Dear Esther (Mac): COMPLETED!

esther0027I’ve had this sat on my Mac’s hard drive for some time now, but being a non-console game it never crosses my mind to play it. Not least because connecting up a TV and a controller and so on… Today I had a couple of hours free and a game a couple of hours long was available, so Dear Esther came out.

First, I should point out this isn’t a game. I know there are people who would argue that it is, but it’s no more game than it is fish. It’s a story wrapped in a mostly linear walk around an island. A confusing, broken story relayed out of order in paragraphs both lucid and on the edge of insanity. Walking to various places triggers a section of plot, and eventually your wandering leads you to the radio mast you can see in the distance from the very start of the game.

paul0033And there it ends. Along the way, if you’re lucky, your exploration will reveal a little about who you are, who Esther is, and why you’re on the island. Or it won’t, as these story snippets are apparently random.

I think I found enough to make a sense of the proceedings. Perhaps not the sense, but I can certainly make some organisation of the information my playthrough revealed. Er, not playthrough. As that implies a game. Which this isn’t. No, really – you do no game stuff.

jakobson0017But was it good? I don’t know. I’m glad I experienced it (narrowly avoided saying played there), and it was pretty and clever, but I’m not sure how much more I got out of it via this medium rather than by just reading a short story. It didn’t help that you move so slowly, artificially extending the length of the notgame. It took me only about an hour and a half in total, and even though the vistas were nice and the cave drawings and chalk scrawlings added a little, I think I’d have preferred more wordy exposition in that time, or less time.


Things I’ve been playing recently

FUZZY_PICKLESEarthbound (Wii U)

Progressing well through this now. Well, at least I was until I entered Moonside where everythings is… wrong. The map is like Fourside only upside down, and all in neon. And there are invisible walls. And some people you talk to warp you all over the place but not to anywhere useful. And “yes” and “no” are reversed, except when saving your game. It’s very odd.

Oh yeah, and Paula got kidnapped by a green squidalienghost in the department store, which means some of the fights now are pretty hard as I had been relying on her Freeze “magic” (although it isn’t called magic – what is it? PP? What?) a lot.

They_see_me_rollin_._They_hatin_.__cos_cubes_don_t_roll.Edge (Wii U)

I still have some eShop credit and this was reduced last week to just £1.79 or something, so I picked it up. It’s a nice puzzle game where you roll a cube around picking up smaller cubes and hitting switches which make the platforms appear, move, or transform. Seems good so far, but I’m only about 20 (short) levels in. The controls are a bit of a pain though – it’s too easy to allow the cube to keep rolling even after you stop pressing the direction pad, which is odd as it’s a cube, not a ball.

tumblr_n3krwn7ttt1svmpf2o1_400Animal Crossing (3DS)

Still playing this every day! Big news this week though – I finally managed to get a lighthouse! That space I’ve been saving on the clifftop for almost EIGHT MONTHS has now been filled with a lovely shiny lighthouse. Awesome!

I’ve also been trying to get more special tree stumps. I’d visited someone else’s village and they had at least two special stump designs that I didn’t, so I chopped down half my trees in the hope I’d find them in my own village. I didn’t. So a lot of time has been spent planting new trees.

Skylanders Giants (360)

Late to the party with this, as Skylanders Swapforce has been out about six months now, but someone was selling Giants (and ten Skylanders we didn’t have) for a bargain price, so I snapped them up. I’ve been playing it with my daughter, and although we’re only about four levels in, and it does seems like more of the same (only without the right-stick “waggle” events to open chests and locks and things), it’s just as fun as the original. Having a pile of new Skylanders to try is nice too. We’ve 27 overall now.

tumblr_n3ebuzyrew1svmpf2o1_1280Steel Diver (3DS)

This was one of the “three for a tenner” games I bought a while back, along with Tetris 3DS and Heroes of Ruin. I can see why people complained at the price when it was £30, but for what I paid it’s a perfectly good title. You control a submarine and have to navigate through areas by moving depth and velocity sliders on the touch screen, rather than with the d-pad. Torpedo firing controls are all “buttons” on the touch screen too, as is the attitude “wheel”.

There are three different subs to choose, from a nimble but weak tiny one, to a strong but difficult to manoeuvre underwater tank. You actually have to play all of the levels with all three subs to unlock the later levels, and I’m currently struggling to pass Level 5, where there’s a massive ship you have to destroy, only I can’t. Boo!

Playing_dress_up._Or__since_I_have_no_other_clothes__dress_down.Megami Paradise (PC Engine)

I have no idea what is happening. I intended to play this for Game Over, Yeah!! but couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do, so didn’t get to any areas where it was possible to die, so had to abort it. It appears to be an RPG where you control a girl at a convent school (it’s full of nuns). I managed to find some other girls who were stuck in chests or surrounded by frogs, and then found a dressing room where I could strip to my bra and knickers (but it wouldn’t let me leave the room until I’d put my clothes back on). Pretty standard Japanese fare, then. See:


Earthbound (Wii U)

tumblr_n2uujodry91svmpf2o1_1280Even though I was all over this several months ago, I stopped playing. Not because I was bored with it, but I got stuck. I couldn’t get much further than the pencil bit – the enemies were just too hard, and I died $hlmun times.

But, with Backlog Fighter still in full effect, I returned to it a week or so ago and did that bit on my first go with no difficulty whatsoever. The game was back on. Woo!

The_whonowAcross that area was Paula, who I needed to rescue. We then returned to Twoson where I was given $10,000, which I couldn’t spend on myself, so gave it to popular beat combo Runaway Five so they could be released from their contract and drive to Fourside, dropping me off in Threed on the way. Threed that was full of zombies.

Great._That_ll_come_in_handy.Zombies who caught me, and I had to take control of Jeff instead, who came to the rescue. With three members of my party, I took down the zombie menace (actually, I put some paper on the floor and they all stuck to it). Oh, and killed a sentient circus tent. No, really.

Whatever_it_is__I_don_t_want_it.Now I’m on my way somewhere else, presumably Fourside via a non-direct route, and I’ve ended up in Saturn Valley. This place is populated with strange scrotum people who are all called Mr Saturn. And they speak in a very difficult to read font. And have telephones up ladders. And say Zoom a lot. I’m scared they might do… something… while I sleep.


Heroes of Ruin (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n2ub55po2l1svmpf2o1_1280What seems like a very long time ago now, there was a sale on at some place I don’t even recall where three 3DS games were a tenner. Or something. One of those games was Heroes of Ruin, and since it was the first time I’d seen it alone for under ten quid, let alone with two other games for the same price, I leapt on it (along with Tetris and Steel Diver). Then they all went on my backlog shelf, and time passed.

Even longer ago, I’d played the Heroes of Ruin demo, and really rather enjoyed it. Why I didn’t start the full game the very second it arrived, I’m not sure. I was probably playing something else at the time.

Not very long ago (last week) I finally got round to making a start, and very recently (today) a finish.

For the first few hours play, I was hooked. The game plays out much like I’ve seen and read (but never played) Diablo does, or Skylanders, for that matter. You choose one of four classes of character (I went for Gunslinger), and then enter levels where you complete quests. These range from finding items, through defeating bosses, to solving some very simple puzzles. Or just reaching the end of the level.

In each level, you defeat foes who get increasingly more dangerous, but you get increasingly more powerful and well defended as you level up and find (or buy, not that you need to buy anything) better items and unlock new buffs and skills. You can return to areas later on to grind if you want (but you never need to), or complete other optional quests (which you never need to) for more money and XP (neither of which you need to grind for).

tumblr_n35kh7lrss1svmpf2o1_1280After a while, you move on from one type of area to another (you start in the caves, then go into the forest), which is filled with different, but similar quests and different, but similar, enemies. Later, the forest gives way to snow covered mountains, and that into a sort of ruined magician’s lab in a hole between dimensions. But the quests and enemies are strangely familiar.

And that’s it. Four areas. Sure, each area has several levels, but they all look the same. In fact, I’m pretty sure most are the same, just with the camera angle rotated. Which is a problem. Combined with the palette-swapped baddies and repetitive quests, Heroes of Ruin just feels like they didn’t spend enough time with it. Another couple of level types, a few more quests which aren’t the same as those already in it, and some more enemy designs and it would have been so much better. It doesn’t help that it’s such an easy game either. I didn’t die, never once had fewer than 15 of my 20 health potions left, never once used an energy potion, never needed to grind for XP, and never needed to spend a single gold coin. Only the final boss caused any real problems, and even that was only because he took ages, not because he was difficult.

tumblr_n2wrhfzjqc1svmpf2o1_1280I did play multiplayer a bit (it has drop-in, drop-out play for up to four players) which is fun, and even had voice chat, but ultimately it doesn’t change the game in any way, aside from make it even easier. For much of my playthrough I didn’t have anyone to play with anyway.

As it is, there’s no way I can complain for £3.33, and I did enjoy it a great deal, but I can see why it didn’t get the sales it could have.


Knytt Underground (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Last_bell___darksoulsChapter 3 is enormous. Like, really enormous. It contains the maps from chapters 1 and 2, and then about 50 times as much content again. And it isn’t just how many rooms there are, either – the puzzles and platforming sections are harder, so take longer. There are quests to get  items which have you travelling (not too far, usually, thankfully) round the map as you try to complete them. With enough of certain items, you can ring bells, but not until you’ve figured out how to reach them, and with five bells rung you can ring the final one.

And not once does it get dull, or repetitive, or frustrating. No matter how hard bits are, you don’t go back far when you die, and you instantly restart, so even the most difficult screens don’t cause anger. Actually, even the few I was really stuck on I found to be optional anyway, since there are more items than the bare minimum, and usually if you’re short you can supplement them with coins, which are found more frequently and are normally easier to collect – you just need more of them.

With the final bell rung, it was completed, with one of the most half-hearted (and purposefully so) endings I’ve ever seen. In fact, there it is in this very post. Basically, the narrator (who wrote the game) says that’s the end, and he’d off for a cup of tea. OK, so there’s a bit more after that, but not much that makes any sense.

tumblr_n2qbqwlb0e1svmpf2o1_1280With it done, I found a bit on the title screen I hadn’t accessed (perhaps I couldn’t?) before, which was a short set of platforming challenges in the style of the intermission previously in the game. A couple of bits were pretty tricky, mainly involving those magnetic robots as you fling yourself from one to another trying not to crash into walls of death. I think that’s it now though.

A lovely little game, that well deserves some attention. The morals it tries to deal with and the story could have done with some work, perhaps something is lost in translation, or is too deep for me, but I didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on. I get the Myriadist/Internet divide is a religion/atheism thing, but much of the rest didn’t really work. Ignore all that though (and the terrible character art), and just enjoy a pleasant and involving platformer with some fantastic in-game artwork.


Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n2eb63btb11svmpf2o1_1280Obviously, I’m going to have to stick some spoilers in here, otherwise I’m not going to be able to say anything about the game. Because, oh boy, were there a few reveals in the latter half of Last Window. Like in the first game, hardly anyone was quite who they appeared to be, and everyone had at least one secret to hide.

The main “what?!” moment was when Dylan – as in, bumbling clumsy sticky-beak handyman Dylan – is revealed to not just be “a bit curious” or even “somewhat creepy”, but in fact is spying on behalf of Nile – the mysterious crime organisation that operates outside the law (and, as it happens, within the law itself). Sure, I thought there was something a bit odd with him, but he’s essentially the main bad guy!

tumblr_n2eb4ugybr1svmpf2o1_1280Then there’s the full backstory of Mags and her involvement in the past events, leading to her almost killing Kyle and Tony (seriously – old woman got mad ninja knockout skillz) when Kyle’s just about to make the final breakthrough. Where the hell did she get “police-strength sleep spray” from? It’s never explained.

And Will White not being Will White? And Marie nearly jumping off the roof to her death? Drama!

Anyway, as in Hotel Dusk, the last few hours play is mostly about tying up the ends of each character’s story. Most of them have a past issue that needs resolving, or they need convincing to leave Cape West, and once that’s done Kyle moves onto the getting the final answers to all the remaining questions. In this game, that meant finding a hidden poker room, which revealed in a very Raiders of the Lost Ark way, a secret stash containing the very gem Kyle’s dad died stealing 25 years ago.

As with Last Window, there’s a lot of million-to-one chance coincidences. Some are explained, some are left as mere unlikely chances. This does make the story feel a little contrived, but thankfully – again, like the first title – the story is strong enough to carry it. It felt like a proper detective novel, played out with a stylus.

tumblr_n2eb5owsdm1svmpf2o1_1280There weren’t many puzzles, and most were quite easy, but it made (as did Cing’s other works) great, and unusual, use of the DS too. In one part of the game you have to retrieve a key from a musical box. It’s inside a rotating drum in the box, and the DS itself acts as the box and lid. Open the DS, the music plays and the drum rotates. Close the DS and the music stops. To get the key out, you have to mostly close the DS when a gap in the drum lines up with the key, then press R to lever the key out a little, then squeeze the stylus inside the mostly-shut DS to “grab” the key and pull it free. Awkward, just like the actual task would be really. Brilliant!

At a little over 15 hours I’d finished the game. I’d say that was a pretty much perfect length to spread the story out without wishing for it to just wrap up quickly. My only complaint is that there aren’t any more Cing games to play, as they disbanded years ago. Shame.


Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS)

tumblr_n26u4tssfx1svmpf2o1_1280Super Backlog Fighter! I’ve had this for almost a year now, but, like many things, it’s sat on the Pile of Shame (TM). But now I have saved it from that pile, and am playing it! On an actual DS Lite too, for added retro authenticity. Not that the game, or the DS Lite is actually that old, but you know what I mean.

Many moons ago, I played Hotel Dusk: Room 101. It was a point-and-click interactive story adventure puzzle detective novel noir game. This is also a point-and-click interactive story adventure puzzle detective novel noir game. Not surprisingly as it’s the sequel.

Now, I recall many of the events in the first game, and the basic plot and so on, but everything else has long since fallen out of my head. Through playing Last Window, some has returned, but I feel I really should re-read the novel that came with the original to refamiliarise myself with what went down.

Last Window is plainly a continuation of the original game in more than just plot. The controls and graphical styles are the same, the sort of dialogue and puzzles wouldn’t be out of place in Hotel Dusk, and you’re even (essentially) in another hotel – only this time in Room 202 rather than 101. If only developers Cing were still around so we could find out what mystery surrounds Room 303. Sadly, 404 is not found. Oho.

Are_you_offeringLike the first game, there are some boggling coincidences in the characters and locations, almost as if the Hotel Cape West is the receiving area for some sort of alien kidnapping where people who have linked pasts (not all knowingly) are plucked out of their lives and made to stay in the hotel until they figure out what they all have in common. And not just links to each other, but also links to the events of 13 years before the game takes place (which is 1980), and a further 12 years before that. And murder. Or possibly murders.

Currently, I’ve played up to part way through Chapter 5. I’ve gained access to the out-of-bounds (probably due to said murder) fourth floor of the Cape West, found more questions than answers, and poor lonely Kyle Hyde (the protagonist) has completely failed to score with, or, in fact, even notice the rampant flirting of the resident Filthy Minxes (TM) Claire and Betty.  He’s too busy being down about the death of his dad, being evicted from his apartment, and losing his job. Poor guy.


Knytt Underground (Wii U)

LasersHow can a game which looks so lovely, with its giant alien flowers and plants in the background, and mysterious silhouetted machinery and dwellings in the foreground, all fantastically lit and darkened with lanterns, lasers, mist and smoke, also look so terrible with its woeful character portraits? It’s like the game’s amazing scenery artist got his 8 year old daughter to draw them.

Thankfully, that doesn’t matter, as Knytt Underground is a great Jet Set Willy clone for a more modern game player. There’s nimble platforming and wall climbing, a turn-into-a-ball mechanic which you can use to bounce higher and further (losing some control in the process). There’s also several sparkly things you can collect that temporarily turn you into a glowing light that can, depending on the colour, shoot upwards like a star, do a sort of double jump, or shoot enemies. There are timed switches, doors to find keys for, and fetch quests aplenty.

Knytt_time.And a MASSIVE map. Not only is each screen pretty large, with your character being just a few pixels tall, there are supposedly 1800 of them to navigate. The map on the gamepad has tiny, tiny squares for each room. Chapters 1 and 2 start you off with few abilities and a small map, but Chapter 3, where I am now is immense. I can see several locations on the map where I have to pick up some sort of set of artefacts, but the route is blind and with so many dead ends and diversions I’ve hardly come close to any of them yet.


Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n1llh6vugn1svmpf2o1_400Well, this is it. Not only is the final game in the trilogy complete, but officially, it’s all over for Professor Layton now. Sure, there’s the Layton vs Wright game out in just a few weeks, but that’s not really a Professor Layton game, so doesn’t count.

I’d be amazed if Level 5 didn’t come up with another game though. Even if it’s just a continuation of the series but without Layton in it.

Anyway. Here be spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk!

tumblr_n1tta9mxsa1svmpf2o1_400Quite near the start of the game, I’d pegged Raymond as a bad guy. As the game progressed, I realised he was almost certainly part of Targent. I’d also begun to suspect Sycamore had a sinister motive too, but I certainly didn’t imagine the reality of them both.

More twist-tastically, I definitely didn’t see the Emmy reveal coming. I was convinced, due to her never appearing or being mentioned in the original three games in the series, that she was going to be killed off – and, near the end of The Azran Legacy, that definitely seemed likely. But no, the character was something else entirely.

Not only that, but the actual Sycamore, Bronev and Layton triple whammy? Off the loon charts. Astounding.

tumblr_n1tt9p3bcv1svmpf2o1_400As for the actual game, it was the usual fare. Shorter than previous chapters in the series (I clocked it at under 15 hours, and several of them were doing the downloadable puzzled), although I’ve not 100%ed it, and almost certainly the easiest; The lack of 75 and 99 Picarat puzzles on the final straight made the ending of the game appear sudden, and there were virtually no slide puzzles (my Achilles heel) to speak of. Having said that, for the first time in any Layton title I reached one of the “you must have solved X many puzzles to progress” points, and came up short. I only needed a quick trip to Keats to solve three missed puzzles to fix that, though.

tumblr_n1ttbgtoel1svmpf2o1_400I’m not sure I like the idea of a Laytonless future now. You could argue the formula has run its course, and 6 consecutive years of puzzling with a man in a top hat is enough, but still… end of an era.


Streetpass Quest II (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n1mhc27fhw1svmpf2o1_1280Right now let me just explain something. I technically reached the end of Streetpass Quest II ages ago, but I didn’t mention it. I don’t know why. However, it was just as well – there was more to do as it turns out there’s a Secret Quest! Which is like the normal one only harder. There are something like 6 playthroughs of that before you have taken every path, opened up every route, and obtained every hat, so I’ve been doing that.

And let me tell you this: entering a room with 10 powerful heroes, only to have them turn and walk away because you don’t have two red ones to “warm the room up” in a team, never gets annoying.

Oh wait, I mean it’s the most annoying thing ever. Ever.


Retro City Rampage (360): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n1g9w6sqt41svmpf2o1_1280What a totally nuts game. So many ideas, parodies and play styles all thrown together, seemingly randomly, with intentionally terrible (well, great retro but terrible modern) graphics 1 and sound and garnished with groan-worthy puns and not-so-subtle innuendo.

And it’s brilliant.

One minute you’re in the sewers beating up ninja turtles, the next you’re a Ghostbuster, before taking part in a clone of Smash TV (where at one point you end up in the wrong TV studio and interrupt Phil Fish being interviewed), all via some Solid Snake Inna Box and pretending to be Batman. Not to mention Paperboy, Super Hang On, ‘Splosion Man and so many more. And GTA, which the main game overworld apes so obviously.

There are references to retro and modern games, TV and films everywhere. The developer pokes fun at terrible practices at large gaming companies at every turn. Games programmers, reviewers, PR people and “celebrities” pop up all over the place. There’s so much fun to be had before you even play the game.

Thankfully, the game still stands up as a game worth playing. Somehow, stitching these tropes and parodies together actually works. The game even riffs on itself by apologising for the tedious bits, using some deus ex machina to skip some sections that are obviously going to bore you (one fetch quest is cut short with a never used again warp whirlwind, a-la Mario 3). In fact, even some of the more difficult stages give you the option of skipping them, or you’re loaded up with better weapons to make things a bit easier. Add to this instant restarts and pretty frequent checkpoints and it’s clear the developer doesn’t want you to get bored.

Unfortunately, some of the stages are still a bit on the hard side (especially the final few), but that’s to be expected, I suppose. I did put some of the deaths down to a bizarre problem my 360 pad has developed where it moves to the left by itself. Odd.

Overall, well recommended. And other off my Pile of Shame. Phew!


  1. Which you can change to make look even worse! Like it’s a C64 game or it’s running on a Game Boy!

Pokémon Rumble U (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Pokewon.With Mario 3D World completed in 2-player with my daughter (after completing it in single player), we moved back to this. It turns out there weren’t actually that many levels left, and with our ridiculously overpowered White Kyurem NFC character we didn’t exactly struggle.

I’m not going to sing the game’s praises too much. It’s a very simple button basher (even more so than the Wii and 3DS precursors), with very few differences between levels. Even having different Pokémon means very little, providing they actually have some decent HP and moves. Yes, there are “defend the fort” levels, and “beat the boss in under 120 seconds” levels, but ultimately, you play every level the same – point your ‘mon at the baddies and hammer A and sometimes B.

Having said all that, there’s not actually much to dislike. It’s fun, it’s colourful, and it’s multiplayer. Shallow and repetitive aren’t features many 5 year olds care about, and frankly, I didn’t really mind either.

My only real complaint is that you can’t upgrade your non-NFC Pokémon. It’s not important; As I said, there’s little reason to change character, but when your co-player wants to use “the little crabby one!” with “power” of 150 on a level that recommends 1500+, it would have been nice to be able to spend some of those coins you win bumping Little Crabby’s stats up a bit.


Bit.Trip Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Old_Skool_RunnerAs it turned out, I was still on World 4, and not World 5 as I though. Still, I was close to the end of World 4, and World 5 was indeed the final world, so I wasn’t that far from complete.

Now I’m even less far from complete, having completed it.

I may have mentioned it’s hard. Oh boy is it hard. I’m not sure it actually got harder on the final world (aside from throwing me a bit by changing the graphics, and by changing how some of the enemies appear – some now move when they didn’t before), but that’s probably just as well as it was hard enough already.

I_made_a_new_friend_So many times I had the checkpoint (yes, I used checkpoints) or end of level in sight, but still died before passing them meaning I had to do it all again.

And then for the final level the worst fly in the ointment happens. You have to run from right to left, but the controls stay the same! So A is still Block, where Y would make more sense. Death after death. Not helped by having no idea what to do with the walls you come across (tip: turns out you have to slide-jump through them).

Which all sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it? It really isn’t. It’s a wonderful game which is just very hard. Unlike some games, though, it doesn’t suffer as a result. The short levels and instant restarts stop you getting totally frustrated, and the levels and controls are such that all mistakes, except perhaps the first time you hit something you didn’t see quickly enough, are entirely your fault. Hard but perfectly fair.

I should point out that I’ve not 100%ed it. I don’t have all the gold in all the levels, I don’t have all the bullseyes, and I don’t have all the chests, keys or anything like that. I won’t be trying to 100% it either – I feel it’s really beyond me. I almost 100%ed the first world and that was difficult enough, and although I know it would be a great achievement to perfect the entire game, I don’t think I’d enjoy doing it. Next!


Things I’ve been playing recently

tumblr_n1ad5ghslg1svmpf2o1_400Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)

Have I posted about this yet? I can’t remember. It’s the main game-on-the-go-that-isn’t-called-Animal-Crossing on my 3DS at the moment, having started it soon after finishing off Zelda. So far, it’s a slight deviation from previous Layton games, as there are a lot of locations and travel between them. This makes the game seem a lot bigger, but as you’ve the option of finishing up several of the locations in any order (or at least, it seems that way) so it feels almost open world.

In addition, there are millions of downloadable puzzles this time round. Possibly literally. I’ve spent a few hours on those as well.

This_game_is_too_hard._Well__not_this_exact_bit__but_in_general.Bit.trip Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U)

In between bouts of Duck Tales (Woo-oo) I’ve been running (ha!) through this. It is so very, very hard. Leaving it for a couple of weeks and coming back is not a good idea, as you forget all the controls. Still, an hour or so’s play and it mostly comes back, and I’ve managed to reach world 4. Or 5? Yes, 5. Which I think might be the final world! The end is in sight!

Best_game_ever.Advanced Lawnmower Simulator Advance (GBA)

Actually, I’ve been playing it on an emulator on the iPhone. There’s one called GBA4iOS which you can install without jailbreaking and you don’t go through the App Store, which makes me think it’s just going to vanish one day, but until then… Advanced Lawnmower Simulator Advance is there.

It’s the best game ever, which of course I would say because 1) it is, and 2) I wrote it. Marvellous.

tumblr_n13xxprbyk1svmpf2o1_400Steel Diver: Sub Wars (3DS)

This nice little FPS in slow motion (submarines aren’t known for their speed and manoeuvrability)  is, for the cut-down version at least, free on the 3DS eShop, and was a surprise offering during last week’s Nintendo Direct.

I’ve not played a lot of it yet, but it seems fun enough.


Duck Tales (Wii U): COMPLETED!

DUCK_NEWS__A_WOO-OOIn my unprompted quest to clear some of my backlog (see Wonderful 101 and NES Remix), this was cued up next on the list. Previously on Duck Tales, Woo-oo 1, I’d completed the first and second levels, and then… stopped playing.

As has happened before, many times, with many games. Stay focussed!

It’s not a very long game, so I thought I’d get it wrapped up. And I did. Turns out it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought previously – perhaps the first couple of levels were actually the easiest in the game? I don’t know, but I barely had a problem for the rest of it. Even the bosses were easier as I progressed.

I don’t recall a great deal about the NES original. I know I’ve played it, but not very much, so I didn’t come to it with a great deal of nostalgia. I do know however, and this is a Known Fact, that 8-bit Disney platformers are fantastic and 16-bit ones are terrible, so I was expecting to enjoy it. Thankfully, I was right as I did – very much so. It is true that it’s nothing terribly special, and it is also true that platformers have moved on somewhat in the intervening years, but that matters not. In fact, it’s nice to have a simple game like this every so often, without the constraints of the older consoles but with the “pure gaming soul” of the titles. Oh yes, and the Wii U version having the map on screen at all times is a nice helpful thing.

And that music. Joy.


  1. Or should that be, aha, “Duck Tales, Wii U”? Hilarious.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

tumblr_n0xozrnbex1svmpf2o1_1280This week I hit the 350 hours played mark. That’s a lot of hours. I’m pretty sure that’s more hours than I’ve spent on any previous game in the series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of my most played games ever. And yet… I’m still playing every day, and I still feel I’m nowhere near done.

tumblr_n0zfb0tggl1svmpf2o1_400Sure, there’s a load of furniture I’m missing (much of which I’ll probably never get – like the Ice stuff, and some of the other missed seasonal special things), but I’m also well off completing my museum, with still only about 6 pictures and statues on display, and around a third of the fish and insects still unaccounted for. Not only that but many of the town works I crave so much are just not forthcoming. Cheese must remain Flower Clockless and Devoid of Lighthouse for a bit longer, it seems. And badges? I’ve not even half of them. So much to do, yet I spend most of my time sending letters full of fertiliser to Agent S. She loves it.


The Wonderful 101 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n17nb1ocvt1svmpf2o1_1280A concerted effort over the last few days has paid off, and I’ve managed to complete The Wonderful 101!

I really enjoyed it. It’s mental, but it’s so much fun to play. OK, so the number of times you fight the same baddies is perhaps a bit too high, and drawing Unite Morphs in a narrow or enclosed space is sometimes a little tricky, but there’s just too much to love about it.

It’s so bright and happy, with plenty of funny conversations (like Red’s ability to remember and repeat everything he’s told, Green and Black having a wager on who would win “mumble mumble mumble something something with Pink” if they destroyed more bad guys than the other, and so on), and somehow manages to be a little dark and sinister too. The way the action ramps up (as does the size of the foes) towards the end of the game is brilliant – when you realise that Platinum Robo dwarfs your team, but he then is essentially microscopic compared to other enemies later on. Amazing.

The levels are varied too, with some isometric shooter sections, a couple of Rez-like into-the-screen bits (complete with lockons), and even a few bosses you have to beat Punch-Out!! style.

Yep._Platinum_are_definitely_Power_Rangers_fans.I should mention the number of references to Platinum (the team who made the game) too, as there are a lot. Platinum Robo itself wears the developers’ logo on its head, and the massive super computer that controls Earth’s defence shield is called “Mother Platinum”, and is the shape of the “Platinum 4 Point Star”. You even collect said stars as powerups in some of the levels, and there are 5 hidden Platinum Coins on each level as well.

Sadly, there’s one nasty fly in the ointment. Each “Operation” is made up of three sections (A, B and C), with each of these covering many missions (destroy a large enemy, traverse a dangerous bit, solve a puzzle, etc.). Each of the three Operation sections takes, roughly, 20-30 minutes. The problem is, that the game only saves after each section, not after each smaller mission (even though the game actually says it’s saving, and the manual says it does so). What it seems to do is save your record for that mission, with your score and rating, but not actually your progress. This means there’s 30 minutes between save points. Which is bad.

What is worse, though, is the final Operation section – 009C. It’s not 30 minutes long, being final boss after final boss (he has something like 5 or 6 forms, plus other bits and cutscenes between them). In fact, it took me almost three hours. That’s too long without a save point, took me well past my bedtime, and soured what should have been an epic final battle as I was rushing to get it done.

Still, this probably would only be an issue if you don’t have the time, or you’re shooting for high scores so have to do the 3 hour final run over and over (because you get a terrible rating if you die), but it’s something they should have fixed. Why no “quick save” after every mission, Platinum? You craft such a fantastic game and then threaten to ruin it with a silly decision. Oh well.


The Wonderful 101 (Wii U)

tumblr_n13xy1n5qk1svmpf2o1_1280I’ve not played this in quite some time, mainly because Mario 3D World happened. For the last couple of days, though, I’ve been back on it to try and finish it up. Not that I dislike it and want it over with – not at all – more that I do like it and think it’s only fair to finish it off before I forget about it and move on.

Previously, I’d reached some point in Mission 005, and since then I’ve ploughed on through and I’m now near the end of Mission 008. I don’t know how many missions are left, but I’m guessing there can’t be many more – the guy I have to beat now seems to be the right hand man of the head of Geathjerk, so once he’s done, there’s just the big boss left. Probably.

tumblr_n13xylfwbj1svmpf2o1_1280I’m still really enjoying it. I had a few issues with not being able to draw some of the shapes but only really in confined areas where there’s not much room to draw, so nothing to ruin it like I had previously (where the game was actually broken and a reinstall fixed it). It took a while to get back into the swing of things, having forgotten most of the moves, but it’s all good again now.

Except for one bit. There’s a mission inside Prince Vorkken (er, spoilers, I suppose) and part way through you have to Unite Whip to grab a hook. The game explains that if you draw a bigger whip, you can grab things from further away. However, the hook kept vanishing whenever I went near it, and I couldn’t get a big enough whip from far enough away that the hook didn’t vanish. Eventually I seemed to fluke it and progress, but I was stuck there for a good 20 minutes.


Super Mario Bros Deluxe (3DS): COMPLETED!

Thank_you_Mario__now_why_not_do_it_all_againNintendo lovingly gave lots of 3DS owners a free copy of this GBC game (on the 3DS Virtual Console) for Valentine’s Day. Ah, bless them.

Seems that all that play on NES Remix recently has really paid off, as a I stormed through SMB Deluxe without losing a single life. OK, yes – I used the 1-2 to 4-1 and 4-2 to 8-1 warps, but I’ve never managed to do World 8 this easily. And that’s with the GBC version’s cramped level design as the screen resolution is too low…



Much_too_hard.I’ll say now that I don’t have all 600 (I presume) stars. I also don’t have all of all the stars for the Remix I, II and Bonus Modes. I definitely don’t have all the Three Rainbow Gold Stars for everything either. However, I consider the game completed and everything left is “extra content”.

tumblr_n0quqzdpcy1svmpf2o1_1280No, that’s not a cop-out either. I have managed to 3-star all of all the individual game challenges, netting me a gold frame around each title screen. I even managed to 3-rainbow-star one of the games. I’ve also managed to get at least 2 stars for each game on Remix I, and 2 or 3 stars on all bar one challenge on Remix II. Importantly, I passed the credits screen after finishing Remix I so technically I finished the game there, I suppose.

Haha__No.There’s only Bonus that I’m missing some challenges on. Most of them are because they’re not yet unlocked (I have 551 stars, and the next challenge unlocks at 560), but two are because they’re impossible. Namely the “beat an invisible opponent” Tennis one (it’s not hard because he’s invisible, it’s hard because aiming is impossible), and the “get a hole in one” Golf one – I can’t even get it on the green, never mind in the hole.

So while I’m sure I’ll attempt and reattempt some of the as-yet not 3-starred challenges, for now I’m calling the game completed. I’m certainly not going to try and get rainbow stars for everything, that’s ridiculous.


NES Remix (Wii U)

Scratch_that._You_just_hammer_the_A_button.I turned my Wii U on to play Super Mario 3D World Woohoo Meeeoow (as it’s called on the title screen) but loaded this instead.

Some of the challenges are getting sillyhard now. I mainly did Super Mario Bros ones, and one of them involves beating all the bosses, another that required you to beat all the bosses with a fireflower (which is actually much more difficult), and another that I’m stuck on where you have to collect all the coins in several sections of levels very quickly. One of the sections is from a later underwater level and it’s full of bloopers and cheep cheeps and fire bars and PANIC.

In other news, Baseball is rubbish.


Bit.Trip Presents…Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U)

Bullseye_Less than four pounds on the eShop? Don’t mind if I do, sir. Especially since I had eShop credit that I didn’t pay for.

I liked the original Bit.Trip Runner, but it was so hard. I never got very far it – not even half way. It looked great and I loved the idea, but it was just too hard.

This is also hard. Not quite too hard yet, and I’ve finished World 2 without as many fails as I was expecting, so there may be hope yet. I’m a bit concerned there are twice as many moves as the original Runner, as I can see later levels becoming something akin to playing Chopin’s Prelude No. 16. Without ever having seen a piano.


Titan Souls (Web): COMPLETED!

Titan_Souls_EndIs this a first? As in, a web-based (well, Flash) game that I’ve completed? Sort of. I mean, I’ve completed Cookie Clicker and Clicking Bad, but they’re not really proper games (are they?). Does this count as a proper game?

Yes. I think it does. OK then.

Titan Souls is, it appears, a purposefully terribly-named 2D top-down mini version of Shadow of the Colossus. Only with just four Colossi. And your only weapon is a single arrow you have to retrieve after you use it. And each colossus only takes two hits to kill (well, one to wake them up, one to kill them). And you don’t climb them.

OK, so not a lot like Shadow of the Colossus – or Attack on Titan or Dark Souls after both of which it is named.

But it’s hard, and fun for the time it takes to complete, which isn’t long despite how hard it is, and the end of game boss is very clever indeed. I did a little squeal when I realised the trick to it.

Want to play it? It’s here and free.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS): COMPLETED!

Zelda-EndBoss1Yeah Hilda. You tell me a gooood story. I’m all ears. And not just because I’m an elf thing. Aha.

That’s it then – final dungeon done, final final dungeon done, end boss beaten. What a fantastic game. It’s just so perfect in almost every single way, and somehow manages to improve on the Zelda formula by getting rid of most of the linearity, by upping the pacing, and by making it somehow feel both very different and exactly the same as every other Zelda title. Yes, I know that sounds impossible.

The only thing that’s even slightly negative about the game that I can say is how easy it is. It’s very, very easy. It’s by far the easiest Zelda game and probably one of the easiest “big” games I’ve ever played. There’s simply very little challenge at all at any point. In fact, look:

ZeldaStatsThey’re my End Of Game stats. See how many times I was defeated? None. Not only that, but at no point was I ever even nearly close to dying. Not even in the “seems too difficult to do that early on” Ice Ruins dungeon. Of the seven main dungeons (which you can do in any order), I did the Ice Ruins second. I expected that the game would somehow ramp up the difficulty somehow (harder or more enemies, perhaps) as you progressed through the game, but it doesn’t. So, after completing the Ice Ruins I found that I’d done the hardest bit of the game (which even then wasn’t especially tricky) right near the start and it was plain sailing from then on. Even the end boss, which I faced before I’d even finished “tooling up” with all the best gear, was a complete walkover.

However, this is not a problem. It took away none of the fun and I still loved every minute. I’m even returning to it to get the remaining items and 100% it. It’s the best Zelda game since Oracle of Ages/Seasons. FACT.


Tracking my gaming. For great victoly!