Things I’ve been playing recently

Lazy round-up time!

Puzzle & Dragons Z (3DS)

I think this might be in my top three most played 3DS games now, and I’ve not even touched the Mario themed option. I got stuck on a boss, then powered through a few more levels, then got stuck on the previous boss again when she cropped up later with another monster at her side. Too hard. I’ve been trying lots of dragon combinations and came close once to besting them, but then one of the two baddies almost completely healed both of them and that was it. Maybe some grinding is in order. Or some different dragons again.

Lego The Hobbit (Wii U)

We completed it, but since then we’ve been mopping up stuff. It’s pretty slow going though, and we haven’t even revisited any of the levels yet. Daddy Pig seems to voice half the characters in this, which is slightly absurd. Especially the blacksmith’s wife. With her beard. Hmm.

Ninja Usagimaru: The Gem of Blessings Demo (3DS)

A not very good puzzle game. I got bored before the demo even finished, to be honest.

Fairune Demo (3DS)

There’s a game called Witch & Hero on the 3DS which is the most ridiculous concept ever. You walk into baddies to kill them, but when you do, you take damage – meaning you’re inevitably going to die. It was rubbish.

Fairune seems to be by the same people and has the same mechanic, only instead of protecting a static character on a single screen, it’s a flip-screen RPG of sorts. And somehow, I’ve gotten a bit hooked on it. I’ve finished the demo and now will almost certainly buy the full game. This surprised me.

Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash Demo (3DS)

Everyone loves Chibi-Robo, right? And taking pictures of real things to include in the game and collecting junk just to tidy up because he’s a cute robot that does that? Awesome, right? Then why is this a slightly crap platformer instead of any of that? How disappointing.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes Demo (3DS)

Well, I tried to play it. But it said no. I was in some sort of lobby and there were a couple of people to talk to and I found if I ran into a wall a ball fell from the sky and I could play keepy-uppies with it for a while but then that was it. I assume I needed some friends online to play with.

tumblr_nxtmcz0iec1svmpf2o1_400Badge Arcade (3DS)

No way am I giving money to this, but so far, I’ve not needed to. I’ve done well enough in the practise crane games to rack up a few free plays, and so far I’ve bagged about 12 badges. Not that I can use the badges because I’ve barely any space left on my home screen. I was hoping it would expand again, as it does when you hit about 80% full, but not this time. Boo.

Fallout 4 (PS4)

Oh yeah, this arrived.

Broken Age (PS4): COMPLETED!

Broken Age_20151026162213I like point and click adventure games, and it was only a matter of time before I went and bought Broken Age anyway. Then, of course, it appeared on PS+ so I didn’t need to. I sort of feel like I should do anyway, because I enjoyed it a lot and PS+ always feels like renting and renting is Bad. Probably.

Without giving too much away, Broken Age is a game of two halves played out as two seemingly separate stories. On one side, there’s Vella – a young girl chosen to be sacrificed to the monster Mog Chothra in order to protect her village in a ceremony that happens in every village every 14 years. On the other side, there’s Shay – a young boy who lives apparently alone on a spaceship and does nothing but terrible and childish “simulations” where he rescues woollen creatures from fake harm every day.

Broken Age_20151104204202Naturally, their two stories are not only linked, but become one later on. That’s not really a spoiler as it’s pretty obvious; otherwise why not just have two separate games, eh?

I assumed that you had to play one story then the other, but it became apparent that you can actually flit between both at will. In fact, in Act 2, you have to do this in order to solve some puzzles (and it’s at this point I realised you could). Near the start of the game I guessed what the end of Act 2 twist (and the reveal about Shay’s spaceship) would be, although maybe I got lucky.

Broken Age_20151107220309As far as the gameplay goes, it’s a streamlined point and click game. Streamlined in that gone are the days of choosing “give”, “go”, “use” etc., instead everything is context sensitive and this reduces annoyance greatly. I know Broken Age isn’t the first to do this, but it’s appreciated anyway. The puzzles are mostly straightforward, with actual simple logic to them, meaning they’re generally not frustrating as they can often be in these games. However, in the final half an hour or so of the game (or almost two hours as I played it…) there are some real head scratchers: It was too easy to seemingly get things right but them not actually work. Also, the less said about the hexapal wiring puzzles the better. Oh god did they annoy me.

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Broken Age was funny just as you’d expect from Tim Schafer, had a wonderful story and a cast of great characters (almost all with some excellent voice acting too). It was pretty long for a game of this type too, not accounting for my lack of skill in the latter part, it was well over 8 hours. I can definitely recommend it to fans of the genre too.

Here’s my entire playthrough. If you’ve the stamina!

Pix the Cat (PS4): COMPLETED!

Pix the Cat_20151004143154

Well, completed one of the modes anyway. The main mode, Arcade, seems to be just a score attack and as a result, can’t be completed. However, there’s a pretty large (70 level!) mode called Nostalgia, which certainly is completable. I know this, because I did it.

Unlike Arcade mode, Nostalgia Mode in Pix the Cat is more a set of puzzle and reaction based challenges. In each level, presented in awesome black and white old-timey animation visuals, you have to collect a number of eggs without trapping yourself in a corner or hitting spikes or a baddie. Sometimes you have 90+ chicks all following you, so route planning is important!

Pix the Cat_20151004141202

There are a few gimmicks to help or hinder you – owls that collect up then spit out your chicks essentially resetting your tail, mushrooms that reverse your chain so you’re warped to the back, and so on. Some levels have multiple cats, adding to the confusion. It’s a lot of fun, and I actually prefer it to Arcade Mode.

After struggling with a level around the 50-odd mark for aaaaaages, I managed to beat it today, and then went on to complete the rest of the 70 missions. Woo! I’d recommend Pix the Cat just for this one mode, actually. It’s the best of all of them.

Oh, and here’s a video of me finishing the impossible level (at the start) then mopping up the rest:

Lego The Hobbit (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Nasty_hobbitsesAnd that’s another Lego game done. Not 100%, yet, but the story is complete. Like Lego Marvel Super Heroes, I completed it in co-op with my daughter, but we found it somewhat shorter than that game. There’s obviously a lot to do still, not least with the new mechanic of finding “loot” (like ingots and wood) with which to make stuff. This time round, there’s even more reason to smash all the things.

The plot was sort of how I remember the book to be (I’ve not seen either Hobbit film), but sadly ended abruptly at the point where I assume the second film finishes. Since there’s no third film yet, it’s not included in the game – and I’ve heard they’re not making another Lego title to continue it even when it’s out. Shame.

Up_on_the_roofSimilar to Lego Marvel, Lego The Hobbit has a massive overworld to explore with lots of errands to run and characters to help. Unlike Lego Marvel, none of your characters can fly (at least, none I have yet) so it’s not as much fun to get around. You can use warps where birds carry you to set points, but it’s still often a trek – higgledy piggledy o’er hill and dale – to get to where you want to be. There’s clearly a lot of characters, but a tiny amount in comparison to Lego Marvel. They’re all easily confused too, with SO MANY DWARVES all with different skills but they all look the same. Gah!

All that said, and the bugs taken into account (It’s a Lego game – of course it has bugs), it was still a lot of fun. I think we’re down to just three Lego games now – Lord of the Rings, Jurassic World, and Dimensions. Best get on them, then.

Lifeline (iOS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nws6j822qc1svmpf2o1_1280Look at this. I have not only completed a telephone game, but it was a telephone game that I had to buy with actual money. How rare. So rare, in fact, I don’t think I’ve done that in years. I gave up on the whole iOS game market ages ago as it was full of clones, IAPs and rubbish. Lifeline was recommended by the Midnight Resistance podcast, and sounded interesting. So I bought it.

Remember text adventures? It’s a simple one of those, but integrates into your phone. It starts with you getting a notification (a real actual app notification too) from Taylor, a student scientist onboard a spaceship. Well, they were onboard. It crashed and somehow you’re the person Taylor’s communication device contacted.

They tell you whats happening, and periodically they ask for advice or a decision. Sometimes they’ll disappear for (real life) hours at a time while they’re busy, for example hiking or sleeping, and then you’ll get another notification when they’re ready for another conversation.

tumblr_nws6k14r8y1svmpf2o1_1280Your aim is to keep Taylor alive by choosing the best option for them (I keep saying them and they – Taylor’s gender is never given) and ultimately leading them to rescue. They can be directed to explore the not-as-barren-as-first-thought moon, and decisions are as simple as go east or west, or as stressful as fight or run. Yeah, they’re not exactly alone. Minor spoiler.

I managed to kill Taylor a couple of times, but bar that it took maybe three days to beat the game and get them rescued. There’s not a huge amount of game there, but it’s spaced out (no pun intended) and somehow feels more real due to the phone integration and the way in-game things take real actual time to complete. An interesting diversion with an original concept, if not as great as I was hoping for. The writing is OK (and the story is right out of the sci-fi books I’d read as a kid), but Taylor’s humour doesn’t really fit with their situation. Still, you can spend 79p on much worse.

Gone Home (PC): COMPLETED!

2015-10-26_00007Gone Home, the game I kept writing “Grow Home” as over and over again, was in my Steam wishlist ever since I completed Dear Esther. Then, one day not so long ago, it was on sale and when I went to buy it, I discovered I’d owned it for months. Tch, eh?

Like Dear Esther, you walk around and discover what’s going on by reading things and looking at things. Gone Home includes minor puzzle elements, but for the most part, you’re exploring a slightly spooky house during a thunderstorm reading notes and letters left strewn around the rooms. The plot goes that you’re returning home after a backpacking trip round Europe, to a house left to your father by his “psychopath” Uncle. Only your family have vanished.

2015-10-26_00010Reading journal scraps and messages left by your sister, you uncover secret rooms and compartments in the house; catching up with her explorations through her kept record of what she’s found. There’s a suggestion Uncle Oscar is haunting the house, and all was not well in the bedroom between your father and mother. No doubt her new job, with long hours, and his failed novels have contributed to this.

2015-10-26_00020Eventually, you discover what has happened to your sister, but nothing conclusive about the rest of your family is shown. At least, I couldn’t find it if there was something. It’s a massive spoiler, but here’s what I think has happened:

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Anyway. It wasn’t as good as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (but then, very little is), it was perhaps on a par with Dear Esther, and waaay better than Proteus.

Here’s my full (and so spoiler-filled) complete playthrough:

Life is Strange: Episode 5 (PS4): COMPLETED!

It is impossible to talk about this. As well as spoilers, not least the MASSIVE CHOICE necessary at the end, there’s also the fact that the choices I’ve made throughout the series slightly change how Life is Strange: Episode 5 panned out for me. So I won’t talk about the story any more than to say this: I was not disappointed, the decision at the end was hard to make, and although I saw some of it coming, it played out totally differently to how I expected. The chapter’s title is “Polarised” (sorry, “Polarized”, urgh), and the “what everyone else did” stats at the end could not agree more.

What I will talk about is how fantastic the series has been as a whole. The twists and turns, the excellent story that draws on themes from the likes of The X-Files, The Butterfly Effect, Final Destination, and Donnie Darko. The amazing voice acting. The dreamy soundtrack. The fantastic graphics and gorgeous sunsets. Some fantastic characters – Victoria and Samuel especially, in my opinion. Everything comes together to produce a game experience unlike any other I’ve played.

Since finished Episode 4, I’ve found it difficult to wait it out until Episode 5. Hype built over that time, with so many thoughts and theories in my head. I was so worried that Dontnod would do something to mess it up. I was also worried that someone would leak a spoiler, and as soon as it was on PSN this morning I went internet blind in case anyone finished it before I had a chance to. I went in pensive and completed it in a single, almost three hour, sitting. I had to – spoilers tomorrow would abound, I was sure. And what an experience.

Even though Fallout 4 is still to come next month, it’d take something pretty special from Bethesda to beat Life is Strange as my Game of the Year. Who’d have thought that having bought it mainly on a whim? Excellent stuff, and I’m sad it’s over.

If you want to see my playthrough of the finale – I’ve a video here. Be warned though: there are spoilers. If you’ve already finished the game, then you might want to watch it (or at least the final bit) if you made the

Spoiler Inside SelectShow
choice – I did the opposite.

Things I’ve been playing recently

Been a while since I did a roundup, so this covers several weeks…

Stan_Lee_is_a_bloody_liabilityLego Marvel Super Heroes (Wii U)

My daughter and I completed this some time ago, but the post game mop-up is huuuuge. Not only is there the usual Free Play of levels, but there are loads of other smaller levels you unlock, and hundreds of events around the world map. We’ve 230/250 gold bricks now, so the end is in sight.

LEGO® Jurassic World™ Demo_20151003154452Lego Jurassic World Demo (PS4)

Oh god I think we need to get this. We’ll probably get the Wii U version though, because co-op screen-each play is the way to go on Lego games. I know the PS4 version looks better, but screen-each!

WVW69iYicg80ANCGpGPuzzle & Dragons Z (3DS)

Slow going on this. I only do a single level every now and again, so although I’m getting there, it’s taking a while. I am enjoying it, though!

_t__PS4share_httpt.coZ6fVvHoVayThe Pinball Arcade (PS4)

Picked this up when it was on sale. It’s not something you can complete, but it’s pretty good. I got the first two “seasons” cheap, and although some are recycled from Gottleib Pinball on the Wii, it’s enjoyable. Some more than others, of course. One thing which is annoying, however, is that your users on your PS4 can’t share leaderboards, making the leaderboards essentially useless.

Pix the Cat_20151004141202Pix the Cat (PS4)

Saw this described as Chu Chu Rocket x Pac Man Championship Edition, but it’s not quite that close. In fact, the main arcade mode isn’t really interesting me and I was pretty disappointed… but Nostalgia Mode? Bloody awesome. It’s more puzzle based, and a lot of fun. So mainly I’ve been playing that.

Uncrowded (PC)

Some sort of Minecraft looking but more survival based game. Which appears to literally be a reskin of some Unity asset pack demo game released as a “new” title. Cheeky. And utter tripe.

Mega Man X3 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

VegaI’ve been playing this off and on since completing Mega Man X2 way back when. Not because I don’t like it, just because I kept forgetting it was there to play. Over the last week I’ve made a more concerted effort to finish it off (much like with Wario Land, actually) as I’m trying to complete a load of games I’ve not reached the end of yet in preparation for when Fallout 4 arrives. Clear my plate, if you will.

Find_ALL_the_secrets_So Mega Man X3 is just like Mega Man X2. Which, in turn, was pretty much the same as all the other Mega Man games before it. Like previous games, you start off mostly powerless and beat boss after boss obtaining new weapons and then finding upgrades around the levels to turn X into a walking tank. So I did that. Once I’d picked the the Gold Armour (which required picking up all the health upgrades and sub tanks too) only the final few bosses even worried me.

Ruh_rohBut yes, they did worry me. I’m glad I spent the time getting X as powered up as possible (although I seem to have missed out on getting Zero’s sabre? Not sure how to get that) because Sigma at the end was damn hard. I suppose, looking back of the series, there have been a lot of damn hard bosses, but how you’d beat Sigma (in his second form especially) with only half the energy and only a quarter of the armour, not to mention a weaker X-Buster, I’ve no idea. I went through three sub tanks as it is!

And now, the all important Mega Man Game Which Is Best List:

But now what? I’ve no more Mega Man X games. I know there ARE more Mega Man X games, but they’re all for the Playstation, aren’t they? Boo! And I don’t have any of them. But what I do have, however, is Mega Man Zero! Woo!

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Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nvx9cbduni1svmpf2o1_400I got this with some of my Club Nintendo stars. RIP Club Nintendo, by the way. I struggled with what to spend them on before they expired, and of the number I had left Wario Land 3 was the only one I didn’t already have on either my 3DS or Wii U that I hadn’t already completed. I do have it on the Game Boy Colour, but never finished it.

tumblr_nwc2xug4dg1svmpf2o1_400About three levels in, I realised something was amiss. Not only did I not recognise any of the game, but it also wasn’t in colour. And it was possible to die. Hang on, I thought, this isn’t right. Have you spotted the mistake yet, readers? That’s right – I’ve got hold of Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, not Wario Land 3. I was actually quite pleased, as I’ve never played it.

tumblr_nwc2yl6qfs1svmpf2o1_400Now I have, and I’ve completed it. It was fun, but nowhere near as much fun as Mario Land 2 or Wario Land 3. The extra hats Wario picks up are mostly unnecessary, the levels are linear, the game feels quite short, and although it’s better than 95% of other Game Boy platformers, it isn’t anything special. Of course, I only picked up enough treasure to get Wario a tree to live in (rather than a gold castle or whatever it is he wants), so I could return to find the hidden treasures, but I’m not sure I can be bothered.

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StreetPass Fishing (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nw7vcwd4ix1svmpf2o1_1280I’ve been on and off with StreetPass Fishing ever since it came out, usually forgetting to play until I realise I have 300 coins to spend, then splurge them all on anglers at once, then forget again until I’ve another 300.

Today, though, with my last batch of cats (those who chose dogs are idiots), I caught the final legendary fish, and won the game! Then it told me there were actually another three legendary fish they’d neglected to tell me about should I want to go for them too. I probably will, since I’ve nothing else to spend my play coins on now – all the Streetpass games are complete!

Batman: Arkham Knight: Harley Quinn Story Pack (PS4): COMPLETED!

_t__PS4share_httpt.cok0DVWyGVjiThat’s a mouthful, innit? In fact, it almost takes longer to say the title of this post than it does to complete this story DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight.

You play as Harley Quinn, who is ordered by The Penguin to infiltrate Blüdhaven Police Department and rescue Poison Ivy. Why, isn’t clear: Penguin says it’s what Scarecrow wants. Since Ivy is instrumental in taking down Scarecrow in the main story (oh, spoilers, sorry) this doesn’t really make sense. Whatever.

Harley obviously has no Batsuit and her gadgets are limited to an exploding jack-in-the-box and a snare. The former is used twice to blow up walls like Batman’s gel, and the latter is completely unnecessary. She’s also got laughing gas that replaces the smoke bomb. And a baseball bat, for some eye-watering takedowns.

_t__PS4share_httpt.coaVfYdjUp5jUnlike Batman’s quiet approach, picking off foes one at a time, Harley seems to make as much noise as possible. Thankfully, for her, the police officers she has to take down are idiots and don’t pose a threat. She can’t grapple to vantage points, but she can jump around like a cat, to much the same effect. All the while talking smack and sometimes chatting to her original “Harleen Quinzel” psyche, which still lurks within and tries to tell her to Do The Right Thing. She doesn’t.

Sadly, this schizophrenia is never explored enough because after a handful of fights, a few Predator-style rooms, and a Nightwing smackdown, that’s it. It’s the end. Half an hour is your lot. If I’d paid money for this, I’d be annoyed. It could have been so much more, but instead teases a new game mode and then ends. Bah.

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nw03uvo8mr1svmpf2o1_400Twenty-odd years ago, many a Saturday morning would be spent playing Sonic. Or Sonic 2. Or Sonic 3. And today, a Saturday, I played and completed 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Nintendo 3DS. It was awesome.

Like Gunstar Heroes and the first 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, the 3D here is mostly subtle. The original parallax layers are now given actual depth, and although this makes it feel more like a pop-up diorama than properly 3D it still makes the lovely 2D sprites look fantastic. Where the 3D really shines, however, is in the Special Stages. At first, they make your eyes bleed, but when you get used to them the into-the-screen 3D is fantastic and really adds to the stages.

tumblr_nw03w7sh0a1svmpf2o1_400Apart from all that, 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still Sonic the Hedgehog too. Complete with all the bugs, but without any of the slowdown (which was only really noticeable in Mystic Cave Zone anyway). It’s still a great game, and it’s still a joy to play.

I did find it incredibly easy, mopping up all the Chaos Emeralds early on. Which actually makes the game a little harder as you don’t pick up so many extra lives as once you hit 50 rings and jump in the air, you become Super Sonic and your rings start counting down – it’s unlikely you’ll hit 100. You also feel the need to rush through the levels once you’re Super Sonic as you don’t want your rings to run out, especially if they do so when you make it to a boss!

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And in just over an hour, it was all done. Eggman beaten (or possibly scrambled), and ending sequence go. Woo! So, Sega – when are we getting 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 3, eh?

Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4): COMPLETED!

BATMAN™: ARKHAM KNIGHT_20150927215726Just a few hours into Batman: Arkham Knight, you’re tasked with taking the Batmobile up onto a roof and effectively making it jump from roof to roof to reach an electrical panel or something. It’s utterly ridiculous, and is not what you’d expect the Batmobile, what with it being a car and everything, is for. This did not bode well for the rest of the game.

Thankfully for all concerned, that was it. Sure, there were a few car-based acrobatics later on, but those – such as lowering it down the wall of a giant fan shaft – seemed to fit. By that point in the story, a lot of things had happened that just made you accept the things the Goddamn Batmobile does. That, and it’s a tank that scurries around like a spider. Oh yes.

BATMAN™: ARKHAM KNIGHT_20150914223231Gritty and weighty like previous Arkham games, but bigger in scope than the rest put together, going into Arkham Knight was a torn experience. As great as Arkham City was, it was too big, too dispersed and less focussed than Arkham Asylum. The core was the same, but fragmented over a wide area. More Batman, on a current gen console especially, was something to look forward to. The nagging doubt it would be spread even more thinly was a worry. Do you remember how many times you visited the same damn steelworks before, despite having a massive city to play in? Aside from Riddler trophies, much of Arkham City was empty. Not so here, which was a relief.

In common with past Bat-outings, the story progresses through set pieces: detective sections, brawls, predator takedowns, boss ba…oh wait. No boss battles? Perhaps Rocksteady realised those in City were almost universally rubbish and ditched them. You still have to confront and defeat major foes, but by other means instead. It actually works well and you don’t miss them.

BATMAN™: ARKHAM KNIGHT_20150919212246

As you work towards taking down the Arkham Knight himself (finding his true identity along the way – I’d guessed very early, but there is a massive signpost if you hadn’t before I did) and Scarecrow, the usual Batman events I’ve mentioned pop up. In addition there are now tank battles. The Batmobile, impossibly, is used to take out the Knight’s army of drones, rocket launchers, cannons, helicopters and what appear to be mechs. Of course it is. Surprisingly, these battles are actually a lot of fun, and there’s an entire side quest devoted solely to them. In fact, almost every one-off task in the main game has a side quest full of that sort of event. Take down a watchtower (Assassin’s Creed Borgia style), and there’s a load more if you want. Like detective work? Why not find out why a load of bodies are literally hanging around Gotham. And so on.

BATMAN™: ARKHAM KNIGHT_20150912211226These seemingly optional side quests, however, are not. In all, there are 14 or so of them, with many terminating in the capture of a major Batman foe (Penguin, Two-Face, etc.). Once you’ve finished the main story in the game, it turns out you haven’t actually finished the main story at all – you have to complete at least 7 of these “optional” questlines to do that. It felt a bit of a cop-out, frankly. They’re mostly fun to do of course, some more than others, but it was disappointing to finally overcome Scarecrow only to be unable to finish the game because some lesser crimes haven’t been resolved.

That’s the structure of the game, but how does it actually play? Gloriously. The combat is meaty. The driving is a welcome addition. Wiping out an entire room of armed guards without a single one spotting you is a fantastic as it ever was. Soaring over the city is never less than stunning. Batman’s array of gadgets are a joy to wield and integrating his car into some of the combat is a masterstroke. Gotham feels so much more alive than in previous Arkham titles, with something happening on every corner and car chases going on all the time – which you can assist in, should you choose.

It must also be said that the voice acting is fantastic, especially Mark Hamill as The Joker: Yes, that’s a spoiler. No, Joker is still dead. Yes, that is confusing. There’s a scene where Mr J does his karaoke routine which is hilarious and grim in a way only Mr J can be. The game is so, so, Batman. Even with Alfred’s “Gordon’s alive?!” quote.

Being so, so Batman in every way does mean that Batman’s allies are pretty sidelined. Robin is constantly told to stay out of it and Batman reluctantly lets Nightwing actually do something as long as it’s nothing to do with the main story. Oracle is central to the plot, but Catwoman is now tucked away in a Riddler sub-story. Scarecrow is playing on Batman’s only fear – that revealing his identity will hurt his “family”, but in trying to protect his friends Bruce is only getting them in more trouble. Silly Bruce. Much of the game would have been avoided if he’d accepted help when offered. Still, that’s Batman for you.

With the story complete and enough side quests mopped up to see the ending, there was a little sadness. Rocksteady have already said this is their last Batman game, and as the end credit roll the montage of moments from all three Arkham games (Rocksteady don’t consider Origins or Blackgate canon it seems) retell the trilogy. It’s been a long road, but that’s it. No more Batman to look forward to from that corner, and it’s hard to see how any other Batman game can be as Goddamn Batman as Arkham Knight was. Arkham Asylum was purer, but Knight was truly an epic sendoff.

Xeodrifter (PS4): COMPLETED!

Mutant_Mudds_reference__t__PS4share_httpt.copnYlVFN4rPYou can clearly see Mutant Mudds’ DNA in Xeodrifter. Similar chunky pixel graphics, the same feel in terms of physics, plane shifting, 8-bit music and similar looking baddies. But it’s not a sequel, ditching fantasy mud monsters and platforming for Metroid inspired planet exploration with Metroidvania style progression through ability unlocks.

_t__PS4share_httpt.coryA6YTdcJ0As you flit to and from four different planets in search of your damaged ship’s warp core, you pick up health and weapon boosts, improving your stats and making progress easier. You can reach deeper into the planets’ caverns by beating bosses, which provide you with new abilities – running across lava, turning into a submersible, swapping between the fore- and background planes, and so on.

_t__PS4share_httpt.coW88dty5bMLIt’s excellent and fun, and like many of these sorts of games, becoming a walking tank later on and taking down what used to be virtually impossible baddies with just a couple of shots is always enjoyable. It’s compact, and even though there’s a lot of backtracking, it’s never a chore; in part due to unlocked powers granting shortcuts. I’d read in many places that Xeodrifter was really tricky, but I didn’t find that at all. A couple of bosses were hard, but since they were all virtually the same with an extra move each time you met them, even the toughest was a walkover once I’d learned the patterns.

In fact, the only real downer of the game is the cloned bosses. They are literally just palette changes with one extra move each. Since you become more and more powerful as you progress, they generally get easier too – not harder – with the final few taking one or two attempts, whereas earlier ones took 10+ tries. Despite this, Xeodrifter comes highly recommended for anyone who fancies a short but great looking pixelly Metroid type explorey game. Nice.

Warning: video shows game played from start to finish, so contains spoilers!

The Stanley Parable (PC): COMPLETED!

2015-09-27_00005I don’t know what the one true ending is. I don’t know if that’s the one I reached. I reached many endings, most of which involved the death of poor Stanley, but one, the final one shown in my spoiler-filled video, seemed to be “the end”. I found the credits at least, anyway.

2015-09-27_00011To describe the game gives too much away. What I will say, is that it is genuinely hilarious, as the narrator tries to tell you what to do and when you veer from his path, the berating is priceless. My favourite moment was finding the broom cupboard (about 7 minutes in on my video), and refusing to leave. When I finally did leave, I returned later to be berated again, and a third attempt presented a boarded up door. Excellent.

Caution: Video contains many spoilers.

Picross e6 (3DS): COMPLETED!

WVW69ibP4iwqVL_ZrtPicross e6 is HUGE. Especially compared to previous Picross eX games. Picross e2 took me 18 1/2 hours to finish, and was the previous largest game, but e6 took me just shy of 30 hours. Massive, see.

tumblr_ntyve55qtm1svmpf2o1_400Unfortunately, it does this by cheating a bit. You see, it seems that all the standard Picross puzzles are duplicated as Mega Picross puzzles. You know, those ones where numbers span two rows or columns. Sure, it means the solutions aren’t the same, but it did mean I recognised a few before they were finished so knew where I had to fill some of the squares in without doing the logic for them. It also meant they didn’t need to create more puzzles. A shame, but not a game killer.

As it is, it’s more Picross. A lot more. They’ve added no extra modes or anything this time around, but that’s not really important. Roll on e7!

Deus Ex Machina 2 (Mac): COMPLETED!

2015-09-23_00006Way back in the primordial past, when games were made from rocks and cost as much as a family car to buy, there was a game called Deus Ex Machina. I’ve never played it. I’ve read a lot about it, none of which makes any sense. From what I can discern, it was more an experience than a game, and consisted of some minigames that you played while listening to an audio tape. Because, of course, voices in early 1980s computer games were limited to “HNNGHSLUMMMNDMUH” (“he slimed me”) in the Ghostbusters game.

2015-09-23_00010A couple of years ago, the creator of Deus Ex Machina (note the “Machina” bit – this has nothing to do with any cyberpunk first person shooters), Mel Croucher, Kickstarted a sequel. I gather it’s actually more of a re-realisation of the first game than a real sequel, using today’s technology to create what he imagined the game to be in the first place. Probably.

This week, it was cheap enough to be virtually free on Steam, and since I had credit gained from selling trading cards, it actually was free to me, so I bought it. I had no idea what I was in for. Having completed it in just over an hour, I’m still not entirely sure.

2015-09-23_00016There are several chapters, each covering a different stage in a person’s life. Conception, birth, growing up, puberty, and so on until (and past) death. Christopher Lee poetically narrates the story, and each chapter has a fantastic and differently styled musical track to accompany it. Notably, Ian Dury provides lyrics and voice to some of these, despite having been dead for over a decade. I suspect his recordings from the original game were reused.

It’s the music and narration that make the game, as both are genuinely outstanding. Croucher’s clever verses make some great tracks, and the vocalists and musicians make music I’d happily buy on an album. Lee’s voice fits excellently as well. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t match up.

2015-09-23_00020Of course, I say game when I really mean experience. Each chapter mainly involves your naked avatar walking, floating, and sometimes running, into the screen. You can vaguely direct either him or something else on the screen in order to collect or avoid various things (kisses on one level, medicine on another). As you do so, your “degree of ideal entity” score goes up or down apparently in tune to what you’ve collected or avoided, although it is not always obvious which way it will go. I suspect it doesn’t matter; mine was bumped up to almost 100% through a successful egg fertilisation, but dropped heavily when I chose the non-warmongering options in a later section. Who knows what difference it makes to the ending.

As I said, your avatar is usually only vaguely directable so your impact on his path and ultimately his score feels disconnected. It’s clear you’re going to complete the game any way you play, even if you chose not to control your man at all. It seems a bit pointless, but it’s so worth playing. Sorry, experiencing. That music.

Spoiler Alert (PC): COMPLETED!

2015-09-19_00003I had no idea what to expect when playing this, as I’d never heard of it before. In fact, I only own it at all because it came in a Humble Bundle I bought for other reasons. I have to say, it was a bit of a surprise.

First off, it appears to be an endless runner game, albeit with an end. Like Bit Trip Runner. Only with a running chilli. Thing is, you start at the end of the game, and beat the final boss on the first level, except it’s the final level. Princess rescued, credits roll. Then credits roll backwards. And so begins playing the entire game back to front.

It’s still a not-endless runner, but now you run backwards from right to left, unkilling baddies and catching projectiles you’ve thrown, all while avoiding coins you hadn’t collected and uncollecting those you had. It makes more sense when you play, probably.

It’s short, cheap, and not especially difficult, but I had fun with it while it lasted.

Grow Home (PS4): COMPLETED!

Green_Hill_X_Mushroom_Hill_Zone__t_httpt.covHQuSQaYWtSo many people were excited for this game, and voted it way ahead of two other potential PS+ titles this month as a result, but the majority of views of people after they’ve actually played it seem negative. Apparently, it’s “ruined” by screen tearing. It’s boring. The controls (specifically the climbing) are terrible, and so on.

I’d like to suggest, that those people are idiots.

Grow Home_20150901191542Yes, there is screen tearing. But I only noticed it when it was pointed out to me via a screenshot. I genuinely can’t see it when playing. The controls are awkward at first, but soon you find that L2 (left hand grab) and R2 (right arm grab) are intuitive, and by pushing up and alternating L2 and R2 you can climb quickly. As you progress, you unlock a jet pack, what amounts to a parachute, and finally a glider, and from then on, you climb less anyway. You don’t fall off the plant you’re growing so much, and the game becomes fun.

Grow Home_20150905144840I found it fun anyway. Riding flower sprouts from the main giant star plant to glowing islands in the sky (the main task in the game) is fun. Grabbing objects just to see what they do is fun. Getting all the crystals is Crackdown-like, and fun. It’s all FUN.

The most fun, however, is grabbing a sheep, then dragging him into the sea. Always hilarious, especially watching his little sheepy face as you do it. Or, when two sheep are playing football with a pumpkin (no, really), you grab it, and chuck it in the sea. The sheep just look at you in disappointment. Leaves me in stitches. Being chased by a bull. MOM’s comments. Growing a giant phallus. It’s a great game, and those joyless inhumans who don’t think so are wrong.

Sheep based fun here:

Octodad: Dadliest Catch (PS4): COMPLETED!

Octodad: Dadliest Catch_20150904200449Firstly, I should point out that the lyrics to this game’s theme song have been wedged in my head for the last few days. Specifically “Octodad – nobody suspects a thing”. It’s so catchy.

As for the game, it’s frustrating, looks a lot like that original Xbox Leisure Suit Larry game in graphics quality and style, is impossible to control, had a terrible camera, and is awesome. You’re an octopus trying to live his life, implausibly with his family who are not octopi, as a human. You can’t speak, you can barely control your flailing tentacles, and – well – you look like a damn octopus.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch_20150903220648Your analogue triggers control moving the tentacles designated as your legs up and down, with R1 activating your hand-tentacle. The analogue sticks vaguely direct whichever fake limb you’re currently trying to control, and that’s pretty much your lot. Spill and flop your way around your house, try to make coffee with your flappy bits, clean up the garden, go shopping, and visit Octodad’s most hated of places – the aquarium. All while trying to be as human as possible else people begin to suspect you might be a cephalopod and not a slightly salty man after all.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch_20150904221829It’s a pretty short game, and aside from a bit near the end where you have to navigate on some planks of wood, it’s also pretty easy. It is a lot of fun, though, and throwing everything you can find all over the place never gets old. Not least in the bonus extra level where you and your wife go for a romantic meal and you can chuck the food, crockery and cutlery at the waiters.

Oh, and bonus marks for having toilets in the game. Any game with toilets in now gets an extra recommendation from me, and I’ve set up a Tumblr to record them.

Here’s a video of the final 40 minutes or so of the main story. Spoilers!

3D Gunstar Heroes (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_ntjmu71mq41svmpf2o1_400The second game of the day, with Heroes in the title!

I never completed Gunstar Heroes back in the day. In fact, I don’t think I ever played it much (I didn’t buy it until many years after release anyway). Or even enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m a heretic.

tumblr_ntjmsfgaqs1svmpf2o1_400But there’s something about these 3D ports on the 3DS that make you want to play them anyway, isn’t there? Otherwise why did I buy Altered Beast again? Hmm.

tumblr_ntjms41ps41svmpf2o1_400My main issue with Gunstar Heroes previously is it’s too hard. Or so I thought. One I’d picked up the “chaser/shot” combo it all suddenly became a lot easier to progress. Sure, I struggled a bit with some (most!) of the bosses, but the actual levels themselves were a walkover in comparison to previous attempts to play the game.

And it was fun! A lot of mostly mindless fun! Aside from Golden Silver at the end. He can do one. So many attempts.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Woverine_does_whatever_a_wolverine_does._Has_sharp_claws__is_mostly_harmlessI think this may actually be the first Lego game I’ve completed entirely in co-op. Lego Batman 2 and 3 were both mostly co-op, but Lego Marvel Super Heroes I’ve played only in co-op with my daughter. Which is nice.

There’s a lot of mopping up bricks to do, as usual. We’ve done some, after finishing the story, but we’re still only at around 52/250. Finding the rest is going to be a pain, as although most of them are on the New York City map, it’s often not clear what you need to do when you get to them. Of course, a fair few are going to come from redoing the levels again in Free Play. Having said that, in recent games I’ve not bothered going for 100%. I think Lego Harry Potter 2 was the first where I didn’t, and although I had a pretty good stab at it for Lego Batman 2, I haven’t tried at all for Lego Batman 3. I really should. It’s a lot of fun.

Anyway! This is telling you nothing about this game. Which there isn’t a great deal to talk about, actually. It’s more Lego super heroing, only with Marvel characters instead of DC ones like Batman 2 and 3. Like Batman 2 there’s a massive open hub world (New York City), which seems more dense and full of life than Gotham. The split up mini-hubs of Batman 3 were a step back, I thought. There’s also a handful of things to do on the SHIELD helicarrier, up int he sky above the city.

Galactus__Tiny_devourer_of_worlds__Or_small_objects__at_least.The story revolves around Galactus heading for Earth, and Doctor Doom, Loki and Magneto (as well as a few other less important baddies) seem to be taking advantage of this for a project of their own. As, variously, several Avengers, the Fantastic 4, Spider-Man and a few X-Men, you progress through the levels trying to beat these baddies and take back the Cosmic Bricks they’re stealing. The levels are all pretty standard Lego fare – different characters can activate different things, access different areas, or destroy or build certain types of blocks. They’re pretty varied, with settings underwater, in the Statue of Liberty and on a space station, and the characters you use are swapped frequently so you don’t get bored with the same ones.

The star of the show is Deadpool. He shows up for some of the bonus levels, and has his own room on the helicarrier where you buy found red bricks and watch the in-game movies and so on. In one of of the main levels, Doctor Octopus smashes through the Daily Bugle offices, and then in a bonus level later Deadpool narrates (with silly voices) as you, as Agent Coulson and Doc Ock, have to tidy up the mess. It’s very funny, and a memorable moment.

There aren’t any real surprises in the gameplay, and it’s a shame that two player “screen each” play sometimes makes the framerate nosedive (more so than in Batman 3, in fact, and that was bad at times), but it’s a solid Lego title and probably one of the best too. Although they’re all pretty great, truth be told.

Now I just need to find copies of Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego the Hobbit, and Lego Jurassic World and I’ll be up to date. Apart from Lego Dimensions (so called because your wallet needs a 4th dimension to hold all the money needed for it) which is out soon. Sigh.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4): COMPLETED!

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811211404I find the term “walking around simulator”, which games like this have often been categorised as, somewhat derogatory.  It’s as if there’s nothing to the game at all, bar walking around, and it should be derided because of this. Which is missing the point.  The aim of these games is not to “win”, not to solve puzzles and leap gaps and shoot Nazis, but to discover the story. Yes, you do this by walking around, but there’s more to it than that.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811214804In Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, erm, everybody’s gone to the rapture. You start off as an unknown person on the outskirts of a Shropshire village in 1984, near an observatory. You can’t enter the observatory as the gates are locked, so you need to travel a massive loop of the village to try and get in the back way. As soon as you set off you hear a radio message which alerts you to “an event”, and as you explore the village radios and telephones start to fill in some of the story behind what happened.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812212352

Along the way, orbs of light direct you to places of interest, where you see some conversations and actions leading up to The Event played out. Technically, you can just walk past everything and head for the end of the game, but then you really do have just a walking around simulator on your hands, and you’re missing both the point and the game.

When you reach the end, there’s no decisive conclusion and no full exposition of exactly what happened. It’s up to you to formulate in your head what you think occurred based on what you’ve seen and heard, and how you interpret what the “glowing light” actually is.

Almost as much fun as putting this together yourself, is reading what other people thought and how their theories compare to your own. With that in mind, here’s a big spoiler:

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150813222415

Obviously, there’s more to it than all this, but I’m not intending to write a dissertation! There are a lot of side stories as well, like the love triangle between Stephen, Lizzie and Kate, or Frank’s difficult relationship with his sister, all of which are explored literally by exploring. It’s intriguing and compelling finding out everything you can from the clues left behind, and the English village setting is beautiful to wander round.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150811212930The only minor negatives I have are that sometimes the walking pace, even with the “jog” button, is much too slow (especially when you realise you’ve missed something and have to backtrack for miles), and that there is a huge amount of asset reuse. The same shed, greenhouse, plastic garden table, white sheets on the washing line, Raleigh Burner-alike BMX bike and books are everywhere, repeated over and over again. Houses all have the same kitchen. Even the two pubs in the village have exactly the same “special offers board” and virtually the same layout inside. The worst copy and paste job is the large number of cars that are around the village – of which there are only about 5 or 6 types. This wouldn’t be a problem but they’re not just the same type of car, they’re exactly the same car with the same colour and same number plate.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812223056Sometimes you can see that it’s intentional, with, for example, a car appearing in one location with a Peter Pan hat and swords inside, then appearing later at the holiday camp where the kids were performing Peter Pan, but most of the time it’s just jarring. In one case there’s a carpark with two instances of the exact same van in it! There’s no reason why they couldn’t have replaced the number plates and colour-swapped the cars to mix it up a bit, surely? Or had a red-and-yellow Burner instead of a blue-and-yellow one occasionally? I realise it was a small team making the game, but this would surely have been a tiny job compared to the rest?

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812221952Another thing which was unimportant in the end but seemed necessary to record along the way was all the numbers broadcast on the radios (identical radios…). I started to get a little paranoid that I might miss one. Then I wondered if the names of the books were important. Or the times on the clocks (which were all stopped at the same time, as it turned out). Or the car number plates. I ended up documenting everything and – of course – none of it was needed. In fact, there was nothing you could even do with this information anyway.  This wasn’t the game’s fault of course, more mine for not having any idea what to expect and not wanting to miss anything that may be required later on. For new players: read and listen, but don’t bother making notes.

Should you play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture? Absolutely. Will you understand what you’ve just played when you come to the end? Possibly. Will it matter if you don’t? No, I don’t think so.

3D Streets of Rage 2 (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nstif2bq8c1svmpf2o1_400Streets of Rage 2 was always so much better than Streets of Rage 1 in so many ways. Better graphics, more moves, none of those stupid Blaze clones who are impossible to beat, and so on. It was also easier, but sadly the music isn’t quite as good. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

tumblr_nstieix7hm1svmpf2o1_400I played through it today on the 3DS (in lovely 3D), as Blaze (because Blaze is best and not because you can see her knickers oh who am I kidding of course it’s because you can see her knickers) and completed it faster than I was expecting to. I was certain it was at least two stages longer, but perhaps I was misremembering some levels from the other Streets of Rage games. It has been a while, I suppose.

tumblr_nstiesg0gl1svmpf2o1_400Once completed, the game unlocked “Fists of Death” mode, which I’ve started a playthrough of, as Skate (because Skate is worst). In this mode every enemy takes a single hit. Even bosses. It’s hilarious. I managed to do the first three stages without getting hit myself (I suspected I’d die in a single hit too, but luckily that wasn’t the case).


Tracking my gaming. For great victoly!