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.

Universal Paperclips (Web): COMPLETED!

Click click click click clickclickclickclick CLICK CLICK CLICK clickclick CLICK CLICK etc.

It’s one of those clicker games, only this one plays out in several phases. First, there’s the Grow Your Paperclip Making Empire, then there’s Take Over The Earth With Paperclips, and finally, The Universe Needs Paperclips. They’re my names, by the way.

Across these three phases, instead of just one “currency”, there are a number that build up different things or make your production more effective. It adds a bit more to the proceedings than your usual clicker game, and in fact – relatively at least – there’s not actually that much clicking. It’s happier for the most part just idling while you click every so often to spend what you’ve earned.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but it’s worth a play through at least. Which you can do so here, for free.

R-Type Dimensions (PS3): COMPLETED!

R-Type Loading Error

Well that came out of nowhere and has now gone whence it came very soon afterwards.

R-Type Dimensions is one of this month’s PS+ titles, and since my daughter stole the Switch this evening I thought I’d have a look. And I looked, and played, and completed it.

It’s R-Type, as in, the original arcade game. Only you can press R1 and swap between original graphics and music, and new graphics (a new art type, if you will, oh ho ho ho) and music – much like how you can with the Monkey Island remaster and Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. As it’s just the original game, it’s short and it’s impossible.

R-Type was always too hard for me to complete, but it’s one of a relatively small number of games in the genre that I enjoy. Thankfully, you get infinite lives here, and I needed over a hundred of them to complete the eight levels. It was fun. Some of the baddies are impossible to hit. And that’s that.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a hard one. Well, not hard in that way (the game is easy – very easy), but hard in how I feel about it.

Unlike pretty much every Mario game ever, Super Mario Odyssey didn’t instantly grab me. Perhaps it was the terrible looking first “world”. Maybe it was the stark art style changes between worlds. I don’t know. Definitely, I started enjoying it in my first hour – but other games in the series I was hooked from the second the game started.

Now I’ve completed it, insofar as beaten Bowser and reached the credits, I can look back and see Odyssey is excellent. But not perfect. And certainly not the best Mario game. I’m feeling a lot like I did when I played Breath of the Wild, actually.

There’s just something missing. A spark of something. Something which Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine had which is missing here. Yes, I’m saying Super Mario Sunshine is better than Super Mario Odyssey. Super Mario 3D World is too. And so is New Super Mario Bros U, but 2D Mario games are a different beast.

On paper, it’s all there. Blue skies, great platforming, throwback references, varied levels, secrets, post-credits content, the very best controls – the lot. In my hands, it’s a bit flat, a bit off, a bit… wrong. But I can’t put my finger on it.

Remembering the few days I’ve been playing it, very few parts of the game stand out in the way I can fondly reminisce about the clock or the flying carpet or the Koopa race or the penguins or the wing hat or any one of a thousand other things from Mario 64. I know I’ve not played it as much as that game, but aside from the (spoiler) boss in the ruined castle, there hasn’t been anything that wowed me.

It’s probably me.

And it’s so easy. Really, really easy. Again, I’m aware the challenge of Mario games is mainly to get 100% and the straightforward route to the boss is not the hardest path, but I’ve picked up around half of the moons on each level so far and just one of them caused multiple deaths. It’s the easiest Mario game by a long way.

All that said, and I’m sure most people will disagree with my comments, but all that said, it’s a great game. One of the best. It really is. Nothing I can say can detract from that. I think I was just expecting Mario Odyssey to be a contender for the Best Game Ever Made, and in my eyes it isn’t even top 5 Best Mario Games (yet, at least). But that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be.

80 Days (Mac): COMPLETED!

“That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!”

This was a continuation of a playthrough, my first playthrough in fact, from several months ago that I forgot to continue. Previously on 80 Days, I’d managed to get a train into a dead end somewhere in the American east, and had to head north-west into Canada to find another route.

With some bad luck, I boarded an airship from New York that was heading for Reykjavik since the route to London direct was far too expensive and there wasn’t enough time to obtain the necessary funds. This airship was slow, however, and I had to ditch all our luggage to board – I was hoping this wasn’t an issue as we were nearly home!

Once in Reykjavik, there was another airship heading to London which I mistimed while unnecessarily (as it turned out) obtaining money from the bank, and so a later trip was taken. A three day journey on day 77 – would I make it?

Of course I would. Just!

(Oh, and you can view my journey on the inkle website, here)

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (PS4): COMPLETED!

Something may something forks something something.

Some general points:

  1. Lego Star The Force Awakens Wars
  2. Shortest Lego Game Ever
  3. BB8

Taking point 2, my daughter and I completed it – just the story mind – in less than ten hours. Less than ten. For a Lego game. That’s the shortest I’ve ever played by some margin, and we got stuck in a hangar on one level for over an hour because neither of us had seen a thing to jump and hang from.

I’m no snob over the length of games, but even The Lego Movie The Video Game Movie Lego Game was 15 or 18 or something. And, yes, there are extra levels unlocked (although we’ve done the rathtar hunting one already) and levels and worlds to go back to to get the rest of the gold bricks and things… but ten hours?

Ten hours.

The third point, is because my daughter wants to be BB8 now. For real. Because of course she does.

Neither of us are fans of Star Wars. I’ve only seen the first 5 films 1 and part of Phantom Menace 2 but Lego wins out, as always. It wasn’t as much fun as Lego City Undercover, though, but little is. The two new mechanics added to the game actually make it worse. The first is how bricks can now build two or more objects. Odds are, you’ll build the wrong one first. The second is Gears of War style cover shooter sections. Nah, mate.

Still, we’ll be 100%ing it. And then we’ll be on the look out for the next Lego game!

Notes:

  1. You heard.
  2. The sixth one.

Hitman (PS4): COMPLETED!

Hiding in plain sight.

This was a surprising amount of fun. I loved all the different ways you can murder your targets, some by brute force, some by taking the time to learn how to make use of their schedules or weaknesses. Poisoning their food, laying explosives on their route, or setting traps for them to essentially kill themselves.

The episodes were all pretty varied, with some humourous people to meet and quirks to take advantage of. In particular, I liked messing with the guy in Colorado’s OCD, forcing him to calm down by partaking of a cigarette I’d laced with hallucinogenic drugs.

I’m almost certain I’ll return to the game to try some alternative methods of bumping the targets off, even if just to mess around with the game a bit.

Oh, and it has some incredible toilets. Very important, that.

If you want to watch my complete playthrough, with all two thousand game reloads, then you can here:

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Everything is oresome.

I’m a big fan of the first SteamWorld Dig. I’ve bought and completed it twice, in fact. The “digging genre”, such as it is, has always appealed to me. Ever since playing a demo of Diggers on the Acorn at high school, I’ve been drawn to them – Mr Driller, Miner Dig Deep, and SteamWorld Dig being the headliners.

SteamWorld Dig 2 was a thought-free instant purchase then, but if I’d not bought it the overwhelmingly positive reviews would have made it difficult to resist.

A cursory glance of the game shows little has changed since the first title. You’re a steambot (although not Rusty any more – he’s gone missing), and you have to dig down in a mine. The more you dig, the more you need upgrades to assist. However, after you’ve played it for a bit you realised it’s not just about depth – there’s more to explore here.

Instead of a single shaft, there are a number of separate – albeit linked – areas, each themed. A more powerful axe is less important this time around, with rocket boots and a grappling hook becoming the essential tools for getting around. Larger, more open spaces replace much of cramped mining, but there’s always something, and some reason, to dig.

Smaller rooms, filled with puzzles or navigational challenges, pock the mine and reward you with items that further boost your skills. Cogs can augment your abilities over and above the standard bought upgrades, reducing water use or making your pressure grenades more powerful, for example.

The gameplay is perfect. After every “run”, usually when you’ve found another return tube (which acts as a warp point), you sell your ore and gems, bump your powers up with the money and cogs, then return “just to get to the next tube”. And the next tube. And the next tube. It’s addictive, and soon enough eight hours have passed and I’ve completed the game.

But still there’s more. My completion stats say I’m just 53% done, and Image & Form tell me there’s a whole extra section if I make it to 100. So of course, I’m going to make it to 100%.

Persona 4 Golden (Vita): COMPLETED!

Someone finish it off!

I did wonder, three years ago when I bought Persona 4 Golden, whether I’d ever end up completing it. It was on the Vita, which I didn’t play. Supposedly it was a hundred hours long. It felt, some 15 hours in, like I was still in the tutorial. There were so many other games.

It fell by the wayside, despite me enjoying it. Then, around four months ago, I went back. I could have started from the beginning again, and perhaps, with hindsight, maybe I should have done, but after one hundred hours I’d completed it. Persona 4 Golden was great.

Persona 4 Golden

When I’d paused on it way back when, I was struggling to comprehend the Persona system. I wasn’t really enjoying the pressure to save people from the fog before the days ran out. Building social links seemed unimportant and there were better things I should be spending my time doing. How wrong I was.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Wii U game Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE gave me a better understanding. It’s the same sort of game (in fact, it’s a spin off of the same core series Persona is), but with everything simplified. Not easier, just less complicated. This worked in my favour – easing me into the Persona way of doing things. Going back to Persona 4 Golden with this knowledge let me concentrate on the differences, and I took to the Social Links properly, soon reaping the benefits.

The core game is pretty standard JRPG faire. Wander dungeons, fight baddies in turn based and element-sensitive combat. Level up. Fight harder baddies. And so on. If this was all of the game, it’d be pretty uninteresting, but the the interactions between dungeons add several layers to it. Not just story, but interest, secrets and humour. The characters are wonderful and full of depth, especially those who open up as you advance your relationship with them.

Speaking of relationships, it seems that most of the girls in the game can become romantically linked to you. Quite early on your mate Yosuke quizzes you on whether you prefer quiet and clever Yokiko or tomboyish but shy Chie. I picked Chie, and although you don’t actively pursue anyone, some time later my dialogue choices netted me her as a girlfriend. Which was great, until I decided to hug Rise because she was crying (the alternative was literally to stand there and watch) and suddenly I was a two-timing tart. Oops.

Over the course of a year (in the game), your team expands as you rescue more people from the fog. Teddie, Kanji and Naoto are added to your dungeoning party, although I never really bothered to enlist them. As time progresses you close in on who is responsible for the kidnappings and deaths although naturally, the obvious culprit isn’t to blame. In fact, nor are several other people, including three who actually confess. There are a number of endings, presumably bad if you miss the real villain.

I avoided some because I’d already realised that the obvious ending wasn’t the true ending, and then stumbled past another false accusation: There are a number of dialogue options you need to choose and luckily I picked the right ones to progress. I’d also been tipped off that I’d need to max out Marie’s Social Link, so having managed all that the final dungeon was revealed and upon completion, the true ending.

Or so I thought. Until I was corrected on Twitter and it seems I’d missed a further revelation. A reload, a careful conversation with everyone and an exploration of everywhere, and finally, the final final dungeon. And the Real True Ending Honest This Time No Really.

Persona 4 Golden feels like a teen drama mixed with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Love Hina, and Eerie Indiana. It’s emotional, surprising, with tonnes of firepower. Funzo, in game form. At times, it’s confusing. Or it’s addictive, stressful, funny and disappointing. Not being able to complete your planned dates, book reads, shopping or cinema trips because you’re panicking you have to kill some demons in time can annoy you, because who wants time management and a diary in a game? Eventually I realised that there’s time for most things, and getting The Important Stuff Done isn’t too hard. It’s an incredible game.

Now I don’t know what to do. Four solid months of Persona is a lot to give up. There’s New Game+ of course, but that’s not really more Persona. There’s Persona 5, but that’s not on a portable console so wouldn’t get half the attention this did. I’m tempted to go back to Tokyo Mirage, but then I look at the backlog of titles 100 hours of Persona caused, so who knows.

Data Wing (iOS): COMPLETED!

Winging it.

I’ve mentioned before, but I don’t often play games on my phone. Sometimes, though, one comes to my attention. Like Data Wing did.

Data Wing feels like a cross between Super Sprint, Thrust and escapeVector. You control a dart shaped object – supposedly a data carrier in a computer system – by pressing the left or right of the screen to steer. Simple controls, so workable on a touch screen!


Levels vary between reaching the exit in a fast enough time, racing other darts, finding keys, navigating through heavy gravity, and so on. Skimming the walls with your dart increases your speed, and some areas boost you, slow you down, or  strip you of control temporarily.

There’s a story about a process in the computer, Mother, wanting to use you to become a real human, and a possibly reformed malware entity who suspects Mother might not be all she appears. You can also collect files that contain message fragments from the computer’s owner, revealing another story there.

Data Wing is a simple, short but excellently executed and fun little flying/racing title. And current, it is totally free. Free! Not even any adverts or anything. Amazing.

Guitar Hero Live (PS4): COMPLETED!

Gitaroo Man

As in, the main mode completed. As in, all the tracks unlocked, played and finished in each of the festival sets.

Things that I liked about this version of Guitar Hero: The new fret button layout is actually better than the old one.

Things that I didn’t like about this version of Guitar Hero: Most of the other stuff.

The tracklist is terrible. Yes, GHTV sort of makes up for it with it’s constant stream of mostly poor quality (and wrong aspect ratio) music videos, but even the music catalogue here isn’t a patch on previous games in the series. There are some big names – but not their best, biggest, most guitar-y tracks. It’s very disappointing.

Also, in GHTV mode, the controls seem to be very unresponsive. I didn’t have a single issue in Live mode (the “story” mode), but strums often failed to register on GHTV. The guitar completely disconnected once!

It only cost me £15 so I’m not too bothered by all the negatives, and there’s enough good in it to make it worth that much anyway.

Sonic Mania (Switch): COMPLETED!

Sanic

Just a short post about this, because I’ll be writing a full review in due course, but oh my. It’s good. After so many letdowns and missteps, Sega have finally come up with a truly fantastic Sonic game. Only they didn’t, did they? A team of fans did instead. Tch, eh?

I love the new takes on old zones, new versions of old bosses, new remixes of old music. Levels which are mashups of old levels. New levels which feel like they are from old Sonic games but aren’t. It’s all exactly what I wanted from a new Sonic game.

Sonci Mania

There are a few later zones which don’t feel quite as good as earlier ones, and a handful of bugs, but it’s nigh on perfect. Well done to all concerned.

And yes, I bought it, played it, and completed it in a single day. I’d avoided all media to do with the game since they started revealing zones and features, so almost every level was a complete surprise. Even those I knew about had surprises. Lovely.

Now to get all the Chaos Emeralds. Which is Hard.

Virtua Fighter 2 (PSP): COMPLETED!

Polygone.

Sort of prompted by the Virtua Fighter article in the current issue of Retro Gamer, when I opened up Mega Drive Collection for the PSP – on my Vita – I decided to play this.

It’s crap.

No, it’s really pretty awful. The animation is terrible, the controls are unresponsive, and the implementation of the game on the Vita/PSP is woeful, with horrendous slowdown and sound syncing issues.

It looks nice. But then everything moves and you wonder what the hell Sega were thinking when they thought the Mega Drive was a good fit for a Virtua Fighter 2 port. It didn’t have the oomph to push enough polygons, so they rendered the animation frames with sprites instead. Leaving a poorly animated version of the game and awful sprites that are laughable beside Street Fighter II or even Eternal Champions.

I completed it as Jacky, by the way.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch): COMPLETED!

The impression that I get.

A couple of years ago, there was a game called Mighty Gunvolt. It was a sort of 8bit demake of Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Mega Man-inspired game that it came free with. It was great. Short, but great. Recently, they made this sequel – Mighty Gunvolt Burst.

Still 8bit in style, but boasting more levels and a really deep customisable weapon and ability system, it improves on the original in almost every way.

As you play, you find extra moves and modifications for your weapons. You can use them in any combination, but each costs points to do so. You have the situation where you might need to decide if you’re prepared to have slower, less powerful shots so you’re able to double jump. Or maybe really powerful shots that are homing, but in order to pay for it you have to decrease your defence. You can earn more points, but invariably you never have quite enough for your perfect loadout!

There are two characters to play as: Gunvolt, from the original game, and Beck, from Mighty No.9. Gunvolt has fewer weapon customisation options than Beck, but Beck doesn’t have a multiple jump or any special weapons. I’ve completed the game as both now, and prefer Gunvolt.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst is still quite a short game, but there’s replay value (you have to finish each level at least three times as each character in order to unlock everything) and it’s substantially bigger than Mighty Gunvolt was. I’ve put around 7 hours into it so far, whereas I’d nearly 100%ed the first game in just two.

I’m now really looking forward to the Azure Striker Gunvolt and Gunvolt 2 double pack that’s supposedly coming to the Switch next month. I’ve played the original, of course, but not any of the DLC and for some reason never picked up the sequel. I definitely will be now!

Plantera DX (Switch): COMPLETED!

Buying the farm.

At least, I’m classing Plantera DX as completed. I’m at the point now, at around level 155 or so, that there are diminishing returns. It takes more than a whole day’s play (or leave it for that long to generate money) to get enough cash to either expand the farm or buy the next multiplier upgrade. Doing so barely speeds up the money generation, yet the next expansion or upgrade is even more expensive.

What I’m saying, is, that upgrades are getting further away at a faster rate than money generation is speeding up.

I was going to stop when I had all the achievements, but they’re broken so I can’t. For example, one is to plant 100 trees in total. Not at the same time (the devs have specifically stated that) which is just as well as I’d have to be on level 1000 or something for that to be possible, just in total. You can bin and re-plant trees. So I did that. In one play session, I planted more than 200 trees. No achievement. I’ve planted over 400 in total, but supposedly only need 100. The same goes for bushes, plants and animals – I’ve gone way over 100, but no achievement.

I do have everything unlocked, though, so there’s that. I’m probably still going to play it a bit more too. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s done. Complete.