Friday, 14 October 2016

Grand Vault Dweller Slam

I finished up Fallout 1 last night. I've played and completed this before, so there weren't really any surprises (well, I had a couple of random encounters in the desert that I hadn't seen before). I knew what I was doing in the game and it was quite an easy playthrough. Mechanically it's a bit patchy in parts, but it's an old game and it all holds together pretty well. The atmosphere and sekaikan (to use a ponsey Japanese phrase) are what make it, though. It's an excellent piece of world building with a bunch of very different locations and well fleshed out characters. The dialogue is excellent (with pretty good voice acting, too) with just enough background lore, but the overarching feeling that you're discovering everything from scratch in a world where someone hit the reset button. The graphics are great - still - with the right level of decay to them and an excellent sense of place. I don't know if Fallout was the first piece of media to mix that 50s aesthetic with a nuclear apocalypse, but it works incredibly well, and they're still mining that rich seam today (in fact, I'd really love to get Fallout 4 to play at the end of this and finish the series...have to see if the GotY version is on special offer by the time I get there!). There are also a lot of role-playing options throughout the game, offering a different route through certain situations (I'm obviously boring, and played pretty much the same way I did in my previous game. The only difference being that I talked the Master to death this time, rather than blasting him away last time). The mechanics I think pull it down are simple, but annoying things - the worst is characters constantly getting in the way and having to be asked to move (why couldn't they have just let you run through them?), and that annoyance with the view extends to the way that they chose to have the isometric view fade away when you're behind a wall so you can always see your character. Nothing wrong with that, but it's a bit more annoying when it's not a wall you're standing next to, but a door that you're trying to open and now you can't see it. The other thing I don't really like is the way that the inventory works, especially as it pertains to bags and stacking. It's a minor quibble, but it does take a slight glimmer of shine of an otherwise brilliant game. It still is a brilliant game, just with a few things that make me huff when I encounter them! Next up is Fallout 2, which I thought I'd played, but I don't remember what I've looked at so far, so looking forward to going in blind.

I'm also going to say goodbye to Grand Monster Slam. It's a weird game. Beginning with the manual, where the devs wrote a massive backstory for what is essentially a very simple sports game. You have a row of balls (beloms) on your side, and the opponent has the same on his side, and you have to kick them all over onto the other side, and then run across into his end zone to win. The opponent is constantly kicking your balls back to you (and vice versa), so the strategy is to try and knock the opponent over with your ball, giving you a lull where you can kick some more balls over, then attempt to do the same thing again. Do this enough times, and you should get the break you need to get across the pitch. You can kick the balls in different directions at different strengths, so there's a fair bit if strategy involved in pushing the opponent over to the sidelines (a bit like tennis, I guess) so they take longer to get back over the other side to return your balls. You can also attempt to kick a ball into the opponent mid-run if he's trying to get over to your side (and they can do the same to you). That bit's fun enough. There are also a couple of mini games, one between each bout, and another between each stage of the competition...and I was completely rubbish at those. It's not such a problem if you lose the ones between each bout, because you just lose a few points, but if you lose the one between the competition stages then you can't advance and have to play through the entire stage again. Great. So I never made it out of the first league, even though I never actually lost a match while playing that league. Ah well. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Oscar! Ooh, I remember the demo of this platformer from back in the day...not great, in a bodaciously '90s way. Ah well, it's a only platformer, what could possibly go wrong?

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