Things I’ve been playing recently

tumblr_n1ad5ghslg1svmpf2o1_400Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)

Have I posted about this yet? I can’t remember. It’s the main game-on-the-go-that-isn’t-called-Animal-Crossing on my 3DS at the moment, having started it soon after finishing off Zelda. So far, it’s a slight deviation from previous Layton games, as there are a lot of locations and travel between them. This makes the game seem a lot bigger, but as you’ve the option of finishing up several of the locations in any order (or at least, it seems that way) so it feels almost open world.

In addition, there are millions of downloadable puzzles this time round. Possibly literally. I’ve spent a few hours on those as well.

This_game_is_too_hard._Well__not_this_exact_bit__but_in_general.Bit.trip Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U)

In between bouts of Duck Tales (Woo-oo) I’ve been running (ha!) through this. It is so very, very hard. Leaving it for a couple of weeks and coming back is not a good idea, as you forget all the controls. Still, an hour or so’s play and it mostly comes back, and I’ve managed to reach world 4. Or 5? Yes, 5. Which I think might be the final world! The end is in sight!

Best_game_ever.Advanced Lawnmower Simulator Advance (GBA)

Actually, I’ve been playing it on an emulator on the iPhone. There’s one called GBA4iOS which you can install without jailbreaking and you don’t go through the App Store, which makes me think it’s just going to vanish one day, but until then… Advanced Lawnmower Simulator Advance is there.

It’s the best game ever, which of course I would say because 1) it is, and 2) I wrote it. Marvellous.

tumblr_n13xxprbyk1svmpf2o1_400Steel Diver: Sub Wars (3DS)

This nice little FPS in slow motion (submarines aren’t known for their speed and manoeuvrability)  is, for the cut-down version at least, free on the 3DS eShop, and was a surprise offering during last week’s Nintendo Direct.

I’ve not played a lot of it yet, but it seems fun enough.

Gauntlet (GBA)

The other half of Gauntlet and Rampart, obviously.

And, like Rampart, it’s an excellent conversion even on a very small screen. I did get stuck on Level 14 though – I had a pocket full of keys (© The Rock) but had to pick up another to progress. But I couldn’t. Thankfully, the old hang-around-for-a-few-minutes trick worked and the walls all turned to exits.

Rampart (GBA)

Another of the Play Asia package today. This one is actually one half of the “Gauntlet and Rampart” double game cartridge (which, at the time of typing, you can get for a bargainous £5 from here).

And? It is, as it always was, ace. I remember I was on holiday with a friend one summer and we walked three miles to the nearest arcade just to play this. It loses a little with just one player, but still plays fantastically (even on a Game Boy Micro’s screen!). I managed to win five “levels”, before being unable to finish the sixth.

Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis (GBA)

This arrived in the post today, along with some other stuff, from Play Asia. And, since ugvm Retro Week has been extended into this week, it was ideal for playing!

Or so I thought. It turns out that in the process of simply porting the original Megadrive Sonic game to the GBA, Sega couldn’t help but rape my childhood memories by making it worse than those shoddy “fan-made” Flash-based Sonic games. It has more issues than a journal library. Par example:

1) You only get to see around 60% of the screen. The edges have been trimmed to fit the GBA. Not a huge issue if you know the layout of the levels off by heart (like me), but it means far too many leaps-of-faith and running-off-the-edge-of-things otherwise.

2) Horrific slowdown. Even when the screen isn’t busy, the game will slow down for seemingly no reason.

3) Inconsistent scroll speeds. Scrolling up and down is twice as quick as left and right. Or perhaps it’s just Sonic moves twice as quick when jumping? Either way, he doesn’t control like Sonic any more.

4) Things don’t draw in. You know the edges of the platforms in Green Hill that crumble when you stand on them? Sometimes they’re not there. But you can stand on them, and they crumble under you, but you can only see them as they crumble. The swinging platform on Green Hill Act 2 vanished while I was standing on it too.

5) Things simply aren’t there. You know the baddie in the air when you fly up into all those rings after the tunnel bit on Green Hill Act 1? The one you generally rebound off and aim back left to get more of the rings? Gone. Not just “not drawn in” – he’s gone.

6) The sound effects are broken. Some of them simply aren’t there. Others sound out of tune. Some sound completely wrong.

7) The music is awful. It’s like some 12 year old has “rerecorded” the original tracks using a dodgy midi sequencer.

8) The special stages are impossible. They run three times faster than the rest of the game. And no, it isn’t just 50 vs 60Hz issues – they’re WAY faster. And there’s the smaller viewport to contend with too.

Basically: Fuck off, Sega.

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA): COMPLETED!

World 11 was, in fact, the final world. Dark Castle and all!

As expected of the final world, many of the levels sort of repeated some of the puzzles and routines of previous levels, although obviously mixed up a bit. Thankfully, there was no SuckySuck(TM) bit either. The end boss, however, did do the usual trick of dying, only to change form and regain all his energy – twice. I wasn’t too bothered though, as each form was very different, none were especially hard, and if you died (and I did three or four times) you didn’t have to start from the beginning again. And you healed fully after each transformation too, making it fair. Hurrah, eh?

And then it was all over. I killed his final form, rescued someone who appeared to be my dad (a previous starfish “hero”, it seems), and banished the boss to a pot with a face on. However, my clam friend accidentally dropped the pot during the end of game sequence and let him out again. Tch.

Overall then, it was a great little platformer. It had a few irritations, e.g lots of similar sections – the dragon flying, balloon riding, fish surfing, and koala jumping bits especially – were reused a lot, albeit differently each time. Also, some of the puzzles were impossible to solve due to being in Japanese, but luckily trial-and-error won through. That’s not really the game’s fault, obviously, but why haven’t Nintendo released any of the Stafi series (of which there are four games) over in the UK? Now I just need to find copies of 1 and 3 in the set, and play through 4 on the DS!

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

It seems that World 8 (my next “most likely last level”) wasn’t the final world either, even though it was a castle. It was actually the castle of goodies, not baddies, so clearly there was more to do.

I’ve got a few more power-ups now too – a double jump (finally!), and a more powerful, and faster, dash-spin-kill attack thing. Of course, the game fights back to negate some of these when it can with stronger water currents, wind, and higher platforms. As is the way with platformers!

World 10 wasn’t the final world either, so my Platform Game Senses would dictate that World 12 would be the next likely candidate, but World 11 (which I’ve reached but not started) is a giant dark castle, seemingly set in space. Double whammy! Pretty much has to be the final world now, yes?

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

Didn’t play this for that long today, although I did manage to get as far as World 6-3. It’s still not getting very difficult, but it’s slowly getting more complicated, if you see what I mean. The puzzles (and most levels have at least one) are getting more involved, and I’ve had to solve a couple with trial-and-error simply because I can’t understand what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

I was under the impression (although I don’t know where I got this idea from) that there are six worlds. Well, World Six is too happy and bouncy to be the last level. One of the Rules of Platform Games is that the final level/world/area is a castle, an enemy base, or set in space. Or a combination of them all – not some sort of garden with smiling flowers. Or something.

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

This really is a most excellent platformer, you know, even though I fear I’m missing out on some totally riveting storyline with the amount of Japanese dialogue going on.

Progressed past World 4, killing the Ice/Fire Dragon boss at the end that was somewhat heat bi-polar, and now I’m into Tree Tops World (World 5). Yes, a starfish in the trees, which are conveniently full of water and stuff. I’ve gained the ability to double-jump now too.

I did have a few bizarre “smack four things in order” puzzles to contend with, and no idea which order to smack them. Managed two by trial and error, and my wife solved the third one for me.

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

After playing Hide and Seek with some small turtles (or whatever they are), it was time to move on to killing the boss at the end of World 3. It was a thing riding a giant moth.

Like the previous bosses, it was pretty easy, and I was soon onto World 4, which is Ice World. So lots of falling ice spikes and slippy floors.

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

You know, this is a deceptively deep platformer. In between the platforming and swimming, there are puzzles, spikes (and stars to collect) trapped in blocks you destroy, and a pretty large array of moves. Who knew a starfish could be so agile?

I’m up to 3-3 now, and I seem to be hopping around the back of a giant turtle. You know, as you do.

Densetsu no Stafi 2 (GBA)

I already have, and have played a little of, the 4th game in this series. I was hoping to start with the first game, but can’t get it for under a million pounds, and this was about 9p on Play Asia a while ago so I picked it up.

It’s a cute platformer with some puzzley elements and collection, and many of the levels involve some sort of quest.

So far, I’m on level 2-2, having just collected some furniture for a fish. Including a chair. For a fish.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA): COMPLETED!

So I went rummaging around for three books that Mina suggested I might need. I actually had one already, and the other two were found pretty easily once I’d taken a good look at the map. I found another boss (Legion) who was alarmingly easy to kill, and then got another soul or three.

After all that, I had the books required, and the three souls it was suggested I equip (Flame Armour, Succabus, and Giant Bat – all traits of Dracula, if you think about it…), so I set them all up and went after Graham again. He was even easier to kill than last time! Not least because the Succabus soul gives you HP each time you get a hit in. Oh, and I was on Level 39 instead of 32 or something too.

Then a thing happened that I won’t say as it’s a spoiler, and then instead of the game being over, I could carry on playing. Got another soul and some better armour from the room just past Graham, then set off to the black mist door (with the floating garden baddies now complete walkovers – even the huge Devil which previously took a billion hits), where I had to fight Julius. He wasn’t easy at all, as it turned out, and I used just about all my potions on him. Managed it though, then retreated back to Hammer to get more supplies, saved my game, then stepped into the Quantum Leap acceleratorwarp to Chaos and vanished.

Soma awoke to find himself trapped in the pastin a twisted version of the castle, where going from one room to another seemed to warp him around the various areas I’d previously been through. It almost became a SuckySuck(TM) bit, as there were loads of previous bosses, but since they’re all really weak now, or I could just skip them (flying bat powaz FTW), I won’t complain.

Then Chaos came. And he was easy. Like, realy easy. OK – not as easy as Dracula at the end of Harmony of Dissonance, but still pretty simple to beat. And the game was over – properly this time, with the happy ending and everything!

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Bossaroo! Did the third boss-room-that-isn’t-a-boss first of all today, and then moved on to the actual next boss. At first, it seemed like it was going to be a giant bat, but then a huge hand came out of nowhere and squashed the bat, killing it.

Instead, I had to kill the two hands and two eyes of a, uh, thing. Balgone? Something like that anyway. It was actually pretty easy once I’d sussed the fact you could jump on the hands as long as they weren’t swiping.

Then I got a soul to turn me into a bat, opening up more areas of the map. Went and got all the small areas I’d previously been unable to get to done first, before moving on to a new area with some really hard baddies in (flying things with pitchforks, succabuses, harder versions of previous bosses, etc.) and found a save point in a tower. Then, found another boss – Graham.

He did Dracula’s classic “warp then shoot fireballs” attack at first, and then morphed into a huge thing with grabby hands and a storm cloud thing. He seemed impossible, until I realised you could tell which hand was going to grab at you, so you got a chance to dodge. So I killed him, and then the credits came up and the game was complete!

So why no “COMPLETED!” in the title of this post? Because I think the game is lying. The end boss seemed too easy (although, that was also the case with Harmony of Dissonace), but also I’m only at 86% of the castle complete, there’s that swirly black door thing to get past yet, and the ending didn’t seem quite “right”. Also, it didn’t unlock any other modes, unlike every other recent Castlevania game does. So there’s more, kiddies!

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Death = DEAD! Well, sort of. He got sucked into some sort of whirlpool thing. I’d got the lightning doll soul, which really helps, and gone up a couple of levels. In the room just past Death was a soul giving me the power to swim (I guess Soma never got his bronze swimming certificate), so off I went into the waterways in the bottom of the map.

Found lots of new baddies, souls, weapons (I now have an ice sword which is way more powerful than the hrunting), and a ring. Did get a bit stuck though, but eventually found my way into a new area with loads of beam skeletons and stuff.

And then, I found not one, but two boss doors. Neither of which had a boss behind them, instead having a difficult room each and a weapon and armour at the end of each. Did those, and levelled up a bit more. I’m now on Level 28.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Well. It looks like Death is the next boss after all. I spent ages exploring every single part of the map that I could get to, and found some more weapons, potions and armour (and collected a few souls along the way), but found no other bosses.

Now I have to traipse half-way around the castle again to get back to him! Bah.