Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch): COMPLETED!

Petition to have Roy in the game incoming.

You may have seen me enthuse about a game called HYRULE WARRIORS in the past. Indeed, it’s so good that it usually needs to be written in capitals. It’s one of the best games ever made, and between the Wii U and 3DS versions, I’ve devoted over 300, probably nearer 500 hours to the cause.

Imagine that game then, only swapping out the Zeldaverse for Fire Emblem.

Ta-da! It’s Fire Emblem Warriors. And boy is it the same as HYRULE WARRIORS. You hammer the buttons. You take over forts. You get weapon drops, unlock better defence and faster gauge replenishment. You control several different heroes, swapping between them as necessary. It’s all very familiar. In fact, even some of the levels seem to have borrowed liberally from the Zelda title. I mean, the World Tree bears no resemblance to the Deku Tree and is an entirely different prospect, y’honour.

But of course there are differences. Firstly, there are a whole suite of characters I’ve never heard of. Marth, sure, but then that’s from Super Smash Bros. Chrom I recognise. Tiki, but from Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Yes, I have played Fire Emblem games before but the only guy I remember is Roy and he’s not even in this. I was a little concerned getting into the game that I’d not know anyone, but it doesn’t actually matter.

Also different is the lack of Giant Monsters. Dealing with those was a core part of HYRULE WARRIORS, and – final boss aside – Fire Emblem Warriors ain’t got any. It’s a shame, but again, doesn’t really matter.

Characters can now team up, allowing you to use one as a support attacker or (if they’re controllable) can be “carried” around in case their weapon is stronger against a particular foe than your main character. You see, this game follows the Sword/Axe/Lance strength triangle of the main Fire Emblem series, so if you have a sword, bringing an axe-wielder with you can help. In fact, I generally paired Lianna (my “main”) with Lissa where possible for this purpose.

There’s more in the way of tactics here too, although it’s mainly limited to telling your allies where to go on the map and what to do. You could do this to an extent on HYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS on the 3DS, but it’s more important here as your AI chums have no I, A or otherwise. They wander off into danger, then cry they’ve made a terrible mistake, so I have to save them and guide them away. Only to have them return. Idiots. One of the bosses is invulnerable until you’ve taken over several forts, and yet all my allies kept running over to him only to get slaughtered. Babysitting wasn’t on the box blurb.

Other than those, it’s the same game as before. It’s not quite as good, but then very little is. I’ve completed the Story mode, which was about 14 hours long, but naturally there’s a massive History (like HW’s Adventure) mode that is where the bulk of the game actually is. I expect I’ll be playing this for a long time.

At least until the Switch version of HYRULE WARRIORS comes out, anyway.

 

Undertale (Vita): COMPLETED!

Undertale, Overtale, grumbling me.

When I first became aware of Undertale, with its Earthbound type quirkiness and spare any foe mechanic, I immediately wanted it. The problem was, like many indie games, it wasn’t available outside of PC and Mac platforms. As I rarely play games on those, especially not long games, I had to wait for a console version.

Which somehow, I missed. In fact, it was only when absentmindedly scrolling through the PSN January sale I noticed it existed for the PS4 and Vita, and at a bargain price too. Yoink!

And it’s a bit disappointing, sadly. The humour and quirk is fine, and the intentionally terrible monster designs is alright. The way you have to dodge attacks is quite clever (if often near impossible), and although I wasn’t a fan to start with it’s probably better than “stand and get hit” like most other RPGs and I warmed to it in the end.

No, the disappointment is that it just isn’t that good a game. The areas are boring, there’s not much depth to it, and it’s very short. Of course, I’ve gone for the pacifist route which means very little combat, so that might be part of the reason. There’s also the lore, which is sort of interesting but not really compelling. For a game pretty light on gameplay, there needs to be a story you want revealing to push you to keep playing, and Undertale doesn’t have it. Sure, after completion there’s some more to mop up to get the True Ending (which I’m heading for now), but to get there involves some funny but pointless filler about dating NPCs.

At five hours in now, I’m looking forward to getting this true ending, when I should be wishing the game was longer, so something isn’t working for me here. Shame.

What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4): COMPLETED!

The clue is in the title.

Spoiler free bit:

Firstly, there are some great toilets in the game. I feel that needs to be said because although there was an inevitability I’d buy the game anyway, I was tipped off about them and it just made me want it more. One of them even features in a most unusual way. More of this sort of thing.

What Remains of Edith Finch tells the story of Edith Finch, returning to a really quirky house where she used to live, after the death of her mother prompts her to discover “family secrets”. The main one being the open secret that the entire Finch clan seems to be cursed and everyone died in unusual circumstances, leaving Edith the last of the line.

It plays out as a narrative discovery experience, and feels a lot like Gone Home and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. There’s no actual paranormal stuff, like in Ethan Carter, but there’s more mystery than the story and house in Gone Home, so it fits somewhere between the two.

As you explore the house that you’d lived in for years but was never able to freely roam (as relatives died, their rooms were sealed off), how each person died is revealed and some of the mystery surrounding them explained. Edith discovers the conflict between Edie (her great-grandmother, Finch matriarch and oldest surviving member of the family) wishing to embrace the family “curse”, and her mother wanting to hide it from Edith and leave the house which she believed would save them.

Gameplay is sparse as you’d expect from this genre of game, with little more than operating handles and latches. As you read messages left by your relatives before they died, or letters, poems or even comics written about them, parts of their stories play out. It’s here where more control is given, such as chasing a bird, swimming in a bath, or flying a kite.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but Edith Finch is interesting. I didn’t get answers to every question (and seem to have missed how Sanjay died completely), but perhaps that’s not the point.

Spoilery bit:

Continue reading “What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4): COMPLETED!”

Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED!

Caterpillar of the Painting Community

Ah, the life of a French artist, living off his art, being French. Literally being some sort of frog like a racist stereotype. In Passpartout, you are this frog painter, and it’s your actual art that you sell.

Well, I say art. With tools even Microsoft Paint would sneer at, it’s not easy creating a masterpiece. Thankfully, as it turns out, whatever algorithm the game employs to determine the value and demand for your painting seems unconcerned with skill and it’s more about colour and complexity, depending on your customers.

Take George, for example. He’s easily pleased. My simplistic pictures of legless caterpillars with giant eyes always sold to him. Mary, however, would sarcastically comment on their lack of complexity and Don simply couldn’t abide the colours I used.

After experimenting with colour schemes and shapes, it seems the more realistic the picture the less chance I’d had of selling it. Generally more abstract shapes (big blocks of cheese went down well for a while), cartoony characters (a number of pictures staring a muscular crab sold for a high price) and those ever loved caterpillars allowed me to progress.

By the third act, it was clear that my clients just wanted grey pillys with big eyes, so I plied them with many variations on the same theme. Eventually I created one that was grey and red, and the massive bid I received for it basically completed the game for me. Which is just as well, as after five hours of creating things that either didn’t sell or were virtually the same as previous paintings, I’d started to flag. There’s probably a message in the end sequence where Passpartout is said to have become very rich, but I suspect he was just a caterpillar sellout and drank himself into oblivion to save the agony of 50 years of repeating himself.

Here’s a load of my “arts”, for your perusal:

Blaster Master Zero (Switch): COMPLETED!

Master of Blasting

You know my post from a couple of days ago where I said I was going to concentrate on a couple of games from the Christmas Game Pile? Well, I ignored that and started – and completed – Blaster Master Zero instead.

I’d previously played the demo and quite enjoyed it, but not enough to actually buy it. However, I later learned two important things about it:

  1. It was made by the same people as Mighty Gunvolt Burst
  2. It’s a Metroidvania

So that was me sold, and as it was cheap recently, it was purchased. And it’s excellent.

You navigate your surprisingly nimble jumping tank around various areas, which in true Metroidvania style have sections you can’t reach until upgrades are found. Sometimes, you have to hop out and proceed on foot, often entering rooms where the action becomes more overhead. You can run around the main levels without your tank too, but you’re hopelessly underpowered and even a pretty short drop kills you instantly.

There are loads of bosses to contend with, most of them in these on foot areas, although they’re all very easy. Even more so once I noticed you could change your weapon style in a Mega Man sort of way. Ice baddies are no match for your flamethrower, and bosses that consist of many parts (or waves of smaller baddies) can be damaged all together with a spark attack.

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Poorly tying it all together is a crazy plot involving an android, a frog and a load of mutants, but that’s not really important. What is important, is how much fun it is upgrading your tank, reaching new parts of old levels, playing Colour In The Map, and simply exploring. I’ve beaten the end boss, but I suspect there’s more to do here since there are bits of the map as yet unvisited, a number of caves that were too dark to see in (so I left them), and the ending wasn’t as positive as perhaps it could have been.

Stardew Valley (Switch): COMPLETED!

It grows on you.

In theory, Stardew Valley could go on forever. However, it gets to a stage where there’s very little left to achieve and so, fun aside, no point in carrying on. I’m not quite where I would want to stop playing just yet, but I do feel that after 120 hours (count ’em) it’s finished.

I’ve achieved most of the achievements, unlocked Qi’s casino, shipped every item, got married (to Emily), finished the Community Centre, broken into the witch’s house for the wizard, unlocked the sewer, reached the bottom of the mine, made (in total) over 4 million gold, reached level 10 in all the stats, and maximised my relationship with almost everyone 1.

So yeah, it’s completed.

Until they release the two player mode update, and then I’m back in, I expect.

Notes:

  1. bar Elliot and Sebastian – Elliot won’t talk to me, Sebastian is a misery

Splatoon 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Why Am I Ink

I am fully aware that the main point of Splatoon 2 is the online component. In fact, I’m sure – like I was with the first game – that the single player mode exists simply because Nintendo has a “Single Player Mode” box that needs ticking somewhere.

But – again, like the first game – the single player mode is excellent and sorely overlooked by so many. In Splatoon 2 it also acts as a fantastic tutorial for the different weapons in the main, er, online game.

It plays out across five themed worlds, with each containing 6 or so levels. They’re inventive platforming, shooting, or puzzle based challenges – up there with 3D Mario games in many respects. A number of types of enemies, giant rolling balls, car wash rollers of ink, invisible platforms, hidden items – it has it all. At the end of each world there’s a big boss battle.

Generally, I found the levels themselves more difficult than those in the original Splatoon, but the bosses were far, far easier. Which is good, actually – some were too hard before.

So it’s short, it’s fun, and it could quite easily exist as a game in its own right. But now, I think I should play online a bit.

 

Gorogoa (Switch): COMPLETED!

How d’you like them apples?

It’s pretty hard to describe Gorogoa. When I originally read a review, it sounded like a cross between The Witness and Yellow, both games I liked so it prompted me to buy it.

But it isn’t like those. Or it sort of is. Like The Witness, there are environments to manipulate to solve depth-busting puzzles. Shapes to match up, find, or merge. Sometimes you can remove a layer of a vista to create a second scene to work with, and it’s here it very much diverges from The Witness.

Like Yellow, it’s not clear how you achieve your goal, but there’s a puzzle to each chapter solved with slightly guided tapping. Beyond that, it’s not Yellow any more either.

The screenshots don’t explain or do it justice, and it’s not about when everything is in motion either. Perhaps an early example will help? OK, so there’s a bit where you have two doors, one diagonal from the other. They’re shut, and a boy needs to go in the lower one to reach the upper one.

In another scene, there’s a pair of doors in a similar layout with open doors and steps joining them. If you overlay these doors over the first set of doors, the scenes “flatten”, like layers in Photoshop, creating a way forward.

But that’s just the start. There are puzzles within puzzles within puzzles. Sometimes two vistas have separate puzzles that when solved create a solution to a joint puzzle. Which is part of another puzzle. It’s puzzles all the way down.

And it made me feel very clever. And there’s a lot to be said for games that do that.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

Alright, Why Not.

As I do every so often, I sat and played – and completed – one of the very best Mega Drive games: Mega-lo-Mania.

This time it was prompted by a conversation on Twitter, but I don’t really ever need an excuse to play it. It’s so good.

Once again, the CPU didn’t put anybody in suspended animation (see my previous post on this) and, since I’d expected it, I only put the bare minimum in myself. And then won.

Again.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3 (PS4): COMPLETED!

That Damon

I can’t say much here, because even some of the basic plot points are massive spoilers.

What I can say, is that oh my did the story twist and turn there. Everything I thought I knew was wrong, and then that was even more wrong.

And that’s the story done. Some parts don’t quite fit with how Rachel was portrayed in the first game (she was much more… promiscuous there than she seemed here), but how close she and Chloe became makes that scene in the original even more horrible.

On the whole, it was a great game. I wish, in a way, that it actually came before the first game rather than be released afterwards. I know that was never going to happen, but my suggestion to people who haven’t played either is to play this first. Why? Because the first game builds on this one rather than the other way round. It’s deeper, more important, more epic, and you’d gain a time travel power rather than feel you’ve lost one.

There’s another chapter coming soon – with Max in it – and I’m looking forward to that, especially to see how it fits in with the rest now. I think it’s supposed to be set before Max moves away? We’ll see.

Here’s the massively spoilerly playthrough, if you’re interested:

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Burn baby burn

Things have ramped up a bit.

OK, so it’s still low-key compared to the original Life is Strange, but the story is compelling now. There’s been a major twist (that I won’t spoil) which although nowhere near the scale of the cliffhangers from the first game, is still a must see.

Chloe and Amber shared a kiss too. I made them. Genuinely, it seemed like the best option, and instead of being pervy or voyeuristic it was really sweet and romantic and lovely. So well done to Deck Nine for dealing with that in that way.

Overall, and there’s another chapter to come next week so things might change (although that’s unlikely), I can’t say Before the Storm lives up to Life is Strange’s legacy yet. There’s not enough to it, it doesn’t have the sci-fi pull, and Chloe’s new actor pulls me out of the game too much (she’s great, but she’s not Chloe). The story, however much “less impressive” than the other one it is, is still excellent though.

Here be spoilers for the playthrough, if you’re interested:

 

You Have to Win the Game (Mac): COMPLETED!

So I did.

A relatively simple platformer, that sits somewhere between Jet Set Willy and VVVVVV, You Have to Win the Game was a random choice to play for five minutes and I got a bit hooked on.

It’s pretty short, not too difficult, but after about half way through I decided to buy it (for just a dollar) even though it’s free just so I could “own” it permanently in Steam.

And then I went on to Lose the Game (when you complete it the first time), and after that Win the Game (the second time, after finding the secret code).

Enjoyable and not too stressful. I don’t think I’ll be able to track down the last few things I’m missing to get from 95 to 100%, but it was fun getting as far as I did.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Step back in time

A spoiler free, hopefully, entry in my diary here because I know how important no spoilers are in this series. Which is why when I was streaming it I was a bit annoyed to have someone send me a message containing a massive spoiler. Luckily, I didn’t check messages until after I’d passed the reveal but still… why do people do this?

Anyway. I was back in Arcadia Bay! Literally before the storm, but in fact before Max came back and before Rachel Amber disappeared. We know how that ended up, and Chloe didn’t, so I’m not sure where the story is going to go here.

In Episode 1, Chloe and Amber first become friends, but very little of seeming importance happens (bar the spoiler). Chloe goes to school, plays a bit of D&D, skips school, winds up her mum’s boyfriend, stays out late and generally is the embodiment of angst. Without Max’s rewind powers, the game’s gimmick instead involves Chloe’s mouth – she can get her own way by smacktalking people using a mechanic not unlike the fights in Monkey Island. It’s a bit jarring at first but makes sense after a few.

Unfortunately, they’ve replaced Chloe’s voice actress with someone who isn’t bad, but absolutely isn’t Chloe so the whole game feels wrong. The music isn’t a patch on the soundtrack to the original game either, and it was just as important as the story there. There’s also a bug where the HUD is mostly off the screen so can’t be seen, and there’s no way, as far as I can make out, to fix this without buying a new TV.

Thankfully, although it took a while getting there, the story has taken off in Before the Storm and I’m on board for the rest and really want to see how it pans out.

So far then, it’s a B-Team Life is Strange, but I went in pretty much expecting that. If the story stays good, then that’ll be more than enough to justify its existence. Let’s hope so!

Spoilers follow in these two videos showing my playthrough:

Bye-Bye Box Boy! (3DS): COMPLETED!

*waves*

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.

Still excellent though.

Yellow (iOS): COMPLETED!

I wouldn’t even consider a Coldplay referen…oh. Dammit.

That podcast that I do, you know, the ugvm one? Well, Luffer was on it this week and he told us all about a mobile game called Yellow. It piqued my interest, despite being a mobile game, so today I looked it up and discovered it’s free. Free! Something I read said it was ad-supported, but I didn’t see any, so not sure how that works. Free!

It also does the other thing that negates the issues I have playing telephone games, buy having sensible, touch-screen usable controls. No virtual sticks and buttons here. Ticks all round.

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The game itself is a set of 50 puzzles where you have to turn the whole screen yellow. The thing is, you’re not told how to do this, and the puzzles are all different (with only a few sharing similar ideas). You have to not only work out what you’re supposed to do, but how to do it.

Some involve pressing shapes in order, others need you to move things around. There’s a Rubik’s Clock type one, a couple involving wordplay, and one with RGB sliders – only they’re not exactly RGB.

None of them are especially taxing, and the whole game is only around an hour long, but it was fun, and clever, and that’s more than enough a free game needs to be.