Games Rebels Play – August 2013
All I’ve played this month is a few minutes of Animal Crossing, and a few minutes of Guacamelee. Both are awesome. Both should be owned by everyone with the devices to play them on.
September was a pretty busy month for me outside of video games so I was slightly limited in my game time. I did however manage to keep playing the new content in Guild Wars 2. It is a title that continues to represent, by far, the best bang for your buck in pure entertainment value. The latest living story expansion added really cool worldwide “terrorist attacks” that rally players to a specific map to fight. It’s really great content and reinforces the value of world exploration and teamwork. They should be introducing some pretty good balancing changes in September and I expect the game to get even stronger as it goes into it’s second year of life.
I also finally got around to playing Burnout Paradise courtesy of the Humble Origin Bundle. I hadn’t picked up Paradise because I was kind of burned out on the series (pun intended), but the execution of the open world is really great and does a good job of making it feel more immersive than past games. The races are a bit repetitive, but that’s to be expected in this sort of game, so I can forgive it, especially given the overall fun factor of Burnout.
I also got to try out Leviathan: Warships and it’s pretty great. In a lot of ways it’s Frozen Synapse or Jagged Alliance on water, but with more RPG elements. I haven’t gotten too far into the single player story though so I can’t really say at this point if it suffers some of the same issues that tend to plague other tactical combat games.
Last but not least, I started using the Nike+ Running app on my phone. While it’s not a traditional game, it does do a pretty good job of gamifying the data it collects from various runs. Personally I tend to be more internally competitive so the bro-tastic, “you-vs-your-friends” encouragement doesn’t really do it for me, but coming from Nike I kind of think that goes with the territory. I’d be interested to see if Adidas has something similar as that might be more geared toward personal motivation instead of proving to your friends that you’re a better person than they are through feats of strength/endurance (based on the direction behind some of their fitness tracking campaigns). I’ll keep using Nike+ Running as a tracker and would probably consider getting a FitBit or Fuel Band to do more data gathering, but I don’t think I’m at the level where additional data is going to be all that valuable.
Still grinding in Final Fantasy III (DS Lite) before I can go into the underwater cave, I have a feeling the bard and geomancer need to level up quite a bit more. Still waiting for 3DS XL in white, and Wii U white deluxe set. Also, I’ve fired up Earthbound (with openemu).
And still been playing through SC II Hots (PC) on brutal, six missions to go.
Not much different since last month… but, hey, someone needs to take their time.
I played a bit of FTL this month, after having only played the tutorial. Took me a game or two to finally understand it, but now I’m enjoying it quite a lot. I’ve also been playing Pixel Dungeon on Android. If you’re a fan of roguelike, you’ll enjoy this game.
Now to the game I’ve been playing the most this month, like every other month for the past year. Guildwars 2. The 28th of August marked the first year anniversary of the game, so this month we got the Queen’s Jubilee.
Queen Jennah has been the Queen of the population of Kryta for 10 years now, and to celebrate, she had a Pavilion built where their used to be the great collapse (huge sinkhole) in Divinity’s Reach (Human Capital).
So the month start with the unveiling of the Crown Pavilion, in divinity’s reach, where Queen Jennah announces to the population, that this was built to show the world that Human race was still there, alive and kicking. She also unveils her new bodyguard, the WatchKnights. Clockwork robots, created by human engineering, to protect the Queen. To test out these robots, she built an arena, down in the pavilion, where we could take fights against different creatures we’ve fought around Tyria. Flame Legions, Centaurs, Pirates, just to name a few. So we’re basically fighting these watchworks, but since the Queen and her Countess are both powerful mesmers, we have the illusion of fighting these different creatures. But before everything starts, the Queen asks for a volunteer to fight a 1 on 1 against one of these watchknight. Logan, loyal bodyguard of the Queen is the first that volunteers. The fight starts, and even Logan is having a bit of trouble, but he’s finally able to beat the watchknight. Then something goes totally wrong, an airship “teleports” out of thin air, and the watchknight is back on his feet and out of control. We hear this myterious voice talk, and then we see her in the distance… this mysterious figure. With the help of Braham and Rox we’re finally able to land an arrow on her. We don’t learn anything about her, but she says she’ll be back. Logan wants the Queen to cancel the event, since it seems like this mysterious character can control the watchknights, but the Queen and Countess decides to go on with the event, the humans must not show signs of weakness.
Mid-month we start hearing of this new update on the Guildwars 2 website.. The Queen’s Speech, where Jennah will address the nation, with some important announcement. So this is the mid-month update, or so we thought… A couple of days before the update goes live, the website got vandalized. What could this mean?
On the day that the patch went live, the website totally changed. The patch was now being called Clockwork Chaos. This event started with the closing ceremony, where the Queen started her speech, but then just as it starts, the mysterious figure appears in the middle of the Pavilion. She tried to kill the Queen by breaking the platform she was on, Lord Faren jumped to save her, but when he reached her, the illusion shattered and he fell down into the Crown Pavilion, where he was held captive by this new enemy, called Scarlet Briar. She also gained control of all the watchknights, morphing them into twisted metallic horrors. and rigged the area with bombs. While disarming the bomb, the minstrel and Hobo-tron, which everyone loved, got kidnapped. So now Scarlet had 3 hostages. Lord Faren, the Minstrel and Hobo-tron
We had to go down in the pavilion to save them.[I'll be brief, since this is getting long] In the end we saved the 3 hostages, and almost killed Scarlet, but she got away. I guess her story isn’t done yet and we’ll see her in the upcoming months.
In August I went back to some games in my backlog between playing games for review. As always, Fire Emblem Awakening got some of my time since I’ve been trying to complete all DLC map packs before I carry on with the main story. Picross e is the gift that keeps on giving, and I did about 20 puzzles in August (not many puzzles left before I go for Picross e2!).
As mentioned last month, I started Cave Story 3D in July and I finished it in early August. If you have never played Cave Story you have several options available since you can go with the PC, Wiiware, DSiware or 3DS eshop versions of the game, or get Cave Story 3D which presents everything with a new 3D coat of paint for those that like their games with polygons.
I then got to play Cloudberry Kingdom on PS3, and once I finished the game I started all over again on Wii U! It is a procedurally generated platformer that was created thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, and you can learn more about it by reading my review right here.
I was very happy about getting a chance to review SteamWorld Dig on the 3DS eshop, a very fun take on the whole Metroidvania “genre” with a nice dose of Mr. Driller sprinkled on top for good measure. It is a 5 to 7 hours long game that shines on the 3DS and which, coincidentally, is now the #1 game in the 3DS eshop!
The second half of the month was spent playing Shantae GBC for review thanks to the wonders of the 3DS Virtual Console! This is one of the rarest (and most expensive) GameBoy Color games out there and having a chance to finally play it I can see why it is a cult classic. With about 10-12 hours of content and at only $4.99 it’s a game everyone should play… but, as I mention in my review, the game is NES hard so those that did not have an NES might feel humbled by the experience.
The month ended with a dive into my backlog to play Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate on the 3DS. Some people were apparently angry at the game because it wasn’t a hand-drawn 2D-heavy Metroidvania take on the series like all of the GameBoy Advance and DS releases, but if you’re looking for a good Castlevania game that carries on with the story from Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate is only $30 right now on 3DS, and there will also be an HD port soon before the year is over.
In preparation for an intense workload in September, I ended up sinking a fair amount of time gaming this past month. If you’ve read my entries in previous months, you can probably guess that I spent a good bit of that time in my Animal Crossing town. I think my addiction is waning, but I still spend a good hour or so each day improving my town. My current big project is surrounding my town square with hedges and paving the insides with custom tiles. It’s amazing how addictive that game is! If you’d like to see my town, my dream address is 5500-2178-4856.
I also started playing Shin Megami Tensei IV. I’m a huge fan of that series – particularly the Persona offshoot – and I’m definitely enjoying the newest entry. The story is a bit weak, but the atmosphere is incredible, and the gameplay is challenging and addictive. It’s a hard game, especially in the beginning, but it’s really satisfying when you get the tactics nailed down.
I finally fired up my Wii U again for Pikmin 3. I really had a great time playing through the game. It’s short, but sweet – just the right length. It’s definitely the best entry in the Pikmin series. They’ve refined the gameplay to perfection, and the game looks great. It’s nice to finally get Nintendo’s stellar art direction in HD.
Beyond the console space, I installed Steam on my Ubuntu laptop to play Steve Gaynor’s Gone Home. It is also a fantastic little game. It’s super short – only about three hours long – but is more memorable than most of the games I’ve played in the past few years. It’s a weird experience. At first, you feel like some kind of voyeur going through these people’s possessions, but by the end, you really, really end up knowing and caring about this family that you’ve never met, and never actually shows up on screen. The story is a little cheesy, but it’s also emotionally effective and really tugs at those heart-strings. It’s also amazing in that it’s a game that (a) tells a good story while (b) being completely free of violence or traditional conflict.
I was amazed by how many games have been ported to Linux in the past couple of years, and I’ve spent a bunch of time just trying out different indie games. I finally played through all of Super Brothers: Sword & Sworcery EP after starting it twice on phones and getting distracted. I played through the second episode of Kentucky Route Zero. I spent a few hours enraptured in the abstract beauty of Proteus. I’ve also toyed around with English Country Tune, SpaceChem, and Surgeon Simulator 2013 (which is hilarious). I’ve really enjoyed playing around with all of these little games, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some of the PC indies that I’ve missed out on lately.
My wife and I picked up Sacred 2: Gold from the Humble Deep Silver bundle, and it’s sure an interesting game. It’s half Diablo clone, and half MMO wannabe. It features a rotating, over the shoulder camera, but you click on everything till it dies. It also has a lot of systems that are not like other games, so it can take quite a bit to get into, but then it’s unlike any other RPG I’ve played. Plus, it has over 500 quests, so you could basically play it forever.
I also played a fair bit of Plants VS Zombies 2, and it impressed be a lot by not only being a great game, but also by being a Free to Play title published by EA that wasn’t totally awful. Anyone who’s shying away from it because of the stigma against Free to Play games is really missing out.
Finally, I played a fair bit of Mario Golf on the 3DS Virtual Console, as it was a Club Nintendo Reward. It totally holds up. The combination of golf and RPG style leveling is absolutely great.
August was a month of change for me, so I didn’t get to play as many games as I wanted to, but I did make some major acquisitions.
First of all, I bought a Wii U in the infamous Target sale where the price was $50 off but the flyer showed a regular Wii. So far, the only game I’ve bought for my Wii U is EarthBound, in part because I don’t own a television. (Long story short, I ordered one online but it came with a cracked screen. To get my Wii U setup, I just used the TV in my apartment complex’s business room.) I put around 4 hours into EarthBound and another 5 into various other Wii U features (Miiverse, eShop, demos…). I’m really excited for the system and can’t wait to go back and try the Mario, Luigi, and Pikmin games when I have more free time.
It’s interesting to play EarthBound again for the first time in at least five years. The last time I played it was in Japanese with the Mother 1+2 GBA cart, so it’s great to see the wonderful English localization again. One aspect of the Wii U version is Miiverse integration. At any point in the game you can press the Home button and post a screenshot on Miiverse. EarthBound has so many weird jokes and random humor that it’s difficult to go more than a few steps without stopping to post something, which is fun, but also makes the game take much longer.
In 3DS land, I feel like I’ve finally kicked my Animal Crossing addiction. I’m about a week and half sober and urge to fire it up again is fading. But then again, maybe September has new insects, so I really should just check to see what’s changed…
Two new-to-me 3DS games I tried out in August were Fluidity: Spin Cycle and Shantae (GBC). Fluidity feels like an incredible implementation of a not-that-great idea. The art style is fantastic, and they really added a lot of wonderful small touches compared to the Wii version, but the core mechanic of spinning your 3DS just doesn’t do it for me. The droplets always get scattered everywhere, and there’s no way to move with finesse.
I know our own Antonio loved Shantae, but he wasn’t kidding when he wrote, “Be advised that the game is NES hard… take that into consideration if that level of difficulty isn’t your thing.” I’m still in the very early stages of the game, and I’m not sure I have the patience to play until I find the fun. I liked the DSi version though, so maybe I’ll give it another shot when I have more time.
I have been out of the house most of August, exploring a forest and a lake with my son as well as relaxing in the countryside with my kids and girlfriend along some good friends, far away from my consoles, computer and portables, but I still managed to play some games when I was home.
Most of my play time was devoted to Pikmin 3, which I’ve finished within less than two weeks. I often couldn’t stop playing the game and ended up glued in front of the TV for over 2 hours a session. While Pikmin 2 holds a special place in my heart, I agree with Gregory that Pikmin 3 is the best and most accessible game in the series. The game is tightly designed and felt slightly more like an adventure game this time with dramatic camera angles, more focus on the story and huge, climatic boss battles. It’s a wonderful game with that unique Nintendo touch. Here’s my final adventure report:
Other than that, I have been playing Home on iOS, a small horror point and click game that plays like a “choose your own adventure book”. It only takes around an hour or so to complete, even the game the prompts you to clear it in one sitting, and while the gaming elements are almost inexistent, the story and atmosphere grabbed me for the entire playtime.
Other than that, I have only put minimal time in Animal Crossing New Leaf lately and only recently started Mario & Luigi Dream Team that, so far, is pure fun. I hope I’ll be able to put more time into it but with my copies of Killer Is Dead, GTA V and Wind Waker HD arriving in the next few weeks I will have to make tough choices.
While Vinnk got his Wii U, I finally picked up a 3DS XL. Getting a Wii U myself last year meant putting off the purchase for a while, but after a load of goading (thanks, Phil Bond!) I finally jumped onboard. Much like the Wii U, I expected to coast along on the built-in software and cheap eShop titles while I slowly build a library and play through a backlog of DS games — which I have also had to re-buy since I lost my DS Lite and most of my games several years ago.
StreetPass is such a fascinating feature that I have heard so much about. I’m glad to be part of it, especially for as many geek social settings I attend throughout the year. I bought this 3DS not coincidentally before the weekend of Geek.Kon in Madison, WI, and (quite coincidentally) Madison Underground Presents: Famicom Dojo at the Broom St Theatre that Sunday. In fact, I believe my first StreetPass (first two, actually, on the same day) was with Vinnk. The minigames are pretty sweet. The built-in puzzle swap game, which you need to install updates to the Mii Plaza to fully experience, will keep me addicted for years I’m sure. Find Mii is okay. It’s a turn-based RPG where you fight with your StreetPass friends and earn hats. The hats are worth it, I suppose. But you can also buy up to four games at $5 a pop, or all four at once for $15 — but you only get one chance at it. I didn’t take that offer, and instead just bought Warrior’s Way. You fight the leaders of 20 NPC-lead countries with armies you cull from your StreetPasses and/or buying mercenaries with coins. Your army is grouped into three types in a rock/paper/scissors. The opposing army also has three groupings, but to being they’re usually of all the same type, so you can win pretty easily with the one army type that will beat it, and sheer numbers with the other. (You only need to win two out of three.) You can later earn a spy ability you can use a 2 coins a pop (although only once per matchup — so pay attention when you get the results!) to determine which army your opponent will send out first, making later levels a bit easier.
I downloaded lots of demos, although have only played a few. My favorite was Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!!, which I just picked up in physical form today for only $20. Could I have gotten it for just as much as a digital copy? Sure! But it would have been a lot harder to share with friends who also wanted to try it (although the demo admittedly exists), plus there are my lingering concerns with Nintendo’s DRM scheme locked to my physical device. The game itself is just adorable. It plays like Zelda II with side-scrolling action sequences and a top-down overworld with randomly-spawning enemies, but is a lot prettier. WayForward knew this, and even threw in (so far only one) Zelda reference. I dig it. The game made me scream some variation of “hoyl carp!” more than once. The dialogue, though mostly text-based, is great and evocative of the show. The enemies are appropriately bizarre. It’s 3D, but only insomuch as the 2D scrolling elements are layered over each other. It’s just as pleasant to play in 2D — which will be good news for 2DS owners!
Before I finally dove into the 3DS world, I was playing catchup with some old DS games. Vinnk was kind enough to bring a copy of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! when he visited the states, and I made short work of the medium difficulty mode. Ah, the nostalgia! Hard to believe I was first playing it when the Wii launched seven years ago. So, so good. I did get a used copy, however, and had to erase the data. But how? There were no menu options. Apparently this can be accomplished by pressing all of the face buttons and Start/Select, and answering the resulting prompts.
I also picked up a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass at (shudder) GameStop quite a while ago to replace my lost copy. I think I’ve already made it farther than I had the first time around — which is to say I haven’t played much of it at all either time. It took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t able to swing my sword at anything not because I’d forgotten how to use the touch controls, but because I didn’t have a sword yet. I’m pretty sure I don’t like the touch controls… but I got used to them again.
The 3DS has a 1:1 pixel mode you can activate when you start up the cart by pressing Start and Select. Some say not using it makes the game too blurry on the XL, but I usually play without it. You need to activate it every time you start up a DS game, and I don’t think it looks too bad.
Having owned a Wii U first, I see how a lot of the improvements it had over the Wii were inspired by the 3DS interface, yet don’t directly copy certain features — like the ability to bring up the game menu at a moment’s notice. Being able to suspend your software while you do other things is wonderful. I suppose the Wii U doesn’t do this because it has to load the Mii Plaza when you want to look at your channels. Heck, the Wii U even lifted most of its sounds from the 3DS. It makes sense that the two pieces of hardware and their OSes will be handled by one team from now on.
August was amazing. I’m glad I finally hopped aboard the 3DS bandwagon, and think I will have a pretty good time gaming this fall. Now if only there were more people around to StreetPass with…
August was gaming Utopia for me. Both new and retro were represented!
On the retro front I bought a new Turbo Twin Famicom to replace the red Twin Famicom of mine that broke last year. So I played a lot of the Famicom Disk System games I haven’t been able to. Metroid and Zelda with the FM sounds are sooooo good.
I also got a new PC Engine Duo-R. I got rid of my old one during the “Great I’m an Adult Now, so I Should Get Rid of Most of my Games and Grow up” purge of 2007. I was using emulation to play the CD-Rom games but it is so much better to use original hardware. Played a lot of Super Star Solider. Game is so hard, but so fun.
As for new games, while in America I went a bit crazy and bought a Wii U Deluxe Pack and about 8 games. I have been playing a lot of New Super Mario Bros. U with my wife and Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed (the best kart racer on the platform until Mario Kart 8). Trine 2 was only $8 this month so that was an instant buy. Even with the new HD hardware, the game that got the most play out of me this month was Earthbound on the Virtual Console. It is so great to play that from the Gamepad controller while lying in bed.
New school year starts this week so I will be back to being busy again, but August was a great month for gaming. The best in years.
In August, I played and completed Pikmin 3. It’s really as great as I expected, and the visual is very impressive for a supposedly under-powered console. The fruits are especially appetizing… The game is so charming, and yet so nerve-wracking. It’s more stressful than a survival-horror game for me. My only complaint would be that playing with both the wiimote-nunchuk AND gamepad at the same time can be a bit awkward, but it’s not mandatory.
I also played Dragon’s Crown. The game is a mix of classic arcade beat-em-up (think Final Fight or TMNT: Turtles in Time) and deeper RPG mechanics, with upgradable skills, equipment, levels and so on. The gameplay is deeper than I expected, and the drawn visual is simply stunning. The game go do get repetitive and a bit tedious, especially toward the end, but you’ll always have fun if you’re playing in co-op with friends in the same room as you.
On the portable side, I started Paper Mario: Sticker Star. After reading reviews and comments on the internet, I expected the worst, but I’m was very pleasantly surprised. There’s a lot to love in this game: wonderful aesthetic (they really pushed the “handcraft” aspect this time), great dialogues, some clever puzzles… However, I can understand how you can get really frustrated if you play the game without a guide, as many puzzle solutions are incredibly obtuse. Things that would be “secrets” or “easter eggs” in other games are part of the main part in Sticker Star, which is really weird. My tip to play the game: have a walkthrough always opened in the 3DS browser, and read it every time you start to get frustrated. This will allow you to reach the better parts of the game without snapping your 3DS in half.