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    Star Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (DS)    by   jp       (Sep 8th, 2021 at 02:24:47)

    Hmmm.

    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?

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    Blood & Truth (PS4)    by   jp       (Sep 8th, 2021 at 01:13:40)

    Ok, 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.

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    Championship Pony (DS)    by   jp       (Sep 7th, 2021 at 17:28:39)

    Another example of "went in blind" and...uh...I'm not entirely sure where to start. The obvious is that I'm not the intended audience, but still - I was curious to know what this game's gameplay is about. Theme notwithstanding - what do you actually do in the game?

    So, the game is part "pet sim" but mostly it's an "action" game? This sounds really weird. It's not super adrenaline reflexes based action, but you basically have to control a horse (riding) in real time on a track (follow the trail accurately) or in an obstacle course (follow the guides for where to go next, and jump at the right moment). The 3rd mini-game (that I played, perhaps there are more later on?) is basically a pattern matching game where you see a symbol on the top screen and then need to tap on its equivalent in the bottom screen as quickly as possible. This one is dressage - where horses to fancy tricks like walk sideways and such. I don't really know much about horses and riding and all that to be fair.

    So, the game is basically a "horse riding" sim where you participate in events to earn money, which lets you buy better/faster horses so you can continue participating. There might be more to it than just this - but that's at least as far as I got (played in 3 tournaments, each with 3 events corresponding to the mini-games I described earlier). You can also groom your horse so that it's loyalty increases (more hearts!). I'm not entirely sure how this plays out in the game - I only played with two horses (starter + faster one purchased later) and... I'm not sure how your horse's performance changes? Maybe it doesn't? Speed definitely makes a difference - as I saw from getting a faster horse and then really getting a lead on my opponents (whom you never see - only names on a leaderboard).

    Other than that you can spend money on accessories for the horse and different colored saddles and tack. As far as I can tell none of these have an impact on gameplay (there's no +1 speed saddle, which makes sense). For a hot minute I thought this might have been a driving game! ("drive a horse" and then upgrade it). But all you really seem to do is buy new horses - which feels a bit sad to me - like I got rid of slow-poke 'cause it's slow!

    The game is also entirely stylus-driven, which awkwardly includes the jumping that I was never able to get to work right (you're supposed to double tap). That is, until I discovered you could also press the right trigger (R1) and have the horse jump. THEN, it works fine. Sigh.

    As I was playing I realized that - wow, there might not be another generation of games designed around the use of a stylus (rather than finger) and I thought that was a bit sad. Game devs had to get up to speed on stylus-for-input only for that to be mostly gone by the time the 3DS rolled away...perhaps by that point most people had given up? Obviously the finger replaced the stylus, but the experience is quite different!

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    Blood & Truth (PS4)    by   jp       (Aug 30th, 2021 at 23:06:45)

    I've just finished the "shoot out in the tower that was going to get demolished" mission trying to save "me mum". The mission right before that was mostly looking at things so it was a nice break...and I had to stop playing because I was getting too sweaty.

    The controls are still really wonky at times (using controller not move controllers) but, for the most part they do the trick. What I'm starting to get annoyed by is the main character - I really don't like him as he's a bit of a... twat?...a silent protagonist might have been better for me rather than an annoying gangster/soldier type.

    The story is getting a bit more interesting - especially since it's being presented out of chronological order. I'm being interrogated by a CIA agent - and then play missions he's asked about (so, tell me what happened at X), but NOW we're going to be working together! Something about a rival gangster who seems suddenly too well funded and organized as well as revenge for killing my dad and (as of the last mission), my mum as well!

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    Steel Horizon (DS)    by   jp       (Aug 30th, 2021 at 23:02:15)

    I've gone into this game completely blind having no real idea what it's about other than WWII. I was a bit worried that it might be a hex 'n chit style wargame that would be interesting on paper but unplayable in practice (the interface being the biggest issue followed by a convoluted and lengthy system of rules). I was not set at ease by the fact that there are 6 separate tutorials - 3 strategic and 3 tactical you need to do before I think it makes any sense to even get started. Maybe. I think I did 4 of them and then decided to do the first mission.

    I got impatient because, from the tutorials, I was getting the sense that this game might be like Advance Wars (bases to build troops, healing/repairs, turn-based) but with a bit more depth (groups of units together get bonuses depending on which units are in the group). And...so far I haven't had much luck (only played 2 missions) because I haven't run into the unit creating part that I enjoy...the first two missions still feel a little like tutorials (though I did lose one) so we'll see?

    The back of the box says there are 20 missions so...perhaps the latter ones get really long and involved?

    Oh - the game is a WWII pacific fleet game with subs, and destroyers and all that stuff. I think it's neat that you can (should?!) create different fleets with different ship types and so on...but strangely the battles are in real-time! I'm not sure how to play these well other than paying attention and triggering a special attack when it comes online, but other than that I just watch things play out? So, there's a rock-paper-scissors style relationship between certain ships. I've also just noticed the game has a manual - perhaps I'll read it to refresh stuff from the tutorial...there are lots of different ship types and I'm not sure I'll be able to keep them all straight..

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    Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)    by   aceyo

    My favorite N64 game, possibly one of the best action/adventure games I have played to date
    most recent entry:   Friday 23 February, 2007
    So I have began my adventure as Link in Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of time. The game begins with you waking up in the Kokiri Forest by your fairy Navi, because the great Deku Tree has summoned your presence. Apparently evil forces are taking over Hyrule... again... Since I have played this game before, I tended to ignore the NPCs in town and ran around until I made 40 rupees so I can buy the Deku Shield. It is kind of frustrating to not be able to progress in the game because some chump won't let me through to see the Tree that has summoned me. I think it would have made me felt like less of a wuss if the Tree itself told me to equip myself, but oh well. After purchasing the shield, I climbed into a the little tunnel that brings you to a maze area where you must avoid a rolling boulder. At the end of this mini maze was the Kokiri sword, which allows me to progress to the Deku Tree. Upon entering the Deku Tree, you are introduced to the first dungeon in the game.

    The dungeons in this game offer a variety of different atmospheres, as well as different puzzles and enemies. This atmosphere was fairly self explanatory, I was in a gigantic tree with ladders, spiders, and lots of wood. (On a side note I found it was actually faster to hold the strafe button down and run backwards instead of normally running forward) I climbed up the ladder on my left and proceeded to jump across platforms until I went into a room where the door locked behind me. The enemy in here was simple to defeat, I just had to block a deku seed he shot at me and deflect it back to hit him. After the dialogue, leap across another platform and receive the Slingshot, which is a key item in order to complete this dungeon, and defeat the boss. Then I shot the ladder with the slingshot to exit the room. I proceeded across a few more platforms, and shot some spiders out of the vines with my slingshot. After clearing the vines, it was time to begin climbing up. I then jumped off the platform and performed a diving slash to open up the spider webs to the next area. In the next area it was a matter of setting torches on fire and pushing blocks around to progress to the next area. After falling down into the hole, I was ambushed by three of the seed shooters, and I had to successfully beat all three in order to progress to the boss fight. The first boss fight is extremely easy, you shoot the eye of the spider to stun it, and hit it with your sword while it is down. Rinse and repeat to victory.

    Once the boss was defeated, it was off to Hyrule Castle to pay Zelda a visit. However, before I was allowed to leave the forest I received the Ocarina in a cut scene, oh joy. Now it was time to run across Hyrule Field until I reached the castle. During the day, no enemies spawn, so its more convenient to hurry the hell up before it turns dark. You can actually make the run before it turns dark if you go into strafe mode and run backwards. I proceeded to run through town and talk to Malon, who calls me a fairy boy. (Haha) Then I ran back out and back into town to trigger the scene where she moves outside the castle gates and gives me an egg. I climbed the vine to her right, and began my sneaking mission to meet with Princess Zelda. The guards who defend the castle are quite blind and deaf, as you do not really have to be careful at all to sneak past them. After sneaking past a few guards, it was time to wait till it was morning so the egg would hatch and I can awake Talon. While I waited, I pushed a box into position so I can make a leap into the castle walls through a small water way. It was time to continue my sneaking mission, however this feat was quite easy with how stupid the guards are. You can literally follow right behind them and they won't even notice you. After sneaking through the courtyard, I initiated a cut scene with Zelda who told me of her prophecies, and I learned my first Ocarina song. This is where I ended my game session.

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