Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Skipping stones and catching up

Ack, it's been a while. I've been really busy with DIY projects in the evenings and full on work in the day. The only bit of time I've had recently has been weekend mornings on the PlayStation with the kids, so there's been a bit of progress there. There's a list of them that I've tried and given up on and some that I've finished, so I'll run through them quickly here.

First up, Hoard is a game where you play a dragon flying about and trying to capture treasure to add to your hoard. You can get it in various ways - looting caravans, taking princesses hostage, raiding other dragons, and more, but that's essentially all there is to the game. I think it potentially could have been more fun multiplayer, but it didn't feel like there was much to the single player campaign, you just flew around doing the same thing unlocking new pick-ups and abilities every now and then. It didn't grab me, so I moved on.

Next was Chime. Chime is a bit like Qix mixed with Tetris. You have to slot tetronimo blocks together to fill areas of the screen within a specific time limit. Once you have a full rectangle, it's locked down (though you can still add to it) and painted so you can move on to your next target area. As you do this, a bar moves across the screen making beautiful music from the shapes that you've created. It's a nice, chilled puzzle game...but it is a puzzle game, so I moved on.

Next up was Awesomenauts. I'd heard quite a bit of hype about this game - it's a kind of MOBA re-imagined as a platformer - but it turned out to be purely multiplayer. There is a short single-player practice mission, but it's not exactly exciting to play through, and it's over in a matter of minutes. This is made for online play, and that's not where I am. It looked mighty fine and all, it's just not for me. Moving on.

Next up was Retro/Grade. Retro/Grade is a rhythm action game dressed up as a shooter played backwards. That sounds weird and potentially interesting, but it really is just wrapping over a standard rhythm action game. That's not to say it's not innovative or that it's not a good game. I love a good rhythm action game, and this ticked a lot of boxes. I'd have maybe preferred it to be a little more varied - it only had 4 or so different moves - but it was fun while it lasted. I finished it on easy but tried a few harder modes and reckon I could have got through a few of them if I had the time and inclination. Good music and a fun game, but no real incentive to return to it once it's finished. Moving on.

Next up was Infamous: Festival of Blood. I completed the original Infamous a little while back, and this was a funny little minigame/level pack that they made with it. It's a new mission in the same game engine, but it only lasts a few hours. It's a whimsical side story where the main characters find themselves in a vampire-infested mardi gras, where Cole is turned into a vampire and has to find and defeat the leader of the vampires before day-break in order to sever the vampiric connection and return him to normal. The movement and combat is as fun as in the full game, but the missions only take up a small part of the map, and there's not really any reason to go exploring. There wasn't much of it and it wasn't very challenging, but it was fun and that's no bad thing. I've still got Infamous 2 coming up at some point, but that'll be whenever it raises its head on the PS3 list.

I've made a little progress with DOOM, but I feel like I haven't really connected with it. It's still beautiful and brutal and I'm pushing through it, but it hasn't grabbed me like I thought it would. Finally, after all this time, I went to try Blind Justice in earnest, only to find that it crashes as soon as I try and leave one area. A short search online shows that this is a known bug, so I guess I'm screwed/saved. Into the done pile it goes; onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Freedom Planet! I don't know much about it. Looks like a fairly modern homage to the old Mega Drive Sonic games. Could be a breath of fresh air. Oh, and it's the Steam Summer Sale, and yes, of course I bought some games. I'm an idiot.

Friday, 4 May 2018

You can Keep your Shoppe

Well, Shoppe Keep is just turdy. In a strange piece of synchronicity, the sequel has just come out today, and I can tell you now that it's a game that I won't be buying (please remind me of that the next time it turns up in a bundle). It's incredibly user-unfriendly, and incredibly tedious. The 'tutorial' is so bad that I had to use a wiki to work out how to even begin. I forgot to say, this is a game that was published in the last couple of years, not in the '80s. You essentially have to build and run a weapons shop in a fantasy land, and this is very much about the management aspects of said shop. You have to plan your display area, buy stock, manage prices and stock levels, and so on. If that sounds tedious to you, then you think the same way as I do. In my first day (which seemed to take a long time), I made 6 gold pieces in profit. Now, I'm sure you probably do start slow and build your way up the ladder to greater things, but that's way slower that I'm happy to start. That's not even enough to buy a single extra item at the end of the day. That's just dull. And what do you do all day? Nothing. You stand there waiting for customers, and when someone buys something you order a replacement and, when it comes through, you put it back on the same pedestal. Fun. Actually, there is some excitement when you get robbed. I had 3 robberies in the first day. When you get robbed, you chase after the culprit (you can run much faster than they can) and you hit them once with your sword. They then fall over and you pick up the object they took from you and traipse back to your shop where you return it to its place on the pedestal. Then you go back to standing and waiting for people to come in and buy something. God it's dull. I'm sure there are more options that open up when you have more money, and the game gets a bit more exciting (at least I hope it does), but to get that far I'd have to play the game for another few hours, and there's no way I'm doing that. Sorry. And I thought Prehistorik was going to be my worst game of the year. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Blind Justice! Never heard of it. Looks like a mid-'90s RPG, so worth a shot.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Well, Flight of the Intruder was never going to get much of my attention. Half an hour over lunch is enough for me. It's just not my type of game, and it's one that no matter how much longer I spend with it, I know I'm still not going to enjoy it. It's loosely structured on the book of the same name (which I haven't read, or seen the film), but I don't think that gives it more than a theatre of war and some flavour for the missions. Otherwise, it feels like a pretty standard combat flight sim of the era. Of course, I'm no expert, so I could be completely wrong, but nothing jumped out and shouted PLAY ME. It was made by Rowan, who were experts in the genre, so I'm sure it was technically a great game, but...meh. I've got a cup of tea in front of me, and it doesn't resemble a flight sim at all.

Next up on the randometer is...Shoppe Keep! Looks like some kind of fantasy shop management game. Might be interesting.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018


Prehistorik was mercifully short, because it's a terrible, terrible game. I finished it in a couple of lunchtimes, leaping from platform to platform and bashing enemies on the way. I don't remember much of the old Prehistorik game, so I can't tell you how similar it was to this one (I just checked and I do have the original games, but I'm treating them as a separate entity...not sure if I should have done), but this one looks fine in the spit and polish department. The graphics are fine - a little rough around the edges, but fine - and the sound is fine (although bizarrely it's really loud and there's no volume control, only on or off), but where the game sinks to the absolute pits is the control. I don't know what it is with games like this, but too often modern platform games have terrible controls, and this is no exception. It's floaty and unresponsive, and you'll often feel that you died unfairly rather than because of your own mistakes. My guess would be that it's something to do with the animation cycles, but I'm sure they could have made it better. It just ruins the whole experience.

The basic premise of the game is that some giant geezer has stolen your village's food, so you have to try and get it back again. That means that you have to pick up a minimum amount of food on each level before you can exit it. To be honest, that was never a problem. I didn't once have to go out of my way to find more food than I did just walking the main path to the exit, so it was largely a pointless endeavour. I think you might unlock a bonus level if you pick up all of the food and all of the B-O-N-U-S letters in the level, but I never did that, so never saw a bonus level. When I completed the game, my fly companion (don't ask) became a superfly and said it would help me find secrets and hard to reach items, so I did the first level again thinking it would help me 100% it and open the bonus level, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all. Great. That may well be a contender for worst game of the year...let's hope so.

Next up on the randometer is...Flight of the Intruder! Another flight sim. Joy of joys. I can't have that many left, can I?

Monday, 30 April 2018

Reneging Command

I need to apologise to Carrier Command. It looks like a great game. It was ahead of its time. It features in the 1001 Videogames You Must Play Before You Die. In so many ways it's one of those games that this blog was started for, so I can play the missed classics and get a feel for them. But...but...it just leaves me cold. I want to give it the time and the head space that it deserves, but I don't have either. It's one of those games that starts up and presents you with a screen full of icons, and you will have no idea what they do. You can't fire it up quickly and play for a bit to get a feel for it because you can't even move without reading the manual. And I have tried to read the manual. It's a good manual. Nothing wrong with the instructions it gives, but nothing in there fills me with excitement to go ahead and try it. I have moved a boat. I have launched a Mantis. I have fired a laser. None of those things made me want to repeat them. I don't know if it's a symptom of the larger mid-life ennui I'm feeling, but I just want something braindead and splashy. You could argue that's exactly what Doom is, and you'd be right, but even that has lost a little of its lustre. To make it even worse, I've bought quite a few random games in sales recently that I really didn't require. It's a cold, rainy day out there, and maybe what I really need is a good old RPG blanket I can wrap myself in. Fingers crossed to the random gods.

Next up on the randometer is...Prehistorik! Hmmm. Looks like a modern-ish remake of the old platform game. Ah, pretty mindless.

Monday, 9 April 2018

El Gato

Well, I had a quick look at GATO over the weekend, but didn't get anywhere with it. I managed to look around with my periscope, switch from electric to diesel power and back again, dive and rise, look at a map, arm my torpedoes, read the mission briefing...and that's about it. I couldn't actually get the submarine to move at all, or to find any enemy ships or to do...well...anything, really. I'm sure I could have scoured the internet and found the manual, then lovingly pored over it and worked out how to maneuver my sub while learning the detailed history of these fabulous machines...but time was too short and it's only a CGA sub game that, to be honest, I'm not that interested in. So, another title falls to my mood for skipping through games and disregarding my own internal rules. Yay!

Next up on the randometer is...Carrier Command! Seriously? What is it with me and late '80s strategy games at the moment. Ugh. At least this one was supposed to be pretty good...on the Amiga. No idea what the PC version will be like.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Step on my old Psi 5s

I had a quick look into Psi 5 Trading Company at lunch today, and that's probably enough for me (gosh, I am getting a bit lax in my old age!). It's actually quite an interesting little game. It strangely reminded me of FTL but in real time. You pick a destination that you want to transfer your cargo to - the further away it is, the more money you'll get from the run. You then proceed to pick the crew, selecting different aliens for different roles in your ship - navigation, weapons, engineer, etc. You then jet off into space where in no time at all you'll be set upon by random pirates as you try to deliver your precious cargo on time. Through giving orders to your crew, you can control which weapons to fire, where to send your repair bots, when to boost the engines, when to boost the shields with emergency batteries and so on. There are a ton of options to choose from, and you'll need to rapidly switch between crew screens screaming orders to various aliens in order to complete your run. Strangely, when you do complete your run, there doesn't appear to be any option to go on and do another one. I thought you'd build a career jetting among the stars and building a trade empire, but it appears to be more of a score attack game, trying to better your last high-score by delivering goods farther and faster. A lovely bit of CGA and plenty to do, but I can't say I'd really recommend it.

Next up on the randometer is...GATO! Looks like an old submarine simulator. I'll give it a go over the weekend if I get a minute, but I don't think I'll spend long on it.