Games Rebels Play – February 2014
I played Amnesia Dark Descent… That game is horrible! I got sick before I could figure out how to get past the first part. I simply must be part of the group that brings this game down. I’m sure it gets better, but collecting tinder boxes, trying to light torches, and following purple footsteps is not a good time.
I’ve also played Anomaly 2. It’s equally boring, but in a different way. I like the idea of a tower defense squadron thing, but actually playing it was simply a matter of putting the healing wrench icon in the right place at the right time. I gold badged the tutorials, and okay – the truth comes out – I didn’t get far past the tutorials. I will try multiplayer next.
Speaking of multiplayer, I played a little Starcraft 2. Tore through someone’s vrays with upgraded mutas — hope that makes someone who reads this happy. Did I mention that I’m in a bronze league? It’s because I do silly thinks like accumulate mutas and upgrade them.
I played and finished the director’s cut of Deadly Premonition on the PS3, which I talked extensively about, along with other Rebels, on the latest x5. That has been my main attraction for the whole month. I don’t have much to add, except that it is a truly, uniquely fantastic game and a great Haitian rhum companion (or maybe it’s the other way around).
I managed to play — and quickly finish – Saints Row The Third. It was terribly dumb, juvenile, a bit crappy, and yet, stupidly fun (although entirely forgettable) in the end. Other than that, I’ve been playing tiny bits of Retro City Rampage DX, Witch & Hero and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on my 3DS. The latter was a very short-lived diversion that was, in no way, worth the $40 that Capcpom was originally asking for it; I’m glad I got my copy for $10, a much more fitting price.
Last month, at the behest of Phil Bond, I began playing Hanafuda — the original Nintendo game! (Okay, so Nintendo didn’t invent Hanafuda, but their decks are among the most popular still being produced.) I had actually picked up a Nintendo-branded deck in Japan a little over ten years ago, but never opened it until now.
The basics: there are 48 cards separated into four set of 12 suits, with each suit being identified by a particular flower representing one of the 12 seasons — hence the “Hana” in “Hanafuda”. In koi-koi, the object is to match a card in your hand or from the draw pile to another card in the community pot. If you can’t, you must discard. The strategy is to collect a set of cards with various point values. While you can only take cards that match suit, these sets are largely formed from cards of different suits. The cards showing just flowers are the least amount of points. Some show animals, and this is also a set (although there are fewer of these). You can make a special set of just three particular animals for a lot of points. There are ribbons that form a set, or even higher-value ribbons with writing on them (scrolls), or a set of three purple ribbons (instead of the usual red). There are the light cards (e.g. Moon or Sun) which are worth quite a lot depending on the combination. And then there are special sets that combine with the sake cup. It seems complex and daunting at first, but it took me less than a week of playing to really get the hand of it.
As you may imagine, figuring all of that out on your own by constantly checking the rules and having no one to play with can seem daunting, so I actually ended up playing one of two electronic versions. After watching JewWario’s two-part You Can Play This video on the koi-koi variation of Hanafuda, I picked up a copy of Clubhouse Games for Nintendo DS at the local used game shop for less than $10. It’s a bit hard to make out the designs on this version, but in addition to downloadable multi-player, it features a predictive matching system that shows you which cards match what’s in your hand. If you have a set of any value, the game will let you know, and you can decide to end the round or keep playing. There is also a freemium iOS game (heavily laden with ads). This version has the same predictive matching system — and you can actually see the designs on the cards thanks to the higher resolution of the iPhone — but the game is not without its problems. It’s difficult to know what set you’ve gotten unless you understand the rules really well because the names of the sets are presented in a kind of shorthand, whereas the DS game will spell it out for you. There is supposedly multiplayer, which costs 100 in-game coins each time you even attempt a connection to another Game Center player. You can earn coins by winning at the single player game — although there is a limit per day — or you can just pay for opening up a shareable game. I’ve never gotten the feature to work.
The other game I played was Flappy Bird, which I downloaded after I heard that the creator was going to be taking it off the AppStore. I simply do not understand the hate this game got, because it’s minutes and minutes of stupid fun. This is how video games used to be! I think I’ve topped out at 38 so far. I actually find that the app’s attempts to load advertising causes a hiccup in the game, which messes up your flapping timing. The ads tend to load once per session, but at seemingly random intervals from the start. I’m convinced that this is part of the strategy of the game. Or maybe it’s my iPhone 4 struggling to keep up.
I’d tell you to play it… but you can’t. I can’t say it’s worth it to buy someone’s iOS device to try it out, but then again, people pay tens of thousands of dollars for Stadium Events, so what do I know…
I did a ton of gaming on February, jumping between games from my backlog (Enslaved, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Mario’s Picross, Mysterious Cities of Gold, Super Motherload) and several games that I reviewed over the month.
This time around, I want to focus on two games: Danganronpa and The Wolf Among Us: Smoke and Mirrors.
Danganronpa is a visual novel on PS Vita that is an enhanced port of a Japan-only PSP release. The plot focuses on Makoto Naegi, an average kid that somehow earns a chance to attend Hope’s Peak Academy — THE most prestigious school in the universe. Graduating from their program is a guarantee of future success. Makoto doesn’t fit in with the rest of the student body, a group filled with the very best at their respective areas of expertise — such as Mondo Owada, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, Sayaka Maizono, the Ultimate Pop Sensation, or Leon Kuwata, the Ultimate Baseball Star.
Things take a turn for the bizarre and the cruel when Monokuma –the school’s robotic bear/principal/crazy mofo — tells the students that in order to graduate, they must kill another student and get away with the murder. The game mechanics mix Phoenix Wright with the standard visual novel tropes, and the narrative, voice acting and crazy story make this a must-have, unique monster of a game.
Being a huge fan of Telltale Games’ releases, I’ve been counting down the days between new episodes of The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season 2. Smokes and Mirrors is the second episode in The Wolf Among Us, and it keeps things moving in the right direction. It’s hard to talk about a game like The Wolf Among Us without completely spoiling the story, so lets just say that if you liked the first episode, you’ll love this one. There are a couple of twists that will keep you guessing as to what will happen in episode 3.