Author Archives: DigitalGumballs

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DigitalGumballs.com. It's a party in your mouth. Also: video games!

Review: Little Inferno

Little Inferno is this weird little puzzle game from the makers of World of Goo. Honestly, I had never heard of it before I saw it sitting there in the Wii U digital store, looking all interesting and different and only $10. It was the video embedded above that sold me on it. Dark humor? Old timey-time jingles? Kids burning all their childhood memories? That sounded exactly like the kind of thing I needed to break in my brand-new Wii U (thanks, Santa!). And boy, am I glad I did. Little Inferno is terrific. Continue reading

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The First Annual Digital Gumballs Game of the Year Awards

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

2012 is nearly over. Now is the time where we look back on the last twelve months and compare where we are now with where we were at the end of 2011. Personally, I’m in a much better place. A new town, a new job, a new giant plasma television… lots of new. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is just how few new AAA titles I’m willing to pay $60 to play. And then, two months later when they drop to half price, nobody even wants to talk about them anymore. So I don’t play them new, and I don’t play them old, but I’m still playing games constantly. A few have really sucked me in this year, and I need to recognize them, and you might even like to try them yourselves if you missed them the first time around. I’ll talk to you about them, I promise!

There were five games this year that pulled me in like few before (well… seven, but Dark Souls is technically a 2011 game even though I didn’t fall in love with it before this year because of Skyrim, and Picross DS is from 2007, although that didn’t stop me from playing it for an entire month of 2012). For me, it’s not about the graphics, or the sound design, or the game mascot, or the controls. The best games to me are the ones that most successfully make you feel like you’re in this different world. Those games that you dream about long after they’re finished. The games you wish you could experience again for the first time. Five games to change the world. Continue reading

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Why Do I Have So Many Games? It’s for the Kids.

Those aren't my sideburns.

My lady, sitting in front of the wall of games in our living room, asked me if I’d want to sell any of them. “No,” I said. “Not even…?” “No. I’m keeping them all.”

Sure, it’s kind of a pain when I have to move halfway across the country and literally half of my boxes are full of gaming gear. And there are plenty of games I’ve never even started, and plenty more that I’ll never play again. But why-oh-why do I insist on keeping hundreds of discs and cartridges from the last 30 years strewn around the house, in an ever-expanding tribute to my own obsessive geekdom? It’s not for me. It’s for my kids. I mean, eventually. Continue reading

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Game Journalism, #1reasonwhy, and the Revenge of the Personal Essay

Fake gamer guys

This week has been a little bit different in the world of game journalism. I mean, there’s still the occasional tasteless PR stunt to remind us that most game companies are just… bad at so many things, but this was also the week of #1reasonwhy. The deluge of  personal writing that has spawned from seemingly out of nowhere this week has been tremendous. I cried once.

And much of this writing, in an industry that still feels incredibly unbalanced for many of the 1reasons put forth on Twitter this week, was from women. The fairer sex has in one week proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that full gender equality in the video game universe would be better for everyone (do some people still think misogyny is a good idea?), and I’m going to highlight a few of the things that you need to read. Continue reading

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Hasbro Family Game Night 4: A Microcosm of the Industry’s Laziness

BALLINNNNNNN

For $9.99, I picked up a copy of Hasbro Family Game Night 4: The Game Show on Black Friday. Something fun and light to play with the girlfriend, you know. After having a good experience with the original FGN a few years ago, I was curious to see how far they’d come. And Kinect stuff, too? Should be good. The games themselves are okay, if a lot more “video game-y” than past Game Nights. But when compared to the earlier entries in the series, it’s obvious just how little EA tried (or cared) this time around.

Then I got to thinking: this isn’t a problem limited to Hasbro and EA. But it is a perfect small-scale example of many of the problems with games today. Continue reading

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THQ’s Humble Bundle: Too Much of a Good Thing


You’ve probably heard of the Humble Bundle – a bunch of indie developers sell their games together in a complete package for a pay-what-you-want price, letting you split your cost however you want between the developers, the Humble Bundle operators, and charity. The games themselves are DRM-free, compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux, and – almost without exception – a mix of high- and low-profile games from independent developers that you might not have ever had the chance to try otherwise. Yesterday, that changed. Continue reading

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What the Crap Is Skrillex Quest?

Think back to the NES days. Or even think about now. Do you still have an original NES? No, not the top loader, you fancy rich jerk. That old gray box shaped like how people thought the future would look like back in the 80s. How many times would you have to blow into the cartridge to get it to boot up? Remember when it just kinda turned on, but it was all glitched out? Did you try to play it anyway? Add bass drops to that and throw it into a browser and you’ve got yourself Skrillex Quest. What the crap?

Skrillex is known as “the Prince of Dubstep,” a genre of music that, for all intents and purposes, is already dead, less than two years after it burst onto the scene all across the world, burning far too brightly to even outlast a single elephant’s gestation period. But now he has a game. It’s kind of like The Legend of Zelda, or maybe 3D Dot Game Heroes. There are hidden collectibles and secrets to discover all over this world that happens to be constantly on the verge of glitching out, taking you and everything you’re trying to save with it. And it’s all because a little hair got in the cart.

The art style is very reminiscent of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, but on acid. The gameplay is simple: just move and slash. It’s a little graphic-intensive for my 5-year-old Dell laptop on wi-fi (there is always SO MUCH going on!), but all the slowdown kind of added to the intensity of the glitch battles. There’s a lot of glitching.

I dunno, I guess I don’t really have a lot of exciting things to actually say about this game; I just reeeeeally wanted to make you aware of its existence. Mostly because it’s so weird. It’s important to play some weird games in your life. It’s short, and the gameplay is simple, but there’s a replay value here that’ll keep you coming back again and again. My first playthrough, I got a whopping 15% final score. And I’m pretty sure that’s only because I know the Konami code. There’s so much I haven’t seen in the world yet.

On second thought: you might not like Skrillex Quest if you hate dubstep. Every sound effect in this game is dubstep, every backing track in this game is dubstep, and every glitched out world feels like you’re in a dubstep. The beats match up with the action in meaningful ways, putting those old movies you watch while playing your favorite Yes album to shame. There might even be a Skrillx in the game, doin’ Skrillex stuff like smoking and cooking. But you knew what this was.

It’s Skrillex Quest – the best game to ever feature Skrillex. Also probably the last game. Good job staying relevant, dubstep.

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Review: Paper Mario: Sticker Star: So I Can Finally Blog About Something Else

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a very good game. The sticker battle mechanics take a minute to wrap your head around but then are great, requiring a lot of rhythmic skill to master. The story, characters, and world contain a level of charm and tongue-in-cheek humor simply not found in 99% of all other games. And the shiny stuff, secrets, and collectibles pushed every one of my magic buttons that keeps me playing a game. In fact, I haven’t been this completely into a game since Skyrim. And on a handheld with PaRappa-style graphics? That’s incredible.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star also has its flaws. Continue reading

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RPGs and the Case of the Missing Experience: A Paper Mario Story

I’m about ten hours into Paper Mario: Sticker Star. For the most part, I really like it. It brings back the turn-based RPG battles of the first two games and leaves out the failed jokes and forced third dimension of the Wii’s Super Paper Mario which, frankly, felt unplayable to me, for a variety of not-quite-tangible reasons. This is lucky; given the name of the platform it’s appearing on, it would have been all too easy to rehash the 3D mechanic in this latest entry.

The level-up system is a bit strange to me, though, in that there is none. You find new one-time-use stickers mostly by random spattered throughout the world, and the only thing that ever increases throughout your dozens of battles is the number of gold coins in your pocket. And, since you can only buy too-weak or too-strong stickers (making the bosses either too hard or too easy), you end up not buying anything, instead relying on the weaponry you find in the field almost exclusively. With no levels to increase, and not enough things to spend your money on, Nintendo has given us no reason to fight any battles. This is less than ideal. And it’s all in the name of simplicity. Continue reading

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Review: Liberation Maiden

Liberation Maiden is by far the least weird Suda51 game. I mean, sure – there’s still flying robots and *gasp* a female president, but compared to Killer 7? No More Heroes? Using those as Suda’s typical benchmark, this is about as tame as games get.

This time around, Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture teamed with Level 5 to “bring AAA production values to the downloadable space.” For $7.99, you get a flying mech shooter game with solid voice acting, sharp graphics, and Rez-style gameplay that wouldn’t feel out of place in a third-generation PS2 game. All they put into the game comes at a price, however – it’s only about an hour long. Continue reading

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