Creative Christmas: party playlist

It’s day four of the Creative Christmas collaboration, where a group of bloggers come together to tackle 12 video-game-related questions based around a loose festive storyline. Following on from yesterday’s answer about helping out in Santa’s workshop, the next question is:

It’s now Christmas Eve and you’re throwing a lively party for all your friends, family and favourite characters. Which video game soundtracks would be on your playlist?

My answer

I’m a huge fan of the eighties and love most things to do with the decade. I’d also love to throw the perfect party like those you see in the movies: ones with glitter, streamers and big puffball skirts, where everyone on the dancefloor knows the exact same moves. It’s therefore no surprise my Christmas gathering would be inspired by the decade and feature video game soundtracks to suit the mood.

To kick us off, I’d start with the music used throughout Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It’s so awesome that it even got its own official release. With classics such as Run To You and Waiting for a Girl Like You (not to mention the DJs), it’s perfect for dancing yourself silly and singing at the top of your voice until your throat hurts.

Next up we’d turn to chiptune and keep it old-school by visiting the original Outrun soundtrack. My brother had the title on his Game Gear when we were young and I used to steal it all the time so I could play it (much to his annoyance). My favourite track was Passing Breeze and it takes me back to being a kid when I hear it.

Keeping the vibe going but taking a modern turn, we’d move onto the soundtrack from Neon Drive. This isn’t a game I’ve played myself just yet but one I was turned onto after reading this review on Pardon The Gamer. I absolutely adore its bright visuals and eighties aesthetic, and the music suits them right down to the ground.

Hotline Miami isn’t a game you’d think about alongside Christmas due to its level of violence, and it’s actually not my cup-of-tea in terms of gameplay. But one area where it does strike all the right notes (pun intended) is with its music. This has got to be one of the best soundtracks within a video game and perfect for an eighties party.

To round the evening off, we’d go for the big finale: If It’s Not Alright Now, It Will Be Soon by Chris from OverThinker Y. This is a track this talented man wrote for me when I participated in his Musical Mayhem series earlier this year, and I absolutely love it.

Other answers

🎁   Thero159 from A Reluctant Hero
👪   Joey from AlunaRL
🎅   Athena from AmbiGaming
❤   ClanGeek
🦌   Morgan from Fistful of Glitter
🎄   Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog
🎮   LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release
🤞   NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog
🎉   Dan and Jon from
🎁   Chris from OverThinker Y
🎅   Retro Redress
🎶   Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie
❤   Brandon from That Green Dude
🦌   The Dragon’s Tea Party
🎄   The Gaming Diaries
🦃   Kevin from The Mental Attic
👗   The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

The Creative Christmas collaboration is open to everyone and further details can be found in this post if you’d like to join in! Tomorrow’s question: The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?

Beginner’s guide to indie: part one

If you’re a regular Later Levels visitor, it’s obvious I’m a fan of indie games. Starting up a large RPG can be an incredibly daunting experience when you’re short on spare time due to a hectic job and family. But smaller titles can fit in well with a busy routine, and there’s something nice about being able to complete a game within several sittings before moving onto the next one.

During a recent conversation with Dan from Now is Games, he asked if I’d ever written a guide for gamers who were new to indie releases. It wasn’t something I’d ever considered but it seemed like a good idea – so thanks to Dan for being the inspiration behind this post!

A disclaimer before I launch into my list: this contains only titles I’ve actually played myself and, as pretty obvious from the content on Later Levels, I tend to favour adventures or games with strong narratives. However, I’ve done my best to ensure not every entry is a point-and-click (although there are still a couple) and hopefully everyone will be able to find something that piques their interest. So without further ado, here’s the first part of my beginner’s guide to indie…


Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller remains one of my favourite point-and-click adventures despite being released back in 2012. It features FBI agent Erica, who has the ability of postcognition, while on her search for her brother’s murderer: the Cain Killer. This is a grown-up murder-mystery and not a game for children, and it’s one of those titles that’s so deserving of a sequel. Come on, Phoenix Online Studios – make it happen!

Are you a fan of harmless smut, very naughty boys and humorous tales of redemption? Then Four Last Things may be just the indie release for you, as it’s almost as if The Secret of Monkey Island had been made in 16th century Flanders by a time-travelling Monty Python fanboy. It’s also worth checking out Joe Richardson earlier adventure, The Preposterous Awesomeness of Everything, even if it’s just for the ‘backflip’ button and cat on the title screen.


The next two titles are ones with amazing soundtracks, so I’d highly recommend checking out the music even if you’re not a fan of action games. First up is Bastion and if you’re looking for a beautiful RPG you can get lost in for several hours, then this may just be the one for you. Sure, it doesn’t provide as much challenge as some other releases out there; but does everything really need to be as difficult as Dark Souls?

Next is Hotline Miami and this isn’t a video game for anyone who’s offended by blood – even the pixelated kind – or gratuitous violence. But if you’re looking for vicious enemies, bullets and action, along with a storyline about taking on the Russian Mafia, then it will prove to be right up your street. It’s actually not my cup-of-tea but it generally receives positive reviews and has made it onto my list for the soundtrack alone.

Couch co-ops

Overcooked is a great game if you’re looking for something to play with the family that doesn’t feature anything inappropriate for the little’uns. Players take on the role of chefs in a kitchen and must work as a team to prepare meals, all while under a time limit to complete as many dishes as possible. It’s a lot harder than it sounds – and be careful you don’t spend too long wondering who on earth designs their cooking station like this.

If you’re looking for something a bit more ‘adult’ however, why not give Quiplash a try. Players give answers to prompts such as ‘the worst thing you could discover in your burrito’ and the audience votes for their favourite. There are no wrong answers but it’s definitely necessary to prepare yourself for some rude ones and jokes at your expense; it’s highly likely that ‘Dad’s bum’ always appears on-screen whenever my stepson is involved in a round.

Exploration games

The year is 1989 and Henry has taken on the role of a Shoshone National Forest fire lookout. Why are the strange things happening to him and supervisor Delilah connected to a mystery from years ago? Firewatch is an awesome-looking game with some of the best writing and voice-acting I’ve ever come across… but it’s probably not one to play if you have a fear of being alone in the wilderness while someone is watching you, however.

Gone Home is another title that probably won’t be for you if you don’t like being alone, but there are no jump-scares here despite the abandoned house you find yourself in front of at the beginning of the game. It’s a beautifully-told story: here is a bittersweet tale about love, loss and sacrifice, and it’s very touchingly and expertly written. You’ll probably have a tear in your eye by the time you reach the end so you might want to keep a box of tissues handy.

That’s it for now, so hopefully I’ve pointed you in the direction of something new to play if you’re not already familiar with indie games. But if your favourite genre didn’t make the list this time, come back for more on Friday when part two will be published.