Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

And yet another Lego game beaten. This one was pretty good fun, focussing mainly on Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy and a lot of less well known heroes (and foes). The plot is stupid and has Kang taking various different Marvel locations, universes and time zones and creating Chronopolis by smashing them all together.

What that means is there’s a lot of variety in the levels, with some really geeky references to the comics. Other than that, there’s the whole of Chronopolis to wander round just as you could Manhattan in the original game, with a daunting number of gold bricks to find.

Not sure what else there is to say. There’s little new in the game, but that has never mattered before. The graphics have that same odd light sourcing that Lego Ninjago The Movie also did making some levels very dark and others look a bit strange, but it’s not as bad here as it was there. I wonder if it’s only the way the engine runs on the Switch? Or that I’m only playing in 720p? Who knows.

Anyway, done.

The Count Lucanor (Switch): COMPLETED!

One stealth section too many – ah ha ha! Two stealth sections too many – ah ha ha! etc.

I’d been eying this up for a while and it being on sale right now twisted my arm. And, well. it’s not as good as I hoped.

To be fair, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. It looked like a more puzzle based Zelda type game, when in fact there are very few puzzles and instead it’s a talk-to-people game with some annoying stealth sections.

Now, I dislike stealth sections at the best of times, but these are made worst by the random nature of the creatures you have to hide from and get past. Sometimes they see you. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they wander aimlessly, in circles or into corners where they seem to get stuck. It’s like there’s no pathfinding AI at all.

That aside, the rest of the game is fine. It’s a Grimm style fairytale of a 10 year old boy who leaves home to find his fortune, ends up in a cursed castle, and has to find the name of a weird kobold by solving rooms to obtain the letters and then put them in the right order.

There’s a wonderfully bizarre collection of characters, like a man who is a pig and a goatherder who is decapitated by his own bloodthirsty goats, but the main gameplay is hide and seek and far too simple item manipulation so the quality isn’t consistent.

It’s a shame. It looks great, and the whispering of the “servants” who try to grab you is superbly creepy, but half the game wasn’t really for me. There are multiple endings, of which I think I’ve seen the best two, but I won’t be returning for the others.

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash (3DS): COMPLETED!

Bite his shiny metal IAPs

Although I went into this knowing it wasn’t a true Chibi-Robo game, I had to buy it because it was cheap and came with a Chibi-Robo Amiibo and actually, it was pretty good when I played the demo. That was a while back though. Not sure why I picked it up, finally, this week.

A brief overview would be this: it’s a better than average platformer with a decent gimmick (the “zip lash” of the title) and a few utterly baffling but thankfully not game-ruining design choices. And it’s cute and twee and stuff.

The zip lash, and the similar whip lash, are moves where Chibi-Robo flings out his cable, to attack baddies, grab items, smash blocks, or anchor on ledges and use them to climb up. He can also swing from marked ceilings, and after extending the length of his cable, use the zip lash to bounce the plug off walls and reach items and other hidden areas.

Six worlds, with six levels in each, and there’s the usual platforming array of themes – grass, sand, ice, fire, and so on. They’re fun though, and varied in that Nintendo way of having hundreds of great ideas that are infrequently used. A couple of levels have you on a skateboard, some more hanging from a bunch of balloons, and some that take the form of a jetski obstacle course. A traditional boss at the end of each world, plus a final end boss, and that’s your game. Pretty short, mostly very easy, but enjoyable nonetheless.

However! There are two completely out of place parts to the game, both of which feel like this was supposed to be a free-to-play game with IAPs to fund it.

The first one is how you move on from each level. Normally, you’d expect after level 1-1 you’d go to 1-2, right? Here, at the end of a level you have to hit a copper, silver or gold UFO that are floating around. Hitting them get you 1, 2 or 3 (respectively) spins of a six segment wheel. Each segment has a number on it, and the number you land on is how many levels ahead you move – looping round from level 6 to level 1 if necessary. At first, this feels like a level skip bonus, but you have to complete all the levels in a world to move on, so why would you want a number other than 1? All it does it make it more likely you’ll need to repeat levels later. And here’s the first clue to ditched IAPs: You can buy, with in-game coins, segments for the wheel. You can pay to cover up all the 2s and 3s with 1s, guaranteeing you don’t need to replay completed levels.

Of course, repeating a level has its own worth – more coins, higher scores, find the rest of the missing big coins/sweets/mini Chibi-bots/baby aliens (all of which are optional), but being forced to do them because you span the wrong number? Why not pay to bypass that?

The second one is the coins themselves. They let you buy batteries (which refill your power bar if it runs out), a jetpack (to save you once if you fall off the bottom of the screen) and these wheel segments, but they’re incredibly cheap and mostly unnecessary. You can also feed coins into a gatcha machine which dispenses random figurines for you to collect. They serve no purpose, but gotta catch em all, I guess. So you rack up a few thousand coins, spend them on baubles because there’s nothing else, and then – just before the final boss – in order to save the world you have to buy “giant parts” for Chibi-Robo and these cost about 20,000 coins in total. Unless you’ve been saving them up for the whole of the rest of the game, you hit the end and then have to grind earlier levels for more.

Or… in app purchases? Well, it certainly looks like that was the purpose originally anyway. And what kind of world makes their hero pay for the upgrades necessary to save them from oblivion? Tch.

But those two things aside, I enjoyed the game and it’s well above your usual character platformer. I’d probably have enjoyed it even more if I’d not “wasted” my coins before then end. If you don’t do that, you’ll probably enjoy it too.

OPUS: The Day We Found Earth (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a game with a nice little story wrapped up with a “find the right dot in a load of dots” mechanic. You’re a robot, and your creator has tasked you with finding Earth, which involves a lot of looking at the galaxy through a telescope and zooming in on specific star systems.

To find these systems you’re sometimes given coordinates, or a direction to look in, or a particular region of space. Later on, the location descriptions become even more vague. Find the system specified, and you’re told how close to a match for Earth the planets there are, and then you move on. It felt a bit like a cut down No Man’s Sky in point-and-click adventure form.

It’s a basic premise, and very short. That’s probably for the best, though, as it’d become boring rather quickly otherwise. Thankfully, the scanning is punctuated with story exposition and really that’s what the purpose of the game’s existence is – explaining why they’re looking for Earth and finding out what happened to, well, I won’t ruin it.

OPUS: The Day We Found Earth is unusual, short, very easy and somewhat charming. Not an essential purchase at all, but it’s cheap (under £5, although I paid about £2.70 from the Japanese eShop) and certainly worth a play through.

Scribblenauts Showdown (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d heard that this was a party game based diversion from the main Scribblenauts series, so wasn’t going to get it. But it was £10 and I thought, how bad can it be? Luckily, not as bad as I was expecting.

The party game mode is the main purpose it exists (and is actually pretty good, considering), but there’s also a “Sandbox” mode which is a simplistic approximation of the previous Scribblenauts games. A number of levels with ten tasks in each to do – make a helicopter fly, give the Buddha an offering, put the right animals in the zoo exhibits, etc. It’s this mode that I completed.

So it’s not as good as the earlier titles, but it’s OK. I suspect 5th Cell, the original developers, had very little to do with this and it shows. Shame.

Metropolis: Lux Obscura (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s the age old story: Man released from prison, man tries to find the reason he was framed, man gets caught up with the mafia, man visits strippers, man fights everyone and everything via the medium of a Match 3 puzzle game. We’ve seen it so many times before.

And that’s exactly what this is. There’s a branching story, with four endings (three of which I’ve seen so far), a lot of violence and somewhat graphic sex. Also, swearing. So much swearing. This is a game on a Nintendo console, lest ye forget.

The art style and animation is great, sort of like Sin City in the way it’s low on colour and high on gritty comicbook bleakness. The story is bobbins, however, and the game is incredibly short so even though you meet many characters your interactions are minimal and after maybe six or seven “fights”, it’s the end.

After each fight you can choose one from a random selection of stat boosts (more health, more damage dealt, better healing, etc.) but since you’ll come to the end of the game before any of them are really necessary what you choose is pretty pointless.

It’s a shame. Similar games, like HuniePop, Puzzle & Dragons and Puzzle Quest are all much, much longer even though their stories need not be. Here, after three hours I’ve seen all bar one ending and the plot could really have done with more meat. Make it three times as long, and Metropolis Lux Obscura could be a 4/5 title, but sadly it’s so lacking content it sorely needs (and feels like it should have done but the devs cut it short) it’s a 2/5 at most. The gameplay is there. The style is there. The game just isn’t.

Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (Switch): COMPLETED!

All inklusive.

A totally new single player story mode for Splatoon 2? Well why not. The single player was, in my opinion, the best bit of the game, and this new expansion doesn’t disappoint.

Taking the form of a Tube-like underground railway, with each station a level, your Octoling character needs to find the Four Things so they can escape back to the surface. Each level is different, testing your skills in varied ways. In one, you might have to navigate platforms with only a limited amount of ink. In another, you might have to push or shoot a giant 8-ball to the exit, avoiding baddies and traps.

Another level plays out almost like Space Invaders, and another has you riding on the top of cars trying to take out foes without them seeing you. Some levels have bosses from the main game, only modified and made significantly harder – that toaster guy? What if he had snipers on his head and ink sprinkers on the sides?

Yet more variations include levels that are timed – shoot all the targets, collect all the items, or splat all the enemies before the clock hits zero. These have very little margin for error too, I found.

It’s incredible that Nintendo have managed to find so many more ideas to put into this mode, having used so many already on both Splatoon games. But then, this is Nintendo, and when Mario Galaxy and 3D World are literally overflowing with ideas, I suppose it’s not that unexpected. It’s worth mentioning how awesome the music is too, with this mode taking on a slightly 80s vibe which also styles some of the graphics.

Octo Expansion is harder than the original Splatoon 2 single player too, although finishing every level isn’t necessary like it is there. I’ve done about two thirds of them, and will probably go back to do the rest at some point. I know some people think I’m nuts for enjoying single player Splatoon more than online, but I implore you to spend some time on both Octo Expansion and the normal single player mode (if you haven’t already) because some of Nintendo’s best game ideas are here and it’d be a massive shame if people missed them.

Rime (PS4): COMPLETED!

It’s tricky to rock.

It’s hard not to compare Rime to Journey. The art style is similar, your character is basically – bar vague noises – mute, and you wear a red scarf. Unlike Journey, however, there’s a lot more game to Rime, with puzzles and platforming much beyond Journey. In fact, I felt it closer in terms of gameplay to something like Papo & Yo or possibly even Rain.

Rime is also not similar to Rive, a shooter which it doesn’t even slightly resemble but for a year or more I’ve been mixing the two up.

Anyway. There’s not a lot to say in case of plot spoilers, but your boy has woken up on the beach of an island, and has get to a giant keyhole shaped thing at the top of a large white tower. You progress through four main areas filled with beautiful scenery and puzzles, of which there are three main sorts: “how do I get this ball thing from here to there”, “how do I manipulate these shadows to do this thing”, and “how do I make these things line up so when I look through that thing they look like the shape over there”. You can shout to activate certain things like switches to help, and sometimes blocks need to be shunted round in order for stuff to work.

None of the puzzles are especially taxing. I did get stuck on one for ages because I hadn’t noticed there was a handhold to climb up and take me somewhere else! Looking around a lot is key to some of the puzzles and finding routes to places.

Hidden around the world are a number of optional things to find. Pots to be shouted at so they break, keyholes to look through, wooden toys to discovery. Naturally, you don’t even find out these exist until you stumble across one by accident so there’s no way I’d get them all in my first playthrough. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be finding them at all because that’s not incentive enough to play through it again. As much as I enjoyed it – jerky framerate and the odd bug aside – I don’t think it’s the sort of game that needs repeating. Certainly not for a while.

If you’re a fan of spoilers, here’s my playthrough in video form:

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch): COMPLETED!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Castlevania

Bought, played, completed. In under two hours. But this definitely not Castlevania is supposed to be short, and there’s supposedly more to be had from replays, so I’m not going to complain.

Not that there’s much to complain about anyway – it’s a decent platformer with some great bosses and a character swapping mechanic which (as each one has different skills) allows different ways of tackling rooms and reaching hidden areas and power-ups.

But it’s hard not to see this as a Castlevania game. As well as having the same graphical style as the original NES titles, one of the characters is basically a Belmont, as she wields a whip in just the same way. Another is clearly Alucard. The main character you start off as has a sword like Soma, but looks like Simon Belmont, and there’s a monk who admittedly isn’t much like anyone from that series. Then there’s the levels which try to distance themselves from Castlevania levels but there’s still the castle and although the baddies are different most behave just like Castlevania baddies.

The bosses, however, are very much new. And also very much easier than anything in a Castlevania game, although that’s not negative point – Castlevania bosses can be past the fun side of difficult.

If I’ve heard correctly, Curse of the Moon is a prequel to the full Bloodstained game which is still due to come out. If that is anything like this, then I’m all over it. Hopefully on the Switch!

SteamWorld Dig 2 (3DS): COMPLETED!

A while back I was lucky enough to win a copy of this from Nintendolife. I already had (and had completed) it on the Switch, but it’s a great game so playing it through a game was certainly no chore.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the same game. But also unsurprisingly, it was awesome again.

I don’t know if I’ll mop up all the collectibles like I did with the Switch version, but you never know!

Detective Pikachu (3DS): COMPLETED!

Just a brief post about this because I said a lot more on the ugvm Podcast, but since recording that I’ve completed it.

The main thing to mention is that in the intro to the game, I thought I’d figured out what had happened to Tim’s dad. However, you never actually find out as the game ends with a sequel setup. It’s slightly disappointing, but only because I was expecting closure.

The rest of the game was enjoyable, in a narrative discovery sort of way. There were puzzles and stuff but unless you fail to see things you can never actually go wrong.

Definitely hoping for a sequel soon!

Fairune Blast (Switch): COMPLETED!

Well this was a bit different. As a reward for completing the three other Fairune games in the collection, this little shoot em up is unlocked.

Taking its cue from the bosses at the end of the first two games, this is a full-on Pop’n TwinBee style vertical shooter, featuring enemies from the main series in formations, and miniature versions of the bosses as, er, bosses.

It’s fun, but very short and easy. I mean, sure, it is only a bonus game but when I started playing I was hoping for more levels and stuff.

Fairune Origin (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m guessing here, but I think Fairune Origin is the original idea for a game that eventually became Fairune. It’s a very short, similar game with just 12 screens and a few puzzles which are vaguely recognisable as those in the “proper” Fairune.

Your girl is taller and thinner, the baddies don’t seem to require you to level up to beat them, and it’s all over pretty quickly. It definitely feels like a working prototype, and, I suppose, if you see how much improved Fairune 2 is over Fairune 1 then work backwards from 1 to this with the same leap it makes sense.

Not worth paying for, but a nice little bonus.

Fairune 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Perhaps the easiest way of describing Fairune 2 is “Fairune only more”. More enemies, more puzzles, more areas, bigger maps, more items, more on-screen, more lore, more everything. It’s a lot longer too, as it took me six and a half hours to complete – compare that to two and a half for the first game.

That all said, it’s pretty much the same idea. Bump into enemies to kill them, find items to open up areas of the map, look out for hidden paths and secrets, and Save Keys to Open Doors. There’s just, as I said, more of it.

I enjoyed it more too. Certainly, I spent even longer wandering the map(s) trying to reach areas I’d not been, but once you’ve levelled up enough there’s very little to kill you while you do this. In each of the three main worlds there’s a ring you can obtain which lets you walk on sand, water or ice, and as a result these create shortcuts and new routes. You even have to return to earlier areas with your new abilities. Metroidvania? Er, sort of. Maybe.

There are some really clever hidden-in-plain-sight puzzles (clue: keep an eye on the map!), and some really nasty hidden-a-bit-too-well areas. You absolutely have to keep your eyes open constantly – pillar or light layouts aren’t necessarily just incidental, they might be the solution to a puzzle. Examine every wall for unusual shadows or markings – it could be a secret path. Floor a slightly different colour or a tree trunk a different shade of grey? Might be a secret!

Great as these “secrets” are, unfortunately they’re not optional. You must find them all in order to progress, and it’s here the game falls down a little – especially in the final world where they’re even less obvious.

Still, Fairune 2 is a lovely little game and an absolute bargain in this collection on the Switch.

Fairune (Switch): COMPLETED!

A few years ago, I picked this up cheaply on the 3DS and quite enjoyed it. This week, Fairune Collection, which included Fairune, it’s sequel, and two other Fairune related games, came out on the Switch. Since I’d passed up on Fairune 2 elsewhere (mainly through Too Many Games) I jumped at the chance. And decided to played the first game again.

It looks a little silly on the Switch screen, with a huge amount of the area showing the map and inventory, but it plays exactly as it did before. Sufficient time had passed since last time I played it that I’d forgotten everything bar the premise (and that I needed to remember a screen had disappearing floor tiles), which probably explains why I still spent a lot time wandering almost aimlessly.

Still, I enjoyed it (again). Time to move onto the next game!