Games I Like That You Might Like

This is a list of some games I like that you might like if the kinds of games you like are the kind of games that I like too.

Things that are great about Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer
1) Not the sub-title. I accept that it’s a bit overwrought. 
2) Especially since Ascension isn’t a game about godslaying. It’s a game about shopping. It’s kinda almost a game about couponing. Seriously, when you think about it, what’s discarding a Fanatic during a Mechana event other than cashing in a $2 off coupon on constructs? Exactly.
2) Each card is such a tight, distinct unit of meaning that there is a strong case to be made for replacing the flim-flam of Tarot with the acute, interlocking truths that surface in an Ascension deal. 
3) The UI may look cluttered and clogged, but it’s actually so functionally streamlined that Ascension is weirdly good fun to play with three-year-olds. 
4) Don’t by fooled. It really is a game about shopping, but it’s not a game about buying cards. It’s a game about buying components. Every match is a mini Great Egg Race - what’s the best machine you can build in the time you have with the things you’ve got? 
5) It’s a masterclass in What Computers Are Good For, which in this case is ceaseless, benevolent, meticulous arbitration. It’s like getting to play an awesome boardgame with your mum riding shotgun, if your mum was nice, didn’t have a million other things to do and wasn’t secretly rooting for your sister to win.  

Things that are great about Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer

1) Not the sub-title. I accept that it’s a bit overwrought. 

2) Especially since Ascension isn’t a game about godslaying. It’s a game about shopping. It’s kinda almost a game about couponing. Seriously, when you think about it, what’s discarding a Fanatic during a Mechana event other than cashing in a $2 off coupon on constructs? Exactly.

2) Each card is such a tight, distinct unit of meaning that there is a strong case to be made for replacing the flim-flam of Tarot with the acute, interlocking truths that surface in an Ascension deal. 

3) The UI may look cluttered and clogged, but it’s actually so functionally streamlined that Ascension is weirdly good fun to play with three-year-olds. 

4) Don’t by fooled. It really is a game about shopping, but it’s not a game about buying cards. It’s a game about buying components. Every match is a mini Great Egg Race - what’s the best machine you can build in the time you have with the things you’ve got? 

5) It’s a masterclass in What Computers Are Good For, which in this case is ceaseless, benevolent, meticulous arbitration. It’s like getting to play an awesome boardgame with your mum riding shotgun, if your mum was nice, didn’t have a million other things to do and wasn’t secretly rooting for your sister to win.  

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Things that are great about Earth Defense Force 2025

1) Why did you get married? This is not a question you were expecting me to ask. It was not a question I was expecting Earth Defense Force to ask, and yet it did. What I can say is, if I am ever asked that question for real, I hope I get to answer it while strafing a dozen ecstatic rockets into a stampede of mountainous spiders, because that is when I am my best me. 

2) EDF 2025 honestly has the best story of any game I’ve played this year, in that the story of EDF 2025 is ‘the GIANT ANTS are back aaaaaaaaa wait what that ROBOT IS HUGE oh god’. I don’t mean that that’s the player experience: that is the formal, expressed narrative of the game. 

3) Once it’s obvious you’ve exhaustively unlocked all the weapons you’ll get an achievement that says you’ve unlocked 10% of all the weapons. 

4) It’s great in local co-op! This is not a fun fact, but a useful truth. 

5) Some games believe in less is more. Some games believe in more is more. This game takes a lean, restrained palette and then conjures vast combinatorial chaos out of it, making it the most secretly sophisticated game I’ve ever played. 

6) the GIANT ANTS are back aaaaaa wait what that ROBOT IS HUGE oh god

Things that are great about OlliOlli:

1) It’s a game where you *stop pressing* a button to jump and *press a button* to land. It’s a game that has an unjump button. How bout that?

2) It has maybe the best peripheral-vision-friendly UI I’ve ever seen, which it accomplishes by having big stripes of informative colour in all the right corners.

3) It has big stripes of informative colour in all the right corners.

4) It’s made by Roll7, whose heritage is the kind of things that more game studios’ heritage should be in, which is to say trucks and music and social activism and mind control.* 

5) There is in infinite calm space to be found in the moment before you successfully press the unjump button, but after you’ve sent the signal to your unjump finger, and while it may be demonstrably true that that interval lasts for some hundreths of seconds, it feels like the best beach holiday you ever had. 

Things that are great about Flipnic.
1) It’s an enjoyable simple-action amazing pinball game for you!
2) No really, it is. 
3) Which is to say, it was a crazily ambitious pinball game with kill-cam zooms that pulled you deep into playfields made of neon fuzz and abstract geometry, inhabited by rhinos and flamingos and patrolled by UFOs. 
4) It’s a beautiful representative of that terribly fleeting bit of the PS2’s lifespan, when there was a stream of software that knew how to be whimsical without being infantile, and grown-up without being realistic, and nostalgic without being derivative, and colourful without being saccharine. I miss you, 2003. 

Things that are great about Flipnic.

1) It’s an enjoyable simple-action amazing pinball game for you!

2) No really, it is

3) Which is to say, it was a crazily ambitious pinball game with kill-cam zooms that pulled you deep into playfields made of neon fuzz and abstract geometry, inhabited by rhinos and flamingos and patrolled by UFOs. 

4) It’s a beautiful representative of that terribly fleeting bit of the PS2’s lifespan, when there was a stream of software that knew how to be whimsical without being infantile, and grown-up without being realistic, and nostalgic without being derivative, and colourful without being saccharine. I miss you, 2003. 

Things that are great about Magic Pengel:
1) It’s a game where you draw things and they come to life which is a) nearly 10 years old and b) pre-touch screen. The way the control scheme conceptualises brushes (brushes have *depth* as well as shape) is proper genius. 
2) It was produced in collaboration with Studio Ghibli, so it is very, very full of prettiness. 
3) It had a *lovely* intuitive system where the shape (fat, thin, spindly, squat) and the colour of the thing you drew affected its stats and powers. 
4) The scissors-paper-stone battle mechanic had a neat little ‘charge’ addition, which I constantly rip off in my own work
5) The best creature I ever made was a picture-perfect Dreamcast, who attacked with his controller-bolas and allowed me to purge a thousand mental demons by seeing the ‘Dreamcast wins!’ screen over and over again.

Things that are great about Magic Pengel:

1) It’s a game where you draw things and they come to life which is a) nearly 10 years old and b) pre-touch screen. The way the control scheme conceptualises brushes (brushes have *depth* as well as shape) is proper genius. 

2) It was produced in collaboration with Studio Ghibli, so it is very, very full of prettiness. 

3) It had a *lovely* intuitive system where the shape (fat, thin, spindly, squat) and the colour of the thing you drew affected its stats and powers. 

4) The scissors-paper-stone battle mechanic had a neat little ‘charge’ addition, which I constantly rip off in my own work

5) The best creature I ever made was a picture-perfect Dreamcast, who attacked with his controller-bolas and allowed me to purge a thousand mental demons by seeing the ‘Dreamcast wins!’ screen over and over again.

Things that are great about Amped 3:
1) It is one of gaming’s most magnificent follies: a snowboarding game which spent half its budget (HALF ITS BUDGET) on cut-scenes. It was made by Indie Built, who were shut down by Take=Two soon after. 
2) And not just any cut-scenes. Amped 3 basically has a conventional sports-game career mode, except in Amped 3 your career is saving the world from evil masterminds in zeppelins and your boss is a unicorn-riding scrap-book obsessive called Dandelion. 
3) Every character in the game has their cut-scenes presented in a dedicated visual style: biro doodles, cod anime, photo collage. There are live action parodies of Russian gameshows starring potatoes and fists. Barbies get barbecued. There is literally not the slightest way to predict what you’re going to see next.
4) The whole thing is stuffed with terrible, wonderful gaming in-jokes, from the initial deft inclusion of your pre-customised avatar in the opening to the broadest of swipes at evil game company Colonotronic Arts.
5) It ends with a song! About how great you are! Years before Portal or You Have To Cut The Rope! It’s sung by a pig in a tux who has a body made of plinths. 
6) The snowboarding is downright OK! It will frustrate novices and irk experts, but both can make their peace with it. It’s really fine. Totally alright. 

Things that are great about Amped 3:

1) It is one of gaming’s most magnificent follies: a snowboarding game which spent half its budget (HALF ITS BUDGET) on cut-scenes. It was made by Indie Built, who were shut down by Take=Two soon after. 

2) And not just any cut-scenes. Amped 3 basically has a conventional sports-game career mode, except in Amped 3 your career is saving the world from evil masterminds in zeppelins and your boss is a unicorn-riding scrap-book obsessive called Dandelion. 

3) Every character in the game has their cut-scenes presented in a dedicated visual style: biro doodles, cod anime, photo collage. There are live action parodies of Russian gameshows starring potatoes and fists. Barbies get barbecued. There is literally not the slightest way to predict what you’re going to see next.

4) The whole thing is stuffed with terrible, wonderful gaming in-jokes, from the initial deft inclusion of your pre-customised avatar in the opening to the broadest of swipes at evil game company Colonotronic Arts.

5) It ends with a song! About how great you are! Years before Portal or You Have To Cut The Rope! It’s sung by a pig in a tux who has a body made of plinths. 

6) The snowboarding is downright OK! It will frustrate novices and irk experts, but both can make their peace with it. It’s really fine. Totally alright. 

Things that are great about Pathway To Glory:
1) Check the platform tag at the bottom of the post. Yep. 
2) Now check who it’s made by. Red Lynx! Who you love for Trials HD, when you’re not hating them for Trials HD.
3) Pathway To Glory was a top-down, turned-based, slightly Commandos-style WW2 strategy game, made for the original N-Gage’s 176*208 resolution screen. To furnish the character animation for it, Red Lynx mo-capped 160 different Finnish soldiers. If anything about that last sentence doesn’t blow your mind, it’s possible you may not have read it properly. 
4) You could play 8-player real-time battles with friends, where ‘friends’ here loosely means ‘the 7 other people in the world who bought it’.
5) It’s full of lovely, lavish, smart design touches. There’s a genuinely touching RPG-element - every unit is a named, bio’d individual who levels up as you play. Getting them killed was meaning emotional and strategic blow. There wasn’t enough bandwidth to support voice-comms as well as the data for live play, so Red Lynx instituted a gorgeously crackly field-radio system that let you send authentically broken and brief messages, usually just too late to stop a rout. It’s full of stuff like that. 
6) I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much smarts and polish poured into such a doomed and unknown project. Which then totally got a sequel. Everything about that makes me happy. 

Things that are great about Pathway To Glory:

1) Check the platform tag at the bottom of the post. Yep. 

2) Now check who it’s made by. Red Lynx! Who you love for Trials HD, when you’re not hating them for Trials HD.

3) Pathway To Glory was a top-down, turned-based, slightly Commandos-style WW2 strategy game, made for the original N-Gage’s 176*208 resolution screen. To furnish the character animation for it, Red Lynx mo-capped 160 different Finnish soldiers. If anything about that last sentence doesn’t blow your mind, it’s possible you may not have read it properly. 

4) You could play 8-player real-time battles with friends, where ‘friends’ here loosely means ‘the 7 other people in the world who bought it’.

5) It’s full of lovely, lavish, smart design touches. There’s a genuinely touching RPG-element - every unit is a named, bio’d individual who levels up as you play. Getting them killed was meaning emotional and strategic blow. There wasn’t enough bandwidth to support voice-comms as well as the data for live play, so Red Lynx instituted a gorgeously crackly field-radio system that let you send authentically broken and brief messages, usually just too late to stop a rout. It’s full of stuff like that. 

6) I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much smarts and polish poured into such a doomed and unknown project. Which then totally got a sequel. Everything about that makes me happy. 

Things that are great about Captain Blood:
1) It was made by Exxos, the game studio I dream of one day having the balls to emulate for their unrepentant lunacy and fearless creativity.
2) It’s got one of the best death noises in games ever. If you’re playing it on ST rather than Amiga, which you are, right? 
3) It has probably the only conversation system in games that doesn’t actively make me despair, in the form of the icon-based UPCOM system that let you construct your own sentences and conduct staggeringly plausible conversations with staggeringly implausible aliens. More detail here and a video that demonstrates it here. 
4) The moment that the 3D terrain fills in the awesome vector canyons is still electrifying. 
5) ATA ATA hoglo hulu!

Things that are great about Captain Blood:

1) It was made by Exxos, the game studio I dream of one day having the balls to emulate for their unrepentant lunacy and fearless creativity.

2) It’s got one of the best death noises in games ever. If you’re playing it on ST rather than Amiga, which you are, right? 

3) It has probably the only conversation system in games that doesn’t actively make me despair, in the form of the icon-based UPCOM system that let you construct your own sentences and conduct staggeringly plausible conversations with staggeringly implausible aliens. More detail here and a video that demonstrates it here

4) The moment that the 3D terrain fills in the awesome vector canyons is still electrifying. 

5) ATA ATA hoglo hulu!

Things that are great about Yoshi’s Touch & Go:
1) It might be the most jazz game every made. It’s entirely about pure, freewheeling improvisation.
2) Your play on top of an algorithmically generated sequence of level geometry and enemy placement. This is the structure that you improvise against. Basically, in Yoshi’s Touch & Go, maths is your rhythm section. 
3) Both the combo system and the control system are incredibly dense and feel incredibly light. It’s a game with one of the highest interdependencies of dexterity-smarts and strategy-smarts, but you would never know it to look at it. 
4) It has the little hoof-cloppy Yoshi tune that you can feel unclogging your arteries and plumping your crow’s feet and flooding the colour back into your hair when you hear it. 
5) If you possess a time machine, you can get a free copy by going back to 19th March 2006 and rooting around in the seat pockets on the front left of standard class seating on flight VS020 after it lands at Heathrow. Dammit. 

Things that are great about Yoshi’s Touch & Go:

1) It might be the most jazz game every made. It’s entirely about pure, freewheeling improvisation.

2) Your play on top of an algorithmically generated sequence of level geometry and enemy placement. This is the structure that you improvise against. Basically, in Yoshi’s Touch & Go, maths is your rhythm section. 

3) Both the combo system and the control system are incredibly dense and feel incredibly light. It’s a game with one of the highest interdependencies of dexterity-smarts and strategy-smarts, but you would never know it to look at it. 

4) It has the little hoof-cloppy Yoshi tune that you can feel unclogging your arteries and plumping your crow’s feet and flooding the colour back into your hair when you hear it. 

5) If you possess a time machine, you can get a free copy by going back to 19th March 2006 and rooting around in the seat pockets on the front left of standard class seating on flight VS020 after it lands at Heathrow. Dammit. 

Things that are great about Tetris Attack:
1) It’s called Tetris Attack and is fronted by Yoshi but has nothing to do with either.
2) It opens with the line ‘Now, let’s go play, together…Together under the clearest of blue skies’. And they even bothered to put ‘blue skies’ in blue text.
3) It has my favourite block design from any block game ever. Bright and clear and harmonious.
4) It’s incredibly rare in being a puzzle game which is equally as good as an against-the-clock Tetris-style (ok, fine, maybe a little to do with Tetris) survival slog as it is as a fiendish little haiku puzzler: 7 blocks, 2 moves, hours of contemplation.
If you’re SNESless (oh, the humanity!) you could be playing it on DS as Planet Puzzle League. Or on N64 as Pokemon Puzzle League. I’ll leave is as an exercise for the reader to estimate how much those games have to do with planets and Pokemon, respectively.

Things that are great about Tetris Attack:

1) It’s called Tetris Attack and is fronted by Yoshi but has nothing to do with either.

2) It opens with the line ‘Now, let’s go play, together…Together under the clearest of blue skies’. And they even bothered to put ‘blue skies’ in blue text.

3) It has my favourite block design from any block game ever. Bright and clear and harmonious.

4) It’s incredibly rare in being a puzzle game which is equally as good as an against-the-clock Tetris-style (ok, fine, maybe a little to do with Tetris) survival slog as it is as a fiendish little haiku puzzler: 7 blocks, 2 moves, hours of contemplation.

If you’re SNESless (oh, the humanity!) you could be playing it on DS as Planet Puzzle League. Or on N64 as Pokemon Puzzle League. I’ll leave is as an exercise for the reader to estimate how much those games have to do with planets and Pokemon, respectively.