jp's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Cup of Pool (DS) - Fri, 30 Jul 2021 19:05:40, I played this for a few hours and I'm TERRIBLE! But, I was getting better. A few things of note: (a) The game's interface is really interesting in that it's unusual! Rather than emphasize the touch aspects of the DS in a dynamic way - e.g. "Slide the stylus hit the balls" it's a really "technical" interface - you adjust angles, position on the cue ball and there's a force meter you raise/lower. Then you hit "play" and off the ball goes. I really liked this interface and I feel it plays to the strengths of the stylus without falling prey to the worst parts of the weaknesses of the stylus-as-input. I'm still not very good at the game - though I was getting better the longer I played. (b) The balls/table are all on the upper screen and for some reason I had a hard time distinguishing the balls from each other (playing pool, you need to tell colors from stripes AND not sink the 8- or 9-ball depending on the mode). I straight up lost two games for sinking the 8-ball (confusing it with another colored ball like the green solid on (7?). I also hit the 8-ball first (when going for colors) a few times giving my opponent a free hit. That was really annoying. It might have been worse due to light conditions - but still...I was also playing on a DS-XL, so larger screen than usual! (c) I thought about representation in videogames mostly because all of a sudden I realized I was playing against a Filipino player (a real-life champion, I know nothing of pro pool!) and I realized, wow...this must be SUPER rare! I remember being excited to see a Chilean pro tennis player in a videogame some time ago (Fernando Gonzalez) and it just got me thinking about how representation (national/ethnic/racial in this case) can vary from sport to sport and that the more "obscure" (to me at least) sports might be better at this? I have no idea how the world cup of pool works - is it always a player per country (representing that country) and countries qualify (like FIFA world cup soccer)? Or do the competitors qualify as individuals? Anyways...Fri, 30 Jul 2021 19:05:40 CDT Master: Egypt (DS) - Fri, 30 Jul 2021 18:54:36 I hit the "I think I'm done point". The game's grindy in the sense that you need to get resources to unlock city buildings. I'm ok with that, what I don't enjoy is that the resources you collect on a level that you end up losing/failing at (time ran out) aren't collected. That feels more frustrating than it should. What I did find interesting is that when you fail a level you play the same layout (level shape, background characteristics, locked things, etc.) BUT the resources that appear are different! So, you might go from being able to match the dynamite (that lets you destroy one tile) to matching the lightning bolts instead. The lighning powerup is better than the dynamite (mostly?) so I wonder if - when I played - trying the level again gave me access to a better power up the 2nd (or 3rd) time around? I'm not entirely sure, but if true this would make for a cool design element.Fri, 30 Jul 2021 18:54:36 CDT Master: Egypt (DS) - Mon, 26 Jul 2021 11:53:34 So, this game's structure is essentially the same as Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome (which I played not too long ago). It's a match-3 game with progression in that you're "building a civilization" (in this case Egypt, but it was Rome before). You complete levels - moving up - and also gather resources (from matching during levels as well as bonuses for clearing levels quickly). All of this from the story/campaign mode - I haven't explored anything else yet...Mon, 26 Jul 2021 11:53:34 CDT Double Tap - Road Trip (PS4) - Sun, 25 Jul 2021 18:55:15 this co-op with the kids about a week ago and we had fun, much swearing. I felt a little embarrassed but, to be fair, that's my own fault. I don't think I've seen the movie the game is based on and I know feel a little obliged to watch it with the kids just to contextualize the game a bit better? To be honest, I'm also a bit curious about the movie as well because of some of the game's levels we played - specifically one where you meet an old lady, protect her from attacking zombies (how is she still alive?). She then decides she wants to go visit "joe" (a friend, I forget the name) who's having a cookout. It turns out "joe" is actually a zombie boss and it's all a massive fight. I don't remember what happened to the old lady... As for the game - we had fun, but weren't terribly impressed. It's a twin-stick shooter, you find weapons from crates/backs of cars, equip them and then go... Weapons have ammo/use limits (even the melee weapons you can find) and there are also grenades, firebombs, and more. Fortunately there's no friendly fire (I think? perhaps we're just really careful...?) I got really excited when I picked up a mini-gun but it was a huge disappointment - it takes too long to "spin up" by which time my co-op partners have killed almost everyone! We had a similar experience with environmental hazards you can switch on to help kill zombies - they're interesting in principle but hard to use effectively and, in fact, some can also injure friendlies. Sun, 25 Jul 2021 18:55:15 CDT Man Adventures (DS) - Sun, 25 Jul 2021 18:47:03've played this a few times. The first was a disaster of a mess - I'm exaggerating - but the second was slightly better but a lot more interesting. The game is basically a platformer where you need to draw things in the level to help "Marker Man" along. So, draw a line and it becomes a "ramp" he can walk on. You can also draw circles around enemies to trap them into balls you can roll and draw different shapes around the main character to trigger/activate special abilities. I didn't know much of this the first time I played, but I then read the manual which explained and clarified a whole bunch of things. So, that's really why the second session went better. A few of the interesting things is that the game has a micro-economy in your pen's ink, which also doubles as health and there are restrictions on when you can actually draw special ability shapes - the restriction being (afaik) having collected enough pens in a level. So, for the economy - every time you draw you lose some life points (ink) - this prevents you from spamming the level obviously. But, the game also lets you delete the things you draw (great for correcting mistakes) and get some ink back - but not all of it. The special power shapes also cost ink (so long as you meet the pre-req) and, at least for the jumping ability, can REALLY change things up. Rather than drawing ramps everywhere I triggered it once and basically jumped by way to the end. The overall experience doesn't quite work for me though because the platforming aspects are a bit wonky/imprecise - sure, jumping with the jump ability felt really good, but it took a while to get there. The basic moving around AND drawing AND deleting your bad doodles was a bit too much for me on a DS-XL and playing lefty...Sun, 25 Jul 2021 18:47:03 CDT the Golf? (iPd) - Sat, 24 Jul 2021 23:04:31 remember seeing a demo of this game at...the experimental gameplay workshop at GDC? (or some event like that) and being both instantly amused and incredibly skeptical. The game seemed like a single gag that would get old and tired really fast. So far, the gags keep coming and working. It's smart choice to make them all "one offs", perhaps each gag will come back later "with a twist". If that's the case, it'll still work because by then the gag is forgotten and the fun is in remembering it again. I'm not sure how far along I am but I've seen lots of these short levels and I got to a point where I need to go back and earn crowns - which means doing new levels in the them of previous levels... It feels like I'm at an inflection point where the game will either shoot up in difficulty and frustration (thus losing out) or start to get stale because...too many gags? I've only played on two different sessions and the second time around there was even a "hey, you haven't played in a while" golf level gag. So, very polished humor with little details that are genuinely amusing and fun.Sat, 24 Jul 2021 23:04:31 CDT Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you Steal our Garbage?!! (DS) - Sat, 24 Jul 2021 22:59:01 finished the next area - rescuing/obtaining Princess' socks(?) and's following a predictable formula, and I'm not that interested. I've now unlocked a new ability for the yellow-dog-dude whose name I forget - but still... I can't really criticize the game too much, well maybe the backtracking is a bit annoying...but I just don't think I'm the target audience - fans of the show probably got a lot more fun out of the experience than I will....Sat, 24 Jul 2021 22:59:01 CDT Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you Steal our Garbage?!! (DS) - Mon, 19 Jul 2021 01:20:05've only seen parts of episodes of Adventure Time at best - so I'm not familiar with the characters, world, story, or anything other than what they look like. So, I think it's fair to say that this is a really weird setting. The characters seem to talk in a kind of slang I assume is from the show. The entire plot of the game (so far) is that, as the game's title indicates, the Ice King has stolen our garbage and we're out to get it back(?) and kick his butt as revenge. He made some sort of doll/statue from the garbage but apparently the revenge is more important because (by now), if I'm making sense of the story, I'm in a new area (candy land?) for reasons I'm not entirely sure about - but I think I left the garbage doll behind. Or maybe I'm on another quest to help some sort of Pink Princess? Anyways, I'm pretty confused - but not enough that I can't figure out where to go. The game alternates between a top-worldview navigation and side-scrolling platform levels. Most are quite simple but at least one level has been more complicated mostly because it had more screens and I needed to land on things appropriately to not die. Not really a challenge, just longer than everything I'd seen earlier. Combat is also pretty straightforward - press a button to attack and, depending on the button, I'll attack and do a certain number of points of damage and the enemy dies or not depending on how many hits in can take. Weirdly the game also has some RPG elements, since you can upgrade your three core stats to get extra health, do more damage, and I forget the 3rd one at the moment. Occasionally monsters will drop items and I think most of them are for healing. You can combine some for greater effect - like pouring syrup on pancakes or ketchup on hotdogs. They're food items. There are other things but since they drop much more rarely I've been quite shy about trying them out... I might just splurge at some point if I think I might not bother finishing the game just to see what they do. I think at least one makes me invisible to overworld monsters? For now I'm intrigued enough to see where the game goes, but not that excited either...Mon, 19 Jul 2021 01:20:05 CDT (PS4) - Tue, 13 Jul 2021 18:19:54 back of the box says "futuristic twin-stick shooter RPG" which is basically all you need to know. I'd add "rogue-like" to it and 4-player couch co-op. So, I played this the other evening with the kids - so it was 3 of us. We went in blind and came out confused/ok? You each control a "tank" that shoots and you collect loot which you then use to upgrade and swap parts out on your tank. There's two weapon slots, and some other components. There are 4 (or was it 3?) different types of tanks and certain components are for the different types of tanks. You can switch your tank-type in between levels which is fine. The upgrading/swapping parts out was perhaps the most involved aspect of the game - especially as we started to figure things out. Each player can pick up loot, but that gets locked to that player - so there isn't really a shared pool of gear and you often end up with the wrong gear for your build. You can scrap it for resources to upgrade your existing gear and the gear comes in different levels of rarity. Generally though, you're always upgrading to the stuff that dropped in the most recent level since the upgrades are capped and the power levels go up pretty fast. So, coordinating gear among players becomes an issue. There is a feature that allows you to "loan" out gear so others can equip it but a transfer system would have been much better especially if it had a QOL upgrade (e.g. send all gear of X type to player Y). I only bring this up because stuff on loan can still be scrapped by mistake...and then the other player is left with an empty slot... The main gameplay levels are "fine" - lots of stuff on makes it hard to tell what's going on and there is a bit of tactical thinking required - but mostly of the "don't go too far ahead to quickly". So, our experience was that we spent more time in fiddling around with our gear than actually playing the game. Although we made it all the way to the boss on our first (and only) run, the overall impression was not that good. It's possible there's a whole depth of secret things to discover/find and so on - but the first run was just not that notable or interesting. There's a system for skipping levels - which was odd. I'm not sure if the idea is to just skip time - as in, get to the end sooner, or if there's some other benefit (more risk for more reward). We skipped three or so levels in the end just to end the run sooner which, in hindsight, isn't really a good sign. I've been thinking about how it compares to Enter the Gungeon, which both kids really enjoy and is arguably a game in a similar vein. The levels, enemies (and bossed) are definitely more interesting in terms of variety - and the moment-to-moment gameplay seems more interesting as well. THere doesn't seem to be a way to dodge/roll attacks here (one of the tank archetypes has a shield) which seems like the main problem. There are moments where you just "take the hits" hoping you'll be able to live through it and the get healed up a little bit. In between levels you end up (at least I did) spending lots of your loot simply to heal up. So, the core loop here doesn't seem that compelling interesting. Again, perhaps there's layers of depth/secrets/lore - but the game doesn't even seem to hint at them to drive curiosity. At least from me. I could be wrong and a second run would definitely provide more insight. But, I'm not sure I'm that enthused to try it out solo? Perhaps a run or two just to answer some of the questions I still have...Tue, 13 Jul 2021 18:19:54 CDT (DS) - Tue, 13 Jul 2021 17:40:52 booted this up expecting it to be a "practice the SAT" app. The tagline "powered by Kaplan - the leader in SAT prep" helped. But, this is not what I expected! It much more friendly to non-SAT preparation than I thought. While it will sound faint praise, it's much more of a "dry" quiz/mini-game collection on math, reading, and writing. You could almost describe some of the games as "Layton puzzles without the art or the characters". Well, at least the math ones. It's basically a collection of games, earn enough points and you get a star and there are 18 stars in total to earn/achieve. To earn a star you need to play a specific game at least twice with a perfect score each time. And, some of the games are interesting (to me at least) Glyph - given a word, identify it's "roots" from available options. Definitely learned some stuff here, though it helps to know the meaning of the word it isn't necessary if you know the meaning of some of the roots. Predictions - this one was kind of fun! There's a paragraph with some blanks and you have to write in what the word(s) are that are missing as deduced from the context. Later, this is a 2-part mini-game, you're shown options for actual words (without the paragraph/context) and you pick the real answer. So, even if you got it wrong - you can get it right here. And it feels pretty good when you identified/guessed the exact word used! Ante up Grade - This is the weakest of the lot IMO, you decide how many points to bet, then pick the correct answer, and then you choose how many points. What's weird is that you have 10 questions, so you'll have to choose 1-10 pts (when you pick "8" you can't then pick it again). So, it adds all these extra steps to presumably add "tension", but the stakes are so low it doesn't really matter. Writer Wrong - Here you have to identify parts of a phrase that are wrong (e.g. bad verb tense). CUriously you first need to decide whether there is/is not an issue in the first place. Even MORE curious is that (same in Ante up Grade) the selection requires some timing/coordination - you have to tap on a slowly moving spinner so that it stops on YES or NO. In Ante up Grade you have to select the difficulty as a light moves across the categories - and, as I learned, the timing does matter! Grid Swap - This one's pretty cool as well. It's basically math problems BUT, there are 4 problems at a time and you have a grid with numbers and empty spaces. Once you've answered a question you have to swap number/empty spaces such that the correct answer appears in the space for that question. The remaining numbers/empty spaces will be used to put together the answer for the remaining questions. So, as you answer more questions you have fewer options/numbers to choose from. For me the hardest part was doing all the math in my head rather than on scratch paper, but good exercise? Connections - Here you're given two choices of question - answer the one you want. Weirdly, the four answers can apply to both questions! I didn't really see the point of this one since I could answer either question rather than be stumped by one - I generally opted for the one that was easiest/fastest to do in my head. Again, no scratch paper. The game manual is interesting as well! In addition to brief overviews of the different games it has a few pages dedicated to "review" some of the stuff from the SAT (like, this is how fractions are shown). I think my most serious complaint is that it often happened that I'd get a repeat question even within the same game session. By game session I mean having chosen one of the games above - you basically play it until the end (10 questions is common) and get a score. So, Q1 might later be repeated as Q8 which was a surprisingly poor use of RNG. The game is fun enough to play without caring about the SAT, and it tries to be more "fun" (game like?) with a robot character you can customize and the whole "collecting stars"...but still. I'm surprised this exists and I wonder how successful it was commercially.Tue, 13 Jul 2021 17:40:52 CDT