Remember when I talked about how my Steam Library had just over 100 games? Well, now it’s got over 150 games. Will I ever learn? Probably not, so let’s go through some more games that I’ve actually gotten round to playing.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Yes, I’ve only just gotten round to playing the first modern XCOM game. Actually, it’s even worse than that: it’s the first time I’ve gotten round to playing any game set in the XCOM universe. I’d heard tales about the original 90’s games (UFO Defense and Terror From the Deep, for the uninitiated), namely how unrelentingly hard they were. Still, after watching Yahtzee and Gabe have a go, I figured it couldn’t be that bad.
After about three games, I’ve finally managed to get myself into a position where I haven’t doomed Earth to invasion by X-Rays, and I probably won’t have half the Council members pulling out by the end of the month. Probably. I shudder to think what my playing experience would be like if I was playing it on Classic Mode.
But XCOM: EU is the kind of challenge I enjoy. Nothing is insurmountable (provided you do enough save-scumming) and the only limit is your own intelligence and initiative. I haven’t finished it yet, but when I do I plan on moving onto the DLC Enemy Within and the much acclaimed mod Long War. When I do, you’ll be the first to know.
You Must Build A Boat
Small confession: I’ve only just played this, as I realised I could do something cute in this blog post (all will become clear soon… or if you scanned the tags). Anyway, this is a sequel to the hit match-3 game 10,000, which I finished some time ago. The game’s main draw is its minimalist approach; 8-bit pixel graphics, melodic yet simple chiptune soundtrack and a very straightforward plot (get more stuff so your boat becomes cooler).
If you’ve played any match-3 game before (Puzzle Quest, etc.) then there’s nothing especially new here. However, where the game really shines is in its frenetic pace – you have to match things up quickly, even if it’s not what you need right now, so you can keep in the game. And there’s a certain charm to the deliberately lo-fi presentation, enhanced by adding far more characters than the spartan presentation of 10,000.
This game is the opposite of XCOM, at least as far as this review is concerned; I have very find memories playing Logical Journey of The Zoombinis as a boy, as well as watching my best friend Alex play it on his PC. I had heard that a revamp was in the offing, and filled out the online questionnaire The Technical Education Research Centers (TERC) put together… and somehow managed to completely miss the boat on the Kickstarter campaign. Ah, well.
Anyway, fans of the original will be very glad to learn that the game still holds up today; the puzzles are as trying as ever, the audio is as fresh as it was back in the day, and the graphical update holds up… for the most part (most non-Zoombini characters have a bit of a herky-jerky animation to them, which I assume could be patched later on down the line). There’s even some in-game achievements, which I’m not that bothered about. Still, I imagine somebody cares about them.
In any case, TERC have done a very good job on making a 20 year old game still feel as fresh and relevant in the modern era of gaming, as well as proving there’s still a place for quality edutainment video games in today’s market. And make no mistake, this game does make you think. I’m nearly 30, and I’m still looking at Bubblewonder Abyss going “Now, if I put all the Zoombinis with yellow noses here, and alternate the ones with propellers and springs here…”