“Portal clone!” you immediately shriek upon seeing the first screenshot, and while that’s an entirely fair comparison to make, it’s not a fair dismissal. QUBE tells a far darker story than Portal- or, rather, a less humourous one; while I don’t think anyone was ever in doubt that Glados was our enemy, the allegiance of the nameless overseer in QUBE is far more ambiguous.
Portal had its Portal Gun, and so QUBE has its Cube Gloves (not the official name but I like it), with which our silent amnesiac protagonist can manipulate certain elements of his environment to create a solution and open up the next puzzle chamber. It’s a very familiar set up, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the puzzles- which have impressed so far, with only one puzzle at the end of my hour being a little too precious on its timing.
Fin or Bin:
I’m not often one for puzzle games as I get frustrated pretty quickly, but this has so far been the right speed for me, and I’m enjoying the story. The voice acting in particular is superb. F.I.N!
As previously discussed, I’ve started streaming my first hour of gameplay! I’m still new at this so expect a lot of errors (hey, I recorded it at the wrong resolution, it’s not going to get worse than that). The focus is always going to be on this blog here, so if you’re not into streams at all no worries.
I’ve also started a Discord to facilitate discussion and sharing of backlog miseries, plus a Patreon tip jar if you like what I do. Would be neat to expand this little project a little!
But for now here’s Punch Out, specifically the Mr Dream version rather than the Mike Tyson version. If you’re interested in the history of this franchise, I strongly recommend watching Jeremy Parish’s NES Works video on it.
I played the sequel Super Punch Out a very long time ago and didn’t really understand what I was doing- approaching it more as a standard brawler than the puzzle game it actually is. Little Mac is a tiny, tiny man, who has to fight smart rather than hard if he wants to stand a chance at the Title.
I actually prefer it this way- having to learn how to spot opponents’ tells and openings is the kind of gameplay I enjoy (very prevalent in Ys, for example). It’s very satisfying to finally work out how to beat an opponent that you’ve been struggling with and watch them go down in one round.
Something else I’ve noticed is how good the translation effort is. Doc Lewis gives subtle hints on how to beat each opponent between rounds (if you survive that long), far more useful than the “EASTMOST PENNINSULA IS THE SECRET”-style of non-hint often found in games of the era.
Fin or Bin:
We’re starting the new era of BBLC off strongly, then! If only I knew anything at all about boxing, I could come up with a great pun for this Fin.
Wanted to reflect on the blog a bit, and talk about where it’s going from here. Going to be mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff that doesn’t pertain a whole lot to the actual point of the BBLC itself, so I’ll do your dashboards a favour and put it under the cut.
So then! Let’s talk about success.
In terms of its primary function (that being ‘get BB playing through that got-dang steam library’), it has been an undeniable success. I started at 80 games, have played 120, and now have just 30 left. Questionable mathematics aside, I know for sure a good 80% of those games I played would have forever been pushed to the backburner if the dice weren’t in control.
As an aside- I’m a lot more frugal lately, too, and have bought far fewer bundles just because they seem like a good deal. A change in attitude towards spending is a secondary, unexpected but definitely worthwhile benefit of the blog. I’m now happier to spend $60 on a game I will play than to spend $15 on ten games I probably wont, despite the latter seeming like a great bargain.
When I conceptualised the BBLC, I’d envisioned it as something of a community effort. In its original form it was a forum game, with some moderate success until people started ignoring the core concepts and instead using it as a tool of self-flagellation; complaining and even boasting about the size of their backog and doing nothing to combat it, even though that was the entire point of the thread. (Breathe.) When I revived it I posted it on that same forum, but its traffic had died down massively and my thread saw no traction at all, unfortunately.
I moved it over to a blog format (this one!) and managed to get a couple of friends to jump in on the fun, but it never really took off in the way I would have liked. I think the audience that would appreciate this blog isn’t really on Tumblr (though I do appreciate the 15 followers I’ve amassed in that time)- not to mention Tumblr’s pretty awful when it comes to interactivity with readers and potential players.
I’ve been thinking over that a lot recently, along with thoughts of how I could potentially monetise the idea. I’ve come up with a few ideas, each with pros and cons…
First, I thought a podcast form of the challenge could be pretty neat. The specifics would need to be worked out before going ahead with it, but releasing an episode every month or every two weeks where we talk about the games that have come up in the meantime, our inpressions of that first hour of play, answer and discuss questions from the other ‘casters, and end each section with a Fin Or Bin as is customary. Alternatively, as Pasq suggested, we roll our libraries together, pick a game most of us haven’t played, and each of us spends that hour playing it and we come back to discuss what we thought, sort of like a book club. Perhaps even a combination of the two ideas.
The major con with this idea is that it would require getting at least one other person to commit to doing a regular spot with me, as well as commit to playing however many games our format required. Arranging a time we can talk, setting up the audio, editing and publishing would be a significant time sink even if I elected to do most of that work myself. If the other person/people flaked, that’d grind my progress to a halt. It would be a lot of fun to talk about the lesser-known games, though, and I think it’d be a mostly casual experience. Podcasts are fun!
Another problem, and one common to most of these ideas, is- I’m running out of games! If I could have started doing it 120 games ago there would be a much stronger hook than “Beebs plays 30 games and talks about them”. If I joined up with a couple of other people who each had libraries numbering three digits, it’d quickly become unbalanced.
Streaming was the other idea I thought of, or a youtube series. Go live for an hour or so to play the game as I would have done so regardless, except chat through a microphone while I do it. Them video games streams are popular, so I hear, and if I played one of the bigger-ticket games on the list, it might draw some audience.
Main problem with that angle is that playing a new game would no longer be a leisure activity, and would require set up and the right moodset to be able to put on a good vocal performance. If I was streaming, too, it’d have to be at a regular time, so I couldn’t just play games for a spare hour in the evenings. If I ditch the stream idea and just make it a youtube series, I’d have to think about whether it would just be an audio form of the blog posts (and then, why keep the blog) or if it should just be edited footage like a Lets Play series, which might boil down to 15 minutes of me floundering about with no idea what I’m doing and providing no entertainment.
I do enjoy the idea of a video series, in some form. When I think about the chaos I caused in Project Cars for instance, or that glitch I encountered in Sniper Elite, I wish I had been recording the whole time. I think Beebs-brand fun would make for some entertaining videos.
The problem then again is that there’s only 30-odd games left to go, and I can’t guarantee any of them are going to be entertaining to watch, whereas I can at least write an entertaining post about a dire game.
Either way, it seems like a Discord server is the way to go. I’ve begun setting one up, ready to launch if I ever go ahead with one of these ideas. And, of course, there would be a patreon behind it all.
I worry about my pastime becoming work.
I worry that, as with so many of my projects, I’ll forever say ‘I’ll get around to doing that video/audio/whatever later’, and then procrastinating it until it’s ancient history.
And I worry that people still just aren’t really going to care, which is tolerable at the moment because I’m getting a lot out of it for myself but may become intolerable when I’m putting more hours into it.
Thanks for reading this far, if you did! I’d welcome your thoughts on any of this. Might well be the best thing to do is just to carry on as I have been until I run out of games and call it a done deal, but quite often I’ve enjoyed writing the posts more than playing the games, and I wonder if extending that might be even more rewarding.