Archive for October, 2010
You have to say it a pirate voice. Invade-arrrrrrrrr. I mean, you could just say “Invader R”, but would be boring and rubbish and WRONG. Even if it’s actually right, it’s WRONG.
(I think WRONG has to be in capital letters now. I think the lower-case version has lost all meaning in this Internet age.)
Anyway, InvaderR is Space Invaders, but doesn’t make me want to chew my own legs off with boredom when I play it. Infinity Gene managed this by inviting us into a cyberpunk world of robot dreams and the music of our bionic future, InvaderR does it by just making it really fast and not bothering to have the invaders drop down the screen.
It’s tilty, free and it may not be brilliant, but it does its job efficiently enough to keep you engaged until you clear the whole screen and then decided you’ve got a bit bored.
Yes, I’ve been shooting more strange, noble and, if you believe ICP, miraculous animals.
There’s not much to say, really. I go out, I kill things and I drink their blood to take their powers.
Now I can turn myself black and white and shoot water out of my newly-droopy nose. Maybe I should kill something with something useful like venom or wings, eh?
Actually, an elephant squirted me with water at Bristol Zoo when I was three or four. Let’s call this payback.
When I lived in Texas I never went to a Sonic fast food restaurant. I was on my own in a new country and just didn’t know how they worked. I had the idea that you stayed in your car and they came to you, or maybe you used one of those drive-through intercom things to order. I was intrigued and kept looking at my local Sonic wistfully, but never had the balls to go try it out.
I was worried that it might use the intercom thing because that never, ever worked for me. I had enough trouble making myself understood in person, let alone through the scratchy, wax-cylinder-style filter of those terrible speakers. This always baffled me, because being middle class and from south east England I don’t have an accent. Everyone else has accents, we’re the ones without accents from which all others deviate in strange and disturbing ways.
(If my lovely wife reads this post I can probably expect a good old American ass kicking when I get home – or least a wifely look and a shake of the head. For some reason she thinks I have got an accent, even though I clearly don’t! Crazy American lady!)
Anyway, I never went to Sonic.
Thinking about it, the real reason was that whenever I wanted fast food I would always go to Taco Bell, it being my favourite place in the world. Lord, I miss Taco Bell. On, nachos, how I long for you! And free refills of Mountain Dew! Oh!
I’ve only just had lunch and now I’m hungry again.
Oh, and after munching on the tasteless crap I grabbed in Spar I played some Sonic The Hedgehog 4.
I’m stuck on the first Mad Gear level, so I played the second one and completed it without a problem. Very much enjoying myself at the moment. Although Mad Gear Act One is kicking me all over the place, I don’t mind. It’s a fun level. It’s just a shame I haven’t quite managed to work out how to deal with what might well be the final obstacle.
(There’s a long line of crushers and I guess you have to spin dash through them, but the moving platform next to the crushers doesn’t sync up with them, so I have no idea how I’m meant to prepare myself.)
It’s tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky.
Rhythm action Pong, basically.
Dots come from the right hand sign of the screen and you need to bounce them back with your paddle to make musical notes. Simple, effective, leads to me flailing around like a drunken sailor being eaten by a shark and dying on the first level.
I am not very good at it at all. Any little dots going diagonally mess me up. For some reason my stupid, useless brain can’t predict where they’re going to go, despite them travelling in nice, simple straight lines.
My brain is an idiot and I hate it.
Oh, sure, I might get better in practice, but it’s a game I wouldn’t play without sound and I hardly ever play iPhone games with sound, so, yeah… it’s a problem.
Put it this way, I’m in no hurry to buy the DLC.
I never tire of typing that title. Axe In Face! It’s a brilliant name for a game.
Good thing it’s married to such an excellent game.
Over the weekend I got a new power-up (I can now freeze enemies for a while), which is very helpful as it’s started getting a lot trickier. I really hate losing levels, too. I feel terribly guilty when the little viking chap bursts into tears as his flowers get trampled. It’s a good incentive to play well, it really is.
Also got my first Bronze medal for completing a silver, it’s all been golds and silvers before now. At the moment, though, I’m only looking for wins. Medals can come later.
I’m playing in a tournament. I’m in a group with a couple of other people. I’m not entirely sure I’m doing it right, but as long as I play games against the right people I don’t suppose I can go far wrong.
I won my first game, but I’m struggling in the second one. I’m not terribly behind yet, but my letters aren’t great and my opponent if fearsome, if a little slow in playing his moves.
I’ve also been playing lots of other random people who seem to have found my name via this blog. If things don’t slow down I’m going to have to start refusing games, which would be a shame.
So, that level I was stuck on all yesterday evening?
Yeah, I just did it this lunchtime. First time, too. (I lost a life or two, but I didn’t get the Game Over screen.) The trick with spikes seems to be just to wiggle gently. I’m still not entirely sure how it works.
Then it was on to the Boss stage and the first bit of genuinely rubbish design I’ve seen so far in this game. Let us count its failings.
1) There’s a fairly long level before the boss fight with no checkpoint before the fight itself. This level isn’t difficult, but it is underwater and has fairly tight time limits, so one missed jump can kill you. If the boss kills you, it’s back to the beginning to do the whole tedious sequence again. What’s the point in having boss stages at all if you pad them like this? And if you’re going to pad, why pad with an underwater stage? Why do they exist in the first place? They’ve never been much fun in Sonic games, serving only to illustrate how rubbish Sonic is when he can’t run really fast and zoom about.
2) The boss fight itself has Robotnik or Eggman or whatever he’s fucking calling himself this week hovering near the ceiling. Stones come out of the walls, floor and ceiling and let you get near him, but if you get caught between them or against the edge of the level you will die. You won’t lose your rings, you’ll die… which means running through the whole level again.
3) The stone doesn’t come out of the edge of the level in predictable patterns. The first few times you won’t know where to jump and will die. Okay, so you can be sure that the boss won’t be in a crush-zone, but if you don’t know what’s coming it’s very hard to react in time. The patterns aren’t even the same each time, so you can’t learn it by rote.
The whole thing adds up to an immensely frustrating level, where you’re doing a long, boring underwater bit again and again just to spend ten seconds in a boss fight. Sure, it didn’t take me too long to finally beat the bastard – twenty minutes at the outside – but it felt much, much longer. I hope this isn’t an indication of things to come. The game so far has been excellent, I don’t want the end to be spoiled by artificial difficulty.
Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about.
So I was having a great time, rattling through the game.
But then… then… then I got stuck.
There’s a timed section in the third act of the water zone. It’s the first time the controls have let me down. You see, if you’re too slow at the beginning, you need to do a spin dash to get up a slope. (If you’re fast enough you can just run up the slope, but once its underwater that’s no longer possible.) It turns out that doing a spin dash under pressure using the virtual control stick is a complete lottery.
I died. I died and died and died. I spent most of my evening trying to get past this spot, practicing the same section again and again.
I’ve now got to the stage where I can complete it quite often. It’s not the sticky point it once was. The trouble is, after that section there’s a bit I can’t work out how to do. You have to tip yourself out of a water-filled room. There’s one earlier in the level that’s fine, but this time there are spikes in the room and it seems impossible to get past them. I don’t know what I’m missing, but I just can’t see a solution. It’s a shame I only see that room every ten minutes or so, because I keep losing all my lives and then have to restart the level and go through all the easy stuff and the timed section again, just to die on the spikes again.
It should be game-breakingly terrible, I know this. It’s not, though. I don’t actually mind retrying over and over again. I enjoy it. I’ve spend a couple of hours or more on this one level so far and I don’t care. Now, if the spin dash move was essential then I’d have a huge problem with this and would probably declare the game broken, but it’s not. I just have to do the level as fast as possible and there’s no problem.
The really weird thing is, though, that I’ve not seen anyone else mention a difficulty spike here. I’ve possibly spent longer on this level than the rest of the game put together, but nobody else seems to be having any problems. I know I’m missing a solution to the spikes in the water-filled room, but what else am I missing?
And, really, why am I genuinely happy to keep trying this level? I should be hating it, surely?
I’m just not. Strange.
Follows the same template as Deer Hunter, except – duh – you’re in Africa. And you’re not shooting deer. There are kudu, which are quite like deer, but you’re also shooting zebra, lions, buffalo and elephants. And maybe another one I’ve forgotten. (I have seen them all, because I got the achievement for killing one of each species last night. Time for a tasty mixed grill!)
So, you start wandering around the map until you find some animal tracks.
Then you set yourself up in a good hunting position and prepare to kill some animals.
Repeat until you’ve killed five animals or night falls. That’s about it. You can spend points you earn on new weapons, equipment and stat increases, you can unlock new areas to hunt in and, just like its predecessor, you can view your best kills in the trophy room.
That’s pretty much it. It all works very well and, as with any shooting game, a good kill is very satisfying. The death animations make me feel pretty horrible about myself, but I can live with that. You see, I started off with my first hunting games to investigate a sub-genre I knew nothing about, but now I rather like them. And I’d definitely like to see an Urban Sniper spin-off of the Deer Hunter series.
I am not a Sonic fan.
Sure, I’ve liked many of his games (especially the Master System version of the first game, but that’s probably some very rose-tinted specs in full effect) and I’ve definitely got something of a spot soft for the spiky wee fellow, but I haven’t had him tattooed on my arm or my heart. He does not represent my childhood. When I see Sega repeatedly raping his twitching corpse in endless failed reboots and spin-offs I tut, but I don’t cry.
As such, I’m probably less precious about Sonic 4 than some other people. Or, to put it another way, I’m going to be more easily pleased.
If the game involves Mr. Hedgehog running through green fields, round loops and jumping into spikes and there aren’t any technical or control issues, then I’m going to be sitting there with a grin on my face and loving it.
Or liking it, at least.
Now, these are very much first impressions. I’ve played the first act of the first zone twice and the second act once. That’s all. I’ve not investigated any other zones (all the levels except boss levels are unlocked after finishing the Zone 1, Act 1). I’ve not seen a boss. I’ve not played any of the difficult levels. I’ve not done much… except enjoy myself. The controls work well, with responsive on-screen controls and the homing attacks feels like a natural part of the mix. The graphics are very colourful and while the framerate isn’t completely solid it’s never been bad.
Whether my enjoyment will last, though, I don’t know. Sonic’s always been about replaying levels for me, so I don’t mind that the lack of content as much as some. (Though I’ll admit paying six quid for “Episode One” of an iPhone game rankles a bit. Episode Two better be a cheap in-app purchase or THERE WILL BE GRUMP.) You can play each level as Score Attack or a Time Attack, to add to the fun.
(Hmm, wait a minute. Are there any leaderboards? I’ve not checked. Game Center support now, please!)
So, first impressions are good, but bear in mind I’ve not played much of the game yet. Also, I’m playing on a 3GS, which seems to be the best device for this, iPhone 4 users don’t seem to be happy with the performance.
I just don’t want you to spend six quid on my recommendation and feel ripped off, but there’s no getting around the fact that the game gave me a great big smile while I was doing my morning poo today.