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    Infamous Second Son (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 29th, 2020 at 15:52:25)

    I've played this a few hours (ok, perhaps more than a few) over the last two evenings and I've really been enjoying it.

    The beginning was a bit confusing, because it seemed like the game was a pretty narrow linear experience (ala Last of Us) when all of a sudden - it became an open world (ala Spiderman or Ubisoft games)! The transition was weird and confusing to me, but weirdly exhilarating once I realized what was happening. It basically happened as I was going through security (to enter Seattle) and all hell breaks loose - and I ended up going pretty far, not sure what to do, shooting things down and then slowly, as I realized I was not in "open world" mode - going back and picking up things I'd missed.

    The progression seems weird/interesting. Not in a bad way. So you collect these shards (or something) and use them to upgrade your powers. And, I haven't been getting them ALL, but it looked like I was really going to max out super early. This seemed weird, but I thought - oh, maybe the final upgrades are super expensive?

    So, last night I ran into another "conduit" (superhero) and then I learned HER powers...and now there's an entirely new tree with upgrades to buy! I wonder how long this will go on for. The new powers are cool - and I FINALLY feel like I'm powerful in combat, but I'm not sure I want to have to toggle back and forth between them, and if more are added to the mix?

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    Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary (DS)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:31:58)

    I've always loved Puyo Puyo. I'm not that good at it, but it's an evergreen fun game for me. I was really surprised when I saw this in Japan (and fortunately it wasn't expensive). Wow, they did a 15th anniversary version? Heck, they even made a 20th anniversary version (which I do not own).

    The game's entirely in Japanese. I can't read or understand anything. But, I did have fun playing what I assume is the "regular" mode. You choose a character and play against it and so on until...well, it got to hard for me to beat a character. But this was a while in. Before each "battle" there's a spinner that determines which mode you'll play in. You hit a button to stop the spinner and off you go.

    I'm not familiar at all with any of the weird/alternate/special/cool other modes - so it was fun to play them and randomly realize...whoops, this feels like a totally different game. I've only just realized the wikipedia page explains what each mode is called and so on, but I just had fun playing with them as they came up.

    I don't know if the different characters are meaningful in any way. I don't think there are special powers or anything like that. But hey... it was definitely a fun experience!

    My favorite modes:

    a. There's a mode in the dark with a flashlight that swings around partially illuminating the board.

    b. There's a floating in water mode - here there's a water line (pretty close to the top of the screen) and the puyo puyo float on water. As you stack them, the stack sinks, so making combos is sort of like placing them on the bottom of a regular drop - so, it's weird and took me a bit to wrap my head around.

    c. There's a fever mode that I didn't really understand other than: I think you fill up a meter, once it's full you enter fever mode which are like little puzzles you need to solve for max combo. You do a bunch of these and then hopefully from that dump a whole bunch of trash puyo on your opponent. Often I entered with my opponent into fever mode kind of at the same time, so I don't know how the winner is determined for the fever mode.

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    Jotun (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:21:51)

    While the game's "heart" is the bosses - it's structure has a bit more than that.

    Before each boss you need to clear two levels. Each level as a rune, a special power to find (shrine?), and a health bar boost (golden apple). These levels are all quite different from each other and, especially the early ones are SUPER cool because they introduce/feature something that is then relevant/important in the boss fight. For example using the strong attack to remove vines, attacking dwarves, etc. The environments are pretty, but...the more I played, the less interesting they became partly because they felt less connected (gameplay wise) to the boss fight. It's like the early levels had more time and polish.

    Anyways, I've finished playing, enjoyed it - but I thought the latter levels were a bit of a missed opportunity in this way.

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    Ben 10 Galactic Racing (DS)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:07:23)


    I'm not familiar at all with the Ben-10 cartoon other than seeing the character here and there. I mean, I don't think I've ever watched the show - so, if there was anything I should appreciate about the game due to knowledge of the show and characters, that was all lost on me. Big time.

    I still played a fair number of races - 1 vs 3, and I didn't really understand the boost/power pickup system. There's a bar that charges, but I don't really know when - or why - or what to do with it. But, it didn't really matter since I was able to beat the first 5 races or so without much trouble. I'm clearly not the target audience for the game, but I was curious to see if it was doing anything interesting. It might be better than I thought, but I'm not terribly excited to try further.

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    Jotun (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 24th, 2020 at 11:22:05)

    I played this over two weekends figuring that, as a smaller indie title it wouldn't take too long (or that I'd bounce off because it was too hard or something like that).

    I really didn't like the feel of the controls - things didn't feel all that responsive and the dodge/roll didn't feel effective, the strong attack took takes too long to little (perceived) additional effect, etc. And toggling between the different special abilities was really annoying in moments of stress - i really would have liked to map the powers to other buttons in addition to the regular switch from one power to another. Once you have more than three, it becomes a chore to quickly go from the healing ability to, say, the thor ability.

    BUT, I LOVED the art. The game is essentially fancy boss fights with beautifully animated hand drawn bosses (think old school disney or Don Bluth style) OR "not too challenging" exploration of cool environments. Here's what I thought was most interesting:

    a) Most of the game is narrated in a scandinavian/nordic language. (I'm not sure which, to be honest - my first hunch was Norwegian, but maybe it's Icelandic?). This was such an interesting experience. I very rarely play a game in a language I don't speak, and even if I do it's usually one of a select few (e.g. it's Japanese). I don't know why I enjoyed this part of the game, but kudos to the devs for NOT having the narrator speak in English. Yes, there were subtitles, but with the whole Nordic theme, it just made the experience better.

    b) The bosses were hard. Hard, as in it took multiple attempts. BUT, I enjoyed the fact that there were two curves at play with (pretty much) all the bosses. First, there's the "me getting better at what I need to do for this fight" curve. Second, was the "learn what the boss does and how it operates". This one was learning it's attack patterns and then figuring out what the best/good strategy for each boss was. I really enjoyed this part (except Odin, because I tried something - it didn't work, then read online that you could do it, and discovered the timing was really odd, and was only then able to take out Odin and finish the game).

    c) Before you fight the final boss (Odin) you walk past a hallway full of busts of...real people. I don't know if it's game devs or Kickstarter super-funders? Anyways, there were lots of them. It was neat, weird, a bit unsettling. Also, so many dudes!

    d) The game uses the camera really well to create moments of awe (panning back to reveal a faraway vista), but also communicate gameplay - in the Odin fight the camera pans back when one of his spears is approaching you. It's subtle in many places, but well done. Some of the boss fights got a bit tougher because of this (camera pans back really far, you're really small, and you need to dodge even smaller things) like the electricity during the lightning boss fight.

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    GameLog hopes to be a site where gamers such as yourself keep track of the games that they are currently playing. A GameLog is basically a record of a game you started playing. If it's open, you still consider yourself to be playing the game. If it's closed, you finished playing the game. (it doesn't matter if you got bored, frustrated,etc.) You can also attach short comments to each of your games or even maintain a diary (with more detailed entries) for that game. Call it a weblog of game playing activity if you will.

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    Shadow Of Mordor (PC)    by   Alex_Tingey

    I really enjoy shadow of Mordor. I found the game-play so far to be quite entertaining, and the game is visually stunning. I did have only one gripe, which is that conventionally the spacebar is used for jumping in PC games, however, Shadow of Mordor’s control scheme has it so that sprinting is the space bar, and sneaking is shift. Thankfully this is easily remedied by the excellent customization options. The story is engaging, I like the vignette style of narration in the tutorial and introduction area. I then liked how the game gave you the reigns so quickly after the basic tutorial and taught the player by having them play through the game in a manor that it would be throughout the rest of the game. In terms of topics relating to what we discussed in class I found it particularly interesting to note that the nemesis system is not the same monetization model as the nemesis system in the sequel Shadow of War. Shadow of War’s use of a pay-to-win monetization strategy through the utilization of loot boxes has come under fire recently, and rightfully so, as many players say it is impossible to play the game without essentially gambling through buying extra lootboxes to further yourself within the nemesis system. However, Shadow of Mordor does not contain this same monetization model, despite having nearly the same in game necessity for the nemesis system. This could call into question the ethicality of forcing certain aspects of gameplay to be more difficult by establishing various perceived paywalls as roadblocks to furthering in the game.
    most recent entry:   Thursday 18 January, 2018
    I finished my third gameplay session of Shadow of Mordor tonight, and I’m still enjoying it thoroughly. I now have about three hours of gameplay into the game overall and I think that I am starting to understand the sort of “flow” that the game requests of the player. I do have some critiques of the game, namely the somewhat antiquated and overused “tower” system that reveals specific portions of the map could have been made into a sort of territory competition with the captains instead. However, keeping the release year of the game in mind (2014) it isn’t quite as bad as other, more modern takes on the same system.
    The combat, while very fun, does start to feel somewhat less impactful if you don’t take a stealth approach, which has really pushed me to take said stealth approach to more recent missions. I think the stealth approach is also ethically interesting, as in whether you ought to take the stealth approach to missions to minimize the unnecessary casualties to the enemy side. Other games like Dishonored have explored this sort of ethicality, wherein if you kill people on the enemy side you get a bad ending, however I don’t know if there is any such implication within Shadow of Mordor, or whether there should be. While you really can play the game as a sort of spectacle fighter, beat-em-up, I think the real fun of the game comes from running around on the top of ruins and terrorizing enemies by dropping wasp nests on their heads, or simply coming up with creative ways to sneak around the various enemies. The skills of the game, such as slowing time down before shooting the arrows, or the stun skill which can be followed up with a huge combo is quite fun.
    To be honest I haven’t found the narrative of the game necessarily captivating, but I think that is mostly because I haven’t advanced quite far enough into the game to truly know what is going on. There is definitely a sense of authorial reticence within the game’s story design. Even with all of these criticisms I can genuinely say that this is a very fun game, and I’m not even upset that I had to shell out the $20 dollars to play it as I am sure that I will be continuing to play it on my own time throughout the semester.

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