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Rogue Legacy (Vita): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nefn2sh6zb1svmpf2o1_1280My first completed Vita game! And probably my last, seeing as I don’t see myself ever playing on it again. Rather like my PSP, actually.

But the game, though, was fun. The just one more go factor was extremely high, and the need for greed too strong to just go for the win too early. So many attempts at finding a new boss to beat ended up becoming treasure runs, and once I’d unlocked Spelunker as a character class, I chose them whenever possible.

tumblr_nev5ge1rom1svmpf2o1_1280Eventually, I thought I’d best have a pop at the final boss. It dawned on me that the further I progress, the harder he’s likely to be. I don’t know how the game levels up with you, but I was guessing that fighting him at a low-ish level, then levelling up (and trying again), would be better than fighting him at a higher level after levelling up. I’ve no idea if I was right, but having failed a lot of times to defeat “The Fountain”, and then improving my stats a big chunk and trying again, I found him much easier.

With him gone, the credits rolled and the castle reset for a New Game +. I had a quick go, and found that all the harder baddies you came across deeper in the castle in the “normal” game were now front and centre, and my incredible (or so I thought) stats were barely enough to make it through half a dozen rooms. I don’t think I’ll try to complete it, but should the Vita somehow turn itself on in the future, I’m sure I’ll poke at it again for a while.

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Things I’ve been playing recently

It’s a been a little while since I posted, so a round-up of recent gaming adventures…

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Best_Almost 50 hours have been spent on this now. It’s such an addictive game, and considering how few level maps there are (maybe 10?) there’s so much actual game content and variety. With loads of weapons still to unlock, and several characters still mostly unused, never mind a yet-to-be-started Master Quest mode, there’s a lot left to do.

Most recently, I’ve been trying to rank up Zelda, as there’s a mission in the bottom left corner of the map that I need her to A-rank in order to both get a new weapon, and to open up another section of map with another new weapon in. I’ve managed AAC and ABB a few times, but even though she’s level 42 now, she is still too weak to deal with some of the harder captains quickly enough.

StreetPass Garden (3DS)

These few remaining plants are proving to be somewhat elusive. Even when I’ve had a seed with an 80% chance of growing into a new species, I’ve ended up with something I’m already drowning in. Still, at least I’m making  a lot of money selling useless plants and seeds. Not that there’s anything left to spend it all on!

Ratchet & Clank (Vita)

tumblr_ne865ae88u1svmpf2o1_1280Lets just ignore that V word there shall we? I made a mistake and want to move on without much comment or fuss.

Well, someone noticed I’d acquired said handheld, and generously sent me a download code for the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy for it (and the PS3 – it seems to be cross-buy). I’ve put about an hour into the first game, and… it’s rubbish.

Sorry, but it is. Yes, I know it’s a PS2 game so is a platformer from a different time when this sort of thing was common and acceptable, but it’s dire. Graphically, it’s improved over the PS2 (or, at least, it seems to be), but the camera controls are terrible and the characters soulless and forced. Yet another anthropomorphic animal? Didn’t we tire of those in the late 90s? (Answer: yes, we did).

The platforming itself is rubbish, with jumps requiring guesswork and an unreliable double-jump. There doesn’t appear to be a character shadow to see where you’re going to land, either. Your ranged weapon targeting system is broken, as it automatically locks onto who it decided you want to kill, not necessarily who is in front of you or nearest. Didn’t Zelda teach the devs anything about how lock-on should work? (Answer: clearly not).

I’ve spent more time fighting the game than fighting the baddies, and that’s not a good thing at all. Maybe the sequels are better?

Tearaway (Demo) (Vita)

Apparently the saviour of the Vita. I fail to see how. It’s a dull platformer (sort of) with Daddy Pig chatting all over it. A lovely graphical style with unnecessary and nonsensical rear-touchpad bodgery, many seemingly optional tasks which are devoid of fun or purpose (throw the boxes into the hoops? Joy.), and worst of all frequent appearances of my actual disapproving face in the sun, like I’m the baby in Tellytubbies.

I’m really not surprised, as I very much disliked Media Molecule’s previous efforts with Little Big Planet, and although this beats it in style and form, matches it in tedium and disappointment.

Lumines (Vita)

tumblr_ne5q0nx3kr1svmpf2o1_1280It’s Lumines. Apart from the little face in the bottom left corner which does… something when you poke it, and some different colour combinations and music, it’s the same as the 360 Arcade game from many years ago. Which is fine, actually.

I’ve not played it a lot, but it plays well and the music is nice and I’m not very good at it. So much like the other version then, really.

Rogue Legacy (Vita)

tumblr_nea43b9cbk1svmpf2o1_1280Oh so good!

I’d heard this was eventually probably coming to the Wii U, so would have waited for that, but instead bought it from PSN for the Vita (and PS3, I then found out – needn’t have bothered with this Vita after all…). It plays like a Castlevania Roguelike, where you’re a knight who infiltrates a castle for treasure and, er, probably something else. When you die, you’re dead, but you get to try again as one of your children who inherits your stats and money.

Unfortunately, in order to enter the castle again, you have to pay a toll equal to your entire stash of gold. Boo! Thankfully, you’re able to spend your inheritance before then on stat and equipment boosts, as well as unlocking new abilities and character classes.

It’s very “just one more go”, and never frustrating despite the number of deaths (30+ now for me) and having to start over every time. I’ve just unlocked the ability to boost my loot gathering and also reduce how much I have to pay for another go, but haven’t managed to buy anything in each ability slot yet. I’ve also faced at least three different bosses, some more than once, who have all been completely overwhelming. I suspect I need to play a bit longer and boost my skills and stuff before trying again.

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Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_ndjhn4svpf1svmpf2o1_400On the one hand, this is a perfectly serviceable Metroidvania style game with meaty Batman Arkham type combat and a story to follow on from the Arkham Origins game. On the other hand, it’s a 2D game that tries to fit into a 3D space, with the plane you’re on frequently changing and disorientating you, and a map that serves to confuse as much as direct.

Detective Mode returns, but is rarely sufficient to show where to go or what items are “suspicious” enough to blow up or hit with a batarang. No, you have to hold a “soft” button on the touch screen and scan the area for things. The entire game turned into move along a screen, scan the entire screen, repeat, with puzzles or fights taking a back seat.

tumblr_ndplntadjb1svmpf2o1_400Sometimes even scanning stuff isn’t enough. A rusty hatch is described as “may break off its hinges with enough force”. Which do you use? Your batclaw to pull it down? Your explosive gel to blow it off? No – your batarang. Obviously. Later, another similarly described hatch needs gel instead. Another time, the claw. Or a fan, which is “possible to stop with explosive”, only you actually need the second gel upgrade. It makes you wonder if you’re doing it wrong, or if you just don’t have the right tool yet.

tumblr_ndploeotfz1svmpf2o1_400Overall, though, it was fun. The actual game bits proper, and some of the boss fights, are excellent. The hacking sections and complicated level layouts were not. Oh, and the bit you have to do after beating the last of the three main foes? Meaning you have to run round pretty much the whole map again? That wasn’t great. Perhaps if a bit more time had been spent trimming the fat, even if it meant cutting the length of the (already pretty short) game down a bit, that may have helped. As it is, it was well worth the reduced entry fee, but with hindsight I’m glad I didn’t pay full price.

This_is_a_silly_game.

Blok Drop U (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Well_that_was_easy.__blokdropuI was able to get hold of a free copy of this from someone, and felt a little guilty I hadn’t spent the feeble 89p or whatever it usually costs. Having played it, though, I’m not any more.

It isn’t a bad game at all, but it suffers from two problems: It’s too random, and it’s too short.

The idea is to tap on grey blocks, making all of them disappear, leaving a single red block balanced somewhere without it falling of the bottom of the screen. For the first few levels, it’s mostly puzzle based – remove the blocks in a specific order to make the red one fall as you need it to. After that though, there’s a clear idea of how you’re supposed to finish the level, but the sliding and falling and bouncing is too random. You can do almost the exact same sequence of taps several times in a row and get completely different outcomes. By the end, it just becomes luck or perseverance as to whether you win or not.

And the end comes far too quickly. There are only 30 levels, with each taking less than a minute to complete, even if you have to try multiple times. The game isn’t even long enough to allow you to review it on the eShop – you have to hit an hour’s play to do that! There’s zero replayability too, so little chance of me reaching an hour. How hard could it have been to double or triple the number of levels?

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StreetPass Battle (3DS): COMPLETED!

Finally! After $hlmun attempts at beating the Emperor in the final country, I won! Why did it take so many attempts? Because it’s entirely down to luck whether you win or not.

You see, unlike the previous battles where you can choose how many of each type of army to use, and the order to send them out (and the ability to spy on the enemy to find out what they’re going to send out), the final battle is five random Rock, Paper, Scissors fights. You’ve no way of knowing what the Emperor is going to choose, and each time either of you wins a fight, the other person loses half their entire army. Since the Emperor starts with more than twice as many soldiers as you, you’re already essentially two fights down.

And when you lose overall, so many of your soldiers run away that you have to spend several days racking up StreetPass hits again to replenish your soldiers enough to try again.

Having only managed to win, at most, one of the five fights on every single attempt, my final battle was four wins and a draw, easily besting him. Phew!

No. I won’t be playing the “after game” content. And once I’ve got all 80 plants in StreetPass Garden (I’m up to 75) I can put StreetPass Plaza to rest for a bit and actually play some “real” 3DS games again!

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Hyrule Warriors (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Link__He_go_to_town__He_go_to_save__The_Princess_Zelda_I hope my B, and to a slightly lesser extent, Y buttons are OK. In my twelve hours running through the main Legend Mode campaign, I’ve pressed them rather a lot. I don’t think they’re worn out, but not since I played one of those “shooting watch” games have I hit a button so many times. Mash mash mash mash mash.

BBY. BBBY. BBBBY. Other variations, peppered with ZR (bombs, usually) and the odd X to pull off a special attack or (rarely) A to dodge. And block? Blocking is for girls. In fact, I didn’t even realise there was a block until I’d nearly finished the game. Once more, “There’s a block button?” returns. Apparently, pressing R triggers your magic and makes you do fancier attacks for a bit. I used it once, I think.

That_s_no_moonSounds repetitive, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Well, it is, obviously, but it never feels like you’re doing the same thing over and over. You keep being pulled away to rescue or defend elsewhere on the map, or you have to swap secondary weapon to deal with a different foe, or you might need to run away for a bit and find some hearts. Or escort a bombchu. Or take down a massive boss who requires more skill than random button bashing achieves. And sure, you revisit the same locations several times, but the situation is different. Sometimes you’re a different character (and they all perform differently), or you have new tasks, so it never feels like a rehash.

WhatImportantly, it is a lot of fun. Swording/hammering/harping (really) your way through massive swathes of foes, knocking out 10, 20, 50 – even 100 – in one combo will never, ever get old or tiring.

Add to that the collection addiction where you collect weapons and materials that baddies drop to better your defences and attacks, adding new combo moves and perks, and even replaying missions isn’t a chore.

YES_I did spend a little while on the NES Zelda-inspired Adventure mode, both between missions on the main mode and after completing the game, and it too is pretty fantastic. And huge. You’re given smaller missions where you have to defeat only certain enemies, take down a certain number in a time limit, and assorted other challenges, but there are loads of them. How well you do determines which areas of the map you open up too, so you need to perform well rather than just win if you want to open up everything.

Now I’ll work my way through that, while I wait for the DLC, all four pieces of which I’ve already pre-ordered…

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD (PS3): COMPLETED!

It seemed very hurried towards the end. Years were skipped. Very little story exposition happened. Events just occurred in quick succession, and I realised how linear this Assassin’s Creed game actually was.

I’d started to suspect a twist at the end, and by the end of Sequence 7-ish I’d realised what it was. The ending threw me, until (spoiler), and the Citizen E thing happened.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad game, but it’s probably the worst Assassin’s Creed title in a long while. Even without the boats. It’s just a shame that it was so short, so linear, and so disjointed, as the actual assassining was enjoyable. The PS3 pad didn’t help either, I suppose.

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Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Um (1)For many years I’ve lamented how the the 3D Zelda games (that is to say, those that aren’t top down rather than those you play with glasses) are, well, pants. Over my time as a gamer, I’ve never got into the Samurai/Dynasty Warriors series. I’ve played a few, and even bought the 3DS one, but stopped there.

So why did I have a moment of weakness and buy a download code for Hyrule Warriors, a combination of all that is bad about Zelda games and a game series I couldn’t be more meh about? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did because it’s bloody awesome.

Fans of games known as “Musou” (at least, known as that to nerds who propagate the idea the series is niche and, well, non-Japanophile gamers wouldn’t like it) will see this is little more than a Zelda skinned example of the genre. Battlefields filled with forts, allies, and more enemies than a feeble little Nintendo console should really be able to cope with – let alone with no slowdown, and generals to defeat.

To_smack_or_not_to_smack_a_CuccoOnly with Zelda clothes on, these battlefields are areas like Hyrule Field and Death Mountain. The allies are Impa and Sheik. The enemies are ripped straight from Zelda games, and the generals, instead of being historical samurai warriors, are bosses Link has previously defeated in “normal” Zelda titles. Massive bosses, in some cases. And cuccos. Yay!

Gameplay is just like in Warriors, where you take ground by capturing forts and regions, lose ground by not paying attention to what’s going on elsewhere in the map, and your allies run round doing the same with not the best AI in their heads. Ultimately, you can’t rely on them to do anything, so sometimes you need to abandon your current objective to save their hide – again – before returning to the task at hand.

A Zelda twist is that you can pick up secondary weapons from treasure chests (complete with obligatory DA DA DA DAAAAH). These are instantly recognisable: Bombs, Boomerang, Bow, Hookshot, and so on. You can probably guess the rest. You can also play as any of your allies instead of just Link, and you recruit more warriors as you progress in the game. Additionally, there’s a crafting part to the game where you can upgrade and enhance your weapons, and choose new perks and abilities, for the price of some materials that enemies drop and a bag of rupees.

Somehow, it manages to feel just like Zelda without actually playing anything like any Zelda game before it. Which is A Good Thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, I’m only about 4 or 5 hours in at the moment, so there’s still time for everything to head south, but what would appear to be a repetitive button masher is actually an addictive and surprisingly varied action title. More of this sort of thing with your game serieses, please Nintendo.

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD (PS3)

On the PS3, you say? Am I mad, you ask? Yes, and possibly yes. In my defence, I had a load of PSN credit and it was on sale. And I’d been playing and enjoying Assassin’s Creed IV. So it made a bit of sense.

Currently, I’m about half way through the game (just returned from Mexico, for those in the know), and I’ve noticed that the game seems about half finished. No, those are two different things. What I mean is, it’s ugly and broken and they forgot to include a load of stuff. Missions are disjointed, with little reason or backstory (bar the odd loading screen info box). There are so many bugs where events don’t trigger or targets vanish completely, making progression impossible and a reload necessary. The graphics are muddy and blurry, like this is a Wii version of an Xbox 360 game.

Yes, I know it’s a port of a Vita game, but it’s supposedly an enhanced port with HD graphics. What they seem to have done is upscaled everything and applied a blur filter. Aveline’s three personas are unnecessary and stupid, and making one of her first missions literally a trip to buy a dress from a shop? Team AC don’t like women, do they?

Still, there aren’t any boat bits (well, no driving boats anyway, unless a canoe counts) and I love the modified return of the rope darts. I can’t really cope with the PS3 pad though, especially QTEs (this is not a new issue for me, though) and holding up on the stick for more than three seconds physically hurts. I’ll be glad when it’s all over, frankly.

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Mega Man 4 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Four_the_winAnd so the steamrollering of Mega Man games continues. Once again, eight evil robots stood between Mega Man and Dr… wait – Cossack? Not Dr Wily? That can’t be right?!

Spoilers: No, it isn’t right. Turns out rubbish Russian stereotype Dr Cossack was merely Dr Wily’s pawn, working for him as Wily had kidnapped Cossack’s Ushanka-wearing daughter (more stereotyping). Tch.

Impossible (12)Robot ideas are running low now. Toad Man? Pharoah Man? Dust Man?! Rubbish. Oho! That’s a joke by the way. Dust Man is literally a vacuum cleaner who shoots rubbish at you. Pharoah Man is the easiest baddie of any kind (minion or boss or otherwise) in any game ever created ever, once you use Bright Man’s weapon, which freezes him allowing you to just keep hammering shoot. Also: “Bright Man”? Terrible name.

Sigh.Mega Man 4 follows three Mega Man trends that I’ve noticed. The first is “add more stuff”. In 4, Mega Man’s Mega Buster has a charge shot. Something I thought he’d always had, until I started this adventure into playing all of the NES titles.

Secondly, Mega Man 4 is even bigger than the previous game. Again. As well as the main robot levels, you then have Dr Cossack’s castle, followed by Dr Wily’s castle.

WinrarFinally, once more the game has become significantly easier. Specifically, in the bosses. Ring Man was hard, but every other boss was waaay easier than those in the earlier games. The final bosses were a laugh to beat too. I don’t even think it’s just that I’m getting better either.

Onto 5 then. Scores so far: 4 > 3 > 2 > 1. Nice to see constant improvement, Capcom!

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Mega Man 3 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Waiddaminnit_what_s_this_sorceryThree down, three to go. Well, NES Mega Man games, anyway. They just announced the SNES Mega Man 7 is in the pipeline for the Wii U Virtual Console, so it won’t be over so soon.

Mega Man 3 adds some new stuff to the series. The main thing, which had me stumped in a room until I realised, was you can now slide. This lets you squeeze under stuff, and is useful for avoiding certain attacks. The vaguely named items (1, 2 and 3) from Mega Man 2 have been replaced with the Rush devices – a dog who can be used as a spring, a moving platform, and a submarine, the latter of which is used for all of about twelve seconds in the entire game.

Impossible (11)The game is also quite a lot longer than previous ones. There are still 8 Robot Masters, but once you beat them you have to replay remixed versions of four of their levels, complete with cloned robot masters from the older Mega Man games. The “Dr Wily stages” are next, and they’re longer too. That golum thing reappears too.

tumblr_nbswmugt0v1svmpf2o1_1280In general, it’s easier again than Mega Man 2, with the final boss being a complete walkover. I do wonder if the decline in difficulty is going to continue in the series?

Anyway. 3 > 2 > 1, if you’re keeping score.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Another_not-Assassin_s-Creed_activityAnd with what seemed like a dash for the finish, the story blundered to a close. The second half of the game consisted mostly of actual assassinations, thankfully, but the boating was still there. Another rubbish element was introduced too – the diving bell missions which controlled horribly and you had to hide in seaweed from sharks. No, really. Rubbish.

ObserveLuckily, there was just one of those, and the rest were optional. I optioned not to bother with any more. Very few of the side missions attracted me at all, truth be told, and there were too many small locations rather than a few large locations which meant item collecting was more travelling and less rooftop running, so I couldn’t be bothered with that either.

The “modern day” plot reveal was seen from a billion miles off. “John from IT” indeed. And NO ACTUAL WAY! Edward has a son called Haytham? SPOILERS! The Observatory was a little like the area Desmond and Co set up in during ACIII but more rubbish. And somehow someone I actually killed managed to survive his wounds? Despite being dead? Stupid.

And_done.Having said all that, and as I mentioned before, the actual real proper Assassin’s Creed bits were pretty great. Overall, I enjoyed the game a lot more than III, but I hope Unity is more a return to earlier games in terms of missions and stuff. It certainly looks it. Not that I have a machine I can play it on. As for Rogue, which seems more of the same as shown in III and IV, I’m not convinced I want it. We’ll see.

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Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nb4vmw3lq21svmpf2o1_1280It can’t be two and a half years since I last played this. Surely. I’m sure I’ve played it more recently. Maybe I did, but didn’t mention it.

This playthrough had a rare occurrence! Usually, when I reach the final level, I have nobody to beat and just instawin. You see, in the last few epochs, you’re supposed to hibernate some of your men so they’re around for the final battle.

tumblr_nb4vkmbrdp1svmpf2o1_1280Your rival gods are supposed to do the same, but they almost never do, meaning you reach the end fight and have nobody to fight against. This time, though, I had someone to beat!

And that took ten seconds as I had ten times as many men. One day, Mega-lo-Mania! One day you’ll beat me!

Or won’t.

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StreetPass Mansion (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_naxhzlzddd1svmpf2o1_1280With my Windbag of Woe +2 almost maxed out (I got it to level 28 of 29), I didn’t see much point in pursuing more treasure chests. Not least because I can kill anything in a single hit and they can’t damage me more than 1HP (I have about 160) at a time. Assuming they manage to get a hit in. Which they rarely do.

As a result, I didn’t bother too much getting matching blocks, and just tore through floors 25 to 30, before meeting up with the boss and promptly dying. Not because he could do much damage, as even his flurry attack only dented me about 8HP, but because he can generate a mirror shield which does half the damage you do to him back to yourself. I didn’t realise this, hit him for 300HP, and that did me in. Oops.

My second attempt went much better, and I soon saw him off. I still had to use a health potion mid-fight as he used his shield again (but I didn’t hit him as hard that time), and that heralded the first and last time I’d used any items at all in the entire game. Yeah, it was a bit easy.

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Mega Man 2 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Impossible (6)Is this 2 or II? The title screen says II, but everywhere seems to reference it as 2. Up until writing this, I’d thought the roman numeral numbering system for Mega Man games only applied to the NES ones, and the Game Boy games used standard decimals, but I don’t suppose it really matters. What does really matter? The game!

These_bits_are_totally_unfair.Which is just the same as the first one. Well, OK, that’s a slight lie. There are differences. First of all, there are eight robot bosses, not six. Secondly, the “Wily levels” are shown on a level map. You also have three additional tools – uselessly named “Item-1″ to “Item-3″ – which allow you to create various platforms. Finally, it’s a lot easier.

Apart from those relatively minor changes, Mega Man 2 plays more like a level pack for the first game than a sequel. I expect that’s how they’ll all end up.

Impossible_to_outrun._Impossible_to_avoid._Impossible_to_shoot.As I said, it was easier than the first game. The levels seemed a bit shorter, and the boss fights were certainly much less impossible (although I seemed to fluke a one-hit-kill on Air Man, somehow). Overall, though, the game was a lot longer with more Wily Levels and a full all-eight-robot-masters SuckySuck(TM) bit. I never like boss rushes. There was also the issue of the final few levels becoming impossible if you use up certain weapons, meaning you’d have to lose all your lives and continue should this happen. Thankfully, I’d been pre-warned, so stuck to the stock arm cannon as much as possible.

Thought_that_was_Plok_for_a_minuteOh, and another wrinkle in the game was the introduction of those nasty patterns of appearing and disappearing platforms. Luckily one of the items you can use (Item-2, I think – they’re not described at any point) lets you skip over the worst bits on Heat Man’s stage. Phew. Unfortunately, I know they’re also in Mega Man 9 so I expect they’re a series main-stay from this point on.

WinnerAnd the dragon that comes out of nowhere and forces an autoscroll section! And the massive horizontal laser bits! OK. Perhaps it wasn’t easier than the original game after all.

At least the final, final boss was really very easy. For a Mega Man game. Once I’d figured out that only one weapon could damage him, anyway. I sent him packing, and then… Mega Man 3? Yeah, I think so.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Wii U)

PieratsAssassin’s Creed III was a disappointment. After the great previous three games (especially Brotherhood), Ubisoft seemed to throw all the fun out of the game and fill it with useless and tedious sidequests. You can see it started a little in Revelations with the ill-advised Tower Defence bits, but aside from one single mission it was entirely optional and avoidable, but III was filled to the brim with nothing I wanted to play. Naval battles. Ship upgrades. Homestead improvements. Yes, I know ACII had the Monteriggioni stuff where you improved the region, but you did that with money – not hunting and trading and zzzzzz.

The actual previous-game style Assassin’ing in III was great. Stalking your mark, taking out guards from cover, all that sort of thing. It’s just a shame that wasn’t what most of the game involved. I also wasn’t a fan of the tree climbing – I much prefer cities and rooftops. If it wasn’t for the story (as in, the “modern day” story), I don’t think I’d have bothered with Black Flag.

I_can_see_my_house_from_here_You see, the problem with Black Flag, before you’ve played it and if you didn’t like the bits of ACIII that I didn’t like, is that looks like it’s more of the same. More boats. More trees. Less actually being an Assassin and doing actual assassin tasks. It’s not Assassin’s Creed: It’s Pirates of the Caribbean With A Hood On.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

So_it_s_raiding_tombs_you_ll_be_doing_now__is_itNot on everything. Oh no. Firstly, there is a lot of boating. Boat here. Boat there. Cannon that boat. Boat over to that fort and cannon that fort. Drive your boat between some rocks. Board other boats. Salvage cargo in your boat. Steal a boat. Upgrade your boat. BOAT. BOAT. BOAT.

Climb a tree. Hide in a tree. Use a tree as cover. Run along tree branches. Hunt animals. Stab crocodiles. AIR ASSASSINATE AN OCELOT. Gah.

Mancomb_Seepgood__I_bet_he_fights_like_a_goat.Even worse, is how most of these tasks aren’t even optional. At least in III you had very few boat bits unless you’re an idiot and wanted more. Once you’d done the hunting animals tutorial, you could ignore it forever more. In Black Flag, you need to hunt to improve your stats. You have to boat everywhere in order to get around the world. You can’t avoid it.

So why is it that I’m enjoying the game so much compared to ACIII? Because the actual Assassin’ing sections are excellent. For the most part, they’re in towns with rooftops and alleys and although there are tree and forest sections, they’re infrequent or part of the towns themselves. Havana even feels a lot like Constantinople, just with more palm trees and a larger Jamaican population.

Toilets_everywhere.The plot has been good so far too. Both the Kenway time period stuff, with him wanting to make his fortune but then being a bad boy pirate and now is slowly coming round to being a good boy Assassin, and also the modern era with John the IT guy in Abstergo Entertainment’s offices. And the toilets. Very impressive toilets. I spent a long time looking at the toilets, for some reason.

Welcome_to_the_jungleIn fact, even the boat bits aren’t really all that bad. As boat bits go, they’re probably just about the best boat bits in any video game. My issue is more to do with I don’t want them cluttering up my Assassin’s Creed game, interspersing all the fun bits with boat bits. They’ve made an effort to integrate them a bit with proper AC gameplay, in that when you disable a boat or a fort you then get off your boat and take it down on foot, but still. Boats.

All these thoughts are, however, subject to change. I’ve played for about 12 hours or so, and reached the bit in the main story where James Kidd’s second revelation occurs (that is to say, I’m in Kingston and am looking for the Sage).

Impossible (5)

Mega Man (Wii U): COMPLETED

tumblr_nagvq6todj1svmpf2o1_1280 When I downloaded Mega Man X the other week, I didn’t really anticipate playing any of the older Mega Man games. I sort of intended to play X, and, if I liked it, to pick up X2 and play that.

Capcom clearly anticipated this and in their recent sale (all the NES Mega Man games on the Wii U Virtual Console are half price) failed to drop the price of X2. This forced me to pick up the original Mega Man, and, just in case I liked it, Mega Man 2 as well. I nearly got all six, but that would have been silly.

Gutsman_s_weapon_literally_does_nothing.I’m now probably going to get the rest of the six before they put the price back up.

As previously mentioned, the NES Mega Man games mostly passed me by, and it was only Mega Man 9 and 10 that I actually put any time into (and completed). Until now.

First impressions were as I expected. It’s the same as Mega Man X only without the ability to dash, no charged shots, no passwords,  six rather than eight bosses, very little story exposition, and (obviously) poorer graphics. It’s the same damn game, in other words. Which is fine, actually. If it ain’t broke clearly worked for the series.

How_do_I_get_thisIn advance of playing, given the difficulties I had in X, I looked up the “correct” order for doing the bosses. This meant every (main robot) boss was easy, aside from the guy I was supposed to use Gutsman’s power for (Cutman, I think), and at that point Gutsman’s power appeared to do nothing at all. It was only later in the game I found he could pick up and throw blocks, so I had to beat Cutman “normally”. Thankfully he was easy.

Also like X, the final stage was split into a few sections, with a SuckySuck(TM) bit near the end (Boss Rush, if you didn’t know) before a two part final boss.

tumblr_nagvpfwy8l1svmpf2o1_1280The game was pretty short, taking maybe 90 minutes in total, but very difficult. In particular, some of the horrid appearing-and-disappearing block platforming sections (also in Mega Man 9) and a moving platform on a rail which “flips down” to drop you off, were especially swear-worthy. Those jumping robots on a single leg which appeared before most of the boss fights were a pain too.

Now onto Mega Man 2, I suppose!

Just_44p_

Things I’ve been playing recently

It’s another lazy post saving roundup! Yay.

Abyss (Wii U)

Just_44p_There was a sale on recently where Abyss was a stupidly low price of just 44p, but you needed to own UnEpic in order to get it for that price. So I bought UnEpic, and got Abyss. I had no idea what Abyss was, but it was 44p. Plus the £8 or whatever UnEpic was. Erm.

Turns out, it’s a gravity physics cave navigating arcade game. Sort of like the old Spectrum game Thrust, but without having to drag collected cargo around – you just pick it up. It’s pretty good too, but I’ve not played it a great deal yet. The level select screen suggests it has 12 levels but I’m half way through that already, so I hope something else is unlocked afterwards otherwise it’s going to be very short. But then, it was only 44p.

StreetPass Games (3DS)

Although I’ve completed Garden now, I’m still playing it and have grown almost half of the 80 known breeds in the game.

I’m still working through StreetPass Battle, which is very, very slow going. My army is up to almost 300,000 people, but each full set of 10 streetpasses still only gets me about 12,000 at the most, and usually it’s far less than that. I’ve beaten 9 other nations, and the next one was about 350,000 people in its army, so I’m a way off attempting that yet.

In Mansion, I’ve stopped trying to progress as quickly as possible, and am instead attempting to completely fill every floor. I’m on 16 at the moment (of 20, I think?) and apart from the already laid rooms of different colours, I’ve almost filled the floor entirely blue. I’m getting a lot of nice treasure as a result. Only thing is, my weapon kills even bosses in one or two hits and I’m virtually indestructible, so even other weapon types are pointless and substantially less powerful than my Windbag of Woe +2.

Zen Pinball 2 (Wii U)

PinballJust a few games of the Wolverine table, which I’ve barely played before for some reason. I always seem to gravitate towards World War Hulk and Iron Man. I’m second on my friends leaderboard now, although I’m pretty sure the scores must have been reset at some point as the leaderboards seem a bit empty.

Hitman Absolution (PC)

tumblr_n9zr8glori1svmpf2o1_1280Oh my is this terrible. It doesn’t help that it’s completely uncontrollable with a keyboard and mouse, not least because it seems to need every single key on the keyboard when just a single “use” or “action” button for most actions would suffice.

Add that to the fact that Agent 47 keeps vanishing – literally becoming invisible to me, but crucially not anyone else. See the screenshot for my Guard vs Hollow Man fight.

It’s no Assassin’s Creed, that’s for sure.

Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate (3DS)

tumblr_n9mq0pevj31svmpf2o1_400I started this right after finishing the Wii U Batman Arkham Origins game, mainly because it was a continuation of the story. It looks fantastic, and plays pretty good too even though it’s all in Shadow Complex style 2D rather than 3D like the other games. This does limit your takedown options a bit, but that’s not really a problem.

What I am finding an issue is the controls. For reasons I don’t understand some things that ZR was used for on the Wii U has been mapped to L on the 3DS, which is proving tricky to get used to. Bataranging works differently too, and the map is a from-above floorplan, but the action is from the side with fixed points where it rotates 90 degrees to move into and out of corridors and doors – which makes navigation via the map almost impossible. I’m not far in yet (my SD card died and I couldn’t use my 3DS for a week while I got a new one), so I don’t know if the expected Metroidvania-type backtracking and exploration will be hindered by this or not.

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StreetPass Garden (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_na3xa46x0j1svmpf2o1_1280Another one of the Streetpass games completed! In that I became a Master Gardener (by growing 20 different breeds of plant), which enabled the end of game sequence and credits.

After which I was given a new, larger, gardening journal with space for another 60 breeds. And a bigger seed box. And some other stuff.

It seems like there’s still plenty to do. Unfortunately, I don’t think that my garden(s) will house that many plants, even if I buy the extra gardens to make some more storage space. I’m not sure I can cope with having to sell any – I already hate giving them away as part of the job requests!

It_s_like_a_futuristic_Castlevania_ending_

Mega Man X (Wii U): COMPLETED!

_adamgs__After I’d completed Earthbound, which was some time ago now, I realise, I asked about for suggestions for other great SNES games I may have missed. Mega Man X was recommended several times.

I was never a big fan of the series. In fact, I’d only properly played Mega Man 2 and one other (I don’t recall which) NES game, until the new-old Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 came out for the Wii a few years back. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Some_of_those_that_work_forces__are_the_same_that_burn_crossesSo this weekend, despite having a million other games to play already, I found myself wanting to download Mega Man X on the Wii U. I was going to play something on my 3DS instead, but my SD card has died (which is a story for another time), so that was out of action and… well. I’ve no excuse really. The deed was done and I set about playing it. Oh my is it hard.

Not as hard as Mega Man 9, though, I found. And, although the graphics have clearly improved over the NES games, and Mega Man is now X, so actually a different robot, it’s the same game as it ever was. 8 bosses to fight, in any order you choose, with each giving you a new weapon which will take down another boss with ease. Of course, you’ve no real way of knowing which weapon will bump off which boss quickly, so it’s down to luck over which order you try them.

Impossible (4)This actually meant the game mostly got easier as I played. The first few bosses I tried were very difficult, but most of the later ones I had a suitable weapon for. Not that having the best weapon was a guarantee for a quick kill, though – they were still pretty nails. The trick is to learn their patterns and strike only when you know it’s safe. Take your time – watch and listen. Most fights involved staying somewhere safe most of the time, with the odd safe attack to slowly (very, very slowly in some cases) whittle down their energy.

Before reaching any bosses, a level must be traversed but with very few exceptions these were pretty easy. Especially when compared to the boss robots at the end, anyway.

Dime_barWith all of the minions dispatched, it was on to Not Dr Wily (Sigma, I think he was called), bumping off all the previous bosses once more, as well as a few extra ones for good measure. Joy! It’s a SuckySuck(TM) Bit! No, not joy – the other thing. Despair! That’s the one.

Fortunately, the second time round these robots are a bit easier, mainly because you know how to defeat them, but also because you have the necessary sidearm to deal with them. Eventually, after doing all this, you reach Sigma. Having already thrown Irritating and Unnecessary Gaming Cliché #1 (the SuckySuck(TM) Bit) at you, Mega Man X then moves onto Irritating and Unnecessary Gaming Cliché #2 – where the boss is defeated but then somehow is resurrected immediately in a new form and has to be defeated again. Sigh.

Boba_FettWhich I did. In fact, Sigma was somewhat easier than most of the previous bosses, which was a surprise. And, regardless of Irritating and Unnecessary Gaming Clichés, the game was fun and rewarding. And hard. Very hard.

I will almost certainly be moving onto Mega Man X2 in the near future, but I’d best clear some other games out of my Pile of Shame first before adding any more to it.

 

You_wouldn_t_like_him_when_he_s_angry._Oh_wait._He_already_is.

Batman: Arkham Origins (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Is_this_some_sort_of_jokeWhat’s this? Two Batman games completed in a single day? What are the chances?

Before today’s session I was actually pretty close to the end anyway, so it only took about half an hour to finish off. Well, over an hour if you count the ludicrously long credit sequence which listed every single person who has ever existed ever, and plenty of other people who never existed at all. Probably.

Anyway. The game! Was brilliant. Although it started off full of bugs, I actually found very few after the first few hours. Aside from this one, from not far from the end:

Hardly game breaking, I know. Thankfully, that was pretty much it – better than Arkham City by the end. In fact, the whole game was better than Arkham City by the end.

tumblr_n9ho13pr1j1svmpf2o1_1280Yes! It really was! Despite the map being bigger, and that being one of the things I disliked about City over Asylum, for some reason I preferred it here. The combat was more or less the same as previously, and there weren’t many (or any?) new enemy types over the earlier games. I’m not really sure why I enjoyed it more than City, when I come to analyse it – I just know I did.

One thing that was definitely an improvement was in the boss fights. They were more varied, and some of them, such as the Firefly one, were really something new. The Electrocutioner was hilarious with his one punch kill, and Bane’s final fight was pretty awesome.

tumblr_n9ho0irmnz1svmpf2o1_1280I also preferred the plot. I never got on with Arkham City’s “I’m dying and now you’re dying” Joker story, perhaps because although you really had all the time in the world to finish the game, there was this nagging sense of urgency as you needed to find the cure before you died. It was interesting to see the origins (that’s the name of the game, remember) of some of the characters, like Harley and Gordon, but laying the smackdown on a load of cops never really felt right, no matter how bent they appeared to be.

In order then, Arkham > Origins > City. Although I know many will disagree.

Onto Blackgate on the 3DS then.

Perpetual_sunset

Lego Batman 2 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

1337I actually started this over a year ago, but I don’t seem to have made any mention of it. What happened, was that I played the first three levels in co-op with my daughter, but because it didn’t support the Wii Classic Controller I had to use the Wii Remote which is terrible for this sort of game. I wasn’t enjoying it, so I intended to play something else for a while and come back to it to play solo or when I bought a Wii U Controller Pro. Other games happened, and it got put away.
Evil_receptionistThen it came back out a few days ago, and, since I have a Wii U Controller Pro now, I thought two player was back on! Only it doesn’t support the Wii U Controller Pro. Player 2 is Remote and Nunchuk ONLY. Which is rubbish.
Thankfully, in this case, my daughter mainly just wanted to watch, so I flew through the game in single player while she was back-seat driver.

Yep.Like most Lego games, it’s a lot of fun. The voice acting is great, and the tasks and levels are suitably silly. The best bit, however, is the huge open world hub, which is even more impressive than Lego City Undercover, despite that game coming out later. Yes, Lego City is more fun and there’s more to do (and there’s traffic too), but Gotham is seemingly bigger and the loading sequences are virtually non-existent – especially in comparison. The music is lovely too, especially the Superman film theme triggering each time you take off as Superman.

New_Transformers_film_is_a_jokeAs always with these titles, completing the story is just the start. I’ve still almost 200 gold bricks left to find for a start, and haven’t managed a single full minikit yet. I have found most of the red bricks though, which should make collecting enough studs to buy every character and vehicle a bit easier. Not that they cost very much in Lego Batman 2, and I was surprised at how cheap the red bricks themselves were as well – 500k or so for the 8x multiplier? I’m sure that’s been 8 million or more in other games.

Keep_rollin__rollin_

Armillo (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Standard_evil_bants.When this was shown in some eShop roundup a while back, I was only slightly interested. Since then, I was less and less interested as the screenshots I’d seen looked pretty poor and, well, I had too many other games to bother with it. However, when it was released last week (or the week before?) it was on special offer for just £4. The videos made it look a bit more impressive than the screenshots, so I thought, yeah, OK.

I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t a fantastic game by any means, but it’s fun enough. Rolling Armillo around feels a little like games such as Kororinpa and Mercury to start with, with some Mario Galaxy “on a planetoid” inspiration. Sadly, it’s no Mario Galaxy in gameplay, although it does have a similarly huge number of ideas in one game.

Shovel_Knight_Whereas Mario Galaxy’s levels were all different, with many throwaway (as in, used once) ideas that the levels were based around, Armillo’s ideas mostly feel shoehorned in. Few of them are truly bad ideas, but there are too many, with hardly any of them fully realised.

For example, there’s a powerup which turns the game into a twin-stick shooter for a few minutes. Another which makes you big to squash things. Keys to find, switches to press, buttons which duplicate your ‘dillo. Even a whole timed section in each level. There are bonus levels (some of which aren’t optional) which are side-on platformers – again with several unnecessary ideas.

It’s also pretty short, although I haven’t found all of the bonus and secret (yes, it has both) levels. There’s also a really nasty screen freezing bug which almost pauses the action for a couple of seconds – which happens at least once on most of the levels.

Perhaps with some more polish – on the bugs, the presentation, and the puzzles – and with some of the fat trimmed so fewer ideas were included but they were fully developed, this could have been great. As it is, it’s well worth £4, but it’s by no means a must-buy.

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Time Gentlemen, Please (PC): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n90qeszluu1svmpf2o1_1280When I made a start on this, almost two years ago, having just finished the previous game, I didn’t expect to just stop playing. In fact, I’m not really sure why I did, but having reached what turned out to be about a third of the way through the game, I put it on pause.

Then I played it some more over the last few days, and completed it.

Like “Ben There, Dan That”, it’s utterly ridiculous and the plot is nonsensical. It’s witty, dirty and downright silly – like many of the best point and click adventure games are.

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Picross e4 (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n8rfiqffzf1svmpf2o1_400I was wrong. I was expecting e4 to be even bigger than e2, and from the sheer number of puzzles it certainly looked that way. But no, it was two hours shorter. Still longer than e and e3, mind.

I think my judgement was somewhat out as I worked backwards for the main part, doing the harder puzzles first. Which meant that even though I’d only done about a quarter of the picrosses (picrii?), I’d spent two thirds of the time on them.

Not that any of this is interesting, I just thought I’d mention it. After all, there’s not much to say about a Picross game, especially after four iterations.

e5 soon please?

Tracking my gaming. For great victoly!