Friday, October 14, 2011

Tiny Tower: tiny trousers

One of the more frustrating things in tiny Tower is the search for someone.  You'll be tasked with finding someone in particular, with a picture of them so that you don't have to remember, for example, that Doug Fergus wears a red jumper and has orange hair.

The problem is that when you have seventy-odd floors to check, it can be difficult to work out where people are.  And that's not helped by the relatively limited number of shirt colours.

Edgar Little is not on floor 60.  It looks like it, but you can see from the one row of pixels assigned to his shorts and the one row for his legs, that this is actually an entirely different person.

Edgar was, in fact, on floor 3.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peggle: chasing aces

When PopCap updated Peggle a while ago, to enable the in-app purchase of Peggle Nights, they also set an "ace" score for each level in the original Peggle.  This means that for every level, there are two rosettes available - one for clearing all pegs (the "100%" rosette) and one for scoring more than the defined score (the "ACE" rosette).

I've got a fair few of these already.  Of course, getting 100% on a level can give you a huge bonus, which often takes you over the ace score anyway.  It being a year since Owen's death, and with Peggle being one of his favourite games (and appearing on his 100 best games list), I decided to try to fully complete a few more levels.

I managed three.  I no longer want to play Peggle, ever again.  I want to shout and scream at whoever designed the level with the two wavy lines down the side, at which it is impossible to get 100% because the ball just bounces all over the place and you can never control it enough to hit the correct pegs.

Next year I'll play Mr Driller.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Legend of Zelda: limited life

I've only played the original Legend of Zelda game once before, playing it on an emulator on the PC, and quickly dropped it when something else came along.  By modern standards it's pretty limited with no clear direction on where to go, lots of enemies in the way without a great reward for killing them, and it's pretty difficult.

I received it as part of the 3DS freebies programme, and thought I'd give it a shot over the weekend.  It's still hard and directionless, but it's good to see the origins of some of the classic Zelda enemies.  Given the ease with which it can be picked up and put down, I may try to persevere a little more this time ...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Dream Trigger 3D: ouch, my hands

Dream Trigger 3D caught my attention due it being touted as a imagining of Rez. It's not an imagining of Rez, unless it's in the imagination of someone who's a little hard of understanding and thinks that you can fundamentally change something and it still stays the same.

The basic premise is the same - you target things, avoid bullets, shoot them. It's set to music, and it's even the same kind of trippy dance music which manages to not be entirely unpleasant. That's where similarities end, however, and where Dream Trigger 3D starts to lose out.

The targeting system in Rez was simple - you moved your target over enemies, and released it with the music, hoping to destroy several at once. On the top screen here, you also have to target enemies, but it's not that simple. Enemies don't show on the top screen until you've revealed then on the lower screen. You do that by laying sonar pings with the stylus, which are activated as the beat line sweeps across them. If there is an enemy by the solar ping as it goes off, it shows up on the top screen and you can destroy it.

Simple enough. But the enemies move, so you need to anticipate where they'll be when the beat line hits, and all the time avoid their shots - yes, they can shoot at you even when not revealed - and collect powerups and try not to get distracted by the pretty 3D backgrounds behind your target/butterfly/ship/whatever icon they've given you this time. There's a lot going on in the game. And tied to this, you have to control the stylus with your right hand, while holding the 3DS with your left hand, while using the circle pad and the L trigger. The stylus sets sonar pings on the bottom screen, the circle pad moves the target on the top screen, and the left trigger shoots the enemies under the target. You can't just keep firing constantly since you have a limited shot gauge, which is refilled by shooting things or the beat sweeping across.

It's this multitude of controls that leads to the title for this blog post.  I've completed five stages of the story mode now, and I'm starting to get used to looking at the top screen and feeling my way around the bottom. The console is just a little too awkward to hold, particularly since the headphone socket is where I'd naturally put my left little finger. I'd like to play more - it's actually a really good game - but I dread to think what sort of claw hands I'd end up with. Maybe tomorrow.

Grand Prix Story: phut phut

When I look back at it, Game Dev Story was a pretty complex game, with you having to manage the team make up, finances, game creation process, marketing, and staff training.  It didn't seem it at the time, since it let you in gently, slowly unlocking parts of the game as you get further through.

Grand Prix Story is similar, but it's more complex and drops you in the deep end much quicker. It takes much longer to work out what you need to develop and concentrate on, and in the back of my mind there's the thought that, as with Game Dev Story, there's going to be a time limit after which the game won't count any more.  So there's a sense of urgency leadig to an unknown deadline which means that it's all a bit panicked, with lots going on at once.

After the first couple of in-game years I won my first race, and had two car types available - a roadster, and a buggy.  The latter is useful off-road, so I thought it was a good idea to get it ready.  Little did I know I wouldn't have an opportunity to race off-road for another five years, and the car sat there gathering dust and taking up a space in the garage until I decided to scrap it.  I also developed a 'wing car', which is awful and has never come better than last.  On my next game I'll not be repeating those mistakes.

So, it's complex, but it's still got the charm that Game Dev Story had in spades.  And it's very addictive indeed.