Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Ninjad

As much to my surprise, as I'm sure it was to everyone else's, I actually finished 10 Second Ninja (well, I didn't 100% it, but more on that later). So what is 10 Second Ninja? It's a pretty simple twitch game with a very descriptive title. You're a ninja, and you have 10 seconds to destroy all of the robots on the level. That's it. The robots don't do anything, and mostly just sit there waiting for you to destroy them (some of them take two hits, but that's the only different type). Your ninja has a few moves at his disposal, a double jump, a sword swipe and a limited number of shurikens (3 per level). Defeating all of the robots in 10 seconds is generally pretty easy, and doing so will net you one star for the level. So far, so good. Each level needs a certain number of stars to unlock. At the beginning of the game, this is pretty easy, you zip through a level, get your star and unlock the next. Easy. But pretty soon you'll come to a level that requires more stars than you have to unlock. That's when it starts getting tricky. You have to go back and finish the earlier levels again but this time within a time limit. This is harder. This will take a lot of restarts. But each level's so quick that you persevere. You start earning more stars and unlocking more levels, making more progress. But then you're stopped again by another level demanding even more stars than those you have by 2-starring every level so far. This is when it gets really tricky. There's a maximum of three stars available for each level, but to get the third star you have to go back and redo the earlier levels in an even shorter time. No, a ridiculously short time. You won't see how you can possibly do it, but with each death and each restart your time slowly creeps down. Maybe you try a different route through the level? Maybe there's a robot you could shuriken rather than slicing with your sword that might shave off a couple of hundredths of a second? Because that's what it comes down to. You'll be swearing in frustration at finishing the level 0.02 seconds outside the defined time, and you'll hit the reset button, and you'll try again. You'll shout and scream and persevere, and slowly but surely you'll start to earn those three stars per level, and slowly but surely you'll unlock more levels, and before you know it you'll be on the final boss and you'll have finished the game. Congratulations, you! Oh, the boss fights, I didn't mention them, there's not much too them really, a massive robo-Hitler head (for it is he who's unleashing the robot army) spewing lasers from his mouth bobs around the screen and you have to jump between increasingly obtuse platforms to reach him and sword-swipe him (no shurikens here). They're generally pretty easy to beat but, like normal levels, there are three stars available for these levels too, so you'll be retrying them hundreds of time to try and do them in the shortest time. You can finish the base game without three-starring every level, and that's as far as I've got. There is one super-secret bonus level available after three-starring every single level, but I'm just not that crazy. That's enough diversions for now. It's time to get back to the main games and trying to get through the mammoth game of Inquisitor. I've made a little progress recently, but I'm still only on the second act (out of three, I think) and the going is slow. The game is brutally hard, and according to a few things I've read, I chose the wrong class and the wrong difficulty level from the outset, but there's no way I'm going back to restart it now. Must. Slog. Onwards.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Raid's End

It turns out I had the house to myself at the weekend, so I decided to pick up Tomb Raider Underworld and see if I could blast through it and complete the series. I didn't quite manage it over the weekend, but I did finally finish it off last night. So that's it, another series down! There is still the most recent game that I haven't played yet (I don't own it yet), but I'm sure I will some day. It's a fantastic series of games that I hugely enjoyed playing through. But what's Underworld itself like? Not too bad at all. It follows on directly from TR: Legend (Anniversary in the middle was just a side step) with Lara still trying to find out what happened to her parents. It also sees the reappearance of one of the original series enemies, Jacqueline Natla. To be honest, the story's not really that great - it's pretty obvious where it's going, and it's all pretty fantastical - even for a TR game. The mythology tie-in was quite fun, though, exploring the theory of a monomyth uniting the beliefs of ancient cultures. The puzzles and platforming were pretty cool. The controls haven't changed much from the previous game, and they didn't need to. There was still the odd occasion where Lara's jump targeted the wrong platform and sent her flying off to her death, but it didn't happen too often. They did away with the focus head shots that plagued the boss battles of Anniversary, which was a relief. However, I think they went a bit too far here and did away with the concept of boss battles altogether. I don't necessarily love them that much, but they do give a sense of achievement when you beat them, and a feeling of closure that solving a simple environmental puzzle just doesn't provide. Especially as Natla's there flying around throwing fireballs at you, but you don't actually get to retaliate in any way. Anyway, I can't complain, I really enjoyed the game as a whole. I can see why they wanted to reboot it to a younger Lara in the next game, though. In general, the series has clearly improved from game to game, but I think my favourite is still the first. I'll always hold a soft spot for that game.

Next up on the series list is Shadowlands. It's an isometric RPG from the '90s. I really remember the screenshots for it in mags at the time, but other than that I don't know much at all. First up, though, I'll try and get a bit further in Inquisitor.