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    Mar 4th, 2008 at 21:56:52     -    Raiden III (PS2)

    Raiden III Gamelog Entry 2

    Gameplay
    After getting the hang of the game, I decided to try playing it at the normal difficulty and got a friend to play along as well to see if the game got any easier. Sure enough, having two players cover opposite sides of the screen made the battles much easier and more fun as we coordinated power-ups as well as plans of attack for the seven bosses of the game. The multiplayer functionality of the game extends the game exhaustion of this game, as each level is different when played with two players rather than just one.
    Because enemies of the same type have the same shooting patterns, it became easier to dodge attacks once we started recognizing them. It also allowed us to prioritize which enemies to take out first, as the ones that shoot the harder patterns to dodge become exponentially harder to dodge if you lose your powerups and are unable to keep the amount of onscreen enemies to a minimum.
    Something I didn't realize until after playing for a while was the placement of power-ups and score multipliers. The game purposely puts them in dangerous areas where those who go straight for them tend to die on the spot. Not only do they cause one to move further upscreen and more likely to die sooner, but they also distract one from all the enemies and onscreen fire, which adds a temptation element to this game. Do I play it safe and forget about the score multiplier or do I go for it and achieve a higher score? This element seems to work best against boys, who place a higher value on competition and elitism than girls do.

    Design
    Without bombs, this game would be impossible for me. Not only do bombs typically take out every onscreen enemy or do a lot of damage to a boss, but they also eliminate all onscreen enemy fire. This is particularly useful when too many enemies appear or your ship cannot avoid a shooting an oncoming shot pattern. The respite they provide is particularly useful, as the amount of action in this game rapidly wears down your focus as the onslaught never ends.
    The power-up choices significantly affect the gameplay experience of Raiden III. The vulcan cannon makes it much easier to eliminate small foes rapidly, but makes it harder to kill larger enemies due to the spread unless you move closer to them, which is risky. The straight laser makes it harder to destroy enemies spread across the screen, but makes short work of larger foes as well as enemies in a line. The proton laser can cover the whole screen by moving back and forth small distances, but can be harder to focus on larger enemies. In a way, the different power-ups make an entirely different game and require different approaches to the enemy hordes of each level.
    There also some extra modes available for those who get bored of story mode or complete it. Score attack allows players to replay single levels to try and achieve the maximum score possible. It also doubles as a practice mode as you can replay a level you beat over and over in order to master it and easily beat it in story mode with a minimum amount of deaths. The boss attack mode also adds the same functionality as score attack, but for the hardest enemies in the game. By memorizing boss attack patterns and streamlining their destruction, the game becomes much more manageable to beat on a single continue.
    One of the difficulties in the high score mechanic of this game lies in the fact that your score gets reset when you use a continue, which would equate to inserting another coin in the arcade machine. This is definetely a hardcore gamer feature as players can spend hours mastering the game in attempt to beat it on a single continue or even a single life in order to achieve the highest score possible.

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    Mar 4th, 2008 at 21:52:49     -    Raiden III (PS2)

    Raiden III Gamelog Entry 1

    Summary
    Raiden III represents the classic shmup that many have come to love. The gameplay is simple: players control a small ship through a number of levels with increasing amounts of enemies that must be destroyed and/or avoided in order to reach the boss at the end of each level. To help with the increasing swarms, powerups and bombs can be collected and deployed to make the task slightly easier.

    Gameplay
    Despite the flashier graphics and bomb effects, Raiden III essentially plays the same as the first one that I played in arcades as a child: press one button to shoot, press one button to use a bomb, and use the analog stick or d-pad to dodge enemies, bullets, and collect powerups.
    While the game is simple to pick up, it is quite difficult to play even through the first level. Because you die after either colliding with a ship or an enemy's bullet, spatial awareness and fast reflexes are essential to survive. Having not played many shmups as of late, the game quickly took me apart. Fortunately, I could lower the difficulty as well as increase the amount of lives I got per credit, which allowed me to build up my proficiency in the game without repeatedly failing on the first couple levels.
    The bosses added an epic dimension to the game as well as the music changes and the insanity begins. They tended to be deceiving as their shooting patterns were easy to dodge at first. But once they got closer to dying, the patterns became insane to the point where only a virtuoso of the series could avoid dying at least once.
    While the game appears progressive because of the linear level progression of the game, it is largely emergent because the amount of power-ups you've collected, which type you're using, and how many bombs you have make each moment in the game different than the last play-through. Some sections might have been a breeze since you had your shots powered up to the maximum while they may be hell on another play-through because you just died.
    Speaking of dying, it's rather painful in this game. When you die, besides losing a life, you also lose one level of power-up permanently. This really hurts on the last few levels, as enemies become too numerous if you don't have the maximum level of power-ups for your ship. For some, this can deter people from finishing the game. Overall, this game appears to appeal to hardcore shmup gamers due to the level of difficulty and death functionality in Raiden III.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:55:25     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    Shadow of the Colossus Gamelog Entry 2
    Gameplay
    For the second round of gameplay, I switched off with a friend after each colossus was defeated. The game has a fun social aspect despite being single player as the other person can focus on examining the colossus for its weaknesses. When you're playing, it's much harder to do when your avoiding the colossus' giant feet or desperately jumping around the colossus in an attempt to scale it.
    As we progressed through the game, the challenges became more difficult. For one, it quickly became essential to use your environment in order to defeat your opponent. For the second boss, I found it too intense to stay on level ground and try to hit his hoof with an arrow, but by going on a hill he couldn't scale, life became much easier. I felt a sense of accomplishment by using my environment strategically and commend the developers for adding this strategy element to the game. It also adds to the game's replayability because you can fight the colossi again after the game is completed; you could spend hours trying to find all the different ways to kill them as easily or as perilously as you choose.
    The variety of the colossi also added to the difficulty of the game, as you had to study their anatomy each time to assess how to get onto the beast and scale it to reach their weakpoints. Some have hair, some swing large weapons you can climb, etc. As a result, although you only fight sixteen colossi for the game, it never becomes redundant and feels like a reward as you defeat one colossus and gain the ability to tackle the next one.

    Design
    The decision to downplay health in the game was an interesting choice because it put more emphasis on the puzzle aspects of the game. Because your health rejuvenates over time and getting stomped on once or even falling from the top of the colossus isn't fatal, the game takes on a more cinematic quality as you can focus more on the epic scale of task at hand rather than just trying to survive.
    Another interesting design decision lies in the lack of monsters aside from the colossus. Again, this choice gives the game a more cinematic quality as you can enjoy the gorgeous countryside that you traverse to get to each colossus.
    To deal with the intense strain the game's graphics put on the playstation two, the graphics blur a little when you move rapidly or if a lot is going on onscreen. While this could be a liability in some situations, it makes the action feel more dramatic and ultimately is a benefit to gameplay.
    Admittedly, there are lizards and birds you can kill in the game, but they aren't hostile and drop permanent health boosts and even additional weapons to aid you in your quest. This prolongs the game's inevitable exhaustion point as you can spend additional time trying to find all the extra power ups spread throughout the game world.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:56:22.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:54:57     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    Shadow of the Colossus Gamelog 1

    Summary

    As a platform/action adventure game, Shadow of the Colossus puts players in control of a warrior who's charged with destroying sixteen giant colossi in order to revive a girl. The mechanics are simple enough, as the warrior has a bow and sword for combat and the ability to jump, ride a horse, and climb things. Despite these limited amount of actions, the game succeeds to innovate through creative level design concerning uniqueness of each colossi's weaknesses.

    Gameplay
    The graphics immediately struck me as fantastic for the Playstation 2. The level of detail, lack of loading times, and blurry landscape in the distance created an epic world that felt limitless and non-linear as you could travel wherever your character could reach at any point in the game. While the game does allow you to go anywhere, it still progresses linearly as you flash your sword under sunlight to reveal where to go for the next chronological colossus.
    From the first boss, I could tell this was no ordinary hack-and-slash game. After foolishly dying while trying to simply strike my foe, it became clear that it takes more than a couple button combinations to succeed in this game. Because each boss contains specific weak spots that require the player to scale the colossus in order to strike them, you're forced to look for ways to get on the creature and use your surroundings to help you reach them, which lies at the core of this game's innovation.
    But it was no simple matter to climb up the beast. Because you have a limited amount of time that you can hang onto an object, you have to scale quickly, adding a frantic, exciting pace to the game. The colossi often try to shake you off as you scale them, adding a random factor that keeps you on your toes.
    After defeating the first colossus, I was then given free rein to find the next colossus when I was ready. While the game is progressive, the game feels non-linear because you can go anywhere in the game world at any time. This was an innovative feature because the graphics for this game are some of the best on the playstation two and I could explore the world without any pressure to get somewhere immediately.

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