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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 23:42:21     -    Super Mario Sunshine (GC)

    GAMEPLAY
    I felt more comfortable playing this game the second time I approached it. After the first few levels the cut scenes (which didn't add much to the game)pretty much stopped and a better game pace was established. Although I still found myself confused at times, playing for a few more hours allowed me to better adjust to the specific way this game worked. Many of my previous frustrations were overcome with practice and more gameplay experience. For example, knowing what to do next was stressful at first, but now I know the game formula better; which makes the game more fun to play and less frustrating.

    I felt the missions became more exciting as the game went on (but I wish they had become more exciting earlier). It took a solid hour or two for the gameplay to feel exciting. I accredit this to an ineffective tutorial. As I stated in my previous log, the beginning part of the game tried to keep the tutorial significant (story wise), which made actual game play during the tutorial less effective. I wish they had a tutorial completely separate from the game where you learn how controls work, how the game is played, etc. without endless the cut scenes of storyline. I believe this would have allowed the player to get "into" the game faster.

    My overall feeling of this game still stands mixed. On one hand, this is a fun game with an interesting environment and unique elements such as FLUDD; the water blaster which Mario uses to battle enemies. However, I believe the many frustrations I encountered can not be ignored. A large number of "getting stuck" moments will hurt a game even of the most creative design. I personally felt I was unsure of what to do a lot, which left me upset and stressed.

    Even though many stressful moments existed, the game does have some strong points. One of the strongest being the game environment and upbeat tone. The graphics are definitely impressive for a Gamecube game (the water looks just as good as in xbox 360 games). The designers also did a really good job creating a fun mood throughout the game by using bright colors and happy environments. The environment was always uplifting and inviting, which I believe was what the artists intended. So even if I was frustrated, I couldn't help but be slightly more at ease with the cool island sun.


    DESIGN
    Many of the design elements of this game mirror it's predecessors such as Mario N64. The challenge segmentation of the game succeeds in keeping game play interesting as new elements (such as new water blasters) make their debut. I believe my gameplay entries for this game already touched on game design elements that I appreciated (i.e. Delfino's island environment) and elements I found frustrating (i.e. a lack of an "answer all" tutorial). However I have neglected an important element that brings a new form of challenge and interaction to the typical 3d platformer; the usage of FLUDD (Mario's water blasting weapon).

    I find battling enemies one of the most difficult parts of a game like this because of control systems. I played Mario Galaxy recently and found it nearly impossible to jump directly onto enemies. Even a small fault would result in me losing health by slightly missing them. Playing this game more has allowed me to really appreciate "FLUDD" . This allows Mario to attack enemies from a further distance, minimizing health loss. This makes the game more enjoyable as the player uses FLUDD more often and utilizes its special abilities. For example, one spout allows the player to spray water at enemies, while a different spout allows Mario to hover in the air as FLUDD turns into a "water-jet pack" (which is really cool).

    Although it is more difficult to loose health with FLUDD (a long distance weapon), I believe the game designers were wrong in limiting the player's ability to regain health (there are far less coins in this game than with other Mario games). I don't understand why there can't be more coins around. Using FLUDD from a distance means less health loss from direct hits (which I really appreciate as a not-so-experienced gamer). However, when I find myself in need of health, no coins can be found! The lack of coins was frustrating (since my playing style often involves losing health), especially in the beginning levels when I was first learning. I accidentally touched the sludge and lost nearly all my health. I then spent the next 20 minutes looking for coins to gain it back. (The game doesn't even tell you to use coins to regain life, one of my friends had to tell me. Are they assuming I have played Mario N64?) I feel this game isn't about "not dying", so why do I have to spend so much time finding ways to gain back life I have lost? I can appreciate that they make it difficult to actually die, but I wish it was easier to regain health. Hoarding your health isn't what this game is about.

    Although regaining health was frustrating, I was really impressed at how effective FLUDD was as a weapon and source of game play. I liked how he doubled as a friend to Mario through the whole journey. I really felt he was a strong addition to the game and fully contributed to the game's likability and "fun" factor.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 9th, 2008 at 21:21:29.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 16:09:58     -    Super Mario Sunshine (GC)

    GAME LOG #3- due 2/8/08

    SUMMARY
    Mario Sunshine is a 3D platformer where the player plays as Mario (the adventuresome plumber). After landing on the island of Dolphino with princess peach and company for vacation, Mario finds that the island is covered in a "sludge" by a culprit who looks like Mario (Evil Mario)! Mario must clear his name and clean up the island all while collecting "shines" (similar to stars from N64) in order to progress through the game!

    GAMEPLAY
    My first impression of this game was very mixed. First of all, I found the game visually stunning! The details of the characters and realistic look of the water were extremely impressive. The bright colors and Island environment contributed to making the game seem fun and upbeat. I felt excited and ready to explore the beautiful environment before me! I also found the control system very easy. Although his water gun (which is his primary way of attacking the sludge) was occasionally difficult to aim, I blame that on my inexperience with this game type. Even the camera angles were relatively easy to control . I took advantage of the "zoom in and out" feature which came in handy during battles. I also have to compliment this game on its overall mood. I felt the fun Island environment and music (reminiscent of previous Mario games) helped me stay in the excited mindset one should be in during a Mario game. The environment made me feel relaxed and calm, but many of the logistics made game play stressful and frustrating.

    Although the graphics proved impressive and the control systems proved simple, the many shortcoming of this game are already showing. My first qualm with this game is the cut scenes. The game opened with a (rather long) scene, and I thought to myself, "I'm glad to get that storyline out of the way, now I can play!". But only after a few short seconds of playing, there were more cut scenes! They felt long and terrible, slow voice acting didn't help. The cut scenes made me feel anxious and bored, when they should have added to my initial excitement. I know I can skip the scenes, but I don't want to miss anything important!

    However, I found my initial tasks even more frustrating, and sometimes downright confusing. There was one challenge where I had to chase Evil Mario to save Peach. I began to chase him, but then couldn't find him. Thinking it was just part of the game that he disappears with Peach (like most Mario games), I continued to walk through the town trying to find something else to do. If I didn't accidentally run into him, I may still be wondering around!

    The game designers must have seen that knowing what to do next would be a problem. To fix this problem of "not knowing what to do" Mario Sunshine has a news feed at the bottom of the screen which tries to point you in the right direction using newsflashes. The news feed was an interesting innovation (I know the designers are trying to help address a problem) but I feel it was very confusing and ultimately distracting. It is impossible to play while reading it as it passes across the bottom of the screen. Whenever I needed to read it I had to stop Mario and wait for the entire important message to roll by before continuing. This chopped up the game play a lot and the news feed rarely fixed the problem I was having. Also, the news feed usually refers to places to point you in the right direction ("It has just been reported that the guy you need to find is passing the town square"). But since no detailed map is provided, I don't know where these places are!


    The "fun" feel gave me high hopes for this game. However, so far, I have also run into many frustrations which prevent me from feeling relaxed as I played. I have left this session feeling that this game lacks in "intuitiveness". After a good thinking I have realized, most of my frustrations involve the game not communicating with me properly (I get stuck and don't know where to go, the game informs me on how to do a double jump AFTER I accidentally do it, the news feed [which is meant to help] is difficult to read while playing, goals are not obvious, how to gain health is trail and error, etc.). I feel this Mario game is not as intuitive or openly helpful to the player as previous versions.

    My overall opinion of the game play after this first session is:
    Awesome Ideas, Awesome Graphics, Frustrating Game play

    I am hopeful that as I continue the game will prove easier to play and that my frustrations will clear up!

    Till next time!
    -Rhibecka

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 8th, 2008 at 17:06:32.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 03:47:34     -    Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

    GAMEPLAY

    First of all, I fixed my TV settings and it helped make the environment a little brighter. However, I still feel that some parts of the game are too dark (even though these moments are rare).

    My first game session left me pleasantly surprised at the easy controls and solid world environment. After my second session of playing, I feel I can appreciate these features on a deeper level. Advancing meant reaching more challenging puzzles which I felt had a good learning curve (I feel the game gets more challenging at a good pace). This is important to me, because I easily get frustrated once I feel "stuck" or defeated in a game. After playing for a few hours, I still feel fresh and eager to reach more places.

    My comments on the memorable music and appropriate graphics still holds true! However, playing more did allow me to more clearly appreciate this game's unique plot and solid characters.

    After advancing further, I feel I can more accuratly comment on the storyline of this game. After my first session I felt comfortably intrigued by the small amount of storyline that had been revealed. Now I feel that the story line of this Zelda is a clear strength. I find the plot easy to follow and, so far, it flawlessly corresponds to the gameplay (which, to me, is important for a game like this). I feel this game has strong characters and does a particularly good job at making characters seems real.For example, we are shown a short cut scene between Link and Saria before you leave the forest. This small scene with simple graphics featuring the ocarina gift is really touching. Though only about a minute long, the game clearly conveys that Link and Saria value each other and that Link's leaving the forest (which is really you) holds great importance to other characters like Saria. Having characters the player cares about helps add to the overall gameplay, and keeps the game interesting. Small moments like this show this game's ability to convey important plot points in creative and memorable ways (which I see as a strong feature of this game).

    Overall I feel this game does a great job at creating an environment one would want to spend hours enjoying. The combination of unique places and great music help keep the play fresh, and steer it away from tediousness. I personally really enjoy the storyline of this game. Playing more has given me a chance to appreciate the creativeness of each individual race (from Gorgons to Kokiris) and the overall charm the game has throughout your adventure. Interesting puzzles, and minimalist fighting helped me stay focussed and not frustrated (I liked how the game was less about "keep from dying" and more about "get to the next part!".) All these elements made my gameplay experience well appriciated. I can clearly see why Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time belongs on the classics list.

    DESIGN

    Although Zelda clearly has many strong design features, I feel the individual level designs truly mark this game as creative. Each level takes you too a fresh and exciting location (which ultimating makes this game challenging and expansive). The game excels at making each individual dungeon level memorable by keeping mini-puzzles unique and connecting a solid storyline through it all.

    I was truly impressed by the expanse of level themes. Link in turn travels through a forest, a volcano, an ice cave, and even under water all in one game. Each level provided creative gameplay related to the environment and the theme. For example, in the ice cave you can capture a flame to melt away ice. Link uses this to solve puzzles unique to this level (you won't capture flames elsewhere during the game). Each level is able to have their own creative puzzles and challenges by providing new abilities during the level play. This greatly diminishes the game's boredom factor. Each place holds new experiences and abilities for Link to use during his adventure.

    Levels also allow for a game like Zelda to provide a giant gameplay world without being overwhelming. Having a clear level system kept me focused on a specific area. The player is essentially "trapped" in the level until the goal of the level is complete. This conveniently limits the player's options and allows the player to go through the game's intended obstacles; minimizing "what the heck do I do now?" moments. Having a distinct level for me to complete allowed me to experience a creative environment (such as a volcano) that didn't encompass the entire game. I liked being in a unique area for each part of the game. It really kept me interested and I felt that the vast number of mini-puzzles gave the player ample "hooray" moments which help keep frustration levels down. Almost every puzzle gave an item or new area as a reward. I felt that the game designers did a good job at rewarding me after nearly every challenge.

    Much of this game's charm comes from the level design. The fun of small victories leading to a level completion, the incorporation of small worlds that together encompass the entire game, and even the unique abilities Link encounters help make this game wonderful. And somehow this game still encompasses a strong storyline and memorable soundtrack. I believe the game designers did their job; they designed a beautiful game.





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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 01:54:59     -    Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

    SUMMARY

    The Legend of Zelda is an action/adventure game where you play a boy destined to save the land of Hyrule by obtaining the "Triforce" (an mystical object of great power). With sword in hand, you travel through each dungeon (level) solving puzzles and fighting bad guys in order to keep the power of the Triforce out of the hands of evil.


    GAMEPLAY

    My first impression of this game was a very positive one. Right from the start I felt the game's artistic elements blended very well. The graphic elements make each separate setting unique and engaging. I also felt the music really matched each setting in a way that enhanced the overall gameplay. For example, I thought it was clever that the background music while Link is in the castle, is the same "Royal Song" he learns upon meeting Zelda. These small details made my gameplay more fulfilling.

    Another element that I greatly appreciated was the control system. I am not an experienced gamer and easily get frustrated in manuvering characters and controlling camera angles. I was extremely surprised to find Link rather easy to control (he jumps automatically when needed, only one simple fighting button, easy assigning of items to "C" buttons, etc.). The small feature of having the "L" button change the camera angle to where the character is facing is a small way to fix a big problem of camera angles. The camera angles were strange at times, but I found it easy to return to my desired view. At those times of awkward camera angles I found myself mildly annoyed rather than hopelessly frustrated (which is where I find myself with most action games that require exploring). A simple hit of the "L" button put me where I wanted to be. The game's easy character manuvering and camera manipulation were elements I greatly appreciated and theefore enhanced my first gameplay experience.

    I also felt that the tutorial did a great job introducing the game while still incorporating an engaging gameplay. I liked that the game jumped right into the action while still including the tutorial, which helped make the gameplay engaging from the moment I started. I felt learning the logistics from individual NPCs (rather than a narrator or AI)made it easy to "be" the character while learning the rules in a creative way. I appreciated that Zelda's tutorial was clearly part of the adventure, and not excessive. Instead of being constantly reminded I am in a game tutorial, I felt that I was Link within an adventure the entire time, which made for a good first impression.

    Perhaps the only negative comment I have so far is that some of the rooms are rather dark. This may be due to my TV, but I find it hard to control Link in some of the darker areas where it is difficult to decipher murky surroundings with N64 graphics. Link himself is not very bright (colorwise), and occasionally he blended inconveniently with his environment. I found this very annoying when it happened (which wasn't too often). I believe making the main character (Link) a more distinct color may have helped. But in the meantime I am going to further investigate my TV settings.

    So far I feel the game has achieved a great storyline and engaging game play. Even as a novice gamer, I found the controls simple and easy to maneuver, which helped me get right into the game. The tutorial was quick and clear and well appreciated. I hope what I like about the game still continues!

    Till next time!

    -Rhibecka

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    1Katamari Damacy (PS2)Finished playing
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