Hotline Miami: Meaningful Backtracking

Cover of Hotline MiamiGiant Bomb defines “backtracking”, in part, as the following:

“Backtracking is often a derogatory term used to describe a situation in a game where the player must return to previously encountered locations in order to continue advancing the game”

Most of the time, backtracking is annoying, even when realism-wise it’s a little dubious how the game’s hero is able to make it all the way out of perilous situation X while off camera. But as is usually the case, the real answer on backtracking is “it depends”. Sometimes, in small doses, it can be very effective.

Hotline Miami (Steam link) is a super-violent action game that has earned a lot of attention as an indie PC title released in October 2012. It uses backtracking in a brilliant fashion – to really hammer home the game’s own meta-commentary on violence in games.

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Stay Closed: A Tale of Two Tiny Board Game Boxes

I’m a fan of board games. I’m also a fan of good design. Naturally then, I’m a fan of well designed board game boxes. I’ve backed a few board game related Kickstarter projects in recent memory, and there are two that have particularly standout packaging – in both good and bad ways.

On one hand, we have Dungeon Roll with a shelf-unfriendly box but a perfect touch on a closing mechanism. And on the other hand, The Great Heartland Hauling Co. features a great travel-sized box that will probably dump its contents all over your bag if you attempt to travel with it. Read on for more!

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Epic Mobile Board Game Achievements

Achievements are a staple of gaming these days. Since Microsoft popularized the concept with the XBox 360, most gaming platforms have a centralized achievement bank. Even mobile games – Apple’s GameCenter launched with achievements in 2010 (though not the first achievement platform on iOS), and Google announced Google Play Games in May 2013.

Achievements can bring a whole different angle of entertainment to a game, and add to its longevity. But only if your achievements aren’t terrible. Steve Bromley’s Games User Research blog lists 5 achievement sins, though I’m only going to talk about one type – when achievements are so epic, they jump the shark. I have three examples of iOS-translated board games that have achievements geared toward serious players only.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: Creating a Golfer is a Little Weird

Tiger Woods PGA Tour logoAs of this writing, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the only version of the classic golf sim to make it to iOS (iTunes link) and Android (Google Play link) platforms. For some reason golf is one of those genres of games that are way more fun than I expect them to be. Of course, this being a game produced by EA in 2013, the in-app purchase nagging is a little bit annoying, but this is still an entertaining diversion.

However, it doesn’t start out on a great foot. Creating your own custom golfer has been a staple of the series since way back in 2004, and it’s a fun part of the Tiger Woods Golf experience. It’s the first thing the game drops you into here, and it’s a little bit clunky for a variety of reasons. Let’s walk through this process.

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Madden 11 (iOS): Never, ever ignore the silent switch!

Madden 11 splash screenThe draw of portable gaming is simple – life doesn’t always make it easy to be tied down to a TV (or your computer) for a full-on gaming experience. Sometimes, you get stuck in the car for four hours and need to play a little Pokemon to relax. Mobile gaming makes it even easier with no lack of quality time-fillers that are already in your pocket.

For many situations, portable gaming means a need either for headphones or for an experience without sound at all. It would, after all, be irritating if everybody in the line at Subway was playing Angry Birds with the sound cranked up on their phone. So most respectful people (that don’t have headphones handy) will switch their phone to silent mode. The problem comes in when disrespectful games choose to ignore this, and play sounds anyway. Like Madden 11 HD for iPad.

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