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).


Two Primes down, one to go…

September 16, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, while ostensibly the final Metroid game in the Prime series, is not the final Metroid game on my list. With yesterday afternoon’s completion of Corruption, that distinction falls to the sadly-uninspired Metroid Prime: Hunters on the DS. Metroid Prime 3, I must say, was great despite the low difficulty. There were some challenges to be had through the game, but nothing like the frustration of trying to track down the Sky Temple keys in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. In fact, this was the first of the Prime games in which I actually attained 100%, and I didn’t even consult a FAQ to do it. There are two factors introduced in this game that made such a feat possible: bookmarking and unlockable in-game, on-map item locations.

Honestly, it’s the little things like that which truly made Corruption as good as it is. Every time I would spot a missile expansion or other unreachable upgrade, I was able to highlight the room that contained it using the bookmark feature, making it a cinch to head back there when I had obtained the necessary means to reach it. Eventually I reached a particular room that allowed me to set up my maps to show each and every one of the expansions, as well as which ones had been collected and which ones not. Another cool little touch is an integrated Wiimote battery meter in Samus’ helmet. Take a look at some screenshots of the game, and you may notice some blue lights on the top of Samus’ helmet just above the energy indicator on the visor itself. In some of the screenshots there are two bars lit up, in others there are three. While playing through the game I had actually failed to notice these until I was down to one bar and it began to switch between yellow and blue light. I remained confused on the purpose of the lights until finally that last light switched to red and a message popped up on my visor warning me that my battery was running low.

Next up, then, is going to be either Beyond Good & Evil, as I believe I’m quite far into it and shouldn’t have too much trouble completing it in a fairly speedy manner, or Gears of War. With Halo 3 just around the corner, I’m hoping for (although certainly not expecting) another burst of completions like unto that which preceded the coming of Bioshock last month. On the portable front, Scurge: Hive is coming right along, and should be knocked out quite soon, freeing up my DS for Metroid Prime: Hunters, assuming that I can actually figure out what I was last doing in that game. I fully expect, however, to be confounded when I make my next attempt at Hunters, as there really is no mechanism in the game (so far as I recall, at least) to keep track of where I need to go next, and it’s been far too long since I last played it for me to remember.

I’m the best at what I do*

July 3, 2007

Take a look at the list. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Notice anything different? If not, you’re either reading this from the archives — thereby rendering my message untimely — or you’re new here (or you’re just not paying attention, for which you cannot be blamed). I’ve completed my first game for the Wii. Not just since I began this project, mind you, but altogether. When I started this blog, I had not actually finished any of my Wii games (unless you count Wario Ware Smooth Moves, which is a rather ridiculous notion). So, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance gets to lay claim to the distinction of my first completed Wii game. How fancy!

It’s nice to finally finish another game, as it’s been almost a month since the last one. It’s also very nice to finish up a game on a home console, instead of a portable. As I’ve discussed before, my portable progress is outpacing that of the home consoles. While on first glance they look about even (5 portable games finished versus 4 homebound), those numbers are a bit misleading. I finished the first three home games (Castlevanias Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness, and Final Fantasy XII) very quickly. The Castlevanias inspired the project altogether, and so I was already a goodly way into them before I even began keeping track of all of this. For Final Fantasy XII, I had a saved game at the final dungeon, so an hour or two’s playing finished it up. Today’s completion of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was the first full-on project I tackled on a home system for this blog. Meanwhile, in portable land, only Klonoa: Empire of Dreams and Final Fantasy III were short playthroughs, and in the case of Klonoa, I still had to play through about half of the game (it’s just a very short game, making that second half a relative breeze). All of the other portable games that have been completed I had to spend significant amounts of time on.

Moving on! Work continues on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, although I believe I’m coming up on the ending with it. My mission total is somewhere around 200 now (201, I believe), which would indicate that I’m 2/3 of the way through, but as noted before, the 300 mission total for the game includes every side quest, which I’m not going to bother with. Perhaps I’ll be able to finish it up and cross it — as well as the GBA altogether — off of my list during my flight out west tomorrow (the wife and I are heading out to Oregon and Washington to visit my brother around Seattle and attend a wedding around Portland). I haven’t yet decided which console game to play next as a follow-up to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. I do believe it’s going to be a platformer of some sort, however… maybe Ratchet: Deadlocked, Sly 2: Band of Thieves, or Jak II. The PS2 section of the list could certainly use the trimming down!

(* – I’m not, really.)

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance: A Play in One Act

July 2, 2007

Aboard a CAPITAL SHIP of the Shi’Ar Empire, DAREDEVIL, DEADPOOL, MS. MARVEL, and IRON MAN race to confront DEATHBIRD, who has already set in motion the SHIP’s self-destruct sequence. As precious time slips away, the heroes come across the recently-deposed Empress, LILANDRA, who is quite conveniently being held captive in the hallway the heroes must traverse to reach DEATHBIRD.

DAREDEVIL: Empress Lilandra! How fortuitous that Deathbird chose to imprison you in this particular hallway, instead of in the brig! Hold still while we smash up this computer console, thereby setting you free!

DAREDEVIL begins to punch and kick the CONSOLE, which is reluctant to give way. On the other side of the hallway, a couple of SHI’AR SOLDIERS appear on the other side of a FORCE FIELD, and begin firing upon the heroes. The FORCE FIELD blocks all of the SOLDIERS’ attacks.

DAREDEVIL: Criminy! This computer console is tough! Could I get a little help over here, guys? Maybe if we all beat on it together we can destroy it and free Lilandra with enough time to still stop Deathbird!

DEADPOOL, MS. MARVEL, and IRON MAN all run to the other side of the hallway and attempt to beat on the sequestered, harmless SOLDIERS to no avail.

DAREDEVIL: Okay, guys? We’re seriously running out of time here!

DEADPOOL: So leave her there! It clearly says that saving her is an optional quest.

DAREDEVIL: An optional what?! We can’t just leave her, we’re heroes, saving people is part of our job description!

DEADPOOL: So is beating up inconsequential bad guys!

DEADPOOL continues his vain attempts to beat up the inconsequential bad guys on the other side of the FORCE FIELD.

DAREDEVIL: I knew we shouldn’t have brought the insane guy along… Iron Man, Ms. Marvel! Please, help me free Lilandra so we can continue on our way to stopping this entire ship from exploding in one minute!

MS. MARVEL and IRON MAN remain next to the FORCE FIELD, trying to attack the SOLDIERS with DEADPOOL.

DAREDEVIL: Okay, now this is just uncalled for! You think just because I’m blind I can’t tell that you guys are ignoring me? I’ve got sonar sense! Hello!? We’ve all got about 30 seconds left to live now, because you guys won’t help me out! Come on, Iron Man! You’re supposed to be one of the smartest men on Earth, are you seriously not able to figure out that you can’t harm those soldiers through the force field? Ms. Marvel, you have super strength, you could have beat this computer into scrap in about 5 seconds!

The TIMER ticks to 0:00, the SHIP’s corridors fill with ominous red light, and the deck begins to rumble violently beneath the heroes’ feet. DEADPOOL, MS. MARVEL, and IRON MAN continue their assault upon the FORCE FIELD while DAREDEVIL sits wearily down, his back against the computer console that has thwarted him.

DAREDEVIL: I survived having radioactive waste splashed across my face. I overcame a handicap to become a lawyer and one of the world’s premier superheroes. I’ve fought the Kingpin, Bullseye, and the Punisher… and this is how it ends?

DAREDEVIL takes one last “look” at the other heroes, as they batter themselves against the FORCE FIELD.

DAREDEVIL: Apparently with great power comes great stupidity.

The SHIP explodes. FRED throws his CONTROLLER across the ROOM and SWEARS like a SAILOR.

Invisible progress!

June 26, 2007

It’s been a while since I last regaled you with my tales of woe and tedium, but there’s a good reason: there’s been nothing of note to tell. I suppose I could have mentioned that I finally managed to make it past the mission from Hell, but I figured I had already bored you to tears with the play-by-play on that one. I considered writing an open letter to the ruffians, hooligans, bandits, and ne’er-do-wells of Ivalice, exhorting them to stop assaulting the areas I had previously liberated (there’s no chance they can withstand my might, and it’s just plain annoying to have to put them down), but I didn’t feel like explaining the underlying mechanics of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which would be required to fully understand my frustration.

Since I’ve completed around 160 of FFTA‘s 300 missions (as of today’s lunch break), I could have written up a little something when I hit the halfway mark at 150. The problem with that, though, is that the total of 300 is including plot-advancement and side quests together. If I’ve completed half of the quests altogether, I assume I’m actually much farther than halfway through the plot (and I’d damn well better be… I’m coming up on 70 hours sunk into this beast); without knowing the exact halfway point, a post of “I’m halfway done!” would have rang a little hollow.

I could have posted about any of these things, and more (I’m sure I could find something to write up about Marvel: Ultimate Alliance… I’ve been rather quiet on that front recently), but I instead decided to just keep chipping away at the games. With luck, I’ll be able to cross a couple more off the list in the near future.

Enough, already!

May 8, 2007

No, that title doesn’t mean that I’m fed up with this little project of mine, despite the lack of updates over the last few days. What it’s actually referring to is the stupendously offensive number of branding movies on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. This game seriously has six little videos before reaching the main menu (which commits sins of its own, mind you, but those are for later).

First up is the Activision logo… as the publisher of the game, I suppose this one makes sense and is to be expected.

Next we have the Marvel logo as seen at the beginning of all of their recent film adaptations. Again, I suppose I could see the reason for this one, as the entire game is predicated upon Marvel’s intellectual property, but think about it: the game is called Marvel: Ultimate Alliance… I think everyone knows they’re involved without a video telling us so.

Following the Marvel logo is Raven Software. This, as with the Activision logo, is fine… as the developer, they certainly have the right to stamp their work.

Vicarious Visions, on the other hand, follows Raven’s video with two of their own. Sure, according to Wikipedia, they co-developed the game with Raven (as, apparently, did “Beenox Studios” and “Barking Lizards Technologies,” but those two didn’t slap their logo videos on the game), and they supplied the engine the game was based on, but why couldn’t they have combined the two videos into one?

Rounding out this rodeo is a quick video for Sofdec, presumably included to thank CRI Middleware for creating the software that enabled the playback of it and the five videos before it.

It all just seems to me that it’s a bit of a waste of time, as quite a few of those could have just been combined into a static screen… Give Activision and Marvel a screen together so they can both show up nice and big to keep their egos happy.  The developers could share another page, with Raven Software’s logo next to Vicarious Visions’, and then the licensed software could have been consolidated.

Anyway, M:UA is obviously the next game I’ve chosen to fire up, so expect to read a bit more rambling about it here as time goes on.