Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mega Bomberman: completed!

Time is a great healer. I remember the underwater levels, the giant boxers on the last stages. I remember the final boss, with his dragon machine. What I wasn't expecting was the slowdown.

Particularly on the final level, with many enemies on screen, the start of the stage slows to a crawl. This makes it more difficult, since you can no longer judge well how long the bombs will take to go off. Instead, you have to learn times in terms of the distance you can walk.

Still, I managed to complete the game with a minimum of lives lost. I've completed it before of course; attached to the manual was a post-it note with a few passwords, the last of which was 0515 which corresponds to the final level.

I then moved onto the battle mode, and tried to remember what each type of louie does. The pink louie appears to dance.  I set the green bomber to be a fat one, and he won the first set of games and almost won the second. I snatched victory in the final game.

The Conduit: one-hit killed

I have still played relatively few first person shooters using the Wii remote, which is surprising when you consider how well it works. It's easy to aim at an enemy quickly, and as long as you fiddle with the sensitivity settings it can be much quicker to turn than a pad.

I enjoyed my time playing The Conduit's multiplayer, although I was hopeless. I'm pretty sure that a couple of the games I played were ruined by hackers - people who came into a room, survived a few headshots, and killed me with one shot. If they're not good enough to play properly, so be it.

I may well try the single-player game at some point.  It was great to see a vibrant community playing the game, and I hope that they can find another similar game to play going forwards. Maybe The Conduit 3 on Wii U …

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Battalion Wars 2: you sank my battleship

I had never played this.  I've played the first game on the Gamecube a bit, but not huge amounts.  I remembered it's a real-time strategy game where you control units directly.  What more did I need before launching myself online?

I decided to see if anyone was playing a cooperative game first, because that way I could try to ride on someone's coat tails while I learnt the controls.  This was a good idea; I didn't even understand the objectives to start with.

I took immediate control of a battleship, and started shelling the enemy ships.  This seemed to go well until my other units and my colleague's units started to get a bit too close to the enemy.  I think I sank one of my own ships before I worked out how to change which unit I was controlling.

Having been left with a solitary infantry unit, I was glad to be given reinforcements when I landed on the beach.

Many of them didn't last long either.  I was instead left to blunder through the level following my colleague in arms, and even that didn't go to plan.  I tried to help a little too much, and got all my units killed.  Luckily there were some prisoner of war camps nearby that my men were rescued from.

A final push up the hill, and I completed the mission.  Easy!

It's a really good game, actually - I just need to find some time to work my way through the single player modes of the first one before I tackle this.  Maybe some time in 2037.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection: a last hoorah

Pikmin 2 has taken a bit of a back seat for a while, as I was finally able to get hold of my Wii games from the loft and play through those that use NWC for an online connection.  Today, you see, is the last day of full service, with the closure of GameSpy taking NWC down with it.  Before it disappeared, I wanted to see what I would otherwise miss.

I'll write up some games in more detail over the next few weeks, but in general I was surprised to find that in all but one case I was able to find people to play against or with.  This, on a console thought to have the least active online community, in some cases on games that are seven or eight years old.  It has been quite a contrast to Xbox Live, say, where if you're playing a game older then a few months it's rare to see anyone else in the world.  This may well, of course, be due to people logging back in to play the games one last time before the server shutdowns, but still …

For some of these games it meant taking the wrapping off - they've been sat on the "to play" pile for years.  Battalion Wars 2 was really fun, and I suspect I'll go back to that (though I never completed the first game).  I was hopeless at The Conduit, though I did manage at least one kill.  Mario Strikers Charged Football is a great game, even though I did lose the first game 28-1 because I couldn't find the tackle button (and there was a fair amount of lag) - the second game was a loss too, but at 3-2 it's a bit more respectable.

A lot of my time has been playing Mario Kart Wii's time trial ghost challenge mode, where you get one attempt at beating a ghost that's downloaded (which has a time just ahead of your best time, I think).  It's incredibly addictive.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pikmin 2: almost paid off by day 34

I told you it was going slowly.  I have now completely cleared all treasures from the Valley of Repose, and almost all from Awakening Wood.  My total value collected stands at 9,895 wotsits, so the debt of 10,000 is well within reach.

Some of the caves have been tricky, mainly due to one or two areas where the combination of enemies makes it difficult to plan well.  However, I've found that returning to these levels normally has a higher success rate, so I'm guessing it's just a case of being more familiar with the territory.  In the Subterranean Complex, for example, I lost half my pikmin in the first few levels the first time I went down there, leading to an early escape, but on my second excursion ...

Collecting bulmin helped as well!

Completing the Subterranean Complex gave me a light bulb, which the robot space ship thing told me would be used to light up the caverns more.  I've not really noticed a difference.

The end boss of the Frontier Cavern was tricky - the Empress Bulblax returned but this time was giving birth to bulborbs throughout the level, making it tricky to even get to her in the first place.  The first time I battled her, I was left with only 14 pikmin at the end, but luckily some of those were purple and they were able to carry the treasure.

Day 32 was one of heavy casualties.

So, nearly finished.  I'm sure there's meant to be a fourth area on the selection screen - maybe it appears once I've paid off the debt?  I wonder if I will ever 100% complete this game ...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SigCorp Holiday Special: completed!

It seems that once the story for this little additional chapter had been completed, the developers decided they'd done enough and didn't bother to update To The Moon to link to it, or even add in any saving ability.  It's short enough to not need saving, but the fact that I didn't even know that it had been sitting on my hard drive for a few months indicates that there should have been some effort to integrate it into Steam.  Instead, I had to find the game folders on my hard drive and launch the game manually.

It's not much of a game, to be honest.  There's very little exploring to be done, and it's all very linear in giving you one task to do at a time.  To The Moon may have been similarly linear, but it didn't always feel like it.

After a brief explore of the facility, and learning that people are picketing outside, the game within a game provides a reasonable distraction, being a very basic and surreal version of the first game's story.  Piloting Neil through top-down levels, avoiding "zombievas", and collecting some of the memory triggers from River and John's story.  There was a bit of challenge here, but not much.

It was nice to see Neil and Eva again, and it's certainly renewed my interest in the next game.  I can't help but feel that it would have been better to release this at a later date though ...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sonic Dash: offputting microtransactions

Sonic Dash may be the best Sonic game for years - in that it's not trying to be anything other than a fast run through scenery.  It's an endless runner, with controls which match Sonic's standard abilities - jumping in a ball, rolling in a ball, and running fast.  You have to jump over, roll under or dodge obstacles, and roll into enemies to kill them.  From time to time there's an easy boss battle.

There's a bit of added complexity which sits behind the main game.  By completing missions, which vary from simple things like "collect 200 rings in a game" to difficult things like "avoid rings for 1000m", you can build up the multiplier applied to your score.  You can also double the multiplier by filling up the dash meter (the bar in the bottom-right, filled by collecting rings) and not activating it.  By doing this I now have an X38 multiplier, and my high score is 997,000 (compared to the next highest on my friends list of 67,000).

One thing to note that I couldn't find elsewhere on the Internet - one of the missions is to "use 5 revives in one run" which I assumed meant that you had to revive Sonic five times; since the number of tokens required doubles each time I assumed this meant I'd need 31 tokens.  Instead, the mission completed when I revived for the third time, which was annoying after I'd been saving up revive tokens for two weeks.

There are other bits to the game as well.  Over Easter there was a special event whereby collecting eggs randomly placed throughout the levels let you earn additional unlockables.  I managed to collect about 220 eggs over the period, which meant that I unlocked Cream the Rabbit.  Yes, real name.

So, all rosy.  The downside to the game is that it's full of microtransaction rubbish, where you spend rings to get new characters or upgrades, and collecting the rings in-game takes ages so you feel like spending real money to get more rings.  And it's not as if it's really hidden.

It's odd, I would happily have paid a few pounds for this game given how well it works and its production values, but I won't spend 69p on virtual currency in the game even though I got the whole game for free.  They're making significantly less money from me.