Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (360): COMPLETED!

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve completed an Xbox 360 game. In fact, bar the odd bit of Minecraft, I’ve barely touched it in ages. Today my daughter wanted to play a Turtles game, so I picked this.

It’s the original arcade game from 1989, although I did complete it almost eight years ago. Blimey. Was the 360 even around that long ago?

This time was in co-op, obviously, and I found it easier than I remember. Sure, a billion credits were used (for some reason the game only gives you one life each credit? Pretty sure I must have missed a setting somewhere), but the bosses didn’t seem as indestructible as I recall.

Anywho, done. There was some technical issue aftermath, though. After playing, the game reverted to the trial version, and so to fix it I deleted it and went to redownload it. Of course, it’s not on XBLA any more. Nor was it in my download history. In fact, NOTHING was in my download history aside from Minecraft. Twice. Not on my 360 nor on the Xbox website. All very odd. Sorted it a few hours later when the Xbox Support Twitter account provided me with a link to my download history, which appeared to be the same URL as the one I’d visited previously, but this time it listed everything. Phew.

Retro City Rampage (360): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n1g9w6sqt41svmpf2o1_1280What a totally nuts game. So many ideas, parodies and play styles all thrown together, seemingly randomly, with intentionally terrible (well, great retro but terrible modern) graphics 1 and sound and garnished with groan-worthy puns and not-so-subtle innuendo.

And it’s brilliant.

One minute you’re in the sewers beating up ninja turtles, the next you’re a Ghostbuster, before taking part in a clone of Smash TV (where at one point you end up in the wrong TV studio and interrupt Phil Fish being interviewed), all via some Solid Snake Inna Box and pretending to be Batman. Not to mention Paperboy, Super Hang On, ‘Splosion Man and so many more. And GTA, which the main game overworld apes so obviously.

There are references to retro and modern games, TV and films everywhere. The developer pokes fun at terrible practices at large gaming companies at every turn. Games programmers, reviewers, PR people and “celebrities” pop up all over the place. There’s so much fun to be had before you even play the game.

Thankfully, the game still stands up as a game worth playing. Somehow, stitching these tropes and parodies together actually works. The game even riffs on itself by apologising for the tedious bits, using some deus ex machina to skip some sections that are obviously going to bore you (one fetch quest is cut short with a never used again warp whirlwind, a-la Mario 3). In fact, even some of the more difficult stages give you the option of skipping them, or you’re loaded up with better weapons to make things a bit easier. Add to this instant restarts and pretty frequent checkpoints and it’s clear the developer doesn’t want you to get bored.

Unfortunately, some of the stages are still a bit on the hard side (especially the final few), but that’s to be expected, I suppose. I did put some of the deaths down to a bizarre problem my 360 pad has developed where it moves to the left by itself. Odd.

Overall, well recommended. And other off my Pile of Shame. Phew!

Notes:

  1. Which you can change to make look even worse! Like it’s a C64 game or it’s running on a Game Boy!

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (360): COMPLETED!

Urgh. I really didn’t enjoy that. And, without spoiling it for anyone else, I can’t really explain why.

I didn’t get used to the two-person, two-sticks controls. The camera caused a few issues (in the snowy area, specifically, and on the final “boss”), and it was far too easy. But they are not the reasons I didn’t like it.

No, it was the story. The last bit of the story. Far too grim for me, especially the bit you do immediately after reaching the top of the Tree of Life. After I’d completed the game I genuinely wished I’d never played it. Horrible. Even worse than that bit in Prey.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (360)

I’m torn.

On one hand, this a beautiful, heart-wrenching puzzle-platformer. On the other hand, it’s ICO. Now, I sort of liked ICO. I liked the idea. I liked some of the puzzles. I liked the setting and the graphics (although the horrible low-res made my eyes explode). I didn’t like all the dragging Yorda round and stopping her getting killed, though.

This doesn’t have a lot of that, and the graphics are several billion times easier on the eyes, but still – it’s ICO.

Controlling both brothers at once is awful. Not so much when you do the puzzles like getting one to turn a handle and the other to run around, as you’re not physically making them move togther, but more just navigating from A to B. No matter how hard you try, one always veers off and gets stuck behind something or goes the wrong way, artificially making the easy bits of the game harder.

Since completion time has been reported at just 3 to 5 hours, I’d estimate I’m about half way through. Just after the bit where the younger brother hallucinates about the giant who seems to be his mum, anyway.

Bastion (360): COMPLETED!

A beautiful game. Gorgeous to look at. Fantastic music. Fun to play. Somewhat short, and incredibly easy (I didn’t die at all, ever), but really, really good.

After a few levels, I’d settled on the Fang Repeater and Machete as my weapon paring of choice. I set my special attack as the spinning shield thing, but frankly, I never needed it. Of course, I’d pick up other weapons along the way, but until I found the Calamity Cannon I swapped back to my mainstays as soon as possible. Both sword and gun were upgraded almost completely by the end, and tore through pretty much everything in seconds or less.

Spoilers follow…

The final few levels were a bit different from the rest of the game. Not only did I acquire the ability to jump (which was needed for about three minutes, when the game momentarily became a platformer), but I also picked up a massive battering ram, which replaced all my weapons until near the end of the level.

I chose to rescue Zulf, and then a slow walk to the skyway, whilst being shot at a lot until the Ura decided not to attack any more, and then chose the “evacuate” ending.

And then stupidly started New Game+, which meant I couldn’t return to the Bastion just prior to the final level and get the other ending. Tch.

Bastion (360)

After finishing Rayman, I found myself without a “currently playing” console game. Sure, I have a few that I’ve finished but not 100%ed, that I could have returned to (like Lego Harry Potter 2, Skylanders, or more Rayman), and yeah, I’ve Luigi’s Mansion on the go for “on the go”, and sure, I have The Wonderful 101 sat there unplayed… but I thought I’d play Bastion.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I’d been told it was good, and I’d read it was “a bit like Diablo” (which I’ve never really played), and some people said Heroes of Ruin was quite similar and I have played that, but I didn’t expect it to be exactly like Skylanders.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But it is very similar. Levels set in the sky. A narrator. A hub world you gradually built on using items called “cores”. Lots of barrels and chests and boxes in each level to smash and get money from. Upgrades to your weapons that you spend money on. Characters that gradually populate the hub world. Similar weapons. No jump button. Similar enemies. Similar graphical style.

You may say it’s all coincidence. You may say it’s a disservice to say Bastion is like Skylanders. But the fact remains – they are very, very similar. In a good way. Because I liked Skylanders and I like this.

I’m not terribly far in yet, having only just rescued the first guy and built the first building on the east half of the Bastion itself. I’ve currently settled on the bow and machete as my weapons of choice, with a mirror shield as a special. I’m really enjoying plowing through all the enemies, and the narrator is brilliant (and doesn’t interrupt what you’re doing so much as on Skylanders).

Some things I’ve played recently

Round up time!

Doritos Crash Course 2 (360)

I turned my 360 on for the first time in months this weekend, and my download queue kicked in. The first thing that downloaded was this. It is, considering how it’s both a shameless advert for Doritos and free, really good fun. Much like the first game, really.

I was enjoying it, until I ran out of the stars you need to buy the next level. You see, you collect and win stars in each level, and then you spend these to buy ever more expensive extra levels to progress. A bit like Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed. Only when I ran out of stars, I was told to buy some more. For real actual money. I said no and turned it off. Ain’t playing that again.

Cloudberry Kingdom (Wii U)

cloudberry

This promised to be a lot better than it turned out, sadly. It looks and plays like a freebie Flash game. A good one, sure, but still – it’s a purposefully hard platformer with a million levels that just ramp up the difficulty to “clearly impossible”. Although the levels are short, and you instantly restart, the harder levels are almost trial and error, or worse, luck – it’s impossible to see a path through the spikes and fire and stuff, let alone avoid them all.

It is fun, but perhaps more suited to an XBL Indie Game.

New Super Luigi U (Wii U)

weegiu

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this. I don’t enjoy Luigi’s jumpyslidey physics, and the game world seems to be the same as in Mario U. Having just 99 seconds to complete each level would, I thought, make them all a mad rush. No restart points would be frustrating.

But, of course, I was wrong. His floaty flutterjumps make some of the levels easier. The levels are shorter too, so the time limit rarely comes into play. In fact, the only thing I’ve not liked so far (and I’m up to the “in the clouds” world already!) is the lack of a restart point at the bosses. Oh, and the fact the bosses are the same as in Mario U, I suppose. Still, it’s really good and well worth getting.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (360): COMPLETED!

With one character, at least: all cash and goals on all levels GET!

That’s not the end though – oh no. There’s never really an end to proper Tony Hawk’s games anyway, but as well as having other skaters to play as, completing the game also unlocks a new game mode: PROjectives.

This is a new set of very hard objectives for each level. I’ve done all of them for The Warehouse already though 🙂

Besides doing that, I boosted my scores on some of the levels to remain top of my friends leaderboard. My overall score is about a million points ahead of that of the person behind me!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (360)

Let me say this:

BEST. GAME. EVAAR.

It’s a remix of THPS1 and THPS2, with new graphics. Which is instantly awesome. It even retains some of the music from the originals. And it only cost £8-ish. And you know I like Tony Hawk games. Oh yes.

It came out last Wednesday, and I’ve played it a LOT since. It’s pretty much perfect. Some people are saying it has framerate issues (it doesn’t), it’s not big enough (it’s plenty big enough for the cost, and there’s DLC on the way anyway), or it’s full of bugs (there are some odd physics-based glitches following bails, sometimes, but that’s it). And for everyone saying it’s impossible to play on the 360 d-pad – you’re doing it wrong: Use the analogue stick, fools.

So far, I’ve 100%ed all the levels bar the final one (Marseilles), and even on that I only have two goals left to get. After that? Well, a run through with someone else of course!

I did play it online, as much as my shoddy connection would allow (thankfully lag isn’t important too much in this game) and that was fun. It’s a shame there’s no HORSE, or even any offline multiplayer, but they’re the only negative points I can stick in.

Awesome.

Fez (360): COMPLETED!

To begin with, Fez is a Cave Story-looking 2D platformer. Then, about 5 minutes in, a thing happens and suddenly everything is 3D. Sort of. It’s still 2D but with four 2D planes, each mapped to the sides of a cube which you can freely rotate.

Then it becomes a different sort of platform game, which is more puzzley (you have to figure out how to rotate the playfield to progress), and somewhat explorey as you search for  cubes and bits of cubes which eventually open doors.

As you wander the game world, which is mostly lovely with bouncey-bright colours and blue skies and stuff, you take in the architecture. The markings on the walls. The pictures and posters in the rooms. Then you realise – they’re not just for show. They’re telling you things. Secret things.

In fact, there’s a whole alphabet to decipher, a counting system, and even a set of shapes that correspond to buttons on your controller. Figuring these all out, and what to do in certain rooms with these clues and others, is where the real game is. Getting 32 cubes and seeing the end? That’s just platforming. Exploring and getting 100% is a totally different game, with a different way of playing and even a different set of rules and ways of looking at things. Two games in one, pretty much.

It’s funny too, and filled with references to other games. One of the areas of the game is all original Gameboy monochrome too, and accessed via a pipe. The way your hypercubeic guide says “Hey, Listen!” in a homage to Navi was great as well.

Getting the first 32 cubes to complete the game, like I did today, is fun and mostly simple. There’s no real fear of death (you always respawn instantly on the last solid platform you were on), so you don’t have to worry about pixel-perfect jumps. There’s nothing especially tricky, and you don’t even hit many puzzles before the end sequence. After that, in New Game+ (where you restart the game, keeping everything already gained and with the map kept as “open” as before), the puzzles and real quirky stuff starts properly. I’ll certainly be trying to get 100% in this, as it’s fantastic.

Sadly, the game is tinged slightly with silly bugs and performance issues. It’s too easy to “fall out” of the world, especially inside rooms. Moving from area to area is often really jerky, and the sound frequently breaks up. It’s easy to get stuck in a “death loop” where you respawn in an area that instantly kills you, and at least twice I got killed by acid at the same time as being sucked into a black hole, which hangs the game. Still, you never lose more than a few seconds progress, so it’s just a bit disappointing when the rest of the game is so very, very good.

 

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space: Episode 5 (360): COMPLETED

All done!

I don’t know whether or not the final episode was shorter, or if the puzzles were just more obvious, but it didn’t seem to take me very long to save Hell (and by extension, the world). A very Soda Poppers (sorry, %$&* Poppers) heavy episode, but that was OK given the outcome. Is that spoilers?

I might give Sam and Max a bit of a break now though, until the next series is found cheap somewhere!

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space: Episode 4 (360): COMPLETED

That was ace.

By far the best of the series. Unless Episode 5 beats it, of course. Loved Superball again, mainly because he’s so deadpan. The mariachis were all sorts of amaze, and the Max/Ms Bosco “relationship” was fantastic. The baby making machine, and the various possible Bosco outcomes awesome too.

And, best of all, it relied upon proper, logical puzzles instead of try everything on everything puzzles. Yay!

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space: Episode 3 (360): COMPLETED

Thankfully, this was much better than the previous episode. By several orders of magnitude. The puzzles were far better this time around, and Jurgen is amazing. He was just like you’d expect a gay emo Euro-vampire to be.

I’m starting to notice, however, that every task in every game seems to be made up of three mini-tasks. I’m not the only one to notice, either – even Max makes a comment about it!

Nice to see Superball back too. He was one of my favourite characters from the first “series”. Way better than the irritating Soda Poppers, who – thankfully – haven’t been spotted since Episode 1 of this series. Phew!

Made a start on Episode 4 after 3 too, and it’s been even better so far!

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space: Episode 2 (360): COMPLETED

It’s been a while, but I went back to this today.

Unfortunately, I found it a bit of a slog. I know the puzzles on previous Sam & Max games have been more than a little, uh, obtuse, but I was finding this one even more illogical than before and it took ages to get through. It also wasn’t as funny as other episodes, and although I spent longer on it due to not knowing what to do, it was actually a lot shorter in terms of number of things that needed doing. If that makes sense.

Stuff wot I are bin playing

I’ve not posted in a while, aside from to mention Yakuza 3 and Old World Blues, but I have still been playing games. Here’s a round-up of what’s been going down over the last few weeks:

Professor Layton and the Lost Future (DS)

I actually completed this at the start of the year, but as I did with the previous two games once the story was done I left the remaining puzzles until near the release of the following game. So, with that due in November, I went back to Lost Future. I’ve already mopped up all the story puzzles, the sticker book, the parrot delivery puzzles, and the toy car, and have done most of the bonus extra puzzles too.

As usual, the puzzles I struggle with are the slide-a-block-through-other-blocks ones, one of which (having checked online afterwards to see how poorly I did) can be completed in just 9 moves. Took me almost 3500. Yes.

Urban Champion 3D (3DS)

It’s a weak title, sure. It’s certainly not a “NES classic”, but somehow, it’s addictive. I’ve made it up to (I think) Area Champion, but then died. You don’t seem to lose your rank when you die though – you just have to start from the first round again.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (3DS)

The only 2D Zelda game I’ve not completed. In fact, I’ve barely played it. But I put some time in and once you forget it’s a Zelda game and look at it as a Metroidvania game with an overworld and semi-random, realtime battles, it makes a lot more sense. It’s brutally hard though!

Metroid (3DS)

Another one of the NES games us 3DS “ambassadors” got for free. It’s hard. Like, really hard. And there’s no map. I sort of like it, but the difficulty is really putting me off.

Balloon Fight / Mario & Yoshi / NES Open / Wrecking Crew (3DS)

Other NES games that I’ve played for an hour or so each, but not really invested too much time in yet. Wrecking Crew is ace, and NES Open is still a pretty competent golf game.

Let’s Golf 3D (3DS)

Enjoying this. The 3D is pointless (as in, it barely has any effect at all), but it doesn’t really matter. I’m about 35% through Career Mode now, and am starting to get used to the courses. The arctic and aztec ones are particularly difficult! I like the different game modes too, like Closest To The Pin and such.

10 Second Run (3DS)

It’s actually DSiWare, but I don’t have a DSi so it falls under 3DS. So there. Loved it at first, with its super-quick runny-jumpiness, but sadly – just like other games of its ilk (N+, Super Meat Boy) – it became far too hard to be enjoyable. I’ve completed about 38 of the 50 levels, and although I know there are 5 or 6 more I could probably manage with perseverance, some just seem completely beyond me. Boo!

Bomberman Live! (360)

I was online this evening at the same time as some ugvm/BETEO people who were playing this, and I thought I’d join in hoping my useless “broadband” connection could take the pace. It held up for the first few rounds, but by the end of the first tournament the lag was causing me to blow myself up far too frequently, and by the end of the second tournament I was been told over the headset that I’d died before I actually noticed on-screen. Rubbish.

And I’d have beaten all-comers if it wasn’t for Sky! *shakes fist*

Kirby’s Fun Pak (Wii)

The SNES game on the Wii, to be more accurate. Mainly played because my daughter sometimes tells me to play Kirby games, and so this appeases her, but it is good anyway. Only one game mode left to complete, I think, though.

Is that everything I’ve played recently? Probably. Except for stuff I’ve played briefly. Like, but not limited to: Outrun Online Arcade (360), Sonic the Hedgehog (360), Super Mario All-Stars (Wii), Muscle March (Wii), and various iPad “room escape” games. And the usual Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends and Carcassonne matches too, of course.