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December 28, 2014

I have no pretence of calling this a Gaming Thread but I heard you like lists

Christmas so there isn't much news. I don't have my....I wouldn't call it an GOTY as I haven't played many games this year but something resembling on what I liked that I played this year. Christmas week kicked my ass.

So did anyone get anything gaming related for Christmas? Only thing I got was a new keyboard. Asked for a new Ducky after I fried mine with ice tea only to end up with one of those Logitech Orion keyboards. It's cool, keys took a day or so to get used to when using it for anything other than playing games. It's also damn near seizure inducing if you crank the color effects to max speed.

I sat down with $20 and saw how far I could stretch out that money on quantity and quality during the Steam sale. Something different than the usual "hey, these games are cheap and good".

And I'm gonna throw up my favorite movie and music lists. I got crapped on last year for my music tastes so lets see how bad it is this year.


How far can you stretch a $20 during the Steam Sale?

Now, I did skip the daily and the flash deal things just to keep me from getting a headache.

Crimzon Clover WORLD IGNITION ($3.39) - One of the best shmups of the last few years. When you get into the zone, the game is pure bliss dodging some breath taking bullet patterns.

Toki Tori (49 cents) - Great little platform puzzler that gets hard as balls in the later levels. Graphics are real charming. They don't make games like this any more (for better or worse).

Puzzler World 2 (49 cents) - Do you remember those brain teaser books of yore? Yeah, well this is that just an ass load of them. Great little time waster. I'd get the second one as it's got a better variety of puzzles.

Savant - Ascent (99 cents) - Fun little beat'em up with solid controls and enough upgrades to make things interesting.

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (99 cents) - For a low budget God of War game, it's surprisingly quite decent for what it is. And the devs knew it too which makes the game fun with it's own brand of kitsch.

SpaceChem (99 cents) - Do you have a PHD in geometry? It's basically Lazer Khet: The Puzzle Game but really damn hard. MENSA members only. If you can bust your balls to figure out the puzzles, it's pretty damn rewarding and there is enough content to keep you satisfied.

Hexcells Plus ($1.01) - You ever thought that what was missing from Minesweeper was a puzzle mode? Well, this will scratch that itch. It's got a real nice calming ability to itself while throwing you some tricky puzzles.

Beyond Divinity ($1.19) - Classic Diablo clone with a huge amount of ambition. Some of that ambition falls flat and it's got some eurojank but damn is this game just a ton of fun.

Railroad Tycoon 2 Platnium Edition ($1.24) - Still one of the best sims around and it works good on modern machines.

I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream ($1.49) Still one of the best P&C adventure games ever made. Still one of the hardest P&C adventure games of all-time.

Noitu Love 2 ($1.99) - One of the best 2D action beat'em ups of the last 10 years. If you dug stuff like Gunstar Heroes, you owe it to yourself to play this game.

Penumbra Collector's Pack ($2.29.) - Awesome hide & seek adventure game. It's what laid the groundwork for Amnesia and frankly, has a better story and better "scare moments". Very much worth checking out.

La-Mulana ($2.99) - Really hard as balls Metroidvania with a fun sense of exploration and a nice 16 bit art style. Prepare to die a lot, prepare to have a lot of fun.

Total ends up at $19.54 which leaves you some more change to grab any other cheap game to top you off.


-----------MOVIES-----------


Black Coal, Thin Ice - This is my favorite film of the year. It wears it's well worn noir tropes quite proudly but it's really a case of just some outstanding acting and breathtaking cinematography of areas of China that just isn't filmed enough. Though it doesn't exactly tread new ground, with how tight the writing is, it's easy to see how it took Diao Yinan 8 years to write it while building on his under appreciated Night Train film. Liao Fan is one of those actors that you notice but he's never really given anything to do but he took this main role as far as the material could take him. He nailed the haunted washed up cop looking for redemption. He deserved the Silver Bear and was frankly robbed out of his Golden Horse. I thought Secret sucked which didn't make me expect much out of Gwei Lun-Mei but in this flick, she has to be one of the best fragile femme fatales I've ever seen. She's good, real good while making her relationship with Fan very believable.



Brotherhood of Blades - The wuxia genre has been basically dead since Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou shit up the joint with their films a decade ago but occasionally in the sea of crap, you do get a really good one every full moon (Reign of The Assassins being the last one). So when someone hits it out of the park, you have to sit up and take notice. This grounded (for wuxia) martial arts epic checks off all the things you want: insane wirework in some over the top action scenes, a mostly well written multi layered story (some of the conspiracies lost me a bit on first viewing), top notch acting that actually makes you care about the characters and though it doesn't have a House of Flying Daggers level of gaudiness, it's a really lavish production which they really had to rubs pennies together considering the small budget. I'm not exactly a fan of Chang Chen (too much of a pretty boy) but man did he really knock it out of the park while hoping for the best with his relationship with Zhou. I really like Shishi Liu when she is on the big screen, she's good on tv but she shines on the big screen letting her bust her hump and take time to actually act which she is quite good at.

Guardians of the Galaxy - What else is there to say about this film that hasn't been said before? When they announced James Gunn was going to do it, the only feeling I had was this was going to be one of the biggest bombs of all-time or it's gonna be one of the best Marvel flicks of all-time. I guess if I had to poke anything at this flick was all the set pieces were way too claustrophobic but at first viewing you don't really notice it with it's writing. And even with repeated viewings, it doesn't bother me too much, just something that stuck out to me.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Didn't like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it was boring and plodded way to much so I went in with low expectations which lead me to be quite surprised in this. Gary Oldman is always awesome and he was especially awesome as the only dude with a clue. Still like seeing the can't we get along people getting proven that no, they can't. The tech behind the ape performances continues to impress me.

The Raid 2 - I think the quality of films of Evans and Uwais is getting worse (Merantau was better than The Raid which was better than the Raid 2) but they're still so much fun with some great fight scenes (prison scene and fight against the assassins) and Iko Uwais can actually act. I dunno what else to say, nothing else really stands out other than it just being a fun film.

Chef - What can I say, I really like Jon Favreau (even thought Couples Retreat wasn't bad) and this right here is a solid heartwarming family comedy with some of Favreau's better writing to date. For someone who has been in a restaurant kitchen, everything dealing with cooking was dead on to the point where it was believable while having some fun with it. Of all the cameos, nothing feels forced while filling out the scenes with some class. You don't get these kind of films that often anymore and it's nice when it's actually good.

Hungry Ghost Ritual - As anything other than a pizza & beer horror flick, this flick is really bad. Does the story make sense? Nope. Do you care about anyone in this flick? Nope. But this flick shares a lot of similarities of the Category III heyday that it apes, it's a lot of schlocky fun with some pretty good gore. I got what I came for in this flick while chowing down on some Valeo's and Spotted Cow. Call it the Joe Bob Briggs Special. And even though it's a directorial debut from star Nick Cheung, he probably shouldn't direct again.


The Suspect - Bit of a cop out as this did come out in Korea on Christmas day last year but eh. This fast paced (no joke, it's just non-stop balls to the wall) North Korea - South Korea spy thriller is well worth watching (it's on Netflix). Never would have expected nerdy & nebish Gong Yoo to be able to pull off the bad ass spy trapped behind enemy lines who also being on a mission of revenge after the Norks killed his wife and child. South Korea can do spy thrillers in their sleep, they're the best around at it and this one is one of the best ones in the last few years.


The Babadook - What do you get from distilling horror films of the last 80 years? You get The Babadook as it weaves it's tale through pretty much everything that has come before. I know a lot of people went all "it's German expressionism" and they would be mostly right though personally, the film comes off as something Val Lewton would have made in his prime. The notes of the film is perfectly dense and ambiguous while having a great creature design (of what you can see). Seeing Essie Davis in something other than Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (you should watch it, it's good) was also fun. Horror has been way too cheap lately and this does a good job bringing back some actual terror. I do wish it wasn't so damn pretentious at spots.

Jodorowsky's Dune - Man I wish this film was made. Like, if there was anything you wanted to know about Jodorowsky's vision of adapting this thing, it's all here with the who's who rogue gallery of artists. This thing just beats down the door in how awesome this would have been while every one seems excited in reminiscing about just the whole production was heading before it got shut down because of budget reasons. Would have been better than what Lynch gave us. Makes for a great double viewing with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

----------MUSIC-------------


Lack of Afro - Music for Adverts - I've been following him since his debut album, Press On (Touch My Soul is the shit) , came out and he's always been a dude who has been really damn solid but you always had a sneaking suspicion that he had something more to give to get to a new height. This album is that next step and it's far and away the best album of 2014. Everything is on point with killer soulful licks while Jack Tyson-Charles croons away that makes a grown man weep (he's on 5 of the 12 songs).

Roni Size - Take Kontrol - If you didn't grow up listening to Roni Size, his first album in almost 15 years is pretty dated but man did this thing really scratch my nostalgic itch for some Roni Size. This whole is basically a journey of him reliving the albums he's released in the past with touching on stuff like Brown Paper Bag and Scrambled Eggs. I dunno, I know it's not a good album but man did this dude fill my Jr. High and Highschool days and I'm getting to the age where nostalgia isn't a bad thing. We got a new Portishead album (which sucked) and now we got a new Roni Size album, all we need now is a new album from DJ Krush and those years of my youth have been re-lived.


Odesza - In Return - I really didn't like their debut album, it was messy and a lot of the beats didn't work IMO but this one they really dialed it in and cleaned up their act creating a rich sound while still being damn chilled. And I don't know who Zyra is but she really is the standout vocalist on the album, her songs on this album is really good.


Megan Washington - There There - I really like this girl's voice. First time I heard her was King of the Rodeo on The Bamboos' Sidestepper album and I fell in love with her voice. She's not exactly a trailblazer with music styles, she started off with jazz and funk on other people's stuff while doing her indie pop thing and with her sophomore album, she's gone towards more 80's style pop music. And you know what, she nails everything thrown at her with her vocal range. And her writing is pretty good with interesting hooks. If you want to ding the album, as much as I really like Limitless, it doesn't have a song that makes you go wow like How to Tame Lions or Clementine.


BabyMetal - BabyMetal - After 3 1/2 years of singles, they finally released their first "album" which for the most part just collects most of those singles. And I'm totally cool with that as the songs though are well worn with me are still good. Plus it's kinda par for the course to release something like this in Japan as your first "album". For them doing this for awhile now (was a side thing to keep some junior idols active), they're still a lot of fun with their over produced studio tracks and little girls singing. Nothing is deep or anything, it's just really fun pop music. What else can I say, she's got a good voice, she can write, she's hot and single.


Star Guitar - Schrodinger's Scale - As I get older, I've been finding myself liking more stuff that I would have considered muzak no more than 10 years ago and for that type of stuff, this album is really good with the main focus being on someone banging on a keyboard. Everything is focused on the keyboard and it's a good choice as it's quite pleasing. Not for everyone but I dug this album


Third Coast Kings - West Grand Boulevard - Michigan funk by the way of Italy. Even had to pay import prices to get this album. That being said, I've seen these guys live before and they're really good musicians and their sophomore album is better than their self titled debut. They are really getting into their groove as one of the best funk bands around. That being said, I really do wish Michelle Camilleri would come back as she really makes their music pop. If you dig funk, this is a must check out album


Perturbator - Dangerous Days - I think this is his best album. It's really good in it's dark and brooding chiptune. Every track just flows into the next making for a really nice package. Just one of those albums that makes for great background music. As with all of Perturbator, it's and either or situation as there really isn't much middle ground on if you like him or not.


L'Orange - The Orchid Days - After Wax Tailor went off the deep end, I started listening to this dude for my landscapes filled with jazzy hop beats with a soul and superb knowledge on when to drop a sample, a singer or rapper to keep the overarching narrative moving. Not everyone can paint with a musical brush but this man knows what's up. It's quite tantalizing in how it's layered in the story it tells. And to top it off, he's got some room to grow still.


My Twitter so you can tell me I have horrible taste in two different places

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posted by Gang of Gaming Morons! at 03:12 PM

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