Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fez: the world's too big

I've heard great things about Fez.  I've been recommended to buy it over and over again - so eventually I did.  And I've played it a few times now, but it feels like a constant effort to do so, because it's just too big.  Remembering where everything is is overly daunting, and I feel that I need to devote too much time to a game which I'm not really enjoying much.

I can appreciate the effort that's gone into the game, the platforming and world rotation is clever, and the whole package feels polished and complete.  I've tried to give it a fair chance because I know many others find it to be an astounding game.

Unfortunately, I don't.  I think I'd be more likely to play if it were portable, since there I have the free time, if not the notepad I fear is needed.  Maybe if it ever gets a Vita port.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pikmin 2: a disastrous day 4

As you can see from my to-do list, there are a number games that I want to play and complete before I move onto the next in the series.  I loved Pikmin, and completed it properly by playing through twice and getting all the rocket ship parts within thirty days.  I bought Pikmin 2 for the GameCube, and then never got around to playing it because I wanted to devote time to it.  I bought the original and the sequel when they were released on the Wii, and have bought the third game for the Wii U.  I've never played any of them.

Until now.  Spurred on by the blue Wii U game box sitting on the shelf mocking me, I've started to play New Play Control Pikmin 2 on the Wii.  Yes, actually on the Wii and not on the Wii mode of the Wii U, so that I can take screenshots and video through my component capture box.  One of the best things about the Wii U is the integration of Miiverse, and it's daft that you can't use that while running Wii games.

The Wii seems to output at a bit of an odd resolution which the capture box has difficulty with, but you get the idea.

I'd forgotten how freaky Olimar looks, but compared to other people on his home planet, he's positively plain-looking.

Louie's expressions in particular are pretty horrific, and I was pleased to get into the game with the lovely pikmin.

The idea of the game is to collect rubbish which has a high value back home, so that Olimar's boss won't have his business closed and all assets repossessed.  The SS Dolphin was already taken, and so Olimar and Louie travel back to Earth in a rickety old rocket which has a really annoying metallic twang every time it speaks.

While I'm talking about things that annoy, the font used to show the number of pikmin, the name of areas, the results of the day, and so on, is really ugly.  It's odd that there are two different fonts used, with one nice and neat and the other really scrappy.

The first piece of rubbish indicates that we could be looking at a heavily branded experience ...

... but luckily so far I've not found anything too bad, and most stuff is actually old Nintendo memorabilia, like a Game & Watch, Love Tester, or playing card.  There are, of course, other things that you can collect in order to spawn more pikmin.

On day 2 I went into the first cave, where time seems to stand still and there are treasures aplenty.  The caves are a bit dingy.

The aforementioned Love Tester was also in a cave, and the annoying rocket thing reckons he can use it to make a gauge of some sort.  That sounds like a waste of a good antique electronic device.

I was doing well until day 4, but I then went through a long cave and found a big bug at the end.  I threw loads of pikmin at him, and he then straightened out and started rolling from side to side.  Many pikmin were squashed almost immediately.

They shall not be forgotten.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Red Dead Redemption: completed!

While looking for beaver furs in the Northern regions, I noticed a new stranger mission open in Blackwater.  I met a government man who told me that Edgar Ross was living in a shack overlooking a lake.  Suddenly the lack of a previous ending made sense.  Don't read if you've not played ...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Dead Redemption: completed?

I'm up to around 70% of the game completed, and it feels like I've reached the end of the main storyline.  A pretty major character's death is a big sign of that.  If you don't know what I mean, and plan on playing the game at some point, don't read on ...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Trine 2: so pretty

Trine 2 is a platform puzzle game, which feels quite traditional in terms of how it plays and controls. Combat is a bit hit and miss, jumping isn't overly precise, the controls just feel a bit awkward.

But my, it's pretty.

It made me feel a little disappointed to start with, because the backstory references the first game a lot - which I've not played.  I don't even know which platforms it's for, but I shall investigate.  You're initially given control of a wizard, who controls with a bit too much momentum until you get used to anticipating needing to stop in advance.  He meets up with a knight and a thief, and from that point on you have to choose which character to control in order to get past obstacles.

The enemies are a bit generic, but provide a suitable challenge, and there have been many a time when I've had to run back to a checkpoint to revive a fallen team member.  Given this, the temple entrance was just a bit ominous.

A great boss fight inside, though.  I couldn't damage the snake directly, so had to jump onto the roof supports and then dodge his attacks, so that he brought the building crashing down on top of himself.

Simply progressing is easy enough, but there's an additional game hidden within, where you can try to get as many green orb things as possible.  Getting to some of them is very tricky, requiring good timing with the right character.  In the middle of the swamp, I found some pieces of pipe which could be put together to direct hot air into the water, which then formed bubbles I could stand on.  Doing so was tricky in itself, but the timing needed to jump from these to platforms was just overly fiddly.

I believe this is a pretty short game, so hopefully I'll get around to completing it at some point ...

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies: spacemen and robots

I must admit I've been a little confused as to the timing of the cases.  Case 1 was after the courtroom explosion.  Case 2 was when Athena first arrived.  Case 3 was Athena's first case lead.  Case 4 is back to around the explosion - the first part was before and leading up to the explosion, the second part is after (and given some of the internal monologue, it's after case 1 as well).  I think that's right.

Anyway, well into case 4 now, and I've managed to avoid any penalties for showing the wrong evidence.  I'm impressed with the way that game's taken the previous games' gimmicks - Apollo's bracelet, Phoenix's magatama - and added these to Athena's widget.  It makes it feel like a Mario game in some ways - new gameplay elements being used for very short periods then thrown away.  It does, however, mean that the game is much more linear - meaning that I'm likely to finish this much quicker than previous games in the series.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Red Dead Redemption: helping an old-timer

Concentrating on the story missions actually really helps to give the game focus, although I've not entirely stopped looking out for strangers and helping them out.  Indeed, I spent most of my last play session ferrying opium across Mexico, though I didn't know it at the time.  I was given $1000 to give to the seller; against my better judgement I did so, not wanting to get involved in the drugs trade in the first place.  I also cleared out another gang hideout that I chanced upon, although I died once doing so.

Dying seems to be a hindrance but nothing more - I'm not sure that I've lost any money from doing so.  I much prefer it this way, it mean that I'm much more willing to experiment in the world, and will stop to help people at the side of the road rather than just spurring my horse on past them.  It means that the game progresses more slowly, but that's not a problem here given the storyline that's being followed.  Yes, John Marsden wants to kill or capture Bill Williamson, but he wants to do it properly and there's no point rushing into a gunfight unprepared.

The story missions are really nicely varied in this, with decent checkpoints throughout and generally good reasons for existing within the story.  I've just helped to rescue Luisa with the help of Landon Ricketts, and then helped Luisa's sister to escape by taking her in a stagecoach to a waiting boat.   I also completed a long missions where i had to fight with the Mexican army up to a fort which had been overrun by bandits. I have now completed 46.4% of the game; hopefully I can continue to get through it at the same sort of pace.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wii Sports Club: 2006 as it should have been

Wii Sports was a fantastic game - back at the launch of the Wii, we played it more than anything else, and it continued to occupy me for some time afterwards.  Its inclusive nature means that it still gets brought out very often for social occasions (but less often since Nintendo Land came onto the scene), the most memorable time being when I beat Ken.

It's now been updated - or at least part of it has - with better visuals, online modes, and an extortionate price tag.  Luckily, of the five games included in the original Wii Sports, the two best are out already and there's no need to buy the other three.

I've spent a bit of time on both Tennis and Bowling - to the extent that my shoulders are aching.  Tennis sees the most obvious improvements, with motionplus giving much better control over the player, and online meaning that you can find a decent set of opponents to play against.

I've been starting with the offline mode to get into the swing of things, and amusingly the third game had me paired up against a couple of OAPs.  I beat them, just.

I've spent more time bowling, where the online leaderboards add a lot to the game.  Oddly, deKay posted a score of 214 to Miiverse, but the leaderboard showed him with a lower score.  I was incredibly annoyed when I scored three points less than his claimed score.

A couple of games later, though, I got the hang of the controls, and managed to get five strikes in a row, at the end of the game.

This meant that I ended up with a pretty good score.

The online modes for bowling are a little odd; you watch everyone else taking their turn and can send pre-programmed phrases offering encouragement, congratulations or commiserations.  As with tennis, any games you play are racked up in your 'club' score, and you define which club you wish to be a member of, theoretically by stating where you live.

I'm helping England South East here.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies: non-existent monsters

Just reaching the end of episode two; this is so far a great game with little emphasis on special powers, which spoilt the Apollo Justice game somewhat and were a bit tenuous in Justice For All and Trials & Tribulations. Athena's power is used very sparingly, just enough to break up the trial process, but it's not been used as yet as a way out of a dead end - at all times I've been able to see where the evidence would eventually point.

I wasn't a huge fan of the setting for the second episode, though.  It suffered from the fact that the game has been transferred from Japan to the US, but all the settings were unmistakeably Japanese and so the story had to crowbar in references to how the villages were modelled on Japanese styles, superstitions were Japanese, festivals were to celebrate Japan ... the overt use of superstitions and monsters also seemed pretty ludicrous at first, though of course that just meant that part of the game was spent with me trying to work out a way to show that there was no such thing as a monster called Tenma Taro.

Case three now, and I'm off to university as an eighteen-year-old girl.  I'm sure it's not possible to be a lawyer at that age ...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Blur: being hopeless

I still haven't worked out what an X5 multiplier is, so I skipped onto the next set of challenges and got bronzes and silvers on them all, but still didn't unlock the one-on-one challenge.  I have a feeling that the career of this game is going to be easier to complete by unlocking as much as possible, replaying events to gain more fans, unlocking faster and better cars, and going back to previous events to unlock the bosses.  That's fine other than the fact that some of the events are pretty difficult in themselves.

I'm seriously thinking about knocking the difficulty down to 'easy'.

The main reason I was playing this tonight was for multiplayer, though.  RLLMUK was organising a Blur revival night, but it never happened.  Instead I played a few races against randoms, which I comprehensively lost.  It wasn't until later on in the evening that I worked out how to use the handbrake to stop myself piling straight into barriers.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Red Dead Redemption: to Mexico!

Use of the in-game satnav has helped with the cliff issue, but I've now reached a point in the story where this is no longer an issue.  After a fraught crossing of the river by raft (during which I probably shot half the population of Mexico, I'm now running around areas of Spanish speakers and being attacked by bobcats.  I don't think there's a way at the moment for me to get back to the US side of the river, so I hope there's noting that I've missed out on over there.

The game is just a bit too expansive, really, and I'm slightly put off by the amount of side missions and other bits and pieces that I know I'm not going to find and complete. I've decided to not worry about this, though, and my primary aim is to complete the story, ignoring the trophy list and multitudes of icons on the map.  I do keep getting distracted by the strangers and herbs, though.

According to the Rockstar Social Club, I've now completed 36.8% of the game.  I'm not sure if that's just the main missions or everything.  Still some way to go, whatever.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Tomb Raider 3: awkward

I bought the entire Tomb Raider series on Steam a while ago, and I was inspired to play something after a short conversation with Sue on Twitter.
I never completed Tomb Raider 3, despite loving the first two, so this was an obvious thing to try. It took quite a while to get it working on my work laptop, and then configuring it to use the Xbox 360 pad took even longer.  I eventually settled an a scheme which meant I only needed to use the keyboard for crouching and walking slowly, and set off the the jungle.

The game looks a little rough nowadays, but that's not necessarily a bad thing given the paltry processing power of my laptop.  Rendering at 1280 x 800 meant that the game ran really smoothly; the cumbersome controls were a much bigger hindrance.  This was only part due to my inability to configure the 360 pad properly; the absence of a second stick to look around really hurts a game based around exploration.

It took a while to come across the first enemies.  I shot a monkey because I was convinced that he was looking at me funny; later on I realised that the monkeys only attack if attacked first.

That's not true of the tigers.  These took quite a few bullets to finish off, and bounded towards me very quickly.  Lara's not really a conservationist.

I got stuck on this bit for ages, mainly because the controls just weren't responsive enough for me to be able to pull the switch, turn around, and jump into the wall cavity before the big spiky wall killed me.

Despite the issues, it was fun to revisit the game.  As there doesn't seem to be a plan to remake TR2 and TR3 in the same way as Tomb Raider Anniversary, I may need to dig out my original PlayStation TR3 disc and play it on the PS3, which will overcome at least some of the control issues - plus, of course, in a month's time I'll be handing back this work laptop and have no idea if Steam will run on the next one.