Catherine (PS3): COMPLETED!

You two-timing little…!

Contrary to some of the information I read about this game before playing it, and indeed the suggested content based on the box art, Catherine is not a game of nudity and boobs. In fact, if you were to buy the game for titillative purposes I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed.

catherine cover art
That’s your man Vincent there, trapped between a rock and a hard place.

That’s not to say the subject matter doesn’t make an appearance, as it does albeit in a just off screen or implied form. No, the game is about men cheating on women and coming to terms with this by becoming sheep and playing block pushing games in their nightmares.

Vincent is a man who is being pressured into marrying Katherine, his more successful long-term girlfriend. He’s not sure that’s what he wants yet, and this triggers a series of events where he’s haunted by these block game dreams, and finds himself in a relationship with the mysterious Catherine who he meets at his regular bar. As the game progresses, it’s clear Vincent doesn’t seem to have much of a say in what’s going on with Catherine, and once Katherine reveals she’s pregnant, things get complicated.

As Vincent spends his evenings drinking at the bar, we find out that other men who also drink there are having nightmares too. Nobody can remember them, but you – as the player – soon realise who the sheep you keep meeting in your dreams are. Sheep who die if they don’t make it through their nightmares, as reported by the grizzly news reports the next day.

One half of the game is the interaction between Vincent, his friends and fellow barflies, and the two women in his life. The other is the block moving and climbing game. The aim of these sections is to reach the top of a tower of blocks, by pushing and pulling them into position not completely unlike in the game Pullblox. Some blocks can’t be moved, others break if you stand on them, and other still explode, have spikes, push you, or otherwise cause problems on your ascent. As you climb, the lower blocks disappear meaning you can’t just stop and think for too long. At the end of each night there’s a level where you’re additionally chased by a demon of some kind who can thwart your progress, or kill you.

I’m not often one for block pushing games (and I’ve commented on the horror that is adding sokoban-style levels to games before), but this is a little different, and for the most part fun. A few levels were frustrating, including a later one where your climb can be stymied because of random blocks causing progress impossible: No amount of planning will let you past, but you have plenty of lives to play with, you can undo moves, levels are pretty short and most have checkpoints, all of which help.

As for my playthrough, it took around 12 hours and I completed it with the “I’m a good boy but lost my woman anyway” ending. Apparently this was mostly down to the choices I made during the final section of the game (you have to answer relationship questions after each level), so there’s a chance I might replay that bit and try for something better. Or maybe I won’t? Catherine is a decent enough game, and certainly more than worth the £1.60-ish I paid for it on PSN, but I’ve so many other titles vying for my attention I’m not sure I can justify another runthrough.


If you like slightly frantic puzzle titles with bizarre storylines that make you feel like a bad man, you’ll probably like Catherine. If you just like boobs, then there’s not enough here for you I’m afraid.

Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ (3DS): COMPLETED!

Which are easier to catch, cold cases, or pavements?

After finding out this was by the same ex-Cing folk who did Hotel Dusk and Last Window, I was really looking forward to Chase: Cold Case Investigations. It appeared on the eShop this week and of course I pounced on it immediately.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought I’d be getting some sort of point-and-click adventure game with a mystery attached, but what I actually got was a very short (90 minutes or so) interactive novel with some slight Phoenix Wright crime scene leanings. Not only that, but it ended on a cliff-hanger, implying there are more episodes to come.

tumblr_of5fdkpsik1svmpf2o1_400None of these are bad things, as it turned out, but I was a little disappointed to begin with. Thankfully, the plot took a turn at the half-way point and what seemed to (purposefully – it mirrors the main character’s feelings) be slow and boring became interesting and I want to find out more (also mirroring the character).

I can’t in all honesty recommend it yet, sadly. On its own, there’s not enough there and it’s frustrating that we don’t even know if there are later chapters to come (let alone when), so holding fire until they materialise might be wise. It’s just a shame that buy not purchasing Chase’s first episode that they may not get enough sales to warrant releasing the others – assuming others are planned. Catch 22, innit.


StreetPass Chef (3DS): COMPLETED!

Om nom nom nom nom

The longest of the new batch of StreetPass games, and the one most based on luck, StreetPass Chef becomes the last one for me to complete.

Like most of the other titles in the range, it’s pretty simple. Every colour of StreetPass visitor brings a different ingredient, and you cook meals to order using those ingredients. Initially, you’ve no recipe to work from, so your real-life cooking knowledge (or guesswork) comes into play. The closer to the ideal combination you cook, the more strength your diners are given as they set off to rescue the royal family from the evil monsters.

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That’s right – it’s the StreetPass Quest game, only from the point of view of a local cook. I can continue to play and find the remaining dishes for my recipe list if I want, but I’m not sure I’m that bothered. Maybe another time.

No Man’s Sky (PS4): COMPLETED!

This is mine, this is mine, all this is mine.

One hundred and fifty hours. It might not sound a lot, but consider this: it’s around the time it takes to drive from Edinburgh to London and back 10 times. Or approximately 20 sleeps. Or perhaps most fittingly, how long it would take Savage Garden to realise their dream of travelling to the moon and back. It is also, of course, how long it took me to reach the centre of the Euclid Galaxy in No Man’s Sky. And what a time it was.

If I may, I’d like to start by addressing all those people who complained to Valve, Hello Games, Sony, and the ASA about how No Man’s Sky is not the game presented to them before release. I don’t know exactly what you were expecting, but the game I downloaded is pretty much the same as what I was shown. Sure, I didn’t get the exact same animals or planets – why would I unless I visited the exact same locations – and I agree that the HUD was rearranged somewhat in the interim, but all the main points were there. All sorts of animals? Tick. Varied planets? Tick. Space battles? Tick. Billions of solar systems and planets? Tick. Certainly I would have welcomed more to do, but I can’t honestly say I was hoodwinked into purchasing the game and nor did I feel anything was missing.

An Escheresque rock formation.
An Escheresque rock formation.

No Man’s Sky is a mostly passive, relaxing experience. Collecting resources, using them to patch up and improve your equipment, and discovering wacky creatures and following titbits of narratives as you zip around the galaxy. Honestly, I’d be happy if that’s all there was to it, but occasional boosts of excitement, like running into space pirates or finding a planet of high value, but heavily defended rare resources punctuate the gameplay with something a little different. Some may tire of wandering a mostly barren landscape looking for more zinc, but many times I happily ditched my ship and picked a random direction to wander off in until I reached a location from where I could summon my ship again, and offload or sell my scavenged treasures.

no man's sky
Look at the contents of my bag. All those lovely albumen pearls. MONEY.

Ferrying high value contraband to shops might not sound like a lot of fun, but it is strangely entrancing. Landing on a planet and immediately seeing hundreds of verboten gravatino balls or sac venom gives a strange sort of thrill, and what might be seen as tedious inventory management by some is relished as a challenge by me, and a merry couple of hours is spent running from sentinels clutching mountains of forbidden goodies. Of course you can shoot the sentinels to get them off your tail, but then your pockets fill up with titanium extracted from their robot corpses – and nobody wants titanium when you’re saving the space for albumen pearls.

no man's sky

No Man’s Sky is very much a game of make-your-own entertainment. Picking a fight with a space freighter, for example. Those hung up on, the admittedly somewhat tedious, mining of rocks for essential materials like gold and heridium aren’t helping themselves. Grab some, and when bored, move on. Most things are abundant enough to not need a search either, so when you need a load of a certain isotope and the planet you’re on doesn’t immediately have massive stores of it, take off and try somewhere else. There’s hardly a shortage of places to look. Even the frustrating task of rebuilding parts of your warp engine after a Black Hole traversal damages them need not be if you stop playing the game as a race to the end and slow down, take your time, and drink it all in.

I know it’s trite to say that if you’re not enjoying something then you’re doing it wrong, but I genuinely believe it for this game. The onus is on you to make it fun, and it’s understandable that some folk are adverse to that because they want constant excitement and wonder on a plate. If what you’re doing isn’t fun, stop doing it and do something else. Try to track down all the animals on the planet. Blow stuff up. Hunt down every last Gek ship and destroy it. Locate crashed ships and repair them to replace yours. Get lost, find stuff, make fun.

no man's sky
You call that a knife?

With everything said, the game is not all happy and roses. There are flaws, although for me most are minor. Interaction with aliens is laughably limited, with everything done by text description rather than animation or action. Every outpost is virtually identical, or at least one of a small set of similar designs. The variety in flora and fauna isn’t quite as radical between planets as one would perhaps have hoped (although there have been a few truly bizarre and unique creations), with most places playing host to similar instances of Fan Tree Thing, Mushroom Thing, Horseshoe Crab Spider Thing, Bat Thing and Mound of Earth With Tufts Thing.

I suffered a few bugs of mostly the funny or benign variety (such as floating objects or animals stuck on or in stuff), although less funny was reaching the centre of the galaxy and having the game crash before I got to see what turned out to not be much of an ending. This happened twice, but thankfully my saved game remained intact and a third attempt allowed me to finish the game properly. At least, to one definition of finished anyway.

Another would be following the Atlas Path, which is Hello Games’ attempt at providing some sort of story mode for those who don’t have the imagination to just play – think of it as the instructions in a box of Lego – is ultimately unrewarding. You travel from system to system finding anomalies, each of which provides you with an Atlas Stone, and discovering some of the backstory to the universe you’ve found yourself in. Once you reach the end of the path, providing you have all ten Atlas Stones on hand (and you’ve not sold any, like I stupidly did – luckily some traders stock them for over 2 million units each) perhaps the most unsatisfying end to anything ever occurs. For me, it was just part of the whole experience and I was only mildly disappointed, but I expect many players exclaimed “Is that it?!” and smashed their PS4.

no man's sky
Spaceship Twins

Ultimately, No Man’s Sky is not a game that will suit everyone no matter how hard they try to play it to the title’s greatest strengths, but for those of us who want something low impact, expansive, beautiful and relaxing – with the bonus of offering OCD-levels of resource interaction if that appeals – there’s nothing better out there. The closest other game I can match it to isn’t Elite, which is probably the reason so many people think the game is underwhelming. They’re superficially similar in same way, say, Bioshock and Serious Sam are, but to expect Elite style gameplay in No Man’s Sky just backs up my argument that you are indeed “doing it wrong”. No, this fits more into the same category as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, just in first person and in space. If that sounds appealing, No Man’s Sky is for you.

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StreetPass Ninja (3DS): COMPLETED!

Naked Ninja Warrior

Perhaps the weakest of the five new StreetPass games, and certainly the most preposterous. The plot in-game is some nonsense about defeating warlords by being naked, shot out of a cannon, and grabbing kites flown by your StreetPass chums en-route to landing on the baddies’ faces.

No, really.

streetpass ninja

The game comes from lining the kites up so they match your trajectory, and the more you collect (and how accurately you do so), the more powerful your attack and defence are once you hit. Different levels mix things up by adding things like wind or clouds which make lining up the kites harder, but it remains very easy to progress and ultimately win. Like I did.

streetpass ninja

Completing it unlocks Hard Mode, which I don’t think I’m going to bother with. The other games so far have made me want to keep playing past the credits, but not StreetPass Ninja.

StreetPass Explorers (3DS): COMPLETED!

deKay and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

See, I said I thought I’d nearly completed another one, and verily it came to (street) pass that I did. StreetPass Explorers uses the distance your collected chums have walked, rather than their favourite colours, to determine how far you can explore a map.

Dotted around the map are bags with items in, wild animals who want to eat you, rocks to break through, snowballs to jump over and magic treasure to collect and piece together. It’s pretty good, although maddeningly frustrating when you run out of steps just before reaching your goal and on your next turn, complete with a full compliment of 10 explorer helpers, travel three pixels and waste all their steps. As happened lots of times to me.

streetpass explorers

Like the other new StreetPass games, play is swift and the game overall isn’t too long. There’s also more to do, again like the other titles, once it’s complete.

Ranma 1/2 (SNES): COMPLETED!

Half a sixpence, is better than half a romance.

Another retro game chosen pretty much at random today, but Ranma 1/2 is leagues ahead of Running Battle, despite not being all that fantastic itself.

It’s a one-on-one fighting game, and clearly doesn’t have the depth of anything like Street Fighter II, or even Fatal Fury. You’ve four buttons, light and heavy attacks, jump, and block. Pressing both attack buttons together performs a special move, which for Ranma himself (who I played as) is some sort of whirlwind thing which rarely did anything useful.


Since I know a little of the original Ranma 1/2 story, having characters I knew elevated it a bit higher than other similar games from the same era. Each foe required different tactics to beat as well, which made it more interesting but looking at it now it seems this was to replace proper reactive AI. I can see it being a lot more fun in two player mode.

In single player though, it was far too easy (I didn’t lose a single round) and so over too quickly. A lack of moves is a minus as well, although since I had no instructions it’s possible there were a load I just didn’t figure out, despite trying Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat style control acrobatics.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing about the game is that it came out in the west, as it’s just about the most Japanese thing ever. Mind you, Goeman did too, so who knows.

Running Battle (MS): COMPLETED!

Run Baby Run

Oh my is this a crap game. I picked it on a whim, expecting (for no real reason) for it to be like Rolling Thunder or possibly Last Battle. In fact, it’s not as good as either of those.

running battle

Starting out more like Streets of Rage but after one level it turns into the most repetitive single-plane side scrolling punchkickjump game ever. Sometimes you get guns which you can’t use when jumping or crouching. Or on bosses. Aside from the first section, all the other levels are virtually identical with a slight change of layout or palette.

There are several bosses, the first of which is near impossible, the second and third are walkovers (just trap them in the corner and keep crouch-punching them), and Milacle Man (no really, that’s his name) can kill you in a single hit but is easily beaten once you know how. Then the final boss, M, is a rehashed Dr Wily machine from one of the Mega Man games.

Running Battle is utterly dire, has no redeeming features, and I completed it so that you don’t have to.

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StreetPass Slot Racer (3DS): COMPLETED!

The Iceman cometh

That’s two of five down already! These new StreetPass games seem quite a bit shorter than the previous ones, so far anyway.

StreetPass Slot Racer is basically Scalextric. You play by holding down A to go, and letting go of A to slow down – and you need to time doing this on corners and jumps correctly in order to get the best speed boosts. There are a fair few courses to work up through as you rank up, and the final “boss” is a head to head race with Iceman, the world champion slot car race driver.

streetpass slot car

This final race was actually really easy, but unlocking him was hard as one of the challenges before him needs you to finish in under 46 seconds. THREE TIMES I managed 46.07. So frustrating!

There’s more to do now though, and some new ranks have opened up, so like Trader I’ll keep playing. It’s looking like the next one to be completed might be Explorers, so watch this space.

StreetPass Trader (3DS): COMPLETED!

Prices may go down as well as up.

I have been playing other stuff as well as No Man’s Sky, you know. Including all five new StreetPass games, and the best one, Trader, I completed today.


It’s pretty simple: You buy stocks when the market is low, and sell when the prices are high. People you have StreetPassed help predict the trends, and different companies have different stock prices. The more times you trade in a certain company, the more expensive their shares become, and so the more you can profit (or lose!). That’s pretty much all there is to it.

It might be the simplest of all the StreetPass titles, but it’s the one out of the new batch of them I’m finding most fun, even though it is the most boring on paper.

Anyway, I’ve completed it by making 100 Million G, but there’s a further goal of 10 Billion G (I’m assuming US Billion otherwise it’ll take forever) which I’m aiming for next.

No Man’s Sky (PS4)

Space. The final front ear.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything here for a few weeks. There’s a good reason for that: No Man’s Sky came out.

It has been a long time since I’ve seen any game divide players quite so much, as it seems everyone really does love it or hate it without much of a middle ground. I can see where the haters are coming from, but for me, it is almost exactly what I expected it to be.


Perhaps that’s because, after the first few videos of the game way back years ago, I stuck No Man’s Sky on media blackout. I’d seen enough to excite me, and everything else was spoilers. I preordered it as soon as it was on the Playstation Store, and eagerly waited for it to unlock. My first hour or so with the game is documented here, so I’ll skip over that. Since then, though?

It has been incredible. Yes, it’s much shallower than perhaps it looks. Despite the infinite possible combinations of planet, weather, flora, fauna and landscape, and the fact every location is pretty unique, sure – there’s a lot of repetition. The same buildings, animals, rocks and plants (or very near facsimiles) appear all over the place, and the conversations you have and machines you interact with all become overly familiar far too soon.


I say too soon, but in reality, I’ve spent over 80 hours on it so perhaps not soon at all. Not that it matters, because I’m still having an enormous amount of fun, exploring worlds and tracking down all the creatures on it, or playing grab-and-run with valuable detritus, legging it back to my ship or a shop with angry sentinels on my tail. Perhaps, on a laid-back planet I’ll disembark from my craft, point myself vaguely at a distant marker, and take a stroll. Along the way I may see many new things, have a swim, stumble across some rare materials, or (and this is common) fill my inventory miles from anywhere and have no ship to help we travel to a shop to flog the lot. And you know what? That’s still great.

There’s some low level crafting, and equipment to improve, replace or repair, your mining/shooting/grenading hybrid multitool to constantly swap for more capable ones, and a plethora of ships to find or buy. All of which is fine, but the best bit for me? Just wandering round, taking it all in, and trying to make as much money as I possibly can from selling my findings and uploading my scans.


I’ve been naming all the systems and planets (all boy’s names, four letters – that’s The Rules), and scanning everything like I have OCD. This is where I think others have felt let down: They wanted more to do. People to shoot, animals to hunt, multiplayer, more variety. Bases to build and more crafting stuff, more purpose and proper goals. I can see that, but none of it matters to me as No Man’s Sky appeals to me just how it is right now.

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As I see it there are three goals in the game, which I hear have no real rewards. There’s completing the Atlas Path, which I’m halfway towards now (it would be quite a quick task, but I keep getting sidetracked), getting all of the Journey Milestones (such as do so many warps, destroy so many ships, make so much money, etc.) most of which I have now, and reaching the centre of the galaxy, which I intend to do once the Atlas Path is done. Even if they weren’t there, though, I think I’d still be more than happy.

Here’s to another 80 hours! Oh, and if you want to see some of my No Man’s Sky videos, take a look at this playlist:

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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