I had no idea.
We here at Perpetual Geek Machine think life as a nerd has been pretty spectacular in 2012. Great movies, games, tv shows and more. We’ve made friends with Nicole Kline, and then put her to work writing here! Rich got engaged, Dan bought a house. There’s a good chance Ryan and/or Bryan did something adorably Canadian. Kevin spent most of the year brewing beer and Adam made it through the latest Mayan apocalypse mostly unscathed!
Just like last year to celebrate the end of this trip round the sun we got together to run down our top 5 favorite things of the year. We then presented those during part 1 of our spectacular year end podcast. In part 2 of that podcast we whittle out lists down to a Top 5 to represent the site as a whole, and then 1 singular item that is Perpetual Geek Machine’s favorite thing of 2012. Last year The Muppets was our winner. What will take the crown this year? Listen to the podcast to find out!
Before I talk about Dyad, I want to talk about Kaboom! for the Atari 2600.
In Kaboom!, you were tasked with blocking various bombs being thrown from the top of the screen, from hitting the bottom. It was one of the paddle control games, so no typical 2600 joystick – you used this palm-sized wheel-and-button thing to crank the Breakout-style blocker-sprite back and forth across the screen. (An analog controller at the time was pretty neat, although we didn’t call it that.)
Anyways, I really loved Kaboom!, because for some reason I played it a lot and became pretty good at it. It was like a rodeo ride. Hang on as long as you can, before the sheer speed of the game overwhelmed you.
PixelJunk 4am is not quite a game, but more than a toy; something less than an actual instrument, yet something more than musical knob-twiddling. And it looks like pure drugs.
The result of what must have been a seriously booze-and-sushi filled collaboration between Q-Games Dylan Cuthbert and performing artist Baiyon, 4am is grasping towards an extermely particular, specific goal: the feeling of 4 in the morning, in the city, after a lot of clubbing. In the chill out rooms, as they used to be termed when I was a wee lad, this particular flavour of low-intensity, yet dark and throbby, progressive house music was born. It’s more about textures than anything else, and is more deserving of the ‘trance’ label than perhaps some other forms.
This is Baiyon’s backyard, and he has extended his arm into a huge bucket of wriggling, neon samples and dropped them into this product. 190 or so permutations, as I understand it. He also collaborated – co-created – the visualizer aspect in conjunction with Q-Games, arranging specific visual hooks to match the song-sets that are embedded. It’s all extremely reminiscent of the aesthetic in PixelJunk Eden, right down to the font, so if you liked how that looked, then you’ll dig this.
You could be forgiven for not knowing about the gigantic solar war that took place in the 1940s. Most of it happened in space.
I am of course referring to the defence of Earth’s massive stellar satellite system, which was mercilessly attacked on the outer edges of Pluto, first by the Gorg inhabitants of the mysterious Planet X, and then later joined by the bloodthirsty Brain Riders of Venus, led by the treacherous and beautiful Sereia.
In The Unstoppable Gorg, you control the actions of Captain Adam Huxley, who is manifested as nothing more than a mouse cursor, as he takes on the teeming endless hordes attacking the various Earth space stations. Yes, it’s tower defence, although much like Anomaly: Warzone Earth, it adds a surprising and worthwhile twist on the old formula, while keeping the Flash Gordon/Ed Wood pulp sci-fi cheese amplified to level 11.
(Single-player campaign review)
There’s an old expression that my dad used to use: when you are holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Maybe it’s our tool-oriented brains doing this trick, because it’s also true that when you are holding a gun, everything looks like a target. Guns are popular in videogames because of what they represent: they are the very definition of empowerment, of fire congealed into metal and placed into a pleasing, sturdy, ergonomic package. Cliff Bleszinski (of Epic) once remarked that guns let you touch the world in games, at a distance, the cause-and-effect of seeing an explosion or consequence immediately after pulling the trigger completes the interaction circuit in the brain. I mention all this to point out an interesting dichotomy: in Resistance 3, you hold a very large, very satisfyingly destructive arsenal in your hands at most points during the campaign. And yet, you often feel powerless, unable to cope, the weight of the task at hand seeming not epically heroic, but courageously doomed, despite your power.
Resistance 3 is a shooter full of despair. And you really don’t see that very often.
[PS3 version reviewed]
It is telling, our state of post-post-meta-modernism, when a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution seems slightly old-fashioned. Cyberpunk. I mean, how long ago was it that you read Neuromancer and Snow Crash? Or played Syndicate? What was once a cutting-edge science fiction trope now seems almost old hat. We’ve since moved on to looking for whatever comes after nanotechnology.
That’s what makes the setting of DXHR, in 2011, so interesting. When we were first introduced in the late 80s and 90s to the idea of cybernetic implants, and well, Deus Ex* and cyborgs in general, the technology seemed feasible but not exactly on the close horizon. It was easy to imagine humans with interface implants and extra-strong limbs and organs in the future – surely, someday, obviously, right? But, today… today much of what is portrayed in the game, a mere 16 years hence, suddenly seems that much closer. We’ve seen nimble robots. We’ve seen the rise of the global internet, fabrication technology, huge leaps in computer power, artificial materials with new properties already.
This new perspective on cyberpunk makes DXHR that much more interesting, and disturbing. Now it’s near-sci fi.
By now you’ve no doubt noticed the fusillade of articles (or podcasts, ahem) decrying chairs as a cancer on Western Civilization. We spend so much time in chairs, and yet they are sucking the life-force right out of you, no matter what your fitness activity level; laying low your metabolic rate and squeezing vitality directly from your ass. As near as I can tell.
Do not despair. I’m going to describe to you two reasons to stop folding your meat-husk in half: one, because it’s easier than you think to ditch the chair, and two, because I think you’ll want to anyways, regardless of the supposed health benefits.
With the impending pagan holiday ushering in a new flock of Pads and Pods and Phones, now seems like a good time to pick out some tasty software from the Apple iTunes Store That Is Also Actually An App Store Even Though It’s Still Called iTunes. Wading into that armpit-deep morass of cheap cash-ins and fart autotuners to divine what is good and what is garbage can be… well, it takes a lot of time.
These are apps that I may find useful, but not necessarily. There are acres of text out there describing the best productivity apps, or great games, or best knitting reference tools. This isn’t that. Instead, these are what I show someone who just bought an iThing, when they want to see something super cool. It’s boring to whip out an iPad and show off a to-do list, even if the interface is bound in sumptuous digital leather. No, you want to see the thing dance. You want to see something unique.
Without further ado: my list.
As the burning embers waft by, I briefly wonder whether or not the Marksmen is wearing anything flammable. It seems like everything is on fire, or was on fire a short time ago. This is the Corinth Highway, a shell-blasted stretch of incendiary death that is the backdrop for one of Killzone 3′s multiplayer maps, and I’m finding it a little hard to see through all of the combustion happening around my player. As if reading my thoughts, the STA-14 rifle shifts somewhat uncomfortably in the hands of my virtual soldier. He seems about as nervous as I do.
I’ll let him explain it in his own words:
I was in the mood to make something silly. Or maybe I just wanted to destroy something beautiful. Either way, the finale from A New Hope ended up getting digitized into my edit suite, and in very short order my suspicions were confirmed: I could make it look like Luke missed his chance to blow up the Death Star. After sifting through the footage I realized there was a treasure trove of moments that could be exploited. Mark Hamill was just so expressive in his role. Sometimes just a quick glance, or the way a phrase was uttered could be put into a completely different context and really change the outcome of the whole sequence.
It isn’t perfect, far from it, but I think it stands up pretty well, and there is plenty in there for the fans to enjoy. Special thanks to Ryan for his input as well. It would have been a mistake to leave Tarkin out. Hope you like it!
I still don’t know how the fuck he cut around the music.