Sonic Mania (Switch)

Yes, this again. I’ve now completed it with Sonic and that Idiot Fox together, with all the Chaos Emeralds.

That is all.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

Miles better.

That’s the game completed with Tails and all the Chaos Emeralds now. During the process of doing this I also managed to get all the Gold medals on the Blue Spheres bonus levels.

Which means the only thing I have left is a run through with Sonic and Tails together! Not really looking forward to that. Tails on his own is tolerable, but when he’s following Sonic round he has a tendency to kill you.

Lego City Undercover (Switch)

Chase me.

After 48 hours (that’s about 17 hours less than on the Wii U), my daughter and I have 100%ed it.

It was excellent. Certainly, it crashed quite a bit. And there were the usual bugs and things which meant getting stuck or having to redo levels, but it was a lot of fun, especially now it can be played with two players.

I did wonder if we’d come across the most frustrating of all bugs when we got to 99.9% complete and had nothing left to do. The stats show we had all the red bricks, gold bricks, characters, levels, and vehicles. Thankfully, I realised that helicopters (and the like) aren’t included as vehicles on the main list, and we’d collected but forgotten to buy one. Phew!

Persona 4 Golden (Vita): COMPLETED!

Someone finish it off!

I did wonder, three years ago when I bought Persona 4 Golden, whether I’d ever end up completing it. It was on the Vita, which I didn’t play. Supposedly it was a hundred hours long. It felt, some 15 hours in, like I was still in the tutorial. There were so many other games.

It fell by the wayside, despite me enjoying it. Then, around four months ago, I went back. I could have started from the beginning again, and perhaps, with hindsight, maybe I should have done, but after one hundred hours I’d completed it. Persona 4 Golden was great.

Persona 4 Golden

When I’d paused on it way back when, I was struggling to comprehend the Persona system. I wasn’t really enjoying the pressure to save people from the fog before the days ran out. Building social links seemed unimportant and there were better things I should be spending my time doing. How wrong I was.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Wii U game Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE gave me a better understanding. It’s the same sort of game (in fact, it’s a spin off of the same core series Persona is), but with everything simplified. Not easier, just less complicated. This worked in my favour – easing me into the Persona way of doing things. Going back to Persona 4 Golden with this knowledge let me concentrate on the differences, and I took to the Social Links properly, soon reaping the benefits.

The core game is pretty standard JRPG faire. Wander dungeons, fight baddies in turn based and element-sensitive combat. Level up. Fight harder baddies. And so on. If this was all of the game, it’d be pretty uninteresting, but the the interactions between dungeons add several layers to it. Not just story, but interest, secrets and humour. The characters are wonderful and full of depth, especially those who open up as you advance your relationship with them.

Speaking of relationships, it seems that most of the girls in the game can become romantically linked to you. Quite early on your mate Yosuke quizzes you on whether you prefer quiet and clever Yokiko or tomboyish but shy Chie. I picked Chie, and although you don’t actively pursue anyone, some time later my dialogue choices netted me her as a girlfriend. Which was great, until I decided to hug Rise because she was crying (the alternative was literally to stand there and watch) and suddenly I was a two-timing tart. Oops.

Over the course of a year (in the game), your team expands as you rescue more people from the fog. Teddie, Kanji and Naoto are added to your dungeoning party, although I never really bothered to enlist them. As time progresses you close in on who is responsible for the kidnappings and deaths although naturally, the obvious culprit isn’t to blame. In fact, nor are several other people, including three who actually confess. There are a number of endings, presumably bad if you miss the real villain.

I avoided some because I’d already realised that the obvious ending wasn’t the true ending, and then stumbled past another false accusation: There are a number of dialogue options you need to choose and luckily I picked the right ones to progress. I’d also been tipped off that I’d need to max out Marie’s Social Link, so having managed all that the final dungeon was revealed and upon completion, the true ending.

Or so I thought. Until I was corrected on Twitter and it seems I’d missed a further revelation. A reload, a careful conversation with everyone and an exploration of everywhere, and finally, the final final dungeon. And the Real True Ending Honest This Time No Really.

Persona 4 Golden feels like a teen drama mixed with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Love Hina, and Eerie Indiana. It’s emotional, surprising, with tonnes of firepower. Funzo, in game form. At times, it’s confusing. Or it’s addictive, stressful, funny and disappointing. Not being able to complete your planned dates, book reads, shopping or cinema trips because you’re panicking you have to kill some demons in time can annoy you, because who wants time management and a diary in a game? Eventually I realised that there’s time for most things, and getting The Important Stuff Done isn’t too hard. It’s an incredible game.

Now I don’t know what to do. Four solid months of Persona is a lot to give up. There’s New Game+ of course, but that’s not really more Persona. There’s Persona 5, but that’s not on a portable console so wouldn’t get half the attention this did. I’m tempted to go back to Tokyo Mirage, but then I look at the backlog of titles 100 hours of Persona caused, so who knows.

Data Wing (iOS): COMPLETED!

Winging it.

I’ve mentioned before, but I don’t often play games on my phone. Sometimes, though, one comes to my attention. Like Data Wing did.

Data Wing feels like a cross between Super Sprint, Thrust and escapeVector. You control a dart shaped object – supposedly a data carrier in a computer system – by pressing the left or right of the screen to steer. Simple controls, so workable on a touch screen!


Levels vary between reaching the exit in a fast enough time, racing other darts, finding keys, navigating through heavy gravity, and so on. Skimming the walls with your dart increases your speed, and some areas boost you, slow you down, or  strip you of control temporarily.

There’s a story about a process in the computer, Mother, wanting to use you to become a real human, and a possibly reformed malware entity who suspects Mother might not be all she appears. You can also collect files that contain message fragments from the computer’s owner, revealing another story there.

Data Wing is a simple, short but excellently executed and fun little flying/racing title. And current, it is totally free. Free! Not even any adverts or anything. Amazing.

Guitar Hero Live (PS4): COMPLETED!

Gitaroo Man

As in, the main mode completed. As in, all the tracks unlocked, played and finished in each of the festival sets.

Things that I liked about this version of Guitar Hero: The new fret button layout is actually better than the old one.

Things that I didn’t like about this version of Guitar Hero: Most of the other stuff.

The tracklist is terrible. Yes, GHTV sort of makes up for it with it’s constant stream of mostly poor quality (and wrong aspect ratio) music videos, but even the music catalogue here isn’t a patch on previous games in the series. There are some big names – but not their best, biggest, most guitar-y tracks. It’s very disappointing.

Also, in GHTV mode, the controls seem to be very unresponsive. I didn’t have a single issue in Live mode (the “story” mode), but strums often failed to register on GHTV. The guitar completely disconnected once!

It only cost me £15 so I’m not too bothered by all the negatives, and there’s enough good in it to make it worth that much anyway.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

With all the Chaos Emeralds collected, I ran through the rest of the levels and faced the true final boss. Or rather, bosses. One of them appeared to be Big the Cat in power armour.

And I beat them.

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.