Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pilotwings: smoother in 60Hz

This is possibly the first time I've found the difference between 50Hz and 60Hz to have a significant impact on a game.  When I tried to play Pilotwings previously, I found that I was constantly fighting with the controls and didn't enjoy it.  Amusingly, I forecast at the time that I'd go back to the game "in a couple of years".

On the Wii U, it's the 60Hz version, and it feels much more responsive.  I still found control of the skydiver quite tricky, as it's difficult to see how to move forwards and keep a good speed, but the rocketpack was much easier to deal with.

My other main complaint previously was the difficulty in judging distances, and in particular how quickly you can descend to land.  I think that this simply requires a lot of practice, but the game doesn't let you repeat just one mission as far as I can see.

It looks like the landing zone is miles away here, but to get there requires a lot of diving and pushing the nose down, which of course then means you're going too fast to land.  I shall have to work out how to do this more consistently.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Super Mario World: the third attempt

I played Super Mario Advance 2, but never got that far - which is surprising.  I played the Wii VC version of the game for a bit, but stopped for some reason after passing Donut Plains.  Now I've upgraded that to the Wii U VC version, I'm going to try to complete a game which many hail as the best of all time, but I've only scratched the surface of.

Yes, I know.  I'm still halfway through NSMBW and NSMBU.  Shh.

Initial impressions aren't great.  The text is really hard to read - had Nintendo never heard of kerning? - and the controls feel a bit imprecise.  This may be because of the travel on the buttons on the Wii gamepad, and the use of the analogue stick.  In any case, after a while the controls weren't an issue.

In this screen, you can see Mario rescuing Yoshi.  Two things to note here: Mario seems to be able to float in mid air, and Yoshi is singularly useless, getting captured around 100 metres from his home.  It hardly seems worth the effort.

I completed the first set of levels pretty quickly, and then got stuck on the first level where you can collect the feather that turns into a cape.  That cost me three lives, because I kept expecting Yoshi to be able to swallow the baseballs lobbed at him.

I finished at the second level in Donut Plains, annoyed with the red dot indicating that there's a secret exit on the first level.  I know how to get to it - you need the green switch palace - but I hate leaving it blinking there.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ico: show me where we're going

A few years ago, I decided to play the copy of Ico I had bought and never touched.  I didn't get very far, because the game didn't save my progress and I only had limited time.  I resolved to go back one day.

I never went back.  I wanted to, but there were many more shiny games and achievement points and new controllers and clever gameplay ideas and huge maps to explore.  Ico remained a game that I felt was worthy of playing, but never actually got played.  At some point in the last couple of months, the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD pack was given out on PS+, and the games sat on my hard drive, untouched.  Until now.

History almost repeated itself.  I played through the first sections of the game, finding Yorda and rescuing her, then escaping from the dungeon, playing again through the sections I previously completed on the PS2.  I found a new section, and thought I'd take a break there - and almost turned the console off, before remembering that I'd not saved anywhere.  I pushed on, and found the first bench, sitting outside the tower.  I almost ignored that and continued, but decided to experiment with it, only to find that this is what the save point looks like.  So I saved.

It's clear to see that many games have taken influences from Ico.  The exploration aspect crops up in countless 3D adventures now, and guiding another character is a massively effective story mechanic.  I will complete this one day, I must, but at the moment I'm a bit too unfocussed given my multiple Wii U purchases.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My favourite Mega Drive games

From a request on RLLMUK, my favourite ten games for the Mega Drive.

Virtua Racing
Three tracks, one car, minimum of content, £60. Utterly amazing and worth every penny. Magazines warned that it wasn't as good as the arcade game, but that didn't matter - the freedom it gave in terms of being able to steer any way around the circuit and not be shifted to the edge of the screen - it felt like the future.

Sonic 2
I won this in a competition in Mega. Release day came, and I had no Sonic 2. A week later, no Sonic 2. Another week, and I had a letter from the magazine apologising for the delay. I eventually got the game a month and a half after everyone had completed it - and yet I still love it. My favourite Sonic game, just.

Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition
When combined with the six-button pad (which I still feel is the epitome of digital pad design), this is the perfect fighter. I spent hundreds of hours on this; I even got a new Mega Drive (replacing my original Japanese model, as SC2 was region-locked) just to play it.

Far better than the SNES game. The rug ride level has one of the most memorable tunes in any game, and I can still remember where to go to get the genie's heads.

Micro Machines 96
A toss-up between this and MM2, but the courses on this are just a bit better. Amazing with four players.

Shining Force
I'd never played a strategy RPG before this; I've still not played one as good. An involving story, great characters and well-balanced gameplay.

NHL Hockey '93
I didn't play ice hockey. I'd never watched a match. None of my friends ever had either. Why, then, was this game so routinely played whenever we went to each others' houses? You felt so stylish grabbing the puck and slaloming up the pitch before shooting and scoring - later versions may have added four-player but they felt a bit too clunky and heavy.

Toe Jam and Earl
If you play it now, it feels so slow and awkward. How did I ever have the patience to complete it? I did, though, several times over. Special mention must go to level zero, where TJ&E get to bathe in a hot tub.

The Disney platformers were almost all great. I feel this is the best of the bunch, though Castle of Illusion is very close behind.  I don't think of Aladdin as a Disney platformer for some reason; it's a film licence.

The tenth place goes to Road Rash. And Desert Strike. And Populous. And Mega Lo Mania. And Mega Bomberman. And Thunderforce III.  Too many great games!

Oh, and the two-player mode of Lemmings was genius. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lego City Undercover: an expanding city

I've now completed 10% of the game, apparently, but I'm not sure what that measures.  There are huge numbers of collectibles and random tasks to carry out in the city, such as finding certain boulders, blowing up silver statues, capturing aliens, and so on. The map is huge and I've not really worked out where things are yet.  There are areas I've not been to and then last night I found out that there's a sewer system as well ...

Some of the sub-missions are quite daft.  I was robbing a bank in order to get into a criminal gang, and one of the tasks I had to perform was to clean the floors.

This was just a little daft, and also rather frustrating as it wasn't obvious what I had to do next - I was running around the inside of the bank worried that the police were going to turn up, when in fact I should have been getting onto the automatic mop.  It controlled like a pig, too.

Wii U Transfer Tool: Nintendo's attention to detail

After backing up my Wii, so that I could restore everything afterwards, I transferred everything over to my new Wii U.  That's my new new Wii U, after the first one was replaced by Nintendo when it developed a fault after two weeks.

In order to transfer everything, you have to download a transfer tool on the Wii, which then packages everything up onto your SD card and transfers the licences to the Wii U.  It looks, on the home screen, a bit like a toaster.

The little pikmin are a sign of things to come.  Before they appear, though, there are some stark warnings.  Some of them are in red so you know they are important.

It's a shame that the Wii's Internet channels haven't survived.

I must get around to redownloading these.  I'm not sure I ever got around to playing escapeVektor.

Updated to make me actually play them, maybe?

Then, more red text and we can start.

Ooh, a big blue pool.  And pikmin.

Pikmin carrying toasters.

Pikmin carrying cardboard downstairs.

Purple pikmin and white pikmin seem to be able to carry the same weight.

Annoying they couldn't make the passageways straight.

No pikmin fell down the pit, as far as I saw.

The percentage counter went up pretty slowly.

I think that will be about 3kB, given how much of it I played.

TurboGRAFX games seem to be based in curving corridors.

That's been 90% for a long time now.

Ah ha, a rocket!

Which closed its door too early!

But luckily they saw little Peter Pikmin had been left behind, and let him on.

And off to the Wii U!

On which I have to do quite a bit of downloading.

And gaming.