Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U): COMPLETED!

PullbloxFirst up, here’s a massive spoiler I don’t mind giving away: Captain Toad is actually the prequel to Super Mario 3D World. I mean, everyone knows it’s a spinoff based on the Captain Toad levels from 3D World, but the end sequence of Captain Toad actually shows how it’s a prequel, what with Toad returning from his adventure then setting off to the Sprixie Kingdom after green stars. Who knew?

Donkey_KongCaptain Toad is pretty much just more levels like those Toad levels in 3D World. They’re more complex, there’s a hell of a lot more of them, they’re more varied and more clever, but you can see where they come from quite clearly. Toad sets out to collect a star on each level, solving puzzles to get there and optionally collecting three (sometimes hidden) gems in each. Well, I say optionally – you need some, but not all of them, to unlock some of the levels. You don’t appear to get anything for collecting all of them in the entire game though, which was a bit odd.

ROARToad is useless in a fight, and can’t jump, so most of the enemies need to be avoided or beaten in other ways. You can throw things at them, or drop onto them from a platform, or use other baddies to take them out for you, which totally changes how you play compared to Mario games. It looks like a Mario game, sounds like a Mario game, but really doesn’t play much like one. Even some of the levels look like those Mario plays through in 3D World (in fact, some even ARE from 3D World), but with a  different set of skills, the route to the end is not the same.

Woo_woo__All_aboard_Like 3D World (and Mario 64, Mario Galaxy, and so on), there are fresh game ideas galore, and many are used just once. If only other game designers had half the skill in coming up with ideas. Even those Mario clichés seen before are used differently here.

It’s pretty easy, although each level has an additional target (such as don’t get hit, find a hidden mushroom, collect a number of coins) most of which I’ve missed so far. Part of the reason for missing them is that you don’t know what they are until after you’ve completed the level, so unless you obtain them accidentally, you have to replay the level. Not that replaying levels is a chore – you don’t need to re-collect gems, so you can avoid some of the puzzles, and each level is pretty short.

Yay_In addition to all three “episodes”, I’ve also completed everything currently unlocked in the bonus section – levels from 3D World, the Toad Brigade levels (repeated levels where you have to find the rest of your troop and take them all to the star), and the Mummy Me chase levels – although the bonus level “book” is still far from full, so I expect there are more bonus levels if I complete all the level targets.

Captain Toad is quite short, quite easy, and very, very lovely.

Mega Man 7 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

BraaaaaaaaaainsUnlike the NES Mega Mans (Mega Men?), Mega Man 7 has two sets of four robot masters rather than one set of eight. After beating the first four, a second set is added. I’m not sure why they felt doing this was necessary, as all it does is reduce the choices at the start of the game. It would seem that the first four levels have hidden letters on them (I picked up R and H), but whether the second set have, I don’t know – I never actually looked for any.

Wait_-_there_s_a_shopThe second subscreen (which contains how many E tanks you have, amongst other things) remained pretty blank for the entirety of the game, so I’d obviously missed something. Something huge, as it turned out. Once I’d beaten the first Wily level (yes, no changes there), I tried to get back to the level select screen as I wanted to redo an earlier level and get a replacement E tank. I pressed Select twice by mistake, and ended up in a shop! I assumed there must have been one somewhere – after all, I’d collected about 600 bolts – but assumed I’d missed it or not unlocked it. I’d no idea you could enter it at will. And E tanks were just 60 bolts? Bargain!

Cut_scene_from_Jingle_All_The_WayWith that knowledge, I was less frugal with the tanks for the last few levels, and had a nice surprise when I found the W tanks (I’d bought a few of them too) refilled ALL your weapons, not just one. That made the end of the game easier! Which is just as well, because the final boss was nails.

Once again, Mega Man saved the world etc. and Dr Wily begged forgiveness and mercy, but this time Mega Man actually threatened to end him… but of course, robots can’t harm humans, so he didn’t. And Wily escaped once more. Sigh.

And then I started Mega Man X2.

Things I’ve been playing recently


Mega Man 7 (Wii U)

Precious_memoriesIt’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)

tumblr_nmxy9tydoi1svmpf2o1_400Another 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)

Food_is_where_the_hearts_are_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)

WarioooooooooooooThe 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.

Bernband (Mac)

Screen_Shot_2015-04-12_at_14.51.37Technically, 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.

Super Mario 64 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

WHOMP_there_it_isLook, there’s not lots to write about this that I’ve not written before. Super Mario 64 is one of the best games ever made, on any system, ever. That’s just a fact, and playing it through again did nothing to dissuade me. Of course, I’m still not sure if Super Mario 64 is better than New Super Mario Bros U, or if it’s the other way round, but I can be sure the two of them are at positions 2 and 3 in The Best Games Ever.

MY_WIFE_NOW_DAAAVEThe Wii U Virtual Console version is barely different to the Wii Virtual Console and the N64 original, but the graphics seem a little sharper (probably only because it’s now HDMI rather than any changes Nintendo have made) and of course the buttons have moved on the Wii U Gamepad. I moved A and B to B and Y though, so it’s more like an N64 pad, and didn’t have any issues – it feels just the same as it did before.

Trapped__like_ratsOne addition is the availability of save states, which was useful as I didn’t need to pause the game for hours if I needed to do something else.  Oh, and you can take screenshots now, obviously.

Is it just me, or is the game now significantly easier, though? In particular, on previous playthroughs, I’m sure I struggled on at least one of the Bowser levels and getting 100 coins on Rainbow Ride in the past, but no such issues this time. In fact, I’ve had very few deaths at all, all things considered. Maybe I’m just a lot better than I thought. Yes. That’s bound to be it.

Troma_BowserEven after nigh on 20 years, Mario 64 is still gorgeous to look at, listen to (the tunes are probably more memorable that pretty much any Mario game since – or any game since, perhaps) and play.  The controls are slick, Mario leaps and flips and dives in a fluid way no other game, not even later Marios, has ever managed. It’s an utter joy from start to finish.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Gold_toiletYou know pretty much what to expect with a Lego game. You know there’s a series of levels with fixed characters and loads of secrets you can’t get see or access, some sort of hub world with more secrets you can’t see or access, a lot of silliness, and approximately two thirds of the game locked off until you’ve finished the story.

Then it’s back to the earlier levels with new characters and abilities you didn’t have previously to attempt Free Play mode in order to find some of those secrets and unlock even more characters and abilities, mopping up minikits and red and gold bricks along the way. Usually a third run of the game is then necessary too.

Check_out_Daft_Punk_s_new_single_if_you_get_the_chance._Sound_of_the_summer.Lego Batman 3 doesn’t deviate from these blueprints set out in so many previous Lego titles. It refines them, modifies them, expands on them, but the structure is ultimately the same. You’d think, after playing what must be almost a thousand Lego games, I’d be bored of the formula and seen everything Travellers Tales have to offer, but no – they keep coming up with more addictive and playable titles.

Green_Loontern_The main improvement over Lego Batman 2 is the massively increased roster of characters. Even in Story Mode, you get to play as most of the Justice League (but not Hawkman – there’s a running joke about him being trapped under the Hall of Justice), a pile of villains, several Lanterns of assorted colours, and more. Once you start unlocking more characters, you realise there are hundreds of them, including Daffy Duck as the Green Loontern, 60s Batman TV series characters, and even Kevin Smith. Travellers Tales have also fixed one of the main complaints with previous Lego Batman titles – cycling through all the various suits for the characters. Now, most of the time, standing where the suit is needed and pressing A will swap you to the correct costume automatically – very useful!

Gold_toiletSadly, the open world of Gotham City is absent, replaced with several small hubs: the Batcave, the Hall of Justice, the Watchtower, some Lantern homeworlds, the Moon, and so on. Although there’s a lot to do, probably as much as in Gotham overall, it’s not as impressive. I realise they couldn’t just stick Gotham in there again, but why not Metropolis or Coast City? The latter especially makes sense given the Green Lantern-focussed story.

Oh yes! The story! At the end of Batman 2, Brainiac was en-route to Earth, and in Batman 3 he nears it and starts turning cities into bottle cities and then shrinks the entire planet. Several of the early levels are then set in these cities which as well as being shrunk, are entirely constructed from Lego (which is borrowed from The Lego Movie The Game of The Lego Movie: Lego The Movie Lego Game). Brainiac has used the combined power of all seven coloured Power Batteries to do this, and it’s up to The Justice League, who, teaming up with DCs Most Wanted Villains (And Cheetah), have to reverse the damage and defeat Brainiac.

Lego_Batman_60s_TV_series_set_As always, the game is filled with humour. The dialogue is funny, and a lot of the “background action” with other characters doing stuff while you’re supposed to be paying attention to the foreground action is not to be missed. There are loads of nice touches that make you chuckle too, for example the character select screen. Hover over Batman and you can hear him singing “Nanananananananana Batman!”, but do the same over other characters and…  “Nanananananananana Plastic Man!” and “Nanananananananana Cheetah!”. Every level also has an Adam West minifigure that needs rescuing, with plenty of cheesy puns and one-liners from him (the actual Adam West providing the voice too) as he awaits your assistance.

Some_days_you_just_can_t_get_rid_of_a_bomb_The best bit is a bonus level accessed from the trophy room in the Batcave. There’s a Lego set of Bruce Wayne’s manor office from the 60s TV show, complete with bust you punch to reveal batpoles behind – just like in the series. Pop down the poles and you’re suddenly in a Lego episode of Batman from that era, complete with comic book cut scenes and biffs and zonks as you fight. Adam West narrates the short plot, and most of the TV series baddies make an appearance. Even The Joker has badly applied white make-up over the top of a barely hidden moustache – just like Cesar Romaro did, famously because he refused to shave it off for the part. Batman and run around carrying a bomb, as a callback to the film of the series, and naturally, the level ends in a dance number. Of course.

The_RiddlerThere’s a lot to like in the game, and although it has the usual Lego game bugs (I broke one scripted sequence, and I managed to get stuck behind scenery twice), it’s definitely one of the best of the series. I’ve completed about 30% of it so far, but have barely touched Free Play mode, so I’ll be a while yet!

Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Show_me_your_teethNo, I hadn’t started this already and no, I didn’t return to another previously started game having finished off Shovel Knight. Just shut up, OK? Shut up.

I was rearranging the icons on my Wii U home screen. Like on my 3DS, I have to have them arranged in an OCD friendly manner, where games I’m currently playing or haven’t completed sit on the first screen, and games I have completed or aren’t likely to play any time soon are shifted off to other screens. Since I have more games on the go than a single page of the home screen can contain, after moving Shovel Knight I’d freed up a spot and noticed Another World unloved and unplayed on the wrong screen. So I had to move it. Then played it.

_pelekophoros_and_then_Can_t_go_down_the_hole.Back in the day, I had Another World for the Amiga. I wanted to like it, but it was far too frustrating. When you died (and I died a lot) you were put back too far, and the single button nature of the Amiga joystick made the controls too fiddly with too many deaths resulting from controller flail. That, and I’d already played Flashback which was better in so many ways.

Still, this updated version promised to do away with two of my issues, with more frequent restart points and two (two!) button controls. It was also technically free, due to free eShop credit, so I bought it. And today I played, and completed it.

No_idea_how_to_beat_this_guy.After doing so, I found a walkthrough video which also completed it. My time was just over two hours. They did it in 23 minutes. Hmm.

If you’ve never heard of the game, then let me sum it up: You’re a man who has a particle accelerator which goes wrong and warps him to an alien world. You take control of him from the moment he arrives, and through running, leaping, shooting (once you get a gun) and generally avoiding nasty traps and alien beings that want to kill you in varied grizzly ways. You’re captured and placed in jail with one of the aliens, who befriends you when you help him escape, and he then assists with your endeavours to get out of the city.

ImpossibleWhat makes it tricky is that all these deaths are instant, and often unexpected. It’s one of those games where you get a little bit further each time – remembering where rocks fall on your head or aliens with guns appear. There are a few puzzles to solve, none of which are especially taxing although a handful are pretty obtuse. Each time I got stuck I posted on Twitter for help, but usually managed to solve it myself by the time I got a reply. Frequently I’d arrive in a room and think it was utterly impossible to progress, but not know if that was because I was doing it wrong, or had missed something earlier on.

Now I’ve finished it, the replay value is close to zero, although if I did attempt it again I’m quite sure I’d be much closer to the 23 minute completion time the Youtube guy managed.

Most_ridiculous_spaceship_ever.In terms of gameplay, it’s not as timeless as I’d have hoped. It’s a bit clunky and rough, with some necessary pixel-perfect jumping and timing being at odds with the imprecise movement, slightly vague three mode shooting (tap to shoot, hold for a shield, hold longer for a shield-breaking blast) and seemingly random collision detection – often enemy laser beams will pass through you, sometimes they will kill you, but there’s no way of knowing which until you’re dead. There’s also the big no-no of several holes you have to fall in on purpose, but with no way of knowing if the fall will kill you until you’ve already committed to the drop. Some of the firefights are literally hit and miss too, and I passed one in particular I’m sure by luck alone.

CDOS_V5.01Still, there is something compelling about it. The urge to finish it was strong, to see your man Lester escape, and when you solve a puzzle or figure out to deal with an alien you can’t help but feel a bit clever. There’s also a bit of a twist at the end when you think you’re about to escape in a spaceship, but, well, I won’t spoil it – let’s just say there’s a bit more game.

Another World is definitely recommended if you can find it cheap, but expect frustrating trial and error gameplay. Thankfully, not as stressful as the 90s version.

Shovel Knight (Wii U): COMPLETED!

A_platformer_with_an_ice_level_No_way.Alright, alright, calm down. I know what I said. I know I was trying to work through my already-started-games backlog before making a start on my bought-but-unplayed backlog. I’m sorry. I have no excuses.

But… what a game to break these plans with. From start to finish, Shovel Knight was a proper joy to play. The fantastically drawn pixel art, the outlandish characters (top of which is the half-trout, half-apple Troupple and his amazing dance routine), the comedy dialogue, a frog who specialises in Shovel Knight themed puns, some of the best platforming in years, varied boss battles and an astoundingly good chiptune soundtrack. No, really. I cannot stress enough how incredible the music is. Especially the Lich Yard level, which is clearly Castlevania-esque.

In fact, I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about the game at all. Everything is borderline perfect. It feels like a modern day SNES game, with all the style games like Super Castlevania IV and Mega Man X provided, but with none of the technical limitations of sprite handling and slowdown.

Worst_jokes.It took me just over six hours to finish, but because it’s so damn good, that was just two proper game sessions. The game stats show I died 80 times, which would suggest two things: 1) it was hard, and 2) I didn’t notice. In reality, it isn’t that hard at all. No, this isn’t me boasting about how great a game player I am – it’s more because I only recently finished off the much, much harder set of 6 NES Mega Man games.

How_am_I_supposed_to_get_up_hereSeveral Shovel Knight reviews have complained (or complimented?) the game on its high level of difficulty, but I’m really not seeing it. You don’t have lives, and each death just makes you drop some (recoverable) gold and go back a few screens. Most of the bits I got stuck on, losing a string of lives, were late in the game and entirely my fault anyway – incorrectly weighing up risk and reward, or just not paying attention to have things moved or when baddies appear. Absolutely nothing to get frustrated at, at least, not for more than a few minutes anyway. Even the SuckySuck(TM) Bit at the end (that’s “Boss Rush” to those not in the know) wasn’t as much of an issue as I’ve found with other games. Yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but the battles are quick and you get your health refilled after each one anyway, so it only took me two or three tries.

You_have_no_chance_to_survive_make_your_time (1)What I haven’t done, however, is collect all of the music sheets hidden around the levels, and I didn’t buy much of the armour from the flying blacksmith guy – mainly because although they all improve your stats in some way, most also come with a debuff side effect I wasn’t prepared to take. As it turns out, they were unnecessary anyway. Will I go back and mop up? Almost certainly. I’ve already started New Game+ after all…

SteamWorld Dig (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_niyhh9yqey1svmpf2o1_1280And with just under five hours on the clock, the evil electronic consciousness was beaten and my mining days were over.

My memory had placed several other bosses in my brain from when I played the 3DS version. They weren’t in the Wii U one, so I suspect my mind was playing tricks. Or I was getting confused with something else (god knows what though). Or they were optional and I somehow avoided them? It’s a mystery.

Pretty sure I finished this in a slightly shorter time than on the 3DS too, although that was to be expected. It was still a lot of fun, and I’m glad I played it again (and it was over a year since I last did anyway), but there’s really no difference – phantom bosses notwithstanding – between the Wii U and 3DS versions.

Things I’ve been playing recently

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)

tumblr_nhtwabelmc1svmpf2o1_1280My 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.

Hohokum (Vita)

tumblr_nhzgjbfpdm1svmpf2o1_1280At 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)

Oh.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)

tumblr_nhttyfer181svmpf2o1_1280Another 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.

Peggle (Mac)

tumblr_nhtn2lm76a1svmpf2o1_1280I 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)

Toot_Toot_Sonic_WarriorIt’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)

tumblr_ninhulrwnN1svmpf2o1_1280Stumbled 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)

tumblr_nip7ql5orv1svmpf2o1_400I 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.

Minecraft (360)

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)

Prison_breakThis 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.

OlliOlli (Vita)

tumblr_ningobQfD61svmpf2o1_1280With 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.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Wii U): COMPLETED!

So_Maxwell_made_a_time_machine_to_prevent_Batgirl_getting_shotThe game’s title is a bit verbose, isn’t it? I’ll be referring to it as Scribblenauts Batman instead, because that’s what it is. Sure, the rest of the Justice League are in it, but then Lego Batman 2 and 3 have them as well. Batman’s the headline act.

In fact, virtually every DC character you could ever imagine, including every variant (Earth Two, Red Son, Bizzaro, New 52, etc.) are also in it. And costumes to dress up other characters as DC characters. And all the stuff you’d expect from a Scribblenauts game usually. Lots.

Green_vs_YellowThe story (yes, there’s a story) involves Maxwell and his sister Lily being transported to the DC Universe (or one of the DC Universes, at least), and losing a load of Starites en-route. Somewhere along the way, Maxwell’s evil clone – created by Maxwell – appears and teams up with all the DC villains. Each level is a set of traditional Scribblenauts puzzles (much like in Scribblenauts Unlimited) often with DC related characters, and a “boss battle” where you and a DC hero take on Doppleganger and a DC villain. So Batman vs The Joker, Green Lantern vs Sinestro, etc. These battles are really just more puzzles, but it breaks up the game and adds something a bit different.

Thank_you_Mari-uh__Maxwell__but_our_princess_is_etc.Scribblenauts Batman, then, isn’t any sort of reinvention of the series, but if you’re a DC fan there’s some joy to be had creating an enormous airborne undead radioactive pensive spotty exploding evil Aquaman (New 52) riding a yellow glowing sentient gigantic carrot with a jetpack. Or something.

This_better_work_Like the previous game, it’s pretty short if you just rush through the main puzzles and battles, earning just enough points to spend on unlocking new locations (like Metropolis and Oa) and progress the plot to completion. There’s a load of replay value through, as each location has different puzzles each time you revisit them, and sometimes Mr Mxyzptlk pops up to challenge you to complete them all without using adjectives, or only using DC Heroes, or only with female characters, all for bonus points. You’re also penalised if you repeat words in a single level, so you can’t solve similar puzzles in the same way if you want maximum points.

Day_of_the_TentacleI’ve finished the story and unlocked, and completed, the Batman origin story (each of the main heroes has one as a sort of bonus) and quite a few of the non-story puzzles, so there’s still quite a lot to do. It seems there’s no checklist like with Unlimited though, so I’m not sure how you determine everything is properly 100% done. Unless I’m missing something.

Oh, and how am I playing this on the Wii U when it never came out in the UK on the Wii U? Because I imported it from Australia, of course! For some reason it was released there but not here, and although the Wii U is region locked, Australia is the same region so the game works fine. Phew, eh?

Duck Hunt (Wii U)

Perfect.It’s Duck Hunt. What more do you need to know?

I bought it on Christmas Day, when it was released on the Wii U Virtual Console, but only got round to playing it today. It plays pretty well, but it’s harder than I recall. I’m going to blame that on the Wii remote though, rather than my faded skills.

Once nice touch is how the speaker in the Wii remote makes the clicking and echo-y spring crunchy clangy noises of the original Zapper. Totally unnecessary, but pleasing to the ear. Sadly missed, though, is the lack of flashing screen when you pull the trigger. Yes, I know it’s because that’s how lightguns needed to work on a CRT screen, but it still feels like it should have been there.

Pop’n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (Wii U): COMPLETED!

What_do_these_3_Deadmau5_heads_actually_doIn a (very) late entry into completed games in the year 2014, I give you Pop’n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures! It’s not a shoot ’em up like the other Pop’n TwinBee games – instead being a platformer with some elements borrowed from the likes of Castle of Illusion, Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World, but somehow totally different from all of them.

RistarWhereas in the shooter games in the series you pilot a cute spacecraft and take down other cute spacecraft (like a chibi-1941), you pilot a cute spacecraft who runs and jumps around levels punching things and hitting foes with a big hammer. No, really.

I have played it before, a long time ago in an incomprehensible Japanese form, but something made me want to buy the Wii U English eShop version a couple of days ago. I never got very far previously, but made an effort to complete it this time.

ReznorAnd it was great! I did find it pretty easy, most of the bosses especially so, but there were a couple of levels I was stuck on for ages. They were both maze-like and I just couldn’t find the right exit. One of them involved lots of pipes, none of which seemed to take me to the exit which I’d clearly seen but was unable to reach. Another was made up almost entirely of destructible blocks, and although I could locate the exit without much issue, the key on that stage (which you can use to open doors to bonus areas on other stages) was apparently inaccessible. After 20 minutes I gave up looking for a way in.

Death_Egg_ZoneWhich means I finished without collecting all the keys. I don’t think they’re necessary for anything special, though, so I’m not too bothered.

In all, it’s a strange but enjoyable (and very Japanese) game, with varied levels, and it’s a shame I missed it first time round and never paid it much attention until now. Perhaps it’s the way it’s a spin-off, as they often don’t fare too well, but in TwinBee’s case, it’s well worth a look.

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.

Mega Man 6 (Wii U): COMPLETED!

MASTER_OF_TOMAHAWKAfter the slight drop in quality that Mega Man 5 brought to the series, I was glad to see that things improved for the final NES Mega Man outing.

As I’ve mentioned before, each game so far has added some new move, add-on or feature to the series. Mega Man 6 sort of brings two, as Rush is removed as a rocket/trampoline and becomes a sort of exoskeleton for Mega Man, giving him two new powers – a jetpack (which works for a very short amount of time) and a power suit which allows you to break cracked blocks (much like Guts Man’s power from the original Mega Man) and destroy some otherwise invincible enemies.

Roided_Up_Mega_Man_in_Secret_Room_WorldMost of the levels also include branching paths, including two different locations for the final bosses in each of the first 8 stages. Finding the alternative location results in an extra item in addition to the power that the boss normally leaves behind. Four of these items are the letters BEAT, which provides you with, obviously, Beat from Mega Man 5. I had to redo one of the levels to get the B as I’d missed it, but it wasn’t worth doing as Beat has absolutely no use anywhere in the entire game.

Impossible (3)Once more, the difficulty of the game has been reduced, meaning that apart from Mega Man 5, the games did get progressively easier as the series went on. In 6, this was in part because of the abundance of E-Tanks, but also because of the ridiculously simple to beat final boss(es) and some of the alternate routes in the levels (almost all of which I took) seemingly miss out large sections of the game.

And that’s it. All the NES Mega Man games done. End of an era, or something. Thankfully, there are plenty more SNES titles to work through next! Final best-o-meter: 6>4>5>3>2>1.

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.