Doshin the Giant (GC)

No, that’s his belly button.

I’ve been playing this a lot over the last few days. It’s not perfect. From the outside it looks like a tedious tree moving game, and there’s not actually much more to it than that, but it has a hook.

Part of it is “growing”. At the start of each day, Doshin returns to his normal size, which means he can’t pick up certain things and flattens ground and walks slowly. Making the little people live (or alternatively, hate) him enough makes him grow, and therefore do more stuff more quickly.

doshinThe ultimate aim is to get all the little people to build every variation of monument they can. You do this by helping them expand their villages (provide them with trees and flat land, mainly), and if you populate them with the right colours of tribes, they create a statue. One of the statues looks like a poo.

So far, I’ve managed to coax them into creating 8 or 9 of the 16 or so required monuments.

Monster Loves You! (PC): COMPLETED!

Monster in my spawn pit

Uh. I’m really not sure what to make of this game. It was pretty funny, so there’s that. The story was unusual, following the decisions you make on your life’s journey from tiny swimming lifeform to fully grown monster, but there wasn’t a lot to it.

monster loves you

The closest game to it, that I’ve played in recent years at least, is Hatoful Boyfriend. There’s the similar story-and-multiple-choice-reaction thing going on, and the many ending resulting from this. Most choices affect one of each of your monster’s stats: Ferocity, Kindness, Cleverness, etc., and the events involve interactions (and possible consumption of) cats, children, other monsters, and so on.

At the end, you’re tested to see if you can ascend to become a monster elder, or whether you’re destined to dissolve and become one with the spawning pool for a new generation of monsters. I ended up with the latter.

monster loves you

Lumo (PS4): COMPLETED!

A wizard’s staff has a knob on the end.

Lumo is how you remember old Spectrum isometric games played. You know the ones, like Batman and Head over Heels and Knightlore. Only you remember wrong. Because although we all loved them back then, they were a pig to control and the hardest things ever.

Take the idea of these games, and view them through a rose-tinted lens, and you have Lumo. It both pays homage to, and lampoons, the 8-bit isometric arcade adventure genre.

lumo

You begin in “the real world”, visiting a small-time retro gaming event. One of the machines on display malfunctions, and you’re sucked into a world where you’ve become a super-deformed wizard and electrified floors and hidden cassette tapes are the order of the day. You move from room to room, overcoming platforming challenges or puzzles, collecting four artefacts. Collect them all and you just might return home.

Where Lumo succeeds is in evoking the feeling of those old games. Not just in the viewpoint, but in the sort of objects, room layouts and traps you encounter. Several rooms are almost carbon copies of classic ones, triggering the retro glands. Some rooms contain more front-and-centre references, literally including sprites or screenshots. There are nods to 80s computer games and UK gaming culture of the time everywhere. In one section, you ride a lift and the music playing is Your Sinclair’s very own Whistlin’ Rick Wilson and his classic “Hold My Hand Very Tightly (Very Tightly)”. They played it on Radio 1 once, you know.

Sometimes the game will deviate from the Ritman/Drummond/Ultimate template into other areas. There’s a minecart section, and several bonus areas that ape Ballblazer, Zaxxon, Horace Goes Skiing and Nebulus amongst others. Some of these work well in isometric, some (*cough* Horace *cough*) do not.

Lumo

Where Lumo performs less well is mainly due to this 45 degree viewpoint. Also a complaint with many of the classic titles, seeing where you are in space relevant to platforms you need to land on can be a struggle. One particular section in a later area of the game has you navigating a bubble between spikes, and it’s near impossible to determine where it will actually pass. Failing a screen because your pixel-perfect jumping isn’t up to scratch is one thing, but because it looks like the landing area is in front of you when it’s actually up in the sky several squares away? Not great.

Thankfully, and unlike isometric titles of yore (unless you cheated!), infinite lives help stave off throwing your gaming device through a window. Some of the more tricky, long, or “perspectively challenged” areas still cause the red mist after several dozen deaths, but these are rare.

It’s definitely a game aimed at 80s Speccy kids, and is worth playing for the nostalgia if nothing else. In itself it’s pretty decent too. It may lack a little polish perhaps. And maybe a few rooms should have been tweaked to reduce the viewpoint issues a tad, but there’s a lot to like here anyway. Oh, just one more thing: Make sure you install the update before you play. There are nasty save game bugs otherwise!

lumo

Bioshock Infinite (PC): COMPLETED!

Them being “Tears” is funny because one of them has Tears for Fears playing in it.

Warning: here be Bioshock Infinite spoilers. Read not further if you wish to remain in the dark about the plot and ting.

Those OK with spoilers, proceed.

Bioshock Infinite

Remember in the first Bioshock game when that “Would You Kindly” reveal made you go woahhhhh? Bioshock Infinite doesn’t have that. Not to the same degree, anyway. Part of the reason is that the backstory and twists, if you could call them that, are drip-fed to you in mainly in the form of audiologs supplemented by the odd happenings regarding tears you come across and some seemingly out of place dialogue here and there.

The first suggestions that things aren’t what they seem come about in the form of music, where a barber shop quartet stops by to sing some Beach Boys, and a brass band strike up with an instrumental version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Not in keeping with the 1912 setting. Coupled with Elizabeth’s ability to open tears – one of which shows Paris in the 1980s – it becomes obvious some sort of time and/or dimension jumping occurs and technology (like many of the guns) and music are pulled through.

Bioshock Infinite

Later, you jump to alternate realities yourself, with Elizabeth’s help. With exposition from the “twin” Lutece scientists the game essentially becomes an series of episodes of Sliders.

So what I have pieced together, is this: DeWitt has a baby daughter, which he gives up to pay off his debts. He forgets about this, however, although part of him remembers her – Anna – died, or was lost, or something. The baby is given to Comstock, who is the “prophet” who creates the flying city of Columbia, and grows up to become Elizabeth, the daughter of the prophet.

Bioshock Infinite

Now, other places no doubt have a full breakdown of everything, but ultimately (in my ending, anyway), it is revealed that DeWitt is Comstock. Rosalind Lutece and her other-reality “brother” Robert have made Anna/Elizabeth into a conduit between realities, and they are able to travel freely between realities to further their aims. The city flies based on one of their experiments too: An audiolog from Rosalind says she made an atom levitate, and if not an atom, why not something bigger – like a city. In fact, it doesn’t levitate. It just doesn’t fall. Erm.

Confused yet? Well, what about when Elizabeth opens up a door into Rapture? Here is the killer line. No, not DeWitt’s “A city under the ocean? Ridiculous” which was funny. The other line, from Elizabeth: “There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s always a city.” BOOM.

Bioshock Infinite

That’s right. My reading of this, is that Rapture is just another reality’s Columbia. Andrew Ryan is just another reality’s Zachary Comstock. The reason the whole game felt like the same damn story in a different place, is because it was the same damn story in a different place.

Woahhhhh.

There’s more to it all than this, including who was from which reality, but that’s my take on it. Other places explain more. Once you know DeWitt is Comstock, some things make more sense too. Slate, for instance, is incensed that Comstock proclaims he was at the Battle of Wounded Knee. He says he was not, and DeWitt (who was there) agrees. But since DeWitt is Comstock, it makes sense.

Anyway. That’s the plot. What about the game?

Bioshock Infinite

I’ll put it this way: Bioshock Infinite is a great story punctuated with pointless, annoying combat sections. The wonderful trap-setting from Bioshock 2? Gone. What remains are horrible skyrail-heavy fights, mostly useless “vigours”, and never enough ammo. Honestly, I think Bioshock Infinite would have worked much better as a straight narrative discovery game.

Still, I did enjoy it overall and will look out for the DLC being on offer.

Grow Up (PS4): COMPLETED!

And the award for most phallic flora goes to…

grow up Just a brief thing about Grow Up here. It’s good, it’s not as good as the original (Grow Home), and I enjoyed it.

OK, perhaps a little more than that. The premise is slightly different to the first game. You now have to find the parts of M.O.M. (literally your mothership) scattered around the planet. There is more than one Star Plant. The onus is more on jumping and (later) gliding from place to place. For some reason the game pauses sometimes when you collect things or land. It’s very pretty. The strange animals are cute. You can still drown them while they look at you with disappointment.

Despite the game, there’s less growing up than in Grow Home. Instead, you have to scale multiple heights rather than one main one. Each feels less high, and although you ultimately reach the moon, it doesn’t seem nearly as high up as in the first game.

Still, as I said, it was fun, the skies were blue, and I very much enjoyed it. 100%ing it, by doing all the challenges and finding (or rather, stumbling across) all the crystals though? Nah, y’aight.

Bioshock Infinite (PC)

To infinity, and, well, there’s nothing past infinity.

Finally, after much configuring and tweaking and getting a wireless adaptor for the 360 controller, I managed to get my Steam Link working both reliably and without cables all across the lounge. Which means, in my mind, I now have a new games console and an instant library of hundreds of games I’ve collected over the years and barely played.

Bioshock Infinite is one I picked up ages ago, probably in a Humble Bundle (that’s where most of my games come from), but was still on the lookout for a 360 or PS4 version to play on my telly. Now, I don’t need to!

bioshock infinite
Not creepy at all. Uh uh.

I’ve played about 4 hours of it so far, working my way through Columbia, rescuing Elizabeth, taking photos of toilets, that sort of thing. It looks very pretty, especially since I realised my iMac can handle running the game on the highest possible graphical settings, with blue skies and stuff, but there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on that’s missing from the game.

It’s all a bit linear so far, with “free roaming” only bolted on for those who wish to explore. There’s quite a bit to explore, but the rewards are pretty poor. The “vigours” I’ve collected up to now are pretty dull – one is a grenade, essentially, and is useful, but the other two are very underpowered. “Murder of Crows” seems to do little but distract, and the possession vigour isn’t a patch on the berserk darts from Assassin’s Creed.

These are negative points, but minor in the scheme of things. I don’t know what is making it feel a bit poor, but hopefully things will improve and it’ll go away?

bioshock infinite
Everybody’s dead, Dave

Another observation about Bioshock Infinite is that it isn’t Dishonoured. I remarked when I played that game that it felt a lot like Bioshock, and the world of Bioshock Infinite feels a lot like that of Dishonoured. So far, Bethesda’s game is the better of the two despite coming an year earlier. We’ll see.

As for where I am – I’m just working through Soldier’s Field. It’s been very easy until now. Does it get harder?

bioshock infinite
“He’s on fire!”

Oh! And I think I’ve figured out why they exist already, and why The Prophet can “see” the future, but hearing the barbershop quartet singing Gold Only Knows by the Beach Boys, and a brass band playing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, when the game is set in 1912, was a little… awesome. And confusing. The way it just permeates your subconscious and you realise what you’re listening to. That bit where Tears for Fears plays though – that pretty much explains it.

Lego Dimensions: Portal 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Now you’re playing with Portals

After a short hiatus while I finished off a few 3DS games, my daughter and I got back on Lego Dimensions and ran through the Portal 2 level.

It was good! Full of Cave Johnson, some nice Portal 2 puzzles (including the blue bouncy gel and the orange accelerating gel), and of course, it was pretty funny too. I’m not sure the game considered just how easy it was to skip massive sections with a flying vehicle, such as the Cloud Cuckoo Car, as two large areas we missed almost entirely, but that doesn’t really matter.

lego dimensions portal 2

The hub world is decent too, with plenty of referenced – you have to grow the potato, for example. And the shed from the end of the first Portal game is there too, as is Chell’s “room”, complete with toilet. Toilets are important.

We’ve just the one level pack remaining now – Mission Impossible.

Oh! And before I go, you’ll be wanting an updated List, right?

Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Portal 2 > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

There you go!

Viscera Cleanup Detail (PC)

Am I missing something, or is it really this dull and tedious? Funny as it might appear, dragging bits of carcass around and using the worst mop ever is actually dire.

Putting stuff in stuff is an excercise in futility since the controls and physics combine to make every manual handling action catastrophically imprecise. No sooner have you put a leg in a biowaste bucket, you’re cleaning up as it flails comically, spewing blood everywhere and leaving you back at square one.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PS4): COMPLETED!

Set framerates to unfh

Shooting a billion giant insects whilst simultaneously avoiding the purple chaos spewing forth from massive robots, all the time contending with framerate issues not seen since the days of playing NES emulators on P100 CPUs, never gets old.

earth defense force

Certainly, for the most part, little has changed from previous EDF games. A few new enemy types, slightly different level layouts, and probably some new weapons. Oh, and some new – but currently unused – character classes. That doesn’t matter.

No, there’s something just so good about these games. Low budget, terrible slowdown, mostly unimpressive graphics, and the worst voice acting in living memory, but none of it matters. In fact, it could be argued that some of these outcomes were entirely planned. Whatever, I’ve completed it now and it was a lot of fun.

earth defense force

Pokémon Sun (3DS): COMPLETED!

I am best at cockfighting

That was excellent! Quite a different game to Pokémon Y, although not in the way it is sold: No gyms! No gym leaders! No HMs! No, except trials are almost exact replacements for gyms, captains are virtually the same as gym leaders, and the Ride Pager replaces HMs. Net difference, almost zero.

What’s actually different is how the UI has been improved, with tweaks like being able to immediately put a caught Pokémon in your party. And the streamlined box management, simpler local trading, being able to see move effectiveness (against Pokémon you’ve already fought or have caught) – stuff like that.

Mega Evolutions are gone again, but Z-Moves are really pretty similar replacements. All of the PSS has sadly been stripped out and although the system that is here as an alternative (a mix of the Festival Plaza and Poképelego) is good, it lacks the always-on abilities, Streetpass, and the online web-based games you can play outside of the main game. Since the full announcement of the Nintendo Switch – which doesn’t have Streetpass, but does have a version of Pokémon Sun/Moon coming for it – it’s perhaps clear why this is the case. Anyway. The new features are great for levelling up a load of Pokémon at once so it gets a pass.

As for the game itself, 66 hours is a lot. Not far off twice how long it took to complete Y, in fact, and I’ve not even started the post-game content. I assume there is some (other than just filling the Pokédex), anyway.

SteamWorld Heist (3DS): COMPLETED!

Heist to see you, to see you…

The final third of the game was mostly about voltbots, who had various powers like lasers, teleportation, and cloning. Oh, and shield orb things that hovered near them and had to be destroyed before you could damage the voltbots.

With three of my steambots up to level 9, the final level, with the end boss in it, was actually a walkover. Sure, he kept respawning shield orbs, and magically making other voltbots appear, but provided I stayed away from the lasers (you get a move to, er, move), it was simple. I only took two hits, and one of them was friendly fire!

Completing the game took just over 12 hours, although I do have a few more stars to collect, and I haven’t played many missions in higher difficulties than “regular”. And I’ve New Game+ to get stuck into now too, so still plenty to get on with!

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I have reached Po Town! Which is a bit grim. Imagine Team Skull were secretly evil Inklings, and it rained all the time. That’s Po Town – dark, covered in paint splatters, and a bit wet.

You even have to pay a dodgy lady who definitely is not Nurse Joy $10 to heal your pokémon! Pff.

SteamWorld Heist (3DS)

In space, no one can hear you rust.

Imagine, if you will, a cross between Worms and X-Com. Only instead of worms and space soldiers, you have steambots, of the sort found in SteamWorld Dig. That’s SteamWorld Heist: A 2D, side-on, turn-based tactical shooter strategy game. And I really should have bought and played it months ago because it is excellent.

steamworld heist

Each level involves you and a few steambots, each with different abilities, entering a ship and taking out the bad robots within. These abilities include being able to wield weapons from various classes, move further each turn, and so on. More abilities unlock as you play, increasing your health, adding secondary shooting modes, or giving you higher critical rates or steadying your aim.

The evil robots are similarly varied, and coupled with fixed gun turrets, exploding red barrels, flammable goo, orbs that provide shielding, and baddie-dispensing spawn points, the levels are pretty diverse. There are boss fights too, with some huge metal goons that, naturally, have way more energy and some unique skills and attacks.

steamworld heist

All these things are great enough on their own, but the game is taken to even higher echelons of awesomeness through the graphic style, the humour, and the levelling system. You’re rewarded for grabbing all the loot stashed around during each mission (in fact doing so is more important than offing the bots), and most levels net you an improved weapon. With each level having a possible score of three or four stars, and you can only obtain all of them by 1) not dying, 2) getting all the loot, and 3) completing the objectives, there’s replayability here too. Even more so when you realise that you can attempt any mission again only on a harder setting to boost the XP bonuses.

steamworld heist

I’ve loved every minute so far, and as I’m just over 2/3rds of the way through (I’m guessing, based on Events In The Game That Would Be Classed As Spoilers), with most stars obtained so far, I’m slightly saddened to think it might all be over sooner rather than later. But wait! There’s DLC! Yay!

Mr. Pumpkin Adventure (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Pumpking of the world!

As this was very cheap in a sale before Christmas, and looked very much like Machinarium would do if drawn by the Links Der Isar chaps.

It’s a point and click puzzle adventure game, with some abstract puzzles, some obvious puzzles, and some multi-part what the hell am I supposed to do here puzzles. Mr. Pumpkin Adventure follows Mr. Pumpkin as he wakes up with amnesia, and has to figure out who he is and why he can’t remember anything. The outcome is very much The Matrix, almost literally, and there are sci-fi references all over the place on the way.

mr. pumpkin adventure

And a giant octopus that wants a Wario hat. Erm.

Look, I’m not doing a very good job of explaining the game because there’s no decent way of doing so. I’ll say this instead: if you liked Machinarium or other, similar games, you’ll love this. It took two or three hours to complete, and was definitely worth the quid or so it cost me.

Lego Dimensions: Sonic the Hedgehog (PS4): COMPLETED!

Toot Toot Plastic Warrior

After a few false starts a few weeks back, where we were unable to progress past Metropolis Zone due to a bug that prevented Eggman from appearing, we had a bug-free playthrough today which allowed us to finish it. And let me say this: it’s bloody awesome.

Visiting Lego versions of Green Hill Zone, Metropolis Zone, the beach from Sonic Adventure, Sonic 2’s Special Stages, Marble Zone and (Sonic’s least favourite) Labyrinth Zone – as well as Chaos appearing – it does a better job of celebrating the Sonic series than Sonic Generations ever did.

sonic the hedgehog

It’s genuinely funny too. Gollum appears at one point, looking for gold rings. Eggman says “Get a load of this!”. Omachao chaosplains how to play (“Fire is hot!”, “Pushing blocks makes them move!”), it’s filled to the brim with egg puns, Amy the Overly Attached Girlfriend, and so on.

The hub world for Sonic is pretty good too, with areas based on Ice Cap, Carnival Night, Sandopolis Zone, and others. There’s even a snowboarding section, and Sonic quotes lines from some of the songs in his games!

It’s funny to think that Traveller’s Tales, who are part of TT Games, who make the Lego titles, actually made Sonic games in the distant past – Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R were theirs.

And of course, you want to know how this expansion compares to the others, right? Well: Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

Yep. It’s the best. Here’s my playthrough, in case you don’t believe me.