Sakura Spirit (Mac): COMPLETED!

Foxy lady

It’s a common story – man enters judo competition, finds shrine, warps to parallel world, meets two boob-woman soldiers obsessed with him, meets two boob-woman fox spirits also obsessed with him, all the women get accidentally naked every seven seconds, and then four bad boob-woman slime spirits turn up and it’s up to you and all the friendly boob-women to save the day!

All interspersed with barely-covered boobs, barely-covered bums, and lots of conversations about knickers.

Sakura Spirit

It sounds like filth, but in actual fact, it’s really very tame. The story is nonsense, the dialogue is full of spelling mistakes and is embarrassing for non-sexy reasons, and it’s not actually much of a game at all. It’s a picture book with one (or maybe two?) decisions that need to be made, neither of which appear to affect anything bar the following couple of sentences.

Sakura Spirit

Having four women constantly undressing for you either accidentally or on purpose but at the same time both they and you are in a state of permanent bashfulness isn’t as sexy as it sounds (not least because nothing is ever actually exposed anyway) and frankly it just gets in the way of the story. Which also isn’t very good. It’s a Carry On film set in ancient Japan, with fox spirits instead of Barbara Windsor.

And no, I didn’t buy it. And neither should you.

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Performa! Let’s go away!

Oh yes. Now this is a damn fine game. I’ve always liked JRPGs although it’s few that I finish mainly due to their overwhelming length, or in some cases, complexity or difficulty. I thoroughly enjoyed Persona 4 Golden for the 10 or 15 hours I put into it, but something about the complicated Persona system confused me enough to cause me to back away. Having completed Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I’m dying to get it back in.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Why would Tokyo Mirage make me want to get back to Persona? Because Tokyo Mirage is Persona, only with a light Fire Emblem theme and a more streamlined, easier to understand, weapon and skill system. It’s My First Persona, and that is absolutely in no way putting it down – it’s a way into the world of Persona and is more than awesome enough in its own right too.

I loved the setting, the quirky Japaneseness, the characters and the real world (almost) locations. The acting and singing as a form of “training” for battle and unlocking abilities is crazy but works, with performances of some great JPop tracks. I became obsessed with the Carnage weapons and their upgrade system, unlocking skills and powers as you go. I don’t recall playing a game where as well as levelling up your characters, you can also level up your powers and your weapons, and even your capabilities as a performer allowing even more skills and abilities.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Dungeons don’t feel like dungeons, even though they plainly are, and each isn’t just differently themed, they have their own puzzle mechanic – from finding the correct order of buttons to press, to running errands, to essentially a variant on a slide puzzle. It might have just six or so of these Idolaspheres, once for each chapter, but they’re large and full of surprises, especially when you return to them later and access different areas.

There’s a well paced difficulty curve, but if you find things difficult and decide to push that JRPG staple of grinding, the game helps out by providing not only a specific area – the arena – full of enemies, but also two skills or items you can use to summon random encounters at a higher rate, or even higher level enemies more frequently.

As for my playthrough, I spent 70 excellent hours working my way to the final boss, and another five failing, levelling and then defeating him. Seventy five hours of glorious combat, funny dialogue and twisted Tokyo. Quite possibly my game of the year so far.

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Beware Planet Earth (PC): COMPLETED!

I can moooove moooove mooooove any Martian

I continued playing this again a few days ago having “paused” almost exactly a year ago. I think I’d struggled on a level and lost interest, but it is actually a very good tower defence game. I resumed it part way through Autumn (the game is split into four chapters, one for each season), and quickly progressed to Winter, where I ran into difficulty.

Beware Planet Earth

It’s just so damn hard. In the final season, you have to deal with your weapons freezing, and although you get an item to help negate this later on, it’s not cheap and uses up precious space on the map. Eventually though, I made it to the end boss who was surprisingly simple – or not surprisingly, considering a power-up you’re given right at the end.

I can definitely recommend Beware Planet Earth, especially if you like this sort of game. And it has a toilet in it, so what more can you want?

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McPixel (Mac): COMPLETED!

Not as bad as the film Pixels, maybe.

Filling the five-minutes-here-and-there hole left by Gunpoint, is this – McPixel. It’s sort of like Warioware in that you’ve only a few seconds to complete each level, but different in that you have more seconds, and that to win you mostly just randomly click on things with little or no logic. A speed point-and-click adventure game, if you will.

McPixel 2016-08-03 at 16.43.43

McPixel is funny, and I mostly enjoyed it, but too many of the levels involve finding an almost imperceptibly different background tile, or a few indistinct pixels to click on, sometimes in combination with other unrecognisable items in order to beat them.

I can’t recommend it for anything more than novelty value, unfortunately, but since I got it for free I’m not going to complain too much. And I completed it (although didn’t stretch to the bonus and DLC levels), which counts for something, perhaps.

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Missing: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One (Mac): COMPLETED!

I’ll tell you what’s actually missing: the rest of the game.

Missing: An Interactive Thriller, is rubbish. Not so much the game itself, which is very much in Zero Time Dilemma/Room Escape style only with actual full motion video, more the fact that this is it. Episode One, it seems now that I’ve finished it and looked for the next in the series, is all that they’ve made, or will ever likely make.

missing

It’s not a fantastic game, as the puzzles are mostly too simple, or too vague (needing you to move the pointer over everything), and there are a few “CLICK HERE!!!!!11!!1” QTEs which don’t quite gel with the rest of what’s going on, but it isn’t really bad. The acting of everyone bar the main guy is poor, and there are pangs of Night Trap about it, but I did enjoy it enough to want to play the rest.

Which won’t happen because there isn’t any. So I can’t really recommend it any more than I can the first chapter of a book.

missing

Gunpoint (Mac): COMPLETED!

The irony is, you don’t have a gun to point. At least, not until near the end.

Considering all the games I’ve completed in the first half of 2016, I’ve been a little bit lax recently, it would appear. The main cause is, of course, the fantastic Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (which I’m over 55 hours into now), but I’ve also been catching up on demos on the Wii U and 3DS – I may post about those later.

Gunpoint, however, is something I’ve been playing off and on over the last week. Each level is pretty short, and you can save whenever you want (and if you die you can rewind a few seconds, which is a great feature), so it lends itself well to a few minutes play every so often.

The aim of the game is to infiltrate various buildings and retrieve/destroy/plant evidence or computer files, with the overarching plot relating to you being a freelance spy with hugely powerful spring boots working for three different sides, to various degrees, in a murder case. A case you’re involved in yourself, leading to bizarre situations like having to recover CCTV footage may contain evidence that would incriminate yourself.

Gunpoint

Each level plays out with three main skills. You can jump really high, or far, and use this to scale walls, smash though windows, or pounce on guards. You can (after the first couple of levels) hack electronic devices too, rewiring the building so that, for example, a light switch now opens a door, or a security camera calls a lift. Finally, you can punch (and later, shoot) guards, although to score highly you need to be silent, undetected and refrain from violence.

Gunpoint

Far from being a platform game like the superficially similar The Swindle, the emphasis is much more on puzzle solving, with often many solutions – sometimes clever, sometimes funny. Wiring up a motion sensor to a plug socket so that one guard electrocutes another elsewhere in the building never ceases to entertain. As you unlock more abilities (such as more powerful jumps or additional gadgets), more solutions present themselves. I realised that I could, on a very late mission, use a light switch to trigger a guard’s gun for instance – and he merrily shot his own guardchums.

Gunpoint isn’t a long game (three hours, perhaps?) but it’s clever, makes you feel clever, and is genuinely fun and funny. If only I could remember, like most of my Steam games, why I own it.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Just an illusion

Oh is this proper good. Properly proper good. It’s a very Persona-like JRPG (in fact, it’s a spin off from the same series Persona is, so that’s not surprising), and I’m really enjoying it.

I did get a bit hooked on Persona 4 Golden on the Vita a while back, but I never finished it, or even got that far into the game. Two reasons probably contributed to that – it was on the Vita, and I’d got to a bit where Personas could be merged or something and it all got a bit confusing and complicated. Also with Persona 4 there was always the slight worry I’d not finish the game, or at least complete all the side missions and stories, before the in-game year was up. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (the #FE is important, and is “sharp eff ee”, not “hash eff ee”, apparently) fixes all these issues.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

At it’s core, it’s the same. You wander round some small areas, talk to people, buy stuff, and so on. Then you do dungeons, which in Persona 4 are accessed by entering the TV, but in Tokyo Mirage Sessions you go through gates that appear in various locations. Inside each of these gates is an Idolasphere, a corrupted realm inhabited by Mirages. Most of them are evil, some are not. So far, so the same as Persona.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

However, whereas the Persona system of, erm, Personas (which provide skills and stuff) is a bit complicated, the Performas in this are much simplified. Things you do in the game, items you collect, and foes you defeat provide things you combine with Performas to give you permanent buffs (like higher HP, or ability to withstand one normally fatal hit per battle) called Radiant Unities. Weapons are forged in a similar way, and are called Carnage Unities, and using weapons in battle unlocks new moves and skills. It’s more straightforward than my description suggests, I’m sure.

You_ain_t_anywhere_near_metal_enough

So where does the #FE come in, you may ask. The sharp presumably references the musical element of the game – your characters (or some of them, anyway) aspire to be Japanese idols. You know, models, singers, that sort of thing, and singing is actually a power in this game. The FE references Fire Emblem, as characters from that game series appear in Tokyo Mirage Sessions as good Mirages that team up with your characters to allow them to have these ridiculous skills and abilities. I think originally there was to be more to the Fire Emblem link than that, but so far that’s as far as it goes.

As I’ve already said, the game itself is so, so good. There’s a great sense of progression as your team and powers level up, and the separate idolaspheres have so far been totally different to each other, and are more than just labyrinthine dungeons: They have puzzles, one way routes, secrets and even their own subquests. It’s a joy to play, and I’m currently 21 or so hours in, and have just been beaten for the first time (and surely not the last time) by the boss at the end of chapter 3.

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There’s Poop in My Soup (Mac): COMPLETED!

Waiter…

Yes, the game is really called that. Yes, you can defecate in someone’s soup. You can also do it on their heads. And on dogs. And everywhere. That’s the idea.

It’s a totally stupid concept but since it was just 52 pence (in fact, less than that as I had some free credit) on Steam I bought it, played it a lot, poo’d everywhere, got all the achievements, and have now classed it as completed.

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS): COMPLETED!

I whip my hair back and forth

The original Shantae on the Game Boy Colour (which I played on the 3DS VC not that long ago) was a lovely little platformer with some slight issues: it was very, very hard, and there was a lot of backtracking and wandering aimlessly. I really enjoyed it, but I was a little concerned the followups were going to have the same problems. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse does not, I was pleased to discover.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Maximum Spider

I picked the game up as part of that Nintendo Humble Bundle a while back and now I’ve played it I can say it’s a definite highlight of that pack. It looks incredible, especially in 3D, and fixes all of issues of the original game. There’s backtracking, but there’s an item that warps you to the start of each area and several upgrades and shortcuts you can use to speed around the place. It’s not exactly easy, especially the final area on the way to the end of game boss, but it is substantially more accessible than the GBC title. Baddies don’t take hundreds of hits, and those that do can be dispatched easier if you buy the available upgrades in the shop. I found that many could be defeated more easily later in the game using extra moves I’d unlocked too.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Castlevania

These moves, like a dash, a triple jump and a down-attack also turn Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse into a Metroidvania type platformer, even more so than the (no longer available) animal morphs of the original, allowing access to new areas. There’s even a fill-in-all-the-squares Castlevania style map, and an dungeon filled with skeletons which apes Castlevania even more. As before, your hair is your weapon, and is basically a whip anyway!

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
This bit was tricky

Hidden around the game, some more difficult to find and/or reach than others, are evil cacklebats, each corrupted by Dark Magic. A side quest, to unlock the “proper” ending, is to defeat all 20 of these creatures. I managed it although finding two of them took ages! There are also hidden squid which, when you collect four, gives you an extra health heart. I didn’t get them all, but they’re not important for the story.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Filler boss

My only (tiny) disappointment with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse was that each area borrows very heavily from areas in the first game, with most of the baddies from that returning. Yes, they’re redrawn and look incredible, but they’re the same as they were before. There are a few new ones, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. The bosses are all new (bar one, who literally tells you he’s a filler boss now, having returned from a previous game) and they’re all fun to beat.

Definitely one of Wayforward’s best games, although most of their output is pretty special. I’m really interested in playing their HD remake of the DSi Shantae game now too!

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Battlefield 4 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Very few fields, actually.

No sooner had I posted about playing Battlefield 4, did I complete it. I literally had just ten minutes of game left, and that didn’t even involve any combat. Of course, the credits were a hundred years long afterwards.

Battlefield

My thoughts on the game are this: It’s aight.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it. It’s a straightforward, mostly linear shootmans with lots of swearing and some big set pieces. The voice acting is OK, the gunplay is fine, and the controls are perfectly usable (even if I do keep getting L1 and R1 mixed up and drop grenades at my feet). It even looks quite pretty.

Ultimately though, it’s not really my sort of game. I enjoyed it enough to keep playing until the end, but upon doing so I didn’t feel like I’d played anything groundbreaking or important, I’d merely been passing the time until it was over and now I’ll move onto something else.

I understand the multiplayer is fantastic. I wouldn’t know as I’ve no intention of playing it – I dislike most online shootmans more than most offline shootmans. Now the question is, should I start on Battlefield Hardline?

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Things I’ve been playing recently

Play ALL the things.

I’ve not done a roundup post for a while, but I have been playing quite a lot of stuff. Regardez:

BattlefieldBattlefield 4 (PS4)

I’m not a fan of shootmans, but I am a fan of bargains, so Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline together for around a fiver was a steal. Then I did an odd thing: I actually played Battlefield 4. Not only that, but I think I’m quite near the end. It’s been quite good actually, although at this point I’m finding it a little bit repetitive – enter area, snipe everyone, move on. Naturally I could mix up my play style and use some different guns but when I tried that it didn’t go well. Tanks and boats and stuff did add some variety at least. Online? No.

HYRULE WARRIORSHYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS (3DS)

Which is still amazing. There’s more DLC this week, but in the meantime I’m nowhere near finished. I have beaten the boss on the first Adventure Map (unlocking a second) and unlocked most of the characters. It’s just so much fun – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Unravel Demo (PS4)

I’ve actually bought the full game as a result of being impressed with the demo. That and 1) it was on offer, and 2) my daughter was quite adamant I had to. She’s played the full game but I’ve only done the demo. It feels a lot like Limbo so far, albeit brighter and cuter.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FETokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Ever since seeing this when it was announced I’ve been interested. I wasn’t entirely sure why, as I had no idea how the game mechanics would even work – some sort of cross between Akiba’s Trip, Idolmaster and Fire Emblem? Maybe? Who knows. It didn’t matter. Turns out, having bought it on release, it’s Persona. And it’s very most excellent, even if I’m only a few hours in so far. I really should get back into Persona 4 Golden, actually. Stupid Vita.

Table Top RacingTable Top Racing World Tour (PS4)

This was a free rental on PS+, and it’s not very good. Somehow, though, I’ve been playing it off and on and I’m just over halfway through the game. It makes me pine for Micro Machines and how much better that is than this, which is slow and has boring (and very few) tracks.

Assassin's Creed UnityAssassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)

I’m still playing it! I completed it not so long ago, but I’m still having fun doing side quests and mopping up all the collectables. Been a few Assassin’s Creed games since I last did that, so it’s obviously pushing the right buttons.

ShantaeShantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)

So many boobladies. In eyepopping 3D! But as well as that, Shantae is a fantastic platformer with metroidvania elements. I’d enjoyed the original GBC game on the 3DS Virtual Console so when it was available as part of that frankly ludicrous Nintendo Humble Bundle I was very pleased indeed. I’m quite a way through it too, having been unable to put it down for a whole weekend, and I’ve just one main area left to clear, I think.

The Temple of No (Mac): COMPLETED!

No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no there’s no temple.

Well, I say Mac, but in fact it’s a web browser game built in TWINE. It’s a narrative discovery game in the same sort of vein as Gone Home and Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, the latter of which is by the same people.

Temple of No

As it’s TWINE, and therefore basically a text medium choose your own adventure, it isn’t as technically impressive as those other games. The story is fun, self referential and sarcastic. It’s short, I’m not sure it’s possible to not complete it (unless you just quit, I suppose), but it’s definitely worth a play. And it’s free, so you’ve no excuse. You can find it here.

Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS): COMPLETED!

Kirby Your Enthusiasm

You know, I hadn’t even realised Kirby: Planet Robobot was out already, and then I got it as a Father’s Day present. And it’s only bloody excellent.

Kirby: Planet Robobot

I know some recent-ish Kirby games have been a step away from the normal “inhale baddies, copy their abilities” model of old, so I was a little worried Planet Robobot might be similar, especially as the core addition is Kirby’s new mech suit. I needn’t have worried though, as this is proper Kirby – and when in the mech? It’s still proper Kirby.

Kirby: Planet RobobotHappy colourful levels with definitely Kirby-sounding music mixes with metallic surfaces and robots, but it’s clearly a standard Kirby game. There are multiple (usually two, sometimes more) planes of play, with Kirby popping into and out of the screen in fantastic 3D, but this just adds to the game rather than change anything fundamental. Some puzzles (mostly to obtain Core Cubes, needed to unlock boss levels) use this fore- and background swapping to great effect.

Kirby: Planet RobobotThe levels themselves are pretty big, although with 6 worlds (and a final boss fight 7th world) and just 4 or 5 levels in each it isn’t a large game overall. At least, I thought that until I’d beaten the game and two more modes unlocked! One of which is to play a modified “remix” of the game again, only as Meta Knight, who doesn’t have any copy ability nor does he have a mech suit. That will make some of the mini boss fights interesting!

Kirby: Planet RobobotThe game itself was incredibly good fun. I raced through it in just a few days mainly because it was so much fun I couldn’t put it down. Sure, it isn’t difficult either (I died maybe five times in total, ending the game with over 40 lives) although getting a few Core Cubes is pretty tricky – I’ve not collected them all so that’s something left to do. My only complaint would be in the SuckySuck(TM) Bit at the end where there’s a Boss Rush (albeit with a powered up suit which makes short work of them all) and then the final boss has a multitude of additional forms. Not hard, so not frustrating, but a bit clichéd.

Best Kirby game in ages. Probably since the SNES Kirby’s Dreamland 3, in fact.

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Doom Demo (PS4)

That’s one Doomed space marine

Just a quick post about this, really. Not least because the demo is pretty short. Now, I did enjoy the original Doom games but Doom 3, as a more survival horror title, wasn’t my sort of thing at all. Since then, I’ve veered away from first person shooters in general, especially if the main thing they involve is, well, shooting. I prefer to have to think a bit, so Bioshock and Dishonoured both appeal more.

However, because it’s been getting a lot of good press and it’s there, I thought I’d try the Doom (that’s new Doom, please stop using the same name for different games, games companies!) demo.

And? I liked it! It’s big and fast and bright, exactly like Doom 3 isn’t. It’s wide open spaces not dark grimy corridors. It’s crushing the skulls of baddies in over the top ways. Mindless, quick, old-school, shooty fun. I was very surprised.

Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4): COMPLETED!

Everything is permitted. Except parking here between 8am and 6pm.

You may think that because of the way I’ve haphazardly been playing this off and on over the last couple of months (or more) that I’ve not been enjoying it, but that’s actually not true. I have enjoyed it quite a lot, it’s just other games have been sidetracking me.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Over the last week I’ve made a conscious effort to “get it done”, in a straightforward way: just the story. I was finding it all too easy to be distracted by side missions and collectables and that in turn was having an effect on how I was following the story (and I do so like to follow stories), which coupled with intermittent play wasn’t conducive to getting through the game. The upshot is, that I barrelled through the last three or four sequences and finished the game.

Assassin's Creed UnityIn many ways, Assassin’s Creed Unity is a return to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, with almost all the action taking place in Paris, not unlike how Brotherhood was in Rome. There’s no III/IV/Rogue boating nonsense here – it’s proper back-to-basics assassining which is familiar and fun. A downside is the number of weapons at your disposal are a little reduced, but it doesn’t really suffer for it.

Assassin's Creed UnityConcentrating on the story allowed me to ignore many of the many hundreds of icons on the map, which clutter the place and make the missions seem unwieldy. Just vantage point, targets and sometimes shops were generally enough, and now I’ve completed the game and acquired a fantastic new sword, I can merrily run around Paris with gay abandon mopping up all the chests, crests, cockades, side missions and other attractions.

So is it any good? A lot of people would tell you no, Unity is not. The story is not especially strong, and the plot muddies the water between assassins and Templars to the point where it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on – both have a stake in the French Revolution (but seemingly for the same reason), and there’s an uneasy truce between the two age-old adversaries for much of the game. In fact, the final boss (spoiler?) would appear to be a Templar working the Order for his own gain, dispatching more of his own “team” than those who would traditionally oppose him. It’s odd, but after previous games it’s something different, I suppose.

 

Assassin's Creed UnityGameplay is the same as before, albeit with the ability to create distraction or assistance opportunities when mounting an attack. Rescue some prisoners and they’ll occupy the guards, for example. There are more “predetermined” methods of offing your mark too, but that flies a bit against the free-form “do it however you want” way of earlier games. You can still do that, but you’re suggested ways of achieving your goal. Perhaps that’s for the casual players or something – I rarely stuck to them.

Graphically it’s a massive leap from Rogue, as you’d expect being on newer hardware, but aside from far more people roaming the streets and a longer draw distance when synchronising viewpoints, it’s not really that important.

Assassin's Creed UnityI’m not sure where in the hierarchy of Assassin’s Creed games I’d put Unity, but it’s certainly better than III and the first game, of course, and it’s probably the best non-boating one since Brotherhood. In the middle, maybe? It’s certainly pretty good, and I expect many of the complaints at release (bugs and performance issues) simply aren’t there any more. I’ve certainly not seen many – fewer than most titles in the series at least. Assassin’s Creed Unity is definitely recommended, especially if you loved the earlier games.

Here’s my almost complete, spoiler filled playthrough. If you’re interested.