Things I’ve been playing recently

tumblr_n7udoirp541svmpf2o1_1280Euro Truck Simulator 2 (PC)

My first ever Steam Sale purchase! Sadly, it isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. The graphics are flatter and drabber than videos had led me to believe, the roads are samey and short, and you’ve little choice in the routes you have to take.

Still, driving all the cars off the road on the way to Belgium, then running down all the Belgians when you get there, never gets old.

tumblr_n7y3aztlhd1svmpf2o1_400Picross e4 (3DS)

Having completed Picross e3 recently, it was obvious e4 needed to be bought. It is, as you’d expect, just more of the same. More Picross. It has the Mega Picross puzzles from e3, and the Micross puzzles from e2 though, and certainly seems a much longer game than e3. So far the Mega Picross puzzles have been completely doable without resorting to educated guesses, so in all it’s a better game.

And you get 5 bonus puzzles for each of e, e2 and e3 that you already own too. I suspect they’re Mega Picross versions of “normal” Picross puzzles found in those games, as some seem familiar.

I’ve been jumping around the various modes so I can’t really say how much I’ve done so far, but perhaps a quarter overall?

Is_ita_bird_Is_it_a_fish_Nobody_really_knows.Pullblox World (Wii U)

It’s just like the 3DS version, only with different puzzles. Which is fine. It loses a little from not being in 3D, but gains a bit from a bigger screen. I’m almost certain that the 3DS game didn’t have an unlimited rewind too – it “ran out” – but here you can rewind all the way back to the start of your attempt regardless of how long you’ve spent on it.

It also appears that some of the levels are much bigger than in the original. Some are seemingly too big – as even zooming out doesn’t show half of it.

Apparently Pullblox World has something like 240 puzzles to get through. I’m on the final “page” of puzzles (with 10 on each page) right now, and completing them will total 120, so I’m not sure where the other 120 are…

StreetPass games (3DS)

The four additional StreetPass games are currently on offer (£8.99 for the lot, instead of about £15), so I bought them. I’ve exhaused Quest and Quest II, and apart from the occasional new picture, the puzzle game was finished long ago (and is quickly completed when there is a new one).

I’ve not spent ages on each so far, but some thoughts:

StreetPass Squad is a more than slightly enjoyable side-on shoot ’em up. StreetPass’d Miis provide different weapons for your not-at-all Opa-Opa cloned ship, and the levels are varied and fun.

StreetPass Garden is a surprisingly deep gardening simulator, where Miis help you grow flowers and harvest seeds from them, with new breeds and hybrids and stuff to collect. There are tasks to perform by growing certain types of flower, and all sorts of garden paraphernalia to collect. I hated it at first but it soon opens up into a more enjoyable game.

StreetPass Battle is like a cross between Janken and Risk, where you build up your troops (bolstered by StreetPass hits) and then take on other nations. How well you do is defined by how many troops and what sort of attack they use (in a Janken rock/paper/scissors type way). It’s very slow going though, building up your army to be big enough to defeat the next nation. Unless I’m missing something obvious.

StreetPass Mansion is part puzzle, part RPG where Miis you meet give you pieces of floor which you arrange in the mansion to create rooms. Put multiple pieces of the same colour together to make bigger rooms with better treasures, and put non-matching colours together to trigger battles where you fight ghosts. Your weapons can level up and be upgraded Fallout New Vegas style too. Lay enough floor tiles to reveal the stairs to the next floor. It’s really pretty good.

tumblr_n7ocn6ultr1svmpf2o1_400Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS)

Not doing too well in this at the moment. All my players are getting old and I’m unable to train up new players to replace them quickly enough. Also I’ve lost any chance of promotion from “The football icon” league, although I’m almost certain to end up in second place at, so I’m not too worried.

I’ve played a lot of online matches recently, mainly to farm cards, but I’ve been doing surprisingly well. Not enough to rise up the ranks much, but I’m certainly not dropping like I had been previously. Mind you, I’m picking my battles.

tumblr_n7w9sbxzkw1svmpf2o1_400Chibi-Robo: Let’s Go Photo! Demo (3DS)

I took a photo of my watch and it turned it into a badge. Then I cleaned up a kitchen with a sort of hoover thing, and chucked a load of rubbish in a robot bin blender thing. I had a conversation with a talking smartphone, and then wandered round a very small part of a very empty museum.

Which was all great. But I’m somewhat confused as to what all the cleaning up is for. One to wait for in a sale, I think. I’ll give it a miss at full price, not least due to having a trillion other games on the go at the moment.

tumblr_n7drd6fd641svmpf2o1_1280Theme Park (Mac)

Bought as part of the GOG sale, in a Bullfrog games pack. It’s as janky as I recall (although I mostly played the Amiga 1200 version, back in the day), slightly more so due to running under Dosbox.

I couldn’t remember how to research new things for ages, so only had the same few rides and shops for several game years. Then I remembered, but by then half my rides had exploded, everyone was too hungry and thirsty to stay, and nobody liked Vomit Park any more.

Then I screwed up salary negotiations and all my staff went on strike, during which the rest of my rides blew up.

All in all, rather successful, no?

Dear Esther (Mac): COMPLETED!

esther0027I’ve had this sat on my Mac’s hard drive for some time now, but being a non-console game it never crosses my mind to play it. Not least because connecting up a TV and a controller and so on… Today I had a couple of hours free and a game a couple of hours long was available, so Dear Esther came out.

First, I should point out this isn’t a game. I know there are people who would argue that it is, but it’s no more game than it is fish. It’s a story wrapped in a mostly linear walk around an island. A confusing, broken story relayed out of order in paragraphs both lucid and on the edge of insanity. Walking to various places triggers a section of plot, and eventually your wandering leads you to the radio mast you can see in the distance from the very start of the game.

paul0033And there it ends. Along the way, if you’re lucky, your exploration will reveal a little about who you are, who Esther is, and why you’re on the island. Or it won’t, as these story snippets are apparently random.

I think I found enough to make a sense of the proceedings. Perhaps not the sense, but I can certainly make some organisation of the information my playthrough revealed. Er, not playthrough. As that implies a game. Which this isn’t. No, really – you do no game stuff.

jakobson0017But was it good? I don’t know. I’m glad I experienced it (narrowly avoided saying played there), and it was pretty and clever, but I’m not sure how much more I got out of it via this medium rather than by just reading a short story. It didn’t help that you move so slowly, artificially extending the length of the notgame. It took me only about an hour and a half in total, and even though the vistas were nice and the cave drawings and chalk scrawlings added a little, I think I’d have preferred more wordy exposition in that time, or less time.

Civilisation V (Mac): COMPLETED!

We could go into a long discussion about how Civ Rev was only considered completed when I’d achieved a victory with each and every nation, whereas with Civ V I’m counting it after a single victory, but I’ll counter all that with two points:

  1. It took ELEVEN HOURS to win ONCE. I ain’t doing all 30-odd.
  2. My rules. *raspberry*

As you can see, I won through peace rather than ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION. As it turns out, in my rush to improve all the science, I’d actually reached the Modern and Future eras well before anyone else, so my few skirmishes were mainly my rocket artillery against some men with bows and arrows. I could have wiped everyone out after all. Oh well!

Civilisation V (Mac)

You know how I don’t play computer games? WRONG.

A couple of weeks ago I blagged a copy of Civilisation V (note “s”) from someone who had a spare copy on Steam. He said I could only have it if I promised to actually play it, so I did.

In actuality, I’d already bought it. Stupidly, I’d tied it to a Steam account I couldn’t access, so got it refunded, but I still wanted the game. The price then went up from £5 to £25 so I Banntyned it. Until now!

I do love Civ. A lot. I used to play the original a lot on my Amiga, and Civilisation II is one of very few games I ever actually bought for my PC. I liked Civ III, and Alpha Centuri was excellent too, if slightly different. Civ IV I only ever played as a Mac demo (I’d stopped playing computer games by then), and I’ve dabbled with FreeCiv over the years as well.

Oh, and the excellent Civilisation Revolution of course. Civ Rev is my most recently played Civ, and it’s much simpler, faster, and less serious than Civ V, which was a little jarring when I starting playing the new one this week.

After a couple of hours, though, I was back in the swing of things. In fact, in all these years, very little has actually changed. There are a couple of new types of victory, some resources are now finite (which was confusing at first, when I had no idea why I couldn’t build anything that needed iron or horses), and most importantly, the game grid is now made up of hexagons instead of squares.

OK, so that doesn’t make a massive difference. It just means there are no diagonals any more, so the number of spaces you can move isn’t affected by going diagonally.

After a slow start, where my Japanese nation didn’t seem to do very much for a good two hours or more, I finally settled a second city and built up an army capable of wiping out my nearest neighbour – Rome – and another Roman city just down the road. A couple of hours later, I took out the city-state (they’re new too, I think) of Geneva, and then returned to a peaceful existence, building many Wonders and trying to boost my Science and Culture – either of which is likely to be my route to victory. I got bothered by the Germans for a while, but nothing serious.

It’s horribly addictive. And awesome.

Spore Creature Creator Demo (Mac)

Look! I made stupid things!

This is Hoppy:

And this is Steve:

Here’s Steve doing something:

And here’s a nice photo of Steve:

Civilization IV (Demo) (Mac)

I didn’t mean to play it, as I was using it to test my graphics card. But I ended up “testing” for 45 minutes – which is 100 turns and the full duration of the demo. Oops.

Second Life (Mac)

I stumbled across this just now and found there was a Mac version. Downloaded it then, and played it for about half an hour.

Um, am I missing the point, or can you do nothing but chat and walk round a tiny island?

And why is everyone naked?