Saturday, 31 December 2011

Holiday Season Deluge

It's that time of year again when everyone gives everyone else gifts and everywhere has sales for the hell of it. Here's the videogames I've accumulated over the past week or so.

- Garshap: The Monster Slayer - Steam - A prize from the Steam Gift Pile. I haven't heard a lot of great things about this, honestly. We'll see.
- Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS - A Christmas present from my other half. It's awesome, if a bit easy, but it apparently gets harder post World 8.
- Resident Evil: Mercenaries - 3DS - The other Christmas present from my lovely other half. One of the reasons I wanted a 3DS. Mercenaries was the reason I played Resident Evil 4 past the monastery. Love it!
- FlatOut - Steam - A random gift passed onto me by one of my Steam friends, who got it from one of his Steam friends, but didn't want. I'm glad to have the opportunity to see how the series grows in order.

- Dungeons - Steam - I won this in the gift pile, but already had it, so I passed it on to one of my Steam friends.
- The Orange Box (x2) - Steam - A part of me is really annoyed that I won this twice. I've had it for two years or so, and finding people to pass it onto was a challenge. My brother and a random swede on my friends list ended up getting them.
- 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die - I got a £10 Waterstones gift card so I spent it on this. It's a great book, with lots of large, full colour pictures and interesting tidbits written about every game. Well worth picking up, imo.

And that's that. I also did a bad thing and indulged myself in the Good Old Games sale and the fantabulous Steam sale, but I'll knuckle back down tomorrow and continue to try not to buy games.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

:B: - Super Pokemon Rumble

I have been playing rather a lot of Super Pokemon Rumble since last Wednesday. I have no excuses, it's probably average at best, but I really love it. I played the original way back when and figured I'd pick up the new one to make up for not actually having bought the first.

I've been neglecting Ocarina of Time, Starfox 64, Four Swords, Excitebike and now, after Christmas, Super Mario Land 3 and Resident Evil: Mercenaries for it. I feel really rather guilty because it's a children's game. Not only that, but it's a simplified spinoff from a children's game. (Disclaimer: I love Pokemon and am aware it has its complexities, but at its heart its for kids.)

So the story goes, all the Pokemon are wind-up toys and you have to find the glowdrops that heal everyone... or something, I haven't exactly been paying attention. Each toy has a designated power level and two moves that you can swap out if you have the money. You go through a series of levels to collect more powerful Pokemon and take on Battle Royales to progress. There's different kinds of levels to, where you have to fight with different rules, such as controlling three at once or not being able to swap out. It's nice that there's a little variety.

I have been really enjoying it but I'm at a point where all my brain wants to do is go through old levels to collect Pokemon that I haven't yet recruited, so I'm retiring it for now. I'll go back once I've cleansed my palate with some other games. 4/5 stars.

Now the question is, what 3DS game should I play now? I'm spoilt for choice.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

3DS is Pretty Ace

So, yesterday was my birthday and I got the usual "have some money because who knows what you want" for the most part. Except for one massive, major exception, from my boyfriend.

It's even more awesome IRL.
It came with Ocarina of Time, obviously, and I promptly downloaded Four Swords onto it and hied myself into town and came home with Star Fox 64 and Super Pokemon Rumble (both of which were £15 off, which was really nice).

I can't even see 3D, but I'm still blown away by the device. The AR games are really neat and Face Raiders is totally hilarious, and I was completely amazed upon loading up Ocarina of Time. The graphics are nothing short of breathtaking.

I'm not even sure I have enough words.

All I need now is a 3DS remake of Majora's Mask or even, god forbid, Wind Waker. I wasn't even a huge fan of Ocarina of Time, but I am a total convert to the 3DS after that.

Having said that, I'm not paying the extortionate prices for the Virtual Console games!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Criticisms of the Xbox 360 Dashboard

My 360 updated a few weeks ago to the new dashboard. I promptly took it offline because I didn't want to download the broken Skyrim patch, so I couldn't really judge it. Now, with the release of the new patch which un-breaks magic resistances, I've put it back online. First impressions: "oh joy, another dashboard update". Second: AAAAAADDDDDDS. There's a lot of adverts everywhere.

I decided to go to the indie games because I had 300 points sitting around after having bought some New Vegas DLC for the other half. The games section was four sections in which wasn't cool. I found a section which had a few indie games, but after digging a bit further, I found the indie games. You can sort by release date and title, but there doesn't appear to be a way to reduce the amount displayed, so you have to scroll through 2200 games, 5 at a time. This is phenomenally poor design. The regular game store is no better.

I then went into my game library, and that suffered from a similar lack of organisation. 128 games, 5 at a time. You can sort by demo, arcade or indie. No Games On Demand option, so if I want to play Fable II or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas I have to scroll for quite a while.

It is blatantly obvious that they've designed the new dashboard for use with just the Kinect. There's nothing in the design to indicate they even bothered thinking about people with joypads. It's all big icons and few things on every page, and has very obviously been designed by some guy who thinks form over function. I feel for the indie and arcade developers who are nigh impossible to find with this new marketplace.

And that's to say nothing about the fury I feel at having ads on a console I paid £300 to buy and £35 a year to use online. That's disgusting.

New - Empire Earth and Beneath a Steel Sky

Good Old Games is having a massive sale/giveaway sort of thing right now. A couple days ago, they gave away Empire Earth totally free, which is cool and slightly annoying because I bought it at Game ages ago and it's still in its shrinkwrap, but what you gonna do. I also noticed that they had Beneath a Steel Sky free too (except that's always free) so I added that to my account too.

Who knows when they'll get played, but hey, that's what holidays and retirement is for.

Monday, 5 December 2011

:B: - The Elder Scrolls - Skyrim

For me, the marker of a great game is that I don't want to do something else whilst playing it. There are very, very few games that have achieved this: Dark Chronicle, Bioshock, Fallout 3, and now The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim can join them.

Skyrim had claws sunk into my head so badly that I had to ban myself from playing it during the week so I didn't play past my bedtime and have to go to work on 3 hours sleep for 4 days running. Instead, the first weekend, I managed 18 hours play in 48 hours. Over the next couple weeks I slowly drip-fed myself during the week by indulging perhaps one night in the week. I really, really had it bad.

I've finished several story questlines: Dark Brotherhood, Mages College, Companions, and finally the main quest. I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone, except that I haven't been disappointed in anything so far, except perhaps the final battle against Alduin, who was, for all intents and purposes, just another dragon. But honestly, I can deal with slightly disappointing final battles; I played through Borderlands after all.

I'm now at a bit of a crossroads. I have a significant amount of other quests, both miscellaneous and regular. I can scroll down my list of regular quests for a good 5 or 10 seconds before hitting misc. I am really rather overwhelmed. I have no idea what to do next. There are still a great deal of places that I haven't found yet, and many, many more that I haven't cleared. It's a veritable rabbit hole of a videogame. Almost every time I talk to someone, I get more stuff to do! It's crazy.

Completion is another tricky proposition. With the radiant quest system, there's infinite amounts of quests in the game. So should I just finish all the regular ones? How do you even find all the regular ones? I think perhaps just emptying my regular quest list will count as complete - otherwise I'll be at this forever. And I think I could probably play it forever too. 5/5 stars.

Friday, 25 November 2011

New - Rayman Origins

Reasons I bought Rayman Origins instead of just ignoring it in favour of Skyrim:

My reasons can be simplified as thus; games that are crafted so thoughtfully like Rayman should be bought by the million instead of left to languish on the shelf because their publisher is inept.

Despite making an effort to not buy any new games, I had to make an exception to support a vision of what the games industry should be.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

New - Skyrim

I've been meaning to post this since Tuesday, but pretty much my entire free time has been taken up by this game.

Skyrim came out last Friday, and upsettingly, I had a trip to London booked for that weekend, so I couldn't pick it up until Tuesday. I did have Tuesday off, but due to various circumstances, including dentists, family members and Significant Others, I only got to play it for a couple of hours.

Having played for roughly 12 hours in the past two days, I can wholeheartedly say that it's fucking fantastic and I'm having so much fun. I love how there's seemingly an endless supply of quests to keep me occupied. Yes, yes, radiant engine blah blah, but these aren't miscellaneous quests I'm talking about. I have to scroll down to see all of the quests I have and I know for a fact I've barely scraped the surface. I'm so excited to spend time in this world, I think I'm going to have to go back and play now even though I quit 30 minutes ago because I'd gotten pasted by some mages. Ta-ra!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

:C: - Fallout: New Vegas

After many hours and almost as many crashes, I've done everything significant in Fallout: New Vegas, and am comfortable with checking it off as completed. By no means does this mean I've finished all the quests or collected all the unique items, but given everything that's in the games I think it's fair to have just finished all the DLCs, seen all of the endings and done most of the sidequests.

I played the DLC out of order, which was a mistake. I played Old World Blues first, followed by Dead Money, Honest Hearts and finished with Lonesome Road. I would have got more out of them storywise if I had played them in release order, but what I really should have done was played them in quality order, building up to the best. I definitely shouldn't have played Dead Money after Old World Blues, as playing the worst DLC after the best can only reflect poorly on the poor one. Reflecting on it, Dead Money probably wasn't as awful as it felt at the time.

Having finished Lonesome Road, I'm not sure why everyone's got a hate-on for it. Alright, it wasn't as epic as the trailer made itself out to be, and it was a touch linear, but it was fun and it was nice to find out some of the Courier's backstory, and the equipment I got out of it was pretty bloody awesome.

Soon I'll be moving onto the Capital Wasteland. I have the Requiem for a Capital Wasteland mod installed so I can go there, and I'll be putting my playtime onto the Steam version of Fallout 3. I'm looking forward to it as Fallout 3 was special to me, but first I need to figure out why my level cap mod isn't working.

Sometime soon I'll put up a list of the mods I have installed, so you can play New Vegas the real way.

Monday, 31 October 2011

New - Dark Souls

I bought Dark Souls. I'm so ashamed. It goes against my commitment to myself, and I can't even complain that I have no self control and that it was an impulse buy. I was always interested in Demon's Souls, but I still don't have regular access to a PS3, so it's a no-go until such times.

Dark Souls came out the week before Forza 4. I was interested in it, but Forza was coming out and I had no room in my head to get invested in such a game then. But the weeks have gone by, Forza has faded from my brain a little, and I keep seeing Dark Souls articles linked everywhere, and everyone I speak to speaks really highly of it.

So I set out to town today in pursuit of two things: new shoes and Dark Souls. I don't regret it, not one bit.

I haven't even taken my shoes out of the box yet.

:B: - 1000 Heroes

1000 Heroes is an iOS game where you run time trials in a platformer style. The hook is that there is a different one each day, for 1000 days. I've enjoyed playing it while waiting for the bus home after work for the past few months and I finally reached 5 hours play on it. It takes a long time to get to when you only play for 5 minutes a day max.

That said, it's getting a little samey. Every so often the age changes, but not nearly often enough for the game to stay fresh. It's day 145, which is a little over 3 months, and I've played it for a lot of those days and it's felt a little like a chore for a few weeks. The developers have painted themselves into a corner with setting out all the ages on the app for everyone to see, which means it's difficult to swap things up to keep it fresh. I really, really can't see myself playing for the 855 days left.

1000 Heroes is a really neat idea that suffers from the format it picked for itself. I'd like to see more developers use it. A bite-sized dungeon crawler that gives you a new character every day to try the dungeon with? A racing game that gives you a new track every day, similar to Trackmania (free, by the way)? Maybe a mix of Timesplitters and Borderlands - switch up giving you new characters and new weapons? There's a lot that can be done with drip-feeding content to mobile gamers - if I can come up with these ideas, surely some talented developers can come up with better.

1000 Heroes gets 3/5 stars.

(Oh, and someone PLEASE PLEASE make that dungeon crawler. I would sell my firstborn for that shit.)

Friday, 28 October 2011

:B: - Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Explorers of Time

The Mystery Dungeon series is part of the roguelike genre. This particular entry is half of the second entry of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon spinoff. The other half being Explorers of Darkness, and there being a third entry, released later, Explorers of Sky, as is customary for the handheld Pokemon games. Some things never change.

Part of what defines roguelikes is a very high difficulty, random dungeons, and perma-death. Pokemon reduces the stakes a little by giving you a persistent character, and reduces the difficulty. There are still parts that are very challenging, and death causes you to lose all money and most items on your person. The question is less 'do I use this unknown item that might kill me' and more 'do I take my useful rare items to this difficult dungeon and risk losing it if I die'.

I've been playing it on and off for a few months, more off lately admittedly, but I recently picked it up with an aim to complete the story and 7 hours of item gathering and leveling up gave me the strength I needed to get through the last two dungeons. The last boss gave me some trouble, and I only brought barely enough revival seeds to keep me and my partner alive. But I got through, teared up at the ending, sat through the excruciatingly long credits, and started the post-story game.

It's here that the game gets a lot more difficult, and my first mission is to restore the ability to evolve Pokemon, which should help. I'm going to continue playing to try for a :C:, however unlikely, because I'm a obsessive masochist and I loved the hell out of it. 5/5 stars.

Forza Motorsport 4 - Beginnings

If you're aware of racing games, you'll probably be aware of the Forza series. It's often considered to be Gran Turismo's direct competitor, although this is primarily thought by console fanboys.

Forza leans towards the simulation side of the sliding scale of racing games, but there's a lot of customization towards how sim-y. You can have ABS & TCS on, with a full racing line, damage off and automatic shifting on and have a fairly arcadey experience, or you can turn everything off and put manual shift on - which, which a good quality steering wheel, is almost unparalleled as to realism.

I'm somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale. I have ABS and TCS on, with automatic shifting, but with damage and fuel consumption on simulation and the difficulty up to full. I'm not the fastest by any means, but I'm usually in the top 20% times when putting the effort in. To improve much further would require getting to grips with all the intricate systems, and I just can't deal with that kind of commitment.

I also use the new Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel from time to time. The game is significantly harder with it, but it's also incredibly satisfying. The wheel is far comfier than I ever thought it would be. It's very responsive too - you can turn the wheel a little and the car will turn just the right amount. And I do mean a little - the wheel is super sensitive. It feels great to drive with, even if it means giving up competitiveness. Although that might just be because I suck with it!

I'd like to mention Rivals mode. I'm not a particularly competitive person. I don't like to play against other people (indeed, even co-operative modes are a push). I feel like organizing matches or having to wait in a lobby to get into a race is a waste of time; it's too much of an obligation. Enter Rivals mode. What this is, is an expanded time trial mode. It gives you a track and a restriction, and the time of the person above you on the leaderboard. Beating that time gives you experience and money that is linked to your career profile. It's genius. More than once I've loaded the game intending to play the World Tour, but gotten sidetracked into Rivals by a message from the game that a club member has beaten my time on a track.

I haven't played it particularly long, but from the getgo I knew Forza 4 was something special. It's shed the tedium of Forza 3's career, linked everything together so everything you do is working towards something, streamlined car experience and thrown a shitload of content in there. It's fantastic, and I can envision myself playing it for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Returning to World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft has been in my peripheral vision for years now. It always sounded like the sort of game that I'd like, but due to various factors, cost, lack of a decent PC, and a general misanthropy towards people, I've mostly given it a miss.

A while before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I played for a while on a private server called Ash Realms, primarily because it was free and fairly stable. It had 32x leveling and gave you a mount at level 1, and I spent my entire time exploring the world. I also gained a small obsession with collecting the vanity pets, but ultimately, it all felt a bit pointless because everything was very easy to come by. I stopped playing pretty quickly.

However, Azeroth still held a attraction for me. Roughly every 6 months, a desire to play takes its hold. Sometimes it passes, and sometimes I gave in. Until last year, I'd just re-sign up for the Ash Realms and start over, which tended to kill the want pretty fast. But last year, I had no excuse not to get the real thing - steady employment, ok PC, and the Battlechest had just dropped in price - so I took the plunge.

Fast forward a year later and I have a sprinkling of characters across 4 different servers, the highest of which is level 16. And my pet obsession remains.

Which brings me to the announcements of the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I'm not going to touch on the panda, that's for others to write ad nauseum about. What got my attention was the pet battling system. My like of the vanity pets is going to pay off, in that I'm about to get the Pokemon MMO I've always wanted. It got me so excited I immediately went out and bought Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm so I'd be fully up to date.

I started yet another character on a new server (Steamwheedle Cartel - EU), so I could later join the PC Gamer guild if I so desired. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue him once Cataclysm arrives from Amazon though - I do quite like the look of the Worgen. I'm going to keep him to get any Horde-only pets, though. Gotta catch 'em all, after all.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


I admit it - I'm considering recinding my 360 ban. Obviously Forza 4 and Skylanders have had something to do with it, but I'm finding my anger fading some. I was having a really rough day on the day I lost my cool with it; stolen purse, family issues, boyfriend issues and I just completely snapped and decided I'd had enough.

But recently I've been looking at it and thinking 'hmm'. Perhaps I judged too harshly, I don't know. I'm thinking about putting my xbox games back on my backloggery, even with jump in :U: that would bring. Perhaps I'll give it another couple days thought, and decide whether to put that deposit down on a R2D2 xbox.

New - Forza 4 and Skylanders

I bought Xenoblade Chronicles a couple of weeks ago because it was getting fantastic reviews and I was jonesing for a fresh JRPG. When I tried to play it, however, it tried to install an update. And failed. Three times. My Wii refused to be updated, possibly because I softmodded it an eon ago (and there were no files of that sort left). So I returned it to Gamestation with a heavy heart and promised them that I'd get Forza 4 a week from them if they could pretty please put it on a card. So, that's Forza 4 accounted for, at least.

Skylanders is sketchy at best, I admit. I professed to be considering trading in my Wii, and asked for the trade-in price - which was £40. The manager, wonderful man that he is, offered me 50% extra, £60 against Skylanders because I'm a regular and because I'm so awesome. I can't refuse an offer like that, commited to not buying games or no. I very rarely play my Wii, and there is a smaller, cheaper one coming out soon so if I really feel the need to play Skyward Sword or whatever I'll be able to buy that one.

Justified? I have no idea. But Skylanders is really fun and completely up my street, so even if it does break the rules, I have no regrets. Even if I've failed here, no matter, I forgive myself and can just redouble my efforts - and by my standards, I was doing really fucking well anyway. And I have a new way to reward myself if I go a week without buying anything - a Skylanders figurine!

I have this dude and he is crazy awesome.

Friday, 14 October 2011

:B: - Infinity Blade

I tried to write this post a couple of days ago but Blogger was erroring out all over the place and didn't even save a draft of the post, so my enthusiasm for it is low.

Infinity Blade recently got an update in preparation for Infinity Blade 2, so I decided that it was going to be my new companion for the long bus rides. It's fun, makes me feel like a badass ninja and gives me a bunch of stuff to packrat and level up. Perfect game?

So I beat the God King on Bloodline 3 after restarting from Bloodline 1 a couple times because I still had no clue what was going on, and now he's at level 100 to my paltry 19. Yikes. Got a lot of training to do. Anyway, 5/5 stars, and 0/5 stars to Blogger for losing my last post.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

:B: - The Binding of Isaac

As always, a lot has been written about Isaac by much more intelligent people than I. It's an action-rougelike-shooter-zeldathon with a heavy dose of the nightmare fuel. I love it and hate it in equal parts. I love it because the randomisation keeps the gameplay from going stale, there's always something new to find and new dungeons to explore. I hate it because it reminds me how easily I choke when the stakes are high.

Three times I've got to the last boss, and three times I've fucked up when I could have easily won. Especially the last time. I was having such a good run of luck, I had so much life and so many good items and I messed up because I went to close to the wall and had the smackdown layed down upon me by the hand of god. I think the game is great, 5/5 stars great, but I just can't bring myself to play any more right now. The wound is too raw.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

New - SpaceChem

SpaceChem is a game that I've had on my radar for a while, but never got round to buying for whatever reason.

The explanation for this new game is that I donated to the new Humble Indie Bundle when it started, and they added it to the pack today for free, so there we go. And to think, I donated despite having everything offered.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

:B: - Cute Knight

So in commemoration of getting the sequel, I decided to finally play through the first one. It's a little short, clocking in at an hour and twenty minutes for a playthrough, but it's very reminiscent of Princess Maker. It's less complicated for sure, but it's fun and seems to have a lot of branching paths; it's definitely worth playing through multiple times, especially because it doesn't take that long to play - if you get a duplicate ending, no worries, it's only an hour lost.

This is pretty short because I haven't got a lot to say about it. It's Princess Maker without the more mature themes and with added anime-like drama. So go look it up and make up your own mind. Me? I give it 4/5 stars. I will be playing it a few more times - my next playthrough I think I'll go for a fighter.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

New - Cute Knight Kingdom

Yes, yes, a new game already I suck blah blah blah.

This one was free from BigFishGames. I went to the website to cancel the membership that I had totally forgotten about - I only remembered because the free month was up and PayPal emailed me yesterday to say the payment had gone through, whoops! I suppose that's the whole idea behind free month trials; you sign up and forget to cancel it before the first payment goes through.

Anyway, the BigFish membership gives you a stamp for every game you buy. 6 stamps gets you a credit to spend on a game. Having gone to my account, I had a credit, which they told me would expire with my membership. So obviously, I had to spend it. After staring a while at the demos I'd downloaded, I had it down to either Cute Knight Kingdom or Aveyond. I decided on Cute Knight because Aveyond, while presumably a decent RPG, is an RPG, and I have much greater and much longer RPGs yet to play. And Cute Knight was pretty damn fun, so why not?

So according to my rules, I'm still in the game. :)

:B: - Burnout Paradise

When I got my 360, the first demo I downloaded was for Burnout Paradise. I hated it. I hated that it was open-world, I hated that I couldn't just pick whatever race I wanted to, I hated that there was no crash mode.

Having come back years later, I fear that I may have misjudged it. Perhaps it was a poor demo, perhaps I was just too impatient.

There's something to be said for the world of Burnout Paradise. The world is not that big, but it's packed to the brim with things to do; races, chases, time trials, and of course stuff to destroy. The pulse-pounding almost faster than you can react races are glorious, perhaps even more glorious than 3's, partly due to the graphics and partly because you have to decide which route to take in moments. This has lead me to crash into many corners having decided just a fraction too late.

One of my only beefs with the game these days is that it's frustrating to have to drive all the way back to the start point if you fail to win the race. I get that this is a deliberate design choice to avoid menus, but sometimes you make a mistake on the last corner on a race that spans the entire width of the map and getting back to the start is salt on the wound.

But it's fine. I can deal with that. Paradise is so fun that I can forgive it, and if you have a car roaming the streets it will often appear so you can take it down to add it to your garage in the meantime. I love this game. It's lovingly crafted and I think that you should probably play it.

5/5 stars.

Oh, and be aware that Paradise City plays every single time you turn the game on - that's my other complaint.

A Resolution

From today, I make a resolution to buy no more games until I reach 50%, no matter how great the deal or how much I want the game. The exceptions are:

  • If it's free; e.g. if the Humble Indie Bundle adds more games to the bundle I have already donated to get or like's giveaway of Broken Sword 1 upon reaching 6 million downloads.
  • It's a gift.
  • If my significant other buys it.
  • It's free-to-play.
I will now make a post for every new game.

And I give everyone full permission to send abuse my way if I break this.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


I've had VVVVVV for a long time, and I pirated it before that. But I've never stuck it out and beaten it until today. I'm actually quite surprised at how short it is - although there are other modes to try out and all the trinkets to find.

My favourite bit about the game is the music, truth be told. It's classic 8-bit music, except it's more detailed and the tunes are addictive. I could listen to it for a long time.

Least favourite bit is how finicky the controls are. Several times I overshot even though I was pressing the button the same amount as successful attempts (at least that's how it felt to me).

I like it, anyway. Not the 'omg amazing groundbreaking awesome' game I kept hearing it was though. 4/5 stars.

This Is What's Wrong With Gaming Today

Take one extremely fragile, incredibly twitchy car.
One twisty route with lots of blind hills and stuff littered by the side of the road.
An insanely tough time limit.
Random traffic.
One gamer crying out of frustration.

This mission is a 3-mile route. I only have this car for this mission, so the miles on the clock are only from this mission. I gave up after accumulating 29.8 miles.

This is ridiculous! No other mission comes even close to getting this hard. The only other time in the game I've had as much difficulty was when I was trying to do a championship with a car not nearly powerful enough to be competitive.

So, for the first time in my gaming career, I find myself ragequitting. Five times, I had the finish line in sight, but ran out of time or accidentally scraped a sign or cut just a little too much of the corner.

There's no reason for a game to up it's difficulty this much randomly. It went from 'mildly challenging' to 'fucking your dog' completely out of nowhere. Even the rest of the DLC missions are not this hard.

It's with a heavy heart I put Test Drive down for a while. I do genuinely enjoy it, but after being kicked in the ass so many times one has to retreat and lick their wounds for a while.

I'm giving it 4/5 stars for now, but perhaps a few weeks from now I'll be able to return to it with a vigor and love it properly like it deserves.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

:B: - Age of Empires Online

Age of Empires Online has been recieving a lot of flak for not being difficult enough. I bought the premium Greeks pack from the store before I knew this. But you know? I'm alright with that.

I am not very good at RTS games. This is a fact. I turtle too much, I don't scout enough, I can never balance my army correctly, hell, my army is very rarely big enough full stop. And I can't multitask for anything. So this game might be more suited towards me than any other RTS.

And so far, my playing experience has been great. The difficulty curve is extremely low, allowing simpletons like myself to ease themselves in. I'm level 8 now, and the missions are getting a little bit difficult, and this is suiting me just fine. It's doing a very good job of easing me into doing more complex things. I just finished a mission where I had to defend a town center for 15 minutes. Now, veterans of the genre could probably do it with their eyes closed, but it struck a balance between keeping me on my toes yet not being too much of a leap from the last mission.

I am one of those people who absolutely loved Age of Empires 2 yet never even managed to finish the tutorial missions. I sucked. Really, really sucked. And Online is Age of Empires 2 with lovely graphics, and a much lowered difficulty curve (plus a chat box in the corner which I admit to have ignored completely).

So to all those people criticizing Age of Empires Online for being too easy? I invite you to fuck off and leave this game to us people who love the genre but suck at it. I think this game is fantastic, so just toddle off. Not every game has to be difficult to be good - which is an attitude that's been bothering me for quite some time. Maybe I'll write an article about it one day. 5/5 stars.

(PS. It's free to play so you should come and play. I'm wastelanderone on there.)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

:B: - Jetpack Joyride

It's been a little while since I last posted because I haven't done any significant gaming in a couple of weeks. A few minutes here and there, occasionally an hour before going to bed. But this game is proof that it adds up.

I got Jetpack Joyride after Stuart Campbell recommended it here. I am always open to new iPhone games and Stuart is one of the guys whose iOS recs I trust most. Needless to say I've definitely got my 69p worth.

Yes, Joyride is a glorified 'helicopter dodge the things' game, but it's beautiful, both graphically and in design. The sprites are bright, crisp and well-animated and the backgrounds are detailed. However this isn't the draw. The developers don't half know how to motivate a person to continue playing. You collect coins during play to unlock new things: these range from mohawks and top hats for Barry to bubble jetpacks to magnetic vehicles (which you can also paint gold). There are missions to do during play so you can level up, get more coins and get badges (which in turn get you more coins). And there's also amusingly-named achievements to go for, from reaching a certain distance, to doing so while in top hat and coattails, to knocking over scientists to avoiding everything for 2000m. Yes, you will always have something to aim for next.

After many bus rides, train rides, and lying in beds trying to go to sleep, I've clocked up my 5 hours. And what do I have to show for it? 26 levels, 1 badge, 21 achievements, magnetic vehicles, a punk outfit and a bubble gun jetpack. I still have a lot of play left; those golden vehicles won't buy themselves! I suspect that I'll be playing this on and off for at least the next few months, perhaps more. 5/5 stars.

Friday, 16 September 2011

:B: - Grand Prix Story

I've always had a slow-burning, secret passion for Grand Prix, more specifically, the games resulting from the sport. I do keep an eye on the results of the season, but watching the actual races bores me to tears. But, sit me in front of one of the games and I'll be entertained for hours - possibly because my father introduced me to F1 Pole Position 2 at a very young age. But that's a story for another day.

Grand Prix Story is the latest game from Kairosoft, developers of such games as Game Dev Story, Hot Springs Story and Mega Mall Story, all for iOS. Instead of the usual position of being in the driver's seat, you're behind the scenes as the team director. You start off with an inexperienced driver and two equally inexperienced mechanics, and a garage. To start racing, you'll have to create a car, but your first car won't get you very far - you'll have to race to get money, experience and research data before you can get even third place.

There is a huge amount of depth to this game despite how it first appears. You can train your driver to get better skills, and unlock better training drills to train better, and he occasionally gets an Aura, which is sort of like 'the Zone', that makes him much better at his next task. Your mechanics can be levelled up to research and repair your cars quicker, and they can also get skills when performing tasks. You have to research new cars and parts, but you'll have to figure out how to unlock the plans. Once researched, your cars and parts can level up to have higher performance, and they can also be upgraded separately to the same effect. Your team eventually expands to 2 groups of 6 mechanics and 1 driver, and hiring and firing is important. Finally, there are sponsorships to unlock that pay you for racing that can also level up to give you more money. There is a lot going on in this little game.

Don't worry, though, the game does a very good job of introducing you to all the different nuances of the game. Not everything is available from the start of the game; new things are added when the game thinks you've grasped the last thing it gave you. I never once felt overwhelmed which is quite an achievement.

There are a lot of races to take your team to, as well as three Grand Prix's, which will keep you busy for a long time. It's difficult, if not impossible to win a Grand Prix as soon as you unlock it, as they tend to have opponents that are a large jump from the previous races you were doing. However, continuing to race and upgrade will get you your podium place.

The game uses a score system like previous Story games, and stops recording after 10 years, with the ability to continue afterwards if you want to see everything. However, you can start again, this time picking a car plan and part to take into your new game to give you a head start - although you have to be careful because if you pick a really powerful car, your newbie mechanics won't be able to build it to specification.

Long story short, this is a great little game that isn't getting any less fun despite having played through it twice. Heartily recommended for simulation fans or people with a cursory interest in racing. It gets a 5/5 stars, and now you'll have to excuse me because I need to create a better car for the Formula One.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fallout: New Vegas Adventures

I have been playing a lot of Fallout: New Vegas lately. So much, in fact, that I've had little time to do anything other than sleep and work. It's got it's claws into my brain and I just can't stop playing.

Here are all the screenshots I've taken so far, uploaded to Flickr for your convenience. I haven't commented them all yet, because there's a few of them, but rest assured I'll get round to it one day. And you have to know that there's so many screenshots of posters because I'm sort of on a quest to take screenshots of them all. Because I'm like that.

Anyway, I have to go, because I have more New Vegas to play. Goddamn that game is good.

Monday, 29 August 2011

:C: - Life Quest

So after installing Virtual Villagers 1 & 2 back on my PC, which gave me the BigFishGames client, I've been exploring their catalogue. One of the ones I bought after playing the demo was Life Quest, a game that appeared to take Kudos and put in time management gameplay. I liked Kudos, and I have somewhat of a weak spot for time management games, and after having played the demo (60 minutes worth, very generous of BigFish), I decided to treat myself.

The idea is that you have just graduated High School and are making your way in the world. You have to budget time, money and happiness and try to succeed, whilst doing challenges set by your classmates to achieve ever greater heights.

I really enjoyed my first hour in the game, it required a fair bit of juggling and there were a lot of choices that weren't available to me because I'd picked different things. My issue with the game is that after 2/3s of the way in, it lost all semblance of challenge. I had everything open to me, keeping my SO happy was a piece of cake, and the only thing keeping me from doing everything was that I had to take a day off from my job every few days to keep my happiness up. I finished everything in just over two hours, and that includes my time with the demo version (which saves your progress, another good thing, thank you BigFish).

It makes me sad, because this game had a lot of potential. If they made it so focusing in one area permanently locks out other bits, if they made it have a bit more juggling of skills, work and social life, it would have a lot of replayability. As it stands, it's a pretty fun game that's two hours long, and at £7.70 I can't really recommend it. If it were cheaper, if it were longer, I'd say it was adequate. But it's not, so it gets a 2/5, or a 3/5 if it ever drops to under £4.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

:B: - Outrun - Coast 2 Coast

There's not a lot I can say about Outrun that hasn't been gone over many times before by far greater and more intelligent people than I. All I can say is that playing it feels fantastic.

5/5. Absolutely brilliant.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

:B: - Fallout: New Vegas

This is not the first time I have played New Vegas. I originally played it on the Xbox 360 - I bought it on the day it came out, and played it a whole lot, but never managed to finish the last boss as I was playing on Hardcore and I just lost too much health every time.

I bought it for the PC a while back and just started playing it yesterday. I've marked it as a :B:, as I put about 50 hours into it on the 360, and 6 into this one. Given the hours I've already put into it, I'm marking this under 'way, way long'. I'll still probably play this for weeks from now, but I feel like I've already beaten it, now I'm just playing for fun.

Right now I'm at Novac, trying to find some turbines or something for the ghouls out in REPCONN. Not very far, but I've been pootling around, doing quests, getting banned from a casino or two. I've been trying to get enough cards to make a decent Caravan deck too.

Now, I have one major weakness in videogames, and that's packrat syndrome. If it's there, I have to pick it up. I keep all the weapons and armor, and use them for repair. Once I have a fully maintained weapon or piece of armor, only then will I sell the rest. I keep all aid items, and sell most misc, unless it's a weapon mod or bullet case. I just can't help it, it doesn't feel right if I leave stuff there. On the upside, this means I generally have plenty of caps floating around to spend, and if I run out of bullets I almost always have another weapon to use instead.

So anyway, Fallout: New Vegas gets a solid 5/5 stars. I love it, and I just can't get enough.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bit.Trip Runner - Fuck You, Mingrawn Timbletot

Bit.Trip Runner came out May 17, 2010. I bought it the week it came out because it looked really fun.

I still haven't beaten the first boss.

There are three worlds in Runner, each with 11 levels and a boss. On the levels, you have to get the best score possible by dodging obstacles, destroying crystals, using spring pads, collecting gold and collecting bonus items. On the bosses, it's all about dodging what they throw (literally) at you and then kicking them to damage them when you have the opportunity.

Or, at least, I think that's what you do. It seems that way with Mingrawn Timbletot, but who knows about the later levels.

I don't know how much time I've put into this game over the past year and a half, so I started over. I got to the boss with relative ease. And then got stuck, again.

I can do the first two thirds pretty much blindfolded. But after damaging him twice he gets pissed and fires a bunch of rapid-fire spaceships at me, and I can't get the timing down no matter what I do.

I think I'll probably end up spending my entire 5 hours at this one boss.

Fuck you, Mingrawn Timbletot.

:B: - Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Been playing Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles on and off for a week or so. It tells the story of Resident Evil 0, REmake, and 3, as well as having an extra scenario at the end to explain how Umbrella fell; and does so in the format of a rail-shooter as opposed to survival horror.

It's difficulty is a little erratic. I've been playing it on Easy and still have been having difficulty with some of the levels, especially in the 'Umbrella's End' chapter, and with some of the bosses. The bosses are especially hard if you don't conserve your ammo properly and end up having to use the handgun (which sucks for anything other than zombies, dogs, birds, bats and baboons). Which is a nice touch, actually, given the main thing with the original games was having to conserve your ammo for greater beasties.

The game is also a fair bit larger than I originally thought. I finished all the main missions at 6 hours, as well as some sub-missions, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There are still several sub-missions left to unlock, and I have only B or C ranks on most of the levels - and ranks don't carry over between difficulties. You have to to get high ranks on the higher difficulties to get some of the files. And I haven't even found all the weapons yet never mind upgraded them! There is a lot of gameplay still left.

I just have one minor annoyance to place right at the end of this post - Quick Time Events. Umbrella Chronicles is filled with them! While it does indicate one is coming up by flashing the screen white briefly, they're still something I could do without. The penalty for failing them ranges from injuring you to make it harder to get to the end of the level, to just outright killing you. Which isn't fair, not even remotely. It isn't always the same button, and sometimes you even have to shake the Wii Remote! I think developers who put Quick Time Events in games that aren't based around them (Dragon's Lair et. al) should be forced to play unforgiving QTEs over and over again until they get the point that they aren't fun.

Anyway, sidetrack over, I'm going to give Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles 5/5 stars. It's really fun, has a great story for RE fans, and I'm still really enjoying it 6 hours in, which is pretty impressive given the genre. I'm going to continue playing it on and off until it has a :C:, because I think this game deserves it.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

On Diablo 3, DRM & Items for Cash

Today, the news broke that Diablo III would have no offline mode, no mods, and an auction house that will let players list items for real-life money.

The internet's reaction has not been pretty, to say the least. A lot has been said on this topic already. I can't really add a new viewpoint to the offline and the auction house. Always-on is bad. Their reasoning for it is that players may get a character to level 20 or 30 offline and then realise they want to play online, so to avoid frustration they removed the offline. Completely. Lots of things have been said about playing on planes and in places without reliable connections, but response from Blizzard has been lukewarm. I'm unable to find a proper source for this, but apparently the quote goes: I want to play Diablo 3 on my laptop in a plane, but, well, there are other games to play for times like that. Fuckwads.

As for the for-money auction house, Blizzard have said that for people who don't want to buy things with real cash, there's a regular one, for in-game gold. But it begs the question, if people can list their items for cash and could make a profit for their unwanted items, why would they ever use the one for in-game gold? Gold, traditionally, has never had much use in Diablo games. There are no money sinks other than gambling and gambling is almost useless. You earn more than you can ever use very very quickly. Also, do you list your profits from Diablo III on your tax form? I mean, you have to take prizes won into account, so why not actual earnings? It's a road fraught with danger.

I also had a moment of silence for the death of mods. Blizzard unequivocally stated that mods are not allowed for this game, not at all, not ever. Which is a shame. Diablo II may not have had modding tools, but that did not stop the community, not one bit. There are some fantastic mods out there which bring so much longevity to the game, such as Meridian XL, Zy-El (My personal favorite, and how I've mostly played Diablo II for about 3 or 4 years now), and many, many more.

I'd also like to make a little point about boycotts. Saying you're going to boycott a game or company is all very well, but very few people actually go through with it. The lure of a game is just too much and they break down in the end. If you do want to boycott, go ahead. But please, make sure you let the developer know that you disagree with their practices, otherwise they'll never know and never miss you. You can submit tickets here, email here, Facebooks here and here, and get their Twitter here. Let them know, and for Pete's sake, don't forget and go buy it!

(From a person who boycotted EA's PC games back when the DRM for Spore was announced, emailed them with a list of all the games she wouldn't be buying, and hasn't bought one since. I'm still kind of sad I never got to play Spore, but to this day it still has it's draconian DRM.)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Resident Evil The Umbrella Chronicles - Beginnings

I recently made the decision to get back into gaming on the Wii, now that I'm off the Xbox. Previously, I hadn't played my Wii in about 6 months, and even then it was only to play Bit.Trip Runner. I decided to start with one of my favourite kinds of games, the on-rails shooter genre. First on the list was Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, primarily because I love Resi and never got round to playing it.

TUC basically gives a rundown of the story of the first 3 games (and Zero), in the form of fast, quick, arcadey action. Which is great - I have difficulty playing the old ones because I'm a giant pussy and am constantly convinced that I'm not playing efficiently enough and I'll come across an enemy I can't beat because I didn't conserve enough ammo. So when I get round to PS1, playing 2 & 3 is going to be so fun.

I'm having quite a lot of fun so far. I've now fully upgraded my submachine gun so very little stands in my way. This may be because I'm playing on Easy; I thought I'd go through it on the easiest difficulty and upgrade my guns to have a fairer time on the harder ones.

However, I am being reminded why I sort of lost interest in RE after 3. The monsters they introduced afterwards in their effort to streamline play and make it more of an action game ruin a lot of what I thought was great about the story way back when. It started with the leeches in Zero; and the Los Plagos or whatever it was called was the icing on the cake. When it was no longer about viruses and Umbrella's desire to control, and instead about alien parasites and Wesker's desire to pwn all, it just seemed kind of fake and like a completely different series.

Having said that, Wesker is one of my favourite villains of all time, mainly because he's such a condescending prick.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

:B: - Dungeon Siege III

I've been procrastinating on writing a post for Dungeon Siege III because it's a bit of a controversial game. Developed by Obsidan, a studio well-known for creating buggy but great games, it's come under heavy fire for being the latest victim of a phenomenon called 'consolitis'. Consolitis is when a game is dumbed down so it plays better on a console.

The original two Dungeon Siege games were a type of game called a Diablo-clone. These games are defined by a lot of clicking and a lot of inventory management. So how has the third fared? The inventory management has been simplified a lot - instead of inventory tetris, there are just loot types for the various equipments that the characters can equip. And as for the clicking? Instead, there's a complex battling system. You have two stances, each with three skills, and the ability to dodge and block. It can get quite harried at times as you try to survive; beats holding the left mouse button down and occasionally pressing a hotkey to cast a spell. (Note: I am actually a huge fan of Diablo and it's clones and sequels. You just have to be in a specific mood to get the most out of them.)

I was quite enjoying Dungeon Siege III, even with the poor voice acting and linearity. But I'm playing on the easiest difficulty, and I've managed to lose almost two hours of play through the savepoints being just a little too far apart. The first time it happened I just powered through but after the second time I just couldn't bring myself to play through the same bit for the third time. Especially when you consider that the game is only about 8 or 9 hours long, so I've lost progress equivalent to a quarter of the game. I like it, but I just can't bring myself to play any more.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tiny Tower: Tips and Tricks

Having now played Tiny Tower for almost 40 hours I have a pretty good handle on how everything works and how to oil the gears so everything runs smoother. Here's a few tips.

Gaining TowerBux:

There are many ways to get TowerBux without having to buy it.

  • Every time a Bitizen has a birthday. Every Bitizen has a different birthday so you'll get Bux throughout the year.
  • Every time you build a new floor.
  • You get one every time you put a Bitizen in their dream job.
  • Occasionally given when you use the elevator to take a Bitizen to the floor they want.
  • When finding a specific Bitizen for the blue task.
  • Sometimes when fully restocking a store.
Organising Your Tower:

Once you have more than 20 floors you will start to feel the strain of keeping your floors where they were built. Everything will be difficult to find, especially when searching for a specific Bitizen. It doesn't have to be like this.

It costs 1 TowerBux to move a floor. You should keep floors of the same type together to ease restocking and searching. You can also put all the residential floors at the bottom to make it easier to move Bitizens in.

About Your Bitizens:

You need free space in your Residential floors to move new Bitizens in. There are two ways you can do this. When Bitizens want to use the elevator, if they wish to go to a floor with a space in it, upon arrival they move in. You can also move them in by spending 1 TowerBux per Bitizen. Unless you have an urgent need for Bitizens to work in your shops, it's most effective if you only do this 3 times per floor, as that way you can earn back those Bux by putting a Bitizen in their dream job.

A great way to aid searching for Bitizens when you are tasked to is to color-coordinate. When you put someone into a job, change their clothes to the same color as the shop type. Food - green, Service - blue, etc. It only costs 1 gold! Bitizens are only ever at their job or at home, so you can pinpoint exactly where they could be right away.

An aside:

Don't be afraid to experiment! You can never run out of money permanently, as every day you get rent from your Bitizens, so you can spend as much as you like.

And finally, for all you looking for cheats:

As you probably know by now, the times for building new floor increase massively as you get further in the game. You can bypass this by changing the time settings on your iPhone/iPod/iPad. Just change it to a day or two ahead, open the game so the floor is built, then exit and change your time back. There are no negative effects to this for the game, except for if you use it too often the game might be less fun - and of course, you need to take into account whether changing the date might affect your other apps too.

Hopefully these tips will help make Tiny Tower more fun and less frustrating for you!

:B: - Final Fantasy IV

I've decided to call it a day with Final Fantasy IV. I have to admit, I began to like it again once it was clear I was almost finished. I got through the final dungeon without much difficulty (although I did give the bonus bosses a miss) but was dismayed to find out that I got absolutely pasted. This was at roughly 13 hours. I decided to level up.

I also went around and got a couple summons for Rydia, too, now that I was a higher level and completely breezed through Asura, Leviathon and Bahamut. It was almost fun! But after two hours, and gaining 10 levels I attempted Zeromus again.

And got smushed. Again.

I am not happy. I do not wish to grind out another 10 levels to maybe be able to scrape a win. It's a pretty cheap way to get longevity out of your game to make the final boss so much higher in difficulty than anything else. I know it's meant to be a challenge, but at level 53 I get destroyed within three turns. I think I even prefer how Final Fantasy X did it, with a final battle you can't even lose, and that was massively underwhelming.

It's a shame. If the ending hadn't been so grindy I would've happily beaten it and given it a 4/5, but as it is I can't happily give it above a 3/5. I wanted to beat this, I really did, but I can't forgive enforced level-grinding just before the end in a game I've breezed through up until that point.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV: Saying Goodbye to Suspension of Disbelief

I've been fighting with FF4 recently. I like the gameplay, mostly. I like the character interaction, mostly. But I'm having difficulty reconciling my like of those with my hate of annoying battles and the incredibly hackneyed story.

Right now, my guys are on the moon, Cecil just found out he's the son of a guy from the moon, and Golbez is being controlled by some moon dude so he can get the crystals and destroy the world. I'm not sure why he would even want to destroy the world. I've kind of stopped paying attention. How long is left? I'm not sure I can be bothered, to be honest.

The other half of my hate is annoying battles. I was in the Sealed Cave to retrieve it's crystal, and everywhere were doors. That turned into trap doors and that I had to battle. Which often summoned a powerful monster and skedaddled. My characters rarely came out of these battles with everyone alive, and there were about 20 of them in this damn cave.

It's a shame, because I was really enjoying it before everything my characters did turned out to be one step behind and failed at everything. I've been betrayed multiple times, several of my characters have sacrificed their lives to save the rest after we fucked up, and I just don't feel like I'm making any progress at all.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gran Turismo

I'm a long-time fan of the Gran Turismo series, but primarily of the fourth one, as that's the only one I've played extensively, and only having played the second out of the others. I'm a big racing games fan, and there was always a wealth of things to do in them. I recently decided to play the first, hoping to play (if not beat) them in order.

Gran Turismo was released in 1997 after 5 years of development - which puts Gran Turismo 5's extended development into perspective. It was the first proper 'realistic' racing game for a home console and was highly rated and sold millions, and spawned the series we all know and love today. Going back to it has been quite strange, as not a lot changed in the years and sequels between 1 and 4.

As always, there's two modes, Arcade and Simulation, but honestly, who bothers with the arcade mode in GT? I didn't even bother going into the mode to check the options. Upon entering sim mode, it's pretty clear that the developers took an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" view of the menu. It's a set of icons placed on a rudimentary map, with a garage, an icon for the licences, races, a carwash (I never quite figured out why that was needed) and the various car manufacturers.

It quickly became evident that I'd need a license to do much of anything. There were cups (that all needed a license), special races (that needed a high license), time trials (that needed a good car) and practice tracks (which are the only thing you can race on without a license). So, I hied myself to the license tracks and set about getting me a B License.

Which was another "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The license was almost exactly the same as the license from 4, except two shorter. I managed to get golds on almost all of them without breaking a sweat because I've done them so many times already. Most of the trials are exactly the same. Lazy or what?

With my shiny new license I had a nose around the cars and came out with a spunky little Audi. It's a little slidey, but it's adequate for the Sunday Cup. The races were standard Gran Turismo fare, go fast, try not to crash, stay out of the way of the AI because they will bash you off the road as if you weren't there. What annoyed me was that I didn't get enough cash to get a better car to do the second set of races. Sure, I needed a higher license than the one I have, but you don't get any money for doing them, so I'd need to do the Sunday Cup a few times over. Which is my pet hate about the Gran Turismo games. To do anything, you need to race the same few races over and over to get enough cash to get a car good enough for the next set of races. It's almost like they have no idea how to increase a game longevity. (Not that the games are lacking for things to do anyway!)

For now I'm enjoying it, but we'll see after I've gone through the first cup four times over. Still, I suppose real-life racing is about going around the same few tracks over and over, so perhaps it is the most 'real' simulation of the lot!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV - Glitcherrific

I've been playing Final Fantasy IV a bit more, and am getting on a bit with it. I've now been tasked with getting the Earth Crystal back from the Dark Elf, so that I can borrow (steal) it to get Rosa back. I've run into a bit of an issue. As far as I can tell, the first battle against him is unwinnable, as he does 9999 damage apiece. I confirmed this on the internets, and apparently Edward is supposed to appear and play some tune which lets you use metal.

Not so much. I got to him, was gobsmacked at the amount of damage he did, all my dudes died and I got booted back to the main menu. Is there something I'm missing here? Is there a trigger I haven't tripped? Help a gamer out here!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fed Up

For a month or two now I've had nothing but frustration with my Xbox 360. It's been freezing, but the primary issue is that my gamertag keeps corrupting somehow, requiring a fresh download. Of course, for whatever reason, the 'recover gamertag' option doesn't work when I try to use it, on either my or my families' 360.

Today I had the final straw. I went to go play Fallout 3 on PC with Games for Windows Live, and it's corrupted there too. I can't recover it on the PC either, can't log into, and the Games for Windows Live installed on the PC won't open.

I am fucking done with this bloody console. I am fucking done with Games for Windows Live. 3 years of enjoying it more than any other gaming format, the frustration many others have had with it has finally become clear. Goodbye, Microsoft. You've lost my videogame money for good.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

:B: - Beat Hazard

I've been playing a lot of Beat Hazard in the past couple of days, ever since the ticket challenge for it went up. It was a good excuse to get back into the game.

It's one of those games where you 'play your music', this time based around a shoot-em-up (shmup for short). The difficulty of the level depends on the song you put in. Generally, a slow, lighter song will get you an easier level and a faster, harder song a more difficult one. It's quite fun to see the levels your songs produce and get ever-higher scores thanks to visual intensity (50% - 200%) and various difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Hardcore, Insane and Suicidal). It does suffer a little from having no real way to compare scores for your song with other people - there are just leaderboards for song length. There's no real excuse for not having it; Audiosurf did, and that was the first 'play your music' game, as far as I'm aware.

Towards the end of my playing experience, I reached Elite, and decided that then would be a great time to grab the DLC, Beat Hazard Ultra, especially since it was still on sale. The DLC includes online co-op/competitive play, a boss rush mode, more types of enemies and super weapons. I have to say, I don't like the game as much with it. It's a lot more busy, in a bad way, as instead of focusing on dodging and firing at stuff, there's now enemies that require different tactics other than focusing your shot at them or bomb spamming. It breaks up the flow, and the levels don't feel as natural.

I've reached the max level and played it for more than 5 hours, so I'm chalking this one down as a :B:. It's got 4/5 stars, but I don't think I'll go back much, if ever. There are better shmups and what appeal the game had was broken for me by buying Ultra. It's a shame, because before then, I could have seen myself getting a :C: for it. Ah well, you live and learn.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV: Easiest level-grinding EVAR

I've been slowly chipping away at Final Fantasy IV on my busrides to work, and I'm still having fun. I'm up to the bit where Cecil has just become the world most flamboyant Paladin. At one point during the fight with Scarmiglione I accidentally mashed the select button and a most wonderful thing happened. My dudes went on 'Auto' mode, which means they fight by themselves and I don't have to mash 'X'.

While, admittedly, this wasn't any use for me during the boss battle, it was of great use after Cecil shed his Dark Knight trappings and became a sap. He starts off at level 1 as a Paladin, so wanted a bit of training up. I went to the bottom of the Mount of Ordeals, switched on Auto, and preceded to destroy a lot of zombies for fun and profit. He's now level 18, and I have all the best equipment sold in Mysidia.

I suspect this will come in handy a lot later when the difficulty ramps up and I have to grind out some levels. This is my least favourite part of JRPGs, having to take some time out to mash on weaker monsters so you can mash on the stronger monsters, so being able to press left and right occasionally to get into random battles and not have to press buttons repeatedly suits me perfectly. More level-based games should have this - well, ones in this genre anyway. I'm not sure it would suit Western or Strategy RPGs much, but the ability to just set and forget for linear turn-based RPGs is, to me, the holy grail.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wipeout HD: Or How I Learned I Suck At Games

I got Wipeout HD during the 'Welcome Back' phase of PSN's reboot. I can't play it very often, as I don't have a PS3 at mine.

I spent a couple hours on it last night, and I am incredibly suprised at just how much I suck. Even on the Novice difficulty, with Pilot Assist on, I am having difficulty getting even Bronze on some levels. There's one track in particular that I can't get above sixth with any regularity. Is it just me, or is this game ultra hard?

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely loving my time with the game so far (mostly; there have been moments of frustration). The racing is great, I love the time trials, and the music is awesome. I genuinely think this is a game probably everyone should play at least once - especially the zone levels. The zone levels are something special indeed. Your ship accelerates automatically and you have to survive for as long as possible. The joy in it though, is that it feels like you're in Tron.

It almost makes me a little sad to think that I didn't give any money to the developers for it - I'll have to buy the game new or something.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A Setback

I've had a little bit of a setback as far as reducing the amount of unbeaten games goes. Namely, yet another Steam sale.

It's a summer sale, this time, another competition one, where you finish tasks to get competition entries. Also, this time, you get tickets which you redeem for levels and characters and vanity items for various games. I love stuff like this.

I've got three tickets so far, the community one, the facebook one, and the BIT.TRIP BEAT one. I picked up the levels for A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, something I'm downloading as I type this to try and get the ticket for that one.

Ah, every time I think I might be getting somewhere, this happens. At least I'm having fun!


A quick post here - I played some BIT.TRIP BEAT last night just before going to bed. I would say that it lives up to it's name when playing it sleep deprived. Utterly trippy. I'd recommend it to everyone precisely once.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ten Words or Less: Mass Effect

Inexplicably makes me want to play it again.

Final Fantasy IV: Better Than Child of Eden

At least as far as price goes, anyway. A couple weeks ago, I walked into my local Gamestation with the intent of buying Child of Eden, but the price blew the steam out of my sails. 40 of my english pounds for a pretty shoot-'em-up was more than I could possibly justify, so I poked around and found myself taking Final Fantasy IV: Complete to the counter, much to my surprise. I've never been much of a Final Fantasy person, Breath of Fire is my JRPG of choice, but I'm always open to trying something I've never played before.

It's not the first Final Fantasy I've played, or even the first 2D one, those accolades belong to 7 and 1 respectively, it is, however, the only one I hadn't played up until that point. I was happy to discover that the story involves crystals, which every one up until 5 has. The ones which don't have a completely different feel - more serious, more epic. Which has its place, but I like a more friendly feel in my Japanese turn-based story adventures.

Anyway, long story short, you are Cecil, the worst Dark Knight ever, the Dark Knight with a conscience, who's having second thoughts about slaughtering innocent people to get the crystals for his King. The King realises this, promptly demotes him and sends him on a quest which ends up with him murdering a village of summoners by accident. Whoops! He saves a little girl, meets an old guy, finds old guy's daughter, who promptly dies, and goes on a journey to save the next crystal from capture, but not before curing his love interest's desert fever. Quite the adventure for two hours in.

The story is happening rather quickly. In two hours, two out of four of the world's crystals are in the hands of the corrupted King, and I am racing to save the third (which will undoubtedly fail, where would the story be otherwise?). I am wondering where the story has to go after he has all the crystals, but I guess I've got to play more to find out!

A brief comment on the sound. I'm not sure what it is about the music, but it hits my nostalgia brain cells hard. Which is strange, because I didn't play a FF game until I was almost 14, on the Playstation 1. Is it something about the SNES-ish sounds? I did spend a large amount of my youth on one of those things. Something to muse upon until next time, I guess.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

:B: - Tiny Tower

I've passed 5 hours on Tiny Tower, so I'm considering it beaten in liu of an obvious 'win' status. The only one I can think of really is getting all of the achievements, and that to me feels like more of a :C: status.

Play is slowing down a little now. Things are getting really rather expensive to build and my income isn't quite matching the increase. But I suppose that's a big part of the game, keeping you playing for longer. And more likely to buy TowerBux to speed things up. That sounds a bit cynical, but it is a Freemium game and so it's designed to get its hooks into you and get you to buy lots of little bits of stuff. I don't mind though, I have other things to play too, and this is good for bathroom breaks at work.

I've given it 5/5 stars because it is rather good. I might downgrade it to a 4 later if the cost of new floors keeps rising to ridiculous levels, but for now, I'm still having fun, and the things my Bitizens post on 'Bitbook' are still totally funny.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Annoying Things About Tiny Tower

  • Waiting for my money to slowly trickle in.
  • Restocking shops pretty much constantly.
  • The elevator never goes fast enough.
  • I always get the construction VIP when I have 1 minute left on my current construction, never when there's 7 hours left.
  • I have no friends to compare to on my friends page.
  • The Bitizens don't stay on screen so it can be difficult to find them when tasked to.

  • And, I can't stop bloody playing!

Might and Magic World of Xeen - Slowly Catches the Dwarven King

So I finally finished mapping out the original town, and, much to my chagrin, I found an in-game map button. However, my maps are 10x more useful, so I'm going to keep doing them. I've done the first quest, and the ungrateful mayor just gave me another one! Now I have to go to the mine to kill the crazy dwarf king that's taken over their local mine.

No problem! Or so I thought. My sorceror keeps dying to the orcs outside. Guess I've got to level some. Any tips for levelling up the back characters quicker?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Tiny Tower - SimTower for Beginners

My latest iPhone obsession is Tiny Tower. It's one of those games that's ten times better than it sounds. You build a tower, attract people to live in it and earn money to put more levels on your tower. Sound familiar? It should, the concept is almost identical to SimTower.

However, Tiny Tower shakes it up a little. It takes cues from social network gaming in that you can compare with your friends, and spend some money to get a little ahead. Unlike Farmville and the like, however, there are no extra items for those with the extra kaching to spend. It also takes the idea that it should take time to do anything. Build a new level? You need to wait for it. Restocking items in a store? Also takes time, depending on the store and the level of produce. However, if you don't wish to wait, you can use TowerBux to speed it up. You can buy these, or perform little tasks like taking customers to a specific floor, or playing a little game of 'Where's Wally' with your citizens.

The people that move into your tower each have their own skills, and their dream job. There are five categories, Food, Service, Recreation, Retail, and Creative, and each category has many different kinds of stores, which is where the dream jobs come in. If you put a person into their dream job, the amount of time it takes to restock an item goes down, so it's preferable to put people in their dream job, or at least put them someplace they have a high skill in.

Needless to say, there is an addictive quality about this game. I've found myself coming back to it regularly all day. It's a fantastic introduction to the sim genre, and is something I've personally been waiting for for years.

Now, if only I could figure out how to consider it beaten.

Might and Magic World of Xeen - Slow Going

I have been playing Might and Magic: World of Xeen (which is 4 & 5 combined into one long game). The clock currently stands at 2 hours, 10 minutes. Do you want to know how far I've got?

This is my second attempt at mapping, too.
This is a map of the first town. I haven't even finished it. I keep getting lost, and once I had to start over because I somehow mixed the orientation up and the map was bleeding into itself. Moral of the story? Even in videogames, I suck at maps.

Having said this, I am quite enjoying it anyway. There's something about slowly piecing something together which is very rewarding. I am, however, playing it with the sound off. It's super-repetitive.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

:C: - 8-bit Girlfriend

8-bit Girlfriend, released on the Xbox Live Indie scene.

I just finished it, and all I can say is, what a waste of space and time. I want my 7 minutes back.

All you do is pick one of 4 girls, then figure out the right answers. Then you get an ending screen proclaiming that you got the girl, with poor music playing over it. It's not funny, it's got bad graphics... I just don't get why this exists.

I feel sorry for anyone like me who got fooled into buying this.

Earth 2140 - Savegame Frustration

I started playing Earth 2140 today - on Easy, mindful of how much I suck at RTS games. A few thoughts.

The music is ripped straight from the 80's. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the developers just turned on the Magic music channel and just held the microphone up to the TV. It's a little strange, destroying my enemies to smooth jazz.

One of the units sounds like he's saying 'boner' when you direct it to move. This makes me chuckle every time. Yes, I am 5 years old.

Maybe this is because I haven't read the manual, but I have no idea what's going on. The main menu gives me two icons to pick from and no guidance as to which campaign is easier, who they are, why they're fighting each other, or even names! As far as I know, I'm the reddies, fighting the blueies because the blueies invaded my base one time.

And finally, how the bloody hell do you save? I clicked the save button, named my save, but as soon as I click outside the little box, the name dissapears and the slot is empty. I lost 5 missions of progress due to this and my googling is fruitless.

It's pretty cool, but needless to say, unless I can find out how to save, Earth 2140 is going in the 'broken' pile.

Geometry Wars - Pacifist

I've spent a little bit of time on Geometry Wars lately. There's probably not a lot I can say about this game that hasn't been said ten times over. I like it, but I'm not very good at it.

I'm currently aiming for the Pacifism achivement, because I'm pretty sure my skills aren't up to surviving 250,000 and beyond. I'm beginning to think it might be glitched or something. Several times now, I've got really far, and the shapes are catching up. I hear a sound effect but milliseconds later the shapes always catch up. Is the achievement supposed to pop with that sound effect? Am I just failing somehow?

Either way, I'll probably keep trying for a while - I've only clocked half an hour on it. It'll probably take a while to clock up 5 hours, given each game is less than 10 minutes (often less than 5 minutes, even). But it's pretty fun, so I don't mind.

Friday, 24 June 2011

An Explanation

Over the years, I have accumulated a great many games. Actually, this is a lie; since August 2009 I have accumulated a great many games. August 2009 was the month I started working at a store of one of the national videogame chains. I loved it. I got to chat to people about games all day, I got to borrow used games that we had more than two in stock, but most importantly, there was a not-insignificant discount. This was to be my downfall.

Most of the non-downloadable games on my Backloggery come from that store. With the discount, a lot of games fell into the "this looks interesting, it's fairly cheap, lets give it a go" category. A few were even free; a lot of PC games that people traded in were on the stock file as overstock - we couldn't sell them, we just had to throw them away. Not on my watch.

Steam has also been instrumental in increasing my videogame collection to the point of ridiculousness. I joined that in mid-2009 too. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, weekend, midweek and for-the-hell-of-it sales, I have just shy of 298 games - and that's not including various compilations. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not played even a quarter of them. It's all Steam's fault for having an entire publisher's catalogue on sale for the same price as an individual game that I want from it. Buying the full pack was a no-brainer, free time be damned!

Currently, on my Backloggery, no games have a beaten status. This isn't true, I have played through quite a few games of mine, however putting all my games online was enough of a daunting task without progress notes as well. It will be updated in due course, as I browse through the list to figure out what I want to play next.

The rules of this little challenge I have set myself are to the right, and also below to give you an idea as to how this works.
  • Must play every game for at least 5 hours unless the credits roll before then. After 5 hours, if the game has no end, it sucks, it's too hard or it's excessively long (a la Monster Hunter), I can mark it as beaten.
  • If I give it 5 stars, it has to be played to completion.
  • No nulls, unless I can't get the game to work, or I don't have that console currently.
  • Games from compilations are only added as and when I play them.
  • Free games are only kept on the page after they are beaten if they gain a 4 or 5 stars.
So there we have it. Welcome aboard! Oh, and do wish me luck.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I heard about Sequence a year or so ago. The Kickstarter page professed to combine an RPG with a rhythm game, and looked interesting, but the goal was so far away I pretty much forgot about it. So, imagine my surprise when I was browsing the Xbox Live Indie games and saw an RPG/rhythm hybrid. 'Hey!' I thought, 'Wasn't there one I saw ages ago that wanted to do that?' And lo and behold, it was the same one. So I used half of the last of the points I had to get it (the other went on Cthulhu Saves the World, but that's a post for another day).

First impressions are really good. The jist of the game is thus: You are in a tower, you have to get to the top. To get to the top, you have to synthesize keys and beat the guardian of the floor. To synthesize keys, you have to get them from enemies. The fights are the rhythm part. There are three fields, damage, spell and mana. The damage field is the attacks from the enemies, to void the damage you must press the buttons at the right time. To damage the enemies, you use spells. There is a spell selector, and once you have triggered a spell you have to hit the buttons correctly to use it. And mana is used to cast those spells - that field has buttons to press all the time to refill the gauge.

Outside of battle, your character converses with his guide, an unseen and sarcastic woman. The script is well written and often chuckle-worthy. You can also equip weapons, synth items and learn spells, and there's something moreish about replaying the enemies until you have enough items to synth all the recipes you gained on this level.

I am really enjoying it so far. Hopefully it'll keep giving me new songs to play to so I don't get bored.