deKay's Lofi Gaming

Gaming Diary

Maneater (PS5): COMPLETED!

At first, Maneater is a great fish-chomping game with slightly annoying combat (with crocodiles and barracuda) and a funny faux Deadliest Catch style narration, but it soon starts to become tedious and repetitive. And then, even though the game doesn’t change, it becomes fun again. I’m not sure why.

You’re a baby shark, who eats to get bigger and evolve, ultimately to take down Scaly Pete, the fisherman who killed your mother. The waters you swim in are broken down into areas, with you starting in a swamp and moving through an industrial area, a nightlife filled city, the open sea, and so on. Each is opened up by completing tasks, such as munching a number of humans on a beach or destroying a fishing boat or culling some seals. Bigger water creatures attack you, and if you cause enough damage or eat enough people, the humans start to hunt you down.

There are RPG elements, as each thing you consume gives you certain “nutrients” which are spendable on upgrades such as gnashier teeth or a whippier tail. You also get different types of body part, such as bone or electric, for progressing. As well as this, you’ve 10 increasingly difficult hunters to coax out and eat as a sort of side story, and a number of Tony Hawk style floating objects to collect or Assassin’s Creedy hidden chests to smash open.

As for why I tired of the repetition before getting back into it and having a whale (a sperm whale, actually – I ate a few) of a time – perhaps I just switched off a bit of my brain and embraced the simplicity? There’s not much depth (except in the open sea, ho ho), and it’s not very hard (although I had a couple of hurdles that required levelling up a bit), nor is it very long, but don’t go in expecting Skyrim with Sharks and you’ll probably enjoy it too.

Xeno Crisis (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I was immediately impressed with Xeno Crisis. It’s a Mega Drive game (tailored here to fit the Evercade’s controls) with great sound and graphics, and really slick and lots of sprites on screen at once.

It’s a Smash TV sort of shooter, with screen after screen of baddies to shoot (and the odd soldier to rescue), with each level ending with a boss – some of which are bloody huge.

The only issue with the game is it’s so hard. So very, very hard. And then, when I completed it, I got a bad ending with no suggestion as to how I’d managed it. Mr Internet explained that because I’d used some serum which revives you, ultimately that caused my death at the end, and the trick is to Not Ever Die.

So, armed with the button combination to open up a hidden menu where you can make yourself invulnerable and start on the final level, I completed it again. And still got the bad ending despite not using any serum. Tch.

Super Double Dragon (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Or, in some parts of the game, “Return of Double Dragon”.

The thing is, I picked my Evercade up and the Technōs cartridge was still in it from when I played River City Ransom recently and the shelf with all my Evercade games on was easily six feet away and therefore too far to bother with, so I picked something from the cart already inserted and that was Super Double Dragon, which I’d never played before.

It’s very much What if Double Dragon was Final Fight, but it’s not as good as Final Fight. It’s not a bad game, but it was pretty easy and much less impressive both visually and sonically than Final Fight. Or Streets of Rage.

Maquette (PS5): COMPLETED!

Maquette is a very clever idea married with a nice story but neither has much to do with the other. It’s basic premise is that you’re in a world and in that world is a miniature representation of the same world, and at the same time the world you’re in is a small version of a larger world. It’s turtles all the way down.

But they’re not just models – items that exist in one sized world also exist in the other sizes, and you can pick them up and move them from, say, the smaller world to the “normal” world, and then they become tiny in the small world. Or vice-versa to make them big. Puzzles revolve around this, with you needing to make keys for doors bigger or smaller, or place items on the other side of the small walls so they’re there in the larger world where the wall is too big to jump over.

It’s very clever, but flawed. A number of times the physics thwarted me by bouncing an item out of reach. Or I fell through a floor that had no solidity. A later puzzle involves slotting Tetris-like shapes into a partly populated grid, but the controls and “snapping” of items made dropping them in exactly the right place incredibly frustrating.

Much like what I thought of the game itself once completed.

The final chapter involves the you being able to move the domed structure you’re in (the maquette of the title, presumably) by moving a smaller version of it already inside it. While the brainknots this causes are impressive, it all seems a bit too much for the, uh, feeble PS5 as it carrying the dome around makes the game chug along with sometimes more than one frame per second. And it crashed twice, once taking a saved game with it – thankfully I had a “spare”. Not what I expected from The Most Powerful PlayStation.

The story, which has no real bearing on the game bar the basic tone and the odd object that’s referenced, is actually about the chance meeting of two people, them getting together, moving in together, and the relationship stagnating. It’s not twee, nor is it sad, but it doesn’t fit with the game.

So, Maquette is a clever puzzle game ruined a little by technical issues, while you listen to a podcast about a young couple who met in a cafe.

The Outer Worlds (PS4): COMPLETED!

I didn’t know as much about this game, aside from people saying it’s a bit like Fallout only in space. That in itself was enough to buy it, but I didn’t realise it wasn’t just a bit like Fallout in space, it was Fallout in space.

OK, so the main story is shorter, and areas are smaller, and you have to use a spaceship to get between them, but everything Fallout (New Vegas, mainly) is here. Factions. Companions. Weapon deterioration. Scavenging and stealing from containers. A form of VATS. Consoles to hack and doorlocks to pick. Skills and perks. A similar run-down retro-futuristic aesthetic. Your character waking up from a long time in suspended animation. Power armour. In fact, if it had a radio station with 50s songs to listen to, it’d be indistinguishable.

And you know what? It’s really bloody good. The plot starts with you, having been awoken decades late on a space ship heading to a new human colony, trying to obtain the things necessary to rescue (or not) the rest of your frozen friends. The colony you were supposed to be setting up is already well up and running by another ship that wasn’t left floating in space, and everywhere is run by a group of corporations, each with their own agendas.

What this comes down to is standard Fallout stuff. Go to a factory or abandoned library to clear them of creatures or bandits in order to get a vial of something or a reference book for someone. Help one faction defeat another faction. Find lost people, avenge dead people, help injured people, upset powerful people, and kill evil people. If you’ve played Fallout 3, New Vegas or 4 then this will be very familiar,

But that’s OK, because I like those games. And I very much liked this one too. For the record, I was a Very Good Girl, helped as many people as I could, and saved all my ice lolly chums. And I only did stealing when nobody could see me, so that doesn’t count, right? Oh, and I played it on my PS5 which no doubt made it look a bit nicer and mostly obliterated load times, which probably added to the enjoyment a bit too.

Oh yeah, and there are loads of toilets, but sadly they’re almost all the same as each other.

Bowser’s Fury (Switch): COMPLETED!

Included with the Switch port of Super Mario 3D World, Bowser’s Fury reuses all the power-ups, enemies and gimmicks from that game but adds cat ears to literally everything and gives you a fully controllable camera. It’s also one complete open world, a bit like an extra large Super Mario Odyssey level.

Bowser has gone out of control, and you need to collect Cat Shines to keep him in check. Every so often he rises from the black goo that covers the world, tried to kill you, and you send him back with the shines. As you collect more shines, you reveal more areas by getting rid of the goo.

Working in two player mode, with my daughter as Bowser Jr (who is concerned his dad is a bit too evil now), we collected all 100 Cat Shines in a few hours. It’s not a massive game, but it is excellent and something new in the Mario world.

Super Mario 3D World (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was going to buy a copy of Super Mario 3D World for the Switch when I already owned it on the Wii U which is still connected to the TV the Switch is. So of course that’s what I did anyway. With my remaining Nintendo Online game voucher thing, so it only cost £21.50 and I’d bought the vouchers before HYRULE WARRIORS: Age of Calamity come out so that’s basically forgotten money now, right?

Anyway, it’s still really good. Because it’s the same game as before, and it was really good then. Touch controls (for prodding switches and baddies and things) are translated into gyro controls like they were in Super Mario Galaxy and don’t work as well as on the Wii U, but they’re barely used in the game so it doesn’t really matter.

Played through the story with my daughter as the whole game is co-op. That actually works both as a positive (when you die you don’t restart – you respawn providing the other player doesn’t die) and a negative (you get in each others’ way and push the camera on too fast). We’ve not got all the green stars yet (far from it), but have beaten the final boss. Before we go back and mop up, however, Bowser’s Fury awaits!

River City Ransom (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’m sure I own this on about five different platforms now, but for some reason, the Evercade version is the only one i’ve actually put the time in to complete. Previously, I’d found it very, very, hard, but in fact, it’s not. Once you reach the first shopping centre – only a few screens in – you can buy a power-up which makes you capable of wiping out a lot of foes more easily, so can start grinding to get money, to get food and books to boost your stats.

Since dying only puts you back to the last shopping centre, and you lose half you money, the trick is to build up some cash, spend it all on upgrades, then repeat the process. It sounds tedious, but it really isn’t, and after an hour or so you’re massively overpowered and can kill almost everyone (including some of the bosses) in seconds.

Really enjoyed it, got a bit addicted to the upgrade cycle, and hope there’s a sequel on something I own to work through now. Well, aside from River City Girls of course – I’ve done that one!

1943 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Capcom Arcade Stadium, yet another collection of Capcom arcade titles, was released on the Switch this week. You get 1943 for free, so I played it. And then completed it.

I mean, you get infinite continues so doing so isn’t really hard. Although the game is. Not least because you seem to have a combined fuel and energy bar which constantly dwindles, and there are a number of waves of baddies where avoiding them or their fire is completely impossible. Plus some of the bosses don’t give you enough time to take them down before they’re gone – meaning you fail the mission have have to try again, hoping you’ve enough smart bombs this time.

Still, it’s mindless and slick and fun.

Concrete Genie (PS4): COMPLETED!

I thought this game was going to be about painting murals on walls, which then come to life. And, for a while, it is. You paint genies who can help you move objects, activate power or open doors, and you can paint random stuff on most vertical surfaces. However, it’s a lot darker than that and the first third of the game involves a lot of hiding from some not very nice bullies.

There’s quite a bit of Assassin’s Creed style traversal, which I wasn’t expecting. Not sure how Ash, the boy you control, has the skills needed to use the underside of a crane arm as monkey bars without freaking out he’s going to die. There’s a lot of collecting scrapbook pages that float around the rooftops, again giving the feel of Assassin’s Creed III.

But it isn’t Assassin’s Creed of course – it’s a painting game as I said. Until it isn’t. The final part of the game introduces attacks, a skating mechanic, and a health bar, as you suddenly have enemies to fight. It also introduced a bug where one of the enemies wouldn’t move and was invincible. These bits of the game, and the final boss, aren’t really what I signed up for and don’t really fit. It doesn’t help that the “lock on” button very rarely actually locks on to the baddies, and when it does it doesn’t stay locked on for long. I don’t know if that’s a bug or by design, but either way it hampers beating them and just adds annoyance to the end of the game.

Concrete Genie is a very pretty game (perhaps more so as I played it on the PS5), with some clever bits and a nice world and story, and the painting bits are enjoyable, but the world traversal is clunky and the game style switch was a bad idea.

Super Robin Hood (Evercade): COMPLETED!

This reminds me a lot of every single platformer for the Spectrum. Especially Ghost Hunters, for some reason. Which is also a Codemasters game. Yes, i know there was a Spectrum version of this too, but I never played it.

Anyway, you explore a castle, collect treasure, and eventually reach Maid Marion. Except when I got there, a ladder to reach her was broken. Turns out, you have to get all the treasure to fix the ladder (for some reason that isn’t explained). Of course.

So I had to spend half an hour backtracking (thankfully I’d killed many of the baddies and opened a few shortcuts so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been) and then another half an hour returning to the final screen again. With the ladder complete, so was the game!

Not a fantastic game, but a more than competent 8bit platformer. Providing you don’t miss any treasure, obviously.

Mystery World Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Two things about this game struck me. Firstly, it’s very much like a much shorter version of The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy what with many of the same (again) puzzles and locations. Secondly, there’s no way this is a NES game, surely? It looks way too good. And when you drop three items on the same screen it doesn’t flicker like mad. And it’s so smooth! And the music is way ahead of that in the other Dizzy games!

As I said, it’s a lot shorter than the previous Dizzy game I’d played, so it wasn’t long before I was done with this too. It’s really good though – very impressive.

The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Good grief that was a long game. Not helped by the fact that nearly two hours in I discovered I’d somehow managed to accidentally sequence break and ended up somewhere without items I needed to progress and no way to return to where they were located. Apparently that isn’t possible, but I did it anyway.

So I started again, and that took five hours. Five hours! For a NES Dizzy game with no password system or save games. On the Evercade, i can save and quit when I want, but on the original NES that would have been ridiculous. I’m reminded of another Codemasters game – Rolo to the Rescue – on the Mega Drive which, after four hours play, I realised there was no way to save or continue later. After turning it off, I never played it again. At least, until emulators were a thing.

Back to the game though. Well, it’s the same as all the other Dizzy games, isn’t it? It’s much, much larger with way more to-ing and fro-ing, but it rehashes a lot of previous puzzles and locations, and adds four sort of mini-games that must be completed to continue. I remember two of them – Dizzy Down the Rapids and Bubble Dizzy – as standalone releases on the Spectrum.

Aside from getting stuck on my first playthrough, I didn’t find it all that difficult (although the cloud jumping section was frustrating). It was just really long!

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4): COMPLETED!

Let me preface this by pointing out that I won’t be going into detail about the game itself. Enough has been written elsewhere about the premise, and to mention too much about the plot will just be spoilers anyway. Instead, I’ll tell you why it has taken me OVER A YEAR to complete it.

Well, the main issue was the loading times. After all the DLC was installed, it took more than ten minutes from turning on my PS4 to being able to control Kassandra (like I’d play as Alexios) in the game. Fast travel was anything but, with horsing my way across the map genuinely feeling faster (and although most of the time it wasn’t, at least I could pick up wood and ore on the way). To be honest, after a few months of hour-or-two sessions, I’d started to not play it most of the time just because it took so long to get into. In August 2020 I made another stab at it, but again after a while the loading got me down so I stopped.

And then I bought a PS5.

Playing Odyssey on that has been a revelation. OK, so the load times aren’t instant but fast travel is a few seconds now, not minutes, and from boot-to-control is under two minutes. Plus I’ve taken to using suspend and rest on the PS5 so really, loading has mostly gone. And it’s like a different game.

There are probably graphical improvements and fewer frames dropped too, but I wouldn’t notice. They’re much less important, anyway.

So finally, after a couple of months, the achievement popped for completing Kassandra’s Odyssey (and an email from Ubisoft – in real life – came through congratulating me, which just feels weird). I’ve not killed all of the Cult yet, although I’ve made a good go at it, not least because after finishing off Deimos and doing a few forts, I discovered I’m completely invincible, thanks to (presumably) a bug:

I! AM! IRON MAN! (or woman)

This means I can take down anyone with impunity, and attract as many mercenaries to attempt to kill me as is possible because, well, they can’t. Turns out one of them was a cultist too – bonus.

The game itself is fun. It’s more of the same as Origins, albeit with lynxes instead of hippos and with more boating. Kicking people off cliffs with my Spartan Kick never gets old. The problem is, it’s too big. There’s too much to do. Although I’ve completed the main questline (and a handful of side quests), and I’ve spent over 85 hours on it, there’s still about 1/4 of the map completely unexplored. There’s still 27 open quests (plus however many I’ve not even found yet). There’s two entire lots of DLC I’ve not touched. I still have some cultists to assassinate. I’m level 47 with a cap of (I think) 100. And who knows what else. Sure, you can’t complain you don’t get your money’s worth here, but I’ve other games that need playing!

Syberia 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

It just so happened that soon after completing Syberia 2, the third game in the series was reduced on the Switch eShop from £45 to about £8. Perfect timing, and so here it is.

With the story essentially concluded at the end of 2, Syberia 3 starts with Kate Walker in a hospital having been dropped there by youkols (the people who you found near the end of the previous game) who had discovered her freezing to death after her boat wrecked – presumably on her way home from Mammothland. The plot involves her escape, and then helping the youkols migrate their snow ostriches to some ancestral grounds “over the border”. The border being important as one of the doctors at the hospital, and some unnamed military group, are in cahoots trying to stop both you and the youkols from making it, for reasons that seem to only amount to “because we don’t like them living in a non-modern way”.

Unlike the first two games, the graphics are now fully 3D in a fixed camera format, not completely unlike Resident Evil, rather than mainly static 2D canvasses. It’s a bit jarring at first – literally, as there’s some jerkiness – but I soon got used to it. Also changed is the inventory, where you now have an “item wheel” to select stuff from, and when you interact with things you sometimes “gesture” with the control stick to open, twist, or move knobs, doors, handles, and so on. It doesn’t really add anything, but at least they thought to try something different, I suppose. It does feel like this should have been a Wii game, though!

The puzzles are as good as before, and the locations are great and varied – like an abandoned fairground in Not Chernobyl Honest, and an old olympic stadium. The story isn’t as good, and you don’t meet so many great characters as in the original games, but overall it’s still definitely worth playing. And it makes me want them to hurry up and finish Syberia 4 now too!