Let’s play catch-up!

February 21, 2010

I just punched God into the sun with my hair.  This game (Bayonetta) is nuts.  Also, awesome.  Also, completed.

Lots of other new games added to the list (and crossed off!) since last I deigned to show my face ’round these parts… Perhaps I shall discuss them!

Holiday haul netted me Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade.  Separately, I also picked up Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Demon’s Souls: Where’s My Freakin’ Subtitle?

So far, all but Demon’s Souls have also been crossed off the list, as well as Valkyria Chronicles, which had been stubbornly holding on since last winter.  It was actually one of those situations where the game was good enough that I didn’t really want it to end so as I came to the close, I kinda set it down and went on to other games.  Same sorta thing happened to me with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Final Fantasy XII.

Speaking of fantasies final, I picked up Dissidia: Final Fantasy over the summer when it came out (it’s not on the list since it’s not really a plot-driven game, although I have defeated Chaos a few times with various heroes), and it sent me on a total FF kick.  Unfortunately, it didn’t really do what I needed it to.  Rather than spurring me on to complete Final Fantasy IV on the DS (which it did drive me back to playing for a short while, although I had to start my game over for lack of remembering WTF I was doing), or driving me to finish Final Fantasy X-2 (which I did fire up again, only to be truly disgusted with the voice acting, music, “plot,” setting, theme, and just overall tone of the game… although godDAMN does it have a fun battle system)… No, instead of sending me down a productive path (in the sense of knocking some stuff off this list), it kindled a nostalgia for Final Fantasy IX, XI, and XII.  Now, IX was an incredible game, and is locked in a death struggle with XII to be my second favorite of all time (Final Fantasy VI is perched safely atop that particular mountain… fired it up via Anthology while I was on this FF bender, too, but that’s neither here nor there), but I’ve already completed it, well before this project had even begun.  XII suffers the same problem… I’ve already finished it (as seen in The List… XII didn’t get completed until this project was underway), so while playing it again would certainly be fun, I’d feel a little bad (just a little… I’ve obviously not got too big of qualms about ignoring this thing for months on end ;)

Final Fantasy XI, though… Okay… I picked it up back in The Day when it came out.  And it was awesome.  Like, totally awesome, as in I’m not sure I remembered a time (at the time) when I’d found a game quite as awesome.  Loved the graphics, loved the art design, loved the setting, LOVED the job system… it was just fantastic all around.  Too fantastic.  I ended up spending all my free time playing it.  I’m sure there’s some World of Warcraft addict reading this right now, nodding his/her head and thinking “I feel ya.”  And aside from the fact that I was losing all outside contact to the game, I was hitting a point where the actual playing wasn’t really fun anymore… I usually prefer to be able to solo in MMOs (yeah, yeah, missing the point, etc, but if I’m paying a subscription fee, I shouldn’t have to waste hours waiting for someone else to validate my playtime by stooping to joining a party with me, but that’s going off on a tangent), but FFXI absolutely demands grouping at a pretty early point in its character progression.  I finally decided that between the lack of life outside the game and the annoyance of dealing with grouping in the game that it was time to quit, so I did.  Skip ahead a few years now to last fall, and I’m going through that massive Final Fantasy bender, and thoughts of XI take root in my head… They grow and grow and just won’t go away until finally I couldn’t take it any longer, I grabbed the 14-day free trial (new email address, credit card, and address since I last played means they’ve got no idea I’d already been a subscriber before), soloed for 2 weeks (the game’s become much more solo-friendly in my absence), and then had to fight the urge to actually subscribe once it was over.  I succeeded, though, although the release of the Final Fantasy XI Ultimate Collection at EXACTLY the same time was really not helpful (nor was Steam’s discounting it during the holidays).  Anyway, this is all just to take up space say that I kinda dodged a bullet there, as if I HAD fallen back to XI, I kinda doubt I’d be posting here at all, even as late as this.

I probably will end up going back and playing some XII again at some point in the near future, though.  The impending release of Final Fantasy XIII is making me think back to the last entry and just how good it was.  Probably won’t be able to resist that for long.

Alright, so let’s get back on topic here.  Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Great game.  We need more games like this, in the 3rd-person Metroidvania milieu.  Everything that everyone has said about it truly being a Batman simulator is exactly right.  Not really sure I can add anything more to the discussion of this game than what’s already been said, so on to…

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.  Another great game, and although it’s taken some hits for not really bringing enough new to the series, I would argue that a series that’s been honed as finely as R&C has doesn’t really NEED too much new brought to the party with each iteration.  The Clank puzzles were pretty fun and there was just the right amount of them.  I could see an entire game built around the mechanic getting annoying very quickly (sorry, Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom… your demo was fun and your aesthetic is right up my alley, but I can’t help but think you’re gonna run out of good times pretty early on), but A Crack in Time moved away from them just as I was starting to tire of it.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade.  Gorgeous.  Just a stunningly beautiful game.  Only wish it were on the 360 or the PS3, as it took absolutely NO advantage of the Wii hardware, and would look about a hojillion times better in HD than it already does in SD (which is truly saying something as it’s already jaw-dropping as it is).  Gameplay’s pretty fun, too… feels very vaguely like Metroidvania-lite, and you all know my penchant for Metroidvanias.  Played this one through all three endings with both characters… just couldn’t get enough.  It also gave me a taste to go back and try again on Odin Sphere, being by the same developer and having a similar graphic style what with the hand-painted 2D look and all.  I dug Odin Sphere back out of my closet after finishing Muramasa, but I haven’t yet fired it up, so we’ll see how that goes…

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes.  I’m not always the best at puzzle games.  Timers tend to annoy me rather than instill a sense of urgency and thus fun.  I DO like RPGs, though.  So when Infinite Interactive released Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords a couple years back, I snatched it up and found it awesome.  (I also grabbed Puzzle Quest: Galactrix upon its release, which was decidedly less awesome, but still had its moments, but I digress).  Clash of Heroes falls firmly in the puzzle/RPG genre that Infinite Interactive started… It’s a ton of fun, with a puzzle mechanic I haven’t come across before.  Not really a whole lot more I can think to say about it…  Could’ve used a bit more single-player, I suppose, but whatever… I’m not really complaining.

Demon’s Souls.  Ah, Demon’s Souls, the big gamer bogeyman of 2009.  Everyone tried to scare each other with tales of its difficulty and how harsh is the penalty for dying in it, etc., etc.  Well, everyone’s right.  It’s really tough, and when you die, it gets tougher.  But it’s also a LOT of fun, and if you’re careful and methodical, the difficulty is more than manageable.  Now, keep in mind, I haven’t finished it yet, and in fact, I’m not even super far into it, but I have taken out three bosses or so, and really only had trouble with one of them.  Big recommendation on this one.

Bayonetta.  And so we end where we began.  Bayonetta is a weird game.  Like, super weird.  As my wife put it, it looks like it was designed by either 13-year-old boys, or drag queens.  Possibly both.  But hell, the weirdness is the point.  Well, that and the awesome combat (even if it did take me until the second-to-last chapter to figure out how to change my weapons).


Klonoa Wiimake

June 14, 2009

*Pokes head into blog*

*Looks around furtively*

*Slips inside, brushes dust off the List and switches out PS1 classic Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for the Wii remake, simply titled Klonoa*

So, uh… how’s it goin?  Good?  Right-o.  Gonna just go ahead and pretend that I haven’t skipped out on, like, five months’ worth of blogging here.  As mentioned above, I picked up the Wii version of Klonoa and used it to replace the original on my list.  It is a remake after all, so I figure whatever minor differences may have been introduced in the process can be easily overlooked and we can call ‘em even.  Just finished it up this afternoon, to boot.  I must say, the whole Klonoa series has some of the best platforming to be found, but good grief are the characters annoying!  I understand it’s not really for me… they’re kinda geared towards little Japanese children, but this was seriously some of the worst dialogue and voice acting I think I’ve ever come across.  Also, on a slightly unrelated note, whoever at Namco designed the “Extra Vision” bonus level at the end is a sadistic %#@&.  That is all.

Looking back over my last couple postings, let’s see what’s up…  Finished up my “Be A Pro” season in NHL 09, leading the Hawks to the Cup with goals like this and hits like this.  I did pick up Moon as I mentioned I was considering it.  Haven’t finished it (surprise, surprise!), but it’s pretty cool so far.  Continued spending inordinate amounts of playing time on the PC, what with the Fallout 3 DLC packs and various other whatnots.  Ran into another brick wall with Hotel Dusk.  The less said about it, the better, though, as far as I’m concerned.  Tried picking up Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSP again, but I seem to have managed to get myself to a spot where all I can accomplish is getting my rear end handed to me with a truly staggering amount of ease.  Promptly put it back down again at that point.  I guess I’ll get back to it at some point and try to grind until I can get past this part.  As for now, I shall leave you to your regularly scheduled Internets.


Distractions Abound

January 27, 2009

After a couple of weeks of searching the local GameStops for NHL 09, I finally decided to just go ahead and pick up a copy at Best Buy a couple days ago (Sunday, 1/25).  I’m figuring there’ll always be something else to pick up at GameStop so I’ll probably finish up the couple bucks I have left on my gift card sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, the hockey game itch just became too great and I had to do something about it.  Turns out the game’s just as cool as everyone makes it out to be.  Skimming over some forums it sounds like the online play is riddled with cheaters, but that’s the case with damn near every online multiplayer game since the dawn of time.  This doesn’t bother me, though, as the only game I play online (Team Fortress 2) has been cheater-free in my experience (I’m sure there are cheaters, I just haven’t run into ‘em in probably something around if not over 100 hours of playtime, nor have I really even heard much about them).  Anyway, I digress.  One of the coolest things about NHL 09 is the “Be A Pro” mode, in which you create a character and start him out in the AHL and have to work your way into a stint in the NHL.  It’s a pretty interesting mode, as you’re literally playing that character only.  When your shift is up you skate back to the bench and watch the action from there.  When you take a penalty you’re staring through the sin bin glass back at your team’s defensive zone hoping that you didn’t just cost a goal.  There’s no switching control to another character, and trying to be a hero will only end up keeping you in the minors as your coach is not going to be pleased by your lack of teamwork.  Honestly, I haven’t played anything but “Be A Pro” since I got it and so I can’t really comment on much else.  There is an interesting feature in which you can save and upload videos and screenshots from your instant replays to be viewed on EA Sports’ site.  You can see my character Turd Ferguson‘s first goal here.  Not very impressive, I know, and it goes too quickly to even properly see me one-time it in, but I wasn’t interested in actually providing a quality video… I was interested in getting the 50-point Achievement for simply uploading any video.

Now, none of this directly helps or hinders my progress, since as I mentioned before, sports games don’t go on the list in the first place, but it’s probably dangerous to have such an awesome game around to suck up time that could be spent on pieces of crap like Hotel Dusk that I really need to get cleared off my list.  I decided the other day to give that game another shot and immediately regretted it.  I bought into all the hype around Hotel Dusk when it was coming out.  Everyone said “oh, it’s great!” or “the story’s so good!” or some other crap like that.  I like a good story in a game, so I figured I’d pick it up and see what everyone was talking about.  I played it for literally half an hour back then and couldn’t take any more, closing it up for about two years before attempting it again now.  The problem here is that with all the hype, everyone forgot to mention that it’s boring as hell and all the characters are unlikable.  I’m gonna have to just slog through, but man is it gonna be tough to put up with this for however many hours it’s going to take.

Back to news unrelated to the project proper, a writer on Tor.com is running a bloggy re-read (Warning!  Thar be spoilers!) of the entire Wheel of Time series in anticipation of A Memory of Light‘s presumed Fall release.  I read the first three installments of this re-read (well, I didn’t quite get through the third part at work today, but close enough) bringing the recap up to about the mid-point of The Eye of the World.  The thing is, as I was reading through this I started to get nostalgic for the time when the series wasn’t terrible (which I suppose isn’t really fair… the most recent book, Knife of Dreams, was actually really good).  So I started discussing the series with a friend at work who brought up the game and immediately set about trashing it.  I had very fond memories of that game and put up a spirited defense.  Regardless of how the conversation went from there, the final result was that I ended up with a serious jonesin’ to play it again.  Once I got home from work, then, I did some digging for the CDs, installed it, and started playing.  Being based on the original Unreal engine, the graphics obviously don’t exactly hold up, but I was impressed to find that it was more than willing to display at my monitor’s full 1680 x 1050 resolution, as a lot of older games tend to balk at widescreen settings.  I didn’t get far into the game with the little bit of playing I did tonight, but it’s a nice thought that I can fire it back up any time.  Just like with NHL 09, it’s not going to do my List any favors, but hey, this blog’s about games, which are about having fun.  There are enough games on the list that are going to be a chore to trudge through (I’m glaring at you, Hotel Dusk), it’s only fair to my sanity that I throw in some extra fun bits like this.


Less Castlevania!

January 18, 2009

Finished up Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia last night.  Truly finished it up this time, with the proper ending and 100% exploration, which is a nice feeling.  This was kind of an odd entry into the series, story-wise.  No Belmonts, no Morrises, no whips, even, but it was pretty damn good regardless.  As I mentioned in my last post, it was quite a bit harder than I recall the others being, but that’s alright… that’s what GameFAQs is for.

This brings my recently-battered percentage back up to 33.3%, I’m again a third of the way through my plan.  Next up, I believe, will be Valkyria Chronicles, as it continues to dominate my console time.  It truly is a wonderful game… highly recommended to anyone out there with a PS3.  On the other hand, I’m also considering picking up some new games, too.  Moon for the DS is on my mind, as I enjoyed Metroid Prime: Hunters and would love to see more FPSs on the system.

I’m also eyeing NHL 09 as I’ve been really getting into this NHL season, what with the local team not stinking up the joint anymore and deciding that it’s a good idea to actually broadcast their home games.  I’ve always been a hockey fan, especially via video games.  I learned an awful lot of what I know about hockey in general from NHL 96 on the SNES; I broke the crap out of NHL 98 on my PC (apparently there were issues with scoring over 100 goals in a game… tended to make it crash… a lot), and NHL 2001 was among the first games I bought with my PS2.  I haven’t bought another one since then, however.  I did play NHL 2K4, but that was my wife’s game.  I’m thinking it’s finally time to see what the current gen systems can do for the game.  I’ve checked out the demos on XBox Live and have been generally pleased, but never decided to go through with it.  So perhaps I’ll go with that for my next purchase.  It won’t hurt the ol’ percentage, as sports games are not really there to be finished (I guess you could say winning the Stanley Cup would work, but I’m going for plot here), so it’ll be a perfect addition to my library.


More Castlevania!

January 8, 2009

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia came out at an inopportune time.  Released the same day as Fable II and a mere week before Fallout 3, it totally fell off my radar.  Perhaps “totally” is the wrong word there.  I had been anticipating it for a while, but somehow managed to miss the release date.  It wasn’t until I was trying to find something to finish off a GameStapo gift card earlier this week that I noticed it had actually been out for a few months.  As both of you who’ve read this blog for a while can attest, I find it difficult to pass up a Castlevania game, even having played (and enjoyed!) the 3D iterations on the PS2 (although Castlevania: Judgment for the Wii looks bad beyond what even I could stomach).  So as soon as I spotted this lapse in my Castlevanity, I immediately rectified it, picking the game up just a couple of days ago.

So far it’s just as awesome as all the rest of the Metroidvanias have been, but they did happen to change one thing.  The game is hard as frak!  Well, okay, maybe that’s going a bit far — it’s no Ninja Gaiden — but I definitely got my rear end handed to me WAY more often than I’m used to in these games.  Now notice how I just used the past tense there… I just “finished” the game, having apparently defeated the main bad guy, but as seems to be the case rather often in this series, I suspect I’m not REALLY done yet.  For starters, I didn’t actually fight Dracula himself (no more details to avoid spoilers)… plus, the “ending” consisted of a single shot of one of the NPCs, a couple lines of dialog from another one, and then the exact same “Game Over” screen that you get when you die.  Not satisfying.  As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m off to GameFaqs to figure out WTF I need to do to get a proper ending here.  Until I achieve that, this game is NOT getting crossed off the list (unless it turns out that what I saw WAS the actual ending… in which case, shame on you, Mr. Igarashi… just… shame.).  Either way, I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.


I Feel Shame

January 4, 2009

Okay, so it’s coming up on half a year since my last post… did you REALLY expect any different?  I did, but apparently I’m delusional about my own ability to keep up on this blog.  But enough about that.  How about I try to catch up?

When I posted last I had just started playing around with the backwards compatibility of my PS3, having finished up Champions of Norrath.  I moved along from there to Dark Cloud 2, which had no discernable issues on the PS3, although I ended up stalling out on it again rather quickly.  I also gave the PS1 compatibility a shot (not that I had any concern about that part of it… hell, even the current PS2-less PS3s have PS1 backwards compatibility) by firing up Xenogears.  Now, Xenogears is one of those games that I picked up way back in The Day as soon as I got my PS2 but never actually got around to through no fault of its own.  I did get farther into it this time than I did originally, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve made any sort of Progress whatsoever.  I did, however, discover that the wife of one of the characters is maybe just a wee bit too forthcoming with guests as to her husband’s activities:

xenojunk1

Then again, apparently everybody knows about this dude’s “hobby”:

xenojunk2

Around that point I just sort of wandered on to other games as I have a habit of doing, leaving the PS3 to moulder for a while as I headed off towards other pursuits.  I believe it was around this time that I finally picked up Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, which I’m going to use to replace the original Final Fantasy Tactics on The List.  Again, I got further on this one than I had when I first attempted it with the original game, but I still stalled out pretty early on in the game.  And as long as I’m on the topic of handheld Fantasies Final, I should also mention that I added Final Fantasy IV for the DS onto the list.  While I have played a majority of the game in the past, I’ve never actually finished it up (never owned it when it was released here as Final Fantasy II, although my brothers and I rented it a few times, and then it always just seemed to slip through the cracks emulation-wise while I was busy with fan-translations of III and V).

So let’s see… it was probably around that point that I overhauled my PC, Enoch, in anticipation of Spore (letdown) and Fallout 3 (not a letdown).  The problem here is that having a newly-capable gaming PC led me down that path, much to the chagrin of my consoles — the focal point of this project.  I was able to sneak Fable II in when it hit, and even managed to complete it!  but for the last 3-4 months of the year, I was busy with Spore (didn’t finish), Fallout 3 (did finish and considered adding to the list since it’s “Games for Windows – LIVE”, but I figured cherry-picking’s a bit uncouth), The Witcher Enhanced Edition (didn’t finish), Left 4 Dead (finished what single-player bits there are at least once), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (just barely started), and probably more I’m forgetting about right now.

I did end up heading back to Consoletowne after Christmas, as I doubled my PS3 library, receiving both Resistance 2 and Valkyria Chronicles as gifts.  I’m a couple of chapters into Resistance 2 and so far it’s surpassing its predecessor just as expected.  I imagine I’ll expound upon it in more detail when I’ve got more of it under my belt.  Valkyria Chronicles, however, has totally dominated my playing time between the two games.  The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is amazing, the voice acting doesn’t make me want to gouge my ears out as is so often the case with Japanese games… it’s a VERY impressive package.  Nice to see the PS3 get an awesome exclusive (although to be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting the game to go over as well in the market as it should, so it’s not like the exclusive on it is going to catapult Sony back up to the number 1 spot).

Now try not to laugh too hard, but I’m going to tentatively set myself a goal of an update at least every week in 2009.  We all know it’s not going to happen, but I really do feel shame about going almost six full months without touching this blog and would like to get back on track with it.  I do intend to eventually get through all these games, so I can’t in good conscience just give up, which means I can’t give up the posting here, either.  I believe what’s held me back from posting in the past has been a desire to always knock one out of the park with each post.  If I didn’t have something witty to say or something new to report I just left it alone.  I figure I can work on that and start posting general discussion bits if nothing else… perhaps the blog’ll become that much less entertaining than it already is (although that’s tough to fathom), but at least it won’t be totally barren.  And so with another lonely update in the books I head to bed… perhaps I’ll see you in a week?


Champions of Backwards Compatibility

July 18, 2008

I decided today to give the backwards compatibility of my PS3 its first go.  Skimming the List, I spotted Champions of Norrath, which I seemed to recall having gotten pretty far into before I got sidetracked from it and moved along to something else.  According to Sony, the only issue in the single-player part of the game is that “During gameplay, when the user displays the Inventory menu screen, portions of character model on the right side of the screen intermittently appears corrupted.”  Seeing as how the character model in the inventory screen is completely superfluous to the actual gameplay, I decided to throw it in and see what I could find out.

Turns out, it ran flawlessly for me, without even so much as a flicker of the inventory screen model appearing corrupted.  One quick quest and a boss battle later, and I’m one game closer to my goal.  I just hope all of my PS2-on-PS3 experiences go as smoothly (although I’m sure that’s a bit much to ask for).


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