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StreetPass Mansion (3DS): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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Mega Man 2 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impossible (5)

Mega Man (Wii U): COMPLETED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now onto Mega Man 2, I suppose!

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Things I’ve been playing recently

It’s another lazy post saving roundup! Yay.

Abyss (Wii U)

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

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

StreetPass Games (3DS)

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

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

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

Zen Pinball 2 (Wii U)

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

Hitman Absolution (PC)

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

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

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

Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate (3DS)

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

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

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StreetPass Garden (3DS): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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Mega Man X (Wii U): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

You_wouldn_t_like_him_when_he_s_angry._Oh_wait._He_already_is.

Batman: Arkham Origins (Wii U): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onto Blackgate on the 3DS then.

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Lego Batman 2 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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Armillo (Wii U): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Time Gentlemen, Please (PC): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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Picross e4 (3DS): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

e5 soon please?

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StreetPass Squad (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n8nv0kdbn01svmpf2o1_1280A while back I bought all the additional Streetpass games, as they were in a sale and I’d done everything Streetpass Quest I & II, and the puzzle thing, had to offer. I’m glad I did too, as they’re all pretty good.

Mii Force (or rather, Streetpass Squad, as it’s called in the UK) is a shoot-’em-up where people you Streetpass become your weapons. Although it’s very short (which is why I’ve completed it, but am nowhere near completion with the other three games), it is very playable and each level is different – some clever gimmicks, some almost puzzle sections (if you want to reach all the areas of the level for treasure), and plenty of bosses.

I did find it very easy, so it’s not exactly Cave level of shootering difficulty, but that doesn’t really matter.

When_the_ship_goes_down.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Wii U): COMPLETED!

A_winner_is_you_Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is an updated version of the original Guacamelee, with new areas and a new boss and some other new stuff. Apparently. I don’t know exactly what is new as I’ve never played the original. Or even been interested in it. When it came out over a year ago, I barely paid it a passing glance. Yeah, it looked quite nice, but was a PS3 title so it dropped off my radar and I forgot about it.

Then it was revealed that it was coming to more platforms this year, and I ended up reading more about it. Passively, until the magic “metroidvania” word was said. It’s like an instant interest trigger. When it was released on the Wii U, I pounced on it, and I’m glad I did because it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year.

Chozo_statues_here__metroidIt definitely is a metroidvania style game, but with added combo-fuelled fighting (the “‘melee” of the title) and more tricky platforming than is usual for the genre. But that’s fine, and they’re both great additions. As you’d expect, exploration of the world reveals new abilities (by way of “Choozo” statues, in one of several thousand Metroid references) which in turn allow further exploration of the world.

Soon your luchador hero (oh yeah, the whole game is Mexican wrestler/Día de Muertos themed) can do a massive uppercut, double jump, run up walls and fly horizontally. And turn into a chicken at will. Yes.

GOAT_FLYThese moves not only allow access to new and secret areas, but can also be used in combat to lengthen combos and assist in taking down certain foes weak to specific attacks. It’s a fighting game that requires a bit more thought than most.

In addition, the entire world is split between two geographically similar but graphically different planes – the land of the living, and the land of the dead. At various points in the game you’re taken between these two realities, but later you gain a power-up that lets you swap at will, flicking between two versions of the same area. Since some items, characters, platforms and dangers only exist in one plane or the other, swapping between two adds another layer to puzzles, exploring and platforming. Some of the most difficult platforming I’ve ever come across, in fact, once all your powers and abilities are available.

Majora_s_Mask_vs_Mega_ManFor example, there’s an area where you must flick between each plane (twice) while double-jumping, followed by an upper-cut, to land on a wall which only appears in one of the two planes. It’s about eight button presses in under a second, in a precise order while still “steering” your man, and you have to remember to hold a direction at the end or he falls off. In the Tree Tops area of the game, I failed to reach the prize because my fingers and brain simply couldn’t co-operate successfully to navigate the clearly impossible obstacle course and my game pad almost suffered a catastrophic industrial accident.

Bosses follow the same tradition as the 2D Castlevania games by being completely impenetrable until you actually watch carefully, take your time, and only attack when absolutely safe. When you know how to beat them, they’re a walkover, but until then you feel like you’ve hit the wall and want to rage quit. There’s nothing quite the same as the feeling when you finally best them. Especially the final one. Hoo boy.

AmazingDespite the frustrations in both battle and navigation, or perhaps because of them, Guacamelee is hugely enjoyable. Metroidvania games always have a pull due to how a new ability suddenly rejuvenates the game, pushing back bedtime just a little longer while you “just see how this works” and “I wonder if I can now reach…”. The actual game doesn’t really need to be particularly impressive in order to hook me with this mechanic, but as a bonus, Guacamelee is more than impressive in most respects.

The graphical style is beautiful. The music is a fantastic arrangement of Mexican themes. The story is interesting. There are funny characters and so many references to other games, not just Metroid. Everything comes together to be fun, fluid, and moreish. I enjoyed it so much that I completed it in but a few sittings.

tumblr_n8g4rmiqfk1svmpf2o1_1280It isn’t especially long (around 6.5 hours, my Wii U stats report), but I’ve stuff left to do provided my controller can remain intact for the remainder. I seems I bumbled into the bad ending, where I didn’t collect all of the mask. Naturally I didn’t know about the existence of the mask until after I’d beaten the final boss – another nod to Castlevania titles – so even after it’s done, the game still pulls you back for more.

Anyone know anywhere selling Wii U game pads cheap?

Done_

Pullblox World (Wii U): COMPLETED!

P.I.M.P.That’s clearly a pimp, not a boss. And it’s the final “main” level in the game. Which was really pretty difficult, mainly due to needing to set up so many blocks before you could progress to setting up other blocks. Having said that, I’ve had a few levels which I’ve struggled for half an hour or more on, and this took less than that.

With the main 120 levels done, and the end sequence watched (or rather, played – there’s a star-finding minigame over the credits), I’m still almost 120 levels short of doing all those available. I unlocked a new set after the credits, and there’s still the other game modes to do, so still plenty of game left.

Where_s_Pit_when_you_need_him

Things I’ve been playing recently

tumblr_n7udoirp541svmpf2o1_1280Euro Truck Simulator 2 (PC)

My first ever Steam Sale purchase! Sadly, it isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. The graphics are flatter and drabber than videos had led me to believe, the roads are samey and short, and you’ve little choice in the routes you have to take.

Still, driving all the cars off the road on the way to Belgium, then running down all the Belgians when you get there, never gets old.

tumblr_n7y3aztlhd1svmpf2o1_400Picross e4 (3DS)

Having completed Picross e3 recently, it was obvious e4 needed to be bought. It is, as you’d expect, just more of the same. More Picross. It has the Mega Picross puzzles from e3, and the Micross puzzles from e2 though, and certainly seems a much longer game than e3. So far the Mega Picross puzzles have been completely doable without resorting to educated guesses, so in all it’s a better game.

And you get 5 bonus puzzles for each of e, e2 and e3 that you already own too. I suspect they’re Mega Picross versions of “normal” Picross puzzles found in those games, as some seem familiar.

I’ve been jumping around the various modes so I can’t really say how much I’ve done so far, but perhaps a quarter overall?

Is_ita_bird_Is_it_a_fish_Nobody_really_knows.Pullblox World (Wii U)

It’s just like the 3DS version, only with different puzzles. Which is fine. It loses a little from not being in 3D, but gains a bit from a bigger screen. I’m almost certain that the 3DS game didn’t have an unlimited rewind too – it “ran out” – but here you can rewind all the way back to the start of your attempt regardless of how long you’ve spent on it.

It also appears that some of the levels are much bigger than in the original. Some are seemingly too big – as even zooming out doesn’t show half of it.

Apparently Pullblox World has something like 240 puzzles to get through. I’m on the final “page” of puzzles (with 10 on each page) right now, and completing them will total 120, so I’m not sure where the other 120 are…

StreetPass games (3DS)

The four additional StreetPass games are currently on offer (£8.99 for the lot, instead of about £15), so I bought them. I’ve exhaused Quest and Quest II, and apart from the occasional new picture, the puzzle game was finished long ago (and is quickly completed when there is a new one).

I’ve not spent ages on each so far, but some thoughts:

StreetPass Squad is a more than slightly enjoyable side-on shoot ‘em up. StreetPass’d Miis provide different weapons for your not-at-all Opa-Opa cloned ship, and the levels are varied and fun.

StreetPass Garden is a surprisingly deep gardening simulator, where Miis help you grow flowers and harvest seeds from them, with new breeds and hybrids and stuff to collect. There are tasks to perform by growing certain types of flower, and all sorts of garden paraphernalia to collect. I hated it at first but it soon opens up into a more enjoyable game.

StreetPass Battle is like a cross between Janken and Risk, where you build up your troops (bolstered by StreetPass hits) and then take on other nations. How well you do is defined by how many troops and what sort of attack they use (in a Janken rock/paper/scissors type way). It’s very slow going though, building up your army to be big enough to defeat the next nation. Unless I’m missing something obvious.

StreetPass Mansion is part puzzle, part RPG where Miis you meet give you pieces of floor which you arrange in the mansion to create rooms. Put multiple pieces of the same colour together to make bigger rooms with better treasures, and put non-matching colours together to trigger battles where you fight ghosts. Your weapons can level up and be upgraded Fallout New Vegas style too. Lay enough floor tiles to reveal the stairs to the next floor. It’s really pretty good.

tumblr_n7ocn6ultr1svmpf2o1_400Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS)

Not doing too well in this at the moment. All my players are getting old and I’m unable to train up new players to replace them quickly enough. Also I’ve lost any chance of promotion from “The football icon” league, although I’m almost certain to end up in second place at, so I’m not too worried.

I’ve played a lot of online matches recently, mainly to farm cards, but I’ve been doing surprisingly well. Not enough to rise up the ranks much, but I’m certainly not dropping like I had been previously. Mind you, I’m picking my battles.

tumblr_n7w9sbxzkw1svmpf2o1_400Chibi-Robo: Let’s Go Photo! Demo (3DS)

I took a photo of my watch and it turned it into a badge. Then I cleaned up a kitchen with a sort of hoover thing, and chucked a load of rubbish in a robot bin blender thing. I had a conversation with a talking smartphone, and then wandered round a very small part of a very empty museum.

Which was all great. But I’m somewhat confused as to what all the cleaning up is for. One to wait for in a sale, I think. I’ll give it a miss at full price, not least due to having a trillion other games on the go at the moment.

tumblr_n7drd6fd641svmpf2o1_1280Theme Park (Mac)

Bought as part of the GOG sale, in a Bullfrog games pack. It’s as janky as I recall (although I mostly played the Amiga 1200 version, back in the day), slightly more so due to running under Dosbox.

I couldn’t remember how to research new things for ages, so only had the same few rides and shops for several game years. Then I remembered, but by then half my rides had exploded, everyone was too hungry and thirsty to stay, and nobody liked Vomit Park any more.

Then I screwed up salary negotiations and all my staff went on strike, during which the rest of my rides blew up.

All in all, rather successful, no?

picrosse3

Picross e3 (3DS): COMPLETED!

picrosse3Ta dah! There’s not much to say, really. It’s more Picross and I completed it.

I have two things to mention, though. The first is about the length of the game – it’s a good 8 hours shorter than Picross e2 (and about an hour shorter than the original), which is a bit disappointing.

The other thing is the Mega Picross puzzles. I don’t like them. They’re like normal Picross puzzles, only the numbers sometimes – but not always – span two rows or columns. For the easier puzzles, that’s fine, but some – the final one especially – don’t seem to be possible without guesswork, or at least some pretty shaky assumptions. It just adds a level of complexity that is unnecessary and unneeded.

Still, I did enjoy it, despite these two issues. Roll on e4…

Lovely_fella.

Batman: Arkham Origins (Wii U)

tumblr_n73izflgay1svmpf2o1_1280Despite not “digging” the Arkham Asylum demo all those years ago, I got thoroughly hooked on the full game. This surprised me, as I’m normally not a fan of stealth action games, but you don’t have to play 100% stealth with Batman and even when you do, the hiding is varied and fun, rather than rigid and frustrating.

I played Arkham City and enjoyed that as well, although it wasn’t as good as the first game. The interior sections were great, but the outdoor city traversal bits didn’t really fit so well. I’d heard that Arkham Origins was a little further away from perfection again, but I figured that even it it was half as good as Asylum, it’d still be better than most other games.

Batman_realises_he_s_run_out_of_Mach3_blades_and_really_needs_a_shave.So far, I’ve been mostly right. It’s set before both previous games, but in the main city so much of the map I’ve been through so far is familiar, if a bit less run down and ruined. It’s still pretty much devoid of anyone bar thugs though, which seems silly.

The plot is mainly about Black Mask, a shadowy mafia type boss who has hired a load of assassins to bump off Batman, and Batman’s attempts to find both him and why he’s doing this. Although most of the assassins are lesser known Batman villains (at least one was created for this game, I believe), I’ve already come up against the Penguin in his arms dealer role. One of his floozies, Tracey, has this awesome British accent and kept saying I was “proper nawty”. Was almost a shame to break her arm and chuck her in a cage.

Would_you_kindly_find_the_PenguinI’ve had two boss fights so far. One was incredibly easy (literally one hit) with “The Electrocutioner”, who was all mouth and no trousers. The other was really pretty difficult against Deathstroke, who took a lot of counterattacking and bat-clawing to take down. Many, many retries there.

Aside from those bits, it’s all what is now pretty standard Batman fare. Picking off guards one by one by stringing them up, creeping up behind them, or grabbing them off ledges. Hacking computers. Scanning things in Detective Mode. It’s all the same as what went before, but that isn’t a bad thing as that’s what makes these games so good. That and the meaty you-can-feel-the-punches combat, anyway.

What isn’t good, and what seems to be a common thing with more and more games these days, are the bugs. Some really nasty ones which really break the game, and have been pretty frequent. There are two main recurring bugs I’ve come across: The first is when all the on-screen prompts disappear, which makes it harder in general but when it happened fighting Deathstroke and it’s essential for countering attacks, a nightmare. Image QTEs only without any prompts. Somewhat hard.

The other was when the camera decided to “lock on” to something which I’d been forced into looking at (e.g. another character), but was then never released properly, meaning I (as the viewer, not Batman himself) continued to look at the same point even when walking away from it. This also happened in the Deathstroke fight.

There are other bugs (I had a FMV sequence hang, but only for video – the sound, and then the game, continued but I couldn’t see anything but a frame of the video), but nothing as major as these. Just more sloppiness, I suppose. It’s a shame coming into another bugfest right after The Lego Movie videogame, but at least the game good enough that I still want to play it.

HNI_0094

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS): COMPLETED!

HNI_0088Before you complain that I can’t have completed it, because it’s Animal Crossing, hear me out. Sure, you can get 100% of the items in your catalogue. Or maybe get a Perfect Town rating for so many days. Or win all the trophies. There’s no real way to complete Animal Crossing as such, but you can complete certain goals.

I set myself a goal, and today, I hit my target.

HNI_0037What goal? To play Animal Crossing: New Leaf every single day for an entire year. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. 366 consecutive days. I’ve experienced every season, every event, every holiday, festival and scheduled special happening. 366 days. 500 game hours. Good grief.

Previous games in the series had either been played less frequently, or for fewer months in total (specifically the Wii version, where my Wii died after three months solid play and I lost my saved game), so this is the most, and most frequent, I’ve played an Animal Crossing game.

HNI_0073And it was fantastic. Never once a chore, no matter how repetitive. Always a joy, no matter the weather or villager mood. So much to do yet so little done. I’ve just realised, in fact, that I’ve not even been to the island since Christmas. I’d totally forgotten it even existed!

I’m not done yet. I’ll still play it, checking in every now and again, but I’m done with daily play. In a way I’m sad, but I’m also relieved because I can play some other games now instead.

And_so_once_again__the_day_was_saved_thanks_to_the_Powerpuff_Girls.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (Wii U): COMPLETED!

I_can_take_you.With Lego done and dusted I was all set to start on Batman: Arkham Origins but for some reason I decided to play this instead. I’ve been eyeing up the icon on the Wii U home screen for a while, thinking about finishing the other game in the Chronicles of Mystara package (I completed what turned out to be the second one a while back). So I did.

It’s not as polished as Shadow of Mystara, but then it is several years older. The graphics aren’t as good, the game is shorter with fewer branching paths, and I don’t think there are as many characters to choose from (I picked “Fighter” this time).

16bit_Skyrim.The main gameplay difference is how much more simple it is to select secondary weapons (like bows and magic) compared to the other game. This is probably down to having fewer options, but it means it’s a lot less fiddly. Having said that, they’re all pretty useless – aside from the oil “grenades” which you need to finish off trolls. Apparently they don’t actually die unless you burn them.

Can_t_be_anything_bad_behind_here__rightOh, and here’s a little hint for you: when you get asked if you want to take the long, easy route round a mountain, or the short route through the mountain BUT THERE’S A MASSIVE DRAGON WHO KILLS YOU IN ONE HIT, take the long route. Because I said “Pff, dragons schmagons”, and was asked if I was sure. “I can slay a feeble dragon!”. I was asked again if I was sure. “Yes! Let me at him!”. I was asked if I realised it was certain suicide. This went on for a while, but finally, I was allowed to fight the dragon.

Some 20 credits later, one dead dragon.

The end of game boss was a complete walkover in comparison. In fact, the whole of the rest of the game, including the Shadow Elf (who was pretty difficult, both times you fight him). Be warned.

And_100__

The Lego Movie Videogame (Wii U)

All_the_world_is_waiting_for_you__And_the_power_you_possess_Just a quick post here, really, to say I’ve now 100%ed it. In total it took about 16 hours, so is definitely the shortest Lego game ever. Ever.

As it turns out, free play mode is even more full of bugs than normal Story mode. The main reason seems to be because of sequence breaking – all too often you can break the scripted sequence of the game (skipping areas or puzzles because you now have character abilities that allow you to), but most of the time this prevents the game from progressing as something later won’t trigger. The game should either prevent sequence breaking, or accept it and deal with it in the game logic.

So_many_hacking_minigamesSure, the same issues are in many Lego games, but nowhere near as frequent or serious as here! It all feels like the game was rushed and not playtested enough, which is a shame. Still, I did really enjoy it.

Except for one section. On the way to Flatbush Gulch you freefall through a portal. After a corner in the sort of tunnel you’re in, there’s a gold instruction page to grab. Which is impossible. Until you’ve tried it a million times, quitting to the hub (loading…) then reentering the level (loading…) each time. Over and over. And over. AND OVER. Gah.

Anyway, 100%, done, next!

Win_

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Blue_skies__Best_looking_game_ever.Before I start, no. I don’t have all the stars and all the kart pieces and won every cup on every CC. But I have 100%ed 50cc and am missing just one star on 100cc. Like previous Mario Kart games, I’m counting seeing the credits. And I’ve seen the credits.

Why haven’t I done 150cc? Because I haven’t yet. I keep meaning to, but the online – even against randoms – is just too easy to slip into and then two hours have gone by and you’ve forgotten to play offline. Again.

It’s really that good.

Grrr__more_rainbows

The Lego Movie Videogame (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n6eqkywexu1svmpf2o1_1280I do love a good Lego game. I’m actually quite keen on the bad ones too, although there aren’t really any. None I’ve played, anyway, and I don’t count any Lego game that isn’t the now-standard collect everything smash everything OCDfest style Lego game.

However, despite all of them (even the Harry Potter ones) being generally fantastic, most are full of bugs. Very few have failed to not lock up my console at least once, and most have scripting errors where triggered events don’t trigger. This game, however, is the very worst when it comes to bugs. So. Many. Bugs. It’s like that bit in Wreck-It Ralph where all the eggs hatch.

Bugs, not limited to the following:

  • Console lockups (Wii U needs unplugging)
  • Controls simply not working
  • Player 1 suddenly controlling player 2 (and player 2′s controller doing nothing)
  • Wii U gamepad suddenly not showing that player’s screen
  • Scripted sequences not happening
  • Sound disappearing completely from cut scenes
  • Level music “running out”, leaving just sound effects
  • Being able to collect 4 of 3 instruction sheets
  • Being unable to progress past the level end score roundup thing
  • Getting stuck in scenery
  • The 10th gold brick in the bonus level (on top of the desk) not appearing
  • Being unable to grapple on Batman/Wonder Woman grapple points
  • Indestructible Micro Managers (which you have to defeat to progress)
  • Getting trapped in Brickburg hub was Lord Business with his big legs on
  • On screen prompts telling me to press Z or C when using a Controller Pro. Got that a lot. And B, when they mean Y
  • The dancing minigame not accepting any input from either controller
  • Being stuck as Angry Unikitty forever, meaning I can’t progress as she’s too big to enter a door
  • Once the game deciding I wanted to play split screen on the TV half way through a level instead of a screen each like for the whole of the rest of the game

Dance_magic_danceBUGS. And that’s not my only complaint. This game is really short. I think the previous most shortestest Lego game I’ve 100%ed was Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (which also happens to be the previous most buggiestest too), which I think took about 9 hours to finish, and about 30 to 100%. Lego Movie took 8 hours to finish, and 12 hours to reach where I am now at about 82%. The rest is just gold instruction manual and hidden pants mop up – I’ve done all the red bricks and characters already!

Dell_tasticBut none of this really matters because the game is great. The characters and cutscenes (mostly ripped right from the film) are great. It’s all great. But not Everything is Awesome, sadly.

Perhaps the release date was tight as it needed to tie in with the film. Perhaps it’s a bit simplified because it’s aimed a little more at kids than previous titles. Maybe it’s just the Wii U version hampered by all the bugs (although I suspect not). Whatever it is holding it back is a shame, but even the worst Lego game is still a great Lego game.

Oh__spainkiller

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

Winner_I’m not going to say very much about this apart from that I’ve spent many hours on it already today and it’s fantastic. No, it’s more than fantastic. Especially online, where I managed to hold my own. Which was nice.

I’ll post again with more details in the future, but for now, here’s my very first race:

Ha__I_named_the_black_cube_Langdell__by_the_way.

Edge (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n6761hae9e1svmpf2o1_1280None of the levels are especially hard, so it was only a matter of time before my play on this, sporadic as it was, brought me to the end.

Some levels were fun, and overall the game is good, but a few levels are ruined by making walls and floors move without giving you time to react. You have no option but to die, because you don’t know what is coming next. Sure, dying isn’t that terrible here – you’ve no limit on lives and you can still S rank a level even if you peg it multiple times – but those levels where you only progress a little bit further each attempt then die because something else unexpected happens, over and over, take something from the formula.

Still, it was less than two quid, kept me entertained for several hours (over many weeks), and the music and art style are both fantastic. Even if there aren’t enough tracks so they repeat just a little too frequently.

I’ve still got the bonus levels (bonus == optional) to finish off, so it’s not all over yet, but the main two game modes are done, so it’s completed in by book.

Tracking my gaming. For great victoly!