Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

And that’s all the murder mysteries done. The final one (as part of the video below) is a little… odd. Still lots to do!

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

True to my word, I’m still playing. I’ve probably put six hours or more into it now, after finishing it. Or at least, getting to the point where I assume I’ve finished it.

What I’ve done, is mainly find collectables. I did also go and talk with Henry, who thanked me for my work and said he had something for me. He didn’t. Similarly, I spoke to Clara, who said the same thing. Yet gave me nothing. In addition, I keep getting popup messages telling me to speak to the woman on the train for more train missions, only she isn’t on the train.

Besides that nonsense, I’ve also been solving the murders for the Penny Dreadful side-missions. They’re quite fun, each seemingly based around a known Victorian murder story (like Sweeney Todd) only with a twist (i.e. it wasn’t the barber). They play out a bit like investigations in Batman crossed with something from Phoenix Wright. I think I’ve exhausted them all now though, as I can’t see any more on the map.

Onward with the collecting, then. And the Darwin and Dickens memories too, I think!

Picross e7 (3DS): COMPLETED!

XOOXXXXXOXOXXXXOXXXO

Maybe I miscalculated, or maybe my picross skills are now honed to the point where I complete puzzles on autopilot, but it turns out Picross e7 was actually shorter than Picross e6. Not much – 27 1/2 hours compared with about 28 hours, but it was still a surprise.

Like before, there’s some “cheating” going on by reusing the same pictures for both the picross and mega picross modes, which is a shame. Also, you don’t get many “bonus” puzzles for owning other games in the series – just 15 in total. It’s the same as before, but there are 6 previous titles now, not 3!

And that’s all there is to say, really. It’s more picross. And there’s an excellent toilet in it.

picross e7

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cor blimey guv’nor, there’s bin a murder!

Before I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I was reminded of how many people saw it as superior to Assassin’s Creed Unity. It seems that although in the most part Unity was a return to how the series used to be, it was overly “Ubied” up, with map icons galore and bugs a-plenty. The latter of which is par for the course in Assassin’s Creed, of course, but by the time I got round to playing it most had been patched out. I still had plenty of issues, but it was a better game than the version early adopters had despaired with.

That was Unity, however. At first, I found Syndicate a little hard to enjoy. More grimy, more violent than Unity, and with too much of a focus on trains perhaps. I instantly hated Jacob, one of Syndicate’s twin protagonists, for being too cocksure and brash. Evie, however, was pretty awesome, so I used her wherever possible in his stead.

Initially, the mission structure confused me. I didn’t understand how to do the next “story” memory, as they all seemed jumbled up with side quests and targets and other stuff. Eventually, at some point in Sequence 4 or 5, I realised you have to do the “Evie head”, “Jacob head” or “Skull” icons on the map. Until then, I’d stumbled randomly through the game and it didn’t help me like it.

assassin's creed syndicate

Soon enough, though, it clicked. I really got into it. I started liking Jacob more (he’s brilliantly sarcastic). The conquest events, which seemed tedious and dull when a few hours in became one of my favourite bits of the game. The story was simpler, less convoluted, than Unity (and most of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, actually) and I think was better for it. Evie and Jacob take over London and find a piece of Eden. Done. No treachery, no double/triple/quadruple agents (aside from one character, but you can see that from a mile away), no unexpected twists. Just good, old-fashioned Assassins vs Templars.

And I completed it. At least, I think I did. You see, I finished what was clearly the final mission: kill the main bad guy. That’s not a spoiler – it’s literally the aim of the game. After that, no credits. No end sequence. Nothing. Except for an email, as in, a real email in my real-life inbox, from Ubisoft congratulating me for completing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Now, I’m no fan of Ubi’s end of game credits, which are often longer than the game itself as they list every human being that has ever lived, and their pets. It just seemed odd not to have them. Or anything.

assassin's creed syndicate

I did, however, have a message with some suggestions. I should do some missions for Queen Victoria, and take over the rest of London. So I did those too. Nothing.

There are non-story missions still littering the map. Associate activities, flowers to collect, and so on. Surely I don’t need these to “finish” the game? My usual metric is to declare a game completed when I hit the credits. That hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it will. In any case, I’m taking it as done.

assassin's creed syndicate

By the end, and I mean the end I got to rather than the end which may or may not exist, I realised that I was enjoying Syndicate way more than I’d expected to. I know I declared Unity a return to form when I played that last year, but this is another step closer. A definite refinement. I may even do what I’ve not done since Brotherhood: Try to get all the collectables, because I’m enjoying it that much. Once more, it isn’t perfect. But if Ubi can take this and polish it a bit more, then I have high hopes for Origins. It has taken a long time to recover from the massive misstep that was Assassin’s Creed III. They’re there now – just don’t ruin it!

If you want to see my complete, but lengthy, playthrough, then watch this video playlist:

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS): COMPLETED!

To be this good takes Capcom. Mocpac? Hmm.

Last time I completed Oracle of Ages was almost 12 years ago, not long after I started this gaming diary. You can read my post about that here. Since then, I’ve played a lot more Zelda games, but in my mind the Oracles games have always been the best. Would my memory hold up, in light of Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild?

Actually… yes.

Ages is not without faults. Changing weapons is perhaps the biggest issue, especially on boss fights. Swimming controls, in particular once you pick up the mermaid gear, could be much better. Warping between the past and present, once you have the right tune, takes just a little too long. Having to remember where everyone and everything on the map is, for later reference, is difficult.

But most of these don’t really matter. The item swapping is a product of its time: The Game Boy Colour only had two buttons, after all. What is still outstanding is the game itself. In particular, some of the puzzles are genius. I wonder about the brains of those who created them, notably the Mermaid’s Cave dungeon. Not only do you need to contend with some of the more fiendish riddles, but you also have to leave the dungeon, change era, and return. I also must have spent four or more hours in the multidimensional nightmare that is Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. Raising and lowering water and a one-way system broke my brain several times.

From what I recall, Oracle of Ages is the more cerebral of the two Oracles games. Difficult puzzles, but generally easy bosses, with Oracle of Seasons being the opposite. It certainly seems to be the case given what I’ve said, and that all of the bosses – even the final one to a lesser degree – were incredibly easy. The only problems I had were figuring out how to damage some of them, which again bears out the puzzle-based nature.

So is it better than Breath of the Wild? I mean, really? It’s certainly a better Zelda game, yes. It doesn’t have the scope, beauty or freedom of the Switch title, but it is a purer, tighter, more focussed Zelda experience. But then, Breath of the Wild isn’t a true Zelda game in my eyes.

Seasons next!

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

What is it like to be… hu-man?

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

dragon's trap

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

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

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

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

Claire: Extended Cut (Vita)

Claire as mud.

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

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

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

Claire
Dark here, innit?

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

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

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

Claire
And not really much less dark here.

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

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

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch)

Sitting oh so proudly.

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

Until now!

If only. No, it’s still hard.

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

wonder boy

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

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

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

The Lynel Sleeps Tonight

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

Colonocolypse

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

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

mission impossible

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

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

 

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

I’m Batman

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

burial at sea

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

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

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

And that’s BioShock all done.

Marvel Land (MD): COMPLETED!

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

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

marvel land

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

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

marvel land

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

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

marvel land

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

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

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

ys iii
Another Castlevania, another Clock Tower.

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

ys iii
Dancing on the sand.

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

ys iii
Gotta gets me some harb.

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

Pang (Arcade): COMPLETED!

Pop it

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

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

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

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

It’s Ganon down. I’m yelling timber.

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

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

breath of the wild

This is not Zelda.

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

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

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

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

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