It is very rare that games successfully make the transition from mobile game (iOS, Android, etc.) over to consoles or handhelds, without being a straight cash grab. Sure, a lot of mobile games make their way to PC gaming, but to consoles or handheld consoles? Not very often at all. Angry Birds tried it, and ended up charging consumers 10 times the amount to play on their consoles. Like I said, cash grab.
When I saw Draw Slasher appear on the PS Vita as a downloadable title, I was wearing for this fact. Not to say it wasn't a good game and unworthy of gracing the beautiful screen of the Vita, because I worried it would be nothing more than an attempt for the developer to sucker in fans of the iOS game and charge them an exuberant amount more to play it on their Vitas.
So I didn't buy it originally. I waited, and ultimately forgot it existed. That is, until it popped up on a PSN sale, with the price being slashed for PS+ subscribers. At only a couple of bucks, which wasn't much more than the iOS version, I figured it was a worthy investment finally. Besides, I've wasted more money than that for the purpose of getting trophies before.
The thing is, it isn't exactly a waste of money. It's actually a really fun game, and because I have been desperate for something quick to play on my Vita for a while now, it more than justified its purchase. I will say this, however. The game is not without it's flaws, especially for being a port to a handheld console.
In order to kill all the enemies, you have slash the screen with your finger, summoning your ninja to slice whatever is in the path that you designated with your digit. Unfortunately, to make your character walk or run, you have to tap on the screen where you want him to go. This control scheme worked perfect for a touchscreen device with no buttons, like an iPhone, but hey, guess what? The Vita not only has buttons, but it has joysticks too! Why not utilize that little stick on the left side to make the ninja move, and eliminate the touch-to-move control configuration? I guess that was just too obvious of an idea.
Also, holding the Vita with one hand while you slash with the other works fine in small bursts (like Uncharted), but to do is exclusively ends up hurting your hand, as I found myself switching back and forth, trying different fingers and even laying it down eventually. It's not a huge deal for me, as I can adapt just fine, but it just gets tiresome after a while, which only strengthens the argument that games like these are best played in short bursts, not long, drawn-out play sessions.
But hey, at least I didn't pay 10 times the price of it to get it on my Vita. Damn you, Birds.
If you can believe it, I used to be big on XBLA titles back in the heyday. And by that, I mean just a couple of years ago. After I downloaded my first one (I don't remember what it was, but I was late to the party as far as downloading games was concerned), I went on a rampage, downloading anything and everything in sight.
Summer of Arcade games? All of them, without thinking twice. Somebody said to look out for a nifty looking game coming out soon? I would be first in the hypothetical line to grab it. Artsy, independent game getting lots of publicity or even flying under the radar? Count me in.
I still have this problem today, but less with XBLA games and more with PSN, Nintendo eShop and Steam games. But when it all started with my XBLA downloads, that is when I first played Sine Mora. I loved it back then, and enough to buy it again when it was released for the PS Vita. Having already played the game, I knew that the true platform for this title was on a handheld, and the Vita was the ideal situation thanks to it's amazing graphics.
So tonight, I played it. I actually haven't even touched it (that I remember) since I downloaded it, so it was super-enjoyable to dive back into this game on this beautiful portable gaming system. It is a side-scrolling shooter, with a twist. You don't have a health bar or anything typical to this genre, but instead, a timer that counts down for each stage or portions of stages. You can easily complete the stage in the given time, but every time you get hit, it knocks off a few seconds from your clock. So essentially, your timer is also your health meter at the same time, giving you added pressure to not only complete the level, but do it quickly and efficiently.
The story is hard to explain, as I'm not even sure I fully understand it, but it is best described as a very mature version of Star Fox. Seriously. Think of animal pilots, that are seriously from the wrong side of the tracks.
But like most games of this genre, you don't play it for the story. You play it for game play, and man, is it fun. It is intense, frantic and stressful, the controls are tight and the graphics are amazing. If you are any sort of fan of side scrolling shooters, this is a must-play.
Especially if you like bitter, crusty, foul-mouthed animal pilots.
So yesterday I played a game for a genre that I absolutely hated, for the mere reason of doing a buddy a solid and giving it a fair shake. After that experience, I am still on this side of the line of not like JRPGs.
Tonight, however, I tried out a different style of RPGs, this one falling into the category of "Action RPGs." This time, however, I didn't do it because I was asked to or felt pressure to, but because I've heard it talked about so much,I felt like I had to be apart of the conversation. I've contemplated buying it since it came out, but talked myself out of it on more than one occasion. I was told to play the demo before I even think about buying it, but for one, I'm not a demo kind of guy. Secondly, I heard the demo was horrible and didn't explain how to play the game at all. So that idea seemed like a lost cause, right off the bat.
So I did the next best thing, and rented it from Gamefly. I figured that if I really liked it, I could keep it as long as I liked and finish it. But if I didn't like it, I could send it back, no harm, no foul. I just want to see what the big deal is, especially because it seems to be a good game, but one that splits the room on whether or not its enjoyable to play. Games like that intrigue me.
When a game is universally labeled as "good," but people have valid arguments for if it is a fun game to play or an absolute nightmare, it's a fun case study on what makes games fun, and why a good game can still be not fun. I guess I just find certain things intriguing for odd and unusual reasons.
So I played Soul Sacrifice. I got through several levels, got the combat system down for the most part and figured out the convoluted sacrifice/saving system that builds up your character. Everything is relatively straight forward for the most part, despite the learning curve that naturally comes with any type of game that tries something new in game play mechanics. What didn't grab me, however, was the story. It bored me to tears. I understand you are essentially replaying past battles while imprisoned in your cage awaiting to be sacrificed, but there was a lot of mumbo jumbo going on within the pages of the book you read. I ended up skipping right through them after a while.
Did I like the game? I liked the idea of the game more than the game itself. It is fun, I can't argue that at all. The grinding, leveling up, loot collecting aspects are all fun. But the constant breaks between levels and the story just make it seem more like a chore than anything. I'll probably keep on playing though, just to give it more of a chance to grow on me. But right now, I am squarely on the fence between "liking it" and "hating it."
I'm the worse kind of test subject for case studies.
I admit, I have a biased opinion when it comes to certain games. It's built in and ingrained into my gaming DNA, and not matter what I do to change it or be more open minded, I just can't fight nature.
With racing games, I feel like they are all the same time and time again, and I equate my boredom with NASCAR to a contributing factor in my bias. Fighting games feel like they are made for people with stupid-ridiculous hand-eye coordination, and while the average gamer can have some fun playing them, only the elite will ever get good at them.
And then there are JRPGs. Oh, the one genre of games that I can't find interesting to save my life. With the exception of Ni No Kuni, I can't remember any JRPG ever exciting me and keeping my interest. I don't know if it is the art style, the language barrier, the themes or what, but JRPGs are usually the very last type of game I would ever want to play.
With that being said, this year long project is all about expanding my horizons, playing games I've never experienced before and over all celebrating all that is video games, whether I have preconceived biased opinions or not. If I just played games I liked this whole year, I wouldn't have very much context for comparison, thus eliminating a crucial aspect of accountability and credibility I hold so dear.
A friend of mine bought Persona 4 Golden a few months back, mainly because of his desire to have a lengthy game to sink dozens of hours into on his Vita. He muscled his way through it, and while he didn't Platinum it, he put enough quality hours into his first play through that he felt comfortable calling it done. With The Last of Us coming out today, he had planned on trading in Persona 4 Golden to help with the cost of the new game, but before he did that, he wanted me to at least try the game. He knew that unless he gave me the game himself to play, I would never take it upon myself to hunt it down and give it a shot.
Honestly, I don't know what his true motivation was for wanting me to play this game, because he knew better than anyone that I would hate it. Maybe he wanted to see if this game, the creme de la creme of handheld JRPGs apparently, could sway my biased opinion about the entire genre. This game did get incredible reviews, and I could understand his excitement in wanting to share that experience with me. But with me, of all people? Good try, James.
I played it. I gave it a decent shot, despite knowing ahead of time I would hate it. And honestly? It bored me to death. The characters did nothing for me, the storyline was non-existent in my mind, and the visual style did nothing for me at all. I didn't like how the game played, the combat system was adequate at best, and honestly, I just didn't see what all the hype was about.
I tried. Maybe I didn't go in unbiased, but I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And I didn't. All it did for me was make me want to play more Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
At least I got something good out of it, right?
Arcades are becoming a thing of the past. When I say arcades, I of course am talking about the old school type of arcades, with game cabinets lined up all over, quarters being the only currency used and the glow of machines being the guiding light through the establishment. Now days, "arcades" mean something different - with every game centering around winning tickets and no real skill being involved, but rather luck. Gone are the wall to wall arcade video game cabinets, replaced my gaudy monstrosities of "games."
The reason I bring this is up, is because whenever I find myself in a tried and true arcade, the first game I always hunt down - and I mean always - is Bust-A-Move. For you youngsters out there, Bust-A-Move is not a type of Dance Dance Revolution game or anything of that nature, so get that out of your head right now. No, Bust-A-Move is a bubble popping game, where you must shoot different colored bubbles at stacks of colored bubbles, matching up colors in order to create a bubble explosion. Once all the bubbles are gone, the level is over.
So again, every time I visit an arcade (which sadly isn't very often anymore), I hunt down a Bust-A-Move machine, if they have one. And let me tell you something, if they do, watch out! I will need to be dragged away from that machine, only after I dump a fistful of quarters into it. Over the years, I have probably spent more money on just that game than any other game I've bought EASILY, including DLC and season passes and all that. And that's just quarter by quarter, remember. Needless to say, I love those types of games for reasons I can't fully explain. It's just my thing.
Imagine my surprise when I downloaded a free game (thanks to PS Plus) on my Vita the other morning, only to just discover today that it is a bubble popping game! Talk about an unexpected but very, very great surprise.
Germinator isn't exactly your dad's bubble popping game, however. They introduce a new twist on the genre to set it apart from the rest. Instead of bubbles stacking up, when two of the same color come in contact, they merge into one big one. Add another one, it gets even larger. Add a fourth, and POP! This is all made possible by the fact that the bubbles are not bubbles at all, but rather germs. As if a game in this niche genre needed any sort of explanation.
Another cool aspect is how the different color germs react when blowing up, and the introduction of a special meter to charge up shots with special powers that do different damage depending on the color. Because of my old school ways, I found it challenging to actually remember to use the special powers, but when I did, it was awesome.
Thankfully, this was a free game. Not because it was horrible, but because if it was in an arcade, my wallet would be tapping out quicker than if it was fighting a Steam sale on a payday. Also, because it is on my Vita, I can take it with me while waiting in line to be next on Dance Dance Revolution ... or not.
It's a growing trend in the indie video game side of the business that games are being developed lacking key, distinct plot points and/or unclear or open-ended endings, thus forcing players to develop their own meanings and reasons for the game they just experienced, opening up the dialogue for conversation. While the bigger, "AAA" titles tend to be more straight forward, spelling it out for the player, indie games have a lot more freedom to be creative, quirky and left open to interpretation.
While there were a few games before Limbo to go this route of story telling and forced critical thinking, Limbo was the game that thrust this new way of looking at how games should be experienced into mainstream recognition. And ever since it was released on the XBLA, so many indie games have tried to replicate not only the success, but the emotional experience this game brought to the consciousness of gamers everywhere.
Few have accomplished this feat, but even when they do, they are still compared to the likes of Limbo.
Basically, Limbo is the hipster game of the genre.
I first bought this game after it had came out on XBLA, when Microsoft was having its end of the year sale, where they teased the upcoming titles they would put on sale. My friend and I both knew Limbo was coming, based on the hints, and that night, we both waited up until midnight to see it go on sale so we could pick it up. Consider it a midnight launch party, except we were just texting back and forth. Oddly enough, this was one of the first games that we both owned and purchased at the same time, meaning we were able to experience and share notes about the game at the same time. I think that first night I stayed up for a few hours, glued to the game, which is crazy considering it was just an XBLA game. But man, crazy or not, it was so worth it.
This game is amazing. I simply don't know how else to put it. Today it was released for the PS Vita, which of course I bought, and it is still the amazing game now that it was back then. In fact, I almost think this game was originally built to run on a handheld like the Vita, because this system is ideal for games like Limbo - especially with the ability to just suspend the game on a whim, and return back to that point whenever you so choose. While Limbo is great in long playthroughs, I really believe it is better in slightly shorter sessions, to allow you to sit back and reflect on what you just experienced.
I really do enjoy this game, and even though I beat the original XBLA version of this game a couple of times, I am still struggling to remember all the easy solutions to the platforming puzzles. I shouldn't have a problem, but the beautiful yet creep atmosphere and overall sad, melancholy tone of the game completely distracts me from the task at hand, usually. At least I am distracted by in-game things rather than being bored with the game itself so much that my mind starts to wander off.
If you have a Vita and still haven't pulled the trigger on this game up until now, NOW is the chance. Apparently, the totally awesome cross-buy promotion is in full force for this title, so you can have your cake and eat it to. Or something like that...
If you have been reading this little old blog of mine for a while now, or even browse it occasionally, you will notice quite a few patterns I have in my gaming habits. I don't like multiplayer games, my system of choice is PS3, my fondest memories of gaming as a kid revolve around Nintendo games, and I am new to PC gaming.
One more trend that proved to be true tonight was that I am a sucker for small, independent different-than-the-norm games, especially if they are cheap or on sale. Tonight, on a complete whim, I picked up Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery on the PS Vita, which was released today on the PSN for a low, low price is $2.99.
That's right, I said the low, low price of $2.99. But wait, there's more!
It also comes packed in with tons of trophies, an awesome new protagonist from an original IP, great and challenging puzzles and a fantastic art style. Oh, and the story is wonderful, and makes me think I am watching some sort of cartoon - Gravity Falls comes to mind right off the bat. And if you don't know about the show, stop reading this immediately and look it up. Seriously.
Ok, I'm not that serious. Don't stop reading until the end. THEN you can look up Gravity Falls.
I don't know what it is about these quirky little games, but with such a low price tag, I feel wrong in not buying the games, especially when the look and play this good. Right off the bat you are forced to solve some puzzles, and unlike most puzzle games where you have very, very basic puzzles at the start, this game doesn't hold your hand and makes you think immediately. Another cool thing is after finishing each puzzle, it tells you how many moves it could be done in, and if you happened to meet that mark, you seem to get a trophy for it.
All in all, it's just another fun little game for my Vita, to enjoy in short spurts and collect some trophies for it as well. I would rather buy and play 10 of these kind of games then buy one big, AAA retail game. Don't blame me for it, though. Habits are harder to break than they are to fall victim to. Trust me, I've tried.
Today I played the fun game called "Moving." I moved out all of my belongings from my old house and moved into my new apartment with my cousin. Aside from just moving, however, I also had to go to Ikea and pick out, buy, haul around and assemble a bunch of new furniture. Despite having the day off and a three day weekend, everything I did wasn't exactly my idea of fun.
I didn't even get my game systems all set up for crying out loud. No Internet until Monday and no TV until next Friday. So what's a guy to do?
Play his portable gaming system, of course.
So tonight, in between building a nightstand and putting clothes and stuff away, I played a little Patapon on my Vita, which was actually an old PSP game that I got for free on my Vita thanks to the amazing PS+ membership.
It's a fun little game. It's a rhythm game, and one that requires sound to actually participate. This was hard because my cousin was watching Halloween 2 super loud. I made it work, however, because that's how I roll.
You have to push the buttons in rhythm to get your characters to march on into battle, escaping enemies and recruiting new soldiers along the way.
It's a fun little game, but not one that would hold my attention longer than a level or two. Maybe I'm just too tired, though.
I mean, really, that furniture wasn't going to build itself.
I've never been into the musical games that were all the rage the last few years. Despite my unhealthy love for peripherals, I never fell victim to the Rock Band/Guitar Hero craze that swept the country. I thought DJ Hero might have been that game to finally drag me in to the depths of pretend instrument gaming, I never spent enough time playing it to give it a fair shake.
You see, I'm not what you would consider to be musically gifted, which is problematic when trying to keep rhythm while pretending to play plastic musical instruments. I guess my fear of sheer failure and humiliation kept me from ever putting much stock into the genre. So when this little PSN exclusive came out, based around beats, rhythm and your ability to make all those things come together in video game form, it had me worried.
Would I like this, despite my musical ineptitude? Well, I gave it shot back then, and I loved it. Half the game is comprised of platforming, where you collect notes throughout the level to complete the beat for that stage. No musical talent necessary, just uncanny and unflinching platforming skills, especially when it comes to the challenge levels.
The other half of the game is the level editor, where you build your own levels with the beats you want. Within that mode, there is Beat School, where you have to recreate small samples of beats perfectly, figuring out where each note goes on the music sheet. It takes a keen musical ear to figure these out easily, but with enough struggling and guessing, even someone like me can figure them out. What a sense of accomplishment it is to.
And that's why I played tonight, to go back and mop up a handful of silver trophies associated with Beat School DLC that I downloaded a while ago. Honestly, if it wasn't for all those awesome trophies, I probably would have quit on the Beat School levels a long, long time ago. But hey, for the musically gifted, they are probably the best part of the game.
For the musically challenged though, like me, don't worry. There are PLENTY of guides available online to help you through the Beat School levels. You know, if you're in to that sort of thing.
So it's crazy to think that this is the last double-digit of the blog, as we have officially reached 99 on this crazy whirlwind of a year-long project. I wish I could say I played a bunch of games today and I have an amazing blog to write, but alas, the real world has kind of slowed down my gaming.
Today is Tuesday, however, which means new games and the PSN store update! Since no new games came out today that I know of, I turned to the PSN store to pick up a new game. Actually, because of the awesome PS+ service, I received a free game as well, but we'll save that one for a later date. Tonight, let's get to the good stuff - Guacamelee!
In buying Guacamelee!, I received both versions of it for both my PS3 and my Vita, thanks to the continuously awesome cross-buy promotions. At this point, despite the issues the Vita has had, the cross-buy feature of several games have made it an amazing handheld system. Sure, they aren't making as much by giving away games for free, but seriously, is there any better way to reward and thank the Sony fans who have invested in both systems?
So anyway, tonight I played Guacamelee! on the Vita, only because of being portable and me not being able to console game again tonight. It is a super fun, stylish game from what I have played so far. It's a beat'em up platformer, with beautiful and engaging graphics and art style, fun and delightful music and a certain charm that isn't easily captured in games these days. You must remember though, this game comes from the same studio that brought the Vita one of its standout downloadable titles at launch, Tales From Space: When Mutant Blobs Attack. DrinkBox Studios knows what they are doing when developing these oddly charming Vita titles, and it's refreshing that Sony is not cornering them into just the Vita market, by putting this game on the PS3 as well. They deserve all the recognition they can get at this point.
I love collecting things in game, which this game has plenty of. I love the Metroidvania style of game where you are free to go anywhere on the map as long as your abilities/weapons/tools allow you to, and if you don't have the proper upgrade yet, you can always come back and explore the previously blocked-off section, I also enjoy quirkiness and unique humor, and this game oozes it.
If you have a PS3 or a Vita, or both, go buy this game now. PS+ members even get a discount on it this week, making it even harder to resist. Go support the great indie studios, folks!
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365