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Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday Update: 1/26/14


Heart of Darkness (PS1): Second straight appearance, Second all time 
Last weekend, I was only a few levels into Heart of Darkness, and my feelings about the game were less than great. However, after getting through a couple more levels, I'm really starting to enjoy this game. There's a certain amount of intrigue from me regarding the art style and animation- I've never seen anything like Heart of Darkness from a platformer. The backgrounds and enemies still look great even today. (That's purely in gameplay, by the way. The CG cutscenes don't hold up today.)

This may seem tangential, but I've been thinking about giving "Let's Play" another shot after my classic THPS2 LP from 2011:

I think Heart of Darkness (That or Tony Hawk 4, because I figured out a way to do that game some actual justice) could actually be a good game for an LP series from me. I have a problem with playing well and talking at the same time (if you can't tell from the video above), so a lower-paced game like Heart of Darkness that I enjoy would be a likely candidate for my triumphant re-entry into this sorta thing.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1):
I'm really sorry, everyone. Every time that Crash Bandicoot is brought up to me, I generally brush the series off. I never enjoyed my copy of Crash 2 (which I've owned since about 2004 or '05, actually), but I decided to try it again this week. To my surprise, I've been totally wrong about this series! The platforming is actually pretty tight, though not quite perfect. The level design is good, the enemies are fun to fight, the boss fights are actually pretty decent, because they're (surprise) not awful and an absurd spike in difficulty to take all of the enjoyment out of the game. No, actually, the boss levels in Crash 2 are fairly enjoyable! Looking forward to finishing this one, actually.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip (PSV): Second Straight Appearance, Second All-Time
I figured out another thing I like about this one! The "Championship" (known as "Grand Prix" in Mario Kart [and who am I kidding, of course I'm just using this like Mario Kart]) mode works much differently than in Mario Kart because there's no consistency among computer-controlled drivers between races. Much like a human would, performance of every racer fluctuates between tracks. This means that a cup win doesn't have to come from a perfect performance on every track because goddamn Dry Bones keeps getting second and there's really no breathing room if he wins this next race, but a consistently high-place (getting first doesn't hurt) will keep you in the hunt just as well. Also, you can redo individual tracks in championship mode, which is much more preferable to going back and retrying all four tracks just because you were unlucky on the third one of four.

Silent Hill: Book of Memories (PSV):
I love seeing mixed reviews of a game nowadays. With many games, there's a sort of consensus about quality, where many critics have the same general opinion on most games. In researching games, you're only going to need to see two or three reviews to have a general understanding of what everyone thinks of a certain title. This wasn't exactly the case when I first started paying attention back seven or eight years ago. My first encounter with with mixed reviews came from Pokemon Channel for the GameCube. Nintendo Power gave it like 22 stars out of 25 or so, and EGM (which I trusted a bit more at the time) was less positive, saying the game deserved a 4/10 or something like that. Due to the way games are designed now, and the way that game websites and magazines work today, you'll be pretty sure of how good something is, especially if it's a big-budget title, with only a few reviews.

Silent Hill: Book of Memories (much like a number of games on the Vita) doesn't exactly have that. I have seen some fairly favorable reviews, and I've seen the opposite. As for me, at the moment, I lean more towards the positive side. Though I've never tried a Silent Hill title before this (and I'm sure that my lack of experience with the series influences why I have a favorable opinion), I'm enjoying the story, and I like the way the gameplay "karma" system works. I'm not very far into it, so be on the look out for what I think of it in the future.

Well, that's all for this week. I guess it's Monday...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Update: 1/19/2014

I actually played quite a bit this week, but I only really have opinions on a few of these games so I'm going to go with conciseness rather than making you hear about the 15 minutes on Sunday night that I played "Last Gladiators: Digital Pinball" for the Saturn.

Tearaway (PSV)- For me, Tearaway stands out from most games because I was excited for it before it came out, and I wasn't disappointed in any way, and in fact, I actually ended up being pleasantly surprised. (The last two titles that I was really excited for pre-release were Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Heroes of Ruin for the 3DS, and though neither of them were of low-quality, I had some complaints with them.)

But Tearaway was just about the best game I have played in the past two or three years. I think I said the extent of what I needed to say about the quality of the game last week: if this ends up being the PS Vita's Alien Vs. Predator (That is, the best title on a console lacking much else), I'd be fine with that. Luckily...

ModNation Racers: Road Trip (PSV)- There exist other good games on the Vita, and this is one!  I am and always have been in love with the Mario Kart series, and I was jealous of PS3 owners when the original ModNation Racers was released a few years back, especially after I was so underwhelmed by Mario Kart Wii in 2008. The idea of a customizable kart racer was what really sold me on this series, and it would have absolutely been a purchase that I would have made for the PS3 had I owned one.

But I have confused you enough. ModNation Racers: Road Trip has some of the best kart physics I've ever experienced. The system of items could be called "exactly the same as Lego Racers for the PlayStation" for what that's worth, but that's not an issue really, the system works well. The only aspect making me still consider Mario Kart 7 a superior experience would be the track design, which isn't anything special.

This gets a heavy recommendation from me.

Heart of Darkness (PS1)- The Horror... The Horror
get it

like the book
Actually the first bit of this game, a cinematic sidescroller from an era in which cinematic sidescrollers could profit, infuriated me beyond belief. Past that, though, I've actually enjoyed the sort of puzzle-platforming Heart of Darkness provides. I'm only a little bit of the way into it.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (Saturn)- I have started using the Suns for some reason. I don't know quite why. Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle work well together, and I have a feeling that Danny Manning's stats are increased due to the lack of Barkley (Charles Barkley's likeness couldn't be found in any NBA games after about 1992). The Saturn version takes a while to get used to, especially if you've played the SNES or Genesis versions before.


Well, that's about it. I've considered adding a video segment to this bit called "purchases" where I talk about purchases I've made, but I don't think I will until my ego gets even more inflated. This week I did finally find a PSone with the little flip-top screen on it, which will be great for this semester in school!

See you next weekend

Sunday, January 12, 2014


I purchased a PlayStation Vita this week and it was mostly what I played, so be ready for that-

Madden 2003 (GameCube)-
Okay this again. The 2003 season started with a blowout over New England (like 17 points in a 20 minute game) and then another win over Buffalo and then a loss to Oakland in a chokejob in the last 5 minutes (I only lost by 3, but I was up by I think 7 in the fourth quarter). Chad Pennington is a much better quarterback than Vinny was, and somehow Chrebet got moved down a string to make room for some rookie that I forgot that I drafted. Then I think I won another, and then the home rematch with the Bills came up. In week 1, Bledsoe got hurt and Alex Van Pelt (read that Pro Football Reference link there. Van Pelt spent nine seasons with the Bills and started only eleven games, having to back up Rob Johnson, Bledsoe, and Todd Collins throughout), then got hot as shit, threw for like 300+ yards and I think is only trailing Brady, Manning, and Couch (Keep in mind that Couch is good in Madden 2003). They won by like 17 points, and in GameCube Era 2003, I'm campaigning #VanPelt4MVP. So I think I'm 4-2 or 5-2. Doesn't matter because the Patriots are definitely 1-5

I need to stop playing this game

Tearaway (Vita)
I made an interesting development in the past two days. I started playing Tearaway immediately after I received my Vita in the mail from Bezos' house. (I was supposed to get the game on Saturday but Jeff's a real nice guy so it ended up being shipped in the same box on Friday) Now, I never got the chance to play a lot of LittleBigPlanet, (It came out the year after I bought an XBOX 360 to play a classic reboot and I regretted that decision for a while) but MediaMolecule has always been on my "yeah look out for games from these people, you'll want them" list (currently one of two developers on the list with Nintendo SPD [the Warioware devs]) and I'm glad that their's was the first game that I decided to try out for the console.

To state it simply: I knew that Tearaway was one of my favorite titles ever (I mean Top 5 ever at the moment) probably the most quickly of any others. So much of this is nearly perfect. Tearaway is enjoyable enough to justify a 240 dollar purchase in my mind. To put my experience in perspective: The first few levels don't have a jump ability, and I was able to get over that.

I had a hard time playing fucking Ocarina of Time because you can't jump. But I kept going with Tearaway somehow. (and you get to jump later on) I love this game and I really don't want it to end.

NHL '94 (Sega CD)
Ah, yes, back to stupid fucking Sports games you stupid fucking jock idiot fuck you
Actually my friend Matt ordered this game from Jeffbaby (or actually I think it was an independent seller on Amazon) for the Genesis, but the seller sent him a Sega CD copy. He doesn't have a Sega CD, but I do (I think I'm one of the only people in Olathe under the age of like 25 who he could have given it to), so he gave it to me in exchange for my Genesis copy. It's just about as good. I like the use of redbook audio, even though that's about the only difference that I can find between the two games.

I think that's all. I downloaded Gravity Rush for the Vita from PS Plus and played the first level, but I didn't have much room to also have The Walking Dead (which was bundled with the console) downloaded, so I had to let it go.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


This is a thing I want to do on Sundays in which I update people on the wonderful goings-on of myself and games. This week started in 2013 and ended in 2014, though I played games ranging from 2002-2013. Here they are:

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (GameCube):
I recently bought this game for the first time even though I played a bunch when I used to rent it from Blockbuster Video back in 2004 or so (Is there still a Blockbuster somewhere? I hope so, and I want to go). Don't worry, it's still very good. I never liked Mario Tennis as much as Mario Golf for whatever reason (I had a friend who swore the other way and we'd argue about that a lot).
When it comes to Mario sports games, this was always the best for me because it was a pretty solid golf game with unrealistic course design. (Necessary prior information: I've never been a fan of any sort of special moves in sports games) Toadstool Tour's on the fringe of my "games I wholeheartedly recommend for the GameCube" list. (That list includes Aggressive Inline and The Simpsons: Road Rage)

Madden 2003 (GameCube):
Alright, playoff time, narrative time:
I picked the Jets, not a great choice because they have two quarterbacks who are of equal skill level but neither of whom is exactly a legend (Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington, overall rating of 76 and 75, respectively), and I lost my first three games in the '02 by a combined total of ten points. But then, holy shit, I had a shootout (I hadn't scored more than 10 points in any of the first three games) with Jacksonville and won that game 31-28 or so, then beat Cleveland (a respectable team in 2002, interestingly enough), Detroit (still bad), Kansas City (hilariously bad in this game apparently), and like 4 others including Buffalo and found myself at 8-3. I lost to Miami again, then went 2-1, losing my last game to a very good Green Bay team because Vinny got hurt.

But then the playoffs came. I ended up at 11-5, second in the AFC East to Miami and ended up a wild card, playing Drew Brees and the 9-7 San Diego Chargers, a team that I would have no trouble defeating if I could score some points. I couldn't score any points on offense, and I lost 13-10 on a last second field goal, almost identical to the way I lost to Buffalo in week 2.

The Stanley Parable (PC):
Well, guess who FINALLY got around to this? People kept telling me this game was perfect for me after it came out, but I didn't get to play it for a while until they lowered the price in December. I finally got around to it this week and they were right. It's hard for me to explain, but I love humor in games (generally if your game is actually funny I'll rate it really highly) and it had a bit more of an emotional affect on me than I thought it would. I've heard this game be both praised and criticized for being a 3D "Choose your own adventure" and I can see that. I consider that a strength, though.

Antichamber (PC):

I finally got around to this one as well! Each puzzle felt rewarding and it made me feel dumb at points, which I consider a good quality for an puzzle based adventure. The black and white art style highlighted how dirty my monitor is so it loses points for that I guess

But no the art style may have actually been my favorite part of the whole game. The way that color highlighted answers that I hadn't thought of, everything was great. Every time that I got stuck somewhere and I ended up back in the antichamber, the ever-decreasing time limit brought so much suspense to a somewhat serene experience. I totally recommend this.

That's about all of it. I played some some more Soul Hackers on New Year's Eve at some point but that was like 5 minutes or so and I don't really count that.