Like the awesome but mostly ignored Wii version of Geometry Wars, Geometry Wars 3 (which was a free PS+ rental this month) has a great single player “adventure” mode. Each level takes one of the main score attack modes and requires you to beat a certain score or clear a level in under a certain time with the rules of that mode, or perhaps with no smart bomb or extra lives.
In addition, every so many levels, there’s a boss (which is a new thing in the series, I think?). All the bosses are superficially the same, consisting of a large gemstone type enemy who periodically drops its shield while spawning standard Geometry Wars enemies and occasionally rushing you.
It all feels a bit like a “best of” Geometry Wars, really. It has the stuff from the first two games, and from the Wii game, and then nicks a chunk from the also excellent Nano Assault Neo by setting many of the levels on the surface of a 3D shape rather than on a flat plane. As you progress through Adventure mode, the score multiplier Geom items also act as currency with which to buy or upgrade special weapons and drones.
Frankly, it’s superb and my only issue with the Adventure mode is that the final boss is a massive, massive difficulty spike. I easily spent as long attempting that single level than I did on the previous 49 levels combined! A single life and multiple “phases” and attack patterns, along with insta-death walls did not make it simple.
Lots of PS+ stuff has been building up over the last few weeks. I’ve played most of them (except the PS4 games, obviously), so here are some thoughts.
Race the Sun (Vita)
It’s a bit dull, really. It’s sort of like Deathchase but with upgrades and nothing to shoot. I’ve played it for an hour or so but it’s not grabbing me.
Tower of Guns (PS3)
A nonsensical FPS where you progress through randomly generated levels containing lots, and lots of guns. Looks a bit rough but is surprisingly good fun. The way the abilities and weapons unlock are a bit of a pain though.
Murasaki Baby (Vita)
Impossible to control. You can’t realistically use the front and back touch panels of the Vita at the same time (in fact, I’d argue you can’t use the back at all even by itself), so I’m not going to get anywhere with this. It sort of looks nice, but it’s unplayable.
It feels a bit like a point and click adventure game, but it’s too random and vague how you progress. Not really enjoying this either, so that’s in the bin now.
Futuridium EP Deluxe (Vita)
Like a cross between Race the Sun and Uridium (which it “borrows” for its name), but not as much fun as either. Like Race the Sun you fly into the screen, like Uridium you fly over (and under, and through) various, er, spaceships? and shoot things. The things you shoot are often hidden. You have to find them all in time or you die. It isn’t good at all.
Super Exploding Zoo (Vita)
A puzzle game with a great premise, but flawed execution. Rescue exploding animals from aliens, using them to blow up walls and sacrifice themselves to defeat the aliens. Thing is, different animals have different skills and there’s no way to tell, say, the penguins to kill themselves for the cause without also telling the monkeys – who you may need later to climb a wall. Far too many times did I die due to not having enough control. Ah well.
That was both different to, and shorter than, I was expecting. I’ll admit, I’d not read much about The Unfinished Swan, so knew very little outside of “you throw paint on walls”. Turns out that’s just the first ten minutes of the game and the entirely white walls/floor/everything premise is mostly ditched afterwards.
Instead, you get water to spray around, vines to grow, dark areas to brighten, blocks to build, and so on. It’s surprisingly varied with each particular skill lasting only ten or fifteen minutes before you move onto the next one. Yeah, I was done in 90 minutes. I was expecting at least another hour.
Not that there was anything wrong with that length of game, of course. It’s full of more cleverness than most 20+ hour games, and the story, which is fairytale in nature, is good. The reveal at the end was quite unexpected too.
Wow. Somehow, the plot just got better and better. So many twists, turns, betrayals, reverse-betrayals, reveals, surprises and revelations. Most of them in the last two hours. Two hours of mainly cutscenes, I noticed.
In the lead up to the finale, Kiryu joins up with Tanimura, Akiyama and Saejima as they all realise they have a common enemy and goal. Of course, they’re not entirely sure who the enemy is, so they set a trap to lure him out. Or them. Spoilers!
The final chapter was all exposition, bar the obligatory boss fight(s), but I didn’t find them too hard. What was helpful, was that I’d stumbled across Naomi’s Place (again – Tanimura goes there in his part of the game), and some weird buy in a clown suit, called Bob, gave me loads of really useful items – weapons, armour, healing drinks, and so on. I went into the endgame well prepared, and soon beat those I needed to, leaving a lengthy set of videos, credits, and more videos.
In all, it took about 22 hours. I’ve obviously not done much in the way of sidequests or activities though, as my stats show my completion rate at just 12.78%. That’s barely started!
Hopefully Yakuza 5 will be out here sooner rather than later now, although that said it took me over three years to get round to Yakuza 4 after Yakuza 3, despite saying I wanted to play 4 right after 3. Maybe when it’s cheap then…
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.
I’d not touched Yakuza 4 for a month or so, because various other games happened, but I’ve been playing it quite a bit in the last week or so and have been making a lot of progress.
Unlike Yakuza 3, you have more than one protagonist. So far, I’ve played as Akiyama – the ethical loan-shark who owns a hostess club – and kicked a lot of people in the face. Akiyama doesn’t go in for punches that much, it seems. Most of his story centres around protecting “Lily”, who he loans a massive sum of money to, and for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense, training her up as a hostess. All while trying to track down a guy who murdered another guy outside his office, and collecting locker keys.
After him, I played as Saejima – a prisoner on death row who escapes and tries to find out why his partner didn’t turn up for the murder spree 25 years ago that he got sent down for. As he escapes (plunging into the sea, injured), he’s told to find Kiryu, and in the most ridiculous turn of events ever, somehow literally washes up on Kiryu’s actual doorstep. He heads to Kamurocho to find ex-brother Majima, and along the way he helps two poorly cats, takes part in a fight to the death (in which neither combatant dies), spends far too much time at a massage parlour, and hangs around with homeless people in the sewers a lot. And goes bowling. And collects locker keys.
Currently, I’m playing a slightly bent cop Tanimura who is also trying to protect “Lily” (who turns out to be Saejima’s sister) because she knows something about why his dad, a detective, was murdered in relation to Saejima’s crimes, while both protecting illegal immigrants and taking “look the other way” money from their employers. While doing his police duties and additional vigilante work. And fighting random people, carrying “Lily”‘s money about in a steel briefcase and smacking a lot of Yakuza in the face with it. And collecting locker keys.
And that’s where I’m up to. I’ve just saved Tanimura’s Asian chums in Homeland from Katsuragi’s goons, and some police chief has turned up and wants a chat.
It’s been a while since I played Yakuza 3. I did really enjoy it, but never got round to picking up Yakuza 4, probably because it was a PS3 game and I don’t really like playing PS3 games, however good they are. However, for reasons I won’t explain, I got a PS+ subscription and with it came Yakuza 4.
I’m a few hours in, and have spent most of the game so far watching cut scenes, playing with UFO Catchers, opening lockers, and buying clothes for girls. And a few fights, but not many. It’s good, but so far it seems to just be Yakuza 3 with a new story and no mobile phone camera. The asset reuse is high with this one.
3D Shinobi III (3DS)
When 3D Outrun was released this week, a few older 3D ports were reduced in price. I picked up Altered Beast (I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry) and Shinobi III. I was pretty sure I’d played Shinobi III before, but it appears not. I don’t recognise any of the levels so far, aside from seeing screenshots in magazines. It’s great, and not as hard as I was expecting (Revenge of Shinobi was virtually impossible, I seem to recall). The levels disjointedly follow on from each other with no obvious link, but that’s par for the course for games of this age, I suppose. I’m only a few levels in, but really enjoying it so far.
Pokémon Shuffle (3DS)
Still playing this off and on. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve completed the game, but I do return to have a few goes at the special stages or to try and capture a few missed pokeymens.
The Swapper (Vita)
I’m not sure if I’m enjoying this. I sort of like the setting, but the way you generate clones and can transfer into them feels slightly too vague to control. Also, some of the puzzles are such that completing them feels like you’ve kludged it or brute forced it rather than actually found a solution. I also don’t like how you have to turn your man around by using the on-screen pointer rather than just pressing the opposite direction like in almost every other game ever. Still, it’s a free PS+ rental so I’m not too bothered if I don’t play it again, although I suspect I will.
Castlevania: Spectral Interlude (Spectrum)
Someone made a Castlevania game for the Spectrum. Oh my. And not only that, but it’s polished to within an inch of its life, it plays flawlessly, looks fantastic, and even – somehow – fits into the normal Castlevania timeline. At least, until Konami rebooted it with Lords of Shadow, anyway. I’ve beaten two bosses, collected the double-jump artifact, and am generally loving it.
Various Crap Games (Spectrum)
Somehow I have become involved in the comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition again. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, as I’m having to play some terrible, terrible games. Intentionally terrible games too. I think they’re driving me a little bit mad. Take a look here.