GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Rider 2: Unbound (DS) - 24 Jan 2021 - by jp guess I shouldn't have been as excited about this as I was? The game's quite surprising to me in a few ways though - first the production values are much higher than I expected for what I think is a budget title (even if it's a sequel). Didn't this sort of game come out of the wave of physics-based flash games that were making the rounds way back when? So, this game features 3D animated (and rendered) cut-scenes featuring the game's characters and overall premise of the game (kids, rivalry, sledding, high speeds hijincks!) and there's also a full soundtrack! Even more, you can - while playing a level - hop into a jukebox and change the song you want to hear play. I've been playing the story mode and this is where things have fallen apart for me. I've found the line creation interface somewhat clumsy and confusing and the level themselves seem tricky in that I just need to go off trial and error until I hopefully succeed. You're only allowed to draw within a certain green box (or boxes) and you have straight lines or curvy ones and three different types of lines (normal, boost, brake). And, I don't know, 6 levels in (so, into "act 2" - after the tutorial levels) I just found that the trial-and-error way I was playing was just frustrating and boring. I get the feeling that the drawing is not as precise as I'd like it to be and the physics too stringent at the same time..or perhaps I simply haven't played enough to get a feel for the simulation such that I know if my plan will work or not? Now that I think about it, the drawing/navigating adds a little too much friction to the process such that each failure is more of a loss than otherwise. I have to pan, zoom, delete, re-draw test. I'm guessing that if I could delete/re-draw that would work in terms of the rapid experimentation - but with the lower DS screen being abit too small - pan and zoom seems necesarry. So, the whole experience kind of falls flat for me in that respect.jpSun, 24 Jan 2021 15:46:21 UTC Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (VITA) - 20 Jan 2021 - by jp! Clocked in at a "breezy"(?) 8 hrs. I was JUST starting to get a bit tired when, oh, time for a final boss fight. I thought this was unusual because there was nothing else like it in the game but, fortunately it wasn't TOO hard (a few attempts and I was able to clear it). It all tied into the story somehow, but wasn't really all that memorable. The game is really just about the grind/loop of mining/selling/upgrading with not much else in terms of variety. Sure, there were secret areas, and the upgrade to see loot on the minimap was a great idea - it encouraged me to go back and farm some more loot. I didn't have enough to buy all the upgrades, but oh well. Not really complaining here. I did reboot to see if there was a newgame plus or something like that and apparently not, so - on the shelf it goes!jpWed, 20 Jan 2021 23:08:00 UTC of Full Moon (iPd) - 19 Jan 2021 - by jp saw someone I don't know recommend this game to someone I do know on Facebook of all places. So, I've been playing it and having quite a bit of fun with it. I guess I feel like I'm on a "weak" spree of wanting to play deck-building card games and I had not heard of this one (I still have a hard time remembering what the game is called, I confuse it with many other games). So, it's deck-builder like Slay the Spire - with a few differences and simplifications. Overall I get the sense that the game is simpler/less deep - but that's ok. It's also possible that the difficulty curve was toned too low (easy) for my own skill/taste in this game. I've only lost once - and I've cleared the game multiple times with the starter characters though I'm still working my way up the difficulty chain. I'm curious what the hardest difficulty will feel like and as I continue to clear the game I keep on unlocking new favors (similar to artifacts). I also discovered a secret bonus 4 act which was harder than the rest (that's the only time I've failed, on a 2nd run through the 4th act) Differences with Slay the Spire? (a) You don't know what the enemies will do on their turn. So, planning is harder in that sense - you just go with it. (b) Enemies have their own decks/hands of cards. Some of which are like the ones you may have. This is pretty neat because it opens up the design space to mechanics that involve your using your opponents cards, messing with their deck, countering their cards, etc. (c) In a full run there are a lot more opportunities to upgrade your deck as well remove cards from it. I really like this aspect since it feels like you can be more strategic. (d) Every turn you can choose what to do from three options - so each "node" in the map has three things, if you complete one, then a new one takes its place. I like having more choice at this broader level. You can also eliminate choices (I'm not going to fight this monster) - which you might need to do strategically (e.g. remove a store and hope it refreshes with an opportunity for healing so you can fight a monster) (e) There are equipment cards and you have equipment slots (which you can increase). You start with equipment cards already on the table - if you have many and more slots that can be a huge boost/incentive. And there's also interesting strategy in picking which equipment card you want to start with. (f) You level up - and unlock special abilities that operate on cooldowns (cooldown is based on encounters/fights - so you'll get the ability back after 3 more fights). I find myself using these rarely or only on emergencies - but overall it's a neat idea. The levelling up is nice because they do things like increase your hand size or give you a chance to pick a card from two options. There's more differences, but those are the key ones? I've enjoyed all the classes and I'm on the verge of just paying for all the DLC even if I don't play it....jpTue, 19 Jan 2021 19:14:50 UTC Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (VITA) - 19 Jan 2021 - by jp's a couple of things I've found interesting in my experience so far (I've made it to the 3rd "world/area/depth"). The game is persistent in the sense that those tunnels you dig - stay dug. If you dig more - those will stay as well. This is pretty cool and it means that I'm effectively designing my own levels - passages, tunnels, etc. It works really well - though I'm curious if the locations and layouts of things (e.g. the special "tunnel entrances" where you pick up powerups are fixed or not. In other words, I wonder if the levels are designed or generated. I guess it could be either? The basic loop of the game is delve deep, get things to sell, sell those things for money, spend money on upgrades to make it easier to delve deeper. Most, but not all, of the upgrades are permanent - but there are some that are consumable. My favorite is the teleporter - and I always try to have one in case I paint myself into a corner of sorts - so I can teleport out to safety to sell my warez. However, I'm curious as to whether it's possible - via poor play/management to screw yourself over? I'm pretty conservative when it comes to spending money on consumables and such but I didn't know when I started if the minerals would "replenish" or if the levels were super large such that, if you really wanted to, you could farm/grind resources for a long time. As far as I can tell, resources are actually pretty limited - so in theory you could spend them poorly and then be stuck in a position where making progress is really onerous and frustrating. While I die every now and then, the game isn't that hard - but I have realized that I need to be careful with my digging so as to make sure I have a path back out. Again, could I screw myself over? I think you can - which makes for a really interesting edge case that I wonder if the game "captures" or if you just need to restart? This could be really bad... but then again, you might only need to restart in the beginning? Hmmm, it's a tricky thing. I didn't know going in what kind of game this was - is it a roguelike where you just keep on going until you lose and then restart with more knowledge? Or is this a RPG-style progression game where you're always getting better (upgrades, skills, health, etc.) and you just need to make your way to the end? Now that I've played a few hours I know it's not a rogue-like but I really didn't know in the beginning... Either way, I've been enjoying the core experience even as its starting to get a bit grindy (I'm essentially doing the same activity all the time even if the scenery changes).jpTue, 19 Jan 2021 19:00:09 UTC Kagura Estival Versus (VITA) - 17 Jan 2021 - by jp finished the first two "days" and a bit more (technically day 0 and day 1) and, while I learned that you can skip all the cut-scenes and conversation moments (that I found really grating), I realized I wasn't that enthused by the actual combat/fighting. Yes, I did lose a few times and while the difficulty was "easy" (low) and would get harder as I made progress...the entire system just wasn't that interesting to me. I think I wrote about this before. There's a whole shopping side to the game as well that I only engaged with to see what it was about. You can buy outfits, movies (cut-scenes you've seen in the game) pictures AND there's a whole mode where you can pose three characters. It's quite..uhh..lewd? As you play you unlock different poses and they're all pretty provocative (but - no nudity). You can also switch between the outfits - including torn outfits (like you see when you take/do damage) as well as lingerie. This is all really not my jam at all...and I guess I can say now that at least I've played one of the games in the series and have a general sense for what it's about...jpSun, 17 Jan 2021 21:57:51 UTC Nil (PC) - 15 Jan 2021 - by jp 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?jpFri, 15 Jan 2021 16:49:13 UTC Out (PS4) - 15 Jan 2021 - by jp 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?jpFri, 15 Jan 2021 11:37:30 UTC Kagura Estival Versus (VITA) - 15 Jan 2021 - by jp 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?jpFri, 15 Jan 2021 10:43:10 UTC 2 (PS4) - 11 Jan 2021 - by jp 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?jpMon, 11 Jan 2021 18:43:47 UTC Wonders: Treasures of Seven (DS) - 11 Jan 2021 - by jp, 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...jpMon, 11 Jan 2021 18:39:01 UTC