Monday, December 30, 2013

Steam Sale Nightmare.

So another year comes to an end and as a gamer this occasion is marked for me by the annual Steam Winter sale.

I love and hate any Steam sale because it means I'm going to be agonizing over the sheer number of games that I suddenly want in my game library. Even titles I normally wouldn't give a shit about become "must haves" just because they have suddenly become cheaper.

One thing that sort of throttles my impulsiveness is the fact that I don't own a credit card. So I have to email sales and wanted games to my friends who then buy it for and I either pay them later or more often then not pay them up front.

For the current Steam sale however I managed to put $50 USD into my Steam Wallet so I could buy the games I want without being a pain the ass to my friends. Other wise I'm calling people up early in the morning begging them to buy me something before the timer runs out. Regardless of it being an eight hour timer or twenty four hours, if a game I want goes on sales my fingers burn till I own it. But with the $50 USD limitation I have to be very careful about how I spend my money as my friends had allocated their own credit funds for the games they wanted.

So I had two rules which governed my buying decisions.

1. Only buy games that I would actually download and play. Not to buy anything just for "keep sake"

2. If I had to watch a review to convince myself of a purchase then I was better off not buying it.

This generally worked alright for me though there is still about five days left on the sale and I have about $16USD left in my wallet. Those five days of sales mean that there are about 45 daily deals, 45 flash sales and 15 community choice sales left. Now some of these will be repeats but still that is a lot of games.

I have 40 game son my wishlist. I use this list to determine if the purchase of a particular game is going to set me back any. For example if if see a game I want; I can ask myself "What would I rather spend on?" Then going through my wishlist I can see what else might be a potential buy worth holding out for. There are some games on the list like Injustice: Gods among us and Batman: Arkham Origins that will not be a reasonable Steam buy. Even at a fair reduction these games will still cost me about $40 to $60 Fijian. This would be sweet if these were the only games I bought but doing so stops me from buy more games at a cheaper price. One might argue that it could be quantity over quality that I'm striving for but a lot of the games that I have bought for less than $5 USD have already given me hours of enjoyment.

The first thing I bought was "Risk of Rain." This was a title that I had wanted for a while but paying full price for it in Fijian dollars just seemed a little bit much for me. I got it for $6.69 USD which was relatively the same price same as paying the normal price in USD ... kinda. Know what I mean?

The purchases that followed were also mostly indie titles. Super house of Dead Ninjas, Spelunky, La-Mulana. I also upgraded my Farcry 3 to the special edition for extra content whcih seemed reasonable and the only AAA title I bought was Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate edition. While most of these buys were done because they seemed like good games at a good price, Risk of Rain and Castlevania were two titles that I really REALLY wanted.

Last night though I did my first impulsive buy. I got the expansion for Titan Quest; a game that I've had in my library for god knows how long without ever playing it. But last night I also started playing Diablo 3 again and I was hungry for a dungeon crawler. Upon research I found that Titan Quest was very highly regarded and I figured if I was going to get into it... I was going to get into all the way. I broke my second rule.

I'm thankful that I didn't regret my decision but I have to be careful not to do something like that again. I got lucky with Titan Quest, I played it for the first time this morning and what started with just a "quick look" before work ended up with me playing for an hour and being late for work.

So now I have about $16 left.

I have no idea what to do with it. Now even the games I really want are being nit-picked on because I don't want to risk spending the money only to have something really awesome pop up on the final few days. But I also risk missing out on a great deal only to have nothing I want later on. Plus there is a cut off point to the minimum money I should hold onto. I'm sure anything less than $10 USD won't be much of a buy now since I've already bought all the good "Cheap" games.

I'd love to buy things like Hitman Absolution or Dungeons of the Endless. But that would reduce my Steam Wallet to nothing. If anything I tell myself that I'll pick these games up on the last day of the sale as the prices are valid till the 3rd of January.

But then there's things that I would love to own for the sake of the sale. Like the Bioshock collection or even the Legacy of Kain collection. I would actually download those Legacy of Kain games and play them. There's even Shinobi 3 which is a dollar something but I'm afraid to buy it because it might just put me under a game I wanna buy later.

Another part of me has sort of decided to just buy a bunch of DLC stuff and a few old titles on the final day if nothing else pops.

I'm not sure if you can tell from reading this but the Steam sale has been very agonizing for me. While some people wish for world peace and not to be sold as a child solider, I wish I could put in more money into my Steam wallet before the sale ends.

Am I just a greedy video game pig? I think I might be ...

But his is the Steam Sale... and this is my nightmare.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tiny Barbarian DX - For the Gamer in you

"I have zero interest in this game"

That is what one of friends said when he saw the gameplay videos for Tiny Barbarian DX. Which is totally cool because as a gamer I have come to terms with the idea that not every game is for everybody. Some people just don't like awesome things.

So who is Tiny Barbarian DX for?

Let  me take you back a bit. Growing up I never played Zelda and I wasn't crazy about Mario. I had "zero interest" in things like Finally Fantasy or Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger and the likes of. I played a shit load of Double Dragon and Castlevania. I had a cousin who owned a Sega and I spent hours at his place playing Splatterhouse. That game was a treat for me and it was even more special because I couldn't play it at home. And I played  a lot of Golden Axe and Argus no Senshi (published as Rygar in the west). Now those two games in particular, Tiny Barbarian is for people who loved those two games.

No complex story, no leveling up, nothing but jump and attack with movement. Just raw gameplay, but it was the gameplay that made them shine. So many hours of "just one more try, damn it just one more" as you slice your blade through skull and guts leaving a bloody trail of destruction on your quest. If Zelda is the Lord of the Rings of Video games then Golden Axe was the Chronicles of Conan. And that is the idea of Tiny Barbarian DX.

In fact before the DX version Tiny Barbarian was a free downloadable game loosely based on Robert Howard's classic Conan story "The Frost Giants Daughter"

The new game is an even bigger love letter to Conan. Before you even press start you find yourself at the top of what appears to be a massive tower surrounded by dark clouds and fire. Waves of enemies climb the towers steep walls to get their claws on you as you frantically swing your sword to survive.  Such imagery is iconic of everyone's favorite Cimmerian.

Eventually you are over come...

Then the "Start" menu fades in. This happens every time you load up the game and every time you last a little bit longer. This is the glimpse of the trial by fire that awaits you through out Tiny Barbarian DX. There is no tutorial, no direction; just instinct.

You know this game because you have played it before. Back during the dawn of the NES and SEGA systems when game design made you figure things out by playing for yourself.

This same thought and theory is tested when you fight the games bosses. I read some where once that a true game boss tests you on everything that you have learned up to that point and Tiny Barbarian DX never misses a beat to test whither you've been paying attention or not.

"Was that move you pulled to avoid that trap a fluke? Well lets see if you can do it again just to make sure"

As mentioned the game does nothing to hide it's inspiration not just from old school games but from the adventures of Conan as well. The opening scene sees our Tiny hero tied to a massive tree with vultures ready to pick him dry. This of course is a massive homage to one of the most memorable "Conan moments" as seen in the classic tale "A which shall be born" in which a beaten Conan is  nailed to a tree and left for dead. The whole scene plays out pretty much as it does in the story.

Nods to the character can be found all over the game. And the style of the enemies and locations have a very distinct "pulp fantasy" feel to them. It might all be obvious pixels but the art style made up of these pixels is awesome, but like the games of old they leave enough space for your imagination to bring them to life even more.

The animations are a treat to watch, with our hero in particular being a charm to play. Every jump and swing feels responsive and tight with death being a result of miss timing and not bad luck. The music is also a treat as your time on screen is scored as a grand adventure tightly packed into 8bit musical glory. You feel like a warrior as you smash your way through the game.

The gameplay itself is a mix of beat em up and platforming with minor environmental puzzles thrown in for good measure and you will find yourself dying a few times before "getting the hang" of a particular enemy pr area.

Michael Stearns who is the genius behind Tiny Barbarian DX plans to release episodic installments of the game with the first one already available. You do not have to pay for each episode though, they will become available upon release if you own the game. 

For fans of old school action and platforming (and Conan) Tiny Barbarian DX is a must have treat that will stir so much nostalgia in you that you'll feel like a kid again as you play through it.

Here's a video of me fighting the first boss :)

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