The experience of gaming

I’ve always maintained that playing games with friends, especially in co-op, can make even the most mediocre game a fun fucking time.

It’s only more recently that I’ve begun to understand why I feel this. Why do I and three friends recall fondly our 30-or-so shared hours in Dead Island? Why did I play more Assassin’s Creed multiplayer than the actual game itself? Why is my Halo 3 Master Chief helmet proudly on display when I shrug at the idea of more Halo?

I finally figured it out this weekend. As I spent the last few days couch-hopping* around London suburbs so I could play hours and hours of the new Smash Bros with ten of my closest friends, I realised it was the experience around this (and other games) that truly elevated its standing. Laughing and shouting and jeering and cheering and making jokes as we all shared in our utter joy of discovering what the game had to offer, it helped me realise the answers to the above questions.

Stupid Sexy Shulk...

This image means a lot to my friends and I. It will mean nothing to you.

In Dead Island, the four of us made our own fun. We didn’t take the story or the world or anything about the game seriously, we embraced its janky nature as we hurtled down roads in awful cars, ganged up on individual zombies to kick them to death and came to each other’s rescue more than once.

Three friends and I would regularly team up in Assassin’s Creed Revelations to spend hours killing Templars and each other. We yelled at each other over Skype to co-ordinate capture the flag defence and attack strategies when together. Insults flew when one of us suddenly realised we’d been sneakily poisoned by the other. We made up our own story about ice cream and it was important to us.

My friend excitedly sent me a message when he saw this. "The ice cream is REAL" it said.

My friend excitedly sent me a message when he saw this. “The ice cream is REAL” it said.

Halo 3 arrived for me at 6:45 am on the day of release. I’d had about five hours sleep and work in the evening, but I’d just got my shiny new AV setup finalised and I was raring to go. Throughout the day my three housemates jumped in and out of co-op and online multiplayer with me, and when I headed to my three hour shift at Toys ‘R’ Us my colleagues spent the whole time talking about the game. I got home and finished the campaign before heading to bed, an almost perfect day of playing one single videogame.

These are just a few of the memories and stories I have surrounding videogames, and I’m sure everyone else has their own to tell. It’s these stories that can turn any game, regardless of quality, into a favourite game.

Experience games with other people. Make your own memories. The game only needs to be part of the experience.

*actually I slept on an airbed in one person’s lounge the entire weekend, but that’s less dramatic.

Tuesday Newscast – 20th September 2011

Gearbox really want to know your feelings on Duke Nukem Forever. what better reason to make Phil relive it all in horrible Vietnam flashbacks? The only thing that will pull him out of it is Randy Pitchford knocking at his door with chocolates and flowers, as well as the tearful breaking down in each others arms that would ensue.

I’m sure we talked about other things that happened today, but I can’t remember them and ultimately compared to Phil’s Duke trauma, does it really matter? You’ll have to listen to the Tuesday Newscast to find out…

– Luke

Blame it all on George – Luke, Phil, and Thez

BGM: Fallout: New Vegas

Phil’s Phriday Phailcast: Volume 1 (Friday Newscast 11th February)

“L…Lightning-chan…’s nice running into you here…” I stared down at my pink Chuck Taylors (which I was wearing ironically) in hopes that the pink haired beauty before me did not notice the gamer grub residue that had settled into my neckbeard. “Look dude” she says defiantly, “I have already told you a hundred times, my name is Rita, and if you’re not going to buy anything, you need to stop coming in here.” The same thing every time. Why don’t women ever pay attention to a nice guy like me?! Fortunately, I am fast on my feet. “ you have any copies of Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch?” As I mumble out the last few words, my eyes look up to meet her steely gaze, and I nearly shit myself out of a disgusting combination of fear and arousal. “Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch?! Are you fucking kidding me, pal?! Is a random namedrop of a game boy advance punchout clone with hilbillies supposed to fucking impress me or something?!” Ugh..foiled again… I struggle to think of a response. “I um..I didn’t..” I’m quickly interrupted by the sound of her boots scuffing against the dusty game boy display case counter top. Instinctively, I back up, right into a rack of heavily discounted officially licensed Gamepro Dan Electro action figures. This is the end, I suppose. I have nothing left to do but stare blankly at the lovely maiden in front of me, hoping she would at least make my execution swift. She cracks a smile. “Well, if you’re trying to impress me….it’s working”.

To see how this story ends, please purchase Lightning-chan Gamestoppu Girl Complex, available soon at a participating retailers.

Don’t even get them started: Luke, Phil, and special guest, Phil’s brother Anthony

BGM: Tales of Symphonia, Kid Chameleon, Lufia 2, Maniac Mansion

Tuesday Newscast – 8th February 2011

Welcome to the podcast of hopeless well wishing.

Pilot Wings Resort hooopefully won’t suck, right? Because buying a 3DS is probably on the cards either way, despite the launch lineup… And those folks at Capcom, surely they won’t be too egregious in their implementation and pricing of Marvel vs Capcom 3 DLC? Not like they have a history of that… Namco Bandai announce games. No really, that’s it. Katamari boardgame, I hear you optimistically willing into existence? Here’s hoping. With the announcement of The Darkness 2, will lefty finally see his share of heart eating? Are there any Japanese games without their roots in porn? Now these wishes are just getting silly……

But not all well wishing ends in heartbreak. Remember how bleak things were looking when Harmonix were sold for a fistful of dollars? Turns out they’re not closing their doors just yet – layoffs ain’t exactly a happy turn of events, but it’s a few rungs up the ladder from closure, and there’s an update going out for Dance Central that has pretty much all the features you could ever hope for.

Good writing in video games is rewarded, despite the snubbing of Red Dead Redemption as the Writers Guild award Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood for excellent story telling.

And in a real feelgood story, Dead Space developers Visceral respond to the pleas of one disabled gamer with extreme enthusiasm to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Through the thick and thin of all this highly impactful news, I am of course playing Nanaca Crash. DAAAAAMN YOOOOU PHIIIIIL. Your score to beat, class, is 2775.48m.

If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, see:

Although the game is totally work safe and HILARIOUS, I am devastated to learn that it too has its roots in pornography. Oh the humanity.

This probably sets the tone for the patented Tuesday Ramblecast. Enjoy as once more we turn ‘news’ into news, for your entertainment pleasure!

Like pork – Luke, Phil and Thez

BGM: Skies of Arcadia

Monday Newscast – 7th February 2011

Well hey guys it’s the start of a new week here and Gamesperg has got you covered with the Monday Newscast.

Deals and Such: DC Universe Online 25% off, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Server Maintenance

Release Dates: Back to the Future on PS3

Announcements: Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 in the West (Hell yes son), Zombies Ate My Neighbours Movie, Angry Birds on 3DS, more free Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood DLC, Call of Juarez: The Cartel

News: Red Dead Redemption and the WGA, Your Mom Hates Dead Space Adverts, New ZX Spectrum, Xperia Play is official, No Kim Jong-il in Homefront in Japan, Duty Calls parody gets played a lot, Phantasy Star Online 2 going to Alpha soon

And we got you your New Releases and Nintendo Downloads as well. Grab it while it’s hot.

– Thez

Testing out the new segue jingle – Phil and Thez

BGM: Picross 3D

Tuesday Newscast – 18th January 2011

IF this podcast was named by Square-Enix (or “squeenix” as we prefer (Z – Squeendos actually)), it would be called….

Tuesdayus Newscast: Dreams of Destiny the Episode Zero Prologue Latinus Dominus 18/01/11 over 21:53 Days

Or just the Tuesday Newscast. But there is some Square Enix news and some ridiculous titles.

There are also some pretty ludicrous sales going on right now for the various digital market places. If you want the details, they’re all on the podcast but I will save you some time and say go buy Bionic Commando Rearmed and Peacewalker RIGHT NOW.

Does anyone other than me and Phil have fond memories for the original Vandal Hearts? It might become an impulse buy casualty of these sales.

New DLC releases to accompany this include some Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood DLC with one of the most convoluted product descriptions possible, DLC for Castlevania Harmony of Despair which is one ofthe most convoluted games possible! What a pair.

On the topic of convolution, can I interest you in the Gears of War: Triple Pack? What’s that you say? Gears of War 3 isn’t out? No, my good sir, this is Gears of War 1, Gears of War 2 and a mission pack for 2.

Why on earth would a straightforward title like the triple pack make you think the third game was in there?

In terms of news, there is the genuinely exciting, then there is the “news”.

Valve have seemingly made good on all their PS3 promises of greatness, and to sweeten the deal are throwing in a free Steam copy with every PS3 purchase.

What about the “news”? Ongoing tabloid coverage of drama queens complaining of the 3DS melting their eyes, a sequel to Cannon Fodder and too extweeeeeeeme for a conventional console release Ninety Nine Nights appears to be going down the MMO route.

Also, I clutch at staws. I like clutching at straws.

– Luke

Together again – Luke, Phil, Thez

BGM: Neverwinter Nights 2