Best of 2017

2017 is dead. Long live 2017! I wanted to take a moment to spotlight some of my favorite new things. So here’s my “Best of 2017” list… in sets of twos!

Music (albums):

Shredder’s “Dangerous Jumps”- Fantastic new hip hop project the Doomtree collective. If you dig Run The Jewels and midwestern hip-hop, you’ll love this. The album is good, but I might like the ep even better.

Dirty Projector’s “Dirty Projectors”- The best breakup record of all time?

Board Games:

Best of 2017
Five Minute Dungeon- A fantastic collaborative card game for 2-4 players. The mechanic is really simple and each level only takes 5 minutes to play.

One Deck Dungeon- While each dungeon takes considerably longer than 5 minutes (1-2 hours) this game is really replayable. We got hooked on the original last year, and this year the Forest of Shadows expansion came out. Can’t wait to play all the new levels, but we already love the new characters.

Movies:

The Big Sick– A strong debut from Kumail Nanjiani. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

Get Out– Another strong film debut. Jordan Peele knocked it out of the park with this psychological thriller/horror thing.

Documentaries:

The New Radicals- How has this not been released on a big scale yet?! We saw this documentary at Sundance and loved it. The movie focuses on techno-anarachists, Cody Wilson, and the 3D printed gun. Really interesting topics well told. Time will tell how this subjects will age, but I’m glad the crew was there to document this interesting period.

Icarus- How did this even happen?! The movie starts off with a bicyclist who wants to prove how easy and common doping is in sports by using himself as an example. Things quickly derail, and the real story emerges. It’s so bizarre and intriguing that it feels like a one in a million odds that something like this will ever get captured on film again.

Hobbies:

Fencing– Christine and I have been taking fencing classes at Halbertstadt Fencing Club and loving it. If you live in SF, I highly recommend their month long intro to fencing class.

PC Gaming– I wrote a while back about how Christine and I finally set up a Windows machine to work our way through my huge collection of Steam (and Humble Bundle) games. We’ve been playing Superhot, Ronin, Untold Stories, and many more great games.

Comics:

Best of 2017
Kaijumax (season one and season two)- This comic series is inspired by Kaiju shows (live action Japanese shows like Godzilla and Ultraman) and classic prison films. It’s easy to see strong political statements about race and the problems with the prison-industrial complex, but this book is really just about telling a strong story with unusual characters.

Tetris: The Games People Play– This documentary-style comic explores the creation of Tetris as well as the rise of gaming in the 80s. Rather than a straight-forward approach, it really takes advantage of the visual medium to create something unique. Another similar docu-comic is Rise of the Dungeon Master which tells the story of Dungeons & Dragons. Both of those books are must haves.

Best Shows/Events:

The Jesus Lizard– It only took 25 years, but I finally got to see The Jesus Lizard live at the Independent. It was every bit as good as I heard it would be.

You’ve Got My Eyes- A dork-punk science fair organized by my friend Mark Krawczuk.

Yo-Yos:

Best of 2017

The Notus by YoYoEmpire- A fun delrin yo-yo with a classic feel. It’s got that nice rounded shape that makes it feel good in the hand, plus modern features like fingerspin areas.

The Master Galaxy by C3 Yo-Yo Design– I hate big yo-yos. Or at least I thought I hated big yo-yos, then I played with the Master Galaxy and realized what I’ve been missing. It may not be the yo-yo I carry in my pocket, but anytime I’m working on a hard new trick, I usually pull this thing out.

Skills:

Making yo-yo string- I finally learned how to make my own yo-yo string. It’s terribly addicting.

Cooking nuts- Honestly, I just wanted to have two things for each section. Yeah, I’m taking walnuts and pecans, covering them in honey and butter, then roasting them for delicious snacks, but is that really a skill?

New discoveries of older things

Superhot: Hi [friend_name_here], you have to check out this game. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

Avatar: I always assumed this show was pretty lame, but after hearing this Imaginary Worlds episode, I felt compelled to check it out. My jaw dropped as I discovered each episode was better than the other. It’s incredible! In every way, how did they ever make this on Nickelodeon? And the sequel, featuring Kora, is just as good!

 

Humble Bundle’s Fall Sale: The 20 games you need to buy!

A few days ago, Humble Bundle launched their massive Humble Store Fall Sale with huge discounts on thousands of games. There are some great deals there so I wanted to put together my list of 20 games that you need to buy this week.

Two notes before I get started though: We love the “console gaming” experience. So this list is only geared towards games that look great on a big screen tv and play great with a controller. If you have a PC around, I highly recommend getting an X-Box style controller like this (or the wireless version here) and an HDMI cable and just leaving Steam in “Big Picture” mode.

Second, since I’m a Humble Bundle monthly subscriber, I have a link I can share that should generate an additional 10% off of any games on this list. Try it out and let me know if it works. There’s no membership needed to redeem it, so might as well try it out. Now, onto the games:

Crawl $14.99 $6.74

Easily our favorite game of the year. Crawl is a roguelike party game that starts off with a set of desperate adventures killing each other in order to survive an adventure gone wrong. A winner emerges and continues their quest through the caves, but is haunted by the ghosts of the other players. The art is fantastic, the game is ADDICTIVE, and the humor is spot on. It’s even fun in single player mode. Top of my list… buy it buy it buy it!

Superhot $24.99 $13.49
This game is even better than I thought it would be, which is crazy because I thought it was going to be GREAT. It’s a first person shooter where time only moves where you do. Basically, it makes you feel like Neo in the Matrix… or Braid meets Halo. The end result feels like more of a strategy/puzzle solving game than a typical shoot ’em up.

Rogue Legacy $14.99 $2.69

Another roguelike that’s incredibly addictive. If you aren’t familiar, roguelikes are games that auto-generate unique levels that no-one else will ever encounter again. Roguelikes are usually top down, but as the definition has broadened, we’ve started to see more and more roguelike platformers. Spelunky is probably the most popular of which, but Rogue Legacy is more my cup of tea. Every time you die, a new and unique hero is created. Don’t get too attached though, because the levels can be pretty crazy.

Inside $19.99 $8.99

A puzzle solving platformer from the creators of Limbo. Nuff said.
Haven’t played Limbo yet? You should probably fix that too.

The Stanley Parable $13.99 $3.36

Trust me.

Tooth And Tail $19.99 $12.59

I’m already a fan of rodent themed real time strategy games, but Tooth and Tail is so much more than that. It’s strategic, but with a more casual feel (compared to Starcraft). As I said before, all the games on this list are intended to work well with a controller, but it’s rare to find an RTS that works well with a controller.

Undertale $9.99 $4.49

We’ve been waiting a long time for this game to go on sale. It’s one of those games that all of your friends will say “You have to get it”, but you never do… until now because it’s on sale. It’s worth it.

Conarium $19.99 $10.79

One of the few “Lovecraftian” games that actually gets it right. It’s extremely beautiful and well researched game based on At the Mountains of Madness. Takes about a weekend to play, which is just perfect for me.

Sproggiwood $14.99 $2.69

Another roguelike game, but one that plays great with a controller. I saw the creators of this game give a talk at Roguelike Celebration in SF last weekend. Imagine my surprise when I went to go buy it and discovered it was on sale for 80% off! I’ve been playing it non-stop ever since.

Hollow Knight $14.99 $8.90

Gorgeous and fun. Get it while it’s on sale.

Rain World $19.99 $7.19

I backed this game on Kickstarter a few years ago and have no regrets. It’s a pixel art game with an eye for detail and characters that seem to come alive in front of you. There are so many small little animations and quirks that really make this game feel like a living creature.

Nidhogg $9.99 $6.29

This is one of those games that everybody needs to own. The basic premise is that it’s a fencing game, filled with strategy and timing. It’s weird and addictive and I just want to master it. I need to master it.

Everything $14.99 $7.41

Imagine a game where you could play as everything. The dog, the car, the beetle, the galaxy, a bacterium. Everything is a game unlike anything else you’ve ever played. In fact, I wouldn’t even describe it as a game. Our favorite way to play Everything is to set a couple simple rules, then sit back and watch as the game explores itself. It’s hard to explain, but a real work of art. In fact, I wish I could have a digital picture frame that just has Everything running on it all the time, so I could just walk by and see some new perspective at any given time. Designed by David O’Reilly and distribute by Double Fine.

Crypt of the Necrodancer $14.99 $3.36

A roguelike dungeon explorer with a really cool rhythm mechanic added to it. Plays great with a controller and fun in single player or multiplayer mode.

Literally everything by Double Fine

Some great deals here. Psychonauts, Costume Quest 2, Stacking, Massive Chalice, Headlander, Iron Brigade, Brutal Legend. Just buy them all.

Let me know if I missed any good deals, but if it doesn’t have full controller support, I don’t want to hear about. Full controller or it isn’t worth mentioning.

Don’t forget, use this link before you buy your games for an additional 10% off. I don’t get a referral or anything, I’m just sharing it because why not.

One more thing, Steam is also doing their own sale this weekend and there are some great games there. I especially recommend picking up Ronin, a fantastic platformer that switches into a turn based strategy game when in combat. I had my doubts, but this system works fantastic and I highly recommend this game and any others by Devolver Digital.

 

Happy 808 day, hear some new songs and demos from Sweet Ride

I’ve been cranking out a bunch of songs lately, on both acoustic and electronic devices. It’s been a blast to be diving into music again. Most of the electronic tunes I’ve been working on were intended to be used for our Sweet Ride video game (which is still in the works), but I’ve already got more than I need for that. So maybe these will appear somewhere else. These tunes are created with hard hitting drums, lots of bass, lo-fi synths, and acoustic toy samples. Here are a few previews of those new tracks:

Bonus, today is #808day (named after the famous 808 drum machine, known for it’s low tuned kickdrum). So it’s a perfect day to share these tracks.

 

GIFs from Akira, the 1988 video game for Nintendo’s Famicom system

Last night I booted up Akira on an NES emulator and did my best to live-GIF the experience. Akira is one of my all-time favorite films and I remember hearing rumors of a 8-bit videogame version released in 1988, but it was only released in Japan for the Famicom. 25 years later, some volunteers worked their asses off to create an updated NES version of the ROM with english translations.

The game sucks. It’s filled with amazing pixel art and a really interesting (and at times experimental) chiptune soundtrack, but it’s downright painful to play without step by step instructions. It often requires clicking on an option that is hard to find (or off screen), or some convoluted sequence of clicks that require clicking on the same option a number of times even though the answers don’t change. At some point it briefly turns into a 1st person shooter, as you dodge bullets in the sewer, that’s super twitchy and kills you instantly, requiring a long slog through various dialogue options just to instantly die again. I hate this game so much.

But the graphics are incredible, so I captured a bunch of GIFs of the game’s best moments. You can download the ROM here and follow this guide for the best experience. FYI, I made it all the way to the final “boss fight” with Tetsuo and Kaneda before the game just glitched out. I’ll have to try another play through to get the ending animations, which I assume are beautiful.


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