Discoloured (iOS): COMPLETED!

I had no knowledge of what this game was going to be like, but from the screenshots I anticipated a narrative discovery game, hopefully with one or more toilets. Sadly, there were no toilets.

But I was mostly right about the narrative discovery bit. Discoloured is a first person puzzle game, although the puzzles require discovery more than logic. You are transported to a 50s style diner, but everything is in black and white. By finding and activating red, green and blue prisms, you put colour back into the world, but to do so involves looking at and activating everything, not always with obvious reason.

There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as certain items and switches only appear or are useable when the correct prisms are enabled (or disabled), which is tiresome despite the very small area the game occupies. It’s all over pretty quickly, though.

It’s interesting but there’s no plot or story to follow, and the puzzles aren’t really the sort to give you any sense of achievement, and so coupled with the short length of the game I was just left with a thought of “is that it?”.

Marble It Up: Mayhem! (iOS): COMPLETED!

I was a big fan of Marble Blast Ultra on the Xbox 360, and this, apparently by the same team, coming to Apple Arcade was great… until I tried to play it and found it totally impossible to control with a touch screen. Then I realised I could use my 8bitdo controller with my iPad and, despite having to balance the system precariously on my lap, it actually worked well. Well enough to complete, even.

So the game isn’t as good as Marble Blast Ultra. I’m not sure what’s missing, but the levels all seem really easy and a bit bland. Perhaps the fun I had with the “original” was trying to beat friends’ times on the leaderboard and that’s not what I’m trying here, but I’m also not wanting to, so there’s still some spark not there.

That said, I did enjoy it. Except for that one level – called Escalation, I think – which I spent longer trying to complete one single jump on than I spent on the whole of the rest of the game combined. There’s a high platform you have to reach and you have to get a jump power up and then normal jump and immediately boost jump to get the height needed. Problem is, the timing is near impossible and until I did it by mistake there was no way of knowing if I was even doing the level correctly. Eventually I fluked it only to fall down higher up, triggering an earlier checkpoint on the way down, and then had to do it again.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way (Switch): COMPLETED!

Imagine if Another World was a point-and-click adventure game about a milkmaid in space, and all the dialogue was in rhyming couplets. Well, that’s Milkmaid of the Milky Way.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but tells the story of how a struggling milkmaid has her cows abducted by aliens (as aliens are wont to do) one night and then manages to get aboard their spaceship to try and rescue them.

My milkbeasts bring all the boys to the biodome

The puzzles are mostly straightforward, with the exception of the final one which felt a lot like “try everything on everything in case it works”, and it told an interesting story with a couple of twists. I really enjoyed it!

One Strike (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’ll probably take longer to read this post than it took me to complete the game. One Strike is a one-on-one fighting game with the sort of graphics early Game Boy Advance games had, with colour palettes to suit the very dark GBA screen. Games like Castlevania: Circle of the Moon looked hideous when blown up on a big TV via an emulator, and so does One Strike.

As the name suggests, you need to strike your opponent just once to kill them. It’s basically one-hit-kill Samurai Shodown.

My eyes!

And, with only about 8 opponents, it doesn’t take long to simply press dash-dash-attack your way through them all.

I’m glad the game was free because I’d certainly never pay money for something this shallow, short, and offensive to my eyes. Perhaps in two player mode there’s more strategy, but I won’t be playing it again to find out.

Wattam (PS4): COMPLETED!

From the possibly damaged brain of the guy who brought you the beautiful nonsense that was Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, is Wattam. Presumably it is called Wattam because when you see it for the first time, you say “what? erm”.

The plot is that everything has exploded and gone away and you, as a lonely square mayor has to bring everything back. And you do this by making trees eat your friends and turning them into fruit, by making everyone cry using an onion, and by getting a disembodied mouth to eat everyone, turn them into poos, then you flush those poos in a toilet (which you control) and then they turn into gold poos and then you have to stack the gold poos on top of each other so they’re as tall as a giant bowling pin, then you plant an acorn and everyone holds hands and then you take your hat off and explode..

Just in case it wasn’t baffling enough, some of the characters speak Korean, Russian and Japanese.

That’s right. The game makes even less sense than Noby Noby Boy and Katamari.

It has clunky controls and a clunky camera just like its predecessors, it has bizarre music like its predecessors, and against all odds the weirdness actually means it’s a lot of fun, also like its predecessors.

Yeah, it’s yet another one of those games where you have to control giant face parts and assemble them on a giant face while the giant face runs around and you have to find various ways to fight it, including throwing tobiko sushi babies at it. A crowded genre, for sure.

Lego Builder’s Journey (iOS): COMPLETED!

What a lovely little game this turned out to be. It’s these tiny little Lego dioramas each with a little puzzle in – get you little lego boy to the other side of the screen, or make machinery do something, or build a thing in a certain way.

It isn’t difficult, although one of the puzzles introduced a new gimmick which I completely missed so it stumped me for a while, but it’s clever and looks incredible and if you have Apple Arcade already (as against all odds, I do) then it’s free and a wonderful thing I strongly suggest you play.

This screen involves building a path for your skateboard.

Assault Android Cactus+ (Switch): COMPLETED!

Some years ago, I got Assault Android Cactus on Steam, and I played it a bit via my Steam Link. It was great, but booting my Mac into Windows and setting the Link up and everything needing updating every time I did so got old fast so it’s rare I ever bother these days. But it’s a shame because sometimes games like this just don’t get played.

Until now! The “+” version, which differs in ways I don’t know about, was very cheap on the Switch eShop last week and so I bought it. And I’m glad I did because it really is a very good twin-stick shooter. In many ways, it reminds me of the Wii reboot of Alien Storm, only a trillion times better.

Playing it on the Switch rather than via a Steam Link also meant I could play two-player co-op with my daughter. I wasn’t sure how she’d get on with twin-stick controls, but she was excellent and on many stages beat me (it’s co-op, but there’s still a score/death based competitive element). We had so much fun we completed it in pretty much one sitting.

It’s easy, right up until the final boss where I realised I’d not been paying attention to how the battery system works or even making much use of the much more power secondary weapon. Or how leaving powerups for a while before collecting them changes what they do. All of which were vital to beating the final boss, it turns out.

Celeste (Switch): COMPLETED!

No, not the same game again. You see, the game Celeste that most people know, and the one I completed already, isn’t the original Celeste. No, that’s a PICO-8 game which I’ve played before on my PocketChip handheld. I think I completed it too, but I have no record of doing so on this diary so I’ll have to assume I didn’t.

Anyway, the original game was much simpler, with no story, 8-bit style graphics, and each screen is literally just a single screen with an exit at the top. You also can’t climb walls, although you can slide slowly down them.

The game is hidden inside the “new” Celeste, so when I unlocked it, I played it. It’s much shorter, and somewhat easier, and I actually enjoyed it a fair bit more for some reason.

Celeste (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ve seen a lot of people praise Celeste since it came out. Many of them saying it’s the best of the “stupidly difficult platformer” genre, which is presumably also populated with games like VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy and Slime-san. But, although I’ve liked some of those games before, I wasn’t sure I wanted another. Then Celeste was on sale of nearly-free, so I got it anyway.

And it’s good. Really it is. The pixel art is nice and the story is pretty good. There are lots of different mechanics like switches and things you can bounce off and platforms that “grow” stuff that kills you. The thing was, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.

Hard platformers are supposed to anger and frustrate you, but after each beaten screen, you’re supposed to feel a sense of achievement, or that you’ve reached a level of zen. All I got was relief I didn’t need to play that bit of the game again, and I’m not sure why.

None of the game was too hard, and I finished it with “only” 1008 deaths on the tally. Only one section properly annoyed me, but I eventually beat that and moved on, so it wasn’t the difficulty causing me to not enjoy it. I just felt I was completing it for the sake of it rather than because i wanted to.

But it isn’t a bad game at all. I just wasn’t feeling it.

Toripon (PC): COMPLETED!

You have to find and take photos of all the birds in a flat. I found, and took photos of, all the birds in a flat. And some other things, some of which it seems you need to take photos of in order to unlock more birds.

I’m not sure what else there is to say about Toripon. You can get a copy here if you too want to find, and take photos of, all the birds in a flat: https://theladyvictoria.itch.io/toripon

This one had a knife.

Pokémon Sword (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s another Pokémon game, and yes, it’s very much like all the others. In fact, it’s probably more like the slightly older games, like X and Y, rather than Sun and Moon as it returns to the gym setup those games had and Sun/Moon ditched.

What is different, is that there’s a new Wild Area, er, area. This massive (for a pokémon game) part of the map is full of wild pokémon which change depending on where in the area you are, and the current weather. There are also dens here and there with giant pokémon in them which you can battle and catch not completely unlike the raids in Pokémon Go.

The other difference, is that it’s the first mainline game in the series to not include all the previous pokémon in the Pokédex. I don’t know how many are missing, but there are still hundreds available plus all the new ones that have been added. Frankly, I don’t really care but I know there are grown adults on the internet who have taken offence to this because it’s the internet.

I’d seen that the game was very short, with some people completing it on launch day in under 8 hours. So imagine my surprise when I got to the game’s credits after just 51 hours. And I’d not spent forever training pokémon or “catching them all” or anything like that. Sure, I didn’t just stick to the story, but then why would you? Plus there’s a new story that opens up after you’ve finished the game, although I don’t know how long that is yet, I admit.

The important thing is that I really enjoyed the game, like the new quality of life features (you can now swap pokémon in and out of your box pretty anywhere, for example), and the “Britain but not” Galar region setting is funny. Other than that, it’s more pokémon, with nothing to really change your mind either way if you’re a fan of the games or not.

Rolling Thunder 2 (MD): COMPLETED!

I’m not sure I’ve ever played this before, but I was always a big fan of the original game in the arcades. I was a little worried it wouldn’t be any good, because of both being a sequel and the passage of time, but I needn’t have worried – it was excellent.

It is, of course, more of the two-layer, door-entering, duck-and-shooting that the original was, and it played well despite being pretty difficult. You see, as well as having to contend with all the baddies, and the holes in the floor, you’ve only got a limited amount of ammo for your gun and there’s a pretty tight time limit on each level.

Then there’s the final boss, which was especially tricky as it’s a one-hit death for you, and a million-hit death for him, and you’re pretty much forced to use all your ammo on the frantic lift ride on the way to reach him. No bullets means your gun can only fire one shot at a time, making him especially difficult to take down. But, eventually, I did.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

Time passed, and so I decided to play Mega-lo-Mania again. This time, I completed it on my new RetroFlag GPi – the thing that looks like a Game Boy but houses a Raspberry Pi.

I played as Madcap, and once again (see previous posts) I reached the final level with nobody else having put anyone in suspended animation to get there with me, so I instantly won.

It’s the best game, despite that.

Assemble With Care (iOS): COMPLETED!

Another nice little Apple Arcade game. This time, you’re a repair woman who is trying to make some money while visiting a town for some festival or other. You seem to be able to turn your hand to repairing everything, and despite having turned up with just a small suitcase, you’re equipped with spare parts for a watch, a music box, a handheld games console, and a slide projector amongst other things.

Like Possessions, which I also completed today, it’s short and easy, but the disassembly, repair, and reassembly of these items is just the delivery mechanism for the story. A story which involves two sisters who have fallen out, and a father and his daughter who have forgotten how to have fun together. By repairing their stuff, you can repair their relationships.

It’s not actually quite as twee as I’ve made out, but it’s enjoyable enough for as long as it lasts.

Possessions (iOS): COMPLETED!

This is a little puzzle game where you’re give a 3D view of a room with some objects hanging in midair. The idea is to rotate the camera in such a way that the items appear to be in the correct place – flowers on a window ledge, taps on a sink, that sort of thing – before moving on to the next set of items.

It isn’t hard, and the game is incredibly short, but it was fun and looks really nice. There’s also a story that plays out with the man of the house becoming more and more absorbed in his work and less and less interested in his family.

Not a game I’d have bought, but certainly worth a play on Apple Arcade.