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By Shamus
on Thursday Aug 7, 2008
Filed under:


I have created an Amazon Wishlist. If you’re one of the people who has offered to buy me a game recently because you want to see my review, then read on.

EDIT: Okay. You can stop now. I expected this is be some low-key thing. I thought I might get one or maybe two if someone was feeling generous. Maybe a game would show up every odd month or so. I just checked the page and I have six games on the way. Thanks so much to those who pitched in. I wasn’t expecting this kind of response.

This feels very odd. I’ve been putting off doing this because using a wishlist makes me feel like a late-90’s camwhore. You know, one of those self-absorbed skanks that would string along a collection of lonely male readers by unloading a stream of daily minutiae and an implied promise of boobie pictures in exchange for presents, like some kind of proxy meta-prostitute. Or something.

And really, what I’m doing isn’t that different. Instead of showing you pictures of my boobs rippling chiseled torso, I’ll take the game and write eight or nine metric tons of blather about it. (Probably.)

But I’m trying to think of the list as a natural extension of the symbiotic relationship we have here, where I fill my need to put games under a microscope and you get to… read about it. I guess. I get offers in email and in the comments from time to time: “Can I send you game X for review?” I’m never comfortable accepting these offers for a number of reasons:

  1. There is a (increasingly likely) chance that I’d get the game and find my PC isn’t up to it.
  2. I need to vet titles to make sure I’m interested in them and that they don’t have unacceptable DRM.

So this system seems like a good way of handling this. I have an Amazon wishlist with a few titles that I’m considering for review or as subjects for a future comic. These are titles which have DRM I can tolerate and which will run on my machine. If you’re one of the literally countless* people who have inundated me with these sorts of requests, give it a look and see if your chosen title is in the list. Note that I do not promise to give the game a favorable review. In fact, there are games in the list I have chosen specifically because I’ve played them before and I plan to lampoon them. Be sure you’re comfortable with the idea of me not loving the game.

So this is a two-way wishlist. It’s both for games I wish I had and games you’d wish I’d tackle. Like a Venn diagram, when these two sets overlap, mutual benefit is possible. Also note that I’ll probably get many of these games eventually, so I don’t want you to feel like I’m holding the titles hostage until you pay the ransom. This is for the impatient and generous. You can also look at the list to see what sorts of things I might be covering in the future.

* Assuming you can’t count to four.

Comments (94)

1 2

  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    You’ve never played Knights of the Old Republic?

  2. Shamus says:

    I did play KOTOR, but the copy belonged to someone else, who took it back. :(

  3. Faith says:

    I don’t understand. You’ve played some of the games before but you’re having people buy them for you again?

  4. You’d make such a cute camwhore, Shamus! ;-)

  5. MintSkittle says:

    Shamus, Is there any particular game you want more than others? Or are you just gonna take ’em as you get ’em?

  6. Ambience 327 says:

    I don't understand. You've played some of the games before but you're having people buy them for you again?

    No, he’s showing people the games that he wants, in the hopes that if they already want to buy him a game to be reviewed, that it will be on this list of games that he is both interested in, and has a computer capable of running. That way, everyone wins.

  7. krellen says:

    I’m sorely tempted to buy you Bloodlines; you need to experience that haunted house. But I forgot how much a cult classic that costs a lot it still is. Too bad we can’t pimp it enough to resurrect Troika.

  8. I don’t see Dungeon Keeper on that list anywhere. Of course now that I look it up I notice that its EA… did they buy Bullfrog?

    It was a fun old game, its too bad DK2 wouldn’t work on my machine.

  9. lebkin says:

    A simple note about your list: there is no reason to buy just Titan’s Quest. Titan’s Quest Gold (which has the whole game and its expansion) is also $19.99 from Amazon. I actually just picked it myself (though I got it through Steam). It is a lot of fun. It really scratches that Diablo itch.

  10. m2 says:

    Still can’t believe that you, being an RPG nerd, don’t have KOTOR. I definitely recommend it. I’ve beat it 3 times with each of the class combinations, and with light and dark alignments too. Plus, its fun to be evil, although one scene at the end made me feel like crying. I’d mail it to you, but I guess you don’t have an Xbox.

    But stay away from the sequel, IMO. I bought it, and it has the classic look of an unfinished game. The actual game engine is nicely balanced and very deep, and the crafting system rules. So does the influence system. But the worlds are skeletons, devoid of fun side quests and moral choices. Its too easy to become totally light or dark, and most of your points come from threatening random passerbys or gutting innocent civilians(Nar Shaddaa, I’m looking at you. About 10 Dark Side Point sets from random extortions in the first area alone).

    But it might be worth the money just to say “Give me all your money, then go jump off that cliff” and Mind Trick someone into actually doing it.

  11. Fosse says:

    Bloodlines was on Steam a few months ago for ten bucks. It is the latest official patch version, and it works with the community patches (which in fact circumvent the Steam application starting, as well, though I don’t believe that was intended).

  12. Luke Maciak says:

    @krellen – I agree, the haunted house in Bloodlines was awesome. I kinda lost interest later in the game. I still have it around and one day I will maybe finish it… If I can pry myself from WoW that is. :P

  13. Shamus says:

    The overpriced Bloodlines removed. Ditto for Titan’s quest and another grossly overpriced game which now escapes my memory. (Geeze. It was only 5 mins. ago. Stupid brain.) Thanks for the heads up.

  14. MikeSSJ says:

    Interesting list.

    Mainly because I own about 80% of it myself, and am already looking forward to your eventual reviews.

    Although your reviews are usually fun to read anyway, there’s always this special feeling when I know exactly what you’re talking about :)

  15. Carra says:

    I seem to be thinking the same as some other users:
    “What, Shamus never played knights of the old republic? the heretic!”.

  16. Kevin says:

    What do we have to buy for you to get to see your boobies?

    I think I’ll become a chocolate reviewer. Excuse me while I get to work on MY wishlist…

  17. Shamus says:

    Again: I played KOTOR, but then the cruel and selfish JERK who owned the game took it back. (Thanks Eric!)

    Since writing an article or making a comic both require screenshots, I’ll actually need to re-acquire the game.

  18. Shamus says:

    What do we have to buy for you to get to see your boobies?

    A gun. And point it at me.

    Then we’ll see.

  19. krellen says:

    I wouldn’t really say Bloodlines was “over” priced. $58 is a bit steep, but the game is certainly worth it. I’ve probably played through it about a dozen times by now. I’d rate the quality of the game, at least up until the last couple of “levels”*, to be on par with Fallout, so that’s saying a lot. There’s a reason the NMA folks like to trot out Bloodlines as what RPGs should be.

    Of course, a few other sellers are offering it for $45. I might shill out for that.

    *The last few missions – basically everything after Chinatown – are clearly a rush-to-finish thing typical of many mainstream games. It was rushed to shelves early.

  20. Snook says:

    As others have said I’m looking forwards to your review of KOTOR, mainly because I’d like to see what you think of the game mechanics. You’ve harangued the D20 system when it’s in a video game, mostly for not working very well, but I find it’s been pulled off really nicely in KOTOR (with some annoying instances like when you MISS A DOOR you’re trying to bash open.)

    Also, your views on the “moral choices” offered in the game should be amusing as well, and give you flashbacks to Fable… Once again it’s selfish asshole vs naive goon. But the story! Oh, the story is wondrous…

    If I had the money I’d buy it for you but I can’t afford any games for myself, let alone others. College is too expensive, and the recent wad of cash I dumped on a new laptop (my old Dell from 2003 finally kicked the bucket) hurt my wallet like none other.

  21. Kilmor says:

    I assume you don’t have a Wii ?

    Resident Evil 4 for the Wii I think has been referred to as the best version ever of RE4. Its alot more fun when you get to actually point at stuff, thats for sure.

  22. Martin says:

    San Andreas for 5 bucks?

    Hell, I might even get that for myself.

  23. TehShrike says:

    What’s your Steam email address/login? I’d send you some games over the tubes…

  24. Neil D. says:

    I bought the Titans Quest gold package so I would get both the original and the expansion together. I played through the original, then loaded the expansion.

    “Weird, ” I thought, “it has the same opening movie. What’s the new storyline?”

    Then I thought: “This looks very familiar. I’m getting a bad feeling about this.”

    Then I checked the manual and thought: “Son of a bitching whore!! IT’S THE SAME GODDAMNED GAME!!”

    Apparently they added some items, some new quests, and the ability to create some items. I don’t know where the new quests come in or if they’re any good, but they don’t show up within the first couple of teleport zones which is all the time I was willing to waste replaying parts I’d already seen.

  25. quadir says:

    Seems questionable to run a commercial website (read: you run huge banner ads) talking about video games, then expect your public to also provide the games to comment on.

    It’s better then asking the publishers for a copy (who then expect a favorable review) but I’m still not entirely comfortable with this setup. There was a pretty huge discussion about this stuff wrt game journalism recently, and I recall that one opinion was that the companies doing reviews should buy their own games.

    I know I don’t have to contribute, I’m merely discussing the idea itself. Maybe this is a bit like working on commission?

  26. Roxysteve says:


    Well then, why not solicit used versions of these games from people who are well sick of them? The only reason I can think that this wouldn’t work would be that the DRM wouldn’t let you install them on your machine. Since you openly oppose DRM infestation this is not a loss.

    No money spent, no foul incurred, no boobshotz needed.


  27. MRL says:

    Ooh. Definitely going to help out with this when I can…and half the fun of reading reviews is having the reviewer lay into a flaw in a game! It’d be no fun to read if they liked everything they played (which is why I could NEVER be a good reviewer).

  28. Chris Arndt says:

    Simple questions:

    what software do you use to obtain screencaps (I assume it is not simply pressing the “PrtSc” key and then pasting)?

    I forgot the rest of my questions.

    If anyone can answer question of how they record/capture sequences of gameplay on PC and console, including but not limited to still captures, that would be nice too.

    If anyone can answer quickly what free software can most quickly and efficiently staple together two AVIs and convert them into one AVI that is smaller than 100 MBs, that would spare me a trip to my brother-in-law’s. Not that I don’t love my family, but they live in Lansing and that’s out of my way right now.

  29. Chris Arndt says:

    There’s nothing questionable about providing a venue through which one can obtain the subjects of numerous inquiries if one does not wish to purchase those subjects of inquiry.

    I still find Scott Kurtz’s requests for stuff to be annoying and a little disgusting, when I think about it. I try not to be thinking about his “anyone want to get me a free….” requests or I would be driven not to read his free webcomic.

    You create entertaining art for a living, a living that enables much additional prosperity. I begrudge no one that. I’ll even consider it “work” sometimes. I consider arranging the commercial aspects of the art “work”. But when a popular individual who profits well from his work asks for (more) complimentary elements, it is either silly or irritating.

    Shamus is not engaging in this. He requests that he does not pay out of pocket for indulging his audience’s entertainment requests.

  30. David V.S. says:

    Not on your wishlist, but free classic survival horror:

    Clock Tower at The Underdogs

    Have you played it?

  31. Derek K says:

    quadir: If the point of Shamus’ site was to review first run games and make purchasing recommendations, it might be slightly more relevant. But he’s still simply saying “I would consider reviewing this game, if I had it” and then letting people basically pick what he works on next.

    I guess commission is a fair metaphor – if you want Shamus to work on your art, you can cause that to happen with money. Otherwise, you get what ever he wants to do.

    Also: Tabula Rasa, eh? Apparently many people are coming back to that – I was in the beta and first month, so I’m considering it – I’m reallllllllllllly tempted to get you that to see what you think. ;)

  32. Strangeite says:

    quadir: I would agree with you IF Twentysidedtale was a “professional” site, but it certainly is not. I have a couple of Google Ads on my personal blog, does that make me a professional writer? No. I would be shocked if the “huge banner ads” even paid for his bandwidth.

    More importantly, I completely disagree with your assertion that Shamus is expecting his public to provide games for him to comment on. I have the complete opposite impression. Shamus has developed a small but devoted audience that appreciates his reviews. Many (ok, some) have inquired if they could provide him with games. He has simply made that possible.

    I think of it this way. If you invited me over for dinner and I asked if there was anything I could bring, I would not begrudge you if you asked if I could bring a bottle of wine.

  33. qrter says:

    How about buying over Steam? Vampire: Bloodlines is 20 bucks on Steam.

    Even more interesting – the purchased items list! The real upcoming blog posts list! ;)

  34. DGM says:

    For the cheapskates among us: would you accept someone, say, mailing you their old copy of KOTOR instead of buying you a new one?

  35. Smileyfax says:

    Regarding the mess that was KOTOR 2, these fellows seem to be pretty close to fixing it: http://www.team-gizka.org/

    KOTOR 2 actually had some pretty interesting shades-of-grey morality stuff going on, not just the usual saint vs. asshole options. Plus, I think it felt more cinematic/awesome than KOTOR 1 (if you ignore the horrible mauling of the game in the last act).

  36. Richard Smith says:

    I’ve played ObsCure on the Xbox, and am curious to know what you think of it.

  37. Alex says:

    I did play KOTOR, but the copy belonged to someone else, who took it back.

    To the fires of Mount Doom?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an article or two tearing into KOTOR. But considering I’m the only person in the universe who didn’t like it, and the fact that it’s a Bioware game with DnD rules implemented into its battle system, I get the feeling it’d be right up your alley.

    And let’s face it, good reviews just aren’t as fun as bad reviews. Suffering makes for a much more engaging read… Or maybe I’m just a sadist when it comes to reading other people’s blogs. =D

  38. Derek K says:

    I will admit that I might become a fanboi PiTA if Shamus came out *too* hard on KoTOR.

    Don’t hurt my baby. We loveses the precious.

  39. R4byde says:

    Just a word of advice, don’t get RE4 on the PC, I’ve heard nothing but bad things about it. What do you want RE4 for though? Didn’t you already review it?

  40. Derek K says:

    Screw not having played KoTOR – you haven’t played MoO 2?!

    I’m praying that’s a “I need screen shots” not “I haven’t played it.”

    Otherwise I may not come back here ever again.

    Also: CoH. Yes. Yes yes. I need to get back in to CoH. This may help. ;)

    Play on Virtue.

  41. Steve C says:

    Alex (36) said:

    considering I'm the only person in the universe who didn't like it

    I wasn’t crazy about KotOR either. The combat system was ok but the npcs and plot was total crap. Most disappointingly the morality system was a total sham. When I played through I would save before a “moral” choice and picked all the answers to see what would happen. Most of the time NPCs would say EXACTLY the same thing, and the numbers of times a different result would occur could be counted on 1 hand. Total sham.

    If you really like KotOR I suggest you try it. Decide to play good or bad, but save your game each time you come to a “choice” and pick all the options with the one you want to keep as your last pick before you continue. You will see the false sense of choice in the game.

  42. Gahaz says:

    Take RE4 for PC off that list. It is the worst port I have ever played, and its rated as such. Look around the webs and you will see its a technical nightmare.

    Post the Wii version up there. Its awesome.

    For Christ’s sake you can’t even use the mouse! You have to aim with the G-D arrow keys!

  43. Poet says:

    Someone must get Bloodlines for Shamus. I’m a big fan of the World of Darkness, but I never thought it could translate into a PC game well. I was more than happy, after playing it, to admit I was wrong. It gave me hope for the nWoD MMORPG. I’m half tempted just to mail my copy, but I still toss it in and play it on a semi-regular basis.

  44. journeyman says:

    Considering I got my copy of Bloodlines for just $20 back in ’05 and I live in Australia, home of criminally overpriced games, I’d hardly say it’s an overpriced game. It’s actually a really good game too, if you can ignore the fact that it’s probably the single buggiest game (at least, buggiest I’ve played) of the last decade.

    Consider my name added to the chorus of people telling you the KotOR is utterly fantastic and must be played.

    San Andreas is also great, though you’ll likely be frustrated by your usual complaints with the series (DIAS gameplay, hateable main characters).

    Don’t subject yourself to trying to play RE4 on PC, just get the Wii or PS2 version instead. Normally I’m all for PC but this is a rubbish port on par with the potentially excellent Godfather game.

    Finally, though I haven’t played it myself, from the sound of Yahtzee’s review and your Silent Hill 5 post from a couple days ago you’ll probably hate Origins.

  45. sithson says:

    Yes! This is something I wish shamus did a LOOOOOOOOONG time ago. Enjoy some GTA : SA from me. =D

  46. MadTinkerer says:

    I might get you Tabula Rasa with my next paycheck.

    Too bad Bioshock isn’t on the list. ;)

  47. Kotenku says:

    I’m really baffled by this. Where on earth do you get the idea that this is even remotely right?!

    Camwhores are thriving now, more than ever!

  48. AstroBoy says:

    You know what else is surprising? I bought KotOR for 20AUD in an actual store (as in, not online). Amazon says it’s $27.99 or more.

  49. Rev_Blacky says:

    Dungeon Keeper 1 & 2, best games ever!
    Well, and Carmageddon (the first one, not 2 & 3)…

  50. Thomas says:

    I second the request for a Steam account to gift Bloodlines to.

  51. Alexis says:

    One, two, four. Like, DUH!

  52. Tim G. says:

    This is a reply to Steve C.

    I think you’re mistaking the morality system with the invisible rails plot. The choices you make along the way don’t really alter the plot but they do change you.

    Of course, I would love to play a game where you could substantially alter the game through each moral choice to kill or save, but I’m guessing the number of branches on the plot tree would make it basically impossible to create.

    A simpler way might be to create alternative quests that are available only to players of a certain alignment level (some for neutral, some for good, some for evil). This enhances replayability, but at the cost of 3 times the story development without noticable benefit in the first run through.

    Another way to do it would be to only allow a true branching after the first segment of the game, so that their first group of choices determines the plot they will follow (if you start down the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny). An example of this would if your decisions on the station in KOTOR2 determined whether or not the disastrous event occured when leaving the station, and changed whether the plot had you trying to repair the damage.

  53. ngthagg says:

    Alas, shamcam.com is already taken.

    YoungAndShamlus.com is still open, but even I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

  54. Blockenstein says:

    The folks who have spoken before me are very much correct, Shamus:

    Steam is the best way to get Bloodlines.
    The Wii is the best way to play RE4.

    Heed their advice, for they are wise.

  55. Shamus says:

    Whole buch of questions at once:

    Our Wii is in the living room, so RE4 on the Wii isn’t an option. It’s not safe for kids, and it wouldn’t be plugged into my screencap infrastructure.

    Thanks for the warning on the PC version of RE4. Removed from list.

    My Steam account name: ShamusYoung

    Also, is it true that you can “give” used games to other Steam users when you’re done with them? I thought that was just a special case allowed for HL2 and EP1. If they allow that in general then it changes my perception of the thing. (A bit.)

  56. Shamus says:

    On this being a “professional” site: I still see it as a personal hobby site. Although, I shamefully admit that it DOES turn a profit. I ran the numbers, and it turns out I make ninety-three cents an hour for the time I put in here. I’m not complaining. This is more than a lot of bloggers make and I’m grateful for the success I’ve had.

    Still, I’d continue to do it if I made zero. Heck, I did it back in the days of DMotR, when I operated at a modest loss. But let us not confuse what I do here with some sort of business enterprise.

  57. K says:

    93 cents.. Impressive. :)

    I am looking forward to you ripping apart Titans Quest, because that game was just horrible. I mean: Hotkeys as a statistic which grows as you level? UUUUUAAARGGGGGG!!!!

  58. DGM says:

    Shamus said: “Okay. You can stop now. I just checked the page and I have six games on the way.”

    In less than a day? Yikes. So much for pitching in my old copy of KOTOR.

    On a seperate note, there’s no shame in making a profit off of your site, either in the form of ad clicks or game contributions. On the contrary, I’d say it’s something to be proud of. I know I’d love it if my readers – both of ’em – told me what they’d pay to see me write about.

  59. Thomas says:

    Regarding Steam Gifts:

    I don’t think it allows gifting of used games. With the Orange box, if you were getting a “redundant” copy of HL2 or Ep1 it would let you give it away. However, it does allow the giving of new games (buy it for someone else).

    I don’t know if there is any architecture in place to prevent redundant buying of games, since I haven’t actually bought any steam gifts yet.

  60. Jim says:

    Also, is it true that you can “give” used games to other Steam users when you're done with them?No, HL2 and HL2:EP1 could only be given away by users who already owned them and then received a second copy when they bought the Orange Box.

  61. Jim says:

    Oops, looks like Thomas beat me by 4 minutes, and then I missed the window to edit my post. Oh well, I’ll post that here, and attach an essay on GTA as well.

    Warning: some minor San Andreas spoilers ahead.

    “San Andreas is also great, though you'll likely be frustrated by your usual complaints with the series (DIAS gameplay, hateable main characters).”

    I’m a big-time GTA junkie who actually loves the DIAS gameplay. I know many people hate it, and most others probably just tolerate it, so I’m in a pretty extreme minority.

    However the real thrust of my comment is RE: “hateable main characters”. I hated Tommy Vercetti from Vice City, I just got a PSP and am 2 hours into Liberty City Stories yet I already hate Toni Cipriani there, and at best I’m indifference towards Claude from GTA3 since as a silent protagonist its difficult to feel anything about him. (Hard to say how I’ll feel about Victor Vance in Vice City Stories, since I thought Lance Vance was more likable then Tommy in Vice City; and I don’t have an Xbox360 so I haven’t gotten to play IV yet.)

    But from the beginning of San Andreas I liked CJ and that never changed. All of the other guys were self-obsessed jerks that didn’t have any real depth or emotional response beyond rage. CJ felt much more real to me and seemed to respond much more realistically then the other main characters (though he is still obviously over the top). And probably most importantly CJ didn’t seem as egocentric, though that might have been me reading something into the character that didn’t really exist.

    And even the way other characters treated CJ made me like him more. His evolving relationship with Cesar, the way Sweet knocks him back to reality after he (Sweet) is freed from Jail, how Tenpenny keeps him under his foot throughout the game, the whole arc with Mike Toreno, and the relationship he forms with Woozie. I felt all of these interactions helped make Carl feel much more well-rounded and likable as they framed him as someone who gets things wrong occasionally. And then he’d frequently take what other characters said to heart and work to make things right.

    And aside from Tenpenny, Pulaski and Ryder (who are supposed to be jerks) I thought the main, and even secondary and minor NPCs were all interesting too and likable too.

  62. Steve C says:

    @Tim G(53):Nope. The invisible plot rails were their own load of crap and I mentioned them above separately.

    The morality system didn’t change you enough and in many cases it where it was not exactly the same result, it was always basically the same result* if you were a jerk or a nice guy. For example getting info from being nice, or threating death, or mind control resulted in the same info delivered exactly the same way from the npc. Sometimes some extra token line like “oh please don’t hurt me!” got thrown into one of the options but it was just that… a token line.

    Though I should clarify that when I mentioned “NPCs” above referred to the characters you have -no- control over. I think of any character I can dictate combat actions and allocate skills on level up as PCs. The one main character was the protagonist but not the only PC. The party members were ok PCs. They still should have reacted more severely than they did. It would have been cool if they started fighting -each other- at some point as their personalities clashed. Yes I know some of them turn on the protagonist at the end, but it felt false. (Why didn’t you turn on me sooner? You could have saved so many innocents.)

    * Only exception I can think of off the top of my head was the catgirl jedi. It mattered how you dealt with her when she was an npc. Whole game should have been like that first interaction for the morality system to feel “genuine” rather than the facade I ended up perceiving.

    BTW Congratulations Shamus on drastically increasing your income from 93 cents an hour. Now it’s a cup of coffee plus games!

  63. qrter says:

    “I'm a big-time GTA junkie who actually loves the DIAS gameplay.”

    Historically, Shamus really doesn’t like DIAS gameplay..

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