Things I’ve been playing recently

Roundup time!

Yakuza 4 (PS3)

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.

tumblr_nl4ekp2aky1svmpf2o1_4003D 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.

tumblr_nkwzzkxtr71svmpf2o1_1280The 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.

How_do_I_get_up_to_the_chains__t_httpt.cobVSTh02HMeCastlevania: 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.

Things I’ve been playing recently

Fantasy Life (3DS)

I_m_a_pretty_boy__t_httpt.coZ9NL1XkMp4It’s like 8 RPGs in one! I chose my first life to be a Paladin, applying the logic that any combat required in the other lives may benefit from my skills as a trained killer. Or something. I’m not very far in, only a couple of hours, but I’m already engrossed in the seemingly endless number of sidequests (which, unlike most RPGs, actually affect your progression in the game in a big way), and the game is both charming and interesting. I think I’ve guessed the real identity of Flutter the butterfly already, though, but then perhaps I’m meant to.

A “doom stone” has just smashed into the roof of my house, which can’t be a good thing. Now I have to go off and find another one.

Persona 4 Golden (Vita)

tumblr_ngyez0p4no1svmpf2o1_1280It took a lot of attempts, but I finally managed to defeat the boss at the top of Yukiko’s castle. Having done so, I asked around about it and it seems that having all your characters on around level 15 (the same level Yukiko is when she joins your party afterwards) is recommended.

All mine were on 10 or 11. Yeah, that’ll be why it was hard.

Once_you_pop___t_httpt.cof7YNA00Kv7I’m a bit concerned about the inability to grind and the forced time limit on defeating each boss before the fog claims the next victim, but I’ve been assured that you can still grind as much as you want (until you run low on SP) by revisiting completed dungeons and never leaving. So, after rescuing Yukiko I spent some time redoing her castle to level up. Reached a new boss at the end of it, which can wipe out my entire party in a single hit. Methinks I should probably avoid him for a bit…

Super Smash Bros U (Wii U)

WIN (1)I’ve barely touched it so far, but have played through some of the single player modes a bit, and had a few fights online (which, sadly, were so badly lagged they were impossible to play), but I can already see that the huge amount of content and collectables will keep me coming back. Hopefully it’ll be a return to the greatness of the Gamecube game, as the Wii one wasn’t great (although I put that mainly down to the controls).

Scribble Shooter (Vita)

tumblr_ngwlhdv8j01svmpf2o1_1280This may be a demo, but it’s hard to tell. It’s a Playstation Home Arcade game, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to purchase the full version so I don’t know if it’s just very, very short or what. It was quite good fun but over very quickly.

Wipeout 2D (Vita)

tumblr_ngwk8xmxnc1svmpf2o1_1280Another Playstation Home Arcade game. It’s exactly what it suggests – Wipeout in 2D. It plays like Super Sprint, but the handling feels terrible and I didn’t really enjoy it. Motorstorm RC is a billion times better, and the similar F-Zero themed minigame in Nintendoland is what Wipeout 2D wishes it was.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

One_left_to_open__Probably_6__of_the_game_complete_overall.Of course. This just keeps on giving! I’ve a single square in Adventure Mode left to open now, and it’s proving pretty difficult. I’m having to level up some rarely used characters to build up to another attempt, but I keep getting sidetracked and hunt for better weapons and stuff instead.

I’ve bought my first Amiibo this week, and, which Hyrule Warriors in mind, it had to be Link. He unlocked the Spinner weapon which is awesome to use. Sadly, it’s only a Level 1 weapon so only does 80 damage. It’s kind of made up for with Link himself being on Level 112, but a 420 damage Spinner would be nice!

Apparently I can use the Amiibo once a day to unlock more stuff, so I’ll be giving that a go.

Hello Kitty Happy Happy Family (Demo) (3DS)

tumblr_ngoy7mbxfj1svmpf2o1_1280Sadly, not a return to form for Kitty. I was hoping for something more like the fantastic (truthfully) Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, or even the GBA Happy Party Pals game, but no – it’s a sub-Cooking Mama set of rubbish minigames. What a shame, although I did expect this was how it was going to be.

Weapon Shop de Omasse (3DS)

tumblr_nh7nfs6h1d1svmpf2o1_400All the Level 5 Guild 01/02 games have been on offer recently, so I picked this up cheap along with The Starship Damrey. I haven’t played it a great deal yet, only through the tutorial and as far as the french bloke and the two girls returning from their quests. Seems quite good so far though – a sort of rhythm action game where you make the weapons and level them up by sending them out with adventurers. It’s pretty funny too, especially the almost Twitter-like Grindcast, which updates you on the quests your customers go on.

Titan Attacks! (Vita): COMPLETED!

tumblr_ngabss4udu1svmpf2o1_1280Perhaps I was a little hard on this. I gave it another go, and found I really started to enjoy it. Yes, it’s still a Super Space Invaders clone, but the levels are more varied and the power-ups you can collect add something to the game. In fact, I not only completed Titan Attacks!, I looped the entire game twice, picking up all the trophies in the process.

Which makes it my first Playstation title where I’ve got all the trophies. Or even tried for all the trophies. It wasn’t difficult, and only took a few hours to blast through the 100 stages three times, but it was fun. First impressions can be wrong, it seems!

Things I’ve been playing recently

Roundup time!

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Chain_Chomp_GET_With over 80 hours racked up now, this became my most played Wii U title some time ago. No matter how repetitive it seems to be, even playing exactly the same mission over and over with the same character, it never gets boring. I have now at least started the Master Quest from the first set of DLC, albeit to just play about four missions to see what they were like. Since then, there’s been another set of DLC which included another new character and a slightly smaller Adventure Mode map (which I’ve barely even looked at), but no Legend Mode additions, sadly.

I’ve still not finished Adventure Mode. In fact, I’ve still not even cleared the full map, let alone collected all the weapons, hearts and skulltulas littering the place. I have made some headway in ticking the lot off, but I estimate at least another 30 hours before I’ve done the whole thing. I have at least picked up some decent weapons for most of the characters now, although the likes of Wizzro and Midna are still woefully underpowered through lack of use. Link’s Lv3 Power Gauntlets, complete with Chain Chomp wrecking ball are a sight to behold though, and his apparently naked giant Great Fairy is ludicrous. In all: Best Game.

Persona 4 Golden (Vita)

tumblr_ngc51blbfz1svmpf2o1_1280Everyone seems to rate this as one of the best games ever. It’s one of the few games I wanted a Vita for, so when it was reduced to a silly price (on the same day as Akiba’s Trip) I snapped it up.

Even though I’d heard a lot of good things about it, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, aside from “an unusual RPG”. I thought this meant something along the lines of Contact or Earthbound, and as I’d been cautioned to avoid anything describing the actual game or plot as it’s apparently best to dive in blind, I wasn’t prepared for what I got.

The fantastic yellow submarine/katamari hybrid opening sequence segued into Shenmue before becoming something somewhere between Phoenix Wright and Eternal Sonata, via a Japanese dating sim and The Ring. Confusing and compelling, although (so far) mostly non-interactive, I’m just past the second murder (yes, it’s a bit grim in places) and, from what I’ve been told, have only about 78 hours left before I complete it. Erm.

Luftrausers (Vita)

tumblr_ngaaqfyfrv1svmpf2o1_1280Or Love Trousers, obviously. I have the PC version, but I don’t play PC games. This is a free-for-a-few-weeks PS+ rental, and it’s a lot of fun. I’m terrible at it, but it has some addictive progression and that ever important “just one more go” factor. It’s like Time Pilot, only distanced from that title in a similar way to how, say, Pac-Man CE is from Pac-Man. And in sepia.

Mega Man 6 (Wii U)

Yamato_Man_I finished Mega Man 5, so started Mega Man 6. It’s just more of the same, which isn’t really a complaint, but even when they add new stuff to the formula it still doesn’t actually change the basic game. As the last NES Mega Man it’s a little sad to be nearing the end of the series, but I do have the SNES Mega Man 7 and Mega Man X2 lined up for the future, so it’s not really close to being over.

Instant Hero (iOS)

tumblr_nfyz6ge3o81svmpf2o1_1280What’s that? An iOS game that isn’t Slay? Well, the team behind this asked for beta testers, so I volunteered. And I’m pleased to say, that they’ve really responded to feedback from myself and the other testers, and quickly moved this from a  far too simple, slightly rough and seemingly pointless title to a polished, perfect for mobile play game. It plays a little like Peggle but with Super Kick Off style aftertouch. And your little man is the ball. And he can only beat the baddies (uh, like the pegs in peggle) if he (or she) runs into two of the smaller sized baddies first. Or you die. And there are bosses.

Look, I can’t explain it. It’s out soon, and is free with IAPs to buy continues (and remove ads) and it’s definitely worth a look. Not least to see me in the credits.

Titan Attacks (Vita)

tumblr_ngabs8h2x71svmpf2o1_1280Another PS+ rental. It’s OK, but really it’s just a relatively normal Space Invaders game with a few bells and whistles. Not that there’s anything really wrong with that, but come on – we’ve have Space Invaders games for years now, and some (like Space Invaders Extreme) are far better than this. Still, it was free.

Need For Speed Most Wanted (Vita)

tumblr_ngbsjgmamj1svmpf2o1_1280EA game this away for free. And it’s not even “PS+ Free” either – it’s actually really free. It’s also the same game, albeit smaller, lower resolution, and not quite as nice generally, as the Wii U version I’ve already played to death. It is still pretty and fun and everything, but I don’t know if I can be bothered to complete it again.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Demo (Wii U)

This_is_stupidNo. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

No.

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (Vita): COMPLETED!

tumblr_ng2y5gnkwp1svmpf2o1_1280What? Two Vita games completed? What will the neighbours say? I mainly bought this game as a bit of a joke. I didn’t think I’d get drawn in and certainly didn’t expect to complete it. I just thought it was a silly game with a silly premise and wouldn’t really be very good.

I was wrong.

tumblr_nfxdffrphm1svmpf2o1_1280For the first few hours, I had issues with the controls and the camera. I wasn’t enjoying the combat, and there was a massive difficulty spike with the first “boss”, who took many attempts to beat. Then I realised that different weapons attacked in different ways, much like in games like Monster Hunter. Then I figured out the clothing and weapon modifying options, improving my attack and defence. Finally, I realised you could press R to centre the camera. Suddenly, most of my complaints disappeared, and although still a silly, sexy game, I was really enjoying it. The combat clicked, and I actively went picking fights to collect more items to improve my kit.

tumblr_ng2y77ekq11svmpf2o1_1280As the story progressed, I realised I was actually really rather close to the final battle, and sort of fell into the last hour of the game and completed it rather sooner than expected. I was slightly disappointed it wasn’t longer, but there’s a New Game + mode and a million untouched side missions should I want to return.

At its original price of £32.99 on PSN (I don’t think the western version even got a physical release), I’d struggle to recommend Akiba’s Trip, but it is surprisingly deep, fun, and has the sort of Japanese quirkiness and game in-jokes I like. At under a tenner, it’s definitely worth a shot. Just try to see past the, er, stripping.

Thomas Was Alone (PS3): COMPLETED!

Here’s something unusual – a PS3 game. A completed PS3 game at that. Haven’t had that in months!

Thomas Was Alone was something I did want to play. I thought about getting it on Steam, but then I remembered – I don’t play PC games – so waited until a console release. Sadly, it only hit the PS3 (and Vita, I think), rather than any console I actually use, so I left it. Until I realised I had just over six quid in my PSN account and Thomas Was Alone went on sale for about £2.39 or something.

And I wanted to spend my PSN “cash” before Sony stole it again (if you don’t spend it after a certain amount of time, Sony just take it from you – already had that happen once), of course.

So Thomas Was Bought, played, enjoyed, and completed.

There are two main parts to the game. The first is the puzzle platforming bit. Thomas, a rectangle, and various other rectangles with different names and various physical “powers” (able to jump higher, double jump, have reversed gravity, act as a trampoline, etc.) have to reach matching rectangular door “portals” across about 80 levels of platforming. The graphics are plain, the puzzles mostly simple, and sound effects are almost nonexistent. It’s not a bad game, just there’s no depth and very little challenge.

But there’s another part to the game. The running narration of the progress, feelings and story behind all these little rectangles. They all have distinct personalities, egos and fears. Not a single part of the narration affects how the game plays at all, but the funny characters that it draws out of the shapes you control adds a massive layer of purpose to the game, elevating it above the “drab puzzle platformer” it appears to be.

It’s short, and I spent between two and three hours on it, but it’s definitely well worth playing. And best of all, it uses the d-pad and a single button on the PS3 controller (plus L1/R1 to swap shape) so it’s even enjoyable to control for those of us who hate the Dual Shock 3. Lovely.

Now, what do I spend my remaining £3.80-ish on?

Tokyo Jungle (PS3)

Now see here: I’m not happy about this being a PS3 exclusive, and worse – download only, but in times like this, I have no choice. Sure, I have to brave the PS3 controller, and yeah, it took three days to download on my terrible connection, but having seen it at Eurogamer it was a NEED.

And it is totally nuts. It’s set in Tokyo after an as-yet unknown event whereby humankind were wiped out. You take control of an animal (to start with, a deer or a pomeranian) and have to survive: Eat, drink, fight, reproduce. Basic stuff.

Of course, it isn’t so simple as other animals are roaming the Tokyo wastes. Smaller ones that you can avoid or take down. Larger ones that want to kill you. Areas get polluted and slowly kill you. Food runs scarce, or just runs away. It’s a jungle out there.

So far, I’ve played as both carnivores (pomeranian, alley cat) and herbivores (deer, chick). The main difference between the two types is that carnivores have to hunt prey to eat, whereas herbivores eat plants. And run away a lot. Each game has run more or less the same way: I’ve been merrily, well, surviving, and after some reproducing and eating and hiding, I run into an area filled with lions/sabre toothed tigers/hyenas/panthers/velociraptors and in the process of running away get stuck in a dead end and my dog/car/deer/chick gets eaten. Bah.

Then I play again. It’s horribly addictive.

Stuff wot I are bin playing recently

Another round-up post, I’m afraid!

Batman: Arkham City (PC)

Despite the hassle it is to set up (all those cables and adapters and begging Windows to let audio go out the HDMI port please), and the fact it’s a PC game, I’m still enjoying it. It feels like driving a car when you know one of the wheels is going to fall off at some point. You enjoy the ride, but are on edge that at some point you could well end up in a ditch on your roof.

I’m also finding that, even though the world is clearly much more open than in Arkham Asylum, and obviously massively bigger, the game feels much more linear and is apparently just a set of fetch quests. There’s no real Metroidvania-ness like in the original either. That said, it is still utterly compelling to play, and I’m really enjoying it. I just feel that if it was on the 360 I’d be enjoying it even more!

In terms of progress, I’ve just completed the terrible, terrible trials bit given to me by Ra’s al Ghul (the only bad bit of the game so far, really).

The Sims 3 (3DS)

Look. It was £8 in Sainsburys. We shall say no more.

Except that it’s still fun setting fire to your house, calling the fireman, waiting for him to enter the house, then getting rid of all the doors.

Super Pokémon Rumble (3DS)

Still shallow. Still fun. Getting a little bit hard now, too. Especially since I was defeated by a boss, and thought – no way can I beat him. Only to find that you’re not supposed to yet and it’s all part of the story.

Motorstorm RC (PS3)

Pretty much the only thing I play on my PS3. It’s awesome. Not done all the tracks yet, but every now and then I sit down and clear a few. It’s getting pretty difficult now though, with a good half an hour on one of the tracks spent not even clearing bronze, let alone anything better!

Zen Pinball (3DS)

I haven’t played this in a while, but have got back into it this week. I’ve purposefully avoided the Shamen table (which was my favourite) to try and improve my scores elsewhere, and have focussed mainly on Excalibur. I think I may have passed a point where I know how to actually play the table now, so I expect great things. Or not.

The Legend of Zelda (3DS)

DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAH!!

I have no idea why I picked this up last night, but I did. And got as far as the first piece of triforce. It’s lovely.

Rhythm Thief (Demo) (3DS)

I think I may actually use up the number-of-plays limit on this demo. It’s utterly fantastic. It’s like a mix of Space Channel 5, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Rhythm Heaven, with a sort of Moonwalker/Smooth Criminal vibe. Really, really want the full game. And it’s by Sega?! Hell has frozen over.

 

Journey (PS3): COMPLETED!

Never before have I played a game to completion, without any clue as to what the hell I’m supposed to be doing for pretty much the entire duration. And I certainly didn’t expect it to only take an hour to do so. Still – it was an experience, f’shaw.

Here be spoilers:

You start off on a sand dune. You’re some sort of girl (possibly) wearing a scarf. There’s a mountain in the distance which you have to walk to. On the way, you find some flying pieces of rag, which power up your scarf and make you able to jump and glide until the Magic Scarf Energy runs out – after which you need to charge it up again. I think. I’m not entirely sure.

There are what seem like ancient ruins. Sometimes things trigger if you press the Shout A Glyph button near them. There are glowing things that make your scarf longer. Every so often there’s a sort of altar or something which you sit in front of and Kaonashi from Spirited Away appears, nods at you and you get some sort of tapestry story telling you vaguely about the next bit of the game. Probably.

Along the way, other players who you cannot communicate with appear, and you can walk with them. If you walk closely to each other, you recharge your scarves. Apart from that, they seem to serve little purpose.

There are bit of rag, rug, carpet and scarf everywhere. When you “arouse” them by Glyphshouting, they do stuff. Some become creatures, some become bridges, and others just sway or let you jump up them.

You progress through different areas “solving” incredibly simple puzzles, mainly by (again) Glyphshouting at… things. There are a couple of snowboarding sections in the game too, for reasons I don’t understand. Eventually you reach the foot of the mountain and there’s snow and wind and you almost die whilst walking very, very slowly up it.

Then you complete it, and get sent back to the beginning ready to do it all again.

An utterly incomprehensible game, and for that reason I’m going to rate it six and a goose quarks out of lime.

Noby Noby Boy (PS3)

“Play pilly game, Daddy”

Yes – another game I was made to play. And no, I still have literally no idea what you’re supposed to do in it. But I was instructed to eat balls and flowers and plants and bikes and goats and everything. So I did.

Does anyone know how you’re supposed to play? My daughter was quite happy with how I was doing, but I’m sure I’m missing something.

Back to the Future: Episode 4 (PS3): COMPLETED!

Escaped the alternate 1986, with a “new” DeLorean, and went back to 1931 again to try to fix things. All seemed to be going well, until the final scene, where it all seems to have gotten beyond fixable. Oh well!

Sadly, I can’t play Episode 5 as although it was due to be out today, it isn’t. Well, it is in the US, but it has been delayed in Europe, on PSN, for reasons unknown. RAGE!

Back to the Future: Episode 3 (PS3): COMPLETED!

So 1986 is totally ruined, completely the opposite of the second film’s interpretation of 1985, but somehow worse. And I had to fix it, except I couldn’t in 1986 and had no DeLorean with which to return to the past and put right what once went wrong (© Quantum Leap).

Managed to at least get to see Doc, but no time machine yet…

Back to the Future: Episode 2 (PS3): COMPLETED!

It’s not easy to say what I’ve been up to in this episode without ruining the plot, but things went a bit wrong at the end of the last episode and at the end of this one things went even wronger…

I’d come back to 1986 to find Biff was back to being bad, or worse, so had to nip back to 1931 again to fix things. Of course, I did – and caused some new problems in the process.

The game had the same issues as the first episode (controls, mainly), but the story is holding up well and making me want to keep playing!

Back to the Future: Episode 1 (PS3): COMPLETED!

Expect a small flurry of these over the next few days, as they’re not very long episodes and I have three of them (with a fourth downloading, and a fifth out soon).

I had hoped to get Back to the Future on the Wii, like all the other Telltale Games I’ve bought (Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Strong Bad), but sadly they’ve axed that version. They’ve also gone all quiet on the XBLA version, with the Xbox logo now missing from the game series on the website. Of course, I could play them on the Mac, but I don’t play games on my Mac, and I’m not sure I’d bother if I got the iPad version either – I don’t play iPad games – so the PS3 version it had to be.

Firstly, some issues. There are glitches, stuttering, and out-of-sequence conversation problems galore. At one stage in the game you’re asked your name and you choose one of three false names, yet later on I’m referred to at least twice by a name I didn’t choose. The controls, due in part to being a PS3 game and in part due to being a point-and-click game on a joypad, are horrific. You sometimes walk off the screen pressing, say, right, then in the next scene right now makes you walk up. Rubbish. Choosing which object or person to interact with using the right stick is inconsistant (pressing right doesn’t cycle left-to-right, for example – items are selected seemingly randomly) and sometime you have to move away from an object before you can select it. In addition, pressing Square brings up your inventory, and you select an object. Then, the onscreen prompt suggests you press Square again to use it, but no – it’s X or Circle or some other ridiculous hieroglyph.

But thankfully, due to the nature of the game (nothing is timed, you don’t need to be quick at any point, and there’s no penalty for doing the wrong thing), it doesn’t actually matter too much. The joy is in the story and the puzzles; the former being amazing and the latter being clever and not obtuse (like many of those in Sam & Max). The episode was about 4 hours long, and certainly left me wanting to play more!