I was convinced this took me around 40 hours, but no, just under 28. It just felt much longer than the other picross titles I’ve played on the 3DS, but it’s about par for them.
There’s not a lot else to say, really. It’s picross, with Sanrio (think Hello Kitty) characters as the puzzles. There are loads of stickers to unlock, but they’re of little use as you can’t take screenshots, but the main picross is the same picross as picross ever was.
Yes, I’ve been playing games. I’ve not completed any recently so haven’t posted about them. And, all the games I’m playing are pretty long. With all that in mind, here’s an update on them!
No Man’s Sky (PS4)
Having not played the game for almost two years, I started it again. Why? Because Hello Games have effectively turned the original game into a sequel over a series of updates I’d never even looked at since then. And since many people have found bugs and other issues when migrating an old save to the new version, I thought it best to begin again.
It’s certainly different, that’s for sure. I go into a lot more detail on the ugvm Podcast, but in short, I don’t really like most of the changes. The base building is, in itself, fine but it’s not what I want in my No Man’s Sky. Some of the Quality of Life changes, like stacking inventory items and easier ways to make money are appreciated, though, and the new Artemis storyline gives me a new thing to do, so I’m still enjoying it. So much so I’m already 40 or so hours in. Again.
Sanrio Characters Picross (3DS)
Yes of course I was going to buy this. Because I love Hello K–uh picross games. It’s huge, and I’m probably only 15% done so far.
Oh my. Who’d have thought this day would come? A re-release of Shenmue (and Shenmue II!) for a new console? Over the last few years I’ve been trying to find a nice way to play the original Dreamcast games on something more modern, eventually running it in an emulator on a PC streamed to my TV with a Steam Link… only that was a mess and fiddly and didn’t happen. I toyed with a handheld device like the GPD Win, but couldn’t justify the expense. But now – it’s on the PS4 and it’s excellent.
So far in the story, I’ve spent all my money on capsule toys, played with a cat a lot, found some sailors, not found Charlie, and have made it into the wrong Warehouse 8. And I’m loving it.
Hollow Knight (Switch)
When I was trying to find reasons not to buy this, because I already have too many Switch games, I settled on “I don’t like the art style”. Then it was on the eShop for cheap and I bought it anyway. I Am Not Strong.
But I’m glad I did, because it’s amazing.
It’s a Metroidvania, where you play as some sort of beetle with a nail for a sword, fighting other bugs and exploring a ruined world. It’s beautiful, challenging and really very well designed, and after about twelve hours in I thought I’d seen most of the map and then opened up three entirely new areas. It’s big.
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.
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.
As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.
So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives. I also got a free copy of The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game (also for the Switch) just before Christmas thanks to some supermarket loyalty points.
In addition, I got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.
Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.
Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.
With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.
I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!
Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.
And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:
And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.
Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.
Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.
Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.
And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!
You know, the positive thing about having my Switch stolen by my daughter is it means I get to play other games on other systems now. Like this, which I bought ages ago when it was on offer then promptly forgot to do anything with it.
Like the first two Box Boy! games, both of which I really enjoyed, Bye-Bye Box Boy! is a puzzle game where you create a chain of boxes and use them to traverse a level, avoid dangers, press switches, and so on. For the most part, it’s the same as the other games, but some worlds here have new gimmicks, like teleportation boxes, baby boxes you have to help navigate to the goal, bomb boxes, and remote control boxes.
It’s also a lot easier than I was expecting. I managed every single level, without struggling, collecting every crown on my first try. Of course, now I’ve completed it there are more – no doubt harder – levels that have opened up, but I don’t remember the other games being as simple as this. Maybe I’m just wise to the tricks now.
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.
A short one, this! SteamWorld Heist’s DLC, The Outsider, was on offer this week and somehow I’d not previously bought it. I righted a wrong and did that, and then played through and completed it.
It’s not a separate story as such, more an expansion. There’s a new character (The Outsider, of course), once you’ve repaired him, and then five or six new missions strewn across the map. To go with these there’s a new selection of hats to find and a handful of new weapons and stuff.
One of the levels is an interesting three way fight between yourselves, the Queen’s guard, and the Vectron forces. You can of course allow both other sides to pretty much eradicate each other, then move in to mop up. So I did that.
Short, but well worth digging the game out for again!
And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.
It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.
Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.
After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.
And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.
Maybe I miscalculated, or maybe my picross skills are now honed to the point where I complete puzzles on autopilot, but it turns out Picross e7 was actually shorter than Picross e6. Not much – 27 1/2 hours compared with about 28 hours, but it was still a surprise.
Like before, there’s some “cheating” going on by reusing the same pictures for both the picross and mega picross modes, which is a shame. Also, you don’t get many “bonus” puzzles for owning other games in the series – just 15 in total. It’s the same as before, but there are 6 previous titles now, not 3!
And that’s all there is to say, really. It’s more picross. And there’s an excellent toilet in it.
Last time I completed Oracle of Ages was almost 12 years ago, not long after I started this gaming diary. You can read my post about that here. Since then, I’ve played a lot more Zelda games, but in my mind the Oracles games have always been the best. Would my memory hold up, in light of Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild?
Ages is not without faults. Changing weapons is perhaps the biggest issue, especially on boss fights. Swimming controls, in particular once you pick up the mermaid gear, could be much better. Warping between the past and present, once you have the right tune, takes just a little too long. Having to remember where everyone and everything on the map is, for later reference, is difficult.
But most of these don’t really matter. The item swapping is a product of its time: The Game Boy Colour only had two buttons, after all. What is still outstanding is the game itself. In particular, some of the puzzles are genius. I wonder about the brains of those who created them, notably the Mermaid’s Cave dungeon. Not only do you need to contend with some of the more fiendish riddles, but you also have to leave the dungeon, change era, and return. I also must have spent four or more hours in the multidimensional nightmare that is Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. Raising and lowering water and a one-way system broke my brain several times.
From what I recall, Oracle of Ages is the more cerebral of the two Oracles games. Difficult puzzles, but generally easy bosses, with Oracle of Seasons being the opposite. It certainly seems to be the case given what I’ve said, and that all of the bosses – even the final one to a lesser degree – were incredibly easy. The only problems I had were figuring out how to damage some of them, which again bears out the puzzle-based nature.
So is it better than Breath of the Wild? I mean, really? It’s certainly a better Zelda game, yes. It doesn’t have the scope, beauty or freedom of the Switch title, but it is a purer, tighter, more focussed Zelda experience. But then, Breath of the Wild isn’t a true Zelda game in my eyes.
Well that was very easy. An abundance of cat food meant I could easily max out all my cat character classes, pay for items to ensure I always got treasure on each level, and use that treasure to make myself even more powerful.
It was so easy I barely even took damage on my base for the entire game. I used the “Cat God” special power just once, and that was only to see what it did. I suffered a single defeat, due to forgetting to pause the game when I put it down for a few minutes.
All that said, it was pretty good fun. I’m still baffled as to why the “game delay” stuff remains when there aren’t any IAPs to bypass it, but it didn’t affect me in the end.
A fun little game, in the same vein as Swords and Soldiers only simplified and with cats. You generate money, and spend it on soldier cats (the Battle Cats of the title, I assume) of various kinds, who walk left to the enemy base. At the same time, the enemy are sending baddies over to your base. So they fight.
You gain XP each battle, and use it to unlock new cats and power up your soldiers and base. You also get cat food, which acts as a sort of in-game currency, and can use it to buy things like more XP.
Nice as the game is, though, this cat food has all the smell of those evil In App Purchases that games like this are so fond of. You see, each level you play depletes an energy counter. When it runs out, you have to wait so many minutes or hours for it to refill, or, you can “spend” some cat food to do it now. Thing is, you can’t do the normal IAP thing of buying cat food with real money (not that I would ever do such a thing anyway), defeating the purpose of having it. As a result, you literally have to just wait to play for no reason at all. Which kills the game a bit.
Other than that, The Battle Cats POP! is cute and addictive. And the only thing other than Zelda that I’ve played in the last week.