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Christmas Catch-up: Gaming

Posted: December 27th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Gridrunner Revolution (PC)
Jeff Minter’s last game “Space Giraffe” alienated as many players as it enchanted thanks to a steep initial difficulty curve and psychedelic visuals that took some time to become accustomed to.  Those who put in the effort found a rich and addictive re-invention of “Tempest”, but they were sadly too few in number.  At first glance, “Gridrunner Revolution” appears to be a step too far the in the other direction.  The latest in his “Gridrunner” series of abstract top-down shooters which dates back to the venerable Commodore Vic-20, all 200 levels of “Revolution” can be blasted through in a few hours by a skilled player, but that would be missing the point.  Playing the game to completion is one thing, but the point is to play it well, milking its complex scoring mechanic for all its worth.  It’s a pity then, that beyond beating your own score there was very little indication of what “well” actually meant.  Thankfully, a recent update has added online high-score tables, making it a different prospect indeed.  If you own a reasonably modern PC and like to see things explode in pretty colours, you owe it to yourself to get over to llamasoft.co.uk and buy a copy.  (Alex McChesney)

Scrabble DS
I am in the unfortunate situation of being part of a family who are really, annoyingly, good at Scrabble, whereas I am just adequate. Playing with them is pretty much torture as they play all those stupid Scrabble words and never open up the triple word score spaces. Thus I have been enjoying Scrabble DS for two reasons – 1) I can play against ‘Arnold’, a slab-faced blockhead who probably can’t spell his own name correctly and will happily leave a triple word score open for two rounds, and 2) there are no penalties for attempting to play non-words, which means I have discovered a whole plethora of new, stupid, unbelievable words (and their definitions!) by just randomly trying out combinations when stuck. I only gave up playing this when I unlocked the final character and discovered it was a living Scrabble tile with a worrying expression. No way was I playing against that. (Marceline Smith)

Dead Rising (Xbox)
Haven’t done much of it this year, but thoroughly enjoyed my time with  Dead Rising on the Xbox. Admittedly I’m a latecomer to it, but it’s DAWN OF THE DEAD THE VIDEO GAME. They should just have put a big sticker with that on it all over the front and it’d have sold more copies. You can mow down zombies with lawnmowers and chainsaws and giant lipstick cases, and it judges the shambling, stupid but inevitably crushing waves of zombies really well. (Stuart Fowkes)

Guitar Hero
Once more my computer gaming experience did not get much further than Guitar Hero, the victorious culmination of which came during the recent ATP and while The Mars Volta were playing in the background I found myself rocking out to “Sunshine Of Your Love” on the arcade version. (JGRAM)

Possibly that was my choice last year, too. (Simon Minter)

So simple. Only one key is used (space bar). The goal is to keep running as long as possible. You run on top of and through buildings while some giant alien robots chase you. It looks great, it sounds great. There really is nothing more to it. I can’t remember the last time I was so addicted to a game, let alone one played in a web browser. Just remember, you can always run farther. Link (Justin Snow)

Left For Dead
I am not one for computer games but the speed with which technology moves blew my mind earlier this year when up in Glasgow. After finishing a band practise, 2 of our troop parted with the words “I’ll speak to you in a bit” and I thought to myself, “wow, these guys are tight. They’re going to call each other up for a chat after practise!”. Nope. They meant they were going to strap on headsets and mics and blow living shit out of (quite racially suspect it has to be said) zombies in Left For Dead. Turns out most of the indie musicians in Scotland can be found doing the same after 11pm at night. Not for me though, I get motion sickness. (Chris Summerlin)

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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