Clippings: Holiday Edition

Hope you are all having a great holiday season! Here are the links I have for you:

  1. The best of the bunch isn’t related to gaming (and has done the rounds for a while – I first saw a variation years ago) but is too good not to share. My favourite: “expand (a+b)^n”.
  2. The Steam Christmas sale is under way, but the more impressive deals, if you have a US address, can be found at Amazon. Glancing through their catalogue, I’ve seen Europa Universalis IV for $10,  the excellent and under-loved Skulls of the Shogun for $5, all three Bioshock games for $15, and XCOM plus the Enemy Within expansion for $20. Worth a look!
  3. Speaking of Amazon, does this ad remind any other science fiction buffs of Bat Durston?
  4. This BBC article about the sustainability of the Hollywood blockbuster model sounds a little familiar after the last 12 months of AAA gaming.  However, Hollywood seems to be cleverer — only 10% of its blockbusters flop, down from 50% a few decades ago.
  5. With a beta of Wasteland 2 now playable for early customers, this is a good time to revisit this RPS interview about the original Wasteland. The best part is the anecdote at the end.
  6. I missed Final Fantasy X (and its less-regarded sequel, X-2) on PS2, so I’m quite pleased that they’ll be coming soon, in English, to the Vita.

Musical Monday, Christmas/New Year 2013: “Baba Yetu” (Civilization IV), composed by Christopher Tin

I’ve featured “Baba Yetu” before, but I can think of no better song for the current season of hope and goodwill. Enjoy the music, and may you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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Musical Wednesday: “Time To Make History” (Persona 4: Golden), composed by Shoji Meguro

This week’s song is the battle music for Persona 4: Golden, which replaces (most of the time) “Reach Out To The Truth”, the battle music in the PS2 version of the game. Like its predecessor, this is energetic, upbeat, and effective; if forced to choose, I’d say the PS2 music is the better of the two, but this is still well worth a listen. Enjoy!

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Clippings: Interstellar Edition

Over the weekend I’ve spent a bit of time with Small World 2, the newly released Steam port of the board game, and I quite like it – it’s simple but well-designed, worth the money I shelled out on Kickstarter. If you enjoy board games and light strategy games, such as last year’s Ticket to Ride, this is one to check out.

Here are the interesting links I’ve found:

  1. Speaking of Kickstarters, remember one earlier this year for Maia, a sort of Dungeon Keeper-on-an-alien-world? Eurogamer’s impressions of the alpha are fascinating, and make the game sound almost like science fiction Dwarf Fortress.
  2. Seminal space game Elite was before my time, but RPS has a good preview of upcoming sequel Elite Dangerous  (hat tip to reader Peter Davies).
  3. While many space games appear similar, upcoming first-person action/strategy game Flagship sounds as though it’ll be unique. Here is Space Game Junkie’s interview with the developers.
  4. In terrestrial news, I hear good things about 3DS JRPG Bravely Default and its battle system. Anyone tried it out?
  5. I am a huge fan of PS2 classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and here is an interview with creator Fumito Ueda. No update on The Last Guardian, sadly, other than a somewhat ominous comment by Ueda that his “creative work was mostly finished a long time ago.”
  6. And finally, here is an interesting piece about the state of the Japanese games industry, which (amongst other things) argues that “2013 was the year in which Japan discovered independent gaming and crowdfunding”. If you were a fan of PSP RPG Trails in the Sky, this article is almost worth reading just for the concept art from the upcoming sequel.

Assassin’s Creed IV impressions: Do you ever dream of the big score?

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Assassin's Creed IV

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So far, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag impresses me.

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I want YOUR soundtrack suggestions! (December 2013)

Several folks have been kind enough to recommend various songs to me, ranging from period music in Assassin’s Creed IV to the surprisingly heroic main theme of Evil Genius. Over the next few weeks I’d like to round up a “reader’s choice” edition of Musical Monday, so if you’ve come across a particularly memorable, effective, or plain enjoyable piece of game music that you’d like to highlight, please let me know in the comments!

Musical Tuesday: “Guile’s Theme” (Street Fighter II), composed by Yoko Shimomura

“For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.” — M Bison, Street Fighter


I hadn’t planned to choose Guile’s Theme as this week’s song. I’d originally picked out another song… and then, on Monday, I couldn’t log into the site. Now it’s Tuesday, and I couldn’t resist the urge to combine one of video gaming’s classic, catchy, iconic themes with the above meme. As an added bonus, this even ties into previous Musical Mondays — Yoko Shimomura, who composed most of the character themes for the arcade version of Street Fighter II, eventually went on to compose much of the (excellent) soundtrack of Xenoblade Chronicles. Below the cut, I’ve posted a video that rounds up 55 minutes’ (!!!) worth of Guile themes from various Street Fighter games — if you ask me, the original is still the best. Enjoy!

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Wreck-it Ralph lives up to the hype

Over the weekend I finally caught Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph on TV, and wow, I’m glad I did. In many ways it’s typical family movie fare, but of course it’s more than that; packed with  in-jokes, homages, and a fair few cameos, it’s a delightful love letter to 30 years of video games. If you’re part of its target market (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), then I heartily recommend it. Go in blind — don’t read synopses, don’t watch trailers — and I hope you have fun!

Clippings: Android Battles at Antares Edition

MOO2 Android

To this day, Master of Orion II is still the best ‘traditional’ (i.e. not Distant Worlds) space 4X game I’ve encountered, and now I can play it on the go! Above is a screenshot of MOO2 running on an Android tablet; with an 8″ screen (Samsung Galaxy Note 8) everything is large enough for comfort, although I do recommend a stylus for tapping the little plus and minus signs on the ship design screen. There is a little lag, and trying to “right-click” can be a hassle, but these are minor blemishes on an experience that is not just playable, but very enjoyable. Here are the steps that I followed; you will need DOSbox and a copy of MOO2 (the game version from GoG works fine; and I’m using DOSBox Turbo, the paid DOSbox port recommended by that link). Now, if I can just work out how to take down that Klackon starbase…


In other news:


  1. I was not a fan of Total War: Rome II, whose campaign was deeply flawed both in its execution and in its sprawling design. Now, Creative Assembly has announced a new expansion pack covering Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, which will “[offer] a tighter scope in terms of time and geography than Rome II“. We’ve seen this before in CA’s progression from the vast Empire to the more compact Napoleon, so this really represents CA (re-)learning its lessons; time will tell how well Caesar in Gaul succeeds.
  2. The Psychology of Video Games is one of the most interesting and unique industry-related sites, and two recent pieces (on avatars and game nostalgia) are worth a read.
  3. Here are two pieces of XCOM-related humour.
  4. And here are some cool manga-style illustrations that graced a Japanese edition of D&D (hat tip to reader LeSquide).

Empire: Interesting but incomplete

Crazy Monkey Studios’ Empire is a ‘light’ strategy game for mobile platforms and PC (1) that contains some interesting ideas and a striking dark-fantasy aesthetic, but ultimately falls short of its promise.