Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Midweek Challenges - 30/11/2005

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

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

Catch five more pokémon in Sapphire.

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:

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.

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 ...

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, 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:

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

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.

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 reviews for ugvm. ugvm is a web-based PDF magazine that 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.

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.


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


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.