GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay & Punishment: Star Successor (Wii) - 14 Apr 2019 - by dkirschner enjoyed this rail shooter, which is the last rail shooter I've played since Dead Space: Extraction, which was awful. The story was totally unimportant, something about helping an android escape a planet, but the Bad Guys won't let her. The gameplay though, boy howdy that was fun! Hold A for a huge special shot, hold B for steady machine gun fire, and tap B to swing your sword. Combat generally involves holding B, holding and releasing A whenever that special move is charged, and tapping B if something gets too close to you. You can also lock on by tapping A over a target, but that makes your machine gun do way less damage. You can also jump if you're on the ground and dodge in the air if you're flying, which you'll do a lot. My favorite thing about the game are all the boss battles. There are boss battles after boss battles after boss battles, and many are quite creative. One is a sword duel, which stood out as the first one I got stuck on. It was, probably coincidentally, the first time I played the game since I had started it weeks earlier over Spring Break. In that battle, you have to time melee attacks to repel the boss, which sometimes stuns her, and then you can melee more or do a charge shot. Another cool one was the desert boss that chases you on a train. You see the boss in a rearview mirror and try to detach train cars to crash into it. Meanwhile, it's lobbing fireballs at you from behind and there are a bunch of machine gun dudes and dogs dropping bombs. A third that really stood out was (maybe just after that) a little creature that grabs the android with a claw and tries to lower the claw into lava. To prevent this, you have to attack gears to spin them up and raise platforms, and melee missiles into the creature to get him to stop lowering the android. Cool stuff! I stopped on the last boss because it was clear it would take me forever to beat him. There were missiles and orbs and beam rays and all sorts of shit flying around everywhere. I never even came close to killing him, maaaaybe 1/2 life. And when I went to watch on YouTube, I saw there was a second part to him! But the game is generous with checkpoints, even between boss phases. So, all in all, cool game, a lot of fun to play, but it's not an easy one, and if you're getting frustrated with difficulty, the story isn't going to save it for you. Stay for more boss fights.dkirschnerSun, 14 Apr 2019 16:30:01 UTC The Infernal Tower (DS) - 03 Apr 2019 - by jp's a stacking game where you get "tangram" style shapes. When stacked correctly they stick (fuse?) so you don't need to worry too much about wobbling. However, I was not able to clear the first level. The stacking was not the problem. Rather, each level has a bunch of objectives you need to meet in order to win and...I didn't really understand them all that well - or, there were way more objectives than I thought because a number kept going down but the objective I was sure I had met didn't clear. So, I was confused and a little frustrated....jpWed, 03 Apr 2019 11:06:36 UTC Ruining Blue Earth Remix (DS) - 02 Apr 2019 - by jp picked this up for very little and with no context. By that I mean I had only the cart. No box, no manual... so I plopped it in. This was a few days ago. The game came up, started a new game, picked a name for my character and then things got familiar...the intro is basically a lord of some sort inviting you to come over and your buddy isn't necessarily impressed/happy. This seemed really familiar... So, I shut the game down and started up again, but this time loaded a prior saved game. One that, lo and behold, I had created! I think it was maybe an hour in? Not much more than that. The game loaded onto a map. I had no idea where to go, what I was supposed to do, or..well, anything really. So, I just loaded into the location where the character already was. A tower. And fought a battle (tactics style RPG, move on a grid, there's a timeline, etc.)... It was level one of the tower - which I assume means that I was on the right track. But then the game froze. So, I took this all as an excuse to shut it down because I was really NOT interested in starting over, nor was I interested in trying to figure out what I had to do from the game (I went through the menus trying to see if I'd missed something, like a journal or whatever). Sure, I could have gone to a strategy guide to try to reverse engineer what part of the game I was at but frankly it felt like too much of a chore. Also, the game froze. It's probably a problem with the cart rather than the game who knows if I'd lose progress later on as well...jpTue, 02 Apr 2019 19:10:45 UTC Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (PC) - 01 Apr 2019 - by dkirschner Dream Daddy! What a great game, wow. I first heard of this around the time it came out when I was working on stuff related to GamerGate, and that semester had a student who wrote me a paper on its depiction of sexuality and fatherhood. She would rave to me about how it handled gender and insist that I play it. My immediate comparison is the only other visual novel/dating sim I've played, Hatoful Boyfriend, but genre is really the only similarity. Nonetheless, Hatoful Boyfriend (the pigeon dating sim) prepared me for Dream Daddy. Thanks Hatoful Boyfriend. What is Dream Daddy? It's a dad dating sim. You create a dad and begin the story. I made mine look like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and named him Carl McDad. The similarity is uncanny. You and your daughter, Amanda, move to a new town, to a house in a cul-de-sac where every other resident is also a dad. Some dads live with their kids, some are married, some are single. Some are more openly gay, some are in heterosexual relationships. They welcome you to the neighborhood, and you begin the process of meeting the game's 7 dads. This is essentially the prologue. Once you meet all the dads together at a barbecue, you sign up for Dadbook (like Facebook, but for dads). It's unclear whether Dadbook is only for dads or whether anyone can join and it's just called Dadbook because Amanda and other kids will pop up on there. It's also unclear whether it's more of a dating site or more of just a messaging app. Anyway, through Dadbook, you ask the other dads to hang out or go on dates, and they will occasionally message you too. The game flows like this: You choose a dad to message on Dadbook and go on a date. The date usually has two or three activities, and you get to know the other dad better. The date ends, you get a score based on a dialogue options you chose (the "best" dialogue option triggering a hilarious animation of hearts and eggplant emojis emanating from the wooed dad) and mini-games you completed, and you go home. You usually chat with Amanda, go to sleep, and repeat. You can initiate three dates with each dad (that's 21 dates). On the third date with any particular dad, as we found out last night, you can end the game by choosing to start dating that dad. You probably have to make correct dialogue decisions during the date, and I assume you can be rejected or choose not to date any of the dads (We will verify this later!). We went with Hugo, an English teacher and closet wrestling fan. Our other choices, in order, were Robert (mysterious, hunts cryptids), Mat (cool coffee shop owner, post-hardcore and emo fan), Joseph (married, youth minister), Craig (athletic, cool, but seemed too busy for us), Brian (competitive), and Damien (goth dad). "Being a dad" is the main thing the game depicts, believe it or not, and so your relationship with Amanda often takes center stage (and the other dads' relationships with their kids are important too). Amanda is a high school senior planning to go to art school. She is a great kid and is going through some of the issues of teenage life--boys, friends, college applications, etc. You and her have a wonderful relationship, and the father-daughter scenes were some of my favorite in the game. The game does not hyper-focus on sexuality, which I had sort of assumed before playing. It's a game about dating dads, yes, but the emphasis is on relationships, romantic, sexual, or otherwise. Carl never comes out and says he's gay. He's just attracted to the dads that the player guides him toward. The other dads don't identify as gay either. Hugo was married to a man, and that statement is the closest we get to a statement about sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is conveyed more through thought and behavior (e.g., Carl sees Brian shirtless and notes that he's hot or Carl flirts with Craig by making a joke about kissing). I'll keep thinking about this. At first I was disappointed that the game was avoiding talking about sexuality, but the more I think about it, I think it's really clever how it doesn't focus on identity, but instead focuses on relationships, sexual fluidity, and performance. There's a paper in there somewhere...that has probably already been written. I really liked how dates were not all one-on-one affairs, but involve other dads, kids, and are wrapped up in other aspects of daily life. For example, for one of the Hugo dates, he invites you to help chaperone his class on a field trip to the aquarium. I had to figure out how to get some mischievous kids out of the penguin enclosure. One of the Brian dates was a fishing trip that your daughters (who get along really well) tag along for. I always found the Brian dates funny because Carl and Brian's relationship was so competitive. Brian would always one-up Carl. If Amanda got straight As, then Brian's daughter got straight A+s. If Carl caught a 20-pound fish with his father, then Brian caught a 40-pound fish. Some of the dates involved mini-games. Sitting in Robert's truck overlooking the city, he teaches you to whittle wood, and you carve increasingly silly objects. You get separated from Mat at a punk concert and try to make your way to the front of the crowd where he is by avoiding moshing teenagers. To catch fish with Brian, you play a match-three game lining up the same kinds of fish. These were always fun little diversions. I cannot gush enough about the dialogue. The writing is outstanding. The tone turns serious or heartfelt when it needs to and is often laugh-out-loud funny. Additionally, there are a lot of dad jokes and dad puns. There is a certain type of humor that the game has, and I think we were a target demographic. People who were children of the 80s and early 90s, teens in the 90s and early-mid-2000s will find a lot of shared cultural references. Another SUPER WEIRD thing about the game is that it is like it has been listening to our conversations. We joke all the time about cryptids and starting a cryptid podcast and interviewing my dad, whose favorite story is of hearing a Bigfoot in the woods. We even recently went to a Bigfoot museum and are bummed to miss the first ever Georgia Bigfoot Conference because it falls on the same weekend as the World's Biggest Fish Fry in Paris, TN. Anyway, Robert is into hunting cryptids, and during one date he tells a story (I think he's kidding) about seeing this one, and then y'all spot something in the woods, get really scared, and drive away. My girlfriend and I also like to go see monster trucks, and that is discussed in detail in the game. There were no joke like 6 or 7 other even more specific things that we say to each other or that we had just talked about and that then were in the game. One thing my girlfriend always says is "You'll see..." like in a jokey-sinister way. Like about April Fools Day today, she says she's going to do something to me. I ask what she's going to do. "You'll see..." THE GAME ENDED WITH "YOU'LL SEE"! That was the last piece of dialogue between Carl and Hugo before the credits! What a coincidence. Okay okay, I've gone on forever about Dream Daddy, but it's not a perfect game. There are pacing issues and issues regarding what the game "knows" about your interactions with other dads. Like I said before, you can go on three dates with each dad. Sometimes, in between dates when you log onto Dadbook, another dad will message you for some sort of outing. These totally stopped before we had gone on one date with everyone, and we were then trying to figure out how the game might have expected us to date. Did it account for the player going on three dates in a row with one dad (and will this end the game after literally three dates)? Did it anticipate the player going on one date with each dad, then a second date with each dad? We assumed, once the other Dadbook messages stopped, that the meta-narrative (like the progress through the school year as Amanda applies to art school, learns she gets in, other time-sensitive events in other dads' lives, etc.) would progress once we went on one date with every dad, and that it would progress again after two dates with every dad. But after one date with every dad, nothing happened. Still no meta-narrative advancement, still no new Dadbook messages. And nothing happened after completing a second date with each dad. Why? It's like the game front-loads you with a variety of social interactions and narrative events over time, but then completely stops before you are 1/3 through dating around. After the third Hugo date, it's like time sped up to wrap up the entire story. All of a sudden Amanda graduated from high school. I thought it would follow her off to college, but it didn't. The other issue is what the game knows about your interactions with other dads. For example, at the end of the prologue, you are re-introduced to all the dads you've met at a barbecue. Then, as you go on dates and outings with other dads, even if you've seen dads three times since the barbecue, Carl will still think things like, "When we met last at the barbecue..." or someone will message Carl saying, "I had a great time at the barbecue! Let's go do such-and-such..." And we're like, but we just went to the art gallery with Damien, Hugo, and Craig yesterday! Why don't you remember?! This kind of thing happens enough to be noticeable. There was another glaring error last night after a Mat date. Carl was at Mat's house after shopping for records, and Mat has a lot of instruments around his house. He was in a touring band with his late ex-partner. Carl asks Mat to play the piano, and Mat doesn't want to. It dredges up memories. You have the option to push the issue and get him to play or to drop it. I dropped it. Then later that night, Carl tells Amanda about the date and says that Mat played the piano and goes on about what I assume would have happened if you push Mat on the piano issue. But Mat never played the piano! Either the game has an error in the narrative or Carl has revealed that he is a dirty liar and makes up stories to tell Amanda. I wish these issues had been ironed out. Play this game. I want to use it for my game-based learning SOCI 1101 course somehow. It's smart, funny, deals with gender, sexuality, parenthood, and other issues in a thoughtful way. And it might be listening. Also, the theme song is a real ear worm.dkirschnerMon, 01 Apr 2019 11:00:40 UTC Red Strings Club (PC) - 30 Mar 2019 - by jp had to play this for class and, wow SO GOOD! I enjoyed the story and the characters, and the diversity, and the music. It's not all perfect, but I'll list some of the things that were notable in terms of gameplay and design... a. There's a sculpting section which was really annoying to do with a trackpad. Really annoying and definitely not fun. As a concept, I did enjoy it though... b. One of the core mechanics is mixing and serving drinks such that they "hit" (target) a special spot on your customer (you pay a bartender/owner). Which spot you want to target is up to you, but the idea is that a correct/specific spot will lead to your customer opening up to you in the conversation you have with them later. In order to mix, you have to pick up bottles and tip them over into a glass and try to get the amounts right. The tipping and pouring was a bit tricky with the trackpad - so again that was a bit annoying. However, if you messed up it was a lot easier to fix than the sculpting. For that, if your sculpt was "bad" you had to start over... c. There's a neat section at the end where you're trying to get information by calling people on the phone. The fun part is that you have to decide who you will impersonate (imitate voice) such that the person on the other end will tell you what you need to know. I thought it was neat! There's a whole bunch more that's interesting about the choices you make and what the whole thing is about...In a nutshell, there's a corporation that has figured out a way to affect (manipulate) people such that strong negative emotions (fear, anger, depression, anxiety) disappear. You're playing a character who wants to stop that - and over the course of the game (as you discover what's actually going on) you need to decide how you feel about what is happening and so on... Lots of interesting issues: a. The bartending mechanic is essentially one in which you're manipulating people - using them as a means to an end - to get the info you want. That's not ok! The same happens at the very end - with the phone calls. Essentially two groups manipulate people to get what they want: a better world or a world where people have freedom of choice. (I can choose to be depressed) So, there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in the "heroes". One of the first things you do in the game is work as a robot implanting personality/mood modifying implants (these are the things you sculpt): people arrive asking for a certain change, you give them that, and they're not happy (because they come back asking for a new change) - eventually you have to give them implants that are "bad" - these are all implants that neutralize a desire completely (husk = not feel anything). Again, you end up manipulating "for their own good". So, that is one theme that runs throughout the game.... b. There's a funeral scene I thought was neat. A character dies and then you (and friends) each take an aspect of that character and its incorporated into you. The aspects look like a crystal (or test tube?) Anyways, there's a physical manifestation of a trait of their personality... In this way your friend literally lives on through you... Anyways, nice and short AND interesting!jpSat, 30 Mar 2019 16:34:47 UTC Megami Tensei Devil Survivor (DS) - 30 Mar 2019 - by jp think this might the first Shin Megami Tensei game I've played and I wonder why there haven't been any recent releases in the series? (though I guess the Persona series is technically part of the Megami Tensei series?) So confusing. Anyways, it's been fun to play a tactical RPG and this one has a few things I've found interesting: a. Each character on the map is actually a main character and two sidekicks. For the player, these are demons that you've "hired" (in an auction) or "created" (by fusing two other demons you've hired together into a new one). So, there are great opportunities to combo special attacks off each other - but also, it means that you need to worry about your trio AND the enemy trios as well. If you kill the main character, then the sidekicks disappear - but, you lose out on the extra experience from having killed the sidekicks directly. b. Before you start a battle, for each of your characters you can choose an ability you'd like to "crack" - if that character kills the enemy that has that ability, you can then add that ability to your character. If gives you a bit of an additional incentive/restriction as to who to kill and with whom. c. There's all kinds of different elemental effects and resistances. I can't say I figured them all out other than weak/strong and one that heals you instead of damage. Oh, there's one that straight up blocks damage. This matters in which special attacks you choose to use but also, later in the game when you have attacks that target multiple enemies, you might not want to use them because of bad things. d. The games sequencing of actions is unusual. When it's your turn you can do your actions in any order (move, then attack), but you can also do spells for each character and sidekick. Depending on what they have, this can be super useful. You can - heal, then attack, or heal AFTER you've attacked! This gets annoying with enemies that also have the heal ability, but I thought it was an interesting way to sequence your actions and it definitely adds some tactical interest as well. e. A round of combat consists of everyone attacking. But, you sometimes (the enemies as well) have a bonus attack! If you attack an enemy in a particular way - dunno how exactly other than doing a lot of damage, I think - they can lose their bonus attack! I think you have more bonus attacks when you initiated the attack, but I'm not sure. I didn't quite figure it out (or understand it when explained) I've made it to the end of the second day, the story is interesting but not THAT much - and I've had a few grindy moments and a battle I lost through no fault of my own (NPC died, was supposed to protect, but there was no way I could have) such that I've decided to put the game back on the shelf. I'm still starting down a stack of other DS games....jpSat, 30 Mar 2019 16:19:42 UTC Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland (DS) - 25 Mar 2019 - by jp've played some more, unlocked some new areas, etc. But, it's started to get a bit grindy and I'm not sure I'm up for playing the rest of it. The grinding is mostly from having to gather enough rupees to pay for this or that (and to donate). So, it's time for it to go back on the shelf even as I reflect on the general awesomeness that often comes out of Japanese mainstream studios.jpMon, 25 Mar 2019 17:11:40 UTC Talos Principle (PS4) - 24 Mar 2019 - by jp finished it, and I have more questions than answers. I did start to get a bit tired of the puzzles, there were too many for my taste and it felt a bit onerous to have to do them all - so I did the ones you had to do and left it at that. I'm really curious about the top of the tower, but I got stuck at a point where I needed a code and I could not find said code nor did I know where it might have been found. So, that gave me a great excuse to just finish the regular game and move on. Overall? I really enjoyed it. The game is definitely more polished that I expected but, more interestingly, through all the reading and the interactions with the other character - I really got into the game and curious about what was going on and such. The hint system is a waste of time - it takes too long to unlock (A LOT of extra work) for very little payoff (a one time clue, AFAIK), so a huge waste of payoff there...jpSun, 24 Mar 2019 22:23:17 UTC (PS4) - 22 Mar 2019 - by ttifere is a game whose central mechanic revolves around dying every 60 seconds, hence the title. This mechanic is introduced very early in the game, as you explore a charming 8-bit style world, akin to the GameBoy classic – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The world you find yourself in is seemingly open, yet with roadblocks and hurdles that you cannot yet circumvent. As you progress through the game, you must explore every nook and cranny within the 60 second time limit to find new items that allow you to push through the obstacles in your path. Some items may require you to aid villagers in need, where others are simply hidden away. Though the puzzle design of finding items to continually progress is quite linear, the player is never expressly told where to go next, and so trying to figure out your next move can be fun and challenging within 60 seconds. The biggest shortcoming in Minit is the expectations that the game puts on the player. There are a few paths in the game which require intense scrutiny from the player’s observational skills. For instance, one of the heart containers, which increase your maximum health, is hidden behind a random wall in a dark maze. This wall looks exactly like a normal wall, and there is seemingly no feasible way of discerning that it is an illusion, so the player must discover this by attempting to walk into every wall in the maze, or by accident. I feel that design choices like this could always be improved by teaching the player how to pick up on illusory walls, or by changing the look of the fake wall to make it less difficult to notice.ttifereFri, 22 Mar 2019 20:02:08 UTC's Epic Yarn (Wii) - 10 Mar 2019 - by dkirschner game with cute, creative art and a neat "yarn" mechanic. Instead of sucking up enemies like Kirby usually does, he tosses out yarn (like Scorpion in Mortal Kombat: "Get over here!") to unravel enemies and pull objects around. This is because in the story, Kirby has gone to yard land or something because the ultimate boss, Yin-Yarn (pun, +10 points), is turning Dream Land (Kirby's home) into yarn. It's extremely gory with blood and guts and spine ripping and everything. Oops, still thinking about Mortal Kombat. Kirby is totally kid friendly. This kept me entertained for about 6 hours to breeze through the single-player story. You can play co-op, though I'm not exactly sure what that adds besides the joy of playing with a friend, as you can do everything alone and there don't seem to be mini-games or anything requiring two players. Anyway, the selling point of this game is the yarn gimmick. You don't just use yarn to grab enemies, but you use it to swing from attach points, to shapeshift into cool vehicles in a lot of the levels, and to literally reconfigure parts of the level (always neat). Like I said, it's kid stuff, so it's not going to blow your mind, and it's nothing you haven't seen similarly before (usually with grappling hooks in other games), but it's cool, it's slick, it's fun, it's relaxing, and it's charming to play. Worth the purchase. dkirschnerSun, 10 Mar 2019 16:41:12 UTC