Wednesday, September 26

That's no Humble Bundle, it's a space station!

Holy crap, guys. This new Humble Indie Bundle is off the chain. It is straight up rigoddamndonkulous. Torchlight, Space Pirates & Zombies (SPAZ), Shatter, Vessel and Rochard for a dollar (USD) is crazy, but manage just over six (the average price everyone pays, which can rise) and you also get Dustforce, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Gratuitous Space Battles, Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony and Wizorb PLUS original soundtracks for nine of the included games. That shit cray.

I will never get tired of using this image. NEVER!

Jamestown was one of the best games released in 2011, and easily the best shmup I've ever played. Torchlight is a solid, if not repetitive alternative to Diablo et al. I know I should do more than advertise deals that I otherwise would've avoided thanks to that whole Gamefast thing, but this is just amazing. Even beats a sub-thirty dollar copy of Borderlands 2 in my opinion.

You can take advantage of the silly deal by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 25

Grey Market Goodness

I probably should've told you guys earlier -- especially Borderlands 2 has since sold out -- but Turkey's greatest grey market website, CDKEYSHERE is dripping with value. On Saturday I picked up the aforementioned sequel to one of 2009's most overrated games in addition to the sleeper hit, Sleeping Dogs for under fifty bucks! No use of VPNs are required to redeem these codes either: just pop them into Steam and you're good.

It's my understanding that you shouldn't run into trouble if you use the region free codes. Having to use VPNs to bypass region restrictions -- which is a requirement for some of the codes that this site sells -- can potentially get your Steam account banned, so please exercise caution.

How did you get Sleeping Dogs for less than twenty bucks!?!

I haven't purchased any Origin keys at this point, and considering their product mix, I'm not likely to anytime soon. Maybe Medal of Honor: Warfighter will stir me to action? Are there any grey market sites that you can recommend?

Monday, September 24

Remember when games used to be about fun(doshi)?

I got a little bit excited last night in my attempt to defend Dead or Alive 5 at the expense of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. I assumed (incorrectly) that the packed-in code that redeems over a hundred bikins was to add to the wardrobes of women characters only. Upon watching my wife dress up characters of each gender, I discovered that most of the men now have access to the traditional Japanese undergarment, the fundoshi.

At first I thought this may have been means to level the playing field; for the men to be to be objectified. But then I noticed my wife's reaction. When she loaded up her arch-nemesis Dragunov with his freshly-downloaded, skimpy attire, I could hear the horror in her voice. He may have given Pumping Iron Arnie a run for his money in the muscle stakes, but the sex appeal wasn't there. The fundoshi, in this case, is an emphatic symbol of masculine dominance and power. 

A quick Wikipedia search informs me that men aren't normally embarrassed to don the fundoshi. It's worn on special occasions, it's a symbol of masculinity, to wear it often would be considered distasteful. The men are empowered by their swimsuits, can the same be said for the women?

Interestingly enough, the answer is: maybe. I was informed that playing as strong women dressed in outfits that my wife wouldn't normally think to wear can sometimes be empowering in its own right. This could potentially lend weight to some of the counter-arguments I saw for my piece on the Hitman: Absolution trailer that got promoted on Bitmob. Then again, Carls was quick to note that this revelation comes with two important caveats: it's only empowering if the player is a woman as well, and her opponent must be someone she is comfortable with. For a man to slap a revealing swimsuit on every woman in the expasnive cast, or dress them in some of the other (perhaps even more revealing) costume is tantamount to that same ogle I've decried and questioned on occasion. 

What do you think? Is it only objectification if we're using the male gaze? Maybe soon I'll get around to telling you how the game actually plays? Remember when games were just about the fun?

Sunday, September 23

Beware the delicate touch of the Sexy Octopus

Sometimes I think the Dead or Alive series gets a bad rap. Yes, it objectifies women in unrealistic and objectionable ways, but sometimes I feel as though the crimes of its fighting game brethren go unnoticed.

Case in point would be the recently released, Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The "ANZ Edition" comes packed with a  code to unlock one hundred and fifty bikins in which to decorate the women cast (Edit - There code unlocks swimsuits for most fighters: men and women). When taunting their opponents at the start of a fight, women supports will recline against the wall or usually pose in other suggestive ways. Then, of course, there's this costume for series' veteran, Anna Williams:

Now, for the knowledge of the court, tell us where did the Sexy Octopus touch you?

Don't get me wrong, there are some modest costumes available; but most of the ladies look as though they've picked up some of the more elaborate lingerie costumes from Victoria's Secret. The guys all seem to be wearing the typical, masculine attire that they've worn in each of the previous instalments. You could argue that there are some exceptions: Jin's faux fur-sleeved leather midriff jacket from Tekken 6 and the sports bra that Eddy Gordo's been trying to pull off since his first appearance in Tekken 3; but I think it's fair to say that the men are dressed for the purpose of power fantasy as opposed to objectification.

Maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better about still wanting to pick up Dead or Alive 5, or maybe the problem extends past the handiwork of Team Ninja? Either way, women are objectified even without the use of patented "breast physics" in the fighting game genre. The only question is: is this a deal-breaker for you?

Tuesday, September 18

Gamefast's inevitable outcome

Failure. It happened. We all knew it would. Thankfully, it came slightly later than I had expected.

It turns out that I lasted eight weeks and one day, beating my previous record (3 days) by a respectable margin. Just in case you were wondering what brought this endurance test to its end, know that the prospect of missing out on a premium, black Wii U provded too painful. I put my money down yesterday, so I won't be missing out.

I don't intend to go back to the affluent days of yore. Don't get me wrong, all bets are off now: the only thing to keep me in line is my own sense of fiscal responsibility and knowing that owning all of these games means squat if I don't have the time to play them.

I'm going to give this another go. Not anytime soon; probably at the beginning of next year. Can't imagine that I'd last all of 2013, but maybe we can beat eight weeks and one day next time!

Failure makes me a sad panda

Sunday, September 9

Gamefast update: 7 weeks down

For those of you who missed it, just shy of seven weeks ago I advised of my intent to not buy any game content until the next Steam sale. As of 9:52am this morning, I've officially lasted seven weeks without buying a single game or item of downloadable content.

There have been obstacles. As of four weeks ago, I started writing a weekly feature for Games are Evil (GrE) dubbed, The Vault where I explore under appreciated, underrated and otherwise forgotten games from previous generations of hardware. I'm making do with the classics in my collection for the moment, but the compulsion to spend up big on eBay is still there.


They (and by they, I mean the internet) say it takes between three to four weeks to break a habit, and I'd say that's about right. I still visit my old haunts -- the likes of Play Asia, ozgameshop, JB Hi-Fi, even EBGames if I'm desperate -- and I'm managing to walk away without too much trouble. That doesn't necessarily mean that I don't want to pick up any new releases, rather now they're not the only thing I think about.

I'd love to say that I'm proud of myself, but the last seven weeks have revealed that buying (lots of) games is a coping mechanism for me. Not being able to rely on that crutch and being unable to source another one has left me pretty stressed out. On the bright side, I've found myself reading more and -- perhaps more pertinently -- actually playing the games that I've accumulated over the last few years.

I've also been helped along by my wife's generosity. She thankfully and mercifully surprised me with a $50 PlayStation Network card a few weeks ago so that I could pick up the PlayStation classic, Alundra along with a throng of other games that haven't aged as gracefully. Tomb Raider for one would have to rank as one of the ugliest and most awkward games after being fondled by Father Time for more than fifteen years.


I only need to survive for another three months and then it's mission accomplished. The first real test lands next week in the form of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and it doesn't get much easier in the following weeks with Assassin's Creed III and Halo 4 also surfacing this year.

Wish me luck.

Dutch note: Call it shameless advertising, but I urge you all to head over to GrE to read The Vault at the very least. For a quick taste, here's what I've covered so far:
  • Vagrant Story: "While playing it again has been a pleasure, it’s almost jarring just how well Vagrant Story holds up in terms of art direction, technical prowess and combat mechanics. This is a game that not only deserves its place in The Vault, but pretty much demands you take action to acquire a copy, digital or otherwise. It may have been a critical success, but unfortunately, its innovative approach to combat and enemy encounters have failed to endure. If you’re getting tired of the grind and would rather see how the JRPG could’ve evolved into something more bearable, it’s time for you to discover (or revisit) Leá Monde."
  • Crusader: No Remorse: "Crusader: No Remorse would seem to have all the ingredients for an enduringly popular videogame, though sadly it seems to have successfully evaded the spotlight since release.  This has just as much violence and scores more weapons than your average brown and grey shooter, but the unusual perspective and divisive scripted sequences may have proved too much for the peanut gallery. If you like bombs, lasers, dance music and utter carnage, do yourself a favour and download this classic today."
  • Maximo Vs Army of Zin: "It may not be for everyone, but the charming visuals, frantic, combo-heavy combat and heart-in-mouth platforming sequences have helped Maximo Vs Army of Zin stand the test of time. It was never held in as high regard as some of Capcom’s other third person action games, but I’d argue that it’s just as enjoyable as the Devil May Crys and Viewtiful Joes that graced the previous generation of consoles. For those up to the challenge, I’d thoroughly recommend teaming up with Death to take on the mechanical hordes of Hawkmoor."
  • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap: "Even after more than twenty years, the storybook charm of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap can’t be underestimated. With a constantly-evolving protagonist and a cast of colorful enemies, it’s entirely possible that you’ll forget you’re grinding for gold when an enchanted forest or deep sea adventure serves as the backdrop for such a draining genre trope. It’s difficult, and repetition is key to experiencing all that’s on offer, but you simply must take up the quest to claim the Salamander Cross and restore Hu-Man’s luminous, green hair."

Sunday, September 2

Training Tales: The Lovers

I felt sick. I'd only been working in this new role for a few weeks and so much was already expected of me. This wasn't my first experience in middle management, but it was the first time since entering the workforce that I had felt legitimately challenged. Every role before now had followed a similar theme: overpaid, underworked and bored out of my brain. This was so different, I just wanted to tune out, but I was already thinking of tomorrow.

Now for the trip home. Two hours of maybe reading, more than likely playing games and battling motion sickness. "At least I get to work closer to home tomorrow," I thought to comfort myself. I exploded out of the office early, only to see my bus speed away over ten minutes before it should have. If I wanted to get home before dark, I'd need to improvise. With a little luck and a fair bit of backtracking, I was on my way home on the usual service, only two stops earlier.

My mind was racing far too quickly for me to engage with any text: videogame or otherwise. I would need to seek stimulus from my fellow passengers.

Like I said, I was feeling sick. Motion sick, sick with worry, all kinds of ill. My stomach lurched back and forth with the train, and it audibly gurgled throughout my journey. It was the usual afternoon mix: a lot of the same faces that were on the morning train mixed with young students yet to be relegated to a life of processing, data entry and broken dreams.

What I saw next would not help with my stomach's discontent, though it was oddly touching.

A couple, not apparent at first as they sat with one seat between them. They were both obese, with the woman having greater girth than the young man. Their faces were covered in pimples, and their skin grimy with a day's worth of city air. They wore bright colours and glanced at each other often.

Was I about to see love blossom between strangers, or had they run out of things to say to each other? It happens: spend enough time with someone and the language you share with them need not be explicit. My wife and I engage in thumb wars when we've run out of anecdotes or energy. What proceeded was no mere twiddling of appendages, it was an expression of affection that was (what I hope to be, at least) unique to this couple.

The young man, not happy to merely look at his supposed love, turned his head and burped towards her. She returned fire almost immediately. A volley of gastric mating calls errupted in the carriage. My fellow commuters looked just as stunned as I did, one even moving to cover the eyes of her young daughter. More problematic was the fact that the barrage seemed endless. I'm sure it only lasted a few minutes, but to me, on that day -- with my stomach lurching in time with the swaying train carriage -- it felt like I'd been watching this odd ritual for an eternity.

As the train pulled in to the lovers' stop, they rose in time and turned their heads to face each other and they smiled. The woman grabbed her partner's hand and they lumbered off the carriage. Those left in the lovers' wake shared knowing glares and collected themselves: there was still a while to travel.

Finally, it was my time to disembark. I raced up the stairs to meet my wife. I smiled at her and we shared a brief kiss. My stomach gave way to one last belch following the afternoon's distress, and I almost expected my partner to burp back.

"I've got to find another way home from work," I thought.