Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Phantasy Star: goodbye, Miss Snake Head

Lots of progress last night and this morning.

Firstly, I went around buying the good weapons that I wanted. This was fine except for the laser shield which you can only buy in Abion, which is miles from anywhere and I'd already had to go there once already. I wish I'd bought it before - but then again, I don't know if I'd have had 4500 mesata to spend on it ...

I went to Dezoris, the third planet, and found a bit of a icy wasteland. Palma seems pretty underpopulated, so why don't they all just move there, rather than freezing to death on Dezoris or burning in the desert sun on Motavia? Seems pretty obvious to me. They must be doing something right, though, because everyone on Dezoris is loaded. Monsters give shedloads of money.

I then went back to Motavia, to a town called Uzo, and bought Alis the laser sword. It's missing the "whuuuum" sound effects. I talked to some people, and they told me that to the Southwest there was a cave in which dragons lived, who have giant gems in their heads. This sounds like a hint. There was also a man who told me about a "soothing flute" which he'd dumped in Gothic.

So, I went to the Southwest, and after a lot of wandering around found a cave. I wandered through it for a while and eventually came out into a town called Casba. No dragons to be found there, but there were some vehicular activities. I was able to buy a landrover from the shop for 5000 mesata - unfortunately, it's a strange tracked vehicle and not a Freelander. Also, a man in a house told me that he's abandoned a hovercraft near Bortevo, on Palma. As you do.

On the way back through the cave I went exploring and found a blue dragon, who I killed rather easily and then found an amber eye. I presume this was one of the gems they were talking about. No idea what I'll do with it yet ...

Since I had no other leads, I went back to Uzo to go and find either the flute or the hovercraft on Palma. I forgot how annoying it was to search - you have to bring up the menu screen, scroll down four spaces to 'search', then repeat over and over again. Luckily the old man had told me the flute was dumped on the outskirts of Gothic, so I went around the path on the outside of the town and it was handily hidden at the end of a path near the entrance.

The hovercraft was less easy to find. I went to Bortevo (half the way to Abion, so only half as far out of the way and half as annoying to get to - although the speed of the landrover helps quite a lot) and once I got there remembered that it's where I found Hapsby the robot - the whole town is a ruin and each of the houses contains junk. I searched in every house and in the last house, the one right next to the exit of the town, I found the hovercraft. Hapsby repaired it and it's as good as new.

Rather luckily, Bortevo is right next to a bit of water, so I jumped in the hovercraft and headed west across the sea. And ended up in Scion, really close to where the whole game starts. It's going to be much easier to navigate around now.

I did some exploring down the coast there and found a new town, called Drasgow, floating in the middle of the ocean. It was a bit of a dump, but one person told me about Sopia, which is a town surrounded by gas fields. They don't make it easy for themselves, do they? I also coincidentally found a shop which, after exploring a massive maze, let me buy a gas shield.

So, to Sopia, which is on Motavia. I went to Uzo, and talked to everyone in the hope that they could tell me where to go. Nobody did. However, I now had my landrover which meant that I could go over the top of the ant lions' nests, and so I went exploring. I was quite lucky in that I tried going East first, and that's the way it was - Northeast, in fact, but only once you'd hit mountains going East.

The gas fields are a nasty place, and I ran into a couple of nasty enemies on my way through - a horseman and a sorcerer, who took quite a lot of health off of me. I was glad to get to Sopia. It's not much of a town, but it does have a hospital! There's nothing else there, though. I found the mayor and talked to him, and he begged me for money - 400 mesata, in fact. His town's poor because nobody goes through the gas fields. Move, you fools. Since I'd earnt 300 from killing the two enemies out in the gas fields, I said yes, hoping for some sort of reward. But no. He told me that Perseus's shield was on an island in the lake - I presumed the lake next to the town. I presumed correctly, as it turns out, because on a small island I found the mirror shield.

Ah, yes, I thought, my Greek mythology's coming back to me. Perseus killed Medusa by using a shield that reflected her image back to her. Odin's going to be able to finish the job.

Nearly up-to-date.

I ran into Medusa's tower before, when I took a wrong turning on the way to Bortevo the first time I left Gothic. So, back to Uzo, fly to Gothic, and to the tower, Repunzal. I worked my way through the tower, which was a nightmare - traps everywhere which meant I kept on ending up in the basement, and there were some very nasty enemies in there. I had to go back to gothic a couple of times to restart. I also suspect I looked very odd on the train trying to draw a map as I went. But it all paid off, as I found Medusa, and killed her in four turns. She left behind a Laconian axe. I just hope it's good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Battalion Wars: shooting down gunships

Two more excellent missions tonight; firstly I had to take a castle from the enemy, which I did by dividing my units and attacking from two sides at once; and secondly I had to destroy eight heavy tanks, using four light tanks and some bazookas. The second one was rather complicated by the presence of gunship helicopters, which I had to get my missile units to shoot down.

The only issue I'm finding is that I'm getting a low rank (generally a C) because I'm not doing the missions quickly enough. In order to get a better rank I'd have to know what to do from the start, but I don't feel like going back and redoing any missions. Yet.

The next mission looks rather hard, but I'm going to be given some artillary units so it should be amusing ...

Phantasy Star: battling for cash

On the way in to work this morning I decided to try to raise some of the money I need to buy things in Phantasy Star. While some of the areas I visited recently have a fair number of high-earning enemies, sometimes the battles can go on a bit and I'd have to heal quite often. So I headed back to Eppi for a wonder the forest, and to go werebat hunting.

So far I've earnt 8500 mesata from wandering around killing the werebats. I'm sufficiently levelled up that I can take down a group of four of them in two turns, normally suffering no damage. It's a little bit dull, but at least soon I'll be able to afford the equipment I want to buy. Then it'll be onwards and upwards.

In any case, such a mindless task is useful for doing while I'm listening to the 1Up Yours podcast.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Battalion Wars: moving out

I've set up my GameCube temporarily, so have spent this evening playing through some games that have hardly ever been touched, if at all. Sonic Gems was a great diversion for an hour, playing through the first level of Sonic CD, Sonic R, Sonic 2 for the Game Gear and Sonic Drift. I'd forgotten how confusing Sonic CD was. If I'd got it when it first came out, and had devoted as much time to it as I did to Sonic and Sonic 2, I'd know my way around all the levels, knowing when to time travel and so on. But only getting it six years ago meant that it's not had the time it deserves, and I don't think it ever will, unless all my other games mysteriously combust.

I played Ikaruga - fun but too hard for this evening; Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg - great and I've got the theme tune in my head now; Viewtiful Joe - again, too hard for this evening; and Battalion Wars.

I'd not played Battalion Wars at all; I bought it in a sale a while ago but after my GameCube had been packed up for the move. This evening I've played through and cleared the first four missions, and ... well, it's excellent. It's an action game first and foremost, but in the last mission I played the strategy crept back in, to the point where I was commanding other units rather than firing at the enemies myself.

You can see the Advance Wars influences, with strategy requiring you to command bazooka units to attack tanks, and infantry to attach bazookas, and so on. There's a clever paper-scissors-stone feel to many of the battles, and victory relies on you sending the right group in to do the job. Of course, in these early stages there's a lot of hand-holding, but it's done in a immersive way, with your brigadier (Betty) letting you know where the enemy's coming from and what units they've got.

The last mission was well-structured, too. It involved busting into an enemy camp, rescuing two scouts and driving them off in a recon vehicle, avoiding bazookas and missiles all the way home. Once hom, you had to defend against a retaliatory force. They may have killed a lot of my units, but I managed to last it out, using an airlifted-in tank to destroy their vehicles.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: mayhem in a fire engine

On the way into work this morning I did a superb mission, set by the priest in the church (I'm on the second island). I had to drive around in a fire engine causing as much mayhem as possible, since cars are evil and a sign of greed. Or something.

Anyway, the fire engine seems to be indestructable, and so you just drive around trying to hit other cars out of the way, getting bonus points for knocking over motorcyclists, spinning cars around or flipping them, and destroying cars. After a while it gets harder, because the police start chasing you ... but at the same time, it's easier because they're trying to drive into you, and you're flipping police cars left, right and centre.

Anyway. that was fun. The next was also amusing - a mission set by a politician to canvass votes by driving a loudspeaker van around town. After claiming a couple of territories the opponent's vans start to do the same, and you have to get five more territories then them ... and once you've done that you can destroy them.

Hooray for mayhem.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Naked War: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

I have no idea how that happened. I was thrashing Kieron in Naked War, with him only having one unit with doofers left. I had three soldiers chasing him around the map. Then in one turn he kills two of those three soldiers, leaving me with one unit with doofers left.

Basically, I made the dire mistake of pushing forward onto the other side of the map too quickly, without ensuring that I kept my other doofers safe. We were effectively down to three doofers at the end - when you kill someone you take all their doofers, so what matters is the number of people with doofers, not the absolute number of doofers - and Kieron managed to capture two of them in subsequent turns, even after I did my best to run away. So I lost.

I've started two more games against him. I can't take this lying down.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mario Kart Dreadful Snaking

I had quite a few games on Mario Kart DS tonight, playing online against Kieron and John. Of course, I won most of them. The online system took a few tries to work, and John had to turn off his torrents to stop it crashing out, but once it was going it was great.

The game loses out on communication, but we solved this by sitting by the computer with a chat window open. Once I'm fully set up with my Xbox we'll have to use a Halo 2 private room for voice instead.

The game also loses out on a community aspect. It's almost as bad as Halo 2 in terms of the sportsmanship of random players. If you win, they quit. Dire. At least you don't get Merkin teenagers shouting that you cheat and you suck.

But played against friends, it's superb. Even when you get blue-shelled twice in one race.

Midweek Challenges - 25/10/2006

After the pain that was hard Stamp Mode, and the endless slog through the Pro tour, I'm going for a change in direction.

Complete a couple of missions on Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. This may sound like very little, but I've also got to resist the appeal of just driving around stealing stuff.

Get 999 lines again on Tetris DS. Just because.

Play Phantasy Star again, and try to earn enough to buy a laser gun (in Skure), gloves (in Skure), a light sabre (in Uzo), a laser shield (in Abion) and a wand (in Skure). These are all pretty powerful weapons according to the list I've seen, so should put me in good stead to continue with the game.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Touch Golf: professional level completed

Some of the final courses at professional level were just insanely hard. Strong winds, narrow fairways and very good opponents. Oh, and very very lumpy greems - the keepers should be ashamed. On one course I finished at +3 and was still 36th.

But I've now finished the professional level, finally, and overall I came first. I've got a bit of money to play with now as well.

One annoying thing is that I can't choose to replay the earlier tournaments to raise more money for equipment or better my scores, but instead I'm forced to progress to the master class. Still, the prize money for the first game is €100,000 and I'm not doing too badly.

Oh, and another annoying thing is that you don't earn anything from playing the standard match play or stroke play games - only the championships. I need more money!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

42 All-Time Classics: hard stamp mode completed

I've been playing through the hard stamp mode, and once I'd got past ludo (which, thankfully, I never have to play again) I had quite a run of success. I beat the DS at chess, at field tactics, at koi-koi, and at Texas hold'em. Lots of other games too, which I can't remember.

I've now completed all the stamp modes, and I'm not sure I'll play this for a couple of weeks, apart from in multiplayer. The missions are generally just too hard or random, and I've got lots of other stuff to do.

Now I've completed this, I might think about playing some other games.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Touch Golf: blowing on

Since when have you seen professional golfers playing in pouring rain with winds up to 15mph? You haven't. Yet there I am with my stupid non-running ball and special shot that seemingly makes the shot worse. Bah.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

42 All-Time Classics: medium stamp mode completed

The final game - Escape - was easier on the medium setting than on the easy setting. Maybe I was just being more spatially aware.

I was quite pleased about some of the last games, though. I managed to win Chess, and Texas Hold'em, and even Koi-Koi - though the latter was more by luck than skill. I somehow won Darts too, even though it's a shambolic mess of inaccuracy.

I ought to now play some other game, but I just know I'll start the hard stamp mode on the train home tonight.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 11/10/2006

42 All-Time Classics has been wedged in my DS since I got it. I've not turned on my Game Boy Micro or my PSP at all.



Earn enough to buy a laser gun (in Skure), gloves (in Skure), a light sabre (in Uzo), a laser shield (in Abion) and a wand (in Skure) in Phantasy Star.

Complete the Pro class of Touch Golf.

Complete stamp mode on the medium setting in 42 All-Time Classics.

42 All-Time Classics: ludo

What an utterly, utterly pointless and painful game this is.

Ludo was never a great game against human players, but against the computer it's just stupid. There's no skill to it, it's just chance. This is all to obvious from my experiences yesterday.

In the first game, it was only after 35 dice rolls that I got a six, and was able to move my first piece. It had been around 30 rolls before the computer got its first six. That's over sixty rolls of the dice just seeing "no move" over and over again. What fun!

The computer won that game, by a very narrow margin.

The second game was even worse. I got sixes with alarming frequency, moving all my pieces out onto the board. The computer didn't. In fact, I had three of my pieces home by the time the computer got its first six ... and the next turn my remaining piece landed on top of the computer's piece, sending it back home. I therefore completed the game without the computer having a single piece in play.

At least that's over with ... for now. I've completed stamp mode on easy, and am now halfway through it on the medium difficulty level. I've still got to play ludo one more time for the hard level. Joy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 04/10/2006

Because I've been ill, I only managed one challenge last week ...


Earn enough to buy a laser gun (in Skure), gloves (in Skure), a light sabre (in Uzo), a laser shield (in Abion) and a wand (in Skure) in Phantasy Star.

Complete the Pro class of Touch Golf.

Complete stamp mode on the easy setting in 42 All-Time Classics, which should be waiting for me when I go back to work. Apparently it's doable in a couple of days.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Touch Golf: dragging on and on

Make that 24,196,273 tournaments.

I've not been playing much, though, because I've been ill. As such, there's been no progress on Phantasy Star ... and I reckon I'm getting close to the end of that, so I ought to make a final push.