Now Playing: April 2016

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Since I never did a Now Playing article for either February or March thanks to my PC being out of commission, I figured I’d do one for April.

Why a week sooner than I’d usually aim to do it? This is because I don’t see myself having much time or interest in gaming in the coming weeks. My free time is more spent these days watching movies or TV. I feel it doesn’t do me any good to tell myself I’m going to play a game later on knowing I’m probably not going to bother. It’s a pointless expectation to have if my interest isn’t there when the time comes.

Now don’t take me as one of those “I’m done with gaming” types. That’s preposterous. It’s much more along the lines of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” things. Time away from playing games will ultimately help me get more excited to play them.

In these last two months I did play and beat Jak 3 (PS2) and Uncharted 3 via the Uncharted Collection on PS4. The former was fun until the final boss. Trying to shoot specific spots without any sort of auto aim in a vehicle that only shoots straight ahead is not what I call fun. The latter was fun and Drake was a wonderfully voiced character as always, but the constant big set piece escapes from crumbling structures got old very, very fast.

I also played some of the RPG Star Ocean: First Departure on PSP. It was fun for about 5 hours and, as usual, I lost interest. Rarely does an RPG keep me entertained these days.

I do want to eventually finish The Legend of Kage 2 (DS) and Bully (PS2), but those will have to wait until my gaming mojo returns.

In the meantime, I’ve watched A Clockwork Orange and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. The scenes you usually see about the movie are from the beginning section and that never convinced me to watch it. However, a breakdown of the movie via Renegade Cut showed me other parts of the film making it much more intriguing. This is something you simply cannot accomplish for me by avoiding spoilers as the Internet community would have you believe.

A Clockwork Orange was an excellent piece on society’s view on criminal punishment and rehabilitation. In that regardless of debt paid while incarcerated the victims still want a piece of payback for themselves. It’s actually quite sad and makes Alex, the main character, sympathetic by the end. At the end, though, it seems as if Alex reverts back to his old ways. Is this the case or am I reading more into it than is there?

Finally, I’ll leave you with my new acquisition of Painkiller: Hell & Damnation. Thanks for reading!

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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.

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!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II

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I don’t know a whole lot to say about the second episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 that I hadn’t already said in Now Playing: August 2014. I guess I can regale you with my thoughts on the series as a whole.

I last played a 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game in 2008. It was early in the year via the Sega Genesis Collection on the PlayStation 2. All of my complaints I had back then came back in Sonic 4. I’ve heard the games are all about speed, but I don’t notice that when I play. I was waiting around at different points in at least a few levels when I played these three games. Not that this gripe is all that much of a problem.

My biggest problem with the series as a whole is the underwater levels. These parts are slow, boring, and rage inducing. I can’t understand at all how fans of these games can stand this garbage. Clearly Sega could’ve made them much more playable or omitted them completely in Sonic 4. The levels here have the same annoying qualities as in the Genesis titles. It’s obviously a part of the classic Sonic formula and heaven forbid the underwater levels be changed for the better. These levels actually made me stop playing Sonic Advance 3 on the Game Boy Advance and Sonic Rush on the DS.

Remember that just because something is old doesn’t make it a classic and just because something is considered a classic doesn’t mean improvements can’t be made when revisiting it for a new entry.

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!

Now Playing: August 2013

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In the past month I had mentioned I was going to play the games I had which were listed under the Giant Bomb profile of the great Ryan Davis. As such I played Super Mario Bros. 3 via Super Mario All-Stars. My progress halted at World 8, sadly. I did, however, get to almost completing my currently played game, Marvel Ultimate Alliance. I think I’m on the last set of missions headquartered in Attilan and I should be finished soon at 15 hours and 28 minutes of game time up until now.

Speaking of finished games, I did that with three titles this month.

First up was Streets of Rage 2. I played a solid hour with the gentleman known as Jason_X on Backloggery. I chose Axel as usual because that character just kicks all kinds of ass. Jason chose Blaze. This is a character I usually stay away from. The damage output for her is weak and her double tap forward plus attack doesn’t make for a very good game, but as a team we put a whipping on Mr. X.

The second game to be finished two days later was Tomb Raider: Underworld. I’d talked about what I liked about the game in July’s Now Playing and my final stats were 25 out of 33 trophies, 143 out of 179 total treasures, and 11 hours and 12 minutes of game time.

And last, but certainly not least is Dragon Warrior. It was finished a week ago via the Game Boy Color compilation Dragon Warrior I & II. My final character level was 28.

It was a good thing I looked up an FAQ on what key items to collect. I didn’t remember the placement of the game’s best armor nor did I remember how to obtain the Rainbow Drop to form the bridge to the Dragon Lord’s castle from by childhood of playing the NES version of this game. Regardless, I still had a wonderful time revisiting this rebalanced RPG classic.

Thanks for reading and have a good one! :)

The NBA Jam Betrayal

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Over the last three days I went from telling you that the new NBA Jam was quite fun with only a minor grievance of not having a way to configure the controls to having a major hatred for the game’s half court camera angle for some of the events in Remix mode like Domination and 21.

I can’t stand this camera angle at all. It makes it very difficult to see where your player or teammate is when everybody’s position is reset after a basket is made. It’s also very hard to tell your distance vs. an opponent to make a block. The CPU players don’t help things by being merciless even on Easy.

I still love the traditional NBA Jam experience and the Classic Campaign was a lot of fun. I’d regularly win matches by a large margin. The biggest win being by around 22 points. I finished that mode on the 1st giving me my 20th game beaten this year. With that said, I’m not about to consider the SNES version I played many years ago to be outdated just yet.

Also in the previous blog update I brought up that I’d like to play Dragon Warrior again. I was convinced to do so not on the NES, but on the Game Boy Color compilation Dragon Warrior I & II thanks to the most recent HVGN video. I found a game only copy of this locally the very next day.

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