Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch): COMPLETED!

What is it like to be… hu-man?

Sometimes, I wonder if my game playing skills have deteriorated over the years. A combination of getting older, and games getting easier. It’s likely. It’s with trepidation that I tackled The Dragon’s Trap then, as I always found the original much too hard.

dragon's trap

As far as I can make out, the new version does nothing to make things easier. It’s a reskin, with everything in the same place. Enemies take the same damage. There aren’t any new powers or anything to help. I wasn’t sure I’d manage it.

It’s true that The Dragon’s Trap was indeed difficult. However, when I took my time, actually watched the baddies, anticipated their movements and attacks, I realised it was doable. Just like in the old days. Funny that. Grinding for money to buy better equipment helped too. Sure, I messed up a lot. Died one hell of a lot. But today, I beat the final boss.

Not that I realised it was the final boss. I thought there’d be at least one more after it, but no – up came the end of game sequence. Oddly enough, the final boss was by far the easiest. He was easy to dodge. You could hit him anywhere (not just his head like with the other dragons), and you automatically block all his attacks. Assuming you face him, anyway. No epic final battle, sadly, and although I was sure I’d have to return to the castle afterwards, alas, this was not the case.

It doesn’t really matter. I had my fun and beat a game I’d never beaten before.

Claire: Extended Cut (Vita)

Claire as mud.

I was given this, kindly, by @IndieGamerChick some time ago but only just got round to playing it. Turns out, I wasn’t really missing much in the interim.

Claire is a narrative discovery game, in 2D (unlike most which are 3D), with some nice pixel art. The story interests me, revolving around some odd happenings in a hospital. Claire is there seemingly because her mum is really not well, but after falling asleep Claire experiences some weirdness.

The hospital becomes empty, run-down, and dark. There’s a dog. Shadows of monsters flicker in the dim candlelight. Stuff moves by itself. Claire has flashbacks, or at least, what seem like them, to when she was a child. I don’t understand anything happening. That doesn’t matter.

Claire
Dark here, innit?

What does matter, is two things. Everything is dark. Really dark. Stupidly dark. Even with the brightness up full, you can’t see a damn thing. You have a torch, which barely helps. The pixel art might be the most incredible pixel art ever created, but you can’t see it because it’s too dark.

The other thing, is the map. Long time readers might recall me complaining about the 3D map for a 2D game problem that Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate has. Basically, you’d sometimes enter a door on the left, and this would put you on a different plane and so left was now down not left. Or something. Well, Claire suffers from the same thing. Navigating from A to B is hard enough anyway (too dark to see the doors, half the doors don’t open) without throwing illogical directions into the mix too.

Especially since where I am currently, I need to find a nurse in Paediatrics. You’d think that’d mean the nurse’s station, right? It’s labelled on the map, and signposted (if you manage to see them) on the wall, so you’d expect that. But no. Instead, I have to wander the entire hospital blindly (both literally and figuratively), not knowing if some of the rooms on the map can’t be accessed or if I just haven’t figured out how, or missed the door in the dark.

Claire
And not really much less dark here.

What I’m saying here, is that Claire – for all of it’s interesting points – is a frustrating chore to play. So I’m not sure if I’ll bother any more. And that’s a shame.

As an aside, and this isn’t the game’s fault at all, but my Vita is a crashy, broken, pile of crap. It’s lucky if I can manage an hour without it crashing. It’s not the memory card, and the error messages are generic and mean nothing. What this means is, that my desire to play Claire is reduced even further as a result – you can’t save at any time, yet my Vita could kick me off whenever it fancies. Sigh.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch)

Sitting oh so proudly.

To my forever shame, I never completed Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap on the Master System. I own it of course, and played it a lot years ago. As most people will agree, it’s a fantastic game, but somehow, even with the infamous WE5T ONE “cheat” I could never beat it.

Until now!

If only. No, it’s still hard.

This new remake isn’t really a remake. It’s a reskin. Everything bar the sound and graphics are exactly like the original. It doesn’t look like it, but all the blocks, items, baddies and objects are exactly where they used to be, and attack or respond in the same way. Only now they have fancy new graphics and animation! There’s actually a button you can press at any moment that “unskins” the game and lets you play it just as it was on the Master System. You can swap back and forth whenever you like. It’s black magic.

wonder boy

Which means, it’s the same game as before. Thankfully, it was a great game before and so still is now. But oh so hard.

I’ve worked my way through Dragon Girl (oh yeah, you can be a girl now) and Mouse Girl’s sections, and have beaten a few bosses. I can’t defeat Pirate Dragon though, as he’s clearly impossible. I’ve managed to upgrade some of my equipment, found an extra heart, and bagged some special weapons, but all in vain as I fell once more. Hmm.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

The Lynel Sleeps Tonight

I think… I’m done with Breath of the Wild.

After completing the game, I’ve spent another 40 or so hours mopping up various things. I’ve found all the memories, and beaten every one of the 120 shrines. Most of the armour sets in the game are now done, I’ve explored about as much as I want to, and I’ve even beaten a Lynel. With all this, I walked back into the castle, and stomped all over Ganon as I’m stupidly overpowered now. Game completed. Again.

Certainly, I’ve some stuff left to do should I wish to return: Of the 900 Koroks, I have just 150-ish. There are at least ten side-quests remaining, and a few more shrine quests (which I’ve completed, but have to trigger the start of in order for them to register as completed, if you see what I mean). And I think I probably will return, at some point. Perhaps when the DLC is out and I can see what it actually contains. A new area of the map with more shrines and another boss would be good.

For now, though, it’s time to move onto other games. Is Breath of the Wild the best game ever? No 1. Is it the best Zelda game ever? No 2. Is it the best 3D Zelda game ever? Also, no 3. But is Breath of the Wild a fantastic game? Absolutely.

Notes:

  1. That’s Run Baby Run
  2. That’s Oracle of Ages and/or Seasons
  3. That’d be HYRULE WARRIORS

Lego Dimensions: Mission: Impossible (PS4): COMPLETED!

Colonocolypse

It’s been a while since I played Lego Dimensions, but I had Zelda, you know? And turning on the PS4 was hard. But, I did have one last level pack to play through – Mission: Impossible.

As with the rest of Lego Dimensions, this was completed in co-op with my daughter. She has no idea what Mission: Impossible is, even less so than she did with any of the other packs. Not that it really mattered.

mission impossible

From what I recall – and it was some time ago – this pack is the first Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible film. There’s the same confusing face-swapping and double/triple/quadruple crossing, and the climax is a fight in the Channel Tunnel. The level itself is pretty standard Lego fare, with nothing too out of the ordinary (unlike, say, Adventure Time or Doctor Who). Ethan Hunt’s drone is nice. His face swapping is good too. It’s a shame there’s not more made of it, though.

The game is pretty big, enjoyable, and has Mr T in it. With that in mind, the list of levels now goes: Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Portal 2 > Doctor Who > Mission: Impossible > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

 

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 (PC): COMPLETED!

I’m Batman

Who’d have thought that Episode 2 of Burial at Sea would end up, essentially, being Batman in Rapture? Batman as in the Rocksteady series of recent titles. Well, it is. As Elizabeth (spoiler?) you sneak around in the shadows, generally avoiding combat. You use air vents. You get a vigour which essentially gives you detective vision.

burial at sea

Not only that, there are some large rooms where you have to hang from gargoyles, or something. And drop down behind foes and silently dispatch them. Hmm.

That said, it’s the story that’s the main point of the game. What, you were playing it for the mechanics? You’re doing it wrong, in this episode especially. It’s not about the fighting, it’s the sneaking and finding and getting to the end.

Little of which I can talk about because of big spoilers. That, and how I’m not completely sure what actually happened at the end there. I did like the link back to the original BioShock and how this tied in with it though.

And that’s BioShock all done.

Marvel Land (MD): COMPLETED!

Marvel Land is a game I had as a kid, but never completed. A while after the original release, it appeared outside of Japan as “Talmit’s Adventure” or something, but I always preferred the Japanese original. So the Japanese one is what I played through here.

It’s a happy fun blue skies platformer with slightly slippy physics. You know the sort – where floors don’t have quite enough friction when you land. It certainly took some time to get used to. Marvel Land’s “thing” is the bizarre attack you can perform by flinging copies of yourself around yourself. You need a power-up to give you a “chain” of clones, and then by pressing up or down you spin them around you, collecting items and attacking baddies. It’s very odd.

marvel land

Sometimes, you can use these clones to grab a node, which lets you swing around and cross gaps or jump high. The more clones you have (attacking with them depletes them) the higher or further you go.

The other “thing” with Marvel Land is all the warp doors. As is common in many platformers, there are hidden (literally) or hard to reach doors that warp you to other parts of the level or even other levels. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Only in this game, some of the warps take you back to the start of the level. Or back a whole level, or several levels. There’s one particularly evil one in the penultimate level. It takes you right back to the very start of the game. I’ll not deny I reverted to a save state for that one.

marvel land

Boss battles are a bit strange and thoroughly Japanese. One involves playing Janken, another is a bit Whack-a-Mole. Only the final boss actually involves a fight of any sort!

Marvel Land is a fun, happy, difficult, nonsensical platformer. It reminds me a lot of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, and that’s a good thing.

marvel land

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (MD): COMPLETED!

I have never played a Ys game before. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. “Wise”? “Ees”? “Why Ess”? Who knows. Something else I also didn’t know: Ys III is a Castlevania game.

Not an actual Castlevania game from that series of course. No, Ys III just plays a lot like one. There’s a castle, a clocktower, and even a boss that is very much like Dracula. It has the same mechanic for walking up and down stairs. Grinding to level up, just like the Metroidvania CV games, is also a thing here. Even the music sounds like it has comes from a Castlevania game, with a couple of the tracks sounding almost identical to music from that series. It’s also hard as nails. Castlevania, see?

ys iii
Another Castlevania, another Clock Tower.

Before I started playing it, I was expecting a party based RPG. Imagine my surprise then, when it was a side scrolling hack and slash game. And that was before I realised the Castlevania parallels. There’s some Zelda II in there too. Unlike those games, however, Ys III is pretty short. There are only four levels, one of which you do twice, and each is impossible until you’ve levelled up enough. The bosses ranged from laughably simple to nigh-on impossible (I really struggled with the fire lion thing), and in Castlevania II tradition poor translation meant I was clueless how to progress at least twice while playing.

ys iii
Dancing on the sand.

Graphically, the sprites are not exactly the Mega Drive’s best, but the parallax backgrounds – especially the sunset – are incredible. Sound effects are nothing special, in contrast to the epic soundtrack. I found the controls a little unresponsive when it came to jumping. This made climbing up out of a cave more difficult that it really should have been.

ys iii
Gotta gets me some harb.

On the whole though, Ys III is really rather good. If nothing like what I was expecting. There’s a remake available on the PSP and on Steam, the latter of which it seems I own somehow, so I might give that a go.

Pang (Arcade): COMPLETED!

Pop it

It required all of the credits, which, if I’d not been playing it on RetroPie would have meant re-mortgaging the house, but I completed it. Boy are some of those final few levels hard.

Pang is always a go-to game in the arcades for me. That, Pac-Land, Rampage, TMNT, Street Fighter II, Mappy, Out Run. I never got very far on a single credit in the past. Perhaps level 10 if I was very lucky.

But now, I’ve done it. Life goals, and all that eh?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s Ganon down. I’m yelling timber.

Two big firsts with this game. The first first, is that it’s my first completed Switch game. The second first, is that it’s my first completed 3D Zelda game. Well, aside from HYRULE WARRIORS, but that isn’t a “traditional” Zelda game.

That being said, neither is Breath of the Wild. It has Zelda lore, Zelda themes, Zelda music… but nothing about the gameplay is actual Zelda. This game is all about traversal, exploration, survival. There are no dungeons. You obtain all the “special weapons” (“runes”, here) within the first couple of hours play, rather than en-route to each boss. There’s no sequence to follow, as, in fact, it’s perfectly possible to legitimately skip virtually the entire story and literally just walk up to the final boss and beat him.

breath of the wild

This is not Zelda.

But, for me, that’s a great thing. I’ve always liked the idea of the 3D Zelda games. I enjoyed, for a time, Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, but never enough to ever finish them. I’d get bored or annoyed and just leave them incomplete. Breath of the Wild had me hooked the entire time, and I think it’s because of the major changes to the formula.

A few times, while playing, I thought “this isn’t fun”. In Twilight Princess, my options were stop playing, or force my way through it. Here, I could go and do something else instead and come back later. Much later, in the case of the iguana beast: I disabled it, went off to find some more weapons, then came back thirty hours later to carry on playing. Turns out it was a walkover.

After which I took on the bird beast, who was also a walkover, and emboldened by these two victories I decided to take on Ganon.

Who was also a walkover. Which was slightly disappointing. I was expecting it to be near impossible, and sure, I had some great armour and 16 hearts, but I only took one heart damage. One! And I still can’t parry properly!

Now the important question: Is this the best game ever? No. It’s a great game, certainly, but it still has issues. Is it the best Zelda game ever? Again, no. A Link Between Worlds and Hyrule Warriors are both better – Hyrule Warriors is more fun, ALBW is more focussed. But Breath of the Wild is wonderful, and has given me faith for the 3D Zelda series and Nintendo’s other series’ too – if they can shake up Zelda this much and come out with a winner, just imagine Metroid or Kid Icarus.

The Battle Cats POP! (3DS): COMPLETED!

I for one welcome our feline overlords.

Well that was very easy. An abundance of cat food meant I could easily max out all my cat character classes, pay for items to ensure I always got treasure on each level, and use that treasure to make myself even more powerful.

battle cats

It was so easy I barely even took damage on my base for the entire game. I used the “Cat God” special power just once, and that was only to see what it did. I suffered a single defeat, due to forgetting to pause the game when I put it down for a few minutes.

All that said, it was pretty good fun. I’m still baffled as to why the “game delay” stuff remains when there aren’t any IAPs to bypass it, but it didn’t affect me in the end.

battle cats

Thirty Flights of Loving (Mac): COMPLETED!

There aren’t 30 flights, and very little loving.

Thirty Flights of Loving is a narrative discovery game seemingly built on the Quake 2 engine. At least, it said quake2.exe had crashed when it died for the third time during playing.

The plot seems to involve some sort of smuggling? Perhaps alcohol during prohibition? Maybe weapons? It’s not very clear. You and your two friends/associates/lovers (well, one of them is anyway), in Tarantino out-of-order fashion, go to a wedding, fly a plane, have a motorbike accident, get wheeled on a cart through an airport, and shoot lots of cameras hanging from balloons.

OK, you don’t actually do most of those things as they just happen around you, but it’s still most peculiar.

Did I enjoy Thirty Flights of Loving? Sort of. Although it crashed a lot. It was only about 20 minutes long, but I got it for free and so can’t really complain. I’d wasted money or time on it.

The Battle Cats POP! (3DS)

Welcome to Cat Facts

A fun little game, in the same vein as Swords and Soldiers only simplified and with cats. You generate money, and spend it on soldier cats (the Battle Cats of the title, I assume) of various kinds, who walk left to the enemy base. At the same time, the enemy are sending baddies over to your base. So they fight.

You gain XP each battle, and use it to unlock new cats and power up your soldiers  and base. You also get cat food, which acts as a sort of in-game currency, and can use it to buy things like more XP.

Nice as the game is, though, this cat food has all the smell of those evil In App Purchases that games like this are so fond of. You see, each level you play depletes an energy counter. When it runs out, you have to wait so many minutes or hours for it to refill, or, you can “spend” some cat food to do it now. Thing is, you can’t do the normal IAP thing of buying cat food with real money (not that I would ever do such a thing anyway), defeating the purpose of having it. As a result, you literally have to just wait to play for no reason at all. Which kills the game a bit.

Other than that, The Battle Cats POP! is cute and addictive. And the only thing other than Zelda that I’ve played in the last week.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Take my breath away.

Just a quick post about Breath of the Wild. Firstly, it’s how Ubisoft would make Zelda. There are so many bits straight out of an Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry game. The plains, woods, and crafting – not to mention Link’s clothes – are straight out of the worst of all Assassin’s Creeds: III. Sneak up behind baddies for instant kills. You can even perform air assassinations of a sort.

breath of the wild

This is not Zelda.

I’m something like 15 hours in. I’ve done the “tutorial”, reached Impa’s village and then the village on the far right of the map. I’ve completed some side quests, upgraded my clothes, and made it up to Zora’s Domain. Here I had a chat with my dead fishgirlfriend, and boarded a giant war elephant, which I think I’m nearly finished on.

Thoughts? It’s hard. Very, very hard. Having to constantly find and swap weapons because they break so easily is frustrating. Having to cook food to make health items is tiresome. The framerate is all over the place at times. It doesn’t really bother me,  but is a little worrying for a brand new console. Especially since the same game is on the Wii U. Swapping melee, bow and runic items is fiddly (especially swapping arrows), more so mid-fight.

But… I am enjoying Breath of the Wild more than I expected to. It’s a million times better than Twilight Princess, but it lacks the fun, simplicity and immediacy of HYRULE WARRIORS.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 (PC): COMPLETED!

Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me

Erm. Well that was a thing, wasn’t it. I was expecting the fight at the end with a Big Daddy, and I think I was right about who Sally was, but I didn’t expect… Booker. Wow.

But is he that Booker, or a different one? Is there an unending list of Bookers and Comstocks throughout the multiverse? And which Elizabeth is she?

And what does this mean for Episode 2? So many questions.