You know,”Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist” takes almost as long to say as the game does to play. On my first playthrough, I clocking in at just 23 minutes, and it would seem that’s pretty slow.
The title is also somewhat trolling. “Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist” contains exactly none of these things, except perhaps a tiger (although you never see it), since it’s actually set in a sort of behind the scenes area, backstage as if the game in the title is actually being played out for real by someone else (and you can’t play because they’re busy playing themselves).
Which sets you up for one of those mostly puzzle free “walking simulators” which are a thing now and have a terrible genre title. Simon Amstell talks you through the events as they unfold in his usual sarcastic and seemingly inept style, while you assist in the runthrough of the game itself – pressing buttons and so on.
Not a lot happens, although replaying it is on the cards to nab some achievements (which are, after two updates, still bugged and I can’t get most of them) and listen to some actually properly funny cassette tapes purporting to be a developer’s commentary (but… aren’t). The current most recent update added a load of pretzels to find, for no discernible reason, too.
Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist is free, humourous, and definitely worth a play. I do get the impression, however, that it’s a setup for the actual game in the title though, which may or may not appear at some point.
And here’s a video of me completing it, so, you know, spoilers and that.
Way back in the primordial past, when games were made from rocks and cost as much as a family car to buy, there was a game called Deus Ex Machina. I’ve never played it. I’ve read a lot about it, none of which makes any sense. From what I can discern, it was more an experience than a game, and consisted of some minigames that you played while listening to an audio tape. Because, of course, voices in early 1980s computer games were limited to “HNNGHSLUMMMNDMUH” (“he slimed me”) in the Ghostbusters game.
A couple of years ago, the creator of Deus Ex Machina (note the “Machina” bit – this has nothing to do with any cyberpunk first person shooters), Mel Croucher, Kickstarted a sequel. I gather it’s actually more of a re-realisation of the first game than a real sequel, using today’s technology to create what he imagined the game to be in the first place. Probably.
This week, it was cheap enough to be virtually free on Steam, and since I had credit gained from selling trading cards, it actually was free to me, so I bought it. I had no idea what I was in for. Having completed it in just over an hour, I’m still not entirely sure.
There are several chapters, each covering a different stage in a person’s life. Conception, birth, growing up, puberty, and so on until (and past) death. Christopher Lee poetically narrates the story, and each chapter has a fantastic and differently styled musical track to accompany it. Notably, Ian Dury provides lyrics and voice to some of these, despite having been dead for over a decade. I suspect his recordings from the original game were reused.
It’s the music and narration that make the game, as both are genuinely outstanding. Croucher’s clever verses make some great tracks, and the vocalists and musicians make music I’d happily buy on an album. Lee’s voice fits excellently as well. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t match up.
Of course, I say game when I really mean experience. Each chapter mainly involves your naked avatar walking, floating, and sometimes running, into the screen. You can vaguely direct either him or something else on the screen in order to collect or avoid various things (kisses on one level, medicine on another). As you do so, your “degree of ideal entity” score goes up or down apparently in tune to what you’ve collected or avoided, although it is not always obvious which way it will go. I suspect it doesn’t matter; mine was bumped up to almost 100% through a successful egg fertilisation, but dropped heavily when I chose the non-warmongering options in a later section. Who knows what difference it makes to the ending.
As I said, your avatar is usually only vaguely directable so your impact on his path and ultimately his score feels disconnected. It’s clear you’re going to complete the game any way you play, even if you chose not to control your man at all. It seems a bit pointless, but it’s so worth playing. Sorry, experiencing. That music.
We shall not talk about the content of the game. We shall only talk about how it plays. And how does it play? Very well, actually. Thanks for asking.
Basically, you chat to girls to find out about them, which give you “Hunie” points. You then go on dates with the girls which consists of a match-3 puzzle game. The dates give you “Munie”. You spend this money on gifts for the girls which generates more Hunie, and you spend the Hunie on stat improvements for yourself which makes your match-3 abilities more powerful in various ways. And round and round it goes. It works surprisingly well, and even without the very naughty girls in it the mechanics are much better than in many other similar games.
After you’ve successfully dated each girl four times, you get to take her home. Take all the girls home, and you win the game (and at life, presumably). So I did that. Apparently there are two more secret girls to find somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.
It’s been a few months since I started Mega Man 7. I think, after ploughing through Mega Mans 1-6 I may have had a bit of Mega Man burnout, and I was a bit disappointed with 7 anyway as it didn’t feel right. Anyway, I’m back on it now and have taken down the first lot of four Robot Masters. I’m enjoying it, and it does feel more like the NES games than it did a few months ago. Perhaps I just needed to give it some time?
StreetPass Zombies (3DS)
Nintendo released two more StreetPass games! In this one, your passes equate to weapons that you use to see off the (cute, Nintendofied, egg-headed) zombie hordes. It’s a lot of fun, and actually quite difficult.
StreetPass Fishing (3DS)
And this is the other game. Passes translate as different bait types which you use to catch different fish. There’s a sort of RPG element as you can level up and improve your rod (and get other rods), and a lot of “gotta catch ’em all” with the fish. Really enjoyable.
Pokémon Rumble World (3DS)
Another Free-to-Play Pokeymuns game from Nintendo, this time based on (read: almost exactly the same as) the Pokémon Rumble series, which despite being repetitive, I’ve had fun with in the past. This one has a real money mechanic where you can only attempt so many levels before your hot air balloon mode of transport deflates, and you have to wait or use jewels to re-inflate it. And jewels cost money. I’m open minded though – Pokémon Shuffle had jewels too and gave away so many for free it was unnecessary to buy any.
Yakuza 4 (PS3)
I’ve progressed a little further, moving onto Kiryu’s part of the story. Another incredibly unlikely coincidence occurs (another character washes up on Kiryu’s doorstep) and then another (Kiryu goes to the police station and happens to bump into “Lily”), and then some fighting. I’ll just say this: that head prison officer bloke from Saejima’s prison is pretty much immortal, isn’t he? No mere man can be smashed to pieces that many times and not only survive, but actually come back stronger!
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! (Wii U)
A few more levels finished on this in co-op. It’s a bit shallow, but is essentially Gauntlet, so I’ll let it go. The only real annoyance that I have, is that you can only quit the dungeon and save the game every five levels, meaning you really don’t want to die in that time or you have to do it all again.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
The new tracks that were available this week are fantastic. Ribbon Road, in particular, goes way above a simple reimagining of the original GBA track by being probably the best looking part of any game ever made ever. Ever. I’ve not unlocked the new 200cc mode yet, so had to put in a bit of work to do that by improving my scores on some of single player mode. Never a chore, mind.
Technically, I’ve completed this. I’m not recording it as completed though, as there’s no real goal – you just explore a purposefully low-res alien city, see the sights and hear the sounds, and that’s it. There’s not even all that much to see, and I took the lot in in well under an hour. There’s no interaction, nothing to collect, no items to collect or anything like that. Still, it was funny and absolutely well worth a wander around. Download it for free here.
A lot of things, it seems. I’ve had a glut of new games over the last month and I’ve been playing each for a short time. I’ve yet to settle down and just work on one or two, so I’ve not made much progress in each. So here’s a list, in no particular order:
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (Vita)
My subscription to PS+ was autorenewed before I could cancel it (the whole service got DDOS’d and I couldn’t log in), so I thought I might as well make use of it. This is one of the rentals.
It’s Duke Nukem. A bit easier to control than the 360 version that appeared on XBLA, and with a nice (but often broken) rewind feature if you die. It’s the same game that it ever was, so great. Half way through the first episode so far.
At least, I was playing this until my family hijacked my save game. I’ve no idea what’s going on. You’re a snake which flies around bizarre levels bumping into things which sometimes react, solving puzzles that aren’t really puzzles, in an attempt to reunite with other snakes. I think. You’re just dropped into the game with no explanation and just expected to get on with it. It’s good, but I’m confused and lost. No idea why I bought it, although it was on offer.
Super Smash Bros U (Wii U)
I’m sure the Gamecube version of this was easier to control. I’m still sticking mostly to Mega Man, and I’m trying, but it does seem very vague as to whether I actually pull off moves or not. And I can never remember in the heat of the moment how to do the special moves that try to carry you back onto a platform when you’ve been punched off. It’s utter chaos, but then I suppose that’s the appeal.
Whoa Dave! (Vita)
Another PS+ rental. It’s an 8bit (or lower, perhaps – it’s more like an Atari 2600 title) looking single screen arcade platformer. Eggs drop from the top of the screen, and after a while they hatch. Baddies pop out and when they hit the lava at the bottom of the screen they “level up” and become more dangerous, and then level up again each time they hit the lava. You have to beat them by chucking eggs at them, or by destroying the eggs by throwing exploding skulls at them. Then UFOs appear and it all gets really hard. Really like this game, so much so I’ll probably buy it when it hits the 3DS. My high score is $1.76, in case you want a target (an easy target) to aim for.
I happened to be using my old MacBook, and Peggle was on it, and I couldn’t remember playing it on there before so wasn’t sure it would work and then I ran it to see and it did work and then an hour passed magically. It’s Peggle, and that’s what happens with Peggle. No idea how far I got.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Demo) (3DS)
I didn’t want to like this because I really wanted a Wii U version instead. Sadly, that doesn’t look likely to happen. It’s Monster Hunter, but made a bit easier to play (on the 3DS) as I’ve a shiny new New 3DS with extra buttons and a prodnipple, so it’s essentially got the same controls as the Wii U version of MH3U anyway.
I chose the Great Jaggi hunt as I know where I am with that, and picked a hunter with twin blades, not a class I’d used before. I don’t know if it’s the different weapons, or the different game, but the combat was so much swifter than I ever had on the previous game. Mind you, that was with a Great Sword and so slow and ponderous came with it. I like how you can now jump on the back of the Great Jaggi and slash at his (her?) neck, and it’s nice to have some new maps to hunt on. Do I want this now? Yes. Yes I do.
SteamWorld Dig (Wii U)
It’s the same as the 3DS game that I completed last year (or the year before?), but that doesn’t matter. It’s just as good, but all in HD and on the tellybox. I bought it as it was on offer and I was trying to spend enough in the Wii U eShop before the end of 2014 to get another £5 credit before they stopped running the scheme. Don’t know why I started this before the other games that I’d bought but haven’t played before – that’d make more sense, surely?
I’ve reached The Old World, and have a couple of upgrades from there. I’m pretty sure by this point in the 3DS game I had the ability to punch by now, so I’m wondering if I’ve missed something…
Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut (Vita)
Stumbled across this, and as soon as I noticed it was basically a brand new Spectrum game, I had to buy it. Turns out it’s a twin stick shooter, with Spectrum graphics and sound, and even had a two minute long load (which you can skip – I didn’t). The plot is incredible – you appear to be Queen Victoria, dressed as a man, who decides to go to Mars in a giant bullet shaped space ship that’s shot out of a huge cannon, and, when you arrive, you have to shoot guards and zombies and collect keys and avoid massive centipedes while looking for tea and jammy scones. YES. It’s the best thing ever.
Picross e5 (3DS)
I was having a look at the eShop the other day and realised Picross e5 was out and I hadn’t bought it. So I bought it, and started playing it. It’s Picross, and I like Picross, so I like this. Aside from different puzzles (obviously), it seems to be no different to Picross e4. That’s not a problem, as Picross e4 was lovely.
Oh, remember my 360? Never before has a console so frequently used in the past been dropped so quickly. Mine barely gets touched these days. In fact, the only reason I turned it on was because I finally decided to get Minecraft, mainly for my daughter. I’d a pile of free credit, and since the 360 is the only machine I have that 1) plays Minecraft and 2) I have two controllers for (for co-op), it had to be that version.
Created a “creative mode” map, which was far too vertical to navigate, so after a while we binned it and created a flat world – which we forgot to make “creative”. So cue all the baddies in the world appearing when it got dark and we hadn’t built any shelter because all I had were a couple of oak tree seeds and some dirt. Then we explored a lot and it seems everything wasn’t just flat, as we found a monastery (I think) and I fell in a well and couldn’t get out and drowned. Yay?
Skylanders Giants (360)
While the 360 controllers were out, and we’d just taken delivery of a cheap Skylanders Swap Force starter kit (for the Wii U – to hell with the 360 now!), I thought we shoudl probably finish off Giants.
So we worked through two more levels – Kaos’ castle, and a Ghost Ship. I’m sure the game it waaaay harder than the original Spyro’s Adventure, you know. We’ve about 30 Skylanders and ploughed through pretty much all of them on both levels.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! (Wii U)
This was on sale and even though I know it’s not supposed to be very good, we are big fans of the cartoon and it was very cheap. And it’s multiplayer co-op.
It’s not too bad, actually. For the most part it plays like Gauntlet, complete with food and baddie generators and smart-bomb magic, but there’s also a Rogue Legacy style shop system. You can quit the dungeon after every 5 levels, and then spend your money to get better stats, but any money you have left is lost when you return to the game. The best bit is how the Gamepad becomes a giant Beemo face, who comments on your action with such gems as “food is where the hearts are!”. Excellent.
With various deals and cheap credit, I got this for less than £2. I’ve wanted it for a while, but keep being put of by people who say it’s rubbish. At that price I thought I’d risk it. And I’m glad I did as it’s pretty good.
It’s no Tony Hawk’s, obviously, but is instead an endless runner with things to grind on and ollie off. It’s all about timing, and the tricks are more like the Skate games in how you flick the stick to pull them off. Was getting well into it, and then it crashed. Bah.
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.
Picross 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?
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.
Nintendo 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.
Chibi-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.
Theme 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.
I’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.
And 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.
But 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.
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:
It took ELEVEN HOURS to win ONCE. I ain’t doing all 30-odd.
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!
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.