Friday, September 30, 2011

Tiny Tower: relaxation

Now that I've admitted I'm never going to catch up with John and Kieron, the game is much more fun, and even relaxing, watching my bitizens going about their business.  The food floors run out of stock far too quickly, while the Apple Shop never seems to sell out of anything, but in general the tower runs well with me visiting once a day to top up stock levels.  I've spent a lot (of virtual money) upgrading floors to hold more stock.

The downside to having a large tower is that you're pretty reliant on paying for people to move into new residential floors, or an estate agent coming by to move them in.  My policy of evicting anyone without a '9' capability means this gets expensive quickly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rockstar Table Tennis: Jesper

I played Rockstar Table Tennis a while ago, and won a couple of exhibition matches, but it got abandoned at the bottom of the games pile - which is a shame, since it's a well-executed game and works really well.  In my current convalescing state, I dug it out and tried a tournament.

The first two matches were great; after I got back to the controls, I won them with a few points to spare.  Then I came across Jesper.

Jesper hits the ball hard, seems to have a really long reach, and can accurately return almost anything you hit at him.  And he was in the semi-finals.  I lost three matches to Jesper, and luckily you can opt to replay a match if you lose it otherwise I'd have given up.  Time after time I'd just lose to his powerful shots.

In the end, I worked out that if you hit the ball with right-spin to the right side of the table, forcing Jesper to hit a backhand shot, then it'll be weaker, and he'll not have as much control. The only way I could beat him was by hitting right-spin after right-spin until he was far enough to the right, and then hitting a left-spin to the left.  And even that didn't work.

I finally beat Jesper, and got through to the final, which I won on my first attempt.  The problem is that I now know I'd have to face Jesper if I play another tournament, and I'm not sure I can be bothered.  The fact that I had to resort to cheap repetitive tactics to beat him rather turns me off of the game.  That's a bit of a shame.

Burnout Revenge: continuously elite

Back in January 2009, I said that I aimed to get at least a medal on every event for Burnout Revenge.  Since then, I've not played the game.

Destruction Derby 2 left me with a desire for more car wrecking, so I tried some of this.  It's still great, although coming back at such a high level is rather difficult.  I was greeted with a flurry of unlocked cars, which I presume have been unlocked online over time, though I can't see where I can choose those cars.  Having said that, I didn't really deviate from the Elite Racer and EA Racer at the top of my list.

I've now completed the level 8 events, albeit with a couple of bronze medals along the way.  I managed gold on the final grand prix by the skin of my teeth, after coming fourth on the first race.  I've also redone a couple of the lower stages in order to get an achievement for a perfect level 2.  Level 9 races are relatively difficult, but persistence should pay off.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Destruction Derby 2: watching the paintwork

I have no recollection of playing this before; my brother had the original game, and the main thing I remember from that was limping around huge arenas in reverse, hoping to hit the one remaining opponent before they hit me. I'd blocked out the racing part, and the points systems, and everything else.  Wikipedia reliably informs me that the original game had all of those.

So the sequel seems to add very little to the overall formula.  I don't recall being able to roll a car onto its roof before, and the tracks in the second game seem much larger and more three-dimensional.  There's also a pit stop, which means there's a little added strategy to the race events.

It's not aged amazingly well.  There's no real weight behind collisions, and it's difficult to control your car to hit others in the right place.  Collisions see cars emit huge triangles of debris, but these don't seem to do anything to a car that hits them.  The driving model itself is very slippy, reminiscent of Sega Rally at times - or even the original Ridge Racer.  Compare Ridge Racer Revolution on the PlayStation to Ridge Racer 3D, and you can see how controls have tightened up in the fifteen years since this game was released.  All too often I'd be involved in an accident, or slide off the track, and think it wasn't my fault.  This could really do with an update, along the lines of a Burnout game - certainly something to make the graphics clearer.  Despite what Gamespot say, it's nowhere near photorealistic.

Despite that, I had fun.  In the main game series, coming first in the race means nothing if you don't hit other cars along the way.  I've progressed into league 3 (from the bottom of league 4), and have been getting better over time.  I may start using a faster car.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

1000 Heroz: breaking the run

Annoyingly, I couldn't come first on the UGVM leaderboard today, meaning that I've managed a run of only six top spots.  Only six.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Starfox 64 3D: all-range mode

Luckily, I'm able to play this on the tube fine, so it must have been a combination of dodgy taxi driver and lack of sleep that caused my prior queasiness.  Since I can play this on the tube (and the DLR), I've made a lot of progress, playing a stage at a time.  I've managed to travel down a central route, not being good enough to start with to follow the top route, but managing to qualify for the sun stage half-way through.

The 3D effect works really well in this game, helping me to make sure my aim is true.  That's not to say that I'm proving to be expert in aiming, mind; it just means that I can tell when my aim's off from the fact I can see when my blasters are going to miss.  I'm hopeless at using the bomb, and can't get the hang of charging my blaster.  And when it switches into all-range mode - that is, when you can fly around an arena and aren't limited to a straight-line flight - I often get hopelessly lost.

And the less said about the tank level the better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tiny Tower: diminishing allure

The fun is starting to disappear from the game, as I've run out of new things to discover.  I've got a finely balanced tower at the moment, with fifty-nine floors (sixty including the lobby) meaning I have space for 110 bitizens and jobs for 111.  But nobody moves in with the required skills, and I can't be bothered to wait for people to turn up over and over again.  The game's also given me some very annoying floors of late, including a pub and a video rental shop which get stocked up and then sold out very very quickly indeed.

Oh, and both John and Kieron are miles ahead and I'm never going to catch up, so I've lot that sense of urgency as well.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Starfox 64 3D: blurgh

It seems I can't play this in the back of a taxi; it makes me feel motion sick.  I hope this doesn't apply to all forms of transportation.

Friday, September 16, 2011

May's Mysteries: the Secret of Dragonville: completed!

I was very near the end the last time I played, it seems, since I turned it on, completed two puzzles, and that was that.  The ending was perhaps the least satisfying I've ever seen; I was expecting to meet Uter, and have to solve some particularly difficult puzzles in order to complete the game.  Instead, after solving the last puzzle (a particularly easy sudoko-type add-up-to-100 thing), we went into Uter's room and after a five-minute video and some dialogue, the game just ended.  I was left with May and Tery sitting on a log in the sunshine, and an opportunity to retry any puzzle or complete any I'd missed.  But I'd finished them all by that point.

So that's that.  Well worth the £15 I paid for it, but it's not as good as a Layton game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to the Future the Game: Part 1: completed!

I love Back to the Future.  The fact that this game isn't based directly on the films but is a whole new storyline is amazing.  They've taken liberties with the whole backstory as well, transporting me back to meet Marty's grandfather and Doc when he was a boy.  And, most shocking of all, I went to years which didn't end in a '5'!

What wasn't amazing was how the game stuttered and glitched all over the place, and I'm running it on an iPad 2.  I dread to think what it was like on the original.  It was also awkward having to control Marty with a virtual joystick, and invisible walls just made it frustrating all too often.

I got the first part free, and I'm in two minds whether to buy the rest.  I want to know what happens in the story, but I found playing it rather frustrating.  Maybe I'll buy it on the Mac during a Steam sale instead.

Friday, September 09, 2011

1000 Heroz: running

1000 Heroz is an iPhone game where a level lasts for 20 seconds, on average.  Every day, you get a new level.  For a 24-hour period, any time you register on that level gets entered to the leaderboard, and once that period is up, then your time is enshrined for ever.  You can replay the level, try to get a better star rating, but you'll never be able to share it.  You're too late.

As such, it's pretty compulsive, and the fact that you can register for individual leaderboards means that competition can get quite intense.  I've been doing relatively well on the UGVM leaderboard, with a few top spots to my name; the same can't be said of the RLLMUK leaderboard, but then there are frequently people there who are in the top ten for the world.  My best world ranking was number 50.

Today I'm just outside the top 100, but am still pleased.  There's quite a gulf on the UGVM leaderboard.

Here you can see me registering a time just behind my best, but still a long way ahead of Sessile's.  There's still three hours for someone to beat me though ...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

May's Mysteries: the Secret of Dragonville: picross disaster

I'm still trying to finish off the bonus puzzles before progressing.  I've completed them all other than the hidden pictures - the picross puzzles.  There are loads of them, more than every other puzzle type (other than the sliding puzzles) put together.  They're all 10x10 puzzles, and I'm getting increasingly annoyed.

Why?  Because in quite a few, you have to guess in order to complete the puzzle.  Not only for  one or two spaces, but in Hidden Puzzle 37 I had to guess where eight of the pieces were. This is because there were diagonal lines in the pattern, with relatively few black squares.  Hidden Puzzle 35 was even worse - it was actually impossible to start the puzzle without guessing.

This really annoys me.  The project manager probably heard that these picross puzzles are quite popular, and they're easy enough to program.  So he told the development team to add in forty more.  Nobody on the development team understood the need for the puzzles to be solvable though - the importance of a lack of symmetry, the proportion of coloured squares, and the lack of diagonal lines, just wasn't understood.

So we're left with a slog through picross puzzles which can, at times, require you to use up a number of the hints you've been working to earn.  Really disappointing.

Half-Life 2: meeting up with friendly faces

I had played Half-Life 2 a bit before, despite what my gaming diary says.  First on my old PC, then on the original Xbox, then on the Xbox 360.  I even started it on the Mac, but never got that far.

Last night I decided to work through a bit further.  I'd previously, it seems, got through to a section where I was driving a hovercraft around, and I spent a good twenty minutes driving around trying to work out where to go - and being killed by rocket launchers.  After a while I, by accident, found that if you shot one end of one of the containers lying in the water, it fell off, meaning you could drive through that and out into safety.  So I did, and then carried on through the waterways.  This game was designed for a quick save option.

In fact, this game was designed to be played several years ago.  Some of the mechanics feel very clunky now - a lack of recharging health, expansive armoury, empty corridors and long loading pauses.  When a helicopter appeared, I felt as if I was fighting the controls rather than the enemy.  I eventually dispatched it, and have driven over the side of a dam, found some friendly faces and am now in a tunnel on the way to Ravenholm.  Apparently, people don't go there.  I am.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

May's Mysteries: the Secret of Dragonville: at the foot of the tower

After setting fire to the zoo and setting all the animals free, with no illustrations of fire or video of fleeing animals, I've crossed the lake and found Uter's tower.  The script hints quite strongly that once I've gone in, there's no return, so I'm going through a lot of the bonus puzzles before I do.

One of the things I don't like about this game is that each puzzle has the same reward - 30 points.  Some really difficult puzzles feel that you should get more; some simple ones (like the matchstick puzzles) should get fewer.  With the Layton games, the size of reward gives you a hint as to how difficult a puzzle should be, so you can go in with the correct expectation.  With this, you go in blind.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Tiny Tower: grinding upwards

I now have 47 floors in my tiny tower, and each is becoming more expensive to build.  Following advice from Kieron, I've been ruthless and evicted anyone from my tower who doesn't have a competency rated 9 - and then I've gone through and got a load of new people in to replace them.  There's still a bit of an imbalance though; I've five jobs open on service floors, and four bitizens with 9s in other areas.

The biggest disaster, though, is that Kieron has overtaken me (with 50 floors) and John isn't far behind (with 46).  My excuse is that I neither have a job where I work at home, nor have been off work awaiting a baby.  Such things help with tiny tower building.