Lego Dimensions: Doctor Who (PS4): COMPLETED!

Doctor I’ve got this feelin’
Deep inside of me, deep inside of me
I just can’t control my feet
When I hear the beat, when I hear the beat

And the first completed game of the new year is this. It’s another Lego Dimensions level pack, but it’s another good one. There’s timehopping and the inside of the TARDIS and a trip to Trenzalore and a London bus gets blown up and Peter Capaldi is excellent.

doctor who
A TARDIS in a TARDIS. Of course!

You also get to build K9, and ride him while he fires lasers, which is pretty awesome too. So yes, well worth buying this particular expansion. To update my list, Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Back to the Future.

The Doctor Who hub world is excellent too, if somewhat buggy (there are a number of areas where the floor just lets you drop through). There’s time travelling there too, and each time The Doctor dies he regenerates, cycling through all twelve Doctors. Yes I know it’s technically thirteen, but The War Doctor isn’t an option. Anyway, this in itself is fantastic but even better is how the interior of the TARDIS changes to match the incarnation of The Doctor. That’s some attention to detail – sadly missing from the solid geometry of the hub world… And Missy is in it too! It’s the level pack that just keeps giving.

doctor who
Just look at it. LOOK. AT. IT.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have more levels packs to play. Ghostbusters (the original one) is here already, and Mission Impossible and Portal are both on the way.

No you have a problem.

I don’t know. How IS this possible?

Lego Dimensions: Midway Arcade (PS4): COMPLETED!

Wizard has eaten all the food lately.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much from this Level Pack. It seemed a little contrived and almost like Warner Bros was scraping around their big ol’ IP library for something a little different and came out with this. They haven’t even got a “known” character as the main figure in the set – he’s just “Gamer Kid”.

However, it turned out to be awesome.

midway arcade
Robotron 2084

The level itself, for the most part, is quite small and doesn’t have a great deal to do in it, but the hook is that you unlock a load of actual real emulated arcade machines as you play. Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, Joust, Super Sprint (which, bizarrely, suffers from horrible slowdown), Defender, Spy Hunter and Robotron 2084 to name a few. There’s also a Lego representation of Paperboy, in which the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz have stolen the newspapers. It’s fun.

Paperboy
Super Sprint
Super Sprint

The dimension hub is fantastic too, with references to Rampage, Toobin’, Vindicators, Badlands, 720, Gauntlet and all sorts.

I’ve a complete playthrough of the level here:

Lego Dimensions: The Simpsons (PS4): COMPLETED!

Yellow Peril

This self-contained level follows, more or less, the episode of The Simpsons with the chilli cook-off in it. So Homer has to get there, taste various chillis, then have his weird psychotic episode where there’s a coyote and a golf shop and the sun breaks. Then there’s a lighthouse.

the simpsons

You know the episode. Everyone knows the episode.

In Lego Dimensions, there are obviously changes and bits missing, but it’s pretty good regardless. For those keeping count so far:

Adventure Time > Simpsons > Back to the Future

Lego Dimensions: Adventure Time (PS4): COMPLETED!

C’mon grab your friends.

Another of the complete, almost but not quite standalone Lego Dimensions expansions finished!

Adventure Time was even better than the Back to the Future one – longer, more “fan service”, funny, and so on. There was a bug about two thirds of the way through which made the game crash each time I reached that bit, but aside from that it was excellent.

adventure time

I also loved the cel-shading effect on the graphics. It was also used in the Scooby Doo secton of the main Lego Dimensions story, but here – perhaps due to the colour palette being generally much brighter – it really stands out. At first it looks a little odd, but you soon get used to it.

I’ve a two-part complete playthrough here:

My daughter and I also played the Adventure Time hub world a bit too. That is also fantastic, not least because of Lemongrab, who makes an appearance. Also: toilets.

Lego Dimensions: Back to the Future (PS4): COMPLETED!

Brick to the Future?

Yes, this totally is being classed as a separate game. Why? Because it was a separate purchase, a separate story, and not even part of the main game. No I haven’t changed the rules – I’ve always stuck to this.

Sparsely following the plot of the first film – or at least, a handful of points from the first film – Marty McFly, his skateboard, and the DeLorean of Time smash Lego items while going back to 1955 and trying to return to 1985. Attempting to go back to the future, if you will.

As a fan of the film I was pleased with some of the inclusions and references, but disappointed the entire level, including time spent building the physical Lego models, was just 45 minutes long. There’s nothing in the game about Marty’s mum, no Under The Sea, and no Biff Tannen.

Still, I did enjoy it, and owning a Back to the Future character does mean I now have access to the Back to the Future hub world, which seems to have more content than the level did (including more than one time incarnation of Hill Valley), so that’s OK then!

And of course, I have a pile of gold bricks and minikits to return and collect.

Here’s my playthrough, if you’re interested:

Ultratron (Wii U): COMPLETED

Twin stick ’em up.

A couple of years back, I played and completed a game called Titan Attacks! on the Vita. At first it looked like a crap Space Invaders clone, but by the end I found I’d really enjoyed it.

ultratron

Ultratron, by the same people and seemingly set in the same universe, does for Robotron what Titan Attacks! did for Space Invaders. A neon, chunky twin-stick shooter with purchasable power-ups and upgrades, bosses, and particles everywhere.

And, just like before, what seemed like a poor copy of an arcade game from 30+ years ago turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s a bit mindless, and the amount of pixels flying around in the form of explosions, pickups and bullets can make it a little hard to see some of the time, but I happily completed it and then carried on playing some more.

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!

Lego Dimensions (PS4): COMPLETED!

Dimensions are a Lord’s best friend.

Completed Lego Dimensions, certainly. We’ve beaten the final boss and seen the credits. Yet we still have almost ONE THOUSAND gold bricks to accumulate and haven’t even used two of the Lego characters we bought.

Now, unlike most other Lego games, I can’t really discuss the content too much as Lego Dimensions has its own story rather than retell that of a film or something. It isn’t a fantastic story, but some of the levels may perhaps be spoilers if I went into a lot of detail. I will say, though, that it’s very funny. There are references, and cross-overs, that surprised and delighted me. One-liners, events, and “wrong character” comments like Batman quoting Ghostbusters or Lord Vortex (the big bad guy) claiming he’d have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t have been for you meddling kids.

lego dimensions

The game is huge too, as barely any levels came even close to completion and the “hub” hasn’t been touched at all yet. I wasn’t joking about the thousand gold bricks either.

Building the real-world Lego as part of the game turned out to be fun, and to some degree shuffling characters around on the portal is a nice extension to the standard Lego game formula. It does get a little annoying in some levels where puzzles require a lot of character swapping in addition to position swapping, but we (that is, my daughter and I) found moving the portal nearer the sofa helped there. Unfortunately, the cable is a couple of feet too short to sit it on the sofa between us, and with a USB extension cable the portal won’t respond half the time, but we coped.

Now we’re finished with the main story, I’ve a Sonic Level Pack to break out.

lego dimensions

Oh! And this turned out to be my 104th game completed this year! That’s two whole 52 Game Challenges! Woo!

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.

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered (PS4): COMPLETED!

Spellbound.

What a fun puzzle game this turned out to be. It was a free PS+ rental and I only really started it on a whim, but it ended up being actually quite enjoyable.

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I’ve still a fair amount left to do, in terms of side missions and collecting more stars, but the main levels are done and so is the story, such that it is (basically I got pizza, it seems).

Sonic Triple Trouble (3DS): COMPLETED!

Something’s come along and it’s burst our bubble.

When I started playing this (it was cheap on the eShop, in case you’re wondering), I was convinced I’d never played this before. I mean, why would I? It’s got Tails in.

sonic triple trouble

But then after a while it seemed awfully familiar. Especially the bit with the bouncy apple things. If only I kept a record of all the games I’d played somewhere. OH WAIT I DO. Yeah, nine years ago I played it on my PlayPal Game Gear clone emulation handheld device thing. Blimey. Nine years.

You’ll not be surprised to hear it hasn’t really improved since then. It’s not awful, but the cramped viewport makes the jumps hard and reaching some of the special stage TVs is a pain. On the plus side, unless you choose Tails as your character (and if you do, you need to be taken out and shot), he’s hardly in it.

Anyway, I completed it somewhat easily, with all the emeralds, and now I’m going to play Sonic Blast. Self-loathing as I am, see. Still, at least it isn’t Sonic Unleashed or something.

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium (NGPC): COMPLETED!

There’s a party tonight
Everybody was drinking
The house was screaming
And the bass was shaking

While I was in Neo Geo Pocket Colour Mode, I busted out SNK vs Capcom. The NGPC had a lot of fighting games, but perhaps the best was this crossover title featuring characters from both SNK and Capcom series.

snk vs capcom
I punch you.

I picked Ken, because Ken is Best, and quickly made it through as far as what I thought was the final boss battle – a team-up between M Bison from Street Fighter and Geese Howard from Fatal Fury. It was easy going until then, as I lost just one round (and that was close) before meeting that pair, then it all went wrong.

snk vs capcom
Fwends.

Several million attempts later, most of which ended before I’d even defeated one of the two fighters – and a few before I even got a single hit in – I finally beat them. Naturally, they were not the final bosses after all – Iori in full on Zombie mode was.

snk vs capcom
That’s a whole lot of nothing you’re saying there, boy.

Thankfully, he was a much easier than Bison and Geese, although he still took a fair few attempts, and I’d completed it!

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (NGPC): COMPLETED!

Over Eggmanning it.

It has been a long time since I played a Neo Geo Pocket game, but having figured out why they hadn’t been working on Retropie (games have to be .ngc files, if you’re interested) I got stuck into Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.

sonic the hedgehog pocket adventure
Hammer! Hammer! I am! Hammer! They put me in the mix!

I remember being slightly disappointed when I bought it for my Neo Geo Pocket Colour back in the day. There I was expecting a new 2D Sonic platformer, perhaps a 2D version of the excellent Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. After all, it shares the same art style as that title, on the menus and box and stuff. Instead, what I got was a rehash of the Mega Drive version of Sonic 2.

As it turned out, that was awesome.

And it still is. Certainly, each level looks like a level from Sonic 2 – there’s your Emerald Hill zone, and your Aquatic Ruin zone, and your Metropolis Zone, but for the most part the levels have different layouts. They also all have new bosses, and Knuckles makes an appearance too.

"Knuckles you eediot!"
“Knuckles you eediot!”

There are reworked versions of the music from several different Sonic games, not just the second one, and the final stage more like the end of Sonic 3 and Knuckles than Sonic 2. Add to all this the hidden puzzle pieces hidden round the levels which you can collect and complete, and you can see why I loved it so much all them years ago. I think, bar remakes of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure might be my favourite handheld Sonic title too.

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Oh, and yes – I got all the Chaos Emeralds. I totally forgot the final one though, and had to redo the end boss to get it! That unlocked the final, final stage, which I also finished. Phew.

Super Fantasy Zone (MD): COMPLETED!

Run out of straplines for Fantasy Zone games, sorry.

More Fantasy Zone! Only this time, Super Fantasy Zone! Yes, it’s more of the same, but that is no bad thing at all. It is most similar to the arcade version of Fantasy Zone II, sharing a handful of baddies and of course a similar level of graphical fanciness.

super fantasy zone
Paint the whole world with a Rainbow!

Oddly, there are no permanent “gun” power-ups, unlike all the other games, and since the temporary ones run out so quickly they’re mostly useless: You’d benefit most from being able to use them on bosses, but of course they expire well before you make it that far.

super fantasy zone
Shop ’til you drop.

One of the permanent “bomb” upgrades effectively makes the entire game a walkover too – the four-shot homing missiles. Constantly firing it invariably wipes out all the stray enemies, leaving you just the bases to destroy. These missiles also work on most of the bosses, allowing you to concentrate on avoiding their attacks while it automatically kills them for you.

In the dark, dark night
In the dark, dark night…

So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games (I didn’t mention, but money is no object in this one either), but it is still a lot of fun. I particularly liked both the nods to Space Harrier in the final boss rush, and lots of bosses from previous games in the background. Easter eggs!

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PS4): COMPLETED!

Bang bang club AK 47 hour

Like many Narrative Discovery games, it’s hard to talk about Ethan Carter without spoiling the only real thing it contains – the story. Unlike most, though, it does have a few puzzles. Sort of. I can’t really say any more about what actually happens.

You’re a psychic detective summoned to a sleepy village by a little boy – Ethan Carter – who wants you to figure out what’s going on. A creature of some sort, The Sleeper, has been awakened and strange doings have being happening. That’s spooky enough, but soon after you arrive you realise things aren’t quite what they seem. And then, you find that the second thing you thought was the truth isn’t quite what it seems either.

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It’s a beautiful looking game, slightly scary in parts, and just plain bizarre in others. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, part puzzle game, Ethan Carter is pretty unique, even amongst titles of its genre. Well worth playing.