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.

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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.

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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.

ranma

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

missing

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

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

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Gunpoint (Mac): COMPLETED!

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

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

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

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

Gunpoint

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

Gunpoint

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

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

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Just an illusion

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

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

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

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

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

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

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

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

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

Waiter…

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

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

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