I wish I could say I finished out the month on a high note. That is to say, I was hoping to sit back and say, "For my final game of my first month of this year long project, I played a really awesome game."
Unfortunately, I can't say that. All I am left with is the anticipation of writing up a monthly wrap-up of my progress, starting a new month and moving on to the next game tomorrow.
Tonight, I regrettably played Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for the Wii U. While this game came out for all platforms, I gave the Wii U version a shot, mainly because I am fascinated with how games incorporate the GamePad into the gaming experience.
When the first Epic Mickey came out, I was super-excited to play it. It seemed like an awesome concept, being able to erase and rebuild the entire world with your paintbrush's paint and thinner. And while I did enjoy the first game, it got repetitive, the paint/erase the world function was pretty cookie-cutter and not-so-open-world, and the controls - mainly the camera - sucked horribly. The controls and the awful camera got so frustrating that it just compromised the entire integrity of the game.
So going into this game, despite iffy reviews, I was hoping that they at least solved some of the bigger issues of the first game. Well, they didn't, and actually, I think the problems got worse. Not only does the camera hardly work as it should, but the controls are completely unresponsive at times, and the ability to erase stuff or rebuild stuff is so limited as to what you can actually interact with, it doesn't even seem worth it to have that as part of the game play. And that's sad, because it was that concept that made this game franchise worth talking about in the first place.
I honestly couldn't even get into the story this time around, as I found myself just skipping through cut scenes immediately. That in itself is a chore, as you have to hold the button for 10-15 seconds before it skips over what you are watching. Hey, developers: if you are going to allow players to skip over your cinematics, don't make the process difficult just so they are forced to watch a portion of them.
The best part of Disney is their storytelling. The first game was uber-creative when it came to storyline, but this next chapter of the series just seemed like a rehashing of the first one, or a continuation of it. But for those who didn't/couldn't finish the first one, the game offers little to nothing to entice the newcomers to care about the story. What a shame.
The studio that made this game just closed its doors this week, and while I would never wish ill-will towards hard working people and would never want to see anyone lose their jobs for "business decisions," I wonder if they were better at making games, or at least willing to learn from previous mistakes and fix problems their customers had before, they would have succeeded in the long run. Being stubborn or unwilling to learn in the quickly changing game design industry is something that won't get you anywhere fast. And it usually ends badly, unfortunately.
Such a disappointing gaming experience in a day filled with awesome gaming news. Grand Theft Auto 5 is now being released in September, opening the spring for all the other bad ass games to get the credit they deserve.
Oh, and a little company called Sony announced a huge event to show off the future of the Playstation on Feb. 20. Will that entail a Playstation 4 announcement? One can only hope.
I didn't want to like this game.
I was almost certain, before playing Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, that I wouldn't like this game. It's a JRPG that is stylized to look amazingly like a well-crafted anime cartoon, and neither one of those genres of entertainment do anything for me. They aren't my cup of tea, if you will.
Yet the reviews for the game were unbelievable. I never thought I could be talked into having interest in a game like this, yet I here I sit, a couple of hours into it, and I love it. And I hate that I love it.
I didn't want to like this game because I don't have time to love this game. And yet this is a game that demands and commands you to dump many, many hours into it to experience everything it has to offer. And that's the scary part. I think I really do like this game a lot, but there isn't any chance I will be able to spend the amount of time it deserves with it any time soon. I have one game I am in the middle of, one sitting on the shelf ready to be enjoyed, this daily blog, and that little thing called "life." Oh, and the endless run of huge and amazing games coming down the pipeline in the next few months means I will already be sacrificing play time for one or another, for another.
This game is anime with a great story smashed together with a pokemon-type of collecting/battling system. The game runs smoothly, the dialogue is crisp and refreshing and the story is mesmerizing already. The art style is flat-out beautiful, and the sheer enormous size of the game and the complexity of the systems (battling, magic, crafting, collecting, leveling, etc.) is overwhelming.
Like I said, I am shocked that I enjoyed this game this much already. And while I want nothing more than to keep playing, I simply can't do it to myself just yet. Maybe in the lull of the gaming wasteland known as summer? That seems more reasonable. Of course, I say that now. I might end up spending the next week playing nothing but this game.
I would go back to it tonight - like right now - but alas, I desperately need some sleep. Hopefully my enjoyment of this awesome experience that is Ni No Kuni wasn't derived from being sleep-deprived. It wouldn't be the first time, though.
See you in the summer, Ni No Kuni. Hopefully...
Ok, folks, tonight is going to be quick and to the point. Tonight I played Temple Run 2 on my seven year old's Kindle Fire while I was eating dinner. That was literally the only time I've had all day and night to play any games, thanks to this massive Super Bowl cake I am making. Cake needs to be delivered tomorrow morning, and the clock is ticking.
So while I was grubbing on some shrimp and broccoli, pork chow mein and fried rice, I was giving the newly released Temple Run 2 a try. Like the first game, this was also free, which I appreciate when it comes to kids wanting every game they see under the sun.
It controls much like the first game, with the biggest, most noticeable difference in the two in the level designs. The mountain landscape in 2 feels much more polished and cleaner. The game itself is still as frustrating as ever at some points, but in an addictive sort of way. Once you die, all you want to do is go back and try to get farther the next time. Thanks to the random path generator of the game, it's quite difficult to repeat your previous without a little bit of luck.
I'm not going to lie, either. I suck at it. Maybe I was just rushing myself, knowing how much was on my plate tonight, but my son's scores blew mine out of the water tenfold. Oh well, I can't be a master at everything I suppose.
Sorry again for the short post, friends. I have a clear schedule tomorrow night and plan to do some serious gaming, if all goes well. Or maybe I will just sleep. I guess we will just have to wait and find out.
Sometimes, life is just flat out busy. On top of a swamped work day and the everyday craziness of every weeknight in our household, I also started a massive Super Bowl cake that I need to deliver Wednesday morning. (Yes, I make cakes - another story for a much less busier time, my friends.)
So because of all of that, and the sheer amount of time I am going to have to dump into this cake project the next couple of days - and then another cake in a couple more days for an actual Super Bowl party - gaming is going to need to be squeezed in whenever possible. So today, I managed to squeak in some Chronovolt on my very brief lunch break. I intended to write about it then, but I simply didn't have the time to try and do it on my phone. So here I sit, taking a break from my cake, to write about it.
Chronovolt is a game for the PS Vita, that was free for PS Plus members. It's a cross between steampunk style and Super Monkey Ball game play. You control your little ball, or Chronosphere, through levels, picking up items, collecting power ups and trying to get three stars for each level. Pretty simple concept, which is the best thing it has going for it. The storyline, if you want to call it that, is a bore, and forces you to skip through it in the middle of levels. The dialogue is cheesy and once I start a level and get the ball rolling (yes, pun intended), I just want to play the level. I don't want to be stopped here and there to listen to some nonsensical story I don't care about.
The controls work fine, and the power ups are a nice touch, like rewinding time to stop you from falling off ledges and what not, but overall, I was pretty unimpressed. Maybe I was just too busy to be in a true gaming mood, but either way, it was just ... blah.
All I can say is that I'm glad it was free. Sure, there will be a few trophies here and there to pick up in it, but it's not a game I plan on sinking any serious time into. Especially this week.
Sorry in advance, everyone, if my blog posts the rest of the week seem short and too the point. You can't have your cake and eat it to, as they say.
My seven year old son approached me tonight, out of nowhere really, and said, "Dad, we need to get some more Skylanders Giants figures." We hadn't been talking about, he hadn't been playing the game - it literally just came from out of the blue. And while I thought his idea was a good one, I had to explain that we have all of them that are available to buy in stores, and that the ones we don't have just haven't been released yet.
It's a tough concept for kids to understand, why they would not release them all when the game came out, but for me, I understand. By holding out figures to release them a few at a time, in "waves," makes a lot of business sense. Your customer fanbase builds the hype and hysteria on its own, until people start fighting and throwing elbows in stores as they grab the newest figures off the shelves.
It's like Black Friday several times a year, every time a new wave is released. And that's why the franchise has made more than $500 million since the franchise began less than a year and half ago.
It's also why Disney is making their own, similar game called Disney Infinity, with well-known and recognizable characters and worlds. Even if they don't topple the kind of the mountain, there is certainly money to be made in the "video game + toys" genre.
So instead of buying any new figures tonight, we decided to play come co-op together. We both picked out a Giant and one character from each elemental class, sat down and dove into the story that he has been chipping away at. At this point, we have way too many characters to pull them all off the shelf, so this method is the least disastrous, especially with his four year old little sister looming around, wanting to snag and run off with every pink, purple or cartoonish figurine.
For being a "kids game," I'm not going to lie - it is pretty challenging. The frustration level also rises when two players of significant gaming experience play co-op, as was the case tonight. It's his game, his save file, so I let him lead me through the game, but when it came down to timing-based puzzle solving, I had to take the reigns. And that was tougher than I thought, to the point where Mom had to yell from the kitchen for me to take it easy, since it's just the game. It's not like I was getting upset at him, but rather the mechanics of the game when playing co-op. You see, when one player moves ahead in the map and the other player falls back (or worse, gets stuck in a trap or behind something), the lead player can only go so far before progress is stopped until the straggler makes up ground. When using different Skylanders of different speeds, this makes it challenging as well.
It's something the developers should look into for the next installment, if they want to continue the co-op experience being friendly and inviting for all.
We plowed through, however, and made an awesome team in the long run. I really enjoy playing with him, as his gaming soul is still so young and innocent. My 12 year old is all about Call of Duty, and his gaming habits are already conforming to the FPS online multiplayer types. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just hard for me since those games aren't my cup of tea, as I've explained before.
So anyway, I had fun tonight. It was nice to play a game that isn't super intense, without going after trophies or achievements, and being able to do it with my kids. I spent so much time playing games by myself over the years, especially as a kid, that I'm glad to have company - as long as its my kids.
One day, I'll write up an article about how Skylanders merged my gaming world and my OCD collecting habits, but not tonight. It's still January, and last time I checked, there is still a lot of time left in 2013. For now, I'm just just glad that even with this project, I am still a dad first and a gamer second ... as it should be.
Sometimes you have a really good plan of action. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try to stick to that plan, a monkey wrench gets thrown into the system and your entire plan - as good as it was - goes up in flames. Plans aren't invincible, my friends. And they surely aren't bullet proof against the game called life.
Ok, all that may be a little dramatic to just explain what game I played today. I really did have a different plan in mind, but honestly, my OCD grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. I got distracted by a game I had no intention of getting distracted by. It's not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last time - especially this year.
So I was browsing the PSN store online today (yes, you can access it from your computer now, buying whatever you want and queuing it up to download the next time you turn your PS3 on). As I was looking, I stumbled upon Jetpack Joyride for the PS Vita - and it was FREE! Now, I had heard it was free, but every time I tried to download it, it popped up as being $3.99. Apparently, the store on the Vita wants to charge you, but if you download it to your PS3 and then transfer it, it is free? I don't understand what the hell that is all about, but whatever. I got a game, with trophies mind you, for free.
So I downloaded it, but as I went to transfer it to my Vita, my Vita freaked out and bricked, stuck on the "Power Off" menu screen. No touch controls worked, no buttons did anything ... it was just frozen. So I let it sit there, for an hour or so, hoping the battery would just die. It wasn't dying as soon as I hoped, so I tried every trick in the book once again. Finally, after holding the power button for about a minute, it gave me the option of rebooting the system. Finally, I was back in business.
I put in a PS3 game after I was done with all that, expecting to play and write about that particular game. However, thanks to the PS3 automatic-install process of every disc you put in the system, I had a lot of time to kill. Plus, the Blazers game was on, so I just picked up my Vita to test out Jetpack Joyride while I waited.
Well, two hours later and a lot of trophies acquired, Jetpack Joyride became the game to write about tonight. Not much to write about, honestly, it is a simple mobile game that has trophies. Now, the trophies are fun to get, and the ones I didn't get tonight are ones you accumulate after many, many hours sunk into the game. But a handful of free trophies are something I will never complain about.
There is a leveling system in the game, where you accomplish certain goals to be awarded stars that go towards ranking up. Simple, yet super addictive system that works when it comes to making you play "just one more time." Man, I don't know how many times I said that tonight.
"Just one more run, then I am done," I would say. The I would run through, accomplish a goal, get some goodies, see the next goal to go after - rinse and repeat. The only reason I put it down was just to write this blog. I'm not rushing back to it tonight, but I'll gladly keep it installed on the Vita for quick on-the-go gaming and trophy whoring.
As far as that other game I was supposed to play? I think it might still be installing. I'll have to check on that.
Oh, and remember that glitched trophy in Far Cry 3 I mentioned yesterday? Yeah, I un-glitched that bitch this morning, meaning I am six co-op missions away from a Platinum trophy in that game.
Does anyone want to play?
First I want to start out by bragging a little bit that after many, many hours, dozens of hunted tigers and an amazing gaming experience, I finally completed Far Cry 3. No, I didn't get the Platinum trophy for it, for a couple of reasons.
First, I encountered what appears to be a glitched trophy that just sits there and mocks me, just out of my grasp. Secondly, there are six trophies associated with the co-op missions, but because I don't have a co-op buddy to play with and I hate playing online games with random people, I'll have to leave those on the table now as well. At least with those sitting there, the glitched trophy doesn't hurt as bad.
Aside from that, however, I finished everything in the game I possibly could and wanted to. In fact, I am very tempted to buy the DLC for it and do a few more missions and kill a few more exotic animals, BUT...
I have games I need to start playing, start enjoying. I can't get hung up on Far Cry 3 any longer than I already have. And because I was able to finish it last night, it cleared up the evening for me to jump into a new game, and one that shouldn't take nearly as long. DmC: Devil May Cry, which has been sitting on my shelf for a week now, finally got opened for the inaugural first play. (That is, after the lengthy install process on the PS3 - man, that gets more annoying with every game, I swear.)
Starting DmC means I can finally cross the first game off my list of most anticipated games to play in 2013. Now, I can honestly say I don't know much about this series. I have known people to play the older games, but never got into them myself. So with this game being a complete reboot of the series, I figured it was the perfect place to jump in. I was first introduced to this new Dante character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and I loved his move set in that game. I assumed those moves were borrowed from this new DmC game, and while I was right, it was also just the surface of his incredible move set.
I've already got through a few different chapters, and aside from the storyline and back story that has already roped me in, the moves that Dante uses to kill demons is remarkable. You have your normal sword, your two pistols and now an angelic and demonic weapon, and using all four weapon types seamlessly and fluidly in one combo is an amazing feeling. While I am usually not that great about combos in most games (see: fighting games), in DmC, pulling off insane combos is easily accomplished even if trying to remember which buttons do which mid-way, as the game is forgiving and still makes whatever you are trying to do look awesome. You can't really screw up a combo, per say, and you aren't punished for mistiming a button push as long as you are aware enough to dodge and avoid attacks in the meantime. The bigger and more gruesome your combo streak becomes, the higher grade you get - starting at D and going up to SSS. Also, at the end of each chapter, you are rewarded with a similar grade for completion of the level, scored on style points, time to finish, deaths, items used and how many extra items you found along the way.
For some reason, I kind of expected to be looting and searching for more items in this game, but after wasting so much time in Far Cry 3 aimlessly looting just for the sake of doing it, I'm kind of relieved that I should be able to play this game, for the most part, straight through without wasting too much time on frivolous collecting. I did noticed there are trophies for collecting everything, but it seems like some things can't be reached on the first play through anyway, so if a second play through is needed, there isn't the dire, gravitating pull on my OCD collecting need to do it all my first time. I can just sit back and enjoy the twisted, dark universe.
I already know that I won't be getting the Platinum for this game, so without worrying about trophy hunting, the game will be a mindless yet fascinating hack-n-slash adventure. So far, so good.
Tonight, for no apparent reason, I decided to go back and play one of my favorite Xbox games ever, XIII. Actually, it may even be one of my favorite First Person Shooters ever, and after playing it again tonight, I remembered why that is.
I bought the game when it was first released on the original Xbox back in the day. I lost it when I had a fire sale of my entire gaming collection when I went on a video game hiatus, but when I finally got back into the game and bought am Xbox 360 for my son, I knew what I had to do. I looked up to see if XIII was backwards compatible with the Xbox 360, and when I found out it was, I rushed down to GameStop and managed to find a used copy.
Honestly, it is the best $3 I've ever spent.
As cool as the 360 was, and as pretty as all the new games were, all I wanted to do was play this old Xbox game over and over again. It's been several years since I've touched it, but boy did I have fun with it tonight.
The controls are flawless (which is tough for most FPS even in today's gaming spectrum), the story is unbelievable and the fun factor is through the roof. But above all else is how beautiful the game looks. It is designed in the cell shading style, which to this day, still holds up as having a great visual design. Since the game is loosely based on an old comic book of the same name, there are tons of comic book effects throughout the game, such as story panels for cut scenes (and even through some game play), and pop-out comic-style words throughout your adventure.
This was the first FPS that I loved since Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, and honestly, it is still top 5 five for me all time of FPS.
The one thing I hate about this game, which I also remembered (thanks to old save files) was the ending. It ends in a cliffhanger, setting it up for a sequel that would never happen. I don't know if they forgot about this franchise because it didn't sell well, or what the deal was, but if there was ever a game in need of a reboot, this would get my first vote.
Apparently there was a point and click adventure game called XIII 2, supposedly a sequel of sorts, that was released on mobile devices back in 2011, but that's like saying Super Mario Bros. 2 is a true sequel to the original masterpiece.
I'm super glad I went back and played this game, and enjoyed what made it so special for me all those years ago - before my gaming hiatus.
Speaking of which, that is an awesome story. A story I might just write about on this blog one day. One day down the road. But not tonight. I have some more XIII to play.
Tonight, I want to celebrate Nintendo. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Nintendo decided to acknowledge the future of the Wii U. And not just empty promises, but rather games. GAMES GAMES GAMES. I can't stress enough how important that word is. For Nintendo, unlike Microsoft and Sony who always brag about power and size and online blah blah blah, their main selling point and the reason they have been around for 30 years, is their stellar games. Without an amazing library of self-published games, Nintendo would have gone the way of Sega a long, long time ago.
Sure, their systems are nice. They are innovative and unique. But without GAMES, no one would ever experience how great their systems are. Their games make the system, not the other way around.
So today, they came out swinging. They dropped announcement after announcement via Nintendo Direct. They announced a new 3D Mario game, a new Zelda game, a remake of Zelda: Wind Waker, a new Mario Kart, a new Yoshi game, Smash Bros., and so on.
And one of the most obvious yet exciting announcements was the return of the Virtual Console to the Wii U. Right now, you can transfer your Wii Virtual Console titles to the Wii U, but you can't play them at all with the GamePad, and you have to be in the Wii mode to play them at all. Now, you will be able to download them right to your Wii U menu screen, play on the GamePad (even exclusively on the GamePad if you choose), and connect to Miiverse in-game. Better yet, if you already own Wii Virtual Console games, you can download them once again, in Wii U form, for a mere $1 ($1.50 for SNES games).
Also, to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Famicom (the original name for the NES before it was released here in the States), Nintendo is giving huge sales on Virtual Console titles, one every 30 days, for 6 months. The price? $.30 of course. The first game, released as soon as the Nintendo Direct was over? The classic Balloon Fight.
Most gamers don't remember this game, but anyone with a Wii U is at least familiar with it thanks to its own attraction in NintendoLand. The game came out waaaaaaaaaay back in 1986, and it was built to be played as a high-score bragging game.
I downloaded it, of course (after tax was only 33 cents!), and enjoyed the hell out of playing on the GamePad. It's not a game you can log serious hours into, but fun nonetheless. My seven year old was blown away that I was playing a game that looked like this, especially since he's been seeing me run around lush jungle environments in Far Cry 3 lately. If this is any indication of how much I am going to enjoy playing old games right on the GamePad, then this year of gaming is going to be even better than I could have imagined.
I can't wait.
Today was a good day in the digital gaming world. Not only did the long awaited game The Cave come out, but the PSN started a huge sale of downloadable games, in which I was able to pick up a handful of games for about 10 bucks. Nothing like adding games to the collection to play for cheap.
So like I said, The Cave came out on all platforms (XBLA and PC tomorrow, though). I was going back and forth on which system to download it on, between PS3 and the Wii U. On one hand, I could rack up some easy trophies on the PS3. But without a Platinum trophy, it wasn't a no-brainer decision. If I got it on the Wii U, however, I would add another really cool downloaded game to my small yet growing collection, but also I could utilize one of the coolest and still under appreciated functions of the Wii U - Miiverse.
I chose the Wii U. And so far, I think I made the right decision.
The Cave is a puzzle game, where you select three of a possible seven characters to go on an adventure in a mysterious, unknown and magical cave. Each character has their own special ability, and you have to use all three to solve the puzzles to advance through the cave. Sounds simple, right? Well, Double Fine, the makers of The Cave, made sure right off the bat that you'll have to wear your critical thinking hats in order to get anywhere in this game. The puzzles are pretty straight forward, and even after being stuck on one, once you figure it out and have that "Aha!" moment, you'll sit back and wonder why the hell you were stuck in the first place.
I got through the first couple of puzzles no problem. By no problem I mean I got pretty frustrated at times, but eventually figured out where to go and what to do. But then I came to a puzzle that completely stumped me. I had a few objects and one last one to figure out, but nothing, and I mean nothing, was obvious about what to do.
So I paused the game, brought up the internet browser and looked up guides for the game. Well, apparently everyone is still playing the game as I couldn't find a single guide anywhere on the internet.
Thankfully, Nintendo built in a solution to this problem when they designed the Wii U. Welcome, to Miiverse.
Miiverse is basically a huge collection of message boards for all things Wii U, that you can access whenever you want (middle of the game, browsing the menu, whatever). Miiverse was built and designed for people to connect with other people, talk about games and in this case, to help out others when the going gets tough.
I opened up Miiverse, it went right to The Cave forum, and I started to scroll through. I could have posted my question, along with a screen shot of exactly where I was, to the forum and waited for replies, but instead, I just scrolled through looking at all the others posting questions. Low and behold, I found someone stuck on the exact part I was. I opened the thread, scrolled through the responses, and BAM! - I was back on my way through The Cave. First, though, I did my due diligence and answered a few questions from people stuck in rooms I completed, as a "thank you" to the community. It was actually funny to see some people stuck on puzzles I thought were a breeze, and other people like me stuck on puzzles that others found easy. Goes to show how different everyone's minds work.
I took a break from the game to write this blog, but I'm excited to get back to it. I still have Far Cry 3 looming over head, waiting to be finished, but I think I found something to pick up and play when killing pirates and hunting tigers gets too much.
Oh, and thank you Miiverse. I look forward to interacting with you again soon. If only you offered a trophy system to brag about my accomplishments in games. *sigh*
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Games played for project : 365