GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Triangle: Saving the Coral (DS) - 24 May 2022 - by jp just noticed the game's subtitle...and I guess it's thematically appropriate? I mean, this is a game that's sort of about saving the coral but not in any meaningful way. It's a match-3 type game, but...with a twist. The game is upside down from what I'm normally used to. And it's like puzzle bobble/snood in that the field fills up over time and your job is to keep things under control. If things get too full (here if elements get to low on the screen - deeper underwater), then you lose. What's unusual is that in most of these games you're at the bottom firing stuff to the items that are this game you're at the TOP and you get to place a new item wherever you want along the top row. If the space is not empty, then whatever is there gets shifted down (and might also go diagonal a bit). It makes sense because you're a boat, so you're sort of dropping these things on the surface, and that makes everything underneath that sink lower..and adjust. Things disappear when you match of course and the matches must be in a straight line (diagonal or horizontal, you can't have a vertical line because the grid is basically hex-based). There are different colored elements (they kind of look like sea urchins? Some with spikes and others without) and you're supposed to clear a certain amount (get to a 100% completion) to clear the stage and move on to the next one. This wasn't that interesting... THere are also at least four items you can use to make things easier - like bombs that explode, color balls that make all the elements of a color disappear, and the like. The strangest are the anchors you use to take out these snails that slink along the bottom and pause to munch on coral. All this does is sets you back in your completion rate - so I guess the things you're dropping into the water to match are "coral" that might get eaten by these snails? Oh, the usual "drop" that happens automatically here takes place from the bottom up - stuff floats up making the entire structure hang lower (and thus closer to your losing). Using objects is a bit annoying in terms of the interface - you have to tap to bring up an item selector list, tap the item you want and then, for the anchor, tap where you want it to drop. Hopefully the snail hasn't moved. So, I mostly ignored the items as I played may way around the 1st island (there are at least four). THere's also a squid that "inks" items so you can't make's a bit annoying, but the game is rather chill - not very difficult from what I played, but still. I guess as a twist on match-3 it is interesting and worth taking a look at. I enjoyed not having to aim - as you have to do in other games of this style (e.g. snood).jpTue, 24 May 2022 19:09:58 UTC Traffic Chaos (DS) - 24 May 2022 - by jp games boxart makes it seem like the game is a wacky take on air traffic control in which "hijinks ensue" or something like that. It's actually a pretty serious/button down game - you're air traffic control and you must make sure your planes leave on time, land on time, have gates assigned to them and that planes don't spend too much time in a holding pattern and, more importantly don't crash into each other as they taxi around (or fly into each other). I played the first airport on the 3 difficulty levels and - it's a surprisingly slow-paced game. You talk to the plan and authorize them to push back from the gate and you wait. There's a lot of waiting involved. This makes it hard to figure out the timing - will this plane take off in time before this other one needs to land? The tutorial explains all the different steps in the takeoff and landing process except for one...and this is the one that gave me the most trouble. When planes are coming in you can tell them to speed up or slow down (there are other options, like assigning a runway and clearing them to land). I never figured out what the speed up/slow down options were for. It wasn't clear to me if I was instructing planes to slow down to a certain speed (180 knots) or if to slow down by 180 knots. I have no idea how fast/slow a knot is in airspeed...also, when and why would I want a plane to speed up? I only lost once - when two planes on the ground collided as one taxied to its gate and the other made its way to the runway to take off. Oops. But, like I said there can be a significant delay between an instruction/command and it being done - so it was hard to gauge when to start a new action from another plane and so on. Not complaining, just trying to justify the single accident! What was most surprising is that the game has RUMBLE SUPPORT! I'd forgotten this was even a thing on the DS. Would only work on the older DS models - the ones with both a DS and a GBA cart slot. The rumble pack is essentially a GBA cart that goes into that slot, with the DS game in the DS slot. I think one of the pinball games used it? (Metroid Pinball perhaps? What a great game). Anyways, that was a real surprise, since the game isn't Nintendo first-party, but rather a Majesco-published game. Also, the game supports up to 8 players in a multi cart setup (each player with their own cart). Wow! I wonder how that played? Do planes that take off on my game land in other players? Are we passing flights to each other? Is it a score chase? (boo, lame) The game's manual has zero information on this, which was a disappointment, but still...I'm intrigued. Not enough to buy 7 copies of the game and try to get 7 others to play...but hey. It makes you wonder why the feature was added in the first place?jpTue, 24 May 2022 18:12:20 UTC Rebirth (PC) - 22 May 2022 - by dkirschner've sat down to play this a few times. I almost quit after the first time though! I was getting super frustrated going around in circles in the dark trying to figure out a puzzle. There is a room with a radio, but there's no obvious way inside. On the second floor of the building, there is a weak floor (you know this because your character, Tasi, comments on it and says if it collapses, that would be a quick way down to the radio room). Well, I found a huge, heavy barrel and rolled it to the weak floor. Nothing. I jumped up and down. Nothing. I wandered round and round in the dark, my eyes getting more and more tired. I wasn't scared. I hadn't been scared the whole game. It was just dark and I used all my matches and I couldn't make this stupid floor break. So I looked it up online. You have to roll a cannon onto the floor. There is a cannon nearby, but it's on a concrete block and missing two wheels. I didn't think I could move the cannon because it was on a concrete block and I couldn't remove the concrete block. But, I learned you have to find two wheels and put those on first. Putting wheels on the cannon makes it so you can move the concrete block. (You can't move the concrete block from under the cannon, but you can somehow lift the cannon enough to fit wheels on. Okay.) This is how I learned that Amnesia: Rebirth uses physics puzzles and that (as usual) I need to be more patient! I wanted to quit out of spite. "Pshh, this isn't as scary as The Dark Descent." But I decided not to be petty and forge ahead. Good decision, I think. The story is intriguing, even if the gameplay is a bit bland. You play as Tasi, a pregnant woman who is part of an expedition to the Algerian desert. The plane goes down and the rest of your expedition is missing when you wake up in the wreckage. The game is very much a "walking simulator." You'll read a lot of notes and solve some (so far) easy puzzles. The most challenging thing is navigating in the dark, but when you are in pitch black and becoming afraid, the environment turns this grey-blue color so you can see a little bit. Without light (matches, with which you can light candles and things in the environment, and your lantern, which requires fuel), you will miss interactable objects that you need. So what I usually do is try to navigate my way around in the grey-blue, and if I get stuck, I start lighting candles to see if I missed anything. It's methodical and kind of fun to know that I'm progressing mostly in the dark. The intrigue is that, it being the desert, and there being a Muslim influence in Northern Africa, there are djinns, spirits in the desert. An older civilization buried under the rocks and sands maybe worshipped one of them, or some goddess. They could travel back and forth between two planes of existence, and Tasi can too when she finds herself in possession of a mysterious amulet. So, as you journey beneath the desert on the trail of your expedition comrades, you also journey back and forth through these planes, following a spirit (and avoiding ghuls and whatever other nasties are out there). The stakes aren't high though. You can't die. You "respawn" feet from where you "died" and it's like nothing happened. So hiding from the ghuls, taking care not to jump from a ledge, none of it matters. Once I learned the appropriate frame for the game, I began to enjoy it. I now see it as a story game more than a horror game, and that's fine. My expectations were off. But now I'm looking forward to unraveling this mystery and finding out why Tasi is maybe both alive and dead, and what's up with her fetus. I feel like they're going to throw some weird curveball at me!dkirschnerSun, 22 May 2022 17:32:47 UTC the King (PS4) - 16 May 2022 - by jp, super intrigued by this - played for several hours and the game is incredibly inscrutable in those first few hours because there is SO MUCH GOING ON. For Roguelikes I keep coming back to the question of how long is the intended run/session intended. I struggle with the ones that are a bit too long - Slay the Spire is probably too long for me, BUT - the game is focused enough in terms of the rules/mechanics/systems that I feel like I can continue to learn. THis game seems way too big for me in that sense. I was making progress, making progress, and it just kept on going. So, I had no idea if/when I was making bad strategic choices - the feedback loop might be too long there so as to know what I want to do next. To make matters worse - if I recall - the text on things was super small and hard to read from the comfort of my couch. I see this happen so often that I really wonder what is going on at Sony that they're not catching these things when they do approvals? Perhaps I'm "playing it wrong" since the game says it supports 2-3 online networked playes? Is the intended experience one where each player controls a character? (you have a party of three) I may have played inefficiently because I wasn't sure if I should try to keep them all together - send the characters off separately (riskier if combat). ANyways, they really leaned into the campaign style boardgame here and I was intrigued and interested as I played - but suddenly the board opened up in a massive way and I realized the entire map was much larger than expected and that I was woefully underpowered for the next area and I just kind of sighed, shrugged and realized that I wasn't sure that I wanted to re-start what was already a multi-hour session.... We'll see....jpMon, 16 May 2022 19:11:39 UTC Knight (PS4) - 16 May 2022 - by jp've realized I don't have time to spend backtracking all over the place as I try to figure out where I'm supposed to go next - to then die, because new enemy, and having to backtrack all over the place again. Sigh. This game's simply not for me. I've got too many other games just sitting there waiting to be played. Another way to think about this is that I'm just not that excited or interested to play it - there's plenty of games in the sea, as it where, why not spend the time with the ones you're really enjoying? This makes me appreciate Celeste's efforts for difficulty accesibility all the more - I was able to keep on going and adjust as needed. But, this game simply isn't designed that way - and I don't think it's about the "genre" (platformer vs metroidvania platformer), but about the design choice of how frequently to place checkpoints, whether or not to allow quick-saving and so on. For me, it really drags down the experience - again, that's for me - so your mileage will vary.jpMon, 16 May 2022 19:03:42 UTC of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (DS) - 15 May 2022 - by jp, the reviews mostly complained that it was a lightweight game (probably compared to the console ones) and sure, that might be true - I think the game is pretty short. BUT, for a DS title I was really impressed by how well it works and how much variety there is in the level design and how the progression of gameplay elements and challenge is rolled in slowly but deliberately.jpSun, 15 May 2022 21:46:08 UTC of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (DS) - 15 May 2022 - by jp wow, this game is so much better and more interesting than I expected! It's a legit Prince of Persia sands of time followup in that there are time-altering mechanics (you get the rewind pretty early, then there's a slow-down time, and there's one more I don't recall) and you have limited uses based on how much sand is in the dagger you have. So, like the same idea as the original PoP:Sands of time game! Visually the game is pretty interesting as well - the art direction is stunning considering that the assets are all 3D and incredibly low-poly. Like, really, really pre-PS1 era style. But, so well made that they actually communicate things pretty effectively, and the action is super smooth, and animations flow well just feels like a really nice game to play. There's lots of levels, lots of variety between them - some are more puzzley, others more action oriented, and the game slowly introduces new mechanics and things, and isn't afraid to switch things up. There's a riding on your horse level of all things! (there might be more wild ones, but I only played about half the game) There's also a small progression system with upgrades you can buy to get more life bar, more sand, do more damage and change your outfit. You buy them with gems you find in the game - there are also often secret chests to locate - and as far as I can tell the game is pretty generous with gems and stuff. What has impressed me the most about the game - in addition to its smooth gameplay, is how everything is done with the stylus and it works! You move, attack, duck, jump, etc. all with the stylus! Ubisoft really leaned into the (presumed) mandate of making the game an unique DS experience and they really did a great job with the controls here. I'm super impressed. I kind of want to look up reviews for the game just to see if this is a gem I missed? I'm guessing reviews will be kind of meh and perhaps complain that the game is too easy? Ok, I checked and they're really mediocre! (metacritic is ~57!). I also learned the game came out on PS3, Xbox360, Wii and I guess every other platform out there. So much for me thinking it was a DS game - it turns out it's a weird handheld port? (still, the interface work is fantastic)jpSun, 15 May 2022 21:44:11 UTC Adventures: The Forgotten Ruins (DS) - 15 May 2022 - by jp definitely gives you a different perspective to play a bunch of same-genre games pretty close to each other in terms of time. For some reason I thought this one was a match-3 game, but it's actually a hidden object+puzzle game. Different titles seem to lean more into the hidden object aspects - with slightly larger scenes and a longer list of things to find, while others downplay the hidden object aspects with a greater balance, in terms of time spent, on different kinds of puzzles. PopCap is (was, at the time) one of the bigger players in this space and I assume this DS title is simply a port from a PC version which probably also existed as a web-portal game (remember those?). That being said, it really is a head above some of the other games I've played in terms of the quality of the scenes/art but also in the addition polish - there's characters and art for them and writing that isn't terrible, and, for players who really cared about these things (not saying I don't) this would have represented a real bonus. According to the back of the box the story is exclusive to the DS version! (implying the existence of other versions) Wow, that's interesting - and I wonder who they thought their audience on the DS was? I assumed younger kids possibly more girls than boys? Each scene, in addition to a single page list of items, has two secret objects (a glyph and a mask) and I appreciated the hint system - it's on a time so you don't spam, but it's also a little bit more vague than I expected. When you tap on the hint button you see what I interpreted as a "rough" circle of stars that glitter - the map also slides over to the location. I assumed that meant the hidden object was in that part of the screen - but this wasn't always the case. It was close, but not necessarily right there. Once you clear a hidden object scene you have to play/solve an additional puzzle/game - put together a jigsaw, spot the difference between two pictures, a memory game, a strange mah-jonhg type match the tiles, and a sliding puzzle game. Fortunately I never played the sliding puzzle one, I'm not a huge fan of those for me personal enjoyment. I didn't finish the entire game, but a few hours were enough for me to feel like I'd seen enough. The game does have some secret surprises if you get high scores and stuff like that - but I can't be bothered to be honest.jpSun, 15 May 2022 21:34:18 UTC (PC) - 14 May 2022 - by dkirschner dug into this for a few days about 6 weeks ago, and haven't had time to play a damn thing since then. I immediately was attracted to Battletech's aesthetic because Harebrained Schemes' Shadowrun: Dragonfall had great art design, characters, and story. Battletech is similarly authentic to its universe, highly detailed. Thus I had high hopes for story and character development. Buuut, the draw here is definitely the mech combat, whereas combat in Shadowrun was the weak part. Buuut again, that doesn't mean that combat is strong in Battletech. After about 10 hours, the game is leaving no mark on me, not in story or gameplay. Even though I haven't been able to play games in the last 6 weeks, I haven't WANTED to play this. I finally did today, my first chance to spend a couple hours playing something in forever, and I was bored bored bored. There are well documented camera issues, complaints about the slow pace of combat, and various other things. These pretty much all bothered me to some degree, but I think the main thing is just being overwhelmed by so much information. There is a lot to learn. I tend not to mind this in settings in which I am highly literate (e.g., fantasy), but when it comes to military or mech type settings, I get exhausted learning what different types of guns, ammunition, mechs, tanks, and so on do. How is the MG194 different than the SMF837? Well, the MG194 uses G-02 rounds while the SMF837 uses BF-9x rounds, but only if it's the auto version; otherwise, use the JD-8b rounds for mid-range. My brain reads military weaponry speak as nonsense. I understand this is a personal problem, but I need to be sucked in to a game like this to do the work to make sense of it. Battletech didn't suck me in and didn't stick in my brain. And, knowing that the main campaign takes upwards of 50 hours, I'm tapping out now. dkirschnerSat, 14 May 2022 17:36:39 UTC (PC) - 13 May 2022 - by jp don't know where I heard about this game - but I've been playing it for a few hours (almost 8 hours in) and, it's interesting, fun...and nicely chaotic. I'm also having a hard time describing it - it's sort of a rogue-like village builder where the main source of randomness comes from the contents of card packs you buy that are resources for you to play the game. So, you buy a back and it has a berry bush, and then you put a villager card on top of it - and the villager picks berries from the bush (a limited amount, then the bush card disappears). There's a natural progression as you move from more basic resources (getting wood from trees) to creating buildings (that are all created by putting a villager on top of a stack of the requisite recourse cards). The main source of challenge in the game is that you need to have enough food for the villagers to eat at the end of each day(?) cycle. Also, occasionally you'll run into enemies - and you need to fight them - and your villagers can die here as well. When a villager dies you get a corpse card (stack two and you build a graveyard, which you can then send a villager in to explore - which means that cards found will pop-out, and so on. The game is definitely rogue-like in that everytime you play you're starting from scratch, there are no permanent boosts or improvements. What does remain from playthrough to playthrough is the knowledge you've uncovered about the different cards - for example, how to create planks. THese formula you can either obtain (in the beginning they'll sometimes pop-out of packs as "idea" cards) or discover by experimenting. I found a few of these just by trying out different stacks of cards. At this point I've had a complete (successful) run of the game (on the middle difficulty level) and I've also discovered all the cards (there's a card-o-pedia that lists all of them with "?" for those you haven't found or figured out. There's no overall score, so there's no particular reason to play again at the same level of challenge - but I might anyways just to see how things do. My current "winning" run involved me having a stack of chickens that would pop out a lot of eggs I'd cook into omelettes. It got kind of crazy there for a moment! In previous runs I've had multiple cows - they drop milk cards every now and then, and so on. It's interesting (makes sense in terms of complexity) that there are things you cannot do - for example while you can create new chicken cards (stack a chicken and an egg) you can't create a new cow card (afaik). And, the randomness of the packs means that you might not see certain resources (e.g. potatoes were non-existent until I'd already beat the run and was just playing to find new cards)! One of the things I like is that the game feels quite tactile - you have to drag and drop the cards on each other and while you can "kind of" optimize some stuff (like put a chest under the spot where you drag cards to sell them, with the resulting coin cards landing on the chest and going inside automatically instead of just lying on the board), generally - it does end up kind of messy as a board (it zooms out when you have more cards) - combat also messes things up - with the enemy cards sort of hopping around and moving stuff. Same with wild animals (before you have a pen to put them in).jpFri, 13 May 2022 18:39:43 UTC