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!

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.

Lego Dimensions: Ghostbusters (PS4): COMPLETED!

Who do you expect you should likely telephone?

No, not the new film and the (much longer) level pack: this is the original one with Bill Murray in. As with other level packs, this takes an abridged look at the source material. There’s the fight with Slimer in the hotel, some stuff in the streets of New York, and then the face-off with Gozer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

ghostbusters

The only Ghostbuster available (at least, unless you can unlock more in other packs?) is Venkmann, and there are very few places elsewhere in the level where you need to use other characters. In fact, I didn’t even put Batman on the portal. The Ecto-1 physical model is great, even if it doesn’t offer anything you can’t already do with the Batmobile, but the ghost trap does something new: You collect ghosts with Venkmann’s proton pack and then “steer” them into the trap. Just like in the film!

It’s full of audio straight from the source, and there are some funny additions.

Current status: Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

 

Lifeline: Whiteout (iOS): COMPLETED!

No, no Richard Hammond. That’s something else.

Rarely, I play games on my telephone. I used to a lot, back when I got my iPhone 3GS, but these days? Nope. There might well be some good telephone games on the App Store but without recommendations who knows? There’s so much tripe to work through. And, since most people I know, follow, etc. don’t play telephone games either, it’s hard to come across good stuff. Yes, there are sites that review them but I don’t believe them. I’ve had enough of “experts”.

lifeline: whiteoutAnyway. Some time ago I was pointed in the direction of Lifeline. It’s a text adventure with minimal, mostly choice based, interaction, and I not only bought it, but played and completed it. High praise indeed.

A few days ago, a sequel to Lifeline, Lifeline: Whiteout was free on the Fruit-Themed Telephone App Store and I downloaded it. And completed it.

Like before, the premise is that someone in trouble contacts you and asks for help. You don’t know them, they don’t know you, and in this case, they don’t know them either. You advise them where to go, what to do, things to avoid, and so on in a series of decisions. In the first game, the person you were helping was lost on a planet, but in Lifeline: Whiteout they’re stuck in some snowy tundra and require your help in order to 1) survive, and 2) figure out who they are.

As with the original, the story plays out in real time, over the course of about three real days. Some conversation happens, and then your guy goes off for a bit to carry out tasks, sleep, and stuff. When he’s finished, he sends your phone a notification he’d ready to chat again. It’s quite immersive. I can’t say too much about what actually happens as there lies spoilers aplenty, but there are a few grim moments.

It’s another good game, and I can recommend it even to other mobilegameophobes like myself.

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.