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Continuing this now-long-overdue PAXAus roundup, let's get on with the indie games that I played there. I got to chat to some of the developers there and even get handed stickers and Amazon codes and other such swag, and I didn't even have to give them a favourable review in exchange! Now watch as I give them all favourable reviews anyway!

Expand: A beautiful, stark little game that takes some of your favourite platforming tropes and twists them into a serene, ever-changing black and white (and red) maze that grows and shrinks and pulses and causes people to form pretentious run-on sentences such as the above. Comes complete with vaguely comforting messages that make you feel slighty better about failing this particular screen for the 9,042nd time. Beautiful music.
Go at a hoem paeg for to look more at it!

One More Line: Should be regulated with all the other addictive drugs. Speed along the track swinging from circle to circle! Try not to crash! Crash anyway, pitifully early! Try to beat your score! Come close to it! Equal it! Fail utterly at it! Play it again! And again! And again! And again! And oh god there is a queue behind me of so many people and I don't care one more line one more line one more line...

Under The Sun DISCLAIMER: Stegabyte Games, who made this, are among the pitifully inadequate number of you who follow the SV Twitter account - this is a thing you can immediately rectify.
Now that I'm finished desperately pretending I'm important enough to need to disclaim such things: Under the Sun is a cool little puzzle game where your every move takes years. Well, no, that's not what I mean, they take seconds to actually play out, but years accelerate for your character as you move him, inorexably, towards the campfire before the symbolic nightfall of his life and my word I'm being artsy-poetic today. Trees grow, bridges crumble, rocks move and things get surprisingly complicated as you advance and reverse time in your endless quest for simple warmth. Not yours, reader, I can't comment on the warmth or lack thereof in your personal life. Head to the site, young one, while you still can.

Merchants and Mercenaries: I must admit I've not actually played Settlers of Catan. So when I was told that this game was like that meets Civilization I was mostly focused on that end bit. Now that I'm better read up about Catan I can agree that this is very like that except expanded in a number of interesting ways such as tech-levels, different mercenary types (who need different resoruces), towers, a quite frankly massive game world, and the fact that it's realtime, meaning that Mr. No Reaction Time here managed to fail at it quite spectacularly. I want to play it again though. They don't appear to have a website, but they do need to be Greenlighted on Steam, so you should go and do that instead
Have you heard the name of my new band, "My Sonic Obligation"? I digress. My Sonic obligation is, of course, the fact that Sonic Boom was playable on 3DS at PAX Australia, and so of course it was my duty to play it and report on it. Or so I thought, not knowing at the time that SEGA wee going to release the exact same demo to the eShop within the week anyway. So you've now played it and judged it already anyway. And the fact is you're not likely to change your mind based on things like comparative opinion. But we press on anyway.

It's... not bad. I've been told that this means I'm "trying to be optimistic" but truth be told this game is a lot better than I thought it would be. But then of course I thought it would be a train wreck. It had its fun moments playing, and I was genuinely impressed by some of the uses of Sonic mechanics among the standard action-adventurey stuff. That's basically what this is. Solid. Standard. Safe. But relatively enjoyable. This won't be the grand Sonic Return To Form. This will be on the better side of average. But seriously, I was thinking up nightmare scenarios, and at least it is a relief that these will not occur.
I once saw a magazine review of a DVD of an early Simpsons series. You know, when they were funny and/or relevant. At any rate, it was admittedly a capsule review, but the entire thing - literally the whole review - was nothing but quotes from that series. And of course you knew all the quotes because they were legendary and no further actual review was necessary because it's the freaking early Simpsons.

I'm not sure if Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is the right title to start the upcoming return of the Sonic Vegemite reviews section, because I'm sorely tempted to do a review like that. The fact is I can make Mario fight Sonic inside the Pac-Man maze. The fact is I can beat up EggRobos with the Villager from Animal Crossing. The fact is that, right now, I have a picture in my gallery of my Mii standing next to Magnus from Kid Icarus as he destroys my enemies at my command. That's a little bit sad really that last one. I don't care. Either these things - or any of a thousand other combinations - mean something to you, or they do not. The only exception is if you have been busily complaining because For Glory mode allows characters other than Fox, in which case I literally cannot help you make a purchasing decision.

Oh, Smash Run? It's a bonus stage that drags on for a bit too long. Seriously I'm not sure why anyone thinks that Smash Run, rather than Classic and All-Star modes, is actually meant to be the major single-player game mode. I mean, hell, it's even got the full suite of Multi-Man Melees. OK, Smash Run does get a button of its own, but we know where all the real games are.

Now if you'll excuse me, these For Fun matches won't lose themselves...
D'you know, I think SV may have set the world record for "longest time to complete Act 1". I'm very sorry, Gamespot reviewers of Sonic Lost World, but your title has been usurped.

But I think at last the tornado that is life has stopped carrying away the car-- um, that is, the goalpost for Zone 1 Act 2, and we are approaching the end of the zone far faster than the end of this tortuous metaphor. Pretty sure that's a C rank for this zone. (I don't care how slow it was, the site didn't actually die so I get the Perfect rank boost).

Um, anyway. What I mean by all of this, for the three-quarters of the anyone at all who reads this tripe anymore, is that I've finally got around to starting another site redesign, and with it I intend to finally restart the Reviews Section! And perhaps even invite people other than myself to contribute to it!

Also the site will look all appropriately flat and square and big panels of colour like you're supposed to do nowadays.
Oh, 2K. Oh, Firaxis. Firaxis. You of all people.

You advertise Civ: Beyond Earth at A$50 on Steam, wait for interest to generate, and then all of a sudden... bang. $90. Ninety smegging dollars. Look, we know shipping has long made Australia an expensive place to sell videogames to. We know our dollar was rubbish for some time and drove up relative prices. This is Steam, and our dollar's near parity. You don't have that excuse anymore. You want to keep up relations with the physical retailers, we get that too. But if you're going to lie about the intended selling price, then price-gouge so much, so soon, so blatantly, then people are going to not buy your game. It's that simple.

I love Firaxis. I've bought every one of your games. I preordered this at the lower price. But I have no choice to recommend to every Australian: do not buy Civilization Beyond Earth unless you can get it at $50 or below.

I've already seen people I know declare they won't buy it. Will wait for sales. Will find it second-hand. Will pirate. And it's not just you, Firaxis. We know. But you are the ones that aren't even pretending there's a good reason anymore. You're cheating, and lying. And it is unacceptable.
I really was all ready to chat about E3 right now. On Xbox, Sunset Overdrive is snarky. Unique UbiArt goodness in Valiant Hearts. Sony has resurrected (so to speak) Grim freakin' Fandango. EA had a revolutionary lineup of sports titles and Battl-- eh. Ninty went all Skylanders with Amiibo, then announced they'll work with Smash Bros. Oh, and Palutena is in it. As are Miis. There was FutureCoD and Halo deals and PlaystationTV and The Division and everyone's outsourcing to you now what with Spark and LBP3 and Mario Maker and what not.

So this whole post was going to be about that.

But there's a Sonic movie.

I just... I'm literally bewildered. I cannot know if this will be really good or utterly terrible or kinda ok or what it is. Am I happy? Am I cringing? I don't freaking know. They're talking about The Smurfs, which worries me. Then they mention the writers are from the Upright Citizens Brigade and that's tremendous. Then I hear "22 Jump Street" and "The Fast and the Furious" and.. I don't know. Just... what a bizarre combination of influences. You're not meant to hear "The Smurfs" in the same article as "The Fast and the Furious". They're not compatible. And this in a bombshell that's taken close on two decades to drop. I... what. Someone tell me if this is good or bad.

Oh also there's some new Halo game or something.
So. Sonic Boom, then.

Never let it be said that I don't give a game a chance. I was one of the many successfully fooled by the launch trailer of Sonic '06, for pity's sake. And so we've seen gameplay footage of Sonic Boom now, but I will reserve judgement for a later product.

Because right now? I'm not overly impressed.

Sega, you had it. Colours and Generations were great. Even Lost World, for all the flaws it had and the myriad other imaginary flaws people liked to imagine it had, showed promise. So why now are we taking another stab at Sonic Heroes? (Yes, I know you're actually going for more of a Sonic 2/Sonic Advance 3 thing. We'll see, is all.)

I get that this is a cartoon tie in, it's by Big Red Button, and back in Japan they're still working on, if you'll excuse the medium reference, our regular scheduled programming. But it seems from the admittedly limited footage released that you're taking what you know worked in 3D and scrambling in the opposite direction. I'm not sure if it helps or not that this extensive use of the rope swing mechanic reminds me greatly of the Chain powerup from Rayman 3, also known as "one of the greatest platform games in the history of the everything". All I can say, BRB, is that you better be damn good at using this mechanic.
The instant I game over because I missed a microscopic window to attach to an Ener-Rail is the instant your review goes down by 2 or 3 out of 10. But do it right, and all is forgiven.

Now, let's discuss other things from the footage.

Music: Thumbs down. Sorry. It's generic cartoon music and after the insanely catchy music of Lost World it seems a step backwards.

Graphics: Thumbs kinda sideways. I know the WiiU can do better than this. But it fits the cartoon vibe I guess.

Voice talent: Thumbs up. Amy is outright better, Knux is good, and Eggman steals the show as normal. As for Sonic...? See...

Use of voice talent: Thumbs vacillating wildly. There were some genuinely funny lines of chatter (Knux: "Hey! There are things inside these things!") and there are some where all I could hear for the next second was the sound of a hundred thousand mute buttons, simultaneously, all over the world. It's going for that Kid Icarus: Uprising vibe and that game was genuinely funny. So we'll see. If some of these generic lines get repeated too much ("Hey!" "Nice one, Big Blue!" "It's like these courses were built for me!" et cetera ad nauseam), they're gonna get real old real quick.

But like I say. I want to play it. I want a demo. I want to give it a try. Sega I want to like this game, but it's difficult, especially when I know there could be a Lost World sequel that improves on the original like Colours did for Unleashed.

This game is an experiment, a side project, I know. But we thought that about Colours at first, too. Hell, "The Lion King" was made by Disney's B team while the real blockbuster was supposed to be "Pocahontas".

Sega, I'm unimpressed so far. Please prove me wrong. Please do this right.
Apologies for the terrible pun, but I may be overexcited by the revelation that there may actually still be people reading this. At any rate.

We've now had two weeks to mull over why Kinect is so integral that it's optional, game shops across the world "dropping" the price by removing both Kinect and Titanfall. We're on to you, EB. We're on to you. Not that we really needed two weeks to mull over it. Fact is, it is a gimmick. It was, it is, and it shall be. Yes it allows people to live out their Tony Stark / Star Trek fantasies (no, not those kinds of fantasies, and not combined, although I can suggest with near certainty that fanfiction.net will have something along those lines among its yawning chasms), but really, you're a remote control with an on switch and inbuilt mic away from those anyway. Nobody knows what to do with the thing from a gaming perspective, and I mean this thing in particular; I've seen plenty of impassioned defences of the device on the net in the last two weeks where people imagine what might be possible, and in ninety percent of cases their imaginings are already possible with an inbuilt mic and/or Wiimote/PSMove. The sad part is, it's a device with plenty of potential for use, but that use has been found for practically everything but gaming. And don't give me the "but it's still new" excuse; a) it's not (see above) and b) Six months after the DS came out Japan had Kirby Canvas Curse, Meteos, WarioWare Touched and Another Code (aka Trace Memory) already out, and Ouendan coming.

All I'll say is this, Microsoft: it better be a pretty damn good E3 conference.
You may recall that I like Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. And by "like" I mean "this is the greatest thing ever conceived by man".

Now there is a spiritual sequel.

I... words. None. No can think do have.

Want be time release now.

You go watch trailer.
So, recently I've been playing Rome 2: Total War (no, Creative Assembly, I refuse to put the series title first). I've also been watching the hilarious, profanity-laden, NSFW Sane Critique of Why Rome 2 Failed. Now this was based on an earlier build, but I have to agree with a lot of the problems listed. I aslo had a few more bones to pick with the game, but now there's an update which claims (I haven't played it since updating yet, so we'll see) to have fixed, among other things, some of my most needed fixes...

-Seasons. Finally. 1 turn per year was just silly and it was a little bit stupid to take that feature out when it worked so well in Shogun 2.

-The endless sabotage problem. You see, enemy agents can sabotage buildings in your settlements in order to prevent you from getting their benefits. Sensible. What's slightly less sensible is when they can continually sabotage a building that they have already sabotaged and on each occasion they do it (which is every turn) it adds another 2 turns to the rebuilding cost. This means that they are able to burn down more of the building than has actually been rebuilt, somehow creating time-travelling future-flames that can pre-emptively burn non-existent structures. This ludicrous practice is, at last, gone. Or so they say.

- Victory points now act as a morale boost rather than instant victory, meaning I may actually get to have a city battle that lasts longer than five god-damned minutes.

-I may actually have to take some spearmen with me when I go to decimate the enemy's archers, rather than just take one horse unit.

-Apparently, now, units trying to find their way through an open gate will not cause the game to become unplayably slow.

While I'm very grateful for these fixes, the simple fact is that it should not take eleven patches for this nonsense to be sorted out. These are basics and Sega need to stop rushing CA to get these games out, because we're getting sick of being unpaid beta testers for these people.