Let me just address your question of “Alright deKay, how are you going to claim you’ve completed this?” right off the bat. Each level has an achievement for getting a certain number of cars on the map, and I hit this target and got all the achievements. Happy?
Mini Motorways is very similar in style to Mini Metro, which I have on many different devices and enjoy very much. It’s not surprising it’s similar as it’s the same developers, of course, but there’s something not quite right with it and I’m not sure it’s entirely down to me not being very good at it.
The aim is to join up houses with a matching colour building, by drawing roads, so people can get to and from work. If you can’t supply enough people in cars fast enough, then it’s game over. And here is the problem: sometimes you can’t through no fault of your own.
Of course, you can fail by causing too much traffic congestion, or having routes that are too long, or not making use of motorways, bridges or traffic lights most efficiently, but I was failing even when I’d the shortest possible route with no delays or junctions. The game simply wasn’t proving me with enough people to service the buildings, or was but randomly putting them far too far away from each other.
As a result, success was much more down to luck than planning, of which there was an element in Mini Metro but here it’s more obvious and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Another Apple Arcade title, and one that looked really nice but turned out to be pretty weak. There are lovely little dioramas for each location, with what starts out as simple point and click puzzles in each. Unfortunately, the puzzles are all far too simple throughout the game instead of getting harder or more complicated.
The story also seems to start out interesting, a couple of kids in the 80s sneaking out at night to watch a film, but then it veers into uninteresting vampire nonsense. Props for being inclusive with the characters, but they’re poorly written with shoehorned 80s references cluttering the dialogue and, well, just too much dialogue.
It’s not puzzley enough to be a puzzle or adventure game, and not clever or exciting enough to be a narrative discovery game, so ends up as a bad one or the other or in limbo between the two.
I’d never heard of this game before, and I only gave it a go as I noticed it on the NES Online service thing on the Switch today. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty good.
I say surprisingly, because it very much reminded me of two terrible games I’ve played recently: ESWAT and Ninja Gaiden. Somehow, though, it’s much, much better than either of those. It has the same sort of platforming, bosses, and even a plot not too dissimilar to Ninja Gaiden, as well as interstitial dialogue like both other games. It plays much better, though, with tighter collision detection and baddies that don’t constantly respawn if you move one pixel back and forth.
As well as the platforming, there are a couple of Spy Hunter-like driving sections. These aren’t great, and actually play out more like a vertical shooter than a driving game, but they’re easy and quickly over. There are also a few Operation Wolf style shooting levels, which are OK but obviously suffer a bit as you can’t use a lightgun.
So yeah, it was surprising. Not the best NES game by any means, but above average and I’m amazed I’d never seen it until today.
It can’t be that long ago when I last played the original (well, DX) version of Link’s Awakening, I thought to myself. After all, I remember most of what I’m supposed to be doing. It turns out it was more than eight years ago. It also turns out I’d not remembered quite as much as I’d thought.
This Switch version is a shot-for-shot remake of Link’s Awakening DX. All the same enemies, all the same weapons, all the same characters, and the exact same map. What has changed only modifies things. Most obviously, there are the new tilt-shift rendered toy-like graphics, with everyone looking like little plastic dolls. It works really well. Then there’s the continually scrolling world, rather than being flip-screen (apart from in dungeons – some rooms still switch) which actually makes the game map appear somewhat smaller than I remember.
Of course sound in massively improved too, but the other big change is the controls. On the Game Boy, you only had two buttons – A and B – to use weapons. You kept having to go into the menu and swap them out. This was pretty tedious, especially if you needed three weapons at once, and out of sheer laziness meant that the shield rarely got used. In the Switch version, some weapons are permanently tied to buttons, which means you can always use your sword, shield and pegasus boots without swapping them in, and you still have two action buttons for other things. I generally found keeping Roc’s feather on Y and then just changing the use of X when needed worked best for me. Having a shield at all times makes the game one hell of a lot easier.
In fact, I found the whole game very, very easy, only dying twice. Of course, some is down to the shield and easier controls, but no doubt much is because I remembered a lot of where I needed to go and what to do. Although I did lose Marin for a while which made me think there was a bug. There wasn’t – I had just lost her.
As much as I really enjoyed the game, and I must stress that it is really good, I can’t help think how good Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons would be using this engine, as they’re even better than Link’s Awakening. I’m hoping they do those before Breath of the Wild 2!
I didn’t think Apple Arcade was ever going to be for me, and to be honest I still don’t, but that hasn’t stopped me getting the month’s free trial and giving a few things a go. What the Golf is one game that stands out as “working on a touch screen”, to the point where I’ve managed to complete it. And, more importantly, enjoy completing it!
The game starts off as a golf game. Pull back your finger to aim and control power, and get the ball to the flag. Very quickly, however, things change. The flag moves, or you “hit” the club instead. Or the golfer. Or the hole. Or cars, bottles, footballs, bicycles, houses, saw blades, and many other increasingly ridiculous things.
As you move around the map, you reach areas with levels last pay homages to other games – Flappy Bird, Super Meat Boy, Portal, Superhot, Mario, Katamari Damacy and Metal Gear Solid. The rules of the game frequently change, with many ideas used just once then discarded. Instant restarts and for the most part unlimited “swings” reduce the frustration, so the game remains constantly fun. The only level I didn’t enjoy was the final one, and that was because it’s very long with many sections – and I encountered a bug in the final section which meant I had to keep restarting. That aside, What the Golf is excellent.
Yes, absolutely taking the Japanese dating visual novel genre and tying it up with KFC was a sensible idea. Especially when the aim is to romance the big man Sanders himself. Only what’s this? He’s a young man with a fashionable goatee, and doesn’t look like a bad guy from Dukes of Hazzard?
As a game, being a visual novel, it’s pretty limited. There are a few choices you get to make, most of which don’t seem to have much of an effect but some basically cause insta-death without warning. It’s a short game too, about half an hour in length unless you’re a slow reader, so you barely get to know the cast of bizarre and ridiculous characters who make up the staff and students at the cooking academy the game is set in. The teacher is a dog and a classmate is some sort of pressure cooker, for instance.
It’s silly, a bit creepy, and implying KFC is the height of excellent cuisine throughout grates a bit, but for short free nonsense it was worth a play. I think.
Being a horrible goose is the best. And oh what a horrible goose you can be. I mean, you can’t kill anyone or anything (at least, I couldn’t when I tried), but you can make everyone’s life hell for a bit by stealing their stuff, breaking their stuff, and using their stuff to cause them stress and and upset.
You’d be upset too if a goose chucked your lunch in a lake, or took a stool away from you just as you sat down.
It’s not a hard game, nor is it a long game, but it’s a unique, silly and very funny game. Think Hitman crossed with Metal Gear Solid only you’re a goose and instead of killing anyone you have to steal toilet paper and break a dart board.
I’ve completed it (which took about an hour), but that unlocked a sort of New Game+ with a load more objectives, so I’m definitely going to go back in and do those.
I started this about a month ago, but totally forgot I was playing it. Then I realised that Untitled Goose Game and Link’s Awakening were out tomorrow and I remembered I had some unfinished stuff to do first. Turns out I was very near the end anyway.
Bertram Fiddle is a point and click adventure game set in Victorian London, complete with mutton chops and Sherlock Holmes and a murder with a severed head as a clue. Bertram himself is a mostly incompetent detective slash adventurer, and he takes it upon himself to solve the murder.
Since it’s a point and click game, I couldn’t help comparing it to The Secret of Woolley Mountain, which I played recently. That game had more puzzles in it, and felt a bit longer, but suffered a little graphically and with variably successful voice acting. The art in Bertram Fiddle is much better and the spoken dialogue is much, much better. The humour and gameplay of both games is great though.
Anyway, I’ll be getting Episode 2 from the eShop next time it’s on offer (which, given Astral Chain, Untitled Goose Game and Link’s Awakening are all being played is hopefully not too soon) and if you’re a fan of this genre then Bertram Fiddle is definitely worth your time.
Probably my favourite side scrolling beat ’em up of all time is the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World game on the Xbox 360. Although I still have it on my console, it has now been delisted, so can’t be bought any more. What I liked about it, aside from bloody everything, is the upgrades and food items you could buy – just like in the NES River City Ransom game it is clearly a Scott Pilgrim themed homage to.
So when they announced River City Girls, which is literally a followup to River City Ransom, which also has modern pixel graphics like – or actually, surpassing – Scott Pilgrim, AND it was being developed by Wayforward, one of my favourite devs, I couldn’t not get it, could I. So I did. Immediately it was released.
And today, after playing through it completely in co-op with my daughter, we completed it. And it was incredible.
Even more incredible than I was expecting or hoping for. From the fantastic graphics and animation, to the perfect voice acting, the humour, the cut scenes, the manga comic flashbacks, and such a brilliant sound track – plus of course the punching people in the face which is so well executed and with so many unlockable moves it never ceases to be enjoyable.
There are boss fights that seem impossible, but which then aren’t after you’ve nailed the tells and routines, bonus missions for the creepy Godai, and – and! – toilets. The game literally has all the things I want from a game. And now we have unlocked… spoilers… and there are still some hidden statues to smash and a new game mode to start, there’s still more to do.
When I bought the Shenmue I&II pack, my intention was to play them just before Shenmue III came out. Only, I didn’t start II right after I because III had been delayed. Fast forward a bit and the actual release of Shenmue III is suddenly almost here, and I hadn’t started II! So I did that.
As I mentioned when I played Shenmue I around this time last year, I didn’t remember Shenmue II as well as the first game, and when I came to play it, I was right. I recalled the bit where you get off the boat, some of the Hong Kong harbour, having to find the Four Wude (but none of the detail in doing so), being chased by Dou Niu at some point in Kowloon, and a very, very long walk with Shenhua. I didn’t remember Wong, Ren or Xiuying, all of whom play massive parts in the game. I didn’t remember the street fights and the scout in Kowloon. I had totally forgotten about how you meet Shenhua and that you end up at her house, and – somehow – I forgot the hilarious tape you listen to from the wiretapper. I’d also forgotten, spoilers, about Shenhua’s powers.
Compared to the first game, there are a lot of improvements. Maps for each area are portable and overlaid, you can wait until the right time (most of the time), and the graphics are much improved. The latter point may be because this is a port of the Xbox version rather than the Dreamcast, however. The audio sounds less muffled too, perhaps for the same reason. It’s a bigger game as well, both in terms of scope (with three main, very different, locations) and length (it’s nearly twice as long). There appears to be a lot more in the way of QTEs, however, and some of them, such as the plank walking one, are pretty brutal. Having a sequence of complicated ones after the long slog to fight Dou Niu, only have to fight him again if you miss any one of them, is especially cruel.
But, it’s a great game. For all the repeating floors in the Kowloon buildings, and the never ending “Shenhua?”/”Nani?” conversation, and the worse-than-forklifts book airing section, it’s a gripping tale and I can’t wait to get into Shenmue III now. Please don’t let me and my £270 pledge down, Suzuki-san.
I thought I’d completed the Master System version of this a few months ago, but it turns out it was actually May last year. How time flies! This version is the Sega Ages remaster of the original arcade version, which I’d expected to be virtually the same as the Master System on (albeit with better graphics), and although it was very similar the differences still threw me.
For a start, it’s a lot harder. Like, several difficulty levels harder. This is for a number of reasons, not least that the timer runs down much more quickly and unless you’re legging it through the levels at full pelt (which you can’t do) you will definitely lose a lot of health – you lose a heart every time the egg timer runs out. The bosses also seem to require many, many more hits. Even with the best sword in the game, they’re just sponges. Then there seem to be more, and trickier, levels too.
But it has some features the Master System didn’t. You can continue when you die, which is more than useful (until the final level where they don’t let you any more), and if you decide to restart the game from scratch, this Sega Ages version allows you to start with the equipment you had previously. This means you can get hold of the best armour, boots, shield and sword much more easily. As I said though, the bosses are so hard that doesn’t help with them so much.
When I finally reached the final level I had the choice of getting the bell (to find my way through the maze) and the ruby (to make the final boss a lot easier). I went with the ruby and hoped I could remember the route. Thankfully, I could! The dragon wasn’t too hard (way easier than bouncing mushroom guy or Snow Cong & Chums, for sure), and then the game was over.
I have always maintained that the best Burnout, is Burnout Paradise. And I was slightly concerned going into this that perhaps my memory is faulty and maybe the eleven years that have passed since I played the original version on the Xbox 360 have not been kind. I needn’t have worried – it’s still excellent.
However, the passage of time has still had an effect. The main thing being that the massive open world map doesn’t feel massive any more. Or even big. In fact, since you can drive from one side to the other in about two minutes, it actually feels small. Perhaps other games I’ve played since, like the spiritual sequel Need for Speed Underground, or Forza Horizon, just raised the bar. It’s also not quite as much fun as I remember, but only because of niggles like no instant restart and having to go back to the junk yard every time you want to change car. I’d bet these would be fixed in a new game these days.
I went into the game in a lot more detail on episode 26 of the ugvm Podcast if you want to hear more, but overall it was a lovely £5 trip back to a great driving game and I enjoyed playing it all again. DJ Atomika or no.
It’s another picross game! But this one is different! And isn’t by Jupiter!
Sure, it’s still picross. PictoQuest adds light RPG elements to the formula though, with items and powerups and baddies to “fight” by completing rows and columns in the grids.
Which all sounds perfect, until I completed it and realised I’d totally ignored absolutely everything to do with the RPG stuff as it’s entirely unnecessary and does nothing. Sure, perhaps if you’re very, very, very slow completing the levels there’s a slim chance you might die, but other than that this is almost exactly like a Jupiter picross game. I didn’t use a single item, die, or even pay attention to what the baddies were doing. I did buy the extra hearts from the shop mainly as something to spend my accrued money on, but I didn’t need them as I was rarely damaged.
As a picross game, though, it’s great. It’s just everything else that’s pointless.
Yes, it’s another Lego game. Which means that it’s the same as all the other Lego games, right? Well, no actually. In several important ways.
Of course, the basic gameplay is mostly unchanged. You go around a level, solve little puzzles and generally smash everything you come across, but this game (and it’s possible the Lego Incredibles and Lego DC Super Villains do the same – I’ve yet to play them) is more open world and far less linear than previous Lego titles. Rather than levels, as such, you have a number of planets. Each has a pretty large unrestricted area to explore, with a number of “missions” in each – find items, do fetch quests, kill X number of baddies, and so on.
Instead of gold bricks, there are now purple sparkly bricks to collect. On each world you need a number of these to progress to the next, and they can be obtained from missions as well as found hidden – and not so hidden – around the map. Red bricks are gone, replaced with special items you can collect that do similar things to the red bricks (2x multiplier, shield, “super” weapons, etc.) but you can’t use them all at the same time.
Also new to the series is the ability to build things. You’d think, being Lego, that would have been there all along – but in fact previously you could only build pre-determined items in pre-determined places. Here, once you have the blueprint, you can build what you want pretty much anywhere. Most things are small and provide specific functions – a generator, a water sprinkler, a trampoline, various vehicles – but there are huge structures that are of use on one almost-empty world that you need to populate.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is you don’t need different characters to do certain tasks. Before, you’d need a character with a gun to shoot targets, or a character with super-strength to break certain objects. Part of the game would be unlocking all these characters, but in The Lego Movie 2 Videogame, it seems every character can do everything – one you’ve unlocked the skills through the story anyway. It streamlines things but loses a bit of what makes a Lego game a Lego game, I think.
Speaking of the story, it vaguely follows the plot of the film although almost as a sort of side story, spending lots of time on bits that barely got screen time, or entire sections I don’t remember from the film at all. Maybe it was based on an early draft of the screenplay, or perhaps they added bits to flesh it out? It’s also not as funny as either the film or other Lego games. There are no jokes, no silliness, and a lack of random pigs, sausages and toilets. And I’m serious in that this takes a lot away from the game, especially since the source material is supposed to be funny. You could forgive Lego Jurassic World or something not having jokes (but it did), but you can’t here.
Finally, it’s short. Very short. Way back when, the likes of Lego Star Wars III or Lego Marvel Super Heroes would take 30+ hours just to finish the story (albeit with a good 30 more to 100% it). More recently, 10-12 hours (with about 10-12 more) seemed to be the length. This game, however, I completed in co-op in under 5 hours. That’s really, really short for a Lego game. Almost one sitting, in fact. Yes, we’re only 40% complete, but even then that implies 12-13 hours total for 100%. Perhaps the open-world nature of it, when played in two player so both are achieving different goals at the same time, might be some of the reason.
All that said, it still plays really well. I like some of the new stuff, I don’t really like the changes to how characters work or the lack of humour, but it’s still a good game. Just not one of the better Lego games. Also: it’s “video game” not “videogame”, TT Games/Lego/Warner/whoever.
As I got closer to the end of this game, I realised that I’d almost certainly never completed it. I recognised every level up until the 7th one (in the cave), and then have vague memories of a castle, but I think the castle memory may even have come from the Mega Drive Alex Kidd game.
I also realised why I don’t think I’ve completed it. There are a few tricky sections (the one near the end with the spikes in the water can do one, for example), but the main reason was that winning relies entirely on luck! The janken matches are seemingly random, and you’ve no way of telling what your opponent is going to choose. At least in Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle there’s a power up that lets you see what they’re thinking, but in the Master System version? It’s all guesswork.
Other than that, it’s a pretty decent game. Alex slides all over the place as he has weird physics and friction, and the collision detection is a bit rubbish (the octopus and the samurai bosses in particular). The question mark blocks are also almost always worth ignoring too, meaning they’re pointless – most of the time they have that baddie that just homes in on you, so it’s not worth the risk.
Not the best Sega Ages re-release on the Switch, but I got it in a sale so I’m not disappointed.