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.

Kill the greenies in Populous: the Beginning.

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

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.


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.

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

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

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. 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:

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

Complete Bloodlust in Populous: the Beginning. Fingers crossed.

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.