Friday, August 22, 2014

Populous: the Beginning: juggling armies

Level 10 was another timed one, with an established village being sunk at the start by the enemy.  I was able to get two boats built quickly, and ferried nine followers and my shaman over to a stone head, which raised a partially-built village from the depths.  Converting all the wild men on that island to my cause, I rebuilt the houses and trained up some firewarriors, then took my meagre army over to the other island to quickly worship at the stone head there before the timer ran out.  I only succeeded because I made the worshipping party invisible, and they were therefore able to pray while my other warriors and preachers acted as bait for the attacking hoard.


The next level was more time consuming than difficult; there were two enemies, and the game hinted that the yellows were the weaker of the two.  I spent a while building my village and placing towers with firewarriors around the edge closest to the green base, while amassing an army of preachers, warriors and firewarriors around a campfire on a causeway I had built towards a stone head.  I was attacked several times by both greens and yellows, but managed to fend these off with relatively little loss - although once the green shaman did manage to place a swamp right in the middle of my settlement, leading to a few dead followers.

Once my army was a hundred-strong, I went off to the yellows, hoping the greens would not attack my relatively undefended village.  As it turns out, they were in the middle of attacking the yellows as well.  I was able to kill both enemy shamans, giving myself a load of mana for more destruction, and unlock the swamp spell before destroying the yellow village.  My army had been halved in size, but so had my enemy.

I went back to the village and started expanding.  The greens came by a few times on boats, but I was able to hit them with lightning quickly each time.  I rebuilt my army, this time to 120, and then went walking along the side of the land which the greens hadn't touched.  Halfway to the green settlement I was alerted that there was an invasion of my village - looking back I could see some invisible warriors had been infiltrating buildings, but they were, along with a couple of preachers, being killed by firewarrior towers.

Standing across from the greens, separated by a channel, I could see a vault of knowledge, containing hypnotise.  This was going to be key.  I raised a bridge and quickly crossed, then crowded my army around the vault while I worshipped it.  The enemy shaman came near and I killed her with lightning, then I gained the power meaning that I could just get the greens to fight themselves.  It didn't last long after that.

I'm getting closer to Bloodlust.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Going Around: completed!

An amusing little game in which you have to get Ann Scantlebury out of the house in the morning, having found her Oyster card, keys and mobile, and with news for the One Life Left radio show all typed and ready to go.  You need to do this within an hour (which is probably about 6 minutes of real time).



The only issue was drying out the mobile, which didn't seem to respond properly when I clicked on the correct item.  I spent ages wondering around the rest of the house before it actually let me use the item properly.

7/10.

Ico: sit on top of the world

I had left the game at the start of a trolley system, which I negotiated first thing to leave me high up on a ledge with Yorda - sofas are left in the oddest places.  I used a crane to move us both down to the top of another tower, then explored a room with a few high walkways and handy window ledges which I was able to use to clamber up and knock down the chandelier ... after half an hour of trying to work out what to do, that is.  A handy cutscene showed me the remaining support for the bridge, and when I rand down to it I happened to pass by some bombs.

It takes me a long time to progress in this game, not just because there are extended periods between play sessions but also because there is very little signposted.  The combination of the two means that I forget that I can call Yorda to jump over large gaps, for example, and then spend ages trying to work out how to move the crate over to the start of the ledge.  I spent ages fighting the shadows on the ramp before accidentally getting Yorda to the bottom and her killing them all using the shining door.  The same thing happened outside - I'm sure that previously I've had to kill all the shadows before progressing.

Anyway, I made my way to the main gate, only to see it shutting in front of me and Yorda's mum telling me to leave her daughter alone.  She seemed a bit evil.

I'm going to try to play thing more often than once every two months.  It's a fantastic game and I really want to complete it ...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy: completed!

How remiss of me; I don't seem to have posted about this as yet ...

This has been lodged in my 3DS for a couple of months now, and I've been working my way through it bit by bit.  In a way I'm glad this is the last of the traditional Layton games, since towards the end I was getting rather bored, finding the shoehorning of puzzles to random conversations a little too tenuous, and dreading having to backtrack over everything just to collect the puzzles.  In fact, I went to explore the world a bit before going to the final location, and then as I set off there I was told that more puzzles had arrived and I had to do it all over again.  Annoying.

Another case of doing things all over again arose a few times from the battery running out on my 3DS.  I wasn't saving the game that often, instead just closing the lid on the 3DS at the end of my commute and opening it the next time I got on a train.  Battery death meant I had to repeat a large part of the jungle section, and also a number of the mini games.

So, anyway.  The story was fantastical, as always, which sits at odds from the pretend real-world setting.  Once the game opened up options of where to go, and I left London, I was concerned that it may be just a little too big - though that wasn't an issue in the end, with most of the other places having a limited number of scenes.  Flying around in an airship certainly makes a change from trudging through endless screens of red dots.

Towards the end of the story, however, I found myself getting much more engaged.  Uncovering the phoenix was possibly the turning point, but discovering the true identities of Hershal and Descole cemented this as a clever tale.  The enemy from the last few games became someone I cared about.



And after this twist, I was gripped until I finished the story.


It still dragged on, though.  I wanted to solve the puzzles that would get me to the end, but at the same time I had a compulsion to go and examine everything in the world to see if there was anything hidden.  I got to the point of no return a few times and each time I was unsure whether to proceed.


Once I did, there was a fair bit of the story to complete, including a classic game where i had to take the last coin.  Always go second.


None of the final puzzles caused me problems, and after I completed the game I had five puzzles missing from the index, which I looked up on a guide to see where they were located.  Completion Stage 1.


The mini games in this were a bit hit and miss.  The dressing up one was largely pointless until you finished the game, since you needed to collect items of clothing throughout.  The squirrel one was OK but a bit dull.  The blooming gardens one was tricky and unrewarding - I felt like I was getting to the end either by luck or brute force.


Still those were done to reach Completion Stage 2.  They opened up the challenges - fifteen harder puzzles.  I finished those, leading to Completion Stage 3.  And now all I have left are the daily puzzles, which are still being released bit by bit.  I've done about 150 of those, I think - again, I'd have done more if my battery hadn't died more than once.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gaming moments: G

Gauntlet (CPC)

Andrew and I realised that as long as we could keep one of us alive at any one time, we could have effectively infinite lives, moving through levels forever.  We played for about five hours until Death attacked us both at the same time and we both died.  We both stared at the screen for a good minute then shouted "bastard!" together.

Geometry Wars Galaxies (DS)

One of the later levels had a stupidly high score for the silver medal, and enemies spawned all around my ship constantly. I seem to recall the level was shaped like a star. I finally beat it, sitting on the train, hiding in one of the points of the star and setting the drone to be a turret rather than my usual bait type.  I almost missed my stop.

Grand Theft Auto (PS)

I vividly remember completing the Liberty City missions, not knowing that there were two more worlds to unlock.  I also remember the soundtrack with the lyric "Grand Theft Auto" in one of the songs, which I thought was incredibly clever the first time I heard it. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

R-Type Dimensions: completed!

I've played through both R-Type I and R-Type II, at least, though I had to use a few continues on each.  I love R-Type, it's probably my favourite shooter with just the right level of complexity (with the force and varying powerups included) and varied stages - the first level boss is iconic, and the third level circling the ship throughout is equally memorable.

This is an excellent way to play both R-Type games.  You have the option of updated or original graphics, and switch between them on the fly (as you could with the Monkey Island remakes or Halo Anniversary).  The controls are suitably responsive, and other than that ... well, it's R-Type.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Gaming moments: F

Floigan Brothers: Episode One (Dreamcast)

I recall being stumped for ages that I needed to get to somewhere distant, but couldn't jump that far.  By accident I managed to annoy the big fat brother, who picked me up and chucked me over to the platform.

Feel the Magic XX-XY (DS)

I had the US version.  One of the first games in the game (if not the very first) sees you trying to get goldfish out of a man's stomach.  The first time I played this I was mashing the d-pad trying to control the goldfish, completely forgetting about the touch screen.  to be fair, it was a new control scheme at the time ...

Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)

Driving around in the early evening, I was worried that my console was dying, with odd spots appearing in the sky.  It turns out they were Chinese lanterns, floating upwards.

Field Commander (PSP)

I tried to play this multiplayer, not realising it would mean staying on the console until we finished the game.  You'd think that a turn-based game would work using a send-turns mechanic, but no - it worked through a continuous connection.  What's worse is that me and my opponent were closely matched, so I eventually got to bed at around 2am.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Gamecube)

We played through this at regular games evenings and days.  Kieron played a short bloke with a bucket on his head.  At the end of every day, we watched them all dance around the campfire and made sexist remarks about the woman with big boobs. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Super Mario Galaxy: completed!

Mario landed harder than normal.  Was it arthritis setting in?  Or had gravity been tampered with, maybe in an effort to get him to stay?  The toadstool blinked as if he was trying to remember something, then with a large sign shuffled towards me.  As he had done previously, he handed over a letter - maybe the same one, as the wording was identical.  There were five more lives enclosed, though some were starting to decay.

It had only been a year and a half, but the space station seemed to be creaking.  I looked at the map, wiping the layers of dust off, and realised that I had no idea how to find any more stars.


I saw that in the engine room there was a question mark over a grey star, but on arriving at this room I couldn't work out how to collect this rather than the previous star.  I assumed it was hidden on the same level, but I had no idea how to go about finding it.


There was a boss level sitting unplayed - a lava world.  But no, what was I doing?  I had 74 stars, was I going to try to get all 120 before facing my foe?  I didn't know if you even could get all 120 beforehand, and even if you could then I would never reach that point.

The time had come.  Peach had been languishing for seven years, Bowser waiting patiently for his plans to be finalised.  I ran down the path towards Rosalina, my burdens suddenly relieved.  I was going to finish this, and everything else was optional.  It did not need to happen!



The space station turned into a spaceship, and I was on my way to the castle.  It seemed to be well preserved, maybe due to a slowing of time at the centre of the galaxy. My seven years may have been mere minutes.


Bowser implied not.


The final battle was long and hard.  It took me ages to work out how to hit Bowser during the first part of the fight - having to work out where to stand to hit his head as he rolling towards me was tricky.  I managed it after losing two lives, and the last part of the battle seemed easy by comparison.


And that was it.  The star gleamed over the pole of Bowser's miniature planet, slightly corroded by time.


I ran to it, desperate to escape before the world disintegrated to dust.  Escape I did - though the end credits sequence was a bit odd, with Mario, Peach and Bowser waking up outside the castle in its grounds.  Everything seems to be connected.


Except, of course, that's not the end, and there are still many stars to collect.  New galaxies opened up, purple comets appeared, and Rosalina welcomed me back with a knowing wink.  45 more stars are needed to unlock something, it seems, and many of those will be up in the top of the space station, as well as following comets around.

Not right now.  I went back to the lava boss world, so I could be sure there wasn't an empty existing galaxy, and completed that.


Then I found myself at the gate world, where I was introduced to red stars and purple coins.  The flying controls are pretty awful - in fact, I've found the controls overall hard to adjust to, after my lengthy break.  A number of deaths falling off the side of the world or running into enemies that I should have been able to avoid.



It's completed, in that I've rescued Peach and her long-term incarceration is over.  I've seen the end credits.  I've not completed every star - I've not even played on every level - but I'm happy with that.  For now.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Pikmin 2: completed!

After a long break, I decided to go back and try to finish this before it was lost forever.  I had completed the first two areas, and had a remaining debt of just 105 doodahs.  It shouldn't take too long, thought I.

Straight away I found another bit of treasure outside in the Perplexing Pool.  It was on a high ledge, which could only be accessed by yellow pikmin due to their added throwing height.  I had to throw them up to a platform, walk around myself, and throw them up to the top.  The treasure was worth 100 pipplies.  So close.


So I went down into the shower room, a cave system which required me to have water, fire, electric and poison pikmin.  I didn't take enough poison pikmin for the first few levels, as half the enemies were spewing purple gas and I had to fight through with my little band of twenty.  The levels were quite inventive though, with a good use of previous enemies and some new ones - floating jellyfish in particular - thrown in.

Of course, after the first level I had made over 10,000 jinglies, but I wasn't going to stop there.  One of the frog enemies killed about 25 of my pikmin in a single jump; an electric jellyfish killed more.  Half way down I found a level which let me regenerate some more pikmin, and it randomly gave me some more red ones.

Which was annoying, as I managed to clear out the entire cave apart from one treasure - a set of false teeth underwater, which required twenty pikmin to move.  I had only 14 blue pikmin left.

The boss was hard as well.  A larger version of the wibbly slug on the surface, which meant I knew I had to attack the flower on the back.  It killed a large number of pikmin, and I'm still unsure of the best strategy to beat it, but I got there with brute force.  I went back to the surface, and ...



The end-of-game scores are presented as a leaderboard, hinting that other people should play this copy or I should go back and do it all over again.  Maybe not.


There's more game to play though.  Louie's been left on the surface; Mr Boss Man says he'll go back to get him.  There are a fair few treasures in the Perplexing Pool to collect, and a whole new area has opened in the top-right of the map.  I may well be back.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition: completed!

OK, hardly the longest campaign or story mode, but it has taken me quite a while to beat.  I'm not great at SFIV - I was great at SFII on the mega Drive with the 6-button pad, completing it with every character, but this is less straightforward.  I got the original SFIV ages ago and played through the arcade mode a few times, but Seth beat me constantly.  I was resigned to having to dial down the difficulty a bit if I wanted to win.

But I managed to beat Super SFIV on medium, with no continues, using Ken.  Seth is still a git, but I managed to defeat him, finally.  I then played through again using Zangief, who is pretty slow but handy with his spinning clothes line move.


And then I was delighted to find that the game automatically saves replays of your matches, so I was able to bask in glory at my defeats of Kieron [planneroftowns] and John [BadHead] (and ignore the matches where they won instead).



They didn't lose all the time, of course.  Sometimes they fought each other.


Gaming moments: E

Essential Sudoku DS (DS)

After competing 999 picross puzzles, there was one left.  Surely the pinnacle of difficulty, it's surely going to be a trophy or medal or something special.  Oh no, it's really easy and it's a pie chart.  A bloody pie chart.

Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360)
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (PS Vita)


Both games have many highlights, but the thing I will remember most is the mission in which you are sent into battle against the massive walking fortress.  I destroyed more of the city than the fortress did while trying to attack it, and finally the mission ends with you withdrawing because your weapons aren't powerful enough.  Sorry I broke the Space Needle for nothing, guys.

Exit (PSP)

One of the characters you have to rescue is very fat. I called him Fatty.  I pushed boxes onto him.  He died.

Ecolibrium (PS Vita)

Playing on the train, on the tutorial.  And then the game requires me to look around 180 degrees with my Vita to see the animals behind me.  Not going to happen; never loaded up again.

Endless Ocean (Wii)

I recently went back to this as part of the "Au Revoir Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" drive, which was pointless as the only online mode it has is to connect to a friend who is simultaneously playing the game; that will never have happened.  Anyway, during my brief play I watched the most stilted and awkward cutscene ever made.

EyeToy: Play (PS2)

Accompanying the cleaning suds game with "When I'm Cleaning Windows" was a work of genius. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaming moments: D

Dear Esther (Mac) 

The end sequence will probably stay with me for a long time - but only when combined with the crash scene and hospital bed at the bottom of the cave.

Dancing Stage (arcade)

I only played this a couple of times, at the Trocadero.  The machine felt huge, and even before getting on the platform you felt energised by the lights and colours.  I had seen someone playing already, so knew what to expect, but the first time that two arrows came up the screen at the same time still threw me off guard.  Unfortunately none of the home versions quite hit the same spot, partially because of crappy dance mats.

Daytona USA (arcade)

A four-player cabinet at the bowling alley in Bexleyheath.  I had just learnt to let the back drift out and powerslide around the corners, and overtook my friend John doing so.  He shouted at me that it wasn't a powerslide, just a lucky skid.  So I did it again the next race.

Desert Strike (Mega Drive)

I actually remember this more from my playthrough on the PSP, given the use of save states which allowed me to actually complete the game. There were a number of memorable points, but the best was chasing the madman across the map in his speedboat at the end of the penultimate level.  I was raining missiles on the speedboat the whole time and it didn't explode.  Of course not; where would the last level come in if that happened?

Donkey Konga (GameCube)

The instructions speeding up a few bars into Don't Stop Me Now.  We played this again recently, and it's still great.

Doshin the Giant (GameCube)

I played this when it was first released, back in 2002, to completion. I can remember very little of it now, other than the moment when I first realised you could pick up and throw villagers.  I did it many times and they all hated me, so I had to restart the day.

DLC Quest (PC)

Three points:
  1. Being unable to move left at the start of the game, and audio cutting out.  I thought the game was broken; evidently not. 
  2. Meeting an NPC called Phil at the end of a long cave, who informed me that he was just there to fill space. 
  3. The ending of the game not actually being the ending of the game unless you buy some DLC and finish it. 
Driver (PS)

I have never completed the last level because it was just too hard.