Looks mean. [Link]
Stunning photos of Hong Kong in the 1950s captured by a teenager. [Link]
On Wednesday last week, Kuwait-based singer-songwriter Mr. Fari performed for Axe Middle East’s ‘Bring The Quiet’ vinyl album launch at Stereo Arcade in Dubai. Mr. Fari was one of 10 regional independent artists chosen to appear on the record (one of several prizes for the winners). We caught up with him just after his soundcheck, and – since he didn’t have time to come down to our office and perform for our acoustic concert series The Empty Corner – he kindly agreed to play a quick song in the toilets. [YouTube]
Twenty years of Pokémon, that’s pretty crazy when you think about it. I still remember playing Pokémon Blue when I was 10 on my Gameboy Color. [Youtube]
I’ve always wanted to start a gaming podcast and I finally got the opportunity to do so. I recorded a “test” episode with Yaqoub and Abdullah from Lucky Generation Gamers and it was an interesting experience where I learnt a lot. Originally we wanted the episode duration to be two hours at most. So I created a word document with an outline of what topics we’d discuss. Since this would be our introductory episode we wanted to have introductions to start things off, going through our history with video games, discussing our favorite consoles and games. Then we’d talk about games we’re currently playing before going onto news and a quick overlook over our favorite games of 2015.
That’s what we ended up doing but we went over the time limit we set ourselves by 50 minutes. So ultimately it could have been more structured. I personally should have discussed in detail why I liked Super Metroid or Legend of Zelda instead of wasting time listing consoles I’ve previously owned. In the end we spent 50 minutes discussing ourselves, but I think we could have cut that time in half if we used it more wisely.
We’re still trying to figure out the schedule for Double Jump, but we’re aiming to record an episode once a week and I think I’ll continue to write a short blogpost to accompany every episode we publish to discuss things I learnt or experienced before, while and after recording the show. This podcast is still very much a work in progress. We’re working on improving the podcast so constructive feedback is always welcome. Once we finalize everything our podcast will feature original music composed by Marskyera (who is the composer behind the indie game GNOG) and I’ll finally have a proper logo and branding designed.
Who we are:
Where to hear it:
1 – Splatoon
There are two unique aspects to Splatoon. The first is that a big studio was able to successfully release an entirely new game that played around with an already established genre and the second unique aspect about Splatoon is the fact that Nintendo was able to successfully do a good job with an online shooter. There are a lot of great things about Splatoon. The art direction, the music, the characters and all the different kinds of weapons and clothes you’re able to unlock and purchase. Add to that Nintendo consistently supporting the game, releasing free content after free content and there you have my favorite game of the year.
2 – Super Mario Maker
When Nintendo first announced Super Mario Maker I didn’t think much of it. It seemed like software they were going to release just to make up for the lack of games being released on the Wii U. I’m not generally a fan of user generated content or games made to take advantage of user created content. I never really enjoyed LittleBigPlanet which this seemed similar too. Boy was I wrong. Super Mario Maker is incredible, innovative and intuitive. Creating levels is easy and there are a lot of great levels to play. The amount of things you can do with the tools Nintendo give you is incredible. I enjoy creating more than I enjoy playing other peoples levels, but what I love the most is being able to download a person’s level and seeing how they created something and being able to take that and find a way to implement it into my levels. It just adds a whole new level of depth to the game.
3 – Bloodborne
Bloodborne is the most atmospheric game to have come out in 2015. It’s dark, gothic and scary. The game does a good job at making you feel dread. The combat is hands down the best of 2015. It’s fast, brutal and intense. Like the Souls games, the story in Bloodborne is vague, but still clearer than whatever was happening in those other games. The lack of shields in the game is clever and forces you to fight a certain way. The game forces you to adapt, and if you can’t, then you can’t really succeed in Bloodborne.
4 – Rocket League
Rocket League is the biggest surprise hit of the year. It’s addictive, easy to get into and a ton of fun. It also helps that the developers have been supporting it since launch with a bunch of downloadable content and seasonal changes, like the ice hockey mode during Christmas.
5 – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Besides Splatoon and Rocket League, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun playing online with friends than when I was really into Monster Hunter earlier this year. I understand that this game isn’t for everyone but if you’re able to grasp the mechanics, you’re hooked. I love how every Monster Hunter player has a story of great battles, sad losses, favorite and least favorite monsters. Every hunter specializes in one weapon or another, while having a secondary weapon that they use “for fun”. One of the biggest positives of Monster Hunter is the great community that welcomes new players, helps them and isn’t as toxic as other online communities.
6 – Life is Strange
Another surprise hit of this year has to be Life is Strange. A game that was inspired by old school point and click games and that adds an interesting time travel mechanic. The story and characters are captivating, the music is great and the choices you make in the game feel like they actually matter. The dialogue (especially early in the game) is corny at times, but if you see past that then you’ll see a game that is filled with emotion and care. Life is Strange is just on another level when you compare it to games in similar genre’s.
7 – Xenoblade Chronicles X
The previous Xenoblade game was one of the best RPG’s to have come out in the past 10-12 years, if not the best. The genre has been in decline for quite some time so it was nice to see such a high-quality RPG come out in the west. Xenoblade Chronicle X might not have the same impact or quality as its predecessor but it’s still a great game. The world is massive, varied and beautiful. It’s one of the best open-world environments I’ve come across. The ecosystem feels real and there’s a sense of wonder and excitement that comes with exploring the world. It also helps that you get to ride in cool, giant mechs and fight giant monsters. The games main story takes some time to pick up and even though its interesting at times, it’s also somewhat generic and cliché. The game does have some great twists and turns though.
8 – Assassins Creed Syndicate
I feel bad for Assassins Creed Syndicate, mainly because everyone still remembers the crappy game Ubisoft released last year. Thankfully they seem to have learnt some lessons from that and released this excellent game. The combat and the movement has been improved, exploring London is a blast and the two main characters are interesting. I also enjoyed the various side-quests, in particular, the Dreadful Crimes, which is basically solving murder mysteries. Also Eyvie Frye is a badass.
9 – Witcher 3
Witcher 3 has won the most Game of the Year awards this year and for good reason. The game was a lot of fun, I enjoyed some of the side-quests and the characters you interacted with. The main storyline was interesting as well. The biggest issue I had with the game is that I just didn’t enjoy Geralt. Other issues I had was that the combat wasn’t all that great, the world was uninteresting to explore and there wasn’t a variety in environments and lastly Geralt’s skill trees didn’t really matter. I loved the way Witcher 3 portrayed war.
10 – Fallout 4
If I was being biased, I’d put Fallout 4 in the top 5, but I have to be honest with myself and admit that Fallout 4 has some annoying flaws, the biggest being that the quests in Fallout 4 tend to be one dimensional. But I love exploring the worlds Bethesda create and Boston in Fallout 4 is no different. The art direction in Fallout 4 is fantastic and the sound design is brilliant. Bethesda also fixed one of the main issues in their previous games: Combat. The shooting mechanics in Fallout 4 feel great and a huge step forward from past Bethesda games.
The funniest bit is when they get high in the car and Kevin Hart was dying from laughter cuz he just couldn’t believe they were actually doing this. [YouTube]
A funny Commercial/Music Video for DISH Arabic TV. [YouTube]
For the premier episode of season 7 of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld met up with President Barack Obama. It’s probably one of my favorite episodes of the series. [Link]
If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog