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).


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.


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?


Lost Update

March 24, 2008

So remember my last post where I said “I’m going to make every effort to stay on updating now that I’ve started again.”?  Well, what I meant to say is that I’m not actually going to do that.  Now, I did fully intend to keep up the updating, but as before, there was always something that was keeping me from it.  Specifically, this time, two things: school, and lack of progress.  I actually knew that the school bit was coming up when I made my last post, but I underestimated the amount of reading it was going to entail, and thus didn’t think it would have an impact on my mission, rendering it pointless to mention.  Holy hell was I wrong, but you don’t really care about/need my bitching, so we’ll move on.

It’s coming up on three months since my last post (a few weeks away, but close enough).  Despite this, I’ve only managed to sneak in the time to complete one measly game… and it wasn’t even on the list to begin with.  Lost Odyssey, you’ll notice, has now appeared on the list with a nice satisfying strikethrough effect on it.  I probably should have snuck it up on the list without a proper update, as I’ve done with other titles in the past, just to make sure that the list itself  (and thus the percentage, of course) gives an accurate representation of just how much work I have ahead of me.  I didn’t do that, however, and so you’ll just have to live with it.  The game was great.  It goes without saying that the graphics are beautiful, and the music was fantastic (if a mite repetitive), but flashy presentation does not a good RPG make.  It’s got a nice old-school sort of feel to it, most particularly in the battle system, hearkening back to NES days, even, with a battle system that requires you to enter an action for all of your characters together before the round resolves itself.  While ATB systems have their place, I found Lost Odyssey‘s system to be not only satisfactory, but a rather nice change of pace.  Also, although it may be silly of me, I kind of enjoyed having the game spread out over four discs (nevermind the shoddy packaging they fobbed off on us North Americans)… back in the PS1 days, it always seemed to give a physical sense of progress when you had to get up and switch discs, and while the act itself is kind of annoying, I don’t mind it coming back, even if the PS3 fanboys will point it out as a 360 shortcoming.

Anyway, having just finished the game today (well… yesterday at this point, if you want to get technical), I thought it best to give a bit of an update and remind everyone that I’m not dead yet (I think I’ll go for a walk!).  This time, however, I’m not even going to try to pretend that further updates will be forthcoming in anything remotely resembling a timely fashion.  I certainly hope that they will be more frequent, but I’ve obviously shown that this is far easier said than done.  With that being said, then, there will be more updates as time goes on… my progress may have slowed, but the project is still alive.


Hiat-astic

January 4, 2008

So as many of you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating this blog on what you would call a regular basis. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this: I’m kind of a turd. Now, in my defense, it started out that the entire month of October was taken up by finding and subsequently moving into a new apartment. Following that, I suppose I could try to say that November was taken up by getting settled into said new domicile, but at that point the argument starts to weaken. December… umm… Holiday? Okay, so in reality after losing October to the moving a little lump of Lazy started to snowball and I kept finding excuses not to write. That’s over with, so now you will be graced with my textual wit once more! Huzzah!

I was not completely inactive during my little hiatus, as close scrutiny of yon list will attest. Oh no, in fact I have added quite a few more obstacles to my path, including Halo 3, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mass Effect, God of War II, Odin Sphere, and Super Mario Galaxy. Some of these (read: two) I not only added, but also finished. Halo 3 I actually finished in less than a week. Mass Effect took a bit longer, but ultimately fell like so many before it. Both games were awesome, but you already knew that. Phantom Hourglass, on the other hand… not so much. Well, the game is pretty good. The Wind Waker-style graphics are nice (I was a big fan of Celda), the control scheme is interesting and well-executed, but the gameplay itself is just terrible. The sailing parts are pretty annoying, but really are forgivable. What really brings the game down is the wretched Temple of the Ocean King (or whatever the hell it’s called) that you have to traverse approximately 37 billion times throughout the course of the game. It would be one thing if you could skip all the parts you had already been through each time you have to go back, but you can’t. Sure, you get to warp halfway down after you’ve been through a few times, but halfway doesn’t cut it here… you still end up having to re-do puzzles you’ve already done numerous times before. There’s no excuse for gameplay like this in this day and age. It’s a cheap, dirty, nasty way to extend gameplay and if it weren’t for this accursed blog, I would write the game off completely. In fact, it’s almost enough to make me want to write off Zelda games in general (I’m sorry, Zelda baby! I didn’t mean that! Here’s some flowers! Please take me back, Zelda baby!). Anyway, that thing’s been steamin’ up my DS for weeks now because I just can’t bring myself to play more of it right now… especially not when I have other, better games waiting for me.

A goodly amount of my gaming time during this extended break was devoted toward the PC, which of course I’m not counting for this project. This is unfortunate, since The Orange Box came out towards the beginning of October. What makes that an unfortunate occurrence is that its release prompted me to go back and actually finish Half-Life 2 itself. When HL2 was originally released, I played through it up to the “Nova Prospekt” chapter, which anyone who has played the game will most vividly recall for one particular sequence in which you must weather a siege within the walls of a former penitentiary with nothing but three of the most rickety-ass turrets ever manufactured. You would think that with all sorts of fancy alien technology the Combine would be able to build a better turret than we lowly humans. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. Observe.

HL2 TurretTF2 Turret

Which of those would YOU want to have watching your back? The one that could topple over at the first mention of a stiff breeze or the one with four sturdy legs and frickin’ rocket launchers strapped to the top of it? Yeah… me too.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I ended up stuck on HL2 (just after the turret siege… I had to switch to Easy for the battle, but I did make it past that part) when I first played it. The advent of The Orange Box, however, incited me to play through the game once again, and this time I made it all the way through without getting stuck. I then followed by starting (and finishing) Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, naturally, since I could finally actually play them at that point (Episode One had been out for a while, of course, but I hadn’t finished the HL2 storyline and I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna jump ahead in a series like this). Then came Portal, which only took about two days’ worth of playing to complete (two short days at that), but was so totally worth it. So you see, even though they don’t count, I actually finished another four games during my little “break.” (Note to self: do NOT mention that you’ve also spent, quite frankly, ridiculous amounts of time playing Team Fortress 2 instead of the various console games on your list). Dammit! I didn’t mean to type that out loud…

I’m going to make every effort to stay on updating now that I’ve started again. I really don’t have any worthwhile excuse, as I discussed above, but at least the time away wasn’t a total loss. In addition to finishing Halo 3 and Mass Effect, both of which I mentioned before, I also completed Killzone: Liberation during the hiatus. Hopefully progress will continue without any further 3-month-long snags.


A Visit from Master Chief

September 25, 2007

‘Twas the night before Halo when all ‘cross the land
The fanboys lined up, pre-order slips in hand;
Their cash was laid down, receipts guarded with care
In hopes Master Chief soon would be there;
The noobs, though, were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of Cortana danced in their heads.

There would be more, but I fell asleep trying to write the rest late last night after finishing Gears of War. Given that it’s no longer the night before Halo, I figured I’d just go ahead and post what I have and move along. I didn’t pick up a copy of the game yet, but I fully intend to just as soon as I get out of work this evening, and then it’s Covenant-smashing time!

What with all my complaining in my last post, I didn’t get around to pointing out that the completion of Metroid Prime: Hunters actually pushed me over a milestone. That game was number 21 out of the 81 games that are currently on the list, putting my percentage at 25.9%… I’m more than a quarter of the way through! Gears of War, then, just puts me that much further up, bringing the percentage to 27.2% ever so briefly, before I grab Halo 3 tonight, which will bring me down a bit to 26.8%.


Well, that wasn’t so bad

August 26, 2007

I had been gearing up for BioShock for a little bit now, battening down the hatches and going on a completion spree to beef up my percentage in the expectation that I wasn’t going to get much else done for a while.  Turns out, if you spend ridiculous stretches of time playing a game into the wee hours of the morning for four days straight, you tear right through a game.  I finished last night, actually, but I’ve been struggling to come up with something fitting to write about the experience.  It truly is an incredible game, but I can’t help but feel disappointed by the ending.  I won’t discuss any details, as I hate spoilers, but it seemed like there should have been more to the ending that what there was.  Now, I believe I saw the “bad” ending, as I harvested quite a few Little Sisters throughout my time in Rapture, but even if the events the ending depicts are “bad,” there’s still no excuse for the overly brief coverage of them that was presented.

I plan on eventually playing through it again and saving every Little Sister, to see the “good” ending — not to mention getting the “Little Sister Savior” Achievement (warning: link shows ALL Achievements for the game, including the spoiler-ific Secret Achievements) — but it’s not a priority, of course.  My next task, then, is to try to clear out Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in anticipation of this week’s release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.  This will not actually happen.  I tracked down my Wavebird and memory card last night, tossed the game into the Wii, and fired it up.  I’m only at 35% completion on it, I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing in it, and the new game will be on the shelves on Tuesday.  With that being said, I suppose I should probably do less of the yappin’ and more of the playin’…