Archive for June, 2011

Weekly Little Big Planet: it’s very good, Eve

, | Features

Take me to a place inside/That is so hard to reach

Looks like I just found my new favorite level.

In the community section of LBP2 there’s a bunch of categories that will lead you to new levels. One of those is “Cool Levels” and I tend to avoid going in there because it sounds so cheesy. I did so by mistake the other night and the first level I found knocked me out. It’s called Gusty Forest and it’s got this great floating dynamic where you have to grab onto a couch-cushion pastry thingy with your grabinators and then…well…jump out and trust the designer. It’s not a tough level, but it’s oddly satisfying nonetheless and I played it several times before I noticed that it was part of something called “The No-Floor Platformer” challenge. I’m still not clear on what that is exactly, but if it inspires a level like this, more power to it.

Gusty Forest works for me on every level. It’s relaxing and just challenging enough for the end of a long day. It has cool music that reminds me of the song “The Freshman” by a group called The Verve Pipe, a song I don’t particularly care for but which works well here and is a welcome departure from the usual canned music found on many of these levels. Finally, it ends with a boss battle that is a completely different style of game, and not only will I not complain about this, I hereby declare that I love it. Every level should aspire to be this well balanced.

Speaking of aspirations…

After the jump, an ape like me Continue reading →

The most disappointing games of 2011 (so far!)

, | Features

Welcome to the halfway point of 2011. What better time to make a couple of lists? Following aren’t necessarily the worst of the year — if I’m lucky, I didn’t play those! — but the most disappointing to me personally. These are the games with the widest gulf between what they could have been and what they actually are.

After the jump, let the wailing and gnashing of teeth commence Continue reading →

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 : good game, but good Magic game?

, | Game diaries

The dragon that all our planewalker friends are facing in the above image is Nicol Bolas. Bolas is one of the “big bads” in the world of Magic, and has the distinction (as far as I can tell) of being the only non-humanoid planeswalker that Wizards of the Coast has created. Why is he the planeswalker subject for this article? I really don’t have a reason, other than I think the image is really nice, and its a group image. The grouping is important, because after comparing Duels of the Planeswalkers to a bunch of other CCG’s, it’s time to compare it to Magic itself.

After the jump, why do I still play Magic? Continue reading →

Terraria: Sir Digsalot’s worm problem

, | Game diaries

Plenty of health potions? Check. Nine sticks of dynamite? Check. Dapper top hat? Check. It’s time to bust some more shadow orbs. Sir Digsalot has his spawn point saved over by the corruption, and has fallen down one of the big crevices until he sees the shadow orb. I destoyed one a few days ago, so this will be the second. After the third, another boss will spawn: the Eater of Worlds. While I’m here, I’ll also collect some rotten chunks from the Eater of Souls flying monsters that float around (they’re easy to kill) and see about grabbing some vile mushrooms, which only grow in the corruption.

After the jump: Man, that’s a big worm! Continue reading →

What Catherine is and what it isn’t

, | Games

That picture up there isn’t just a screenshot from Catherine, an upcoming Japanese import to be published by Atlus. It’s also my reaction upon seeing what kind of game Catherine is. I’d been hearing snippets of conversations about the game, and I’d seen a trippy video, and I knew it was from the creators of the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games, and somewhere along the way I had picked up that it was a mature psycho-sexual thriller. Wait, maybe I’m confusing it with Black Swan. But I had no idea what Catherine actually was. Today I found out it’s just a puzzle game!

After the jump, have I been misled? Continue reading →

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 : Magic with plot and characters?

, | Game diaries

Jace Beleren is a blue mage. From his picture, you can tell he enjoys both looking mysterious and magical glowy hands. From Duels of the Planeswalkers, I learned that he has fought with Chandra Nalaar, that he worked for something called the Infinite Consortium, and that he has visited the planes of Ravnica and Zendikar. Absolutely none of the above information has helped me in any way in the Duels of the Planeswalkers game, or in Magic in general. Why does Wizards of the Coast consider plot and characters such a selling point for collectible card games?

After the jump, an example of when lore can matter in the play of a game Continue reading →

Terraria: Sir Digsalot and the Eye of Cthulhu

, | Game diaries

So I fire up Terraria to take Sir Digsalot and his fancy new phaseblade out boss-hunting, and what’s this? 1.0.5… a new version? The changelog is just crazy. 8 new enemies. Over 50 new items. Potions that give buffs. The guide now has a little spot you can drop an item into, and it will show you all the things you can craft with it. NPC shopkeepers have different inventories at different times. It goes on and on. Some of the new features won’t be seen unless I start a new world, because they’re set during world creation. This really isn’t a big a deal – Terraria is a game where you’re meant to start new worlds, and visit other people’s words, with your continuing character (hence the importance of the piggy bank). Sir Digsalot is kind of committed to this world right now, so we’ll be sticking with Quarteria for a while longer.

Minecraft and Terraria are perfect examples of the new attitude of many game developers. Sure, the games go on sale at some point, but they’re not really “done”. The developers view their game as a service more than a product, and just keep adding and fixing and tweaking, mixing their vision with the player’s requests and ideas. One day, you fire up the game and it’s twice as compelling as the last time you played.

After the jump, it’s finally time to kill that great big eye Continue reading →

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 : a pair of dirty cheaters

, | Game diaries

I started this article after finally downing Karn (the “final boss” of Duels of the Planeswalkers) for the first time. Karn’s deck is a brutal artifact deck that in the first game wiped my board with Steel Hellkite’s special ability. That was rough, but fair. The second game, Karn used both a Mox Sapphire and a Tinker. And I now had evidence that Karn was cheating.

After the jump, Karn is cheating. But now, so am I? Continue reading →

Terraria: Sir Digsalot and the meteor crash

, | Game diaries

A new day is dawning and Sir Digsalot is feelin’ pretty good about all the cool stuff he just found. It’s time to find some corruption to deal with! That means a bit of prep work. I have my grappling hook, but I’ll also need to make a bunch of lesser health potions and convert them to standard health potions. Last but not least: the portable spawn. That means a door and a bed. Any time you venture far from home, it’s a good idea to take a bed, door, and maybe a workbench (though you can always make one later). You can make a little room as a far-from-home spawn to save you a lot of time if you die. Then you use the hammer to pick it back up again when you’re done.

I run to the right all day, past vast deserts and a jungle and steep mountains, then make myself a little safehouse to wile away the night. I can always open the door and kill some stuff with arrows, then shut the door for safety. If I die, no biggie…

After the break, dealing with corruption Continue reading →

Shadows of the Damned can lead to great things

, | Game reviews

You could describe the basic gameplay in Killer 7 as “half-assed shooter”. But the gameplay wasn’t the main draw, so who cares. Shadows of the Damned, the latest game from Killer 7 creator Goichi Suda, feels like what Killer 7 would be if it only consisted of its basic gameplay.

Killer 7 was full of interesting characters. So far, Shadows of the Damned only has one character and calling him interesting would be a stretch. That would suggest I actually know something about him. But I don’t. What’s with all his tattoos? What happened to his face? Where did he get his talking skull sidekick who can turn into a gun or a motorcycle? Am I supposed to hang fire playing this half-assed shooter while he doles out bits of backstory to the skull? And shouldn’t a talking skull who can turn into a gun or motorcylcle be less annoying? Why is Shadows of the Damned’s talking skull like some poorly written and half-heartedly voice acted Wheatley from Portal 2?

I don’t know whether Shadows of the Damned will end up going anywhere worthwhile, because after three acts of uninspired shootering, uninteresting characters, unimpressive graphics, and hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss humor, I decided to play the game it wishes it was. And boy, does Bayonetta hold up.

2 stars
Xbox 360

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 : the enemy of my archenemy

, | Game diaries

Chandra Nalaar saved my life yesterday, and I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was my first game of Archenemy mode, and I was going in blind. Chandra and Sorin Markov were my partners, and we were facing off against a powerful Koth. The first few events were mana and board sweepers, and my team was having trouble putting our defenses together. I took the brunt of the attacks, and my life total was falling fast. I was prepared to restart the match, when Chandra suddenly began picking off creatures that were attacking me. That help gave me the space I needed, and my team roared back and took down Koth’s 40 life.

After the jump, is Archenemy mode a great group game? Continue reading →

Terraria: Sir Digsalot doesn’t actually fight a boss

, | Game diaries

Sir Digsalot has a full set if iron armor, a silver bow, and 145 flaming arrows. It’s time to venture out at night and kill as many Demon Eyes as possible. Kill Eyes, get lenses, use 10 lenses to make the thing that summons the big eye boss. Of course, I’ll fend off lots of zombies along the way, and being out at night all that time will mean a few more fallen stars, too. I’m merrily running around the surface, waiting for the sun to set, when it happens.

After the break: Things don’t exactly go as planned… Continue reading →