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    Terra Nil (PC)    by   jp       (Jan 15th, 2021 at 16:49:13)

    I don't know how I heard of this game - but I'm glad I did! It's a game on itch! (

    It's a reverse-4X game which is super peaceful to play. I've only played the first two levels/scenarios (there are a few more). Basically, the idea is to build buildings, power them up, etc. There's also a tech tree of sorts.

    BUT, rather than exploiting you're trying to do the opposite - you're restoring the environment! The 2nd scenario ends once you've restored different biomes (achieving a balance) and then you have to recycle all your buildings, use them to build a spaceship and leave the planet all pristine and restored!

    The experience of playing the game is strangely peaceful and also beautiful. I was genuinely surprised once I had restored the weather system to see it rain, hear thunder, and then see greenery spread over the areas I hadn't restored!

    I haven't quite understood some of the buildings and how they're supposed to operate - but, I guess there's time to play some more and figure things out?

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    Moving Out (PS4)    by   jp       (Jan 15th, 2021 at 11:37:30)

    I picked this up over xmas break mostly because it looked like a fun couch co-op game to play with the kids. We've had fun with Overcooked and the sequel and this seemed...well, in the same vein.

    It is, and it isn't. Yesterday's experience was a bit underwhelming even as its obvious (especially from the overworld map you travel on) how much inspiration this game borrows from Overcooked.

    The game is a lot harder - at least for us so far - we only got bronze medals with a few silvers now and then. But the challenge is that we don't really know WHY we didn't do better. So, it was not clear to us what we were doing wrong. In Overcooked it's easier - mostly it has to do with the teamwork not being organized right - two people doing the same thing while a 3rd task is not completed, people getting into each other's way, and stuff like that. So, coordination is key - the rest is execution and efficiency. One of the things I've enjoyed about Overcook is how we end up talking afterwards about a better plan - and then are excited to try it out.

    We tried this in a few levels - but it doesn't quite work as well. There's a few times where "I'll stay by the truck, ya'll just throw stuff" seems to work - but other times it's unclear. I think that part of it has to do with the fact that some objects require two people and grabbing the 2-person furniture is awkward and unconfortable and often really wonky. We threw couches in the opposite direction too many times to count...

    It's also a bit of a letdown because once you throw things on the truck you're not done - everything needs to fit. We had 3 or 4 levels where the last item just wouldn't fit and we'd spend a lot of precious time just wrangling things on and off - which feels like it shouldn't be the point. Our strategy of trying to load the 2-person objects on first didn't always pan out either (you can't sometimes because there are too many other things in the way).

    I'm also really annoyed by the ghosts and the rakes. Step on one and you're stunned for a while which gets old really fast - the games' controls don't seem to be responsive/tight enough to allow for nonsense like rakes (and the ghosts).

    That being said, the game does have lots of options to make things easier - so I'm actually a bit excited to try those out. Specifically the option where something loaded onthe truck disappears. This should help with the really disappointing last-minute wrangling. I'll see what the kids think though...they might not be that excited to play this some more?

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    Senran Kagura Estival Versus (VITA)    by   jp       (Jan 15th, 2021 at 10:43:10)


    I picked this up because I had seen many games in this series and I knew nothing about it. I'm not sure it was worth the effort - but at least I now think I know what a Senran Kagura game is about?

    It's basically a brawler (in a similar vein to the Dynasty Warrior series). So, waves of baddies and you attack them. I guess I'm also reminded of the Onechanbara game I played not too long ago. So, there are combos, different types of attacks, parries and so on - however, I'm finding that I don't really have a lot of patience for this, I think mostly because the difficulty in the beginning is too low and the main constraint is time - so I'm not really being forced to learn how to use the different moves and what it means to use them well either. I can just button-mash my way through. I suspect the more I play the more I'll run into a wall of challenge but by then it'll be too late in that I won't have learned the right moves and stuff.

    Now, that part of the game is mostly meh. But it goes downhill. This might be because I have no investment or knowledge in the series but so far, in maybe 2-3 hrs of gameplay, all that seems to have happened is a series of introductions to teams of buxom young shinobi girls who are transported to an island, and then fight some other shinobi (also women). It's been like 5 of these - and there's lots of dialogue and reading and it's all just so annoying. Sigh.

    Also, there's lots of jiggling. The game is very much an "exploitation" game - minus the gore/violence. As you damage enemies (or are damaged yourself) your clothes fall apart. You can also "transform" (change costume and get new powers) - which plays an animation where the character is naked (with bright lights obscuring private parts), they pull a scroll from either between their breasts or groin and then the new costume is "applied" (I guess it's a typical anime-style transformation animation). So, all very titillating and jiggly. And, I'm just not into that sort of thing?

    After all the intro missions I've now unlocked the menu - and there's a shop where you can buy new outfits for the characters, with accessories and all, and so on. I guess if I was really into the characters or the story I might be interested? But, frankly I'm not. I'll play a bit more just to see if there's any real variation?

    So far it feels like a bit of a mess because I've played all these different characters - but only once. So there's no real opportunity to learn or get used to their abilities and how their attacks work (there is variation!). But. meh?

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    Destiny 2 (PS4)    by   jp       (Jan 11th, 2021 at 18:43:47)

    I quit playing in March 2020 or so, didn't get the expansion that was coming out around then, and I haven't picked up the newest one either. I stopped mostly because the social group I was playing with dissipated (or schedules diverged) and it wasn't as fun anymore.

    However, I picked it up again over xmas break mostly because some friends wanted to play and I said it was a great co-op experience. (which it is).

    And wow, stuff has changed and I don't understand any of the systems anymore (the armor, the upgrading, etc.). So, I'm just "levelling up" my light level - and swapping out better light-level loot and we'll see how far this goes.

    HOWEVER, I did get to play a few strikes with a friend new to the game (whose light level was, at the time, higher than mine!) and it was a REAL blast to play and vicariously experience the game's strikes with someone 100% new to them. It helped that I didn't remember everything necessarily (e.g. oh, here we need to do this to then do that and move on here) so it was "fresh" for me as well to a certain extent.

    And, it just made me remember and appreciate how good this game just feels to play and move around in (the shooting is still the best - feel-wise).

    Not sure how much longer this will go - it's mostly dependent on other people I want to play with, but we'll see?

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    7 Wonders: Treasures of Seven (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 11th, 2021 at 18:39:01)

    Yeah, there really is a difference between "well-produced" match-3 games and those that aren't.

    I decided to play until I was 50% done. The game hasn't changed at all (not complaining) so I figure there won't be more changes (e.g. new gameplay) to come and I feel like I understand it enough.

    I am super curious about one thing though - so there's a powerup that's a dice. When you do a swap with it, it explodes and takes out a random bunch of tiles. So, it's useful for last minute desperate moves. HOWEVER, I noticed that it always knocks out one tile beneath the "object" you're trying to move to the end-point in the 2nd phase of each level. This was super useful, as a player, and it made me wonder what sorts of things might be going on under the hood to affect the randomness. Here I'd guess it's random except for one tile always beneath the object - but are there more moments of designed-not-really-randomness?

    I did enjoy the 2nd phase of the game much more than the first - and the board rotation was undoubtedly more interesting than I first gave it credit (in terms of stragy and such). I also loosened up and was much more freewheeling with my use of the line-clearing power ups. The board rotation ends up solving a lot of the strategy challenges in regular match-3 maps in an interesting way..., when I play a match-3 where you have to clear the background (by matching on top of it) I find it's usually the smarter/more efficient choice to try to make as many matches as possible at the bottom of the level because you will often get "lucky" matches as new pieces fall in automatically. This gets more tiring the longer you play because you're focused on one way of clearing a tile with no real options other than try to match elsewhere and then hopefully "migrate" those match options closer to where you really want them to happen. However, on the rotating board this isn't a problem anymore since you change where the bottom is (and from where new tiles will drop). So, you can focus on one area, but then rotate to create new opportunities for fresh pieces to drop in from another direction. I'm not sure how to describe it all entirely - but it's definitely a more interesting play experience with less "now I'm stuck" feelings... At least in my experience with the first 50% of the game...

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    1 : jp's Terra Nil (PC)
    2 : jp's Moving Out (PS4)
    3 : jp's Senran Kagura Estival Versus (VITA)
    4 : dkirschner's Broken Age (PC)
    5 : jp's 7 Wonders: Treasures of Seven (DS)
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    Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (DS)    by   jp

    I liked it. There's some interesting gameplay, but the story made no sense to me at all.
    most recent entry:   Monday 10 December, 2012
    Finished it!
    (a long time ago, and I've just gotten around to writing this which is embarrasing to say the least).

    Ok, so what do I remember?

    For some reason I can only remember that some of the fights at the end were really difficult for me. I had to visit gamefaqs just to check that I wasn't doing something wrong, but no. They were just hard (for me). Sigh.

    As for the storyline - what a mess. I really can't make heads nor tails at this point. It involves memories, people losing memories, people going into other people to recover/fix memories, but then things get messed up, then you're a memory. Or you're in a memory. Or something like that, but in the end it doesn't matter because everyone is friends and will miss each other even if you don't remember. Something like that.

    I honestly don't know at this point if it's an issue due to their being too many different games or if Square Enix just loves the whole convoluted storytelling per se. I'm going with both the former and the latter...

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