Sonic Mania (Switch)

Now Sonic can be Super Sonic!

That review I said I was going to do? It’s here.

In other news – I’ve got all the Chaos Emeralds! The special stages are pretty hard, the 4th and 6th ones especially so. Somehow, the 7th was very easy and I completed it on my first go without even gaining much speed.

Now to play through the rest of the game for the proper ending!

Sonic Mania (Switch): COMPLETED!

Sanic

Just a short post about this, because I’ll be writing a full review in due course, but oh my. It’s good. After so many letdowns and missteps, Sega have finally come up with a truly fantastic Sonic game. Only they didn’t, did they? A team of fans did instead. Tch, eh?

I love the new takes on old zones, new versions of old bosses, new remixes of old music. Levels which are mashups of old levels. New levels which feel like they are from old Sonic games but aren’t. It’s all exactly what I wanted from a new Sonic game.

Sonci Mania

There are a few later zones which don’t feel quite as good as earlier ones, and a handful of bugs, but it’s nigh on perfect. Well done to all concerned.

And yes, I bought it, played it, and completed it in a single day. I’d avoided all media to do with the game since they started revealing zones and features, so almost every level was a complete surprise. Even those I knew about had surprises. Lovely.

Now to get all the Chaos Emeralds. Which is Hard.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch)

Cupid, draw back your bow.

Which I’ve completed again. This week, they added Gal*Gun’s Ekoro as a new, free, DLC character. Of course, that meant I had to play it again.

Ekoro’s main differences are that her shots appear to be substantially weaker than either Beck or Gunvolt, and that her “aerial” ability is being able to hover and glide. She also jumps a lot higher than the other characters, making some of the game much easier – and a couple of sections somewhat harder. Spikes on the ceiling, you see.

The story sections are simply removed in this run through. It’s a shame, but there aren’t many anyway and wouldn’t make sense any more either.

As always, it’s a great game. I wonder who else is going to appear as DLC? A current rumour would be Shovel Knight…

Persona 4 Golden (Vita)

Every day’s great at your Junes!

A little history on this first. Over two years ago, I bought Persona 4 Golden cheap. I’d wanted it anyway – despite not really understanding much about the game besides “JRPG in a modern day setting” – because everyone seemed to rate it. At the time I wrote:

The fantastic yellow submarine/katamari hybrid opening sequence segued into Shenmue before becoming something somewhere between Phoenix Wright and Eternal Sonata, via a Japanese dating sim and The Ring.

Perfectly my sort of nonsense then. I started playing it, got about ten hours in, then just stopped. There were a few reasons. I bought Akiba’s Trip at the same time, and that was vaguely similar but much more accessible. I was also struggling to understand the whole Persona system (I’d never played a game in the series), and I was panicking I’d run out of time to rescue people from the TV which put an unhappy stress into the game.

The longer I didn’t play it, the harder it felt going back to it. I’d pretty much binned the Vita after a few months and so Persona 4 Golden was, sadly, abandoned.

Then, last year, I bought, played, completed and absolutely loved Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE on the Wii U. It was the Akiba’s Trip aesthetic that drew me in, but it was the Persona-like gameplay that kept me hooked. I quickly realised it was a Persona game in all but name – and not surprising since it’s a spinoff from the same source Persona 4 Golden is. It has some simplified mechanics compared to Persona 4 Golden, with the Performa “soul” system being similar to but much more streamlined than Persona’s, er, Personas. Dungeons were much the same. Items and magic even have the same names and effects. Tokyo Mirage is My First Persona, and having beaten it, I felt like I could return to P4G with a better understanding of how it worked.

It was still a while before I fired it up again, but I was absolutely right.

A couple of weeks ago, I loaded my 30 month old save (just after saving Yukiko), and I’ve put almost 20 hours into it since then. It’s incredible.

My two main fears – time running out, and not being able to grind dungeons (something you can do in Tokyo Mirage) – were unfounded. Certainly, you can run out of time, but you’ve loads of it and with a tiny bit of planning and some goal setting, it’s not a problem. And while I found you can’t realistically grind a dungeon forever, you can for a very long time once you’ve met the fox and he provides a way to restore SP (the main barrier to indefinite grinding) in the TV without having to leave. It comes at a hefty price, but doing quests for him reduces the cost, and you gain plenty of money bashing baddies anyway. Phew. Sorted.

With my worries out of the way, I could enjoy the game. Build up my social links without being concerned that I’m “wasting” an afternoon wooing Chie (of course) instead of levelling up in the TV. I’m seeing the benefits of some of these links already too, as my party are gaining follow-up and team attacks and stuff.

I’ve taken on some part-time jobs, mainly because I was finding I needed Courage for far too many of my conversations and the scary janitorial work at the hospital seemed a good way to raise it. It’s a creepy night shift, cleaning empty wards, but more worrying is the nurse who likes to “teach me about anatomy”. She’s wholly inappropriate, what with my character being 15 or something?

Other parts of the game keep opening up. I’ve recently started to be able to fish, catch bugs, and plant stuff in the garden, for instance. Even 30 hours in I’m still feeling like a beginner and this is still part of the tutorial.

As for story progress, I’ve rescued the person after Yukiko (I won’t say who because spoilers, but that sauna dungeon was something else), and the next victim has just been kidnapped. From the Midnight Channel, it’s a woman in a bikini threatening to take it off.

Japanese games, eh?

Oh yeah, and that “Your Affection, Your Affection” (always misheard as “You’re Special” song is constantly in my head now.

Virtua Fighter 2 (PSP): COMPLETED!

Polygone.

Sort of prompted by the Virtua Fighter article in the current issue of Retro Gamer, when I opened up Mega Drive Collection for the PSP – on my Vita – I decided to play this.

It’s crap.

No, it’s really pretty awful. The animation is terrible, the controls are unresponsive, and the implementation of the game on the Vita/PSP is woeful, with horrendous slowdown and sound syncing issues.

It looks nice. But then everything moves and you wonder what the hell Sega were thinking when they thought the Mega Drive was a good fit for a Virtua Fighter 2 port. It didn’t have the oomph to push enough polygons, so they rendered the animation frames with sprites instead. Leaving a poorly animated version of the game and awful sprites that are laughable beside Street Fighter II or even Eternal Champions.

I completed it as Jacky, by the way.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch): COMPLETED!

The impression that I get.

A couple of years ago, there was a game called Mighty Gunvolt. It was a sort of 8bit demake of Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Mega Man-inspired game that it came free with. It was great. Short, but great. Recently, they made this sequel – Mighty Gunvolt Burst.

Still 8bit in style, but boasting more levels and a really deep customisable weapon and ability system, it improves on the original in almost every way.

As you play, you find extra moves and modifications for your weapons. You can use them in any combination, but each costs points to do so. You have the situation where you might need to decide if you’re prepared to have slower, less powerful shots so you’re able to double jump. Or maybe really powerful shots that are homing, but in order to pay for it you have to decrease your defence. You can earn more points, but invariably you never have quite enough for your perfect loadout!

There are two characters to play as: Gunvolt, from the original game, and Beck, from Mighty No.9. Gunvolt has fewer weapon customisation options than Beck, but Beck doesn’t have a multiple jump or any special weapons. I’ve completed the game as both now, and prefer Gunvolt.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst is still quite a short game, but there’s replay value (you have to finish each level at least three times as each character in order to unlock everything) and it’s substantially bigger than Mighty Gunvolt was. I’ve put around 7 hours into it so far, whereas I’d nearly 100%ed the first game in just two.

I’m now really looking forward to the Azure Striker Gunvolt and Gunvolt 2 double pack that’s supposedly coming to the Switch next month. I’ve played the original, of course, but not any of the DLC and for some reason never picked up the sequel. I definitely will be now!

Plantera DX (Switch): COMPLETED!

Buying the farm.

At least, I’m classing Plantera DX as completed. I’m at the point now, at around level 155 or so, that there are diminishing returns. It takes more than a whole day’s play (or leave it for that long to generate money) to get enough cash to either expand the farm or buy the next multiplier upgrade. Doing so barely speeds up the money generation, yet the next expansion or upgrade is even more expensive.

What I’m saying, is, that upgrades are getting further away at a faster rate than money generation is speeding up.

I was going to stop when I had all the achievements, but they’re broken so I can’t. For example, one is to plant 100 trees in total. Not at the same time (the devs have specifically stated that) which is just as well as I’d have to be on level 1000 or something for that to be possible, just in total. You can bin and re-plant trees. So I did that. In one play session, I planted more than 200 trees. No achievement. I’ve planted over 400 in total, but supposedly only need 100. The same goes for bushes, plants and animals – I’ve gone way over 100, but no achievement.

I do have everything unlocked, though, so there’s that. I’m probably still going to play it a bit more too. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s done. Complete.

Nano Assault EX (3DS): COMPLETED!

Viral.

I was sure I’d played and completed Nano Assault EX long ago, but no. I saw it on my home screen when moving stuff around and decided to have a look at it, and then realised I’d not played it.

It was probably one of the games in that excellent Nintendo Humble Bundle from a while back.

Anyway, over a couple of days I completed it. Like the Wii U version (which is actually different, much to my surprise) it’s pretty short, but it’s a lot of fun and looks incredible. With the 3D on full, the graphics are so impressive that I’m baffled how the 3DS manages them.

It’s actually a bit longer than the Wii U version too. I think that only had four “areas” of four levels each, whereas this has six or seven areas with four or more levels in each. I think it’s quite a bit easier too, but since I’m terrible at shooters, I’m not complaining.

I would say, however, that I can’t recommend Nano Assault EX anywhere near as much if you don’t have a New 3DS, or at the very least a Circle Pad Pro on a normal 3DS. That C stick is essential for playing it properly, as it’s very much a twin-stick shooter.

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 1 (PS3): COMPLETED!

The Penal Zone. No, not that one.

Since Minecraft: Story Mode was disappointingly adventure game free, I was in the mood to play a proper one. Luckily, I picked up the whole series of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse some time ago, so it was all there ready to go.

And it’s so much better than the other game. There are actual puzzles. People to properly talk to. Items to find, combine, use and so on. And no QTEs or combat! Excellent.

In this series, which continues on pretty much directly from the previous one (good lord – was that really nearly six years ago?!), Max has gained psychic powers, each enabled by a Toy of Power. There’s one to let him see the future – just enough to hint at a solution to something but not necessarily solve it – and one to teleport to any telephone he has the number for. It makes for some clever and unusual puzzle solutions, not least the one where you have to get rid of a gorilla from outside a building.

As before, it’s pretty funny too. Even Sam just slapping Max out of the way all the time never gets old.

SteamWorld Heist: The Outsider (3DS): COMPLETED!

Let’s go outside. Er.

A short one, this! SteamWorld Heist’s DLC, The Outsider, was on offer this week and somehow I’d not previously bought it. I righted a wrong and did that, and then played through and completed it.

It’s not a separate story as such, more an expansion. There’s a new character (The Outsider, of course), once you’ve repaired him, and then five or six new missions strewn across the map. To go with these there’s a new selection of hats to find and a handful of new weapons and stuff.

One of the levels is an interesting three way fight between yourselves, the Queen’s guard, and the Vectron forces. You can of course allow both other sides to pretty much eradicate each other, then move in to mop up. So I did that.

Short, but well worth digging the game out for again!

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 8 (PS4): COMPLETED!

And finally.

Oh look. It’s The Hunger Games Episode. Which meant more QTEs. All the QTEs. So many QTEs.

Something which has bothered me with the final four episodes of the series, is the lack of “danger”. The huge, deadly, horrible witherstorm thing was clearly a threat of epic proportions, but since then, what have we had? A disgruntled ex-friend of Lukas who wanted a chicken. A computer that literally just needed unplugging. A woman who liked cats and wears pumpkins. And here, a man and a woman who rig some you-never-really-die olympics. Really?

It is all done. I can’t say I really disliked the series, but it’s probably the weakest Telltale Games title I’ve played. Maybe if I was into Minecraft, the references would elevate it a bit to make up for the lack of gameplay and adventure. Maybe it’s aimed at kids, but then why be a PEGI 12? It has put me off playing The Walking Dead now though, because I have no affinity for that series either.

Luckily, I do have a series of Sam & Max still unplayed, so I’ll probably do that instead.

Kamiko (Switch): COMPLETED!

Save keys to open doors.

I’m a big fan of Fairune, that tiny adventure game for the 3DS with no proper combat and a very odd way of levelling up. Kamiko is by the same developer, and so I was interested as sound as I realised this.

And it’s great. Short, but great. You move through four small levels, opening doors and making pathways appear by pressing buttons or finding and carrying keys. Not dissimilar to Fairune, but the big change is in the combat. Whereas in Fairune you just bump into baddies, here you actually have to swipe your sword or loose your arrows or whatever.

kamiko

There are also Titan Souls-esque (but much easier to beat) bosses at the end of each level.

And that’s it. It cost me 30p, I’ve completed it as Sword Person, and I’m halfway through a run as Bow Person.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 7 (PS4): COMPLETED!

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Remember puzzles? I remember puzzles. I remember when adventure games had puzzles. I miss puzzled in adventure games. I’ve lamented this already on the previous episodes.

Episode 7’s story was a tale as old as time itself. Person builds computer, computer takes over the world, creator needs to stop it. Which mainly involved even more QTEs, and one section where there might be a puzzle only – yet again – you’re told how to solve it before you get a chance to attempt it yourself.

I’m repeating myself, I know.

Still, it was reasonably enjoyable. Just one more episode and then I’ll be done with the series. Phew, eh?

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 6 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Whodunnit? Who cares.

As this chapter opened with possibly the longest string of QTEs so far in the series, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Then we entered a spooky old mansion and it was the beginning of a murder mystery, and I thought – actually, this is sort of cool.

Then I realised the other visitors to the mansion were real life “Youtubers”. Good grief.

I get that the game isn’t aimed at me. I don’t know who these people are and in a way it doesn’t matter, but it irked me so much that they were in it. Thankfully, some of them were killed off. Sadly, some were not.

Their horrible voices. Do they put them on? Is it a requirement for being on Youtube? Surely they don’t sound like that in real life? How the hell do people watch them without taking a drill bit to their eardrums? Kids today, eh? I suppose the horror added to the atmosphere so there’s that at least.

One thing I must say here, though, is that although the voices are horrible, the actual voice acting itself is surprisingly good.

Anyway. Once more there were no puzzles. At some point it looked like you might need to think for yourself and decide to make a ladder, but then the game just tells you to make one anyway. Why? In another bit, you have to get a cat off a chest. You’re literally told to make a fishing rod (and shown how) and told to catch a fish (and told where to get one). It might as well do it for you.

Oh, and my daughter figured out who the bad guy was waaaaay before it was revealed.

That’s that done now. Two episodes left.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 5 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Castles in the sky.

Well, this episode improved on the previous one somewhat. Sure, it was more QTEs and terrible fighting, but the story (a mostly standalone one, rather than a continuation of the previous one) was OK. It was funnier than the other episodes too, which helped.

The chicken was great, and although cliché I did like the Fight Club references. Not sure why Ivor has gone from Bringer of Evil to the comedy character though.

Anyway, with that done the setup for the next (and presumably further) episodes appears to be Sliders. As in the TV show, rather than little hamburgers.