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!
In addition to fighting it out on the podcast we’re also each presenting our lists here on the site. Please join us to run down Ryan Hewson’s top 5 things of 2012!
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. What I noticed way back then playing Kaboom! was that I seemed to get much better with practice, but none of it was based on any sort of conscious decision-making. You didn’t play Kaboom! and think “ok left, right, left, ooo more left” etc. It was way too fast for that. You had to just let go, not tense up but in fact relax, and let your brain do it’s thing. Near the end, I would play Kaboom! at berserk speeds and almost marvel at what I was doing – it looked like a goddamn computer playing itself, probably, to anyone in the room not bothering to notice that I was still attached to the Atari.
Dyad is one of the only games I’ve played since Kaboom! that gives me that same feeling.
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.