Hey Harvey!

Posted on Nov 18th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under Trance inducing without recreational chemicals , Tetris, No Mans Sky, FZero, Pinball, Double Dribble, VR is pretty good for this too

Pic from advancehappynewyear2017.com

For many of us, to say the year 2016 has been difficult would be an understatement on par with mentioning the N-Gage never quite surpassed the Game Boy Advance.  It seems everyone I know had a tough year for several reasons, and I spent quite a bit of it with family members in hospitals or medical appointments.  Many good things happened, but it seemed every week the idea of a return to some 'normal' got pushed further and further out.  I think I see some disadvantages to this whole 'being the adult' thing that never got spelled out alongside the whole cookies-and-bedtime-whenever-I-want setup.  Or maybe it was spelled out and I was too busy drawing plans for my future home, complete with helipad and shopping mall in the backyard.  (Was I the only kid who drew that up?)   

Oh, and I guess some famous family is moving out of a nice house near Virginia and the new family moving in is making the neighbors nervous or something?  We live in a strange country.  And it's not even Canada!  (Although I hear they have some nifty retro-stocked video game stores up there.)  And apparently some Brexfast thing happened and now importing games is all confusing and/or tasty?  Crazy world. 

Most folks on this site likely play games to unwind, unless you play games to get mad, in which case I recommend Carrier Command for Xbox 360.  For the rest of us, it's good to have our go-to games for decompression.*  You know what I mean; those games you aren't necessarily playing to complete, but rather to mentally unfurl and let the stresses of the day process somewhere in the back of your mind.

Maybe it's an RPG or dungeon-crawler you mindlessly level-grind.  Or a puzzle game like Tetris or Bejeweled.  Many old-school PC folks still whittle away hours on Solitaire.  I've seen a middle-aged couple keep an ol' grey NES and the classic SMB/DH cart (the only cart they owned) just to keep replaying their first and only Mario game.  While they were our neighbors, I probably watched them complete it a few dozen times a year.  They knew the game inside and out, and to play was just to relax.

And this year, boy has that type of game been useful!  Sure, there are comfort movies, classic books to read again, and excellent albums that you could listen to any day.  But there is a special simultaneous engagement/disengagement that comes with certain video games.  Here's my personal list of favorites, both modern and classic:

Terraria/Minecraft/No Man's Sky
These see a lot of play lately, and seem custom built for setting up a game and wandering, exploring, and just relaxing.  No Man's Sky is my personal favorite on this list, and I still think that if this is the type of mindset you have going in, it's one of the best.

Pic from Gematsu.

Tetris/Bejeweled/Meteos/Lumines/Planet Puzzle League
Tetris will always be my standby, and I have in fact played it in my dreams, but it was the original Meteos on DS that had me trying to match the patterns on upholstery... and surprised when it didn't go launching into the sky.

Pic from ign

Metroid Prime Pinball/Devil's Crush/Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection/Marvel Pinball Epic Collection: Vol. 1
Metroid Prime Pinball almost doesn't make this list because half of the time I get too involved in a play, and that defeats the point of the article.  But it can also be a wonderful wind-down.  The Marvel collection so far has fit the bill wonderfully as well.  And I'm always up for a few rounds of Medieval Madness.

F-Zero/Forza Horizon 3/Dirt/Dirt2/Dirt3
FH3 lived up to its trailer promises, and I spent many an hour cruising around and doing races at my own leasure.  It's a beautiful racer that's easy to relax to.
But I may never memorize a racing game like I have the original F-Zero.

I'm assuming a sports fan would enjoy a Madden, FIFA, or NBA 2K match.  Me, I like to see how many dozens of points ahead of the AI team I can score on Double Dribble.

*squeak* *squeak* *squeak*
Familiar Retro Gaming
I mentioned the SMB couple already, and many of us have games from our youth that we return to as a comfort experience.  Most of mine are on the Super Nintendo: Contra III, Super Castlevania IV, Turtles in Time, Axelay, U.N. Squadron, and F-Zero are familiar friends.  And sometimes I go further back and spend some time on Necromancer, Spider Fighter, or Seaquest.  It's amazing how an in-the-groove session with these can feel like it lasts forever.

I can play this game until either the joystick breaks or my hand cramps.  Usually the latter.

Pretty much any JRPG can fit here, as well as dungeon-crawlers.  The Etrian Odyssey series have been my go-to's, as well as the SNES-era RPGs like FFII/II (IV/VI) and Chrono Trigger.

Etrian Odyssey II, also known as the game that kept me sane through many a hospital visit.  Pic from ign.

These game have been some of my I-need-a-break-from-reality havens every now and then.  They are, of course, no substitute for a good friend by your side, which is why I normally play alongside one.  And we all know it's dangerous to spend too much time away from the real world (try not to play any of these for, oh, more than 200 hours at a time.)  But I wanted to share some of the helpful chill-out games I've used over the last few years.

How about sharing some of yours?

*Unless you live underwater, in which case you should likely follow a very different procedure.


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Love the article, Jess.  And what a request!  Luckily, I read this ahead of time Wink

- Dying Light: The Following - I like to head out in my buggy just as the last sunset warning pops up in a mad rush to randomly selected save point.  For some reason what should be tension turns into relaxation as I dodge zombies, trees, and other vehicles in the near-dark as I haul it before the Volatiles swarm.

- Old PC Platformers - I love playing old PC platformers.  Something about them just takes the edge off of the day.  My current fav is Dangerous Dave.

- GTA III , Vice City, and San Andreas on PS2 - My go-to "chill" games from roughly 2002 to 2010.  I own prettier and smoother playing version of these games, but the PS2 originals are the buggiest, and thus, the most fun for just exploring.  I don't go on killing sprees or just avoid the law with max stars (at least, not intentionally), instead I tool around and watch the oddities.  For example, minivans in GTAIII will often exhibit "revenge" style of behavior against any that hit them.

Dragon Quest VII 3DS - I foolishly thought I would be able to plow through this game in a month, instead I found what likely will be my go-to for grinding for quite a while.  A long, long while.
2016 has certainly been a crazy year. I've been playing OwlBoy lately and it's story dependency and failure isn't the end has been really appealing. I find myself getting lost in the game and it has a great soundtrack.

As far as older titles go I've been playing Hyperstone Heist on the Genesis. It's something I don't have to think about and can just enjoy.

I've been on the go so much this year for appointments and so on, my entire gaming habit seems to have changed. I'm playing either a handheld or a phone game most of the time to kill time while waiting. I'm finding it hard to just unwind when I get home and turn on the Wii U to console game. When I somehow get some time to game in front of the TV, it's mostly CoD: Blops II for a bit then bedtime... The only real plus to this go, go lifestyle lately is that I've been discovering some great games on the go that I normally wouldn't have given the time of day before.
Nice article, Jess!  I like this idea of "wind down" games.  I certainly have a few of those.  I get far too into Tetris for it to work for me in that sense, though it can be relaxing, but as I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago, Columns on Sega Genesis is my go-to "zen game".  It's the one I can sit down and just chill with, not worrying about how well I'm doing, or what my score is, because I can just play until I'm done.  The original Super Mario Bros is like that for me as well, at least up through about world 4.  After that, it starts getting hairy, and my engagement level ramps up, as does my frustration when I mess up, but as much muscle memory as I have for the first half of the game, it works for that.  Another is the original King's Quest.  I have that game nearly memorized, so playing through it from time to time is a nice way to chill out.  Same goes for the original Super Mario Land on Game Boy.  I pull that out at least once a year and play through it just because it's fun and relaxing every time.

What's this Brexfast thing?  I want in on some delicious foodstuffs...

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