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Category Archives: Games I’m Playing

My mini-blog-series, Games I’m Playing, runs whenever I’m playing something and I feel like it deserves a mention.

Today is apparently Play Some Really Freaking Furry Games Day because both games I’m talking about are ANIMALERRIFIC. Both for very different reasons.
Let’s start with Dust: An Elysian Tail, an Xbox 360 Arcade game.

More like Dust: My Videogame Fantasy. Seriously, it’s like someone sat down and looked at all my favorite things and stuck them together: furries, cute characters, Metroidvania, beautiful flowing 2D animation, super high difficulty available. Dust had every opportunity to be a mediocre game with amateur art and a cliche storyline about some overpowered dude getting redemption for bad things and just being SUCH A BADASS I MEAN LOOK AT HIM.

But no, crazy as it sounds, this Metroidvania adventure full of fuzzy, cute things, made mostly by ONE GUY (he seriously did all the art, animation, coding (he knew nothing about programming before this. It doesn’t show at all), and putting everything together. He only got outside help for voices, writing and music,) actually has a really good story with well-written characters and it’s fun as heck to boot. Combos are so much fun to pull off, and enemies give just the right amount of warning and dish out serious hurt to make you watch out to not open yourself to attacks.

There’s one issue I have with the game, and that’s a fairly bad design decision involving these bubble things that randomly burst with deadly poison droplets all over. I’m playing on the hardest difficulty (not recommended unless you love pain like me) and made the choice to drop most of my stat points (DID I MENTION THIS ALSO HAS RPG ELEMENTS <3) into attack, purposely ignoring HP and defense, so I die in two hits at most. (seriously not recommended) Well, the problem is there’s such a short amount of warning before those things explode on you, there’s often not enough time to get out of the way, and the randomness of it can cause them to go off after 10 seconds… or 1/5th of a second. And they’re all over, so it’s not uncommon to have them all around you, rapid-firing until you’re screwed into a corner. I died a lot at those parts.
Though, during a miniboss fight I noticed they gave a lot more warning and it was actually possible to not die horribly there. I THINK they do that normally on the lower difficulties, only going bats*** crazy on you on Hardcore. That’s really the only way I can see that sort of thing getting through testing, honestly.

So, as long as you’re not a super-masochist you’ll be fine. If you are a super-masochist, you’ll probably enjoy it in some dark way anyway. (hehe…eh..) Overall, it’s a really great game regardless of the problem I ran into. I can hardly recommend it more if anything I said about it piqued your interest. Go watch some gameplay.. I won’t be going anywhere…

SO, on the subject of dying, let’s talk about an equally fuzzy game about animals!
This one features a lot of dying. Lots of eating things and if you’re like me, lots of being eaten. (I’M A TERRIBLE POMERANIAN)

Yes, it’s Tokyo Jungle, a PS3 downloadable about an animal- and plant-infested Tokyo where every furry’s favorite apocalypse scenario somehow took place. All humans died off 10 years ago but everything else is okay!

It’s an action/stealth game all about surviving in this harsh jungle-ified Tokyo. There’s a story mode which has you playing different animals and slowly telling the story of how the humans all died out as you find clues left over from civilization. Then there’s Survival mode, where you just try to last as long as you can. (and everything wants to kill you) You gain points for completing little mission objectives (usually having to do with stuff to help you survive) and lasting a long time and you find all sorts of collectibles as you explore. It’s really well done but so far I haven’t had the chance to unlock something less… prey-ish. I mean, the deer can kick a cat off a roof, and the pomeranian is the cutest rabbit-mauling machine ever, but both of them are pretty low on the food chain.

Not that I mind being low on the food chain, but it means a lot of running, and a lot of running faster than the other thing running from the thing that wants to eat you.

It’s a great mix of action and fight/flight, and already I’ve run into a LOT of interesting scenarios and one CRAZY near-death experience I’m still shocked didn’t end my poor deer’s life prematurely. There’s a great mix of mechanics at work, and I’ve only had it for a day. So far, it’s been very much worth the $15. And I’ve played two of the like-60-something animals in the game. It’s crazy how many there are, and they’re all playable. I’ve done one survival session that lasted over an hour (I think) and I still don’t have a clue what the stamina bar is for, so there’s a mechanic in play I probably don’t know a thing about yet.

From here, it looks like there’s a LOT of content to spend time on. And I just love the fact that everything is playable. Even the chicks. They’re like the popcorn chicken of the game, almost no defensive abilities, really slow movement, such a small target that they’re in a whole new low tier all their own compared to everything else. You kind of feel bad slaughtering them for food. And I just unlocked them for play!

Speaking of slaughtering for food, while the “gore” in this game is really more arcadey than realistic, it still heavily features visceral throat-biting, face-clawing, chewing on dead things, etc. You will have to abandon your brothers and sisters as a pack of wolves mauls them and you escape alone to live another day. You will be forced to tear apart cute little dogs and cats and rabbits for the sake of survival.
Tokyo Jungle is a very flatly natural sort of game, very much focused on eat-or-be-eaten. It’s almost like an action game adaptation of the nature channel. Things die, mates must be found and babies must carry on the survival of the family. Most won’t make it to see another year, and when you inevitably die you’re just some predator’s lunch. I really like that about it. Not many games really make use of the different skills of animals, and fewer still try to mimic natural selection and survival of the fittest, but it really does make a great game.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, I’d recommend checking it out. If I have, please watch the following “Tokyo Jungle” gameplay footage and tell yourself it’s all going to be okay: http://youtu.be/AD-B2NcxZDs

It also seems my Wii broke. :,(

It’s still turning on and making noise like it’s alive, but it doesn’t output anything to the TV and my Wii remotes won’t connect to it or even manually sync. I guess I’m getting a Wii U sooner than I wanted, but it may be a while yet before I can get back to Skyward Sword and Xenoblade. And The Last Story literally just came in the mail today. T_T I really hope I can get my save data and digital purchases back…

It was a good run. I waited in line for 12 hours for that Wii and paid my dues to get it. It’s been a good companion but nothing lives forever. You shall be missed…… Wii…. *taps playing in background*

 

But not all is terrible in the game world. I killed a ton of people and uh…

right. Spec Ops was also pretty disastrous.

 

Not in a bad way, though! It was an amazing game. I’m not much for war shooters because there’s no real meat to their gameplay, no way to be skilled enough to take on a challenge like a no-hit run or something. There’s challenge there, but it seems so arbitrary and out of control. There’s just not a lot to it, really. But Spec Ops: The Line took it all, from the gameplay mechanics to the story, and copy-pasted it and turned it on its head, using the same tropes and mechanics to drive home some really heavy-hitting points. You will feel terrible playing this game. You will likely grow bored of the gameplay. And it will highlight so much of what’s wrong with these modern war games, so much of the terrible things that happen under the banner of war, and so much of what should make these games laughable while showing the horrors of what it’s really like out there for a soldier.

I think for once I can say a video game has positively NAILED the kind of narrative and dialogue that is possible only within the interactive medium. This may be the closest I’ve played to a video game that digs as deep as a really good movie. You can say all you want about how Heavy Rain or Uncharted are like long movies, but this is something else entirely. It’s deep and emotional, it’s conflicted for good reason, and it involves YOU every step of the way. From making major decisions in the moment through gameplay to how the mechanics and context of the game (including you, in your chair, holding your controller, playing the game) give it depth, it’s simply brilliant. I’d hate to spoil a single moment after about an hour in… it’s a short game but one I can hardly recommend enough. If you only ever play one modern military shooter, make it Spec Ops.

Today, you finally learn about my love for puzzle games.
And awesome first person dungeon crawlers. ❤

Yes, I’m a hardcore gamer. It’s no secret that I love to die a lot. To me, getting game overs during the first dungeon/area/tutorial in a game is a really good sign that I’m going to have a good time. I always take on the highest difficulty level available, and overcoming immense challenges is one of the biggest rewards I know in gaming. Knowing this, I’m sure you would guess that my favorite genre is action, right? Lots of baddies, all willing to give their lives for the ultimate purpose of killing me? Or maybe I love shooters. Tons of targets, bullets flying all over, give me an arsenal of a dozen or so guns and let me run around and unleash hell while rockets and fireballs dart by, inches from my face? Or maybe i’m a strategist, and there’s nothing I love more than to pit my own wits and ability to think and react on the fly to an ever-changing battlefield against a nearly perfect computer foe?
Actually, no. While I love all sorts of games in almost every genre out there…

My favorite is puzzle games. (Oh… did I mention that the first sentence was spoilers? Well…..spoilers!)
There is no genre out there that gets my juices flowing (eww) more than puzzle games. (and occasionally rhythm games, but they’re a different variety of juice entirely.) When things get intense, when the action speeds up, when combos are building and my thumbs are flying as fast as the game can handle, that feeling is just amazing. I love a lot of games in the puzzle genre, but some of my favorites are the ones that really heat up. Tetris is good, but it was by far the best in Tetris DS. Meteos is my favorite puzzle game ever. (just PLAY IT. It’s awesome. Get a DS if you don’t have one, and you can get it really cheap.) Bust-A-Move is a solid one, most of the time. Lumines is a beautiful and addictive yet deceptively simple puzzler that I continue to return to… but one that I’ve been addicted to through the course of some 4 iterations I’ve played to death every time now, is the classic match-3 game, Pokemon Puzzle League, AKA Pokemon Puzzle Challenge, AKA Puzzle League (DS, it was seriously hard to go back to buttons after this one… also if you’re taking notes, almost every one of my favorite puzzle games was amazing on the DS, which is also my favorite game system. Coincidence? :P), AKA Tetris Attack.

Chances are, you’ve played it or something very much like it. Blocks slowly lift up from below and you can swap any two left and right of each other. You make them disappear by matching 3 or more like-colored blocks in a line, and any blocks without something below them will fall. You can use this to make another match after something falls, creating a “chain.”
The gameplay is very simple but the game gets intense, especially if you’re like me and your instinctual reaction to a mostly-empty screen is to hold L/R (automatically pushes up another layer of blocks onto the screen) until the screen is almost completely full. It puts you much closer to the edge of failure, but the chances for getting chains to go off and the potential to give you more time/blocks to work with to continue chains as they’re running can mean big points, or a big attack against your opponent in a versus match.

Interestingly, I’ve never played Tetris Attack before this. It’s the first iteration of the Puzzle League formula, and as a result its wrinkles are really starting to show. As someone who invested 120 hours into the Gameboy Color version (Pokemon Puzzle Challenge) and conquered every insane challenge of it and the N64 game (Pokemon Puzzle League), I knew almost immediately that a few things about the base mechanics felt a bit… off, in the SNES game.
I guess it’s to be expected of the earliest version of the series, but after the insane AI I’ve gone up against and the awesome amount of stuff to do in the newer games, completely annihilating hard mode and the unlockable “hardest” mode with no problem after spending about 1 hour with the game left me wanting more. Also, it uses passwords. PASSWORDS IN A SNES GAME. WHAT.
Okay, enough geeking out about puzzle games. It’s time for a shiny new dungeon crawler!
Legend of Grimrock. Okay, there’s not much bad I can say about this game. It’s a first person dungeon crawler, but it does some really interesting things. Movement takes place entirely on a grid. You can only move and look around one space or 90 degrees at a time. You go in with a party of four, each character standing in 1/4 of a square. Characters in the back have to use long-range weapons or magic, but they also avoid the majority of attacks simply by having two bodies in front who take all the hits. Unless you get stupid and stare at a wall while a spider chews on your mage and rogue. Which isn’t much of a viable tactic, but I won’t stop you from trying.
Combat and movement actually happens in real-time in this game. At first, I thought it was strange and unnecessary. Most games like this back in the day had turn-based movement. Why restrict actions to a grid if combat is real-time? Well, it turns out it’s actually a great combination. Your 4 characters each can do actions on a cooldown timer, taking a certain amount of time before they can act again based on what they did. They can equip items in each hand for quick access, giving you a total of 8 actions between all your party members. It’s fairly limited, but in a good way. It makes you really think how you will use skill points and who will be able to use what items/weapons. And when combat inevitably rolls around, your pre-planning plays a large part in how well you do. But almost just as cool is how important constant movement and strategy in a fight is. The restrictions of the grid become both your greatest weapon and your very quick downfall, especially playing on Hard, where you literally can’t win by standing in place and exchanging blows.
By moving just before an enemy attacks, you can avoid their attack animation. You can dodge fireballs and escape from the path of charging ogres. I can almost imagine it’s possible to beat the game without taking a single hit. Against one enemy, it’s easy to do, and you can quickly throw in attacks as the monster tries to keep up with your movements. But when more than one join in the fight, things can get awesomely hectic. You need to stay on the move to avoid getting cornered, and if you’re careless an enemy will quickly block your escape route.
But that’s just combat. The whole package is something much bigger/better. There are traps and secrets all over the place. There are puzzles and cryptic messages. There’s a lot of mystery. You will probably miss a ton of stuff on your first time going through, until you look up a FAQ and find massive areas you never even knew existed. For what it is, they really crammed a lot in there. And they definitely used every ounce of potential to be had in their level designs. There’s a lot of really good stuff, there.

Plus, an awesome little thing… your characters all have little portraits, which you can choose during character creation OR if you’re like me you can make your own and import them! 😀 I’ve been playing through with a team made up of my own OCs, and it’s just so much more fun to play that way. I love adding in that sense of personality and character interaction (I just naturally do that when I play games like this. Link has a voice and character in Link to the Past, Isaac actually interacts in ways other than “yes/no” in Golden Sun, etc, etc) to a game that otherwise doesn’t have any.

 

Also, bonus round: Guild Wars 2!
It’s amazing and my Charr is a fine piece of rogue.

That is all.

 

That’s Metroid: Zero Mission. On GBA. Little King’s Story is on the Wii. Today’s theme seems to be revisiting games from my past, actually. These are ones I’ve played and loved before, and I’ve gotten back into them recently.

There’s not much to say about Metroid: ZM. It’s one I’ve played a lot in the past and I’m coming back to it with the help of emulators to enjoy it again and try some playthroughs I’ve never tried before. I don’t think I’m up to the 100% in less than 2 hours ones, but 15% completion was a fun challenge. Zero Mission really cuts into the heart of what I love in a Metroid game. It’s how you can play it a billion different ways. It’s how you get further into the game and discover that some little shortcut or hidden passageway could allow you to access an area before you’re “supposed” to. That freedom to go BEYOND what it seems the developers intended, even though it’s so smartly designed that you can’t possibly get yourself stuck or in an inescapable situation… that’s just beyond awesome. The game itself is only the surface, and it’s designed in such a way that playing around within the game, cleverly finding paths that you “shouldn’t” get into, getting items before you normally would, are all hugely satisfying, even if the reward isn’t great.

It’s also a little worrying, in a way. Modern games seems to put so much into cinematics and beautiful assets and a well-crafted story, that a GBA game knocks them out of the park in terms of how well it’s designed and how the overall package holds up in terms of gameplay. Zero Mission is still beautiful in its pixelated details, perfected down to every last corner of the map. It’s truly inspiring. Really makes me want to get back to The Outer World. But I know I can’t… not yet, anyway.

The other one today is Little King’s Story. I tend to gush about this game a lot, because it’s just SO GOOD. I beat it maybe a year or two back and I loved everything about it. I can’t believe I let the cover turn me off of this one for a while. By all means this looks in every way like a kids’ game. Or something easy. Trust me, it’s neither.
Well, you could say it’s a kids’ game, but there are some really deep messages in there, some surprising themes they cover, and some really emotional moments, all under the guise of this cutesy game about a little kid who found a magic crown and became king.
And also, it’s not an easy game by any means. There’s a ton of challenge to be found after an hour or two in the game. Right from the first enemy you face, you’re shown that all-out attacking will get you slaughtered quickly. And bosses don’t play nice, even from the early parts of the game. You must strategize, move around, get defensive, take risks, and think things through or the game won’t be doing you many favors.

The bosses are all so interesting, too. There’s 8 of them, I think, and each one is MASSIVELY different, using the base mechanics in radically different ways. The boss that turns the stage into a pinball table with a fat man as the ball and your army as paddles is the best ridiculous idea ever.

I started playing again lately to try out the unlocked Tyrant mode. I might have started this right after beating it but the last boss stomped me so many times I just had to give it a rest. The new difficulty makes the game insane. It should really just be called Everyone Dies Mode or something. Of course, being me, I LOVE IT.

I don’t think I could have gotten away without talking about some of my favorite games. I guess this post was bound to happen. 🙂

 

Well, I sure picked an old one this time, didn’t I?

I started playing Suikoden 2 one after seeing all the love it gets from the rather small number of people who have played it. Apparently it didn’t do so well (which happens if you’re an RPG and come out on the same day as Final Fantasy 8) and has never seen a re-release at all, so getting it isn’t easy.

Chances are, you’re going to be a bit sad about this one because you can’t afford it.

No, really, it’s $250. For a cheap used copy. If you’re lucky. But if you’re resourceful like me, you can, uh… obtain… a copy… through um…..
Let’s just say I’m not playing it on a Playstation.

Let’s also just say I wish I had bought this and not FF8. Don’t get me wrong, FF8 isn’t bad and its music still gives me warm nostalgia waves down my back, but… this is by far the more playable game with the more awesome storyline and combat and sprite animations and over 100 recruitable characters and… damn, it’s just GOOD.

I’m about 13 hours in and hooked. Also, this game has a flying squirrel as a playable character. A FLYING SQUIRREL. How awesome is that? Not many games have flying squirrels in them, though I hope to change that some day. (props to Nintendo for having flying squirrel suits in both Pilotwings on 3DS and the previews for New Super Mario Bros U. I knew I picked a good company to be a fan of.) There’s five of them, actually, (the other 4 are bonus characters who don’t really have any backstory unlike the main 100+) and you can have a team of up to 5 party members with your main character. Anyone who knows me knows what my party is going to look like once I manage to find them. 😉

But yes, Suikoden 2, awesome RPG on the PS1. You can’t afford it but if you ask the internet they might have a solution for that.

 

 

My very first GIP! This is technically a re-post from my art site journals, but it’ll be nice to archive it here.
Today, I’ll start off with a few semi-oldies, but all goodies… pre-warning: if you don’t have Nintendo’s latest systems you will be disappointed.Xenoblade Chromicles: This is a Wii game that is unlike any other Wii game. Amazing graphics, ballgasmic sense of scale and exploration, and a story and world that grab you by the tail and defenestrate you from the 18th floor window with awesomeness, all wrapped up in gameplay that’s some of the best I’ve seen in a JRPG. I was dropping cash I practically didn’t have in order to get this game the day it came out but I’m so glad I did. You may learn eventually that I know a good number of Wii games that I would rate even above 360, PS3 and PC games. Xenoblade Chronicles might just about top that list.

Resident Evil: Revelations: I like this a lot more than the last Resident Evil on console. It’s no Resident Evil 4, but that game had a special something I don’t think Capcom will ever manage to tap into so perfectly ever again. But the mechanics are great. You might want that GIANT ADD-ON BLOCK OF DEATH for your 3DS if you pick this up, but if you’re like me and got used to PSP shooters after a few hours, you can easily manage to kick ass by aiming with the right-side buttons. My main complaint is that I can’t change aiming to the left stick, because I think moving around using ABXY would make a lot more sense. 😐
It’s kind of a horror game half the time, complete with crazy zombie girlfriends who won’t leave you alone and zombie dolphins that fuck you to death. (at least, I assume that’s what happens when my character falls into the waist-deep water under the creepy dolphin thing and splashes around for a bit) The other half of the time it’s a crazy action game, which the classic RE “tank” style movement won’t make any easier for you. Both are pretty solid and keep the other section from getting boring as things switch around. The story is actually pretty interesting so far, too. Solid game if you’re into horror, or you’re like me and you get a real laugh out of “tense” moments in these sorts of games. 🙂 There’s a multiplayer mode after you beat it, I think, but from what I’ve played I’d say it’s more of a rent than a buy.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Gonna say this right now, this game is almost worth getting a 3DS for. The dialogue is awesome, the story has some great twists so far and not only plays with your expectations, but sometimes almost TROLLS you, and the game is as hard as balls as you want it to be. You can “bet” hearts (the in-game money, which looks like heart containers… if only Link here around for this one!) to increase the difficulty or lower it, below a certain point, and you get more rewards and better stuff in general for pitting yourself against a bigger challenge. It’s kind of a mix between on-rails sections that play a bit like Starfox on steroids, and directed on-foot sections which play very similar, but have almost more of a third-person shooter aspect to them. (Gears of Sonic the Shoothog!)
This on-foot thing is taken to a whole new level in online, where you can play the awesome Light Vs Dark mode. Both teams have a life bar, which goes down when someone dies (how much it goes down is based on how good their gear is. So unlike Call of Booty, when you get better stuff, you potentially cost your team big-time for using it) and the person whose death brings it to 0 becomes that team’s overpowered Angel. The first team to lose their angel loses the match. The rules are all simple but the moment to moment gameplay is tons of fun. Really, it’s one of the best online multiplayer modes I’ve played, because not only is it tons of fun but there’s no forced progression or leaderboards to worry about. You just have fun and enjoy getting weapons and hearts to use in single player or multiplayer.

So, yes. Three awesome games. Definitely worth getting if you have the right systems.

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