dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I was thinking of posting this a few days ago, but I'm glad I waited because something else came up.

The Saturday before last was the 20th anniversary of Fallout, as I was reminded of by this RPS article. I heard of it the way I heard of most new computer games, through PC Gamer and its demo discs. After playing the demo, set in a town called Scrapheap and dealing with conflict between warring gangs, I was hooked. I got the game not long after it came out and played it three or four times before the sequel came out, which I played another half-dozen times. Both of these would foreshadow the thousand hours I spent in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

I remember poring over the character creation screen, picking the Gifted perk because of the bonus to stats, and tagging Speech, Science, and Energy Weapons, thus setting the template of being playing a cerebral sniper/wizard in basically every RPG I ever played. The early part of the game was brutal, but I persevered, found a laser gun, talked my way into people's good graces, and eventually made my way into the cathedral where I engaged the final boss in a duel of wits, demonstrated to him the impossibility of his plan, and in his despair, he set off the self-destruct sequence. I beat a boss without firing a shot.

That stuck with me, though mostly nowadays in how rarely games allow it.

I have a half-finished Fallout game on my PC now, where I tried to go through with an unarmed build but gave up because I couldn't find any unarmed weapons. Maybe I should go back to it and try to finish it off. I still remember everything.

Last week Monday was the American release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I was reminded about by this Retronauts article. When it came out I had no idea it existed--the most recent Castlevania game I had played in 1997 was Dracula's Curse--but [ profile] uriany bought it and we played it together. He already knew how to access the inverted castle, and where everything was, so he guided me through the game.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever because of the sheer degree of options and the chaos they unleash. It's not hard, but who cares? There are boots that "discretely increases height" that make Alucard's sprite one pixel taller. There's "Alucart" knock-off gear that increases his luck. There's armor that turns Alucard into an Axelord. There's an accessory that shoots lightning. And we killed Dracula with all of them. Balance is worthwhile, but it's not always the most important part of a game and it's possible to have fun without it. The fun in Symphony of the Night is in the variety of possibilities and the sense of discovery.

There's a dodo that drops a sword that spells out VERBOTEN when Alucard swings it. What more do you want? Emoji La

And yesterday was the original release of The Orange Box (RPS link), quite possibly the most dollar value I've ever gotten from a gaming product since Master of Magic. 2007 was when I was heavily into World of Warcraft and my gaming was mostly $15 a month plus the occasional other game--from summer 2007 to summer 2008 is the year I played Xenogears and Ōkami for the first time too--and then the Orange Box came out with Half-Life 2 plus Episodes 1+2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

It's funny to think that Half-Life 2 is probably the least consequential of those games, because at the time it felt monumental. That's before Valve stopped making games and before we understood how amazing Portal was. Team Fortress 2 may have since descended into a military-themed haberdashery, but as someone who played a ton of original HL Team Fortress at university, I got hundreds of hours out of it. It was especially fun playing while I was living in Japan. There were two servers I would habitually join. One downloaded roughly 200 sound clips when I first joined and the game was a aural assault of anime quotes spammed by people typing in text commands. The other was silent, organized, and everyone typed "otu" (otu -> お疲れ -> "thanks for your hard work") at the end of every match. It's Japan in microcosm, right in those two servers.

Portal memes were annoying, but the game deserved every bit of mind-share it got in popular culture. It was a complete experience in three hours, funny and charming and a little poignant all at once. I still have the companion cube plushy that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd snagged during one of its rare periods of availability. I remember friends being envious of it.

Portal II was too long, but Portal is nearly a perfect game.

("Gaming Made Me" comes from a similar feature that RPS does. Links here)
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I heard about Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Bonfireside Chat, as a game that was similar to some aspects of the Souls games that they really liked. Then I heard it was a metroidvania game. Well, that's all I need to hear. Sign me up.

I bought it, loaded it up, and took in the beautiful pixel art and moody music. And then I moved forward and was brutally murdered by a chibi with a shield.

A deadly ambush.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
Metroid II is the only Game Boy game I've played for longer than a few minutes. One of my sister's friends had a Game Boy, and for some reason that is still opaque to this day, her mother asked me to babysit for them. That mainly consisted of the friend watching TV while I played Metroid II, confusing myself with the changes between that and Metroid. Having to hunt metroids? Jumping morph ball? Trying to play a metroid game on a 160 x 144 pixel screen? I played for about half an hour, got nowhere, and then never played it again.

When I heard about Another Metroid 2 Remake, I figured it would end up vaporware like the various 3D Link's Awakening remakes or shut down before being released like Chrono Resurrection. To my utter astonishment, however, it was finished, released, and was out for almost a month before Nintendo DMCAed it. That was more than enough time for the internet to seize hold of it, and it's easy to find if you spend any time looking.

Threat detected

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
One of my favorite games for the original Nintendo was Blaster Master. I played it for hours doing the same levels over and over again, because it was extremely hard. About half of my games never got past the boss of level 3, and those that did never got past the crab boss in level 5. Only once did I ever manage to beat the crab boss, and that was the last time I played Blaster Master.

So when I heard that there was a remake coming out for the Nintendo Switch, I was almost more excited for that than I was for Breath of the Wild. One of the main games of my childhood brought into the modern era? The same gameplay and areas, still with pixel art, but with modern conveniences like the ability to save and Switch's suspending the game at any time? That sounds amazing.

And it is. We ordered the Master Edition of Breath of the Wild, but I'm not playing that. I'm playing Blaster Master Zero.

Blasting again!

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I wanted to play this game pretty much from the moment I first saw it, but it took me a long time to get to it. I didn't buy it until months after it came out, and then I just didn't get around to it. I've been watching more TV lately with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd now that we have some YouTube channels we like keeping current on and are watching more anime. I've been tinkering with some RPGs that I may or may not ever run. And there were all the other games I wanted to play. That playthrough of Baldur's Gate II that I'm currently 132 hours into and still not finished with. The Zelda games that I've decided I want to chron-game through as many as I can before the Switch comes out. Playing through Mass Effect III even though I hated Mass Effect II because I had to finish the trilogy and see if ME3 really was good for the first 90% and it was only the end that was terrible (spoiler: no, it's almost all terrible). You know how it is.

Wait, that's just me? Oh. Um.

You can't jump on the bubbles.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Default)
Last week was the 30th anniversary of the original Metroid, and I wrote about it. But this weekend I was looking to play something short as a break from the multiple sprawling dozens-of-hours RPGs that I'm working my way through, and while I originally was deciding between Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario Brothers III, and Slain: Escape from Hell, I realized that I hadn't yet played Zero Mission. I've heard multiple times that it's good enough to make the original Metroid completely obsolete and I've been meaning to play it for years at this point. What better time than in honor of the 30th anniversary? And now that AM2R is out--DMCAed, but the internet never forgets and it very specifically did not get C&Ded, so the author is still updating--I Wanted to play the first game before I played that.

I don't want to bury the lede, so I'll say that everything I heard about Zero Mission is right. It really does make the original obsolete.


Read more... )
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
I first found out about An Untitled Story from a thread on Fresh from futilely hurling myself at I Wanna Be the Guy, I downloaded it, played it a bit, then shelved it for a few months and picked it up again once I moved to Japan. And playing it now, I'm even more impressed with my reflexes, my sheer bloody-minded persistence, or the combination thereof? How did I get as far as I did in this game without a gamepad, using not just any keyboard, but laptop keyboard? This is hard enough now that I have a purpose-built controller. I'm retroactively impressed with myself.

I've learned since then that the designer of An Untitled Story went on to make TowerFall, which I haven't played but which I've heard a lot of good things about but have never played, mostly because it's local co-op only and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd isn't a fan of that sort of game. Or this one, really, though she cheered me on through my 47 deaths.

You're damn right I have.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
What does one write about perfection?

Symphony of the Night is the game I've beaten the second-most times, just behind Chrono Trigger (which I'm sure I'll get around to writing about one of these days). I still remember the first time I beat it, in [ profile] uriany's basement as we boggled at the choice of I Am the Wind as an ending theme. The gameplay leading up to it, I remember mostly in snatches. Farming for a Crissaegrim in the inverted library. Discovering that some weapons had special abilities you could activate using fighting-game-style button inputs. The way I was better at casting Soul Steal when it counted. Trying to do the tricks we had heard were possible--skipping Death at the beginning and keeping your equipment or dashing right at the beginning to end up outside the castle. They're both possible, but we never managed to do either of them.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever. It doesn't have the purity of Super Metroid, and definitely not that of Super Mario Brothers, but it has plenty of madcap possibilities and it's those that make me love it. It's relatively easy to shatter the game's balance completely and end up either invincible or the next best thing, but that's the price of freedom.

man /man/ noun 1. A miserable little pile of secrets.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Death Goth)
Like so many of the indie games I'm familiar with, I heard about Odallus through Rock Paper Shotgun. After playing Dark Souls last year, I was really interested in more games that recaptured that kind of feeling and Odallus seemed like it had a similar aesthetic. The Rock Paper Shotgun review that I read said:
Death comes swiftly but there’s no insta-gibbing and it definitely always felt like my fault. Lovely sense of exploration too.
...and since those are two of the major high points of Dark Souls for me, I put it on my wishlist and bought it during one of the Steam sales. When I got stuck in Gabriel Knight and was sick of talking to everyone about everything and clicking every item on everything, I booted up Odallus on a whim and got sucked in pretty quickly.

It's no Dark Souls, though.

I know that feel, bro.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Slime)
The problem I have with iOS games isn't anything conceptual or philosophical. I don't think they're ruining "real gaming" (whatever that means), and while freemium is a blight upon the earth, it's spread to all games everywhere know and isn't a mobile-specific thing. No, the problem is mostly that i never have time to play them. If I'm on public transit or in bed, I'm usually reading, and if I'm at home I have too many other games at my computer that I want to play, so those get priority. But as I write this I'm on a plane to Oregon for a two week family vacation, so before I left I took the opportunity to clean out some of my iTunes wishlist and loaded my iPad down with some games, and this is the first one I played.

Ready for adventure.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
Metroid is one of the franchises that makes me wonder what it means to call yourself a "fan" of a series. I mean, I could say I'm a Metroid fan, but I've only played and beaten Metroid, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion. I've played Metroid Prime but never beaten the final boss, and I've played Metroid II for maybe 20 minutes. That's a better ratio than I have for Zelda games, but it's not that great.

I suppose that's not that relevant to the topic at hand, though, which is how amazing Super Metroid is.

Samus Aran does not practice proper OpSec.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Capsule review: The beginning half an hour of Antichamber was one of the best puzzle games I have ever played, and then I got the first gun and it all went to shit.

Okay, that's a bit harsh. Maybe more like, "and it turned into Portal but not as good."

For background, Antichamber is kind of like Portal except with more non-Euclidean geometry and being inside an Escher painting. Making three lefts is not always the equivalent of making a right. Backtracking down a corridor does not always take you back to your starting point. You can fall down for a thousand meters and climb one flight of steps and arrive back at the floor where you fell from. That kind of thing. None of that was a problem, and indeed, it was actually really great. One of my favorite RPG scenarios ever is Night Floors by Dennis Detwiller, which has as its setting a house with similar properties, and based on the videos I saw of the game before I played it, I kept calling Antichamber "Night Floors: the Game." And that's not an inaccurate assessment, though Antichamber has fewer insane people in it.

In the beginning, you're just dumped into the world of Antichamber with no explanation and no understanding of what to do, and you have to learn how the world works as you go along. There are a lot of puzzles with incredibly simple solutions that require lateral or out-of-the-box thinking, helped along by signs with aphorisms like "The choice doesn't matter if the outcome is the same" or "Life is full of ups and downs" or "Raw persistence may be the only option other than giving up entirely." All of the signs have some relation to the puzzle they appear near, though it might not be the most obvious relation and may require some thought. Then, after passing through several trials and twisting your brain around itself, you find the first of the guns that let you manipulate the blocks you've seen here and there.

The problem with this is that now that you can move blocks around, block puzzles show up. That's bad enough, but the real problem is that there are multiple kinds of guns, each of which can manipulate blocks in different ways, and you need each gun to get the next color of gun. That's the classic Metroidvania formula, and usually I love Metroidvania games, but I don't think it works here.

The reason the first part of the game is so great is because you know that every single puzzle is solvable. You can bang your head against the wall for a while, but if you can't progress you know that it's just because you're approaching it the wrong way, or you're concentrating too much on the surface of the problem without looking at it from multiple angles, or because you haven't thought of some trick that's necessary to progress. You can go everywhere--you just need to think about it the right way.

But once you get the gun, you realize that's not actually true, and that some problems simply can't be solved without the advanced abilities of the later guns. The whole game becomes limited and a lot of it is just a tedious exercise in moving blocks from place to place. Sure, you still can't approach everything straight on, but more often it's just a question of where to move the blocks and how to get them through the fields that prevent you from transporting them with your gun than in interacting with the strangeness of the world.

The entrance room--the antechamber, if you will--does deserve some praise, though. When you start the game, you're in a black room with white lines, and several walls are blank. As you play the game, one wall fills in with the various pictures you find throughout the game, and the other wall is a map. Rooms that you have found all the exits from are distinguished from rooms that still have secrets, dead ends and exits to other areas of the map are marked, and you can teleport back to the entrance room at any time. It makes leaping around to go to different areas or resetting puzzles that you've screwed up much easier than any other Metroidvania or puzzle game I've played before, and while Antichamber's particular conceits make this an easier mechanic to integrate here than it would be in, say, Metroid, it'd be nice if they could find a way. One of the most aggravating and time-consuming parts of any Metroidvania is the running all over the place trying to find the place you need to use your newfound powers at.

It took me around five hours to beat, so half an hour of fantastic and the rest of an adequate puzzle game that honestly wasn't terrible, but the brillance of the opening made it look worse than it might be. I bought it at 75% off, and at that price it's certainly worth it. At the very least, play until you get the first gun, and if you find it tedious and boring, set it aside. You've finished the best part.


dorchadas: (Default)

October 2017

2 345 67 8
9 101112 1314 15
16 171819202122


RSS Atom

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags