Archive for December, 2006
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS) – It’s very good and I’m now enjoying the two-character mechanics more than I was initially, but I’m finding the bosses deeply annoying. I’ve not found a fun one yet, but I’ve found several whose difficulty is way out of line with the rest of the game and I’ve had to make some cash and stock up on potions and tonics to get past them.
Naked War (PC) – I won a game a few days ago! Yay! I’ve got a couple of games on the go right now, but I’m winding down for Christmas. I’ll probably be firing off some more challenges in the new year.
Assault Heroes (360) – It’s a shooter and it’s clean and crisp and very playable without being particularly inspiring. Not sure yet if I should have paid 800 points for it, but I when I got to the end of the demo I really wanted more.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (WII) – Got a good few hours in yesterday, after about a week off. I made a fair amount of progress, but got stuck on one boss for an hour or so before tripping over the solution. I’m currently in the, I think, third dungeon and I am utterly, completely, super-glue stuck. Still, RGB cable arrived this morning so maybe next time I play I’ll see something I missed.
Gunstar Heroes (WII) – I love this game. Since last playing it, though, I seem to have lost any skills I once had, as I haven’t managed to get past the Pink Roader yet.
Alien Crush (WII) – Argh! It’s a great pinball game and well worth a download, but on my first ever go I got 1,750,000 points and since then my best has been 1,112,000. I hate it when my first go at a game is my best ever.
Bonk’s Adventure (WII) – I’ve got to level 2-6, but that’s my best. It’s really, really difficult. Or I’m rubbish. Or both. I’ll keep trying, though it may be years before I make any progress.
Super Mario 64 (WII) – Played quite a lot of this. I’ve lost my cap and I can’t get it back. It fell down into quicksand when I tried to steal it back from the talons of the big bird. I’m sad. I love my cap. Also: this game is much more difficult than it was back in ’96 or ’97 or whenever it was I first played it.
Friday The 13th (360/DS) – I’ve recently been watching all the Friday The 13th films and I’ve been wondering how they could be turned into a game. (Yes, I know about the Spectrum version.) Should you be Jason, or run from Jason, or what? Anyway, inspiration hit in bed last night after The New Blood and my wife and I sketched out a plan for a game. You prepare a camp/house (depending on level), populate it with teen stereotypes and then trigger the arrival of Jason. You then control your characters RTS-style in order to either get them killed as quickly as possible, survive as long as possible, or disable Jason, thus winning the level. Setting time records unlock extras, such as lovely fluffy teddy-bear suit for Jason. Characters have “Jason attraction” circles round them that increase when they indulge in drug taking, skinny dipping or pre-marital sex. And stuff. It’s The Sims, with a Sim City-style disaster, with a movie-based level structure. Sort of. And if the interface worked and it could be balanced properly it could be brilliant. I want it very much.
Donkey Kong (WII) – Meh, I think. Either the NES version is a bit rubbish or I just don’t like Donkey Kong as much as I think I do. I know it’s missing a level, but the levels that are there don’t feel as fun as I remember. I still love the “jumping over barrels” sound, though.
Roboblitz (360) – Found it impressive for the size, but clunky and dull. Turned it off before completing the demo, which isn’t a good sign.
Getting old and worse at games. Bah.
Wii (WII) – Regardless of any, you know, games, the Wii itself is a fun toy. When first starting it up I did the boring stuff of entering settings, getting it online, learning how to use the pointer, downloading Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong, etc. (Pointer was all over the place at first, but became more natural very quickly. Both familiarity and clearing the coffee table that’s between the Wiimote and sensor did their part.) Then it was into the Mii Channel. I handed my wife the Wiimote and she made her Mii, then I made mine. Over the course of the weekend my wife and I made a lot of celebrity Miis, some better than others. Jason Voorhees didn’t look right, but was great nonetheless. I did a pretty good Asajj Ventress, given the parts available and my Count Dooku is okay. Wasn’t very happy with my Earl Hickey. Wife’s Marilyn Monroe and Sadako were ace. Also tried out the photo channel with a couple of photos we’d emailed over to the Wii. They didn’t look too great and I wasn’t sure what the point was, really. (Doesn’t handle GIFs, either.) Exchanged a few messages with friends, which was nice, but won’t replace email. And all the time I marvelled at how nice the image looked, despite being on a rubbish composite connection. Not sure how they’ve done it, but it’s really very impressive and much, much better than I was expecting. Anyway – games!
Wii Play (WII) – This was the first game we tried. Two player all the way. Games are simple and some are better others, but we had great fun and it was a nice introduction to the ways of the Wiimote. Wife really didn’t enjoy the cow-steering game. The best ones were probably laser hockey and fishing for us. Not sure which of them would be good in single player mode, if any. Maybe tanks and billiards. Charging full price for this would be a joke, for a fiver it’s excellent as an introduction.
Wii Sports (WII) – I tried golf in single player first, while my wife tended to her Pony Island ponies online. Took me twenty-eight shots to do the three easy holes first time I tried, took twelve the second time. That’s some improvement. Then – yay! – back to two players for the rest of the game. Bowling first. It’s awesome, really awesome. A bit too easy, maybe, but great fun. And suddenly spotting a Mii representation of one of my friends standing watching was a great moment. Tennis was okay, but we didn’t play long. Baseball was great fun and, after bowling, probably my favourite. Finally, boxing. It’s hard and tiring and wife beat me in both bouts and enjoyed the experience far more than I thought she should have done. And that was it. We played Wii Sports that once and haven’t since. Not because it was bad, but because other games took over. We keep telling each other that we need to play it more, we’ve just not got round to it. (It would be helpful if it was built into the console, instead of being on a disc. Moon, stick, I know.)
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (WII) – This is superb. Absolutely superb. The levels are very well designed without any of the rubbish gimmicks of Super Monkey Ball 2, the jump mechanic fits in surprisingly well, it’s nicely presented, the bosses are quite fun, the credits are skippable and, most of all, the controls are perfect. Some people say they take a while to get to grips with, but I didn’t find that. Don’t know if it was my Wii Play and Wii Sports training or what, but I felt comfortable with them from the beginning. I’m not very good, but that’s my fault, not the control’s.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (WII) – The big game of the launch. The solid, sit-down epic. Didn’t dare start it up until 9pm on Saturday, but by the end of Sunday I’d put in eleven hours. It eats time. And it’s brilliant. I’m not the world’s biggest Zelda fan by any means, but this is just superb. I love the using hand motions for swordplay, fishing and aiming. The game, even through the Wii’s default composite connection, looks gorgeous. (I’d love to see it in 720p using upgraded textures, yes, and I really, really want my RGB SCART cable to arrive, but even as it is it looks wonderful.) It’s just captivating, with fun combat mechanics and puzzles that have stumped me just long enough, but not too long. (Though I had to leave the second dungeon with two chests unclaimed. No idea how to get to them.) I’ve just finished the second dungeon now with, as I said, eleven hours on the clock. I think this will be a big one.
And then there’s the virtual console games.
Super Mario 64 (WII) – Well, I can’t think of anything new to say about this. Though I will say that despite being pretty happy with d-pad controls on the original DS, having the analogue stick back is glorious.
Donkey Kong (WII) – Seems too easy to me. I had to leave my first game unfinished as it was taking so long and come back to lose my last life later. (At least the Wii saves the game when you quit out.)
Super Star Soldier (WII) – Not sure if it’s a great vertical shooter, but it’s a vertical shooter, which is enough.
Bonk’s Adventure (WII) – It’s a fun platform game. Not earth-shattering, but worth a look.
Rayman Raving Rabbids (WII) – Short, I’ve heard. I’ve also heard that not all the games are much fun. And it’s not in widescreen, incredibly. But I still want it. And since seeing the trailer, so does my wife.
Gunstar Heroes (WII) – Being added to the virtual console this Friday, according to a list I saw of upcoming releases. Don’t know how accurate it was, but I live in hope. Castlevania IV was shown as coming before the end of the month, too.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (WII) – Yes, the main game is amazing, but the mini-games are appalling. Okay, not all of them. Monkey Wars is a nice tech demo and there’s a fairly fun flying game in there, with you flying a bird through glowing rings. The others I tried ranged from the boring to the broken. A lot of the one that relied on a pointer just didn’t seem to work at all and really should have been removed from the game. I’m sure they were there just so the back of the box could say “50 mini games!” because they’re just awful, terrible, broken things.
Wii (WII) – Some minor complaints. Using IR technology at all is annoying, meaning the remote has to have line-of-sight for pointing games. Not sure what else they could have done, but it’s annoying. Channels take longer to load than I’d like. Waiting for the Mii channel to load is painful, despite only being on a black screen for about five seconds. Very odd that it should be so annoying, but it feels wrong. And my Wiimote turned itself off when the channel was loading once, which was odd. The lack of better video cables at launch is very annoying, as are the supply issues generally. Apart from that, I can’t really think of anything to complain about.
A fair amount has been going on this week.
Oblivion (360) – I finished the downloadable Knights of the Nine quest. Quite short, rewards weren’t great and it wasn’t in the least bit difficult, but it was good fun and it was lovely to go and visit Cyrodiil again for a while. It’s one gorgeous game when it wants to be, is Oblivion. Pity about some of the voices being so damn quiet.
Guitar Hero (PS2) – Finished off Easy and started on Medium. The blue button kills me. When it comes along I completely forget which button is where and end up hitting red instead of green or yellow instead of red for ten or twenty seconds until I recover. Not good. It really is incredibly good fun, though.
Sonic Rivals (PSP) – A good modern Sonic game! Not a great one and it’s as much a ride as a game in many ways – but it’s a ride that works. Even the two boss fights I’ve seen so far have been okay. Sonic bosses I don’t detest? Something’s gone unexpectedly right here.
Capcom Collection Remixed (PSP) – Got this half-price when I bought Sonic. The inclusion of Strider blinded me to the fact that there are no other games here I really care about. That said, of the three I’ve tried so far, two have been hits. Strider is a classic piece of gaming and still incredibly fun. 1941 was a great surprise, much faster and more interesting than I was expecting. Pity about the controls when you flip the screen, though. The miss was Street Fighter, which is incredibly bad. I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s so much worse than I remember. I just can’t get my head around it at all.
Lumines II (PSP) – It’s very, very good. I got my best ever Lumines score – about 113,500 or so. (I know, I’m rubbish.)
Final Fantasy 3 (DS) – It looks nice. It’s Final Fantasy. It’s rock hard. I think I’m going to places I shouldn’t be going to, because I’m dying a lot. I’ll probably stick with it, if I get time.
Yoshi’s Island DS (DS) – Half-way through the first world and having a lot of fun with this one. I can see it getting tedious if taken too quickly, but I think if I do a level or two here and there it’ll remain fun for a good long time. I’m impressed with Artoon so far.
A Wii, of course. I’ve cancelled my pre-order for Red Steel and gone for Rayman instead, to add to Zelda and Monkey Ball. With Zelda being the big, sit-down-for-hours game on launch, I’m after quick distractions and controller lessons from my other games. I’m really hoping Gameplay get my Wii to me on Friday.
PSP Firmware Updates (PSP) – Every single time I put a new game into my PSP it tells me I have to install new firmware to play it. Which requires plugging the PSP into its charger. I’m excited when I get a new game! I just want to play it! Gah!
A Dualshock 2 (PS2) – Decided to play Shadow of the Colossus again. Started up the PS2 and the cursor on the menu was going crazy. Turned off, tried again, same thing. Tried an old original grey Dualshock, no response at all. Loaded up Guitar Hero with the guitar plugged in and everything was fine. Got grumpy. Spent ages looking for another Dualshock 2. Not in the controller bin. Not in the cables bin. Not in the misc bin. Not in the cupboard above the fridge where the old consoles live. Not in the mainly-Nintendo cables drawer in the kitchen. Finally I remembered to look in the wine cupboard by the sink in the kitchen, where I, indeed, found one. Must remember that it’s only the mostly-wine cupboard. Anyway, that controller worked, so I threw away the broken Dualshock 2 and settled down to play…
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) – Oh dear. I don’t know why, but I really couldn’t get into this. I loaded my saved game and went after the ninth colossus, who kept killing me. In the end, though I knew what to do, I gave up. I just couldn’t avoid his attacks. Decided to start a new game, but couldn’t work out what to do to kill the first colossus, so gave up on the game entirely. Just couldn’t click with it. Odd, as last time I played I loved it.
Sonic The Hedgehog Genesis (GBA) – By rights, the person who decided to release this should face criminal charges. I’d read everything about this online and it was still worse than I expected.