Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween everyone!

I'm not one for being scared. My nerves are already wound tight enough and though, being scared can sometimes be a fun experience, I have to whole-heartedly disagree. Halloween can be a good time to play some scary video games but here a handful of games that might have found their way into my hands, but I haven't been able to bring myself to finish.

Eternal Darkness. Developer Silicon Knights really broke the mold when they made this one. Eternal Darkness doesn't play like any game before, breaking the "fourth-wall" of video games to scare you to your gamer core. While I've managed to play with the lights off through about the fourth chapter, I recently tried to play again, starting from the beginning. I think I made it into a handful of rooms in the mansion before I had to put it away. Eternal Darkness even starts off with a bang, thrusting you into a dream before pulling the veil back on the lead character and introducing some of the more psychological, mysterious, and unnerving elements in the game. Eternal Darkness is easily my favorite "scary" game.

Super Mario 64. You may laugh, but goddam was I terrified of Bowser. I would relegate myself to the bomb-omb battlefield for hours at a time before I faced him in the castle's main chamber. And why do the Boos scare me so badly? Even to this day, I'll avoid the haunted mansion world for as long as I possibly can. Part of my fear surrounding Super Mario 64 was how hard it was for me to wrap my hands around some of the challenges. I couldn't stand to see Mario drowning in the quicksand around the pyramid, or rolling over in the murky water.

Killer 7. Killer 7 might not be considered a scary game by some, but for me, it was the atmosphere, the visuals, the overall creepiness that had me weirded out. How is it possible to play through two discs of this stuff? Some day, I'll grow a pair and manage to get through a large chunk of it and then force myself to finish. Until then, Killer 7 will sit around in my game bag for a while.

Resident Evil 4. Luckily for me, I actually managed to get through a lot of Resident Evil 4, despite the fact that it was mostly a panicked run, my sweaty palms barely able to contain the controller in my fists. It's not scary so much as it is tense, atmospheric, and diabolically difficult. Goddam that boulder crushing me because I couldn't tap A or jam L+R fast enough.

See, I told you I don't play scary games. If I did, the list would be longer.

Halo Waypoint makes itself worth it with Avatar RewardsWhile I ma

While I may be out of "the office" this weekend for Halloween, it doens't mean I can't keep up on the news, despite the news being available right on my Xbox! Yesterday, Kotaku posted video tour of the newest addition to your 360's dashboard and apparently there are Avatar Rewards to be had from the free content.

Halo Waypoint is your destination for everything Halo on the Xbox 360, kind of like, but not on your computer and accessible before you head in to any given Halo game. While at first I questioned the worth of Halo Waypoint, I'll question no more. Anything that gives players free content (even in the form of Avatar stuff) is alright with me. Here's a picture of a guilty spark avatar reward. How much space is any given avatar going to be allowed on screen? Seems like all of this extra stuff would take up a long of screen real estate.

That feeling spreads across a lot of things that the 360 dashboard has found itself privy to, starting with 1 vs 100 and moving on to Halo Waypoint and the Football toss minigame. I hope the free content will continue to come in order to make up for the fact that Live users have to pay for their online service. Being a silver user at the moment, I can say that I definitely feel like I'm missing out.

Modern Game Marketing - Epic Mickey's epic atmosphere spreads to comics etc

As more and more Epic Mickey details pour out, so does word of the Epic Marketing Campaign that'll go with it.

Kotaku reported Thursday that designer and cool-last-name-having-guy Warren Spector is going to continue "beating on that drum." What drum is he talking about? The drum of marketing (of course!) and taking a product and selling it across as many different products as can carry that product. In this case, you'll see Mickey tear across a dark landscape of T-shirts, coffee mugs, beanie babies and of course, big-screen adaptations. Who wouldn't want to see a good thing run into the ground?

It might be too soon to talk about good things though, especially because Epic Mickey is still a long way out. The Game Informer cover has come and gone (but we know how "cheaply" those things are considered), but a lot of the things you see about Epic Mickey remain in the conceptual stages.

Let us not forget that this is a third-party Wii game we're talking about. I don't mean to be such a detractor and suggest that Epic Mickey won't sell through mini-game compilation numbers, but I think the gaming public and the general public who will certainly have Epic Mickey forced down their throats in numerous ads, sponsorships, and general news media coverage should consider Epic Mickey with a grain of salt. It takes a lot more than a great idea to get the game out the door and it takes even more for the masses to latch onto that game and make it a seller into the sixth figure.

With Disney's burgeoning game's division, it's looking-good purchase of Marvel, and the usual marketing machine behind it, I'm sure we'll see Epic Mickey in at least two mediums come release.

Modern Game Marketing is a series on how new games, and the corporations behind them, get you to want them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

An assignment I couldn't complete...

In class the other day, a classmate was relating to another that they had to "level up to 10" for homework that night. They were lamenting the fact that they were being required to invest time in World of Warcraft for their digital arts class.

Apparently, in an attempt to justify the digital world (in this case, the "world" of Warcraft) as an art form, the professor charged each student with creating an in-game character and completing the tasks required to get that character to level 10.

Sure, this sounded interesting enough, especially when I thought back to the "A Life Well Wasted" where a Stanford program was in the business of recording the ends of digital worlds. Despite all that interest though, I could never bring myself to World of Warcraft, and if a professor were up front about such an assignment, I probably would have dropped the class at the beginning of the semester. I don't think grinding should EVER be part of any curriculum. I don't want to do it in my games and I don't want to do it in my academic career.

While I wish my fellow student luck in his grinding and grading, I don't envy that assignment at all.

DSi LL is Living Large

Are you glad you didn't rush out to buy that DSi just yet? Did you stick with your DS Lite, thinking that there'd be another iteration of the popular handheld out eventually?

Turns out you were right! Yesterday, Nintendo announced another cosmetic upgrade to the dual-screened mobile platform, this time calling it the Nintendo DSi LL. Announced at a Press Event in Japan today, the DSi LL sports a 4.2 inch screen and comes with two styli, including a larger pen-sized stylus.

The new unit will come in three new colors, including Wine Red (ooh fancy!) and be preloaded with two Brain Training DSiware games and a the DS Easy Dictionary.

Reportedly, the pixels are the same in the screens, but due to the larger size, everything will be much easier to read. It seems to me like this edition of the DSi will sit alongside it, not replace it. The DSi LL could be pointed at the older market, or even more so as a personal device for more professional environments, like school or work. While this makes a lot of sense, I don't know how much of a market there is to be had, what with cell phones taking the place of so many personal organizers and the like.

The DSi LL could also be seen as a means by which Nintendo will be able to sell a DS to EVERYONE (something they have been striving for since the inception of the DS Lite).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bayonetta will be out in America on January 5th

Bayonetta's release in Japan might have a few people itching to order and shell out for shipping and handling, but maybe it'd be a better idea to sit tight and wait until January 5th, which just happens to be the game's NA release date.

PLAY READ WRITE got it's hands on the E3 build of Bayonetta back at... ummm, E3 (weird how that works). While there's been lots of talk about the discrepencies between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, one thing is for sure: Platinum Games knows how to build a beat-em-up. Either way, if you enjoy Devil May Cry, you can be sure you'll get a kick out of Bayonetta.

While the gameplay is really the star here, beware. With the game out in Japan and region-free copies available on the PS3, Bayonetta can be spoiled, so be mindful of what you click on!

REVIEW: Underworlds for the iPhone

Underworlds is a hack and slash game for the iPhone that accomplishes a lot despite the diminutive size and stature of the platform it's on. While you might not think of very deep experiences when you consider iPhone games, but Underworlds does a great deal to combat that stereotype.

Of course you'll have start by slaying rats in a basement, but the action quickly ramps up to extensive dungeon crawls and lots of evil skeleton bodies lying around. The looting also lends a large hand to the motivation behind you as a player. I sometimes run into points of RPGs and deep experience games where I just don't know why I'm still playing with nothing particularly exciting or exhilarating going on.

How many times will I have to traverse the world map before I find the enemy or shrine I'm looking for? Luckily, Underwolds does away with that feeling by including quick quests and short distances between where you are assigned a task and where you'll find that task's conclusion.

While I did find some frustration in a handful of battles I didn't seem to have enough health potions for, I will say that overall developer Pixel Mine did a great job of making sure that the difficulty doesn't ramp up faster than your characters leveling. Experience is always trackable on the bottom screen so you'll know how many monsters you have left until you have more skill points to spread around.

Speaking of skill points in fact, Underworlds maintains a fair amount of depth in it's system,
with different character classes and specific characteristics to level up, the players character can end up as one thing or another depending on how you play the game.

While the animations can be a little slow and the action can chug when there are a lot of enemies on screen, there's very little, graphically, to complain about. Ultimately you're getting an experience that's deeper than even arcade-classic Gauntlet (minus the multiplayer) that you can fit in your pocket for only $2.99.

I've saved my highest praise for last, because well, this was really a game-making bullet point for me. The inclusion of HUD buttons for your potions literally made the game for me. You don't have to pause the action on screen, you don't have to die because you couldn't use another potion fast enough, and you don't have to look far for your HP gauge. It's on the screen already! That shows a fair amount of consideration for the player from Pixel Mine.

You can download Underworlds from the App Store for you iPhone or iPod Touch. It requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gamasutra looks at Gamerscore

And what do they find?

Well firstly, completing a game's campaign does not necessarily mean getting 1000 out of 1000 achievement points.... Duh!

No, seriously though, Gamasutra's article on the average completion rates for Xbox Live's gamers is actually pretty interesting. Conceptually, the statistics speak volumes about the way we play games in this day and age.

While getting 100% of the possible achievement points is certainly a good way of knowing that you've gotten everything out of your $60 game, does the average gamer consider that "beating" the game? I know that I don't. Why should players force themselves to play the most boring, menial, laborious tasks a game can throw at them, just for the achievement points? I've set myself up for that kind of situation before, notably with last year's Prince of Persia title and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Both of those games were highly enjoyable, but when each glitch achievements on me, I just don't see the point of playing through all over again just because the hardest difficulty wasn't available on the first go around, or because I had to ask Elika to save me too many times.

But enough about me! What about other Xbox Live gamers? As it turns out, the smallish survey group Gamasutra is working with (straight from Microsoft) is "more hardcore" than most Xbox Live gamers and even that group has only 80% of its members having gotten every achievement available for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Doesn't that make the rest of us not look as bad?

OK, more about me: to put all this gamerscore talk in perspective, I present my overall gamerscore. I have achieved 9880 gamer points, but that's out of a possible 33595 points! Doesn't it seem like a drop in the bucket? Certainly there are plenty of games I haven't finished, or even earned half of the possible achievement points in, but am I a bad gamer?

I'd say no. Looking at the statistics Gamasutra has posted, it turns out I should feel pretty good about my 1000 out of 1000 on CoD4. While over 70% of surveyed players had completed the campaign in CoD4, only about 45% of players had gotten 1000 out of 1000. When all is said and done, gamerscore and achievement points prey on the suffering OCD gamer in us all. I don't think any of us should "feel pretty good" about getting 1000 out of 1000 in anything.

Avatar rewards for L4D2 on 360

Apparently, someone over on the Steam forums has dug through the bare naked code of Left 4 Dead 2. Doesn't that make you feel dirty? Someone has seen the game naked!

What's interestingly come from such sleuthing, is the hint that there'll be Avatar rewards for some achievements in L4D2. You'll be able to outfit you Xbox Live Avatar with items like the Med Kit or the Frying Pan. It's a neat way to show off what you've done in a game, and Avatar rewards are certainly more upfront that achievements (forget all that reading no one wants to do).

My question is this: Do Avatar rewards justify a purchase of Left 4 Dead 2 on 360 instead of PC? I just don't know how to justify buying a Valve-developed and published game on a console instead of PC, seeing as how PC has always proven to be the lead platform for Valve.

Personally, unless I find out that I won't be able to run L4D2 on my computer, I probably won't be enticed by Avatar rewards.

Even Miyamoto wants more Star Fox

MTV's Multiplayer blog published a clip from Miyamoto:
"I tend to forget those games [laughs]. I'm a big fan of the 'Star Fox' games. Every time we make a 'Star Fox' game I'm hoping people will enjoy it as much as I do. Of course the goal every time is to try and make it more and more fun but, at least in Japan, the people that purchase the 'Star Fox' games has decreased over the years. But we still try to make them more fun and hopefully people will see the appeal in those games."
PLAY READ WRITE can't help but agree. You may know (if you're a semi-regular reader) just how much Star Fox 64 means to me. It was a favorite of my past and a favorite of my present. Honestly, I have such high praise for Star Fox 64 that I sometimes think it's unfair to write critically about it. Everything from the branching path, all-range mode combat, and colorful characters just make me fall in love every time I play the game.

In fact, since there is currently no more Star Fox on the way, I'll just have to hop back on to Star Fox 64 and pretend that it's a new game. See you guys later.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

iPhone games, surprisingly fun

While I'm new to the iPhone review business (see The iPhone App Review), I'm finding myself pleasantly surprised by some of the apps I've been charged with reviewing.

I've already written about Doodle Jump, but new comer Spin Crazy has piqued my interest and I've only played for about 6 minutes. I get this feeling from apps that can be read as either "I'm going to play this one a lot," or "I'm done already."

Some of that may be a matter of personal opinion. In other words: I'm not into RPGs all that much so am I really going to enjoy an iPhone RPG? Or: I like puzzle games and a mobile platform is perfect for puzzle games.

Enter Spin Crazy. I'll be playing this one for a review at The iPhone App Review. I'll be sure to let you know when it goes live.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bastion promotional code Giveaway!

Since the League of Legends Beta has been blown wide open for players everywhere, it might be time to end PLAY READ WRITE's beta key giveaway. Sadly, I received no entries... at all.

Shocking? Not quite. In a way, I half suspected it. Such is the life of a fledgling blogger. I'm sure I could generate more readers elsewhere or in some way, but PLAY READ WRITE is more about writing for me, and less for everyone else.

That being said, I do like to reward people who do some to the site, look around, read a handful of posts and generally leave with good feelings. Thus, I'm going to start another giveaway in the hopes that I'll be able to continually offer a reward for people who have any constructive thoughts on the general direction PLAY READ WRITE is taking.

Luckily, after reviewing Bastion, developer Chad Townes, was nice enough to hand me a fistful of promotional codes to give away to readers! Please e-mail me at and just drop me a line of criticism (constructive please!) or any ideas or questions you might have. Literally, anything you send me will probably get you a promo code, so just send away!

Third Person view coming to MW2?

While the above video does show a third person mode for Modern Warfare 2, much of the internet has wasted no time in calling foul. Of course there are plenty of gamers out there who've logged too many hours to be counted in CoD4: MW. How could a third person view not offend them?

Of course the biggest release of the holiday season is going to have a handful of surprises getting out the door, but how will any of them manage to stay under wraps until the actual release when leaked copies scrabble out the door somewhere in Europe?

Activision and Infinity Ward might have some explaining to do, but does anyone really think they'll be doing it until their PR machine can rev up. More to come....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Assassin's Creed 2's Achievements

The Assassin's Creed 2 achievements have found their way to the internet. You can see them over at They seem to be fulfilling quite a bit of promise, with hints at some of the variety Ubisoft Montreal has brought to the elements already well established in AC I. There are a handful of achievements I can't help but take particular interest in:

Art Connoisseur: Buy a painting from Florence and Venice. 10g. Ubisoft Montreal obviously takes a lot of consideration in their setting, story and content. I guess it's just natural that they'd want to include some of the art of the time. What pieces will we see?

Steal Home: Win a race against thieves! 10g. I like the idea of side-mission variation as much as I like the idea of main-mission variation and races can certainly fit into the world of AC.

Doctor: Perform an Air Assassination on a Poisoned NPC. 20g. I like achievements like these a lot because their easy to do, they sound like they're easy to do, but they only end up taking a handful of tries before you eventually get it right. Not like that goddam Mile High Club achievement.

What AC II achievements interest you?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Does ice need Tetris to be cool?

Jenna found these ice trays that don't just make cubes of ice, but everything you'd need to play Tetris in your favorite beverage.

While I'm sure you could probably stack up a high score with the Tetris ice-blocks you make, it'd take a while for a complete line to melt away. Lately I've seen a bunch of themed ice trays, including denture molds. Wouldn't that be creepy?

I don't know if I've blogged about them before, but which do you prefer? The Tetris Ice Tray or the Space Invaders Ice Tray?

REVIEW: Occurro! for the iPhone

Occurro! is a fun and tightly designed twin stick shooter for the iPhone from developer Acceleroto. Taking inspiration from other shooters who've blazed the way for twin stick controls, Acceleroto has neatly tidied up the formula so that gamers on the iPhone will get a fitting experience, instead of one that could confuse, frustrate, or crash.

I've played Occurro! for several hours, from bus rides, to breaks between classes, and even spare time in between. I may not score the highest, but I think I have a good understanding of how the game is different from the rest in the genre, and what it has going for it above others.

Obviously, the first thing a gamer might notice about Occurro! is that it has been heavily influenced by Geometry Wars. Of course, that's not a bad comparison to draw for an iPhone game, especially because of the caliber of game that Geometry Wars represents.

As far as aesthetics go, Occurro! is very sharp, colorful, and fast. The frames keep a high pace, and each sprite is bright and bouncy. Enemies are noticeably different, threatening, and have lots of personality. The scoring counter, life counter, and bomb counter are all clear and readable, and being on a small platform, that sort of things just has to be right straight away. If I had to pick one thing out about Occurro!'s graphics, I would say that I love the tail that trails behind the player's ship. It dangles and drags, lengthens when the player speeds along, and draws in behind when the player slows down. It's probably the one thing that you could hang Occurro!'s charming and bright graphical personality on.

Just because the game is pretty, doesn't mean it doesn't everything else going on. Notably, the controls are tight and responsive. While sometimes, I'd have trouble because a bomb would deploy when I was really only picking up my thumb and putting it back down, that occurrence was rare and everything else played perfectly.

I think the most important thing that Occurro! does well is the gameplay. When you take an intense, graphically demanding, fast-paced gameplay style and put it on a mobile platform like the iPhone, it just has to work out right. While devs Acceleroto have kept the speed, immediacy, and challenge of the twin stick shooter, they've made adjustments in the gameplay elsewhere to make sure that nothing is broken, or too difficult for the player. This balance has been worked out in the enemy types, spawning rates, and health. If an enemy takes more than two hits to take down, Acceleroto made sure they moved a little slower. If an enemy is smart and dodges shots, then Acceleroto made sure that the player can outsmart it and corner it.

What does this all add up to? Basically, you're not going to get sick of Occurro! You're not going to get bored either. The challenge is perched just right and encourages you to play more and try to get better. The fact that game is really pretty doesn't hurt either. Pick up Occurro! on the App store today. It goes for a measly $0.99 and requires the iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later. You can play it on your iPhone or iPod Touch.


Monday, October 19, 2009


No APB playtimes and no Super Mario 64 today, but I did play Mario Kart and Pokemon Stadium with Jenna and my friend Matt Baltar. It was fun gathering around with a controller each. I only have two controller for my Xbox 360 and two for my Gamecube, but when people are over, the Nintendo 64 is much more accessible anyways... might as well keep the controllers plugged in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


More Super Mario 64 today, and even a little APB! It was fun, but after checking the NDA, I'm not allowed to say very much at all. That being said, read this stuff!
Don't forget to enter PLAY READ WRITE's League of Legends Beta Key Giveaway!

Checking in on Super Mario 64

Jenna and I have played for about 10 hours collectively over the past two days. We've been on a steady pace, handing the controller back and forth. The nice thing about sharing the game between the two of us is that neither of us has to play anything we don't want to. Is it too challenging? Can't figure it out? Don't want to play? Do you like a particular star?

We've been cruising through at a brisk pace and while we cleared all of the stars in Bomb-omb Battlefield and Whomp's Fortress, we only cleared a handful of stars in Cool Cool Mountain and Jolly Roger Bay.

I defeated the first Bowser stage today and Jenna and I made our way to the basement where we earned a few more stars, including catching the bunny (which I had never managed to do when I was younger).

Playing through again has shown me how little the camera controls needed to properly operate in order for them to be called "revolutionary." Sure, at the time, it probably made things a lot easier, but I was really only getting more and more frustrated. My controller stick was giving me difficulties as well. Besides that, Jenna said I was acting like a hot shot and that's why I kept falling off of levels.

We're probably going to keep playing over the next couple of days and then again next weekend. More updates to follow!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brian Ashcraft: Writer, Gamer, Kotaku's nighttime guardian.

I started blogging on a daily basis last year and made a goal of contacting and talking to at least three editors, writers, journalists in the games industry and asking them questions about their career. Over the past week Kotaku underwent a massive overhaul of the comments system and I got a chance to speak with Editor Brian Ashcraft about the site and how he found himself there.

Ashcraft started gaming at an early age with an Atari 2600.

"We had an Odyssey at home as well and a Pong set. I have vivid memories of getting an NES for Christmas at age six or seven and beating Kung Fu."

Ashcraft went to Cornell after studying Art History and moved to Japan on a whim. "I always liked Japanese games, movies, music. It was hard for the first couple of years because I didn't speak or read any Japanese."

"Writing for Wired helped a lot! I owe a great deal to the editors there for giving me an opportunity to write and even do features. It was like journalism school for me, but I got paid." Ashcraft started writing for Wired magazine after his move and his work there led to a recommendation at Gawker Media, Kotaku's parent company in 2005.

"I find it myself and pitch it to my editor. If the mag likes it, I write a story. If not, I don't. Balancing Wired and Kotaku isn't so impossible. Balancing a new book on Japanese schoolgirls, a family, Wired and Kotaku? That can be challenging at times," Ashcraft said when speaking about creating content for all of his writing endeavors. "People forget that we produce so much content every day [at Kotaku] -- 12 posts plus reviews, original pieces and features. So busy! But I love it."

Ashcraft recently published Arcade Mania, a book about Japanese arcades. I asked him about that process: "It was rough -- wife was going through a difficult pregnancy and I was trying to take care of her and my son. Favorite part was interviewing people. I love interviewing people, picking their brains, learning stuff."

Ashcraft has been playing a lot of Battlefield 1943 and says that he's been looking forward to "Uncharted 2, Peace Walker and FFXIII!" He says he prefers interviewing interesting developers, with no preference between Japanese and Western developers, and that "Perhaps Japanese developers need to focus on current gen game engines [in order to regain some of their dominance? I don't think there is an easy answer."

While Ashcraft doesn't have a preference for a genre of games. "I like mostly anything -- anything that's good. I like Japanese rpgs, and I like Western ones. Ditto for action games. I like *good* games, *fun* games." As far as some of gaming's current issues, Ashcraft had this to say about motion controls: "I'm interested in seeing how Natal does as it could shake things up if it lives up to its promises. Also, I'm curious to see if the PS3 wand controls lead to more multi-plat PS3 and Wii games."

And for those aspiring for a job in game journalism, Ashcraft says "If you read Kotaku, many thanks! For future journalists, write, write and write some more. And please don't be boring!"

Thanks for answering my questions and keep up the great work Bash!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Jenna and I started playing through Super Mario 64 yesterday. The action only consisted of getting one star, but Jenna got our first star and did it without any coaching! I'm excited to see her take on some of the other SM64 challenges, and I'm excited to see what I can do with stars that were too challenging for me as a child.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I had a quick e-mail exchange with Brian Ashcraft from Kotaku today. He was nice enough to answer some questions after the big commenting update today. I'll be putting it up on the web sometime tomorrow after thanking him again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Here's some stuff to read and see, hence... it's FURTHER READING.

REVIEW: Bastion for the iPhone

Bastion is an iPhone app from developer Chad Townes. It combines elements of tower defense, arcade shooting, strategy, and even a little twist of tetris. What comes out of all that is a tight, challenging app that'll entertain for a handful of hours.

There are two modes: Conquer and Survival. While the premise is largely the same across both modes, there is small nuance in the challenge each thows at you.

Conquer arranges the map in a more traditional tower defense layout. To the right is your land, armories and towers while enemies flood in from the left. In Bastion, enemies take the form of ships. Some ships are smaller and faster and take less hits to destroy and the other end of the spectrum has large ships that move slower and take more damage. The largest ships also spawn small landing boats that poor small people on to your land. While the boats fire on your towers, the people do damage too so you have to defend near and far.

Bastion's biggest gameplay twist is that it gives you control over targeting the cannons of your towers. You scroll the target around ad fire with an icon in the lower right corner. This gives you more direct control which is empowering, but when you fail and miss hitting the moving targets it can be frustrating.

The difference in Survival is that it puts your armaments on an island and surrounds you with enemies. Instead of the difficulty ramping up gradually it thrusts you among many ships all at once.

Bastion allows for three profiles so you can save three games or allow a friend to start their own game. It also has a pretty thorough tutorial so even if my review didn't do the gameplay justice, you'll have a helping hand before starting play.

I've tried several different strategies, including buffing the attack power of my towers, building several weaker towers, or spending the money earned from downed enemies on the power up weapons in the armory. Each try was successful in different ways but there's no magic trick to beating the game.

Bastion is a fun, cheap title that provides a hefty amount of fun with sharp graphics and responsive controls. I would recommend the game to everyone who wants an app that they can spend a lot of time with. It's challenging and I found myself restarting after getting a game over around level 1:11 in Conquer mode.


I got into the APB Beta!

I'll be sure to hop online later today and try it out, but I'm very excited to have gotten into the APB Beta! Who doesn't love free gaming? Who doesn't love free gaming ahead of everyone else? Who doesn't love playing a game infested with terrible bugs and glitches? ...Uhhh no one?

Anyways, despite the prospect of playing a game that isn't anywhere near finished yet (it's an MMO beta for god's sake...), I'm still very interested in All Points Bulletin and what the experience amounts to. While I haven't done a lot of talking about League of Legends, I'll have to read through the NDA on this beta because I have a feeling I'm going to want to talk about it.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Lots of exciting news lately, but not enough time to post it all! Don't worry, I've already written a lot of it up. You'll start seeing stuff as early as tomorrow morning (woah, am I talking from the future about the present while posting in the past? What?).

Monday, October 12, 2009


I guess I didn't get to go to that super secret Dark Void event, but eh, what're you going to do. The internet is always a good way to find out about things later anyways. In fact, that's exactly what FURTHER READING is for!

League of Legends Beta Giveaway!

Having been a semi-active member of the League of Legends Beta for several weeks now, I'm entitled to some pretty nice perks. In this case, that includes 5 invites to the Beta.

I know that this site doesn't have the biggest or most frequent readership, but I'd like to reward those that stumble upon and can bother themselves to pay attention to the text in front of them. That being said, here's the first ever PLAY READ WRITE contest:


The rules are simple. E-mail me at with the subject of "League of Legends invite." Simply tell me what you think of my gaming blog, my writing, and make your criticism constructive!

OK, I didn't say it would be very hard. The first 5 people to e-mail me within the above criteria get beta invites. Go!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Really quick: I'm heading out to see Star Wars in Concert today and I know I haven't been posting the way I should have. How can I be social and blog at the same time? Unfortunately, there weren't a lot of video games of culture to see when we were out the other night! Here's some stuff to look at and I'll be back tomorrow! See ya!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Kotaku had two very interesting reads up on the single player gaming experience today. I hope no one hates me for posting two items from Kotaku for FURTHER READING. Truthfully I look for longer articles, with interesting topics for FR and these two items really fit the bill.

1000 out of 1000

While I've completed the achievements for a couple of XBLA downloadable games, I've yet to score the full 1000 out of 1000 on a retail release (though I've tried).

That changed today.

After finally getting the Mile High Club achievement, I went through and destroyed a couple of TVs and gathered all of the enemy intel, bringing my achievement point count to a completed 1000 out of 1000.

Aren't you proud of me?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I've been working furiously for Part of the job is hunting for apps to review and developers who'll have me review them. If you are stumbling on this site, I'll happily review apps for free and publish them here, but you'll get much better promotion by getting it featured over at

Is Activision Evil (or just stupid)?

I can't help but hate to label corporations as evil. That business is such a cruel thing and that so many of my fellow university students are happily leaping into the gears of the machine is always something I struggle to cope with. Who knew that we needed so many people in suits making decisions that affected nearly everyone (I'm talking about consumers).

Of course, despite this tendency to give business the benefit of the doubt, Activision seems to try everything at their disposal to prove me wrong and show the lengths to which an organization with shareholders and a rising stock price can do to fuck all of that up. Here comes word from developer Infinity Ward and how Activision mishandled them and their creativity.

CVG reports (or is it takes from Playstation Official Magazine?):Speaking in an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine, Infinity Ward boss Vince Zampella revealed that the developer has wanted to create a modern combat game - and work on consoles - for years, but Activision's held them back.

"With Call of Duty 2, we were dead set against it being World War 2," Zampella told OPM, "but Activision really wanted it, the compromise sort of being that we'd get some dev kits for consoles in exchange for doing a World War 2 game.

"We always wanted to be on consoles and Activision saw us as more of a PC developer," he said. "And something I'll add to that, Activision also did not want Modern Warfare. They thought working on a modern game was risky and [thought], 'oh my god you can't do that, it's crazy!' They were doing market research to show us we were wrong the whole time," he said.

"We had to fight for everything," chimed in CoD project lead, Jason West. "They wanted it to be World War 2. Again."

Hindsight is, of course, 20:20 but does that mean that we shouldn't still shake our heads with as much mocking disappointment we can muster? Why would you want to sell gamers ANOTHER WWII game? How could that possibly have been considered a smart business move? As much as games try to imitate their big brothers in Hollywood, developers and publishers have yet to figure out the big secret: you have to let your genres cool enough, or even die.

Do you ever wonder why we no longer have Westerns flooding the movie theaters? Because audiences grew tired of them and they were lost on the newer youthful movie goers. Do young people today have any reverence for the wild west when we are without a frontier? More specifically, what is the current frontier? Space. Of course our movies are going to concern themselves with what is much more prominent in our collective consciousness.

Why didn't Activision realize this? CoD 4: Modern Warfare was only TWO years ago, very much in the current console generation. After the glut of World War II games during the era of the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube, how could you think that such a thing would transfer over to the NEW generation?

Let me clarify. I'm not really mad. As I said, I just wish companies in the video game industry would stop making me look like such a complete horse's ass when I don't rage and loathe the very fiber of their being like all of my compatriots do.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Oops! FURTHER READING seems to have slipped out from under me over the past couple of days. I apologize for this. I blame myself: I finally got my Nintendo 64 out and played Blast Corps (how did I miss this?!) and I've been busy with school. So back off! Ah I'm just messing with you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Modern Game Marketing - Modern Warfare 2's Infamy Trailer

Infinity Ward has released yet another Modern Warfare 2 trailer. I suppose I should have expected to write more than one Modern Game Marketing piece on MW2 as it is supposedly going to be the biggest holiday release this year. Here were are with another story driven trailer and you have to wonder what the gamers are going to think.

I always try to account for the differences in gaming demographics. With this trailer I thought I'd look at the differences between comments on Kotaku, Game Trailers, and You Tube. The trailer has been up for approximately 24 hours now so I'll take note of how many comments each posting has received and we'll record a quick survey of the comments and the overall opinion users display.

Kotaku's post had 467 comments at the time of writing.
--User vorpal_radish said "Awesome trailer. Gave me chills."
--User AraByblis pontificated "The only power capable of attacking the US on American soil is the US. I'm voting on some sort of civil war scenario. And the troops on both sides in the Washington scene appear American, the dudes on the white house roof were shooting at standard US troops. I think it will play out that a blackwater-like group will use a group of terrorist attacks as a cover for a full military coup." Many users responded to this posting, including their own break downs of the trailer detailing bits and bites that contributed to this theory.
The overall atmosphere of commenting was very much in depth. Commenters picked out specific details and were generally excited by the trailer. Of course, it helps that Kotaku employs a commenting system that promotes regular, thoughtful users.

Game Trailers' post had 1103 comments at the time of writing.
--User Brun0Th3BANK3r responded to Enfluence who originally said "Those graphics are..crap...and before you someone say im a graphics honestly not..i just like seeing what im shooting and right about now im thinking cod 4 know the way every enemy BLENDS IN WITH EVERY TEXTURE IN THE ENTIRE GAME?" Brun0Th3BANK3r said "Thats why people who know more about graphics than you say they might be the best ever."
--User atheistnation wrote "awesome, attack on the home front.
going to kind of feel like a starting point to fallout 3 haha.
is there anyone who can really say this game looks like crap?"
In general, there was far less pleasant discussion. Some users were insulting others based on their opinion, some wrote incoherently, and even more didn't really hang around for a discussion, dropping a line and leaving.

Youtube's video had 7,947 comments at the time of writing.
--User seebrfc1 was spamming the comments with "I'm getting this game for free. You can, too. I have the details on one of my videos."
--User TheLittleWorldofGaz said "well concidering you've resorted to calling me childing names i think that shows how valid your argument is. I get better resolution on the PC, end of"
Ultimately I think we can rule out Youtube as a proper place to comment on video games. I can't deny that there is sometimes quite a bit of very watchable content on Youtube, but I don't see any reason to become a regular commenter there. Of course, some of the noise could be attributed to Youtube's huge user base, but I have a feeling eliminating even 75% of those users wouldn't necessarily bring the quality of comments up.

I'm letting this post publish within the Modern Game Marketing series because this very loose study of comments on these three sites still goes to show just how much a well designed and anticipated trailer can inspire desire in the modern gamer. Simply put, no matter where you find the latest MW2 trailer, people are going to be talking about it.

Modern Game Marketing is a series on how new games, and the corporations behind them, get you to want them.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I spent some time at Game Trailers today. I can't lie. Uncharted 2 looks great. If only I had a PS3 to play it on.


Things sure have been busy around here. Seems like my holiday gaming season is getting busier and busier, my plate as full as it is on thanksgiving, my-- oh that's enough rhetoric.

I guess I'm writing to update on a few things. While I've been working over at GameTopius for a while now, I've added another writing job. And I'm getting paid for it!

A couple of weeks ago, I responded to a Craigslist post advertising for a reviewer of iPhone applications. When asked for a writing sample, I sent along my review of a simple and free iPhone game by the name of Flood-It!

My new editor liked the review and has me reviewing applications on a regular basis. What's nice is that I can review as much as I like, and what's even nicer is that I'm getting paid per review!

I suppose that's my excuse for cutting FUTHER READING from every day, to every weekday and one on the weekends.

To appease the masses that have surely become enraged by this cut back, you can see my first two Application reviews at the following addresses:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

REVIEW: Doodle Jump for the iPhone

Over the past week I started working at That website is dedicated to reviewing iPhone applications (duh...), and while publishing a review over there requires me to ask the application developer for a small fee, not every developer is going to be able to afford that. Luckily, I've got PLAY READ WRITE, which is dedicated to gaming in general, and while the iPhone may be struggling to find it's spot in the gaming community, the games are maturing and bringing new gameplay and charm to everyone who downloads and plays them.

At the same time, it's hard to know exactly which games to buy. You can be sure that your $0.99 (a pittance, really) would be well spent on Doodle Jump.

In fact, after downloading a promotional copy of the game, my girlfriend Jenna quickly picked up my phone and played around with it. "The sketched doodles make the game not just fun to play but fun to look at as well."

The light hearted sprites in the game gave Jenna cause to pick up the iPhone and jump right in. After about 5 to 6 rounds she didn't want to give my phone back. Within the next hour she had hopped on the App Store on her phone and bought the game for her own iPhone.

In fact, she's playing it right now. She's discovered how to climb quickly, stomp on the floating enemies, and rocket pack to a score even higher than my own.

Doodle Jump doesn't sacrifice any gameplay with it's cartoon graphics either. It has tight controls and addictive gameplay. You tilt the iPhone to move your guy around the screen and land on each platform on your way to a high score. Floating enemies haunt platforms the further you go, as well as disappearing platforms, moving platforms, and other hazards that I won't spoil. Believe me, it gets challenging.

But that challenge certainly lends the power ups a hand. When you snag a rocket pack, a propeller hat, or several spring jumps in a row, you can give yourself a high five, because those bonuses become really empowering. Plus, the developers have smartly let the power-ups scatter sparsely around the map the higher you get.

In a way, Doodle Jump is a refreshing lift in spirits for me. I've thought for a while now that the iPhone couldn't possibly compete in gaming as a platform, but if the creativity, ingenuity and quality of design that Doodle Jump employs can be used in other games then there's hope for the little machine in your pocket.

You can get Doodle Jump at the App Store for $0.99. Just click HERE!


Friday, October 2, 2009


I'll be out for most of the day so I'm getting FURTHER READING set and ready to go a little early. In a way, that's probably a good thing seeing as I've found somethings I missed earlier this week:
  • quit whining about Super SF IV,
  • watch this video of AC 2,
  • watch this video of The Saboteur (which looks better every time I see it).

How high can you go?

Here's the e-mail challenge I would be sending to a friend if Doodle Jump wasn't an application that cost money to play.

I originally contacted Doodle Jump developer Lima Sky to review their app for (a blog I recently started working with).  While the review won't be showing up there, expect a doodle jump review here on PLAY READ WRITE over the weekend. 

I got up to 15391 in Doodle Jump!!!! Try to beat that!!!
Play Doodle Jump
Doodle Jump is so ADDICTING! I am hooked. This game is unstoppable. Period. Get it on the iTunes App Store if you still don't have it and let's see who can get higher!
Get Doodle Jump
If you already have Doodle Jump installed on your iPhone or iPod Touch, you can click here to launch Doodle Jump. If you don't have it yet, you can get it here.
For more information about Doodle Jump, please visit

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Has it been a year of FURTHER READING already? Maybe not yet. We'll have to see.

Listening to Podcasts

I used to listen to podcasts all the time during my commute on the bus from home to school. Nowadays, I'm already at school! No need to commute, but that also means that I don't necessarily find the time to listen to any of the numerous gaming podcasts that I had listened to on a regular basis.

I also worked a job where I could listen to podcasts the entire shift, but I'm very much happy to be rid of that career.

Today, I'm listening to Kotaku Talk Radio, which I've never listened to, despite frequenting the popular gaming blog.

One thing I'm remembering as I listen to the voice conversing in my head is that sometimes there's a level of exclusivity depending on the podcast. 1up's Listen UP podcast does a good job of making sure that the topics are introduced one by one, and Robert Ashley's A Life Well Wasted does a remarkable job of keeping things very produced and edited in a tight package. Sometimes though, a podcast will turn into a revolving door of in jokes and topics that never really allow the listener to understand what it is the hosts are talking about.

Luckily, Kotaku does a good job of covering things in the podcast that they've already written about or that anyone keeping up on the regular feed of games press will be able to pick up exactly what they're talking about.

When will I finally get out there on a podcast?