jp's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay of Earth: Protonovus Assault (VITA) - Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:41:30 looked so intriguing that I bought a copy blind...from abroad. This is not usually how I buy games. Especially the blind part. Well, unless they're super cheap.... I'm a few missions in (and 9 strikes, missions is not the same as strikes..) and I think I'm starting to get the hang of this game. It has required me to go into the menus to read a lot because the tutorial-style text that is meant to explain things is really poor at explaining things. For example, at one point the character's (they're all my assistants, I'm playing the commander of a city) all started talking about how we could now merge units, that we could merge 2 units, that it was a shame we couldn't merge three units yet, but that we could merge 2 units and that it was all a great improvement. I had no idea what merging units meant, how to do it, what it cost, etc. I wasn't able to find any info in the units-related menus... Eventually I discovered a menu with some help/glossary-type text and said something to the effect of "merging units happens automatically when they're next to each other". Oh. I still didn't know what THAT meant, but I was able to figure it out later during a strike. There's a lot of things like that in this game - that you sort of realize by having to pay careful attention to things you thought would have been explained either directly or more clearly. The game plays as a sort of tower defense game where you place towers in your city. Your city is a set of concentric rings that have empty slots where you can build the towers. You also have to leave room for residential areas, parks, and a power plant. The idea is that you're running a city, and you need to keep your population happy and growing. As expected, you can upgrade all the things you build and as your city grows and you level up (you, the commander character) you get access to new units (towers) and other stuff? So, there's base building/development and then strikes - which is when you fight off waves of invading monsters. Here's where the concentric (4 rings) circles that make up your city come in. Enemies come at you from any direction and you can rotate the city's rings such that the towers are in the path of the oncoming enemies. If two towers line up (radius-wise) and they're of the same type, they "merge" into a better version of that tower. In the beginning I was REALLY getting annoyed during the strikes, because although there's an indicator of the direction of approaching enemies, I had towers that were fighting off-screen enemies and, due to the camera perspective, you couldn't see any enemies on the bottom of the screen. I though that was a really dumb idea and I was sure there must be some way to change the camera view. I pressed all the buttons. No luck. I pressed all the buttons some more, no luck. I checked menus for configuration options. No luck. Then I tried the second stick (right stick) and there it was - move the camera around! So, now - the strikes are a lot more interesting...and playable. I'm not enjoying how chatty the characters are though...and there's unexplored gameplay there for now - each character has a special power or two, which I haven't looked into and I only realized I had more than 6 characters because I got a message before a strike asking if I was sure I wanted to field a character who was very tired. I was able to swap him out for another character...but then I realized I didn't have backups for anyone I'm not sure what happens if they all get tired?Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:41:30 CDT (VITA) - Tue, 25 Jul 2017 15:44:47 got to a level I wasn't able to pass and I wasn't really making any progress on it at all. I just couldn't get the beat of the song for my taps to work. So, I decided to sigh and move along...Tue, 25 Jul 2017 15:44:47 CDT Chrome (PS4) - Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:16:24 a few hours with my son the other day and I'm really interested in figuring out all the stuff the game has going on. There's an overarching rogue-like/lite structure that I'm intrigued by, and it helps that the base twin-stick shooting is fun. The overall structural stuff I'm curious about are: a. You spend money to get upgrades that are permanent. Are they really? (we're not sure, but we haven't gotten that far such that early levels SHOULD be really easy) b. You can spend money to upgrade weapons - but we think that's only for your next playthrough? c. Weapons also level up, but that's only during a play session - we're not sure which is the stronger effect: weapon leveling or the permanent upgrades. It's hard to disentangle them... d. After the first boss, you can choose to start from that point - we're not sure yet if that's a good idea, why would you NOT want to do that? We're not sure if starting at the boss means starting at a power-level appropriate for that level? (e.g. with weapons that have levelled up to a point that similar to what you'd get if you'd played all the way to that boss). COol beans!Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:16:24 CDT (VITA) - Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:54:34 picked this up because it's weird. And it is. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it - but it the core gameplay is rhythm-action with light-RTS/strategy. You basically tap on the screen to summon soldiers to fight for you which you then "place" by swiping a line on the screen that indicates where you want them to go. So far there are 3 different colors in a classical rock-paper-scissors configuration (thankfully there's a little icon of the relationship on the screen that I'm always referring to so I can figure out what to summon next). It's strange and I don't entirely understand how to play it (despite having done all the tutorials made available so far). I've only played 3 (or 4?) missions, and I've unlocked two new unit types beyond the starter "melee": archers and catapults. I don't really understand the strategy yet beyond "tap the best color for the enemies you see on the screen now" and there's been a few missions I lost a lot at (the 2nd one in particular) without really understanding what was going on. I think I understand a bit more now (so I beat the 2nd level), but then I failed a lot at the tutorial level for the catapult unit... So, who knows... It's also an interesting looking game - it feels 100% Unity with last-gen textures and weird 90's early web use of fonts and colors. The sort of fancy 3D fonts people would use on their GeoCities webpages in headers and whatnot (as graphics, not text). I'm also not really digging the music, but this might be just because I'm so confused by what I'm doing...I button-mash to the rhythm is how I'd describe what I currently do.Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:54:34 CDT Bowl II (PS4) - Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:56:02, it's going on the shelf. I decided to play some more of the campaign over the weekend. I'm on match 11 (or maybe it was 10?) and the game crashed after half-time. So I played again, but wasn't able to meet all the goals. So I played again, and it crashed AGAIN, after half-time. So, I'm pretty annoyed now. These matches aren't short, and I'm not sure I really want to risk playing more just to get to the end of the campaign. I have no idea how many matches the campaign has in total (and googling didn't throw anything). So, on the shelf it goes!Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:56:02 CDT (VITA) - Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:05:55, and yay! Yes, there's some annoynances here and there - camera gets a bit wonky sometimes, but I really enjoyed it even though it felt like it got a bit long towards the end. Curiously, I think that's mostly a design/storytelling issue. Halfway through the game they annouce "the end", but it isn't. And then it's supposed to end "again", but it doesn't, and so on. So, I was feeling ready to get to the actual end a bit to sooner than was perhaps advisable. On the other hand, I felt like every couple of levels there was some new and different gameplay. Towards the end there's a lot of motion-control gameplay where you have to rotate the PSVita (never too much, that gets annoying real fast) and stuff like that. Definitely stayed fresh in that sense! I'm curious about the PS4 game now because I know there won't be as much of that kind of taking advantage of the hardware for UI/gameplay as they did with this version?Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:05:55 CDT Cards (iPd) - Mon, 17 Jul 2017 14:53:38 came up on my twitter feed and I thought I'd give it a go. It's a really interesting concept - it's a turn-based game in which you play cards in order to prevent asteroids from destroying your base. I think it's inspired by Missile Command, but the gameplay is not action-based. I feel like I really want to like/enjoy this game, but the honest truth is that I can't seem to get into it. It's easy to lose a game due to the randomness of the cards. It's also, I think, easy to win a game if the cards come up just right. However, there isn't really any deck construction (other than some bonus cards you can unlock) so the game feels remarkably shallow while hinting at greater tactical depth than I think it really has. So, a little disappointed, BUT I still love the idea.Mon, 17 Jul 2017 14:53:38 CDT (VITA) - Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:01:11 Molecule has really nailed "tactile" and "crafts-like" as a company. It all started (AFAIK) with Little Big Planet, but it goes to a new level here in Tearaway. Weirdly it's not about visual fidelity - Tearaway looks "worse" than LBP in many ways - but, it FEELS better in so many more. LBP looked and felt like a wonky diorama game where you were sort of like the puppeteer. And by wonky I mean, imprecise in a realistic way - it's not easy to move marionette - the sort of look "floaty" which was perfect. Tearaway feels much more like a papercraft imaginary storyworld. So, the sort of thing you'd daydream about rather than build with your own hands. And I really appreciate that, it makes the game feel more magical and fantastic. It's not a stop-motion Tim Burton movie-game, but rather something you might daydream about rather than build. More like old school animation rather than high-end CG... I think I'm about halfway through, and I'm looking forward to re-visiting some areas - they're full of little endearing details. The one thing I'm not too excited about? The way I hold the PSVita is counterproductive for some of the gameplay (tapping the back touch panel for jumping in some places). I can contort my hand to make it work, but I've died a few times due to a misplaced "tap". Minor annoyance to be fair.Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:01:11 CDT Arkham Origins Blackgate (VITA) - Tue, 11 Jul 2017 17:06:21! I got really frustrated and ornery towards the end - I didn't really enjoy the Penguin boss battle, or the Joker one...or...the Black Mask one either. Both Catwoman fights I did enjoy but still, for a lot of things the timing and controls felt slow or off. And the map - so hard to navigate and figure out where to go. There's a secret item i just gave up on - couldn't find my way around to it (and internet searches didn't help either, weirdly). Sigh. That being said, I did enjoy the way the game looked and although it took me a while to realize - the liberty of going wherever (you can take out the bosses in any order - the last one you take out determines what the final mission is) and that the game is basically set up in typical Metroid-vania style - with new weapons/add-ons giving you access to new areas and such. It felt really good when I "figured out" some and found some secret areas. Other times, not so much... and the detective-mode (when certain things are highlighted for you to analyze) was pretty neat. Oh. I now remember what I hated about some of the end...checkpoints! Poorly (sparseley) placed ones. I DID appreciate that the Penguin boss battle had a checkpoint in the middle. I don't know if I would have made it to the end if not for that.Tue, 11 Jul 2017 17:06:21 CDT Arkham Origins Blackgate (VITA) - Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:34:51've been enjoying the slower pace of this game - there's more walking around, scanning, and a bit of fighting, than all-out action. I'm at the Penguin boss fight, which I think means I'm close to the end of the game? Haven't had a chance to write about the experience before... A few things: a. There's no jump button - which is strangely disconcerting, especially when you want Batman to jump across a gap. He makes it (sometimes), but it feels weird. b. Batman walks really slowly (it feels slow), which is ok - except when you're in a fight and I really want to get across to the other side of a room. Rolling helps, but it still makes Batman feel slow. Occasionally, he'll combo-kick across the room though, which feels pretty empowering, but mostly fights are about getting everyone to crowd around you and then slowly taking them out. No button mashing though! c. I hate the map. I find it's useful sometimes, but it's confusing to read. The map is 2D, and rather abstract - and because the game environments are weirdly convoluted (in a good way, it makes them feel more "real" - because they're not flat 2D), I'm often lost and confused as to where to go next and how to get there fast. On the other hand, the level design is quite thoughtfully designed such that there isn't much backtracking once you've finished an area/boss. That being said, I wander back and forth a lot - trying to find secrets and stuff like that. d. I'm guessing the game's story is tied in to the Arkham asylum games and such, so there's probably a lot that's flying over my head. e. The whole installations are incredibly decrepit and inhumane (as living quarters for convicts). But I guess that's the gritty part of Batman? seems a bit jarring to me. :-)Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:34:51 CDT