Thursday, July 31, 2014

Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition: completed!

OK, hardly the longest campaign or story mode, but it has taken me quite a while to beat.  I'm not great at SFIV - I was great at SFII on the Mega Drive with the 6-button pad, completing it with every character, but this is less straightforward.  I got the original SFIV ages ago and played through the arcade mode a few times, but Seth beat me constantly.  I was resigned to having to dial down the difficulty a bit if I wanted to win.

But I managed to beat Super SFIV on medium, with no continues, using Ken.  Seth is still a git, but I managed to defeat him, finally.  I then played through again using Zangief, who is pretty slow but handy with his spinning clothes line move.

And then I was delighted to find that the game automatically saves replays of your matches, so I was able to bask in glory at my defeats of Kieron [planneroftowns] and John [BadHead] (and ignore the matches where they won instead).

They didn't lose all the time, of course.  Sometimes they fought each other.

Gaming moments: E

Essential Sudoku DS (DS)

After competing 999 picross puzzles, there was one left.  Surely the pinnacle of difficulty, it's surely going to be a trophy or medal or something special.  Oh no, it's really easy and it's a pie chart.  A bloody pie chart.

Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360)
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (PS Vita)

Both games have many highlights, but the thing I will remember most is the mission in which you are sent into battle against the massive walking fortress.  I destroyed more of the city than the fortress did while trying to attack it, and finally the mission ends with you withdrawing because your weapons aren't powerful enough.  Sorry I broke the Space Needle for nothing, guys.

Exit (PSP)

One of the characters you have to rescue is very fat. I called him Fatty.  I pushed boxes onto him.  He died.

Ecolibrium (PS Vita)

Playing on the train, on the tutorial.  And then the game requires me to look around 180 degrees with my Vita to see the animals behind me.  Not going to happen; never loaded up again.

Endless Ocean (Wii)

I recently went back to this as part of the "Au Revoir Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" drive, which was pointless as the only online mode it has is to connect to a friend who is simultaneously playing the game; that will never have happened.  Anyway, during my brief play I watched the most stilted and awkward cutscene ever made.

EyeToy: Play (PS2)

Accompanying the cleaning suds game with "When I'm Cleaning Windows" was a work of genius. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaming moments: D

Dear Esther (Mac) 

The end sequence will probably stay with me for a long time - but only when combined with the crash scene and hospital bed at the bottom of the cave.

Dancing Stage (arcade)

I only played this a couple of times, at the Trocadero.  The machine felt huge, and even before getting on the platform you felt energised by the lights and colours.  I had seen someone playing already, so knew what to expect, but the first time that two arrows came up the screen at the same time still threw me off guard.  Unfortunately none of the home versions quite hit the same spot, partially because of crappy dance mats.

Daytona USA (arcade)

A four-player cabinet at the bowling alley in Bexleyheath.  I had just learnt to let the back drift out and powerslide around the corners, and overtook my friend John doing so.  He shouted at me that it wasn't a powerslide, just a lucky skid.  So I did it again the next race.

Desert Strike (Mega Drive)

I actually remember this more from my playthrough on the PSP, given the use of save states which allowed me to actually complete the game. There were a number of memorable points, but the best was chasing the madman across the map in his speedboat at the end of the penultimate level.  I was raining missiles on the speedboat the whole time and it didn't explode.  Of course not; where would the last level come in if that happened?

Donkey Konga (GameCube)

The instructions speeding up a few bars into Don't Stop Me Now.  We played this again recently, and it's still great.

Doshin the Giant (GameCube)

I played this when it was first released, back in 2002, to completion. I can remember very little of it now, other than the moment when I first realised you could pick up and throw villagers.  I did it many times and they all hated me, so I had to restart the day.

DLC Quest (PC)

Three points:
  1. Being unable to move left at the start of the game, and audio cutting out.  I thought the game was broken; evidently not. 
  2. Meeting an NPC called Phil at the end of a long cave, who informed me that he was just there to fill space. 
  3. The ending of the game not actually being the ending of the game unless you buy some DLC and finish it. 
Driver (PS)

I have never completed the last level because it was just too hard. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Disney Infinity: searching for the game

I'm not sure what to make of this, really.  There was a very long and convoluted start, where I was introduced to the idea of sparks and had to guide a glowing orb through a world which took ages and ages, with a fixed camera and many places to get stuck.  The controls felt awful, and I hoped that it was just the vagueness of the character that led to this disconnect from the ground.

Sadly not; soon after my character took shape, and I was given control of the camera - which actually made it worse, as the game makes no attempt at all to move the camera to a useful viewpoint.  If you turn your character and shoot your gun, you would hope that the camera would swing around so you could see what you're shooting at ... no such luck.

Finally, after an absurdly long introduction, I reached Mickey dressed as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, who led me through an undulating landscape and had me grab onto a pole - which turned out to be the flagpole of the classic opening castle.

What's more, it turns out that this castle is the centrepiece for the free roam playground which is just generally empty.  Empty, that is, apart from the voice that crops up every five seconds telling you that you've unlocked things and there's another tutorial and people are stuck and and and and oh just shut up.

I went through a couple of the tutorials and then tried some of the adventures, which seemed to be just minigames with little depth.  I've not actually tried the play set modes yet, so may need to give that a go.  At the moment it all seems just a bit empty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Goat Simulator: er, what?

What indeed.  You're a goat, you can do tricks like in a skateboarding game, you can lick things and headbutt things and destroy things.

You can wear a crown.  It's daft.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gaming moments: C

Civilisation Revolution (Xbox 360)

I had expanded across the map, and suddenly I was attacked on three
sides by the Aztecs and two other nations. In one turn they halved my
forces, and during my turn I could do little to bring it back - I rushed
production of units on all my cities but my forces were still depleted.
Defeat seemed likely. But then the Aztecs spent their next turn
attacking one of my tank units with everything they had, all weakened
from the previous battles, and my tank held on to defeat them all. The
other two nations started to attack each other. In my next turn I was
able to push through and capture the Aztec capital and further defend,
leading to an eventual victory. Magic tank.

Crackdown (Xbox 360) 

I had almost completed the game before I realised you could get cars
delivered to the garage. I managed to drive the SUV up the side of the
boss tower and then jump it off - rather amazing.

Chu Chu Rocket (Dreamcast)
My first ever online game, and I won the first match. It was tricky to
adapt to the one-second delay on inputs, but it was that which led to victory in the end - I had placed a tile to my rocket which my opponent simultaneously directed the mice to.

Castle of Illusion (Mega Drive)

I remember Colin bringing his new MD to my house, and being in awe at
this game.  We played it for hours and got pretty far - and then he had
to go home.  He called me the next day to tell me he'd completed the game.

Conker's Bad Fur Day (Nintendo 64)

I am the great mighty poo and I'm going to throw my shit at you!

Crazy Taxi (Dreamcast)

That huge hill at the start of the game, after you'd picked up a woman
at the tram stop.  Crazy boosting all the way down, ready to drift to a
stop at the bottom, slightly to the left, where you were dropping your
passenger off.  That's not my memory though - my memory is of the time
when my drift was too little, and my taxi ended up stuck in the wall
within the drop-off area, racking up huge bonuses as the game continued
my drift for a good two minutes.  The ungrateful woman told me I was
late - but she could have got out at any time.

Conflict: Desert Storm (Gamecube)

I played through this and its sequel with John and Kieron during
multiple gaming days.  The followup, Conflict Vietnam, suddenly removed
the southpaw options from the game, which meant two of us couldn't
control it.  Idiots. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Dear Esther: completed!

I started this a few times but never devoted enough time to see it through - my previous work computer stuttered horribly with it as well.  I tried running it on my seven-year-old iMac and it works wonderfully, even at high resolutions.  Huzzah.

And I played through the whole game in one sitting - I'm not sure, in fact, if there is a save mechanism.  Or, indeed, a game - it is very much an interactive novel, with the story told by narration over the top of the exploration.  Sure, there are some hints to find across the island and some of the things you see constantly make you question whether this is a hallucination or dream, but you can't influence the story in any way, or die; you can only trigger the next part of the story by walking far enough.

It's a complex story as well, and by the end I think I'd figured out a decent interpretation of it.  I believe that your character is lying in a coma, desperate to tell Esther about the circumstances of the car crash which you were both involved in.  The island doesn't exist other than as a construct of your mind - there being no way off indicates the way you are trapped without hope of recovery.  Quite bleak for a game, but continuing the theme of To the Moon nicely.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Gaming moments: B

Bangai-O: Missile Fury (Xbox 360)

Having played both Bangai-O and Spirits, I was expecting many missiles.  The sheer size and number of projectiles when I first launched a MAX attack stays with me, as well as the slowdown, half of which I'm sure was fake.

Bayonetta (Xbox 360)

I am hopeless at the game itself - but I will never forget the car's radio playing Outrun music in the cutscene after the prologue.

Beyond Good & Evil (Xbox)

The final upgrade to your hovercraft ... and suddenly you have a spaceship.  Having become familiar with the world over a number of hours, being torn away to pursue the final fight was unsettling.

Bishi Bashi Special (PS)

ATTENTION!  Matt didn't read the instructions, and failed time and time again.

Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons (PS3)

Calling upon the bravery and spirit of the elder brother to cross the water. An astounding statement made with no words.

Broken Sword (PS)

Unbelievable slowdown when reaching the desert town. I gave up and played the PC verion a couple of years later.

Black (Xbox)

Having made it to the end of the game, the last corridor and boss were just too difficult.  I never completed it and resent the whole thing to this day. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Populous: the Beginning: an enforced restart

The best game ever?  I have often wondered if that was just nostalgia talking, with the game's sublime mix of action and strategy existing only in my memory.  I've been without a means to play Populous: the beginning for some time now, but a recent promotion let me rebuy it for £2.50 with various patches to allow it to play on modern machines.

Or, at least, that was the idea.  In order to run the game I need to delve into the game directories and find one of the executables, rather than running from the installed shortcut.  Most annoying.  Anyone else who's having issues, look for a file called popTB.exe and run that - you'll need admin rights though.

Unlike most PC games, it's well worth putting up with the game being a little unstable.  The game is as good as I remember it, if not better - the carefully balanced strengths and weaknesses of each character really shines after all this time.

Of course, I had no access to my previous saved games, so I have had to restart.  I initially had difficulty getting past the fifth level - Death From Above - because I didn't notice the timer in the corner of the screen, but soon cracked that.  After that it's been relatively plain sailing, with only a couple of restarts.

I have grown to hate preachers once again, because they have the ability to completely stop an attacking party.  In response I overcompensate by training too many preachers of my own, and as a result don't have enough attacking power.

In the last level I played, Fire in the Mist, I was constantly attacked and had to contend with a volcano near the start of the level.  Still, it made a good platform for a lookout post.

Gaming moments: A

This isn't the same as gaming memories - this is about discrete moments in games.  Moments like these:

Aladdin (Mega Drive)

After playing through a number of platform levels, each of which accompanied by music from the film, you get placed on a flying carpet for a section entitled "rug ride".  It's an automatic scrolling level, which speeds up over time to the point where you are almost required to memorise the level - but not quite.  The music that plays is an original composition for the game, and fits perfectly with the acceleration. You get to the end, and realise that for the last ten seconds of the level you've been holding your breath ... but you survived, and you are five lives up.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)

Not the big oozium level, which is the part of the campaign I can remember, but Twin Isle, one of the war room maps.  Twin Isle was in Advance Wars 2, but it never seemed a stumbling block there.  In AWDS, however, something about the balance had changed and I played that one map for weeks just trying to get an A grade.  I managed it, after working out a wonderfully elegant solution, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360)

You get towards the end of the game and suddenly you're in Venice.  And it really is Venice - I've been a couple of times and I recognised it immediately.  There have been few occasions when I've felt such a sense of location.