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My GameLog

A person who is seriously interested in games, game studies, and game design should play a lot of games.

To the right you will see the latest GameLog (diary) entries I have recorded for the games I'm currently playing and my thought and feelings on the game, the experience of playing it, and so on. If you want to see all the games I'm playing, or the ones I'm no longer playing you can follow the "List of Games I'm Currently Playing" and the " List of Games I've Finished Playing".



GameLog Logo

During the summer of 2003 I started a little project to keep track of the videogames I had been playing. I also wanted to keep track of my thoughts as I played them. Thus, GameLog was born as a blogging tool for gamers. If you are interested you can hop on over and register. I personally enjoy reading about other people's thoughts on the games they play and the more the merrier!  www.gamelog.cl


Games I'm Currently Playing ] - [ Games I've Finished Playing ]
 

Wednesday 8 September, 2021   //  Star Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (DS)

Hmmm.

I played the first two missions and...hmmm... part of me was really impressed, but the other half of me was slightly disappointed. Now, this might be a bit unfair - I had no idea what this game was about, how it worked, and so on. So, it was all upside in that sense. And, I found there was a lot to be impressed by in this game even as I was confused at times because it seemed like there was so much.

Before you even start you have to choose a pair of Jedi. You'll control one, while the other is an AI-controlled partner. The game is controlled (entirely?) via the stylus and has a really neat fully-voiced tutorial/explanation for each of the important things you need to know about. This includes jumping, moving, combat, secret areas, using the force, etc. And it turns out the game has quite a few different gameplay systems....


(a) Navigation is the 1st, and most obvious. It's entirely stylus driven and, nicely, you don't need to worry about speed - just getting to places. The camera is really interesting - it moves around (panning, zooming, etc.) in what I would describe as a cinematic way. It really makes the low-fi (for today's standard) environments seem more interesting. I was surprised that I didn't resent the lack of camera control though I did not feel that connected to the character (through the movement).

(b) Combat - Your characters have both a health and a shield(?) bar that depletes as/when you take damage. Attacking opponents is as easy as tapping on them, but you can tap three locations (high, mid, low) and also execute different combos to stagger/stun enemies. ALSO, when you kill an opponent you can combo over to another one for more bonuses and stuff. For such a simple control scheme I was surprised at how much there was going on in the combat system. I think my favorite part though was that to engage in combat you simply tap on an enemy and, like in the movies (and the show?), your jedi simply leaps over there and starts fighting! The leaping part was the cool thing. Also, blaster reflection happens automatically if you're not fighting, which is a nice touch. You really do feel that these are jedi masters you're controlling rather than bumbling noobs.

(c) Quick-time stylus sliding events - The game really plays up that these are jedi. Super athletic, fast, great reflexes, wild acrobatics, etc. So, these aspects are "recreated" via slide-the-stylus in a certain direction quick time events. I did get frustrated with problems related to its recognition of the stylus moves...but overall I think it was a neat system that was implemented well in the context of the game's fiction and so on.

(d) Jumping - this one's strange. When you get close to an area you can jump to, an animated circle appears, you tap on it, and your jedi automatically jumps there. I felt it contributed to not feeling all that connected to the character since you're sort of one step removed from the action. Kind of like a point and click adventure game rather than the direct control you see in many other games. However, it's an interesting choice because they're trying to simplify things given that you're using the stylus - so the indirect control mitigates some issues? It does also give the game a slightly slowed pace/feel, and from what I played there's never really the need to urgently move around (except during quick time events) so, it makes sense?

(e) Inter-Jedi relation(?) - There's a bar in front of each Jedi when you select them, and I noticed that one of the Jedi's bars grew by one (now two bars) after I completed the first mission. I assume this has to do with the relation between both Jedi? There's some sort of experience/upgrade system and I did find some "secret" things that I have no idea of their purpose...but perhaps that's connected? I imagine you can both improve the jedi's stats and perhaps also their attributes?

Wednesday 8 September, 2021   //  Blood & Truth (PS4)

Ok, so everything I had left to play (all the way to the end of the game) was fun, wild, bombastic, and over the top in a good way. It was pretty neat - mostly like a great lightgun game!

However, and this is a really, really big however, I came SO CLOSE to bailing on the game entirely. There's something really wonky about the controls and - despite trying to figure stuff out from the menus, re-calibrating, etc. I got stuck in a situation where I could not let go of an assault rifle. This was convenient in that I was able to keep it from area/level to area/level but it was really inconvenient when I needed to use my free hand for anything. The controls would alternate between holding the pistol or double-holding the assault rifle. I was not able to find a way to have that hand free other than wildly toggling back and forth and hoping it would "glitch" into the correct state. So, I spent 20 minutes crawling along a vent (one-handed) that should have taken 30 seconds. This does not include time spent reading stuff online trying to see if I was missing some "obvious" button I needed to press to put the assault rifle away (and then be able to pick it up again). In the end all I learned is that the move controls were glitchy and people complained about the big weapon holsters. Nothing about the standard control I was using. Later on I ran into another similar problem - fortunately "resolved" much faster, but it was close.

Narratively? Interesting stuff, lots of loose ends and its definitely set up for a sequel. I'm not sure they're working on one though. So, you get your revenge - but there's no real info/progress on the "real powers" behind everything.

Tuesday 7 September, 2021   //  Championship Pony (DS)

Another example of "went in blind" and...uh...I'm not entirely sure where to start. The obvious is that I'm not the intended audience, but still - I was curious to know what this game's gameplay is about. Theme notwithstanding - what do you actually do in the game?

So, the game is part "pet sim" but mostly it's an "action" game? This sounds really weird. It's not super adrenaline reflexes based action, but you basically have to control a horse (riding) in real time on a track (follow the trail accurately) or in an obstacle course (follow the guides for where to go next, and jump at the right moment). The 3rd mini-game (that I played, perhaps there are more later on?) is basically a pattern matching game where you see a symbol on the top screen and then need to tap on its equivalent in the bottom screen as quickly as possible. This one is dressage - where horses to fancy tricks like walk sideways and such. I don't really know much about horses and riding and all that to be fair.

So, the game is basically a "horse riding" sim where you participate in events to earn money, which lets you buy better/faster horses so you can continue participating. There might be more to it than just this - but that's at least as far as I got (played in 3 tournaments, each with 3 events corresponding to the mini-games I described earlier). You can also groom your horse so that it's loyalty increases (more hearts!). I'm not entirely sure how this plays out in the game - I only played with two horses (starter + faster one purchased later) and... I'm not sure how your horse's performance changes? Maybe it doesn't? Speed definitely makes a difference - as I saw from getting a faster horse and then really getting a lead on my opponents (whom you never see - only names on a leaderboard).

Other than that you can spend money on accessories for the horse and different colored saddles and tack. As far as I can tell none of these have an impact on gameplay (there's no +1 speed saddle, which makes sense). For a hot minute I thought this might have been a driving game! ("drive a horse" and then upgrade it). But all you really seem to do is buy new horses - which feels a bit sad to me - like I got rid of slow-poke 'cause it's slow!

The game is also entirely stylus-driven, which awkwardly includes the jumping that I was never able to get to work right (you're supposed to double tap). That is, until I discovered you could also press the right trigger (R1) and have the horse jump. THEN, it works fine. Sigh.

As I was playing I realized that - wow, there might not be another generation of games designed around the use of a stylus (rather than finger) and I thought that was a bit sad. Game devs had to get up to speed on stylus-for-input only for that to be mostly gone by the time the 3DS rolled away...perhaps by that point most people had given up? Obviously the finger replaced the stylus, but the experience is quite different!

Monday 30 August, 2021   //  Blood & Truth (PS4)

I've just finished the "shoot out in the tower that was going to get demolished" mission trying to save "me mum". The mission right before that was mostly looking at things so it was a nice break...and I had to stop playing because I was getting too sweaty.

The controls are still really wonky at times (using controller not move controllers) but, for the most part they do the trick. What I'm starting to get annoyed by is the main character - I really don't like him as he's a bit of a... twat?...a silent protagonist might have been better for me rather than an annoying gangster/soldier type.

The story is getting a bit more interesting - especially since it's being presented out of chronological order. I'm being interrogated by a CIA agent - and then play missions he's asked about (so, tell me what happened at X), but NOW we're going to be working together! Something about a rival gangster who seems suddenly too well funded and organized as well as revenge for killing my dad and (as of the last mission), my mum as well!

I have been keeping track of this information for the past 18 year(s), 2 month(s) and 20 day(s).

kudos for original design to Rodrigo Barria