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    Line Rider 2: Unbound (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 24th, 2021 at 15:46:21)

    I guess I shouldn't have been as excited about this as I was?

    The game's quite surprising to me in a few ways though - first the production values are much higher than I expected for what I think is a budget title (even if it's a sequel). Didn't this sort of game come out of the wave of physics-based flash games that were making the rounds way back when?

    So, this game features 3D animated (and rendered) cut-scenes featuring the game's characters and overall premise of the game (kids, rivalry, sledding, high speeds hijincks!) and there's also a full soundtrack! Even more, you can - while playing a level - hop into a jukebox and change the song you want to hear play.

    I've been playing the story mode and this is where things have fallen apart for me. I've found the line creation interface somewhat clumsy and confusing and the level themselves seem tricky in that I just need to go off trial and error until I hopefully succeed. You're only allowed to draw within a certain green box (or boxes) and you have straight lines or curvy ones and three different types of lines (normal, boost, brake). And, I don't know, 6 levels in (so, into "act 2" - after the tutorial levels) I just found that the trial-and-error way I was playing was just frustrating and boring.

    I get the feeling that the drawing is not as precise as I'd like it to be and the physics too stringent at the same time..or perhaps I simply haven't played enough to get a feel for the simulation such that I know if my plan will work or not?

    Now that I think about it, the drawing/navigating adds a little too much friction to the process such that each failure is more of a loss than otherwise. I have to pan, zoom, delete, re-draw test. I'm guessing that if I could delete/re-draw that would work in terms of the rapid experimentation - but with the lower DS screen being abit too small - pan and zoom seems necesarry.

    So, the whole experience kind of falls flat for me in that respect.

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    Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (VITA)    by   jp       (Jan 20th, 2021 at 23:08:00)

    Finished! Clocked in at a "breezy"(?) 8 hrs. I was JUST starting to get a bit tired when, oh, time for a final boss fight. I thought this was unusual because there was nothing else like it in the game but, fortunately it wasn't TOO hard (a few attempts and I was able to clear it). It all tied into the story somehow, but wasn't really all that memorable. The game is really just about the grind/loop of mining/selling/upgrading with not much else in terms of variety. Sure, there were secret areas, and the upgrade to see loot on the minimap was a great idea - it encouraged me to go back and farm some more loot. I didn't have enough to buy all the upgrades, but oh well. Not really complaining here.

    I did reboot to see if there was a newgame plus or something like that and apparently not, so - on the shelf it goes!

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    Night of Full Moon (iPd)    by   jp       (Jan 19th, 2021 at 19:14:50)

    I saw someone I don't know recommend this game to someone I do know on Facebook of all places. So, I've been playing it and having quite a bit of fun with it.

    I guess I feel like I'm on a "weak" spree of wanting to play deck-building card games and I had not heard of this one (I still have a hard time remembering what the game is called, I confuse it with many other games).

    So, it's deck-builder like Slay the Spire - with a few differences and simplifications. Overall I get the sense that the game is simpler/less deep - but that's ok. It's also possible that the difficulty curve was toned too low (easy) for my own skill/taste in this game. I've only lost once - and I've cleared the game multiple times with the starter characters though I'm still working my way up the difficulty chain. I'm curious what the hardest difficulty will feel like and as I continue to clear the game I keep on unlocking new favors (similar to artifacts). I also discovered a secret bonus 4 act which was harder than the rest (that's the only time I've failed, on a 2nd run through the 4th act)

    Differences with Slay the Spire?

    (a) You don't know what the enemies will do on their turn. So, planning is harder in that sense - you just go with it.

    (b) Enemies have their own decks/hands of cards. Some of which are like the ones you may have. This is pretty neat because it opens up the design space to mechanics that involve your using your opponents cards, messing with their deck, countering their cards, etc.

    (c) In a full run there are a lot more opportunities to upgrade your deck as well remove cards from it. I really like this aspect since it feels like you can be more strategic.

    (d) Every turn you can choose what to do from three options - so each "node" in the map has three things, if you complete one, then a new one takes its place. I like having more choice at this broader level. You can also eliminate choices (I'm not going to fight this monster) - which you might need to do strategically (e.g. remove a store and hope it refreshes with an opportunity for healing so you can fight a monster)

    (e) There are equipment cards and you have equipment slots (which you can increase). You start with equipment cards already on the table - if you have many and more slots that can be a huge boost/incentive. And there's also interesting strategy in picking which equipment card you want to start with.

    (f) You level up - and unlock special abilities that operate on cooldowns (cooldown is based on encounters/fights - so you'll get the ability back after 3 more fights). I find myself using these rarely or only on emergencies - but overall it's a neat idea. The levelling up is nice because they do things like increase your hand size or give you a chance to pick a card from two options.

    There's more differences, but those are the key ones? I've enjoyed all the classes and I'm on the verge of just paying for all the DLC even if I don't play it....

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    Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (VITA)    by   jp       (Jan 19th, 2021 at 19:00:09)

    There's a couple of things I've found interesting in my experience so far (I've made it to the 3rd "world/area/depth").

    The game is persistent in the sense that those tunnels you dig - stay dug. If you dig more - those will stay as well. This is pretty cool and it means that I'm effectively designing my own levels - passages, tunnels, etc. It works really well - though I'm curious if the locations and layouts of things (e.g. the special "tunnel entrances" where you pick up powerups are fixed or not. In other words, I wonder if the levels are designed or generated. I guess it could be either?

    The basic loop of the game is delve deep, get things to sell, sell those things for money, spend money on upgrades to make it easier to delve deeper. Most, but not all, of the upgrades are permanent - but there are some that are consumable. My favorite is the teleporter - and I always try to have one in case I paint myself into a corner of sorts - so I can teleport out to safety to sell my warez.

    However, I'm curious as to whether it's possible - via poor play/management to screw yourself over? I'm pretty conservative when it comes to spending money on consumables and such but I didn't know when I started if the minerals would "replenish" or if the levels were super large such that, if you really wanted to, you could farm/grind resources for a long time. As far as I can tell, resources are actually pretty limited - so in theory you could spend them poorly and then be stuck in a position where making progress is really onerous and frustrating.

    While I die every now and then, the game isn't that hard - but I have realized that I need to be careful with my digging so as to make sure I have a path back out. Again, could I screw myself over? I think you can - which makes for a really interesting edge case that I wonder if the game "captures" or if you just need to restart? This could be really bad... but then again, you might only need to restart in the beginning?

    Hmmm, it's a tricky thing. I didn't know going in what kind of game this was - is it a roguelike where you just keep on going until you lose and then restart with more knowledge? Or is this a RPG-style progression game where you're always getting better (upgrades, skills, health, etc.) and you just need to make your way to the end? Now that I've played a few hours I know it's not a rogue-like but I really didn't know in the beginning...

    Either way, I've been enjoying the core experience even as its starting to get a bit grindy (I'm essentially doing the same activity all the time even if the scenery changes).

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    Senran Kagura Estival Versus (VITA)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2021 at 21:57:51)

    I finished the first two "days" and a bit more (technically day 0 and day 1) and, while I learned that you can skip all the cut-scenes and conversation moments (that I found really grating), I realized I wasn't that enthused by the actual combat/fighting. Yes, I did lose a few times and while the difficulty was "easy" (low) and would get harder as I made progress...the entire system just wasn't that interesting to me. I think I wrote about this before.

    There's a whole shopping side to the game as well that I only engaged with to see what it was about. You can buy outfits, movies (cut-scenes you've seen in the game) pictures AND there's a whole mode where you can pose three characters. It's quite..uhh..lewd? As you play you unlock different poses and they're all pretty provocative (but - no nudity). You can also switch between the outfits - including torn outfits (like you see when you take/do damage) as well as lingerie. This is all really not my jam at all...and I guess I can say now that at least I've played one of the games in the series and have a general sense for what it's about...

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    1 : jp's Line Rider 2: Unbound (DS)
    2 : jp's Night of Full Moon (iPd)
    3 : jp's Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (VITA)
    4 : jp's Terra Nil (PC)
    5 : jp's Moving Out (PS4)
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    Defcon (PC)    by   omeysalvi

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Wednesday 8 April, 2015
    In this playthrough I wanted to explore the mechanics of peace in the game and see how far pacifism took me. I started a new game with 5 other AI opponents. I immediately set my settings to Ceasefire on all 5 opponents. I decided to focus on defense and laid down silos and air bases. I didnt finish laying down the defenses before defcon 3 and was left pretty much defenseless, but I thought it was ok since I was testing out the new strategy.
    As soon as defcon 3 began, I noticed fighting inside my borders between other groups. I was expecting collateral damage with a small negative score. There were groups whose total score was in the negative while I was sitting in the middle at 0.
    Just after defcon 1, I saw the white big letters of "Launch detected" flashing all over the screen. I began wondering if they were aimed at me and they sure were. I was getting attacked by ICBMs of all colors. As the victory timer started, I was sitting there with a 50 million population loss. This taught me that peace theories dont really work in times of crises. I would like to know more about the AI and what decisions it takes to come to the decision to attack me. I played another game after this where I sent requests to be allies with other teams but all of them went unanswered and I had another 75 million loss game.
    I got into this game session with the mindset after having read the news about the Iran Nuclear deal that had just gone through a few days ago. With nuclear war being a concern and the remaining neutral stance not working, I am wondering how much of the game would be a mirror of future struggles. I do think that human beings have evolved enough to not blow each other up in Atomic war. Today when many countries have nuclear capabilities, I think that by itself would be a huge deterrent for war.
    In last thoughts, I wish the game gave more options to make diplomatic measures rather than just a checkbox. I found it funny how if you manage to make a alliance and stay out of the war, you dont get any point for survivors. The game assumes that the player is predisposed for war and doesnt give any value to survival but rewards aggression. I understand from a game design perspective a peaceful game makes no sense but it would be a good game to try to just maintain peace in a world headed for doom.

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