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    Flower, Sun, and Rain (DS)    by   jp       (Feb 22nd, 2018 at 11:10:10)

    What the heck is going on in this game?

    Ok, in terms of gameplay it looks like you just need to talk to people, interact with stuff and then find numbers in a guidebook that are used as answers when you "jack in" to people/things. The numbers parts are the puzzles and, well - I'm not all that enthused about doing more of those. I've already - not counting the "tutorial puzzle" solved two of them (to get out of your hotel room and then to open a football shaped bag) and...eh. I'm very "meh".

    And the story? It seems very David Lynchian and...weird? I keep on waking up in my room like nothing happened and there's a plane that explodes, but I also made it explode the second time by kicking the football bag at it? And the character dialogue is...uh...weird?

    I'm not terribly interested in this so far - but maybe I'll get into it? I'll give it a few more hours and we'll see...

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    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 22nd, 2018 at 11:06:34)

    And finished!

    I was really surprised by the epilogue - it really makes a strong argument for there not being any more Nathan Drake games. Well, until they do one where he's young, or one where his brother comes back with an emergency and Nathan's all old and creaky...

    The game is absolutely gorgeous and the environments are extraordinary in their details, variety, and just...hmm...amazing. Weirdly, especially for the whole 2nd half of the game - I increasingly felt bad about everything that was going on in the game. All of the places they see and visit - each replete with incredible historical artifacts and things and all they care about is the "treasure". It makes sense - if the characters are all mercenary thieves and such - but it just made me feel bad that - even though I know and understand it's fantasy - there was so much cool stuff going to waste! For example, you spend a lot of time in rotting mansions that have bookshelves full of books..and I'm thinking WOW, scholars would die for half of what's there - collector's would die...there's so much money in all those ancient editions, how many books might have even been lost that are now found, etc. Of course the characters just walk on past. It's unfair to ask them to care and they do briefly comment on things like that - but still. I guess it hit me harder than before because the set dressing and level design and art is just so great. The places are more believable and have more details and things to think about.

    What was I not that excited about? Combat still felt awkward - especially when the climbing stuff gets mixed in. I would often try to take a goon down only to get "stuck" hanging off a ledge or trying to jump up on something and stuff like that. Overall I never really enjoyed the combat sections even though there are a few standout moments (the one where you're dragged along on a rope was particularly notable).

    I guess I now need to look at the game whose name currently escapes me that came out afterwards?

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    Daigasso! Band Brothers DX (DS)    by   jp       (Feb 22nd, 2018 at 09:09:31)

    This game has way more Japanese text than I can handle - however, I was still able to play a few songs and get a general sense of how it works. It has a complete karaoke mode! (impossible for me, obviously)

    Ok, cool things:

    a. There's all kinds of songs - including traditional Japanese instrumentals (with flutes and stuff) - and it's kind of neat to play the same song a few times, with with a different instrument.

    b. Rather than notes moving, there's a "cursor" (tracker) that moves across the screen towards the notes - makes it a bit easier to follow (for me) EXCEPT for the "carriage returns" - when the cursor changes lines (there are about 3 lines on the top screen?)

    c. Apparently there's a full-blown midi-tracker system you can use to make your own music - which is way cool, but I didn't try it out.

    d. Karaoke? Really? On the DS? Wow!

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    Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)    by   AvantAveGarde       (Feb 20th, 2018 at 12:03:04)



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    Flower, Sun, and Rain (DS)    by   jp       (Feb 18th, 2018 at 14:51:12)

    I bought this many years ago because Suda51. As in, here's a weird game by a strange creative person doing potentially interesting things. If I recall, the reviews were "ok", but whatever.

    I first tried to play it several years ago while on a plane and I got to a point where the game said to look up a date in the manual. I didn't have that with me, so I put the game away and then...others games got in the way.

    I started it up yesterday and, with manual in hand, learned that you were supposed to make any date up (it's the character's birthday) and write it in the manual so you don't forget it! There's a blank space in the manual for that...sigh. I guess it's a good thing I didn't just try a random number when on the plane because chances are I would not have remembered what random number I put in and then would have screwed myself over....

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    Random

    Velocity Ultra (VITA)    by   jp

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Wednesday 22 March, 2017
    I don't often play 2D space shooters - I'm just not that good at them, but I have been wondering what design innovation looks like in this space. Most of what I've heard has to do with what sound like hyper-specialized combo/score systems and variations of Ikaruga's mode-switching (where you change modes and thus become vulnerable or invulnerable to certain kinds of enemies/bullets).

    Velocity Ultra does add something I hadn't quite seen before (not saying it's new, just that it's new to me): backtracking in a 2D space shooter. It's kind of surprising how this affects the pacing and level of intensity of a shooter. Though, to be fair, this isn't a super intense game either - you're normally flying around slowly (you can boost to go faster), there aren't that many enemies, and it's more about navigating the space because you can also teleport. Tap somewhere on the screen and your ship teleports there. I'm not sure you can use it in combat effectively - but it's mostly about warping into secret areas or warping forward because there's an impassable barrier in front of you.

    Anyways, a few levels ago (I'm about halfway through at this point, 23/50?) a new type of teleporting was introduced. You can press triangle to "drop" a warp spot and then, once you've moved past it, you can bring up the map, select your warp spot and warp back to that spot. Most levels now require that you do it because they have branching paths (and you need to explore both) as well as targets you need to destroy in a particular order that is not the order in which they appear (so you might have to destroy "1" and then warp back to destroy "2" and so on). There's lots of these and there also often interconnected ('cause there are numbers and also colors - the most I've had in a level so far was three colors and each with numbers up to 9 - I think. There was a LOT of backtracking).

    I'm not entirely sold on the idea, but it is fresh and it does work. I'm just not sure that it's made the game more compelling...but maybe I've only seen the "simple" levels?

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