Adult Swim Games publishes some really rad games. Let's get that out there in the open right away, because honestly, it's true. I wrote the other night about how their marketing strategy got me to pick up and play Super House of Dead Ninjas, and how awesome that game is.
Well, after my great experience with that game, I looked into other games they had out. I already have Robot Unicorn Attack 2 on my iPad, which I will eventually play for this blog project eventually I'm sure. But there is another game in their catalog, one that is a free flash game, but also available on Steam for a few bucks also.
I am, of course, referring to Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe.
The Deluxe version on Steam comes packed with bonus content, allegedly, making it worth your while to pick it up. I think they added a few different modes to it, but honestly, I don't know 100% because I jumped right into the paid Deluxe version.
I could probably Google it, but that would eventually lead to a Google vortex of searching, and I'm already distracted enough as it is.
ANYWAY, this game is fantastic. It is a platforming game where you control the caped hero, using his weapon that upgrades automatically as you level up, blasting falling blocks in what looks like a game of Tetris. Blasting individual blocks nets you a few measly points, but once you let the colors start matching up and making bigger sequences of blocks, the point totals skyrocket. Various obstacles fall as well, from spikes, to cannons, explosives and various other things meant to ruin your day. Every time you're hit, you level down, and once you're at the bottom tier, the next hit will be your last.
The levels never end, either, meaning it will continue as long as you can. And sometimes those make for the best types of games, challenging you to keep on going until you finally meet your demise. Of course there are high score leaderboards as well, giving you all the more reason to keep on playing, improving on your score each time.
The game isn't super aesthetic, but the simplistic, 16-bit style graphics work for this type of game play. This looks and feels like the type of game I could find in an old school arcade, and one that I would probably dump way too many quarters into. And that, my friends, is what I constitute as a good game.
Kudos to Adult Swim Games for publishing some awesome games. Who knew?
Inversion is a game I've had on my radar for a couple months now, but never got around to trying it out. It came to me via a recommendation from a wonderful reader (whom I completely forgot who it was at this point, which I apologize for, sincerely), who said that while it isn't the best game, it's a fun one to play nonetheless.
I'm always down for a fun gaming experience, regardless of how "good" the game is or what the critics scored it as when it was released. Fun is fun, regardless of the review score attached to it.
The game is a third-person shooter, but it was billed as having "a twist" to it that hadn't been seen in any shooter like it before. The twist, of course, is the gravity physics within the game, as you are given the ability to control gravity both directions. This means you can eliminate gravity in front of you, raising up objects in your path, which gives you the opportunity to "lasso" them and essentially take control of the floating object and fling it as a projectile weapon. You can also add gravity to a situation, pulling down things to crash in front of you.
The idea of using these game play mechanics in battle as well as to solve problems is interesting and an intriguing concept, but it's just not executed very well. It's hard to fully control what you are tying to pull off, and it's never exactly clear what you can use the gravity tools on or when you should consider doing so. You do get actual weapons as well, which look and feel like guns from the Gears of War series.
Actually, that was this game reminds me of a lot, is Gears of War. It relies heavily on cover-based combat, ducking and diving behind barriers and walls. The enemies even slightly remind me of ones you might find in GoW. It's honestly like they took the entire concept of GoW, tried to make it as similar as possible due to it's overall success, and then threw in the gravity mechanic to mix it up a bit and make it its own game. Unfortunately, it just never feels as fun as it should be. It's great in concept, but the execution isn't perfect. It's still fun for what it does, though, overall.
Granted, I also feel like this game is built 100% to be played with a buddy, not the semi-crappy AI partner.
But hey, when you don't like playing games with other people, online or otherwise, sometimes you have to settle for mediocre single player experiences. I have grown used to that over the years, and I try not to hold that against any game that really does try to encourage social gaming experiences.
Looking at the scores this game got, they were all pretty average, at least from the professional reviewers stance. The general public seemed to like it a lot more, oddly enough, probably because most people have no problem just enjoying games instead of always being critical and cynical. But that always has been the difference between writing about games for a profession and playing them for fun.
Oh, and by the way - if whoever recommended this game to me is reading this now, please let me know. I want to at least give you credit for inspiring this blog post.
OK, readers, here's the deal. I played this game called But That Was [Yesterday].
I played it based on recommendation from my Platform Junkies podcast co-hosts Tanner and Ben. We have decided that next week we will completely delve into this game, talk about it at length and basically do a spoilercast for a free, 15 minute, Flash, browser-based game.
Why? Because this is more than a game, it's an experience. It's something everyone should take a few minutes to play, just to see what you think about it; to discover what it means to you, if anything.
I could explain it to you, but I won't. I really want you to play it. Seriously. Here is a link.
Even if you don't like the game itself, there is something for everyone to take away from this gaming experience. Just play it, think about it and reflect. Just reflect. It's good for the soul, I swear.
You can thank me later.
I'm a sucker. I can be talked in to anything, as long as the seller takes the right angle with me. Normally, I can be pretty hard-headed, stubborn and stuck in my ways.But if the right sales pitch comes around, i'll bite quicker than a starving great white shark at a water park. Today, it happened again.
My good buddy Chris (@HolyHeadShot) from Everyday Gamers, randomly suggested to me via twitter Super House of Dead Ninjas to play for this blog. Now, knew he had played this before and thought very fondly of the game, but despite all that, when he suggested it, I put it in my bank of "sure, I'll get around to picking it up, but for now, I have too much to play," where I have PLENTY of games stored. And then the sales pitch happened.
No, it didn't come from Chris. But after he tweeted about it, the twitter feed for Adult Swim Games replied to us both, reminding us that it was half price TODAY and TODAY ONLY to buy the game via Steam, and then signed off with one of the phrases I use more than I should: "JUST SAYING." Great, the actual publisher is now tweeting at me, backing up suggestions from friends of which games to play, reminding me the game is on sale, and then finishing with my own catch phrase? You won, Adult Swim Games. Good game.
So naturally, after I realized they had won the battle I didn't even know had started, I tweeted back to them saying I was going to buy, play and write about Super House of Dead Ninjas for my blog. And I also told them that, I too, was "JUST SAYING." They immediately Favorited by post, all but signing the other half of the contract I typed in blood.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not getting anything for doing this. I bought the game legitimately and am writing about it on my own accord, with no influence from the outside, no $20 handshakes and no pressure. I say all that because this game rocks. And I didn't want to seem biased when I stated that.
It's a 16-bit art styles, with sprites and everything, and it looks like something I would have played as a kid on my Super Nintendo, for sure. The controls are tight, the game play is fun and it has dead ninjas in it, for crying out loud. There isn't anything about this game that wouldn't make it awesome.
Sure, it seems like it could be pretty short, and the boss battles feel like weak version of Dr. Willy's robots from the Mega Man games, but that's not a bad thing, it's just a thing. Look, the game is fun. It brings me back with the retro-feel of it, and while it's a ninja game, it's not based on stealth, but rather speed and accuracy. This is great, because honestly, I can't handle another stealthy ninja game. If Ninja Gaiden was fun and not the hardest thing in the world, that would be this game.
So yeah, I liked it. And I got talked into buying it by the publisher directly. Because I'm a sucker. A sucker for great sales tactics, a sucker for twitter love and a sucker for retro-looking games. Deal with it.
Last week I bought myself an iPad. It's something I have thought about doing for a while now, but never pulled the trigger on. Well, after saving up $200 in Best Buy reward zone gift certificates, I figured the time was right. Plus, with the all the podcasts and other projects I'm currently involved in, I justified getting it to help out with with everything I'm doing in further establishing my brand in this crazy space known as the Internet.
Also, I'm a tech nerd and love having as many gadgets and toys as possible. I work hard, and I like to play hard. I'm also a gamer, in case you couldn't tell, and why not add another gaming device to my repertoire of systems to play games on? If there is anything this particular blog and project need, it's diversity, right?
So tonight, I'll write about playing a game on my iPad for the first time in this Year of Gaming that I have embarked on. Granted, this isn't the first game I've played on my iPad (Candy Crush may end up being the death of me), but it is the best looking game I've tried out on it thus far. I'm talking about Dead Trigger, and while I think it is usually $.99 in the App Store, it just happened to be free today when I randomly stumbled upon it this morning while browsing. If all awesome games like this were free, my wallet would be really happy by the end of the year, that's for sure.
And yes, this is an awesome game. Well, for the most part that is. The graphics are absolutely stunning, especially on the new retina display of the iPad. Seriously, it's hard to remember that this is an iPad game while playing it, because it looks like it could easily be a console game. There is lighting and shading effects, great textures and rendering - pretty much everything you would expect for a retail game. The zombies themselves look fantastic and realistic as well, except for those glowing eyes of theirs. Unless of course real zombies have glowing yellow eyes, in which case, they nailed it.
Depth wise, it's pretty shallow and not much to it. Just go level to level, mowing down all zombies in your path until you reach the end or the hoard stops coming at you, using a wide variety of weapons that you can upgrade as you so choose. Some levels are move from point A to point B type of game play, and others are defend your position type, allowing you to set up turrets to assist. The zombies move pretty quickly and efficiently, and remind me a lot of the House of the Dead games in that aspect. Only a few good seconds to get clean shots off, so you better use your time wisely.
One major thing that did bug me - and this might be because I'm not used to gaming on an iPad - is the controls, or lack thereof. It's a FPS, so the left "joystick" on the screen moves you forward and backwards, and the right "joystick" swivels your point of view. But you also have the trigger and zoom-in and reload buttons on the right side as well, which makes looking around and shooting at the same time quite tricky. I've seen those arcade cabinets and peripherals that you can drop your iPad in to in order to add true joysticks to your gaming experiences. A game like this really makes me interested in one of those, to be totally honest.
Dead Trigger really made me appreciate what the iPad is capable of, and I look forward to finding more diamonds in the rough like this one. But honestly, as much fun as I had with it, all it ultimately did was make me want to play some console games, if only for the controllers.
As I alluded to on last night's blog, today I sat down and spent some quality time with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, for the Nintendo 3DS of course. I realize that I wrote about this game - albeit the Wii version - yesterday, but I wanted to finish this Week Of... Donkey Kong as strong as possible. With all the DK games I either didn't want to play or couldn't play, this newest addition to the franchise was the obvious choice to end my week.
Besides, if I wrote about Donkey Kong Country Returns, I just had to write about the superior version of the game, right?
That's right. As great and awesome as the original game was, this version for the 3DS is the epitome of Donkey Kong games. Not only does it take the the amazing game that graced the Wii a few years back, but it adds a few different things to make this version even more enjoyable and easier to embrace by the masses.
Most noticeably, they made the game a little easier. Everyone complained about the first version and how hard it was, so Nintendo did something about it, and allows the player to chose the regular mode, or the "new" mode before you start a save file. The new mode adds an extra heart to your life bar, allowing a little bit more leniency to your romp through the jungle.
Also, the 3D effects in the game are remarkable. The backgrounds and environments are already vibrant, lively and exciting, but coupled with the 3D technology of the Little System That Could, they look even that much more amazing. There is a slight hangup when using the 3D, which most games encounter at some point or another, where you have to manage to keep the screen in the "sweet spot" in order to maintain the effects properly without distorting the game at all. It can get very frustrating at times, especially if you are notoriously lazy with your hand placement, but remember, the 3D effects are an option. You can always turn the slider bar all the way down and call it good, and the details will still be as good as ever.
So that's that, my week of Donkey Kong has completed. I have taken a few things away from this week, as I hoped I would. For one, Donkey Kong is an iconic figurehead in the Nintendo universe, but it took a while to actually establish him as an icon. Nintendo has also made a few mistakes with the big ape over the years, mainly when they kept swapping him out for other characters, and then when they thought that banging on fake drums was the right choice of direction to move the franchise towards. With the latest two games, however, it gives me hope that Nintendo may have learned from the past and know how to keep Donkey Kong in the hearts and on the minds of gamers everywhere. If anything, they at least proved that creating a character to lead a franchise isn't that hard, but that's only if it's done right. Good luck, Nintendo. You will need it, I'm sure.
So as this week of Donkey Kong is quickly coming to a close, I've realized something. There are a lot - and I mean a LOT - of Donkey Kong games that I don't want to play. Not just for this blog, but I mean, ever. And strangely enough, they are all the ones that involved banging on conga drums. Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast are all games that you will not see me playing for this blog, or anywhere else for that matter. (DKBB actually used simulated conga drums, but still, the concept is the same.)
In reality, when these games started coming out after the Donkey Kong 64 game, I completely lost interest in Donkey Kong as a franchise. Sure, I still played as him in Smash Bros. games, but as far as his own games? Call me disinterested.
Now, there was also Diddy Kong Racing, but as much as I would like to consider it part of this franchise, I'm having a hard time qualifying it. So with that, let's talk about the game that brought me, and most likely everyone else who knew how great Donkey Kong Country was, back to the franchise with excitement and appreciation. I played Donkey Kong Country Returns, and I loved it.
It came out on the Wii a few years ago, and when it did, it caught everyone by surprise. I remember when it was first announced at the big E3 press conference; the lights went dark, the video started playing and then the familiar Donkey Kong music kicked on. The crowd went crazy, and the footage started showing the beautiful worlds that they were developing, showing off just how far the series had come but how nostalgic it could feel at the same time. Real love and appreciation went into every detail of this game, and it is one of a handful of games for the Wii that truly show off how powerful, captivating and beautiful games on the system can be.
Playing this game all over again made me realize how amazing some of the level designs really are. The backgrounds and detail in the environments are breathtaking at times (more often than not, to be honest), but my personal favorite without question is the silhouette level, where the sun is setting and the only details you can see of your primate characters are their silhouettes. Well, the silhouettes and the bright red tie and baseball cap.
Another thing I have to talk about is something that I didn't forget, but was still caught off guard by it tonight, and that's how amazingly hard this game is at times. And by "at times," I mean "most of the time," especially when you are trying to get everything in each level. The developers didn't hold back at all when making this game challenging, and that's one of the most endearing aspects of it. Without it's ridiculous difficulty, it would be just another beautiful platformer. Sure, a lot of people complained that it was too hard, but to me, it was never unbeatable, despite how many attempts some levels took. But that just added gameplay and replay value to me, which I didn't mind because of how gorgeous and fun it was, and still is.
If there is one Donkey Kong game to show off as the crown jewel of the series, this game might be it. Although, it's not entirely perfect. It is missing something, I just can't put my finger on it...
Look, here is a quick peak behind the curtains. I wanted to play Donkey Kong 64 for this week of Donkey Kong, and if I was able to, tonight would have been the night. Unfortunately, I don't have the game, and since it is the only Donkey Kong game not to be on the Wii Virtual Console, I'm kind of out of luck.
Some things are just out of my control. Fortunately, for whatever goes wrong while i'm not in control, I always have back up plans. Always. Tonight was no different at all.
Besides, I kind of teased playing this game on last night's blog, so I guess I owed it to you all to follow up on that tease, right? Either way, it is what it is, and all you have to know is tonight, I played Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble.
Now, this isn't a bad game by any means. It is a formidable game, developed on the same engine as the last two. Only this time, it doesn't feature either one of our now familiar characters, instead using the sidekick from the previous game (Dixie) and a baby. Oddly enough, it plays almost identical to DKC2, which is a good thing for the game. The bad thing for this game, and why it isn't remembered fondly, is because people forgot it existed. They do now, and even worse, they did when it was released.
You see, DKC3 suffered from the unfortunate timing mishap of being released for the Super Nintendo after the new, hot, exciting console known as the Nintendo 64 was released. Sure, there were still people that picked up this game because they hadn't bought into the N64 yet, but the sales numbers are quite clear that they lost sales, most likely because it came out on a last-gen system. If N64 had been backwards compatible, this wouldn't have been a problem I'm sure, but we all are aware of the lack of interest in that feature that the big console companies have currently, and obviously back then as well.
The game is fun, don't get me wrong. It feels like the last two. For some reason, however, playing as these two characters just don't do it for me. They didn't back when I was kid, and they still don't tonight. I would much rather play as Donkey and Diddy Kong than what this game offers. Maybe they were trying to target an unreached market? I don't know if that's the reason for the decision, or if it was strictly to keep the franchise fresh, but either way, I had already invested in the previous characters, and wasn't ready to move on from them.
The original Donkey Kong Country was a classic game. I established that in the last blog. It was revolutionary for the genre, the franchise and the character of Donkey Kong. But also, it established his partner-in-crime more soundly, that being Diddy Kong.
In the original arcade games, there was a character named Donkey Kong Junior, but somehow, when the "Country" trilogy was created, Junior vanished from memory and was replaced on screen by Diddy Kong, mysteriously.
For whatever reason, the first Donkey Kong Country game established Diddy Kong as a formidable character himself, although in the first game, he was just a secondary helper character. He was basically the Luigi to Donkey Kong's Mario for as long as Luigi had been around. But much like Luigi eventually got his own game (Luigi's mansion on the GameCube), Diddy was granted his own adventure to set himself apart from his secondary role. Unlike Luigi, however, his coming out party came much sooner into the franchise than the brother of Mario had to wait.
In this game, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, the little monkey is put in charge of rescuing Donkey Kong, naturally. He isn't alone, however, as he is partnered up with Dixie Kong, who plays the role that Diddy had played in the previous game. The game itself plays much like the first version, with a few minor tweaks to pretty much perfect the wheel, as they say. The graphics are phenomenal, as the colors pop and the backgrounds are lively. It's almost hard to tell this is a SNES game at some points.
They did something very creative too, which I hadn't remember until I popped it in this evening. The game picks up on the same pirate ship from the final battle scene of the first game, which is an awesome tip of the cap to those who enjoyed the first game. Sure, to everyone new to the series with 2, this didn't mean a thing to them. But for everyone who fondly remembers the final battle because they beat it over and over again, this was the perfect way to start the second game. It was clever, not forced and to this day, not done often enough in gaming. That's the sad truth.
This game is awesome. I forgot how much I loved this game, mainly because of the nostalgia of the first one. But this is literally the Mario Galaxy 2 to the first one. It's far superior in every way, but because of the impact the first of these games had, the sequels are cherished but often overlooked.
Unfortunately, unlike the Galaxy series(so far), the Donkey Kong Country series became a trilogy. The third one wasn't necessarily a bad game, but it suffered from another setback that developers hate. But more on that tomorrow night...
Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo is truly the game that put Donkey Kong on the map in the hearts and minds of gamers across the board, especially those who were too young at the time to have played the arcade games before that. Also, this title made the distinction of finally putting the big ape in the forefront of the game and establishing him as not only a legit character in the Nintendo universe, but as a mascot for the company as well.
This still remains true today, as he has become iconic and one of the most recognizable faces of any franchise in gaming. And all because he just wanted to get his banana hoard back.
DKC is the first game in the series that is a true platformer, side-scrolling and all. Compared to the previous games in the series before hand, this is the biggest jump in change of direction the series will ever face. If I had to quantify it, I would compare it a lot to the innovative style of Mario 64 compared to the previous Mario games. It was that groundbreaking.
Before I owned my own SNES, I had to play it over at my cousin's house. When he got DKC, we sank countless of hours into it, especially on the nights when I would sleep over at his house. We beat the game backwards and forwards, learning where each and every secret was and how to collect everything possible. We knew that game.
Several months after its release, our local Blockbuster store had a promotion they were doing for Donkey Kong Country, where they hosted local tournaments for the game. It was touted as a "competitive, tournament" version of the game, where there was just the first level to play, but slightly redesigned. The goal was simple, or so I thought: to score as many points as possible on one single run, with the highest scores being posted for all to see. I signed up, of course, but I used my cousin's name. Why, you ask? Well, there is a good reason for it, I assure you that.
You see, they didn't tell you ahead of time what was so different about this special version of the game, or how you went about scoring points. So I signed up as my cousin so I could do a play-through without any pressure or worry of failing, just to see what it was all about. It's a good thing I did, too, because I was totally caught off guard by the game. The level was filled with bananas, and you scored points by collecting bananas, hard to reach balloons and getting as far as possible into the level in the given time, which I think was a minute. The level itself was practically unchanged, except for the fact that all the secret routes and hideouts were closed off, which meant if you were like me and thought it was a good idea to go after those, you simply wasted precious seconds. Oh, and the one special barrel you have to fall into a pit to find? Yeah, that was gone. And guess what happened when you died? Your run was over.
So with that, I came back the following weekend, signed up as myself, and rocked that game like I knew what I was doing. Because I did. I ended up getting second place for the whole store, which ultimately meant nothing, but it was cool seeing my name up on the big leader board.
As weird as it sounds, Donkey Kong Country was my first official attempt at competitive gaming. And I kind of, sort of, cheated. I don't feel great about it, but I don't feel horrible at all, considering I didn't get rewarded anyway.
Tonight, playing Donkey Kong Country reminded me of all those nights spent perfecting the game, and while I couldn't sit down and write down all the secrets, once I start playing it it's like I have been playing nonstop for years. That's a fun feeling, too. If only I could get some sort of award for still being awesome. Oh well, this blog will have to do.
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Games played for project : 365