The 2017 Gaming Expenditure Horror


It’s that time again. When I cry my eyes out over the amount of money I’ve wasted on veedayo games in the previous year. Surely I’ve learned my lesson this year, yeah? Especially since there haven’t been any consoles I’ve ne–oh crap the Switch.

Previously on Gaming Expenditure Horror:

2010 – £590.32
2011 – £888.22
2012 – £834.48
2013 – £342.82
2014 – £464.92
2015 – £932.92
2016 – £964.02
2017 – £734.87

Hurrah! I made it! Finally, I’ve reversed the trend, and spending is on the decline. Even though I bought a Nintendo Switch (£279.85), and some stuff for it like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Special Edition (£58.21), a pair of neon joycon (£79.85), a Switch Pro Controller (£54.99) and Super Mario Odyssey (£35.14). In fact, just these Switch items account for over two thirds of the total – £508.04. With a fair few Switch eShop titles on top, it’s been a mostly Switch-spent year.

As always, let’s do some breakdowns. Starting with the hardware/software split:

Given what I said, that’s hardly a surprise.

What about which platforms I spent money on?

Again, not really a surprise. The Switch has had a knock-on effect on both the PS4 (which, compared to 2016, I’ve barely played) and the 3DS (ditto).  The Wii U has virtually disappeared, as I expected once the Switch came out, and everything else remains much the same as before. Which is to say, mostly zero.

PC and Mac are hanging on in there. I played a few more of them this year.

And the final chart:

Last year, I bucked the trend with an increase in the physical purchase percentage, after it previously decreasing year-on-year. I’m back on the trend line now though, with downloads once more taking more of my money.

Looking at how many games I bought last year – 155 – that’s a drop over last year’s 198. A large number of them were free or almost free PC and Mac games from various deals and bundles too. Unfortunately, another dropis the number of games I completed: Just 65 compared to 2016’s 110. That said, there were a lot of very long games (Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, Persona 4 Golden, Stardew Valley to name just four) last year.

Still. There’s no hardware due in 2018, so maybe there’ll be further improvements to this game purchase situation. Maybe.


Pokémon Gone

Everybody’s dead, Dave.

That’s it. I’m free. No more walking eggs, no more staring at my phone everywhere I go, no longer will my phone battery need charging five times a day. Pokémon Go is over.

Well, not yet, but soon. Niantic have announced that in February, Apple devices that can’t run iOS 11 will no longer be able to run Pokémon Go. Since I can’t run iOS 11, I can’t keep playing, and I’m damned if I’m buying a new phone just for one “game”.

It’s a shame, but in a way I’m glad. It’s given me a reason to stop. I’d say it’s been fun but actually, has it? Collecting all the monsters hasn’t been feasible, the gyms have been broken so they serve no purpose other than to provide me with coins, trading Pokémon never happened, and raids are impossible (and mostly pointless). I have to wonder why I was playing, and honestly, I can’t think of a single reason.

So I’ve stopped now. There’s nothing to gain from playing for another 6 or 7 weeks and then having it switched off, so why wait? It’s gone.

Goodbye Dave, Dave, Dave and Dave. And Dave. Poor Dave.

2017 Game of the Year, The Actual 2017 Game of the Year

Which is the game of the year, of the year 2017.

I’ve gone done and told you some great games that were not the best games of 2017 (that I played for the first time in 2017, remember) in parts 1 and 2. Some great, great games in there, Brent. But you’ll notice that I’ve already discounted two highly likely winners of the prize – Mario and Zelda.

Which leaves what, then? Did you guess? And don’t think that big picture at the start of this post (or thumbnail in your RSS reader, or in a broken position on the page because you’re reading this in 2034 and WordPress themes have moved on and aren’t properly backwards compatible and anyway who needs images now when your eyes have been replaced with bionic implants that source stuff straight from the AOLWeb?) gives it away, because that’s a decoy. Although oh my, what a decoy.

Continue reading “2017 Game of the Year, The Actual 2017 Game of the Year”

2017 Game of the Year, Part 2

Part 2 of the list of the best games I played for the first time in 2017. Again, they’re in no particular order, but they are better games than those in Part 1. Although those in Part 1 were great too. Erm. After this there’ll be one more post with the Actual Best Game of 2017, which isn’t any of these.

SteamWorld Heist (3DS)

I’ve no idea why it took me so long to jump into this. I like turn based strategy games, I loved the aesthetic of SteamWorld Dig, and the reviews (from people I trust especially) were very complimentary. When I finally did buy it – oh my was it great.

A side-on, platformy strategy turn based shooter was waiting for me. And I loved every minute. Bought the DLC. 100%ed the game. Outstanding game. Just a little too short, perhaps? If I had to choose something negative, I mean.

I’m hoping for a sequel in 2018. Got on it, Image & Form!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Waaaait a minute, I hear you cry. Zelda wasn’t Game of the Year? Nope, sorry.

It was excellent. It took everything I liked about 3D Zelda games (er, it being Zelda, mainly) and took out or changed everything that I hated about them. It’s open world, it’s mostly completely choose your own path. There’s loads to find, tonnes to do, and it’s slick and clever and just a bit… disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best games this year. It’s the best 3D Zelda by a long way. But being unable to climb walls when it’s raining, no proper dungeons, and (Lynels aside) an almost complete lack of any sort of challenge temper that a bit. But it’s really very, very good. Honest.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm (PS4)

I mentioned this on the ugvm podcast, and on my diary so won’t go over it all again here, except to say this: it’s a fantastic, gripping story, but it’s not as epic or interesting as the original Life is Strange. Before the Storm is still absolutely worth your time, though, even if Chloe isn’t Chloe.

Gorogoa (Switch)

This came in late in 2017. Very late, in fact – in the very last week of the year. But I completed it and felt very clever.

It’s a point and click puzzle adventure game with an unusual method of solving puzzles that’s too long winded to explain here. You feel like you’re juggling several puzzles at once in your head, and needing to re-arrange scenes on the screen (and separate “slices” of them out) just adds several layers of confusion and complexity to them.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch)

I suppose years ago, I wouldn’t have given this a second look. However, you may have seen that a while back I ran through all the Mega Man and Mega Man X titles, and I also enjoyed the (freebie) original Mighty Gunvolt – which was basically Mega Man in different clothes.

Well, Mighty Gunvolt Burst takes Mighty Gunvolt and ramps it up into a full Mega Man experience. With elemental bosses, that provide weapons to help defeat other bosses weak to those element. There’s a massively deep and varied upgrade system for both moves and attacks, and if that wasn’t enough there’s a whole separate character (with different skills) to play as too. Then they added a third character!

One of the best platformers of the year and so replayable. I’ve completed it about 8 times now, if you need some sort of proof.

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Switch)

Also one of the best platformers of the year, is SteamWorld Dig 2.

I loved the first game. I bought it twice, in fact. This sequel improves on it in almost every way possible though – it’s bigger, more varied, has a better story, has more interesting upgrades, has less grinding for money, and, well, is just better OK? OK.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

Also one of the best platformers of the year, is Super Mario Odyssey.

Sure, I’ve been quite dismissive of it. At the end, with the grinding coins to buy moons, I was actively hating it. If you don’t go for 100% though, and stop playing once you’ve had enough (which was around 500 of the 999 moons for me), then it’s hard to fault it.

It looks glorious. The originally un-Mario soundtrack and un-Mario graphics, over time, became “normal” for Mario and what was originally a mess of art styles just worked. It’s creative, Mario is a joy to control, and although it’s not the followup to Mario 64 I really wanted I can’t argue that until it outstays its welcome it’s utterly sublime.

It just has too many damn moons!

Stardew Valley (Switch)

I’d owned this for ages, unplayed, on Steam, but the problem with Steam is that is isn’t on the Switch. So when Stardew Valley appeared on that, I jumped on it.

It’s really just a clone of Harvest Moon, only how Harvest Moon on the SNES would have been if it continued evolving without changing graphically that much. If that makes sense. Everything is – or can be with the right tools or items – streamlined. You open shortcuts to places to save all the walking. You can sell anything by just sticking it in a box next to your house. Crops can be watered automatically. Animals can be fed automatically.

If I’m not selling it, then put it this way: I played it for 120 hours. 120! That’s more than any other game last year.

So then. Can you guess which game I’ve missed? Which title is my Game of the Year, 2017? It’s not Zelda or Mario, look – I’ve already mentioned them. Find out next time! How exciting.

2017 Game of the Year, Part 1

Once more, it is time to declare which game was the best game of all games in 2017. Once more, I will always be right. And, once more, the rule is that the game was played by me for the first time in 2017, rather than came out in 2017.

With that said, here are the games that didn’t quite make it, in no particular order:

Lego City Undercover (Switch)

Already I’ve broken the only rule I’ve given myself, as I first played this a few years ago when it was a Wii U exclusive. However! The Switch version is two player, where the original was single player only, and playing the entire thing in co-op was new. Sort of. It’s still a fantastic game, and mostly fixes the terrible loading times from the Wii U version (which was perhaps the only fault), so it gets a mention here.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

Like Unity before it, which made last year’s list, Syndicate is a flawed gem. The assassining hasn’t been this good in ages. The missions were mostly pretty good. Jacob wasn’t as good as Evie to control, granted, but still – it’s a step above the already pretty good Unity.

As with all games in the series, there are bugs which threaten to ruin the game but luckily are mainly just of the funny variety here. Being set in London added to the experience, too, I think.

It’s not perfect, but it’s excellent. So good, in fact, that I even went and got all the collectables and did all the side missions, as well as some of the DLC.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

A graphical and aural facelift for a game that was always brilliant. The gameplay is old school, it’s pretty difficult, and plays exactly like the Master System original. Which is exactly what I wanted, really.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PS4)

Shooting giant insects and robots never gets old. Climbing into a giant robot and punching a skyscraper sized lizard in the face is even better.

Sure, even though it’s pretty much a retread of EDF 2017 on the Xbox 360, and yes – it might look only a bit better and it still suffers from the worst slowdown ever seen despite the extra power of the PS4 – but that doesn’t matter. Shooting giant ants, man. Giant ants.

Kamiko (Switch)

A short, but fun little hack and slash (or aim and shoot, if you choose the archer) game with some simple puzzles and some Titan Souls-looking visuals and bosses. It’s never going to be the best game of the year, but it’s cheap and I enjoyed it a lot, completing it with all three characters and unlocking everything.

Hitman (PS4)

That’s Hitman as in, the recent Hitman not the old Hitman from waaaaay back. After the terrible mis-step that was Hitman Absolution, Agent 47 was properly back in a series of episodes, each set in completely different scenarios and each with a hundred solutions.

The sheer number of ways you can assassinate your targets, by stealth, by cunning, by sniper rifle, by boobytrapping, by proxy… it’s incredible. There were so many “surely I can’t” moments where I found, why yes, yes you can. And it was funny too.

Definitely the best Hitman game.

Bye-Bye Box Boy! (3DS)

It’s not a big name, it’s not a well known series, but Boy Boy’s third title is another excellent platform puzzler that somehow manages to twist the formula a little more over the first two games.

I felt it was a bit easier than previous titles, but I love the art style and the variety in what is essentially a simple premise, and it’s one of the best games on the 3DS eShop.

And that’s it for Part 1. Part 2 will have some more games. Better games than these, even! But will it have the best game of 2017? No. That’ll be later.

The ugvm Podcast is still happening

And I’m just as surprised as anyone.

We’ve done four proper (and one pilot) episodes now. There’s a scattershot selection of ugvm colleagues joining me each time, we’re still tweaking the formula (and the recording method), and the “let’s make it an hour long” goal is now a running joke. But here we are, and I think it’s pretty decent actually.

I’ve no reason to suspect, or even hope for, mass recognition and we’re just one of a billion videogame podcasts, but that isn’t really important. We’ve listeners outside of the ugvm group. We’ve had positive feedback and constructive criticism. That’s not really important either, to be honest. No, I’m finding the best bit is just having a chat about games with some mates. Some of whom I’d never actually spoken to.

Anywho, Episode 4 went up this week. We chatted about lootcrates and Mario and Sonic and all sorts. You can find it here.

Play Want Bin Expense: 2017-11-20

I had a Switch once.

It’s been a while. Well, a short while.


Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
Don’t think that because I put the game down, I put the game down. If you see what I mean. No, because it’s definitely a very good game – there’s no question about that. It just isn’t the best game. Anyway, I’ve gone on about that elsewhere a lot. Now, I’m well into post-game Moon Collectathon and although in some cases the difficulty level has increased, making it more enjoyable, in many it hasn’t. I’ve also hit a bug because I’ve collected 97/100 purple doofers in the Sand Kingdom, but I can’t find the other three. Even following a guide, I’ve collected all 100 but the counter still says 97. Annoying.

Stardew Valley (Switch)
Quite a bit more of this, but playing both Stardew Valley and Mario is hard now because my daughter keeps stealing the Switch for herself. When I do get a change to play, I’m mostly farming the hell out of my, er, farm, while I wait for the relative down-period of Winter so I can attempt the desert mine properly.

Bye-Bye BoxBoy! (3DS)
So I’ve started playing this in Switchless moments. Not that I’m complaining because it’s very good! It’s more of the same sort of stuff as the first two games with some new twists, but that’s fine with me. I think I’ve almost completed it too.


Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) as always.


Not having two Switches.


I got The Lego Ninjago Movie The Videogame for the Switch for essentially free with Nectar points.

Also free from various places, were Syberia (Mac), Watch_dogs (PC) and Killer is Dead (PC). Yay for free!

Game Dev Diary: Run Baby Run v0.03

No, not the Sheryl Crow song.

Now let me just point out a few things here before I begin:

  • Yes, it has been a long time since I did any game dev stuff
  • No, I have no idea if I’ll finish this
  • Run Baby Run is the best game ever

When I was doing Asset Reuse Invaders, the level table I developed for the invaders made me wonder if I could use the same thing to create a level map for a maze. Then I thought, what if I used the levels from Run Baby Run? Then I thought: what if I remade Run Baby Run?

Then 12 year old me’s brain exploded.

I looked into it a bit further, and found that the levels on the Spectrum original were 32 “tiles” wide, and 22 tiles high. On the Spectrum, each tile is 8×8 pixels, but if I use 4×4 tiles, then 32 tiles fit exactly into the 128 pixel wide PICO-8 display.

I had to do it. Or at least try. The normal mapping method used by PICO-8 relies on 8×8 pixel tiles, so I had to create my own – reusing what I’d learned from the level table structure of my invaders game.

Yes, there’s a way of compressing this or something, but I’m not short on space (yet) and it makes it easier to see in the code. I don’t know why I’ve done level 2 (Huddersfield Foundry) first, but it doesn’t matter.

The code to turn this into an image on the screen is:

And so, this (from the Spectrum):

Magically becomes this, on PICO-8:

Not bad, eh?

That was my first job. My second task was making the car rotate correctly. I managed that successfully, complicated slightly by creating the car out of two 4×4 pixel sprites rather than one single sprite. There’s a reason for this, which I can’t quite remember now, but has something to do with collisions. Then I ran into issues with collisions, so the rotation code needs to be partially re-written. Regardez:

It’s too fast, obviously, but the big issue is that although head-on collisions with the walls is correctly identified, turning left and right into them is not. I’ve identified this is down to the order in which the rotation and the collision detection take place, but to change it means the rotation code needs re-writing.