for Keira Knightley, whose American accent just always felt a bit off, and so it was distracting.

Penny Dreadful

I’ll preface this by saying that I love Eva Green, and so just the fact that she stars in this series was enough to get me interested. But hey, that first episode was pretty damn good. A good amount of scary/spooky/creepy, but with some fun action and heroics that reminded me a bit of Buffy. Timothy Dalton is another great reason to watch this, and that final reveal at the end of the first episode was enough to make me think, yeah, this may very well be a really fun show to watch.

The Clone Wars

A while back I decided to give the Clone Wars animated series a try, and now as I finish off the second season, I can say that I’m glad I did. Sure, I’m not at all a fan of the prequels, but I am excited for the upcoming Rebels animated series – that will take place between episodes 3 and 4 – and one thing I can say about Clone Wars is that it really is much, MUCH better than the prequels. I love the look of it – a perfect balance of cartoony and realism (well, fantastic realism) – and the stories are exciting, with great action, and some interesting multi-episode arcs that get pretty juicy within the “world” of Star Wars. Looking forward to working my way through the rest of the seasons.

Maron

I’m still a fan of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast – although these days I don’t listen to every episode like I used to – and I was quite happy when I heard that Maron (his show on IFC) had been renewed for a second season. The season opener was pretty great too, especially all the tension with Chris Hardwick. I expect I’ll end up enjoying this season as much as I did the first one.