Gaming on a Budget
Keeping things cheep-cheep.
So, one of the things we are very aware of here at startmenu is gaming on a budget. As a student myself, it has become necessary for me to weigh up price vs enjoyment vs hours I can afford to play said game. I’ve ended up learning a few things from trying to game frugally, so here are my top 5 tips on how to game on a budget.
Apex Legends, Fortnite and Tetris 99 all come under the wide umbrella of the Battle Royale. Luckily for us, they’re free! Yeah yeah I know you might not get the extra sprinkles of getting all the pretty aesthetics or even get to play all the characters straight, but ice cream without sprinkles is still ice cream right? I pick these three because they also offer shorter time commitments, which can be really useful if you work a lot or like in my case should be doing a dissertation. Tetris 99 especially, if you have the willpower to stop, is easy to pick up, play for one round and put back down again. No real commitment to a story or to a squad. Great games for a student like me.
Indies on Switch
All too often do I get questioned on games I’m currently playing and have to answer ‘eh this small indie game I don’t think you’d know of’. I promise I’m not trying to be special or hipster, but there are many indie games these days priced a lot lower than an average AAA game. Steam, of course, can be a really good place for these sorts of experiences but I find often times indies really come alive on the Switch. Shout outs have to go to Baba is You, Stardew Valley, Undertale, Enter the Gungeon and Pan Pan: A Tiny Big Adventure. All of these games are under 12 quid and Pan Pan is only £2.99 right now on the online store. Looking through the current offers on the Switch’s store often hosts a whole range of games new and old, often times for 50% off. These days, if a game is on Switch, I prefer to wait to see it here than pay something like £60.
Hearthstone and Clash Royale
Okay this one, to some might be a stretch to put these two in the same category but hear me out. A few years ago I played a hell of a lot of Clash of Clans. It was a bit of fun to take up some time but ultimately was pretty mindless. I then got into Clash Royale but for whatever reason, probably exams, and stopped playing that too. I tootle off to university and am introduced to Hearthstone. Little did I know, but it scratched the same itch that Clash Royale did. You collect certain cards or characters and play against an opponent spending mana or elixir to outplay the other. Hearthstone is turn-based and Clash Royale is more real-time. What they have in common more than anything is that they’re free! You can certainly pay to get better results in either but it is by no means necessary if you want a chilled gaming experience. Low commitment, especially with regards to Clash Royale, and you still get that satisfaction of beating an opponent in a really tight match. Another commonality is that they both are available on mobile so you can battle opponents anywhere you like. Actually, speaking of mobile…
I’m not talking about playing games like Cooking Fever or one of the thousand games by Ketchapp, I’m talking about what I consider an experience, just on your phone. Really my focus here is giving a game like Florence the recognition it deserves, not just as a ‘mobile game’ but just a game. I find all too often all mobile games are lumped into one sum of mindless things to do with your thumbs on the tube but sometimes they are different and unique. Florence is the story of a girl called Florence. Obviously. It has a play time of maybe 30 minutes and although short, it’s beautiful and fulfilling. You don’t need to pay much in money or time, to experience what is a great story. If you want even more out of your money though, for 79p however you can play Plague Inc. and take over the world. As it turns out when you’ve had a hard day at work or university there is nothing quite like killing the entire population of earth, or making them all zombies.
Ah the flash game. I spent a lot of time in my younger years playing these in ICT class (don’t tell my mum that). I look back at Miniclip and Friv with some nostalgia of course but even if many of those games aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they’re still a bit of fun. The shout out here, however goes to Nitrome. These guys made some of the best of the best when it came to flash games of my childhood and having gone back to them recently, I can’t fault my 14 year old taste at all. Really if you want to just load up something quick and simple on your laptop give these guys a go. Recommendations are the Skywire games, Rubble Trouble and Ice Breaker (of which the music still gets stuck on my nostalgic brain). All titles with a level style to them with varying levels of difficulty but an equal amount of fun.
So that’s about it! Of course if a £60 game comes up that you really want, by all means buy it, just don’t come crying when your student loan runs out in week 7 of term. That being said, I know of people who have spent far too much on Hearthstone and I know that my budget suffered trying to experience all the great Indies the Switch has to offer but what can you do eh? Gaming too often is pretty serious, and this list is just about downing of a shot of fun during a lunch break, or even just getting hours out of a free-to-play experience and still be able to afford your rent. But I digress. Go have some fun for free.