Gaming Advent Calendar

At the start of December I decided to do a sort of “gaming advent calendar”, a single-tweet review of a bunch of my favourite video games. I’m collecting them here for posterity. Hopefully you will find something of interest in the list.

Each tweet contained:

  • hashtag #GamingAdventCalendar
  • title & year
  • text review
  • YouTube video link
  • 4x images (box art, flyers, screenshot, etc)

Here begins my #GamingAdventCalendar for 2022.

Twenty-five of my favourite video games between 1st and 25th December. Just for kicks!


1. Flicky (1984)

I adore this so much I own an arcade cabinet! It’s deterministic (no randomness) so you can figure out a repeatable route and turn playing into a zen experience. Controls use leaf switches so feel very analogue. Video


2. Pebble Beach no Hatou (1993)

Or any of the “New 3D Golf Simulation” series; I play the Japanese Mega Drive versions. Great golf, majestic music, super stylish interface & box art, and a tea break after hole 9. Play with CPU overclock! ⛳️🏌️‍♂️ Video


3. Runabout 2 (1999)

This sequel fulfilled the promise of the original and took it to great heights, delivering an almost perfect game of chasing, collecting and crashing. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s like Crazy Taxi! Video


4. Orbital (2006)

Available for both GBA & Wii this is slow motion Katamari Damacy with gravity. You control a star that can absorb smaller stars and crash into larger ones. Two buttons: attract/repel control your orbit & trajectory. Video


5. DigitalGlider Airman (1999)

An immensely rewarding glider sim with perfect difficulty curve and lovely, mysterious vibe. But playing this as an arcade game won’t get you far: it requires thinking, planning & minimal/accurate input. Video


6. Kururin Paradise (2002)

This 2nd GBA game in the series gets my vote as best, tho they’re all great. It dials the concept up to 11 with enhanced level design, goals & controls. On a beach holiday I was so engrossed I got sunstroke. Video


7. A Little Bit of… Nintendo Touch Golf (2009)

This DSiWare reworking of the original game throws out online functionality and adds an extensive Challenge mode to reinforce the core. Mod your device and download it @internetarchive!) Video


8. Smashing Drive (2002)

Superb port of an arcade game people think is like Crazy Taxi but is more Out Run with mad shortcuts! Extended play rewarded by seeing more wow moments. I’m yet to see them all. Crash into King Kong’s bits! Video


9. Polarium Advance (2005)

After seeing a prototype Nintendo demanded a version of this for DS, but the GBA version is more refined & released later. Daily puzzle mode will last you a year. One-handed control for commuting is genius! Video


10. Excite Truck (2006)

An amazingly well-balanced game. Criminally overlooked, maybe because it’s Wii, or only has motion controls? This is a tour de force of close and clever racing; an adrenalin rush like no other once it clicks! Video


11. Downhill Domination (2003)

I often wonder if the developers of Excite Truck were inspired by this game? It’s certainly as close a relative as I’ve found. It features same BIG AIR adrenalin rush, impossible powers and close racing. Video


12. Pilotwings (1990)

One of my fondest memories: my dad playing hang gliding stage on repeat as a relaxation tool. I loved the surprise & delight of the secret levels that were unlocked for being good at the game: I can still do it! Video


13. MaBoShi (2008)

This inventive action game is 3-in-1: Circle, Square & Bar. Circle = physics, Square = turn-based, Bar = Reaction. Circle is quite possibly my favourite game of all time. You can play today using Wii & DS ROMs. See: Video


14. GTi Club: Supermini Festa! (2010)

This is a port of the 3rd game in Konami’s arcade series. Developer Genki added online multi-player & extra features to the console versions. You can still play it online today with a modded Wii! Video


15. Bubble Bobble (1986)

Maybe the greatest ever arcade game!? A tour-de-force by the late, great Fukio “MTJ” Mitsuji, this game has perfectly balanced gameplay, 2-player perks, 100s levels, inventive power-ups, and hidden secrets. Video


16. Magical Puzzle Popils (1991)

Is a highly original puzzle game with mind-bending level design feat. portals and other cool stuff. Created by MTJ (Bubble Bobble) & Jun Amanai it is largely unknown as it is only for Sega Game Gear! 🧵 Video


It’s my birthday! SO… more about POPILS:

whilst trying to 100% the game, my friend Jamie “Junosix” Hamshere and I reverse-engineered/hacked/patched the game to make the step and sub-step count always visible. This makes it easier to beat stage targets! IMAGE

I also discovered a few other previously unknown things: debug mode (step count preview, level select), alt credits, and most notably secret stage 0 that had only been hinted at in the Japanese manual []> ( these are documented at TCRF: IMAGEIMAGEIMAGE

I’ll summarise my complete POPILS adventures in a future blog post, because it’s worth it. But not today. See you in a bit for the big birthday blog post, and tomorrow for the next entry in 🎄

17. Boogie Wings (1992)

This “shmup” contains more ideas than any other single game. At every turn you think you’ve seen it all: you have not. Game designer Kazuyuki Kurata called it a day after this, his only game. A masterpiece. Video


18. Sideswiped (2009)

Crazy, fast, manic, 60fps. There’s racing, plus so much more. My favourite mode involves juggling exploding cars and traffic cones to keep your multiplier and have the road ahead in a constant state of explosion. Video


19. Guru Logi Champ (2001)

Dev COMPILE made games of all types for their Disc Station compilations. Related to those is this puzzle game: rotate the field & pull/push blocks to compete the picture. Sort of Magical Drop meets Picross. Video


20. The Italian Job (2003)

A short 60fps mission-based driving game like “Driver”. Tight arcade controls, demanding targets, interesting env. Story mode echoes movie plot. Stunt mode involves driving elaborate scaffolded courses. Fun! Video


21. Donkey Kong’s Crash Course (2012)

A motion-controlled mini-game in Nintendo Land on Wii U. Navigate the maze-like stages using all your skill and dexterity. A forgotten prototypes that made it into a real game! 100% pure Nintendo. Video


22. Llamatron (1991)

Jeff Minter improves on Robotron by adding elaborate power-ups, enhancing enemies, and channeling Monty Python. Round up animals, avoid radioactive rain, shoot a screaming Mandelbrot set! Assisted by an AI droid? Video


23. Sheep Raider (2001)

A “despicable” 3D puzzle platform stealth game dressed as TV show. Beautifully presented, supremely self-aware, inventive puzzles anchored in the Looney Toons world, good difficulty curve, secrets, jazz …nice! Video


24. Pang (2010)

All prior games in the series are perfectly distilled and stretched across dual screens. A more perfect difficulty curve I am yet to find. Extended play is mind-melding: you begin to think like the level designer! 🤯 Video


25. Winter Gold (1996)

Part Amiga demoscene production, part SNES technical showcase for the Super FX 2 chip, 1–8 players can compete across six winter sports events. Downhill and luge are my favourites. Very fun! Happy Christmas 🎄 Video


26. BONUS! A Little Tree (1995)

This wonderful animated story book by Thoru Yamamoto 山本徹 @thoruman is one of several Christmas-themed works he created using HyperCard on Macintosh. Play/download this, See The Sky and ZiZi Christmas Video


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