As some of you may know, my 3DS has been hijacked for the last few weeks. I haven't actually had it my possession, as I accidentally introduced Animal Crossing to a friend who promptly asked to borrow it, and between that and StreetPassing for me, she has kept it busy for me. Thankfully, I've had more than enough games to play, both on my consoles and other portable devices, so I haven't exactly missed my 3DS.
Sure, I would have enjoyed checking in on my town in Animal Crossing, playing some of those awesome, new StreetPass games or any number of the other games I've yet to finish over the last couple of weeks, but honestly, if someone is enjoying it, having fun with it and putting more time into it than I would have, then I can't complain at all.
There has been a game that I have a heard a lot of good things about, however, that I've desperately wanted to try out. So when I saw my opportunity to snag my 3DS for a second, I quickly jumped into the Nintendo eShop and downloaded SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt, a quirky little game that has received tons of critical acclaim yet very little hype. But with a few bucks in my online wallet, and the game only being $8 anyway, it was a no-brainer. Maybe it was just my craving to play my 3DS coming through, but regardless, I did what I did, and that's that.
And I don't regret it at all.
The game itself is pretty straight forward. You're a robot placed in an old west setting, and you're job is to dig. You drop down into the mine and dig, just as you would in Minecraft or Terraria. It is a 2D platformer type of game, but the path you dig and explore the underground is entirely up to you. As you go along, you collect different types of minerals, precious metals and gemstones, which you have to take back to the surface and sell. The money you collect has both monetary value and the equivalent of XP, where you level up with every dollar you dig up. (Ha! See what I did there? Sorry, just a little digging humor.)
The more money you collect and levels you reach as a character, the more equipment you unlock and can purchase. You start out with just a basic pick axe, which takes several swings just to break through the basic dirt squares, but as you upgrade your arsenal, you are able to break through all different kinds of stone quicker and more efficiently, thus making your trip through the underground less tedious as you go along. As you dig, you will run into different caves and secret mine shaft entrances, as well as enemies, traps and hollowed out caverns. You can also find upgrade stations along the way, which give you a different new ability with each one you find, such as the ability to sprint or steam-powered jumps.
For a 3DS game, it feels like it has more depth (Ha!) then you would imagine, which is a great thing. It's one of those games where you keep saying, "just a few more minutes, another level down, and then I'll be done." And you just keep on playing. The 3D effects are fine, and add more to the background and environment than the gameplay, which is a lot better than hard-to-look-at 3D. I have thoroughly enjoyed the game for the couple of hours I have played it, and can't wait to play it again.
That is, if I get to to before the new Pokemon game comes out. At that point, I might need my 3DS back then.
Today, I put a lot of time into my 3DS. Not for any particular reason, but mainly because it was handy and I was thoroughly enjoying the games I was playing on it. For the most part, I played a ton of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. But in between gaming sessions, I tried to mix it up a bit, and because I have a blog to write, I figured I might as well play a game I hadn't wrote about for the project.
Thus, I ended up playing Pushmo, a cute little downloadable title from the eShop. I downloaded this game when it first came out, and played a lot of it back then, but haven't really touched it in quite some time. To my surprise, when I went to play it today, I realized that somehow my save file never got transferred when I did my original 3DS to XL swap-over. What a bummer that was, but ultimately, it just meant that I had to start the game over and play through all the super-easy, yet fun beginning puzzles. But, it also meant that I was forced to sit through all the tutorials that went along with them. Every rose has a thorn, or so they say.
Anyway, I love this game. This is one of the best uses of 3D effects on the 3DS to date, the puzzles eventually become super challenging but never throw-down-the-3DS type of challenging, and the aesthetics and charm just oozes from this game like you wouldn't believe.
The best puzzles to play are the Nintendo themed ones, but unfortunately I didn't get that far into the game. Knowing that I have to recoup all my lost progress, I can foresee myself spending some more time with this little charmer of a game while I am on vacation, especially during travel.
That is, if I put Animal Crossing down long enough to play anything else.
Yoshi, the classic NES game, became available once again on the Nintendo eShop, this time for the Wii U. Once again, Nintendo introduced one of its all time classics and fan-favorites to the fan base at the staggering low, low price of $0.30! That's right, for less than a quarter and a dime, you too can add this classic game to your e-library!
But is it really a classic, or a fan favorite?
I seem to remember really enjoying this game as a kid. Like, REALLY enjoying it. I remember playing it for hours, always trying to best my previous high score. Mario's enemies dropping from the sky, you switching platforms around to catch them in strategic placement. Seemed like a blast at the time.
Well, then I played this game again, and realized some things are better left in the past.
The game is boring, slow, methodical, uninteresting and uninspired. No matter how strategic you try to be, it's based on sheer luck for the most part, leaving you helpless and left for dead more often than not. It was hard to play this game for any amount of time, to be honest, so it was nice I could play it on my GamePad while still watching a movie. That's the only way to enjoy it - to not pay attention to it.
Thankfully, this game was only thirty cents. Still, a part of me thinks it wasn't worth it to ruin a perfectly good childhood memory.
Puzzle games are perfect for the 3DS, and any handheld gaming system for that matter. Sure, they work decently on consoles, but most true puzzle games focus more on making the puzzles challenging and fun than then they do on a storyline, graphics or additional features. It's just the nature of the beast an the main backbone for the genre as a whole.
This was all true up until Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move was released on the 3DS this week in the eShop.
And I am happy to report that the tried and true formula remains consistent throughout this game as well.
For those of you who played the original BioShock and hacked anything in the game (honestly, is it possible to play the game at all without hacking something?), you will be very familiar with the type of puzzles in this game. Mario is poking his head out of a warp pipe, and his only goal in life is to get to the star on the other side of a block obstacle coarse. There are missing blocks along this path, and you have to fill them in with blocks that fall off to the right in another warp pipe, by dragging the correct ones into place. Trick is, they have to have the correct direction of path on the block you place in order for Mario to continue his journey.
A poorly placed block or too much hesitation in your decision making process will lead to Mario's demise. And that, my friends, is a bad thing. Unless your sadomasochistic, or just really hate Mario.
Don't worry, though. The game isn't too hard right off the bat. The first world has 10 stages in it, and at the start of each level, they introduce a new ability, challenge or gameplay mechanic to the mix. It feels daunting to remember each one as they keep piling up it seems, but honestly, I would rather ease into the cold pool than jump in all at once. That might just be me, though.
So the pipe mechanic from BioShock... I know most people hated it, and that's why I brought it up. While this has more to it than just fitting pipes together, it's essentially the same thing. So if you hated it, stay away from this game. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Of all the Mario/Donkey Kong games in the series (this is officially the fourth), this might be the funnest. Well, to me it is, because I absolutely loved the pipe game mechanic. Oh, and I love Mario, and the whole universe he comes from. I guess I am slightly biased when it comes to things of this nature, but hey - Mario can do no wrong in my book.
When I upgraded to my new, beautiful Nintendo 3DS Xl a couple weeks back, I also got a pretty cool reward for doing so. You see, Nintendo, the company that loves its customers, started a promotion that if you register your new 3DS or XL on their Club Nintendo website, along with either Luigi's mansion of Pokemon Rumble Blast as well, you would receive a free download voucher for one of a handful of games from the eShop.
I'm not talking about the little titles, but rather full retail games, just in a downloadable version. The game I selected, based on what games I already had and what games actually interested me, was Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.
This weekend has been completely inundated with BioShock Infinite, but we did head over to the in-laws for dinner this afternoon, meaning it was portable handheld gaming time. Usually I bring along my Vita, but because I am no longer on my 3DS protest, I brought my XL instead. I played some more of Luigi's Mansion, which is getting better with every level I get to, but I also fired up Professor Layton for the first time.
I've played a Layton game before, and I really enjoyed it because of it's puzzles. Today, I rediscovered my love for the game's puzzles - and that's about it. Sure, it looks beautiful. The characters and charming and engaging. But honestly, I just couldn't get into the story at all. I tried and tried, and maybe it seemed drawn out and lengthy because it was the start of the game, but I found myself skipping through the text dialogue just to get to the game play.
In Layton, the puzzles pop up as you encounter characters in the game. The puzzles range in difficulty, but they are all challenging and force you to actually think, even the easiest ones. I got through several puzzles today in my play time, which were very satisfying. I wish I could tell you what the actual story was about, but I can't I think it might have something to do with a Miracle Mask ... but that's just a shot in the dark.
In short, I kind of just wish they would make a Professor Layton game of just puzzles. Market it as a daily brain trainer or something like that, and I would bite hard on that (since my Smart As... game didn't hold my interest as long as I hoped it would).
The Professor Layton games are wonderfully perfect for gaming on the go. Especially when you can't stop thinking about the BioShock Infinite storyline. Now THAT'S a puzzle!
Do you remember how I claimed this blog project was almost a direct result of my gaming ADD, my short attention span and my uncanny ability to be distracted with whatever is new and shiny, often leaving me playing several games at once, multiple games a day? Well, tonight is proof in the pudding of how bad it is sometimes.
Tonight, I have every single intention to play and write about Lego City Undercover for the Wii U, which I just picked up yesterday. Finally, a new game that isn't a port on the Wii U, and not an eShop title either! I was super excited just to buy the game, much less finally play it.
So when I got home tonight, I turned on the PS3 first, mainly because I wanted to get some God of War Ascension in before diving in to Lego City Undercover, since I was going to be writing about the latter. Well, turns out there was a system update that needed to happen (shocking, I know) before playing anything, so I went ahead and started that dubious process. I turned on the Wii U, popped in the disc and grabbed my Vita in anticipation of long load screens, figuring I could get my daily challenge on Smart As... done for the day while waiting.
Before jumping right into the game, however, I wanted to browse the eShop real quick, just to see what came out today. Low and behold, Zen Pinball 2 was finally released, and Punch-Out!!, the old NES version, was added to the Virtual Console for the promo price of a mere thirty cents! So I started the downloading process for those two games, while mastering the Smart As... daily challenges. Then I realized that my PS3 was finally done updating its own system, so I fired up God of War, because well, that was my original plan anyway.
I played a couple hours of that, and finally got to a point where I felt good about stopping for the evening. I picked up the Wii U GamePad, checked my finalized downloads, installed them, and then made the mistake of opening up Punch-Out!!. That was a mistake, you see, because I LOVE Punch-Out!!, and could play that game any time, for whatever reason. A long while later, I realized that I still needed to write this blog, and well, here we are.
Punch-Out!! will always have a special place in my heart. It was one of the first games that I remember, along with the Mega Man games, that I played that used the code system to essentially save your progress. It gave you a code every so often to allow you to pick up at a certain point next time you played so you wouldn't have to replay all the fights you already dominated in. A simple system that is ridiculous in this age of technology, where a simple Google search would produce every code I wanted for it. But back then, it was a life saver and a time saver, and prevented the loveable Glass Joe from being destroyed over and over again.
Another thing I will always remember is how this game forced you into pattern memorization like no other, as that was the only key to victory, along with quick reaction times. For anyone that says video games rot your brain, give Punch-Out!! and try and then tell me your brain feels like mush, because mine feels amazing afterwards (unlike a real boxer's brain after a fight, but that's a different topic for another time, I'm afraid). Once you figured out the pattern of each fighter's offense and defense, you could easily reign down on them with a fury of punches. Up until the last couple of fights, that theory holds true, but after that, it's not only muscle/pattern memory, but quick reaction times. If you weren't dead on with your punch timing, there was no chance for victory. Especially when fighting Mike Tyson.
Speaking of Tyson, that is the version I had as a kid. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!. I didn't even realize a second version, featuring the fictional Mr. Dream ever existed until much later in my life. Of course, that second version is the only version that Nintendo is still allowed to liscence and redistribute, so that's what I was playing tonight. Mr. Dream is still as hard as Mike Tyson was, but for some reason, he just isn't as intimidating as Tyson was. I realize it's only a game, but man, Tyson was the Baddest Man on the Planet for a reason, and just his likeness in that game sent chills down the spines of kids everywhere. Again, though, Mr. Dream is still as hard, and even tonight I couldn't beat him. I gave it all I could, but let's be real here - I'm older now then I was back then, and my reflexes just aren't what they used to be, despite all the practice I got with the God of War Quick Time Events recently. Also, fatigue and distractions played a good part in it as well.
So yeah, I have ADD. Bad. Tonight was the perfect example of that. But at least I got to play one of my all-time favorite games, and probably my third-favorite sports game ever. There are a couple more Punch-Out!! games to play this year, so look forward to that. Unless I get distracted in the mean time, of course.
Let's cut to the chase here real quick. BIT.TRIP presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is the first to actually have a title long enough to force it into two lines of the title block of text. And as is par for the course, the longer and goofier the name, the more interesting, unusual, unique and awesome the game usually is. I say "usually" to prevent any angry emails about games with ridiculously long titles that simply had more letters in it than it did good parts of the game.
Anyway, now that we got that out of the way...
I wasn't originally planning on playing this game. To be totally honest, this game wasn't even on my radar until today. It got some amazing reviews, and while I haven't gotten into the BIT.TRIP series before, I figured this game was going to be an awesome starting point. When I say "figured," what I really mean is "really, really hope." Either way, however, I was not dissapointed in the least. Runner 2 is slated to come out on PS3 next week, my console of choice because of trophies, but I saw it on the Wii U today, and since there isn't any actual retail games on the Wii U anywhere in sight, I feel like I'm pulling the trigger more care-free on these eShop games. I haven't made a regrettable decision yet, so that's a plus.
I was playing another game tonight, which I originally planned on writing about, buy because of the depth of it and how much I was enjoying it, I want to soak a little more in before I give my impressions on it. So be ready for that! That's what we in the industry call a "teaser" my friends.
Anyway, Runner 2 ... where to even begin? Well, for starters, this might be one of the only games I've played for this stupid blog thus far that my beautiful, yet non-gaming better half, has actually watched me play for an extended period of time. Granted, she was waiting for a cake to finish baking for her work tomorrow, but still. I'll take any time I can get with her while playing games. And surprisingly, she was actually getting into it.
When I started it up, she gave me the "What in the hell are you playing?" look, that I normally get, especially with these little quirky downloadable titles. Once I started playing the first level, she made some remark about how "all I was doing was running and jumping." Yes, it was that simple. I knew the game got harder, but they at least gave me a couple levels right off the bat to get used to the idea of running without controlling the character, and jumping effectively over anything in my way and collecting piles of gold and red plus signs along the way. On the second level, when I completed it, I realized I had missed one measly pile of gold, thus prompting me to go back and play the level all over again. She questions why I was doing it, only realizing shortly thereafter that I have an OCD collecting problem in gaming. No way could I go on to the next level while leaving the previous level technically unfinished to the fullest extent.
By the fourth level, the difficulty started increasing. Sure, the levels got faster, more cluttered with bad guys and required more precise movements, but that's not the main factor for the game getting substantially harder. No, that happened because the game started to make you use more buttons and movements, like sliding, kicking walls and jumping off jump pads. It sounds stupid, and quite frankly, it is. Two buttons and two different joystick movements, and I was freaking out like I was trying to solve a calculus equation with an abacus. I can play a game like Halo and use every single button on the controller, then turn around and play a combo-heavy game like DmC on a different system with a different controller and obviously a totally different button scheme with no problems at all. But then I play a game where I don't even move the character forward, with four buttons to worry about, and it's a disaster.
Sure, the game is whizzing by at lightning speeds. Sure, absolutely exactly precise moves are the the key to victory, and the slightest mistake sends you crashing. Sure, the background, while gorgeous, is flat out distracting. But that's no excuse. I've been gaming for 25 years. I am better than this game makes me feel, damn it. At least, I think I am.
I guess I can also chalk it up to being extremely tired. But I kept playing and playing, despite having a hard time keeping my eyes open, as it was that addictive to obtain perfect runs through each level. Oh, and the sound. THE SOUND, PEOPLE! Every time you jump over an enemy or collect an item, another note to the soundtrack plays, giving you a full, amazing soundtrack for each perfect run you have. I even gave it shot with headphones, and the sound was breathtaking.
I just wish I could have enjoyed it more, as the frustration was growing with every crash.
Another conversation I had with my lady was about the fireballs, and how I needed to slide under the first one I came across instead of trying to jump over it. She recalled Bowser's fireballs and the bullet bills in the original Mario Bros. game being the same way, where there were always those ones that you couldn't quite tell to jump or duck, and usually, you got it wrong anyway. For someone not interested in gaming to pull that reference out ... wow, my heart was sent aflutter all over again.
Anyway, I have a long way to go in this game, and while I plan on making it, I'm just glad I have a protective shield on my Wii U GamePad, as I can only presume the game is going to get a lot, lot harder. But the harder it is, the more rewarding those perfect runs will be, I figure.
Again, when I say "I figure," what I'm really saying is "God I really hope so, for my own sanity's sake."
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Games played for project : 365