Christmas Eve(s)

I love cryptic titles. Why the potential for a plural, you might ask? This year, much like last year, I’m having a few different Christmas celebrations. We’re having a Northern Irish family Christmas celebration this weekend, and I’m celebrating standard Christmas with Sarah’s family.

The last few months have flown by. August was dominated by wedding preparations and the new job. September, the wedding. October, daily post mortems. November, the Berlin honeymoon. And now we’re well into December, and I’ve still got research work to do. Hectic is one word for it. Certainly not dull.

Public art box
Wacky, wonderful Berlin. We weren’t brave enough to press (Photo Credit: Adam Douglas)

My weeks are split between Cardiff and Bridgwater, which is less than ideal but can’t be helped at present. Cardiff has become familiar, and I’m enjoying living in the Welsh capital, but I can’t help but feel like I’m passing through. A transient. A working migrant. It’s hard to put down roots on a rolling stone, to mix some metaphors. Of course I know that attitude is completely unhelpful, but it’s always in the back of my mind. I’m staying in a room. A nice room, but a room all the same, and seeing friends settle down in their own homes can be hard while I’m here in self-imposed exile.

Then I remember how much I’m enjoying the job, and living in a new city. And how much there is still to discover. And realise that melodrama seldom serves to improve things. I’ve got it pretty good, and aside from minor setbacks and clashes with colleagues, I’m happy here.

Enough with the identity crisis, I hear you say. What of the games?!

A typical scene from SUPERHOT


Time moves only when you do.

Sound interesting? Is it a turn based game? Strategy? RPG? Nope. Released in 2016, SUPERHOT is a first person shooter where running in guns blazing won’t do much good. Time only progresses when you move, so looking around, walking, shooting – all of these will move time forward. What would’ve been a tense gun battle in another game turns into a calculated step by step strategy to dispatch all the enemies as efficiently as possible.

Empty your clip into two enemies. Throw your gun at the third. Grab his gun as it flies out of his hands, and take him and the guy next to him. Turn around and discover you’ve narrowly missed a shotgun blast. Dodge left, then right. Pick up the katana and throw it at the gunner.

Just play it

Don’t conflate having time to think with relaxation, however. As the levels progress, the tension ramps up. The timing between enemy spawns decreases. Their weapons become more dangerous. And while they only take one bullet before shuffling off this mortal coil, so do you. You can’t afford one mistake, so your plans become tighter and tighter. Every action a calculated risk.

And that’s just the gameplay. The story is focused around a gamer hacking into a company server, with the help of a friend, to access a virtual reality game. Things get real pretty quickly and soon threats start to appear from the system itself. I shall be light on the details, as I think it’s a game worth exploring and playing yourself. The main story took about three hours to complete on my playthrough, and that was hardly rushing through.

There’s plenty of replayability too, with a variety of conditional challenges such as completing the game using only the katana, and you can record gameplay clips in game and upload to the SUPERHOT Video Portal. (Click the link to see one of my clips)

It’s hard to describe, so the best thing you can do is go out and buy it. Or get it on Steam. It’s not like you need to go out and get a physical copy these days. I sort of miss the days of big box games, though apparently they’re still alive and well in Taiwan!

Big box games are alive and well in Taiwan (Photo Credit: PC Gamer)

Retro Games

I’m a sucker when it comes to old games and gaming paraphernalia, and I’ve been looking for a good case for my Raspberry Pi for a while now. I almost bit the bullet and bought a case modelled after the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but I was scrolling through HotUKDeals the other week and came across something I couldn’t resist. A Raspberry Pi case modelled on the original Sega Mega Drive. A thing of beauty, and surprisingly well made. Installation was a breeze as the Pi just hooked up to one connector. Pictures speak volumes.

Merry Christmas!

The MegaPi case (Photo Credit: Adam Douglas)

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