Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: judder judder judder

First: stupid title. The previous game (which I've played on the Xbox 360 but can find no mention of on this blog) was called Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.  The sequel loses the "Sega", despite almost all locations and characters and everything still being Sega.  There's the addition of Wreck-It Ralph, but the 360 version of the old game had Banjo-Kazooie as a playable character and that retained the "Sega".  It's just daft.  Moreover, why couldn't they make it into a series with the tennis game and call it "Sega Superstar Racing" in the first place?  Sonic doesn't really have a leading role here.

Second: really impressive to look at.  From what I've read about the other console versions, this has all the same content in the same structure; the courses are vibrant and detailed.  An impressive achievement cramming this onto the 3DS.

Third: at least, it would be if the game wasn't a juddery mess at times.  The framerate dives on many courses (and if I can see it, it must be really low) which means that in order to play the game you really need to turn the 3D effect off (which doubles the framerate).  With 3D off, the vibrancy and colour means that it's really difficult to see where the track goes, and you keep crashing into background objects.

It can't all be bad, though, since I've played it a fair bit, finishing the first chapter at least.  It's not an easy game; I'm setting the difficulty to "normal" for everything so far but fear I may need to revert to "easy" for some courses and races.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Super Mario Bros 2: even more completed

All the levels opened and completed, three coins on every level, all toad houses opened, and a stupid number of lives (represented by three castles).  I have four stars on my profile, which looks odd since there could be space for a fifth but unless that's gained for getting a million coins (which I'm nowhere near) then I can't see what that would be awarded for.

Coin Rush is just a little too fraught for me - one life, dying at the last minute wiping out any progress - no, I think I'll leave it here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New Super Mario Bros 2: completed!

Completed as much as the first game, at least, maybe more so.  I've unlocked every world and completed them.  There are a few exits I've missed meaning that a couple of the extra levels remain unlinked, and I've hardly touched the coin rush mode - and I find that a bit frustrating given the short timescales and one life and random levels.

A great game, and I'll continue to play bits of it, but it may need to take a rest now.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sega Rally Online Arcade: practice needed

I love Sega's arcade racers; I always have, since I first played Virtua Racing in an arcade in Hastings, and then bought it on the Mega Drive for £70 on release day.  I remember friends deprecating my powersliding round the corner on a Daytona USA cabinet in Bexleyheath Superbowl, describing it as a "barely controlled skid" - yet I beat them.  I had precious little experience with Scud Race, but Sega Rally consumed many pound coins - and I've three copies of the marvellous Saturn conversion, for some reason.

They may not get played again, for Sega Rally Online Arcade is a marvellous expansion of the game.  Unlike Daytona, the graphics have had a massive overhaul, with new tracks, new cars, and it's all been rebalanced.  The control's been updated as well, and while it's not as satisfying as the Saturn wheel, it's better than the Saturn joypad.

The only issue with this version of the game is that I'm not very good at it.  See the screenshot - this is me finishing the Tropical course, with plenty of time on the clock, but still in 13th place.  I will have to attempt manual transmission and learn the tracks better ...

Monday, February 04, 2013

Hidden in Plain Sight: who am I?

On Saturday night, Matt and Gaby were visiting and we killed each other, once we'd worked out who we were.

Hidden in Plain Sight is an Xbox Indie Game, which means it cost about 50p.  For that excessive sum you get five different games, all of which revolve around the idea of not knowing who your opponents are.  The first, and possibly the best, is Ninja Party, where your objectives are to either be the first touch five statues dotted around the room, or kill all opponents.  You can guess who your opponents are by seeing who's walking over a statue as a ping goes off, or who's walking purposefully around rather than wandering aimlessly.  There are many computer-controlled characters who are wandering aimlessly, but who look the same as you.  So the idea is to look as if you're wandering aimlessly while still making your way between statues, and at the same time watch the whole screen to see if you can spot someone else walking purposefully while pretending to wander aimlessly.  If you do spot them, you can make your way over to them and try to kill them, but if they see you coming they may well kill you so you need to wander aimlessly over towards them while making sure you get there before they hit all statues.

Since you're all on one screen, the only possible way to ensure that people don't know who their opponents are is to not tell anyone who they are themselves.  Instead, the first few seconds of each game is spent wiggling the controller in certain directions and seeing which character moves in that way.  If you see a character moving erratically and it's not you, it may be someone else ... but you'll normally have to take your eyes off of them in order to find your character anyway, which is amusingly frustrating.

Other games felt a bit unbalanced with three players.  Death Race - be the first over the line or shoot your opponent - was the most broken, with the player who didn't shoot anyone being the one to win.  The thief game was really hard if there were two thieves or quite easy if there were two snipers.  The assassin game was similar.

Matt complained that Knights and Ninjas was too biased in favour of the knights, but that's because he kept losing.

It's a shame that the 360 can only connect four controllers; this would be amazing with eight players.

Friday, February 01, 2013

New Super Mario Bros 2: sort-of-completed

I've seen the credits, at least.  It feels a little bit of a letdown to see the end of the game and know that there is so much still to explore.  After defeating Bowser (which I did last weekend, but never got around to writing about), I've been exploring some levels where I think there may be alternate exists based on the positioning of level markers on the map.  I've found a few, including the exit to the cannon on World 1 which leads you to the mushroom worlds.  These are a little trickier than the main numbered levels, but not massively.

I'm now exploring levels for more secrets, and trying to get enough star coins to unlock the star worlds.  From what I wrote about the original game, it looks like I'm pretty much where I called the game 'completed' last time, but the ennui's not set in yet.  Let's explore some more.