jp's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Strike Force (iPd) - Mon, 25 Oct 2021 22:00:20 installed this because I had heard a lot of people talk about how great a game it is and that they've been playing for years and that sort of thing. And. Uhm. Perhaps I installed the wrong game? I'm not sure. There's definitely more to the game than what I've seen and appreciated, but I haven't seen all that much to be impressed by. If anything it's been the complete opposite, but mostly due to technical problems I can't really explain the reason for (for a game this "mature" in it's service). The game has a light tactical element - you have a team of Marvel heroes (and/or villains) who go on missions where they attack enemies "old Final Fantasy"-style: there's a battle line and characters hop over to attack and so on. Where your characters are on the lineup does seem to matter - but I think the tactical side gets lost in that character progression matters much, much more in terms of DPS and survivability. So, "team-ups" (when two friendlies boost each other) and status stuff seems to matter little. I mean, if you're really trying to get ahead - sure, you might be able to clear a mission that's slightly out of reach. But level the characters up will always be better/more effective is my impression. I've decided to delete the game not because I'm unimpressed - I was willing to give it a bit more time just to see...but because of technical issues. More often than not the game will load into a screen that is incomplete (missing art assets with placeholder messages) and would fail to load my roster completely (in the screen from which you have to select and upgrade your characters). I tried closing the app, and more. I even upgraded to a new phone partway through! (from an older iphone I thought might have been the problem). And no, the problem still crops up too frequently for me to want to continue. Oh, the game also has "daily rewards" (and monthly) where you get stuff for logging in on successive days. It bugged out 3 days in a row (the options wouldn't appear) and then on the 4th day, they appeared (and I got the bonus for the 2nd day, when by then I should have been on the 5th). So, sigh. Meh. I thought the bugs where from "still downloading content" stuff going on - but that doesn't seem to be the case, and I also have plenty of storage space on this device. So, who knows!Mon, 25 Oct 2021 22:00:20 CDT Dungeons (PS4) - Wed, 20 Oct 2021 20:25:22 this couch co-op over the weekend a few times and I guess my biggest surprise is that the game is a streamlined Diablo rather than a rogue-like. For some reason I thought the game was a rogue-like, but it's not. It's Diablo! So, dungeon romp where you kill mobs, pick up loot and upgrade your character. It's simplified - so there are no classes with abilitiesa and everything is connected to your equipment. There are three main slots for weapon, armor and ranged weapon and you can also load up 4(or was it 3?) artifacts which have abilities you can trigger with cooldowns. Additionally the equipment can be upgraded via enchantments - and here's where some randomness comes in - the same equipment might vary on how many enchantments you can imbue it with and what those enchantments are. I really appreciated how flexible the game is in letting you try things out. Each time you level up you get an enchantment point and you use these to imbue the enchantments and also level them up (up to three levels AFAIK). The neat thing is that when you trash an item that's been enchanted, you get all the points back. It's not quite an open re-spec (you have to give up the item to get the points back) but it is nicely flexible and doesn't make you feel like you've wasted points of given up progress or have to "grind" a new item just to make it interesting again. Of course there's an additional layer of rarity for the items as well. So, I've enjoyed that - and found it was really neat to try to get cool combos off different enchantments and artifacts. For example, I had some artifacts that summon creatures to help you out and I was able to kit out some gear with enchantments that buffed by summoned creatures. Something else I liked is that you can toggle your difficulty level from the get-go, you don't need to clear an area on default before being allowed to play it at a harder level. So, we played a bunch of levels on a pretty hard setting and it was just the right challenge, so yay! My sense is that the game is tuned less hard to make it more kid-friendly and accesible (a good thing) but we appreciated being able to max it out. At least in the levels we played it was a good experience. I'm not sure what the difficulty curve is looking forward in terms of the other areas of the game - but perhaps the difficulty might plateau too soon? As in, the harder areas won't get that much harder? I'm also curious about the enchantment points and what happens if (when?) we max out on those. So, once we all have enough points to max out each enchantment on all the equipment. We haven't reached that point yet (I think we're at character level 16 or so?) but I get the sense, due to the fact that we haven't played many levels, that we might reach that limit soon. I did see that there's a special area/mode where you must spend enchantment points, so perhaps that's what happens - you keep on accruing points but you use them as currency in the end-game content? Lots more to see and explore!Wed, 20 Oct 2021 20:25:22 CDT The Lost Legacy (PS4) - Mon, 18 Oct 2021 17:11:35 this over the weekend. It was a great time, lots of fun bombastic action, amazing environments, and puzzles that were complicated enough to engage without being too challenging or time-consuming to solve. Oh, the overall playing time? It hit the sweetspot for me. While I haven't played all of the games in the series, I think this is a really interesting entry. Obviously the first thing is that it doesn't feature Nathan Drake - but rather two women (Chloe and Nadine). The 2nd thing is that, I think, that this game was released as a middle-ground game - not small enough to be DLC, but also not "large" enough to be a full-on sequel. So, a sort of spinoff that was (probably?) not priced as premium? I'll have to do some internet sleuthing to find out. As a game, it hits pretty much all of the series staples - exotic environments, amazing architecture and level design, combination of puzzle solving and combat, etc. But, this title does a bit more than that - most of the last level is a big fight on a moving train. It really reminded me of - Uncharted 2? Or 3? This one also had a scene on a moving train. It's also got semi-open areas where you drive a jeep. And so on. So, without remember all of the series' highlights it's sort of like this game is a bit of a remix. So, takes some of the cool bits from earlier games, remixes them and throws them together into a new title. It feels very familiar, and I'm not saying this in a bad sense - it was comfortable and familiar, yet fresh enough. Maybe it's unfair? But, that is the feeling I had. I think the only staple "missing" was a "flashback" chapter? Actually, what I realized was really missing - or at least didn't work for me and even fell flat when Sam Drake joins in was the humor. For me, the games have always been action-comedies. Lots of banter and jokes and humorous situations (mixed in with the drama and such). So, very much what Indiana Jones has been. This game didn't really have the humor. Of course, the source of most of that humor - Nathan Drake - wasn't there, so I'm guessing this was a deliberate choice to not have a "Nathan Drake-alike" character come in with quips and wit. But, it does mean that the experience feels not quite like an Uncharted game in that sense. Which is strange. Because of the entire game, if I were to make a list of all the things that make Uncharted what it is, gameplay, mechanics, etc. - humor would definitely have been on the list, but I'm not sure how much I would have said it mattered for the "feel" of the game's experience. I guess it's a lot?Mon, 18 Oct 2021 17:11:35 CDT Boy Wario Land (VB) - Thu, 14 Oct 2021 19:18:32 I had played a bit many years ago, but mostly to check that my cartridge was working. Never "seriously". Last night I sat down - or more fairly, leaned in - and played this for a good 30 minutes or so. Maybe it was a little bit longer. I made it as far as level 4 - the first boss - whom I was unable to defeat, though I did hit him once. I think three hits and I'd beat him. I'm playing partly to know the game better - but also due to a project I'm working on, so I want to document some stuff. This is like my field notes: The game has various elements that play off movement between foreground/background. These include: - Spike balls that swing forward/backwards - Hopping points where you jump into the background, play around ona little level that's far away, and then jump back - One of the minigames has you jump back and forth repeatedly - it's the one where you're trying to stock up on hearts (100 hearts = 1up) - The first boss has two different attacks (that I've seen). The 1st wave of attacks come from the background into the foreground (swings a ball and chain) - There's a fish in level 3 that swings into the foreground, where it can hurt you. - Also some sort of shark/fish that sits in a hole in the background facing the camera, it comes "out" and you need to avoid it. The game also has a lot of parallax - and many layers of fore/background stuff going on . - Some level elements like the blocks look rendered in two layers, so the seem to have a bit of volume/depth.Thu, 14 Oct 2021 19:18:32 CDT The Lost Legacy (PS4) - Tue, 12 Oct 2021 16:42:24 played the first 2 chapters and, hmmm. Hmmm is mostly me thinking - wow, this is really interested to play back-to-back with The Last Guardian. On paper, the core gameplay for both games is (so far) the same - you're navigating an environment with a character controlled in the 3rd person. I'm expecting there to be "shooty parts" in this game, and obviously there's no large creature/partner in this game. But, the contrast between both games for the navigating a 3D environment is quite striking. I think they're both good - so this is not a case of one being better than the other, it just how the prioritize different game feel. Uncharted feels fast, snappy, responsive - this is necessary especially when you're trying to escape and people are shooting at you! The Last Guardian is slower, more deliberate and also more fragile. Both games are animated really well, so this isn't about the "quality" of the assets. To be fair I prefer Uncharted more - at least so far, I have not experienced camera issues or done actions I didn't mean to do. BUT, in Last Guardian it really feels like you're controlling a little kid who is strong and doing these scary things... It's also been a while since I've played an Uncharted game. This is bad because I think I'm supposed to remember who these characters are? Maybe not. Maybe recognition is just for the fans to enjoy? I guess I'm not sure, but it's not like I don't know what's going on in the game or anything like's just the nagging feeling that I might be missing out on stuff due to not remembering the characters. Like, are the women in the game friends of Nathan Drake? Competitors?Tue, 12 Oct 2021 16:42:24 CDT Last Guardian (PS4) - Thu, 07 Oct 2021 18:28:30 appreciate that the game was not super long (having recently finished it) and, I guess I'm still processing a lot of things in the game. Mostly trying to make sense of how great some things are and how other things are much less so - all while trying to figure out (for myself) how important/unimportant these things are. I think that what I've appreciated most about the design of the game - even when it didn't work for me - is the general freedom and openness of the experience. There's no waypoints, map, and barely any guidance into where it is your supposed to go or do. There is a "hint" system of sorts that gives some advice. I think it triggers after a certain amount of time has passed without "progress", but there might be additional triggers. So, the game FEELS quite liberating in the sense that I really enjoyed the sense of wonder and exploration of seeing and traversing these incredible environments that left me in awe and full of questions. Who built all this? Where are they now? Why did they build all this? Etc. In that sense, the game is a delightful experience because so many things are opaque (as in, not super highlighted or signalled to the player). I was often wondering - can I climb up that area, can I reach this place or that, and so on. Having recently finished Ghost of Tsushima - where this is a lot of environmental traversal, it was clear how much more subtle and toned down things are in Last Guardian. This felt much more natural to experience, though it often got quite frustrating as well - when you get to a point where you don't know what to do next. So, the game tries to balance these two things - let players figure stuff out, enjoy the unknown - but at the risk of (and it happened often enough that I think it's fair to comment on it) getting frustrated, bored or otherwise disengaged. I guess now that I'm reflecting and writing this out, that might be the general theme of the game - here's this thing that is really interesting and compelling, but it will fall completely flat on its face more times than you'd like, but not enough that you'll quit altogether. I'm also impressed by the restraint in the game design - it really is entirely about moving through the environment (with or without Trico) - there's no inventory, stuff to pick up (mostly), progression systems, combat systems, etc. It's super barebones - yes there is "combat" of sorts - but very limited in both options and availability. For example, early in the game you get a shield you learn to use to get Trico to blast stuff. However, you quickly lose that shield. Later in the game you get it back, and you use it to blast stuff - but the blasting is much "worse" (slower to fire). Also, it wasn't until the very end of the game that I realized that you could "pull" the heads of the moving statues when they're on the ground. However, it's a risky move, that takes time to pull off, and wasn't that much better than running around waiting for Trico to take care of the enemies. So, the game has its moments - but when it shines - oh wow! My favorite moments are probably those when hanging on to Trico for dear life as he/she/it leaps to a new place...and desperately trying to see if that's where I want to go (or think I should go). It was 100% vertigo. Audio work, the motion and movement of the camera, and above all Trico's animation - I could tell when he/she/it was about to leap!Thu, 07 Oct 2021 18:28:30 CDT Fortress in the Sky (DS) - Mon, 27 Sep 2021 11:50:09 Well here's another surprising little title! I've played 5 (6?) missions and I don't think I need to play anymore. So far, at least, the game's entire experience has been revealed in all its options and gameplay. It's fun, and small, and interesting nonetheless. The game is essentially a series of WWII bombing missions where you fly to the target, bomb the target, and then fly back. You don't have to navigate there, rather you play the roles of all the plane's gunners and, at the right moment, the bomber. The B-17 plane carried a lot of bombs and guns, with gunner positions all over the place (front, front/top, tail, belly, left and right) and when you're attacked by fighters you need to quickly move between the different stations to shoot at the planes. You move around by tapping on the plane location you want to go to and then pan around and fire. It's fast and pretty fun. Then, you get to the bomb run, here you need to pan left/right to align with bombing targets as seen from above while also panning down (then up) to lower the plane's altitude as you get closer to whatever it is you're bombing (shipyards, train depot, factories). You tap to release bombs and hope they hit. Oh, I forgot there's also an "avoid flak" part of the game - here you just pan the plane left/right to avoid flak explosions. So, each mission has three distinct gameplay modes (shoot down fighters - FPS view, avoid flak - top down, bomb run - top down). Pretty simple but gets a bit old after a while. There are 25 missions, so maybe things get different? But, I can't really imagine how unless they start to introduce new elements (you're shot down, escape in parachute). I mean, the missions where all pretty similar? (not to downplay, just saying there wasn't that much variety if you're not going to emphasize characters, story, and keep the elements mostly realistic).Mon, 27 Sep 2021 11:50:09 CDT of Tsushima (PS4) - Mon, 27 Sep 2021 08:55:55 finished this the other day. And by finished I mean "Platinum Trophy". I wasn't really expecting that, but it's the sort of game where every little thing led me to move on to the next little thing until I got to the point where I felt like I might as well keep on going until I was done. More than tired and done, I decided to put it down, I could have kept on playing and doing little things here and there...but I also have a large drawer full of games that I still want to play so it was time. I had finished the campaign/main story some time before and as I "wrapped up" other stories and located collectibles I was impressed by how well the game adapted to the fact that I had already finished the main story. Lots of small minor and subtle changes to the dialogue from NPCs, a few things that were explicit and so on. It really did feel like the game "knew" I was cleaning up. I'd be surprised if was the case had I finished the campaign a lot earlier, but still. It was also in this endgame phase that I really leaned into some of the mechanics that I had never explored that much. I made much more liberal use of the ghost weapons and really enjoyed, say, clearing out a camp quickly rather than my usual (safer?) quiet and stealthy approach that simply takes a lot more time. It was also quite hard for me to (finally?) ignore all the scavenging once I had upgraded all the suits of armor. Of the entire game this was definitely the one aspect that brought down the experience somewhat. And yes, it's partly my fault for going all "scavengy" in the first place, but then the game's design is explicitly encouraging that sort of thing. It's all a huge waste really because it's not like I ever used more than a few of the suits of armor really (the weapons and ammo I did).Mon, 27 Sep 2021 08:55:55 CDT Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (DS) - Wed, 08 Sep 2021 02:24:47 I played the first two missions and...hmmm... part of me was really impressed, but the other half of me was slightly disappointed. Now, this might be a bit unfair - I had no idea what this game was about, how it worked, and so on. So, it was all upside in that sense. And, I found there was a lot to be impressed by in this game even as I was confused at times because it seemed like there was so much. Before you even start you have to choose a pair of Jedi. You'll control one, while the other is an AI-controlled partner. The game is controlled (entirely?) via the stylus and has a really neat fully-voiced tutorial/explanation for each of the important things you need to know about. This includes jumping, moving, combat, secret areas, using the force, etc. And it turns out the game has quite a few different gameplay systems.... (a) Navigation is the 1st, and most obvious. It's entirely stylus driven and, nicely, you don't need to worry about speed - just getting to places. The camera is really interesting - it moves around (panning, zooming, etc.) in what I would describe as a cinematic way. It really makes the low-fi (for today's standard) environments seem more interesting. I was surprised that I didn't resent the lack of camera control though I did not feel that connected to the character (through the movement). (b) Combat - Your characters have both a health and a shield(?) bar that depletes as/when you take damage. Attacking opponents is as easy as tapping on them, but you can tap three locations (high, mid, low) and also execute different combos to stagger/stun enemies. ALSO, when you kill an opponent you can combo over to another one for more bonuses and stuff. For such a simple control scheme I was surprised at how much there was going on in the combat system. I think my favorite part though was that to engage in combat you simply tap on an enemy and, like in the movies (and the show?), your jedi simply leaps over there and starts fighting! The leaping part was the cool thing. Also, blaster reflection happens automatically if you're not fighting, which is a nice touch. You really do feel that these are jedi masters you're controlling rather than bumbling noobs. (c) Quick-time stylus sliding events - The game really plays up that these are jedi. Super athletic, fast, great reflexes, wild acrobatics, etc. So, these aspects are "recreated" via slide-the-stylus in a certain direction quick time events. I did get frustrated with problems related to its recognition of the stylus moves...but overall I think it was a neat system that was implemented well in the context of the game's fiction and so on. (d) Jumping - this one's strange. When you get close to an area you can jump to, an animated circle appears, you tap on it, and your jedi automatically jumps there. I felt it contributed to not feeling all that connected to the character since you're sort of one step removed from the action. Kind of like a point and click adventure game rather than the direct control you see in many other games. However, it's an interesting choice because they're trying to simplify things given that you're using the stylus - so the indirect control mitigates some issues? It does also give the game a slightly slowed pace/feel, and from what I played there's never really the need to urgently move around (except during quick time events) so, it makes sense? (e) Inter-Jedi relation(?) - There's a bar in front of each Jedi when you select them, and I noticed that one of the Jedi's bars grew by one (now two bars) after I completed the first mission. I assume this has to do with the relation between both Jedi? There's some sort of experience/upgrade system and I did find some "secret" things that I have no idea of their purpose...but perhaps that's connected? I imagine you can both improve the jedi's stats and perhaps also their attributes? Wed, 08 Sep 2021 02:24:47 CDT & Truth (PS4) - Wed, 08 Sep 2021 01:13:40, so everything I had left to play (all the way to the end of the game) was fun, wild, bombastic, and over the top in a good way. It was pretty neat - mostly like a great lightgun game! However, and this is a really, really big however, I came SO CLOSE to bailing on the game entirely. There's something really wonky about the controls and - despite trying to figure stuff out from the menus, re-calibrating, etc. I got stuck in a situation where I could not let go of an assault rifle. This was convenient in that I was able to keep it from area/level to area/level but it was really inconvenient when I needed to use my free hand for anything. The controls would alternate between holding the pistol or double-holding the assault rifle. I was not able to find a way to have that hand free other than wildly toggling back and forth and hoping it would "glitch" into the correct state. So, I spent 20 minutes crawling along a vent (one-handed) that should have taken 30 seconds. This does not include time spent reading stuff online trying to see if I was missing some "obvious" button I needed to press to put the assault rifle away (and then be able to pick it up again). In the end all I learned is that the move controls were glitchy and people complained about the big weapon holsters. Nothing about the standard control I was using. Later on I ran into another similar problem - fortunately "resolved" much faster, but it was close. Narratively? Interesting stuff, lots of loose ends and its definitely set up for a sequel. I'm not sure they're working on one though. So, you get your revenge - but there's no real info/progress on the "real powers" behind everything.Wed, 08 Sep 2021 01:13:40 CDT