Thursday, December 29, 2005

Populous: the Beginning: total massacre

I killed the greenies, at last. It was a long hard battle, but I won by manoeuvering all my fighters to the green shamen worship site, and killing her as soon as she reappeared, over and over again. Eventually she died for good, but her and her warriors had severely reduced my fighting capacity.

According to the markers, there were battles going on between the red and yellow armies. Or so I thought. I returned to my village to regroup and strengthen my army, to find the reds attacking from the north and the yellows from the south. My village laid in tatters and my tiny army offered no resistance. I died.

So I'll have to go back to the pre-greenie-battle save. Bah, humbug.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Father Christmas and his Gaming Goodness

I got very little gaming stuff for Christmas this year, but that was partly by request, since most of what I wanted, I knew I'd be able to get in the sales after Christmas. Indeed, I sat with Tamsyn on Christmas Day evening browsing the sales on various websites.

I now own:

Animal Crossing: Wild World (hoorah!)
Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (for the Xbox)
Spartan: Total Warrior (for the Gamecube)
Pinball of the Dead (for the GBA)

And something else which I can't remember at the moment ... but I got it for a fiver. Hmm. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 21/12/2005

Since I've got to give Animal Crossing back (boo), I might play some other games.

One
Kill the greenies in Populous: the Beginning.

Two
Two of the 4CO War Room maps in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, as recommended by Kieron.

Three
Complete the second level of Viewtiful Joe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Animal Crossing: Wild World

I've been leant a copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World for the purposes of review. This is quite possibly the worst game that you can be leant for review, since the whole point of it is to build up relationships with your townmates, which you then keep for years. I can't bear giving it up.

Anyway, the game is charming. I've been online a few times and met some other people (visiting their towns, and having them visit me). It's what the Gamecube game should have been. The only downside is that the online service is a bit flaky, and I've experienced one crash - other people seem to have worse luck than me.

But it's lovely and relaxing. And very addictive. I hope I get this for Christmas ... and if I do, I'll cunningly swap the game cards so that I don't lose my town. Oh yes. Otherwise I'll be very sad indeed.

Populous: the Beginning: Bloodlust

Bloodlust is one of those eternal levels, where you start doing quite well, and then everyone attacks you at once, and you're left with very few believers, and you have to build up to the point where you're doing well again ...

Still, I've been attacking the green faction relentlessly, and they're reduced down to a few huts. But they've got some strong warriors, who've been protecting their shamen and village well. I need to wipe them out with my shaman before I can properly finish them off. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Viewtiful Joe: big bad helicopter

That's fair. I fight my way through loads of enemies, slowing down time as needed, being cool, and then this big helicopter thing attacks me.

Great.

I beat him up though.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 14/12/2005

OK, so I didn't play Populous: the Beginning at all. Boo to me.

One
Two more new war room maps to be completed. Anyone want to nominate which ones?

Two
Complete the first level of Viewtiful Joe. I've never played it - only the demo which I got from the US.

Three
Complete Bloodlust in Populous: the Beginning. Or at least kill off one of the factions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Kita Strait

Sami's a bit of a nightmare with her super power - she can take any property by just landing on it. So imagine my panic when I realised she'd just landed six infantry on my shore and her superpower meter was just tipping over ...

Luckily, I had eight neotanks lined up around the bottom of my island, and completely wiped out the invasion before it had a chance to get a foothold. No hesitation as on the last war room map, either - I started ferrying neotanks and mechs across the water before Sami had a chance to react.

An A rank overall, though - I was let down by my power score. Considering that I wiped out everything of hers apart from a cruiser (which was pootling around on two health while I captured her HQ), I'm not sure what else I could have done ...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Bounty River

A B rank, I'm afraid - mainly due to my hesitency to get on with doing anything.

I'd taken half the map pretty easily, and was just having trouble getting across the river to start taking Jugger's lower peninsular. I was trying to fight off his advances along the river as well as trying to fight too much on the landing site. What I should have done was to send and hide two subs just up the river so that he became jammed in, and then concentrated not on defeating everything on the peninsular but just sending a loaded APC flanked by three neotanks down to his base. That's what I did in the end, and it worked.

By that time though, I'd lost far too many units, and had a technique score well down in the sixties.

Mario Kart Disjointed States

I played quite a lot of Mario Kart DS over the weekend, mainly online when I could. Most of the time I was playing on the "continental" setting, and had some great games - mostly pretty close, and I won a few and lost a few.

However, on Sunday morning, I played on the 'worldwide' setting. Never again.
  • I don't think that Nintendo intended the avatars to contain pictures of an extended middle finger, the word 'fuck' repeated three times, or a crude rendering of an arse.
  • I don't get huge amounts of enjoyment out of winning a race and then having every other opponent disconnect as soon as I get into first place on the next lap.
  • I don't think "limey fag" is a particularly friendly name to use.

It was a pretty big jolt back to reality, and it's made me rather positive about the feature in Live on the Xbox 360 where you can specify whether you want your opponents to come from the same region as you. I will.

Anyway, 34 games won.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pokémon Sapphire: Flannery flanneled

At first, Flannery's gym looks horribly complicated, with holes in the floor and boosting pads to let you jump back up to ground level. And a two-level maze. It's quite simple once you work out where you're going to end up each time, though. The tricky bit is the fact that some of the holes aren't holes at all, but cleverly-disguised gym people. So you think you know where to go, and then can't go there.

Anyway, I quickly realised that this gym was full of firey pokémon, and so a watery pokémon would be a good idea. I'd previously invested some time in levelling up a magikarp to evolve it into a gyrados, so I went out of the gym and collected that. It was only level 20, with three moves - splash (hah!), tackle and bite - so I went for a walk to evolve it. And got lost. It took me quite some time to make my way back to the gym, by wich time my gyrados was level 25 and had learnt dragon rage.

And it was because of this that I beat Flannery hands down. Her first two pokémon crumbled almost immediately, and her last one took four turns before it too bit the dust.

So, where next? It was hinted that I should go to see my dad again, but there's that big boulder in the underground passage that I want to shift ...

Websites Nobody Wants

The Guardian has an interesting article in its Technology section today about government-run websites that nobody (or at least nearly nobody) visits. Such websites, people claim, cost the taxpayer thousands or pounds a year and are of use to a small minority of the electorate.

Now, let's leave aside the fact that lots of things provided by the government cost thousands of pounds a year and are of use to very few people - population growth data collection, official forms in Urdu, regulation of noise levels near airports, and so on. The two questions I have regarding this are:
  1. Why do these websites cost thousands of pounds a year to run when they often have no updates and no maintenance during that year?
  2. Why is it a bad thing that the government is providing people with information?

I would hypothesise that the answers are:

  1. Civil servants like spending money (and bear in mind that I was one for a year - I know)
  2. It's not.

Information is a good thing, even if people don't want to know about it. A low number of visitors really is no indication of how useful that information is, anyway.

But the above ramble is just something that reminded me of a similar sort of website. http://askaboutgames.com has been set up by the UK games industry to inform parents primarily about age ratings but also about the industry, the types of games that are produced, and the fact that games aren't just for kids any more. It's a good site, written in friendly language and easy to understand.

But considering that it's not being advertised anywhere, it's not likely to get many visitors at all. A shame really; we'll have to endure the "Manhunt made my 5-year-old a killer" stories for a while yet.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 07/12/2005

Mixed success last week, then. This week:

One
Get my 'games won' of Mario Kart DS online up to at least 30 (it's currently on 10, with 8 losses).

Two
Complete Bloodlust in Populous: the Beginning. Fingers crossed.

Three
Complete two new war room maps in Advance Wars: Dual Strike. Happy, Kieron?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mario Kart Done - Sort of

I've got a gold trophy in all GPs at all classes. I was 'treated' to a new credits sequence, where Luigi was driving faster than normal, in the opposite direction, and caught up with all the other racers at the end to overtake them. This makes a bit more sense than the normal end sequence, where you have to watch as all the computer players overtake your player during the course of the sequence. And I've got a new background on the title screen. And I can choose any kart for any character. Fitting Waluigi in Toad's kart should be fun.

The reason I say "sort of" is that there's at least one GP where I've got a B rank, and I won't be happy until everything's an A or above. And probably a star or above.

Populous: the Beginning

Every time I play this, I realise that no matter what else is taking my fancy, Populous: the Beginning is the best game ever. It's got the perfect mixture of strategy, action, intelligence, shine and gameplay. With other games, I've occasionally sat down to play and then realised I couldn't be bothered. That's never been the case with Populous: the Beginning.

Populous itself was excellent, but it quickly became slightly monotonous. And I always felt as if you were rather detached from the world you were influencing - even more so than the fact it was running in a computer. There were in effect two gaps: player to god and god to world. Populous: the Beginning manages to overcome this. Although you're still the god, then you're more focused on your shaman than the world at large - and maybe it's this focus that provides the link between god and world. And the fact that you're no longer all-powerful without your shaman helps to erode the other link.

It's tricky, though. I've written before about the fact that I've got three worlds to conquer to get past level nine. I've conquered only one. Bloodlust, one of the four, is proving rather tricky.

I've made progress, though. I've now got a massive village with loads of followers, loads of warriors, priests and fire warriors. But the green and red enemies keep on attacking me, meaning that I can't get a force together to go and wipe one of the groups out for good. Which I really need to do.

Greens, your time is almost up.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Pokémon Sapphire: to the gym!

Running down the slopes, I'm told that a skilled bikesman can get back up them. I can't. I'm obviously not skilled.

Still, at least I caught some new pokémon.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

DS online!

I'm back online after a bit of a hairy ride. I decided to finally upgrade my router's firmware to the Australian version. I followed the steps, changing my IP where needed. I got to the stage where I could connect to my router with my computer, and Tam's computer, and even my Xbox. But when I tried to plug the phone line in, I couldn't connect wirelessly at all, and had to resort to using an ethernet cable to do any further configuring. Not great.

After a few tries, I tried changing the default gateway that had been entered (which wasn't actually being used, since it was set to automatic) and it connected. I don't think I've ever been quite so happy to see the Google homepage.

And then the magic part. I turned on Mario Kart DS, chose "Nintendo WFC" ... and it found my router. I entered the WEP key and it connected. And I played. And played. And it was good. And then I realised that it quarter to two in the morning, so I came to write this in celebration before going to bed.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mario Kart Damn Shells

I'm most of the way through the single-player of this now. I've passed the 50cc races with star ranks or above; 100cc GPs with A ranks or above, and 150cc GPs with B ranks or above. I've got (I think) two more 150cc mirror GPs to complete. I've been through mission mode, and have completed level 1 and 2 with star ranks, and the others with varying degrees of incompetence. I'll improve soon, I'm sure.

I just want to play multiplayer now. Gnnh.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 30/11/2005

After not much success last week, here are this week's challenges:

One
Complete Mario Kart DS's 150cc mirror mode. I've only come third in the first GP so far, so some way to go.

Two
Catch five more pokémon in Sapphire.

Three
Complete Bloodlust in Populous: the Beginning. Not got high hopes for this one - I've not been able to do it for the past two years ...

Monday, November 28, 2005

No DS online

The Nintendo DS doesn't work with my router. At all. It can't even see it.

It's not just me that has this problem. I've posted to the Expansys forum, and it turns out that lots of people are having trouble. The only workaround appears to be the installation of Australian firmware on the router, but there are rather a lot of horror stories around people losing their Internet connections. Tam's dissertation's due next week; I don't think I'll risk that just yet.

To compound the misery, Nintendo's collaboration with TheCloud appears to have been rained upon. I went to three Cloud hotspots and none of them would allow access for my DS.

Rubbish, Nintendo, rubbish.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pokémon Sapphire: Mount Chimney

I'm on a volcano, and it appears to be snowing. I reckon it's dust though. Team Magma and Team Aqua are having a bit of argy bargy. Why can't they just leave me out of it, eh?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mario Kart DS

In 50cc it's slow - but it's always been. The blue shell is annoying and unavoidable. The opponents in each grand prix are frustratingly fixed so it's always the same racer vying for the lead.

But it's great. In fact, it's the best in the Mario Kart series, by far. And I've not even played it online yet, or even in multiplayer.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

No Pac'n'Roll

I was meant to be playing Pac'n'Roll, but I've left the game at work. Mario Kart comes out tomorrow. I strongly suspect I'm not going to complete challenge number one.

Krat: a definition

Krat (n) cra-t
(1) A small motorised vehicle driven by a cartoon or video character
(2) An evil feline
FROM hilarious misspellings of the word 'kart'

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 23/11/2005

This week's challenges are as follows:

One
Clear another world of Pac'n'Roll. I can't remember how many I've already done, but Advance Wars Dual Strike sort of got in the way. I didn't play it much - I didn't even mention it on here - so I really ought to give it a proper go.

Two
Get my router working with the DS. Even if it is rather out of my control. Actually, make the challenge to play a DS game online. The pub across from work has a Cloud hotspot in it ...

Three
Catch ten new Pokémon in Sapphire.

Remaining Midweek Challenges - 16/11/2005

Since these aren't covered elsewhere ...

I've worked out how to create the GamerWiki page and so it's effectively launched. And I've started to advertise that in places. So that's passed.

And I've only written one ugvm review. I feel shamed.

Tony Hawk's American SK8land, and DS online

Yes, it is called that.

I bought this from Game to assess two things: firstly whether I should put it on my Christmas list, and secondly to check whether my router works with Nintendo's WiFi stuff.

Firstly, the good news. This is a superb game, and I almost don't want to put it on my Christmas list because that means I won't be able to play it until then. I've already played it far too much, unlocking three areas in the story mode and one in the classic mode. It controls well, it's graphically really clear and stylish, and the levels are almost perfectly designed. I used to really enjoy playing Tony Hawk's Skatebourding on my Dreamcast, and this really is 100% better than that. I can't wait for Christmas now.

And apparently the multiplayer's really good. I say apparently, since my router seems to be incompatible with the DS. The DS just can't see the network at all - it can see my neighbour's network, but he's got that encrypted so that's not a lot of good. I've done a lot of research and it seems that this is due to the router's firmware - an issue which has been resolved by D-Link in Australia, but that firmware's not available to us in the UK yet.

Some people have got the Australian firmware running on their router - see here - but it's a bit risky and I can't do without a net connection for the next couple of weeks for various reasons. After that, it's fair game ... but hopefully D-Link UK will release new firmware. Thay've had enough people phoning up tech support about it by now, I'm sure ...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ace Golf

Probably my favourite golf game of all time, and that's mainly because it doesn't take itself too seriously. It has an inspired control mechanism, where you use the C-stick to swing the club.

I played two rounds of this today - one in a normal tournament (ending 2 below par) and one a skins match against some french girl. I won that too, and unlocked her so I can now choose to be a french girl myself. Hmm. I also somehow managed to unlock a new caddy - an Australian bloke called Shane. Challenge five completed.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: completed!

I finally managed to get my DS back off of Tam, and replaced Zoo Keeper with Advance Wars: Dual Strike. I was halway through a mission, and shortly after starting it my colleague finished off the enemy on the secondary front. So it was just left to me to go and blow up the big oozium thing that covered the top half of the playing field.

I sent loads of units north, taking out the ooziums that were being spat out of the big blob one by one, and taking over the bases that were right next to the issue points. Then a few antiair units went and did a lot of shooting. And that was it - a lengthy story bit where I decided if Jake should shoot Von Bolt's chair (and thus kill him) or not. A big moralistic speech about how we all kill to stay alive. A rather obvious lack of comparability. Credits. Campaign completed.

Of course, I've got a hell of a lot of war room maps to go now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Metroid: Zero Mission: completed!

I found out where I was supposed to be going. I killed this big flying pterodactyl thing, not by elegance or avoiding attacks, but by just firing lots of missiles at him. Then more exploring until I found the big brain in a jar, which was rather tricky to kill - but I did in the end, by freezing the little circle things to keep them out of the way, and jumping around like a loon. Then the self-destruct sequence started and I had to run. And that wasn't the end of the game.

No, that led to another cutscene which showed Samus's ship being shot down by space pirates. And she'd taken off her suit and guns, so she was left with a crappy pistol that couldn't kill anything. And I had to go and find her suit, avoiding the pirates (who could kill me rather easily), then go and escape. And to escape I had to kill this big metal version of the pterodactyl thing, which was really difficult to do. But I did. And had to run away again, and steal one of their funny-looking stingray ships.

And that was the end of the game.

So, challenge one completed.

Midweek Challenges - 16/11/2005

On uk.games.video.misc, every Wednesday we set ourselves challenges to complete by the next week. The idea being that it gives us added incentive to progress in games, and to think about what we're playing.

That's sort of the idea of this blog, too.

So, why not combine the two? My midweek challenges this week are:

One
Complete Metroid Zero Mission. I think this should be possible. I hope.

Two
Get the weekly releases drive for GamerWiki properly launched. Each week I'm putting up a list of the games released that week. And then by the end of that week, all those games should have been added to the database. And you can help. Yes, you. http://www.gamerwiki.com/index.php/GamerWiki:Games_to_be_Added

Three
Test that my router works with the DS's online service by buying Tony Hawk's American SK8land on Friday and returning it on Monday ... and at the same time deciding if it should go on my Christmas list. But believe me, returning games is always a challenge.

Four
Four reviews for ugvm. ugvm is a web-based PDF magazine that uk.games.video.misc puts together from time to time. The last one was produced for Christmas 2003. Now someone else has volunteered to be the editor, and has asked for contributions.

Five
Unlock another caddy in Ace Golf. This'll help introduce some variety to gaming nights, without the same caddy saying "IN THE HOLE! YOU CAN DO IT!" over and over and over and over and over and over.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lego Star Wars: completed!

Something my brother said last Thursday made me realise that I've never completed Lego Star Wars. I got two-thirds of the way through, and then stopped at the point where Episode 3 started - since at the time, I hadn't seen Episode 3 at the cinema. And then I never went back to it.

It took me about an hour to work through the levels - it's not a difficult game, after all, and the infinite lives aren't a hindrance either (not, of course, that I died very often) The final battle against Anakin was a bit of a let-down, since it really did just involve doing a double jump over him and pushing into the lava again and again.

But overall it was really enjoyable, and I'll certainly be going back to it, especially the cooperative mode. Even Tam likes that - probably because she manages to 'win' somehow.

Halo: completed!

I was closer to the end than I thought. After working my way back to the shuttle bay, I found the captain - or, at least, what remained of him. A face. Urgh. Then down to the crashed Truth and Reconciliation, and an unwelcome return of the sentinels. Through there to the cockpit, set the self-destruct sequence, know full well it's not going to be that easy, guilty spark thingy wants to save the ship (stupid, stupid thing), really easy bit of firing big rockets into a nuclear reactor (yes, great idea), then really tricky bit of running away very quickly afterwards. I reached the escape ship with ... well, I have no idea how much time. I was watching the seconds count down and the distance count down ... and they both hit zero at roughly the same time. Good job really, I wasn't looking forward to that big long run again.

So, Halo's completed. On Normal. It was a very good game, which got better as you progressed. The highlight really is the enemy intelligence, and the way the levels are designed so that you have to hide from them and lure them into range. The flood was a bit of a disappointment, since they don't exhibit the same intelligence, and to fight them you're best off just standing still with a shotgun.

But it was good. I might even play it again some time.

Only just got up ...

Not because I'm lazy, but because I was awake most of the night making sure that there was no food left in my body at all. I'm starving now, of course, but the chance of me being able to keep anything down is minimal. I tried to do some work (since I do have a rather looming deadline), but it's just not possible given the fact that the numbers 2 and 3 (and indeed any other number) just mean the same to me. I think I'm going to go and curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a book. Or maybe Halo.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Metroid: Zero Mission

A day-trip to Brussels on the Eurostar - so I had a bit of time on the way home to start playing Metroid: Zero Mission (I was working on the way out). I bought this ages ago, and never started it. I took it away on honeymoon, just in case, but it never got near my DS.

And that's probably a good thing. This a a really great game that for some reasons seems to work best on the SP. It's an extended conversion of the first Metroid game, which I've only ever played a small bit of due to the linkup between Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime (I completed Fusion when I got it - as the first game I had for the GBA, I played it rather extensively). I wish I'd played more, since I'd love to know where the differences are, and to see if Metroid originally was as good as this.

But Zero Mission is superb. I can't remember the last time that a game has had such a "just a bit more" feeling when I'm playing it, to the extent that I missed my stop at Canada Water and had to change trains, and I was sitting on the train at New Cross Gate for a few minutes until I realised that everyone else had got off.

So far, I've got the morph ball, hi-jump, ice beam, varia suit, bombs, 100-odd missiles, five energy tanks, and a couple of unidentified things. It's been not easy, but not overly taxing so far - the most tricky bit to get past is a giant fat monster thing, which really you ought to just leave to die from a heart attack. But I'm now lost, knowing where I need to get to but having no idea at all how to get there.

But I'll keep playing it until I find out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Halo: backtracking

Sort of backtracking, at least. I've decided to try and finish this over the next few days since Tam's going to be busy writing her dissertation. Some pleasing progress tonight, past the big outdoory snowy bits and I'm now back to the corridors of the covenant ship that you get beamed up into from Halo near the start. It looks like I've got to try and get back to places I've already been, but the ship's been blown up a bit and rather than just covenant enemies, there are the flood as well. I've already watched some pretty spectacular battles between flood and covenant - watching from afar so that I could just take on the survivors - normally flood. The shotgun is my friend.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Games Night XI

Something like the eleventh this year, anyway. John and I went around to Kieron's, in order to get beaten by him on Advance Wars: Dual Strike. But we didn't get beaten by him at all. Oh no.

What actually happened is that half-way through the first game, John went into the kitchen, and the connection on all the DSs dropped. Then half-way through the second game, nobody went anywhere, but the connection still dropped. We have no idea why - although John did make a suggestion that someone's cordless phone might have interfered with it.

But anyway. Rubbish.

We also played some Halo 2 (online - we're crap and proud of it) and tried to play Pac-Man . Except Kieron's got a US copy of that, and his brand new big widescreen swanky funko skillo TV doesn't accept NTSC. It works with 60Hz, though. I'm sure it could take NTSC, but Kieron refused to go and get the manual to look. I think he was just scared of losing at Pac-Man.

I mean, he was scared at losing at AW:DS, obviously, which is why he "dropped the connection". And on Thursday, he was obviously scared of losing at PES4 online, since the "connection dropped" with about 10 minutes to go. Chinny reckon.

We now know that in the future, if anything technical goes wrong, it's because Kieron's afraid of losing.

Maybe.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Struck

Or, at least, I thought it was.

I was on mission 27, where you have three armies split by pipes, with the Orange Star army about to get mullered by masses of black hole troops on their way down the middle. I'd tried the mission a few times, but was never very happy with the way I started - Orange Star was getting almost anniliated by day four (especially if the enemy used his CO power), Blue Moon was getting stuck halfway up the screen with battleships blocking each other, and Green Earth was stuck in stalemate on the right with neither of us wanting to move our aircraft in range of the other's fighters.

So I decided to just blast it. I chose Eagle as one of the Green Earth COs, and basically sacrificed my battle copter (down to one point) so he'd moved his fighter in range. I took out his fighter with my fighter and my stealth, and manoeuvred my bomber up towards the crystal. I had a few turns left before the infanty at the top of the screen could capture a base and build an anti-aircraft.

Meanwhile I was basically defending with Orange Star, building tank after tank and trying to eliminate as much as possible. It wasn't working that well. Blue Moon was ... well, I don't really think much of boats anyway, but I was doing quite well at destroying the cruiser and battleship, until I was ambushed by a hiding sub. That was awkward.

But anyway. Day six, bomber over the obelisk, 114% damage, level done. Just with a very poor power score. Another B rank. But never mind.

So, anyway, Lort Dolt has been using this obelisk to get energy so that he can carry on living. The obelisk is destroyed. Surely that should mean his life force is also destroyed?

Oh, no. Apparently he's taken all the energy that was in the obelisk and is going to use it to kill all my COs. When exactly did he take all this energy? Before or after it was bombed? And how's he managing to keep on living?

Level 28 looks nasty. I wonder if that will be the end ...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sonic Heroes: suicidal Amy

There's a boss battle where Amy decides to attack Sonic and co for some unexplained reason. She says something like "You're not getting away from me any more, Sonic!". Then she and her friends jump over Sonic's head, off the side of the platform. The mission complete sequence runs.

I don't think that was supposed to happen.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: my first B-rank

Boo!

It was a tricky mission - I was commanding three armies, and had to capture nine silo sites within fifty minutes in order to stop the enemy firing at me with their giant space laser. I had to stop their infantry landing on any silo sites, and also had to take account of the fact that they were sending units out to destroy me at the same time.

I managed it in twenty minutes in the end, after a bit of luck with the enemy deciding to regroup infantry rather than making a run for a silo site. The only problem was that then I had units all over the map, with no real strategy open for getting into the middle and finishing off the big base crystal thing.

Green Earth on the east of the map had a lot of defending to do - killing off rockets, infantry and helicopters. They'd already polished off the big cannon with an artillery unit, but that was then left up at the north of the map with no support. Green Earth had a lot of regrouping to do.

Orange Star was stuck in the south with very few units (after the megatank had done its rounds, followed by the oozium). This wasn't helped by the fact that there was a missile site which had the Orange Star airport in range, and Green Earth was nowhere near it to destroy it.

Blue Moon, on the other hand, had quite a few units on the west of the map, and control of a well-placed factory. I built a few rockets there and sent them up, while blocking the route of any enemy units trying to get out of the pipe spiral. The rockets could hit the central enemy base easily. And they did. Two hits later, and the level was over.

Speed - 47/50.
Technique - 48/50.

But power ... I hadn't killed enough of their units first. Their second oozium was laughing at me. Their medium tank and their fighter were sniggering. I got 32/50.

B.

Sigh.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen: elite for nothing

I tried to beat the Elite Four again.

And failed again.

It wouldn't be so bad, but I get loads of experience from getting past each of them. The problem is that I'm a bit short of funds, and so can't really go back to the beginning and retry with newly-levelled-up pokémon, since I'll have run out of the essential potions and other healing stuff to make my pokémon able to fight the next battle.

I think I'll have to do some more levelling up, and fundraising.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Oozium

Horrible stuff. You have to make sure that you'll be able to finish it off in one go before moving next to it, otherwise one of youtr units is going to be killed. And that's not a good thing, especially when it's your megatank.

The first map where you fight Oozium has fog of war turned on. This makes it even worse, since an ambush can be potentially deadly. Having got through that mission with an S-rank (dopping only two points on technique), the next one's massively intimidating. A desert, with about 20 Ooziums (Oosia?) scattered around. I went off and played in the war room instead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Pivot Isle

More colons are better.

I just played Pivot Isle, a War Room map in AW:DS. I got an S rank, first time through, obliterating my opponent with no mercy shown. It was another map really suited to the Colin/megatank combination, but even before I could afford my first megatank I'd taken the centre island almost completely and had positioned two normal tanks on the southern bridge to stop the blue army getting past. That started the money rolling in, and production of megatanks in the south and on the centre island started soon after.

Bish bash bosh. 290/300 - and I think I was just a day over.

Sonic Heroes

Sonic Adventure was great. Sonic Adventure 2 was also great - I even enjoyed the crystal searching that everyone else seemed to despise. However, there was one level that I got fed up of - it involved Sonic being blasted around by cannons and then missing a grind rail. I got fed up of the grind rails.

How overjoyed I was, therefore, to see the grind rails make a reappearance in Sonic Heroes. But they've made them even better. No longer can you just jump and land near them, and the game gives you the benefit of the doubt. No, now you can jump and even pass through them without the game registering. Sometimes you have to stand next to the start and press B, but that doesn't always work. Very odd.

And boss battles. In the good old Sonic games, you could watch the boss for a while, avoiding his attacks, working out when and where he was vulnerable. Sonic Heroes has to tell you, and more to the point Sonic Heroes has to tell you because half the time the camera hasn't managed to get Robotnik on the screen. Dire.

Yet I'm enjoying the game - it has a certain carefree easiness to it which means you don't mind dying a few times through random issues, since you know you'll get past that bit sooner or later. There a lot of speed and destructiveness and fun. As long as there are no grind rails.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Striking

Ten hours' play now (nearly), and I've reached mission 15 in campaign. The problem is that it looks like a big mission, and I've not built up enthusiasm to tackle it. Especially since he's got a megatank and loads of rockets, and there's fog of war which I hate.

So instead I've been playing some of the war room maps. Two A ranks and two S ranks so far, which I'm quite pleased with. I do like the megatanks - they give a new strategy for some of the maps where there are limited movement possibilities. Colin's a much better CO in this game too, since the big expensive units become more affordable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Predictable, I know.

I bought this yesterday lunchtime. At the time of writing, I have played the game for three hours and ten miutes in total, which is impressive given the fact that most of last night was spent unpacking and washing from the honeymoon.

It's a bit confusing. At first, it almost seemed as if they've broken the game, with the addition of tag team tactics, and altered unit abilities and so on. I'm sure that Md Tanks can now move a shorter distance. Some of the new characters are a little suspect too, with odd CO powers. Still, there's plenty of time for it to improve - or time for me to get used to its quirks.

One mission in particular intrigued me. The enemy had a piperunner - a sort of big gun thing - but it was sat on a single piece of pipe a little way from my bases. I was able to build two tanks and send them down to destroy the piperunner in a single turn. As a result, I still know very little as to the piperunner's abilities - what damage can it do; can it actually move? I'd have thought that the idea of introducing new bits a piece at a time was to give an idea of how they worked, but in both this example and the first Black Hole tag-team match, I only learnt the name. Very odd.

Maybe I'm just too good. Doubtful, seeing as Kieron always wins.

I do like the stylus control, though. There was nothing wrong with the GBA games' controls (and considering they've had around 20 years to refine the games, that ought to be no surprise), but the touch screen suits it perfectly.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm back

So, what gaming went on during the honeymoon?

Er, what videogaming went on during the honeymoon? Not too much, as expected. I played about 15 hours of Pokémon Sapphire, which is great but pretty similar to Yellow/LeafGreen; I taught Sammi loads of tricks and got her up to the Master level for obedience trials and agility tests; and I bought Meteos and played that loads, because it's great fun.

For once I may have to wear my headphones on the train. Normally I just turn the music down, but Meteos's music is great and really adds to the game.

Not that I'll be playing Meteos any more. For I have just bought Advance Wars: Dual Strike. My life is about to disappear again, I fear.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Gaming Forecast: Bleak

Since I am going to be leaving to get married, then go on honeymoon. I will only have my DS to keep me company, along with Pokémon Sapphire (which I just got free from Nintendo), Nintendogs, Bomberman and Fire Emblem. I doubt I'll be playing them much, though, apart from during train journeys.

I'll report back.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Games on a BIG SCREEN

Last night was GAMES NIGHT 05 PART VIII. I think it was Part VIII anyway. I've lost count. Anyway, we travelled to John's and took along Matt as Player Four. We also took along Matt's projector.

What fun we had, playing Halo 2 split screen on the wall. And many other games as well, including Donkey Konga 2 and Ace Golf.

I was almost convinced to buy a projector, until I remembered that I'm getting married next week and therefore have no money. And I'd prefer a big LCD TV anyway, I think. But the projector was so great. Strange internal wrestling match going on here.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nintendogs: Sammi and Angel

They fight all the time. Sammi seems to be really well behaved most of the time, but if she ever mets Angel while on a walk she'll be attacking her like a mad thing. Stupid dog.

Angel, that is. Not Sammi. She's great, since she came first in a disc competition without much practicing at all, and she can now do backflips.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Top Spin

Weak, I know, but I've given up on little monsters for a bit. Too frustrating.

Instead, Kieron's been persuading me to play Top Spin a little more. I got it ages and ages ago (when Woolies was doing it for £13 instead of the then-RRP of £40) and thought it was OK, but not as good as Virtua Tennis.

I know think it's pretty good, but not as good as Virtua Tennis. There's quite a lot of control given to you over where the ball should go, and how you hit it, but often it's just a case of getting to where the ball's going to be and pressing A, because the computer's hit a blinder of a shot even though by rights, due to the smash you sent over to them they should have been hitting it backwards over their head while holding the raquet with their left foot.

But it's not bad at all, and I'll be playing some games online in the near future. Bet I lose.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen: just ... one ... more ... attack

But oh no. The third of the Elite Four is so nearly crushed, on their last pokémon, with a red energy bar. I launch an attack ... but it misses. And then I watch as every pokémon I wheel out gets killed in one hit without a chance to attack.

The game cartridge is currently stuck under my sofa.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen: over a ton

Over a hundred pokémon collected now, and Raichu is levelled up a fair bit, and I can get up to the third of the Elite Four with ease. And then all my pokémon get wiped out in a row. Even ones which shouldn't. Gah.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In Memoriam

I don't have that much money left in Pokémon LeafGreen, but I do now have 98 pokémon. Still haven't beaten the Elite Four, but I've not actually tried - I've been travelling around trying to level up my Raichu, and wondering where I can get another moonstone from to evolve Clefairy.

A game that I've got back into is In Memoriam, on the PC. The main reason for my reinterest was that I put together an entry for it on GamerWiki, and in doing so I remembered how interesting the story was. I'm quite a way through the disc now, I think, but my brain started hurting with the moving circles, so I've stopped again.

Erm, that's it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen: boss boss boss boss

Don't you hate it when videogames roll out that old tired cliche of numerous boss battles one after the other which you must complete all of before being able to progress anywhere? A bit like that sentence, it just runs on and on and on.

And I've met the Elite Four in Pokémon LeafGreen, who are exactly this: four bosses you must complete all at once, although you can use potions and revives and so on after defeating each one. No going back to the pokémon centre to get healed for free, though - oh no. Basically, you have to spend your way through the bosses. Rather pointless.

Luckily I've got lots of money.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen: Zapdos, er, zapped and dossed

On the tube home, I got some quite odd looks when I finally caught Zapdos and couldn't really contain my excitement.

It's only a game, Tim.

Pokémon LeafGreen: back to Kanto

I think it's called Kanto, anyway. No doubt I'll have enraged thousands of Pokémon fans with my inadequate knowledge, but never mind.

As I said before, I'd played Pokémon Yellow a fair bit when it was released, but I only got up to just after the Safari Zone, I think. I'm further than that in LeafGreen now, which pleases me. And the game's actually gripped me properly, in that I'm playing it in preference to everything else at the moment. I'm up to 71 pokémon owned, which is depressingly not even half way - but I don't think you can get all 150 with just LeafGreen anyway. I must convince either John or Kieron to get FireRed.

I've just been to the Seafoam Islands and managed to catch the Articuno after restarting around ten times. The artwork for that bird when it's on my team is crap. And it's rather limited in terms of attacks. But it's mighty, and I've put it on my list of six to carry around everwhere.

I've beaten the fire trainer at Cinnibar gym - hardly difficult, given that my Charizard is now level 45, I've got a level 44 Dugtrio, and Nidorina and Lapras and Articuno - and have gone north to find Pallet Town again. I've never seen a charmeleon in the wild.

Someone said something about a firey or an electrical bird somewhere, but I've not found it. I've forgotton what the hint was now as well. But there's a power station which I've never been able to get to, so I'll have to have an explore around there, since that's the obvious place for anything electrical to be. Including maybe a Pikachu, which I've not found otherwise.

I've got further in this game than I did in Yellow, and am off soon to try and find the eighth badge. I've not seen my rival David for a while, so I have a horrible feeling he's going to turn up shortly and fight me. I didn't catch much in the safari zone, so I might go back there at some point soon to see what else is around.

But for now, it's nice to see my mum again. Except because it's a US English translation, she's called "mom". Stupid.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Astro Boy: Omega Factor

Generally, I like to play games through on their 'normal' setting first, since I think that's the way they've been designed to be played. But I think in Astro Boy's case, "normal" means "we're having a laugh". It's hard. I'm only up to the third level, and have had to try each boss section around five times at least in order to beat it. The in-between-boss sections are a bit easier, but they're still frantic.

But that's good. The limited number of buttons on the GBA means that the controls are simplistic, and as a result you can concentrate on the game's fun rather than wresting with what you're doing. You don't feel the game is unfair, as such; you just feel that it's too hard.

But it's hard in a good way, and it makes you want to play more. The only problem is that it's not really suited to playing on the move - especially with the way the buses and tubes jolt around all over the place - so it's a play-at-home kind of game. On the GBA.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Goldeneye: Lipstick and Blusher Agent

I was playing with a couple of friends on Xbox Live last night (one of whom is responsible for the play-on-the-word-rouge in the title). We played Halo 2, and Project Gotham Racing 2, and Rainbow Six 3 - in the last, we even managed to complete a level, which was quite amazing for us, given Kieron's propensity to get lost and my propensity to die. Then we decided to go and try Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, which we all have due to the genius that was the senitel weapon in Nightfire. There's no senitel weapon in Rouge Argent.

Anyway, we went online, and found that we were the only people in the world playing the game. Three of us. Never mind; we're quite happy to blow each other up, shoot each other, and try and activate a pit as the others walk over it.

But we couldn't. Unless there's some hidden option which we've entirely missed, it seems that each map has a fixed number of people that are needed to play on it. Unless there are that many people, the game won't start, and while you can go around and kill others and pick up weapons and so on, it won't keep score.

There are three maps on which you can play with two players. For the rest, you need at least four. There is no map you can play with just three players. None of us has ever seen anyone else playing the game online. As a result, 90% of the game's online content is utterly useless and will never be played by anyone.

It's a shame, as some of the arenas look quite interesting. There's certainly been some care put into the way they were designed, and there's a fair few good ideas floating around. If I were one of the level designers, I'd be feeling amazingly downheartened knowing that due to iditoic decisions made by the game design team, my maps could never actually be properly used.

Good job, EA.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Solitaire?

I've had very little patience for games recently, which is odd. I put on Ocarina of Time, walked around a bit, and turned it off because I couldn't be bothered to get back into it. I put Pikmin 2 into the GC, turned it on, watched the intro, and realised I wanted to put more than just half an hour into it on my first play since it's such a charming game. I managed one more checkpoint in Halo before turning it off.

About the only game I've played to any great extent is Bomberman DS, and that's because the games don't last too long.

It's probably because it's hot. This has two effects: firstly, it makes everyone irritable; and secondly, it means you want to go outside more. And the sun refelcts off of the DS's screens to make seeing whatever you're playing next to impossible.

Three gold crowns in WarioWare Touched, though.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bomberman DS

Thank God for idiot Dixons staff who don't understand the concept of release dates.

It's really good. And I've only been able to play the single player so far, which is normally crap on Bomberman games, so for me to think it's great already must be saying something. The single player game is a basic SNES/Mega Drive type game, where you have to go through the level killing the enemies and clearing the blocks until you find the exit. It looks quite pretty, but the graphics are a bit simplified (which at least means that they're clear on the screen).The clever bit is that when you pick up a powerup, it isn't automatically added to your character's abilities. Instead, they're stored on the bottom screen, and to activate them you have to touch them. When you die, you lose the powerups you've activated, but not those that you've stored. So you can come back with three bombs and longer fire each time, as long as you've not been using them all before.

Of course, you control normally using the D-pad and the buttons, so you'll end up with thumb prints all over the bottom screen since it's not really possible to use the thumb strap. The buttons are nice and large so you can easily select what you want; the most common powerups are all grouped together so you won't have to concentrate too much on finding what you want.

I'm up to the second location now after about an hour's play, because I'm crap. I've faced one boss, whose level took up both screens (which got quite tricky), and am currently hating those ghost things that float over the blocks.

Hopefully I'll be able to play some multiplayer soon. Up to 8 players, off a single card. Yum.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Singles: Flirt Up Your Life!

Take The Sims. Give it a bit of a graphical polish. Add a proper storyline. Add naughty bits. Remove half the game's options and gameplay. Add a ropey control interfact, stuttery animation, and continual crashes. Retitle the game to "Singles: Flirt Up Your Life".

I'm glad I only spent £2 on this in the sale.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

World Championship Poker DS

Or "Annoying Animations and Random Decisions Poker". Luckily, the animations can be turned off. The poor AI can't. The computer seems to realise that it's playing for pretend money, and as a result doesn't really try too hard. It certainly doesn't learn from my decisions. It often makes no attempt to increase the betting amount when it's got an unbeatable hand, even by a small amount.

It's also really poor graphically - the cards look like they've been imported from a Game Boy Colour version, and the 3D models of the players are as ropey as a tall ship.

Yet it's still fun. There's a wealth of different types of poker game to play, and it can get very tense when you're betting loads on a relatively small hand. It's quite revealing, however, that the best bits about this game are actually the bits to do with real-life poker.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Buying games I'll never play

There have been some good sales on recently - HMV, Virgin, even Game, and as a result I've bought quite a few new games.

And I know I'll not play half of them. Ever. Some were just £2, so it was a "couldn't say no" decision, but what's the point if I'm not going to even open the box? Rogue Ops, Armed and Dangerous, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ... why did I buy them?

One day soon, I will try every game that I've bought but never played. Better make that a weekend. Maybe there will be some undiscovered gems. I doubt it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Rainbow Six 3

In most games, I enjoy being stealthy, hiding from enemies, attacking them when they least expect it. So I should enjoy RS3. And I do, sort of.

But this game is massively hard. Some of the missions rely on you not being spotted, which would be all very well if it weren't for the perfect eyesight the enemy appears to have. You can ease a door open very slowly, to see if there's anyone on the other side - but by the time you've opened it enough to see through, the enemy's seen you. So instead it becomes a case of trial and error, trying every door and then restarting if you're unlucky. Not masses of fun.

It's much better on Xbox Live, but not because the game changes significantly; instead, you can talk to your teammates as you go through the level for the fifteenth time.

I'm sure it'll grow on me, if I play it enough. I'm not sure if I will though.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Yoshi: Touch 'n' Go

As I previously said, Sprung's taken a back seat to Yoshi. This is a marvellous game, if a little misunderstood. Using the graphical style of Yoshi's Island (on the SNES), people were expecting this to be a progressional platformer, where you had to clear each stage to get to the next. It's not - well, with the exception of Marathon mode. It's really an arcade game, where you have to get the highest score possible.

The game's split into two sections:
  • Baby Mario falls from the sky, and you must draw clouds to guide him to coins and stars, and to trap enemies so they cannot hurt him.
  • Yoshi walks from left to right (or right to left, if you're left-handed) constantly, and you must draw clouds to ensure he doesn't fall off the bottom of the screen, get hit by enemies, or die in any other way. You can throw eggs at enemies, or to pick up coins.
It's all controlled using the touch screen, and works superbly. I've managed to get over 3000m on the Marathon mode, and over 300 points on Score Attack, which means I've opened up a further two modes. Both of which are very hard indeed.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Quick update

Other games which are ongoing:

Zelda: Oracle of Ages
I can't find Jabu Jabu. Stupid monster thing.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I'm now a grown-up, going through the forest dungeon bit by bit. I've come across four fire-stealing ghosts and am trying to track them down.

Halo
I can't remember where I am - I got through the library, at least. I must play this again soon before I forget that it's quite good.

Sprung
Some way through Becky's story, but I've been distracted from it by Yoshi's Touch 'n' Go, which I bought on Friday.

Goldeneye: Rogue Agent
I've given up on the entirely unfair and poorly-structured single-player. I played John over Xbox Live on Friday, and it was OK - apart from the fact that we were the only two people on it, and every time a game ended we were dumped apart and had to try and find each other again - no game lobbies or so on.

In Memoriam
The problem is that I sit at the computer, go to play In Memoriam, and instead end up playing on the Internet for two hours instead.

Populous: the Beginning
Still trying to get past all three of the worlds that make up the ninth level. They're not easy.

Well, there you go. There's lots of other games that I'm part-way through, but I don't want to guilt-trip myself too much.

Project Gotham Racing 2: silver arcade completed!

Yes, that time is correct. I've just completed the Kudos World Series at silver level, which I've been trying to do for the past year and a half. This evening I just burned through the last eight challenges with very little hassle at all, after not playing the game for about six months. I've unlocked three new flashy cars, and feel good about myself. No way that I'll ever manage to get all golds, and there are two other modes - arcade and time trial - which I doubt I'll ever progress much on.

But at least I feel like I could play PGR3, when it's released.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sprungo away

So much for it being short - it's instead pretty painful. So far there've been quite a few memory tests which got very dull indeed, and even more absolutely random responses which appeared wrong but were in fact the right path to take. I've now finished one half of the story, and have started on Becky's side. I'm guessing that there were no attractive females on the programming or story team, since nobody seems to know exactly how men react to an attractive girl asking them questions. Some of the replies are utterly implausable, and it's therefore even more difficult to choose the correct response. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sprung

It's a "dating game". In fact, it's a "choose the correct response from this limited list and we'll let you progress" game. It's dull and poorly thought out and overly random. The thing is, though, you get the idea it's going to be quite short, so it's worth just trying each choice until you get the right one in the knowledge it's one step closer to the end of the game. I want to complete it, even if it is really quite crap.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of ... no, Oracle of Time. Ages. Something

I'm not half getting confused between the two. I wanted to use the boomerang in Ocarina of Time last night, and then realised I haven't got one. And the switch shot would be a lifesaver in a lot of places. Equally, in Oracle of Ages, I keep thinking that I need to use my catapualt, and then realise that I've only got a seed shooter, which isn't quite the same.

It's made worse by the fact that last night, in Ocarina of Time, I was battling through Jabu Jabu's stomach for a while. With a very annoying whiny girl who won't even walk anywhere, so you have to carry her. Idiot. And then on the tube this morning, in Oracle of Ages, I managed to find the kindom of the Zoras and was sent on a trip ... into Jabu Jabu's stomach. Great.

However, Ocarina of Time is growing on me now. Trying to find the Zoras' place was frustrating, as the only thing you know about them is that they're a water-loving people, so I went and searched around the massive lake that appeared on the map screen. And they weren't there. But anyway. At least there seems to be some purpose now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

Driven by my relative lack of success with Ocarina of Time, I've picked up Oracle of Ages again to try and finish that. My last save was just after I got the fifth Essence thingy, so after wandering around aimlessly for a bit I found new places to go and the sixth dungeon. And it was pretty easy - no lives lost at all, and it only took me two tube journeys.

And then when I got outside I was easily able to pick up the story again - there's this fairy type person called Nayru who's a goodie but is currently a baddie because the evil spirit witch thing has possessed her body. And so she's currently being held in the castle of Queen Ambi, who doesn't let Link into the building on account of his female rescuing tendancies. But when you come out of the fifth level, Ambi's gone for a walkabout and you can try and sneak in. Even though there are still guards around.

I like this game.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I never played Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the N64, but I now have two copies of it for the Gamecube - one which came with my copy of The Wind Waker, and one on the Collector's Edition. The only Zelda game I'd played before I got my Gamecube was Link's Awakening on the Game Boy, and I hadn't finished that at that point.

So, I played The Wind Waker, and was absolutely amazed. It's a great game, with a gripping story and superb gameplay. I loved it. I played it through to completion, beating both John and Kieron to the end. In fact, Kieron's still not finished it. He should be ashamed.

After that, I managed to finish Link's Awakening despite having left it alone for over two years. Two down.

And I started Ocarina of Time. Everyone has always said that it's a better game than the Wind Waker, and still overshadows anything since. And I have to say, I think that's a load of rubbish.

As I said, I started Ocarina of Time after completing Link's Awakening, around a year and a bit ago. I've just got around to carrying on with it, because I was rather underwhelmed with it. It doesn't have the elegance of The Wind Waker, or the pacing, or the drive to it. There's nothing that's compelling me to carry on, other than the promise from so many people that it's a great game.

Maybe I'm not being fair - I'm not that far through the game (I'm up on Death Mountain, in the cavern, trying to find something nasty). I'm going to put another hour into it now. But I'm still more compelled to play Oracle of Ages, since with that I can see what I'm ultimately trying to do.

In other news, Lego Star Wars is still great.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pokémon LeafGreen

No idea why I bought this over the Ruby or Sapphire versions. I used to have Pokémon Yellow, and of course this is basically the same game but with some different pokémon to collect and starting with a different one. But anyway. I only ever play this a little bit at a time, which doesn't help with remembering which pokémon types beat other types. Or what I'm meant to be doing. Or where I'm meant to be going.

But I can't play it for massive long periods, because I find it gets rather repetitive. And I don't have the time. Which is a shame, since it is a great game, and one day I hope to have caught them all.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lego Star Wars Episode II: attack of the 2x2 stud pieces

I've had to stop playing this for now, because I've got to the end of Episode 2 and, while I do know the rough story of what's going to happen by the end of the third film, I want to keep some suspense. I mean, I'm expecting dodgy acting, dire scripts and dubious special effects, so I've got to have something to look forward to.

I've been trying to convince my girlfriend to play this in two-player mode, but she doesn't seem keen. She'd never seen Star Wars before meeting me, admittedly, so she misses out on the childhood memories. Maybe I ought to get her Barbie Horse Adventures.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Lego Star Wars

(or Star Wars Lego)

It's rare that a game makes me laugh out loud, but this has, several times today. It's just so charming and amusing. Yes, it's a kid's game. So what? It's fun. And I'm not even a massive Star Wars fan.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Timesplitters: Future Perfect: completed!

Completed, that is, in a limited way. I've completed the story mode (on normal difficulty level), but have made very little progress on the challenge mode. And medals in arcade mode are very rare.

This game is superb. The story mode is uttely compelling, well structured, and very funny. The game has more humour in it than any other I've played, not just in its characterisation, not just in its set-pieces, but in its whole self-parodying nature and its throwaway gags.

Just as an example, last night I was making my way through a massive underground town (one that reminded me very much of the dreamt-about Whole New World from War of the Worlds) and found myself being shot at from an upper balcony. Next to this shooter was an oil drum, which I shot with my sniper rifle. The soldier was thrown over the balcony, and fell screaming "Aaaargh!". I'd turned away slighty, when I heard an "Owwwwww!". Scanning back, I was that he'd landed on the raining of a lower balcony, legs either side, with a grimace on his face. I actually died shortly after, because someone else shot me while I was laughing.

It's very difficult to convey humour in a video game. Unless you go for incredibly obvious cutscenes or set dialogue, the comedy that can be conveyed is limited. But Timesplitters: FP manages to be funny in a subtle way, through background animations, overemphasised locations and slightly ludicrous characterisation. It's all believable, but unlikely.

The story itself is pretty clever. It sees you frequently going back in time to help yourself out; sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. There's a rather good twist near the end too, which I won't spoil. I'll just say that it made me want to restart the game immediately. On 'hard', naturally.

Thoroughly recommended.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

James Bond games are a varied bunch

Goldeneye on the N64 was great. Amazingly great.

My friend got 007 Nightfire on the Gamecube, and the multiplayer of that was also great. I bought it on the Xbox when I saw it for a fiver. I played through the single player mode for a bit, but it was dull. Insipid and uninspired. I gave up when I got to a section where I had to manouvre my car underwater, made frustrating by the appalling controls rather than any game difficulty.

I was recently given Goldeneye: Rogue Agent on the Xbox. Again, the multiplayer is superb, more so given that it's playable online. There's nothing really special about the multiplayer - there's certainly nothing unique to this game, other than maybe the Mag Rail gun which shoots through walls, and the golden gun which massively unbalances the agme in favour of the holder. Some of the multiplayer maps are well designed, and they include interactions (such as collapsing floors, missile launches, and gas chambers). Some are badly designed. But they're fun to play and explore, and I've played it lots for this reason.

The single player isn't that good. It's well presented, with good graphical effects, and great music (from Paul Oakenfold), but it's very much an on-rails game. You'll frequently come to an area with a few doors. they all look the same, but only one will open. You'll be given a new ability (like the ability to see through walls, or the ability to hack opponant's weapons so they malfunction) from time to time, which you'll have to use in the next level but probably never again after that. The game was obviously designed to be played on a PS2 joypad, because it compensates for the large dead zone on the Dual Shock, making control on the Xbox joypad very jumpy indeed (and I'd hate to see how it worked on the Gamecube joypad).

But all that said, it's not that bad either - around 256% better than that of Nightfire. It's certainly very playable if you want a no-thought blaster, and it's interesting to see how EA are really keen to get as many old Bond characters in there as possible. It's also amusing to see how unsexy they can make an Honor Blackman character look. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent definitely has a place in my games collection.

You can tell it's not a labour of love like the original Goldeneye was, however. It's just a bit lazy. That's not the worst crime in the world (the worst crime is not offering customisable controls. I'm looking at you, Doom 3 Collectors Edition), but it does make for a bit of a dull experience. I wonder if I'll ever complete it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Doom 3 and 2 and 1

Doom 3 is a scary game. I've not played much of it yet, but that's because I'm a wimp and I get put off when I'm stuck in a dark place with something killing me from the darkness.

I bought the Collectors Edition because it includes versions of Doom and Doom 2, playable in split-screen co-op modes. This will be ideal for when John and Kieron come around. Or at least it would.

The first first person shooter I played on consoles was Doom, on the 32X. It was great. The first fully-3D FPS I played on consoles was Goldeneye. For this I used the control scheme of champions: looking on the analogue stick (giving extra precision) with movement on the C buttons. This then allowed use of the A and B buttons to switch weapons and open doors.

So, look/turn on the left hand side and move/sidestep on the right. Fine.

I got used to this. So much so, that if a game makes me use the other way around, I can't. I got about two levels through XIII before giving up.

Luckily, Doom 3 does allow me to configure the controls to suit me. It took a bit of a struggle to get them set up right, admittedly, but now they're fine.

But Doom 1 and 2 don't. I can't even find a way to put the controls to a classic Doom method of move and turn on a single (left) stick. If I can't be bothered to adjust my controlling method for a full game, I'm certainly not going to change it for a throwaway bonus. Cheers, id. You idiots.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Zoo Keeper: pure genius

No, that's not its subtitle, but it should be.

This is the reason I said that Mr Driller: DS was possibly the best game available. It's because this actually is.

It's a simple concept. Switch tiles to make a line of three, and these will disappear. Make chain reactions. Get rid of a certain number of each tile and move up a level. Score lots.

It's so good that I'm not wasting any more time writing this. It's only £20 in Asda. Find out for yourself.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mr Driller: Drill Spirits

Normally, there is a single game which will get stuck in a console for a long period, since it overrules any other available. Not the DS, however.

I've got 144 stars on Mario 64DS, but now I can't find which ones I'm missing. This game was stuck in the DS for ages because it was the best one I owned. I doubt it'll make its way back in now, for two reasons.

I was expecting Wario Ware: Touched to be a reason. It's not. I'm not saying it's a bad game; anything but. In fact, it's superb. It's just a bit short, and the woeful decision to group games according to how you play them means that there are very few modes with true replayability. One mode, for example, just has you blowing into the microphone all the time. What's the point?

Polarium, as you may have guessed, is also not a reason. In fact, I've only played it once since my last entry below.

The two reasons are Mr Driller: Drill Spirits and Zoo Keeper. I'll talk about the latter at some point soon, since I'm not sure how to express how good it is. Mr Driller: Drill Spirits is easy to talk about.

Firstly, Mr Driller: DS is better than Mr Driller. It's better than Mr Driller: Drill Land. It's on a par with Mr Driller 2. In fact, if it included "average" stats in the same way as Mr Driller 2, it would be better. That's high praise indeed.

Mr Driller: DS has been criticised by a number of people for not using the full capabilities of the DS. It's very difficult to control with the stylus. But it's really not a stylus game. It doesn't really use the two screens. It does, in that the top screen shows you the blocks above you which you should avoid, but in the heat of the game you really can't look at it.

This misses the point though. Not every DS game needs to use everything the DS has to offer. Some games work best just as a traditional game. And Mr Driller: DS is an excellent example of this. It's compelling, addictive, and pure fun. It induces excitement and tension, and rewards risk-taking and quick thinking. It's a very simple concept made infinitely complex.

The additional modes this includes over standard Mr Driller make it massively superior. The Dristone mode makes it feel like a completely different game - you're not racing against time, but instead trying to drill as few times as possible. Dristone mode is analagous to Polarium's challenge mode, but while the latter introduces a lot of new play concepts (only being allowed to use one stylus movement, free move areas on all four sides, needing to clear the whole screen at once) Dristone only changes the time requirement and adds collectable crystals to expand on the strategy. It's a much more successful conversion, in all.

The time attack levels aren't as good as those in Mr Driller 2, but they're built on the same idea - one ideal route to be followed and a different theme to each one.

And the pressure mode is superb. you must race downwards collecting both air and power capsules; collecting up to three power capsules allows you to fire upwards at the big robot drill (on the top screen) which is chasing you downwards. It's Mr Driller, but with added stress. Or, indeed, pressure.

Add all this to a normal Mr Driller mode (with characters which actually act in different ways) and you have possibly the best game yet available. Get it. Now.

Polarium

A lot of people like Polarium. It's not really clicked with me yet.

You're presented with a screen of black and white tiles. You must make each horizontal line a single colour, and it disappears. This bit works well. You turn a tile over by drawing over it with the stylus. This bit also works well.

There are two modes. The "main" mode (challenge) has new lines of blocks dropping from the top of the screen, and you must get rid of lines before the pile stacks up too high. To start with, the game gives you set pieces which are easy to get rid of. But aftera little while, it starts dropping random lines which really require you to just make single blocks turn over, getting rid of one line at a time. It just becomes no fun.

The puzzle mode is better. There's no tension here, since there's no time limit. You're presented with a single screen and must work out how to make all lines disappear at once using a single stylus movement. I like this mode; but I've got to the 46th puzzle and I just can't work it out. So it's now just frustrating.

I hope the challenge mode is one which will just click soon. Otherwise I'm a bit disappointed.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Busy, busy, busy

I did mean to warn you that my posting here won't be very regular or reliable. I'm a consultant, you see, which means that my busyness (and business) at work swings up and down like a particularly active yo-yo. When I'm busy, I have very little time to play games, let alone write about them.

But today's my birthday, so I'm not going to do any work. Instead, I've just been given Polarium and Mr Driller: Drill Spirits for my DS. I do already have the latter, but that's the Japanese version which means I'm missing out on the amazingly relevent story and also having difficulty with the Dristone mode. So I'm really pleased to have got the UK version. Especially since it's got one-cart multiplayer.

Also, I've bought a lot of cheapie games recently from the HMV sale. They are all crap. But they were cheap, which is they key thing, since Game is currently running a promotion where you can take in 4 old games and pay 99p for a new game. The games from the HMV sale cost me from £1.99 to £3.99 each. So four games at the most is £16, which equates to a new one for £17. Even play.com can't beat that.

Four of the games I've got are reserved for the release next Friday of Timesplitters: Future Perfect. Timesplitters 2 has a lot of detractors, but I've always found it to be rather fun; especially in multiplayer mode. TS:FP has online play. It may even usurp Halo 2 from its position as my favourite Live game.

I'm slightly worried that my expectations are too high.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Grand Theft Auto Advance

This game is ... well, interesting. It started off being a bit pants, really - difficult to control, difficult to understand - but after the initial confusion and struggling it became really great. Use of the powerslide became intuitive, in particular. However, there are still some severe control issue with the game - it's virtually impossible to shoot anyone with anything other than a shotgun due to the accuracy needed, which you don't get with an 8-way directional system.

Anyway, I've worked my way through the game, and I'm on the final island. Probably on close to the final mission, as well. And I've got to drive all around the island and take out about 15 hitmen before they start a war against me. So, you've got to do it in a time limit, and I'm sure it's impossible.

Firstly, you can't simply run these people over - they'll survive a couple of times, so it takes ages to kill them that way. So the quickest way is to stop next to them, get out of the car, and use the shotgun. Which I do. I had a perfect run along what I think is the optimum course, and yet I still ran out of time before I reached the last man.

It's very, very frustrating.

By the way, if you're thinking that my prose above isn't quite as lucid as it normally is, that's probably because I'm still drunk from last night.

Ow, my head

When hosting, you have no disincentive to drink lots.

But I am the best at Donkey Konga. Oh yes.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Having friends over

Tonight I'm hosting. John and Kieron are coming over to play lots of games and eat pizza. We will, no doubt play Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. And Zelda: Four Swords. And Pac-Man Vs.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Halo: the Library

Next time I'm suffering from insomnia, remind me to go and play the Library on Halo.

This is where I'd got up to, and therefore this is where I started last night. Oddly, none of my friends (as in, none of my friends list) were online at all, which was a shame as I really wanted to play Outrun 2 online. I've played it offline rather a lot recently. So I put on Halo instead, given that my hands were too sore and I wasn't feeling energetic enough to play DK: Jungle Beat.

The Library is just a big, long repetitive level, which is seeming to go on forever. You go up the corridor, lots of Flood enemies come out, you backtrack while killing them. You go forward to the same place and more flood appear. And again. And again. Eventually you get to a room where the door's locked, and you have to wait there while this blue flying monitor thing unlocks the door. And unsurprisingly, more Flood appear. And more. And then you go up the corridor ...

I'd gone up two floors by the time I switched off, and had got to another security room. The trick with this one was that not only was the door in front locked, but the one behind also closed. I was so surprised by this variation that I promptly died.

Halo was great until this point, but I can forsee this going on for another fifteen floors, all exactly the same, just to lengthen the game. And I can't see the point in that - I'd actually prefer to have a game that was quicker to finish which I'd then want to play again. If I ever finish Halo, I'll be put off from restarting because I'll know to complete the game, you've got to get through the Library. Which is just getting rather dull.

Actually, it's made worse by the lack of tactics needed. With the Covenant, you had to think hard about your actions - could you kill a few of them from long distance without others noticing? Could you force them to attack you in a certain way? The Covenant AI was great, and meant you had to strategise constantly. The flood just run towards you to attack. You can't really plan how to take them on, you have to just go and shoot as many as you can as quickly as you can.

Oh, and try not to run out of ammo.

In other news, Mario 64 DS is still great, and I have 75 stars, with only a few minigames left locked. And the library in Boo's house is tiny.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat

Game have an offer on at the moment, of any chart game for £29.99. This makes Game as cheap as, if not cheaper than, online retailers. It's not good news for small independent shops - Game have managed to secure lower wholesale rates due to the volume of stock they purchase, and as a result are able to decrease prices and still make a profit, while their competitors make a loss.

Anyway. I took advantage of this offer to buy Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat. It's a game that's controlled with bongos - indeed - and is utterly fabulous. It does, however, have a disadvantage. You can only buy the game packaged with bongos, and I've already got two sets of drums. I bought Donkey Konga when it came out, see, and bought a second set of drums then so my girlfriend could join in.

Nintendo UK, in its infinite wisdom, aren't letting you buy the game seperately for, say, £20. Instead, you must buy the game plus bongos for £40 (or, as I did, £30), and then sell the bongos on. This means that the market is flooded with cheap "second-hand" (but as new) bongos, and nobody's going to pay full price for a second set for Donkey Konga any more. Nintendo has, in effect, lost themselves some money, since they could have sold the game for £20, additional bongos for £25 (as they are actually priced), and not destroyed the market for the latter.

But, in any case, Jungle Beat is an excellent game, thoroughly recommended.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Americanisation

"Why do you think that honeydew is the money melon?"

What? If you're American, let me just point out to you that that question makes absolutely no sense to anyone else in the world.

And yet it's what Blogger just asked me.

Do I look American? Do I miss the "u" out of colour, labour and humour?

(Note: this is why American jokes aren't funny. When you are talking to them, you can easily tell them that, for them, there's no "u" in humour.)

Bah. They should be asking me which type of tea I like best.

Sausage sandwiches and Metroid Prime

Is there a more perfect foodstuff than sausage sandwiches? They're also about the only thing that I make better than my mum used to. She always cut a sausage into four thin strips, whereas I use two sausages per sandwich, cutting them only in half. Lightly toasted bread, tomato sauce, a bit of butter ... oh, and orange juice on the side.

Anyway, I've been gaming this weekend. It started on Friday night, when I was playing Halo 2 online. I finally beat someone at head to Head. Well, I almost did. The score was up to 7-1 to me, and the other person quit. I will hate him forever.

Then yesterday (Saturday), I played Metroid Prime. Not the sequel, the original. I did play it for a while when I first got it, up to about 9% of the way in. Then I got to this big plant boss thing which I just couldn't defeat. I tried loads of times and then gave up.

But yesterday I killed him first time.

Interesting how I think he's a him. I suppose I wouldn't expect a female to wear a skull as part of facial decoration. And no lipstick.

Anyway, so overawed was I by this that I ended up playing for another two hours non-stop. You know something's good when you do that.

Also yesterday, I played Outrun 2. I find the mission mode rather hard, but I do enjoy the arcade game. I took the right turns all the way and beat my best time. So that was pleasing. The desert stage, as you go over the hill, is still awe-inspiring. It's just a shame that you're going past it so fast.

Then today, I've been playing Halo. I met the Flood for the first time, and rather enjoyed the way you can set chain reactions off. I'm now in the library, which I've been told is a long monotonous level. Oh joy.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I've been meaning to do this for a while

But it takes a very late hour and me being very bored for me to do it.

Whether I ever write in here again remains to be seen. I'm meant to be rather busy at the moment ...