Top Downloadable Games August 2010


“Summer has faded away, and school is back in session, but that hasn’t stopped the flow of great downloadable games. In this month’s exploration of downloadable gaming delights, we jump into high speed racing boats, corral strange monsters on a dangerous planet, pummel 8-bit baddies to win a girl’s affections, and explore a mirror-image kingdom.”

Check out the full column here at What They Play.

PTOM September 2010 Issue Contributions

Things will be changing up a bit starting out in the Nov. Issue, but I’ll still be contributing to the monthly PSN coverage and other areas of PTOM beyond that point. In the meantime, peep my two-page PSN review spread on pages 90 and 91. This month I tackle the excellent Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West, Rocket Knight, Tecmo Bowl Throwback, Super Stacker, and Soldner-X2: Final Prototype among others. I also have a full page review of Joe Danger on page 82 that’s worth checking out. In case you’re not in the know: get it…immediately. Great game. That is all!

Free Bytes: Mirage


“If you’ve ever had a freaky craving to suddenly fire shards of broken glass at weird bags of pulsating meat, then hoo boy do we have the right game for you. Many travels through the darkest, most obscure nether reaches of the freeware indie gaming world have unearthed some strange and beautiful projects, but scant few are as beautiful and creepy as Mirage. As far as we can tell, you play as a boy who fell in love with some girl, touched a magic mirror to peep her bodacious beauty, and then wind up cursed for being naughty. You’re suddenly trans”

Check out the full column here at IGN.

Free Bytes: Shoot First


“Like milk and cookies, some combinations of very different game genres just go so well together. Ironically, it’s often the least obvious combinations that sometimes mesh the best. That’s the case with this week’s downloadable freebie. Ever wondered what might happen if a roguelike and a retro arcade shooter had a one night stand resulting in unexpected mutant offspring? Look no further than Shoot First – a game loaded with mind-blowing dungeon-crawling, pistol-toting awesomeness.”

Check out the full column here at IGN.

PTOM Print Contributions August 2010 Issue

Hey gang, the August issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine is out and about. Awww, isn’t it cute? Here’s a quick rundown of the stuff I have in it. On pages 90 and 91, the PSN Games section is loaded with (mostly) good stuff. This time around I tackled After Burner Climax, The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, Patchwork Heroes, Hyperballoid HD, and NBA Unrivaled. I have some other good stuff coming up in the next few issues, including some larger PSN game coverage. Thanks!

Chip Bits: The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth

I first stumbled across Famicom indie rockers The Depreciation Guild way back in 2006 before the first Blip Festival and was immediately sucked into their absorbing, 8-bit infused shoegazey rock sound. While many artists drawing from the chip music world focus on a purist approach revolving around a favored piece of old school gaming hardware, this group used the retro bleeps and noise hits to drive a very different kind of musical vibe awash in reverb-laden guitars and subdued melodies. Their second full length album, Spirit Youth, showcases an incredible amount of polish and a substantive evolution in the band’s sound.

Listening to Spirit Youth, it’s clear the band has grown and undergone some changes over the years. Where their first album In Her Gentle Jaws showcased more of a raw, edgy sound that was bathed heavily in the pleasant sounds of the Nintendo Famicom, Spirit Youth ventures into musical territory situated on the poppier, safer end of the spectrum. The 8-bit sounds are frequently relegated to the background on most tracks,  leaving the listener wondering if there even there at times. That’s a bit disappointing, considering how prominently they factored into the earlier songs – something I enjoyed immensely about the band’s music. But the familiar 8-bit sounds do shine through the highly polished studio mix, and the songwriting remains as tight as ever.

It took some time to adjust to the melded sound, but Spirit Youth got it’s hooks in me soon enough. While the opener, My Chariot, immediately fired off an introductory barrage of NES synth arpeggios, it was the upbeat and melancholy bounce of Crucify You that first grew on me. Midway through the album, the melodic Sonic Youth-esque guitar licks in Trace blended nicely with the subtle downward synth drone in the chorus, making for another standout track. Through the Snow‘s urgent, driving beat and strong undercurrent of pulse channel noodling was equally appealing. Other songs filled in the gaps pleasantly, showcasing the band’s tight musicianship, meticulous guitar work, and ample vocal prowess. There’s not a dud among the lot, though the stylistic peaks and valleys between tracks doesn’t seem as stark as those found among the group’s prior work. 

Compared to In Her Gentle Jaws, The Depreciation Guild’s latest effort is a very different animal. It’s a big departure that perhaps plays it safe a little too often. Yet this follow-up album is a tightly crafted effort that I can highly recommend nonetheless. You can pick up a copy of Spirit Youth from Kanine Records.

New 8-bit Indie Tunes Free Download

Ok, I’ve been “chipping” away at writing and recording some new 8-bit indie rock tunes using my old school Game Boy DMG, LSDJ, and my trusty old six string. I’ve got three new tunes recorded at the moment for what will be my next full album, and I’m posting this here for regular readers to check out, download, and provide feedback on. These tunes don’t have names yet, they’re not necessarily the final mixes, and they’re simply the first pass at recording and mixing the tunes. I’d love to get some feedback on these few songs, particularly in how they contrast to the six songs on The Beacon e.p. (which you can still download for free, by the way, but I do like $3 donations for the effort). In any event, here are the three new songs for you to check out and critique:

Song 1 (download here)
Song 2 (download here)
Song 3 (download here)

Free Bytes: Igneous


“The last thing anyone wants to have to deal with when just waking up from a nice, cozy slumber is a massive wall of molten lava barreling down on them. As a little square totem creature residing in a dank underground cavern filled with ancient ruins, this is exactly the dangerous predicament you find yourself forced to deal with in Igneous, a well-crafted project put together by a group of students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology. Assuming you don’t want to meet a fiery demise, it’s time to roll.”

Check out the full column here at IGN.

Free Bytes: Nimbus Sky Princess


“When the king doesn’t seem terribly interested in dropping what he’s doing in order to save the poor kidnapped Prince Lucious from the clutches of the evil Pod Empire, his adolescent daughter steps up to the plate. Princess Nimbus might be young and bratty, but she’s packing a need for speed and an itchy trigger finger. Hopping into a pimped-out fighter craft and stealing off into the skies above, the daring princess sets out to rescue her capture sibling by blowing the Pod forces out the sky. Evildoers beware: Nimbus Sky Princess is locked, loaded, and read to kick some Pod ass.”

Check out the full column here at IGN.