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

Big Girls Don’t Cry

And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.

It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.

Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.

After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.

And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.

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

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!

The Battle Cats POP! (3DS): COMPLETED!

I for one welcome our feline overlords.

Well that was very easy. An abundance of cat food meant I could easily max out all my cat character classes, pay for items to ensure I always got treasure on each level, and use that treasure to make myself even more powerful.

battle cats

It was so easy I barely even took damage on my base for the entire game. I used the “Cat God” special power just once, and that was only to see what it did. I suffered a single defeat, due to forgetting to pause the game when I put it down for a few minutes.

All that said, it was pretty good fun. I’m still baffled as to why the “game delay” stuff remains when there aren’t any IAPs to bypass it, but it didn’t affect me in the end.

battle cats

The Battle Cats POP! (3DS)

Welcome to Cat Facts

A fun little game, in the same vein as Swords and Soldiers only simplified and with cats. You generate money, and spend it on soldier cats (the Battle Cats of the title, I assume) of various kinds, who walk left to the enemy base. At the same time, the enemy are sending baddies over to your base. So they fight.

You gain XP each battle, and use it to unlock new cats and power up your soldiers  and base. You also get cat food, which acts as a sort of in-game currency, and can use it to buy things like more XP.

Nice as the game is, though, this cat food has all the smell of those evil In App Purchases that games like this are so fond of. You see, each level you play depletes an energy counter. When it runs out, you have to wait so many minutes or hours for it to refill, or, you can “spend” some cat food to do it now. Thing is, you can’t do the normal IAP thing of buying cat food with real money (not that I would ever do such a thing anyway), defeating the purpose of having it. As a result, you literally have to just wait to play for no reason at all. Which kills the game a bit.

Other than that, The Battle Cats POP! is cute and addictive. And the only thing other than Zelda that I’ve played in the last week.

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!

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I’ve got eight Z-Crystals now, having just beaten Sophocles and the electricity totem. I thought Ground moves were super effective against Electricity type Pokémon? Mine certainly weren’t, rendering my sexy Dugtrio mostly useless. Fire seemed to be the way to go, for some reason!

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

Alola Pokédex 25% complete.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

That’s the fire captain in the volcano beaten. Pretty bizarre that was, all the dancing and stuff. And the hiker photobombing.

And I’ve discovered Poké Pelego, which is weird and addictive. Combined with also being addicted now to the Festival Plaza which I previously rubbished, I’m concerned I may never complete the main game.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

16 hours in already! I’m on the second island, and have just taken part in the four-way battle with Hau, Gladion and absolutely not the Professor in luchador gear.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in the Festival Plaza, which is a bit weird but oddly addictive.

Off to Route 7 now, to meet the captain who lives in a volcano. Uh huh.

Box Box Boy! (3DS): COMPLETED!

Boxy Boxy Boxy Boxy Boxy Boxy Boy-ee

It’s Box Boy! again! Only this time, you have two lots of boxes you can play with at once!

box box boy

It looks the same, it plays almost the same, and the hazards and gimmicks will be immediately familiar if you’ve played the original game, but because you can now spawn two box chains, the solutions are more abstract and many tricks are now open to you. Such as being able to create a tall block with one chain, then “hook” onto it with your other chain and pull yourself up. Same goes for spanning wider gaps, or generating a chain whilst riding another across a conveyor.

The simple aesthetic is just as great as it was before, and it was hard not to just continue playing the next level each time one was completed. The only down point is that I found it very, very easy. Of course, I’ve not done all of the harder levels that unlock after completing the game, nor have I even attempted Challenge Mode, so there’s bound to be more difficult puzzles there.

I can definitely recommend Box Box Boy! to fans of the original, or just those who like puzzley platformers. And it’s super cheap too!

Sonic Blast (3DS): COMPLETED!

Sanic

You know something? That Sonic Triple Trouble wasn’t so bad after all. You know what was bad? Sonic Blast on the Game Gear.

No, not Sonic 3D Blast – that’s a wholly different game, being in isometric and with Flickys to save and stuff. This is a standard Sonic platformer, or should I say, sub-standard. On paper it sounds great – platforming, Sonic, no Tails, 3D rendered graphics. However, the platforming is dire and the 3D rendered graphics are so low resolution they look terrible. Sonic has a giant head, appears to be permanently tilted out of the screen, and only two frames of animation.

He doesn’t seem right in the context of the levels. I’ve never been a big fan of the graphical style (and I’ve lamented before about how awful Super Mario Ball and Donkey Kong Country look too) but never before has it looked so ugly and jarring.

It isn’t just the graphics that I hate about the game though. The physics seem off too, and the levels are tiny. You get just one chance at each chaos emerald, and you have to hunt for the entrance to the emerald special stage in Act 2 of each level – it’s very easy to miss them completely. Luckily, the specially stages are incredibly easy despite the dreadful collision detection, due to how slowly Sonic runs. They are much like a cross between the Mega Drive Sonic 2 (into the screen, collect rings) and Sonic 3 (seems to be on a ball) special stages, but not as much fun.

sonic blast

The main levels are dull, and several seem to be watered down levels from Sonic & Knuckles – there’s a Sandopolis level (Yellow Desert Zone) and a Lava Reef Zone (Red Volcano Zone), but they’re sparsely populated and boring. If they were doing that I’d have hoped for a Super Sonic Space Chase like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles if I completed it with all the emeralds, but no – just a weak additional final boss.

sonic blast

In all, it feels like a Sonic game driven by having a new graphic style and written by some people who saw a Sonic game in a shop window once but have been given access to some of the assets. I’m glad I’ve played Sonic Blast, but only so I know not to ever again.