Saturday, October 24, 2015

Just Cause: just about playable

I have had Just Cause sitting in a variety of places for a while - in the PS2 games box in the loft, in my Steam library on my PC, and on my Xbox 360 shelves - but despite the fact that I've heard it to be great fun and the sequel is an amazing sandbox experience, I've never played it.  Until now.

I decided to play the PS2 version, since my PS3 (which is backwards-compatible) was set up and my 360 wasn't (due to the Wii being plugged in to the component inputs for Luigi's Mansion; yes, it's complicated).  The opening cinematics looked pretty awful, but once I got control of my character I was quite impressed by the scale of the game and its vision.  Parachuting down to the island was a pretty spectacular start, and once I transitioned into running along the beach and stealing a car, I could see that there were clear open-world GTA influences at play.

Unfortunately, the PS2 was a bit underpowered for such a grand vision.  The framerate was, at times, awful - to the extent that I actually had to run away and stand still for the console to catch up.  This was not helped by the controls which were not nearly customisable enough, and felt very imprecise.

That's not to say I didn't have fun.  After a while I was given a grappling hook, with which I could grab onto cars and paraglide behind them.  That was good fun for a while, and useful on a mission where I had to destroy a car and take the place of the now-dead dignitary.  The main issue with the game was a lack of a sense of urgency; you are going to kill a dictator and free the island, sure, but there was little spurring you on to do this, and the game was almost too non-linear with no clear sense of direction.

If I go back to it it would be on the 360, but I may skip to the sequel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Alleyway: completed

I remember always wanting to buy Alleyway, as it had an exciting cover evoking memories of Super Breakout, but at the time I didn't have a Game Boy.  By the time I got a handheld of my own (excluding my Mum's Game Gear, that would be the Game Boy Colour I bought on launch day from WH Smith in Bristol, just before I caught the coach back to London for the weekend) Alleyway was old news, a relic from a simpler time.

Simple it is.  I finally got a copy for free through the Club Nintendo stars catalogue last month, and I've been playing through it since.  Being able to suspend and resume play is a luxury that the original didn't have, but even with that it's disturbing how easy it is.

I did appreciate the way that levels were varied, with static levels followed by the same levels with progressing blocks, and the same levels with blocks scrolling across the screen.  I found the powerups to be pleasantly understated and useful.  I liked the bonus levels that popped up where the blocks didn't stop your bat and you just had to clear them in the time limit.

But that doesn't take away from the fact that on my first playthrough of the game, I completed it with seven lives left.  I'd have been a bit annoyed about that if I had bought it for £30 back when it first came out.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Luigi's Mansion: completed!

Yes! After only twelve years, it's done!  And people said it was a short game!

In fairness, it is a short game, and not overly difficult, but it's actually significantly longer than, say, the single-player components of most Call of Duty games.  It's infinitely more charming and fun.  Overall, the game took me about 9 hours to complete, and that was including a bit near the end where I ran around the whole house trying to find the last few boos.  I had collected most of them through normal play, but there were some hidden in Level 1 rooms which I had completed before acquiring the scanner.

The game continued to be inventive, the the last moment.  Puzzles were rare and because of this they threw me - having to freeze a stream to cross it was used in only one place, and was an elegant way to prevent early progress.  Although the game was actually very linear, it didn't feel like it.

The final boss battle was the hardest part of the game by far.  I wasn't expecting Bowser ...

... but it wasn't him, anyway.  It took me a couple of attempts, but finally he was defeated (with me on minimal health).  I actually remembered to capture it on my video box for once.

So, game completed and Luigi happy for a while.  Having seen what he went through, I'm not surprised he's so aggressive in Mario Kart 8.