Egg-cellent video games for Easter

Easter is here and we know all what the best thing about it is: eggs. Fluffy little chicks hatch from them; they’re used to make all sorts of cake; and the sweet variety provide chocolate for us to munch on while we’re gaming throughout the bank holidays this weekend. And not only that, they feature in some classic titles.

Last year we discussed the best secrets in video games, but this time around we’re focusing on eggs themselves and making them the star of the show. From hard-boiled characters to hatchling dinosaurs to chickens with a grudge, read on for eggy-inspiration if you’re looking for something to play this Easter weekend.

Chuckie Egg

This classic was a ‘game of skill’ released in 1983. It’s also one of the most innocent in the list: Hen-House Harry must collect 12 eggs positioned in each level before a timer reaches zero, collecting piles of seed before they’re eaten by chickens for extra points. It’s worth a play just to hear the rendition of The Birdie Song over the title screen (a little bit of this, a little bit of that and shake your bum).

Dino Eggs

Players stepped into the shoes of Time Master Tim in this 1983 release to collect dinosaur eggs and rescue tiny dinosaurs. Make sure you avoid the snakes, flying creatures and the worst enemy of them all: Dino Mom. Physical contact with any animal would cause our hero to become contaminated and devolve into a prehistoric spider, unless he returned to the transport force field before a timer run out.

Dizzy – The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure

This 1987 title was the first featuring Dizzy – who started off as a face with hands and feet, but then changed to an egg when the developers accepted that everybody thought he was one. It’s up to our oval hero to roll through the land of Katmandu while searching for five items needed to make a potion to defeat the evil wizard Zaks. This was a tough game to crack (pun intended) with only three lives, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a challenge.

Egg Venture

The aim of this 1997 arcade game was extremely simple: ‘shoot bad things’ and ‘avoid shooting bad things’. Each level involved a series of missions such as shooting frying pans instead of eggs, protecting egg scuba divers from piranhas and firing an egg’s submarine through the sea. Expect to have nightmares about CGI eggs with faces and floating hands after playing this one.

Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness

This 2002 puzzler was Tetris in reverse: instead of laying down shapes to create rows and eliminate them from your screen, the blocks are instead used to create a tower to reach a hot-air balloon. You’d expect an egg-heavy game from all the mentions in the title but this only relates to the characters and so it might not give you your Easter fix. But if you’re sick of eggs after working through the releases in our selection, it could be for you.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg

The peaceful world of Morning Land, where the Chicken inhabitants live in harmony, is shattered when Dark Raven and his army of crows cover the world in a blanket of eternal night. Billy Hatcher must obtain the Legendary Chicken Suit to begin a journey to free the six Chicken Elders and stop his nemesis from hatching the Giant Egg to receive ultimate power. I think you’re going to be all chickened out after playing this 2003 title.

EggK47

There’s something strange going on at Terror Taste Farm: the mean, old, greedy farmers have killed all the chickens… except one, who’s now armed with a gun. Pick up eggs as ammo for your weapon, fight off the zombies and collect all the golden eggs to continue on your epic journey through this single-bird shooter. The Steam reviews aren’t entirely positive, but it’s one for you if you want to go on a clucking rampage.

Hell

Created by Babylon Brooks for the A Game By Its Cover jam last year, here’s a weird little title about cooking, rebirth and punishment. It might seem simple with the player cracking eggs into a frying pan as the game starts; but drop one onto the floor and you’ll set off a bizarre chain of events that could see you ending up in the underworld. If you fancy something small and strange this Easter, Hell could be worth a download.

K.S.-n-Kickin

I’d never heard about this title before completing research for this post: why has nobody ever mentioned there was a Kinder Surprise game made for Ferrero with music by Phats & Small and N-Trance? It’s like every 90s dream came true at once. Apologies for the poor quality of the video (and the amount of swearing); there isn’t much footage of K.S-n-Kickin online, which goes to show I’m not the only one who wasn’t aware of it.



Hopefully this selection of games hasn’t scrambled your brain (badum tish). Let us know what you’re playing this Easter in the comments below, and make you eat plenty of chocolate!

Video game one-liners

I don’t often get to spend any time with fiction books nowadays. I used to love the horror and science-fiction genre but those I tend to pick up now are mostly in connection with work. I’m currently reading about the lean framework – a pretty dry subject for anyone outside of IT.

That what makes responding to Pop Culture Literary’s nomination for the One-Liner Challenge so difficult. Nobody here wants to read short summaries of books about IT best-practice and processes; we much prefer stories about epic battles, dramatic rescues and the balance between good and evil. I’m therefore going to put a twist on it and focus instead on video games.

I hope that change still meets Pop Culture Literary’s requirements. As they did for their own challenge, I picked the ten titles below from my Steam Library on a random basis (using a random number generator rather than dice). Here we go – and no spoilers!

Child of Light, video game, box art, princess, castleChild of Light: a young princess named Aurora dies of a mysterious illness but then reawakens, before saving the sun, moon and stars from the Queen of the Night in order to return home



Braid, video game, box art, city, evening, man, bridge, silhouetteBraid: a pretentious platformer featuring a time-reverse mechanic, and a plot about a man rescuing a princess constructed to make the player question who the real monster is



Cat Quest, video game, box art, cat, knight, swordCat Quest: an RPG set in the pawsome world of cats, featuring a frisky feline in pursuit of the evil Drakoth and his catnapped sister through the world of Felingard



Four Last Things, video game, box art, men, instruments, townFour Last Things: an adventure for those who like Monty Python and smutty humour, here’s a man who must re-commit the seven deadly sins after arriving to confess at the wrong church



Sam & Max, Save the World, video game, box art, Freelance Police, dog, rabbitSam & Max Save the World: a hypnosis conspiracy being investigated by the Freelance Police which makes you feel as though you’re watching Saturday morning kids’ television



Knee Deep, video game, box art, title, logo, tree, tipee, crocodile, alligatorKnee Deep: investigate the suicide of a washed-up actor in the backwater town of Cypress Knee with blogger Romana Teague, local reporter Jack Bellet and private investigator K.C. Gaddis



Broken Age, video game, box art, Shay, Vella, boy, girl, asleepBroken Age: funded via Kickstarter and not without controversy, a coming-of-age story about Vella and Shay as they try to escape similar situations in totally different worlds



The Night of the Rabbit, video game, box art, boy, rabbit, treeThe Night of the Rabbit: a white rabbit leads Jerry to Mousewood, where he learns spells while travelling to worlds through portal trees and uses these to defeat the evil magician Zaroff



The Talos Principle, video game, box art, robot, kitten, catThe Talos Principle: a puzzle game which will drive you bonkers, you’re tasked by your creator to solve a series of complex challenges while wondering who you are and what your purpose is



Black Mirror, video game, box art, church, building, mirror, shatteredBlack Mirror: the original (not the remake) about the aftermath of the death of William Gordon, dark secrets and the terrible curse which has decimated the family since the Middle Ages



Thank you to Pop Culture Literary for nominating Later Levels, and for giving me something a little different to write about. I’d love to hear your own one-liners: how would you describe your favourite game in a single sentence?

GameBlast18: March 2018 update

It’s been a bit of a bumpy road towards GameBlast18. We couldn’t make the official dates of 23-25 February 2018 due to a birthday and wedding, and instead had to make our arrangements for the first weekend of March. But then sadly the ‘Beast from the East’ hit the UK, and heavy snow and travel chaos prevented Ben and Nathan from reaching our location in Essex.

On top of that, my gran-in-law was taken critically ill and admitted to hospital during the week prior to the event. This saw us postponing until the following month and I’m extremely sorry to say this was the right decision: she sadly passed away on the day after we would have completed our stream. Our focus has therefore been elsewhere recently while Pete and I spend time with family.

We’re now ready to get back in the game and sincerely appreciate the support received for our GameBlast18 event so far. We didn’t expect to reach 64% of our £400 fundraising target before the stream had even started, and it’s all thanks to you awesome people. We’d love for you to join us while we’re live on Twitch for 24-hours straight from 08:00 BST on Saturday, 07 April 2018 so we show our appreciation.

We’ve got plenty planned for our event this year. Our schedule (full details of which can be found on our Twitch channel) includes an RPG section in honour of the Year of the RPG project hosted by Athena over at AmbiGaming, along with an hourly discussion topic sponsored by Megan from A Geeky Gal. Expect some great video games, plenty of snacks to keep us going, and singing from Nathan.

All money donated via our JustGiving page goes directly to SpecialEffect, a charity which uses technology to help people with disabilities benefit from the fun and inclusion of games. They make it possible for everyone to play the titles we enjoy and take for granted through assessment and equipment modification; and what’s more, they do all this amazing work free of charge.

Ben, Nathan, Pete and myself believe in the positive power of gaming, and the GameBlast event gives us a chance to put this belief into action by showing out support for SpecialEffect,. More details can be found on the official website and in our press release – wish us luck and we’ll see you on Twitch in April!

Finding your ‘thing’: blogging motivation

Blogging can be wonderful. It gives a person the opportunity to express themselves and share their opinions; opens the door to a network of people with similar interests; and is a great way to learn from others and refine your writing skills. No wonder it’s estimated that more than two-million posts are published every day on over 156 million public blogs.

But on the other hand – and putting it quite bluntly – it can also be a pain in the butt. Having to come up with ideas for new articles on a regular basis; finding enough time to properly read the posts created by the bloggers around you; trying to keep up with numerous conversations on social media. Fitting all that in while dealing with family, work and other commitments can be exhausting.

So what motivates us to keep blogging? That’s the question posed by TWOTALL4UFOOL as part of his Liebster Award nomination earlier this month and it’s to him this post is dedicated. What is it that inspires us to keep writing when we have so many other responsibilities in our adult lives and just want to crash out in front of trashy television on the sofa?

Ultimately, I blog because I enjoy it. This was something mentioned by Retro Redress when I asked the question on Twitter: “A huge backlog of games to write about. Truthfully, it’s fun to discuss games and opinions with people.” There have been times I’ve felt like leaving the blogosphere but something always manages to pull me back, whether it’s a new release which motivates a post or a few words of encouragement from a friend.

My brain is firmly founded in logic and processes; being creative therefore isn’t something which comes naturally to me and so having a channel which inspires that side of my personality is a positive thing. Creativity was picked up on by Kevin from The Mental Attic also: “If I don’t use this as a creative outlet and as a vent for my horrible work weeks, I might just start killing people. So it’s best that I continue.”

He also gave ‘stubbornness’ as a reason for blogging and I completely get where he’s coming from. I’m a perfectionist who likes a routine and sticking to a regular posting schedule therefore keeps me going; I know I’d feel a little disappointed if I missed a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Shelby from Falcon Game Reviews commented on this too: “I don’t like quitting things. Plus, writing about games is what got me to try new things. I want to continue experiencing new stuff.”

Trying new things is something which appeals to Will from geeksleeprinserepeat also: “I enjoy writing about new gaming experiences. I think blogging makes me try new games that I wouldn’t normally play. My taste in video games has dramatically changed since I started writing and it’s helped me discover an amazing world of indie games, one that I wasn’t as aware of before.”

Rob from I Played The Game! mentioned the therapeutic benefits: “I find writing quite therapeutic sometimes which helps. Mostly it’s just down to me wanting to put down my thoughts somewhere. People reading it keeps me coming back to it too. If literally no-one was then I’d probably have stopped, but even just a handful makes it feel worthwhile.”

This is the other side which keeps me coming back: you lot. I’ve the opportunity to meet so many awesome writers since I started blogging and have learnt so much from the WordPress community. Several bloggers from the UK are now friends in real life (you know who you are!) and there are others with whom I’ve developed great online friendships. They’re a source of inspiration, advice and support.

The other person in my life who fits that description is my other-half. Pete has always encouraged me to continue writing when I’m going through a ‘down’ period and feel like giving up; but at the same time, I know he’d support me if I ever chose to stop blogging. He and my stepson Ethan constantly give me ideas for new posts through their opinions on games, (funny) things they say or events we go to together.

Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie gave a lovely shout-out to the community: “I realised that I have things to say that I didn’t see other people saying and blogging gives me a way to express myself. In essence, it gives me a voice when I often don’t feel I have one in my everyday life. The other thing, which I didn’t expect when I started, has to be the community. If I stopped writing I would inevitably lose touch with all the people I’ve met, I guess I feel it opens social doors for me, which again is something I struggle with in my offline world.”

Each individual writer must find the ‘thing’ which inspires them to push on. Blogging is challenging and it can be demotivating during those periods when progress isn’t obvious. You need something that’s going to motivate and drive you forward when it feels as though the odds are stacked against you – be it a love for writing, a passion for your subject or the awesome people around you.

What works for one blogger may not necessarily work for another however, and it’s important to take a break if you need to. If you’re not enjoying your pastime, then stop: a hobby is no longer fun when it starts to feel like a job. I learnt myself that if you’re always on the lookout for material for the next article, you forget about the sheer joy that comes from something such as playing video games.

Thank you to TWOTALL4UFOOL for nominating Later Levels for the award and for giving me the opportunity to write this post (and to everyone who responded to my tweet!). To sum the answer to his question, let me take a quote from Flannel Fox: we keep blogging because it’s too good to quit.

Blogging on sunshine

A big thank you to everyone who has nominated Later Levels for an award since the beginning of 2018. I’m amazed by the level of support (not to mention the talent) that comes from the awesome people around me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the WordPress community is one of the best to be a part of, and I’m proud to be a part of this eclectic jigsaw.

For most of Later Levels’ past nominations, I’ve opted to focus on one specific question posed by the nominator and have turned this into an entire post dedicated to them to show my appreciation. But every now and again, someone poses a set of questions which all deserve to be answered – if they make you laugh out loud while reading them, you know you’re going to have fun answering them.

So this post is for you, Joe from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Blogger. Thank you not only for your kind Sunshine Blogger Award, but also for giving me a good chuckle.

What is your all-time favourite sporting moment (personal or witnessed)?

British 10K, race, runners, London, Kim, SpecialEffect

I’m not sure if this strictly qualifies as a ‘sporting moment’, but my choice is when I managed to complete the British 10K for the first time in 2016. In the weeks leading up to the event I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it across the finish line because my training had been sporadic towards the end and was really struggling. So to do so without stopping, and be there supporting SpecialEffect, was amazing.

Which food item would you most like to bring into reality from film or video games?

Root beer, but not the drinking kind. I’m talking about the potent, lethal, undead-defeating type featured in The Secret of Monkey Island. We all know the zombie apocalypse is coming any day now and it’s us gamers who are going to be the most prepared for it due to all of our intensive training. If root beer is a weapon deadly enough to defeat a nemesis like LeChuck, then I’m going to stock up on it.

In your opinion, what is the greatest episode of The Simpsons?

This answer probably won’t be a popular one but I’ll confess: I’m not really a fan of The Simpsons. I tend to prefer my humour a little drier. Plus putting up with a younger brother who quoted episodes verbatim continuously throughout the early 1990s; then going to school with friends who did exactly the same; and then working in IT for over a decade with people who still to it today… it’s enough to put anyone off.

What is your favourite blog post you feel has been overlooked?

PC Gamer Weekender, event, expo, video games, Ethan, Kim, Street Fighter

A couple of months after I started blogging on Later Levels, I decided to publish something more personal than I’d written previously. It shared the difficulties that come from trying to teach my stepson how to game responsibly when his mother and stepfather don’t have much knowledge of video games. This post that went on to set the future tone for the site so this, along with its subject, make it one that means a lot to me.

What is your favourite album?

It’s not a ‘trendy’ choice but my favourite album is Everything Is New by Jack Peñate. This was playing during a big moment in my life: unpacking boxes in my new flat after getting out of a horrible relationship and moving to a different town. Looking back on it now, I remember a feeling of hope for the future and looking forward to what would come next – which happened to be my other-half and stepson.

To the nearest thousand, how many cigarettes has the Smoking Man smoked in The X-Files?

The Cigarette Smoking Man has appeared in 42 episodes of The X-Files. Each episode lasts on average 45 minutes; and according to various sources online (being a non-smoker myself), it takes six minutes to get through a single cigarette. So: (42 episodes x 45 minutes) / 6 minutes for a smoke = 315 cigarettes. But that seems way too low so I’ll just go with ‘far too many’.

If there was one message conveyed with your blog, what would you hope it would be?

EGX, expo, event, video games, crowds

I hope everyone who stumbles across Later Levels feels included. It doesn’t matter who or where you are, how long you’ve been blogging or how good a writer you are; there’s a great community here and there’s a part in it for everyone. Plus there’s the fact that quite a few of us happen to play video games in our spare time so that makes us pretty awesome people.

If you could sit down and have a beer with any video game character, who would it be?

If I went with the answer to the second question above, I’d be having a root beer with LeChuck but I’m not sure that would work out well for either of us. Instead, can I choose someone from real life rather than a video game? If so I’d love to go for a drink with Peter Molyneux; I know he isn’t popular with a lot of gamers but he’s someone I admire for his ambition and ability to dream big (even if it doesn’t always come to fruition).

What colour is the most over-rated?

Pink. Definitely pink.

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?

Time for another confession: I have a phobia of horses and I feel very uncomfortable around them. One of my classmates in junior school had her thumb bitten off by one when we were about seven years old, and the animals have freaked me out ever since. One horse-sized duck therefore seems much more manageable… and just think of all the crispy pancakes (joking!).

Is it ethically right for trainers to keep Pokémon?

pikachu, cartoon, anime, animal

A ten-year old kid decides he wants to become master of these creatures and vows to catch ‘em all. He’s given a temperamental electric rat by a scientist to start him on his journey, which he repeatedly orders to fight other wild animals until they’re weak enough to be captured. They’re then trained to fight other Pokémon and the boy repeats this cycle until he becomes the ultimate master. Need I say more?

Thank you once again to Joe for the nomination, and for giving me the opportunity to answer these questions. I’d love to hear everyone else’s answers; let us know yours in the comments below!

The one that got away

Everyone has their ‘one that got away’: a video game they should finish but just can’t do it. Whether it’s down to limited time, a preference for a different genre or being distracted by newer releases, we all have a title we started but which now sits gathering dust.

Earlier this week I wrote about the reason why I can’t bring myself to complete Dreamfall Chapters, despite adoring The Longest Journey series since first playing it in 2006. It seems like a ridiculous one now it has been put into words on the screen before me: I don’t want to finish it because that would mean the end of the story. But regardless of how silly that is, I’m not yet ready to push forward to the finale and watch the credits roll.

Dreamfall Chapters isn’t the only title by Ragnar Tørnquist that I haven’t been able to complete; there’s another which torments me just as much, albeit for a different cause. This ties in nicely with a question put forward by Dan from The Couch Petito as part of his recent Unique Blogger Award (for which I’m very grateful and humbly thank him for!). Which game did you start but not finish either because it was too difficult or not for you?

Since being introduced to the world of indie gaming and creating my Steam account a number of years ago, there were two releases I wanted to play. The first was To The Moon, which I completed in one sitting and then promptly added to my list of favourite games. The other was The Secret World (relaunched last summer as Secret World Legends), a ‘story-driven shared-world action RPG’ developed by Funcom.

The main reason for this was the fact it had been directed by Tørnquist, the person who’d had a major hand in creating The Longest Journey. The other was the story hook: ‘Players plunge into a shadowy war against the supernatural, where ancient myths and legends cross over into the modern day. Armed with both weapons and superhuman abilities, you will build your powers, solve deep mysteries, and destroy terrifying evils to uncover a dark and captivating storyline that traverses the globe. Can you reveal the truth?’

Well, I certainly wanted to try and do just that. But it just didn’t work out that way.

My Steam profile shows I’ve played five hours but I can’t have made it more than 30 minutes into the game. I can’t seem to get my fingers around the controls: I’m not the most coordinated person at the best of times, but there’s just something about The Secret World which turns me into a button-mashing-mess. Keyboards have been pushed to the floor and mice thrown across the room in bouts of frustration before ‘uninstall’ is clicked.

I’ve tried to play this game at least ten times and the sad thing is, I still want to. I have a feeling I’d really enjoy it if only I could overcome that initial hurdle. My other-half tried to help by learning and teaching me the control scheme a couple of years ago; but that training session was short-lived after a mouse was launched and missed his head by inches (sorry Pete).

I recently purchased Monster Hunter: World and after a few hours of playing, I thought it was going to go the same way as The Secret World. But after getting some good advice from Ben, The Optimistic Gamer and Daniel from Home Button, I’ve actually been able to stick with it (changing to the Dual Blades really helped). I doubt it’ll ever make my favourite games list but I proud of myself for persevering.

So it could be that’s what I need for The Secret World: some more good advice. And with the combat system having been redesigned for the Secret World Legends relaunch last year, perhaps I need to try again. Maybe it’s time to turn this ‘one that got away’ into the ‘one that I finally got to grips with’.