Close up of an Xbox controller

Top Five Games Pass Titles To Counter Cabin Fever

I don’t get out all that much anyway, what with the gammy leg and all, but there’s a world of difference between choosing to stay at home and being told to. Waking up to a text message from the government, demanding that we all remain indoors, shows what a raging dumpster fire the world has become. Life feels a lot like a SyFy made-for-TV movie special, from a director who’s only ever seen Outbreak and V For Vendetta and has a real thing about edibles. It’s all very weird and it’s easy to let it get to you.

Well, don’t let it get to you! We’re here to help, with a run down of five titles from Xbox Games Pass(1) which will help to distract you from the nightmarish prison that your living room has become. Raising spirits all over the place, that’s us.

A light box showing the words "You Got This"
See? Inspirational as all hell, mate.

5) Grand Theft Auto V

One of the things that people are finding particularly difficult to deal with right now is the curtailment of certain freedoms. While we’re stuck in lockdown, you can’t just go for a drive, hop out and take a wander along the street, pop in to the nearest store to rob it blind at gunpoint and then flee into the hills, pursued by suicidal police officers and army choppers. The simple things which make life worth living.

With GTAV, you can scratch that extroverted itch from the comfort of your own sofa. I fired it up a couple days ago and went for a blast around the city, tearing along the streets at full pelt in my modded Banshee, screaming at pedestrians to get the hell inside because they were breaking lockdown. Then I appointed myself Quarantine Judge and began to issue stern warnings to those who broke my newly imposed rule of law, warnings in the form of bullets! It was at this point that I became very aware that I had been awake for 24 hours, had drank far too much coffee and was just driving along pavements, cursing and eating Wotsits.

If you haven’t already succumbed to madness, GTA is a great way to pass the time and have some laughs with friends. Fire up the online mode, start a private game and invite everyone you know. Blitz round the city or just go for a walk along the beach, whatever works. Just know that if you invite me, there’s every chance you’ll be crushed under the wheels of a stolen city bus, as I mumble “social distancing baby” through a mouthful of cheesey snacks.

A woman sat on the floor, holding bags of Doritos

4) Riverbond

For a complete change of pace, why not give the ridiculously adorable Riverbond a whirl? It’s absolutely the cutest thing and incredibly relaxing to play. You bimble around the world of Riverbond and yeah sure, things might attack you, but you just bop them with your weapon of choice and if they kill you, you respawn with all of your progress saved. There are literally no consequences to your actions.

As a lifelong gamer, there is something incredibly liberating about a game that lets me charge in, without stopping for even a second to consider what might happen as I dive headfirst into battle, knowing that whatever the outcome i’ll just pop back up and can resume where I left off. Even in boss fights, you get smushed and then just reappear with your damage dealt maintained.

The game is super pretty, sounds lovely, plays like a dream and it’s 1000 gamerscore in a day for the cheevo hunters out there. No brainer, get it downloaded.

A puppy sat in a red and white mug
“Cute. Riverbond is cuter. “

3) Two Point Hospital

The whole point of this top five is to give you some ideas to take your mind off Covid-19, so I understand that featuring a game themed around illness and hospitals seems counter-intuitive, at best. Allow me to persuade you, gentle reader.

Two Point Hospital is the spiritual successor to Theme Hospital, a wonderful little game which stole many hours of my life during the heady days of my youth. The summers were long, the stars shined brighter and I was locked in my room, avoiding the balmy days and sparkling nights while I smashed away at my keyboard like a pianist on speed.

It was during these formative years that I discovered the phemonenon I call Gamer’s Temporal Flux(TM). Basically, it’s the absolute certainty that you’ve only been playing for an hour, maybe two, which is shattered as realisation dawns and you find that six days have passed and you’re severely dehydrated, caked in your own filth and coated with a thin layer of dust. Man, those were the days.

Normally, i’d advise against any game that can induce GTF(TM) as it tends to disrupt normal life but hey, normal life is not only disrupted already, it’s been thoroughly kicked to pieces and scattered over the landscape. Might as well spend some of that time gaming and GTF (TM) will certainly make the time fly by. Because science.

A gloved hand holding a beaker full of blue liquid
“Nope, this omelette is knackered”

2) Dead Island: Definitive Edition

The streets are empty, save a few shambling bodies, moving without purpose and seemingly devoid of higher thought. In this post apocalyptic landscape, it’s kill or be killed. You lash together some basic electronic components and attach them to a machete, creating a heated blade which will slice the flesh of the undead like butter. You are finally prepared.

Then, instead of venturing out to Tesco to try and bag a loaf of bread and a four pack of Charmin, you settle in for an all night session of Dead Island. Four player co-op means you can socialise as you brutalise, cutting a bloody swathe through the holiday makers turned zombies as you attempt to answer the greatest mystery of all. Who do YOUR voodoo?

Dead Island is so much fun played with friends and offers more than a few laughs solo. The open world, makeshift weaponry and multiple quest options are just what the doctor ordered for some mindless, brutal fun.

A large wooden mallet positioned above an egg, on black backgroun
This is the only stock photo that comes up if you search ‘brutal’ on Pexels. So…yeah.

1) Power Rangers: Battle for The Grid

This little beauty just hit Games Pass on Thursday 27th March and it’s better than it has any right to be. It’s got that Marvel vs Capcom feel, but with a cast of familiar heroes from the Power Rangers world. Plus some less familiar. I’ve no idea why the Black Ranger is “Mastodon Sentry” now but I figure it’s something to do with the story mode. I mean, he’s got a gun for the love of…

Look, this isn’t a review so I’ve not played it all that much. What I do know is that this game has that senseless button-basher feel with an absolutely incredible remix of the Power Rangers theme blaring over the menu and at one point, I called in the Megazord and it trod on a guy. Just straight up stomped him and raked the remnants with a sword. That’ll do you, hey?

It’s a scary world, folks. Not in the Power Rangers game, i’m concluding here. There’s a lot going on out there and it’s not much fun but stay home, stay safe and play some damn video games. That Pile of Shame is finally going to get a kicking.

(1) I’m not forgetting about Playstation. I just don’t have one.

Stock images courtesy of Pexels.

A photoshopped image of a statue of Jesus, being carried by balloons

The Mid-Game Crisis Cast! Episode Three – Helium Jesus

Three episodes! If we make it to four, we get a free pen.

In this episode, we discuss the imminent plant uprising before moving on to our usual mix of local news, entertainment nonsense and general drivel.

  • Want to win a helium Jesus?
  • Al tells us all about the birds and the bees and why Adam F is going to die alone.
  • Ass gas!
  • Al won’t stop going on about The Boys.

Give it a bloody good listening to.


5:55 – This is the image Al mentions and as requested, it’s now an album cover.

Photoshopped image of people pointing to a tree, made up to look like an album cover for "Drabber", a play on Abba.
Why is she facing the wrong way? That’s bugged me since recording!

31:30  – Loads of room. Don’t know what he’s moaning about.

A view of a pavement and a large bush
A stock image of paper lists, with the number 103 scrawled across it repeatedly

The Mid-Game Crisis Cast! Episode Two: What IS The 103 List?!

It’s the Pod Game Castis Cris Mid! Or words to that effect!

In this episode, we debut our brand spankin’ new theme tune, before moving on to discuss bizarre local news stories, including the mysterious 103 list. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?

Also in episode two:

  •  We Marvel at all things Marvel!
  • Jamie writes a love letter to Kevin Smith!
  • An idiot burns their leg!

Stick it in yer ears, like.

A picture of potatoes, one of which has been edited to include small vampire teeth

The Mid-Game Crisis Cast! – Episode One: Attack Of The Vampire Potatoes

It’s the first episode of the brand new Mid-Game Crisis podcast! Summoning all our creative abilities, we have imaginatively titled it… The Mid Game Crisis Cast! Dazzling! This is the pilot episode, of course. We’re working on the intro music and ironing out the kinks, but we had such a good time recording it we couldn’t wait for you to hear it.

In this episode, we mourn the passing of an unsung hero, discuss physical surprise mechanics, unravel the mystery of Gnomey McGnome and ponder that most elusive of beasts, the vampire potato.

DISCLAIMER: When we last recorded a podcast, Jamie’s microphone was a tin can with a frayed string attached. He’s got a brilliant microphone now, which is why there’s a couple of audio blips because it’s TOO good and he hasn’t figured out how the hell to work it yet.

ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: Discord shit the bed in the last minute or two of recording. Enjoy our WhatsApp weird audio goodbye.

Episode Two will be way better. Unless it isn’t, because of surprise mechanics.



MGC header

Back once again, with the ill behaviour…

We’re back! Yes, Jamie and Alan have rebranded, relaunched, reanimated, whatever you want to call it.

Formerly Sticktwiddlers, we’re now in our mid thirties and are usually too tired to twiddle anything, so we play games instead. We miss constantly bothering the eyes and ears of the masses with our musings, so we’ve dusted off the microphones, limbered up our typing digits and we’re back, baby.

What’s coming up? Lots! Loads, even.
Being award-nominated podcasters (even it that was about seventy years ago, when podcasts were in black and white) we’re thrilled to announce the new weekly Mid Game Crisis Cast, which will be live every Tuesday night around 7pm. Plus we’ll be streaming on Twitch, knocking up some Youtube content and we may even resurrect the long lost art of writing things. Archaic, no?

Two bitter old men, rambling into a microphone and suchlike. Good stuff.