When this was shown in some eShop roundup a while back, I was only slightly interested. Since then, I was less and less interested as the screenshots I’d seen looked pretty poor and, well, I had too many other games to bother with it. However, when it was released last week (or the week before?) it was on special offer for just £4. The videos made it look a bit more impressive than the screenshots, so I thought, yeah, OK.
I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t a fantastic game by any means, but it’s fun enough. Rolling Armillo around feels a little like games such as Kororinpa and Mercury to start with, with some Mario Galaxy “on a planetoid” inspiration. Sadly, it’s no Mario Galaxy in gameplay, although it does have a similarly huge number of ideas in one game.
Whereas Mario Galaxy’s levels were all different, with many throwaway (as in, used once) ideas that the levels were based around, Armillo’s ideas mostly feel shoehorned in. Few of them are truly bad ideas, but there are too many, with hardly any of them fully realised.
For example, there’s a powerup which turns the game into a twin-stick shooter for a few minutes. Another which makes you big to squash things. Keys to find, switches to press, buttons which duplicate your ‘dillo. Even a whole timed section in each level. There are bonus levels (some of which aren’t optional) which are side-on platformers – again with several unnecessary ideas.
It’s also pretty short, although I haven’t found all of the bonus and secret (yes, it has both) levels. There’s also a really nasty screen freezing bug which almost pauses the action for a couple of seconds – which happens at least once on most of the levels.
Perhaps with some more polish – on the bugs, the presentation, and the puzzles – and with some of the fat trimmed so fewer ideas were included but they were fully developed, this could have been great. As it is, it’s well worth £4, but it’s by no means a must-buy.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is an updated version of the original Guacamelee, with new areas and a new boss and some other new stuff. Apparently. I don’t know exactly what is new as I’ve never played the original. Or even been interested in it. When it came out over a year ago, I barely paid it a passing glance. Yeah, it looked quite nice, but was a PS3 title so it dropped off my radar and I forgot about it.
Then it was revealed that it was coming to more platforms this year, and I ended up reading more about it. Passively, until the magic “metroidvania” word was said. It’s like an instant interest trigger. When it was released on the Wii U, I pounced on it, and I’m glad I did because it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year.
It definitely is a metroidvania style game, but with added combo-fuelled fighting (the “‘melee” of the title) and more tricky platforming than is usual for the genre. But that’s fine, and they’re both great additions. As you’d expect, exploration of the world reveals new abilities (by way of “Choozo” statues, in one of several thousand Metroid references) which in turn allow further exploration of the world.
Soon your luchador hero (oh yeah, the whole game is Mexican wrestler/Día de Muertos themed) can do a massive uppercut, double jump, run up walls and fly horizontally. And turn into a chicken at will. Yes.
These moves not only allow access to new and secret areas, but can also be used in combat to lengthen combos and assist in taking down certain foes weak to specific attacks. It’s a fighting game that requires a bit more thought than most.
In addition, the entire world is split between two geographically similar but graphically different planes – the land of the living, and the land of the dead. At various points in the game you’re taken between these two realities, but later you gain a power-up that lets you swap at will, flicking between two versions of the same area. Since some items, characters, platforms and dangers only exist in one plane or the other, swapping between two adds another layer to puzzles, exploring and platforming. Some of the most difficult platforming I’ve ever come across, in fact, once all your powers and abilities are available.
For example, there’s an area where you must flick between each plane (twice) while double-jumping, followed by an upper-cut, to land on a wall which only appears in one of the two planes. It’s about eight button presses in under a second, in a precise order while still “steering” your man, and you have to remember to hold a direction at the end or he falls off. In the Tree Tops area of the game, I failed to reach the prize because my fingers and brain simply couldn’t co-operate successfully to navigate the clearly impossible obstacle course and my game pad almost suffered a catastrophic industrial accident.
Bosses follow the same tradition as the 2D Castlevania games by being completely impenetrable until you actually watch carefully, take your time, and only attack when absolutely safe. When you know how to beat them, they’re a walkover, but until then you feel like you’ve hit the wall and want to rage quit. There’s nothing quite the same as the feeling when you finally best them. Especially the final one. Hoo boy.
Despite the frustrations in both battle and navigation, or perhaps because of them, Guacamelee is hugely enjoyable. Metroidvania games always have a pull due to how a new ability suddenly rejuvenates the game, pushing back bedtime just a little longer while you “just see how this works” and “I wonder if I can now reach…”. The actual game doesn’t really need to be particularly impressive in order to hook me with this mechanic, but as a bonus, Guacamelee is more than impressive in most respects.
The graphical style is beautiful. The music is a fantastic arrangement of Mexican themes. The story is interesting. There are funny characters and so many references to other games, not just Metroid. Everything comes together to be fun, fluid, and moreish. I enjoyed it so much that I completed it in but a few sittings.
It isn’t especially long (around 6.5 hours, my Wii U stats report), but I’ve stuff left to do provided my controller can remain intact for the remainder. I seems I bumbled into the bad ending, where I didn’t collect all of the mask. Naturally I didn’t know about the existence of the mask until after I’d beaten the final boss – another nod to Castlevania titles – so even after it’s done, the game still pulls you back for more.
Anyone know anywhere selling Wii U game pads cheap?
That’s clearly a pimp, not a boss. And it’s the final “main” level in the game. Which was really pretty difficult, mainly due to needing to set up so many blocks before you could progress to setting up other blocks. Having said that, I’ve had a few levels which I’ve struggled for half an hour or more on, and this took less than that.
With the main 120 levels done, and the end sequence watched (or rather, played – there’s a star-finding minigame over the credits), I’m still almost 120 levels short of doing all those available. I unlocked a new set after the credits, and there’s still the other game modes to do, so still plenty of game left.
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.
Despite not “digging” the Arkham Asylum demo all those years ago, I got thoroughly hooked on the full game. This surprised me, as I’m normally not a fan of stealth action games, but you don’t have to play 100% stealth with Batman and even when you do, the hiding is varied and fun, rather than rigid and frustrating.
I played Arkham City and enjoyed that as well, although it wasn’t as good as the first game. The interior sections were great, but the outdoor city traversal bits didn’t really fit so well. I’d heard that Arkham Origins was a little further away from perfection again, but I figured that even it it was half as good as Asylum, it’d still be better than most other games.
So far, I’ve been mostly right. It’s set before both previous games, but in the main city so much of the map I’ve been through so far is familiar, if a bit less run down and ruined. It’s still pretty much devoid of anyone bar thugs though, which seems silly.
The plot is mainly about Black Mask, a shadowy mafia type boss who has hired a load of assassins to bump off Batman, and Batman’s attempts to find both him and why he’s doing this. Although most of the assassins are lesser known Batman villains (at least one was created for this game, I believe), I’ve already come up against the Penguin in his arms dealer role. One of his floozies, Tracey, has this awesome British accent and kept saying I was “proper nawty”. Was almost a shame to break her arm and chuck her in a cage.
I’ve had two boss fights so far. One was incredibly easy (literally one hit) with “The Electrocutioner”, who was all mouth and no trousers. The other was really pretty difficult against Deathstroke, who took a lot of counterattacking and bat-clawing to take down. Many, many retries there.
Aside from those bits, it’s all what is now pretty standard Batman fare. Picking off guards one by one by stringing them up, creeping up behind them, or grabbing them off ledges. Hacking computers. Scanning things in Detective Mode. It’s all the same as what went before, but that isn’t a bad thing as that’s what makes these games so good. That and the meaty you-can-feel-the-punches combat, anyway.
What isn’t good, and what seems to be a common thing with more and more games these days, are the bugs. Some really nasty ones which really break the game, and have been pretty frequent. There are two main recurring bugs I’ve come across: The first is when all the on-screen prompts disappear, which makes it harder in general but when it happened fighting Deathstroke and it’s essential for countering attacks, a nightmare. Image QTEs only without any prompts. Somewhat hard.
The other was when the camera decided to “lock on” to something which I’d been forced into looking at (e.g. another character), but was then never released properly, meaning I (as the viewer, not Batman himself) continued to look at the same point even when walking away from it. This also happened in the Deathstroke fight.
There are other bugs (I had a FMV sequence hang, but only for video – the sound, and then the game, continued but I couldn’t see anything but a frame of the video), but nothing as major as these. Just more sloppiness, I suppose. It’s a shame coming into another bugfest right after The Lego Movie videogame, but at least the game good enough that I still want to play it.
With Lego done and dusted I was all set to start on Batman: Arkham Origins but for some reason I decided to play this instead. I’ve been eyeing up the icon on the Wii U home screen for a while, thinking about finishing the other game in the Chronicles of Mystara package (I completed what turned out to be the second one a while back). So I did.
It’s not as polished as Shadow of Mystara, but then it is several years older. The graphics aren’t as good, the game is shorter with fewer branching paths, and I don’t think there are as many characters to choose from (I picked “Fighter” this time).
The main gameplay difference is how much more simple it is to select secondary weapons (like bows and magic) compared to the other game. This is probably down to having fewer options, but it means it’s a lot less fiddly. Having said that, they’re all pretty useless – aside from the oil “grenades” which you need to finish off trolls. Apparently they don’t actually die unless you burn them.
Oh, and here’s a little hint for you: when you get asked if you want to take the long, easy route round a mountain, or the short route through the mountain BUT THERE’S A MASSIVE DRAGON WHO KILLS YOU IN ONE HIT, take the long route. Because I said “Pff, dragons schmagons”, and was asked if I was sure. “I can slay a feeble dragon!”. I was asked again if I was sure. “Yes! Let me at him!”. I was asked if I realised it was certain suicide. This went on for a while, but finally, I was allowed to fight the dragon.
Some 20 credits later, one dead dragon.
The end of game boss was a complete walkover in comparison. In fact, the whole of the rest of the game, including the Shadow Elf (who was pretty difficult, both times you fight him). Be warned.
Just a quick post here, really, to say I’ve now 100%ed it. In total it took about 16 hours, so is definitely the shortest Lego game ever. Ever.
As it turns out, free play mode is even more full of bugs than normal Story mode. The main reason seems to be because of sequence breaking – all too often you can break the scripted sequence of the game (skipping areas or puzzles because you now have character abilities that allow you to), but most of the time this prevents the game from progressing as something later won’t trigger. The game should either prevent sequence breaking, or accept it and deal with it in the game logic.
Sure, the same issues are in many Lego games, but nowhere near as frequent or serious as here! It all feels like the game was rushed and not playtested enough, which is a shame. Still, I did really enjoy it.
Except for one section. On the way to Flatbush Gulch you freefall through a portal. After a corner in the sort of tunnel you’re in, there’s a gold instruction page to grab. Which is impossible. Until you’ve tried it a million times, quitting to the hub (loading…) then reentering the level (loading…) each time. Over and over. And over. AND OVER. Gah.
Before I start, no. I don’t have all the stars and all the kart pieces and won every cup on every CC. But I have 100%ed 50cc and am missing just one star on 100cc. Like previous Mario Kart games, I’m counting seeing the credits. And I’ve seen the credits.
Why haven’t I done 150cc? Because I haven’t yet. I keep meaning to, but the online – even against randoms – is just too easy to slip into and then two hours have gone by and you’ve forgotten to play offline. Again.
I do love a good Lego game. I’m actually quite keen on the bad ones too, although there aren’t really any. None I’ve played, anyway, and I don’t count any Lego game that isn’t the now-standard collect everything smash everything OCDfest style Lego game.
However, despite all of them (even the Harry Potter ones) being generally fantastic, most are full of bugs. Very few have failed to not lock up my console at least once, and most have scripting errors where triggered events don’t trigger. This game, however, is the very worst when it comes to bugs. So. Many. Bugs. It’s like that bit in Wreck-It Ralph where all the eggs hatch.
Bugs, not limited to the following:
Console lockups (Wii U needs unplugging)
Controls simply not working
Player 1 suddenly controlling player 2 (and player 2’s controller doing nothing)
Wii U gamepad suddenly not showing that player’s screen
Scripted sequences not happening
Sound disappearing completely from cut scenes
Level music “running out”, leaving just sound effects
Being able to collect 4 of 3 instruction sheets
Being unable to progress past the level end score roundup thing
Getting stuck in scenery
The 10th gold brick in the bonus level (on top of the desk) not appearing
Being unable to grapple on Batman/Wonder Woman grapple points
Indestructible Micro Managers (which you have to defeat to progress)
Getting trapped in Brickburg hub was Lord Business with his big legs on
On screen prompts telling me to press Z or C when using a Controller Pro. Got that a lot. And B, when they mean Y
The dancing minigame not accepting any input from either controller
Being stuck as Angry Unikitty forever, meaning I can’t progress as she’s too big to enter a door
Once the game deciding I wanted to play split screen on the TV half way through a level instead of a screen each like for the whole of the rest of the game
BUGS. And that’s not my only complaint. This game is really short. I think the previous most shortestest Lego game I’ve 100%ed was Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (which also happens to be the previous most buggiestest too), which I think took about 9 hours to finish, and about 30 to 100%. Lego Movie took 8 hours to finish, and 12 hours to reach where I am now at about 82%. The rest is just gold instruction manual and hidden pants mop up – I’ve done all the red bricks and characters already!
But none of this really matters because the game is great. The characters and cutscenes (mostly ripped right from the film) are great. It’s all great. But not Everything is Awesome, sadly.
Perhaps the release date was tight as it needed to tie in with the film. Perhaps it’s a bit simplified because it’s aimed a little more at kids than previous titles. Maybe it’s just the Wii U version hampered by all the bugs (although I suspect not). Whatever it is holding it back is a shame, but even the worst Lego game is still a great Lego game.
I’m not going to say very much about this apart from that I’ve spent many hours on it already today and it’s fantastic. No, it’s more than fantastic. Especially online, where I managed to hold my own. Which was nice.
I’ll post again with more details in the future, but for now, here’s my very first race:
None of the levels are especially hard, so it was only a matter of time before my play on this, sporadic as it was, brought me to the end.
Some levels were fun, and overall the game is good, but a few levels are ruined by making walls and floors move without giving you time to react. You have no option but to die, because you don’t know what is coming next. Sure, dying isn’t that terrible here – you’ve no limit on lives and you can still S rank a level even if you peg it multiple times – but those levels where you only progress a little bit further each attempt then die because something else unexpected happens, over and over, take something from the formula.
Still, it was less than two quid, kept me entertained for several hours (over many weeks), and the music and art style are both fantastic. Even if there aren’t enough tracks so they repeat just a little too frequently.
I’ve still got the bonus levels (bonus == optional) to finish off, so it’s not all over yet, but the main two game modes are done, so it’s completed in by book.
It has been a long time since I’ve been hooked on a shooter. Obviously, Scram Kitty isn’t just a shooter. It’s more a… erm, puzzle game? Platformer? All of the above?
It’s damn hard, that much is certain. So how come I got hooked on a shooter (not my sort of thing) which was damn hard (I’m a wuss with hard games)? Aside from it not being a shooter, of course. Despite all the shooting.
I don’t know. Some of it is the gorgeous pixel art. Some is probably the clever game mechanics of being stuck to rails and every surface having gravity. Some is the gotta catch ’em all gameplay. The main thing is it’s addictive and I just wanted to keep playing.
Having now completed it, I’m not sure I’m as compelled to keep saving kitties as I was. You need 70 to open up the last level, and I suspect it’s 100 in total to get them all. I just don’t have the skill to do that. Hitting 70 was a struggle, and, truth be told, once I hit 50 I thought I was done. As fun as the game is, and as great as it feels to get all the kitties in a level, I just can’t bear to spend hours more chasing the same cat over and over.
I don’t think that matters though. I’ve had lots of fun and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely one of the better games on the Wii U eShop, and I can fully recommend it to anyone – shooter fan or not. It’s unique, stylish and rewarding.
I’ve been picking at this for the last couple of weeks, doing a cup or two here and there. It still plays well, I still remember the tracks and most of the tricks, and I’ve found myself wanting Mario Kart 8 as a result. Previously I wasn’t really that fussed. Now, NEED.
I’ve done all of 50cc and most of 100cc so far, but I’ve seen the credits so it’s finished if not 100%ed. That’s not terribly important though!
Yes, I know it’s not considered to be a great game. And I know it’s less than an hour long. And yes, I know it’s very, very easy. And I’m aware of how the graphics are a bit odd and how the viewport is too small and that the controls aren’t as tight as most Mario games. I know all this.
But it doesn’t matter because Yoshi’s Story is the most god damn happy game ever made and if you don’t grin from ear to ear for the entire duration you play, frankly you are dead inside and have no soul.
And I’ve just completed it on the Wii U, via the Wii. Because my daughter told me to. And it was great. So there.
A very nice person out there sent me a copy of this for my birthday, which luckily I received just a couple of hours before I was going to buy it anyway. Phew, eh?
A few years ago, probably when I got my free subscription to PS+ for that Sony hacking thing that happened just as I got my PS3, I played a game called “The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character”. You were an octopus that stuck to platforms and rotated round the outside of them. It was billed (at least, that’s my recollection) as a “one button” game, with that button being “jump”, which let you (obviously) jump – onto other platforms that you then started to rotate around.
It was quite basic, but enjoyable. I had one major concern though – having the octopus only able to rotate one way made the game unnecessarily harder and slower. I even complained about this to the developer. To which he replied “then press the reverse direction button”. facepalm.jpg.
To be fair to me, the reviews (and, if I recall correctly, the PSN blurb) state it’s a one button game. At least, I think they did at the time. Which implies you only use one button. So why would I think there was a second button? Silly. Anyway, my PS+ sub ran out and with it the licence to play the game evaporated and that was that.
Until Scram Kitty came on the scene. From Dakko Dakko, the same developer as the aforementioned tentacle based title. Graphically, it’s totally different, and it certainly isn’t one (or even two) button controlled, but after playing it for a few minutes you realise that 2D Octopus is like a tech demo that had morphed into something really quite special.
You still stick to walls and rotate around them, and you still collect things (dots rather than baby octopii), but now you’ve free control over the direction (and speed) of both rotation and jump, you’ve got guns, and every platform has its own gravity so there’s some Mario Galaxy style physics shenanigans as you navigate through the levels. You’ve also got a sort of fiery spin double jump which can cut through certain enemies and objects, and increase your jump height and distance so you can reach other platforms and pass obstacles.
The aim is to rescue Scram Kitty of the title, who appears to be trapped in a TV show which he’s forced to present (on the TV as you play on the Wii Gamepad) – the show following you as you progress through the game to rescue him. Imagine The Running Man only as well as saving yourself, you also had to save Damon Killian. Sort of. It doesn’t have to make sense.
Along the way you rescue other kitties. Aside from the first few “tutorial” levels, there are four kitties in each stage. One is rescued simply by reaching the exit. Another by defeating a Mouse Commander (a stronger enemy than most of the Mouse Grunts) then reaching the exit, a third by collecting all 100 dots in a stage (and again, reaching the exit) and the fourth which is impossible.
Well, usually impossible. Once you find him, he moves to another location and you’ve a short amount of time to reach him. When you do, he moves on again. Like The Littlest Hobo. Fail to get to him in time, and you have to try again from his start point. “Frustrating” is a gross understatement.
The map screen gradually unlocks as your rescued kittycount increases. Numbered doors open as you reach the required number of saved cats, allowing access to new levels. It works in a similar way to Mario 64’s stars, where you don’t have to collect all the kitties to progress, but doing so allows access to levels sooner.
After the first few levels I realised that some of the additional kitty challenges were currently beyond me. Some of the “main” kitty challenges, which “just” require reaching the exit are tough as nails as it is, but the other ones? No. Actual. Way. Until I’ve had a lot more practice, at least.
In the sort-of centre of the map, there’s a room with Scram Kitty on it, and a 70 Kitty Requirement for it to open. I don’t currently know if I just need to get 70 kitties and can then do this level to win the game, or if there’s more afterwards, but I’ve only 32 kitties so far and there’s a lot of map that isn’t open yet, so I’m nowhere near any sort of end.
Except perhaps my end, as it’s so damn hard. I’m not normally a fan of incredibly difficult games, but somehow that doesn’t matter here.