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


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.