Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mario Kart 7: oh wow this is so amazing

It's really great.  It leaves me with a great dilemma.  Do I continue playing Layton, or do I play more of this?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Professor Layton and the Last Specter: Luke here

The absence of Luke was temporary, and so now I have two assistants following me around and being annoying.  I have to find out about something that was sold on the black market, and rather than understand that as a figure of speech, Layton is off trying to find a physical black market.

For an intelligent person, he can be a bit of an idiot.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: going swimmingly

The zora's temple took quite a while, but was full of some very clever puzzles, with blockages needing to be released to let water flow and drive wheels.  On a couple of the corridors there was a waterwheel which blocked my way - no amount of pushing it would do anything - but as soon as there was a trickle of water going past it started turning.  Ho-hum.

The last boss was very clever,  I thought I had it sorted by wearing iron boots and using the hookshot from a distance, but then the monster started swimming around and I was forced to swim myself to ride on its back.  It went down pretty easily in the end, the room drained of water, and then I warped out ...

Only to see Mr Evil turning everything to twilight again, and making me a wolf.  Apparently I have to go and find Zelda to get my decent controls back.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: saving the prince

I found the light tears, having to repeat the flying section when I didn't realise I had to turn my senses on the first time around in order to catch the bugs.  I killed the big bug, and was all ready to collect the last part of my fuse shadow thing, but the odd crocodile god told me it was at the bottom of the ocean instead. Great.  There was a very odd cutscene with multiple Ilyas floating downwards upside-down.  But finally twilight was banished, and Hyrule Field looks lovely again.  The lake is vibrant, the zora kingdom is clean and blue, and the castle town is full of characters.

I went to see the zora prince, and had to accompany him back to Kakariko village - which was pretty difficult, since it took me a while to realise I had to take out the birds in order to stop them diverting the coach.  Once back there, the dead zora queen gave me an ugly set of clothes that let me swim underwater.  Ilya seems to have lost her memory, and there was nothing further to do, so I took the opportunity to explore the village, blowing up blocks and so on.  I found a couple more pieces of heart.

So, next is the zora temple at the bottom of Lake Hylia.  Water Temple, by any other name.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Professor Layton and the Last Specter: no Luke?

Instead, there's an attractive female assistant who doesn't have such a whiney voice.  The puzzles so far seem slightly more difficult than normal, but maybe that's because I'm used to May's Mysteries.  Only around 15 puzzles in so far, so plenty of time for that to change.

Oh, and yes, it's spelt "specter" because I've got the US version, since the UK version is missing a rather large bit of content.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: hot then cold then hot again

I went North, and found another twilit area.  I find that these actually give me a headache - the colours and music and Midna's annoying voice just feel very oppressive.  The lake had dried up, and travelling upstream - via a natty flying section - showed me why; everything was frozen.  Midna told me I had to try to find some way of thawing it out.  I was last in a very hot place; hmm, I wonder.

So I warped there, picked up a big hot rock, and warped back.  Everything melted and the zora sat around the edge of the pool.  They couldn't see me, of course.  As I left, the recently-killed queen of the zora asked me to find her son.  He's in Hyrule - I saw him being looked after by the girl from my home village - but Link doesn't say a lot.  I'd better get back to say hello to him.

But that means getting rid of the twilight.  I went and found the spirit of the spring, who told me to get some of the tears of light.  I've got four of them.  I'll get the rest sometime soon.

Oh, and I must go back to Kakariko Village when I'm human again.  I completely forgot to explore before shipping out.

Rabbids 3D: completed!

I was expecting to have to battle on for many more levels, given that I'd only reached the middle ages.  But no; there are four worlds of around fifteen levels each, and I've now completed them all.  The last level was an auto-scrolling pain in the backside, and halfway through I noticed that it wasn't just set in the middle ages but also had elements of all the other time periods I'd been through.

I've a total of around 50,000 bonuses across all the levels, which is enough to have unlocked all the extra levels, but isn't quite enough to unlock the final figurine.  I'm not sure I can be bothered to do that, though - not when Layton's waiting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Angry Birds Seasons: the orange bird

Rovio continues to update both the original Angry Birds and its sequel, Angry Birds Seasons, with new levels.  As such, I no longer have three stars on all levels of either game; I'm missing:
  • eight stars from "Ham 'em High" in AB
  • nineteen stars from "Mine and Dine" in AB
  • six stars from "Hogs and Kisses" in ABS
But that'll have to wait, since I've just discovered that there's a new set of levels in Seasons, and with them comes a new bird - the orange bird, who inflates like an airbag when you touch the screen, pushing everything out of the way. It's a welcome addition to a game that otherwise was in danger of getting just a bit stale.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Imitation: not a game

I have no idea how I've never seen this before, but I'm flattered.  I'm sure mine's not the original gaming diary - I'm pretty sure Owen and Andy got there first - but it's obviously the best.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: out of the frying pan

The fire dungeon, as it would be called in earlier Zelda games, was pretty easy overall.  I had to use the boots and the bow and arrow to complete it, with walking on the ceiling and the walls being a particularly clever touch. Standing upside down and shooting a crystal to open the door below was very nifty.

I actually found the mid-dungeon boss more tricky than the end-of-dungeon one.  It was immediately obvious what I had to do for the latter, at least, while I spent ages slashing at the big armoured goron without scratching him.

So I now have two bits of metal shadow fuse thingies, and the ever-helpful spring water has told me to go North.  North.  Luckily I popped into the village shops before I went, since I got across the bridge to find my way blocked by some rocks, which I was able to blow up using my handy new bombs.  On the way out of the village, I was accosted by the postman, who is an absolutely superb character.  Not very efficient, though; he was delivering a letter about the bomb shop and how to make bomb arrows, which I'd already been experimenting with.

I need to get a new wallet soon - 300 rupees is just daft.

Daytona USA: a time machine on four wheels

I've been waiting forever for a good conversion of Daytona.  The Saturn game was disappointing.  The second Saturn game fixed all that was bad about the first, and ruined all that was good.  The Dreamcast game was great, but it was too tricky and involved.

The Xbox 360 game is amazing.

Yes, there are a few added modes on top of the pure arcade game, with challenges and time trials and endurance races, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is Daytona, down to the octagonal wheels and fuzzy roads.  The only thing that's different from the arcade game - other than the wheel of course - is that this is playing on a better quality TV and is in higher definition than I ever saw before.

I'm inspired to get out the old copies just to see if they are as disappointing as I remember.  Particularly the first Saturn game, with digital steering and all.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: getting hot in here

Some progress tonight, but as ever with Twilight Princess it feels as if I'm still running against the escalator.  There's so much to do, so much to see, it's all pretty overwhelming.  It was only as I was packing up tonight that I realised I've not been fishing for ages; while I was playing I found a bug (insect, not glitch) which opened up a new collect-a-thon quest; I noticed a piece of heart in a tree and realised I've not been looking everywhere I've been for them.

But I've done a lot.  I've found the children, for a start.  Initially I found them when I was in the twilight realm, so they couldn't see me, and I had to search the village for insects carrying the light tears so I could awaken the spring again.  I did so.

I find the parts where you play as a wolf to be quite awkward - as I said before, there's a bit of a turning circle problem, with the camera often not showing you enemies, and attacking is often just a case of waggling at random. This isn't helped by the darkened palette, and it feels that you can't see as far because you're closer to the ground.  And Midna keeps on grunting and laughing, which gets annoying after a while.

Luckily it didn't last for long, and I was reunited with my horse, Sparks, after exploring the daylight-filled village.  That meant I could escape over the walls and explore Hyrule Field again, which is where I found the heart piece.

After a bit there was a thrilling set-piece where one of the children - Colin - was captured and I had to ride alongside the boar-riding enemy and hit him with my sword.  He rode off to the castle, we jousted, and I rescued Colin.  Now I'm off to Death Mountain, and have sumo wrestled against a Goron in order to get inside.  It took a while for me to work out how to get past one of the air vents which was blowing me off a ledge over and over again, but I got there in the end.  It's all fiery and hot in there.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rabbids 3D: too large

I am still working my way through this, and am coming to the end of the third time period.  There are around fifteen levels in each period, though, and I'm only up to Ancient Greece and Rome so far, which makes me wonder how many levels there will be in the whole game.  It's not that hard - there are only a couple of places where I've lost lives more than once - and I'm up to a stash of 79 lives already, meaning that I'm not in any danger of seeing the 'game over' screen soon.

It's still enjoyable, but there are relatively few new ideas in the game, and I do feel that I've seen it before in the various platformers I've played over the past twenty-five years.  Not just in other games either; Rabbids 3D has an annoying habit of repeating bits of levels, as if the designed was particularly pleased with one set of platforms so just copied-and-pasted them in again.  The unskippable cut-scene every time you pick up the invincibility power-up is starting to grate as well.

And I've certainly no great desire to replay all the levels multiple times to collect trophies for speedruns and collecting all the coins and ducks.  Whether I'll complete this is up the air, particularly given that the new Layton game is sitting at home in its shrinkwrap.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: barking mad

I went West.  Well, I went North first, and found Hyrule Field, which was surprisingly empty, and I ran around a bit and killed some enemies to get used to the controls again.  Then I went West, and entered the Twilight realm and turned into a wolf.  It's a very dark game at times, with the shadows being very threatening.

I ran forward and found one of the kids' swords.  Oh, yes, I'm meant to be rescuing some children, aren't I?  I picked up the scent from that, and followed it to a clearing with three monsters.  When I killed two of them, the remaining one would revive them.  I died many times, trying to time my last blow on two of them to be simultaneous.  And then when playing with the controls I worked out that the B button creates an energy field around me which does that job for me.  I really ought to catch up with where I am before playing further ...

I restored the bridge, at least.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

007 Blood Stone: completed!

I've played this a lot over the last few days, often longer than I had planned to since it's really compelling with a real page-turner feel to the storyline.  The next checkpoint seems easily reachable, and you know at all times what you're trying to achieve - the game throws twists at you in a very clever way, meaning that you always feel that you've been successful in what you were trying to do even if it has resulted in ultimate failure.

The game, like any Bond film, takes place in multiple locations around the world.  Each of them felt distinct, with enemies having their own personalities and conversations.  Though they do all speak English, and they all have a tendancy to run out around cover so that Bond can sneak out and take them down.  As I said previously, the cover mechanic works very well here, and there are a few instances when you're forced to play in a different way to how you're accustomed - when chasing an assassin across the rooftops, for example, if he gets too far away due to you hiding in cover too long, you fail the level.

So, yes, I've played this a lot, and have now completed it.  I failed relatively few times, though this may be due to me playing it on the second difficulty of four.  It was a really enjoyable game - thoroughly recommended, and the ending scene was pretty spectacular.  I'm not sure I'll be back that soon to get the remaining achievements, though ...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Rabbids 3D: surprisingly competent

Rabbids 3D is, as I understand it, a simple 3DS conversion of Rabbids Travel in Time, a Wii game.  It's not a simple conversion in any way, though, since it's built in 3D and the added depth gives a lovely sense of focus to the foreground.  There's nothing spectacular about the game mechanics, but that's not to say it's not worth playing - it's actually a very solid, playable side-on platformer, which clever level design and a move set which is large enough to be liberating but small enough to not be confusing.

It's charming.  And seems to be pretty big as well; I've played up to level 13 and I'm still in the prehistoric world.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

007 Blood Stone: peek-a-boo

I was inspired to get this (well, put it on my Amazon wish list, from which it was purchased by my mother-in-law) after hearing one of the music tracks at the Video Game Heroes concert by the London Philharmonic.  I quickly got past that track, but all the music in the game so far has been superb.  It's very, very James Bond.

As, in fact, is the game.  Unlike other "modern" Bond games, this isn't an all-guns-blazing affair, it's using the cover-and-sneak mechanics that made Beyond Good and Evil so good, combined with a clever shooter which rewards silent kills.  Third-person over-the-shoulder shooting is interspersed with driving sections, and I've travelled to Athens and Istandul so far.  Worldwide locations, sneaking around with random explosions and shooting, and a stylish theme tune and title sequence, all makes this feel like a proper full entry in the Bond series.  Which at one point it was.