Now Playing: March 2020

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Back in December I mentioned that I had played a number of racing games. This time the variety has arrived.

The big game this time was Syndicate’s single player. I enjoyed what I played, but it seemed to not allow the player to utilize the special abilities that it had available at most times. There are these armored enemies that are invulnerable to attack until disabled. The final boss (or at least what I expected) had this issue along with high damaging attacks. Any of those special abilities also can’t be used against these enemies or this boss. This lead to a frustrating fight that felt very cheap and uninteresting to finish. The multiplayer portion I played years ago still remains much more worth playing.

Trine 2: Complete Story was more of the same when compared to the first title. Because of this I felt less interested to continue after 12 stages of a total of 20. The frustration of Syndicate’s last boss fight continued with the PSP version of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. This isn’t the same game as the home console versions and I did go into it knowing the difficulty. The first boss here wasn’t hard to figure out. The game cooperating was an issue. It didn’t seem like the animation was programmed for the better.

The rest of my time was spent with the old school side of gaming.

* Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition — I played this against Usagi704 where his Lipsyncher was devastating. I also had a trial mode win streak of six. That’s the game’s survival mode.

* Super Chase H.Q. — I was able to get to the final of five stages (or rounds as the game calls them) on the allotted three continues. It’s quite tough, but it’s still a fun first person style of the third person original arcade game, Chase H.Q. Maybe some day I shall complete that fifth and last round.

* Axelay — The still fantastic looking Super Nintendo shoot-’em-up from Konami. It’s overall more basic playing than other similar shooters at the time. It’s wow factor is from the weapon switching, music, and the superb graphics. I was able to get to the very end on Easy after many tries. Eventually I used a Game Genie (the horror) to get seven lives instead of only three. This did help me in beating the game (and, yes, this still counts, you macho masochists).

* Galaga, Double Dragon, & Double Dragon II: The Revenge — These arcade classics are easy and quick ways to have fun for a few minutes. The Arcade Game Series release of Galaga has the great feature of allowing you to start on the last stage you’ve reached. Mine is currently on stage 88. No online high scores can be set this way, but that’s to be expected. The first Double Dragon can also be called “Back Elbow: The Game.” Just execute that very move on every enemy for the most damage. In Double Dragon II this move is more enemy specific plus the game is overall more challenging. I finished Double Dragon and also effectively did so with an endless game like Galaga.

Game of the Year 2014 – Worst Game

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For the worst game I played all of last year it’d be too easy to give it to a game which I utterly hated playing. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is the perfect example of this. I didn’t enjoy that game at all, but anybody who knows me already knows I have rarely if ever enjoyed my time with a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Two other contenders for worst game are Crime Fighters and Assassin’s Creed III. The former is an old Konami arcade beat-’em-up. It definitely isn’t their best brawler by a long shot. Their two sequels, Vendetta and Violent Storm, are much better. The latter game is the typical Ubisoft glitchfest that we’re very used to seeing these days. It’s not a big shock it isn’t good.

The winner is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I played this last January and I wasn’t impressed by the simplistic storytelling or the idea that I’m supposed to care for these characters more than I actually do. The attempt to have a heart-warming story was laughable at best. Also the fact this game was developed by Starbreeze Studios is surprising because they’ve worked on better games already. Go back to those titles and leave this pretentious work in the forgotten past.

Game of the Year 2014 – Biggest Surprise

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Surprises can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes it can be a game with an easier challenge than one would expect. Castlevania: Dracula X is a good example of this for me. It still has its moments of higher difficulty with expert enemy placement to trip the player up. However, seeing many opportunities to fall into a bottomless pit during the fight with Dracula can be intimidating. Surprisingly, as the award is titled, it was much less of a problem than it seemed at first glance.

Another surprise was the online co-op mode for 2012’s Syndicate. In single player the game is very by-the-numbers in design, but the co-op makes for a much more exciting and fun experience. When I teamed up with friends, which I enjoy doing anyway, the teamwork needed to finish a level was very satisfying.

Despite those two games above being a fun surprise, no game surprised me more than Hotline Miami. I’m not one to jump to quickly purchase a digital download version of a game even when praised as much as this one was. It’s a good thing I didn’t because I was given a free code to download the game on Steam. I played a bunch of games I’d had sitting on the Steam service and not touched in 2014. Hotline Miami was surprisingly much more fun than I was expecting. I even did a speed run of the game in 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The weapons and masks for certain abilities are all fun to use. The hospital level I could’ve done without, but at least it served its storyline purpose. A very brutal game which would also win the Most Viscerally Satisfying Game award from 2011 if I was offering it up this year.

Hotline Miami comes highly recommended and I don’t say that lightly.

Now Playing: September 2014

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During this previous month of September, I played a bunch of Syndicate co-op on PS3 along with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Hotline Miami, and Bastion via Steam.

My thoughts on the Sonic game and Hotline Miami are already laid out if you wish to read them.

As far as Bastion goes it hasn’t been very engaging like I was hoping for. I think my interest in the game had mainly to do with Greg Kasavin being involved with the development of it since he is working with a talented team at Supergiant Games. I always enjoyed his work from his time at GameSpot and respected his opinion a great deal. However, despite all that and how wonderful looking Bastion is, the minute-to-minute gameplay is rather boring to me. I hate to say it, but that’s simply the way I feel about it. I’m not finding myself drawn back to play it. Bastion is just there.

Syndicate, though, was a very fun co-op experience even if pretty tough at first. The reason for the high difficulty is that the game doesn’t scale the challenge down for a group those numbers are any less than the maximum of four. If you go at it along for with only one other person it can be mostly an impossible task. Otherwise the levels are tough, but doable if you take your time and don’t rush things.

The other side of the coin is also a reality. Once you’ve ranked up enough and have better abilities and skills, since it doesn’t scale the difficulty, the missions become quite easy. You can take a two or three man team of maxed out players and “Rambo” your way through will little care. This even goes for the usually tough enemies called agents. These guys sometimes heal each other in a similar way you can with your teammates via hacking. I eventually found the perfect combo of the Backfire ability and a shotgun to the face made quick work of any agent who was on my backside.

When all was said and done with Syndicate’s co-op, I pulled a “Call of Duty” and skipped over the single player campaign. I mean when you have an awesome game like Hotline Miami, that you didn’t know would be awesome at the time, in your immediate future, you just don’t have time to waste on mediocre story mode.

For more of my thoughts on Syndicate make sure to check out episode 52 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast!

Lastly, don’t forget to vote for what I’ll be playing for Halloween throughout the month of October. Details here!

Hart & Usagi Podcast #52: Castlevania

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We have a special edition of the Hart & Usagi Podcast for you this time. We’ll be focusing our discussion on the Castlevania series past, present, and possible future. What’s our favorite games of the series? Well you just have to listen to find out. JiibayDan is our guest once again and as usual he’ll give his unique insight into the topics on hand.

Enjoy the show and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast today!

NEWS/TOPICS:
* Yooper problems
* Syndicate and online co-op
* Tearaway
* Air Zonk
* Azure Striker Gunvolt
* Sleeping Dogs
* Google Didn’t Buy Twitch Because of Potential Antitrust Issues – Report
* Report: FCC Considering Reclassifying Broadband Providers as ‘Common Carriers’
* Nintendo unveils ‘new’ 3DS, 3DS XL
* Sega unsheathes Yakuza Zero: The Place of Oath
* Bayonetta 2 gives Wii U a new ‘do on October 24
* Castlevania series

Listen or Download (2:17:41)

Subscribe: RSS | iTunes

Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | WP blog

Dan: @JiibayDan | That Dan Stinehart Blog | ~Natively Awkward

@HartandUsagi

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Now Playing: August 2014

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From intriguing to frustrating is how I’d categorize my time with Assassin’s Creed III very early in the month. The story and controls are decent, but pickpocketing in general and specifically later in the game was annoying as hell. I was able to get in 19 hours and 34 minutes of playtime with the game before I was fed up.

I moved onto Castlevania: Symphony of the Night because of the number of others who where playing it at the time of US Gamers’ “Club” playing this very game. It was the first ever time playing the game myself. I had known of it and played many of the other SotN style of Castlevania games on the GBA and DS, but this was a first playing this classic of 1997. I have to say I found the difficulty very easy overall, but it did spike briefly at the beginning of the game and at the start of the inverted castle. Speaking of the inverted castle in the second half of the game, I found the movement around it to be clunky at best. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had traversing areas in games. I did very much enjoy the nods to the NES games Simon’s Quest and Dracula’s Curse. The former reference was needing to collect the body parts of Dracula to be able to face him and the latter was referenced by the 3-on-1 handicap boss battle against fake versions of Trevor, Sypha, and Grant. My final stats were Lv. 51 with 191% of the castle(s) explored at a total gameplay time of 12 hours and 5 minutes.

More of my thoughts on the series can be heard in an upcoming Hart & Usagi Podcast episode as well as this Pick 5 blog post of which you can read now.

Other games I plan on playing soon are those that were bought as gifts for me on Steam namely Bastion and Hotline Miami. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II was also purchased for me and I’m beginning to think it was a practical joke played on me by Neal of ++GoodGames. I have never cared much for the Sonic series. Even when I played Sonic 2 a few years ago I didn’t think it was anywhere near as awesome as its reputation claims it is. I did finish it, but I was glad it was over instead of feeling like I played a dynamite game. The same can be said for Sonic 4. I’ll never understand what’s so fun about the games to those who love them.

My current played game is Syndicate on the PS3. Specifically I’m playing the co-op missions with Usagi704 and RivalShadeX. If you would like to join in the fun as we always can use a fourth player, then drop me a line in the comments below or via DM on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Brothers: A Tale of Heavy-handed Storytelling

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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was released for download on all three major platforms, PS3, X360, and PC, in August and September of last year. It recently became free for PlayStation Plus members. I had a free trial for the service running and decided to take the game for a spin.

The heavy-handed storytelling began right away as it desperately tries to get you to care for the mother of the siblings despite you know nothing about her. In fact, the biggest failure of the story in Brothers is that the characters are never more than 2D and flat. It doesn’t help they speak in gibberish, but this isn’t a problem in a game like Klonoa because we still get subtitles. That’s not the case here. The most you get is some pantomiming which only can convey the most basic of thoughts. It’s certainly not enough for me to care.

The controls are unique where you use the analog sticks to control each brother independently and, from what I understand, were only ever done similarly in The Adventures of Cookie & Creme on the PlayStation 2. The only buttons used are L2 and R2 which help with general interaction with the world.

My brain had the most trouble dealing with walking the siblings down a path when they’d cross to the opposite side of the screen. When I’d stop to reset and regain my bearings the refresh would usually only last about 30 seconds at the most.

Another problem control-wise was at the last part of the game. This is where you control the younger brother independently. You eventually come to were you have to swim and using R2 for his interactions doesn’t work. He simply refuses to swim. There’s no other path to take and no indication whatsoever to the player as to how to advance. It turns out you need to use L2 (the older brother’s interaction button). Why does that work? Did he feel his powerful spirit to carry on? It’s never explained.

And that’s the overall problem I have with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Everything is just too vague. I mean, I’m no dummy. I certainly don’t need things spelled out for me. It just would’ve benefited from a better way to tell its story. I can say I’m glad I played this game, but I’m also glad I didn’t pay the $15 asking price. It’s certainly not worth that much even with the pleasing graphics. There isn’t any value in replaying it unless you want all 12 trophies.

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Hahaha! Oops! XD

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Cut a leg off to clear the way. How could you. *sniff*sniff*

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*Unreal Tournament announcer* “Headshot!”

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Winner of the Buried Alive match is Mophead #2.