I’ve spent the week messaging strangers, and in a weird way, as the clock ticks down to my bronze medal, I’m going to miss them.
The past 15 months of having an hour commute by train bookending either side of my working day has left me with time to think, work, and grow an interest in mobile gaming; it’s not the only thing I do with the train-ride each day (this blog for instance comes from those hours) but it is in the mix. Prior to this, I had a certain disdain for mobile games, which I would defend as not entirely unfounded. I dislike intensely the concept of heavily monetised and ‘pay to win’ games which at first glance does seem to have infected the Google-play store to an almost suffocating level; as a side note, I’ve only ever seen one article supporting this type of monetisation which as written by someone employed to show developers how to best monetise their apps. Dig a little deeper however, and there are some titles worthy of the time and well suited to the, usually short, gaming injections that we can grab in those moments on the move. The ‘Go’ games (Hitman and Lara Craft), various mobile editions of popular boardgames, and ‘Star Realms’ (based on a physical card game) provide a swatch of the colours of things I’ve been enjoying.
I don’t pick sides on the console vs. PC battlefield; In recent years I’ve circled-twice and come to settle as a PC gamer through pursuing an interest in specific titles rather than any deeply held beliefs about a ‘one true path’. The arguments for the dominance of one side over the other are becoming less and less relevant as the two converge; Steam machines bringing the PC to the lounge and consoles with ever growing additional features have set each on a collision path with the other. There are some aspects that I miss about console gaming however; not having to worry about compatibility or drivers, no waiting for installation (on the older consoles at least) and the weird world of peripherals.
‘Light Guns’ are something that I’ve had lots of fun with over the years, and despite never quite delivering on the promise of bringing the arcade to your living room (or whatever similar slogan they wore), there was certainly a fascination with these clicking, rattling, temperamental pieces of plastic. Video games have always Harrison Ford-ed their way towards the Holy Grail of immersion; light-guns do this by creating a physical movement similar to the precision marksmanship that the player is carrying out on screen. Waving a piece of plastic around must have realised at least some of this immersion because light-guns have been a favourite ingredient in a console’s line-up for generations. Technology has moved on in recent console generations, so the idea of a dedicated light-gun has been superseded by the more generic motion controller (largely due to the success of the Wii), but rewinding firmly back to retro territory I’m going to ramble about three of my favourite home light-gun experiences.
For the second time in recent weeks my gaming has taken me to the forested wilderness of North America. I mentioned then that I have a particular soft-spot for the small towns and uninhabited regions of the U.S. which is apparent from my daily, borderline ritualistic, checking to see of Act 4 of ‘Kentucky Route Zero’ has been released*. This particular foray into that vista was provided by the recently released portion of Americana that is ‘The Flame in the Flood’ (TFITF). I had already sunk a fair tally of hours into it during early access and would like to congratulate the veteran team at ‘The Molasses Flood‘ for wielding that particular double-edged blade with a surprising amount of grace, using the experience to tweak the game balance whilst holding the attention the early-access audience. The final release saw the addition of the ‘Story Mode’ to the existing ‘Endless Mode’ which was a welcome addition and I decided to sail through the plot at least once before typing anything here.